789 - Der Spieler und die Fremden
The Player and the Strangers
H.G. Francis

The second planet of the sun Cousterbouths used to host an intelligence called the Graviholl. This entity is immaterial and spends its life manipulating live beings by planting thoughts and illusions in their minds. When the star exploded, the Graviholl found shelter in one of the debris of the planet, and it is now wandering in the matter cloud.

The Graviholl influences the thoughts of Tschubai and the other passengers of the Silkworm, making them believe they have been transported to diverse fantasy worlds. The Hulkoos are not spared either, and one of them gets expelled from the spaceship because his commander thought that he was rebelling against Clermac.

The Silkworm gets attracted to the asteroid and lands there. The Terrans rescue three researchers, Tail Daloor, Froul Kaveer and Ranc Poser. The spaceship they used to reach the asteroid gets destroyed by the Hulkoos but Tschubai manages to save their life at the last minute. The Silkworm is forced to take off to escape the Hulkoo spaceship, leaving Galto Quohlfahrt and Icho Tolot stranded on the asteroid, who soon discover the body of the dead Hulkoo. The Silkworm reaches the Sol and Rhodan immediately dispatches the SZ-1 to rescue them.

The Graviholl reveals its presence to Quohlfahrt and explains to him that he will take control of the SZ-1 as soon as it appears. Under the influence of the entity, Quohlfahrt is forced to lure the SZ-1 near the asteroid, but as the Graviholl gathers its forces to teleport itself on the SZ-1, the Terran regains his senses and manages to warn Rhodan at the last minute. The spaceship erects its Paratron shield and the Graviholl is hurled in hyperspace.

Cedric Beust

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