80 - In den Höhlen der Druuf
Caves Of The Druufs
Kurt Mahr

Rhodan, Bell, Atlan and Fellmer Lloyd have been captured by the Druufs and have been taken to a gigantic planet in the Siamed System. The planet possesses a strong gravity and a methane atmosphere. The equipment of their jail consists of an artificial gravity generator. Rhodan immediately develops a plan to provoke variations of gravitation in order to attract the attention of the base on Hades. The signal doesn't pass unobserved by the Druufs, who put an end to the attempt and separate the prisoners. But the gravitational variations are received well on Hades. They are localized in the Siamed system, on the thirty-sixth planet, called Roland, and Captain Marcel Rous identifies the signals as an S.O.S.. As only a few Terrans are familiar with morse code, Rous conceives the fantastic hypothesis that the Terrans in danger could be Rhodan and his three companions who everybody believed had died on Grautier, but whose bodies were never recovered.

On Earth, Freyt and Deringhouses discuss the political situation. Thomas Cardif, the son of the presumed dead Administrator, has claimed his birthright as Rhodan's successor. After a demonstration of his partisans, Cardif's cause is damaged in the eyes of the public. Betty Toufry announces to Deringhouse and Freyt that she has received a weak telepathic communication emanating from the mausoleum of Ernst Ellert - a call for help regarding an unknown third person in the Druuf universe.

On Roland, Rhodan and his companions are not locked in: the Druufs trust the atmosphere of methane and ammonia in the passageways to keep them confined. But it doesn't stop the Terrans, who explore their jail, stun the commander of the base and seize a weapon.

Deringhouse, Pucky and Ras Tschubai arrive in the base on Hades. The mousebeaver must enter into telepathic contact with Ernst Ellert who occupies the body of the Druuf Onot. Finally Ellert appears by seizing the body of Captain Rous. He reveals that the Druufs brought back four Terran prisoners a few days ago who they consider as important. He also gives the location of the base on Roland. The reflections of Deringhouse take the same path as those of Marcel Rous: could Rhodan be among the prisoners?

The four Terran prisoners pursue their escape attempt. They obtain a Druuf spacesuit, which they adapt somehow to their size and look for an emitter, but they must face the Druuf robots which have been put on alert.

Aboard a Gazelle, Deringhouse, Pucky and Ras Tschubai arrive on Roland to rescue the four prisoners. Tschubai teleports into one of the rooms, but he is surprised by the elevated gravity and overcome by a Druuf. Rhodan and his companions find the exit of the base and risk going outside (after obtaining more spacesuits), despite the strong gravity. The Gazelle landed close by, but the robots give chase to the escaped prisoners.

In addition to the robots, the fugitives must face a rising storm. Rhodan is put in difficulty, because his spacesuit is pierced. Pucky attempts to rescue Ras, but he is paralyzed in his turn. The two teleporters are brought before the commander of the base. They regain consciousness, and to the big surprise of the Druufs, dematerialize. Back in the Gazelle, the mousebeaver is able to locate the four escaped prisoners and bring them back on board. The Gazelle takes off at full speed, under fire from the Druufs. Just before its destruction, the commando team evacuates the Gazelle by matter transmitters and arrive in the base on Hades.

Michael Mahoney 2012-08-31

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