830 - Die vierte Inkarnation
The Fourth Incarnation
William Voltz

The SZ-1, that contains the incarnation, is separated from the Sol for safety. Rhodan ignores two things, though: the sphere contains actually the three incarnations of Bardioc: Vernoc, Clermac and Shernac. But the kidnapping has caused another unexpected event: Bulloc -- the Fourth incarnation -- awakens. This incarnation is more powerful than the other three combined and it decides to get rid of them, because they are useless to its plans.

Bulloc realizes that it is prisoner in the Sol but the Terrans are no match for it: it quickly takes mentally control of the crew of the SZ-1 and forces the rest of the Sol to put the spaceship together. The ten thousand crewmembers of the Sol are now under the control of Bulloc. Only one person has escaped Bulloc's influence: a man called Gahlmann who developed a disease that caused him to regress to the status of a rodent. Unfortunately, Gahlmann's intellectual abilities have also degraded and he cannot understand what is going on.

Alerted by Rhodan's crystal which suddenly started emitting strong impulses, Puukar and his fleet of three hundred ships heads toward the Sol. When they arrive, they realize that the four incarnations are on board the Terran ship and get ready to destroy it altogether. Rhodan contacts Puukar and manages to get a one hour reprieve by reminding the Choolk that he is also a loyal servant of the Empress of Therm, as his crystal proves it. Puukar reluctantly agrees.

On his way to the sphere, Rhodan bumps into Gahlmann who bites him. Bulloc is at a standstill: he cannot escape with the Sol since the Choolks will open fire immediately, and he cannot flee by himself or the Terrans will destroy him as soon as he leaves the Sol. Rhodan offers to come as a hostage inside the sphere. This way, the Terrans won't open fire on the incarnation, and he can disappear before the Choolks realize what's happening.

Impressed, Bulloc accepts. He asks Rhodan to get rid of his crystal and then incorporates him inside the sphere. Then he disappears. The Choolks understand they have been duped but the sphere is out of sight before they can react. Atlan tries to find clues as to where the sphere went, but except for a dark stain left where the sphere used to be, Rhodan's crystal left on the floor and the body of Gahlmann, who committed suicide, he has no idea where the incarnation fleed.

Atlan has no choice but order that the Sol return to the Earth since it has now been freed from the Baby Majesty. He hopes that some day, Rhodan will give them a sign.

Cedric Beust

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