85 - Kampfschule Naator
Conflict Center: Naator
Clark Darlton

A group of two hundred recalcitrant Zalites who are resisting mobilization by the Arkonides hide in the mountains between Tagnor and Larg. A member of this group, Rhog, dreams of an action which will prove the resistance of the planet to the Arkonide authority. He convinces his chief to institute and carry out an operation to murder Admiral Calus, the military governor of Zalit, and it is he that is designated to accomplish this patriotic act. Rhog gets under way toward the capital, hoping to join a caravan. One evening, he stumbles by chance on the concealed camp of a group of Zalites. Are they Traders? Deserters? Rhog is unsure but he is soon captured by a sentry. The ten Zalites of the group immediately discover that the papers of Rhog are false. Rhog pretends that he wants to join these Zalites who happen to be traveling to Tagnor. The chief of the group, Murgo, agrees to allow Rhog to accompany them. They will leave, he says, as soon as someone has delivered to them certain materials.

Flashback: Terran agent Jeremy Toffner travels to the city Larg where, under the identity of Garak, he convinces Hhokga the animal trader to help him organize a caravan to transport important equipment to Tagnor. That caravan is the one that will eventually meet Rhog. Toffner cannot help but have a premonition of doom while setting up this equipment transport.

Rhodan and his group of false-Zalites wait for transportation to Arkon. Thanks to the teleporters, they maintain the link with the double of Calus, Sergeant Roger Osega, and with Major Rosberg in the catacombs.

Three Terrans, disguised as Zalites, are discretely teleported to the hiding place of the transmitter, where Murgo and his caravan waits for them. The three Terran soldiers activate the transmitter, and on the agreed time, the equipment is sent from the light cruiser CALIFORNIA. The packets are confided to Murgo and his caravan. One of the Terrans remarks that there is one more man than expected - Rhog - but their chief doesn't judge it important. The convoy takes the road to Tagnor. Rhog realizes the difficulty of his mission, but he is inspired to carry it through. He must nevertheless be on his guard and avoid saying too much about it to Murgo and his companions.

A new contingent of draftees is embarked for Arkon. This time, Rhodan and his Terran commandos are part of it. They leave Major Rosberg on Zalit, with instructions not to contact them by hypercom except in cases of extreme emergency. Unfortunately, a setback waits for Rhodan and the Terrans: they don’t land on Arkon itself. The Arkonide Admiral Sénekho greets the new recruits in a military training camp on Naator, a moon of the fifth planet of the Arkon system.

The future soldiers must submit to a new medical exam, more extensive than the one they underwent on Zalit, and this exam is led by the Aras, the Galactic Physicians. The Terrans are at risk of being recognized immediately, either by a test of intelligence, or by an x-ray of their skeleton which is very different from the Arkonide skeletal type of the Zalites. The hypno, Andre Noir, must take all the Aras under complete mental control. In order to give him sufficient time for this difficult task, the teleporters carry an extensive operation of sabotage on Naator. While Ras Tschubaï places several bombs throughout the training camp, Noir and Okura search the hospital for the Aras. The first contact with the chief physician fails and turns into disaster, because the Ara surprises Noir by means of a surveillance device. Fortunately, the intervention of Okura diverts the attention of the Ara allowing Noir to successfully gain mental control of the Ara.

The sabotage attempts bear fruit. Admiral Sénekho suspects a rebellion of the Naats, and he forbids them access to the military facilities. This requires some modifications, however, in the organization of the camp, and the medical exams are temporarily suspended. Tako and Ras continue to scatter some bombs everywhere on Naator, adding to the confusion. Noir puts this delay to good use and “treats” the other Galactic Physicians. Finally, the acts of sabotage can stop. The medical exams take place and the Terrans pass undetected due to the excellent work of Noir. While all seems to be going well on Naator, bad news arrives from Zalit...

Murgo and his men arrive in Tagnor. An Arkonide officer discovers the false papers of Rhog whom he stops, while he allows the rest of the caravan to enter in city. Rhog succeeds in escaping the vigilance of his guards and disappears in the maze of the old streets of the capital.

Meanwhile, Pucky and Calus-Osega discuss the overall operation’s progress. The convoys of Zalite recruits heading to Arkon have been suspended, without the false-admiral having been informed of the reasons. Pucky sees the hand of Rhodan in this fact. The material sent by the CALIFORNIA has been safely routed to the underground hiding place of the arena. Pucky and Osega talk about an Arkonide officer under their hypnotic control who contributed to the equipment’s safe arrival. As an aside, they also mention that he is the officer who intercepted an extra Zalite in the caravan to bring to the Terrans, but unfortunately, this Zalite (who unknown to them happens to be Rhog) escaped. The mousebeaver believes that this Zalite is a deserter. He has been unsuccessful in locating the Zalite by telepathy.

Temporarily safe, Rhog continues with his one-man suicide mission. The Zalite succeeds in entering the Zalite capital’s broadcast station at the time of Calus-Osega’s daily speech. He kills Osega whom he believes to be the real Arkonide admiral but immediately pays for it with his life. His heroic act is a major setback for the Terran operation.

Rosberg informs Rhodan of this reverse. The body of the false-Calus is going to be repatriated on Arkon where it is to be buried with honors due its rank. If an autopsy is carried out, the anatomical differences between Terrans and Arkonides would immediately betray the substitution. Rhodan orders Major Rosberg to intervene with the mutants.

In the meantime, the Terran commandos on Naator are given an Arkonide battlecruiser of eight hundred meters in diameter, the KOR-VELETE, under the command of Ighur-Atlan and Sesete-Rhodan. The officers will continue to train their men on this spaceship. Many authentic Zalites are added to the crew, forcing the Terrans to control their behavior.

The squadron to which the KOR-VELETE belongs carries out several trial flights, to the satisfaction of Admiral Sénekho. On Zalit, the murder of Calus entailed a hardening of the Arkonide policies. Thanks to the relations of Jeremy Toffner, alias Garak, Major Rosberg learns that the remains of the false admiral Calus are in a robot-ship ready to get under way. Pucky teleports himself on board and steals the sergeant’s remains. To erase all trace, Ivan Goratchin then explodes the vessel. The body of Roger Osega is buried in a crypt under Tagnor’s arena.

Michael Mahoney 2011-09-09

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