By Arthur C. Clarke, Paul Preuss

Panique sur los angeles planète rouge ! l. a. plaque martienne, joyau de los angeles xénoatchéologie, a été volée. Pour tout indice, deux cadavres baignant dans leur sang... L'événement est grave : ce précieux artefact, le plus ancien qu'on ait jamais découvert, constitue l'unique hint tangible de los angeles mythique " tradition X ", cette puissante civilisation qui aurait occupé le système solaire bien avant l'apparition de l'humanité... Un nouveau défi pour l'inspecteur Ellen Troy, l. a. superenquêtrice dépêchée sur position par le Bureau spatial. Et une undertaking à haut risque : " on " cherche à faire de Mars sa dernière demeure, tandis que, sur Terre, tous les écrits relatifs à l. a. tradition X disparaissent mystérieusement. Y aurait-il un lien entre le vol et ses vieux adversaires, les " prophètes ", qui ont autrefois fait d'elle une plus-qu'humaine baptisée Sparta ?

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The air is mild and sweet, filled all the year through with the fragrance of flowers. Winter does not reach so far south, and the Mannerangi, when they would see snow, go as tourists to the Huishtor peaks and gape at the strange cold coating of whiteness that passes for water in other lands. The warm sea that borders Manneran on east and south yields food enough to feed half the continent, and to the southwest there is the Gulf of Sumar as well, with further bounty. War has rarely touched Manneran, protected as it is by a shield of mountains and water from the peoples of the western lands, and separated from its neighbor to the north, Salla, by the immense torrent of the River Woyn.

Then," he said, "there were reports that the Lord Stirron had sent agents into Glin after you, so that you could be brought back for treatment. Halum feared greatly for your safety at that time. " Segvord laughed. " I told him of my snubbing at the hands of my mother's kin, of my stay in the mountains, and all the rest. When he had heard that, he wished to know what my plans were in Manneran; to this I replied that I had no plans other than to find some honorable enterprise, and succeed in it, and marry, and settle down, for Salla was closed to me and Glin held no temptations.

She told me her age: a year older than Halum (and I also). She told me she was unmarried, having recently terminated an unpromising engagement to a prince of an old but unfortunately impoverished family of Mannerangi nobility. She explained her resemblance to Halum by saying that her mother and Halum's were cousins, as well as her father being brother to Halum's, and five minutes later, when we walked arm in arm, she hinted scandalously that in fact the High Justice had invaded his elder brother's bridal couch long ago, so that she was properly half-sister to Halum, not cousin.

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