Colonel Olrik is the perennial antagonist of the Blake & Mortimer comic book series. He first appears in the three part epic "The Secret of the Swordfish" (though this is not the first time he confronts Francis Blake and Philip Mortimer in the comic's timeline). He has appeared in every book of the series except for "The Time Trap" and "The Oath of the Five Lords". When he is first introduced to Blake & Mortimer he is said to be from Central Europe but not much else is known about him outside of his exploits throughout the series.
He sometimes acts as the main villain, but is often a willing, reluctant or coerced aide to the primary antagonist. He is shown to be a consumate actor, and like Blake is able to use disguises that are good enough to fool Mortimer. Known to be extremely ruthless, he has killed numerous other characters during the series and has no qualms in leaving his fellow villainous associates to fend for themselves when he is forced to flee when his plans inevitably go awry. He displays huge confidence in his abilities despite repeated setbacks and imprisonments (mainly at the hands of Mortimer) and is an experienced hand to hand fighter.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Plutarch's Staff
- 3 The Secret of the Swordfish
- 4 The Mystery of the Great Pyramid
- 5 The Yellow "M"
- 6 The Septimus Wave
- 7 The Francis Blake Affair
- 8 The Strange Encounter
- 9 The Curse of the 30 Pieces of Silver
- 10 Atlantis Mystery
- 11 The Voronov Plot
- 12 The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent
- 13 The Gondwana Shrine
The following lists the books in which Olrik appears in chronological order according to the main timeline in the Blake & Mortimer universe (flashbacks within a comic are ignored for simplicity). At the end of some books it is not clear what Olrik's fate is yet he always manages to re-emerge in some new scheme, often the very next story.
The year is 1944, near the end of WWII. Olrik is first introduced to Blake & Mortimer at the Scafell secret base as a Slavic languages expert, one of many experts working in different fields who are aiming to bring about victory for the Allies against the Axis. He is later revealed to be the man seen earlier in the story aiming to obtain the secret blueprints of a new superweapon known as the Swordfish invented by Mortimer.
A man named Hasso who had fled from the Yellow Empire after Emperor Basam Damdu took control is shown to be staying in the same quarters as Olrik at the base. Olrik catches Hasso red-handed looking through documents intended for him and reveals himself as a spy for Basam Damdu. He is about to shoot him when Hasso claims to also be a spy. Olrik accepts his story and brings Hasso into his service. Unbeknownst to Olrik, Blake arranges for Hasso to act as a spy for the British in the Yellow Empire.
Meanwhile Blake starts to piece together observations he has made about Harvey & Brandon Clarke (revealed to be twin brothers) who are soldiers in the British Army and a possible connection to Olrik due to the car he drives. He suspects the Clarke brothers are traitors working with Olrik.
When they are exposed, Olrik helps Harvey Clarke flee after he shoots his superior attempting to arrest him in London. However Olrik declares that he is now useless to his master and proceeds to shoot him and dumps his body in the Thames. Olrik then goes to rendevous with Hasso and return to the Yellow Empire. As the story concludes, we move forward to 1946 and the Yellow Empire is now locked in a Cold War with the rest of the world, while Hasso has managed to become a captain in their army.
The Secret of the Swordfish
The Yellow Empire has finalised preparations for a large scale war. Olrik is the chief of intelligence and military advisor to the Emperor. In the capital Lhasa, he gives orders for his Imperial troops to begin a global attack on all the major developed nations of the world, aiming to conquer them before they can fully mobilise their forces.
Hasso secretly listens into Olrik's attack plans and goes home to warn Blake at Scafell secret base, but one of Olrik's men spots his eavesdropping. Olrik promptly arrives at Hasso's home and shoots him, but not before Blake & Mortimer hear his message. Olrik aims to capture the base intact and the Swordfish plans with it, but Blake & Mortimer evacuate the base and blow it up, escaping with the plans in their aircraft the Golden Rocket. While this happens the Yellow Empire completes it's conquest of the world.
Olrik spots the Golden Rocket and gives chase in his aircraft the Red Wing. The Golden Rocket immobilises his aircraft but another Imperial squadron arrives and cripples the aircraft, seemingly killing all the crew as they are forced to parachute out. However some survivors (including Blake & Mortimer) land in Iran.
Olrik, not convinced that Blake & Mortimer are dead, scontinues searching for them. His suspicions are proven correct as the pair are captured but escape before Olrik can take custody of them. Discovering a piece of paper left behind by them before their capture he lies in wait at the rendevous point they are heading towards.
He and his troops are left dumbfounded though as Blake & Mortimer (with the help of their new ally Nasir) unexpectedly make off with his Red Wing located nearby. Olrik is informed of their location in a town named Turbat by his spy Razul. He sends in some Imperials to capture them and races towards the town himself.
...However the capture fails as rebels attack the Imperials in a heated gun battle. Olrik arrives in his car and gives chase to the fleeing trio but soon gives up when a bridge he needs to cross is destroyed.
Olrik then turns his attention to the coast as that is where they are heading and his Imperials finally capture Mortimer atop a pyramid during the night. Olrik suspects he was searching for something but his men are unable to find anything. Blake & Nasir disappear without trace.
Three months later, he returns to Lhasa and is brought before the emperor's Grand Council, who are unhappy with his failure to make Mortimer talk, and the first signs of Olrik's own plans to overthrow the emperor are shown.
Returning to Karachi where Mortimer is held, Olrik is about to give up and have him killed when Mortimer suddenly appears to give in and starts talking about the Swordfish. Olrik seems to succeed in winning Mortimer to his side in his own plans to overthrow the emperor. Suspicious, he has his ally Li watch him. Leaving to deal with an incident involving the sabotage of a railway but suspicious, Olrik orders Li not to leave Mortimer alone with Fo, who the emperor sent to help Mortimer recreate the Swordfish plans but whom Olrik correctly suspects is spying on him.
Olrik hears Nasir has been spotted in Karachi by his spy Razul and returns, but is too late to stop a fleeing Mortimer who escapes in a helicopter sent by Blake. Olrik sends his Imperials in pursuit, and they attempt to sink the S2 submarine that Blake, Mortimer & Nasir have escaped to.
A month has passed since the submarine incident, and it is unclear what the fate of the submarine is. Olrik is kept under increased surveillance and is suspected of double dealings and attempting to obtain the Swordfish plans for himself. Meanwhile a convoy carrying technicians and intellectuals to a concentration camp of the Yellow Empire is attacked by commando of soldiers (later revealed to be under the command of Blake) who manage to free the prisoners, including two men named Jack Harper, a former security chief, & Donald Bell, a nuclear engineer. They become fast friends as Bell twice saves Harper's life.
The prisoners are brought to the Makran secret base located underneath the Strait of Hormuz where numerous intellectuals, technicians and scientists have gathered together in a combined effort to bring about global freedom for the world. Mortimer is close to constructing Swordfishes in preparation for the fightback against the Yellow Empire.
Two explosions cause the base to black out and lose 75% of it's power, and Bell is revealed to be a spy who gained Harper's trust and stole his identity in order to access the power plant. Mortimer rushes towards the atomic sector, fearing that is the spy's next target. He finds the spy trying to steal radioactive materials from a safe and he is revealed to be none other than Olrik himself, who pulls a gun on Mortimer.
Olrik reveals he decided to infiltrate the base personally (with the prisoner convoy as a ploy) to salvage his prestige. He is forced to flee without being able to make use of the materials he was after due to the arrival of Blake & Nasir. Attempting to flee the base, Olrik knocks out a man who is part of the diving team and steals his suit, joining a team preparing to relieve their counterparts in the S2 submarine. Olrik slips away and manages to reach the shore, despite briefly being recaptured by Blake.
Olrik makes it to the coast where his spy Razul is waiting for him, and he sends him to alert all available forces to converge on the now discovered base. Olrik, aiming to capture the base and steal the Swordfishes instead of destroying them, is unaware the defenders are buying time to allow two Swordfishes to be constructed in time, and soon two of the machines emerge (the first piloted by Blake, the second by Mortimer), finally revealing their awesome power for the first time by destroying the entire Imperial fleet. Olrik, defeated, heads back in Lhasa.
The emperor, blind wth rage, prepares to fire his entire atomic arsenal in vengeance, with Olrik strapped to the first missile to be launched due to his failures. However a fleet of Swordfishes arrive and destroy Lhasa, killing the emperor and seemingly Olrik as well who simply laughs at his former master's demise.
The Mystery of the Great Pyramid
In this adventure, set in Egypt, Olrik is first seen talking over the phone with a man named Abdul Ben Zaim. Abdul is assistant to Ahmed Rassim, an archaeologist and friend of Mortimer, who had invited him to decipher his latest finds at the Egyptian Museum. These finds include mention of the chamber of Horus, built in honour of the heretic pharaoh Akhnaton but long thought only a legend. Olrik is particularly interested in locating the chamber and obtaining the treasures said to be contained within. He has Abdul discreetly examine these documents and pass information onto him.
Abdul enters the museum at night (along with Olrik) to steal the papyrus describing where a secret passage to the chamber is located. Meanwhile Mortimer, who had become suspicious that Abdul was intending to steal the papyrus, stole part of it himself and aimed to catch him in the act of stealing the rest at night having carefully watched his movements uring the day. He unexpectedly runs into Olrik and is knocked by him. Noting part of the papyrus he stole is missing, Abdul informs Olrik who recovers the fragment from Mortimer. Abdul deciphers the text which allows Olrik to start excavating around the Sphinx in order to find the entrance, using the unsuspecting eccentric Egyptologist Dr. Grossgrabenstein who has a permit to start excavations.
Later Olrik learns two of his accomplices, Razul (from the Secret of the Swordfish) and Youssef have captured Mortimer who had been making his own investigations into the whole affair but before he can question Mortimer the police arrive and he is forced to flee. He is then revealed to be staying at a hotel under an assumed name along with another accomplice Sharkey (who also features in a similar role in later stories) after a frightened Abdul panics and calls him despite orders not to do so. The police surround the hotel but he drugs Mortimer (the only person able to identify him) and escapes.
Abdul, who has become fed up with his role in the whole business, is knocked down and killed by a car driven by Olrik & Sharkey before he can spill the beans. Desperate, Mortimer calls in Blake for his assistance. Blake himself has been dealing with an international gang of traffickers whose activities have become more widespread. The telegram tells Blake that Olrik is in charge of the whole operation and he heads for Egypt. However he is seemingly killed by an assassin named Jack on a stopover in Athens by the orders of Olrik.
Olrik & Sharkey are next seen on the excavation site at night, spotted by Mortimer who gives chase but is forced to give up when he runs into a local named Abbas, who claims he was sleeping.
Mortimer meets Grossgrabenstein at his home to warn him of the danger he might face but Mortimer realises the person is in fact Olrik in disguise when he accidentally drops his accent. Olrik pulls out his gun but Mortimer is quicker with his and shoots Olrik's gun out of his hand before fleeing. However Mortimer is soon captured when the house's security system gives him an electric shock on touching a door handle. A gloating Olrik then tells Mortimer he will make him disappear by shoving him in a sarcophagus.
Soon afterwards the police arrive, alerted by an unknown bystander (later revealed to be Blake who was disguised as Abbas) who also sabotages the security system. Olrik and his accomplices are surrounded and defeated but Olrik abandons them and gets past the police by once again disguising himself as Grossgrabenstein, revealed to have been tied up and locked in the cellar.
Olrik then proceeds to go to the secret passage alone, succeeding in finding the chamber and it's treasures. His celebrations are cut short however when Blake & Mortimer arrive, having followed his every step. Olrik however manages to reach his gun and fires shots that cause part of the chamber to collapse, seemingly killing both Blake & Mortimer but blocking the exit. Olrik tries to find another way out by going down to the moat surrounding the chamber but finds crocodiles, which seem impervious to his gun, and the water level rising.
Cursing Akhnaton in whose chamber he is now apparently doomed to die, he prepares to destroy his mummy, only for the local man Sheik Abdul Razek, revealed to be the guardian of the tomb and it's secrets, to appear suddenly and strike him down, causing him to lose his mind, leaving Olrik to wander aimlessly off into the desert to an uncertain fate.
The Yellow "M"
In this adventure, Olrik is revealed to be the mysterious Yellow "M", a man with seemingly supernatural abilities, including invulnerability and superhuman strength, that was committing numerous crimes throughout London. However he is merely a puppet of Dr. Jonathan Septimus, the main antagonist of the book. Septimus has invented a machine known as the telecephaloscope, which allows him to make anyone do his bidding by guiding, controlling and stimulating what Septimus calls his or her "Mega Wave".
Olrik had become a kind of wild madman thanks to the punishment received from the Sheik in the last novel, and was aimlessly wondering through the Sahara desert when he was picked up by the authorities. Septimus, while working as a doctor in the Sudan, took him under his care and returned to England, intending to use him as revenge against the men who rubbished his theories about the Mega Wave. Septimus gives him the derogatory name Guinea Pig. After successfully having Olrik steal various artifacts including the Imperial Crown, Septimus then has him kidnap the key figures who ostracised him.
However Septimus does not know Guinea Pig's true identity, which proves his downfall as Mortimer successfully disrupts the control Septimus has over him by exploiting a weakness in his invention. An enraged Olrik turns on Septimus, killing him with the telecephaloscope. Olrik, finally free, notices Mortimer and is about to launch himself at him when the police arrive, forcing him to flee and escape into the sewers.
The Septimus Wave
In the sequel to the Yellow "M", we see Olrik taking morphine as he tries to banish the memories of being a test subject for the telecephaloscope, which is giving him recurring nightmares about Septimus and the control he had over him. However he soon finds himself forced back into the same role thanks to a new group of influential people (named McFarlane, Rowena, Bailey and Evangely) who are followers of Septimus and wish to continue his work. They also capture Mortimer to help with their experiments but he nearly kills Olrik while trying to damage the telecephaloscope.
Meanwhile figures of Septimus start appearing all around London, and appear to all be searching for Olrik. Olrik confronts Mortimer while they are both locked up, preparing to take revenge for nearly killing him, but Mortimer convinces Olrik that he panicked and only wished to stop the experiments from continuing. A whole horde of Septimus figures converges on their location, and Mortimer divulges his theory to Olrik and the followers of Septimus that an unknown external source may be behind all these figures appearing. Overwhelmed by the numerous Septimuses, McFarlane, who cares for Rowena, sacrifices himself to allow them to escape with her into the sewers.
Olrik, deprived of morphine for too long, is unable to continue on and expects Mortimer to abandon him but instead Mortimer helps him and brings to another location where he has set up his own telecephaloscope experiment. Olrik agrees to be a test subject again in order to nullify the external source stopping him from regaining his reason. The external source is revealed to come from a hostile force in an alien spacecraft buried deep under King's Cross in London, and Olrik sacrifices his sanity to destroy the threat. He is last seen being treated at Bedlam Hospital.
The Francis Blake Affair
Olrik is first seen when Blake discovers him to be involved in a network of foreign agents working on British soil, along with Jack, the assassin who tried to kill Blake in the previous novel. Blake appears to have turned traitor and joined his network, but Olrik has him shoot one of his Blake's own former agents (Fielding) in order to prove his good faith. Blake tricks Olrik into thinking he has done so, knocking out both Olrik and Jack before fleeing with Fielding.
Olrik next appears in a plane, surprising both Blake & Mortimer who are getting closer to unmasking the network, and luaghing as some of his men prepare to capture them. He captures Blake just as he finally discovers the traitor in the British Intelligence Service who was sending information to the network, and triumphantly informs Blake of Mortimer's apparent death after jumping off a cliff before having him locked up.
The plans of Olrik and his allies are thwarted when Mortimer is revealed to have survived and freed Blake and his deputy Honeychurch, having entered their base secretly. Mortimer also manages to knock out Olrik, but while the rest of his allies are captured by the SAS who were called in by Honeychurch, Olrik recovers and manages to escape in a plane.
The Strange Encounter
In this adventure, set in the USA, a hidden Olrik is first seen conversing with Jimmy Tcheng about retrieving an item referred to as a ray gun from Mortimer. The plan fails when the man sent to retrieve it is killed after falling over a railing. The man is revealed to be wearing a mask that covers what appears to be an alien-like face.
Later Mortimer chases Tcheng after discovering he also wears a mask, but after Tcheng is killed and Mortimer wounded during a storm he finds himself captured by two more of Olrik's masked allies. Olrik then reveals himself to Mortimer and takes him to his master, the Yellow Emperor Basam Damdu, long thought dead in the bombings of Lhassa. Damdu then orders Mortimer's execution which Olrik gleefully awaits, but Mortimer is first told the truth behind the whole situation he finds himself in.
The masked men are revealed to be descendants of the current human race from 8061 whose features have come about due to mutations caused by nuclear wars in the 21st century. These bitter descendants saved Damdu and some of his men from the bombings of Lhassa hit them by using their own time travel technology. They plan to invade & colonise earth in the 20th century with Damdu as their leader, Damdu reappointed Olrik as his military advisor.
After hearing this, Olrik takes Mortimer to a nearby lake. Mortimer pleas for Olrik to not side with the despotic emperor but Olrik refuses simply because he wants to be on the winning side. A disgusted Mortimer punches Olrik and Olrik angrily orders for him to suffer the agony of drowning (originally just wanting to end his life painlessly out of respect). Unbeknownst to Olrik, Blake, who was watching the whole incident hidden nearby, sends divers to save Mortimer.
Olrik then puts the next plan of action into effect by seizing nuclear warheads that are being transported but this is foiled by Blake, Mortimer & their American allies. Olrik escapes with one of the warheads. Arriving at Hoover dam he is stunned to find Mortimer with his allies waiting for him. In arguably his most evil moment in the entire series, he arms the bomb and prepares to take millions of people with him rather than surrender. However Jessie Wingo shoots Olrik and Mortimer disarms the bomb before it detonates. A wounded Olrik is finally captured for the first time in the series.
The Curse of the 30 Pieces of Silver
Olrik has been incarcerated in the Jacksonville Penitentary following the events of the Strange Encounter, but a trio of unmarked helicopters attack the prison, killing many of the guards and knocking out prisoners using sleeping gas. An unconscious Olrik is lifted aboard one helicopter and the attackers make their escape, though one guard, merely wounded, manages to shoot down one of the other helicopters.
Later on, having been sedated for a few days, Olrik reawakens on board the Arax, the private yacht of the very wealthy businessman Belos Belukian, currently in the North Atlantic. His former henchman Jack is now employed by Belukian. Belukian explains to Olrik that he helped him escape as he is impressed by his previous exploits and wishes for him to assist in his plans to obtain the 30 pieces of silver that Judas was paid to betray Jesus by locating the grave of Judas where 29 pieces may be found (the other is locked away in a safe at a museum where Eleni's uncle is the curator). Belukian's real identity is revealed to be Colonel Rainer von Stahl, a former Nazi war criminal who wishes to revive the Third Reich and obtain mastery over the world using the evil spiritual power of the 30 denarii. Olrik eagerly goes along with his plans once he realizes he will be able to get revenge on Mortimer and become very wealthy at the same time.
Olrik and Jack go on a mission to obtain a manuscript that reveals the name of a Greek island where information on the grave's location may be found. Mortimer manages to take it from them after Olrik accidentally knocks himself out in a frantic foot chase through a village and Jack is wounded by Jim Radcliff, a journalist and ally of Mortimer. The name of the island is revealed to be Syrenios but Mortimer and his unsuspecting allies decide to sail there on board the Arax (von Stahl is the boss of Jim's newspaper who gladly gives them use of his yacht and presents himself as a harmless yet interested businessman). Swiftly captured, Mortimer tries to escape, but falls into another trap when Olrik forces him into a lifeboat with no provisions and leaves him stranded in the Aegean Sea, with Olrik laughing triumphantly as the Arax sails away.
The Arax sails to Syrenios, but is tailed by MI6 agents led by Blake as well as John Calloway and Jessie Wingo, two American FBI agents who first appeared in the Strange Encounter and revealed Belukian's true identity in Part 1. However an informant in Athens warns Belukian of their arrival and he lures into a trap by abandoning his yacht and torpedoeing it once they arrive, killing two agents. Olrik is unsatisfied though as Blake & Mortimer (who had been rescued by Blake) are both still alive. He sees a chance to finish off his foes as Calloway and the other surviving MI6 agents are forced to abandon them, leaving Blake & Mortimer along with Jessie helpless in a lifeboat, but von Stahl lets them escape as part of his new plan to allow them to find the remaining 29 denarii so he can exchange them for his hostages later.
The trio, with the help of Eleni who had apparently escaped von Stahl's clutches, discover the burial place of Judas. They find a sailor willing to take them to Crete in his boat (allowing them to continue onto Athens) but Olrik is also on board, revealing the sailor to be an agent. Olrik intends for them to have an "accidental" death at sea, while leaving on a motorboat with Eleni who is to be brought back to von Stahl. However as he prepares to shoot Jessie himself in revenge of his imprisonment in the Strange Encounter, Eleni rushes him and he is knocked overboard.
The boat, rigged to explode, forces the four friends to build a raft, with Olrik now their prisoner. They are rescued by an English couple who are cruising around the sea, but once they reach Athens they find Olrik has unexpectedly escaped thanks to the help of someone on board. Blake & Mortimer, along with an experienced caver named Konstantinos, travel to the place where they hope to find the grave of Judas, which they succeed in doing, only to be interrupted by von Stahl (revealed to have finally obtained the denarius locked away in a safe), Olrik and his other henchmen. Eleni is revealed to have helped Olrik escape from the boat in the hope of setting Jim and her uncle free. Jack kills Konstantinos, forcing Mortimer to hand over the remaining 29 denarii.
A gleeful Olrik now prepares to finish off his enemies at long last, but everyone is left stunned as Judas himself has risen from his grave, and God's wrath comes down upon von Stahl, incinerating him and causing an earthquake that results in the cave collapsing. Olrik, unperturbed by his master's demise, tries once again to finish off Blake & Mortimer, but falls through a fissure caused by the earthquake, and his fate is once again left uncertain.
This adventure is set on the island of Sao Miguel, part of the Azores, said to be one of the emerged summits of the lost continent of Atlantis. Mortimer is on holiday and exploring some caves when he discovers an unidentifiable mineral (called unobtainium) in a cave. He tells Blake about his discovery, but a letter is intercepted by an enemy force. Olrik is shown attempting to steal the unobtainium from the villa where Mortimer is staying, but an unidentified masked man appears, stuns him and takes it himself. Olrik is forced to flee once we reawakens before Mortimer returns, and his boss simply laughs off the story of his failure.
Blake & Mortimer make their way to the place where Mortimer found the mineral, but their guide is bribed by a disguised Olrik and two accomplices pretending to be their porters. Olrik goes down into the caves with the duo, but attempts to steal another lump of unobtainium that Mortimer had unearthed after trapping them in the cave. Gloating too soon, he is struck by a rock thrown by Blake and accidentally kicks the unobtainium out of his reach. Cursing them, he fless promising to return once they are both dead to explore for himself, but falls into a chasm.
Much later on, as the story reveals that the cave has access to the lost continent of Atlantis, he suddenly reappears as a counsellor to Tlalac, a king of barbarians who were colonised by the Atlanteans but driven away in a war so now seek revenge. He has allied with Magon, a treacherous high official of the Atlantean government, in order to conquer Atlantis and eventually the surface world too.
Their plans are discovered by Blake, Mortimer and Icarus (prince and nephew to the emperor of Atlantis) and they try to capture them. They capture Blake, but Mortimer & Icarus disguise themselves as barbarians and make their way to a sentry post, where a gong can be struck to warn the emperor in Poseidopolis (the Atlantean capital). Spotted by Olrik, they race to the gong, and their barbarian ally Kisin (who switched sides due to them saving him) is killed by Olrik while attempting to aid them. Olrik stops Mortimer from sounding the gong, but is overpowered by the latter and thrown into the gong himself, sounding the alarm. Blake reappears after escaping imprisonment and flees with the others towards Poseidopolis.
Olrik, Magon, Tlalac and their alliesmove ahead with their plans and seize Poseidopolis, temporarily claiming victory, but Blake, Mortimer & Icarus show up just as they confront the emperor. Olrik tries to shoot the prince but inadvertently opens the gates that stop the oceans from flooding Atlantis, and everyone is forced to flee the doomed city. Olrik tries to save himself and escape Atlantis, but his fate is left uncertain.
The Voronov Plot
In this story, Olrik is now Colonel Ilkor, a member of the Soviet military who works closely with General Orloff. Both are taking orders from Dr. Voronov, the main antagonist of the story and supporter of the former Soviet leader Stalin, who wishes to use a deadly bacteria as a weapon against the West and his enemies in the Soviet Union. A spy for the British, Nastasia Wardynska, successfully steals a sample of the bacteria which she sends to an ally in Moscow but is unmasked by Voronov. Blake also learns of the bacteria and Voronov's intentions from Wardynska. Voronov orders Olrik to take her to the Lubyanka prison in Moscow where Orloff is in charge and to find the stolen sample.
With the help of their own spy Miss Snead, a woman working in the British embassy, Olrik and some KGB agents intercept Wardynska's ally, a man named Sergey Puskachoy, as he tries to pass on the sample to a British agent, but fails to take back the sample as the arrival of the British agent (named Edgar Reeves) allows Puskachoy to escape.
Blake travels to Moscow disguised as an assistant to Mortimer (who's there giving a scientific conference) to try and rescue Wardynska, and also obtain the sample to allow Mortimer to be able to develop a vaccine. Entering the Lubyanka disguised as a colonel, he is unmasked by Olrik inside the British embassy. However a gloating Olrik, momentarily losing his vigilance, is elbowed in his midsection by Wardynska and knocked out by Blake. Olrik recovers and gives chase in his car, shooting and wounding Wardynska, but they safely get back at the embassy.
Snead tips off Olrik of another attempt by the British to rendevous with Puskachoy. Olrik and another KGB agent knock him out and take the sample from him just before Blake arrives, but the appearances of Reeves & Mortimer along with two other KGB agents cause a stand off. In the resulting gunfight, Reeves and the agents are wounded while Olrik flees with the sample after killing Puskachoy who makes a futile attempt to take it back. Mortimer chases Olrik onto a bridge crossing over the Moskva river, and after a brief struggle Olrik is knocked out and falls off the bridge, but not before throwing the sample into the river to stop Mortimer from reclaiming it.
However the "sample" that fell into the river is revealed to be a fake, as Puskachoy in his dying breath reveals he took precautions and hid it in a toy store. Mortimer obtains the real sample and a furious Voronov realises it is now in Britain. He sends Olrik to steal back the sample before Mortimer can develop a vaccine. He appears to succeed when he steals all the multiple samples which Mortimer had created but, unknown to him, Mortimer keeps one sample spare in a safe.
Mortimer deduces that Voronov is using children to kill his victims by having them carry the bacteria without it affecting them and kiss people, but one girl's kiss doesn't kill it's intended victim so Mortimer goes to find the child in the hopes of using her to find a cure. However Voronov also realises this possibility and orders Olrik to kidnap the child and bring her back to a USSR port via ship. Olrik gets to the ship with the child but Mortimer and the police arrive to capture him.
Later, after Voronov flees due to the failure of his plans, Olrik is asked for information on his location, but says he knows nothing. Blake uses him as a bargaining chip so as to allow Wardynska to leave the USSR and come back to Britain. The exchange takes place at the border of the two Germanys, but Olrik, not willing to be imprisoned in the terrifying gulags, flees from the Soviets, who open fire, and his fate is left uncertain.
The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent
Olrik, after serving time in a gulag, is freed and brought to Gondwana base, an Indian scientific facility in Antartica, on the orders of a mysterious masked Indian individual known as Emperor Ashoka. Olrik tries to flee but is stopped by an electromagnetic barrier turned on by Ashoka, who informs Olrik that his collaboration is required to test a new weapon. Despite being a prisoner again, Olrik eagerly goes along with his scheme once he realises his adversary will once again be Mortimer, who Ashoka also has a personal score to settle with.
Ashoka is receiving funding and logistical support from the Soviet KGB, while another Indian man called Professor Anartapur helps control the weapon. Anartapur explains to Olrik that he will be laid inside a sarcophagus in a semi-consious state (i.e. his mind will remain awake) and they will take control of his mind, sending him anywhere they want and enabling him to attack or manipulate any electrical object by travelling through waves.
Meanwhile the Universal Exposition is starting in Brussels, a collaboration between various countries with their own separate pavilions showcasing their scientific and cultural wonders that Blake & Mortimer are attending. Ashoka, targeting the exposition, starts his first test which results in Blake & Mortimer nearly being crushed by a cable car followed by a lion attack. After a couple more attacks, Blake & Mortimer discover Olrik is involved, and, with the help of their old friend Nasir, realise all the evidence points towards Gondwana being the source of the attacks, and so they depart for Antarctica.
After making it to Gondwana, Mortimer discovers how Ashoka is using Olrik for his weapon, and after discovering the whole story behind Ashoka's determination to punish him, is soon forced into being another test subject for the machine in order to stop Olrik from wrecking more destruction. Ashoka, now revealed to be Princess Gita, daughter of the long deceased emperor, is unable to destroy the exposition after Mortimer convinces Olrik to return to his body lest his mind be unable to return to it due to the sarcophagus running out of power. Mortimer, back in his body, is forced to kill Gita when she attempts to kill Nasir, and flees with his allies before the base collapses due to an impending underwater eruption. They are forced to abandon Olrik who is shown to be slowly awakening from his sarcophagus, but as the next story will reveal, all is not what it seems.
The Gondwana Shrine
Some months after returning from Antartica, Mortimer is shown to be just leaving his doctor who diagnoses that the memory lapses and headaches he is suffering from were caused by an unusually strong shock suffered during his time in the sarcophagus. The doctor recommends he take some rest and perhaps finish his memoirs.
Mortimer meets up wth Nastasia Wardynska (from the Voronov Plot) who had finished examining a mysterious rock he had given her from his adventure in Antartica, and she concludes that the carvings on the rock suggest an intelligent civilisation existed on Earth some 350 million years ago, at a time when the land was one supercontinent called Gondwana and long before humans were known to have existed. Discussing the findings with Blake at the Centaur Club, the latter suggests he go to see Mr Stone, the archivist at the Daily Mail whose intervention in the Yellow "M" proved crucial. Searching his archives, Mr. Stone recalls an article with a picture of a ring with the same carvings, which Mortimer discovers was found in Eastern Africa, so he makes preparations to travel there. Mortimer then meets up with his former love Sarah Summertown, a highly respected author and archaeologist, for her views on the stone's carvings, but being the thrill seeker that she is will only share information if he allows her to come to Africa with him. Wardynska, also seeking an adventure, comes along too, arranging plane tickets and visas for Nairobi.
While all this is going on, a grey haired man is discreetly following Mortimer wherever he goes, including discovering the article which he looked at in Mr Stone's archives. He sees the trio leaving Heathrow airport and manages to overhear their destination. On the evening of the same day, this man goes to Blake's home and enters his bedroom, threatening him with a gun, saying he will hand over his pistol only if Blake will listen to everything he has to say. Blake gives his word despite suspecting his true identity due to his voice, and their conversation continues into the night. The next morning Blake has a letter sent to his deputy and the following morning the man, calling himself Matthew Bowler, arrives at Heathrow airport, takes a suitcase Blake's deputy had prepared for him and leaves for Nairobi.
In Nairobi, Bowler tracks down the trio, staying at their hotel, and in his room removes the disguise he had been using up to that point, revealing himself to be Olrik, and puts on a new disguise just in case Mortimer had marked his face back in London. The trio book a small plane that will take them to Arusha, from which point they will then travel on to the lake where the ring was discovered. The disguised Olrik travels with them, pretending to be simply travelling to visit his gravely ill brother. In Arusha he visits the market, where he saves a young Maasai called Uru from a local trying to steal his necklace, but friends of the local ambush him and start to beat him, removing his disguise in the process.
At this point another man enters the scene, and he is revealed to be Razul (also known as the Bezendjas) who at first wants revenge on Olrik for abandoning him to the authorities in the Mystery of the Great Pyramid but then relents when Olrik offers Razul a share of the treasures he claims will be unearthed when the Gondwaba civilisation in discovered, as well as a chance for revenge on Mortimer. Razul hires Youssef (also from the Mystery of the Gteat Pyramid) who has a dirigible used to show tourists around the area along with his assistant Baku.
They discreetly following the trio who are travelling to the lake in a truck with a guide named Bombo and his assitant Uru. A mishap causes Wardynska to fall into a river and eventually land on a bank where a lion approaches. Uru kills the lion but is mortally wounded in the process. Olrik and his allies save Wardynska from a group of painted dogs that also arrive on the scene so that her friends will not abandon their expedition, fleeing before the latter come to her aid. After making a short stop at Uru's village to bring back his body, they continue onto the lake, diving into it so as to find the underground entrance leading to the place where the ring was found, which turns out to be a kind of shrine. Olrik, Razul and Youssef dive in and follow them, but Youssef is killed by a hippopotamus. A voice guides Mortimer, Summertown, Wardynska and Bombo into another room where it outlines the history of the Gondwana civilisation, revealed to be the first generation of humans, and the terrible catastrophe that befell it.
Olrik and Razul catch up to them, and the whole mystery surrounding this story and the cliffhanger to the previous one is revealed. Olrik is in fact Mortimer, or more precisely his mind is trapped within Olrik's body, for at the conclusion of the last story, Olrik's mind leapt into Mortimer's body and stole his identity, leaving Mortimer to assume the identity of his foe. Thus Olrik had in fact killed Gita and not Mortimer. Mortimer is about to convince Summertown and Wardynska of his sincerity using his handwriting (as he had convinced Blake earlier) when Olrik pulls a knife on Summertown, threatening to kill Mortimer's second love like he had already killed his first one, but they are all interrupted by the voice of Gondwana who laments that the second generation of humans seems doomed to destroy itself like the first one did. Releasing them and erasing their memories of the shrine, they all emerge on the shore of the lake.
Olrik (still in Mortimer's body) attempts to kill Mortimer and take his body as his own forever, but Blake, alerted to their location thanks to a device he had provided to Mortimer, arrives in the nick of time to disarm Olrik, who is promptly knocked out by Bombo and captured. Olrik had managed to deceive everyone while impersonating Mortimer by reading his memoirs. Fortunately for Mortimer, Labrousse had managed to recover the two sarcophagi in the last book and he is put back into his real body with a sedated Olrik unable to resist. Olrik is once again recaptured, and the sarcophagi are dropped into the lake so that they won't be used for evil purposes again.