1 - Unternehmen Stardust
Operation Stardust
Clark Darlton

It is June 19th, 1971. The cold war between Communism and Capitalism is at a stalemate. At Nevada Fields, history is about to be made. Four men are about to be sent on the firs\ t manned mission to land upon the moon. Major Perry Rhodan. nuclear physicist and ion reaction engine specialist is the commander of the STARDUST. His second in command is Capt\ ain Reginald Bull, elctronics technician and ion reaction engine specialist. Their navigator is Captain Clark G. Flipper, mathematician with a specialty in astronomy. The final\ member of the crew is Lieutenant Eric Manoli, physician and geologist.\r\n

\r\nLift-off occurs at 3:02 AM without an incident. When the STARDUST prepares for landing on the \ moon, however, everything begins to go wrong. A powerful jamming wave envelops the STARDUST, preventing the ship from receiving the radio signal for the engines to fire and slo\ w descent. The ship is forced to make a hasty landing beyond radio range on the far side of the moon, but one of the landing struts is damaged.\r\n

\r\nBack on Earth, Allan D\ . Mercant, head of NATO\'s intelligence agency, calls a meeting of the people involved in Project Moonshot. Although a theory is floated that the jamming is the result of inter\ ference from a Chinese rocketship that launched at the same time, Mercant disbuases them by revealing that the Chinese ship exploded shortly after launch.\r\n

\r\n36 hours af\ ter their emergency landing, the crew is prepared to take action. It takes 5 days to repair the damaged strut and another day to prepare the linar vehicle. While Manoli and Fli\ pper stay with the ship, Rhodan and Bull will drive the lunar vehicle - resembling a small tank - to a point where they can establish contact with Nevada Fields. At the moment \ they do so, Rhodan and Bull find their antenna destroyed by a ray of greenish light. Making their way to where Flipper had previously calculated the jamming originated, the two\ men find a spherical spaceship.\r\n

\r\nAboard the ship, they meet Crest, scientific leader of the ship and Thora, commander of the ship. They are representatives of the Ark\ onide Imperium and search for a legendary planet of eternal life in order to save Crest\'s life as he is dying of an unknown disease. Although the Arkonides as a race are degen\ erating, Thora and Crest are two of the more active members. Thora treats the humans as slime and is about to order their death when Rhodan remarks that Earth has just begun th\ e conquest of space. This causes Crest to interfere with Thora\'s decision and save the lives of the men from Earth.\r\n

\r\nThe STARDUST is brought to the Arkonide ship and \ Manoli examines Crest. He reveals that Crest is suffering from leukemia, a type of cancer for which a cure was recently found. The finder of the cure is Doctor Frank Haggard, a\ physician who lives in Australia, and the only person from whom the cure is currently available. Rhodan makes plans to bring Crest back to Earth with him to help cure the alie\ n scientist.\r\n

\r\nReturning to Earth, Rhodan diverts the STARDUST away from Nevada Fields and America and instead lands the ship in the Gobi Desert in the People\'s Republ\ ic of China. Ignoring the cries of traitor by Flipper, Rhodan reveals that he intends to set up a neutral third power between the two power blocs of Communism and Capitalism as\ it would be the only way to secure Crest\'s safety and the eventual unification of humankind. After convincing the others, Rhodan exits the ship and stares at the stars for a \ moment. He has a vision of a vast fleet of spaceships belonging to Earth. After the vision fades, he removes the rank insignia from his uniform.\r\n'

Cedric Beust 2005-02-20

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