17 - Planet der sterbenden Sonne
The Planet of the Dying Sun
Kurt Mahr

(1975-76) Rhodan and crew struggle to identify the strange galaxy into which they have been transported. Rhodan orders the ship to remain where it is until they can determine their location. His patience is rewarded when the galaxy of 56 stars proves to have been an illusion. Once the true state of their surroundings is revealed, Rhodan discovers that the logical path to have taken (towards the nearest star in the illusory galaxy) would have put them on a course straight into the system’s sun.

They investigate the lone planet circling the dim and dying sun, a planet they name Vagabond. Although their instruments detect no sign of intelligent life of the planet surface, on board ship strange if inconsequential mishaps begin to occur, as if telekinetics were toying with them. A force under the command of Lt. Tanner begins to explore the surface of the planet. Telepathic mutant Fellmer Lloyd detects mysteriously mixed signals combining impulses of childish playfulness and blind, destructive hate. The expedition force discovers herds of unintelligent mouse-beavers.

An android impersonating Lloyd attempts to assassinate Rhodan. The real Lloyd tells a story of being captured by robots with two legs and multiple arms, which manufactured the android assassin.

Increasingly serious incidents of telekinetic interference threaten the Stardurst,, as though the hidden source had grown bored and had to find more challenging shipboard systems to interfere with. Meanwhile, on the planet surface, the patrol expedition faces attacks demonstrating an ability to control and use gravitational shifts as a weapon.

Lloyd leads them back to the underground base where he had been held prisoner. There they engage and destroy several of the hostile robots. A huge gravitational disturbance (triggered by the slow decay of the system’s sun) incapacitates the remaining robots, which are found to be the artifacts of a now extinct colony some 35,000 years earlier. The robots prove to have organic brain material in their control systems, and to have been programmed to seek out and annihilate any alien presence “invading” the planet. Lloyd informs Rhodan that the instinct for hate had disappeared, and only the instinct for play remains.

Rhodan leads his force through a long, compact tunnel discovered under the hills, where they discover burrows dug by the mouse-beavers. These prove to be of intermittent intelligence: simple animals at night; possessed of limited intelligence, telekinetic powers, and childlike playfulness by day. In their burrow, Rhodan finds what the immortal unknown had left for them to find: a chart of the galaxy, revealing the way back to Terra’s sun (Sol) and to Vega … and indicating the position of a planet without a sun, which Rhodan concludes to be the planet of eternal life, traveling on a great elliptical orbit through space. Terra forms one of the focal points of the ellipse.

Mark J. Golden 2007-07-13

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