19 - Der Unsterbliche
The Immortal Unknown
K.H. Scheer

(1976) The Stardust arrives in Vega only to find that the system's sun has inexplicably gone into an accelerated process of going nova. John McClears, in command of the Good Hope-class “guppies” has been patrolling Ferrol and planning whatever evacuation operations his eight ships might manage, and is relieved to see the great ship's return. Rhodan recognizes that once the system is destroyed, the chart locating the wandering planet of the immortal unknown within the Vega system will be useless and they will lose the trail forever. He concludes that finding the immortal unknown is the only chance of unlocking the secret of reversing the Vega sun's decline and saving the Ferrons.

The Stardust follows the chart, and is subjected to a massive battering from unknown forces. Chief Engineer Manuel Garrand manages to hold the ship together, while Rhodan's key decisions find the way to withstand the attacks. They discover the planet, dubbed Wanderer, which proves to be a huge, flat disk, covered with oceans, forests, mountains and prairies, its atmosphere held beneath a huge protective done of energy.

Landing on the planet, Rhodan must overcome a final challenge, unraveling a threat that includes reacting to human figures transported to the planet from the earth's past.

John Marshall determines that the immortal unknown (henceforth referred to as “IT”) is not a single entity, but rather the collective consciousness of an entire race, which has given up its physical form. Rhodan allows Crest to present himself to the being, but the Arkonide is rejected. “IT” informs Rhodan that the Arkonides (as had at least two other races before them) had been given 20,000 years to find him, but their time was past. Now Rhodan and the human race are being given a chance to establish peace and order in the universe.

“IT” creates an android (consisting of both organic and intotronic (sixth dimensional) artificial intelligence) to serve as Rhodan’s attendant on the planet (in Heft #32, it is given the name Homunk.). “IT” gives Rhodan a cell treatment that arrests any aging for a period of 62 years. Rhodan is allowed to designate one other to receive treatment, and he chooses Bull. The android informs him that they must return every 62 years for additional treatments.

Mark J. Golden 2007-07-17

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