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2 - Die dritte Macht
The Third Power
Clark Darlton


The day after the return from the moon, Perry Rhodan is discussing the situation with the other members of the STARDUST crew and Crest. Crest feels slightly better in the atmosphere of Earth. He tells Perry that Thora has sent along a force field generator, three psychoradiators capable of influencing a person's will at less than full power or paralyzing a person if used at full strength, a video broadcast set for communicating with the Arkonide ship on the moon, and the gravity neutralizer. Bull informs Perry that there is some interference with their radio reception - they are only getting a Chinese broadcast telling them that help is on the way.

A helicopter arrives at the STARDUST encampment. In it are Marshal Roon, commanding all the land-based forces of the People's Republic of China, and Major Buta'an, member of their intelligence agency. Rhodan informs them that the STARDUST and the area around it is to be regarded as a neutral state. Buta'an regards Rhodan as a spy, but Roon believes that something else is in the air after he and the major retreat to their 'copter. Bell uses the gravity neutralizer to have a little fun with the marshal, the major and their pilot and sends them off a ways, letting them land with a few bruises. Rhodan informs Bull that he will take the helicopter to get the drugs needed to cure Crest.

Meanwhile, General Pounder, head of the military space program, and Allan D. Mercant are having a meeting. Mercant believes that Rhodan and possibly other members of the crew have sold out to the Asiatic Federation (note: this is the name given to the Asian countries that are dominated by China. In the Rhodanverse, this includes Japan), while Pounder believes just the opposite. Mercant even predicts the type of reply that Washinton will receive from Peking (note: Peking is the correct name given both the year the issue was written - 1961 - and the timeframe this issue takes place in - late June to early July of 1971). When Mercant sees the refusal notice, he is surprised to read about a green dome of energy surrounding the STARDUST. Mercant is quickly disabused of the notion that this is a device that the crew took with them by Pounder.

In China, Mercant's agent Major Perkins hi-jacks a plane and flies it toward the STARDUST, but it is destroyed when it runs into the force field.

The STARDUST is suddenly able to make contact with General Pounder. Rhodan informs his former superior that he found the remnants of a crashed alien spaceship on the moon. He will not hand its contents over to any nation and instead will use its power to ensure that no one will be able to use atomic weapons for war. He will form a neutral Third Power between the Western Bloc and the Eastern Blocs (The Asiatic Federation and the Soviet Union). After the confrontation, messages begin to fly back and forth between Peking, Moscow and Washington. An ultimatum of seven hours is mentionRhodan explains the political and historical situation to Crest, who is amazed that this young, underdeveloped race could withstand such mental stress. Rhodan decides to have Thora send an energy beam into the Ahaggar Mountains. It hits the North African mountains and the time of the ultimatum comes and goes.

In China, Mercant has sent a replacement for Major Perkins. Lieutenant Albrecht Klein meets up with Li Shai-tung of the Asiatic Federation. Their mutual goal is to stop Rhodan from imposing his will upon the world. They later meet up with Soviet agent Peter Kosnov (note: correcting from the German spelling of Kosnow).

Bull flies himself and Flipper, who has had the psychoradiator used on him, to Australia in the helicopter. In Port Darwin, Bull finds Doctor Frank Haggard and persuades him to return to the STARDUST with him. However, the next day, Bull has to rescue the doctor from the forces behind his capture and escape with him aboard a yacht. Meanwhile, Flipper is put under a mental probe and dies from the stress of the probe and the psychoradiator's hypnotic block on his memory.

Klein is able to meet with Rhodan and ascertain what his motives are and in so doing comes to believe that Rhodan might be Earth's last chance for peace.

A week after leaving Port Darwin, Bull and Haggard arrive at Hong Kong, and Bull renews his acquaintance with Marshal Roon. He uses the psychoradiator to "persuade" Roon to give him trucks and allow him to leave the area. He and Haggard are able to get to the STARDUST without too much trouble.

The political situation has become extremely intense. Messages fly back and forth between the Asians, Soviets and the West. The final hour has come and atomic missles are launched from all three, though the Soviets launch at only the STARDUST. All the missiles, however, fail to detonate. From the moon, Thora has sent an anti-neutron field to blanket the Earth, inhibiting nuclear reaction.

The power blocs of the Earth meet in Cairo to discuss the situation. At the end, Perry Rhodan has been declared an enemy of the world, along with Bull and Eric Manoli. Rhodan accepts the price, knowing it to be just the first step of a much longer road.

Jerry Schneiderman 2005-02-21

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