204 - Das Drung
The Drung
Kurt Brand

Aboard the KHREST II, several members of the crew endure a temporary crises of asphyxia. While Rhodan and Pucky discuss some physical uneasiness with Atlan, the BOX-8323 is suddenly attacked by vessels from Quarta. The KHREST II activates all of its energy reserves, and succeeds in supersaturating the energy absorption-transformation device of the enemy, whose squadrons are put out of action. Their destruction is followed by the emission of a mysterious gravitational wave.

The medical team operates on an asphyxia victim and discovers a foreign substance that invaded all the body’s organ systems with the exception of the blood stream and seems to increase in amount very quickly. Shortly afterwards, minuscule spores are discovered everywhere aboard in the air. The parasite displays its strength by tormenting the crew of the KHREST II thereby demonstrating its domination and forcing the men into submission. Even Tolot is not spared. In spite of everything, he tries to resist the invader, and discovers that he can only achieve this when he crystallizes his body. The Drung sees, hears and feels through the body of each of the two thousand members of the crew. It reveals to Rhodan its objective: to travel to the galaxy of its origin, the Andromeda Galaxy, of which it has been banished by those that it calls the "Masters of the Island". Rhodan suspects that these “Masters” could be the builders of the solar transmitters. The Drung confirms this. To regain Andromeda, the Drung must modify the settings of the Twin transmitter, of which the control station is on the planet Quinta. It realizes that it must force the humans to seize the station for them.

The Drung orders the departure of the KHREST II for Quinta. Tolot attempts to disable the ship’s equipment, but the Drung retaliate by torturing the men. When the Haluter crystallizes and suppresses the part of the foreign organism that is in his body, the Drung, insensitive to the ethical arguments of Tolot, threaten to kill the crew. The Haluter realizes the pointlessness of his present tactics since it only results in an attack by the adversary on the Terrans. To avoid hurting the Terrans while defending himself, the Haluter leaves the KHREST II aboard a Gazelle.

In space, he eliminates the Drung from his body by crystallization, and by repeated draining of the Gazelle's atmosphere. He then lands on the Posbi cube. The Haluter returns to the KHREST II by matter transmitter, and in his crystalline shape, he begins to apply the knowledge that he gleaned while studying plans of the vessel. He adjusts the Kalup Converter so that the KHREST II dips briefly into a hyper-field whose five-dimensional vibrations affect the Drung. In spite of the danger for the human organism, the Haluter repeats the operation, until the Drung, that is incapacitated by pain and incapable henceforth to control the crew, reassembles into its basic substance and leaves the KHREST II while on the planet Chaos. Again in control of himself, Major Wiffert destroys the entity by shooting the cannons of the KHREST II.

Michael P. Mahoney

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