2214 - Am Sternenriff
In the Star Reef
Hubert Haensel

Note: I found the summaries for 2208-2218 on the internet – not sure who, when or where. Someone spent some time on these and I hate to see them lost to the void.

On Terra the mutilated emergency call of a research corvette arrives, which operates in the whistle nebula. This had been sent when violent space quakes had been measured like those observed when the Star Ocean of Jamondi had materialised in the Hayok Sector. It prompted supposition that there may also be foreign suns materialising elsewhere. The corvette announces a fickle increase of number and fierceness of the quakes, then the contact breaks off finally. This disconcerting news from the only 500 light years distant whistle nebula reaches Julian Tifflor. The strongest space quakes are measured and it feared that in immediate proximity of the Sol system a similar phenomenon manifests itself, like the star ocean of Jamondi in the Hayok sector. The residence minister does not wish any risks in the immediate proximity of the Sol system gives the immediate order to make two ships of the new Discoverer class ready to be launched.

On the lunar shipyards, the ships of the LFT are reequipped just under high pressure to positronic components. One of the ships is the RICHARD BURTON, A DISCOVERER of the recent type which fascinates with its persistent, redundant technology and modular construction. Lester Truyen who makes his service during the adaptations of the RICHARD BURTON aboard the 1,800 meter spacer considers the step back to antiquated technologies more eerie. The much loved and compact hypertechnology may be highly developed but is, after the change the hyperresistance at best like expensive scrap metal. In the ship huge aggregate blocks dominate again to energy production and storage. The worthless Hypertrop taps were removed entirely and the proven, but outdated, black shield reactors took their place. Thanks to the modular construction methods the rearrangement can be unwound quickly and without great problems. The ships are also reequipped the new Hawk-compensation converters which still need to be tested. Another new construction is a detection device which covers the ultrahigh frequency ranges of the hyperenergetic spectrum. Becauses of its form, it is called an "ultra-giraffe". As a balance for the Syntrons substituted with positronics, all Saturn ships are fitted out with SERT control. Truyen's thoughts are all the time about with his wife who is about to give birth to their baby daughter. The engineer can barely wait to stand by his wife at the birth. However, the operation order of Julian Tifflor scuttles the plans of the engineer. Lester Truyen must submit like all other crew members to the special orders and accompany the flight of the RICHARD BURTON. In a hurry, the RICHARD BURTON and her sister ship GEORGE EVEREST is prepared for the start of the venture.

The 500 light years distance to the whistle nebula, was not considered at first by anybody aboard both DISCOVERERS as disconcerting. However, already shortly after the start it becomes clear to the crews, how much the spatial conditions have changed. The ships encounter a kind of bow wave which inhibits their forward velocity considerably. In comparison with flights with the metagrav-drive both DISCOVERERS move very slowly forward. Besides, the ships have to fight with the most different, technical difficulties which thus nobody has foreseen. So only relatively short stages  - about 50 light years - and relatively low hyper-light speeds can be evidently reached in linear flight. The flight develops into a difficult enterprise and the crew has to fight with different and unusual effects. Exchange shock, failures and destruction of hypercrystals, low velocities and up to now unknown effects of the semi-space, probably released by the change the hyperresistance, make the flight a Hell ride.

When the terran ships fall back once more into normal space, both DISCOVERERS catch a weak emergency call. Julian Tifflor gives the instruction to follow the radio signal and the Terrans discover a small ship wrapped in a camouflage fields, without any identifying symbols. The terran boarding commando finds aboard Arkonide who have evidently passed into a deep coma. Apparently the ship was on a spying mission and was on the way to the LFT when it was surprised by the change in the hyperresistance. Julian Tifflor orders the arkonide spy spacer to be brought aboard and to continue the flight.

Finally, when both DISCOVERERS finish the last stage and reach the target area, they meet a small alliance of the LFT which was already ordered before in this area to make investigations. The RICHARD BURTON immediately gathers all the accumulated data. The target sector of the whistle head nebula is very much a starless region. Only one small star cluster, consisting of 23 single suns, is to be found in this space sector. The star cluster, in the Solar-Fleet-Star-Catalogue carries the name SXG-1317, show many parallels to the Hayok star archipelago. Julian Tifflor fears that the strong hyperstorms also point in this sector to the materialisation of a star cluster.

Then, after other violent space quakes, the supposition becomes a certainty. Almost unnoticed and without crossing the numerous suns materialize in the target area, many probably with planets. The Terrans observe how virtually from the nothing a star pile with a diameter of about 65 light years manifests itself. About 120,000 solar masses encloses the thing which is visible like the star ocean of Jamondi for the time being only on the hyperlocators. The suns of the star cluster do not seem to have fallen back yet entirely into normal space, an effect which is already known to the Terrans. Julian Tifflor starts his small fleet and gives to instruction to explore the star cluster carefully. For the time being the residence minister only wants to compile data. Should the terran ships encounter a space-going people, they are to avoid contact. Shortly after, the two DISCOVERERS fly into the unknown star cluster, which Jullian Tifflor christens with the name Kettledrum cloud.

After several trip and measurements Julian Tifflor decides to return to the Sol system with both DISCOVERERS. The stationed units can do the further work. However, also the return flight turns out to be dangerous. An immense hyperstorm which yields the dreaded Tryortan throats over and over again almost becomes the RICHARD BURTON's undoing and has obviously settled in the Antares sector. Julian Tifflor calls the dangerous area a reef which will endanger and hinder space travel for a long time to come. A hyperstorm-reef!

When the RICHARD BURTON and the GEORGE EVEREST again reach the Sol system, the scientists register a strong change from Sol aboard both ships. The sun shines suddenly in the high frequency hyperspectrum, and has become a kind of hyperbeacon! Julian Tifflor makes immediate contact with Myles Kantor who also cannot explain the phenomenon. The only tip is a purely mathematically proved, 6-dimensional radiation component which Julian Tifflor reminds immediately of the 6D jewel standing in connection with IT. Myles Kantor is aware of the cross-connection with this mysterious thing which the Terrans do not rule out a possible link.

Back on the Earth Julian Tifflor meets Mondra Diamond. The residence minister had hoped that SOL had returned meanwhile from her expedition to Hangay. However, up to now there was no news of the dumbbell spacer and its crew. Immense innovations and investments will be asked to manage again a fairly reasonable of space travel. An immense challenge which will demand something of the Terrans. Additionally, changes in their own sun, the formation of a hazard zone and a new star cluster appearing on the door step make these difficult times.

John E McClure 2015-08-23

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