2256 - Bahnhof im Weltraum
Station in Space
Thomas Ziegler

On their way to the Greater Magellanic Cloud, the RICHARD BURTON must make several maintenance stops and refill their supplies of Hawk converters on the spaceports of the Crystal Storm fleet, which had been sent on ahead. The first stop is to be on the spaceport DAWN-1. All five DAWN stations consist of three coupled together PONTOON tenders and two LFT BOXES. They were designated after the space sector in which they are stationed. Because the RICHARD BURTON was damaged in a hyperstorm, the first maintenance stop is urgently required but something is not right on the spaceport.

Cilia Perish, a service engineer assigned to the station, notices this when her lover disappears without a trace. It turns out that he is only one of many crewmen that are either not to be found or have called in sick. Nobody seems to take Cilia's concerns seriously. Many crewmembers appear completely apathetic, while others behave like remote controlled zombies. Cilia starts looking for her lover on her own initiative, but is eventually arrested by the station commander and locked up. With the help of her superintendent, who has not been affected, she is able to get free, and the two observe how the station crew is literally gorging themselves in a canteen. There, Cilia's superior also changes into a hostile "zombie", and she must paralyze him. Cilia discovers that the man has a small swelling, like something from an insect bite. She realizes that she has seen similar swellings on the other affected people.

When the RICHARD BURTON arrives, Reginald Bull immediately becomes suspicious because of the strange behavior of the commander. He sends Gucky and Kantiran onto the station. The two quickly find out what has happened: on DAWN-1 a foreign being who was picked up in intergalactic space from an escape pod has nested. The stranger is an gigantic intelligent insect and can mentally control the people with tiny living "relays" who bore into their bodies. In this way, the stranger lures people to himself so he can eat them, because he needs fresh meat to feed the brood growing up in him. He has brought the station under his control and would only too gladly also over take the RICHARD BURTON, in order to bring his birthed brood to other victims.

Meanwhile, Cilia was also attracted by the gigantic insect, but Kantiran is punctually on the spot to save her and kill the gigantic insect. With the death of the stranger and his brood, the suggestive influence fades and after a short time the maintenance work can be accomplished.

Jerry Schneiderman 2005-02-16

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