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2258 - Medusenklšnge
Medusa Song
Michael Nagula


The spirit of crew member Wolpor Farang of the RICHARD BURTON is separated from his body by an unknown influence and floats around as a bodiless consciousness. He must hold onto "anchors", among other things in the spirit of Reginald Bull, in order to not be lured by the singing of siren like apparitions in space. The bodiless spirit observes later events without being able to be perceived by anyone or being able to communicate with them.

Only three Gurrads survived the destruction of their ships by energy torpedoes. Bull had ordered their rescue pods recovered. They take part in the continuing flight of the DISCOVERER as somewhat unwilling guests. Any ship that penetrates into the Parrakhon star cluster is immediately attacked by the self-controlled energy torpedoes, which the RICHARD BURTON theorizes come from automated defense bases. Even RICHARD BURTON would not survive a direct hit of this weapon, which is called a Helix torpedo on account of the way they work. They suppose that the torpedoes react to the energy signatures typical of a spaceship. Therefore, as they continue their flight, they deactivate all ship systems if a torpedo is sensed again. The plan actually works and the RICHARD BURTON is ignored by the torpedoes.

Near the center of the star cluster a kind of spaceship graveyard is discovered. Gucky, Icho Tolot and the three Gurrads examine one of the wrecks. It is more than 10,000 years old - but only at the spots visibly destroyed. The undamaged areas are substantially younger. A weapon was likely used which causes an accelerated ageing of the material. The Gurrads retrieve a log of the unfamiliar ship, but end up in a trap. The boarding party is attacked by innumerable robots which are steered by the still functioning ship's computer, and their connection with the RICHARD BURTON breaks off. During the retreat, Gucky is badly wounded. The bodiless consciousness, who has observed this, intervenes. He is able to give Bull the thought that the boarding party is sitting in a trap at a particular location in the wreck. Bull orders an escape tunnel bored into the ship's hull by disintegrator cannon fire and the wreck's on board computer is destroyed.

Shortly after the boarding crew returns (Gucky will survive), the RICHARD BURTON must play dead again, because another Helix torpedo emerges and destroys the wreck. As a side effect of this explosion the ship's hypercrystals in important generators of the DISCOVERER are now decaying into dust. Because a repair in space would be too risky, they begin flying towards a nearby solar system with a habitable planet. When the linear flight is introduced, Wolpor's bodiless consciousness loses his "anchor" and succumbs to the siren call of the space medusas.

2005-02-27

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