95 - Himmel ohne Sterne
The Starless Realm
Clark Darlton

The hundred thousand Arkonides discovered on the Ship of the Ancestors have been successfully brought back to Arkon. Suddenly, the immortal calls Perry Rhodan requesting that he comes to Wanderer. The DRUSUS initially sets course for Venus in order to get Wanderer’s coordinates but the immortal saves Rhodan this side trip by transmitting the coordinates directly to the DRUSUS once it departs from Arkon. When Rhodan’s flagship arrives at the coordinates, the immortal appears in the form of Pucky and affirms that it needs Perry Rhodan’s help. It is about the Barkonides with whom it no longer has any contact – IT can no longer sense their thoughts.

Wuriu Sengu, Rhodan and Pucky depart from Wanderer on board of a vessel materialized by the immortal and in a brief period of time travel the hundreds of thousands of light-years separating them from Barkon. They land on the planet, but the ground is covered entirely by snow and there is no longer any atmosphere.

They leave the vessel that immediately disappears. It is programmed to return upon Rhodan’s first request. Pucky repeatedly senses some thoughts but there is nobody in the vicinity that is visible. They are then attacked by invisible creatures. They first try in vain to impose their will upon the minds of Rhodan and his companions but when this fails, they use conventional thermal weapons. Rhodan, Sengu and Pucky succeed in penetrating into the underground facilities of the Barkonides and reach a section where breathable air is still present. In the Barkonide Control Center, they find the button which starts up all the generators again. They push this button down at regular intervals but someone then releases the button thereby turning off the generators again. They finally discover an immense room where the Barkonides are in a unique form of suspended animation that does not require freezing.

Rhodan wakes up the four leading Barkonides in a room directly adjacent to the Control Center: Regoon, Laar, Gorat and Nex. They inform Rhodan that after fifty years of flight without incident, Barkon was attacked by unknown invisible aliens. The breathable air was then transformed into snow and the surface cameras deactivated. Then the reactors stopped working. As a precaution, the Barkonides placed their entire population into a temporary artificial sleep.

They return to the Control Center and the button that turns on the reactors is permanently soldered into the “on” position with a thermal weapon. One of the invisible aliens attempts to directly intervene in the Control Room but Rhodan’s team and the four Barkonides concentrate their weapons on the invisible being who then briefly appears before dying and dissolving into thin air. A force field is constructed around the planet to protect it.

Rhodan, Pucky and some Barkonide specialists inspect the surface where the atmosphere is being reestablished little by little. They witness the departure of four vessels of the Invisibles. The immortal then contacts Perry Rhodan and learns what has happened on Barkon over the past fifty years.

Sengu, Rhodan and Pucky return to the Milky Way where they learn that while one week went by for them on Barkon, only four hours passed on the DRUSUS. Upon the request of Rhodan, a cellular shower is granted to Rhodan and his closest co-workers. While the DRUSUS takes off, Rhodan worries about a future meeting with the Invisibles.

Michael Mahoney 2012-10-12

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