Authors: Frank Borsch
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Space Opera
#1 Ark of the Stars
by Frank Borsch
After a tragic accident Perry Rhodan discovers a huge space ship, two miles long and traveling almost at the speed of light. The ship turns out to be an ark, carrying a population of humans who set out on their journey 55,000 years ago, from Earth – Lemurians, the legendary forefathers of mankind.
But Rhodan is not the only one to have noticed the ark. A ship of the Akons, Earth's arch enemies, has also set its sights on this galactic mystery ...
Ark of the Stars
by Frank Borsch
by Dwight R. Decker
Pabel-Moewig Verlag KG, Rastatt
Perry Rhodan the series was born in Germany in 1961. Originally planned as a thirty-issue periodical, its unexpected success prompted the publisher to extend that plan to fifty issues. Now, fifty-four years and more than 2,800 magazine novels (plus a plethora of related products) later, Perry Rhodan stands as the longest-running ongoing science-fiction storyline in existence.
Perry Rhodan the character was born on June 8, 1936 in Manchester, Connecticut, the son of Jakob Edgar Rhodan (a German émigré post-WWI) and Mary Rhodan (nee Tibo). He graduated from the US Air Force Academy and began a career as a pilot. On June 19, 1971, Major Perry Rhodan commanded the atomic-powered spaceship Stardust on the first manned moon-landing, accompanied by three other astronauts.
On the far side of the moon, the men discovered the scientific research vessel of an extraterrestrial race; the humanoid Arkonides had been forced to make an emergency landing. Perry Rhodan established contact with the Arkonides, as a result receiving some of their superior technology. Unwilling to place this unimaginably powerful technology in the hands of a single political power, upon his return to Earth Rhodan landed in the Gobi Desert, rather than the United States.
The world currently was facing the very real possibility of WWIII. With the influence of the Arkonide technology, Perry Rhodan managed to prevent the war, and even bring the various political blocs to a new level of cooperation. He established what he named the New Power, a neutral entity that owed allegiance to all of humanity, rather than a nation or ideology. Further, he declared his new citizenship to the planet Terra, calling himself a Terran. He gained many allies to his cause, among them a group of parapsychologically gifted people known as mutants. The Mutant Corps possessed telepathy, teleportation, telekinesis and other abilities. Rhodan united humanity—and opened the gateway to the stars ...
Ark of the Stars
is a journey into the future of humanity—and into its distant past.
The stars called to him.
Venron had never seen them. Not with his own eyes. Only in ancient visual recordings. Secretly and furtively, always in fear that the Tenoy would catch him and the other Star Seekers.
The Seekers had surrendered in utter amazement to the glory of the stars. Had attempted to count them and finally given up. There were too many; one could never succeed in grasping the sheer number of them. And to what purpose? Even in the depictions shown by the slowly but inexorably decaying memory units, the stars were the most beautiful things they had ever seen.
Venron had to see them.
With his own eyes.
He had to be certain that he was not yearning for a delusion.
Venron took off the thick plastic apron and gloves that had protected him for the past few hours from the thorns of the protein plants. The protein these plants provided was the richest available. But why the protein plants so reluctantly parted with their fruits remained a mystery to Venron. Perhaps the tenkren who developed them weren't in complete control of their own handiwork. Or perhaps the difficulty of harvesting had some intention he didn't understand.
A voice wrenched him out of his thoughts.
"Doing anything after your shift?" asked Melenda.
Venron looked up in surprise. He hadn't noticed Melenda come into the supply shed. She was his age, a voluptuous, outgoing woman with long hair and a swing in her hips that he had dreamed about for many nights after she had been assigned to his Metach'ton. But the stars had won out in the end. Now he seldom dreamed of Melenda.
"Yes. I ... I wanted to read some more," he lied. "You know, study."
Melenda looked puzzled. "I don't understand why you want to hide from the rest of the world." She stepped close to him, reached out her hand as though she wanted to take his, but then let her arm drop. "You should occasionally come out of that hole you've dug for yourself. I'm getting together with the others at the bow—Delder's plants have new blossoms. He says a shot of the juice will give you a kick like you've never felt before. And Delder knows his stuff! I bet he'll be a tenkren one of these days. You know the others don't especially like you, but I can put in a good word for you."
"Thanks," Venron said, "but I can't. Maybe some other time?"
"Some other time? You don't even believe that yourself!" Melenda dropped her apron carelessly on the bench and stormed out of the shed. The door banged behind her, making the whole structure shake.
Venron stared at the door for a few moments, then folded his apron carefully and shoved it and the gloves in the pigeonholes provided for them. Then he picked up Melenda's carelessly discarded apron and repeated the procedure.
He did it even though it wasn't logical. No one would come into the supply shed before the next shift, which didn't start until the next morning. But Venron couldn't bring himself to go against his training. "Waste is our downfall," he had been taught since childhood. "Our resources are limited and few!"
Some traitor you are!
You even clean up after those you plan to betray!
Venron left the shed. It was already getting dark. A bicycle leaned against a post nearby. He typed an inquiry on the handlebar screen display; the status indicator showed the bicycle was not in use. Good. It would make things go faster. Venron rode off, cruising with the familiarity of long years through the maze of paths that wound through the fields and gardens of the Outer Deck. He enjoyed the breeze that poured over his skin and streamed through his hair as he rode. On the bicycle, it was easy to forget the high gravity trying to pull him to the ground. The higher gravity of the Outer Deck made their limbs tire quickly during work. By noon, most of the metach thought only of catching their breath and of the Middle Deck, where they would be allowed to return after their shift.
At long intervals, Venron met other metach. Only a few were out and about at this hour; most were sitting with the rest of their Metach'ton and lingering over their evening meal. Why waste time on the Outer Deck where there was only sweat and hard work? He waved in greeting to the people he passed. His pulse sped up each time, returning to normal only when he went around a curve and didn't hear a shout of, "Hey, stop! What are you up to?"
People seemed to assume he was just what he appeared to be: a somewhat distracted metach occupying the time after his shift by taking a spin. His activity was uncommon, but also not remarkable, viewed mostly as a harmless whim.
No one seemed to realize he was a traitor.
In the distance, Venron spotted a young woman on a bicycle, her upper body bent well forward in order to offer less resistance as she rode.
Immediately yanking the handlebars to the left, he shot down between rows of bushes. Sliding off the seat, he crouched down so that he could see the path without being seen, and didn't move until the woman had passed.
It was Denetree. She had tied her hair into a knot as she usually did when she made her rounds. Her legs rose and fell in a swift rhythm. She rode in a high gear not only to develop her muscles but to be able to increase her speed at a moment's notice.
Venron waited for almost half an hour before he dared come out of the bushes. He couldn't have faced his sister. She would have guessed his plan, read it from his face, from his body language. And would have insisted on going with him ...
But that was impossible. Venron had no idea what awaited him. He would look for Denetree later and apologize to her for not saying good-bye.
I've done what I could for her,
he tried to console himself. He would leave, but would leave a trace of himself behind. He had planned for that.
Venron continued on his way, finally stopping at a remote shelter. The simple plastic construction, a roof supported by four slender poles about the height of a man, would be torn away by even a mild storm—but there were no storms. The shelter sufficed to protect against the artificial rain.
Venron leaned the bicycle against one of the poles, switched it to F
so the next person to find it could use it, and knelt on the ground. A thin layer of moldering grass and plant stems covered the floor of the shelter. Venron brushed it to one side to uncover the bare metal surface. Near the middle of the cleared space he found what he was looking for: a scratched display screen. Even though it was now fully dark, the screen glowed enough to be readable.
He spread the thumbs and index fingers of both hands, then pressed them simultaneously against all four corners of the display. A keyboard appeared on the screen and Venron entered a random series of numbers.
He didn't need a code: The input was only necessary so that the mechanism wasn't activated by accident. This mechanism opened the hatch to the pressurized air chambers below the surface that would ensure their survival in an emergency. As far as Venron knew, such an emergency had never occurred—and he strongly doubted that the chambers would be of much use if an emergency came to pass. One could survive for a day or a week in them—but then what?
Venron heard a clicking. A square section of the floor lifted creakingly to stand on one edge over a man-sized hole. The Net had released the hatch. Good. The Net had also been informed that there had been a request to open a hatch. Not so good. Everything now depended on how the Net interpreted the action. Playing children opened the hatches on a regular basis. The Net expected it. Testing the limits of their world and what was allowed was part of children's normal development. To a point.
If it was Venron's bad luck that children had been using this entrance a little too often recently, the Net would confine him in the chamber below until the Tenoy came. It would be very difficult to explain what he was doing in the underground chambers: He was an adult who ought to know better than to stick his nose into things that didn't concern him.
Venron climbed down a narrow metal ladder into the dark. Each time he rested his weight on a new rung, the ladder squeaked and sagged. Above him, the hatch closed automatically. Faint light came on, making the outlines of objects visible. Venron looked at the ceiling. Only every third light was illuminated.
Our resources are limited.
Venron had not been down in the pressurized chambers since his childhood. He was surprised by how small and cramped it felt. He was in a long, narrow corridor with a low ceiling, lined on both sides with benches. Baggy pressure suits hung in wall niches, looking like sacks with helmets attached. They would fit anyone of any size or build, and even untrained persons could slip them on in seconds. But they condemned their wearers to immobility. It would be impossible to move through the narrow corridor wearing the pressure suits, especially if the corridor was jammed full of people.
Venron didn't want to imagine it. He already felt oppressed by the confined space.
He started walking, counting the pressure suits as he went. When he reached sixty-three, an opening yawned in the apparently endless row. There was a narrow passageway in the wall where another pressure suit should have hung. Venron squeezed himself inside. After a few meters, the passageway opened onto another corridor lined with pressure suits. Venron turned left and counted the suits again. At ninety-six, he found a new gap and squeezed his way into it.