|"It makes no sense at all, Commander!" David Kano
spun from the big Main Mission computer and spread
his hands helplessly. For long moments, John Koenig looked
at him. Then, his knuckles white on the edges of his desk, he
stared up in fascination at the huge video screen above.
"He's signalling in gibberish ? Hang it, Kano, what's
On screen, an Eagle showed head-on, boring back through
space towards the Moon, Pilot Jeff Willis at the controls.
Willis--sent out to investigate a mysterious radio source that
had begun transmitting from somewhere far ahead--a radio
source that could not be detected visually. Could not be
made to appear in any concrete form, even on the
sophisticated equipment of Moonbase Alpha.
And now not even Kano's computer could make head or
tail of the verbal garbage Willis was talking. It wasn't
English. It bore no resemblance to any Earth language. And
yet it was coming through loud and clear as the Eagle made
its landing approach!
"Medical and Rescue Teams to Area Five!" Koenig
barked the order into his comlock, and the alerted
departments of Moonbase burst into action. Koenig was
aware of Victor Bergman at his side, plucking nervously at
his sleeve. "John--there's something about that Eagle that
doesn't look right . . . it's--different. . ."
"What the blazes do you mean, Victor. . ?"
"Can't--figure it out--just an impression I get. . ."
| Then, with startling suddenness, the Eagle's retro-jets|
fired. And even as they did so, the impossible happened! The
whole craft turned abruptly on its back, and twin forks of
flashing power seemed to encase it in a whirling blast of light!
Far from zoning in on one of the Moonbase Alpha launch-
pads, the craft hung poised for a brief second, then
disintegrated in an almighty flash--and left nothing! Not
even a drift of space-dust!
A stunned silence hung over Main Mission. How could it
have happened? How could the Eagle have vanished so
completely? What had happened to pilot Willis? Why was his
voice just an incomprehensible jumble of meaningless
At last, Victor Bergman spoke. "Whatever this invisible
radio source ahead happens to be, John, it clearly presents
some kind of terrible danger. We're going to have to re-
"But the risk, Victor!" Koenig licked his lips. "I can't
order anyone else to take another Eagle up! I can't even ask
for a volunteer!"
"I agree with you, Commander," said Paul Morrow. He
glanced round the others present as if for support, and the
answering nods came slowly. Even the indomitable Alan
Carter bit his lip and started down at the floor.
"We could send an unmanned craft, sir. Fitted with tele-
scanners to report back to us direct. That way, we'd possibly
get the picture without having to risk panic or withdrawal by