Home Fun Fireball XL5: The Moonjackers! – A Gerry Anderson A21 News Story

Fireball XL5: The Moonjackers! – A Gerry Anderson A21 News Story

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It had been just six days since the first report had reached Space City that Lunos, one of the moons of the planet Vander has mysteriously disappeared. In that short space of time, no less than four other moons were reported missing throughout Sector 25.

Commander Zero contacted Colonel Steve Zodiac in Fireball XL5 and gave him a new assignment – to investigate the mystery of the missing moons and report any and all findings.

Fireball proceeded immediately to the site of the most recent disappearance, a sparsely populated ice-world known as Bosch. It’s seventh moon, Beko, had vanished without trace less than twelve hours earlier.

Leaving Robert the Robot on piloting duty, Steve Zodiac made his way to Doctor Venus and Professor Matt Matic in the navigation bay.

“Well folks,” he asked, “any idea what we’re facing?”

Matt rubbed his chin reflectively, “It’s a mighty strange thing, Steve. You can’t lose something as large as a moon without someone noticing it happening. Think what happened to our moon at the end of the last century.”

“Yeah, and I’m sure glad we got it back again!” Steve replied.

Venus indicated a report that she was working on, “So far the only things linking the missing moons are their relative sizes and the fact they disappeared from sparsely populated worlds when the majority of the population were experiencing daylight on the far side of the planet.”

Steve nodded, “Mmm…. so where does that leave us?”

Matt tapped a pointer on an astro-navigation chart, “Well, the logical thing to do might be to work out where one of these disappearances might happen next. If we use the same criteria in terms of relative size and the type of planet the moon is orbiting, I’d say the next likely candidate for an unaccountable disappearance would be Etos – the third moon of the planet Lokeg on the edge of Sector 25.”

“Okay, seems as good a place to check as any, I’ll set course and then we ought to get some sleep.” Steve said as he headed back for the control room.

The journey to Lokeg was uneventful and soon they were approaching Etos. Like Beko and the other missing moons, it was relatively small, perhaps only half the size of Earth’s Moon.

“There she is,” Steve announced, “I’ll hold position here. See what information you can pick up on the spacemascope, Matt.”

“Right away, Steve.” Matt replied and went aft to work on the equipment.

“It’s sure lonesome out here on the edge of the Sector.” Steve muttered as he gazed out at the small moon ahead.

“Lonely, but fascinating.” Venus replied.

“Guess you’re right. But there’s something about all this that bothers me, Venus.”

“What’s that?”

Steve’s face clouded with apprehension as he responded, “Five moons just disappear with no warning. Okay, that I can accept even if I can’t say how it happened. But there wasn’t a single piece of debris left behind at any of the coordinates. It’s as if they were snatched right out of space.”

At that moment, a warning light flashed on the control console.

“Proximity alert. There’s something else out there.” Steve said, taking the controls and making ready to maneuver. He flicked the communication relay to open and spoke towards the microphone, “Matt, give me your readings, there’s an unidentified object approaching on the far side of the moon.”

Matt’s urgent voice came back through the speaker, “Steve, these readings don’t make any sense!”

“What’s the problem, Professor?”

“Well, the object is reading metallic, as if it’s a vessel, but the size…. My stars, Steve, either I’ve gone tooty or that thing’s larger than the moon!”

“Larger than the moon? But surely-” Venus began.

“Venus, look!” Steve said, pointing to Etos.

Venus gazed out in the direction Steve indicated and threw a hand up to her mouth to stifle an involuntary gasp.

Impossibly huge metallic claw-like grabs were wrapping themselves around the surface of Etos at an alarming rate, like a giant hand closing around an egg.

“Matt,” Steve breathed, “those moons didn’t disappear, they were stolen! And it looks as if it’s about to happen again!”

TO BE CONTINUED

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