The hopes of Moonbase Alpha’s crew were high as they discovered that they may have found a new home after their wandering Moon entered a region of space populated by several Earth-like planets.
Professor Victor Bergman was delighted with the initial readings from the scanner and the data collected by Computer also indicated a favorable possibility that the third planet could support human life. While Eagle 5 departed to make a closer inspection of the world, Commander Koenig put evacuation plan Exodus on standby.
Eagle 5 made a positive report about the conditions at the landing site and the four-person survey team signed off to make a more thorough investigation. However, their second routine check call never came through and when they failed to report on the next scheduled call, Eagle 1 was launched to find out what had happened to them.
Touching down, Alan Carter cut the motors and then he, Doctor Russell, Professor Bergman and Tony Verdeschi made their way outside.
In many ways the area surrounding the pair of Eagles was a lot like Earth had once been – a sub-tropical climate, plenty of vegetation, a clear blue sky and a single Sun. The team split up to begin the search, Alan and Helena headed westward towards a rocky area, while Victor and Tony proceeded to the east, heading further into the dense jungle.
Clearing the majority of the vegetation and climbing the high rocky mound, Helena and Alan looked back, impressed with the unspoiled landscape stretching out as far as the eye could see. Helena thought of Earth, what it must been like years before it was slowly overtaken by industrial development. It could have been much the same as the world before her eyes. However, there was no sign of any of the survey team, so they pressed on.
Victor and Tony were having no luck finding the survey team either, although Victor did spot a number of plants with edible-looking fruit. He carefully took some samples to analyse back at the Eagle. Tony liked what he saw of the place, no crazy aliens or deadly wildlife to contend with, it was certainly somewhere he could see himself settling down if they left Alpha. The pair called Alan and Helena on their commlock and confirmed they were proceeding back to the Eagle. The others, having drawn a blank on their search, decided to head back too and make a new plan.
As Tony and Victor entered the clearing, they checked in their tracks. Eagle 5, which had been positioned beside their own craft, was gone. Neither man could understand it. They hadn’t been so screened by the jungle that they would have failed to hear the ship lifting off, nor would Helena and Alan have missed seeing it do so from their vantage point. Alan and Helena were just as baffled. They could fathom four members of a survey team getting lost or trapped on a strange planet, but the disappearance of the other Eagle was a mystery.
Victor called Alpha and was stunned to learn that Eagle 5 and all four members of the survey team had returned to the base moments before. That was not all, because the nature of their return had been extraordinary. However, before Victor could ascertain exactly what that meant, he found himself standing in Main Mission, along with Helena, Alan and Tony. All of them looked as baffled as he did. Commander Koenig ran over, asking if they were alright. They replied that, despite being more than a little bewildered, they seemed to be feeling okay.
Koenig explained that not long after they had split up on the planet, the survey team and Eagle 5 had appeared back on Alpha, as if from nowhere. Angela Malone, one of the team, had sustained a fractured arm during a fall while exploring the planet, but when she returned to Alpha with the others, her arm was fine. More than that, it was as if it had never been injured.
Victor’s hand went to the sample container hanging from a strap on his shoulder. He flipped open the lid and discovered it was empty. There was no trace of the piece of alien fruit he had carefully placed in it before.
Impossible as it sounded, it was as if none of them had gone to the planet in the first place. Victor was fascinated by the notion and during further tests, he discovered that the planet had a unique kind of chronal radiation in its makeup. After a given interval, the entire planet would be reset to how it had been at the beginning of the cycle, while anything that had appeared on the planet would be sent back the same duration to the location where it had been at that point in time.
It was remarkable – a planet that could literally remain as it was, never changing, never dying. Of course, this incredible property evidently developed at some point after the planet had evolved to its present state, or else it would not appear as it did.
Unfortunately, the presence of such a phenomenon meant that there was no way for the Alphans to settle on the world which, but for its strange quirk, could have been a new home for them. Their search continues and perhaps one day they will find what they are looking for.