The Dark Side of the Moon: September 9, 1999
At Nuclear Waste Disposal Area Two, two technicians, Jim Nordstrom and Steiner, deactivate the laser barrier and arrive via cart. They report to Professor Victor Bergman that they’ll be starting Dr. Russell’s radiation tests. At Moonbase Alpha, Russell monitors the two technicians’ brain activity.
Commander John Koenig is flying from Earth to the Moon in Eagle Two. En route he receives a transmission from Commissioner Simmons, who confirms Koenig has been duly commissioned and his first priority is to get an expedition to the planet Meta. They’ve confirmed that Meta has an atmosphere and could support life. Simmons warns that they can’t let the Meta probe astronaut virus stop them. A manned landing must be accomplished. After Simmons signs off, the Meta probe ship docks at the orbital station.
At Area Two, Nordstrom and Steiner confirm there’s no radiation leakage and prepare to leave. However, Nordstrom’s brain activity increases. At the disposal base, Nordstrom clutches at his head in pain. Bergman and Russell tell Steiner to help Nordstrom and send a security team. Nordstrom goes berserk, his eyes turning yellow, and runs into the laser barrier. He’s thrown back and cracks open his helmet on a rock.
Koenig arrives at Moonbase Alpha and is surprised to find Bergman there to greet him. Bergman warns that things are more serious than Koenig was told, and people are dying but it’s not the virus infection. Koenig’s predecessor, Gorski, is there and tells Koenig he’ll be there for a while before leaving, and Koenig can contact him if he feels it necessary. Koenig notes that Gorski is taking his suspension well. Koenig goes to his office at the command center and demands answers from Bergman. The professor admits that he doesn’t know what is causing the illness, but insists it isn’t radiation. Koenig insists that Meta will be passing close enough for a landing and nothing can postpone the mission. Bergman warns that Gorski refused to let Russell report any of her findings, and suggest Koenig talk to her.
Koenig goes to Russell’s office and breaks the ice by admiring her antique microscope. Russell explains that the victims have a form of brain damage but it’s not a virus. She shows Koenig a scan of the brain and admits she’s had nine deaths so far. Koenig notes that all of the deaths occurred near the radiation disposal site, but the two probe astronauts who suffered from the virus were nowhere near the disposal site. Russell admits the backup crew appears medically fit but she can’t guarantee anything. Koenig goes to see the afflicted men but they are non-responsive.
Koenig goes to see the head pilot, Alan Carter, and asks if the backup crew is ready. Carter is reluctant but finally admits that they’re ready to go.
Back in his office, Koenig receives another transmission from Commissioner Simmons. Koenig informs him there was another death and passes on Russell’s concerns. Simmons is unimpressed and offers to send him a top team of medical experts. Koenig wants to make sure there’s no radiation leak before anyone else comes up. He tells Simmons not to send up any more nuclear waste but Simmons refuses, insisting they have nowhere else to send it. Koenig offers to get the Meta probe launched in return for shutting down the shipment of nuclear waste. Simmons agrees to a temporary delay. Finally Koenig demands to know why Simmons lied to him about the afflicted men’s condition. Simmons insists they kept the men’s condition secret so it doesn’t delay the decision of the finance committee to fund the Meta expedition. Koenig contacts base controller Paul Marrow and says he needs two volunteers to accompany him to check out the disposal site.
Koenig takes an Eagle out with the pilot, Collins, and Bergman. As they travel to the dark side of the Moon, they go past the now outdated disposal site 1, which displays no signs of radiation. Koenig has Collins fly low to check it out. As they proceed, Collins starts to suffer from the same symptoms. They arrive at disposal site 2 and go to a control room to watch two technicians check for leakage. As Bergman and Koenig watch, Collins begins to clutch at his eyes. He tells Koenig that he has to leave. They turn to see that his eyes have milked over. He goes berserk, throwing the two men aside, and then starts smashing on the viewport. Koenig and Bergstrom try to stop him but he tosses them aside. Koenig finally grabs a stunner and knocks him out, and everyone gets out just before the viewport shatters.
Back at Moonbase Alpha, Koenig orders his crew to check for any overlap of flight records between the afflicted men. He then contacts Dr. Matthias, Russell’s assistant, who informs him another infected astronaut died. In the medical center, Russell confirms that the astronaut, Sparkman, has died.
Koenig informs Carter and the other pilots that the astronauts have died, and that he plans to determine why they have died before they continue with the Meta probe. The records show that the afflicted astronauts briefly lost contact as they passed over disposal site 1. Koenig confirms that Collins flies over disposal site 1 several times a week, since it’s used as a landmark. The other pilots fly over the site as well and pass low on training missions. Technician Sandra Benes reports that the radiation levels at disposal site 1 are normal, but the temperature there is rising. They check the monitors and discover that disposal site 1 is giving off enough heat to burn out the cameras.
Koenig takes an Eagle out to disposal site 1 to investigate. He increases attitude to avoid the rising heat but the magnetic fields disrupt the Eagle engines. Koenig starts to lose control and the Eagle plummets toward the Moon’s surface. The Moonbase personnel can only watch as the ship crashes to the surface and disposal site 1 burns itself out.
The rescue crews get Koenig back to Moonbase Alpha and Russell gives him a clean bill of health. Russell isn’t so sure, and questions his decision to endanger himself. Meanwhile, Bergman has discovered that monitoring devices at disposal site 1 showed increased levels of magnetic energy arising from the radioactive wastes. Russell warns that all of them could be affected since disposal site 1 is commonly used as a landmark. Bergman points out that the same magnetic increase could strike disposal site 2. They send a remote-controlled Eagle to disposal site 2 and the magnetic fields surge, causing the Eagle to crash.
Koenig sends a priority call to Simmons, who comes to the Moon. Bergman explains that disposal site 2 contains 140 times the amount of waste in area 1. Simmons refuses to accept that it will inevitably explode. The professor suggests they can disperse the waste over a larger area but warns they have limited time. Simmons agrees to the process and the Moonbase staff starts moving the canisters of waste via Eagles. The magnetic field starts to affect the Eagles, causing breakdowns. Koenig sends Carter into orbit aboard the Commissioner’s ship to monitor the situation. Simmons thinks it’s going well and prepares to give a press statement, but Koenig warns that his men are risking their lives and there’s no guarantee of safety.
Disposal site 2 starts to ignite and an Eagle is destroyed. Koenig aborts the mission and the Eagles try to withdraw as disposal site 2 goes up in a chain reaction. The nuclear explosion sends the Moon out of Earth’s orbit and into deep space. Carter pursues in the Eagle, trying to make contact. Fighting the g-force, Koenig gets to the communication system and responds to Carter’s signal. The Moon finally slows down enough for people to move. Bergman concludes that the thrust from the disposal site has steadied off and Carter should be able to catch up to them. As he lands, the Moonbase personnel take stock of their damage and determined that they are maintaining primary functions.
As the Moon falls out of the solar system, Koenig calls up Emergency Plan Exodus. There’s insufficient data to apply the plan and a human decision is required. Koenig addresses the base and informs the crew that they have what they need to survive and they lack sufficient resources and navigational information to return to Earth. In his judgment, he informs them that they won’t try to return.
As the Moon goes ever further from Earth, they pick up fading television broadcasts speaking of how much damage the altered gravitational fields are causing to the planet. The Lunar Commission is trying to determine what they can do to rescue Moonbase Alpha’s crew, but are not sure if there are any survivors. Finally the signals fade out entirely. They do pick up a signal from Meta and they wonder if their future may lie there.
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