John tried to claw his way out of the pit
of stupor that he seemed trapped in.
Someone needed him and he couldn't reach him.
Frustrated, he groaned and groped in the darkness and felt...
…a small form, clinging tightly to him,
fists entangled in the fur of the parka. Finally he was able to open his
eyes, and John saw in the dimness of the emergency lights his son
sobbing noisily on his chest.
Putting his arms around Will, he held him close and murmured,
"Will, I'm back, son. I'm
back." It had been so long, so very long. His hand reached up and ruffled his son’s hair.
Behind the night goggles, Will’s eyes
seemed overly large. "Dad,
I thought I had killed you again," Will said quietly, his breath
catching in his throat. “I
heard you as you fell. I
knew you were hurt badly and you were all alone.
And it was all my fault. I
shouldn’t have been out there, I shouldn’t have listened to Dr.
"Will, Will, stop blaming yourself,”
John said, cutting off his son’s recriminations.
No one that young should carry that kind of burden.
He felt his own guilt at not trying to get to his family sooner,
and then he cut it off. There
was nothing anyone could have done about either situation.
And it was over. He was here. Will
was in his arms. “Will,
it will take more than a stick to kill me.
And you didn't kill me the first time, either.
It was just a horrible accident.
I'm alive, and it's over," John assured Will.
He continued to hold him for a few minutes, as much for himself
as to reassure his youngest child.
"Dad, I felt so bad after the
accident. And I missed you
so much," Will told him, handing him the goggles back.
"I missed all of you, too, Will.
All I thought about these past weeks was getting back to your
Mom, you, and the rest of the family."
They sat quietly, relishing each other's company for a few more
minutes. Putting on the
lenses, John looked his youngest son over, as though it had been several
years, instead of weeks. And,
indeed, it almost seemed as though the boy had filled out, grown.
"This is very fortuitous," he
said finally, looking at his son with a grin. "Now I have a
ready-made guide. You have
to take me to your mother by any lesser known routes that you know
of." He gave Will one
last hug and rose stiffly to his feet.
"You've been working out, Will.
If that long staff had hit me just two inches higher, you would
have caved in your old man's rib cage," he commented with a
Remotely, he noticed a grinning Grringol
youth standing by the far door. He
asked in the Ugorrim language, "May
I assume that you are Will's friend?
If so...” The regular lights came up and John blinked at the
Grringol before continuing. "If
so, we are going to need your help."
"I am Will's friend. May I assume that you are Will's father? And may I also assume that you are the saboteur?" Hmrin
asked in quick succession.
Looking slightly embarrassed, John said,
"Yes, on both counts." Will
looked up at him in shock. "But
let me assure you that what I delivered and what the supreme commander
of the Rylorr wanted me to deliver are two entirely different things. I made certain adjustments or we wouldn’t be sitting here
"I have heard that Brrengrifferr is
extremely militant, but wasn't sure how much of that rumor was due to
propaganda. By the way, my
name is Hmrin."
"John Robinson, and the propaganda you
have heard is probably mild. The
man was looking to annihilate your city with a nuclear device."
He saw Hmrin's eyes flash with anger.
"You must take me to my family and friends, Hmrin.
I am assuming they are expecting me.
They may be in great danger when your people realize that it was
a human who blew out the wall in the generating room."
Will looked surprised. "Dad, no one knew you were coming. The only way that anyone had any kind of an idea that you
were alive was through Penny's 'visions' she had of you each night.
How would anyone know you were coming?" Will asked.
"I sent a message to the lap top PC.
I know it was received, but there was never a reply.
Strange," he murmured.
Then he looked sharply at Will.
"Penny had dreams, she called them
visions, with you training to be a soldier.
It must have been for this operation, but I didn't believe her
until I actually saw you. I
couldn’t, not after…"
"Let us go quickly," Hmrin broke
in, bringing them back to reality.
"You are probably right, John Robinson, time is of the
Judy and Don had arranged for a Grringol
jeweler to make simple engagement rings, using her self-taught expertise
in computer programming as barter.
Judy reprogrammed the owner's software to be more efficient and
they ended up with two beautiful silver rings, his with delicate
filigreed etchings and hers with a small blue jewel.
They shone beautifully with a soft luster that seemed to
duplicate the stars among which they had flown for three years.
The reprogramming had been done during the late evening hours,
when the business was closed, and it had taken longer then anticipated. When finished, though, the shop owner was well pleased and
gave them their rings. Don
gently slipped Judy’s ring on her finger, held her hand for a few
minutes, savoring the look of the engagement ring, its sparkle, its
promise of an eternity of happiness.
"Well, future Mrs. West, I never
expected you to have to pay for our rings," he finally said, giving
his fiancé a great hug. "The
jewel is almost the same color as your eyes, my darling."
"It doesn't matter, ours is an
unconventional engagement," she said, chuckling.
She slipped his ring on his finger, then kissed him fiercely.
They left the shop and were startled by a sudden dimming of the
lights. Don pulled out a
tiny flashlight and led them to a small open cavern that served as a
type of atrium. Finding a
bench, they sat in the darkness, hand in hand, close together, talking
quietly. When the lights
resumed their normal brightness, one of the public video broadcast
monitors came on. Don and
Judy looked up in surprise; the television stations were usually ‘off
the air’ this time of the morning.
But more surprising was the person speaking… it was John
"Don," Judy whispered in shock.
"It's Dad!" The
both watched, dumbfounded, as the one they had thought to be dead spoke
eloquently in the language of the Ugorrim.
"...The explosion that just went off
in the Grringol city caused much less damage than it could have, because
the nuclear device that it originally carried had been replaced with
something much less lethal. But,
Ugorrim, someday, someone will succeed in vaporizing your city and your
future. I implore you to listen to what I am saying.
Those like Supreme Commander Brrengrifferr will cause your
extinction....” Don noticed that the few Grringol out this time of the
morning, were looking at them in curiosity, tinged with suspicion.
"Judy, let's get out of here, I don't
think it's just the Grringol who are endangered right now."
Grabbing her by the hand they headed back toward their
"Somehow, I have to believe that John
must have been planning to come and get us, but why, if he was able to
make a broadcast, why didn't he send us a message."
Don was silent for a moment as they continued to Mmringorr's
dwelling. "Unless he
did and it wasn't passed along...." his suspicious mind started
"Judy, doesn't it stand to reason that
your Dad would send a message on the laptop?" he asked as they ran
down the near deserted corridors.
"Yes, he would," she answered.
"And doesn't it also stand to reason
that any one of us would have passed the message along?" he
"Of course." Judy looked askance at Don.
“Unless someone thought it was a hoax.”
"Except for Dr. Smith," he said
simply, his anger mounting. They
had reached the apartments and Don raced for the room that Smith
occupied. Barging in, he
raised the lights and, ignoring the howling of protest from the
previously sleeping man, reached down and jerked Smith out of his bed.
"Smith, did you receive a message from John?" he demanded,
slightly shaking the old man.
Smith began gibbering. "It was a joke, you were playing a joke, had to be.
Prof. Robinson is dead."
"No, Smith, he is very much alive.
And a message that he tried to send was never given to us.
What was in it?" Don
still had Smith by the collar and shook him harder to punctuate his
"Major West, stop trying to choke me
to death. He said something
about meeting at the utility plant or he would come here and get
us," he said plaintively. "He's
"Yes, but not for long, you worthless
slime ball. We could've met
him and been out of here by now, you idiot."
Don was incensed and wanted nothing more than to knock Smith on
his butt, but he realized that Judy was watching.
Plus there was the fact that beating up Smith would solve
nothing. Don pushed the old
man onto his bed.
"Judy, gather everyone and have them
ready to leave as soon as your Dad gets here," he said. "I will try to find out where your brother went on
patrol this morning." He
stalked out, with Judy right behind him.
"Don, do you think that Dad is in that
much danger?" she asked, fear tingeing her voice.
"Judy, I would say that many of the
Grringol are heartily sick of this endless war.
I’ve heard them complaining, but there are probably others who
would just as soon shoot the one who set off that charge as look at
Maureen was awakened out of a light sleep
by a muffled noise, with a tremor following immediately thereafter.
Throwing on a robe, she made her way into the gathering room that
served the same purpose as a living room on Earth.
Mmringorr and Angrolin were sitting together and talking, waiting
for an announcer to come on the now blank screen to give them an
explanation. Suddenly a
picture flashed on the television revealing a bearded human, speaking
the Ugorrim language.
"John!" Maureen cried sharply.
Her heart raced and her chest tightened so much that it hurt, as
the watched the confirmation of Penny's claims on the screen before her.
John had a serious countenance, but never had anyone looked so
wonderful to her. Her
breath forced itself raggedly in and out of her lungs until she was
almost sobbing for air. The Grringol couple looked around at her in concern, but
Maureen couldn’t tear her eyes from the sight of John.
Her eyes were like a thirsty man dying in the desert, finding a
cup of water and gulping the precious life preserving liquid.
"…Do not let this thousand year
conflict destroy a promising civilization.
You are not even aware of the cause of this war!
Animosity cannot be erased in an instant, but it can be
eradicated over time by the dedicated efforts of those who want peace.
On my home world there is a saying, 'Give peace a chance.'
" John ended,
and the screen went blank.
Maureen could not contain herself and hot,
grateful tears flowed down her cheeks, unchecked.
Angrolin got up and walked over to her.
"Maureen, my dear friend.
May I assume that the human on the broadcast is your
Nodding, Maureen smiled. "He's alive, Angrolin."
Angrolin handed Maureen a handkerchief.
"I am so happy for you, Maureen.
I must admit, he is a very eloquent speaker, is he not, Mmringorr?"
she said, turning to her life-mate.
The chair was empty.
In just a short while, Mmringorr came back
into the room, with his security belt on, weapons attached. "I
received a message of the security breach at the utility generating
plant. You both stay here.
I will keep you informed," he said.
"Sit down, Maureen, let me fix you
something to calm you a bit." The two women sat quietly, drinking
the warm tea that Angrolin had fixed.
They talked a bit, Maureen telling anecdotes about John and
Angrolin adding a few of her own, but mainly she listened to her friend
"Angrolin," Mmringorr called her
on the communications device she kept clipped to her belt. "I am heading to corridor 232. Tell everyone to stay indoors.
The report was of invaders."
Angrolin acknowledged the communication while replenishing their
"I have wanted to believe that he was
alive and now I finally know. I am more blessed than I can comprehend.
I wonder where he is now?"
Her Grringol friend had a faraway look on
her face. Maureen looked at
her, puzzled. "Wait a
minute," Angrolin said, looking at her human friend in alarm. "Your life-mate mentioned something about a device that
had been altered. Is it not
feasible that he would be the one who altered that device, and then set
it in our generating plant? And
would it not be feasible that having done that, he would now be coming
for you and the rest of your family?"
"Yes, but would he be able to find out
where we are?" Maureen asked.
"Perhaps, but I fear Mmringorr's
message might have something to do with your life-mate.
Call it a hunch. Corridor
232 is very near here," Angrolin stated.
"Maureen, I think we had better see just what that
disturbance is. If your
life-mate, John, is on his way here, he may have been discovered, in
which case, he may be in danger and in need of the help of a pair of
Penny walked in the room, her eyes large
with fear. “Daddy’s on
his way here to get us, but he’s in danger.
Some Grringol want to hurt him.”
End Part Ten
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