Chapter Five- Runaround
“Come, John, it is time for a training
session,” Garingon said, standing at the door, his face lit with a
broad toothy smile. John
was happy to note that he didn’t need the translator to understand
what the Rylorr was saying.
Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, John
stared at the therapist, wondering why the ursoid felt it necessary to have a
session this time of the night. He
could feel Garingon’s gaze travel down his body, assessing him,
gauging the extent of his stamina and strength.
As he folded his arms across his bare chest, standing as he was
in only a pair of sleeping shorts, he felt his irritation grow.
Up until today the therapy included the things that one would
expect as part of a recovery regimen, walking, running, some weight
training, and various aerobic workouts.
“Garingon, your explanation for the need of tougher, more
martial arts type therapy sessions made some sense earlier this evening.
However, I didn’t think that such things were necessary during
the third watch,” he said caustically.
Reaching up, he scratched his growing beard.
It was almost beyond the itchy stage.
John’s biting comment seemed lost on the
Rylorr. “My friend, as
you know, we are at war with our enemies.
The training facilities are limited in their availability.
So we have to use them when they are available.”
John could hear Rrangruk’s approach
behind him. “I will
accompany the human to make sure that he is able to withstand the
stresses of the training.”
“That would be good, Doctor,” Garingon
answered, looking over John’s head at the Ugorrim behind him. “We must be careful not over-tax his abilities on the first
“Wait a minute…” John began, glaring
first at one ursoid and then at the other.
Being awakened at the equivalent of three in the morning was not
exactly beneficial for good temperament.
“I am right here. If
you are going to talk about me, wait until I’m out of the room,
otherwise talk to me!”
“Sorry, John,” Rrangruk said
continued standing in the doorway, his toothy grin unwavering.
Finally John sighed and turned back to his bedroom, changing
quickly into the pants and tunic that resembled a jogging suit.
As the sleeve slipped over his left hand, he looked at the ring
on his finger. It was a bit
looser since he had lost some weight during his time of regeneration,
and worried that he would lose it during his training, John took it off.
He fingered the band, thinking of Maureen and the kids, and a
sense of overwhelming longing came over him.
What was Maureen doing right now?
He had been told that she and the rest of the family were in the
hands of the Grringol. Were
they treating her and the children decently?
The idea that they would be held in prison cells or mistreated
caused a flaring of anger that he had to work to control.
John continued fingering the band, seeing each of the
children’s faces in his mind’s eye and then Maureen’s serene blue
eyes gazing at him in complete, loving devotion.
He missed her terribly.
The separation itself did not bother him that much, as there had
been numerous times in their marriage when he had to be away from home.
It was the thought that she had no idea he was still alive that
gnawed at him and caused him great anxiety.
With a sigh, he laid the ring on the bedside stand and walked out
of the room, brushing the light sensor with his hand and darkening his
John remembered just after the last session
of regeneration, how excited he had been to feel his own feet and to be
able to walk. How wonderful
to take in a lungful of air without struggle.
He had been grateful to the Rylorr, and hopeful of returning
quickly to Maureen, the children, Don and even, he thought sardonically,
Dr. Smith, but his excitement had slowly waned with each excuse and each
day that passed. He was
still hopeful, but becoming increasingly anxious.
He continued thinking about his family as
the trio walked to the huge training center.
In the early morning hours, it was quiet, although there were
still a few Rylorr soldiers sparring in pairs in various corners of the
cavern room. Garingon led
John and Rrangruk to a smaller room lined with various weapons in racks
set into the stone wall. The
trainer strode over to a rack of staves, and with a bit of deliberation
pulled out two. He handed
John the slightly smaller one. “See
if this feels balanced to you,” he told the professor.
John held the staff in one hand and juggled
it a bit. During pre-flight
training, he had worked with just about every kind of weapon known to
man, so he was aware of how a staff should balance.
Nodding, he said somewhat absently, “Feels good, Garingon.” His mind was still on his family.
Garingon got into a stance, slightly
crouched. Following the
trainer’s example, John stood across from him, his staff balanced
perfectly in his hands, his legs bent for better mobility.
The ursoid thrust one end of the pole at him, but John deflected
it easily. Another thrust came quickly and this one, too, was parried.
The professor countered with several quick advances of his own,
dancing forward and backward lightly in easy answer to Garingon’s
movements. The bout
was lively, but not overtaxing and John kept getting the impression that
the Rylorr was holding back.
Dancing forward, then back, John also had
the feeling of someone looking over his shoulder, but he ignored it for
the moment, figuring it to be triggered by the presence of the Rylorr
physician. The longer
he fought, though, the more he felt that someone he knew was watching.
It was almost as though Maureen or Penny was in the room with
him. Silly thought, he
chided himself as he attempted to return his full focus to the bout.
Then he heard a soft cry, “Daddy!” and
he pivoted, his heart racing, wanting to see his daughter, wanting to
take her in his arms. Instead,
there was a sharp rap against the side of his head and he fell to his
knees, the room suddenly bathed in spots and whorls that danced and spun
in front of his eyes.
“John!” Rrangruk cried out, at his side
in an instant.
“Is he all right?” Garingon asked,
concern evident in his voice.
“A small lump, hopefully not accompanied
by a concussion,” Rrangruk retorted.
“I told you to be careful!”
I have no idea why he turned from the bout like that,” Garingon
“Penny, where is Penny?” John asked
softly, slowly raising his eyes to look around the room.
“Penny?” Rrangruk asked. “Is that not your middle child?”
I heard her voice.”
None of your family is here.
You were hearing things,” Rrangruk explained placatingly.
Looking around the room for himself, John
conceded that his daughter was not there.
Disappointment vied with bewilderment for ascendancy in a war of
emotions. Rrangruk asked
him various questions, including how many fingers he was holding up, was
he dizzy, and so on until he was satisfied that there had been no
lasting damage done. As
they walked away from the training facility, John explained what had
happened. “Do you have an
explanation for this?” he asked his Rylorr companion.
“No, I really don’t. But then there are many strange things in this universe
and there are metaphysical bonds that exist between those who are close
to each other that can’t be explained either.”
As the days passed by, the training
sessions intensified. Sometimes
they were at night, sometimes during the day.
Most of the time the fighting was extremely fast and unwavering.
All of the time, his opponents seemed tireless.
The sessions had taken on the air of military commando training
and the professor was becoming heartily sick of it.
Occasionally John felt that same presence again, but he never
reacted to it.
The present training session was with the
staves again. After an
intensely long bout, Garingon, his present opponent, was able to reach
in and catch him in the diaphragm with the end of the staff.
His breath whooshed out of his lungs and he collapsed to the mat.
The Rylorr rumbled in laughter and held his hand out for him.
After a moment, John took it and allowed himself to be pulled to
his feet. "I sincerely hope that the regeneration machine is still
calibrated for the human body, because I will need it before you are
done with me," John growled. Garingon
laughed some more.
The ursoid’s humor was lost on the human
at the moment. "Garingon,
I am fit enough to travel. What
is the real reason for keeping me here now?
First it was the regeneration, then gaining strength, then the
battles, which I hear have temporarily ended, and now this...this
military therapy," John exclaimed in exasperation.
For some reason, John was feeling as though
someone was stalling him, holding him here in this city for some unknown
reason. And that belief had
been a major source of irritation to him for the past several days.
Looking back at his time in the Rylorr city, he felt that he had
been most amenable and cooperative.
When Rrangruk suggested that he learn the language of the Rylorr,
John had complied. In fact,
owing to his ability to learn languages quickly, he was quite conversant
now. When Rrangruk
suggested that he would not startle the people if he had more hair, John
had grumbled a bit, but grew a beard and mustache; such as he had
sported in his college days. It
was just now at a point of looking decent, in fact, very Elizabethan, he
His sparring partner growled something
about seeing his commander and then handed John the long staff. Garingon got into an offensive stance and without checking to
see if John was ready, attacked.
This time, the professor decided to fight smart.
John dropped the staff and grabbing Garingon's right arm, leaned
into the Rylorr's body and flipped the bear-man over his shoulder.
The floor almost shook when the massive, shaggy body landed.
Garingon just looked up at John and blinked his blue-gray eyes.
"Where did you learn to do that?"
"Something I was taught when I was
preparing for my space flight. I
also wanted to show you that I don't need any more training, I am fit to
leave and find my family anytime now," John said.
"If I can't go with your people's help, then I will go
without it. Tell your commander that, Garingon."
John stalked off as the bear-man slowly got to his feet, watching
the frustrated human through narrowed eyes.
Mmringorr's son, Hmrin, found the human
boy, Will Robinson, in the lower level of his family's dwelling, in the
room that served both as a training room and a room of seclusion. With one of the long staffs, Will was literally pounding the
practice dummy to death. Sweat
was dripping down the freckled cheeks and the intensity of the boy's
glare was disturbing to Hmrin. The
Grringol watched silently until the human had worn himself out against
the mannequin of a Rylorr and had sunk down to the floor in exhaustion.
"Will, if that had been a real Rylorr,
it would have been dead some time ago," Hmrin growled softly.
The human was a quick study and knew a great deal of the Grringol
language, conversing with only minor difficulties.
Hmrin had taken a liking to the boy and even though there were
several years difference in their ages, as Hmrin was almost grown, Will
seemed to find in the Grringol, a friend, such as he had not had since
"That is what the Rylorr will get if
they get into your city and try to hurt Mom and my sisters," Will
"I have been told that you have a very
scientific mind, but I see no interest being taken in that
subject," Hmrin commented, probing gently.
"That is past, Hmrin," Will said
sharply. Grabbing the
staff, he swung at the dummy, landing a blow that knocked its head off.
"Because that is what you were doing
when your father had his accident?"
Hmrin asked, bluntly.
"Because that is what I was doing that
caused Dad's death! I don't
want to talk about it, Hmrin," Will retorted with a glare.
"It is a good thing to honor those who
have separated from us. Why
do you not so honor your father?" the Rylorr asked.
“From what your sisters and Don West have said, he was a very
honorable and brave man.”
“Yes, he was,” Will said softly, almost
in a whisper. He
stood silently, gazing at the headless fighting dummy, but obviously
seeing something else, something not confined inside the walls of the
room. "I don't know,
Hmrin. I just don't know.
But I do know that I couldn't bear to lose Mom or my
sisters," Will commented, the fire in his voice replaced by
sadness. "I have been
told that there is a group called the City Defense League.
I want to be a part of it. You're
a member, aren't you?" Hmrin
nodded. "Help me get in."
Hmrin looked dubious. "We will have to talk to your mother.
She has to give permission first."
"I'll bring it up to her.
It will give me something to do to help my family and
yours," Will said.
Maureen, too, was dubious, but consented
when told that the youth were never in combat and the league was more
like a club than a military group.
A faint prickling of fear touched her heart at the distance Will
had been putting between himself and his family, while at the same time
trying to act as though he were their protector.
She remembered John’s request to her and she felt that she had
let him down somehow. ‘What
can I do? How can I help
end part five
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