Divided Planet

 

 

 

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 session.”  

“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 apologetically.   Garingon 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 living quarters.   

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 was.  I have no idea why he turned from the bout like that,” Garingon retorted.   

“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?”  

“Yes.  I heard her voice.”  

“No, John.  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.”

                                                     

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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 thought, wryly.

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?" Garingon queried. 

"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.

 

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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 leaving Earth.

"That is what the Rylorr will get if they get into your city and try to hurt Mom and my sisters," Will retorted.  

"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 him?’

 

end part five

 

 

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