Divided Planet

 

 

 

Part Six-  Duplicity

 

Rrangruk watched his human friend pace back and forth in their living quarters.  On his insistence, John had moved in with the doctor while recuperating and undergoing therapy.  Rrangruk’s life-mate had died many year cycles ago and the living quarters had more than enough room to accommodate the human.  It had pleased him greatly to watch John Robinson’s progress and to learn more about this species of humanoid.   

The one thing that he had learned about humans was how very expressive of feelings they are.   His people, the Ugorrim, whether they were Rylorr or Grringol, expressed feelings mainly through the eyes and inflections of the voice.  But humans showed their feelings, not only with eyes and voice, but also with their whole face, and to a lesser degree with their hands.  Right now, John's whole body was a study of intense emotion.

Rrangruk had become very adept at reading human feelings and emotion.  He had also become very attached to this particular human.  From the very beginning when John Robinson had joked about his condition before the regeneration, Rrangruk had felt a bond building between himself and this man.  A twinge of guilt at his duplicity accompanied that self-revelation.  

"Rrangruk, why do you keep saying that I must wait?  What is the problem with this war of yours?  My family and I are not involved in it and have no desire to be," John ranted in between cycles of his pacing.  “For over three weeks I have been patient, even though my family thinks that I am dead.  From what I have been told, I might as well be, since they are presumably in the Grringol city!  But I have to try and get to them, or at least get word to them.  I have to let them know I am alive.”

"I empathize, John.  We just don't wish for you to be hurt.  You have been through regeneration once.  I don't want you to have to repeat that experience," Rrangruk said lamely.  John looked at him intently, as though able to see through the inane excuse.

"I have trusted you, Rrangruk, and I still do, but I think there is something going on that I am not being told about, and I don't like it.  For all I know, my family, thinking me dead, could have left Grringol, repaired the Jupiter II and taken off," John said morosely, his face clouding as the full implication of his situation sank in.

"That I know is not true.  Your ship is still resting where you left it," the physician told him.  Thankfully, he saw his friend's features soften with relief, but the pacing didn't end until a knock at the door of Rrangruk's dwelling surprised both of them.  

Rrangruk opened the door and stared at the military attaché standing in rigid attention.  "Supreme Commander Brrengrifferr orders the presence of the human."  The doctor looked around at John and saw him standing in the middle of the room, his arms folded and a look of stubborn determination on his face.  This was a meeting that Rrangruk felt boded ill for both sides, and he decided that for John's sake he had better accompany him, even if the supreme commander hadn't specified his presence.

 

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When John and Rrangruk entered the quarters of the Supreme Commander of the Rylorr, the doctor saw a shudder of disdain and revulsion pass briefly across Commander Brrengrifferr's countenance.  Glancing at John, Rrangruk decided that his human friend had not noticed or was ignoring it. 

"Human, you show a great deal of gratitude to the people who saved you," the commander said with deep sarcasm.  “We save you and all you talk about is leaving.  Without thanks or compensation of any kind.”  

Only a tightening of John's jaw muscles told Rrangruk that his friend was irritated.  To the others, the human looked calm and totally composed.

"Supreme Commander, don't misunderstand me.  I am very grateful to your people for saving my life and I will do what I can to repay the kindness that has been shown to me.  However, I must let my family know that I am alive.   My life mate believes me to be dead and to let her continue to think so is cruel.  Surely you can’t think that is too much to ask?"

Brrengrifferr glared at John.  The professor's eyes didn't waver and finally the commander shifted his gaze away from the human and onto Rrangruk.  The doctor almost shuddered at what he felt was coming next.  Brrengrifferr finally looked back at John.  "Human, you will be able to repay the Rylorr and find your life-mate as well.  You need to perform one simple task for us and then we will help you find the other humans."  

There was a silence following Brrengrifferr’s announcement that seemed so tangible as to be able to touch it.  John's eyes burned with unconcealed fury at the commander's last words.  His words were clipped and terse, the voice full of barely controlled anger.  "You are holding my family hostage to your precious war, Commander.  You probably know how precious my family is to me and that I would almost sell my soul to the devil himself in order to get back to them.”  John stated and then asked evenly, the effort to keep his voice under control obvious to Rrangruk. “What is this simple task?"

"You will be told later, at the right time.  Now you will train for it," Brrengrifferr commented.  He seemed unaware of, or interested in, the smoldering rage building up in the human, but Rrangruk saw it distinctly, and was feeling incensed himself at the treatment that his friend was receiving.  

"You are to deliver a crippling device to the main Grringol power plant, John," Rrangruk informed him.  

Commander Brrengrifferr stood up to his full height, which was at least a foot taller than John’s height and roared at Rrangruk.  "How dare you usurp my authority!   You are playing a dangerous game, Rrangruk."  

Rrangruk straightened up as well and spoke boldly, looking Commander Brrengrifferr directly in the eye.  "John Robinson is not some pet brimbol on a leash, which you can jerk one way and it goes in the direction you want.   If we want Commander Robinson to do something dangerous, then we should be straightforward and honest with him," Rrangruk stated vehemently.   

"He is a humanoid," Brrengrifferr snarled.  Irritation flared and John was about to open his mouth to say something, but Rrangruk intervened.

"That is true.  And humans are thinking, feeling sentient beings, as are we.  Humans have a depth of feeling and a level of intelligence not one whit less than the Ugorrim have.  Do not treat him like some moronic slave.  That would be a regrettable action," Rrangruk said.   John was beginning to feel a bit embarrassed by the whole exchange, although he was grateful to Rrangruk for interceding for him with the apparently bigoted commander.

"Are you threatening me?" the commander asked softly, leaning toward the doctor, a deadly glint in his eye.

"No, Commander.  I am just stating facts."  Rrangruk said in a somewhat more conciliatory tone.

Brrengrifferr sat pondering for a moment.  For several minutes, there was almost no sound in the room.  Some of the guards didn't dare breathe; the atmosphere in the room was so tense.

John was the one who broke the silence.  "Supreme Commander, please let me explain that I am the leader of a space expedition, a scientist, a teacher and not a soldier.  I am also not a mercenary; I cannot be hired or blackmailed for any price to be the cause of any sentient's death.  Not even for the promise of seeing my family, which by the way, I don't think you can positively make." 

Rrangruk noticed the defiance melt away to a great sadness.  The doctor laid his hand on his friend's arm, knowing full well the extent of John’s sacrifice.  Brrengrifferr looked surprised for a brief moment before he could conceal his emotions.  His face was unreadable for several more minutes, then a look of solicitous generosity spread across his features.  

"John Robinson," Commander Brrengrifferr said gruffly.  "You misunderstand.  You will not be planting a device of death, you will be causing the disruption of utilities in the cave systems of the Grringol, allowing us to go in with our people and peacefully take over.  No death, very little destruction and the two peoples will be united once again."

It was John’s turn to look surprised.  He pondered Brrengrifferr’s words, the commander’s tone of voice and he was uneasy.   "Then you believe that your troops will expect little resistance and therefore no fighting?” John asked.  He still hated getting involved with local politics, but he knew that he and his family would never be reunited as long as this infernal war lasted.   John had the nagging feeling that there was something about this whole scenario that smacked of deceit, but he felt he had no recourse right now, except to trust Rrangruk and proceed with caution in his dealing with the Supreme Commander.

"There will be no fighting, because the Grringol will be crippled by the darkness," Brrengrifferr assured him.  “And you will be the instrument of our reunification!”  

"All right, I will plant your device," John said with a sigh.  Somehow, he had ended up feeling like a mercenary anyway and he wasn't very happy with himself.  Brrengrifferr’s smile of triumph didn’t make him feel any better, either.

 

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Judy Robinson had sat at the computer terminal for what had seemed an eternity.  A quick study in languages, like her father, she had picked up the Grringol language rapidly and had spent a great deal of time teaching herself the written language as well.   Unable to convey the entirety of her feelings to the others, especially her mother, Judy had, instead, devoted much of her time studying the Grringol and their culture.  She had been devastated by her father's death, having been very close to him.  When she was little, she had been referred to as "Daddy's girl," a nickname that had stuck until she had reached her teens.  But even in adolescence, she confided things to him that she had never told her mother.  It was not that she didn't love her mother dearly, and even confide in her, it was just the nature of the bond that she and her dad had shared.  

Shaking her head, Judy pulled herself from her self-pity and studied the historical document in front of her.   "Tight muscles?"  She jumped at the voice behind her, not having heard Don's approach.  Without waiting for her answer, he began to massage her shoulders, something that she had come to enjoy of late.  And it wasn't just because he was good at it, but also because his presence comforted her and made her feel peaceful and calm.  

"A bit." she said.  "Don, did you know that these people have been at war for nearly a millennium?  The more recent histories and documents just record the confrontations; each confrontation resulting in another and being caused by the one before it."  

"Hmm," Don said.  "Interesting, what started it all?  Not even on Earth was there a war that lasted that long."  

"As far back as I can find right now, it seems to point to a family clan thing.  One clan had a dispute with the other clan and they split up and later started fighting.  I haven't been able to find the root cause of the dispute.  I'm not even sure if a record exists to explain the origin of the war," Judy explained.  "But one thing is interesting.  The two groups seem to be of divergent color types.  The Grringol are a brown furred people and the Rylorr are a white furred group."  

"I noticed that on a propaganda commercial on their television.  Could this be racial?" Don asked, curious.  

"Certainly points that way.  Maybe a mutation in the past caused a few individuals to have a variant fur color and they were persecuted," Judy conjectured.  She sighed, rubbing her temples with her fingers, wondering how her father would figure out this problem.  Again, she took a moment to hear in her mind the words he had said through her mother.  That led to other memories…  

Daddy had just come home from work, still excited that his space probe, Deep Throat, had found a habitable planet relatively nearby.  Then he announced the colonization project; the project that would eventually take them away from everything she knew and was familiar with.  

“I hope they’re tough,” she had commented, mostly in jest.  

“I am considering putting our name in for the first mission,” Dad had said. 

She had stared in shock, her sixteen-year-old mind reeling at the thought of a total cessation of social activities.  “No!  You can’t do this to me!” she had shouted. 

There was deep disappointment in his eyes.  “Just think about it, Princess,” was all he said at the time.   

And she did think about it, and when their family had actually been selected, she had made up her mind to stay behind, living with her Aunt Colleen, even as she trained with her family for the upcoming mission.   

Then Don West was picked to be the pilot of the colonization mission, and that changed everything.  Judy almost chuckled when she remembered Mom’s reaction to her attraction for the high-strung pilot with a reputation of being a ‘ladies’ man.’  

"Hello," Don said, waving his hand in front of Judy's face.  "Are you thinking about your dad?" 

And Judy realized, with a start, that Don also missed Dad terribly.  "Yes.  Did I ever tell you what he told Mom to convey to me?" she asked in a low voice.

"No, but I can guess, based on what he told me.  He told you to get hitched to the nearest space pilot and cruise the stars," he quipped, leaning down and kissing her ear.  "I suppose that the only reason for my reticence was the uncertainty and danger that we seemed to face all the time."  Don sighed lustily.  

"You guessed right and I know what you mean.  I had the same feelings, but Dad kept telling me that if we loved each other, it was silly to let the circumstances be just right before we married.  He said once that the circumstances might never be just right," she said softly, fighting tears that wanted to come to the surface.   

"He was right, you know." Don leaned down again, and putting his arms around her, whispered in her ear.  "Will you marry me, Judy Robinson?"

She gasped in surprise and looked up into his dark eyes, eyes that were full of gentle, but passionate love.  "Yes, Don West, I will."   Tears of joy as well as sadness coursed down her cheeks.  Pushing her chair aside with her foot, Judy took Don in a tight embrace, and they enjoyed a long passionate kiss to consummate their engagement.

The few other patrons of the computer center softly whuffed in amusement at the two humans' display of affection, but the humans ignored them completely.  

Judy and Don spent a great deal of the evening walking the corridors, talking, making plans and enjoying one another's company.  After spending some time in a cavern that had been made into a park, the couple returned to the dwelling of Mmringorr, the Grringol who had befriended them.  A long goodnight kiss ended the perfect evening.

   

End chapter 6

 

 

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