Divided Planet

 

 

 

Part Seven: Espionage

 

 

As she prepared for bed in the darkened room, Judy heard Penny talking in her sleep.  Penny's dream seemed to be pleasant and from what she could understand, was about Dad.  Then Penny started crying softly and Judy realized that her sister was awake.  Sitting down next to her, Judy took Penny in a comforting hug and let the younger girl cry on her shoulder until she was awake enough and composed enough to talk to her.  Penny was a bit incensed that she had awakened as quickly as she had, wanting to spend as much time as she could watching the vision of her father working out with the white Ugorrim. 

“It’s not fair.  I wake up before I’ve seen Dad nearly as much as I want to.”  After the first night, Penny had realized that she was seeing something real and not a dream.   This had happened almost every night for the past week, and every night she awoke feeling the same loss and disappointment.  Usually she was alone when this happened, but this time Judy was there to console her.  

“I have dreams about Dad, too, and I wish they’d go on forever.  Last night I dreamed about the time we went to Disneyland.  You got lost and Mom….”

"But Judy, you don't understand, this is not a dream.  This isn't something from the past; it's like it's happening now.  If it was a real dream, I would be seeing familiar things, not a place that is totally unfamiliar," Penny explained patiently to her sister.

Judy turned on the light to its lowest setting.  Her face held conflicting emotions- disbelief and curiosity.  "Tell me about it."

"I saw Dad working out with an Ugorrim, like I have most of time.  Tonight he seemed to be training in some kind of a dimly lit room, running down corridors, around machinery, past Ugorrim.  Almost like a soldier.  He spent a little time working out with something that resembled a nightstick," Penny recalled.

"But what specifically tells you this is not a simple dream, I mean we are around Ugorrim all the time, and Dad did military training before we launched," Judy said, and then chuckled.  "And he complained about it bitterly the whole time he was training.  'Why does a scientist have to learn to be James Bond?' he asked, you remember?"

"Yes, I do, but he wasn't wearing a beard and mustache at that time, and the Ugorrim are all white, not brown like our Grringol," Penny explained.  “They were Rylorr.”

Judy blanched and then asked, “But you’ve seen Rylorr on TV haven’t you?”

"Yes, but that argument is meaningless.  Dad is with the Rylorr.  They found him, healed him and are now making him be a soldier.”  Penny’s eyes glistened with hope along with conviction.  “Daddy is alive, Judy.”  

“Wait a minute, Penny.”

“No, you wait a minute.  This was no dream.  At first I wondered who I was looking at, because I was not seeing Dad’s face clearly and because I ‘knew’ that he was dead, but the way he moved made me hope.  Then when I saw his face, I wondered.  After awhile, I knew these were not dreams.Penny was emphatic.

Judy sat stunned.  Her sister was very sensitive, and at times emotional.   But in this, she saw no hint of hysteria.  Penny was confident and self-assured in her belief, and Judy was beginning to have hope herself.  “Penny, I think it’s time for Mom to hear this,” she said softly.  “And by the way, how did Dad look with a beard?”

“At first I thought it looked a bit sinister, like a pirate, but he looks rather roguish in it,” Penny smiled at her sister.

                                             

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John peered around the corner of the narrow corridor, the night lenses compensating for the almost total darkness.  Sweat poured from his face.  The caves and corridors were interminably long and it seemed that he had been running down most of them to get to this facsimile of the Grringol power plant.

Taking a deep breath, he dashed down the left-hand passageway and into the generating room.  The dim lighting was bright in the lenses and John adjusted the power.  In that brief second, though, he was spotted and an alarm went off.   The Ugorrim in front of him blocked his path and John twisted to one side, before doubling him over with an elbow to the stomach.  A two fisted blow to the back of his neck finished the job. 

Running past the soldier, John raced to the computer control terminal and sliding underneath, pulled a ten-pound canister from his backpack, set the magnetic attachment and then pushed the device against the bottom of the computer table.   Sliding out, he got to his feet and began running in the direction of the city's residential dwellings.  Then he winced as the lighting came up and the harsh glare hit his eyes.  Pulling off the lenses and rubbing his tired eyes, John waited for the evaluator to come in and chew him out yet again.  

Bitterly, he thought again about how much he hated being put in this situation.  There were questions that weren’t being answered, details that didn't make sense, and some that John felt were being left out altogether.

Garingon walked up to him and smiling his toothy smile, slapped him on the back.  That alone, John thought, should have sent him into regeneration.  As it was, he winced, coughed and glared at his trainer.  "John, you did exceedingly well tonight.  Except for being discovered by that guard, you were superb.  I think it is time for the mission to be carried out," Garringon boomed and left John in puzzled amazement.

If this had been the real thing and he had set off the alarms in the Grringol city, he would never have been able to find the rest of the Jupiter II crew and get them out.  Theoretically, he should have been rehearsing the scenario again, in order to get past the guard without setting off the alarms.  For John, this sealed the nagging doubts that he had been experiencing.  Brrengrifferr had no intention of him surviving the mission, and somehow, John believed that the Supreme Commander had no intention of many of the Grringol surviving his spy mission either.

 

                                   *************************************

 

“Doctor, is the human ready for his mission?” Brrengrifferr asked.

“Commander, I think that he needs two more weeks,” Rrangruk said.

“Why, is he not well?  Garingon said the training has gone well.”  

“As I mentioned at the time of the training mishap seven revolutions ago, tissue regeneration requires patience.  Commander Robinson has healed, but human tissues appear to be more delicate than our own.  He is still at the stage were re-injury is not only possible, but much more likely.  That was why I protested such strenuous training.”

“But he is well?” Brrengrifferr asked again.   

“Yes, Commander.”  

“Good, the mission will go as planned,” the supreme commander declared.   Rrangruk just nodded and sighed.

 

                                            **************************  

 

The next morning, in the dwelling that John shared with Rrangruk, he examined the dummy canister, looking inside to get an idea of what could possibly be contained in the real device. So intent was he that he didn't hear Rrangruk's soft footfall until the Rylorr was at his shoulder.  John started and looked up at his roommate.  "Some spy I make, being so easily sneaked up on like this."

Rrangruk whuffed slightly in amusement and then sobered quickly when he saw what the human was doing.  "John, you have seemed morose lately.   Are you all right?  And what in the world are you doing with that?"

"Can we take a stroll down to the park, Rrangruk? I feel a bit tense now that I am actually going on this mission and I need to release a little energy," John suggested, not knowing if the dwelling had listening devices.  He certainly wouldn't put it past Brrengrifferr.  Rrangruk nodded, puzzled by his friend's behavior.

The park was a cavernous room slightly smaller than the exercise room, well lit with soft glowing lights on the walls.  Fern-like bushes illuminated by special growing lights lined the paths.  A shallow pool gurgled and splashed in the middle of the cavern, small streams providing inlets and outlets for the water.  Slightly luminescent water creatures swam beneath the surface.

As they followed a path parallel to one of the streams, John presented his suspicions to the doctor.  "Rrangruk, I once told you that I trusted you, but felt that there was something going on.  I still do.  If you are involved in what I think is going on, it won't matter if I tell you, because either way, I will be dead."

"John, what are you saying?" Rrangruk declared, astonished at the statement.  

"Rrangruk, I don't believe that the goal of this mission is the quiet and bloodless takeover of the Grringol.  I believe that it is the annihilation of the Grringol race."

"No, John, you can't be serious!"  Rrangruk exclaimed in disbelief.  Then he looked closely at the human's face and saw that he was deadly serious.  Calming down, the ursoid walked next to his human companion for a few minutes before saying anything else.  "Tell me what has brought you to that conclusion, please." 

"All right.  I offered to make the operation even more simple and less destructive by getting into the Grringol central computer and crippling the utilities that way.  I was rebuffed.  I know that with some training on your computers I could do that.  That is one of my fields of expertise."  John looked at the Rylorr and saw he had his complete attention.  

"I question the need for a ten pound canister to deliver a small charge to disrupt electrical power to the Grringol city.  A ten pound canister is large enough to contain a nuclear device big enough to destroy the city." John saw Rrangruk's eyes widen at the implication of John's statement.  

"And the training only goes far enough to get me into the generating center, not to get out and certainly not to find my family," John said softly.  "Do you understand my fears about this whole thing?  I truly believe that Brrengrifferr is determined to win this war at any cost."

Neither said anything for the space of five minutes.  "John, if what you are saying is true, what do we do about it?"  Rrangruk asked softly, his voice barely above a whisper.   

"Is there any way to switch the devices today in order for me to examine the real thing?"  John asked, gratified that his friend was at least taking him seriously.

Rrangruk pondered for a moment.  A human, someone, who just a bit less than four weeks ago was a stranger to him, was asking him to assist him in a treasonous act.  But as he thought of his dealings with John, and then his knowledge of the temperament of the Supreme Commander, he saw where his trust had to be.  "Yes, I believe that we might be able to do that.  The real canister has been kept and worked on in the laboratory adjacent to the hospital."  Then Rrangruk paused as he pondered the implications of his statement.  "If it is a mass destruction device, and they have been working on it near the hospital."  

John just shrugged.  "Somehow, I don’t think Brrengrifferr really cares."

 

                                            *********************************

   

Later that day, Rrangruk and John walked through the corridor from the hospital to the laboratory.  John, for all intents and purposes had the puppy-doggish attitude of one excited to be actually getting to do something that had been anticipated for a long time.  Several technicians whuffed in amusement and Rrangruk didn't have to explain much of their purpose in being there.  The doctor would have been amused at the performance of his friend, if their purpose hadn't been so deadly.   

The training that John had received made the actual switch fairly simple.  Having been assured by the amused technicians that there was nothing on the outside that would set off the small charge, they had let John hold and examine the canister, watching his face rather than his hands. Rrangruk was amazed at how smooth the human acted the part of an eager soldier and even he didn't see the devices change hands.  He knew that if Brrengrifferr were aware of this breach of security by the two techs who were watching over the device, they would be summarily executed.

Soon the pair was back at Rrangruk's apartment and carefully opening up the real canister.  Having been assured that there were no listening devices in the dwelling, John had still insisted on quiet.  He had also taken the precaution of dimming the lights down quite low and was using the night vision lenses.   

"Paranoid, aren't you," Rrangruk said softly in John's ear, and then was silent.

“Cautious.”  John undid the canister’s outer casing and slipped it off the internal workings.  Inside he saw that there was a magnetically triggered detonator in one end and a small lead encased package taking up most of the rest of the space.   Further examination showed enough explosive, in John’s opinion, to destroy an area at least a hundred square kilometers, well above that of the Grringol city.  "Any other questions, doctor?" he asked softly, with a bitter edge to his voice.  He handed the lenses to Rrangruk, who, holding them up to his eyes, saw the deadly contents for himself.   

His breath hissed between his teeth.  John laid his free hand on his friend's arm to calm him and keep him from making any outcry.  "Now we slightly change the situation, Doctor.  John took the lenses back and began working, Rrangruk at his side, assisting.  

When John had finished with the canister, it looked the same and felt the same, but its internal workings were vastly different.  The lead casing covered a harmless packet of wires with a fake explosive core.  It looked authentic, but would do no more damage than to blow apart a few pieces of furniture.  At least that is what John hoped.  

Later, John and Rrangruk went for a walk again, this time shortly before it was time for John to see Brrengrifferr again.  Walking in one of the hydroponics gardens, John was astounded at the level of sophistication.  Neatly laid out beds held vegetables in various stages of growth, lamps overhead glowing softly.  At intervals there were rows of dwarf fruit trees.  Turning to his friend, and bringing his mind back to the present he said, "Rrangruk, I have no idea what can be done from this end to stop the plans of the commander.  But you do realize that he cannot be allowed to continue on this course. I have done a little research myself, when I was afforded the time,  and I noticed a great decline in the population of your peoples over the past hundred or so years.  I can only surmise that it has something to do with the endless battles.  

"Rrangruk, I see a people heading for extinction, and I believe it's because all available resources are used in fighting one another instead of trying to make life better for the entire Ugorrim population," John said fervently.  "Am I correct that this is the only remaining Rylorr city?"  

"Yes, John, you are correct.  And you have made some very astute observations.  The city that you are going to is the last remaining Grringol city, also," Rrangruk commented sadly.  "I have often wondered when our people would be no more and some group of humans would be shaking their heads in the future wondering why a race could be so stupid with its destiny."

"Humans aren’t saints either, Rrangruk," John said with a laugh.  "One of the members of my crew was a saboteur, who get caught on board during our ship's launch, otherwise we would never have met."

"And you let him live?"  Rrangruk asked, incredulously.  

"Yes, sometimes, to my regret.  But Rrangruk, I cannot just premeditatedly kill someone, even if that person planned and tried to execute my death."

"Maybe that's why it will be humans studying our remains," Rrangruk said.

"I would imagine that there are many Ugorrim who are sick of this endless war.” John said philosophically.    "All Hell is going to break loose, when that device blows a lot of smoke and debris and nothing else."

The Rylorr looked puzzled.  "What do you mean?" 

"I mean it’s not going to take very long to see the obvious when the explosive knocks a few legs off some tables and there is no mass destruction," John explained with a smile.   "I'm worried for you, because, I believe you will be suspect." 

Nodding, Rrangruk asked another question, effectively changing the subject.  "How are you going to arrange for the dummy device to blow up?  I didn't think it contained anything except material to give it the same weight."

"It didn't until I tinkered with it, shortly before we made the exchange," John explained, laughing. "It has just enough explosive to make someone here think that something has happened to the Grringol, and call out the troops.  I hope that Brrengrifferr’s actions will show your people what his aim really is, and cause a bit of rethinking on the part of the Rylorr.  The Grringol will stir to action, too.  I only hope that action isn’t a full-scale attack.  At the very least though, I am hoping that the confusion will allow me to find the rest of my crew."  

"Yes, it has become obvious to me that no one ever intended on giving you information to help you find them.  Maybe I can help a bit, since I have been in on some of the planning of this operation when I thought it was a simple, bloodless coup," Rrangruk commented.  "Let's go to my office where I keep my notes."

 

 

End part seven

 

 

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