Divided Planet

 

 

 

Part Eight- Counter Espionage

 

 

Dr. Zachary Smith was becoming heartily sick of life underground.  There was nothing wrong with his treatment at the hands of the Grringol.  They were kind to all the humans, but the incessant threats of attack by the Rylorr, Will Robinson's morbid withdrawal into himself and then his involvement with the so-called Defense League, (Grizzly Bear Scouts, he disdainfully called them), left the old man a bit lonely and in the throes of self-pity and nervousness.  

Not that he wasn't usually in the throes of self-pity and nervousness, but he didn't have anyone to sympathize with him this time.  Most of the Grringol didn't understand English, the Robot was back in the ship, Don West was enamored with Judy Robinson, and would have probably been nasty with him anyway, and Mrs. Robinson spent a great deal of her time working on computers or trying to work out their release with the Grringol officials.  

Moaning a bit, Smith considered his options.  The Robot!  If he could just make contact with the Robot!   If he could establish a remote link with the robot, at least he would have someone to talk to that would sympathize, in a manner of speaking.  

In the computer center, Smith sat down at one of the machines and logged on, then found himself in the middle of a problem that he hadn't foreseen.  The writing was in the Grringol language.  He hadn't bothered to learn the spoken language that well, much less the written language.  Sighing, he was about to sign off, when he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"Dr. Smith, what a surprise to find you here," Maureen said pleasantly.  Mrs. Robinson was almost always pleasant, even when everyone else was upset with him.

"Yes, Mrs. Robinson, I was trying to access the computer on the Jupiter II," he said glumly.

Laughing, Maureen sat down in the chair next to him.  It was much too tall for her and her feet didn't reach the floor.  His barely did.  Very inconsiderate of the Grringol, he thought sarcastically.

"Dr. Smith, although I believe that the Robot could link into the computers here, he hasn't been commanded to and I don't think these computers have the capability to initiate a remote link to the Jupiter II," she explained patiently.  "But I believe I could do that with the lap top that was in the chariot.  And I think it would be a wonderful idea to link up with the robot.  We would be able to find out the status of the ship."

As they returned to their living quarters to use the portable computer, Smith noticed a great deal more activity among the Grringol.  They seemed nervous and anxious.  Sighing, Smith figured it was due to another impending attack.

When will it ever end? he thought.

Turning on the computer, Maureen keyed in the codes and soon the voice of the Robot was greeting them.  "What is the status of the ship, Robot?" Maureen asked. 

"Two moorings were ripped loose, but there is no structural damage and the central computer core is undamaged," he intoned.   "Please inform Professor Robinson that the ship will be ready whenever he is ready to return."

Maureen sat silent for a minute.  Smith leaned over and spoke into the audio link-up.  "You bubble-headed booby, Prof. Robinson is dead."  

There was a short silence.  "I was unaware of that fact.  I am sorry, Mrs. Robinson.  I will miss interacting with the professor," the Robot returned.  

"Thank you, Robot, I, too, will miss 'interacting' with John," Maureen finally said.  "Please make a link with the city computers in our location, if you are able.  That way we can contact you, even if we don't have the lap top."  

"Yes, Mrs. Robinson," the Robot replied.

Maureen left a few minutes later, and Smith was able to banter with the Robot alone.  He got great pleasure in repeating a few of the epitaphs that he regularly used on the Robot.  When he was finished and disconnected the link, he felt much better.

 

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As she left her apartment, Maureen pondered the conversation she had had with her daughters the previous day.  When Judy and Penny had told her about the 'visions,' her heart had flared with hope, but logic told her it wasn't possible.   She kept trying to put the overly optimistic thoughts to one side, but something kept nagging at her to confide in Angrolin, Mmringorr's wife, or at least ask her the questions that had bothered her since she had spoken with the girls.

"Angrolin," she said, when she found the Grringol woman.  "May I ask you a couple of questions?"

"Certainly, Maureen.  What is on your mind?" Angrolinís blue-green eyes gazed steadily at the human. 

"Do you have the technology for the regeneration of damaged tissue?" she asked.

"What a strange question, Maureen, but yes, we do.   Donít your people?" the Grringol answered.  "Although, I hear that the Rylorr have perfected the process better than we have.  Are you ill?"

"No, just hear me out and then I'll tell you why I am asking these strange questions," Maureen reassured her friend.  "Can I assume that the place where my husband died is in Rylorr territory?" she asked hopefully.

"Yes, Maureen, or we would have recovered his body a long time ago, for a proper separation ceremony," she said softly.  The Grringol noticed a flush building on the cheeks of the human.  Her friend seemed excited.

"Angrolin, there may not be a body to recover," Maureen said softly, and proceeded to explain her daughter's night visions, hope building in her heart, but still firmly tempered by the logic in her mind.

Angrolin, too, was excited.  This was certainly within the realm of possibility for the Grringol woman, and she was happy for her human friend.  The only thing that dampened her happiness, was the fact that if the visions were true, then John Robinson was in the hands of their enemy, and was for all practical purposes, still separated from his life-mate.

 

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John stood before the Supreme Commander with barely disguised contempt. The Rylorr was fairly dripping with courtesy and feigned politeness, but the professor had learned to pick out the nuances of voice inflection and eye movement among the Rylorr and he knew that Brrengrifferr was just putting on a show for him.  Standing there listening, John had a sudden insight as to what might help his odds of finding the others in the Grringol city and of helping the Ugorrim people achieve peace.

"John Robinson, I have been told that you are ready to undertake the mission to unite the Ugorrim people.  You cannot imagine the gratitude of the Rylorr people for your efforts on their behalf," Brrengrifferr gushed.   

"And I am ready to begin, also.  I am eager to see this to its completion and find my people, especially my life-mate," John said solemnly.  Well, at least he was truthful in that regard, but he had to mentally laugh at the two of them sitting there smiling pleasantly and otherwise, lying through their teeth.  

"There is one thing that I must do before I travel to the Grringol city, though, and that is to return to my spaceship and activate her systems for the return of her crew," John told the commander, with a smile.  'Take the bait,' he thought fervently.

"How astute of you.  That is a wise precaution, Professor Robinson.  Your ship is not too far from one of our access points.  I am sure that it would not take you too long to do that," Brrengrifferr said pleasantly.  Rrangruk looked askance at John, but said nothing.   "Would you be ready to leave tomorrow afternoon, in order to get to the Grringol caves during the early morning hours of their sleep cycle?" the commander asked.

"Yes, I would, Commander, and I thank you for your consideration." John left with Rrangruk.  The doctor had a million questions flashing in his eyes and John knew he would be inundated with them when they were in a place where they could talk freely.

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"Rrangruk, would you accompany me to my ship?"  John asked his friend, when they had returned to the Rylorr's apartment.

"Of course, John, but why the need to go to your ship?  And why did the commander agree so quickly?  I was of the opinion that he wanted you to start your mission tonight."  Rrangruk looked to be ready to ask another question, but John cut him off with a wave of his hand.

"I will answer all of your questions when we get to the Jupiter II," John told him.  "You will need your translator, though, because I will be speaking standard Earth English when we get to the ship."

John donned cold weather gear and the pair made their way across a snow swept landscape to the space ship that had been his and his family's home for the past three years.  "The reason that I insisted on coming to my ship is that there is something that I might be able to do to help your people.  I also wanted to try and contact my life-mate, and let her know of my impending arrival.  Let her know that I'm not dead," he added, quietly.

They walked up to the Jupiter II, which was also covered with a light coating of snow.  Apparently the Robot had shut down most of the life support, which made sense, he certainly didn't need it.  "Welcome to the Jupiter II, Rrangruk. It isn't much, but it's home," John stated, looking at the battered ship with a fondness borne of separation.   Never did a home look so inviting and comforting.  It would only have been better if Maureen and the children had been on the ramp to greet him.  Soon, he thought, Very soon.

"And the reason the commander acquiesced so quickly, was he saw the opportunity to have a space ship in his hands when I was vaporized along with the Grringol," John said disdainfully.  "I had counted on his greed when I thought of coming here.  Luckily I wasnít disappointed."  

"Robot, lower the ramp."  John waited for a few minutes and when nothing happened, he called again.  "Robot, it's me, John Robinson.  Lower the ramp, it's getting cold out here!"  

A slightly muffled voice greeted him.  "It does not compute that you are Professor Robinson.  I was informed that Professor Robinson is dead."

"A slightly misguided notion that you can disprove for yourself, if you will use the heat generators and get rid of the snow.  Or better yet, lower the ramp and I can come in and show you," John said, a bit testily, stamping his feet to maintain warmth and circulation.

The snow began to melt from the port view screen and John saw the Robot standing there.  The professor noticed that a couple of mooring lines had snapped, but the Jupiter II itself seemed to be in incredibly good shape.  Taking off his snow lenses, John stared at the view port.  "Do a retinal scan if you don't believe your audio sensors."

A half a minute later the ramp was lowered.  Motioning to Rrangruk, who had been silently observing the entire exchange, the pair entered the ship.  Although chilly inside, John noticed that the life support had been brought back on line and the air was moderating rapidly.  

"Welcome aboard, Professor Robinson," the Robot intoned.  "Why did Dr. Smith and your wife believe you to be dead?"

"Because for all practical purposes, I nearly was."  And John quickly told the Robot the main points of the recent past.

"I am certainly glad for your complete recovery, but something doesn't compute."

"What's that?" John asked in slight amusement.

"I do not understand the need to grow facial hair," the Robot said dryly.

John laughed and Rrangruk whuffed.  "The Rylorr like their associates to have plenty of hair, so this was my compromise. By the way, this is Rrangruk, the physician who was responsible for my recovery."  Rrangruk bowed and the Robot bid him welcome. "Robot, do you think that you could link up with the Rylorr and Grringol television broadcast frequencies?"

"I have already made a link into the Grringol computer system, as requested by Mrs. Robinson.  A link to broadcast frequencies should be fairly simple."

"Good.  I am going to make a video-cast that I want sent out later at a certain time.  Get the recorders ready," John ordered. 

The Robot made a couple of adjustments on the computer keyboard with his pincer like hand.  "Anytime you are ready, Professor Robinson, the recorders are."  

John straightened up and began the speech that he had rehearsed in his head ever since he had come up with this idea.  He certainly hoped that it would be good enough.  He smiled and began, "I am Professor John Robinson, commander of the Jupiter II exploratory expedition from Earth...."

It took three tries before John was satisfied that it was just the way he wanted it, and then he instructed the Robot to keep the video stored to be broadcast to both cities when he had planted the counterfeit device.  "Now make sure that you carefully monitor all communications, Rylorr and Grringol, and start the broadcast as soon as you know that an explosive device has gone off in the Grringol city."  

"Affirmative, Professor Robinson."

"Let's make a test and make sure the links are in order.   Pull up one of our star charts and broadcast it for about five seconds. Then monitor the television broadcast to see if your intrusion was noted," John instructed.

The Robot complied and John was gratified to hear him report that the Robot's broadcast had been noted by both cities.

"Good, Robot, now I also want you to memorize Dr. Rrangruk's voice and retinal patterns.  He may have to take refuge on the Jupiter II," John said in a serious tone.  

Rrangruk stared at his friend.  "Do you think it will be that bad?"  he asked.  

"I hope not, but I don't want to take any chances, Rrangruk.  I want you to come here if you even think you are being sought by Brrengrifferr."  

"Thank you, John," Rrangruk said softly.  

"Now Robot, link me through to the lap top computer."  John sat down at the terminal and began typing a message that was generic enough for any member of the crew to read.  In it, he outlined instructions to meet him near the generating plant if at all possible, or near the governmental offices if not. 

Thanks to Rrangruk, John had the information he needed to get close to the dwelling places of government employees, which is where the Rylorr intelligence had discovered his family to be staying.  Ideally, it would be wonderful to have everyone waiting near the utility plant, but John realized that that was a long shot, at best.  

Finishing the message and then sending it, John sat back and sighed, wishing he could do more to ensure the success of this venture, but hoping that he had done enough.  Turning to the Robot, he gave final instructions.  "Robot, if by some chance any other Rylorr come to the ship besides Rrangruk, or if Rrangruk comes with others, then do not admit them." 

Rubbing his eyes, he got up, stretched and yawned, and then turned to the doctor.  "This espionage business is tiring.  Look around, find a bed to nap in, ask the Robot questions.  I think I'm going to take a short rest myself."

After a resting in his bed for a while, John finally gave up all pretense of sleeping and got up.  The cabin seemed too empty and lonely without Maureen, and he was too tense to sleep anyway.  Checking the computer terminal, John was gratified to see that the message had been received, although he was a bit puzzled that a reply hadn't been sent.  Not knowing the conditions in the Grringol city, John didnít send another message.  Instead, he shrugged, returned to the control room where his friend was conversing with the mechanical man, and, tapping Rrangruk on the shoulder, the two left.  As they walked away, John heard the ramp slide up into the belly of the ship.  

The Robot's voice called after him.  "Good luck, Professor Robinson."

 

end part eight

 

 

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