Divided Planet

 

 

 

 

Part Nine- The Mission Begins

 

 

Smith saw the light blinking on the laptop PC in Mrs. Robinson's room and went in to investigate.  Pushing the button that brought up the messages on the screen and adding the password she had given him, he blanched at what he saw.  'For the eyes of the Jupiter II crew only,' it said.  'This is John Robinson.  I am alive and well, and will be coming to the Grringol city tomorrow night to affect your rescue.  If at all possible, meet at the utility generating plant.  Come during the third quarter of the sleep cycle.  If that is not feasible, I will come to the dwellings near the governmental offices.  Please acknowledge.' 

Smith stared at the screen in horror.  "Gremlins," he whispered.  The letters seemed to light with an inner fire and burn into his mind.  Fear of the unknown made his mouth twitch.  Don West had to be playing a cruel joke on him.  That was it!  That would be like him to do that, to blame him for Professor Robinsonís death, to do anything to make his life miserable.  Reaching down, Smith placed a trembling finger on the delete button and the message was erased.  

 

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At the laboratory, John was officially presented with the device that he was taking to the Grringol city.  With a great smile, John pulled out the canister he had taken the day before and tossed it to one of the technicians.  "Here, you had better hang on to this, you wouldn't want me to get them mixed up, would you?" he asked. Carefully, he placed his newly received canister into the small backpack, which he then strapped to his back.

He also received a communicator that was supposed to be used to help him locate his family, and he placed that in a pocket, smiling in mock gratitude.  A light brown fur parka was provided not only for protection from the cold, but also from detection.  While traveling on the surface, a cursory glance by any watching Grringol, would show one of their own fleeing from Rylorr lands. 

His transportation was a two-wheeled motorized vehicle that remotely resembled the motorcycle his older brother had owned when they were younger.  Randy had let him borrow it occasionally, usually when John had something to hold over his mischievous brother's head.  Regardless of the circumstances of Johnís good fortune, Randy had promised instantaneous death, if so much as a scratch had appeared on his precious 'hog.'  John chuckled softly to himself as he remembered his brotherís protective attitude for his bike and thought wryly that in his present circumstances there was no reason to worry about scratches on this bike. 

Driving the machine was easily mastered, and in the mid-afternoon hours, John was ready to begin his mission.  As he set out, Rrangruk and Garingon, who were accompanying him on the first leg of his journey, flanked him.

It was a short trip to the scene of his near fatal accident, and standing on the edge of the crevasse near where he had fallen, seemingly so long ago, he shuddered in remembrance of that day.  The afternoon sun held a bit of warmth and tinted the snow-covered ground with a deep orange.  John just stood quietly for a moment letting the sun's light fall on his face.  He felt he had been underground far too long.  Shaking himself mentally, he turned his focus to the mission and his imminent reunion with his family.  Sighing, John checked the settings on the machine, and then turned to say his farewells to Rrangruk and Garingon. 

"John," Rrangruk approached and said softly.  "I hope for the sake of all the Ugorrim, you are successful.  I will do what I can here.  And may the deities guide you in finding your life-mate and the rest of your family."

"Thank you, Rrangruk.  And good luck to you as well.   I think weíll both need whatever luck and help from Deity that we can get."  John clasped the Rylorr's hand in a tight grip, and then turning to the machine, mounted and cranked the engine with a foot pedal.  It growled as though eager to begin, too, and with a wave to Garingon, John put the motorcycle into gear and roared off in the direction of the Grringol city. 

The snow tires gripped the surface without the slightest hint of slippage, and the vehicle made good time.  Although the cold air was biting even through the fur parka and snow lenses, John reveled in the comparative freedom that he had at the moment.  Glancing around him as he raced along, the professor enjoyed the warmth of the lowering sun on his back, and remembered similar scenes back on Earth, before the launch of the Jupiter II.  The clouds formed red and orange banners across the sky.  The faint outline of a crescent moon rose before him over the distant horizon.  The barren landscape and distant hills reminded him of the training facility he and his family learned survival skills at in the Texas panhandle.

It was shortly after the large, orange sun had set that he arrived at the hidden entrance to the Grringol city.  His timing had been perfect.  It was dark enough to begin his operation, hopefully without detection, and light enough to have found the entrance without using a flashlight.  Hiding the motorcycle among the rocks, John made his way into the small cave.  At first it was natural and he had to watch for spurs of rock jutting out from the walls.  Soon, however, the cave floor smoothed out as did the walls.  When he reached the door he used the code provided to him by Rylorr intelligence.  With his stun gun ready, John slipped through the partially opened door.  Two guards stared at him in surprised shock, unsure of just what kind of intruder he was.  Quickly John stunned one before either moved.  As the second guard jerked his weapon up, John kicked it out of his hands almost immediately following with a fist into the ursoidís belly.  As the Grringol doubled over, John stunned him, too.

Knowing that the parka would become too hot, John nevertheless kept it on, feeling that if it helped conceal his racial identity outside, it probably would help inside, too.  Jogging along at an easy pace, he soon found himself at the generating facility several hours ahead of time. 

John scouted around the perimeter of the facility, easily avoiding the few guards that sleepily paced back and forth, hoping to find his family waiting for him.  Finding no evidence of them, John was disappointed, but not surprised.  This was not normally a place where a whole group of humans could congregate without undue attention.  Returning to the facility, he decided that it was almost time to plant the altered device.   

John checked his watch and then sprinted to the center of the power plant cavern.  Reconnoitering from behind a support beam, he saw a guard between himself and his destination.  As soon as the watchman turned and started pacing the other direction, John aimed the stun gun and fired.  The guard dropped almost silently to a heap on the ground. 

The rest of the journey to the central computer was made without incident and John quickly found a metal table near a wall that would serve his purpose.   Sliding underneath, John slid out of the parka, and then took off the pack.  Pulling out the canister, he activated the magnet and fastened it underneath the table.  Then he grabbed the parka and ran as fast as he could to a door on the far side of the plant.  One thing John had been unable to determine was the exact amount of time allotted for the detonation, although his best guess was that it was probably not much.

John met only one more guard as he made his way toward the exit.  Pulling out the stun gun clipped to his waist, he fired a round and raced past the Grringol as the guard slid to the ground, unconscious.  Just as he reached the door and jerked it open, his device detonated, making a tremendous reverberating roar that caused his ears to ring.  Machinery rattled, the ground shook slightly and smoke belched toward the ceiling of the cave.  A blizzard of finely powdered debris peppered his back and helped propel him out the door.

John winced, realizing that he had put a little too much explosive into the canister.  Immediately an alarm went off and the lights flickered out.  Activating the night lenses, John slid them over his face, and traveled in as fast a trot as he could in the direction that Rrangruk told him the government offices should be.  The corridor narrowed slightly as he continued his fast trot toward the center of the Grringol city and boxes and crates lined the walls.  About halfway to the next doorway, he detected a slight movement to his right and turned his head enough to see the long staff coming toward his mid-section.  Before he could jump aside, the object hit him, forcing the air from his lungs.  He doubled over gasping.  Glancing up, John was disgusted to see he had been bested by a very small, adolescent Grringol, and then as the long staff swung in a short arc toward his head, he realized that his assailant wasn't a Grringol at all, but human.  "Will," he gasped, as the end of the staff caught him across the right temple, and John fell unconscious to the cold ground.

 

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Will had gladly taken the assignment to help patrol the perimeter of the utilities plant. He had been getting tired of hearing Penny talk about her latest 'vision,' knowing that what she was talking about was an impossibility.  Dad was dead and no amount of dreaming would change that, just as no amount of wishing would change the fact that he was the reason for Dadís death.  Hmrin had chosen to accompany Will and much of the time they walked together and talked softly about whatever thoughts came to their minds.  Although Hmrin was almost grown, he was one of the few humanoids he had met that treated him like he was more than just a small child.  He felt on equal terms with the Grringol and therefore was comfortable with him.

"Will, do you not think that your sister's claim could be feasible.  Her descriptions are very detailed and very convincing.  And she sees things that are not normal for a regular dreaming."  Hmrin glanced sideways at his friend.

"No, I don't think itís possible.  And as much as I wish Dad were alive, he fell over seventy meters, Hmrin.  No one could survive that.  Not even an Ugorrim.  Not as badly as he was hurt," Will said, sadly.

"But, Will, the Rylorr have an excellent regenerating program.  And it is very likely that there is an entrance to their city in that area.Ē  He stopped when he saw his Willís lips tighten into a thin resolute line.  He sighed, seeing the signs of growing agitation and irritation.  ďI do suppose you are right, though."  Hmrin said nothing more on the subject and both friends walked in silence for several minutes.

"You check out that corridor, and I will look down this one.  Then our shift will be over and we can go home and get some sleep.  I have to go to school tomorrow, unlike some people I know."   Seeing the human flash him a quick smile, Hmrin chuckled and started down the passageway he had chosen.

Will had checked out about half of his corridor, in which crates and boxes were stored, when a loud roar came through the open door at the far end.  The boy saw a Grringol of perhaps medium height come through the doorway, and begin trotting down the corridor, toward him.  Just before the lights went out, Will noticed that he didn't have an identification badge.   The boy could only assume that this individual had caused the explosion in the generating facility.  Incensed that someone could effect that much damage so easily, Will was determined to capture this Ugorrim.  

By the sound of the Grringol's footsteps, Will readied his long staff and when he determined that the saboteur was in the right position, the boy stepped out into the corridor, and made a mighty swing, catching him right in the midsection.  With a loud gasp of out-rushing air, his victim doubled over, and as Will took the long staff across the Grringol's head, he could have sworn he heard his name called out.  The saboteur hit the ground hard. 

Will groped in the darkness and found the Grringol, but to his surprise, when he checked for a pulse, he found that he was not dealing with a Grringol at all, but a human.  The emergency lights came on and in the dimness, Will reached over and pulled off the human's night lenses.  Then he took the man's stun gun and transferred it to his own belt.  He was puzzled at the unknown human and wondered if the Rylorr had hired mercenaries to do their dirty work. 

He felt proud that he had stopped at least one of them, proud that he had been able to protect his family from an enemy intruder.  Peering closer at the face of the unknown human, Will was disturbed that even in the dimness, the bearded man looked familiar.  Placing the overly large night lenses over his face, the boy adjusted them and then gasped when he saw clearly who it was on the floor before him.

It was impossible.  No!! Will jerked back, unable to believe what was in front of him.  "Dad!!"  Will cried out in shock.  His mind reeled and his pulse quickened.  His throat seemed to close up on him so much that his chest hurt.  Penny was right.  Dad was alive!  Or was he?  Surely, Will thought to himself in panic, he hadn't caused his dad's death a second time.   Not againÖ.  

The boy reached down with a trembling hand to check for a pulse, but in his agitation, couldn't find anything.  Grasping his father by the shoulders of his parka, he dragged the unconscious form to a crate, leaning him against it in an upright position.  Suddenly the unshed tears of the past month began flowing unchecked, and Will started sobbing uncontrollably.  Trying to take control of his emotions, he found he couldn't, and in his grief, laid his head on his father's chest.

Hmrin heard an odd sound coming from Will's corridor and padding softly in that direction, soon found the inconsolable boy crying over an unconscious form, his fists clenched tightly in the fur of the humanoidís parka.  All of the guilt and pain that Will had held inside since his fatherís accident seemed to be tumbling, pouring out in great sobbing cries.   In alarm, the Grringol youth was about to say something, when he heard his friend call out softly, 'Dad.'  Even though it was in the human language, Hmrin recognized the word and with eyes widened in shock, he could only stand there and let Will work out his emotions. 

 

end part nine

 

 

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