Planet of Dragons

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven-

Taking Care of the Gate

 

Don saw the tears begin to fill Maureen's eyes, and he hastened to propose an idea that just occurred to him. "Well, they wouldn't have a gate to dismantle if someone else had already taken it down and hidden it, would they?" Don asked with a slight smile.  "Now I might be naive, but the gate on this end didn't look to be that hard to take out of the ground and carry away, especially by a strong robot like Max."

Maureen walked over and gave Don a kiss on the cheek.  He blushed slightly.  "Thank you, Don," she said fervently.  "Yes, you have given me hope." 

"Guardian's beloved, I will accompany you back to our world as well," Bralin said.  "You will need the help of one who is familiar with the countryside and our customs."  Garroween started to say something, but Bralin cut him off.   "Father, I would feel better if you stayed with our friends.  If they say that they will come back to our world in this wondrous vehicle, then I believe them.  I was horrified when I saw the soldiers drag you out of the transport.  I don't want to see that happen again."  

"You are welcome to stay with us," Don told the older couple.  They finally nodded.

The next twenty-four hours was a blur for Maureen.  Judy worked with her in replicating the parts needed for a disguise, Mreelon and Bralin gave her intensive language instruction and Max began helping her to improve her fighting skills.

"Mrs. Robinson, lead with your left foot in this manner," he instructed.  She backed off and examined what she had done wrong.  He patiently showed her and she tried again. "Very good, Mrs. Robinson," he told her when she had succeeded.

"Thank you, Max."  She then tried an offensive attack, and she and Max parried blows for quite some time.  Maureen was pleased to notice that she was beginning to lead with either foot, changing her balance at will.  Finally calling a halt, she grabbed a towel from the floor and threw it around her neck.

"That was much better.  When are you planning on leaving for Krimlon?"

"Tomorrow afternoon.  It will be dark there and we should still have time before anyone gets to the gate to destroy it," Maureen answered.

"Yes, ma'am," Max acknowledged and took both staves to their storage place.

"Wow, Mom, that was quite impressive," Judy said.  She was standing at the door to the living quarters, Mark in her arms, his little flutter-dragon flying loop the loops above their heads.  "I think that Mreelon and I have what we need to make you a very nice disguise whenever you're ready."

"Thanks, dear.  I need to check with Will and the Robot on their progress."   Several more flutter-dragons joined in the joyous dance, and Maureen paused long enough to watch them and feel their joy.  Absent, however, was Silverado.  He remained on his perch in the arboretum, and Maureen felt and understood his melancholy. 

 

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"Robot, how are your readings now?"  Will asked for the tenth time in that many minutes. 

"They are the same, Will Robinson.  Let me scan the equations one more time.  I deduce that we are missing something simple, and once we figure it out, the process will go much faster.  I also believe that we will need a relay modulator that we do not have.  We need to ask the ssHreana if they have such a device.  It will be much better than trying to make one."  Will handed Robot the sheet with Dad's figures and the automaton held it in one of his pincer claws and scanned it.

"It is as I thought.  The figure for the gate frequency should be -10th power instead of plus 10th power.  The paper was wrinkled and smudged," the robot intoned.

Will made the change and then looked at the readings.  A bright smile broke out on his face.  "Yes!  That did it.  Great work, Robot."

"Thank you, Will Robinson.  Now let us make sure that all of the other data in the computer is correct, and then we can find a relay modulator."

"Having success, son?"  Maureen asked as she exited the elevator.

"Oh, hi, Mom.  I think we have everything in the computer that we need to tap the power of the gate and jump to Krimlon.  We just need to get all the parts to actually do it," Will told her.  "I still wish I could go with you."

"I know, Will, but you and the Robot have to get the Jupiter II ready for that jump.  And the ssHreana ship as well if you can," she explained.  "But I appreciate your offer."  She paused and smiled.  "Of, course, you realize I would say no anyway."

"Yes, Mom.  But you know I'm not a kid anymore."

Maureen walked over to her youngest child and put her hand on his shoulder.  She looked lovingly into his eyes, and discerned the same fierce determination that she saw when she looked into John's eyes.  Fighting back emotion, she realized that he was so very much like John, and she also realized that Will was right.  In many ways, he wasn't a 'kid' anymore.   He had been forced to grow up too fast on their journey.  At thirteen, his childhood was almost behind him, and he was being compelled to accomplish yet another task of life or death proportions.

Suddenly, she felt his arms around her, giving her the fierce hug that also reminded her of John.  As hard as she tried, Maureen couldn't hold back all of her emotions, and tears slid down her cheeks.  She missed John so much and was so fearful for him.

"Mom, we'll get the Jupiter ready for the jump.  Then we'll show that prince who's the real boss around here.  Dad's okay and we'll find him," Will said softly.

"I know, Will, and that's exactly why you're needed here.  I don't want to lay something this hard on you, but you're the only one who can work with the Robot and figure out what your dad wanted," she told him, ruffling his hair as she did when he was younger. 

"Thanks, Mom.  We'll do it.  I promise."

The night was long and filled with many sleepless or nightmare-laden moments, and Maureen was glad when the sun peeked over the distant hills.  Later that morning, under the expert hands of Judy, Maureen underwent a transformation that astounded Mreelon, who was on hand to help.  "Oh, Guardian's beloved, you could easily pass for one of us.  That is a wonderful disguise.  You will only need to remember not to stand up straight, since you are a little taller than us."  Turning to Judy, she said, "Guardian's daughter, you have a most marvelous skill."

Judy blushed.  They had been speaking in a combination of English and Krimlon, each learning the language of the other.   "Thank you very much, Mreelon."

In order to test the durability of the new disguise, Maureen had a short practice bout with Max.  "It's going to work, Judy," she announced at the conclusion of the workout.  She gathered her supplies into a pack and hugged everyone good-bye.  Bralin seemed eager to leave and Max carried his 'shroud' over his shoulder. 

"Maureen, I wish you would take a laser pistol," Don commented.  

"No, Don, I don't want to draw any attention to ourselves, and hopefully before we might need a pistol, you will be through the gate, and you can have that honor," she replied with a wry smile and thought of the small secret weapon that lay hidden in her pack.  She thought of how much simpler it would have been had she and John taken the pair of laser rifles that had inadvertently been left in the ssHreana ship with their jet packs.  Inadvertently, or a lapse caused by the drawing power of the gate, she wondered.

"That's a promise," he quipped. 

"Mom, be careful," Penny added. 

As they neared the gate, its glow seemed eerie even in the mid-day sun.  "May I suggest that I go through first and make sure there is no one on the other side," Max said.   Maureen agreed and the robot calmly threw the ghostly shroud over his head and torso, stepped between the two poles and disappeared.  Within a few minutes he was back, reporting no sign of any activity. 

"Well, here we go and may God guide us in our quest," Maureen said fervently and led the group of two humanoids, one robot and two flutter-dragons through the gate.

 

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"Stand like this." John showed Dar the fighter's stance that had precipitated his footwork in the forest when he was captured.  In several quick moves, his right foot was suddenly lightly placed against the Krimlon's ribcage. 

The guard looked down at the scuffed boot and smiled sheepishly.  "Guardian, you make it look so easy."

"My name is John, and it takes practice.  Some types of this fighting take years to master.  I am...uh, not a master at this."  Although having become fairly conversant in Dar's language over the past three days, John still felt that there was much to learn.   And this included learning more about Dar himself.  He felt Dar's friendship and, to his embarrassment, his admiration, but he couldn't understand the man's instant bonding to him, an alien, or by his own admission, an 'abomination.'  John had been unable to communicate enough until now to ask some of these questions, and he still felt ignorant in his knowledge of Krimlon itself.

"Can you teach me this?" Dar asked, interrupting his reverie. 

"I will try," John answered and began teaching the fundamentals.  Dar was very quick, but he was impatient with himself, and the professor could feel his frustration growing.  Patiently he retaught one of the moves, but the guard kept having trouble getting the right angle of the kick.  "You need to relax, Dar," he said soothingly. 'Do it this....,' John began, sending a complex and vivid mental picture of the stance and ensuing action. 

Sudden shooting pain caused him to stumble and reach blindly for the wall.  Dar grabbed his arm.  John could faintly feel his concern.  "That hurt like hell," he gasped as the guard helped him to the chair.  "I keep forgetting....  Why do I keep forgetting?"

"It must be hard for one accustomed to the . . . telepathy as you are," Dar consoled him.

The pain receded to a dull ache.  "Thing is, Dar, it was only a year ago that we met the zanlings.  Telepathy was only a word to me then, not anything real.  It amazes me how quickly I have gotten used to it.  How much I have come to depend on telepathic communication.  I wake up from the pain sometimes when I have unconsciously tried to call Maureen or Silverado.

"Dar, why are you doing this for me?  Why are you helping me?  I am an abomination, as you call it, an alien in a land where aliens and . . . those different are feared," he asked, changing the direction of his conversation.

"Guardian, you are the answer to the dreams and hopes of many of my people.  There are so many of us who are sick to death of the killing and fear.  We wonder why we should hate and be afraid of abominations.  Why deviants must be cast out or killed.  The hate is sickening and you are the fulfilling of a prophecy of hope," Dar explained, his voice filled with passion, his eyes gleaming with visions of the future. 

John groaned.  "Do you realize what you are doing by laying this guardianship on my shoulders?  You're letting yourself in for a great disappointment.  I am a man, Dar, I'm not a prophet or a miracle worker.  I can't change your government or the disposition of your people.  Only the Krimlon can change the Krimlon.  Please, Dar, don't put that burden on me.  All I want to do is escape; go back to my beloved and my family...."  His voice trailed off and the silence in the cell became oppressive. 

"Guardian, your very presence could be the catalyst that will bring change for our people," Dar finally said softly.  "That may be the only thing that you need to do."

"I don't even want to be a symbol.  I am not your Guardian."

"Sometimes fate deals with us in ways that we don't always like.  But you are right; you do need to escape and I am trying to figure out a way.  It's that headband that's the main problem," Dar reasoned.  "Also, one thing that I have noticed from the talk of the other guards is that you are too defiant."

"Defiant?  All I have done is tried to keep calm and not lose my temper!" John exclaimed.  "How can you reason with someone who's a bully?  When he starts ranting and raving, I just keep my mouth shut and don't say anything."

"To Prince Mizel and his underlings, that is seen as defiance.  He is thinking that you are totally unaffected by your imprisonment," Dar said.

"It's a very good thing that you and the prince can't read my mind right now," John stated softly.  "You cannot imagine how much I want to be out of here, Dar.  I want to be free.  I don't like captivity.  I never have.  I have a family that I worry about and think about constantly.  I miss my children.  I miss my beloved.  I want her with me.  I want to hold her....  I have to escape, Dar.  I can't stay in here long."

"Guardian, there is another reason that I am helping you.  I feel a kinship with you, a friendship that is beyond race.  I felt that at the place of capture.  It sickened me that I was forced to be the instrument of your imprisonment," Dar said softly and then paused for a few minutes.  "My beloved made a point that I want you to think about. Litha said that the best way to get her younger brother to become lax and complacent is to make him think that he has won," Dar told him.  

"You mean compliance?" John asked.

"Yes.  Act a little more respectful towards him," Dar suggested.  "Or a little more afraid."

John shuddered at the thought.  "Thanks a lot, Dar.  That's a real comforting thought," he said sarcastically.   Both men fell silent as they waited for the shift change. Taking Dar's knife, John made another mark on the wall. Four, all lined up in a neat row, he noticed morosely.

 

 

 

Chapter Twelve
Chapter One
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