Planet of Dragons
Escape At Last
John jerked straight up. “Mo!” he cried.
Looking around wildly, he saw the guard staring curiously at him.
Jumping to his feet, he started examining the walls and mumbling
to himself, but his mind kept trying to remember what he knew he heard
as his light sleep left him. ‘I
am here and I love you,’
He was not imagining it, but at the same time it was
inconceivable that Maureen could be here.
Laying his head against the cold stone, he realized that when he
saw Silverado, he had lightly felt the touch of another presence.
That presence had to have been Maureen.
She was at the ‘exhibition’ and saw him.
Smiling bitterly, he wondered what she thought of his
performance. But she had to
have seen through it; she sent him a message.
Or perhaps she sent the message because of it. Confused, John slid back down to the floor.
She was here; she had come back before the destruction of the
gate. How was he going to
find her? It was imperative
that he escape tonight. He
had to. Calm down, professor.
Practice what you preach. Practice
what you were taught.... Analyze.
It seemed obvious that the power of the headband was
either weakening, or there was a flaw in the device due to age or bad
design. So when he did
escape, Mizel should have less ability to incapacitate him.
A logical assumption, which he sincerely hoped was correct. His
mind kept going back to the stable and the animals being housed there.
If he could use one, that would get him further away from the
city and from Mizel’s control. Tonight he would be free of this hole; tonight he would find
Sweat rolled down his face.
It seemed even hotter than usual, and the humidity had risen
along with the temperature. Closing
his eyes, John tried to wrest some coolness from the stones.
A distant rumbling heralded the possibility of a storm, and he
welcomed it. A click of the
latch alerted him to a visitor, but he kept his eyes closed, not wanting
to deal with the prince right now.
“Asleep?” the visitor said.
It sounded like the bodyguard.
“Never know with this Abomination.
He was awake a short time ago,” the regular guard said.
short painful electrical shock caused him to jerk forward, but he played
his role and slumped face down to the floor.
“The prince might think that this animal doesn’t know our
language very well, but I think he does, and so does the Purifier. I needed to give you some information and didn’t want this
freak hearing me. Listen
carefully, these instructions come from his Highness, so be sure to
follow them explicitly.”
“I will, sir,” came the response.
“The Purifier has gathered a great deal of
information which points to the traitorous activities of Guardsman
Arandar. When the Guardsman
comes in tonight to relieve you, you are to relieve him of his life.
As soon as that is done, do the same with the Abomination and
then report to me. Do you
“Yes, sir, it will be done.”
John heard the door click shut once more.
Lying there quietly, he wondered what he or Dar had done to make
them suspicious. Mentally
shrugging, he realized that escape was going to come sooner than either
of them had expected. After
a reasonable time, John went through the motions of waking up.
The Krimlon was in the chair watching him in amusement.
Looking at the device in the guard’s hands, he cried out and
jumped to his feet, sliding along the wall until he was in the far
The guard laughed.
“Sit down, Abomination. I’m
not going to hurt you. At
least not yet,” he added sadistically.
When the guard looked down at the device clipped to his belt,
John acted, crossing the distance to his captor in three strides.
His elbow caught the man under his chin and propelled him
backwards, tipping his chair to the floor.
As he fell, the guard reached for the device, but his hand never
made it; his head hit the floor just a second after the back of the
chair did and he went limp.
Reaching inside the unconscious man’s uniform, John
pulled out a knife, which he transferred to his own belt.
Then he unhooked the controlling device and bashed it against the
wall. After several blows,
the pieces began raining to the floor, and the professor smiled in deep
satisfaction, thinking that this had to be the last one.
Taking off the Krimlon’s shirt, John ripped it up in strips,
tying several together until he had usable lengths.
Then he listened at the door, and hearing no sounds, smashed the
chair against the wall. Taking
a smaller length, he stuck it between the guard’s teeth, tying it
securely with a length of cloth. Then
he secured the unconscious man’s feet together and lastly bound his
hands. A longer piece of chair served as an extra weapon.
Standing back, John was pleased with his handiwork.
Pulling out the guard’s basket from the corner, he looked
inside and saw some fried meat that closely resembled chicken.
The distant rumbling seemed to be getting closer.
All the better, he
thought. A storm will make escape
easier, hiding any noise that Dar and I make. As
he was finishing the last of the guard’s dinner, the Krimlon woke up
and stared at him. There
was fear in his eyes, but still he kicked and moaned, trying to get
Pulling out the knife, John held it under the
struggling guard’s chin. “I
am generally a peaceful man, but my patience is non-existent right now.
If you want to live, I would suggest that you sit very
quietly,” John told his prisoner in a cold voice.
After what seemed an abominably long time, John heard
footsteps approaching the cell door.
He held the knife ready as a key rattled in the door and with a
slight squeak, the door opened. Quickly,
John grabbed the surprised Dar and jerked him in the room. “I would suggest that you keep quiet as well,” John
hissed, holding the knife to Dar’s throat.
His back was to the trussed up guard, and he smiled slightly to
reassure his friend. “Shall
we go? You will be my
hostage,” he added. Dar
slowly turned and walked out of the cell.
John pulled the door shut behind him.
Motioning to his friend, he headed in the same direction he had
taken during his ill-fated escape attempt two days before.
Just outside the door, John stuck the knife back into
his belt and turned to Dar. “Maybe
that little scene in there will serve to confuse the prince.
But my friend, you must go and get your beloved immediately.
The prince ordered your execution.
I don’t know how they figured out that you were helping me, but
I do know that you both need to find a safe place to hide.
Maureen is somewhere nearby, and I have to try to find her. Good luck, Dar. Now
Dar needed no extra incentive; he turned to leave.
“Guardian, the direction that most go who are in trouble is toward the
east, toward the Greel Mountains.”
John nodded and Dar was gone.
Running into the stable, John saw in the half-light,
stalls; in which stood reptilian-like creatures that looked vaguely like
the flutter-dragons, only much larger and more powerful. The golden eyes were the most similar features, and he
wondered if the two species were related.
Walking calmly over to the largest, a bluish-gray animal, he
talked soothingly to it while he pulled its bridle from a peg near the
stall. It was a hackamore
type bridle, having no bit, and it slid easily onto the creature’s
head. Locating a saddle, John continued talking softly to the
animal, while he placed it on his mount’s back and buckled the straps.
He marveled at the creature’s patience and seeming good will as
he led it out of the stable.
Near the door, John saw a coil of rope.
Grabbing it, he threw it over his shoulder and then mounted the
obliging beast. There was
the off chance that he had underestimated Mizel and the availability of
more controlling devices, so he wanted some measure of assurance that if
he was incapacitated, he would remain on his ‘horse’ and not be
recaptured by the prince. Wrapping
one end of it around his waist, he leaned down and reached under the
creature’s somewhat sinuous neck, drawing it up with his left hand and
tying that end around his waist as well.
Enough slack was left for him to wrap it around each wrist at
least once. John sincerely
hoped that it was enough as he certainly didn’t want to fall off and
be dragged to death.
Pulling up the slack of the rope with one hand, he
gathered the reins in the other and lightly touched his heels to the
animal’s side. The gait
was similar to a horse’s, but there was a more sliding, slithery feel
to the creature’s actions
and since the front legs were a bit smaller and less powerful, there was
a loping action as well. But
it was not unpleasant.
John didn’t push the animal, letting it keep to its
fast loping trot. Clouds
had covered the moon and there was no way of knowing whether he was
heading east or not, but he figured that the important thing right now
was to get as much distance between himself and Mizel as he could during
the night. As soon as he
got well out of the city, he would find someone to give him directions.
It was very dark and if he stayed in the shadows, his alien-ness
wouldn’t be obvious. He
only wished he could communicate with Maureen.
Reaching up, John felt the defensive mechanisms of the headband
reacting, but he still tried to pull it off.
After several minutes all he had for his efforts were a dull
headache and a deep frustration.
Rumbling thunder seemed to echo his pensive mood, and
John began seeing flashes of lightning in the distance.
The air was heavy with the smell of distant wetness.
It felt as though this storm was going to be a strong one, but he
kept riding towards it, the creature seemingly unaffected by the
occasional lightning flashes and approaching thunder.
It was then that he felt the first jolts of the
bio-electric shocks. They
were only slightly more powerful than he had felt recently, and John
just gritted his teeth and continued, but he took the precaution of
leaning forward and wrapping both arms with the rope.
It wasn’t terribly comfortable on the back, but he had put up
with worse lately. Obviously,
there was another controller. After
a while, he relaxed as there were no new shocks and he sat up a bit to
get the stiffness out of his back.
As the storm approached close enough to whip the
treetops with its wind and rattle the eardrums with the crash of
thunder, a series of powerful shocks surged through his brain and down
his body. The rope was the
only thing that kept him from falling off his mount as his muscles
spasmed. His fists closed around the rope and the reins and the
confused animal stopped in the middle of the road, disconcerted by the
alternating signals that he was getting from his rider.
screams of pain were drowned out by the roaring thunder.
He realized two things almost simultaneously as the
waves of energy beat inexorably at him.
He had grossly misanalyzed the situation; Mizel was trying kill
him with the controlling device since he couldn’t execute him in his
cell, and apparently the device still had the power to do just that.
His agony was brief though, as he suddenly felt a sensation like
an explosion in his brain, and he slumped onto the creature’s neck as
he dropped into blessed oblivion.
With a great crash of thunder, the rain began,
falling in a sudden torrent that instantly soaked everything.
The animal sat quietly for a moment, but realizing that his rider
wasn’t moving, he looked in the direction the storm had come from and
understanding the last wishes of his rider, started trotting toward the
distant mountains. He was a
military mount, trained for many situations and the disability of his
rider was one of them, so he adjusted his gait accordingly. As the night and the storm progressed, the creature continued
his easy trot, never stopping, heading unwaveringly toward the east.
Max was able to make good time and was more than
halfway back to the gate as the storm approached. Getting wet meant nothing to him as his parts were protected,
but the lightning could be another problem altogether. He continued at his fast mile- eating run, ignoring the
thunder that grew ever louder in volume behind him.
His directive was to reinstall the gate, and he would ignore the
relatively remote danger that threatened behind him.
What the robot didn’t count on, however, was the
threat of Krimlon soldiers. Even
his highly tuned auditory sensors didn’t detect the mounted men until
they were almost upon him. “You,
pilgrim, have you seen an abomination mounted on a tilon pass by
here?” one of the soldiers asked, somewhat deferentially.
“No, sir, I have not,” Max said, keeping the
shroud low over his face.
“What is wrong with your voice, pilgrim?”
“It is like this all the time, sir,” Max
answered. Then a sudden
gust of wind pulled the shroud away from his head and a flash of
lightning reflected off of his gleaming metallic face. The soldiers
cried out in shock. “An
abomination! A deviation!”
“A robot,” Max intoned dryly.
The leader charged him, but the robot was ready and using the
skills programmed into him, soon had the soldier on the ground, writhing
in pain. Two others came at him, but one came off his mount on the end
of a staff and the other was jerked from his saddle as he thundered by.
The other soldiers saw the ease with which the robot fought, and
they pulled up their tilons, undecided on their next course of action.
Max decided for them, propelling himself through the air in a
prodigious leap and knocking yet another Krimlon from his saddle.
The others turned their animals and headed back for the city.
A tilon looked nonchalantly at him, and the robot
pondered the wisdom of riding an alien animal.
He decided that his weight would not be too great a burden for
the animal, and it would enable him to get to the gate even sooner than
his running gait would. Gathering
the creature’s reins, Max carefully mounted, sitting quietly in the
saddle to let the beast get used to him.
When the animal just stood placidly, Max applied a little
pressure with his heels and urged him in the direction of the gate. By
now the wind was whipping the tree limbs furiously, and the lightning
was bright enough to force his optical sensors to adjust.
The thunder roared and boomed around him.
Max was making good time to the site when lightning
struck a tree six meters ahead of him, causing it to explode with a
great crack. His mount
leaped sideways and then bucked in fright and pain.
Suddenly it collapsed and before the robot could extricate
himself from the stirrups and leap off to safety, the animal had pinned
him underneath it.
Doing a self-diagnostic, Max realized that his right
foot was damaged and he was caught in an awkward position where he was
only able to use the strength of his arms to move the dead animal. After
several tries, he realized that his attempts were futile. The robot pondered his situation as the rain began to fall in
curtains around him. Sitting
up as far as he could, he reached his metallic fingers near the body of
the animal and began scraping the now wet dirt from under the dead tilon.
He knew that his efforts would be slow and tedious, but
eventually he figured he would have a space big enough to slip out from
under the animal. Then he
would worry about the damaged foot.