Planet of Dragons

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seventeen-

Surprising Revelations

 

John sat against the stone wall, eyes closed, hearing Silverado’s soft crooning in his ear.  As the storm abated, the wind whispered around the makeshift door, but he paid no more than cursory attention to it.  Dar and Litha murmured at the other side of the dilapidated cottage, but he ignored that as well. 

By taking away something that had become a part of his being, the prince had beaten him.  In a small way, Mizel had won.  John felt someone’s hand on his arm.  Looking up, he was astonished to see Murreena in front of him.  She smiled slightly and then reached over and touched his forehead lightly with one finger.  There was still a slight sheen of water on her dolphin-like skin and her luminous blue eyes bored deeply into his own. 

He shook his head.  “It’s gone, Murreena.  Totally.  I not only feel the loss of the telepathy, but I feel as though something else is gone.  I don’t know what, but I can’t seem to think the way I did before.  I feel as though a part of me has been ripped away....”  He let his voice trail off as Murreena cocked her head and looked puzzled.   “I can’t ‘hear’ you, can’t feel yours or Silverado’s thoughts.  I’m sorry.”  Murreena shook her head and gestured for him to stop talking.  It was John’s turn to look puzzled. 

Litha walked over to them and the two women looked at each other.  John’s frustration grew, knowing that they were ‘discussing’ him, but then he sighed, realizing that none of it was their fault.   Feeling restless, he stood up, but had to hang on to the wall as a sudden wave of vertigo swept over him.  He closed his eyes for a moment until it passed.

“Guardian,” Litha said softly, placing her hand on his arm.  Slowly, he opened his eyes and the room remained steady.  “Are you all right?”

“Yes, I was just a bit dizzy for a moment.  It’s over now.  I think I’m just tired,” he answered with a wan smile.

“Murreena says that a total loss of telepathic abilities only comes from major brain injury, such as a serious skull fracture.  What you are saying makes no sense to her,” Litha told him.

Anger flared.  “I don’t care if it makes sense or not.  It happened.  Mizel stole a chunk of me!  Ripped it away!  It isn’t just the telepathy, it’s more....”  John paced the room trying desperately to rid himself of the restlessness and frustration that seemed to have been building inside.   Dar sat near the fire, watching his friend with worried eyes.  Finally John stopped pacing and sat down beside him.  “I’m sorry, Murreena, Litha.  It’s not your fault.”

“Murreena says that she feels she is missing something, that there is an explanation for your loss, but she cannot think what it is,” Litha conveyed. 

Suddenly Dar jumped up and grabbed his staff in one hand and a knife in the other.  With a gesture he motioned for everybody to be silent while he quietly slipped to the makeshift door.  Just as he was reaching for the cloth it was pulled away and two Krimlon entered. 

“Bralin!” John exclaimed.  Then his eyes widened as recognition dawned.  “Maureen….”  He jumped up and they stared at each other for a brief moment.  Then they were in each other’s arms. 

“Oh, John, it seems like it’s been an eternity....”  Suddenly, she couldn’t talk; John was keeping her busy.  Finally he took her hands in his and just looked into her eyes. 

“You are so beautiful in pointed ears, my dear,” he said softly, with a chuckle. 

She laughed with him.  “I will not say what I think about your fashion statement, John, but I’m so glad that you’re free from that maniac.”

“Yes,” he murmured, “so am I.”

Maureen shivered.  “John, your hands are like ice.” 

“Cold hands, warm heart,” he said softly and kissed her again.  Maggie and Silverado spiraled toward the ceiling, chirping their joy at the reunion.  “Let’s watch the rain for a moment.”   

As they walked to the doorway, John paused suddenly and Maureen looked at him in concern.  He seemed pale and disoriented.  “John, are you all right?”

“Maureen...”  He looked at her in confusion.  “I...I don’t feel very well all of a sudden...” To her horror, he quietly collapsed at her feet.

“John!!” she cried.  “Bralin, bring me my pack!”  The Krimlon complied and she dug in it looking for her diagnostic tool.  Silverado set up a keening cry that echoed in the rafters.  Swooping down, he landed on John’s chest, squeaking inconsolably.  “Murreena, I’m busy right now.  Tell him that John is not dead.”

Suddenly the little lizard stopped in mid-cry and looked pensively at his friend.  Maureen turned on her diagnostic and checked John over.  Sighing, she put the tool aside and began giving orders.  “Is there a blanket or something to use as one?”  Soon, she had her husband comfortable and warm.   

I now understand why John’s telepathic abilities seemed to have ceased,’ Murreena commented once the commotion had died down.  Maureen noticed that everyone appeared to be ‘listening’ intently to her, and she deduced that the ssHreana must be communicating with everybody.

“What do you mean, Murreena?” Maureen asked.  

As John was passing into a state of unconsciousness, I was able to discern that his telepathic talent is intact.  Prince Mizel’s device did not destroy his abilities.”

“But why wasn’t I able to communicate telepathically with him?  I felt like I was hitting a brick wall,” Maureen asked. 

Exactly.  Because you were.  You were hitting John’s telepathic shield.  I should have realized this was the problem,’ Murreena explained. ‘His mind has set up a protective guard so powerful that even he can’t get past it.  I have never seen a more powerful defensive shield in my life.  This was the perfect defense against the prince’s continued use of the device that had been placed around his head.’  She walked over to remains of the headband and picked the biggest piece up.  This device is a despicably cruel mechanism.’  Her revulsion was quite evident in her thoughts.  She threw the broken piece away from her.

“Can the shield be removed?”  Maureen asked. 

I think that I can trick his mind into lowering it, but I will have to have help.  Then I or someone else will have to teach him to control it,’ Murreena answered.  But first we have to get to the site of safety in the mountains.  There are patrols everywhere.  How long will John be incapacitated?’

 “There is no telling, Murreena.  But it shouldn’t be too long,” she saw the concerned looks on the faces of the others.  “John is suffering from neurogenic shock.  In a human, when the nervous system is put under too much trauma, it causes the circulatory system to begin shutting down. To put it simply, he passed out. I realize that Mizel has sent soldiers everywhere, Bralin and I ran into one such patrol, but if at all possible, John should be allowed to rest for awhile.”

“I will go out and watch for any activity,” Dar volunteered.

Maureen sat near John and watched the fire die down as the last hours of the night quietly rolled by.  As the embers slowly cooled, she felt him stir beside her.  “Maureen?” he asked softly. 

Finding his hand, she squeezed it to reassure him.  “I’m here, my love.”

“What happened?  I remember talking to you, but... I don’t remember anything else.” 

Maureen could detect the confusion in his voice.  “You passed out, John.  You were in shock.”  She held the diagnostic and did a quick scan on him.  “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, I think so.  I won’t know for sure until I get up,” he answered.  “Did Murreena tell you what Mizel’s device did to me?” he asked morosely. 

“Yes, it caused you to create a protective shield so powerful that not even you could get past it,” she told him.

“Uh, what?” he asked in a puzzled tone of voice.  She explained what Murreena had told her.  As they were speaking, Maureen noticed the early morning sun beginning to shine under the makeshift door covering and through the slats of the windows. John had a bemused look on his face.  She leaned over and kissed him. 

Dar silently slipped in and made his way to them.  “Guardian, do you think that you can ride this morning?  It is dawn and we really need to leave for the Greel Mountains before the patrols come this way.” 

John reached his hand out and Dar helped him up.  “Yes, I think so.  There’s no dizziness this morning.” 

Murreena slipped in, water cascading from her short hair over her shoulders and down her jumpsuit.  She ran a webbed hand through her hair and smiled at him.  Maureen started to say something.  “I don’t think that translation is necessary this time.  I’m feeling much better and eager to get to the mountains as well,” John said with a chuckle. 

The embers were doused and scattered, bundles repacked and the tilons readied for the day’s ride.  John took in the fact that there were not enough tilons for the group.  “The Guardian will ride.  Litha and the Guardian’s beloved can ride together, and Murreena and her companions can ride together on two of the tilons.    Bralin and I will take turns riding the remaining mount.  It will take us longer, but we will nevertheless get there by nightfall,” Dar explained.

As much as he wanted to, John didn’t protest.  Although he felt much better than he had yesterday, he still felt tired and weak.  His imprisonment had taken more out of him than he cared to admit.  Nodding, he just mounted the tilon indicated, noticing that it was the one he had stolen when he escaped the previous night.

 

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By the time the sun had set, Max had removed enough soil to be able to maneuver his body a little.  The first thing he did was get his good leg in a position to help push himself out from under the tilon.  Even the powerful mechanical appendage protested as he exerted more force than it was designed to handle.  Finally he was free of the dead animal, and he stood up, his metal and plastic parts creaking. 

Walking experimentally, he noticed that if he took most of the weight on his left leg and foot, he could walk reasonably well with only a limp to slow him down.  With that analysis done, he turned and set out for the gate.  His positronic brain calculated the amount of time it would take him to reach the site of the gate with his injured foot.  He would be arriving after the 2300 hour time arranged, but it would only be by fifteen point two three minutes. 

The robot limped slowly but inexorably toward the gate site, using the main road when possible and retreating into the woods when he heard noises indicating approaching humanoids.   Max readjusted his calculations due to the interruptions in his progress and realized that he would be one point zero three hours late.  He tried to speed up his walk, but his damaged joints began giving way, and he resumed his former pace.

When he finally reached the site of the gate, he didn’t hesitate, going directly to the place where Bralin had concealed the posts.  His right leg creaking, he slowly dragged the first post to its place and dropped it into the hole.  Then he did the same for the other post, finally returning to the hiding place and retrieving the servo-mechanisms that made the two posts conduits for teleportation.  As he was making the connections, he heard the approach of a group of horsemen.

His calculations told him that it would be impossible for him to remove and hide the parts of the gate before being seen; therefore he continued to hook the wires up that would activate the gate. 

“Why can’t we wait until tomorrow morning to check out your so-called hunch, Mirinin?” one voice echoed across the dark clearing.  “It’s too dark out here to see anything, anyway.”

“Because when the prince says to go directly to the gate and check it out, then I am going to go directly to the gate and check it out.  I don’t want to be hung like those fools that came out here before,” came the answer. 

“But who would have taken the pieces, if a guardsman didn’t?”

“Who knows?”  At that moment Max made the final connection, and the posts began glowing softly, throwing a soothing light across the clearing.  “The gate!  It’s there and working!!” the second voice cried.  “Tear it down and kill any deviant-lover that gets in the way.”

Max heard several tilons approaching and prepared for an attack.  He knew his skills were severely curtailed by the damage to his body, but he had to keep the gate open for the Jupiter II to come through.  The first two soldiers who came close to him were soon nursing headaches caused by his long staff.  Another was thrown off his tilon when it was tripped.  The robot heard several others retreat, and for a moment there was only the muffled sounds of talking and movement. 

His optics took in the presence of several projectile weapons, and instead of preparing for the next attack, he chose to charge the remaining soldiers, hoping to reach them before they used their rifles.  As he limped toward the Krimlon, he heard the report of the first weapon and felt the thud of the projectile hitting him on the chest.  Max knew that a large dent had been made but nothing that couldn’t be fixed later.  The next shot hit his damaged leg and blew out the servo-mechanism that served as his knee.  His momentum caused him to fall forward as a third shot caught him in the neck. 

The soldiers slowly approached while the robot tried to raise himself into a sitting position.  With his arms he snatched a weapon from the hands of one soldier, but his movements were sluggish, and as he tore the weapon apart, another weapon crashed down on his head, sending his positronic brain into sudden catharsis. 

 

 

Chapter Eighteen
Chapter One
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