Planet of Dragons
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
“Bralin!” John exclaimed. Then his eyes widened as recognition dawned.
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
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.”
“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?”
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.
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
“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.
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?”
‘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
first we have to get to the site of safety in the mountains.
There are patrols everywhere.
How long will John be incapacitated?’
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
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.”
I remember talking to you, but... I don’t remember anything
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
“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.
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
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
“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
“But who would have taken the pieces, if a
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
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
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.