Planet of Dragons

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eighteen-

Explanations and More Questions

 

Will paced the observation deck, looking out the window periodically.   The gathering darkness beyond the window matched his mood.  Don leaned back in his chair and sighed.  “Will, you know that just as soon as Penny and the ssHreana feel the other gate, they’ll let us know.”  Judy was at the helm, dividing her attention between the readings and her brother.  Mark was fussing in the special flight chair that had been rigged for his use during launches.  His tiny flutter-dragon was lying next to his shoulder squeaking anxiously.  The Robot remained quiet.

Another hour passed. “What could have happened?   Max has to get the gate put back together or we can never find that planet,” Will said plaintively.

“I know, Will.  Max will get it up.  He was probably delayed by something minor,” Judy suggested.  Mark had finally fallen asleep, his lizard slept next to him.

Suddenly....  “Will,” Penny’s voice came over the communicator.  “Let’s go, the gate’s in operation!”

“All right, let’s see where all our work takes us,” Will said nervously. 

Don’s fingers flew over the console and, with the ease of much practice initiated the launch sequence.  The ship gracefully hovered near the gate.  On the scanner, Will noticed the ssHreana ship floating a short distance behind them.  “Okay, Robot, double check my figures,” the boy said, his voice tightly controlled. 

“Affirmative. The figures are correctly entered.  We can make the jump at anytime, Will Robinson,” the Robot intoned. 

Leaning toward the communications console, Will said, “Penny, we’re going to jump.  Follow in four minutes.”  As soon as he received her acknowledgment, he turned to Don.  “Let’s do it, Don.” 

With a flash of light filling the viewscreen, the Jupiter II jumped forward and then jerked into sudden stop, hovering near a gate in a forest clearing.  Don adjusted the repulsers and the ship slowly floated to a point, which he projected would be safe from the incoming ssHreana ship.  Below the crew saw humanoids on horse-like creatures staring up at them and pointing.  Mounting their animals, they soon fled the clearing. 

“Will Robinson, I detect the presence of Max, but his readings are very weak,” the Robot informed them.   The other ship suddenly appeared on the other side of the clearing, and both vessels landed.  Lowering the ramp, Don and the Robot soon made their way to the battered robot.  Don cursed softly when he saw the damage. 

“Professor Robinson in capital....” Max said before his systems shut down.  

“I will take him back on board and begin doing a diagnostic on him, Major West,” the Robot intoned. “It is the least I can do after what he did to get us here.”

Back on board the ship, Don and Will consulted with Garroween and Mreelon.  “The capital is Kirvos and Reezel is the king there.  I can only suppose that Mizel was ordered to take the Guardian there,” Garroween said, then paused. 

“What’s wrong, Garroween?” Don asked quietly. 

“King Reezel is a zealot in the quest to keep the Krimlon a ‘pure’ race, untainted by abomination.  His son, Mizel, is much worse.  The Purifier is worse than both.  The Guardian seems to be in a no win situation.” 

“Who is the Purifier?” Don asked, concern in his voice.

“He is the head of the Office of Purity.  The Purifier and his followers make sure that Abominations are kept from tainting the Krimlon bloodline,” Mreelon said disdainfully.  “As zealous as the king and his son are, it is the Purifier’s men who are most feared.  They have almost unlimited power to determine who has the abomination, and they mete out judgments to those who do, and none of those punishments are merciful.  Those men are the ones we must be careful of.”

“Sounds like Nazi brown shirts.  Which direction is Kirvos?” Don asked. 

“North,” Garroween said tersely.   Don nodded.

 

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“You told me that we would be able to kill the Guardian with this thing.  My soldiers haven’t found his body, and now I get a message that my father is summoning me to Kirvos.  I don’t have a prisoner, I don’t have a body and the underground is stirring the people up.  What kind of plan did you saddle me with?”  Mizel ranted as he paced in front of the Purifier. 

The object of his diatribe just stood sedately to one side, his arms folded, his eyes glittering with hate.  As the prince turned back to him, he carefully hid his true feelings behind a facade of concern.  “My prince, I ‘saddled’ you with a plan that will eventually give you the kingdom.  This escape can only serve our purpose.  Let the word be carefully spread that members of the deviants’ underground came into our fair city and took the Guardian.  Then make a call for all loyal Krimlon in your province to join a citizens’ army to root out this Guardian and his followers.”

“What will a rabble be able to do?” Mizel asked disdainfully.

“It will keep the dissident forces in hiding, making any of their efforts ineffectual.  It will also give you the opportunity to see who is loyal and whom to suspect.  I assume that many will join in order to keep from falling under suspicion.”

“Umm, yes, I see your point, Purifier.  Very well, let it be done, and we shall see what happens when we return,” Mizel said.

“Very wise, my prince,” the Purifier said in a syrupy voice.

 

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By late-morning, the temperature had risen to uncomfortable levels.  Although not as hot as in previous days, it was still warm enough to cause great discomfort to the ssHreana and as soon as a pond came into view, the group halted.

We need to replenish,’ Murreena told Dar.  He nodded.  We will be as quick as possible.’

Maureen told John what Murreena had said, and they watched quietly for a minute.  Finally unable to stand it anymore, he threw his right leg over the tilon’s neck and slid off, striding purposefully toward the water.  As he approached the bank, he yanked off the bandage, pulled off his belt and slipped out of his boots. 

“Guardian, what are you doing?”  Dar asked in consternation.  He was worried about patrols and while understanding the need of the ssHreana, was still impatient.

“I need to replenish, too,” John said tersely, punctuating his comment with a dive into the water.  Maureen dismounted as well and was soon at the edge of the pond pulling off her boots and letting her feet dangle in the water.  Sighing with relief, she felt as though she had done more walking in the past few days than she had the previous year. 

John relished the cleansing feel of the water on his skin, imagining the past week’s worth of grime and sweat washing away.  Suddenly he saw several ssHreana swimming languidly by, effortless in their movements.  Murreena stopped and smiled at him, then swam on by.  Coming up for air, he yanked off his tee shirt and threw it on the bank.  Then he pulled off his socks, and they, too, hit the bank in a sodden heap.  He heard his wife’s soft laughter. 

Taking in a lungful of air, he swam straight for the shore, and with a quick motion, grabbed Maureen’s ankle and pulled her in to him. Her sharp cry of surprise was cut off as he surfaced and drew her close.  “What about my fashion statement now, Mrs. Robinson?” he asked sardonically. 

“Mmmm.  Better, Mr. Robinson.”  She kissed him tenderly and added more seriously,  “I’m glad we’re together again.  I’ve felt so very helpless ever since you were captured.”

“My dear, helpless was my middle name.  I hope I never get in a situation like that again,” he admitted.  They embraced and kissed one more time before he helped her onto the grassy bank.  Looking at the mid-day sun filtering through the leaves of the trees, John kept trying to figure out what was missing in his thought processes, and after analyzing the situation, finally realized that his reasoning was deductive, there were no intuitive feelings whatsoever.  He sighed and again mentally cursed Mizel.  Wringing out his shirt, he put it back on.

Silverado and Maggie zipped into the little clearing and squeaked merrily at him before flying over to Maureen.  He sighed again and waited impatiently.  “The lizards say that there’s a secluded clearing near here with people who are sympathetic,” she passed along to him.   He nodded as he pulled on his boots. 

“Well, we might as well take advantage, since it’s near the lunch hour,” Dar commented morosely. 

“My dear, we will make up for our lost time this afternoon, especially if they have a tilon we can borrow,” Litha reassured her husband.

John walked over to Murreena and tapped her on the shoulder.  She had not even been aware of his approach.  “You said that you thought you could remove this block I have?” he asked.  She nodded and pointed to the ssHreana next to her.   “Would it be possible to do it during the lunch break?”  Again she nodded, seeing the desperate look in his eyes. 

“John, are you sure you want to do this so soon?”  Maureen queried. 

“I’m sure,” he answered vehemently.   She just put her hand on his arm to reassure him.

Within an hour, the little band reached the hidden glen the lizards had found.  The small Krimlon family reminded him of Garroween and his family, and John was comforted by their reception.   Maureen and Murreena approached him, the same male ssHreana that had been with her earlier, following closely behind.   “Murreena says she is ready if you are.   Her pod-mate Murwon will assist.”

“Yes, I’m ready.” John was very ready to get rid of that isolated feeling that had haunted him since his escape.  It was an isolation that was even more profound than before his meeting with the flutter-dragons and the awakening of latent telepathic abilities.  And it was profound enough to make him feel that he was still in prison even though he was in a safe place among friends.  Looking around, he saw the two ssHreana, Silverado and Maureen.  She leaned forward, kissed him and took his hand.

“John, Murreena tells me that you will have to try and relax and focus on me while she and her husband are working to help you. She says that you will not feel any actual pain, but your mind will recall what happened to you and will resist lowering the shield that it built,” Maureen explained to her husband.

Sitting on the floor and leaning back against Maureen, he tried to clear his mind, using techniques he had learned in the past.  Feeling the cool touch of the ssHreana, he tensed slightly and then . . . he was back in the clearing, captive and helpless, feeling the hell-spawned headband constricting against his forehead, feeling the pain all over again.  No, not again!  Then he was in the cell, captive, frustrated, light-years away from his family, alone.  Next he was on the palace grounds, feeling the agony, hearing Mizel’s sadistic laughter.... ‘I will break you.....break you....’  

Crying out, he reached for the headband and felt something else . . . the light, gentle touch of a gentle hand stroking his cheek, touching him, someone talking to him, someone in his mind, a caress, a gentle reassurance..... ‘John, it’s Maureen.  Listen to me; hear me, please.  I love you, John.’   

‘Mo....’ He felt like a drowning man trying to reach the surface, struggling, desperate. Something seemed to be pulling him down.  His lungs, no, his mind felt as though it were on fire.  Maureen, help me.....’

‘I’m here, John.  Always, I’m here.’  Her telepathic caress so soothing, so gentle, peaceful.....  He felt another soothing presence.  Silverado? 

Calm pervaded his brain, his tight muscles relaxed, peaceful lethargy stole over his being, and he remembered nothing else, except the tenderness of his beloved’s caring.  He only felt her thoughts in his mind . . . and then he felt himself drifting into somnolence.

I believe that we have succeeded,’ Murwon intruded in Maureen’s thoughts. 

‘Yes, I felt his thoughts.’  Maureen was struck with the peacefulness of her husband’s features and having felt his pain and anguish, understood his overwhelming desire to be free of the bondage that had been forced on him.  The tears rolled down her cheeks, tears of sadness as well as tears of happiness.  She held his sleeping form as she would that of a child, even to rocking gently.  Silverado floated down from a rafter and landed on John’s chest, squeaking softly, his golden eyes bright and luminous.

Glancing up, Maureen noticed that Murreena and Murwon had silently slipped out of the room.  After an hour, Dar came in.  “Guardian’s beloved, we must leave,” he said gently.  “I do not want to endanger these people any more than we already have.”

“But he’s still sleeping, Dar,” Maureen said, realizing that he was right.  

“The Guardian’s tilon is trained to carry the wounded.   You can ride near him,” Dar told her.  She just nodded.

 

 

Chapter Nineteen
Chapter One
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