Planet of Dragons

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nineteen-

Journey Back

 

It would probably be much better if we went toward these Greel mountains to find our people while you go to Kirvos to find yours,” Brashiin said.

“I agree,” Don said.  “And we will meet back here.”  The ssHreana returned to their ship while the humans prepared for take-off.  Penny remained on the Jupiter II.

After doing pre-flight checks, Don announced the lift-off sequence.  “Will, do a systems check.”  Will soon gave him the go-ahead.

The major engaged the main thrusters of the repulsers, and the spaceship began to lift gracefully from the ground.  Then there was a loud pop from under the console, and the acrid scent of burning wire wafted across the room.  Don immediately cut the engines, and the repulsers gently brought the ship back to the ground.  Will used the fire extinguisher to control the small ensuing blaze.

Don cautiously slid under the console to inspect the damage.  He muttered softly under his breath as he saw the burnt wires and shattered relays.  “Contact Brashiin and inform him of our problem.  If they want to go ahead and look for their people, tell them that I’ll understand.”

After a few moments, Penny got down on the floor near him.  “Brashiin said that he will wait until daylight and then see what our situation is.   He suggested that maybe a good night’s rest might make it easier to figure out the problem and its solution.”

Judy could feel her husband’s frustration.  “Maybe he’s right, Don.  I’m worried about Mom and Dad just like everyone else is, but no one can work well without sleep.”

Sighing, Don slid back out and looked steadily into her eyes.  Then he nodded, “As much as I hate to admit it, I am very tired.  Brashiin is right.”

“I will watch out for any attackers, Major West,” the Robot said, having returned to the observation deck from the cargo bay.

“How is Max?” Don asked.  “Can he be salvaged?” 

“Yes, Major West, I believe that I can restore most of his functions quickly, but we do not have the equipment or parts to get him back to 100% efficiency at this time.”

“Well, after we get the ship back on line, get to work on him.  It’s the least we can do, and we need him.  His expertise on what’s going on here will be invaluable,” Don explained.

“Affirmative, Major West.”  Garroween and Mreelon continued to look out the observation window at their home planet for a while longer before retiring for the night.

Don and Will worked most of the next day replacing relays, checking systems, and doing diagnostics.  “Robot, take a look at the relay crystals.”  He showed several pieces to the automaton.  “One of them was totally shattered, and the other ones show very peculiar breakage.  What do you think?”

Taking the ruined pieces and examining them with his optics, he finally said,  “I have done an analysis on the ruined pieces, and there were microscopic flaws that were not detected.  I should have made a more detailed study of the crystals that Judy West found.”

“Robot, I’m not worried about that now.  What I’m worried about is a replacement.  I need to contact Brashiin and see if they might have something we can use,” Don said testily.

“We can probably cannibalize the space pod for parts if we have to,” Will suggested.

“Now that’s a very good idea, Will.  It will be easier to work on the pod later once we get the Jupiter II up and running,” Don told the boy.

Several more hours of sweaty and backbreaking work and Don gave a satisfied sigh. 

“Do you think it’ll work?” Will asked him.

“Only one way to find out.  Okay, troops, take your places, we’re going to test the new relay,” Don announced.   

“Don?” Penny’s voice came over the intercom.  “Brashiin and Oanir are going to take off and head towards the mountains before it gets any later.  The companions that are left are eager to reunite with the rest of the ssHreana.”

“Okay, Penny.  Tell them good luck and hopefully we’ll meet back here soon. Oh, and tell them thanks for their help, too.”

“Sure, Don,” Penny answered.

When everyone was strapped in their seats, Don made last minute checks and then switched on the repulser jets.  As the Jupiter II lifted gently into the darkening sky, the pilot let out a great sigh of relief.  Within minutes, the spaceship was peacefully orbiting the planet. 

Don turned to their Krimlon guests.  “I believe that we should land in Kirvos about three hours before sunrise.  I want to land near the palace, but not on the grounds.  I’m afraid that landing on the palace grounds would be seen as a serious threat to the king, but I still want to be close enough to get Reezel’s attention.  Is there is a place big enough to accommodate this ship, Garroween?” 

“Yes, the Plaza of the Ancestors would be a good place.  I remember visiting it when I was younger, and it is easily large enough to accommodate your spaceship, but not too far from the palace.   You are wise not to land on the palace grounds,” Garroween agreed. 

“Well then, everyone get some shuteye, especially you, Will.  You’ve been really hauling a load on this, and I know that your dad would be proud of you.”  Don looked down at the young man that he had watched grow so much in the past four years. 

Will blushed slightly.  “Thanks, Don.  I just want to have Mom and Dad back with us.  That’s all.” 

Putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder, he said, “I know, Will.  We all do.”  He looked out the observation window at the brightly shining stars.  “Well, let’s head to bed, gang.  I think tomorrow will be a busy day.”  The attending flutter-dragons squeaked their agreement.  

   

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Awakening in a totally unfamiliar room made John anxious for a moment, but he was reassured to find Maureen and Maggie on one side of him and Silverado on the other. There was a small phosphorescent strip on the wall near him, and it appeared from the small amount of light it gave off that he was in a cave-like room.  He barely made out a door on the other side of the small room and, restless, quietly extricated himself from his bedmates.

Maureen stirred slightly and he felt the tendrils of her thoughts.  Elated that his isolation was finally over, he leaned over, kissed her cheek and sent a telepathic love note.  A slight pain behind his eyes disturbed him briefly, but gratitude made him ignore his momentary discomfort.  She looked tired and drawn, and he suspected that she had attended to him continuously since their stop for lunch, however long ago that was. 

Silverado jerked his head up, squeaking sleepily.  John, awake!  Better?’ the lizard sent, his thoughts bubbling with happiness. 

“Yes, much better,” John whispered as he pulled on his clothes.  The pants appeared to have been washed, and again he wondered how long he had been asleep.  A shirt of the same material that Maureen had received from Mreelon laid next to his pants, and he looked at it with pleasure.  It felt lightweight and looked big enough to fit him.  Slipping it on, he reveled in the feel of something new against his skin.  As soon as his shirt was on, Silverado flew over to his shoulder and curled his prehensile tail around John’s neck. 

“Let’s go check this place out,” he said softly, stepping quietly out of the door and finding himself in a corridor lit brightly with many patches of the phosphorescent material.

Murreena, friends that way,’ Silverado directed at the first junction of corridors.  

“Where are Dar and Litha,” he asked.   John received mental communication that they were back in a room near his and Maureen’s.   He continued down the corridor, figuring that he would see the Krimlon couple when he returned to his own quarters.  A short distance further, the passageway opened up to a massive cavern, lit by small natural-looking openings in the roof as well as the ever-present phosphorescent patches on the walls.   In the middle of the vaulted room was a large pool, with a small river leading into it on the far end and flowing out of it near him.

John!  You are feeling better?’ Murreena asked him.  He looked carefully into the pool and finally saw her head above the surface, her luminous eyes watching him steadily.  Murwon broke the surface in a leap that propelled him several feet into the air and then back into the water again.  John felt their happy thoughts swirling around in his mind, and he suddenly longed for Maureen. 

“Yes,” he said, smiling.  Silverado launched himself from his shoulder and soared above the heads of the ssHreana swimming in the pool, squeaking merrily.  Approaching the edge of the pool, he saw Murreena walk up the sloping bank towards him, the water sheeting off of her silvery colored, dolphin-like skin.

Thank you, Murreena, for what you and Murwon did for me,’ he said, trying to ignore the discomfort that accompanied that communication.  “May I also ask you a question?” 

Of course, John,’ she said.

“Why am I still feeling the same pain that I did when I had the headband on?  It is less severe, but it’s there nevertheless.”

John, among humanoids, including my own race, there is an illogical phenomenon in which someone who has lost a limb will swear they can still feel it.  It hurts or itches or some similar sensation.  I suspect that the same thing is happening to you.  Your brain is still remembering the stimulus of the device and repeating it under similar circumstances.  Am I making sense?’ she asked.

“Yes, perfect sense.  Theoretically, it should subside with time once my mind gets used to my new found freedom, so to speak,” he stated.

Yes.  That was very powerful conditioning you received while you were incarcerated.  Most of that conditioning has been removed, the rest you should be able to deal with in time,’ she explained.

“Again, thanks, Murreena.”

John!  Where are you?’ Maureen called, a worried note in her communication.

I’m not too far away, Maureen.  I’ll be right there,’ he answered and waving to the ssHreana, walked back down the corridor to his quarters.  Silverado squeaked and flew after him, landing on his shoulder.

 

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In the early predawn hours, the Jupiter II quietly landed in a large plaza near the palace of King Reezel.  The repulser jets whispered a final sigh as they shut down.  Buildings no more than two stories high ringed the plaza, most looking to be business establishments.

“I think we need to set up the force field just in case our reception is less than welcome,” Don said, looking at Garroween and Mreelon with a wry smile.

“And we need to leave your ship, Guardian’s brother.  We have friends here who are sympathetic to us.  In fact, they are part of a group working to change the attitudes of the populace,” Garroween explained. 

“Sounds like an underground of sorts,” Don commented and then explained the term.

“It is.  They will also know the whereabouts of the Guardian.  What is most important, though, is that we will be able to let people know why you are here.  I can only imagine what lies and propaganda will be spread when your ship is discovered.  Is this force field you mentioned some kind of protective device?”

“Yes, it is, Garroween.  And I appreciate your help.  Just be careful,” Don said.  “I would feel a lot better it if you took a communicator.  With it you can let us know what’s going on.  We’ll try to send a message to your government, but it may be difficult.”

Getting out a small hand-held communicator, Don showed the couple how to work it, then lowering the ramp, they carried out the force-field generator.  Garroween and Mreelon silently slipped away in the ebony darkness while Will and Don set up the device.  Just as they finished and turned on the machine, a shout informed them that they had been discovered. 

“We have come here in peace, seeking the Guardian, who is our leader,” Don shouted into the darkness.  Turning to the boy, he said, “Get inside now.  There may be a rifle to go along with the voice, and I can’t guarantee that the force field is working one hundred percent.”   Will was hurrying up the ramp when a shot rang out and ricocheted off the force field. 

“Tell King Reezel that we want to talk peacefully with him.  We only want our leader and then we’ll go.”  Several more shots shattered the momentary stillness that followed his words, and with a sigh, the pilot walked up the ramp and closed the airlock door. 

“Well, all we can hope for now is Garroween succeeding or King Reezel acting with something akin to reason,” Don stated flatly.  “And all we can do now is broadcast a message over loudspeakers and hope and pray for the best.” 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty
Chapter One
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