Planet of Dragons
The Stage is Set
must tell you what happened to the zanlings from K’rtr’m when this
gate that you came through was set up,’ Krishn’r told John and Maureen right after they
finished breakfast. John had showered and shaved, and with the hearty
breakfast, was feeling almost back to normal by the time they had been
summoned to see Krishn’r. Based
on Penny’s description, this being was of the same species as her
friend, K’rthk’rinkl. The creature was very small, not more than a
meter tall, with mouth-parts and eyes very similar to the
flutter-dragons. The alien
had light reddish-gold downy fur.
“Yes, I know that except for one zanling, all
seemed to have disappeared. I
was wondering what had happened to them.
There were quite a few when we left the planet four months
ago,” John said. He
watched the long, delicate fingers of the diminutive alien.
They seemed to echo the little creature’s agitation, moving and
gesturing as he spoke telepathically.
gate was set up, the Office of Purity kept watch to see what came
through. When the first
zanlings came through, they were ecstatic, realizing that they had
finally found the Planet of Exile.
The Purifier shut down the gate temporarily until King Reezel and
his son, Mizel arrived, and then they hooked the gate back up,’ Krishn’r
paused and John felt great sadness in the alien’s thoughts.
zanlings began coming through again, the Purifier’s men started
shooting them from the sky. We
don’t think many escaped because only a few made it here,’ Krishn’r
paused. ‘I know that you have
been treated horribly at the hands of Prince Mizel, but more and more people are coming into the open, demanding an end to the
bigotry and fear. You have
been the catalyst, the fulfilling of prophecy, but the soldiers of the
prince are taking measures to put down open dissension.
Guardian, your presence would break the hold the Office of Purity
has had over this planet for hundreds of years.’
Without a word, John got up and paced back and forth
in the little room. Krishn’r
was silent and Maureen watched her husband, realizing the strain under
which this request was putting him.
“Yes, I’ll go back.
I’ll do what I can to put down this repression, this reign of
hatred. But you can never
understand how very difficult this journey back into my nightmare is
going to be,” John stated softly.
Guardian John Robinson,’ Krishn’r told him.
John stared at him.
That was the first time he had been referred to by his given name
since he got to this planet. He
felt little tendrils of laughter in the alien’s thoughts. “How
As soon as you can, Guardian,’ the leader stated. John just nodded.
“How long do you think it will take to put Max
together again, Robot?” Will asked placing a tool in the pincer hand
of the automaton.
“At the rate we are going, I project it will take
another day, Will Robinson. I
will at least be able to restore his positronic function and then Max
will be able to help in his own reconstruction.
I do not believe that there was any permanent loss from his
memory banks,” the Robot explained.
you need my help right now?”
“No, Will Robinson.
Not at the present time,” the Robot said as he made another
adjustment on his damaged counterpart.
“Then I think I’ll practice some of the ‘chi
chi nah’ that Max taught me,” Will told him.
“Very well,” the Robot answered as he leaned over
to make more adjustments on Max’s body.
When he completed his exercises, Will looked at the
cargo bay access hatch with renewed determination. Hearing footsteps, he turned and saw Don approaching.
“Will, tonight we’re going to lift off and find a
more secluded place to land this ship.
If we do that, I’ll be able to sneak back into the city and
find your dad,” he explained. “We
can’t just sit here being gawked at or attacked by the Krimlon. I only hope that we’re given the opportunity to take down
the force field. I would
hate to leave it behind.” Will
just nodded. “By
the way, you’re getting quite good at that acrobatic stuff,” Don
“ ‘Chi chi nah,’ ” he corrected.
After Don left, Will returned to the work area where
the Robot was working on Max. “Robot,
if I had a plan to find Dad, would you help me without saying anything
“That depends on whether your plan entails much
danger, Will Robinson. I am
programmed to keep you from harm.”
“You’re also programmed to protect my dad,
too,’ the boy said tersely. “And
all we’ve done today is sit in the ship and watch people protesting or
trying to attack us. Dad
could be sitting in a jail cell being tortured.
I have to find out what’s going on.”
“If this civilization had not deteriorated to the
pre-industrial level that it has, I could monitor communication
systems,” the Robot mused. “What is your plan, Will Robinson?”
“If you can help me tonight when there is nobody
out there, I can sneak into the king’s residence and find out where
dad is,” Will said vaguely.
“My computations tell me that what you are
proposing is not a plan. It
is nothing more than the human phrase, ‘a shot in the dark,’ and as
such is doomed to failure.”
“Robot, I know that it’s not planned out step by
step, but there are several things that are in my favor.
First of all, I resemble the general populace.
I am almost the right height for a young adult, with the same
hair color and close to the same eye color.
I can wear a headband to cover the tops of my ears and I don’t
think that my short hair will be that noticeable.
Besides, it will be several hours before dawn, who’s going to
be hanging around to notice me?”
“That remains to be seen, but I think that your
plan is too dangerous.”
“I think that sitting around doing nothing but
sending out a message is too dangerous for Dad and Mom, too,” Will
“That assessment is also correct, Will Robinson,
but I do not want to see you in danger,” the Robot said in a somewhat
sad tone of voice.
“If you can help me get out of the ship safely
without being seen, then I think that getting to the palace will be
fairly simple,” Will said, his voice hard with determination.
“Let me think on this. If I do not come up with a better solution, I will help you
even though I do not like the idea."
“Thanks, Robot,” Will said with a sigh of relief.
They worked together on Max until Nova announced dinner.
“My father,” Mizel said, bowing before King
Reezel. The prince noticed
that his father looked tired and even had the appearance of having aged
somewhat since they had been together at the gate some twenty-five
cycles before. He
wondered remotely if he had some kind of ailment and couldn’t help the
thrill that momentarily raced through his chest when he thought of his
ascension to the throne. Squelching it as unseemly, Mizel looked at his father
steadily while waiting for him to explain the reasons for his summons to
the national capital.
“It has come to my ears that you captured an
abomination that many believe is the Guardian of past legend.
Is this true?” the old man asked.
“An alien and his beloved came through the same
gate that the zanlings did, and we captured him.
His resemblance to the details of that old story were uncanny,
but I took measures to neutralize his effectiveness to stir up the
rabble,” Mizel explained, hoping that his father’s information was
“Funny thing, my son. It seems that the protests have intensified, and the
‘rabble’ as you call them, have complained that you have tortured
the Guardian or killed him. This
rabble has only increased since the reports came in from the provincial
capital,” Reezel said, a hard look in his eyes belying the softness of
“As far as I know, the Guardian is still alive.
He escaped and might be hiding out in the Greel mountains or in
the home of a sympathizer. My men have not found him.”
“With a restraining device attached?
Maybe this alien really is the Guardian, if he can escape under
those circumstances,” the king said sarcastically.
“He had help, Father,” Mizel growled.
“Your illustrious son-in-law, Arandar, helped him.
He and my dear sister are abomination sympathizers, they both
helped the freak.”
Reezel said, a catch in his throat betraying his emotions.
“She sent food for the Abomination to eat.
When the prisoner escaped, Arandar and Moorelitha disappeared,
presumably to the Greel mountains with the so-called Guardian,” the
prince said tersely.
“If the alien and any of his people are captured,
they are to be treated humanely and brought before me for questioning.
Do you understand? You should have informed me right away when this Abomination
was caught,” Reezel said coldly.
“I am not happy with the way you handled this affair, my son. Send the Purifier to me.
He seems to be your constant companion these days, he should be
“Father, you sound as though you really believe
this . . . this animal is the Guardian,” Mizel commented.
“I know you believe he is the Guardian, or you
wouldn’t have done what you did,” Reezel retorted.
Mizel ignored the comment. “You also sound sympathetic.”
King Reezel paced the room and then walked to his
balcony overlooking the nicely manicured palace grounds. At present he
couldn’t see the grounds; it was ebony dark beyond the aperture.
“Perhaps we have been wrong all these centuries,” he murmured
“What, Father?” Mizel asked, incredulous at what
he thought he heard his father say.
“Nothing, son, just the babbling of a tired old
man,” the king said as he turned back to Mizel. “But understand this; you will take no punitive actions
against your sister. If she
is found, she will be brought before me.
Do you understand me?”
Mizel inclined his head. “Yes, Father.”
“Now leave and send me the Purifier.”
Mizel turned on his heel and started to leave.
A guard rushed in, breathless.
“Your highness, pardon my intrusion.
A huge craft is sitting in the Plaza of the Ancestors.
No one knows how it got there; it was just discovered by a
watchman. It fills up most
of the plaza. The owners of the craft talked about wanting their leader
back. They said he was the
Guardian. They were
deviants; one very tall and .... your highness, when we tried to fire at
them, our bullets just bounced off an invisible wall.”
Reezel turned back and looked out of the balcony
again. The dawn was just
making itself manifest. He
surmised that it was a flying craft, such as the Ancestors once had,
such as he had heard existed on other worlds, and it had landed during
the past few hours. Sighing,
he turned back to the soldier. “Send
a contingent of troops to the plaza and keep watch.
I will come and look at it myself later.
Report any developments.”
John looked over at Maureen in concern.
She had been dozing in the saddle and he was worried that she
would fall off. Their pace
had been grueling, and although he expressed his wishes that she remain
in the safety of the Greel mountains, Maureen had been adamant that she
not be separated from him again.
Dar was leading the group and Litha rode behind them.
John felt Dar’s displeasure at his own beloved’s presence on
this trip as well. “Dar,
when are we going to take a break?
Even the tilons have to rest sometime.”
“In a few turns, Guardian, when the sun is at its
hottest. Then we will find
a shady area and eat and rest for a turn.
The kreeling, Krishn’r indicated a great need for haste, and
the news was already old when he received it.”
Their meal was eaten quickly and the remainder of the
time spent resting. When it
was time to leave, Maureen rested against John’s chest as they rode
the biggest tilon. Its
loping gait soon sent his wife into a deep sleep and later, as the sun
began to set, the small group continued ever onward toward the capital
city where the unrest was reported to be the greatest.
Grateful for the different destination, John realized he had no
desire to confront Prince Mizel again at this time.
As the night deepened, and still they continued onward with only
short breaks, he began to feel some of the lethargy that his wife had