Planet of Dragons

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-two

It All Comes Together

 

“Your Highness, I have word from my investigator, Frelor.  He has discovered the uses of several more weapons which have great potential in our quest to destroy these abominations,” the Purifier said to Prince Mizel as they walked the palace grounds, just after sunrise. 

“Oh?” Mizel asked.

“Let us suffice to say that they are weapons of great power, your highness.  No one will dare question your leadership or authority.”

“Very good, Purifier,” Mizel gloated.  “Surely the Guardian has heard of his people being here and is coming.”

“That is entirely possible, your Highness.  However I have not heard from my enforcer.  I can only surmise that he did not succeed in his assassination attempt.  We shall have to watch and see.  I will have to think up an explanation as to why one of my men was trying to assassinate the king,” the hooded man commented, changing the subject.

“You are sure that this is the only way to restore order and balance?”  Mizel queried, trepidation in his voice. 

“Of course. Your father has grown weak and vacillating.  His indecision has caused much of the unrest.  With him gone and you on the throne, all will be restored back to its natural balance.  This move is for the good of the kingdom, the people.  Only for the good of the Krimlon....”  the Purifier told him placatingly.

“Very well, have Frelor deliver the weapons as soon as possible, and we will attack this afternoon during the hottest time of the day,” Mizel ordered.  The hooded man simply bowed and walked away from the prince. 

 

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Just as the sun made its entrance over the distant horizon, the small group from the Greel Mountains was met at the outskirts of Kirvos by a lone Krimlon. “Come quickly, please.  It is already late and you will be seen,” he gestured frantically.

John looked at Dar and nodded.  He’s okay.’  In silence the group traveled along older streets that were lined with tenement-like buildings.  Occasionally they saw eyes watching them, and with a smile, John ordered Silverado from the traveling pouch and onto his accustomed perch on his shoulder.  With a squeak of relief, the flutter-dragon wrapped his tail around his friend’s neck.  Following her companion’s example, Maggie climbed onto Maureen’s shoulder as well. 

Another hour along narrow side streets and the travelers reached their destination.  With a slight groan, John stiffly dismounted and helped Maureen from her tilon.  “If I never see another tilon again, it will be too soon,” he muttered.  Dar just grinned as he assisted his own wife.  A young Krimlon came out, took the reins of their mounts and motioned for them to enter the dwelling. 

Ducking at the threshold, John walked into the cool, dim interior and stood leaning against one wall, Maureen at his side.  “Thrice welcome, Guardian.  Sit down, have some comcreel and greelongs,” an older Krimlon said graciously, handing them both mugs of the spicy drink and motioning to a table with plates of pastries.

“No, thanks, I think I’ll stand for awhile,” John commented as he sipped the comcreel. 

“The Guardian is not used to riding long distances on a tilon,” Dar said with a laugh.

“The Guardian is not used to riding long distances on anything other than a spaceship,” the professor said tersely, deciding that there was no use arguing anymore over their designation of him. 

“Oh, you mean like the one in the Plaza of the Ancestors?” a younger Krimlon asked.

“There’s a spaceship here?”  John and Maureen asked at the same time.

“Yes, Guardian, that is what we have been told the thing in the plaza is by our fellow sympathizers.  There were two of our people who had been on it for several cycles, and they said the aliens were very kind to them.   By the admission of the tall one at the spaceship, they are your family.”

“The Jupiter II made it through,” John said quietly.  “How far away from here are they?”

“Not too far from the palace, Guardian.   Several turns from here on foot.  We can get you there by this afternoon, but it will be round about.  Obviously, you stand out, which is good for our purposes, but if there are any soldiers around, it would not be very good for your continued well-being,” the older Krimlon said wryly. 

John was elated that the rest of his family was only a few hours walking distance from him.  “Maureen, I think it would be better for you to stay here until I get to the ship and find out what’s going on. I’d feel much better,” he said softly, knowing how insistent she had been lately.

Looking at the determined set of his face, she nodded. She felt so tired and was eager for all of this to be finished.  “Just be careful, dear, and tell me what’s going on as soon as you can.”

“Yes, I will.  Probably by Silverado,” he told her and punctuated his comment with a kiss.  Turning to his Krimlon hosts, he said,  “When can we start out?”

“As soon as you wish, Guardian,” came the answer.  

“Let’s go now.  I’m eager to get to my ship,” he said finishing the comcreel and grabbing a greelong off the serving tray. 

“I am going as well,” Dar commented, and kissing his beloved, followed the group out a back door.  Although she felt a small nagging fear for his safety, Maureen found a couch and lay down to rest while she waited for John. 

The older Krimlon, Trenell, was correct when he said round about.  He seemed determined to take the Guardian to all of the meeting places of anti-government sympathizers. 

“Trenell, I don’t mind helping you in your quest to get the government to change it’s policies, but I really think that it would help if I got to my ship,” he finally told his escort.

“Guardian, there are many soldiers around the plaza and near your ship.  You would never make it.  These stops not only serve the purpose of letting the people know that the prophecy is real, but also will keep you safe from capture until you can return to your family under the cover of darkness.”

“Oh.  Well, how far are we from my ship?”  he asked.

“Actually, not that far.  It lies only two streets away from here.  We are slowly circling the plaza,” Trenell replied.   “It is the hottest time of the day.  Let us have a bit of refreshment before moving on.”

Suddenly, John jerked his head up.  Silverado squeaked piercingly and flapped his gossamer wings in agitation.  “NO!” he exclaimed. 

“What is it, Guardian?”  Trenell looked at him in alarm.  Everyone in the room was suddenly very quiet following John’s outburst. 

“The Purifier has someone setting up a weapon of mass destruction in the plaza.  It is capable of destroying my ship along with my family,” he explained quickly, thrusting his mug into Trenell’s hands and dashing out the door.  Dar was right behind him. 

“Guardian, wait!  You can’t go to the square now!”  Trenell shouted. 

“Try and stop me,” John called over his shoulder.  “You had better have your people tell the civilians in the square to evacuate.  That weapon has the potential to destroy more than just my ship.”

Trenell was flabbergasted.  “But how do you know, Guardian?”  he asked. 

“I’m an abomination, remember?” came the answer and the two men dashed around the corner of a building and were gone from view.  John was astonished at the lengths government would go to destroy those who deviated from the ‘norm.’ Trenell stood in place for a moment and then started shouting instructions, well aware that there would be many sympathizers in the plaza now that the Guardian had been seen. 

 

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Maureen woke abruptly from her sleep hearing agitated shouting and arguing.  “It is entirely possible that there are weapons that could destroy a ship that large,” she heard Litha explaining to someone, her voice tight with anxiety. 

“What is this about weapons and a ship?” Maureen asked sleepily.  She felt the first tendrils of alarm from Maggie, who had also been asleep. 

“It has been reported that the Purifier has an enforcer setting up a weapon in the plaza that will destroy your ship,” Litha explained. 

Maureen blanched.  “How fast can we get there?” she asked. 

“On tilon, in less than a turn,” Litha said and started for the door.   Maureen was right behind her.   In a small stable behind the house they found the tilons quietly eating.  With the help of several Krimlon, the mounts were quickly saddled.  A youth offered to take them on the fastest possible route, and soon they were rushing through the streets at a reckless speed.  As promised they burst into the plaza within an hour. 

The Jupiter II sat in quiet repose, filling two-thirds of the plaza and crowds filling most of the rest of the space, although it seemed to Maureen that there was some discreet dispersal going on.  Near the north end of the plaza, she saw John running toward a Krimlon near a machine.

 

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“Young Will, let us go and meet the rest of your family.  I refuse to let anything delay me further.  We should have gone earlier in the day,” Reezel stated, the edge of determination in his voice.  

Will couldn’t argue with the king.  He thought they should have gone right after sunrise, but it seemed that as soon as the king had arranged to leave the palace, something else came up and then something after that, continuously until well after the midday meal.  

“Joran, I want two of your most loyal guardsmen to accompany us to the plaza,” Reezel ordered. 

“Your highness, the Purifier ordered that for your own safety, you were to remain here,” the bodyguard said. 

“Who is king here?  I gave you an order and it supersedes the Purifier’s.  Are you loyal to me or to the Purifier?”

“To you, Highness, but if there is danger....”

“I am beginning to believe there is more danger here in the palace than there is on the streets,” Reezel said dryly.  “Now do as you were ordered.”  Bowing, the guard quickly complied and soon the royal entourage was slowly traveling to the plaza in the royal conveyance.  Will felt that it needed a good tune-up and that they could probably get to the plaza quicker on foot, but he was not in the position to argue with the king even if he had wanted to.

 

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As he entered the plaza, John felt the triumphant thoughts of the enforcer as the last connection was made on the ball-shaped machine.  The Krimlon’s thoughts were hard to read, due to groups of people nearby, but it was nevertheless clear that the attack on the Jupiter II was planned for the hottest time of the day. This knowledge spurred John on to greater speed as that time was near at hand.  The crowd around the machine was sparse, probably due to fear of the device itself, but whatever the reason, he was grateful, as he was able to get to the man working on it.  His shouting for the remaining spectators to get away caused the Krimlon to turn quickly.  Seeing the Guardian racing toward him, the enforcer pulled his rifle from its back holster, pointed it and fired. 

Feeling the bullet-like projectile skim across the outside of his left leg, John fell to the ground rolling, trying to ignore the pain.  Somersaulting back to his feet, he took only two steps and launched himself at the soldier, hitting the man in the chest and using the momentum to knock the device off of its tripod base.

Pulling out a knife, the Krimlon rushed him and John sidestepped, reaching out with one foot and tripping his assailant.  As the man crashed to the ground, John grabbed the knife, using the hilt to render the soldier unconscious.   Ignoring the blood running down his leg, he picked up the device and studied it for a moment.  Quickly figuring it out, he turned a few knobs and used the knife hilt to smash switches, rendering the trigger of the device useless.  As he laid it down, he looked up to see Mizel, the Purifier and several guards approaching him.

Knowing there was no time to escape, John broke off a leg of the tripod and initiated an attack of the foremost soldier.  Mizel stood back with a look of pure fury on his face.

 

 

Chapter Twenty-three
Chapter One
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