Planet of Dragons
The Fire of Intolerance
"The only way I can think to rescue the ssHreana
is for the Jupiter II to be able to come through the gate," John
mused. "The companions
indicated that there were only a dozen and a half crew members on their
ship. We should be able to
carry that many back to Karturm, especially if the chariot is left
"Can that be done, John?" Maureen asked.
"Yes, I believe so," he said.
"In theory, the physics of such an action is very possible.
Garroween, do you have paper and pen or pencil?"
Soon John was writing equations and accompanying them with brief
notes. Mreelon brought in a
tray with various foods arranged in colorful patterns and after passing
it around to everybody else, set it down on the table where John was
working. He glanced
at it and then turned back to his work. The Krimlon watched in silence,
too polite to interrupt with conversation.
Finally when Maureen began dozing off in the chair, Mreelon led
her to another room and a bed for her to sleep in.
Not too long after that, Garroween tapped John on the
are you a scientist?"
"Yes, I'm an astro-physicist," John replied
Garroween looked a bit blank at the human's
pronouncement, but decided not to pursue the matter. "Guardian, we are going to take our leave.
Your beloved is sleeping in that room when you are
John looked up and saw where the Krimlon was
Garroween, I appreciate your hospitality.
And please stop calling me Guardian; my name is John."
Garroween just smiled and walked into his bedroom.
John had already turned back to his work.
Sometime during the early morning hours, he rewrote his notes and
equations on another sheet of paper and looked at them in satisfaction.
He felt that Will and the robot would be able to take what he had
written and make the conversion to allow the Jupiter II to come through
the gate to this world.
Yawning, he picked up the finished sheet and made his
way to the guest room. He
would clean up the rest of the papers in the morning. Lying down next to
Maureen, he smiled at the sight of the two lizards, zanlings, he
corrected himself, curled up next to her head.
Soon he was asleep, his arm resting across her body.
Silverado shifted position and in a minute was sleeping soundly
against the back of John's neck.
Sometime later, as the first light of dawn began to
creep over the horizon, a dark figure slipped into an open window and
looked around, a tiny lantern giving minimal light.
The figure was clothed in a plain gray jumpsuit, insignia on the
sleeve the only marking. A
helmet completely covered his head, making him appear bleak and
menacing. His gloved hands
picked up the papers left on the table and stuffed them inside a small
pouch tied at his waist. Then
the lurker silently moved around the room, looking, searching, but
finding nothing else. Turning toward the window, he snatched some of the food that
had been left and climbed back out the way he came.
Will found Penny at the same time he saw the
ssHreanna ship near the clearing that had once been their old home.
Landing a few feet in front of her, he released Nova from his
riding place inside his jacket and then unbuckled the jet pack.
"Oh, Will, you startled me.
Did you come to join me? To
see what's here?" his sister asked in eager anticipation.
"No, Don sent me. Although to be honest, I had planned on investigating that
device anyway, but you kind of spoiled that by taking off last
"Oh," she said dejectedly.
"But, Will, it has to be something of great importance.
The flutter-dragons want to go so badly."
"Nova does, too, but Penny, it could be
dangerous. That's why Mom
and Dad came, to check it out," he argued.
"I thought you said that you were coming to
check it out, too. What
makes you more capable of that than I, little brother?" she pointed
"I guess I just argued myself out of that one,
didn't I?" Will said with a grin.
"But I promised Don and he's worried sick.
He's afraid that something will happen to us while Mom and Dad
Sighing, Penny looked around her at the forest that
had been home for nine months. It
was so beautiful. "I
suppose you're right. And I
wouldn't want Don and Judy to worry."
"Well, Don's coming in the chariot, so why don't
we check out the spaceship that I saw when I landed."
Oh, you mean the one that Mom saw coming in on her screen after
we landed? You know that
could be dangerous, too, Will," she said with a slight smile.
"Don made me promise to stop you from going to
the device; he didn't say that we couldn't explore a little.
Who knows, maybe we'll run across Mom and Dad," he mused.
After stowing the jet pack behind some bushes, the
two teenagers followed a path that led directly to the abandoned
spaceship. Standing near
the clearing that the vehicle had made during its landing, they waited a
minute, pondering their approach. Nova,
Susan, Peter, Edmund, and Lucy swirled in the cool morning air in a
tight formation reveling in the bright sunshine on their backs.
'Nova, can you tell if anyone is inside?' Will asked
Will got the impression of some kind of presence.
Something sad. "I
think it's okay, Penny. Nova
didn't feel anything harmful."
"There are beings in there, Will.
And they're dying. We have to go in," she said mournfully.
Quickly they walked up the ship's ramp and pressed a small panel
to the side of the door. As
soon as it had allowed them access, Will and Penny walked into the cool,
Immediately, Will noticed his parents' jet packs
inside the lock. "Hey,
Mom and Dad were here," he said.
When he turned back to Penny, he saw her standing at one side of
the corridor about twenty feet inside, looking at something on the wall. It was an ocean habitat.
"Oh, Will, these are the companions of the
ssHreana and they're dying from separation.
They're so lonely," she said, her voice choking. Tears
flowed freely down her cheeks. Will saw delicate looking creatures
floating in front of an observation window. "The ssHreana went
through a teleportation gate and have never come back.
That's the device that has been pulling us, especially me, Dad
and the lizards."
children of John and Maureen,' a soft whispery voice floated through their minds.
It was a statement, not a question.
'Your parents were here during the last sun cycle.
They told us they were going through the gate to find our
companions.' The voice
became even more melancholy at the mention of the ssHreana.
'If Mom and Dad
said they were going to find your companions, then they will.
What can we do for you in the meantime?'
'It is not good
for you to follow your parents as you had both thought to.
Instead, please be our temporary companions.
We are so lonely.'
'How do we do
Penny asked. 'And what is your name?'
'I am called
father called me Wees. And
if you just stay nearby until our companions return, we would be most
grateful. We like to sing and paint with thoughts.
It is soothing to our companions.
Do you like music and art?' Wees asked.
perhaps we can learn to sing and paint as you do. Maybe you can show us your world and we can show you ours,'
Penny told the ssReelen. 'Maybe we can help each other withstand the yearning for the gate.'
that would be very good. We
Wees whispered, gratitude flowing through her thoughts.
"I see a communications console.
Let me contact Don first. Then
I'll go out and get our stuff and bring it in," Will announced.
"I'm also going to find some of the fruit that was in season
when we were here a year ago. You
stay here with the ssReelen."
Penny just nodded, deep in communication with the sea creatures.
Her four lizards were perched on a railing, chirping
encouragement to their aquatic counterparts.
John rolled over, stretched and realized he was alone
in the bed. Or almost
alone, because as he opened his eyes, he looked into the golden ones of
Silverado. 'Get up, fly!' came the happy thoughts in his head.
Laughing, he sat up and noticed with chagrin that he had slept
much later than he had intended. A side room had a washbasin, with soap and a straight razor,
and he used them to freshen up as best he could.
Then dressing, he went into the common room where Maureen and the
Krimlon were talking.
"About time you got up, lazy bones.
How late did you stay up?" Maureen chided.
"I don't know.
Time difference. Hey,
that's it. Jet lag."
He and Maureen laughed at his joke while their hosts just looked
confused. He tried to
explain jet lag, but felt that the family still only half understood
what he was talking about, so he gave up.
"I want to send one of the lizards back to the
Jupiter II with my notes. Do
you think they would put up with something tied to them?" he asked
Silverado made it known to me what you had in mind, and I got
your sheet of notes and tied them on Maggie so that she could fly
without too much trouble. She
left about a half an hour ago," Maureen explained.
"I also gave her a message to relay to everyone that we are
safe and we will be searching for the ssHreana."
You are an absolute queen," he said brightly.
"Then we should be able to set off shortly."
"So it is your wish to follow the trail of the
fish people, Guardian? Garroween
"Yes, it is.
At least until we find out if they made it to the Land of
Abominations safely. I'm
not trying to be a pessimist, but it does no good to keep that gate open
if the ssHreana didn't make it."
Mreelon handed him a plate with something that looked a great
deal like pancakes. A
jam-like substance was spread on top, and a little pile of nuts was next
to the pancakes. John attacked his breakfast with great enthusiasm,
complimenting the cook profusely. Mreelon
blushed with pleasure.
Dar arrived at the rendezvous point within the two
turns promised and asked for an assessment.
He noticed that two men were in large and menacing helmets, their
features totally hidden. One
of them took his helmet off and began his report.
"Guardsman, the two otherworlders and their
zanlings slept at the home of the suspect, Garroween. These helmets allowed us to get close to the house and listen
to the conversation of the abominations without them detecting our
thoughts. They intend
to bring some kind of large machine through the gate.
It is for the rescue of the fish abominations.
At present, the intentions of these two are to try and find the
"Were these two abominations more of the fish
people?" Dar asked.
"No, Guardsman, they are somewhat more like us.
One is at least three krilicks tall with dark hair and
brownish-blue eyes. The
other is a little more than two krilicks tall and has hair and eye color
closely matching ours. Both have pale skin and rounded ears, and both
have zanlings. The shorter one is the tall one's beloved," the
"What is the word from the palace?" Dar
asked a palace soldier who had the appearance of one who had motored
half the night.
"We are to take the tall one, the one resembling
the legends of the guardian, alive.
The other abomination and Garroween's family, as well as the
zanlings, can be destroyed as soon as the otherworlder is
captured," the soldier stated matter-of-factly. "The prince
specifically stated that you were to be on hand for the so-called
guardian's capture, due to your prodigious strength and prowess in
fighting. Prince Mizel
wanted to take no chances on the seizure of this monster."
Although his face remained passive, Dar's mind worked
furiously. This abomination
was the same person that had been described by Litha earlier this
morning. This was not the
so-called guardian. This was
the Guardian and he had been ordered to capture him.
"Very well, since we know the route that the otherworlders
are taking, send four helmeted men to set up an ambush.
I think the best way to do this is to use a net.
Is there one available here in the supply house?"
"Then take it and set it up approximately a
turn's distance from Garroween's house.
I will follow with ten soldiers.
We will have to take a chance on the distance at which these
abominations and zanlings can hear our thoughts, but we can't be too far
away when the trap is sprung," Dar explained.
"Yes, Guardsman, you are correct," a voice said softly behind him.
Dar pivoted and placed his fist against his chest.
"My Prince. Your
presence is a pleasant surprise."
"Maybe, maybe not, brother by marriage.
But your plan is sound. And
this abomination has told me the distance that we can safely be to keep
from being detected by the zanlings," Mizel stated.
"It is fairly short."
The one to whom Mizel was referring was one of the fish people,
this one a pitiful and dehydrated shell of the creatures he had
encountered as they had fled to the Land of the Abominations.
"Give it some water," Mizel ordered.