Planet of Dragons





Chapter Eight



Will had stored his jet pack in the ssHreana spaceship and was gathering fruit when Nova alerted him to Maggie's return.  As soon as the little lizard saw him, she flew down and landed on his shoulder.  A sheet of paper was tied between her forelegs.  Carefully, he untied it and opening it up, saw the notes that his father had written, along with a brief sentence from Mom.  After studying it for a few minutes, Will felt great excitement building up inside him.  He ran back into the alien vessel, dropping the fruit near the door. 

"Penny, you'll never guess what Mom and Dad sent us!" he cried. 

"Sent us?" she asked and then saw Maggie floating down the corridor behind him. 

"Yeah, Dad wrote all kinds of equations, with instructions to use them to get through the gate with the Jupiter II."

"But why?" she asked.

"To rescue the ssHreana, who are trapped on the other world.  Mom and Dad didn't have much room to give a lot of detail, but it seems that the people on that world are afraid of telepaths and hunt them down....."  Will paused in his reading and looked at Penny with alarm in his eyes. 

She returned his fearful look with one of her own.  "They are in danger, too," she stated simply. 

"Yeah," he concurred, studying the note.  "But Dad says that there are people there who are willing to help, so we're not to worry."  Will sat down in front of the communications console and contacted Don.

"You kids okay?" Don asked before Will could say anything.  "I think I'm about two hours away."

"Sure, we're fine. Dad sent a note with Maggie, telling us to make some modifications on the Jupiter II so that it can go through the teleportation device that was set up here.  I'll have to explain all of the details when you get here."

"Sure thing, Will.  Did your Dad say why?  They aren't in trouble are they?"  Concern colored the major's voice. 

"No, they're not," Will told him.  He heard Don's sigh of relief  on the speaker.

"I'll be there soon and then we can plan," Don answered.

As he broke the connection with Don, Will studied the sheet of paper, going over each equation step by step.  He was sure that with the Robot's help he could make the modifications needed, and then they could all go through the gate.





"Garroween, Mreelon, I thank you for the hospitality that you have shown us.  I know that it was a great risk that you took," John said sincerely as he and Maureen prepared to follow the route taken by the ssHreana the week before. 

"Guardian, the route to peace is full of risks.  I pray that your journey is safe and successful," Garroween said solemnly. 

Mreelon handed Maureen a packet of what she presumed was lunch, and then she sketched a circular sign in the air.  "May the great whole encircle you both in its protection," she intoned.  Maureen hugged her briefly, murmuring sincere thanks in her ear.  Then they set out behind Bralin and were soon in the shadows of the forest.

John noted that the day promised to be another hot and dry one and was grateful for the extra canister of water that hung at his side.  This time he was just wearing his tee shirt, but wished that he had brought a lighter weight pair of pants with him.  Maureen had on a set of clothing that Mreelon had found for her.  She had been astounded at the light feel of the cloth, which seemed to almost repel the heat.  Morosely, John thought that his height had been advantageous in high school, but it certainly wasn't much help here. He shifted the backpack he was carrying until it was more comfortable, but already felt a dampness on his back where it was lying. 

"Guardian, what is your world like?  Are there many people living there?  Do they all speak mind to mind?  Does everyone fly in spaceship?"  Bralin would have continued had John not stopped him.

"First of all, Bralin, my name is John, not guardian.  And our world, Earth, is very beautiful, but like most worlds, it does have its problems, too.  My people have taken it for granted for many years and there are places of ruin and ugliness.  And yes, there are many people on Earth, about eight billion.  That was one reason for my family and me having a spaceship.  We are supposed to be colonizing another world," John laughed.  "We have been side-tracked.  So, spaceships are not that common, and believe it or not, neither is telepathy.  That is something that happened when we met the zanlings."  Silverado raised his head from where it was resting on his shoulder and chirped sleepily. 

"Tell me more about your family, Guardian.  It amazes me that there is such diversity among members of the same family and the same race," Bralin stated.

"Please, don't call me Guardian," John said tersely.  And then, "It amazes me that there is so little variation among your people."

Bralin was quiet for so long that John was afraid that he had ventured into a taboo subject.  Silverado continued to look around a moment before laying his head back down. 

"Bralin, would the lack of variation be because deviants are weeded out?"  Maureen ventured. 

The young man just looked more morose.  "For many years, those who were different were not allowed to take beloveds.  If they did and produced offspring, they and the offspring were killed.  It was said that in the days of our first ancestors there was a means to keep such different ones from having children.  It is whispered that it still happens, especially in the ruling classes.  Can you imagine the embarrassment of a royal relative that was deviant?"  Bralin said sarcastically.

John and Maureen looked at him in shock.  "Sterilization," she said simply. 

John shook his head and grunted.  "Worse atrocities have happened on Earth, but it's still shocking."

Silverado raised his head in alarm and squeaked loudly.  A large weighted net fell across their shoulders and pinned them to the ground.  Four helmeted Krimlon jumped from the trees and pointed weapons at them.  John struggled to get the net off, but it was too heavy. 

"Stay still, abominations, you will be freed shortly when the Prince arrives." 

Bralin blanched.  Silverado extricated himself from the netting and was tugging at it.  One of their captors reached for him. 'Silverado, go, get away!  Hide and watch!  Now!!'  John told him. Reluctantly, the zanling flew into the forest and hid, watching, waiting.  John could feel his presence nearby.

Maureen leaned down and shut off her translator.  Following her lead, he did the same.  Then she reached for his hand and squeezed it.  "Why weren't we able to detect their presence?  Even Silverado had no warning until the net fell." 

"I think the helmets they're wearing have some kind of shielding power.  I can't feel any of their thoughts right now," John explained. 

One of the soldier's weapons prodded him.  John switched the translator back on. "Speak in our language, abomination or keep quiet." 

Silverado's warning caused him to turn and look behind him.  A loud roaring sound preceded the arrival of a very large and bulky motorized vehicle.  It pulled up near them and stopped, belching dark smoke as it was shut off.  It resembled slightly the old two and a half ton Army trucks that were used from World War II until the beginning of the new century.  Six soldiers jumped out of it, and Prince Mizel was announced sonorously as a soldier opened the passenger door and helped a young well-dressed Krimlon out.  Another soldier handed him a long rod-like scepter, which he nonchalantly accepted. 

"Take the net off the abominations," the prince ordered.  He was promptly obeyed and the three prisoners were able to stand and face their captors.  Bralin looked positively terrified.  John tried to pick up Mizel's thoughts but was only able to get just enough to cause him to want to know more. 

'Silverado, help me focus on Prince Mizel.  I need to understand what he's thinking,' John thought to the hidden lizard.  As he eavesdropped, a cold rage settled into his heart, and he felt the desire to have this ice-hearted monster within reach of his hands.  It was no wonder that Bralin was terrified.  He heard Maureen and Bralin gasp, and he came back to the physical world.  Two soldiers had dragged an hysterical Mreelon and struggling Garroween from the back of the truck, along with two dehydrated-looking ssHreana.

"Why have we been assaulted in this manner?" John thundered.  "We came peacefully into your world."  He was desperately trying to think of a way out of this predicament.  'ssHreana, who are you?'  he thought at the same time. 

'We are among the weakest of our race.  I am Brashiin and this is my mate, Oanir.  We are sorry for having betrayed you, Lord Commander.'  The voice was weak and whispery, and full of contrition.  'We are so ashamed.'

"How dare you speak to me in that tone, Abomination.   You will not speak unless I tell you to.  Do you understand me?" Mizel cried out in rage. 

John just stood with his arms crossed, not deigning to answer the belligerent monarch. His eyes took in a count of soldiers.  There were a dozen, not counting Prince Mizel.  Somehow John didn't think that in a fight, his royal highness would amount to much.

To the ssHreana he telepathically replied, 'That is neither here nor there, Brashiin, whatever you were compelled to do was under duress and is over.  I will try to create a diversion.  At that time I want you and your mate to make sure that my mate and these captive Krimlon reach the teleportation gate.'

"Answer me, you freak.  I am the Prince."

'We are weak.  I do not know how far we can go,' Oanir told him.

"I understand you.  In fact I would understand you even better if you weren't screaming," he commented calmly to the prince, even though inside he was seething at the brutality of this Krimlon.

One of the guards hit him in the diaphragm with a short staff, doubling him over.  "You will address the Prince with respect."

"When he deserves it," John replied when he had recovered enough to do so. 

'Brashiin, Oanir, you must all help each other.  You now know what this maniac's thoughts are.  To live, you have to help each other to the gate, where the rest of my people will be able to help you,' John admonished them.

'Yes, we know now.  I deluded myself that he would let my mate go free. Yes, we will do our best,' Brashiin promised.

Mizel looked a bit smug.  "What is that thing that the sounds are coming out of?"

"It is a translating device to help me understand your people since I don't know your language," John explained.  'Silverado, help me focus.  I need to make sure that Maureen hears me.'

"So the mighty Guardian does not even know our language," Mizel gloated and laughed.  Several of the soldiers nervously laughed with him. 

'Mo, listen to me.  I think I can goad this pompous jackass into doing something stupid.  When I have created a diversion I want you to take the ssHreana and Garroween and his family to the gate.  Get them to safety.  I have told the ssHreana to help you as well.'

'John, I can't leave you, not this time,' her thoughts were vehement.

'Maureen, they want me alive.  They have plans to kill the rest of you.  Silverado helped me read Mizel's thoughts.  He is going to kill you!!  I won't let that happen.  I want you to get away. I'll be able to escape later and rejoin you,' he told her forcefully.

'Are you sure, John?'

'Yes.  And you did promise to obey my orders if it ever came to something like this.  It has.'

'All right, John.' Her whispery thoughts were full of sadness.

"We will see how mighty you are, Guardian, without your precious zanling, your abominable powers and your friends," Mizel gloated, stepping up to John and shaking the scepter in his face.  Turning slightly, he queried, "Where is his zanling?"   

That was when John saw his opportunity.  Pushing Maureen away from him, he reached forward, grabbed the rod from Mizel's hand and shoved the prince into several of his soldiers.  Pivoting around, he quickly used the rod of office to knock the projectile weapons away from the closest guards.  'Maureen run!!  Now!!' he ordered.



Chapter Nine
Chapter One
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