Planet of Freedom
Chapter Eleven - Idorin
During the jump to Idorin, John showed Don the types of explosive devices that he had in mind, using information on a disk copied at Wereeshen.
"Look at this one, John," Don said, stopping the disk. "That one would cause a large enough damage radius to knock out several big ships at once."
"The only bad thing about that, though, is that it would also cause the death of innumerable beings," John countered. "Even though the Graxod are coming for conquest, I have a problem with wholesale slaughter, unless there is no other alternative."
"John, these aliens want to enslave humanity! Why are you being so sensitive to the needs of the Graxod?" Don said testily.
"I just want to examine all of our options. If there is a way to disable their ships without excessive casualties, then thatís the way we go," John responded. "We want to avoid becoming like the individuals we are trying to stop, Don." He paused for a moment, then sighed. "But donít get me wrong; if total annihilation of their fleet is the only way to stop the invasion of Earth, then thatís what we do." Don looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded in agreement.
The two men continued examining the disk through much of the night, finally agreeing on several devices that would be fairly easy to find materials for and quick to put together.
Idorin was a small planet, but most of its surface was urban. Broken only by small oceans and areas of parkland, the cities sprawled endlessly out from the spaceport. Silverado and Jimmy squeaked pensively. John chuckled, feeling the lizardsí disappointment that there would be no forests to race through after the past ten daysí confinement to the Jupiter II.
ĎSorry, little one,í John mentally reassured his companion. ĎBut weíll soon be back on Earth....í He ended the sentence with visuals of meadows and forests on his home planet that the lizards would revel in. Silverado crooned with deep pleasure and nestled more quietly on his left shoulder.
"John, be careful," Maureen said, a worried tone in her voice.
The professor turned to his wife and kissed her. "Maureen, we are just going on a shopping trip. Nothing to worry about."
"I have just been feeling something ominous and..." She paused, not knowing quite what to say. "There is something about this planet that isnít quite right. I canít put my finger on it."
"Mo," John said softly. "Weíll be careful. If we didnít need some special items, we wouldnít even have stopped, but a few of the triggering mechanisms and explosive catalysts canít be found on Earth. I had no choice. But I promise, weíll be back by this afternoon, and then weíll be out of here."
"Take a communicator, John," she said, having been only slightly reassured by his words.
"Iíve got the best," he answered and pointed to Silverado. The object of their attention squeaked knowingly. Jimmy joined him.
"Well, letís go, John," Don reminded him.
Walking the short distance to the fast transit system their map had shown them, John couldnít help but feel a bit of the apprehension Maureen had felt. This seemed to be a planet in decay. Urban decay in the greatest sense of the word.
"You know, Maureen has a point, John. This place somehow gives me the creeps. Iíll be glad to get the stuff we need and blow this planet, pun not intended," Don put words to Johnís own thoughts.
A quick trip on the subway system brought them to a store dealing in demolition supplies. The sleepy-eyed storekeeper languidly perused his two customers for several minutes before saying anything. "What is it youíre looking for?" he finally asked.
"We need a thermite space detonator master switch and thorellium catalyst capsules," John stated simply.
"Gotta ask this question. What do you need them for?" the salesman asked. His eyes still looked as though he had barely awakened from a nap, but John knew that he was far from sleepy. The downy-skinned alien stood up, and his full height was just slightly less than Donís. The small mouth looked pouty and there was no evidence of ears, only slight indentations where they would be on a human.
"Self-preservation," John answered tersely. "Is this a government regulation? If so, please show me the form. If not, then itís none of your business." This planet had been recommended as one where such things could be bought and sold with a minimum of red tape and time. John was wondering about that recommendation, now.
"Self-preservation is a good enough reason, sir. I will put that on the form."
"What form?" Don asked.
"Oh, the one that has to be filled out for each purchase of explosives components," the alien told them glibly.
John looked at Don and made a slight motion with his head. Then he looked back to the salesman. "We were sent here because we were assured that these items could be bought on this planet quickly, cheaply and with very little hassle. Now I know what was meant by little hassle." John leaned menacingly over the counter, realizing from the alienís thoughts that he was dealing with a black marketeer.
This salesman obtained the so-called information and passed it along to those who paid for knowledge of clandestine mining operations or government overthrows. And the professor knew that there would be some groups of interstellar privateers who would just love to pick up the pieces after a planetary invasion. At his command, Silverado was silent, but he mentally thanked the little lizard for helping him to get this information from the mind of the devious salesman.
Suddenly, Johnís hand reached out and snatched the front of the clerkís vest, jerking the humanoid toward him. The recently developed muscles held the alien in an iron grip that he couldnít struggle out of. "Look, do you have what we need or donít you? There will be no forms, no questions, and no government interference. You understand that, right?" The sleepy eyes had widened considerably and the startled salesman nodded an affirmative.
"Don, you and Jimmy keep an eye on the door, while we negotiate," John said.
"Sure thing, John." Don nodded and with a slightly amused smile, turned to stand at the doorway.
After that, the downy-skinned alien quickly got the materials ordered and John paid for them with funds left from the sale of the last gemstone. Wereeshen currency was good here, but John figured that any legal, as well as illegal currency was accepted in most of these shops. With a smile, he picked up his package and he and Don left the store.
"So far, so good," Don breathed a sigh of relief as they headed back to the subway. "That was pretty slick. I thought that guy was a weasel, but how much were you able to get on him?"
"Lots of black market activity. Some kind of Mafia type operation where the salesmen get information and then sell it to gangs of privateers who benefit from it," John said tersely.
"Sweet planet," was Donís only comment as they got on the transit heading back to the spaceport. They were beginning to relax when Silverado squeaked in consternation and John saw two aliens pushing through the crowds towards them.
"Watch out, Don, we have company and I donít think theyíre from the mayorís office," John said under his breath. Silently warning Silverado into battle mode, he reached toward his belt where a small hidden knife lay flat against his stomach.
"Humanoids, you will come with us," one of the two aliens hissed menacingly at him, reaching for a weapon in a not-so-well-concealed holster.
"Donít think so, sheriff," Don remarked and gave the alien in front of him a roundhouse punch to the diaphragm. His opponent doubled over. Don finished with a doubled fisted blow to the back of the neck.
John grabbed his attackerís hand before the weapon could be drawn and jerked him close, his knife suddenly pressed against the alienís neck. "All right, who sent you?"
The alien gulped. "The Blevorin Cartel," he answered softly.
"The Cartel must be in big financial trouble to send the likes of you two martial arts wizards," Don cracked.
"Not now, Don," John said. "How many more were sent?"
"There are several near the spaceport."
"Oh, hell," John breathed. He couldnít take a chance of this one communicating with the others. A blow to the back of his head rendered his attacker unconscious, and the two aliens lay together in a silent heap. The other passengers looked mildly curious, but then turned away when it was over. Don reached down and gathered the two aliensí weapons.
John stood quietly for a moment, focusing on sending a message to Maureen or Penny through Silverado. Realizing what his friend was doing, Don quickly put Jimmy on Johnís other shoulder, ordering him as best he could to help Silverado. He didnít know if it would help, but a message had to be sent.
A few minutes later John opened his eyes. "As far as I can tell, they understood me. And thanks, that was a stroke of genius having Jimmy help Silverado. Made it easier." Looking down at the unconscious men, John shook his head and sighed. "I told them to have the ship ready for immediate take-off and not to let down the ramp for anyone but us. Iím very glad that we paid the spaceport fees before our little excursion. Letís get nearer to the door."
Jimmy floated back to Donís shoulder, squeaking in triumph. Silverado rubbed his head under Johnís ear, acting very pleased with himself. Smiling, John nevertheless passed a silent warning to the lizards to watch for any other problems. "Oh, and Don, Max is going to meet us at the entrance of the spaceport."
"I hope he brings those swords, that would be a real show," the pilot said with a chuckle.
"No, I just instructed Maureen to send him; didnít say anything about hardware. I figure that heíll be a bit more protection at our backs," John said with a slight chuckle.
As it was, the robot did bring the two plantiod-crinth. With a sigh, John strapped his on. "A good show is sometimes more effective than a good fight, sir," Max explained. Don made a good show with the two laser pistols sticking in his waistband. And when two shadowy figures detached themselves from the darkness of a building, they immediately found themselves backed up against the plasti-steel wall, the points of the plantiod-crinth threatening their throats.
"You didnít really want to keep us from our appointments, did you, gentlemen?" John asked with a slight smile. The aliensí eyes were very wide and full of fear.
"No," one squeaked. Jimmy flew from Donís shoulder and hovered above a point near another building. Stealthily making his way over to the spot, Don flushed out the third member of the ambush party. With the handles of their weapons, the aliens were rendered unconscious and dragged out of sight between two buildings.
"Letís go, Don. I have a funny feeling that weíll be followed even into space," John sheathed the sword and gathered up the package. As they came into view of the Jupiter II, they were able to see Maureen and Judy in the observation window. The ramp was let down, and soon the men and robot were safely on board.
Glancing at the control panel, Don murmured his appreciation. John opened up communications with the spaceport authorities. "This is the Jupiter II. We are ready for lift off, mark 224.1, in thirty seconds. Do you read me?"
"Jupiter II, we cannot authorize take-off in that space of time. Your window of lift-off is two minutes and counting, on heading 212.6. That is the quickest allotment that we have for you."
"We read you," John answered and turned to Don. The pilot was already loading up the new figures and within a minute the Jupiter II was hovering lightly above its berth. "One minute, John. How close do you want me to skim that time frame?" he asked with a laugh.
"Within a nano-second, Don." Within five minutes the spacecraft was outside the orbit of Idorin. "Jump on the following heading in thirty seconds, Don." John furiously entered figures into the computer. "Do it!" As a large, streamlined space ship approached them, the stars coalesced and blurred into hyper-jump formation.
Five minutes later, they re-entered normal space outside the Idorin system and immediately made another jump, which John had entered as they made their transition. Leaning back with a sigh, he commented, "Well, that should have lost them."
Worried, Maureen asked, "Can they follow us? And what did they want?" John rehashed what he had learned. Her eyes widened in apprehension.
"I donít think that they are able to follow, especially as quickly as we made our transitions," he explained.
"But what about the other places weíve been, like Marador?" Judy asked.
"Iím counting on Marador and Thrambilidon investigating. They donít have the same interests in this upcoming battle as those gangsters back there did. I believe our previous contacts are genuinely interested in helping us," John told them, and he sat back with a satisfied smile.