Planet of Freedom
Chapter Six - More Revelations
‘Human, you have a right to be alarmed, but you do not need to broadcast your anxiety to every telepath in the library,’ a voice said in his head. Silverado raised his head and squeaked in alarm. John looked around and finally saw an alien gazing at him with luminescent silver eyes. The alien stood up in graceful fluid movements and approached. The creature somehow reminded him of the sea, the skin a shiny aqua color that seemed to have the texture of a dolphin’s skin.
‘You are correct. I am an amphibious creature. I can only work out of water for short periods of time, which I suppose is why I am a bit concerned with the interruptions,’ the alien explained. John got the impression that this creature was female. ‘Again, you are correct. I am Murreena from the planet ssHreana. I, too, am doing research on another race, but not because my world is going to be invaded.’
"I’m sorry for having disturbed you, Murreena." John said, pulling over another chair for her. "Your name is very close to my wife’s name, therefore I must tell you it’s a lovely one," he added with a smile.
A musical melody floated into his brain. John assumed that it represented laughter. "I suppose that I should send my companion back to my ship; he seems to serve as a conduit to my thoughts and emotions. He doesn’t like being parted from me and I really don’t know how to keep my thoughts from someone as wholly telepathic as you," John explained apologetically.
‘Your companion was not here earlier today during my first visit and I was still able to feel your emotions. Human, you apparently have a small latent ability that these little creatures have been able to heighten,’ she told him, the musical telepathic laughter whispering through his mind once again. The shock must have registered easily on his face as well as in his mind.
John was surprised, but thought back to various times when his ability to sense the emotions of others occurred at a time the flutter-dragons were nowhere around them. He just looked at Murreena for a moment, not knowing what to say. Finally, "My name is John Robinson, and my family and I are part of an exploratory and colonization project from Earth."
‘Yes, the Earth that is soon to be invaded. I felt that very clearly. But may I suggest, John Robinson that you learn to shield your thoughts from others when there is no need for anyone else to ‘hear’ you? And the same process will protect you from the intense emotional outpouring of a race such as the Graxod. I have been here for over a week of your time and was around one of that race. Their emotions would have been overwhelming had I not been able to block them out.’
John decided to try direct communication on Murreena’s level. ‘Just call me John. Are you understanding me?’
The musical melody floated through his head again. ‘Of course, John.’
‘What do I need to do to accomplish this shielding?’ he asked.
‘I am a teacher among my people as you are among yours,’ she told him. ‘I can show you a little bit, but I have submitted a disk, which you are free to copy, created for young ones just beginning in their telepathic abilities. That way, not only do you benefit, but also the rest of your family, especially the daughter named Penny.’
‘Thank you, Murreena, I really appreciate your help,’ John said.
‘Focus only on understanding what I am projecting to you, John,’ she began. He did his best to block out everything else around him, as well as stray thoughts. ‘Good. Now picture in your mind a wall, shield or some kind of barrier. Picture it as real, tangible, enveloping your mind. Close your eyes if it helps you. Do that and then I will see if I can feel your thoughts anymore.’
She was silent for a moment as John tried to follow her instructions. After a short while, he opened his eyes and noticed her smiling. ‘Very good, John. I was still able to feel a few things, but it was much more difficult. Practice that, it is so simple. Now do the same thing and I will try to send my thoughts and emotions to you.’
Again, John tried to focus all of his energy into building the mental barrier, but still was able to feel Murreena’s flowing pictures of a pristine and beautiful ocean world. Shaking his head, he looked at her sadly. ‘Afraid I wasn’t as successful this time.’
‘Did you see my people?’ she asked. John shook his head, no. ‘Then you partially succeeded. Keep practicing. It becomes easier.’
‘Thank you very much, Murreena. And I hope someday to visit your beautiful world. What I saw was very lovely,’ John told her.
‘John Robinson, from what I have been able to learn from here and from your thoughts, the future is full of danger. I wish to invoke the blessings of deity on your endeavor.’
‘Again, thank you, Murreena, but why haven’t the star faring peoples formed a coalition against the Graxod. They seem very blatant in their conquest,’ John queried.
‘The Graxod have apparently been very careful to avoid invading other star faring peoples and have only made war against those in more outlying areas of the galaxy. That makes it more difficult to bring action against them until it is too late. Perhaps apathy is also a part of it,’ she told him sadly. ‘I will bring up your question in our planetary council when I return to my world tomorrow.’
‘You are most kind, and may the Almighty watch over you as well,’ he thought as she turned away. Then a strange idea crossed his mind. ‘Murreena, if you can block others’ thoughts, why didn’t you do that with me?’
She turned back to him. ‘You interested me, John. And your quest is just. That intrigued me as well. I was also curious about your companion. They are most mysterious, these K’rrt’rm. They appeared suddenly, a few hundred years ago, and then they began dying out. No one has been able to determine where they came from or how they got there, because they did not appear to be a star faring race.’
‘I was never totally clear where they came from nor why they died out. My daughter mentioned that the last one said something about a decay due to apathy and lack of creative endeavor,’ John ventured.
‘I had not heard of that theory. For the most part, K’rrt’rm was left alone and not visited but seldom, and only by those wanting to find out more about the masters and these lovely little companions of theirs.’ Silverado squeaked in deep pleasure at her praise.
‘You’re right. Iit is most mysterious. The nine that are traveling on our ship bonded with us and have been inseparable ever since,’ he explained.
‘You are most fortunate, then, John, because I sense that they have some kind of importance. How or for what, I cannot tell, but keep them close and again, may your quest have a successful end.’ She turned and left the building.
John turned and worked on the disks some more, occasionally trying to put Murreena’s lesson into practice. It was hard to concentrate on the disk and that, too, but he felt it coming a bit easier after awhile. At least he thought so; it would be hard to know unless he came across another telepath. After a number of hours, Silverado curled his tail around John’s neck and fell asleep on his shoulder.
A few more hours passed and John felt he had become glued to the chair. He was so stiff he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to pry himself off of it. Suddenly, he felt the presence of Maureen behind him and sat up straighter. She massaged his neck where she could, slowly lifting the lizard’s tail away. "Thanks, I really needed that, Mo," he said in deep satisfaction.
"John, it’s almost morning; have you been doing this all night?" she asked.
"Yes, I have finished pulling up everything that I need on the Graxod. I now need to copy a disk that a telepath suggested we use to help us learn to block our thoughts from bothering other telepaths," he told her. She looked at him curiously. "I was told that we are latent telepaths and we need to be able to block unwanted thoughts from others as well as keeping our own thoughts to ourselves. Murreena showed me a bit of this shielding method, but also gave me the name of a disk that she made for the library," he explained.
"We are?" she asked incredulously.
John nodded. "She told me that the lizards have heightened that ability in us."
Soon John had the disk copied, and he stiffly rose from the chair. "Never will I gripe about the chairs on the Jupiter II again. These are torture devices." Using one of the smaller gemstones from Karturm, he paid for the copies and they left the library. Somehow, a set value for the raw jewel had been determined and he had a great deal of the local currency rubbing together in his pocket.
"There’s something I want to look for on the way back to the ship, dear. You don’t mind, do you?" he asked. Maureen shook her head, and so they made their way into the commercial part of the city.
John had purchased translators, owing to the fact that they were so small and seemed to be universal. Several inquiries brought him to a part of the city that specialized in weaponry. Several more inquiries brought him to a block of stores that carried ceremonial armaments.
"What in the world are you looking for, John?" Maureen asked perplexed.
Silverado squeaked an alarm, and John grabbed a hand that had been stealthily slipping its way into his pocket. A little tighter squeeze on the wrist of the thief brought a sharp cry and the opening of the six thin fingers. One of the computer disks clattered to the ground. "My friend, you need to pass the word to your fellow thieves that I have a guard that will allow no one to take anything from me. Or would it be better to find a local law enforcement official?"
The gaunt looking pickpocket gave John a panic-stricken stare and shook his head. Maureen picked up the disk and slipped it into her pocket. John released the thief, who promptly scuttled away into the shadows like a spider whose web had been disturbed. Silverado squeaked triumphantly. "Yes, you did quite well," John told the lizard.
Checking his pockets, John saw that nothing else was missing. "He was quite good. I’m glad I had Silverado here tonight," John stated. "I would say that Wereeshen isn’t a totally utopian place."
Turning to a storekeeper, standing just outside his establishment, who was at least a foot shorter than himself and covered with rolls of loose downy, blueish skin, John said. "I need a ‘womgrantiod’ saber." The proprietor looked at him in surprise. "Graxod; you know, a ceremonial sword." They all moved inside the store.
"Yes, yes, sir. I know to what you are referring, sir. I just have very few inquiries for those and I have so few. You want something to hang on your wall, sir?" the clerk asked placatingly. The humanoid kept glancing back and forth between him and Maureen, the eyes never stopping long enough to look steadily into his own. It was disconcerting. Calling silently on Silverado’s help, John was able to pick up a few thoughts, most dealing with how much profit was going to be made from this sale to the strange and naive looking humanoids.
"No, I want something sturdy enough to use. Practice with. I need to get back in shape," he said in explanation.
The salesman brought out a long case and opened it. On the velvet lining, John saw three very deadly looking swords which resembled sabers of Earth, only these were slightly longer and a bit heavier. The hilts were plainer than the blades, with small guards and very utilitarian handles. The blades were etched with various symbols and designs.
Picking one up, John moved to a slightly open part of the store and assuming a fighting stance, made a few advances and thrusts, testing the weight and feel of the blade. He also did the same with each of the other two. "I will take these two," he said laying his choices to one side. "How much?" he asked. The clerk quoted him a price. John narrowed his eyes and glared menacingly at the man, his hand resting on one of the sword hilts.
The folds of loose skin under the proprietor’s chin wobbled, as he gulped nervously. His eyes finally met John’s before glancing down and seeing his prospective buyer’s hand clasped around the handle of one of the deadly weapons. "Oh, but I could have quoted the wrong price, sir. Let me look again," the anxious salesman stammered. "Oh, yes, the price I quoted was before the sale that I began running yesterday. I am so sorry. Twenty sallentres each."
John rubbed his chin, while Silverado continued to glare at the man. "Forty-five sallentres for both, with a scabbard thrown in for this one," he said with an air of finality. He held up the one he had been grasping. The dim light gleamed off the blade of the saber, making it appear even more sinister.
The salesman gulped again and nodded his acceptance of the deal. Quickly he bent under the counter and pulled out a box with several scabbards. John picked one and slid the sword in it. The blade slid in smoothly, and testing it, he felt it draw just as smoothly. Laying the agreed upon amount on the counter, John added two more sallentres to the pile and requested one of the boxes. Soon he and Maureen were leaving the store, John with a long box under his arm and Maureen with more questions than answers.
"I have never seen you haggle like that. You almost scared me, John," she said, looking askance at him. John had a grin on his face. He was obviously pleased with his success.
"Never felt the need to, but something about the man just didn’t seem right, and with Silverado’s help, I was able to determine that he had almost doubled the proper asking price," John explained. Leaning over, he kissed Maureen on the forehead. "I didn’t mean to frighten you, dear. One more thing and we’ll return to the ship, refuel and take off."
"You never answered my original question, John."
"What are you looking for? Or rather, I should say, what is all of this for? Maureen asked.
"Oh. That question," John said, somewhat reluctantly. "Maureen, I found out quite a bit about the Graxod." He shook his head and sighed. "Much more than I really wanted to, but the point is I saw several possible ways to deter or defeat them and I’m going to prepare to use any or all of them if I need to."
Maureen wasn’t satisfied. "What is that ceremonial thing you mentioned, the womgran....something or other?
"Apparently it’s a contest between two high ranking officials which determines leadership. The winner is made the leader."
"And the loser?" Maureen felt she had to ask, but really wasn’t sure she wanted to.
"The loser loses rank apparently," John said cryptically, feeling a bit guilty for misleading her but knowing that he couldn’t tell her the exact truth.
Maureen tried to feel some emotional clues from her husband but was unable to, and she wondered if she was just being paranoid.
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