Help Has a Familiar Face
Havreel cursed his
fate with every step that he took on the slippery snow-covered path.
He cursed his predecessor; he cursed the Guardian, the
Guardian’s family, Mizel, Reezel and everyone else that he felt had
put him in his present circumstances.
As they slogged ever closer to the portal leading back to the
jungle world, he heard a booming sound from above and looked up in fear.
To his surprise a Brumyatta ship was approaching.
It slowed down and then gently landed in a level field near them.
It appeared to be the one that had landed on Valanna.
Steam rose gently from the grass laid bare by melting snow,
making a fog that seemed to etherealize the spacecraft.
The landing ramp
lowered and ubi Biro walked down it toward them.
The Brumyatta secretary did not look very happy.
“Greetings, Captain. How
fortuitous that we found you this easily.”
Frowning, clo Yondah
asked, “Can I assume that there was an emergency on Valanna?”
Forces from Krimlon attacked, but I was able to escape and jump
here using the coordinates that you left.”
“Good. You did well. Now
we will be able to use the star charts and track this Guardian.”
Turning to Purifier, he smiled.
It was not a friendly smile.
“It would seem, Purifier, that you are going to be living on a
Brumyatta space vessel for a time.”
‘Enclosed in a machine
with deviants for an indefinite time? The One protect me,’ he cried mentally.
“No, please. I can concoct a story that will please the king.
And then I can undermine his authority.
Please, Captain, I am not used to living in something like
“Get used to it,
because you are, Purifier,” clo Yondah hissed, leaning close to the
Krimlon. “And don’t
whine, it’s unbecoming for one of your rank.” Turning back to his
men he stated, “We shall
go now. We don’t know how
close the king’s troops are.”
“But, Captain, what
about the other soldiers, the ones left behind at the gates? Shouldn’t we find them?” ubi Biro asked.
“No, they are on
their own, we can’t take the chance of the ship being taken.
We go now,” clo Yondah said and the tone of his voice was one
of finality. Havreel looked
around and suddenly the snow-covered landscape looked very inviting.
they have just hidden in the jungle?” Maureen asked morosely.
“We would have found them by now.”
“I don’t know,
but John had a good reason to continue through the gates, Maureen, or he
would have waited,” Don countered.
He examined the binding on his arm that covered the long knife
cut he had received in the last skirmish against those soldiers trying
to escape from Dar’s troops. To
his chagrin, Dar had barred him from accompanying the soldiers as they
secured the next gate.
‘Those hunting them had the means to find your family.’
The thought came unbidden in their minds, a visual narrative of
the John’s and the children’s sojourn in the jungle world.
‘I do not know how, I just know that it was impossible for John and his
children to stay here,’ the thoughts continued. Maureen saw a clear picture of John in her mind’s eye, as
well as the children, sent by the mysterious telepath.
Her husband and children looked tired and disheveled, but
Maureen looked up and
saw a golden-haired sloth-like creature in the tree, looking down at
them with empathy. The
large round eyes seemed to have endless depths of understanding, like
bottomless pools. ‘I
am Sun Dweller. I met your
mate and your children. They
are resourceful. They will
find a way to return to you.’
“I hope so, Sun
Dweller. And I perceive
that you helped them. Thank
you,” Maureen said.
‘You are quite welcome,’ the alien answered.
Maggie and Jimmy
Doolittle zipped in and around the branches, squeaked at Sun Dweller and
then landed on their friends’ shoulders. ‘Fighting
over. Gate ours.
Can go find John, Will and Penny,’ they said brightly.
‘The next world is very cold. Go
carefully, friends,’ Sun Dweller told them as they got up to
leave. They thanked the
alien again and headed toward the gate.
They met Dar and his
troops at the gate. “Next
time, Dar, I participate, injury or no injury.”
The prince just
shrugged. “We’ll see,
my friend. Right now both
sides of this gate are open to us.
The only problem that I see is the cold.
We will also have to wait until daylight on the next world and
then we move quickly. Hopefully
we’ll be able to find the Guardian and the children.”
Don nodded and helped
the soldiers set up camp. Maureen
supervised the cooking of the meal, hoping it would take her mind off of
the search. It didn’t.
‘John Robinson,’ Talon called.
The humanoid had fallen asleep between his children and what
appeared to be innumerable zanlings.
‘John Robinson!’ Jerking awake, the human blinked sleepily at him and
mumbled something that was not discernable.
‘John Robinson, I have
found humanoid habitation. I
didn’t find humanoids, but the dwelling looked to be well taken care
of. You need to get your children to shelter.’
right, Talon. How far is
this dwelling?” John
‘Perhaps three or four of your miles distant, but the way is not
hard. There are paths that
are dry and appear to be level and smooth,’ Talon reported. John nodded and nudged his son awake. The zanlings squeaked sleepily and beat their wings.
One by one they flew into the morning sky and then into the
forest for breakfast.
Will moaned slightly
and then woke more fully. “What’s
going on, Dad?” Talon
handed him something to eat and he bit into it eagerly, his hunger
aroused by the presence of Talon’s findings.
He still felt unusually tired, but much better than he had
before. His dad opened one
of the juicier fruits and squeezed some of the liquid into Penny’s
mouth. She still looked
flushed and ill. After
swallowing a little of the juice, she fell back to sleep in Dad’s
“Will, we can’t
stay here. Talon found a
place where we will be protected from the weather and where we might
find help. I have to carry
Penny; you’ll have to walk. I’m
sorry, son. I know that you
aren’t completely well yet.”
“I understand, sir.
I’ll be okay.” His dad nodded, slowly stood up, perusing their surroundings,
then picked up Penny. She
groaned slightly but was otherwise lay limply in his arms.
The sun rose and
traveled nonchalantly across the sky while the small group slowly made
their way along the trail. The
distances were short between rests and at times Talon and the zanlings
had to bully the exhausted humans back to their feet.
‘It is not too far distant, John Robinson,’ Talon encouraged.
Nova was squeaking
and pulling at Will’s hair. The
boy just glared at his friend, but still got up.
Silverado was squeaking imperiously and staring into John’s
face. Glancing at his dad and sister, Will was alarmed to see that
even beneath the growth of beard, Dad seemed pale.
“You are a hard
taskmaster, Talon,” John told the bird with a wan smile.
‘I am only trying to get you three to shelter, John Robinson,’ Talon
responded bluntly. He
watched the humanoid closely, seeing signs of progressing weakness.
Concern colored his thoughts and he berated his own weakness.
This humanoid, one of a species of hated races, should only be
the means to his end, but he found himself liking this particular
humanoid and his children. This
one, John Robinson, seemed to take him at face value as a sentient and
intelligent being, instead of thinking of him as a dumb animal.
Perhaps he was different. But
regardless, the humanoid would not be able to help him if he became too
sick to continue and then died out here in the swamp.
“I know, Talon.
I am just trying to be humorous and failing miserably,” was
John’s response. “And
you know, it would be easier and less formal if you just called me
‘Yes, it would, John. But
you never invited me to before.’
John replied. “Touché,
my friend.” His
countenance turned more serious. “You
are sure this place is close, Talon?
I’m getting tired, Talon, and Penny seems to be getting more
feverish.” He sighed
deeply and then began coughing. “And
I believe that she must have elbowed me a few times, because my chest
hurts.... Damn, I am
getting so tired of this,” he said more fervently.
‘We are more than halfway there, John, but we must go on.
You are getting the sickness and soon will be unable to carry
sick, Talon, just tired,” John insisted as he dragged himself to his
feet. “Okay, guys, wake
up Will,” he told the flutter-dragons.
Will moaned and muttered at the lizards, but he, too, got up.
From then on, the group made steady, if slow progress and Talon
noticed that John rested leaning against trees, sitting on boulders, but
never laying his daughter down on the ground.
Whatever caused the human to change his tactics, Talon was
grateful, because in the middle of the afternoon the small building
finally came into view.
“I think it’s a
barn, or something like that,” John commented.
Will tried the door and when it opened they all went in.
Gratefully John placed Penny on a pile of grass-like fodder and
sat down beside her, his arms feeling like lead.
Will lay down nearby and was soon asleep.
“Let me rest a bit, Talon and then....”
Another coughing spell interrupted him and left him gasping.
‘I will try and find some help, John.
You stay here and rest. I
will return soon,’ Talon said, and walking awkwardly out the
narrow door, flapped his powerful wings and was soon airborne. He let the thermal air currents guide him in his quest and
his sharp eyes searched the ground for any sign of humanoids. He saw a male-child, somewhat smaller than the Robinson boy,
fishing in a pond nearby.
‘Boy,’ he called telepathically.
The boy looked around, but then went back to his fishing.
Talon tried again. ‘Hello, boy.’
Then he landed awkwardly, pretending to be hurt, dragging his
wing and crying out pitifully. The boy stared at him with wide eyes and then
approached. The raptor kept
just out of his reach all the while hopping toward the little barn.
Soon he hopped over the threshold of the door and into a dark
corner. The whole room was
becoming dark as the sun slipped toward the horizon.
The boy peered
through the door and looked all around.
Talon was beginning to think that the boy would never notice the
humanoids when John started coughing.
The young humanoid jerked his head in the direction of the sound
and gasped. “Who’s
there,” he called, obviously unable to clearly see John in the
“My children are
sick and need help. Can you
get someone to help us, please?” John said quietly.
husband is a doctor. I’ll
get him now. Wait here,”
the boy said.
“I have no
intention of going anywhere, son,” John commented, coughing spasms
again hitting him. The boy
withdrew and Talon could hear him running away.
“Thanks, Talon,” the professor added.
‘How fortuitous that the first humanoid you meet is able to bring a
doctor,’ Talon quipped. He
hopped over to John and the children.
‘How are the children?’
“Will has no more
fever. Penny has a fever
but is resting quietly,” John answered.
‘That’s good, John.’ Within
an hour Talon heard the sound of an approaching vehicle and then
footsteps, and he withdrew to the dark corner again.
An older man peered
into the room. “Who’s
in here?” he asked in trepidation.
John jerked awake.
Hacking painfully, he answered.
“I have two sick children.”
“It sounds to me as
though you are sick as well,” the older man pointed out acerbically.
He stepped into the building with a lantern and gasped when he
saw the three humans in the corner of the building.
The lantern’s soft glow lit up the room with softly muted light
as he approached and examined Will and then Penny.
“No, the children.
I… I just need to rest,” John corrected, staring at the
doctor, whose face was lit up in an almost demonic glow.
He was confused, feeling as though he were falling back into an
abyss of time.
“Hrumph, just who
is the doctor here?” the voice asked acidly.
Full understanding and recognition finally came. “You are, Dr. Smith,” John said, smiling slightly.