Beauty that Tamed the Beast
Imothera Smith gave her husband’s patient and former shipmate the last of the soup she had made earlier in the day and then watched him as he continued to stare at her and talk to her. She had figured out the first time she had cared for him that he was only semi-conscious. While appearing to be aware of her, Imothera realized that he was in actuality looking at her, but seeing someone else. And he had talked incessantly to her, which surprised her, considering the problem with his lungs. When she had asked her husband about that phenomenon, he simply told her it was most likely a combination of the medicines and the sickness.
But whatever the reason, it kept him breathing deeply and coughing often, which was helping to clear his chest. When Zachary had first brought the Robinsons to their home, he had become suddenly reticent to talk about his past experiences, even more reluctant than he had been before. But taking care of the sick Robinson patriarch had made her think about the process of falling in love with one who had carried so much emotional baggage with him for so long.
Imothera had been able to talk a great deal to young William, who had immediately noticed a difference in his old friend. The boy was sitting with his father the morning after their arrival when she came in with some breakfast for both. The professor’s fever was still quite high and he drank only a little juice before lapsing back into a troubled sleep.
“Mrs. Smith, how did you meet Dr. Smith? That is, if it’s okay to ask that kind of a question,” Will asked.
“Of course, it’s okay. I met Zachary on a rather large carnival ship.” She glanced up at the two zanlings perched on the headboard, watching her, seemingly in the attitude of listening. William gave her a questioning look. “Zachary said that it was like a traveling circus, going from one planet to another. He had been assigned there as a sentence for theft on Brooolaren.”
“Yes, something to
eat. They are very strict
about their laws on Brooolaren. Zachary
was caught and sentenced to hard labor.
Gilbrolen, the captain of the ship, bought the rights to carry
out the sentence. The
captain was desperate for extra hands to take care of the animals.
Zachary was very despondent when I met him and I felt sorry for
him. So I began talking to
him and we became friends.”
Imothera thought back
to the time when he had been desperate for a friend.
Anyone who would speak to him with kindness became a lifeline for
him. She was the only one
at that time who was willing to see past his bellicosity.
After she had become close to Zachary and he had told her details
of his past, Imothera had determined that if she had known him even a
year previous, she would never have consented to marry him. But seven
months worth of hardships and loneliness had made him much more amenable
to an honest friendship.
“And then a strange
and deadly sickness was brought on board by one of our customers. My two
children were stricken with it first, and that was when Zachary told me
that he had received training as a doctor.
I was beside myself with worry, but he stayed with them and
studied the sickness and finally discovered the means to halt its
progression. That was a
hard time, but helping others seemed to bring him even more out of his
self-centered shell. The
captain was so grateful that he declared the sentence served and made
Zachary a full-fledged member of the crew.”
“Mrs. Smith, I have
only met your son, Jaanor,” Will said quietly.
He was almost afraid of the answer.
“My daughter died
before the cure was discovered. Zachary was sick with grief.
He had become quite close to both Jaanor and Welleena, and at
first he blamed himself for her death.
We helped each other a great deal during that time.
That was when we decided that we were more than friends.
We married on board the ship and decided to settle here on Anoxis.
Zachary has been working for the government, trying to discover
the cause of the anot, the sickness that you all have had.”
“I’m sorry about
your daughter, ma’am,” Will said sadly.
He turned to his dad and watched him for a moment with troubled
father will be all right. The
anot is not deadly and Zachary tells me that the complications have been
caught in time. In a few
days, he will be feeling much better,” Imothera comforted the boy.
Will sighed and kept
his thoughts to himself. Nova
flew over and rubbed him under the chin, chirping in a consoling manner. “Thank you, Nova.”
“Do you really
communicate with them?” Imothera
asked Will, her blue eyes wide in awe.
“Yes, Penny is a
very good telepath. Dad is
pretty good, too. I can
communicate telepathically, too, but not as well as Penny or Dad,”
Will told her.
your...uh, friends to please go out late at night or in the pre-dawn
hours of the morning to feed. I
have already had to tell passersby that you are all former associates of
ours from the carnival ship and that these are trained animals,”
Imothera explained. “Telepathy and these kind of animals are looked upon with
suspicion and fear.” Silverado
squeaked indignantly. “And
the Weerlorin needs to be warned as well, although I have a sneaking
suspicion that he already knows the danger.”
suddenly realized what Mrs. Smith was talking about.
“Oh, you mean Talon. I’ll
warn him, but he is already suspicious of most humanoids.”
By the end of the
second day, the professor’s fever was beginning to ease.
Imothera had just finished shaving him when her husband entered
“You are going to
turn out to be a good nurse, my dear,” Zachary declared from the
Zachary. I seem to have
been getting much practice since I married you,” she said with humor.
“And by the way, you didn’t tell me that your former
associate was so handsome.”
Clearing his throat
indignantly, Smith frowned. “Oh,
please, Imothera, spare me.”
Zachary, you aren’t jealous, are you?” she asked mischievously.
“Of course not!
Besides, Prof. Robinson is married and quite happy with the
situation,” he retorted and then looked carefully at her.
His wife chuckled at his discomfiture.
“I truly wish, my dear, that you would warn me when you are
going to, as they say, pull my leg,” he huffed.
“Zachary, I learned
the fine art of repartee from a master.
I know to whom I am loyal and who I love, but I am not blind.” The only flaws she could discern was the professor’s height
and the shape of his ears, but those were minor.
After he had finished his examination, she put her arms around
her grumpy husband and hugged and kissed him.
“You are a grouch, but I will keep you.”
He smiled slightly.
“I suppose I have been rather grouchy lately.”
“Yes, you have,
Zachary. What is it about
the return of some of your shipmates that has you bothered?” she
asked, figuring that she already knew the answer.
“I’m also a
psychiatrist and I’m not sure myself, but I do know that when the
professor is feeling better, he and I are going to have to talk.”
Imothera nodded as he
left. She stayed and waited
for the professor to awaken enough to eat the dinner that Jaanor had
brought in. Soon he opened
his eyes and gazed at her. As
before the hazel eyes were seeing someone and somewhere else, but he
still ate the dinner with great relish.
She was pleased to see his appetite returning.
She also noticed that his cough was less severe.
Reaching behind him, she fixed his pillows to allow him to sit up
whispered hoarsely and reaching up with one hand, pulled her head toward
him and kissed her soundly and passionately.
Then he murmured lovingly, “I’m so glad that you’re
jerked back and stared at him. He
looked slightly puzzled, but soon fell back to sleep.
She wasn’t sure what had surprised her more, the very
passionate kiss or him calling her by the nickname that her long dead
father had used so many years before.
She, too, figured that she needed to talk to the professor when
he was more lucid. Still
slightly shaken, she gathered up the dishes, and putting them on the
tray, started from the room.
Professor Robinson asked softly from behind her.
Imothera turned back and watched the hopeful expression change,
and she realized that he now recognized her as a stranger.
Trying to clear his throat, he said, “I thought you were
someone else.” His voice
was tight with laryngitis and she had to listen carefully to understand
“I am Imothera
Smith,” she told him. “My
husband and I have been taking care of you for the past two days.”
The silver zanling
squeaked in amusement from the headboard and the professor suddenly
blushed. “I was
dreaming I was with my wife. Did
I really kiss you?” he asked.
“Yes, you did.”
Imothera suddenly saw the humor in the situation and began
laughing. “And I truly
wish you could teach my husband how to kiss like that.
I believe he wants to be passionate, but the poor dear has had so
little practice. You
apparently have.” She
laughed again at his growing consternation.
“Please, though, Zachary still has low enough self-esteem that
I believe we need to keep this between ourselves.”
He nodded and smiled
as he, too, caught the irony of what he had done.
Then he leaned back wearily.
“My children?” he asked softly.
“They are fine.
William is totally well and has been catching up on old times
with Zachary as well as becoming friends with Jaanor, my son.
And Penny is close to full recovery.
By the way, why did you call me Mo?
I haven’t been called by that nickname since I was a child.”
The professor stared at her in surprise. “That is a very private nickname that I called my wife when we were in college together. I still do occasionally. Now all I need to do is find a way to reunite the family,” he whispered wearily.
Judy studied the
navigational disk with the robot. “Have
you copied those navigational charts?”
“Now if we only
knew which of these planets had gates,” she said.
“But we do, Mrs.
West. There is a record of
planets and questing gates in the hard drive of the Brooolaren ship. Given a little time I believe I can determine which planets
the others have gone to,” the Robot told her.
“How much time do
you need?” she asked.
“An hour at the
most,” he answered.
“Good, then maybe
we can go and meet Don. An
extra ship might be an asset for them, especially if the Brumyatta have
done the same thing,” she mused.
It actually took the
Robot forty-five and a half minutes.
“Mrs. West, there are two gates questing from this one. According to the prisoners, the mountain world of Zaphr is
the one the professor and the children took.
The world which is connected to it is Creon.”
“Do you think that
they went beyond Zaphr, Robot?” she asked.
Mark chortled happily in his baby chair, alternately reaching for
his toys and watching his little zanling flying loop-de-loops above his
“I believe that the
professor would most likely have gone on to Creon.
If he could have hidden on the first planet, he would have come
back through the gate to this planet. I could give you the statistics to
back up that supposition, if you wish.”
“No, Robot, I think
you’re probably right,” she said quickly.
“Let’s see what kind of hyper-drive this ship has.
Can we pilot it alone?”
I can make many of the proper settings in advance, which will
automatically be activated when we take off.”
“Then let’s do
it,” she told him tersely.
Don was surprised to
see a second spacecraft come in for a landing only an hour after the
other one had left. Mrindren
smiled a feral smile, so the pilot figured that the arrival of the ship
couldn’t bode well for them. “Dar,
these may very well be enemies. We
need to be ready,” he warned, motioning towards the Brumyatta
technician. Dar nodded. They
all watched from behind whatever cover was available, but no one was
more surprised than Don when the ramp opened from the spider-like craft
and Max walked down the ramp.
Standing up slightly,
Don called out, “Max, it’s Major West.
up toward his position, Max called out several predetermined phrases.
Don answered with predetermined answers and was pleased when Judy and
Litha walked down the ramp behind the robot, laser pistols in readiness.
Embracing his wife,
Don murmured in her ear. “How
did you manage to pull off the theft of an interstellar craft,
“We just put on the
Purifier’s clothes and walked up to the ramp.
Then we made the Brooolaren an offer they couldn’t refuse. They cooperated with us when we told them we would give them
back their spaceship when we were done with it.
Otherwise, no one would get to have it.”
Don laughed and embraced his wife again. “You are a wonder, ma Cherie!”