The Show Must Go On
‘You’re gaping, John,’ Talon smirked.
John realized he had
been staring at Gilbrolin in astonishment.
He mentally shook himself. “You
want me to do what?” he asked the alien.
“I want you to be the performance coordinator. To announce the program and the acts,” Gilbrolen calmly repeated. The Brooolaren seemed to be enjoying John’s reaction. Contrary to everyone’s opinion, the captain had not been annoyed with John’s comments about the orantis, but had appeared genuinely glad to see the professor. Now, after a full day of rest, John was ready for the bombshell that Gilbrolen had just dropped on him.
“Because we are
visiting markets in quadrant 35 and most of the planets in that area are
inhabited by humanoids of Krilig stock,” Gilbrolen explained.
John looked puzzled. “You
are familiar with Krimlon, Krelison, or Krungen?”
“I have heard of
Krimlon,” John answered vaguely.
He was still assimilating the fact that Gilbrolen wanted him to
be a ringmaster. During
his college teaching days he had joked that he felt like one, but this
“We are visiting all of those planets and the people on all of them come from the same roots; the Krilig. I am not surprised that you have heard of Krimlon. An interesting little legend has filtered down from the planet and we’re going to take advantage of it.”
John was only
partially hearing Gilbrolen’s explanation, silently rejoicing at the
news that Krimlon was on the itinerary of The
Great Galactic Wonder.
“You, my dear
professor, are going to become a legend,” Gilbrolen announced
dramatically, pausing to wait for John’s reaction.
It took a moment for
the news to sink in. When
it did, John did a double-take. He
had a sinking feeling he knew what was coming.
“What legend?” he asked anyway, pretending ignorance.
“Why that of the
Guardian. Haven’t you
heard of it?”
“Yes, I have,” John answered nonchalantly.
“You meet all of
the criteria, except for the paranormal skills.” Gilbrolen was almost
crowing with pride.
realized there was no argument he could give to get out of this
assignment. The Brooolaren
misunderstood his momentary silence.
“You said you were
a teacher of the young, didn’t you?
This assignment shouldn’t be difficult for you.
Just consider it an extra large class,” Gilbrolen said, his
little black eyes glittering, his guttural laugh echoing throughout the
thought burst in his mind, with surprise uppermost.
the Guardian, aren’t you? I
didn’t make the connection until now,’ the raptor commented.
‘That’s what they told me on Krimlon,’ John answered.
Looking toward the captain, he said aloud, “I didn’t think
Krimlon was visited by space ships.”
developments changed that, apparently.
A contact told me that the government seems to be much more
tolerant, so I had my agent arrange a visit. I have a one week contract
to perform at the capital city. We’ll
have to feel out how we use this Guardian legend there, though.
Probably they’re a bit more serious about it than the residents
of the other planets,” Gilbrolen explained.
Captain. How long do I have
to prepare before the first performance?”
What I want you to do this afternoon is simply watch the
rehearsals and get a feel for what’s in the show.
I want your zanling to get used to the other animals.
You also seem to have the Weerlorin well trained and you handled
the orantis well. I would
like your entrance to include something exciting using both animals.”
Gilbrolen’s whole countenance was that of excitement, much like
a child who has been given a hundred dollars to spend in a candy store.
Talon sat quietly,
but his thoughts were anything but quiet.
‘That pompous windbag.
That overstuffed mind-deaf little humanoid....’
‘Enough, Talon,’ John told him calmly. To Gilbrolen, “You
seriously want me to handle the orantis, after what happened the day
“You already told
me how to deal with an orantis as far as feeding it.
See what you can do to train it.
That creature was so irascible I was ready to dump it out of an
airlock. It wasn’t even
tractable enough to put in the zoo, but it seemed to understand you,
professor,” Gilbrolen said, a slight edge to his voice.
“I was lucky.
I’ll try, but I can promise nothing as far as the orantis is
concerned. I’m sure I can
figure out something with the Weerlorin and the zanlings.”
“Good, good, I’ll be looking forward to your debut, professor,” Gilbrolen said in way of a dismissal.
Dr. Smith sighed.
Despite all of his most careful preparations, he and Imothera had
brought the anot on board the Jupiter II and now they were not only dealing with
three sick adults, but also a very active and vocal five month old baby.
“The baby requires
your attention, Dr. Smith,” the Robot intoned.
“I am well aware of
that, you irritating and irascible bucket of bolts,” he snapped.
“Oh, my, I have never had to deal with babies before.
Why now? Why me?”
he asked, looking heavenward. Sighing,
he walked over to the child’s playpen and looked in.
The baby’s pet zanling chirped soothingly next to the child’s
ear, but it didn’t seem to have any effect.
Looking up, the creature squeaked in bewilderment.
“I totally agree, my friend.
I have not the slightest idea of what he wants either.
If only his mother wasn’t sick, she could take care of him.”
“Well, she is sick,
but she’s awake enough to feed the baby.
That’s what’s wrong with the poor dear, Zachary,” Imothera
said as she whisked into the room, snatched up little Mark and bustled
out again, waving tiredly to him as she disappeared down the elevator.
murmured to himself. “Judy
is sick, Major West is sick, Mrs. Robinson is sick, but the baby is not. The baby is not! Oh,
dear. There has to be a
reason. It’s been two
days and the baby should have gotten the anot
by now.” Excitement
brightened his eyes as he realized that he might be onto something
Several days later,
finally feeling well enough to emerge from her cabin, Maureen made her
way to the galley where she found the area littered with scientific
equipment. She looked
around in dismay. Clearing
enough room, she made a cup of coffee and was sitting in the only empty
chair drinking it. “Dr.
Smith, may I ask what you are doing?”
“Madam, I am on the
verge of a great discovery.”
She couldn’t help
it; she snickered lightly. “And
what discovery is that?”
“Laugh at genius
all you wish, but I think I have isolated the microscopic carrier of the
anot,” he said in triumph. “It’s
not a virus, but something similar to it.
Unlike a virus, the anot can live in the very air you breathe.
When it finds a host, it explodes into activity, causing the
immune system in a humanoid body to go haywire for a short time.
Eventually the host builds up a special immunity and the anot
is never again a problem to that individual.
I was able to do blood comparisons, since the baby never
contracted the illness. I
had been able to study blood samples before, but never from one who had
Despite her fatigue
and previous doubts, Maureen was impressed.
“Does that mean you can develop an antidote?”
“At the very least,
a serum that will keep a humanoid from automatically contracting the
disease. And because the
pseudo-virus needs hosts to recreate itself, if the serum is effective
then eventually the disease would become extinct.”
“Why was Mark
immune?” Maureen asked, curious.
“I’m not totally
sure, Mrs. Robinson, but I cannot help but think that there have been
slight mutations. In other
words, your grandson is a child of space,” Smith declared.
“You are looking
much better,” Imothera told her, walking in on the pair.
“I just checked on Maj. West and he is still feverish, but
better than yesterday.”
disposition will improve as well,” Smith quipped.
Imothera chided. “Judy’s
fever has broken, she, too, should be feeling much better soon.”
Maureen just nodded,
thankful for the quick recovery they seemed to be experiencing. “Imothera, where should we go to meet The Great Galactic Wonder?” she asked.
“Well, this is a
guess and you don’t have to follow up on it, but the official
itinerary said that they would be performing in Frilonx in a bit more
than two weeks. Knowing
Gilbrolen as I do, he will make several short stops between Anoxis and
Frilonx. I would think Corinnlis or Leeibor are the most logical
planets. They were always lucrative in the past.”
“Then we’ll check
them out. Where are we
headed to right now?” Maureen
asked, unable to remember what had been decided before she had
contracted the sickness.
said. “We can check there
and then get the coordinates for the other planets before we leave.” Again Maureen nodded.
Penny stood at the
observation window looking at the ebb and flow of coalescing hyperspace
activity outside. She
sighed and then felt Jeris move closer to her.
Lucy squeaked in amusement and flew off, chirping to the others. Edmund, Susan and Peter joined her, winging gracefully toward
disconcerting, but still beautiful,” he said quietly, sliding his arm
around her waist. “You
She turned to look at
him, at the same time sliding away from his arm.
The speed with which he had become familiar with her bothered her
somewhat. They had eaten
together in the cafeteria, away from the rest of the crew, and Penny had
to admit that Jeris was fun to be around.
Even though his life had been tough, he had a way of relating his
experiences so they weren’t overwhelmingly sad or depressing.
He had a way of making listeners feel they were experiencing the
Jeris stopped and asked about her life, but she didn’t tell him much
about Earth, feeling her life had been drab compared to his.
Mostly she told him about Priplanus and their search for Alpha
“Why did you say I
was disconcerting?” she asked, slightly annoyed.
“You are a strong
telepath, but most of the time you act as though it’s new to you. And you are
beautiful, you know,” he said, grinning.
because it is new to me. I’ve only had this ability for about a year now,” Penny
said, laughing and ignoring his comment about her being beautiful.
just stared at her for a moment. “Are
you serious?” he finally asked.
explained, “It’s the influence of the zanlings.
As soon as I bonded with mine, I started feeling the telepathic
abilities develop, although I had slight abilities before we landed on
“I am impressed.”
He reached up to touch her cheek and Penny noticed for the first
time, how slender and elegant his hand was.
Then she looked into his blue-green eyes and saw the depth of his
passion. His passion for
the animals with which he worked, passion for the cause that he
supported and his passion for life and his desire to live it fully.
And she saw that she was being included in that passion as well.
She felt his sincerity, but couldn’t bring herself to move as
fast as he apparently wanted to.
“Jeris, you don’t
waste any time do you?” she said, half teasingly, half seriously.
“Life changes too
rapidly to wait around, but I sense you don’t feel the same way,” he
said softly. Jeris looked
into her large hazel eyes and saw an inner beauty to match what he saw
on the outside. He had
never met a girl like Penny Sims; no, Penny Robinson, he corrected
himself. Then he wondered
what she had gotten herself into that her father felt the need to use an
alias. He was able to pick
some things out of her mind, but not everything.
A twinge of guilt gnawed at him, reminding him that one didn’t
pry into the mind of a friend.
“No, Mom and Dad
told me that good things are worth waiting for, but sometimes I feel the
same way you do. I...I just
don’t want to...uh...”
“Get too close, too
fast?” Jeris asked.
“Yes. I’m not sixteen yet, either.”
Jeris just reached over and took her hand, holding it while they looked out of the view port. Then he began to show her images of the beauties of his home world. He heard her gasp in amazement, but she didn’t say anything.