Nightmare Journey

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty

The Dirty Little Plot

 

 

Marrin paced back and forth in his enclosure, his long fingers pulling incessantly on the strands of cheek fur, his violet eyes staring beyond the walls.  Stopping in front of Jeris, he glared at the young man.  In less than two weeks, John Robinson has made friends with almost everyone on this ship.   He doesn’t even have to preach his non-violent drivel, they stop and ask him about it.  ‘Shows to awaken the consciousness of the mind-deaf!’  I cannot believe this idiocy.  Some of them actually believe him to be the Guardian of Krilig legend.  Now I have several of the gifted coming to me each day wanting out of the Day of Liberation plans.  Somehow we have to make sure the professor does not interfere in its execution.  The kidnapping of the Most Worthy’s family will be the impetus to establishing equality.  I can only be glad there is a large group on Frilonx backing me.’  Marrin paused and looked carefully at Jeris.  You are still with me, are you not?’ 

“Yes, Marrin, too long has there been persecution and hatred,” the boy said, but he was still troubled. 

 

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“It’s exciting, isn’t it, Jeris?” Penny said breathlessly as she tried on a simple but striking violet-hued costume.  Her lizards floated languidly above her head, squeaking encouragement. 

“Yes, it is.  I had wondered when you might be able to showcase your zanlings.   Very few people have one much less four,” he said.  “You are very beautiful, Penny Robinson,” he added softly, noting how the costume accentuated her figure.  That was one thing that Gilbrolen did well, put his performers in the best light. 

She blushed.  “Jeris.”

“Leave your hair down.  The lights will shine on it perfectly,” he said.   

“Okay,” she said brightly, instructing her friends to practice their routine.  They did so flawlessly.

“You need to have voice or hand signals.   If you do it telepathically, you will raise suspicions,” he said.  She nodded and gave verbal instructions to her group.  “Much better,” he noted when they were done.  “Penny, do you know the legend of the Guardian?” he asked suddenly.

“Of course I do, we were on Krimlon.  Dad is the Guardian, as far as the Krimlon people are concerned.   There has been at least a partial reconciliation because of him,” she said proudly as she looked in the mirror.  Then she noticed Jeris’ stricken look in the reflection and walked over and sat down next to him. “What’s wrong Jeris?”

“I kept telling myself that it was just a coincidence, that your dad is just someone who fit the description....” Jeris let his voice trail off.

“Silly, he’s still my dad and I think he likes you, but he’s also a worry wart when it comes to us kids,” she said, laughing lightly. 

“Uh, I have to go, Penny.  Tonight after the performance we’re taking off for Frilonx.  Stay close to your dad when we get there,” he said vaguely and walked away, leaving Penny wondering what had changed his mood. 

 

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Maureen looked in frustration at the communications panel.  Another planetary dead end. Turning to Imothera, she stated, “Let’s just go to Frilonx.  We do know that they will be there eventually and at this point that’s all that matters.” 

“I believe you’re right, Maureen.  This is an area that Gilbrolen didn’t go to very often and I was trying to second-guess his intentions.  I’m sorry to have steered you wrong.”

“I know you were trying.  I don’t blame you.  It’s unbelievable that records are so lax,” Maureen muttered in exasperation. 

“You have to understand how these carnivals work.  There are many in competition with each other and they have to be flexible to compete.  They usually have agents contact the different worlds to see which one has not had a carnival recently and which market seems the most lucrative.   Planets like Frilonx, which is mainly a vacation site for the rich and influential, have to be contacted well in advance.  So that is why we know about Frilonx, but not about the others,” Imothera explained. 

“I really understand, Imothera, it’s just that there have been so many disappointments in the past month.  I am just glad this waiting is about to end,” Maureen said with a sigh. 

Five days later the Jupiter II made the transition out of hyperspace.  “Frilonx Spaceport, This is Major Don West, second in command of the Jupiter II, requesting permission to land,” Don said.        

“Major West, state your purpose here,” a voice returned. 

“We are here to negotiate with Gilbrolin, the captain of the carnival ship, The Great Galactic Wonder.  We have zanlings,” Don replied, listening to Jimmy Doolittle’s grumbling from his shoulder. 

“Captain Gilbrolin’s ship is not due for another four days, Jupiter II.”

“We wish to have time to prepare our sales presentation, Spaceport,” Don said tersely.  He was beginning to tire of this charade and just wanted to land.  “Do we have permission or do we wait outside of orbit for The Great Galactic Wonder to show up and then talk to the captain there?”

“You may land in berth 24D.  Our guidance computer will link to your computer to guide you to the right spot,” the voice said quickly after only a short hesitation.  As Don was making the connections, he chuckled.  “I thought that would do it.  They don’t want to lose any revenue from these flatland tourists while we’re waiting for Captain Gilbrolen to show up.”

Four days later the Jupiter II crew indeed felt like backwoods’ visitors.  Don was standing at the observation window, looking across the spaceport.  “I believe this place makes the Riviera look like a carnival side show,” Don commented sardonically.   “I keep looking down to see if everything is buttoned and zipped.” 

Judy just laughed, giving him a one-armed hug, while she held a very boisterous Mark in the other arm.  “It doesn’t matter what they think, the important thing is that soon Dad, Will and Penny will be with us again.”

“This is Carnival Ship Z4, acknowledge Frilonx Space Authority,” the communications panel erupted. 

“Carnival Ship Z4, we have you on visual.  Please turn over your landing guidance controls to our computers.  You will be guided to berth 5, east sector,” came the answer. 

Everyone crowded around the communications waiting for final approach.  A large ship floated overhead and landed to their east.  Maureen immediately reached for the controls.  “Carnival Ship Z4.  This is the interstellar craft, Jupiter II.  We wish to speak to a member of your crew.  The name is John Robinson. Please acknowledge.  This is important.”

A pause seemed to go into the next century.  Maureen was about to call again when a voice finally responded.  “Jupiter II.  We are terribly sorry, but there are no crew members on board by that name.”

Maureen turned to the others, stunned.  “But...we know that he boarded at Anoxis...”

“Oh, Maureen, I just remembered.  John was worried about the Brumyatta picking up his trail and he went under a different name; John Sims.”

“His middle name,” she said and tried to raise the carnival ship again.  She was unable to get a response.  “We may have to go in person, for some reason they’re not answering.”

“Space port authority has declared a state of emergency.  There will be no electronic communications until this emergency has ended,” the Robot declared. 

“Robot, what’s going on out there?  Monitor anything you deem necessary to find out what this is all about,” Don ordered.

“Affirmative, Major West,” the Robot intoned.  Several minutes passed.  “Apparently, at precisely 10:12 am local time the head of the galactic government and his family were kidnapped from their vacation home near here.  A group called Equality is taking responsibility and is demanding equal rights for all those with ‘gifts.’  I am surmising from what I am receiving that the reference is to those with paranormal abilities, such as telepathy.”

“Great! Just what we need, another snafu,” Don said in exasperation, then he paused and calmed down.  “Thanks, Robot.  It would appear that we will have to be doubly careful now.  I can only assume the very appearance of our friends here,” he stroked Jimmy Doolittle under the chin, “would cause us to fall under suspicion.”

As if on cue, the communications console came to life.  “Jupiter II, this is the spaceport authority.  Under the laws granted by the government of Frilonx, we declare rights of search.  Prepare to be boarded immediately.”

“Come aboard, spaceport authority,” Don told them and then turned to the rest.  “Robot, greet our guests at the ramp and show them in.  Maureen, let me explain our friends here and we must all hope that they don’t have any type of detection devices.”

“What is going on here?” Smith queried from the elevator.  He was rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“Smith, we are being searched by spaceport authority.  And if you don’t want to end up in jail, you’d better let me do the talking.  These zanlings are being delivered to Gilbrolen, if someone asks.” Don answered quickly, hearing steps on the ramp. 

Dr. Smith gulped nervously.  “I had better return below and make sure that none of my experiments are disturbed.  I have put too much work into this to have it destroyed by overzealous cretins.”  Don shook his head as he heard the men approach. 

“You are the commander of this vessel?” a spaceport official said, stopping in front of Don.  He was somewhat shorter than the major and obviously of Krilig stock.

“Yes, I have temporary command.  What can we do for you?”

“I see you have zanlings. What is their purpose on your ship?”

“We are delivering them to Captain Gilbrolen on board The Great Galactic Wonder, as soon as we have permission to do so,” Don answered smoothly. 

“Very well, you may go ahead with your negotiations.  We will search the rest of your ship now,” the official stated.  Don led them down below where Smith explained the presence of the scientific equipment. 

“Doctor Zachary Smith?” the official asked.  Smith nodded.  “We have received a communiqué from Anoxis declaring you and your beloved wanted felons for aiding in the escape of three fugitives from Brumyattan justice.  Do not attempt to leave Frilonx, Dr. Smith.  When this crisis is over, our justice system will process the Brumyatta claim.”

“What?” Smith yelped.  Then a sly look entered the doctor’s eyes.  “Is that so?  We shall see about that,” he murmured under his breath.  The officials soon left. 

Breathing a sigh of relief, Don watched the Frilonx authorities approach another ship.  Maureen stood next to him.  “Don, I think we need to get over to the carnival ship soon.  Not only do I want to see John and the children, but I have a funny feeling about all this.”

“Strange.  I do too, Maureen.  And the flutter-dragons have been uptight as well.”

 

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Jeris walked along the observation deck with Penny.  His emotions were in a turmoil, his heart pounding.  Outside the window were scenes of organized chaos; armed soldiers patrolling the grounds of the spaceport, vehicles racing from one end to the other, people milling about.   And then there were the orders he had received from Marrin.  Take Penny Robinson to the Murtoc Mountains, to hold her there until the mind-deaf came to terms with Equality.  He was assured she would be safe there.  Jeris kept telling himself she would be safe.  He would be with her.

“Penny, you haven’t been in the city.  Now would be a good time to see it.  There isn’t going to be a show tonight, so we have time on our hands.  Let’s go,” he pleaded. “We won’t be gone for longer than an hour.  I promise it will be special,” he urged.

Penny looked out the window.  She did feel cooped up and she also felt Jeris would be able to protect her from any harm.  Looking up, she nodded, one hour would not harm anything.  Soon the pair had slipped out of the ship and were making their way into the city.  Her flutter-dragons were safely hidden in her traveling bag, squeaking uneasily.  She ignored them.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty- one
Chapter One
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