Nightmare Journey

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-one

The Dirty Little Plot Gets a Bit Dirtier

 

 

 

“John, I need your help,” Gilbrolen said, pacing the length of his modest cabin. 

“Of course, Captain, if I can,” he answered, puzzled by the carnival master’s agitation.

“Have you heard the news about the Most Worthy’s kidnapping?” Gilbrolen asked.  John nodded.  “He and his family were taken to a fortress not far from here, in the Murtoc Mountains.  I want you to help me rescue them, before this escalates into a full scaled blood-bath.”

“What??!” John stood up quickly, flabbergasted.  “Me?  What on earth for?”

“Because you are the only being I know who has a near impenetrable telepathic shield,” the Brooolaren stated bluntly.  “And no being, telepathic or mind-deaf can get within five miles of the installation without being detected.  The only creatures that can succeed are those who can shield so well that they cannot be detected at all.”

John stared at Gilbrolen in shock for a few minutes, then the full implication hit him.  “You said that you wanted me to help you rescue them.  I can only assume that you are also a telepath with an even better mind shield.” 

Gilbrolen nodded.  “I have been working for years trying to change attitudes, subtly helping the gifted, and I have been doing this lately with the blessings of the galactic government.  I have discreetly gathered telepaths with varying talents. But I underestimated the resolve of the militant underground, Equality.  They are much stronger and better organized than I thought.  I knew that I had one of the leaders on my ship, but didn’t know that he was as powerful as he turned out to be until you came on board. You partially neutralized Marrin’s effectiveness without even knowing you were doing it, but he had planetary contacts that were able to carry out the kidnapping.  And of course, as soon as the kidnapping occurred, Marrin disappeared along with a few others.”

“But if you are such a powerful telepath that no one knew....”

“I have an ability to shield, John.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that I am a powerful mind reader.  Are you?” he asked, a slight smile crossing his round face. 

“Touché, Captain,” John said with a smile of his own, before sobering quickly.  “You do realize that all I have ever wanted to do is reunite with my family and return to my own galaxy.”

“Yes, Guardian, but you are here and there is a reason for it.   Please, I cannot do this alone, I must have help and you are the only one who can help me.”

John sat and looked pensively at the floor.   Then his features hardened and he looked up with a glint in his eyes that surprised Gilbrolen.  “I’m getting infinitely sick and tired of trying to mind my own business and still having my family stuck in dangerous situations.  I agree with what you’re doing, Gilbrolen, the peaceful solutions are always the best ones, but apparently someone else doesn’t feel that way.”  John sighed.  “So going in and rescuing that family seems to be the only option for peace now,” mused and then paused.  “I’ll help you, but I have to know that my children are safe while I’m gone.  I also need to know that someone will take them to Krimlon if something happens to me,” John added, his voice low. 

“MriGrolar can be trusted to take care of them,” Gilbrolen said.  “Your children will be safe.”

 

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Maureen stood in the captain’s office with the rest of the Jupiter II crew, gazing at the slightly froggish looking alien with barely controlled patience.  “Where is my beloved?  You have admitted he is on this ship.”

“Guardian’s beloved,” MriGrolar said and then paused.  He wished there was an easy way to talk to the agitated human.  She was as impatient for a reunion as John had been. 

“That legend is known on other planets besides Krimlon?” Maureen said in surprise, unknowingly providing the alien with a welcome change of subject. 

“Would you be more comfortable if I called you Maureen?” he asked, a slight smile on his broad face.

“Yes, but what matters is that I want to see John.  And I want to see my children,” she said tersely.

Pressing a button, MriGrolar summoned Will and Penny.  Turning back to John’s beloved, he sighed.  “John is not here, he left with Gilbrolen approximately a half an hour ago.”

“When will he be back?  I will wait for him,” she said. 

“It’s not that easy.  He will be back when he and Captain Gilbrolen rescue the family of the Most Worthy,” he answered softly.

Maureen was stunned; she sat down on the chair that Don pushed behind her.  “Rescue...?  The Most Worthy?”

“Mom!!” Will cried and rushed to hug his mother.  “I missed you so much.”   She held him close for a minute, reveling in the proximity of her son, while still impatiently waiting for the arrival of Penny.

MriGrolar pushed the communications button again and then pounded the desk in front of him.   Startled by the sudden noise, everyone looked at the reptile-like humanoid.  “Your daughter has left the ship in the company of a young man that she has become attached to.  I will have the spaceport authorities look for her and bring her back.  I am sure that she is all right, Maureen.”

“Why would Gilbrolen and the professor be off on their own rescuing the kidnapped family instead of letting the authorities do it?” Imothera interrupted. 

“Because those without the telepathy would be detected as easily as those with the gift who are not capable of erecting very powerful mind shields.  The professor possesses a strong shield,” MriGrolar said. “The authorities are giving Gilbrolen and John until tomorrow morning before they end negotiation and begin firing on all known Equality safe houses.”

“Are you saying that Gilbrolen is a telepath?” Imothera asked. 

MriGrolar nodded.  “A very powerful defensive telepath.”

“Mom, Nova told me that Penny isn’t in the city anymore.  She’s being taken to a place called the Fortress of the Wind,” Will suddenly said.   At almost the same moment, the communicator beeped an incoming message for Gilbrolen.  MriGrolar activated it with a private code and everyone listened to the voice that declared that Penny Robinson was being held by Equality to ensure the non-interference of her father.  

Maureen paled and clutched the arms of the chair until her knuckles whitened.  “Oh, Penny,” she murmured, so low that she was barely heard.

Moaning, MriGrolar said,  “I have failed my friend, John, I have failed you and I have failed your child.  There is no way the Guardian can be reached now.  And I promised to protect his children.”

“What is this Fortress of the Wind?” Judy asked, aching at the sight of her mother’s anxiety.  They were so close and yet so far away.

“It is a well protected stronghold, built a hundred years ago by a very paranoid leader.  It is the same place where the Most Worthy and his family are being held.  We must hope and pray that John succeeds, and that he finds out his daughter is being held there,” MriGrolar said, his yellow eyes full of sadness. 

 

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“John, your shield must be impenetrable, so much so that no one will know that you even exist unless they see you.  Let me show you what I mean,” Gilbrolen instructed.  “Try to put everything from your mind.” 

John followed the Brooolaren’s directions and then suddenly felt the same absolute isolation that he had experienced on Krimlon when his mind had protested the tortuous device that Prince Mizel had put on him.  Eyes wide in shock, he shook his head and felt himself beginning to panic.   He began panting for air and unconsciously reached up for the headband that was no longer there.  Gilbrolen withdrew and watched him carefully.  John felt a return to normalcy. 

John, it is not the same as before.  This time you will be in control,’ Talon said.  Silverado squeaked in concern.

Taking a deep breath, John reasoned with himself and then looked steadily into the blue-skinned alien’s eyes.  “I have experienced that before, Gilbrolen.  My reaction was involuntary; a response to a device meant to break telepaths.  It was a hellacious experience.  Give me a moment to psych myself up to this,” he explained and took several more deep breaths.  And then isolated himself from the rest of the world.

He saw Gilbrolen smile and nod his head.  “Very good, John.  Now let’s plan before we implement this.”  

Partially dropping the telepathic barrier, John breathed a sigh of relief.   He and the Brooolaren climbed to the top of the ridge and looked at the fortress through long-range scanners.  There were only two guards patrolling near the only entrance they could see.  Windows on the first floor were high off the ground and barred, the tops of the walls were even higher.  Second story windows were only attainable from the inside; they were too high for the tallest ladder, even if they had one.  John could easily understand why Equality felt confident enough to have only a few guards outside.  The walls themselves appeared as smooth as glass.  “Talon, how close can you get?  We may need a diversion as we approach the fortress.  We will certainly need someone to be our eyes.” 

I can go all the way in.  I was part of the organization during our voyage,’ he said smugly.

“What?” John asked in shocked surprise.   “Was that why you were so taciturn during the trip?”

Perhaps, but mainly because I left my world to find and help my people, and I had no means to do so.  I was attracted by Marrin’s promises of equality among all races and saw it as the means to gather my people back to Creon.  Then I realized that all the plan would do was begin a bloodbath.  Marrin just wanted equality among the gifted, not wanting to see that it was futile to revolt against such horrendous odds,’ Talon explained.  ‘I am confused.   For years I drew strength from my anger and bitterness against humanoids and then I go and meet the Guardian.  I don’t know whether to thank you or curse you, John Robinson.’

John didn’t know what to say.  He felt the turmoil that the Weerlorin was experiencing, but had no idea how to help him.  Finally, he said, “You’re right, it would be futile and many of your people might be murdered in retaliation.  Talon, I know I’m asking a great deal, but would you be willing to spy on your fellow gifted?”

Yes, John, I would, if for no other reason than to prevent the needless deaths of more of the gifted. Let me go now and see if they will accept me.   The raptor stepped off the boulder and rode the thermals to the fortress, disappearing inside.

 

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“Jeris, where are we going?” Penny asked in consternation.  The vehicle that was supposed to take them back to the spaceship was instead taking them out of the city toward a mountain range.  Picking out snippets from his thoughts, understanding dawned and she turned on the boy in the full fury of her indignation.  “You are part of the kidnapping plot.  You are bringing me out here to keep Dad from interfering, aren’t you?  You used me!” she cried.  Turning away from him she tried to open the doors, willing to take a chance on being injured rather than being a prisoner.  They wouldn’t open from the inside.

“Penny, I was doing this to protect you.  If I hadn’t done this and your dad tried to do something, he would be hurt or killed.  Equality is a tough organization.  You’ve got to understand I would do anything to keep you from being hurt.  Please understand, Penny.   Please?” he pleaded.

But Penny just laid her head against the window and cried silently, the hurt and betrayal causing a deep ache in her heart.   Lucy crawled out of the carrying pouch and floated up to her shoulder where the zanling rubbed under her ear.  The other zanlings joined her, but for once their ministrations didn’t help.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty- two
Chapter One
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