Nightmare Journey

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-two

The Rescue

 

 

“Don, I’m going back to the Jupiter for a moment, then I’ll be back,” Maureen said resolutely. 

Judy watched in growing concern. “Mom, I’m going with you.”

“No, just me this time.  I think it would be better for the rest of you to wait here.  This should only take a few minutes.”  Walking out of the carnival ship, Maureen flagged a spaceport transit and was soon at the Jupiter II. 

“Mrs. Robinson, did you find the children and the professor?” the Robot asked at her entrance. 

“Only Will, Robot.  Penny, it seems, was abducted to keep John from interfering with the rescue of the Most Worthy’s family.  Where’s Max?”

“I will get him.”  Soon the martial arts robot was standing in front of her.  In the interim since his partial destruction on Krimlon, Max had been fully restored almost to his original state. 

“Max, I have an assignment for you.  I’m afraid that it will be every bit as dangerous as the mission I sent you on before when we were on Krimlon, but you are the only one who is capable of doing this for me,” she said in prelude.  Then she outlined what John was doing and what had happened to Penny.  “Max, I want you to find and bring back Penny.”

“Mrs. Robinson, I will leave as soon as I find out the necessary information needed to infiltrate this fortress,” Max informed her. 

“I have located maps and blueprints on the fortress, along with its location,” the Robot said. 

“Thank you, Robot,” Maureen told him and Max studied the visuals on the computer monitor.  

“Yes, I believe that I can get inside and rescue Miss Penny without too much trouble.  Shall I also find the professor?”

Maureen closed her eyes momentarily and sighed.  Her emotions were clamoring ‘yes,’ but her common sense prevailed.  “Your priority is Penny.  John has someone to help him, but she doesn’t.”

“I understand, Mrs. Robinson.  I will leave in one point two hours.”  She nodded. 

“Mrs. Robinson, what will my role be?  I wish to help,” the Robot intoned.  

“You must guard the ship and monitor anything that might be of importance to us,” she told him.

“Very well.”  Maureen could have sworn that he sounded a bit disappointed.

 

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Gilbrolen checked his laser pistol and then holstered it, looking curiously at John’s armaments.   “No laser pistol?” he finally asked.   The professor had a shoulder harness, which held a long staff and a deadly looking knife.  A thin, but strong rope was coiled over his shoulder.      

“No, I am assuming that we’re having to go in by stealth, so I chose those things with which I have had training.  As primitive as they look, they will get the job done and get it done quietly,” John explained.  Gilbrolen nodded.   “It’s beginning to get dark, let’s go while we have enough light to keep from breaking our necks,” John added.  The Brooolaren just grinned wolfishly. 

Gilbrolen, John, there is only one guard at the service entrance at the back of the fortress, but he had a big dinner and he’s inattentive.  You must hurry, the leaders are getting impatient,’ Talon informed them. 

Thanks, Talon.  I really appreciate this,’ John answered. 

John, there is something else you must know,’ the raptor told him.  He landed on the boulder in front of the human and looked deeply into the professor’s eyes.  Penny is in the fortress as well.  She was lured away from the ship and brought here as insurance that you would not interfere.  I am sorry, but I felt you needed to know what you were getting into.’

“No,” he murmured softly and then his voice rose.  “It can’t be.  She was supposed to be safe.  Jeris....  I’ll wring his neck....”

“John, please, this can’t change what must be done.  We will bring her out with the Most Worthy and his family,” Gilbrolen interrupted, pleading.

“Of course it doesn’t change anything, except my daughter will be killed if we are detected.” John glared at the Brooolaren and the long seconds became several minutes. 

Then don’t be detected.  I can help distract the guards, while you get the captives,’ Talon finally said in his usual terse manner. 

“Let’s go,” John said resolutely.  “Now!  Let’s get these people out.”  Talon stroked the air powerfully with his wings and soared toward the fortress.  John and Gilbrolen climbed down the mountainside and with mental shields intact, stealthily made their way to the back entrance.

With Talon’s help, the little group made it to the back entrance without being seen.  A waxing moon was beginning to show itself over the distant mountain.  Using gestures, John sent Silverado into the open door, where the zanling flew around the guard’s head.  As soon as he had the watchman’s attention, the little creature returned.  As he was running out, the guard was knocked unconscious by John’s staff.

Motioning for John to follow, Gilbrolen slipped through the open door and across the kitchen.  Carefully cracking the door open, they saw several guards conversing at the end of the hallway down which they needed to go.  Tapping on the Brooolaren’s shoulder, John made a few hand motions and then walked back to cooking area.  A tap of the staff sent a pot clattering from its hook to the floor.  Hiding behind a counter near the door, John waited for the guards to enter. Gilbrolen hid behind the door.  The four Equality members carefully entered the room and approached the offending pot.  Quickly stepping out, John knocked the first guard unconscious with his staff, swung around and caught the second in the midsection.  The professor finished dispatching the man with a blow to the back of his head.  The third guard grabbed him from behind, but a hissing sound from Gilbrolen’s pistol preceded his attacker’s sudden release and collapse to the ground.  The fourth was already in an unconscious heap by the door.

Peering back out into the hallway, they found the way clear.  Gilbrolen sprinted to the end of the corridor, looked quickly and seeing no one, slipped along the wall to a wrought iron, spiral stairway.  The Brooolaren pointed up and John raced to him, climbing up quietly, his soft-soled boots making little noise on the metal steps.  At the top, he saw two men standing in front of a large, ornate wooden door.  Ducking back down, he gestured to Silverado, who zipped into the hall and past the guards.  John was out of the stairway in one motion and as they turned back toward him, he was on them, throwing one headfirst into the wall.  The other guard slipped out of his grasp and reached for his weapon.  Pivoting on his left foot, the professor caught the man in the diaphragm with his right foot, causing him to double over, gasping.  A well-placed blow to the back of his neck sent this guard into the realm of unconsciousness along with all of the others they had met thus far. 

As Gilbrolen reached the top of the stairwell, the large door quietly opened and the long muzzle of a rifle slowly eased its way out.  Marveling at the abject stupidity of such a move, John waited, nonetheless, unsure of how many other guards might be in the room.  Realistically, he knew that the guard would see him as soon as he stuck his head out; there was no place to hide in the large hallway.  The professor quickly motioned to Gilbrolen to just watch and see what developed.  The guard looked out, saw him and pointed his weapon at him.  John immediately raised his hands in the attitude of surrender. 

The green-furred alien cocked his head in surprise.  “Inside,” he hissed sibilantly.  John complied and stepped into a very large and ornate room.  A group of humanoids were standing near or sitting on a large, wooden-framed bed, their faces showing fear mixed with anger.  They appeared to be of the same base stock as the Krimlon, but with a few more variations.   Two small children looked up at him in abject curiosity. 

His captor glared and then smiled.  “So, you are not so infallible as the myths make you to be, are you?”

“I have never claimed to be anything other than a space traveler,” John replied calmly, all the while trying to gather as much information as he could.  There was another guard near the one window and yet another in a doorway leading into another room. 

Silverado climbed from the harness at John’s back to the top of the staff and squeaked long and loud.  The Most Worthy’s children gasped in shock.   “Guardian!” they cried.

Silverado leaped into the air and John knocked the gun out of the distracted alien’s grasp, sending it against the wall with a loud, clattering noise.  John dropped his mental shield, and asking for Silverado’s help, telepathically shouted the first thing that came into his mind. ‘Grandzin!’   The guard in front of him gasped, shook his head and stepped back.  The guard by the window dropped his weapon and groaned.  Taking one step, John shifted his weight and kicked his opponent with his foot.  With a great whooshing of expelled air, the guard dropped like a stone. 

Sprinting toward the Most Worthy and his family, he shouted for them to move and as they did so, he jumped on the bed, used it for a springboard.  He leaped for the guard in the doorway.  The man had been aiming his pistol, but John’s telepathic shout slowed his reflexes, and the professor slammed into him before the guard could get a shot off.  A laser blast burned a spot on the doorframe a few inches above his head. 

Shouting for the Most Worthy and his family to get on the floor, he dived for the protection of the bed, this time rolling underneath.  Remotely, he was very glad it was a tall bed.  With difficulty in the tight quarters, he slid his staff loose from it harness, swung it and caught the third guard across his ankles, causing him to dance and scream in pain.  Rolling out from under the bed, John was just in time to see the guard fall to the ground under the combined weight of the Most Worthy and his beloved, the laser pistol ripped from his grasp and turned against him.  

Gilbrolen burst in, his stun-pistol held ready.  Quickly shutting the door behind him, he looked around him in disbelief.  “John, was that you who gave me the headache?” 

“If you mean that telepathic shout, yes, with Silverado’s help,” he answered with a smile.  “But I thought you had the perfect shield.”

“I had to know what was going on in here.  I figured that our cover was pretty well blown anyway,” Gilbrolen said.  “And what in the world is the word, ‘grandzin?’ ”

“It is an alien term used to begin a trial by combat,” he said and then sobered quickly.  “You need to leave as soon as possible with the Most Worthy and his family, and I believe the best way to do that is out the window.”

“So that’s why you have the rope.  I agree, especially if Talon will help look out for any guards,” Gilbrolen said. 

I am near.  I’ll keep watch.  Right now there are no guards nearby, but the fortress is alerted to your presence,’ the raptor reported.

“I need to find Penny so you have to leave quickly, while I still have time to help,” John said tersely.  After one end of the rope had been tied to a bedpost, Gilbrolen tied the other end of the rope around his waist and slid down the two stories quickly, untying himself and tugging when he was at the bottom.  Hauling the rope up quickly, John sent the Most Worthy’s wife down first, with the smallest child hanging on to her neck and tied to her back.  Next, the older child, a boy was lowered, and then finally it was time for the Most Worthy. 

“Good luck in your quest, Guardian,” the Most Worthy told him, his blue eyes showing their gratitude. John nodded and lowered the leader.  His arms were aching, but finally a tug told him that everyone was safely on the ground. Gathering up the rope, John sprinted to the door and glanced out.  Guards were beginning to pour into the hallway.  Shutting the door quickly, he locked it and then dashed toward the other room.  Running to the window, he looked out and saw a balcony.  A metal figurine sat on a nearby table and the professor tied the end of the rope to it.  Leaning out the window, he swung the weighted rope until it arced toward the railing of the balcony.  Carefully he tugged and felt the figurine catch on the metal rail. 

As the door began splintering behind him, John climbed out the window and jumped, swinging toward the balcony in a dizzying flight that ended when he was able to climb up to and over the rail.  Fear for his daughter lent him strength, although when he finally made it into the other room, he felt the rawness of rope burns on his hands.  Silverado flew across behind him.  Taking only the barest of moments to grab up the rope, not even untying the figurine at the end, he ran for the hall door.  Quietly opening it, he perused the hallway and saw that at least for the moment it was clear of guards.  Slipping out, John sprinted to the far end of the hall, where he knew by study of the fortress blueprints, that there were other rooms.  As he reached the first room, a guard ran around the corner in front of him and slid to a halt, aiming his weapon. 

John didn’t think, he just threw the figurine, knocking the gun out of the guard’s hands.  His knife was pulled out and at the man’s throat before the startled guard could retrieve his weapon.  “You will walk very quietly in front of me,” John hissed. “Is my daughter in one of these rooms?”  His prisoner nodded slightly and the professor propelled him toward the first doorway.  “This one?”  Another nod, and John turned the knob and pushed the door open.  The room was empty. 

Jerking the man around to face him, John shoved him against wall.  “Where is she?” he demanded angrily.  The man shook his head violently.  Suddenly a vision of his daughter’s death spun into his mind, causing him to gasp in shock.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty- three
Chapter One
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