Nightmare Journey





Chapter Twenty-Three

The Rescue Ends



 After scanning the information on the fortress that the Robot had provided, Max set off at his mile-eating pace toward the mountains.  He arrived just before the sun set and as soon as the reddish-gold orb has slipped behind the distant mountain, the robot carefully negotiated a little used path and approached the front gate.  In the darkness, his dark metallic body was virtually invisible and as the single guard turned away from him, he slipped out of the shadows and quickly rendered the man unconscious. 

Keeping to the more dimly lit corridors, Max negotiated the halls of the living quarters, listening with his acute hearing for sounds of the Robinson girl or her zanlings.  As he approached a corner, he heard the sounds of approaching footsteps, but determined that he would not have a chance to hide before the individual turned the corner.  So he waited.  When the guard rounded the corner, he stopped in surprise, which gave Max all the time in the world to deploy a Lrinthen hand movement.  His plasti-steel fist seemed to barely clip the astonished man below his ear, but the guard’s collapse was instantaneous.   Max easily gathered up the unconscious humanoid and threw him over his shoulder. 

Checking rooms with his advanced audiotronics, he found an empty one and dumped the guard in it.  Continuing down the corridors of the monstrously large mansion, Max kept listening for sounds of the girl while at the same time watching for guards.  Avoiding the rooms where the Most Worthy was being held, Max continued searching, and finally found what he was looking for.  Carefully turning the knob, he slowly opened the door and stepped in.  The room was almost totally dark, but his optics could make out a shadowy figure swinging a weapon of some sort in his direction. His arm shot out and caught the rodlike weapon, holding it in a vise-like grip until he finished entering the room.  Shutting the door behind him, he jerked the weapon out of his assailant’s hands. 

“Miss Penny,” he called softly. 

There was a slight pause.  “Max?” Penny’s voice asked from the other side of the room.

“Yes, I am here under your mother’s direction, to find you and bring you back to the spaceport.  Am I to assume that this young man standing near me is your kidnapper?” he asked as the lights were flipped on by his attacker. 

“Yes, he is,” Penny stated flatly.

“Young man, if you do not interfere, I will not harm you,” Max intoned.   Jeris simply stood and gaped at him.  “I will assume that you are agreeing to cooperate.”

“No, I don’t think he’s seen anything like you before, Max.  Robots seem to be a bit more rare in this part of the galaxy,” Penny explained.  “And I got him to promise to help me escape.”

“Good, we are going to escape now before Professor Robinson and his colleagues arrive to effect the escape of the Most Worthy,” Max said. 

“Dad’s coming here?” 

“Yes, Miss Penny.  In fact it’s possible that he is already here.  He was unaware of your kidnapping, though,” the robot explained.   

“I think the only way we can get out of here quickly is to make them believe that you are dead, Penny,” Jeris finally said. 

“How do you do that?” she asked.

“By telepathically creating a ‘fake’ death,” Jeris answered.  “Especially if your zanlings are willing to help me.”

Lucy and the others squeaked their encouragement.  While Max and Penny stood quietly, Jeris closed his eyes in intense concentration and with a sigh began to weave pictures that wafted into her brain; a detailed, vivid scene of a murder.  Her murder.   Shuddering with the horror of the vision she had been shown, she looked down at the front of her tunic to make sure that what she had seen wasn’t real and then looked over at Jeris.  He appeared drawn and pale. 

“Come on, let’s get out of here, while they’re still wondering,” Jeris said tersely.

Max checked the hallway and finding it clear, motioned for them to follow him. They made their way to a room near the back of the fortress.  Motioning to the children to enter, he looked out of the window and perused the dark landscape.  His infrared vision was able to make out the formation of troops of men in the distance, but there was no one to impede their progress near the building.  Pulling a sturdy cord from around his torso, he instructed Jeris to tie one end around his waist.  Then he lowered the boy to the ground below.  Pulling the cord back up, he did the same with Penny.  Finally, he climbed down and joined the children.  “There are attack troops approaching, we must travel quickly to avoid them,” he said.

With his superior vision and their telepathic ability, the small group was able to avoid all detection until after passing the outer perimeter of the attacking forces.   Very calmly, one robot, two humanoid youths and four zanlings approached the command center of the government forces and reported in.




In his mind he saw Penny’s death vividly.  “No, no.....” he moaned. “I was too late.”  The guard, seeing his inattentiveness, grabbed John around the neck, trying to choke him.  In his anger and grief, he jerked the man loose and slammed him against the wall.  As the guard slid unconscious to the ground, the professor stumbled toward the door. 

John, not true.  Pictures not true.   Made up,’ Silverado said desperately as he flapped his wings frantically in front of John’s face. 

“What? What do you mean?” he asked, hope finding a tenuous grip on his consciousness.

Someone, Jeris, I think, made picture to fool others.  Make them think Penny is dead.’

“Do you know where she is?” John asked. 

Silverado squeaked a negative, not being able to detect their thoughts.  But left here,’ he added.  There was nothing he could do, but get away and hope that Penny was safe. 

John sighed in exasperation as he slowly worked his way to the back access entrance of the fortress.  The whole building was in a turmoil and the professor could only surmise that the government attack force had been detected.  Finally he made it to the lower level and found himself in an empty corridor heading in the right direction.  Striding stealthily toward the end of the corridor, he was shocked when Marrin appeared in front of him.  The creenx held a long pole with a scythe-like blade on each end. 

The boy may have fooled the others with your daughter’s faked death, but he did not fool me,’  Marrin told him. ‘And apparently not you either.  I will kill you for this, as I should have done earlier on the carnival ship.  The gifted could have risen to glorious heights by this insurrection.’

“The gifted would have fought a bloody and ultimately futile war, Marrin.  The rights of the gifted would have been set back a millennia,” John retorted, looking for an avenue of escape.  He sensed the creenx preparing for a telepathic attack similar to the one he had made in the Most Worthy’s room.  Shield, Silverado,’ he ordered his companion, and set up a shield of his own. 

Almost immediately, Marrin attacked, swinging the weapon low to the ground in a deadly arc that would have almost certainly taken his feet off at the ankles had John not acted.  Silverado flew above the combatants, squeaking encouragement to his friend. 

Leaping above the deadly weapon in a somersault that Max had taught him, John landed near Marrin’s hands, directly on the pole, snapping it.  The creenx howled in anger and frustration, while John just shoved him aside and kept sprinting for the outer door.  He ran around the corner and found himself facing a contingent of a dozen, blue-uniformed government soldiers.  Before he could give the predetermined password, one of the men raised a boxy-looking weapon and fired it point blank.  For a few seconds, John felt as though he was sinking in a deep dark pit, and then he remembered nothing else. 




The Most Worthy arrived in his office several hours late the morning after his rescue, issuing orders even before he got there.  His piercing blue eyes bored into those of his subordinates.  “The first thing I want is a cup of neehr and someone to tell me that Captain Gilbrolen and the Guardian are on their way here,” he said tersely.

His secretary looked blank.  “Most Worthy, Captain Gilbrolen was summoned the moment you made your wishes known, but we know nothing of a Guardian and were not able to locate him.  Are you referring to the legend, sir?”

“Of course I am referring to the legend.  Do you think that one brooolaren could rescue me and my family alone?”   He sat and mused a moment.  “Check among the captured prisoners.  He will be three kriliks tall and have a silver zanling.”  The secretary’s eyes widened in shock and he turned and rushed out of the room. 




Maureen paced the deck of the Jupiter II, her frustration quickly changing to anger and fear.  It seemed that lately she had been arguing with one bureaucrat after another.  “Don, someone has to know where John is.  This doesn’t make sense.”

“I know it doesn’t, Maureen.  I finally got to see Gilbrolen, but before he could say more than two words, he was called to the Most Worthy’s office.  He seemed a bit worried, too.”

“I think that it’s time for me to call the Most Worthy’s office,” she said, a very resolute look on her face.  Don felt sorry for the Most Worthy’s secretary.  After a short, heated conversation, she turned back to him with a triumphant look on her face.  “The Most Worthy has invited me to his office.  It seems that he has been trying to find John, too, and thinks he may know where he is.”

When Maureen accompanied the Most Worthy to the incarceration center and walked into the infirmary, she saw John sitting on the edge of the examination bed looking pale and disoriented.  And more wonderful than she could have ever imagined him looking.  “John,” she called out softly.  Suddenly she was by his side.  He gazed at her, staring for a moment and then shaking his head in disbelief.  A bit disappointed, she looked into his thoughts as she approached him, and saw in the jumble of drug-induced bewilderment that he was recovering from, the remembrances of times when he had thought her near and she had not been.  “John.  It’s really me this time.”  And as he slid down off the table, his eyes still showing disbelief, she held him close and kissed him passionately.  At first he was unresponsive, but then as belief set in, he held her fiercely, as though she might slip away.

“Oh, Mo, I didn’t think this moment would ever happen,” he finally whispered and then kissed her, his joy complete.  After what seemed to him much too short a time, a throat clearing noise from the other side of the room interrupted their reunion and John looked up to see the Most Worthy leaning against the wall.  The fogginess in his brain had dissipated and he felt as though he could now think clearly.

“I hate to interrupt your reunion, Guardian, but my schedule has been atrocious as a result of my kidnapping,” he said briskly.  Then his voice lowered, becoming more husky with emotion.  “One of the first things I wanted to do, though, was to thank you.  What can I do for you?  Give you?  You cannot imagine the extent of my gratitude to you for saving my family.”

“I have a family myself.  I can imagine it, Most Worthy.  That is one of the reasons that I agreed to go with Gilbrolen,” John answered.  “You owe me nothing.”

“But I do, Guardian,” the Most Worthy said adamantly.  His deep blue eyes were almost pleading.  

John sighed and then thought about the journey he had made to reach this point.  A thought came to his mind, an idea that had first germinated during a conversation with Gilbrolin.  “Perhaps there is something, Most Worthy.  If you would attend a performance of the carnival and watch without judgment until the end, that would be all I ask.”  Ideas began coalescing even as he spoke. 

The Most Worthy looked at him in surprise, but nodded.  “Tonight’s show was canceled for obvious reasons.  Would tomorrow be too soon?”

“That would be fine,” John said.  “I appreciate it.”  Maureen just wondered what John was up to.  “Now if someone would find Silverado, we can leave.  I have work to do.”




Chapter Twenty-four
Chapter One
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