Nightmare Journey




Chapter Six-

Flight into Oblivion



“You had him and let him get away?” clo Yondah thundered.  The soldier before him visibly cringed, but said nothing, except a quick ‘no, sir.’  clo Yondah filed that away in the man’s favor.  The soldier was not trying to make excuses.  “What happened?”

“One of the Guardian’s companions warned him and I was unable to capture him.  He knocked me unconscious,” the soldier explained. 

Grunting, clo Yondah turned to one of the guards.  “You both allowed yourselves to be ambushed by one man.  Take your injured companion and return to your barracks.  Tell the guards on the other side that this man is coming with me,” he ordered.  Turning back to the first soldier, he asked him, “I don’t think you will make a mistake like that again, will you?” 

“No, sir.  I won’t, sir.”

“Good, fall in with my other men.”  He stared at the softly glowing gate on the other side of the clearing. 

Suddenly, the noises of the jungle animals increased to an almost unbearable level.  The men kept craning their heads trying to locate the source of the sounds, but found that impossible as the cacophony seemed to be coming from everywhere at once.  Then the air was filled with flying fruit, sticks, leaves and even feces.  Several of the soldiers started to turn back, but a roaring order from clo Yondah stopped them.  They put their arms over their heads and waited for orders, which their commander finally gave.  Gratefully the men began walking between the posts and went nowhere, except into a barrage of more debris. 

Clo Yondah stared at the portal in disbelief and as the refuse continued to pelt down on them, he pondered momentarily.  “Mrindoren, do you have the quester materials?”  He asked one of his Brumyatta subordinates.

“Yes, Captain.”

“Set it up using the last coordinates for this gate and then go through and reestablish the connections on the other side,” the captain ordered.  Mrindoren nodded and set to work quickly.  He placed a small cube into a larger device and then, punching a few buttons, activated it.  Finally he walked between the posts and disappeared. 




Max briefly came through the gate.  “Major West, Prince Dar, you can come through now with minimum casualties.  There are only a few soldiers left who are putting up any resistance at all,” he said quickly and then disappeared back through the gate. 

“Men, let’s go,” Dar shouted and he and Don led the contingent of soldiers through the portal.  Maureen and Litha stood near the edge of the clearing with a few guards, anxiety etched on both of their faces. 

“They will be all right,” Litha said softly, as much to reassure herself as her companion.

“Yes,” was all Maureen said, gazing anxiously at the empty clearing.  Silverado and Maggie sat on her shoulders.  Two tiny zanlings were perched on Litha’s shoulder, the same two that had interrupted the council of war the night before.  They were squeaking pensively, having picked up the agitation of the princess.  Silverado turned to them and chirped testily.  The little zanlings were immediately silent. Peter, Edmund, Nova and Susan sat quietly on a limb.

Maureen sat staring at the portal for what seemed an eternity, the fingers of her right hand continually brushing the handle of her laser pistol.  Finally she was unable to  wait any longer.  Before the Krimlon could say anything or even move, she had sprinted to the portal and passed between the glowing poles. 

“Maureen,” Litha cried out as her friend shifted from one world to another.  Maureen realized as she passed through the portal that the princess had used her name instead of the now familiar term ‘Guardian’s beloved.’ 

The sight that greeted her was one of controlled chaos.  Several groups of men were guarded by soldiers from Kirvos.  She saw Don with a small patrol heading toward a strange shaped spaceship berthed about a half-mile distant.  Approximately a half-mile or more beyond that she noticed a military-like installation, complete with barracks and administrative buildings.  It appeared to her untrained eye that Prince Dar just about had everything under control. 

As Don neared the landing pad, she heard the ship’s repulsor jets engage, and the ship gently lifted off to a height of thirty meters.  Then its main engines engaged and within a few minutes the ship was out of sight in the upper atmosphere. 

Reaching Don, she asked, “Do you know who they were?”

“No,” he answered morosely.  “I doubt that they had John and the kids, but I was hoping to get some information from the them.  I have to rely on Dar to get to that installation before some bright boy decides to destroy any existing records.  It would be very nice to know who the Purifier’s office was dealing with.  I think this is a more than just the buying and enslavement of zanlings.”

“I agree,” Maureen said as they walked toward the barracks.  “Now if we can only find out where John and the children are.”  She was unaware of the flutter-dragons following behind her.




John sat uphill from the now dead gate, staring at it in bemusement, knowing that he should be heading up the trail after Will and Penny.  But for some reason, he felt a compulsion to wait, as though his pursuers might pull a surprise.  Shaking his head, he brought his fingers to his mouth and blew on them.  It was too cold on this world.  He and the kids were dressed for the much warmer climate of Krimlon.  His teeth began chattering and he clenched his jaw tighter to control the reflex. 

Suddenly an alien walked through the supposedly dead portal.  He was carrying what looked to be a laptop computer with a cube-like device on it.  The device looked surprisingly familiar, but he couldn’t figure out why at the moment.  The alien turned and reconnected the wires that he had just recently unhooked, and then walked back through the portal. 

Anger warmed him temporarily and John turned up the trail that Will and Penny had taken.  It was cold enough that the snow was dry and powdery, but he could still see their footprints quite clearly.  Just off the path, he pulled a limb from a bush and then continued following the children.  When he came to a side trail that led back down the hill, he obliterated his children’s tracks and walked down the smaller pathway until it reached a river that was choked with ice and debris. 

Doubling back, he erased his last set of tracks until he reached the original trail.  In a brushy copse overlooking both routes, he waited patiently, occasionally rubbing his half-frozen fingers.  His thoughts were bleak, but he was determined to protect his Will and Penny.  If these men wanted to keep harassing him, he would be most happy to give them a fight.  Pulling out the rifle from its shoulder harness, he checked the bolt and safety to make sure all was in readiness. 

John heard the men before he saw them and watched them approach the fork where he had set up the false trail.  To his amazement, he saw the same man who had come through the gate stop the column and point up the main trail.  Peering out from between the branches, John knew that his job of obliterating the tracks had been thorough and he was confused at their ability to determine the right trail.  The leader didn’t even send anyone down the false trail to check it out.   Quietly he waited until they had passed by.  There were eighteen men in all, including a Purifier, who was complaining bitterly about the cold.

When they had all passed by, John stood up and started after them, using boulders and brush to hide his movements.  The powdery snow muffled the sound of his footsteps and he quickly caught up with the last one.  As his comrades went around a curve on the trail, he clipped the Krimlon soldier on the back of the head with the rifle stock.  Only pausing to grab the man’s ammunition belt, John stepped over the still form and cautiously continued after his enemies.

Staying about five yards behind his pursuers, John realized that he had to do something more drastic than just picking off one man at a time.  Looking at the rocks above suddenly gave him an idea.  Stealthily, the professor climbed to the top of the ridge and continued parallel to the column below him.  Soon he saw a loose shale-like formation of rocks on the ridge ahead of him and he sped up his pace.  If he could get ahead of and block the column, he might be able to discourage them from their pursuit. 

Using his knife, John dug swiftly under a boulder that perched precariously on top of the shale.  Pushing with his shoulder, he felt the cold rock burn his skin even through his shirt, but he continued his efforts.  Once, twice, then.... success!  The entire pile of rocks and boulders began sliding down the side of the hill.  As he sprinted to the next pile of rocks, he heard screams of fear as every loose rock on the mountainside cascaded down the hillside.  Peering down, John saw that his rock slide had come down closer to the end of the column then the beginning.  He had not only failed to stop the contingent, he had injured or killed several men. 

Sighing, John left the disconcerted soldiers behind, running on ahead and then down to the main trail, his breath puffing like a steam engine.  When he stopped to peruse the trail ahead, he began shivering violently.  Silently, he cursed the cold under his breath.  He hoped that Will had found shelter by now. 

Following his children’s footprints, John noticed that the sun was noticeably lower and surmised that is was late afternoon on this world.  Then the realization came to him that the various passages through the portals had left him confused as to how long they had actually been on the run. It seemed forever.  Suddenly he stopped.  Ahead of him was another river or perhaps the same one doubled back.  A dead tree had fallen over it and Will and Penny had used it as a bridge.  It was fairly slender and swayed slightly under his weight, but broken branches allowed him to keep his balance. 

Pausing on the riverbank John looked under the end of the tree and found it balancing on several rocks.  The rocks themselves were half buried in the earth and couldn’t be budged, but the end of the tree had begun to rot and was becoming soft.  Climbing underneath, he began to dig at the porous wood until it shifted precariously on its base.  Satisfied with his efforts, John walked along the river bank until he found a place to hide. 

Soon the soldiers came into view, advancing with greater diligence than they had before. As the men crossed the log bridge, he watched it shift under their weight.  Cautious, the soldiers crossed two at a time.  Finally with a great crack, the log gave way and crashed into the river.  Two of the men splashed and cried out for help.  John turned and watched the men remaining on the bank.  Their numbers were dwindling, he noticed with great relief. 

The crackling sound of a broken twig alerted John to the whereabouts of another man, and he threw himself to the side as a rifle stock crashed down where he had been hiding.  Reaching out with his leg, he tripped one of the men and then kicked the other in the kneecap.  The first grabbed him from behind and held him in a chokehold.  Desperately, John threw himself backwards against a large tree.  A bullet whizzed by his head as he struck his assailant in the midriff with his elbow. 

Hearing rifle bolts sliding into place, the professor grabbed his adversary and jerked him around in front of him.  Four shots went off simultaneously and the soldier slumped to the ground.  As he turned to run into the forest, a hand caught his ankle and he sprawled over the man whose kneecap he had broken.  Unable to stop his momentum, John slid forward into the swiftly flowing river. 

Although the river was not deep, the current was strong and the many rocks lining the bottom were slippery.  As he struggled to raise his head above the surface to breathe, John noticed remotely that the water was slightly warmer than the outside air.  When he managed to get a breath, it was like breathing knives, the air was so cold.  After what seemed an interminable time, he managed to get his feet under him and stand against the current.  By this time he was out of the soldiers’ sight and he was able to struggle to the river bank.  As he crawled onto the shore, exhaustion set in, his joints refused to work and he couldn’t feel his hands or feet. 

No! Have to get to the children, have to.....’ he kept telling himself, but he couldn’t make his limbs do what he wanted them to.  Finally he collapsed on the cold ground, beyond shivering, beyond feeling anything except the utter despair of failure. 





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