Planet of Tranquility

 

 

Chapter Ten-

Here One Minute, Gone the Next

 

 

Throwing himself to the side and rolling onto the floor, John saw a flash and heard the noise of a chair behind him exploding into so many bits of metal and fabric.  The professor kept himself behind the computer consoles, rightly figuring that the creature was hesitant to fire on him for fear of hitting the computers.  Quickly sprinting toward the door, John leaped at the Zrilon, somersaulting over the hard-shelled back and into the corridor.   Springing to his feet, and running down a corridor, he almost ran into Maureen and Maggie.   

“What...?”  Only hesitating for a second, he grabbed her hand and resumed his flight down the corridor.  He felt his lungs laboring to gather in enough air, reminding him of the bio-adaptive device and his need to return to the water.   Pushing that thought out of his mind, he concentrated instead on trying to get out of the installation with Maureen.   “We have to get out of here.  As soon as the detonation program is initiated again, this place is going to blow.  And unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure how powerful a bomb I made.”  They continued sprinting toward the airlock.  As they rounded a corner, a contingent of crab-like aliens met them, all with weapons ready.  John skidded to a halt, pushed Maureen behind him and raised his hands.  His mind worked furiously, trying to find a way to escape, but there were too many weapons, and his opponents seemed nervous, their eyestalks waving furiously, their thoughts jumbles of fear and anxiety.   

“Back to the communications room, alien,” the lead creature clicked, the translator making a quick interpretation.  

Sighing, John turned, and placing his arm around Maureen, escorted her back the way they came.  The flutter-dragons squeaked pensively.  Quiet.  It wouldn’t take much for them to shoot us right now,’ he told them.  He felt a momentary dizziness, which passed quickly.  Taking several deep breaths, John managed to pull in enough air to satisfy the needs of his body.   

Maureen looked up at him in concern.  John, how long have you been out of water?’  

‘Don’t know, but if we can’t get away soon, it won’t really matter, anyway,’ he answered, morosely.

When they walked into the communications room, they saw another Zrilon working on a smaller computer near the floor.  It immediately swung around, its eyestalks waving in fury, its clacking speech sounding harsh with anger.  “You have invaded the main computer!”

“Yes, I did.  You are irresponsible to cause the mass destruction your device would create.  There are better ways to mine the breshel compound then by destroying the habitats of thousands of creatures,” John stated fervently.  “We can go and explain the need for the breshel to the members of the Homeplace pods.   Just stop the detonation.”  

“You think we are naive?” the alien asked.  It motioned to the soldiers behind them.  “I will get great pleasure in leaving you here to feel the power of the final detonation,” he added. 

Several of the soldier’s clawed appendages grabbed at him and Maureen.  “No!” John  shouted, kicking at the captor holding him.  The Zrilon slid across the floor before stopping itself.  Pivoting, the professor tried to pull another soldier off Maureen, but several of the aliens grabbed at his legs, dragging him down to his knees.  As the crab-like creatures tied him up, he struggled, but finally gave up, collapsing to the deck exhausted.   

“Soon the technicians will figure out your commands and you will be the only firsthand witnesses to a most glorious explosion.  Unfortunately you will not be alive to report on it,” the alien clacked in self-satisfied amusement. 

John’s gaze turned to the computer station to which Maggie and Silverado had retreated. ‘Can’t get enough air.  Can’t think.’  His thought processes seemed mired in molasses.  Then he noticed one of their captors roughly binding Maureen’s hands and John blurted out, “Let her go....”

John, don’t,’ Maureen pleaded.     

As soon as both humans were tied up, the crab-like creatures left.  The ensuing silence was only broken by the soft sounds of regenerated air whooshing through the air vents and the pensive squeaking of the flutter-dragons.   John had never felt so helpless.  He struggled against the cords, but they were too strong for him.  He saw Maureen doing the same thing with hers, with the same results.  Why did she come back,’ he asked himself.   Frustration raged inside, but he held it in tight rein. 

Silverado’s golden eyes bored into his own.  We must go.  Bomb will explode soon.’

I know,’ John agreed.  But I can’t get loose.’

Suddenly the monitor lit up, and figures for the detonation sequence began marching ominously across the screen.  “I’m sorry,” he told Maureen.  “You should have stayed with the others.”

I’m sorry, too.  But we are together.   You will not be taken from me again.  I love you, John.”  

There was a sudden flash from behind the computer console and then nothing.  Cold, bitter nothing. 

 

                                       __________________________

 

 

Through the long-range scanners, Murwon watched the quick flash of an explosive device and then the implosion of the installation dome.  Slowly and deliberately, with an almost majestic movement, the walls of the structure fell in on themselves.  Murwon turned to Grilar.  Does this precede the detonation of the underground explosive?’

Grilar shook his head and spoke into the translator in his suit.  No, something happened.  If everything had gone as planned, I’m afraid we would be dead by now, because we aren’t far enough away.  John Robinson said that many miles wouldn’t be far enough away.’

Glancing at her friend’s son, Murreena commented, her sadness permeating all of her listener’s thoughts, ‘John and Maureen saved the Homeplaces.’

‘Dad and Mom got away, didn’t they?’ Will asked plaintively, fear permeating his thoughts. 

Placing his hands on the boy’s shoulder, Don said, ‘No, Will, I don’t think they did.’  

‘I don’t hear them,’ Murwon corroborated, his sadness palpable.  ‘I’m sorry, Will Robinson.’  

Tears can’t be seen in the ocean, but Klik knew they were there.  He swam next to Will and gently rubbed the boy’s chest.

 

                         _______________________________________

 

 

The smell of decayed leaves and rotting logs greeted Maureen’s slowly returning consciousness.  An insect buzzed in her ear, and various forest creatures squawked, squeaked and sang around her.  Insects?’ she thought in bemusement.  Rolling over and opening her eyes, she looked up through gauzy, blue-green leaves and saw a violet tinged, blue sky dotted with puffy clouds.  A slight breeze ruffled the leaves.  As she sat up, she was aware of the smell of new blossoms.   Somehow, the place seemed familiar, but she couldn’t figure out why.

We are safe, Maureen,’ Maggie’s assurance came drifting through her thoughts.  Maureen turned her head and looked into the flutter-dragon’s golden eyes. 

“But where?” Maureen asked.  A soft wheezing sound at her side caused her to look down.  John lay next to her; his breathing coming in ragged gasps, and in alarm, she realized he had almost reached the limit of his time out of water.  Jerking off her swimming glove, Maureen reached over and touched him on the cheek.  He looked so pale, so vulnerable.  They had to find water soon.   

I will look, Maureen,’ Maggie told her, spreading her gossamer wings and zipping off through the gray-barked trees.  Turning back to John, Maureen grabbed the front of his aqua suit and pulled him to a sitting position, letting him lean against a tree trunk.  It wasn’t much, but at least he would be able to breathe a little easier.   She undid and pulled off the headpiece of his aqua suit.   

“Oh, John,” she murmured, pushing an errant lock out of his eyes.  He muttered something, and then returned to total unconsciousness.  Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Silverado, lying in a heap near John’s feet, looking more gray than silver.  Maureen picked the zanling up and examined him.  He was still alive, but very deeply asleep, so she laid him on John’s lap.   She wondered what was wrong with him and then remembered that Maggie had told her about his teleportation to the Jupiter II.  But to teleport them all to this other place was almost beyond comprehension.  No wonder he’s so ashen,’ she thought, still astonished at Silverado’s abilities.  

Maureen prayed that the little blue lizard would succeed in her quest. Her thoughts turned to the children and she wondered if they would know that she and John were alive.  In despair, she felt that they wouldn’t.  ‘How can they?’ she thought, bitterly.  ‘The installation was blowing up around us.’   The only thing she could think to do was to wait.  Sitting down next to John, she laid her head lightly on his shoulder, listening to his labored breathing.  She began feeling the familiar discomfort in her chest, and made herself breathe as evenly as she could.  Had Silverado brought them from the frying pan to the fire, she wondered?

Maggie flew back and landed on her knee.  There is a small stream nearby.  It is not much, but it will help,’ the flutter dragon announced, pointing her tail in the direction they needed to take. 

Thank you, Maggie.  Anything will help.  Now we just need to get there,’ Maureen said.   Turning to John, she shook him gently.  “John, you have to wake up,” she said shaking him a bit more forcefully.  His eyes opened slowly, finally focusing on her.  “John, Maggie says there is water nearby, but I can’t carry you.  You have to help me.”

He nodded and grasped her hand.  Then his gaze swept over the still form in his lap.  His eyes showed his alarm as he reached down and touched Silverado. 

“He’s alive, dear, only unconscious,” she told him softly.  Maggie flew over and dropped onto his lap, squeaking softly.  Silverado finally raised his head and blinked sleepily at her, almost immediately laying his head back down on John’s lap.  He didn’t even chirp when Maureen picked him up and placed him on her shoulder, where he draped lethargically. 

Using Maureen’s outstretched hand, John pulled himself up.     He leaned against the tree, panting, and then he let Maureen guide him through the trees, and down a gentle slope.  “Where are we?” he asked, almost inaudibly.

“I don’t know, John, but it sure isn’t ssHreana, unless there were land areas that Murreena didn’t tell us about.  We’ll find water soon, and then we can figure that mystery out.”  

Their progress was slow, and Maureen agonized at their snail’s pace.  John’s steps faltered and slowed, and he alternated hanging on to her for support and hanging on to the numerous trees along their way.  “I’m sorry, dear,” he murmured between breaths.

“We’ll get there, just keep walking,” she said gently, keeping the desperation out of her voice.  Maggie!  How close are we?’

Very close, Maureen, I can hear the sound of water,’ the zanling informed her. 

“Thank heavens!” she said.  “John, Maggie says we are almost there.”

‘Go ahead, Mo.  I’ll follow.’

‘Don’t be asinine, John,’ she snapped. ‘Together.  We go together.  Come on.  Hang on to me.’

‘Yes, dear,’ he answered meekly. 

Maureen felt the slightest tendril of humor in his thoughts, but most importantly, he held on to her as she continued toward the source of their succor.  Soon she heard the gentle murmuring of water ahead of them, and she accelerated her speed slightly.  Apparently John heard it, too; he quickened his pace to match hers.   The trees cleared out and they found themselves standing over a crystal clear, sparkling stream.  But Maggie had been right; it was small.  It would have to suffice, however, until they could find a lake or river. 

Gratefully, John stumbled into the stream, which was no more than a foot deep at its deepest.  Falling to his knees, he let himself collapse face forward, where he was able to pull the water into his lungs, feeling the rejuvenating rush of oxygen in his system.  Finally he felt refreshed, and reluctantly pulling himself out of the stream, sat on a boulder nearby, shaking his head and making the droplets fly.  “This damned thing comes off as soon as we return,” he growled, feeling slightly undignified.  He stared into the stream while Maureen followed his example. 

Suddenly John began laughing.  It began softly, a chuckle deep in his throat and then gained in volume until he was laughing hard enough to wipe the tears from his eyes. 

Refreshed herself, Maureen looked up at him, puzzled, but his laughter was contagious and her eyes sparkled in amusement. 

“Sitting in the middle of a creek with our heads under water just struck me as being ludicrously funny.  We are in a rather strange predicament, you know,” he said, still chuckling.  Reaching his hand out to his wife, John helped her out of the stream and put his hand around her waist.  They both stood watching the deep golden sun shining through the tree limbs as it traveled toward its rendezvous with the distant hills. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven
Chapter One
Lost in Space Fiction
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