Planet of Tranquility

 

Chapter Twelve

Conquest Begins

 

Qurilis, the current leader of the gifted ones, keeper of the old ways, and largest of the race of zanlings closed his golden eyes and sighed.  The humans would most certainly need help.  The young one, the one bonded to the human leader, had been unable to get the little group close to the caverns.  He sighed again, then raggedly drew in a breath.  Aging was glorious up to a point, he decided, but now his body was interfering with life’s pleasures.  Mentally, he chided himself.  He should have been able to help the little one get them here.  He should have been able to give him clearer instructions.  Events on the water planet had taken him by surprise, but Qurilis was gratified that the young one was learning so quickly.

Brixel, take several mounts and go meet the Guardian and his beloved.  They will need your assistance getting here,’ he instructed his Krimlon attendant.   The young man was somewhat short, with red hair, slightly pointed ears and a bright smile. 

“We will set out immediately, Lord Qurilis,” he said, then did a double take.  “The Guardian?”

Yes, one of those you are meeting is the Guardian.  Once you find them, you will have to hurry back.  Their lives may depend on your speed.  Do you understand?' 

“Yes, my lord,” Brixel said with a slight bow, quickly leaving the room. 

The deference of these non-gifted Krimlon refugees was somewhat annoying at times, but soon that would be a moot point.  The old would pass, as they had on K’rt’rm and the young ones would soon be ready to usher in, what Qurilis hoped, would be a new era of peaceful coexistence between the gifted and the non-gifted.   Closing his eyes, he concentrated on the little group camped for the night near the south end of this valley of refuge.  He was deeply troubled.  The bonding had been right, the progress of the zanling prince-in-waiting better than expected, but it appeared there was a price.  The Guardian had suffered from the severe strain of events associated with the bonding.  Even though he had adapted well enough, Qurilis would have to ponder what he could do to help John Robinson. 

Garis,’ he called.  Another Krimlon approached from the outer chamber and bowed.  I wish to be left totally alone until the arrival of the prince-in-waiting and his entourage.  I have need of much meditation,’ Qurilis instructed. 

“Yes, my lord,” Garis answered and left.   Qurilis knew his desires would be strictly obeyed.  Laying his golden head down on his resting pad, he alternately dozed and meditated. 

                                 _________________________

 

John stretched quickly, trying to ease the stiffness out of his aching back, before he placed his hands once more at the top of the fire drill.  Maureen’s hands reached the bottom and he took over, the spinning of the long wooden stick continuing in a never wavering action.  Maureen waited until his hands worked their way down to the bottom again, and then she took over.  “What I wouldn’t give for a box of matches right now,” she commented wryly.   Maggie chirped penitently. 

“It’s not your fault I sent you out on a wild goose chase,” John told the little lizard, referring to her search for flint-like stones.   “But right now, I sure do wish you had more dragon than flutter.”   Maggie gave a puzzled squeak and John showed her a quick vision of a fire-breathing dragon.  The little blue zanling chirped in astonishment.  John laughed as he took his turn once more on the fire drill.  “No, what I showed you only exists in fantasy stories, Maggie.” 

After what seemed an eternity, a red glow began to show at the bottom of the stick, and a short while later tiny tendrils of light-colored smoke became visible in the darkness.  A miniscule flame bolstered their hopes and caused renewed efforts.   As John continued spinning the drill, Maureen began blowing softly and feeding tinder to the newly created fire.   Soon John lay back on the ground, a satisfied look on his face.  The crackling fire was small, but it was enough to give not only light, but comfort.  Maureen nestled up against his shoulder and soon felt his strong arm encircling her body.  Silverado woke up long enough to crawl on to John’s chest and curl up again.  Maggie snuggled up between Maureen and the fire.

“I told you I could do it,” he commented with a wry grin.  “But I was beginning to have doubts.  Actually, my dear, if you hadn’t been helping me, I wouldn’t have succeeded. ”

“It just would have taken you a little longer, my darling Boy Scout,” Maureen replied with a smile.   

“I’m getting too old for the ‘little longer’ part.  Thanks for helping.”  

A long silence ensued, broken only by the sounds of local wildlife, none of which sounded dangerous.  The fire gave the couple the feeling of protection against any potentially harmful creatures.  John sat up, displacing the somnolent Silverado, who squeaked, opened one eye and then curled up on the ground.  After placing a few broken limbs on the fire, John turned to Maureen.  “You remember how I got rid of Mizel’s device?” he asked. 

“Yes, dear, I do, but that won’t work with these devices,” she said, knowing his desire even without telepathy.  She listened and heard him wheezing, indicated that he would need to make a trip to the pond soon.  “Mizel’s apparatus was primarily an instrument of pain and control.  These bio-adaptation devices are more complex.  They actually change certain biological workings in the recipient’s body.   Their removal requires the services of a trained medical technician,” she explained. 

“I knew that, but one could hope.  I feel a bit helpless, being tied to the water on a strange world that doesn’t seem to have a great deal of it, at least not in this part anyway.  We would be better off without them.”

“I know, John,” Maureen said with a sigh.  She was beginning to feel the familiar discomfort as well.  “This is a very useful tool, but you’re right.  We are about as out of place here as a camel in the bayou.” 

“Plays hell on l’amor, too,” he added, feeling the desires borne of proximity with his wife, but tempered by the distress messages his body was sending him.   Sighing lustily, he leaned over and kissed Maureen tenderly.  “I’ll be right back.  I have a pond to visit,” he murmured. 

“I do, too.  I’ll join you,” she said.  “Maggie, watch the fire.”

As they carefully walked the short distance to the little pond, Maureen took his hand.  “John, I know this is hard on you.  I wish I had some way to teleport us back to the kids right now.”

He stopped and pulled her close to him, running his hands through her hair, then he bent down and held her crushingly close to his body.  Ignored was the discomfort he was beginning to feel; the only thing that was important to him at that moment was Maureen.  Her closeness was a comfort, and his fingers, his hands, his lips drank in her physical presence; his mind was filled with her caring, and her love.  It was now that he was glad she had come back for him.  He needed her; needed her desperately.   His desire was an ache in his chest; an ache that had nothing to do with the needs that an alien device imposed on his respiratory system.

When they pulled away from each other, they were panting slightly.  “Oh, John,” she murmured.  Hand in hand they continued to the water, where they replenished their bodies’ needs for oxygen.   They swam languidly underwater, enjoying the warmth of the water against their faces. 

John felt tendrils of Maureen’s playfulness and desire.  Unzipping the wet suit and slipping out of it, he swam the short distance to the surface and tossed it on shore.  Maureen’s followed quickly.  Maureen mentally laughed at the condition of his tee shirt, which had partly sacrificed itself to the making of the fire drill.   It followed the suit.  The water caressed them, added a new dimension to their pleasure.   They swam next to each other; their thoughts entwined, until the moon, which had risen just before the setting of the sun, itself set in the west.  Finally they walked out onto the tiny spit of land, their skin raising goose bumps as the chill air wafted around them.   

Huddled close to each other, they danced over the cold ground back to their campsite and sat close to the fire.  As John added more wood, he noted in satisfaction that Maggie had added enough small branches to keep it going during their sojourn in the pond.  Cuddled close to Maureen, their underwater suits draped over their bodies, John felt his desires explode like the dry limbs feeding their little fire.   

Maureen, I love you,’ he declared and drew her close to him once again. 

She felt the white-hot passion of his thoughts and the heat of his body as he held her close, then her own passion, her love for him flamed so strongly that she felt tears of joy well up in her eyes.  

Maggie cheeped softly and hopped over to the fire where Silverado was sleeping, curling up next to his body, her tail entwining around his.  He squeaked softly in his exhaustion and laid his head on her neck.   

                                                          ___________________

 

The next morning, Maggie raised her head and squeaked pensively.   The sun was just peeking up over the horizon and Maureen was still snuggled tightly in the arms of her beloved.  The zanling saw the little puffs of their breath and was glad that they had put their suits back on.  Shivering slightly, she noticed in gratitude that Silverado had his tail entwined around her neck.  Feeling movement, he opened one golden eye.   Qurilis called.  There are men coming to take us to the home caves,’ she informed the silver zanling.  

‘Yes, I heard as I came out of sleep.  But I am worried.’

‘Yes, I am, too.  The journey is longer than they have breath for,’ she told him.  Even with the help of those coming.’

‘It is my fault.  I should have taken us all the way to the caves,’ Silverado said bitterly, recrimination heavy in his thoughts.  ‘This power scares me.  John is not well because of us.’

Maggie rubbed her head under his chin to reassure him.  Why are you so hard on yourself?  John is all right.  It is a human thing and not just because of us.  And it is impossible to learn everything at once.   We must learn a little at a time.  You did well bringing us here, saving us from death.’  She paused for a moment before continuing.  ‘And it must be possible to make the trip or the Gifted One would not have made the request.’  

‘I suppose,’ Silverado tentatively agreed.  We will let our bondlings sleep a little longer.’  The two lizards sat basking in the morning sun before flying into the forest for refreshment.  Silverado flew stiffly and slowly, but felt better than he had the previous day.   An hour later, when the pair returned, he flew over to his friend, who was still asleep.  Soon he had positioned himself on John’s chest and was peering into his bondling’s face.  John.  Wake up.’ 

The human’s waking was, unlike several weeks ago, pleasant and soothing.  Grumbling at the intrusion, but nevertheless obeying it, John immediately found himself looking directly into the golden eyes of his friend.   “Well, what’s so important that you have to drag me from the most pleasant dream I’ve had in days,” he complained.

Qurilis is sending a group to take us to the home caves.”

“Home caves?  Qurilis?” John asked, puzzled, still half asleep. 

‘Qurilis is the oldest of all the zanlings.  Centuries old.  He helped me find the way here,’ Silverado explained.  I only wish I had been better and taken us all the way to the caves.  It will be a hard journey.' 

You saved us, my friend.  For that I am grateful.  The rest we can overcome.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.’  John carefully extricated himself from Maureen’s somnolent embrace and climbed to the top of the rock formation near which they had camped.  He looked in the direction Silverado indicated then looked up at the sun.  A small cloud of dust in the distance gave an indication of the approach of their escort.  Silverado was right, it would be a difficult journey.  Looking toward the mid-morning sun, he felt its glare like some alien thing trying to suck out his living breath.  Stop it,’ he admonished himself.   Quickly clambering down, he kneeled near Maureen's sleeping form and, bending over, tenderly kissed her on the forehead. 

Her eyes opened, awareness returned, and reaching up, she pulled him closer to her.   “What a wake up call, John,” she finally said. 

“We’re going to have company in a couple of hours.  Want to freshen up in the pond?”

“Yes, my love,” she said.  She was feeling the familiar heaviness in her chest.  Looking up, she saw a pensive look on her husband’s face. “John, I don’t have to be telepathic to sense that you’re troubled.  What is it?  They aren’t enemies are they?”

“Oh, no.  They’re friends, an escort from granddaddy zanling, Qurilis.  I get the impression from Silverado that he’s the key to getting back to ssMrillorrin and the children,” John explanation.  “It’s just that the day is looking to be very hot and the distance to Qurilis’ home caves is long.” 

“We’ll make it fine,” she said with a determined tone in her voice.  “Whatever it takes to get back to the children, I’ll do it.”

Seeing the look in her eyes, John had to agree.  If willpower had anything to do with it, they would already be back on ssMrillorrin.  “I stand corrected, Mrs. Robinson.  How could I doubt your resolve?” he asked with a chuckle.  As they walked to the pool, he heard his stomach growling, and realized that they had had nothing to eat for at least a full day.  Calling to Maggie, he indicated their needs and watched with satisfaction as she zipped off into the small forest on the slope.

 

 

 

Chapter Thirteen
Chapter One
Lost in Space Fiction
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