Planet of Tranquility

 

 

 

Chapter Fifteen

Controlling the Tiger Within

 

 

After many hours of worry, wonder and solitude, Maureen felt John stirring and she took his hand.  His thoughts were confused, full of emotion, and full of tension.  She sent him soothing mental images; let him feel her presence in is mind, her feelings of love for him.  His confusion eased, his thoughts seemed calmer and clearer.  Slowly John opened his eyes and gazed at her, taking in every feature as though he wanted to imprint her entirety into his mind.  “When we go back, Silverado has to use a crystal to enhance his telepathic powers and destroy the other crystals before the Zrilon can utilize them.”  He looked down at her hand, which was still caressing his own and curled his fingers around hers. 

“You’re troubled, John.  Don’t you think Silverado can do it?”

“Yes, he can probably do it.  I’m just worried about the effect it will have on him.  He is still only in the second stage of development, something akin to adolescence.  That kind of pressure shouldn’t be laid at a child’s feet.”

“I know, dear, but the bond that you two share will get him through this,” she reassured him.   

They swam to the edge of the lake and walked onto the bank.  Pulling Maureen closer to him, he murmured, “You are usually right about these things, darling, so I will trust you on this, too.”  

Suddenly Silverado was hovering in front of him, his gossamer wings beating fiercely, his eyes bright with anxiety.  ‘It has happened, John.  The Zrilon have invaded ssMrillorrin and taken the crystals.  Qurilis says that we must return now.’

 

                                         ______________________

 

“Do not resist and we will allow you to live,” the Zrilon translator intoned.   Every inch of Murwon’s body indicated a barely bridled tension.  Judy floated near Murreena, who had placed her hand on her lifemate’s arm, trying to calm him.  The Zrilon undersea transports had arrived with amazing speed, a speed that precluded setting a charge to destroy the mining site.  Now it was too late. 

‘You do not understand,’ Murwon said, his thoughts almost pleading.  ‘You are dealing with something very dangerous, too dangerous for any one race to try to control.’

“Yes, it is dangerous,” Kurilis smirked.  “Dangerous for anyone who dares to defy our soldiers, our race.  And make no mistake, we will control it.”

Please, let us talk about it, let us reason together,’ Murwon pleaded, pulling away from Murreena and slowly approaching the Zrilon leader, his hand out, and his eyes begging.  

Kurilis swung a foreclaw up and fired a quick blast from his laser pistol at Murwon.  A sharp mental cry from the injured ssHreana was cut off.  Another cry of anguish sounded from Murreena, who swam to her husband and pulled him close to her.  Kurilis aimed once more.   

‘Please, don’t shoot.  She is only trying to aide her lifemate.  Let her take him to their homeplace,’ Judy begged, anguished at the horrible scene in front of her.  A small wound in Murwon’s chest seeped fluid.  Murreena tried unsuccessfully to stop the flow.   

“Get him out of here, but no one else interfere or I might be forced to be more violent.  Everyone leave the area, now! But be aware, our orbiting ships are capable of firing weapons that can reach your homeplaces, if you try to do anything to stop us, or if you try to call for help,” Kurilis said harshly before turning away to the mining site.   

Judy swam over to Murreena and Murwon, helping to carry the injured man to safety.  As soon as they were far enough away from the invaders, Judy started up a four-passenger scooter and helped Murreena get Murwon on board.  The trip to the home place hospital was quick, but as she watched the wounded ssHreana man, she felt it would never end.   

As the ssHreana doctors worked desperately to save Murwon, she stayed close by Murreena, trying her best to comfort her friend, but feeling inadequate at the same time.   

‘He is very gravely injured, but we will continue to administer to him.  We cannot tell if he will make it or not, though,’ a doctor finally reported to the two women.   

‘He will make it Murreena.  I’m sure of it,’ Judy reassured Murreena after the doctor had left.   

‘If it is so willed, Judy,’ the ssHreana woman murmured.  ‘But I thank you for your sentiments.  Let me stay with him, you go and tend to your little one.  I sense his needs.’   Judy nodded and left the hospital, swimming toward the main meeting hall where Penny and Mark were waiting.  

As Judy took Mark from Penny, several ssHreana arrived from the mining site to report the departure of the Zrilon expeditionary force.  The atmosphere was subdued, but there were no communications, since there was nothing that could be said.  Then to the absolute shock of everyone in the undersea habitation, John, Maureen and their zanlings suddenly appeared before them.  

Mom!  Dad!  You’re back!  You’re safe!’ Judy and Penny said almost simultaneously.   Then they grabbed their parents in fierce hugs.  Mark squealed with delight, as he was pressed close between his mother and his grandparents. 

‘Where’s Will and Don?’ John asked.   

‘They went up to the Jupiter II to get something to try and defend us, but we assume that they were held there by the Zrilon.  We should be hearing from them soon,’ Judy said.  

‘We must get to the mining site,’ Silverado interjected, but the look in his golden eyes gave indication that he already knew the truth.    

One of the ssHreana shook his head.  ‘The Zrilon have gone and they have taken all of the kenno crystals with them.  They just left orbit and are traveling out of our solar system,’ the ssHreana told the zanling.   

‘I cannot do what must be done.  I have failed!’ Silverado moaned.   

‘What is it you had to do?’ Judy asked.   Mark was playing with a floating strand of his mother’s hair, seemingly oblivious to the tension around him.   

‘He had to use one of the crystals to enhance his telepathic abilities and destroy the rest of them,’ John answered for the lizard.  

‘But there is a crystal left.  We sealed two in a protective casing to study after the rest had been buried.  It is in a safety vault,’ a ssHreana told the group. 

‘Must get one, now!’ Silverado ordered.  Soon the tiny box was set on a bench and carefully opened.  It showed reddish white in its cushioned container, almost pulsing.  Silverado swam over to it, John following closely.  Penny watched, holding her breath.  The flutter-dragon reached out, and fastened his small hands around the crystal.   

Instantly waves of heat/pain flowed through John’s mind.  ‘Silverado.  Calm down,’ John told him, trying to send soothing messages to his bondling’s mind, which churned with pain, fear and confusion.  

Can’t.  Won’t let me use it,’ Silverado wailed, his emotions raging.  John tried to delve into the little lizard’s mind and saw that he was right.  And he was able to understand why the zanling couldn’t bond with the kenno crystal.  Silverado was too immature physically to accept the crystal, his brain was not developed enough to make the synaptic connections. 

‘Silverado, let go of it.  You are not able to make the link.  Your body is not mature enough.  You will hurt yourself if you keep trying.  Let go,’ John coaxed.   Finally, with a cry of despair, Silverado opened his hands and let the kenno crystal drop.  John caught it as it sank to the ocean floor.  Suddenly he experienced a cool, tingling sensation, flowing all through his body, then a feeling as though his right hand had suddenly turned to putty.  Looking down, he stretched out his fingers and watched in fascination and horror as the crystal finished absorbing into his body.  

It was like the calm before a cataclysmic storm.  There was no movement except for that of an occasional fish swimming near the periphery of the group.  None of the humanoids moved, all seemed rooted in shock, staring at John, who was still gaping at his hand.  The tingling continued to course through his body.   

John?’ came Maureen’s tentative questing thought, then….  

FAILED…MURWON, DON’T DIE…ZRILONS WON…

ZRILONS….

 

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?  WHAT CAN WE DO?

 CURSED

ZRILONS!    THEIR BONES ROT IN BRISHLEF!  

                        CAN DO NOTHING…NOTHING….  

WE CAN DO NOTHING BUT SWIM IDLY AND WAIT…

WAIT FOR THEM TO COME BACK TO

DESTROY

US ALL….

TO MAKE US SLAVES          

                                    ANGER,

DESPAIR,

FAILURE….

 

                                                                                                FEAR, FEAR, FEAR!’

 

                                           FEAR!

   

John tried desperately to shield out the cacophony; the hurricane of emotions, telepathic communications and private thoughts, but it was like stopping a tidal wave with a teaspoon.  He felt himself being carried along in a tsunami, a wave every bit as real as the one that almost destroyed the Jupiter II.  He couldn't erect a shield, couldn’t keep out the unwanted mental baggage, couldn’t think…couldn’t reason.  

He felt battered, beaten, like a prisoner being sent through a gauntlet; each emotion, each communication a stick beating at his mind, torturing him, and the more he tried to retreat, the harder the ‘sticks’ seemed to beat on him.   

Go away,’ he moaned softly to himself.  Leave me alone…please.’  Memories came unbidden.  He was suddenly in a schoolyard where he was taunted because his generic jeans had a hole in them.   In the gym where coach was telling him to go back to his books, he was too awkward to ever be a good football player.  On the field where his father showed his disappointment when he didn’t do his best, his expression of his unconditional love causing more guilt than the words had, and his mother’s gentle admonitions.    Home… a place of refuge, a place of peace, a place….  

John.  JOHN!’  

Home, peaceful, restful quiet home…  A sudden lurching feeling in his stomach paralleled a shutting off of the chaos battering him.  And then as he began to breathe a mental sigh of relief, the barrage hit him again, even harder than before.  

Vaguely, John realized he was breathing air and not water, and he slowly opened his eyes to see his father and sister, Roberta, staring at him in wide-eyed shock.  He had brought himself home—home to earth.  Even here, the waves of mental and emotional turmoil kept beating at him, relentlessly.  He felt he must be feeling and hearing everyone’s thoughts in a hundred-mile radius.  Illogically, he covered his ears with his hands, stumbling backward until a credenza stopped him.  Remotely, he was aware of the water pooling beneath him.  

“Johnny!  Oh, good Lord, what’s wrong?  John?” he heard his father cry out.    

His knees buckled and he slid to the thick carpet, where he lay moaning softly.  Caring arms surrounded him, but he was unable to respond.   Shield, got to shield!  Oh, God, help me stop this!’   He felt Roberta’s and his father’s concern in a small niche of the thousands of voices clamoring for attention, but he couldn’t focus on them.  Focus.  Focus.  FOCUS!’   But instead of clarity and concentration, John felt himself slip from consciousness, the blackness of oblivion his one great solace.  

“Roberta, can you tell what’s wrong?  Is he…?” Frank Robinson asked.    

“No, Dad, he’s alive, although his heart seems to be racing.  His breathing is very shallow, and… what the heck is this?” Roberta’s fingers hovered over the hard shape of the bio-adaptive device. 

 

 

 

Chapter Sixteen
Chapter One
Lost in Space Fiction
Main Page