Planet of Tranquility
After a silence that seemed to stretch into
eternity, Silverado squeaked loudly and launched himself into the air.
‘Books and music,’ he
“What do you mean, Silverado?” Maureen asked.
most relaxed when reading to the baby or listening to music with you,
Maureen,” Silverado explained.
“You mean a focal point? Something to focus on?” Maureen asked, excited.
“Yes, music, John. I have read that if you can focus on music then it’s much
easier to excise unwanted thoughts from the mind.
Nothing really scientific about it, but it works.”
certainly willing to try. I
feel that I could eventually focus enough to build a shield against
unwanted ‘clutter,’ but time is something I don’t think we have a
great deal of right now. What
should we try?’
how about that piece that you had on the CD player after we were finally
reunited,” Maureen suggested.
Shade of Pale?” Yes.
Would you care to dance, dear heart?’ John
asked tenderly, realizing the wisdom of her suggestion and wanting
something sedate and sane in the recent days of insanity.
“I don’t have that one, John,” the elder
“Don’t need it, Dad,” John said softly,
standing up from the couch, his eyes only on Maureen.
Suddenly in everyone’s head, the haunting melody played, even
to the gentle tone of piano keys and the strains of a keyboard.
Taking his wife’s hand, John pulled her out to an open space,
and led her in a slow dance, focusing on the music and beyond that, a
shield to hold out the peripheral, unimportant thoughts.
The melody became part of the shield, a barricade to the fear,
anger and despair that had beat against his consciousness.
Maureen kept her thoughts still, knowing that her husband needed
no distractions while he worked. She
felt comfort in the warm closeness of his body, his strong arms and the
steady beating of his heart, even though she knew his mind was busy
“Thank you, darling,” John finally murmured,
after the song had repeated itself in their minds three times.
he told the lizard.
“I think I have a handle on it now.
I’ll have to work on lowering and raising my shield at will,
though. Have to do it on
“Best place to do that is the Jupiter II.
Don and Will are the only ones on board, other than the
robots,” Maureen suggested.
“We can also send out for help from there.”
Nodding, John turned to his father.
“Dad, I seem to have been coming home lately under the worst of
circumstances. This time I came because when I was unable to cope with
everything hitting me at once, my only thought was of home.
Maybe it was the home of my past, with Mom alive and things
seemingly simpler, but still this is where my subconscious brought me.
Thanks for being here for me, both of you,” he said, looking
also at Roberta.
“My dear, I think we need to head to our present
home,” he said to Maureen, and then stopped, gazing at her.
“This trip took it out of you, didn’t it?” he asked,
concerned, realizing that he was not feeling the heaviness in his chest
that his wife was. John
pondered and suddenly was aware of the internal workings of the
bio-adaptive device, and knew that it was having no effect on his body.
The flame crystal had negated its effects. Thinking on his trip to get Maureen, he contemplated the
power of the crystal that was now a part of his body, and was
“Yes, dear, I just hope that Don and Will fixed
up a suitable place to replenish,” she quipped.
Without a word, John held his hand over her
device, concentrating on the mechanism and the biological changes that
it induced in her body. He
felt Silverado’s mind lending strength and direction to his own.
When he pulled his hand away, the small device came with it.
Her chest heaved, and her eyes showed great
relief. Looking at him in
something akin to awe, she said, “Thank you, dear.”
It felt so good to breathe the air and not suffer the desperate
need for oxygen that she had felt lately whenever she was out of the
water. She sighed, reveling
in the feel of ‘regular’ air.
Reaching behind his head, John carefully pulled
his own device away. “Keep
yours, Maureen. You may
need it again when we return,” he said.
“It’s a simple mechanism working in conjunction with the
brain. It was a simple
matter of looking inside its workings and turning it off, just as the
technicians would have done at the Homeplace with an electrical device.
Silverado showed me how to probe its inner workings,” he
explained before she could ask.
“My mind had already done it subconsciously without my
Looking up at his father, he just smiled. “I
don’t know what the end result of all this will be, but I fully intend
on traveling straight to Alpha Centauri after this little foray is over.
In the meantime, give this to the boy wonders at Alpha Control.
They’ll love working on something like this,” John said with
Frank Robinson covered the short distance across
the living room and took his youngest son in his arms. “Johnny, I just want you to be careful. I hear they have an exploratory scout craft on Alpha Centauri
and it makes periodic contact with Alpha Control.
When you get there, call home, will you? I’m getting too old
for all this heart stopping foo foo rah.”
I’ll make sure and do that,” John promised. Roberta gave him a hug, her tears near the surface.
Both Robinsons hugged Maureen and then the couple was standing
together with nothing left to say.
Suddenly they were gone. The
only sounds were the ticking of the clock and Frodo’s soft purring as
he wrapped himself around his master’s ankles.
“Don, can we contact the Homeplace now and find
out if Judy, Penny and Mark are all right?” Will asked plaintively.
are on the same wavelength, Will,” Don answered, switching on the
“There’s no need, Don. Everyone except Murreena’s podmate, Murwon, is fine,”
came an unexpected voice behind them.
Pivoting around, the pilot was astonished to see John and Maureen
standing arm in arm next to the navigational console.
The Robot’s bubble head snapped upward to its full extension in
surprise and then back down again.
“Mom! Dad!” Will shouted, running and hugging
both. “I was so
worried about you. Did you
go to Krimlon? Or Earth?”
“Both.” he said, ruffling his son’s hair. Silverado lifted his head up and squeaked dramatically.
“What is the status of the Zrilons now?
When I was down on ssMrillorrin, the Zrilons had just left and
everyone was berating themselves about it.”
“They are just reaching the fringes of this
solar system, Professor Robinson,” the Robot intoned.
“They must be pretty sure of themselves or we
were gone for a shorter time than we thought we were,” John said,
walking over to the long distance scanners and making some adjustments.
“Hmm, how many ships did they have?”
“Two large ones,” Don answered.
“There’s about a dozen ships out there now.”
“Hot damn!” Don cried. “That bunch from the Confederation was quick.”
John looked at his friend for a moment, nodded and
then gazed at the Robot. “Very
good thinking, my friend. Looks
as though this might be solved easier than I had previously thought.”
still have to go on board and physically destroy the crystals.
And it needs to be done before they can install them into their
weapons systems,’ Silverado reminded him.
“I was afraid you would say that,” John
replied wryly. “Let’s
go, then. Surely the
Zrilons will not sit around with a shipment of these crystals without
trying them in their weapons systems,” John said decisively.
Turning, he saw Maureen behind him.
She flung herself into his arms and kissed him
fiercely, her lips saying what she didn’t trust her voice to tell him.
Finally she drew back. “John,
come back,” was all she could say, feeling an ominous foreboding about
all of this.
“Of course I will, Mo,” he said huskily.
He felt her misgivings. Finally
he drew back, brushing an errant red lock of hair off of her forehead
with one finger. “I love you and I will be back.
I promise you, dearest, I will be back,” he added fervently.
“Prowlith just called and said she will provide
whatever support you may need. I
took the liberty of explaining a little of your ‘mission’ to her,”
Maureen said, still holding on to his hand.
Reluctantly letting go of Maureen’s hand, he
gathered his thoughts and concentrated. Silverado fluttered over to his
shoulder and added his telepathic strength to that of his bondling.
In the blink of an eye they were gone and Maureen was left
staring at the space on the deck where John had just stood.
Commander Llriloris stared in shock when a human
and zanling suddenly, without any warning, appeared before him and
Commander Prowlith. He half
started out of his chair, his hand on the sidearm resting at his hip,
when Prowlith growled a friendly greeting.
“Commander Robinson, well met!”
Llriloris continued getting up, but extended his
hand in the greeting universal with most humanoids. “Commander Robinson, welcome aboard, although I wish I had
had better warning of your arrival.
Am I to understand that you are planning on going aboard and
destroying the kenno flame crystals single handedly?”
“So to speak, Commander. The crystals can only be destroyed by another crystal.
I assimilated a crystal on ssMrillorrin, which means that only I
can destroy the others. Silverado is accompanying me to help me telepathically
trigger the destruction,” John explained.
“May the deities go with you,” Llriloris
“Thank you, Commander,” John commented with an
appreciative smile. “I am
unfamiliar with the layout of the Zrilon ships.
I need a safe place to teleport to; somewhere near the most
likely storage of the crystals.”
“Yes,” the commander said, turning to a blank
wall. “Computer, show
diagrams of the most likely places of crystal storage.”
The wall suddenly transformed itself into a graphic
representation of a Zrilon ship, zeroing in on a small cargo hold just
below the command deck.
“Seems the captain doesn’t trust anyone else
to keep an eye on the crystals,” John commented wryly.
“Won’t make the job any easier….
Another map appeared, this time showing living quarters for the
ship’s officers. John
sighed. “I’ll start
there. Probably less congested.”
Several other diagrams appeared, in order of their probability of
usage for the crystals.
“Remember, Commander Robinson, the Zrilon ships
are built with only five foot head space.
The zanling will have an easy time of it, but you had better