Planet of Tranquility

 

 

Chapter Eighteen-

Destruction and Mayhem

 

 

Facing the view screen, John closed his eyes and concentrated on the schematics he had been shown.  Suddenly his eyes snapped open and he staggered back a step.  He felt a drawing force, something pulling at him, followed by an answering heat from within his own body.  Looking down at his hand, he saw a slight pulsing similar to what had occurred when he had assimilated the crystal.  “I should have realized.  I could have found the crystals by attraction,” he murmured.  Silverado squeaked in confirmation of the discovery.  Turning, he found Prowlith at his side. 

“Are you all right?  You seem flushed,” she asked.  

“Yes.  I just discovered that we don’t need to guess where the crystals are.  I just have to follow this,” John explained, holding up his hand.   “We’d better go now, before the Zrilons decide to use the crystals to enhance their weapons before they get to their home planet.”  

Sitting down on the deck, he concentrated again.  The answering warmth seemed to grow in intensity and suddenly he felt a change in temperature and atmosphere.  Opening his eyes, he found himself in a small cabin, someone’s living quarters and he guessed this was the captain’s room.  It was devoid of life forms and very austere in furnishings.  A small cabinet glowed from the far side of the room and John got up and approached in a crouching position.  This would get old, he decided, quickly reaching the box and trying to determine its contents without opening it.  Never could tell when something that valuable might be booby-trapped.  He tapped into the power of the crystal inside him and felt its answering heat.  

It contained flame crystals and a device.  Silverado, let’s see if we can accomplish this without opening the box.  It seems to be protected.’  

‘Concentrate on the crystals, John.  I will use what Qurilis taught me and feed you the destruction frequencies,’ Silverado told him. 

John did as he was told and felt a white-hot heat surge through his body and into the hand that hovered just above the cabinet.  His breath quickened and he felt his heart racing.  Closing his eyes in concentration, he received the destruction formula and tied it with the power of the crystal inside him.  The heat flared to an intensity just short of pain, and a visual image of the destruction glowed against his closed eyelids. 

John!  John!  Wake up!’ Silverado screamed in his head.  With a slight groan, John returned to full consciousness and saw a small pile of slag on the floor in front of him.   

How long have I been out?’ he asked, still a bit groggy.  His hand ached.

Just a couple of minutes.  How do you feel?’

‘A bit wasted, if you want to know the truth.  Let’s get out of here,’ John said.  

Check for more, John.  This didn’t seem like enough crystals to be all of them,’ Silverado ordered.   

Of course,’ John answered with chagrin at his carelessness.  He still felt hot from the crystal’s destructive forces and reached up to unfasten the top of his flight suit.  Concentrating, he sought for more crystals and found evidence of another cache of them.  “Great,” he muttered.  Another store of the crystals near the command deck. Llriloris’ computer was accurate.  Let’s go.’  

Again John closed his eyes and concentrated on teleporting to the other cache, but was interrupted by the noise of the door opening.  A Zrilon sentry was just entering, his ciliated legs making little clicking noises on the slightly roughened decking.  Wasting no time on amenities, John made a leaping grab for the crab-like creature, landing with full force on top of the alien.  It flattened against the deck with a creaking thump and lay still.  The professor scrambled to his knees, grabbing the tiny weapon from the Zrilon’s claw-like hand and holding it on the still form.  

After reassuring himself that the creature was unconscious, John tucked the little weapon inside his belt and again resumed his position of intense concentration.  Feeling Silverado’s flow of strength made the task easier and after a few seconds John opened his eyes to an almost stygian darkness.  The air was even cooler here than in the captain’s cabin.  John shivered from the cold, zipping his silver suit all the way back up again, wishing these creatures would regulate their ship’s temperature.   A slight glow in front of him indicated the other store of crystals.   The pair went through the same routine, and although John didn’t loose consciousness this time, he felt a terrible lethargy sweeping through his body.  This time the heat didn’t make him uncomfortable, but he felt the sweat from his efforts trickling down his face. 

Let’s see if there are any more of these things,’ he said, and again concentrated.   It was harder to focus this time and it took longer.  There were more.   Onward, faithful companion…’  A clattering noise made him jump up, causing him to hit his head on the ceiling.  What the hell was that?  Are they on to us?’

‘I’m afraid our destruction of the other crystals has been discovered, John.  We must go to the other cache, destroy it and leave before more guards are posted,’ Silverado concurred. 

Without moving from his position, John closed his eyes and let the draw of the next cache of crystals pull him to them.  He felt increasingly tired and hoped this third cache was the last of them.   And cold… he felt so cold.  A clicking sound made him snap his eyes open, just in time to see two Zrilon sentries aiming their weapons at him.  Without thinking, John rolled to the ground at the same time jerking the tiny weapon out from his belt.   Aiming, he pushed the firing button and with a clattering noise, one of the aliens fell to the deck in a heap.  The blast of the other’s weapon seared the air above his head, and he heard a scream in his mind.  John continued his rolling motion in the low quarters, while trying to make contact with Silverado.   Firing the weapon again, he was satisfied when he saw the second Zrilon fall limp.   

Looking around him, he discovered Silverado motionless on the deck near his feet, one wing tip totally seared off.  Waves of pain radiated from the unconscious creature’s mind and John tried to send soothing communications to ease his friend’s suffering.  Tendrils of anger and frustration edged under his telepathic shield and the professor knew that his time to destroy these crystals was limited; reinforcements were on their way.  Taking the injured flutter-dragon into his hands, he concentrated on the Jupiter II.  The searing heat again washed through his body, dispelling the cold that had been intense enough to make him shiver.   

Suddenly his hands were empty, limp at his side, and he had to assume that Silverado was safe on board the Jupiter.  Turning to the small crate of crystals, he saw as well as felt the pulsing glow and reached his hand toward the cache.  He noticed, with chagrin that his fingers were trembling, but closing his eyes, he focused on the destruction of crystals.  It was so hard, so frustrating, he kept seeing Silverado’s limp form in his mind’s eye, kept feeling the penetrating cold.  Forcing everything else from his mind, he played the telepathic sequence that would cause the breakdown of the molecular pattern of the crystals in the small container. 

Sweat rolled into his eyes, down his neck and back.  Heat, welcome, comforting heat, came from inside him and from the heap of slag under his hand-- and from the laser blast that shot past his ear.   Opening his eyes with a snap, he threw himself over the destroyed crystals and behind larger crates.   Wiping his face with his sleeve, he listened for the sentries. Hearing the slight clattering of the ciliated legs approaching from around the crate, John padded behind yet another crate and tried to concentrate on other crystals.  He couldn’t leave until he knew.  Focus.  Focus!  Nothing.  The professor wished he knew if that meant no more crystals or just that he wasn’t able to concentrate well enough.    

A Zrilon appeared around the corner of the crate and John fired the little weapon, dropping his attacker instantly.  Reaching over he grabbed the other’s pistol, shoving it in his belt.  Again he tried to concentrate, feeling the warmth of the crystal inside him, but again there was no draw, no indication of other crystals and John assumed he and Silverado had found and destroyed them all.  Time to leave.   A laser bolt came from his other side, much too close for comfort.  Throwing himself to the side he blasted the sentry into unconscious oblivion. 

He had to get to a safe place; there were too many Zrilons.  As he tried to slip from one crate to another in his quest to make an escape, he found his route blocked, forcing him back into his corner.   Suddenly the ship shook and groaned.  Another sentry fired around his protective crate and John fired back, missing.  His position was too easily taken and he took the chance of rushing the guards on his right, diving over the smaller crate, his eyes darting around the room, trying to get the number and positions of each of the guards.  Firing as he dashed to a safer position, he realized morosely, that the only doorway into and out of the storage room was too well guarded.  Scuttling behind another crate, John felt it shudder with the combined shots of several guards. 

Panting, John sat against the bulkhead and tried to concentrate on watching for Zrilons.   He began shivering and held his free arm as close to his body as he could.  Then he tried to concentrate on teleporting himself back to Prowlith’s ship, without success.  Another concussion hit the ship and John wondered if the confederation had tired of waiting for either the Zrilon’s to surrender or for him to finish his job.  Perhaps the crab-like creatures had tired of the stalemate and had fired on the Confederation ships.   Whatever…

His eyes closed of their own volition and he leaned his head back against the bulkhead in complete exhaustion.

 

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“I am worried, Commander Llriloris.  We have not heard from Commander Robinson.  I fear something may have happened to them,” Prowlith said.   

“And I, for one, am tired of this waiting.  Hale them and give them until the next kentron to surrender.  We cannot sit here forever and, as you said, we haven’t heard from Commander Robinson.  If he is still working to destroy the crystals, this might be a welcome diversion,” Llriloris mused.   

The answer for the new demand of surrender was the detonation of a laser shot across the bow.  The ship rocked slightly, but remained steady otherwise.  “Check for damage.  Return fire, hit them on a one to three cycle; make sure you hit areas that will cause damage, but not the destruction of that ship.  Commander Robinson is probably still on board.  Raise our shields between salvos,” the commander ordered.   

The Zrilon ship rocked from the blasts, but there was no other indication that they had had any effect on them.  “Commander, the other ship is lowering its defensive shields.  Should we prepare for return fire?” a helmsman asked. 

“Yes, if they fire, return it on the same cycle we are already using.  Contact the launch bays and order the scouts to stand by,” came Llriloris’ quick reply.  For several minutes the only sound was of computers, murmured reports being sent and received and slight movement of the ship as shock waves hit her periodically.

Prowlith stood near Llriloris, her claws gripping the back of the command chair in a deadly grip.  Her tail lashed her agitation, her tufted ears moved back and forth.  John Robinson, what is happening to you?  Why don’t you return, contact us, somehow let us know what is going on?’ she kept asking herself morosely. 

 

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Silverado woke long enough from his painful oblivion to see that he was no longer on the Zrilon ship, and he squeaked his distress loudly.  John had sent him here; had sent him away from him.  Looking at his damaged wing, he made a soft cheeping moan and called to his friends.  Jimmy Doolittle swooped down the stairwell and caressed him under the chin in sympathy.  What happened?’

‘Attacked.  Destroyed most of the crystals and John sent me here when I was hurt.  He is still on the Zrilon ship and I cannot help him,’ he answered despondently.  The pain was intense, keeping him from concentrating on trying to communicate with John or one of the other members of the family.   

Lucy swooped down the stairwell, followed closely by Penny.  “Oh, Silverado.  Oh, dear,” she murmured.  Turning to Lucy, she ordered, “Get the others and bring them here.  Silverado is in pain and needs all of you to help him.”  

Need to go back and help your dad,’ he pleaded.  

‘Absolutely not!  Dad can take care of himself, you are going nowhere,’ Penny admonished the injured flutter-dragon.  

All of the lizards gathered around their injured comrade and send soothing telepathic messages to him, easing Silverado’s pain and mental torment.  Soon, even though he protested, the silver zanling slowly slipped into unconsciousness.   Penny next proceeded to dress and bandage as best she could, the injured extremity.  Leaving Silverado in the care of his comrades, she went above to let the others know what had happened.   Penny could only wonder what was happening to her father, and wished her telepathic abilities were strong enough to link with him.  Then she thought that if she could, she might distract him.  With a sigh, Penny let everyone know what she had learned. 

   

 

 

Chapter Nineteen
Chapter One
Lost in Space Fiction
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