Planet of Tranquility

 

 

Chapter Nineteen

Passages

 

 

John woke in time to see a Zrilon in front of him, with several others behind it, all of them holding weapons.  His eyes were blurred, but he felt it unwise to move his hand to wipe the sweat away.  His joints ached, he felt slightly nauseated and he was shivering with cold.  Chuckling softly, the professor felt, for all the world like he had the flu, and he couldn’t help but see the irony of the situation.   

“Why are you laughing, humanoid excrement?  Our weapons are set to kill you slowly and painfully,” the lead Zrilon demanded, his translator clacking furiously.  

“Because, you jackass, I’m sick enough that I don’t really care what you do to me right now.”  The translator clacked for a moment and the Zrilon moved backward several paces.   

I lied,’ John thought in despair, ‘I do care.’  He pondered furiously for a solution to this predicament.  He looked down at his hand, which was throbbing painfully.  A shield?  A physical shield?’  He tried to focus and felt the warmth that accompanied the crystal’s activity.  A shield…a shield…build a shield,’ he kept saying to himself, until it became a mental chant.  The warmth became a heat that wasn’t very comforting this time.  Closing his eyes seemed to help his concentration somewhat and he didn’t open them until he saw a bright glow beyond his eyelids.  

Wincing, despite himself, John saw the bright points of laser blasts bouncing off a nearly invisible shield, some of them ricocheting back to the attacking Zrilon.  Clacking whistles accompanied mental screams of dying anguish, but John couldn’t maintain the telepathic shield along with this physical one.  Finally, the Zrilon backed off and waited near the entrance for his next move.  Deciding to take advantage of the situation, John tried to get up, making it to a half crouch, before the ship was hit with another blast and he fell to his hands and knees.  A Zrilon decided to see if the protective shield was still working and ducked when the blast bounced back at him.   

John was again trying to get up when another blast hit the ship, this time the groaning and shrieking of tormented metal coming clearer to his ears.  The Confederation ships must have hit something explosive, the professor thought as he fell to the decking with a bone-rattling jar.  The thought that this little shield of his might not protect him in the vacuum of space spurred John to attempt teleportation again.   

The translator shrieked with the curses of the Zrilon leader, but John forced that out of his mind, quickly lowering the protective shield to use his remaining strength for teleportation.  Again the focus; again the chant; again his desire to reunite with his family.  No! Not the Jupiter II!  That might be too far to teleport himself, so he focused on Prowlith instead.  Prowlith.  Safety….   This time the heat was painful…  Focus, focus….  

Surprised gasps sounded in his ears and John opened his eyes to see Prowlith standing wide-eyed above him, her tail flicking in agitation.  “Sick…  Sorry….”   As his body gave up the fight to stay conscious, he remotely saw a bright glow out of the corner of his eye.   The decking shuddered as he slipped into total, blissful oblivion.    

In shock, Prowlith stared down at the flushed and shivering human at her feet, and she wondered what he could have picked up so quickly on the Zrilon ship.  Behind her, Llriloris called out orders.  “Sick bay, get a quarantine crew down here on the double!  You will be dealing with an Earth human.” 

Squatting down, she touched his forehead with a clawed finger.   “Prowlith, you have no idea what has caused his sickness,” Llriloris admonished her.  

“No, but he returned by focusing on me.  If what he has is contagious, I have already caught it.  No, I will have to be quarantined as well, Commander, and I will stay by him until he is in sickbay.  He is burning up with a fever.”  She turned to Llriloris, a worried look in her eyes.   “How could something work so quickly?”  

A flash of fear showed on the commander’s face, but he quickly hid it.  The medical team in full quarantine gear arrived at that moment, and he watched silently as the human was placed on a transfer cart and carried out of the command center.  A doctor stayed behind taking samples and checking the crew. 

In sickbay, Prowlith watched as the medical team worked on Commander Robinson.  A technician checked her over at the same time.  Instruments chirped, muttered and growled.  After what seemed an interminable time, the head physician approached her. 

“It would seem, Commander, that the human has nothing that is contagious to us.  We have run every test and the computers have analyzed every sample and reading three times.”

Prowlith was incredulous.   “Then what’s wrong with him?”

“He has an infection of some kind.  We cannot determine what is causing it.  There are no wounds, external or internal, but we will run more tests to try and find the cause.  We have to; it is all we can do to maintain his temperature at a reasonable level.  We are intravenously keeping fluids in him.  If it wasn’t for that assimilated device, we might have an easier time figuring out the source of the infection.”  

“May I see him?”   Her thoughts were that John Robinson, himself, might be able to provide clues into what had struck him down.   

“Yes, but his hold on lucidity will be tenuous at best,” the doctor said.  Prowlith nodded and approached the human commander.  

“So I made it,” he murmured when he saw her.  

“Yes, Commander Robinson.  Do you have any idea what might be causing your sickness?”  

He paused so long, with eyes closed, that Prowlith wondered if he was asleep again.  “Can’t think.  But I’ll make you a deal.”  

“What?” she asked, in a puzzled tone.  

“I will not call you Ms. Prowlith… if you just call me John.”  

She couldn’t help it, she burst out in a growling laugh.  He smiled slightly.  “Of course, John, it is a deal.”  

“I just wish I knew how Silverado was,” he murmured a few minutes later.   

“Your zanling friend?  He didn’t come back with you.”

“Sent him to the Jupiter.  He was injured by a laser blast.”  

“We’ll contact your ship and ask.  The last I heard they were on their way here, John.”

“Thanks.  I think…we destroyed all the crystals.  Only one left is mine.”  He sighed and closed his eyes.  This time she knew he was asleep.  

Heading for the communications console, she ordered the central communications to contact the Jupiter II.  As soon as contact was made, they sent it to her console.  “This is Will Robinson, what can we do for you?” 

Prowlith remembered the boy from the first visit.  “I am Commander Prowlith.  I am requesting some information for your sire,” she explained.

“Dad?  How is he, Commander?”  

“He is in our sickbay with an infection of some kind, but our doctors are taking good care of him.  He was inquiring about his zanling companion.”  She hated to hedge, but she really preferred to tell his life-mate the bad news, rather than the child, no matter how mature that child might be.   

“He’s in shock, be we think he’ll be fine with time.  Our ETA is three hours, twenty minutes.  Too many ships in the area to use the hyper-drive all the way in,” Will told her.  

“I will tell your sire, Will Robinson.   Thank you for your information.”

“Tell him we love him.”  

“Yes, I will be sure to tell him that.”

After the connection closed, she turned back to John.  He was awake again and watched her approach with fever bright eyes.  “Get my family?”

“Yes, and they send their love.  I couldn’t tell them how sick you are, John, since I was talking with your cub.  They will be here in a few hours.”  

“I appreciate that…   Silverado?”  

“He is in shock, but they feel he will fully recover.”  The doctor approached and whispered in her ear.   “Good news, John.  The remaining Zrilon ships have surrendered, and you did destroy all the crystals.”

“Good…” His voice trailed off and she saw that he was once again asleep.  During the next few hours she stayed near his bedside, talking to him when he was awake, but mostly watching him sleep.  Finally, she heard the sick bay doors open and saw John’s life-mate dash in.  

“They told me how sick John was.   Why didn’t you tell me?” she demanded, her voice quivering with fear and anxiety. 

“I was speaking with your cub.  I was not about to tell him,” Prowlith explained to the anxious human.  

“Mo.”  John smiled and reached for her hand.  Prowlith backed off.  One of the zanlings glided off Maureen Robinson’s shoulder and landed on John’s chest.  “I told you I would come back,” he murmured.  “As soon as I kick this bug, I want to go home…”  

“Of course, John,” she said, holding his hand and feeling the throbbing of heat emanating from him, watching him slip into unconsciousness again.  

Maggie had been peering closely at the sick man.  Suddenly she looked up and chirped stridently.  Maureen.  His body is fighting the crystal.’  

Horror stricken, Maureen looked up and saw the doctor and Prowlith watching from across the room.  “The infection is caused by the crystal.  Somehow we have to get it out of him,” she announced.  

Maureen felt the heat in John’s hand, and thought of the moment when he had assimilated the crystal.  Grabbing his hand in a tighter grip between both of hers, she closed her eyes and concentrated.  She focused on the crystal, whole and out of his body.  Maggie’s head lightly touched her hands and Maureen felt the lizard’s telepathic strength.  The throbbing in John’s hand intensified, and he began to moan and then cry out in pain.  Then there was heat, an intensely searing, but not physically burning heat.  John’s cries echoed her own as the crystal coalesced in their hands and assimilated into her body.   She screamed at the torment, the intense pain of a foreign body taking up residence in her body, and she dropped to the floor writhing in agony.   

Vaguely she heard Maggie’s squeak of distress and then there was only pain.  She felt the children’s thoughts trying to contact her, soothe her, take away her hurts, but Maureen could only feel, she couldn’t respond.  The pain became all-consuming, filling every molecule, every atom of her being.  How could anyone stand this?  From a distance she heard screaming and realized it was her own, echoing as though from a tunnel, next reverberating in her skull, matching the rhythm of her own heartbeat.  

Maureen, I am here.  Do you feel my presence?’  

She had no idea who it was comforting her, but she welcomed it, grabbed at it, like a dying man in the desert after the thimble of water.  Her oasis.  Yes, I feel…’  

‘Hold on to me.’  

Maureen felt something smooth and cool under her touch and she let her hot and trembling fingers rest on the source of her solace.  It was a flutter-dragon, but which one?  Then she felt the crystal coalesce, withdraw from her body, rest momentarily on her hand, before being drawn into the liberator next to her.  Cool, dark, silent oblivion greeted her and she was unaware of pain or anything else. 

   

 

 

Chapter Twenty
Chapter One
Lost in Space Fiction
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