The Rescue Begins
Will slowly came out of the dark fog that enveloped him. His head
pounded and his lungs felt as though they were on fire. Opening
his eyes, he found that he was drifting near the bottom of a tank the
size of a backyard pool. He looked around and saw several
humanoids peering at him through large observation windows.
Their enormous, violet eyes stared at him in abject curiosity.
Some of them touched long, slender fingers to the glass. Perusing
the rest of his noxious prison, he saw the other members of the
expedition floating unconscious in various parts of the tank.
He swam as quickly as he could to his mother and checked her. She
was alive; her heart was beating strongly, but when he tried to awaken
her, he was unable to. It was the same with Don and the ssHreana.
‘Nova?’ he called.
‘Nearby, Will. We are in a box. No light and the air
is... nasty,’ his friend reported.
‘The air in here is nasty, too,’ Will told the lizard.
He felt so tired that the least effort was a chore. Their captors must be using some kind of noxious substance to
keep them in check. Looking up Will saw a type of wire mesh over
the top of the tank. Slowly swimming to the surface, he found that
it was impossible to move the heavy covering.
A slightly distorted voice came through a speaker. “Humanoid.
You will swim toward the blinking light near the top of the tank where
one of our scientists will remove you from the tank. Can you
breathe out of water?”
‘Yes, I can.’
“Good. When you are out of the tank do not try to escape or you
will be severely punished. Do you understand?”
‘I understand.’ Will followed the directions and soon
found himself on a small platform facing one of the very tall, extremely
thin humanoids. Soft pinkish downy fur covered the entire body,
elongated ears quivered and the violet eyes shifted nervously from one
part of the boy’s body to the other.
“The wroflin powder should have kept you unconscious until it had
dissipated. Why are you awake?
And what kind of creature are you?
You are not ssMrillorrin. Why
are you with them?” the alien asked.
Will noticed a translator in the humanoid’s long fingered hand, but
as groggy as he was, the questions were almost too hard to keep up with.
Will shrugged. “I’m human.
We are friends of the ssMrillorrin.”
He began feeling angry. They
had no right to do this to his family.
“I don’t know why I’m awake. I’m just am, that’s
all. But that stuff is terrible. How do you know that it
won’t hurt my mom, Don or my friends?
And why did you do this?”
“Our scientists are not stupid. We know what will incapacitate
the ssMrillorrin races,” he retorted. At the same time, however,
the alien appeared unsure of his answer.
“But we did not know there were others with the ssMrillorrin.”
“But we aren’t from ssMrillorrin,” Will said hotly. His
worry about his mother made him recklessly aggressive in his answers.
“And this poison could be killing Mom!”
The alien looked steadily at the boy for a moment. Then the eyes
softened. They almost reminded Will of the little eyes of the
Precious Moments children that were popular on Earth for a while.
“We are not evil, uncaring beings, young one. We will lower the
content of the wroflin in the water.”
“Thank you, I appreciate that,” Will answered, mollified.
“Why are you here anyway?”
“We are searching for minerals that our planet desperately needs,”
came the reply.
“Why don’t you just ask the ssHreana?”
“They have a ban on sea floor mining. It is considered
environmentally unsafe,” the tall alien said.
“I suppose so, if it causes earthquakes and tidal waves,” Will
replied somewhat sarcastically.
The creature looked sad for a moment and then he frowned.
“You make fun of our dilemma.
Our people are dying and need an element that is only found
“Did you tell the ssHreana pod leadership? I’m sure they would
help you” Will asked, curious about this seemingly desperate people.
“They were asked,” the pink furred alien replied tersely.
“We were refused.”
Will was flabbergasted. Shaking his head, the boy found it hard to
believe that the gentle ssMrillorrin races could turn away those in as
much need as these aliens seemed to be. Unless, of course, they
had another reason for being here and this talk of dying races was just
some kind of story to get people to feel sorry for them.
He gazed at the alien and somehow felt that he was speaking the
truth, at least about his race dying.
But why would Murwon’s people refuse to help a race of people
in need. It didn’t make
sense. Will tried
hard to keep an open mind about the matter, while at the same time
wondering how they were going to get out of this situation.
Looking around him, he saw hard-shelled creatures sliding across the
room near the tank. The beings looked very much like crabs without
the claws, and moved almost as though they were on wheels. He also
saw that they were in room that resembled a small aircraft hanger with
various boxes and crates of equipment and supplies.
“We will release all of you in a safe place as soon as our job is
done. We should only need one more detonation to reveal the
biochemical element, then we will gather it and leave this planet,”
the alien said. Will felt no guile in the downy skinned
humanoid’s thoughts and was relieved. “It is time for you to
return to the tank.” With many more questions than
answers, Will entered the tank again.
John pulled on the insulated headpiece of the suit that so closely
resembled a deep-water scuba suit that it was uncanny.
Reaching back, he brushed the small device and suppressed a consequent
shudder. Although he had quickly acclimatized to wearing the
mechanism, he still could not totally repress the involuntary feelings
it gave him occasionally. Shrugging, John pulled on the protective
mask and adjusted it, and then he reached for the swim fins.
Looking down, he grinned slightly. If Will were here, he would be
making some kind of remark like, “You look like an underwater Ninja,
Dad.” Sighing, he hoped that his fears for the absent part of
his family were just the paranoia based on an overactive imagination,
but deep down he was certain that they were not.
The ssHreana were eager to accommodate every taste, having these suits
in various colors. His choice of black was mainly for expedience.
He and Murreena would be traveling in a dimly lit world, and this gear
would render him almost invisible in that world, so he supposed that in
the final analysis, Will’s appellation might be somewhat appropriate.
‘John, may I come in?’ Murreena asked from outside the
In answer, John went the door and pulled it open. Murreena had
just been outside, and her wet skin reflected the blue colors of the
ocean beyond the port window. John had never been able to totally
tell the true color of the ssHreana’s skin. It seemed to reflect
varying shades depending on their surroundings. Amazingly, her
eyes seemed to have the same quality, today they were dark like antique
silver, with just a slight glint of blue. Not that it really
mattered, he thought to himself. He felt the eyes may be more
reflective of mood rather than surroundings, as Murreena seemed tense
and apprehensive. “I’m ready, Murreena.”
She smiled. ‘I am rather transparent in my feelings lately,
Nodding, he just smiled in return. John supposed that he was
rather transparent as well. “Klik will be coming along?” he
asked, feeling more of her ‘stray’ thoughts. “I really
don’t think there should be many on this trip. In fact, I feel
the fewer there are, the less likely we will be detected.”
‘You are convinced there are other sentient being involved in
this,’ she said rather than asked. ‘The pod leaders agree with
your reasoning and our group will consist of only you, me and Klik.’
“Good. We’d better go.”
“Why did you lessen the tranquilizing mixture?” the crab-like
creature demanded later in the day when he had observed slight activity
in the prisoner’s tank. The alien’s jarring clicking noises
were repeated through the translator, but the speed with which the alien
chattered indicated his anger.
His companion, the pink-downed humanoid, just shook his head.
“Not all of the prisoners were of the ssMrillorrin races. There
were three who are of another species. The young one of that race
was fearful for his mother’s health. I did not see any harm in
lowering the content of the substance and watching them more
carefully,” Grilar, the slender alien, said huskily.
“You are too soft-hearted. We must be aggressive or you will
never get the breshel compound for your people,” the small creature
clacked. “Remember what happened when we asked politely, as your
government wished.” Kurilis turned his eyestalks toward Grilar
in barely disguised contempt. “And I suppose you promised the
whelp that you would let them go?”
“Of course, we are not here to wage war on these creatures, just to
get the breshel,” Grilar answered tersely.
“Aah, no wonder your people are dying. They are weak to
begin with!” Kurilis cried out in exasperation.
Grilar decided to change the direction of this conversation, before he
let his agitation become apparent. “Is the charge set?”
“Almost. And the detonation program is set into the computer.
Another three hours and then you need to gather your people and go to
your ship. We will take care of these interlopers and follow in
ours. There will be plenty of time,” Kurilis explained.
“The last blast was small enough that the dome remained intact.
This time the charge is larger, so the destruction will be greater.”
“The last detonation seemed more powerful than needful, and
this one will be even greater?” Grilar asked, incredulous.
“I want you to release the prisoners with enough time for them to get
away. We are not here to kill and I promised the young one
they would not be harmed.”
There was chattering clatter that the translator didn’t interpret.
Grilar felt it might be just as well he didn’t know what his partner
said. “Do you want the breshel or not?”
“No, we don’t want it, we need it.”
“Good, then do what I have told you to do. I will take care of
the prisoners,” Kurilis retorted. Grilar just nodded his head,
totally displeased with the outcome of this discussion.
The sea-scooters made good time, covering the distance to the
disturbance area in one quarter of the time it took the expedition.
Klik reported an installation ahead as they approached the epicenter of
the recent earthquake, which only confirmed John’s suspicions.
They left the scooters and swam until the dome shaped buildings came
dimly into view.
‘They are obviously not expecting anyone else. Neither Klik
nor Silverado have detected any guards,’ John said, puzzled.
Silverado’s little bubble bumped against his thigh.
‘They will be gone soon. Before any more expeditions arrive.
They think Murwon’s was the only one,’ Silverado interjected.
‘I detect the thought patterns of two distinct groups of sentient
beings. They seem vastly different in ideologies, but are
apparently in partnership,’ Murreena reported.
‘Do you feel Maureen or Murwon, or any of the others?’
‘I just barely feel evidence of their existence, but that is all.’
‘As though they were being shielded?’ John asked.
‘Perhaps, but I think different. Maybe as though they are
unconscious. I do feel thoughts from Will, however. He is
very tired and lethargic. I think the members of the expedition
have been drugged, John,’ she told him, her unhappiness tangible
in her communication.
John suddenly picked up on something Silverado said. ‘What
do you mean, ‘gone soon?’ he asked the zanling.
‘Their thoughts are of leaving. They are also thinking of
something that is under the ocean floor. Some are worried
about...sickness, some are worried about...power, I think,’
John wondered why they would be leaving. Watching in the dim
stillness, the professor pondered the lizard’s information.
‘Under the ocean floor.’ An explosion caused the last
earthquake. They would probably have to leave if they were
planning to set off another blast. ‘Klik, can you tow me
close to the entrance of that dome?’ he asked. Then to
Murreena, he said, ‘they’re planning on setting off another
charge! I’m going in. We have to stop it. Another
earthquake like the last one could seriously damage your Homeplace as
well as kill any of us in the vicinity. Be ready to help the
others away from the installation.’
‘John, are you sure?’
‘Murreena, I’m almost positive. Everything fits the
pattern. And I doubt seriously that they plan on letting the
expedition go either!’ John told her as he grabbed onto Klik’s