Planet of Tranquility

 

 

 


Chapter Eight-
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 here.” 
 
“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 room.  
 
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, aren’t I?
 
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,’ Silverado elaborated. 
 
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 dorsal fin.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nine
Chapter One
Lost in Space Fiction
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