Planet of Wishes
Chapter Nine - Longings
Penny woke up the next morning with an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. Dressing quickly, she went to Willís cabin and finding the door cracked slightly, walked in but found no one. She sincerely hoped that he had made it to the place he was looking for. Taking her time showering and dressing, Penny was late getting to breakfast.
"Was Will almost ready when you came up, dear?" her mom asked.
Sighing, Penny decided that the best way to take care of this problem would be to just let Mom and Dad know what happened. "Will took the cube last night."
Hearing Momís quick intake of breath, Penny sighed again. "He said he was going to find a place, a library, where star charts were stored."
"What!?" her dad burst out. "You mean he didnít have a clear picture of where he was going? I canít believe that he did that kind of a dangerous stunt." But the look on his face said that he did believe it.
"He was gone this morning, so he must have reached the place he wanted to go, Dad," Penny said lamely.
"Yes, he must have. Hopefully it wonít take him long to find what heís looking for and return," he said quietly. To Penny, it was obvious that Dad was thinking of other possibilities that he wouldnít mention. Breakfast was finished in silence, and there were plenty of leftovers.
Will looked at the arrogant alien carefully before answering. The creature was roughly humanoid: the head totally hairless with sharp cheekbones and bright, protruding eyes. The nose consisted of a slit with a cartilaginous flap that moved with the creatureís breathing. Ears were two tiny holes, and the mouth was small, with very thin bluish lips.
He was dressed ornately, the jacket and pants covered with metallic braid and trim. Will noticed that the alien was about the same height as his dad, maybe an inch or two taller. After getting up with as much dignity as he could muster, Will looked steadily at the alien and said, "Yes, Iím a human. And what are you, sir?"
"Your master, human. I had no idea that humans were so puny and weak," he said with a hissing laugh. "But no matter, I have more important things to do than stand and talk with vermin." He turned away from Will and stalked into another corridor.
"Shrooon, who was he?" Will asked, irritated. The alien gave him a bad feeling; it was almost as though a freezing wind had suddenly come into the room. Chilly fingers of distaste, fear and dread crept up and down his spine.
"That was Lord Mrolon cl Graxod," the Wereeshen answered.
Will only half heard; he was checking his pockets to make sure the disk and cube were still there. Sighing with relief when his fingers felt both, he continued following Shrooon to the desk where he had received the translator. "You will need to leave your device, Will Robinson, but it will be here if you or any other human wishes to come to our facility," the Ďlibrarianí told him kindly. "How do you wish to pay for the copies that you have made?"
Will looked at the Wereeshen in shock. "Pay?" he stammered. "I, I didnít think about that, sir. I came with nothing. Iím a traveler in space. I have no need of any kind of money.... But I have to have the information on the disk. Please," he added softly.
Shrooon and the other alien conferred privately. "Perhaps if you could give information on your home planet, Earth, for our library. We know so little about it," Shrooon finally told him.
"What would the information be used for?" Will was not unmindful of the interest of another patron in his home solar system.
"It would be stored for awhile, only being accessed by the archivists here. After a period of time, whatever is deemed suitable for public knowledge will be put on a disk that can be accessed by anybody."
"Well, I suppose that would be all right. I do need to have the disk." Suddenly Will clutched on to the edge of the desk to keep his balance.
"Will Robinson," Shrooon said in agitation. "Are you ill?"
"Not really, just very hungry. It has been since yesterday and I wasnít thinking or I would have brought some snacks with me," he explained.
Soon Shrooon had provided the boy with something that, while not flavorful, was compatible with his system and filling. While he was eating, Will talked about Earth: the different peoples and the places as well as some snippets of history. He described in more detail the places he had grown up in or visited: California, Texas, and Massachusetts. At the direction of Shrooon, he talked about the other planets of the solar system.
After some time, Will noticed his voice becoming hoarse. Apparently, Shrooon did as well. "That is more than enough, Will." The Wereeshen placed the disk with information on Earth in the terminal, and punched in various symbols. "Do not worry, Will. This will be safe and can be edited for public perusal at a later date. We have not received the positive reputation we have by being indiscreet."
Will followed Shrooon to the entrance of the facility and thanked him profusely. When the alien had left him, Will stood in a darkened corner and concentrated on his return to the Jupiter II. Although tired, Will had no trouble picturing the space ship and soon felt himself traveling back home...where he was awakened by someone shaking him gently.
He looked up into the worried face of his mother. "I made it, Mom," he said, trying hard to stifle a yawn. "And I may have something to help us get back home." Will pulled out the disk and handed it to her. She looked at it a moment and then handed it back.
"Will, Iím so glad that you are back safely," Maureen told him, her voice husky with emotion. Will reached over and gave his mother a hug. After a moment, she pulled back a bit and looked deeply into his tired eyes. "Now, son, I would like the cube."
Seeing the determined look in her face, Will sheepishly pulled out the teleportation device and handed it to his mother. "Never do anything like that again," she told him. "You canít imagine the anxiety weíve been feeling, Will."
"Iím sorry, Mom. I just felt that we needed the information," Will said quietly but with great conviction.
His mother nodded. "Yes, and I know youíre tired, but go and see your father, he has been worried about you all day." But before Will could get off the bed, his father had already come into his cabin. Dadís face showed relief and joy at his safe return.
"Will, you made it back safely," he said, hugging his son tightly. "Donít you ever do anything like that again! Do you understand?" he added fiercely. Will nodded contritely.
Maureen was looking at him, bewildered. "John, how did you know?" The little silver lizard, to her astonishment, floated through the door and landed on her husbandís shoulder. A sudden burst of understanding came into her mind. "The flutter-dragon!"
"Yes, Willís lizard told all the others and Silverado here told me," John said brightly. The object of conversation squeaked knowingly. "They seem to be getting used to the ship, too."
Will handed the disk to his dad. "I copied as many star charts as I could, Dad. I think you can figure out what Iíve done and maybe it will help us get back to Earth."
John looked at it and then back at Will. "Thank you, son. I appreciate your sacrifice to get this information," he said softly, and then ruffled his sonís red hair. "Just donít do it again without saying something to me. I would rather be lost for a lifetime than lose you," he added fervently.
"I promise, Dad. Iíll let you know if I get any more ideas like that."
Don and Judy sat on the hillside holding hands. The scene was idyllic. A small stream cascaded over lichen-slicked rocks on its way down to a bubbling pond. At this time of the morning, a slight mist hung about a half a meter above the surface, tendrils gently floating first in one direction, then in another. Two flutter-dragons skimmed along the top of the mist causing ethereal wakes. The amber colored lizard grabbed the tail of the amethyst hued one in its tiny paws and squeaked mischievously.
Judy laughed and lay down on the spongy grass. Leaning his weight on one elbow, Don lay down next to her. "My darling," he said softly. "You are gorgeous. Why did I wait three years to ask you to marry me?" But in his heart, Don already knew the answer to his question. It had taken a near disaster to bring him to his senses. To make him see just how much he really loved and cared for Judy.
"Donít understand that myself," she answered. Reaching over, she quickly hooked her hand behind his elbow and jerked it out from under him.
He was unable to catch himself until his lips brushed hers. Kissing her tenderly, then more passionately, he finally pulled away enough to murmur, "I love you, Mrs. West. I want to take you on a proper honeymoon, my love." He looked deeply into Judyís large blue eyes, eyes that had attracted him from the very beginning of his affiliation with the ĎFamily in Spaceí project. And he felt lost in their depths.
"And where would that be that would be more perfect than what we have right here?" Judy asked, curious.
Suddenly she giggled as Don leaned over and whispered in her ear. He took great pleasure in doing that, knowing how very ticklish she was. "Alpha Centauri. Gamma planet," he said softly.
She jerked back in astonishment. "What did you say?"
"I am suggesting a real honeymoon, my dear," he repeated, chuckling at her confusion. "On planet Gamma in the Alpha Centauri system. We may never get there in the Jupiter II, but we do have the means to spend some time there."
"You mean Pennyís cube?"
"Yes, and your fatherís survey showed how ideal it is. Letís take some supplies and be by ourselves for a few days." Donís voice rose in excitement, and Judy realized that he was very serious about his proposal. Suddenly she felt some of his enthusiasm.
"Why not?" she said brightly. This enthusiastic, spontaneous side of his personality was one of the reasons she had been attracted to Don West in the first place. Regardless of how serious or intense Don may act, Judy knew the lighter side of his personality lurked underneath. The discovery of this planet was good for everybody, she thought, smiling lovingly at her better half.
"You realize that Mom wants to stay here," Judy said as they both watched the flutter-dragons floating on the thermal breezes above their heads. A distant cry of a predator brought them closer to the treetops. In her mind, Judy caught a flash of large wings and hooked beak. A raptor, apparently, and she realized that this planet held many more discoveries.
"Yes, and I believe your dad may be feeling the same way, although heís more reluctant to admit it." He chuckled mentally when he thought back to the day before. Maureen had dug up a small part of the clearing and planted some seeds. John had watched her for a while before taking a hoe and starting to help her break up dirt clods. Not a word had been spoken, but Don felt understanding pass between the two, and he envied that deep familiarity.
That was one thing he wanted to accomplish with a honeymoon elsewhere. Time alone with his wife, totally and blissfully alone with her.