Chapter 20: Cloak and Dagger

Smith burst into M'jek's quarters after being gone for a few hours. What he had been up to, M'jek and T'pat could only guess.

"T'pat, the Robot is ready. All preparations have been made. We'll hit the armory at 0300," Smith informed. He looked at his communications device. "We have six hours. Have you arranged to have your friend on guard duty at central command?"

"Yes," T'pat confirmed. "He'll be there. I filled him in on what he is to do. He will make sure there is no surveillance evidence of the security breach in the armory."

"Good. Do you have your disguise ready?"

"Yes," T'pat answered. "I don't see why I have to pose as the supply clerk and you get to be the guard."

Smith slid his visor up and glared at T'pat. Upon seeing the distinctly human face, T'pat suddenly remembered. "Oh, right. I forgot you aren't Asmani."

"I'm not sure if that's a compliment or an insult," Smith answered dryly.

T'pat laughed. "Take it as a compliment, doctor."

Smith nodded and then turned to the Robot. "The new pass codes are scheduled to be distributed at 0200, ninny. I'll send them to you as soon as I... appropriate them."

"I assume you will send them by encrypted channel," the Robot stated.

Smith furrowed his brow in confusion. "Yes, of course. Why?"

"I've heard it would be very difficult for you to communicate them verbally... since you're a mute!" The Robot let loose a mechanical laugh.

Smith rolled his eyes and then glared at T'pat. "Did you tell him?"

T'pat shrugged and tried to look innocent, but the small quirk at the corner of his mouth betrayed him.

Smith started to say something, but the Robot lifted a single claw. "Uh, uh, uh, Doctor Smith. You're supposed to be a mute." Smith glared at the Robot and started to talk again, when the Robot shushed him. The doctor's eyebrows crashed together in a firm scowl. The Robot interrupted him at every turn. Finally, Smith tapped something out on his communications device and stalked off to the other room.

A second later, the Robot received the text message. He swiveled in the direction the doctor had left. "Doctor Smith! Such language!"

...

Later that evening, Smith, T'pat, M'jek, and the Robot assembled for their mission. Smith sat at the computer, retrieving the encrypted pass codes, while T'pat slipped into his disguise and the others waited patiently.

"Ok, ninny, the encrypted codes are on their way to you," Smith stated.

"Affirmative. They have been received," the Robot confirmed.

Smith grabbed a tarp T'pat had brought with him and covered the Robot. T'pat unplugged the hover bike's charging cord from the wall and pushed the covered Robot out the door. Smith slid his visor over his face and grabbed the laser rifle T'pat had given him. Together, the two headed out towards the armory.

"Good luck," M'jek whispered behind them.

T'pat kept his head down as they traveled, to avoid being recognized by any of the other guards they might pass. When they reached the armory, the corridor was clear. Smith lifted the tarp high enough for the Robot to reach the keypad and enter the first pass code. The door slid open and the three slipped inside before it closed again.

Inside the armory, T'pat removed the tarp from the Robot and Smith slung the strap of a satchel over his arm. The Robot easily glided above the pressure plates towards an inner door. Beyond it lay their goal, the explosives and weapons they'd need to bring down a tyrant. The Robot input the second pass code and hovered through the door. He quickly found what they wanted and filled the satchel with explosives.

The Robot brought the satchel to Smith, who rummaged through it.

"What are you doing?" T'pat whispered.

"I'm making sure we have easier access when it's needed," Smith replied.

T'pat didn't understand until he saw Smith molding some of the plastic explosives into shape and inserting what appeared to be wires into it. He secured what appeared to be a small electronic device to the charge and handed it to the Robot. The Robot hovered over the plates again and secured the charge, high on the wall, just inside the other door. Smith did the same, with a similar charge, above the inner door.

As the Robot hovered back over the pressure plates, the satchel slipped off of his arm. Smith reached out and caught it, but his forward momentum was too much. He waved his free arm and shifted his weight in an effort to regain his balance, but he tipped forward and began to fall towards the plate. Much to his relief, his forward progress stopped, just in time, as T'pat grabbed his gun belt and pulled him back. The two fell back against the wall and heaved a sigh of relief.

The Robot hovered back over to them, as if nothing of significance had just happened. Smith just glared at him. "Someday, ninny, you'll be the death of me. I just know it."

"If I hadn't been here, that day might've been today," T'pat offered.

Smith put a hand on the guard's shoulder. "Thanks. Now, let's get out of here." Smith secured the satchel to the hover bike while T'pat covered the Robot again with the tarp. Smith led the way back to the outer door. A quick call to T'pat's friend in central command confirmed the corridor was clear and all three exited the armory. They walked briskly back and as soon as they were behind the doors of M'jek's quarters, Smith collapsed on the couch, nerves too frayed to even consider celebrating. T'pat confirmed with his friend at central command that all visual and audio evidence of the breach had been erased.

M'jek entered the room holding two drinks. He handed one to T'pat and the two began discussing the mission. Smith certainly could use a drink himself and cleared his throat to try to get their attention. They went on talking and ignored him, purposely. Smith tried calling their names, but got no response.

T'pat stifled a chuckle. In Asmani, he said to M'jek "For a mute, he sure does talk a lot." The two laughed.

"I wonder how long it will take him to figure out we're joking with him," M'jek replied, also in Asmani.

Smith waved his hands, trying to draw a glance his way. He could've simply gotten off the couch and walked over to them, but he was too tired and too lazy to do so. His efforts were fruitless, so he decided he'd have to up the ante.

As T'pat took another sip of his drink while M'jek talked, a couch pillow slammed into the side of his head and plopped to the floor. Two alien heads slowly turned to regard the agitated doctor and then they burst out laughing.

"Finally!" Smith said, exasperated.

T'pat gasped and turned to M'jek. "The mute speaks!"

"You're certainly getting a lot of mileage out of that joke, aren't you, T'pat?" a scowl slowly formed on Smith's face. "But are you sure you want to be making jokes at the expense of a skilled spy and saboteur?"

The smile on T'pat's lips quickly disappeared. He knew what Smith was capable of and the thought of those skills being directed at him in anger gave him pause. Perhaps he had miscalculated this little joke.

Smith continued, "Howsomever, I may be appeased if you bring me one of those." Smith pointed at the beverage both T'pat and M'jek were enjoying. The wicked grin that washed over the human's face relieved T'pat. The doctor was just playing with him too.

"Of course," M'jek replied. He left the room and quickly returned with two drinks, one for Smith and one to replace T'pat's, most of which was on the floor and the pillow.

Smith stood and walked over to accept his drink. "To success!" he toasted. The others raised their drinks as he had, repeated the toast, and quickly downed their drinks.

"I could use another," Smith stated as he handed his empty glass back to M'jek.

...

The following morning, M'jek met with their allies on the high council. Two of the members were reluctant to get involved, although they certainly wished the plan success. The Grand Master, however, was more than willing to do what he could to help. The guilt of the human doctor's execution weighed on him and he wished to make amends by freeing his family. M'jek requested that the Grand Master oversee evacuation of sympathetic Asmani during the blackout and gave him coordinates with instructions to wait for him there. M'jek explained that the Grand Master would necessarily fill the void of leadership once Mal J'hat was deposed, until a suitable government could be seated. The Grand Master didn't want the position, but agreed to grudgingly accept it when the time came.

...

While M'jek was conferring with the council, Smith was busy cutting the Robot free from his hovering platform and restoring both him and the hover bike to their previous states. When the work was done, Smith accompanied T'pat to the motor pool to return the bike. As they were walking back, they heard a call come over their comm devices about a scuffle in the stockade.

Smith cursed. "The Major."

"What?"

"I have a bad feeling Major West is involved. He has a quick temper," Smith quickly explained, then took off running for the stockade. T'pat followed.

When they arrived in the stockade, Smith went directly toward the Robinson camp. His suspicions were confirmed when he saw three guards dragging a resisting Major West into the maximum security cell.

Two other guards were beating the Professor, who was on the ground futilely trying to defend himself against the blows. T'pat called over the radio to state they had the situation under control and to cancel any backup that might be on their way.

Smith pulled a guard off the Professor and slammed him against the wall, his fists grasping handfuls of uniform. Smith growled and was about to say something when he realized Major West was close enough to hear. Being mute certainly had its disadvantages and he silently cursed M'jek for the story he'd told. He shoved the guard towards his cohorts and joined T'pat.

"What's going on here?" T'pat asked the guards.

"We were told to put the two human males in maximum security," one of the guards answered.

"It looked more like you were beating them rather than securing them," T'pat countered.

Smith typed furiously on his comm device while T'pat dealt with the other guards. T'pat received the transmission and understood the plan.

"These are humans! Mal J'hat specifically stated he wanted the pleasure of finishing these foul creatures off himself," T'pat explained.

Smith typed out another message, which T'pat relayed. "Unless you want us to inform Mal J'hat that you attempted to deprive him of that pleasure, we suggest you leave here immediately. We'll take care of securing them."

The guards, frightened by possible reprisals from Mal J'hat, left quickly. Smith knelt down next to the Professor and assessed his injuries. The Major watched the guard he knew as K'val as he tended to the Professor and decided there was something very familiar about him, but he couldn't pinpoint what. Smith typed out his medical assessment of the Professor and transmitted it to T'pat.

Mrs. Robinson brought the proper medical supplies, from the many leftovers of Doctor Smith's clinic, to tend to the Professor's injuries. Smith accepted them with a nod. He cleaned up the cuts and dressed them.

The Major got T'pat's attention and the guard walked over to the cell. "What did he say about John?"

"He said he appears to have a concussion," T'pat answered. "Keep a close eye on him and contact us if he gets worse."

Smith rose and gave Major West a quick once over through the transparent forcefield. He was in much better shape than the Professor.

"What happened here?" T'pat asked to no one in particular.

"They tried to get us both into maximum security," the Major answered. "Obviously, we resisted."

T'pat and Smith helped the Professor to his feet. Smith pulled one of the Professor's arms around his shoulder, guided him to one of the beds, and helped him get comfortable.

Mrs. Robinson, grateful the two guards had broken up the fight, thanked them and gave each of them a hug. As she pulled back from hugging Smith, she looked curiously at his visor, wishing she could see his face. Just as the Major had, she sensed there was something familiar about this guard, though she couldn't fathom what.

As T'pat turned to leave, Smith quickly typed out a message for T'pat to relay. Truth be told, he was stalling. He wanted more time with his family. T'pat read the message and turned back to the Robinsons. "K'val says to be careful."

Mrs. Robinson and the children looked curiously at Smith. T'pat, seeing the looks, explained. "I'm sorry. I did not introduce you properly. This is K'val."

"He's mute," the Major supplied. "Mal J'hat had his tongue cut out for criticizing his father, the king."

Mrs. Robinson stared at Smith with a look of great pity. Instinctively, she placed a hand on Smith's arm. Though she couldn't see it, he smiled back at her. He patted her hand in appreciation, then squeezed it. He knew he couldn't stall any longer and turned to leave with T'pat. T'pat offered his best wishes to the family and the two guards left.

...

Smith broke the uneasy silence that had accompanied them most of the way back to M'jek's quarters. "We have to find the backup generator, T'pat. Or figure out how to disable the forcefield without drawing notice. Otherwise, we won't get the Major out tomorrow night."

The doctor gave T'pat his laser rifle and told him to continue on. "I'll be back in an hour, no later."

As Smith turned to leave, T'pat asked him where he was going. Smith ignored him and quickly disappeared from sight.

Continue to Chapter 21: The Less You Know, The Better

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