Chapter 24: Family Reunion

Anticipation grew as they neared the Jupiter 2 landing site. The Robot scanned the surrounding area and announced it was safe. Judy brought the Chariot right into the middle of camp. Major West and T'pat jumped out as soon as they came to a stop and helped the women disembark. Major West then climbed back in and helped Smith out of the vehicle. As soon as Smith's left leg hit the ground, it collapsed out from under him. T'pat caught him as he fell. West quickly joined him in supporting the doctor, while T'pat examined his leg.

T'pat spotted the scorch marks of a laser blast near Smith's calf. "You were hit by laser fire. Why didn't you tell me?" he admonished.

"I didn't have a chance," Smith showed him the damaged comm device.

Unfazed, T'pat just added it to the rather long list of other things Smith had recently destroyed. "You're rather hard on equipment, aren't you, doctor?"

West smirked. "You don't know the half of it."

Smith scowled and was about to defend himself vociferously against the Major when T'pat cut him off and radioed for medical assistance. "M'jek, you're needed here at the Robinson camp. Smith is injured."

M'jek answered immediately. "Is it serious?"

"Not life threatening, but I think you need to take a look." T'pat turned to Major West. I think we'd best get him settled in the ship until M'jek gets here. "Can you put any weight on that leg, doctor?"

Smith shifted his weight cautiously and found the slightest pressure caused enough pain to make walking on his own power a herculean effort. "Oh, the pain..." he whimpered as he shook his head. "I'm not getting anywhere by myself, gentlemen." He held his arms out as an invitation for them to support him on their shoulders and they quickly obliged.

After T'pat and Major West took Smith down below and got him comfortably settled into his bed, the two went topside again. T'pat explained that with long range communications disrupted, he and a number of Asmani would be leaving the next morning for the palace to bring them the news of what had happened. Hopefully, it would be received well, but if not, they'd be armed to deal with it. T'pat welcomed Major West and the Professor to join them, but they politely declined, preferring to keep an eye on their own camp and, of course, spend their first night of freedom with their family.

When M'jek arrived, he found Smith in his bed surrounded by the Robinson children. He was listening intently to their stories of what had happened after they had been separated from him and of their flight from the base after the blackout. He, of course, offered very little of his own experiences. He preferred listening to them and, of course, the less they knew of his adventures, the better... for him. The Robot stood like a sentinel at the door of the doctor's cabin, also listening with interest.

"Ah, M'jek," Smith greeted. "Come in."

The Robinson children greeted M'jek eagerly, thanking him for his part in saving Doctor Smith. Will surprised the alien doctor with an enthusiastic and heartfelt hug. He smiled and patted the boy on his shoulder. He knew Smith and the boy had a strong bond and Will's expression of gratitude only confirmed it.

Judy gathered her siblings and escorted them and the Robot out of the cabin. "I think we should give the doctor some room to examine Doctor Smith."

"Thank you," M'jek replied. T'pat entered after they had left and closed the door behind him.

Smith sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed, giving the doctor greater access to his damaged left side.

"I certainly hope you brought that potent painkiller with you," Smith groaned.

M'jek withdrew a vial from his bag and held it up for Smith to see. Smith smiled in relief as M'jek measured the dosage and injected it. Sufficiently numbed, Smith allowed the alien doctor to tend to his injuries. M'jek cleaned the wounds and covered them with some sort of synthetic skin. He pulled several familiar devices from his medical bag and situated them on the most injured areas of Smith's body and the unnatural warmth emanating from them signaled they were working.

As M'jek went about his business, Smith asked a question that had been plaguing his mind. He whispered it, in case any prying ears were outside the door. "T'pat, I did not plant a charge sufficient enough to result in an explosion of the magnitude we saw. Do you know what may have possibly caused that?"

T'pat thought a moment and whispered his response. "I was not privy to any of our military research and development. However, I had heard rumors that our engineers had developed a small batch of very powerful explosives that had not yet been tested thoroughly. It is said that Mal J'hat was planning to use such a weapon to bring the nearby Nazur homeworld to its knees and exploit their resources for Asmani gain. It appears there was truth to the rumor and the Robot inadvertently removed it from the armory for your use during the escape."

Smith paled at the thought of having held such a destructive force in the palm of his hand. He was satisfied with the explanation, but still had questions which would have to remain unanswered. To answer them would require a discussion with the Robot and he had no desire to have to wipe the mechanical man's memory yet again to cover his tracks.

M'jek finished up and ordered Smith to stay in bed for at least an hour while the devices helped heal his wounds. "Don't remove those before I return," M'jek admonished.

When Mrs. Robinson and the children saw M'jek and T'pat return to the upper deck, they thanked them again and returned below to keep Smith company.

Smith had allowed himself to drift off into sleep. The stress and strain of the past several weeks combined with the painkiller left him little choice but to succumb and he did so quickly. Will sat next to the bed, keeping himself occupied with reading a book while simultaneously keeping an eye on the slumbering doctor. The Robot stood next to Will, surreptitiously monitoring Smith's vital signs. Judy and Penny were setting the table for dinner, while Mrs. Robinson cooked up something special to celebrate. They all stole occasional glances in the direction of the open door to Smith's cabin. The only noise they heard was the soft snoring of deep, deep sleep and the occasional whirring of the Robot's mechanisms.

"Judy, what do you suppose Doctor Smith was up to after M'jek saved him?" Penny asked.

"Oh, Penny, I don't know. I suppose we'll never know unless Doctor Smith tells us," Judy replied.

"Fat chance of that," the Major added as he descended the ladder, skipping the last few rungs to land with a dull thud. West grinned. "Though knowing him, he was probably eating, sleeping, and avoiding work. You know... the usual." The statement elicited a laugh from the others.

The Professor appeared on the ladder behind him. "Whatever you're cooking smells wonderful, dear."

"Thank you," she replied as she accepted a hug and a peck on the cheek from her husband. "Dinner should be ready in about an hour."

"That's plenty of time for a shower," the Major answered, as he headed to his cabin to retrieve some fresh clothes and his shaving kit. "I can't wait to get rid of this." He scratched an itch buried underneath his beard.

"Leave some hot water for me," the Professor admonished.

"That was the first thing I did when we got back," Judy mused. "Took a hot shower. I feel human again."

"Me too," Penny added.

"As humble as the comforts of our little ship are, I certainly did miss them the past few months," Mrs. Robinson admitted. "A hot shower being near the top of the list."

The Professor poured himself a cup of hot coffee and sat at the table.

"So, how are things outside," Mrs. Robinson asked as she prepared vegetables for a salad.

"T'pat and his men are going to set up camp inside the perimeter of the forcefield tonight. M'jek is in a camp a few miles away, tending to wounded there. You can see fires burning in camps across the plains for miles and miles. It's quite a sight. Most importantly, it's quiet out there, very peaceful." The Professor smiled. Peace was very much what he and his family needed right now.

When dinner was ready, Mrs. Robinson poked her head into Smith's cabin and whispered to Will to go wash up. As he got up to leave, Smith's eyes fluttered open. It took a few moments for him to regain his bearings as he sat up.

"Oh, Doctor Smith, I didn't mean to wake you," Mrs. Robinson apologized.

"It's perfectly alright, madame. Did I hear you correctly? Dinner's ready? I'm simply famished." Smith inhaled, nose to the air. "It smells like you've concocted a delectable repast to celebrate our return to civilized society."

The Robinson matriarch smiled. Smith's enthusiasm for mealtime, and his often amusing use of his extensive vocabulary, reminded her how much she'd missed the man.

"We're having a roast tonight, courtesy of your Asmani friends, doctor. T'pat told me that he had discovered all our food had been plundered by Mal J'hat and his men. So, he took it upon himself to bring us a few roasts and some vegetables to tide us over until we could replenish our stock."

"He's a true friend," Smith stated. "Now, madame, if you'd be so kind as to help me up, I would be only too happy to partake of your, no doubt, sumptuous meal."

Mrs. Robinson laughed as she gave Smith a hand. He groaned as he stood, out of habit, but was relieved to find there really wasn't as much pain as he had anticipated.

"Thank you, my dear," Smith gestured for her to lead the way.

"Doctor Smith?"

Smith turned, as he exited his cabin, to see Will nearby, as if he had been waiting.

"Yes?"

"How are you feeling? I mean, do your injuries hurt much?" Will studied the devices seemingly adhered to Smith's flesh.

"I'm fine, my boy," Smith answered. "There's surprisingly little pain. I'm convinced that M'jek is a miracle worker of the highest order."

Before Smith could continue, Will threw his arms around him in a gentle, but enthusiastic hug. The doctor was taken aback by the spontaneity of it all. He placed a hand on Will's head and stood silently a moment before the boy released his embrace.

"I missed you, Doctor Smith."

Smith bent down to meet Will eye to eye and smiled. "I missed you too, Will."

Will threw his arms around Smith again and Smith returned the embrace.

After a moment, Smith whispered in Will's ear, "As much as I'm glad to see you again, there's a roast on that table over there that I'm also glad to see. We'd better get to it before the Major does or there'll be nothing left for us."

As the two laughed and walked toward the galley, Judy observed "Doctor Smith, it seems Will just reminded us we never officially welcomed you back to the land of the living." She gave Smith a hug and he was quickly embraced by the rest of the Robinson women. The Professor shook the doctor's hand and patted his shoulder, as did Major West.

"I'll be big enough to admit, I'm glad you're back, Smith," the Major announced. "Though I have to say, you sure came up with one hell of an excuse to get out of work this time."

Smith grinned wickedly. "I suppose being dead does have its advantages, Major. For instance, I didn't have to put up with you."

The Major's face lit up at the insult and he rubbed his hands together in anticipation of a round or two with the doctor. Oh, boy. Here we go, he thought. "Well, doctor, you'll be happy to know..."

The Professor cut off the Major's retort. "Later, boys. It's dinner time." The rest of the family laughed and prepared to dig in to their first real meal in months.

Major West shot Smith a look that said "I'll deal with you later." Smith responded with his own look that said "Do your worst."

Continue to Chapter 25: Fond Farewells

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