The following evening, Smith and West quietly made their way through the maze of beds full of sleeping prisoners and met T'pat at the entrance to the stockade at the appointed time. T'pat was the only guard on duty, as was customary during the later hours. He handed both Smith and West what would appear to be ordinary packages of food rations. T'pat instructed them to take them and mingle them with their normal food rations. He would have more for them by the time they returned. Smith and the West did as instructed and when all supplies had been received, thanked T'pat for his assistance.
Before they left, T'pat grabbed Smith's arm with one hand and shook his hand with the other. "Handshaking," he said. "It is an Earth custom to express gratitude or camaraderie, is it not?" Smith felt T'pat press a small, metal object into his hand. "Yes, it is," Smith nodded with a smile. With sleight of hand that would impress a pickpocket or magician, the doctor concealed the item in his sleeve, the Major oblivious to the transfer that had just occurred. T'pat shook West's hand quickly and bid them goodbye.
The next morning, Smith was up early, opening packages and mentally cataloging the contents. He set specific items aside for Will and the young Kir Gal, then began re-organizing everything neatly back into the packages in some sort of system he had devised.
Major West came by after he'd had his morning rations. "Everything all there?" he inquired.
"Yes, and a few little extras," Smith replied. He tossed West a tube of antibiotic ointment. It wasn't exactly what they had in stock on the Jupiter 2, but it was similar enough that it should be somewhat effective.
As West caught the tube, he noticed something peculiar. "What happened to your manacles?"
"I tired of them, so I removed them," Smith stated simply.
The Major scowled. "How?"
"Major, the solution is so incredibly obvious that even a simpleton like you can figure it out," Smith smirked. "I wouldn't want to deprive you of the satisfaction of solving the mystery yourself."
"Smith," West began, his annoyance at the doctor evident in his voice. "If you've figured out a way for us to remove these manacles, I suggest you share it with the rest of us... IF you want to stay in one piece."
At that moment, Judy strolled over. "Sleep well, Don?" she asked.
The Major's attitude softened as he turned to address Judy. Before he could speak, he noticed she too was unshackled. "What happened to your manacles?"
"Oh, Doctor Smith took them off for me. He got a key from the guard last night," she explained. "He took everybody's manacles off since the guards aren't around."
West held his hands in front of Judy, "Almost everybody's." He shot a dirty look at the doctor.
"Now, now, Major. I was going to remove them earlier, but you were still sleeping. Considering our late night, I thought it best to let you get your rest." Smith motioned West over and unlocked each of the cuffs. "My 'supply' request was very thorough, don't you think?"
West rubbed his wrists and sighed in relief at the small measure of freedom. "Yes. Yes, it was. Thanks."
Smith nodded almost imperceptibly and went back to organizing the medical supplies.
It didn't take long for many of the prisoners to notice the ample supply of what appeared to be food rations in the Robinsons' area. It took even less time for word to get around that those food rations weren't what they appeared to be. By the end of the day, Smith was overwhelmed with requests for supplies and medical services. Despite his efforts at organization, it was clear he needed help. He enlisted the aid of Judy and Mrs. Robinson to make appointments, handle supply requests, and provide basic nursing and first aid care. Penny, and later Will when he had recovered enough, came along with the doctor on "house calls" to take notes on alien physiology and anatomy for later reference. Smith set up a small triage area to prioritize and attend to the emergency cases, which Mrs. Robinson operated when the doctor was not available.
In short order, Doctor Smith found himself with very little free time. If he wasn't busy tending to wounds and infections, he was trying to stem the outbreak of various alien viruses and performing the occasional emergency surgery. He put in long hours to ensure as many patients were treated as possible. It reminded him of his days of residency and some of the reasons he went into medicine in the first place. Smith had never been accused of being a selfless man, he was often quite the opposite, but he abhorred violence and he abhorred suffering. By virtue of the deal he had brokered with M'jek, which was first and foremost for Will's benefit, he found himself in a position to relieve some of that suffering.
It was clear, however, whatever the doctor's current motivations, his services were fostering good will among the prison population and he and the Robinsons were treated well as a result. Many of the aliens chose to show their gratitude in whatever manner was customary for their species.
As Doctor Smith sat on a bed unpacking the latest shipment of medical supplies, he felt a light tap on his shoulder. He turned and looked up at a familiar face, an Utak female he knew as Kress. The Utak species was very human looking, with a few minor differences in appearance, most noticeably additional mammaries in the females, which Doctor Smith and his male human companions never failed to notice.
"Kress? Is something wrong?" he asked, concerned about her brother, a former patient.
"No, quite the contrary," she smiled. "My brother is making a wonderful recovery because of you."
"Then is there something else I may help you with?" the doctor inquired.
"I'm just here to thank you," she purred, as she brought two soft, slender hands to his face. "For saving my brother's life." She slowly ran a hand behind the back of his head and pulled him towards her.
Smith stiffened at her advances. He gently took both of her hands and slowly removed them from his face. "Madame, that is hardly an appropriate expression of gratitude for saving your brother's life. A simple 'thank you' will suffice."
"On the contrary, it is customary for my people," she explained as her hands sought his face once more.
The Robinson family and Major West were watching the display with interest and attempted to suppress their chuckles, obviously enjoying Smith's predicament.
Smith started to protest again when Kress' mouth connected with his. Her slim, silky tongue darted between his lips. He struggled for a moment, but all protests stopped when he felt a slight pin prick at the roof of his mouth. A warm, tingling sensation rushed over him. His eyes would have widened in surprise, if he wasn't having such a hard time keeping them open. She broke off the kiss and a lazy smile washed over the doctor's face. His drooping eyelids finally closed for good and a low, contented moan escaped his lips as his body went limp. Kress gently laid the doctor down on the bed and brushed a loose lock of hair from his forehead.
"What did you do to him?" West demanded.
"I thanked him," Kress replied. "Don't worry, he'll awaken in a few hours. And he'll be in a very good mood." She smiled and bid the doctor's companions goodbye.
The Professor and Major West went to the bedside and examined the doctor.
"He's been drugged somehow," West stated the obvious.
The Professor took Smith's pulse at one of his wrists and noticed the doctor's eyes darting rapidly beneath his eyelids. "He's in REM sleep."
"Looks like he's having a good time in there," West observed. "He's still smiling."
The Professor chuckled. "Well, we'll have to ask him all about it when he comes around."
Several hours later, the doctor started to stir. Major West was the first at his bedside, curiosity nearly eating him alive. "Smith?"
"Hmmmm?" Smith replied, eyes still closed.
"Smith, you in there?" West prodded.
"Can I keep her, ma?" Smith slurred.
"Smith?" West shook him.
"Hmmmm? What?" Smith opened his eyes and looked around, a bit confused at first. Then the same lazy, contented smile he'd worn for the past several hours washed over his face again.
"Where ya been? What happened?" West asked, barely containing himself. The Professor stood behind him, wondering the same thing. The rest of the family quickly gathered around.
"I'm not completely sure," Smith confessed as he propped himself up on his elbows. "There are no words to describe it, Major. A dream, a completely inexplicable, glorious dream. I've never experienced anything quite like it before." He swung his legs over the side of the bed and yawned mightily, the drug not completely purged from his system. "But I do know I'm going to have to do a little more... 'research'... on Utak physiology."
"Do you need a research assistant?" West asked eagerly.
"I'd like to sign up for that," the Professor chimed in.
From somewhere behind them, they heard the distinct sound of throats clearing. They turned to see Judy and Maureen, arms crossed and stern looks plastered to their faces.
"Perhaps not," the Professor chuckled.
"No, I guess not," the Major agreed.
"I can appreciate your scientific curiosity, gentlemen, but I work alone," Smith declared. He inhaled deeply and exhaled in a long, contented sigh.
Smith became so engrossed in providing medical services to the inmates that he completely forgot about the reason he was there in the first place. With the kind of "thanks" he was getting, he certainly had the motivation to immerse himself in his work. After his second 30 hour shift of the week, the doctor stumbled back to the Robinsons' camp and fell face first into his bed, his pillow muffling a low, tired groan. The thought that he was getting too old for this briefly flitted through his brain before he lost consciousness. It wouldn't be long before he'd be rudely reminded of his original purpose.
"Doctor Smith?" Maureen Robinson tried to rouse him from the instant slumber he'd drifted into. When he didn't stir, she shook him gently. "Doctor Smith?"
"Hmm?" he replied, semi-conscious.
"Doctor Smith, they took John and Don," she stated, the anxiety in her voice evident.
It took a second for the impact of her statement to register, but when it did, Smith bolted upright. "When? Where?"
"A few hours ago, we don't know where," she supplied.
"Wait here," Smith commanded before he dashed toward the guards at the stockade entrance, stumbling and righting himself several times as adrenaline fought with his exhaustion.
He was fortunate to find T'pat on duty. He explained what Mrs. Robinson had told him. T'pat made a few calls through his communicator and quickly ascertained the location of the Professor and the Major. They were in another holding cell with several other prisoners who were scheduled to be moved northward in the morning to help on construction of the palace.
Smith's mind raced. He rattled off a series of questions to T'pat, not bothering to allow the guard time to answer. "What time are they being moved? Can you or M'jek intercede? May I see them?"
Desperation was evident in the doctor's voice and on his face. T'pat tried to calm him and answered his questions in turn. "They're being moved at 0800. I don't have the authority to intercede and while M'jek does, he has unfortunately been called away on an emergency. I may be able to get you in to see them for a short time. No more than 5 minutes."
Smith nodded and requested T'pat make the arrangements. After a few more calls on his communicator, another guard came to relieve him and T'pat escorted Smith to the cell where the Professor and the Major were being held.
"Doctor Smith," the Professor announced as he saw the physician escorted towards them. Both he and the Major moved toward the bars to converse with him.
Smith instinctively grinned at the sight of Major West behind bars.
The Major caught the look and reacted. "Smith, wipe that smirk off your face."
Smith suppressed the grin and briefly entertained a comment about the Major looking right at home, but thought better of it. He only had five minutes, so he had to talk quickly. "They're taking you north, in the morning, to work on the palace." He lowered his voice to a whisper and continued, "M'jek is currently away or I'd request his assistance in securing your transfer back to the stockade. Rest assured, when he returns, I'll see what can be done about bringing you back here. In the meantime, don't do anything foolish." The Major knew the last comment was mainly directed at him.
Both the Professor and Major nodded. Smith uncharacteristically held his hand out to shake the Major's hand. West hesitantly shook it and immediately felt the small, metal object pressed into his hand.
Smith grasped the bars of the cell and leaned in to speak. "In case things should get... dicey," he whispered. "Use it only if absolutely necessary."
West only nodded and tucked the key safely away.
T'pat stepped forward and announced, "We must go now."
Smith looked back at the guard and then back to his friends. He released his grasp on the bars and looked as if he wanted to say something more, but stayed silent. The look on his face conveyed his concern more than words could. He turned to leave, but turned back and held his hand up in a hesitant farewell. The Professor and Major returned the gesture and the doctor quickly left.
Mrs. Robinson was on her feet the moment she saw the doctor returning and moved to meet him. She grasped his arms. "Are they ok?" she asked, her voice heavy with concern.
"They're fine," Smith assured her. "Unfortunately, there's little that can be done, at the moment, to get them back."
As what little signs of hope on Mrs. Robinson's face vanished, Smith gently squeezed her arm and reassured her. "We will get them back, my dear lady."
Continue to Chapter 7: A Call To Action