When M'jek returned to the room adjoining the execution chamber, his assistants were busy removing equipment from the doctor's medical bag and preparing several hypodermic needles. One assistant had already placed a crescent shaped device on Smith's forehead. M'jek tapped a few buttons on the device and satisfied it was working correctly, grabbed the next piece of equipment. He secured a device containing a breathing mask over Smith's nose and mouth, punched a few buttons on it and it activated with a hiss. An assistant then handed M'jek a discus shaped device, which he placed on Smith's chest. He slid his hand across a panel on the top and checked the settings. He tapped another button on the device on Smith's forehead and then checked the discus-shaped device on his chest again. The lights on the discus had lit up, indicating a heart rhythm had been established, though it was erratic. M'jek verified his assistants were clear of the doctor's body and then tapped a button on the discus. Smith's body jerked and lights on the discus began to pulse in sync with his heart beat. Satisfied the circulation in Smith's body had been properly re-established, M'jek requested from an assistant a series of hypodermic needles, which he injected into Smith.
M'jek watched over the human doctor for about a minute and satisfied his patient was stable, covered Smith's body in the sheet again for transport to the sick bay. As they left the small room and the execution chamber with Smith's body, M'jek spared a glance at the humans again as they were being unchained and led back to the stockade. Each of the humans stared at the gurney as it disappeared into the corridor and out of view.
When the Robinsons and West arrived back at the stockade, the mood was very subdued. Many aliens, and even guards, offered their condolences to the humans, while others respectfully left them alone in their grief. It was clear, however, that very few of the prisoners were untouched by the doctor's fate, even though the death of a prisoner was a fairly common occurrence there. The Robinsons and Major West trudged back to their camp completely numb. The sight of the boxes of unused medical supplies and Smith's empty cell only reminded them of their loss and fresh tears fell.
Major West let loose his frustration and grief on an errant box, kicking it with all his might. It sailed in a long arc, bouncing off the wall at an angle and sliding to stop inside Smith's former cell. Judy came up behind him and put a supportive hand on his shoulder, which he instinctively wanted to shrug off, but didn't for her sake. He turned to face her and she buried her face into his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and rested his head against hers.
Will and Penny laid down in their respective beds and sobbed gently, while their parents sat quietly next to each other on a nearby bed. Mrs. Robinson dabbed away her tears with a small kerchief before they threatened to fall. The Professor hugged her to his chest and rested his chin atop her head.
The inhabitants of the Jupiter 2 had been through many harrowing adventures together and many close calls. One thing they hadn't yet experienced was the death of one of their own, until now.
M'jek sat at his desk, preparing a report on Smith's execution for Mal J'hat. One of his assistants interrupted him, informing him Smith needed tending to. The two of them walked to the doctor's bedside in the sick bay adjoining the doctor's quarters.
"I think he's regaining consciousness, sir," the assistant said.
M'jek checked Smith's vital signs and waited.
Smith stirred and his eyes fluttered open. A look of confusion washed across his face. He recognized his surroundings as the alien complex he had been imprisoned in. "Oh, great. I'm in hell," he muttered. When M'jek laughed, Smith turned his head to see the alien doctor sitting next to him. His brow furrowed and he tossed aside his initial assessment. "I'm... alive. Why am I alive?"
M'jek laughed. "Because Mal J'hat is an idiot."
Smith's eyebrows raised and the answer dawned on him. "You deceived Mal J'hat. You didn't execute me."
"Oh, you were quite dead, doctor. But, Mal J'hat made the mistake of trusting me to carry out his wishes," M'jek explained. "After he verified you were dead, I resuscitated you."
Smith closed his eyes and swallowed hard. When he opened them again, he offered sincere gratitude. "Thank you... my friend. Although, you could have let me in on it all. I very well could have succumbed to cardiac arrest."
"You're welcome," M'jek offered. "And, technically, you did succumb to cardiac arrest." Seeing the pained look on Smith's face, the alien doctor laughed. "I am sure you could have pulled it off, had you known what I had planned, but the best performance is always the most genuine. I'm sorry you had to go through that," he apologized.
Smith smiled. "Believe me, my dear sir, for a second chance at life, it was worth it."
"I couldn't very well let a man with your talents slip through our fingers," M'jek explained.
Ah, there's the rub, Smith thought. His eyes narrowed as he regarded the alien. "And here I thought your motives were altruistic, doctor. Am I to understand you wish to know if this gesture has changed my mind with regards to helping you?"
"You are correct," M'jek confirmed. "What better agent to have working for us than a dead man? No one will suspect you."
Smith laughed. "I suppose I cannot argue with that logic. I'm at your disposal, sir. No one would like revenge against that terrible tyrant more than I."
"Good," M'jek stated. "T'pat has already secured a guard's uniform for you to wear." M'jek walked to a nearby cabinet and removed the uniform from a drawer. He grabbed the black helmet sitting on his desk and went to Smith's bedside.
Smith sat up, regarded the uniform, and quipped, "Black was always my color." He accepted the uniform and fingered the material. He looked up at M'jek, a question clearly on his mind. "The Robinsons?"
"They think you're dead," M'jek said apologetically. "And it will have to remain that way."
Smith nodded solemnly. "Understood." It pained him to have to keep his survival concealed from the Robinsons, especially the children. He knew their reunion, should he be successful, would be sweet and he consoled himself with that. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and grunted in pain, bringing a hand to his left side.
M'jek placed the helmet on the bed next to Smith. He went to his cabinet and removed a small vial and a syringe. He filled the needle, grabbed what appeared to be an alcohol swab, and sat next to Smith.
"What's that?" Smith asked, curious.
"A rather potent painkiller, courtesy of some of our prisoners," M'jek explained as he rolled up Smith's sleeve and swabbed the injection site.
Smith began to question what that meant when M'jek injected the drug. He immediately felt it begin to work and within seconds, the pain in his side was gone. All his pain was gone, and with it, the question he had on his mind.
M'jek smiled at the astonished look on Smith's face. "I said it was potent stuff."
"That you did," Smith replied. He began to breathe easier and straightened his back.
"I'll do something about those ribs a little later. For now, I thought it would be best if we got down to business," M'jek replied.
"Right," Smith began. "What resources do we have available?"
"Resources?" M'jek asked, confused.
"Intel?" Smith paused for an answer. When none was forthcoming, he continued. "Weapons? Explosives? A plan?"
M'jek shook his head slowly.
"Trusted allies?" Smith asked, eyebrows raised hopefully.
"Yes," M'jek finally answered. "The Grand Master of the high council and two other members. T'pat knows a handful of guards who sympathize with our cause and are trustworthy. My assistants, of course. And a few civilians I know of."
"That's it?" Smith queried. "I can see why you need me," he muttered.
The look on M'jek's face was pleading for Smith to take charge and do something. Relying on skills long dormant, Smith formulated a plan of attack.
"Ok, to start, I will need access to the computer system... with English translations so I can understand what I'm looking at."
"We can do that," M'jek confirmed.
"I'll need parts to repair the Robot," Smith added. "His talents may be required."
"We may not have the parts you need, but I'll ask T'pat about having them replicated."
"I'll need to find a way around the security systems in the Armory," Smith thought aloud. "As I mentioned, we'll need weapons and explosives."
"Explosives?" M'jek inquired. "Are you sure?"
"It was my understanding that one of your goals was destruction of this facility," Smith reminded the doctor. "I'm sure the prisoners would gladly take shovels and pickaxes to the place, but I guarantee you that explosives would be much faster."
"Of course," M'jek agreed. "I don't have much experience in such matters."
Smith bit back a sarcastic remark about the obvious accuracy of that statement and continued issuing a list of resources he'd require.
"There is another matter," Smith placed a hand gently on his stomach, "that shall require strict attention before we can begin with any of this other business."
"And what is that?" M'jek inquired.
"I shall require a hot meal, as well as a hot bath," Smith answered. "As you might imagine, being dead has taken quite a lot out of me," he laughed. "I'm simply famished."
"Of course," M'jek replied. "Forgive me. Those needs should have been tended to immediately."
"No harm done."
Half an hour later, Smith emerged from the bathroom clean shaven and tucking a black t-shirt into the waistband of his new uniform pants. Passing a mirror, he admired himself, in profile. "Well, Zachary, you look to be in pretty good health for a dead man."
T'pat laughed. "That you do, doctor."
"T'pat," Smith greeted with a nod. "Come to strategize with us?"
"That and..." the guard held up a plate of food that had been resting on the table.
Smith's eyes lit up and he half-jogged to the table to take a seat in front of the hot plate of food. He inhaled deeply. "Smells delicious," he remarked before shoveling a healthy forkful into his mouth. In between bites, Smith spouted such adjectives as "sublime", "divine", and "exquisite", entirely consumed in enjoying the first real food he'd had in weeks.
T'pat and M'jek looked at each other, smiling broadly at the doctor's indulgence of the simple meal. They were so enthralled at the spectacle that they neglected their own plates before them.
After polishing off the last forkful from his plate, Smith pointed at M'jek's plate. "You going to finish that?"
M'jek looked at his plate, smiled, and pushed it towards the ravenous doctor. With a nod of thanks and a smile, Smith dug into the food with abandon. He quickly finished the second plate, pushed it away from him, and sat back, his hand patting a full and satiated stomach.
"T'pat," Smith leaned back in the chair and laced his fingers together over his midsection. "I imagine M'jek has apprised you of the resources I require."
"Yes, doctor. He has," T'pat confirmed. "I believe I can procure a small replicating unit for you in order to replace some of your Robot's damaged parts. Weapons may be trickier. Explosives will be impossible."
"The word impossible is not in my dictionary," Smith answered. "I will find a way and you are going to help me."
Though the guard couldn't fathom a way the doctor could possibly crack the armory's security, he smiled at Smith's boast.
"About this replicating unit," Smith sat up straight, his mind shifting focus. "Have you ever used it to replace electronic components? Some of the Robot's parts are quite intricate."
"Well, no," T'pat replied. "But we've used it for just about everything else. I imagine it would work just as well for electronics."
"What if it doesn't?" Smith asked. "Would we be able to procure parts from the Jupiter 2 without being questioned?"
"Yes. We could take some hover bikes to your ship and get whatever you need," T'pat confirmed.
"Hover bikes?" a single eyebrow raised in curiosity.
"Vehicles that hover over the ground, rather than traveling over it with wheels," T'pat explained.
A wide grin spread across the doctor's face.
"What?" T'pat asked.
"The spark of an idea," Smith replied, "but all in good time. First, we must repair the Robot."
Continue to Chapter 18: Means To An End