The Robinsons and Major West, meanwhile, stuck close together in the confines of the camp their alien captors had brought them to. They had spent the majority of their first day there, with a host of other unfortunate aliens, being processed in, which included decontamination and interrogation. And then there was the paperwork. It seems bureaucracy wasn't something unique to Earth.
The Robinson's primary concern was Will, who had only regained consciousness a few times since their capture. They did their best to tend to his wound, but getting medical attention for prisoners was near impossible. Their secondary concern was Doctor Smith. He had been ill when they had been captured and for all they knew, he still was, with no one to tend to him as they had Will and Penny. He was on an unfamiliar world with no one else for support. At least the six of them had each other. Smith had no one, not even the Robot.
The Professor and Major West spent some time milling about the alien prisoners, gathering what information they could about why they were there and what might possibly happen to them. Communicating with their fellow prisoners was difficult, as many of the translating units in the stockade were damaged beyond functioning, probably by some irate prisoner venting his anger. Despite the language barriers, the two did manage to glean some information.
The aliens that had captured them were not native to this planet. They were called the Amnasi and apparently used this planet as a staging area for their raids on other nearby planets. They brought back resources and many unfortunate aliens as slaves to help build infrastructure there, including their leader's elaborate palace. Their goal was conquest, to expand their small empire in this region of space. Their leader was Mal J'hat, who had a reputation as a ruthless tyrant who thrived on instilling fear in both his prisoners and his own people. He was the youngest son of the leader of their home world, ordered by him, like his elder brothers, to different reaches of the galaxy to conquer and build. Being the youngest, and truth be told, least liked by his father, he had been sent to essentially the backwaters of the Amnasi empire.
The majority of the prisoners seemed quite fearful of Mal J'hat. Just the mention of his name caused consternation. This didn't escape the notice of Professor Robinson or Major West. They relayed all the information they'd learned to the others and suggested they all keep their eyes and ears open for any other intel.
Mal J'hat waited impatiently in his quarters for a report on the humans they had captured. When the report came, it confirmed what he had already surmised. The humans were quite the oddity among the multitude of aliens they had captured. They had no scales or reptilian features like his own species, they had very little hair in comparison to the other mammalian aliens he'd encountered, and they had no natural defenses like claws or fangs. In other words, he felt them to be weak and vastly inferior. If they couldn't perform the tasks he had planned for them, at least he could have some fun with them.
Back at the Jupiter 2, Smith and the Robot were getting the Chariot ready for the trip to the alien base. Smith packed enough food, water, and other necessities for a few days. He also packed medical supplies such as bandages, antibiotics, and pain medications, the sort of thing to treat injuries due to laser blast.
The last thing to be loaded onto the Chariot was the Robot himself. The task was somewhat arduous for one human, especially for one with so delicate a back, as Smith quite often reminded the Robot, but he endured the hardship for the sake of companionship and, if need be, a sounding board.
Doctor Smith settled into the driver's seat of the Chariot and the two set off toward the alien compound. He navigated a circuitous route that would conceal their approach and kept their speed down to avoid kicking up telltale dust. Smith brought the Chariot to rest behind a small rocky outcropping on a hill, which he climbed to use as a vantage point with which to spy on the alien compound.
As Smith positioned himself, the Robot handed him the binoculars which they had recovered earlier that morning with the aid of the Space Pod. Smith lay prostrate and propped himself up on his elbows as he peered at the alien compound through the binoculars. From this closer proximity, several details that were not discernible from the mountain top became very apparent, such as the thickness of the walls, the lasers positioned in the recessed turrets, and the electrified fence.
The doctor trudged down the hill toward the clearing at the bottom, the Robot following slowly and carefully behind. Smith stopped short of the edge of the forest and brought the binoculars to his eyes again. After a few moments, he lowered the binoculars and shook his head.
The Robot gave voice to the very same thoughts running through Doctor Smith's head. “It's guarded better than Fort Knox.”
“It seems the only possible means of entrance is to let them capture me,” Smith mused.
“An excellent idea,” the Robot replied.
Smith turned and regarded his mechanical companion. “A horrid idea,” he retorted.
“But you will have to do it.”
Smith sighed in resignation. “But… I will have to do it.” William needs me, he thought to himself.
He stood there in thought for a few moments before a red claw shot out and shoved him into the clearing. Smith dropped the binoculars and stumbled a few steps before he fell flat on his face. He rolled over on to his back, prepared to verbally abuse his attacker when out of the corner of his eye, he spotted movement. He turned to see two armed guards quickly approaching. He pushed himself up, brushed himself off, muttering a few choice obscenities as he did so, and prepared to delicately extricate himself from the trouble the Robot had just gotten him into.
Smith studied the guards, who in turn studied him as they approached. They wore black uniforms of a thick, leather-like material, complete with chest plates, and heavy gloves, which on further inspection appeared to be gauntlets. Helmets with dark visors concealed the guards' faces. A short antenna swept backward on the side of the helmet about where the ear would be, if the guards had been human. Smith deduced correctly that someone back at the base had already been alerted by radio communications that an intruder had been discovered near the gates.
The guards leveled their weapons at the doctor and he visibly stiffened at the unspoken threat. Smith held out his hands, palms up, in a gesture he hoped they'd see as non-threatening. “There's no need for violence, gentlemen.” He waved his hand casually, “You see, I was just out for a stroll, when…”
Smith's explanation was cut short as a laser rifle was shoved into his ribs. The guard's words were short, succinct, and judging from the artificial sounding voice emanating from the helmet, translated by some device. “No talking. You are under arrest.”
The other guard pulled a pair of well worn and slightly rusty manacles from a pack on his partner's back and slapped them around Smith's wrists. The doctor winced as the cold, rough metal irritated his delicate flesh. The rifle wielding guard made his way behind Smith and shoved him forward with the barrel of the rifle. The doctor complied with the silent command, sparing only the briefest of glances backward at the Robot, who was well camouflaged in the midst of the trees.
The other guard grabbed him at the elbow and escorted him toward the gates, still quite a hike away. Smith's body and mind instinctively wanted to offer resistance, but he knew at this point, it wouldn't be wise. Besides, it was all part of his plan, he reminded himself… his poorly thought out and previously rejected plan that went no further than being captured.
One of the guards appeared to be in conversation with someone inside the complex as they walked. Had the translation device been engaged, the doctor would have learned of orders to take him directly to the stockade, foregoing the usual procedures, as no contamination had been found on the other humans and they'd already built a dossier on him with knowledge gleaned from the raid on the Jupiter 2.
Smith marveled at the size of the fortresses' walls and the grandeur of the buildings within the complex, his head moving from side to side to take it all in, as if he were watching a tennis match. This civilization clearly did nothing on a small scale. The stockade, where they were taking him, left little open to the elements due to the harsh desert climate. The area extended back into massive caverns in the hillside, where most of what was deemed “living quarters” were. The guards shoved Smith through the entrance to the stockade, which caused him to lose his footing. He hit the ground on his right side and slid to a stop at the feet of Major West.
“You always know how to make an entrance, Smith,” West teased.
Smith scowled and grabbed the dangling chain of West's shackles to pull himself up to a sitting position, nearly toppling the Major in the process.
Smith wasted no time on petty bickering or slinging barbs. “Where are the others?”
West pointed towards the back of the cavernous room behind him. “Back there. They've kept us all together so far.” He offered Smith a hand getting up.
Standing eye to eye, the doctor asked the question that had been on his mind since the Robot had revealed the details of the Robinson's capture. “How is Will?”
West could tell by the doctor's concerned tone that he not only knew about Will's injury, but the severity as well. That meant he had managed to repair the Robot, the only witness left behind on the ship.
“He's doing as well as to be expected in a place like this,” West replied. “C'mon, I'll take you to him.”
West led the way through crowds of milling prisoners. If the situation had been different, Smith would have marveled at the assortment of different alien beings contained in the stockade and perhaps recoiled at some of the less attractive and bizarre varieties. As it were, he focused on the one task before him and his eyes sought through the crowd, looking only for William. Within a few moments, he spotted the familiar faces of John and Judy Robinson. Next to them, sitting on what passed for a bed in this prison, was Maureen Robinson, tending to her son.
Smith stepped up his pace and quickly passed Major West. He kneeled at the bed next to Maureen. “How is he?” he asked almost rhetorically as he checked Will's carotid pulse and pupil reaction. He didn't bother to wait for an answer and moved on to assess the wound left by the laser, taking care to not let his manacles touch it.
“Doctor Smith?” Mrs. Robinson was taken aback for a second, as was the rest of the family, at the unexpected and unceremonious arrival of the missing member of their party. Despite their relief Smith was ok, the family didn't dare interrupt the doctor's ministrations for a proper greeting.
“He hasn't been conscious much. We've been doing what we can, but they won't give us any medical aid or send the doctor,” Mrs. Robinson supplied.
“The wound's infected,” Smith announced, as he removed his hand from Will's feverish forehead. “Do you have any water? Perhaps some clean towels?” he requested.
“Yes. We have water. Judy?” Mrs. Robinson requested the family's ration from her eldest daughter. Judy quickly brought the water container to the bedside. “No clean towels, I'm afraid.”
“That's ok. We'll make do,” Smith pronounced. Seeing the concern in Mrs. Robinson's face, he patted her hand, smiled softly, and whispered, “Never fear. Smith is here.” Those words had never reassured her before, but somehow they did now. She cracked a small smile that expressed her relief.
He held his hands out and directed Judy to pour a small amount of water in them. He washed his hands as best he could, though they were far from sterile. He flicked his hands to remove the excess water and looked quickly around the room, as if making sure the coast was clear. Then, he unzipped his sleeves and removed several packets containing what appeared to be antibiotic ointment, a few different types of medication, and some gauze.
A grin crept across Major West's face when he saw the doctor's concealed cargo. It occurred to him that it was rather fortuitous, and most likely not a coincidence, that the good doctor just happened to be captured with those supplies tucked away on his person. He made a mental note to ask Smith about it later.
Smith cleaned Will's wound as thoroughly as possible, applied the ointment and covered the wound again. He gently patted Will's face to try to bring him around. The boy moaned softly and Smith requested Mrs. Robinson's aid in moving Will to a sitting position as carefully as possible. He opened a few of the other packets and gathered a mix of pain medication and oral antibiotics in his hand. He once again requested a small bit of water from Judy and directed Will to take the medications he offered, along with the water. Once Will had done so, they rested him back against the bed again.
“That should bring down the fever and help with the pain,” Smith explained.
Mrs Robinson placed a hand on his arm and gently squeezed. “Thank you.”
Smith smiled, but before he could respond, the Professor addressed him. “For once, we're certainly glad to see you, Doctor Smith.”
Smith suppressed a grin and stood to face the Professor. “Despite the circumstances, I'm glad to see you all as well.”
Major West decided at that moment to satisfy his curiosity. “So, Smith, I've been wondering about something. You just happened to have medical supplies hidden on you when you were captured?” Major West asked suspiciously.
“Indeed. My dear Major, if you'd experienced the adventures I have in the past few days, you'd have medical supplies on you at all times, too,” Smith countered.
“And just what have you been through, Smith?” West inquired.
“It was a rather exhausting and dreary ordeal that I don't wish to relive at the moment. Suffice it to say, I learned very quickly to be prepared for anything.” He turned back to look at his patient. “And fortunately, Will is able to benefit from those lessons learned.” The look he gave West said, in no uncertain terms, that the Major would not be able to extract the truth about his capture, no matter how hard he tried. West knew that look well and frowned slightly in response.
West acquiesced and simply replied, “Yes, it's certainly fortunate, for Will's sake.”
Smith mentally chalked up another point in his column and tried not to break his game face.
With the duo's brief joust over, the rest of the family welcomed Doctor Smith and predictably asked about what happened when he awoke and discovered they were all gone. He filled them in, only on the details he wished them to know, leaving out his harrowing adventures on the mountain, but reassuring them the Robot had been repaired and was in good working order. In turn, Major West and the Professor filled Doctor Smith in on their adventures, what they'd learned about the complex they were incarcerated in and the aliens who had captured them.
Once the conversation died down, Smith went back to sit at Will's bedside. He massaged his wrists where the manacles had started to rub the skin raw. “Blast these monstrous things!”
“They won't remove them for anything,” the Major interjected. “Overly cautious.”
“To the point of paranoia, apparently.” Smith glanced at West's wrists. He reached out to inspect one of them closer, but West pulled back. The doctor looked at the Major, his hand still held out, silently commanding him to cooperate. West complied, begrudgingly, and held out his wrists for review. Smith assessed the festering wounds and shook his head. He removed one of the small packets of antibiotic ointment from his sleeve, where he'd concealed them again after their first use.
West pulled his hands back again and refused the treatment. “No, save it for Will. He needs it more.”
“A very admirable gesture, Major, but I'm the doctor here. Leave the medical decisions to me,” Smith asserted. “Your wrists.”
West still refused to comply. “Save it, Smith. For Will.”
Smith let out an exasperated sigh. He held up the small packet. “Major, what makes you think this is all I have?”
That made the Major think for a moment. He hadn't even expected Smith to be able to smuggle that much in. There was no reason to think he couldn't have brought more. He relented and held his wrists out for treatment. “Ok, you win, but use it sparingly.”
The doctor nodded in agreement and set to work spreading the ointment on the raw and bleeding sores of the Major's wrists, while the Major grit his teeth.
Smith looked up from his work to glance at the Major. With a straight face, he boasted “You know, I could've smuggled a small pachyderm into this place if I'd wanted to.”
Caught off guard by the doctor's boast, West laughed loudly. “You know, I'm beginning to think you could. A dozen laser rifles would have been better though. What would we do with a pachyderm?”
“Major, you've always been the resourceful sort. You'd think of something.”
The statement solicited more chuckles from West. What the Major didn't know was that Doctor Smith was bluffing about the ointment. He didn't have more than what he concealed in his sleeves and it was by luck alone that he hadn't been caught with it. The oral antibiotic was what was most important for Will. The rest he could share with the others without endangering Will's recovery. Knowing the Major's value as protection and defense of their party, it was imperative he be in the best condition that could be managed in such a place as this. After he was done with the Major, he inspected and treated the Robinsons. Will, fortunately, had been spared being shackled, given his condition and age.
The next task Smith gave himself, so as to prevent the ruin of the medical care he'd just performed, was to figure out how to remove the manacles, at least while the guards weren't around. He sat at Will's bedside studying the devices carefully. A tap on his shoulder startled him. He turned, expecting to see Will awake, but jumped to his feet when he found a large and rather intimidating looking alien standing on the other side of Will's bed. He stifled a shriek and shrank back, the sight of the strange, frilled reptilian a bit too much for his overtaxed nerves.
“Hello,” it greeted him with the help of one of the few portable working translators in the stockade.
“Hello,” Smith stammered in response. After an awkward moment of silence, he asked timidly, “May I help you?”
“You are a doctor?” the alien inquired.
Smith looked over his shoulder at his companions. They were watching the exchange with interest. John Robinson nodded at the doctor, as if to reassure him they'd protect him if the situation turned ugly.
The Professor's gesture was only a slight consolation to Smith, but he turned back to the alien and answered, “Yes. I'm a doctor… of human medicine.”
“Please. Come. Help,” the alien beseeched.
“Help? With what?” Smith inquired.
The only response the alien gave was to motion in the direction he wished the doctor to follow.
He looked toward Will, hesitant to leave his patient behind. Mrs. Robinson assured him she'd look after him while he was gone. Not wanting to risk the ire of such an imposing alien and calculating that helping it may gain him a future ally, Smith reluctantly followed it after instructing Mrs. Robinson to come get him should Will's condition change.
The alien brought the doctor through a congregation of its species, whom he learned were called the Kir Gal, to a bed that held a very small individual. Its appearance was reptilian in nature, like its parents, but lacked many of the frills and bony structures that adorned the heads and necks of the adults. Smith kneeled hesitantly next to the bed and looked up to the alien who had brought him there. “Your child?” he inquired.
“Yes,” came the response.
The doctor looked over the child, uncertain of where to start. “I know nothing of your species' physiology,” he confessed. “I'm not sure what help I can be.”
“Please, try. You must try,” the alien implored.
Something in the appeal touched the doctor, despite his aversion to the alien's appearance. Smith requested information from the alien in an attempt to equate human organs and their functions with the equivalent for the alien's species, if they even existed. Though their medical knowledge was primitive, several of the reptilians provided the requested information, chiming in with normal respiratory rates, temperatures, and the like. With a crash course in Kir Gal physiology, Smith checked the child over as best he could. He suspected the child was suffering from malnutrition and in his weakened state, may have picked up one of the common alien diseases running rampant through the stockade.
The reptilians nodded and whispered amongst themselves as Doctor Smith relayed his suspicions. The only treatment available was plenty of rest, hydration, and extra food rations and each of the Kir Gal offered to sacrifice some of their rations for the child. As a medical professional, the situation irritated Smith, as he could tell their captors had the means and technology to take better care of their prisoners. He assumed they simply chose not to and he was right. Unfortunately, the children, like Will and this small alien before him, were the most vulnerable and likely to suffer from this neglect.
The aliens offered their thanks and Smith accepted it graciously. Before he left, he asked if the Asmani had medical practitioners on the premises. He was given the name of the chief doctor and directions to ask the guards for a meeting. The Kir Gal assured Smith that the doctor was very unlike the Asmani leadership and was as sympathetic an ear he'd find in the Asmani society. However, Mal J'hat had strict orders denying medical care to prisoners, so any meeting may prove futile. A sympathetic ear was exactly what Smith needed. He had only planned to request medical aid, which now seemed very unlikely to be fulfilled, but perhaps this alien doctor could provide something else. Smith vowed to meet the man to find out.
Continue to Chapter 5: A Mutually Beneficial Proposition