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Divided Planet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Mmringorr, a Grringol leader who befriends the family during their time of grief.  This picture is a doctored version of a grizzly bear originally drawn by Janis Whitcomb.  I took one look at it and immediately said to myself-- Ugorrim.  Thank you, Janis.

This is Rrangruk, an ursoid physican who helps John.  His people, the Rylorr are at war with the Grringol, another group of bear-like creatures.  

 

 

Divided Planet was originally written more than six years ago, before I was even on the internet. (I only had Juno email access.)   I had watched bits of a Lost in Space marathon on SciFi channel to celebrate the arrival of the New Line Cinema film remake and it brought back memories.  Those few minutes plus what was in my memory was all I had to go by when I wrote and then emailed this story to the Cat in the Hat, who graciously formatted it and put it on her web site.   I have since watched more episodes, dug up 'biographical' information, talked with LIS aficionados and written much, much more about our intrepid space heroes.   When I was faced with having to post my LIS stories elsewhere, I saw that there were many mistakes, both in story line and in grammar and sentence structure.  While the number of chapters has remained pretty much the same, the chapters themselves have become somewhat longer, filled out with more detail, which hopefully will make the story better. 

 

Divided Planet takes place just after the end of the series when the family has been lost for almost three years.  They find themselves inexplicably grounded on a seemingly uninhabited world.  The barren planet holds secrets that literally tear the family apart. 


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The Robinsons, Don West, Dr. Smith, the Robot, Jupiter II are all the property of Twentieth Century Fox.  I have used them with much gratitude and no monetary profit.  The Urgorrim are figments of my imagination.  I am willing to share them, but would prefer that you ask first. 


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This story, original and revised is lovingly dedicated to Patricia Crumpler.  She kept my characterizations in line and has kept me laughing and believing for three years now.  Believing in what, you ask?   Dreams, hopes, friendship; and in myself...    Thank you so much. 

 

 

 

Part One:  Deadly Visitor

 

  Major Don West grunted in pain as he kicked at a strut holding the ramp in place.  Professor John Robinson understood his friend’s frustration, and sometimes wished he could do the same thing to vent his anger.  This forced landing scenario had been repeated too many times of late.  Too many things going wrong, too often.  This time the navigational program had acted up, causing their unscheduled landing on this unknown and uninhabited planet. 

That was one thing that John was very grateful for.   The stress of wondering when unknown assailants of various shapes or sizes might attack a member of the family was nerve-wracking.  When they left Earth, the idea of an entire family colonizing a new planet had seemed wonderful, an answer to the adventurous spirit of the human race.  And at that time, John had felt very adventurous.  Now all John felt about the 'family in space' notion was a desire to confront the idiot who had suggested the idea in the first place. 

Smiling, the professor remembered that he DID confront the idiot every morning in the mirror when he shaved.  He and, then Alpha Control chief Roland McGuire had come up with that winner at a staff meeting more than five years before the launch of the Jupiter II.  And even at that time John had been thinking of his own family.  From the perspective of the present, his naiveté was laughable.

Don stared toward the distant horizon, absently running a hand through his dark, wavy hair.   John looked in the same direction and saw, in his mind, a planet, the planet of their first exile.   It was very much like this one.  Priplanus, though, was more desert-like, with sandy soil.  This planet was rockier, less hot, but in its own way every bit as barren as Priplanus.   He knew his attitude was different, too.  He and Don had not figured out their relationship toward one another yet on that first planet.  He was no less concerned about his responsibilities toward his family and crew now, but he was definitely less frenetic about it. 

John laid a hand on the pilot’s shoulder.  The two men had gone from not really knowing each other, dealing with one another on a very professional basis to a relationship where they had absolute trust in each other.  They had become friends, not colleagues.  "Do you feel better, Don?" he asked, with a slight chuckle.   Both men were tall and slender, hardened by their three year ordeal in space.

"No, I don't, and now my foot hurts," Don grumbled.  "We’ve been all through the navigational computer-- the hardware, the software, everything.  I’ve even checked the external instruments.  What in the world have we missed, John?"

"I don't know," the older man admitted.  He, too, ran a hand through his hair, completely puzzled by the latest dilemma.  "If I didn't know better, though, this seems very similar to the incident on Margonis II, when we were forced to land by a remote targeting device.  Silly thought, since this planet is totally uninhabited, with absolutely no sign of civilization, living or dead."

Maureen Robinson walked down the ramp, kissed her husband, and then asked,  "How are you two doing?"  Her reddish bronze hair shone softly in the evening light of the golden sun. 

"We're not doing, Maureen," John replied.  "I think it's time to take a break and give it a rest for awhile.  Maybe tomorrow morning we’ll think of something that is eluding us right now."

"Good idea, dear.  Come in and get something to eat.  The children decided to see what the replicator could come up with for dinner.  I have had a veritable vacation, just watching them.  In fact, it allowed me some time to work on the survey program that gave us trouble on that desert planet we landed on a couple of months ago.  Hopefully any future surveys should be more detailed. " Maureen said.  "Oh, and by the way, you two had better not say anything about the combination of foods, either," she added, laughing.  Despite everything that had happened to them in the past three years, her eyes still held boundless optimism in their depths. 

John caught her in a tight hug, before they went up the ramp.  "It's about time the children learned to cook.”   John appreciated the sacrifice Maureen had made.  She had elected to devote her time to the children even before his career choice that had led to this expedition, foregoing her field of expertise.  Her support of his leadership wasn't lost on him either.  And knowing the times he was frustrated, short tempered and irritable during all their travels made John realize how fortunate he really was.  He was grateful for her silent strength.

John kissed his wife tenderly.  Smiling, Maureen looked up, and, teasing, asked, "What did I do to deserve that?"

"Married me," he said softly.  "And put up with me."

   

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Later that night, John woke up from a restless sleep, unable to let the problem with the navigational computer rest.  He slipped out of his and Maureen's cabin and sat down in front of the computer monitor to study the problem again.  The Robot slid up behind him.  "Professor Robinson," it intoned.  "You need to rest.  Lack of sleep will not help you solve the problem."

John just waved the Robot away without even turning to look at him.  "Professor Robinson, if I plug into the central computer core, I can do a diagnostic scan while you work at your terminal.  It is possible that I may be able to detect some aberration in the navigational software," it said.  "I would like to help you solve your problem."

This time, John did turn around, even though he knew it wasn't necessary to look at the Robot when he answered him.  "I would appreciate that very much.  Your sensitive detection software may very well find something that Don and I have overlooked."  He pulled out the linking device from the body of the robot and hooked it into the appropriate input of the computer terminal.   Then turning back to the computer screen, he typed in more figures and scanned more data. 

This went on for an hour before John sighed, rose stiffly out of his chair and walked around the control room, stretching.  "I assume that you detected nothing out of the ordinary?" he asked the Robot.

"Negative on the navigational problem, Professor Robinson, but I am picking up a signal from the far side of this system's sun.  It appears that this is a binary star system.  I cannot compute why I was unable to detect this when we came into the solar system."

"Perhaps because my wife worked on the survey program just this afternoon," he said with a wry smile.  "Pull up the information on the monitor." The Robot complied immediately.   John gazed intently at the displays, a puzzled look on his face.  "Are you making more sense of this than I am, Robot?" he asked.  But before the Robot could answer, the professor slapped his forehead and exclaimed, "A neutron star, no wonder we couldn't detect it!  What is its orbit, how close will it come to this planet and how soon?"

"It is an elliptical orbit, carrying the star within 200,000,000 kilometers of this planet.  The time of its closest arrival is seven days, since its orbital direction is opposite of the orbits of the planets in this system.  That, too, is an aberration."  The Robot paused for a brief minute.  "The implications of this information indicates extreme danger for you and the entire crew.  Since the Jupiter II cannot fly at this time, then a safe place must be found to stay during the passing of the neutron star."

"Yes, I agree.  I want you to run every kind of test possible on the area that we are in now.  Your job is to make sure that everything is done to secure the ship during the star's passing.  Don and I will break out the Chariot and get it ready for travel.  Maureen and Will can use the short-range scanners to find someplace safe for all of us.  I want you to go over all of these findings. I don't want any surprises this time around. The others will prepare whatever we need as we find out more information."

"Yes, Professor Robinson.  Everything I have computed from the evidence gathered also points to a periodic changing of the planetary axis, in other words, a realignment of the tilt of the planet, which will surely occur when the planet is at its closest point with the neutron star.  I am unable to compute how much of a deviation it will be, but you must be prepared for a drastic change in meteorological conditions," the Robot informed him.

John drew in his breath sharply at the implications of the Robot's statement.  "Seismic disturbances will be guaranteed as well," he commented with a feeling of dread.  The Robot’s affirmative response only increased his feelings of impending danger.

The next morning John called his family, Don West and Dr. Zachary Smith together in the control room to inform them of his and the Robot's findings.  As if to confirm his predictions, the group began feeling tremors that intensified as the day wore on.  The mild and balmy weather of the past two weeks also began changing.   Winds became intense at times and made outside work nearly impossible. 

An area approximately eighty kilometers away proved to be the most stable place within range of the Chariot in the short time the group had.  Surprisingly, it proved to be a cave network in a small mountain range that was astonishingly solid.  While astounded at this irony of nature, John wasn’t about to look this gift horse in the mouth.  The Chariot was loaded with the utmost care, seeing as how there were seven people with all their supplies traveling in the small all-terrain vehicle meant for only six people and a robot.  Due to the intense weather changes, the Chariot was loaded in the cargo bay, the cramped quarters making for even more stressful circumstances.

As the neutron star swung around its larger sister, the group was able to witness the awesome beauty of the stars' dance through their long-range scanners.  Drawing plumes of gas from the larger sun, the smaller star appeared to be hooked to it on a flaming leash.

It took two days of hard, backbreaking and intense work to prepare everything that was needed.  The Robot was anchored to the deck and attached to the central computer.  Thankfully the ship was resting some distance from fault zones, but it was still out in the open and might prove vulnerable to the capricious whims of the weather.  And although it was securely anchored into the bedrock, there was the distinct possibility of movement.  Finally John was as satisfied as he could be under the circumstances. 

"Let's get out of here, before the winds are strong enough to pick up the Chariot and carry it away," he commented.  The howling blasts of wind had developed a bitter cold edge and the group dressed in cold weather gear.  John couldn’t help but think of a similar exodus they had made on Priplanus.   He sincerely hoped that the ending here turned out as well as the one had there.

Guiding the vehicle proved to be a study in intense concentration and skill.  Don was unable to hang on to the steering mechanism for longer than one hour at a time, John for a bit less, and Maureen and Smith for only a short time.  During his tenure at the controls, Smith was so intensely afraid of the bucking motions of the chariot that he forgot to complain until someone else had taken over.   Then his vociferous whining continued until everyone’s nerves were raw. 

By the end of the first day of travel, the entire group was exhausted.  Parking the chariot in the lee of a bluff allowed the travelers some respite from the wind and sleet.  While they were setting up camp for the night, the sleet soon changed into a bitterly cold sleet/snow mix that felt like gun driven pellets when it hit the skin. 

"Will and Judy; you tie down that end of the shelter to the chariot, while your Dad and I secure this end.  Hopefully the wind will be moderate enough to keep from blowing us away tonight," Don said.  The shelter was soon anchored and the fatigued crew of the Jupiter II ate quickly prepared emergency rations.  John noticed Don massaging Judy's aching shoulders, as he was doing for Maureen. 

“Mmm, that feels good, dear.  Thank you,” she murmured.   The action of his fingers against her shoulders relaxed him, too.  As he was dozing off, he felt the close familiarity of Maureen's body snuggling close to his in the large sleeping bag, her head on his chest, and he wondered remotely when Don would get around to asking Judy to marry him.  This journey sometimes made him feel old and he was ready to enjoy grandchildren.

 

end part one

 

 

 

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