Chapter 26: The Truth According To Doctor Smith
When Smith awoke, it was in his own bed. The last thing he could remember was being in Kress' embrace and he realized they must have lifted off while he was unconscious. He rose and opened his door to find all was quiet. Everyone, most likely, was asleep.
He made his way to the upper deck and stood staring in quiet reflection at the vast field of stars and nebula. He tried, in vain, to pick out the planet they'd just left, but wherever it was, he couldn't recognize it.
He was startled by a distinctly female voice. "Beautiful isn't it?"
He turned and smiled as Mrs. Robinson stood next to him and stared out into the stars.
"Yes, quite. I never appreciated the true beauty of it until now," he confessed.
"Sometimes," she mused, "we get so wrapped up in all the mundane every day things that we fail to see the beauty all around us."
"Or wrapped up in ourselves, madame."
"Yes, that too," she smiled at the doctor's admission. "Hardship can sometimes bring out the best in those that you might not expect it from. I want to thank you, Doctor Smith, for helping Will and for forging friendships with those who helped us escape. Without you there, I'm not sure we'd be here right now."
She placed a hand on his arm as she spoke. He smiled and patted her hand, then gave it a gentle squeeze. The gesture sparked something in her mind, a memory from a few short days ago and she smiled back.
"Doctor Smith, could you do me a favor?"
"Of course, my dear lady," he replied.
"When you get the chance, thank K'val for me as well."
Smith's eyebrows rose in surprise. "But..."
She leaned in close and whispered, "Don't worry, it'll be our little secret." With a smile and a wink, she went below deck, leaving Smith both perplexed and a little relieved that someone knew. And that someone would not only keep his secret, but was grateful.
The next morning, the Major cornered the Professor, intent on a serious discussion.
"John, I'm telling you, Smith had a lot more to do with all this than he's letting on. That story T'pat told about K'val sidetracked me momentarily, but now my gut is telling me otherwise."
"So, what if he did have something to do with it?" the Professor responded. "If you're correct, we owe him our lives, Don. If he chooses not to acknowledge it, I think it's only right for us to honor that and let him be."
"But John, you saw what happened to the Asmani base. If that was Smith's doing, he's capable of a lot more than we realized. He was certainly capable of... of..."
"Of what?" the look on the Professor's face warned the Major to tread lightly. He knew what his friend was thinking, but he had already forgiven Smith for that transgression. In his eyes, Smith had sufficiently atoned for it.
"Nevermind," the Major grumbled. He was fighting a losing battle with the Professor. He'd have to confront Smith himself.
Smith was on the upper deck, playing chess with Will, when the Major found him. The rest of the family was in the vicinity, entertaining themselves in whatever manner they could. The Major pulled up a chair and sat down to watch.
"Good day, Major," Smith greeted.
"Hi, Don," Will added.
"Better be careful, Will," the Major warned. "This one here's a wily one," he motioned a thumb in Smith's direction.
Will laughed. "I think it's Doctor Smith who'd better be careful," he countered. "In three moves, I'll have him right where I want him."
"Oh, you will, will you? We'll just see about that," Smith made his move and Will frowned as he took one of his rooks. "Check."
The Major laughed. "See that, Will? He has a habit of destroying castles. Don't say I didn't warn you."
Smith's brow furrowed. "Just what is that supposed to mean, Major?" he said indignantly.
"Oh, nothing. Just, when you get near them, they have a tendency to explode," the Major laughed.
"Now, see here, Major," Smith barked. "I had nothing to do with what happened to the Asmani base. The Asmani were quite capable of doing that all on their own. I just stayed in the sick bay and minded my own business like I was told."
"You know, Smith, for some reason, I don't believe you," the Major replied. "I think it's more than coincidence they seemed to use the exact same plan you told John and I about."
"Where do you think I got it, Major?" Smith countered.
"Oh, come on, Smith. Admit it. You planned the whole thing, if not outright executed it yourself," the Major asserted. "And another thing, I don't think you just 'happened' to have medical supplies on you when you got captured. I think you deliberately tried to get captured, so you could tend to Will. And once inside, I think you went right to work on figuring out an escape. Oh, you had a us fooled, Smith. For years, you had us fooled, but now I see what you're capable of. Being trapped on the Jupiter 2 may have been an accident, but it wasn't so innocent, was it?"
The Major's accusation garnered the attention of the Robinsons and they all gathered around to watch the confrontation. Though they each had their own opinions, they kept quiet and let things develop. Even the Professor hesitated to rein in his friend, despite the conversation they'd had earlier.
Smith sat dumbfounded for a moment. He had hoped it wouldn't come to this. He had taken what precautions he could to avoid it. His mind searched for an answer, as he noticed all eyes were on him. When he found the answer, a satisfied grin crept across his face.
"Ok, Major. I admit it. I admit it all. You caught me," Smith said, his voice dripping with sarcasm and disdain. "You're right. Ultimately, I couldn't fool you, you clever man. You figured it out. All these years of me running from danger was just a show to throw you off the track. All the equipment I accidentally destroyed, all the times I ruined our chances at rescue or unwittingly led us into the hands of hostile aliens or got myself into dire trouble that required you to get me out, it was all merely a ruse to convince you of my incompetence. I couldn't have you knowing that I was really a brave, dashing, intelligent super spy bent on your destruction, now could I?"
The Robinsons burst out laughing, as the mental image Smith painted was just too ridiculous to entertain, even if they did believe the doctor capable of sabotage.
"Smith," the Major growled in warning.
Smith paused a moment, but not in heed of the Major's warning. "Now that the cat's out of the bag, so to speak, Major, I'm sure you are simply dying to know how I managed to use my unique talents to rescue you all, aren't you?"
The look on the Major's face made it clear he was unhappy. This wasn't quite going the way he'd expected. The Major's disappointment only egged Smith on and the others were only too eager to listen.
"Well, first, I had to locate you all. I assumed I would need the Robot's invaluable assistance for that, so my first priority was to repair him." Smith leaned in close to the Major and whispered, "Now, don't tell anyone, my good man. This is top secret information I'm entrusting you with." Smith looked around cautiously as if enemy ears were listening, "I know how to repair the Robot." He sat back and smiled, then shifted his eyes back and forth as if to see if anyone had heard his secret. He held a hand to the side of his mouth to shield the sight of his lips from the others, as if telling another secret. "It's true. I worked on him at Alpha Control, programmed him myself."
"That is a correct statement. You did indeed work on me at Alpha Control," the Robot interrupted. "However, Doctor Smith, your involvement in my creation is hardly top secret information."
Smith suppressed a laugh while the Major rolled his eyes and answered, "I know that, Robot. Doctor Smith is being a smart ass."
The Robot knew full well what Doctor Smith was up to and he intended to help the embattled doctor in whatever manner he could. Like the Robinsons, he'd seen a different side of the man during this ordeal, and the human qualities the Robot possessed, however he had acquired them, compelled the Robot to defend his friend. For, if it wasn't for the doctor, the Robot might not be there either.
"Major!" Smith bellowed with false indignation. "I am simply telling you what you wish to know. There's no need for name calling. Now where was I?" He brought a hand to his chin, as if he was deep in thought. "Ah yes, repairing the Robot." Smith went on to give a detailed account of his repairs, including slicing his hand open and his impromptu theatrical performance.
The Robinsons sat in silence, fascinated and entertained by the doctor's tale. The Major was silent too, completely exasperated, but he let the man continue in the hope he'd find some nugget to latch on to that would convict the pompous wind bag.
"Next, I had to scout out the area. What better place than the mountain to the north of camp? Now, Major, I had no inclination to climb that beast. As you very often point out, I'm simply not in the physical condition required. So, I borrowed the jet pack and made it to the summit, and not without difficulty. The fuel was exhausted only feet from my goal. I managed to make it to a ledge, but nearly met my demise as the weight and unwieldy nature of the jet pack dragged me toward the cliff's edge. Fortunately, I was able to free myself in time, though unfortunately the jet pack was lost in a crevice, a fate I surely could have shared."
"Aha!" the Major jumped up. The jet pack!" He pointed at Smith. "If the jet pack is missing, this proves everything."
"It proves nothing, Major, except that the jet pack is missing."
"We'll see about that," the Major raced off to check for the jet pack.
Smith smiled and waited patiently, for he knew something the Major did not. The Robot had retrieved and repaired the jet pack the day after the incident. He glanced at the Robot, who sat silent, giving nothing away.
A few minutes later, the lift appeared with the Major on it. His face was sullen and in his hands, he carried the jet pack.
"Well, Major, it appears you found the jet pack! How fortunate," Smith said cheerily.
The Robinsons weren't quite sure what to think. The Major, however, had plenty on his mind.
"Smith, you're sitting there lying through your teeth and leading me on a wild goose chase. So help me, I'm gonna..."
The Robot picked that moment to interrupt. "Major West, I do not detect any deception in Doctor Smith's voice."
"Thank you, ninny. You're a true friend," Smith complimented.
"Yeah, well, a complete sociopath could fool your sensors, Robot."
"Major, I believe I'm the psychiatrist here. I may be many things, but I'm not a sociopath, that you can be sure of."
"He could have reprogrammed the Robot," the Major suggested.
"Ah, you do have a point, Major. I have admitted I know how to program the Robot. That's exactly what I did, reprogrammed the Robot," he glanced over to the mechanical man.
"Doctor Smith, I detect deception in your voice," the Robot replied.
"Or maybe I didn't reprogram the Robot," Smith added with a grin.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you, Smith?" the Major asked, somewhat defeated.
"Immensely," Smith admitted.
The Major sighed heavily. "I'll find something in your story, Smith. Something. Please... continue."
Smith nodded appreciatively. "As I was saying, I narrowly avoided meeting my demise on that mountain, not once, but twice. Having lost the jet pack," Smith grinned, "I was forced to climb down. Everything went quite well until I came to a path that had been eroded away, leaving a quite sizable gap. Knowing it was my only way down and that failure to get off that mountain would leave you all to an uncertain fate, I took the leap. I nearly made it, but fell a little short. I struggled to pull myself up on the other side, but gravity worked against me. Did I mention, Major, that I'm simply not in the physical condition required for such an adventure?"
The Major nodded with a roll of his eyes.
Smith stood and placed his hands on atop the torso of the Robot. "If it weren't for my good friend here, coming to my rescue in the Space Pod, I wouldn't be standing here today."
The Professor piped up and questioned the Robot. "Robot, after our crash landing, was the Space Pod accessible?"
"Negative, Professor Robinson. The hatch was damaged in the crash," the Robot reported.
"But the hatch was repaired when we returned to the ship," the Major added.
"That is correct," the Robot answered. "I repaired the hatch while Doctor Smith was away from the camp." The statement was essentially true, however, the Robot failed to mention Smith was on the mountain at the time. He let the Major assume it was when Smith had been captured.
"Shall I continue?" Smith queried.
The Major nodded.
"I'll spare you some of the dreary details, but suffice it to say, the ninny here is responsible for my capture."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." The Professor stepped between the two. "Does it matter who's responsible? Please, continue your story, Doctor Smith."
"Are too," Smith whispered.
The Robot's bubble dropped in defeat, as he didn't dare interrupt after the Professor had given Doctor Smith the floor.
"After such feats of strength and derring do, Major, I was looking forward to some delightful rest and relaxation in the fine accommodations the Asmani provided us."
"I could do without the sarcasm, Smith," the Major complained.
"I can't," Smith said smugly. "Now, listen closely, Major, because we're about to get to the best part." Smith punctuated the words to follow by jabbing an index finger into the air with each word. "How... I... did it." He paused for effect. "You all know much of what went on while I was there, as I was with you in the stockade, but you have no idea what went on behind the scenes." He leaned in closely toward the Major again. "You're not going to believe this."
"I'm sure I won't," the Major replied. "I'm not sure I believe any of this so far."
Good, Smith thought. "I don't blame you, Major. I hardly believe it myself," Smith admitted. "It is quite a fantastic tale. I assure you, what I'm telling you is completely true." Smith stood up, excused himself for a moment, and went to the galley for a glass of water, which he brought back to his seat. He took a few sips and continued.
"While all of you stayed in the stockade, I managed to elude the guards and, as they say, 'case the joint'. I even managed to get a look at diagrams and layouts."
The Major interrupted, "I tried the same thing and got nowhere. T'pat watched me like a hawk."
"That's because you've never had super spy ninja training like I have, Major," Smith replied.
The Robinsons laughed while Major West only grumbled.
"Although... it's quite possible that M'jek and T'pat told me of their plans to overthrow Mal J'hat and gave me information. I then gave you information which aided you in your escape. I simply can't remember everything clearly."
Being the master of deception that he was, Smith chose his words carefully. Technically, it was true his Asmani friends had given him information, but not the information he had shared with the Professor and the Major. That, he had procured on his own.
"I spent much of my time there in complete terror, which as you may know, can affect your mind, including your memory." Smith paused a moment. "Oh, wait. I've already admitted to being a brave and dashing super spy. I couldn't possibly have been that terrified," he grinned.
"Is this going to take much longer?" the Major complained. Smith's arrogance and sarcasm was really started to irritate him.
"Would you like the abridged version, Major?" Smith offered.
"Very well. As you already know, after Mal J'hat had me... executed, M'jek resuscitated me. When I regained consciousness, he asked me to help them overthrow Mal J'hat and free the prisoners. Seeing as I owed my life to M'jek, and knowing I possessed the super spy ninja skills they required, I agreed. So, using my considerable intelligence and incomparable computer skills, I proceeded to hack into the Asmani computer system, crack their encrypted security passwords, and evade their formidable security measures to break into the armory and steal explosives."
"Excuse me, Doctor Smith," the Robot interrupted. "Do you realize, given your physical condition, age, character traits, and past behavior, the odds of you actually accomplishing all these feats are astronomical."
"Are they now?" Smith asked, incredulous. "Hmmm. Well, there's your verdict, Major. The Robot does not believe I am capable of what you are suggesting." Smith turned toward the Robot. "Have you no faith in me, ninny?" he asked in a most wounded voice.
The Robot's bubble popped up suddenly. Smith couldn't tell if it was indicative of surprise, indignation, or any number of the other human qualities the Robot had come to possess.
"Robot, has Doctor Smith been telling the complete truth?" the Professor asked. He had no doubt Smith's story wasn't complete fiction, but he couldn't be positive of what was fact. He knew, however, that the Major would never leave the man alone if he thought any of the story was true. He worded his questions to the Robot as wisely as Smith worded his story, knowing exactly how the Robot would answer them. He suspected some collusion and plenty of performance between the two.
"Negative," the Robot replied. He wondered if the Professor would follow up with a question asking what Smith had been dishonest about. He couldn't be completely sure, but he surmised Smith had never actually had ninja training.
"You cut me to the quick, you traitor!" Smith exclaimed.
The Robot's bubble dropped down again and he backed away slightly from the doctor.
"Robot, do you have a suggestion as to what might have happened?" the Professor asked.
"Affirmative, Professor. I suggest it is much more likely that T'pat and M'jek planned everything and Doctor Smith, having been cowering in the sick bay, overheard their plans. He is simply trying to take credit for their accomplishments." If the Robot could have winked, he would have. He didn't know what had gone on, since he had no memory after his attempt to enter the base, but he deduced the doctor would be pleased with his theory.
The Professor nodded knowingly. "Well, Don, I'm inclined to believe the Robot." The rest of the Robinsons chimed in their support for the Robot's theory as well.
Don realized the same thing as the Professor. There was some truth, some fiction, and quite possibly a little collusion. He'd likely never know the truth, but he did know he was outnumbered, so he grudgingly accepted the Robot's theory.
"Now see here!" Smith erupted at the Professor. He waved an index finger in the man's face. "I am perfectly capable of being just as brave and resourceful as you and the Major." Smith turned to address to the Major only to find himself nearly nose to nose with the man who had come up behind him. He yelped in surprise and scampered behind the Professor for protection.
The Professor folded his arms and smiled at the Major.
"I rest my case," the Robot replied somewhat smugly. The pronouncement elicited laughter, even from Major West.
West smiled and shook his head. "Ok, Robot. I believe you." The Major leaned to look behind the Professor and addressed Smith. "Smith, at the very least, you're a thief. You just stole an hour of our time."
"Not as heinous a thief as you, Major. You stole several months."
"What on earth do you mean?"
Smith flashed a wicked smile. "We never would have been in this predicament if our incompetent pilot, and I use the term 'pilot' rather loosely, hadn't crashed us on this god forsaken planet to begin with."
West's eyebrows rose in surprise at the comment. He saw the tiniest twitch of Smith's lip upward before the doctor suppressed it. "Oh, ho, Smith... " he rubbed his hands together in anticipation. The Professor wasn't going to be able to stop him this time, even though he stood between him and his intended target. As he wound himself up for battle, it occurred to him he had missed his sparring partner even more than he ever imagined he would. West realized Smith did too, as he was clearly baiting him. He could tell by the gleam in his eye. He was going to enjoy this, thoroughly.
"You want to talk about incompetence..." he said, as he skirted around the Professor to take a swipe at the doctor.
"Now, Major..." Smith tried to reason with the man as he slowly backed up, holding his hands up in appeasement.
Major West flashed his own wicked smile before he went after Smith in earnest. Smith took off running, making a circuit of the deck, using various members of the Robinson party and the Robot as cover during his flight.
"I think we should be reasonable adults, Major," Smith suggested. "I'm willing to apologize if you are."
"I think I should wring your neck, Smith," the Major countered, as he faked a move to one side of Judy and then cut to the left between her and Penny. Smith made a mad dash for the ladder to the deck below.
The Robinsons laughed at the spectacle and followed the two to see who would be the victor.
"Major, put that down! I warn you!"
They heard the slam of a cabin door as the first of them started to reach the lower deck. The Major stood grinning outside the doctor's quarters, pounding a ladle into the palm of his hand.
"Don? I'm going to need that ladle for dinner. I'm making soup," Mrs. Robinson declared. She handed him a spatula. "I'll trade you."
The Major laughed and accepted the trade.
Smith peeked out of the cabin door, only to see his tormenter still standing there. "Did I hear you say dinner, madame?" he asked while keeping a wary eye on the Major.
"Yes, she did, Smith. No soup for you." The Major crossed his arms, as if he was daring him to pass.
Smith's eyes widened comically in surprise and then he slammed the door shut again. From inside the cabin, they heard a woeful, "Oh, the pain, the pain..." and no one could suppress their smiles or laughter.
Smith snickered to himself at the way things had played out. For the first time in his life, he told the truth to them about his covert activities. Well, mostly, and they didn't believe it, at least not all of it. He decided he could miss one meal. It was worth it. He lay on his bed and laced his fingers over his stomach. It was all worth it.
Doctor's Note: Well, there you are, dear reader, the completely true and incredible tale of how I saved the Robinsons and Major West from a cruel fate and brought freedom to alien civilizations. Quite inspiring, don't you think? I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I mean, reminiscing about it.
Robot: "I still don't think you had any ninja training."
Author's note: The good doctor and I would like to thank our beta readers (you know who you are) for help shaping this fic. I'd like to reserve special thanks for LadyNRA for her invaluable assistance in bringing this story to life. Without her beta reading, suggestions, ideas, enthusiasm, similar vision of Doctor Smith, and entertaining stories of her own, this tale would have never been told.