The Professor and Major were enjoying a quiet, routine day on the upper deck of the Jupiter 2. To pass the time, they engaged in small talk as they checked instruments and tweaked settings.
"You know, Don, I'm not sure it was such a great idea to officially declare Doctor Smith as our chief medical officer. I didn't think it was possible, but his head's gotten even bigger."
"Yeah, especially after he ordered annual physicals for the entire crew," the Major complained. "You have yours yet?"
"Yeah," the Professor chuckled.
The Major's eyes seemed fixed on a particular panel and he studied it intently.
"John, I think you'd better take a look at this," Major West.
"What is that?" the Professor wondered allowed.
"I'm not sure, but there are seven of them and they're headed directly towards us... and FAST!"
"Missiles!" the Professor exclaimed. "Don, take evasive measures." The Professor picked up the microphone from a nearby console.
Below decks, everyone heard the Professor over the intercom, "Everybody, strap in! Immediately!"
The door to Smith's cabin slid open first and a slightly panicked doctor raced to comply with the Professor's orders. He pressed the button to slide the flight couch from its hiding space and quickly strapped in. The others followed suit. Smith sat fidgeting, his mind racing with all manner of dire possibilities. Mrs. Robinson kept glancing at her children, making sure they were ok. She wanted desperately to ask her husband what was the matter, but knew an order like he had given needed to be obeyed immediately. Questions could wait.
The Jupiter 2 shook violently and tumbled in odd and seemingly impossible maneuvers as the pilot called on years of training and skill to outmaneuver the hostile missiles. The ship was buffeted by a series of explosions, the result of the missiles colliding with each other and not their intended target.
After a few quiet and tense moments, the Professor slowly released a breath he had been holding. "Nice maneuvering there, Don. I think that was all of them."
"Thanks. Now, who would be shooting at us?" he asked.
"I have no idea. Can you pinpoint the missiles' point of origin?"
"I can try," the pilot replied. He did some quick calculations and consulted the instruments. "Got it."
"Good. Change course to that heading. I want to see what we're dealing with here," the Professor ordered.
"Will do," the Major replied.
"Ok, I'm going below to check on everyone."
As the Professor descended the ladder, he called out, "Everyone ok?" He received a smattering of affirmative replies in response.
"What happened, dad?" young Will Robinson asked.
"It appears someone doesn't want us to be in this area of space. Missiles were launched at us, but we successfully outmaneuvered them."
"Missiles?" Mrs. Robinson asked. "Who'd want to shoot at us?"
"Don asked me the same thing. I honestly don't know," the Professor replied.
"Hostile, barbaric aliens, that's who," Smith answered.
The Professor tilted his head as if considering the idea. "You're probably right, Smith. Don located the missiles' origin and we're going to go check it out."
"Personally, I think we should just leave well enough alone, Professor Robinson," Smith suggested. "If they don't want us here, I think we should respect their position and leave."
"How about we leave the command decisions to me and the medical decisions to you? Ok, Doctor Smith?" the Professor countered. "Speaking of which, do you have the results of the crew physicals?"
Smith's face grew serious. "Why yes, Professor." He paused a moment. "Did you wish to discuss them now?"
"No time like the present," the Professor replied.
"Right. Come this way then," Smith led the Professor into the privacy of his cabin. He picked up a clipboard that held the results of the physicals he had conducted. He pretended to consult them, but knew all too well what they said. He seemed a bit nervous, which gave the Professor pause.
"Professor Robinson, the crew is in excellent physical condition, with one exception," Smith stated.
"Is it anything serious?" the Professor queried.
"Terminal," Smith replied dispassionately and professionally.
The Professor's eyes widened in surprise. "What is it?"
"Cancer," Smith revealed. "A malignant brain tumor, specifically. If we were back on Earth, there are treatments that could be attempted. Odds for survival would not be great, maybe twenty percent, but there would be a chance. On the Jupiter 2, we simply do not have what is needed for treatment."
"Who?" the Professor asked.
"He has one year to live, at most," Smith continued.
"Who is it, doctor?" the Professor persisted.
Smith hesitated a moment and then spoke. "The ship's chief medical officer."
"You?" the Professor asked. In one respect, he was glad it was not a family member, himself, or his good friend Major West, but he was genuinely concerned for the doctor.
"I should be able to continue my duties as medical officer for a few months yet. I would appreciate it, Professor, if you kept this to yourself, for the time being," Smith requested.
The Professor nodded solemnly. "Yes, of course."
As the Professor headed back to the upper deck, he saw a large asteroid looming in the distance through the view port.
"Is THAT the missiles' point of origin?" the Professor asked.
"Yes, that asteroid dead ahead." Major West shook his head. "But John, I just don't see how that's possible."
"Maybe it's an outpost with automated defenses for some planet in this area of space. Maybe we've come upon an alien civilization that's very territorial," the Professor suggested.
"Possible. Or maybe there's an alien ship hiding behind the asteroid," the Major theorized.
"I guess we won't know until we check it out," the Professor stated. "Can you take us in for a closer look?"
"Aye, aye, Captain," West said with a smile.
"Robot," the Professor called, "How do you feel about a little extravehicular excursion?"
"It is what I was programmed for, Professor Robinson. Do you wish me to analyze the surface of the asteroid?"
"That's correct," the Professor confirmed.
"Professor Robinson, I have been monitoring the asteroid. It appears to be pursuing an independent course through space. Gravity of nearby bodies do not appear to affect it."
Major West turned around to address the Robot. "Are you saying that thing is powered?"
The Professor and the Major looked at each other, incredulous.
"Now I've seen everything," the Major announced. "That asteroid is a ship!"
"Affirmative. Major West, I've calculated the asteroid ship's course. It is on a collision course with the planet we left just two weeks ago."
"Daran V?" the Professor asked. "That planet is inhabited... by billions of people."
"Affirmative. Three billion, seven hundred, twenty-four million."
"John, we have to do something if we can. Maybe we can gain access to its controls and change its course so it misses Daran V."
"Estimated time of impact," the Robot continued, "thirty-six days."
"I agree with you, Don. We have to at least try something. Land us on the surface. You, me, and the Robot will investigate."
Major West nodded and plotted a course to the asteroid's surface.
"I would like to go with you."
The Professor turned to see Doctor Smith standing near the lift. "Doctor Smith, Major West and I will handle this... with the Robot."
"An asteroid spaceship? Sounds like a once in a lifetime opportunity," Smith continued. "Who knows if I'd ever get a chance to see such a marvel of technology and engineering again? My scientific curiosity is piqued." It sure beat just sitting around waiting to die.
"Smith, I think it would be wiser..."
Smith interrupted the Professor mid-sentence. "I'd like to go." He paused a moment, then attempted to reassure the man. "I'm fine, Professor."
"Alright, doctor," the Professor relented. "If that's what you want."
The Major looked questioningly between the two, but just shrugged and went back to landing the ship on the asteroid.
When word of the asteroid spaceship made it to the deck below, there was much excitement. Will and Penny begged their father to let them go with him, but he refused. He ordered everyone to stay below while he and the others were gone.
They landed shortly afterward and Major West prepared the ramp for their egress. The Robot was sent out first through the airlock. When he reported back that there was a breathable atmosphere, the Professor, Major, and Doctor Smith joined him on the asteroid's surface.
The surface of the asteroid was mostly barren. A few strange, large cylindrical objects dotted the nearby landscape.
"Why would someone make a spaceship out of an asteroid?" Major West asked.
"My circuits fail to see the logic in it, too," the Robot replied. "Professor," the Robot changed topic, "There appears to be no lifeforms on this asteroid."
The three men and the Robot walked towards the cylinders and examined them.
"No apparent openings," the Professor observed.
Smith ran a hand along the smooth side of one of the cylinders. "You say there are no lifeforms, ninny, but these cylinders..."
"Doctor Smith, I calculate that this ship is over 10,000 years old."
Smith nodded in understanding. It was possible that whoever built this wonder was long dead.
The three men and the Robot met together in the central area between the cylinders. The Professor was about to say something, when out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement.
The facade of each cylinder had raised and human looking aliens came pouring out. They wasted no time attacking the humans. The Robot charged his defenses, but was quickly rendered inoperative when one of the aliens removed his power pack.
The Professor was busy fending off a couple of attacks, moving quickly to avoid the slashes of their sharp weapons. The Major was doing the same, taking one down with a right cross only to suffer a staggering blow from behind. Doctor Smith, in full panic mode, swung recklessly at anything that came near him.
Unbeknownst to the embattled humans, a female of the alien species had emerged from the cylinders and was watching the fight intently.
Doctor Smith took a few blows and ended up on his back after being flipped. For a brief moment, he considered just staying there, until he saw a sword cutting through the air, aimed straight for him. He rolled and scramble to his feet. He stopped instantly in his tracks. Before him stood the most beautiful woman he could ever recall seeing. His eyes locked with hers and he stood transfixed, utterly paralyzed at her breathtaking allure. Unfortunately, that gave his attacker the advantage he needed and he slammed the hilt of his sword against Doctor Smith's skull. The doctor collapsed in an unconscious heap.
The Professor and the Major were quickly subdued by the superior alien numbers. The soldiers brought the humans' weapons and communication devices to the female, whom they surmised held some sort of leadership role in their society.
She addressed the Professor. "These are weapons?" she asked.
"Of a sort. They're weapons, communications devices," the Professor answered. He pointed to Doctor Smith, who lay unmoving on the ground. "Let me go to my friend." He struggled against the hold of his captors until the female raised her hand and signaled them to release him.
The Professor walked over to the doctor and kneeled beside him. He pulled Smith to a sitting position. "Are you alright?"
Smith nodded groggily. "I think so." He rubbed the back of his head.
After the Professor helped Smith to stand, the female addressed them. "I am Natira, the high priestess of the people. Welcome to the world of Yonada."
The Major piped up angrily. "I can't say I think much of your welcome."
"Take them," Natira ordered. Her soldiers quickly obeyed, escorting the humans into the cylinders and pushing the Robot behind the captives.
Dozens of the inhabitants of Yonada gawked at the humans as they were led through the ship by Natira. She stopped before a door that bore ornate markings along the side. She raised her hands above her head and then moved her hands in front of triangular symbols bearing glyphs on either side of the door.
The door opened to reveal a room containing what appeared to be some sort of altar, in front of which was a low platform. Natira turned to face her captives and ordered, "You will kneel."
The humans looked at each other, then complied. Natira then stood on the platform and kneeled herself. She bowed her head, as if in some sort of prayer or contemplation.
Smith leaned toward the Professor and whispered, "Professor, did you notice? She called this the world. These people don't know they are on a space ship."
The Professor answered, "They've been in space for 10,000 years." A guard tapped the Professor's shoulder with his weapon. The Professor lowered his voice to barely a whisper and continued. "Maybe they don't realize it."
Natira raised her head and stared at the altar before her. "Oh, oracle of the people, most perfect and wise. Strangers have come to our world. They bear instruments we do not understand." She held one of the laser pistols aloft, as if showing it to the altar.
She sat quietly for a moment, then a light in the middle of a star-like symbol on the altar lit up. She bowed her head, as if acknowledging something in some sort of silent communication. She rose, turned, and addressed the men. "Who are you?"
The Professor rose. Doctor Smith and Major West followed suit. "I am John Robinson from the planet Earth. We came here in our ship, the Jupiter 2. This is... our medical officer Doctor Smith and our pilot, Major Don West."
"For what reason do you visit this world?" Natira asked.
"We come in friendship," the Professor announced.
Immediately a sound like the crash of thunder reverberated through the chamber. An angry voice proclaimed "Then learn what it is to be our enemy before you learn what it is to be our friend!"
All three men went rigid as a powerful shock coursed through their bodies. Once it abated, they all collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
The Professor awoke in a large, richly appointed room. He looked around the room to get his bearings. He quickly spotted Major West laying on a nearby divan and went to check on his friend. "Don, are you alright?"
The Major sat up and brought a hand to his head. "I think so."
The Professor saw Smith on another nearby divan, laying very still. He went over to him and sat next to him. "Doctor Smith?" He lightly patted the doctor's face. "Doctor Smith?" When the doctor didn't respond, he patted a little harder. He lifted Smith's eyelids to check his pupils.
"He must've gotten a larger shock than the both of us," the Major suggested.
"No, that's not it," the Professor said with assurance.
"John, I don't know what else could have caused this. At least not anything here."
The Professor looked up at West, the concern was evident on his face. "You're right, Don. The shock affected Doctor Smith more because of his weakened condition."
"What do you mean? What's wrong with him?" the Major inquired.
The Professor's brow furrowed. "I don't think he would have told you himself, but I think you should know now." He paused and looked at the doctor, who still hadn't stirred. "He has cancer."
A look of shock briefly appeared on the Major's face. He nodded slightly in understanding. "How advanced is it?"
"It's terminal, Don. Nothing can be done." The Professor's words hung heavily in the air.
Smith's eyes fluttered open. He moaned and brought an unsteady hand to his head.
"Smith, are you ok?" the Professor asked, voice full of concern.
"I'm alright, Professor" Smith answered. Smith's gaze landed on West. "Are you alright, Major?"
"I'm fine, Smith," he replied.
Smith groaned as he raised himself up on his elbows. "I must be especially susceptible to the power of that odious oracle," he complained.
The Major grabbed Smith's arm and helped him to sit up. Smith looked at West's hand and then up at him. He saw concern etched on his face. Then he looked to the Professor and saw the same concern.
"Don knows," the Professor said.
Smith's eyebrows raised slightly in surprise. He looked back to the Major. Not wanting to address the subject, he changed the topic. "Professor, I suggest we find the control room for this... ship."
The doctor lightly shrugged the Major's hand from his arm, rose, and took a few shaky steps as he brought his hand to his temple once again.
"Doctor, are you in any condition to get up?" the Professor asked in concern.
"I believe I can make it, Professor," Smith answered.
The Robot, who had been reactivated and was standing silently in the corner, rolled forward to offer information. "Professor Robinson, informing these people that they are on a ship may have serious repercussions."
"Yes, well," the Professor considered the ramifications. "So will letting this asteroid ship hit Daran V."
Just then, a thin male alien timidly entered the room. His gray hair and stooped shoulders made clear his advanced age.
"Gentlemen," Smith announced, "I believe we have a visitor."
All eyes turned to the elderly alien, who looked around the room, as if to make sure it was safe, and cautiously approached the humans. He bowed in greeting and pulled a small pouch from his belt. He measured out a small amount of whatever the pouch carried into his hand.
"For strength," he said.
The Professor, always careful not to ingest anything alien without testing it first, was about to warn the others not to take it. Smith, however, had no such qualms. He quickly reasoned that if it killed him, at least it would spare him the slow, painful demise he knew was in store.
The elderly man offered it to Smith. The doctor held out his hand to accept. What the alien poured into it looked very much like herbs of some sort. He studied it a moment, shifted it around in his hand, and then took it into his mouth. The others watched him intently, not sure they wanted to follow suit. "An herbal medicine of some sort, gentlemen. Completely harmless, I'm sure."
The alien offered some to the Professor and Major as well. "Many of us have felt the power of our oracle. This has been of benefit," he explained.
The Professor and Major studied it as Smith had, looked at each other, and then also ingested it. Smith was right, it did smell and taste very much like an herbal medicine similar to those on Earth.
The elderly alien studied them. "You are not of Yonada," he pronounced.
"No, we're from Earth. Outside your world," the Professor tried to explain in terms the alien would understand.
The alien looked perplexed. "Where is outside?"
The Professor's eyebrows rose in surprise. Clearly this civilization had been in the dark about their true situation for quite some time. "Up there," he motioned upwards. "Outside. Up there." The Professor struggled with explaining the concept of "outside" to someone who'd never been outside.
The elderly alien looked upwards, following the motion of the Professor's hand. He looked disappointed, as if he'd just been lied to. He nodded politely. "So they say also." As soon as the words had left his mouth, he winced, as if he'd experienced a sudden stab of pain in his head.
Smith's eyes widened in surprise and he studied the alien closely to deduce what may have caused such a reaction.
The elderly alien continued, "Many years ago, I climbed the mountains, even though it is forbidden." He winced again, in even greater pain.
"Why is it forbidden?" the Professor asked.
"I am not sure," the elderly alien admitted with another wince. "But things are not as they teach us." He brought a hand to his temple. "For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky." He screamed in pain and clutched his head with both hands. As he collapsed, Smith caught him and gently laid him on the ground. The Professor kneeled next to Smith. The doctor had brushed back a lock of the alien's hair and was studying something on his temple.
The Professor saw a red glow there. "What is it?"
"It appears to be something embedded under the skin," Smith answered.
The red glow quickly disappeared. Smith's medical training kicked in and he checked the alien's vital signs. "He's dead, Professor."
The Professor repeated the alien's last words aloud, pondering them.
"He said climbing the mountains was forbidden," the Major reminded.
"Yes, of course, because if you did, you'd touch the sky and realize you weren't living on a planet, but a spaceship," the Professor deduced. "That knowledge seems to be forbidden."
Natira entered the room, followed by a few servants. She saw the elderly alien on the ground and questioned them. "What happened?"
The Professor answered, "We don't know. He just suddenly screamed in pain and died."
Natira ordered one of her servants to fetch the guards. She kneeled next to the body and said, "Forgive him, for he was an old man and old men are sometimes foolish. But it is written that those of the people who sin or speak evil will be punished." She bowed her head deeply for a moment, as if in prayer. As she rose, the guards entered the room behind her. "He served well for many years." She gestured to the guards. "Take him away... gently."
The guards did as instructed. Natira gestured again and her servants brought trays of refreshments into the room.
As the servants were preparing to serve, Smith walked over to the divan unsteadily. He sat down and pinched the bridge of his nose in an attempt to alleviate the pain in his head. This did not escape Natira's notice and she went to him. "You do not seem well. This is distressing to me."
Smith looked up at this lovely vision of a woman he had first appreciated on the asteroid's surface and smiled, briefly forgetting his pain. "Oh, no, madame, I'm quite alright, I assure you."
She smiled back and gazed at him for a few moments. She then turned to the Professor and Major West. "It is the will of the oracle that you now be treated as honored guests." She turned and went to supervise the servants.
"You seem to be the special favorite," the Professor observed, as he and the Major walked over to join Smith at the divan.
"She does seem to prefer your company, Smith," the Major concurred. "I'd have to seriously question her judgment," he smirked.
"The green-eyed monster rears its ugly head, eh, Major?" Smith replied.
"I agree with Don. I find the lady's taste questionable," the Professor laughed. "But she obviously prefers you and you certainly don't seem to mind."
Smith grinned like an idiot and spared a glance towards Natira.
"If you could arrange to be alone with her," the Professor whispered, "that would leave Don and I free to find the power controls to this... world."
"Never fear, Smith is here," he declared. He glanced again at Natira who was walking towards them, servants in tow.
"It is time to refresh yourselves," she announced.
The servants offered food and drink. The Major and Professor both accepted drinks from them. Smith removed one of the golden goblets from the proffered tray and handed it to Natira with a smile and chivalrous nod. When she accepted it, their hands touched briefly. The touch of her warm, soft skin sent shivers down Smith's spine. She smiled at him and stared deeply into his blue eyes. He found he couldn't take his eyes off her. "Arrange to be alone with her", the Professor had said. He wouldn't mind this task one bit.
"To our good friends of Yonada," the Professor toasted.
Smith took a goblet for himself, raised it to the beautiful woman before him, and took a sip.
"We're very interested in your world," West said.
"That pleases us," Natira responded.
"Good," the Professor replied. "Then you won't mind if we take a look around."
"Not at all. The people know of you now."
Suddenly, Smith brought a hand to his head. "Oh, the pain, the pain..." he moaned softly.
Natira looked at him, concerned. "Are you well enough to go about?"
Smith looked up at her. "No, madame. I don't believe I am."
"Then why not remain here," she suggested. "Rest. We will talk."
"I would certainly enjoy the pleasure of your company, dear lady," Smith smiled.
Natira smiled back, then addressed the Professor and Major. "You are free to go about and meet our people."
The Professor placed his emptied goblet on the tray a nearby servant was holding. "Thank you... and thank you for taking care of Doctor Smith."
"Not at all. We shall make him well," she proclaimed. She smiled at Smith again, eager to get to know this stranger.
Smith was so enchanted by Natira that he almost believed her pronouncement. He wanted to believe it, but he was sure nothing could be done for him. Still, he knew her company would do wonders for his state of mind. He knew at least it would take his mind off his situation. The two were so lost in each others' gazes that they hardly acknowledged when the Professor, Major, and Robot left the room.
Smith and Natira shared another drink, then set their goblets on a tray. Natira dismissed her servants, "Leave us." They quickly obeyed.
The one thing occupying Smith's mind, other than the vision of loveliness before him, was just what he'd seen glowing beneath the skin of the elderly alien's temple. The "punishment", as Natira called it, had killed him. Wishing to avoid the same fate, Smith pushed for information. "Natira, I hope you don't think me too forward in asking, but... how did the oracle punish the old man?" Smith queried.
She turned her back to him and took a few steps away. "I... cannot tell you now."
Smith's gaze followed her. Undaunted by her response, Smith continued. "There's some way the oracle knows what you say, isn't there?"
Natira turned back to Smith. "What we say, what we think. The oracle knows the hearts and the minds of all the people," she explained.
As Smith considered the implications of that statement, a sharp pain stabbed at his head. His head bowed and he brought a hand to the affected area in a futile effort to massage the pain away.
Concerned, Natira sat next to Smith. "I did not know you would be hurt so badly."
"It's alright, my dear," he answered, head still bowed.
"Smith, there's something I must say. Since the moment I..." she stopped short. Her heart raced, being in such close proximity to the stranger was affecting her more than she had anticipated.
A little bewildered by her demeanor, one of Smith's eyebrows arched high in surprise. He studied her. Is she blushing? She bowed her head in an almost coquettish manner. He grinned when it dawned on him that she was just as attracted to him as he was to her.
"It is not in the manner of the people to hide their feelings," Natira continued.
Smith listened intently, but offered no comment of his own. He was often in the habit of hiding his feelings. It was a defense mechanism he'd developed very early in life.
"Is there a woman for you?" she asked.
The doctor was a little taken aback by the question. His life, especially the last few years of it, had been desperately lonely. The Professor had Mrs. Robinson, the Major had Judy. He had no one. No one he could be himself with. No one to confide in. No one who truly and thoroughly understood him, yet loved him anyway. No one to be intimate with. He had no one, but was that about to change? He fervently hoped so.
"No, there isn't," Smith confirmed.
She continued her gentle interrogation. "Does Smith find me attractive?" she smiled suggestively.
Smith's heart fluttered. My, she's forward, he thought. Taking a moment to still the butterflies in his stomach, he answered, "Yes. You possess exquisite beauty, madame."
She lowered her head again, demurely, then hesitantly she began again. "I... I wish you to stay here. On Yonada." Her smile was brilliant and confident as she added, "As my mate."
Smith's grin quickly vanished. He wasn't expecting that request, at least not at this point in their brief relationship. His mind raced, as she seemed to be expecting an answer. So much was happening so fast. Without realizing it, he stood and backed away. Why me? Why now? he asked himself. Why not me? Why not now? I don't have much time left anyway, he reasoned. Still, he tread carefully.
"But, we're strangers to each other," he replied.
Natira's smile brightened. "But is not that the nature of men and women? That the pleasure is in the learning of each other?"
She had a point. "Yes," Smith replied with a grin. "Yes, it is."
"Let the thought rest in your heart, Smith," she replied.
The Professor, Major, and Robot wandered the corridors, studying the ship and its inhabitants carefully.
"Incredible as it may seem, John, these people have no idea they're living on a space ship," Major West stated.
"I wonder how many generations have lived out their lives and been buried here without ever knowing that their world is hollow," the Professor responded.
"The people, in the fullness of time, will reach a new world," Natira explained. "Rich, green, lovely to the eyes and of a goodness that will fill the hearts of the people with tears of joy."
Smith stood entranced by her loveliness as she passionately described the future of her civilization on its new home. "It sounds wonderful, very much like Earth," he replied.
"You can share that world with me, rule it by my side," she offered.
Smith's interest was piqued. A beautiful woman. Power. He could think of no better way to spend the short time he had left than ruling over a world with a beautiful woman. One question plagued his mind.
"How long will it take you to reach this new world?" he inquired.
"Soon," she answered. "The oracle will only say soon."
Smith stepped towards her, reached down to grasp one of her slender hands, and brought it to his lips. He kissed it gently, then stared into her stunning blue eyes. "If you only knew how much I needed some kind of future, Natira."
"You have lived a lonely life?" she asked.
He broke eye contact and looked down. Her openness both delighted him and made him uncomfortable. He wasn't one to share his feelings so openly, but somehow she coaxed it out of him. "Yes," he nodded. "Very lonely."
She smiled and shook her head. "No more, Smith." She leaned into him, her hands on his chest. "There will be no more loneliness for you."
Smith grabbed her arms gently and put a little distance between them. "Natira, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you..."
She interrupted him, "There is nothing you need to say."
"Believe me, my dear, there is," Smith replied.
"Then tell me, if the telling is such a need," she smiled.
Smith hesitated a moment. He didn't want to admit his mortality any more than he wanted to face it. "I have an illness for which there is no cure. I only have a year to live."
He studied her face, analyzing her reaction. He saw shock at first, disappointment, then concern. She gave him a most loving, warm smile.
"Until I saw you, there was nothing in my heart. It sustained my life, but nothing more." Her face brightened and even seemed to shine. "Now it sings. I could be happy to have that feeling for a day. A week. A month... A year. Whatever the creators hold in store for us."
Natira's confession had touched the doctor. Nobody had ever professed feelings for him like that, let alone a beautiful woman he'd just met. Smith reached out a hand and caressed one of her cheeks with the back of his fingers. He then slid his hand behind her head, threading his fingers through her silky tresses. He leaned in and brushed his lips gently against hers. She eagerly increased the contact and he began to gently massage her lips with his.
She wrapped an arm around his neck and leaned into him, her other hand resting lightly on his chest. He moved his attention to the delicate soft skin beneath her ear, caressing ever so lightly with his lips. He kissed a soft trail down her neck to her shoulder and felt her shiver in response. He leaned back to look at her. She smiled and lay her head against his chest. He nuzzled his cheek against hers, intoxicated by her scent. As much as he tried to talk himself out of it, tried to convince himself to stay with the Robinsons on the Jupiter 2, he found his heart was deciding otherwise.
"John, I think that's the oracle room," West gestured toward the ornate door.
The three approached and stood before it. "The problem," the Professor said, "is how to get in."
"Professor Robinson, I believe I can translate the glyphs. They give instructions on how to enter."
The Professor gestured for the Robot to be quiet until passersby had gone out of earshot. The three tried to act nonchalant in the doorway of the oracle room. When they had passed, the Robot continued.
"My databases identify this writing as Fabrini, Professor. I have identified it from the data shared with us on Daran V. The Fabrini sun went nova and destroyed its planets. These people must be descendants of the Fabrini, put aboard this ship by their ancestors, to save them."
"Robot, open the door, please," the Professor requested.
The Robot leaned right and waved his claw in front of a particular grouping of glyphs. He did the same on the left. The door slid open in response and all three entered. Once inside, they stood quietly, studying. They anticipated some sort of response from the oracle.
"The oracle doesn't seem to know we're here," the Professor said as he cautiously walked towards the center of the room. West and the Robot followed him.
"John, remember? When we got shocked, it was when Natira knelt on that platform," the Major recalled.
"That's right. Continue investigating. A clue to the location of the control room must be around here somewhere," the Professor stated.
Major West studied the glyphs and triangular panels on the wall while the Professor studied the altar.
"You know, John, there's nothing around here that would give these people any clue they're living on anything other than a planet."
The Robot rolled up behind the two men. "Professor, it would make sense that the people the inhabitants of this ship call the creators are their ancestors who built all of this. They consider them gods."
The Professor's eyes wandered around the room and settled on a plaque some ten feet away. He walked towards it followed by the Major and the Robot.
"This plaque looks like a representation of a star and its solar system," the Professor mused aloud.
"Eight planets, Professor Robinson," the Robot replied. "The same number in the Fabrina system."
"Then there is no doubt these people are descendants of the Fabrini," the Professor concluded.
"None, and no doubt they've been in flight on this ship for 10,000 years," the Robot added. "Danger!" the Robot warned. "Somebody is coming." He rolled into the shadows to hide as the others hid behind the monolith holding the plaque.
Natira entered and knelt on the platform. She bowed her head and sat quietly for a few moments.
"Speak!" the oracle ordered.
Natira raised her head to look at the altar. "It is I, Natira."
"It is written that only the high priestess of the people may select her mate," she stated.
"It is so written."
"The strangers among us, the three visitors, there is one called Smith. I wish him to remain here," she revealed.
The Professor and Major looked at each other in shock and surprise.
"He didn't waste any time," the Major whispered.
"As my mate," Natira added.
"Does he agree to this?"
"I have asked him. He has not yet given me his answer," she responded.
"He must become one of the people, worship the creators, and agree to the insertion of the instrument of obedience."
"He will be told what must be done," she said.
"If he agrees to all things, it is permitted. Teach him our laws carefully so he commits no sacrilege, no offense against the people, or the creators."
"It will be done," she smiled. "O most wise." She bowed her head respectfully, then rose to leave.
As Natira approached the doors and performed the gesture to open them, there was a loud thunderclap. The Professor and Major found themselves unable to move, a painful, yet non-fatal jolt of electricity coursing through them.
Natira ran back to stand on the platform.
"Who are the intruders?" the oracle demanded.
"Two of the strangers, Robinson and West."
"Smith is not with them?"
"Robinson and West have committed sacrilege. You know what must be done."
Just then, several guards ran into the room to assist their high priestess.
"When the oracle releases them, take them," she ordered. "Fools. You think we are children? You think you can do as you please? Commit whatever offense amuses you?"
When Smith heard what had happened in the oracle room, he knew he had to talk to Natira on behalf of his friends. He found her in her room.
"Natira, what is the punishment for the offense my friends have committed?" Smith inquired.
She turned her back to him, unable to face him. "They entered the oracle room," she said in disgust.
From her tone of voice, Smith could tell this was serious. His brow furrowed. "And the punishment... is death?" he surmised.
"Yes," she admitted, her voice heavy with emotion. She turned to face him. "I can make no other decision. We gave them our trust. They betrayed us."
"They acted only out of ignorance, not malice, I assure you," Smith argued.
"They said they came in friendship," she countered.
"Please, let them return to the Jupiter 2," he pleaded.
Natira looked away and shook her head. "I cannot."
Smith moved close and with one hand, he gently lifted her chin to force her to look at him. He gazed into her eyes for a moment, pleading silently. When Natira had told him what he had to do to remain with her, he became unsure if he truly desired it. He did not want the instrument of obedience. He did not want to worship the creators, whom he knew were no gods. But he did want to be with her and he certainly didn't want his friends to die. He could not be happy there with her knowing the Robinsons would be left adrift in space with no father, no husband, no commander, and no pilot.
"For me?" he pleaded.
She turned away, knowing she would have to disappoint him.
He knew what he had to do. He pulled her towards him and embraced her. As he held her close, he whispered in her ear. "I've made my decision." He pulled back slightly to look at her face. With slender fingers he caressed her soft cheek. "I'm staying here, with you... on Yonada."
With palpable relief and a grateful smile, she collapsed against Smith's chest and returned his embrace.
After a few moments, Smith gently pulled her away from him. "Natira, I know you don't understand, but what my companions did was necessary. They felt they had to. Please, let them return to the Jupiter 2. I guarantee you won't regret it."
When Natira remained silent, Smith continued. "My dear, you're offering me a chance at great happiness, but I simply cannot be happy here with you knowing that my friends had died."
She thought for a moment. Understanding dawned on her face. "Yes." That look was followed by resolve. "So be it," she announced. "This, I will do for Smith." She leaned towards him. "For our happiness." Smith claimed her lips, but she pulled back. "And future," she added. Then, she leaned in and surrendered herself to him.
The Professor, Major West, and the Robot stood patiently waiting for Doctor Smith to join them. They eyed the guards with disgust, arms folded across their chests.
A few moments later, Smith emerged from one of the cylinders and joined them. He handed them the weapons and communications devices that had been confiscated from them.
"You're returning with us," the Professor said, more question than statement.
"No, I'm not," Smith replied.
"Doctor Smith, this isn't a planet, it's a spaceship," the Professor reminded him. "On a collision course with Daran V."
"What does that matter for me now, Professor?" Smith asked.
The Professor was concerned the doctor wasn't thinking clearly. Uncharacteristically, he ordered Doctor Smith to return with them. The doctor held his ground and refused.
"Smith, if we can't change the course of this ship, the space fleet of Daran V will attempt to blast it out of space," West added.
"I intend to stay on this ship... with Natira," Smith replied.
The Robot chimed in. "Your decision does not make sense, Doctor Smith."
"It makes perfect sense to me, ninny," Smith countered. "Natira has asked me to stay and I'm staying," he said with conviction.
"As her husband?" the Professor asked.
"Yes," Smith confirmed. "Is that too much for a man in my situation to ask, Professor?"
The Professor used his communications device to contact the Jupiter 2. "Maureen, lower the ramp. We're ready to leave. Don, the Robot, and I are coming aboard."
"What about Doctor Smith?" Mrs. Robinson asked.
The expression on the Professor's face echoed the same question silently.
Smith slowly backed away from them.
"He's staying," the Professor answered. He turned away and led the others back to the ship.
Smith watched them leave, a flood of emotions battling within his mind. Had he truly made the right decision? Could he be happy leaving them behind? He had just bought their lives and freedom and they didn't say so much as "goodbye".
Smith kneeled on the platform before Natira, who stood holding some sort of device in her hand.
"To become one of the people of Yonada, the instrument of obedience must be made part of your flesh. Do you now give your consent?" the oracle asked.
Smith hesitated a moment before answering, "I do."
"Proceed," the oracle commanded Natira.
Natira bowed deeply to the oracle and then approached Smith. "Say now, because once done, it is done."
Smith looked into her eyes and stated, "Let it be done."
She brought her hands to his head and pressed the device tightly against his temple. Smith felt a burst of heat and pressure, but surprisingly little pain. He was overcome with dizziness for a moment, but it quickly passed.
"You are now one with my people," Natira pronounced.
Natira joined Smith and kneeled next to him on the platform. Smith took her hand in his and gazed longingly into her eyes. She smiled at him and said, "May I give you the love you want and make the time you have beautiful."
The two of them recited together the words of the Yonada marriage ceremony.
"We are now of one mind, one heart, one life."
They leaned in towards each other and their lips met in a passionate kiss. Smith's hands encircled her waist as her hand lovingly caressed his face.
When they broke their embrace, Natira turned to the oracle and announced, "It is done, O most wise, our living link with the creators."
"Teach him then, what he must know as one of the people," the oracle commanded.
Natira nodded and together the two rose to stand. Natira led Smith to the plaque with the symbols representing the Fabrini solar system. She demonstrated how to open a secret panel on the monolith. The plaque slid upward to reveal a large book.
"This is the book of the people," she explained. "To be opened and read when we reach the new world of the promise. It was given by the creators."
"Do you know what's inside that book?" Smith asked. He knew this was something important. Perhaps it could tell the Professor where the control room was.
"Only that it tells of our world here and why soon one day we must leave it for the new world," Natira answered.
"Has the reason that the people must leave been revealed to you?"
She shook her head. "No, it has not."
"Aren't you curious, my dear, what secrets it holds?" Smith asked.
"No, it is enough for me to know that we shall understand all when we reach our home," she pronounced.
Smith was about to ask another question, but Natira shot him a withering look that warned him not to pry further.
"John, there's not much more we can do," the Major asserted. "He made his decision. Let's leave and continue on our merry way."
"No. Continue parallel course, Don. There has to be something we can do," the Professor reasoned.
Just then, the radio crackled and came to life.
"Jupiter 2, this is Commander Aram of Daran V space fleet. I order you to leave the area immediately. We must destroy this asteroid before it gets to our planet."
The Professor picked up the microphone and called back. "Commander Aram, this is John Robinson. One of our men is on the asteroid. Please, give us some time."
"Perhaps I didn't make myself clear," the commander stated. "You are to leave the area immediately. You are no use to us. You are only in the way here."
The Professor set down the microphone and looked at Major West.
"I think it's time to move on, John."
"Yes, that's what he told us," the Professor responded.
The radio crackled to life again.
"Doctor Smith calling Jupiter 2. Doctor Smith calling Jupiter 2."
The Professor snapped up the microphone again and quickly answered. "This is John. Go head, Doctor Smith."
"Professor, I believe I know of a way to get this ship back on course," Smith stated.
"You've located the controls?" the Professor asked.
"No, but I have seen the book of knowledge the creators of that ship left for their descendants," he replied. "And if you..." Suddenly a sharp, burning pain stabbed at Smith's right temple. He clutched his head. He knew what was happening. The oracle knew, it knew what he was saying, but he had to tell them. "If you... if you can get... get to it... the Robot can translate... the information."
"Where is it?" the Professor asked.
Smith howled in pain and collapsed to the floor.
"Smith, are you alright? Smith? Answer me!"
The pain was so intense, Smith could hardly think. In the distance, he heard a tiny voice demanding "Smith! What is it? Smith? What is it!"
Natira entered the room with a smile, which immediately turned to shock when she spotted Smith on the floor, writhing in agony. She stood dumbfounded over his prostrate body. Finally, he lost consciousness and the hand clutching at his temple slid away to reveal the red glow of the instrument of obedience.
The Professor immediately ordered the Major to land the ship again. He radioed the Daran V space fleet to apprise them of the situation. They agreed to allow the Professor to attempt a course correction on the giant ship. As soon as they had reached the surface, the Professor, the Major, and the Robot quickly made their way back into the asteroid ship to find Smith.
When they found him, he was unconscious, laying on a divan. Natira was sitting next to him, clutching one of his hands desperately to her. The Professor and Major ran to Smith's side.
"You are killers of your friend!" Natira screamed. "I will have you put to death!"
The Professor tried to check Smith's vital signs, but Natira stood in his way.
"Until you are dead, he will think of you and disobey! I will see you die!" she threatened.
The Professor grabbed her and moved her away. "Robot, take care of Smith."
The Robot lowered his claw and touched it to Smith's temple. A small jolt of electricity jumped from it, rendering the instrument of obedience inoperable.
Natira cried in anguish. "He is not part of our people. You have released him from his vow of obedience."
"We have freed him from the cruelty of your oracle," the Professor countered.
Smith moaned and Natira rushed to his side. She cradled his head in her hands and gazed lovingly at him.
The Professor leaned over the doctor. "Smith? You said something about a book," he prodded. "Where is it?"
"They must not know!" Natira pleaded.
Smith lifted his head. "The... oracle room." His head thumped to the floor as he lost consciousness again.
"You will never see it. It is sacrilege!" Natira scrambled towards the door, calling for her guards.
The Professor ran after her. He grabbed her and placed a hand firmly over her mouth to stop her yelling.
"Listen to me," he implored. "You must listen to what I have to say. Give me one moment to speak to you. One moment."
The Professor grabbed her firmly. "If you don't believe what I'm about to tell you, you can call the guards. We'll accept any punishment you decree."
She thought a moment. "What do you wish to say?"
"You MUST believe that what I'm about to tell you is the truth."
"Your truth... of your world," she spat.
"Truth for one is truth for both," the Professor argued.
"You do not obey the law of the creators. How can you understand my world?" she asked.
"I understand," the Professor said emphatically. "Ten thousand years ago, the creators, your ancestors, built this... world. They were from the world that is on the plaque in the oracle room."
"That is the world of which Yonada is a part," she responded.
"No, it is the world of your ancestors, your 'creators'. We don't even know if it exists any longer."
"It was destroyed by a supernova," the Robot supplied.
"You are mad!" Natira charged. She ran towards the door again and the Professor grabbed her.
"No, I'm not. Listen to me! When your ancestors realized their world would be destroyed, they built a great ship and chose their best people to send out into space so their race would survive. Yonada is that ship."
"You wish me to believe Yonada is a ship?" she asked.
"But we have a sun. It did not die. At night, I see the stars," she argued.
"No, you are living inside a hollow ball," the Professor revealed. "Your ancestors created it to take you on a journey to a promised new planet."
Natira began to believe the Professor. She felt the first small warning pains from the instrument of obedience. "Why should the truth wait for you to come to Yonada?" she asked.
"Because a flaw developed in your navigation controls. Your ship is off course and headed for collision with a populated planet," he explained.
"Why should the truth be kept from us?" She struggled with understanding. The pain grew more intense. "Why should the creators keep us in darkness?"
She believed, but she knew if the oracle knew, she would die. She verbally denied the Professor's words. "No! No! You do not speak the truth! I believe only the oracle. I believe!"
"Let us deactivate the instrument of obedience, the way we did for Smith," the Professor offered.
Natira seemed to consider the option for a moment, but then sighed heavily and ran off.
Both the Professor and Major ran after her, but stopped at the door.
"Do you think she understood me?" the Professor asked.
West peeked out the door. "She understood something, John. There are no guards at the door."
"You have listened to the words of the non-believers!" the oracle bellowed.
"Yes, I have listened," Natira admitted.
"That was the first transgression. You felt the pain of warning?"
"Yes, I did."
"Why did you listen further?"
"They said that they spoke the truth," she answered.
"Is truth not truth for all?" she felt the pain in her head again and brought both hands to her head.
"The truth of Yonada is your truth. There can be no other for you. Repent your disobedience."
"I must know the truth of the world," she begged. The pain became too much to bear. She fell unconscious and rolled off the platform.
The Professor, Major, Robot, and Doctor Smith entered the oracle room. Smith rushed to Natira's side and cradled her in his arms.
She looked up at Smith. "Your friends have told me of your world."
Smith simply nodded to confirm the Professor's words were correct.
"I believe," she replied. "The creators kept us in darkness. There's nothing I can do. I believe with you... my husband."
Smith motioned to the Robot, who immediately rolled over to where Natira lay. He extended his claw and zapped her temple with enough electricity to disable the instrument of obedience. As soon as it was deactivated, Natira sighed softly and lost consciousness.
"Is she alright?" the Professor asked.
"She will be. I'll stay with her," Smith answered. "The book is in the monolith."
As the Professor and the Major walked toward the monolith, the oracle bellowed, "It is sacrilege to the temple!"
"We do this for the survival of the people of Yonada," the Professor reasoned.
"You are not believers. You are forbidden to gaze at the book!"
"We mean no desecration to the faith of Yonada. We must consult the book to help you."
"It is blasphemy! You are forbidden. The punishment is death!"
A thunderclap echoed through the chamber. Gale force winds blew into the humans' faces and the walls glowed red from heating elements buried inside. The room grew unbearably hot rather quickly.
"Temperature is 111 degrees and rising," the Robot reported.
The Professor stood in front of the monolith. "Smith, how do you open this thing?"
"Temperature, 115 degrees."
"Press the three lower planets on the left hand side, simultaneously," Smith answered. He grasped one of Natira's hands, more to comfort himself than to comfort her.
The Professor did as instructed and the plaque slid upwards revealing the book.
"Temperature, 123 degrees."
The Professor removed the book and brought it to the Robot to translate it. "The plan must be in there." He helped the Robot flip through the book until they found what they were looking for.
"It refers to the altar," the Robot replied. The Professor, Major, and Robot converged on the altar.
"Apply pressure to the center until it opens," the Robot instructed.
The Professor did as told and the altar slid away to reveal the control room.
Major West entered first, followed by the Robot. Inside, they discovered bank upon bank of computers.
The Robot rushed over to a particular panel and flipped some switches. "I've neutralized the heating elements," he declared.
The Professor knelt next to Smith and Natira. "We'll be alright here, Professor," Smith stated.
The Professor quickly joined the Major and the Robot in the control room.
Natira sat up and smiled at Smith. He pulled her into a delicate kiss and then brushed away a lock of hair from her face. "You're safe," he declared.
"Your friends have prevented the oracle from punishing us?" she asked.
"And will they send this ship again to the land the creators intended?"
"That is good," Natira concluded.
In the control room, the Professor, the Major, and the Robot were pouring over the book and the controls to determine what the problem was.
"There appears to be a weakness in one of the eight tubes," the Robot warned.
"Enough to turn it off course?" the Professor asked.
"Affirmative. Let me check that engine," the Robot rolled off to perform his task. "Very simple problem," he concluded. "Very easy to correct."
"Let us go see what the Professor and Major are up to in the control room, shall we?" Smith asked. He stood and helped Natira to her feet.
"No," she replied.
"There's nothing to fear, my dear."
"No, I do not fear the punishment of disobedience," Natira clarified.
"Well, then let's join them," Smith urged.
"I cannot go with you. It is not fear. I understand the great purpose of the creators. I shall honor it."
"You intend to stay here on Yonada?" Smith asked.
"I shall stay willingly and because that is what I must do," Natira answered.
"Then I won't leave you," Smith vowed.
"Will Smith stay here... to die?" she asked. "No, Smith will not let go of life so easily."
"Natira," Smith took a deep breath. What he was about to say wouldn't be easy. "I have been with the Robinsons for so long. They are like family to me. I do not think I can say goodbye so easily, especially when I have so little time left. I want you to come with me. Join me, with them, on the Jupiter 2," he offered.
"This is my world," she replied. "You came here with a great mission to save my people. Shall I abandon them?"
Smith's gaze dropped to the ground. His decision suddenly became more complicated than it had seemed before.
Natira slipped a slender finger beneath Smith's chin and gently raised his head until he looked at her. "Perhaps one day, if it is permitted, you will find Yonada again." She fell against Smith's chest, threw her arms around him, and gently sobbed.
Smith returned her embrace. He ran a hand up and down her back in an attempt to comfort her. He nuzzled against her neck and placed a gentle, affectionate kiss against it.
The Robot returned from wherever he had gone. "I believe we can attempt a course correction now, Professor Robinson."
The Professor and Major coordinated their actions and adjusted various controls in order to change the navigation headings manually.
The Robot announced, "It is safe to allow the ship to go back to automatic control."
Major West flipped a switch to enable automatic control and smiled in satisfaction.
"We're steady on course," the Professor declared.
The Professor and Major started out of the control room. Before they got to the door, the Robot stopped them.
"These databanks appear to contain all the knowledge of the Fabrini, ready for the people to consult when they arrive at their destination. I am scanning them now." The Robot sat quietly for a moment as he interfaced with the alien computer. "Professor Robinson, they seemed to have amassed a great deal of medical knowledge."
Smith awoke in the sick bay of the asteroid ship they'd come to know as Yonada. He groaned in pain. His head hurt worse than it ever had before. As he opened his eyes, he saw one of the Yonadan doctors inject something into his arm.
"A little painkiller," the doctor said. "You came through the treatment just fine, doctor, but there'll be a little pain yet until you completely heal."
"Scans show no sign of cancer, Doctor Smith," the Robot announced.
Smith took a deep breath. "Thank you, ninny, for discovering the medical knowledge of the Fabrini."
"Doctor Smith," the Professor began. "The descendants of the Fabrini are scheduled to disembark on their promised planet in approximately thirty days. I don't think it will delay us considerably if we escorted them back and helped welcome them to their new home."
Doctor Smith grinned his approval at the idea.