Darkover: First Contact

Darkover: First Contact by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Book: Darkover: First Contact by Marion Zimmer Bradley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley
drew a long, harried breath. “This will have to go to the Medics. No, we had nothing like that here. I suggest you all go and make your reports to the appropriate chiefs, or write them up to present at the meeting tonight. Lieutenant Del Rey, I want your report myself. I’ll see the rest of you later.”
    “One more thing, sir,” MacAran said. “This planet is inhabited.” He drew out the flint knife from his pack, handed it over. But the Captain barely looked at it. He said, “Take it to Major Frazer; he’s the staff anthropologist. Tell him I’ll want a report tonight. Now if the rest of you will excuse us, please—”
    MacAran felt the curious flatness of anticlimax as they left the Captain and Camilla together. While he hunted through the camp for anthropologist Frazer, he slowly identified his own feeling as jealousy. How could he compete with Captain Leicester? Oh, this was rubbish, the captain was old enough to be Camilla’s father. Did he honestly believe Camilla was in love with the Captain?
    No. But she’s emotionally all tied up with him and that’s worse.
    If he had been disappointed by the Captain’s lack of response to the flint knife, Major Frazer’s response left nothing to be desired.
    “I’ve been saying since we landed that this world was habitable,” he said, turning the knife over in his hands, “and here’s proof that it’s inhabited—by something intelligent, at least.”
    “Humanoid?” MacAran asked, and Frazer shrugged. “How could we know that? There have been intelligent life-forms reported from three or four other planets; so far they have reported one simian, one feline, and three unclassifiable—xenobiology isn’t my speciality. One artifact doesn’t tell us anything—how many shapes are there that a knife could be designed in? But it fits a human hand well enough, although it’s a little small.”
    Meals for crew and passengers were served in one large area, and when MacAran went for his noon meal he hoped to see Camilla; but she came in late and went directly to a group of other crew members. MacAran could not catch her eye and had the distinct feeling that she was avoiding him. While he was morosely eating his plateful of rations, Ewen came up to him.
    “Rafe, they want us all at a Medical meeting if you have nothing else to do. They’re trying to analyze what happened to us.”
    “Do you honestly think it will do any good, Ewen? We’ve all been talking it over—”
    Ewen shrugged. “Mine is not to reason why,” he said. “You’re not under the authority of the Medic staff, of course, but still—”
    MacAran asked, “Were they very rough on you about Zabal’s death?”
    “Not really. Both Heather and Judy testified that we were all out of contact. But they want your report, and everything you can tell them about Camilla.”
    MacAran shrugged and went along with him.
    The Medic meeting was held at one end of the hospital tent, half empty now—the more seriously injured had died, the less so had been restored to duty. There were four qualified doctors, half a dozen nurses, and a few assorted scientific personnel to listen to the reports they made.
    After listening to all of them in turn, the Chief Medical Officer, a dignified white-haired man named Di Asturien, said slowly, “It sounds like some form of airborne infection. Possibly a virus.”
    “But nothing like that turned up in our air samples,” MacLeod argued, “and the effect was more like that of a drug.”
    “An airborne drug? It seems unlikely,” Di Asturien said, “although the aphrodisiac effect seems to have been considerable also. Do I correctly assume that there was some sexual stimulation effect on all of you?”
    Ewen said, “I already mentioned that, sir. It seemed to affect all three of us—Miss Stuart, Dr. MacLeod and myself. It had no such effect on Dr. Zabal to my knowledge, but he was in a moribund condition.”
    “Mr. MacAran?”
    He felt for some strange reason

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