Star Trek - Log 8

Star Trek - Log 8 by Alan Dean Foster

Book: Star Trek - Log 8 by Alan Dean Foster Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alan Dean Foster
died aborning.
    "While we are still classified as beneath Lactrans on the scale of evolution, they do concede that we do not belong in their zoo. We grade high in certain abilities and low in others. This apparent contradiction continues to puzzle them."
    "That's hardly surprising," observed McCoy. "The contradictions within ourselves have been confusing mankind since the beginning of its history."
    "What's this condition they're talking about?" Kirk asked, somehow sensing that it involved more than the Lactran equivalent of a handshake. Their captors had some purpose in mind.
    He would never have guessed it in a hundred years.
    But the Lactrans refused to be hurried.
    "Their abstract imagery . . . so difficult to interpret." Again a frown of intense concentration contorted the first officer's face. "They do not feel that those who maintain zoos belong in them."
    "I wouldn't have put it that way," Markel commented, fairly shaking with impatience. "How do we get out of theirs, then?"
    Spock blinked, turned to the Lactrans, and said, "Like this." He walked toward the display table, past where the invisible wall had been, and over to the table itself. There was no hum, whine, or revealing flash to announce the abrupt termination of the restraining force field. One moment it was present, and the next it simply was not.
    Still pondering the mysterious condition under which the Lactrans would agree to release them, Kirk followed his first officer's lead. McCoy, Scott, and Markel followed him. Lieutenant Bryce hesitated, then turned and started back toward the house to rouse the still weak Randolph.
    As the former captives left the enclosure, the front ends of all five Lactrans turned in unison to follow them with almost mechanical, precision—attentively, Kirk thought. While he could not be sure, he was willing to bet that their captors were prepared to prevent any sudden "instinctive" surprises—such as a rapid attempt to beam back up to the ship.
    Eyeless stares followed the movements of the humans as they picked up activated phasers, tricorders, and other equipment. Kirk did not miss the expression on Markel's face as the leader of the survey team lovingly fondled the familiar instruments he had longed for these past weeks. There was much more to the way he checked out the devices, replacing many on his belt and survey suit, than simple pleasure at regaining denied possessions. They no longer had the significance given them by captivity, but regaining them held a symbolic significance far greater. Markel found a freedom in handling Federation devices manufactured by Federation machinery and hands, instead of falsely familiar constructs manufactured by an alien keeper.
    The survey commander had ample time to indulge himself in the inspection of his lost equipment, because it took some time for Lieutenant Randolph, aided by Bryce, to join them. When she finally appeared, McCoy hurried forward to examine her, moving his hands toward his medikit. She shook off the incipient attention.
    "Please Doctor, no drugs. I want to savor every second of our departure from this place. I promise not to collapse until it's into a Federation bed." McCoy hesitated, then smiled and nodded understandingly.
    Kirk tried to appear interested in the remaining survey instruments, but his attention was actually focused on the Lactrans, who appeared to be observing the byplay between McCoy and Randolph. The captain's hand shifted imperceptibly toward the communicator, which once more rested in its familiar place at his side.
    The movement was not as imperceptible as he thought, however, because as his fingers touched the smooth edge of the device, the front end of one of the watching adults turned toward him. The fingers slid on past and above the communicator to scratch easily at his belly. He sighed reluctantly. So much for trying to beam clear from under the mental gaze of these jailers.
    "Very well, Mr. Spock, let's have the details of this condition.

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