Authors: Alan Dean Foster
ANOTHER EXCITING EPISODE
FROM TELEVISION'S MOST POPULAR
SCIENCE FICTION SERIES
—Complete in this volume—
THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
A routine follow-up mission to investigate
an overdue survey ship leads
the crew of the
to a world
where visitors are always welcome . . . very
Kirk, Spock and McCoy are suddenly
captured by strangely intelligent aliens . . .
telepathic Lactrans who look
crew as no more than
interesting specimens for their already
It was not a happy situation
for Captain Kirk and his crew. And there
seemed to be no way out . . .
Kirk had the sensation of being lifted clear of the ground, experienced that peculiar sense of helplessness one has when one's feet no longer have contact with anything solid.
That was a common enough experience in free-fall space, but highly disconcerting on solid ground
Then he turned and looked behind him and saw
had picked him up as neatly as an elephant plucks a lone peanut. He was in the grasp of the tail end—he supposed it could be the front end—of a creature some six or seven meters in length.
Whatever it was that had control of him, Kirk quickly discovered, was interested in keeping him intact and reasonably healthy . . .
By Alan Dean Foster
Published by Ballantine Books:
The Black Hole
The Metrognome and Other Stories
Nor Crystal Tears
Sentenced to Prism
Splinter of the Mind's Eye
Star Trek® Logs One–Ten
Voyage to the City of the Dead
. . . Who Needs Enemies?
With Friends Like These . . .
The Icerigger Trilogy:
Mission to Moulokin
The Deluge Drivers
The Adventures of Flinx of the Commonwealth
For Love of Mother-Not
The Tar Aiym Krang
The End of the Matter
Flinx in Flux
Book One: A Call to Arms
Sale of this book without a front cover may be unauthorized. If this book is coverless, it may have been reported to the publisher as "unsold or destroyed" and neither the author nor the publisher may have received payment for it.
A Del Rey Book
Published by Ballantine Books
Copyright © 1976 by Paramount Pictures Corporation
STAR TREK® is a Trademark of Paramount Pictures Corporation registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 74-8477
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition: August 1976
Fifth Printing: September 1991
Cover Art by Stanislaw Fernandes
For REECE and CONNIE WOOLFOLK
For BEATRICE MURPHY
They don't say much about it, but their kind
of people built this country.
STAR TREK LOG EIGHT
Log of the Starship
Stardates 5537.1–5537.2 Inclusive
James T. Kirk, Capt., USSC, FS, ret.
Alan Dean Foster
At the Galatic Historical Archives
on S. Monicus I
For the Curator: JLR
(Adapted from a script by David P. Harmon)
"Captain's log, stardate 5537.1. The
is embarked, for a change, on a routine follow-up mission—to search for a survey ship overdue for report-in in the vicinity of Epsilon Scorpii, last known to be investigating the system of a G4 sun designated Lactra on Federation starcharts."
He clicked off and studied the nearing globe and the yellowish, slightly hot sun beyond. The world and its star were no different from hundreds he'd examined personally or on tape. Yet past experience had shown that the innocuous-appearing worlds were often the ones full of surprises—planet-sized paranoia-inducing
The continuing silence of the survey crew the
was here to locate
be due to some easily explainable equipment failure or minor human error. Could be.
But Kirk was a veteran starship captain, and he always wore two uniforms on such missions: Starfleet regulation pull-ons and an intense, personal wariness.
At the moment there was nothing to hint that Lactra VII was anything other than the recently discovered, inoffensive world it appeared to be. Only the small, obviously artificial shape growing slowly and silently larger on the main screen suggested otherwise.
The vessel was a long-range limited scout, of a minor class designed for extensive exploration of possible colonial worlds. It carried a small crew of first-contact xenologists and no frills, moving at high speed on an unvarying course from starbase to eventual destination. Its large quantity of complex instrumentation was announced by the bristling array of antennae, external sensor pickups, and other intricate detection equipment which almost obliterated the small hull.
Kirk noted with satisfaction that the scout looked undamaged. That probably ruled out any messy natural disasters such as meteorite collision and, more important, interference from some inimical spacegoing race. "Disarm phasers, Mr. Sulu," he instructed the helmsman.
"Phasers disarmed, sir."
The captain leaned toward the chair pickup and activated the log again. "Captain's log, supplemental. We have encountered and visually observed the missing survey ship. It continues to maintain communications silence." Glancing backward, he noted Lieutenant Uhura's confirming nod. All attempts to elicit some response from the craft had failed, though she continued trying.
"There is no evidence of violent damage or sentient attack. Mr. Spock will lead a security team in boarding the ship. End entry." Shutting off the recorder once again, he addressed another grid: "Transporter Room?"
"Chief Kyle here, Captain. Boarding party standing by."
"All right, Chief, send them aboard." He glanced backward. "Lieutenant Uhura, pick up visual and aural transmission as soon as transportation is complete."
"Standing ready, sir."
There was a tense pause, and then the view forward changed to an internal view of the scout. Kirk could see armed security personnel moving about as someone's visual scanner played around the ship's interior.
"Boarding party has integrated, Captain," a voice announced clearly . . . Spock's. "Our sensors were correct. Ship appears pressurized normally, temperature likewise."
The view shifted jumpily. Spock was walking through the cabin. "We are dispersing throughout the vessel, Captain."
"Any sign of life?" Kirk asked anxiously.
"Negative. There is ample evidence of previous tenancy, though. It looks as if the crew fully expected to return. There is nothing to indicate they were surprised, or removed forcibly from the ship. Personal effects are lying neatly about. There is no indication that the crew intended to leave their ship for an extended period."
"Very well, Mr. Spock. Continue your exploration."
Several hours sufficed to show that the only living things left on board the survey ship were laboratory animals. Automatic feeders kept them healthy in the absence of the crew.
Spock did make one important discovery, however.
"Captain, Dr. McCoy," he began as they watched expectantly from around the small table in the Briefing Room, "we found this tape lying in the ship's library, next to the playback slot. There is a duplicate in the ship's banks, but this copy was deliberately placed in a prominent position, obviously to attract the attention of anyone entering the library."
He picked up the small cassette and slid it into a slot set in the table, then depressed the play switch. Attention was focused now on the three-sided viewer which popped up in the table's center.
The tape showed a tense, worried officer in the uniform of Federation Sciences. He was staring into the pickup.
"It is now thirty-two minutes since our last contact with the three members of our crew who beamed down to the planetary surface," the man declaimed. "Each member of that crew was instructed to report in at ten-minute intervals.
"As this deadline has long since passed, and subsequent to our repeated failure to contact any member of the landing party, I have decided to take the following action. As senior officer aboard I, Lieutenant Commander Louis Markel, take full responsibility for this action and any consequences thereof." He coughed awkwardly, then continued on:
"All three remaining members of the survey team, myself included, will beam down in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of our comrades and, if necessary, to effect a rescue. If for any reason we should fail to return I, Lieutenant Commander Louis Markel, do hereby accept and acknowledge that—"
It was too much for Kirk. He jabbed the cancel switch and both picture and audio died. McCoy looked at him questioningly and saw that the captain was struggling to suppress a rising fury.
"What's the trouble, Jim?" he inquired quietly.
Kirk glared at him, the angry words tumbling over one another. "Blatant disregard of standard emergency procedure . . . utter suppression of survey orders! I tell you, Bones, there's no excuse for—"
"Apparently the lieutenant commander felt the need was pretty desperate, Jim," McCoy interrupted softly. "His friends had vanished, and he decided going after them was more important than anything else."
Kirk calmed down slightly, but McCoy could see the anger still simmering. "It doesn't matter, Bones. Letting personal feelings get in the way of Starfleet regs . . ." He sighed. "Since when were human beings otherwise?"
"True, Captain," commented Spock.
"Regulations specifically state, Bones, that in a situation like this at least two members of the crew—the minimum necessary to operate a ship this size—must remain aboard. In the event that contact with the other four team members is lost, they are to return to the nearest starbase beam region and file a full report. I don't care if the team commander is a full admiral. Regulations must be followed. They were created for a reason. Any sign of danger to Federation civilization . . ."
"But, Jim, there was no sign of danger," McCoy pointed out.
"That does not alter the fact, Doctor, that the survey ship's commander made what is essentially a personal decision," Spock observed.
Now it was McCoy's turn to explode. "Spock, you Vulcans are the most unimaginative, unbending . . .!"
"Easy, easy Bones," soothed Kirk. "You're starting to sound like me." He waited until McCoy had calmed himself, then continued briskly. "None of this is helping the situation any. Nor is it helping Commander Markel and his people—assuming they're still down there and in a position to make use of our help. Barring positive evidence to the contrary, we have to assume that they are."
"Sorry, Jim. Spock just has a way of getting to me sometimes." McCoy grinned. "It's an inborn talent, I guess."
Spock replied amiably, "Some humans are rather more easily gotten to than others, Doctor."