Mid-Death by Alan Dean Foster

Mid-Death by Alan Dean Foster

Author:Alan Dean Foster [Foster, Alan Dean]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2006-04-30T21:00:00+00:00


They had no choice but to sit out a full day waiting for Temura’s foot to begin to heal. Even with the judicious application of modern analgesics, it was simply too painful to stand on. Urbinski fumed at the delay, but not overly. Time- and travel-wise they were still ahead of estimates. There was no need to push the team unnecessarily hard, and the time might come when Temura would need to be able to put weight on his punctured heel without having to waste time worrying about possible consequences.

So they stayed where they were, and killed time, and amused themselves watching all manner and type of outrageous alien creatures both large and small as they fought and sang and hunted and gamboled through the kilometer-high jungle.

Temura was sitting in front of the entrance to the shelter; back straight, legs crossed, the bandages on his unshod right foot prominent. Urbinski had changed them at first light, and the new ones showed only a minimal amount of red stain.

“Never felt a thing,” he was murmuring for the tenth (or was it the eleventh?) time. “Standing there watching the beautiful flyer one minute, then a second or two of dizziness, and the next thing I know I’m waking up inside the shelter.” He looked over at Alesha, who was seated nearby sipping the liquid half of her breakfast. “Must have been a bit of a shock.”

She looked up from the self-heating mug. “You damn near scared me to death, you inconsiderate son-of-a-bitch.”

Cradling his rifle, Bernard wandered over to join them. “You lost a lot of blood in a real short period of time.” His gaze shifted to the surrounding, all-enveloping alien forest before coming to rest on the shelter. “Can’t beat a team leader who knows his medics.”

Temura reached down and, grimacing, dragged his foot around to where he could see the bottom of the bandages. “Won’t happen again. Until we’re back at the outpost, you won’t catch me lingering in any one spot for more than a minute, unless it’s inside the shelter.”

“Same here.” Finishing the last of her breakfast, Alesha shook out the dregs, rose, and moved toward the shelter to wash and sterilize the empty cup.

Watching his people, Urbinski was not entirely displeased. While the encounter had been life-threatening, thanks to modern medicine Temura had come through with little more than a rapidly healing hole in his foot. If the team hadn’t been operating at maximum efficiency and awareness before, it certainly was now. The incident had cost them a day, spent allowing the injured Temura time to recuperate. They were already halfway to the missing researcher’s location and still days ahead of schedule. If anything, they ought to make even better progress now.

Working their way downward as well as onward was akin to a slow descent into a fragrant green sea. The lower they went, the more massive became the boles of the gigantic trees. Some began to feature bark so thickly ribbed that they were able to


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