Star Trek Log Eight: The Eye of the Beholder by Alan Dean Foster

Star Trek Log Eight: The Eye of the Beholder by Alan Dean Foster

Author:Alan Dean Foster [Foster, Alan Dean]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 0345276027
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published: 1991-08-31T21:00:00+00:00


Alarms howled and sensors on the bridge and in all the attentive science stations went berserk as the brilliant beam illumined the Enterprise from below, pinioning it in a shaft of intense white radiance powerful enough to pierce the thick clouds. It hit without warning, harmlessly.

When it became apparent that the beam was not dangerous, the brief moment of fear and panic was instantly replaced by curiosity. The radiance was not a gesture of belligerence, but rather the cutting cry of someone shouting, "I'm here, I'm here! Look below, and find me!"

The light vanished, then winked on again. This time instruments other than alarms were ready. The light blinked on and off in regular, obviously unnatural sequence. There was no doubt that it originated from an artificial source.

A source, Kirk mused, of tremendous power, to be able to penetrate that smothering atmosphere and still light up the exterior of the Enterprise. The on/off pattern continued for several minutes before halting—permanently, it developed.

"A signal, certainly," Kirk observed, voicing everyone's conclusion aloud. "But why did they break off? Why not continue to guide us down?"

"Perhaps they are incapable of maintaining that strength for very long, Captain," was Spock's comment. "Merely to pierce the cloud layer with such force once is a remarkable feat. To repeat it several times is almost beyond comprehension. Clearly there is intelligence of singular ability still active on the surface below."

Kirk looked to the helm. "Mr. Sulu, did you obtain a fix on the source of the beam?"

The helmsman studied his instrumentation a moment longer before replying. "Yes, Captain—as clear as I was able without actually having direct line of sight to the surface. I'm assuming it traveled outward in a straight line, though it could have been bent or otherwise distorted by some layer in the atmosphere."

"I think not, Lieutenant," countered Spock. "Any beam of sufficient intensity to penetrate that cloud layer and still retain its power of illumination at this distance, apparently undiminished, would likely not be affected by any cloud formation nearer its source."

"We have a destination, then," Kirk noted, rising from the command chair. "Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, you'll accompany me to the surface." He nodded at the young Lactran. "Together with our youthful friend, if his parents are agreeable."

Spock's eyebrows arose, and even the Lactran adolescent looked surprised. Kirk felt unaccountably pleased at having been able to startle the seemingly unshakable aliens.

"But how, Jim?" McCoy asked. "Scott's technicians are still working on the problem of life-support belts for Lactrans and—"

"We'll descend in the shuttlecrawler, Bones. It's spacious enough to hold four of us and our young guest, if not either of his much larger parents."

"They are concerned, Captain, but see no reason to object. It is important that they be represented in some fashion. They agree to let the young one go, even though it must remain in the crawler."

Kirk had no idea which gesticulations were indicative of pleasure among Lactrans, but it seemed certain that the youngster was performing some of them now.


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