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explosion of amusement from it and the other mem-bers of the team that
momentarily hid their feelings of concern for himself.
"Perhaps you were concentrating so much on the surgical details," Murchison
said, "that you were too busy to notice or identify the differences you
mentioned. They are due to the fact that our benchmark patient is a female and
this one isn't."
"You are right, I must be tired," he said, joining and adding to their waves
of amusement as he flew unsteadily to the large, flat top of an instrument
cabinet in a corner of the room and settled onto it. "But I shall observe and
try to stay awake until all of our spiders are treated."
He surprised himself by doing just that before his increasing physical and
mental fatigue rendered sentience and sapience next to impossible. With all of
the spider patients treated and trans-ferred to the recovery room, his last
conscious impression was of Murchison standing before the communicator and
speaking to the captain.
"I've already tried to talk to one of them," it was saying, "and I'd like to
try again using simplified first contact procedure. These people aren't
space-travelers so I won't need the compli-cated Federation historical
material used during the Trolanni contact. There's nothing else to do here at
the moment except brood about the nasty things that could happen to us. So I
want to try talking
file:///F|/rah/James%20White/White,%20James%...or%20General%2012%20-%20Double%
20Contact.txt (129 of 144) [5/21/03 10:31:17 PM]
file:///F|/rah/James%20White/White,%20James%20-%20Sector%20General%2012%20-%20
Double%20Contact.txt to them again. What do you think?"
"I think yes, ma'am," Fletcher replied. "Give me half an hour to modify the
program, then I'll stand by to advise on its usage. There are eight more
spider ships hull-up on the horizon and another twenty on the radar screens
but still no activity on the beach. That situation will certainly change
before long and the result will be a lot of people, possibly including
ourselves, being killed.
"Talking our way out of this trouble," it ended, "is the pre-ferred option."
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CHAPTER 34
Prilicla wakened suddenly with the feeling that he had been caught up in a
riot.
Many strident, other-species word sounds and waves of angry emotional
radiation were beating into his mind. Suddenly terrified and still befuddled
with sleep, he wondered if the meteorite shield had failed and the spiders
were overrunning the station. But then his slowly clearing mind and empathic
faculty made him aware that the loudest sounds and strongest feelings were
emanating from two principle sources, one of which was long-familiar to him,
and both of them were in the adjoining recovery ward.
Not trusting his trembling wings to fly, he walked unsteadily into the other
room to find out what was happening.
With the exception of the recently treated and still-unconscious spider pilot
and Captain Fletcher, who was staring at the proceedings from the ward
communicator screen, everyone in the ward was trying to talk at the same time,
so much so that parts of the conversations were lost in the derisive beeping
of the ward translator going into overload. Farther down the ward the Terragar
casualties and Keet were arguing, heatedly but in tones low enough for them to
hear the quiet voice of Jasam, who was postoperatively debilitated but
recovering well, making a contri-bution. But most of the vocal and emotional
noise was coming from the argument between Murchison and the glider pilot's
uninjured passenger.
The spider passenger was arguing... ?
Surprised but not yet knowing if he should be pleased, he turned up the output
volume of his own translator unit and, borrowing a phrase from his Earth-human
mind partner that seemed appropriate in the circumstances, said, "Will
everyone please shut the hell up?" When the arguments tapered off into
silence, he added, "Except you, friend Murchison. The spider passenger's words
are being translated. We can talk to and un-derstand each other now, and make [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]