Next of Kin
Author: Eric Frank Russell
Age Group: 12-80
81, 82 new hostile worlds discovered: 83 - and then another five propulsors blew their linings
simultaneously and Scout-Officer John Leeming knew he would have to make a crash landing. Soon he
was a prisoner of the Zangastans - and filled with a determination to get back to Earth just as soon as
possible. It took the failure of an orthodox escape attempt to make him realise that his alien life-form
captors knew precious little of human nature. So unprompted corroboration from another Terran prisoner
held by the Lathians, Zangasta's senior allies, that said Lathians had the Willies was good enough proof
that Leeming's Eustace could be pretty dangerous. Does this baffle you? Read on!
He knew he’d stuck his neck out and it was
too late to withdraw. It had been the same
since early childhood when he’d accepted
dares and been sorry immediately afterward.
They say that one learns from experience;
if that were true the human race would now
be devoid of folly. He’d learned plenty in his
time and forgotten most of it within a week.
So yet again he’d wangled himself into a
predicament and undoubtedly would be left
to wangle himself out of it as best he could.
Once more he knocked at the door, a
little harder but not imperatively. Behind
the panels a chair scraped and a harsh voice
responded with hearable impatience.
Marching inside, he stood at attention
before the desk, head erect, thumbs in line
with the seams of the pants, feet at an angle
of forty-fi ve degrees. A robot, he thought,
just a damned robot.
Fleet-Admiral Markham surveyed him
from beneath bushy brows, his cold gaze
slowly rising from feet to head then
descending from head to feet.