I had another opportunity to observe one of the big cats up close and personal. A group of us made our way to the Ocean Grove zoo in the morning. While we were there, we collected a supply of animal tranquilizers which should work on the local fauna, as well as biological samples and data the local veterinarians had put together about the virus. The virus doesn’t seem to have an adverse effect on the species native to the planet.
Many of the animals formerly housed at the zoo have not moved away; they are wandering around the area, but keeping their old dens and enclosures as their homes. I spotted tracks from one of the cats, and realized it wasn’t more than 50 meters away from where I stood; it was stalking the herd beasts that had gathered around a pond area. Stubbins wondered if it could be drawn out. He wanted to see how much it took to stun it, since the experiment from the night before only resulted in irritating that cat. I said it could be done with the right bait. Unfortunately, no goats were available for bait, only me. Lucky goats.
I herded the group into a set of enclosures to try to put some barriers between them and the cat, then wandered off in the direction of the cat. Stubbins insisted on trailing me. The cat was much faster than I anticipated it would be based on size alone; it is slightly larger and bulkier than Earth’s Felidae Panthera tigris tigris, but as fast, or possibly faster than Felidae Acinonyx jubatus. A marine said he stunned me instead of the cat in order to keep me from being plowed down; indeed, it did pass directly through where I had been the moment before I collapsed to the ground. I suspect it was not intentional, but I am not one to argue with good fortune so I will never, ever, question his claim.
We estimate that it took two full phaser blasts on the highest stun settings to bring it down. Not one to waste an opportunity,in spite of scrambled neurons I managed to convey my desire for Dr. Sim to collect blood and tissue samples while the cat was knocked out. Sim understood “Buh ba buh buh” almost as well as some of my Vulcan friends might. Is that dialect taught in Medical school? Unfortunately, I was not thinking well enough to ask someone tag the cat with a transponder, and I cannot recall if anyone else thought to do it.
Between the problems here caused by the virus and the gate/planetary instability problem on the other end of the Grand Trans Mat, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever go home again. I do not doubt there are people working to find us as hard as we are working to get back. I wonder if it will be enough. Its different this time, different from the other times. I really need that still to be up and running.