The Colors of Space (Chapter 7, page 2 of 17)

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Chapter 7

Bart did as he was told and felt Raynor Three's long fingers working at
the bandages.

"Move each finger as I touch it." Bart obeyed, and Raynor said
neutrally, "Good. Now, take a deep breath and then open your eyes."

Impatiently Bart flicked his lids open. In spite of the warning, his
breath went out in a harsh, jolting gasp. His hands lay on the table
before him--but they were not his hands.

The narrow, long fingers were pearl-gray, tipped with whitish-pink claws
that curved out over the tips. Nervously Bart moved one finger, and the
long claw flicked out like a cat's, retracted. He swallowed.

"Golly!" He felt strangely wobbly.

"A beautiful job, if I do say so. Be careful not to scratch yourself,
and practice picking up small things."

Bart saw that the long grayish claws were trembling. "How did you
make--the claws?"

"Quite simple, really," Raynor beamed. "I injected protein compounds
into the nail matrix, which speeded up nail growth terrifically, and
then, as they grew, shaped them. Joining on those tiny muscles for the
retracting mechanism was the tricky part though."

Bart was moving his hands experimentally. Once over the shock, they felt
quite normal. The claws didn't get in his way half so much as he'd
expected when he picked up a pen that lay beside him and, with the blunt
tip, made a few of the strange-looking dots and wedges that were the
Lhari alphabet.

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