"But if Organia is really Gallifrey," McCoy said to the Doctor, "the Gallifrey of your past, then you must know what happens next!"
The Doctor shook his head. "The time of Rassilon," he said, pointing at Ayelborne, "is too far into my past. No real historical works survive, only legends, myths, and children's rhymes. I haven't the vaguest idea what happens when the Klingon fleet gets here, but if I interfere with it, I could snap the threads of the Web of Time" - he snapped his fingers in front of McCoy's nose - "which could undo not only Gallifrey's history - incidentally unhappening every link in the chain of events that leads from now to my existence - but the space-time continuum itself."
Kirk's communicator beeped. He pulled it out of his pocket, one of the old-fashioned handheld models, which were all the new Enterprise-A had come with. "Kirk here," he answered.
"Captain, the Klingon fleet is on short-range scans," Sulu reported. "They'll be here in ten minutes."
"Prepare to beam Dr. McCoy and me up," Kirk said. "Stand by."
"We have almost nothing in the way of planetary defenses," Ayelborne - Rassilon - said to Kirk, "and the parlor trick we played on you before takes time we have not had."
"I thought Gallifrey had a -" McCoy suddenly realized he was committing an anachronism. He realized this when the Doctor clapped a hand over the ship's surgeon's mouth and gave him an explanation laced with colorful Earth metaphors.
"Gallifrey asks for your protection, Captain," said Claymore.
"I have one undermanned, undermaintained, greenhorn starship against a Klingon battle fleet."
"But," Rassilon smiled, "its name is Enterprise."
After a moment, Kirk smiled back. "Spock, Doctor - you two stay here and beef up what defenses they may have."
"Captain, I told you," the Doctor insisted, "it could endanger the entire universe if I -"
"But you don't know," Kirk interrupted. "You can't just let the Klingons wipe your people out - that's got to be the wrong thing for history."
The Doctor didn't react to what Kirk said. He was staring over Kirk's shoulder at nothing, and Kirk realized that he hadn't interrrupted the Doctor. Something else had, some thought of his own. Having been through this before, Kirk waited patiently to see what it was.
"Children's rhyme!!" the Doctor finally bellowed. "How could I be so stupid?! Spock, follow me!" The Doctor charged out of the room, not only Spock but Rassilon and the "Organian" High Council running after him; leaving Kirk and McCoy alone in the meeting hall.
"I'm not sure I wanna know," McCoy said.
Kirk raised his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise. Two to beam up."
The Doctor charged through the halls with the Vulcan and history's Time Lords behind him, going down into deeper and deeper levels until they must have been ten storeys underground. He led them to a huge chamber that was filled with highly advanced technological devices but somehow still looked like an industrial-age pre-nuclear electrical power station.
"Isn't going to change a bit," snorted the Doctor.
"What are we doing here, Doctor?" Spock asked.
The Doctor pointed to the far wall and a bank of huge machines there. "Those are multitasking universal transducers, used to provide the Capitol with all its power and material needs. We're going to design and, with the transducers, replicate a mainframe to use about half of them to create a transduction barrier around the entire planet."
He pulled Spock close and murmured, "Keep your eyes open while you're here, and you can discover food replication on your next leave."
"We hardly have time to design and test such a complex device as you describe," Spock objected.
"Well, I say 'design'," said the Doctor, "but actually I'll be dictating from memory."
The Klingon flagship's main viewscreen showed a single Federation starship, bravely standing between the Klingon fleet and Organia. Its registration number was NCC-1701/A. Captain Koloth surrendered the captain's chair even before Admiral Kor rose to cross from the flag station.
"Hail from the Enterprise," reported the signal officer.
"Onscreen," ordered Kor as he took the captain's chair. And there appeared the object of his honor's desire. "Kirk," Kor breathed in triumph.
"Hello, Kor. Hello, Koloth," Kirk said. He seemed listless and his medic was hovering over him. Alarms went off in Kor's head, but he didn't listen to them yet.
"So fortune brings you to meet me here again," Kor said. "I couldn't have asked for more."
Kirk snorted. "Fortune! If you call it that."
Now Kor became uneasy, though of course he didn't show it. "Why, Kirk! Do you feel yourself at some disadvantage in this situation?" he oozed.
"You know," said Kirk with an entirely uncharacteristic petulance, which seemed to worry the medic, "if I didn't have bad luck I wouldn't have any at all. They demote me. They stick me with a half-baked ship. They name it to throw past glories in my face. Then they put me in front of the first genuine Klingon battle force in decades. Why didn't they just shoot me?"
Kor abruptly found himself in the absurd position of needing to give cheer to his most hated enemy. "Now surely things aren't that bad, Kirk -"
Kirk threw up his hands. "I don't think my shields even work. Just be a pal, Kor, and put me out of my misery."
Kor's face fell. He stared a moment at his opponent on the viewscreen before he slammed his fist down on the comm panel on the chair arm, cutting the signal off.
"You human bastard!!" Kor roared.
Rassilon and his High Council looked on while the Doctor and Spock worked. When they spoke with the Doctor, they used Old High Gallifreyan, which of course has verb tense constructions our language doesn't have, to accomodate time travel concepts.
"Amazing how much the place hasn't/won't change," said the Doctor.
"Yes?" said Rassilon.
"You put/will put a roof over the whole Capitol, and spiffed/will spiff it up some ..."
Rasslion looked over to Trefayne and said, "Told/told you so."
"... But the stasis is/will be still there," the Doctor said. "You know, even through your pantomime last time, Spock saw/saw how static our culture is/is."
"History's guardians must be as unchanging as history must be," said Rassilon, unperturbed.
"You didn't allow/haven't allowed for any margin for error at all," the Doctor rebutted.
"Tell me," said Rassilon, "do/shall you often drop in on places just when you are/shall be needed? ..."
"What was that performance all about?" McCoy demanded when Kor had vanished from the Enterprise bridge screen after Kirk's signal.
"I'm the great enemy of the Klingon race, right?" Kirk said. "I'm the one with the clever strategies and the victories against great odds - almost a Klingon myself. Defeat me in battle, destroy me, and it's an automatic statue in the Hall of Heroes. But what honor is there in destroying a broken man?"
McCoy grinned slowly. "Kor can't move against you, because you're not a worthy enemy! He'd be dishonoring himself!" He frowned again. "But what if he sees through your act?"
"Of course he sees through it. Kor must know me better than that, and if he doesn't Koloth certainly does. The question is, does he believe the average Klingon will see through it - or does he believe that his men will turn on him if he takes me out?"
"Obviously you think the latter," said McCoy. "But what if you're wrong?"
Kirk shrugged. "While Kor's deciding, it still buys time for Spock and the Doctor."
"No, no," said Kor to all Koloth's arguments. "It's not going to work. The men could never understand how devious Kirk is, not soon enough to make any difference."
"They will eventually, though," Koloth said, conceding. "They'll be furious, then."
"So Kirk has outmaneuvered us," growled the marine colonel stationed on the flagship bridge. "We can still take the planet."
"Now," said the Doctor.
He and Spock simultaneously flipped switches on the opposite faces of the machine they had just fabricated and hooked up to the transducers. Its power level and performance dials promptly rose to the indicated optimal readings.
An hour of proving the fleets' weapons against the Organians' new planetary shield had only made it refract the light into prettier colors. Kor sighed and left the captain's chair for the flag station. "This time Kirk and the Organians have done me in."
"Foolishness," Koloth said, using a Klingon profanity. "Too many of those on the High Council owe their seats to you from your court-martial the last time."
"Oh, I will never be officially disgraced," Kor allowed. "But if I ever hold an official position again, it'll be ambassador to Nimbus III when Korrd's liver gives out. My career is over. And so is this war."
Koloth started to object, but saw it too and nodded reluctantly. "Without your opposition, even with the Organians cowering behind their shield, Gorkon will be able to contain our advances on the Federation to mere raids little more than whetstones."
"The times have passed us by, my friend," sighed Kor as he settled into the flag chair. "You and I might as well have left our foreheads smooth. Gorkon may see within his lifetime the peace he so obviously hopes for."
"That," suggested the marine colonel, "could be prevented. One way or another."
Kor waved it off. "You may headbutt reality if you choose, Chang, but hold this day in memory while you do."
"Precisely my plan, my lord," said the marine colonel. Despite the words, Kor could tell from the tone that he had lost all the marine colonel's respect. He decided he wanted a drink.
On the Enterprise the Doctor stood in front of the sphere of the transduction barrier as it appeared on the bridge main viewscreen. It and the Doctor's outfit clashed with each other even worse than each clashed with itself. The Doctor struck a declamatory pose.
"A children's rhyme, about the transduction barrier!" said the Doctor as he dropped off the bridge's upper tier to the floor of the command module, quite his old flamboyant self - well, this self - again. "Don't you see? We always thought 'rainbow' referred to the barrier's prism effect, when in actuality ..." He pirouetted to show off his ensemble.
"And that is what made you realize that you were part of these events," Spock said.
"I knew Gallifrey had a transduction barrier," McCoy said with vindication.
"Predestination paradox," the Doctor nodded smugly. "If I know Rassilon, he's composing the verse as we speak."
"I hate temporal mechanics," said McCoy.
"I am a temporal mechanic!" The Doctor gave McCoy an affronted look and then rounded on Kirk in the center seat. "You see my point now?"
"Which point is that?" Kirk said blandly.
"About intervention!" The Doctor stood in front of the center seat, leant on the arms (causing the support pole to squeak) and put his face a foot from Kirk's. "It was the very scheme of the universe that I should step into this affair, and save an entire planet from destruction."
Kirk dismissed several flaws he saw in that argument, at least as it related to the Federation Prime Directive, and went with his major point of rebuttal. "On the contrary, Doctor. What this affair teaches me about intervention is that, even from the opposite point of view than is usual for me, a more advanced people only makes trouble for everyone if they don't keep their noses out of less advanced people's business."
The Doctor rocked back to upright (so, Kirk noticed, did the center seat), a sour expression on his face.
"Standoff," McCoy said.
"Again," Spock said.
"All right," said the Doctor cheerfully, "if a man can attain such a high position in Starfleet and still be oblivious to such blindingly intelligent reasoning as mine, I shall depart for somewhere that I shall be properly appreciated."
"You'll just be back again when you think of a new tack," said Kirk with mock dread.
The Doctor only smiled and left the bridge, waving to the other officers. Ten minutes later Spock reported that he had broken back into the detention area and left in the TARDIS.
"What, again?" said Kirk. "Those cells need to be beefed up by Starfleet Security during our layover."
"I shall see to it personally, Captain," Spock said.
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