Science officer's log, stardate minus 1696.1: I am preparing to beam down to the Klingons' planet and initiate training them in the lost principles, and use, of their starship. Assisting me will be Engineer Scott and the visiting time-traveler who calls himself the Doctor.
"In all my travels," said the Doctor, as Spock finished his log entry during their wait in the transporter room for Scott and for a transporter technician, "I have never before heard of a negative date."
"The stardate system of calculating warp-relativity influenced dates," explained Spock, "does so by measuring the absolute level of the background disulfate radiation of the universe against the Forrester scale."
"I suppose there are all sorts of superstitious, dire predictions of miracles and disasters to happen on stardate zero," the Doctor said.
"The only such of which I am aware," allowed Spock, "is that that is the date Captain Pike has agreed he will accept his promotion to fleet captain."
The Doctor was eyeing Spock with what Spock was beginning to consider uncomfortable intensity. "Come come," he said suddenly, in the sharp way some elderly humanoids have, "what's bothering you, young man?"
"Sir?" Spock called up his most passive expression.
"Now don't think you can fool me, Lieutenant. There's only you and I in the room - no one who believes that 'emotionless Vulcan' propaganda your planet is still putting out at this point in history. ...Unless you believe it, hm?"
"Doctor," said Spock, answering the old man's first question, taking the path of least resistance, "it should not surprise you that I am uncertain whether Captain Pike was wise to agree to this course of action."
"No, it doesn't," the Doctor admitted. "You advised him against it during the first contact meeting, while I encouraged him."
"We have not actually determined whether Klingon society is able to handle free interaction with one as advanced as ours."
"An interesting position for you to take. You're the product - in more ways than one, unless I miss my guess - of the society which was born in the Vulcan first contact with Earth after Cochrane's flight."
"Analogies can be misleading," Spock said, unable to keep a touch of defensiveness from his voice; or annoyance, that his human heritage was obvious to even as keen an observer as this strange man. "Earthmen were not Klingons. Cochrane had actually made a warpdrive flight, whereas the Klingons have only made an as yet unsubstantiated claim."
"Well, there's only one way to find out," said the Doctor, waving a hand at the transporter platform. Just then Scott and the technician entered, along with Lt. Tyler, Yeoman Colt, Kim Luk, and the Doctor's three traveling companions.
"Mr. Spock," said Tyler. "Captain says General Kartasp invited us to send a party down for a tour of the city. We volunteered."
"Do come along, Grandfather," said Susan to the Doctor.
"Oh, go along, all of you," said the Doctor. "I've work to do."
"Beamdown whenever you're ready, sir," the technician said to Spock. Spock sent the tour party down first, since altogether the two parties were more people than the transporter could handle at once. The first party was already leaving the beamdown point with Kartasp and one of his aides when Spock, Scott and the Doctor materialized. To meet them was a short, slightly built Klingon, confirming for Spock what had heretofore been only a hypothesis that there were indeed any such.
"I am Liek," he said. "You have the data?"
Spock hesitated slightly before handing Liek a tricorder, which contained the texts Spock and the Doctor had thought useful for someone attempting to recreate interstellar travel technology. But the captain had already committed the Enterprise to this course of action and Spock knew it.
Liek snatched the tricorder from Spock's hand. Scott gave Spock a disgusted look, presumably over the Klingon's lack of manners, which Spock found ironic. But Liek was paging through the data on the tricorder already, apparently having taken the controls in at a glance. This considerably raised Spock's estimate of the Klingons' native intelligence, since the ruling, warrior class did not appear to exercise it excessively.
"This is glorious," Liek said. "With this knowledge I can build a fleet of starships. My family will rise to the Great Houses and my name will be remembered forever."
Spock and the Doctor exchanged a glance. Even the intellectuals on this planet were fixated on personal glory.
"Come with me," Liek barked cheerily. "I'll show you to the ship."
"... And after defeating his brother in this epic, marathon single combat," concluded Kartasp, "Kahless was proven by victory to be in the right."
The only thing the Klingons admitted to having that was anything like a cultural center or museum, when Barbara asked after one, was this place which was interchangeably called the Hall of Warriors, or of Heroes, or of Champions. It consisted of statues of historical figures, every single one of them delivering the coup de grace in hand-to-hand combat with someone or something. This was the largest statue, the figures three or four times life size, in the center of the exhibit hall; Kartasp and Krathur had led the Enterprise party to it first.
"There was trial-by-combat on Earth, about a thousand years ago," Colt offered.
"No longer?" Krathur asked. "Then how is it decided, when men disagree or are wronged?"
"There's a court system," Barbara said. "A judge sits in judgement, and hears arguments. The judge or a jury decides what's fair."
"Even that system's on the decline," said Tyler, "especially since the abuses of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. People are learning to get along better, so they don't have to resort to legal procedures."
"You ony fight with words?" Krathur asked, incredulous. "And you tire even of that?" When the humans nodded he gave Kartasp an another-fine-mess look.
"A warrior should be capable of defending the right," said Kartasp to them, "if he believes in it strongly enough."
"What if he believes, but he's wrong, and it's the weaker chap who's right?" Susan asked.
Kartasp shrugged. "If the weaker is that right, there'll be someone else bigger and stronger who shares his opinion and will avenge him."
Liek led Spock's party .26 miles through city streets Spock was tempted to characterize to himself as "squalid"; to what looked like a factory building. Inside they found a great many workers, a great deal of manufacturing equipment, and the starship in question, which turned out to be of a size Spock would have classed as a scout.
Liek brandished the tricorder. "Can you make this link with my computer?"
"I doubt the necessary interface -" Spock began.
"Of course I can," the Doctor interrupted. "You two go on, inspect the ship," he said to the Enterprise officers, glaring at Spock; entirely inappropriately. Spock had not been (as the Doctor obviously suspected) attempting to obstruct their purpose here in contradiction of the captain's instructions; he was genuinely skeptical that the data transfer could be accomplished. He and Scott began to appraise the ship.
"This is Klothon," said Kartasp, "portrayed at the moment he founded his dynasty."
"Some founding," Tyler snorted, "stabbing the other guy in the back."
"Klothon is the one meeting his death!" Krathur roared. Barbara flinched, and she wasn't the only only one from the Enterprise party who did.
"Zultonol wished to be Emperor," Kartasp explained, indicating the knife wielder, "but Klothon goaded him into exposing his true dishonorable nature. His own followers executed him on the spot and swore allegiance to Klothon's lieutenant, who ruled as Klothon II. His family is still among the Great Houses." Kartasp positively glowed. Klothon must have been one of his personal heroes.
Barbara felt she was beginning to get a glimpse into how these people saw life. But then she looked at the rest of the party. Susan was fascinated; but Ian looked bored, and the Enterprise crewmembers were seeing only the glorification of battle.
"Oohoo!" hooted the Doctor cheerfully as he rejoined Spock and Scott at the ship's side, near an entrance hatch. "I told you it could be done. It was tricky, even for me -"
"You succeeded?" Spock was taken aback, even preoccupied as he was with what he and Scott had observed while the Doctor was elsewhere.
"The data is being secured on the planetary network from Liek's computer even as we speak," said the Doctor pridefully.
"That's nae good," Scott said to Spock.
"What? Why not?" The Doctor belatedly noticed the serious expressions on their faces. "What are you talking about?"
"We believe the Klingons have been practicing a deception on us," Spock said.
"Look at this ship," said Scott. "Now look at the equipment they're using to try to make it operational. What do ye notice?"
"Yes," said the Doctor, seeing it instantly. "Their tools and materials are much less advanced. Post-industrial, pre-atomic at most."
"The Klingons did not build this spaceship," Spock stated unequivocally.
"Scorching from a disruptor ray," said Scott, pointing to blemishes in the ship's hull. "Oh, disruptors they have, the nasties. More scorches inside. They took this ship from whoever landed it here."
"Any idea who that may be?" the Doctor asked, peering inside.
"Humanoids," said Spock, pointing through the hatch at the crash couches. "No armor or armaments. Some scientific equipment. A great deal of fuel. They were long-range explorers."
"The subspace radio has been used recently," Scott added. "The call that brought the Enterprise here."
"We must find our friends and leave," said the Doctor.
"There is one last thing I wish to show you," said Kartasp.
They were back in the government building. Kartasp and Krathur ushered them into a particular doorway. Barbara noticed that this room was accoutred the opposite from the conference room. It had furniture - a few couches suitable only for Spartans to sit or sleep on - and no weapons on the walls.
"This," said Kartasp from the doorway, "is the room where I keep the hostages against my allies' good behavior." He and Krathur shut the doors on the Enterprise party, and there was the click of a latch.
END OF CHAPTER 3
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