Paul Gadzikowski


Prime Contact

Chapter 4

Captain's log, supplemental: The first contact mission to the Klingon world has taken a bad turn. According to Spock and Scott, the warpship they claim to have built, they can't have built - it must have been seized from aliens who landed here previously. And - perhaps in anticipation of this discovery on our part - General Kartasp has taken hostages: three of my crewmen and the Doctor's three companions.

"Entirely illogical," Spock insisted to Pike. "To my own certain knowledge, Kartasp has actually witnessed the transporter process on at least one occasion."

Captain Pike had called Spock, Scott and the Doctor into the briefing room with himself and Number One. Lieutenant Tyler was on the speakers - Kartasp and his people hadn't even taken the landing party's communicators. Pike had first been notified of the situation by the hostages themselves.

"He cannot possibly be unaware that we can rescue our landing party at will," Spock concluded.

"The Klingons don't have any kind of force-field shielding, do they?" Number One asked Scott. "Anything that might defeat transporter beams?"

Scott shook his head. "The most advanced tools they have are their disruptor weapons. There's nae indication that they can keep us from beaming."

"Confirmed, Captain," came Tyler's voice. "The tricorder doesn't show any such thing."

"Then what's the point?" Pike was confused and frustrated - not a state, Spock had observed, which Starfleet captains suffered gladly. "What's he trying to accomplish?"

"It's a test of your honor," the Doctor announced.

"It's a what?" Pike's frustration was aggravated rather than appeased.

"If you remove the hostages, you show no faith that Kartasp will treat us fairly."

"Treat us fairly?" Scott exploded. "By locking us up, out of the blue?"

The Doctor's eyes didn't leave Pike. "You have a choice, Captain. You're in their home territory. Deal with the Klingons on their terms and earn their respect, or ignore their expectations and insult them. Is that the level of tolerance your Federation stands for, hm?"

"Respect?" Pike repeated, increduluous. He counted off on his fingers. "They lied to us about how they acquired that ship. They tricked us into supplying them with enough information to create warpflight technology, and from what you say it's disseminated all over the planet already. Now they've taken hostages, including your friends! Three strikes!" Spock had heard Pike use this expression before, but to date had been forced to infer its meaning from context. "And I'm supposed to continue accomodating them? I wonder what your friends think of that idea."

Spock heard Miss Wright's voice over the speaker, muted by distance from Tyler's pickup: "It's the Aztecs all over again."

"Aztecs?" Pike snapped. Spock saw the point, but disagreed that the situations were entirely analagous, and so didn't interrupt as Pike continued. "No, Doctor, they have it backwards if they think I need to earn their respect. I want our people out of there. Jose, stand by for beamup. Scotty, I want you to handle it, just in case."

As everyone rose from the briefing room table, Spock head the Doctor mutter, "Military minds ..."


"I wonder what your friends think of that idea," came Pike's voice over Tyler's communicator.

Barbara was right behind the Doctor on this and wanted him to know it. "It's the Aztecs all over again, isn't it?" she said, leaning forward toward the communicator.

"It is, isn't it?" Ian agreed as the communicator conference continued. "You'd think, with an alien in their crew, they'd be a little more tolerant -"

"All the same I don't fancy spending the afternoon in here," Susan opined.

"You won't," said Tyler, shutting his communicator. "Captain Pike is sending Mr. Scott to the transporter room to pull us out."

"I hope he knows what he's doing," said Barbara, as Kartasp and a couple of soldiers opened the door and entered. They were carrying what looked like bowls of live worms or slugs. At their entry Kim Luk moved casually to place himself between them and the rest of the Enterprise party.

"I will not have it said you were starved." Kartasp and the soldiers proffered the bowls of crawling things.

"Oh my," said Susan. "Is there anything Klingons don't make a struggle of? Not even eating?" Yeoman Colt's reaction was less articulate.

Then Barbara heard the whine of the Enterprise transporter. Kartasp must have heard it too, and probably before the humans did, because the last thing Barbara saw on the planet's surface was Kartasp tossing aside the bowls in his hands and leaping to throw his arms around Kim Luk.

Then they were on the platform in the Enterprise transporter room. Barbara was screaming, as were Susan and Colt. Ian and Tyler were ashen-faced. On the sixth transporter pad was a homogenous pile of bubbling, liquifying organic matter, with an oddly sweet smell ... that looked roughly equal to the combined mass of Kim Luk and Kartasp.

"Who was it?" Pike was standing in front of the transporter console. The Doctor, Spock and Scott were standing behind it, grim expressions and perspiration on their faces. Later Barbara would wonder how long they'd all been in transporter limbo.

"Kartasp," Ian choked off. "He jumped on Kim Luk just as ..." Words failed him.

After a moment of horrified silence - but for a soft, obscene gurgling from the thing on the transporter pad - Spock said, "Perhaps we should notify the planet."

"Yes, yes, you're right, Spock," said Pike slowly. Spock followed him out; so did the Doctor. Scott was in the intercom, ordering a cleanup crew. The others of the landing party seemed only to want to quit the transporter room, but Barbara went after the Doctor and the captain, catching them up at the lift. She needed to see the end of this.

"Get me the Klingons," Pike said as they entered the bridge, to a Negro officer whose name Barbara hadn't heard. Pike took the chair in the center of the circular bridge when his first officer yielded it for the port position at the freestanding console just in front of Pike's chair. Spock took post at a console along the circular wall to starboard. The Doctor went to stand next to Pike. Barbara stayed by the lift doors, out of the way.

"On speakers, captain," said the Negro man after a moment.

"What do you want?" came a Klingon growl from the bridge speakers. The Doctor seemed to recognize the voice.

"This is Captain Pike of the Enterprise. I need to speak to a High Councillor."

"Well, you'll have to wait a few minutes until a messenger can be sent." Barbara remembered that the Klingons communicated with the Enterprise by means of the radio in the stolen spaceship.

Despite the first Klingon's pessimism, there was a new voice on the speakers in less than a minute. "This is Krathur. Where is General Kartasp?" Kartasp's soldiers must have told Krathur what they'd seen; he would have been on his way to the radio already when Pike placed the call.

"Kartasp is dead," said Pike bluntly. He probably meant to be rude, but to Barbara it seemed the most Klingon thing she'd seen him do. "He interfered with our transporter process, killing himself and one of my crewmen. I'd offer you the body but -"

"It is just meat now," said Krathur. The unintentional literalness of the statement nauseated Barbara anew. "In any case I want nothing from you, Zultonol."

"I'm sure not," barked Pike, "now that you've stolen spaceflight capabilty from us."

"All is fair in war," said Krathur, "and life is war. May we meet in battle one day, so I might show you for the vermin you are."

"Signal terminated, Captain," said the Negro.

"Get him back, Alden."

"Aye, sir."

"What's a zultonol?" Pike asked Spock as Alden turned back to his board.

"Zultonol betrayed his true dishonorable nature with a murder," said Barbara, all eyes on the bridge turning to her in surprise. No, not surprise from the Doctor, approval. "His victim is remembered as the founder of a great dynasty."

"Sounds to me, Captain," said the Doctor, "as if he has named you Judas, hm?" Pike glared at the Doctor, but any reply was forestalled by Alden's report.

"They're not answering, Captain."

"They're not going to," said the Doctor.

"Damn!" Pike pounded on his chair arm. After a moment's fuming he said, "This can't happen again. We need some sort of directive to keep anyone else from doing the kind of thing I've done here."

"Very wise," said the Doctor sagely.

"Ryan and Burden at the admiralty will agree with me when my report gets to Command, and they have influence in the Federation Council," Pike continued, mostly to himself. "An injunction against interference in a new planet's affairs -"

"Absolutely not!"

Pike stared at the Doctor. "Who do you think you are?"

"You cannot live in a vacuum, Captain! The hard sciences agree with the soft on this point: you shall affect those around you, inevitably. You can't just observe."

"Doctor, today I handed space travel on a platter to a planet of hopeless barbarians!"

"Ha!" snorted the Doctor. "Barbarians indeed. Such stupid, willful ignorance. Mark my words, Captain, the day will come when the Terran media will be as fascinated with Klingons as they are with Vulcans at present."

Pike ignored that. "Nothing like this must happen again."

"So learn from your mistakes. I know how you feel, captain; remember, I was the one who actually uploaded all that data onto their planetary network. And just because I see more to them than you do doesn't mean I don't also see what you see. But this Starfleet of yours can be a force for great good. Don't hobble it!"

"Perhaps you have only your own conscience to answer to, Doctor," said Pike more calmly, "but a starship captain has Starfleet Command, the Federation Council, and by extension every citizen in the Federation. Including future citizens of future member planets, who may not come to exist if I go around handing loaded guns to every first contact."

Pike's descent back into reasonable tones brought the Doctor with him. "I am sorry you trust yourself so little, sir, and I hope your superiors have wiser heads. For myself and my companions, I think it is time for us to thank you for your hospitality and be on our way."

"As you wish," said Pike. "Mr. Spock, would you take the Doctor and Miss Wright to their friends, and escort them to their TARDIS?"

"Aye captain."


Spock took them to Sickbay where Dr. Boyce was examining Susan and Chesterton for adverse effects of Kartasp's interference with the transporter beam. Boyce saw Miss Wright next. While talkative as he waited with Spock and the others for Miss Wright, the Doctor avoided the subject of the day's events.

"I predict the Federation Council will enact such a directive as the captain proposes, Doctor," Spock finally said to him. "There are too many precedents in too many planets' histories of a more technological society willfully or accidentally affecting another for the worse. And it is consistent with the Federation's existing policy of planetary autonomy for members."

"No interplanetary federation is an island, you know, Lieutenant."

Spock nodded. "There is force to your argument, Doctor. Yet today the Federation has an enemy it did not have yesterday, most likely a formidable one when it comes out of its system in, I estimate, no more than 5.13 years; and I shall always regret the part I played." Perhaps, Spock mused, if he followed his father's choice for his second career and went into the diplomatic corps on retirement from Starfleet, he would set himself to repairing this breach. But it was illogical to speculate now. "I must say I disagree with you too, as I have throughout this affair."

The Doctor smiled and gave Spock a friendly pat on the shoulder; which transmitted to Spock exactly none of the usual telepathic leakage that made him and most Vulcans avoid physical contact with other species. "Well, my dear chap, I shall have to return another time to persuade you, eh?"

Spock regarded the Doctor and with precisely calculated "dryness" said, "I have no doubt that you shall."


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