Captain's log, supplemental: Our quest for an official on the planet Sihpis to assist with our inquiries about the Doctor's missing traveling companions has brought us to the office of the man... er, native whom we met just before the riot.
Kirk had described the mutagenic situation on Sihpis with aplomb when the Doctor, Ben and Polly had arrived. But he too found it somewhat disconcerting to be ushered, with the Doctor, by a humanoid of avian characteristics ("Secretary bird," whispered the Doctor; Kirk didn't know whether it was a pun or a pedanticism) into the office of Oldarn, who looked like his home must be made of bricks if he meant to keep the wolf from the door. Of course, on this world the wolf would be selling magazine subscriptions.
"How is it that the undersecretary of defense for computer systems security," asked the Doctor, once the greeting and seating were done, "acts as ambassador to off-planet dignitaries?"
"I've been a volunteer at the Starfleet eugenics clinic since the Federation protectorate treaty with Sihpis," said Oldarn, "and I volunteered for the liaison duties when the previous worthy was killed in an unfortunate accident."
"We're here," said Kirk, bemused that the Doctor could be sidetracked by such a minor point, "because the two civilians who travel with the Doctor went missing during the riot at the clinic."
"It really wasn't quite proper for you to bypass the line in front of the store as you did," said the Doctor. "That's what caused the riot, you know. As if you did it on purpose."
"Doctor." Kirk was appalled at the Doctor's diplomatic skills. The Doctor knew that the Federation was trying to cultivate Sihpis for membership once it was advanced enough. Even if that didn't matter to him, he was here to ask Oldarn for help.
But Oldarn seemed unperturbed. "Such riots have become common, Doctor. The collectors' mania for these Embryo Baggies is planet-wide. Do you blame me for that?"
Perhaps alerted by the Doctor's strange behavior, Kirk noticed that Oldarn hadn't denied anything.
So did the Doctor. "Ought we to blame you?"
"What's going on here?" Kirk asked.
"Surely it's no concern of yours, Captain," said Oldarn, "- under Section II, paragraphs 1-5 of the treaty - if some, hypothetical, minor but clever government official should aspire to a sudden, self-manufactured elevation of his position, to totalitarian demagogue."
"How?" snapped Kirk.
"It's a funny thing about being in charge of computer security," Oldarn mused. "It's one's very job to know exactly how to control access, and define 'authorized personnel', for, oh I don't know, orbital bombing and laser platforms."
"Such an official may have noticed," said Kirk, civilly but with a wolfish grin, "that Section VII, paragraph 1 states that Sihpis shall not be allowed into the Federation if its government doesn't conform to certain democratic standards."
"Okay," Oldarn shrugged. "Suits me, actually."
That rather took the wind out of Kirk's sails.
"And how," said the Doctor, "do the Embryo Baggies fit into such a plan?"
"Hypothetically speaking, of course."
"Those government officials not occupied with dealing with the mania are in its thrall themselves," said Oldarn. "It's really sad the way they - and in fact the whole planet - are allowing their attention to duty to fall off. On the other hand, for our, hypothetical, purposes it wouldn't do for someone to distract them from their distraction."
"Great golden Frith on a hill!" exclaimed the Doctor. "You've kidnapped my companions to keep me from interfering in your plan!"
"Our hypothetical dreamer," corrected Oldarn, "would have no idea who you are or what you want - only that you're not Starfleet and not bound by their regulations. He probably wanted you too, not just your friends, but took what he could get."
"I want my friends back!" said the Doctor. "Starfleet will act on behalf of Terran nationals - planetaries - er, humans being held ... Human beings held ..."
"Doctor." Kirk interrupted the Doctor's wanderings in the vast dark reaches of the English language.
"Ben and Polly aren't Federation citizens." Spock had checked into the missing persons' legal status as Kirk and the Doctor had chased Oldarn down. "According to Enterprise historical records, they're both several centuries dead."
The Doctor's mouth dropped open. "You can't just let this -"
"My hands are tied, Doctor. What Oldarn is - hypothetically - doing is an internal matter on a planet that's not even a Federation member."
"But Ben and Polly -"
"Are cyphers to Federation law, Doctor. Just like you," said Kirk, allowing a little ironic venom through. "Rules are for protection, Doctor. Fall outside the rules, and you fall outside the protection."
"This fellow is burying your protectorate in bean bags!" the Doctor huffed in astonishment.
"Hypothetically," said Oldarn calmly.
"What if he is?" said Kirk, annoyed with the Doctor for making a scene in front of a stranger. "Even if it weren't a matter entirely out of Starfleet's jurisdiction, how far do you think I'd get with either Oldarn's superiors or mine if I tell them the local megalomaniac's secret weapon is a bunch of five-credit teddy bears?"
"Hey, hey," said Oldarn, "there's no cause for that kind of name-calling."
Some Sihpis were sensitive about the variety of genotypes on the planet and their universal resemblance to Earth animals.
"I apologize, Mr. Undersecretary," said Kirk.
"He apologizes," the Doctor muttered.
"Mr. Undersecretary, I'll be in touch," said Kirk, rising. He motioned sharply for the Doctor to stand and signalled for Lt. Berkeley for beamup.
The Doctor jumped off the transporter platform as soon as the transition was over, but Kirk called, "Doctor!"
"Yes, Captain?" The Doctor turned back petulantly.
"I'll do what I can, informally, to get your friends back. I owe you that much for the assistance you've given the Enterprise in the past. But meanwhile I want your word that you won't interfere in the natural course of events on Sihpis."
For a moment the Doctor's face held the childishly stubborn, or stubbornly childish, pout in which it had been set for the last few minutes. Then he blinked as if a thought had come to him. "I give you my word," he said, "that I shall not impede Oldarn's plot, Captain. Now I should like to get back to the TARDIS."
"Very well." Kirk watched the Doctor go, content enough not to pursue whatever it was he'd seen in the Doctor's face. In later years (albeit when he knew the Doctor better) he would wonder how a starship captain could have been so green.
Scott was prepared for the Doctor's new appearance by a day's delay in being presented with it. He'd missed the confrontation on the bridge, and since then the Doctor had been either on the planet or secluding himself in the empty cargo bay where the TARDIS had landed, which suited the captain. The captain at the morning staff meeting had seemed happy not to have his shoulder looked over while he dealt with Sihpis officials too caught up in the Embryo Baggies craze to care about informal inquiries into the alleged whereabouts of legal nonentities. The captain's discussion of the matter had prompted a lecture from Major, the outgoing Sihpis base commander, on the genetic basis of the Embryo Baggies craze; which lecture the captain had cut short, a glazed-over look in his eyes.
So when Scott discovered a little man in baggy fancy dress at one of the auxilary systems stations in engineering, he was less disconcerted to have the man grin in recognition and and say, "Scotty! How good to see you," than he was by the subsequent frown and, "Have you changed your hair?"
"I was just going to ask ye. What're ye doing there?" The question didn't come out as harsh as Scott originally intended it, because as he spoke he noticed the training simulation mode indicator was lit.
"Oh, just a thought experiment," said the Doctor.
Scott took it in at a glance. "Och, it's a simple disaster-relief distribution operation ye're up to. Ye've almost got it right, too."
"Almost?" the Doctor repeated with umbrage. Any doubt Scott may have had left as to his identity disappeared.
"What ye really need to do," said Scott, making the correction, "since it's nae organic material ye're beaming, is reduce the transporter efficiency just a notch. Thus'll nae harm sich cargo, and the time and power conserved will be significant at that volume." When he finished his modification he sent the execute command.
"Authorization voiceprint required," said the computer, just as if this were real.
"Scott, Montgomery, chief engineer."
"Goodness," said the Doctor happily as he and Scott watched the indicators flash. "That is much faster than my program. Thank you so much."
"Bridge to engineering," came Mr. Leslie's voice on the intercom. Leslie was the engineering bridge duty officer this watch. He had to call twice, for Scott took a moment to escape the Doctor's effusiveness.
"Yes, Mr. Leslie," said Scott once he'd got to the intercom.
"Captain wants to know what all the transporter activity's about, sir."
"Activity? We're running a drill here." But even as he spoke suspicion was born in his head like Athena sealed in transparent aluminum, and he looked over at the Doctor - in time to see him transported away.
"He kluged the simulation indicator, sir," Scott reported. "And he knew exactly how to set up the 'exercise' so that I'd walk in, spot the 'error', fix it and ennable the program for him. He must have, because his transport was programmed for the personnel transporter despite the modification I made. Sir, this is my fault - I gave the authorization."
"No, Scotty, it's not your fault." It was his own, Kirk knew, for not keeping closer watch. "No idea where he went?"
"None, sir, him or whatever cargo he took with him," said Scott. Even as he gave his negative report he was still trying to refute it at the bridge engineering station. "His program wiped itself and the transporter coordinate logs as soon as he was gone. I can only verify, from power level logs and from what I saw on the board while the program was running, that he beamed an aye huge amount of mass from the cargo bay where the TARDIS is parked, to multiple locations on the planet."
"What mass?" asked Sulu. "Where did it come from?"
"Stored in the TARDIS," said Kirk. "Maybe reconstituted, or even replicated. We have no idea what that thing's capable of."
"Can't we pick him out with the sensors?" McCoy asked.
"Indeed," said Spock. "The procedure you describe, the scanning of an entire planet for a single specific life form, is the same procedure that has been in use for 21.76 hours in the attempt to locate the Doctor's friends. Fruitlessly."
"There's no way we can locate him quickly?" Kirk asked. The next time Kirk was wondering whether Vulcans were really emotionless, he would remember the contrast between Spock's response to his question and Spock's response a moment ago to McCoy asking the same thing.
"No, Captain. With the plenitude of genotypes on Sihpis, there is no guaranteed method of isolating by Enterprise instrument scan -"
"There he is," said Uhura.
"I beg your pardon?" said Spock.
Meanwhile Uhura had transferred to the main screen a signal which an overlay identified as a broadcast video program specializing in up-to-the-second late-breaking news! Another legend, translating a legend in the Sihpis language intrinisic to the broadcast, identified the native addressing the pickup as Nelmanu, executive chief of the planetary government - by some, Kirk thought appropriate, improbability a lion.
Sitting beside him, smiling and waving at people off-camera, was the Doctor.
Uhura had caught Nelmanu's broadcast in mid-sentence. "- several million new Embryo Baggies to sites all over the world for immediate, free distribution. Once again, this is the action of the extrasihpistial traveler who calls himself the Doctor. Doctor, is there anything you'd like to say?"
The Doctor looked into the video pickup for the first time. Even before he spoke, Kirk had no illusions that the time-traveler was speaking to anyone but the starship captain:
"If you can't beat them, join them."
END OF CHAPTER 2
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