Enterprise log, stardate 6152.1: This is the Time Lord known as the Master recording. I have assumed command of this primitive space cruiser, through mind control of its first officer and of much of its simple human crew, which are nonetheless sufficient for my ... immediate ... purposes. This log shall be the historical record of the first step on my path to universal dominion.
Jo awoke much refreshed, though Dr. McCoy's office chronometer showed she'd only slept four hours. In her months with UNIT she'd learned to make the most of the sleep she could get. She stretched, rubbed her eyes clear, and went out the automatic sliding doors; wondering if McCoy and Chapel would still be there or if the watch had changed, and where the Doctor was.
There was no one in the sickbay ward at all.
Jo knew military procedures, even if her position at UNIT was non-combat. She knew for the medical station to be wholly unmanned on a military or paramilitary vessel such as this starship meant something was terribly wrong. She was pretty certain she knew what it was, too. And where the Doctor could be found.
"How could you be so stupid?" bellowed the Doctor.
"Whose idea was the damn chess game?" Nose to nose with the Doctor in the Master's former cell in the brig, Kirk gave as good as he got.
"Well pardon me for assuming you were competent!"
"You said the Time Lords sent you. You knew we weren't familiar with the Master's capabilities. And the first thing you do when you get here is distract me while he suborns my first officer -" Actually, the Master's comments had been that the Master had started his telepathic assault on Spock's mind while the Enterprise officers were extraditing him from Andor, and merely finished the job just afer the Doctor arrived. "- and steals my ship! 'Stupid'? If what you've done isn't stupid, you must be secretly working for him!!"
For an instant the look in the Doctor's eyes made Kirk fear he'd gone too far. This body looked more elderly than the Doctor's last, but Kirk knew it was much more active than either of its predecessors. Kirk wouldn't relish having to defend himself against him in such close quarters. But before the situation could deteriorate further, an angry voice cut between them from outside the cell.
"You sound like a couple of schoolboys!" Kirk and the Doctor turned to see Jo Grant standing over Stevenson's unconscious body. She was removing and examining Stevenson' phaser pistol, not without appropriate caution. "Can this disrupt the security field?"
"Yes," said Kirk, "but only at a setting that'd set off alarms." He tapped inside the doorframe at the level of the forcefield controls on the outside of the frame. "The code is 6-7-6-8-9."
Jo stepped to the control and keyed it. "Nothing happened. Perhaps they changed it."
"I'd rather get out of here without alerting anyone."
"Jo," said the Doctor, "my personal effects are in the desk drawer. Get the sonic screwdriver."
"Right." Jo was back with it in seconds. The Doctor gave her a moment's instruction in progressing through its settings and she went to work on the forcefield control, leaving the room in a not exactly comfortable silence.
"I apologize if what I said was out of line, Doctor," said Kirk.
The Doctor failed to take the apology graciously. "Implying that I'd work with the Master. Not even 'with'! You said 'for'!"
"It wouldn't be the first time," said Jo drily.
"That was a ploy to get the Axons off Earth!"
"And yourself too, but that didn't work." That seemed to be what had bothered Jo most about whatever events they were discussing.
Kirk was fascinated by the byplay but had other concerns. "We need a plan. We know the Master doesn't control all the crew. How many will he have?"
"Enough to run the ship, and a few more," said the Doctor. "Perhaps many more. He won't want to overextend himself, but he always does somehow. Himself or his underlings."
"The bridge duty shift," thought Kirk aloud. "A full engineering crew. We've seen he has some security men. And he has Spock's advice on the matter." That still twinged.
"If he listens."
"... There'll be three hundred plus crew locked up somewhere."
"Dr. McCoy and Nurse Chapel among them," said Jo, still working. "If the Master did control them, they'd've given me away when the people in the ward were gathered up."
"Probably all locked up together, the better to be kept track of," Kirk continued. "That means the shuttle bay, only place on the ship big enough to hold three hundred people. Free them and we can take the ship back.
"Now for the big question - what does the Master want with the Enterprise?"
"The same thing he always wants, Captain," said the Doctor. "To try to take over the universe!"
"Hail from USS Republic," announced Uhura.
"Position?" The Master sat complacently in the Enterprise command chair, legs crossed at the knees, fingers laced in his lap.
"Just within sensor range and closing," reported Sulu.
"Visual," murmured the Master. Promptly on the main screen appeared a sister Constitution-class starship. "Status?"
"Normal," said Spock, "as befits a vessel patrolling this far inside Federation space, forewarned of our appearance on course to Earth."
The Master allowed himself a smile. The Enterprise had already been on its way to Earth, to deliver him to Federation security. Now the ship would serve his purposes there. "Answer the call."
Captain Sitting Bear of the Republic appeared on the main screen. "Commander Spock, is it? Where's Kirk?"
"With the prisoner, ma'am," said Spock.
Vulcans really don't lie, thought the Master.
Sitting Bear chuckled. "I don't envy the Enterprise this duty. I've read the captain's-eyes file on this Doctor, of course. Wouldn't want him mad at me, and he's the good guy. Well, I guess you boys showed this new Time Lord what Starfleet's about. You've written most of that file, haven't you?"
"Yes, ma'am," said Spock. "In fact, we have an update for that file prepared for transmission."
Sitting Bear looked over her shoulder - her communications officer was partially visible, unfocussed behind her. "Standing by to receive your transmission," she said when she turned back.
Spock flipped one switch on his console. "Transmission commencing."
"Acknowledged. Anything in there about this Master that you can say on an open channel?"
"Captain!" someone called. It came from the main screen. Sitting Bear turned away from the pickup again, toward her science officer. The communications officer was working his board frantically. Someone in a red uniform ran toward the science station across the background before Sitting Bear turned back and demanded, "Enterprise, what are you doing?" Then the transmission cut out, leaving the visual of the Republic.
"We have total control of USS Republic's ship's computer," read Spock from his station. "The Republic's crew are locked out."
"Excellent!" The Master stood, adjusting the belt around his tunic. Various factors that wouldn't be apparent to anyone else were making him reconsider whether the belt had been a good idea, but he'd stick with it for a while at least. "Engines of both ships at stationkeeping within transmat range. I shall accompany the boarding party and convert the officers, the engineers and the guards to my cause. See that the remainder of the crew is herded or beamed into detention in the shuttle bay." He paused on his way to the turbolift. "How many Starfleet vessels do we anticipate encountering at Earth?"
"On the close order of forty," said Spock. "Extrapolating from data gathered during the taking of Republic, I estimate it will take my algorithms eighty point seven three seconds to wrest computer control from planetary defenses and all Starfleet ships with defensive capability above the threshhold we discussed."
"That's too long," said the Master. "Some will react before they're taken."
"That is factored into my estimate, as is the fact that as the operation proceeds we shall have more and more control of other weapons systems than the Enterprise's to array against the remainder. I project a 14% casualty rate."
"Is that all? Quite acceptable. Carry on."
"Yes, Master," said Spock.
The Master nodded and left the bridge. Had he known Vulcans better, or Spock, he might have noticed a twitch in the first officer's face as he spoke. But the Master was accustomed to more demonstrative humanoids and thought nothing of anything he might have seen.
"I don't understand," said Kirk. "What does he want with the universe?"
"What do you want with a starship?" retorted the Doctor.
"I'm not sure I care for your implication, Doctor," said Kirk, with more bite than he'd intended.
"Be fair, Doctor," Jo said in a warning tone. Kirk hadn't yet heard her speak to him like that, and from the Doctor's expression maybe he hadn't either.
In any case the Doctor continued in a more civil tone. "Well, perhaps the analogy only goes so far. But the Master seems to genuinely believe that the universe would be better off united under a single ruler. No divisiveness, no conflict... He also seems to genuinely believe he's the best man for the job."
"He must," said Kirk, with high irony. "He thinks he's a better man than you."
The Doctor's mood must have been improving - he took the return shot with a grin. "Actually he offered me half a dual imperium, when last we met."
"You didn't tell me that," Jo said, looking up from her lockpicking.
"Terrible job, Emperor. All that paperwork. But the offer shows there's a sincere belief somewhere behind his actions, however twisted the rationale connecting them."
"And that he still has a soft spot for you, from when you were Time Lords together," added Jo.
"A united universe," snorted Kirk. "After he's razed half of it and made sycophants or enemies out of the rest. Not damned likely. Maybe if he went about it the conventional way - got everyone to join him by persuasion rather than coercion ..."
"What," Jo said, "run for Prime Minister of the universe?"
"Something like that," said Kirk, smiling back. "He's got a Time Lord's life expectancy - that ought to be long enough to drum up the votes and still have time left to serve a good many years."
"He hasn't got the patience," said the Doctor. "He did try something like that once, in Earth's history. But then he discovered his tragic flaw - or I did. I don't think he perceives it as a flaw. If at all."
"Which is?" Jo asked.
"Which is that he enjoys having power, for itself, too much. It distracted him from his plans and they failed. Ever since, he's been devising one get-power-quick scheme after another."
"In Earth's history?" asked Kirk. "Anything I'd have heard about?"
There was a spark from the forcefield control panel, and the emitters faded out.
"How would you," asked the Doctor softly, as he and Kirk joined Jo outside the cell, "translate the German title 'Furher'?"
"It means 'Leader'," said Kirk automatically. It was the accepted translation in all the history books for hundreds of years.
After moment Jo said, "Or 'Master'."
Kirk met her eyes sharply, liking the implications of this even less than of the Doctor's angry remark earlier. But he could see Jo believed it utterly. Kirk looked at the Doctor, and despite the Time Lord's soft tone saw nothing but hard truth there.
"And this is the man," Kirk said, "who has stolen my ship."
END OF CHAPTER 2
To the story referenced above of the Master's interference in human history
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