"Right," said the Doctor, turning back to the bridge turbolift, "I'll beam down to Earth immediately."
"You will not," said Kirk.
The Doctor visibly sagged. "Must you make a contest of wills of everything?"
"Him?" said McCoy.
"Doctor, at the moment you're my greatest asset," said Kirk, again stranding the Doctor between his pride and his knee-jerk rebellion against authority in any form. Kirk would try to remember that trick. "The Time Lords sent you to me for a reason - obviously they feel you must be the person best able to wrest computer control of the Federation away from the Master. I suspect they're right."
"Which is why I need to beam down!" the Doctor insisted.
"We will," said Kirk. "But we'll have at least a modicum of a plan first."
"He doesn't ordinarily wear a belt," said Jo suddenly.
Kirk saw the Doctor look sharply to the bridge main screen as if the Master still appeared there. For his part Kirk reacted to the interruption of his train of thought with the most polite of the responses that occurred to him. "Is that important?"
"I don't know," said the Doctor. Kirk dismissed the matter; if it was important, the Doctor would figure it out.
The captain stood and went to Sulu. "Now here's what we're going to do ..."
The Master paced up and down the Starfleet Command operations center. All was progressing well. The Starfleet Admiralty and all post officers and the Federation Council were confined in the Council chamber. The fleet was preparing for Phase Two. All that was really left was for the Doctor to put up his head to have it shot off.
On the other hand the discomfort was accelerating more than he had estimated. It wasn't more than he could handle, of course; but perhaps -
"Master," called Spock, "the Enterprise is under power again."
The Master rubbed his eyes and went to the module of science stations. "What are they doing?"
Spock was peering over the shoulder of the lieutenant at one of the science stations. "It appears to be a discreet attempt to move within line-of-sight of Command with the appearance of continuing merely to drift."
"Hah," said the Master. "As if we'd fail to notice any deviation from the only ship in orbit we don't control."
"They're in line-of-sight," the lieutenant announced. "... Power surge! Sir, they're giving off some kind of subspace static discharge."
The Master watched as Spock leaned past the lieutenant and flipped the screen through several different displays. "Well?" he said irritably.
"They are attempting, with moderate-to-poor success," said Spock, "to disrupt Command subspace communications."
"What effect is there on the preparation of the fleet?" asked the Master.
"Minimal," said Spock. "Almost negligent. Which suggests it is merely a ploy of some -"
"Well, of course it's a ploy," snapped the Master, though the thought hadn't occurred until Spock said it. "Let me know of any further developments."
Spock continued as the Master walked off, "It is not only illogical but irrational to allow the captain to continue to -"
"It has to be, don't you understand?" The Master was turned to face Spock again and shouting at him before he even realized. The Master gradually took control of himself as he continued. "It must be demonstrated to the Doctor that with even his most choice allies he is helpless against me and has lost this time! Now do as you're told."
He turned his back on Spock, not caring or hearing whether Spock responded. He made an effort to calm down. Perhaps conventional wisdom was correct after all about - but no! He was the Master, now of this Federation and soon of this galaxy. The least of his masteries was his own body. He went back to his pacing.
Something in Spock's mind snapped.
It wasn't much, but it was significant. Since the Master had asserted his control over Spock, the part of Spock that was his true self - his katra - had watched his own actions with grief and regret; though with none of the false, illogical sense of responsibility or guilt that emotional humanoids would adopt. Though there might be some difficulty persuading a Starfleet court-martial (ideally Dr. McCoy was even now acquiring hard evidence from the Master's subjects on the Enterprise), Spock knew that these actions were not of his own doing. The Master had telepathically subsumed Spock's will and was the party directly and indirectly responsible for these illogical and heinous deeds.
However, a Vulcan's loyalty is not formed or maintained in a vacuum. It must be logical. The revelation in the Master's last refusal to deal logically with the Enterprise - that the refusal was based in the emotional motivation of revenge - combined with the outburst in which it had been delivered, had put a definite crack in the already strained shell of the falsely motivated behavior pattern encasing Spock's katra, leaving a toehold for Spock to use to escape. But it would take time - and immediately circumstances developed that called upon the exercise of his true loyalties.
"Sir," called Commander Wells at the interior security station, "look at this."
Spock went to the station where Wells was reviewing some data from security sensors. The officr on station, Lt. Dumas, was running a comparison check with data banks as Wells looked on, but Spock recognized the data instantly.
"It's the materialization signature of a ... 'TARDIS'? ... A time machine," Dumas read the computer analysis.
It must be the Doctor, and probably the captain, trying to sneak into the Command complex, under cover of the Enterprise's distraction. Spock calculated this as a 91.7% probability, with 7.9% that it was the Master's TARDIS operating under preprogramming or a remote control (the location of the Master's TARDIS had been a mystery to Spock and the Enterprise since the encounter at Thetilsol), .3% that it was a third Time Lord's TARDIS, and .1% or less that it was some other phenomenon that affected sensors identically.
"It must be the Doctor," said Wells. As a security officer she would definitely be familiar with that of the Doctor's datafile which wasn't captain's-eyes-or-higher.
Spock realized that he must allow the TARDIS's passengers to remain uncaptured. Yet he was uncertain how far he could yet press his new advantage over the cracked but still intact compulsions set by the Master. He decided to confine himself to truthful statements of fact.
"The Master is also a Time Lord," he said.
"This is his TARDIS?" said Wells.
"The Master does not broadcast the full extent of his plans." Spock knew this for a fact. Even under mind control Spock had only been told what he needed to know when he needed to know it. But if Wells and Dumas were to infer that Spock was in the Master's confidence ...
It seemed that they did. "Very well, sir," said Wells. As an afterthought she added, "Shall I remove this incident from the record?"
"That is a most helpful suggestion, Commander," said Spock, without specifying to whom. "Carry on."
A blue wooden box just taller than a man materialized in an unfrequented service corridor of Starfleet Academy. Kirk poked his head out, then disembarked. "Disabled, eh?" he said as the Doctor and Jo followed him out, while he surveyed the corridor to get his bearings. "We got here all right."
"I told you," said the Doctor, "the TARDIS only works when and how the Time Lords demand." He stopped to lock the TARDIS doors.
"But you piloted us here ..." Jo objected.
The Doctor snorted. "They tried to let me think I did. They must be watching my every move, second-guessing me every step of the way."
"Then they must have agreed that this is the correct course of action," said Kirk. He waved them to follow him. The Doctor's ill temper was characteristic of his any mention of the Time Lords. Still Kirk privately suspected it was, in this case, due at least as much to Kirk's failure to have made any exclamations of astonishment, during his first trip in the TARDIS, on the fact that it was bigger on the inside than the outside. "Let's get away from here before security shows up."
"Where exactly are we going?" Jo asked.
"If we're going to subvert the Master's control of Starfleet's computers," said the Doctor, as Kirk led them through the deserted back corridors, "we don't want to do it from the Enterprise where a subspace link would have to be maintained - too vulnerable to jamming. That's exactly what Sulu is doing to Command with the Enterprise, to try to cover our arrival here. We need to work from a planet-based system whose connections with the net are physical. The Academy main computer is our best hope for a system with the capability we need, yet that the Master isn't paying a lot of attention to."
"This is what you live for, isn't it?" said Kirk.
"I say, Captain," said the Doctor as if Kirk hadn't spoken, "why are we skulking around like this? Why not go straight to the main computer room?"
"Two reasons. First, I don't want to be recognized," said Kirk.
"Such modesty," said the Doctor. "Particularly in the assumption that you would be."
"Modesty has nothing to do with it," said Kirk, ignoring the latter comment. "If I were recognized by even one person, it could get back to security that we're off the Enterprise. Second, we're making a stop on the way."
"I want a local expert on the team."
"Captain, I am perfectly competent -"
"I'm sure you're the most competent generalist computer expert there is," said Kirk, shushing the Doctor, for the Time Lord had raised his voice. "- Or maybe I should say 'universalist'." The Doctor was begrudgingly mollified. "But I want you concentrating on the Master, and I want an actual expert on Starfleet systems."
"Whom do you have in mind?" the Doctor asked.
"Old teacher of mine," said Kirk. They came to a set of doors at the end of this corridor. "Professor Campbell." When the doors swished open Kirk went through slowly, trying to survey the common corridor without looking like he was. "On the history faculty, but makes duotronics jump through hoops." But it was evening, and there was no one but one couple of cadets, heading in the opposite direction than Kirk wanted, and paying more attention to each other than to their surroundings. There wasn't even any indication yet that the TARDIS's energy signature had been detected. "Programmed an interactive hologram of Marco Polo that makes you feel like you've met him." Professor Campbell was also the friend to whom Kirk had gone after his second Kobayashi Maru, but that intelligence would go to his grave with him. "Come on."
"Doesn't sound like someone the Master will have thought necessary to turn," Jo said.
"So where is this paragon of your formative years to be found?" asked the Doctor.
Kirk led them two doors farther, and said, "Here." They entered the history department lobby. Campbell had always maintained an "open door" policy when holding office hours, so Kirk knew that if his old friend was there they'd be able to walk right in. Sure enough, the doors swished open just like the outer office's.
"Jim!" She looked up from her desk when they came in. She hadn't changed a bit in fifteen years: indeterminate middle age, a mop of short graying hair, big expressive eyes, no lines but laugh lines, a tendency to dress ten or more years out of fashion. "And who are -" But the smile on her face fell in shock when she saw the Doctor.
Kirk looked at the Doctor and Jo. Jo was just as bemused as Kirk - but the Doctor was just as shocked as Campbell.
"Susan?" he said.
Campbell shot out of her chair and around the desk and threw herself at the Doctor. For his part, he clung to her like a drowning man.
"Oh, Grandfather," she said, "you said you'd be back someday."
The Master paced over to where Spock was watching the fleet activity monitors. "Is the Enterprise disrupting our timetable?"
"Despite its interference we are slightly in advance of schedule, Master," said Spock.
"Good, good! The legendary Starfleet efficiency I suppose." The Master felt his mood actually improve.
"I must say," said Spock, as the Master was about to pace off again, "I have trouble crediting the purpose I extrapolate logically from the departure orders you have given the fleet."
The Master tried to eye Spock long enough to make him nervous but it didn't work. Oh well, probably the Vulcan had learned that he usually blew up instantly if he were going to lose his temper. "Tell me, Commander," he said, "what will the Federation's enemies think when my broadcast reaches their space?"
"They will see the Federation in a state of instability and reorganization in the wake of your coup. They will see opportunity."
"Exactly. That's precisely what the situation here would be, were it anyone but I at the reins.
"What better time could there be, when they think us weak and helpless, to launch a surprise invasion of the Klingon and Romulan Empires?"
END OF CHAPTER 4
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