Doctors Orders | Chapter 9 of 9

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working, and his fear was much sharper than 257

 

usual. "The time has not been concurrent," the

 

Master said. "I dislocated

 

you slightly from your proper time-stream, into future

 

time. A week,

 

perhaps. I shall restore you immediately when we have finished

 

talking

 

here."

 

Kirk swallowed. "Sir," he said, "you're

 

right. I am angry. But I want to hear what your

 

reasons are for this."

 

"We needed to talk, as you know," said the Master

 

of the beAt. "You are

 

not the only one who has been deep-seeing,

 

deep-feeling, this past while. I have as well. I

 

had decisions to make-about you, and your people. I

 

needed time in which to make them correctly-extra

 

time. And to some

 

extent, being able to exist briefly in the future,

 

as I told you, I saw

 

that this was the only way it was to be managed. For the

 

Klingons were

 

coming, and others with them, on their trail; and after that,

 

all chances would be lost."

 

"Others-?"

 

"The Orion pirates."

 

Kirk's stomach curled up into a little ball and

 

tied itself in a knot.

 

"I fear for your folk too," said the Master.

 

"But my first fear is for my own people, whom I see

 

suffering from that attack, and others. The help

 

you hold out to us is very tempting. But I must

 

balance it against the

 

dangers of dealing with aliens. The pirates have not

 

dealt very kindly

 

with us. You came with fair words, but I

 

had to be sure there was more

 

beneath the words that was fair. I am certain of that now.

 

Our three

 

kinds will join your Federation, and learn to share what

 

we have, and

 

what we are. We will never be quite the same again; but

 

I think that

 

change must happen, and I think it will be worth

 

it."

 

Kirk nodded, keeping himself calm by sheer force.

 

"That said," he said,

 

"and I thank you for it-what's to be done about my

 

ship?"

 

"I think you should return to it," said the Master.

 

"They are in the

 

midst of a battle, and it goes hard with them."

 

"Bones is in a battle-his! He- They-How

 

am I going to get up there?!" Kirk cried,

 

jumping up. "They'll have their shields up, they can't

 

use the

 

Transporter-was

 

"This way," said the Master.

 

And everything stopped-

 

comand started again. He was on the Bridge, and red

 

h alert sirens were going off, and all

 

Hell was breaking loose-

 

He felt, as he had felt it once or twice

 

before, an actual flush like

 

fire in his lower back, as a blast of adrenaline

 

cut loose. "Tactical,"

 

he shouted, and all over the Bridge heads

 

snapped around in astonishment and terror. McCoy

 

alone didn't turn; he had his eyes on the

 

screen, and

 

said, "About time you got here, goddam it! Sulu,

 

fire again-was

 

"Yes! And shields," Kirk said hurriedly,

 

his eyes fixed on the tactical

 

display, "and Sulu, cut hard right now!

 

Chekov, give me weapons status

 

readout-was

 

It came up on the screen. What a farrago!

 

Ships everywhere, one of the

 

big pirate vessels, mother of the shuttlecraft

 

he had seen in the step

 

back in time with the beAt-and four Klingon

 

vessels, attacking it as well- "We got some

 

help," Bones said. "Kaiev there started it-in

 

Ekkava-and the others pitched in 259

 

after a while. I think they just couldn't

 

resist a good fight."

 

Kirk nodded and stared at the screen. The pirate

 

vessel was running on

 

impulse, as everyone else was. Prudent. But

 

this was no time for

 

prudence. "I recognize this endgame," he said

 

to McCoy. "Jellicoe, huh?

 

Not sure it's working this time. Sulu, the hell with

 

this, warp 4 and out of the system when ready."

 

"Restart is still in process, Captain,"

 

Scotty said from his station.

 

"Four more minutes."

 

"Best evasive then, Mr. Sulu." Kirk

 

looked at McCoy. "You were running

 

quiet, I take it. Uhura, give me a

 

padd and put the logs since I left on it."

 

He looked at the screen. "One Klingon vessel

 

I could understand. But four?"

 

"The first one misplaced a landing party," McCoy

 

said. "The same way we

 

did you. Where the hell were you?"

 

"On the planet," Kirk said. "With your friend the

 

beAt.

 

[*macr]

 

McCoy blinked. "That's what the

 

Ornae and Lahit kept saying."

 

"They have some connection with the beAt. They seem to know

 

what they're

 

doing. It's doing," Kirk corrected himself, as

 

he took the padd Uhura

 

gave him. "I only saw the one. Sulu, swing

 

out a bit wider. I want some

 

more room."

 

"Anyway, we couldn't find you," McCoy said.

 

"You were gone from scan, and your communicator was

 

missing."

 

"The beAt do something with time," Kirk said,

 

scanning down the padd.

 

details later. Meanwhile, I understand the

 

Master's reasons for doing it," he said, and he

 

looked over his shoulder, "but it has created some

 

problems for us all, and I am going to require

 

some assistance by way of

 

apology."

 

"The Master?" McCoy said, and looked where

 

Kirk was looking. And froze,

 

as did everyone else who looked that way; because there

 

appeared to be a large, rough, brownish stone

 

monolith standing near the turbolift doors. It was

 

unquestionably too large to stand there-the ceiling

 

was too low

 

for its height. But the stone appeared to be sticking

 

through the

 

ceiling, without doing it any harm.

 

McCoy got up out of the center seat, which Kirk

 

promptly sat down in, and said, "Sir-was

 

"Doctor," it said. "Your pardon that I had the

 

Captain call you away. But it was he that I had

 

to speak to, urgently; and time was short."

 

"You had the Captain-was

 

"The Master is a talented being," Kirk said

 

absently, still going through the contents of the padd. "This

 

transmission from Starfleet, for example. This

 

sudden loss of signal. Sir, there were times in the

 

past when I

 

would have very much liked to have had you around. Oh,

 

well.-Sulu?"

 

"Gaining a little distance, Captain. The Klingons

 

are making it difficult for the Orions. Its

 

shields are back up, and they can't affect them much,

 

but they're a lot faster than it is, and they're

 

concentrating on its

 

weak spots."

 

"Good. Keep running for a few minutes; buy

 

me some room. I need to think a bit."

 

The ship shudded slightly. "Photon

 

torpedoes,"

 

Spock said, coming down for a moment to stand beside the

 

center seat.

 

"Captain, may I say that it is good to see you

 

back?"

 

"Amen to that," McCoy said, from the other side of the

 

seat.

 

"Spock, I can tell you it's good from my side

 

too. But it'll be better as soon as we can do

 

something about this pirate." Kirk looked at the

 

screen, and saw less of it than of some night

 

down on Flyspeck, a night

 

full of fire, and the screams of Ornae and

 

burning Lahit. "Scotty, what

 

about our restart?"

 

"Two minutes yet, Captain."

 

Kirk put the padd aside and drummed his fingers

 

on the arms of the seat. "Bones," he said, "you

 

don't have to stay. I've kept you away from

 

Sickbay long enough."

 

"Uh-uh, Jim. I started this, and I'll see

 

it finished."

 

"One way or another, you will. Anyway-you did

 

a good job. That bit with

 

Delacroix was pricelesscdn't have done better

 

myself."

 

He looked with some admiration at the shape of the

 

pirate behind them.

 

"Some ship," Kirk said. "Starfleet really ought

 

to look into who's

 

selling them so much of our off-the-shelf

 

technology. Not all the stuff

 

welded onto that hull is Romulan."

 

"I was looking particularly at the sensor array

 

near the close end,"

 

Spock said. "It appears to be Starfleet

 

issue, with some modifications."

 

"So it does." Kirk frowned and considered that.

 

"Hmm. Bones, are any of

 

the Klingons cooperating with us directly?"

 

"Ekkava is. The others were just sent in by their

 

High Command to try to intervene when that landing 262

 

p arty of Ekkava's went missing, and we wouldn't

 

tell them where we

 

kidnapped them to."

 

Kirk snorted. "Typical. Uhura, ask

 

Commander Kaiev to break off his

 

attack and come up here to join us. Warn him that

 

we're about to go into warp. That thing will

 

certainly chase us-which is what I intend. We'll

 

be looping around to come back through the system; I'm

 

going to lead him

 

through the other Klingons." He got up and leaned

 

over Chekov's seat,

 

programming in a course. "Read that from your

 

console. See this point

 

here? That's where we'll pop out of warp. Reaction

 

time being what it is, the pirate will drop out a few

 

seconds later, but we'll have flipped end for end and

 

started dumping sublight velocity. We'll wind

 

up behind him. Have the rest of them be there and ready

 

to fire when that thing drops

 

out. We'll collapse its shields-then finish this

 

business. Uhura, see

 

that they have Spock's list of vulnerable spots.

 

Do all that now."

 

"Yes sir."

 

"Then in a moment we'll see about that sensor

 

array." McCoy was staring

 

at Kirk. "You know Kaiev?" he said.

 

"We've met," Kirk said. And there are some

 

interesting implications in

 

that-but never mind that just now. Kirk looked

 

thoughtfully at the other side of the screen,

 

now split and showing both the image of the pursuing

 

pirate and the tactical display. "What's that little

 

green trace there?" "The communications buoy."

 

Kirk looked surprised for a moment. "Ah!

 

Fake signal?"

 

"That's right," McCoy said.

 

Kirk smiled at him. "You were really getting

 

into this, weren't you?"

 

"Not much choice," McCoy grumbled.

 

Kirk looked embarrassed. "No, I guess

 

there wasn't. Still-was A bit of

 

mischief came into his eyes. "Never turn

 

down a learning experience, eh, Bones?"

 

"Jim, you can take your learning experience and-was

 

"Tell me later. Uhura? Are the other ships

 

ready?"

 

"All set, Captain."

 

Kirk looked at McCoy with momentary interest.

 

"Bones, would you mind

 

telling me how you got all these people fighting beside us,

 

instead of

 

with us? Just curious. Starfleet will probably be

 

interested."

 

McCoy looked a bit sheepish. "I can't

 

take credit for the other three. As for

 

Ekkava, I just shouted at him. Called him

 

names."

 

"Hmm," Kirk said, thinking how many times he had

 

wanted to do just that. Still, he had borne a fair

 

amount of McCoy's name-calling in his own

 

time, and it occurred to him that even a Klingon might

 

be impressed by

 

some of it. "Seems to have worked."

 

Again he bent over the helm console and touched a

 

control here, another

 

there. Sulu watched with increasing interest. "There,"

 

Kirk said. "Just

 

hold that instruction in abeyance; we may get a

 

chance to use it.

 

Scotty?"

 

"She's ready, Captain."

 

"Good. Mr. Sulu, warp four, now. Keep

 

an eye on the Z axis change. I want to go

 

straight up like a turbolift on the fly."

 

"Yes, sir!"

 

She went. "Back to visual," Kirk said. The

 

screen was empty for a

 

moment-then filled again with the 264

 

image of the Orion ship, a fair ways back

 

at the moment, doing perhaps

 

warp two.

 

"Won't take them long to catch up. Let them

 

think we're making a run for it," Kirk said.

 

For about ten seconds, the situation did not

 

change. Then slowly the

 

pirate vessel began to creep closer.

 

"Scotty," Kirk said, "you're using

 

that new fuel configuration, are you?"

 

"For the moment." Scotty turned away from his

 

station, looking a bit

 

concerned. "There are problems with it; I wouldn't

 

use it for very long, no more than an hour or so. After

 

this we'll need to look for something

 

else that will produce the same result. But at

 

the moment, we're running at about 110 percent of

 

normal engine efficiency. I can get you up to

 

warp eight . . . for very brief periods."

 

"Noted. We may need that eight, though, so if

 

you have to do anything

 

special to the engines to get them ready, do it now.

 

I intend to find out what our friend there has in the way

 

of engines."

 

Scotty sighed and muttered something, and turned

 

back to his console to

 

begin making adjustments. Kirk smiled.

 

Scotty always complained when you asked his machinery

 

to stretch itself out; but then again, he complained when you

 

didn't-so there was nothing to be done but to put up with the

 

occasional mutter. "By the way, Bones," he

 

said, "your Klingon landing

 

party that went missing-you know what they were after?"

 

"I'm more interested in knowing whether they're back

 

safe," Bones said.

 

"They are-I think. At least, I saw them go.

 

Anyway, guess what they were after."

 

McCoy looked at him and shook his head. "Not

 

a clue."

 

"The vegetable form of the anchovy."

 

"What?"

 

Kirk told him about the tabekh sauce. Bones

 

nodded at that and said,

 

"Yes, I've heard of it. I don't think

 

you'd want to try it, though."

 

"Why not?"

 

"One of the other ingredients is arsenic."

 

Kirk blinked.

 

"Apparently they like the bitter taste," Bones

 

said. "Also, the arsenides are pretty important

 

in their diet. Klingons can get into horrible

 

arsenide deficiencies if they're not

 

careful, especially in stressful

 

situations-was

 

"Bones, Kirk said, "thank you. Sulu, how's

 

our friend doing?"

 

"Accelerating to warp four. No one else is in

 

warp at the moment."

 

"Good. Warp five, Mr. Sulu. Accelerate

 

as they do."

 

"Yes, sir."

 

Slowly they watched the Orions begin to catch up

 

with them. "Not bad for off-the-shelf stuff," Kirk

 

said thoughtfully, "but I still want to find

 

out where they're getting it. We're not supposed

 

to be selling material

 

to anyone who will pass it on to the Orions-but then,

 

I guess forging and falsifying end-use

 

certificates is an old, old game."

 

"Warp six now, Captain."

 

"Noted. They are coming right along, aren't they?"

 

He sat there and

 

watched them, thinking. Some part of his mind noted how

 

good he felt. It was always better to have space

 

battles in the morning, if you had to

 

have them at all. But no-this was almost evening,

 

wasn't it?-for him, at least. Odd that his

 

body felt as fresh and his mind as lively as if it

 

glanced at the beAt. He was going to have a lot of

 

questions to ask, later

 

. . .

 

"They're matching our warp six, Captain."

 

"Good. A nice, slow acceleration now, Mr.

 

Sulu. Keep it regular. And mind the course.

 

Turning too soon will throw the timing off."

 

"I've got an eye on it, sir."

 

They all watched the screen. The pirate

 

vessel was creeping closer, all

 

the time-and suddenly it was quite a bit closer, a

 

swift rush forward,

 

continuing. "Quick, Sulu, warp seven!"

 

"Done, sir-was

 

Enterprise surged ahead too. Hang on,

 

Kirk thought. Speed is what we need at the

 

moment. Not for much longer. But show him your heels for

 

just a

 

little while-

 

"Warp seven," Sulu said. "More, sir?" For the

 

pirate was still gaining.

 

"Must be doing nine at least, was Kirk thought.

 

"Start the turn-we don't

 

want to get too far out of the system. Go

 

to warp eight."

 

"Ah me," Scotty said from his station.

 

"Not for long, Scotty, I promise," Kirk

 

said. "Only a few moments. Then

 

we'll drop out of warp and let things cool down.

 

Though not for him." He looked grimly at the

 

Orion ship.

 

Behind them, the pirate crept closer still. "He's

 

doing eight-point-five, Captain," Sulu said.

 

"Go to nine-point-five, One minute. Then

 

decelerate to warp four, hard,

 

and drop out of warpspace. We need to match our

 

old intrinsic velocity.

 

Uhura, intership."

 

She nodded. "All hands, this is the Captain."

 

Was that a slight sigh of

 

relief going through the Bridge 267

 

crew? Or just McCoy? Kirk said, "We're

 

about to undertake high-speed

 

braking maneuvers while in warp. You know that this will

 

sometimes cause

 

the artificial gravity system to fluctuate.

 

If you're holding a cup of

 

coffee, drink it. Maneuvers should take no more

 

than one minute. We'll let you know when

 

we're done. Kirk out."

 

He sat back in the center seat and watched the

 

pirate draw closer and

 

closer. You do that, he thought. Right up our tail,

 

the closer the

 

better. The vector-inflight maneuver he was

 

trying now had first been

 

invented by vectored-thrust aircraft pilots in

 

one of the old Earth wars; it was so effective, and

 

along with others of their inventions had made

 

them so deadly, that pilots on the other side often

 

insisted that they

 

had been shot down by viffers even when someone flying

 

some other plane

 

had done the deed.

 

We'll see if it still works-Kirk thought. So far

 

it looked good. Maybe

 

the pirate had never heard of viffing, for he was

 

cheerfully running

 

right up Enterprise's tail. "We should expect

 

some fire shortly," Kirk

 

said.

 

As if on cue, the white fire lanced out from the

 

pirate. Sulu evaded

 

before Kirk could say a word. Not much of

 

an evasion, but at this speed, not much was needed; even

 

the slightest drift to port or starboard could change

 

your position by thousands of miles. The first shot was a

 

clean

 

miss; but the pirate kept firing, and the problem for

 

Sulu was that he

 

had a specific course to maintain, and couldn't

 

deviate from it too much, lest they come out in the wrong

 

place, far from their friends in

 

realspace.

 

The pirate fired again, and again, and Sulu ducked

 

and dodged, and Kirk

 

clenched his hands on the arms 268

 

of the center seat and tried not to show his nerves. One

 

good shot at this velocity, and they would be so dead that

 

they wouldn't know anything about it until God tapped

 

them on the shoulder and asked them for

 

identification. Behind him, Scotty was muttering

 

unhappily at his station. "How about it, Mr.

 

Scott?" he said.

 

"I'm keepin" things on an even keel for the

 

moment," Scotty said, "but I canna say how

 

long it'll last. She's not meant for this, not really-was

 

"Noted. Keep that keel even for just a few

 

seconds more. I've heard about the

 

screen-shredders those things come equipped with, and I

 

don't want

 

one used on us-the feedback alone would tear the

 

ship apart at these

 

velocities. Sulu-was

 

"Close to dropout point, Captain. It's in

 

the helm."

 

"Keep an eye on it, and count it down."

 

"Fourteen," Chekov said, while the pirate

 

got closer behind them, and

 

more phaser beams lanced out. One was a graze, and

 

Enterprise shuddered

 

sidewise like a horse stung by a wasp.

 

"Sulu-was Kirk said.

 

"Just lucky, Captain-was

 

"Them and us both!"

 

"comeleven, ten, nine-was

 

"Intership, Uhura. All hands, warp

 

deceleration in eight seconds-brace

 

yourselves! Out-"

 

"comsix, five, four-was

 

The ship shuddered again, harder this time. "Lost

 

number six screen,"

 

Spock said. "Covering with five and seven-was

 

"comtwo, one-was

 

Kirk's stomach flipped as the artificial

 

gravity, true to form, went on

 

the fritz. Even Scotty had never been able to do

 

anything about that. At deceleration from 269

 

such high speeds, the shields' priorities

 

changed to favor maintaining the ship's structural

 

integrity, and the gravity suffered as a result. The

 

gravity came in again, went out again. People grabbed

 

hold of their

 

stations and hung on. McCoy, next to him,

 

looked a bit strained; it was an expression Kirk

 

had seen before, on people trying to keep their cardiac

 

sphincters in line. His own was giving him a little

 

trouble, but he had no time for it now. The screen showed

 

the pirate vessel plunging past them at warp nine

 

while they dug their heels into the fabric of space

 

and slowed,

 

slowed. The warp engines howled. Even Scotty

 

couldn't make them like doing this-

 

"Warp eight, seven, five-four!"

 

"Now!" Kirk said. Sulu took control away

 

from the helm and did the

 

dropout himself, just to be sure. The whole ship

 

rattled and boomed

 

around them as she dropped out of warp, still

 

decelerating. "Tactical-was

 

The screen showed four small red lights clustered

 

together, ahead of

 

them-seeming to rush closer, though it was Enterprise

 

doing the rushing. "One," Kirk counted softly,

 

"two, three-was

 

Ahead of them, the pirate dropped

 

into realspace, and went plunging

 

straight into the center of the waiting group of

 

Klingons. "Mr. Sulu,"

 

Kirk said, "fire at will. Mr. Chekov,

 

activate that intervention I put

 

into the console."

 

Phaser beams hit the pirate vessel from five

 

different directions. Its

 

screens went down. "Close visual," Kirk

 

said, hanging onto his seat as

 

hard as he could. If the timing on this went wrong,

 

the thing would

 

merely drop back into warp, then come around for

 

another pass-

 

The pirate filled the whole screen. Its

 

screens flickered 270

 

up for a moment, then went down again. Klingon

 

phaser beams hit it hard

 

from four sides, and Enterprise's from the fifth.

 

And something else hit

 

it a small shape that came streaking in out of

 

nowhere, a little lump of

 

metal no more than a ton or so in mass-but

 

accelerated to almost half

 

light-speed. The communications buoy struck the

 

pirate amidships. No armor could have done anything

 

to stop it, at such a velocity. It burrowed into

 

the side of the pirate, and a great plume of fire

 

and silvery atmosphere,

 

freezing as it came in contact with space,

 

billowed out of the side of the vessel.

 

"That sensor array, there," Kirk said, pointing.

 

"Burn it out."

 

Without even bothering to wait for a lock from the

 

targeting computer,

 

Sulu took aim and fired. The glassy

 

installation at the end of the pirate exploded in a

 

cloud of plasma.

 

"Good enough," Kirk said. "Let him

 

decelerate."

 

"Klingons are following him, Captain,"

 

Chekov said.

 

Kirk let out a long breath. Doubtless

 

they had old scores to settle; the Orion

 

pirates had preyed on their planets for as long as

 

they could get

 

away with it. Perhaps they thought that letting this one get

 

away would

 

be a mark of weakness on their part, an invitation to more

 

destruction.

 

He looked over his shoulder at Uhura. "Send

 

to Kaiev and the other

 

commanders that this strategy was ours, and we require

 

the right of

 

disposal," Kirk said.

 

Uhura nodded. After a moment, she said, "They

 

accept that, Captain. But

 

Kaiev wants to talk to Commander McCoy."

 

Kirk turned to McCoy and smiled. "You want

 

to take the call here, Bones? Or in Sickbay?"

 

"Sickbay, please," McCoy said. "But,

 

Uhura, tell him I'm busy at the

 

moment. I'll call him back later."

 

"Shall I follow, Captain?" Sulu said.

 

"No. Decelerate and stop."

 

Sulu said, "Yes, sir," in a slightly

 

mystified voice. They all sat and

 

watched the screen, watched the pirate

 

slow, watched it begin to tumble. "Major

 

explosive decompression aboard the pirate,

 

Captain," Chekov said. "Weapons and engine

 

systems are down."

 

"Not as down as they will be," Kirk said, a touch

 

grimly. On the screen, they saw the Klingons

 

move in on the pirate, anchor to it with tractors,

 

and begin to slow it to a stop.

 

Kirk watched and waited. When the Orion ship

 

had come to a stop, some

 

hundred thousand kilometers away, he turned

 

around in his seat to glance at the massive block of

 

stone seemingly sitting in front of the turbolift

 

doors.

 

"Now, sir," he said.

 

And nothing changed except the screen-which suddenly

 

showed them within

 

five kilometers of the pirate and the Klingons

 

tethering it.

 

Every head in the Bridge turned to look at the

 

beAt, then at the Captain. Kirk smiled very

 

slightly. I don't know if the pirates could see

 

that,

 

but let the Klingons chew on it and wonder how we

 

did it. I think things will be quieter on the

 

borders of Federation and Klingon space for a

 

while.

 

He looked at the pirate vessel for a moment,

 

then said, "Mr. Sulu, are

 

the phasers ready?"

 

"Yes, Captain," he said, very quietly.

 

 

"Jim-was

 

He knew what McCoy was about to say before he

 

even said it. "Bones," he

 

said, "they're killers, many times over. They've

 

murdered on this planet, and on ones that we

 

protect, and on ones the Klingons do. I'm not

 

sure

 

they would understand a slap on the wrist at this point.

 

These people are a hundred times more alien to me than the

 

Ornae or the Lahit, or anyone

 

else I know."

 

McCoy just looked at him, and let out a breath.

 

"Your conn, Captain," he said.

 

Kirk looked at the ship to pick the best and

 

quickest spot.

 

Hominid stock, his memory said to him, unusually

 

clearly. Most hominids

 

had ancestor-creatures that hunted and

 

killed to live. The habit is in

 

our genes. It's hard to break.

 

He sat quite still.

 

But with these? They need killing, if anyone ever

 

did! That too vivid

 

night of fire was with him again, the screams and the

 

burning. They're

 

terrorists, pure and simple. They've earned

 

their deaths.

 

"Sulu-was he said.

 

"Sir."

 

Kirk took a long breath, and then let it out.

 

"Burn all their engines out but one, the least powerful.

 

No point in letting them all die of old age before

 

they get back to the Coalsack with the news. And

 

fuse all their

 

weapons ports. Uhura, are their comms working?"

 

"I'm hearing some feeble intership," she said.

 

"Can you put a transmission into that?"

 

"Certainly."

 

"Starting now, then. Orion vessel, this is the

 

USS Enterprise. We thank

 

you for a pleasant chase, but as 273

 

you see from our last maneuver, we no longer need

 

such chases. In cases of less

 

importance, we now have the ability to move our

 

vessels-and parts of

 

them, including the weapon we used on your

 

ship-without recourse to normal impulse or warp

 

engines. The new instant-relocation devices will

 

shortly

 

be installed on all Federation vessels. We are

 

allowing your ship to

 

return to your home port so that you may carry this

 

news to your people.

 

Meanwhile, we strongly advise that you stay out of

 

our spaces-including

 

this area, which is now under protection of the Federation,

 

by treaty

 

newly agreed with its three species." Heads

 

turned in the Bridge at that,

 

but Kirk ignored them for the moment. "You may now

 

leave. Enterprise out."

 

There was a small patter of applause on the

 

Bridge. Sulu didn't join it; he was finishing

 

the last of a number of delicate and skilled phaser

 

blasts that destroyed exactly what they were intended

 

to, nothing else.

 

"Query coming in from the Klingon task-force commander,

 

sir," Uhura said. "They say they're

 

disappointed in you."

 

Kirk smiled at that. "Tell them "Sorry,

 

I'm only human,"" he said. "And

 

they should leave the pirate alone on his way

 

home-unless they want us to pop out of nowhere on them.

 

his

 

She nodded and turned to her station. Kirk looked

 

around the Bridge. "Any damage from all that shaking

 

around?" he said.

 

"No, sir," Scotty said. "All's well."

 

He patted his station. "We build

 

these lassies to last. his

 

Kirk looked at the beAt. "Sir," he said,

 

"my thanks."

 

"And shall I see you tomorrow morning?" it said.

 

"Count on it."

 

"So I shall." And it was simply gone.

 

"I'd like to go with you," McCoy said.

 

"Sure, Bones. No problem. But don't you have

 

a call to make?"

 

"As a matter of fact-was McCoy headed for the

 

turbolift doors.

 

"Oh. And by the way, Bones?"

 

"Mmm?"

 

"You're relieved."

 

"Damn straight I am," he said, and the doors

 

closed on him.

 

"What the hell are you all doing in here?"

 

McCoy shouted happily as he

 

bounced into Sickbay. "I told you all to get

 

better and go away!

 

Morrison, are you back again? We're feeding you

 

too well."

 

"Doctor," Lia said, "I have these reports for

 

you to sign-was

 

"Oh, lovely, bring them here-to " He grabbed the

 

padd out of her hand,

 

brought up the form screens, and signed each one,

 

lovingly, artistically, with great relish. She took

 

the padd from him, when he was done, and said

 

suspiciously, "Are you all right? I can read your

 

signature."

 

"What's the matter with you? I love forms. And

 

if you want me to write a prescription, that'll be

 

legible too," he said happily, heading into his

 

office. "I have to make a call. Anybody

 

wants me, I'll be right here."

 

For a minute or two he did nothing but sit and

 

look at his office walls. They had no screens

 

on them but the one that displayed pictures of

 

people's insides, and there were no guns at all. No

 

weapons, no shields, and only his own dear stupid

 

computer terminal.

 

Bliss.

 

He reached out to his comm. "Bridge," he said.

 

"Uhura, get me Commander

 

Kaiev, if you would."

 

"No problem, Doctor. Visual?"

 

"Please."

 

After a moment, the screen lit up with Kaiev's

 

face. The Klingon looked

 

rather surprised-no shame to him. "MakKhoi, was

 

he said. "7 had hoped you

 

would speak with me before you left. his

 

"I don't think we're leaving right away," he

 

said. "There's time for

 

that. But, Kaiev, I wanted to apologize for

 

lying to you."

 

"About killing your Captain?" The Klingon

 

laughed at him. "It was a good lie! A pity it

 

wasn't true, though. But don't feel bad. Some

 

day you will command a ship of your own. And you will do

 

well!"

 

"Oh no I won't!" McCoy said.

 

"Kaiev, I'm a medic. I have no

 

interest in

 

command."

 

Kaiev stared at him.

 

McCoy shrugged. "It's the truth," he said.

 

"Sorry if you're

 

disappointed."

 

Kaiev said, "7f all medics are as

 

skilled in command as you, I must

 

remember to kill mine. his

 

"Might want to do that anyway," McCoy said,

 

a bit drily. "After the way

 

he hasn't been taking care of you. No, I

 

didn't mean that. But it might

 

do a little good if you threatened him some. He's not

 

watching out for

 

your health . . . possibly on purpose. And

 

heaven knows what he's doing

 

to your people."

 

Kaiev nodded thoughtfully. "Perhaps. But

 

MakKhoi-one question?"

 

"Ask."

 

Kaiev looked around, as if checking to see if

 

anyone was watching him.

 

"With this new weapon, surely you 276

 

need not have feared even four more ships. You

 

could have destroyed them

 

all. his

 

McCoy just smiled.

 

"But you talked with us, as if you were the weaker. It

 

makes no sense. his

 

"Neither did not blowing you up when I could have,"

 

McCoy said. "Just

 

part of being human . . . this week, anyway. You

 

didn't always do the

 

sensible thing either, Kaiev. Maybe people like you and I

 

are the wave of the future. Our peoples may work

 

together yet.

 

Kaiev looked at him thoughtfully.

 

Then, "Impossible, was he said with cheerful

 

scorn.

 

"Well, at any rate," McCoy said, "perhaps

 

you'll let me give you a

 

physical before you go, so you have a proper baseline

 

to compare your own medic's results against. As a

 

gesture of respect . . . from one commander

 

to another."

 

Kaiev nodded. "7 shall make time. was And the

 

screen went blank.

 

McCoy sat back in his chair and smiled.

 

Captain's log, Supplemental.

 

James T. Kirk commandingag

 

The situation aboard Enterprise has quieted

 

somewhat in the past day.

 

Personnel who had been assigned on priority

 

to Linguistics duty-or,

 

alternately, to looking for mehave returned to the

 

business of scientific research into the extremely

 

strange evolutionary patterns and history of

 

1212 Muscae IV. Mr. Spock estimates

 

that we might need to be here for as long as a month

 

to complete a most basic survey, and give the people

 

at

 

Starfleet Sciences enough information to start asking the

 

correct

 

questions about this planet. Myself, I can't say

 

I'll mind sitting still for a while.

 

I have been holding discussions with the Master of the

 

beAt concerning the exact wording and workings of the treaty

 

to be signed by us and the three species of

 

Flyspeck. The Master has no problem with that being

 

the name

 

that goes on the treaty; since all three

 

species have different names for the world, it will probably

 

simplify matters. The Master does not wish

 

the Federation to have a permanent base

 

actually on the planet-he says

 

that that would be "a breach of his jurisdiction," a

 

phrase that I hope

 

to have explained to me eventually.

 

The three Klingon ships that arrived to assist

 

Ekkava during

 

my-absence-have since left. Ekkava remains,

 

at the request of the Master. Generally speaking, our

 

relations with the Klingons here have been

 

unusually warm and friendly, so much so that I sometimes

 

feel tempted to pinch myself. Whether this can be

 

ascribed to the effect of fighting on

 

the same side as the Klingons, or to some other

 

force, I can't say.

 

Certainly the planet surface of Flyspeck

 

is an unusually serene place,

 

and both Klingons and Enterprise crew find it

 

re/l. Leave parties have been down for some time now,

 

there being no rush, and no reason for quite a lot of the

 

crew not to have a holiday.

 

The attached communications from Starffeet make it

 

plain that there was

 

some kind of organizational reshuffling going on at

 

Starfleet, which

 

resulted in Delacroix being put on

 

our case. At any rate, the gentleman

 

was thrown into handling our situation without the proper

 

briefing. He

 

has since been removed from it, and McCoy's

 

record remains unsmirched,

 

except for the time he stole the cadaver.

 

The Doctor himself seems to have survived a most

 

difficult and painful

 

experience, with difficulty but with gallantry.

 

Recommending him for a

 

decoration seems like the thing to do, though my

 

suspicion is that

 

Starfleet will refuse to give It on the grounds

 

that so doing would

 

encourage others to try to maneuver themselves

 

into similar situations.

 

But decoration or not, McCoy acquitted himself

 

splendidly. I can't say I would willingly put

 

him in the same situation again. But it is definitely

 

heartening to know that the Doctor's common sense

 

follows him in the

 

Bridge as well as in Sickbay.

 

I will be continuing to visit the planet, firming up

 

the groundwork on

 

which our future dealings with the Ornae, the

 

Lahit, and the beAt will be conducted. There are a lot

 

of questions to be asked, and the Master has

 

been endlessly helpful, especially with problems of

 

linguistics and

 

idiom, always a stumbling block. At least we

 

have answers for some of the questions we came with. But some of the

 

answers are obscure, and are

 

going to require long and careful study to be

 

eventually understood . . . if ever they are at all.

 

"WHAT KIND OF BUG IS THAT?"

 

McCoy said, pointing upward.

 

"Doctor," Spock said patiently, "your

 

inaccuracies are showing. A "bug"

 

is specifically a member of the order-was

 

"I don't mean bug bug, I mean that bug,"

 

McCoy said. The bright-colored

 

creature that he was pointing at came to rest on a

 

branch far above their heads, and looked at them with little

 

bright eyes like sparks of flame.

 

"It has no name, I fear," said the Master of the

 

beAt. "It flies; it's

 

bright; it seeks certain kinds of trees

 

to pollinate. That's all I can

 

tell you of it."

 

It was a very early morning, no more than

 

an hour or two after sunup. The light came

 

lancing sidewise through the branches of the forest as

 

McCoy

 

and Kirk and Spock walked together along a forest

 

path, and the Master

 

went with them in its silent way.

 

"You are great namers, you people," said the Master.

 

"Soon everything

 

here will have a name, if you have your way."

 

"And will we? Have our way, I mean?" McCoy

 

said.

 

"Oh, not in any way that matters," said the

 

Master. "No creature needs to keep your naming,

 

if it doesn't care for it. Their true natures

 

are known to them; that's sufficient."

 

They went on a little way in silence. Kirk was

 

deep in enjoyment of the

 

morning, untroubled by the Master's obscurities.

 

"Gorgeous," he said, as they came out into another

 

clearing, this one surrounded with trees from which cascaded

 

great fragrant veils of flowers, all

 

transparent as water, and dusted here and there with golden

 

pollen.

 

"They are fair," said the Master, with great

 

satisfac-

 

tion. "Most things are, this morning. And your ship

 

was the morning star,

 

the first one we have had. A pity it will be to lose

 

it."

 

"Others will be back," McCoy said.

 

"But none of them is ever again the first; was said the

 

Master. "No matter; memory remains blue.

 

And at

 

least you will be here for another week."

 

"Yes, we will," Kirk said, "but I don't

 

remember telling you so. Did

 

someone else mention it?"

 

"No indeed," said the Master, "but you must stay here

 

at least a week."

 

"I must?"

 

It paused-or rather, simply stopped keeping up with

 

them. "Surely you

 

must," it said. "Or rather, your ship must. For it was

 

about a week ahead in your time that I took you.

 

Having checked your time measurements, I

 

can say that for certain now."

 

Kirk thought for a moment, then said, "Of course.

 

The Enterprise still

 

has to answer my communications from the planet

 

surface. That must be why Uhura sounded so

 

puzzled."

 

"Yes," said the Master. "And the young Klingons that

 

I brought into that time, to see how you would react to your

 

great enemies when alone, must

 

be sent back to their ship then. The commander of

 

Ekkava will be here for at least that long. But I

 

daresay they will desire to be out of the area shortly

 

thereafter."

 

"Is that a guess?" McCoy said. "Or are you

 

going to find some clever way to manage it?"

 

"There's no difference between the two," said the

 

Master, sounding

 

faintly bemused.

 

They walked on through the clearing, breathing the scent

 

of flowers clear as water. "One thing, sir," said

 

Kirk. "When we spoke-will speak-later

 

and you made your choices. Will make. Damn these

 

tenses!" McCoy laughed.

 

The Master itself made that low rumbling that Kirk

 

had quickly come to

 

recognize as laughter, for the Master laughed

 

often.

 

"You had been to, or seen, or somehow

 

experienced, this future. You had

 

to have already known that I had been able to keep

 

the ship f rom being

 

destroyed in the battle with the Orion pirates."

 

"But I did not-and you had not, not yet. And had I

 

known and shared it,

 

that very knowledge could have made you careless, or rather it could have

 

taken the edge from the fear that is your weapon when you

 

defend your

 

ship. Even had I known, I would not have dared

 

tell you."

 

"But you had to know! You were in the future!"

 

"That's so. But neither of us yet knew what the

 

present would do, you

 

see. The present is everything comm important

 

than the past by far, and the ground and nursery of the

 

future-even when you are in the future. The present

 

is dangerous, almost too dangerous to tamper with."

 

"Yet we inhabit it," Spock said.

 

"Yes," said the Master. "This is a source of

 

wonder to me. But how other worlds are run must remain

 

a mystery to me in some ways. In any case,

 

Captain, I told you no more than you needed to do

 

your work . . . and no less than would enable you

 

to manage it."

 

They paused near the other side of the clearing, where

 

a path ran farther into the woods. "Sir,"

 

McCoy said, "are you glad we came?"

 

"Glad? That would be hard to say. You have had a child,

 

Doctor. When she first began to set out into the world on

 

her own, how did you feel?"

 

"Nervous," McCoy said. "Afraid for all the

 

things

 

that could go wrong. Yet at the same time-was He

 

fumbled for words. "It was

 

what I had been working for," he said. "To see her

 

her own woman, grown,

 

and happy, and doing well. To see her taking her

 

own chances, and becoming things I would never have

 

suspected-was

 

"Exactly so," the Master said. "Just these past

 

few days, the changes

 

have been great. Already the Ornae speak to me in

 

words I never heard

 

them use. Your language is enriching theirs. I

 

think some of them may go out into space someday, with your

 

people. And the Lahit are becoming more talkative, more

 

open. There is no telling where it will all lead.

 

Changes . . ."

 

"Sir," Kirk said, "I doubt that there will be many

 

of our people coming

 

here at all. Only a few

 

scientists, linguists, and so forth. We would not want

 

to ruin such a perfect place-so simple and

 

peaceful-was

 

There was a brief silence. "And paradisaical?"

 

the Master said. "And have a few paradises been

 

spoiled and ruined in your people's time? I see

 

there have. Your concern does you credit. But you need

 

not be

 

overconcerned for the simple pastoral creatures

 

of the Galaxy's edge,

 

Captain," said the Master, and there was a slight

 

edge to the amusement

 

in its voice. "News does travel, by ways

 

that might surprise you. And

 

your guilts aside, paradises are hardly in

 

short supply.but no matter for that. It is noble

 

of you to worry that your own culture, your many ways

 

of being, might drown ours out. Indeed, that was my

 

concern at first. But I have since laid it by. If

 

I have done so, you may well put your own

 

mind at rest. In my estimation, you are not strong

 

enough to do anything but enrich us . . . and it is my only

 

business to know our three peoples here. Later, much

 

later, in some thousands of 283

 

years, you may come up with something that might

 

actually change one or

 

two of our own ideas. But not just yet."

 

Kirk said nothing-feeling, as if it still hung over

 

him, the shadow of

 

immense age and power that had lowered over him in the

 

field. Our

 

intentions are good, he thought. That's worth something.

 

But what makes

 

us think we understand everything that's going on around us?

 

In fact,

 

it's the not understanding that brings us out here again and again.

 

Mystery is much more interesting than knowledge . . .

 

They walked on, into the woods. "I have no

 

doubts about the process of

 

our meeting and our negotiations, Captain," said

 

the Master, as it

 

followed them without moving. "There were many subtle

 

ways you might have tried to affect my decision. But

 

you used none of them; and you intended to use none of them,

 

as I know. And in our own histories, which include

 

the future, your coming had been predicted . . .

 

yours, or that of

 

someone like you. The time had come for growth. So . . .

 

we grow. But

 

never think that is your doing," the Master

 

added, sounding amused. "The history being written here

 

is ours. And as for who is doing the writing-was It

 

trailed off in something that sounded suspiciously like a

 

chuckle.

 

"Sir," Kirk said, "whatever we do, we will

 

keep our interference here at a minimum, and we will be

 

as careful as we can with your people."

 

"What of your own people?" Spock said. "The other

 

beAt seem rather

 

reclusive."

 

Kirk got the distinct feeling that the Master was

 

smiling at them. "So

 

they have been, in their time," he said. "Mr.

 

Spock, I am the only one of my kind here at

 

 

the moment. There are many others, but this is not their

 

place."

 

Kirk raised his eyebrows. All their scans

 

of the Master had come up

 

blank; and they couldn't get a physical

 

sample of its manifestation-you

 

might as well try to get a cell sample from the

 

skin of the Enterprise.

 

The Ornae and the Lahit might have the same

 

basic genetic makeup, but

 

there was no evidence that the Master had anything to do with

 

them at

 

all-another place where the initial survey had

 

gone wrong. The Master was a cipher. "To be the

 

only one of your kind here-was he said. "Do you find

 

it lonely?"

 

The Master laughed. "With a whole planet to watch

 

over, and two whole

 

species? Hardly. And now another species,

 

for whom the responsibility

 

does not obtain. There are good times coming!"

 

"The responsibility?" Spock said.

 

"To guard, to protect." The Master paused on

 

the brink of another

 

clearing. "There are marvels happening elsewhere, that

 

is clear. To have some of them come here will be a great

 

pleasure."

 

"Sir," McCoy said, "have you considered space

 

travel yourself'?"

 

It was silent for a moment as they looked out across the

 

open space, full of long, waving blue-green

 

grass, waist-high and jeweled with dew, so

 

that the whole field glittered with every breath of wind.

 

"Who doesn't

 

think occasionally," it said, "of leaving his

 

post, and doing something

 

else, some other job, better? But sooner or

 

later, if duty matters, it

 

keeps you where your given word put you. No,

 

Doctor, this is my charge.

 

Here I stay. But perhaps," and the Captain got the

 

impression that it was looking specifically 285

 

at Dr. McCoy, "you, who know my charge, and

 

your people, will come back

 

this way some time."

 

Kirk thought he heard something like wi/lness in its

 

tone. He would

 

have liked to tell it yes. But telling this creature

 

the truth had become a habit. "We're not our own

 

men, sir," he said. "We would like to come

 

back when we're done here. Perhaps we will. But it

 

depends on the Powers That Be, and on what they

 

decide."

 

"So it does," said the Master. "But I'm used

 

to that." Its voice was

 

cheerful.

 

On they went, through the grass, getting wet to the

 

waist, and not

 

caring. The Master disturbed never a blade of the

 

stuff, and dislodged

 

never a drop of dew. "Nice trick, that,"

 

McCoy said, just a little put

 

out what with one thing and another. He had never been

 

a morning person

 

at the best of times, and this was a bit early for him.

 

"You will manage it some day," said the Master. "I

 

shouldn't worry."

 

"Not unless I lose a lot of weight, I

 

won't," McCoy said.

 

They came to another patch of woodland, with an

 

odd sort of luminescence showing through it. "This way,"

 

said the Master, and led them down one

 

more path. This one was narrower than most; soft

 

fernleaved trees and

 

bushes brushed at them as they passed through the

 

blue-green twilight.

 

The trees were thick enough to make a roof here, and the

 

only light came from ahead.

 

"This is something I wanted you to see," said the

 

Master; and they came

 

out of the woodland, suddenly and finally, onto the

 

beach. The soft

 

of the early sun, caught in the orange haze,

 

spilled over the blue water

 

and caught in the combers as they tumbled

 

onto the peach-colored sand.

 

McCoy smiled. "Thank you," he said.

 

"I thought perhaps you might like it," said the Master.

 

"Just one of many boundaries. I thank you for crossing

 

mine, and defending it."

 

"Sir," Kirk said, "you're welcome. And I

 

thank you for your hospitality

 

to us."

 

"Oh, as for that," said the Master, "one has to be

 

courteous, after all. You never know whom you might

 

find yourself entertaining-was

 

It laughed, and vanished.

 

"Mysterious creature," Kirk said after a while

 

spent looking at that

 

remarkable sunrise. "I'll be sorry

 

to leave."

 

Spock looked out at the golden morning for a

 

decent interval. "Well,

 

Captain," he said finally, "I think

 

Lieutenant Uhura will be wanting me

 

to come look at her translator algorithm.

 

We finally have the Lahit

 

pronouns and verbs sorted out."

 

"Go on ahead, Spock," Kirk said, and the

 

Vulcan turned and was off back

 

into the woods, heading about his business.

 

"No use trying to keep him when he has things

 

to do," McCoy said, looking out over that morning

 

sea.

 

"Nope," Kirk said.

 

He walked off to one side, where a big boulder

 

sat half-buried in the

 

sand. "Excuse me," Kirk said to it, brushed it

 

off, and sat down.

 

McCoy ambled over, bending down once to pick

 

up a shell from the sand and turn it over in his fingers.

 

"Playing it safe, are you?" he said.

 

"Bones, I'm no geologist. All the rocks

 

here look alike to me, and I'd prefer not to sit

 

down on one that might speak to me. At least, I

 

won't do it without introducing

 

myself." "Strange place, this," McCoy said,

 

sitting down in the

 

sand beside him. "I don't know," Kirk said.

 

"Odd, yes. But not as

 

strange as some we've been to. The things that have

 

happened-now,

 

those have been strange." "You're telling me. You

 

going to hide off

 

in the bushes somewhere and watch yourself appear

 

in a few days?"

 

He made a face. "Probably not. Being in

 

one place in one time is

 

enough for me. The Master can do things his own way."

 

"Never

 

did find out how to pronounce his name," McCoy

 

said. "You were a

 

little busy," Kirk said. "Bones-I have to say

 

I'm sorry. If I'd

 

known anything like that was going to happen-was "Oh,

 

Jim, never

 

mind. How could you know? Forces were being

 

manipulated in ways we

 

couldn't understand. Considering the whys of it all, I

 

can't say I

 

mind. If the price of bringing this planet into the

 

Federation was

 

me being terrified out of my mind and dead tired for

 

two days, I think

 

that's pretty cheap. Don't you?" "Well-was

 

"And don't

 

forget the learning experience." Jim chuckled.

 

"No," McCoy

 

said, "seriously. I always knew that ship was yours;

 

but the

 

knowledge was abstract. It's concrete now. And it was

 

easy to criticize

 

from behind 288

 

the seat. But I've been in it now. When nothing's

 

happening, it's

 

lovely. The rest of the time-I'll keep the job

 

I know." Kirk

 

nodded. "All the same," McCoy said, "one of

 

these days I'm going to

 

have an excuse to make you scrub for an operation.

 

Then we'll see

 

who's got the flexibility on this ship." "No,

 

thanks!"

 

They sat in companionable silence for a while.

 

Kirk looked out at the

 

morning, and sighed. "I'm going to hate leaving this

 

place. There's

 

something veryrelaxed about it." "Serene," McCoy

 

said.

 

"Enchanted, almost." "Protected," Kirk said.

 

"Yes." "That's

 

the Master, I think," McCoy said, and he

 

looked thoughtful. "Long

 

may he wave." "Others of his kind, he said .

 

. ." Kirk took a deep

 

breath of that morning air. "I wonder where they

 

are?" McCoy

 

shook his head. "All over, if my

 

suspicions are right."

 

"Suspicions?" "Oh, not really. Just a

 

funny thought, a joke. I was

 

thinking of a particular quote, back there,"

 

McCoy said, "and he

 

picked it out of my mind and agreed with it, and thought

 

it was

 

funny. Something about being careful about being kind to

 

strangers-because many thereby have entertained angels

 

unawares."

 

Kirk smiled, and nodded. "Who knows what people

 

all those years

 

ago might have thought they were experiencing," McCoy

 

said, "when

 

sometimes they brushed up against wise -- 289

 

creatures of great age, and great

 

power-nonphysical creatures, good

 

beings-who sometimes passed through Earth in their

 

travels, touched a

 

life or three, passed on? And there are

 

legends of creatures like

 

that all over the Galaxy, in all

 

different kinds of forms. They get

 

called by all kinds of different names. On Earth

 

alone there are a

 

hundred names for creatures who act and talk like

 

the Master of the

 

beAt, if they don't look exactly like him.

 

And there are all those

 

legends of "live' standing stones, too, that walk

 

and talk every now

 

and then. Anyway, if this is something that some one of

 

my distant

 

ancestors occasionally mistook for an angel,

 

I must say I understand

 

their confusion. And it has a sense of humor,

 

too. What more could

 

you ask?" Kirk tilted his head to one side.

 

"An interesting theory.

 

Another species like the Preservers, perhaps? But

 

traveling the

 

worlds in various shapes, and devoting themselves to caring

 

for

 

whole planets, whole ecologies? It's not

 

such a strange idea. You

 

could make a case that the Organians have been

 

doing something

 

similar." He grinned, rather wickedly. "And what

 

if they weren't

 

aliens? What if these creatures really were

 

angels?" "Then I'd be

 

especially glad about the sense of humor,"

 

McCoy said, "because

 

dealing with us and our like, they'd need it." Kirk

 

laughed and got

 

up. "Come on, Commander," he said. "Enough

 

theories. According to

 

regulations, I have to debrief you on your period

 

of command. Now,

 

about forgetting to put your shields up in the middle

 

of combat-was

 

"Aren't you due for a physical?" "Oh no,"

 

Kirk said.

 

 

ORDERS

 

"Oh yes-to " They headed back through the trees,

 

into the

 

bluegreen twilight. Behind them, over the sea, the

 

Enterprise rose

 

and passed over, a morning star again. And if somewhere

 

a stone

 

smiled at it, no one noticed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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