Episode II: Investigation
Chapter 2: New Sapienza (contd)
Kirk felt what little patience remained to him slipping away, as the spaceport officer continued to ignore him. Nonetheless, he was a trained diplomat, so he managed to keep a forced smile in his face until McCoy finally pulled him aside to let Spock deal with the man.
"Calm down, Jim. It kills me to say, but you should have listened to that blasted Vulcan. Social hierarchy works differently here and they don't care one jot for Starfleet captains, but Vulcan scientists, on the other hand..."
"Or medical researchers, like you," Kirk grumbled.
"Right. Look, there's an information totem. I don't trust Spock's contact to lead us to where we want to go, I'd like to know where we should go myself." They approached the totem, whose display showed a map of the whole town. "Okay, there should be a global directory here..." The doctor proceeded to fire a series of commands, surprising the captain.
"Bones, I thought you didn't like computers!"
"I don't like them telling me what to do, but this totem is almost exactly the same as the one we had when I was in college, and it's the fastest way to find who we want. Look, Professor Finch is listed as absent, due to return tomorrow. Well, it seems I'll have to go after Doctor John Smith with you. Let's see... Here, I've found him! It's him, right?" Indeed the display now showed a photo of the same man Kirk had met on Galinedoria, but here he was sporting a brilliant smile. There was almost no other information besides his specialization field, which said "everything", and place of stay, listed as "Residence Nedentide". Kirk watched as McCoy issued more commands. No voice commands, though, they were all gesture-based, unfamiliar to him. The display now showed instructions as to how they could get to the Residence. McCoy pressed one button and the totem printed a slip of paper containing the instructions and tickets for the ground transportation.
"Thanks, Bones! Now we only have to wait for Spock."
"Meanwhile, we can talk. Jim, it's clear you're not all right. You've been jumpy, irritated. Just after Ton Selat, you were a wreck. And you're not getting better. Not just as a doctor, but as your friend, what's happening?"
Kirk considered trying to deflect his questions, but ultimately decided against it. "I haven't been sleeping well, Bones."
"Yes. They're back."
"You've been having them on and off for many months now. Any progress in remembering what it's all about?"
"No, just a sensation of impending doom, which has been growing lately. I have no idea why."
"I respect your intuition, Jim, but there's a limit to how much importance you can give to it and still remain sane."
"I'm trying, Bones! It's not as if anything I do changes it one bit!"
"Maybe you're worried about this John Smith. Sometimes, when you talk about him, you seem almost afraid of him."
"Perhaps... no, no, it's not that. He's troubling me, all right..."
"Spock is obsessed about him, you know."
"I've noticed. But he won't admit it."
"I do want to have a talk with this man. If he's managed to disturb my two, er, colleagues-"
"Captain, Doctor," called Spock, coming from the other side of the vast, mostly empty hall that served as an welcoming center. "I've found the information we need. We have to pick the main-"
"The main landrail, until Nedentide, we know," said Kirk.
"Oh? How did you learn it?"
"I'm not a novice, Spock. The information totems here may be tricky to the uninitiated, but I can handle them!" replied the doctor, waving the tickets in his hand.
Arguing all the way, the three of them moved to the station to board the train. Kirk felt slightly relieved to see normality reasserting itself.