Episode I: Diplomatic Talks
Chapter 6: Missing
"Mr. Williams, I'm telling you the Enterprise did not fire, either on the Galinedorian ships or on the planet. General Valdorr lied to you."
"Don't think you can avoid paying for this, Kirk, I saw the images! Even if it was just a mistake …"
"It was no mistake, it was a deliberate attack, but it wasn't us. There was a cloaked ship attacking both the Enterprise and the Galinedorians. They must-"
"Don't tell me now the Romulans are here, Kirk! I know astrography! They couldn't have come all the way around Federation territory without being detected, and certainly not on those slow ships of theirs."
"They weren't Romulans, Mr. Williams. We don't have a positive identification yet, but we have the wreckage, and we're examining it for clues." Kirk sighed. Mr. Williams was proving to be every bit as full of himself as certain other Federation envoys he'd had to work with in the past. It was incredible that such small-mindedness could be found among the ranks of the service responsible for developing relations with other cultures and civilizations. He was relieved that Ambassador Koenig was due to arrive in two days. She was a capable and respected diplomat with whom he had already worked in a few occasions. If anyone could untangle this mess and reach an agreement with the Galinedorians, it would be her.
"I expect you'll keep me informed." The man sounded less than convinced, but they both knew any further discussion would have to wait. "Ms. Valdeter is ready to beam up with her team. They haven't resisted arrest by the rebels as you did, so they're mostly unharmed. But I still want them checked by your doctor before they resume their work here."
"Noted. Kirk out." He could feel the exhaustion settling in his body as the adrenalin rush of the last hour finally faded. He tried massaging his neck. "Mr. Montero," he called to the lieutenant manning the security station, "please coordinate the beaming up of the survey team with the transport room. Mr. Spock, what's the status of the recovery?"
"Some of the largest pieces of wreckage have been beamed up to Cargo Bay Three, Captain. Mr. Scott's team is already working on them. Unfortunately, very few organic remains could be retrieved, and they were considerably degraded. I believe Doctor McCoy will have considerable difficulty getting results from them."
"So we have little to confirm the Doctor's - our guest's, that is - information about them being Omoran."
"We know little about the species that make up the Omora Confederacy, sir. Regardless of the condition of the remains, I suspect the best the good doctor could manage would be to exclude other possibilities, such as Romulans or Klingons."
"Then you believe our guest's tale that those were Wamarraki mercenaries."
Spock raised an eyebrow. "His story, however strange, is consistent and fits the facts. Besides, he has given me no reason to doubt his honesty."
"Yet, Mr. Spock." As his first officer stared at him, Kirk felt compelled to explain. "I'm not sure, but I believe there's a lot he's not saying. And I feel there's a lot more to him, too."
"You believe him to be lying."
"No, not really. I believe he's not telling the whole truth." He didn't add that he also feared the Doctor was dangerous. The longer he knew the man, the more uneasiness gathered in the back of his mind. There was a heaviness in his stomach, as if a storm were approaching and he could feel it in the wind.
"The Doctor has shown considerable expertise in a range of unusual subjects," said Spock, interrupting his captain's musings. "I am curious about how he managed to acquire it all."
"That's a good question." It also reminded him of his other questions about the man. "Spock, any idea how the Doctor managed to configure our scanners to defeat the cloaking system?"
"Not really, Captain. I have ascertained that he connected his device to the science console computer through the diagnostic interface. He used it to adjust the program settings for the scanners. But I still do not know how he managed to compute the frequency parameters. He did not use the ship's computer."
"If he didn't use our computer, how could he have done it? That 'sonic screwdriver' of his is too small for the task."
"Perhaps not. There are some compact computer systems that could fit into the device. But without knowledge of the relevant data and the algorithm to process them, I cannot reproduce the calculations."
"So we can't use the same solution on the next cloaked ship we find."
"I believe I said that, sir."
"Of course, Spock." He reclined in his chair, stretching his legs and trying for a better position. Maybe he needed to take a break and go to his quarters, rest a bit. No, what was he thinking? He must be really tired if he was considering lying down when there was still so much to be done.
"I look forward to hearing Doctor McCoy's impressions of our guest," Spock's voice interrupted again. "I believe they will be … illuminating."
"Good thinking, Mr. Spock." McCoy would have a very different perspective from theirs, and he knew he could trust the doctor's instincts. Kirk punched the comm switch. "Kirk to Doctor McCoy. Bones, please respond."
"What is it, Jim? I'm busy here."
"I was hoping to get the highlights from your examination of our guest. We need to talk to him as soon as you release him."
"Then you'd better let me work. I won't get anywhere anytime soon if you call me every five minutes. I'll see him when he gets here."
"Bones, I sent him your way more than fifteen minutes ago. He should already be there!"
"Did you? Wait a moment." He heard McCoy calling Nurse Chapel and asking where the newcomer was waiting. "Jim, he hasn't arrived yet."
"Are you certain?"
"Of course I'm certain! Chapel hasn't seen him either. He hasn't come here."
"Kirk to security. Security alert, condition 2. Locate Mr. Rahdi. Locate and detain the Doctor."
"Mr. Rahdi is in turbolift three, now on Deck twenty-one," said Montero. "He isn't responding to the comm. I've dispatched officers to his position." He checked a few displays. "No one has seen the Doctor since he left the bridge, sir. We're starting a systematic search for him."
Kirk was restless, waiting for news. One man down. He hadn't taken the Doctor for a violent man. He wouldn't make the same mistake again.
The ship was on yellow alert, but shields were kept raised as a precaution against another cloaked ship. His officers were all busy. The aftermath of combat left a lot of work to be done before they could return to routine. Uhura was composing a report to Starfleet. Sulu and Chekov were mapping the Galinedorian vessels and satellites in orbit. Spock was busy with his station, probably reexamining what the Doctor did to it. Personally, he wanted to join the security teams and search for the exasperating man.
"Sir, Mr. Rahdi has been found. He's alive and unharmed," reported Montero.
"What happened? What did he say?"
"He doesn't remember, Captain. He has no idea what happened after he left the bridge. They're taking him to sickbay to be examined."
"Good, Montero. I want the Doctor found —"
"Captain." There was a subtle note of alarm in Spock's voice.
"What is it, Spock?"
"Transporter Room Two has been used to send someone to the planet's surface. It was down for maintenance, but it was nevertheless activated about ten minutes ago."
"How did he manage … No, don't bother. Let's go. Come with me, Spock. Mr. Montero, send a team to Transporter Room Two. Mr. Sulu, you have the bridge. Keep us in transporter range of the planet's surface."
"Captain, it was unnecessary for you to come," said Spock as they hurried down the corridors.
"Nonsense. I want to confront him myself."
"Sir, if we have to follow him down to the planet's surface, you must stay behind. When Mr. Williams calls again, he'll want to speak to you."
Kirk sighed. "You're right."
They entered the secondary transporter room, joining the security team already there and the pair of technicians examining the console. Spock took over and soon had results. "I have been able to determine the approximate coordinates of the beam-down, Captain."
"The Doctor overrode the safety systems and set the coordinates directly, without using the targeting sensors. That's how —"
"He did what? But that's insanely dangerous!"
"Yes, a disaster would be almost inevitable in normal circumstances. But the transport was completed successfully, without detection by the bridge systems. I have the coordinates, compensating for the time differential and orbital drift, but there remains a margin of error of roughly one hundred meters."
"That's good enough. Spock, take the security team with you and bring the Doctor back. Alive."
Kirk watched them beam down, before using the transporter's scope to check the destination. It was situated in a forested area, with a narrow creek through the middle, surrounded by farmland. He contacted the bridge and asked for a full scan of the region. It didn't take long before Spock called back.
"Captain, no sign of the Doctor, or of a ship, in the vicinity."
"He may have already left the area. Try scanning for tracks."
"We're doing so, sir. It will take some time."
"Find him, Spock." It was pointless to wait in the transporter room, so he left the technicians to their job and returned to the bridge.
"Captain on the bridge!"
"At ease, gentlemen. Mr. Sulu, report."
"Galinedorian vessels are staying away. The planetary news networks have reported that the faction of the military that tried to start a revolution has surrendered. The rebels were against the negotiations with the Federation. The government deplores the attacks on us, and they say there'll be an investigation and trials."
"I'm sure there will be. Anything on the surface scans? Around our security team?"
"Nothing, sir. There are a handful of lifesigns, all Galinedorian, within twenty kilometers of their position. There's no sign of anything that could constitute a ship as small as a shuttle, even powered down, in the same area. In fact, we've scanned the whole northern continent, and if there's a warp-capable ship somewhere, it's well-hidden."
"Any sign of a cloaked vessel somewhere in orbit?"
"If there was one within ten million kilometers, we'd have already detected some trace of it, sir."
"Very well, continue scanning. As soon as the security team is back, I want you to climb to an orbit of three hundred thousand kilometers and stay there. I'll be in sickbay."
As soon as he entered, he made a beeline for his CMO. The sickbay was nearly full, with injured crewmen occupying most biobeds, being examined and treated by the nurses and the doctors, McCoy and M'Benga.
"Bones, what happened to Rahdi?"
"Jim, you look like hell! Sit down here while I check you."
"No, I don't have time."
"Then make time! The chemical compounds in that gas you breathed during your escape must be affecting you."
"Let me guess, they make me tired?"
"And obsessive, and cranky. I've already administered the antidotes to the rest of your team. Now stay here and let me treat you." The doctor approached him with a hypospray and Kirk relented.
"Bones, I really need to know what happened with Mr. Rahdi."
"He's fine. Better than you, in fact. He apparently fell asleep in the turbolift." The doctor pointed to the man resting in another biobed, being examined by Doctor M'Benga.
"That's it, he was found sleeping in the turbolift. No sign of anything that could have knocked him out. No gas or injection. His brain patterns when he arrived were relaxed, as if he'd been out for hours," McCoy explained as he fussed over his patient, checking his vitals.
"Maybe he was disabled by a Vulcan pinch."
"I've tested for that too, Jim," he replied defensively. "Even that leaves traces, and there were none."
"That's not possible. There must be something."
"Well, there are a number of ways he could have been knocked out, but if I have to guess it's probably one of a number of very rare compounds. I've heard of two or three which might have had that effect."
"Well, it's not as if they're in wide use. Starfleet Intelligence has funded some research on compounds that would be harmless and leave no trace, to be used during infiltrations. I've read some of the papers, they're interesting. There are possible medical applications that —"
"Wait. Are you saying the Doctor is a member of Starfleet Intelligence?"
"You're saying that, not me. I haven't met him yet. Now you stay here until the antidote has had time to do its work, then you can go to your quarters and rest. I'll give you a sedative —"
"I can't, Bones!"
"Either that, or I take you off duty for 24 hours. Your choice." Kirk knew it was pointless to argue. He really felt awful.
"At least ask Spock to come see me as soon as he comes aboard."
"I'll tell him. Now stay here, I have a lot of patients to treat."
Kirk must have dozed off because before he knew it, Spock was at his side.
"Are you feeling better, Captain?"
"Yes, I think so." He was surprised to realize that he was feeling much better. "Talk to McCoy, there's something about an antidote —"
"I was unaffected, Captain, so there is no need for an antidote."
"Yeah, I should have guessed that. So, anything?"
"I assume that you are referring to our missing guest. No, Captain, we haven't found him. I have found some tracks and other evidence, but I will need some time to examine them before making inferences."
"Did McCoy tell you that the Doctor may be from Starfleet Intelligence?" Spock raised an eyebrow, and Kirk recognized it as one of mild surprise. "Something about how he might've incapacitated Mr. Rahdi."
"I will ask him."
"Do so. I want you to investigate all leads, check everything he's done to this ship, and find out who exactly he is. I know you still have contacts in Starfleet Intelligence. Have them check him out."
"If he is Starfleet Intelligence, that would explain a lot. However, I haven't heard anything about them having a counter against cloaking devices. But I presume you don't think he is."
"I don't know what to believe in. He might be SI, but I have a feeling the truth is more complicated than that. If he was, why didn't he simply identify himself so we'd know to trust him? It's not as if he tried for a low profile. Find out all you can about him, Spock."
He observed as his first officer left sickbay, and finally sat up. He'd go to his quarters and rest. He had to admit McCoy was right, this time.