Kirk knew of another reason the visit Murphy. There had been starchatter about it for months. The Klingons and the Romulans were going to sign a trade agreement, according to rumors. Murphy might know something about it because of the position of his planet near the Neutral Zone but near the Klingon Treaty Zone as well. Xanadu was a planet that was as far away from civilization and the Starfleet outposts as anyone dared to live. And although Kirk knew a little about Murphy, he felt he needed to know more, so he had called a briefing session of his main officers.
Kirk was seated at his usual place, with McCoy on his left and Spock on his right at the computer terminal. Filling out the other seats were Scott, Uhura, Giotto and, fortunately, Sulu.
"Mister Spock, what does the computer have on Mister Murphy and Xanadu?" asked Captain Kirk to begin the briefing.
The logical science officer responded by saying, "Computer--on."
The feminine but mechanical voice of the Enterprise computer system replied, "Working."
"Biographical information on Charles Foster Murphy."
"Working...Specify. There are nine Charles Foster Murphys listed in the biographical computer banks."
"Information on the one inhabiting Xanadu."
"Working...Born Charles Foster Murphy, planet Alpha Three, forty-five standard years ago. Entered Starfleet Academy at age eighteen. Graduated eighty-seventh out of class of three hundred ninety-seven. Assigned to astrophysical section on Starbase Three on Stardate 0800. Later promoted to lieutenant and assigned to destroyer U.S.S. Darius. Taught classes in World Conflicts of the Twentieth Century and Weapons of the Twentieth Century, aside from Astrophysics courses. Honorable discharge, Stardate 3560. Address following discharge listed on Earth. Wrote two books, The Influence of the Armored Fighting Vehicle on World War Two, and Can There Be Another Hitler Today? while residing there. Latter book sold fifteen billion copies in ten years on the commercial market. Murphy used profits to purchase planet Lambda Orion Two. On Stardate 4425.3, planet's designation changed by Murphy to Xanadu. Has resided there ever since."
"Silence at last," someone muttered.
Captain Kirk was relieved to hear that someone else had been as bored as he had been by the computer's monotone report. He gave a silent sigh and looked around the table. It seemed everyone was in agreement with him except three: Spock, he could understand, but he saw McCoy and Sulu did not appear to be relieved by the end of the report. Sulu appeared to be interested, but as for McCoy...
"Bones!" Kirk snapped, slightly above a whisper.
The good doctor replied with a muffled "Huh?" and quickly awakened. "Sorry, Jim. M'Benga has the flu so I had to work the last two shifts."
"It's all right, Bones. Mister Spock, what do we know about Xanadu?"
Spock had anticipated the question. "Captain, Lambda Orion is a double star, of G4 and G7 types. They are separated by a distance of five point two A.U.'s. Xanadu orbits at a radius of one point one A.U.'s, and is itself a class K planet. Typical of its class, it has many naturally occurring tunnels."
"History of the planet?"
"Only one Federation starship has ever visited the planet, the Darius."
Kirk was startled by the coincidence, or was it a coincidence? He began to wonder. "Spock, was there a landing party from the Darius?"
"Yes, Captain," said the science officer.
"Was Murphy in the landing party?"
Spock rephrased the question for the computer. "Computer, was the Charles Foster Murphy inhabiting Xanadu a member of the landing party of the U.S.S. Darius when that starship visited the planet?"
Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott said, "Do ye think there's a connection, Cap'n?"
"I do, Scotty," responded Kirk. There seemed to be a connection between the fact that Murphy had bought a planet he had once visited as a landing party member. But why he felt that something was wrong with that, Kirk did not know.
He turned to Spock. "Does the Enterprise have any crewmembers that took a class at the Academy from him, that may know him?"
As Spock turned to the computer console, Lieutenant Sulu, the helmsman, said, "That won't be necessary, Mister Spock. I took a class in Twentieth Century Weapons."
Kirk remembered the look on Sulu's face when the captain had taken the police special away from the helmsman on a certain shore leave. "Continue, Mister Sulu."
"Well, there isn't that much to say. During the last semester at the Academy, though, I did get fairly close to him, I guess as close as anyone could get to Lieutenant Murphy."
"What do you mean?"
"Sir, Lieutenant Murphy was pretty much a loner then; he liked to keep to himself with his ideas about almost everything. Even during his classes, he was quiet and unassuming."
"Yet you said you became fairly close to him. May I ask what other information you can give me about his personality at that time?"
"Well, on the first day of class, he mentioned how he had always been fascinated by the intricacies and mathematical probabilities of warfare, especially Earth's World War Two. Later, it became apparent that the war itself was not his only area of interest, but also the era as a whole.
"He liked watching old twentieth-century video representations...movies, I think they were called...but he especially liked the ones that were made during and about the World War Two era."
"Sounds like Murphy is obsessed with the past," remarked McCoy.
Kirk said to his medical officer, "Well, Doctor, since you think it's an interesting case, I want you to read his psychological tape and give me a report."
"Yes, Captain. You'll have it before we reach Xanadu."
"Fine, Bones. Well, if no one else has anything to add, dismissed."
Slowly, everyone began to file out. Spock was making his way to the door, but turned to see that Kirk was still seated, sorting out the information he had just received. The Vulcan spoke. "Captain, if we suspect that Murphy sent a probe into Romulan space, then the Romulans may suspect it as well."
"That's what has me worried, Spock. They might send a ship to Xanadu once they begin to suspect it."
"They also may arrive in orbit while you and the landing party are on the planet. I believe that we should take one precaution that has only recently been available."
"What precaution, Spock?"
"We have some idea of how the Romulans' ships' invisibility screens function. One of our people in the physics lab has put together a device that can make a man invisible. Unfortunately, its development is only in the preliminary stage."
"So you think we should wear this device down to the planet?"
"Since the only prototype is being worked on, I suggest you wear the device should you find yourself in a difficult situation."
"Mister Spock, may I see a demonstration of this device?"
As Kirk got up and started to walk down the corridor to the turbolift, he realized that the Vulcan was concerned for him. He was sorely tempted to prove his point, but better judgment prevailed. They entered the turbolift. "Deck Three," Spock ordered.
The two officers entered the lab where Lieutenant Commander Mandelberg was looking at a tape of a possible way of reducing the heating effect of his invisibility device. He had turned around at the sound of the door opening and closing. "Ah, Mister Spock, Captain Kirk. I gather you've told the captain about my little invention, Commander."
The first officer said dryly, "Mister Mandelberg, the captain would like to see a demonstration of your 'little invention'."
Talking through the smile that Spock's comment brought on, the scientist explained, "Well, put simply, the idea behind it is to form a screen from which no light is reflected or the light reflected is from nearby surroundings, not the person himself." He reached over to a cabinet, pressed a button and pulled out a belt with two box-like constructs at opposite ends. "This switch here," said Mandelberg as he pointed to the top of the slightly larger box, "determines which mode of operation the device is in."
Pressing the button to the cabinet, Mandelberg continued his explanation of the device. "This other switch on the control plate causes the device to let no light pass through the screen, and this other one has the images that the lens on the other side of the person...it's contained in the other box...has the images projected onto the screen. Of course, these images are seen in three dimensions."
"Could you give me a demonstration?"
"Oh! Yes, of course, sir." As he was putting on the belt, he added, "There is one problem with it, though." He pressed a button, the belt started to give off an orange-yellow glow, and the scientist vanished.
This sight left Kirk ready for a question. "What problem?"
"I'll switch modes to show you the size the screen." As he did so, the area of the room where Mandelberg had been standing was now covered with a black screen, two meters by one and a half meters wide. "Captain, you'll notice that the screen is rectangular, like a sheet, and does not hide anyone from behind the screen." The scientist turned ninety degrees to face another wall.
Kirk and Spock could now see both Mandelberg and the screen which was only two or three centimeters thick. "The most effective use of the screen is to back oneself into a corner," the physicist said as he turned the device off and began to take it off. "The problem, Captain, is that the front part of the device heats up fifty degrees in two minutes. But that can be corrected."
"About a week, I guess."
"And how many devices can you produce?"
"It's not as simple as it looks, no more can be produced with the materials I have available."
"I see." Kirk turned to the science officer. "Mister Spock, when will we reach Xanadu?"
"At present velocity, seven days, nine hours and twenty-seven minutes."
Kirk hesitated and then asked, "Your screen didn't block sound waves?"
"No, Captain. I thought that the invisible person might want to communicate at times, or at least listen in. But Captain, it can't be penetrated by phaser number one fire."
"Very interesting, Commander." Kirk shot a glance at Spock. You have your week."
Kirk looked at the wall chronometer. 12:27:03. Kirk thought to himself, This might be a good time to get some lunch. Six more days to Xanadu. He walked out the door only to meet a startled Doctor McCoy, whose hand was stopped in front of the door buzzer.
"Sorry, Bones. What are you doing here?"
"I've finished looking over Murphy's psychological tapes."
"I'm going to lunch. We can talk on the way."
"All right, Jim."
As they moved to the nearest rec room, Kirk asked, "Well, Bones. Do you have anything of interest to report?"
"Maybe. Murphy's discharge from Starfleet may have been honorable but it was coded under section 804."
"Meaning he was asked to leave."
"Yes, Jim. The official reason isn't given, but from what I read at the time just before he left, I gather that he was sane, but just barely so. He was becoming unstable, this instability coming from what, I don't know."
Kirk stopped in front of the rec room as the door slid open.
"Jim," said McCoy, his voice foreboding. "I can tell you this. If Murphy's not sane now, and his obsession with World War Two still exists, he might be very dangerous."
"Thank you, Doctor,"said Kirk. He saw the look of
concern in McCoy's eyes and added, "Don't worry, Bones; I'll be careful."
Science Officer's Personal Log, Stardate 4697.0
Murphy was sitting in front of a scanner. "It's definitely Federation," he said. "Over four hundred in its crew--a starship." He turned to his companion. "Get me one round from the ammo supply. Hurry!"
Kirk sat in his command chair. Xanadu was less than ten minutes away. Kirk was thinking of how Murphy would react when told that the Federation needed the new Romulan designs. He turned to Uhura "Start sending hailing messages, Lieutenant."
"Hailing frequencies open, sir."
"Mister Spock, scan Xanadu for Murphy's residence."
"Yes, sir," the Vulcan said as he bent over the scanner. "We are being scanned. I have found some underground tunnels, evidence of an immense underground building and an even larger underground cavern. His scan has stopped, sir."
"Sir," said Uhura, "I'm receiving a response to our hails."
"Tie us in," said Kirk.
As Murphy came on the screen in a World War Two uniform of an American general, Kirk gave his introductory comments. "Mister Murphy, I am Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the United Star Ship Enterprise. On behalf of the Federation, I would like to arrange a meeting with you."
Murphy replied, "Enterprise?! Excuse me, Captain, but do you have an ensign named Sulu aboard?"
"Lieutenant Sulu, our helmsman."
"Forgive me, Captain," Murphy said apologetically. "You are a captain, aren't you?"
Kirk nodded and smiled.
"But I've been here for a while, and news from Starfleet doesn't get out here too often, thank goodness."
Everyone on the bridge became a little nervous. After a short silence, Murphy realized his mistake. "Sorry. The meeting you wanted, Captain, can be arranged immediately. I suggest that you beam down in front of my castle."
"Fine. Will fifteen minutes be all right?"
"Perfect. See you then." Murphy's arm reached off-screen, and the image faded.
"Orbit status achieved during your message, Captain," said Sulu.
"Thank you, Mister Sulu. Spock, you're in command. Sulu, come with me. Uhura, get Doctor McCoy down to Transporter Room One."
The three materialized in a tunnel about ten meters from one end which was blocked by a rectangular, wooden surface. The tunnel itself was about thirteen yards wide and almost ten high, and was made of grayish-brown rock. The floor was smooth, although the walls and ceiling were not. In between the landing party and the entrance was a chasm about two meters across that ran from one side of the tunnel to the other.
As soon as McCoy got over the slightly nauseating feeling that he despised so much, he said, gesturing to the chasm, "What do we do now?"
"We wait," said the captain.
After about thirty seconds or so, a faint rumbling could be heard coming from the closed end of the tunnel. It crescendoed slowly and at one point, the wooden surface made its use apparent as it made a jolt downward and outward to the other end of the chasm. As the drawbridge lowered itself, a small World War Two era tank appeared on the other side.
It lurched forward onto the drawbridge and stopped about a few meters away from the Enterprise crew. Its now deafening roar stopped as someone struggled to open the top hatch from within.
The hatch opened, and out came Murphy, who seemed happy to see the landing party. As he began to climb down from the tank, he said, "Hello, Captain. I'm sorry I'm late." Indicating the tank, he explained, "She's not as fast as she used to be."
"Hello, Mister Murphy." After looking over the uniform for a second time, he asked as he extended his hand. "Or should I call you 'General' Murphy?"
"Charles will be fine."
Kirk turned and made the necessary introductions. "This is Doctor McCoy, Chief Medical Officer, and I believe you know Mister Sulu, Helmsman."
At the sound of McCoy's title, Murphy's cheery attitude disappeared. "Captain, why is he here?" Murphy's arm had risen and pointed at McCoy.
"Doctor McCoy is one of my top advisors." Kirk had answered Murphy's question vaguely enough to not upset him further. McCoy was there to help Kirk in the event that Murphy became insane, and to report on Murphy's condition back to Starfleet.
"Are you sure he isn't here because of my psychological profile?" There was a brief silence, and Murphy's smile returned as he turned to Sulu. "Anyway it doesn't matter....Sulu, it's been a long time. Congratulations on your promotion."
"Thank you, sir."
"And now, Captain, may I invite you inside my castle so that we can talk?"
Murphy reached into his pocket and pulled out a relatively small radio on the side of which he pressed a button with his thumb. "You can take her away now."
The only reply was that the tank on the bridge started up with its engine roaring, reversed back across the bridge, turned and went down a corridor to the right.
Murphy led them across the bridge and started down the corridor to the left. The corridors were connected by an anteroom. In this room, there were many old-style photographs of tanks of World War Two.
Sulu said, "I see you've added to your collection, sir."
"Yes. Do you like them?"
Murphy walked over to the wall where the pictures were hanging and removed one. "A Tiger tank...somewhere in Russia, I believe. It's yours," said Murphy as he made a small gesture to Sulu.
Sulu was enthusiastic. "Thank you, sir!"
"You're welcome," he said as he reached into his pocket and put the radio to his mouth. "General Montgomery, would you come to the anteroom right away?"
A garbled "Yes, sir" came from the speaker of the radio.
"I thought that you were the only man here," stated Kirk.
At that moment, General Montgomery came in.
"Then who is this?" asked Kirk.
Murphy replied by speaking to the general. "Montgomery, would you show the captain exactly what you're made of?"
The general opened up the front of his mid-twentieth century British army uniform, and reached his hand over his abdomen, pulling open a layer of plastic to reveal that there was a series of circuits and lights within.
Murphy explained, "They say they were made by the Makers from the Andromeda Galaxy. This used to be an outpost of theirs."
There was a silence while all three of the landing party tried not to think about what had happened the last time they'd encountered a class K planet with a single Human inhabitant and a horde of androids. The last individual had been one Harcourt Fenton Mudd.
Kirk was first to speak. "Yes, we've run into some other androids of the Makers."
"Well then. Montgomery here is the main locus of communication for them all, and therefore, my aide de camp, too."
"How many androids are here?" asked Kirk.
"Xanadu is populated by exactly eleven hundred thirty-one working androids, and one semi-working man." Murphy turned to the android. "Montgomery, get dressed and then hold on to Mister Sulu's picture, and make sure he gets it when he leaves."
The android answered, "Yes, sir."
"Now, Captain," said Murphy as he turned to Kirk. "Let's go somewhere where we can sit down." Murphy led the landing party through a wide corridor.
As they entered a secondary corridor, Kirk walked beside Murphy. "Did you find the androids when you beamed down from the Darius?"
"Yes, Captain. I strayed from the landing party." Murphy's tone was matter-of-fact. Obviously, he had suspected Kirk's knowledge of the earlier visit. The men came to a pentagonal door which opened with a pneumatic sound and yielded a large room. The room was filled with mementoes of the mid-twentieth century movie posters, war photographs. "And then Montgomery found me. We had a somewhat lengthy conversation in which I promised him that his small outpost would not be revealed at that time. He had no reason to doubt me, and I had no reason to lie to him."
"You had your duty to report..." Kirk began, but, when he realized such a statement would only prove useless against a man like Murphy, he let it drop.
Murphy gestured to a couch and a chair. "Please, sit down." As they sat, Murphy finished up by saying, "I returned here after I bought this God-and-humanity-forsaken place."
Kirk looked around the room and asked, "Wasn't there a General Montgomery in World War Two?"
"Yes, Captain, there was. As you can guess, I renamed the general after the one from the mid-twentieth century. There are a few other generals here. Patton and Rommel most notably."
Kirk was about to comment on how much like Patton Murphy looked when Sulu asked confusedly, "Then why honor General Montgomery? He was more of a jerk than a military leader."
"Exactly, Sulu. That is what fascinates me about him. But the General Montgomery of Xanadu is more of a companion to me, Doctor." Murphy knew that McCoy was thinking that Murphy was a case of insanity due to isolation. "He has his original personality as programmed by the Makers and is not subject to my orders. He just happens to enjoy the same things I do."
Kirk asked, "You said that you only had a few generals, but you have eleven hundred 'working' androids. Exactly what is it that they do?"
"Come. I'll show you," Murphy said as he rose and started for the door they had entered by.
As he got to the door, he stopped, pointing to a wall with an intricate map on it. "This is the basic idea of what you are about to see. This is a simulation war game." He continued through the door and walked down another secondary corridor that led to an enormous cavern. The corridor continued as a dirt road. "Welcome to mid-twentieth century Europe, home of the Eastern and Western fronts of World War Two. Here, I can recreate any small scale action I want to because of the eleven hundred androids, Captain."
"Androids?" asked Kirk. "How can you recreate war with androids?"
"The weapons which I use in these actions emit a short burst of light that their sensors can detect, thereby deactivating either all or part of the android. This means that these androids can be reused once the simulation is over."
The group came to a section of the road that was bordered on both sides with a thick growth of trees. As they were walking, a female android in a German uniform came in front of the group, motioned to someone behind her to come ahead, and gave an order in German. Eleven androids followed the first through the trees and crossed the road.
"Was that a woman leadin' those androids?"inquired McCoy.
Murphy explained, "No, Doctor. That was an android, a logically thinking mechanism--no, it was certainly not a woman. But your question has reminded me that I also reprogrammed some androids to have Human failings--among them, forgetfulness and possibilities for error, things an android is incapable of."
Murphy looked at Kirk and remembered the reason that they were all there. "Sorry, Captain. Let's return to the living room to discuss what you want."
Instead of turning around, Murphy motioned ahead with his hand. "There's a shortcut up the hill here." They entered the forest and went up the hill quickly. Murphy reached down next to a tree stump and pressed a button concealed on its surface. The stump slid aside as Murphy explained, "A turbolift. I got the idea from a popular television show of the mid-nineteen sixties. I'm sure you won't mind the jump. Even though it's two meters, with the lesser gravity here, it's like jumping three feet on Earth."
After descending into the pit, Murphy said, "Living room." The lift began to descend.
"Why do you call this planet Xanadu?" asked Kirk. He had wondered about that.
Murphy was expecting the question. "I am a student of history, Captain. The era that I have adopted as my concentration of study is obviously the World War Two era. The name Xanadu comes from Citizen Kane, one of the few films from that era that still exists in its true form."
"Citizen Kane?" asked McCoy. "Oh, yes, I saw that one once. Wasn't it about a madman with a castle of seclusion?"
Murphy nodded. "Named Xanadu. Yes, Doctor, but Charles Foster Kane (my father liked the movie and named me after the character), was hardly insane. He just wanted 'everyone to love him'."
"Don't you think that's a form of madness?"
"I suppose so," admitted Murphy absently.
As the lift sped horizontally, Kirk said, "But that still doesn't explain why you went to all the trouble of changing Lambda Orion Two's name to Xanadu."
"Well, Captain,"said Murphy as the doors slid aside and they found themselves at the living room. "I wanted the Starfleet records to show some sense of nostalgia... nostalgia that I feel. Is that a sufficient answer?" Murphy sat down in the chair as Kirk, McCoy and Sulu were seated on the couch. "Captain, now is the time for me to ask a question. What is it that you wanted to discuss?"
"There have been rumors...rumors that Starfleet feels are worth checking out."
"And what exactly do these rumors say?"
"They say that you've launched some type of probe into Romulan space, getting detailed information on the make-up of the newest Romulan warship."
"And you want me to give these so-called plans to you?"
"Well I won't. I can't. You'll have to find out for yourself what the new warship looks and acts like."
"Because I'd rather not have anything to do with Starfleet. It calls itself a peaceful organization...and don't give me that we-only-use-our-weapons-when-forced-to-do- so crap. You have the weapons and warp drive. That's plenty enough. But I'll grant you this. Starfleet is, for now, everywhere in the galaxy fulfilling 'peaceful' missions...everywhere except here. A spy mission, Captain. Tsk, tsk." Murphy's emphasis was on the 'for now.'
"What do you care about peaceful missions?" asked Kirk. "You simulate war every day of your life."
"Yes, I play war. But that's a different thing than having the ability to destroy everything. I'm a pacifist at heart, Captain. If I'm intrigued by the tactics of war, fine. But I don't think that the two have very much to do with each other."
"Don't you think that this constant exposure to war might desensitize you to it?" asked McCoy. "So that you could commit some act of violence?"
"Your point is well taken, Doctor. But I assure you that I am no more liable to commit an act of violence than you and the rest of the civilized galaxy are."
"Yet you are armed," said Kirk, pointing to the pistol at Murphy's side.
"This is usually not even loaded. I carry it because Patton carried one. Although I do admit that it is loaded now because of what I thought might've been an inhospitable visit." Murphy added, "I do practice with it occasionally, and I'm quite a marksman, if I say so myself."
"Isn't that a double standard?" asked Sulu.
"Not really. I see now that my loading of this revolver is just as stupid as the arming of Federation starships with phasers."
"Well then," said Kirk. "Do you know anything about a Klingon-Romulan trade agreement?"
"Yes, I'll tell you that much. But Captain, again you'll have to find out the specifics on your own. I am a native of Alpha Three. We Alphans believe that one should learn what one knows by one's own experiences. I am loyal to my past, Captain."
"Then, Mister Murphy, if you are loyal, you should be loyal to the Federation and give me the information I want."
"It's no use, Captain. I won't change my mind."
On the Enterprise, Spock had the con. Chekov was at the science officer's post, looking in the priviewer as it relayed information from the sensors. Without warning, he called out, "Sir, a wessel on the sensors at extreme range. It is approaching Xanadu at sublight speed!"
"Lieutenant Uhura, relay to the captain, immediately," ordered Spock. He moved to the library computer. "Identification of the vessel, Ensign?"
"It appears to be a Wulcan space-craft."
"Let me have a look, Ensign," said Spock. "It is highly unlikely that a Vulcan spacecraft would be this far out from the Federation." He twisted the dial on the side of the hooded viewer. "Lieutenant Uhura, go to Red Alert." The Vulcan turned to a confused navigator and said, "Remind me one day to show you the difference between Romulan and Vulcan readings."
"I have the captain on the line, sir. Do you wish to speak to him?"
"Yes, Lieutenant." The Vulcan pressed a button on his console. "Captain, we've made contact with a Romulan craft closing in on Xanadu. No sign that they have scanned us, yet."
"Then beam Sulu and the good doctor up. I'll remain here using Mandelberg's device. Now take care of my ship. Return when the Romulans have left orbit."
"Understood, Captain. Spock, out." He pressed the button again. "Transporter Room. Beam up Doctor McCoy and Lieutenant Sulu."
The science officer turned to face the navigation console. "Helmsman, decrease orbit to ten thousand kilometers."
Scotty turned from his engineering station. "What?! De ye think that's wise, Mister Spock?"
"Xanadu's lack of atmosphere makes this an ideal maneuver, Mister Scott," explained Spock. "Meanwhile, it keeps us out of sensor contact with the Romulan vessel. You have the con. If needed, I'll be in my quarters making calculations."
Murphy turned to Kirk after watching Sulu and McCoy dematerialize. "Come with me; I'll hide you."
"Unnecessary," said Kirk as he activated the belt.
"Pardon the pun, but I can see what you mean," said Murphy, smiling.
Five Romulans materialized in his living room. Immediately, the leader said in English, "Damn it, Charles. Just what do you think you're doing collaborating with a Federation starship?"
Kirk immediately realized that Murphy knew the Romulan commander. So he's a traitor, thought Kirk. I wonder when he'll turn me in. He noticed that the belt was beginning to heat up. Apparently all the bugs hadn't been worked out of it. Or perhaps the jump jarred something loose, he thought.
"Agrippa," said Murphy. "There's no need to get upset. It was just a routine visit. This is a Federation planet, after all, and they sometimes come and check up on me. Care for a drink?"
"No, Charles. You're sure it was just a routine visit?"
"And you didn't tell them about the new warship design?"
"No. They asked about it, though."
There was a muffled groan from within the room. It was Kirk; the belt had approached an intolerable temperature. He turned off the belt despite the possible consequences. The other four Romulan guards turned their weapons to face Kirk.
"Charles, who is this?" demanded the Romulan commander.
Agrippa persisted, "Who is he? Charles, my ship can blow this planet of yours apart."
Murphy seemed shocked by the threat. "No! You wouldn't do that!" He pointed at the starship commander. "His name is Captain James T. Kirk."
Agrippa was overwhelmed. "Captain of the Enterprise!" He gestured to one of the guards. "Take him and relieve him of any weapons he may have."
One of the guards walked over to Kirk and took his phaser, communicator and lastly, the belt. "Sir, what about this?" he asked, indicating the belt.
"Take it. I want Livia to take a look at it."
Agrippa said, "Well, Charles. I guess that you and the captain are going to get to see the Praetor's newest vessel...from inside." The commander pulled out a communications device. "Transporter officer. Seven to return."
Kirk noticed that the aftereffects of the Romulan transporter system were more sickening than the Federation's design.
After materialization was complete, Agrippa ordered, "Take the captain to the detention area, Claudius. Aeneas, bring Murphy with me. Hector, take the belt and other devices to Livia."
Agrippa and Murphy entered what was definitely some sort of briefing room. The Romulan commander motioned the guard away. "Wait outside." He turned to Murphy. "I am rather upset with you, Charles. Harboring an enemy of the Empire is comparable to treason, and is punishable by death."
"I told you who he was. You should be proud to capture a man like Kirk. Even you have heard of his great military exploits."
"Might I remind you that you are a member of my Empire. You were the one who requested to join after we came to your planet to investigate the automatic probe. Many opposed letting you even live, let alone becoming an Imperial planet. But when the Praetor heard my report on your war games, he was interested enough to let you live so he could compete with you on tactics occasionally."
"And you know my probe was sent only to gather information on your ship's capabilities for a game that Montgomery and I were playing."
"And that's the only reason you're still alive. The Praetor was extremely impressed."
"I'll say," said Murphy, thinking back on the Praetor's last visit to Xanadu. "You should have seen the look on his face when he saw my tank." He looked up at Agrippa. "Besides, you're as fascinated by war as I am."
"Yes, but I don't play war. I live it."'
"But my simulations are harmless; no one is killed."
"I do not care to debate with you and your pacifistic ideology at this time," said Agrippa. "We want the outcome of your last simulation between the Federation and the Empire."
"You know that I won't tell you that. My people..."
"'Believe that one should learn from one's own experiences.' I have heard the liturgy before, Charles. What was the device that Kirk had around his waist?"
"Some kind of invisibility screen."
"Do you know how it works?"
"I don't believe you, Charles, but it doesn't matter. I'm having one of my top scientists look at it. Did you give Kirk any information about us?"
"You're lying.I know you, Charles. You're still in league with Starfleet."
"You know that's not true. On Xanadu, I am alone. I broke all my ties with the Federation a long time ago."
"Have you? I want to know what you told Kirk. The truth this time."
"There is a difference between the truth and what you want to hear, Agrippa, at least in this case."
"Am I going to have to blow your fantasy planet to bits or will you tell me what I want to know?"
"No! You can't blow up Xanadu!" Murphy's voice was almost a scream. "It's the only link I have with the past!"
"Then tell me what I want to know."
"I have told you the truth!"
Agrippa reached for a button and pressed. "Subcommander, destroy the complex on Xanadu."
Murphy muttered, "Goodbye, Montgomery." The android had become a real companion to the man. He began to think of the others as well. Rommel, McArthur and Patton. Patton! Murphy mentally shouted to himself. Agrippa had forgotten about the pistol at the Alphan's side.
Murphy drew the gun and shot Agrippa in the head before the Romulan commander had turned back to face him.
On the Enterprise, Scotty was relaxing with his elbow on the side of the command chair as Chekov maintained the sensor scan on the Romulan vessel.
"Mister Scott! They're opening fire on Murphy's residence!"
"Battlestations. We're not gonna let those beasties catch us like that." He turned to Uhura. "Notify Mister Spock of the situation."
"Unnecessary, Engineer," said Spock as he stepped out of the turbolift. But instead of relieving Scotty at the con, he immediately stepped to the library computer. As he pressed a sequence of buttons, he ordered, "Sulu, prepare to hand helm control over to the computer. Lieutenant Uhura, secure all stations for warp maneuvers."
As Spock walked over to the captain's seat, he heard Uhura say, "All stations report secure."
"Helm, ready to go to computer control," reported Sulu.
"What the blazes are ye doin', Mister Spock?" asked Scotty.
"We are attempting an N-time maneuver." Spock pressed a button on the arm of the chair. "Transporter Room One. Lock transporter receptors onto all non-Romulan humanoids aboard the Romulan ship. The deflectors will come up ten seconds after the lock-on occurs. You are to beam them over in those ten seconds."
"Aye, sir," responded the transporter officer.
"Mister Sulu, bring weaponry to full power. You are to engage only upon my order. Go to helm control ...now."
Immediately, the Enterprise jolted toward the G7 sun on a slingshot course. The inertial dampeners couldn't handle the strain, and all officers were pressed deep into their chairs.
"Abnormal space-time distortion has all instruments on the red line, Mister Spock!" shouted Scotty over the roar of the engines.
"Maintain computer control, Mister Sulu!" ordered Spock over the din.
The Enterprise appeared only seventy-five kilometers from the Tiber. "Transporter Room, energize," ordered Spock into the intercom.
"It's no good, Mister Spock!" shouted Kyle. "Transporter circuits were damaged by a power overload!"
"All phaser banks, inoperative," said Sulu. "Photon torpedoes read the same."
"Do we have deflectors, Mister Scott?"
"Aye, sir. We also have maneuvering power, but that's about it. There was a power overload brought on by the strain of both suns when we pulled away from them."
"Deflectors on maximum, Navigator. Helm, full reverse on all engines."
Aboard the Tiber after the gunshot had sounded through the corridors, the guards, Aeneas and Claudius, came running in, only to be killed by Murphy. A klaxon sounded. Murphy quickly assessed the situation and ran out into the corridor. Having been aboard the Tiber before, he knew the general layout of the Romulan starship and immediately, he proceeded to the sciences lab.
Kirk's guard stood by the entrance to the cell with his weapon drawn. The ship is going into battle, probably with the Federation starship, the guard thought. He was right.
Kirk paced back and forth until, without warning, he heard a loud bang and saw the Romulan's neck burst open with green blood. The restraining field was deactivated and Kirk anxiously stepped into the hall.
Murphy suddenly appeared before him. "Hello, Captain." He touched the belt. "Ingenious, but not perfected."
"Mister Murphy, you're under arrest."
"Well, if I am, I guess I can't let you free."
Kirk smiled. "All right, I guess you're not under arrest."
"Good. Here's his weapon. I trust you know how to use it," said Murphy.
Kirk nodded. "Do you know the layout of this place?"
"Yes," said Murphy.
"Which way to the nearest shuttlecraft bay?"
"There's only one. Come on."
"Hold relative position, Mister Sulu. Firepower status?"
"All banks still inoperative. Tube Four is operational, though."
"Meester Spock," called Chekov from the library computer. "Sensors indicate the Romulan wessel is closing on us." He checked the scanner again. "They're firing on us."
"Fire photon torpedo number four," ordered Spock quickly.
The plasma energy bolt had barely left the projector on the front of the Romulan ship when the photon torpedo struck it and exploded. The explosion disintegrated the entire bow of the attacking vessel.
"Damage to Romulan vessel?" the Vulcan asked.
"Severe damage, sir. I'd say it vas crippled."
"Uhura, open all hailing frequencies. See if they want to surrender."
"Do you know how to fly one of these?" asked Murphy, pointing to the shuttlecraft. It had taken several minutes to get to the shuttlebay. Several Romulans were dead.
"Let's hope I do. Find me one that's armed."
They boarded a sleek, conical-shaped one. "It's a Centurion class shuttle. What do you need the disruptors for?" he asked as he strapped himself into the co-pilot's seat.
"This," said Kirk as he fired the weapons. The bolts struck the hangar doors and the craft was sucked out into the vacuum of space. Kirk kicked in the engines which shot the craft clear of the Romulan vessel.
Chekov turned to Spock. "Sir, sensors detect a shuttlecraft leaving the Romulan wessel. Its occupants: two Humans, probably a Terran and an Alphan."
"That must be the captain and Murphy," surmised Scott.
"Romulan vessel is continuing to ignore our communiqués, Mister Spock. I'm now receiving a transmission from the shuttle."
"Prepare the shuttlecraft hangar deck for an unusual cargo. Also..."
The Romulan craft exploded, interrupting Kirk's transmission.
"Captain?" asked Spock. No reply. "Captain?"
"Here, Spock...that was almost too much strain on this thing."
"Not really. Mandelberg's belt left me and Murphy with some nasty burns though. Kirk out."
Aboard the shuttlecraft, Kirk turned to Murphy, who'd cleared his throat."I've thought it over," the Alphan said. "I'll be glad to give you the information. They destroyed Xanadu. They'll pay for that."
"Your acts could be considered treasonous, Mister Murphy. But if you decided to cooperate with us, I'm sure the Federation would be willing to overlook your actions. And the fact that you saved my life."
"It was my pleasure, Captain." He hesitated. "There's just one more thing. I'd like to teach again."
"At the Academy? I'll see about that."
McCoy was standing next to Kirk on the bridge. "I'm glad to hear that Murphy is back in the galaxy with the rest of us, Jim. Out by yourself on a planet isn't very healthy, mentally speaking."
"He didn't have much of a choice, Bones. Everything he had built there was destroyed."
"Yes, it's also nice to know Starfleet has heart; they dropped the treason charges fast enough."
"Well, they wanted the information, and he did save my life."
"I wouldn't be too indebted to him, Jim. He got awfully lucky. He and Spock both."
Spock turned from the library computer. "Luck had nothing to do with it, Doctor. The calculations I made proved conclusively that the Enterprise could not be destroyed by the N-time maneuver as long as there were no major solar prominences. I chose the more stable sun, and the maneuver did save the lives of the captain and Mister Murphy."
"We're still recovering from your calculations, Mister Spock."
Spock did not answer.
"Yes, we did get lucky," concluded McCoy.
"We got lucky all right, Bones. Lucky that a man 'came home'."
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