Randall Landers and Linda McInnis
with apologies to David Gerrold, John M. Lucas and Buck Godot
Scotty entered what was literally his favorite bar on Earth: Mac's of Bay Street. He had hoped to find Mac, and he was not disappointed; Mac was seldom anywhere else.
"Scotty, you old devil," she greeted him with a wide grin. "How've you been?"
"Fair enough, lass, fair enough. Would it be a problem for me to have a nice, quiet, private table?" he asked.
Mac shot him a hard glance. "Not running from Klingons again, are you?" Her tone was only half joking.
"Nae, lass, nothing thot serious. I just need to think for a while--alone."
"In that case, I've always got a private table for you, old friend. Right this way."
Scotty followed her to one of the dimly lit corner alcoves that Mac reserved for her best and regular customers. Scotty slid into the soft leather booth and let the quiet enfold him. He knew no one would be able to see him unless they were directed this way. "This is perfect, Mac. Will ye have a drink with me?"
"I'd love to, darlin', but I've got to go and check on some things 'upstairs.' I need to solve a small problem before it turns serious. You just order what you want--on the house today."
"Mac, you're too generous--especially for an auld Scots lady. De ye need some help?" Scotty asked.
"I hope not, Scotty, but I'll keep the offer in mind. Now you just enjoy yourself, and order what you will. I'll be back soon."
"Scotch! An' keep it comin'," he called to a passing waitress. He watched Mac glide through the smoky air of the bar and head up the stairs, where she ran her 'sideline and additional revenue generator' as she euphemistically put it. Others said escort service, and those not so generous, even in the enlightened twenty-third century, called it a plain, old whore house. Whatever you chose to call it, Mac did a brisk business in both areas, and Scotty wondered if his impulsive offer of help had been a good idea.
Mac kept everything legal and above board, of course, and had an excellent reputation for good service, but still, he never really approved of her 'sideline.' He was a little too old-fashioned for that.
Just then, the waitress brought his drink. The smoky, fifteen-year-old Glenfiddich scotch slid down his throat and lit a warm fire in his belly. On the house, Mac had said. He knew what the other bars charged for this drink, and it was usually watered. Well, if Mac needs a little help, what the hell? he thought. After all, she was a friend. "Lassie, bring me another, and don't stop."
While he waited for his next drink, Scotty reflected about the long day he had just put in. Arguably, the longest of his Starfleet career. It had been his duty as the former chief engineer of the U.S.S. Enterprise to complete the full-fledged damage survey on the starship. As much as he had hated it, he had not stinted on his findings. After the horrible incident at Serenidad two months before, the Enterprise had suffered such extreme damage that, in all probability, Starfleet Operations would not give the approval for repairs. Easier--and quicker--to build from scratch and use what parts they could from the Enterprise. Scotty felt like he had just performed an autopsy on his mother.
Scotty sipped his drink. Spock had taken the news well. Vulcan-like would be a better term, for Scotty had become accustomed to the small changes in expression and posture that for Vulcans were the equivalent of hysterics. And the former first officer would take the news better than the captain. Still, he suspected that Admiral Kirk, and Captain Spock would be heatedly "discussing" the findings later in the evening. Especially since the Theodus was ready and needed a commander. Perhaps he should alert McCoy, and send him over to mediate, or, at least, change the subject.
He left his booth, and strode over to a vidphone bank on the far wall. McCoy answered almost immediately. "Doctor, this is Scott. We've a wee problem, and I thought ye might be wantin' te know about it." As Scotty gave a brief rundown on his thoughts, McCoy listened intently. "And I thought ye might drop by their apartments."
McCoy snorted. "I don't make house calls."
"Well, ye'd better make one this time."
"All right, Scotty. The two of them have been antsy ever since they took the positions Starfleet 'offered' them at the Academy. This is really liable to blow both their fuses. I might as well stop by and watch the fireworks. I've got an experiment at the lab I've got to keep an eye on, but I had promised to visit Spock tonight anyway. Thanks for call. Take care, and have one from me!"
Scotty signed off and turned to go to his table when an arm reached out and grabbed him. The engineer peered down into an alien face. He recognized Ari bn Bem, of the planet Pandro, attired in a cape that did nothing for his figure. "Good evening, Mister Scotty."
Scotty stared at the alien briefly. He thought it might be best to get the alien out of sight, so he headed them back to his table. "Er...hello, Commander Bem." He eyed the Pandronian carefully. The alien had caused quite a bit of difficulty for him once before. "What brings you to Earth?" he asked. Nothin' to do with me, he hoped.
"Planet Pandro rebuked me, Scott Commander. This One was...how do you say, given the boot?"
"Och, whot a shame. Let me buy ye a drink to cheer ye up and take your mind off it." He signaled a waitress, and ordered yet another scotch for himself. "And what will ye be havin', lad?"
Scotty grinned. "Careful, lad. Ye might not be able to handle it."
"Obviously, you are not familiar with This One's metabolism. An order of milk will an effect of drinking 151 Rum in This One produce."
"Ye're kiddin', mon," said Scotty as their drinks arrived.
"No, Mister Scotty." The Pandronian sounded almost apologetic.
"Well, each to his own poison, I always say. If ye don't mind, Bem, might I ask why your planet fired you?"
"Mind, I do not, Scott Commander. As you know, This One returned to planet Pandro a changed person. No more tantrums, as Doctor Bones would say."
"This One was given the honor of commanding a starship, crewed entirely by Pandronians. Mutinied the crew, and was This One set adrift, only to have his position terminated by planet Pandro. Am now an investigator private."
"Really, now? What happened to the starship?"
"That was why really This One lost its job. The starship was captured by Klingon Kh'myrs. Target practice they used it for. No survivors."
"An' thot's why they busted ye?"
Scotty shook his head. There was one universal tenet that was undeniable: a bureaucrat is always a bureaucrat. "Well, lad, what brings you here? Are ye investigatin' somethin'?"
"Yes, fact in, Scott Commander. Have you this female seen?" The Pandronian showed the engineer a picture of a young, attractive woman.
Scott recognized her at once, but his past experiences with Bem did not lead him to leap to the alien's aid.
"No, I can't say thot I have," he lied. "Why de ye ask?"
"The Dohlman of Elas, Elaan, this is. She was your starship aboard at one time, was she not?"
"Well, yes," admitted Scott. "We did have a passenger of that title once, but it was years and years ago. I've nae heard of her since then."
"And your starship delivered her to planet Troyius, did it not?"
"Well, yes," repeated Scott.
"She has left Troyius and come to Earth."
"Well, lad, that is news, but I can assure ye thot I had nothin' te do with it. De ye know why she left?" He was curious, in spite of himself.
"This One has that determination been unable to make."
"Isn't thot interestin'," remarked Scott for want of anything else to say.
Bem took a deep drink of his glass of milk. "Hired was This One by Troyius and send to find Elaan and to Troyius return with her."
Scotty finished his glass of scotch the same time Bem drained his milk. The engineer could tell that the blue-skinned alien was not sober because Bem's ears crawled along his forehead from time to time, making Scotty a little queasy. Colony creatures like the Pandronians shouldn't be allowed to drink in public, he thought.
"Well, Mister Scotty. A pleasure it has been. Until later."
"Aye, lad. See ye 'round."
Scotty watched as the Pandronian struggled to remain together. Bem left the bar and a relieved engineer. He'd not leave this booth until he was good and ready. Now that Bem was gone, no one knew he was here.
He ordered another scotch, partly to help himself think and partly to help him forget the sight of the Pandronian, with its ears walking all over its head. The Dohlman, eh? he thought. He remembered the evil-tempered brat. "Engines are for menials." I wonder what she's doin' on Earth?
At first he thought it was the scotch, then he thought it was his memories and the encounter with Bem. There was a young woman coming purposefully toward his table, and if the Bohlman had had blonde hair, he would have thought it her. She stopped short at his table, frowning. Uh-oh, thought Scotty.
"Mister Scott, I'm Lieutenant Marilyn Sanders, from Starfleet Logistics, Chief of Inventory Accounts office. I must ask what you are planning to do with the materials you've requested," she stated plainly.
Now he was fervently wishing his captain was here to veer her away from her topic. There was no one Scott could turn to to change the subject, so he blurted out the first thing that came to him. "De ye know, lass, thot ye look jes' like the Dohlman of Elas?"
She only looked more annoyed.
"Please, don't try to change the subject, sir. Ordinarily, I would never bother anyone off-duty, but you requisitioned enough material from Starfleet to build a starship. It's my job to determine what it's for."
"Mister, I'm an instructor at Starfleet Academy and a designer for Starfleet Engineering, and you ask why I need a few parts?" Scott snapped tersely. The best defense and all that.
"Mister Scott, sixteen hundred thousand credits worth of parts is not what I nor my officer considers a 'few parts.' And," she added, seeing the look on his face, "they are not considered teaching aids."
"How would ye know, lass. I'd wager a year's salary that all ye've taken at the Academy is acountin' classes."
"I minored in engineering, and besides--"
"Scotty!" came a shout from the top of the stairs.
The engineer felt only a great sense of relief at this distraction, and bounded across the room and up the stairs to the landing, with, unfortunately, Lieutenant Sanders in tow.
Mac was there, trembling, but whether from fear or anger, the engineer couldn't tell. "Scotty, please help us! Some--creature--tried to kidnap Helen!"
"Is she all right?"
"Yes, I've got her locked in her room. I wanted you to talk to you about it earlier. There's this guy that's been--"
"Mister Scott, I hardly think this is very important, whereas the inventory problem is," objected Sanders. "Besides, this really isn't any of your business--"
Scotty cut her off. "The lady," he thumbed over his shoulder at Mac, "happens to be a friend of mine, and thot makes it me business. If you're bound and determined, ye can stay here, if ye keep quiet. Or we can take it up tomorrow when I'm on duty."
Sanders looked around her, noting the opulent surroundings and the nature of the 'upstairs.' She looked intrigued. "I'll stay," she said firmly.
"Fine. Now, Mac. What happened?"
"Helen is one of my newer girls, but I've never seen anyone become so popular so fast. Almost all of her customers are becoming real regulars. I don't know what she did before she showed up here, and I don't care. In this business you can't afford to be nosy, but she knows her trade, I'll say that. I'm a fair businesswoman. I pay my girls well: seventy-five percent of their take. And let me tell you that my twenty-five percent is a nice piece of change, thank you. She loves her work."
"But now someone's tried to grab her? A customer?"
"Twice now. An ugly blue alien."
Scott groaned. "Did he have a fuzzy orange beard and sideburns? And was it a really light shade of blue, not like an Andorian?"
"Yes," answered Mac cautiously. "Have you seen him?"
Scotty sighed. "I bot him a drink no more than fifteen minutes ago," he mumbled.
"Damn! I knew I should have talked to you sooner! Why the hell would you be buying drinks for hostile aliens?"
"Mac, I knew him. He was an acquisition from me early days aboard the Enterprise, durin' our first mission. Hails from the planet Pandro, a pretty new member in the Federation. Wanted to ask me some questions."
"What about?" Mac had calmed down and wanted to know the facts.
"And what does that have to do with the supplies you've ordered?" demanded Sanders.
"Seems he's now some sort of galactic private eye. And he says he's lookin' for the Dohlman of Elas."
"Who the hell is that?" asked Mac, utterly confused.
"And why did you say I looked just like her?" piped up Sanders.
"Okay. Where is she?" asked Scotty.
"Who?" Mac was more than confused now.
"Helen!" shouted Scotty. "I need to see her."
"Come on." Mac took Scotty, with Sanders still in tow and looking more intrigued than ever, to a nearby room. Mac swung the door open, and Scotty stepped in.
"Hello, Mister Scott." Brat that she was, she did have a lovely voice.
"Yer majesty," he replied, resisting the irrational urge to bow.
"You mean she's the Dohlman of Elas? Helen?" Mac registered comprehension and a serious cash flow problem.
"Aye. Her husband's the ruler of Troyius, a planet in the same star system as Elas."
"My late husband was the ruler. He died a few months ago. He couldn't handle the strain of Elasian love-making. I am now the reigning queen of Troyius. At least, I was. I gave it up for my new job."
"Ye gave up rulin' a bloody star system to be a--"
"--hostess. Yes. Ruling a planet is boring. This is not."
"Boring?" Sanders burst out, forgetting her promise of silence. "I'd have given anything for that job. Think of the parties--"
"Boring," snorted Elaan.
"Think of the clothing, the jewels--"
"Boring to choose, boring to wear."
"Think of all the important people you'd meet!"
"Unbearably boring. Believe me, ruling a star system is the worst thing a person can be forced to do."
"An' thot's why ye left. Ye were bored."
"Yes, Mister Scott. I arranged a 'travel accident.' I came here under a pseudonym. The Troyans think I'm lost in space, or so I've heard. I came to Earth, and in researching various jobs, heard about Mac's reputation. So I became a hostess here. Mac has paid me well, asked me no questions, and I have many clients who adore me. I enjoy it."
Mac grabbed at that straw. "So now what, Scotty? You can see she doesn't want to go back. There's no law that says she has to rule against her will. You've got to help me!"
"What about your bouncers?" asked the engineer. "Just have them throw him out."
"He broke both their wrists, tied them up and tossed them into the laundry closet. If Helen hadn't screamed and locked the doors, he would have gotten her then!"
"And what about my wrists?"
"I'll pay you. In trade, in scotch, in credits, whatever. Just protect her from that creep who wants to take her back to Troyius."
"Don't be absurd, Mister Scott," argued Sanders. "Simply call the police, and they'll protect the young lady. Then you and I can discuss this inventory problem."
"Sweetie," began Mac, a look of harmful intent dawning on her face, "the police and this kind of establishment do best when we remain far, far apart. This is not Argelius, you know. Besides, those goons would ship her back quick as one, two, three! What about it, Scotty?"
"All right, I'll watch her. Just get rid of this lieutenant, and maybe I can think of a solution."
"Mister Scott, it is illegal," she yelled as Mac applied a Vulcan nerve pinch to her shoulder. She slumped bonelessly to the floor.
"Ye know, lass, ye're the only Human I know who can do thot."
"You don't even want to know what I had to go through to learn it," she muttered. "Okay," she decided. "I'll take the lieutenant here and put her in Helen's closet. You take care of Helen."
"For how long, lass?"
"I'll have hired some new bouncers in the morning. You should be out of here by the time you need to be on duty. Just watch her for now, okay?" She handed him a stun phaser, the kind civilians were permitted to carry. "Here's something that should help. Now, be careful."
"We'll be fine," replied Scotty with more enthusiasm than he felt.
They entered Elaan's room. It was not small, but most of it was taken up with a huge, canopied bed. In addition, there was a fireplace with a fur rug and pillows, as well as a soft couch and various exotic drapings over the windows and closet door where Sanders lay in an unceremonious heap. I'll have something figured out by the time she comes to, thought Scotty optimistically.
Time passed slowly. Scotty and Elaan moved to various pieces of furniture, he trying to ignore her, and she, well, who knew why she did anything. After sitting on opposite sides of the bed or too long, Elaan turned to Scott. "Well, Commander, isn't this boring?"
"Aye, lass. Thot it is."
She yawned. "I think I shall go to bed. Would you like to join me?"
Scotty was startled. "Well, I, uh...er, well, um," he answered brilliantly.
"Since coming to Earth, I have always shared my bed with a man before going to sleep. I would not like to break tradition," she said, leaning on his shoulders, pressing her breasts into his back.
Scott's blood pressure and a certain portion of his anatomy were both rapidly rising. "Um, well, I...er, thot is. I mean..."
"I know you're excited, Mister Scott," the Dohlman purred in her velvet voice, as she lay back on the bed and unzipped the front of her jumpsuit. "Why don't you take a closer look at me?" She pulled the jumpsuit down over her shoulders and slid her arms out. "My breasts are lovely, are they not?"
Scotty was beginning to sweat. "Well, lass, I, well, think..."
She slid the jumpsuit down past her bellybutton, past her hips, past her thighs. "And I'm told my pudenda are quite attractive."
The engineer was sweating heavily. He desperately wanted to get up, but he felt riveted to the bed by the sight of her. "I'm nae sure thot means--"
"Here, take a nice close look," she said, rising on the side of the bed. She stood on the side of the bed, thrusting her hips almost directly into Scotty's face.
"And my love muscle is as tight as it can be."
Scotty was nearly overwhelmed by her scent. "I'm sure it is, lass, but--"
"Mister Scott!" shouted Sanders. She had escaped Morpheus just in time to see the Dohlman's last movement.
And none too soon, thought a relieved Scotty.
"Just what is going on here?"
"Mister Scott and I were discussing a business arrangement," responded Elaan smoothly, as she hopped to the floor, never missing a beat. "I thought I was beginning to make some progress until I was interrupted."
"Well, seeing that neither of you seem to have come to terms, I want to talk to Mister Scott."
Elaan shrugged and slid under the covers. "Be my guest," the Elasian said. "Obviously I wasn't getting anywhere." She sounded genuinely disappointed.
Scotty looked at the two women, so alike and so different. Lieutenant Sanders' harassment definitely seemed the more attractive proposition at the moment.
"All right, lass," yielded Scotty. "What would ye like to know?"
"The reason you ordered all those parts, of course."
"I requisitioned those parts to begin a reconstruction operation on the Enterprise."
"But Starfleet Command has not authorized any repairs--"
"They will soon," Scotty assured her. "I'm just gettin' a head start."
"Why should they? The Enterprise is over a decade old! A lot of new innovations in technology have been developed in that time."
He avoided the temptation to remind her that the Enterprise was actually over fifty years old. Quite a number of people in Starfleet regarded the major refit the Enterprise received after Captain Pike's transfer as so major that the starship had been basically rebuilt. "Did ye ever hear of the U.S.S. Missouri, lass?"
"Mister Scott, there is no such ship. We don't name vessels after territories of member countries of the United Nations."
"No, lass, not now. The Missouri was a sea-going vessel. A battleship. One of the best fer her time. They scrapped her after the end of World War Two in favor of newer, faster ships."
"Just as we have the Enterprise. Technology frequently makes even good equipment obsolete."
"Could be. Except I'd argue that the Enterprise is damaged, rather than obsolete. But getting back to the Missouri, it was in moth balls for years, nearly four decades. Then in a surprise move, she was recommissioned, refitted and served the United States Navy again until World War Three, where she was destroyed by a nuclear missile. But de ye see the analogy? She was considered dated, but the United States did recommission her."
"What's your point, Mister Scott?"
"After almost forty years of just sittin', she was still able to be used for active defense purposes! And the Enterprise is still goin'! Or could be..." Scotty took a deep breath and collected himself. "I have submitted a plan to Captain Spock--"
"Why am I not surprised?" Sanders interjected.
"--detailing a minor refit of the Enterprise, elevating it to a training ship. Think of it, lass. We train cadets in class J cargo ships, in dinky little scout class vessels with no legs and less firepower. The Enterprise would be invaluable in turning out a whole new class of cadets."
"I'll grant you that, Mister Scott." Sanders sounded less skeptical.
"So, I ask ye, de ye think ye could keep the details of the captain's plan te yerself, at least until he makes the proposal to Starfleet?"
"Mister Scott, you're very persuasive. Very well, I suppose so. Just keep me posted. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to get out of here." She made for the door.
"I think not," said Ari bn Bem, Private Investigator, an illegal, potentially lethal phaser clasped firmly in his paw. He stood in the middle of the room from where he had apparently crawled out from under the bed.
"How did ye get in here?" asked Scott, surprised.
"A ventilation shaft under her bed there is. This One had to disassemble, but difficult it was not."
Elaan, who had lain quiet all this time, suddenly bolted upright, allowing the bed sheets to fall. "I will not go back with him to the planet of pigs!"
Ari bn Bem, apparently unfamiliar with the glandular development of the humanoid female form, ogled her breasts, allowing curiosity to take over.
"This One is confused. No idea did I have of these humanoid female appendages. Are they vestigial arms?"
Sanders explained, "They're mammary glands."
The Dohlman was not modest. "They're beautiful."
This quick by-play gave Scotty all the time he needed to grab his own phaser and stun the Pandronian's legs, torso, and arms. He left the former commander's head alone, so it could talk.
"Sorry, lad, we've got you."
Bem's disembodied head sighed. "Unsuccessful I have been at attempting to convince you to return with This One to Troyius. This One seeks explanations."
The Dohlman, now wrapped in a sheet, sighed as she perched herself on the edge of the bed. "I have tired of such a life of luxury. It's so boring."
"I'd trade for that kind of boredom any day," offered Sanders.
"Would ye, now, lass?" asked Scotty. He was getting the beginning of an outrageous idea.
"Oh, yes." She sighed. "To be the ruler of a star system? What girl wouldn't?"
Scotty was about to say he could think of quite a number of women that wouldn't. "Well, now. Ye could, providing thot the Dohlman here agrees, and if Mister Bem here would be willin' te present ye te the government as the Dohlman."
Elaan was nodding. "All she needs is a little hair coloring, and a few details."
"My commission's up in three weeks. I could decide not to re-enlist. And your secret would be safe with me, Mister Scott."
"But how could This One be so deceptive as to present a fraudulent Dohlman?"
"Would six thousand credits do?" asked the Dohlman.
Scott raised his eyebrows. "Ye've got thot much?" He was clearly impressed.
"I would not make such an offer unless I had the means to back it up," Elaan answered simply.
She really does love her work, thought Scotty.
It had been a long three weeks. But, at last, Ari bn Bem had left with Sanders, the 'new' Dohlman. Elaan had provided a hypnotape. But the time Sanders got to Troyius, she would have her role, as well as her hair color, down pat. She would feign total and complete amnesia as to what had happened to her between the time she had 'left' Troyius, and when she returned. With Bem's help, it would work.
"You cannot expect me to buy that, Scotty. It's just another one of your tall tales," said McCoy, grinning, in spite of himself.
"But it's true, I say. I wouldn'a lie about it, Doctor." The two had met at Mac's for an evening of drinking.
Mac walked by, nodded to Scotty and joined them. "Evening, gentlemen. Scotty, Helen's been asking for you."
McCoy laughed. "Come on, now, Mac. Scotty here has paid you to say that, didn't he?"
"Oh, no," said Mac. "Why would he pay me when I owe him 'all the scotch he can drink in a lifetime.'?"
"You mean--the Dohlman of Elas really is here?" McCoy could tell they weren't keeping up the joke just for his benefit.
"Helen," Mac said emphatically, "is no longer the Dohlman. Right now, she's the most popular employee I've got. Would you like to see her? She's very busy tonight, it'd be hard to fit you in, but I'm sure she'd make room in her schedule for the two of you."
McCoy shook his head vigorously. "No, thank you, ma'am. I do not care to become the victim of Elasian biochemistry."
Scott was startled. "I thought ye had worked out a cure for that!"
"I worked out a cure for her tears. Eye moisture is nothing compared to certain reproductive hormones secreted by Elasian women. Solving the tear-problem was one thing, but nothing compared to that! It could take months...maybe even years!"
Free counters provided by Andale.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES --
2275-2283 The Second Hiatus.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction.
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website