San Francisco, Headquarter of the United Planets' Starfleet. In front of the Fleet Chief's office Dr. Leonard McCoy strode up and down. When he heard the door hissing behind him, he turned round hastily.
James T. Kirk, Captain of the starship Enterprise, and his First Officer, Lt. Spock, came out. McCoy spread his hands and looked at them inquiringly. He did not know what had happened in the office. He only knew that T'Raeg had visisted Admiral McDonald, the Chief of the Fleet. T'Raeg was chairwoman of the Science Council of the planet Vulcan, Spock's home world. She never had left Vulcan, it had to be of first importance.
"Fffft", the Captain said and beckoned him to come along.
"What do you say, Spock – are we a dog?"
"Logically you should ask: are we two dogs, Doctor. However, I do not think the comparison fitting."
"Your sense of humour is…"
"Don't say it. Your sense of humour is non-existent."
The Vulcan refrained to answer. On Vulcan they learned already as children to control their emotions absolutely completely. The sense of humour was, of course, included.
Captain Kirk, their commander and hero of countless adventures, lead them out of the building. Behind the Headquarter there was a park, a large meadow, bordered by trees and shrubs. Kirk marched towards the centre of the meadow because only here he was sure that nobody was close and might listen.
Dr. McCoy once more spread his hands and this time he received an answer:
"Bones, do you remember our time-helix mission?"
"Eh? Do I remember it?" Dr. McCoy retorted in a piqued voice. "'course not. I never remember anything where you almost bite the dust."
This had been three years ago. The Enterprise was the only ship in the Federation of United Planets which had experienced time warp. Vulcan's government had asked them to execute a mission for them.
About two hundred years ago a time experiment had been made on a Vulcan space station. The experiment had been a complete flop and the station had disappeared in time. Three years ago, however, close to Vulcan there had been peculiar time disruptions. The Vulcans assumed that these were long time effects of that long ago experiment and the Enterprise had explored the matter.
In parts the mission had been sheer horror. They had commuted between time zones, once such a time-border had gone right through Captain Kirk and Communication Officer Lt. Uhura. It almost had cost both sanity and life. – And Dr. McCoy was asked if he remembered that?!
"Okay, get down", Kirk said impatiently. "T'Raeg has given us information they found in the station data."
"Spock blasted that station right into the air…"
"Into the air?" Spock interrupted, irritated. "In space?"
"… and before that transmitted the data to us", the Captain continued. "Will you stop harping on minor points!"
"Yea, dear", the Doctor purred and Kirk suppressed a grin.
"This station has been in a different time horizon. Just don't ask me. T'Raeg discovered an information about some commander named Salta who made first contact to a species calling themselves humans. According to our reckoning that was in 2020."
"Bosh! That was – in 2163."
Kirk and Spock looked at him in silence, he glared back, bewildered. Then his bewilderment changed to understanding. At the time of the Vulcan station's activity, there had been first contact in 2020. In their own time reality however, it had taken place in 2162. Some time something had happened so that the event in 2020 had not taken place.
"And as soon as we know what had happened when, we'll go there and make it happen", Captain Kirk said.
"Oh! Just go there, will we?"
"Officially", Spock said and his right eyebrow made a slow-motion crawl toward his bang. Nobody could ask more show of emotion of him and the lifted brow tended to express quite a lot of things. "Approved by Admiral McDonald."
"And without knowledge of anybody else", Kirk added. "The three of us, Uhura, Chekov, and Scotty will go. Each in his section adapts the ship so that we need no further crew."
"That will take time", McCoy objected.
"Bones, time really isn't a problem", the Captain grinned, and the Doctor grinned back sourly. "We have to check what it was, we have to learn about that time… Lot of work ahead."
"For God's sake, Jim, where will you search for anything?!"
"Doctor, no need to trouble God", the Vulcan remarked. "According to the First Directive which was significantly furnished by the Vulcans, a first contact is only established with civilizations who work with warp-technology. This means that a long time before Zefram Cochrane started his first warp-flight there must have been experiments in this respect which have been successful enough for technical realization."
"Spock, you should be a mayor somewhere, you do hold such beautiful speeches", McCoy retorted.
Two months passed after this discussion. The Enterprise had been adapted at all stations so that it could be run by three persons. The three others were to go on the Earth-mission and during the mission the Enterprise was to lie in waiting position in the moon shadow. A stay of three days maximum was planned.
Captain Kirk held close contact to Admiral McDonald during the whole preparation phase. Wherever it was necessary to smoothen a way within Star Fleet Command, the Admiral smoothed it. Among other things there had to be an official version of the whereabouts of the Enterprise and McDonald gave it. The ship was to dock for an ionisation cleaning, the crew was to get a holiday. Only the Admiral and a technician whom he trusted absolutely would know what really was happening.
Lt. Spock, who at the same time was Kirk's best friend, never had failed him even if he sometimes objected decisions he did not think logical. In the life of a Vulcan nothing was more important than logic.
Now he had read hundreds of files as thoroughly and diligently as ever, had rummaged archives and had been successful indeed. Between 2004 and 2006 a Scottish scientist had made tests to bring particles of matter and antimatter to controlled reaction, the basis for warp-technology. The papers he had written were most promising, but suddenly there were no more reports, no papers, not the smallest note. There could be no doubt that in the end the tests had failed.
Those crew members who were to go into time warp had the certain feeling that they were going to participate decidedly in this failure. And it was to happen at a place which only Chief Engineer Ltd. Montgomery Scott was able to pronounce without difficulties.
Indeed he had no problem to pronounce their destination, Ballachulish-at-the-Bridge, correctly. Moreover he knew that peaceful little town at Loch Leven, a wonderfully quiet paradise. It probably was exactly the right spot for a kind of madcap scientist named Fergus McTinker to seclude himself.
Finally they could start. Slowly the Enterprise moved out of the dock. Dock-control was only manned by Admiral McDonald himself and the technician he trusted. The landing party had busied themselves with the early years of the 21st century intensively within the last two months. The correct garment was ready, the communicators were formed as something which was called mobile at that time. If the reports were to be relied on, nobody had been able to exist without such a device.
Furthermore they had acquainted themselves with several typical phrases of the time. However, up to now Lt. Spock was not able to address his Captain "Ey, dude!" The two of them and naturally Chief Engineer Scott were to bring off the landing mission. Scotty really looked forward to it. He was a true and convinced Scotsman. Never he had lost his accents and if there was reason to put on gala uniform on board, he proudly wore the kilt in his clan-colours.
By now Earth had shrunken to a tiny spot. The Enterprise left the solar system to get a distance big enough to take up time warp speed towards the sun. Lt. Scott was in Engineering, everybody else was on the bridge. Since leaving the dock they merrily practised the 21st century slang – except Lt. Spock of course. The First Officer's brow was gluing under his bang constantly. He almost looked miffed because he had to listen to something like that. Even Lt. Uhura who was not going to leave the ship could refrain from joining in.
"Woa ey", she just said, "Big Boss is on.”
"That sucks a big one", Kirk retorted with a grin. "Shove him in, chick."
Uhura almost choked but put the Admiral through to the Captain and in the following minutes busied herself with biting her lips not to laugh. Had her skin not been dark, her head would have been red as a beetroot. Admiral and Captain talked business in a friendly way and there really was no reason for Dr. McCoy to comment the good wishes of the Admiral with: "Right phat, ey!"
"Doctor, are you quite certain that this kind of language is used by middle-aged people?" Spock inquired interestedly.
"'course I do, pointear. – D'you think my hamster's waxing?"
Spock gave him a look as if seriously doubting the Doctor's sanity. Silently he repeated "my hamster's waxing" und tried to analyse the meaning of this. He was not prepared to take part in such illogical conversation.
When they prepared for time-warp, everybody returned to normal. The narrow orbitting of the sun carried a considerable risk, especially as they did not have the full engineering crew. But Scotty would not have been Scotty, had he not thought about all possible hazards long before.
With the enormous speed, the tremendous pressure effecting the ship, the crew suffered exceptional stress until they all lost their consciousness. After a while the Captain with a dizzy voice called up every name and each of his officers answered.
"Spock, what about the main screen?"
"Switching it on, Sir."
"Chekov, brake application?"
"Controlled, Sir. – We are in 1983, fast ahead."
Kirk hit the com button the arm of his chair.
"Scotty, did you ride out the time-slip well?"
"Ay, Sir, feelin’ a wee bit boozed but gettin’ better."
"Then switch controls to the bridge and prepare for shore leave.”
In the meantime Chief Med Dr. McCoy rounded the bridge and made a crew-check. He was just scanning Ensign Chekov and glanced at the time indicator. Never he would understand temporal physics, just noted that they had reached the year 2000. They would make it!
A moment later the Captain also ordered his First Officer to prepare for shore leave. The Vulcan looked into his scanner, nodded and turned away. Then he jerked back to the indication, a movement so sudden that the Captain became attentive.
"Sir, an object is approaching us from the surface, uncontrolled. – Life forms on board. The object will collide with us."
"When?" Kirk voice sounded stressed.
"Scotty!" Kirk barked into the com. "Are you somewhere near Transport?"
"Ay, Sir, jist passed it."
"Go back. Get the tractor beam on the object approaching us."
"On my way!"
"The object…" Spock hesitated, then almost shrugged. "It is too fragile, the tractor beam will destroy it. It will break up any moment."
"We'll get the life forms on board. Uhura, inform Scott. Spock and I are in Transporting."
They had already left the bridge when Ensign Chekov succeeded to focus the cameras on the object. He, Uhura, and McCoy goggled at the main screen unbelievingly. The thing had about the form of an ancient rocket and where atmospheric friction had not marred it, it showed funny rings in red, blue, and yellow. Nobody had the faintest idea what that was to be but Lt. Uhura started sniggering.
In the transporter room Lt. Scott pressed keys like mad, scanned and scanned again. He did not catch what he had in the buffer. There were twelve single life forms, very small, and that was all he could say. He still could not say more when Kirk and Spock came in.
Some creatures appeared on the transporter platform towering the floor only a little bit. They sat completely motionless, a heap of ruffled fur. Kirk stared, then he asked in a bewildered voice:
"What is that? Are that tribbles?!"
Tribbles were the most reproductive species they ever met and once they had spread on the Enterprise in a way that some still thought with horror of the time.
"Captain, if my knowledge…" Spock paused as now Dr. McCoy entered and also stared. "If my knowledge on terrestrial zoology is correct, these are mesocricetis auratus."
"Hum?" Kirk grunted.
"Golden hamsters", McCoy explained in a rather flabberghasted voice.
"And… and… and how do they get here?!"
What the hamsters had gone through within the last minutes, had been far more than panic, it had been a Grade A shock. However, now they by and by realized that they really were no longer hurled about, really had no longer to choke on the heat, really were sitting stabile and really heard human voices.
Goldi cautiously turned his head and saw that they were at some place like they never had seen before. Some men were standing around, dressed up funny and all in the same way funny. One of these guys had somehow pointed ears and he never had seen anything like that with humans. Now pointear said:
"I cannot explain, Sir. Mesocricetis auratus are to my knowledge not known to travel space."
"Mega crispies or what does he blab there?" Goldi asked around, und also the others now plucked themselves up, smoothened their fur and looked about them.
"Where did we land here?" Flecki asked.
Goldi still watched the four guys and suddenly saw them make them utmost daft faces. One of them, standing behind a control or something, waved his hands und shouted:
"Captain, Captain, t’ universal translator…"
"I'm not deaf, Mr. Scott! – Er, yes… Well, my dear hamsters, welcome on board I think", Kirk grinned and knelt down. "I do not really know what to do with you now…"
"How about some food and spoiling?" Goldi hopefully asked.
Lt. Scott began to laugh. "They're talking backwards, d'ye hear? Och, ay, really backwards!" He snickered and snickered until also the Captain und Dr. McCoy began to laugh.
"Och, ay?" Hamstilidamst repeated. "Is that a Scotsman?!"
"And if so, is it a Frido-Scotsman or a Lord-Scotsman?" Tealeafy asked.
"And why do they laugh that daftly?" Trample wanted to know.
"Well, dear officers and, hum, dinguscrew, I think I can say that the time has come…", the mayor began, then a shower met him and another one.
Pointear sneezed and while the others could not stop laughing, Lt. Spock could not stop sneezing.
Under the tremendous pressure during time warp at some spots in the ship material fissures had occurred. With the whole crew on board such damages would have been noticed and repaired immediately. But now nobody had noticed the leak in one of the cryogenic lines. It contained nitrous oxide which on emission became gaseous again and was distributed over the ventilation within the ship.
It was not enough to have an anaestesia effect but enough to set all humans into a hilarious state. They giggled, laughed, found the smallest details very funny and in all were filled with a feeling of lightheartedness. With good reason nitrous oxide was called laughing gas.
The effect on the Vulcan was quite different. His mucous membranes were irritated by the gas and extreme lethargy spread within him. After a certain time everybody became used to the gas, the humans stopped laughing, the Vulcan stopped sneezing, but the general good spirits remained.
On the hamsters the gas had no effect whatever, they only got the impression that they had landed in some madhouse or other. More or less in chorus they explained how they had come here and the three humans roared with laughter. The hamsters did not think it very much of a laughing matter.
When Kirk explained to them where they were – in a tone as if making light of it – they did not believe one word. Space ship from the future – what kind of balderdash was that!
"Ha!" the Captain ejaculated. "That's no problem, I can prove that to you on the double. You wanna have proved it or don't you wannna have proved it?"
"If he only would stop to blabber such trash!" Goldi groaned. "Eh, Botchy, what that guy's telling – might that be true?"
"Well, yes, there are space ships", Botchy replied importantly and Tuffy snapped:
"And there is a future, quite right!”
"The acceleration of our turbo-pegtop obviously hurled us into space."
"But I don't want to be in space", Hamstilidamst wailed.
"I'm sure we are all dead and don't know it", Dodo whimpered.
Dodo looked at Flecki with big, sad eyes und replied: "Because there is no air in space…"
"I would like to see how such a space ship works", chief Botchy stated, not commenting that nonsense.
"There's help for this hamster!" the Captain roared. "We have to go down to Earth anyway. Then we'll take you little pet along and the others get the chance to take a good look. What about that chance?"
A delighted chorus answered him, only Spock could not rid himself of the feeling that on the whole something was not as it should be. However, it was not that important and when he saw that Captain Kirk picked up some hamsters to carry them to the bridge, he did the same.
Silently the hamsters had looked about them when being carried through the space ship. It looked totally different from everything they knew. Perhaps this Captain Kirk was not as balmy as they thought, after all. But really convinced they were when they entered the bridge. Something like a giant window was there and in front of the window some red-blue-yellow ringed debris was drifting, without any question their turbo-pegtop.
"Oh, how cute!" a female voice squeaked so close to Sasy's ear, that she started. "Woo, may I pet them? They are such darlings!"
"We don't want to be petted, we are hungry!" Goldi gnarled and let his paw circle over his belly. Lt. Uhura made eyes like saucers.
"Woa, you darlings can talk! You're hungry? I'll get you a little something, don't run away."
"My, they've got room service here", Goldi exclaimed and all hamsters nodded delightedly.
Suddenly they became quiet. Ensign Chekov had merrily played from one camera to the next and now switched Earth on the main screen. That really looked somehow overwhelming. The silence held until Uhura came back with a big bowl of biscuits, after that nothing else was interesting.
Everybody watched the munching hamsters and everybody thought them to be twee and cute and a lot of other things which quite yanked the little munchers’ chain.
"Crewmen, now we are strengthened ", the mayor-commander declared, posturing himself. "We lost a whip – er, a ship, but we also gained a ship. Go to your stallions – er – stations."
"Railway station?" Dodo frightendly asked and looked for some hiding place.
"I told you what your stations are!" the mayor shouted, infuriated. "Take them over. Make under – er, take over your stations or… Well, hum, I'm waiting for proposals!"
"Well he may", Flecki whispered. "Come on, let's take a look around."
Tuffy scrambled up to Chekov, sat down on a button and set off alert red. A terrible howling sounded all over the ship and the navigator of the Enterprise almost collapsed of laughing. Taty and Sasy paid a visit to Uhura's station and discovered that jumping on the control keys was the perfect fitness training. Trample proved himself as a real summiteer, climbed up to the science station, put his head into the scanner slit and got stuck there.
Captain Kirk was sitting cross-legged on the floor and grinned at Goldi:
"Say, what sort of cockalorum is that one?"
"That's our mayor. Now and then he hits his nob and after that he babbles trash."
"The mayor!" Dr. McCoy crowed. "Spock, I beg your pardon. When I wanted to make you a mayor I didn't think of anything like that."
"Nobody thinks of anything like that as a mayor", Goldi grumbled.
Some faint "Pleh, pleh!"-shouts were audible, then the Vulcan was there and plucked Trample out of the scanner slit.
Captain Kirk had the impression that the hamsters were having a good time here, furthermore he had the impression that he should go to the Earth to make the first warp-tests fail. With a broad grin Lt. Scott thrust a fist into the air.
"Ay, Sir, t’wards Scotland!"
"Scotland?!" came a twelvefold echo, then all the hamsters talked at the same time so that the universal translator could not follow up.
Finally the mayor cleared his throat for quite some time.
"The Veganic system, dear dusty scouts – er - astronauts, will supply us with the trillirium to rescue the words – er – the world. We don’t have Scotland in mind. We all had space in Scotland… I mean stays. What I mean is…"
"What he means is", Goldi impatiently interrupted, "we've often been to Scotland and now would like to do some spaceshipping. That okay with you?"
"I do not want to do any spaceshipping", Hamstilidamst objected.
"So you go and show Scotland to the dusty scouts", Botchy impatiently said. "As it is, you know Scotland liked the back of your paw."
"That wasn't Hamstilidamst, that was the Lordship", Trample remarked who by now was sitting on Ensign Chekov's head.
"But I have Scottish ancestors!"
"O, do you!" Flecki hissed for she really had her fill of that sentence.
"And I would like to stay with these cute little guys", Uhura announced. "Who else?"
"I'll fly us to the moon", Chekov heralded and Trample got such a shock that he crashed to the floor.
"No", he moaned. "Not again! Last time it took weeks until my fur was what it should be!"
"Hey, you travel space?!" Chekov was baffled.
Trample was quiet but Flecki angrily said:
"It's just been good luck that we are still here. If I think of certain dumbos who almost…"
"Hum hum, dear friends, perhaps this is not the dingus – er – time to explain all this. My, friends, let's conquer the universe!"
Only Hamstilidamst did not waver. For the first time in his life he should do something really big and important – guide some astronauts through Scotland. He did not want to miss that chance.
Captain Kirk, Lt. Spock, Lt. Scott, and Dr. McCoy made for their quarters to put on clothes fitting the years of the early 21st century. Somehow nobody noticed that the Doctor was with them who should not be with them at all.
They merrily assembled in the transporter room. The Chief Engineer who brought along some of the hamsters, and Ensign Chekov demonstrated to Botchy what to do with which lever to beam something. Botchy was enthusiastic and planned to try this himself later on. Four officers stood on the transporting platform and waved, Chekov guided Botchy's paw and a moment later the humans and Hamstilidamst vanished in a bright glitter. They simply were gone! Flecki and Tuffy who came along with Botchy and were sitting on the switch desk, craned their necks so much that they lost their balance and tumbled down to the floor.
The fate of the Enterprise lay in the hands and paws of eleven hamsters and two fleet officers who were not able to think very reasonably.