THE HUMAN FACTOR
((This is set in an alternate universe of my own making where the dominant empire is that of the Ensovaari, a technologically advanced matriarchy. They have been at war with the invading Ctherin for some years. The Daleks were conquered by the Ensovaari thousands of years before and are semi-autonomous subjects with their own empire. The Enterprise was thrown into this reality by a temporal disturbance and was placed with its crew in the Male Auxiliaries where the troops of the few patriarchies in the Ensovaari Empire serve. Stories about the Enterprise, the Ensovaari and so on all appeared in my fiction zine Multiverse published from 1979 to 1999. This story was originally written in the 1970s but was re-written with slightly different characters for Multiverse #20 (Feb. 1989))
Kirk sank back in his command chair, feeling pleased with himself. For some months now the Enterprise had been pretty much left to its own devices as the Ctherin seemed to have withdrawn from the sector. The Enterprise had been free to take advantage of the lull to carry out its original mission of exploration. Unfortunately, the price for that was his new crew, two members of the Male Auxiliaries who happened to be ninja, 18th century ninja at that: Kongo of Koga and his brother, Fuma Kotaro who tended to creep around, materialising in the oddest of places. Even to the normally affable Sulu, who might have had something in common with them if only nationality, they were relics of a remote andrather dark side of Japanese history, when the country was cut off from the outside world. Kirk's ruminations were interrupted by that very Sulu.
"Captain, large astral body dead ahead. A star, magnitude 8, with three satellites."
"Let's take a look, Mr Sulu. We might as well investigate it since it's right in our path. And we need as full a report as possible on this universe possible.
"Yes sir." He pushed several buttons and answered, "This star system's coordinates correspond exactly with Alpha Voldundae in our universe."
"Thank you. At least we have a tentative name."
"Little is known about the Voldundan system. It is on the remote arm of the galaxy, near the borders of the Romulan Empire."
"Start scanning, Mr Sulu."
The screen switched from a huge boiling reddish sun to a schematic of the three worlds.
"Alpha Voldundae I," Sulu announced as a close-up appeared of the shrunken dwarf closest to the sun. "Class C planet. Mass .56 of Earth's. No life readings of any kind. No surface water. Desert only, swept by intense gusts of hot wind. Average surface temperature 215 degrees Fahrenheit. Alpha Voldundae II. Class K planet…" Sulu continued to read off the data of another unpromising planet then said, "Alpha Voldundae III, Class M planet."
The screen showed a bluish green mass with red patches. This time Spock read off the data from his station. "Conditions approximate Earth's except for higher average temperature. The land masses are largely covered in jungle. There are two deserts in the southern continents. Excluding animal life signs which are massed in the jungle regions, there is a power source at these coordinates and some rather ambiguous life-sign readings.."
"’Ambiguous’, Mr Spock? Let’s take a look. We'll beam down near that power source you mentioned. Mr.Sulu, assume standard orbit over its coordinates."
The screen now showed a jungle of sorts terminating on the edge of a desert. "Mr Scott, you have the con. Mr Spock, Dr McCoy and I will beam down. Uhura, have those two ninja brothers report to the transporter. This'll be pretty routine and they may as well get the experience if they are to be fully integrated into the Security teams," he added, by way of explanation to McCoy as they left the bridge.
In the transporter room, the two brothers were already on the pads and Kyle was explaining the procedure to them. The three senior officers assumed their places.
"Energise," Kirk commanded.
"Sayonara," said Kotaro, bowing.
They materialised on the edge of the jungle. Spock scanned the ara with his tricorder. Kongo and Kotaro, complete anachronisms in their feudal Japanese dress, glanced around them cautiously, eyes narrowed, hands resting, half-curled near the hilts of their swords. Kirk thought they looked more as if they were expecting an ambush from a party of shogunate soldiers than people exploring an alien planet. The air was hot and humid and behind them in the jungle came the raucous cries of large, brightly coloured birds.
Suddenly, a harsh voice behind them barked, "Halt, or you will be exterminated!"
Kirk turned around to see a metal cone-shaped object gliding towards them. It was about 5 ½ feet tall and looked for all the world like an old-fashioned 20th century salt-cellar made of metal with raised round discs on its lower flanges. From its front projected three rods. The one on its head contained a round ‘eye’ complete with expanding and contracting iris.The two on its main body were of unequal lengths, the longer one ending in a rubber suction pad while the shorter was transparent and ended with a nozzle. There were two small flashing lights on either side of its head region and its overall colour was silver except for the hemispheres on its lower body which were blue.
Kongo's eyes narrowed again. There was a click as he released the catch on his sword.
The creature looked them over, swivelling its eyestick from left to right and up and down. Then it spoke. The ninja were quite astonished, their jaws dropping a good few inches away from the rest of their faces., "What are you doing here?" it grated in a mechanical staccato monotone.
"We should have brought Scotty. It's a damned machine," McCoy muttered.
"I. am Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. We are on a peaceful mission of exploration in this part of the galaxy. What are you?"
"Incorrect. You are only human males!"
"Humph! I like that!" exclaimed McCoy whose ears had not missed the masculine timbre of the machine-creature’s voice. "Definitely programmed by the Ensovaari!"
"Humanoid males do not have spaceflight capability. Therefore you have stolen the ship you came in or you have escaped from it. You will follow me to the base for interrogation."
"Look, if you are an Ensovaari servo-robot..." Kirk began.
There was a hissing sound from the metallic creature. Kirk had a feeling he'd committed a faux-pas like calling a citizen of the United African States 'boy' or 'nigger’.
"No one programs us. No one controls us. We are," was all it said. "Move! Move!"
It slid up to Kirk and prodded him firmly with its suction pad tipped arm. Kirk decided to take the hint and do just that.
"It's a beautifully made piece of machinery," Spock remarked as they followed the automaton. "I've taken tricorder readings of it ever since it appeared. It is extremely advanced and highly intelligent. Its body is made of some polycarbide substance unknown to our technology ... Quite remarkable."
"You would think so, Spock," McCoy put. in. "As we said before, you've been waiting for the right computer to come along and now you’ve found it. And unlike the M-5, this one walks as well as talks."
Spock ignored him.
By now they had reached a small circular metal structure about fifteen minute’s walk into the desert. They were led inside and into a lift in which they plummeted rapidly. At last they emerged on a long winding corridor punctuated every now and then by low, round archways. They walked in silence, broken only by the clatter of Kongo's geta on the metal floors. Kotaro, wearing straw sandals, moved silently like their captor.
Finally they were herded into a large room flanked with bank upon bank of elaborate computer equipment. Spock's eyes seemed to shine. He looked around with interest. There were more of the machine-creatures inside, each at its station. Most were silver with black or blue hemispheres like their escort, but there was one taller than the rest standing in the centre of the room, apparently supervising matters. It was black with gold hemispheres on its lower body and a gold dome.
They were led to it and several of the other creatures arrived to inspect them. Their phasers, communicators and tricorders were removed. However, the swords of the Japanese were left alone, presumably as too primitive to do any real damage. Kirk didn't want a fight at this point as they were outnumbered and he had a shrewd suspicion that the shorter projecting rods were guns since only the longer rod was ever used in the machines’ work as far as he could see.
He pulled himself together and announced, "I am Captain James T. Kirk of the United Star Ship Enterprise. We come in peace and will go likewise if you let us."
There was a pause. Then the black and gold machine said, "What does the ‘T' stand for?"
Kirk was rather taken aback. In over five years of announcing his identity, no one, alien or human, hostile or friendly, had ever asked him that. He looked sheepish and mumbled, "Tiberius." Then he added, "This is my First Officer, Mr Spock and my Chief Medical Officer, Dr Leonard McCoy."
"Fuma Kotaro Kaneyoshi, Fuma ninja no kashira de gozainiasu ga--Anata wa?"
"Wareware Dalek-zoku de gozaimasu ga...."
"Hajime ome ni kakarimasu."
"Impressive. Programmed for multiple languages," Kirk murmured to Spock.
"Or possibly they have a built-in universal translator, Captain."
"I wish I had one," McCoy complained. "Reminds me of being at a foreign film festival and looking for the subtitles."
The Japanese ,on the other hand, didn't seem very surprised or impressed the Dalek spoke their language. After all, didn't every civilised being?
"Who are you?" Kirk repeated his question from outside.
"We are the Daleks," the black and gold creature announced as if he ought to have known. "I am a Dalek Supreme."
"Sounds like something foreign to eat," Kongo muttered. "Chicken Supreme or something --- uggh!"
Nonetheless, both he and Kotaro bowed somewhat more profoundly.
"What are you doing here? This is a Dalek base and of no concern to Male Auxiliaries."
"Dalek base?" Kirk queried. "We are on a peaceful mission of exploration and came to investigate an anomalous power source…:
"Kerlak is a Dalek research base. It......
"Never mind the Daleks," interrupted McCoy. It was the first time he'd encountered machines so patently on an ego-trip as these. "Where are your controllers, the people who built you?"
"Dead," said the Dalek Supreme flatly. "They died many thousands of years ago. We do not need them. We are self-perpetuating, self-reliant..."
"And self-opinionated!" McCoy finished.
"You are very impolite now," Kotaro reproved mildly. "We are guests in foreign country. We must not be so hasty to criticise." He turned to the Dalek Supreme and, with a slightly deprecating smile, bowed again and said, "Sumimasen."
Kirk smiled to himself. It looked as if McCoy had found a group even more worthy of needling than Spock. As for the master Fuma ninja, his very Japanese attempt at compromise and politeness seemed incongruous in such surroundings.
"Point taken, Mr Fuma," he said with a quelling glance at McCoy. No point antagonising what increasingly appeared to be a very touchy race of robots. "As I told your subordinate, we were exploring this sector. We're attached to the Male Auxiliaries of the Ensovaari Empire at present. We mean you no harm. Our enemy are the Ctherin."
"Ensovaari? Ensovaari?" the Dalek Supreme queried, rolling forward, almost pushing Kirk into a console. "You are not Ensovaari. You are only males."
Not again - my luck to fall in with a bunch of sexist robots, Kirk thought.
"Nor are you Korghizite or Draconian. You must be rimworlders sent as decoys. You will be exterminated!"
"Wait!" Kirk was thoroughly confused. These things knew the Ensovaari, knew the Draconians and Korghizites. Then he had it. "I remember now. I've seen a machine like you once or twice at Ensovaari gatherings. Kor described it as a type of cybernetic tank used by the Ensovaari. It had a name - Symenarlek."
"Dalek Supreme Symenarlek is off planet in service with the Ensovaari Space Corps - that is correct." The Dalek Supreme paused to digest this new datum: that these aliens might possibly be a new type of Auxiliary. Then it said, "On my command, you will go to the detention area. You will be interrogated later."
"Reminds me of a samurai in the service of Lord Mizuno," Kongo commented under his breath. "All stiff manners and spit and polish."
"Look more like dotaku - ancient bronze temple bell," Kotaro sniffed. "But then even one-inch worm have half-inch spirit. No underestimate enemy," he added as a gloss for Kirk's benefit.
Kongo added, "Neither despise an enemy because he is weak nor fear him because he is strong."
Kirk sighed. First capture by these single-minded machines and now he had to put up with A Child's Garden of Japanese Proverbs. Kotaro and his brother were two of a kind in trotting out some obscure pearl of Japanese wisdom. This seemed to be one of the few things they had in common apart from a strong family resemblance as Kongo seemed to enjoy needling his older brother.
The Dalek paused before a door and waved its arm before a sensor plate on one side. The door slid open, moving upwards into the archway, and they were pushed into the room beyond. The door closed behind them. The room was hexagonal and bare of any furnishing except a bench running along one wall. Kongo darted quickly around the circumference of the room, checking for any weakness or possible means of escape. Finding none, he put his hands in his sleeves and sat down on the floor with his feet tucked under him. Suddenly he looked up into a corner of the room and saw a cluster of lenses on a pod set in the wall..
"We have a shadow," he said grimly, "Ha! They think to spy on a master ninja. Even as I sit here I could eavesdrop on them. Should have use the blinding snow trick back at the desert’s edge and escaped.."
Kotaro, after sparing the spy camera a scornful glance, subsided cross-legged, on the floor next to his brother, his, purple and gold jinbaori forming a sharp contrast with his stark surroundings. "Hmm. Kabe ni mimi ari shoji ni mo ari,", he commented. He closed his eyes in a light doze. The three officers from the Enterprise' sat on the bench.
An hour passed with nothing very startling happening "Well, we can't just sit here until it pleases the--er--Daleks to see us again," McCoy grumbled.
"I know, Bones, but....
Kotaro stretched. "Ahhh. It is age since I ate."
"Why don't you call room service?" McCoy said sarcastically, earning a piercing, black-eyed stare from the master ninja that made him wish he was somewhere less dangerous, like walking down a street in the capital of the Klingon Empire. No doubt about it, 18th century Japanese were an off-putting lot.
Apparently deciding there was some merit in the doctor's flippant suggestion, Kotaro went to the door and rapped on it with his sword-hilt. "Oi, Dalek! Attend please!"
Kotaro repeated his imperious summons. Kirk wondered about those reports he'd read which claimed the ninja were the lowest on the social scale, belonging with the outcastes. Kotaro and his brother comported themselves more like lords. He doubted even the Emperor of Japan had more kingly dignity than those two when they so chose.
"It appears Dalek not in attendance. Quite lax," Kotaro said. "However, is more than one entrance to a room." He walked rapidly back and placed himself directly before the camera eye. He bowed slightly, " O-Dalek-sama, washi wa onegai shimasu."
Kongo's eyebrows rose at the honorifics fore and aft of the word ‘Dalek' "August Sir Dalek". Obviously his brother assumed that the Dalek Supreme was at the other end of the surveillance camera, a not unreasonable supposition in his view. Kotaro then went on to make a rather flowery request for food on the grounds that they would die if not fed, his level of language that of a samurai speaking to a feudal lord, not necessarily his own.
Time passed. "I have some rice and other things," Kongo said. "Ask them for a hibachi. At least. If they are machines they may not eat and so we embarrass them by asking for something they don't have."
Somehow Kirk had the impression that Daleks didn't embarrass easily.
"We are aware of your intelligence system and that you are monitoring us from some central point. Therefore, we would use this means to request you bring us some food and water or else we will cease to exist," Spock stated, also approaching the camera.
"They don't seem to be taking much notice of us," McCoy observed. "Neither Japanese courtesy nor Vulcan reason has had much effect."
"It could become inconvenient if they fail to realise we must eat," Kongo observed, leaving Kirk to marvel at Japanese understatement.
"I will get attention," Kotaro stated, jumping to his feet. "Foreigners cannot abide music of my country..."
"Shame we don’t have a full gagaku orchestra, then," Kongo muttered.
"Also not comprehend no drama…"
"Neither do most Japanese," was Kongo’s tart aside, "given that the language is three hundred years old even in our time."
Ignoring him, Kotaro removed a long black scarf from his clothing and draped it loosely about his head and began to declaim in a curious sing-song manner while moving slowly with stylised gestures. Kongo, recognising the play Aoi no Ue assumed the role of the shaman to Kotaro’s Lady Rokujo.
Meantime, the Dalek monitoring the security room in Sector 4A was getting quite a show. Obviously two of the humans were having a seizure of some sort. So intrigued was it that it signalled others to observe. By the time the Dalek Supreme had returned from a brindigulum, a conference, there was a cluster of Daleks around the scanner, staring at this unprecedented and aberrant behaviour on the part of the prisoners.
"Are they ill?" one wanted to know.
"Perhaps they have some contagious disease..."
The Dalek Supreme pushed its way to the scanner. McCoy had joined in singing "Dalek, can you spare a pie" to the tune of Brother Can You Spare A Dime and accompanying himself by banging out the rhythm with one of Kongo's geta, thus confirming Spock's long held suspicion that his training had been derived from witch-doctors. The Dalek Supreme observed the extraordinary scene, then demanded, "When did this start?"
"Shortly after a request for food was made," the Dalek who had been monitoring the room replied.
"Then feed them and this will cease. They may be of value so they are to be preserved - for now."
Shortly after ,the door to the security room opened. The occupants were sitting in a circle discussing the origin of no and moving on to folk dances in general. Spock was in the middle of a disquisition on pre-Reform Vulcan dances. The Dalek stood there with a tray across its arms and waited. The humans went on with their conversation.
"New Year's always a good time. Despite the cold, everyone comes out and dances in the street. Bit like O-Bon only that’s in summer - the Lantern Festival or Festival of the Dead," Kongo remarked when Spock finished.
"Why are you dancing at a festival of the dead? Surely you're not dancing on people's graves?" McCoy mused, feeling this was not quite right, not the done thing, but given the vengeful nature of the two ninja he did wonder.
"Well, actually, no. We set out lanterns to guide the spirits of our dead home and dance to welcome them. That's the theory at least, anyway."
Still the Dalek waited.
"The Romans had a similar festival - Lemuria, only they feared their dead so activities were designed to propitiate the spirits of the dear departed. I'm not surprised, given the way they poisoned each other. Leaping off Kiyomizudera would be safer than dining with some of those old Roman nobles."
The Dalek rolled right up to the group so it was almost over the skirt of Kotaro’s jinbaori. "Take the food," it barked.
Everyone turned around and stared.
"Well, about time," McCoy muttered.
With a swift movement, Kotaro was on his feet, took the tray from the Dalek, bowing low from the waist as he did so. "Gochiso sama de," he said.
The Dalek looked at him for a moment before gliding away and the door slide shut behind it. Kongo peered at the tray. Nothing was recognisable and all was the most extraordinary hues. "What's this?" he asked, putting his finger in one of the containers which had some bright blue substance in it and tasting it. "Hmm, needs more soy sauce," was his verdict.
He produced his rice from a pouch in his obi and served it into each of the containers and thus managed to make quite a palatable meal. He had also brought chopsticks with which they could eat without soiling their hands (unless they were just inept like McCoy), as the Daleks didn't seem to have heard of cutlery.
"When Dalek return, we ambush," Kotaro declared in a low whisper. "Take prisoner..."
"Now, why's it going to come back? Feeding time's over," McCoy growled. He knew Kotaro was newer to space compared with his brother but it would be nice if just once he'd remember he wasn't in feudal Japan.
"Because remove dirty dishes," Kotaro explained patiently as if talking to a retarded child.
McCoy groaned. "Look, not everyone is as neat and tidy as the Japanese. The Daleks mightn't bother..."
Kirk had a vivid mental picture of a Dalek in a frilly pinafore standing in front of a sink with dishes piled high and soap bubbles heaped within. "They've probably got something automatic, they..."
Kotaro snorted in disgust and pushed the tray delicately into a corner with the tart comment, "Barbarians! Typical!"
Just then the door opened and a Dalek came in with a large bucket. "Where there is intake there must be output," it announced, placing the bucket on the floor.
"Rather clinically put but essentially correct, "Spock commented.
"Sumimasen?" Kotaro asked, not having yet quite mastered technical English.
The Dalek pointed to the bucket and said, "'Kore wa benjo desu."
The ninja brothers looked a little pained at the rather blunt language. "Semmenjo or o-tearai would be better," Kongo commented softly.
The Dalek’s hearing was acute. "Why? You do not wash your face or your face in that. That is not its purpose."
"Yes, but it isn’t very polite to use such an - unvarnished term as benjo."
"Why not?" Were all aliens as thick as Daleks, Kongo wondered. He sighed. "We use euphemisms in polite society."
There was a pause. " We have encountered this difficulty with your language before. Elements of it are untranslatable which is why there was a delay in processing your first request. If there is no such concept or idea in our language it cannot be translated. What does gochiso sama de mean?"
"It cannot be literally translated, "Kongo explained. "It is said when one has been offered hospitality by another and been given food. It is a polite form."
"Which is whyit can't be translated into Dalek speech," McCoy interrupted. "Because (1) Daleks don't eat and (2) Daleks aren't polite."
Kotaro added, "When person say 'Gochiso sama de' it is customary for other person to say ‘Do itashimashite’ which mean 'Not at all'"
Obviously this lesson in Japanese courtesy wasn't getting very far with the Dalek.
"It is custom."
Kotaro scowled at the machine creature in disgust and muttered, "Baka!"
As before, nothing escaped the Dalek's hearing. "What?" it grated.
No one answered..
The Dalek repeated its question, its tone becoming sharper and more querulous. Finally Kotaro said, "It is impolite Japanese. Means ‘stupid'."
The Dalek swung around to face him. The Fuma ninja had more guts than brains it seemed to Kirk. "You will not insult the Daleks."
Then it fired. A blinding flash lit the room but somehow Kotaro seemed not to be there where he had been and the charge struck the wall, scorching it. It was almost as if the ninja had sidestepped the blast using some sixth sense to evade it at the precise right moment and with superhuman speed. The Dalek turned and fired again. Again the blast blistered a wall. Kotaro was clinging to the ceiling near the surveillance camera. Bringing up its gunstick the Dalek fired yet again but Kotaro sailed clear over its head to land behind it. "Do not resist. Inferior beings will obey the Daleks and be still."
"May be inferior but am not stupid," Kotaro muttered.
"You all will remain here," the Dalek said, training its weapon on the group who had gathered around Kotaro. "You will be questioned soon."
Obviously knowing when to give up, it withdrew.
"I think it's high time we thought about out. It's obvious they're hostile. They just can't keep us here. I'm going to try talking to their leader over the security pickup," Kirk announced and walked to the camera, glancing at Kotaro with a new respect. The ninja’s reflexes were almost superhuman – he knew he couldn't have evaded the Dalek's fire like that. He doubted even Spock could have.
"I agree," Kongo said, joining him. "Too long we have sat here. It is not our way to do nothing, caught like rats in a trap, unless it is to our advantage to be caught."
"Younger brother is referring to time committed series of petty offences so arrested and put in top security jail at Denmacho in order to arrange mass breakout of hardened criminals. Such a jail never hold him otherwise," Kotaro explained.
Deciding it better not to enquire further into the ninja’s murky past, Kirk walked closer to the camera. "Daleks! I don't know why you're keeping us here or what you want from us. I assure you we mean you no harm" (In view of recent experiences this seemed a bit lame, but Kirk persevered),"If you let us go, we will return to our ship and leave." He paused. At that instant the door opened and the Dalek came in again. "You!" it pointed at Kirk. "Come with me. And you." It turned to McCoy.
There seemed little point in doing otherwise and so they followed it out and down the maze of corridors to a small room filled with computer equipment and dominated by a large screen. The only occupants were a Red Dalek and the Dalek Supreme The screen showed the Enterprise against a starry sky. The Dalek Supreme swung to face the two humans. "The Red Dalek scientists have informed me they ran a probe on your ship and its computers when you entered the system. We know your identity, your mission. We have also scanned your logs and know what type of man you are, James Kirk," it said. "Brave, resourceful - a leader of your kind..."
"You didn't bring me here to compliment me," Kirk cut in. "That isn't your line. So let's have at it. I want to go back to my ship and you want to keep me prisoner. Why?"
"We have a use for you. You were deliberately captured otherwise you would not have even made planetfall. Your records indicate a high degree of lateral thinking and unpredictability in your problem-solving techniques. These are elements lacking in Dalek mentality."
"Oh-ho. So you are not the paragons you claim You do have some failings after all," McCoy remarked tartly.
There was a pause, then the Dalek Supreme continued, "In expanding into the next galaxy away from the Ensovaari Empire, we encountered a race of robots, the Movellans. Because both sides use pure logic in our battle computers, we have been locked in stalemate for decades."
"Well, why don't you get your girlfriends to bail you out?" McCoy asked.
"Girlfriends? Your question has no meaning."
"The Ensovaari have committed their resources to the Ctherin Incursion. We do not require their help. This is a matter for the Daleks alone. The Daleks fight their own wars." Was there a trace of wounded pride in the creature's staccato tones.
"If you think you can appropriate my ship for your wars..." Kirk began.
The Dalek cut him off. "We do not require your primitive vessel. We require you, James Kirk."
The Red Dalek scientist spoke for the first time, "We will interrogate you humans separately to see which are the most suitable should the first subject prove unsuitable. There is much to be learned from you, the mutant with the pointed ears is an interesting variant. All but the Japanese represent new races not native to this reality. Had we a temporal physicist on base, you would be studied more extensively."
The two Daleks one Black, one Red, glided along the corridors into the holding cell, the door of which opened in response to a wave of an ebon arm from the Black Dalek. "You! Move!" the Red Dalek commanded indicating Spock. Spock rose to his feet and followed the Dalek out.
The Black Dalek collected the pair of Japanese and pushed them into the corridor. They took a lift that plunged further into the depths of the base, then walked along corridor after corridor until they were pushed into a huge room whose chief feature was a huge golden Dalek. They noticed nothing else in the room beyond just one console and one screen.
"The Dalek Emperor is on an inspection tour and wishes to interrogate you himself," the Black Dalek intoned withdrawing to just in front of the door.
The two Japanese looked at each other a moment and then went down on their knees, prostrating themselves and remained with their faces pressed against the backs of their hands flat on the floor. After all, an emperor was an emperor even if this was an overly intelligent machine.
"Who are you?" the Dalek Emperor boomed.
Both Kotaro and Kongo, as members of their country's outcastes, and coming from a time when the average citizen didn’t give a button about the emperor, closeted as he was in far Kyoto and very much Somebody Else’s Problem, had little idea of how actually to address an emperor. Nonetheless,they intended to give it their best shot.
Kotaro introduced them both, speaking as the elder (Kongo, deciding for once he was too humble to utter a word). At the same time, his speech mode ascended several levels into the most honorific form the Japanese language was capable of as he kept his head bowed.
Both Daleks' translators immediately went into overload trying to cope with the honorific prefixes suffixes, passive potential verb forms and indirect mode of address. Then when the resulting screech subsided, they were astonished when the translators cut into Old High Daal, the ancient language of the Kaleds and the only one capable of a handling Japanese at its most elevated.
"Where do you come from?" the Dalek Emperor enquired.
"The wholly undistinguished place of birth for this superfluous one was a farmhouse near the Ashigara Pass while this one's stupid younger brother was born in Odawara."
"Elucidate. Your place of origin needs to be related to a larger background."
"Ah so," Kotaro replied, still keeping his head bowed. Custom dictated that no one, unless of very exalted court rank indeed, could look at the Emperor's face. "Ashigara is in the Hakone Mountains, not too far from Odawara. Odawara is a post town in Sagami Province on the Tokaido, the main highway from Edo to the Capital."
There was a pause as the Daleks appeared to be waiting for him to continue his ‘elucidation' but Kotaro had finished, obviously deciding this was sufficient information for any civilised being to identify his origins. Kongo, having mixed somewhat more with foreigners, realised something more was required. "We come from Japan, Your Imperial Majesty."
The Black Dalek fed this information into a console. "An archipelago off the coast of the Asian landmass, on the planets Ensovaar and Heliya. Known variously as Nihon, Nippon, Jih-pen, Zipangu, Cipangu or Yamato."
"You are from Ensovaar or Heliya. Which? Speak."
"Why are you here?"
"To escape the shogun's men, to cut a long story short," Kongo answered, speaking directly to the Emperor for the first time.
"Shogun? what is that? Explain?"
"This is a trifling affair of little concern," Kotaro interrupted. "We are in space to receive training in order to combat the unpresentable Ctherin."
"Your accounts do not accord."
"Kowtowing before lambent wisdom of Dalek Emperor, this superfluous one would point out respectfully, that unworthy younger brother was referring to events earlier pertaining to himself only."
Kongo arched an eyebrow at his brother. After all, Kotaro, too, had had his share of shogunal entanglements.
"You were the one who had it on his toes to Azim Badfu, after nearly getting yourself blown up at Jigokudani!"
"And had I not, we would be a million gold pieces poorer!"
"A million gold pieces I haven’t exactly seen…"
"What do you suppose bought us the mansion on the Clivus Victoriae?"
"Enough!" the Dalek Emperor interposed wishing to return the interrogation to its original course - it was disconcerting the way it tended to drift away with these particular prisoners – and asked, "What is shogun?"
"Shogun means 'general' but refers to a sort of military dictator. We've had them before and I suppose we'll have them again. The current lot came to power after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Tokugawa family. Anyway, the tiresome child who is the current shogun - the 11th - decided to send his doltish half-brother after me," Kongo explained.
"Because I was working for a man whose family doesn't favour the present government. I'm not so keen on it myself, mainly because there is less work for warriors like myself, unless you happen to be part of the shogun's network..."
"You are a mercenary?"
"In a sense, yes. But my kind have long and extensive training in all the martial arts so we're not just any mercenaries."
The Daleks seemed interested but the Emperor only said, "Continue."
"So Akikusa Shintaro and that 20-minqte egg, Kiri no Tonbei, came after me. How they found the cave by the sea..."
"You were pursued by the unhatched offspring of some oviparous creature?" the Dalek Emperor wanted to know.
"Eh? Oh, just an expression for someone of. obnoxious attitudes wedded to general incompetence which describes Tonbei neatly. Anyway, a few of us managed to escape in a palanquin and by degrees I came here."
"In a palanquin," the Black Dalek repeated, its mechanical voice charged with disbelief.
"Not exactly. We had a few changes of vehicle between times. But I assumed you would not be interested in such trivia."
"All knowledge is useful."
"Now you sound like a Confucian text-book used in a terakoya. Only the shogunate obviously does not think all knowledge is useful. otherwise they would not have clamped down recently on the so-called 'Dutch learning'. Very well. I fled the country - an offence punishable by death - through the Ensovaari offshore island city of Azim Badfu. This was not the first time I'd done that. I went
to London which is where I met Captain Kirk." This was a decided simplification of a complex chain of events which had led to his present situation.
"You," the Emperor indicated Kotaro. "State purpose of your presence here."
"Exalted One, this one has no purpose here but to observe alien life forms."
"You have come to spy on the Daleks. You are an enemy of the Daleks. You will be exterminated" the Black Dalek barked.
Touchy lot, Kongo thought, touchier than even the haughtiest samurai. I wonder what they are so paranoid about?
Kotaro prostrated himself. "Not so, Great Lord. As you have said so wisely, 'All knowledge is useful'. This is a precept held dear also by our government which is why so many people are engaged in observing in our land."
Well, that's one way of describing the Shogunate’s well-entrenched and comprehensive spy network, Kongo thought.
"It is seldom that an opportunity arises to observe such a sublime and illustrious civilisation as yours," Kotaro continued. "Far be it from this one's defective mind to attempt to destroy it. Such would be beyond this one's wholly inadequate capabilities. However, yours being as above the quite benighted civilisation of Japan as the moon is above a snapping turtle, it is a matter of some astonishment that you deign to converse with such as we."
"You are anomalies. You come from a non-spacegoing civilisation and from the Ensovaari homeworld, yet you are here. We are interested in anomalies just now."
"Yet we serve the same mistresses, though our part is so slight as to weigh less than a feather compared with your noble contribution."
"That is true. We have sent the elite of Dalek forces into battle against the Ctherin away from Skaro. Those who remain have repaired the city and spaceport following the initial attack and later battle."
'The nobility of your sacrifice will not have gone unnoticed. Thus in Japan when we faced the invasion of the Yuan pirates during the reign of the Emperor Go-Uda, and the various provincial lords sacrificed much to build defences for the homeland."
"There are other concerns beside the Ctherin," was the rather curt response.
Kongo was now listening intently. Obviously flummoxed or snowblinded by Kotaro’s elaborate, Sinicised Japanese, the Daleks were starting to reveal rather more of themselves than they would have normally.
"Ah, it escapes this one's threadbare intellect that any could dare stand against your ever-victorious forces."
"The Daleks are a unit. That is why we are so powerful. Superior Dalek technology has always prevailed."
"Until now, "Kongo interrupted, determined to press home their advantage and cut off the retreat into typical Dalek propaganda. "Your enemy is also as you are and of like technology. Two equal forces. Impasse."
"Like the forces of Kai and Echigo at Kawanakajima," Kotaro added, "two armies of seasoned samurai, two great generals, Shingen and Kenshin. No conclusive victory either way. It appears to this unenlightened one that you must needs face a Sekigahara, the conclusive battle. But Sekigahara, as all our best battles, was won by treachery and deceit as much as by military prowess."
"Yes, a surprise attack is best, catch the enemy unawares and maintain your advantage," Kongo affirmed.
The Daleks were very interested in the direction the conversation had taken. This seemed to be what they were looking for - the human gift for lateral thinking. The Emperor, in particular, was impressed with the intelligence of the one called Fuma Kotaro: that he had deduced so much from what little the Daleks had said.
"Indeed, in war it is best not to be predictable. Such was the illuminating example of aforementioned Takeda Shingen of Kai. His tactics derived from the Chinese sage, Sun-tzu, were best summed up in the statement on his banners:-
Your compactness that of the forest
In raiding and plundering, be like fire
In immovability, like a mountain'
These worked well for him but when his son attempted the same tactics at Nagashino, he was defeated for he did not know the enemy, did not take into account changed circumstances. The enemy were using muskets in great numbers such as his father had not faced. The enemy further knew that the son would use his father's tactics. He had become predictable and this was turned against him.
"Moreover, earlier in our history, the despicable Yuan pirates turned the samurai custom of announcing one's name and lineage before battle against them."
"You have an enemy of like strength and abilities, perhaps qualities as yourselves," Kongo added. "You have reached an impasse, as I observed earlier. You wish to break that impasse. Well, gentlemen, you have come to the right people. My brother and I come of a long line of specialists in clandestine operations, spying, assassination intelligence gathering. Our whole stock-in-trade is based on our ability to 'see round corners’, to deceive, to counter enemy strategy and make him think what we want him to, to outplot and outmanoeuvre by means most would not even consider let alone choose. This we have been doing for generation after generation for over 800 years.
"Daleks do not require the cooperation of inferior beings," the Black Dalek stated.
"Really? Then why are we here?"
"We do not require your cooperation in the way you believe. We have other plans for you", the Emperor amended.
"Then would His Imperial Majesty augustly deign to convey to this superfluous one what are his jade thoughts concerning the possible fate of same?"
In the meantime Kirk found himself strapped to a bed-like device over which a helmet was suspended. He had been manhandled into this position by a species he had never seen before - huge gorilla-like creatures in leather jerkins with tremendous strength but, it seemed, not too many brains. The Daleks called them Ogrons. McCoy had started-to protest but had been silenced by a blast from a Dalek gun. He now sat on the floor nursing a numb leg.
The Dalek Supreme was explaining, "Each time we have manoeuvred our forces for a confrontation with the Movellans, we have found they have done likewise. There is no way we can even join battle. Each move is duplicated exactly by the other side. We have encountered similar creatures to you in a far galaxy and suffered one of our few defeats. You have something other races lack. We will put that factor into the Daleks. The Daleks will overcome the Movellans by means of this random factor. The Daleks will be victorious at last!"
"You can't transplant intelligence," McCoy muttered.
"That's hardly fair, Bones," Kirk said. "Whatever else these things are, they aren't stupid."
"Silence. Since you are the leader, you must have superior qualities, a fact borne out by the records on your ship. You will be the first."
"You might kill him," McCoy protested.
"In that case, we will take one of the others and failing that, the rest, including you., Doctor ,until the experiment is complete."
"You are utterly ruthless, aren't you?" Kirk said. "No wonder you could never conquer humans - you have no idea how to treat them - no idea of the basic tenets of humanity..."
"Bring in the experimental Dalek," the black and gold Dalek ordered, ignoring Kirk who was working himself up to one of his famous speeches.
The door slid open and a silver Dalek with blue trim glided in. It took up a position under another helmet opposite Kirk. The Red Dalek and other Daleks checked instruments on various panels. The two Ogrons stood near the door, guns trained on McCoy and Kirk. Kirk decided on one last attempt at reason.
"The factor we have which you don't have is humanity," he began. "We care about each other.We don't just go around eliminating people who are different, who get in our way. We’ve learned totrust others and not to judge by appearances alone. We value freedom - freedom of the individual,freedom of the spirit. That is something a machine, pre-programmed as it is, no matter in how slight a way and no matter how independent, could never understand. This freedom lends flexibility to the mind, an adaptability which you cannot cope with. You are remarkable creatures in many ways - you have evolved a highly advanced technology on your own, you are adaptable by machine standards, you can think for yourselves but you have no sense of compassion, right or wrong. Even if it was possible, I doubt if you could change..."
"’Were possible’,"the Dalek Supreme corrected, interrupting. " It should be a subjunctive - use of the indicative is incorrect. Kyralek, cross to Circuit C."
Kirk sighed in disgust. He wasn't going to have his grammar corrected by an oversized pepperpot. His lovely speech - he felt it was one of his better efforts - had fallen on deaf ears. Before he could start again, the Red Dalek announced, "Equipment ready. Experiment will commence."
Immediately the helmets descended and fastened themselves on the heads of Kirk and the experimental Dalek. Then a humming began, growing steadily louder. Kirk felt as if his brain was being squeezed out through his cranium. Tingling sensations ran down the rest of his body. Vaguely ,in the background seemingly miles away on another dimensional plane, he could hear the Daleks' voices taking readings from their instruments.
Then suddenly it was over. He felt in one piece at least. Opening his eyes, he saw the experimental Dalek surrounded by its peers who were running tests on it. Preliminary results seemed satisfactory. The Dalek was undamaged by its experience and was functioning on all systems. No alteration was noticeable however.
"Perhaps the transfer has not worked," opined one Dalek.
"It should have. The equipment was in order."
A consultation followed which excluded the experimental Dalek.
Kirk's attention was attracted by the opening of the door as two more Ogrons entered, pushing a tall blonde woman before them. She was obviously their prisoner but Kirk thought only that she was one of the most striking women he’d ever seen. She must have been 6 foot tall, her pale golden hair was long and straight and cut in a fringe, her skin golden and her superb figure was clad in a green tunic. She was thrust toward the experimental Dalek by her captors, one of whom spoke, "This Thal was found near the ship which crashed 5 rels ago."
The experimental Dalek fixed its eyestick on the woman, looking her up and down from head to foot very slowly. "What were you doing there?" it barked still looking at her;
"I was searching for my brother, Theladon. Is he here?"
"What is your brother doing here?"
"We were prospecting out in the asteroid belt when we were caught in some sort of storm and ended up in this system. Then the engines failed, we crashed and he went to get help."
"Thals are forbidden in the Dalek space."
So there was yet another race in this quadrant, Kirk thought, and a very handsome one at that, though apparently not as advanced technically as the Daleks. The Ogrons pulled the woman to one side of the room as the other Daleks finished their discussion. The Dalek Supreme barked, "Take the Thal prisoner away. She will be questioned later."
The woman was dragged away by the Ogrons. Kirk's eyes followed her, wondering at her fate. Then he noticed with a prickling feeling that the Dalek's eyestick was also following her. As they reached the door, the Dalek approached and stood beside them.. The door opened and the Ogrons and their charge passed through it but now the experimental Dalek accompanied them
Kirk was released from the table by the two other Ogrons and he and McCoy were taken from the room. The last sight he had of the Dalek Supreme and his subordinates was of them looking in the direction of the other Dalek .
Further down the corridor they encountered the Thal woman. This time there were no Ogrons and only the Dalek was with her. It was moving beside her, its eyestick fixed on her, its arm across the back of her waist.
"Hmm. Fast worker. Faster than you, Jim," muttered McCoy. "The Daleks don’t know what they’ve let themselves in for, using your factor."
"I have absolutely nothing a Dalek would want, "she was saying in a despairing tone. No doubt she would be exterminated soon enough.
"Nothing?" the Dalek grated, its eyestick still on her face. "You are being unnecessarily modest."
The Thal woman looked sharply at her metallic companion and flushed as she suddenly recognised the compliment. "Indeed, the Thals have many interesting - attributes I had not noticed before," it added. "Let me help."
This time the Thal woman's astonishment was open. "But you're a Dalek. Daleks don't help Thals. My brother has probably been devoured by the carnivorous plants by now."
"Nevertheless, let me help. It would help us to understand each other better and we should. A famous writer once made those three words the theme of a novel, rating their, even more important. than 'I love you'."
The Thal woman looked confused. She had not lived very long but she was old enough to recognise a 'pick-up' line when she heard it ,though never in Skaro's long and turbulent history had a Dalek tried to flirt with a Thal - or with anyone else.
Kirk, in the meantime, had done some recognising of his own. Although that last speech of the Dalek's had been delivered in its customary flat, staccato mechanical voice ,thus robbing it of most of its romantic appeal, it was quite plainly similar to one he’d made to Edith Keeler in New York of 1930. Indeed, even the compliment earlier was typical of many he'd used on similar occasions. "That Dalek is stealing all my lines," he mumbled.
McCoy was now chuckling openly. "Ever listened to yourself, Jim my boy?" he said. "The Kirk Factor."
"Are you accusing me of corrupting that Dalek?"
McCoy declined to comment. He was enjoying himself hugely at the expense of both Kirk and the hapless Dalek.
When Kirk and McCoy returned to their cell, they found the two Japanese. "Interesting situation here, Captain, "Kongo remarked without preamble. Kotaro winced. Kongo did have a distressing tendency to come straight to the point. Most impolite. "The Daleks are at war with another race of robot creatures and need what they call the 'human factor' from us."
"I know," Kirk groaned. "Eh? How did you know? I thought they were going to do us one at a time."
"They told us," Kongo responded briefly, not bothering to explain the ninja had half tricked them into imparting information and put the rest together themselves.
Kirk nodded. "What else have you discovered?"
"Dalek Emperor very informative, "Kotaro responded in his heavily accented English.
"Dalek Emperor?" McCoy repeated, half in disbelief.
"What on Earth does a Dalek emperor look like?"
Kotaro looked offended. "Have no idea. Saw only base of body which was all of gold. Only barbarians look on faces of their rulers."
"The Daleks, gentlemen." Kirk wanted to keep matters on track.
"Have discovered this Emperor is second of line. Is very old. Predecessor also very old. Maybe 1000 years. In time of previous Emperor also tried experiment with human factor. Several Daleks involved and result in Civil War. Previous Emperor went to Yellow Springs during this civil disturbance." Kotaro replied.
"Well, why didn't he come back and sort it out? I assume these springs are somewhere on their home planet," Kirk put in.
"Oh no. Mean he ascend to Upper Air."
"I see. He went off planet and there was a coup..."
"No! No! Dalek Emperor change state."
"What my brother is trying to convey in his convoluted Sinicised way is that H.I.H. the Dalek Emperor snuffed it," Kongo elucidated.
"Anyhow, after which event current Dalek Emperor ascend throne and, facing south, conducted affairs of Empire. Thereafter, resolving not to meddle in such things until Movellan threat and Red Dalek make proposal through Dalek Supreme. But will restrict to only one Dalek so as not to repeat ancestral errors. And. you? You have been experimented on?"
"Yes and we have a problem," McCoy cut in before Kirk could reply. "The 'Kirk Factor' as I call it, has been put in a Dalek all right but I don't think they're going to like the results. In addition, we found they have an ape-like race as servants and heavy duty men."
The Daleks certainly didn't like the results. There was an air of dismay as a Black Dalek and half -dozen other Daleks gazed at a monitor screen. Tetralek, the experimental Dalek, was with the Thal prisoner, running his sucker down her spine in a single stroking movement as she gave way to hysterical sobs. Another Dalek entered the cell and spoke. Tetralek's manner altered immediately. "On your way!" he barked in what McCoy and Spock, had they been present, would have recognised as Kirk's command tone despite the mechanical delivery. The other Dalek showed some hesitation. "I gave you an order, Mister. Out of my work sector!"
"Observe the change in speech patterns," the Black Dalek pointed out. "Note that he has an increased awareness of self as an individual - indicated by the frequent use of the word 'my' instead of 'this', the tendency to express himself in the active, personal manner instead of the impersonal, which is the Dalek way. The collective consciousness of the Daleks has been erased. Instead of considering himself one of many and part of the greater whole, he sees himself as an individual acting on his own. This could be dangerous to the Dalek state."
"Perhaps the subject was unsuitable," a Red Dalek put in. "Another of the prisoners should be used."
"Agreed," the Dalek Supreme said, coming in to the room. The Black Dalek objected but was overridden.
In a short time McCoy and the two Japanese were brought in. "Wait. Where is the pointed eared one?" the Dalek Supreme wanted to know.
There was an embarrassed silence as a bank of monitors was consulted and a Dalek finally discovered Spock and the Red Dalek in a small laboratory deep in conversation over a computer screen. "...Of course the relationship of inter-universal field densities and their relationship to gravity vortex phenomena has long fascinated me," Spock was saying, "particularly since I have encountered such vortices myself."
"The Daleks have also encountered such phenomena. Experiments have shown..."
"The entity Spock has knowledge and intelligence that may be useful to us," one of the other Daleks commented.
"Red Daleks sometimes forget their prime function in the pursuit of knowledge. The purpose was to interrogate prisoner Spock, not to hold a brindigulum," said the Black Dalek.
"The military mind..."Kongo muttered.
"Our prime problem is experimental Dalek Tetralek," the Dalek Supreme reminded them.
The Black Dalek explained with a certain degree of distaste, "Tetralek has been subjected to an experiment in which certain characteristics of one of you - James Tiberius Kirk - were transferred to him with unfortunate results." Was it imagination or did the Dalek's deep metallic voice sound pained. "Just now he was speaking some sort of verse:
My love has wings, slender feathered things
With grace and upswept curve and tapered tip..."
These romantic lines were delivered by the Dalek as though it were reading a report on fuel consumption in one of the less interesting Dalek colonies.
"Good grief," McCoy interjected, astonished, "that's Nightingale Woman by Tarbold of Canopus, one of the most passionate love poems of the last few centuries. Not exactly a fit subject for a Dalek."
The Black Dalek's eyestick swung slowly across and over to McCoy. Though lacking a face, the Dalek still managed to convey its disgust by gesture alone. All it said was to a silver Dalek, "Fetch Tetralek."
When this was done, the Dalek Supreme said, "To counteract Tetralek's aberrant behaviour, we will place in him the human factor from one of you. You, Fuma Kotaro Kaneyoshi ,will supply the factor. You have indicated military ability and other useful qualities."
"This superfluous one would, if it is not altogether essential for your refined convenience, forego this overwhelming honour," Kotaro responded, bowing low.
Shortly after he found himself strapped to the same table Kirk had been on some hours earlier. The somewhat confused Tetralek was brought opposite him. "What is the matter with me?" asked the bewildered Dalek. "Why do I do things I never thought of doing before? Why does part of my brain direct me to do these things yet the rest of me sees no logic- in them? Why does part of my brain inflict on me certain feelings that do not belong?"
"Very sorry. I do not know," was all the Fuma ninja could say before the helmets were lowered. Kotaro gritted his teeth while maintaining a mask-like demeanour against the sensations that assailed him. He felt as though he had been blown up again on the Fuma dragon ship. Then it was over, Tetralek was moved into the centre of the room. It began speaking softy, "Water calls Wind, Wind calls Fire, Fire calls Water." Then it stopped as if stunned. "I am very sorry about my previous behaviour," the reconstituted Dalek said, lowering his eyestick.
The Black Dalek uttered a burst of static, a Dalek expression of disgust, and said something in old Kaled only very old Daleks would know the meaning of, then added, "He has the very wearisome politeness of the Japanese, it seems." He wheeled around turning his back on Tetralek and faced the Dalek Supreme. "This experiment will be terminated immediately. I will exterminate Tetralek."
"Not necessary as yet. We will observe. He may still be of use." With that, the Dalek Supreme glided out of the room.
"It would not have been wise to exterminate me," Tetralek said. "I have a coating on my casing of a substance I invented myself, not long ago, called corbomite. If you had fired on me, you would have been exterminated too. That is what corbomite is designed for."
"I do not believe you."
"Do you wish to discover for yourself? Fuma are the wind. No one can see the Fuma when they run. Fuma come in the night…."
"Fuma may very well be the wind but what has that to do with the Daleks?." With that, the Black Dalek swept out.
Kotaro was returned to the cell where he related what had happened to everyone including Spock.
"So not only does this Dalek have Jim's penchant for the opposite sex, it also bluffs like he does. Infact, corbomite is one of his gags," McCoy commented.
"It seems to have absorbed some of my brother’s mysticism," Kongo added. "Not to mention his pride in the Fuma. That chant about Water, Fire and Wind is what he used to track the three mirrors of the Hojo."
"Oh brother," McCoy groaned.
Just then the door opened and a Dalek came in. The door closed behind it. "Well, what do you want?" Kirk growled. As far as he was concerned it was Be Rude To Daleks Week.
"I am confined with you to test the success of the experiment and to prevent any more aberrant behaviour on my part. This was decided after I won three Dalek hovabouts, one work sector and two guns from five other Daleks in a game of fizzbin."
Kirk groaned and buried his head in his hands.
"You're Tetralek, aren't you?" Kongo asked.
"Correct ... What is the significance of touching a female on the lower hindquarter?" it croaked.
"Eh-uh?" Kirk flustered completely taken aback by the unexpectedness of the question.
"Do you know? It was from you that this impulse came to me," the Dalek said almost accusingly. "Because of you I feel the most strange and illogical compulsions quite alien to a Dalek. Touching females is one. Explain."
Kirk went several shades of pink. He was not about to explain the facts of life to a glorified salt-cellar, especially not in front of a pair of giggling Japanese, his Chief Medical Officer and one supercilious Vulcan. However, it was that Vulcan who came to his rescue.
"It is a behaviour pattern relating to the human mating urge," he said.
"I see. There is something of this in the Kaledian fragments. But a Dalek does not reproduce in this clumsy fashion - it does not mate at all. It is most disturbing. Such behaviour is meaningless..."
"Ah yes, the Kaleds," Spock interrupted. "One of the original humanoid races of Skaro, the Dalek home planet. They were annihilated in the Neutron War of two millennia ago. The Thals were the other group involved but enough survived to perpetuate the race. They have since moved off planet The Kaleds created the Daleks. The Red Dalek was most informative. They have very good minds, Daleks, their technological genius has not only built them an empire but put them among the most advanced races of the galaxy. They are not robots , strictly speaking because their brains are living tissue. Really quite fascinating."
"If their brains are humanoid, flesh, how is it they themselves cannot break the impasse with the Movellans?" Kirk wondered. "Surely a race of robots and a race of quasi-robots would not be completely matched?"
"Kare o shiri, onore o shirabu, hyakusen ayaukarazu - know him, know thyself and there is no danger in one hundred battles - is that what you mean? Seem to me that both sides know each other too well," Kotaro remarked.
"Indeed. The Daleks are programmed like robots - were from the start. Programmed to survive the Neutron War originally. Their achievement has been very great."
"Now the Daleks have what they want," McCoy said, interrupting this enconium "what will become of us? Did your Dalek pals tell you that?"
"Doctor, my admiration for their genius does not mean I approve of them. They are quite ruthless. This was made plain by the Red Dalek who conceded that we may well be part of the Ensovaari auxiliaries but informed me that Daleks are loyal only to the Ensovaari themselves and regard other races as expendable and thus they showed no hesitation in exploiting us for their own purposes."
The answer came from Tetralek. "You will be exterminated if the Black Dalek prevails. You are of no further use to the Daleks. The Dalek Supreme will see that soon."
Kirk turned to him. "Can you get us out of here?"
"You are prisoners of the Daleks."
"And so are you. Do you want to die - be exterminated as well? Because they'll kill you, too, you're a failed experiment. That's why you're in here with us."
"So you go quietly to your death - what is the matter with you? Where's that part of you that is me? The individualism that started to show? Are you going to stand there and let them do that to you?"
The Dalek rolled back and forth agitatedly.
"First they take you and force you to receive the human factor - I'll bet you didn't volunteer..."
"I was selected..."
"You were made under go this treatment. And when it didn't work out they decided you would die. Don't you want any say in your life? Any control?"
The Dalek spun around and around, obviously in the grip of conflicting ideas, impulses and emotions. Then suddenly it darted to the door - its speed was astonishing and a salutary lesson not to underestimate Daleks. It said something and the door slid open. Kirk looked at McCoy. Spock explained, "They did not expect a Dalek to leave a cell once it had been ordered to enter it."
"Now if we could lure a Dalek in here, immobilise it, we could climb inside..." Kirk mused.
"Unlikely, Captain. Even if it were possible to do so - Daleks are not easily surprised, those hemispheres all over the lower casing form a sensor grid similar to that in the robe worn by Dr Miranda Jones to compensate for her blindness, there would not be room. The organic part of the Dalek occupies only a small part of the casing. Moreover, I would point out that should we escape, it is unlikely Mr Scott will have a search party waiting for us. The reason we were able to beam down here was that the Daleks had the planet's shields down in order to capture us. They have now been restored and at battle strength," Spock pointed out.
"We'll worry about that when we get to it. Meanwhile let's get out of here."
He, Spock and McCoy slipped quickly out and up the corridor after the ninja who had already gone. Tetralek brought up the rear. At the T-junction at the end of the corridor, he barely glimpsed two dark shapes glide noiselessly up to garrotte the two Ogron guards. They paused for Tetralek to catch up and indicate which direction to take. The ninja paused ,watching the tracking camera then darted out, timing their movements to coincide when the camera was turned from their direction. Thanks to the silent tracking and infiltration skills of the ninja and the guidance of Tetralek, they reached the bank of lifts and ascended in one.
"I like not these mobile rooms. I would rather climb cables holding," Kotaro said. "That way be sure no unworthy fellow cutting them, unknown, above."
The lift deposited them at ground level. The doors opened to reveal a party of Ogrons clustering in a corridor. McCoy pulled the others back and closed the lift doors. "Those are the Daleks' servants. Pretty stupid but what they lack in brains they seem to make up in brute strength and numbers."
"Never fear a big enemy or despise a small one."
"Thank you, Fuma… er, Tetralek, "Kirk said through gritted teeth, as he realised the proverb was spoken in a Dalek’s metallic staccato not the master ninja’s mellifluous bass.
"Cannot remain here," Kotaro remarked. "Lift go no further."
"And they'll recall it anyway. OK, we'll try a bluff."
Kirk marshalled everyone in front of Tetralek, opened the doors and advanced on the Ogrons. "Prisoner transfer," Tetralek grated when the Ogrons moved towards them, guns ready. "Stand aside."
The Ogrons seemed confused. "Prisoners escape. Daleks said so."
"I have recaptured them. Move aside. Move! Move! Obey the Daleks!"
"Yes, Master." The Ogrons shuffled back to let the group pass.
"Hmm, methinks Ogrons in category exemplified by proverb, ‘when the running hares have all been hunted, the hound is cooked’. Working for Daleks no doubt short term employment," Kotaro opined when they were out of earshot. Kirk had no doubt of it.
"We are not safe. The Ogrons will report to Central Control," Tetralek, informed them.
"We'd better get out of these corridors. Too open," Kongo said. "How far from the exit are we?"
"Reporting transfer of prisoners on Level One," the Ogron's harsh guttural voice broke the concentrated silence of Central Control.
"Acknowledged. Continue," the Dalek Supreme replied.
"There was no prisoner transfer authorised," one of the other Daleks observed from its station by a bank of monitors.
"Tetralek and the prisoners have now reached Level One. We will continue to observe their progress."
"They were permitted to escape? Why?"
"So we might observe how successful they are at evading our security, how they apply their ingenuity to escaping from the city. Adding the human factor to Daleks is counter-productive. The human concept of individuality is incompatible with the Dalek group mind. However, humans may still offer a solution."
The party had found another bank of lifts. "Tetralek says these will take us to a service exit," Kongo explained as they got inside the car.
They had only gone a short distance when Kongo stopped the car and opened the roof hatch. Kotaro indicated the others should follow Kongo out and up the cables. "Advantage of lift well, no spy camera." Tetralek remained to close the doors and send the lift back.
Kongo and Kotaro used grappling hooks and lengths of stout rope they carried on them to speed their climb while Kirk, Spock and McCoy shinnied up the cables "Where's Tetralek?" Kirk asked.
"Coming. Look," McCoy pointed below him at the rapidly rising Dalek.
"Antigravs, Captain," Spock observed.
"Spock, can you override the lock mechanism on the shaft doors? Preferably so the Daleks don't know about it and still think we got off somewhere back there."
Tetralek's arrival saved him the bother as he activated the service hatchway and they all crawled through, then it opened an emergency exit. "That pavement leads directly into the jungle."
"In which case we will not follow it," Kongo said, "we circle this building and move north."
"There is an underground river which flows from the jungle to the base. There is an access shaft to thenorth. We will go that way," Tetralek told them.
"They will expect us to take the most direct and obvious way out. The machine mind," Spock noted. "That is what they would do and rely on firepower to clear out any obstacles. Only Tetralek uses a ninja’s cunning. Nonetheless, we have seen that the other Daleks can use cunning when it suits them."
"The underground passages will be designed to keep out intruders, not to prevent people from leaving," Kongo suggested.
"There are dangerous life forms in the waters. There may be a party of Thals on the planet. They are hostile." Tetralek warned.
"Well, the Daleks haven't exactly shown themselves candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize," McCoy pointed out.
Tetralek was not the only one puzzled by this remark to judge from the expressions on the faces of the ninja. "Follow me," the Dalek instructed.
They reached a polygonal plate set in the ground covered with a light dusting of sand. Extending its arm, it touched a panel in the plate which slid aside. The ninja peered inside. "We'll have to jump. There is no ladder," Kotaro reported.
"Obviously not since Daleks don't need them," Kongo added. "Still, it's not too far."
Securing the end of his rope to Tetralek's body, he slid down into the darkness followed by the others. Tetralek resealed the cover and Kongo retrieved his rope.
The Dalek instructed, "Follow me. Daleks have infra-red vision."
"Oh great, blindman's buff," McCoy muttered, taking hold of the hem of Kirk's tunic while Spock and the others did likewise with whomever was in front of them to form a chain in the almost total blackness. Slipping and stumbling over the damp rocks, they moved forward towards the sound of rushing water. Dimly as their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they could see huge pipes illuminated by faintly glowing lichens on the walls. Every now and then small and nasty things scuttled out of their path, too quick for easy identification, though a few of them fell victim to a shuriken or a Dalek blast. Finally they reached a weed covered grille which Spock and the ninja managed to work loose. Outside was thick undergrowth which soon thinned out the further they moved from the river.
Abruptly, the ninja, who as usual were scouting ahead, froze in their tracks. Then with sudden rush of movement, they drew their swords and sprang forward in a flying leap to land neatly on the far side of an Ogron patrol. They then dashed into their midst, blades flashing as they ran the gauntlet. It was over in a few seconds. Seven Ogrons sank silently to the ground, bodies slashed from shoulder to hip. The remaining Ogrons, grunting, backed away. Kongo, sheathing his sword, dropped to one knee and sent a dozen or so poison-tipped shuriken into tile Ogrons nearest him. Still hurling the small deadly blades, he executed a cartwheel and a series of backflips that took him with amazing speed across the clearing. A glance behind him told him that three of the Ogrons were beginning to succumb to the effects of the poison. And so they should, each had enough of the star-shaped knives embedded in his flesh to fell a dozen men.
"All right, gentlemen, let's have at it," Kirk said taking karate leap at the nearest Ogron while Spock neck-pinched another one. McCoy refrained from remarking he was a doctor and not Bruce Lee. Instead he stood looking for an opening in case anyone needed help. He found good old-fashioned fisticuffs just as effective even though it took a little longer and a bit of doing with repeated thumps on the huge anthropoids' chest, bellies and heads. Kotaro continue to harass and confuse the remaining enemy with smoke bombs and swordplay until all lay dead or unconscious.
"Well ,that was a brisk workout," Kirk commented, ruefully mopping a cut lip and gingerly fingering a bruise or two on his face. They regrouped and moved on.
"Halt!" came a deep, all.-too-familiar mechanical voice. From beyond appeared the Black Dalek, the Dalek Supreme and the Red Dalek with a dozen or more silver and blue Daleks.
"Fleeing from the tiger's jaws and entering the dragon's lair," Kotaro muttered. Kirk's response was a lot more succinct. "Shit!"
The dozen humans stood still and disconsolately. Tetralek's eyestick and arms drooped. He appeared to be waiting for that final blast. But the other Daleks were not interested in him for the moment.
"You have successfully evaded our security. Not all of it was due to the presence of Tetralek," the Dalek Supreme stated. "Your methods were at times bizarre and difficult to follow. Scanners failed to register you for fully one hour on two occasions."
"We just didn't take the obvious route, that's all," Kongo replied.
"These faults in our systems will be rectified. You appeared to double back several times deliberately, demonstrating that human trait of lateral thinking. We have decided that in view of the uselessness of implanting the human factor into the Daleks that you will remain here so that we may observe you further and use these data in programming our battle computers."
"We will not return to captivity," Kirk affirmed. "We would rather die."
The ninja cast him a 'speak for yourself' look. There were other ways of approaching the matter than the typically foreign either/or, black and white method. The ninja tended to look for shades of grey.
"You have seen what we've done to your Ogron servants," Kirk went on.
"Impressive," the Black Dalek conceded. "Considering you were unarmed or armed only with primitive weapons. Ogrons have never operated at optimum efficiency. They will be replaced."
Like the surveillance system - you're all heart, Kirk thought. Aloud, he continued, "We will fight. We will not do as much damage to you as to the Ogrons. But we will do some. More importantly, you will probably kill us and lose any chance of adapting the human factor. If one of us agrees to stay will you let the rest return to the Enterprise with the equipment you took from us. It’s either one of us or none of us."
Kotaro casually flicked Ogron blood off his sword.
"All or none," Kirk repeated.
The Daleks conferred. "Very well. It is agreed," the Dalek Supreme stated. "Most of you are not suitable for our purposes anyway. Who is to remain?"
"I will," Kirk affirmed. He did not intend anyone but himself would make the sacrifice. His crew's safety was his responsibility and no one else's.
"There is no logic to that," Tetralek interposed. "You are the captain of a vessel which is part of the Male Auxiliaries." It turned to the others of its kind and said, "You do not need the humans. I have the factors of two of the more devious. To keep the Kirk unit would serve no purpose."
"Tetralek is correct," the Black Dalek stated. "This experiment has finished. While you were conferring, I contacted the Emperor. That is his order. The humans here must be returned to their vessel."
The Dalek Supreme had no choice. "Very well," it said. "You, Tetralek, will return their equipment to these humans and lower the shield to permit operation of their transmat device."
"Boy, is that Dalek Supreme going to get it," McCoy commented when the Daleks had gone. "Permitting such a dangerous experiment on its watch, even if it originated with one of scientists and then persisting with it."
"Agreed," Spock said.
"Well, that's an Enterprise first - you two agreeing," Kirk remarked.
"I would point out, Captain, that the good Doctor has occasionally displayed the logic one would expect from a Star Fleet officer and has concurred with me on at least three occasions."
Kirk rolled his eyes. "Scotty, beam me up!" he said into his empty hand.