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Valerie Piacentini

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Security Chief Baillie

Of all the officers of the Enterprise, I suppose the one who comes closest to being what I'd call a friend is Scotty. To quote our favourite Vulcan, it's logical. On any ship, the demands of discipline mean that the Captain must maintain a degree of formality with the crew, and although James T. is as nice a guy as you could wish to meet, somehow you can never forget he's the Captain. Same with Mr. Spock, and anyway, can you imagine him unbending enough to be matey with anyone? As for Dr. McCoy, well I always get the feeling he's just waiting for the chance to stick a scalpel in me - but then, all doctors affect me like that.

With Scotty it's different. He came up the hard way, through the ranks, and he's never forgotten it. We have this friendly private war going - he keeps trying to smuggle extra alcohol on board, and I'm always trying to catch him at it. At the moment, the honours are just about even. On shore leave we can both relax and enjoy an evening's drinking in the night spots. I'll freely confess he can drink me under the table any time, and be none the worse for it; I've never managed to get the better of him yet, but it's fun trying.

I suppose that's why I take such a personal interest in what happens when we put in for shore leave on Sentas. This is a favourite place with Starfleet crews - it's one of the open planets of the galaxy, and all races, including the Klingons and the Romulans, use it; as a result, the nightlife tends to be somewhat uninhibited, and our boys take enthusiastic advantage of that fact; Scotty more so than most.

Now you know by now how Scotty operates. Out in space he practically lives in Engineering - he eats, breathes and dreams the Enterprise and all its functions. Once his leave comes up, he really cuts loose, and makes his presence felt in all the bars, brothels and nightclubs for miles around. As soon as his leave's up, though, he's impatient to get back to his beloved engines.

So when I answer a call to the briefing room and the Captain tells me that Scotty has not returned to the ship, I'm really puzzled.

"You know him pretty well, Chief Baillie, did he say anything to you that might give us a lead?"

"No, sir, but there was one unusual thing, Mr. Scott and I usually have a night out together during shore leave, but this time he didn't turn up. You know how it is, I thought he'd met a girl he wanted to keep to himself, so it didn't bother me." Spock comes in at this point, and the Captain turns to him.

"Any news?"

"No, sir. Mr. Scott is not in any of the hospitals on Sentas, and Planetary Security has no record of him being arrested. I asked Dr. McCoy to check his quarters, and he tells me that he has taken most of his clothes and personal items. I am afraid it seems as though Mr. Scott's disappearance was intentional."

"I find that very hard to believe. Mr. Baillie, I want you to make a thorough investigation. I can find an excuse to keep the Enterprise here for a few more days; you have full authority to make whatever enquiries you think necessary. One restriction though. I don't want to list Scotty as a deserter - I'm sure there's some explanation for his behaviour, and I don't want him to have to face charges. Mr. Spock, I've taped a supplement to the log, extending his leave."

Spock raises an eyebrow, and I expect him to object to this highly unorthodox action, but he merely says tranquilly, "If you will let me have the tape, Captain, I will patch it in to the main log. The alteration will not be detectable, and it will be safer in case questions are asked later."

"Thank you, Spock," says the Captain, and the Vulcan nods gravely and leaves. Kirk turns back to me.

"Get on it right away, will you, Chief? I've got a feeling about this - Scotty's in trouble."

* * * * * * * *

I decide to start my investigation in Scotty's quarters. McCoy's already searched there, but he doesn't really know what to look for - I'm hoping to find something he's missed. For a time there's nothing. Scotty has really cleaned the place out, and it sure looks like he doesn't intend to come back. Then I find an address he's jotted down on a notepad - no name, but the address is in the spaceport area of Sentas. It'll bear checking, so I take it along. Then, in a box in Scotty's bedside cabinet I find about a dozen empty medicine bottles. From the labels, they once held the tablets McCoy dishes out for headaches, and other such minor complaints. He's usually very reluctant to hand out his precious pills, so I wonder how Scotty managed to get so many without the good doctor screaming from here to Vulcan. Looks like the next step's sickbay, so I head off that way.

McCoy is as taken aback as I am at the number of bottles. "I did give him some of these a couple of weeks ago," he says, "but certainly nothing like this number. Wait here, I'll check."

When he comes back he's looking grim. "He's been getting these for about a month, going round the medical staff in turn. The tablets are a standard pain-killer, readily obtainable anywhere, so no record of their issue is usually kept. But I don't understand - if he needed such massive doses, why didn't he come to me for treatment?"

"I don't know, Doctor, but I'm going to find out. I'll keep you posted."

"Do that, please, Baillie; now I'd better see about getting things tightened up around here."

So my first step hasn't really got me much further; if Scotty's ill, that could explain his absence, but Spock's already said he's not in hospital on Sentas, and he's as likely to make a mistake as I am to command Starfleet. Looks like I'll have to go down to Sentas myself, and do a bit of checking.

* * * * * * * *

I find the address Scotty noted easily enough, and it turns out to be the consulting rooms of a Sentan physician, Dr. Heston. This, I think, is getting really weird; Scotty is hardly ever ill, and if he did need a doctor, surely he'd be more likely to go to McCoy, who's an old friend, rather than a complete stranger? Well, I won't get any answers staring at a closed door, so I go in; by good luck the doctor is free, and his secretary shows me in.

The offices are luxurious, elegant, and expensive; so is the doctor. When I explain the reason for my visit, he's also concerned, friendly and helpful - and I don't trust him an inch. It's just a feeling I've got; any good security man soon develops an instinct for when people are lying in their teeth, and the good doctor is putting up a virtuoso performance.

"I'm sorry I can't help you, Chief Baillie," he says. "I do vaguely recall my secretary making an appointment for a Mr. Scott, but he never showed up, and I've had no further word from him."

"Well, it was worth trying," I reply, letting him think I've swallowed his story. "If you should hear from Mr. Scott, I'd be grateful if you'd contact Security."

I decide right them that I want to know a lot more about Dr. Heston, so I go straight to the top. Chief of Security on Sentas is Dave Martin; we served together in Starfleet for a time before injuries forced him to transfer to the civilian service. He's pleased to see me when I call up and invite him out for a drink, and I don't broach the subject of Heston until I'm sure we're well away from interested ears. He sits up when I tell him what I want.

"Dr. Heston?" he says thoughtfully. "You know, I'd give ten years pay to pin something on him. He's kept his nose clean officially, but between you and me, I'm certain he's mixed up in the rackets here. There's never been anything I can prove, but he keeps some very strange company for a respectable doctor. I'm convinced he's working with the Klingons, and I do know for a fact that he's responsible for the health of the girls in the biggest chain of brothels on Sentas."

"So the Klingons come into this," I say. "I can't see yet what the connection is, but there must be one. Look, Dave, I'm going to try something tonight, and while I'm about it I'll see what I can dig up for you."

"I'd be grateful," he admits. "Let me know if I can help out." He doesn't ask me what I intend to do, but he knows me pretty well, so I guess he reasons that what he doesn't know about officially, he can't act on.

* * * * * * * *

Later that afternoon I'm sitting behind a newspaper in the entrance hall of the office block where Heston has his rooms, keeping a discreet eye open for the doctor leaving. I look up as the lift doors open, and recognise a familiar figure heading for the exit.

Think of everything you've ever heard about Klingons, double it, and you've got a rough idea of Kolmak, the Klingon security officer who's just left the building. I've run up against him a couple of times, and he's one of the nastiest pieces of work his planet has ever produced - which is saying plenty. Now, on an open planet like Sentas, it's not unusual to see a Klingon or two wandering about, but in view of what Dave Martin's just told me, a few pieces of the puzzle start slotting in to place. Just then I see Heston himself on his way out, so once I'm sure he's clear of the building, I take the lift up to his offices. The door to his waiting room presents no problems, nor does his secretary's office; the files stored there I ignore - what I want will be much more carefully hidden. Sure enough, the door to Heston's own office is much more efficiently protected than an innocent doctor would find necessary but it doesn't hold me up for too long. Heston may be all kinds of a crook, but he's a rank amateur, and I find and open his private safe without too much trouble. Seems the Klingons were so sure of his cover they didn't even bother to check his security; that's their mistake.

Most of Heston's files are no use to me, but after a quick glance I set them aside for Dave; they tie Heston into the drug racket as well as vice. The file I'm after is the one he's thoughtfully labelled 'Lt-Commander Montgomery Scott'; this I read with rapt attention, and it answers most, but not all, of my questions.

Gathering up my evidence I head back to Dave's office, and he practically offers me the key to the city when I dump my trophies on his desk, but there are only two things I want right then.

"Have Heston picked up quietly," I ask him. "I don't want word of his arrest to leak out for a while. And one other thing - have your men locate Scotty for me. I know he's still on Sentas, but he's under cover. Your boys know the set-up, and can find him a lot quicker than I can. Don't bring him in, though - I want to talk to him first."

"Consider it done," says Dave, and gives the necessary orders. While I'm waiting, I call up the Captain, and fill him in on what's been happening. When he hears about the Klingon involvement, he's all set to beam down himself but I persuade him to leave it to me.

It takes a couple of hours before one of Dave's agents reports that Scotty has been located, holed up in a seedy hotel in the less respectable quarter of the spaceport, so I head off there to finish the job.

* * * * * * * *

The manager of the hotel is a rather slimy specimen who isn't too fond of Federation security men, but he's only too eager to cooperate once I've leaned on him a little. He tells me that Scotty hasn't left his room since he checked in, and shows me a bottle of whisky he's about to take up.

"I'll take it," I tell him. "And don't get any ideas about calling ahead."

Trust Scotty to hide out on the top floor of a crummy hotel with no lift. "Come!" says the familiar voice as I reach the top at last and knock on the door. I spare a glance round as I go in - the Ritz it's not, but I guess Scotty isn't too interested in the decor. He's sitting at the table, his head in his hands, gloomily surveying the corpses of the bottles he's got lined up in front of him. He doesn't even look up as I walk in, but when I just stand there saying nothing he lifts his head at last, and seems to have a bit of trouble focussing on me.

"Mr. Baillie," he says, nodding his head wisely. "I might have known. Pull up a chair, and have a drink." I think it's best to go along with him for the moment, so I do as he says.

Despite the evidence of the bottles, Scotty is stone cold sober. In his eyes there's an expression of utter desolation, and deep down, a hint of fear.

"Well now," he goes on, "and what brings you here? I thought the Enterprise would be gone by now."

"Come off it, Scotty. Can you see the Captain going anywhere without his Chief Engineer?"

"I suppose not. I haven't been thinking too clearly just lately." He reaches for the bottle again, and I can see his hand is shaking. A sudden stab of pain flashes across his face; he takes out a couple of pills, and swallows them with the whisky. After a moment his face clears. "That's better. So now what, Security Chief Baillie?"

"So now, Lt-Commander Scott, we finish the bottle." He grins, and pours us another drink. After a moment I go on. "You're in trouble, Scotty; want to talk about it?"

"Aye, why not, laddie. It'll all come out now anyway." He holds out his glass again, and I refill it - for all the effect it's having, it might as well be water. "I've got Ryton's Disease. You'll probably not have heard of it - thankfully it's very rare, but it's incurable." The fear is strong in his eyes now. "I saw a case of it once when I was in the Merchant Service - my Chief at the time - he was a good man, and a fine engineer; I've never been able to forget it. It causes complete paralysis, and eventually total sensory loss - sight, hearing, speech, everything goes; but the brain remains aware. As long as sanity holds out, a prisoner inside your own head. The Chief lasted five years, but he was a lot older than I am - I'd have longer to go. I couldn't face it, Baillie. I thought of telling Bones, but once he knew, I'd have had to resign from the service formally; all those questions, routines, all the sympathy - I just couldn't take it. Oh, I wasn't relying on my own judgement, I consulted a doctor here on Sentas, and he confirmed it. I guess I must be a bit of a coward, but I decided just to disappear from the Enterprise, have a final fling, then take the quick way out. I should've realised that someone'd come after me, but like I said, I haven't been thinking too clearly. It's too late now."

For a few minutes I can't think of anything to say. No wonder the poor guy's scared; in his shoes I'd have done much the same. I'm also feeling a bit guilty - I set out to find him with the best intentions, but it seems all I've done is to prolong his agony. Then I get to thinking about Dr. Heston, and it comes to me that there's maybe a chance after all.

"Listen, Scotty," I say earnestly. "There's a few things you should know. That Dr. Heston - besides being one of the biggest crooks on Sentas, he's a Klingon agent. He's tied in with their security chief, Kolmak. Last night I broke in to his office and lifted his file on you. As soon as the Enterprise left Sentas, you were going to be handed over to Kolmak. You know what they'd do to get their hands on a Federation engineer. Isn't it just possible that in order to convince you to stay on Sentas, Heston faked your diagnosis?"

"It's the kind of thing you'd expect from the Klingons," admits Scotty, "but no, Baillie, I've got to face it - I had the symptoms long before we got to Sentas."

"That's just it," I break in impatiently. "You're no doctor - all you've really got to go on is your own fear. Come back to the Enterprise. See Dr. McCoy - at least you'll know for sure, and you can decide then what you want to do."

"Aye, I could do that; if I'd been in my right mind, I'd've trusted Bones from the start. Hold on, though - I can't go back. I'm a deserter, remember."

"Oh, no, you're not," I tell him. "The Captain faked a log entry extending your leave, he was so sure there was a good reason for your absence - you can go back whenever you like."

"That's the sort of thing Jim would do; but what did Spock have to say about it?"

"Spock? Oh, Spock only patched the fake tape in to the main log to cover you in case of trouble."

"Spock did?" Scotty's eyebrows rival the First Officer's best efforts. "Well, I'll be...! Don't tell me our tame Vulcan is developing a sentimental streak."

"Oh, you know him. He'll probably tell you it would be 'illogical' to lose our Chief Engineer, or something. Mind you, there have been times when I've wondered about him."

"Me too." Scotty stands up. "Well, let's get going. Will you do the honours, Mr. Baillie?"

"My pleasure, Mr. Scott." I pull out my communicator, and signal the Enterprise; in a few minutes we're caught up in the transporter effect.

* * * * * * * *

An hour later I'm sitting in the waiting room of sickbay pretending to read a magazine. Across the room Kirk has given up pretending; unconsciously he's been shredding the pages into confetti, a sure sign that he's nervous. Scotty is in sickbay with McCoy, having every test in the book run on him - plus a few that aren't if I know McCoy; and I do.

The door opens, and we both look up, but it's only Spock. I go back to my magazine, but I'm aware that the Vulcan's sharp eyes have seen the Captain's busily-working fingers. He goes over, bends down and says something that I don't catch. Jim looks up and smiles faintly; Spock touches him lightly on the shoulder for an instant, then takes the seat beside him. That's all there is to it, but the Captain's restless hands are now lying quietly in his lap.

Next time the door opens it's Nurse Chapel, who beckons us into the doctor's office. McCoy's there, beaming all over his face; and Scotty, grinning sheepishly.

"Tell, Bones?" asks Kirk anxiously.

"Migraine! Plain, old-fashioned migraine! The headaches, the visual distortions - a classic case. You're allergic to something you've eaten, Scotty my lad." McCoy's voice holds its most sarcastic note, but the blue eyes are suspiciously bright. "I'm beginning to wonder what I'm doing on this ship if you're all going to start playing doctors. All you need, Scotty, are a few chemical tests to find out what you're allergic to; cut that out, and you'll be right as rain."

"I do feel a bit of an idiot," confesses Scotty. "I'm sorry, Captain, Doctor - and thank you."

"Thank Mr. Baillie," says the Captain, turning to me. "He did all the work."

"Aye, don't I know it. Thank you, Mr. Baillie."

"Don't mention it, Mr. Scott. It's good to have you back."

"If you have all quite finished with this totally unnecessary display of emotion," says Spock, "I would remind Mr. Scott that during his absence several matters of importance have arisen, and are awaiting his attention in Engineering." And he looks totally blank when the rest of us collapse into helpless laughter.

* * * * * * * *

So that just about wraps it up. McCoy's tests reveal the cause of Scotty's allergy. No, not whisky - cheese.

I hear later from Dave Martin that Heston has been put away for some considerable time, thanks to the files I lifted from his office. Kolmak has landed in all kinds of trouble, thanks to his failure to hand over Scotty as promised; the Klingons give no marks for effort.

Me - I come out of it rather well. Dave's official report gives me most of the credit for Heston's arrest; and to show his appreciation, Scotty sends me a case of genuine, ten-year-old Scotch.

In fact, apart from Heston and Kolmak, over whom I don't shed any tears, the only one to come out of the whole affair badly is that hotel manager on Sentas - somehow Scotty never did get round to paying his hotel bill.


Copyright Valerie Piacentini