The director counted off seconds to himself while his actors stood transfixed on the
Transporter platform in attitudes of heroic attentiveness.
"Action," McEveety said.
William Shatner stepped forward briskly, and the camera panned around to follow him.
His foot slipped, and he stepped down with a thud.
"Cut. Oh, God," said McEveety. It was becoming more a genuine prayer than a simple
curse by now.
Shooting had not gone well that day, and on top of everything else, he had a small herd -
or horde - he wasn't sure which word fit better - of visitors. Normally, he'd have thrown
them out, but they were high-up something-or-others, and he always felt hesitant about
telling the producer to take his guests and get out.
"Sorry about that," said Shatner.
"Well, it wasn't your fault." McEveety sighed.
"The blame's a foot," said Shatner solemnly, then chortled at his own joke.
McEveety winced. "Take five while I recover from that," he said and went into a huddle
with the cameraman. Slips aside, he still wasn't satisfied with the smoothness of the pan.
Leonard Nimoy went to his chair and plunked down. One visitor came up and asked for
an autograph, saying how much she liked Mr. Spock.
"Thank you, thank you!" said Nimoy, as cordially as late-afternoon sleepiness allowed,
and pumped her hand vigorously. When he had signed the autograph, however, he
excused himself and opened his script to check his lines.
The fan watched reverently for a moment, then wandered off to request other autographs.
Shatner chatted with the visitors, finding it easier to relax in conversation than in sitting
still, and DeForest Kelly joined James Doohan (waiting patiently behind the Transporter
controls) for a quiet gripe-and-grumble over the odds against their finished at a reasonable
After a few minutes, they were called back to the Transporter, and dutifully stiffened
themselves into the "beaming" pose.
The clipboard slammed, McEveety counted the
seconds needed to cover the special effect, and said hopefully, "Action!"
But the hope that this take would go right was promptly spoiled.
For a moment the actors
wondered if they were fainting; there were spots before their eyes and they felt dizzy, as if
they had been kneeling and then had stood up too quickly. But their vision cleared, and
they were still standing on the Transporter platform.
Shatner, hoping to salvage the take,
stepped forward and said authoritatively, "Scotty, get a report on that power source and
meet me in the briefing room."
"Power source, Captain?" said the man behind the panel in a tone of utter bewilderment.
"There goes the take," muttered Nimoy disgustedly. "What's the matter with you,
"The captain's all right, to all appearances, but begging your pardon, Mr. Spock, are you?"
Nimoy suddenly noticed that they were in a room with four walls and a ceiling, and with
no camera or lights around (except for normal room lighting, apparently coming out of
concealed ceiling panels). Nimoy dropped characterization and broke into a wide grin as
he looked around "Beautiful!" he said. "Whose idea was this? Justman's?" This mock-up
must have cost a mint. How'd you get us here?"
"I....I think there's something wrong," said Kelley.
"Aye, Doctor, there is that, seemingly."
"How about dropping the accent?" said Nimoy.
"Mr. Spock!" Lieutenant-Commander Montgomery Scott blazed with righteous
Kelley spoke quickly. "Captain, will you give me a hand getting him to Sickbay?"
Shatner nodded, and they each took one of Nimoy's arms, prepared to hustle him out into
the corridor. By this time, however, he too had counted up the costs of scene design and
construction. James Doohan could have gone on improvising in the tones of outraged
Scottishness all day without breaking, but Matt Jeffries just didn't have the budget to have
built the room they were in.
The door swooshed open at their approach, and all three knew, even before they got past
it, that they were on board the Enterprise. The pneumatic door-sound was supposed to be
added by Glen Glenn Sound. They had never before heard it in real life. The door
swooshed shut behind them, and they stood still for a moment, feeling totally lost.
"Nice going, De," said Shatner, trying to recover some poise. "Now, how the hell do we
find the Sickbay?"
"Go to the elevator and say "Sickbay?" suggested Kelley.
"Yeah," said Nimoy, "that's right, they work on voice commands, don't they? Sorry I blew
"Well," said Shatner, "if it weren't impossible, it's exactly the sort of thing Justman would
"Sort of thing you'd pull, as far as that goes, if you thought you could break me up,"
The elevator obediently took them down a few levels. Fortunately, they found the
Sickbay a few doors away, saving them the embarrassment of being caught reading the
labels beside the doors. Kelley shivered at the sight of the familiar room. He picked up a
diagnostic instrument. It looked just like its counterpart, but it was heavier than the salt
shaker. He cocked it experimentally at Nimoy. It promptly emitted a wavering whistle,
and he dropped it.
Shatner and Nimoy burst out laughing.
The tension eased a little.
"Well, it's, you know, spooky," Kelley complained, restoring the instrument to its place in
what he had always thought of as a glorified medicine cabinet.
"You mean "Spoocky,'" said Shatner.
"Wait'll we get on the bridge, and see how you feel," said Kelley, ignoring the pun.
Leonard, tell me what goes on in that viewer of yours, okay?"
"We're not going to pretend we really are those guys are we?" said Nimoy.
"Why not?" asked Shatner wickedly. "No, you're right," he said, thinking better of it.
"Scotty would be the senior officer, wouldn't he? Let's go back and-"
It took Shatner a moment to identify it as the sound effect - no, the sound - of the
intercom. He stepped to the table and flicked the intercom switch with the nonchalance of
long practice. "Kirk here," he said to the face that appeared on the screen.
"Captain, we're under attack," said Sulu.
"On my way," said Shatner, and switched off the intercom. He stood, wondering what he
was waiting for, and realized it was a director to say "Cut." He looked helplessly at the
others and shrugged. They headed for the door together.
The elevator took them to the bridge on their command. Shatner was startled by the size
of the bridge. It took him several steps to get to his chair, not the few he was used to. It
seemed strange to sit down and stare at a main viewscreen with a picture already on it. It
showed a typical view of stars-and-planet. The planet showed flat black-they were over
the night side. There were no larger lights that might be moons or other planets. Shatner
found the loneliness of the dull-black-on-deep-black sight depressing.
Kelley crossed to a point behind the chair and stood there wondering, not for the first
time, if the doctor really had any business being there.
Nimoy went to Spock's station and
looked into the viewer. To his disappointment, it was dark. He suspected that the dial on
the side turned it on, but realized it would look odd if he tried it and it was wrong. He sat
down in Spock's chair, feeling useless, and glanced at the others, wondering if they felt as
ill-at-ease in the masquerade as he did. They at least were real humans, if not real Star
Fleet officers, whereas he might be spotted as a fake alien.
"Report, Mr. Sulu," said Shatner crisply.
"Smart-ass," muttered Nimoy, unable to keep himself from resenting Shatner's (seeming)
confidence in his ability to keep up appearances. He spoke a little louder than he meant
to, and drew a look of shocked disbelief from Uhura. He raised an eyebrow in a typically
Spock look of surprise at her, and she turned back to her board, wondering if she was
hallucinating. Nimoy, suddenly feeling better, turned a Spockishly cool look of
expectancy on Sulu.
"Nothing the deflectors can't handle, Captain," said Sulu. "The Klingons are trying to
warn us away."
"That doesn't seem like the Klingon thing to do," Shatner commented.
"There's the treaty," Kelley said doubtfully, and was relieved to see both Sulu and Chekov
nod in agreement.
"Still no claim made to the planet by the Klingons, sir," Uhura said.
Chekov shifted uneasily in his seat, obviously on fire with some kind of curiosity. Shatner
was afraid that he'd have no hope of answering anything the young man might want to ask
of Kirk. he reflected however, that a question might contain in its phrasing the answers to
some of the questions he could not ask. "Yes, Mr. Checkov?" he said.
"Was there anything on the planet's surface to explain Klingon interest, Captain?"
Shatner hesitated. He didn't know what Kirk and his landing party might have found. But
he couldn't very well say yes, so...."No."
"Illogical, Captain," said Nimoy.
Shatner turned around in his chair and stared.
Nimoy continued. "If the landing party found nothing, it does not necessarily follow that
there was nothing there to find."
Shatner went on staring, and clamped his teeth shut over the giggle. He sat quite still,
except for the jerking in the muscles at the back of his jaw.
Nimoy stared back and felt his own control going. "Further research is indicated,
Captain," he said quickly. He knew that hastiness was wrong for Spock, but he had no
choice. He headed for the elevator without waiting for permission. Once inside, he leaned
against the far wall, let his head droop against his chest, and laughed himself out of breath.
Caught on the bridge, Shatner held himself rigid and tried to distract himself with thoughts
of the Klingon menace. The ploy took sudden effect as it occurred to him that he could
actually get killed by Klingon phaserbanks or photon torpedoes, or other equally
improbable gadgets. "Uhura," he said, "try hailing the Klingon captain."
"Aye, sir," she said, and played a little medley of electronic bleeps on her board. "Ready
on visual," she said after a moment.
Shatner turned his head back to face the screen and marveled as the picture blurred out,
came back into focus, and showed him the familiar gray, armorial uniforms. To his
surprise, he found the face above also familiar. "Commander Kor!" he said.
"Not exactly," Kor said. "My rank is now equivalent to commodore. Perhaps the
Federation does not appreciate your true worth, Captain."
"Perhaps," said Shatner, smiling affable. Even if he had felt a truly personal interest in the
insult, he would have been distracted by the sight of Kor's aide. Kor had the common dark
skin and bifurcated eyebrows, but the officer behind him had light skin and unbranched
eyebrows. The two were clearly from different races of the same species. "Fred Phillips
should be here," Shatner said to Kelley.
Kelley nodded, remembering Phillips's anguish at discovering he'd done inconsistent
makeups on Klingons the second time they used them.
"Indeed?" said Kor. "And who is Mr. Phillips?"
"Well," said Shatner, "let's say he's a student of the Klingon face."
"A spy," said Kor thoughtfully. "Inactive, I assume, or you would not reveal his name."
"Yes, said Kelly, "by now he'd be dead." His feet were beginning to hurt from standing so
long after a hard day's work, so he went to Spock's chair and sat down heavily. Kor
mistook the weariness for emotion.
"Mr. Phillips was a friend of yours, gentlemen?" he said with mock sympathy.
Shatner grinned. "Yes. But tell me, Commodore, do you generally use peaceful vessels
for target practice? You fired at us, I believe?"
"Scarcely that, Captain," Kor said. "Call it a salute. We have both, after all, been
exploring this planet - I have reported it to the Empire under the name of Kahless. If you
have not thought to give it a name of your own, perhaps you would do well to adopt this
"But that could be a transparent trick?" Said Shatner. There was a pause, while the
translation devices footnoted the pun for the Klingons and Kirk's crew puzzled over the
captain's unusual turn of humour.
"Hostility can be a spur to endeavor," Kor said at last. "My scientists have found nothing
of value on Kahless, I admit, yet your interest in it has caused me to report to our
governments that I claim it for the Klingon Empire. If you wish to dispute the claim, of
course, we must arrange for arbitration. Unless you care to return my fire?"
"I'll take it under consideration," said Shatner. He detected a real enthusiasm for battle in
the Klingon's offers. "Kirk out."
The screen blurred back to its picture-postcard view.
"They must have found something!" exclaimed Chekov.
"Not necessarily, Ensign," said Shatner. He tried to think of a way to get more
information. "De...." he said softly, finding himself at a loss.
"Who got-" Kelly started out. He paused to rephrase it, to suggest that he knew the
answer. "After all," he said firmly, "who got here first?" Surely someone on the bridge
had the temperament to answer rhetorical questions.
"Wery true, Doctor," said Chekov.
Kelley spread one hand out toward Shatner in a you-can't-win gesture. He halted it
midway as Chokov went on, "But, then, why did they wait to exercise right to claim, when
they had clear priority?"
"An excellent question, Mr. Chekov," said Shatner. "I think it merits discussion."
He stood up and nodded at Kelley. "Bones...." He turned to Uhura. "Lieutenant, have Spock
and Scotty meet us..." He hesitated, wondering if he could figure out a way to find the
briefing room. "....in Dr. McCoy's office."
Nimoy was already there when they reached Sickbay. He would have preferred the
privacy of Spock's quarters, once he'd gotten over his spasm of laughter, but he couldn't
remember what level it was supposed to be on, and so had gone back to a place he was
sure of finding.
Nurse Chapel had come in once, looking for Dr. McCoy. Nimoy, covering for his fellow
impostor, had said that the doctor was helping investigate the current Klingon problem.
Then it occurred to him that he had better cover for himself too, so he’d said he was also
researching the problem and asked to be left alone. By then he was curious enough to
want to try looking into it himself.
Shatner and Kelley found him seated at McCoy’s table, staring intently into the viewer.
"What’re you doing?" asked Kelley.
"Looking at the landing party’s report," said Nimoy.
"What?" said Kelley.
"How?" said Shatner.
Both men crowded around to look over Nimoy’s shoulder. The viewer showed a shifting
scene, taken during daylight hours. Apparently whoever held the tricorder was turning in
a circle. The view went around from sparse meadowland reaching out to khaki-colored
mountains, to dry sand blowing in a heavy wind and ocean beyond, and across a
high-water mark to set sand and a wide bay of bright blue. A seagullish, sandy-yellow bird
swooped into view, grabbing some kind of mussel from among the sea creatures caught
out on the wet sand. A crab scuttled away from the bird’s attack, and made it to the
safety of the water. Meanwhile, the view kept turning, sweeping rapidly across the bay,
and coming back up past wet sand and dry sand to the meadow.
"All it needs is a boardwalk," said Nimoy dreamily.
At the meadow, the view had stopped, becoming a still picture. Nimoy touched a switch,
and the screen cut to a computer print-out of information on the life forms present.
"You’ve really got the thing under control," said Shatner admiringly.
The door opened.
Nimoy said, "Well, I called the computer on the intercom and asked how to run this thing,
"Amnesia, Doctor?" Scott asked Kelley, staring at Nimoy with deep pity.
"Sit down," said Shatner. "You’re in for a shock. We’re not who you think we are."
Scott, without moving, examined them minutely.
"Aye," he said. "It’s a brilliant job, but I can see where the ears went on. May I ask why
you’re telling me this?"
"We need your help," said Shatner.
"Do you now?" said Scott. He had slowly been moving his hands down. One hand
suddenly came whipping up with a phaser in it. "You’re three to one, but I’m armed," he
said softly. He would not have been carrying a phaser aboard ship normally, but they had
been on yellow alert since discovering the Klingon ship, and Kirk had had phasers issued
generally before beaming down with the landing party.
The three actors couldn’t help grinning at first. It was difficult for them to believe that the
little object he was pointing at them was a weapon, not a prop.
Scott was surprised at their reaction, but did not let it stop him from backing toward the
"Wait a moment," said Kelley. "What do you think we are?"
the accusation provoked open laughter, and Scott halted in surprise.
"Scotty, this is going to be hard for you to believe," said Shatner.
Scott nodded grimly. "I agree," he said.
"We’re actors," said Shatner. "We come from the past-the past of another universe
entirely, I suppose. Damnit, it’s a TV series," he said, throwing his hands out at the room
around them. "This room’s a set; the ship’s a model; we’re actors in a science-fiction
"It’s like that script where we went into a parallel universe where the Enterprise was run
by cruel people, sort of like pirates," said Kelley helpfully.
"The ISS Enterprise of the Terran Empire," said Scott. "I was there."
"That’s the one," said Nimoy. "Where Spock had a beard."
Scott jerked his head over to stare at Nimoy. "That detail wasna in the captain’s report."
He sighed, shook his head and put the phaser back on his belt. "Well gentlemen, and if
you’re not them, then where are they?"
The actors looked at each other. "Back at the studio?" asked Kelley.
"Probably," said Shatner. He turned to Scott. "They’re in Los Angeles, California, in the
twentieth century. We think."
"A multi-parallel, space-time inversion," said Scott. "It’s a pretty problem. I'll do what I
can to find a way to reverse the situation, but you gentlemen had best stay away from the
bridge meanwhile. There’s no call to alarm the whole ship, especially at a time like this."
He started out, muttering. "If the paraspatial anomalies...."
"Er...Scotty," said Shatner hesitantly, "could you at least tell us what’s going on? What is
all this about the planet?"
Scott stopped. "So you truly dinna know? Well.....no more you would." He looked
grave. "It’s like this: these Klingons have found a star system. It isn’t much of a system
for anything we can see - no strategic importance, one star, one planet, no satellites, no
minerals to speak of - but there they are and no signs of budgin’, although they wouldna
claim it until it looked as if we might. you took - that is, the captain took a landing party
down to investigate the planet."
"Have you looked at the reports they sent up while they were on the surface?" asked
"No, I had to deal with the Klingons while the reports were coming in. And after that...."
Scott shrugged. "I wasna aware that I was in command. If you’ll excuse me, there’s
work to be done." He turned to go.
"What if Kor wants to talk to the captain again?" asked Shatner.
"Aye," said Scott thoughtfully. "And, at that, I could keep a closer watch on what you’re
up to if you’re on the bridge."
"We’ve done a pretty good job of playing our parts so far," said Kelley tartly, resenting
the implications of a close watch.
Scott looked at him closely, then nodded. "thank you, gentlemen," he said and left.
"Back to the salt mines," murmured Shatner.
The three started out the door. As they passed the table, Nimoy leaned over to turn off
Shatner watched him thoughtfully. "Why did you ask if he’d seen the reports?"
"Oh, I dunno, Bill. Somehow I got the feeling he hadn’t, but..."
Kelley winced as the door swooshed open for them and closed behind them. The noise
was getting on his nerves.
Chekov looked up hopefully as they came back on the bridge.
"No conclusions, Mr. Chekov," Shatner told him. On impulse, he added, "Do you have
Chekov looked pleased to be asked, but shook his head. "No, Captain. What would
anyone want with that moonless, peopleless...."
"Moonless?" said Nimoy.
"Yes, Mr. Spock," said Chekov. "Observations of system....."
"But it has tides." Nimoy had grown up in a coastal town, and liked to sail with his family.
He knew what a lunar tide looked like. "Check the coastlines, and you’ll see."
"They could be solar tides," said Uhura. She looked over at Nimoy for an opinion on the
Nimoy, lacking Spock’s scientific training, was quite unqualified to give any such opinion.
He sat still, trying to think of a way to avoid answering.
Shatner recognized the danger and used Kirk’s authority to get around it "That’s a
possibility," he said. "Chekov, let’s see you test it."
Chekov left his post and came over to Spock’s station. Nimoy made room for him and the
young man bent over Spock’s equipment. Nimoy gazed over his shoulder, trying to look
"Solar influence not great enough to account for tides," Chekov reported a minute later.
"Lunar influence seems necessary."
"Very good, Mr. Chekov" said Nimoy judiciously.
Chekov, however, looked unhappy. He worked a few moments more, then said, "Perhaps
you should check me, sir. Sensors show nothing in position indicated for moon by tidal
"Unnecessary," said Shatner quickly.
Chekov smiled sheepishly, pleased and a little surprised at winning unqualified approval
from his demanding superiors.
"Perhaps.....an invisible moon," mused Shatner. "Sounds like Romulan work."
Uhura said, "But these are Klingons - " She broke off, reconsidered, and ended her
sentence "- and they have an alliance with the Romulans."
Sulu jumped in excitedly, "And we know the Romulans have been working to improve
their cloaking devices. But the power involved in blanketing a whole moon....!"
"Well," said Shatner, "just goes to show what researchers will come up with, left to their
"Very funny," said Kelley. "Now what do we do, go steal the new, improved cloaking
There was a silence, during which the three actors realized that the junior officers thought
it quite possible that they ought to try just that.
"It’s an engineering advance," said Shatner when he had his voice under control. "Uhura,
locate Scotty and tell him what we’ve uncovered. I want his opinion."
A moment later Uhura had Scott’s image on one of the smaller viewscreens. A
Transporter console, with some of its panels open, was visible beside him. His irritation at
being interrupted faded out as Uhura briefed him.
"No wonder they had to claim the planet," he said when she was finished. "If they’d gone
on squatting there with no pretense of interest, it would ha’ dawned on us in the end that
they had to be interested in something else." he grinned suddenly. "Well done....Captain."
Shatner grinned back. "Any suggestions on how Federation gets hold of the new cloaking
"How the Federation....Oh, I take your meaning, "said Scott, realizing that Shatner
wanted to know what Kirk would do and if he ought to do it. Scott shook his head.
"We’d maybe do best to let them think we’re fooled. Given the hint, our scientists can
find the way to do what they’ve done. We’ll have the advantage of knowing what they
know - and beyond that, the advantage of their not knowing that we know." He hesitated
and then said slyly, "For the matter of that, sir, I think I could show you a bonny trick of
disappearing, if you’ll meet me down here."
"Very well, Scotty," said Shatner casually. "Kirk out." He nodded to Nimoy and Kelley.
Scott hadn’t been able to tell them exactly where "down here" was, but they assumed it
was the same Transporter they’d appeared in. After a little confusion in finding the right
level, they located it easily enough.
"But, Captain," Scott was saying as they entered, "we’ve got to pull you back in the next
five minutes, before the anomaly shifts." He glanced sideways at them. "And I’ve got
three gentlemen here very anxious to go home."
"Right, Scotty. Set it up, and we’ll get onto the platform. Kirk out."
Nimoy and Kelley shot quick looks at Shatner to be sure he really hadn’t spoken. Shatner
himself felt a little unsure. He found it upsetting to hear his own voice coming out of
someone else’s mouth.
"Ah....gentlemen...." Scott nodded at the Transporter.
They hurriedly placed themselves back on the little circles.
Kelley asked curiously, "Do you really think they shouldn’t try to steal the cloaking
Scott shrugged. "That’s my opinion. The final decision’ll be up to the captain." The fact
seemed to please him.
The room faded out, and when it came back, the fourth wall was gone. Hot lights blazed
down at them through a nonexistent ceiling. All three sighed with relief.
Shatner stepped forward and said eagerly, "Gene, you will never believe where we’ve just
Another take ruined. The director gave up and called a halt for the day.