Author's note: This story began life as a playlet for my 4-H club, which had only five members over five feet tall. I was rather proud of the way I explained the multitude of short actors! (A few of them have been edited out in the course of this rewrite. I was never quite sure what to do with Aragorn or Zorro in the first place... asking lots of small kids what they'd like to act and then trying to cram the results into an eight-minute play is a DUMB idea!)
Due to the limitations of the stage, the story had to take place in one location - the bridge of the Enterprise - with no intercom, no viewscreen, and no turbolift doors. It was never actually performed because key actors moved away, so I've rewritten it here in hopes that somebody somewhere will enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything except a few minor bits of terminology, one rather farfetched pseudoscientific concept, and most of the dialogue.
Jim, We Shrunk the Helmsman
Captain's log, stardate 2293.6. The Enterprise is orbiting the planet Epsilon Aurigae 3. Since our transporter has malfunctioned and is unable to lock on to a communicator signal, we have had to beam up all life forms in the area in order to bring our landing party aboard.
Captain James T. Kirk finished his log recording just as the turbolift doors slid open. "Jim, this is ridiculous," the familiar voice of Bones McCoy grumbled. Kirk turned to see what the lanky medic meant, and stopped still. His mouth did not fall open, but his hazel eyes were certainly wider than usual.
McCoy was accompanied by four figures about three feet tall. One, in Starfleet uniform, might have been a junior version of Sulu the helmsman; the other three were... cats. Kittens. Juvenile felines. Three-foot-tall, two-legged, kittens!
"What's happened to Sulu?" Kirk demanded.
Before McCoy could answer, the kittens chorused, "We've lost our mittens, and we don't know where to find them!"
The doctor just shrugged, and when the kittens had finished talking, said, "Whatever it is, it's affected the whole landing party. And we got these kittens up instead of Wyss and Michaels."
"We've lost our mittens," the kittens repeated, "and we can't get them back!"
Spock turned and (of course) raised one eyebrow. "Doctor McCoy," he said. "Is it logical to assume that these kittens are not members of the landing party? Transporters can produce strange mutations."
Not this strange. Kirk could practically hear the retort forming in the doctor's head, but all Bones said was, "They aren't. Wyss and Michaels are in radio contact from the surface. They're still shrinking."
"And... let me guess," Kirk said. "Scotty says he'll keep trying to beam them up, but he can't make any promises?"
"He can't turn off the transporter!" Bones corrected. "And it's still on wide-range scan. We'll just have to hope we don't beam up too many of the natives while he works on it."
"Are all the natives... like these?" Kirk asked, waving vaguely at the kittens.
At that point, two female yeomen escorted an extremely large turtle through the turbolift doors onto the bridge, where it sat down with an air of finality. Spock promptly pulled out the tricorder he kept at his station and began scanning it.
"Uh, thank you, Yeomen," Kirk told them. "Dismissed."
"And he said he'll send any natives we do beam up, here to the bridge for you to deal with, so he can concentrate on his repairs," McCoy continued.
"The next thing he fixes had better be the intercom system," Kirk said. "Well, Spock?"
"It is a non-sapient life form physiologically equivalent to the Terran order Testudines," Spock stated.
McCoy rolled his eyes. "Can't you just say it's a turtle, Spock?"
"Specifically," the Vulcan continued, ignoring the interruption, "belonging to the family Testudinidae, species Geochelone elephantopus." He turned to McCoy. "It is a Galapagos giant tortoise, Doctor."
Bones scowled. "Uh, Sulu? I'd like to take you down to Sickbay for a more complete examination." As he left, escorting the downsized helmsman, the kittens followed him.
"Spock," Kirk ordered, "get that tortoise off the bridge."
Spock hadn't taken more than half a step toward the tortoise when a new voice--female if not exactly feminine--said "Ahem!"
Kirk twisted around in his chair and found that the voice's owner was a slim woman in black, standing in front of the turbolift doors as if she owned the ship and pointing a bright blue gun at his head.
"And just who are you?" he demanded crisply.
"I am Agent 13 of the WTO," the woman replied, her tone a strange mix of arrogant and cutesy. Kirk, though, was more interested in her words than her tone.
"WTO?" he asked. Wasn't that some kind of early attempt at a Terran economics council, or something?
"World Takeover Organization," the woman clarified. "We have taken over our world, and are now broadening our horizons. Now, if you'll introduce me to my new crew?" She waggled the gun, indicating that he should get out of the command chair and let her sit down.
Kirk managed not to do a double-take. "Spock," he suggested, his voice level but pointed, "why don't you begin by introducing her to the brig?"
The agent's gun twitched over to point at Spock. "This," she warned rather proudly, "is no ordinary gun. This is a fully-automated, lifetime-guarantee, Deluxe Patented Practical Disintegrator."
"Like this phaser?" McCoy asked, stepping out of the turbolift. Agent 13 whirled; Bones held up his empty hands and gave her his best jack-o'lantern grin while Spock moved smoothly in to apply the Vulcan neck pinch.
Kirk, trying not to smile at this example of teamwork between his least cooperative crew members, snapped "Report, Doctor?"
Bones was surrounded by the three kittens and one downsized red-shirt, whom Kirk recognized after a few seconds as the missing Security Guard Wyss. All four were trying to help him haul the unconscious agent into the turbolift; Spock had gone back to the turtle. At Kirk's words, the medic straightened up, looking vaguely puzzled.
"You were examining Sulu for some clue to this... problem."
"Oh." McCoy blinked. "He'll be all right. They should all return to normal size within a few days."
"What about the transporter? I see Wyss beamed up more or less fit for duty."
"He was lucky. Michaels is still down there, and still shrinking." McCoy finished heaving Agent 13 into the turbolift, then sat down on the edge of a console, shaking his head. "That's a crazy way to travel, Jim."
As soon as the turbolift doors closed on Wyss and his slowly reviving prisoner, Spock requested, "Doctor, would you assist me in removing this tortoise from the bridge?"
The kittens dashed around Kirk's command chair and started asking the tortoise if it had their mittens – they were certainly cats of one idea! Bones just looked up and grumbled, "Is it logical that a Vulcan should require human assistance, Spock?"
"When assistance is required, Doctor," Spock retorted, "a logical person takes advantage of whatever assistance is available." He did not actually say however useless it may be; his tone made that part perfectly clear.
Bones sighed, slid off the console, and began helping Spock push, pull, lift and shove at the huge tortoise.
After several minutes, Bones gave up and sat down next to the immovable reptile, wiping his forehead. "We'll have to lure it off somehow," he said. "Don't turtles eat small invertebrates?"
"I don't think we have any fishing worms aboard, Bones," Kirk told him.
"The point is moot," Spock stated, "since Galapagos tortoises are completely herbivorous."
Bones looked like he wanted to say I'm a doctor, not a turtle vet, but he didn't. Instead, still trying to be helpful, he suggested, "Sulu has a Cassiopeian skunk cabbage."
Kirk shook his head. "Not on my bridge."
"In Russia," Chekov the navigator piped up, "ve have a turtle vhich responds to musical wibrations."
McCoy stood up, blue eyes wide. "Musical vibrations?!"
"It is a possibility," Spock remarked. "Lieutenant Uhura, would you mind serenading our tortoise?"
Uhura had been asked to do much stranger things in the line of duty than sing to a tortoise. "What would you like me to sing, Spock?" she asked, kneeling on the floor in front of the creature.
Spock aimed his tricorder at the turtle's head. "Since this is an experiment to determine the tortoise's sensitivity to a given range of vibrations, the type of song is unimportant."
Uhura considered that for a second, then began to sing an old nonsense lullaby about turtle soup. "Beautiful Soup, so rich and green, waiting in a hot tureen; who for such dainties would not stoop? Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!"
The turtle put out its legs, turned right round so its head was away from the singer, and covered its ears.
"Vell," Chekov remarked reasonably, "perhaps it did not like the Lieutenant's choice of song."
Spock clicked a few buttons on his tricorder, looked at the screen, and said firmly, "Ensign, this creature reacts entirely by instinct. It could not have understood the words of the song."
"Then the wibrations vere wrong?" At Spock's rather abstracted nod, Chekov continued, "Perhaps ve should try a balalaika."
"Maybe you should try a harmonica," McCoy added sarcastically. "Or a church organ."
"Spock," Kirk suggested, "what about your Vulcan lyre?"
Spock was still fiddling with his tricorder. "The Vulcan lyre would have no effect, Captain," he announced after a few seconds, "but I have some skill with an instrument called a drexel--"
"Jim," Bones interrupted, "it's a cross between a tinwhistle and a kazoo."
"Bones, he can try a glockenspiel if he thinks it'll get that tortoise off my bridge!"
Spock took the drexel out of a drawer by his science station and began playing. The turtle raised its head, then got up and lumbered toward the sound. As Spock backed into the turbolift, still playing, Bones remarked dryly, "Spock, the Pied Piper of the Enterprise." Spock shot him a dirty look just as the turbolift doors closed.
Kirk sat down; as usual when anything important was going on, he'd stood up without noticing it. "Well, I'm glad that's over," he said to nobody in particular.
"Aren't you forgetting about Michaels?" McCoy demanded. "He's probably just about half a foot tall by now!"
Kirk had been talking about having a tortoise on the bridge, not the general situation. Chekov, alarmed by the doctor's blunt statement, started running some kind of check at Spock's science station, but before he could give any kind of report Spock returned.
"Very unlikely, Doctor," the Vulcan said. "Epsilon Aurigae is a binary star system. The varying positions of the two stars cause intermittent gravitational anomalies, hence the shrinking effect. Due to the continuing rotation of the star system, Technician Michaels should be no shorter than the other affected crewmen."
Before anybody could digest this bit of concentrated technobabble, Chekov--who had been concentrating on his work at the science station--announced "Keptin, Mr. Michaels has wanished!"
Kirk stood up abruptly and headed over to the science station.
"Sensors detect no life forms on planet surface," Chekov pointed out, rather apologetically.
"Then either the Enterprise or some other ship in the area must have beamed him aboard," Spock commented, ignoring the possibility that Michaels had shrunk down to nothingness; he'd just stated that that would not happen. No other ships had been detected in the area, but that simply implied that if there was another vessel it was cloaked.
"Chekov," Kirk ordered, "go see how Scotty's doing with the transporter." And the instant the transporter was fixed, their resident miracle worker had better start work on the intercom! Kirk headed back to his command chair. "Open all hailing frequencies," he ordered.
"Hailing frequencies open, Captain," Uhura announced.
Kirk shifted in his chair. "Captain Kirk of the Enterprise to all ships in this sector," he began.
"Ahem!" It was Agent 13's voice, coming not from the comm system but from the general area of the turbolift.
With a definite feeling of déjà vu, Kirk twisted around in his chair to take a look. At least the persistent WTO agent wasn't pointing a gun at his head this time; she had her hands on her hips and looked, if possible, even more arrogant and cutesy than before.
"How did you get back up here?" Kirk demanded.
"I escaped!" Agent 13 announced cheerily, "using my electro-photonic inverter to dilapidate the force field." She held up something that looked rather like a hypospray with a blue light on one end. "I am holding your geological technician hostage aboard my own cruiser." She pulled out another gadget, clicked a button, and her ship appeared on the viewscreen. "When you surrender your ship to me, he will be released."
"That's insane!" Kirk retorted automatically. Before he could say anything more, the turbolift doors slid open behind the agent and Chekov entered.
"Keptin," he announced, "Mr. Scott has repaired the transporter. These mittens had materialized inside the mechanism." He held up three small pairs of mittens.
"Our mittens!" chorused the kittens. "We've found our mittens! Now we can have some pie!" They grabbed the mittens from the startled ensign and scooted into the turbolift. McCoy, following them, muttered "I'll have Scotty beam Michaels over." He looked rather worn out.
Agent 13 walked right up to Kirk and poked him with the electro-photonic inverter. "As an agent of the WTO," she insisted, "I am your new commander. Excuse me, please!"
Kirk didn't know quite what that gadget did, but it obviously wasn't a weapon or the agent would have been pointing it at him all along. "Spock," he ordered, "take her down to sickbay for a psychiatric examination."
Spock took Agent 13's arm in a sort of Vulcan judo grip and escorted her toward the turbolift. As they left, the agent shouted "This is outrageous! I demand to see a lawyer!"
McCoy came in with Sulu and--finally--Michaels. "Security's rounded up all the natives and Scotty's beaming them back down," he announced. "We shouldn't have any more trouble."
"Good!" said Kirk. "Sulu, prepare to warp us out of here." Maybe he could get the whole crew a short furlough somewhere relaxing. They'd certainly earned it.
The turbolift hissed open and soft paws tapped him on the shoulder. "Uh, Mr. Captain?" chorused the hesitant voices of the three kittens. "We lost our mittens again."