"Day of the Inquisitors"
  Issue Number 16

Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Alberto Giolitti
Stardate: 45:25.2
Issue Date: November 1972
Cover Price: 15 cents


Cover Blurb:
   Missing in action - on a dark age planet!

   Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Mr. Chekov and Public Relations Officer Claire are returning to the Enterprise in the shuttlecraft Galileo, after a diplomatic mission to Tarsus IV. Spock picks up a cluster of spheroid objects on the sensor, which are hurtling toward the shuttlecraft at tremendous speed. "Then set up the deflector shields, Mr. Spock" Kirk says, "and get us out of the way!". "Impossible Captain!" Spock replies, "There is a malfunction in the system. We are no longer in control of this ship!". The Galileo is battered severely by the meteor storm. After it has passed, Spock reports that the shuttle is far off course, and unable to steer at all. The shuttle is caught in the gravitational field of a nearby planet and begins to be pulled down into the atmosphere!

   As Mr. Spock desperately tries to regain control, the shuttle plummets through the atmosphere of the planet, leaving a flaming trail in the sky. Just before they smash into the ground, Spock is able to pull the nose of the shuttle up, and bring them to a hard landing in a forest. The passengers of the Galileo are all right, however the shuttle is wrecked beyond repair. The communications system is also damaged, so the party is unable to contact the Enterprise for help. The group sets off looking for help. Mr. Chekov discovers a road, and the group follows it to the edge of the forest, where they discover a city.

   Two men wearing medieval costumes and carrying swords are guarding the gates to the city. Kirk and Spock sneak up on them, and knock them both out with punches. (No reason given why they don't simply ask for help) Once inside the city, the group sees several figures wearing black, hooded robes dragging an old man down the street. "Those short odds have never appealed to me", Kirk says, "I think I'll see what I can do to even them up a bit!". He and the others attack the hooded men, driving them away. "Flee! Flee! The Dark One guides their hand!", the men shout as they run away. The old man thanks Kirk for saving his life, and the Captain asks him why the robed men were carrying him away.

   "They were three of the Inquisitors, those who rule my land" says the man. "A plague of madness covers the land my friends, and t'was the inquisitors who spread the seeds! They hold the people in a tightly clenched fist, and they refuse to let go! Anyone who opposes them is dragged off to their castle's darkest chambers and made to confess to his 'crimes'! That is where they were taking me when you intervened. I am called Corben! The inquisitors have branded me a heretic!".

   On the Enterprise, Scotty is preparing to initiate emergency procedures to find the shuttle craft, when Uhura receives a message from Starfleet Command ordering the ship to head to Sigma Quadrant, where a planetary disaster has occurred. Scotty refuses to abandon the search, and orders Mr. Sulu to adjust sensors for "sectional space probe". "We ain't leavin' here till we locate the Cap'n" Scotty says, "even if it means I risk a court martial doin' it!

   It is night on the planet surface. Kirk and the others don local clothing in order to blend in, and then Corben cautiously leads them through the city alleyways in search of needed parts to repair the shuttlecraft's damaged communications equipment. Corben tells the group that he will take them to a nearby rebel camp in the mountains, for assistance. Just then, the party sees a number of robed Inquisitors passing nearby - carrying the damaged radio equipment from the shuttle craft to their castle! Spock recommends that they make contact with the rebels before trying to enter the castle and rescue the radio gear. "By that time, it might be too late!" Kirk says, "We can't take that chance! Corben will lead McCoy and me to the rebel camp while you three head for the castle! Don't do anything foolish, Mr. Spock! I don't want the Enterprise to rescue a bunch of dead men!".

   Wearing the black robes of the Inquisitors, Spock, Chekov and Claire are able to approach the castle guards without being challenged. Spock quickly disables them using the Vulcan nerve pinch, and the three proceed to search for the missing radio.

    Meanwhile, the Enterprise continues its search for the shuttle. Mr. Sulu reports that the ship has covered less than half of the possible alternative flight paths of the shuttle craft thus far. Uhura receives a signal from Starfleet Command, ordering the ship to abandon the search. "Give up our search?" Scotty asks, "Then they've just ordered me to let my best friends die!".

   In the castle, Spock discovers that the radio equipment is being held in a tightly guarded room. Chekov approaches the guards in order to create a diversion. "You, sir, are the lop-eared son of a wulcan vater-beetle!" he says to them. While they are looking his direction, Spock and Claire knock them out. Inside the room, the Inquisitors hear the sounds of the nearby struggle and are also distracted. "Perhaps the minions of the Dark One have come to regain their evil machines", one Inquisitor says to another. Spock sneaks out of the shadows and begins collecting the radio equipment, but is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head from behind.

   When he awakens, Spock finds himself a prisoner along with the others, in a large throne room filled with guards, before the leader of the Inquisitors. "So evil ones, you awaken at last!" the man says. "Would that all minions of the dark one could be overcome so easily!". Spock tries to explain their situation, and asks for the return of the radio equipment. "So", the Grand Inquisitor says, "you admit these black-cursed mechanisms are yours!". He orders Spock to show him how to use the equipment. When Spock refuses, the Grand Inquisitor orders the three taken away to the interrogation chambers.

   In the mountain camp, Kirk convinces the leader of the rebel forces to assist him in storming the castle, telling him that it will give his people a foothold against the Inquisitors. The rebel leader gathers his warriors together, and they head for the castle with Kirk and McCoy leading the way.

   Inside the castle, the Inquisitors torture Spock with whips. "Astounding!" one says, "Never before has anyone withstood such punishment without uttering the slightest sound! You are truly cursed with demon powers!". "No", Spock replies, "I have no mystic talents, only my Vulcan ability to disregard pain". Enraged, the Inquisitor threatens to beat Claire instead. To save her, Spock agrees to tell him everything he wishes to know.

   On board the Enterprise, Uhura receives another call from Starfleet, demanding that the ship go to the Sigma Quadrant, where the disaster situation is growing worse by the hour. "Maybe they're right" Scotty says, "Maybe it's time we did! Somehow I know that's what Jim would want us to do! Plot a course for the Sigma Quadrant, Mr. Sulu! If we don'a find a trace of the Cap'n within thirty solar minutes, we're givin' him up fer dead!".

   Kirk and McCoy arrive with the rebels at the Inquisitor's castle. Using their phasers, the two men blast away the castle doors, and the rebels pour inside. "Our phasers are useless, Bones!" the Captain shouts, as hand to hand combat breaks out, "From this point on we make it on sheer muscle power!". "Then I hope I can remember my intergalactic judo lessons!" McCoy replies. Kirk watches stunned, as the Doctor lifts one attacker above his head, and throws him to the side! The two men fight their way to the room where Spock and the others are being held captive, and break inside. They quickly take the Inquisitors and their guards prisoner, and the rebels capture the castle.

   Spock is able to get the radio equipment operating, and calls the ship for help. "We'd almost given ye up fer lost, Mr. Spock!" Scotty shouts over the radio, "What happened to ye?". "Time enough to discuss that later on, Scotty!" the Captain answers. "Just beam us out of here now!". As they dematerialize, Kirk wishes the leader of the rebels, Karad, good luck with his new found freedom. Once back on the Enterprise, Kirk orders the ship to Sigma Quadrant at warp eight to answer the distress signal. "What will you report to Star Fleet about the past day's adventure?" Spock asks the Captain. "That we accomplished our mission on Tarsus IV" Kirk replies, "and that we crash-landed on a planet with a medieval civilization, which just took step one out of the dark ages!". "Let's hope, Captain, that it was a permanent one!" Spock adds.

(Summary by Mark Lookabaugh)

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