A secret space lab wants Mr. Spock's help - as a guinea pig!
While heading out on "data maneuvers" to the unexplored
Triquilus regions, the Enterprise detects an object of incredible mass and
weight, moving slowly through space. The object turns out to be a planet,
however Mr. Spock reports that it is moving not in orbit around anything, but in
a straight line! Bright glowing rings around the world serve the purpose of its
absent sun. Sensors show that there is life on the planet. Captain Kirk orders
the ship to take orbit, and beams down to the surface along with Mr. Spock, Lt.
Uhura, Mr. Sulu and two others crew members to investigate.
"Captain, it's beautiful!" exclaims Uhura when they arrive. "I've
never seen anything like it!" "Yes, stunning" replies Kirk, "Still,
all that beauty could be hiding something. Be alert!" "Captain"
Spock comments, "I fail to grasp why humans cannot face beauty without
doubting or destroying it, or both!" At that moment, the landing party is
attacked by a carnivore. (Which looks amazingly similar to an Earth panther)
Kirk is able to stop the creature with a phaser blast, however more of them
begin attacking from all sides. In addition, a huge flock of carnivorous birds
begins circling overhead! As the landing party defends itself, a group of
humanoids wearing Japanese-style clothing appears. "Strangers" calls
out a Samurai Warrior, "fall on the ground! We shall drive off the beasts!"
They quickly do so, by performing strange movements. "If I'm not
mistaken" says Sulu, "they're using a variation of Samurai technique
used in ancient Japan!" The aliens then offer their hospitality , and
lead the Enterprise crew back to their village.
"Welcome travelers!" says a another young woman, "I am
Oshino of the Third Dan! This is the Imperial City of Shondo Ho! Come! We
have quarters waiting, Yamoto saw your arrival!" Uhura is overcome by the
beautiful city, with its temples and gardens. "Captain" she says, "it's
perfect! It's like those cities I vid-sorbed as a child!" Oshino
introduces them to a well-muscled man named "Ekoe of the First Dan",
who is to see to their needs. Later, in their quarters, Kirk and Spock discuss
their findings. "We would seem to be surrounded by absolute perfection"
Spock comments, "a harmony between human beings, nature and architecture!
Yet in all our travels, I've found humans incapable of such perfection! Also,
of all the people I've observed, large numbers look alike! Out of over one
hundred people, I've seen only six faces!" "Androids" Kirk
replies, "but the tricorder says they're human! Something doesn't add up!"
Over the next several days, Oshino spends quite a bit of time with Kirk
and the others, seeming equally curious about them as they are about her. At
one point, Ekoe questions one of Oshino's statements, and she is shocked! "Yes,
I know" Ekoe says, "is is genetically impossible for a First Dan to
question! Yet I have. Explain that to me!" The Enterprise crew is
confused. Later, Oshino tells an elder about Ekoe's transgression. "We
have only one course" the elder says. "He is one of 'them' and must
be dealt with accordingly!"
Spock meets privately with Ekoe later, as the man is constructing a
delicate model of a temple. When the Vulcan questions him about it, Ekoe
becomes very upset. "Constructing, Spock?" he shouts, "How can I
be constructing. I'm a First Dan! My functions do not allow for creating!
This is merely a semi-quadranial psi-sided conversional nothing!" Spock
is curious about Ekoe's unhappiness. Later, while on an exploration trip in the
wilderness, Spock returns to the area where they first encountered the
panther-like carnivores. "I believe they're guarding something!" he
thinks to himself. His suspicions are correct! Deep in the wilderness, he
discovers a huge temple. Tricorder reading indicate tremendous life force
emanations from within, but like nothing ever encountered before. Spock sneaks
inside the temple for a closer look.
Meanwhile, back in the village, Ekoe gives Kirk and the others his
model, and tells them of his desire to leave the planet. Just then, a group of
guards wearing masks breaks into the room to take Ekoe away. "Kirk no!"
shouts Ekoe, "They are collectors, they want to take me to the Garden of
Eternity to execute me!" "He is a mutant" replies one of the
guards, "A mental deviate! You hold the proof. That model is beyond the
capabilities of a normal First Dan!" The Enterprise crew fights the
guards to protect Ekoe, but Oshino arrives with reinforcements. "Please,
you must stop" she tells Kirk, "or they will be forced to strike you
down! There is nothing you can do!"
Ekoe and other "defectives" are put to death in the Garden of
Eternity, while a shocked landing party watches. (Except for Spock, who is
still missing) "Horrible Captain!" Uhura exclaims. "Slaughtered
like their lives had no meaning! No reality!" Later, Uhura and Sulu
confront Oshino about the event, telling her that it was wrong. Uhura's words
have an impact, and Oshino begins remembering her childhood. "I'm 'seeing'
again" she says. "This time I am rising up out of a lake... no, it's
a great vat! And a large metal arm reaches down for me!" A village
elder secretly watches their conversation, thinking to himself that he must take
action against the strangers.
Meanwhile, Spock explores the mysterious temple in the wilderness, and
discovers a cloning chamber! An old man enters the room. "I am Yamoto"
he says, "overlord of this world, and as you have observed, creator of its
inhabitants!" He leads Spock deep underground, showing him the complex. "Astonishing!"
says Spock. "I never suspected! This is not a planet, but a gigantic
starship! A magnificent feat of engineering! You've created this whole world!
Where do you come from?" "This is unimportant" Yamoto replies.
"Here I have done what no other people have; achieved perfection! Three
classes, genetically 'programmed' for their separate social functions! Harmony!"
"But tell me" Spock inquires, "you used your cells to clone
Third Dan males! How did you obtain the other five?" "Ah, Mr.
Spock, that should be obvious!" Yamoto answers. "Few dreams are
realized without some sacrifices!" Yamoto pulls out a small weapon. He
stuns Spock, and then places him on an operating table. "You shall provide
a fine cell sample" he says, "for a whole new strain of clones, the
most superior ones yet!"
Back in the village, another group of guards arrives at the landing
party's quarters, called by the village elder. "We have come for Oshino,
and for you!" says the leader of the guards. "You have proved
dangerous to the people of our world! You must die!" Kirk orders
phasers on stun, and he and the others quickly overpower the guards. Still
unable to contact Spock with his communicator, Kirk calls the Enterprise. "Have
the transporter room standing by" he tells Scotty. "We may want to
get our of here fast!" The landing party, along with Oshino, sets out in
search of Spock. On a hunch, Oshino leads them into the wilderness, to the "Palace
of Life", the same temple that Spock had entered earlier!
Deep beneath the surface, Yamoto has extracted his needed samples, and
is about to destroy Spock. Suddenly, his alarm system activates, notifying him
that other intruders have entered the temple above. While he checks the alarm,
Spock is able to slip away, having overcome the paralysis with his "Vulcan
healing abilities". In the palace above, Kirk, Sulu and Oshino enter the
temple and discover row upon row of sleeping clones! Realizing that she is a
clone, Oshino goes on a rampage, and begins tearing the machinery apart. Spock
enters the room, having escaped from Yamoto. Oshino grabs Sulu's phaser and
runs away to find Yamoto. "Go!" she shouts to Kirk, "Return to
your ship! Leave! I'll go find Yamoto and destroy him!" Kirk tries to
stop her, but she uses the stolen phaser to seal herself in the tunnel leading
Kirk and the others exit the temple to find guards waiting for them.
They narrowly avoid being killed, as Scotty beams them back up to the Enterprise
just in time. "Take us out of orbit" Kirk calls to the bridge, "warp
factor four!" As the ship leaves orbit, Oshino kills Yamoto deep beneath
the temple, and activates the huge spaceship's self-destruct mechanism. The
planet is blown apart!
Speaking before a Federation examination board later, Kirk explains that
although the Enterprise visit may have been the vehicle of the incident, the
process was inevitable. The board is satisfied by his explanation, and no
charges are filed. As Kirk and the other members of the landing party leave the
hearing, a worker approaches them. "Captain Kirk, will you look at this!"
the man says, holding the small model given to them by Ekoe. "The space
scooper picked it up as it was cleaning up Rifas-L. Survived the holocaust like
a straw in a tornado! You wouldn't happen to know what it is, would you?"
"I think I can answer you sir" replies Spock. "It's quite
probably a semi-quadranial, psi-sided, conversional nothing!"
(Summary by Mark Lookabaugh)
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