"The Perfect Dream"
  Issue Number 26

Writer: Unknown
Artist: Alberto Giolitti
Stardate: 30:19.12
Issue Date: September 1974
Cover Price: 25 cents

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Cover Blurb:
   A secret space lab wants Mr. Spock's help - as a guinea pig!


Synopsis
   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 underground.

   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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