Dead Planet? Or Deadly?
The Enterprise intercepts Tactis II, a wandering asteroid, to determine
if it poses any threat to the Federation. A visual survey of the asteroid
reveals a volcano, but Mr. Spock reports that it is inactive. Sensors show some
minor movement on the surface. Mr. Spock suggests the movement might be caused
by wind currents or ground tremors. Kirk decides that they must find out for
sure whether life exists on the asteroid. He orders a landing party be formed.
A lovely blonde female lieutenant suggests that they take a shuttle craft
instead of using the transporter, as the shuttle will be able to carry down a
larger "bio-detection" unit to the surface to search for life. The
Captain agrees, and orders that two crew members from security join himself, Mr.
Spock, and the (still unnamed) lieutenant in the hanger deck.
The shuttlecraft Galileo arrives on the surface at the base of the dormant
volcano. Spock reports that scanners indicate life-supporting atmosphere. The
exit ramp opens, and Kirk steps out to take a look around. He is surprised to
see another shuttlecraft Galileo, sitting only yards away! Sensor scans
confirm that the other shuttle craft is an exact duplicate of their own. The
two security guards are sent to investigate the other shuttle. (Not the typical
Kirk approach to a problem! He almost always goes in before the crew.) As
they approach the other shuttle, the "dormant" volcano in the distance
suddenly erupts, spewing red-hot lava! Kirk orders the security team to enter
the other shuttle in order to avoid the lava flow, which is creeping down the
face of the volcano. They enter the shuttle, and are knocked out by strange
dancing lights. Two exact duplicates of the security team are waiting inside.
The impostors pick up a dropped communicator and report back to Kirk that the
shuttle is abandoned, and they are preparing to lift off.
Back on the "real" Galileo, Spock discovers that the ship is
completely without ion power. The ship is unable to move! The lava flow picks
up the shuttle craft and carries it for a distance, until the volcano stops
erupting, and the lava stops. Kirk and Spock watch the duplicate shuttle fly
directly into the crater of the active volcano. Kirk contacts the other
shuttle, and asks if they have lost control. "No, Captain!" the
impostor answers, "Our scanners show entry into the cone is safe! We are
sure reconnaissance there may help explain events here!". The second
shuttle lands in the crater, out of view of the Galileo. The imposters remove
the unconscious crew members from the craft, and then the shuttle is "absorbed"
by the same dancing lights that attacked the security team. The impostors
travel down the side of the mountain to meet the crew of the Galileo.
Meanwhile, Kirk finds that his communicator is dead. Spock tries the
shuttlecraft communications system and gets the same result. Spock is left to
try and make repairs while Kirk and the Lieutenant go to meet the security team
coming down the mountain.
On the Enterprise, Scotty is puzzled by the lack of communications with the landing party, and the appearance of "two" shuttle craft on the
sensors. Scotty orders Dr. McCoy to beam down to the surface with him to check
it out, and leaves Lt. Sulu in command of the ship.
Kirk and the Lieutenant meet up with the imposter security guards. As
Kirk is questioning them, the strange glowing lights appear again and knock out
himself and the Lieutenant. Duplicates of Kirk and the Lieutenant appear, and
the four imposters approach the Galileo. They trick Mr. Spock into coming
outside. The lights try to absorb him also, but Mr. Spock is able to overcome
the effects long enough to run back to the shuttle. At that moment, Scotty and
Dr. McCoy beam down to the surface. They approach the Galileo, but the
imposters begin firing phasers at them!
From the hatchway of the shuttle craft, Spock orders Scotty and McCoy
to shoot the imposters. Scotty and McCoy are confused, but draw their phasers
and prepare to fire. Just as they are about to shoot, all four of the imposters
change into flashing lights, and disappear into the lava field. Scotty and
McCoy rush to the shuttle. Spock begins to explain what is happening, but just
then the volcano erupts again! Spock rushes out of the Galileo to bring back
the (real) unconscious Captain Kirk and the Lieutenant. They barely make it
back to the craft in time to avoid being smashed by a huge boulder from the
Spock believes that the answer to the strange events lies in the
volcano crater. Scotty's communicator is still functional, and he calls the
ship to have a "fully-equipped video-camera robot" beamed down. The
robot (sent down complete with a large console t.v. remote viewing screen)
climbs up the mountain, and into the crater. The crew watches it's progress
from outside the shuttle. The robot sends back pictures of ancient spacecraft
and skeletons scattered over the crater floor! The robot is surrounded by more
dancing lights and destroyed. A duplicate robot is created, and the duplicate
moves back down the mountain to attack the landing party.
When the duplicate robot arrives, the crew is almost overcome again by
the dancing lights. Spock calls to the Enterprise and orders them to fire a
stream of negative ions into the volcano crater. The ion blast appears to have
no effect at first, but then the glowing lights fade and reveal intricate
structures hovering in the air. The crew hurries back to the Galileo, and are
forced to destroy more crew imposters on the way - including the duplicate
With the strange energy creature disabled, Spock is able to restore
power to the shuttle craft. The crew quickly takes off and heads back to the
Enterprise. Spock explains that the energy creature has been disabled
temporarily, but not destroyed. He tells Kirk that the creature is a parasite
that drains all energy sources to feed. The "central life-core" sent
out "smaller molecule chains" to mimic any energy source, so that the
duplicate could return the energy to feed the central core. The Lieutenant adds
that the creature probably lives in hibernation, and that the surface movement
on the planet was designed by the creature to lure energy sources there.
In accordance with Federation laws, the Enterprise does not harm the
energy being. Captain Kirk notifies Star Fleet of the creature, and warns them
to keep other ships clear of the area.
(Summary by Mark Lookabaugh)
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