K-2, Planet of Death, where cannibal plants stalk animal prey!
NOTE: This story is a reprint of Gold Key STAR TREK #1 (July 1967).
The Enterprise is carrying out an exploration mission through "Galaxy
Alpha", but has discovered no life until the "space scope" picks
up a fertile green planet. Captain Kirk orders a close-up view on the "T.V.
scanner". The planet is steeped in vegetation. (Scotty comments that it
looks "Kelly Green") Kirk sends the Enterprise closer to the planet,
and orders a landing party be assembled to survey the surface. While closing on
the planet, the Enterprise passes through an "eerie space fog".
Within the mysterious mist float a handful of strange plant spores, and they
fasten themselves to the hull of the ship. In only minutes, the powerful
one-celled spores have penetrated the ship, seeping through the very
Spock and Dr. McCoy are gathering supplies in sick bay for the landing
party. Suddenly, the laboratory guinea pigs begin squeaking frantically. The
two go and look at the animals just in time to see them mutate into a form of
plant! Before they can react, all of the other lab animals have transformed
into "giant, hostile trees" which go on a rampage and try to destroy
them. Spock calls for security. The guards arrive, and Spock orders them to
fire their phasers at the central "pollen areas" of the plants. The
plants are destroyed just in time before they crush McCoy and Spock with their
tentacles. "We'd better report this to the Captain at once!" says the
Doctor (really... you think?!) "no telling where or when those plant
creatures will pop up again!".
Kirk calls an emergency conference to discuss the creatures. Spock
suggests that they may be related to tests that were performed in space weeks
ago on the laboratory animals, and that the animals may have picked up "alien
spores". Kirk orders Spock to continue research on his theory, while he
beams down to the surface along with Dr. McCoy, Yeoman Janice Rand, and several
security guards. He tells Spock that he will make an "hourly t.v.-radio
report" back to the ship.
The landing party arrives on the surface of the planet K-G (newly
named in honor of Scotty's comment on the bridge), and begins a search. Crewman
Hunt passes through a patch of the mysterious mist. He begins sprouting
branches and turning into a plant, just like the animals on the ship had! At
that moment, the crew members are pulled backwards toward a huge cannibal plant,
which is trying to suck them in. Just before they are devoured, a giant tree
attacks the cannibal plant and destroys it. After the battle, the giant tree
collapses to the ground dead. The landing party discovers crewman Hunt's
identification bracelet around one of the branches, and realize that Hunt had
become the giant tree! He had died trying to save the landing party. The crew
buries the remains of the tree in a shallow grave.
Kirk calls the ship and tells Spock what has happened. He decides to
keep the landing party on the surface of the planet in order to find out what is
causing the mysterious plant attacks. The party walks through the forest and
comes upon a "community of vegetation", with plant creatures, houses,
and buildings just like on Earth! The Captain realizes that it is an
intelligent society, and leads the party toward the village for a closer look.
As they approach, the party is suddenly attacked by trees on all sides. The
crew members use their phasers to blast a path through the living trees and
escape. The party sees a natural cave, and uses it for shelter. As they rest,
a huge crawling vine attacks them! The creature wraps Yeoman Rand up in a
tentacle, and takes her from the cave.
The remaining members of the landing
party chase the giant plant. It takes Yeoman Rand to a large "cattle pen"
made of thorns, and deposits her inside, where other animals are grazing. The
landing party tries to use their phasers on the thorny wall of plants, but the
thorns regenerate as fast as they are destroyed. Kirk guesses that the large
plants use the animals for food, and since Janice is with them - she is in
danger of being eaten!
Kirk calls the Enterprise and orders Spock to fire a pinpoint "laser beam" at the wall of the pen. The blast destroys the pen, and kills a
large plant creature that is about to devour Yeoman Rand. The landing party
rescues her, and Kirk tells Spock to bring them back up to the ship. They are
beamed up just in time, before more deadly plant spores "pollinate" them.
When they arrive on the Enterprise, Spock tells Kirk that if the
spores from the planet continue drifting through space, other planets may be in
danger. "We must orbit that hideous little globe until all foliage upon it
is decimated by our laser beams!" Spock says. "I have set a course
for the mission already!" The Enterprise moves slowly over the surface of
the planet - using its weaponry to destroy all life, before it can continue its
tour of research through the vast reaches of the universe.
(Summary by Mark Lookabaugh)
STAR TREK is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures
Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Gold Key is a registered trademark
of Western Publishing Corp.