"The Psychocrystals"
  Issue Number 34

Writer: Unknown
Artist: Alberto Giolitti
Stardate: 19:27.4
Issue Date: October 1975
Cover Price: 25 cents

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Cover Blurb:
   The PsychoCrystals - They Glitter With Death!


Synopsis
   While on a routine mineral and biological survey in "space sector 179, sub-sector 23-C", the Enterprise detects complicated crystals on the planet Alpha 23-C. Spock says they may be valuable for research and industry. Kirk orders Scotty and Dr. McCoy to accompany him to the surface to investigate, while Mr. Spock begins a topographical survey of the planet.

    All three crew members have an extreme feeling of nausea after the transport. Dr. McCoy suggests that Scotty check the transporters for malfunction when they return. Kirk seconds that, saying "I don't relish the idea of being scrambled by a malfunctioning transporter!" The three set off across the landscape, which is dotted with large crystal outcroppings. They arrive at a large plateau which blocks their path. Kirk orders Scotty to climb up and over the plateau, calling him "the best rock eater." He tells McCoy to take the left path around the base, while he takes the right path around. (No explanation for why they split up.)

   While climbing the plateau, Scotty finds a large chunk of Crystal. He decides to chop two samples: one for the survey, and the other for "a little lady on Jupiter colony." As Scotty swings his pickaxe, the crystal fires a beam at him which knocks the pickaxe out of his hand and stings his arm, but otherwise causes no harm. Scotty moves in closer and begins to see a vision in the crystal. He sees a Scottish highlander on a horse. Scotty realizes that he is seeing a vision of a small part of himself that always wanted to be an adventurer. He walks over to another crystal. This time he sees a young man - deathly scared and being chased by a huge witch. It is a representation of his childhood fears! He is seeing the part of himself that never grew up - the part of himself that still twitches with fear at "things that go bump in the night." He moves on to a third crystal. This time the vision is of the dark side of himself. Again and again he sees visions in the crystals of the different facets of his own mind. The flashes of insight that the visions provide finally overload his mind, and he collapses screaming to the ground.

    Kirk hears Scotty's cry, and races to help him. He arrives at the scene to find Scotty unconscious on the ground. Kirk rouses him, and Scotty warns Kirk not to look at the crystals. He tells Kirk what happened - and how he was almost driven insane by the visions. The two run to find McCoy, concerned that he might stumble on to one of the crystals also.

    They arrive too late. McCoy is laughing uncontrollably and acting "completely bonkers." Kirk solves the problem by giving the doctor a solid right cross to the head, knocking him down to the ground, and back to his senses. "That was a close one!" McCoy says. Kirk agrees, and says that the crystals will fascinate Mr. Spock. "They should!" Scotty says. "He's sort of an intelligent rock himself!" The three prepare to camp out for the evening. (Instead of simply beaming back up to the ship) In the middle of the night, Kirk wakes up and attacks Scotty while he is sleeping, believing that the engineer had just tried to kill him.

   McCoy fires a "narco-pellet" at Kirk that knocks him out for a second. He tells Scotty that the crystals have used "rays of paranoia" on the Captain. Kirk quickly awakes and orders Scotty to call the ship and have themselves beamed up. The crystals, however, jam the communicator transmissions, and the landing party is unable to communicate with the Enterprise. At that moment, a large being made out of crystal approaches them. (Wearing an Indian-style headband complete with a red feather.) Scotty tries to use his phaser, but the crystal creature fires a ray from his forehead and disarms the engineer. The being says that his name is Izor. He calls the landing party "kidnappers", and chastises Scotty for trying to kill a "young one" with his pick. Kirk realizes that the crystal rock formations are actually an unborn form of Izor's crystal people - their babies!

    Izor takes the crew members prisoner, and leads them underground. Before they leave the surface, Kirk is able to drop his communicator unseen, as a clue for the Enterprise. The party is taken to a dazzling crystal cavern, filled with crystal people and spectacular buildings. "Like somebody's idea of paradise!" says Scotty. They learn that the crystal people feed on light, and see many of them exchanging fire with one another as if it were a delicacy.

    Izor leads the landing party to the "President", telling them that he is the only one who can deal with death-penalty crimes. Kirk tries to explain the peaceful purpose of the expedition to the President, but he sentences the three to death. They are taken to a library, and imprisoned within - to await their execution.

    Meanwhile, Spock has beamed down to the surface to have a look around, since the Captain missed two scheduled radio contacts. He discovers a homing beam coming from Kirk's dropped communicator and follows it to the hidden entrance of the crystal people's cave. The leader of the crystal people knows of Spock's arrival, and brings Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy to a room filled with periscopes, so that they can see the effect that the crystals have on him. Spock, however, is unaffected by the crystals' power - as he has no emotions. The president dispatches guards to bring Spock down to the cave, so he can share the fate of the landing party.

    As the Enterprise crew is about to be executed, guards arrive at the palace and warn the president that the "Slourda" is approaching. The Slourda (a large, green reptile made out of crystal, and looking a fair bit like Godzilla) smashes into the great cavern and begins destroying buildings and trampling the crystal citizens. The guards attack it with spears, and it wanders back into the depths of the cave, more annoyed than wounded.

    Izor tells Kirk that the Slourda has become immune to their mental powers and energy beams over the centuries. Kirk offers to teach the crystal people how to kill the Sourda in exchange for their freedom, and the President agrees. Spock devises a plan to use the mental energy of the crystals to kill the Sourda, and the landing party has Izor bring one of the "infant" crystals from the surface, as they have more potent mental energy than the mature crystal people. The crew sets off into the cave, and finds the Slourda - which promptly attacks them. Using the crystal to focus his thoughts, Spock begins thinking of complex formulas. The energy of this thoughts is magnified by the crystal, and blasts the Sourda with a powerful beam. The creature falls dead!

    The President of the crystal people thanks the Enterprise crew for their help, and Spock leaves a supply of science text books for them so that they can advance their knowledge and defend themselves from the threats of their world. (Prime Directive, anyone?) Back on board the Enterprise, Kirk asks Spock if he feels guilty about ending the innocence of the crystal people. "Not at all!" Spock replies. "I see no charm in a world that tries to destroy killer dragons with bolts of poetry and music, Captain!"

(Summary by Mark Lookabaugh)

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