"Mr. Oracle"
  Issue Number 46

Writer: Unknown
Artist: Alden McWilliams
Stardate: Not Given
Issue Date: August 1977
Cover Price: 30 cents


Cover Blurb:
   Spock's swollen brain grapples with insanity to save a planet's culture!

   Starfleet Command orders the Enterprise on a long-range exploration mission. Kirk tells the crew to prepare for warp drive (Which all of them apparently dread!), and then orders Scotty to engage the engines. "And then it is an ascending shriek, shrilling at the ears, tearing at the innards... for the ship is now traveling at more than eight times the speed that Einstein had deemed impossible!" (This story treatment of the "horrors" of warp 2 travel is certainly not in line with the original television show, in which the crew travelled much faster than that with no discomfort!) When the ship exits warp, Spock uses the ship's computer to search for traces of life on nearby planets. "The projections on possible inhabited planets seem low!", says Kirk. "Yes!" replies Spock, "There's a LX3.510 ratio... quite low by previous standards!". The two men discover one planet that will support life, and learn that its sun is going nova!

   Mr. Spock surveys the planet and finds a "2-B" civilization on the surface. He explains to the captain that this means the inhabitants have heavy industry and man-made radio activity. "They are advanced enough to realize that their sun is dying and that they must abandon that world soon!" says the Science Officer. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty beam down to the surface to try and lend assistance to the inhabitants of the planet. (They don't bother to try and contact the civilization by radio or other means first!)

   On the surface, the landing party encounters a band of dwarf-like men wearing skins, and carrying spears.

Spock is surprised that they appear to be so primitive. The natives take them captive, and lead them up a large, stone staircase carved in the cliffs. They are then taken across a rope bridge to a cell carved in the cliff wall, and are locked inside. Kirk discovers a strange symbol carved in the wall of the cell. Spock is able to decipher a numeric code hidden in the symbol. The crew members strike certain bars of the cell at the same time in accordance with Spock's instructions, and the back wall of the cell opens, leading them into a huge throne room.

   There, the crew sees the same small beings who had captured them. This time, however, they are not dressed in animal skins and bone jewelry, but rather fine clothing. It has been a deception! The leader greets Spock and begins worshipping him, saying that he shall become their new "Wotam". He tells Spock that many other strangers have died without figuring out the puzzle of the cell.

The little man introduces himself as "Riza-One, of the Ten Rizas". Kirk asks what the "Wotam" is, and Riza-One leads the party deep into the caverns to show them. They travel through a maze of great tunnels heavily guarded by warriors, until they arrive at a huge cave that drops into the depths and houses an intricate computer system. "This is the illustrious one Wotam!" says Riza. "Within it lies all that has come to pass on our world! Every piece of knowledge is contained herein! We have but to ask a question and all is answered!".

   Spock questions Riza, and discovers that his people have become completely dependent upon the computer for all their needs, and are unable to remember simple things any more by themselves. The entire culture of the planet is stored in the "Wotam"! Spock agrees to undergo surgery that will transfer the knowledge of the Wotam to his brain, in order that the inhabitants of the planet may leave the doomed world without sacrificing their culture. Some hours later, Riza performs the procedure on Spock with the assistance of a large automated surgical device. Spock emerges from the surgery with an enormous head. (Which looks extremely ridiculous - both in the comic, and on the cover.) Afterwards, Riza leads him away from the others to recover.

   The other officers tour the great city. They discover abandoned vehicles and crumbling towers alongside magnificent examples of technology. "They don't have any technicians or repairmen" says Scotty, "so everything goes to Wotam for the answers! And a lot never gets done!". Later they return to the throne room to look in on Mr. Spock, who is now the "Wotan" incarnate. He promptly accuses them of wishing to enslave his people.

Kirk tells the others that the mass of information that the surgery placed in his head has completely buried "the ego we called... Spock", and that he now identifies with this world as his own. Spock orders the Rizans to seize them. The landing party is able to hold off the guards, but Kirk orders a surrender when large, alligator-like beasts are released to attack them.

   They are taken to another, more modern cell. Riza One enters and says that he has come to join them! "I am Riza One, next in line for Grand Riza!" he explains. "But now that this Spock is the living Wotam, I will never lead my people!". He tells Kirk that he wishes them to capture Spock, but leave the culture of his people behind. "It does seem an impossible proposition!" says the captain, "But let's worry about that only after we've gained the upper hand!".

   Riza One leads Spock into an ambush. Kirk, McCoy and Scotty quickly overpower him, and Riza One orders him to leave the planet.

Spock then reveals that he has allowed himself to be captured only to uncover the treachery of Riza One! He viciously attacks the crew. Just as he is about to kill them, Kirk yells "Mr. Spock! This is your commanding officer! By the powers invested in me by Starfleet Headquarters, I command you to stop!". Spock freezes for a moment, and then comes to his senses - free of the influence of Wotan.

   Using an advanced form of the Vulcan mind-meld in conjunction with the Wotan computer equipment, Spock attempts to transfer the essence of Wotan from himself to three of the Riza leaders.

The operation is successful! Just days later, the Rizas are able to complete a fleet of space craft that will carry their people away from the doomed planet. Later, back aboard the Enterprise, the Doctor needles Spock about the experience. "When you were under Wotam's influence, maybe you became just a bit... human!". "Believe me, Dr. McCoy" Spock replies, "If such a tragedy overcomes me, you shall be among the first to know!".

(Summary by Mark Lookabaugh)

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