investigates a distress signal and comes across a planet that is an exact replica of Earth. They beam down near the signal transmitter and find a deserted city. A deformed teenager attacks them but they easily subdue him. McCoy determines his physiology is burned out as if from rapid aging, and he dies before their eyes.
Hearing a noise, the landing party investigates a nearby building and finds a young girl, Miri. She thinks of them as “grups” (grownups) and wants to know what kind of “foolie” (game) they’re playing. She warns them that grups are dangerous and go berserk before dying. She then points out that Kirk, who she clearly has a crush on, is starting to show the blue blotches that indicate infection.
Spock and the two security guards try to find the other children without success, and Miri leads them to a medical center which also contains the distress transmitter. Spock is immune but the rest of the landing party is infected. They beam down what equipment they can but need the ship’s main computers and use the communicators to send their data up to the ship for analysis. They determine that the scientists were conducting life-prolongation experiments by starting a chain reaction of viruses that would strengthen the cell structure. They partly failed, creating the blue-blotch disease that causes fever, then short tempers, then berserk rage, then death. However, they partially succeeded as the children age very slowly, only one year every century, until the blotches strike at adolescence and kill them.
Kirk and Miri go out and stumble upon the children led by Jahn, the oldest boy. The children run and an adolescent girl attacks Kirk. He’s forced to stun her but she dies of the shock.
McCoy and Spock determine they only have seven days, and two days later McCoy finds some key papers that let them recreate the scientists’ work. The children make a disturbance outside and when everyone goes to investigate, Jahn sneaks in and steals the communicators as part of his newest foolie. When the others return they realize they’re cut off from the ship and can’t confirm a cure. They also discover that the childrens’ food is running out and they only have a few months before starvation.
Yeoman Rand panics and when she runs outside, Kirk goes after her. Miri sees the captain comforting Rand and, jealous, goes to Jahn to propose a game where they capture Rand and then Kirk will come after them. McCoy identifies the disease and now they have to race to find the vaccine.
The children lure Rand away and an angry Kirk demands answers from Miri, who fakes innocence. He eventually gets through to her after revealing that as an adolescent she has the blotches as well. She takes him to the children, who initially refuse to listen and beat down Kirk. He rallies and tries to convince them that the older ones will go insane and the younger ones will starve to death.
McCoy has created a vaccine but without the ship’s computers they can’t confirm if it’s safe. When Spock goes to check on Kirk, McCoy injects himself. Kirk returns with the children and the communicators to discover Bones unconscious. However, he recovers and they realize they have a cure.
Later the Enterprise
leaves a medical team to take care of the children and Kirk and Rand share a laugh as the ship leaves orbit. Share this article with your friends