responds to a distress call from its sister ship, the Constellation
. They arrive in a solar system only to find that ever planet has been destroyed. Following the path of destruction to another system, they find more missing planets and finally, the badly damaged Constellation
Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and an engineering team beam over to auxiliary control and investigate. There are no bodies, and the remaining two planets in the system can’t support life. They finally find a shell-shocked Commodore Matt Decker, captain of the ship. Decker rambles on about the “thing from Hell” that attacked his ship, and reveals he beamed his surviving crew down to the third planet... that the thing destroyed.
They say there’s no Devil, Jim, but there is. Right out of Hell, I saw it!
Whatever the thing is, it’s preventing them from sending a message to Starfleet. Decker warns that the attacker uses an anti-proton beam, and Spock has located the thing. It’s a conical robot attack ship, almost a mile long, which smashes apart planets and uses the debris to fuel itself. The robot ship is heading from outside the galaxy toward a densely populated section of the Federation, and they figure it’s a “doomsday” weapon create by some ancient race as an ultimate weapon against their enemy.
That’s what I think this is: a doomsday machine that somebody used in a war uncounted years ago. They don’t exist anymore, but the machine is still destroying.
McCoy takes Decker back to the ship just as the doomsday machine attacks. Kirk and the others are stuck on the Constellation
as the Enterprise
takes evasive action. Decker goes to the bridge and assumes command, over Spock’s objections, and orders them to attack the Machine despite the fact their weapons can’t penetrate its solid neutronium hull. Decker is clearly deranged but McCoy doesn’t have sufficient authority to relieve him without further tests.
Mr. Spock knows his duties under regulations. Do you?
Scotty works on repairs to the Constellation
while the Machine attacks the Enterprise
. It opens fire then snags them with a tractor beam and starts to pull them in. When Decker refuses to order them away, Spock threatens to override him and takes command, so Decker gives the command to retreat. However, they are unable to pull free.
Scotty restores phasers and impulse and Kirk opens fire on the Machine. It releases the Enterprise
and goes after them, and Decker then opens fire, drawing it back again.
Kirk makes contact and orders Spock to relieve Decker of command, while they try to figure out a plan of attack. Decker knocks out his escort and escapes in a shuttlecraft. The now-suicidal Decker flies directly into the Machine’s maw, destroying himself in a brief flare of energy.
Kirk, seeing the explosion, has Spock run a check and determine that the energy disruption was significant but not sufficient to destroy the Machine. He then has the rest of the part beam back to the Enterprise
while he stays behind and pilots the Constellation
down the Machine’s maw while activating the self-destruct. However, the transporters burn out from the strain and with 30 seconds left, Scotty feverishly tries to repair the systems.
I suggest you beam me aboard…
With only a few seconds left, they beam Kirk out and the warp engine explosion destroys the Machine from the inside.
In the aftermath, Kirk notes that Decker died honorably, and is left to wonder if the enemies of the Machine’s creators may have created another Doomsday Device that may still be at large.
He gave his life in an attempt to save others. Not the worst way to go.