is heading for Starbase 6 for R&R when they get a distorted message concerning their sister ship the Intrepid
. Spock suddenly stiffens in shock then announces that the entire Vulcan crew of the Intrepid
is dead. McCoy takes Spock to Sickbay while Kirk gets orders to divert to the sector where Solar System Gamma 7A is, as Starfleet has lost contact with the system and the Intrepid
Chekov confirms via long-range scanners that the entire solar system is… gone.
McCoy confirms Spock is okay and the Vulcan explains that even he could telepathically hear a death scream of so many Vulcans, and they had no understanding of what was killing them. Spock returns to the bridge just as their deflector shields snap on as they approach the designated sector. They spot something ahead: a black mass or hole, which their sensors are unable to identify. They launch a telemetry probe but it disappears after reaching the mass. Uhura feels a sudden burst of dizziness and dozens of other crew report dizziness and weakness as well. Spock is unable to identify if and can only determine what it is not. They figure the mass is what destroyed the Intrepid
and the solar system.
Kirk orders them into the mass where they find themselves in an impenetrable void. McCoy reports that crew conditions are getting worse and they’re losing power. He administers stimulants to the bridge crew and recommends they leave. Kirk gives the crew a pep talk but then McCoy informs him that they’re all dying, their energy being drained away.
Kirk checks in with Scotty as the ship lurches forward, and the engineer reports that he was trying to put them into reverse. Spock reports they are accelerating forward but upon hearing Scotty ordered reverse power, Spock suggests they apply forward thrust. McCoy reports that everyone is growing weaker and Scotty confirms that everything is operating backward but the engines are also being drained. Spock confirms the black void isn’t draining the energy, but rather something at its center. Kirk orders Scotty to channel the ship’s engines into one massive forward thrust. They proceed but it isn’t sufficient to throw them clear. They have only two hours of life support left, but find the center of the mass: a glowing nucleus.
They launch a probe and determine it is a gelatinous mass 11,000 miles long: a living creature. McCoy confirms it’s a single-celled organization not dissimilar to an amoeba, and Spock concludes the Intrepid
encountered it when it was hungry, but they only have a little more time. McCoy suggests they send in a single shielded shuttlecraft and Spock agrees. The doctor is eager to volunteer and Spock points out his martyr complex disqualifies him and he should go as a more durable individual. Kirk agrees to consider it and with an hour and fifteen minutes remaining, calls in McCoy and Spock. He then apologizes to Spock… and informs him that he’s the best qualified choice. Spock departs in the shuttlecraft and approaches the creature.
As the crew monitors him, Spock diverts all energy to the shields although he won’t have enough energy to get back. He then penetrates the creature’s outer layer, causing a disturbance but makes it into the interior to perform his tests. He’s forced to reduce his life support systems even lower and determines that the organism is preparing to reproduce via fission. They lose voice contact with Spock, who manages to transmit the location of the chromosome bodies then briefly disrupt it to let them know he’s still alive. When the organism multiplies, it will wipe out everything in a light year… and each new organism will split and split again.
With barely an hour left, they receive a low-band transmission from Spock who sends them enough information to determine they can destroy it from within, using an anti-matter charge. They cut the power and are drawn into the organism, then head for the nucleus to fire the probe into it at point-blank range.
Spock notes them passing and records his final log, while Kirk awards recommendations to the crew, Spock in particular. They program the fuse on the charge with a seven minute delay, which will give them just enough time to get out. They head for the outer layer and detect Spock, and put two tractor beams on the shuttlecraft. Spock recommends they abandon him but they refuse. They get just to the edge of the membrane… and stop, the power levels completely gone. The anti-matter charge detonates and they just manage to survive… with Spock intact. The organism is destroyed and the blast threw them clear. They bring Spock aboard and head for Starbase 6 for some rest and relaxation. Share this article with your friends