Kirk, McCoy, and Spock go on a scouting expedition to the planet Neural, where Lt. Kirk conducted his first planetary survey 17 years ago. McCoy takes plant samples while Kirk and Spock examine the area, and spot the footprints of a mugato. Kirk says that when he was last there, the planet was a Garden of Eden with peaceful non-violent inhabitants with no advanced technology. They spot several villagers, carrying flintlocks and preparing an ambush against a group of hill people, including Kirk's friend Tyree. Kirk throws a rock, causing one of the villagers to fire off a shot and alert Tyree, then Kirk and Spock run to the rendezvous spot. Alerted by the gunshots, McCoy calls for beam up while Spock is shot and badly injured. They beam up just ahead of the villagers and McCoy gets the critically injured Spock to sickbay under the care of Dr. M'Benga, who interned on Vulcan.
Class "M" in all respects. Quite Earthlike.
Except these people stayed in their Garden of Eden.
A Klingon ship arrives in orbit and the Enterprise
avoids detection by staying on the far side of the planet. For the moment they're safe but may have to leave orbit to avoid notice. Kirk figures that the Klingons are giving guns to the villagers but the others wonder why they're not providing machine guns or lasers. Kirk goes to Sickbay and McCoy reports that they have no Vulcan replacement organs and Spock has entered a healing trance. With M'Benga in charge of Spock, Kirk takes McCoy with him to the planet in native clothing. They try to find Tyree's camp but a mugato attacks them. It injures Kirk with its poisonous bite before McCoy can kill it with a phaser. The Enterprise
has moved out of orbit to avoid the Klingon ship and McCoy can't contact them. As Kirk passes out, several of the hill people arrive and McCoy tries to communicate with them.
Contact the ship. Took full poison. Fangs…
The hill people take Kirk and McCoy to Tyree's camp and McCoy does what little he can to temporarily stop the poison. Tyree and his wife Nona, a Kahn-ut-tu witch woman, are turning from a scouting expedition to determine what new "firesticks" the villagers are using. Tyree insists that the villagers will return to their peaceful ways but Nona insists they have to prepare for the worse. She then stupefies and seduces him using the juice of a local plant, but they're interrupted when a hill person arrives with news of Kirk. Nona goes on ahead and spots McCoy secretly using a phaser to heat rocks to keep the captain warm. When Tyree arrives she demands that he tell her everything he knows about Kirk so she can treat him.
Remember this leaf? The night we camped by the water?
The night of madness. Oh, Tyree, did you really hate that madness?
No, Nona. No! It brought up evil beasts from my soul.
Only one lovely beast, Tyree. My huge, angry man
Later, Nona uses a mahko root and passes her blood through it and into the wound on Kirk's chest. As McCoy looks on, the root moves like a living creature and Nona manages to extract the poison and then dispel it. Kirk passes out from the strain while Nona proclaims that now he is hers as they share souls because of the healing ritual.
Deeply... together... your pain is mine... all mine... your soul in mine. Together! Return. It is past. Return. Return!
Nurse Chapel is tending to Spock and holding his hand. M'Benga explains that Spock can't be woken up, but if he wakes up on his own then Chapel has to do whatever he asks.
He knows we're here and what we're saying, but he can't afford to take his mind from the tissue he's fighting to heal. I suppose he even knows you were holding his hand.
Later, Kirk and McCoy talk with Tyree who explains that the villagers first started getting firesticks almost a year ago, and they are manufactured at a blacksmith in the nearby village. Kirk refuses to provide the hill people with weapons, angering Nona who wonders why Tyree's friend would let her husband dies. She wants them to provide phasers like the one she saw McCoy use. Kirk tries to explain about the Prime Directive but she isn't interested. Tyree refuses to fight and would rather die, rather than take on the power of the guns, and a furious Nona storms out. They plan to go to the village that night to find evidence of Klingon involvement, but Kirk is concerned about what happens if they do confirm outside interference.
If we find the Klingons have helped the villagers, there's certainly something we can do.
That's what's bothering me. The something we may have to do.
The trio goes to the village, knock out a villager, and take his gun as evidence. Tyree stands guard while Kirk and McCoy go inside the smithy and discover evidence that the Klingons are manufacturing low-tech guns for the villagers to conceal their involvement. McCoy starts recording the evidence on his tricorder when the Klingon representative, Krell, and the village leader Apella arrive. Krell promises Apella a series of slow developmental techniques over a period of time. McCoy accidentally sets off his tricorder and he and Kirk fight their way outside, meet with Tyree, and escape with the stolen gun and the recordings.
I thought my people would grow tired of killing. But you were right. It is easier than trading, and it has pleasures. I feel it myself. Like the hunt, but with richer rewards.
Aboard the Enterprise
, Spock wakes up and tells Nurse Chapel to start slapping him. She reluctantly does so but Scotty comes in and, confused, stops her. M'Benga comes in and finishes slapping Spock, explaining that the pain is needed to bring Spock out of the healing trance at the proper moment. Spock is his usual cold self and Nurse Chapel notes he's back to normal.
What are you doing, woman? Leave me alone! Have you gone daft?
At the hill people camp the next day, Kirk shows Tyree's people how to use the stolen flintlock. McCoy wonders if Nona is influencing him but Kirk explains that given the Klingon interference in the local culture, they have no choice but to escalate things from the other side, providing Tyree and is people with equal weaponry. If the Klingons provide more advanced technology, then they will have to as well. McCoy notes the results will be a bloody slaughter and the peaceful Tyree will be the first to die. Kirk goes to see Nona and convince Tyree through her.
Well, Jim, here's another morsel of agony for you. Since Tyree won't fight, he will be one of the first to die.
Spock takes the conn and orders the ship back into orbit, while Kirk talks to Nona. She uses a flower to stupefy and seduce him, unaware that Tyree is watching them. He considers shooting her, or Kirk, or both, but then drops the flintlock in disgust and runs away. Kirk and Nona are interrupted when the first mugato's mate attacks them. She tries to keep ahead of it and Kirk manages to recover enough to kill it with his phaser. Nona stuns him with a rock, steals the phasers, and goes to see the villagers.
I feel dizzy. You are lovely. You're beautiful. Kiss me.
Tyree returns to the camp and McCoy says they need to find the gun. They go back and find Kirk recovering consciousness, and the phaser missing. They go after her while Nona finds a patrol and tries to convince them she has a better weapon for them. They don't recognize the box-like Type I Phaser as a weapon and prepare to rape her. She holds them off with a knife for a bit but they eventually overwhelm her. When Kirk, McCoy, and Tyree arrive the villagers think it's a trap and stab her. One of the villagers shoots McCoy in the arm and Kirk and Tyree take on the others. Most of them flee, and a furious Tyree beats in the head of the one who killed his wife. Kirk pulls him off and Tyree demands guns so that he can take revenge on the men who killed his wife and fight back against the villagers. As he leaves, Spock makes contact with Kirk and McCoy. A tired Kirk looks at what he's done and will have to do and asks Spock to beam them up.
Spock, ask Scotty how long it would take him to reproduce 100 flintlocks. A hundred… serpents. Serpents for the Garden of Eden.