crew have been stricken with an epidemic of Rigelian fever. The only known cure is ryetalyn, a rare substance that they've detected on one small planet. With four hours before the crew are wiped out, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beam down to gather it. Upon arrival Spock detects a human life form despite the fact they noticed nothing on the ship's sensors. They start to search for ryetalyn but a floating robot intercepts them and opens fire. They try to return fire only to discover the robot has suppressed their phasers. It moves in for the kill, but a middle-aged man commands it to stop. He introduces himself as Flint and says that he's been monitoring them since they arrived in the system. He tells them that he values his privacy and they either must leave or he'll kill them. Kirk responds by telling Scotty to prepare to open fire on their location. Flint is unimpressed, but when McCoy describes the effects of Rigelian fever, Flint compares it to the bubonic plague that ravaged Constantinople in the Middle Ages. He gives them two hours while his robot, M4, gathers the ryetalyn, and invites them to his palace.
If you do not leave voluntarily, I have the power to force you to leave...
or kill you where you stand.
Inside, Kirk and others notice Flint's collection of rather books. While they discuss the situation, a woman watches them on a monitor screen. Flint leaves them and goes to talk to her, and it becomes clear she's never seen anyone but him. She wants to meet with them but Flint initially refuses, saying none of them are her or his intellectual equal. When she demands to meet them, he seems surprised. He kisses her but she seems unresponsive, and Flint then grants her the opportunity to meet with them.
Have you been lonely?
What is loneliness?
It is thirst. It is a flower dying in the desert.
McCoy finds a bottle of aged Saurian brandy and pours drinks all around. Spock has been studying Flint's collection of paintings and notices that they are original da Vincis that have never been documented. Curiously, they are made with modern pigments and paper. They wonder if Flint is some kind of alien projecting an allusion and Kirk orders Spock to scan him, then calls the ship to have Scotty run a background check. M4 arrives with the ryetalyn and Flint informs them the robot can distill it and create an antidote much faster than they can. McCoy accompanies M4 to the laboratory while Flint invites them to dinner and introduces the woman, Rayna Kapec. He says that she's an orphan whose parents worked for him and he adopted her upon their deaths.
What else interests you besides gravity phenomena, Rayna?
Everything. Less than that is betrayal of the intellect.
Flint offers them his hospitality and Kirk and Rayna play billiards while Spock studies some sheet music on Flint's piano. Flint invites him to play and suggests that Kirk dance with Rayna, then watches with interest as they do so. They're interrupted when McCoy returns to inform them the ryetalyn is contaminated with irrillium and is useless to them. Flint apologizes for his robot's error and invites McCoy to help him oversee the gathering of uncontaminated ryetalyn. After they leave and Rayna departs, Spock notes that the waltz he played was an unknown composition written by Johann Brahms in his own hand… on modern paper.
This waltz I just played is by Johannes Brahms.
Captain, it is written in manuscript--in original manuscript, in Brahms' own hand, which I recognize. It is totally unknown, definitely the work of Brahms, and yet unknown.
Kirk goes to the laboratory to help with the ryetalyn and finds Rayna studying a sealed door. She explains that she comes to the laboratory when she feels troubled but doesn't know why. Kirk tries to comfort her, holding her. They're interrupted when the M4 robot arrives and goes after Kirk. It neutralizes his phaser and prepares to blast him, ignoring Rayna's orders to stop. Fortunately, Spock arrives and destroys it before it can sense his presence and neutralize his phaser. They confront Flint, who apologizes for the robot's error. When an increasingly irrational Kirk prepares to attack him, another robot arrives, activated by Flint upon the destruction of the last one. Flint notes that he has twice Kirk's physical strength and should be grateful he didn't provoke a fight. He leaves to check the ryetalyn, ordering Rayna to come with him.
Be thankful that you did not attack me, Captain. I might have accepted battle, and I have twice your physical strength.
Kirk is unhappy with Flint's treatment of his ward and Spock warns that the captain should avoid provoking Flint further since they need his cooperation to get the antidote. The first officer notes that Flint seems to be in love with Rayna, but Kirk notes that Flint was the one who insisted they dance. He contacts Scotty who confirms they have no records of Flint in the databases, and Kirk orders the engineer to do a background check on Rayna. Spock, checking his tricorder readings, determines that Flint is human… but apparently 6,000 years old. With time running out, Kirk wonders why Flint is deliberately delaying them. Spock concludes that Flint has some kind of plan and is keeping them under surveillance. Flint and Rayna are watching them on the monitor, and Rayna wonders why Flint tried to kill the captain. Flint denies wanting Kirk dead and tells her to say their farewells: they will soon get the antidote and depart.
I was able to run a tricorder scan on Mr. Flint. He is human, but there are certain biophysical peculiarities. Some body-function readings are disproportionate. For one thing, extreme age is indicated...
on the order of 6,000 years.
Scotty calls to confirm that the Federation has no legal records of a Rayna Kapec. With time running out, Rayna comes to say goodbye but Kirk insists that she stay with him. The two kiss, while Flint watches approvingly on the monitor. She runs off, confused, and McCoy returns to inform them that the M4 robot took the ryetalyn. They go to the laboratory where Spock detects the ryetalyn behind the sealed door. It opens for them and Spock suggests that he go alone, suspecting Flint's plan. Kirk insists on going and inside they find the ryetalyn. However, they also find an artificial humanoid body, labeled "Rayna 17," and looking like an unfinished version of the "real" Rayna. They find other bodies, early numbered versions
But we have also discovered our benefactor's secret. He has created the perfect woman. Her only flaw, She’s not human.
Flint enters and Spock informs them of his conclusion: that Flint is Brahms and da Vinci. Flint admits that Spock is right and that in his time he has been many historical persons. He was originally Akharin, a soldier born in 3834 B.C. who fell in battle but discovered he couldn't die. Since that time he adopted many identities them moved on when his unaging nature would reveal him for what he is. In all that time he never had a love that didn't wither and die, and now he has been working to create a woman that would never age. Flint insists that Rayna can never know, and that Kirk and the others must stay. Kirk tries to order Scotty to leave orbit but Flint activates a device to miniaturize the Enterprise
and bring it down out of orbit. He informs them that they will be put in suspended animation with the rest of the crew, now that his need for Kirk is complete. The captain awakened emotions in Rayna, emotions that Flint plans to transfer to himself. However, Rayna comes into the laboratory and realizes the truth. Realizing that if he harms the crew then Rayna will hate him, Flint restores the Enterprise
and Kirk's promises to keep his secret.
I have seen a hundred billion fall. I know death better than any man.
I have tossed enemies into his grasp.
And, I know mercy.
Your crew is not dead, but suspended.
Kirk goes to Rayna and declares his love and insists she go with him. Flint tries to interfere and the two men fight. Rayna interrupts them, declaring that it is her choice and that for the first time she is a fully realized human being. Kirk and Flint both vie for her love despite Spock's warning, and she can't choose between them. She stutters and then collapses, and McCoy confirms that she dead. Spock explains that she loved both men and couldn't reconcile her newfound emotions, dying of the strain.
where I want to go,
what I want to do.
As the Enterprise
leaves orbit, the disease cured, a lonely Kirk receives Spock's report and dozes off from exhaustion. McCoy comes in to reveal that Flint lost his immortality when he left Earth, and will die after the end of a normal lifespan. He notes that Spock can't possibly understand how Kirk could feel, and wishes that Kirk could forget. After McCoy leaves, Spock considers the captain's sleeping figure, then puts his hands to Kirk's head and says "Forget."