In the near future, the planet Ebon launches an attack on Unified Earth. A crew of soldiers departs to the planet Ebon to take the war to their attackers, well aware that all troops before them have been lost, killed, or captured. Colonel Luke Stone is addressing his five-man team, but is interrupted when a high-pitched shrieking noise fills the ship. It shakes and Stone tries to tell them what to do if they are captured, but is cut off as the power goes out...Read the full recap
Opening Narration: A war between worlds had long been dreaded. Throughout recent history, Man, convinced that life on other planets would be as anxious and belligerent as life on his own, has gravely predicted that some dreadful form of combat would inevitably take place between our world and that of someone else. And Man was right. To the eternal credit of the peoples of this planet Earth, history shall be able to proclaim loudly and justly that in this war between Unified Earth and the planet Ebon, Ebon struck first. Ebon: its form of life unknown, its way of life unpredictable. To the fighting troops of Earth, a black question mark at the end of a dark, foreboding journey.
Ebonite Interrogator: Now, Private Dix, tell us true things. (Dix mouths words) That won't do, Dix. Your name, your rank, your serial number, are useful only to those Earthly relatives who will apply for your insurance.
Major Jong: It seems to me that a totally different form of life would have developed a totally different form of death.
Private Arthur Dix: Oh, shut up.
Major Jong: Well, death here will truly be a mysterious adventure.
Major Jong: Don't misjudge laughter, Colonel. It's not always a sign of humor. At the moment, I was laughing because I felt sudden confidence. Confidence tickles.
Lt. Terence "Terry" Brookman: What do you base your confidence on?
Major Jong: On friendliness, suspicion. Normal, Earth-bound, basic human emotions. We're behaving like human beings, and as long as we continue to do so, we'll survive.
Lt. Terence "Terry" Brookman: Is that all you're thinking about, Major? Survival?
Major Jong: That... and the smell of fog in the San Francisco night.
Colonel Luke Stone: There's no leniency for a traitor. None at all. He earned the death penalty all by himself. There's no reason why we should handle Major Jong any differently here than if he were down on Earth. I told you all before we were captured, the only laws we would have here were those we brought with us. We need those laws. Even the questionable ones, even the painful ones. We need them. They remind us that we were civilized enough to make them in the first place.
Major Jong: Or perhaps to remind us that we are not as civilized as we should be.
Major Jong: I regret that I have but one arm to give for my planet, but I shall give it.
Closing Narration: The exploration of human behavior under simulated conditions of stress is a commonplace component of the machinery called war. So long as Man anticipates and prepares for combat, be it with neighboring nations or with our neighbors in space, these unreal games must be played, and there are only real men to play them. According to established military procedure, the results of the Ebon maneuvers will be recorded in books and fed into computers for the edification and enlightenment of all the strategists of the future. Perhaps they will learn something.