written by John Meredyth Lucas
Unproduced 28 pg. Story Outline, dated June 24, 1967
report & analysis by Dave Eversole
Proceeding at Warp 4, the Enterprise's screens suddenly snap on. The instruments show the mass of a solar system dead ahead, but the charts (and visual) show only empty space. The ship slows, is suddenly grabbed by an incredibly strong tractor beam. The tractor beam, instead of trying to draw them in, is attempting to hurl the ship away. Only by straining the engines does the ship break free. They discover they are inside a solar system encased by a force shield.
From without it is impossible to see in. Inside, it is impossible to see out. The sky, except for a single sun is a uniform black, no stars, no light anywhere.
Helpless now, the engines burned out, with just enough power for a single charge of the phasers, the Enterprise waits for the death blow.
(The Teaser is the only break Lucas indicates in this outline. So I'll just tell the story without guessing where the act breaks would have fallen.)
The Enterprise waits for over an hour, dead in space. The "Thalabdium windings on the valves which control the plasma flow of the matter, antimatter reactor" have been fused and are inoperable. Without more of this metal, repair of the engines is impossible.
They have fourteen hours of air left on the ship.
Spock's sensor probes of the five planets in this enclosed system finds only one of them inhabited -- by an agricultural humanoid race. And, miracle of miracles, there are spectral traces of Thalabdium in an ore state on this world.
Scotty opines if they can mine some of the Thalabdium and refine it he can fix the reactor.
But how can they refine it? Where to get that kind of pressure and heat?
Kirk takes a landing party down to the planet. Accompanying him are Spock and Ivan Mentor, the ship's metallurgical engineer.
They make first contact with the natives who are gathering water at a stream. They are a race which appears almost Biblical in their dress and habits. Women are scared by them and flee, the men grab wooden staffs and face the three. But the men, too, give into their terror and flee.
Kirk orders Dr. Andrea Schwartz, the ship's archaeologist, and Juan Nevins, the ship's ethnologist, Dr. McCoy and a guard to beam down. The first two because Kirk wants a record made of this society.
Not far from the stream they find a small deserted village of adobe huts set amid fields of grain. Fires are still going so it is evident the village is inhabited, just deserted at the moment.
Kirk is about to move on when there is movement in the grain field. A female creeps toward a hut and retrieves a very sick baby. Kirk and company go to the hut, she is terrified of them until Kirk talks to her via the universal translator (well, Lucas says a portable computer unit, but it is the same thing).
Her name is Rhodan and she thinks Kirk and crew are the "spirits of the Old Ones" come to take her baby.
McCoy examines the sick baby -- just a simple bacterial infection. He administers antibiotics and the baby bounces back to health within moments. Kirk attempts to explain to Rhodan that they are not spirits. Spock asks about the Old Ones. Her answers are fuzzy but seem to point to a sort of Olympus in which powerful spirits dwell.
The "Rulers" of her people are able to keep the spirits placated. She has no concept of what a planet is, but the world is called Djenquo. Her people are the Djen.
Kirk, Spock and Mentor leave to inspect what looks like an impact crater. Mentor locates a vein of Thalabdium, sets up equipment to assay it.
Dr. Schwartz and the guard go on to check for other villages.
While McCoy is busy taking bacterial samples, Rhodan sneaks away, returns with Orthos, the village headman.
Orthos is frightened, but to save face he acts courageous. He is shocked when he sees Rhodan's now healthy baby. It should be dead! He is angered when he learns the strangers have cured it.
The baby was "marked for the Old Ones," Orthos says. It is accursed. To interfere with the will of the Old Ones is to "raise ourselves." Rhodan pleads that the strangers have great power and can help.
Orthos orders his village (the inhabitants have crept back in, one-by-one, upon seeing Orthos' outward display of courage) to follow him, and they retreat some distance away.
Rhodan is torn, but stays with those who have saved her baby. She explains that every year the Old Ones take many children as sick as her baby. McCoy tries to explain in as simple terms as possible the actual natural causes of illness. Rhodan is very intelligent and seems to grasp the rudiments of what he is saying.
We learn from her that the Rulers are a type of tribal priesthood who keep the others in abject fear.
Dr. Schwartz calls in, she has found something important, but the guard is in trouble.
Kirk finds Schwartz by a volcanic rift. Inside the fissure, the guard is suspended in midair. McCoy checks, but is too late. The guard is dead.
Beyond this shield that holds the guard (the same power signature as the shield surrounding the solar system, only opaque) can be seen a magnificent city. With a portable tractor beam, Kirk recovers the body of the guard.
There is no sign of life in the city beyond the rift. Schwartz surmises the city was built long ago by the ancestors of the simple people who have survived them.
Kirk and McCoy return to check on Mentor's mining progress.
Later, back at the fissure, two Djen, dressed in white robes, wait. They seem possessed. An old male, Zelos, is the leader of the two. The other, a beautiful young female, is called Kallos. Kirk and McCoy are both impressed by her beauty.
Zelos accuses them of "raising themselves" by entering the place of the Old Ones.
Kirk asks if they come from the city in the volcanic rift behind the shield. The two Djen seem shocked and insulted.
Zelos explains that no one has entered the city since the Old Ones left. When asked how long ago that was by Kirk, Zelos says, "Before all time."
Kirk tries to explain that they simply want to mine some Thalabdium, then leave, but Kallos says that since they have entered the place of the Old Ones, they will surely die.
Kirk's log tells us the mining for the Thalabdium is in progress, and he speculates the Djen are descended from the ancient people who built the city, perhaps the "Old Ones" the Djen have spoken of. He describes several crewmen as having weird mental symptoms which McCoy ascribes to nervous tension.
When Kirk and McCoy return to the village Rhodan is not to be found and the villagers retreat from them. McCoy finds Rhodan dead near the stream. He can discover no cause of her death, however.
Mentor calls Kirk--the Two Rulers, Zelos and Kallos, are there protesting the desecration of the land by mining. Despite their protests Kirk orders the mining to continue, though to Spock he admits it might be interfering in these people's religion, thus might be a violation of Article 1.
Scotty still wants to know where the power to process the ore will come from. Kirk hopes to get the Rulers on his side, and gain entry to the city, where there might be power to process it.
Kirk and Spock speculate that the power to the shield that surrounds the solar system is broadcast from the city. They plan to tap into the wavelength of that broadcast power.
Suddenly a crewman is overcome with neurosis, falls, screaming. McCoy can find no discernible cause for the man's breakdown.
Mentor calls from the mine. When Kirk arrives, two crewmen are dead and the pile of Thalabdium ore is gone. Mentor admits to being away for no more than two minutes when this happened. Again, McCoy cannot find a cause of death for the two crewmen.
Kirk speculates the Rulers took the ore. How, Spock asks, since their technology has not even progressed to the level of a wheelbarrow. "The Olds Ones," whoever they are, must have done it.
Kirk realizes that the man who collapsed in pain did so at the exact same moment the ore disappeared and the other two crewmen died.
Spock has assembled the device to tap into the broadcast power emanating from the old city. But something feeds back into it, destroys it.
Sulu calls from the ship -- the first signs of anoxia are appearing in the crew. Something must be done fast.
Kirk attempts to talk to Zelos and Kallos, the Rulers, asks them about the Old Ones. They run away, but a crewman stuns Kallos as Zelos escapes.
Kallos regains consciousness in Sickbay aboard the Enterprise. McCoy rates her as "no more different from us than Spock." McCoy also tells Kirk that the men who suffered neurotic breakdowns all had high psi scores. This gives Spock an idea.
Kirk has a long talk with Kallos, tries to convince her of his peaceful ways, tries to learn more about the Old Ones. "Were the Old Ones warlike? Did they conquer the Djen? Is that why you're so afraid of aggression?"
But Kallos is still too panicked to talk. Kirk takes her to a stateroom and orders that she be made to view history tapes of Earth to show her that they are a good people. But when she does so, she concentrates only on all the wars and bloodshed. Kirk gives her a Patented Kirk Speech about how mankind has risen above all that. But Kallos refuses to discuss it with him any further.
Air continues to run out on the Enterprise. Kirk orders everyone not absolutely essential to the operation of the ship is ordered to lie down.
Spock has tapped into the broadcast frequency that the city uses to hold the solar system forcefield in place. As Spock suspected after learning that the men overcome by neurosis at the exact time the ore disappeared had high psi scores it is broadcast via mental energy, rather like telekinesis. Spock demonstrates by concentrating and causing the communicator to float up from Kirk's waist. Spock speculates that even an Earth brain could possibly learn to tap the frequency.
Spock says he can now use this power his brain is tapping into to process the ore, perhaps even instantaneously transmute it into the windings for the plasma flow valves.
Kirk orders everyone except the engine room crew to take their emergency hypno-thermal pills. He will then lower the temperature of the entire ship except the engine room, transporter room and bridge to freezing, slowing the breathing and heartbeats of everyone to just a fraction above the level of physical death.
Every last bit of energy left is used to transport up the ore that Mentor has mined since the other ore disappeared.
Kirk gets a call from a security guard. Kallos has disappeared. The guard says she was there in her guarded stateroom one minute, then he glanced away, and when he glanced back she was gone. Perhaps the Old Ones took her with their power, Kirk and Spock speculate. Scotty calls from the engine room. Kallos is there, and has put two of his men into a deep coma. Scotty was finally able to stop her with a stun charge from his phaser.
In the engine room, Kirk and Spock find Kallos just coming around. Scotty reports that he caught her tampering with the matter/antimatter unit. She had rigged it to explode.
But how would Kallos know what circuits to tamper with, Spock asks, unless she was instructed by --
Kallos attempts to run, Kirk draws his phaser, stuns her to unconsciousness again.
Mentor calls from the surface. Kallos' fellow Ruler Zelos has created a forcefield around the mine. Mentor's crew can't get out.
Kirk has had enough. He asks Spock to initiate a Vulcan Mind Meld with Kallos to find out exactly what she knows.
As Scotty fixes the circuits Kallos tampered with, Spock initiates the meld. After a few moments, Spock, deadly white, breaks the meld. "There are no Old Ones," he tells Kirk. "These are the same people." The Rulers are a select group and closely guard the secret of the knowledge handed down by their ancestors from all the other Djen.
So now they know how the Rulers do it, but Kirk wants to know why. "Fear," Spock says. "There's a terrible fear of strangers. An almost psychopathic fear. I've placed a post hypnotic suggestion, telling her we are friends, we mean no harm. But I'm not sure we can trust its effectiveness."
Kirk asks if Spock is up to using his newly gained power to create Thalabdium directly without even having to use the ore. Spock will try.
Kallos is suddenly surrounded by a forcefield. Phasers bounce off it. She informs Kirk that he and his people are too dangerous and must be removed. Kirk plays the old "Well since you're going to kill us anyway, why don't you explain the entire plot to us" card.
Kallos then proceeds with three pages of dialogue basically explaining that her people in ancient times became so powerful that they wiped themselves out. Only a few survived on this single world. Five people with the mental power decided that they could never allow their race to destroy itself again, so each generation since then there have been three Rulers to watch over the people, make sure they lead simple, happy lives.
Kirk then gives her another Patented Kirk Speech showing her the error of her ways, tells her how it is wrong to keep her people stagnant, and not allow them to grow. He continues to plead with her even as the air runs out, and he has to gasp out his final page of dialogue.
Oh, and Rhodan was Kallos' mother.
Finally Kallos agrees to give the ship enough power to beam up their people from the planet below. With Kallos' aid, Spock concentrates and, voila, his mental power causes the windings to appear on the flow valves. Energy floods through the ship, the air is back on. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
Before Kallos leaves, Kirk urges her to try to persuade the other Rulers to let down the shield, and to allow the Djen to progress normally. She agrees to give it a try.
The Enterprise is free to go. Away from the city on the planet where the power was broadcast from Spock, of course, will not be able to utilize the great powers he gained.
On the bridge, Kirk and Spock hope that she was able to change the minds of the other xenophobic Rulers.
Though I think the late John Meredyth Lucas is one of the unsung geniuses behind Star Trek (he is the only writer to have directed one of his own episodes: "Elaan of Troyius"), I found this story somewhat tedious and uninvolving. It is yet another story of a people held in sway by either politics or religion. I'm not sure what came first, "The Apple" or "The Lost Star," but both explore basically the same idea, an entire race of people held in subjugation to either power-hungry priests or papier-mache fanged computers. And don't get me started on the mumbo-jumbo pseudo-science claptrap that allowed Spock to tap into the power of the "Old Ones" and instantaneously create fully conductive windings.
To paraphrase a line of Kirk's: Writing genius doesn't work on an assembly line basis. You can't simply say "Today I will write a brilliant story outline."
JOHN MEREDYTH LUCAS (1919-2002): Writer, director and producer, who wrote for film and television from 1950 to 1989. He was the son of screenwriter Bess Meredyth and writer/director Wilfred Lucas, and adopted son of legendary director Michael Curtiz (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca). Series he wrote and/or directed for include Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Ben Casey, Mannix, Night Gallery and The Six Million Dollar Man. For Star Trek, he produced the second season from "Journey to Babel" to "Assignment: Earth." He wrote "The Changeling," "Patterns of Force," "Elaan of Troyius" and "That Which Survives." He directed "The Ultimate Computer," "Elaan of Troyius" and "The Enterprise Incident."
Free counters provided by Andale.
Click here to return to the Unseen
Click here to return to the Articles Page.
Click here to return to the Main Index Page.