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written by Darlene Hartman
unproduced story outline, dated
July 24, 1967
report & analysis by Dave Eversole

TEASER

The Enterprise arrives at the planet Alpha Cygni 12, an M-type world which has never been visited by humans. The ship settles into orbit and scans show it is a moderate, lush and green planet, with a surprisingly small number of humanoids livings there. There are no signs of industry, no mechanization, and very few structures of any kind -- undoubtedly a primitive society. Kirk calls for a landing party consisting of himself, Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scott, Uhura and Chekov.

Kirk is worried about something else as he makes final arrangements to beam to the surface. Dr. McCoy has been acting very tired lately, irritable, harder than normal to get along with. Kirk had even attempted to order the doctor to take a psychological profile, but McCoy had bluntly told Kirk to mind his own business.

Suddenly McCoy bursts onto the bridge, angry and irrational. He tells Kirk to stop meddling in the affairs of peaceful people, like those on Alpha Cygni 12. Kirk is astonished at this outburst, and tries to reason with McCoy, but the good doctor won’t listen. He hands Kirk an electronic noteboard -- on it is written McCoy’s letter of resignation. When the Enterprise again reaches a Federation base, McCoy is leaving Starfleet.

ACT ONE

Kirk and Spock discuss McCoy. Spock maintains that the long voyage and McCoy’s great responsibilities have become too much for him to handle.

Kirk decides to force McCoy to beam to the planet below with the landing party. He hopes the green grass and fresh air will serve as therapy. He tells McCoy he can resign later, but for now he is still under his command. McCoy fumes, but orders are orders. The landing party reports to the transporter room and beams down.

The soothing planet at first has no effect on McCoy. Almost clinically depressed, he continues to rage about being forced to live in sterile quarters on a starship, rages about the strict military structure he has lived under for so long, rages about his distress at seeing men and women die and being unable to help them. Kirk and Spock fear he is going into a complete mental breakdown.

As Kirk and crew continue to scout out the area they have beamed down to, they discover, in a flowered glade, near a waterfall, a beautiful sculpture -- a man and a woman. Spock comments that a sculpture of this remarkable beauty is beyond the capabilities of even the finest Vulcan sculptors, in fact, he knows of no known sculptor in the galaxy who could do finer work. It is certainly beyond the abilities of the planet’s primitive humanoids.

The landing party continues on -- find more sculptures, a landscape painted on a flat rock, and a mobile made of precious gems, weaving in the breeze.

And beneath the mobile, weaving a tapestry, is a beautiful girl of about 13, dressed in a Grecian-type simple gown. Doves sit on her shoulders, animals sit peacefully near her, and she sings a hauntingly beautiful song.

Mesmerized, Kirk and crew move in closer, but the girl flees like a startled deer. Kirk sends Chekov and Uhura to follow her in one direction, Spock and Scotty in another, and he and McCoy go in yet another.

McCoy grumbles all the way, calls Kirk a "stuffed shirt," but Kirk puts up with it. They come upon a formal garden, filled with Cygnean natives sculpting, painting, playing music, creating various works of art. Like the girl, all are dressed in simple robes. Noticeably, they are all rather youthful, with no elderly natives to be seen.

Kirk and McCoy learn from Thon, the handsome leader of these people, that there are many residents of the planet, all living in idyllic enclaves such as this.

Spock and Scott join them. Soon Kirk and Spock learn from Thon that the very idea of industry, of work for work’s sake, is alien to them. They live only for their arts, though they do not consider their artwork of a very high order. To them it is a pathetic attempt to copy the reality of Shol.

"What is Shol?" Kirk asks. There is veneration and awe and happiness in Thon’s voice: "Shol is everything, it is the great beginning, the source and end of knowledge. It is where we go."

Kirk realizes that this explains why there are no elderly natives. Thon tells him indeed, they are in Shol. As Thon speaks further Kirk realizes that Shol is not a euphemism for death. It is a living thing, an entity.

Kirk asks where he can find Shol. "Anywhere," Thon says. "Everywhere. You need not find him. When he wants you, you will know."

"What then," asks Kirk.

"And then," Thon says, awed, "then you join Shol.

Kirk is uneasy, contacts Chekov and Uhura, and orders them to join the rest of the landing party at the formal garden. Chekov and Uhura have sighted the child and will bring her back with them. Kirk puts away his communicator, glances about at the natives, once again busy at their artwork.

When Chekov and Uhura do not immediately return, Kirk calls them again. Their voices do not sound right as they reply. The young girl has been speaking of something called Shol, is now leading them to its dwelling. Kirk sharply orders them back, but they report that they are now there " . . .just a minute, Captain. . . something. . ."

And the communicator link goes dead.

Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scott follow Thon who knows where to go. They race down a trail, come to barren rocky valley, a place with an eerie sensation of a presence, as if something awesome and terrible had just been here, but had departed. A jagged rocky cleft is glowing with light, and there we see the bodies of Uhura and Chekov, both quite dead.

ACT TWO

McCoy checks the bodies, but can find no reason why they should be dead, no wounds, no injuries, nothing. It is as if their life-forces, their souls, had been drawn from them.

Kirk orders life-support chambers beamed down, and the bodies of Uhura and Chekov are placed inside, so that physiological "life" may be sustained, and the bodies’ deteriorization prevented.

Kirk angrily questions Ayesha, the young girl. "Who did this? What happened?" She smiles and says, "They joined Shol."

Thon is outraged. He rails about the two strangers daring to join Shol, while he had waited for so long. It was to have been his turn to join Shol next. How dare they take his turn away!

Kirk decides once and for all to get to the bottom of this. He orders several Enterprise scientists and sociologists to beam down to the surface. With Spock in charge of the operation, they are to examine the planet and its people in detail to ascertain what Shol is.

Initial reports soon come in. The doctors report the natives are in perfect health. . . too perfect. Not a single disease is found, nor evidence that there has ever been disease on this world. The ecologists report that the world is in perfect ecological balance. . . again, too perfect. The psychiatrists report that the natives’ attitude toward Shol is possibly pathological. They suspect that the entire population is under a subtle form of hypnosis by a cunning, intelligent being.

Kirk finally draws a comparison to this situation and "meat farmers" on Earth -- farmers who fatten their cattle in pleasant surroundings, only to slaughter them.

But here, the "cattle" are beautiful, intelligent peaceful people.

ACT THREE

Kirk puts his people on yellow alert, and has Security Chief Kles Mennon (of a race called the Shurilala, who resemble Polynesians) to transport down with a squad of his best marksmen. The Enterprise herself is put on emergency standby, phasers armed.

McCoy, still grumbling away, and Scott scout the rocky hills near the valley where the bodies of Uhura and Chekov were found. Suddenly the light around them changes and they (but not the viewing audience) see the being that is Shol. "We found it, Jim!" McCoy yells into his communicator. Kirk orders him away, but at the same time Spock calls, asks McCoy to describe it. McCoy moves closer to the shimmering luminescent light. Scott tries to stop him. Both drop as they touch the light that is Shol.

Security Chief Mennon and his squad arrive seconds too late, fire their phasers at the fading light. McCoy and Scott are also dead, and Kirk has their bodies placed in life-support cabinets and beamed back to the Enterprise with the first two.

Kirk orders Mennon to spearhead a search-and-destroy mission, using the Enterprise’s pin-point sensors to locate Shol. This creature, whatever it is, has killed four of his people. He means to have its head.

At the garden, Spock has finished his questioning of Thon and his people, has read all the final reports, and has compiled all the known information on Shol.

He is appalled!

A terrible mistake has been made! He must get to Kirk before Kirk gets to Shol. Spock races into the night, searching for Kirk.

Kirk, shouting for Shol, comes to the rocky cleft where Uhura and Chekov were found.

The cleft begins to glow as the light forms, faintly at first, then it coalesces, gains brilliance, grows. Kirk is drawn to it, but pulls himself together, raises his phaser, aims, as he walks closer and closer.

ACT FOUR

Spock slides down a rock, stumbles, regains his footing, races to Kirk, knocks the phaser from his hand. Kirk seems like a sleepwalker, shakes his head to clear it.

Spock explains that Shol is not one creature, but hundreds of millions of intelligences, a "Oneness." He also believes that McCoy, Scott, Chekov and Uhura are still alive, existing in those myriad intelligences, in that oneness. It is possible to get them back, Spock says. How, Kirk wants to know.

"By joining Shol. By going into Infinity and bringing them back."

At first Kirk wants to take the risk of joining Shol, but Spock reminds him of his telepathic gifts as a Vulcan. He could withstand the pressures of the millions of minds far better than Kirk. Kirk agrees.

The life-support chambers of the four crewmembers are beamed down from the Enterprise, along with a fifth chamber for Spock’s body. When all is prepared, Spock calmly walks up and touches Shol. He drops, dead. His body is quickly put into the life-support chamber. Nothing seems to happen, all wait expectantly.

In the hills high above them, Kles Mennon and his squad continue their search for Shol, unaware of what is transpiring in the valley below. They spot the distant light at the rocky cleft, and heft their phasers and start down toward it.

Kirk and the others note a change in the body of Shol – disturbances in the light, flickering sparks, strange sounds, almost like birdsong. It seems as if the light is being pulled apart from within.

Mennon is suddenly there, fires his phaser at Shol. Thon throws himself between Mennon and Shol, and finally gets his wish to join it.

Then Shol throbs, the sounds pitch higher and higher, and it is shot through with blackness. The Cygneans begin to scream and cry, and there is a great mournful sound, and then a sound as if a million sobbing voices had begun to wail.

And Shol fades, fades, fades. . .

All five of the Enterprise crewmen begin to stir in their chambers. Soon their lifesigns are back to normal. As Kirk waits for his crewmen to be released from the chambers he is surprised by the Cygneans’ behavior. Instead of being glad to be rid of Shol, they stare at him with hatred.

When the crewmembers are removed from the chambers Kirk is shocked when Uhura turns to him in fury. Instead of being grateful to be back, she hates Kirk for taking her away from the joy that was Shol. Scott and Chekov also stare furiously at Kirk.

From the outline:

"And McCoy? Full of regret and a deep sadness. . . but there is no sign of his mental abberations. Normal. . . the wise tolerant humanist, who says that humans aren’t innocent."

"Jim, let’s go back to the ship, get back to work. We aren’t capable of knowing, of realizing, such joy."

Kirk is stunned at their reactions, turns to Spock who is the last to recover. The logical Spock will surely have the answers Kirk is looking for.

But no, Spock is also shaken by the experience, crushed by the guilt of knowing he helped Kirk destroy Shol.

Ayesha wipes tears from her eyes, stares up at Kirk. "What will we do?" she asks. "Where will we go? Why are we here now?"

Kirk does not answer. There is no answer.

Aboard the Enterprise, things slowly return to normal. The sadness is replaced by serenity, and all know their place in the universe. McCoy rescinds his resignation.

But Kirk is haunted by what he helped destroy. Man will never colonize Alpha Cygni 12. It will be off-limits in the hope that someday, perhaps eons from now, a portion of Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana. . . Shol, will once again touch this world.

From the outline:

"Across the galaxy we pursue it, through a million light years, never knowing what it is we are hunting for. And then we find it, and we destroy it, and continue our search. A terrible, cosmic joke, and somewhere God laughs. . . and it echoes down the corridors of stars, endlessly, eternally. . . and always unreachable."

If this had been a short story written in the style of, say, Ray Bradbury or Theodore Sturgeon, it would have made a touching piece. As an episode of Star Trek. . . I just don’t know. Our two leads murder God, in so many words. Had it been bought and produced, undoubtedly, it would have been rewritten so that Shol was destroyed by a Federation researcher who had gone mad, a la John Gill in "Patterns of Force."

But the final paragraph, quoted above, would have made a dandy speech for Shatner to deliver.

Oh, and you’d think Spock could have easily contacted Kirk via his communicator to divulge the secret of Shol. And Mennon, hell of a Security Chief to be wandering around in the hills and attacking without maybe, perhaps, ya think, calling Kirk (or vice-versa) to possibly find out what’s going on. . . ?

And does Shol remind anybody else of Sybok or the Nexus?


Darlene Artell Hartman (1934- ): Science fiction writer who uses the pen name Simon Lang. She is best known for her Einai series of novels, which closely resemble the Star Trek universe.  They center on Captain Paul Riker and half-human science officer Dao Marik of the U.S.S. Skipjack.  Novels in the series are:  All The Gods of Eisernon (1973), The Elluvon Gift (1975), The Trumpets of Tagan (1992), Timeslide (1993) and Hopeship (1994).


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