(written from a Production point of view)
Under the command of Captain James T. Kirk the Starship Enterprise held a steady course through the Zeta Stentor system, en route for the planet Selkye. On board the great ship was a party of scientists and technicians whose mission was to set up a base on Selkye and investigate its possibilities for colonization by mankind.
As the Enterprise arrives at the uninhabited planet Selkye, Captain Kirk's new friend, Professor Richard Spellman, informs him that the world should be ideal for colonization. A landing party including Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Professor Spellman, and his team take a shuttle to the surface. It sets down in the ruins of a city, and the crew marvel at the ruins, evidence of a dead civilization.
Exploring the relics, Professor Spellman's assistant, Professor Ravel, is started to discover a corpse-like creature sprawled on the ground. Resembling a humanoid toad, it has an appearance of having been dead a long time, yet shows no signs of decomposition. Eight of the toad-creatures are found. As the crew discuss the carcasses, some small furry animals crawl over to them. They have no visible eyes, mouth, or legs, and move by stretching and contracting. The crew take an instant, irresistible liking to them, and McCoy takes one as a pet, naming it Beavo. The Enterprise crewmembers return to the ship, bringing along a toad-creature for study. Kirk puts the creature in a storage cupboard, and McCoy notes that Beavo likes everyone but Spock.
The ship departs Selkye for its next mission, and Doctor McCoy sets about to complete some paperwork, Beavo in hand. After a few hours, he feels unusually tired, and decides to turn in for the evening. At the same time, the withered toad-creature in storage begins to change in appearance, vigor returning to its withered form.
The following morning, McCoy awakes, feeling drained instead of refreshed. Spock meets up with him and, despite the Doctor saying he is only tired, Spock thinks he is sick and reports it to the Captain. Kirk, Spock, and Uhura go to McCoy's quarters. McCoy insists he is fine, but Uhura takes Beavo to look after. As Kirk, Spock, and Uhura walk through a corridor, they pass the storage cupboards. One of them bursts open, and the toad-creature leaps at the startled crewmen. Spock grapples with the beast, and Kirk grabs a phaser, stunning it. He orders the toad put back into storage with guards posted.
Returning to Selkye, Kirk, Spock, and a weakened McCoy take a shuttle back down to the ruins. The Professor's engineers have already assembled a structure and are inside. Approaching the building, the crewmen are attacked by more toad-creatures, and Spock covers his friends' entrance by stunning the horde of toads with phaser fire. Inside, the researcher team has all been struck with a mysterious illness. The sickened scientists lament that as they grow weaker, the creatures outside are getting stronger. Kirk and Spock go back outside, and phaser every toad-creature in sight.
Kirk calls up the Enterprise, ordering Scotty to send down the ferry, so that all of the research team can be evacuated. Scotty says that he can't send the ferry until morning, as six crewmen have been injured. The toad-creature in storage had escaped once more, and went on a rampage until Scotty disabled it. He also reports that Uhura is now sick, with the same symptoms as Doctor McCoy. Kirk then realizes what is happening, and gives Scotty further orders.
Handing Spock a metal container, he instructs him to gather up all the beavos among the researchers. When dawn arrives and the ferry lands, Kirk and Spock leave the compound; all of the toad-creatures outside once again appear dead. Back on the Enterprise, Scotty informs the Captain that he followed his instructions; he picked up Beavo with metal tongs and stored him in a metal box.
Back on the bridge, Kirk explains what happened to the recovered crewmen and researchers. He says that the beavos were not lifeforms at all. Each toad creature possessed a beavo that sought out living energy sources and transferred the absorbed life force through space to the creatures. They had found no other forms of life on Selkye because the beavos had drained the life from them. Kirk offers the researchers the consolation that their experience has added to man's store of knowledge.
"I'll put this mummified toad in store cupboard "B"... and keep the door locked!"
- - Kirk, retrieving a specimen for study
- The uniforms and Scotty's haircut date this story between "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "Spectre of the Gun". The story spans two days.
- The abstract picture of the Enterprise on the title page, similar to the one on the cover, was rendered by a different artist than the rest of the story.
- The planet Selkye is almost certainly named for selkies, mythological sea creatures that had the ability to turn into a man, aptly alluding to the toad-creatures. From an in-universe perspective, it is an incredible coincidence that the planet had this name. If Starfleet had visited the world in the past and named it after its inhabitants, Kirk and the scientists should have had access to this basic information. The name "Zeta Stentor" is apparently a reference to Stentor, a mythological herald. The beavos could be viewed as heralds to the toad men.
- Kirk wears a red uniform, as does McCoy in one panel. Spock wears a gold uniform in one panel.
- The "big shuttlecraft", also described as a ferry, is similar in design to a Class F shuttlecraft, but is colored red, like the space bugs seen in earlier UK stories.
- The crew's instant affection for and attachment to the beavos echos their reaction to tribbles in "The Trouble with Tribbles". Beavo's dislike for Spock could possibly be due to a need for it to feed off of emotion, rather than Spock's different body chemistry. This could mean that the energy transferred from the beavos to the toad-creatures was psionic in nature, thus explaining why it was not undetected.
- It is not clear why Kirk has Uhura come along to McCoy's quarters to check on him, unless she has some sort of unrevealed medical experience.
- "Planet of the Dead" was also the title of a 2009 Doctor Who television story.
- Professor Jean Ravel
- Professor Richard Spellman
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