(written from a Production point of view)
As the Enterprise explores Galaxy 517, Uhura picks up strange transmissions. When the audio is played, it sounds like sighing. There is no response to any hails, yet Spock reasons that it could not have been a natural phenomenon.
Arriving at the planet Alpha 332, Spock notes the world's remarkable similarity to Earth, as well as the planet's potential to support life. Scanning the surface, an active volcano is discovered, and Kirk theorizes that it may have some connection to the transmissions. Spock's readings show that the volcano is on the verge of erupting in as little as a few hours. Uhura gets another signal and is able to pinpoint its location - the same spot as the volcano. Kirk and Spock decide to beam to the surface to investigate.
On Alpha 332, Kirk coughs in reaction to the sulfurous atmosphere, though it does not bother Spock. Stumbling through the thick cloud, the men hear the familiar loud sighing noise. They see a crowd of people prostrating themselves to the ground in obeisance, sighing loudly in unison. An elaborately yet scantily clad priestess sees Kirk and Spock, and greets them as "Messengers of the Fiery One". Kirk cannot hear her, and Spock observes that she communicates with telepathy.
The priestess, Maracu, tells Spock that her people, the Parracas, have been at war for centuries with the Turracas, who live on the other side of Biluddin, their sacred volcano. She has told her people that the Fiery One is angry with all of the killing, and has prayed for help. Kirk contacts Scotty, still aboard the Enterprise, who reports that Biluddin could erupt at any moment. Spock tells Maracu that her people are in great danger, and has them evacuate their village.
Wanting to warn the Turracas as well, Kirk and Spock mount large animals and ride around Biluddin. Before long, they are ambushed by a group of Turracas. They recognize the animals as Parraca beasts, and their leader, Turr, telepathically sentences them to death as allies of their enemies. Spock cautions Turr that he and his people are in great danger from Biluddin. Turr dismisses any threat, asserting that the Turracas are not afraid of anything, and that the mountain obeys him as master. Turr decides to offer up Kirk and Spock to Biluddin. Spock remarks that it is strange that Biluddin symbolizes peace to the Parracas, but war to the Turracas.
After climbing to the smoldering peak of Biluddin, Turr prepares to throw Kirk and Spock inside. Spock objects, claiming that his people grant their enemies time to pray. Turr concedes, and Kirk signals Scotty, who beams them up. The Turracas are frightened, thinking that the men were spirits of the mountain. The Turracas abandon Turr, who is consumed in the erupting volcano. As the Enterprise departs, Kirk is glad that at least the peaceful tribe was spared, while Spock ponders how the Parracas were able to broadcast their thoughts through space.
"Bang on the spot where our volcano lies, captain!"
"I can hardly believe it!"
"One's logic is tested, I agree, captain!"
- - Kirk and Spock, exploring Alpha 332
"That's your trouble, Mr. Spock. You see things as logical or illogical. The Human mind is open to such enigmas!"
Background information Edit
- The uniforms and Scotty's haircut date this story between "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "Spectre of the Gun". If the stardate of "32-19-25" is read as "3219.25", this would place the story in 2267-2268, between "The City on the Edge of Forever" and "Spectre of the Gun".
- Although Kirk claims Galaxy 517 is uncharted, Spock notes the name of the planet they encounter as Alpha 332. It is possible that the designation "Galaxy 517" is an abbreviation for Sector 517 of the Milky Way Galaxy, as it is very unlikely that the Enterprise would leave its home galaxy.
- This is the second UK Annual story in a row to depict an erupting volcano.
- Spock examines data on the volcano from a computer printout, not unlike the one seen in "The Cage".
- Spock says that breathing a sulfurous atmosphere does not bother Vulcans.
- Maracu has the distinction of being the only female lead character in any of the UK Annual stories aside from Uhura.
- Kirk and Spock violate the Prime Directive by imposing their values and posing as deities to the Parracas and the Turracas, two pre-industrial tribes.
- The Parracas and Turracas appear to be not only different tribes, but different species. Whereas the Parracas appear near-Human, the Turracas resemble apes, albeit apes wearing samurai armor.
- Maracu, priestess of the Parracas
- Turr, lord of the Turracas
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