(written from a Production point of view)
An alien form invades the Enterprise through Spock's mind!
- "Captain's log, Stardate 21:06.7 - The Enterprise was cruising through Galaxy Telpha Z... Expedition operations were normal... Until Mr. Spock's red alert button flashed in Main Control..."
Spock has detected a nearby planet that appears to be changing its chemistry every few minutes. The Enterprise approaches the planet Metamorpha and it changes again before their eyes. Captain Kirk asks Spock how this is possible and Spock tells him that there are traces of tiantianium, the most precious metal in the galaxy, on the planet. An ounce of this material can propel a starship for a year.
The Enterprise enters the atmosphere and the crew looks more closely at it with their telescopes. Kirk decides to take a landing party down to the planet and leave Scotty in charge of the vessel. Dr. McCoy, Spock, and a security officer, Crewman Johnson, accompany him. When they beam down, a mountain suddenly rises up beside them, dislodging man-made objects, relics of a long-dead alien civilization.
Strange lights rise and attack the party, but retreat from both Kirk and Johnson. Their phasers do not have any effect, but the lights retreat regardless. They regroup and head toward Spock, swirl around him for a minute, and then vanish as mysteriously as they arrived.
The party continues to survey the planet looking for the tiantianium ore with their space-ore detectors. Suddenly, a geyser of water arises while McCoy, Kirk, and Johnson are in a small valley. Spock watches from above on a ledge and tells them to remain calm because they will be saved. He throws a rope to them and pulls all three up at once, surprising them with his strength. He attributes it to adrenalin. He cuts any further discussion by telling them that he has figured a way to extract the ore. However, to do so, they must regulate the planet and return it to normal.
Kirk notices that Spock seems to be acting very mechanically, but attributes it to concentrating on the problem at hand. Spock asks for an atomic rocket, four steel girders, and other required materials. They are beamed to the surface, and Spock goes to work, telling Kirk not to disturb him and directs them to a crater to the south. The transports head in that direction with the materials.
Meanwhile, it seems that the alien lights encountered earlier are controlling Spock's mind. They tell him about how the planet came to be many sun centuries before. A meteorite had pierced the planet in an area where the structure was weak, and impacted the molten mass of its core, changing the internal chemistry. This change vaporized the bodies of the inhabitants of the planet, turning them into light forms. Spock reasons that once all has corrected, the alien life would be returned to their original state.
In the crater, Spock wanders into a cave, directed by the aliens, and finds a chemical container that will neutralize the meteorite matter. He puts the chemicals into the rocket and they prepare to fire it at the core. Suddenly the planet begins changing again. The aliens direct Spock to stand and to have the Humans follow his lead. He leads them into a small cave on the crater wall where they will be safe. But the rocket needs to be realigned if "Project Planet Still" is to succeed. They do so and fire the rocket. It burrows deep into the planet, reaching the molten core, losing its chemicals as it does. An eerie mist-lie mixture rises out of the core through the hole created by the rocket.
When it reaches the surface, the light forms swirl out of Spock's head, and they take humanoid form. The mist continues to form, and a city, Hidenna, arises from the ground. Zarman offers to show them the nearest deposit of the ore which they so desperately seek.
As they head toward it, Spock realizes that six aliens entered him, but only five left. One was still inside, Textra, who sought escape, knowledge, and adventure – but Spock was being driven mad. Meanwhile, the landing party has extracted 200 galaxy pounds of the ore.
Spock seems to be suffering from the ordeal of having housed the aliens, and Textra will not allow him to reveal the truth. They beam back up to the Enterprise, and Spock attempts to tell Kirk by writing down the information. Textra forces him to throw the pen aside, and McCoy insists on taking him to sickbay at once.
In sickbay, a thought comes to Spock and he seizes it, leaping up from the bed, and staggering out of sickbay back to the teleportation chamber. He throws on both the materialization and dematerialization beams, and having his body caught in such a neutral zone forces the alien lifeform out of his body and back into its own form.
"Spock! I've had enough of your mumbo jumbo theories! Look at that - trees sprouting from sand... mountains rising! Nobody or anything can calm this planet down! I'm ordering an immediate teleportation back to the Enterprise!"
"Remain calm, Captain Kirk! I have my plan nearly completed! We shall conquer this planet's problems!"
- - Kirk and Spock
"Gr-great galloping galaxies – look!"
- - Kirk, shortly after teleporting to the planet's surface
- - McCoy and Spock, after the ordeal is over
- This story was reprinted in issue 35 of this series with a new cover. The story appeared again in Enterprise Log 1 and a later reprint of that volume from the Star Trek: The Key Collection series.
- The concept of a rapidly-aging planet was revisited in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and VOY: "Blink of an Eye".
- The concept of an extinct civilization inhabiting the crew's minds, including a malevolent consciousness remaining in Spock's mind, was also seen in TOS: "Return to Tomorrow".
- The cover photo in the upper left is of a giant humanoid on Taurus II from TOS: "The Galileo Seven".
- Based on Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
- Writer: Dick Wood
- Artist: Alberto Giolitti, Giovanni Ticci (inks)
- Cover artists for this release have not yet been identified. (reprint cover)
- Canon characters listed below are linked to the main article about them. Non-canon characters are not linked, but those that recurred, appearing or being mentioned in more than one story, are defined further in Gold Key TOS characters.
- James T. Kirk
- Enterprise captain. Kirk orders a team of six to the planet after discovering precious substances there.
- Vulcan Enterprise exec and science officer. Spock detects the rapidly-aging planet on his panel.
- Leonard McCoy
- Enterprise surgeon. McCoy accompanies the team down to the planet surface.
- Montgomery Scott
- Enterprise chief engineer. Scotty is left in command of the ship when the landing party departs.
- Enterprise crewman who joins the landing team. Probably the same Lieutenant Johnson who appeared in TOS: "Day of the Dove".
- Representative of the Metamorphans.
- Metamorphan possessor.
- A town lived in by the Metamorphans.
- A quick changing planet.
- An inhabitant of the planet.
- When Kirk orders Spock to find a way to retrieve the tiantiantanium ore from Metamorpha, Spock replies he will need an atomic rocket.
- Telpha Z
- Kirk records in his log the Enterprise is passing through "Galaxy Telpha Z", although this nomenclature presumably refers to a point within the Milky Way Galaxy.
- Material which, according to Kirk, is precious above all due to the ability to propel a starship for over a year. Spock credits this material with planet Metamorpha's strange makeup. It has the elemental symbol of TI.
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