"Are Unheard Memories Sweet?"

Written by Worley Thorne

Though this script called for nudity and suggestive situations that probably would not have been filmed, let alone allowed to air, the story is a standard Star Trek adventure. Once again, the Enterprise is trapped in a failing orbit without dilithium as an alien race attempts to capture the crew. By the time of The Next Generation, damaged or missing dilithium was recognized as an overused plot element, and the bible for that series specifically stated that the new Enterprise's dilithium could easily be replaced.
Worley Thorne also wrote the teleplay for The Next Generation episode "Justice," sharing story credit with "Ralph wills," the pseudonym of John D. F Black.

In orbit of the sole planet of the thirty-ninth star of the Hyades star cluster, the Enterprise searches for traces of the vanished starship St. Louis and its captain and crew, lost while mapping the star cluster. Lieutenant Xon's scanning indicates that there are signs of humanoid life on the planet, in addition to the Enterprise's landing party. Though the leader of that party, Commander Decker, has yet to report contact, he has located the area that ship's sensors mark as inhabited.

However, when Xon contacts Decker on the surface, he reports back that the ship's sensors must be faulty. There are no inhabitants. Kirk asks Xon to recheck his equipment, with Commander Sulu's assistance.

Sulu asks Kirk if it is true that Kirk knew the captain of the St. Louis, Michael Schwerner. Kirk replies that he and Schwerner have a friendly rivalry that goes back to their days as classmates at the academy. When he recalls that Schwerner was first to make lieutenant, McCoy notes that Kirk was first to command a starship.

On the surface of the planet, Chief Rand has located signs of artificial materials buried deep inside a hillside. Decker summons the two other members of his landing party and has them join with him in collectively training their four phasers on the hillside. He then leads the way into the hole produced by their phaser fire. Rand's tricorder indicates the exact combination of synthetics that are found in the hull of a starship. Decker has her beam samples up to the Enterprise so Xon can determine whether they came from the St. Louis. Decker and his team will continue their search for survivors.

On board the Enterprise, Xon has reconfirmed the presence of humanoid life on the planet. Commander Uhura tells Kirk that Rand is beaming up wreckage that might be from the St. Louis, and that Decker's team is looking for the missing crew. Kirk asks Xon to analyze the data in the lab.

Two of Decker's party, Kelly and Ibsen, while continuing the search on the surface, encounter a South Seas lagoon complete with bathing beauties. After but a brief hesitation, the two crew members enthusiastically throw off their uniforms -- and the customary rules that bind them -- to join the frolicking women. We see, but they do not, that the women 5 lovely eyes are unnaturally large, glowing, and luminous.

Xon reports to Kirk that his preliminary analysis of the wreckage indicates that it came from a spaceship that was driven deep into the ground by a fall from orbit. Kirk has difficulty accepting that it might be from his friend's ship. McCoy worries that Kirk's denial shows over involvement that threatens his judgment. Uhura reaches Kirk by intercom in the turbolift after he and McCoy leave Xon in the lab. She tells him that she is unable to reach crewmen Kelly and Ibsen for Commander Decker, and that now she is unable to reach Decker as well.

On the planet surface, Decker finds that he has just entered a place very familiar to him -- the Mariner's Park of the United Federation of Planets at Starfleet Academy, exactly as it appeared fourteen years ago. Just as he snaps on his wrist communicator, he sees a beautiful young woman, who draws closer and closer to him. Intoxicated, he kisses her. As they embrace, we see, but he does not, that her eyes have become extraordinarily luminous.

On the Enterprise, Uhura tells Kirk that one member of the landing party opened a channel, but then no message was sent. Kirk asks her to keep that channel open and try another.

In Mariner's Park, Decker and the young woman, Linda, converse and we become aware that Decker is regressing to young manhood, when he was a midshipman and still concerned about living up to his father's reputation and expectations. We learn that Decker's father was a commodore in Starfleet with the nickname "Old Hardnose." Linda urges Decker to let go, to loosen up and free himself, now. Decker exclaims that he no longer feels afraid of his father and kisses her again.

On the bridge of the Enterprise, Uhura detects some kind of interference on the open channel. Kirk asks her to put it on the audio. McCoy realizes they are listening to the sounds of heavy breathing and, Kirk adds, the rustling of clothes. Decker's voice confirms their suspicions: They are listening to a lovemaking conversation conducted by Commander Decker.

Kirk immediately asks Uhura to cut the audio. He asks her if she has obtained the coordinates of the transmission. When she answers in the affirmative, he tells her to notify the transporter room to beam Commander Decker on board, at once.

Decker dematerializes in Linda's embrace. As he leaves, the background changes to its true form: an alien city. With a smile, Linda changes into a beautiful alien, Ronel, an exotic female humanoid.

McCoy '5 examination of Decker reveals nothing foreign in his body, but his mind is still affected by whatever happened to him on the planet surface. He still believes he is a midshipman, wearing the uniform of a cadet, and he apologizes to Kirk for the trouble he is causing. He says he knows he should be in class right now.

Kirk checks in with Uhura to ask if she has located the landing party yet. She tells him she has not, although she has been maintaining steady signals on all channels. Kirk tells her to have Xon locate them with ship's sensors, but Xon' S voice on the intercom reports that he has already tried this without success. The ship's sensors cannot distinguish Decker's party from the other humanoid readings still being received. Kirk tells Xon to keep trying.

Decker grows impatient to rejoin Linda. Kirk, careful to treat his first officer as the midshipman he believes himself to be, tells Decker that he has been "reassigned" to the Enterprise and is no longer required in "class." Decker asks if his father is responsible for the reassignment. At that moment, Kirk's intercom sounds and he is hailed by Xon in the ship's lab. He tells Kirk he has something of interest that might shed light on the situation. Before Kirk leaves, he asks McCoy to show Decker to his "new" quarters.

In the Enterprise's lab, Xon reveals to Kirk that one of the pieces of ship wreckage beamed up by Rand is an irregular, charred piece of cube that Xon has removed from the molten metal that encased it. Xon's, tests show it to be from the Captain's Log and he has enhanced its remaining signal using the ship's computer to fill in gaps and holes wherever possible. Xon plays the enhanced and restored signal for Kirk. Immediately Kirk realizes that the record was made only five days earlier as he sees Captain Schwerner onscreen saying: ". . . Stardate 1011 point... my crew's in some kind of delirium, setting instruments awry, and I fear . . . " Then the picture fades and Schwerner 5 voice continues: ". . . are in danger of losing orbit. If so, the ship will heat dangerously and break up, unless first I. . ."

Xon concludes that Schwerner 5 crew most probably was affected in the same way as Decker. Their inability to function properly may have led to the loss of their ship. Kirk puzzles over the lack of a distress call or signal of any kind from Schwerner. He holds out hope that perhaps the St. Louis and its crew survived. Xon points out that his assessment is based on fact, not emotion. Kirk maintains that his job is to separate theory from fact. McCoy again raises the possibility of Kirk's judgment being influenced by his long friendship with Schwerner. Kirk assures the ship's doctor that he has his feelings under control. Kirk adds, however, that he has another concern. What if whatever struck Decker and Schwerner 5 crew is contagious? Though McCoy states that there is as yet no indication of that, nor that they are even dealing with a disease, Kirk orders Chekov to have Decker quarantined, as a precaution. Decker is not to leave his cabin without Kirk's authorization. He decides against alerting the entire crew, notifying only those who heard Decker on the bridge. McCoy is grateful, fearing that spread of the information would spread hypochondria as well among the crew.

Xon tells Kirk there appears to be one more intact section on the damaged record cube. This time when Schwerner appears, he looks excited and says: ". . . and I understand now. Never have I thought life could be like this . . . kind of excitement that . . ." A deafening explosion cuts off the transmission and the picture vanishes. Kirk only remembers hearing similar sounds in battle. Xon recalls the sound of impulse fuel explosion at a research laboratory. Kirk realizes that his friend recorded his own destruction. He doesn't understand how Schwerner could give up his ship, his life, and those of his crew without a struggle. Xon states he can see no logic in Schwerner's action. McCoy offers Kirk his condolences. Kirk's attention now turns to his missing three crew members.

In the Enterprise's transporter room, the alien female, Ronel, appears on the transporter pad. The technician working in the room looks up to see "Ensign Rand." As she approaches him, she sets off an intruder-alarm sensor and is challenged by the technician. Her eyes become luminous.

Inside the ship's turbolift, Kirk, with Xon beside him, responds on the intercom to the intruder alarm and alerts the crew to secure all areas. Kirk and Xon exit the lift and proceed to Chekov's post. Chekov reports that in forty-five seconds, all decks will be sealed. Xon checks the computer sensors and gives Kirk the point of intruder entry -- the transporter room. Kirk has Chekov send a security team to the transporter. Uhura tells Kirk that Rand had just signalled in when the intruder appeared. She concludes that the intruder entered with Rand. Xon alerts Kirk that the intruder is on the move, in one of the ship's corridors. Chekov assures Kirk that he has security crew posted in all major corridors.

In one of the ship's corridors, we see "Ensign Rand" confronted by a security guard. Her eyes begin to glow and the guard rechecks her and lets her go, with an apology.

Chekov tells Kirk that his security crew has been unable to get any useful information from the technician who was in the transporter room when the intruder tripped the alarm, that he 5 in some sort of delirium. Kirk asks Chekov about the corridor the intruder was last in. Chekov reports that his security guard says it is secure. The only one there is Rand. Kirk concludes that she must be the intruder. He goes to a wall communicator and alerts the ship: A dangerous alien posing as Rand is on board and must be arrested on sight.

Xon tells Kirk that the intruder is now approaching the officers' quarters. As McCoy leaves Decker's cabin, "Rand" conceals herself from detection by the two armed guards outside Decker's door. Then as "McCoy," she walks past the guards and into Decker's quarters. When she enters, she becomes "Linda." She tells Decker that she is about to be arrested. Decker is sure his father is behind the arrest and promises to help her. But when Decker attempts to leave his cabin, the guard tells him to remain in isolation -- Captain's orders. Decker now believes Kirk is in on his father's scheme to keep him from Linda. Seeing "Linda," the guard tells Decker he will have to take her to Chekov. Decker seems to acquiesce, but then physically disables the guard in a surprise attack. Decker and Linda run off.

Xon now reports to Kirk that the alien is heading away from the officers' area. Chekov can't understand how the alien eluded his guards. Kirk tells him to check on it, personally.

When Decker and Linda encounter additional security forces in the corridors, they are able to pass though them easily. "Linda" is now familiar with their devices and they no longer can detect her as an alien. Laughing at how easy it all is, Decker tells her that to stop the guards once and for all, he and she will have to "pluck their feathers." He leads Linda down another corridor.

In the ship's engine anteroom, Decker hesitates for a moment, as if what he is about to do bothers him. But then Linda, noticing his inner struggle, smiles at him and her eyes begin to glow luminously. Decker's doubt vanishes, and he enters the engine room.

Once in the engine room, Decker battles lightheartedly with two engineering technicians as he succeeds in smashing console valves that release a hissing gas. Before one of the technicians can summon help via the intercom, Decker turns him aside. Then Scott enters and Decker invites him to join in the fun. As the other technician rushes Decker, Decker evades him gymnastically, astounding Scott.

When Decker opens another valve to release gas, Scott gets to it and shuts it off wondering aloud: 'Are you daft, man -- without coolant the impulse engines will overheat!" But Decker opens valve after valve, and Scott knows it is much easier to open them than to shut them. Decker goes to smash open a major cooling pipe.

As Scott tries to reason with him, Decker reveals that he doesn't know who the chief engineer is. He rambles on about his father, and tells Scott to tell the "old buzzard" that he never felt better, or freer. Scott doesn't know what Decker is talking about. He waves off other engineering personnel to approach Decker more closely. He tells Decker he's taking him to see Dr. McCoy. Decker isn't in favor of another doctor visit and hits Scott with a pipe, knocking him unconscious. Then Decker grabs a hanging cable and swings over the heads of the crewmen who lunge at him, He jumps down to meet "Linda," who is just entering the engine room, and together they run into an adjoining room.

An engineering technician summons Kirk by intercom. Kirk tells Uhura to have a security team meet him at the engine room. As Kirk leaves, Sulu tells him that the impulse engines are starting to overheat and that coolant pressure is falling. The reserve pressure is also malfunctioning. Kirk tells his helmsman to reduce thrust, that if it gets too hot, they '11 warp out while making repairs.

Decker and Linda have escaped into the room housing the dilithium. Engineering crew attack the door with their phasers. When Chekov arrives, he tells them phasers won't be able to break through the energy field, and he asks after Scott. The crew tell him the chief engineer is now in sickbay, unconscious. Chekov then uses the intercom to ask Xon if he can deactivate the energy field. Xon says he will try, but he will need time to reroute circuits. Chekov tells him to hurry.

With Linda at the dilithium compartment, Decker deactivates locks, opens the door, and crawls inside. He emerges with the dilithium and shows it to Linda, calling it "the feathers of the Enterprise bird." He lightly asks if she would like him to make jewelry of it for her, but then agrees with her suggestion: He should destroy it. He blasts the dilithium into ash with his phaser, then leads Linda out of the room by a different door.

Chekov's team and Xon's efforts succeed in breaking down the door to the Dilithium Room. Chekov finds the dilithium ashes and runs out of the room by the doorway Decker and Linda used.

In the turbolift, Kirk is signaled by Xon on the intercom. Xon tells him that the alien and, presumably, Decker are now entering the forward turbolift, heading toward the upper decks. Kirk realizes that means their destination is the transporter room and orders Xon to notify Chekov. No one is to transport out without Kirk's authority. Kirk exits the turbolift and runs down the corridor.

In the transporter room, Decker orders the technician to beam him down to the planet. Without Kirk's authorization, the technician refuses. But because Decker is the first officer, the technician agrees to check with the bridge and turns on the signal switch. Just then, "Linda" enters and Decker turns the signal switch off The technician turns to see "Kirk," who gives his authorization to beam both himself and Decker to the planet surface. The technician complies just as the real Kirk enters the room. The technician is confused.

Sensing a sudden change in the ship's attitude, Kirk hails Sulu on the intercom to ask about their orbit. His helmsman tells him that the ship is rapidly losing impulse power. Scott's voice cuts to confirm the worst. It's a losing battle just to contain the damage. They'll be doing well just to stay "afloat." Kirk orders full emergency procedures. Uhura joins in to tell Kirk that without dilithium she can't hold subspace channels open. They can't even call for help. Kirk sums up their situation: "Then we're stuck here . . . like the St. Louis. Why? What do these aliens want with our ship?"

Kirk's crew makes their reports about their efforts to reduce the ship's energy consumption. Chekov states that all nonessential decks have been evacuated and all excess items have been jettisoned. McCoy has moved sickbay to a lower deck. Scott's engineers have repaired the cooling system, but the impulse engines are almost totally burned out and need replacements, which they can't get without more power

Kirk asks if they can conserve any more energy. Scott says they will, but they won't gain much time as a result. He calculates they have six hours, maybe seven. Xon states they have exactly 6.35 hours. McCoy worries that they just can't sit in a decaying orbit until they go down like a fireball -- like the St. Louis. Chekov asks Kirk to let him take a team down to the planet to force the aliens to give back what they stole. Kirk points out that the aliens took nothing, they acted to destroy, and they might not have anything to give back to the Enterprise.

Xon notes that while his sensors indicate there is considerable power on the planet, it is not compatible with their systems, and scanners show no natural deposits of dilithium ore. Ilia, however, raises a new possibility. The St. Louis previously explored for and found new sources of dilithium, which its crew would have placed in the ship's storage vaults. Kirk points out to both Xon and McCoy that the odds that resulted in their finding a partially intact Captain's Log from the St. Louis might work once more in their favor. Ilia adds that the vaults' shielding would prevent the dilithium from registering on Xon' 5 scanners. Scott warns Kirk that he wouldn't be able to use unpolished, unfaceted dilithium under their present conditions without blowing them up. Kirk reminds him that he did once before. But Scott says that was with the seasoned Spock, not the relatively untested Xon. Xon says Scott's fears are illogical. Kirk ends the discussion by deciding to search the planet for the crystals, no matter the risk.

On the planet's surface, Decker and "Linda" are vowing eternal love to one another while they are watched on a wallscreen by several other female aliens, including Lamen, who says approvingly: "He produces well. Perhaps he will live long."

Kirk, Ilia, and McCoy materialize in a flowered area on the planet. Ilia thinks it looks like paintings on Delta V Kirk focuses on the word "paintings," while McCoy says if it's a hallucination, he'd like to come back some time and really enjoy it. Continuing their search for the crystals, the three come to a sleek, synthetic-appearing monolith. Kirk wonders if it is a religious object or a work of art.

McCoy examines the artificial monolith with his tricorder and announces its contents to be organic, somewhat akin to food. Kirk asks if it is a food-storage device, but McCoy says it makes food. Like our synthesizers, adds Ilia. McCoy believes the monolith takes in ordinary soil and air and changes them directly into edible organic compounds. Kirk says that explains why Xon was unable to find tilled soil on the planet. The aliens create food rather than growing it, McCoy notes, however, that the machine appears also to be broken -- even if it is obviously designed to be self-repairing -- because its contents are decaying. Kirk says everything runs down eventually, no matter how advanced.

Suddenly Ilia doubles up as if in great physical pain. McCoy can find no physical cause, but Ilia speaks of terrible, cruel mental images. McCoy doses her with a tranquilizer and she faints. Then Kirk notices something and calls to McCoy. Nearby are a half-dozen aliens, all beautiful, exotic females doing a slow, ritualistic dance. Ilia awakens, and cries out: "No, don't . . . please . . . !" At the same time, one alien breaks from the dance, and rushes at Kirk, screaming wildly. Kirk holds his phaser defensively. The alien falls to the ground, dead. Kirk did not fire his phaser. McCoy reports she died of massive internal injuries, consistent with a beating. But no one touched her. And all the other aliens but one have disappeared. McCoy says his tricorder confirms that they are truly gone.

The scene is being witnessed by other aliens, on a viewscreen in a computer room on the planet. Lamen asks Ronel to attend to Kirk, McCoy, and Ilia.

Recovering, Ilia tells Kirk and McCoy that in her mind she saw the beating, and it was physical. Kirk has difficulty believing that pictures can kill, but Ilia tells him the pain was real for the aliens. McCoy notes that illusions that real might be able to disrupt the body and kill. As Kirk asks his two colleagues if what they have seen is group killing by illusion, some form of war, he gets no response from them. Kirk looks around to see that he is alone. And he is floating in space.

Next, Kirk finds himself in an elaborately feminine boudoir with a beautiful female whom we know to be Ronel. She asks him if she has pleased him, and, dreamily, he says yes. When she tells him she can grant any fantasy he might have, he wonders if any of what he is experiencing is real and if she herself is a illusion. Ronel asks him, in turn, if that matters. Kirk pushes her away, as he struggles to recall that there is more to life. He asks: "If I hear a song in my head, the thoughts are real . . . but is the song real?" Ronel does not answer.

Kirk remembers he was with friends and asks her where they are, what she has done with them. When she tells him they are well, he asks who she is and the alien tells him she is Ronel, a worker -- a feenor, of the planet Grokh. She tells him she only wants from him what he also wants: to save his crew. The way to do that is to beam them down to the planet or else they will die.

Kirk soon realizes that Ronel does not understand that her people's interference with the Enterprise prevents the transportation of the crew to the planet. She refuses to help him find the dilithium the ship requires, fearing that he would only use it to escape. Kirk again asks her why her people need his crew, but Ronel replies only that she must report to her council.

As Kirk continues to say, "Why?" he finds himself again with McCoy, who asks him: "Why what?" Just then Ilia "wakes" to ask: "Where is he?" And Kirk understands that Ilia has just returned from an encounter with a seductive alien, just as he has. As Kirk hails the Enterprise, Uhura tells him they have been trying to locate him. Kirk tells her he has been there all the time.

Xon now gives Kirk an update on his analysis of the data on the aliens. The planet has a small population of 2.2 million. Industry, though wearing out and in disrepair, is almost wholly automated. The society, for whatever reason, is in apparent severe cultural decay.

Scott makes a report of his own that is of more immediate concern to Kirk. He tells Kirk that their situation without dilithium is nearing the untenable. Kirk urges his chief engineer to buy him more time.

When McCoy asks Kirk what they should do now, Kirk reminds McCoy that they have been monitored by the aliens from the beginning. Then he turns to address the unseen watchers: "Council of Grokh. You need us as much as we need you. Let us meet now, before it is too late."

Ronel appears before Kirk, McCoy, and Ilia. She is in alien form. She tells them she will take them to her council.

In the Council Building, Kirk and his two colleagues meet Lamen as she directs several other aliens who work at computerlike devices that apparently control the planet's industry. When Kirk tells Lamen that he assumes the council is the body that can negotiate for the planet, and asks if she and the other council members make and administer the laws, Lamen tells him that on Grokh, there are no laws or rules. Everyone is free to do as she pleases. Ronel adds that the Grokhoor -- the inhabitants of Grokh -- haven't had to work for a thousand years. Even the feenor -- the council members -- work but a small part of each day.

McCoy suddenly understands. No one on the planet repairs its machinery because no one remembers how to do it, Kirk also understands. There is no one left who can teach them how.

When Kirk asks Ronel and Lamen how their people occupy themselves, Ronel says they "pursue the fullness of life." McCoy translates that as "fighting and killing," but Lamen dismisses what the Enterprise crewmembers saw as the actions of a few, temporarily insane inhabitants. She says that her people do not kill on purpose. She apologizes for what happened to the St. Louis and to the Enterprise, and says they intended no harm. They have only been studying how humans are affected by the Grokhoor "wister," their term for an experience that gives meaning to life, what humans call "illusion." They wanted the humans to have the pleasure of knowing how they will spend the rest of their lives on Grokh.

Kirk says it is unimportant how humans react to the Grokhoor wister, because they will not be staying, once they get the aid they need from Lamen's people. Then Kirk will call on the Federation to help the Grokhoor any way they can. Lamen tells Kirk that his people are so aggressive, the inhabitants of Grokh do not wish to have others like him here until they have thoroughly studied his crew. To this end, they have cleared the crew's minds and have confidence that Kirk will find a way to bring his people down to Grokh safely. At this point, McCoy breaks in to say that the point will be moot since soon there will be no crew and no Enterprise. Kirk tells the ship's doctor that it is useless to reason with the aliens. They truly do not understand the position they have placed Kirk in.

Kirk tries a new tack. He tells Lamen that if there really are no laws on her planet, then he and his crew should be free to go. Lamen says he is not free to go away. Many others have failed them. She says her people look upon the crew of the Enterprise as their last chance.

Suddenly, Ilia warns Kirk of images forming. Kirk calls out to McCoy and Ilia to draw their phasers. Then the three of them waken in a laboratory, still on planet Grokh. Kirk's three missing crewmembers from Decker's landing party are also in the lab. Ibsen, Kelly, and Rand lie on nearby slabs, in a near-comatose state, mumbling happily. Feeding-type tubes are attached to each of them. As Kelly shakily raises himself up, we see his tropical-lagoon illusion, in which he amuses himself with acquiescent natives. Ibsen is with him, and they call out to Kirk to join them.

Appalled, Kirk appeals to McCoy, who quickly examines Ibsen and begins to administer a hypo to him. But before McCoy's stimulant can take effect, Ibsen's heart, though young and healthy, gives out from overstimulation, and he dies. A fourth slab containing a sheet-covered body draws Ilia's attention. Kirk lifts the sheet to discover Decker, dying.

McCoy tells Kirk he cannot save Decker's life without taking him back to the ship. Ilia stares at Decker and asks Kirk if he cannot see what they -- the lovers -- are doing to Kirk's first officer. Kirk and McCoy do not understand her insight until McCoy uses a tricorder on Decker. He discovers radiation of excess psychic energy. Kirk wonders if the aliens' illusions are so exciting they exceed human capacity to tolerate them. He urges McCoy to take Decker off the feeding tubes, to perhaps disrupt the illusions. As McCoy does so, he makes another discovery: Decker's output of male hormones -- androgens -- is incredibly high. McCoy then checks Rand and finds that her estrogen count is normal. Since estrogens neutralize androgens, McCoy works quickly to improvise a syringe to inject Rand's female hormones into Decker. He hopes if he can neutralize Decker's output of male hormones, the illusions might be broken. The experiment works.

McCoy then stabilizes Kelly and Rand so they may be safely left behind, while Kirk inspects the room. It is completely sealed, but Ilia points out they still have their phasers. Kirk asks McCoy to give Ilia and him hormone injections, to defend against being taken over by the Grokhoor wister again. Then Decker uses a phaser to blast a hole in the wall and Kirk, McCoy, and Ilia exit the room.

As soon as Kirk exits, he hails the Enterprise with his communicator. Uhura tells him Xon has an urgent message for him: Cracks in the number two impulse engine have reduced the time remaining to destruction to little more than an hour. Kirk is forced to tell Scott he still doesn't even know if there is dilithium on Grokh.

Ilia alerts Kirk to the sound of computers at work down one of the corridors. Kirk uses his phaser to blast his way through the door to the computer room. Inside, Lamen and another alien have gone from working at a computer to engaging in a slow, ritualistic dance, in a trancelike state, that keeps them from reacting to Kirk and his group. Kirk wonders if they are witnessing a form of war again, but McCoy and Ilia have another explanation. Ilia sees very sensuous images and McCoy reports an unusually high androgen count. When Kirk points out the aliens are female, not male, McCoy tells him they are actually both. They are hermaphrodites, and the interesting thing is that the androgens in their bodies are human.

Kirk finally puts it all together. The aliens have killed Ibsen, caused the death of the St. Louis and its crew, and crippled the Enterprise, all to obtain a steady supply of male hormones that they use as catalysts to energize their illusions.

Decker calls Kirk over to look at a bank of viewscreens that show views of the alien population elsewhere on the planet. Kirk sees an entire planet in the grip of illusion, the alien wister. Suddenly, Kirk senses a way to locate the storage vaults of the St. Louis and, perhaps, Scott's much-needed dilithium. He turns to Ilia and asks her if she can link the viewscreens to the alien computer. When Ilia says she would need time to figure them out, Kirk asks McCoy to try his hormone treatment on some of the aliens to see if it will neutralize them, too, The aliens could then help Ilia.

McCoy injects Lamen, but sees no reaction. Before he can give her another injection, Ronel interrupts and tells him to stop. She is in the doorway to the computer room, holding a phaser-like weapon. She tells Kirk and his team that she can no longer project into wister and that he is destroying everything. Kirk retorts that he only wants to save his ship and his crew. Ronel replies that she can no longer tolerate his aggression and that if she must, she will use her weapon.

Stalling for time, Kirk engages Ronel in debate. We learn that her weapon was made long ago by the ancients who made everything on the planet, and that, once, there were nearly two billion people on Grokh. When Kirk asks what became of them, Ronel tells him they died in the One-Day War that began because of aggression. No one of Grokh will let this happen again. When McCoy protests that this tragic event has no relevance to what is happening now, Kirk provides the explanation. The Grokhoor use illusion to fill the void in their lives and to placate their aggressions to gain peace.

Kirk takes the hypo from McCoy. He says they are running out of time. Someone has to show them how to find the dilithium. Ronel fires a warning shot near Kirk. She tells Kirk that they cannot let them go. Aggression is increasing on Grokh, and their bodies are unable to make the hormones they must have. Kirk again tells her that he and his crew are not their solution. What will her people do when their prisoners grow old and die? He urges her to use her people's aggression to find another solution. Ronel fires a second warning shot.

Kirk warns her he will never give up, even if he loses his ship. He will use her computers to build another Enterprise to escape from Grokh. Then he will fly away and return with an equally aggressive Starfleet. He will do all of this because, sooner or later, he will find the dilithium.

Ronel rushes to the computer and presses buttons. Lights flash and a missile appears on a computer viewscreen. Kirk takes the phaser from her. She does not fight him. She tells him that no one can stop the missile now, and that it is set to destroy the St. Louis dilithium. Kirk is elated. There is dilithium. He hails the Enterprise.

Kirk asks Xon to calculate the course of the missile and thus, the location of the dilithium. Xon tell him he can do both, but he will not be able to beam the dilithium aboard. Using the transporter will create an energy-disruption field that will most likely set off the missile's extremely sensitive firing mechanism. Since the Enterprise's shields are deactivated, and the missile's course puts it directly across the ship's path, the Enterprise would be destroyed in the explosion.

Scott tells Kirk that, whatever move he makes, he should make it soon. There are less than twelve minutes remaining. Kirk asks his chief engineer if he can pull away from the missile, even though the remaining impulse engines are very weak. Scott says he can, but worries he will not be able to pull away a sufficient distance in the time. Xon adds that the acceleration required will reduce their time to eight minutes, fourteen seconds.

Kirk orders Sulu to set the new course, and tells Scott to go to full available impulse power. He instructs Xon to lock transporter controls for dilithium beam-up in exactly six minutes, thirty-one seconds. That will give Xon ninety seconds to install the dilithium and activate it. Xon says he has studied Spock's old formula for the use of unpolished crystals and has already set the transporter for beam-up to the engine room. Xon and Scott both say they will be waiting in the engine room.

As Kirk watches the viewscreen in the control room on Grokh, the missile unexpectedly turns, three minutes before the planned operation. Kirk asks Ronel what has happened. She says she doesn't know, that it is supposed to be automatic. Xon replies at once to Kirk's query. He tells his captain that the missile's guidance system has picked up the sympathetic resonance of the Enterprise's transporter and has locked onto it. The Enterprise is now the target, and the missile is closing fast. Kirk orders a red alert.

Kirk then hails Chekov and asks him to stand by to divert all power to the number six deflector. Scott's voice cuts in to say that such a measure will only slow down the ship. It won't stop the missile. Chekov agrees, but Kirk insists on his orders being followed. Then Kirk instructs Uhura to set manual override on the transporter lock. He tells Sulu to prepare to pull hard about and bring the number six deflector into the missile's path. Kirk gives the word, and the Enterprise turns into a new heading. Then Kirk calls for power to the number six shield and tells Uhura to energize.

In space the missile explodes, and the crew on the bridge of the Enterprise is violently thrown about. But the ship has survived, and Xon has the dilithium on board. Kirk asks if Spock's formula will work, and Xon tells him that it does not apply precisely to the shapes of the dilithium they now have. However, Xon will attempt to bypass surface planes to focus on the inner geometrics. Scott warns that there will be no controlling the energy flow if Xon is off by even a hundredth of a degree. Xon agrees. The matter-antimatter mixture will then explode. Decker gives the latest time count: thirty seconds. Kirk tells Scott to stand by to activate warp engines. There is no time for a test run. Sulu is to cut in warp drive on Kirk's command.

Sulu's voice reports complete loss of impulse power. The Enterprise is falling and its skin temperature is 912 degrees and climbing rapidly. Kirk calls out to Xon to make his final adjustments and lock it up. Sulu's voice says: "Temperature 2007 degrees and rising. I am losing control of the Enterprise."

Xon reports the crystals are in place, and Kirk orders activation of the warp engines. Scott complies, but the engines begin fluctuating. He fears they will never take the load. Sulu reports 4041 degrees and 100 kilometers to impact. He needs warp drive. Kirk isn't ready to give the order yet. He checks with Scott, who says the engines are smoother but he doubts they are ready. Kirk calls for Sulu to cut in warp drive.

Sulu's voice fills the computer room on Grokh. The Enterprise is beginning to climb. Its temperature is falling. Relief floods Kirk and his team.

Later, on board the Enterprise, the crew reunited, with the planet Grokh receding on the main viewscreen, Kirk, McCoy, and Xon discuss the remarkable people of Grokh. Xon wonders if the aliens will soon destroy themselves in war, if the Enterprise should have arranged to send them a helpful team of Vulcan scientists. Kirk reminds Xon that Grokh will have to solve their problem sooner or later on their own. He tells McCoy that he recalls the doctor teaching him how quickly some people heal once they throw away their crutches. When Xon asks him if his assessment is what humans call an "educated guess," Kirk waxes eloquent and elaborates upon his insight. He tells Xon, "It is our way of recognizing that life's complexities are not always reducible to meaningful odds, that a simple principle may contain more truth than a roomful of numbers."

Xon tells his captain his rhetoric is most persuasive, if not quite logical. Kirk replies: "Why, thank you, Mr. Xon, that's a compliment.. .I think?"