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- Captain's log – stardate 8431.5: The Enterprise has achieved standard orbit around the planet Valerian in the Gamma Arietis system for the annual supply renewal and medical checkup of the Federation colonists there... However, our attempts to establish communications with the colonists have been met with silence...
As the Enterprise landing party beams down, it is watched from the shadows of the forest by strange bipedal creatures. Spock detects no normal humanoids, but his tricorder picks up 12 bipeds, each about a meter tall. Scotty reports that the ship's sensors are finding no sign of the mostly Andorian colonists and no humanoids at all on the surface. However, Lieutenant Fletcher detects 15-centimeter-tall humanoids 10 kilometers below the surface. The landing party finds the colonists' deserted encampment.
- Captain's log – supplemental: We have left Security Officer Sternbach at the beam-down point to guard the supply-shipment. I am accompanying Dr. McCoy, Mr. Spock, and Lt. Chekov to the colony. Joining us is the Andorian sociologist Themon who must prepare a social-interaction profile on the colonists...
Spock picks up a new reading, similar to yet different from the bipeds. Themon is frightened by the deserted base, but is comforted by Chekov, who is romantically involved with her. A tall, hairy biped lurches into the room, crying out in a primitive semblance of language. An unknown energy beam from underground strikes the creature in the back and knocks him unconscious. McCoy discovers that he has been wounded and is suffering from a disease. As McCoy and the creature are beamed up to the Enterprise, hairy arms cover Themon's mouth and pull her into a doorway. Against Kirk's orders, Chekov fires on the creatures taking Themon. More of the mammalian bipeds attack the rest of the landing party, disarming Kirk and Spock. At the beam-down point, Sternbach is knocked unconscious by two small creatures wearing pointed red caps, who begin to examine the supply crates. While Chekov fights one biped, another drags Themon away. More red-capped creatures burrow out of the ground and fight off the hairy bipeds with crossbows and mallets. Spock recognizes the creatures as gnomes, and identifies the hairy bipeds as trolls.
- Medical log – stardate 8431.6. Upon thorough examination of our Valerianite patient I am forced to conclude that the creature was once a human male!
Since arriving on the Enterprise the patient has shrunk three inches. Torval, the leader of the gnomes, identifies his people as the Kuwalden and the trolls as the Maalingen. He claims that the colonists have left. Chekov reports that Themon is gone, but Kirk thinks she may simply be exploring. Kirk is unable to raise Sternbach on his communicator. Kirk, Spock, Chekov and some of the gnomes go to the beam-down site, where Sternbach has regained consciousness. Sternbach beams up with the supply crates to the transporter room, where the red-capped creatures who attacked him, who appear more malevolent than the gnomes, burst out of the crates. Armed with bolas and riding on bats, they escape into the ship's corridors.
Torval brings Kirk and Spock to meet his people, who sing a song implying they are descendants of an alien race. Spock suggests that Earth's gnomes may have been descendants of the same race. Torval suggests that the trolls took the colonists and Themon as food. Kirk contacts Scotty to ask if the ship's sensors have detected Themon, but Scotty reports that one of the creatures on bats has invaded the bridge. The creature uses its bola to destroy Uhura's communications board, cutting Kirk off. Kirk accepts Torval's offer to help find Themon. A security team reaches the bridge, and one man uses his phaser to destroy the creature's bola. The shift of balance makes the creature fall off the bat, and when its cap falls off the bat vanishes. The creature, which can talk, surrenders. Scotty thinks Kirk should know about the cap, but Uhura will be unable to restore communications for an hour. Kirk, Spock, Chekov and Torval find a cave inside which Kirk's tricorder detects an Andorian female, but Torval will not enter the trolls' lair. Kirk, Spock and Chekov enter the cave, which collapses behind them, and are confronted by trolls.
- Ship's log – Commander Mon'gomery Scott recordin'. It has been 55 minutes since interruption o' contact with landin'-party...
The other creature on the ship was also captured when its cap came off. Chapel and McCoy discover that their patient has turned into a troll. In the brig, one of the imprisoned creatures, which Sternbach has learned from the library computer are called "goblins", tries to escape when the guards lower the force field to feed it. When they reactivate the force field, the goblin loses its cap again and is knocked unconscious; it transforms into a gnome.
- Ship's log – supplemen'al: Full communications now restored.
Scotty reports to Kirk that the creatures in the brig now match the description of the Valerianites. Kirk, Spock and Chekov are being held by the trolls with Themon, who tells them that the trolls seem to understand her but do not answer. Kirk and Spock wonder what caused the cave-in; Spock reminds Kirk that gnomes were believed to be "elementals" who could move through the ground and control it. McCoy reports to Kirk that an alien virus has transformed the patient into a hairy biped, but that he has a cure for the virus. One of the trolls gives Themon a necklace made of gemstones from Andor. Kirk orders McCoy to test the antitoxin on the patient and beam down with twelve hyposprays of it if it works. Kirk confirms with Spock that there were thirteen colonists, twelve Andorian and one human. The cure having restored the patient to human, McCoy beams down into the cavern with the twelve hypos; when he administers one to a troll, it turns back into one of the missing Andorian colonists. Now knowing the Kuwalden caused the cave-in, Kirk blasts his way through it with his phaser.
In the forest, Torval tells the female gnome Hedvig that they must collapse the entire cave. Hedvig is reluctant to kill, but Torval asks her how long Osvald and Ekdahl will be allowed to live aboard the Enterprise if they shed their goblin forms. The four Enterprise crewmembers emerge from the cave and confront Torval, who snaps his fingers. The forest transforms into a surreal landscape where skeletal trees wrap their limbs around the landing party. Kirk has realized that the Kuwalden turned the colonists into the trolls, and fired the energy weapon at the human colonist to prevent his telling them what the gnomes had done. Torval dematerializes the landing party's communicators and Kirk's phaser, but Kirk has had one of the matter-transmuting caps beamed down from the ship. He uses it to make the ground rise around Torval and Hedvig, trapping them. Spock and Chekov use their phasers to destroy the two gnomes' caps. The landscape becomes a barren plain and the communicators and phaser reappear. Torval and Hedvig now appear in their true forms, extremely small creatures with glowing heads. Torval admits that they and the two aboard the ship are the last of their race; the others were illusions. When their homeworld was destroyed millennia earlier, it took them centuries to find Valerian. They acted as they did in order to be left alone.
- Captain's log – stardate 8432:7: Our next assignment – the relocation of the Valerian colonists. We expect Valerian itself to be declared off-limits to Starfleet vessels henceforth.
The "goblins" were sent to the ship to destroy it so Starfleet would not learn the colonists' fate. The Kuwalden used a parasitic organism to transform the colonists because their caps only worked on inorganic matter and lower lifeforms. Scotty wonders why the Kuwalden did not realize that contact with the Federation was inevitable, since their mission is "to go where gnome men – have gone before!"
- Christine Chapel
- Marcella DiFalco
- Janice Rand
- unnamed Enterprise security guards
Starships and vehiclesEdit
States and organizationsEdit
Ranks and titlesEdit
- assistant security chief • captain • chief • commander • doctor • first officer • lieutenant • security officer • transporter chief
Technology and weaponsEdit
- bio-comp • bola • communicator • crossbow • force field • hypospray • library computer • mallet • matter-transmuting cap • phaser • scanning-table • sensor • starship • transporter • transporter room • tricorder • weapon
- alien • brig • captain's log • cargo bay • cat • colony • communications • domovoi djedoesjka • Easter Bunny • food • goblin • gravity • history • humanoid • landing party • language • lifeform • mammal • matter • medical log • Munchkin • neutronium • orbit • planet • rock • Russian language • security • shore leave • sickbay • sociology • song • space • species • stardate • Starfleet uniform • Starfleet uniform (early 2270s) • Terran • tree • troll • virus • Vulcan nerve pinch
- Pavel Chekov is currently romantically involved with an Andorian called Themon.
- This story gives us a rare glimpse of a naked Andorian "male". Apart from his blue skin, his body appears identical to that of a human.
#15: The Quality of Mercy
| Star Trek: The Original Series|
#17: The Long Night's Dawn!