It's your relief, Sam.
Didn't see a thing, Chief.
Nobody ever does.
Whatever the thing is, it's already killed 50 people.
I never realized how dark it is down here.
Stay on your toes, Schmitter.
Keep your phaser in your hand at all times.
What good will that do?
You saw what happened to Ed Appel when he shot at it.
How about those other people?
I'm sorry, Schmitter, but we've got to have guards.
I'll do what I can.
If you hear anything or see anything, call in.
Somebody can arrive in three minutes.
A lot can happen in three minutes.
Chief, is it true the Enterprise is on its way?
You think it could get here in the next four hours?
You'll be all right.
Like the rest of them.
Burned to a crisp.
Space -- the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.
Its five-year mission--
to explore strange new worlds...
to seek out new life and new civilizations...
to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Captain 's Log -- stardate 3196.1.
A distress call from the pergium
production station on Janus 6
has brought the Enterprise
to that long-established colony.
Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and I have beamed down
to meet with Chief Engineer Vanderberg,
administrative head of Janus 6.
Let's assume there is a monster.
What has it done? When did it start?
About three months ago, we opened up a new level.
Sensors gave us an unusually rich pergium reading.
Not only pergium, whatever you want.
Uranium, serium, platinum.
The whole planet's like that.
It's a treasure house.
We're aware of that.
If mining conditions weren't so difficult,
Janus 6 could supply the mineral needs of a thousand planets.
But what happened?
First, the automatic machinery, piece by piece,
started to almost disintegrate.
Metal began dissolving away.
There was no reason for it,
and our chemists were unable to analyze the corrosive agent.
I'm sure there is an answer.
It simply has not yet been discovered.
Yes, it has.
I don't know what this butchering monster is,
but I know what it's doing.
Our maintenance engineer sent down to the drifts
to repair the corroded machinery.
We found him... seared to a crisp.
There is none currently on this planet, Captain.
He's right. None.
At first, the deaths were down deep,
but they've been moving up toward our levels.
The last man died two days ago
three levels below this.
Same way? Burned?
I'd like to examine the body.
We kept it for you. There isn't much left.
Roberts will show you.
It isn't pretty.
You post sentries? Guards?
Of course. Five of them have died.
Who else has seen this?
This is Ed Appel, chief processing engineer.
I can't. I only got a glimpse of it,
but it's... big and shaggy.
Ed shot it.
Oh. You mean shot at it.
No. I mean shot it. With this.
A good, clean shot.
Didn't even slow it down.
Well, I've made my report to you.
Production's stopped, nobody will go into the lower levels,
and I don't blame them.
The Federation wants pergium,
then you'll have to do something about it.
That's why we're here.
You're all pretty tough, aren't you?
Starship, phaser banks.
You can't get your starship down in the tunnels.
No need to.
Mr. Vanderberg, I'll need a complete subsurface chart
of all the drifts, galleries, tunnels.
You'll get it.
Mr. Vanderberg, what is this?
It's a silicon nodule.
Millions of them are down there.
No commercial value.
But a geological oddity, to say the least.
A few trace elements.
Look, we didn't call you here so you could collect rocks.
Thank you, Mr. Vanderberg.
We'll need your complete cooperation.
You'll have it.
Just find that creature, whatever it is.
I've got a quota to meet.
Come on, Appel.
Vast number of tunnels won't make our hunting any easier.
Schmitter didn't burn to death,
not in the usual sense, anyway.
Well, there are only fragments
of bone and teeth left,
but the plant's physician agrees with me -- a chemical corrosion...
Almost as if he'd been thrown into a vat
of extremely corrosive acid.
Strong enough to eat machinery?
Strong enough to eat anything you can think of.
show me the positions
of the deaths and acts of sabotage.
Here, here, and here.
If the times of these incidents are accurate,
the creature would have to have moved
at an incredible speed.
Mm-hmm. Mr. Vanderberg,
how recent are these charts?
They were made last year.
Before the appearance of whatever it is?
Mr. Spock... give us a report
on life beneath the surface.
Within range of our sensors, there is no life,
other than the accountable human residents
of this colony beneath the surface,
uh, at least, no life as we know it.
We can't cover all the tunnels on foot.
Production must be resumed.
We must have that pergium!
If we could force another appearance of this creature...
When that creature appears, men die.
Too many tunnels.
We couldn't possibly --
Mr. Spock, our sensors can pick up
normal life functions at a considerable distance.
But what about abnormal life functions?
Something's happening in the reactor room!
Back to your stations.
Look at that.
I wouldn't touch it, Captain.
An extremely active corrosive.
Traces may linger.
The main circulating pump for the entire reactor--
Same indication as shown at the door, Captain --
very strong corrosive.
Is there a replacement for that?
No. None. It's outdated,
but it always worked fine.
Nothing for a device this antiquated.
Without the pump mechanism,
the reactor will go supercritical.
It could poison half the planet.
We can't shut it down.
It provides heat and air and life support
for the whole colony.
Mr. Spock, we seem to have been given a choice --
death by asphyxiation...
or death by radiation poisoning.
A PXK pergium reactor?
No, sir. We don't have any spare circulating pump
for a thing like that.
I haven't seen a PXK in 20 years.
Can you rig one up? It's vital.
I can put together some odds and ends,
but it won't hold for long.
48 hours maybe, with luck.
48 hours is better than nothing.
Gather what you need and beam down here. Top priority.
I'll be right down. Scott out.
What happens when it breaks down?
Hopefully we'll find the missing part by then.
The alternative is to evacuate
all you people to the Enterprise.
A dozen planets depend on you
for pergium for their reactor.
They're already screaming. Reactors closing down,
life support systems --
I'm concerned with my people right here, Kirk.
They're being murdered.
Find that monster and kill it.
The missing pump wasn't taken by accident.
It was the one piece of equipment absolutely essential
for the operation of the reactor.
Do you think the creature
is trying to push the colonists off the planet?
It would seem so.
But why now? These production facilities
have been in operation for over 50 years.
I don't know.
But there is a possibility.
Life as we know it
is universally based on some combination of carbon compounds.
But what if life exists based on another element?
You're creating fantasies, Mr. Spock.
Not necessarily. I've heard of the theoretical possibility
of life based on silicon,
but life of an entirely different order.
It's possible that our phasers might not affect it.
Certainly not phaser I, which is far less powerful than phaser II.
How about this --
a creature that lives deep in the planet below us,
at home in solid rock.
It seems to me that in order to survive,
it would have to have some form of natural armor plating.
It could explain much,
especially since the colonists are armed only with phaser I.
But we have phaser II.
Which I could render more effective against silicon.
Silicon-based life is physiologically impossible,
especially in an oxygen atmosphere.
It may be, Doctor, that the creature can exist
for brief periods in such an atmosphere
before returning to its own environment.
I still think you're imagining things.
Maybe, but at least it's something to go on.
Mr. Spock, have Lieutenant Commander Giotto
assemble the security troops
and arm them with phaser II.
You make the proper adjustments.
You seem fascinated by this rock.
You recall that Vanderberg commented
there were thousands ofthese at a lower level--
the level which the machinery opened
Just prior to the first appearance of the creature.
Do they tie in?
I don't know.
I have already given Dr. McCoy sufficient cause for amusement.
I'd prefer to cogitate the possibilities for a time.
A short time, Mr. Spock.
We have very little.
How's it going, Scotty?
It's a plumber's nightmare,
but it'll hold for a bit.
It has to hold longer.
Sorry. That's about the best I can do.
Captain, security officers have gathered
in Chief Vanderberg's office.
I'll be right there.
Scotty, ride herd on it.
Kind words. Tender, loving care.
Kiss it. Baby it. Flatter it if you have to,
but keep it going.
I'll do what I can, sir.
You'll proceed from level to level,
checking out every foot of opening.
You are searching for some sort of creature
which is highly resistant to phaser fire.
Phasers will be set on maximum, and remember this--
50 people have died. I want no more deaths.
Except the bloody thing.
The creature may or may not attack on sight.
However, you must.
It is vitally important
we get this installation back into production.
Mr. Vanderberg, may I ask at which level
you discovered the nodules of silicon?
The 23rd. Why?
Commander Giotto, take your detail.
Go directly to the 23rd level.
Start your search there.
Aye, aye, sir. Do you have reason to suspect
this creature may be on that level?
It's a possibility we've discussed.
Keep your people on the top level together at a safe place.
I don't know any safe place, Captain,
the way that thing comes and goes.
Well, gentlemen, you have your instructions.
Let's get at it.
Adjusting my tricorder to register for silicon.
[Sensor Continues To Wail]
A life form, Captain...
bearing -- 111 degrees.
Elevation -- 4 degrees.
One of our people?
No, sir. Silicon.
He never even had a chance to fire, Captain.
It's only been seconds since we heard him scream.
The creature must still be around.
My readings indicate it was made within the hour,
moments ago, in fact.
- Are you certain? - Positive.
This tunnel goes out of sight.
Our best machinery couldn't cut a tunnel like this.
Indeed, Captain. I'm quite at a loss.
Astonishing that anything of that bulk
could move so rapidly.
These walls are hot.
This tunnel was cut
within the last two minutes.
You all right, Captain?
Did you see it?
Yes. Where does the tunnel go?
Readings indicate a maze of tunnels in that direction.
Did you shoot at it?
Yes. We took a bite out of it.
Not animal tissue.
What is it?
Closest approximation I could come to
would be fibrous asbestos,
a mineral, Captain.
Then your guess was right.
It would seem so.
We are dealing with a silicon creature
of the deep rocks,
capable of moving through solid rock
as easily as we move through the air.
That explains the tunnels.
This creature's body secretes an extremely powerful corrosive.
Powerful enough to dissolve the door of the reactor chamber.
And it explains the murdered men.
It's definitely phaser resistant.
We had our weapons set for silicon and on full power,
yet we only damaged it. It still lives.
Meaning it's impossible to kill?
No. No, it might require amassed phasers.
Or a single phaser with much longer contact.
Pass this on to your men --
We knew it was a killer.
Now it's wounded...
probably in pain
somewhere back there.
There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal.
Instruct your men to concentrate the search in this sector.
Remind them the creature is wounded.
Aye, aye, sir.
What is it, Spock?
I've run a complete check on all life forms, radius 100 miles.
I've located all our men,
and I've located one creature
moving rapidly through native rock, bearing 201.
And that is all.
One creature in 100 miles?
Captain, there are literally thousands of these tunnels
in this general area alone,
far too many to be cut by the one creature
in an ordinary lifetime.
Then we're dealing with more than one creature,
despite your tricorder readings,
or we have a creature
with an extremely long life span.
Or it's the last of a race of creatures
which made these tunnels.
If it is the only survivor of a dead race,
to kill it would be a crime against science.
our mission is to protect this colony,
to get the pergium moving again.
This is not a zoological expedition.
Maintain a constant reading on the creature.
If we have to, we'll use phasers to cut our own tunnels.
We'll try to surround it.
I'm sorry, Mr. Spock,
but I'm afraid the creature must die.
I see no alternative myself, Captain.
It merely seems a pity.
The search team is gathering in the main tunnel.
So it is wounded...
and therefore twice as dangerous.
Stay in pairs.
If you see it,
concentrate your phaser fire
at what appears to be its head.
It is definitely resistant, but it can be hurt,
and thus it can be killed.
Gentlemen, if you'll examine your charts.
I last located the creature
in the area marked Attit-26
moving in bearing 201.
This particular group will move out beyond that area
in all directions to surround it,
possibly capture it.
Your orders are shoot to kill.
Protect yourself at all times.
Commander Giotto, disperse your search parties.
Aye, aye, sir.
Louis, Vinzi, take your men out.
Capture it? I don't recall giving any such order.
You did not. I thought, if the opportunity arose--
I will lose no more men.
The creature will be killed on sight.
That's the end of it.
Very well, sir.
I want you to assist Scotty
in maintaining that make shift circulating pump.
I--I beg your pardon, sir?
You heard me. It's vital that we keep that reactor in operation.
Your scientific knowledge --
Is not needed there, sir.
Mr. Scott has far more knowledge
of nuclear reactors than I.
You're aware of that.
Mr. Spock, you are second in command.
This hunt will be dangerous.
Either one of us alone is expendable. Both are not.
Captain, there are approximately 100 of us
engaged in this search against one creature.
The odds against you and I both being killed are 2,228.7 to 1.
2,228.7 to 1?
Those are pretty good odds, Mr. Spock.
And they are of course accurate, Captain.
Well, I hate to use the word,
but logically, with those kind of odds,
you might as well stay.
But please stay out of trouble, Mr. Spock.
That is always my intention, Captain.
Scotty here, Captain.
My brilliant improvisation Just gave up the ghost.
He couldn't stand the strain.
Can you fix it again?
Negative, Captain. It's gone for good.
Start evacuation of all colonists to the Enterprise.
Not all, Captain.
I and my key personnel are staying.
We'll be down to join you.
We haven't enough phasers for you.
We'll use clubs.
We won't run away. We're staying.
Good. Get everybody else aboard the Enterprise.
The fewer people down here,
the longer we can hold out.
How much longer, Scotty?
The reactor goes critical in 10 hours
unless you find the mechanism.
We'll do our best.
Start feeding us constant status reports.
Vanderberg, you and your crew assemble
at level 23, checkpoint Tiger. Kirk out.
Team up with Enterprise personnel.
They're better armed than you.
Always keep someone in sight.
Vanderberg, take two men and enter that tunnel.
Rendezvous with Commander Giotto.
Appel and the rest, go through there.
Tie up with Lieutenant Osborne's detail.
Mr. Spock and I will control the operation from a central point.
Captain, we are being watched.
Are you sure?
We're being watched.
Fresh readings within the hour
in each of these tunnels.
Chart says both of these tunnels converge
a few thousand yards further.
You go left. I'll go right.
Should we separate?
Two tunnels, two of us.
I've found a whole layer of these silicon nodules of yours,
hundreds of them.
I find that most illuminating, Captain.
Be absolutely certain you do not damage any of them.
Only a theory I have.
[Spock] Are you all right?
Yes, Mr. Spock. All right.
We...seem to have had a cave-in.
I could phaser you out.
[Kirk] No, you better not.
Any disturbance might bring down the rest.
Besides, it isn't necessary.
The chart said the tunnels meet further on.
but I find it extremely disquieting
that your roof chose that particular moment to collapse.
Please proceed with extreme caution.
I shall quicken my pace.
Very well, Mr. Spock.
I'll meet you at the other end--
Captain, I just read some fresh signs.
The creature is in this area.
I'll take a lifeform reading.
It's not necessary, Mr. Spock.
I know exactly where the creature is.
10 feet away from me.
Kill it, Captain, quickly.
It's not making any threatening moves, Spock.
You don't dare take the chance.
I thought you wanted it kept alive,
captured if possible.
Jim, your life is in danger.
You can't take the risk.
It seems to be waiting.
I remind you it's a proven killer.
I'm on my way. Spock out.
what do we do, Just...talk it over?
Well, you can be hurt, can't you?
We just sit here?
It's your move.
No, no! Don't shoot.
Come on over, Mr. Spock.
He's made no moves against you.
No. It seems to be waiting.
I tried talking to it, but no response.
They're all through here.
All over the place.
Thousands of them.
Yes, I see.
It means something to you?
Possibly the answer, Captain,
but I'm not certain.
Captain, you are aware of the Vulcan technique
of the joining of two minds.
You think you can get through to that thing?
I know it's a...
terrible personal lowering of mental barriers...
but if there's a chance...
That's all I got, Captain...
waves and waves of searing pain.
It's in agony.
''No kill I.''
What is that, a plea for us not to kill it,
or a promise that it won't kill us?
I don't know, Captain.
Evidently, it gained an immediate knowledge of us
from its empathy with me.
In my brief contact with the creature's mind,
I discovered it is a highly intelligent,
extremely sophisticated animal...
in great pain, of course, because of its wound,
but not reacting at all like a wounded creature.
It calls itself a Horta.
Mr. Spock, we need that retardation mechanism.
You must reestablish communications with it.
Captain, it has no reason to give us the device,
and apparently every reason
for wishing us off this planet.
I'm aware of that.
If we could only win its...
Dr. McCoy, this is Captain Kirk.
[McCoy] Yes, Captain?
Grab your medical kit and come down here on the double.
Is somebody injured?
Never mind. Just come down to the 23rd level.
You'll be led to us by tricorder readings.
Jim, I remind you
that this is a silicon-based form of life.
Dr. McCoy's medical knowledge will be useless.
He's a healer, let him heal.
Mr. Spock, you must reestablish communications.
I want to know why it suddenly took to murder.
To obtain that kind of communication, Captain,
it will be necessary to touch it.
We have seen how the creature destroys.
Lieutenant Commander Giotto.
Giotto here, Captain.
Are you all right?
Perfectly all right. Where are you?
We're at the end of the tunnel.
A Mr. Vanderberg and his men are here,
and they're pretty ugly.
Shall I let them through?
Under no circumstances allow them in here yet.
The minute Doc McCoy gets there,
send him through.
Aye, aye, sir.
The chamber of the ages...
The altar of tomorrow!
What in the name of...
What is Spock doing?
It's wounded--badly. You've got to help it.
Go take a look.
[Spock] The end of life...
You can't be serious.
That thing is virtually made out of stone!
Help it. Treat it.
I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.
You're a healer. There's a patient.
That's an order.
Tell it we're trying to help.
Is the end of life...
into the tunnel.
To the chamber... of the ages.
for the children.
in the vault of tomorrow.
Sorrow...for the murdered children.
The thing you search for is there.
for the end of things.
into the tunnel.
There is a passage way.
The captain said for you to wait here,
and here is where you'll wait.
That murdering monster's in there.
We're going to kill it.
You're going to stay here.
That's right, Lieutenant.
Just beam it down to me immediately,
and never mind what I want it for.
I just want it!
It is time...
It is over.
Death is welcome.
Let it end...
Come out of it.
I found the unit in there.
It's in pretty good shape.
I also found about a million of these...
They're eggs, aren't they?
Yes, Captain, eggs...
and about to hatch.
Miners must have broken into the hatchery.
Their operations destroyed thousands.
There. They're coming.
All right! All right, let's go!
How are you doing, Doc?
I'll let you know.
All right, let's get them!
First man that fires is dead.
That thing has killed 50 of my men.
You've killed thousands of her children.
Those round silicon nodules you've been
collecting and destroying?
They're her eggs.
Tell them, Mr. Spock.
There have been many generations of Horta on this planet.
Every 50,000 years, the entire race dies,
all but one, like this one,
but the eggs live.
She cares for them...
And when they hatch,
she is the mother to them, thousands of them.
This creature here is the mother of her race.
The Horta is intelligent... peaceful...
She had no objection to sharing this planet with you,
till you broke into her nursery
and started destroying her eggs.
Then she fought back the only way she knew how,
as any mother would when her children are in danger.
We didn't know.
How could we?
You mean, if these eggs hatch,
thousands of those things
will be crawling around down here?
This is where they live.
They digest rock. They tunnel for nourishment.
And they are the most inoffensive of creatures.
They harbor no ill will.
Look, we have pergium to deliver.
Yes, I know.
Here's your circulating pump.
You've complained this planet is
a mineralogical treasure house
if you had the equipment to get at it.
The Horta moves through rock
the way we move through air, leaving tunnels.
The greatest natural miners in the universe.
It seems to me we could make an agreement,
reach a modus vivendi.
They tunnel. You collect and process,
and your process operation
would be a thousand times more profitable.
It sounds all right if it will work.
Except for one thing.
The Horta is badly wounded.
It may die.
It won't die!
I'm beginning to think I can cure a rainy day.
Can you help it?
Help it? I cured it.
I had the ship beam down
100 pounds of that thermal concrete
we use to build emergency shelters.
It's mostly silicon.
I just troweled it into the wound.
It'll act like a bandage until it heals.
Take a look.
It's as good as new.
You'll have to get in touch with the Horta again.
Tell her our proposition.
She and her children can tunnel.
Our people will remove the minerals.
Each side leaves the other alone.
Think she'll go for it?
It seems logical, Captain.
The Horta has a very logical mind.
And after close association with humans,
I find that curiously refreshing.
Ship ready to leave orbit, Captain. Course laid in.
Very good, Mr. Spock.
Chief Engineer Vanderberg standing by on channel 1.
Yes, Chief. Kirk here.
Just wanted to tell you the eggs are hatching.
First thing the little devils do is start to tunnel.
We've already hit huge new pergium deposits.
I'm afraid to tell you how much gold, platinum,
and rare ores we've uncovered.
I'm delighted to hear that, Chief.
Once Mother Horta tells her kids what to look for,
you'll all be embarrassingly rich.
The Horta aren't so bad once you're used to their appearance.
That's about it, Kirk. Thanks for everything.
Our pleasure, Chief. Kirk out.
Curious. What Chief Vanderberg said about the Horta
is exactly what the Mother Horta said to me.
She found humanoid appearance revolting,
but she thought she could get used to it.
Oh, she did, did she?
Did she happen to make any comment about those ears?
But I did get the distinct impression
she found them the most attractive human characteristic of all.
I couldn't bear to tell her that only I have--
She really liked those ears?
Captain, the Horta is a remarkably intelligent and sensitive creature
with impeccable taste.
Because she approved of you.
Really, Captain, my modesty...
Does not bear close examination, Mr. Spock.
I suspect you're becoming more and more human all the time.
Captain, I see no reason to stand here and be insulted.
Ahead, warp factor 2.