An outline for a Star Trek plot
reprinted from Apa-L
by Larry Niven
"The Pastel Terror" is also available as scans from T-Negative.
Voice of Kirk in the background, recording for the log:
"A mission such as this one should have been undertaken long ago. Cepheids were probably ignored because of their obvious uselessness for human colonization... Instruments seem to show a form of life within the photosphere. Our best guess is that it thrives on neutrino emissions, that its activity interferes with normal stellar activity, that the star therefore suffers periods of quiet. The -- beast -- goes through a period analogous to sleep or hibernation until the star can build up again.
"The star is passing through its peak activity now. In a few minutes we should see some response on the part of the beast. The beast is a plasmoid life form, by the way, formed of highly ionized gas, easily visible to a magnascreen.
On the screen, something is flowing out from the star in pastel colors. Kirk says, "It didn't do that on the last cycle. The star may have a double period, not obvious except from this close...no, I'm wrong. It's coming for us, coming for the drive. Kirk signing off." Kirk calls, "Bridge! Bridge! Get us out of here fast!" On the screen, the pastel terror is getting bigger and bigger. It envelops the screen entirely as we break to COMMERCIAL So far, so good. From here on the plot runs as follows:
The drive slows 'way down. Matter-antimatter fuel is being consumed, but the energy isn't getting to the motors. Kirk was wrong about the Beast. It eats neutrinos and every other form of electromagnetic force.
Aboard the Enterprise, everything is in twilight.
Detectors are working fine, except that everything is dark. The Beast is invisible except to the right detectors. The sky is clear, but the stars are dim. Light has to get through the Beast.
The Enterprise cannot get up to Warp 1. At top acceleration, the Beast still surrounds the Enterprise like a halo.
They can't go home. And wouldn't if they could! The Beast might take over a star belonging to some populated world!
Kirk refuses. "You won't destroy my ship!"
Duty above all else. Spock uses the nerve pinch, puts Kirk under the care of Bones, and takes over the ship according to the articles on incompetency of the captain.
Spock's own screen shows the pastel colors of the Beast, spreading and disintegrating and finally vanishing.
Kirk tries to beat him up. Spock takes it with patience, until the doctor can put Kirk out again.
So the captain is in command as they approach Cepheii One. But he and Spock aren't speaking unless necessary. And Kirk isn't too happy with Bones either.
Cepheii One is a moonless world, Earth size, with an atmosphere. That atmosphere is poisonous, but it is enough to shield an explorer from the variable sunlight and radiation.
The Enterprise is likely to be there for some time. A planet is a big place. But the primary hull alone could not sustain life forever. There is force dome equipment, etc.
The main reason for going down is that the Beast took too much energy from the batteries. They need a power source. They may have to go so far as to build a dam.
Meaning the teleport system.
But they get everyone down and a force dome set up. In a colony near a fork of a river. The most immediately valuable material is rock, which can be chemically disassembled into air and water.
Scenes of the personnel appreciating the increase in room, after too long aboard the cramped primary hull.
"Fine," says Spock. "Now, there's equipment here that can't be teleported down. You teleport down, I'll stay here and try to affect a re-entry."
Kirk: "But no one has tried a re-entry in a detached primary hull. The gyros may not be able to maintain the correct attitude. The hull could melt through. There's a couple of holes that were never fully repaired after the battle with -- "
"Yes, Captain, but we need certain equipment aboard. You teleport down, I'll stay here and probably get killed."
Kirk: "Just a minute. Have you ever wondered why your father married your human mother?"
Spock: "He said it seemed logical at the time."
Kirk: "I worked it out long ago. It couldn't have been sex. Aside from the fact that Vulcans don't think that way, your mother couldn't have been very sexy to a Vulcan."
Spock: "I suppose not."
Kirk: "It must have been an experiment in genetics."
Spock: "Of course, I should have thought of that myself. It's entirely logical."
Kirk: "But why? Your father couldn't have been trying to improve the Vulcanian species. The Vulcanians are perfect already, at least in their own view."
Kirk: "Your father must have been trying to improve my race, the human race."
Spock: "Now that you mention it, that makes sense. The human race is powerful, and is gaining power. You may well end by controlling the galaxy from edge to edge. My father is doing a sensible thing in trying to improve your intelligence."
Kirk: "But don't you see the point? He produced you. Your job is to seduce as many human women as possible. And you've barely started!"
Spock: "You're right. I'll have to go down."
Kirk: "Right! Let's go! The hull is already in a re-entry orbit, and it's been heating up while we've been talking. Let's get out of here! We'll have to hope it comes down safely without guidance."
Spock: "No, no, Captain. There is too much needed equipment aboard. I will teleport down. You stay here and guide it down and probably get killed."
The remains of the Enterprise come over the horizon like an orange-hot flying saucer, low and huge.
"He's not decelerating," says Spock. "He should be using the impulse drive."
"It must be burned out," says -- whoever you please.
The hull lands/crashes like a flat stone skipping across water. It comes to a stop far beyond the force dome. Spock runs the distance carrying two pressure suits. He tears his way into the badly bent hulk. Can't find Kirk anywhere. Goes back to the force dome, finds that Kirk is already there, having used the teleport system to get there about three seconds after Spock started his dramatic run.
The final ten minutes is something Star Trek never did, and should have. It was an obvious enough gag:
Chekov uses his communicator. "I think I've found some lead ore. Let's see if there's more." He's going over a peak of rock.
He tops the rise -- and finds himself facing something in a transparent pressure suit. It's humanoid to the point of having two arms, legs, eyes, nostrils. Other than that it looks like a dragon. It's twenty feet tall, with teeth the size of so many switchblade knives. Chekov stares, frozen --
Kirk: "How the hell did you get here?"
Sirian: "We own the planet. We've been mining it for radioactives for a century or so. You're lucky I ran across you, it's a big planet."
All the humans are on very tall chairs so that their eyes will be level with the cross-legged Sirian's. It becomes clear in conversation that humans and Sirians have had friendly relations for about a hundred years.
"The Pastel Terror" copyright © 1971 by Larry Niven. All rights reserved.