This is part 3 of the story. To see part 1 go back a couple posts.
They are back to wearing the super cool outfits on the cover and I swear if they don’t dress in these at some point I dont care how long ago these were made I am tracking someone from DC down to complain.
Okona (which my phone insists on changing to “Poona” no matter how many times I correct it) and the away team are pinned down behind a wall, an archer high on the rooftop has them pinned.
Data suggests splitting up which Okona shuts down. But then Okona suggests… splitting up. He and Worf are to try to sneak around back and get the archer from behind while the others draw their fire.
The crew of the Enterprise are trying to break through the shields on the planet in the meantime, but are so far unsuccessful. Phasers do nothing, and O’Brien can’t manage to modulate for the shield harmonics.
The shields are pretty advanced which begs the question: what happened to the race that put them there? Why were there no sentient life readings?
Worf and Okona climb up the side of the building the archer is shooting from. Okona complains that he still believes this whole trek to be a fool’s errand, and Worf gets real sick of his crap real fast. Especially since they are trying to be stealthy and Okona won’t shut his yapper.
Dr. Crusher wonders out loud why the sensors didn’t pick up any life if they’re now sitting there getting shot at by it. Perhaps an artificial being?
Deanna confirms that may be right. She hasn’t felt any emotions from the archer at all. It could be a machine. Not one as advanced as Data, but an AI of some kind nonetheless.
But then why is this being shooting at them? And why was Okona kidnapped in the first place?
As they speculate, Worf and Okona knock the archer out. Worf goes the extra step and snaps its bow in half. But as they call down to the other half of the team, the archer stands back up and raises Okona in to the air!
He and Worf are both thrown off the roof one by one. But luckily, Data is a good catch.
With everyone safely on the ground, the team runs off and the archer can only watch them go.
Riker and Picard discuss the situation in the captain’s ready room. Will brings up the possibility that this planet is something like Minos. A planet programmed to demonstrate the effectiveness of its defense systems. Maybe Okona was transported there to be sold something?
Picard agrees it’s possible but if that’s the case why would they go about it by kidnapping a person off their ship? By feeding, housing, and clothing a random stranger? Even the Minotians didn’t intentionally capture their customers.
As the away team gets a safe distance from the archer, a trunk reaches around the corner and grabs Counselor Troi! A huge clawed, four-trunk elephant appears, swinging her in its clutches.
The elephant smacks Worf out of the way with one of its spare trunks, and the rider chucks a spear straight at Data, landing in his abdomen.
Luckily, being an android, the spear is easily removed with basically no damage. Worf, on the other hand, is in rougher shape and slow to get up.
As Data and Okona plan to attack the elephant with the spear, another one angrily rides in, colliding with the first and knocking the spearman off his mount.
As the two beasts fight, the group sees their chance to leave. Okona knocks out the spearman as the others help Worf up. They then make a run for it.
On the bridge of the Enterprise, officer Allenby has managed to decipher the transmissions coming from the planet. They decipher what the planet is for. But they don’t explain how to get him back.
The away team and Okona run down the streets until they are again stopped. This time by a tall, blonde woman. She grabs Okona, pulls him in… and kisses him.
Coming up for air, Okona asks if anyone is going to do something. But they don’t see him in any danger. In fact they find this the perfect chance to tease the man.
The woman points and leads the team onward. They don’t know if they can trust her, but they don’t have many other options, either. So on they go.
Ensign Allenby explains that the planet is a giant burial monument. Similar to the pyramids, this race’s rulers were buried with their possessions.
On top of that they also were buried with the living beings of their lives. Those most important to them like their families or their enemies. Only the living beings are translated in to holograms and therefore live on forever.
The planet scans for passing ships and when one goes by, it transports a person down to the surface to see this giant tomb for themself. They are treated to a “guided tour” and then released back home to tell others of what they saw.
So once the tour is over, assuming the tourist survives it, the energy field should drop and allow the tourist to depart. All the Enterprise can do, then, is wait.
On the planet, the mysterious woman leads them to a square. But there are many enemies lurking about. Did she lure them in to a trap after all?
She points to a sewer grate. Okona protests. If the enemies topside are this bad who knows what evil lurks underneath? Counselor Troi makes the executive decision to trust the woman. She’s taken them this far after all.
The away team hails the Enterprise. Upon reaching the outskirts of the city (thanks to their “guide”) their comm badges, clothing and such were returned to them in one piece.
Captain Picard explains to the team what they discovered about the planet. From that info they are able to deduce that the woman was the monarch’s queen. And the elephant that came to their rescue was the king’s mount.
Okona thanks the “queen” for leading them to safety.
The mystery solved and everyone safe, Counselor Troi asks to energize. O’Brien is happy to oblige.
They never wore the super cool outfits on the cover art and I am legit upset. Data went from having a cool breastplate looking thing with an awesome blue cloak to… A green dress and a funny cone hat. So lame.
The story itself was fun, though. Especially Worf and Okona bickering back and forth. Plus Data got to be a hero more than once.
On a sad note, apparently this issue went to print about the same time Gene Roddenberry died. The editor and Michael Friedman both wrote obituaries of sorts for him to be placed in this issue just before production.
I hope that’s readable. I thought to just take some snippets but felt it best to leave these tributes intact.
There are also a couple of very poignant letters this issue
What an interesting take and one that does make sense. To put in to context this letter, this was in 1991. AIDS was on the rise and was in fact at its peak around this time. People didn’t care because they saw it was a “gay” disease. It took a lot of pushing to get to work on actually tackling the issue.
It’s amazing reading this stuff from ~30 years ago and yet it could just as easily have been written today.
Thank you, Gene, for giving us a show about hope. One which is still giving us these hopeful stories even today.