My love has wings. Slender, feathered things …
-Mitchell, reciting “The Nightingale Woman” by Phineas Tarbolde
Module BI-47T: Those Darn Transformations
If it weren’t for those eyes it may have only been half bad. What am I talking about? Well, those darn transformations, of course. Eyes, notwithstanding, metamorphosis wasn’t the only immoral thing about turning comely humanoids into less attractive ones. It was also the cringe-worthy effect it had on others exposed to such disfigurements. Sure, authorities provided counseling for these unfortunate spectators but here are a few occurrences that had lasting and dire effects upon the ocular nerves of many, nevertheless.
One of these incidents began when Captain Johnathan Archer and friends beamed down to a wretch of a planet in search of more Xindi trash. What they found instead was something that mutated their DNA faster than a human mating ritual. Why did this horrid infection pick on them? Because …
The long-extinct inhabitants of this doomed planet, the Loque’eque, decades past, lost the ability to reproduce (well, that’s doomed). In order to prevent their impending demise, they thought it’d be a good idea to overwrite the DNA of visiting aliens with a mutagenic virus as a way of forced reproduction. It worked pretty well, too. Most species visiting the planet transformed almost instantaneously. But some, like the Vulcan, T’Pol, were resistant to the shameless bug, yet acted as carriers of the “disease” nevertheless.
In this way (it’s surmised) the virus infected the populations of a nearby planet sixty years before. And because the species of this world didn’t relish becoming something so hideous it became extinct, they took to torching any of their kind unfortunate enough to turn that ugly.
And to keep the infection from spreading after “killing” millions of their people, they were hot to torch Archer and friends, too. Commander Charles Tucker, however, thwarted their extermination efforts when he gratuitously rescued Archer and Hoshi Sato from the happy hooker planet. But no worries, the alien commander, Tret, pursued the Enterprise anyway, torpedoes-ready.
Luckily for the humans, Dr. Phlox, a Denobulan doctor was part of their crew. And as smart as a Vulcan with just a smidgen of the snooty attitude. He came up with a nifty cure for that aggressively disfiguring virus and had them back to their human so-so-iness in no time. Even gave the homicidal aliens the cure so they would stop their fiery pursuit. Everything ended relatively well for all concerned, except for the fortunately-extinct Loque’eque.
But, at least, the peril came from a bipedal alien foe. This threat from within was the result of a procreative energy field. And, yes, it involved the perennially-imperiled crew of Captain James T. Kirk. This time Kirksville wanted to go where no one had gone before beyond the galactic barrier. Even blatantly ignoring warnings left behind by the SS Valiant, which had been mysteriously destroyed 200 years ago doing exactly the same thing.
The galactic barrier’s strange energy field violently shook the Enterprise with cyclonic force, then invasively sent an electric shock through select crewmembers. This was, of course, the ominous consequence of letting the ship slip through. Heck, the Loque’eque virus was almost nothing in comparison to the barrier’s effect. Offspring of its regenerative efforts would threaten not just a few individuals but all of humanity if not stopped.
When everyone (who didn’t die) achieved consciousness after being pummeled, one of them, Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell, acquired glowing reflective eyes. Silvery, freaky-looking, disturbing eyes, in some kind of super subconscious this-is-going-to-be-trouble way.
The recognition of a devastating threat by a nuance of human instinct was unerring in its validity. Gary Mitchell’s extra sensory powers went off the charts. He not only acquired the ability to move things with his mind and read faster than any synthetic of his time, he could actually see what a person was doing just by thinking about them. That’s something few immortals have even demonstrated. At that point, Spock readily deduced, Mitchell had “as much in common with us as we’d have with a ship full of white mice.” Gods, he was scary.
And speaking of gods, that’s what Mitchell thought he’d become. “I’m not sure yet just what kind of world I can use.” After hearing this line, Kirk wasted no time in planning to maroon his assessment on the nearest uninhabited planet. But not in time. After strangling an engineer, and with a ginormous god-complex, Mitchell later made this profound pronouncement. “Time to pray, captain. Pray to me. Pray that you die easily.” I’m sure chills went up and down Kirk’s spine at the prospect of genuflecting to an ego larger than his own.
By this time the sparkly-eyed bride of Frankenstein, Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, made her appearance. It seems the barrier’s hideous effects were just delayed. Together they went around creating vegetation on the planet at will. Then annoyed by Kirk’s pursuit, Mitchell dug a grave for him with the wave of a hand.
But Kirk’s persistence would pay off. He convinced the recently acquired god-complex girlfriend that Mitchell would soon grow restless and turn into a god so jealous that even the competition from her puny existence would become intolerable. It worked. She believed Kirk and launched a preemptive strike on Mitchell, draining his energy with every zap. Giving Kirk time to punch the creepy omnipotent a few times.
Yet Mitchell recovered too quickly, leaving Kirk no choice but to drop a huge boulder on him. And in a surprising twist of fate, Kirk didn’t even have to dig a grave since Mitchell conveniently was crushed in the burial plot he had prepared with his own hand.
Even Khan didn’t present as formidable a threat for a self-centered theocracy. Soon after the epic ego battle between Kirk and Mitchell ceased, Dehner passed away negating Kirk’s need to acquire a second boulder.
In this last example, the Enterprise-D’s encounter with replicative morphing agents also paled in comparison. It took five years for the alien DNA strand in Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge to mature and transform him. But this time he had the unsettling properties of both previous incidents. Hideousness coupled with creepy, glowing eyes. Truly screwed. But, at least, his new found format made him virtually invisible and he could only be seen in an ultraviolet stream. So he couldn’t go around scaring people. When they finally figured everything out he was on the planet surface doing his newborn alien thing. But they were able to bring him back, and without the help of a Denobulan boulder.
Though transformations are relatively infrequent, they are probably the single most noted reason to leave Starfleet and other official entities. These alien mutations have a ripple effect on the crew that harms beyond the initial occurrence, affecting the deepest levels of the human psyche. Many can stand the prospect of losing their lives, but an identity crisis of this kind is beyond what they believe is reasonable service. What it boils down to is the eyes. Freaky-looking, disturbing eyes. Many just can’t stand the possibility. But don’t you worry, transmutations are rare. Very rare. Just, perhaps, not rare enough.
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Peeples, Samuel A. “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Station. 22 September 1966. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Where_No_Man_Has_Gone_Before_(episode)
Braga, Brannon. DeHaas, Timothy. “Identity Crisis.” Star Trek: The Next Generation. Paramount Television. 25 March 1991. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Identity_Crisis_(episode)