You could learn something from Mister Spock, Doctor. Stop thinking with your glands.
-Kirk

Salt-sucking shapeshifter

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

Module BI-12T(a): Shapeshifters: M-113 Creature

Numerous shapeshifters have been reported throughout the galaxy, and the harm done by the worst of them has been staggering. Because of this, upcoming modules will focus on the exploits of these largely imperceptible and unflappable impostors. Beginning with the M-113 creature’s spice-sucking spree which is actually, unbelievably, one of the mildest encounters.

Captain James Kirk and Dr. Leonard McCoy beamed to planet M-113 to check on Federation researcher, Dr. Robert Crater. However, initially, they met his wife, Nancy Crater, Bone’s yesteryear girlfriend. McCoy was shocked that she hadn’t aged a day in sixteen years. Crewman Darnell agreed. She looked just like the bimbo he left on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet. Stupidly, he shared his observations. “A little less mouth, Darnell.” McCoy, warned him. Man-speak for, “She’s mine!” But Kirk magnanimously excused Darnell to wait outside for his chance. And, unfortunately, for him, it came.

Mrs. Crater, presumably, to find her husband (definitely something wrong) excused herself. Upon encountering Darnell outside, the shapeshifter transformed into his version of lush womanhood. Actually, each of them, McCoy, Kirk and Darnell were seeing a different woman. It was an astounding and enviable talent to transform from a nearly forty-year-old woman to a pleasure planet hottie. She sashayed past Darnell, batting her eyes. And foolishly he took the bait. Obviously, being in space too long made him lascivious enough to, not only, boldly go after the ancient professor’s spouse but Dr. McCoy’s unreqited love, to boot.

Shapeshifter's comfort food.

M-113 creature comfort food.

Needless to say, Darnell paid dearly for his lust. In the midst of McCoy’s romantic haze of Nancy-reminiscing, Kirk and McRomeo heard her scream. Then they found Darnell deader than a wheat-gorged Tribble. His cosmic reward for defying the universal law of avoiding past lovers in space. Anybody’s past lovers. Kirk and McCoy were stunned. It was just a little harmless flirtation. They demanded an explanation. Why would the universe do this to him? “It was the Borgia plant!” Nancy insisted. Kirk didn’t take any chances. He told them to find that murderous universal law, but they were unsuccessful.

Later, Kirk and McCoy found no answers in Darnell’s autopsy. There wasn’t anything wrong with him. However, upon further scientific snooping, McCoy discovered the dead crewman’s malady. Salt-depletion. Not a trace of it in his body. The dots started lining up. Kirk said, “Both Nancy and Crater went out of their way to mention one item they needed.” McCoy remembered too. “Salt tablets.”

Pissed, Kirk beamed back to the wretched planet to demand an explanation. Unfortunately, he took two crewmen with him, Sturgeon and Green. Both as randy as Darnell. And, yes, the universe punished them too. They found crewman Sturgeon with the exact same “strange mottling” on his face. And with the tight-lipped and stubborn Dr. Crater running off searching for Nancy, Kirk and McCoy beamed back to the ship. Neither knowing that a M-113 creature had stuffed itself with crewman Green’s macromineral and, masquerading as him, also beamed up with them.

Nancy shapeshifter.

Plum! Creatures don’t age.

Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock yo-yoed back to the planet. Still, combatant, Dr. Crater forced them to shoot him to get any answers out of him. “She was the last of her kind,” he finally informed them. “Once there were millions of them. Now there’s one left. Nancy understood.” Kirk’s Spidey senses started tingling. “Where’s your wife?” he demanded. “Dead. Buried up on the hill. It killed her. Oh, a year, or was it two?” (What-the-heck?) “Kirk to Enterprise!” Even back aboard the Enterprise, Crater remained obstinate right up to the moment “his Nancy” finally slurped him sodium chloride dry.

After feasting on Crater, Nancy went straight to McCoy’s quarters, presumably to have dinner with her last juicy lover. But before she swallowed a drop, Kirk crashed the place. And Bones woke up in time to see Kirk and Nancy doing the two-step with salt tablets. Simultaneously, Kirk tried to convince McCoy that Nancy wasn’t his dance partner, but the M-113 creature. But he couldn’t see through his Nancy-tinted glasses. Kirk started tempting her, “Come on! You want this, Nancy? Come on Nancy. Come and get it!” McCoy inexplicably said, “Stop it, Jim. You’re frightening her.” Lust is a powerful thing. Finally, she grabbed the salt tablets from Kirk’s hand and gobbled them. Still not enough. Time for a Kirk Slurpee. She placed her suckers on his face and he screamed.

Spock arrived and tried to stop her feeding frenzy by repeatedly punching her with both fists. “It’s killing the captain! Shoot!” He implored the love-sick puppy. Still, even with phaser in hand McCoy sided with his creature-beloved. “I won’t shoot Nancy!” Spock continued to try to get through to him with a left jab. “This is not Nancy.” Then a right cross. “If she were Nancy, could she take this? And this?” And definitely this? He smote her again and again until she smacked him out of her sight.

Screaming for Shapeshifters.

Ahhhhhhhh!

Seeing a Vulcan with three times his strength down for the count, McCoy at long last saw the light of reality’s day. The shapeshifter changed back to its naturally alluring hairy state and went for that Kirk snack again. Thunderstruck that he’d almost slept with the thing, McCoy finally pulled the trigger. Dazed by McCoy’s sudden lucidness, Shaggy changed back to its Nancy form. “Leonard. Leonard, no!” How could her dinner rebel like this? “Lord, forgive me,” McCoy said, regretting that he’d never sleep with the real Nancy again. Phaser set and …the salt suckerer was dead, dead, dead. “Sorry, Bones.” Were Kirk’s last words of relief.

Repentance plays no part in the next module. Another changeable creature, Sylvia, in her various forms, will prove to be almost as deadly as the M-113 creature. Remember, shapeshifters can assume the form of anyone and, as you will see in the next installment, of even non-sentient lifeforms. This is the primary reason why the threat of shapeshifters can never be taken lightly, requiring a hypervigilance that only well-informed spacefarers like you can achieve. Stay on guard and ever alert.

References:

Johnson, George Clayton. “The Man Trap.” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Company. 6 September 1966. Television. Retrieved: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Trap ,  http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/M-113_creature