(written from a Production point of view)
This summary is of a story arc from the newspaper comic strip Star Trek.
The USS Enterprise follows the Klingons from Sarsinthia to the Vulpecula 12 system. The Klingons hide among the debris field from the fourth planet, which was an Earth-like world with a civilization until it was hit and shattered by a meteor thousands of years before. The Klingon ship fires and severely disables the Enterprise, so much so that the Klingon Captain Kolak believes them to be finished and leaves the area, as his ship is still damaged. But in about an hour, after the Enterprise is battle-ready and starting to search for the Klingons again, a sublight probe broadcasting a distress call is picked up. The call is to any biological organism to help combat genocide, and to "beware the Omnimind". Shortly thereafter they find the Klingon ship adrift in an asteroid field the probe passed through; the vessel is blown apart and devoid of all life. Spock notes that the field is very odd in that it appears to have been arranged intentionally to encircle a planet. Moreover, if the probe was from that planet it would have been launched about a century before. At that moment, a planetary defense system in the asteroids opens fire on the ship. The weapons have no effect against the shields, and only destroyed the Klingon vessel because they had lost their main shields in the battle with the Sarsith. Kirk decides to demonstrate the ship's firepower and destroys a few asteroids. After that, Kolak calls Kirk from the planet's surface and invites him down to discuss the Sarsithian incident. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and two security guards (one of whom is Umeki) beam down to the planet Iskonia.
They do not find a conference ready to begin; instead they find Klingons floating in individual egg-like chambers with tubes leading to them, and a wheeled, non-humanoid robot. Spock theorizes that in the war the probe spoke of it was man versus machines, and the machines won. The robot speaks to Kirk and tells him the Klingons will soon join the Omnimind, and that the robot is but "a servant; one part of the whole". The robot refuses to take Kirk to the Omnimind and instead gasses the landing party, saying that "even vermin can serve." But perhaps more importantly, the robots want the secret of why their weapons did not harm the Enterprise. The sleeping gas wears off quickly, except for the one alien security guard for whom the gas was fatal. The robots sense the crew is awake and enter to subdue them again, but the officers fight back and destroy the first robot to come in. And they succeed at disabling various other robots that attack them. In looking for an exit, the crew stumbles across a lab where robots are experimenting on a humanoid, who is able to escape.
At that point Captain Kolak and another Klingon enter. But they have been changed into cyborgs, with an enhanced metal arm and an implant over the Captain's eye. They are taking orders from the Omnimind, which wants the crew dead. Kirk tries to remind his fellow captain that he is a Klingon, not a machine, and Kolak begins to respond. He tells Kirk haltingly of how his crew was betrayed by the robots and his ship destroyed, after which the Omnimind increases its control power to him, causing him great pain. Kolak finally kills as requested, but rather than the Starfleet officers he begins to kill the robots. Fires erupt and Spock retrieves some robotic parts. The Klingon captain, with one last desperate cry of "I . . . Klingon!", destroys a robot, but dies in the resultant explosion.
The humanoid they helped to escape the lab, Harré, leads them into the city's sewer system, where he claims there is safety. Spock's scavenging has provided components from which they hope to build a transmitter. They are then joined by the rest of Harré's strike force, which consist of humanoid/cyborg fusions of various designs. They explain that they are not native to the planet, and that the Omnimind was originally their ship's computer. First it wanted to protect, then perfect biological organisms. A lead cyborg, Lyra, confesses to Kirk that she is the result of failed experimentations and considers herself a "freak". Kirk begins to become attracted to her, though. The transmitter works and Kirk finds out a security team with infrared targeting helmets has beamed down to look for them. Lyra decides to go with Kirk and crew to confront the Omnimind. Along the way they find out the Omnimind has captured the security detail, including Marsha Latham, who is romantically involved with Umeki. Using photon grenades the crew makes it past the Omnimind's guards and gets inside the main dome.
Once inside they find rotting, skeleton-like cyborgs, long ago left for dead by the Omnimind. Lyra claims they are acting on instinct, vaguely recalling when they once lived. Spock then concludes that the Omnimind is not a pure machine intelligence, that it is "obsessed with altering and redesigning the humanoid life form... instead of working from a new and more logical pattern!" The Omnimind itself begins its "metamorphosis", using the body of Latham, and a powerful field attracts and kills the half-dead cyborgs. Lyra is also attracted to the deadly emanations, but Kirk prevents her from getting too close. The crew breaks into a computer core area, and Lieutenant Latham emerges – except that it isn't Latham, but a robotic copy. Kirk taunts the robot copy, and because it cannot control the unexpected emotions of the copy the Omnimind drops its guard. The crew then concentrates phaser fire and destroys it.
However, once gone the Omnimind speaks to Kirk, telling him what was destroyed was not the Omnimind but a mere watchdog program created to handle mundane tasks while the actual Omnimind – the computer analog of the first colony leader – thought about the meaning of life. Fearing death and not wanting to leave the colony without a leader, he programmed a computer with his memories and personality. He has allowed the watchdog to handle everything until now, but given awareness of what has been going on he decides to shut himself off. Umeki finds the real Latham alive and well, and before the Omnimind shuts down completely Kirk asks it what it discovered about the secret of life. The Omnimind fades out saying: "I found only that the secret of life is death, for without it, there is no continuity." Kirk and Spock look at each other. Kirk says "That wasn't very helpful", and Spock replies "I found it somewhat disappointing myself, Captain." The story ends with the implication that Kirk will help the cyborgs deal with their sudden loss of the Omnimind's control over their lives.
"He's the Captain of a starship, Umeki! He deserves better than to die as a slave of the robots!"
- - Kirk, explaining why he is trying to save Kolak
This story arc is a continuation of the prior one, starting up right where the story of the Sarsith leaves off. It introduces Kirk to creatures quite like the Borg about eight years before The Next Generation encountered them on TV. The Omnimind shares a lot with the Borg, actually: both are seeking perfection, both consider biological lifeforms to be expendable tools, both meld humanoids and machines together to accomplish their goals, and both attempt to assimilate rather than destroy if possible. (Of course, that is V'Ger in some ways as well.) The primary difference is the Omnimind waits for people to come to it, rather than seeking them out. The end of the story shares some themes with Star Trek: The Motion Picture and TOS: "That Which Survives" in that the machine lifeform creates a robotic form based on a woman, and by making too close a copy introduces emotion into the mix. It also includes some elements of TOS: "The Return of the Archons" as well, with a leader who programs himself into a computer to continue caring for his people beyond death. Despite such similarities, the story is unique in many ways and one of the better comic strip ones. Harris continued to draw characters with tight clothing where possible, and Kirk's casual uniform shirt and pants in the opening sequence resemble nothing less than a leotard in terms of fit.
This story was given the title "Restructuring is Futile" in Star Trek: The Newspaper Comics, Volume 2.
- Capt. Kolak
- Lt. Marsha Latham
- The Omnimind
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