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A threat to an idyllic planet reunites Captain Pike with the lost love of his life. To protect her and a scientific holy child from a conspiracy, Pike offers his help and is forced to face unresolved feelings of his past.

Summary

Teaser

"Captain's log, stardate 1943.7. We have arrived at the Majalan system, a minor star cluster at the edge of Federation space. I was last here ten years ago, on a rescue mission. When a pulsar nearly kills you, you tend not to forget. Our mission today is a routine cartographic survey. I expect it will be a lot quieter."

As the USS Enterprise arrives in the Majalan system, Captain Pike is joined in the turbolift by Cadet Uhura, who appears to have trouble with her shoulder. She explains that she tended to get a little sore after combat training, and Pike remembers she has been on rotation with La'an that week. He mentions "lesson one" of security, that "a Rigelian tiger pounces without warning", something Uhura ruefully admits she learned that week. Pike knows La'an has a great deal to teach, but warns her to watch out for "lesson seven". Uhura worriedly asks about "lesson seven", and he makes a "lips are sealed" gesture as the turbolift arrives at the bridge. Uhura is immediately confronted by La'an, who curtly asks if she found her break "restful", before revealing "lesson two" of security, with help from Lieutenant Ortegas at the helm: "There are no breaks in security because threats never take breaks." Pike looks amused, knowing Uhura is in for it now, just as Una reports a distress call from a non-Federation shuttle, saying they were under attack. Spock's scans show the attacking vessel to be a small combat cruiser with light armaments, also with a non-Federation identification. Pike orders Ortegas to raise shields and bring them in closer.

In orbit of a nearby moon, the attacker disables the shuttle's engines and engages grapplers to reel the shuttle in, just as the Enterprise arrives on the scene. Pike orders Ensign Shankar at communications to hail the cruiser; when they do not reply, he orders an open channel. He identifies himself and his ship, and warns that he is obliged by Federation law and his own conscience to intervene on behalf of a ship in distress, ordering the cruiser to stand down. The cruiser's response is to fire on the Enterprise, but with minimal damage, Lieutenant Mitchell reporting that shields were only down .02%. Pike orders red alert and evasive maneuvers. Uhura is at the tactical station under La'an's supervision, as Pike asks if they could disable the ship's weapons without "blowing her to smithereens". La'an instructs Uhura to charge the phasers at their lowest capacity. But the attacker changes course and fires again just as Uhura fires the phasers, reuslting in severe damage to the attacker and causing it to spin out of control and crash onto the moon's surface. Shankar receives an urgent hail from the shuttle, requesting immediate evacuation; Spock reports the shuttle's life support is failing. Pike orders them beamed aboard, and leaves with Una to greet their guests.

Pike and Una arrive at the transporter room on deck six, just as Chief Kyle beams the shuttle passengers aboard. To Pike's surprise, the one to greet him, Alora, is familiar to him, though she greets him as "Lieutenant Pike". "You know her, captain?" Una asks, before jokingly adding, "Or should I call you lieutenant?"

Act One

As the other two passengers – an adult male and a young boy – get their bearings, Pike explains that he met Alora years ago. Alora recalls that he had saved her from a shuttle that time, too, leading Una to comment on her "bad luck with shuttles". Alora thinks it could be good luck, depending on how one looked at it. She notes how his uniform was "very yellow", and he explains it was actually gold, because he was the captain now. Alora formally thanks the captain on behalf of Majalis. Pike, now stammering, introduces Una, his Number One, who offers to escort them to the ready room for debrief. The male insists on going to their medical facility first, as the boy seems to have been injured. Pike asks if he was the boy's father, and the male coldly replies that it was strictly in a biological sense.

In his office in sickbay, Dr. Joseph M'Benga is reading from his storybook to his daughter Rukiya, who says he had read the exact same chapter twice in a row. He admits that because he's kept her in the pattern buffer of sickbay's transporter to keep her disease from progressing, and can't keep her out for very long, sometimes he loses track of the details. She asks how long he's been reading to her, and he admits it's been "a while". The transporter was on a timer, so as not to be disruptive. Just as Rukiya is asking when, the transporter takes her. M'Benga stares at the empty chair for a moment just as his door chimes; it is Nurse Chapel, telling him they had people with possible injuries coming. Composing himself, M'Benga rises to check on his patient.

Alora explains that the boy, known only as the "First Servant", was a holy figure chosen by lottery to embody the Majalan people's maxim: "science, service, sacrifice". He had forsworn his own family because all on Majalis were his family now. Pike still seems to be struggling with his feelings since seeing her again, before asking what they were doing on the moon they were orbiting. She explains that there was a retreat there for the First Servant's studies, and that she and Elder Gamal, the male with her on the shuttle, were taking the First Servant back to Majalis when the ship attacked them, demanding they surrender the child. La'an asks if they had any idea who the attackers were. Alora knows the nearest inhabited system is populated by descendants of a long-lost alien colony, but their worlds have co-existed peacefully for centuries. She suspects it was intended to be a ransom, as she was to oversee the First Servant's ascension to the throne in two days' time. If any outsiders knew of the sacred nature of the ceremony, they would also know that Majalis would pay any price for the child's safe return. La'an suggests sending a landing party to investigate the crashed ship, and Spock adds the attackers may have survived. Alora assures them no such investigation is necessary, but Una believes it not only necessary, but required. Alora then appeals directly to Pike, saying that her people did not join the Federation and could handle things themselves, pleading with him to let her people handle it. Pike, however, is bound by Starfleet regulations to investigate any ship that attacked a Starfleet vessel, and regretfully explains he will do so, with or without Alora's cooperation. Alora responds in kind, saying that she would accompany the landing party, with or without Pike's cooperation.

In sickbay, Chapel's scans show slight reduction in the cerebral blood flow, which M'Benga recognizes as being consistent with head trauma, jokingly admonishing the First Servant not to block the hull with his head next time it collapsed. As Chapel prepares to repair the damage with a subdermal scalpel, Gamal demands she keep that "butcher's knife" away from the First Servant, and instead asks for the medical scanner to check something for himself. He appears familiar with the technology, and is able to determine that the First Servant's quantum bio-implants are functioning; the Majalans made use of quantum mechanics to heal injuries. He makes disparaging remarks about Starfleet's medical technology, and boasts that in his clinic, healing started at the subatomic level. Chapel is surprised to learn Gamal is a doctor, and the elder replies that he had been, until he became father to the First Servant, who was now his only patient. The First Servant examines the scanner, finding it "rudimentary" but interesting. M'Benga seems particularly interested about the Majalans' medical technology; if it did what Gamal said, that would make disease and suffering a thing of the past. Gamal explains they had a saying on Majalis: "Let the tree that grows from the roots of sacrifice lift us where suffering cannot reach." He adds that there was no disease of any kind among his people.

At the crash site of the attacking ship, La'an and Uhura cut their way inside; Uhura's scans show no life readings. As Uhura spots a still-working console and moves to touch it, La'an tells her she just flunked "lesson three" of security: "Let your tricorder do the investigating." She explains that some Klingon ships were equipped with a scuttle system, where even the lightest touch would trigger the ship's auto-destruct sequencer. Uhura runs her scans, saying that there was no chance they would blow up that day; the attackers wiped the data banks. La'an warns her that "luck runs out fast", and admonishes her to be more careful, before reporting to Spock that the crash site was secure. Alora steps inside, with Spock behind her; she recognizes the ship's technology as being consistent with the nearby colony. Spock finds a device that does not seem to be connected to the ship's systems, but Alora does not recognize it. She does, however, recognize a small token she finds on the deck…

Back aboard the Enterprise, Alora explains that the token is an oath coin, the highest military honor on Majalis, given to the Linnarean Guard when they swear the oath to protect the life of the First Servant. The other side of the coin has been defaced, a forbidden act. She has to now consider the possibility that one of the guards has betrayed his oath and is conspiring with the alien colony to kidnap the First Servant. The boy's life was in danger, as was Alora's. Pike offers to keep them on the Enterprise as long as they needed, but Alora had her duties on Majalis; the peaceful transition of power was a cornerstone of their society. When he offers armed escorts, she replies that hers were a private people, and foreign representatives were not welcome. "What about a friend?" Pike asks after a moment. "You can have friends, right?"

Act Two

The floating city above Majalis

In the Majalan capital, a city floating over the surface of the planet, Alora's aide explains her schedule, involving an opening speech, a tree planting, and the Festival of Gratitude. Pike can now see why Alora could not stay away. Alora adds one more item to the agenda, and asks for the Linnarean Guards to be summoned. "Ready to shake the tree and see what falls out?" Pike asks, and Alora replies she is. As she moves ahead, Pike unsnaps the holster on his phaser, ready to draw at a moment's notice.

In sickbay, Spock approaches Elder Gamal and asks for a word in private, and asks if he recognizes the device he found on the crashed ship. Gamal replies he does not. Spock explains his analysis shows it to be a form of neural dampener, and based on its size, it was intended for use on the First Servant. Overhearing, the First Servant asks to see it, and Gamal hurriedly puts it back in the box, saying he would rather the boy not see it. The First Servant realizes Spock is the science officer, and asks if he knew the propagation of subspace radio signals in long-range communications. Spock glances with reserved surprise at Gamal, before answering that he understood it to be roughly fifty-two thousand times the speed of light, something the First Servant calls "super slow". He can see why the Federation had to rely on subspace relays, as the signals would degrade before they were received, even if subjected to radial polarization. Spock admits he does not know many at that age who were familiar with radial polarization, and the First Servant explains he was interested because he thought it would be fun to have a friend to talk to at long distance. He had designed his own subspace frequency, and thought he could rewire the biobed to generate it. Spock concedes it would be an impressive feat, though Dr. M'Benga would object to using his equipment. Gamal intervenes, saying the First Servant needed his rest, as he had a big day coming.

On the surface, Alora addresses the Linnarean Guards, reminding them that it was the eve of the First Servant's ascension to the throne, and at that sacred time, it was important to remind themselves of the sanctity of their calling, and so asks for them to renew their vows and present their oath coins. The guards kneel, holding the oath coins they wear on chains around their necks for her inspection. Coming to one of the guards, Kier, she sees the casing on his coin is damaged, which he calls "an accident". She asks to take a closer look. Seeing Pike staring intently at him, Kier pushes Alora aside, and uses his weapon to vaporize one of the other guards trying to stop him before fleeing. The other guards fire at him; as Pike prepares to follow them, Alora takes him a different way. The guards pursue Kier into the gardens, and he is able to fight them off with relative ease. As he seems to escape his pursuers, however, he is tackled by Pike, who has cut ahead of him. As both rise, Kier moving to regain his weapon, Pike is faster and draws his phaser, warning that it was not on stun. Alora steps between Pike and the other guards, saying she only wished to talk. Kier raises his hands in a submissive gesture, and Alora asks why he had been aboard the ship. He replies that he was there to fulfill this oath, and renounce everything this "floating hell" stood for. He draws a knife and holds it to Alora's throat. "Long live the First Servant!" he proclaims, just as Alora elbows him and tackles him to the ground, stabbing him with his own blade.

In the recreation room back on the ship, Uhura is wolfing down her food while looking at a PADD when she is approached by Lieutenant Kirk, who reminds her to chew her food. Word had got around that she was on rotation with La'an, and suggests telling the security chief that she deserved a full hour for her food break – just as La'an approaches, saying he could tell her himself. Kirk backtracks by saying that he would, but he was conflict-averse, and quietly retreats. La'an has a crate full of data chips she "liberated" from the crash site; while she knows it was against protocol, she cites "lesson six": "Know when to bend the rules." She knows Starfleet would not have approved, so she couldn't put them through the ship's translator, and it would have taken weeks anyway. She knows Uhura has a talent for languages, and so leaves her with the task – much to the cadet's chagrin.

In sickbay, M'Benga is astonished to see that the First Servant's injuries have healed so completely, it was like he had never experienced head trauma at all. He is inspired to ask Gamal a "hypothetical" question, doctor to doctor. He explains that he had an eleven-year-old female patient with mast cell cygnokemia, and asks if the quantum bio-implants could treat it in late stages. Gamal answers that it could in fact be reversed. M'Benga then asks if he had such a patient (and he does), could he send her to Majalis? Gamal, however, says that Majalan law prohibits sharing their technology with unaffiliated races, pointing out that the Federation had similar policies. M'Benga replies that this did not apply to medical interventions. Gamal concedes that one day, an alliance between Majalis and the Federation would serve them all.

Back in the Majalan capital, Pike asks Alora if she should see a doctor. She assures him (using his first name) that she was fine, but is shaken by the encounter. She had thought she had known Kier and thought him loyal, and begins to wonder if there were others like him that she thought she knew. Pike again offers an armed guard outside the door. She declines, but Pike reminds her that he didn't save her from a pulsar just to let her get killed. She amends that by saying he could come in with her instead, as she kisses him.

Act Three

In bed later that evening, Pike confesses that he "may have" been hitting on Alora the first time they met, and she laughs that he absolutely had been. He calls it "crazy" that they met again, and she agrees that it did seem "unlikely", but both thought about the other now and again. Pike jokes that he always wondered what happened to "that Majalan girl who couldn't fly a shuttle". She corrects him by saying she did know how to fly it, but just flew it into the wrong place. Pike had the feeling that they recognized something in one another, and thought it was a shame they never got to follow through with it. Alora admits she had not been expecting them to reconnect again, but it was rare to know what lay in the future. Pike agrees, though adds that some people get a glimpse of their future; he reveals to her that there will be an accident in less than ten years that will "not end well" for him, and that Federation medicine would not be able to help him. She asks how he knows, and he replies simply that he does, without elaborating. Alora knows that Majalan medical technology could help, but that would mean he would have to stay among them, and live as they did. She apologizes for overstepping, but he assures her that she didn't. She promises he would be welcome on Majalis, calling it "another part of the future" to consider.

Uhura calls La'an to her cabin and reveals she has found the "needle in the haystack" La'an asked her to find, having translated the dialects from the alien data chips. Reading the results, La'an realizes they had to take the information to the captain. Uhura wishes her luck and asks to know what they find, but La'an tells her that it was her work, and she should present it… if she was sure of her findings, that is. Uhura is confident that she is.

In sickbay, M'Benga is bringing a tray of food to his office when he hears the sound of laughter, and enters to find the First Servant projecting a game similar to hopscotch on the floor – and Rukiya jumping through the circles projected. The First Servant apologizes, saying he used noble gases from the atmospheric processor to project them, thinking they would be safe. M'Benga lifts Rukiya back onto her exam chair, worried about her standing, and she ruefully says she was having fun. M'Benga looks at the First Servant and asks how he found out about Rukiya. He replies that the doctor and Elder Gamal "talk loud", and when he couldn't find anyone with cygnokemia in sickbay, he looked in the places he would try to hide in. Rukiya asks if she had to go back in, and her father says she does… but perhaps not for much longer. As he places her back in the pattern buffer, M'Benga tells the First Servant that no one can know about her. Just then, Gamal enters, having heard noises. The First Servant claims he was looking for a "midnight snack", but Gamal thinks he had been showing off, and it was time for him to go.

Pike returns to the ship, annoyed at having to be called to hear a "very urgent report" in person. Una explains that it was probably best that he find out without Alora hearing. Uhura presents her report, explaining that she had traced the language of the kidnappers to a non-Federation colony, Prospect VII, a class L world a couple of light years away. It was a barren world, barely above subsistence levels. Pike is aware, having learned this from Alora, but Uhura reveals her surprise: the dialect spoken was linguistically similar to that of the Majalans, which meant the "alien" colony was in fact an offshoot off Majalis. La'an asks why anyone would leave "paradise" to settle on Prospect VII, and Spock adds that if the colony was in fact Majalan, why would Alora and Gamal tell them otherwise? Pike knows the Majalans did not trust outsiders; saving Alora from the pulsar had led to an overture to join the Federation. He is convinced that there had to be a reasonable explanation, just as M'Benga calls from sickbay: Gamal and the First Servant are trying to leave the ship.

Pike rushes to the transporter room, where Kyle is refusing to beam them down. Gamal demands that Pike order his transporter chief to do so. Pike thought they had agreed they were safer on the ship, but Gamal does not agree. Suddenly, both Gamal and the First Servant are beamed off the ship. Kyle insists he didn't do it, and someone had locked onto their signal while the shields were down. Pike calls the bridge, asking if there were any ships nearby. Una reports one, another combat cruiser trying to flee. Suddenly, Gamal is returned to the ship alone, and asks where the First Servant is. Pike orders red alert.

On the bridge, Spock reports the First Servant's life signs aboard the ship, and they are unable to beam him back with the cruiser's shields raised. Shankar reports he has hailed several times, with no response; Ortegas plans to remind them the Enterprise was bigger. Pike orders Mitchell to secure the cruiser in a tractor beam to prevent them from going to warp, but the cruiser attempts to do so anyway. Mitchell is forced to increase power to the structural integrity field, and Spock warns that if they still try to go to warp, it could destroy the cruiser. Pike is unwilling to risk harming the First Servant or the kidnappers, and orders the tractor beam disengaged. Mitchell does so, but it is too late; the strain causes the cruiser to explode.

Act Four

Alora is horrified when Pike informs her of the loss of the cruiser and the First Servant. She thinks this means their world is "over"; if the First Servant does not ascend, Majalis would "fall from the sky", the floating city crashing into the rivers of lava and lakes of acid on the surface below. When a confused Pike asks how one child could prevent such a calamity, Alora abruptly cuts off the communication. Pike then turns to his crew and demands to know how someone could have beamed the First Servant off his ship. After a momentary silence, Uhura speaks up and says she knows… and glances pointedly at Gamal.

In the ready room, Gamal calls Uhura "deluded", and La'an defends her, saying she was summarizing facts and drawing the logical conclusion. Pike asks Uhura to walk him through it. Uhura explains that one would need full bio-patterns to beam someone off without their knowledge, which would have been collected in sickbay; Gamal had accessed those bio-patterns just before attempting to leave the ship. Gamal protests by saying he was the First Servant's doctor, but Uhura points out that he accessed not only the First Servant's patterns, but his own. La'an adds that the cadet just demonstrated the dreaded "lesson seven" of security: "Leave no stone unturned." La'an usually requires people to look under Mugatan breathing stones for that lesson, but considers that unnecessary in this case (much to Uhura's relief). As Pike asks Gamal for the full story, Spock calls and asks Pike to join him on deck seventeen, as he has discovered something the captain needs to see. Pike acknowledges, and orders La'an to escort the elder to the brig.

Spock compliments the First Servant's ingenuity, explaining that he had devised a method of generating his own subspace channel on an unused frequency; Spock thought there might be some utility in monitoring it. Spock reveals that the First Servant had sent a distress signal, something Pike knows is impossible, as no one on the combat cruiser could have survived. But Spock thinks the First Servant was not on the cruiser when it exploded, and in fact he had been transported to where the signal originated – right there on the Enterprise. Inside one of the cargo crates on the deck, they find the First Servant, alive and well. Pike prepares to take him to sickbay, but the First Servant insists he must go to Majalis for the ascension. Pike calls to the bridge to inform Alora that they had news she'd want to hear.

The procession and celebration for the new First Servant

On Majalis, the ascension ceremony is in full swing, as cheering crowds greet the First Servant. Pike stands with Alora, witnessing it… but he has some pointed questions. Like, for instance, how the fate of Majalis rested on the head of one child, which Alora says was "complicated" and "sacrosanct"; why Gamal would kidnap his own son… or why she never mentioned that Prospect VII was not an alien colony, but a colony of her own people. Alora looks distinctly uncomfortable.

In the Enterprise's brig, Gamal is approached by Una, and demands to be released as he was not a Federation citizen. Una points out that he broke several Federation laws by modifying the transporters to kidnap a minor, whom he then hid on the ship. Gamal insists he did so for his son's safety, and admits that the neural dampener found on the crashed cruiser was also intended for that purpose, to make him unable to fulfill his duties as the First Servant. He wishes to speak to Pike, but the captain was on Majalis with the First Servant. Gamal looks stricken at this, asking if the ceremony had begun, and Una thinks that it had by that point. Gamal admits he deserves to be there, as he had violated his own beliefs, as well as his planetary law, to try and save his son. Una asks him from what.

The First Servant proceeds through the crowd to the "Sacred Chamber"; Alora explains the Majalan Ruling Council has allowed an exception for Pike, though an outsider, to witness the ascension ceremony because he saved the boy's life, and because she wanted him to be a part of it. When Pike asks what he was to be part of, the First Servant approaches, inviting Pike to join him at the ascension.

Back on the ship, Shankar reports he is unable to reach the captain, as the planet was putting out an electromagnetic field that blocked communications. Una orders Spock to prepare a landing party to beam to the surface, but Spock reports that the same EM pulse that blocked communications would also block transporters. Una is incredulous that they were unable to reach the captain at the exact moment they needed to.

The device connects itself to the First Servant's brain

Inside the Sacred Chamber, Pike stands in the background as they approach the throne, attached to a number of power generators within. Alora kneels before the First Servant, saying asking the ritual question: "Do you freely offer this gift of self to the people of Majalis?" "With joy and gratitude, I do," the boy replies. "Do you freely choose your fate?" she asks next. Just as he is about to give the ritual answer, the First Servant sees the bundle being carried on a stretcher by the Linnarean Guards, and falters. Two of the guards hold their weapons to bar Pike's approach, but Alora tells them he could see. To Pike's horror, it is a child: the previous First Servant, now a wasted, lifeless husk. The guards hold him back to prevent him from interfering, as Alora says he has sacrificed himself willingly for the people of Majalis. Pike is able to overpower the guards holding him, but one standing near the throne (which now holds the First Servant locked in, cables connecting to his head) strikes him across the face with her weapon, and he loses consciousness with Alora looking down on him.

Pike comes to inside Alora's residence, and rises to leave. The guards bar his way, but Alora assures them the ascension is complete, and that they may go. She tells Pike he may go now as well, and he fully intends to do so – to rescue the First Servant from the machine. Alora stops him by saying even if he could get inside the chamber, severing the connection would kill the boy. Pike is dumbfounded, asking why they would need a child to plug into a machine to keep Majalis running. Alora admits she is not sure why, or what it will do to him; the founders set it up that way centuries ago, and they had tried to find alternatives for just as long; it had in fact been what Alora was working on when they met ten years before. Pike asks if the First Servant will suffer, and Alora quietly confirms he will, and that they did not pretend otherwise. Pike is disgusted at the idea that the entire Majalan civilization is founded on the suffering of a child. Alora pointedly asks if children did not live in poverty or squalor in the Federation, while those who lived in abundance looked away; the difference was, the Majalans did not look away, and their suffering was carried on the back of only one. Pike fully intends to report to Starfleet the first chance he gets, but Alora reminds him they were not part of the Federation, and they had no jurisdiction. Perhaps in the future, she believes, he will feel differently. Pike's answer is a brusque call to the ship to beam him aboard, leaving Alora in tears.

In sickbay, M'Benga is approached by Gamal, who has requested a transfer to Prospect VII. The elder had once thought they were a planet of traitors, committed to destroying the Majalan way of life, but they had tried to help him save his child… and he had failed. He was adamant he would not fail the next child, and so has come to M'Benga to offer his help, one doctor to another, with the "hypothetical" patient with cygnokemia. He warns it would not be a cure, but M'Benga thinks it could be the first step to one. The doctor brings up Rukiya's medical file for Gamal to examine.

In his quarters, Pike has poured himself a drink as he stares out the viewport at Majalis, his expression haunted.

Memorable quotes

Log entries

Background information

Title

Production

Cast

Links and references

Starring

And

Guest starring

Co-starring

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt doubles

References

2248; 2249; ascension (ascend); auto-destruct sequencer; brig; combat cruiser; electromagnetic pulse; evasive maneuvers; Federation; Federation law; Federation space; Festival of Gratitude; First Servant; founder (occupation); King; Klingon; landing party; L class; Linnarean Guard; Majalan; Majalan air transport; Majalan combat cruiser; Majalan shuttle; Majalan system; Majalis; medicine; Milky Way Galaxy; minister; minor (law); Mugatan breathing stone; neural dampener (aka neural dampening device); neural network; noble gas; oath coin; pattern buffer; Pollux;poverty; Prospect VII; pulsar; quantum bio-implant; quantum mechanics; red alert; Ridley; Rigelian tiger; Ruling Council; Sacred Chamber; sacrosanct; squalor; Starfleet; subspace; traitor; transit; tug of war; Wizard

Prospect VII planetary data

carbon dioxide; coordinates; day; helium; hour; hydrogen; kilogram; krypton; L-class; mass; mean surface temperature; methane; neon; nitrogen; oxygen; revolution period; rotation period; solar year; water

Majalis planetary data

argon; carbon-based lifeform; Class N; habitable zone; water vapor

Meta references

intertitle

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"Spock Amok"
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Season 1
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