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Dec 24, 2015

That Which Survives

ancient ruins of planet M-113
Okay, in this Reality, "That Which Survives" was a season 3 episode of Star Trek, but in another Reality this was the name of the first episode in season 1.

Exoplanet Archeology
Planet Earth is dotted with the ruins of crumbled civilizations. When science fiction was still restricted to the Solar System, it became popular to craft stories about Mars as a planet that long ago had humanoids with some type of civilization, often having developed technologies beyond those of we Earthlings. Planet M-113 looks like a version of dry, red Mars -but with better air.

That Which Survived.
In the mid-1960s, Hollywood wanted a Monster of the Week that would enthrall the Star Trek television audience for 60 minutes. I'm not a fan of monsters and horror stories. It is difficult for me to express just how much I despised this episode when I was 12 years old, but this is not the place to list my complaints. Are there any redeeming story elements in this episode?

Telepathy
Let's imagine that the natives of planet M-113 had developed advanced nanotechnology and had genetically modified themselves so as to be efficient hosts for a nanite endosymbiont. They could feed off of other organisms by touching them and extracting needed nutrients via microscopic feeding tendrils.

Beauregard the alien detector (the sentient plant,
not Rand)...click the image to enlarge.
To facilitate nutrient extraction, they used a type of technology-assisted telepathic mind control. By sending nanite probes into another animal, they could over-ride its sensory processing and make it "see" a non-threatening memory of something from past experience.

When Professor Crater arrived on M-113, only the most efficient and ruthless of the planet's original inhabitants still survived. A breeding pair of those creatures looked into Crater's mind and recognized an opportunity to escape from M-113 and move to another planet, and so began their effort to infiltrate the crew of the Enterprise.

Plant Power!
In another Reality, rather than exterminating the aliens in less than 60 minutes, the crew of the Enterprise would have believed that they had defeated the aliens, but viewers would have been let in on a "secret": that two Enterprise crew members were carrying the nanite endosymbionts that escaped from the bodies of the two "dead" aliens.

Future episodes could have explored the fate of the two infected crew members and how they accommodated themselves to their alien endosymbionts. Maybe Sulu and Rand could have been the two "infected" crew members, and we could have seen more of good old Beauregard in future episodes.

Star Trek - Episode 1 - "That Which Survives"  (in another Reality)

The League of Yrinna
I've been thinking about the interaction between humans and the Phari in The League of Yrinna. To what extent should the starmenters in The League of Yrinna be under the control of alien nanites?

I'd like the aliens to have minimal control over humans: just enough to keep the starmenters going and working on a human breeding program aimed at making it easier for the aliens to communicate with humans via the Bimanoid Interface.

Next: breeding humans: what could possibly go wrong?
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