Michael J. Pollard
Lt. John Farrell
Enterprise, hundreds of light years from home, goes to investigate a distress
call transmitted in Earth-type radio signals. On arriving at the apparent
source they find a planet which appears to be an exact duplicate of Earth.
A landing party is beamed down to investigate further but is immediately
attacked by a madman. As the man dies, McCoy is horrified by the fact
that he appears to age incredibly in just a few seconds.
The buildings they explore seem to be deserted until they come across
a young girl called Miri. They discover that a plague of some sort has
killed off all the adults and that all of them in the landing party, except
for Spock, have also been infected. They persuade Miri to take them to
an abandoned hospital where, in a laboratory, McCoy discovers files relating
to a project on life prolongation.
Spock surmises that the unseen effect of this is to prolong childhood
for hundreds of years, finally causing madness, rapid ageing and death
when affected by the chemical and hormonal changes during the onset of
puberty. He and McCoy have a limited amount of time to find a cure before
they all succumb. Other children on the planet, afraid of grown-ups because
of their deranged behaviour before death, meet secretly and plot to steal
the landing party's communicators.
McCoy and Spock are unable to find an antidote without the help of the
Enterprise's computer and arguments start to break out as the disease
takes hold and nerves get frayed. The crewmembers start to break out in
red-blue blotches and Kirk tries to console Janice Rand when she discovers
them on her legs. Miri has developed a crush on Jim and, in her jealousy,
arranges for the children to kidnap her.
Kirk manages to rescue Janice and also manages, eventually, to persuade
the children that he and the Enterprise can help them. He gets the communicators
back from the children and races back to the lab only to find that McCoy
has already injected himself with a possible antidote, which has rendered
him unconscious. The injection, however, works and the members of the
landing party are cured. The Enterprise leaves the planet after arranging
Federation assistance for the 300-year old children.