You’d know if you had compassion. A woman should have compassion, but I forget you’re not a woman.
-Kirk to Sylvia
Module BI-12T(b): Shapeshifters: Sylvia
The salt suckerer had nothing on Sylvia. This shapeshifter changed forms without the need to observe the mental conventions of her current prey’s fantasies. Thus, being neither limited by the lustful imaginations of the male gender class nor inconvenient shipboard locations, she exercised complete control of her malleable environment. But, fortunately for us, she exhibited the M-113 creature’s fortuitous weakness. She had a powerful hankering for love. And this sentimentality drove her to the brink of blessed destruction. Into which Captain James T. Kirk promptly shoved her.
Kirk was introduced to Sylvia when a missing landing party crewman, Jackson, tumbled off the transporter pad, dead on arrival. But, apparently, alive enough for brief conversation. “Captain Kirk, can you hear me?” the dead man asked. (Huh?) “There is a curse on your ship.” Jackson’s corpse shouldn’t have said that. “Leave this place or you will all die.” Kirk perceived this threat as an invitation for a beat down. Flexing, he collected his posse, Dr. Leonard McCoy and Mr. Spock, then beamed to the planet’s surface to see what the devil was going on.
It turned out Satan had been quite busy. His representatives were also gathered as the rapping sensation, Witches Trio. “Wind shall rise. And fog descend. So leave here, all, or meet your end.” Okay. When the dead rap they always sound this bad. Enough with the Halloween theatrics, Kirk wanted an explanation. Spock reset to unexplained-events default and conjectured that the bad rappers could not possibly be that popular. He also doubted the reality of the Shroudshire fortress they eventually encountered.
With no other options, Kirk and crew gingerly entered the haunted castle and, as expected, fell through one of its stone floors. And, of course, woke up tightly bound in chains without even Halloween chocolate to comfort their souls. “As if someone knew what terrified man most on an instinctive level,” Spock wisely deduced. Ghost stories with no candy anywhere in sight. Thus, the skeletal remains of another chocolate-denied chained companion.
The missing Scott and Sulu finally presented themselves, obviously having indulged in a recent drug habit. Stoned, with phasers in hand, they also had no candy. Kirk’s sweet tooth was starting to get aggravated. The druggies took them to Korob, Sylvia’s colleague. He was a cross between a stylish Merlin (the old one) and the weird crap he conjured up. A black cat also graced his side. “A familiar,” Spock said. No, Spock, Sylvia. “Demons sent in animal form by Satan to serve the wizard.” No Spock, Syl–. Never mind. Sylvia/Cat exited.
Humanoid Sylvia then returned and introduced herself, excluding the Satanic she-demon spawn designation. She explained she used hypnosis, not drugs, to control Scott and Sulu (thus, says the dealer). Telepathy and drugs, Kirk insisted. “Telepathy doesn’t imply control and I assure you I have full control.” Quickly, she demonstrated by allowing Kirk to contact the Enterprise crew, then using sympathetic magic to cook their innards by dangling a toy ship over an open flame. Kirk silently mouthed a blood-vow to light that witch up if it was the last thing he did. Oblivious, she ceased the manifestation of her culinary skills and encased the toy in an impenetrable force field.
Later, in chains again, Kirk had time to plot her destruction. After waiting twenty-two minutes and seven seconds, McCoy, whom Sylvia had detained, showed up higher than a kite, phaser in hand (still no candy). Sylvia was summoning Kirk to her side. So, devious plan in mind, he went. “Your species has abilities I lack,” she began. “Tell me about your power. You excite me.” This phrase, of course, exited all thoughts of plans and deviousness from Kirk’s mind. He kissed her passionately.
Encouraged by his ardor, Sylvia flirtatiously transformed into attractive versions of two other women. Something real humanoid females know never to do. “I can be many women,” she crowed, then inexplicably changed back to herself. Abruptly losing the availability of the more alluring varieties startled Kirk out of lustville. But, his libido was suppressed prematurely. “The transmuter, it’s a device. You do use tools?” he asked forlornly. She heard his despairing thoughts bemoaning her original form and shocked, shouted. “You are using me!” Caught, Kirk was largely unapologetic. Those other women were hot. “Why not?!!” he spurned her. “You’ve been using me and my crew!!”
Perdition’s simmering flames surrounding her, Sylvia screamed, “You will be swept away. You! Your men! Your ship!! Your worlds!!!” She massively failed to ascertain the logic of Kirk’s words concerning reciprocal depletion. Back again in the cell in chains, an unrepentant Kirk and unaware-of-the-magnitude-of-Kirk’s-blunder, Spock, awaited Sylvia’s execution. But Korob, finally realizing that she had gone completely man-hungry, tried to help them escape. But Sylvia, now an enormous feline, used her cat’s paws to beat down the heavy dungeon door and crushed the enlightenment out of him.
Kirk seized the transmuter wand. But, the frozen chosen attacked with blunt instruments. However, they were no match for the spry and sober. So Sylvia tried this: “You’re very clever, Captain. Handsome,” she whispered seductively. (Utterly, doomed to fail without bombshell transformation.) She then transported him to another room where he briefly hoped for the changelings’ reappearance. “Look at me. I’m a woman.” No dice. Frustrated, he shouted, “I don’t know what you are, but you’re not a woman!” O00hhh. Right below hell’s simmering flames. But James wasn’t done yet. “You’ve tortured my men and taken their minds from them. You ask for love and return pain instead!” The pain of lovelier selves denied.
Enough small talk. Sylvia pointed a phaser at him and demanded the transmuter. Play time’s over! But being the man that he was, and hating threats of all kinds, especially threats from crew-killing shapeshifters, Kirk didn’t quite respond as she’d hoped. He raised the wand as if to give it to her ever so sweetly. What a tease. Then abruptly smashed the orb, (bam!) on the very hard wooden medieval table. Everything, instantly, in the blink of an eye, vanished. Sylvia, Korob, Shroudshire, everything.
When the smoke cleared, Spock and the others appeared, groggy, but alive. And two bird-like blueish purple-people-eaters were swaying in the mist. Yes, Sylvia and Korob, in their original forms. This was a shock. Kirk and crew never knew they were chasing untamed ornithoids. In the planet’s atmosphere they fizzled into puffs of smoke and died. Still slightly buzzed, Bones said, “All of this was just an illusion?” “Not an illusion,” Kirk retorted. “Jackson is dead.”
In this next discussion, Kirk’s crew will again face mortal threat and other concerns, just as significant, are at stake. One of them, the liberty of all lifeforms in the galaxy but, perhaps, not in the way that you may expect. The inmates have taken over the insane asylum and unless they are stopped, the Federation will cease to exist in any kind of quantitatively familiar way. But when has this not been a risk? Stay tuned.
Bloch, Robert. “Catspaw.” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Company. 27 October 1967. Television. Retrieved:http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Catspaw_(episode) , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catspaw_(Star_Trek:_The_Original_Series)