The situation seemed critical indeed. In the dark depths of a mining colony’s tunnels, people had begun to disappear for no evident reason. Perhaps the miners were under attack from some devilish entity as yet unknown, whose motives were a mystery.
“Strange substances also have been found,” Spock continued, “in the areas where the missing miners vanished.”
Kirk looked at the odd, and quite unrecognizable, images on the screen and asked, “Has anyone analyzed their composition?”
“Yes, Captain, it is most peculiar. It appears to be a caramelized material resembling marshmallow residue. I can think of no logical explanation.”
Not having the faintest clue either, Kirk decided to transport down to the planet with Spock, McCoy, and a security team to investigate this sticky situation. Just as they materialized inside the mining colony, the lights began flickering in weird hues of yellow, pink, purple, and other bright colors that reminded Kirk of something, but he wasn’t quite sure what. The ventilation system also seemed to be having problems, as it had begun to emit what sounded like chirping noises.
“Whatever is attacking our miners has also started interfering with the colony’s critical systems. We are in grave peril, Captain,” declared the colony’s chief engineer, Vanderpeep. “We need your help to hunt down and destroy the monster before it kills us.”
A mob of well-armed miners promptly joined forces with the Enterprise’s security team and started off along one of the tunnels. Before long, the air took on a faint odor of marshmallows, and Kirk could hear something large and alien hurrying through the tunnel not far ahead. The miners and redshirts charged enthusiastically forward, and a phaser blast sizzled through the sugary-sweet air.
One of the miners, Ed Grape, bent down to examine a sticky purple residue that clung to the edge of an opening in the wall that apparently led into another tunnel. “This is all we find when we try to shoot the creature,” he explained.
The splotch of goo didn’t look like anything Kirk recognized, although it was shaped almost like a tiny bird. That didn’t seem as if it would be particularly helpful. Kirk glanced into the side tunnel and noticed the glint of what looked like a small oval object wrapped in foil.
“Yes, we’ve found a few of those, too,” said the miner, following Kirk’s gaze. “The stuff inside looks just like chocolate, and that’s what a tricorder analysis says, too.”
Spock picked up the little foil-wrapped object and examined it intently, as the group of miners and redshirts thundered off down the side tunnel, intent on finding the mysterious alien and blasting it.
“Most illuminating. I have a theory,” Spock declared, as the captain followed his security team into the narrow passageway. Spock’s voice echoed eerily through the maze. Just inside another, smaller branching tunnel, Kirk saw one more foil wrapper. He began to follow that path and soon realized that he was alone in the tunnel. The miners and redshirts must have gone the other way. And where could Spock be?
Kirk began to hear an ominous noise, not far ahead; it sounded like a large number of jaws chomping greedily. Had he unwittingly entered a hive of man-eating insects? With his phaser drawn, Kirk carefully edged around the next bend in the tunnel. Then it opened suddenly into a wide cavern, and all at once, many eyes turned to look at him.
Somewhat to his surprise, they weren’t insect or monster eyes. In fact, most of them belonged to his own security officers, who were sitting on comfortable cushions enjoying baskets heaped high with Peeps and other candy. The miners were also there, including the ones who had been missing. Spock, who had just entered the chamber through another doorway, had raised an eyebrow to unprecedented heights upon observing the room’s central inhabitant.
This creature, whatever it might be, was like no alien Kirk had ever seen before. It was about the height of a man, but it had pink fur, long floppy ears, and a fuzzy white tail. When it saw Kirk looking in its direction, it smiled, revealing gleaming rodent teeth.
“Greetings, Captain Kirk! I am an energy being who can take on any shape at will. As the only one of my kind, I sometimes get lonely, and that is why I brought these miners and security officers here to keep me company. I decided to take on this shape because I expected that they would quickly recognize it as friendly.”
Kirk lowered his phaser and just shook his head. “Let me get this straight — you’re the Easter Bunny?”
The alien shrugged its furry pink shoulders, wiggled its nose and tail, and cheerfully inquired, “Just what were you expecting anyway — a horta?”