“The Slaver Weapon” is the fourteenth episode of the first season of the American animated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Animated Series.
It first aired on NBC on 15 December 1973, and was written by Larry Niven. It was based on his original short story “The Soft Weapon“. This episode was expanded to become the first half of a full-length novel by science-fiction author Alan Dean Foster as Star Trek Log Ten.
Set in the 23rd century, the series follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (voiced by William Shatner) and the crew of the Starfleet starship Enterprise. In this episode, while travelling by shuttlecraft, several Enterprise crew members are captured and have to use their individual strengths to prevent a powerful alien weapon from falling into the wrong hands.
On stardate 4187.3, the Enterprise shuttlecraft Copernicus, carrying Science Officer Spock (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), Communications Officer Lt. Uhura (voiced by Nichelle Nichols), and Helmsman Lt. Hikaru Sulu (voiced by George Takei) are en route to Starbase 25 to deliver a stasis box, a rare artefact of the Slaver culture. The now-extinct Slavers used these objects to carry weapons, valuables, scientific instruments and data. The boxes can detect each other and evidence shows that another device is located near Beta Lyrae.
Following the signal, the shuttle lands on an ice planet where the crew is captured by the hostile, catlike Kzinti. The Kzinti had an empty stasis box of their own, and were using it to lure in passing starships. They are trying to steal the boxes in the hopes of finding a super weapon that will return their empire to its former greatness. The Kzinti open the box that the Enterprise had been transporting, finding inside some fresh meat, a picture of a Slaver, and a powerful (but unfamiliar) alien device, which the Kzinti immediately suspect is a weapon.
The weapon passes hands several times between the Federation and Kzinti crews, during which time Sulu discovers a total-conversion beam setting. The Kzinti recapture all three Federation personnel and the weapon. As the Kzinti explore the device’s many settings, they discover a war computer that starts talking to them. After the Kzinti fail to provide several code words and ask about the total-conversion beam setting, the weapon concludes that they are enemies and directs them to what it claims is the setting that they want but which is actually a self-destruct setting. When the Kzinti activate that setting it turns out to be a disruptor field that destroys the weapon and kills the Kzinti.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Hal Sutherland.
- Writer(s): Larry Niven.
- Release Date: 15 December 1973.
- Running Time: 30 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.