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Located on the planet Gamma Trianguli VI, Vaal was an ancient computer system which had been operating for at least ten thousand years. The original intent had apparently been to provide climate control and supervise the planet's food supply. But at some point it assumed direct control of the population, setting itself up as a local god-figure. Vaal kept close control of every individual on the planet, keeping them in a state of perfect health and eternal youth. In return, they provided Vaal with raw material to power itself.
Eventually the natives regressed to a state of near-childhood, virtually unable to think for themselves. When Captain Kirk visited the planet in 2267 Vaal made at least one direct attack on the landing party using its weather control abilities to direct lightning strikes which killed one crew member and wounded another. It also directed the local villagers to attack the landing party, although they were quickly subdued by the Enterprise personnel due to their inexperience in combat. Captain Kirk found the idea of Humans living under the control of a computer offensive enough that it justified violating the prime directive. His landing party kept the local villagers captive, refusing to allow them to feed Vaal, and he ordered the ship to fire on the forcefield surrounding the computer in order to drain its energy more quickly. Vaal soon ran out of fuel and became inactive.
Kirk offered the villagers Federation help in setting up their own society, and after some consideration they expressed a degree of enthusiasm for the new-found control over their lives.1