A ship explodes, just as its captain materializes on the Enterprise’s bridge. He looks around, obviously frightened and confused.
Kirk: Don’t be alarmed. I’m Captain Kirk, and this is the starship Enterprise. Your ship was destroyed, but we beamed you out of there just in the nick of time.
Visitor: You… oh no. You beamed me here?
Visitor: With a transporter device?
Spock: That’s correct.
Visitor: Oh Lord, forgive me.
Kirk and Spock exchanged worried glances.
Kirk: Aren’t you glad to have survived the wreckage?
Visitor: Survive? I didn’t survive. Don’t you understand how that damned device even works?
Kirk: You mean the transporter?
Visitor: It doesn’t transport. It disassembles your molecules and reassembles them on the other side. It annihilates you, and builds a perfect copy in a new location. It’s not a transporter, it’s a replacer. What results is a facsimile, a reproduction, a brand-new being with borrowed memories. The original creature—its consciousness—its soul—all gone.
Kirk: Nonsense, man!
Visitor: Think about it. It’s not the actual molecules being “transported,” just information about them. You could just as easily transmit that information—and build the new being—while leaving the old one perfectly intact. Couldn’t you? And if the old one persisted, wouldn’t it be obvious that the new copy is a different being altogether?
Spock: His analysis is not incorrect, Captain.
Visitor: I’m a monster. I’m a back-up file. I am not myself, but my own echo, my own substitute, my own ghost.
Kirk: Calm down! I’ve transported myself thousands of times, and I assure you, I still exist.
Visitor: When was the last time you transported?
Kirk: Why, just yesterday.
Visitor: Then you are one day old. You were born yesterday, in an unholy swirl of atoms and quarks. You were fabricated out of thin air, and planted with the memories of a man who had existed before and who unwittingly perished that you might live. But you are not him. You are but a perfect forgery.
Kirk: This man is clearly disturbed!
Spock: No, Captain, he is not.
Spock: As a logical being, I deduced many years ago that I am annihilated each time that I am transported.
Kirk: Spock! If that’s true, then why do you still do it?
Spock: Logic dictates that I should not mourn the end of my own consciousness, if I shall be replaced with an identical being that can continue in my place.
Kirk: You’re both crazy. Scotty, please beam Mr. Spock and our visitor to sick bay for a medical examination.
Spock: If you believe it is for the greater good, Captain, then I shall go.
Visitor: NOOOOOOOOOO!!! I’VE JUST BEGUN TO LIVE!!!
Spock and the visitor both de-materialize.