The Retirement of Admiral Kirk is a Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip by Gerry Conway. It is the 19th story in the US Comic Strips series, published in newspapers over a period of 61 days (nine weeks) by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. This story depicts events after Captain Kirk's second five-year mission but before TOS movie: The Wrath of Khan. In this story, when Kirk is suddenly grounded, he signs on to command a Free Trader ship.
On stardate 9640.1, the Enterprise returned to drydock and Admiral Yaramoto permanently grounded Admiral Kirk. Kirk didn’t take it well, resigning his commission. He and McCoy ordered drinks at a bar in the city and talked about Kirk’s future. Overhearing them, Morbus, owner of the Free Trader ship Orion, approached and offered Kirk command of that ship. They looked it over. McCoy called it a junk heap, but as Kirk didn’t have a better offer from Starfleet, he accepted. Kirk said he was doing the only thing he could do. “In that case,” McCoy said, “I’m going with you,” suggesting he'd also resign his commission.After Orion launched, Morbus gave Kirk and McCoy a tour. The cargo hold, he said, was full of farm equipment bound for Epsilon-21. Feeling suspicious, McCoy snuck in and opened one of the containers, then was knocked unconscious from behind by Lugo, who was guarding the cargo. Lugo brought Kirk to the cargo bay, showing him the injured McCoy, who “hit his head on a pipe.” Concerned he might have a skull fracture, Kirk took McCoy to the ship’s sickbay. McCoy would recover, be the ship's doctor said McCoy would be sedated until they arrived at Epsilon-21.
Onboard the Enterprise, Scott was stunned that Kirk would become a free trader, and felt that Spock’s stoic acceptance made him seem heartless. Spock checked into Orion. Starfleet reported “irregularities” with its registration.
Meanwhile, aboard Orion, Kirk spot-inspected the engine room as a distraction to set a timed engine overload. Then he crept into the cargo hold and kayoed Lugo. As he opened a container to reveal a cargo of humanoids, Morbus appeared from the shadows with three officers, ready to kill Kirk. Morbus used Kirk’s reputation as an admiral to get the ship cleared, but now that their slave trading had been exposed, Kirk would be killed. Kirk said he’d rigged the engines to blow in one hour, if the correct abort code wasn’t sent, but Morbus countered by having Lugo drag McCoy into the room, and pointing out that if Morbus died, so did Kirk, McCoy and the slaves.
Outwitted, Kirk and McCoy were sealed into one of the slave containers. Morbus kept the two alive in case they were needed before they got to Epsilon-21. Then their helmsman reported the Enterprise approaching.
- Captain’s log, USS Enterprise, stardate 9652.3.
- Spock reporting, in command. I have fired a warning shot across the bow of the free-trader Orion and have ordered them to heave to or risk annihilation.
The slaves revealed themselves to Kirk and McCoy as something else entirely. The leader of the Maroni revealed they were both empathic and telepathic, and for the past century the ancient race had passed themselves off as slaves while they observed and learned about other races. Ready to act, all of the Maroni joined into one telepathic, unified mind and reached into the hearts of Orion’s crew, showing them how to feel compassion for others.
On the bridge, Morbus ordered Kirk to call off the Enterprise. Kirk stuck to his guns, saying the Enterprise crew knew their duty, and would fire if Morbus did not heave to. Panicked, Morbus reached out to his crew, but they’d had a change of heart and had changed sides. Just in case, Kirk called Spock, reporting everything was under control. The Maroni leader told Kirk he needn’t have bothered, since they had been in telepathic contact with Spock since before Orion had launched.
- Captain’s log, USS Enterprise, stardate 9652.6.
- Admiral Kirk providing supervisory supplemental. Starfleet Command has confirmed my return to active duty status, though Spock retains command of the Enterprise. They have… congratulated us for our handling of the Orion affair… but frankly, I’m still personally confused by the outcome.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Kirk was confused that Spock hadn't taken any action to stop the slave trade on Orion, but Spock replied that the Maroni telepathically had told him that Kirk had everything under control. Then Kirk seemed satisfied the affair was over. But McCoy wondered if Kirk had forgotten that his future eventually involved a ground assignment, or if Kirk just didn’t want to remember.
- James T. Kirk • Spock • Leonard McCoy • Montgomery Scott • Hikaru Sulu • Nyota Uhura • Yaramoto • Morbus • Lugo • Orion’s Chief Engineer • Orion’s Helmsman • Orion’s Doctor • Maroni leader
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#18: “Terminally Yours”
|Star Trek: The Original Series|
(US Comic Strips)
#20: “Getting Real”
|Memory Beta Chronology||Next adventure:|
- The story’s title was printed on August 13, 1983, the day before the story began.
- This was the fourth of five stories written by Gerry Conway, famous for co-creating Marvel’s Punisher and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man comic book. Conway wrote the final arc in the strip series, creating a period when Admiral Kirk revisited the Enterprise before the events of TOS movie: The Wrath of Khan.
- This story followed shortly after the previous one, based on the stardates. The rationale for Gerry Conway’s stories being set in 2279 was presented in the article for TOS comic: "Send in the Clones".
- Admiral Yaramoto previously appeared in TOS comic: "Send in the Clones", assigning Kirk to the Enterprise for a sensitive diplomatic mission.
- Free Traders were encountered before in the strip series. They were mentioned in TOS comic: "The Wristwatch Plantation", traders and a large pirate ship were encountered in Free Trader Lanes in TOS comic: "The Nogura Regatta", and merchants feuded in TOS comic: "A Merchant's Loyalty".
- The free trader ship Orion had a crew of about 14. Six were visible in the engine room, three on the bridge, one in the cargo hold, one doctor, plus Kirk, McCoy and the owner.
- The races of Morbus, Lugo, Orion’s Chief Engineer, Orion’s Helmsman, and Orion’s Doctor were not named in the story.
- TOS comic: "The Nogura Regatta" – Starfleet cadets were held for ransom aboard a pirate Free Trader Ship intent on attacking Federation starships.