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- Captain's log, Stardate 1312.4
- The impossible has happened. From directly ahead, we're picking up a recorded distress signal, the call letters of a vessel which has been missing for over two centuries. Did another Earth ship probe out of the galaxy as we intend to do? What happened to it out there? Is this some warning they've left behind?
In the USS Enterprise's briefing lounge, Captain James T. Kirk plays three-dimensional chess against his Vulcan science officer, Lieutenant Commander Spock. Kirk is preoccupied with the unexplained distress call, and hardly reacts when his opponent warns the captain of a checkmate against him on his next move. The captain notes that Spock played an "irritating" game, prompting Spock to respond with feigned confusion, noting that irritation was an Earth being's emotion. The captain responds by making a move that catches Spock unawares, avoiding the checkmate. Kirk asks if Spock is sure he does not a know what irritation is. Spock mentions that Kirk might be referencing his Vulcan ancestor who married a female of Human descent, but Kirk interrupts and jokes that it must be terrible to have "bad blood". The captain's anticipated bridge update regarding the Earth vessel signal origin comes over the intercom. Lieutenant Lee Kelso reports the source of the signal is now within tractor beam range, and that it is only about a meter across, too small to be a spacecraft. Kirk orders the bridge to lock on and leaves the lounge with Spock.
In the transporter room, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott adjusts the transporter, preparing to beam the signal source into the ship. Kirk arrives, and Scotty energizes, rematerializing what is recognizably an older recorder-marker used in emergencies. Spock observes damage he believes sustained during the ship's destruction. Montgomery Scott loads computer tapes to interface, and the ship's library begins to receive computer transmissions from the recorder. Captain Kirk orders the crew go to red alert stations and analyze the data.
During the rush to stations, Kirk and Spock enter a turbolift, followed by Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell. A good friend of Kirk's, Mitchell jokes with his captain, wondering out loud about Kelso's excitability and Spock's chess skills.
Spock begins to analyze its memory banks. They indicate that the Valiant had encountered an unknown force in this region of space. Spock hears urgent requests for information regarding extrasensory perception (ESP), and then, shockingly, what appears to be the Valiant's captain giving the order to destroy his own ship.
At the galaxy's boundary, the Enterprise also encounters an unusual force field, the galactic barrier. Nine crewmembers die in the encounter, and two others are badly injured—psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, and Captain Kirk's old friend, Lt. Commander Gary Mitchell.
Under the care of ship's surgeon, Dr. Mark Piper, Mitchell begins to exhibit increasing powers. He is able to levitate objects, read thoughts and control the ship's instruments. Dr. Dehner is also starting to exhibit similar capabilities.
Dehner concludes that Mitchell is mutating into a more advanced kind of human. But Hikaru Sulu cautions that at the rate at which Mitchell's powers are growing, he will not be human for much longer. Realising the threat that Mitchell might pose, Spock suggests marooning him on the planet Delta Vega and one other option, kill Mitchell while Kirk still has time—a coldly logical recommendation that Kirk is reluctant to accept until Mitchell murders Lieutenant Lee Kelso while escaping.
On the planet's surface, Kirk hunts down his friend and warns him that his absolute power will lead to absolute corruption. Mitchell's response is to attempt to kill Kirk. Dehner uses her own powers to stop him, but both she and Mitchell are killed in the resulting battle.
Kirk records that both gave their lives in the performance of their duties—a decision that meets with Spock's approval. Kirk asserts that there is hope for Spock after all.
- Daniel Alden • Elizabeth Dehner • Lee Kelso • James T. Kirk • Ed Leslie • Gary Mitchell • Mark Piper • Montgomery Scott • Barbara Smith • Spock • Hikaru Sulu
Starships and vehiclesEdit
- Aldebaran system • Aldebaran III • Aldebaran colony • Canopus system • Canopus Planet • Delta Vega sector • Delta Vega • galactic barrier
Races and culturesEdit
States and organizationsEdit
- aurora borealis • ESP • esper • galaxy • Kaferian apple • lithium • lithium cracking station • magnetic storm • neutron radiation • Nightingale Woman • phaser • phaser rifle • Benedict de Spinoza • Phineas Tarbolde • telekinesis • three-dimensional chess • yeoman • impulse pack • stardate
- The story is continued in:
- Following these events, the Enterprise docks at Vanguard in:
- Gary Mitchell returns in:
Painted artwork was created to advertise this episode, notably in TV Guide. The combination of scenes was used as the cover art for at least three versions of the Star Trek 1 novelization by James Blish. The episode itself was not novelized in that volume, but instead was included in Star Trek 8.
|TOS episode produced||Next episode:|
The Corbomite Maneuver
|TOS episode aired||Next episode:|
The Naked Time
|Star Trek 8||Next story:|
Wolf in the Fold
The Lives of Dax
Sins of the Mother
Track A: Chapter 12
Things Fall Apart
|Voyages of the |
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
(2264 to 2270)
My Brother's Keeper
Chapters 1-4, and 21