is approaching Eminiar 7 with a passenger on board: Ambassador fox, who is under orders to establish a treaty port in the sector. Eminiar has space flight and a neighboring planet, but has had no contact with the United Federation. The ship sent to contact the planet fifty years ago disappeared without a trace. The Enterprise
enters orbit but is warned off. Fox orders them to continue but Kirk refuses to take the ambassador down until he’s determined it’s safe.
By disregarding code 710,
you might involve us in an interplanetary war.
I'm quite prepared to take that risk.
You are. I'm thinking about this ship, my crew.
I have my orders, Captain, and now you have yours.
Kirk, Spock, and a small team transport down to the planet at a central facility and are greeted by a woman, Mea 3. She tells them they’re in danger and escorts them to the Eminiar High Council. The head of the Council, Anan 7, tells them that the Enterprise
has arrived in the middle of a war with their neighbor Vendikar that has been going on for 500 years. He repeats his warning to leave but they’re interrupted with news of an attack from the war room next door. Despite Anan’s claims that the city was hit, Spock confirms there are no indications of attack and Scotty reports nothing from orbit. Anan tells them that the Enterprise
has taken a direct hit and Spock finally realizes that the war is waged by computer. Anan explains that Eminiar and Vendikar agreed to eliminate the horrors of war by simulating attacks on a computer. The fatalities, however, are very real: those determined as “dead” must go to disintegration chambers and allow themselves to be killed.
Then the attack by Vendikar was theoretical.
Oh, no. Quite real. An attack is mathematically launched. I lost my wife in the last attack. Our civilization lives. The
people die, but our culture goes on.
Anan confirms that the Enterprise
was hit and its crew logged as fatalities. When Kirk not surprisingly refuses to tell his crew to beam down for disintegration, Anan has a security team take them hostage to force the Enterprise
crew to start beaming down within 24 hours.
If possible, we shall spare your ship, Captain, but its passengers and crew are already dead.
The landing party is confined in comfortable quarters and Mea arrives to try and persuade them to give in, saying that she herself is a fatality and will be reporting in for her scheduled “death.” Kirk isn’t convinced.
A whole civilization would be destroyed. Surely you can see that ours is a better way.
No, I don't see that at all.
Back on the ship, Scotty gives orders from Kirk saying that the planet is safe and they should start beaming down parties for shore leave. Suspicious, Scotty does a voiceprint check and confirms “Kirk” is really Anan using a voice-disguiser.
Well, they've got them, Doctor, and now they're trying to get us.
Kirk has Spock use his telepathic abilities to make the guard outside anxious enough to come in and check on them. They knock him out, take his weapons and uniform, and go out to find more weapons. They find the disintegration chamber where Mea is going to die. They stop her and the others in line then destroy the machine and head off on another raid taking Mea with them. Anan mobilizes his security forces then opens fire on the Enterprise
, but Scotty has the shields up and the weapons are unable to penetrate the screens. Scotty prepares to return fire but Fox overrides him.
Sir, there's a multilegged creature crawling on your shoulder.
Kirk and the others return to their confinement chamber, figuring that’s the last place anyone will look for them. He tries to get through to Mea but she insists that no one can interfere in their war. Meanwhile, Fox contacts Anan who says that the attack was an error and invites the ambassador down for a meeting. Fox is happy that he’s gotten through, but Scotty refuses to drop the shields regardless of Fox’s authority.
Well, Scotty, now you've done it.
Aye. The haggis is in the fire for sure, but I'll not lower my defenses on the word of that mealy mouthed gentleman
down below, not until I know what happened to the captain.
Kirk sneaks into Anan’s chambers and confronts him with a stolen disruptor. The Eminiar leader is unimpressed and secretly signals his security men. He then confronts Kirk, accusing the captain of being a barbarian. Kirk is unimpressed and demands to know where his communicators are. They go outside and Kirk ends up fighting the guards, but is defeated.
A killer first, a builder second. A hunter, a warrior, and--let's be honest--
a murderer. That is our
joint heritage, is it not?
We're less cold-blooded about it than you are.
Fox manages to beam down to the planet where he is taken into custody and taken to a disintegration chamber. Spock and the others rescue him and the ambassador is convinced to help them, and that he knows where Kirk is.
I've never been a soldier, Mr. Spock, but I learn very quickly.
In the Council chamber, Anan and the other councilmen are trying to get through to Kirk. Anan warns that if people don’t die on schedule, it will abrogate the treaty with Vendikar and it will launch a real attack. Anan contacts the Enterprise
and tries to use Kirk as a hostage, but Kirk shouts out to Scotty to go with General Order 24. After Anan cuts him off, Kirk reveals that General Order 24 means complete sterilization of the planet within two hours. The captain manages to grab a gun just as Spock, Fox, and the others arrive. Kirk decides to end the war once and for all by going into the war room and sabotaging the master computer in contact with its counterpart on Vendikar. Anan is shocked at his barbarity but Kirk notes that they are all barbarians and can rise above it if they try. He convinces Anan to contact his counterpart on Vendikar and actually try to end the war, rather than accept “peaceful” fatalities. Anan reluctantly agrees. Fox helps negotiate a peace between the two planets as the Enterprise
We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit
that we're killers, but we won't kill today. That's all it takes--
knowing that we won't kill today.