The Alternative Factor - Recap
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The Enterprise is on a routine patrol exploring a dead Class M world when suddenly the universe “blinks” around them, twice. Spock is at a loss to explain the experience but says it was as if the universe ceased to exist for a split second. They then detect a lifeform on the dead planet below and Kirk takes down a security team. They find a small alien ship and then spot a beard who rants about a Beast that is trying to kill him and destroy everyone. He falls down a cliff face and Kirk has him beamed up to the ship for treatment.
Back aboard, Lt. Charlene Masters from Engineering reports that the event drained the ship’s dilithium crystals and they are slowly recharging. Commodore Barstow of Starfleet then contact Kirk and tells him that the non-existence event was felt throughout known space, and Starfleet considers it the prelude to an invasion. They order the Enterprise to investigate the planet alone and act as bait.
Kirk tries to interrogate the newcomer, who identifies himself as Lazarus. Lazarus rants and raves about the Beast that he has chased across the universe and destroyed his home planet. Kirk and Spock take him down to the planet but Spock can’t detect any other lifeforms. Suddenly the non-existence event occurs again and Lazarus runs off. However, he seems to be trapped in some kind of extra-dimensional space where he encounters the Beast. He is eventually returned back to the planet with an abrasion on his right temple.
Back on the Enterprise, McCoy bandages Lazarus’ head wound but a few minutes later he reports to Kirk that the wound has disappeared. they go to find Lazarus, who has calmly strolled over to the mess hall and overheard Masters talking about the dilithium. He goes outside with no bandage, then sways and seems to shimmer. The bandage is back, which astonishes McCoy when they find him a minute later.
Spock has been doing research and located a previously undetected form of radiation. He believes it is being emitted through a “rip” in the universe and they can pinpoint it using the dilithium crystals. Lazarus hears this and insists they can use the dilithium to kill the Beast once and for all. Kirk refuses and Lazarus leaves the bridge, only to end up briefly engulfed in the odd effect. The bandage disappears and now cool and collected, he goes to Engineering and knocks out Masters and her assistant, then steals two dilithium crystals.
Kirk gets word of the theft and confronts Lazarus, who has the head wound again. Lazarus claims the Beast stole the dilithium, having a humanoid form. Kirk beams down to the planet to search for the dilithium there, taking Lazarus along. Spock can’t detect the radiation once on the planet so they search place. The non-existence event hit again and Lazarus runs off. However, when he knocks a rock over he calls to Kirk, saving his life, then falls himself.
Back in Sickbay, Kirk thanks Lazarus for the rescue but reveals that Lazarus was lying and there is no planet where he provided the coordinates. Lazarus finally explains that he is a time traveler from the distant past and the planet they’re orbiting is his devastated homeworld. The Beast fled back into time to the present but now Lazarus can use the dilithium to destroy it. Kirk refuses again, but after he leaves Lazarus shimmers yet again and seems to alternate between bandaged and unbandaged.
Spock has run further tests and determined that the sensors can’t identify the radiation. Since they can identify any known form of energy, the radiation must be from a parallel dimension. He concludes that the parallel universe must be an anti-matter universe to their matter universe. Equally, there must be two of Lazarus: however, if two identical particles meet, the result would be complete annihilation of themselves and the universe they were in.
The original wounded Lazarus-A leaves Sickbay and sets a fire, then slips in and steals two more crystals and transports down to the planet. Kirk goes after him while Spock mobilizes a security team. A maniacal Lazarus is at his ship inserting the dilithium crystals into the doorway. When Kirk arrives, he leaps through the doorway… and disappears.
Kirk finds himself on a slightly different, darker version of the planet, and finds Lazarus-B (without the bandage) working on his own ship. Lazarus-B explains that he stole the crystals originally to keep Lazarus-A from coming through the rip. Lazarus-B is aware of the annihilation that would result if they met, but says that Lazarus-A found out about his counterpart’s existence and went insane, and plans to kill him no matter what cost. Lazarus-B wants Kirk to toss Lazarus-A into the portal at the right moment, when Lazarus-B is ready for him in the corridor between universes.. The anti-matter Lazarus plans to meet Lazarus-A in the corridor and hold him there for eternity.
Kirk reluctantly agrees and Lazarus-B sends him back before Lazarus-A’s doorway can recharge after Kirk’s transit. Kirk arrives and throws Lazarus-A into the portal. They then beam up to the Enterprise and destroy Lazarus’ ship, destroying any possibility of his meeting is other self on either side of the rip. The Enterprise departs as Kirk wonders at the cost they’ve paid for the safety of the universe.