A resource of The Worlds of
David Darling |
Star Trek Original series, season 1, episode 22
En route to Star Base 12, the Enterprise picks up a Morse code signal from an old Earth ship. The spacecraft turns out to be a DY100 class vessel, powered by nuclear engines and intended for interplanetary journeys only. Through the meteor pitting of its hull can be made out the name – the SS Botany Bay – a ship launched from Earth in the 1990s during the era of the last global conflict, known as the Eugenics Wars. Scanners detect the faint, incredibly slow heart beats of several dozen crew members.
A boarding party, which includes Kirk, McCoy, Scott, and the Enterprise's normally underemployed historian, Lieutenant McGivers, beam across to the Botany Bay to investigate. They find the crew in suspended animation. McGiver's identifies the vessel as a sleeper ship, necessary for long-duration voyages until fast ships became available in 2018.
The arrival of the boarding party triggers the resuscitation of the leader, later revealed to be Khan Noonien Singh. McGivers immediately falls under his spell. To Kirk, Khan whispers, "How long?" and is told that two centuries have passed. Of a total complement of 84 (including 30 women), all but 12 of Khan's people have survived.
The Enterprise resumes its course for Star Base 12 with the Botany Bay in tow. Khan regains consciousness in the Enterprise's sick back, takes an old surgical knife, and holds it to McCoy's throat. McCoy stays outwardly calm and informs Khan: "It would be most effective if you cut the carotid artery just under the left ear." Khan admires McCoy's bravery, relinquishes the knife, and asks to see Kirk. He requests technical manuals to read.
Meanwhile, Khan's identity begins to emerge from computer records. In 1993 a group of young "supermen" seized power on Earth. Khan turns out to be the last of these tyrants to be overthrown. He and his crew are genetically-engineered humans with superior mental and physical powers.
Khan beguiles McGivers and reveals his intention to seize the Enterprise. McGivers, now totally in his power, reluctantly agrees to help him. Although put under guard, Khan escapes and with McGivers' help transports the rest of his crew aboard the Enterprise. Speedily he takes control of the ship and compels the starship's officers to watch as Kirk is slowly deprived of air in the decompression chamber. McGivers, realizing Khan's cruelty, excuses herself and sets Kirk free. Khan's people are overcome, though Khan himself escapes to Engineering. There he and Kirk fight it out. Khan is vastly stronger put Kirk manages to subdue him with a rod he pulls from a control panel.
Faced with the problem of what to do with Khan and his crew, Kirk decides to drop all charges against them and to leave them on the fifth planet of the Ceti Alpha star system, a harsh, uninhabited place. "Can you tame a world," asks Kirk. "Have you read Milton, Captain?" replies Khan, an allusion to Lucifer's statement "It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven."
Khan returns in the second movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
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© David Darling