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The Alternative Factor
Star Trek Original series, season 1, episode 27

Originally aired Mar. 30, 1967
Writers Don Ingalls
Director Gerd Oswald
Guest cast Hal Baylor (Policeman)
Richard Derr (Barstow)
Janet MacLachlan (Charlene Masters)
Eddie Paskey (Leslie)
Christopher Patrick (Transporter Technician)
Arch Whiting (Engineer Assistant)
Lazarus's ship
Lazarus's ship
Lazarus fights Lazarus
Lazarus fights Lazarus
Lazarus in the anti-universe
Lazarus in the anti-universe
Stardate: 3087.6

Plot summary

While carrying out routine scanning from orbit of an arid, seemingly lifeless planet, the Enterprise is rocked by two extraordinary disturbances. Mr. Spock reports that, during these intervals, "everything within range of our instruments seemed on the verge of winking out." The planet's gravity fell to zero and the magnetic field of the entire planetary system disappeared. Kirk describes it as "non-existence".

Spock now reports a life form is registering on the planet's surface – apparently human, its appearance coincidental with the cosmic winking out. Kirk orders an armed party, including himself and Spock, to beam down to the location of the newcomer. They discover a small ship and an injured man, Lazarus, who claims to have been attacked by an "evil thing". Back on the Enterprise, Kirk is told that the mysterious phenomenon has drained the Enterprise's dilithium crystals, which must be re-energized to prevent the ship's orbit from decaying.

A message comes in from Starfleet Command, code factor 1 – "invasion status". Kirk is told by the Starfleet commodore that the phenomenon was fantastically widespread "occurring in every quadrant of the Galaxy and far beyond", and included timewarp distortions. All the effects were centered on the area in which the Enterprise is patrolling. The commodore needs Kirk to find out if the phenomenon is natural origin or "mechanically created". Kirk expresses his belief that it could be "a prelude to invasion".

Kirk visits Lazarus who, thanks to Dr. McCoy's attention in sickbay, has now recovered. Lazarus tells Kirk that he has chased the evil thing, which he describes as being humanoid out the outside but a hideous murdering monster on the inside, across the universe. He says the "thing" wiped out his civilization and blames it for the powerful effects that rocked the Enterprise. In fact, it turns out, there are two Lazaruses and the one now talking is the evil one. He tries to persuade Kirk to join him in his "holy cause" of destroying his nemesis. Kirk beams down to the planet with Lazarus and joins Spock who is checking out the miniature ship. Another cosmic winking out occurs during which the two Lazaruses fight. Lazarus returns and insists that he will kill his adversary.

Back on the Enterprise, Kirk and Spock question whether Lazarus's story is true. Could his enemy cause such titanic effects? Spock asserts that the phenomenon coincides with the times Lazarus has his confrontations. McCoy summons Kirk to sickbay and tells him that the deep cut on Lazarus's forehead, which he treated earlier, has vanished.

The insane Lazarus steals some dilithium crystals. Kirk catches him but Lazarus claims it was the work of his enemy. Meanwhile, Spock deduces that a source of radiation he has detected on the planet is coming from a parallel, anti-universe. Kirk now realizes that there two Lazaruses and that if they meet they could destroy both this universe and the anti-universe.

Lazarus steals more crystals and Kirk follows him to the planet's surface. Kirk attacks him and is transported to the other universe. There the same Lazarus tells Kirk to lead the insane Lazarus to the rip in space-time where they can be held together in perpetuity to keep the universes safe. Kirk forces the evil Lazarus into the rip and destroys the timeship, condemning the two Lazaruses to battle each other forever.

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