written by Jerome Bixby
STORY OUTLINE, dated March 2, 1967
report & analysis by David Eversole
NOTE: In my review, I have retained some of Bixby's quirky and unique phrases and terms (Transport Room instead of Transporter Room, etc.).
Captain Kirk beams down to the surface of Rigel Four on a routine mission. Two hours later, as he is beaming back onboard, the Enterprise is struck by a violent warpstorm. Kirk materializes, sees that the Transport Room is changed. Everything is glassier, more "flickery," the sounds of the equipment are different. He is greeted by Spock, Scotty, and a bearded Bones. Kirk knows that things are not right when Spock mentions that "the war is going badly."
Kirk quickly makes his way to his quarters which show a definite feminine touch. He showers, then, emerging nude (the typewritten word "nude" is penciled through), he is greeted by Anna, his wife in this universe.
Kirk is able to wing a conversation with his wife, then retreats to his sanctum and makes a computer inquiry. Everything is wrong, different, tilted. He learns that the war started only hours ago when hitherto friendly aliens attacked, a la Pearl Harbor. These aliens, the Tharn, under the leadership of a warlord, had secretly produced many small battleships, superior in speed and armament to the Federation. Now they threaten the very heart of the Federation.
The computer senses something is amiss in Kirk's line of questioning, and begins to question him, question his authority. Kirk is able to give it the correct clearance code--some things are the same in both universes, luckily.
Spock calls from the bridge, the situation is grim. Admiral McNulty is waiting on sub-space.
Kirk gets lost on the way to the bridge, and some crewmen are openly puzzled.
On the bridge, Admiral McNulty informs Kirk that the Federation stands no chance against the Tharn, and will surrender. Kirk is ordered to rendezvous with a part of the Tharn fleet and surrender the Enterprise to them. The Enterprise has been named by the Tharn to serve as their flagship. Kirk will ferry the Tharn ruler, Dvanyan, to Star Base #1 where he will dictate his terms. Kirk is ordered not to commit any hostile actions.
Throughout the act, Bixby makes notes that in the course of the action Kirk will continually make little goofs--the controls on his chair are different, he addresses Uhura as "Lieutenant," until he sees that she is a Lieutenant Commander in this universe.
Bones wants to examine Kirk. Kirk puts him off, fearful an exam might reveal his true status.
While searching through reports on warpstorms, Kirk experiences momentary dizziness and weakness. Bones insists he at least retire to his quarters and rest. Kirk is quite willing to do this, needs time to think. After he leaves the bridge, the crew's expressions are grim. But we don't know why.
In Kirk's quarters, Anna is tender and concerned, "makes advances." Kirk dodges her overtures, goes to his sanctum and consults the computer. He learns that it is theoretically possible for transport-beams to create a momentary interdimensional-doorway into a parallel universe.
Now Kirk knows where he is. He goes to the observation deck -- "looks out at strange Universe. Will he ever get home?" He is struck by the dizziness again, then sees dark enemy vessels, about ten in all, drawing alongside.
On the bridge, Kirk learns that the enemy's screens are standard defense against proton-cannon screens, such as the Federation used 50 years ago. Kirk idly says that one phaser barrage could wipe them out. How did the enemy manage to win?
Spock is puzzled: "Phaser, Captain?... what's a phaser?
Kirk stares at him, comprehending.
The Enterprise is escorted by the ten vessels to the main Tharn fleet. Kirk's log informs us that by using "the phaser principle," he might be able to turn the tables on the conquerors. He studies schematics of the ship's circuitry, etc., to determine if he can use materials on hand to develop a phaser. He can build a phaser! But will it work? Physical laws are tilted in this universe as well. Through this, he continues to suffer dizzy spells.
They rendezvous with the Tharn fleet, and several Tharn are beamed over in advance of their leader Dvanyan. Bixby suggests that the Tharn have an "Oriental quality about them; perhaps finely-scaled skin; can do?".
With the Tharn is a big human, bearded, intelligent, hard. He says nothing, and a Tharn does all the talking.
In the Conference Room, Kirk formally surrenders -- "marking time looking for cues, coldly wondering who the damned human traitor is."
Also beamed over with the Tharn is Anderson, a captured starship captain, sole survivor of his ship, shattered mentally. He wanders about, tragically, reliving the destruction of his ship, and is seen throughout, muttering to himself in corners.
Tharn now patrol the ship, two are always on the Bridge, several in Engineering to guard against the humans attempting to destroy the ship to take out Dvanyan.
Satisfied with their security, Dvanyan comes aboard. Kirk and a skeleton crew will take Dvanyan to Star Base #1. The rest of the crew of the Enterprise is beamed to a Tharn ship, held as prisoners. The Tharn assure Kirk the prisoners will be treated well. The Tharn are not malevolent, just determined, and are not cruel rulers unless resistance occurs.
The big bearded man says if it was left up to him, he would hold no prisoners--he would kill all of the nonessential Enterprise personnel. Kirk stares at him, controls his fury. The man grins: "You still don't recognize me, Jim... well, I'm not surprised -- it's been twenty years."
Kirk looks at him sharply.
Man: "I said I'd be back."
Kirk finally recognizes him as Sam Loder, an academy-mate who was busted for some "dastardly offense." Kirk was largely responsible for Loder's downfall. In "our" universe, Loder swore vengeance, but died in exile. But here, he is alive, a cohort of the Tharn, Dvanyan's righthand man. Loder reveals that it was he, a weapons expert, that improved the Tharn's' proto-cannon to defeat the Federation.
Kirk and Loder eventually come to blows--Kirk almost wins, but they are separated by Tharn guards. As the guards hold Kirk, Loder beats him until he is unconscious.
Loder visits Dvanyan in the ruler's quarters on the Enterprise. Dvanyan is not seen clearly, only in moody shadow. Dvanyan orders Loder to have the ship's course changed. Loder objects, and they seem to be having a recurring disagreement.
Dvanyan reveals that he must go to Purna, the birthplace of the Tharn race. "I must expose myself to the prophecy," Dvanyan declares. Loder scoffs, and Dvanyan's Tharn companions glare at him.
Kirk wakes up in his quarters, bloody, sore and aching. Anna soothes him, kisses him. They embrace passionately. "Things get hot."
Suddenly she presses a knife against his throat. In a cold voice she says, "Now we will see who, or what, you are..."
In Kirk's and Anna's cabin, Spock is performing a mindmeld on Kirk. We learn that he has told them he is from a parallel universe, but was not believed. As Bones, Sulu, Uhura and Anna look on, Spock tells them that Kirk is telling the truth.
Until now, the others have believed that Kirk was really a Tharn in disguise, which is why they have been giving him the odd looks. Anna is at first angry that this Kirk pretended to be hers, but softens, and says that he must be lonely in his universe.
Spock and the other senior officers tell Kirk that they hope to capture Dvanyan, in defiance of McNulty's orders for no hostile actions. The Tharn society is a monarchy--if the leaders falls, it's over. In this universe, Spock is more forceful and savage; closer to the Vulcans of old.
Kirk informs them of the phaser. They plot to gather materials to build one. Again, Kirk has a dizzy spell, worse than any before.
Sam Loder calls Kirk's cabin, orders a course change. Spock consults the computer, learns that this course will lead them to Purna, the Tharn's birthplace. He also learns of the prophecy -- "someday a strong ruler will come along and lead the race to great conquest; but then the ruler must return to little home planet to face a peril. More than that, the computer doesn't know."
The Enterprise and its escort of Tharn ships sail onward toward Purna. Various components are smuggled to Spock's quarters where Kirk works on the homemade phaser, one which will tie into the Engineering computers and be as powerful as a ship's phaser is back in his universe. It is a large bulky affair, the size of a breadboard.
In his quarters, Dvanyan, still not seen clearly, meditates on the prophecy. Loder is displeased, practical, tells Dvanyan that the power does not exist to destroy an entire planet. He wishes for Dvanyan to stop jeopardizing the Tharn victory due to a silly prophecy. Dvanyan replies that as a Tharn, honor and tradition compel him, he cannot proceed without risking the prophecy.
Dvanyan has Loder bring Kirk to his quarters. They play Tharn chess, though Kirk does not see his opponent. Kirk is charming, and Dvanyan admires him, but after he is gone, admits to Loder that he is indeed a dangerous man.
The ships reach Purna. Dvanyan looks on from orbit, ready to fulfill the prophecy.
The phaser is completed. Kirk has also made a few crude hand-phasers. He, Spock, Bones, Sulu and Uhura confer on strategy. The tattered, deranged Anderson is suddenly there, listening. He removes his human disguise. He is a Tharn, and he has a weapon trained on them!
Bones clobbers the Anderson/Tharn, but is shot by him. Kirk has another dizzy spell as he kneels over Bones, this time he is in agony, momentarily overwhelmed. Spock helps him up, they proceed to Engineering with the big phaser, use the hand-phasers to overpower the guards there.
In Engineering, Kirk and Scotty work to integrate the phaser into the ship's power. Spock and the others hold off the Tharn as they work. Kirk readies the phaser, and programs into the computer a firing pattern. He tries it... the phaser draws enormous power from the entire ship... but doesn't work!
In Dvanyan's quarters, he and Loder note the power drain. Loder ascertains that the drain originated in Engineering, and attempts to call the Tharn stationed there. When there is no answer, he dashes out, leaving Dvanyan philosophically waiting.
Kirk works desperately, fixes the problem in the phaser. Loder charges in. Spock allows him to approach Kirk, as Kirk has asked for Loder's blood, "to Spock, such a request is sacred; Spock vents by plugging three running Tharns, with a shocking warwhoop."
Kirk and Loder fight; Loder's weapon spins away. Kirk yells for Scotty to activate the phaser. Scotty does so--great power drain, sparks fly, then the planet below is destroyed cataclysmically. The firing program set by Kirk also targets all of the Tharn vessels, destroys them.
Dvanyan calmly watches this, then walks from his quarters.
Kirk "smears" Loder in brutal combat.
Kirk, et al., confront Dvanyan in a corridor. We finally see that he is but a youth of nineteen or so, slender, beautiful, with great dignity and bearing. Kirk is amazed that such a youth lead the Tharn to so great a conquest. Dvanyan asks for Kirk to step forward, tells him, "We are destined to meet." The weak, dizzy Kirk steps before Dvanyan.
An aide to Dvanyan quotes the old prophecy: "A ruler will appear and lead the Tharn to great conquest -- but a stranger will appear, a man with no past and no future, with an unknown power in his grasp... he will destroy the birthplace of Tharn, and turn victory to ruin."
Dvanyan then asks that Kirk kill him. Kirk declines to do so, tells him, "You will instruct your forces to retreat -- to surrender to Earth's."
Dvanyan reveals that he has already instructed his forces to do. "Now I am destroyed," he says, and slumps, dead.
The aide tells Kirk that his refusal to kill Dvanyan was a deathblow in itself -- honor demanded suicide, which a Tharn can achieve with a thought.
Kirk has the worst attack of dizziness yet, faints.
Spock and Scotty program the Transporter to reproduce the conditions it would operate under in a warpstorm, hope to return Kirk to his universe. Farewells -- Kirk presses Anna's hand warmly for a moment, then is beamed away.
He materializes back in his universe.
From the outline:
Kirk queries briskly. They were beaming him down to Alpha Seven Medical Facility for R & R. The other Kirk wacked out, he learns, immediately upon arrival (no doubt from tension, despair, shock of transposition); has been under knockout sedation.
Kirk keeps story to himself. Spock attributes his temporary flip to overwork plus effects of beaming during warpstorm -- Kirk will leave it at that.
The storm caused casualties -- many are still hospitalized aboard ship.
Kirk, anxiously: "How is Bones?..."
Spock: "A broken back... now in Regeneration Chamber." Pause: "How did you know he was critical?"
Kirk happily accepts prospects of a month's shore leave -- and the pretty nurse who comes in (you guessed it) is Anna. Kirk grins: "I wondered if we'd meet in this universe..."
She's puzzled, as Kirk starts to charm her -- and Spock looks sharply at Kirk, as logic tells him something... but what?
Not a bad outline at all, steeped in action and good old Sci Fi mystical prophecy nonsense that has served the genre well for a hundred years. Though I do prefer the final teleplay because it spreads the action more thoroughly amongst the supporting players and gives everyone a chance to shine, this ain't a bad story. One would expect no less from an established writer like Bixby.
Drexel Jerome Lewis Bixby (January 11, 1923 - April 28, 1998): Author of numerous science fiction short stories and novels who will undoubtedly be best remembered for his 1953 short story "It's a Good Life," which was adapted by Rod Serling in 1961 as an episode of The Twilight Zone (the story was remade for the 1984 film Twilight Zone: The Movie, and served as the inspiration for the 2003 sequel episode of The Twilight Zone (UPN version), entitled "It's Still A Good Life"). His film and television career spanned 1958-2007. Among his credits are the film It! The Terror From Beyond Space, an episode of Men Into Space, and the story for the film Fantastic Voyage. The 2007 film The Man from Earth was written by Bixby on his deathbed. For Star Trek, he wrote "Mirror, Mirror," "By Any Other Name" (with D. C. Fontana), "Day of The Dove" and "Requiem For Methuselah."
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