A TASTE OF ARMAGEDDON
written by Robert Hamner
STORY OUTLINE, September 12, 1966
report & analysis by David Eversole
The Enterprise is badly damaged by a meteor storm and heads for star cluster N.R.G.C. 381, hoping to find the necessary materials to repair the ship. The system has been mapped by star telescopes and it is likely that several planets in this galaxy are well advanced beyond Earth. Surely, they can find the resources needed.
(Okay, Hamner has no idea what a galaxy actually is—he uses “galaxy” throughout instead of “solar system.” But to be fair, a number of the writers for the series whose primary genre was not science fiction made the same mistake in their story outlines.)
As they approach the cluster, a suitable planet with lush valleys and advanced cities is spotted. Kirk radios for permission to approach. Permission is refused, not by any human beings or even human-like creatures, but by a computer in the planet’s communications center. When Kirk refuses to take “no” for an answer, the computer switches the call to a council room where Anan-872, the leader of the council, again refuses permission for the Enterprise to approach.
Kirk reiterates that the repairs are desperately needed and he is coming anyway. Anan-872 warns Kirk that any further approach or landing will be at his own risk.
Kirk and a work crew beam down to a lush plain just outside the glass-domed capital city, where they are met by two inhabitants of the city. Sar-627 and Mea-348 are mid-twenties, handsome and gorgeous. They have been assigned to help the Enterprise crewmen gather the repair material needed. Anan (to save typing, I’m mostly going to refer to the Eminians sans their three-digit name extensions) has changed his mind and will help speed the Enterprise on its way. Kirk asks to meet with Anan, a request grudgingly granted as he is presently in a council of war.
Sar will help the work crew gather repair materials while Mea escorts Kirk back to the city for the meeting. They stop for lunch (Mea produces the food from a small transmitter) on the way. Kirk seems quite smitten with her. She tells him their world is called Emniar-17. Their galaxy is at least half a million years older than the Earth’s galaxy and she surmises they are that much in advance of Earth. They have conquered their environment, and computers and robots do all the work. When Kirk points out that Emniar-17 isn’t that more advanced since they still have wars, Mea tells him that they have “advanced their conflicts to the very epitome of functional warfare and scientific killing.” When Kirk asks what she means, she tells him that it is of no concern to him. Hopefully by the time their enemies on the planet Emniar-43 attack again, Kirk and the Enterprise will be long gone.
Kirk meets Anan in the war council room. The Eminian (Hamner spells the planet as E-M-N-I-A-R, but an inhabitant he calls an E-M-I-N-I-A-N) again warns Kirk that he is in danger as Emniar-43 will not respect the neutrality of the Enterprise. The war has been going on for one thousand, three hundred and twenty-two years. Kirk is stunned. He has seen no evidence, no destruction, of a war. Anan tells him they have done away with the destruction of war. Only people are killed now.
Before Kirk can ask how this is possible, warning lights flash. Emniar-43 is attacking. A wall of the council room slides aside, revealing a war room. The progress of the attack is shown on a glass wall chart. The attack is repulsed and the war computers go silent, save for one which clicks and whirs and ejects a small disc onto Anan’s desk. He looks at it and grimly informs everyone that thousands of people in their city, including several people in this very room, have been killed in the attack. Kirk is left puzzled as not a single person has even a hair out of place.
Later that night Kirk meets Mea in a romantic setting and kisses her. He tells her that he is quite taken with her. Mea admits she feels the same and says that things would have been different for them if only they had had more time. They might have even fallen in love. When Kirks asks what she means, Mea calmly tells him that she was killed in the attack earlier that day.
The next day, aboard the Enterprise, Kirk is surprised to find that Spock doesn’t find the Eminian method of warfare as abhorrent as he does. Why not eliminate the mess of actual warfare and get straight to the killing? is Spock’s response. Kirk leaves him, beams back down to the planet to check up on the status of the repairs. Spock knows that Kirk is really going back down to see Mea.
As Kirk walks down a street, he sees kiosks on either side and Eminian “casualties” from the day before lined up to go inside to be disintegrated. He finds Mea and she goes into a brief history of the war. She very much believes in her system. But since she has a few hours before her deadline to be disintegrated she agrees to spend them with Kirk.
They go to Sar’s office so Mea can say her goodbyes to him. Kirk realizes that Mea and Sar had been childhood sweethearts and Sar admits his jealousy of the attention she has paid Kirk, but he puts that aside now to enjoy the last hours with her. Kirk tells them Mea doesn’t have to die. He can take her to the Enterprise with him. Both of them then give him their patented patriotic speeches—our system is best, we cannot disobey. To do so would be to invite actual destructive war with Emniar-43.
Kirk pulls Sar aside and gives him a rousing speech—we both love Mea, we must act to keep her alive. Sar finally agrees.
Aboard the Enterprise, Kirk goes over his plan with Spock. Once the repairs are completed, Mea will be beamed aboard and they will make a run for open space.
The repairs are complete. Kirk and Mea beam aboard. Kirk gives orders for a test run. But the Enterprise will not budge. The ship is held in the grip of a powerful magnetic ray from the planet below.
Kirk beams down and confronts Anan. Why is his ship being held? Anan sadly informs him that he should have listened and stayed in outer space. There has been another attack by Emniar-43. The Enterprise and its crew have been declared casualties. They have 24 hours to report to disintegration chambers.
Kirk makes sure Mea is safe aboard the Enterprise (in his quarters), then beams down to meet with Sar. They approach several “casualties” of the second attack--Eminians, who might be willing to disregard their orders to report to anti-matter machines for disintegration.
They are stopped by Tol-451, chief military aide to the planet’s ruling council. Mea’s failure to report for disintegration has been noted, and the council fears her failure to show up will soon be detected by the enemy computers on Emniar-43. Kirk and Sar finally convince him they do not know where she is and they are allowed to go on their way.
They arrange a meeting with those Sar thinks will side with them for later in the afternoon. Kirk beams back to the Enterprise to check up on Mea, and finds her and Spock in the starship’s library. With Spock’s help, she has been reading in the memory banks about human beings and their concepts of free will and personal choice. She still finds the refusal to report for disintegration to be repugnant, but she is excited about this new “alien” way of life as practiced in the Earth’s galaxy. Kirk insists she beam back down with him and attend the meeting so she can tell the others of this startling new way of thinking--that individuals, not machines, should have the final say in how they live their lives.
The meeting is held in a dynamo room beneath the planet’s surface--Hamner likens it to early Christian gatherings in Rome’s catacombs. Kirk addresses the meeting, arguing that they must resist the computer’s rulings. They all should have a say in whether they will die or not. One man is not sold, and counters that the system was set up to ensure that all that the two planets built, all that they achieved, would not be lost to the horrors and destruction of actual warfare.
Kirk agrees that the system was originally put into place as a humanitarian answer to the destruction of warfare, but that it is inherently evil because it makes war “too neat, too easy, too painless.” Sentient beings need the horrors of real warfare to dissuade them from actually making more war. Mea joins Kirk, and tells of what she has learned from her reading on the Enterprise. They slowly sway the room to their point of view.
Sar interrupts. Mea’s allotted time to report to be disintegrated has elapsed and Emniar-43 has learned of her failure to report. They have threatened to launch an actual attack if Mea is not found and forced into an anti-matter booth. Anan has issued a planet-wide emergency and has given this order: Find Mea-348 and drag her to the nearest anti-matter booth.
With all of the “casualties” now on his side, Sar argues their only hope is to free the Enterprise. The Enterprise will leave and be safely away before Emniar-43 launches an actual attack. He reasons that Emniar-17 will retaliate and the two planets will see the cost of actual warfare and decide to seek a truce.
Leaving Mea safely hidden, Kirk, Sar, and the other dissidents leave their hiding place and commence a series of commando raids which bring them closer and close to the war room. Once there, they blast apart the computers holding the Enterprise in a magnetic ray. Kirk contacts Spock who confirms that the Enterprise is free.
Kirk and Sar take to the streets to preach their message to the populace but come up short as they see that Tol-451 has found Mea and is dragging her to an anti-matter booth. A battle ensues to free her, but not in time. Tol-451 forces Mea into the booth and she is disintegrated.
With her loss, Kirk realizes that his duty is to the Enterprise. He must return to his world. He offers to take Sar with him, but is turned down.
FROM THE OUTLINE:
Sar shakes his head ‘no’. With all its imperfections the Eminian galaxy is his world, his home. He’ll remain and pass on to others the thought provoking concepts of man controlling his own destiny that Kirk has put into his mind. They warmly shake hands and Kirk transports back to the Enterprise with at least one happy thought, that he’s left an effective underground leader on Emniar-17 in the person of Sar-627. At least with the beginnings of the underground movement there’s the hope that eventually the human condition will prevail in the Eminian galaxy.
Well, so much for the Prime Directive. Even in the final aired episode, it is never mentioned. But to be fair this concept was only forming at this early stage in Star Trek’s first season, and Kirk often skirted the law, bluffed his way around it, but not to the extent of leading an armed revolt to ostensibly upset an alien culture’s way of life in order to save a woman he has fallen for in almost record time.
Hamner wrote three other drafts of the story outline (dated September 23, 26, and 28, 1966) but changed the story relatively little. Budget consciousness (no doubt from the notes of wise penny-pinching Associate Producer Robert H. Justman) had him transfer all the street scenes into corridors, etc. He also had Mea-348 saved at the last minute in later drafts to join Sar-627 in leading the Eminian underground. He is given co-teleplay credit with Gene L. Coon in the final, far superior, script which went before the cameras.
ROBERT HAMNER (1928-1996): Writer, executive story consultant and producer whose television writing career lasted from 1960 to 1992. Television shows that boasted scripts from Hamner include: Mission: Impossible (original and short-lived 1988 revival, Hawaii Five-0, Adam-12, Emergency, McCloud, The Rockford Files, The Rookies, MacGyver and Renegade. He won the prestigious Peabody award for his 1979 telefilm When Hell Was In Session, and created the series S.W.A.T. Allan Asherman's excellent The Star Trek Compendium notes that the first draft of this script was written by Robert Hamner and Steven W. Carabatsos (then story editor). For whatever reason, Carabatsos was neither given a final script story credit, nor an on-air story credit.