TOS: The Captain’s Oath Annotations

This document explains the continuity references, allusions, in-jokes, and scientific concepts contained in Star Trek: The Original Series — The Captain’s Oath (TCO).   I assume that the reader is familiar with the basic characters and background of the Trek universe.  Readers seeking further information on references to past Trek episodes or movies are advised to consult the Memory Alpha Star Trek wiki.  Information about Star Trek novels can be found at the Memory Beta wiki.

Be aware that this document contains spoilers for the whole of TCO and for numerous episodes, films, and novels from all Trek series, particularly TOS.  I would strongly recommend not reading it until one has completed the novel, since many of the notes contain spoilers for things not revealed until later scenes or chapters.

Episode and book titles are TOS unless otherwise indicated.  Episode and short-story titles are in quotes, while film and book titles are italicized.


  • ENT: Enterprise
  • TOS: The Original Series
  • TAS: The Animated Series
  • TMP: Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • TNG: The Next Generation
  • DS9: Deep Space Nine
  • VGR: Voyager
  • DSC: Discovery
  • DTI: Department of Temporal Investigations
  • SCE: Starfleet Corps of Engineers

Chapter Annotations


The Starfleet Oath of Service used here is verbatim from Star Trek: Enterprise – Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference; see that book’s annotations for its derivation.



Page 1

Some versions of Star Trek chronology put Kirk’s first mission in command of the Enterprise in 2264. While the Pocket novel continuity is a bit ambiguous about whether it fell in late 2264 or early 2265, I chose to go with 2265 in keeping with my own model of Trek chronology, and to more clearly differentiate the frame storyline from the later flashback chapters set in 2264.


John Masefield’s “Sea-Fever” was quoted by Kirk in both “The Ultimate Computer” and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. I considered titling this novel A Star to Steer Her By, but my editor didn’t care for it, so I snuck it in as the opening line instead.

Kirk’s musing about the Enterprise as “Pegasus in flight” is nearly a direct quote from my debut novel, Star Trek: Ex Machina, depicting the Enterprise’s first mission after Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Due to the parallels, I thought it was an appropriate callback.


The phrasing of the change of command ceremony is from TNG: “Chain of Command, Part 1.” Admiral Robert Comsol was referenced in onscreen text and dialogue in “The Menagerie, Part 1” and was previously referenced in DTI: Forgotten History.


The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry (Ballantine, 1968) says on pp. 215-16 that “Kirk rose very rapidly through the ranks and received his first command (the equivalent of a destroyer-class spaceship) while still quite young.” It adds that Kirk “was the youngest Academy graduate ever to have been assigned as a Starship Command Captain.” The book uses “Starship” to reference the Enterprise specifically, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that he was the youngest for both command postings.


Lt. Alden (Lloyd Haynes), the communications officer from “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” has been given various first names in tie-in literature. “Philip” is from Myriad Universes: A Less Perfect Union by William Leisner. Sarah Lopez is an original character, added to up the diversity of the bridge crew a bit. Uhura’s cross-training at navigation was established in “The Naked Time.”

Mr. Scott’s absence due to an emergency at Starbase 10 is a reference to the events of SCE: Foundations by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore. Mitchell’s leave on Wrigley’s is a loose homage to the version of Kirk’s first Enterprise mission in DC Comics’s Star Trek Vol. 1 Annual #1, “All Those Years Ago…” by Mike W. Barr, David Ross, & Bob Smith. Dr. Piper’s postponed retirement was established in Mere Anarchy Book 1: Things Fall Apart, also by Ward & Dilmore.

The in-ship intercom channel should be called “intracraft” rather than “intercraft,” but the line “address intercraft” was used by Pike, Kirk, and Spock in both pilots, so it’s authentic to the period.

Draxis II is another reference to DC Annual #1.


The “overlapping comm chatter” is meant to evoke the background audio track of department status reports that was featured in the second pilot and often recycled in later bridge scenes. An audio clip can be heard here:×03/wherenoman06.mp3


The dialogue between McCoy and Kirk is loosely based on the flashbacks in A Choice of Catastrophes by Michael Schuster and Steve Mollmann; McCoy’s “tonsils” line and Kirk’s “Bones—I need you” are direct quotes from p. 240 of that book, though in reverse order. The medical relief program is my interpretation of McCoy’s backstory from “Friday’s Child,” which doesn’t exactly line up with A Choice of Catastrophes. Since that book merely summarized large swaths of McCoy’s life in brief overview passages, I felt there was room to finesse the specifics while retaining the broad strokes.


Chapter One


I decided to revive the practice I employed in Ex Machina of opening every chapter with an in-universe quotation – something I may have intended at the time to do regularly but never got around to repeating until now. Again, the parallels between the two books made it feel appropriate.

The prehistoric backstory for Vega and the character of Zhi Nu Palmer are from Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures and Tower of Babel respectively. The debris disk around Vega is real, but my explanation for it is fictional, of course.

Orpheus City is named for the lyre of Orpheus, the namesake of the constellation Lyra in which Vega is found. While Eagle’s Landing may sound like a reference to the Apollo 11 mission, it’s actually a nod to the Arabic phrase from which the name Vega is derived, an-nasr al-wāqi (“the falling/landing eagle”). I assume Eagle’s Landing was built around the landing site of the first human expedition to Vega.


“Sacagawea” is properly pronounced “sah-kag-ah-wee-ah,” not “sack-ah-juh-wee-ah” as is often presumed. The name Sacajawea has appeared in Star Trek as the name of a shuttlecraft, and my Sacagawea is based on one of the Hermes-class scouts in Franz Joseph Schnaubelt’s Star Fleet Technical Manual, which also used the Sacajawea spelling. Indeed, in Ex Machina (p. 75) I referenced a ship called the Sacajawea as a former posting of engineer Cleary from TMP, a fact I’d forgotten when I chose the name for Kirk’s ship here. However, I’ve chosen this time to follow the more accurate, currently accepted version of the name’s spelling and pronunciation. (Despite the spelling change, it’s likely that the ship referred to in ExM is the same one Kirk commanded, but Cleary’s time aboard it may have been after Kirk’s.)

I hope the nonlinear presentation of the first few chapters, with three interspersed timelines, isn’t confusing to the reader. It’s a bit confusing to me, even though I initially wrote the scenes in chronological order before assembling them this way. My original plan was to do all the flashbacks in linear order, but editor Margaret Clark thought it would build more suspense if I showed the aftermath of the crippling of the Sacagawea first and only later revealed its cause.


While I hadn’t planned it this way, I’m pleased that my version of the origin of the nickname “Bones” represents the moment when Kirk and McCoy started to become friends, giving it a deeper significance. “Sawbones” is an Old West term for a doctor, something that would’ve been well-understood to 1960s TV audiences when Westerns dominated the airwaves, but that requires more explanation for modern audiences. The 2009 film wisely avoided the issue by coming up with an alternative explanation, but I think I managed to find a way to allude efficiently to the Western origins of the term. (The two explanations are easily compatible, though; in the Kelvin Timeline version, Kirk’s familiarity with the Western term could be why he chose to latch onto McCoy’s throwaway line about bones, feeling it was fitting for a doctor.)


Kirk’s bout of Vegan choriomeningitis was established in “The Mark of Gideon.” Putting an advanced Starfleet hospital on Vega is my attempt to explain why Pike’s Enterprise in “The Cage” was traveling to Vega for medical treatment for its wounded crew even though Earth or another planet of the Rigel system would’ve been closer. The two dovetailed neatly as a way to explain how Kirk was exposed to such a rare disease. The symptoms were established in the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual by Eileen Palestine and Geoffrey Mandel.


Qixi is a Chinese festival celebrating a myth associated with the star Vega. Zhi Nu (see p. 13) is the character identified with Vega in that myth.


Though I don’t come out and say it, Rhenas Sherev is meant to be a descendant of Thanien ch’Revash, Captain T’Pol’s first officer from Rise of the Federation (whose surname was established as being Cherev in his native language; presumably Sherev’s surname would be sh’Revash if she conformed to the Imperial naming convention used in the novels, with the prefix adjusted for her gender).


A Choice of Futures referred to the Vega cataclysm occurring “centuries earlier,” but on further investigation of the life expectancy of stellar debris disks, I decided it made more sense to make it somewhat more ancient.


Kirk’s Farragut backstory was established in “Obsession.”


The Ushaan duel was established canonically in ENT: “United,” though it was derived from the 1999 Last Unicorn Games sourcebook The Andorians: Among the Clans.


Sherev is, of course, thinking of Montgomery Scott, whose posting on Vega and distaste for the food were established in SCE: What’s Past: Book Two—The Future Begins by Steve Mollmann & Michael Schuster. I wanted to acknowledge Scott’s history with Vega in some way, but my editor cautioned against too many cameos of figures from Kirk’s future life, so I made the reference indirect.


Chapter Two


The Marcus quote is from The Wrath of Khan, of course.

Kirk’s time on the Republic and Farragut were established in “Court Martial” and “Obsession.” His time on the Constitution is a nod to Michael Jan Friedman’s My Brother’s Keeper trilogy, telling an alternate version of Kirk’s early career, though I believe later books have also referenced it. Kirk’s tenure as first officer of the Eagle was established in DC’s Star Trek Vol. 2 #74, “Star-Crossed Part 2: Loved Not Wisely…” by Howard Weinstein, Rachel Ketchum, & Mark Heike. The Captain’s Oath is compatible with “Star-Crossed Part 2” in every respect except the name and class of Kirk’s first command, which in the comic was the Miranda-class U.S.S Oxford. My original plan was for Kirk to command the Oxford during the Starbase 24 chapters and then transfer to the Sacagawea for the rest, for the sake of consistency with the comic, and because it seemed reasonable to me that the more wide-ranging experience he had, the more plausible it was that he would be chosen for command of one of Starfleet’s premier Constitution-class ships. The Making of Star Trek did not explicitly rule out additional commands between his first “destroyer-equivalent” ship and the Enterprise. But CBS preferred a narrower reading of TMoST, with Kirk having only one command pre-Enterprise. In retrospect, it does work better for him to start out with the Sacagawea rather than beginning with a larger Miranda-class ship and then moving to a smaller one.


Khorasani’s bionic arm is an implicit nod to the bionic enhancements seen on various personnel in Star Trek: Discovery, notably Lt. Kayla Detmer and the cyborg Airiam. TOS did not have the budget to show such augmentations, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t exist at the time. Indeed, the next page establishes that it’s typical to sheathe such prosthetics in synthetic skin, so there could’ve been characters in TOS who had bionic limbs without us knowing it.


Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures established that Xarantine traders were dealing in Orion slave women in the 22nd century, so it’s no surprise there are still Xarantines involved in the trade a century later.


“Where No Man Has Gone Before” established that Kirk asked for Gary Mitchell as part of his crew on his first command.


The Moonbeam Club is a reference to the “Captain James T. Kirk: Psycho-File” featurette in Gold Key Comics’ 1976 Star Trek: The Enterprise Logs, Volume 1, written anonymously and illustrated by Alden McWilliams. It’s pretty much the only previous depiction of Kirk’s relationship with the future Janet Wallace, so I thought it would be fun to homage it.

Janet’s maiden name was never established in “The Deadly Years,” and the “Psycho-File” erroneously called her Janet Wallace before her marriage (which is not impossible, but would be quite a coincidence). “Miller” is an homage to the role Janet’s portrayer, Sarah Marshall, played in The Twilight Zone: “Little Girl Lost” by Richard Matheson. Janet’s mention of a 4-dimensional domain is also a wink to that episode.

Yes, there really are mathematical models for 4-dimensional protein folding, which I was surprised to discover when I went Googling for information on the subject. Although as Janet says, they’re mathematical conveniences rather than literal extra spatial dimensions. In mathematics, “dimensions” often refer to degrees of freedom or variables in an equation, treated as dimensions so they can be plotted on axes of a graph and computed in relation to each other. I didn’t investigate in depth, but I imagine the utility of 4-dimensional models of protein folding is that it makes it easier to describe and compute complex 3-dimensional shapes, like how it’s easier to solve a maze if you can look at it from above (3-dimensionally rather than 2-dimensionally).


The earliest story outlines for Star Trek II featured a planet called Omega Minori IV, and the second outline featured Janet Wallace in the role that would later evolve into Carol Marcus (according to The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by Allan Asherman). Gary’s earlier mention of the similarity between Carol and Janet is also a wink to this. (Since “Minori IV” is not a valid Bayer designation, my first draft had a line explaining that it was a shorthand for Something Leonis Minoris, but that was needless pedantry, so I cut it.)


Robert Wesley’s biographical details are from his personnel file in the Star Trek: Starship Creator video game, and were devised by Michael Okuda.

Starbase 24’s proximity to the Klingon border and Rura Penthe was established in a graphic in the extended home video edition of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and is the reason I chose it for this book.

Sau Lan Wu is a noted particle physicist. I wanted to name multiple ships in this book after prominent female scientists or explorers, to try to balance out the male bias of TOS ship names.

Jaulas nd’Omeshef is an Arkenite, judging from his nomenclature. Rise of the Federation established the Arkenites as one of the earliest members of the Federation.


The star system TRAPPIST-1 is the best-known real-life example of the type of tightly-packed red dwarf system described here.

Kirk’s ordeal on Tarsus IV was established in “The Conscience of the King” and depicted in various ways in the literature, most recently in DSC: Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward. The events on Shad are a reference to Howard Weinstein’s The Covenant of the Crown, his first Trek novel and a longtime favorite of mine. The colony attack referenced at the end of the paragraph presumably happened during the 2256-7 Federation-Klingon War seen in DSC season 1.


Kirk’s confrontation with Grnar is largely recycled from Seek a Newer World, my abandoned 2010 novel that would’ve been set in the timeline of the Bad Robot Star Trek movies (later named the Kelvin Timeline). I reworked the bulk of that novel into The Face of the Unknown several years ago, replacing its Klingon adversaries with different villains, which meant I had to lose the Kirk-Grnar verbal exchange that was one of my favorite moments in the manuscript. Pitting Kirk against Klingons in this book gave me the chance to salvage that scene at last.

The Alexander reference was not part of the original Seek a Newer World scene. But it is a nod to William Shatner’s 1963 Alexander the Great pilot, in which he co-starred with Adam West.


The Farragut first officer’s description of Kirk is quoted from “Obsession,” but that episode left him nameless. The name Cheng is an indirect nod to Commander Chenowyth, the name given to him in the DC graphic novel Debt of Honor by Chris Claremont, Adam Hughes, & Karl Story.


The Rigelian backstory that Egdor describes here was spelled out in Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel.


The Vulcanian Expedition was mentioned in “Court Martial” and will be referenced again later in the book. The rescue of the Baezians from extinction was established in VGR: “Q2” as something Kirk did “many years” before his 5-year mission on the Enterprise.


Chapter Three


Koloth’s line is from DS9: “Blood Oath.”


The breakup scene dialogue here is partially an homage to the Gold Key “Psycho-File” version of the event.


The Acamarians were established in TNG: “The Vengeance Factor” as a civilization that achieved peace between their warring clans nearly a century before TNG. I alluded to the Enterprise attending Acamarian peace talks in the mid-2270s in DTI: Forgotten History. The timeframe of TCO placed it during an earlier, more uncertain stage in that process, just the sort of situation where the Klingons might try to intervene.

Mobita is a wink to Gold Key’s Star Trek #38, “One of Our Captains is Missing,” in which Kirk goes undercover to investigate a Klingon infiltration of much the kind discussed here (although the comic is set during Kirk’s command of the Enterprise, of course).


The scene at the Klingon weapons kiosk is also recycled and reworked from Seek a Newer World, with some character substitutions. Coincidentally, the trader in that version was originally Acamarian. The Klingon weapon names come from The Klingon Art of War by Keith R.A. DeCandido.


Kirk used the “I will not kill today” line in “A Taste of Armageddon.” I tried not to go overboard on showing where Kirk heard the phrases he’s known for using in the show, but it felt right to do it in a few cases.


“The Trouble With Tribbles” made it pretty clear that Kirk and Koloth recognized each other on sight and had a history. I’ve tried herein to reconcile the gentlemanly, atypically un-Klingonish Koloth of “Tribbles” with the hardcore honorable warrior Koloth seen in DS9: “Blood Oath,” suggesting that the former was a calculated façade for the latter.


Lornak was one of the clans featured in “The Vengeance Factor.” I normally try to resist that kind of small-universe writing, but I figured I’d balanced it by otherwise introducing new clans or using obscure Acamarian place names from onscreen graphics. Honestly, though, it was a placeholder that I never got around to changing.


The triple-barrelled phaser rifle design was introduced in “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and referenced in the design of Star Trek: Discovery’s phaser rifles, so this description could refer to either model or some other, similar one.


Kirk is quoting the version of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5 of the English Standard Version Bible. The interpretation he offers of “turning the other cheek” is influenced by the scholar Walter Wink.


The Polonius quote is from Hamlet, Act I, Scene iii.


Chapter Four


The opening quote is from “The Ultimate Computer.”

Giving Kirk a male yeoman at first was an implicit nod to his discomfort at having a female yeoman in “The Corbomite Maneuver,” although this does not explain Yeoman “But it’s my only line!” Smith in the second pilot.


The tour of the engineering section is consistent with my depiction of it in DTI: Forgotten History, but going in the opposite direction. It’s influenced largely by the depictions of engineering in TAS, although the dilithium crystal recharging section is meant to be the set featured in “The Alternative Factor” (an episode that later Trek canon generally doesn’t acknowledge, except for its coinage of the word “dilithium”).


Sulu was an astrophysicist in the second pilot, but the tie-ins have generally portrayed piloting as his primary area of expertise, and his Kelvin Timeline counterpart was a helm officer right out of the Academy. So I tried to explain his astrophysics gig as an exception, though my explanation differs a bit from Mere Anarchy: Things Fall Apart by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, with which I’ve otherwise tried to be consistent.

Since I gave Uhura a gratuitous hot-tub nude scene in Ex Machina, I figured I’d belatedly balance the scales here by giving Sulu a gratuitous shower scene (and Kirk a nude fight scene later on).


Lee Kelso’s portrayer, Paul Carr, had a recurring role in season 2 of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as Lt. Devlin, a crewmember aboard the starship Searcher, whose commanding officer was Admiral Efram Asimov, named in homage to science/SF writer Isaac Asimov. The name Searcher didn’t sound Starfleet-ish enough to me, so I went for a more indirect allusion. Kelso’s line about “a guy just like that” alludes to the way that Buck Rogers was always the center of the story in season 2 even though his actual role within the Searcher crew was never clearly defined.


I coined the name “Aulacri” in Ex Machina for the species of Worene, a background alien in Star Trek: The Motion Picture portrayed by Paula Crist, based on a cosplay character she created for ST conventions—although the tail was my own addition. It made sense that one or more of the species seen in the TMP crew might be recent Federation members to explain why they weren’t seen previously, so when I wanted a story about a new applicant for membership, it was handy to use one of my Ex Machina species.


Chapter Five


The opening quote is again from The Wrath of Khan.

The Titania class is my conjectural class for the Ariel from TAS: “The Eye of the Beholder.” The ship is never shown onscreen but is described as a 6-person scout ship. Ariel and Caliban are both supernatural characters from The Tempest, while Titania is the fairy queen from A Midsummer Night’s Dream; all three are also moons of Uranus, most of which are named for Shakespearean characters.


Uzaveh is an Andorian deity established in DS9: Andor: Paradigm by Heather Jarman.


Shimatta is a Japanese expletive that’s often translated as “damn” or something stronger, but that literally just means “it has occurred” – an expression of dismay that something bad has happened and can’t be undone. The closest English equivalent might be something like “Now you’ve done it!” or “Well, that happened.” It’s pronounced roughly as “shee-mot-ta,” with the “t” sustained as in “got to.” Hayaku is “quickly” or “right away.” It’s pronounced roughly like “High-ock” with a faint “uh” or “oo” (or British “er”) sound at the end.

Somerville is an alternate name I considered for the Sacagawea, as a nod to Howard Weinstein’s Oxford from “Star-Crossed” and as part of my effort to name ships for female scientists. Somerville College was one of the first women’s colleges at Oxford University and is named for the Scottish science writer and polymath Mary Somerville. It’s said that the very word “scientist” was coined in part to refer to Somerville, because neither “man of science” nor a term for a specific scientific discipline would apply to her.

The Capella class (from Masao Okazaki’s Starfleet Museum website) and its unusual registry number format were previously featured in DTI:Forgotten History. The ship of that class in that book was the Hypatia, implying that many ships of the class may be named for prominent female scholars (at least in my books’ continuity).


It may seem unlikely that thrusters alone could put the officers thousands of kilometers apart, but if we assume 30 minutes have passed (1800 seconds), then an acceleration of only 2 meters per second squared would put them at a distance of d = ½ at2 = 3,240 km. Of course, they weren’t accelerating the full time, but it shows that it’s possible.


I’ve explored Deltans’ spirituality and their approach to the end of life in DTI: Watching the Clock and DTI: Shield of the Gods. It’s basically a lot like Vulcan katras, but more communal and emotional.


The loss haunting McCoy is the death of his father, but Kirk evidently doesn’t learn about that event until Star Trek V. Similarly, Kirk doesn’t tell McCoy about the Farragut until “Obsession.” So both men need to be pretty close-mouthed in this scene.


Chapter Six


I originally wanted to show Kirk’s first meetings with both Koloth and Kang, but my editor thought that was overkill. So Kang ends up making only a cameo in the opening quote.


Oshosi is one of the Orishas, the deities of the Yoruba cultures of West Africa.


Nijen Danehl appears in DTI: Forgotten History as the captain of the Hypatia in 2274. She never interacts with Kirk there, so this new revelation about their history creates no inconsistencies.

Areel Shaw was an old flame of Kirk’s in “Court Martial.” The dates for Kirk’s relationships with Janet Wallace and Areel Shaw were given in their respective episodes; by coincidence, both women phrased it in years, months, “and an odd number of days.” I worked out the chronology for the early Sacagawea chapters based largely on those dates. I initially intended the Vega chapters to incorporate the Areel Shaw romance, but again, my editor thought that was overdoing the continuity porn, so I adjusted the timeline appropriately.


“Always face your enemy” is the Third Precept of Kahless from The Klingon Art of War by Keith R.A. DeCandido.

T’Saren is implicitly referring to the Klingon infiltrator featured in season 1 of Discovery. Her comment suggests that there were other instances in the intervening several years, or perhaps earlier. We know the practice would continue with Arne Darvin in “The Trouble With Tribbles” some years later.


The Vulcan Expeditionary Group was established in DSC: “Lethe.” It seemed reasonable to associate it with the Vulcanian Expedition, though I only vaguely alluded to the inconsistency of the “Vulcanian” demonym exclusive to season 1 of TOS.

Xaraka was a planet referenced in Gold Key’s Kirk “Psycho-File.” Habardians are a nod to the species (Habaado seijin, variously transliterated as Hubbardians or Hummardians) of Sion/TimeGreen from Mirai Sentai Timeranger, the Japanese TV series adapted into Power Rangers Time Force. I mentioned the Warlords of Alrakis in DS9: “…Loved I Not Honor More,” and the Escherites are seen in Ex Machina.

The Battle of Donatu V was established in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” while Omega Leonis was one of the battles in the Klingon War in season 1 of DSC.


Romulan ships in the 24th century have been established to use microsingularities as power sources in place of antimatter reactors. However, that’s a long way in the future of this book, so this can plausibly be the first time Starfleet has encountered the technology.


The limited maneuverability of Vulcan ringships was established in Michael Okuda’s text captions for the centerfold of the Star Trek: Ships of the Line 2011 Calendar, and I previously referenced it in ENT: A Choice of Futures. However, Egdor’s analogy is probably invalid, since in this case the vessel’s ring is the habitat section and the drive is along the central axis, the inverse of the Vulcan design.


For decades, Trek fans have assumed the forward deflector dish of the Enterprise could only point straight forward, but the meticulous restoration of the original 11-foot miniature conducted by the National Air and Space Museum from 2014-16 revealed that the dish’s connecting strut had a hinge that would theoretically allow it to swivel to different angles. I’ve been looking for a chance to incorporate that detail into a book. It’s logical for the Hermes class, which is depicted with the dish at the base of a vertical column and pointing forward.


The designers of the Reliant in The Wrath of Khan omitted the navigational deflector dish. I think it was Michael Okuda who offered me the alternative explanation for how the Miranda class deflects meteoroids (though it might have been Rick Sternbach; it was in a Facebook conversation, and Facebook doesn’t make it easy to search one’s past activity to confirm who said what), and the distinction proved useful to the action here.


The tendency of Trek to ignore the enormous weapons potential of the transporter is a pet peeve of mine, and I try to offer a rationalization for it here, though I admit the situation isn’t really dire enough for this discussion to be a great fit in this context.


The Centaurus class was introduced in Section 31: Cloak by S.D. Perry. An anggitay is a female centaur-like creature from Philippine mythology.

Clearly Kirk does eventually make it to the café on Argelius, since he repeats Mitchell’s interrupted description in “Wolf in the Fold.”


Captain Chandra is one of the command-rank officers on Kirk’s court-martial panel in “Court Martial.” The Kongo (named for the Japanese battleship Kongō from WWI & II) is identified as NCC-1710 in graphics in The Undiscovered Country (derived from the Star Fleet Technical Manual), and graphics in “Court Martial” show that NCC-1710 was at or near Starbase 11 at the time. It stands to reason that the captains on Kirk’s court martial panel were drawn from the ships currently laying over at the starbase.


Chapter Seven


The chapter quote is from DS9: “Second Sight.”


The Martian terraforming project (and the verteron beams mentioned on p. 118) was established in ENT: “Demons” and “Terra Prime.”


Spoiler alert: Karabos II is more than “nearly” ideal for Aulacri, since it’s their original homeworld. Although it’s possible that the Aulacri have undergone some slight evolutionary drift in the 4000 years since settling on Aulac.


I’m not sure that Sherev would really need a permanent support frame around her leg years after her injury. More likely any permanent bracing would be internal. But I again wanted to hint at some degree of advanced bionics and suggest an interesting visual that would give a hint of the severity of her yet-to-be-revealed injury.


The use of sapphire to preserve an artifact for millions of years was suggested in

Thorium-232 actually has a half-life of about 14 billion years, slightly above the current age of the universe, so Sherev is massively understating its longevity. However, if the planet is tectonically active, then even the most stable part of its surface might be circulated beneath the planet’s crust and destroyed over the course of tens of millions of years or so. That’s presumably what Sherev meant, but explaining all that would’ve been too distracting.


I wanted to have Kirk quote Stephen Crane’s “A Man Said to the Universe” in its entirety, since it’s a very short poem, and it’s in the public domain. But apparently publishers have gotten stricter about demanding proof that quotations are cleared for use, so it was simpler to skirt the issue. (Otherwise there would’ve been a number of real-world poetic or literary quotations used as chapter headings.)


In addition to being unfair to Kirk, Kelso is misgendering Sherev by calling her a woman instead of a shen.


Chapter Eight


General Order One (or Number One) is the formal name of the policy referred to vernacularly as the Prime Directive. The term was first used in the 1967 edition of the Star Trek writers’ bible, but was not used onscreen in TOS itself, debuting instead in TAS: “The Magicks of Megas-tu” and being used interchangeably with “Prime Directive” in TNG: “The Drumhead” and VGR: “Prime Factors.” DSC seems to use “General Order One” exclusively.

The phrasing of the Prime Directive/General Order One in the opening quote is based on dialogue from “Bread and Circuses.”


The 24th-century shows were never clear on when Betazed was contacted, but Discovery has established that it was known to the Federation by the mid-2250s; one of the crimes of DSC’s startlingly violent version of Harry Mudd was robbing the Bank of Betazed. DSC: Drastic Measures establishes, however, that Betazoids’ telepathic ability was not widely known of in 2246. Implicitly, Sherev is aware of it while Mitchell and his former captain are not.


The Nacmor plot is a story I’ve had in mind for many years but never gotten to do until now, a chance to flip the script of old alien-invasion B movies (had it been a standalone, I would’ve called it “Invasion of the Humans!”). Hence, these chapters are full of references to radio and movies from the 1940s-60s, starting with “Nacmor” being an anagrammatic nod to B-movie legend Roger Corman.


The plot hole about the overlooked servants, however, is inspired by my annoyance at the third serial of the 1979-82 British SF/supernatural drama Sapphire & Steel, which I was watching around the time I wrote this. The title characters (played by Joanna Lumley and David McCallum, respectively), investigating a series of deaths occurring in a house where several people were trapped, somehow failed to consider the servants as possible suspects or even count them among the people present.

I wish I could explain the intricate behind-the-scenes worldbuilding I devised for Nacmorian culture that would make perfect sense of the murder motive Investigator Kalamul puts forth here. Unfortunately, I was working under too tight a deadline to do any such worldbuilding, so the explanation is as nonsensical as it looks.


A lot of older movies and TV and radio shows shied away from real-world politics and focused on more imaginary menaces, for instance, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (another David McCallum series) showing American and Soviet agents working amicably in a global security organization fighting the non-governmental criminal/terrorist organization THRUSH. I was going to have Kirk point this out to suggest that the radio show’s portrayal of Nacmorian global politics might be similarly sanitized, but I thought better of it. Kirk’s a history buff, but would he really know 20th-century television?


As readers of The Buried Age will know, the “past galactic cataclysm” theory Sherev offers is somewhat accurate, though it’s too far in the past to fully explain the mystery under discussion.


The interpretation of the Prime Directive in TNG and after tends to be very strict, to the point that any interference would be banned even with positive intent. However, in TOS, the Directive was portrayed in the way Kirk describes here, as requiring a Starfleet crew to protect indigenous peoples from any and all interference, not just Starfleet interference. Kirk is often interpreted in retrospect as “violating” the Prime Directive, but that’s wrong; as it was defined in TOS, he was upholding it, or at worst bending its letter to uphold its spirit.


The appearance of the Nacmorians combines various makeup and costuming tropes used for aliens in ‘50s and ‘60s B movies and television. Green skin, bulbous foreheads, and cowls were not uncommon, and alien women were usually comelier and closer to the human default than the men. The scleral contact lenses in particular are a reference to the alien played by Paul Birch in Roger Corman’s 1957 classic Not of This Earth. The lenses were so uncomfortable for Birch that he walked off the set and the film was finished using his stand-in, which ended up adding suspense to the opening scenes (filmed last) by hiding the alien’s face.

The camel-ostrich draft animals are a nod to Gold Key’s Star Trek #44.


I wanted Mitchell to say “Holy Orson Welles” or something to that effect when the truth was revealed, but if it was implausible eight pages earlier for Kirk to be that well-versed in the history of early 20th-century broadcast media, then it’s surely even more out of character for Mitchell.


For the sake of the period feel, I tried to avoid having Nacmorians use the word “alien,” since the usage of that word to mean “extraterrestrial” (rather than “foreigner”) didn’t really catch on outside of prose science fiction until the 1960s. Earlier movies or articles would’ve been more likely to use terms like “spacemen” or “beings from outer space.” But there were times when I let an “alien” slip through because it seemed simpler than any alternative. “Aliens from outer space” seemed like a decent compromise here.


Chapter Nine


It seems more likely that McCoy would’ve used some kind of injection to alter the crew’s pigmentation rather than just using makeup, but it served the story better if the Nacmorians could uncover the crew’s real appearance.

The term “hand phaser” was often used in TOS season 1 to refer to both pistol phasers and the more compact, concealable phaser 1 units that plug into the pistol grips, though until recently I always assumed the term referred only to the compact model, which was what I intended to convey by the use of the term here. (Presumably the original intent of the term “hand phaser” was to contrast with ship-mounted phasers.)


The tidbit that the Prime Directive could be suspended for vital Federation interests comes from p. 24 of the April 17, 1967 revision of The Star Trek Guide, the TOS writers’ bible. The exemption for the safety of the ship is from p. 37 of the March 23, 1987 edition of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer/Director’s Guide, though the actual portrayal of the PD in later seasons of TNG would seem to conflict with it. While that exception was not explicitly spelled out in the TOS bible, it’s suggested by Kirk’s actions in “The Return of the Archons,” “A Taste of Armageddon,” and “The Apple,” all cases where Kirk destroys a planet’s ruling computer system in order to save the Enterprise from imminent destruction. Perhaps if Landru, Vaal, and the Eminians had not attacked his ship, Kirk would have just escaped with his personnel and left their planets to their own devices.

Kirk’s history with Tyree is from “A Private Little War.”


Chapter Ten


The Nacmorian propaganda broadcast here is, unfortunately, based on a real WWII-era PSA I once heard in an episode of the radio comedy series Fibber McGee and Molly. The cheerful, friendly, easygoing hosts of this cozy sitcom were talking to their listeners about how every scrap donation, every mile not driven, every war bond and austerity measure “kills a [derogatory abbreviation of ‘Japanese’],” with the same rhythm reproduced herein. It was chilling to hear, although sadly typical of the propaganda of the era.


This is the second time I’ve referenced the events of ENT: “The Communicator” (the first was in ENT: A Choice of Futures), and the second time I’ve dodged coming up with a name for the unidentified planet in that episode.


Differential analyzers were early analog computers whose heyday was in the 1930s-50s.


Chapter Eleven


Gravity lensing is the use of the gravitational field of a massive object such as a star or black hole as a powerful magnifying lens, since strong gravity can bend light much like refraction in a lens. Since subspace phenomena are generally related to gravity and higher-dimensional spatial distortions (same thing, basically), it stands to reason that the subspace radiations used for faster-than-light sensing in the Trek universe could be gravity-lensed as well.

Federation historian Dr. Monali Bhasin makes a return “appearance” after having previously had her book on V’Ger, The Day the Heavens Opened, cited in the opening quote of Chapter 15 of Ex Machina.


Bardeezans were mentioned in passing but unseen in DS9: “The Maquis, Part I.” The novel Mirror Universe: Saturn’s Children by David Mack (writing as Sarah Shaw) calls their homeworld Bardeezi Prime.


Yes, I admit, my description of the Bardeezans is basically Totoro, albeit with a gray hide instead of gray fur. Since I wrote this book in haste, several of the aliens’ descriptions are influenced by the various stuffed animals I have sitting around my apartment, including a Totoro doll I rescued from being thrown away by another resident of my apartment complex a few years ago. (So I guess that makes it my neighbor’s Totoro.)


The Kongo and Captain Chandra naturally had to survive the novel so that they could be present in “Court Martial” several years later.

I chose to be vague about whether Pike’s “regular first officer” was still Number One from “The Cage,” in order to keep all options open. I knew at this point that the character would appear on Discovery, but did not know the story details (though as it turned out, there was nothing in that show to preclude it still being her).


Alumina is aluminum oxide, aka corundum or emery, and is the main constituent of rubies and sapphires, as well as various forms of durable glass used in armored vehicles and the like. Generally about a couple of times a year, some slight new advance in alumina-based glass or ceramic will get announced, and the media will scream “Wow, they just invented transparent aluminum like in Star Trek,” forgetting all the other times it’s supposedly been “invented” in recent memory, and forgetting that alumina is not aluminum any more than water is hydrogen.


The Kaleans (rhymes with “galleons”) were an aggressive race mentioned in passing in DS9: “Dramatis Personae.” I’m not a fan of Trek’s tendency to introduce and forget throwaway aliens, so when possible I like to pick out established but undeveloped species and flesh them out.


I’m not sure McCoy would be familiar enough with 20th-century science fiction for the “puny human” joke to work coming from him, but in this case I just couldn’t resist, since it’s otherwise such a perfect McCoy moment.


Chapter Twelve


The opening quote is from “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” and efficiently rebuts the extreme interpretation of the Prime Directive seen in TNG: “Pen Pals” and especially “Homeward.”

Murasaki 274 is presumably from the same Federation catalog of astronomical objects as Murasaki 312 from “The Galileo Seven.” That phenomenon was called a quasar in the episode; at the time (1966), quasars were of unknown origin and were a major astronomical mystery, so it was plausible that they could be within our galaxy and be a priority for scientific study. By the 1980s, it had been determined that quasars were active supermassive black holes in the cores of other, distant galaxies, badly dating “Galileo.” But by the mid-’90s, we’d developed the idea of a microquasar, as described by Sherev’s dialogue, and suddenly the episode was plausible again. (The image of Murasaki 312 in the Remastered version of TOS is based on a microquasar.) It was still mysterious why their study was so urgent that it would supersede delivering life-saving medicines, but in a May 2017 discussion of the episode, an explanation occurred to me, inspiring this section of the novel.

The Murasaki objects are named in honor of the Lady Murasaki, a pioneering author of 11th-century Japan, and the author of the novel The Tale of Genji, whose title character’s epithet Hikaru (the Shining One) was the inspiration for Sulu’s first name as coined by the late Vonda N. McIntyre in the 1981 novel The Entropy Effect. Murasaki is also the Japanese word for “purple,” although the object in “Galileo” is green.


The discussion of radiation tunneling through subspace is implicitly a nod to the bizarre physics of the supernova in the 2009 Star Trek movie. However, I have used subspace tunneling to justify FTL radiation in my Trek writing even before that movie came out, in “Brief Candle” in VGR: Distant Shores.


“The Omega Glory” implied a prior acquaintanceship between Kirk and Tracey, so when I wanted a captain who would be adversarial to Kirk here, Tracey seemed a good choice.

How do Sherev’s scans detect the Chenari when they’re deep underground? Well, it’s mentioned later that air is being sucked out of the caverns due to the decreasing atmospheric density outside, so perhaps there are detectable spectroscopic traces of their exhalations or shed skin cells in the escaping air. Or maybe the caves just aren’t made of the kind of rock that blocks the Trek universe’s magic sensors. The shows have always been inconsistent about how far underground sensors and transporters can reach.


The Chenari were the other race (see p. 44 note) that VGR: “Q2” mentioned Kirk saving from extinction years before TOS.


The nature of the Chenar disaster is rather similar to the Mestiko pulsar disaster in Mere Anarchy: Things Fall Apart, which occurs only a couple of years later in the novel continuity. But then, it stands to reason that the same categories of natural disaster would occur over and over, no less for space phenomena than for hurricanes or tsunamis. Luckily, the only character involved in both events is Kirk, and Things Fall Apart is agnostic on whether Kirk has experienced a similar disaster before.


Chapter Thirteen


Thorwor was Paula Crist’s original cosplay/makeup character from whom ST:TMP’s Worene was derived. The rest of the myth is original to this book, though influenced by my having recently seen the film Moana.


More discussion of how to preserve messages for future civilizations, with links to further articles on the subject, can be found at:


The Xindi were featured throughout ENT season 3, and Valakis was seen in ENT: “Dear Doctor.”


Chapter Fourteen


Since there’s a fairly large time jump here, I wanted to give some sense of the Sacagawea’s further adventures during that time.

The destroyer of the Anggitay’s crew is implicitly one of the Crystalline Entities introduced in TNG: “Datalore” and “Silicon Avatar” and developed more fully in my Titan: Orion’s Hounds. Of course, a 23rd-century crew could not be allowed to succeed in solving this mystery, since the Entities were not known to Starfleet until the following century.

The Aurelians and Skorr were featured in TAS: “Yesteryear” and “The Jihad” respectively, with similar but not identical designs; thus, it has long been speculated that they are related species. In fact, the planet Aurelia was named only in the script of “Yesteryear” and in Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation of the episode, as well as the Star Trek Concordance, and it’s only a conjecture that the people of Aurelia call themselves Aurelians. One could just as easily surmise that the people of Aurelia are called the Skorr, and that “Yesteryear”’s Aleek-Om is merely a skinnier member of the species than “The Jihad”’s Tchar. But the precedent in Trek Lit is to treat them as two different species.

Meanwhile, “Dagger of the Mind” indicated that Kirk had followed Tristan Adams’s prison reform work earlier in his career; I wanted to give some explanation of when and why that happened. Ixion II, like the Tantalus colony in “Dagger,” is named for one of the damned souls in Tartarus in Greek mythology. He was condemned to be bound to a spinning, fiery wheel for all eternity – yikes. The names of these prison colonies suggest that they were very much in need of Adams’s humane reforms.


TAS: “The Terratin Incident” established that Starfleet uniforms were made of an algae-based fabric called xenylon.

“The Cloud Minders” established that Kirk had briefly visited Ardana once but not had time to look around. Ardana’s First City was introduced in Corps of Engineers: Signs from Heaven by Phaedra M. Weldon. Rasalas is the Arabic name for Mu Leonis, used in Star Trek Star Charts as Ardana’s primary star. The description of Stratos is based on the TOS Remastered version.

The haste of Ardana’s admission is my attempt to explain how the Federation could have overlooked their gross civil rights abuses revealed in “The Cloud Minders.”


The irony here is that if Gary had made it up to Stratos, he would have found it far more enjoyable than he’d expected.

Lt. Helen Johansson was a past acquaintance of Kirk’s mentioned in “The Menagerie, Part I.”


The Dachlyd and Gemarians were established in TNG: “Captain’s Holiday” as two “incredibly stubborn” neighboring civilizations that Captain Picard had exhausted himself trying to mediate between. Ma-aira Thenn is an extinct civilization I’ve mentioned in passing in The Buried Age and Watching the Clock; they’re becoming a running gag at this point. Akwood’s Syndrome is from Gold Key Star Trek #58, written by George Kashdan.


Michael Okuda’s Starship Creator biography for Robert Wesley said he was promoted to commodore and given command of the Constitution in 2263, then took over the Lexington in 2268 just before “The Ultimate Computer.” I felt that was needlessly confusing, though, and simplified it by giving him the Lexington in ’63.

I first used the name “Agni” in an unsold original story about aliens colonizing Mercury. That story never quite worked out, though, and I recently repurposed it as a Star Trek Adventures game proposal, combining it with my desire to do a story set on a floating city in the clouds of Venus or a similar world. (The game scenario would’ve been titled Get Off of My Cloud.) This novel project arose before I sold that pitch, though, and I chose to withdraw the game pitch (which was set in the Caitian system) to rework it for this novel. The Karabos frame story was also an unused game pitch, and I’d been considering developing another game pitch based on the microquasar-defense idea that I used for the Chenari. This book basically exhausted all my game ideas.


I hadn’t intended the juxtaposition of cloud cities between Ardana and Regulus, and indeed I didn’t even notice the issue until I was writing this scene. It’s pure coincidence that Star Charts put Ardana and Regulus close together, thereby leading me to address Kirk’s brief prior visit to Ardana at this point in the novel. But coincidences happen in real life, so it’s worth including the occasional meaningless coincidence in fiction for verisimilitude.


The potential habitability of the upper atmosphere of Venus is a real phenomenon, and there have been conjectures about the possibility of building cities there.


H’Raal/Harlie is an homage to one of the cats my family had during my childhood. She was named Harlequin for her black-and-white features, Harlie for short, but thanks to the childish sense of humor of my sister and myself, she ended up with the full name Harlequin Poopsie Romance. Her lookalike daughter was named Harlie-poo.


As aggressive as “do science to them” sounds, it’s an homage to an adorable moment from Aaron Diaz’s webcomic Dresden Codak.

I previously alluded to the Caitian colony on Regulus VI’s moon in DTI: Watching the Clock, as a nod to the Last Unicorn Games’ RPG substituting the name “Regulan” for “Caitian” for copyright reasons.


Chapter Fifteen


Vaacith sh’Lesinas was established in my DTI novels as a 23rd-century Andorian science fiction writer, modeled on Isaac Asimov. Since Asimov was also a prolific science writer, I figured sh’Lesinas might be as well. The Federation and Back is a nod to The Solar System and Back (Doubleday, 1970), one of Doubleday’s series of books collecting Asimov’s science essays from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

The explanation given here for how Regulus can have habitable planets is the same one I used in Watching the Clock.

Laputa is named for the levitating island nation in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, making my line about the councillors pleading with Kirk “to resolve the matter swiftly” an accidental pun. This is my second work of fiction to feature an artificial habitat named for Laputa; Only Superhuman features the Rapyuta habitat in orbit of Vesta, named in honor of Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta (Laputa: Castle in the Sky), Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film about a floating island inspired by Swift’s.

Here’s the overview of the Regulus system from my notes:

  • Regulus I (Hearthside): Class N, Venus-type world, inhabited by upper-atmosphere bacteria, floating cities.
  • Regulus II: Class L, dry desert world, hot and barely habitable. Inhabited by small life forms like Regulan bloodworms, mostly underground and in shaded crevices.
  • Regulus III: Class M, temperate but somewhat dry. Most populous colony world in system, houses central government, Science Academy.
  • Regulus V: Class M. Hosts smaller colonial population, extensive wildlife such as eel-birds, pygmy eel-birds, Regulan phoenix.
  • Regulus VI: Jovian with a tidally heated habitable moon. Hosts Caitian colony, relatively young at this point.

I devised conjectural names for the other planets, but they were just placeholders that I wasn’t crazy about.


The name “Veliki” comes from DS9: Sacraments of Fire by David R. George III, which alludes to them in passing as a civilization on Regulus III that used eugenics for evil purposes. Implicitly, their genetic engineering and the environmental stresses discussed in the sh’Lesinas quote both contributed to the rapid evolution of Regulan life forms.

Regulan bloodworms were mentioned in “The Trouble With Tribbles,” though my description of their native environment is influenced by the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual. The Regulan eel-bird was established in “Amok Time.” I alluded to mirror-feathered pygmy eel-birds in Mere Anarchy: The Darkness Drops Again.


The logic behind a modular design for a floating city is that the failure of one module to stay aloft will not endanger the others. This will be seen in action later in the chapter.


The use of holographic displays in the 23rd century is consistent with Discovery, but it’s interesting to note that the idea was proposed as far back as The Making of Star Trek in 1968, in the discussion of the Enterprise’s never-seen “entertainment center” on p. 190:

Probably entertainment will be three-dimensional in nature and perhaps will even go further, in that you will sit in the room and the story will take place all around you. In other words, a sophisticated extension of holography.

This technique will also have its effect on the traditional “mail call.” Instead of receiving a letter, a man can sit in the room and, via tape, actually “see” the person sending the correspondence. As the tape is projected, the images will form in the air in front of him, so he will be able to see how his child looks, what’s happening to the house, and how great his grandmother looked that day.

So it was always intended for holographic displays to exist at the time of TOS, even if it was never shown onscreen until the holographic rec room in TAS: “The Practical Joker.”


The Arodi are a nod to Star Trek: Worlds of the Federation by Lora Johnson (then known as Shane Johnson), which posited a race of reptilian humanoid natives on Regulus II who called their planet Arodi. My version is different aside from the name and the reptilian aspect.


Chapter Sixteen


The chapter quote is from “Metamorphosis.”


My intent is that Regulus III, V, and VI have one councilor each, while T’Zeri is responsible for both Regulus I & II because they’re less populous. President Sentok presides over the whole.


The dynamic of Kirk initially rejecting his first officer’s urging for a peaceful solution, then turning around and advocating it himself, was seen in two TOS episodes written by Gene L. Coon, “Arena” and “The Devil in the Dark,” and also appeared in Star Trek Into Darkness. I wanted to homage it here, and indeed my initial draft had Spock involved in the Regulus sequence, on detached assignment from the Enterprise. My editor convinced me it would be better to feature original characters in the Regulus section to provide more of a contrast with the Enterprise section, and for the most part that proved the right choice; however, I do feel that the dynamic is a bit less resonant with Adebayo in Spock’s place. But maybe that’s just me.

The Vertians were featured in A Choice of Futures.


Science continues to reveal the startling intelligence and dexterity of octopus, squids, and other cephalopods, an intelligence very alien to our own but perhaps not lesser. It increasingly seems that the only thing keeping octopus intellects from matching or surpassing humans’ is that they live only a few years, not long enough to develop their full mental potential.


Chapter Seventeen


The chapter quote is from “The Corbomite Maneuver.”


The shelthreth (Andorian mating ceremony) was created by Heather Jarman in DS9: Avatar, Book Two.

The 79 data sheets are not meant to be a nod to TOS’s 79 episodes (actually 80 if you count “The Menagerie” as two). It’s a coincidence I didn’t even notice until the proofreading stage.


Another thing that didn’t occur to me until proofreading: Why didn’t the Aulacri try using the thruster units on the comets to counteract the Enterprise’s efforts to divert their courses? No doubt they wouldn’t want to risk going down to the unstable surface except as a last resort, but wouldn’t they have built in the means to control the thrusters remotely for purposes of last-minute course corrections?  Then again, the Aulacri probably know that the Enterprise would just blast any thruster pods that reactivated, and the explosions might have sent the comets further off course or shattered them. So they may have decided it was too risky. It’s a plot point I wish I’d thought of addressing in the text, but once things get to the galley proof stage, it’s too late to make any significant additions.


Chapter Eighteen


The portable computer unit here is meant to be the same kind introduced in “Miri” and featured throughout TOS, as shown and discussed at:


I find that writing Captain Kirk always makes it easy to channel his gift for inspiring speeches. But what Kirk says about humanity’s inborn drive to expand to hostile environments being a key to our survival is based on a real scientific idea, the “generalist specialist” model of human development proposed in 2018 by archaeologists Patrick Roberts and Brian Stewart, discussed here:

I love it that actual scientific research suggests that it’s our drive to expand into new frontiers that makes us human. It’s pretty much a confirmation of the core philosophy of Star Trek.


I feel I had Kirk see through Orloff’s plan too quickly, defusing the tension too early. Perhaps it would’ve been better for Kirk to get the truth out of Diaz only after Orloff’s bombardment began. But I had trouble believing that Diaz would hold out that long without her conscience compelling her to speak up, given how important her willing repentance is to the resolution.


Chapter Nineteen


The chapter quote is from “Day of the Dove.”


The reason the image of Regulus A on the flag has a darker blue band across it is because the flattened, rapidly spinning star’s poles are closer to the core than its equator is, and therefore hotter and brighter. I’ve described the star previously in Watching the Clock and Forgotten History, and the flag described here is similar to the Regulan shipping logo described in WTC, with the addition of the white dwarf dot.


The Lionheart is named for one of the traditional names of Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, the Lion. It’s Qalb al Asad in Arabic, Kardia Leontos in Greek, and Cor Leonis in Latin, all meaning “Heart of the Lion.”


I couldn’t find any confirmation that Regulus A tosses off its atmosphere in the way described, but it seems inevitable, given its high rotation rate, that it would cast off more of its outer atmosphere than the Sun does in the solar wind.


Chapter Twenty


The description of the comet surface is based on images that the Rosetta spacecraft took of the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, as seen at:


Chapter Twenty-One


Dr. Bhasin’s second quotation herein is a necessary bit of cleanup for a prequel story like this, in order to explain how the Agni have been in Federation space all along without ever appearing or being mentioned in the shows.

The conversation between Wesley and Pike is one of several scenes in which I tried to be vague about whether the caller was a viewscreen image of the sort seen in TOS or a hologram of the sort seen in DSC. As it happens, DSC season 2 established Pike’s preference for viewscreens over holograms, so I needn’t have bothered.


“The Great Bird of the Galaxy” was mentioned in a blessing in “The Man Trap,” and was swiftly adopted as a nickname for Gene Roddenberry by the TOS production crew and eventually by fandom. Implicitly it’s a religious concept (genuine or facetious) that exists in the 23rd century.


One of Kirk’s decorations in “Court Martial” was referred to in the script as the Prentares Ribbon of Commendation, and that’s how its spelling was given in most Star Trek reference works for decades. But viewscreen graphics in TNG and ENT rendered its spelling as “Preantares,” and even though those graphics were never meant to be legible, apparently that’s considered the official spelling now since it’s the only one ever actually shown onscreen. I would’ve chosen another of Kirk’s commendations from “Court Martial” to avoid the spelling issue, but the others mostly seemed too combat-oriented (medals of valor and such) to apply to a diplomatic victory like this.

“Fleet captain” (used for both Pike and Garth in TOS) was never clearly defined as a title in Starfleet, but historically in the US Navy and the British Royal Navy (where it was “captain of the fleet”), the title was used for a flag officer’s chief of staff.

The mention that Pike would have the option for diplomatic missions is for consistency with his portrayal in IDW Comics’ Alien Spotlight: Orions by Scott & David Tipton and Elena Casagrande. I also tried to be consistent with the Pike-biography novel Burning Dreams by Margaret Wander Bonanno just in case, even though I expected DSC season 2 to contradict a number of its elements (which it did, as it turned out).


Number One’s captaincy of the Yorktown was first introduced in John Byrne’s Star Trek comics for IDW and subsequently mentioned in the Star Trek: Legacies 50th-anniversary trilogy by Greg Cox, David Mack, and Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore (which referred to Number One by her now-canonical real name, Una).

The Star Trek Chronology puts the Enterprise’s launch date in 2245, and Pike is in command by “The Cage” in 2254, with the implication that he’s been in command for some time already; the Chronology conjecturally has his command begin in 2251. So as of this scene in 2264, Pike has been in command for maybe 10-13 years, indeed the majority of the Enterprise’s 19 years in service.


Pike seeing Kirk as much like himself is a bit of an inside joke, based on my realization that Kirk as written in season 1 of TOS was essentially the exact same character as Pike, just with his name changed. Indeed, the TOS writer’s guide’s description of Kirk lifts much of its text verbatim from the original series pitch’s description of Pike. Pike has a reputation for being more grim and maudlin than Kirk, but that’s because we only saw him at his lowest ebb in “The Cage,” when he was going through doubts similar to those Kirk was seen wrestling with in “The Naked Time,” “Balance of Terror,” and elsewhere. It was only later, as the writing of Kirk was adjusted to fit William Shatner’s personality and the network’s pressure to conform Kirk to the two-fisted, womanizing norm of ‘60s action heroes, that the two characters became more distinct.


Chapter Twenty-Two


The chapter quote is, again, from The Wrath of Khan.


I’ve made several references in my Trek fiction to nuclear winter cancelling out global warming. They’re homages to a joke from Futurama, but it seems a plausible explanation for why Earth’s climate in Trek’s future seems unchanged from its 20th-century climate.


I do somewhat regret not getting to write Spock and McCoy’s first meeting. It would have had to occur after “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and thus is beyond the purview of this book.


I found information about the rules and game mechanics of 3-dimensional chess on the following two sites, which don’t completely agree in the details but provided certain details like the use of movable attack boards:

I didn’t have time to learn the rules well enough to plot out a game in detail (since this scene was a late addition when I realized the Kirk-Spock arc needed more closure), but I got enough of a sense of the strategy to make the scene work.


Yes, the line about sacrificing pawns too easily is a redshirt joke. Although I felt it was important to make it clear that Kirk himself was not to blame for the TOS writers’ cavalier attitude toward security guards’ lives.


Chapter Twenty-Three


The chapter quote is based on the “Excerpted from orders to Captain Robert T. April” section of the original 1964 Star Trek pitch document, quoted on pp. 24-5 of The Making of Star Trek, though with slight revisions (e.g. “Warp 8 class” in place of “space-warp,” “Federation security” instead of “Earth security,” and “galactic threat” in place of “galaxial threat”).


Kirk requesting Mitchell as his first officer and being turned down was established in Mere Anarchy: Things Fall Apart.


The first few lines of Kirk and Pike’s exchange in the lounge are an homage and paraphrase of a similar scene in DC’s “All Those Years Ago…” (see p. 6 note).




The Delta Vega Mining Consortium was an idea I conceived for the abandoned Seek a Newer World, to explain how there could be more than one planet named Delta Vega (the desert planet on the galactic fringe in “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and the ice planet near Vulcan in the 2009 film). I assume it’s an organization – probably a partnership of mining interests from Delta IV and Vega Colony – that establishes various automated mining planets at strategic locations, with all of them being called “Delta Vega” followed by some catalog number nobody bothers to mention.


My assumption, and one that’s been followed by at least one or two previous novels, is that “Where No Man Has Gone Before” happened prior to the five-year mission proper. Given how long it would’ve taken to travel to the galactic edge and back, it makes more sense for it to be a separate one-shot mission of its own, distinct from the general 5-year survey/patrol tour. Also, the ship underwent significant refitting between the pilot and season 1, which makes more sense between missions than during one. However, my editor thought it preferable to keep it simpler to avoid confusing readers. Still, Kirk and Komack’s dialogue is consistent with the idea without being too explicit.

“Your recent efforts at Mestiko” refers to the events of Mere Anarchy: Things Fall Apart, which takes place between Chapter Twenty-two and the Epilogue.


The dialogue here implies that the Delta Vega lithium-cracking station was only recently established, within the past year. I belatedly discovered (literally the day before the book’s official release date) that “Where No Man Has Gone Before” implies otherwise when Kirk says “Even the ore ships call only once every twenty years,” suggesting the station is at least that old. This is what I get when I rely on memory rather than reviewing the actual episode dialogue. One possible handwave is that Kirk was referring to the planned ore ship schedule. If you prefer, maybe the Consortium made their way out there through slower means decades before discovering the high-speed lane.


The deflector grid recalibration and restocking of ship’s stores are implicitly consequences of the events of Things Fall Apart.


The TrekBBS comment from “jayrath” is here:


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