//\\ 15-Minute Federation //\\ presents . . . Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan — Chapter 4: Taken Down by a Prefix Code (Or: Kirk Continues to Fail Upwards)

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00:45:01 – 01:00:00

Lt. DiAngelo, the chief geologist on board the 15-Minute Federation (who’s never been seen by anyone before this fateful day), went on his first away mission with our Holy Trinity: Captain Firewater, Commander Spork and Dr. “Ribcage” Macklemore.

He was killed just moments after the landing party materialized on the planet Pepp-Boyz XII.

He was executed by the ruling Triumvirate of Pepp-Boyz, the ruthless Manny, Moe and Jack, for disturbing the planet’s sacred rocks. You would have thought someone could have warned him about this strange taboo during the mission briefing. But, you know how it goes.

When the landing party returned, after picking up another pretty female yeoman from Risa, the captain delivered a moving eulogy for DiAngelo, during which he could not remember the man’s first name or anything personal about him. The captain ordered Lt. Hulu to have the man’s name (or whatever part we could remember of it) added to the wall plaque listing our fallen comrades. The list is already longer than our duty roster.

Welcome to Chapter 4 of

The Wrath of Khan Edition of the 15-Minute Federation,

where we boldly go where everyone has gone before.

When we last visited with our intrepid Starfleet heroes, we were spending some necessary time setting up character motivations and moving our protagonists and antagonists physically closer together in our fictional universe.

As you may recall, Adm. James T. Kirk is now aware that Project Genesis has somehow been compromised, and he’s been given command of the USS Enterprise once again by her captain, Spock. Kirk and the gang are warping towards Regula I, where one of Kirk’s many, many former lovers, Dr. Carol Marcus, the head of the project, is stationed along with her adult son, David, who harbors a serious resentment towards Kirk of a magnitude usually witnessed only between sons and fathers.

Unbeknownst to Kirk, his old nemesis Khan Noonien Singh has escaped with his ragtag group of Mad Max extras from Ceti Alpha V, performing an earwig mindfreak upon Pavel Chekov and Capt. Terrell of the USS Reliant and commandeering that vessel. Khan has an Ahab-like obsession with Kirk, and wants the Project Genesis device to use as a weapon against him.

While the last fifteen-minute segment wasn’t action-packed, there was a lot of business of storytelling going on there.

We return to Kirk’s exhilarating briefing about the Genesis Project. If used in a location where life already exists, the Genesis machine—device? bomb?—would destroy all life in favor of a new matrix. Spock points out, correctly, that in cosmic history it has always been easier to destroy than to create.

Dr. McCoy gets another opportunity to direct some Vulcan-oriented racism towards Spock during the scene, calling him “green-blooded” and “inhuman,” both of which are factual, if not 100% accurate.

Lt. Saavik informs our older, more familiar officers that the Reliant is also on an intercept course to Regula I. The Reliant is awaiting the Enterprise when it arrives near Regula I.

Khan is on board the Reliant. I’ve mentioned that, haven’t I?

When it doesn’t respond to the Enterprise‘s repeated hails, Saavik begins to quote General Order 12, “On the approach of any vessel, where communications have not been established . . .” She is interrupted in this recitation by Spock, since obviously Kirk knows all of the regulations that he refuses to follow. The implication, however, is that the ship should go to red alert and raise its shields. Which, as it turns out, it should have.

Ricardo Montalban chews up the scenery as Khan gloats over this moment when he has the upper hand over his nemesis. Khan quotes an old Klingon proverb that states that revenge is a dish best served cold.

A couple of problems with this. First, I think this was a Chinese proverb, not Klingon. That’s just quibbling. Second, while I would believe that Khan would know an ancient Asian proverb—he was from Asia originally, wasn’t he?—how would he even know a Klingon proverb?

I know, I know. He could have read about Klingons, and he has a genetically-engineered super-brain or somesuch. He certainly never encountered Klingons during his lengthy cryoslumber aboard the Botany Bay or in the corridors of the Enterprise. I don’t believe Ceti Alpha V was a Klingon refueling stop.

Am I obsessing over this just a bit too much? Probably. I just hate plagiarism.

At any rate, the Reliant raises her shields at the last minute and fires upon our heroes. Khan knew exactly where to strike to do maximum damage. Keeping this strictly PG-13, the Enterprise‘s stuff is seriously frakked up.

Kirk and the team attempt to escape on auxiliary power. Khan fires upon them again. Engines and shields are down. Several cadets on this training cruise are killed. The bridge of the Enterprise is on fire.

Uhura tells everyone that the Reliant is signaling, wishing to discuss terms of surrender.

Kirk is surprised—although we’re not—when a gloating Khan appears on the viewscreen. Khan announces his intentions to destroy Kirk’s ship. He just wanted Kirk to know who killed him, first. More textbook hubris. Kirk offers himself alone if Khan will spare his crew. This is how a true hero is supposed to act. Of course, this kind of hero would rarely survive the first act.

Khan agrees to these terms, but only if Kirk will hand over all materials on Project Genesis.

Ah. The stakes have been raised. This is no longer just about Khan getting his revenge on Kirk. Khan has bigger plans, as all conquerors must.

Kirk feigns ignorance of the project at first and Khan gives him the dramatic-countdown required 60 seconds to comply. Khan always knows the precise amount of tension a story requires. Kirk orders the bridge cleared as he plans something sneaky. He puts on his antique spectacles, then pretends to comply, but actually transmits a signal using the Reliant‘s ship-specific prefix code to lower that vessel’s shields. The super-tactical-genius Khan is fooled, and his momentary hesitation to react gives Sulu just enough time to blast the Reliant as well.

Both ships are now crippled and must withdraw from battle.

Kirk tells Saavik to go right on quoting regulations. This seems a little glib considering that Kirk’s failure to follow regulations resulted in loads of injuries and several deaths. As we ease our way out of Act One and into the sickbay, we see some of these negative consequences. Kirk berates himself, of course. So, that’s something. It doesn’t keep Midshipman 1st Class Peter Preston from dying, with an inconsolable Scotty at his side.

There’s still no response from Regula I. As the Enterprise reaches the space station, which is on a great big rock in space, Kirk decides to beam over to the station with McCoy. Saavik reminds Kirk about General Order 15, which bars any flag officer from beaming into a dangerous situation without an armed escort. Kirk vocally doubts the existence of the regulation, but decides to allow Saavik to join anyway.

Why would Kirk elect to beam over with a landing party consisting only of himself and McCoy? That makes little sense when you examine TOS history and also include the fact that the starship was just damaged in an unprovoked attack. Most landing parties include at least a couple of disposable redshirts.

Still, they go to Regula I with their phasers on stun. We have decided that ours would have secretly been turned to that setting that disintegrates matter without leaving unsightly residue. But, that’s just us.

And here’s where we end this chapter. This was an exciting quarter-hour. Things are heating up. Blood is being shed. The appetite for more action has been whetted. We’re past the halfway point in this movie now, and firmly into the second act. When next we meet, we’ll find out what’s going on at Regula I.

Until next time . . . We Think Captain Kirk’s Son David Used to be on the TV Show Square Pegs at the 15-Minute Federation . . .Live Long and Prosper.

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