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|2||44||2.7||Bread and Circuses||Stunt slave||The Enterprise discovers the wreckage of the SS Beagle, a survey vessel missing for six years. The sensors indicate that the wreckage originate at a nearby planet, the fourth in Star System 892. The ship proceeds to the planet to search for survivors, with Kirk hoping to locate the Captain, R.M. Merik, who was a friend of his.
On arrival they intercept television broadcasts from the planet indicating that the civilisation there is a close parallel to the Roman Empire on Earth, only in this case the Empire never fell but continued to progress technologically until it reached a level comparable to mid 20th century Earth. But the Empire retains the brutality associated with ancient Rome, including televised Gladiatorial combat. The crew witness such a combat and notice that the defeated 'barbarian' is William B. Harrison, the flight officer of the SS Beagle.
Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to investigate the situation, arriving a short distance outside the city the broadcast was coming from. Unfortunately they are quickly captured by a renegade group calling themselves the Children of the Sun; a religious cult who apparently engage in sun worship. Former champion Gladiator Flavius Maximus is amongst their number, a man who renounced his violent ways when he joined the group. Kirk convinced the group's leader, Septimus, that the landing party is from a ship offshore. He explains why they are there and Spetimus suggests that Merik could be Merikus, the First Citizen. Septimus asks Flavius to lead Kirk and his officers into the city in disguise. Unfortunately they are soon spotted by the police and captured.
Taken to the city, Kirk manages to convince his captors to allow him to meet Merikus. It is indeed his old friend R.M. Merik, captain of the Beagle. Merik takes Kirk to Proconsul Claudius Marcus, who to Kirk's surprise knows all about the offworld origins of Merik and Kirk. Merik explains that when the Beagle was lost his men were stranded on the planet and left with the choice of assimilating or being killed. Those who refused to assimilate were forced to fight in the Gladiator games until they were killed. Claudius demands that Kirk contact the Enterprise and order the crew to beam down to their own fate, but Kirk gives the coded command Condition Green - signalling that the landing party is in trouble but forbidding any rescue attempt. With this, and the planet's status as a pre-warp society, there is virtually nothing that the Enterprise can do to help. Claudius is surprised by Kirk's resistance, and orders Spock and McCoy sent to the games to be killed.
Kirk is made to watch as Spock and McCoy fight Flavius and another Gladiator. Spock is easily able to defeat his opponent thanks to his superior Vulcan physique, but McCoy only survives because Flavius holds back. Kirk feigns amusement at the spectacle, pretending not to care if his officers are killed, much to Claudius's surprise. Merik chimes in that as a Starship commander, Kirk is the very best Humanity has to offer - far more capable than himself, as he tried and failed to achieve such a post. In the end Spock overpowers both opponents, which is against the rules of the combat. Claudius spares them, thinking to use them as further leverage against Kirk.
McCoy and Spock are put in a cell, where Spock rebuffs McCoy's attempts to thank him for saving his life. McCoy angrily accuses Spock of being so desperate to hide his emotions that he's terrified of actually living his life fully. When Spock refuses to engage with the conversation McCoy wearily admits that they are both just worrying about Kirk.
Kirk, meanwhile, is being kept in far more luxurious surroundings. Claudius assures him that in the end he will have no choice but to compromise - and a beautiful slave girl, Drusilla is sent to seduce Kirk as part of the "carrot" part of the carrot and stick approach.
The Enterprise picks up a broadcast announcing Kirk's execution in the arena. Scott, frustrated at his inability to intervene directly, decides to scan the power sources on the planet and simultaneously disrupt them all for a few moments. He hopes that this demonstration of the power of the ship might give those below some second thoughts, whilst not counting as a direct intervention.
Kirk is taken to the arena for his execution. He manages to escape thanks to the power blackout, though Flavius is killed in the process. He frees Spock and McCoy from their cell, but the police arrive and engage them in combat with swords. Merik uses a communicator he has stolen to contact the ship and tell them where the officers are, and is stabbed and killed by Claudius. As the guards open fire on Kirk, Spock and McCoy the three officers are beamed away just in the nick of time.
Back on board, Spock muses on the parallels between Earth and Planet 892-IV, although he notes that ancient Rome did not have Sun worship. Uhura, who has been monitoring the planet's broadcasts, chimes in to say that they have all misunderstood the situation. The rebels do not worship the Sun, but the Son - the Son of God. Kirk marvels that 892-IV had Ceasar and Christ both, and wonders what it would be like to watch the inevitable spread of Christianity on the planet. With that, the ship departs.
|Copyright Graham Kennedy||Page views : 939||Last updated : 1 Dec 2013|