- In the months since the defeat of the Romulan terrorist Nero, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise have embarked on a voyage of discovery that has taken them across the galaxy. They have explored strange new worlds, new civilizations... and encountered grave new threats to the security of the Federation.
- None greater than the one they face now.
- It's nice to have someone to talk to. Don't get me wrong, captain of a starship, best job in the galaxy, but...
- ... It can get lonely. The crew's great. But there's always that... Distance between us, you know? I get it. The nature of command. I guess it's companionship I'm talking about. And...
- ... And...
- ... And I'm talking about it to the ship's computer.
The Enterprise arrives at a planet called Phadeus, a planet with rings that surround it. Spock takes detailed scans of the planet and reports his findings. It is a class-M planet, and the last survey was done by a Starfleet ship five years prior. The survey reported that a civilization on the planet had entered into a level similar to that of the Roman Empire in Earth's history. Roughly thirty million people live there, and most of the population is concentrated in the southern hemisphere of the planet. Spock notes that it will most likely take a few thousand years before the civilization achieves the technological advances necessary for first contact.
Kirk is annoyed with Spock for his dry delivery and their mission to just survey the planet from orbit, and he is even further annoyed when Spock wants to take scans of the unusual composition of the rings. Kirk suggests that they should take a look from the ground level, but Spock objects to the order, saying that while studying the Phadeans up close is tempting, their arrival would almost certainly alter the course of their evolution. Kirk is just eager to get his legs stretched, and Spock suggests he take his leg stretching to the Officer's Rec deck instead, but Kirk dismisses it as a joke and doesn't buy it. Just then, Chekov reports that some kind of high-frequency energy field is originating from the surface. Uhura then reports that whatever the field is, it is disrupting communications and Scotty reports that he doesn't recommend using the transporters. Kirk then orders Chekov to pinpoint where the field is coming from and says they'll have to use a shuttle to check it out. Spock starts to remind Kirk of the Prime Directive, but Kirk is quick to counter saying that someone is giving the planet an evolutionary boost and wants to know who and why it's happening. He gives Sulu the conn, and he reminds Spock that the Prime Directive is no longer relevant.
Kirk assures Spock that he doesn't intend to attract attention to themselves and asks him to join the landing party. Spock joins, provided that Kirk doesn't further violate the Prime Directive, to which Kirk agrees. Sulu then rushes to the turbolift, saying that since the whole incident with the Archons went south, he wishes to pilot the shuttlecraft and thinks they could use his skills. Kirk allows him to join, and puts Uhura in charge of the Enterprise. Uhura objects to it, saying that it is not wise to have Kirk and Spock leave while their communications are compromised, and Spock concurs with her concern. Kirk reassures her it is just a recon mission and will be back before they know it.
The landing party consisting of Kirk, Spock, Hendorff and Sulu make their way to the surface. Spock detects a small concentration of settlements and announces they should set down somewhere away from it, but then the shuttle is attacked by an unknown source. Sulu is ordered to find a place to set down immediately, but then a direct hit disables the shuttle and crashes on the surface. Everyone ends up okay but Sulu has a severe concussion, and while Hendorff has stabilized his condition, Spock reports that they must return him to sickbay as soon as possible. Kirk wants to know what has hit them, and Spock says he detected nothing prior to the attack and says they must be well hidden from scans. Spock suggests they remain close to the shuttle and try to contact the Enterprise, but Kirk refuses to sit idly by. He wants to find who or what did this and as soon as they find out, the better. Kirk suggests Spock go with him so they can attract attention away from Sulu and the shuttle, but as soon as they try to move away from the shuttle, a phaser beam's warning shot stops them. Kirk keeps his phaser holstered as numerous alien creatures surrounds them. One of the aliens uses a tricorder and orders them to identify themselves. Kirk speaks, wondering how they got a hold of old-style Federation technology and if they were the ones who attacked them. The alien refuses to answer, and asks for Kirk to identify themselves. He introduces himself and starts to ask again where they got the weapons and tricorder, but then a man in the shadows interrupts him, saying that he was the one who gave them the technology. The man identifies himself as Robert April, former captain of a ship called Enterprise...
- Robert April • Pavel Chekov • Amanda Grayson • Hendorff • Keenser • James T. Kirk • Sarek • Spock • Hikaru Sulu • Nyota Uhura
Starships and vehicles
Races and cultures
States and organizations
Science and technology
- bridge • captain • first contact • katric ark • lieutenant • logic • Personal Log • Prime Directive • quarters • shore leave • sickbay • transporter room
- TOS comic: "The Return of the Archons" - Sulu mentions the events on Beta III were the last time he went planetside.
- TOS movie: Star Trek - Spock dreams of alternate versions of the events at Vulcan.
- This story takes Place Presumably right after TOS video game: Star Trek. When the Enterprise is ordered to Nibiru for a humanitarian mission but is recalled to Phaedus. in the end of Countdown to Darkness Part 4, Alexander Marcus orders Kirk to Nibiru as originally ordered.
First issue of the miniseries
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Countdown to Darkness, Number Two