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Dilithium Dilemma is a Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip. It is the second story in the US Comic Strips series, published by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. The story was set after TOS movie: The Motion Picture, depicting events from Captain Kirk's second five-year mission aboard the refurbished USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).

In this story, written and drawn by Thomas Warkentin, a Klingon battle cruiser complicates the crew’s desperate mission to replace the ship’s fused dilithium crystals. It continued directly from the previous story, "Called Home".


Captain's Log: Stardate 7495.3.
The recent drain upon our dilithium reserves critically limits our range and capability. The Enterprise is marginally operational.

The ship is more than four years away from the nearest starbase at sub-warp speed, but nine days away from Forma VI, site of a colony and an old dilithium mine.

Considering their options

Captain's Log: Stardate 7504.3.

On the threshold of total burnout our dilithium reserves, we are enroute to Forma VI, in the hope of replenishing our supply from a played out mine there.

Captain's Log: Stardate 7504.4.

Our dilithium supply nearly exhausted, we are en route to Forma VI to replenish our supply. Rather than reveal our limited capability to Klingons already in orbit, we are using the last of our reserves to approach at warp speed.
Captain's Log: Stardate 7504.41.
The Klingons have left orbit at our warp speed approach. We have made contact with the Forma VI colony, and received permission to land a party.

Forma VI colonists

The Klingon ship leaves at impulse speed. Janice Rand reports power reserves too low to trust the transporter, so James T. Kirk, Spock, Leonard McCoy, Hikaru Sulu and Arcturian mining engineer Ensign Taskul land a shuttle near the colony. The colonists say the Klingons have searched the mine and failed to find any dilithium there. Sulu had requested to be on the landing party in order to see the planet's famous flora, so the female colonist takes McCoy and Sulu on a guided tour of the area. Meanwhile, two Klingons remaining on the planet, Krax and Koth, first officer of the Kandar, watch from nearby woods.

At the mine, Taskul tells Kirk, Spock and another colonist that "every known detection technique" had not located dilithium. Then they hear crying, run to discover a bound Human baby, and find themselves surrounded by five Klingons. After taking their phasers and communicators, Koth demands dilithium in exchange for their lives, and threatens to use an agonizer on him.

An old, wrecked Klingon cruiser

At the end of their tour, the female colonist brings Sulu and McCoy to a Klingon D7 class battlecruiser that had crashed before she'd been born. McCoy reports to Kirk that they've found dilithium aboard a wrecked Klingon ship a few kilometers downriver, unaware he is being overheard. Spock realizes their value as hostages had ended, and quickly wrenches wires from an electrical junction box to plunge the mine into darkness, allowing them to evade their captors and flee outside.

Captain's Log: Stardate 7504.7.
Chief Engineer Scott recording. In order to beam up a quantity of dilithium found by Doctor McCoy and Helmsman Sulu, we are tapping residual charge from ship's phasers for a single-surge boost directly into the transporter.

Meanwhile, the baby is reunited with its parents, who tell them that the Klingon group has already been there, smashed their radio, and taken a boat. Unable to communicate with Sulu and McCoy, Kirk, Spock and Taskul pursue in another boat.

Captain Kodrash

In orbit, the battlecruiser returns. Kodrash, captain of the Klingon cruiser, says his landing party has captured three of Scotty's shipmates. They will be returned in exchange for dilithium. Scotty replies he'll blow up their ship if Kodrash doesn't return them in one hour. Kodrash says that is "preferable to returning to the Empire later than ordered."

Sensing trouble, Sulu pushes the female colonist and McCoy away from a sudden Klingon ambush. They hear phaser fire, then silence, then Chekov calling them. Chekov had beamed down with five security officers and captured the Klingons. Arriving afterwards, Kirk congratulates them all. Once back on the ship, Chekov suggests that Kirk not beam down in future without a security escort.

On the bridge, Kirk tells Kodrash he is returning the Klingon landing party in a travel pod, along with enough dilithium to get them back to the Empire. But once it is launched, suspecting a trick, the Klingons shoot down the pod, killing their own people and destroying the dilithium, then leave orbit on impulse power.



Pavel ChekovIliaJames T. KirkKodrashKothKraxLeonard McCoyJanice RandMontgomery ScottSpockHikaru SuluTaskulNyota UhuraForma VI colonistsunnamed Humansunnamed Klingons

Starships and vehicles

powered boatUSS Enterprise (Constitution-class) • IKS Kandar (Klingon D7-class heavy cruiser) • Klingon wrecked cruisershuttlecrafttravel pod


Forma VI
Referenced only
Romulan-Klingon Neutral Zone

Races and cultures

Referenced only

States and organizations

FederationKlingon EmpireStarfleet

Science and technology

agonizerbinocularscircuitrycommunicatordilithiumdisruptorfifth cranial nerveimpulse powerjunction boxnavi-computerphaserradiosensortractor beamtransportertricorderwarp enginewarp threewarp fiveweather satelliteyear

Ranks and titles

captainchief engineercommanderdoctorensignfirst officerlieutenantmining engineerFederation Starfleet ranks (2270s)

Other references

battle stationsbombbridgebrigbotanycolonydilithiumfloragoldhostageJovian frost-mossleadlogicmetermilitaryminingorbitoreOrganian Peace Treatysecurity teamshuttlestarbaseStarfleet uniform (early 2270s)starshiptransporter roomwar


Published Order
Previous comic:
#1: "Called Home"
Star Trek: The Original Series
(US Comic Strips)
Next comic:
#3: "The Real McCoy"
Previous story:
"Called Home"
Stories by:
Thomas Warkentin
Next story:
"The Real McCoy"
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
"Called Home"
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
"Tomorrow or Yesterday"


Related stories


  • An inadvertent continuity error occurred when Kirk and Ilia discussed the ship’s location relative to the nearest starbase in two panels of the strip published on Sunday, January 13, 1980. That strip was reprinted in The Newspaper Comics, Volume 1 on page 29. Why did she appear, when Ilia had been killed in TOS movie: The Motion Picture? Writer/artist Warkentin produced this story prior to the release of the film. According to ST reference: New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, Warkentin worked from stills of the bridge crew provided by Paramount, and his widow, Rosie Warkentin Ford, stated that he didn't know Ilia had died in the movie until he saw it opening night. Ilia had appeared without a speaking role in two panels of the previous story, "Called Home". This was her final appearance in the comic strip series.
  • When the landing party was surrounded in the mine, five Klingons could be seen in the distance in a panel published on February 2, 1980. But when the Klingon troops drove a four-man boat to the wreck, only four Klingons were shown, leaving one Klingon unaccounted for.
  • Kodrash cursed in Klingonese in the strip published March 2, 1980. While Nyota Uhura didn't know what it meant, Kirk did.


External links