- Spock, Doctor McCoy and the other crewmen of the starship Enterprise experience a stunning double shock. The first, painful blow is Captain Kirk's tragic death. Then, Captain Kirk's miraculous rebirth reveals the most awesome force the Enterprise has ever encountered. Spock is forced into a desperate gamble for Kirk's Human soul against Omne—the ultrahuman emperor of life beyond life, and death beyond Hell.
- A nerve-shattering voyage into unknown terror with the starship Enterprise.
The USS Enterprise had been sent to investigate Omne, an alien genius with anti-Federation sentiments who has invited thousands of rogue elements from hundreds of worlds to his private planet, possibly to form an alliance against the Federation. While meeting with Omne, Captain James T. Kirk tried to save a woman and her baby from a house fire and was killed.
Kirk's body is beamed aboard the Enterprise. Spock beams down to the planet, meets up with the Romulan Commander, who had been sent to the planet on behalf of the Romulan Empire, and together they confront Omne. However, the alien reveals that he has developed technology that can create a duplicate of a living person—and he offers Spock a recent copy of Kirk, recorded shortly before his death. Spock, skeptical of the authenticity of this Kirk, is allowed to mind meld with the duplicate, whom Spock decides to call "James" to differentiate between the duplicate and the original. Spock verifies that the duplicate's mind is identical to Kirk's, and accepts Omne's offer, which will also require Spock to betray the Federation.
The Commander accompanies James back to his room, where they discover that the original Kirk is alive, having sustained only minor injuries in the fire before being beamed to Omne's lair and replaced by a duplicate. Omne brutally beats Kirk, attempting to break his spirit, but Kirk is discovered by Spock, James and the Commander, who locate Kirk through Spock's mind-link with Kirk.
After a chase through Omne's labyrinthine complex, Spock fights Omne hand-to-hand, defeating him after a brutal battle in which they are both gravely injured. He forces a mind meld on Omne in an attempt to remove all memory of his experiences with Kirk, but before he can finish, Omne shoots himself in the head.
Spock, Kirk, James and the Commander beam to the Enterprise, knowing that Omne is not dead, but will have used his technology to resurrect himself. In the meantime, they make plans for Omne's return and for James to start a new life elsewhere. James is surgically altered to pass for Romulan and is to accompany the Commander back to the Empire.
Before James and the Commander can depart, Omne beams aboard the Enterprise. He is in perfect physical condition, while his opponents are still recovering from their injuries. Omne briefly fights and defeats everyone present, and takes James hostage with a gun at his head. Kirk stalls Omne long enough for Scotty to transport Omne's weapon out of his hand. Omne is surprised long enough for the Commander to get James away from him, and Kirk shoots Omne with one of his own guns, outdrawing him… but Omne's body is transported away.
- James (duplicate) • James T. Kirk • Jabilo M'Benga • Leonard McCoy • Omne • the Romulan Commander • Montgomery Scott • Spock • Nyota Uhura
- Referenced only
- Alexander the Great • Leonardo da Vinci • Flint • Amanda Grayson • Sherlock Holmes • Calamity Jane • Edith Keeler • Miramanee • Pygmalion • Rayna • Sarek • Surak • Che'srik Tal (also called S'Tal) • T'Pau
Starships and vehicles
- Front Street • Omne's planet • sickbay
- Referenced only
- Australia • Babel • Deneb V • Dodge City • Earth • Heaven • Hell • Last Chance Saloon • Romulan Neutral Zone • Tholian sector • Vulcan
Races and cultures
States and organizations
- Referenced only
- Romulan Empire
Science and technology
- android • anesthetic • anti-grav lift • antiseptic • atomic bomb • autopsy • bullet • calculator • Colt revolver • communicator • gravity • gun • hypospray • immortality • intercom • metabolic accelerator • mirror • phaser • Phoenix Process • sensor • shields • spray can • telepath • transporter • tricorder • turbolift • viewscreen
Ranks and titles
- baboon • bar • bear • book • bridge • candle • cat • disposal chute • emotion • English language • flower • Frankenstein • Geneva convention • ghost • glove • Great Age of Deneb V • Greek • horse • hospital • jeans • laboratory • liquor • logic • mind-touch • murder • Pandora's box • phoenix • poker • Prime Directive • quiva • Renaissance • riddle • security • silk • slavery • Starfleet uniform • suicide • transporter room • tribble • trillium • tunic • Vulcan language • Vulcanoid • Wild West • wolf • yellow alert • zombie
- The events of this story occur in the space of one day.
- M'Benga only appears in Chapter 1, and Uhura only in Chapters 1 and 20. Neither have any dialogue.
- With the relative peace between the Federation and Romulan ships visiting Omne's world, it could be assumed this novel takes place following Black Fire, where the Romulan Commander was still a bit angrier at Spock in her cameo. This would presuppose that the uniform changes in that story were not permanent, however, since the TOS style uniforms are in use in this story, or that the two stories might not take place in the same continuity.
- While most of the various printings bear cover art using the TOS uniforms and Enterprise, the Italian language version, Il Prezzo Della Fenice, does show Kirk, Spock and the ship as they appeared in the movie era, a contradiction to the descriptions in the story.
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Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath
Star Trek: The New Voyages 2
The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume 2
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To Err Is Vulcan
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