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The Retirement of Admiral Kirk is a Star Trek: The Original Series comic strip by Gerry Conway. It is the 19th story in the US Comic Strips series, published in newspapers over a period of 61 days (nine weeks) by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. This story depicts events after Captain Kirk's second five-year mission but before TOS movie: The Wrath of Khan. In this story, when Kirk is suddenly grounded, he signs on to command a Free Trader ship.


On stardate 9640.1, the Enterprise returns to drydock and Admiral Yaramoto permanently grounds Admiral Kirk. He doesn't take it well, resigning his commission. He and McCoy order drinks at a bar in the city and talk about Kirk's future. Overhearing them, Morbus, owner of the Free Trader ship Orion, approaches and offers Kirk command of that ship. They look it over. McCoy calls it a junk heap, but as Kirk doesn't have a better offer from Starfleet, he accepts. Kirk says he is doing the only thing he can do. "In that case," McCoy says, "I'm going with you," suggesting he'll also resign his commission.


After Orion launches, Morbus gives Kirk and McCoy a tour. The cargo hold, he says, is full of farm equipment bound for Epsilon-21. Suspicious, McCoy sneaks in and opens one of the containers, then is knocked unconscious from behind by Lugo, who is guarding the cargo. Lugo brings Kirk to the cargo bay, showing him the injured McCoy, who "hit his head on a pipe." Concerned he might have a skull fracture, Kirk takes McCoy to the ship's sickbay. McCoy will recover, but the ship's doctor says McCoy will be sedated until they arrive at Epsilon-21.

Onboard the Enterprise, Scott is stunned that Kirk has become a free trader, and feels that Spock's stoic acceptance makes him seem heartless. Spock checks into Orion. Starfleet reports "irregularities" with its registration.

Meanwhile, aboard Orion, Kirk spot-inspects the engine room as a distraction to set a timed engine overload. Then he creeps into the cargo hold and kayos Lugo. As he opens a container to reveal a cargo of humanoids, Morbus appears from the shadows with three officers, ready to kill Kirk. Morbus used Kirk's reputation as an admiral to get the ship cleared, but now that their slave trading has been exposed, Kirk will be killed. Kirk says he rigged the engines to blow in one hour if the correct abort code isn't sent, but Morbus counters by having Lugo drag McCoy into the room, and pointing out that if Morbus dies, so will Kirk, McCoy and the slaves.

Outwitted, Kirk and McCoy are sealed into one of the slave containers. Morbus keeps the two alive in case they are needed before they get to Epsilon-21. Their helmsman reports the Enterprise approaching.

Captain's log, USS Enterprise, stardate 9652.3.
Spock reporting, in command. I have fired a warning shot across the bow of the free-trader Orion and have ordered them to heave to or risk annihilation.

The slaves reveal themselves to Kirk and McCoy as something else entirely. The leader of the Maroni reveals they are both empathic and telepathic, and for the past century the ancient race has passed themselves off as slaves while they observe and learn about other races. Ready to act, all of the Maroni join into one telepathic, unified mind and reach into the hearts of Orion's crew, showing them how to feel compassion for others.

On the bridge, Morbus orders Kirk to call off the Enterprise. Kirk sticks to his guns, saying the Enterprise crew know their duty, and will fire if Morbus does not heave to. Panicked, Morbus reaches out to his crew, but they've had a change of heart and have changed sides. Just in case, Kirk calls Spock, reporting everything is under control. The Maroni leader tells Kirk he needn't have bothered, since they have been in telepathic contact with Spock since before Orion had launched.

Captain's log, USS Enterprise, stardate 9652.6.
Admiral Kirk providing supervisory supplemental. Starfleet Command has confirmed my return to active duty status, though Spock retains command of the Enterprise. They have... congratulated us for our handling of the Orion affair... but frankly, I'm still personally confused by the outcome.

Back aboard the Enterprise, Kirk is confused that Spock hadn't taken any action to stop the slave trade on Orion, but Spock replies that the Maroni had telepathically told him that Kirk had everything under control. Kirk seems satisfied the affair is over, but McCoy wonders if Kirk has forgotten that his future eventually involves a ground assignment, or if Kirk just doesn't want to remember.



James T. KirkSpockLeonard McCoyMontgomery ScottHikaru SuluNyota UhuraYaramotoMorbusLugoOrion's Chief EngineerOrion's HelmsmanOrion's DoctorMaroni leader

Starships and vehicles

USS EnterpriseFree Trader freighter Orion


Earth (San FranciscoStarfleet CommandStarport BarStarport)
Referenced only

Races and cultures


States and organizations


Science and technology


Ranks and titles

Chief EngineerDoctor

Other references

cargo unitsempathicmain enginesregistration filesRigelian Krysstelepathic


Published Order
Previous comic:
#18: "Terminally Yours"
Star Trek: The Original Series
(US Comic Strips)
Next comic:
#20: "Getting Real"
Previous story:
"Terminally Yours"
Stories by:
Gerry Conway
Next story:
"Getting Real"
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
"Terminally Yours"
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
"Getting Real"



  • The story's title was printed on August 13, 1983, the day before the story began.
  • This was the fourth of five stories written by Gerry Conway, famous for co-creating Marvel's Punisher and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man comic book. Conway wrote the final arc in the strip series, creating a period when Admiral Kirk revisited the Enterprise before the events of TOS movie: The Wrath of Khan.
  • This story followed shortly after the previous one, based on the stardates. The rationale for Gerry Conway's stories being set in 2279 was presented in the article for TOS comic: "Send in the Clones".
  • Admiral Yaramoto previously appeared in TOS comic: "Send in the Clones", assigning Kirk to the Enterprise for a sensitive diplomatic mission.
  • Free Traders were encountered before in the strip series. They were mentioned in TOS comic: "The Wristwatch Plantation", traders and a large pirate ship were encountered in Free Trader Lanes in TOS comic: "The Nogura Regatta", and merchants feuded in TOS comic: "A Merchant's Loyalty".
  • The free trader ship Orion had a crew of about 14. Six were visible in the engine room, three on the bridge, one in the cargo hold, one doctor, plus Kirk, McCoy and the owner.
  • The races of Morbus, Lugo, Orion's Chief Engineer, Orion's Helmsman, and Orion's Doctor were not named in the story.

Related stories

  • TOS comic: "The Nogura Regatta" – Starfleet cadets were held for ransom aboard a pirate Free Trader Ship intent on attacking Federation starships.


External links