The galaxy is on fire, and only the Enterprise can save it.


The Sackers. In all of Captain James T. Kirk's travels, he has never found a race more universally shunned and abhorred. Their mere appearance causes most Federation members to become violently ill.
Now the Sackers have performed a deed whose brutally matches their horrifying exterior. They have stolen a revolutionary new scientific device—murdering an entire race in the process—and used it to create a rip in the fabric of space, a hole through which another universe is rapidly leaking. Unless Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise can find a way to stop the new universe's expansion, it will consume—and utterly destroy—our own.


The Enterprise has been sent to investigate an explosion of intense heat in the Beta Castelli system, which has obliterated the homeworld of the Zirgosians. It resembles the state of a universe three minutes old. Since the only surviving Zirgosians are a colony on Holox, the Enterprise heads there. The crew discover some of the colonists have been poisoned and one of the survivors identifies the culprits: the Sackers.

The Sackers are a historically peaceful race whose physical attributes are repulsive to other races: Their appearances and smell make humanoids extremely ill - and worse, Sacker speech deafens, and their touch burns. They have established a structure on Helox which Scotty takes a team to investigate. The Sackers kill two security guards and badly burn a third, but leave Scotty alive when they learn that he is an engineer.

The Sackers agree to meet with Kirk, Chekov and Uhura for peace talks but this is a ruse to beam them aboard their ship and leave orbit. Scotty has also been brought onboard and the Sackers reveal their command personnel were killed in an accident: They want Kirk to captain their ship and the others to train personnel in their own specialities.

In fact, the accident was a drop in temperature which killed all the adults, leaving the children in charge. The adults caused the disaster in Beta Castelli, stealing both the machine which created the rupture and the machine that could steal it from the Zirgosians. The children attacked Helox in order to set up a birthing cradle for replacements. With this knowledge, Kirk and the others seek to undermine their morale and subtly sabotage the ship.

The Sackers reveal their plan: Their homeworld died long ago and they sought out a replacement, only to be rejected by every world they visited because of their appearance. Thus, they plan to take over the Federation, which they will force to co-exist with them. Sacker ships are poised to take over all starbases: If Starfleet Command does not surrender, the rupture will go unchecked.

Kirk is able to direct the Enterprise to fire on the engineering section and takes control of the ship after threatening to reduce the temperature again. The baryon reverter that can seal the rupture is transferred to the Enterprise. The other Sacker ships disperse when the plan fails, and Kirk recommends that the Sacker adolescents (who reveal their species' real name is the Vinithi) be sent to a juvenile rehabilitation centre for re-education. The Enterprise returns to the Beta Castelli system and seals the rupture.

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BabeBerengariaBlueBonesovnaBrownieChristine ChapelPavel ChekovChingDorelianFranklinGreenHrolfsonIrisIvanJonquilJames T. KirkKyleLeonard McCoyMisterma'amOrangejuiceandwodkaPinkyQuinlanRasputinRoseMontgomery ScottSpockHikaru SuluBorkel Mershaya ev SymwidTootsTruccoNyota UhuraWittering
Referenced only 
Rube GoldbergT'iana

Starships and vehiclesEdit

Babe in ArmsUSS Enterprise (Constitution-class) • hovercraft


Argelius IIBeta CastelliBeta Castelli IBeta Castelli IIBeta Castelli IVDeep Space Station K-7ElasGelchenHoloxPlatoniusSector 79FStarbase 4TriskelionZirgos

Races and culturesEdit

ElasianGelcheniteHumanKlingonVinithi (Sacker) • VulcanZirgosian

States and organizationsEdit

Gelchen Transgalactic Trade CommissionKlingon EmpireStarfleetStarfleet CommandUnited Federation of Planets

Science and technologyEdit

air-circulation systemalienalkaloidantidotebaryonbaryon reverterbloodbraincommunicatorcomputercryptoanalysisdeflector dishdilithiumdiseasedisplay screeneardrumeyelidfireG class stargroup mindheliumhourhydrogenintercommachineminutemortarorbitphoton grenadeplagueplasmicophic ferangulatorpoisonprobeproqualinepulserecord bankREM sleepsensor arraysonic hypnosis-inducerstarstar systemstomachsupernovatimetranslator devicetricordertridocanetympanic membraneuniverseviewscreen

Ranks and titlesEdit

captaindoctorlieutenanttradertransporter chief

Other referencesEdit

alphidiumborschtbriefing roomchicken Kievcolonyconference roomdaydilithium reactor roomdreamfoodhomeworldhullImmelmann turnintensive carelanding partylanguagemain sequenceplanetsickbaytreeuniformwateryearzyroplex


This was Barbara Paul's only Star Trek novel. The cover artist is uncredited. The title refers to the state of a universe that is only three minutes old.

Related StoriesEdit

The idea of another universe beginning within our own was later included in DS9 episode: "Playing God".



published order
Previous novel:
TOS numbered novels Next novel:
Memory Prime
Previous novel:
TOS novels Next novel:
Spock's World
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
Killing Time
Pocket Next Adventure:
The Cry of the Onlies
Previous Adventure:
Killing Time
Voyages of the
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
(2264 to 2270)
Next Adventure:
The Cry of the Onlies
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