(written from a Production point of view)
This summary is of a story arc from the newspaper comic strip Star Trek.
Two young boys, Malcolm and Joey are playing a video game. They finish, leave the arcade, and as they pass by an alley see James T. Kirk, Spock, and Montgomery Scott materialize wearing 20th century American clothing. The men notice the boys, who enthusiastically come up to them asking for autographs. Spock asks them who the boys think they are. The boys immediately answer: Admiral Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Scotty. Kirk wonders how they could know them back on twentieth century Earth, and they boys say they watch them on TV all the time, pointing to a poster advertising Star Trek. Joey has figured it out and pulls his friend away, saying that the men are not actors, but "the real thing!"
The boys run, and Kirk remarks that they can't let them get away as their mission depends on absolute secrecy. The boys are stopped by a police officer, who does not believe their stories of spacemen. Nor does he believe them when they say Mr. Spock is about to give him a nerve pinch. Having rendered the officer unconscious, Spock takes the boys to the roof of a building. They discuss what to do with the boys, and the boys themselves request to be taken to the Enterprise. Joey is reluctant, but to no avail.
Beaming aboard, the boys are told they will have to remain as their knowledge could affect history. They also discover the reason for the ship's presence: to shoot down a NASA shuttle with a photon torpedo. That is why they were on Earth, to check and make sure they had the right date in 1983. Malcolm attacks Kirk at this news and Spock gives him a nerve pinch. While Malcolm is unconscious, Kirk allows as how he understands the boy's anger. "How can I explain to that boy, Spock – that destroying a NASA space shuttle is actually an act of mercy?" History shows that a microbe entering the shuttle Icarus infected the Earth and wiped out half the population of Florida.
Dr. McCoy attempts to explain this all to the boys in sickbay when Joey discovers a hypo labeled "sedative". He grabs it and injects McCoy. The boys then put on uniforms, which hang all over them as they are much too large. They are spotted on their way to the shuttlecraft deck, and Kirk races down to find out what they are doing there.
What they are doing is launching themselves in a shuttle. Malcolm is elated, comparing flying a shuttle to a video game. It is then that Spock reveals that his research shows that this is a parallel universe, whose history is different from that which Kirk is familiar. Sensors, for instance, confirm that the deadly microbe exists, but that it ages much more rapidly than in their world. The microbe will thus be harmless by the time it returns to Earth, which means they do not have to shoot down the shuttle. The boys, however, are about to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. With a sigh Kirk orders Spock to rescue them. A tractor beam is locked on and the boys are brought on board again. Kirk tells the boys they were right, and promises not to shoot down any shuttle on this or any other world. Malcolm and Joey are overjoyed. They are also returned home, since without the shuttle incident the boys have nothing to prove their story. Wearing a "Star Trek Lives" shirt, the boys return to the video arcade where the games, at least, "don't disappear on you."
"These guys aren't actors from the TV show, Mal... they're the real thing!"
- - Joey, recognizing that the Starfleet officers are not actors
"It seems to me you gentlemen had an unrealistic view of heroism."
- - McCoy, lecturing the boys regarding their loss of confidence in the crew's good intentions
This was the final story arc for the run of the comic strip. This last entry is not as tightly plotted as some others, though. For instance, when the landing party first arrives, Spock is not hiding his ears in any way; they could have easily checked the date from orbit by listening to broadcasts; and Kirk rather cavalierly decides to disregard orders and not destroy any shuttles even in his own timeline. This mission is unusual in that the ship is actually attempting to change history this time, not restore it. The idea of the crew beaming down to an Earth where their lives are duplicated on a television show had been a staple of fanzines for years, sort of a reverse "Mary Sue" or "Mary Jane" story (wherein someone acting as a stand-in for the author finds out the Enterprise is real in a parallel universe). What is disappointing is that so little of the story arc was devoted to the crew finding out about the show that portrayed them so accurately.
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