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"I hadn't expected to take us into combat, you know."
– Montgomery Scott, 2285 (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

The Battle of Genesis was an incident in Klingon and Federation history. This confrontation took place in 2285 and involved the crew of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, under the command of Kruge, entering conflict with Starfleet forces in orbit and on the surface of the planet Genesis.

Although a brief space battle was fought between the Klingon Bird-of-Prey and the USS Enterprise, the encounter was mainly a battle of wills between Kruge and the Enterprise's commanding officer, Admiral James T. Kirk. The Klingons' part in the battle was motivated by a conviction that the Genesis Device, which the Federation had recently developed, was a weapon designed to render the Klingons extinct, so Commander Kruge was desperate to learn "the secret" of what he called "the Genesis torpedo". On the other hand, Kirk and his subordinate officers were compelled by the prospect of returning, to the planet Vulcan, their friend and fellow Starfleet officer Captain Spock, who they had thought was dead but whom had recently been regenerated.

The confrontation resulted in the deaths of Kirk's son, David Marcus, and all of Kruge's crew except for one officer. The incident also led to the destruction of the Enterprise and the Federation science vessel USS Grissom, plus the capture of the Bird-of-Prey and its sole surviving crew member. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)


In relative privacy aboard the Enterprise during the final moments of the Battle of the Mutara Nebula, Captain Spock quickly mind melded with the starship's chief medical officer, Doctor Leonard McCoy. Spock thereby left his katra in McCoy's brain, unbeknownst to McCoy, prior to Spock sacrificing his own life in order to save the ship from the detonation of the Genesis Device, a terraforming invention that instantly created the Genesis Planet. After holding a funeral for Spock, the Enterprise left his body behind on the planet's surface. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Kruge's Bird-of-Prey destroys the Merchantman

The Klingons were highly interested in the Genesis Planet, so Kruge sent Valkris, who was romantically involved with him, on a mission to acquire data about it. After Valkris obtained the information and hired a merchant vessel, she rendezvoused with Kruge's Bird-of-Prey. When he discovered that she had viewed the data, however, Kruge regretfully chose to destroy the freighter, considering that as his only option, which she honorably accepted. Destroying her vessel, the Bird-of-Prey then engaged its cloaking device as it proceeded to the Federation neutral zone.

This precursor to the Battle of Genesis was scripted to be identified, with an on-screen caption, as taking place "somewhere in Organian space", though no such caption appears in the final version of the film. [1] Although the comic book adaptation of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock also sets the action "somewhere in Organian space…," the novelization of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock describes the setting more vaguely, as "the gray area between set borders." Industrial Light & Magic Art Director Nilo Rodis described the confrontation as "a derelict, used-up, beat up, tin boat" being destroyed by a "German U-Boat." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 51) The scene was commonly excluded from TV broadcasts of the movie. (Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 70)

When the Enterprise returned to Spacedock, Admiral Kirk learned that the starship was to be decommissioned due to its extreme age and that the Genesis Planet was now declared forbidden territory by the Federation, even though the Enterprise crew had hoped to return there. The subject of the recently initiated planet had become a galactic controversy that the Federation Council was yet to make policy about.

Kruge learns about Genesis

Meanwhile, Kruge and two of his officers, Torg and Maltz, watched the Genesis data – a recording presented by Admiral Kirk – which impressed Kruge's men though Kruge himself regarded Genesis as an insidious Federation plot and "ultimate power". Even while emissaries from the Klingon Empire were negotiating for peace with the Federation, Kruge secretly planned to head to the Genesis Planet in an attempt to seize the secret of how Genesis was done. Klingon presence in that region would be a violation of the treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire as well as an act of war. Shortly after Kruge witnessed the Genesis data, starship Grissom, on stardate 8210.3, arrived at the Genesis Planet, there to study the newly-created world.

Both the novelization of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as well as the comic adaptation of the film feature the moment when Kruge's Bird-of-Prey is about to enter Federation space, a scene which isn't in the movie itself. Both publications set the moment immediately after Kruge and his officers watch the Genesis data. At the Klingon commander's instruction, the vessel engages its cloaking device in preparation for proceeding on the invasion course.

On Earth, Spock's father, Sarek, revealed to Kirk alone that Spock had had a katra, which the pair determined McCoy was now the keeper of. Sarek instructed Kirk to return to the Genesis Planet, so that Spock's body could be retrieved and then reunited with his katra at Mount Seleya on Vulcan.

Despite Sarek having asked Kirk to return to Genesis, Admiral Morrow restricts Kirk from doing so officially

An away team from the Grissom, comprised of Saavik and David Marcus, beamed down to explore the Genesis Planet. However, accessing the planet from Earth was made much more difficult. Though Kirk appealed to Fleet Admiral Morrow that he be permitted to return to the planet, the Federation Council had, by now, proclaimed that only the science team be allowed to go there. McCoy tried to informally arrange transport to the Genesis Planet, which resulted in him getting himself arrested by Federation Security. Gathering most of his senior staff, Kirk broke McCoy out of holding and stole the Enterprise, crippling the USS Excelsior via sabotage in the process of escaping from spacedock. Nevertheless, the Enterprise, bearing blackened marks on the hull, still had battle damage from having fought at the battle in the Mutara Nebula.

As the Enterprise started to race to the Genesis Planet, Saavik and David Marcus found, on the planet's surface, a young boy who seemed Vulcan. The pair of Grissom officers believed he was the resurrected Spock and that the Genesis wave had caused Spock's cells to regenerate.

Though Saavik asked for all three of them to be beamed back aboard the Grissom, the ship's captain, J.T. Esteban, was adamant that proper precautions be taken. The Grissom, still in orbit of Genesis, consequently tried to request permission from Starfleet, but the transmission was jammed by Kruge's cloaked Bird-of-Prey. The Federation craft initially couldn't identify the source of the jamming signal but could detect that it had just begun to emit an energy surge. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)


Arriving at Genesis, the Bird-of-Prey chases the Grissom, prepared to attack

Kruge's Bird-of-Prey, positioned aft of the Grissom, subsequently decloaked, much to Captain Esteban's shock. Aboard the Klingon vessel, Kruge ordered his gunner to target the Grissom's engine only. Esteban meanwhile notified Saavik that their ship was under attack and told his helm officer to standby to take evasive action. The Bird-of-Prey then fired a single photon torpedo at the Grissom, which entirely destroyed the vessel, causing it to explode.

The destruction of the Grissom was designed to be a quick, simple explosion. Industrial Light & Magic visual effects supervisor Kenneth Ralston recollected, "I didn't think we should do something flamboyant at that point [....] We tried to shoot some pyrotechnic stuff at the Cow Palace, but I wasn't happy with what I was getting. I wanted something cleaner and more sanitized, so it's just a light – a Deathstar kind of explosion. I think we ended up pulling some stock explosions." (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 54)

The assault on the Grissom was considered by the Bird-of-Prey's gunner to have been "a lucky shot" but it angered Kruge to the point of killing the gunner, frustrated that he hadn't had an opportunity to take prisoners from the ship's crew. Him declaring that this had been his intention inspired Torg to report to Kruge that there were members of the Grissom's crew on the planet's surface, news Kruge welcomed with delight.

All the while, Saavik had been trying to reestablish communications with the Grissom, though she eventually speculated to David Marcus that the ship had seemingly been eliminated in an enemy attack and that the assailants would soon come after them. The Enterprise's skeleton crew was not yet aware of the Grissom's destruction, but did determine that there were no vessels pursuing them.

Kruge beamed to the planet's surface with two other Klingon officers. Elsewhere on the planet, David Marcus divulged to Saavik that he had used dangerously unstable protomatter in the Genesis matrix. They realized, after night fell in the area of the planet's surface where the two opposing teams were, that both the planet and the young Spock were aging in surges, which, in the case of the planet, meant Genesis had mere hours before it would destroy itself.

The drastic potentialities of the Genesis Device, including the danger of the Klingons acquiring its methodology and using it for destructive purposes, led Harve Bennett to make the narrative decision that Genesis was an inviable failed experiment. (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 268; Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 120) Leonard Nimoy commented, "When the idea came up that it was an imperfect creation, that it was gonna degenerate, that gave us a ticking time bomb in this story that we had to beat; we've gotta save Spock before the Genesis Planet destroys itself." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)/(Blu-ray) special features) It was Gene Roddenberry's secretary Susan Sackett who proposed the notion that Spock's rapid aging might mirror the instability of the newly formed planet. (The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years, p. 442; Inside Trek: My Secret Life with Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry) She recommended this concept, along with the idea of having Spock be resurrected by means of the Genesis effect (which she also thought up), to Roddenberry, who then forwarded it to the film's writer, Harve Bennett. (Inside Trek: My Secret Life with Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry)

Saavik and David Marcus also began to detect the Klingons approaching, though the pair weren't able to identify who the newcomers were. Saavik was about to leave to meet them when David stopped her and volunteered to go himself. He asked her for her phaser and she obliged, prior to him departing.

A.C. Crispin observed a "major flaw" with this moment, which "a friend pointed out" to her. This "problem" was specifically that – because Saavik was the only Starfleet officer present, whereas David Marcus was a civilian scientist – "hunting the enemies of the Federation who had destroyed her ship was more properly her duty, than it was David's," in Crispin's words. (Starlog, issue 88, p. 37)

When the Enterprise picked up that Starfleet was trying to hail the Grissom but that there was no response, Kirk wondered if the Grissom would respond kindly to the arrival of the Enterprise or fire on the ship. The Enterprise started, therefore, attempting to contact the Grissom too but soon arrived, itself, at the Genesis sector, at which time the Enterprise came out of warp and continued at impulse. It was identified by the Bird-of-Prey as a "Federation battle cruiser" but hadn't, in turn, scanned the Klingon ship, so Torg, commanding the Bird-of-Prey, ordered that his craft be cloaked. This took place, although Pavel Chekov, on board the Enterprise, felt certain that he had seen, very briefly, a scout class vessel in the area. Considering that this may have actually been the Grissom, Kirk began trying to hail the ship personally.

Saavik, David Marcus, and the teenaged Spock, taken prisoner by Kruge's scouting party

On the surface of Genesis, the next morning, Saavik and a now-teenaged Spock were asleep when the Klingon away team found them. The two Klingons who were accompanying Kruge wakened the Vulcan pair suddenly and forced them to sit on the ground alongside David Marcus, who now bore bruises on the left side of his face. Having come a long way in his quest for Genesis, Kruge was disappointed with the quality of the prisoners. Saavik respectfully told him that Genesis was a failed experiment, which he highly doubted. He threatened her that, unless she disclosed to him the secret details of Genesis' composition, she would be painfully tortured, this despite the fact that she had claimed to know nothing relevant to his objective.

Saavik actress Robin Curtis commented about the situation faced by her own character as well as the two other prisoners, "It became a matter of survival and life, bonding together the three of them against the Klingons." (Starlog, issue 116, p. 24)
In the text commentary for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Michael and Denise Okuda point out that, when he threatens Saavik with torture, Kruge "seems unaware that Vulcans discipline themselves to control pain," a form of discipline which, obviously, neither the untrained Spock nor David Marcus would have undergone.

Even though Kruge had directed no interruptions be made to the Klingons' away mission, Torg disobeyed this command in order to alert him to the Enterprise's arrival. While Kirk persisted with endeavoring to contact the Grissom, Kruge beamed back up to the still-cloaked Bird-of-Prey, arriving to find that the Enterprise was 5000 kellicams away and closing at impulse; the tactical situation pleased him greatly.

Kirk spots the cloaked Bird-of-Prey

Whereas Chekov searched the vicinity using a scanner and wasn't able to find any other craft, Sulu displayed the planet and adjacent starfield on the Enterprise's viewscreen and, as Kruge made last-minute preparations for the Bird-of-Prey to fire on the Enterprise, finally caught sight, along with Kirk, of a visual distortion near the planet.

In an audio commentary for the film, Michael Taylor complained that he had a "quibble" with how the Enterprise officers are initially baffled by the visual distortion, not recognizing it as the telltale sign of a cloaking device, as they had encountered cloaking devices in Star Trek: The Original Series. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)

The Bird-of-Prey waited while the Enterprise entered firing range. At that moment, Kruge ensured that the new gunner definitely knew to target only the ship's engine.

On the Enterprise's bridge, Kirk and Sulu theorized that the distortion could be the energy surge of a cloaked ship. The admiral reacted by ordering that the Enterprise go to red alert and that all power be diverted to the weapons systems. Guessing that the enemy craft would have to decloak before it could fire, however, Kirk didn't raise the Starfleet vessel's shields yet. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Kirk's guess that the cloaked vessel would have to decloak in order to fire seems a reasonable assumption given that, in TOS: "Balance of Terror", Spock told him that operating a cloaking device required vast amounts of power.
Michael Taylor remarked that he and Ronald D. Moore "dig" the build-up to the space battle. Nonetheless, Taylor also questioned why the Enterprise doesn't have its shields raised all the time, to which Moore reminded him that, if it did, there would be a drain on the vessel's engines. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)

The space battle

The Bird-of-Prey spins out of control on the Enterprise's viewscreen

Immediately after the Bird-of-Prey decloaked and started arming torpedoes, the Enterprise shot a pair of photon torpedoes, one after the other, from the double torpedo launcher in the neck of the vessel. Both torpedoes hit home on the bottom of the Bird-of-Prey's hull. The first hit the ship's bridge section whereas the second struck the vessel further aft. The attack knocked the vessel out of control, and as it slowly spun away from directly facing the Enterprise, the resultant scene of mayhem and destruction was palpable on the Klingon vessel's bridge, where Kruge's pet monster dog died as a consequence.

Michael Taylor criticized how the Enterprise, for some unexplained reason, doesn't unleash an all-out assault on the Bird-of-Prey. Ronald D. Moore joked that the death of the pet Klingon monster dog made the battle suddenly "personal" for Kruge. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)
A pair of shots from this initial attack, with firstly a close-up of the two photon torpedoes being fired from the Enterprise's double torpedo launcher and then the view of the weaponry striking the Bird-of-Prey, was reused in the documentary Star Trek: Voyager - Inside the New Adventure, during a montage to show the starships Enterprise in action.

While the Bird-of-Prey came about to face the Starfleet craft again (the Klingon vehicle channeling emergency power to its thrusters), the Enterprise, at Kirk's instruction, tried to raise its shields, but due to the automation system being overloaded, this proved unsuccessful. Enterprise chief engineer Montgomery Scott complained that the combat was unexpected, implying that he hadn't had time to ready the ship.

The Bird-of-Prey looms over the Enterprise as the tardigrade Ephraim looks on

Once the Bird-of-Prey righted itself again, it retaliated with a photon torpedo which pummeled the Enterprise's port warp nacelle, setting off an electrical chain reaction. This caused an explosion on the bridge, where the entire deck briefly tilted to the port side, causing Kirk to lose his balance and be tossed against the bridge's handrail.

Michael Taylor jested that, by showing how seat belts on the Enterprise were unfortunately lacking, this scene demonstrated "why this ship had to go." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)

When the Enterprise's helm sparks, Scott and Sulu flinch

In response to all the room's lights going out, emergency power was restored at Kirk's command. He then ordered that the Enterprise return fire, though the final effects of the chain reaction knocked out the automation center, momentarily causing sparks and a fire at the helm and making the phasers and helm inoperable, effectively ending the brief space battle. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Ronald D. Moore joked that the end of the battle made it clear that Starfleet ships required circuit breakers. He also jokingly exclaimed, "Hey, put out that fire! It's going to burn Sulu's pants!" After Michael Taylor agreed with that statement, Moore went on to explain that this battle was one of the few times when the Enterprise crew simply admitted defeat rather than finding some elaborate technobabble solution to their predicament. Taylor regarded this sudden end to the space battle as "cool", whereas Moore considered it "kind of a shock", which Taylor concurred with. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)

Heated negotiations

Kirk and Kruge make initial contact with each other

Although the Bird-of-Prey's emergency torpedo tube was ready for firing, Kruge was surprised that the Starfleet ship hadn't already destroyed them, since the Enterprise outgunned the Klingon vessel ten-to-one. Kirk sent a message to the Bird-of-Prey, from which Kruge recognized him as the presenter of the Genesis data. During the transmission, the admiral threatened to destroy the Klingon ship and kill its crew unless they surrendered, but Kruge sensed he was bluffing. Kruge replied with a defiant message of his own, revealing that he had taken three prisoners on the planet below, whom he threatened to execute individually if Kirk didn't surrender.

Ronald D. Moore approved of this scenario, commenting, "It's an effective standoff. I mean, this works pretty well, just in the back and forth of it, you know, the strategic situation." However, Michael Taylor pointed out that all Kruge had to do to obtain what he wanted was to simply blow up the Enterprise, a point-of-view with which Moore agreed. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)

The Klingon sergeant prepares to strike at either of the three hostages

The Klingon commander allowed Kirk to speak to both Saavik and David Marcus, who communicated their situation to him. David also advised Kirk not to surrender to Kruge, doubtful that the Klingons would kill them, since Genesis was really a failure. Kruge assured Kirk of his honesty and demonstrated this by deciding to have one of the prisoners executed. On the planet's surface, one of the Klingon soldiers began circling the three hostages with a d'k tahg knife, preparing to make the killing blow.

Ronald D. Moore commentated, "This was a good moment of suspense, 'cause you had two or three possible victims here. You knew it wasn't gonna be Spock 'cause, really, that is what the movie is about. But you could off either of these other two. So, there was a genuine sense of suspense." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features) Disputing one of these comments, Howard Weinstein remarked, "When the Klingon is about to knife someone to death, he could just as easily have killed Spock." (Starlog, issue 88, p. 34)
The uncertainty over who should be killed off even applied to Harve Bennett while he was devising the scene. "I found myself writing a scene in which I was playing Russian roulette with three characters – David, Saavik, and the regenerated Spock," Bennett remembered. (Starlog, issue 103, p. 17) The similarity of this situation to a game of Russian roulette was also noted in the film's scripts, the simile thereby being used to describe the scene. [2] Continued Bennett, "I thought, 'This is a great scene.' Then, I walked into Leonard's office and said, 'I've just painted myself into another corner. If we don't kill someone, we've really cried wolf in a very desperate situation.'" Since it was obvious to them that they couldn't kill off Spock, the choice was between the two other candidates. "So, we wrestled with that decision," Bennett continued, "and, frankly, there were literally times where we were behaving like the Klingon in the film, passing the knife over Saavik [....] So, it went back and forth between David and Saavik, with the exigency of it having to be real." (Starlog, issue 103, p. 17)

David is killed by Klingon hands

The chosen victim was about to be Saavik when David intervened, preventing her death. He engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the executioner but was eventually stabbed to death by the Klingon. His death shocked and despaired Kirk.

In their review of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Trek editors Walter Irwin and G.B. Love remarked that this moment was "a direct cause of Kirk's failure to finish off the Klingon ship when he had the chance to" and that one of two main reasons David was killed off seemed to be "to show us how rotten and evil the Klingons were" (the other motive being to provide Kirk actor William Shatner the opportunity to perform a major grief scene). (The Best of Trek #8, pp. 50 & 58) Jill Sherwin, writing for Star Trek Magazine, agreed that, in a way, Kirk was responsible for his son's death. (Star Trek Magazine issue 153, p. 30)
Even though David Marcus didn't create any Klingons, science fiction author David Brin interpreted the moment in which the Klingon executioner kills him as "the Frankenstein mythos [being] taken to its logical conclusion" because "the monster kills its creator, David, as punishment for the arrogance of creating new life." ("Terraforming and The Prime Directive", Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)/(Blu-ray) special features)

Kruge repeated his demand that Kirk surrender, to which the admiral finally acquiesced. Kirk asked for a minute to notify his crew, but Kruge instead granted him and his "gallant" crew two minutes.

In the film's text commentary, Michael and Denise Okuda refer to this decision as "Kruge's first mistake."

Despite the Klingons erroneously believing that the Starfleet crew outnumbered them, Kruge demanded that Torg form a heavily armed boarding party with everyone who was left on board the Bird-of-Prey apart from the commander himself; he intended to commandeer the Enterprise and raid its memory banks of the knowledge about Genesis. Kirk arranged for Kruge to beam the Klingon officers aboard and promised not to resort to any "tricks".

As the Klingon Bird-of-Prey stands by, the Enterprise explodes, killing most of the Bird-of-Prey's crew

However, Kirk, Scott, and Chekov then set the Enterprise's auto-destruct sequence and hurried to the transporter room, from where they beamed to the planet surface moments before the band of Klingons were beamed into the same transporter room, surprised to find no-one occupying the vessel. From the Enterprise's bridge, Torg contacted Kruge and let him hear the computer voice pronouncing the countdown sequence. Their commander shouted for them to get out of the place but it was too late; the ship exploded with the Klingon team aboard, emotionally devastating Kruge. Kirk and his companions observed the destruction of the starship from the surface of Genesis, while the craft started to burn up in the planet's atmosphere and the sun started to set again.

The destruction of the Enterprise to prevent it from falling into enemy hands was thought up by Harve Bennett. It was inspired by the naval tactic of scuttling a ship and him erroneously thinking that a historical example of this had taken place at the Battle of Lake Erie. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 120) According to Richard Arnold, the idea of destroying the Enterprise was also based on personal military experience Bennett had had of working with helicopters in Korea, where such helicopters had been relatively disposable military vehicles. (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., p. 165) Additionally, "the hopelessness of the situation" made sacrificing his starship for the greater good seem like the right thing, Bennett believed, for Kirk to do. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 120) Agreed Leonard Nimoy, "It's either the Enterprise and all of us die, or the Enterprise dies, so the choice is pretty clear. Let's use the Enterprise as a weapon against these people, and lose the Enterprise and save the day." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)/(Blu-ray) special features) This is also the same reasoning Kirk himself expresses, in a recap montage that begins some versions of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, in which he states, "Quickly overpowered, we had no choice but to allow the Klingons aboard, which meant the only way to defeat them was to destroy the Enterprise."
According to the Okudas, Kirk's recent losses represented another motivator that was weighing on his mind. In their text commentary for The Search for Spock, the Okudas observed, "In earlier times, Kirk might have been willing to sacrifice his life in a vain effort to save his ship. But after losing David and Spock, his crew – his family – has become more important to Kirk. And so, we see Kirk's real answer to the 'no-win scenario.'" In his book The World of Star Trek ("Part Five: The Return of Star Trek"), David Gerrold agreed that this command choice required Kirk to make a "profound" personal transformation, commenting, "This decision to destroy the Enterprise rather than surrender is consistent with what has been established as Starfleet procedure – but on a personal level, it may also be seen as a spiritual breakthrough for the man […] and the hardest decision of his life. Yet, it's clear that Kirk knows where his duty is. Even in death, the Enterprise still serves the Federation."

A phaser blast throws the Klingon sergeant into the air

During a lightning storm later that evening, while Spock was agonizingly experiencing transformations that were linked to his accelerated aging and to the planet's ongoing destruction, he pushed one of his two captors through the air and the Klingon landed on the ground, dead. When Kirk got there with the rest of the skeleton crew from the doomed Enterprise, the other guard (who was the same Klingon sergeant who had killed David Marcus) was shot by Kirk, brandishing a phaser. The shot knocked the Klingon warrior back and up into the air before he landed on the ground.

A live mechanical effect, filmed on the Genesis Planet set, provided the basic footage for the second guard's demise. From this footage, the film's visual effects editors extracted about ten frames from the initial hit to accentuate the blast. The shot was completed with effects animation. "It turned out pretty interesting," Ken Ralston commented, analyzing the effect. "He gets hit and all these strange lights come off him – shock waves that sort of lift him up and let him go." (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 56)

After discussing Spock and the disintegrating planet with Saavik (who advocated getting Spock off the planet, since that would cease his rapid aging), Kirk picked up a Klingon communicator from the ground and used it to contact Kruge. Pretending that the Enterprise had been destroyed accidentally, the admiral attempted to persuade Kruge to beam them up to the Bird-of-Prey. He instead beamed to the planet himself, armed with a Klingon disruptor, and had Kirk drop his phaser. The Starfleet officers except for Kirk and Spock were then beamed up to the Bird-of-Prey at Kruge's command. He refused to have Spock, who had lost consciousness, join them out of spite, because Kirk urged for that to happen.

Kirk and Kruge kept on arguing even as the planet continued to break up all around them. Kirk cited the planet's imminent destruction as a reason for them to collaborate with each other, but Kruge was insistent that he would prefer for them to die together. He was standing on a rock that suddenly raised up, which made him drop his communicator and propelled him at Kirk.

Strangling Kirk, Kruge demands Genesis be given to him

The pair then physically fought each other. As they grappled, Kruge, at one point, lifted Kirk up by the neck and demanded that he supply him with the Genesis formula. The combatants eventually ended up on a rocky outcropping that partly gave way, under Kruge.

The revised final draft script of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock stated about the pair of opponents in this fight, "They are evenly matched." [3]
Trying to make Kirk's fisticuffs with Kruge as exciting as possible, William Shatner deliberately included some fight moves from TOS in the scene. "The giant windup into a left-handed haymaker, the roundhouse kick, the two quick jabs to the stomach followed by a right to the jaw, they're all in there," Shatner noted. (Star Trek Movie Memories, p. 183)
Ronald D. Moore commented, "This is a classic, classic Star Trek captain-against-captain fight," a remark Michael Taylor agreed with. Taylor especially approved of Kirk's two-handed fighting style, likening it to the style of Jimmy Connors' tennis-playing. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)

As the Klingon commander hung from the edge of the cliff, Kirk offered his right hand to Kruge; this was an attempt to persuade the Klingon commander to accept Kirk's help so he could pull him up.

Arthur C. Clarke expressed a nitpick about this moment in the battle, saying, "It didn't make much sense for Kirk to offer the Klingon his hand [....] After all, this is the one responsible for his son's death!" (Starlog, issue 88, p. 35)

However, Kruge grabbed at Kirk and tried to pull him off the cliff. Kirk reacted by repeatedly kicking Kruge, declaring he had had enough of the Klingon commander, who Kirk proceeded to kick off the precipice; Kruge fell into a lava-filled pit far below. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)


Commandeered by Kirk and his companions, the Bird-of-Prey departs from Genesis

As the planet was consumed by fiery ruination in the new light of another dawn, Kirk used Kruge's communicator to have himself and the comatose Spock, who had now been returned to adulthood, beamed up to the Klingon Bird-of-Prey by the only remaining member of the Klingon crew: Maltz. When, on the Bird-of-Prey's bridge, Maltz outright refused to cooperate, Kirk noted that he would have him killed later, which would continue the hostilities between the Starfleet and Klingon personnel. Chekov, Sulu, and Scott succeeded in flying the Bird-of-Prey, using its Klingon controls, away from the dying Genesis Planet and Kirk says goodbye to his son David. Having commandeered the Klingon ship, Kirk had the vessel head to Vulcan and admitted to the Klingon survivor that he had lied about killing him.

Spock is reunited with his shipmates

On Vulcan's Mount Seleya, Spock's body and katra were reunified thanks to a Vulcan ceremony. Sarek deemed the costs Kirk had gone to, having lost his ship and his son in the battle, as considerable, though Kirk was convinced that he had been morally compelled to do what he had done; the actions that he and his fellow officers had carried out during this incident made it possible for them to ultimately be reunited with Spock. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

The Federation Council watches footage of the Enterprise's destruction

In 2286, at Federation Headquarters three months after the Enterprise officers arrived at Vulcan, footage from the battle was displayed for the Federation Council. The demonstration portrayed the Klingon boarding party's arrival on the Enterprise's bridge and the ship subsequently blowing up.

Although showing Klingons as part of this footage potentially adds some context, the scripted version of this historical demonstration didn't include the moment when the Klingons invade the Enterprise. Thus, the only part that remained in the exhibit, between the screenplay of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and the final version of the film, was the ship's destruction. It was scripted to be followed by the sight of Kirk and company looking at the wreckage of the vessel streak through Genesis' atmosphere, a view that isn't in The Voyage Home. The screenplay also noted that the footage of the Enterprise's detonation was the first time Sarek and Christine Chapel witnessed the starship's doom. [4]
Ultimately, in this instance from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, all the footage from the Battle of Genesis was reused from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. A series of three close-ups in this recycled footage – showing Torg lead the Klingons onto the bridge, the empty room itself as Torg looks it over, and then him listening to the computer as it vocalizes the countdown – are shown in a Klingon "log video". It was produced by adding some video noise and Klingon "timecode" to these shots from The Search for Spock. (text commentary, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Special Edition) DVD special features)

The footage was shown and the incident was spoken about as part of a presentation made by Klingon Ambassador Kamarag regarding the Klingon perspective of Kirk's recent actions; one of the accusations Kamarag made was that Kirk had murdered the Klingon crew. Kamarag demanded that Kirk consequently be extradited to the Klingon Empire, so that justice would be served.

Arriving to speak on behalf of Kirk and his crew, Sarek interrupted Kamarag's impassioned speech to point out that the Klingons had drawn the first blood, while attempting to possess the secrets of Genesis. When Kamarag tried to refute this, Sarek clarified that the ambassador wouldn't deny that the Klingons had destroyed the Grissom and had killed Kirk's son, though Kamarag implied that these were merely the results of the Klingons attempting to preserve their race. Nonetheless, incensed at the Federation President concluding that Kirk would only be made answerable for having violated Starfleet regulations, Kamarag stormed away.

In the first draft of Star Trek IV's screenplay (which had the working title "The Adventure Continued"), Sarek stated about the Klingon mission to seize Genesis, "It was the Klingons who murdered while trying to steal it and convert it to a weapon of war," whereas, in the final version of the movie, he says, "The Klingons shed the first blood, attempting to possess its secrets." Similarly, in the film, he reminds Kamarag that the Klingons destroyed the Grissom and killed Kirk's son, though he mentioned only the latter consequence in the first draft script. Also in that initial screenplay, Kamarag didn't go so far as to admit that the Klingons didn't deny having committed these acts, instead replying only that they had "the right to preserve" their race. In the screenplay, the Federation president noted that not only had the Klingons destroyed the Grissom, the president erroneously stating that this had been with "all aboard her," but that they had also "violated Federation territory."

Meanwhile, on Vulcan, McCoy renamed the captured Klingon Bird-of-Prey as the "HMS Bounty" and, on stardate 8390, he and the rest of his crewmates unanimously agreed to return to Earth, to face the consequences of the deeds they had done while rescuing Spock. McCoy expected they would be court martialed and spend the rest of their lives mining borite, whereas Chekov, while last-minute preparations to depart from Vulcan were made, down-heartedly referred to what awaited them as "our own funeral." Just before leaving the Bird-of-Prey, Saavik explained to Kirk that David had died bravely, saving both Spock and herself.

Kirk and crew are tried by the Federation Council for charges including the destruction of the Enterprise

Earth was being crippled by the Whale Probe, and by taking the Bounty on a time-traveling mission to San Francisco of 1986, Kirk and his senior staff managed to save the planet from the impending threat, although the Bird-of-Prey ended up sinking in San Francisco Bay on their return to 2286. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) At their trial, the charges faced by the group included the willful destruction of the Enterprise and disobeying Starfleet Admiral Morrow for having gone to Genesis. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) However, all but the last charge, which related to Kirk alone, was dismissed due to them having rescued Earth from the Whale Probe. The crew, with Kirk remaining as their commanding officer but demoted in rank to captain, was even assigned a new starship: the USS Enterprise-A. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Placed on trial by the Klingon Empire alongside McCoy, Kirk speaks about how his son was killed by Klingons

In 2293, on stardate 9522.6, Kirk recorded in his captain's log, shortly after the Enterprise-A left Spacedock on a historic mission to forge peace with the Klingons, that he had never been and never would be able to forgive them for the death of his son. While the Khitomer conspiracy was thereafter covertly framing Kirk and McCoy for the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon, General Chang accused Kirk, when he and McCoy were put on trial by the Klingons, of having planned to take revenge for the death of his son. This was a claim which Kirk denied and to which his attorney, Colonel Worf, successfully voiced an objection. Chang, in response, had the recording of Kirk's unforgiving statement from his log sounded in the courtroom and emphasized that Kirk had been demoted for insubordination.

Although Kirk and McCoy were sentenced to life imprisonment on Rura Penthe, they eventually managed to escape. By then, Kirk had come to realize, since the chancellor's death, that his stubborn anger at the Klingons for having killed his son had fueled his prejudice. After he and his crew managed to foil an attempt to assassinate the Federation President at Camp Khitomer, Kirk remarked that the new Klingon Chancellor, Azetbur, had restored his son's faith, shortly before the Enterprise-A was decommissioned. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)



Background information


Leonard Nimoy directs the moment when a Klingon sergeant prepares to stab Saavik

This encounter forms most of the storyline in the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The battle follows up on several elements that are established in the previous movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, including the creation of the Genesis Planet as well as the death of Spock and his casket being left behind on the planet's surface.

When Star Trek III's narrative was about to be worked out and Leonard Nimoy was lobbying Paramount Pictures to allow him to direct the movie, he was of the opinion that featuring elaborate battles with aliens in the plot would be important. However, he also believed that they should not overwhelm the film's focus on the characters and their interrelationships. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 10)

Producer Harve Bennett was inspired to concoct the confrontation because the extraordinarily powerful Genesis Device had been introduced in The Wrath of Khan. He later recalled, "The whole idea of the Genesis planet and the fact that the same technology could also destroy every living thing on existing planets made me wonder, 'What would happen if the Klingons found out about this?'" (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., p. 158) However, the main antagonist to the Enterprise officers was, originally, to have been Romulans. Both his idea of the adversaries reacting to the news of the Genesis Device and the notion that the Enterprise crew would try to retrieve Spock's casket from the Genesis Planet, resulting in the difference of goals which, in The Search for Spock, is at the heart of the dispute, were obvious to Bennett when he devised them. (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., p. 158)

The events of the battle resulted from Harve Bennett concocting the film as a series of moments that would act as a mix of surprise and suspense. "The revelation that the planet is disintegrating; the death of Enterprise; all these things were intended to be either surprise or suspense," he noted. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 31)

Outlining the battle

At the start of an initial story treatment for the third film (which had the working title "Star Trek III: Return to Genesis" and was dated 16 September 1982), a gigantic, new style of Romulan Bird-of-Prey, under the Romulan command of a male commander and a female sub-commander, decloaked on final approach to the Genesis Planet, where the Romulan crew discovered unlimited deposits of raw dilithium and Spock's open casket. By this time, the Enterprise had deposited David Marcus and his mother, Carol, back at their lab to resume work on the Genesis Project, Saavik continuing (from The Wrath of Khan) to serve on board the Enterprise.

Later, while the Romulan commander oversaw mining operations on the planet, the sub-commander contacted him to report the arrival of a Federation light cruiser, which was on a data-gathering mission for the Genesis Project. Although the Romulan commander advised the sub-commander to cloak their Bird-of-Prey, the dilithium for the Romulan vessel's cloak was running low, so the Romulan commander suggested the Bird-of-Prey attack quickly. The ensuing battle was a short, brutal incident, in which the Bird-of-Prey speedily destroyed the Federation craft with a barrage of photon torpedoes. Both the commander and the sub-commander were pleased that the Federation reconnaissance ship had been eliminated without leaving any survivors nor any distress signal.

Meanwhile, on the planet's surface, the Romulans encountered a series of minor, mysterious problems, such as the unexplained disappearance of several of the Romulan soldiers. The extant troops had come to believe that the culprit was a ghost-like figure. One of the heretofore missing Romulans turned up dead, with his neck broken.

Shortly thereafter, the Enterprise arrived at the planet, and the Bird-of-Prey, still commanded by the female sub-commander, used the last of its power reserves to cloak, but the cloaking device became unstable. Volleys were exchanged between the two ships, though one of them, from the Bird-of-Prey, rendered the Enterprise with no way to continue. Kirk then surrendered, and, with the commander and sub-commander still eager to take no prisoners, a heavily armed Romulan boarding party from the Bird-of-Prey beamed aboard the Enterprise, only to be killed when the ship self-destructed. The Romulan sub-commander reported to her superior officer that Federation survivors had apparently beamed to the planet's surface, inadvertently angering her commander even more; he swore to take vengeance against the Enterprise survivors.

After Kirk and his skeleton crew found the mining site, the Romulan commander took them prisoner. Kirk and the commander had a discussion about the planet's dilithium deposits, whose unlimited nature potentially meant the Romulans could have hyper-extended cloaking devices, making the Romulans essentially invincible. The commander demanded to know how the planet, featuring such plentiful resources of dilithium, had been created, but Kirk evaded the question, so the commander threatened to torture him and his crew then bid Kirk good night.

A concept painting of Spock fighting with a Romulan guard while another Romulan lies at their feet

The elusive killer of the Romulans turned out to be Spock, who had basically become insane but was consistently depicted as being at an adult age. As the Romulans slept late that night, he freed Saavik, who proceeded to release the Federation prisoners and then brought them to Spock. However, he was meanwhile intent on killing both them and the Romulans for being "plunderers" and "monsters", furious that Kirk had left him on the planet to die. When it seemed as though he was about to squeeze McCoy to death, the doctor plunged a hypodermic needle into the maddened Spock's body, knocking him out.

As the planet started to rip itself apart in its death throes, the Romulans awakened to find their prisoners had escaped, so the Romulan commander led a team after them, and the sub-commander called down from their Bird-of-Prey to check if they needed any assistance. Ignoring her queries, her commander's companions were killed by trees which crashed to the ground, even as their chief, armed with a phaser, continued. The Starfleet officers managed to patch in to the Romulan signal, and Kirk requested that the sub-commander beam them up, which she did despite an initial moment of hesitation.

Aboard the Bird-of-Prey, before the Romulan sub-commander could reach for her phaser, Saavik managed to reach for her own phaser first and held the sub-commander at gunpoint. Kirk contacted the Romulan commander on the disintegrating planet's surface and, answering the commander's earlier question, revealed that the planet had been created in six minutes by "a reformation device." Though Kirk offered the commander his life and prisoner-of-war status, the commander was at first spiteful towards this offer and then didn't respond at all. So, at Kirk's command, the Romulan Bird-of-Prey left its previous commander behind and sped away from the planet, which was about to turn into a black hole.

Further developing the battle

The Klingons invaded the Enterprise with help from Nimoy

Though Romulans were originally to have been featured in this confrontation, Leonard Nimoy later persuaded Harve Bennett that Klingons would be more theatrical. (The Art of Star Trek, pp. 215–217) The first conversations Nimoy and Bennett had about the film concerned the choice between the Romulans and the Klingons. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 30) "I wanted to introduce the Klingons into the story because there's now this very valuable and powerful Genesis Device, and they would have heard about it and would have been threatened by it," explained Nimoy. "It had overtones of a Soviet-US kind of combat." ("Captain's Log", Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)/(Blu-ray) special features) Nimoy also once likened the confrontation between Kirk and Kruge to a game of chess. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)/(Blu-ray) special features) Bennett remarked, "His knowledge of how we could do it made the Klingons the perfect fit; we had our Nazis." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 30)

Although Bennett and Nimoy chose to eliminate the Romulans as the main antagonists, the decision was also made to keep their ship, the Bird-of-Prey, and its ability to cloak as elements of the battle. Simplifying the story, however, Bennett removed the mysterious attacks by the purportedly ghostly Spock. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, pp. 30 & 31) Bennett felt that Kirk needed to pay a price for getting Spock back, so he not only retained the idea of the Enterprise's destruction but also chose to have Kirk's son, David Marcus, die, David having been introduced in The Wrath of Khan. (Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 70)

An early suggestion Sulu actor George Takei made was that the forthcoming Star Trek III film might feature Sulu participating in a fencing duel in a weightless environment. Takei expected that would be "exciting" and "so uniquely Sulu." (To the Stars, hardback ed., p. 352)

Scripting the battle

In the first draft of the film's screenplay (dated 23 March 1983), a "battle fleet" of Klingon battle cruisers had just been formed when Kruge's vessel, a typical type of Romulan Bird-of-Prey, decloaked, revealing that Kruge had stolen it from the Romulans. He then delivered the Genesis demonstration tape to the first Klingon "lord", who referred to the Genesis Device as "a weapon of unspeakable force." The Klingon lord was then introduced to Kruge's informant: a Vulcan-looking man who identified himself as "Galt" and notified the Klingons that the Federation had used the device to create the Genesis Planet (news that, as Galt revealed, the Romulans were already aware of).

When the first lord asked for recommendations on how they should respond, the second Klingon lord presented the opinion of the gathered masses, proposing a large-scale preemptive strike against the Federation before they could deploy the Genesis Device against the Klingons. Kruge, however, caused a commotion by objecting; he reasoned that, if the weapon existed, the Federation's retaliation would destroy the Klingon Empire, whereas if it didn't exist, the Empire would have pointlessly initiated a thirty-years war. Kruge instead suggested sending him and his crew stealthily behind enemy lines in the captured Romulan Bird-of-Prey, so that the Romulans could be blamed if they were discovered. If Kruge succeeded, he would be made master of the Klingon battle fleet. He agreed to undertake the mission if, and only if, Galt accompanied him and his crew. Though Galt was at first resistant to going, the first lord promised him a fee upon successful completion of the assignment.

In Federation space, the USS Valiant was in orbit of Genesis, studying the planet, and, aboard the Enterprise, Kirk hoped to return there in order to relieve the Valiant, until Admiral Morrow declared, once the Enterprise arrived back at spacedock, that the ship was to be decommissioned. In Kirk's quarters, Morrow expressed concerns about what might happen when the Klingons discovered that the Federation had developed what was essentially a doomsday weapon.

The Romulan Bird-of-Prey cloaked as it crossed the Federation neutral zone, almost getting caught in the process, by Starfleet space station Omicron Five, although the station's commander ultimately dismissed some momentarily odd readings – which the script inferred as being due to the Bird-of-Prey – as a glitch. Once past the space station, the craft decloaked and changed course to Genesis.

As depicted in the first draft screenplay, the Romulan Bird-of-Prey's attack on the Valiant was much the same as the Klingon Bird-of-Prey's assault on the Grissom in the film. Some differences, however, were that the Bird-of-Prey approached the Valiant from dead ahead rather than aft and that, once the Bird-of-Prey decloaked, Captain Esteban ordered his crew to engage red alert and to raise shields before ordering that they prepare to take evasive action, though Esteban says only the later order in the movie before his ship is annihilated. Unlike in the story treatment but identical to how the assault is portrayed in the film, the Bird-of-Prey destroyed the Federation vessel with a single photon torpedo, much to Kruge's frustration, since he wanted to take prisoners. On the other hand, it was Galt (not Torg, as he was yet to be invented) who informed Kruge of the presence of the scientists on the planet and recommended that they could be taken prisoner.

While the Klingon away mission was underway, Kruge's first officer suggested that wide electromagnetic flux detectable in the area might be due to the Bird-of-Prey's energy reserves beginning to deplete, even though Kruge had, an hour prior, beamed up ten pounds of pure dilithium, which the planet was still depicted as having in abundance. As Galt explained to Kruge, though, the dilithium was useless to the Romulan ship without a converter. To that end, Galt suggested to Kruge that he might have been correct to think they should have captured a Federation vessel instead.

Unlike in the story treatment, the first draft script did feature the hostage situation on the surface of Genesis. However, the start of the sequence was different from how it is in the film. In the screenplay, Saavik and David Marcus, chasing after the boyhood Spock, ran straight into the middle of Kruge's away team.

The Romulan Bird-of-Prey was meanwhile detecting the approach of the Enterprise, though this data wasn't observed by any of the Klingons aboard the ship. It was noticed by Galt, but even though he thought the data might be important, he was busy trying to build a converter and Kruge had ordered that he not be interrupted.

On the planet's surface, his men brought Saavik and David to their knees before Kruge, who was fascinated to meet them and implied that the Klingons had additionally captured the maddened Spock, a situation Kruge went on to confirm. He also had one of his officers bring the now-teenaged Spock out of a tent or field shelter in the Klingon encampment. Despite Saavik pleading with Kruge not to harm Spock, the Klingon commander replied that whether he would depended on her. David attempted to explain to Kruge that Genesis wasn't a weapon, but the Klingon was adamant that David was lying and demanded that he stop doing so. Kruge even furiously backhanded David, making him fall to the ground in front of Saavik and the Vulcan teenager. Despite Kruge's instruction of no interruptions, Galt contacted him from the Bird-of-Prey to report the Enterprise's arrival, so the second officer took charge on the planet's surface while Kruge beamed up.

As the Enterprise unknowingly drew steadily closer to the Bird-of-Prey, the distance between them was expressed in meters by the Bird-of-Prey's helmsman rather than in kellicams. Also, Kruge didn't specify to the gunner which part of the Enterprise to focus fire on, instead simply stating, "Gunner – sight your target!" At Kirk's request, Scott prepared two photon torpedoes, sighted on the center of mass. Just after Kruge told his officers to prepare to decloak their vessel, the cloaking device abruptly ran out of energy, causing the Romulan Bird-of-Prey to decloak anyway. After the Enterprise fired its pair of photon torpedoes at the Bird-of-Prey, Kruge commanded that emergency power be channeled to the weapons, rather than to the thrusters. Multiple torpedoes, not just the one, were fired by the Bird-of-Prey at the Starfleet ship.

According to Kruge's dialogue, the Enterprise outgunned the Bird-of-Prey three-to-one rather than ten-to-one. Galt accounted for the Enterprise not firing at the Bird-of-Prey again by speculating that the Starfleet personnel might want to take Kruge prisoner, since they held life in high esteem. Much of the subsequent negotiations between Kirk and Kruge were identical to how they are in the film, including the killing of David Marcus.

However, upon instructing his first officer to form the boarding party, Kruge revealed to the first officer that he planned to kill all the Starfleet officers once the Klingons managed to commandeer the Enterprise. His plan of endeavoring to seize the starship was motivated by the need for a dilithium converter.

Once the Klingon boarding party beamed onto the Enterprise, Galt pointed out to Kruge that five or six people had just beamed from the ship to the surface of Genesis, so Kruge realized that Kirk had tricked him and had beamed down to the planet along with several of his Starfleet cohorts. Nonetheless, the Klingon commander, aware that the crew contingent of the Enterprise typically numbered in the hundreds, was still shocked that, as the boarding party learned, the Enterprise had been entirely abandoned.

Once the Enterprise's skeleton crew witnessed the final moments of their ship from the surface of Genesis, Sulu determined that the planet's core was in flux.

In a state of agitation onboard the Bird-of-Prey following the boarding party's death, Kruge was about to strike Galt, for boldly observing that Kirk had outmaneuvered him, when Galt stopped him, advising Kruge to save his violence for Kirk. At Galt's request, Kruge agreed to have Spock beamed up to the ship so that Galt, who was apparently familiar with Spock, could extract secrets from him.

Just after Spock began experiencing convulsing transformations, Saavik, though the Klingons had bound her hands in shackles, crept away from her captors to check on his condition. However, she was flung aside, hurled to the ground, by the Klingon second officer. Although Saavik warned him not to touch Spock, it was then that the Klingon soldier himself was hurled back by a burst of Spock's super-humanoid Vulcan strength. This, combined with the agonizing changes Spock was evidently undergoing, made all the Klingons in the camp fearful, and the second officer was about to shoot Spock with a phaser when Saavik rushed up and into the second officer, knocking the phaser out of his hand.

When the clearly pained Spock started to dash away, all the Klingons launched a brute-force attack on him, piling onto Spock and angrily pummeling him. This skirmish was brought to an end by the arrival of Kirk and his officers, though they were in turn forced to surrender when Kruge came. To Kirk, he referred to himself as "the Devil" as well as "the last face you will ever see alive" and to Genesis as "a fool's attempt to be God, Creator of the Universe." Although Kruge tried to have Galt beam them all up to the Romulan Bird-of-Prey, there was no response.

Next, Kirk asked Sulu the odds of electromagnetic flux rendering a phaser inoperative, but neither Sulu nor the rest of his crewmates were sure. Assuming his theory was correct, the admiral attacked Kruge while Kirk's subordinate officers fought the other Klingons. The phasers were indeed non-operational. A large Klingon guard hurled Uhura aside, but Sulu used a martial arts move to down him. Chekov was thrown by a dagger-wielding Klingon warrior, after which Saavik got Spock to break her shackles. Another Klingon armed with a dagger was about to kill McCoy but was suddenly crushed to death by a huge falling tree. While Kirk and Kruge battled each other hand-to-hand and with Klingon daggers, another Klingon soldier was about to deliver Saavik a fatal blow when he was stabbed to death by Uhura.

Sulu was meanwhile engaged in swordplay with a skilled Klingon warrior. Watched by Saavik, Spock was stabbed in the shoulder by Kruge's second officer, drawing green Vulcan blood from the wound, but he rendered his assailant unconscious with a Vulcan nerve pinch. As the melee went on, Kirk and Kruge battled each other out of the camp area. Chekov and Saavik teamed up to combat one of the Klingon guards whereas, after Sulu defeated the Klingon swordsman he had been fighting, he joined McCoy and Uhura in struggling against the last remaining Klingon henchman.

A pair of concept paintings of the fight between Kirk and Kruge

Kirk and Kruge were still fighting each other when Spock intervened, causing Kruge to turn his attention on the Vulcan. This enabled Kirk to stab Kruge in the back, and he then fell off the edge of a cliff, tumbling into a wide chasm below. Spock lost consciousness, barely alive due to his stab wound, and Kirk carried him back to the campsite.

There, the Klngon guards had finally been defeated by the Starfleet personnel. Kirk managed to manipulate the mercenary Galt – who was actually a half-Human, half-Vulcan hybrid and was Spock's brother – into beaming up the survivors. Aboard the Romulan Bird-of-Prey, they encountered no opposition and Galt explained that he had secretly built a crude dilithium converter, which facilitated the vessel's escape, just as the Genesis Planet started to fall towards its sun.

Refining the battle

Harve Bennett rather easily chose for this incident to result in the death of David Marcus and the destruction of the Enterprise because he believed in balanced storytelling. It thus made sense to him that, in return for getting Spock back, Kirk lost two things, along the way, that were majorly important to him. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 120) William Shatner remarked, "So, two elements that were expendable, David and the Enterprise, were killed off because nothing else could be killed off." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 121; The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years, p. 464) Leonard Nimoy believed that neither of these choices was made lightly and that both of them resulted from legitimate artistic considerations. (Starlog, issue #106, p. 53)

One suggestion that William Shatner made and was added to the plot was for Kirk to personally blame Kruge for the death of his son. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 32) Harve Bennett would only go so far with this, though; when Paramount suggested (in notes dated 8 June 1983) that Kirk's final words to Kruge be "This is for David," instead of "I have had enough of you," and that the moment tonally evoke a fight scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark between Indiana Jones and a "sword-wielding attacker", the note was ignored. (The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years, p. 454) In a memo Gene Roddenberry wrote Bennett (on 1 August 1983) about the final draft of the movie's script (which was dated 28 July 1983), Roddenberry endeavored to make suggestions that included some that were intended to increase the effectiveness, for the movie's audiences, of Kirk's two losses.

Due to the narrative restrictions caused by the film's limited running time, there wasn't enough time to depict the Bird-of-Prey as having been stolen from the Romulans, so that notion was discarded. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 30) The name of the science vessel that the Bird-of-Prey destroys was changed to "USS Grissom", inspired by astronaut Virgil Grissom. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Handbook of Production Information; text commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD special features; Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 319))

Finalizing the scripted battle

In later script drafts (such as a revised final draft dated 13 September 1983 and another revised final draft, dated 7 October 1983), this clash was very similar to how it is portrayed in the film. These drafts of the script discarded such sequences as the Klingons planning their assault at the outset of the story and the near-detection of the Bird-of-Prey as it crossed the Federation border, instead beginning with the arrival of the USS Grissom at Genesis.

However, there were some changes related to this incident between its portrayal in these later script drafts and how it is depicted in the movie. For example, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey's decloaking was more elaborate in the script, appearing at first skeletal then filled in a section at a time. An ultimately unused line of dialogue involved Admiral Morrow telling Kirk, during their conversation in the Starfleet Officers' Lounge, that the Federation Council was attempting to "hammer out a treaty" with the Klingons (and with the Romulans too).

Four storyboards of the sequence when Kruge's Bird-of-Prey attacks and destroys the Grissom

During the Grissom's disastrous encounter with the Klingons, the ship's communications officer was scripted to specify that the energy surge was emanating from "astern" and "aft quarter", whereas he says only the former of these two descriptions in the film. The script indicated that the photon torpedo from the Klingon Bird-of-Prey was fired from "tube one". The gunner whom Kruge later kills acknowledged, in the script, the order to target only the Grissom's engine section, whereas the order in the film is to target the "engine", not the "engine section", and the gunner doesn't voice a reply to it. Aboard the Starfleet vessel, Captain Esteban's extra orders to activate red alert and to raise shields still remained in the screenplay; though they are not included in the film's version of the attack, the Grissom's bridge is visibly at red alert straight after these lines of cut dialogue were to have been said. The blow that destroys the vessel was, in the script, described by the gunner as "a fortunate mistake" rather than "a lucky shot".

After David Marcus departed from Saavik and the Spock youngling in order to meet the approaching newcomers, Saavik tried to contact David in the script, which she doesn't do in the film. She was about to make another attempt to contact him when she caught sight of a pair of Klingon boots standing just outside the entrance to the cave where she and Spock were. Thus, only Spock, instead of them both, was asleep until being awakened by the Klingon scouting party.

When the Enterprise was nearing the Bird-of-Prey, Kruge, upon arriving on the bridge of his vessel, was scripted to order the craft to engage "battle alert", despite issuing no such command in the film. Also, his instruction to the vessel's second gunner was, instead of concentrating just on the Enterprise's engine, to "sight target" and to disable it only.

Kirk's order to Scott to prepare two photon torpedoes, sighted on the center of mass, remained in the script, even though this command is not in the film. After the Enterprise fired the pair of photon torpedoes, Scott, in an ultimately unused line of dialogue, remarked, "Those two hits should stop a horse, let alone a bird." Indeed, the Klingon vessel was currently in such dire straits that its cloaking device was even scripted to have been destroyed due to the pair of torpedoes, though the now-furious Kruge reacted by merely exclaiming in frustration, "Never mind!"

The Bird-of-Prey's rotational correction and readying of weapons in retaliation were scripted to be ordered by Kruge, though he doesn't utter such commands in the movie. The craft's counterattack was scripted to consist of multiple torpedoes, instead of only a single torpedo. Also, Torg, immediately before reporting that the vessel's emergency torpedo tube was ready for firing, observed aloud that emergency power re-charge was firstly at forty, then fifty, percent.

Just after the space battle, Torg speculated that the Enterprise might have halted the fighting because the Starfleet crew wanted to take Kruge prisoner, but the commander doubtfully replied, "They know we would die first." When Kirk hailed the Bird-of-Prey, Kruge deviously advised Torg to "study him well."

Even though one shot of the Enterprise's destruction depicts the dying craft falling away from the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, that shot wasn't scripted. Shortly after the sequence depicting the starship's doom, the conflict was discussed in an ultimately deleted scene that took place between Kruge and Maltz on the Bird-of-Prey's bridge. In the scene, even though Maltz asked Kruge what his next orders were, the devastated commander ignored the question and expressed significant regrets. The commander's qualms were about having underestimated Kirk – because, by destroying his own vessel, Kirk had done the one thing Kruge hadn't expected him to do – and about having had David Marcus killed, as this had made Kirk willing to commit the self-sacrificing act. Maltz attempted to ensure Kruge that they still had prisoners who could provide information. However, Kruge felt the prisoners were now useless and that Kirk was who he had needed. Maltz held the opinion that the Klingons' mission surely wasn't over, but Kruge was adamant that they had already failed and lamented that "the real dishonor" was in the fact that a Human had been "bolder and more ruthless" than he himself had been.

Amid the subsequent lightning storm, the Klingon sergeant sought further instructions from Kruge, recommending that their ship beam up both the Klingon guards as well as Spock and Saavik, but no reply to the sergeant's communication came, merely receiving bursts of static instead. Before shooting the sergeant, Kirk was scripted to order him not to move.

The script also had Kirk, on Genesis, use his own communicator to contact Kruge on the Bird-of-Prey, not stipulating where Kirk had gotten the communicator from, even though he clearly uses a Klingon communicator in the final version of the scene. Kruge was scripted to make his demand to be given Genesis just before, not during, his climactic fight with Kirk. Kruge's jump from atop a rock formation, that collapsed under him, to the edge of the cliff was motivated by Kirk urging him to jump. Kirk then voiced a final appeal to Kruge to get them both off the planet's surface, but the Klingon commander spitefully answered by screaming a Klingon curse prior to Kirk kicking him off the edge of the cliff.

The revised final drafts of the script made it clear that, whereas the Grissom didn't survive its encounter with the Klingons, the Enterprise crew managed to endure the Battle of Genesis thanks to the presence of Kirk. The script also established that Maltz had fully expected Kruge would be the victor. [5]

The battle ultimately involved three key moments, the only specific examples in the whole movie, when Harve Bennett set up audience expectations, concerning what was about to happen, but then had the opposite take place. These were the Klingons' murder of David Marcus, Kirk's decision to sacrifice the Enterprise in order to eliminate most of the Klingons, and, finally, Kruge's refusal to let Kirk pull him up from the edge of the precipice. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 32)


When he came to direct Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Leonard Nimoy expected that portraying the effects involved in the battle – "with spaceships and planets exploding and fire scenes and fights and people falling off cliffs and stuff like that," in his own words – would be the most difficult part for him making the movie. However, he ultimately found that no-one asked him about this aspect of creating the film. (The Making of the Trek Films, p. 42) Harve Bennett recollected, "We needed something marvelous for the death of Enterprise [....] We needed a Bird-of-Prey in destruction, and there's a couple of space battles." Meeting these requirements necessitated expenses for visual effects, though one advantage in the film-making process was that all the action on planet Genesis could be filmed on one huge set, on Paramount Stage 15. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)/(Blu-ray) special features)

A concept painting portraying a sheet of flame shoot out of a crevice while Kruge and Kirk battle

Industrial Light & Magic was instrumental in depicting the battle. For example, the company illustrated storyboards of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey's stalking and eliminating of the Grissom, the sequence in which the Enterprise self-destructs, and of Kirk and Kruge's brawl on the surface of Genesis. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 17, No. 3/4, pp. 62 & 76; Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 53; The Art of Star Trek, p. 222; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - The Official Movie Magazine, p. 59) (See also the storyboards in the "archives" section of the Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD.) In one of the ILM storyboards, Kirk and Kruge were pictured fighting beside a sheet of flame that shot out of a crevice, but this concept was deemed too impractical to be included in the film. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 52)

In an unused image from the film, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey fires on the Grissom

ILM also was made responsible for designing the ships involved in the battle. Whereas the Enterprise was a well-established ship, the conflict required a new design for the Klingon Bird-of-Prey and the USS Grissom, as neither of these configurations had appeared previously. Before the Klingon Bird-of-Prey was designed, Sulu's line identifying the enemy vessel as a Bird-of-Prey inspired Nilo Rodis, who was extremely unfamiliar with the Star Trek canon, to wonder what a Bird-of-Prey was, but when George Takei acted out a rendition of the line for him, Rodis found it wasn't especially helpful aside from giving him the impression that it needed to look very frightening. On the other hand, the fact that the Grissom was intended to be quickly vanquished by the Klingon Bird-of-Prey led Rodis to intentionally design it as a relatively unmemorable configuration (the same design ethos also applied to Valkris' freighter, the Merchantman). All the exterior shots of the ships were handled by ILM. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, pp. 51 & 56) For instance, the shot of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey firing on the Grissom was done as an ILM effects composite. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 17, No. 3/4, p. 57)

Although the decloaking of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey was at first intended to be shown with a highly elaborate visual effect, the VFX team realized that Kirk likely would have blown the vessel up by the time it decloaked if the craft took so long to decloak. They were consequently persuaded to make it a more straightforward effect. (American Cinematographer, August/September 1984, Vol. 65, No. 8)

The reason Ken Ralston chose to have the Grissom be destroyed with a relatively simple explosion was that he didn't want to overshadow the Enterprise's detonation. "If we played all our best cards at the start, we'd have nothing left to show when it came time to blow up the Enterprise," he noted. (Cinefex, No. 18, p. 54)

Nimoy directs the disruptor-wielding Kruge's holdup of Starfleet forces on the Genesis Planet

While Leonard Nimoy was considering Edward James Olmos for the role of Kruge, he expected the face-to-face confrontation between the Klingon character and Kirk would be the only time there might be a problem with faking Olmos' build as larger than it actually was. "I thought that with creative angles, camera work and elevating Eddie on boxes, we could've done that fairly easily," stated Nimoy. (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., p. 170) Using these methods to portray the fight turned out to be unnecessary, though, as Christopher Lloyd was cast for the part instead.

Leonard Nimoy wanted the climactic confrontation between Kruge and Kirk as well as the fistfight's surroundings to be operatic, specifically "Wagnerian", as he termed it. (Starlog, issue #106, p. 53) Originally, the fight sequence was to have involved massive boulders raising out of the ground, with Kirk and Kruge brawling on the tops of them and jumping from one rock to the other. (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., p. 183)

One of the many everyday decisions Nimoy had to make during the film's production was how large the explosions should be. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 18) Noted Special Effects Supervisor Bob Dawson, "We did a lot of explosions on the Enterprise." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 17, No. 3/4, p. 75) It proved as elaborate to rig explosives on the set of the Enterprise's bridge as it was to prepare the Genesis Planet set in order to depict an earthquake on the planet. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 17, No. 3/4, p. 83) On the set of the Bird-of-Prey's bridge (and that of the Merchantman's bridge), filming the action often involved not only explosions but also fire, smoke, and complicated stunts that were performed under the supervision of Stunt Coordinators Ron Stein and R.A. Rondell. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Handbook of Production Information)

The Enterprise's detection of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, from the perspective of the Enterprise's bridge, was scheduled, as of Wednesday 17 August 1983, to be filmed the next day, Thursday 18 August. The shoot was to take place on Paramount Stage 9 and called for a light change in order to show Kirk's ordering of red alert. However, the same footage was simultaneously scheduled for the next day, Friday 19 August, as were all the Enterprise bridge scenes involved in the space battle. Kirk's perspective of his initial face-to-face contact with Kruge (via subspace) was partly to be filmed on the next filming days after that, Monday 22 August through Wednesday 24 August (this plan remained the same at least up to 19 August).

As of Tuesday 20 September 1983, the perspective from the Bird-of-Prey's bridge, a set on Paramount Stage 5, of the entire space battle through all of Kruge's subsequent conversation with Kirk was planned to be shot on Thursday 22 September and Friday 23 September. The footage of Kruge sending the Klingon boarding party to the Enterprise and then monitoring the events there, until the ship exploded, was to be filmed on the next production day, Monday 26 September.

As of Tuesday 27 September 1983, the production company intended to shoot the fight between the Klingon sergeant and David Marcus as well as the subsequent stabbing on Stage 15's Genesis set on either Friday 30 September or Monday 3 October 1983. Later, this footage was more precisely scheduled to be filmed on the latter of those two dates. The sequence required stuntman David Burton (representing his first participation in the filming) to stunt-double David Marcus actor Merritt Butrick. The demise of the two Klingon guards (the first by Spock's inhuman strength, and the second by Kirk's phaser) was meanwhile scheduled to shoot on either Tuesday 4 October or Wednesday 5 October.

A moment from the fight sequence between Kirk and Kruge, showing Al Jones doubling for the latter role

As of the latter date, the shooting company intended to concentrate on filming Kirk's battle with Kruge on Friday 7 October and Monday 10 October, choreographed between firstly the Klingon encampment set on Stage 15 and then moving, on the Friday, to the set of the precipice, which would be on either Stage 12 or 14, before completing the action sequence there on the Monday. This plan remained in place at least until Thursday 6 October. Although which of the two stages would be used for the precipice set hadn't been chosen by then, what had been decided was that Industrial Light & Magic would be on that set during the filming of the fight scene and that Johnny C. Meier and Al Jones (in their first involvement in the filmmaking) would stunt-double for the roles of Kirk and Kruge respectively. As of Friday 7 October, the production personnel scheduled to complete the filming of the fight sequence, if it hadn't already been completed by then, on Monday 10 October as well as Tuesday 11 October. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock call sheets) Ultimately, the stunt doubles for William Shatner and Christopher Lloyd were, for this fight scene, used only when absolutely necessary. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Handbook of Production Information) The reason the scene had to be rethought, excising the idea of massive boulders becoming the foundations of the combat, was that the "boulders" didn't look convincing when it came time to film with them. (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., p. 183)


The image of the Enterprise and Kruge's Bird-of-Prey facing each other was used extensively in The Search for Spock's advertising campaign. (text commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD special features) It served, for instance, as the cover of Star Trek III: Starship Combat Game (with illustrated weaponry added), and a stylized version of the space battle also featured in the film's official poster image. The movie's theatrical trailer was edited in such a way as to make it seem as if the space battle involved the Klingon Bird-of-Prey making a strafing run at the Enterprise (this footage was actually from the Bird-of-Prey's assault on the Merchantman) and that, as the Enterprise subsequently exploded, its crew was still on board the doomed ship.

In an unused image from the film, the Klingon sergeant is about to kill David, a controversial outcome of the conflict

Harve Bennett felt that, by complaining about the Enterprise's destruction but not about David's death, some people were prioritizing these in the opposite order to what he thought they should. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 120) Bennett held this opinion because, whereas the intention when destroying the Enterprise was that it would somehow be replaced in the next film, there was no intention to replace David Marcus, Bennett remarking, "Frankly, the ship is replaceable, the son is not." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition)/(Blu-ray) special features)

Frustrated with the decision to have the Enterprise be annihilated, Gene Roddenberry would have preferred that the ship carry out a saucer separation and that only the saucer section be destroyed. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 120) The battle, in general, was an example of how he imagined that conflicts in Humanity's future would no longer be between Humans themselves but between Humans and aliens. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) and Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features) However, Roddenberry disapproved, too, of the villainous role that the Klingons play in Star Trek III. (Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry, p. 517)

The destruction of the Enterprise and the killing of David Marcus took William Shatner by surprise and he found both of them to be highly effective consequences of the battle. (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., p. 159) He commented, "I thought the loss of the Enterprise and David's death were very clever devices used to create drama in a situation." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 121) Shatner did, though, have misgivings about the Klingon battle itself, feeling that, in the first draft of the screenplay, it came too suddenly and didn't build on any foreshadowing or expectation which had been established as the story progressed, though he soon worked out most of his issues concerning the script with Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy. One aspect of the battle that continued to frustrate Shatner was the brawl between Kirk and Kruge, about which he remarked, "Despite the fact that the scene ultimately plays fairly well on-screen, I still can't help but feel disappointed every time I see it." (Star Trek Movie Memories, hardcover ed., pp. 160, 161 & 183-184)

McCoy actor DeForest Kelley recalled that he and his castmates had all been severely shocked that the conflict "finalized as it did," particularly with the blow-up of the Enterprise. (From Sawdust to Stardust, p. 257) One cast member who approved of not only that aspect but also, to a lesser extent, David's death was Uhura actress Nichelle Nichols, even though she and her character are absent from the battle. (Beyond Uhura, pp. 258-259) On the other hand, Chekov actor Walter Koenig didn't appreciate the conflict, feeling it was too similar to the Battle of the Mutara Nebula and pointing out that, in both cases, "The bad guys wanted the bomb and we are trying to keep them away from it." Keonig felt the only appreciable part in the Battle of Genesis was the Enterprise's destruction. (The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years, p. 464)

David Gerrold was dismayed by both the destruction of the Enterprise and the death of David Marcus. Shortly prior to the film's theatrical release, he remarked that the loss of the ship was "not quite mitigated by the circumstances" and that David's murder not only seemed pointless but also presumably meant "any continuity he might have represented for future stories" had now been "lost." Gerrold also questioned how fans who frequently wrote stories which characterized Kirk and Spock as homosexual lovers might react to the suggestion that Kirk would sacrifice everything, including his ship and his son, to rescue Spock. (The World of Star Trek, "Part Five: The Return of Star Trek")

Many fans at the time of the movie's release were angered by both the murder of David Marcus, finding it "gratuitous", and the obliteration of the Enterprise, perceiving it as "cavalier". "Their reaction was understandable," Leonard Nimoy conceded. "The fans should react personally. We didn't make those decisions […] in a vacuum. I understand these plot developments take place in a very real environment, which is Star Trek and its audience. I'm aware of that reality." Although Nimoy himself felt both demises were equally justifiable, he did receive much fan mail bemoaning them, about which he said, "I'm well aware of these opinions, and I take them seriously." (Starlog, issue #106, pp. 53 & 54) In their review of the film, Trek editors Walter Irwin and G.B. Love noted that the number of fans who complained that one or both of Kirk's losses in the battle, i.e. either the killing of David Marcus or the ship's destruction, was a glaring mistake in the story was less than the number of fans who felt the film lacked action and direction. (The Best of Trek #8, p. 49) In contrast, Kruge's death turned out to be a favorite demise among Star Trek fans. [6]

One fan who, despite having mixed feelings about the annihilation of the Enterprise, liked the confrontation between the Starfleet craft and the Bird-of-Prey was Ronald D. Moore. "The stakes are really interesting [....] I mean, all the pieces here are really in interesting places," he enthused. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(2009 DVD) & Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy (Blu-ray)/(DVD) special features)

Whereas Roberto Orci expressed shock at the Enterprise's doom, Alex Kurtzman level-headedly responded, "Yeah, [Kirk] had to do it." (audio commentary, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Blu-ray) special features)

In the review reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (p. 222), Edward Gross cited "the battle with the Klingons" as one of the highlights in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Conversely, Gross also admitted that the destruction of the Enterprise, while another highlight of the movie, could have been improved upon and that the point of David's death was still unclear to him.

In Starlog (issue 88, p. 34), Howard Weinstein admitted, "I was touched both by David's death and by the death of Enterprise. I was surprised by both." Weinstein also noted that the duel between Kirk and Kruge is less "the heart" of Star Trek III than Kirk's conflict with Khan is to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Star Trek Magazine writer K. Stoddard Hayes opined, "The death of the Enterprise […] slightly overshadowed poor old David Marcus' murder at the hands of the Klingons." (Star Trek Monthly issue 99, p. 43)

A.C. Crispin found that the circumstances building up to Kirk's resolution to destroy the Enterprise weren't emphasized enough. "I felt that the justification for such a grim and irrevocable decision was given insufficient buildup – only a few shots had been exchanged," she observed, "and it seemed fortuitous that the mighty Enterprise could be hit so immediately in just the spot necessary to knock out the automated controls Scotty had installed. It would have been better if we had been shown a real Ragnarok of a pitched battle, with the ship losing a screen or two, then taking a couple of hits, before the automated jury-rigging blew." Crispin also found it notable that, although the Federation concluded that the Genesis Device was a failure, the Klingons viewed it as a success, as it did what they wanted it to, eventually becoming a weapon of mass destruction. (Starlog, issue 88, p. 36)

In Cinefantastique (Vol. 17, No. 3/4, p. 67), reviewer Allen Malmquist critiqued, "Why not phaser the Klingons who beam over [to the Enterprise], or gas the room, or fly off in the ship's detachable saucer, or a shuttlecraft – try another tactic entirely, anything but destroy the Enterprise and pin all hopes upon a planetside conquest of the Klingons and their ship [....] Let Kirk join forces with Kruge like he did with Kang in 'Day of the Dove'."

In his book The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers (pp. 350 & 352), Phil Farrand made some comments about the battle, noting, for instance, that Kruge's interest in taking prisoners is atypical, since Kirk states, in The Wrath of Khan, that "Klingons don't take prisoners." In reality, though, this incident wasn't the first time the Klingons took hostages to coerce Kirk, as Kor threatens to execute many Organians in TOS: "Errand of Mercy", the episode that introduced the Klingons. (text commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD special features) Farrand went on to opine that, instead of beaming down to the surface of Genesis, Kirk and his team should have beamed aboard the virtually empty Bird-of-Prey and then proceeded to commandeer the vessel from Kruge. He also criticized the Klingons' decision to beam onto the Enterprise because, in the TOS episode "Day of the Dove", Kang and a Klingon landing party he is in command of try to do exactly that (from the surface of Beta XII-A) but are fooled by Kirk; even though Kirk promises them "no tricks" and that he'll surrender the Enterprise to the Klingon group, Scott, prompted by a signal covertly sent by Kirk, instead leaves them in the vessel's transporter buffer until a group of redshirted security officers arrive, with phasers, in the transporter room. Additionally, Farrand expressed surprise at the fact that the Bird-of-Prey, despite receiving two photon torpedo hits during the space battle and even though the majority of the Klingon crew leave the craft very shortly thereafter, is somehow restored to full power by the time Kirk and his crew take control of the ship. (The Nitpicker's Guide for Classic Trekkers, pp. 350 & 352)

In their review of The Search for Spock, Walter Irwin and G.B. Love speculated that they would probably have kept the on-screen reveal of Spock til the climax of the movie, with "the sight of him alive and well, but essentially mindless, perhaps providing Kirk with the final incentive he needed to defeat the Klingons." Irwin and Love also postulated that, if Spock did, as the film suggests, undergo pon farr every time he grew the equivalent of seven years of growth, Saavik would have had to relieve him of it at least twice or three times while they were held hostage by the Klingons and that doing so would have evidently caused her emotional pain. Yet, none of this is depicted in the film (Saavik and Spock are shown joining with each other only once, just before the arrival of the Klingons). The magazine criticized both that aspect and David's death, despite enthusing about the role the Klingons play in the film. Even then, Irwin and Love wished the interplay between the Klingons and Kirk had been, in a way, slightly closer to what it had been in TOS; the pair of editors critiqued, "We yearned for one of the silkily smooth exchanges between [Kruge] and Kirk that let us know they respected as well as feared and hated each other," although Irwin and Love also cited "tragic-ending action" as one of the film's highlights. (The Best of Trek #8, pp. 56, 57, 58, 59 & 61)

Time magazine's film critic Richard Schickel inferred that he found the battle effective because it confronts Kirk with some painstakingly difficult choices; in a review of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Schickel mentioned that these life-and-death decisions Kirk is forced to make, as regards his ship and his son, are "the most anguishing command decisions." (Time, June 11, 1984; [7])

Internet-based film critic James Bernardinelli stated, "Noteworthy are a confrontation between the Enterprise and a Klingon bird-of-prey (although the 'battle', such as it is, is anticlimactic, with the Enterprise's defense systems going on the fritz), the scene in which Kirk orders the ship's self-destruction, and a hand-to-hand struggle between the Admiral and the Klingon commander." [8]

Critic Roger Ebert referred to the climatic quarrel between Kirk and Kruge as "the latest word in fistfights on the crumbling edges of fiery volcanoes" and to the tactic of blowing up the Enterprise as "a neat little double cross that is audacious in its simplicity." Ebert went on to say, "The showdown between the Klingons and the Enterprise crew resembles, at times, one of those Westerns where first Bart had the draw on Hoppy and then Hoppy had the draw on Bart, but the struggle to the death between Kirk and Kruge takes place against such a great apocalyptic background that we forgive all." (Chicago Sun-Times, January 1, 1984; [9])

The reference book The Gospel According to Star Trek: The Original Crew interpreted this confrontation itself as apocalyptic. The book's analysis of the battle viewed Spock as a representation of Jesus Christ and Kruge as a symbolic anti-Christ.

In her book Star Trek and History, Nancy Reagan made the point that this incident can be viewed as analogous of the international state of affairs present at the time of the movie's release. Considering that relations between the Klingons and the Federation had long been symbolic of Cold War hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union, she noted that the Battle of Genesis, with the Klingons proving to be "highly violent and preoccupied with acquiring destructive weapons," was depicted "during the Reagan presidency and at a time of heightened Cold War tensions."

In his autobiography I Am Spock (hardback ed., p. 240), Leonard Nimoy imagined that the deaths in this conflict caused Spock to momentarily become concerned that Nimoy, having directed the movie, had a penchant for violence. Even though Nimoy considered himself a pacifist, he admitted that Spock had a point. The actor/director specifically observed that the mission to "beat" the "bad guys" had been a key ingredient in The Search for Spock, as with The Wrath of Khan. (The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years, p. 479)


The still of Nimoy directing the hostage situation

Although Star Trek III: The Search for Spock turned out to be the first of multiple appearances of the Oberth-class and of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, this battle represents the only time they are shown confronting each other. The same cannot be said of the Constitution-class and the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, as they subsequently encounter each other in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, involving the Enterprise-A in both cases (joined by Excelsior in the latter example). The Battle of Genesis also involved the introduction of the Klingon d'k tahg knife, which went on to appear in several later Star Trek productions.

A photograph of Leonard Nimoy directing the hostage situation portion of this incident was included in the Picard family album. Although that publication was created to be shown in Star Trek Generations, the behind-the-scenes photograph never ended up appearing on-screen.

Prior to the advent of Star Trek: Discovery, this conflict was, chronologically, the earliest battle in which the Klingons utilized cloaking technology. However, the Battle of the Binary Stars now holds that distinction.


The short story "Though Hell Should Bar the Way" establishes that the Battle of Genesis wasn't the first time Kruge encountered the Enterprise; while he was serving as a gunner aboard the IKS Kut'luch (β), that Klingon ship, under the command of Kor, fought the Enterprise during the time it was commanded by Captain Robert April, a battle which ended with the Enterprise disabling the Kut'luch.

The novel Faces of Fire is essentially a prequel to the Battle of Genesis, with the Klingons becoming interested in terraforming research that Dr. Carol Marcus is helping to conduct. This curiosity leads the crew of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey IKS Kad'nra (β), whose second officer is Kruge, to attack a Federation research colony where the work has been under development, in an effort, sanctioned by Klingon Emperor Kapronek, to seize the associated technology: the G-7 unit, a device that goes missing and which Kruge regards as a weapon. Furthermore, David Marcus is a child on the colony planet, Beta Canzandia III (called "Pheranna" by the Klingons), and encounters the Klingons at this juncture, even helping a group – led by Spock, and also including four other children besides David – to trap some of the Klingon invaders. When Kad'nra commanding officer Vheled captures Spock and the children, he briefly considers torturing firstly Spock and secondly David, to find out where the G-7 unit is, but before he can torture either of them, Vheled is betrayed by one of his own officers, Grael. He helps Spock and the children defeat their captors, leaving Kruge in command of the Kad'nra (unsure if the G-7 unit actually even existed after all), Grael ending up as his first officer. With the Enterprise about to arrive at the planet (but identified by the Klingons merely as a Federation ship and not by name), Kruge destroys the colony, intending to wreak vengeance on the Federation someday, and flees back to Klingon space aboard his ship (the vessel having been partially sabotaged by Grael) and with the remainder of its crew, rather than engage the Enterprise in battle. The G-7 unit has escaped destruction, thanks to Spock, and the colonists begin rebuilding their colony as the Enterprise departs, Spock back aboard the ship.

The short story "Countdown" deals with the moment in the Battle of Genesis when the Enterprise is on a countdown to destruction, as perceived from the perspective of the starship itself, as she somehow becomes self-aware while her destruction is imminent. In the story, the ship mentions having calculated a 99.983% probability that, if she doesn't explode, Kruge won't stop with the death of David Marcus but will instead go on to kill at least some of the Starfleet officers too. As a result, the ship suspects that, if she was in the situation Kirk now finds himself in, she would likewise have decided that it was appropriate to take the lives of the Klingons as a preventative measure.

Since no mention at all of the Organians' involvement in the Battle of Genesis is ever made in canon, the reference guide comic book "Who's Who in Star Trek 1" (p. 40) notes, "Throughout this entire affair the Organians never interfered with the events."

The short story "The Jungles of Memory" reveals that, essentially concurrent with this conflict, Uhura uncovered a heretofore buried Klingon vessel in the Sahara and engaged several members of its crew in battle, defeating them.

The novel Unspoken Truth states that the Battle of Genesis represented Saavik's very first deep-space mission; that the Klingon capture of her, David Marcus and the young Spock simply reinforced her feeling of certainty that she and both of her two fellow prisoners would die there; that the battle with Kruge irrevocably changed Kirk so as to make him significantly less impulsive and so frayed his nerves that he was still perturbed by it when he came to occupy the Bird-of-Prey's command chair; and that, although Saavik stayed behind on Vulcan afterwards, her testimony about what had happened on Genesis was deemed necessary during the trial of the Enterprise's senior officers. Indeed, by Captain Galina Mironova's estimation, "everyone" in Starfleet had, by 2286, read the official report on the events which had taken place on Genesis. The report included how the Klingons had killed Saavik's crewmates and had hunted her, David Marcus and a reborn Spock down on a planet that was on a course of self-destruction, but also described how Admiral Kirk and the Enterprise had valiantly come to their rescue.

Unspoken Truth additionally explores how Saavik deals with the ramifications of the battle as, following the Whale Probe incident, she volunteers for her next deep-space assignment: a posting aboard another Oberth-class starship, the USS Chaffee. The vessel's commanding officer, Captain Mironova, is aware that what took place on Genesis must have been traumatic but, even though Saavik has taken no leave time to recover from the experience, the captain eventually accepts her request to join the Chaffee's crew. During the assignment, Saavik feels grateful that the mission, a planetary survey of Deema III, will not involve a Klingon attack nor any of the other unusual events that took place on Genesis. After the Chaffee reports what initially seems to be an ion storm in close proximity to the planet (but is actually a series of interspatial rifts) and loses contact with an away team on the planet's surface, Saavik, who is part of the away team, momentarily thinks about how the situation is similar to when she and David Marcus lost contact with the Grissom, only to later discover that it had been destroyed by a more powerful foe, and also reckons that, if she had been armed with a knife she now carries, she may have been able to save David's life. The book implies, too, that Saavik speculates that, if she had put more effort into studying Vulcan "telesper" capabilities (such as mind melds), the battle may have been prevented from happening at all. At one subsequent point in the story, Kirk, now reduced in rank to captain, briefly contemplates the loss of both his son and his previous Enterprise.

In the novel In the Name of Honor, memories of the Battle of Genesis, especially the killing of David Marcus and Kirk kicking Kruge off the edge of a cliff, are pondered over by Kirk in light of General Korrd having recently convinced the Klingon High Council to participate in a new round of peace talks with the Federation, negotiations which Captain Kirk and the senior staff of the Enterprise are involved in. After Koloth secretly confides in Kirk and his associates that the Klingons are holding captive several survivors from the USS Gagarin, Kirk remembers, when asked if he trusts Koloth, that the Battle of Genesis taught him he could not only distrust the Klingons but also hate them and that this emotional pain had motivated his anger upon killing Kruge. Kirk brushes these memories aside in order to proceed with the mission of trying to rescue the Gagarin survivors. Spock later reasons, while gazing at the Enterprise-A from outside the craft, that, as has proven undeniable to Federation officials, scuttling the ship's predecessor was, logically, the right thing to do, so as to prevent sensitive technology from being captured and exploited by the Klingons, even though Spock is also aware that the decision was an emotionally difficult one for Kirk to make.

Later in the story, following a coup in the High Council, Kirk, in a furious outburst, demands that Koloth tell him where the honor was in his son's death. Koloth responds that the Klingons who were responsible for David's murder were cowards who have been cast into Gre'thor and are destined to spend eternity there, at the mercy of Fek'lhr. However, Kirk is still angered, leading Koloth to privately comment to Sulu that, if he could, he would undo the death of Kirk's son and that, since this is impossible, the best that can come of the incident will be to remind Kirk of why he himself fights. Departing on the Enterprise-A soon thereafter, McCoy points out to Kirk that not all Klingons killed his son, which Kirk accepts, though he still blames the Klingon way of life for the deed.

In the comic "Repercussions", Ambassador Kamarag makes it clear to the Federation President that Kirk's recent rescue of General Korrd (depicted in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) isn't nearly enough to make up for Kirk's "slaughter" of Kruge and his crew on the Genesis Planet.

Kamarag questions Maltz about the Battle of Genesis

Kirk's opponent in the battle transforms during a nightmare he experiences

In the comic "Trial and Error!", Maltz and Emperor Kahless IV (β) testify against Captain Kirk when he is put on trial at Starfleet Headquarters, on Earth. As Kruge was "a favored cousin" of Kahless IV, the emperor wants revenge for Kirk having killed him. During the trial, Kirk declares, while the emperor is on the witness stand, that he will never be able to trust Klingons because they killed his son. Maltz, the next to provide testimony, recalls "the slaughter of my commander and comrades" at the Genesis Planet, stating that if Kirk had acceded to the Klingons' request that the Federation surrender the secret of the Genesis torpedo, the Klingons would have withdrawn from the engagement peacefully. The encounter is summed up by Areel Shaw when she refers to it as "a brutal experience." After Kirk saves the emperor's life from a bomb, though, Kahless IV speaks up in Kirk's defense.

The graphic novel Debt of Honor establishes that the Battle of Genesis disturbed James T. Kirk for years afterwards, causing him to experience associated nightmares (at least up to 2289). These involved the final moments of his fight with Kruge, the murder of his son, and the destruction of the Enterprise.

In the novel Sarek, Ambassador Kamarag endeavors to avenge Kruge, who was Kamarag's closest friend and protege, by kidnapping Kirk's nephew, Cadet Peter Kirk, in an attempt to lure Captain Kirk himself into being caught by the Klingons, despite the Battle of Genesis having been fought several years previously (three years ago, according to the novel, though the story is actually set in 2293). While Peter Kirk is enduring imprisonment, he and Kamarag's niece, Valdyr, dispute how the battle resulted in the death of David Marcus, Peter's cousin; Peter submits that Kruge ordered David to be murdered in cold blood, whereas Valdyr argues that David was, as a prisoner-of-war, executed while attacking a Klingon guard, an account that Kamarag has related to her. Peter and Valdyr then accept that neither of them were there and that the truth was probably somewhere between the two contrasting versions of the incident. Shortly thereafter, when Valdyr implies that she believes Kirk murdered Kruge, Peter clarifies that, although the older Kirk indeed killed Kruge, the incident wasn't a murder, that Kruge had been beamed down to Genesis with the intention of killing Kirk because Kruge wanted revenge for the members of his crew whom Kirk had killed, and that Kirk killed Kruge in self-defense, to prevent him from killing them both. Valdyr responds that Kamarag has told her that, in actuality, Kirk intentionally lured Kruge down to the planet while it was breaking up and then abandoned him to die, but Peter denies these claims, maintaining that his uncle doesn't "operate" in the way they suggested he did. The same novel also establishes that the Klingon government has decided not to support Kamarag's quest for vengeance because the destruction of Praxis means the Klingons now need the help of the Federation to survive. Ultimately, Valdyr helps Peter Kirk break free from confinement on Qo'noS, and they manage to escape along with Captain Kirk and his fellow Starfleet officers in a small Bird-of-Prey they steal from the Klingons, though Kamarag apparently takes his own life rather than live with defeat.

The battle is related by McCoy to Captain Harriman

In the comic "Captain's Log: Harriman", McCoy recounts the space battle and its aftermath to Captain John Harriman, shortly after Kirk is (incorrectly) thought to have died aboard the ship they are on: the USS Enterprise-B. Though Harriman initially suspects that Kirk's bluff worked, McCoy clarifies that, in actuality, this incident was one of the rare occasions when it didn't, having instead gotten Kirk's son killed and ending up with Kirk, for the first time since he'd been a cadet, being completely perplexed as to what to do next. Harriman is very surprised when McCoy tells him Kirk's solution was to detonate his own ship. McCoy uses the tale to illustrate to Harriman that, as captain of the Enterprise, it is okay to have moments in which he is scared or unsure of himself but that he has to portray a confident facade to his crew. Harriman is also inspired by the story during a confrontation in which, consequently, the captain slyly defeats a K't'inga-class battle cruiser.

Worf quotes from the final moments of the battle

In the comic "Light of the Day", the final moments of this battle are referenced word-for-word by Worf. He does so while fighting off a group of maddened monks from a Dracon monastery (β) on the planet Riat (β). Specifically, Worf shouts at the monks using the exact same words Kirk shouted at Kruge before kicking him off the edge of a precipice: "I… have had… enough – of you!"

In the short story "Rocket Man", after being revived (following his death on Veridian III) by Gary Seven and the Preservers, Kirk remembers – upon Gary sending him on a mission to prevent the renegade Klingon House of Duras from acquiring essential knowledge about trilithium torpedoes – that the Klingons killed his own son, David. During the mission, though, Kirk (now known as "Agent K") decides that he doesn't think Kling, one of the Klingons from the renegade House, is as formidable an opponent as Kruge was.

K'Nera declares revenge for the outcome of the battle

The comic "The Enemy of My Enemy" follows up on the repercussions of the battle, with a descendant of Kruge's – K'Nera, from the House of Kruge (β) – leading a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, and a group of Maquis he deceives into joining him, on a quest to retrieve the Genesis data from Starfleet Central Archives, in order to avenge his illustrious ancestor. After K'Nera successfully manages to acquire the data he sought, his ship fights the USS Enterprise-E but is sabotaged by the aforementioned Maquis and finally destroyed by the Enterprise-E, after which the data he has obtained turns out to be a fake.

In the novel Q-Space, the Battle of Genesis is referred to as a holoprogram which Reginald Barclay has often enacted. After seventy-three attempts at the program, he finally succeeded in rescuing Spock without having to sacrifice the Enterprise. He now considers revisiting the program, considering that he might manage to additionally save David Marcus the next time he returns to it. Barclay decides against using the program in this instance, however, out of anxiety due to recalling his holo-addiction.

The novel trilogy Star Trek: Prey also deals with the repercussions of the Battle of Genesis.

Alternate-timeline depictions

Aspects of the battle feature into a nightmare which Kirk experiences in an alternate timeline

In the five-part comics mini-series "Time Crime", this battle is implied as not having occurred in an alternate timeline that serves as the setting for the mini-series. This is indicated by David Marcus remaining alive in the alternate timeline and by the fact that, due to the changes in history, the Klingons now have (and have had for centuries) a peaceful society rather than one based on war. In "Time Crime Part Two: Nightmares!", Kirk experiences a nightmare in which he sees David being brutally stabbed by a d'k tahg-wielding Klingon warrior amid a rocky, flame-strewn environment. Even though Kirk tries to grasp onto his wrist and tells him to hold on, David nonetheless falls off the edge of a cliff into roiling flames far below, causing an alarmed Kirk to awake with a start. Using the Guardian of Forever, he and Spock determine that, in the unaltered timeline, the Klingons have killed David, so the pair of Starfleet officers realize Kirk's nightmare was oddly close to the reality of the original course of events (they are ultimately able to correct the timeline).

There is no Battle of Genesis in an alternate timeline featured in the short story "Honor in the Night", either. Instead, while the High Council is in session, Kruge wordily opposes a formal nonaggression pact between the Klingon Empire and the Federation by trading insults and physical blows with Kor, who favors the pact, but Kruge is shortly thereafter killed himself by a Klingon named Kamuk, who thereby protects Kor. Within a year after the Klingons agree to honor the pact, the Federation shares the Genesis Device with the Klingon Empire, averting the battle. Thus, Admiral Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew manage to rescue the regenerated Spock from the Genesis Planet without conflict with the Klingons, though the Enterprise is destroyed in the process of bringing whales from the 20th century in order to save Earth from the whale probe, the ship's saucer section now lying at the bottom of the San Francisco Bay. David Marcus (as well as his mother, Carol) end up visiting the Federation Council chamber when Nilz Baris, then Federation President, puts Kirk and his senior officers on trial there, for charges including the destruction of the Enterprise.

In an alternate timeline that is explored in the novella "The Chimes at Midnight", the Battle of Genesis is depicted extremely differently to how it is shown in the canon prime universe. After Saavik and David Marcus overhear the destruction of the Grissom by way of Saavik's communicator, David wonders if the attackers might be more of Khan Noonien Singh's followers, a possibility Saavik dismisses as highly improbable. The Klingons, having destroyed the Grissom, then not only capture David and Saavik (Spock was killed during his childhood in this timeline) on the Genesis Planet, violating the Organian Peace Treaty, but then beam the pair up to the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, named the IKS Katai. They proceed to torture David for information about the Genesis Project, such as where it is headquartered, though he won't reveal any pertinent secrets to them. David's refusal to break under pressure prompts Kruge to chop off his left hand using a large Klingon sword. Admiral Kirk, still on Earth, doesn't hear about the Grissom's destruction until after the Genesis Planet has self-destructed. At that point, the Federation assumes David Marcus is already dead.

After interrogating David with the mind sifter shows the Klingons that he is Kirk's son, Kruge uses the threat of killing David as a bargaining chip to demand that Kirk turn over all the data concerning the Genesis project as well as a working prototype of the Genesis Device. Stealing the Enterprise with a skeleton crew under his command, Kirk takes the ship to a rendezvous point in neutral space where he is contacted by Kruge, who lets him speak with David and Saavik. They have spent the last two weeks on Praxis and are now being held in the Katai's brig. In exchange for the Genesis data, Kruge releases Saavik. Gaining access to the Katai by smuggling Chekov inside the casing of a Genesis Device prototype, Kirk leads a boarding party onto the Katai, bringing Thelin and Sulu along with him. They succeed in freeing David and commandeering the Klingon ship, taking its entire crew prisoner.

When the Klingons later make an escape attempt, however, Thelin shoots Kruge at point-blank range, killing him, and Maltz manages to fire a torpedo at the Enterprise before the Klingon attempt is thwarted, Sulu tackling Maltz to the ground. Kirk has the others from the Enterprise beamed to the Katai and unsuccessfully endeavors to prevent a warp core breach aboard the Enterprise. Radiation aboard the ship prohibits Kirk from being transported to the safety of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, and he is killed when the Enterprise explodes. On the Katai's bridge, Thelin threatens Maltz with execution but Maltz expresses an eagerness to die at that precise time, so Thelin goes ahead with killing him right there and then.

The Klingon vessel subsequently journeys back to Federation space, crewed by the Federation survivors – Sulu, Chekov, Scott, David, Saavik, McCoy, and Thelin. As the survivors of the incident stop off on Vulcan, the Klingons officially demand that their ship and crew be returned (because holding them is in violation of the Organian Peace Treaty). Meanwhile, David, who has recently been fitted with an artificial hand prosthetic, deals with feelings of guilt over the conflict, since he sees himself as the person who, by creating the destructive properties of the Genesis Device, has provoked the Klingons, although he is eventually able to reconcile these feelings.

The tensions between the Federation and the Klingon Empire over the Genesis Project escalate into a full-blown war (β). Five years after its start, upon learning that the Federation plans to unleash the Genesis Device on the inhabited Klingon moon Praxis, David realizes that there is truth, after all, to the Klingons' motive for having fought the battle in which Kruge killed Kirk and nearly killed David. The Klingons consider Thelin responsible for crimes including the murder of two senior members of the Katai's Klingon crew, so he surrenders himself to the Klingons, an eventuality which brings the war to an end.