Star Trek: To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh

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Author: Greg Cox {DAYSSINCEBIRTH(birth=2006-05-23,birthphrase=Release)}{DAYSSINCEBIRTH} I read: November 24 - November 28, 2007 Non-spoilery short description:
Though there is a story shell taking place between [[Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home]] and [[Star Trek V: The Final Frontier]], the majority of the book is a look back to what happened to [[Khan Noonien Singh|Khan]] and his people marooned on Ceti Alpha V between the events of [[Star Trek: The Original Series Season 1|Space Seed]] and [[Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan]].
Totally spoilery summary:

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|<td> The story shell is that after the events of Star Trek II/III/IV, Kirk is still bothered by Khan, wonders how much blame he has in what happened, and wants to find out what life on Ceti Alpha V was like, so he goes to check it out with Spock and McCoy while Sulu waits in a small craft. They find caves connected to the buildings seen in Star Trek II, and eventually find Khan's written journal and data disks from Marla McGivers, the Starfleet officer who chose to go along with Khan back in the day. However, Kirk/Spock/Bones find themselves caught by... more superhumans! The narrative goes back and forth, but I'll save the rest of this until the end.

<p>So Khan is being released from the Enterprise; specifically by Chekov (whose face he can thus remember). Right from the start there's friction; considering following Khan got them ejected from Earth and then failed to get them the Enterprise, not everyone thinks he should obviously be the leader; the main opponent being Harulf Ericsson. It doesn't come to a fight then, but Khan knows not to trust Ericsson and those like him much.

<p>Early times on Ceti Alpha V are a bit rough. Due to the convergent evolution we frequently see in Trek, this place is much like Earth... of a few million years before. Thus they're faced with pretty large creatures, including some sabertoothed cats which eat up some of their people on the first night. Hunting as many of these as possible down is one of Khan's big tasks. Eventually he does find the cave they live in, and kills a few.

<p>Months go by. Slowly progress is being made. They've got a barbed wire fence around New Chandigarh, crops are beginning to grow, and people are pairing off. They have a mass marriage ceremony, with pretty much every male-female pairs (and a few male-male) marrying, leaving only a few people unattached. After the ceremony, they have trouble with a crazed bison... which study later shows to have gone nuts due to the Ceti eel in its brain. FOREBODING.

<p>One night... Ceti Alpha VI explodes. It's a fairly close planet, so people who happen to be looking the right way at the time clearly see it happen. It doesn't take long for things to start effecting Ceti Alpha V. The ground begins to shake and split open, lava rains down, deaths occur. Khan leads those surviving to someplace he hopes will be geologically safer: the cave the sabertooths had used. A weekish later, after the immediate effects seem to have died down, they return to the surface... but things are bad. The sky is dim from a nuclear winter-like effect. Not much is left of New Chandigarh. The crops are destroyed. The nearby river (Kaur, named for Khan's mother) is weaker. Without means or reason to stay in New Chandigarh, they move what remaining small buildings/equipment they have to the cave. About this time one of the people gets a Ceti eel infection, and they learn of the influence it can have on human behavior.

<p>So time passes. Trying to grow some crops underground isn't going so hot. Khan leads a small expedition to see if they can find a better living at the sea. After an arduous journey, they come to the sea... but it's dead. It's become acidic, and is no good for life. The surface is becoming more eroded and sandstormy all the time, so they're stuck in the caves.

<p>Years pass, and things are still pretty shitty, but at least they've got patterns worked out. They know a place a day's journey away where they can collect water. People are hungry, but live. Children are being raised; unintended effects of their parents being genetically altered is that they all seem to come out Caucasian and blonde, and age rapidly (explaining the people we mostly see with Khan in Star Trek II). Khan, however, has no child; perhaps he and Marla are not compatible due to the genetic tinkering.

<p>Ericsson and his crew think Khan is a tyrant, getting crueler with time, and decide to act. They put an eel in Marla's ear, and with her under their control, tell her to murder Khan when his guard is down. However, she manages to regain some control at the last instant, and stabs herself instead to save him. Ericsson's people learn of their failure before Khan can find them, and go off with their thirdish of the survivors to find a new place, since they know they'd have no mercy at Fatalis (what this new location has been named).

<p>Time passes. Khan is grooming Joachim, son of his bodyguard Joaquin, to be a leader of the next generation. There's occasional trouble from Ericsson's group of Exiles, but then... there is BIG trouble. They've taken possession of the water source, without which they cannot survive. Most every surviving adult joins Khan in an attack, where many from both sides die. A few of the Exiles manage to get away, and only a few more of the original group survive with Khan, along with the children. With Ericsson defeated, Khan contemplates suicide... but realizes he can't leave his people without his leadership.

<p>Time passes. While returning back to the caves one day... Khan sees the sparkle of transporter beams. Which is about where we see him again in Star Trek II.

<p>A few years later, Kirk/Spock/McCoy are being held captive by the surviving Exiles. They don't know what became of Khan, and don't believe the story Kirk tells them. Why should they trust "the Abandoner"? They're about to put an eel in McCoy to force the truth, when Kirk feeds them some baloney about how they're right, and that he can help them meet Khan. He gets them to perform some strange phaser tricks, supposedly to get Khan's attention, but really to get Sulu to investigate. When he does and can't tell who is who, he stuns everyone with the ship's phasers, and sorts things out after. With our Federation crew firmly in control of the situation, Kirk again explains what happened to Khan, and with no reason for him to lie they believe him. Kirk hopes to relieve some of his guilt by putting the remaining Exiles in a better home, and has the perfect place: Sycorax, home of the superhuman colony from the earlier Eugenics Wars books. That done, they transport Marla's remains to where Khan went down with the Reliant, and Kirk hopes they've finally found peace. </td></tr>

Preceded by Star Trek: The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh Volume 2.