The most co-operative man in this world is a dead man. And if you don’t keep your mouth shut, you’re going to be co-operatin’.
Module BI-21(a)T: A Piece Of Our Action. The Iotians
Before the Prime Directive was formed, there were unfortunate exploratory slip-ups that emphasized the need for a non-interference order. For example, the Iotians’ societal abnormalities threatened the sanity of Starfleet personnel due to the flagrant disregard of the influential books prohibition. So, without further ado, let’s explore this misstep in Federation history which highlights the seriousness of contamination without (maybe) its especially dire consequences.
Captain James T. Kirk and crew intercepted a hundred-year-old radio report received near Sigma Iotia II. The sender, the Horizon, destroyed. Before Kirk interpreted the thin circumstantial inconclusive message properly, the Enterprise was contacted by the Ioation, Bela Okmyx, designation “Boss”. “Hello, Captain! You’re from the same outfit as the Horizon?” the Boss asked excitedly. Little did they know that Oxmyx’s colorful vernacular was an early indication of the Horizon’s profound carelessness.
Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy materialized onto a city street which looked surprisingly like Earth, early 20th century. Two very aggressive individuals accosted them, machine guns raised to eye level, “Okay, you three, let’s see you petrify.” They were stunned but not by phasers. “Huh?” Spock implied. “I want to see you turn to stone. Put your hands over your head, or you ain’t going to have no head to put your hands over.”
These gentlemen represented the lighter side of the Iotians’ welcoming committee. The dark side arrived in short order in a drive-by shooting. An old-style form of assassination utilizing transportation designed to be slow enough to accomplish the goal. However, 23rd century Federation dexterity proved too fast for the maneuver. Nevertheless, as Tommy guns rat-a-tat-tattled, one of their sluggish escorts lay dead.
In his Northside billiard room slash office space, Okmyx greeted them warmly. Telling his henchman, Kalo, to put down his “chopper.” Another ominous manifestation of his culture’s deteriorating linguistic skills. He wanted to make a deal. What deal, pray tell? “You give me all the heaters I need,” he suggested, “Enough tools so I can knock off all those punks at once. Then I’ll take over, and all you’ll have to deal with is me.”
This thuggish autocratic rule wasn’t repugnant to Kirk, but it presented a problem because it was deeply rooted in Starfleet contamination. Spock, after an exhaustive visual search, discovered the source of the contamination in that very room. A book. But not just any book. THE Book. Chicago Mobs of the Twenties. Which, not only, explained the lunacy of Okmyx’s request but also his proclivity for tortuous colloquialisms.
But Okmyx wasn’t interested in his culture’s contamination. He wanted an answer to his insane request. “That’s quite impossible,” Spock told him cheerfully. Okmyx’s response was characteristic. “I’m gonna give you just eight hours to give me what I want. If I don’t have it by then, I’m gonna call up your ship and have them pick you up in a box!”
After Okmyx “put them in a bag,” they discussed their predicament while watching his henchmen play cards. Kirk still thought it was a bad idea to give Okmyx his heaters. Instead, teaching Kalo a fictitious card game called Fizzbin might be entertaining. But, “It’s probably a little beyond you. It requires intelligence,” Kirk warned him. Kalo drooled in delight, even after learning that a “sralk” could only be played at night on a Tuesday, proving his point. But Kirk ruined the game by throwing punches and escaping.
Spock and McCoy hurried back to the ship, while Kirk ran off to go knock some sense into Okmyx. But he was captured by yet another (yes, you guessed it) Thompson submachine gun. This time escorted to Jojo Krako’s Southside Territory. No, I didn’t just make that up.
Krako fixated on the same deal Okmyx wanted. Kirk counteroffered with mass discussions among the various bosses on the matter. But Krako was a religious man. “You watch it, Kirk! The Book tells us how to handle things!” Kirk replied, “I think your behavior is arrested.” To which Krako responded, “Listen, pally, I haven’t been arrested in my whole life!!” It was a lost cause.
Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Spock and McCoy discussed their limited options. Because “no record of a culture based on a moral inversion” and stupidity existed, the sociology computer was unable to form a plan. Okmyx, preternaturally sensing the computer’s ineptness, contacted them with an offer of quid pro quo. So, over Dr. McCoy’s strenuous objections, they returned to Okmyx’s billiard room and were once again promptly surrounded.
Spock strongly protested that they had an agreement. Okmyx said, “I was hoping you’d think that, dummy. Nobody helps nobody but himself.” Humiliated, Spock shouted, “Sir, you are employing a double negative!” He then sought to enlighten him on the joys of cooperation. “The most co-operative man in this world is a dead man!” Okmyx shouted. “And if you don’t keep your mouth shut, you’re going to be co-operatin’.”
But Kirk, a tad bit less logic-whipped, managed to escape his mental persecutor. Then machine-gunned his way to rescuing Spock and Bones from the heater-obsessed Okmyx. And after further mind-altering dealings with Krako, they returned to the harmony of the billiard room. But Okmyx still couldn’t see the light of Federation might. So, Kirk explained it to him. “Now listen, sweetheart. The Federation’s moving in, taking over. You play ball, we’ll cut you in. You don’t, you’re out. All the way out. You know what I mean?” Finally, speaking in the gibberish Okmyx understood, he agreed. “Why didn’t you say so in the first place? All you had to do was explain it to me.”
Prattling to the other bosses also proved successful. But after much debate, the numbskulls reversed themselves, concluding there was no Federation. Though molecular dematerialization was like magic to them, let alone the fancy heaters, they rebelled and took the Enterprise trio hostage. Yet again, pointing those freaking guns at them.
Then Okmyx’s and Krako’s henchmen arrived, shooting up the place. But Kirk promptly ordered a smack-down one-block radius burst of stun fun around his coordinates and all the Tommyknockers lay down. “A syndicate makes sense to me. I’m a peaceful man at heart,” Okmyx implored. Nevertheless, vengefully, Kirk crowned Krako, Lead Mobster and, Oxmyx, his First Lieutenant, forming Sigma Iotia II’s first syndicate. And that was that.
However, later, Kirk confronted a much-annoyed Mr. Spock and a brooding Dr. McCoy. Spock, pissed-off that Kirk left “a criminal organization in charge” and Bones fearing he’d left his communicator in Okmyx’s office. The technological basis for “every important piece of equipment” Starfleet had. Kirk and Spock were flabbergasted. “Is it serious?” Bonehead asked. Kirk exclaimed, “Serious? Serious?! Do you know what this means?! In a few years, the Iotians may demand a piece of our action!!”
Thereby, illustrating the importance of strict adherence to non-interference principles. Especially, in regards to the possibility that belligerent undeveloped cultures may transform themselves too quickly and affect the exclusivity of certain clandestine Federation lucrative practices. Which would, to say the least, put the bag on all of us.
Coon Gene L. Harmon David P. “A Piece of the Action.” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Company. 12 January 1968. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/A_Piece_of_the_Action_(episode)