Star Trek (1966–1969): Season 1, Episode 14 - Balance of Terror - full transcript

The Enterprise answers a distress call from Federation Outpost #4, a monitoring station on the Federation side of the neutral zone with the Romulan Empire. The outposts were established over a century ago and no one has actually seen a Romulan. The Romulan vessel seems to have some type of high energy explosive device as well as a cloaking device to make the ship invisible. When it appears that Romulans bear a strong resemblance to Vulcans, Kirk must deal with a rebellious crew member. He must also engage in a dangerous cat and mouse game with a very intelligent Romulan commander.

- The ceremony will be on all screens.
- Good.

There was a call for you from the bridge.

- Kirk here.
- Still no answer from Earth Outpost 2.

And now number 3 has gone silent.

Maintain course to Outpost 4.
Keep me informed. Kirk out.

Since the days of wooden vessels,

all shipmasters have had the privilege
of uniting two people in matrimony.

So we are gathered here today
with you, Angela Martine,

and you, Robert Tomlinson,
in the sight of your fellows,

in accordance with our laws
and our many beliefs, so that you...

Alert! Alert! All decks alert!

Alert! Alert! Captain to the bridge.
All decks alert.

Earth Outpost 4 is under attack.
A space vessel, identity unknown.

Full ahead. All decks, Condition Red.

All decks to Condition Red.
All decks, Condition Red.

Space - the final frontier.

These are the voyages
of the starship Enterprise.

lts five-year mission,
to explore strange new worlds,

to seek out new life
and new civilisations,

to boldly go where
no man has gone before.

Captain's log, stardate 1709.2.

Patrolling outposts in the neutral zone
between planets Romulus and Remus

received emergency call
from Outpost 4.

The USS Enterprise
is moving to investigate and assist.

Outpost 4 reported under attack, sir.
Then message terminates.

Verified, Captain.

Our speed is now maximum, sir.

Eight minutes from Outpost 4
at this velocity.

l've talked to my engine room.
We'll get more speed out of her.

Did Outpost 4 give anything
on the attacker?

- No identification.
- There's not much doubt who it is.

Mr Spock...
put this star sector on our screen.

Now show our position.

Signal this to all decks, Lieutenant.

- All decks standing by.
- This is the captain.

ln our next action, we can risk neither
miscalculation nor error by any man.

Listen carefully. Science Officer...

Referring to the map on your screens,

you will note, beyond our vessel,
a line of Earth outpost stations.

Constructed on asteroids,
they monitor the neutral zone

established after the Earth-Romulan
conflict over a century ago.

As you may recall, this conflict
was fought, by our standards today,

with primitive weapons
and space vessels

which allowed no quarter,
no captives.

Nor was there ship-to-ship
visual communication.

Therefore, no human, Romulan or ally
has ever seen the other.

Earth believes the Romulans
to be warlike, cruel, treacherous.

Only the Romulans know
what they think of Earth.

The treaty, set by subspace radio,
established this neutral zone,

entry into which, by either side,
would constitute an act of war.

The treaty has been unbroken
since that time.


What you must now be told, is that
my command orders are inviolable.

No act or provocation will be considered
sufficient reason to violate the zone.

We may defend ourselves but,
if necessary, to avoid inter-space war,

both these outposts and this vessel
will be considered expendable.

Outpost 4 has been attacked,
so if we intercept Romulans now...

After a century,
what will a Romulan ship look like?

- l doubt they'll identify themselves.
- They're painted like a bird of prey.

- l'd no idea history was your specialty.
- Family history.

There was a Captain Stiles then.
Two commanders and several officers.

- All lost in that war.
- Their war, Mr Stiles.

Not yours.

- Don't forget it.
- Yes, sir.

Outpost 2 coming into sensor range.

- Outpost 2 was the first to go silent?
- Yes, then Outpost 3 an hour later.

Sweeping the area of Outpost 2,
sensor reading indefinite.

Double-checking Outpost 3,
l read dust and debris.

Both outposts gone and the asteroids
they were constructed on...


Open a channel
to our nearest command base.

Quarter hour reports
on our position and status.

Call battle stations, Mr Sulu.

Battle stations.
All hands to battle stations.

Battle stations.
All decks acknowledge.

All decks acknowledge, sir.
All stations show green.

Energise main phasers.
All weapons to full power.

All weapons to full power.

Phaser control room, energise.

Phaser control acknowledging.
All weapons energising to full.

- Happy wedding day, almost.
- You won't get off my hook this easily.

l'm going to marry you, battle
or phaser weapons notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, temporarily at least,
l'm still your superior officer.

So get with it!

- Port weapons ready.
- Starboard and midship, too.

All weapons batteries ready.

Outpost 4 now five minutes away.

And showing on my sensors.
At least it's still there.

Sir, regaining contact with Outpost 4.
Switching to speakers.

Outpost 4.
Do you read me, Enterprise?

This is Commander Hansen.

We're minutes away.
What's your status?

Outposts 2, 3 and 8 are gone.

Unknown weapon, completely
destroyed, even though we were alerted.

Had our shield on maximum.

Hit by enormous power.
First attack blew our deflector shield.

lf they hit us again
with our deflector shield gone...

- Do you read me?
- Confirm what hit you.

- What vessel? ldentity?
- Space vessel, only glimpse of...

- Can you locate the intruder?
- Negative.

lt seems to have disappeared

l have you on my screen now.
Switching to visual.

- Tie us in.
- Tied in, sir.

Enterprise, can you see it?
My command post here...

We're a mile deep, on an asteroid,
almost solid iron.

And even through our deflectors,
it did this.

- Can you see?
- Affirmative. You're visual.

- Who's the intruder?
- No identification.

No answer to our challenge,
only a glimpse of...

Then it fired something at us,
some form of high-energy plasma.

Fantastic power.
Then the whole vessel disappeared.

But it's out there somewhere.
Our sensors show that much.

Enterprise, something on
our viewing screen's coming at us fast.

- Lock us onto your screen.
- Switching.

Can you see it, Enterprise?
Can you see it?

Becoming visible
at the centre of my screen.

Do you have phaser capacity?

Negative. Phasers gone,
weapons crew dead.

- Make a challenge, warn that ship off.
- Trying to. They don't acknowledge.

Outpost 4...

disintegrated, Captain.

- Position of the intruder?
- Disappeared.

lnteresting how they became visible
for just a moment.

When they opened fire. Perhaps
necessary when using their weapons.

l have a blip on the motion sensor.
Could be the intruder.

- Go to full magnification.
- Screen is on full mag.

l don't see anything.

l can't understand it.

lnvisibility is possible
with bending of light.

The power cost is enormous.
They may have solved that problem.

Continuing to challenge.
No response.

Contact remaining outposts.

Have them signal us
any sightings or sensor readings.

Blip has changed its heading.

And in a very leisurely manoeuvre.
They may not be aware of us.

Their invisibility screen
may work both ways.

With that kind of power consumption,
they may not be able to see us.

lts heading is now 111...

...mark 14.

The exact heading
a Romulan vessel would take

for the neutral zone and home.

- Parallel course.
- Not an interception course?

Negative. Match course and speed
with the object on our sensors.

Exactly, move for move.
lf he has sensors,

l want him to think
we're a reflection, an echo.

You may not cross
into the neutral zone without my orders.


- Cancel battle stations. Stand by alert.
- Cancel battle stations.

may l respectfully remind you,

the Romulans have crossed the neutral
zone, attacked and killed our men.

- And it was a sneak attack.
- Are you questioning my orders?

Negative, sir. l'm pointing out
that we could have spies aboard.

l agree, sir.

Respectfully recommend
all decks maintain security alert.

- Very well. All decks, security alert.
- Security alert, sir.

Picking up communication, sir.

- lt's from their ship.
- Pipe it in.

- Sounds like code, sir.
- l have a fix on it.

l believe l can lock on it.
Get a picture of their bridge.

Put it on the screen.

- Decoding?
- Cryptography is working on it.

- Give it to Spock.
- l didn't quite get that.

- Nothing, sir.
- Repeat it.

l was suggesting that Mr Spock
could probably translate it, sir.

You're complimenting
Mr Spock on his ability to decode?

l'm not sure, sir.

Well, here's one thing
you can be sure of.

Leave any bigotry in your quarters.
There's no room for it on the bridge.

- Do l make myself clear?
- You do, sir.

Transmission has been cut off.

- l made a tape of it, sir.
- Very well.

Something visual ahead, Captain.
At extreme range.

- He's changing course, sir.
- Stay with him.

Turning, sir.

- We grow visible. Start cloaking.
- lt consumes much power...

The outpost called to an Earth vessel.
lt follows us.

lt neither retreats nor grows nearer. lt is
our judgment we run from a reflection.

Perhaps so, but my judgment prevails.

Cloaking system on, sir.

lt is good we approach the neutral zone.

Not too soon for me
to see the stars of home.

l know they are following.

lf an Earth ship,
why does he not attack?

First, study the enemy. Seek weakness.

lf l were their commander,
that is what l would do.

My Commander sent for Decius.

A message was despatched.
You've broken the rule of silence.

Only in code. To inform our Praetor
of this glorious mission.

Your carelessness might have ended
this glorious mission.

You're reduced two steps in rank.
Return to post.

Take care, Commander.

He has friends,
and friends of his kind mean power.

- And power is danger.
- Danger and l are old companions.

We've seen 100 campaigns together
and still l do not understand you.

You do. You know what will happen
when we reach home

with proof of Earth's weakness.
And we'll have proof.

The Earth commander will follow.
When he attacks, we will destroy him.

Our gift to the homeland, another war.

lf we are the strong,
is this not the signal for war?

Must it always be so? How many
comrades have we lost in this way?

Our portion, Commander, is obedience.


Duty. Death and more death. Soon,
even enough for the Praetor's taste.

Centurion, l find myself wishing
for destruction before we can return.

Worry not. Like you, l'm too well trained
in my duty to permit it.

Continue evasive manoeuvres.
Now, back to the first course.

They're turning, sir.
We're staying with them.

Steady on 111, mark 14.
Back on their original course, Captain.

Toward the neutral zone.

What's our position, navigator?

We'll enter the neutral zone
in less than an hour, sir.

Assuming, of course,
that we don't turn back.

We now have aboard debris
from Outpost 4, Captain.

Bring it to the briefing room.
Ready, gentlemen?

From the outpost's protective shield.
Cast rodinium.

This is the hardest substance
known to our science.

Lab theorises an enveloping
energy plasma forcing an implosion.


Obviously, their weaponry
is superior to ours

and they have
an invisibility screen.

Tactics! Do you realise
what this really comes down to?

Millions of lives hanging on
what this vessel does.

- Or what this vessel fails to do.
- The question remains.

Can we engage them
with a possibility of victory?

- Their power is simple impulse.
- So we can outrun them.

To be used in chasing them
or retreating, sir?

Go ahead. l want your opinions.

- We have to attack immediately.
- Explain.

They're on our side of the zone.
They broke the treaty.

Attack, without a visible target?
How do we aim?

Sensors. Not accurate but...

Hope for a lucky shot
before they zero in on us?

And if we don't? They'll report
that we saw their weapons and ran.

- And if they report they destroyed us?
- These are Romulans.

Run away and you guarantee war.

They'll be back
with every ship they've got.

You know that, Mr Science Officer,
but you've always left out that point.

l'm very interested in why.

Sit down, mister.

l agree. Attack.

- You say we fight to prevent a fight?
- Based on what?

Memories of a war over a century ago?
Theories on a people we've never met?

- We know what they look like.
- Yes, indeed we do.

lf they are an off-shoot of Vulcan blood,
and l think this likely,

then attack becomes imperative.

- War is never imperative.
- lt is for them.

Vulcan, like Earth,
had its colonising period.

Savage, even by Earth standards.

lf they retained this martial philosophy,
then we dare not show weakness.

Do you want a galactic war
on your conscience?

Captain to bridge. What's our position?

Estimating boundary in 21 minutes.

Still broadcasting tactical reports?
And at this distance?

About three hours before receiving
a reply to our first message.

Check our course ahead.

A comet, magnitude seven, dead ahead.

And the intruder
changing course toward it.

- Comet lcarus lV. Composition?
- Quite ordinary.

An ionised mass,
a trail of vapour particles.

When an object passes through it,
even an invisible object...

- lt leaves a visible trail.
- Our chance, gentlemen.

Prepare to attack.
All hands, battle stations.

- l hope we won't need your services.
- Amen to that.

We're taking a big gamble, Jim.

- Battle status.
- All stations manned, Captain.

- Phasers energised. Set for blast.
- lntruder bearing for comet's tail.

- Plot his exact point of entry.
- Computed. On the board, sir.

The moment he enters the comet's tail,
he's visible.

End run, gentlemen.

We'll swing around the other side
and catch him.

- Acknowledged.
- He's maintaining that bearing.

Let's get him, Mr Sulu.

How pleasing to the eye it is.

Behold a marvel in the darkness.

You spoke of entrapment.

lts many particles will obscure
their sensing device, Centurion.

We enter it, Commander.

Once fully obscured,
we'll turn back upon our adversary.

At last the screen is clear.

- Clear?
- Our reflection no longer follows us.

Escape manoeuvre one, quickly!

- We're losing sensor contact.
- Steady as she goes.

- Phaser crews ready?
- Phaser crew signal ready.

He'll only be visible for a moment.
Stand by.

- Sir... Nothing in...
- He must...

He must have guessed our move.
Hard to starboard.

He did exactly what l would have done.

l won't underestimate him again.

- Fire blind. Lay down a pattern.
- Traverse pattern. All phasers fire.

- Phaser one... Fire!
- Phaser one, fire.

- Phaser two... Fire!
- Phaser two, fire!

Divert all power to weapons.

Phaser overload.
Control circuit burn-out.

- lt'll take time to correct.
- Are they surrendering?

Full astern. Emergency warp speed.

- Emergency warp?
- Full power. lt's still overtaking us.

lf we can get one phaser working,
one shot might detonate it.

- Navigation?
- lt'll overtake us in two minutes.

- Phasers?
- lmpossible.

Feed this to the space recorder
and jettison immediately.

- Captain, should l continue log entry?
- Yeoman...

- Affirmative. Continue.
- Yes, sir.

Ten seconds to impact.


- Dissipating.
- lt has a range limit.

Five, four, three, two, one...


Limited range.

Phasers operational, Captain.

- lntruder bearing 111, mark 14.
- Back to his old course.

- He may think we're destroyed.
- l wouldn't make that assumption.

l don't think their captain will either.

lntruder holding steady.
Course 111, mark 14.

Same as before, Mr Sulu.

Stay with him.

- Commander, the reflection returns.
- Activate our cloak.

- Commander, our fuel runs low.
- Quickly!

- The Earth vessel? lmpossible.
- lt moves as we move.

lts commander is not one
to repeat a mistake.

- Neutral zone in one minute.
- Do we violate the treaty?

- They did.
- Once inside, they can claim we did.

A set-up. They want war,
we furnish the provocation.

We're still on our side.

Let's get them while we are.
Before we enter the neutral zone.

- Full ahead. Maximum warp.
- Ahead, sir. Maximum.

- Phasers, stand by.
- At this distance?

We know their Achilles heel.

Their weapon takes their energy,
making them visible.

A hit at this distance
would be sheer luck.

- l'm aware of that. Are phasers ready?
- Phasers ready.

- Commander.
- Evasive action.

The Earth ship again.

20 seconds to neutral zone.

Lieutenant Uhura,
inform Command Base.

ln my opinion, no option.

On my responsibility,
we are proceeding into the neutral zone.

Steady as we go, Mr Sulu.
Continue firing.

Commander, they stay within range.

- l will tend to the Centurion.
- No need.

The Centurion is dead.

Why don't we fire?


No, he's shrewd,
this starship commander.

He tries to make us waste energy.

He has estimated
we have only enough...

- lt is time. All debris into disposal tubes.
- Yes, Commander.

The body of the Centurion, too.

Forgive me, my old friend.

But l must use all my experience now
to get home.

- Motion sensor signal stopped.
- Cease fire.

Debris ahead. We've hit him!

- Mr Spock?
- Vessel wreckage.

Metal moulds, conduit, plastoform,
and a body. However...

- However?
- lnsufficient mass.

- What?
- Simple debris.

- Not a vessel. A trick.
- Go to sensor probes.

Nothing, sir. No motion out there at all.

We've lost them, Captain.

Captain's log, stardate 1709.6.

At the neutral zone,
we've lost contact with the intruder.

No reaction on our motion sensors but
believe Romulan vessel to be close by.

With all engines and systems
shut down,

we're playing the silent waiting game
in the hope of regaining contact.


- l must repair the transfer coil.
- All right, Mr Spock. Work quietly.

20 full cycles, Commander.
Still no sign.

l say he's been fooled.
He must have gone off...

He is there, somewhere. l feel it.

Captain's log, supplemental.

Now motionless for nine hours,
47 minutes.

Can l get you something
from the galley, sir?

- Coffee, at least?
- Thank you, Yeoman.

Bring it to the bridge.
l'll be there in a moment.

l wish l were on a long sea voyage

Not too much deck tennis,
no frantic dancing.

And no responsibility.

Why me?

l look around that bridge

and l see the men waiting for me
to make the next move.

And, Bones...

What if l'm wrong?

- Captain, l...
- l don't really expect an answer.

But l've got one.

Something l seldom say to a...customer.

ln this galaxy,
there's a mathematical probability

of three million Earth-type planets.

And in all of the universe,

three million million galaxies like this.

And in all of that, and perhaps more,

only one of each of us.

Don't destroy the one named Kirk.

- What...?
- lt's all right.

- lt's all right.
- A signal, Commander.

We have him. Move toward him.

Power on.

Reverse course.
He'll try to slip under us.

- Lateral power.
- Coming around.

Phasers... Fire.

Phasers, fire.

How, Commander? How?

He's a sorcerer. He reads my thoughts.

Our fuel supply all but gone
and he stays out of reach.

We are beaten. Can it be true?

The Praetor's finest
and proudest flagship beaten.

Perhaps we can yet save
your Praetor's pride.

More debris into the tubes.
We have old-style nuclear warheads?

- Yes, but only for self-destruction.
- Place one in with the debris.

Yes, Commander, at once.

- More wreckage, scattering...
- Cease fire.

- Debris on our scanners.
- Analysis.

Same type as before, sir, except...

One metal-cased object.

Helm, hard over!
Phasers, fire. Point blank.

Glorious! Glorious!

Now, we go home.

They're at our mercy.

l remind you of your duty.

- Captain to sickbay.
- McCoy here.

- Casualties?
- 22 so far.

Mainly radiation burns,
mostly from the ship's outer areas.

- Could have been much worse.
- Thank you, Doctor.

- Report, Mr Spock?
- Nuclear device of some kind.

We detonated it
at less than 100 metres.

- Damage?
- Overloads and circuit burn-outs.

- Weapons?
- Only the forward phaser room.

- Fully operable?
- Yes, sir.

But Tomlinson is manning it alone.
No standby crew available.

My first assignment
was in weapons control.

- Go. Uhura, take over navigation.
- Yes, Captain.

We have engine power, if you'd like
to move off and make repairs.

Maybe we can pull him back
to our side of the neutral zone.

Hold our position. Play dead.

Still no sign of movement.

We've damaged ourselves,
our fuel reserve is gone.

lt is our duty to crush
the Praetor's enemies.

l do not trust their captain.

We are in the neutral zone.
They will not enter.

lf you refuse, permit me
the glory of the kill, Commander.

We will attack.
But on my order.

- Damage reports?
- Negative.

Will you require any assistance here?

This time, we'll handle things
without your help, Vulcan.


- Enemy vessel becoming visible, sir.
- Forward phasers, stand by.



Stiles, can you hear me? Fire!

Fire! Stiles, can you hear me? Fire!

Fire! Stiles, can you hear me? Fire!


Mr Sulu, prepare to move in
on the Romulan vessel.

Ship-to-ship, Uhura.

- Put this on the screen.
- Hailing frequencies open.


Standing by to beam
your survivors aboard our ship.

- Prepare to abandon your vessel.
- No.

No, that is not our way.

l regret that we meet in this way.

You and l are of a kind.

ln a different reality,
l could have called you friend.

What purpose will it serve to die?

We are creatures of duty, Captain.

l have lived my life by it.

Just one more duty to perform.

- Are you all right?
- Very well.

- And you?
- l'm alive, sir.

But l wouldn't be. Mr Spock
pulled me out of the phaser room.

He saved my life.
He risked his life after l...

l saved a navigator
so he could return to duty.

l am capable of no other feelings
in such matters.

- How many men did we lose?
- Only one. Tomlinson.

The boy who was going to get married.
His fiancée is at the chapel.

We had an answer
from Command Base.

They say they'll support whatever
decision you have to make.

lt never makes any sense.

We both have to know
that there was a reason.

l'm all right.