Many of you will recall the TOS epsiode "A Taste of Armegeddon," which is notable for four things:
- Demonstrating that Montgomery Scott is nobody to fuck with.
- The normally pacifistic Mr. Spock says at one point (paraphrased): “All right, guys, we’re probably gonna have to kill some of these hosers, and this once I’m not giving y’all any crap about it. Now let’s go rescue my boyfriend.”
- The standard winsome female guest star was only one-quarter naked rather than the usual half, and did not boink Kirk
- Oh, and establishing that Starfleet captains have the authority to order genocide without further review.
That’s right. Near the climax of the story, Captain Kirk, held captive by that week’s psychos, tells Mr. Scott to implement General Order 24, which ostensibly is the command lto wipe out the entire inhabited surface of the planet. Scott doesn’t blink, or say “You sure, dude?” or call Starfleet to get confirmation; he just gets on the horn to Weapons Control and says "Arm every last firecracker, boys, and set phasers to ‘Sherman.’ "
The Enterprise doesn’t actually go through with it, of course. It was all part of Jimmy’s cunning plan. But the idea that such an order was even on the books has always bothered me. Yeah, the Enterprise of that era was commonly so far away from Starflet HQ that even subspace radio message would require hours or days even to travel one way, let alone get a reply; and consequently Kirk probably had more authority than Picard or Sisko. Nonetheless, wiping out a whole race is the sort of decision that just SCREAMS for review.
But something occurs to me. We know from the episode with Batgirl that Kirk and his officers have codes in place in case they need to communicate sub-rosa. Maybe General Order 24 is like that. Maybe it means “We’re in deep shit down here, so we’re gonna pretend to be psychos. Get everything ready to fire, down to Sulu’s antique slingshot, and act as Klingon as you can, but of course don’t actually shoot the place up; the threat alone oughta do it.”
Which brings me to the thread question: Was General Order 24 a for-real deal, or just a bluff?