Arena: Cestus III Fortress Set

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Scott Kellogg, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Good call about Coon's military background (which I had forgotten although most males in his age cohort had served) - he and Pevney were certainly in top form directing and scripting what was essentially a short-form combat action movie.

    I wouldn't want Kirk deprived of his big moment either. One guy repulses an attack that devastated an entire outpost. Not bad. Also, I think the Enterprise firing from orbit was probably impossible anyway (out-of-universe if not in-universe) because of the lack of clarity over whether the ship can fire through the deflector shields, which is still a familiar debate today (featuring insights from some really sharp people) on this board. Also, even though Kirk disclaims any care for his own safety, the proximity of the landing party to the targets (1200 yards?) probably would have given Sulu significant pause before using either the ship's phasers or photon torpedoes. Kelowitz isn't sanguine about firing the ground-based torpedo launcher; it seems likely that the Enterprise had far more firepower, although the intensity of the phasers could probably have been adjusted downward, unlike the torpedoes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
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  2. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, at this stage of the writing, they hadn't used the phasers on ground based targets yet.
    Arena was Episode 18. The first time they talked about firing on ground targets was Taste of Armageddon
    and the first time they did it was The Alternative Factor. At this point ground based heavy artillery was based on "The Cage" where they had to beam down the phaser. So, I can forgive that they just didn't think of it.

    Besides, as a climax to the battle, it's a damn fine one.

    I think it really shows off just how clever the Gorn were. They set up a damn fine ambush. I don't recall the Usual Enemies pulling any attacks that were so well executed. It's a damn shame that afterward, the Gorn ended up forgotten, or just a monster with claws and no brains.

    Scott Kellogg
     
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  3. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well the Gorn ship was keeping the Enterprise busy...

    edit to add; @Henoch good catch on the fourth sign. Glad i said "at least three" :D
     
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  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In terms of the military experience of those involved, calling for shore bombardment would be rather routine, including against targets less than a mile from your position. And if firing through shields deprives you of "full phasers", such as at Eminiar, all the better for those close to ground zero!

    What were the Gorn doing? Sulu was firing at them and either missing or failing to hurt, apparently chiefly due to the distance involved. He spoke of "returning fire", so apparently the Gorn had fired first. But did they keep on firing? We got no visual, auditory or dialogue cues of this. Sulu then withdraws at warp, while the Gorn apparently remain within (their) transporter range of the planet. Or at least them coming back in and swooping up their surviving team is never mentioned - only their departure is commented on.

    We might think the Gorn had the mightier ship, and scared Sulu away simply by standing very still. I mean, that's pretty much how the fight between Kirk and the Gorn captain later goes, too. But if the Gorn were invulnerable, why did they lose the fight? That is, they had been able to destroy the outpost, and apparently almost managed to capture Kirk by holding back their ground assault, but now that the capture team was gone, why not kill all the evil humans and avenge their raping Cestus III?

    If OTOH the Gorn had the weaker ship and had to flee, and only ever managed to oppose Sulu by keeping their distance and firing harassing shots that forced Sulu to maintain shields, we can blame Sulu's inexperience for him failing to blast the Gorn out of the sky. Kirk and his tactical aides might have seen through the Gorn weakness, which is why it was a good thing they were all down on the planet. :devil:

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Really? I've never encountered such a debate before. I thought it's always been quite obvious that ships can fire with their shields raised; shields would be pretty useless in combat if they couldn't, and we've seen countless examples of it onscreen. The only thing that's ever required dropping shields was using the transporters.
     
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  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    As said, "A Taste of Armageddon" contests that. Phasers suffer from having shields up (although whether due to power allocation issues or penetration issues, we aren't told) while transporters work just fine and allow Fox and his aide to beam down in the middle of a tense combat situation without Scotty even noticing.

    "Arena" could remain consistent if it's the beaming up that is stopped by shields, just as it is the firing in that gets blocked, not firing out.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  7. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    I agree with your position that it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense at first blush, but (from a Taste of Armageddon, which of course is pretty close to Arena in production order):

    DEPAUL: All stations reporting. Deflector screens rigged at full power. Phaser crews ready. Sensors reading zero. Correction. Mister Scott.
    SCOTT: Yes, Mister DePaul?
    DEPAUL: Sensor readings just shot off the scale.
    SCOTT: Well, now. They're taking pot shots at us. Holding, Mister DePaul?
    DEPAUL: Screens firm, sir. Extremely powerful sonic vibrations. Decibels eighteen to the twelfth power. If those screens weren't up, we'd be totally disrupted by now.
    MCCOY: Well, I guess that answers our questions, Mister Scott. They're not very friendly, are they?
    SCOTT: Aye, but what about our Captain and the landing party down there somewhere?
    MCCOY: We get them out.
    SCOTT: If they're alive, and if we can find them. That's a big planet.
    MCCOY: Not too big for the Enterprise to handle if it has to.
    SCOTT: We can't fire full phasers with our screens up, and We can't lower our screens with their disruptors on us. Of course I could treat them to a few dozen photon torpedoes.
    FOX: (entering the Bridge) You'll do no such thing, Mister Scott.



    So anyone with input into the Taste of Armageddon teleplay either wrote that or let it slip by. Like @Scott Kellogg has hypothesized, they seem to have been fleshing out the ship's capabilities. It was mid-S1, after all. And even this excerpt reflects some internal flexibility - or inconsistency if preferred - with DePaul stating that the phaser crews were ready. Why, if activation of the deflectors preempted their use? (If I remember right, some of the posters here examining this question have talked about a possible rapid-fire, perhaps even computer-controlled interplay mechanism whereby the shields are lowered only long enough for phasers to be fired, then (automatically?) immediately raised again the moment the phaser fire ceases.

    Scotty's mention of the inabililty to fire "full phasers," which I guess means that something less than full phasers could have been used, also leaves wiggle room, perhaps left in as a hedge for possibilities in future scripts. Or, of course, for a bunch of people to discuss 50 years later via interactive typewritten inputs into a worldwide information exchange and communications system.

    Yeah, that's certainly possible. However, Arena itself strongly suggests that space-to-surface bombardment was a thing, when the surviving lieutenant describes the Gorn attack on Cestus III:

    MAN: They came in space normal speed, using our regular approach route, but they knocked out our phaser batteries with their first salvo. From then on we were helpless. We weren't expecting anything! Why should we? We didn't have anything anyone would want.
    KIRK: Easy. Easy.
    MAN: They poured it on, like, like phasers, only worse, whatever they were using. I tried to signal them. We called up. Tried to surrender. We had women and children. I told them that! I begged them! They wouldn't listen. They didn't let up for a moment.


    Then there's Balance of Terror:

    HANSEN [on viewscreen]: 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 [i.e., the Romulan weaponry] did this. Can you see?

    Granted, those are both examples showing non-Starfleet ships firing on ground-based targets. Maybe the intent was to show the Gorn and the Romulans as serious alien contenders because they had this capability and Starfleet didn't, although the Enterprise seems at least a match if not more than a match for both the Bird of Prey and the Gorn vessel otherwise.
     
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  8. Scott Kellogg

    Scott Kellogg Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Ah, I just thought of something:
    The Gorns were being clever and providing the writers with an excuse why they couldn't use orbital fire:
    They jammed the communicators, and Kirk used the last few moments to tell Sulu to protect the ship.

    Thus, the writers force a situation where Kirk's actions alone are required to save the day.
    Clever!

    Scott
     
  9. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    It might be simple power distribution at play. If shields are at full power, then there might not be enough power to use the phasers at full power. The shields were using all (most) of the ship's power to repel the ground assault. The shields were probably sucking the power from the impulse engines, so, the Enterprise was unable to move out of range to a higher orbit or break orbit, too.
     
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  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That seems like pretty shoddy design. I mean, the situations where you need to be able to fire phasers at full power are the same situations where you'd need to have the shields at full power. It doesn't make sense to assume it's a tradeoff between one and the other. I think Scotty's line in "Armageddon" just has to be ignored as early-installment weirdness, a result of the writers and producers still feeling out how the technology works -- similar to how the episode failed to explain how Fox could beam down with the shields up.
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Is it shoddy design or just an inherent and kinda believable issue of trying to fire energy beams through an energy barrier?
     
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  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's not at all believable, because of the practical necessity of having strong shields at the same time that you have strong weapons. If getting them both to work simultaneously is a design problem, it's a problem that there would be a very, very powerful incentive to solve.

    More importantly, it consistently does not work that way anywhere else in the franchise. It's an anomaly mentioned in one episode and never again, like James R. Kirk. Creativity is a process of revision and refinement, in which ideas are thrown at the wall and not all of them stick.
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Fact Trekker Premium Member

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    Just because something is impractical doesn't mean you can magically solve it because it's a priority. Sometimes, man...
     
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  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Show me where else in canon they ever say this is an issue. If there is one instance that contradicts every other reference, it makes zero sense to side with the exception over the rule. Kirk's middle initial is not R. TOS is not set 900 years after Napoleon and Hamilton. And ships don't need to drop shields to fire the phasers.
     
  15. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    It seems to be a problem not solved during the early TOS era. :shrug: Photon Torpedos were still an option in A Taste of Armageddon, and Scotty indicated for ground bombardment, too. :techman:
    In A Piece of the Action, The Apple and Who Mourns for Adonis, phasers were used against ground targets, plus in Mirror, Mirror, they were planning to use phasers against the Halkans. Ground bombardment with both phasers and photon torpedoes is well established for Starfleet.
    During The Changeling, Scotty diverted warp power from the engines to the shields giving up speed for protection. Kirk then used photon torpedoes against Nomad while the shields were at full.
    As for phasers, it was suggested during TOS that phaser banks needed to be charged up, first. Since the Enterprise was on a diplomatic mission in A Taste of Armageddon, even though the phaser crews are on stand by, its phaser banks may have not been charged up to show (via the Eminian's sensors) that they come in peace. YMMV :).
     
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  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Okay, that makes more sense.
     
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  17. hofner

    hofner Commodore Commodore

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    A lot of people might jump on me for this but...

    Right or wrong, I assumed shields were one way like one way glass, where you can see out but you can't see in. In the case of shields, you can fire and beam out but you can't fire or beam in.

    Shrug

    Robert
     
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  18. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    My understanding has been that shields have frequency. So they're not actually up continually but in very rapid flashes. The phasers are also fired at frequencies that match the shields and can fire through the miniscule timing gaps. Almost like how WWI aircraft were timed so the machineguns would fire through the area of the propellers without actually hitting the propellers.

    This frequency stuff was the reason the Klingon BoP in Generations was able to sink the E-D; they had bugged Geordie's visor and were able to time their weapons to fire thought the Enterprise's shield frequency because Geordie looked at the shield stats screen in his daily routine.

    Presumably, transporters can't go through shields because they need longer windows than are afforded by the method weapons fire takes.

    --Alex
     
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  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, basically. As defined in the TNG Technical Manual, deflector shields are basically gravitational gradients that deflect incoming energy or projectiles away from the hull of the ship, rather than flat walls. So something that's starting at the ship and going outward already wouldn't be deflected the same way as something coming in toward it.

    I think that in early TOS, the "deflectors" were meant to be more like repulsor beams than walls. The original idea proposed by their science consultants was a meteoroid deflector beam that would sweep ahead of the ship to clear debris, and Tyler referred to this in "The Cage" as "the meteorite beam." In "The Corbomite Maneuver," Sulu said that deflectors weren't stopping the approach of the cube buoy, suggesting that their effect operated at a long range over the course of an object's approach. It wasn't until "Mudd's Women" that we first heard of a "deflector screen," and even that was something that could be projected forward around another ship some distance away. In "Charlie X," Spock said that "deflectors indicate no solid substance" to the Thasian ship off their bow, again indicating an effect that operates over a distance. The term "deflector shield" then debuts in "Balance of Terror."

    Even later on, the general paradigm in TOS was that there were multiple screens/shields rather than a single one. So both weapons and deflectors were energies projected directionally outward from the ship, and thus could presumably operate in parallel. The idea of a "solid" force-field wall around the ship didn't come along until TMP with its "new force field" on top of the conventional deflectors -- with TNG then redefining deflectors to be a single shield bubble like the TMP force field.
     
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  20. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yep. Exactly. Star Trek Generations and the Borg battles on TNG made it explicit that deflector shields are like fluorescent lights: they flicker at a resonance frequency, and if you know the frequency, you can shoot right through them.

    That's how you shoot outward through your own shields. The thing in "Armageddon" had to be about having enough power leftover to shoot full phasers. The ship's technology wasn't fully developed yet in universe, we can say.