STAR TREK Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci Talk Sequel, Khan, and Klingons

     September 13, 2010


Expectations are incredibly highly for J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek sequel.  Re-launching the franchise was no small task, but now he, along with writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, must keep the series flying high.  One of the major questions is who will be the villain?  Here’s what Kurtzman said regarding that topic and whether Chris Pine may be shouting “KHAAAAN!”:

Starting at a premise of what you want to see and then working a story around it is not how we do it. You have to start with what is the right story. And that if you can say “That’s a story that Khan fits into”, that’s how you get to that. Not deciding on a menu list of items and then seeing if you can’t string them all together.

Hit the jump for more on the villain (including my thoughts on why it shouldn’t be Khan), Klingons, and the tone of the sequel.

star_trek_wrath_of_khan_movie_poster_01I don’t think Khan should be the villain in Star Trek 2 because:

A)     Khan only brings his wrath because of Kirk’s actions in the original series’ episode “Space Seed”.  Those events never take place within the new movies because they’re an alternate universe.  The alternate universe Trek of the new movies is a smart idea because it doesn’t disrupt canon, however, the flipside is that it doesn’t get to play with it.

B)     Fanboys who want Khan as the villain shouldn’t be afraid of creativity. Let Abrams and co. create a new baddie.

C)     The only way for Abrams’ Trek to truly step out of the shadow of the original Trek is to boldly go into new storylines, rather than trying to match their Khan movie to Wrath of Khan (a battle Abrams’ sequel will almost surely lose).

Back to their interview in SFX Magazine [via], here’s what Orci said regarding the villain:

Introducing a new villain in the sequel is tempting because we now have this incredible new sandbox to play in. On the other hand, some fans really want to see Klingons and it’s hard not to listen to that. The trick is not to do something that’s been seen before just because you think it will be a short cut to likeability.

Finally, regarding the tone of the sequel, the pair said that it will be similar to the first film.  Says Kurtzman:

The first one had dark elements, but was ultimately very warm. We’d hope to strike a similar balance [in the sequel].

And Orci adds:

Humor is part of the franchise and I think it’s critical, certainly to the Bones-Spock relationship. It’s definitely a big part of the Bones-Kirk relationship. So, I don’t see any world where humor doesn’t play a part.

So what do you think: should Khan be the villain in Star Trek 2?  Should the villain be a Klingon?  Sound off in the comments section.

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  • John

    I agree with Matt Goldberg that Khan as a villain would be just wasted potential. The reason why Wrath of Khan worked so well was because it acknowledged that, after decades of fighting big ol’ space battles, Kirk had made a lot of enemies. A lot of crazy enemies. Khan was a particularly dangerous one and this forced Kirk to deal with the consequences of his actions, even if they were heroic. On top of all this, Shatner’s performance as Kirk is so defined by that movie (at least in how the “KHAAAAN!” moment is constantly referenced and parodied) that Chris Pine, and the rest of the film, would be totally in the original’s shadow. People would just be waiting for “KHAN,” or at least opportunities to make a joke about it. I’m all for involving Klingons, but a new villain, be it a Klingon, a floating gas cloud, or a new race, is what the series needs now.

  • Klimick

    I agree that Khan shouldn´t be the villain. I´d prefer a klingon as they are a very important part of the Star Trek Universe. We could have references to Kor, main klingon antagonist in the original series, but I rather have a new oponent. A female Klingon commander could be an interesting twist and bring a different perspective.

  • Dave

    No Khan! But, don’t abandon the potentials to connect the new & old universes by ignoring fan favorites. Klingons can be in the movie without being the main villain of the movie (like the Female Commander idea!) – they could easily be unsteady allies against some greater foe … Gorn, Tholian, Kelvin … etc …

    • Tasana_Studios

      Khan will not work, I think the Federation should make nice with the Romulans over the last movie and the Klingons feel the threat and launch an all out war, or try to.

    • Tasana_Studios

      Khan will not work, I think the Federation should make nice with the Romulans over the last movie and the Klingons feel the threat and launch an all out war, or try to.

  • Anonymous

    OK. It’s all new so why not really play with the mythology. Khan and his people were found in stasis floating. Why not start fresh with Khan being found and revived… but by Klingons. How would that story play out? Would Khan now be for or against the Klingons? Kirk and Khan against the Klingons!

    • Tasana_studios

      Intriguing, but have Khan make his way to the top and use the Klingons as a tool.

    • Tasana_studios

      Intriguing, but have Khan make his way to the top and use the Klingons as a tool.

  • Carlosdev

    I agree Khan doesn’t make sense to be the villain in the new sandbox. While perhaps down the road Khan can make an appearance, obviously the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s were likely unaffected by the change in the timestream because they occurred after they occurred. Klingons are a major part of the Star Trek Universe and should be at least addressed; it makes sense that the changes in the timestream wouldn’t affect the adversarial relationship between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Certainly there are plenty of potential villains in the new Star Trek Universe to play with – Romulans, the Gorn and so on. There’s also the Organians to deal with. I, for one, look forward to seeing how Abrams, Orci and Kurtzmann deal with their new sandbox; hopefully we’ll see a good mix of all-new characters as well as the familiar.

  • Merlin

    No Kahn, for reasons others have already stated. No Klingons, because I am just plain sick of them. Maybe the Romulans, Borg, Baddies attacking the Vulcans to get to Spock Prime and his knowledge of future technology. If Spock Prime dies off-screan wouldn’t it be cool if he left that legacy of knowledge in say Sarek, or the new Spock who would have to decide what to do with it. Do they stop the Hansons from making their voyage into the Alpha quadrent and be the first humans to be assimilated by the Borg. I would like to see a Betazoid in the new movie as well as Carol Marcus and a young David and/or Saavik. I for one would prefer a movie of exploration, but please the Klingons have been done to death and frankly I am sick of them.

    P.S. Please bring back Bruce Greenwood as Admiral Pike. He adds gravitas to the series. Also, Spock Prime would have advance knowledge of who would betray the Federation in the future. Would he share that knowledge with Captain Pike.

    P.P.S. Do something original. Besides if you want to mine the original series there were lots of other bad guys to bring in. And where is Sybok keeping himself these days? Would the Romulans feel any guilt over what Nero did? Would any Vulcans lose control and want revenge? These are the continuing voyages of the Star Trek Universe!

    • Sam8988378

      Except Leonard Nimoy said he has retired from acting, for real.

  • Casey

    JJ Abrams may have some great writers, but should they really introduce a species Star Trek hasn’t? The reboot may have given the writers a lot of leeway, but introducing a species that is completely absent from TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, or the movies??? That seems to be going far beyond mere space travel…

    Also, just because Space Seed hasn’t happened doesn’t mean Kahn isn’t crazy and fully capable of being a major player in the next movie. Furthermore, being a major player doesn’t mean that he is a bad guy. What is apparent is that Kahn and his mutant cronies are out there, somewhere, waiting to be found.

    That being said, Klingons were the staple bad guy in TOS and should be the heaviest contender for the villains.

  • Hayneja

    It wouldn’t hurt to have some sort of Khan cam’o. But instead of the Enterprise finding the sleeper ship “SS Botany Bay” in “Space Seed” it shoould be the “USS Reliant” as in “The Wrath of Khan” finding an advanced earth spaceship built using an
    ancient alien technology by a now extict race of beings. The “USS Reliant” finds the “SS Botany Bay” adrift moments before drifting into Klingon space towards the mining moon of Praxis.

  • Bpturner

    How are they going to deal with all of the things from the original universe where Captain Kirk saved the galaxy or at least Earth? Every week he bumped into someone with an agenda or a planet with people being ruled by Landru or Vol, etc. That planet eater is still out there somewhere devouring galaxies. There’s also a giant amoeba and the Changling. There on the way to our sector. Is some other starship captain going to get the credit?

  • Lou

    After seeing the Klingons in the deleted scenes of the Star Trek DVD, I’d really like to see more of them. They had a very different look than we’re used to and it would be interesting to see how they would portrayed in this alternate universe. The original Star Trek II and Ricardo Montalban’s portrayal stand out in Star Trek history and should remain that way. Trying to recreate that would be really difficult to pull off.

  • Jzagri

    NO! No kahn.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, no Kahn. You can’t recapture that movie, so don’t try. That is what killed the TNG movies, they kept tried to recreate Kahn. I too would like to see the story of Carol Marcus.

  • Jge2nd

    Except that’s not new either, since it was female Klingon commanders in Generations.

  • Guest

    How about the greatest threat to the Abrams Star Trek universe, third grade science. I’m not talking stuff like FTL and Quantum physics, I’m talking about the basics like how a planet orbits a star, what a super nova is or what a galaxy is. This ultimate form of pure evil could take the form of a doomsday device like a book, or even a teacher. With this reboot only being made for the frat crowd imagine how terrifying these things would be for the audience. But I heard him say he was going to put a different enemy in just like he put a different one from the last original franchise movie… so that means the bad guy is going to be Romulan (probably a bald guy in a big ship).

  • Ahand

    I definitly agree 150% that Khan should not be the villian but i also agree that there should be a cameo of some sort for that character. I dont think they should try to bring William Shatner into the picture as a futre kirk as it just wouldnt feel right. I believe, it would be cool if the writers could think of a new race to be the villians but then again that wouldnt be right because we would have hardly any knowledge of them. The other films villians were so great (except for Star Trek V’s) because we knew about them before hand thanks to the shows. The borg were never really big screen villain material until we saw them assimilate picard and play an emormous part of the series. Same with the old series. romulans and Klingons would not have made as great of villains if we had no prior knowledge of them. So, if i was to pikc the villain, romulans would be out of the question because it would be stupid to do same villain, 2 movies in a row. i think it would be great if they came up with a badass klingon (no female commander please! Already done in Star Trek Generations) or maybe even a rogue starfleet crew/captain might be cool. Or! maybe, doing what the PS2 game “Star Trek: Shattered Universe” did and play into the “alternate of the alternate universe” where they get stuck in the other changed universe and are now enemies of the entire starfleet but! friends with the klingons or romulans and have the movie be their journey to escape. idk. sounds cool to me.

  • Heychump

    No Khan…new villian please…but tie the Klingons into it…

  • Mekt_Ranzz

    Refer to the original Star Trek episode “The Savage Curtain” as a way to include any number of villains you wish to, including Khan.

  • Soundguy

    Why does there have to be a flesh and blood villain at all? Some of the best Trek stories were built around a clever set of circumstances for the crew to overcome. There’d be a sense of discovery rather than the mustache twirling that killed the TNG series of films in my opinion.

  • Heather

    Please no Khan and no Klingons. I’d rather see them battle the Romulans again then see the Klingons or Khan pop up on screen.

  • Andywandypandy

    I agree that with the alternate timeline comes a virtually limitless potential to explore literally anything they want. It seems a waste to go to the trouble of a reboot/remake, only to rehash old, familiar plots, which, inevitably, will only be endlessly compared to Star Trek II, which will be hard to top in of itself. That said, I’ve always found it funny that with so many recurring alien races, throughout all the series,’ the Talosians, from the very beginning of Trek, were curiously the ones that were never again visited. That always seemed rather odd to me, as they were a race you would think with SOME more dramatic potential. I wouldn’t want a remake of the original episode, but I think there would be an interest to see them again, and in what more fitting way then with the same ole’ characters who dealt with them in the first place.

  • sam

    Imagine a joyous treat in $2.99 ! Grab your pre order of Versant debut album as they are going to rock on 2st Sept

  • John F. C. Taylor

    Ever read the novels? How about How Much For Just The Planet? I’d really enjoy seeing the crew of the Enterprise getting into a pie fight with the Klingons.

    • qoraQ

      Oh I so agree. Ever since I first read that book I thought it would make an excellent movie. Also I think Klingons should make an appearance at least. They were the staples of the original movies and I think that they were part of the reason those films worked so well. Romulans and the TNG movies just didn’t work. The Borg can’t be done either and keep any kind of continuity. The signal to bring them to earth would only have just gotten to the collective, and they would be sending the first ships that destroyed the Romulan and Federation listening posts. (TNG “The Neutral Zone) But Kirk and the Klingons in a pie fight? Oh that would be classic.

  • Ronhitler

    Forget the old series and surprise us like you did with the new Star Trek and you cant go wrong! I’d be more concerned with which actor is going to be the new villan as apposed to whether he’ll be Romulan or Klingon…..

  • Ronhitler

    Forget the old series and surprise us like you did with the new Star Trek and you cant go wrong! I’d be more concerned with which actor is going to be the new villan as apposed to whether he’ll be Romulan or Klingon…..

  • Merki

    Vulcans lose their emotional control & seek revenge on the Romulans? Or the Romulans & Klingons attack a now crippled federation with Humans & Vulcans now fighting for their survival.

  • Dave

    I love Kahn, everybody does. I say if it happens, they set it up in this one, so he can come back and exact his wrath in a future installment.

  • Dave

    I love Kahn, everybody does. I say if it happens, they set it up in this one, so he can come back and exact his wrath in a future installment.

  • Dave

    Also, I’d like to see how Kirk and crew handle the Borg.

  • Keachick

    First – no Khan.

    Second – if we can’t have a female Klingon commander because there was already one in TNG etc, I guess we can’t have any Klingons at all, because much of TOS, TNG, and at least three of the movies all had male Klingon commanders. Actually, I think there should be some Klingons shown in the sequel but they don’t have to be a major part of the movie and Kirk meeting a female Klingon commander could be interesting…

    Third – one of the better reasons for this new Star Trek occurring in an alternate universe, is that they can avoid bringing in horrible characters like Carol Marcus, who had Kirk’s baby and then broke his heart. If they do, this time Kirk quickly sees her for the selfish bitch that she is and avoids her. He goes on to find another much nicer woman and has a child to her.

    Fourth – why would the Vulcans seek revenge on the Romulans? And why would the Romulans feel guilt over what happened to Vulcan? They had nothing to do with the destruction of Vulcan. This alternate universe Romulus would not know anything about Nero and the Narada. There would be ample opportunity for prime Spock and the Federation to spell this fact out to surviving Vulcans. Anyway, I don’t want to see another revenge story and a rather silly one at that.

    They could introduce a new race (I have my own ideas), who are enemies of no one but the Kirk finds that these people need help from the Enterprise, though they do not realise it themselves at first. Perhaps it is because of some villainy and/or some natural phenomenon occurring that threatens their world. There is something of a puzzle, and McCoy finds he knows a big piece of it, because of his work as a doctor on the planet that he and his ex-wife were living on before he joined Starfleet.

  • mindstream

    One word……TRIBBLES!

    • Sam8988378

      Love the tribbles, both in the original episode and especially the Deep Space 9 episode treatment. But I don’t see how anything new can be added to it.

  • Joereporter

    The Borg

  • Anonymous

    Tholians, Orions, Klingons… seriously they can use anything and make a movie on it. As long as they avoid all the stupid time travel garbage, and Q’s and stuff like that.

    If they EVER do Khan, they should do it as an adaptation of the episode first because “exiled criminal of eugenics war made of the best stuff and followed by the stuff they scraped together” would take on a whooooooollllle new meaning.

    I mean, it’s supposed to still be all about exploration. GO EXPLORE!!!

  • Ajb1776

    Uhura should be empshasized a little more. Zoe Saldana did a great job in Avatar and should not be ignored, as Nichelle Nichols was in the post-series big screen movies. Uhura can be kidnapped for her communicative skills and the gang must save her. We can learn more about her background. With the love interest between Uhura and Spock, you know Spock will leave no stone unturned to get the villains.

  • Rumplestiltskin

    hmmm, a reboot of the Mirror Mirror episode or perhaps bring a young Q back for a few hard lessons on human humility? Can’t go wrong with looping time travel theme either, always good for a plot.
    Or they can throw caution to the wind and go for a complete all-out Federation battle on an epic scale against some previously unknown malicious alien threat (Starship-Troopers style) pitting fleets of ships battling it out in space and covert ground operations. :>)

  • Belltoons

    The Borg? Q? Do you guys want to kill the wonder of this excellent revamp of ST classic by borrowing storylines and plots from Next Generation? Give me a break!

    As for bringing back Khan or Carole Marcus, keep in mind that the Kirk is Kirk because of experiences in his life that shaped him. Khan is one of those.. but the beauty of the reinterpreted universe is that the Botany Bay can be reintroduced in a whole new way that brings out the challenge of Khan as a totally different adventure.

    Ricardo Montalban may have been an unforgettable Khan, defining the character.. but if that’s going to be your argument, you never would have allowed J.J. Abrams the opportunity to introduce Chris Pine and this new crew to begin with.

    So you have all these Trek Classic stories that people loved. Some want them re-done, others want them left untouched. I say, why not mix them up a bit? What if young Khan and crew of the Botany Bay, found lost in space, boarded the Enterprise just before the crew’s discovery of Balok and the Fesarius? Balok’s interest in humanity could be played to a very different turn. ..Or the Guardian of Forever? Khan, not McCoy, leaps through the portal, in an attempt to re-play the Eugenics Wars and take over Earth.

    Just examples, but you catch my drift. Take the episodes that defined TREK and turn them on their ears in ways that still play to heroic outcomes and develop the characters.

  • John Verco

    You are right. Khan should not be in any of the sequels. Most importantly because no one can match Ricardo Montalban’s portrayal of the character. He made the character what it is.

    Judging from the quality of the first remake of “Star Trek” I have full faith in Orci and Kurtzman as writers, and I know that they will create interesting new characters for the sequel.

    It’s not really about the villain anyway. It’s about the camaraderie of the protagonists. It has always been about this with all of the Star Trek franchises.

  •!/Ltdumbear Ltdumbear

    Personally, I’m burned-out on Klingons…but Star Trek is ALWAYS most entertaining when it comes to ‘intersecting time-lines’. Perhaps this might work: Kirk is tasked with looking into a distress signal, which ends up coming from the original inventor of ‘warp-drive’, Zephram Cochrane (played by Djimon Hounsou ?) who is being pursued by an insane, power-hungry ex-military dictator (played by Alfred Molina ?) who (as it happens) both arose from the ashes of WW-III…where Khan Noonian Singh ALSO came from. I would NOT waste time re-doing ‘Space-Seed’, or a similar ‘Wrath Of Khan’ type of prequel…but a CLEVER writer could see the challenge of putting together a ‘flashback scene’ where Khan and the Dictator have previous ‘business dealings’, prior to Khan blasting off into space in search of HIS new ‘utopia’, and the dictator pursuing Cochrane (for warp-technology which he mistakes as a new ‘super-weapon’. ala: ‘Federation’ by Judith Garfield Reeves Stevens). It’s a double-edged sword for Kirk and crew to deal with either way you look at it. Throw in a ‘Klingon – First Contact’ sequence for good measure, and you’ve tied it all together for a 3rd Star Trek project, which JJ might (or might not) choose to direct.

  • Sam8988378

    New villain. Not Kahn. Klingons? Yes. As THE villain? Not sure. The last villain was driven by grief and plunged into insanity. It might be interesting to see an entire race with a grudge. Perhaps the planet chosen as the new Vulcan (who wants to bet they choose another barren rock planet?), unleashes “something”?

  • Sam8988378

    Does anyone remember the season 1 episode of the original Star Trek called “Operation Annihilate”? There were these little round creatures which could leap, attach themselves to a person, and insert something which could control a person through the use of pain. Perhaps something along these lines could have been dormant (like ticks, forever, eeww), until construction on New Vulcan disturbed them. They could turn Vulcan into a villain race! Vulcans are sort of xenophobic, so there is plenty of time for those little suckers to become entrenched. Tell me this doesn’t have potential!

  • Civ_man2000

    I’m not going to propose what the sequel’s story should be, but I will agree with the masses in that Khan should NOT be the new villain. I’m all for creativity and seeing something new. Klingons are also played out in the original movies and as far as I’m concerned, should not have a major villain role. I won’t mind them being a supporting villain to the main villain or something like that. It will be interesting to see the “Bird of Prey” cloak and de-cloak with our 21st century technology.

  • Gassiusmaximous

    I hope they tone the humor down a little and make the plot much more intricate

  • Bstormy

    why does there have to be a “villain”? Talk about small minded.

  • Seaview123

    Here’s a thought, Kirk’s not the same character we all know and love. He hasn’t had his Father’s influence while growing up and we’ve seen that he’s wilder and much more unpredictable. I hope the writers don’t forget that when penning the new sequel.

    Khan was a good character in the original series, but I think the new Kirk would kick his 21st century Indian dictator butt. The reboot only changed the Trek history from 30 years before the original series, so the rest of the story… World War III, the Indian supermen, the weird dope addicted troopers and the floating judges chair that Q showed Picard, that stuff still would have happened (yuck).

    I’m hoping for a story that takes elements of many of the 1st season of the series and tries to weave them into the story, and (in my opinion) the villains should probably be the pulsing headed psychic guys from the first pilot, or the shiny eyed Gary Mitchell from the second. And I wouldn’t mind seeing a cameo of the giant spaceship from the Corbomite Maneuver on the big screen, too.

  • The Lion Of Allah

    teh villahn shud beh khan!


  • Quercus

    Send the Enterprise and other Federation ships to investigate ‘wormhole’ which drags them all through.The empire-building Cardassians hoodwink the fleet into providing them aid but their true nature would be discovered, by Enterprise, before the defeat of the Bajorans. Nice big battle! Feringi, Changelings have great potential, too.

    • Greg Fessia, UT

      In fact, why don’t we have some super-rich Ferengi buy out the blossoming Federation and impose their chauvinistic laws on the Alpha Quadrant. Do we get to see some Breen, Jem’ Hadar and the Vorta?


    Khan sounds tempting but they are right to stir clear of him. It would be too contrived. I wouldn’t rule out Klingons but I think it’s too early to bring out the big guns. Let the new films get to a third installment and then start bringing in a few fan favorites. But whatever they decide with a villain, they should really spend time on developing him. It’s amazing that the current film is so good despite the lifeless and forgettable Nero. I like Bana and he convayed Nero as a dangerous person but he had no character. Had very little to work with. Foes of The Enterprise are similar to Batman villains; they cannot be ignored, are memorable and have distinct character traits- They have to because Kirk’s presense demmands it.

  • NathaninSeattle

    There is only one possible way Abrams can go in the sequel: Tribbles ALL THE WAY!

  • MIKE R


  • Greg Fessia, UT

    I have a brilliant idea. Bring back the Xindi. I’m sure that ol’ Capt. Archer and the rest of the NX-01 crew didn’t commit total genocide on them. In fact, whatever happened to the self-generating and self-replicating machine that NX-01 ran into in the 2nd season? What about the blue-skinned Andorians? How do the Bajorans and the Cardassians fit in to all of this? What’s the genesis of the Ba’ku in Insurrection?

  • Greg Fessia, UT

    Yes, I agree, there are many loose ends that need to be tied up. I don’t think that we have exercised all the possible options for the new ST movie. What about the alternate-timeline Empress Sato and her Terran Terrorists from the Alpha Quadrant? In fact, here’s an idea that no one has boldly gone to. Why don’t the Pah-Wraiths trick the Prophets into releasing Gul Dukat into the past and start wreaking havoc on the Federation and the Bajorans. Hasn’t anyone brought up the ‘Q’? What’s their stance on the events that took place between First Contact and Pine’s rendition of Kirk?

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  • Khan

    WHat is it with you trekkies bring back old Idea to the forum
    Greg haven’t you read

    1) Its an alternative Universe so why bring up the Xindi from a
    very, awkward, no sence and useless trek series Enterprise
    That show contradict the star trek time so often I lost count

    2) Even to bring back the Xindi show the lack of imagination.
    Im sorry dude theres alot of Ideas that TRek need to explore
    and that Sci-fi has taken a new turn after BSG
    Trek has a massive competiotion and expectation to show.

    I like Mike R idea but if they involve Section 31 on the level of “in the pale moonlight” this will most certainly score points.

  • Khan

    Bring back Khan ? NO !

    Klingons ? that depends how you want trek movie to be.
    Science fiction like on a level of gattica , 12 mokeys thought provoking ?

    If you’re going to bring the Klingons back how is it going to be done ? Klingons being the “Bad guys” thats been done to death so much its now, in reality, becoming RACIST !
    or have some kind of joint-venture STar trek5 has done it

    hmmmm ?

  • Jeff

    We’ve already seen the Romulans or Reman’s as movie baddies. Kinda tired of Klingons unless something interesting is done. If you really want to use Khan, use an alt universe khan who was revived by some freighter captain in his universe then went on to conquer his universe. Khan then after conquering an alien race has the technology to travel interdimesionally. Abrahm’s kirk runs into Khan after starbases in a particular sector go quiet and theyre sent to investigate. hoping for something interesting this time around.