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Conflict initiated between the United Federation of Planets and the Gorn Hegemony after the Gorn's successfully taking control over a Federation outpost, which the Gorn declared to be within their territory. During space combat between the Gorn's ship and the USS Enterprise a sophisticated and powerful alien race named the Metrons appeared unexpectedly and took both ships into custody by disabling their power. The Metrons claimed such warlike behavior to be primitive and chaotic and forced the captains of the respective ships to resolve their differences personally, in a hand-to-hand combat on a nearby desert planet. The winner would be allowed o leave, while the loser would have his ship destroyed. Kirk and the Gorn were transported to the planet by the Metrons and engaged in battle, employing a variety of techniques. While the Gorn is stronger, he is also slower due to his reptile metabolism; but his intelligence is not below human. Eventually, Kirk manages to build a primitive cannon using the materials available and hits the Gorn, becoming in advantage; but refuses to kill him. The Metrons acknowledge this as a noble attitude and decide to return both captains to their respective ships unharmed.
After this, the Gorn species would have only cameo appearances in the animated series and in an Enterprise episode set in the mirror universe. They would play a major role in the non-canon graphic novel The Gorn Crisis set during the Next Generation era.