In his youth he attended Starfleet Academy at the same time as James T. Kirk, but was dropped in his fifth year because he failed a psychosimulator test. After this, he joined the Merchant Marine instead.
In 2262, the Beagle became disabled near the System 892, when it suffered damage from a meteor storm. Merik and a landing party beamed down to the fourth planet of the system to look for iridium ore for repairs.
While on the planet, Merik was met by the local inhabitants lead by Proconsul Claudius Marcus. The proconsul convinced Merik that it would be unfair to 892-IV's highly traditional society to carry the word of their existence elsewhere. Persuaded, Merik had the remainder of his crew beam down to the surface, where they were regarded as barbarians by the inhabitants and forced to fight as gladiators. By the time the Enterprise found the remains of the SS Beagle after six years Kirk and company witnessed on TV [with the exception of Merik] the last of the Beagle crew (Flight Officer William B. Harrison) killed in the arena. Merik became Merikus, the First Citizen and Lord of the Games.