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Star Trek Mirror Universe Saga #1: Spectre [NOOK Book]

Overview

Retired and happily in love, Kirk believes his adventuring days are over. But as he returns to Earth for the first time since his apparent "death" upon the Enterprise-B, events elsewhere in the galaxy set in motion a mystery that may provide Kirk with his greatest challenge yet.
The Enterprise-E, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is exploring an unstable region of space on a scientific mission of vital concern to Starfleet when they discover the last thing they ever...
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Star Trek Mirror Universe Saga #1: Spectre

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Overview

Retired and happily in love, Kirk believes his adventuring days are over. But as he returns to Earth for the first time since his apparent "death" upon the Enterprise-B, events elsewhere in the galaxy set in motion a mystery that may provide Kirk with his greatest challenge yet.
The Enterprise-E, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is exploring an unstable region of space on a scientific mission of vital concern to Starfleet when they discover the last thing they ever expected to find: a lonely, battle-scarred vessel that is instantly recognizable to every member of Picard's crew. Five years after being lost with all hands in the Delta Quadrant, the Starship Voyager has come home!
The commander of Voyager, one Tom Paris, explains that Captain Kathryn Janeway and half of the original crew is dead, but if that is true, who is the mysterious woman who has kidnapped Kirk back on Earth, pleading with him to assist her against a threat to the entire Federation?
All is not as it seems, and soon Kirk is forced to confront the hideous consequences of actions taken more than a hundred years prior, as well as his own inner doubts. After years of quiet and isolation, does he still have what it takes to put things right-and join with Captain Picard to save the lives of everyone aboard a brand-new Enterprise?
An unforgettable saga peopled by old friends and ancient enemies, Star Trek: Spectre propels Kirk on a journey of self-discovery every bit as harrowing as the cataclysmic new adventure that awaits him.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his fourth contribution starring his alter ego, Shatner (The Return, Audio Reviews, LJ 12/95; The Avenger, Audio Reviews, LJ 1/97) once again deposits Capt. James T. Kirk into the center of a highly intricate plot, where only he can save the universe. Co-written with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the author provides everything a Trekkie could ask for: two Mr. Spocks; a 150-year-old Dr. "Bones" McCoy; a time-displaced "Scotty"; a generous helping of action balanced by a pinch of camaraderie and sentiment; and topped off with contributing efforts by Captain Picard and Captain Janeway and their crews from The Next Generation and Voyager, respectively. This latest installment doesn't have quite the emotional investment in the family of characters as his last offerings. No matter; bestowed upon the reader are Kirk's heroics and love life, Spock and McCoy's acerbic bantering, and a crossover among three different casts. Shatner does his usual adequate job, offering a melodious reading with a hint of apathy. Recommended for all sf collections.Charlie Weiss, formerly with "Library Journal"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743454087
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek
  • Publication date: 2/21/2002
  • Series: Star Trek: All Series
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 278,278
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

William  Shatner
William Shatner is the author of nine Star Trek ® novels, including the New York Times bestsellers The Ashes of Eden and The Return. He is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Get a Life! and I'm Working on That. In addition to his role as Captain James T. Kirk, he stars as Denny Crane in the hit television series from David E. Kelley, Boston Legal -- a role for which he has won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. More information is available at williamshatner.com.
Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens are the authors of more than thirty books, including numerous New York Times bestselling Star Trek novels. Their newest novel of suspense, Freefall, is a follow-up to their Los Angeles Times bestseller, Icefire, and is set against the political intrigue and historical conspiracy surrounding the next race to the Moon.
In keeping with their interest in both the reality of space exploration and the science fiction that helps inspire it, in 2003 Judith and Garfield were invited to join a NASA Space Policy Workshop for the development of NASA's new goals as put forth in the agency's 2004 Vision for Space Exploration. Then, for the 2004 television season, the couple joined the writing staff of Star Trek: Enterprise as executive story editors. For more information, please visit www.reeves-stevens.com.
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Read an Excerpt


Prologue

"He's still alive," the Vulcan said.

Though Kate heard the Vulcan's words, she didn't understand their significance. She leaned forward across the small table in the bar on Deep Space Nine. Some huge alien with a drooping face like a shriveled prune had just won a triple Dabo. He was making so much noise by the gaming table that normal conversation was impossible.

A nervous Ferengi scampered out from behind the bar, pushing his way through the noisy crowd, arms waving. "Morn! Morn! Put her down!"

The alien, Morn presumably, was performing some type of victory dance with a Dabo girl. As he spun her around in his embrace, her feet no longer touched the floor and she was precariously close to losing what little there was of her outfit.

With all eyes and other sensing organs in the bar on the dancing Morn, the Vulcan took advantage of the distraction to slip a small padd across the table to her human companion.

Kate palmed the flat device, cupped her hand around its miniature display, and activated it. She gasped as she recognized the face that appeared. The hatred that sprang to life within her was like a physical blow.

"James Tiberius Kirk," the Vulcan whispered. She kept one hand -- her real one -- up by her face, half-covering her mouth. She was young, no more than twenty, Kate knew, but her eyes were older. Where she and the Vulcan came from, everyone's eyes were older.

"When was this image recorded?"

"A year ago," the Vulcan said. "During the virogen crisis, Kirk was arrested by port authorities at Vulcan. This is from a magistrate's hearing."

Instantly, Kate did the math. Kirk's birthdate, in the Earth year 2233, would be forever burned into her memory. "T'Val, that's impossible. This man is no more than sixty at most. But Kirk ... today, he'd be ... a hundred and forty-two years old."

A second Ferengi, in a Bajoran uniform, now joined the nervous one, and both took the place of the Dabo girl in Morn's arms. The lumbering alien was spinning the two Ferengi around as he hopped lightly from one foot to the other while bleating out a tuneless series of notes that sounded more like the mating call of a Yridian yak than the song of a sentient being.

The Vulcan, T'Val, sipped her water, using the moment to glance around the bar. "Eighty-two years ago, Kirk was presumed lost during the maiden voyage of a new starship from Earth. But in actuality, he was caught in a nonlinear temporal continuum."

Kate frowned. "I don't understand what that is," she said, staring once again at the monster on the padd display.

T'Val allowed a momentary flicker of shared confusion to play across her features, so subtle that none but another Vulcan, or Kate, would notice. Everyone else would be distracted by the flat red blister of a disruptor scar etched across the olive skin of her forehead. "Do not be troubled. No one does. But four years ago, Kirk was discovered within that continuum by . . ." T'Val's eyes scanned the nearby tables. Kate and she were in a corner, almost beneath the stairway that led to the second level and the notorious holosuites, but the Vulcan's attitude clearly stated that it paid to take no chances. T'Val dropped her voice to an even softer whisper.

...Starfleet Captain Jean-Luc Picard."

Kate's eyes widened. How could such a thing be possible? Even here?

T'Val continued. "After that, Kirk was once again thought to have perished almost immediately on the backwater planet where Picard retrieved him. But a year later, to everyone's surprise, he returned. A Romulan faction had used Borg technology to . . ." The Vulcan searched for the correct terminology.

"Bring him back to life?" Kate said.

But T'Val shook her head. "Logic dictates that because he lives today, he did not die then. It is more accurate to think of Kirk experiencing a momentary interruption in normal biological processes."

Kate had heard none of this before. "And then what?"

T'Val steepled her fingers, the fingertips of her natural right hand almost but not quite aligned with the crude bionic structure that served as her left hand. "And then, most of what followed is not part of the official record. It must be considered that, perhaps, Starfleet would prefer to keep the knowledge of Kirk's return a secret. Unofficially, it is known that two years ago, in a classified operation, Starfleet prevented a BorgRomulan alliance from invading the Federation. They did so by undertaking an unprecedented preemptive assault on what they believed might have been the Borg homeworld. Last year, the Borg response to that assault was the launch of a desperate, single-ship attack on Earth in which, unconfirmed reports suggest, the Borg created a chronometric passage to Earth's past, and attempted to change that planet's history."

Her mind swimming with all she was learning, Kate sat back in her chair and watched as Mom was led from the bar by a security officer, also in a Bajoran uniform, who bore a strangely planed face, as if he were a sculpture half-completed. She was surprised to see the nervous Ferengi pat Mom on the back. The gesture seemed one of support, yet Kate saw its true intent as it diverted attention from the Ferengi's other hand slipping into the hulking alien's belt and reappearing with a bar of latinum.

Kate was not the only one to have noticed the maneuver. The smooth-faced security officer stopped, faced the Ferengi, and held out his hand with an expression of tired disgust.

The Ferengi feigned innocence for a few moments as he muttered something about "damages." Then, looking equally disgusted with the security officer and the universe in general, he shrugged and surrendered the latinum.

He doesn't know how good he's got it here, Kate thought. She looked around the bar. None of these people do.

"And Kirk survived all of that?" Kate asked.

"He was not involved in defending Earth from the Borg. But last year, again under strict conditions of secrecy, he played a key role in resolving the virogen crisis."

"And now ... T'Val."

"And now, as best our sources can ascertain, he has withdrawn from all contact with the universe at large. Not even the war with the Dominion has drawn him out. In effect, he has retired. To a world named Chal."

Kate was intrigued. "A Klingon word?"

The Vulcan nodded. "'Heaven.' The one place where no one would expect to find Kirk. The colony on Chal was established more than a century ago by the Klingons and Romulans. A military installation to house a doomsday weapon, in case the empires lost what they expected to be an all-out war with the Federation."

Kate rubbed at a bead of moisture on the table. It was still a novelty to sit in a public place and not be afraid of being arbitrarily arrested. It was as refreshing as the new civilian clothes she wore, and the room she had rented in the habitat ring, a room she didn't have to share and where she could stand in the sonic shower all day if she wanted. The slight inconvenience of cutting her hair to bristleshort length and dyeing it flame red, as part of a disguise, was an inconsequential price to pay. She was certain that out of uniform, no one would recognize her, especially where they did not expect to find her. "If Kirk's retired, what makes our sources think that he has access to the material we need?"

"Starfleet honors its heroes."

Kate almost gagged at the term. "Hero? Kirk?"

"Remember where you are," T'Val cautioned her. "Following its standard policy to support personnel that have been temporally translocated, Starfleet stands ready to offer any aid and assistance to the famous Captain Kirk, at any time. Last year, he was even offered a position on the science vessel Tobias. He refused, but the Fleet would welcome a chance to reclaim one of its own, especially one with so much ... experience."

Kate nodded, a sour smile on her face. All around her and T'Val, the bar was returning to normal. Or, at least, as normal as any bar run by a Ferengi could be. "If Kirk is such a hero, if he's held in such high regard, why don't we just ask him for what we need?"

The Vulcan raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Given all you know," she said, "would you trust him?"

"Hell, no. How could it?"

"Precisely. Thus, we must place Kirk in a situation in which he will have no choice but to accept the sincerity of our request, and the inevitability of his compliance."

Kate studied the image on the padd. Automatic waves of revulsion swept through her. "He was never the sort to respond to threats."

"Threats, no," the Vulcan agreed. "But logic, yes."

"T'Val, whatever else he is, Kirk is no Vulcan. What if logic doesn't work?"

The Vulcan's face became an impassive slate. "Logic always works. And since total secrecy-for ourselves and our activities -- must be maintained, if James T. Kirk does not acquiesce to our requests, then we must do what logic demands." Kate didn't need to have it explained to her. "We kill him." "Precisely," the Vulcan said. "James Kirk has retired. For whatever reason, he has decided he has nothing else to contribute to this universe. But he can still serve us. And, if he will not, then he has no reason to live,"

"I could have told you that," Kate stared down at the image of Kirk on the padd. "In a way, I hope he doesn't cooperate. I think I would enjoy killing him."

For the briefest of instants, T'Val's face was transformed by a remarkable expression of emotionunfiltered hate and anger. "I understand," she said, and that emotion was in her voice as well as her eyes. Then, just as quickly, she regained her composure.

Kate held her finger above the padd's delete control, hesitated for just a moment of sweet anticipation, then pressed it. James T. Kirk was wiped from the device's memory as if he had been no more than a dream. Or a nightmare.

Erasing the detested image brought fierce pleasure. No question about it. For all he had done to her and her people, she would relish killing Kirk. She turned to her companion.

"Maybe after he's helped us," she said to T'Val, "you and I can kill him anyway."

The Vulcan's gaze was fixed on the blank padd display, and even Kate could read the unVulcanlike desire for revenge simmering beneath the surface. "Yes, we could," T'Val said. "One way or another, James Tiberius Kirk must die."

Copyright© 1998 by William Shatner

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First Chapter

Chapter One

His shadow stretched before him in the blazing light of Chal's twin suns, but James T. Kirk stood alone.

For a year he had known that this day would come. This final moment when all he had worked for on this world would end in victory, or in final, ignominious defeat.

All or nothing.

It was the way Kirk liked it.

The hot suns of Chal burned at his back. But he did not let their assault deter him from what he must do --

Now!

With a sharp intake of breath, Kirk wrapped his arms around the wrinkled gray covering of his enemy -- the beast that had relentlessly mocked him all through the year.

His muscles strained. Sweat poured from him.

His vision blurred with the effort.

All or nothing.

And then --

Movement!

He was doing it! He dug in his feet, struggled as he had never struggled in his life until --

-- with a startling crack a band of fire shot through his lower back like a phaser burst and he collapsed to the soil of Chal, gasping in agony.

James T. Kirk's back had gone out.

Again.

And the malevolent tree stump, that last gnarled mound of deadwood that was the final obstacle in the field he had cleared, the field where his new house would be built and his garden planted, remained in place. Mocking him still.

Kirk tried to sit up.

His back made him reconsider the idea.

He lay there for an endless time, finger tapping the soil. The pain did not bother him so much as the forced inactivity. Where's Dr. McCoy when you need him? he thought.

Then a shadow fell over him. A very short shadow. The sound of its owner's approach so silent he had been taken by surprise.

"What'sa matter, mister? You han of pity. "You want me to ask my mom if you can borrow it?"

"No. I am going to take that stump out by myself. With my own hands."

The child stared at Kirk as if the adult had suddenly begun speaking in an ancient Vulcan dialect. "Why?"

"Memlon," Kirk said. "Look around this field. Do you remember what it was like last year?"

Memlon held up his hand, fingers spread. "I'm six," he announced. As an afterthought, he held up one finger from his other hand as well.

Kirk took that to mean that Memlon had no memory of what this field used to look like. But Kirk did.

Three years ago, it had been like any other part of Chal's legandarily beautiful tropical islands: a slice of paradise, an Eden. Two years ago, the planet's plant life had been deliberately exposed to a virogen -- a hideous disease organism which had reduced Chal's islands to an apocalyptic landscape of brown stubble and withered yellow vegetation. Not a flower had bloomed on the planet in more than a year.

But then, in that same year, Kirk had returned to this world eight decades after his "death" during the maiden voyage of the Enterprise-B. With Spock and McCoy, and with Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his new generation of Starfleet's finest, Kirk had discovered the conspiracy that had inflicted that hideous act of environmental terrorism on the worlds of the Federation. With the interplanetary civilizations of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants on the brink of environmental collapse, he and his allies had helped the Federation defeat the Vulcan Symmetrist movement. McCoy came up with an antivirogen, and the ecosystems of a hundred worlds were now being restored through their own natural healing processes.

Kirk had not saved th e Federation, but he had bought it extra time to consider the fate that awaited it. In the next thirty years, he knew, and now others did too, that a new strategy of expansion and exploration must be embraced to allow humanity, and all the people of the galaxy, to live as part of the galactic ecology, not as its exploiters and spoilers. Otherwise, the next time environmental crisis struck, there would be no last-minute redemption.

But that was a challenge for Picard and his contemporaries. Kirk had fought his own war, too many times. So he had once again returned to Chal, and to his love, Teilani.

The spaceman had hung up his rockets. He was on this world to stay. To find a simpler life.

He had found it in this small patch of forest.

It was no more than a clearing in the midst of newly reborn vegetation, alive with birds and insects, ringed by vibrant green leaves, wreathed with flowers of uncountable colors. But it was Kirk's new home, new world, new universe.

A year ago, Teilani at his side, her hand in his, their hearts entwined, Kirk had stood in this clearing and, in an electrifying moment of self-realization, understood that he was Chal.

Born of conflict.

Subjected to incredible trials that had brought both to the edge of extinction.

And now, against all odds and expectations, reborn.

Kirk had never been one to waste the moments of his life, though he had too often been driven by his heart and by the moment, not by his intellect and reflection.

Here in this field, where his mind's eye in that instant had seen a simple wooden home, ringed by a veranda, powered by a simple windmill, and had seen the crops in the plots of soil to be carefully tended, Kirk resolve d that his life would change.

Teilani had looked at him then, into his eyes, and so great was their love, so close their connection, that Kirk had not had to explain a word of what had arisen in his mind.

"Your'e right," Teilani had said with perfect understanding "We'll build here. A house. A home."

And so in this field, Kirk had toiled.

Each tree he had cut down had been carefully stripped and planed to be used for that dwelling, so that nature's bounty wasn't squandered. Each tree had been replaced by a new seedling, precisely planted to provide shade for that dwelling and to maintain the balance of this world, so that nature was respected.

With a team of ordovers -- the horned, horselike beasts of burden of Chal -- pulling a hand-forged plow, Kirk had leveled the hillocks and filled in the depressions. He had carried the rocks that now strengthened the bank of the stream that flowed at the edge of the clearing. His skin had darkened beneath the suns of Chal, and since he no longer ate the precisely fortified and artificially enhanced foods Of Starfleet, his hair had become threaded with silver. But each week, the rocks had become easier to lift, the ax easier to swing. New purpose had given him new strength and vitality.

The first time he had come to Chal, more than eighty years ago, he had believed his life to be at its end. The Enterprise-B was about to be launched. His career was over. The universe had seemed to have no more need for James T. Kirk. Had his life truly ended when history had first recorded it on that maiden flight of the new Enterprise, it would have been fitting. What additional contributions could be expected of him? How much more could the un iverse demand?

But as Spock was fond of reminding him, there were always possibilities. And Kirk felt certain that not even the Guardian of Forever could have predicted all the further adventures that had remained for him. Kirk himself still could not fully comprehend the gifts that life had bestowed upon him, and how his career had continued past any expectation or dream he had held at its beginning.

But, at last, even those adventures had come to an end, and it was to Chal he had come home.

Thus, where once he had roamed the galaxy, now he seldom strayed farther than the small cabin he shared with Teilani, and this field where he toiled. At this time in his life, after all he had accomplished, there was challenge here enough.

And the focus of that challenge was that one last miserable stump.

"Are you okay, mister?"

Kirk blinked at the little boy. "What?"

"Were you asleep?"

"I was thinking."

The child nodded sagely. "That's what my dad says when he lies on the hammock on the porch. He snores a lot when he thinks. Do you snore?"

Kirk was glad Teilani wasn't here to answer that question. "No," he said.

"We're you thinkin' about the stump?"

"I was."

"How come you don't blow it up?"

This time, Kirk thought about the problem at hand: how to explain to a child the reasoning of an adult. "Memlon, someday, when you're grown, you're going to pass by this field. And there will be a house built right where we're standing -- "

"You're not standing, mister."

Kirk ignored him. " -- where we are right now. And you'll see the crops, and the trees, and you'll be able to say to your children, Jim Kirk made that field the way it is. He planted every tree, took out every rock and stump, hammering every nail into every board of that house. That's Jim Kirk's field."

Kirk smiled as he contemplated that image. He wanted to build something with his own two hands. Create something that was uniquely his.

But Memlon frowned. "Who's Jim Kirk?"

Kirk sighed. He remembered speaking with computers that were as exasperating as this child. "I am."

The boy peered at him suspiciously. "Are you...Cap'n Kirk?"

Here we go, Kirk thought. Even after so many years, that old rank still followed him. Haunted him. The two great truths of the universe were that the future could never be foreseen, the past never escaped.

"Yes, I am," Kirk said.

Memlon didn't seem convinced. He leaned forward as if he might be able to see right through Kirk. "You don't look crazy."

Kirk tried to stand but his back screamed at him, making him grimace again. He coughed to cover the sudden expression of discomfort as he remained planted on the ground. "Who...says I'm crazy?"

Memlon shrugged. "Everybody."

"Why?"

The shrug became more exaggerated. "I dunno."

"Memlon..."

The sound of that new voice was like a wave of cool water to Kirk. He turned quickly, as if he were a teenager again, awaiting his first love at a secret rendezvous. "Teilani!"

And Teilani rode into the clearing, a vision, a dream come to life, her white wrap billowing from her as she sat bareback on Iowa Dream. The horse was a spectacular animal, a genetic re-creation of one of Earth's antique breeds, known as a quarter horse. He had been a gift from Picard -- a peace offering, Kirk suspected, considering the tension that had still remained between them after their last encounter.

Iowa Dream -- the name cho sen by Picard as well, in memory of an ancient champion and their own first meeting -- stepped precisely from the trail to the center of the clearing, as magnificent as any other manifestation of nature on this planet.

Kirk didn't even bother to try to stand -- he knew he couldn't make it -- and he could see the look of amusement on Teilani's lovely face as she realized why he remained seated on the ground.

Memlon, on the other hand, shot off toward Teilani like a photon torpedo. "ghojmoHwl'! ghojmoHwl'!" he shouted. It was the Klingon word for "teacher," and Kirk realized that the child must be part of Teilani's weekly reading group.

Teilani expertly dismounted, her simple white leggings and tunic floating across her lithe body like wisps of clouds. Kirk had never seen anyone more beautiful, and in this setting, on this world, at this instant, his heart ached with his love for her.

Teilani walked over to Kirk, holding Memlon's hand, her bare feet sinking into the rich soil of Chal. She glanced at the stump. "The beast still mocks you?" she asked gravely.

"It started to move," Kirk said.

Teilani gave him a knowing smile. "But your back moved more?"

Kirk's face admitted the truth.

Teilani untangled her hand from Memlon's, then held out both to Kirk. "Keep it straight," she said with the voice of experience. "Use your legs."

Keeping his back rigid, Kirk pulled himself up with Teilani as his brace. Then his lips were only centimeters from hers, and it was as if time had stopped in that moment, each detail of her appearance only serving to entrance him once again.

In human terms, Teilani might appear to be fifty, though like that of a Vulcan's, her unique genetic heritage thor oughly concealed the fact that she had lived for more than a century. Her hair, tied back for riding, was even more silvered than Kirk's, though to his eyes, it was as if she were wreathed in stars.

From the subtle ridges of her brow, past an eye and across one cheek, the angry slash of a virogen scar still flared. The same genetic engineering that had enhanced her health and longevity had also served to make her flesh resistant to protoplaser treatment. McCoy had proposed an experimental grafting procedure that might reduce the raised evidence of the scar tissue, making it possible to disguise the disfigurement with makeup. But Teilani had told him, No.

Whether it was the Klingon in her that made her choose to wear the blemish to her beauty with honor, or that she had come to understand that outward appearance meant nothing when measured against those qualities that dwelt within a warrior's heart, Kirk didn't know. And he didn't care. For when he looked at Teilani, he no longer saw the scar, nor the silvered hair, nor the lines that age brought even to those of Chal.

He saw only the woman he loved. And no sight could be more beautiful.

Kirk leaned forward to brush his lips against hers.

And instantly tensed as his back went into a spasm of pain.

Teilani was not sympathetic. "Five minutes at the clinic could take care of that for the next five years."

"I'll keep doing my exercises," Kirk told her. "No more protoplasers, no more forcefield readjustments."

Teilani tapped his forehead. "No more sense."

He took her hand. Kissed her finger. Was sorry Memlon was here. This clearing held many special memories for Kirk and his love.

The child tugged on Teilani's tunic.

"Yes?" Teilani s aid with the forbearance of a born teacher.

"ghojmoHwl', that's Cap'n Kirk!"

Teilani clapped her hands in surprise. "He is?"

Memlon nodded. "You be careful," he warned his teacher.

Teilani smiled at Kirk's look of consternation. "And why is that?" she asked with great seriousness.

"I'm crazy," Kirk explained.

He recognized the tremble that came to Teilani's lips when she tried not to laugh, and realized she had heard that conclusion before. "Who says?" she asked.

"Everyone," Kirk told her before Memlon could.

"I see. Well, if everyone says it, it must be true."

Memlon tugged on Teilani's tunic again.

"He doesn't got a phaser, neither."

"I know."

Memlon's eyes widened in surprise. "You do?"

"And he doesn't got a replicator," Teilani said. "No tricorder. No communicator. No computer."

Memlon's mouth hung open. "Not even a padd?"

Teilani shook her head. "Not even a padd."

Memlon gazed at Kirk as if trying to make sense of a creature from another dimension. "How come?"

"Because we depend too much on machines," Kirk told the boy. "We've given up too much of our independence, too much of our connection to the worlds around us. We've cut ourselves off from the experiences that make us human, from the knowledge that we are part of nature."

Memlon blinked, not a gram of comprehension in him.

"Do you understand a single word I've said?"

"Nope."

Teilani knelt down to hold the child's hands. "Memlon, it's getting close to supper time. I think you should be going home."

Memlon nodded. "All right, ghojmoHwl'." He drew his hands away, hesitated, then threw his arms around Teilani's neck and hugged her.

Teilani hugged him back, gave him a kis s on his ridges, and stood up laughing as Memlon ran off toward the path.

Then she slipped her arm around Kirk -- very carefully.

"Do they really think I'm crazy?" Kirk asked.

"Who?" Teilani replied innocently.

Kirk frowned. "Everyone."

"They don't understand you."

"But you do?"

Teilani lightly traced her fingers down the opening of Kirk's tunic. "I love you, James. But I'll never understand you."

Kirk took her errant hand before it could distract him further. "Why do they feel that way?"

Teilani seemed surprised he could even ask that question. "Because of the way you deny your past."

"I don't deny it."

"But you do. Across the Federation, children learn your name in school. Starfleet cadets study your logs from the first year of the Academy to their graduate studies. They've written books about you, created data tapes, there's even that opera on Qo'Nos -- "

Kirk held up his hands, cutting off the recitation. "Those aren't me. They're reflections, interpretations. They've...taken on a life of their own."

"I know that. But they're also an indication of the effect you've had on the lives of millions, billions of beings. You can't deny that. And its wrong of you to try."

"I don't...deny what I've done."

Teilani became serious, and Kirk recognized he was not looking into the eyes of his lover, but of Chal's greatest diplomat, the woman who had successfully brought this troubled world into the Federation.

"You do deny it, James. Every day."

Kirk said nothing.

"You've fought gods. You've changed the course of history. You've walked more worlds than most people will ever even see in tapes. And after all that, you've spent the last year of your life doing battle w ith...with a tree stump. A tree stump you could deal with in a second with a phaser, or in a minute with the same team of ordovers you used to level the field."

Kirk held out his hands to her. "I want this to be our home. A home that I build for us."

Teilani sighed as if this discussion were one they had had every day. In a way, it was. "James, you are my home. Where you are, my heart follows."

"And my heart is here, on Chal."

But Teilani, eyes full of love, shook her head. "I know that's what you tell yourself. But that's not what you believe. Not really."

Kirk was silent, not wanting to argue. It was what he believed. It had to be.

He felt Teilani's hand caress his cheeck.

"I don't know which is more stubborn," she said. "You at that stump."

Kirk took her hand, looked at her again, afraid of what he must ask. "Are you telling me it's time to go?"

Of all the possible responses to that terrible question, Teilani chose to smile, with all the warmth of her planet's Suns.

"Listen to you, James. It's always all or nothing. But life isn't like that. You have to find a balance."

Kirk didn't understand. "That's what I've found here."

"You mean, that's what you've sought. But you don't belong in this field any longer."

Kirk gazed around, seeing all his dreams in perfect completion. "This is my home."

"Your home will always be a place to return to, James."

Kirk didn't know if the sharp sorrow that now invaded him was because of the thought of leaving Chal, and Teilani, or because, somehow, he knew she was right.

"There's nothing more for me to do out there, Teilani. They don't need me anymore. You do. Here."

Teilani pursed her lips in disbelief. " Must I also teach you to be selfish? Don't leave Chal or me because you feel you have to do something for someone. Leave for yourself."

"But where would I go?" he asked.

She spread her arms as if any part of the universe was his for the taking. "You get a hundred invitations every month. Choose one. Any one."

Kirk narrowed his eyes at Teilani. "You are trying to get rid of me." But then Kirk glimpsed in her the same sorrow he felt.

"James, I know you. If you don't go now, if you don't admit what's in your heart, then the restlessness and frustration will build in you, it will fester in you, until one day you will wake up and it will be all or nothing again. Then you'll turn your back on Chal, and on me, and leave us to search for something you still don't understand."

Kirk squeezed Teilani's hand as if to make his flesh fuse with hers. "Never."

"Balance, James. In your heart, there will always be room for Chal and me and..." She looked up, as if she could see the stars behind the brilliant blue sky of her world. "...all the rest. Go now, and you might learn that. Go later, and you never will."

"I don't want to leave you."

"I don't want you here until you understand that being here is right."

Kirk stared at the stump. It was gnarled and twisted, its spreading roots inseparable from the soil, powerfully linked with Chal.

It was also dead.

Is that why he had expended so much time on his battle with the stump? Had his mind made it the symbol of his own battle to remain on Chal, accepting his new role as a man of quiet contemplation?

"Will you come with me?" he asked.

"Do you understand a single word I've said?"

Kirk smiled at her, tried a different, mo re playful tact. "Are you certain you can get along without me?"

Teilani gave a tug to the drawstring of his tunic, pulling it open, letting the breeze flutter over his chest, to be followed by her hand.

"I have a plan," she said.

"Do you?" Kirk asked as her other hand found her own drawstring, and opened that as well.

"You might be leaving Chal," she whispered as she drew near, "but you will always be here with me."

Kirk felt his breathing falter as she kissed his neck and her nails glided under his tunic, across his back. Then he glanced around, suddenly aware they were in the middle of the field.

Iowa Dream unconcernedly munched on some tufts of string grass, ignoring what his human companions were up to. But still, there might be other watchers.

"What about Memlon?" Kirk asked.

"He'll be halfway home," Teilani breathed into his ear as she tugged at the rest of his clothes. Then she straightened up, looked Kirk in his eyes. "What do you think of him?"

Kirk was surprised by the question. It wasn't what he was thinking about now. "He needs someone to explain things him."

"You'd be good at that," Teilani said.

Kirk had no idea what she meant. And for the moment, he had no interest in pursuing the matter.

He cradled her head in his hands, kissed her head ridges, the points of her ears, inhaled the fragrant scent of her sunwarmed hair.

"I like this plan of yours," he said.

"I thought you'd approve."

"But maybe, with my back, this isn't the right time."

She smiled at him, eyes half open, breath shallow, lips parted. "Leave that to me." Then she smiled at him wickedly. "As someone once said, resistance is futile."

Kirk laughed. Beneath the suns of Chal, their shadows jo ined to become one. And he found peace in those timeless moments, a shield against the activity he must undertake in the next few days.

Because he knew Teilani was right. He needed to venture out into the universe again. Even though his secret fear was that there were no more challenges out there for him to face.

What need could the universe possibly have for a hero whose time had passed?

Copyright © 1998 by Paramount Pictures

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 17, 2013

    VERY good read

    Great plot and fast paced. Excellent writing style. It was almost like watching TV when I was reading the book. I bought the second book and can not wait to read it. I wish the would make a movie of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2002

    good book

    This book is part of a trilogy. I loved the book, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. You never know whats going to happen even when think you figure it out, it changes. You also get the best of two world. So I would recommend this book to anyone how likes STAR TREK books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2001

    Wonderful ST novel!

    WOW! That's the first thing that popped into my mind when I finished reading the last page of SPECTRE. I haven't read a Star Trek novel in a long time and the one I read was set in the normal timeline with an average storyline. SPECTRE on the other hand was a great blend of characters, from the Original Series, The Next Generation and Voyager. That was great to see. Shatner used his talent to make a suspensful tale about the alternate universe with a very original plot. I won't give anything away ofocurse but this novel is full of plot twists, suspense and indepth technology which will make you turn the pages. It's a little confusing at times with the alternate universe characters and the modern characters, but I figured it out. Overall, a great novel, a must read for any Star Trek fan and sci - fi fan in genereal who just wants to sit back and relax to a great adventure story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2000

    Great Book

    This is a great descriptive book that i couldn't stop reading. This is Great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2000

    ACTION PACKED ADVANTURE !!!

    It' a great intermix of characters from the Original series and the Next Generation. As in The Wrath of Khan, Spectre bring in a plot from an Original series episode. This book is the first in a trilogy that leaves the reader on the edge of your seat and waiting for the next book!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 1999

    Great book!

    I just loved this book!! It's a great addition to the on-going saga of James T. Kirk..only this time, he is trying to find his place in this new time, in which he has found himself via the energy ribbon. With his new found love, (introduced in the first trilogy, beginning with Ashes of Eden), Kirk sets out to build a new life away from Starfleet; determined to leave his past behind him forever. But the universe, is not quite finished with him yet, and Kirk realizes that the past left behind, can come back to haunt him..even in the 24th century. I'm also currently reading his 2nd novel in the Spectre series, called Dark Victory, which is pretty good also. It is a great mix of characters from all the Star Trek shows.

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