Star Trek The Next Generation: Maximum Warp #2 [NOOK Book]

Overview


A mysterious cosmic force is destroying the very fabric of subspace, rendering warp travel and interstellar communication impossible throughout scattered regions of the galaxy. Even worse, these "dead zones" are spreading rapidly, bringing the entire Alpha Quadrant to the brink of a new dark age. Only Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise™ stand a chance of reversing the decay by tracking the disruption to its ultimate origin.

Beyond the boundaries of...

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Star Trek The Next Generation: Maximum Warp #2

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Overview


A mysterious cosmic force is destroying the very fabric of subspace, rendering warp travel and interstellar communication impossible throughout scattered regions of the galaxy. Even worse, these "dead zones" are spreading rapidly, bringing the entire Alpha Quadrant to the brink of a new dark age. Only Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise™ stand a chance of reversing the decay by tracking the disruption to its ultimate origin.

Beyond the boundaries of the Federation, deep in uncharted space, Picard and his treacherous Romulan allies have discovered the source of the crisis: a vast alien mechanism suspended between a black hole and a nearby inhabited planet. The ancient device is all that prevents the imperiled planet from disappearing into the voracious black hole, but its cataclysmic effects are eroding subspace at speeds faster than light. Now Picard faces a wrenching dilemma: must he sacriÞce an entire world to save the galaxy?

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
This two-volume mini-series is filled with action and is scientifically intriguing. The arrival of a strange alien technological device in Romulan space attracts the attention of a rogue Romulan scientist named T'Sart and the Tal Shiar. Captain Picard and the Enterprise get involved when T'Sart tries to hijack the starship so he can use it to control the incredibly powerful alien device. Meanwhile the device is causing subspace energy dead zones throughout the galaxy. When the Enterprise finally fights its way past the Romulans to the device, only Data is able to understand its ten-dimensional operation. However, in his attempts to shut it down, Picard inadvertently sets it on a course of total destruction of the universe. This disaster is only averted when Mr. Spock, Data, and another Romulan scientist team up to give Picard the key to the problem. (Star Trek: TNG, #63). KLIATT Codes: JSA—Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Pocket Books. 18cm, 221p., $6.99 each. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Hugh M. Flick, Jr.; Silliman College, Yale Univ., New Haven, CT , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743419536
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek
  • Publication date: 7/8/2001
  • Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation Series, #63
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 569,962
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Dave Galanter has authored (or coauthored with collaborator Greg Brodeur) various Star Trek projects, including Voyager: Battle Lines, the Next Generation duology Maximum Warp, and The Original Series novel Troublesome Minds, as well as numerous works of short Star Trek fiction.
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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One
U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC 1701-E

Klingon Empire

Lormit Sector

Three days ago

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you, Picard."

He'd done it. Lotre had accomplished what so many had tried yet failed -- he'd taken by force a Federation starship, and had its captain at his mercy.

The Klingon pulled his weapon away from the underside of Picard's chin and grabbed the captain around the neck with his open hand. Grunting, he strenuously lifted Picard off the deck of the bridge.

It was a moment to behold. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, commander of the Starship Enterprise, relieved of his command -- by this Romulan citizen. A Klingon who'd rejected his native culture, and done what no other Klingon ever had.

He couldn't help but glance around as the Star-fleeters twitched in fear.

Lotre snickered. "Tell me why I shouldn't vaporize you this instant."

To his surprise, Picard was not gurgling his breaths through what should have been a collapsing trachea. Rather, Picard's posture was as if his feet were not dangling three inches over the deck.

"Because you can't," the Starfleet captain said in a perfectly even tone. His right hand came up and easily wrenched Lotre's fingers back painfully, awkwardly. The Klingon tried to pull away but the Terran's grip was too strong. Instead, Picard somehow gained footing on the deck. In one twisting motion he somehow managed to toss Lotre halfway across the bridge.

The lights seemed to wink out for a moment, but it was only Lotre's consciousness that flickered under the pain caused him. Anger overwhelmed the agony, however, and Lotre got back up on his feet. He waved off the others. They were needed to cover the rest of the bridge crew anyway. Picard was his alone.

He lunged, but with amazing speed Picard stepped out of the way and the Klingon slammed into the deck. He felt the Starfleeter lift him, punch his face, and let him drop to the deck again.

Lotre was dazed and bruised, and his lungs burned from what was probably a broken rib. He coughed up a spot of blood and looked up to see Picard standing over him ominously.

He seemed taller at this angle, stronger. And he wasn't even out of breath.

"Wha -- what are you?" Lotre said with a gasp.

Picard smirked down at him. "Just a starship captain."

Lotre laughed painfully as he hooked his arm around Picard's legs and pulled him down to the deck, hard.

Recovering quickly, Picard cracked Lotre in the jaw with his boot. Lotre didn't shrink away, however -- he looped his arm around Picard's extended leg, pulled the captain in, and drove the butt of his rifle unto Picard's gut.

In what seemed like a nanosecond, Picard was on his feet again. Lotre scrambled up as well, but a flurry of limbs -- he wasn't sure if he was being kicked or hit -- knocked him back to the deck.

In a red haze, Lotre's battle instinct took control. As Picard moved toward him again, Lotre fired his disruptor. The air on the bridge snapped with energy.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard clasped his hands over his ears and shrieked so loudly Lotre had to do the same. But then Picard folded in on himself, static electricity sparkling over his form as he disintegrated...and then was gone.

"I'm far too young to die," Picard said.

Spock looked up from his console. "I did try to delay it as long as possible. But given too many occurrences that are unlikely, they would soon deduce they're not in a natural environment."

Picard smiled slightly, despite the grave circumstances. "Ambassador, are you suggesting I can only defeat a Klingon in hand-to-hand combat on a holodeck where I reprogram my abilities?"

"Not at all, Captain." The Vulcan tabbed at his holodeck controls. "I suggest that is only the case with this Klingon."

Hesitating a moment, Picard nodded his good-natured acceptance of Spock's slight gibe. After all, part of the holodeck idea had been Spock's.

The captain watched Lotre on the screen a moment. What was within this man to fight so? Just a mercenary? That didn't seem to be the case. Why did he support the Romulan T'sart -- a mass murderer who'd helped to kill thousands of other Klingons, and members of countless other races? Perhaps for the same reason Picard seemed to be helping T'sart -- because the galaxy's well-being was at stake and the Romulan criminal might hold the key.

That didn't mean that Picard trusted T'sart. Both he and Spock thought the Romulan would attempt something -- they just weren't sure what. But they'd found a virus in the data chip the Romulan had given them, and that alone was cause for concern. The virus has been programed to give T'sart computer access and to take down the shields at a specified time. Spock caught it before it infected the Enterprise computer core, but it was obvious T'sart wanted the shields out of the way for a reason.

Spock had suggested that if they could time it right, they could intercept the transporter beams of a boarding party. Picard agreed, and asked the Vulcan to set up a simulation on the holodeck. Beamed directly into a running program, the boarding party would think it was succeeding at taking over the Enterprise, and wouldn't call for reinforcements.

It was working, for now. But two questions remained: Who caused the explosions that did bring down the shields, and how?

T'sart had that answer and Picard wanted it. "Make sure Lotre and his team are occupied for now. Hide T'sart on their version of the ship. They'll be looking for him, and obviously we can't let them accomplish all their goals."

"Aye, sir." Spock nodded and went to work. He'd not been on active duty on a starship since before Picard was born, and yet he slipped back into it as if he'd never been away.

"Status on the enemy ship?"

"You were correct," Spock said, switching scanners. "They recloaked when our shields returned and they'd not heard from their comrades."

The captain cradled his chin in one hand. "They'll be back. Let's make sure we're ready for them." He began toward the turbolift.

"Where will you be?" Spock asked.

"Deck seven. I'm going to pay Mr. T'sart an overdue visit."

As Picard entered T'sart's cabin, he found the Romulan walking toward the doorway. "Captain, I believe I'm due in sickbay."

"You're going to be late." Picard laid one hand on T'sart's arm and guided him back into the living quarters.

"Is something amiss?" T'sart asked. "I did notice you doubled my guard. And I thought I may have heard some explosions somewhere."

T'sart sat himself down into one of the more comfortable chairs and Picard remained standing.

"Surely you can be less obvious than that," Picard said coldly.

Adept at innocent-lamb expressions, T'sart smirked up at the captain. Picard wasn't impressed.

"You wound me, Captain."

Picard said, "The thought had crossed my mind."

As if some inner switch had been flipped, T'sart's expression changed instantly. He was serious now, and perhaps his lips were turned down with slight bitterness. "I assume Lotre has failed and is dead?"

Picard said nothing, preferring to let T'sart wonder about his comrade's fate.

T'sart shrugged. "I make no apologies, Captain. I don't trust you to do what needs to be done."

"You mean killing your own people," Picard barked.

"I have no 'people,' " T'sart said calmly as he leaned back into the easy chair. "I am an individual."

"Who sees himself as the only individual with rights, it would seem."

"Rights," T'sart scoffed. "A very Federation notion."

"I don't intend to debate philosophy with the likes of you," he said as he stepped toward the Romulan.

"Then why are you here?" T'sart's tone was annoyed, as if he didn't wish to be bothered with the frivolous lives and rights of others, and Picard felt as if he were talking to a petulant child.

"To give you an ultimatum. You will cooperate with us and cease your attempts to take over my ship."

T'sart sounded unimpressed. "Or?"

Picard put one hand on the back of T'sart's chair and spun the Romulan toward him so that they were almost nose to nose. "Or I continue on without you -- and ask the Klingons to bring you back to Starbase 10."

"Leaving me in their 'care,' Picard?" T'sart didn't seem fazed by Picard's invasion into his personal space. Nothing fazed T'sart much, it seemed. "Doesn't that break your regulations? Leaving someone under your charge in such an...unhealthy situation?"

Picard pushed off T'sart chair and stood straight. "I can't contact Starfleet Command, and if you're right about the time this galaxy has left, there won't be a Starfleet to which I would need to answer. As for your well-being?" Picard let his lips curl into a slight snarl. "I'm relatively unconcerned about the repercussions of leaving you in the Klingons' hands."

"I see." For once, T'sart seemed speechless. Picard liked the idea of that.

"I'm glad we understand one another," the captain said. "Now, I'll have you escorted to sickbay."

T'sart stood slowly, his face contorted in a grimace. "I -- "

He collapsed forward and Picard had to lunge forward to catch him before he hit the deck.

Supporting the Romulan in one arm, Picard awkwardly punched his combadge with the other. "Picard to sickbay. Medical emergency in T'sart's quarters!"

Damn. Not enough time.

"Saunders! Miketo! Get in here!"

"What happened?" Beverly Crusher pounced onto T'sart with a medical tricorder the instant his stretcher broke the sickbay threshold.

Picard helped the orderlies move the Romulan to the main biobed diagnostic table as the sickbay personnel came alive in a flurry of activity. "He collapsed."

"He's gone into respiratory arrest," Crusher said as she dropped the tricorder and scooped up a more sophisticated sensor. "Get that cart over here!"

Not wanting to be in the way, Picard stepped back. Here, on this table, was a man whom whole races would pay almost any price to see tortured and killed. Splayed across Dr. Crusher's biobed was someone who by most judgments didn't deserve to live -- by dint of having killed so many.

And yet, the fate of the galaxy might truly be stored within him.

"It's as if there's fluid in his lungs, but there's not. Some sort of fibroid structures." Crusher was talking more to her staff than Picard, at least until she turned to him. "Was he coughing?"

The captain shook his head. "No, he was fine until he collapsed."

She slit T'sart's sleeve with a low-powered laser scissor and exposed his skin. "We're going to oxygenate and filter impurities out of his blood for now, but I'll need to operate to remove the tumors." She slapped some device on his arm and set about cutting open the front of his tunic. "Twenty-five cc's tri-ox, Romulan mixture."

"Is he going to live?" Picard asked.

Crusher didn't bother looking up. She was too intent on saving the life of a man everyone in the room probably hated. "I'll let you know."

Picard nodded. T'sart began to slacken under the drugs and the medical relief. He'd seen such a loose body posture many times before -- in the bodies of the dead.

Copyright © 2001 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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First Chapter

Chapter One


U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC 1701-E
Klingon Empire
Lormit Sector

Three days ago

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you, Picard."

He'd done it. Lotre had accomplished what so many had tried yet failed — he'd taken by force a Federation starship, and had its captain at his mercy.

The Klingon pulled his weapon away from the underside of Picard's chin and grabbed the captain around the neck with his open hand. Grunting, he strenuously lifted Picard off the deck of the bridge.

It was a moment to behold. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, commander of the Starship Enterprise, relieved of his command — by this Romulan citizen. A Klingon who'd rejected his native culture, and done what no other Klingon ever had.

He couldn't help but glance around as the Star-fleeters twitched in fear.

Lotre snickered. "Tell me why I shouldn't vaporize you this instant."

To his surprise, Picard was not gurgling his breaths through what should have been a collapsing trachea. Rather, Picard's posture was as if his feet were not dangling three inches over the deck.

"Because you can't," the Starfleet captain said in a perfectly even tone. His right hand came up and easily wrenched Lotre's fingers back painfully, awkwardly. The Klingon tried to pull away but the Terran's grip was too strong. Instead, Picard somehow gained footing on the deck. In one twisting motion he somehow managed to toss Lotre halfway across the bridge.

The lights seemed to wink out for a moment, but it was only Lotre's consciousness that flickered under the pain caused him. Anger overwhelmed the agony, however, and Lotre got back up on his feet. He waved off the others. They were needed to cover the rest of the bridge crew anyway. Picard was his alone.

He lunged, but with amazing speed Picard stepped out of the way and the Klingon slammed into the deck. He felt the Starfleeter lift him, punch his face, and let him drop to the deck again.

Lotre was dazed and bruised, and his lungs burned from what was probably a broken rib. He coughed up a spot of blood and looked up to see Picard standing over him ominously.

He seemed taller at this angle, stronger. And he wasn't even out of breath.

"Wha — what are you?" Lotre said with a gasp.

Picard smirked down at him. "Just a starship captain."

Lotre laughed painfully as he hooked his arm around Picard's legs and pulled him down to the deck, hard.

Recovering quickly, Picard cracked Lotre in the jaw with his boot. Lotre didn't shrink away, however — he looped his arm around Picard's extended leg, pulled the captain in, and drove the butt of his rifle unto Picard's gut.

In what seemed like a nanosecond, Picard was on his feet again. Lotre scrambled up as well, but a flurry of limbs — he wasn't sure if he was being kicked or hit — knocked him back to the deck.

In a red haze, Lotre's battle instinct took control. As Picard moved toward him again, Lotre fired his disruptor. The air on the bridge snapped with energy.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard clasped his hands over his ears and shrieked so loudly Lotre had to do the same. But then Picard folded in on himself, static electricity sparkling over his form as he disintegrated...and then was gone.


"I'm far too young to die," Picard said.

Spock looked up from his console. "I did try to delay it as long as possible. But given too many occurrences that are unlikely, they would soon deduce they're not in a natural environment."

Picard smiled slightly, despite the grave circumstances. "Ambassador, are you suggesting I can only defeat a Klingon in hand-to-hand combat on a holodeck where I reprogram my abilities?"

"Not at all, Captain." The Vulcan tabbed at his holodeck controls. "I suggest that is only the case with this Klingon."

Hesitating a moment, Picard nodded his good-natured acceptance of Spock's slight gibe. After all, part of the holodeck idea had been Spock's.

The captain watched Lotre on the screen a moment. What was within this man to fight so? Just a mercenary? That didn't seem to be the case. Why did he support the Romulan T'sart — a mass murderer who'd helped to kill thousands of other Klingons, and members of countless other races? Perhaps for the same reason Picard seemed to be helping T'sart — because the galaxy's well-being was at stake and the Romulan criminal might hold the key.

That didn't mean that Picard trusted T'sart. Both he and Spock thought the Romulan would attempt something — they just weren't sure what. But they'd found a virus in the data chip the Romulan had given them, and that alone was cause for concern. The virus has been programed to give T'sart computer access and to take down the shields at a specified time. Spock caught it before it infected the Enterprise computer core, but it was obvious T'sart wanted the shields out of the way for a reason.

Spock had suggested that if they could time it right, they could intercept the transporter beams of a boarding party. Picard agreed, and asked the Vulcan to set up a simulation on the holodeck. Beamed directly into a running program, the boarding party would think it was succeeding at taking over the Enterprise, and wouldn't call for reinforcements.

It was working, for now. But two questions remained: Who caused the explosions that did bring down the shields, and how?

T'sart had that answer and Picard wanted it. "Make sure Lotre and his team are occupied for now. Hide T'sart on their version of the ship. They'll be looking for him, and obviously we can't let them accomplish all their goals."

"Aye, sir." Spock nodded and went to work. He'd not been on active duty on a starship since before Picard was born, and yet he slipped back into it as if he'd never been away.

"Status on the enemy ship?"

"You were correct," Spock said, switching scanners. "They recloaked when our shields returned and they'd not heard from their comrades."

The captain cradled his chin in one hand. "They'll be back. Let's make sure we're ready for them." He began toward the turbolift.

"Where will you be?" Spock asked.

"Deck seven. I'm going to pay Mr. T'sart an overdue visit."


As Picard entered T'sart's cabin, he found the Romulan walking toward the doorway. "Captain, I believe I'm due in sickbay."

"You're going to be late." Picard laid one hand on T'sart's arm and guided him back into the living quarters.

"Is something amiss?" T'sart asked. "I did notice you doubled my guard. And I thought I may have heard some explosions somewhere."

T'sart sat himself down into one of the more comfortable chairs and Picard remained standing.

"Surely you can be less obvious than that," Picard said coldly.

Adept at innocent-lamb expressions, T'sart smirked up at the captain. Picard wasn't impressed.

"You wound me, Captain."

Picard said, "The thought had crossed my mind."

As if some inner switch had been flipped, T'sart's expression changed instantly. He was serious now, and perhaps his lips were turned down with slight bitterness. "I assume Lotre has failed and is dead?"

Picard said nothing, preferring to let T'sart wonder about his comrade's fate.

T'sart shrugged. "I make no apologies, Captain. I don't trust you to do what needs to be done."

"You mean killing your own people," Picard barked.

"I have no 'people,' " T'sart said calmly as he leaned back into the easy chair. "I am an individual."

"Who sees himself as the only individual with rights, it would seem."

"Rights," T'sart scoffed. "A very Federation notion."

"I don't intend to debate philosophy with the likes of you," he said as he stepped toward the Romulan.

"Then why are you here?" T'sart's tone was annoyed, as if he didn't wish to be bothered with the frivolous lives and rights of others, and Picard felt as if he were talking to a petulant child.

"To give you an ultimatum. You will cooperate with us and cease your attempts to take over my ship."

T'sart sounded unimpressed. "Or?"

Picard put one hand on the back of T'sart's chair and spun the Romulan toward him so that they were almost nose to nose. "Or I continue on without you — and ask the Klingons to bring you back to Starbase 10."

"Leaving me in their 'care,' Picard?" T'sart didn't seem fazed by Picard's invasion into his personal space. Nothing fazed T'sart much, it seemed. "Doesn't that break your regulations? Leaving someone under your charge in such an...unhealthy situation?"

Picard pushed off T'sart chair and stood straight. "I can't contact Starfleet Command, and if you're right about the time this galaxy has left, there won't be a Starfleet to which I would need to answer. As for your well-being?" Picard let his lips curl into a slight snarl. "I'm relatively unconcerned about the repercussions of leaving you in the Klingons' hands."

"I see." For once, T'sart seemed speechless. Picard liked the idea of that.

"I'm glad we understand one another," the captain said. "Now, I'll have you escorted to sickbay."

T'sart stood slowly, his face contorted in a grimace. "I — "

He collapsed forward and Picard had to lunge forward to catch him before he hit the deck.

Supporting the Romulan in one arm, Picard awkwardly punched his combadge with the other. "Picard to sickbay. Medical emergency in T'sart's quarters!"

Damn. Not enough time.

"Saunders! Miketo! Get in here!"


"What happened?" Beverly Crusher pounced onto T'sart with a medical tricorder the instant his stretcher broke the sickbay threshold.

Picard helped the orderlies move the Romulan to the main biobed diagnostic table as the sickbay personnel came alive in a flurry of activity. "He collapsed."

"He's gone into respiratory arrest," Crusher said as she dropped the tricorder and scooped up a more sophisticated sensor. "Get that cart over here!"

Not wanting to be in the way, Picard stepped back. Here, on this table, was a man whom whole races would pay almost any price to see tortured and killed. Splayed across Dr. Crusher's biobed was someone who by most judgments didn't deserve to live — by dint of having killed so many.

And yet, the fate of the galaxy might truly be stored within him.

"It's as if there's fluid in his lungs, but there's not. Some sort of fibroid structures." Crusher was talking more to her staff than Picard, at least until she turned to him. "Was he coughing?"

The captain shook his head. "No, he was fine until he collapsed."

She slit T'sart's sleeve with a low-powered laser scissor and exposed his skin. "We're going to oxygenate and filter impurities out of his blood for now, but I'll need to operate to remove the tumors." She slapped some device on his arm and set about cutting open the front of his tunic. "Twenty-five cc's tri-ox, Romulan mixture."

"Is he going to live?" Picard asked.

Crusher didn't bother looking up. She was too intent on saving the life of a man everyone in the room probably hated. "I'll let you know."

Picard nodded. T'sart began to slacken under the drugs and the medical relief. He'd seen such a loose body posture many times before — in the bodies of the dead.

Copyright © 2001 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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