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During James T. Kirk's five-year mission as captain of the Starship Enterprise, a mysterious alien threat called "The Totality" commenced its invasion, intending to conquer the Milky Way galaxy as it had conquered the Andromeda. A war unlike any other is about to begin one that threatens to destroy the Federation.
Captain Kirk has encountered the Totality before. It took the beguiling form of Norinda, an irresistible alien who becomes the woman each person most desperately desires. In his first encounter, Kirk almost lost the Enterprise. In his second encounter, he almost lost his child, and watched in horror as the Totality absorbed Spock in its monstrous dimensional tendrils. But now, Kirk faces an even more devastating personal challenge. The battle lines have been drawn, and he and his friend Captain Jean-Luc Picard are on opposite sides.
With Captain William Riker of the Starship Titan caught in the cross fire of the conflict between Kirk and Picard, and with Kirk's own child poised on the brink of a startling destiny millions of years in the making, Kirk must prepare for his final encounter with the Totality. But how can Kirk fight an enemy whose greatest weapon is love? And how can he triumph, when the price of victory is the life of his only child?
About the Author
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. Find more information 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.
Read an Excerpt
COCHRANE INSTITUTE, NEW MONTANA
The citizens of Alpha Centauri B II, who had not thought of themselves as "colonists" for generations, were unprepared for the violence of the first attack. Nor had anyone anticipated the target of that violence.
Only the grove of fig trees planted by the great man himself more than two centuries earlier survived. The rest of the Cochrane Institute lay in ruins.
But the day that ended with the gathering storm of war had begun as any other on a world complacent and too used to peace.
It was late winter in the Northern Hemisphere of New Montana; the stars Centauri A and Centauri B rose together in the dawn. Only during summer is sunlight present for a full twenty-six hours each day. That's the season when the orbit of Centauri B's second planet places it between the two larger stars of the ternary Alpha Centauri system.
On the island continent of Atlantis, the early morning then was crisp, the forests of Earth maple and birch bare of leaves, their empty branches little more than quick dark brush strokes against the pure blue canvas of a sky that had not been "alien" to humans for centuries.
Outside the main urban centers of the east coast, smoke trailed from the chimneys of housing clusters. The crackle and scent of burning wood added the sensory texture missing from the island's efficient geothermal power plants that provided energy to its scattered communities. It was only at the Cochrane Institute that planet-based antimatter generators were used, a requirement of its cutting-edge work in warp propulsion.
More than thirty major buildings formed the main campus, their duskyred forms sweeping up a gentle rise of green foothills. The structures that commanded the hilltops looked out to Lily's Ocean to the east and the rugged Rockier Mountains to the west. As the first human to journey to Centauri B II, Zefram Cochrane had thoroughly enjoyed exercising his right to name both the planet and its major geological features.
One of the uppermost buildings was a Starfleet installation. The research performed there was restricted, ensuring that Starfleet's capabilities would always remain significantly more advanced than those of civilian ships, privateers, and any potential "peer competitors" -- Starfleet's current bland term for the restive Klingon Empire.
Officially known as Facility 18, the building was older than the others, constructed almost ninety standard years earlier. Its historic façade of intricately sculpted, red Centauran sandstone was set off by bold horizontal timbers of the pale, native Lincoln trees praised -- and named -- by Cochrane for producing logs of exceptional uniformity.
Facility 18's stark and sleek interior, however, revealed signs of regular rebuilding and upgrading. The most recent changes dated from the frantic months toward the end of the Dominion War, eight years earlier. Though the realization was never discussed in public, the leadership of Starfleet was uncomfortably aware that the war's heavy price for survival had also spurred one of the most productive periods of scientific advancement Starfleet had experienced for generations.
On this date, Middleday, Twelfthmonth 27 on New Montana, Stardate 58552.2 for the Federation at large, Facility 18 was preparing to run a static test on a prototype warp core. Little different in principle from those in service on most Starfleet vessels, the experimental device was notable for its size -- almost one-third smaller than the standard design for its payload capacity. The anticipation was that, within a decade at the present rate of development, Starfleet would be able to test runabout-size vessels capable of warp-nine velocities. In terms of travel time, the galaxy grew smaller every day.
The prototype warp core was scheduled to come online at 0800 hours. For this test, it would produce a warp bubble approximately four meters in diameter with a field strength of no more than five millicochranes. These specifics were important: A warp field that weak would not be able to pop out of the planet's relativistic frame. Even more significant, the core would remain motionless as researchers measured the field's shape and stability, and the efficiency of the miniaturized synthetic-dilithium matrix -- one of the keys to the warp core's smaller size.
If the test were successful, space trials would follow, with the prototype warp core installed on a test sled.
But the test was not successful, and Starfleet's Advanced Warp Development Group paid the price of that failure.
Commander Tresk Drumain was a third-generation Star-fleet engineer, and the lead investigator on the current prototype tests. He had arrived at Facility 18 at noon the day before, and had worked through the night to prepare the prototype core for the static test.
As the time for the initialization approached, Drumain needed no coffee or other stimulant to stay awake. He was thirty-four standard years old, and the excitement and the challenge of the moment were more than enough to keep him alert. Even making commander by age thirty-two hadn't been as thrilling as this test promised to be.
Drumain felt confident in his team's preparations. The prototype core was already locked down in the center of the main test chamber -- an immense, reinforced, triduranium-sheathed room more than one hundred meters on a side. Even if a miscalculation or a power surge resulted in the core jumping to warp, the chamber was aligned so that the planet's own rotation would cause the core to slam into a vast reservoir containing four hundred thousand liters of water. That reservoir was built into the grassy hillside to the east of Facility 18. Because the core's power supply remained outside the warp field, the field would collapse instantly, allowing for no more than a few hundred meters of travel.
There was no need for concern.
At 0750, in the dimly lit control room overlooking the test chamber, Drumain took his chair at the main monitoring console. As scheduled, the triduranium blast shield slid silently over the large observation window. Now the test core was visible only on the rows of console monitors displaying visual sensor readings from inside the chamber.
Three hours earlier, the atmosphere had been pumped out of the test chamber, leaving the core in a vacuum that was almost the equal of interstellar space. The visual images from inside the chamber were sharp and clear.
At 0755, Drumain glanced again at the message padd propped on the console so all could see. It held the good luck wishes of Commander Geordi La Forge. The man was a legend in Starfleet, and Drumain and his crew had been surprised and encouraged to realize that one of Starfleet's greatest engineering geniuses was paying personal attention to what they were attempting here. La Forge had asked to be informed about the test results as quickly as possible, and Drumain looked forward to making that call sometime before lunch.
At 0759, Drumain polled his team -- a group of more than fifty Starfleet and institute personnel. Their responses were instant and reassuring. All systems on the test core were checked and ready. All sensors were operational. The antimatter generator was online and producing the required level of power.
Drumain tugged down on his Starfleet jacket as the final few seconds of the countdown proceeded.
Everything occurred exactly as planned.
For eighteen seconds.
That was when a warning alert flashed on Drumain's board. A minor power surge.
It wasn't large enough for the computer safety subroutines to automatically shut down the test, but the warning prompted Drumain to keep his hand over the large red "kill" switch.
His eyes jumped back and forth between the display showing the power graph and the display showing the test core, but except for the soft blue glow of the Cerenkov emitters running along its side, the core was unchanged from its initial condition.
Around him, Drumain could hear his team's quick whispered conversations as they tried to isolate the reason for the surge.
Mirrin O'Hara was the first to see and report the residue.
At once, Drumain called for the visual sensors to enlarge the view of the core.
What he saw onscreen was puzzling. A dark shadow was forming around the core's casing, growing as randomly as fingers of frost spidering over a window in winter.
Drumain enlarged the sensor image even more.
At closer resolution, the residue resembled grains of black sand. But now Drumain could see that it was accreting into cubes, the largest no more than a decimeter or so across, the others in a range of smaller sizes, some little more than specks.
O'Hara readily identified the chemical composition of the residue: mostly carbon, with traces of simpler elements, down to and including hydrogen.
The warp-field strength began to change.
Drumain immediately checked the vacuum readings in the chamber -- it was still holding. He frowned. The residue wasn't particulate matter condensing out of the air. There was no air.
The only explanation was that it was being created by the warp field.
And that was impossible.
The impossible, however, continued until 0802, when the warp field flared.
That finally triggered the automatic cutoffs, and then -- for no reason that Drumain could establish -- all the chamber's sensors went offline.
He polled his team again. No one had any explanation for what they had seen or what their sensors had measured.
Drumain needed more information. He ordered the chamber repressurized, then motioned to O'Hara to come with him. They took the stairs down to the main entry doors. Because internal sensors remained inoperative, Drumain was careful to use his tricorder to scan the room behind the doors, verifying that the chamber had full atmosphere and no radiation. O'Hara confirmed his findings.
The doors slid apart, and Drumain felt a rush of chilled air as the slight overpressure in the revealed chamber equalized. At once, he smelled something electric, burnt, the odor unnerving to an engineer.
All the chamber lights were out.
Before he could even request it, O'Hara opened a critical-equipment locker beside the doors and retrieved two palmlights. With their twin beams of light sweeping over the distant test core, Drumain took the first steps into the chamber as O'Hara followed close behind. Their footsteps echoed in the metal-clad chamber.
As they drew nearer and their palmlights revealed more details, Drumain saw that the cylindrical core, nine meters long and two meters in cross section, hadn't shifted from its test bed. But the test bed itself was barely visible. It thrust upward as if trying to escape the mound of dark cubes piled around it like drifting sand poised to engulf a pyramid on Mars.
Black residue clung to the sides of the core like frozen streams of water.
Drumain gestured to O'Hara to circle round the core to the left. He took the right.
Other than the residue, neither of their tricorders detected anything beyond the ordinary.
But tricorders had their limitations.
Drumain reached the front of the core, and nearly dropped the device.
A Starfleet admiral was standing there, waiting.
Before he could even begin to ask her how she could possibly have survived the vacuum and the energy fluctuations of the warp field, the admiral smiled at him.
"Hello, Tresk," she said.
It wasn't the tone an admiral used to address a subordinate officer -- it was the greeting of an intimate friend. And now that Drumain could see her more clearly in the beam from his palmlight, she seemed far too young to have attained her rank.
"Admiral . . . did you just beam in?"
The admiral's warm smile expanded, and Drumain had a sudden realization that explained the familiarity of her voice -- Eleanor Stein.
Twelve years ago, in their last year at the Academy, he had lost his heart to her. But she, like him, had valued a Starfleet career more than passion, and after graduation they had taken separate paths. Drumain still dreamed of her, and had always wondered if she dreamed of him.
"I do," the admiral said, answering his unspoken question.
A wave of gooseflesh swept up Drumain's spine to prickle the close-cropped hair at the back of his neck and scalp. The admiral took a step forward. With that one movement, she no longer resembled his long-lost love, she became her, just as she had been twelve years ago, her admiral's uniform now a cadet's jumpsuit.
Drumain blinked, incredulous. "Eleanor . . . ?"
"Commander . . . who're you talking to?" O'Hara came around the front of the core, then stopped dead in surprise. She shone her palmlight into the cadet's eyes. "Where'd you come from?"
"Mirrin," the cadet said as she turned away from Drumain to O'Hara.
Drumain blinked again, puzzled, but relieved. The light had played tricks on him. In profile, the admiral looked nothing at all like his memory of Eleanor. Even her jumpsuit looked like a civilian outfit.
"Mom . . . ?"
Drumain recognized a familiar shock in O'Hara's voice. As if relays closed in his brain, triggering his own internal safety overrides, he switched from engineer to Starfleet officer.
He and O'Hara faced a human where no human could reasonably be -- a human disturbingly like a lover he'd never forgotten, yet also like his teammate's mother.
There could be only one explanation, one thing to do.
Drumain's finger trembled as he tapped his combadge. He hoped there was still time, but feared there was not. "Drumain to Security. Intruder alert. Test Chamber One."
The intruder turned, and with that motion her features blurred, then focused. She was Eleanor again.
"Oh, Tresk, that wasn't necessary. There's nothing to fear now. . . ."
"O'Hara," Drumain said urgently, "get out of here. Run."
Without taking her eyes off Drumain, the cadet held out her hand to O'Hara --
-- and that hand stretched through the air like smoke.
Drumain's breath left him as the dark strand writhed toward O'Hara.
O'Hara's palmlight and tricorder dropped, clanging on the triduranium tiles, as she clawed at the black substance that swept over her face.
Drumain found his voice. "Let her go!"
The cadet shook her head. "I know she wants this. So do you."
Drumain heard rustling. He looked down in horror. There, in the slash of light sent by O'Hara's palmlight across the chamber floor, undulating shadows of black residue flowed from the test core to his boots.
Drumain tried to step back, but he felt resistance. He twisted around.
The black cubes were stacking up behind him, already as high as his knees.
He began to fall, but the cadet was suddenly before him, both arms wrapped around him, just as Eleanor had held him on their last night together.
"Accept . . ." she said.
Drumain's pulse fluttered with fear as he stared past his captor to a small mound of utter blackness that was rapidly dissolving into wisps of smoke.
It was all that was left of O'Hara.
"Embrace. . . ."
Drumain looked into eyes that held all the love he had forgotten, the desire he had tried to banish from his life.
". . . No . . ." he whispered, even as he felt his own body absorbing, dissolving . . .
"Be loved. . . ." Soft lips sought his, and Drumain felt his mouth open wide as black tendrils streamed down to fill his throat and seal his lungs. His vision dimmed, then died as a once-beloved face exploded into dark particles and engulfed him.
At 0808, a Starfleet security team watched helpless in amazement as a slowly moving, cresting wave of black sand began rising in the test chamber. As Tresk Drumain joined Mirrin O'Hara in the Peace of the Totality.
At 0809, the test core exploded.
The surge along the power conduits to the antimatter generator released magnetic containment.
In the next ten seconds, there were seven more explosions. In less than a minute, all thirty buildings of the institute were in flames.
Two minutes later, eight hundred and fifteen personnel perished.
Over the next three days, three hundred and twenty more succumbed to injuries.
Only the fig trees survived. Planted by the man whose genius had made the United Federation of Planets possible, and now the only living witnesses to the beginning of the Federation's end.
The Totality was finally ready to share its gift with all the species of the galaxy.
And it knew that once that gift was truly understood, it would be accepted without hesitation.
Copyright © 2006 by CBS Studios Inc.