Last week Pocket Books released the first chapter of "Star Trek Destiny: Gods of Night," the first book of their big cross-over trilogy event. This week TrekMovie has an exclusive look at chapter two of this exciting new novel by David Mack.
[see below, w/ spoilers]
Excerpt from "Star Trek Destiny: Gods of Night"
“Sensor contacts, bearing one-eight-one, mark seven!”
Captain Erika Hernandez snapped her attention from the line of ships on the main viewer to her alarmed senior tactical officer, Lieutenant Kiona Thayer. “Polarize the hull plating,” Hernandez ordered. She was taking no chances. The Columbia was a long way from home, escorting a mining convoy home from the Onias Sector, which was the site of the hotly contested intersection of the Romulan Star Empire, the Klingon Empire, and the farthest extremity of Earth-explored space.
A single whoop of the alert klaxon sounded throughout the ship as Hernandez rose from her chair. She took a single step forward, toward the helmsman, Lieutenant Reiko Akagi. “Bring us about,” Hernandez said. “Intercept course.” She glanced left at her senior communications officer, Ensign Sidra Valerian. “Hail the convoy, tell them to take evasive action.”
Thayer looked up from her console. “We can’t get a lock on the enemy vessels, Captain. They’re jamming our sensors.”
“I can’t raise the convoy,” added Valerian, who turned her desperate stare toward the ships on the viewscreen. Anxiety sharpened her Scottish accent. “Ship-to-ship comms are blocked.”
Lieutenant Kalil el-Rashad, the ship’s second officer and sciences expert, intensified his efforts at his own console. “I’ll try to help you break through it,” he said.
“Tactical alert,” Hernandez said. She returned to her seat as the turbolift door opened and her first officer, Commander Veronica Fletcher, stepped onto the bridge. The blond New Zealander nodded to Hernandez as she walked past and took over at the unoccupied engineering console directly to Hernandez’s right. “Tactical,” Hernandez said, “report.”
“Signal clearing,” Thayer replied. “Six ships, closing at high warp.” She looked over her shoulder at the captain. “Romulans.”
Valerian made fine adjustments at her panel’s controls as she said, “Breaking the scrambler code, Captain. We’re intercepting one of their ship-to-ship transmissions.” Fear overcame the young woman’s training, and her voice wavered as she informed the bridge, “All vessels are being ordered to target us first.”
“Arm phase cannons, load torpedoes,” Hernandez said. “Number One, tell Major Foyle and his MACOs to lock and load. Helm, all ahead full. Tactical, target the lead Romulan—“
Catastrophic deceleration hurled Hernandez to the deck, pinned her officers to their consoles, and wracked the ship with a groaning crash. Consoles dimmed, and the overhead lights went dark. The throbbing of the engines became a low, falling moan. On the main viewscreen, the long pulls of starlight resolved to a slowly turning starfield, indicating the ship had dropped out of warp and was drifting at sublight.
“Report!” Hernandez shouted as she picked herself up off the deck.
“Command systems aren’t responding, Captain,” Fletcher said, making futile jabs at her console.
“Valerian,” said Hernandez, “patch in the emergency line to engineering, put it on speakers.”
A few seconds later, Valerian replied, “Channel open.”
“Bridge to engineering,” Hernandez said. “Report.”
After a few moments of sputtering static on the line, Lieutenant Karl Graylock, the Austrian-born chief engineer, responded, “Minor damage down here, Captain. Main power’s still online, but I don’t have any working controls.”
Hernandez sharpened the edge in her voice to mask her deepening concern. “What hit us, Karl?”
“Nothing from outside,” Graylock said. “The last set of readings I saw before we went dark looked like a cascade failure, starting in the communication systems.”
Fletcher cut in, “The intercepted message, Captain. It could’ve been a Trojan horse, a way to slip a computer virus past our defenses.”
“If it was,” Hernandez said, “how long to fix it?”
“We’ll have to shut down the whole ship,” Graylock said. “Power up the main computer with a portable generator, wipe its command protocols, and restore from the protected backup.”
“I didn’t ask for a checklist, Karl. I asked how long.”
His disgruntled sigh carried clearly over the comm. “Three, maybe four hours if we—“
The overhead lights snapped back to full brightness, and every console on the bridge surged back to life. The thrumming of the impulse engines resounded through the bulkheads and deck plates. The bridge officers all checked their consoles.
Fletcher looked more confused than she had before. “We have full power, Captain, but still no command inputs.”
Turning in a circle, Hernandez asked, “Is anyone’s console responding?” The officers all shook their heads in dismay. Then the resonant pulsing of the engines returned, and the starscape on the main viewer stretched into a tunnel of drifting streaks. “Engineering,” Hernandez snapped, “what’s going on?”
“No idea, sir,” Graylock shouted back, sounding profoundly disturbed by the situation. “Speed increasing. Warp three…warp four…warp five, Captain!”
Thayer recoiled from her console as if it were demonically possessed. “Torpedo launchers powering up, sir!” Staring in horror at the panel, she added, “We’re targeting the convoy!”
“Karl, shut down main power!” Hernandez shouted. “Hurry!”
From the helm, Akagi called out, “We’re on an intercept course for the convoy, Captain.”
Hernandez sensed what was happening, felt it like a cold twist in her gut. It was all unfolding so quickly, and she felt as if she was drugged, too slow to do anything to stop it.
Thayer was pressed against the bulkhead behind her console, mute with shock. Fletcher scrambled over from the engineering station to monitor the tactical console. Her voice trembled with dismay. “Weapons locked, Captain.”
Cut off from the ship’s command systems, Hernandez didn’t have the option of overloading the Columbia’s warp reactor—not that it would have changed the outcome of this one-sided slaughter. It would have denied the Romulans the pleasure of using her ship as their weapon, but then there would be nothing to stop them from destroying the convoy anyway.
This was the Romulans’ way of rubbing salt in the wound of the Columbia’s defeat. The insult added to the injury.
Fletcher’s voice was flat and emotionless. “We’re firing.”
The shrieks of electromagnetically propelled torpedoes leaving the ship reverberated in the deathly silence of the bridge. On the main viewscreen, images of the defenseless civilian vessels in the convoy were replaced by the spreading red-orange fire blossoms of antimatter-fueled explosions. In less than ten seconds, the entire convoy was destroyed, reduced to a cloud of sparking debris and superheated gases.
Then the lights flickered again and went dark, followed by the bridge consoles. The ship became as quiet as the grave. Hernandez choked back the urge to vomit. Anger and adrenaline left her shaking with impotent fury. Hundreds of men and women had been lost in the convoy, and the last thing they had known before they died was that it was the Columbia that killed them.
“I don’t get it,” Valerian murmured. “We were disabled. The Romulans could’ve destroyed the convoy. Why use us to do it?”
“Because they could, Sidra,” Fletcher said to Valerian. “This is a trial run for how they’ll attack the rest of the fleet. We’re just the guinea pigs.”
Graylock’s voice crackled over the intraship emergency comm. “Engineering to bridge!”
“Go ahead,” Hernandez said.
“Captain, I think we’ve got a shot at getting out of this with our skins, but it’ll be tight.”
Hernandez forced herself into a semblance of composure and looked around at the rest of the bridge crew. “Stations.” Everyone stepped quickly and quietly to their consoles. She returned to her chair. “What’s the plan, Karl?”
“When the Romulans powered us up for the attack on the convoy, they left a residual charge in the warp nacelles. We can trigger a manual release and make a half-second warp jump.”
El-Rashad sounded dubious. “I think they’d notice that.”
“I’ve got Biggs and Pierce venting plasma through the impulse manifold, and the MACOs are pushing a photonic warhead out of the launch bay. If we detonate the warhead and trigger the jump at exactly the same moment, it should look like we self-destructed.”
“If anyone has a better plan,” Hernandez announced, “let’s hear it.” Silence reigned. “Make it fast, Karl. It won’t be long before th—“ Explosions hammered the Columbia. The deck pitched wildly as sparks fountained from behind bridge panels. A sharp tang of smoke from burnt wiring filled the air. Within seconds, the only light on the bridge came from the irregular flashes of EPS-powered displays bursting into flames and showering the crew with stinging motes of shattered glass.
Then a bone-jarring concussion launched Hernandez up and backward through the shadows. She hit the aft bulkhead like dead weight and felt as if her consciousness had been knocked free of her body. Sinking into a different, deeper kind of darkness, she could only hope that the last explosion she’d heard was the one meant to save the Columbia and not one sent to destroy it.
STAR TREK DESTINY: GODS OF NIGHT (September 2008)
"Star Trek: Destiny: Gods of Night" available for pre-order at Amazon
STAR TREK DESTINY: MERE MORTALS (October 2008)
"Star Trek: Destiny: Mere Mortals"available for pre-order at Amazon
STAR TREK DESTINY: LOST SOULS (November 2008)
"Star Trek: Destiny: Lost Souls"available for pre-order at Amazon
More Destiny to come
TrekMovie has full coverage for Destiny coming up including an interview with the author, excerpts. Also look for early reviews of each of the three books.