The big event for Star Trek books this Fall will finally delve into a major point in Federation history. The trade paperback of Michael A. Martin’s "Star Trek: Enterprise – The Romulan War: Beneath The Raptor’s Wing" comes out in October and TrekMovie has an exclusive excerpt below.
EXCERPT: Star Trek: Enterprise – The Romulan War: Beneath The Raptor’s Wing
by Michael A. Martin
NOTE: Contains spoilers, including spoilers from previous Star Trek Enterprise novels.
Three days earlier
Gamma Hydra sector, near Tezel-Oroko
CHARLES TUCKER BRACED HIMSELF for the inevitable impact, squeezing his eyes shut tightly. The little escape pod’s proximity alarms set up an earsplitting wail as the comet fragment lumbered inexorably toward the forward window that he could no longer see. He felt certain that no amount of luck or skill could enable him to evade the looming kilometers- long chunk of ice and rock.
Trip tried to focus past the pain of the blows and scrapes and bruises he had taken during his escape from the Romulan ship—a vessel he had sabotaged before dragging its unconscious commander along with him into the nearest escape pod—but without much success. He decided to concentrate instead on a comforting mental image of T’Pol, confident that his aches and pains would soon enough no longer be an issue.
Why the hell is this death thing taking so goddamned long?
A faint sensation suggestive of columns of ants marching across his skin offered a partial answer to that question. He opened his eyes in time to see the front of the escape pod crumple like so much paper toward him, around him—and through him—even as a curtain of deep blue light intruded, washing away the linked inevitabilities of mass, gravity, and inertia. His nervous system on autopilot in spite of himself, he raised his insubstantial arms protectively before his equally ethereal face.
Transporter beam, Trip thought as the escalating brightness of the indigo nimbus all around him reached a momentary blinding peak, briefly turning the lightless frozen interior of the comet fragment through which he now tumbled into a multicolored crystalline kaleidoscope before fading away into imperceptibility on retinas grown too intangible to catch any light whatsoever.
The bluish illumination returned abruptly an instant later—as did the inevitabilities of mass, gravity, and inertia. The escape pod chair in which he had been seated had not materialized beneath him, and he found himself dumped unceremoniously onto the hard, unyielding surface that he immediately recognized as the broad, round stage of a transporter, albeit one that looked far more advanced than the similar though smaller unit he had used on numerous occasions during his tenure as Enterprise’s chief engineer. Trip lifted his head groggily, sniffing at the air; it was breathable, but thinner and hotter than he was used to. In the absence of the transporter’s light show, Trip saw another figure, a man whose appearance was a Vulcan—in point of fact as Romulan—as Trip’s own. He lay sprawled unconscious across the stage beside him, a wound on his temple slowly oozing dark green blood.
Sopek, Trip thought, then amended the Vulcan name to the one the man had been using during his operations inside Romulan space: Ch’uivh.
The pain Trip had thought he’d soon be past forever returned to his consciousness in full measure, enhanced by the uncomfortably hot and rarefied air. Ignoring it as best he could, he tried to struggle to his feet but succeeded only in getting as far as a wobbly kneeling posture.
A sharp, authoritative voice rang out before Trip could determine the exact direction from which it had originated.
“Do not move.”
Trip instinctively raised his hands, making the universal I-am-nota- threat gesture. A uniformed young man approached from before a low console located near a bulkhead. A second uniformed figure, a woman, stood behind this console, a person whom Trip assumed had been the one responsible for the delicate hair’s-breadth rescue that he and Chuivh had just received. But the most significant detail that Trip noticed about his rescuers was the nasty-looking weapon clutched in the hand of the young man approaching the transporter stage.
The next thing he noticed was that both the man and the woman had dark hair arranged in nearly identical bowl cuts, upswept, vaguely sinister-looking eyebrows, and ears that tapered delicately upward into elegant points that evoked ancient legends of demons and pitchforks.
Trip’s heart sank. I should have figured on Chuivh having a backup ship parked nearby.
But something about that notion didn’t add up, though he couldn’t quite focus his attention solidly enough to place it. The uncomfortable environmental conditions weren’t helping, and neither were his aches and pains. All he could do was focus on the uniforms that both his “hosts” wore—drab, utilitarian paramilitary garments that didn’t look like anything he’d seen during the entire time he’d spent on Romulus. He wondered whether these people served in something roughly equivalent to a Romulan merchant marine fleet, or if they belonged to a Romulan dissident splinter group like Ch’uivh’s Ejhoi Ormiin organization, from which Trip had only barely succeeded in escaping with his life.
And then there was the matter of their foreheads, which were far smoother than any forehead he’d seen on Romulus. . . .
“State your name, please,” said the young man with the pistol.
Trip tipped his head to give the single remaining universal translator he carried in his left ear the best chance of functioning properly; the device’s slight delay made him wonder if it was about to fail, leaving him in the linguistic lurch.
After spending a silent moment debating just how much he should reveal about himself, Trip finally spoke, his tongue feeling thick in his mouth. “I’m called Cunaehr. I . . . rescued this man from his ship before it was destroyed.” His hands still raised, he nodded toward the still-unconscious figure of Ch’uivh.
The man with the weapon raised an eyebrow in apparent curiosity as he came to a stop about two meters away from the transporter stage and regarded Ch’uivh. “I will summon medical help for this man.” A moment later, the woman behind the transporter console appeared to be doing just that.
“Where am I?” Trip asked, still taking care not to make any threatening moves.
“You are aboard the transport ship Kiri-kin-tha,” said the armed young man, the barrel of his pistol never wavering. “Transport ship,” Trip said, not immediately recognizing the vessel’s name. “Romulan?”
The man raised both eyebrows this time. “Vulcan,” he said, apparently puzzled as to why anyone might mistake a Vulcan ship for a vessel used by the Romulans.
“Vulcan,” Trip said, momentarily stunned. “Not Romulan.” Well, that certainly explains the air in here, he thought as he felt a sweat beginning to break out across his forehead.
A huge, involuntary grin split Trip’s face, but he worked hard to suppress it, along with the tide of relieved laughter he felt building immediately behind it. He wondered how long it would take these people to drop him off back home on Earth.
The other man’s bemusement suddenly made sense to him. To the best of Trip’s knowledge, the Romulans were still utterly mysterious and faceless to virtually everyone outside their empire, including the vast majority of Vulcans. That fact probably accounted for Trip’s host’s failure to take any obvious notice of the one overt physical feature that distinguished Trip from him: his prominent, if artificial, Romulan brow ridge. For all he knew, that caveman brow wasn’t entirely unknown on Vulcan, where the ancestors of modern-day Romulankind originated.
After a pause to catch his labored breath, Trip said, “Take me to your leader.”
After his armed escort shepherded him into the spartan conference room, Trip’s first impression of Captain T’Vran was that she looked to be about twice T’Pol’s age. Trip knew, of course, that a Vulcan’s age was a difficult thing for humans to gauge; for all he knew, she could have been two hundred, or maybe even older.
T’Vran had seated herself across a low metal table from Trip. The alert and watchful eyes of two other people regarded him with obvious suspicion—the lone male guard, who continued to stand sentinel just inside the room’s hatchway, and another Vulcan woman, also of indeterminate age, who sat silently on the narrow bench that lined the room’s farthest wall.
These people are a lot more like the Romulans than they realize, Trip thought as he turned his attention back T’Vran while mopping his sweaty brow with one of the battered sleeves of his Romulan-style traveling tunic. A slight wave of dizziness touched him, but it disappeared so quickly that he couldn’t tell whether it was a result of his injuries or the transport ship’s oppressively hot and thin atmosphere.
“My apologies, Cunaehr, for having taken so long to properly welcome you aboard the Kiri-kin-tha,” Captain T’Vran said. “I understand, Captain,” Trip said, nodding. “Running a transport vessel as big as this one seems to be must keep you very busy. Thank you for taking me aboard. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you for another favor.”
She raised an eyebrow in a manner that made him feel a sudden acute longing to see T’Pol again. “A favor?”
“I need to arrange passage to Earth.”
T’Vran regarded him as though he had just said something unutterably absurd. “Curious,” she said, steepling her fingers in a manner that made him wonder whether all Vulcans did that. “Why would someone who has so obviously just come from the sphere of influence of the Romulan Star Empire wish to travel to Earth?”
Trip quietly kicked himself for not having anticipated this reaction. “You must think I’m some sort of spy.”
“Given the current state of hostilities between Earth and Romulus, I do not know precisely what to think of you, Cunaehr. You are clearly like no Vulcan I have ever met.”
Trip certainly couldn’t argue with that. After all, he was even less Vulcan-like than his old turncoat “friend” Ch’uivh was.
That thought reminded Trip to check up on him. “Where is the other man who was in the escape pod with me?” he asked. “Doctor Sivath is seeing to his injuries presently in our infirmary,”
T’Vran said evenly. “He has not yet regained consciousness, but the doctor will advise me immediately should his condition change. Now please explain why you wish to go to Earth, particularly during a time when that world is at war with the very people who built the ship from which you and your associate escaped?”
Fair question, he thought. She doesn’t know who I really am. Fighting off another wave of dizziness, Trip opened his mouth to speak, finally ready after all these months of fruitless deep-cover spying to tell her the plain, simple truth.
He abruptly stopped himself when he felt the eyes of the other Vulcan woman silently boring into him. He turned his head to confirm that she was indeed still watching him. Snap a holopic, why don’t you? he thought. It’ll last longer. His frown did nothing to discourage her. But her raptorlike gaze encouraged him not to turn all his cards face up, at least not yet. How do I really know these people are Vulcans? If I can work undercover, then so can the Romulans. He wouldn’t have put it past Admiral Valdore to stage a fake Vulcan rescue as part of some Byzantine plan to trick him into giving up things that an ordinary interrogation might never yield.
All right, Trip thought, more determined than ever to bring his spy career to an end. So I’m gonna have to play Cunaehr a little longer than I’d hoped. At least till I’m sure who I’m dealing with here.
“Are you all right, Cunaehr?” T’Vran said. “You do not look well.” Trip willed away another wave of light-headedness. “I’ll be fine, Captain.”
The eyebrow lifted again. “Then you should be able to answer my question: Why do you wish to go to Earth—particularly now, when that world is under direct threat of Romulan attack?”
Romulan attack. Her words echoed in his head, which was beginning to feel as though it were stuffed with cotton. Romulan attack. Of course, Earth itself wasn’t under Romulan bombardment just yet. But he knew it would happen, just as soon as the Romulans had gathered sufficient personnel and matériel to launch assaults from their newly acquired beachheads.
Unless somebody did something about it before they were ready. “The Romulans are conducting large fleet movements right now,” Trip said. “They have a toehold at Calder, and they’re already trying to get another one at Alpha Centauri. If they’re not stopped, they’ll be able to send whole battle groups to Earth, and to the rest of the Coalition planets.”
T’Vran answered with a coolness that made Trip believe that butter wouldn’t have melted in her mouth. “And you seem to believe that you—alone—can do something about this.”
“Well, somebody’s gotta do something about it!” Trip said, his arms fl ailing as he abandoned any pretense of Vulcan reserve. “I assure you, Cunaehr, the Vulcan High Command is already well aware of whatever fleet movements the Romulan Star Empire may or may not be undertaking at the moment,” T’Vran said, her brow creasing into a single barely perceptible furrow.
“That’s good to hear. So what the hell do they intend to do about it?”
“I do not know.”
And you sure as hell wouldn’t tell me if you did, Trip thought as spots began to swim before his eyes, prompting him to blink rapidly to chase them away.
A small runnel of sweat trickled from his brow down into his collar. “You don’t believe anything I just told you,” he said at length. “Do you?”
She stared at him for a protracted moment before responding. “I do not wish to insult you, Cunaehr. But I do not find you to be a credible source of information.”
Trip couldn’t help but wonder whether the woman staring at him from the bench had made a similar assessment. Looks like we’re at a standoff here, he thought. T’Vran can’t trust me because I came here straight from a Romulan escape pod. And for all I know she and the lady giving me the stink eye are just a couple of glorified Romulan interrogators.
He knew that this occasion would require a leap of faith. And understood that he would have to be the one to take it.
And he suddenly knew in which direction he had to leap.
Making a studied effort to calm himself, Trip leaned forward slightly across the round conference table. “Let me prove that you can trust what I tell you,” he said.
“How do you propose to do that?” T’Vran said.
“You’ve just about accused me of being a Romulan. But I know something that no Romulan could ever know. Something you can verify independently with your superiors.” He hiked a thumb over his shoulder. “If you’ll send the guard out of the room, I’ll tell you what it is.”
He half turned to assess the reactions of the guard, as well as the silent, staring Vulcan woman on the bench. Both appeared to tense perceptibly, despite their Vulcan calm.
Turning back to face T’Vran, he said, “So how about it, Captain?”
“All right,” she said at length, absolutely no fear or apprehension in her tone. Trip didn’t doubt she could take him in a fair fight, with or without the assistance of the staring woman. With a nod, the captain dismissed the guard. The armed man stepped out into the corridor, and the hatch closed behind him.
The staring woman continued to watch, sitting as motionless as though her body had thrown down roots.
“She is authorized to hear any secrets you may choose to reveal,” T’Vran said in response to Trip’s silent query. “What did you wish to tell me?”
He nodded, and took a deep breath. In addition to the air being far too hot and thin, something seemed to be going wrong with the ship’s inertial dampers as well. “There’s a man,” he said, struggling to keep his thoughts focused. “This man served as the keeper of the—ah, what do you call it—the katra of Surak during the last few days Administrator V’Las was in power.”
T’Vran nodded, her demeanor somehow grimmer even through her mask of nonemotion. “Those were dark times indeed. What do you know about this keeper of Surak’s katra?” The entire room seemed to be slowly turning, even as it began to grow dark at the edges. “He’s a human. And I know his name: Jonathan . . .”
The lights dimmed entirely before Trip got to hear the rest of his own words.
The official release date for "Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing" is October 20th. You can pre-order it from Amazon.
More post-finale Star Trek Enterprise books
Although not required for you to read The Romulan War, the book does pick up on story threads from the previous two books set after the finale of Star Trek Enterprise: "The Good That Men Do" from 2007 (see TrekMovie review) and "Kobayashi Maru" from 2008 (see TrekMovie review).
Look for our early review of "The Romulan War" next month.