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Gateways #2: Chain Mail (Star Trek: The Original Series)
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Gateways #2: Chain Mail (Star Trek: The Original Series) [Kindle Edition]

Diane Carey
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dangerous remnants of an extinct interstellar civilization, the Gateways connect the Alpha Quadrant with the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Hidden away in various corners of the universe, the ancient portals could be the future of space travel, but they may also provide a open doorway for an invasion from beyond!
Twenty years ago, in the space near Belle Terre, a caravan of alien vessels disappeared into a gigantic Gateway. Now the descendants of those aliens have returned, armed with incredible new weapons and abilities. Captain Nick Keller of the U.S.S. Challenger, already struggling to maintain peace in the troubled sector, must now cope with a fleet of hostile aliens driven by their own fanatical agenda!

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Diane Carey is the author of the bestselling Invasion!: First Strike and many other Star Trek novels including a number of Deep Space Nine TV episode tie-ins, The Original Series Best Destiny and The Next Generation Descent.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

Deep Space, Sagittarius Star Cluster

"Keller. We're in."

A cloying jungle sensation of oily fingers brushed Nick Keller's shoulders as he lowered his communicator from his lips. He turned, braced, knees flexed, and expected to be struck from behind.

No one there. Just this prehensile smell moving across his skin.

Then why did he feel somebody's eyes? He was being watched.

And why hadn't he drawn his phaser? Wasn't that supposed to be the efficient Starfleet reflex action? When had things changed so much?

Challenger hadn't responded. Had they heard him? Was this place com-shielded? They'd barely been able to get a transporter beam to take a fix, and only into this one four-meter square. Everything else here was still a mystery. Scans just came back crying.

From a low-slung entry vestibule he moved into an excremental stink. His boots stuck in a marshy floor, obliging him to repossess his feet from the suction with each step. He brushed his nose and ended up only knuckling the self-adhesive fitted filter mask over his mouth and nostrils.

"Somebody piddled," he commented.


A few steps to his right, Search and Rescue Officer Savannah Ring kept one eye on her science tricorder while picking through the mushy flooring. A Haz-Mat/First Response pack on her back caused her to stoop slightly even though she also wore a supportive emergency harness and belt. A pale green haze from some unseen light source turned her sangria hair into a helmet of lemonade.

"Don't take your mask off," she warned. "You won't last sixty seconds."

She moved ahead, off to the right, toward a corridor draped with silvery gauze curtains.

Keller stepped after her. He itched to lead the way, but Ring had the sci-tricorder and was better at reading it. Should a commander lead the way or keep his eyes open? What if he had to choose?

To his left, the sphinx-like presence of his tactical and security officer almost seemed at home in this prehistoric grotto. Zoa's golden skin, decorated with story tattoos on her shoulders and arms, and the hundreds of spaghetti braids framing her face were muted to bronze under the strange lighting. Her eyes, dots of inky blue without pupils, keenly scanned the surroundings. She blinked seldom, which created an almost doll-like demeanor. Her lined lips made no comment. Her only sounds were the soft jangle of two sheathless Rassua dirks on her belts, pinging against brass loops woven into the leather braiding of her leggings, and the ponk ponk of her sandals' thick soles. Every third step or so, her long toenails, curved tidily over the soles, snatched up a bit of moss and threw it into her path.

Too dang throb of engines, no click of machinery, no murmur of airflow or whisk of hiding crewmen slipping behind the twisting silvery mesh as Keller brushed the curtains aside.

Savannah Ring ducked under another curtain and went ahead. "How about 'Colonial Guard'?"

Keller tasted the suggestion. "Nah, Belle Terre doesn't intend to be a colony any longer than it can get away with. Governor Pardonnet's got some big ideas about planetary autonomy. He wants full-fledged Federation membership as soon as he can qualify for it."

"For sixty thousand people? Barely a city."

"Give'm time. Look at this interior decor...early mossbound."

"Not sure it's moss." Ring spoke from slightly ahead, one eye on her tricorder screen. "I'm not picking up any cell structure." She frowned at the readings. The instrument's tiny screen flickered, unable to make up its mind. "I hope our boys put their masks on before they came over. If they came over."

"Their Plume disintegrated," Keller said tartly. "If they're not in here, they're not anywhere." As his stomach cramped with tension, he added, "I'm not ready to lose two crewmen."

She glanced at him. "Maybe it's our dues, Nick."

"Ain't paying."

The edge in his tone nearly tripped her. Ring stopped the glances and concentrated forward.

Before them lay a long swirling tube-like structure, more a cave than a ship's interior, but in fact they were on a ship. In their last communication with their first officer, Shucorion said the basic shape suggested old Kauld design. Then the two-man patroller he'd been flying went silent and...

Accept it. And apparently blew up. Outside, space glittered with microbits of the demolished craft. Amazing that a two-man craft could have so many molecules to disrupt.

His stomach crawled. His hands were cold.

As he and Zoa followed Ring's tricorder scan toward the far end of this airlock, the silvery curtains fell behind them and the draping effect was taken over by sheets of something that looked like Spanish moss, hanging in layers from unseen heights between sections. Where was the ceiling?

At least there was gravity. But why was there gravity? Who needed gravity? Where was the ship's complement?

They struggled into a greenish-silver cave of unidentifiable shapes, geometric forms, clearly not natural, though overgrown with a coat made up of shimmering leaves here, tiny hairs there, thick spores over there, as if some gardener had let otherworldly kudzu take over inside his house. No helm, no walkways, no seats or consoles, yet this was a space vessel and it was moving. Keller hungered to ask Shucorion why he thought this vessel might be Kauld, or might be masquerading as Kauld. But Shucorion was missing.

Hardly a month in command, and Keller had misplaced his plainspoken first officer and his fanciful bosun, each newly appointed, each desperately needed.


Lost...Shucorion was Blood, and he was talking about Kauld, and Keller didn't fool himself that the alliance between the two ancient warring cultures was temporary at best, an illusion at worst. He knew the Federation's push into the Cluster had upset an ages-old balance that had been about to tip in Kauld favor. The Kauld were talking nice right now, but for how long? No matter what kind of overtures Keller made, he and his one ship were a very thin stick to hold Blood and Kauld apart. Had the stick snapped? Why did things have to be this way?

A methyl-green canopy of living stuff, or what seemed to be living, dipped over snaggletoothed structures that resembled more than anything else man-sized mounds of decaying cheese. Upon those grew lichen and some kind of coppery mushroom. Between them were masses of three-inch-wide bulbs with spines, and on each spine was a little glossy globe. Keller swore they were looking at him as he and Ring picked past.

"This place'll cure your hiccups," he muttered. "Never know you were in space if you didn't come from outside."

Ring poked a probing finger at a piece of -- was it machinery? "There's something metallic under this coating. Reads as alloy."

"What kind?"

"I'm picking up all kinds, all around us. Steel...manganese bronze...air-hardened steel...perminvar...pig iron...silicon steel...fused metal...cupronickel...silver leaf...what the hell?" She stopped reading off the list, cocked her hip in disgust, and grumbled, "The tricorder's having a hernia. Some of this stuff doesn't read as any kind of conventional compound, even though I'm getting some base-metallic traits. These bonds can't happen. There's got to be something wrong with this thing."

While she grumbled curses at her tricorder, Keller came up behind her and prodded the same formation, a tall cylindrical column sticking up out of the alabastrine mesh. His finger went through a draping of hairlike fibers as soft as a woman's ponytail, and inside was something hard. "Is this some kind of tree?"

"In the Tin Man's imagination, maybe. I only read metal."

"Even this?" The soft stuff rolled in his hand. The only hint of metallic nature was the sheen over the curves of his fingers. It l

Product Details

  • File Size: 1194 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0743418557
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (October 10, 2001)
  • Publication Date: October 10, 2001
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0OZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,325 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical Star Trek Adventure August 13, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you enjoy a book that jumps straight into the action with both feet and hits the ground running then you should be very happy with "Chainmail", the second Gateways novel. Written by Diane Carey this is the Challenger installment in the series. If you are not familiar with the Challenger crew from the New Earth book "Challenger" you definitely want to read that first and become familiar with the characters or it would be very difficult to enjoy "Chainmail". "Chainmail" includes no familiar Star Trek characters. The story is populated with people entirely created from the imagination of the author.
Nick Keller and crew are the lone Starfleet presence in the recently settled Belle Terre sector. A very different type of crew on a very unique vessel. So it seems appropriate that Keller and company find themselves slap dab in the middle of a really weird situation. What are they to do with a ship full of animated corpses that seems bound and determined to destroy them, and what is it doing in their little corner of space anyway? It's a mystery all right.
This is the type of novel a reader either likes or loathes. A story you really have to pay attention to. Definitely not a light read. I enjoyed the plot immensely and the characters. But at the same time I found the writing style to be a bit too descriptive, very typical Diane Carey. The story is filled with confusion at times, and then suddenly there is a startling moment of clarity. "Chainmail" is certainly different that's for sure. So if you feel in the mood for something different, a mystery/adventure with a true Science Fiction touch and unique characters give it a try. If you're looking for a Star Trek novel of the kind you are typically used to then I would pass on "Chainmail".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the second novel featuring Diane Carey's crew of the ship "Challenger" first introduced in the novel by the same name that capped off the Belle Terre series.
Carey has long been one of the best Trek authors of the lot, and when given her own canvas to work off of, she is simply excellent. Her ship and characters--a motley band of Starfleet officers and indigenous aliens serving aboard a patched-together starship--realize all the complexity and storytelling potential that the Trek series Voyager promised but never delivered. The characters are sharply-drawn, the dialogue crackles, and the action leaves you breathless.
Best of all, the story is genuinely creative and original. Unlike many Trek novels, which simply recycle plots from old episodes, and other novels, Carey's story is truly imaginative.
It's easier to understand if you've read "Challenger" (though not necessary), but still a great book. Here's hoping for a quick return of Nick Keller and the crew of the "Challenger."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the crew of the "Challenger" is refreshingly new August 13, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel doesn't have much to do with the first one in the Gateways series (at least, nothing that is apparent now). If you haven't read the New Earth series, especially "Challenger", you'll be lost. And if you like to read about Kirk and the rest of TOS crew, you'll be disappointed -- they're nowhere to be found. But I think this is a good thing.
One problem with Star Trek books is that the authors have to use characters, locations, and situations that are already familiar to us from hours of TV and movies. You miss the creativity of sci-fi epics where the writer shapes the whole universe (Dune, Heinlein, etc)
Which is why I enjoy the Challenger novels (and Peter David's Excalibur series) -- the authors are free to create totally new crews, and getting to know new characters is exciting.
For instance, in "Challenger", we saw a lot of self-doubt and second-guessing from Nick Keller. There's less of that in "Chainmail" -- he's more confident and more assertive. We see him growing as a Starfleet officer.
This book starts off fairly slowly, and early on there are some chapters written from the aliens' perspective where you have no idea what's going on -- a device I'm not fond of. However, by about halfway through the book all the threads of the story come together, and I couldn't put it down. It's got all the elements that make TOS my favorite Star Trek franchise: a clash of cultures, a mysterious, ancient and powerful civilization, eccentric characters, and a minimum of techno-babble. The characters rely on their brains and diplomacy rather than on technology.
Unfortunately, the novel is just a first part, with a "to be continued" at the end. But at least the book was good enough that I'm anxiously awaiting the continuation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of "Chainmail" Gateways book 2 of 7 April 22, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are a great many things to be said on the subject of this book, both positive and negative. On the one hand, I am no fan of the writing of Diane Carey; in this book, as she frequently does, she tries very hard to make creative use of the language, and generally fails miserably, succeeding only in using words incorrectly. Her idea of creative description is much like that of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carrol; she insists that words mean whatever she intends them to mean, rather than what their actual definitions are, or even what a reasonable person would consider a plausible connotation. (She continues to insist that "sniggering" can be used when one means "niggling", for example, the third book of hers in which I've seen this usage.)
On the plus side, her strength has always been in her plot ideas and her characters, and both of those trends, too, continued in this book. Her characters are fascinating, her plot classic Trek, and the philosophical debate that made for a large part of the creative tension of the book was actually handled well and evenhandedly, and did nothing to detract from the action of the book.
On the down side again, there is the drawback that all books in this "Gateways" series will have, presumably until the last installment: they will all end on a cliffhanger, rather than being self-contained stories.
So it's a difficult call: If you don't mind a book with no familiar Star Trek characters (that is, characters from any of the TV series), don't mind a cliffhanger ending, and can tolerate the author's misuse of the language, this book has a good plot and fascinating characters. But if any of those caveats would put you off, by all means, avoid this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by BB449
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the poorest...
I've read hundreds of Star Trek books and this one was pretty bad. There was so much techno-crap, it wasn't even interesting. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Harold Tucker
2.0 out of 5 stars this book leaves you hanging and you have to wait ...
this book leaves you hanging and you have to wait for the seventh book for the ending. the seventh book is really the last chapters of each the first six books. Read more
Published 6 months ago by charles shiring
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Horrible! Ending is poor.
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Stellar Effort
Good effort by Diane Carey. Read Belle Terre series and Challenger to get the background on this novel.
Published 16 months ago by David Miraglia
1.0 out of 5 stars Could not stomach it
I could not make it past the first 20 pages. I tried, hoping something would make sense. What little I could understand of the characters, they were way too cartoonish. Read more
Published on January 3, 2014 by kimtindall
1.0 out of 5 stars So terrible I gave up which I never do.
So terrible I quit reading it. Disjointed. Nonsensical even for Star Trek's technobabble. A book has to be really awful for me to give up, especially when part of a series, and... Read more
Published on November 17, 2013 by Ryan McKenzie
4.0 out of 5 stars fun
Captured me again. I love to lose myself in these Star Trek novels and adventures. Please continue to write these great stories.
Published on April 15, 2013 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Just what I wanted and received it in 2 days and for a good price. And that all I got to say.
Published on July 15, 2012 by Charity Rose
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't stand on its own
As a cog in the Gateways series this book, while well written, doesn't stand on its own in very annoying ways. Read more
Published on May 18, 2010 by Brent Butler
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