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Q-Strike: The Q Continuum #3 (Star Trek: The Next Generation Book 49) [Kindle Edition]

Greg Cox
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The mischievous creature who calls himself Q has subjected Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise™ to many of their strangest experiences. But little had been known of Q's curious existence or that of the advanced dimension from which he comes. But now Picard knows more than he ever dreamed about an ancient conflict whose consequences might spell the doom of the entire galaxy.
The galactic barrier has fallen and Q's oldest enemy is free once more. Captain Picard and his crew find themselves in the middle of a cosmic war between vastly powerful entities. The future of the Federation may be at stake, but how can mere mortals turn the tide in such a superhuman battle? Picard has to find a way, or neither the Q Continuum nor the galaxy will survive.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

GREG COX is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous Star Trek novels, including The Eugenics Wars (Volumes One and Two), The Q Continuum, Assignment: Eternity, and The Black Shore. His short fiction can be found in such anthologies as Star Trek: Tales of the Dominion War, Star Trek: The Amazing Stories, and Star Trek: Enterprise Logs. His first Khan novel, The Eugenics Wars, Volume One, was voted Best SF Book of the Year by the readers of Dreamwatch magazine. Cox can also be found as a bonus feature on the Director's Edition DVD of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Ship's log, stardate 500146.3, First Officer William T. Riker reporting.

Captain Picard is missing, abducted by the capricious entity known as Q. We can only pray that Q will return the captain unharmed, although time has taught us that Q is nothing if not unpredictable.

The captain's disappearance cannot have come at a worse time, as the Enterprise is under attack by the gaseous life-forms whom Q calls the Calamarain. Although Lieutenant Commander Data has succeeded in adapting our Universal Translator to the Calamarain's inhuman language, allowing us a degree of communication with them, we have thus far failed to win their trust. They have rendered our warp engines inactive and will not permit us to retreat, so we must persuade them otherwise. Speed is imperative, as our time is running out.

To complicate matters, we have a number of potentially disruptive guests aboard the ship. Chief among them are a mysterious woman and boy who claim to be Q's mate and child. Like Q himself, these individuals treat the ship and its crew as mere toys for their amusement. Furthermore, they appear unwilling or unable to inform us where Q has taken Captain Picard.

Equally uncooperative is Professor Lem Faal, a distinguished Betazoid physicist, whose ambitious attempt to breach the immense energy barrier surrounding our galaxy has been interrupted by the unexpected arrivals of both the Q family and the Calamarain. Dying of an incurable disease, and obsessed with completing his work in the time remaining to him, Faal has vigorously challenged my decision to abort the experiment in light of the unanticipated dangers we now face. While I sympathize with the man's plight, I cannot allow his single-minded determination to endanger the ship further.

Indeed, according to what we have gathered from the Calamarain, our first effort to dare the barrier was the very event that provoked the Calamarain's wrath, thus threatening us all with destruction....

The storm raged around them. From the bridge of the Enterprise-E, Commander William Riker could see the fury of the Calamarain on the forward viewscreen. The massive plasma cloud that comprised the foe, and that now enclosed the entire Sovereign-class starship, had grown increasingly turbulent over the last few hours. The sentient, ionized gases outside the ship churned and billowed upon the screen; it was like being trapped in the center of the galaxy's biggest thunderhead. Huge sonic explosions literally shook the floor beneath his feet, while brilliant arcs of electrical energy flashed throughout the roiling cloud, intersecting violently with their own diminished shields. The distinctive blue flare of Cerenkov radiation discharged whenever the shield repelled another bolt of lightning from the Calamarain, which was happening far too often for Riker's peace of mind.

With the captain absent, his present whereabouts unknown, Riker was in command, and fighting a losing battle against alien entities determined to destroy them. Not this time, he vowed silently, determined not to lose another Enterprise while Jean-Luc Picard was away. Once, in that cataclysmic crash into Veridian III, was enough for one lifetime. Never again, he thought, remembering the sick sensation he had felt when that grand old ship had slammed into its final port. Not on my watch.

Their present circumstances were precarious, though. Warp engines down, shields fading, and no sign yet that the Calamarain were willing to abandon their ferocious attack on the ship, despite his sincere offer to abandon the experiment and retreat from the galactic barrier -- on impulse if necessary. Diplomacy was proving as useless as their phasers, even though Riker remained convinced that this entire conflict was based solely on suspicion and misunderstanding. Nothing's more tragic than a senseless battle, he thought.

"Shields down to twenty percent," Lieutenant Baeta Leyoro reported. The Angosian security chief was getting a real baptism by fire on her first mission aboard the Enterprise. So far she had performed superlatively, even if Riker still occasionally expected to see Worf at the tactical station. "For a glorified blast of bad breath, they pack a hell of a punch."

Riker tapped his combadge to initiate a link to Geordi in Engineering. "Mr. La Forge," he barked, "we need to reinforce our shields, pronto."

Geordi La Forge's voice responded immediately. "We're doing what we can, Commander, but this tachyon barrage just keeps increasing in intensity." Riker could hear the frustration in the chief engineer's voice; Geordi had been working nonstop for hours. "It's eaten up most of our power to keep the ship intact this long. I've still got a few more tricks I can try, but we can't hold out indefinitely."

"Understood," Riker acknowledged, scratching his beard as he hastily considered the problem. The thunder and lightning of the storm, as spectacular as they looked and sounded, were only the most visible manifestations of the Calamarain's untempered wrath. The real danger was the tachyon emissions that the cloud creatures were somehow able to generate and direct against the Enterprise. Ironically, it was precisely those faster-than-light particles that prevented the ship from achieving warp speed. "What about adjusting the field harmonics?" he asked Geordi, searching for some way to shore up their defenses. "That worked before."

"Yeah," Geordi agreed, "but the Calamarain seem to have learned how to compensate for that. At best it can only buy us a little more time."

"I'll take whatever I can get," Riker said grimly. Every moment the deflectors remained in place gave them one more chance to find a way out. "Go to it, Mr. La Forge. Riker out."

He sniffed the air, detecting the harsh odor of burned circuitry and melted plastic. A few systems had already been fried by the relentless force of the aliens' assault, although nothing the auxiliary backups hadn't been able to pick up. The Calamarain had drawn first blood nonetheless, while the starship crew's own phasers had done little more than anger the enraged cloud of plasma even further, much to the annoyance of Baeta Leyoro, who took the failure of their weapons personally.

This is all Q's fault, Riker thought. Captain Picard had shielded Q from the Calamarain several years ago, and apparently they had neither forgotten nor forgiven that decision. It was the Enterprise's past association with Q, he believed, that made the Calamarain so unwilling to trust Riker now when he promised to abort Professor Faal's wormhole experiment. Tarred by Q's bad about adding insult to (possibly mortal) injury!

For all we know, he mused, the Calamarain might have sound reasons for objecting to the experiment. If only they could be reasoned with somehow! He glanced over at Counselor Deanna Troi, seated to his left at her own command station. "What are you picking up from our stormy friends out there?" he asked her. The seriousness in his eyes belied the flippancy of his words. "Any chance they might be calming down?"

Troi closed her eyes as she reached out with her empathic senses to probe the emotions of the seething vapors that had enveloped the ship. Her slender hands gently massaged her temples as her breathing slowed. No matter how many times Riker had seen Deanna employ her special sensitivity, it never failed to impress him. He prayed that Deanna would sense some room for compromise with the Calamarain. All he needed was to carve one chink in the other species' paranoia and he was sure he could find a peaceful solution to this needless conflict.

Blast you, Q, he thought bitterly. He had no idea what Q had done God-knows-when to infuriate the Calamarain so, but he was positive it was something stupid, infantile, and typically Q-like. Why should he have treated them any differently than he's ever treated us?

Riker's gaze swung inexorably to the right, where an imperious-looking auburn-haired woman rested comfortably in his own accustomed seat, a wide-eyed toddler bouncing on her knee while she observed the ongoing battle against the Calamarain with an air of refined boredom. Mother and child wore matching, if entirely unearned, Starfleet uniforms, with the woman bearing enough pips upon her collar to outrank Riker if they possessed any legitimacy -- which they most definitely did not. The first officer shook his head quietly; he still found it hard to accept that this woman and her infant were actually Q's wife and son. Frankly, he had a rough time believing that any being, highly evolved or otherwise, would willingly enter into any sort of union with Q.

Then again, the female Q, if that's what she truly was, had enough regal attitude and ego to be one of Q's relations. A match made in the Continuum, he thought. She seemed content to treat the imminent annihilation of the ship and everyone aboard as no more important than a day at the zoo, which was probably just how she regarded the Enterprise. At least the little boy, whom she called q, appeared to be enjoying the show. He gaped wide-eyed at the screen, clapping his pudgy little hands at each spectacular display of pyrotechnics.

I'm glad somebody's having a good time, Riker thought ruefully. I suppose I should be thankful that I don't have to worry about the kid's safety. The two Qs were probably the only people aboard the Enterprise who weren't facing mortal danger. Who knows? he wondered. They may even be at the heart of the problem. Could the Calamarain tell that Q's family were on the ship? That couldn't possibly reflect well on the Enterprise.

"I'm sorry, Will," Troi said, reopening her eyes and lowering her hands to her lap. "All I can sense is anger and fear, just like before." She stared quizzically at the iridescent plasma surging across the viewer. "They're dreadfully afraid of us for some reason, and determined to stop us from interfering with the barrier."

The barrier, Riker thought...

Product Details

  • File Size: 1219 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (July 14, 1999)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0T5E
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,488 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fitting end to the trilogy. February 5, 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
After a decent opener, a flat sequel, this third installment is the best of the bunch.
Though it is much more action packed than the last, and the main characters are all reunited once again to fend off a common threat, it somewhat lacks the humor (from Q's dialouge) of the 1st book.
What I really enjoyed was more of the background of the main villian/s and their lore in past Star Trek moments. It is really neat to see how tightly alligned some of these books in comparison to the Star Trek Universe can be.
I was expecting a bit more of the Continuum to rear their heads as the trilogy implies, but not really. Also, after done with all three, I'm not sure I learned anything spectacular about the Continuum and thier origins.
All in all, Mr. Cox I believe redeemed himself with this book as number 2 was a let down.
Enjoy, and I look forward to more Q antics.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, but not as good as expected October 16, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was a fun read, but not as thoroughly entertaining as I thought it would be. The story started off well with the first book. Cox has Q's voice down pat (the older Q that we are familiar with that is), and the inclusion of Q (Q's wife seen in the Voyager episode "The Q and the Grey") and q (their baby) was very entertaining.
Moving into the second book, the story slows down a lot. Overall the story is interesting, but not absorbing. I found that I had trouble focusing on it, but I can't say for certain why that was. The background on the Tkon Empire is interesting as is the previously unseen history of Q.
The third book, of course, wraps up the story. Despite the grave struggle that Picard, Q, and company went through to resolve things, I didn't feel the excitement of it all. Again, I can't put my finger on any particular reason, but the series was a bit of a disappointment, though it was still fun.
There are three major problems with the Q Continuum series:
The first is too much of a reliance on references to events in past episodes of the TV series. An occasional reference is OK but these books, especially the first one, are littered with them. There are so many of these that it becomes distracting. It is a great way to take up space and make the book longer, but it does nothing for the story since the people reading these books are already Star Trek fans and are already familiar with all of these events.
The second problem is spotty editing. This has been a problem with Star Trek novels, especially the Voyager books, but this series is, in this respect, the worst that I have read so far. The problems are mainly in the form of entire words missing from sentences, or duplicate words.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what a Q book should be! August 15, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
After starting well in book one, and then slowly down to a crawl in book two,book three lets loose with some of the best story telling in the book series! Q faces an enemy more powerful than himself (a storyline touched on in Peter David's incredible "Q-Squared"), but this time he is trapped aboard the Enterprise and must play a sadistic game of "Hide and Seek" against his enemy, O. The storyline involving the female Q and baby q was equally gripping, as they faced the Betazoid professor now enhanced by the Galactic Barrier (as happened to Gary Mitchell in the original series episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before"). The story races along incredibly well, and makes up for the horrible sluggishness of the second book in the series. Definitely not one to miss!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little drawn out trilogy, but I enjoyed the series. November 12, 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I liked this trilogy -- the story was interesting and kept me looking forward to what would happen next. But the pacing did seem kind of slow at times -- for example, the Enterprise's situation remains largely unchanged from the middle of the first book until the beginning parts of the third book. The books themselves were not self-contained -- it was almost like the publisher got to a certain number of pages and ended each book rather than letting the story dictate where to make the breaks. I did really like the tying together of past Treks which Peter David usually does so well in his Treks. Tying apsects from the original series, including Star Trek V (which I had previously thought impossible), with some elements of TNG into a Q story was very satisfying to me. I also thought Greg Cox did an excellent job portraying Q's sarcastic personality and his interactions with Picard are as good as I've ever seen. There are also some aspect of Voyager in there as well. And this was probably the most troubling to me: By and large, this story takes place after the events from "The Q and the Gray". On TNG, by and large, Q is seen as a super-interloper who forces the regular characters to examine themselves and humanity. In Voyager, he is seen as a super-being who has his own personal problems. The Q in this trilogy is the Voyager's portrayal of Q rather than TNG. There is no introspection or growth for humanity, but rather our heros helping Q fix up his own screw-ups before it threatens the galaxy. I don't necessary have a large problem with that -- I did like Q's appearances on Voyager -- it's just something to be aware of and to me, especially in a "saga" like a trilogy, I think it should be more than just an adventure story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars nice order.
Thanks, nice order.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
fery funny , ok .
Published 3 months ago by dds
3.0 out of 5 stars An OK book, but that’s about it
In this sequel to Q-Zone, Captain Picard finally finds out what Q has been trying to teach him about the galactic barrier – the barrier is not there to keep mankind locked in, it’s... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars buyer very pleased!
Arrived safely, buyer very pleased!
Published 8 months ago by Hilde H. Helseth
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly Conceived, and Entertaining
Taking on the telling of a Q-sized adventure is a bold mission. How does one describe a continuum that is beyond human understanding? Read more
Published 15 months ago by Dan Nobles
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Read
The third book was a breath of fresh air and it felt like "warp speed" had been restored after crawling through the second book in the series. Read more
Published 17 months ago by musgrovejb
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing end.
While the beginning of this trilogy had merit as far as the story went (I wasn't super crazy about the writing), it progressively went downhill as the books wore on. Read more
Published 20 months ago by N. Le Fevre
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not outstanding
I bought this book because I enjoyed TOS when I was a kid and young man. This book isn't bad, but it isn't great either. Read more
Published on February 21, 2013 by Eric A. Burr
2.0 out of 5 stars The adversary goes from all powerful to defeatable in a few pages
As a strong fan of Star Trek it is a rare occasion when I have to read a book in short nibbles rather than simply consume it in one or two sittings. Read more
Published on October 11, 2011 by Charles Ashbacher
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying conclusion to the trilogy
The ends the story started in "Q-Zone" and "Q-Space", in which various god-like beings discovered by original Enterprise crew are explained, and which are now teaming up once again... Read more
Published on January 2, 2011 by Brent Butler
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