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Keith R.A. DeCandido was born and raised in New York City to a family of librarians. He has written over two dozen novels, as well as short stories, nonfiction, eBooks, and comic books, most of them in various media universes, among them Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Marvel Comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, Resident Evil, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Farscape, Xena, and Doctor Who. His original novel Dragon Precinct was published in 2004, and he's also edited several anthologies, among them the award-nominated Imaginings and two Star Trek anthologies. Keith is also a musician, having played percussion for the bands the Don't Quit Your Day Job Players, the Boogie Knights, and the Randy Bandits, as well as several solo acts. In what he laughingly calls his spare time, Keith follows the New York Yankees and practices kenshikai karate. He still lives in New York City with his girlfriend and two insane cats.
Eleven Years Later
Scotty!" Kirk called desperately into the ship's intercom. "I need warp speed in three minutes or we're all dead!"
At the science station, Captain Thelin felt the palpitations of his antennae as the adrenaline rushed through the veins beneath his pale blue skin. The Enterprise was in danger, and he was, after all, its captain, even though Admiral James T. Kirk was currently in command -- a fact that the Andorian didn't begrudge him, for the admiral's experience had most assuredly saved their lives several times already this day.
But as Thelin looked down at the spherical waveform on his console, growing in intensity with each passing second toward a violent detonation that would surely ensnare them, it appeared that Kirk might have finally exhausted his seemingly endless supply of clever schemes.
"No response, Admiral," Uhura announced from the communications station.
"Scotty!" Kirk fruitlessly continued to shout into the intercom, even as the silence clearly suggested that Commander Scott in engineering was either too busy or, heaven forbid, too badly injured to reply. Kirk turned toward the helm. "Mister Sulu, get us out of here, best possible speed!"
"Aye, sir," Sulu replied. But Thelin knew that impulse drive would not provide them with the necessary speed to escape the blast range of the Genesis Device.
Next to Thelin at the adjacent science station stood Dr. David Marcus, the brilliant son of Carol Marcus and James Kirk -- the man who, despite his youth, was credited with the invention of the Genesis Device. He stared at the readouts on the consoles, quietly wringing his hands, no doubt grappling with the knowledge that his own creation was to be their undoing.
With grim irony, Thelin recalled the scene as the young boy first discovered the wave in the lab on Andor eleven years earlier. He had always wondered why, following his departure from the Institute to return to Starfleet, the whole project had eventually been classified, with the Federation's tightest security protocols managing the flow of information in and out of the Marcus laboratory on space station Regula One. Little did he realize then that the Genesis team had discovered a power so revolutionary that it could transform the surface of an entire planet.
A power that, in the wrong hands, could be an unbelievably potent weapon.
Thelin watched the image of the U.S.S. Reliant, crippled in space, fading into the distance ever so slowly. Too slow, he knew, to save them. Aboard that ship was a madman, Khan Noonien Singh, who had stolen the Genesis Device and now had begun a buildup toward detonation. And the Enterprise, itself crippled and without warp drive as a means of escape, was counting down the minutes to its doom.
"Admiral," Uhura called out. "I have Doctor McCoy, down in engineering."
Standing next to the captain's chair, Kirk stabbed the intercom switch on the armrest. "Bones! What the hell is going on down there?"
"Jim," the doctor's voice was heard amid a cacophony of activity in the engine room. "Scotty's suffering acute radiation sickness. I've given him shots of hyronalin and cordrazine, but he won't be conscious for a few minutes."
"We don't have a few minutes!" Kirk shouted.
Finding himself unable to remain seated any longer, Thelin stood and began walking toward the sound of McCoy's voice in the center of the bridge. "Doctor," he said. "Who is currently in charge of the engineering team? I must inform them what is at stake."
"Thelin, where's the sense in that?" the doctor responded with irritation. "Use that thick white-haired head of yours. You trained these kids. They know what's at stake. Now let them do their damn jobs!"
Thelin bit his lip almost hard enough to draw blood and turned back toward the science station. The doctor was right, of course, as he usually was when invoking logic to counteract Thelin's impulsiveness. Truth be told, most of the cadets down there knew their way around a warp coil better than their captain. Nevertheless, to sit idly by and wait to live or die ran contrary to every fiber in his being.
With a loud sigh he fell back into his chair. The image on the display before him cast an eerie glow about him as it grew in intensity. There was no stopping it, and the ship was completely vulnerable without any way to raise the shields. Unless...
"David," Thelin said. "The Genesis wave is primarily meson energy, is it not?"
"That's right," David replied, his tone a mix of puzzlement and curiosity, "at least initially. But once the wave contacts matter, the matrix breaks the covalent bonds between atoms, producing alpha particles that get reconstituted into -- "
"Yes, so we must ensure that the wave doesn't contact the ship. The Enterprise shields could be reconfigured to disrupt meson waveforms at the proper frequency."
"But we're in the middle of the Mutara Nebula! I thought the shields were inoperative?"
Thelin struggled to remain patient, despite the situation. "The shields are unable to function in their standard configuration. The matter and energy of the nebula would overload them in seconds. But what if we altered the scheme to produce selective screening at the subatomic level?"
David considered this. "You mean...we could differentiate between fermions and composite bosons, and tell it to ignore all particulate matter..."
"Precisely. Then use the shield harmonics to cancel the frequency of the wave."
David turned toward Kirk, who was now approaching the two men, intrigued by what he had overheard. The young scientist's eyes darted back and forth, from his father, looming so near with his unspoken expectations, to the technical readouts that grew more alarming with each passing second, as he quickly contemplated the idea. "Well...yes, I suppose, as long as the initial waveform is disrupted, then the matrix can't initialize. But..." He helplessly shrugged his shoulders. "I've got no experience in deflector engineering."
"That's not a problem," Thelin assured him. "Just compute the harmonic values based upon our shield frequency and feed them to my screen. I'll begin reprogramming the emitters."
"Excellent thinking, gentlemen," Kirk said in earnest as David seated himself and frantically began to make calculations. Buoyed by renewed hope, the admiral whirled himself around, back toward the navigation console. "Time, from my mark."
Ensign Croy, the blond-haired male cadet at the navigation console, checked the chronometer. "Two minutes, fifteen seconds."
Kirk approached the young officer and placed his hand upon his shoulder, managing to force a smile through his anxiety. "Well, Ensign," he said. "You have my apologies. Most cadets don't have to face the no-win scenario twice in one week."
"Yes, Admiral," Croy replied, struggling to maintain his composure under the presently harrowing circumstances. "But you yourself said that how we face death is just as important as how we face life."
"Yes, I did," Kirk agreed. "And if we get through this, I'll make sure your record reflects your expertise on the subject."
"Thank you, sir." He paused as if considering whether to say anything further, then turned back toward his mentor. "Sir, do you really think we'll get through this?"
"I don't know, Ensign," Kirk answered with complete honesty. "But in the hands of my science officer and my son...well, I like our chances."
Back at the science stations, his fingers fluttering over the keypads, David entered his final set of equations into the console. "That'll have to do it," he said not altogether confidently.
"I have it," Thelin replied. "Compiling the final configuration now." It would have to do it. For the sake of Thelin's crew. For the sake of Thelin's superior officer -- a man to whom he had repeatedly pledged his loyalty, and who over the years had earned his unwavering respect.
Additional seconds ticked by, though the passage of time had become impossibly difficult to gauge as the bridge had fallen into an uneasy silence. "Time to detonation," Kirk barked out.
"Thirty seconds," came Sulu's reply from the conn.
"Distance from Reliant?" Kirk asked.
Chekov looked up from the tactical console with resignation. "Four thousand kilometers," he meekly offered.
Not nearly enough, Thelin thought. The shockwave alone might destroy us, even with the adjusted shielding.
Kirk leaned forward in his seat, his exasperation beginning to shatter his mask of confidence. "Thelin? David? I think now might be a good time to try out that new shield configuration."
"Stand by, Admiral," Thelin replied. His hands shook. The console was responding so slowly; he wanted to scream, and to pound his fists into the keypads. Save the new template, reinitialize the modulation sequence...
"Fifteen seconds," Sulu announced.
David watched Thelin from a few feet away, silently urging him on.
"Thelin?" Kirk cried out.
The Andorian finished punching in the final code sequence. "Shields going up now!" he yelled out triumphantly, releasing all his frustrations. He sat back in his chair and exhaled, and for a moment wondered if he had even remembered to breathe the last few minutes.
"All decks brace for impact!" Kirk shouted into the intercom.
Thelin looked over and met David's eyes. Had they done enough? Neither of them seemed to know the answer.
A blinding white flash filled the viewscreen before them.
In roughly the same instant, the wave violently collided with the rear of the ship. The hull lurched forward, and the cadets unfortunate enough to be standing about the bridge instantly found themselves sprawled on the deck. Quickly they scrambled to their feet and stumbled back to their respective stations.
"Report!" Kirk shouted.
Chekov struggled to pull himself back up toward the console. "Structural integrity at fifty percent," he yelled over the din of alarms and voices that now surrounded them. "Inertial dampeners are restabilizing."
"Trying to regain attitude control," Sulu announce... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
No HEA in this book, eveything that can go wrong does go wrong.
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