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Zero Sum Game (Star Trek: Typhon Pact #1) Mass Market Paperback – October 26, 2010
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
“Intruder alert! Lock down all decks! This is not a drill!”
The warning repeated and echoed through the corridors of the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards’ command facility. Red lights flashed on bulkhead panels, and pressure doors started to roll closed, partitioning the space station.
Ensign Fyyl tried to block out the cacophony of deep, buzzing alarms as he sprinted toward his post, phaser in hand. Was it an attack? Fyyl had no idea what was happening. The skinny young Bolian was less than a year out of Starfleet Academy and until that moment had counted himself lucky to have been posted to the security detail on a platform orbiting Mars, one of the safest assignments in the Federation. Now it seemed as if he was in the thick of the action—the last place he’d ever wanted to be.
He stumbled to a halt in front of a companel. With trembling fingers he punched in his security code, confirmed his section was secure, and requested new orders. A multilevel schematic appeared on the display. In real time, sections of the station switched from yellow to green as deck officers and patrolling security personnel such as Fyyl checked in. Then a number of sections turned red, and the chief of security directed all his teams to converge on the intruder.
Here we go, Fyyl thought, sprinting from the companel to the nearest intersection. Courtesy of the station’s active sensor network, the junction’s airtight hatch slid open ahead of him and rolled shut behind him once he’d passed into the next section. Through the windows lining each tube-shaped passage he saw other security personnel moving toward the core ring ahead.
Then he winced at the searing flash of phaser beams slicing through the air and steeled himself for the worst as he charged through the next doorway into the thick of a firefight. Pressing his back against a bulkhead, he snapped off a pair of quick shots in the same direction he saw other Starfleet personnel firing. Through the smoke and blinding ricochets, he couldn’t see if he hit anything.
Fyyl ducked as a volley of electric-blue bolts blazed past him in the other direction. Two of his fellow Starfleeters collapsed to the deck, their eyes open but lifeless, their limbs splayed in the awkward poses of the dead. His heart pounding, Fyyl returned fire into the smoky darkness, trusting his training over his instincts, which told him to run and hide. Several meters ahead of Fyyl, visible even through the dense gray haze, a red warning light flashed.
Someone behind him shouted, “Fall back!”
Terrified and tripping over his own feet, Fyyl struggled to turn away from danger.
The corridor lit up like a sun, swallowing Fyyl and everything around him in a flash of light and heat beyond measure.
• • •
“There’s been an explosion inside the station,” declared Lieutenant Vixia, the half-Deltan operations officer of the U.S.S. Sparrow. “They’re venting air into space.”
Commander Evan Granger leaned forward in his chair as he eyed the vapor jetting from a ragged wound in the hull of the command base. “Take us to Red Alert. If they don’t get that breach sealed in twenty seconds, get ready to close it with a force field from our shield generator.”
Beyond the decades-old space station, nearly two dozen half-constructed starships lay moored in their spacedock frames, mere shells of the vessels they were meant to become. Spread out beneath them was the shallow, dusky curve of the Martian surface, its crater-scarred face dotted with the gleaming lights of cities.
“Jex, any update from the station?” Granger asked his tactical officer.
The short young Bajoran man replied, “Not yet, sir.” He tapped at his console. “I’m still picking up heavy comm chatter from inside the station. Sounds like the intruder’s still alive and on the move.”
“Prep a tractor beam. Be ready to snag any ship or escape pod that leaves that station without clearance.”
“Aye, sir.” Jex began entering new commands on his console, then stopped, his eyes widening with alarm. “Another explosion inside the station.”
Granger looked at the Sparrow’s main viewscreen. Before the young commanding officer could ask Jex for more details, he saw all he needed to know: a massive conflagration had ruptured the station’s lower core, and a crimson fireball now surged toward the small patrol vessel.
“Evasive!” Granger cried out, gripping his chair’s armrests in anticipation. “All power to shields!” No sooner was the order spoken than the blast rocked the Sparrow. For several seconds stretched by fear and adrenaline, there was nothing for Granger to see on the main screen except static and a hellish cloud of flames, and nothing to hear but a deep roar of thunder against the hull.
The quaking ceased, and in the hush that followed Granger heard all the sounds of the bridge with perfect clarity: the soft chirps of feedback tones, the low thrumming of impulse engines beneath his boots, the gentle hum of ventilators.
“Damage report,” he said. “Jex, any casualties?”
“Negative, sir. All decks secure.”
Vixia said over her shoulder from the ops console, “Shields holding, sir.”
“Jex, hail the station, see if they need medical personnel or damage-control teams. And see if you can find out what the hell just happened over there.”
Sitting back, Granger wasn’t sure anyone would ever give him or his crew a true account of what had just occurred, but as he watched the station continue to burn, he wasn’t certain he really wanted to know.
“Do I even want to know what just happened at Utopia Planitia?”
Admiral Leonard James Akaar’s rhetorical question reverberated off the walls of his office on the uppermost level of Starfleet Command and gave way to a pained silence that none of his half dozen assembled peers seemed eager to disturb.
A tiny, throat-clearing cough snared Akaar’s attention. He turned his glare toward Admiral Alynna Nechayev, a trim, middle-aged human woman whose blond hair had begun to show the slightest traces of turning silver in the months following the previous year’s Borg invasion. “Preliminary reports,” she said with the practiced calm of a political veteran, “suggest that the fleet yards’ command station was sabotaged as a diversionary tactic, to conceal the theft of classified data from its main computer.”
Troubled looks passed among the other admirals in the room. Akaar got up from his desk and took his time stepping out from behind it. He towered over the other Starfleet flag officers, and his broad chest and shoulders made it easy for him to part their ranks as he moved to stand in front of Nechayev. The svelte woman held her ground, tilting her head back to meet his gaze as he loomed over her and asked, “What was stolen?”
“The schematics for slipstream drive.”
Akaar’s jaw clenched. He sighed. “Everyone else, get out.”
Nechayev stood with her hands folded behind her back as the other admirals left the room. As the door slid closed behind the last person to exit, Akaar inquired, “How much do we know for certain right now?”
“Not as much as we’d like,” Nechayev said. “We’re fairly certain the spy was a civilian engineer named Kaz-ren. His dossier lists his species as ‘Dessev,’ but he appears to be the first of his kind we’ve ever met. He gained access to the main computer on Utopia Planitia’s command station at 1431 hours, using stolen credentials and specialized tools to fool the biometric sensors.” She stepped over to a companel on the wall and called up a series of classified reports from Utopia Planitia. “The first explosion he set off helped him evade capture while he transmitted a locator signal. The second explosion appears to have been planned to disable the station’s shields and conceal his beam-out.”
Settling back into his chair, Akaar asked, “Beamed to where?”
Punching up a new screen of graphs and data, Nechayev said, “Sensor readings from the station and its patrol ship, the Sparrow, suggest there was a cloaked Romulan vessel waiting nearby to pick Kazren up.”
“How did a cloaked vessel get past our perimeter defenses?”
“We didn’t think the Romulans had this kind of cloak yet.” Nechayev pointed out an isolated section of the graph. “Judging from these readings, I’d say the Romulans have put phasing cloaks into active service.”
Akaar frowned. “If that’s true, they could be roaming at will throughout Federation space.”
“I know,” Nechayev said, “but right now we have a bigger problem. If the Typhon Pact develops their own version of the slipstream drive, we’ll lose the only tactical advantage we have left—and with it, our only hope of keeping this cold war from turning into a real one.”
All at once, Akaar understood why Edward Jellico, his immediate predecessor as Starfleet’s chief admiral, had always seemed to be on the verge of a migraine. Massaging an oppressive ache that throbbed in his temples, he said in a somber tone, “Can you give me the room, please, Alynna? … I need to call the president.”
© 2010 CBS Studios Inc
More About the Author
Beyond novels, Mack's writing credits span several media, including television (for produced episodes of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE), film, and comic books.
Mack's next scheduled works include the STAR TREK 50th-anniversary novel LEGACIES, Book II: BEST DEFENSE and the short stories "Our Possible Pasts," in the anthology 2113: STORIES INSPIRED BY THE MUSIC OF RUSH, and "Midnight Rider," in the horror-fantasy anthology OUT OF TUNE, Vol. 2.
Coming in 2017 from Tor Books will be DARK ARTS, Mack's trilogy of magic-fueled secret-history novels, starting with THE MIDNIGHT FRONT, a World War II-era epic fantasy.
Visit his official website, http://www.davidmack.pro/ and follow him on Twitter @DavidAlanMack.
Top Customer Reviews
The Typhon Pact seems to be including all "branches" of the ST universe together. This novel is about Deep Space 9's characters.
As the blurb says, the bad guys have stolen the plans for the slipstream drive. It is vital the Federation does something about it or else they will lose their only tactical advantage and, in their weakened state after the Borg rampage, will ultimately fall to the Pact. The send in Bashir and another genetically enhanced Human to carry out the mission. Needless to say, they ultimately succeed.
1. We find out more about the previously reclusive Breen. Some quite interesting aspects of their culture which I found enjoyable to read.
2. The Typhon Pact is a realistic rival to the Federation and Klingons. Better than the Mega advanced Borg.
3. I find myself liking Captain Ezri Dax more and more. Quick with the one liners and quick with surprise tactics.
The Not So Good:
1. For genetically enhanced people, Bashir and Douglas don't seem to do anything particularly special. In fact, Bashir seems quite unprepared and naive and far less capable than even some normal people. The reason for his inclusion for this mission is revealed at the end (well, it's revealed at the beginning, but the REAL reason is implied at the end).
2. Seems too short. Perhaps I've grown used to reading more intricate novels and become used to more depth in my characters.Read more ›
When I started this novel I was surprised to see what happened to many of my favorite characters. While some writers are inconsistant, Mack has proved to be a favorite. I have to wonder if he ever wrote an orginal series book? I'd like to see him write a novel based in the J.J. Abrams universe.
Only a couple of things irked me while reading the story. The first was the minor continuity issues. For example at one point someone mentions that Dr. Bashir was held prisoner by the Breen. That never happened. He was held prisoner by the Dominion before they were allied with the Breen. The second was the habit of referring to the genetically enhanced quartet as "the Jack Pack". I don't know why that bothered me but it just seemed stupid.
The book is an easy read and a solid B+ as far as Trek Lit goes. My advice? Borrow it from a friend or read it in a book store while drinking a hot chocolate.
Contrary to what some have suggested, Bashir experienced plenty of development. His reactions to ugly events were telling of his state of mind which was established early on. He had reached the end of himself and realized what he really wanted from life. Maybe some would have preferred (or expected) him to act differently. Like other things in post-Destiny Trek, this was a shakeup.
There were some plot holes. The worst I thought were the contrived obstacles Dax faced. (minor spoilers ahead) For example: Her ship has the slipstream drive and can leave simple warp ships like they're standing still, yet for some reason it's a problem that an enemy fleet has fanned out between her and her destination. Somehow they'll be able to see her coming and block her in the vastness of deep space? Exactly how this might be possible is never explained, it's just stated as fact. And since the enemy knows her destination wouldn't a more sensible strategy be to fall back to that place and engage her in force when she arrives? Dozens of ships deployed to stop her and not one does this though. In fact, when she finally gets to the target there are only two small fighters there to oppose her? Please.
Not perfect, but it's a fast read and highly enjoyable piece of entertainment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
it is a good book to read but I felt at the hole ross and Rachel stuff was a little over the top in some placesPublished 11 days ago by JR
I don't like Ezrie Dax. She looks like a Cuppie Doll and when picking up the book I would shutter. Still, it's supposed to be the first in the series. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Troy
This book weaved an exciting and fast moving story. It is well done. As usual there are a bit too many convenient coincidences but they do not detract too much from the story.Published 2 months ago by ARC
So far, it seems every Star Trek book of David Mack's that I've read has been good... Good book.Published 2 months ago by LSDuigi
I found this book to be a "page turner." If you like Star Trek and follow all the characters, this is good book to read. Read morePublished 4 months ago by L. H. Davis
I picked up the DS9 book series a couple of months ago and I've been reading my way through them, so for everyone else who has done the same, here are some ideas of what to expect... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Anise
With no new Star Trek episodes or movies, books like these keep the universe alive. I hope that stories like these are evaluated and added to the cannon.Published 9 months ago by Jason Muhammad
Fast paced and lots of action. I've never read about Captain Ezri Dax before this. I'm hooked nowPublished 9 months ago by Kristofer Wright