Welcome to the next exciting installment of Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I. If you’ve ever wondered what Star Trek would be like as a modern, Tom Clancy-esque techno-thriller, you’ve come to the right place. Just in case you’ve missed the previous installments, you can find them here:
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Prologue
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 1
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 2
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 3
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 4
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 5
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 6
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 7
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 8
- Star Trek: Shadow Prime Book I – Chapter 9
Beverly Crusher was just getting ready to leave her quarters when she heard the door chime. Not giving it a second thought, she told the visitor to come in as she darted into the bathroom to run a brush through her hair, expecting to find a member of her staff waiting for her when she returned. “Do we have that final manifest yet?” Beverly asked, absently clasping an earring into place—then stopping abruptly when she saw Picard standing in the doorway.
“I hope I’m not intruding,” he said.
“Not at all,” she replied, not missing a beat. “Although we usually meet for breakfast in your quarters, don’t we?”
“I thought I might vary my game a bit.” He gestured inside. “May I?”
“Be my guest,” Beverly said, as Picard walked in and the door closed behind him. “Anybody else see you stopping by? I wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea.”
“After that performance on the holodeck?” he asked. “The wrong idea may be the least of our concerns.”
“You brought that on yourself, Captain,” she said in good humor. “Besides, what good is a crew if you can’t have a little fun with them?”
Our latest episode of the NOQ Report Podcast...
Picard nodded affirmatively, returning her smile—but only a little. Normally a reserved man, he seemed downright pensive this morning—a trait rarely on display when they were alone together. Going through the motions, he walked over to the replicator station and ordered himself up some tea, his back turned to her as she observed him, waiting for him to say what was really on his mind.
“So how are your preparations going?” he asked.
“About as well as you could expect,” Beverly answered—deliberately evasive, because she knew that was the only way to draw him out. “There are about two dozen medical personnel awaiting transport off the surface, along with all their equipment. Some of it requires special handling, but we’ll get through it.”
“When do you commence operations?”
“In two hours.”
A moment’s hesitation, then came the crux of it.
“I see that Commander Riker has you assigned to the away team.”
“Yes,” Beverly said, coaxing him more.
“Did he say why?”
“He didn’t need to.”
Picard finally turned around.
“I volunteered,” Beverly said, laughing softly. “And don’t act so surprised. You need your best people on this one—and I’m not the kind of girl who likes to miss out on all the fun.”
“I’d hardly describe the situation as fun,” Picard snapped. “In fact, the situation is bordering on dangerous.”
“Jean-Luc, are you worried about me?”
He took a breath, flustered, then came over to her—closer than he usually did, actually taking her by surprise. Subtle gestures, the kind that only she knew how to read, conveyed his seriousness, even more than the quiet urgency of his tone.
“I can’t control what’s happening on the ground,” he said. “Between the Bezzeret and Fleet Command, God only knows how many agendas are at work. We can’t even tell our friends from our enemies—and you are about to land right in the center of the storm.” Lowering his eyes, Picard seemed to think better of it, taking a few seconds to collect himself before he said something hard to take back. “I just want you to be careful, that’s all.”
Beverly touched the side of his face—an intimate enough gesture, but as much as either of them would allow.
“We all take risks,” she told him. “It’s part of the job.”
“Not like this,” Picard said, withdrawing to a safer distance. Standing near the window, he straightened his uniform jacket and looked out at Dauntless, the smaller ship lurking in Enterprise’s shadow. “We should have support from back home, but we don’t. If things deteriorate any further, we may well find ourselves completely on our own. Away teams will be particularly exposed.”
“All the more reason to get in and get out quickly.”
“And to take nothing for granted,” Picard finished, looking back at her. “Keep your people close—and don’t trust anyone outside your immediate chain of command.”
She motioned toward the window. “What about our friends out there?”
“Don’t assume they’re on the same side,” he admonished. “In all likelihood, Quintax is taking his orders straight from Darelian.”
Beverly frowned curiously. She knew that Picard had met with Dauntless’s captain, but he had kept the details of that meeting to himself. Now she was beginning to understand why.
“I’ll pass that along to Riker,” she said. “Anything else?”
“Just keep your phaser at the ready. We’ve already seen how the Bezzeret treat offworlders. Don’t give them the chance to do the same to you.”
Studying his eyes, Beverly could tell Picard was genuinely scared—another trait she didn’t often see, which inspired a flash of her own fear. She wanted to ask him more about it, to find some measure of reassurance buried in all the pessimism, but the intercom sounded before she could say anything further.
“Bridge to Captain,” Lieutenant Worf said.
Picard fixed her with that same gaze for a moment longer, then answered the call.
“Go ahead, Mr. Worf.”
“SIGINT just picked up a spike in communications traffic between the Bezzeret security minister and the prime minister’s office. It appears that they have just upgraded their defense condition from serious to critical.”
Picard exchanged an even more grave look with Beverly.
“Can you determine the reason?”
“We are working to decrypt the messages now.”
“Make it your priority, lieutenant,” Picard said as he headed toward the door. “I’m on my way up now. Have Counselor Troi report as well.” Pausing there, he hesitated for a time, not wanting to leave her—any more than she wanted him to go. But, as Beverly remembered from bitter experience, such was the nature of their relationship. Even if they could change it, she doubted they ever would.
Until the day it really is too late.
“Beverly—” he began.
“I know,” she said, sparing him. “I’ll see you when I get back.”
He nodded once and then left. Beverly could tell that he didn’t believe her.
“Captain on the bridge,” Picard heard the petty officer of the watchannounce as he exited the turbolift. He immediately turned and headed to the comm station, where Worf and Troi awaited him. Data was also there manning the station, sifting through the endless reams of traffic that Enterprise had been monitoring since her arrival.
“Any luck?” Picard asked.
“The change in defense condition coincides with several reports coming from the Bezzeret news media,” Worf said, motioning for Data to bring the feed to his console screen. A few seconds later, grainy images shot with handheld cameras appeared, showing the immediate aftermath of some large-scale disaster. In between jump cuts and jerky movements, Picard saw flames engulfing the remains of what looked like a government building, while broken bodies were carried out of the rubble on stretchers by emergency responders. A frenzied narration played out beneath all the gruesome coverage, in the Bezzeret language which Picard didn’t understand—but the anger and panic in that voice told him clearly that this had been no accident. “Indications point to a terrorist attack of some sort,” Worf affirmed, as if echoing the captain’s thoughts. “They are estimating high casualties and widespread damage.”
“My God,” Picard whispered. “Where did this take place?”
Data overlaid a graphic of the Bezzeret capital city on his screen, zooming in on the center of the metroplex. An area flashing in red depicted the epicenter of the event. “The Office of the Security Minister,” the android answered. “Ship’s sensors have confirmed a single large explosion taking place there twenty-seven minutes ago.”
Troi immediately looked at Picard with terror in her eyes.
“Dalton,” she said.
Picard put his hand on Data’s shoulder. “Translate the news feed. Find out if they have any idea what happened.”
Data instantly processed all of the reports using his positronic brain, faster than even the ship’s computer could perform. “At this moment, the media are only engaged in speculation. The prime minister has so far refused to confirm or deny anything.”
“Dammit,” Picard seethed. “What about those encrypted messages?”
“Bezzeret algorithms are among the most secure ever devised,” Worf said. “Their government steadfastly refuses to share the keys, even with allies—which makes them notoriously difficult to crack.”
“That doesn’t mean we haven’t tried,” the captain observed, knowing full well that Fleet Command devoted more resources than they would ever admit to penetrating the communications of its Federation partners. Leaning over the interface, he punched in a personal security code and linked the console with the secure node in his quarters. “Commander, if you’d cross reference all SIGINT traffic with the ZION database, you may well find the missing piece to this puzzle.”
“ZION?” Troi asked, frowning curiously.
“Call it a repository of questionable gains,” Picard replied, leaving it at that. Data, meanwhile, did as ordered and ran the intercepts through the database to identify and map known code sequences. The captain expected it to take some time—but blinked in surprise when the computer came back with an affirmative beep in a matter of seconds.
“Curious,” Data said. “It appears as if the Bezzeret are using a legacy code.”
“That would be highly irregular,” Worf interjected. “Transmitting messages in an old code while a newer one is in use is a profound breach of protocol, captain. Doing so compromises their entire network.”
“Yes,” Picard drew out, uncomfortable with this particular stroke of good fortune. Even so, he had no option but to see where this newly opened door led. “Decode the messages, Mr. Data. Collate and summarize by relevance.”
“Aye, sir,” the android said, applying the encryption key. In short order, the console display changed from a seemingly random set of characters to a Standard translation of Bezzeret letters and numbers. From there Data flashed through hundreds of screens, absorbing the flow of information as quickly as it appeared. “The prime minister has placed all domestic protection forces on full alert. . .around the clock curfews are in effect. . .the rounding up of those with suspected terror ties has begun. The number of deaths from the explosion is expected to be dozens, if not hundreds.”
Troi zeroed in. “Who did they say was responsible?”
“Insurgents led by an individual named Griff,” Data said, which immediately caused Troi to move in closer. “Ministry records identify him as a former high-level scientist who took up arms against the government in response to the censure of his research.”
“That’s a lie,” Troi countered, drawing Picard’s attention. “Maurian told me about this man, captain. From what he described, Griff is no terrorist.”
“Maurian is also named as a perpetrator in this attack,” Data added. “According to this reconstruction of events, he went to the ministry in order to aid Jeffrey Dalton with an escape attempt.”
“A failed one. Both Dalton and Maurian were killed.”
Picard stepped back as if pushed, his legs feeling weak beneath him. His mind had already moved past the attack itself, reeling all of the implications that went with it: Dalton dead. The Bezzeret on a war footing. Enterprise in a kill zone between the two.
“They’re describing it as a suicide bombing,” Worf said, reading from the screen. “‘Subject Maurian most likely wore a vest packed with several kilos of boosted Solenite and detonated himself when cornered by security forces.’” The Klingon shook his head. “Astounding.”
“Captain,” Troi said, her own anger—and memories—rising to the surface. “Maurian died on that hillside outside the city. I watched him fall. There’s no way he could have done what they said.”
Picard nodded, because he understood. He had known all along, from the moment he met Darelian, that there was no way she would allow Dalton to live. But he hadn’t expected something like this—something so vicious—and certainly not this soon.
“They assassinated him,” he said finally.
Troi’s face turned ashen. “How could Darelian expect to get away with this?”
“Because she knows we’re in no position to contradict her. We can’t admit to your excursion on the planet surface, and with Maurian gone she has the perfect scapegoat for Dalton’s murder.”
“But to indiscriminately kill so many of her own people—”
“Only solidifies her own position. More than anything, she needs outrage to make herself into the peacemaker. When they find out about this, the Federation will practically beg her to put out the flames.” Picard shook his head ruefully. “It was no accident that Darelian sent those transmissions using the old code. She wanted us to read them. It’s her way of telling us the game is over.”
Worf was pragmatic. “It would seem that she is correct.”
“Perhaps,” Picard mused, and walked slowly down to the center of the bridge. There, he stood in silence by his command chair and stared at the main viewer. Even from orbit, he could see a faint orange glow licking the night sky above the capital city, the fires from the bombing contained and slowly dying. If Darelian really was so desperate as to stage such mayhem, then she truly was capable of anything—and Picard knew of only one way to use that against her.
“Open up a channel to the prime minister,” he said. “It’s time we rattled her cage to see what falls out.”
Qio’dxitale ren A’rchon’sal (Tactical Research and Analysis Command)
Bezzeret Home World
Darelian had fully expected the call. Once Dalton’s blood had been spilled, it was inevitable—and she had imagined every possible permutation, from the expression on Jean-Luc Picard’s face to her own carefully orchestrated fury, made all the more convincing by the smears of soot on her face and clothes and the backdrop of a damaged control room behind her. Taking a breath, Darelian presented herself as every inch the leader in crisis: the stoic countenance, the dried tears, the shock of having narrowly escaped death herself—all lies delivered with such panache that even she almost believed them.
Without a doubt, it was a work of art.
And when the comm station announced an incoming hail, she was ready.
“Enterprise is signaling, prime minister.”
It was a young adjutant who addressed her, some random officer she had selected as Maurian’s replacement. Maurian, who had betrayed her as no one else could, now being groomed with a legacy befitting his treachery. A small consolation, to be sure, but at least the rest of the world would soon hate him as much as Darelian did.
“Give it a moment,” she said, “then put it on screen.”
The adjutant complied, then engaged a large display at the front of the room. The image dissolved in and out of static, as one would expect after a bombing, finally settling on a view of Enterprise’s bridge. Picard was there, seated in his command chair, flanked by that ghostlike android and the damned Betazoid counselor who had caused her so much grief. They feigned concern as soon as they saw her condition, and the sparks that sporadically erupted from the jagged wires protruding from the walls.
“Prime minister,” Picard began urgently. “Our sensors detected explosions in the vicinity of your security offices. Are you all right?”
As if you didn’t already get my message.
“I don’t have time for this, Picard,” Darelian snapped, breathless and playing up the chaos for all it was worth. “My people are still picking through the rubble searching for survivors.”
Darelian’s eyes darted briefly toward the Betazoid, who doubtlessly watched her every gesture for the slightest sign of deception. She steeled herself with all the discipline she could muster, and answered just as she had rehearsed.
“We’re still not certain,” she said, “but all signs are pointing to a deliberate act—probably the same separatists who have been launching attacks against our government for some time now. I can’t get into the specifics for security reasons, but it appears as if one of my own people may have been involved.”
Picard frowned, a convincing mixture of shock and trepidation.
“The separatists must have been conspiring with this individual to free the prisoner Jeffrey Dalton,” Darelian continued. “We have the person on monitors breaking into Dalton’s cell and helping him to escape. Several bystanders were killed in the process.”
She couldn’t tell for certain, but Darelian thought she had him convinced.
“Our guards were forced to take aggressive action to prevent further loss of life,” she finished. “Obviously, the separatists had no intention of allowing anyone to be taken alive—including Dalton.” She paused for a long, dramatic effect. “He was killed in the explosion.”
Picard sank back in his chair, stunned. “A suicide bomb?”
“That’s what it looks like. I’ll let you know more as soon as my teams have a chance to investigate.” She looked at the captain sincerely. “I didn’t want it to happen this way, Picard. Now you see what I have to deal with.”
“Of course,” Picard said, with a nod of understanding. “You have our deepest condolences over this senseless act of violence. Please inform us if there is anything we can do to assist in your recovery efforts.”
Darelian felt suddenly flush with victory, but hoped her expression didn’t show it.
“I will,” she said. “My people will be in contact—”
“Just one moment,” Picard interrupted, pulling his counselor aside and having a private discussion with her. It didn’t go on for long—but it was enough to rob Darelian of the notion that this thing might actually be over. When Picard returned, his tone only confirmed that it would not be that easy. “Obviously you have more immediate concerns,” he said, “but there is still the matter of the charges against Dalton. The Federation is still taking this very seriously, and will require a full accounting of all the evidence you had against him.”
“The evidence?” Darelian stammered, blinking in surprise that he would even broach the subject at a time like this. “I have mass casualties down here, Picard. What could possibly be so important about the evidence right now?”
“Even though there won’t be a trial, there will be hearings,” Picard explained, “and we need to be certain that everything is secure—particularly since we will likely be presenting new evidence of Dalton’s innocence.”
Darelian froze, the blood draining from her face.
“What new evidence?”
“We’re still in the process of discovery,” Picard said, “but Dr. Dalton may have known something of which even he wasn’t aware—at least not consciously. Counselor Troi can explain it to you.”
Horrified, Darelian watched the Betazoid step into the fore-frame and fix her with that dark, probing gaze of hers, the kind that plied secrets best left untold.
“During my session with Dr. Dalton, I employed a technique known as passive regression,” the Betazoid said. “It’s a very subtle form of communication, part empathy and part observation—much like building a psychological profile, only from the inside out. The subject often isn’t even aware of the process, which makes it an ideal form of treatment for cases involving post-traumatic stress.”
Darelian had to suppress a wave of panic.
“Are you saying,” she asked, incredulous, “that you probed his mind?”
“Hardly anything that invasive,” the Betazoid replied. “In fact, mind probes would not have turned up the repressed memories I found—not when they were buried so deep.”
Darelian still heard the echoes of Dalton’s screams from when her own interrogators had plumbed the depths of his mind, dredging up every last impulse to find out how much he knew. Could it be possible that they had missed something?
The Betazoid, inscrutable, forced the question out of her.
“Fragments, mostly. I still haven’t had the chance to sort through them fully. To do so will require my undergoing a more active form of regression with a full telepath, which I intend to do as soon as we depart from here. A colleague of mine from the University of Betazed has already agreed to perform the procedure.”
“Did you…” Darelian began, afraid to hear the answer. “Were you able to discern any specific memories?”
“Only that they involve Castis Minor,” the Betazed told her, “and proof of his theories that survives in a hidden location.”
Darelian seemed to detach from her body, consciousness floating free and observing from the outside. In that vision, she saw her physical self as little more than a shell—a prison of flesh racked by fear, paralyzed by impotence. The urge to remain there, above it all, was beyond tempting, and harder to resist with each passing second. Falling back into herself was the most excruciating experience of her life.
Life, as I know it, about to end…
“You see why we must continue pursue this avenue of investigation,” Picard said, his voice hollow and distant in her ears. “If there is indeed evidence to back up Dalton’s claims, it must be made known—especially now, after his death, when he can no longer defend himself.”
“Yes,” Darelian heard herself say. “It will be done.”
“Thank you,” Picard said. “Our evacuation teams will commence beaming down shortly. You can provide Commander Riker with Dalton’s file before he completes his work there. I don’t anticipate it will take any longer than twelve hours. After that, Enterprise and Dauntless will depart your system as per the conditions of the quarantine.”
“Yes,” Darelian repeated, not even looking at him.
“Let us hope we can get to the truth quickly,” the captain finished, “for all of our sakes. Enterprise out.”
The image on her screen dissolved back into static, then darkness. The adjutant, confused and scared, tried to avoid staring at her but couldn’t help himself, his eyes pleading with her in sideways glances: What’s going on here? What does this all mean?
If he knew the full truth, even as Darelian understood it…
The prime minister squeezed her eyes shut. The rest of the world, however, refused to go away so easily.
“Leave me,” she ordered.
The adjutant left without a sound. The waited for the door to close behind him before opening her eyes again, afraid of what she would see when she did. Already, she felt the change manifesting itself inside, clawing its way up from the abyss. Trembling, holding her hands up in front of her face, she also saw it going to work on the surface. Beneath her skin, it moved in waves and ripples, light without heat, begging for release.
“No,” Darelian spoke as a mantra. “Not yet.”
Subsiding, the change retreated. For now.
Drawing a breath, slid over to the communications console and laid those same hands on the control panel. It responded to her touch, accepting the code she entered and engaging a hidden subsystem. For the next several seconds, it routed a stealth hyperband signal through the city’s various networks—a convoluted path that no computer could trace, no receiver could intercept. When it terminated, the console screen came alive with a single word:
Praying, she beamed the signal into orbit, where Dauntless waited.
“Captain,” Lieutenant Worf said, making no effort to conceal his admiration, “that was a very wicked thing you did.”
“Thank Counselor Troi,” Picard replied tiredly, amazed at how well she had sold the story—considering that he had more or less made it up on the spot. Turning toward her, he noted the mischievous grin that touched her lips. “I especially liked the medical spin you tacked on at the end. Is any of that even remotely true?”
“You’re better off not knowing,” Troi replied, then switched to a more serious mode. “You do realize what you’ve done, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Picard said, returning to his chair. “If Darelian is true to form, she’ll do whatever it takes to confirm our ‘findings.’ The difference is that this time, we’ll be there to watch her every move.”
“Interesting,” Data observed. “So this deception is meant to draw her out.”
“As a student of poker, you should recognize the play,” the captain told him. “Sometimes you need to raise the stakes to get a feel for your opponent’s cards.”
“Assuming one has a viable hand,” the android pointed out. “Ours, unfortunately, is rather weak.”
“Darelian doesn’t know that.”
“She will figure it out,” Troi reminded him. “It’s only a matter of time.”
Picard had already considered that—not to mention what would happen if he got caught. Carlton Morrow’s protection only went so far. If Picard were lucky, his command would be the only thing he lost.
“Let’s just hope it’s time enough,” he said.
Quintax paced back and forth, alone in the control center. He had ordered Long Range Detection and Relay shut down and sealed when Dauntless abandoned her patrol route, the better to prevent some junior office from coming across a stray signal that might compromise her real mission. Now, it served as a his retreat—the only place where he could allow his rage and fear to show, among the rows of darkened computer consoles and the chairs that sat empty before them. Shaking his head over and over, Quintax still couldn’t believe it had come to this. Now all he could do was wait for the one active monitor to awaken, and confirm the horrible truth as he already knew it.
The incoming signal announced itself as a shrill alert. Quintax killed the sound by slamming a fist on the console, almost hard enough to shatter the interface. Then Darelian appeared on the screen, a low-res image ingrained with pixel dust, breaking down and reassembling itself under a constant flux of shifting encryption algorithms.
A ghost of herself. Unreal.
Quintax couldn’t help but think it was more than just a bad transmission.
“We had an agreement,” he said. “Dalton was not to be touched.”
“I agreed to no such thing,” Darelian snarled back, her voice sounding like it came from inside his own head. “You gave an order and just assumed I would follow it.”
“I was trying to keep things under control!”
“You refused to take action.”
“Is that what you call this?” Quintax blurted. “I saw your cover story, Darelian. Even if by some miracle you get the president on board with it, the Federation Council will demand a full investigation—and you’ve got plenty of enemies there who wouldn’t mind seeing you fall.”
“Let them play their games,” Darelian scoffed. “We have much more at stake.”
Quintax frowned, a quantum of panic metastasizing within.
“What do you mean?”
“I just spoke with Picard,” she said, assuming a calm that chilled him to the bone. “His counselor claims to have proof of Dalton’s findings at Castis Minor.”
Stunned, Quintax felt around for the nearest chair and sank into it.
“Maybe,” Darelian replied, “but I can’t afford to take that chance.”
A hundred possibilities crossed Quintax’s mind in the space of a second, none of them good. Even worse, Darelian’s tone made it abundantly clear what she had in mind—and that she meant to follow through, consequences be damned.
“Forget it,” he said. “You make a move on Troi and Picard will never let it go.”
“I’m well aware of that.”
“Then what’s your point?”
“I need to know if Picard has spoken to anyone at Starfleet about this.”
Quintax blinked, wondering where she was headed.
“No,” he answered suspiciously. “My people have been monitoring all of Enterprise’s communications. If she’d sent any message of that sort, I would have known immediately.”
“Good. Then it’s no too late.”
“Too late for what?”
“To finish this once and for all.”
Quintax recoiled slightly, as if staring into the face of the devil.
“Enterprise must be destroyed.”
Quintax shook his head, trying to convince himself that he hadn’t heard it, even as the words ricocheted around inside his skull. And as they gathered momentum, crowding out all other thoughts, the voice seemed to change—growing louder and deeper, until it didn’t sound like Darelian at all.
It sounded like Terrence Blake.
Zeus, thy will be done.
“You said it yourself, Steven,” Darelian continued. “I cannot simply kill the Betazoid counselor. Picard would not rest until he had his revenge. But with him gone—with all of them gone—we can finally put this to rest.”
Still shaking his head, Quintax muttered: “There must be another way.”
“Think about it, Steven. You know I’m right.”
Her logic was brutal, cold-blooded—but absolutely irrefutable. Quintax felt it working on him, insinuating itself in him, where it went to work on his memories and brought back the battle at Wolf. Standing on Amster’s bridge next to his captain, he had watched Blake throw one starship after another at the Borg juggernaut, summoning death on a scale so vast it seemed that he could hear the screams of the fallen across the vacuum of space—and yet Blake had never wavered.
Casualties of war, he had said. The price of victory.
Quintax squeezed his hands into fists, fingernails drawing blood. He knew that if he refused, Darelian would go over his head and straight to Blake. He also knew that Blake would agree with her—but only after putting Quintax in his place, as he had so many times before, disgusted with his cowardice. Of all things, Quintax hated that the most. He wasn’t about to go through that again.
So when he finally relaxed, and faced Darelian, he was ready to deal.
“What’s your plan?” he asked.
“One of my agents will carry out the operation,” Darelian said. “The same one you met before. He is fully briefed and ready to commence at once.”
Quintax remembered the Ponsak, shuddering at the thought of that monster prowling the decks of his ship. If anyone could take Enterprise down, it was him—but it wouldn’t be easy, and it sure as hell wouldn’t be clean. If they came at this thing the right way, though, there was a chance they could make it work.
“I have an idea,” Quintax said. “A way to make it look like an accident.”
Darelian was intrigued.
“Just send your man aboard,” he told her. “I have a package for him.”