Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Lost Era: The Buried Age : The Next Generation: The Buried Age
Jean-Luc Picard. His name has gone down in legend as the captain of the U.S.S. Stargazer and two starships Enterprise. But the nine years of his life leading up to the inaugural mission of the U.S.S. EnterpriseTM to Farpoint Station have remained a mystery -- until now, as Picard's lost era is finally unearthed.
Following the loss of the Stargazer and the brutal court-martial that resulted, Picard no longer sees a future for himself in Starfleet. Turning to his other love, archaeology, he embarks on a quest to rediscover a buried age of ancient galactic history...and awakens a living survivor of that era: a striking, mysterious woman frozen in time since before the rise of Earth's dinosaurs. But this powerful immortal has a secret of cataclysmic proportions, and her plans will take Picard -- aided along the way by a brilliant but naive android, an insightful Betazoid, and an enigmatic El-Aurian -- to the heights of passion, the depths of betrayal, and the farthest reaches of explored space.
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Pocket Books/Star Trek
June 25, 2007
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Excerpt from Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Lost Era: The Buried Age by Christopher L. Bennett
DaiMon Flax had hit the jackpot.
Each new mineralogy report bore it out further. The planets and moons of this system were richly endowed with dilithium, latinum, verterium, topaline, and other rare and precious minerals in abundant quantities. All just sitting there waiting for the Ferengi to claim it, since this system had no pesky inhabitants to argue ownership or resist strip-mining operations.
This was the kind of haul that Ferengi dreams were made of, and Flax had come across it on his very first voyage as DaiMon. It boggled the mind. His father, Bok, had spared no expense in ensuring that his beloved son could follow in his footsteps -- not only paving his path to DaiMonship with lucrative bribes in all the right palms, but hiring the most expensive tutors and driving Flax hard to ensure his skills were worthy of the position thus purchased. And that position was a prestigious one: commander of the Raider-class starship Seventy-Fifth Rule, a compact but high-powered scout designed to be at the vanguard of commercial expansion, racing far beyond known space to seek out new wealth and new opportunities and to claim them for his own -- and for the greater glory of the Ferengi Alliance, by means of the sizable percentages which the Grand Nagus and the GuiMon in Chief demanded from every DaiMon's claims.
But even Bok had never expected that his son would make such a valuable strike so early in his career. This is leverage, he told himself. This kind of luck suggested that the Great River was flowing in his favor, and if he played his hand deftly, he could impress the Nagus and GuiMon enough to stand up to them and negotiate a larger share of the system's wealth.
Careful, he told himself, recalling the Forty-third Rule of Acquisition: "Feed your greed, but not enough to choke it." He could negotiate for more, yes, but if he demanded too much, the Nagus would see him as ungrateful and disrespectful, and that would hurt his chances for profit in the long run. Besides, this system was a big enough prize that even a fledgling DaiMon's share would make him rich.
Yes, the River is generous, Flax reflected, taking a moment to consider the larger picture. Even Ferenginar's best-paid scientists were still hard-pressed to explain how exotic compounds like dilithium and duranium could form naturally, and yet such valuable substances could nonetheless be found in the mineral strata of many worlds. Flax took it as proof that the River was flowing beneath the surface of things, creating wealth and depositing it where Ferengi could make the best use of it. In this case, where Flax could make the best use of it. Maybe it was arrogant to think of the River choosing to provide for him personally. But other Ferengi had been endowed with legendary luck over the ages, and if this find didn't prove that Flax was one of those blessed ones, it was at least evidence that he could be.
A proximity alert sounded, jarring Flax out of his reverie. "DaiMon!" reported tactical officer Gorp. "Our remote probes are detecting an unidentified vessel approaching the system at warp!"
"On viewer!" Flax cursed himself for his complacency, even while commending himself for the decision to send out the sensor drones (well, actually it had been on science officer Mench's initiative, but since Mench was on Flax's payroll, that made it his idea by the Twenty-fifth Rule). Right now the ship was conducting a mineralogical assay of a deep impact crater on a moon of the system's giant fifth planet, and the kelbonite and other minerals that permeated the crust were interfering with sensors. The drones had been launched to speed the survey of the system's planets, but they also served as sensor and communication relays, compensating for the ship's current blindness.
Indeed, Flax realized that they gave him an advantage over this potential claim-jumper: he could see them, but if his luck held, they hadn't seen him yet. And hopefully not the drones either. "Shut down all thrusters on the drones. Communication on tight-beam only. Gorp, can you identify the intruder?"
"I don't recognize the warp signature, DaiMon." Gorp paused. "However, I could run it through the database for a match..."
Flax grinned at his subordinate's initiative. In an imminent crisis, military crews had no time for negotiation and had to follow their DaiMon's orders without question. But at the moment, the crisis was just imminent enough to give Gorp leverage while not yet so imminent that his delay posed a danger. "Five slips if you do."
"Seven." Don't push it, his tone said.
"Done." As Gorp worked his console's interface hemisphere to run the search, Flax did the same with the smaller globe on his command chair's arm, appending the seven-slip bonus to Gorp's pay for the