THE YEAR IS 2311
It is a year of infamy, a year that later generations will remember as one that altered the course of history at the cost of thousands of lives. It is the year of the Tomed Incident, and its tale can at last be told.
In the midst of escalating political tensions among the Klingons, the Romulans, and the Federation, Starfleet goes forward with the inaugural flight of Universe, a prototype starship that promises to revolutionize space exploration. But the Universe experiment results in disaster, ravaging a region of space dangerously close to the Romulan Star Empire, apparently confirming suspicions that the Federation has begun testing a weapon of mass destruction.
As the military buildup accelerates on both sides of the Neutral Zone, Captain John Harriman of the Federation flagship U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-B is fated for a final confrontation with his oldest enemy at a flashpoint in history -- with the Beta Quadrant one wrong move from the outbreak of total war.
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Pocket Books/Star Trek
December 31, 2002
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III
The asteroid hung in space like an afterthought, a barren, craggy rock the universe seemed to have flung together for no particular purpose. Foxtrot XIII, irregularly but unremarkably shaped, bore no conspicuous variations from any of its dozen namesakes. Less than five hundred kilometers along its greatest dimension, it appeared lifeless and alone against the glittering backdrop of stars.
No, not alone, Lieutenant Commander Rafaele Buonarroti saw as he peered at a monitor in one of Enterprise's cargo holds. On the small viewscreen, a gleam of light had emerged from beyond the asteroid, a distinctive gray-white shape. Enterprise had been scheduled to rendezvous here with Agamemnon, but Buonarroti would have immediately identified the ship -- or at least its class -- anyway. The curved engine nacelles of the Odysseus vessels represented an experimental Starfleet design three decades old -- a design that, while functional, had been abandoned when theorized efficiencies in warp-field generation had never materialized. Only two of the eight ships built remained in active service, and Buonarroti had heard recent talk that Agamemnon itself might soon be decommissioned. For now, though, the old vessel kept company with the dun, seemingly empty asteroid.
Seemingly empty, Buonarroti knew, but not actually empty.
Beside him, Captain Harriman reached down and pressed a touchpad on the detached console into which the monitor was set. The image shifted, bringing Foxtrot XIII and Agamemnon closer. The old ship measured only about two-thirds as long as Enterprise, Buonarroti recalled from the specs, and carried a corresponding crew complement of approximately five hundred. But despite its smaller size and the still-ultramodern appearance of its bowed nacelles, Agamemnon looked bulky and boxy to him, particularly when compared with the sleek, streamlined form of Enterprise.
"Are we ready to go once we're in range, Rafe " the captain asked, pronouncing Buonarroti's nickname with a short a and long e: Rah-fee. The two men stood on the other side of the console from the expansive square stage of a cargo transporter. Buonarroti looked up from the monitor and over at Harriman before responding.
"Yes, we're all set, Captain," he said, then peered around at the cargo that Enterprise had hauled here from Space Station KR-3. Throughout the hold, outsized metal containers of various shapes had been stacked high. Security mechanisms, a trio of green lights glowing steadily on each, had been affixed to all of the containers. One light indicated an engaged magnetic lock, the others the active states of sensor and transporter inhibitors. If any cloaked Romulan vessels penetrated the nearby Neutral Zone to gather intelligence -- and Starfleet Command believed such reconnaissance to be commonplace these days -- then their crews would be able neither to scan the contents of the containers nor to transport them away; the inhibitors obstructed sensors and prevented the containers from being beamed from anywhere but directly atop a transporter pad. "I've already received the coordinates from the outpost," Buonarroti told Harriman, "and I've modified the transporter protocols not to record the details of what we beam down." He paused, then added, "La lotta continua."