Far from the reaches of the Federation, the Starship Enterprise has been guiding the development of a once obscure planet upon whose fate the future of the galaxy may now depend. The Enterprise has been the sole representative of the Federation, fighting a constant battle to protect the colonists from enemy aliens and standing alone against all those who have their own designs on the colony world.
But all adventure come to an end. It is time for Captain Kirk and the Enterprise to turn over the guardianship of the colony to another ship and crew. The new ship arrives in the midst of a deadly attack on the colony -- and is destroyed. With the Enterprise off fighting a new and powerful enemy that threatens the colony as well as its enemies, Commander Nick Keller, first officer and ranking survivor of the decimated crew, is marooned and at first alone -- but he must find a way to complete his original mission and come to the aid of the Enterprise in what might be its most desperate hour.
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Pocket Books/Star Trek
August 01, 2000
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Challenger by Diane Carey
"How could threat vessels get so close without tripping our sensors?"
"What do you expect from me? Look at the monitors. Completely gamma-seized."
"Then we better saddle up and learn to ride blind."
The sci-deck of Starfleet Cruiser Peleliu stank and smoldered. Part of the carpet was on fire, but nobody was bothering with it. Hot damage crawled like parasites through the mechanics under the sensor boards' tripolymer skin. Burst connections caused tiny volcanoes of acid in ripped-open sheeting. A third of the pressure pads and readouts had quit working or were crying for damage control.
Nick Keller swiped his uniform's dirty sleeve across his forehead, bent over the sensor boards, and tried to focus his stinging eyes. A fleck of insulation hung from a wing of his briar-patch-brown hair and blocked part of his view. For an hour they'd fielded attacks from enemies they couldn't see, couldn't target, and hadn't expected. How had any hostiles known they were on their way out to Belle Terre? Or was this some new enemy that nobody in Starfleet or out at the colony even knew about yet?
The question went unanswered. Sensors couldn't see through the bath of gamma radiation spewed by a pulsing neutron star so far away that even working long-range sensors wouldn't have picked it up.
Beside him, Tim McAddis dribbled sweat from his pale forehead onto the sensor dials. His blond hair glistened with a frost of perspiration. "I'm used to seeing things a solar system away, not a lousy five hundred yards. Now that our deflectors are on full, we can't even pick up phantom data like before."
It was a hard thing for a science officer to admit.
Keller pressed a hand to McAddis's hunched shoulder. "Look at the bright side. You'll get the blame instead of me."
McAddis grinned nervously. "The mighty second mate stands defiant."
A knock on the cold-molded lattice grid near his knee got Keller's attention. He found the first officer's reassuring face peering up from the command deck seven feet below, through the lattice fence that prevented crewmen or tools from falling under the sci-deck rail. "What've you two got up there? How'd they come up on us?"