Hello all – my usual procrastination here has been exacerbated by the fact I was out of town (in N. Minnesota) all last week for a much needed change of scenery (and some good fishing!). It wasn’t all unproductive though – I took a notebook and pen with me and managed to really make some headway on my latest project (‘Ships of the Starfleet: 2300 – 2365’). I still have 2 ships (Cheyenne and Olympic) that I have to do completely from scratch though unfortunately. Despite RL stuff that continues to press me, am definitely going to try and redouble my efforts here!
The other big project I have going though, is an update to my own Timeline–stretching from the end of the Dominion War in 2376 all the way up to the present day in which this blog is set, 2414. One big influence on that is TrekLit–it would be virtually impossible (or at least take much, much longer) for me to make substantive progress if I didn’t lean on those works and adapt some of their ideas/facts etc here and there. Accordingly, while I work on my latest SoTSF project, I wanted to give an update and my thoughts about the latest two novels–Plagues of Night (released 5/29) and Raise the Dawn (released 6/26).
**SPOILER WARNING** If you haven’t read either of the two books, or do not want to otherwise have their details divulged, stop now!
The cold war between the Federation Alliance (the ‘Khitomer Accords’ or the ‘Khitomer Accord powers’) and the Typhon Pact rages on. The full impact of Andor’s succession from the UFP (mentioned in Paths of Disharmony) has yet to be felt (though it will play a role in the next Titan novel – Fallen Gods). Quantum Slipstream, a form of propulsion that will allow ships to reach distant corners of the galaxy once thought to be unreachable, is still viewed with extreme suspicion by the powers of the Pact–who view it not as a tool of exploration, but as a tool of war–a ‘first strike’ weapon. With the powers of the pact (Tholians/Tzenkethi/Breen/Gorn/Kinshaya) being xenophobic and hostile to the UFP & its allies to some degree or another, their possession of such technology is naturally viewed with great concern in the halls of the Palais de Concorde–something that, for now, cannot be allowed.
Thus, the primary conflict of these two novels is the search for an ‘equalizer’ by the Typhon Pact. Enter Sela & Tomolak. Two of the most treacherous Romulans currently living, it is revealed in Plagues of Night, that they & their various lackeys were behind the attack on and theft of technical data from Starfleet’s Utopia Planitia Shipyards (first referenced in Zero Sum Game). The Breen (I think?) have finally discovered a way to adapt Quantum Slipstream to the various vessels of the pact…….but to do so, they’ll need to make use of Dominion technology.
The UFP decides to extend an olive branch and establish a sort of ‘detente’ and so, among other things, a joint exploratory mission into the Gamma Quadrant is sponsored. With the Enterprise representing the Federation Alliance and a Romulan Warbird representing the Pact, all seems to go well at first. The presence of Tomolak though is a clear sign all is not as it seems. The crew of the warbird deploy a cloaked comm buoy at the Gamma Quadrant terminus of the wormhole, blocking communications, and fake their own destruction, confusing the Enterprise and providing the cover they and the crew of a Breen freighter need, to escape. Proceeding to a Dominion planet, they raid a factory which had long since been shut down and steal the needed equipment.
Providing insurance are cloaked Tzenkethi & Breen ships not far from Deep Space Nine and the presence of bombs on the station itself–intended to disable them only. However, the plan goes awry when the Defiant detects the warbird following the freighter exiting the wormhole. The Tzenkethi & Breen decloak and commence their attack on the station, attempting to help the freighter escape. The bombs are triggered in the ensuing melee, oblitteratng the station, while the Defiant and the USS Robinson (Sisko’s new Galaxy class command) drive off or otherwise destroy the attackers. For a short while, Sisko believes his wife and daughter dead–but they and the bulk of DS9’s command staff survive among the wreckage.
The aftermath sees DS9’s crew relocate to Bajor and take over an old subterranean command center as both A) they hunt for the perpetrators responsible and B) a new station is constructed. This plot thread eventually reveals Section 31 to be involved–though to what extent is never made crystal clear. For a time, Sarina Douglas is held in connection with the planting of the bombs aboard DS9, but she is later exonerated (presumably) after Dr. Bashir outs disillusioned Andorian crewman Rahendervakell th’Shant.
Another plot thread, predominantly developed in Raise the Dawn, takes place on Romulus and involves the new praetor–politically moderate Gell Kamemor–desperately working to find out who is behind all of this. Deductive reasoning leads her to Sela and she becomes slowly aware of Tomolak’s complicity. Enlisting the help of her Navy CO (whom she briefly deposed following the attack at Utopia Planitia), she goes to Earth herself and interrogates Tomolak–tricking him into giving up Sela and divulging the remainder of their plans. Sela herself is subsequently deposed–rather than face extradition to Earth into the hands of Starfleet, she commits ritual suicide in her cell.
The shadowy terrorists she was using are discovered, their gains nullified—though at the cost of the Bajoran Wormhole being permanently closed (at least for the time being) and the death of Kira Nerys.
Sisko meanwhile, gets his life back. Kira, now ascended to the plane of the prophets(?), informs him that his season as the emissary has come to an end and he can remain with Kassidy (his wife, whom he was going to divorce based on an earlier vision they had given him).
What do I think about all this? Well the destruction of DS9 is obviously a major issue–without the presence of bombs in the fusion core–the station should’ve been more than capable of taking care of 3-4 ships. Their presence though, help to highlight the rise of terrorism as a plot device, with the Treishya and the True Way–a similar Cardassian group–being two of the key players. Going forward, I think terrorism & Section 31 will likely see more attention. A major war is not something anyone wants and is acknowledged by a few of the characters as being something the Federation and its allies would likely win.
The closure of the wormhole though is a bigger issue. If it stays closed and doesn’t reopen, then Quantum Slipstream would seem to be the only way for starships to reach the Gamma Quadrant, though as mentioned in Raise the Dawn, it has yet to be widely installed throughout the fleet. This is something I think will eventually have to be addressed as there is only so much you can do from the larger ‘cold war’, UFP vs. Typhon Pact perspective.
Kira’s death really didn’t hit me as hard as it might have. She had given up her position on DS9 and became a vedek on Bajor, kind of slipping into obscurity somewhat. Additionally, both Nog and Miles O’Brien make their return–as part of DS9’s reconstituted engineering staff–so this helps to balance things out.
The drama with Sisko & his wife was handled well–having his family with him aboard the Robinson also presents some interesting (though well-worn) possibilities.
They’re only about 4 years from catching up to the time where Romulus is destroyed (2387) though……