Genesis Wave: Book Two (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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9780743411837: Genesis Wave: Book Two (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
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Like an unstoppable cosmic storm, the dreaded Genesis Wave sweeps across the Alpha Quadrant, transforming planets on a molecular level and threatening entire civilizations with extinction.
To combat the rushing terror of the wave, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise have been forced into a tense alliance with the Klingon and Romulan Empires, both of which crave the forbidden secrets of the Genesis technology for themselves. Now the finest minds of three civilizations must race against time to find some way to halt the deadly wave before yet another world is transformed into something alien and unrecognizable....
The bestselling saga continues!

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About the Author:

John Vornholt is the author of is the author of two of the New York Times bestselling Star Trek: The Next Generation Dominion War books, the successful two-book Star Trek: The Next Generation series Gemworld, Genesis Wave Book One, and several other Star Trek novels, including Quarantine, Antimatter, Sanctuary, Rogue Saucer and Mind Meld.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Geordi La Forge had never before doubted the information his ocular implants imparted to his mind, but he could barely grasp the vivid spectrums and soaring electromagnetic pulses surging across the plains of Myrmidon. He staggered to remain on his feet in the fierce wind, which the phase-shifting did nothing to stop. The air smelled like tar, and his thumping heart told him this was not a sight that anyone should expect to see...and live.

Worriedly, Geordi laid hands upon the two interphase generators, each standing about two meters high, buttressed by struts and platforms. Only their phase-shifted field prevented the fifty thousand souls in the dry river bed from perishing in the holocaust.

Experienced at close range, the Genesis Wave was even more spectacular than he had been led to believe. Like a wildfire set loose in a parched forest, it ripped apart all molecules in its path and recombined them on the fly -- only it moved with incredible speed. Instead of leaving spent ashes, the wave left a throbbing quagmire of new life, exploding into existence with barbarous fury. Just outside their field of protection, geysers spewed and mountains dissolved in the bubbling, churning morass. The horizon was undulating like a sine wave, and people and animals were mewling with fear all around him.

Without warning, the earth heaved under Geordi's feet, and the sand swiftly dissolved into a thick liquid. His first terrified reaction was that the Genesis Effect had reached them through the ground. But when the human didn't melt into a puddle, he figured it was liquefaction of the soil. Knowing the dissolving sand was a side effect didn't make it any less horrifying. Geordi felt as if he were slogging through molasses. He lunged for the generators and the gel packs, but the heavy equipment was also shifting and sinking into the muck. La Forge squirmed to his knees and dug a shoulder into a tilting strut to keep it level.

Now panic gripped scores of frightened Bolians in the riverbed, and many of their animals bolted into oblivion. Shrieking and wailing, the inhabitants lurched past him, hardly caring that they were all going to die if sand clogged the generators. La Forge grabbed an armful of gel packs and tried to keep them from sinking out of sight while he strained to hold the rack upright. When a distraught Bolian collided with him, knocking him into the sand, Geordi felt himself slipping downward. He rolled onto his stomach and swam over the moist sand to the generators, which he grabbed like a drowning man.

La Forge lifted his head and looked for his fallen comrades -- Admiral Nechayev and Dolores Linton -- but he could barely trust his vision. In every direction, there was nothing but turmoil. Despite the sensory overload, he tried to tell himself that only a few seconds had passed, and the worst of it would only last a few minutes. He would have to be patient and stay at his post with the generators, now half sunken into the sand. If the phase-shifting failed, nothing could keep them safe from the staggering forces reworking the planet.

As he hunkered down, Geordi tried to remember the strange events that had occurred just before the wave hit. Explosions had ripped through the riverbed, and they hadn't seemed accidental or part of the Genesis Effect. Geordi had seen concentrated flashes that had looked like beamed weapons to him. In the melee, Admiral Nechayev and Dolores Linton had both fallen. He had seen them on the ground, but he had stayed at his post, ignoring their plight.

Was it self-preservation, a sense of duty, or fear that kept me from helping them? he wondered. A howling gust of foul-smelling wind forced him to hunker down, and he tried not to be too hard on himself. He was in the middle of a world that was hemorrhaging and birthing at the same time, and the lives of a few carbon-based animals seemed to pale beside these momentous changes.

With a groan, the ground shuddered and then seemed to solidify -- either that, or he and the equipment had sunk down to more solid rock. Maybe the effect was beginning to lessen, he thought with hope. Geordi looked up to see that some of the panicked inhabitants had stopped their mad flight, but many others had lost their minds entirely. In the distance, one Bolian dashed outside the protective field and dissolved like a swarm of bees breaking apart.

But most of the survivors realized that there was nowhere to run. They huddled in small groups, curled protectively over the wounded. He still couldn't see either Nechayev or Linton, but he mustered some hope that they would live long enough for him to get help.

Help? he thought derisively. Where? How? Even if they lived through this initial phase, Myrmidon's civilization had been reduced beyond rubble to nonexistence. The churning sludge bore new life writhing in its depths, but it bore no resemblance to the sacred planet which had existed here before. All of its people's efforts paled in comparison with the throes of Myrmidon in its destruction and rebirth. He didn't want to watch the carnage, feeling shame and helplessness, but he couldn't tear his gaze away.

We should have done better for these people than this! he thought miserably. This isn't survival -- it's insanity.

After a few moments, he found himself appreciating the fractured kaleidoscope in the sky, but the more he saw, the sadder he became. Although it looked as if much of the populace would survive, how could they live in this hellish place? It didn't seem possible that Myrmidon would ever revert to normal, although the spirit of a proud people like the Bolians would account for a lot. They had lived, but for what purpose?

La Forge fumbled in his belt for his tricorder, thinking that it should be safe to move around soon. If the effect was beginning to ebb, or at least enter its sustainable mode, he wanted to be ready. With reluctance, he tore his attention away from the swirling sky and writhing landscape to concentrate on his readings. The effect was lessening, but it was still too complex for the tricorder to register at all levels.

Although Project Genesis had been named for the first chapter of the Bible, this version reminded him more of the last chapter, Revelations -- when the world was torn asunder in a great cataclysm...and the dead rose from their graves.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard rushed down the corridor leading to Transporter Room One, where Beverly Crusher and the crew of the Neptune were under arrest. At least he hoped they were under arrest, because their actions and treachery had endangered the entire operation on Myrmidon. The Enterprise had barely escaped from the Genesis Wave, because they'd been forced to disable the rogue ship. Even so, several installations on the ground had been severely damaged, and there was no telling how many lives had been lost because of the unexpected friendly fire.

The captain was hoping there would be a logical explanation, but he couldn't imagine what that could possibly be. At first, he feared the attack might have something to do with the Bolians' predilection for suicide, but there were no Bolians among the skeleton crew on the Neptune. No matter how he looked at it, the Neptune's actions made absolutely no sense, especially coming from the one person he trusted most -- Beverly Crusher.

Taking a deep breath, Captain Picard charged into the transporter room, ready to confront just about anything. The first thing he saw was a phalanx of Starfleet security officers; their broad backs were toward him as they faced the transporter platform. Their weapons were lowered, and they didn't seem unduly concerned.

Upon seeing the captain, the security detail opened a path for him, and he caught a glimpse of a shimmering force field stretched across the transporter platform. Stepping closer, Picard saw Nurse Ogawa and a medical team poised for action just outside the force field. He still hadn't seen anyone from the Neptune, but Ogawa's worried eyes told him where they were. Piled haphazardly like a collection of discarded dolls, Crusher and seven others lay sprawled across the transporter platform.

"Are they dead?" he asked, trying to mask his alarm with a calm tone of voice.

"No, it's like they're in a coma...and not breathing well." Ogawa consulted her tricorder, and Picard took a closer look at the distressed crew members. Now he could see them squirming weakly, gasping for breath even as they remained in a deathlike trance.

He looked at Ogawa, who shook her head worriedly. "They're alive, but they're dying of asphyxiation. Their lungs seem to be paralyzed. Please, Captain, won't you allow us to help them?"

Worf wasn't aboard the Enterprise anymore, but Picard could hear the Klingon warning him about quarantine procedures. He also knew that Beverly Crusher -- the woman who meant more to him than any other -- was curled in a fetal position, looking like she was on the brink of death. He would just have to count on the biofilters in the transporters to do their job.

"Lower the force field," ordered the captain, "and get them to sickbay. Let's station security in sickbay until we get an explanation."

"I don't think they'll be any threat," replied Ogawa dryly. She rushed forward with the rest of the medteam, and they quickly applied oxygen and hypos to the sick prisoners. Within a few seconds, all of them were on portable ventilators.

The captain tapped his combadge. "Picard to Riker."

"Riker here," came the response.

"I need you on the bridge," said Picard, "while I monitor the situation in Transporter Room One. How are Counselor Troi and the Bolian girl?"

"Fine. I just dropped them off at sickbay. Deanna has a concussion, but she'll be okay. I'm on my way to the bridge."

"Thank you, Number One. Picard out."

When the antigrav gurneys and more medical personnel arrived, the captain just stood out of the way with the security officers until the patients were ready to be moved. As Ogawa guided Crusher's floating gurney toward the door, the captain caught up with her.

"How does it look?" he asked hoarsely, gazing at Beverly's face, which was obscured by a respirator.

"We've stabilized them," said Ogawa, "but she's barely able to breathe on her own. Until we do complete scans, we can't say what's wrong with them. The catatonic state looks bad, but we can deal with that. I don't like their labored breathing."

The nurse brushed past him and out the door, leaving Picard in her wake, helpless to do anything more for Beverly. The condition of the skeleton crew was frightening enough, but it raised a disturbing question: How could they have flown the ship and fired weapons in that physical condition? The Neptune had been a ghost ship when it arrived, and it had gone down in flames, still a ghost ship.

He tapped his combadge. "Picard to bridge."

"Yes, Captain," answered Commander Riker.

"What's our status?"

"We're on course to the rendezvous," answered the first officer, "and our ETA is in four hours. Starfleet is calling the Myrmidon operation a qualified success, although there's been no word from anyone on the planet. That won't be possible for at least half an hour."

"I'll be in sickbay," said Picard. "The Neptune crew came aboard in poor health -- comatose, having trouble breathing."

"How's that possible?" asked Riker.

"I don't know, but I intend to find out. In fact, have Data review the logs of our final encounter with the Neptune. Tell him to look at everything -- we might have missed something while it was happening."

"We'll get right on it," promised Riker. "Will they...recover?"

"We don't know enough about their condition." The captain watched glumly as the stricken officers were pushed out on gurneys. Since the Genesis Wave appeared, there were always new questions, but never any answers.

His legs churning through the gritty mire, Geordi La Forge threw himself onto the rack of equipment and pushed for all he was worth. Although the dry riverbed had stopped liquefying, it was still treacherous. The interphase generators lay half-buried in the grime at a dangerously tilted angle, and some of the gel packs were covered. He was afraid the delicate machines would give out at any moment.

With a glance at the horizon, La Forge could see that the Genesis Effect was lessening, or moving into another phase. Instead of undulating and mutating, the landscape was now blossoming with misshapen trees, thick hedges, and ruby-red flowers. Overgrown stands of gnarled trees sprouted like weeds across the horizon, probably fed by water in the liquefied soil.

The winds remained ferocious, whipping at the new flora like a hurricane, and the skies continued to ripple with unbridled power. Geordi began to shiver as he glimpsed snow flurries at the edge of their protective field. The survivors were relatively calm now, huddling together, shivering and staring in amazement at the evolving landscape.

With a grunt, La Forge returned to the task of pushing the main generator into a more upright position. But now the sand had coagulated around the buried struts, and the going was tougher than ever. Geordi was weakened already from his efforts, and all he got for his strained muscles was more futility.

A figure suddenly fell in beside him, also pushing and grunting against the tilted generator. With a grinding noise, the platform actually moved, and Geordi peered at his mysterious helper, who was covered with grime.

"Dolores!" he shouted with relief.

"Don't look at me," she said jokingly. "I'm a sight."

With a dumb smile, he gazed at the muscular young geologist, thinking she looked great, even though there was blood on her forehead and scratches all over one side of her body.

"I have a mild concussion, which I deserve," she grumbled. "I figured there would be a little liquefaction in the riverbed, but this whole thing is...beyond what I envisioned."

"It sure is!" agreed Geordi, shouting into a gust of wind. "Where's Admiral Nechayev?"

Dolores gulped and glanced over her shoulder at the huddled masses. "She's out there somewhere, but she's hurt badly. They found her a Bolian doctor. I couldn't help her. What was the deal with all those explosions?"

La Forge squinted at the swirling khaki sky. "From where I stood, it looked like an attack -- a strafing run with phasers. But I can't say for sure. I'm glad you're here, so you can watch the generators while I take some readings."

"How much time is left?" she asked worriedly. "I mean, before the worst of it is over?"

"I'll try to find out." La Forge opened his tricorder, thinking that it was impossible to guess how much time had passed. With a whole world evolving from primordial ooze right before their eyes, it seemed like eons. But it had probably been only a few minutes.

He checked his tricorder and saw that almost six minutes had passed, which was something of a relief. "We're well past the halfway point."

The engineer turned and surveyed the blooming forest, then he looked helplessly at his tricorder. "These readings don't tell me much -- just a lot of numbers that don't make sense. If I didn't have to stay with the generators, I'd like to chuck a rock outside the phase-shifting field to see what happens to it."

"I can do that," replied the geologist with a smile. "You stay here and watch your boxes, and I'll go to the edge."

"Not too close," warned Geordi. "Take a tricorder and don't get any closer to the edge than ten meters. Will that get you close enough?"

Dolore...

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