Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic (Star Trek: Enterprise)

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9781476779119: Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic (Star Trek: Enterprise)
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An original novel continuing the saga of the TV series Star Trek: Enterprise—featuring Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the Enterprise!

Years ago, Jonathan Archer and T’Pol helped unearth the true writings of Vulcan’s great philosopher Surak, bringing forth a new era of peaceful reform on Vulcan. But when their discovery is seemingly proven to be a fraud, the scandal threatens to undo a decade of progress and return power to the old, warlike regime. Admiral Archer, Captain T’Pol, and the crew of the U.S.S. Endeavour investigate with help from their Vulcan allies, but none of them suspect the identity of the real mastermind behind the conspiracy to reconquer Vulcan—or the price they will have to pay to discover the truth.

Meanwhile, when a long-forgotten technological threat re-emerges beyond the Federation’s borders, Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer attempts to track down its origins with help from his old friend “Trip” Tucker. But they discover that other civilizations are eager to exploit this dangerous power for their own benefit, even if the Federation must pay the price!

™, ®, & © 2015 CBS Studios, Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author:

Christopher L. Bennett is a lifelong resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, with bachelor’s degrees in physics and history from the University of Cincinnati. He has written such critically acclaimed Star Trek novels as Ex Machina, The Buried Age, the Titan novels Orion’s Hounds and Over a Torrent Sea, the two Department of Temporal Investigations novels Watching the Clock and Forgotten History, and the Enterprise novels Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures, Tower of BabelUncertain Logic, and Live By the Code, as well as shorter works including stories in the anniversary anthologies Constellations, The Sky’s the Limit, Prophecy and Change, and Distant Shores. Beyond Star Trek, he has penned the novels X Men: Watchers on the Walls and Spider Man: Drowned in Thunder. His original work includes the hard science fiction superhero novel Only Superhuman, as well as several novelettes in Analog and other science fiction magazines.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic

1

February 23, 2165

U.S.S. Pioneer NCC-63

“JUST LOOK AT THOSE STARS.”

Lieutenant Commander Travis Mayweather sighed in satisfaction at the sheer unfamiliarity of the star patterns outside the viewports of Pioneer’s mess hall. “Uncharted territory,” he went on. “It’s been a while.”

“Well, of course it’s been charted,” said Doctor Therese Liao from her seat across the circular table. “I mean, we can see it all from Federation space. We have telescopes. It’s not like there are any horizons to sail over out here.”

Mayweather threw the diminutive, middle-aged chief medical officer a sour look. “You know what I mean. We may know the lay of the land, but we don’t know who lives out here. We haven’t mapped the planets and systems in detail. And that’s not even counting what we might find in the dark spaces between the stars,” he went on in more dramatic tones, shifting into storytelling mode. “Rogue planets, derelict ships, subspace anomalies, you name it. Why, once on Enterprise, we were intercepted by this huge ship that swallowed us whole like a manta ray devouring its prey. Its crew turned out to be—”

“Non-corporeal ‘wisps’ who wanted to snatch your bodies. You told me that one before,” Liao interposed.

He heard the disbelief in the older woman’s tone. “This wasn’t one of my ghost stories, Therese. It’s in the logs!”

“I’ll believe that when you explain to me what creatures without bodies needed a starship for.”

“They couldn’t live in space.”

“Then how did they operate the thing?”

“I never got around to asking, okay? The point is,” he went on with a chuckle, “we’re finally out where we belong. No more experimental upgrades, no more diplomatic missions to known worlds, no more follow-ups of old pre-war surveys. Just this.”

He spread his arms to take in the vista beyond the port. This sector of the galaxy had been inaccessible to humans and their neighbors in the past, blocked by Romulan patrol fleets and Vertian experimental raids in the intervening space. But now the Romulans were confined behind the Neutral Zone and the Vertians had agreed to cease experimentation on sapient beings, enabling safe passage to the territories beyond. The members of the expansive Rigelian trading community were already clamoring to seek out commercial opportunities in the new reaches, and since Rigel was now a brand spanking new member of the United Federation of Planets, it was up to Starfleet to serve as their vanguard. Thus, Admiral Archer had assigned Pioneer to live up to its name. “Going where no man has gone before,” Mayweather finished.

Liao gave him a sidelong look. “Cochrane stole that line from Davida Rossi, you know.” She furrowed her brows. “Or was it D. F. Black? A Boomer, anyway.”

“Rossi and Black were the generation before the Boomers,” he reminded her.

“But they made us possible.”

“So did Cochrane.”

“Until he sold out the ECS and shared his Warp Five plans with UESPA instead.”

Mayweather smirked, knowing Liao wouldn’t be in Starfleet if she sincerely clung to the old rivalry between the “Space Boomers,” the generations of humans born and raised on Earth Cargo Services freighters, and the government-run United Earth Space Probe Agency—a rivalry that had only intensified when UESPA founded its Starfleet arm and brought stronger regulation to the spaces the Boomers had grown used to traversing freely. But these days, now that the spread of Warp 5 and Warp 7 engines was rapidly rendering the Boomers’ slow-paced lifestyle obsolete, more and more freighter natives were following Mayweather into Starfleet, Liao among them. Sometimes Mayweather lamented the end of that era, but he wouldn’t miss the insularity of thought that had often come with it.

“It used to be us, you know,” she went on. “We were the ones who pushed out the frontiers, made the first contacts.”

“We’re still here, Therese. And not just you and me.”

“But we’re sharing it with rock jockeys,” she said, using an old-fashioned Boomer term for planet-dwellers. “Earthers and Centaurians, even aliens now. It’s not the same.”

“It doesn’t matter who makes the discoveries,” he said, “as long as they get made.”

She threw him a sidelong look. “That attitude is why you aren’t sitting in a captain’s chair yet.”

Before he could formulate a response, the intercom sounded. “Bridge to Commander Mayweather,” came Captain Reed’s crisp, English-accented voice.

The first officer excused himself to Liao and made his way to the panel by the door, pressing the intercom button. “Mayweather here.”

“I want you on the bridge at once, Travis,” Malcolm Reed ordered. “We’ve detected an object nearby with a disturbingly familiar sensor signature.”

“Familiar how, sir?”

“I’d rather not say until we’re sure. But if it’s what I suspect . . . well, you’d better just get up here.”

*   *   *

The first glimpse of the gray-hued space station on the bridge viewscreen had been enough to confirm Malcolm Reed’s suspicions about its sensor signature. Its cylindrical spacedocks made of expandable latticework, like metallic versions of Chinese finger puzzles, were a dead giveaway. It was a sight he’d hoped never to see again, but had long expected that he might.

“Oh, hell,” breathed Travis Mayweather as soon as he emerged from the bridge turbolift. Reed could see the same instant recognition in the eyes of his handsome, dark-featured first officer—along with a touch of dread. “I hoped we’d seen the last of these things.”

Reed studied him. “So you agree it’s the same technology as the automated repair station we encountered aboard Enterprise?”

“Believe me, I’m not about to forget that station,” Mayweather replied. Reed nodded grimly. The station Pioneer now approached was larger than the one they remembered, with a more substantial, multilevel central body connecting to two stacked docking lattices on either side instead of one; but there was no mistaking the shared design lineage, not only of the docks but of the core module at the station’s heart, a sphere bisected at its equator by a seven-sided polygonal slab. Worse, one lattice was slightly distended to accommodate a ship of an unfamiliar, spindle-shaped design. Someone was docked there.

At the science station, Lieutenant Reynaldo Sangupta looked back and forth between his superior officers with curiosity on his youthful, bronze-skinned face. “Is there something the rest of us should know, sirs?”

“It was about a year into Enterprise’s mission,” Mayweather told him. “We’d just had our first encounter with the Romulans and taken heavy damage in a cloaked minefield. We were deep in unknown space, stuck at low warp and years away from a friendly port, but a passing Tellarite freighter gave us coordinates for an automated repair station.”

“Hold on, Travis,” Reed cautioned. “Right now I think it’s more urgent to tell our story to whoever’s aboard that ship.”

“Good point,” the first officer replied. “Grev, hail the alien ship.”

“Aye, sir,” affirmed the chubby-faced Tellarite at the communications station.

“Translation might be tricky,” Sangupta advised. “That ship has—wow—a hydrogen-fluorine atmosphere at a temperature of minus twenty Celsius. That’s a kind of life we’ve never encountered before, so who knows how their brains process language?”

“He’s right,” Grev said. “I’m getting a reply, but the translator’s struggling with it. It may take a few minutes for our computer and their computer to hash out a translation model together.”

“That makes sense,” Mayweather said while Grev did what he could to assist the computer. “When we first encountered the repair station, it had . . . I think it was a helium atmosphere inside, much colder than this one. But once it scanned us, it quickly adapted to Earth-like conditions.” He frowned. “All the better to bait the trap.”

At the tactical station, Lieutenant Valeria Williams looked up. “Trap, sir?” asked the auburn-haired armory officer, instantly alert.

“Captain,” Grev interposed, “I think we have a working translation now. I can give you the alien captain.”

Reed nodded and rose to greet his counterpart. “Onscreen.”

The face that appeared before him was a narrow, red-hued ovoid dominated by large, faceted eyes. A small, beakish mouth was situated midway between them, and thin breathing vents fluttered softly on either side of a slender neck. The shoulders and upper portions of four long, narrow arms were visible, two in front and two behind. “Greetings extended,” the captain said in a piping voice. “Know me as Rethne and my vessel as Velelev.”

“Our greetings as well, Captain Rethne. I’m Captain Malcolm Reed of the U.S.S. Pioneer, representing the United Federation of Planets.”

The alien tilted its head. “Unity of planets. Is this a nation’s name or simply an expression of kinship?”

Reed thought it over for a moment. “It’s the first—but we like to think it conveys the second as well.”

“Cleverly answered! We are pleasantly met. Though from our scans, it seems your atmosphere would not suit the conditions in the trading post.”

“Trading post?” The captain frowned. “So it’s not just a repair station?”

“Ah, I perceive that you have met the Ware before.”

“The Ware?”

“Automated facilities such as this,” Rethne clarified. “My people, the Menaik, have only mastered the warping of space less than my lifetime ago, but we have encountered several such stations, and met others who tell us of more. It is they who name them Ware.”

Reed and Mayweather exchanged a look. “They told you about these stations—but not about the danger?” the captain asked.

Captain Rethne leaned forward. “Danger? The Ware stations are eminently useful! Repairs, supplies, services, a haven for weary travelers, all these things they provide.”

“But at a steep price,” Mayweather put in.

The Menaik turned to face him. “Greetings extended. You also speak for Pioneer?”

“This is my first officer, Commander Travis Mayweather,” Reed explained.

“Thank you, Captain. Yes, Commander, the Ware stations drive hard bargains for their services, but they are more than worth the price.”

“The price is a lot higher than you think,” Mayweather said with feeling, stepping closer to the screen. “Tell me: Have you lost any members of your crew at one of these stations?”

Rethne’s head lowered. “On this visit, we have not. But six weeks ago, on our last visit here, a passenger went where she should not have been. Ground-dwellers do not understand the hazards of space, and sometimes make fatal errors. Still, the fault is mine for not tending my charge more carefully.”

Mayweather spoke urgently. “Captain . . . that passenger is probably still alive, and still on the station.”

Rethne shot upright, all four arms extended in shock. “How can this be? Her body has already been returned to TeMenaik and consecrated to the Core of Creation.”

“I’m sorry to tell you this, Captain, but that wasn’t her body.”

“You know that the Ware stations can create perfect replicas of any organic or inorganic matter, correct?” Reed put in.

“This is so. It is what makes them so enormously useful.”

Mayweather resumed the narrative at Reed’s nod. “Over a dozen years ago, Captain Reed and I served on a ship called Enterprise. We came across one of these stations when we needed repairs. While we were there . . . I was abducted. I was beamed aboard the station and replaced by an exact replica of my own body—exact, but dead. At first, my crewmates thought I’d been killed by an energy discharge during the repairs. But our ship’s doctor had recently inoculated me with a kind of microbe that should’ve thrived on that kind of energy, except that all the microbes he found in the duplicate body were dead. He realized the station’s replicating mechanism had created an exact double to make my crew think I was dead.”

“Why would it do this?”

Reed picked up the tale. “We found that out when we broke into the station’s control center to rescue Travis.” He hesitated. “Captain . . . we found him, along with a number of other captives, hooked in to the central data core. The station was tapping into their brains to augment its memory and processing power. One or two had been there for months, others for a few years, some even longer.”

“And the longer they’d been there,” Mayweather added, “the more brain damage they’d sustained. Eventually they just . . . burned out. So every so often, the station must’ve preyed on another crew, taken one of their personnel—and made it look like an accident, complete with a body, so they’d have no idea what had happened. But I’m living proof of what these stations are really doing.” He visibly suppressed a shudder. “I don’t remember any of it firsthand. It kept me sedated the whole time. But I saw my . . . my ‘corpse’ after they rescued me. I know what would’ve happened to me if it hadn’t been for a really attentive doctor. And I still have nightmares about it.”

Rethne was stunned. “Why? Why would the Ware extend such benevolence and then do such a thing to innocent people?”

Innocent indeed, Reed thought. He saw in Rethne the same naïve optimism he had seen in Jonathan Archer in those glory days of pure exploration before the Xindi had attacked Earth and changed things forever. It saddened him to be the one giving Rethne her rude awakening. But better she find out this way than through more violent means. “The benevolence is the lure,” Reed told her. “The stations need a steady supply of brains, so they make themselves inviting.”

“But if they only use the added computing power to create the things that draw us to them . . . then where is the purpose in it?”

“We don’t know what drives the people that created these things,” Mayweather told Rethne. “But what we do know is that your passenger is probably on that station right now. And if she was taken as recently as you say, it’s probably not too late to save her.”

Reed could tell that Mayweather was already identifying with this alien stranger, based on nothing beyond their common victimization. Still, Reed wasn’t about to begrudge him that sympathy. “Captain, we’d be happy to assist in a rescue operation. We’ve faced one of these stations before and beaten it.”

“My ship is merely a commerce vessel,” Rethne said. “None of us are fighters. If there is any chance of retrieving my lost charge, then I will gratefully pay a high price for her return.”

“We ask no payment, Captain Rethne. We’re explorers, new to this part of space. If we can start our relationship with the Menaik people by earning their friendship, that will be payment enough.”

“Your generosity is humbling, Captain Reed. Please . . . do what you can for her.”

“I will, Captain Rethne. We’ll contact you when we’re ready to go in. Pioneer out.”

When the screen i...

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