No LimitsPeter David
POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2003 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Star Trek : New Frontier, no limits / edited by Peter David ; associate editor, Keith R.A. DeCandido.
“Based on Star trek: the next generation created by Gene Roddenberry.”
1. Interplanetary voyages—Fiction. 2. Space ships—Fiction. 3. Science fiction, American. 4. Star Trek fiction. I. David, Peter (Peter Allen) II. DeCandido, Keith R.A. III. Roddenberry, Gene.
First Pocket Books trade paperback edition October 2003
POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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by Peter David
Mackenzie Calhoun: “Loose Ends”
by Dayton Ward
Elizabeth Shelby: “All That Glisters…”
by Loren L. Coleman
Zak Kebron: “Waiting for G’Doh, or, How I Learned to Stop Moving and Hate People”
by David Mack
Robin Lefler: “Lefler’s Logs”
by Robert Greenberger
Morgan Primus: “Alice, on the Edge of Night”
by Ilsa J. Bick
by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Si Cwan: “Turning Point”
by Josepha Sherman
Selar: “ ‘Q’uandary”
by Terri Osborne
Burgoyne 172: “Oil and Water”
by Robert T. Jeschonek
Mark McHenry: “Singularity”
by Christina F. York
Arex: “The Road to Edos”
by Kevin Dilmore
D’ndai of Calhoun: “A Lady of Xenex”
by Peg Robinson
U.S.S. Excalibur: “Making a Difference”
by Mary Scott-Wiecek
Kat Mueller: “Performance Appraisal”
by Allyn Gibson
by Glenn Hauman & Lisa Sullivan
Soleta: “Out of the Frying Pan”
by Susan Shwartz
Burgoyne 172: “Through the Looking Glass”
by Susan Wright
Calhoun & Shelby: “A Little Getaway”
by Peter David
The Star Trek: New Frontier Timeline,
compiled by Keith R.A. DeCandido
When John Ordover suggested the idea of a New Frontier short story anthology, my first reaction was one of keen interest.
This promptly gave way to panic. Not the running-around, sky-is-falling, woe-is-me type of panic, or at least no more so than one sees on any given day from me. This was more subdued panic.
It’s not as if I’m unused to sharing characters. Most of my comic book work has taken place in shared universes, as I’ve watched characters whom I was overseeing in particular titles show up elsewhere. The problem is, frequently they’re talking and acting in ways that seemed just flat-out wrong to me. But I’ve learned to accept that and live with it because, bottom line, they’re not my characters.
In a sense, neither are the crews of the Excalibur and Trident. The copyright page sure doesn’t say “Copyright © Peter David.” Some have previous lives on television, and those I’ve conceptualized are officially owned by others.
Nevertheless, in contemplating this anthology, I realized just how possessive of them I’ve become. I’ve written more words about them—their hopes, dreams, relationships, aspirations, and adventures—than any other novel denizens I’ve thought up. I’ve seen them through birth, marriage, pregnancies, death, and everything in between. The thought of turning the reins that are guiding my literary children over to other writers was anathema to me. I wasn’t fighting the notion kicking and screaming, but I approached the endeavor with a singular lack of enthusiasm.
That, however, was before we really started to get into it. Before associate editor Keith DeCandido (or as reviewers refer to him, “the next Peter David,” which is nice because that means my kids can hit him up for college tuition) put out the call for story proposals to a select group of authors. The proposals and ideas came fast and furious, and rather than feel threatened and unnerved by the process, I quickly discovered that it gave New Frontier a sense of validation.
For starters, it wasn’t as if every writer said, “I want Calhoun!” Instead different people zeroed in on their own preferences about whom they wanted to write. It gave a real indication of the breadth of interest that New Frontier had for its readers, that no one character was the single favorite of everyone.
Second, it was nice to see that so many people whose work I respected (not to mention whose company I enjoyed) were New Frontier enthusiasts. I’m not saying that “regular” fans are an undemanding audience. Far from it. But other writers are an extremely formidable bunch, because they’re always second-guessing the narrative or aware of all the mechanics that go into producing the story. So if this bunch was interested enough to want to play in the New Frontier universe, that was proof of something. I’m not sure exactly of what, but it was a good thing.
Third, it helped that certain parameters were drawn. I was skittish over the idea of having stories set in “current” New Frontier continuity, because I was worried over the logistical nightmare of how so many visions might impact on the ongoing narrative. We could, of course, just do an anthology of meaningless “They Go to a Planet and Stuff Happens and Then They Leave” stories, but what would have been the point? If we were to do the first Trek anthology based on a non-TV series Trek universe, we had to do something more special than that. It was at that point we decided to go backward instead of forward. All the characters have rich, detailed histories that have been hinted at in some way, shape, or form. Some have been catalysts for entire stories (McHenry, for instance), while others have yet to be explored. Feeling this was fertile ground, the writers were set loose on the characters’ backgrounds, free to set stories in some of the most emotional and challenging periods in our heroes’ lives before they joined the Excalibur. (The single exception is the oft’ mentioned, but never-told-until-now tale of Calhoun and Shelby’s honeymoon-from-hell, written by yours truly. When you make the rules, you get to break them.)
Did I spell out what all the stories should be? Lord, no; I’m not that organized. In several instances I suggested specific time periods in which to set stories. And one tale originated entirely from my saying, “Gee, wouldn’t it be cool if we had a story where…” The vast majority of endeavors, however, are entirely the invention of the individual writers. But I vetted them all, commented on them all, had changes made where needed, and oversaw the whole thing.
I’m emphasizing this not out
of a compulsion for self-aggrandizement, but because when the anthology was announced on my website, a sizable number of readers instantly expressed reservations. They claimed the attraction of New Frontier for them was the uniformity of vision in the world conceived by John Ordover and myself. I’ve been the sole writer, and they were uncertain over the idea of suddenly bringing in over a dozen new voices to the mix.
So I want to take this opportunity to assure anyone who is furtively reading this intro in a bookstore trying to make up his or her mind, or anyone who has already plunked down the money and is hoping it was well spent, that our lineup of writers has done a sensational job in taking us back to before it all began. That they have presented key moments in our characters’ lives as well as, if not better than, even the most ardent New Frontier fan could possibly have hoped.
If anything, New Frontier is elevated by this anthology. It’s one thing when a single writer produces a body of work. But when talented writers want to jump into the pool and splash about, suddenly it becomes more than just a series of books. It becomes a true universe, a nice bit of mythos building, of different creators saying, “This is a particular piece of the universe that appeals to me. Come share it.”
Shout-outs go once again to: Keith DeCandido, associate editor supreme; John Ordover, whose idea New Frontier was; Kathleen David, my wife and a superb editor in her own right; Glenn Hauman and Bob Greenberger, who expressed early interest and were fonts of ideas; Paula Block at Paramount, one of the most eminently reasonable “powers that be” in the world; Bill Mumy, from whom I copped the all-purpose profanity “Grozit”; and, ultimately, you the readership. New Frontier was in abeyance for a while as the popularity of Sir Apropos of Nothing changed a one-shot novel into a three-book deal. There are limits to what even I can turn out in a year. But we’re back now, and we thank you for your patience and your continued support.
Long Island, New York
After the U.S.S. Grissom’s mission to Anzibar, which ended with Captain Norman Kenyon’s death and Commander Mackenzie Calhoun resigning from Starfleet in disgust, Calhoun, the future captain of the U.S.S. Excalibur, roamed the galaxy, getting into no small degree of trouble. After one particular incident, Admiral Alynna Nechayev bailed Calhoun out in exchange for conscripting him to do occasional covert missions on behalf of Starfleet Intelligence—all unofficial, of course. “Loose Ends” takes place during that time in Calhoun’s life between Starfleet tenures, and also shortly after the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Pegasus.”
Dayton Ward got his start in professional writing by placing stories in each of the first three Star Trek: Strange New Worlds anthologies. He is the author of the Star Trek novel In the Name of Honor and the science fiction novel The Last World War, and with Kevin Dilmore he has written several Star Trek: S.C.E. adventures, a story for the upcoming Star Trek: Tales of the Dominion War anthology, and a pair of upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation novels. Though he currently lives in Kansas City with his wife Michi, Dayton is a Florida native and still maintains a torrid long-distance romance with his beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You can contact Dayton and learn more about his writing at www.daytonward.com.
The Romulan threw Calhoun into the brig.
He fell to the deck, rolling at the last second to avoid serious injury. Sitting up on the floor of the detention cell, he regarded the Romulan smiling at him from outside the brig as the centurion tossed a small satchel with Calhoun’s personal belongings on the cell’s small bunk.
“On your feet,” another Romulan said as he entered the cell, carrying what Calhoun recognized as a standard-issue medikit. Extracting a tricorder, the Romulan doctor activated the device and pointed it in Calhoun’s direction, no doubt searching for any illicit weapons or other items hidden on his person.
Take as long as you like, Calhoun thought.
“That will be all for now, Centurion,” a new voice said, and Calhoun looked up to see two more Romulans staring back at him. One was dark-skinned, and even without the uniform insignia designating him as this ship’s commander, Calhoun recognized Sirol instantly.
With the cell’s forcefield now activated, Sirol waited for the guard to exit the room and the doors to close behind him before he said, “You are quite a long way from your home, Xenexian. From what I have heard, very few of your people elect to leave their home planet.” The commander’s voice possessed a pleasant, almost lyrical quality, yet Calhoun still detected the suspicion behind the words.
Standing next to Sirol, the other Romulan was examining a padd he carried in his right hand. “According to our sources, he is a former Starfleet officer who apparently left the service in disgrace, and since then has been known to take on various jobs, many of them of dubious legality, for the right price.” Reviewing the padd again, he added, “My people have completed their inspection of the spy’s vessel and turned up nothing. If he has anything of value to justify us not killing him, we have yet to find it.”
Calhoun saw the first hint of a smile curling the corners of Sirol’s mouth. “And his claims of working as a smuggler? What of those, Major Taelus?”
“I believe the line between smuggler and spy to be very thin, Commander,” the other Romulan replied. “It is a distinction I waste little time making. His cargo holds are empty, and given that he has trespassed into our space from the Federation side of the border, I see no reason to belabor the point.”
From the uniform insignia, Calhoun recognized that Taelus was an agent of the Tal Shiar, an organization feared throughout the Romulan Empire. So far this agent’s behavior was consistent with the normal methods employed by the Empire’s elite secret police. That much had been demonstrated even as Calhoun was escorted through the ship. He noted how members of the Terix’s crew moved with deliberate purpose to clear a path for them, avoiding eye contact with Taelus and doing everything to avoid drawing his attention.
“If he is a spy,” Sirol said, “then you will have plenty of time to interrogate him once our current mission is completed.”
“That is another point of concern,” Taelus replied. “The timing of his arrival strikes me as decidedly convenient. Considering the cargo we carry for the Praetor, we cannot be too careful.”
Sirol turned to Calhoun. “Why were you trespassing in Romulan space?”
“Like I said,” Calhoun replied, “I’m a freelancer. I’ve been running arms and other supplies for various Maquis cells for about a year now. I’m sure your real spies have been keeping you up to date on that state of affairs.”
Described by many as nothing more than a ragtag group of renegades, the Maquis had been wreaking havoc along the Federation-Cardassian border in recent months in defiance of the oppression and cruelty many of them had suffered at the hands of the Cardassians. Among their growing numbers were sympathizers who had renounced Federation citizenships and taken up arms to support their comrades. Black marketers throughout the quadrant had quickly seen the situation’s profit potential, and the providing of weapons, food, medical supplies, and other equipment for the various resistance cells had become a clandestine industry unto itself.
“And you’re buying weaponry from a Romulan contact?” Taelus asked, making no effort to hide his disdain and distrust. “From whom?” When Calhoun said nothing after several seconds, Taelus stepped closer to the forcefield. “You will answer my questions, Xenexian, I promise you.”
Calhoun smiled at the expected threat. “You need to work on your temper, Major. It can blind you in a dangerous situation if you lose control of it.”
Beside him, the Romulan doctor finally finished his examination and deactivated his scanner. “He is free of disease or other contaminants, Commander, and I’ve found nothing hidden on his person or among his clothing or possessions.” He indicated the innocuous collection of items
emptied from Calhoun’s pockets and the pouch on his belt.
“Thank you, Dr. Arnata,” Sirol replied. He pointed to the scar on Calhoun’s face. “Considering the advanced nature of modern medical technology, particularly that belonging to the Federation, I have to wonder why you choose to retain such an unsightly blemish.”
“It’s a reminder to never let my guard down,” Calhoun replied. “Hard to forget when you look at it in the mirror every day.”
Reaching for Calhoun’s left arm, Arnata pushed the sleeve of the loose-fitting tan shirt up to his elbow, revealing another thick, puckered scar running half the length of his forearm. “Is this one also a reminder?”
“Yes, that things aren’t always what they appear to be.” Leaning closer to Arnata, Calhoun added, “That’s good advice, you know.”
The doctor snorted derisively, but any comment he might have made was forgotten as the ship’s intercom blared to life.
“Commander Sirol, this is the bridge. Internal sensors have detected several systems activating aboard the smuggler’s ship. We are reading a buildup in its warp core.”
Alarm washed over the faces of the Romulans, and Calhoun stood fast as Sirol stepped so close to the cell that he nearly made contact with the forcefield. “What have you done?” When Calhoun said nothing, the commander tapped his communicator pendant. “This is Sirol. Get that ship out of my landing bay immediately.”