Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

After the Fall

Peter David

  After the Fall

  Star Trek: New Frontier novels by Peter David

  In chronological order

  Book One: House of Cards

  Book Two: Into the Void

  Book Three: The Two-Front War

  Book Four: End Game

  Book Five: Martyr

  Book Six: Fire on High

  Captain’s Table #5: Once Burned

  Double Helix #5: Double or Nothing

  Book Seven: The Quiet Place

  Book Eight: Dark Allies

  Book Nine: Excalibur: Requiem

  Book Ten: Excalibur: Renaissance

  Book Eleven: Excalibur: Restoration (hardcover)

  Gateways #6: Cold Wars

  Book Twelve: Being Human

  Book Thirteen: Gods Above

  No Limits—ed. by Peter David

  Book Fourteen: Stone and Anvil

  Book Fifteen: After the Fall

  POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2004 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

  STAR TREK is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures.

  This book is published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., under exclusive license from Paramount Pictures.

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.

  For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

  ISBN: 0-7434-9405-9

  POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

  Visit us on the World Wide Web

  A Note to Our Readers

  Everything must move forward. Everything must progress. Without progress, there is boredom and even backsliding. The New Frontier is no exception to that.

  With the exception of the first chapter, After the Fall is set three years after the end of the previous New Frontier novel, Stone and Anvil (and mere days before the events seen in Star Trek: Nemesis). As is the case with the real world, a lot has happened in three years. The New Frontier cast is not a collection of toys remaining exactly where you left them until you’re ready to play with them again. Many members of the Excalibur and Trident crews have gone down unexpected paths, and you’ll be very surprised to see where they’ve wound up.

  We here at New Frontier C&C (Command and Control) wanted to make this clear to you so that you won’t go through the book waiting for the reset button. There will be no one time traveling to a key point in the past in order to restore the status quo. There will be no shocking revelation that we’re in a parallel universe. It is not a hoax, nor a dream, nor an imaginary tale (well, no more imaginary than any of them). What you hold in your hands is the “current” reality of the New Frontier. We suspect if our heroes can deal with it, so can you.

  So come along and see who’s broken up, who’s still together, who’s where and who’s who in the New Frontier.

  —The Management



  On the day Soleta was reasonably sure she was going to die, she found herself both surprised and not surprised to see Ambassador Spock standing at the far end of her cell.

  Every joint, every muscle, every synapse in her body seemed inflamed with pain, and yet she still managed to sit up. She wanted to stand, to look properly formal as the occasion might call for. Try as she might, however, she was unable to gather the strength to do so. So she settled for sitting on the dank floor and simply staring at the tall, lean Vulcan. He, in turn, stared at her. No words passed between them for a good long time.

  It was Soleta who finally broke the silence. “Well?” she inquired. “Aren’t you going to say it?”

  He cocked an eyebrow as she knew he would. “What am I expected to say?”

  “I believe the appropriate phrase would be, ‘How the mighty have fallen.’ ”

  He pondered that for a moment, and then informed her, “That would not be logical.”

  “Why not?”

  “You were never particularly mighty.”

  “No,” and she slumped her head back against the cell wall. “No, I guess I wasn’t.”

  They remained that way for a time, and then Soleta allowed a small smile.

  “Do you find your present situation amusing?” asked Spock.

  “Not especially. I’m simply considering the fact that, when we first met, I was in a cell. On Thallon. Do you remember?”

  “Of course,” Spock said in a tone that indicated it was absurd to think he would forget—not the incident itself, but anything at all that had ever happened to him in his entire life.

  “It is ironic, the way in which life wraps back upon itself,” she said. “You and I, trapped in a dungeon on Thallon, prisoners of the royal family. Then we escape, and in later years members of that same royal family wind up on the Federation ship I’m serving on after their family loses power. And now they are no longer a part of my life, nor I of theirs, and I’m back in a dungeon…while from what I hear…”

  “They are climbing back into power,” said Spock. “Yes. That is true. A new Thallonian regime is apparently on the rise. I estimate that in another two point three years, they will be fully in charge. There will, however, likely be marked differences between the former monarchy and the new paradigm. I believe the most likely structure will consist of a—”

  “Mr. Spock.”

  Although naturally any emotion perceivable on his face was minimal, it was still obvious that he was surprised at the interruption.

  Soleta sighed. “I don’t really care.”

  “Ah. Because, as matters stand, you will not be alive to see it.”

  “That’s very much how the day is shaping up, yes.” She gazed up at him through unfocused eyes. “You’re not going to help me, are you.”


  “I said you’re not going to help me. Not try to find a way to get me out of here.”

  “I regret that it is beyond my power to do so.”

  She snorted disdainfully. “I don’t believe that for a moment.”

  “That something is beyond my power?”

  “No. That you would regret anything.” She leaned her head back, the cold metal of the cell proving oddly comforting against the back of her head. “Not you. You never regret anything. Ever.”

  “What would draw you to that conclusion?”

  “Well,” she almost stammered, as if the reply should be obvious, “because everything you do, you do because it’s the logical thing to do.”


  “So?!” Soleta couldn’t follow what he was talking about. “So if you always take the logical path, how can you ever have any regrets over it?”

  He considered it a moment. “Apparently,” he said at last, “you are confusing the logical path with the right path.”

  “Aren’t they the same?”

  “No, Soleta. Not at all.” Slowly he circled the cell, his hands draped behind his back, his long robes sweeping around his feet. “ ‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ are purely subjective terms, to be left to theologians and lawmakers. There have been any number of occasions in my life—indeed, I would venture to say, in everyone’s lives—where I have been faced not with a right and wrong path, but instead with a variety of paths that are all undesirable. Where one person or group of persons was made to suffer, for instance, instead of anothe
r person or persons. In such instances, I made the logical choices, did what had to be done. Given the exact same circumstances, I would make the exact same choice.”

  “So where do the regrets come from?”

  “The regrets, Soleta,” he said wistfully, “come from my inability to conceive of a different path that would solve all problems in such a way that none be made to suffer.”

  She chuckled low in her throat. “That, Mr. Spock, is illogical.”

  “That, Soleta,” he replied, “is precisely my point.”

  Before she could say anything else, there was the sound of a heavy-duty security lock being disengaged from the door nearby.

  Several Romulans entered, dressed in full armor, as was customary for guards. It seemed ludicrous to Soleta; she was hardly in shape to pose a threat.

  “Who were you talking to?” demanded the foremost guard. He was looking around the cell suspiciously.

  “No one.” She realized, upon opening her mouth, that her voice was far more strained and parched than she would have thought. It sounded totally different than it had when she’d been talking with Spock.

  She further realized that she was in far more pain than she’d thought she was. There were marks on her from all manner of physical brutality that she had undergone. Strange. Strange that she hadn’t felt that earlier or noticed it. It was as if her mind had bifurcated for some strange reason….

  Well, not so strange at that.

  “Remarkable, isn’t it,” she said thickly. Her lips were swollen as well; she hadn’t noticed that before either. “What the mind will do to protect itself from dealing with what the body’s going through.”

  “What are you talking about?” he demanded.

  “Biology. You?”

  The guard who’d entered behind the first one was scouring the cell with his scowl. “Who was she talking to?”

  “She hasn’t answered,” said the first. “Who were you talking to?”

  “That’s a very large weapon,” she observed. “Do you use it in order to make up for shortcomings in other areas?”

  “I’ll use it on you, you murdering half-breed!” His hand hovered near the hilt.

  “Now there’s a threat.”

  “It’s no threat.”

  “And yet,” Soleta said, “I don’t see you doing it.”

  He started to pull his disruptor, the prospect of which didn’t bother Soleta one bit, but then the second guard put a hand on his fellow’s arm, preventing the precipitous move. The first guard took his hand away from the weapon, but then abruptly brought his foot up and around. He slammed it into Soleta’s face.

  She didn’t even feel it. The impact was sufficient to knock her backward, but other than that, it didn’t register. She was that numb.

  Thudding onto the floor, she lay there, her arms out to either side, her legs splayed. Her mouth moved for a moment and then spat out a glob of green blood to the side.

  “Who,” repeated the guard, “were you talk—?”

  “Myself,” she said.

  “You were talking to yourself.”

  “Do you see anyone else here?” she inquired, sounding remarkably calm considering her clothes were in tatters and her body was covered with bruises and open wounds.

  Clearly they did not. They’d already looked several times.

  With mutual looks of exasperation, they strode forward and grabbed Soleta each by one arm. There were several other guards in view as well, and they already had their weapons out.

  For one joyous moment, Soleta considered the notion of dropping both of the guards with a nerve pinch. As their bodies sagged to the ground, she would use them as shields for the few seconds it would take to yank their weapons out of their holsters and fire upon the other guards. Once she’d taken all of them down, she would use all her Starfleet training and stealth techniques to make her way to an airfield where she would find a vessel of some sort and get the hell off the Romulan homeworld.

  “What are you thinking?” demanded one of the guards.

  She rolled her head around to fix her gaze upon him. “What an odd question.”

  “Answer it.”

  “I was thinking,” she said, “about a cunning escape plan.”

  “Oh really. And are you planning to put it into effect?”


  “Why not?”

  “Too tired…”

  They were the last words she was able to get out before her head slumped forward.


  Hiren, the Romulan Praetor, had heard much about the female half-breed who had been apprehended, without incident, upon arrival on the homeworld. He had not encountered her himself. An interaction at such an early stage in the interrogation would have been most unseemly. He had people whose job it was to attend to her, and he had every confidence they would do so with their customary efficiency.

  So it was with growing surprise that he heard the continued reports, which were telling him far less than he’d been expecting to hear. So much so that he had decided it was time to intervene and see this creature for himself.

  He was less than impressed when she was first dragged in. Two of his guards were hauling her forward. The Praetor was seated in his great chair at the far end of the council room. None of his counselors were present at the moment. He had instead opted for a private conference. There was a large circular table with a partition at one end that allowed people to be brought through so they could stand in the middle of the large O shape, and that was what was done with the female. The guards didn’t even have to throw her to the floor. They simply stepped in opposite directions and she slumped down without so much as a murmur of protest. They then moved back out of the table ring, leaving her lying on the floor in a heap.

  “Stand up,” the Praetor said.

  At first she didn’t appear to hear him. But then, slowly, she arched her back and then braced herself with her hands and feet. Her chin was outthrust, her back now straight. She was wavering slightly, as if having difficulty remaining standing, but she didn’t seem inclined to fall. Her eyes were swollen, her nose broken several times. She was clearly not in good shape.

  Hiren’s gaze shifted from the female to the guards. “I do not recall,” he said slowly, “authorizing physical brutality in attempting to pry information from her.” When he spoke, it was with a low rumble in his broad chest. He was wearing a helmet, but his hair was gray under it, and his black-and-gray eyebrows were overgrown and thick. There was not much in the way of mercy in his eyes.

  “The physical injuries were not as a result of the interrogation, sir,” one of the guards said. “Over the past few days, she has been disrespectful in all that she has done and said. She sustained her injuries during our endeavors to teach her proper respect.”

  “I see.” He considered that, then nodded. “All right. Yes, very well. And you,” and he shifted his attention back to the female. “Soleta. Is that not the name you bear?”

  She looked as if she wanted to speak, but then winced in pain and instead settled for nodding.

  “I have heard much about you.”

  Still no answer. She just stared at him.

  “I thought,” he said after some thought, “that you would be taller.”

  “I am,” she told him, “when I stand on ceremony.”

  This drew an angry growl from one of the guards, who started toward her with the clear intention of punishing her for her insolence. The Praetor, however, chuckled, and put a hand out. This stopped the guard in his tracks, and he reluctantly stepped back.

  “Was that,” Hiren asked more politely than he needed to, “supposed to be a joke?”

  “That was the plan.”

  “I can see why my guards beat you.”

  “And where, as well.”

  He studied her for a long moment then, trying to take the measure of her. It was difficult for him to decide whether she was remarkably brave, or simply so disconnected from what was happening that she didn’t know e
nough to be frightened. It was always difficult to determine such things when dealing with Vulcans.

  “But you’re not precisely a Vulcan, are you,” he said, completing the train of thought aloud.

  She said nothing.

  One of the guards growled, “The Praetor asked you a question, female.”

  “The Praetor asked me a question to which he already knows the answer,” Soleta replied. “He doesn’t need me to tell him that which he already knows.”

  “You are correct,” said the Praetor, leaning forward with marked curiosity. “You have Romulan blood in you. But your Starfleet did not know it.”

  “No. They didn’t.”

  “Fools,” he said dismissively. “I can smell it upon you. It seeps from every pore. How could they not know?”

  She shrugged. “It was not something that revealed itself in routine physicals.”

  “But they finally found out.”


  “Because something happened to you that was more traumatic than a routine physical.”

  “I was very badly wounded,” she said. “During a ground battle in the war.”

  “The war. The war with the Selelvians and Tholians on one side, and your precious Federation on the other.”

  “I’m sorry if we made a lot of noise and woke you,” said Soleta.

  Outraged at her tone, one of the guards came up behind her and this time the Praetor made no effort to stop him. He brought a fist around to cuff her in the back of the head.

  Soleta whirled, faster than Hiren would have thought possible, and her hand clamped on the front of the guard’s face. It stopped him cold, and her fingers squeezed, tighter and tighter. His hands dropped to his sides, his mouth opened in a voiceless scream, and even as the other guards advanced quickly to get to them, Soleta shoved him away. He tumbled backward and hit the floor, staring up blankly at the ceiling.

  Without pause, Soleta turned back to face the Praetor, and guards were bringing up their weapons and aiming from every direction. She was the merest pull of a finger away from enough firepower to kill her ten times over.