From the back cover: Massive computer malfunctions are plaguing the Enterprise when Kirk suddenly receives a shocking message from Starfleet Command: Centaurus has been bombed and annihilated; thousands are dead. Give whatever help you can. Centaurus is a beautiful, peaceful planet, home to many humans - including McCoy's daughter Joanna.

The crew risks beaming down to investigate. But Kirk is thrown into a deadly struggle between violent enemy terrorists and vengeful Centaurians. Now Lt. Uhura, left alone in command, must jeopardize the crippled Enterprise to save Centaurus, Kirk - and Joanna McCoy!


At New Athens Spaceport on the planet Centaurus, the wanted criminal Isidore Holtzman triggers an antimatter bomb, destroying the spaceport and the city of New Athens, the planet's capital. On the USS Enterprise, a major computer malfunction shuts down artificial gravity and nearly causes the ship to self-destruct. Kirk receives an Alpha-Red message from Starfleet Command informing him of the explosion on Centaurus, where Joanna McCoy, Leonard McCoy's daughter, is a medical student.

When Kirk was a twenty-two-year-old ensign on the USS Farragut, his leg was severely injured in a battle with the pirates of Epsilon Canaris III. On Starbase 7 Dr. Leonard McCoy oversaw the repair of the leg and Kirk's grueling physical therapy; the two men became friends. Before Kirk returned to the Farragut, McCoy took him to Centaurus to meet Joanna, then a child living with her aunt and uncle. Kirk bought a valley on the planet, which he later named Garrovick Valley after the Farragut's captain.

Kirk announces the tragedy on Centaurus to the bridge crew, then personally informs the crew members who come from Centaurus or have family living there, including McCoy, relief helmsman Peter Siderakis, and Nurse Constance Iziharry.

Captain's log, stardate 7513.5: For the time being, at least, things seem to be under control. We are proceeding at warp five for Centaurus...

At a senior staff briefing, Dr. M'Benga expresses concern about the ship's ability to aid the disaster victims adequately. Spock deduces that the explosion cannot have been accidental, and that weapons of mass destruction are apparently in the hands of a non-military force. Spock subsequently discovers that the Enterprise computers have been disabled beyond repair due to a mysterious series of small circular holes drilled through the computer banks.

Captain's log, stardate 7513.9: We are finally nearing the Alpha Centauri star system -- and apparently just in the nick of time...

As the Enterprise approaches Centaurus, the warp engines burn out, leaving the ship on impulse power only. Uhura picks up a code seven-ten message from the planet, warning ships not to approach. Spock detects the wreckage of three Earth medical ships scheduled to arrive before the Enterprise in orbit about Centaurus. As the Enterprise enters planetary orbit, Kirk is again urged not to approach by Henry Erikkson, president pro tem of Centaurus. The Enterprise is then engulfed by a massive explosion.

In the resort town of Gregory's Landing, thousands of kilometers west of New Athens, a group of five men headed by Reuben Barclay follow news accounts of the events. Barclay sends two of the men, Max and Dave, to find another man in the interim capital of McIverton and convince him to meet with the group, or else kill him.

The Enterprise has survived the explosion due to its shields. Kirk is again contacted by acting President Erikkson, who explains that the planetary defense system, controlled from the Defense Center complex near New Athens, has malfunctioned since the antimatter explosion and is targeting all vessels that approach Centaurus as enemies. With the Enterprise transporters out, Kirk decides, despite the risk involved, to send two landing parties to the planet in shuttlecraft. A party led by Spock will travel to the Defense Center to get its computers to shut down, while a party led by Kirk will go to McIverton to meet with the interim government.

Captain's log, stardate 7514.1. This is Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, in temporary command of the -- oh, strike that. This is Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, communications officer, recording: We are maintaining standard orbit around Centaurus...

The two shuttlecraft, piloted by Hikaru Sulu and Pavel Chekov, successfully maneuver to avoid the missile launched at them from the Defense Center; the Enterprise then destroys the missile. Spock and his team fly over the devastation of New Athens before reaching the Defense Center, where they enter the underground facility. Kirk's shuttlecraft is escorted to McIverton by jet aircraft; on landing, Kirk's party is met by chief of protocol Thaddeus Hayes, to whom Kirk introduces Sulu as his confidential aide. Spock's party finds no survivors at the Defense Center, where the personnel were all killed by radiation. The computers refuse to stand down in response to the commands given by Spock and the two computer technicians on his team, Rawlings and Hudson.

In Gregory's Landing, Barclay and his two companions have moved to a new hideout; Max and Dave have successfully met with their target individual. Barclay has learned from a news report that Kirk, who knows the man in question, is conferring with the president. Kirk and Sulu meet with President Erikkson, who introduces them to Daniel Perez, the Minister of Defense, and Nathaniel Burke, the Minister of Internal Security. Erikkson, Perez and Burke all lost their wives and children in New Athens. Erikkson tells Kirk that the explosion was the work of the League for a Pure Humanity, a racist and anti-alien organization headed by Isidore Holtzman. Holtzman, widely regarded as a crackpot, had threatened to destroy New Athens if members of the League were not granted political positions in one month. The explosion took place an hour after Holtzman's deadline. Sulu gives Burke a list of Enterprise crew members with relatives on Centaurus. After Burke leaves with the list, Spock calls Erikkson's office on the hotline from the Defense Center and proposes a radical means of solving the problem with the defense system. Erikkson and Perez reluctantly approve Spock's plan.

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Reuben BarclayBull BuchinskyNathaniel BurkeChristine ChapelPavel ChekovSamuel CogleyDaveSergei DominicoHenry ErikksonDiana FloresGarStephen GarrovickThaddeus HayesIsidore HoltzmanHoltzmanHudsonConstance IziharryJames T. KirkAlec MacPhersonMaxJabilo M'BengaJoanna McCoyLeonard McCoyWinston Churchill McKnightDaniel PerezRawlingsRoland SamuelsSchmidtMontgomery ScottPeter SiderakisDuncan SmithSpockHikaru SuluNyota UhuraTeodor VladsilovichSaul WeinsteinDonna WithersFred Withers
Referenced only 
Anne BurkeZefram CochraneBenjamin FinneyJohn Houston GregoryHarrison (Captain)Aurelan KirkGeorge Samuel Kirk, Jr.George Samuel Kirk, Sr.Peter KirkWinona KirkPerez (Mrs.)Jocelyn Treadway

Starships and vehiclesEdit

Columbus (NCC-1701/2)USS Cook CountyEdith CavellUSS EnterpriseGalileo IISakharovThomas Dooley
Referenced only 
BarnardUSS ConradUSS ConstitutionUSS FarragutUSS GagarinGalileo (NCC-1701/7)USS HoodSemmelweissTutu


Alpha Centauri (Alpha Centauri AAlpha Centauri BAlpha Centauri C) • Alpha Centauri IV (AquinasvilleAthena PreserveColonial MuseumDefense CenterElm StreetEmergency Control CenterFarragut RiverFounders ParkerFounders WayGarrovick ValleyGovernment FieldGregory AvenueGregory's LandingMcIvertonNew AthensNew Athens Medical ComplexNew Athens SpaceportNew AmericaNew AsiaNew EuropePlanetary PlazaSecond TrySheraton Centaurus) • Big TopCassiopeiaEarth (British ConfederacyCaribbeanChicagoEurasian UnionGenevaGeorgiaHawaiiMidwestNew York HarborSan FranciscoUnited States of America) • Epsilon CanarisEpsilon Canaris IIIHellspawnIotiaJupiterLunaOrion home systemSolTaurusTycho IVVulcan

Outposts and stationsEdit

Big BlottoStarbase 7Starbase 9

Races and culturesEdit

Referenced only 

States and organizationsEdit

American ExpressAmsterdam and New Athens Precious Metals and Stones ConsortiumCabinet (Centaurus)Centaurus Defense CommandFederationFederation Foreign OfficeGeneral Staff (Centaurus)League for a Pure HumanityMinistry of Communications (Centaurus)Ministry of Defense (Centaurus)Ministry of Emergency Communications (Centaurus)Ministry of Health (Centaurus)Ministry of Labor Relations (Centaurus)Moscow DynamosNew American News ServicePan United SpacewaysRed CrossSpaceport SecurityStarfleet AcademyStarfleet CommandStarstruck Inc.Thirty-sixth Air Wing (Centaurus)Tokyo GiantsUnited NationsVulcan CouncilWorld Congress

Ranks and titlesEdit

admiralassistant chief engineercadetcaptaincargo handlerchief councillorchief engineerchief medical officerchief of protocolcolonelcommandercommander-in-chiefcommunications officercorporaldoctorengineering officerensignfirst officergeneralhangar deck duty officerhelmsmankinglawyerlieutenantministerminister of defenseminister of internal securityminister of statenavigatornursepoetpresidentpresident pro temporeprofessorscience officersecurity officersergeantspytactical officertechnologistvice presidentwatch commander

Science and technologyEdit

airplaneanimalantimatterantimatter weaponartificial gravityartificial gravity generatorartificial intelligenceautomobileautotrackerbiologyblack holebreeder reactorcameracarbon dioxidecargo shipchronometercommunicationscommunicatorcomputerDayBrite lanterndilithium crystaldrydockecologyelectricityelevatorevolutionflitterfreightergasolinegenetic engineeringgeothermal generatorgliderhologramhydrogenimpulse engineinertial dampenerinertial screwdriverinternal combustion enginelaserlight-yearlimousinelocomotivemain computermedical shipmissilemopedmotorcyclenuclear fissionnuclear fusionnuclear weaponoilpetroleumphaserphoton torpedophysicsplanetary defense systemplantplutoniumportapackpressure suitradiationradiorobotsailboatsatellitesensorshieldsshuttlecraftspacestarbasestarshipstarstasis fieldsubspacesupertankertachyontransportertricordertrinitrotolueneturbolifttypewriteruraniumvideophoneviewscreenwarp speedwarp drivewarp enginewarp nacellezero gravityzoology

Other referencesEdit

19th century20th century21st century220022562269agoraphobiaAlpha-Redamoebaaquariumasteroidasteroid beltbaseballbookbridgebriefing roomcaptain's logCeltic peopleCentaurian blackappleCentaurian flapjackCentaurian treeturtleCentaurian werebearCentaurian woodscatcenturycigarettecityCoca-ColaCode 710coffeecolonycontinentcreditCygnian gold piecedeathdeath penaltyDecoration for Valordeerdikronium cloud creaturedogdrugs and treatmentseagleelmemotionengineeringEugenics Warsfarmingfirst contactFounders DayFrench francGodgovernmentgravityGreat New Yearhangar deckhorsehospitallanding partylibrarylogicmaplemarriageminingmoneymoonmotion picturemountainmusicNan's NewsnightnationNeoFullernewspaperOperation Razzle-DazzleOrganian Peace TreatyparkpigpiracyplanetplasticplaypolicePosture of Victoryprisonquarantinerecreation deckred alertrehabilitation colonysandbugsandwichscience fictionScotsecurityself-destructsickbayslaverysongsoulstardateStarfleet Medal of HonorStarfleet uniform (2240s-2265)Starfleet uniform (2265-2270)Statue of Libertysunglassesterrorismtheatertool beltuniversityvacationvacuumvillageVulcan work unitwarwaterwaterfallweaponWorld Seriesxenophobia


  • Lieutenant Sulu is erroneously referred to as an ensign on p. 24.



published order
Previous novel:
TOS numbered novels Next novel:
Fortunes of War, Book 1: Dreadnought!
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
The Cloud Minders
Pocket Next Adventure:
The Sleeping God
Previous Adventure:
Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
Voyages of the
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
(2264 to 2270)
Next Adventure:
Whom Gods Destroy
The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2269.
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in one other timeframe:
Previous Adventure:
A Private Anecdote (flashback)
Chapter 3
Next Adventure:
Burning Dreams (2256)

External linkEdit

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