- For other uses, see House.
- Sector 221-G: For the whole of Federation history, this large area of space has been controlled by the Thallonians, a cruel, militaristic race of which little is known except that they rule the other races in their sector with a vicious iron hand.
- Now the Thallonian Empire has collapsed and the systems it once ruled are in chaos. Old hatreds are surfacing. Petty tyrants control deadly weapons. World after world is descending into disorder and self-destruction. The Federation must send a starship to help where it can and report what it finds.
- That ship is the USS Excalibur, a newly refit Ambassador-class starship commanded by Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and manned by Starfleet's best and brightest, including some old friends from Star Trek: The Next Generation and some of the most dynamic new characters ever to crew a Federation starship.
- Join Captain Calhoun and the crew of the USS Excalibur as they explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before!
The Xenexian Rebellion is in full swing. Their young leader, M'k'n'zy, has led the Xenexians to many victories over their Danteri masters. The story opens with Falkar, a Danteri general pursuing M'k'n'zy through a region known to the Xenexians as The Pit. The Pit is believed by many to be an area of supernatural significance, with many people who wander through there frequently receiving visions of their future. M'k'n'zy and Falkar eventually meet and fight, and M'k'n'zy kills Falkar, but not before Falkar slashes M'k'n'zy's face, opening a gaping wound. While M'k'n'zy wanders through the pit suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and blood loss, he passes off and begins hallucinating. He sees a balding man in one vision, and a naked blond woman in the other. He continues to wander the desert in this state until he is rescued by D'ndai, his brother, and some other Xenexian rebels.
Upon returning to his village of Calhoun, M'k'n'zy learns that the Danteri have arrived with some Federation representatives in order to negotiate terms of a truce. The Federation representatives are from a ship called the USS Stargazer: Lieutenant Jack Crusher, and the balding man from M'k'n'zy's hallucination, Captain Jean-Luc Picard. After the negotiations begin to a slow start, Picard pulls aside M'k'n'zy and speaks to him privately, likening him to Alexander the Great, and warning him to keep his future goals in sight as well, else some day there may be no more worlds to conquer. M'k'n'zy seems to be moved by these words when he returns to his room.
Ten years later, Soleta has taken it upon herself to study the reclusive and xenophobic Thallonian Empire. While gathering data, she fails to notice a group of Thallonian dignitaries who have discovered her presence, and when she turns to flee she sees that her vessel has been absorbed into a sink hole. While Chancellor Yoz demands that she submit to his authority and be placed under arrest, Soleta ignores him and continues to simply inquire about how her ship was swallowed. This is of great amusement to Lord Si Cwan as he mocks the Chancellor for his lack of authority. Yoz stuns and arrests Soleta.
When Soleta wakes up in the dungeon, she is soon met by another captive, an undercover agent who soon reveals himself as none other than Ambassador Spock. Spock too is attempting to gather information on the Thallonians, however he allows himself to be captured in order to help free Soleta. Spock has obtained the key to the prison, activates it, and the two make their escape. After they flee the prison, they are met by Si Cwan, who threatens to capture them again. As Si Cwan is armed, the two are helpless in resisting them. Still, Soleta warns Si Cwan that there is no way the Thallonian Empire can sustain himself, and that his society is sure to crumble within twenty years. Si Cwan then gives Soleta his cape and her IDIC pin, and says he will allow them to leave simply to infuriate the Chancellor. After Spock and Soleta flee on a freighter, Si Cwan still wonders why he allowed them to go. He realizes another reason may be that Soleta had allowed Cwan's sister Kally, normally a serious minded young girl, to laugh as Soleta had stunned the Chancellor's mount, causing him to fall to the ground.
Selar has taken a leave of absence from the USS Enterprise-D in order to undergo the pon farr ritual on Vulcan. During intercourse, her partner Voltak suffers a heart attack and dies. Selar blames her emotional attachment to him and partially blames herself for his death. She swears never to let this happen again, and as a result becomes even more icy and detached than other Vulcans.
The Thallonian Empire has recently collapsed, and the USS Enterprise-E, has been sent to Deep Space 5, where most of the Thallonian refugees are fleeing to. There is to be a conference on DS5 to determine what Starfleet's reaction to the collapse should be, and the Enterprise has the honor of escorting Ambassador Spock to the conference. The key players in the conference will be Admirals Edward Jellico and Alynna Nechayev, Ambassador Spock, Captain Picard, Commander Riker, a Danteri named Ryjaan, and Si Cwan, former prince of the Thallonian Empire. During the uprising, the entire royal family was killed, and Si Cwan was the only one who was able to escape. The Danteri, now federation members, share a border with the former Thallonian Empire.
Tensions are high between Si Cwan and Ryjaan, as Si Cwan continues to suggest that the Danteri aided in the collapse of the Thallonian Empire in an effort to gain more territory. Ryjaan states that Danteri ships have already entered the region, Sector 221-G, in order to try and help stabilize it while Nechayev tells him not to do so as this would only inflame an already inflammatory situation. Si Cwan's proposal to send in a Federation Fleet to restore the balance of power is also rejected due to concerns over the prime directive. They eventually decide to send in one starship in order to gather information on the sector, giving whatever aid they can on the way. Jellico recommends the USS Excalibur, as she is currently being repaired following the recent Borg invasion. The ship's Captain, Morgan Korsmo, was killed in the attack. The ship will be ready to depart in 2-3 weeks, and already has its crew, save for Captain and Executive Officer assigned. The meeting is then temporarily adjourned until a Captain can be recommended for a vessel. Si Cwan approaches Nechayev, Jellico, and Picard and asks for passage on the Excalibur. While Picard and Riker are enthusiastic about the idea, Jellico and Nechayev deny the request as it is against regulations to carry non-Starfleet personnel. Si Cwan makes a thinly veiled threat as he storms off.
Picard recommends Mackenzie Calhoun for the assignment, much to Nechayev's surprise, as she assumed he would nominate Riker, and much to Jellico's chagrin, as not only do the two have a personal history, but Calhoun's maverick style is infuriating to Jellico. Jellico instead recommends Commander Elizabeth Shelby, who served as Korsmo's Executive Officer on Excalibur prior to his death. Nechayev pulls Picard aside and explains to him that Calhoun is currently serving under her as a Special Ops Operative and has been since his leave of absence from Starfleet for the past five years. Picard offers to personally extend the invitation to him, and departs for Mojov Station.
Picard finds Calhoun in conflict with some Orions, and after a short conversation, the two depart the station. Calhoun is reluctant to rejoin Starfleet, but after Picard lectures him about destiny, and reminds him that he sponsored his application to the Academy because he saw a greatness he did not want to be confined to Xenex, Calhoun begins to think it over. He eventually decides to take command of the vessel, particularly thrilled that this will surely infuriate Jellico.
Soleta, now holding the rank of Lieutenant and serving as an instructor at Starfleet Academy, is recruited to serve as Science officer on Excalibur. She trys to turn down the request, but she is ordered to go, as she is one of few people who have ever been to Thallos. As soon as the transmission ends, the screen goes black briefly before the words "Don't Move" appear on the screen. Soleta then feels a blaster weapon up against the back of her head as a voice speaks "It is the kind of message that you should pay attention to, if you know what is best for you. Now… you shall do exactly as I say… and may God help you if you do not, because no one else will be able to help you. That, I can assure you…"
- To Be Continued…
- Mackenzie Calhoun • Si Cwan • Selar • Elizabeth Shelby • Soleta • Kristian Ayre • Bragonier • Jack Crusher • D'ndai • Data • Delina • Falkar • Giniv • Seth Goddard • Edward Jellico • Kalinda • Krassus • Alynna Nechayev • Paige • Jean-Luc Picard • Will Riker • Ryjaan • Spock • Deanna Troi • Voltak • Yoz • Zina
- Referenced only
- Alexander • Barsamis • Beverly Crusher • Wesley Crusher • Gr'zy • Hugh • James T. Kirk • Morgan Korsmo • Mohammed • Rajari • Kyle Riker • T'Pas • Worf
Starships and vehicles
Races and cultures
- Danteri • Human • Orion • Romulan • Thallonian • Vulcan • Xenexian
- Referenced only
- Andorian • Borg • Tellarite
States and organizations
- Mackenzie Calhoun and Si Cwan make their first appearance in this novel
- Edward Jellico, introduced as a Captain in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command, Part I," has been promoted to Admiral.
- The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-E) appears in this novel with helm officer Lieutenant Kristian Ayre, and Tactical Officer, Lieutenant Paige.
- Elizabeth Paula Shelby, introduced as a Lieutenant Commander in TNG episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I" has been promoted to Commander and most recently served as the Executive Officer of the USS Excalibur.
- Jean-Luc Picard sponsored M'k'n'zy's application to Starfleet Academy as he saw a greatness he did not want to see confined to Xenex. M'k'n'zy decided to attend as he did not want the climax of his life to have occurred at age 19.
- M'k'n'zy changed his name to Mackenzie Calhoun when he became frustrated at the human inability to pronounce his name. His surname, Calhoun, comes from the village on Xenex he grew up in.
- Mackenzie Calhoun was considered to be one of the best officers ever produced by the Starfleet Academy by several officers including Jean-Luc Picard. This reputation was tarnished by a disaster aboard the USS Grissom while Calhoun was serving as first officer under Captain Norman Kenyon. This event was chronicled in the novel The Captains Table #5 Once Burned.
First Novel in Series
|NF numbered novels||Next novel:|
Into the Void
Blaze of Glory
Into the Void
|Voyages of the|
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-E)
What Dreams May Come
|The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2373.|
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in three other timeframes:
Alice, on the Edge of Night
Out of the Frying Pan
Do Comets Dream?