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A routine survey of the planet Alpha Octavius Four turns disastrous as Spock is attacked and poisoned by a huge creature and Kirk's landing party is trapped underground by a violent earthquake. As Spock fights for his life in sickbay, Scotty organizes a search for Kirk and his men. However, rescue efforts must cease when the USS Enterprise is called away to the Beta Cabrini system where a mining colony is under attack.

At Beta Cabrini, the USS Enterprise faces off against a Marauder named Dreen - a man that Spock has watched his former captain, Christopher Pike defeat years before. Fighting the effects of the poison, Spock struggles to his feet and takes command of the ship. Soon, Spock and Dreen are locked into a deadly game of cat and mouse - a game driven by mad revenge that can have only one survivor!


The Enterprise is on a survey mission of Octavius Four when Spock is attacked by a tentacled creature which injects him with a poison. After he is beamed back to the ship for treatment, the ground collapses, trapping Kirk and three other crewmembers underground.

Before the Enterprise can mount a rescue attempt, Scotty is ordered to answer a distress call from the Federation mining planet Beta Cabrini. The planet has been attacked and occupied by a group of Merkaan raiders led by Hamesaad Dreen. Spock, who helped Pike thwart Dreen several years previous, manages to control the effects of the poison mentally and take command of the mission.

Once arriving at Beta Cabrini, Spock agrees to beam down after Dreen promises that the Enterprise and the colonists won't be harmed while he's there. On the surface, he gives a coded message to the colony administrator, Bradford Wayne, a former member of Pike's crew. With the assistance of his two pet mesirii, Dreen hunts Spock through the hills until he collapses. By then, however, the colonists have carried out Spock's plan, rigging the minerals the Merkaan have stolen to emit a gas that knocks them all unconscious. Dreen is captured by Chekov before he can kill Spock and he and his men are disarmed and sent on their way.

Back on Octavius Four, Kirk's party have found their way back to the surface. Ensign Karras interprets some hieroglyphs as meaning a sting from a different creature will reverse the effects of the first. When Karras is herself attacked, the theory is proved and used to cure Spock when the Enterprise returns. McCoy realizes the "poison" is actually the creature's gametes and this is the method by which the immobile creatures impregnate each other, using those infected as carriers.



AbdelnabyAutryKinter BalacBeaumontChristine ChapelPavel ChekovCollixJ. Mia ColtHamesaad DreenEllisAnnie FerraraFerriterGarrisonRumiel GreenRon GrossHar HarathSelena KarrasKeeperJames T. KirkKowalskiKyleLeslieMancusoMargolisMarsalM'BengaLeonard McCoyMemsacNumber OneOwensPierceChristopher PikeNils PitcairnSantelliSarifMontgomery ScottSellersSpockHikaru SuluSeemal TezlinJosé TylerNyota UhuraVinaBradford Wayne
Referenced only
Sorra ButhatchefCastelanoMatthew DeckerDerretDeSalleErdelGarth of IzarJohanssonGeorge Samuel Kirk, Jr.Vandren LuarkhMongisPennPiniellaSurakGareed Welt

Starships and vehicles

ClodiaanUSS Enterprise (Constitution-class) • USS Excalibur (Constitution-class) • USS HorizonLisanderMananjaniTelemakhos
Referenced only


Beta CabriniDindamorOctavius IVTalos IV
Referenced only
Abin's WorldAnacarthaginiaBendaliaColoradoC'tinaia VIIDenevaElzibar VIIGamma CatalinasIowaKalajia VIIMercenam IVNorith IVOmicron Ceti IIIRigel VIISoolahn systemStarbase 19Starbase 22Topeka

Races and cultures

Referenced only

States and organizations


Other references

Alice in WonderlandBendal FeverberryberyniumBeyond Antaresbiobedbirthday cakebirthday partybloodbluffbridgebrigcaptain's chaircarthitecavechronometercigarcinnamoncoffeecolonycommunicatordaggerdilithiumdisruptordolacitedurochloric acidduraniumearthquakeFirbolgfootballfossilgas maskgobletgymhamhearthieroglyphhyperthyroidismintercomjunglekendricitelibrarymagnetic bottlemalaniummaledoric acidMaratekkan brandymarrae-marraemedkitmesiriiminingmirrormossmudnargah eggpalacephaserpierogipokerponytailpotatoprincessrec roomrockSaurian brandysedativeshali bahnshieldssickbaySonsfilian feather-lyresupernovaSymphony for Celestials in D Majortheniumthree-dimensional chessthyroidtransportertreetricordertunicturaciteturboliftviewscreenvineVulcan nerve pinchwine


Related stories

Media featuring Christopher Pike
Episodes and movies The Original Series The CageThe Menagerie
Movies Star TrekkStar Trek Into Darknessk
Discovery Will You Take My Hand?BrotherNew EdenPoint of LightAn Obol for CharonSaints of ImperfectionThe Sound of ThunderLight and ShadowsIf Memory ServesProject DaedalusThe Red AngelPerpetual InfinityThrough the Valley of ShadowsSuch Sweet Sorrow
Short Treks Q&AThe Trouble with EdwardAsk Not
Novels Killing TimeaEnterprise: The First AdventureVulcan's GloryLegacyThe RiftWhere Sea Meets SkyBurning DreamsA Less Perfect UnionaThe Children of KingsChild of Two WorldsDesperate HoursThe Enterprise War
Short stories "Conflicting Natures" • "A Private Anecdote" • "Sins of the Mother" • "The Greater Good"m
Comics Early Voyages "Flesh of My Flesh" • "The Fires of Pharos" • "Our Dearest Blood" • "Nor Iron Bars a Cage" • Cloak and Dagger (12) • "The Flat, Gold Forever" • "Immortal Wounds" • "One of a Kind" • The Fallen (12) • "Futures, Part One" • "Future Tense" • "Futures" • "Now and Then" • "Thanatos" • "Nemesis"
Starfleet Academy "Return to the Forbidden Planet" • "A Prelude to War"
Crew "Shadows of the Past" • "The Ends of Eternity"
other "All Those Years Ago..." • "To Walk the Night" • "Door in the Cage" • Alien Spotlight Alien Spotlight, Volume I (VulcansOrions) • Mirror Imagesm (1245) • Spock: Reflections, Issue 2Star Trek Movie Adaptationk (23456) • Captain's Log: PikeAftermath (123)
k : Kelvin timelinem : Mirror Universea : alternate reality


The back cover blurb calls the planet "Alpha Octavius Four"; however, in the novel it is only called Octavius Four.



published order
Previous novel:
TOS numbered novels Next novel:
The Rift
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
The Empath
Pocket Next Adventure:
The Tholian Web
Previous Adventure:
The Empath
Voyages of the
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
(2264 to 2270)
Next Adventure:
The Tholian Web
The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2268.
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in one other timeframe:
Previous Adventure:
The Kobayashi Maru
Chapter 2
chapter 5, section 5
chapter 10, sections 2-6
chapter 13, sections 2-6
Next Adventure:
A Private Anecdote

External links