For other uses, see Precipice.


Operation Vanguard is in chaos.
On a post-apocalyptic world in the Taurus Reach, undercover Starfleet Intelligence agent Cervantes Quinn finds an ancient Shedai conduit. Unfortunately, the Klingons have found it first and sent an army to claim it.
Light-years away on Vulcan, reporter Tim Pennington answers a cryptic call for help and ends up stalking interstellar criminals with an unlikely partner: T'Prynn, the woman who sabotaged his career and is now a fugitive from justice.
Meanwhile, Diego Reyes, former commander of Starbase 47, lives as a prisoner aboard a Klingon starship. But his former enemies aren't seeking revenge. In fact, the only man who knows why Reyes is still alive is the one who arranged his kidnapping and faked his death—the enigmatic Councilor Gorkon.
All their fates, as well as the futures of three great powers, are linked by one thing: the mysterious Mirdonyae Artifact. And unless Doctor. Carol Marcus and Ming Xiong can unlock its secrets in time, it might destroy them all.


Precipice takes place over the entire span of 2267, from January to December.

On his way to prison, Diego Reyes' ship is attacked by pirates and he is kidnapped before the ship is destroyed with all hands. Reyes awakes aboard the Klingon battle cruiser IKS Zin'za. Captain Kutal would rather have killed him but reveals he was saved by an important benefactor. He is soon joined by Ezthene, a Tholian who was captured while trying to defect to Vanguard. A week later they are joined by Councillor Gorkon. It is revealed that Gorkon and Reyes were personal enemies when they were both starship captains. Gorkon now wants their help in convincing the Klingon High Council to sue for peace with the Tholians and Federation. The Klingons soon move to attack Vanguard station where the concluding events of "Open Secrets" take place, after which the Klingons retreat to their border.

Cervantes Quinn has teamed up with Bridget McLellan, or Bridy Mac as she is called (formerly of the USS Sagittarius), and is now working for Starfleet Intelligence. Quinn has gone sober, gotten in shape, and had the Rocinante outfitted with Starfleet technology. The two travel the Taurus Reach seeking out Shedai technology while thwarting the efforts of the UFP's enemies to gather them; one of the reasons Quinn was chosen for the assignment was as a civilian he doesn't have to follow the Prime Directive. Quinn regularly makes passes at Bridy Mac who quickly rebuffs him. They are sent to a planet named Golmira by its inhabitants who called themselves the Denn. The planet has since been visited by other space fairing worlds who found the planet useless. The Denn also reveal that there is a nearby desert which is home to an ancient temple that is said to hold an artifact that predates their species. While Quinn and Bridy Mac investigate the temple from a distance, a Klingon occupation force arrives, secures the temple, and annexes the planet; the two send a message to Starfleet and await direction. Quinn and Bridy Mac are directed by Admiral Heihachiro Nogura to avoid capture and incite a local rebellion in the three months required for Starfleet to deploy help to their location. Quinn reveals he was trained as a mercenary when he was a young man where he learned to kill, improvise, and become a drunk; after leaving, he bought the Rocinante. He then trains the Denn how to be freedom fighters.

T'Prynn covertly meets up with Timothy Pennington who agrees to help her sneak off Vulcan in an effort to redeem herself and restore her career. T'Prynn begins researching the events which have transpired since falling into her coma and concludes the best way to restore herself is to bring to justice whoever killed Reyes. The two steal a small transport from smugglers which Pennington christens the Skylla. While upgrading the vessel, the two discuss their feelings of loss from losing their lovers and form a friendship.

Federation ambassador Jetanien and Klingon ambassador Lugok meet on planet Nimbus III where they spend months waiting for the arrival of Romulan senator D'Tran.

Rana Desai and security chief Haniff Jackson strike up a romance while investigating the destruction of the transport ship USS Malacca in the docking bay the previous year, which they link to Zett Nilric.

Ming Xiong and Carol Marcus discover that the Mirdonyae Artifact is actually a crystalline prison for a living Shedai which is the source of the glowing core. However they have no clue as to who made it or where it came from. Xiong later discovers that every time the artifact has been used to locate Shedai technology on a planet, that planet was destroyed, leaving a total of 11 planets accidentally destroyed by their experimentation. Xiong also begins work on creating a false Jinoteur Pattern which could be used as bait or a weapon against the Shedai.

The Klingons are unable to use the artifacts on Golmira, so Kutal is ordered to have Reyes provide intelligence on how to covertly access Vanguard's vault to steal the Mirdonyae Artifact. Joshua Kane, a professional thief in Ganz's employ is contracted by the Klingons with Ganz's blessing so long as no lives are taken and the theft cannot be linked back to him. Ganz is trying to be allowed to dock at Vanguard again and is disturbed to find out Zett is under investigation for being linked to a bombing he did not sanction.

The Skylla begins eaves dropping on communication from Ganz's ship, the Omari-Ekon. T'Prynn views a communication between Kane and Kutal where she learns where their final transaction is to take place and discovers Kutal is holding Reyes hostage. T'Prynn covertly contacts Desai, telling her a master thief is coming to Vanguard and that Reyes is alive. Desai, however, refuses to converse with a criminal and disconnects without exchanging any information with T'Prynn.

Kane breaks into the Vault and steals the Mirdonyae Artifact but is arrested before he can escape. Jackson is unable to locate the artifact and Kane has a solid alibi, forcing Jackson to release the thief. When Nogura issues an investigation into how he gained access to the Vault, Desai reveals her conversation with T'Prynn and begins to believe the Vulcan was telling the truth. The Skylla observes the transaction between Kane and the Klingons before following the Klingons to their destination- Golmira. Unknown to T'Prynn, Zett was also observing the transaction and pursues also.

Gorkon has Reyes and Ezthene brought to Chancellor Sturka. When he refuses to speak with them, Gorkon has the two released.

Quinn observes the Shedai artifact consume a young Denn girl alive. Soon after, Bridy Mac is captured and strapped to the machine by Zett and the Klingons. She is told that the more people they feed to the machine, the more access to its systems it allows. Mounting a rescue, Quinn crashes the Rocinante into the Klingon barracks and has the Denn begin an attack; T'Prynn takes the opportunity to enter the fray solo. As the battle ensues, the Shedai Wanderer assaults the temple and takes the Mirdonyae Artifact. Quinn kills Zett but then he and Bridy Mac are identified by the Wanderer who recognizes them from Jinoteur IV. She chases them but as she moves in for the kill, the Wanderer is suddenly seized with pain and retreats. Quinn and Bridy Mac then find Zett's ship and escape.

Pennington and a Starfleet security team from the USS Endeavour arrive to aid T'Prynn. They use a small crystal engineered by Xiong to lure the Wanderer to their position. When she attacks them, the crystal is used to trigger a reaction within the Mirdonyae Artifact which hurts the Wanderer, causing her to drop it and flee into deep space. T'Prynn and Pennington are then arrested and returned to Vanguard. The charges against Pennington are dropped and he is released. At her court martial, T'Prynn is found guilty on unlawfully tampering with her medical records, making fraudulent statements under oath, absent without leave, and fleeing prosecution; however, she is found not guilty of dereliction of duty. She is reduced in rank to lieutenant junior grade, has her security clearance reduced, and is placed on disciplinary probation for five years. She goes to work for her replacement, Commander Serrosel ch'Nayla.

The Omari-Ekon arrives at Vanguard carrying Reyes and a crystal which is identical to the Mirdonyae Artifact but empty. Ganz uses them to negotiate the right to dock at the station again but Reyes stays aboard the ship where he cannot be arrested since the ship is Orion territory.

Marcus and Xiong begin studying the new crystal; as they do, the Wanderer attacks Vanguard and boards the station. She rips her way through the decks without obstruction until she reaches the Vault. As she moves to kill the two scientists, Xiong activates the empty crystal which sucks the Wanderer inside where she is helplessly imprisoned.



Vanguard personnel and residentsEdit

Jon CooperRana DesaiYael DohanJudy DunbarIsaiah FarberEzekiel FisherVarech jav GekToby GreenfieldHolmgrenHaniff JacksonAkeylah KaruméKoothrappaliRoberta LengerPeter LiverakosManónCarol MarcusHolly MoyerSerrosel ch'NaylaHeihachiro NoguraTim PenningtonSeklirT'PrynnKalen TarcohMing Xiong
Referenced only 
HofstadterElizabeth LangloisNezreneMatt RomanoSohlDmitri StroutWolowitz

USS Endeavour personnelEdit

Hector EstradaAtish KhatamiStephen KlisiewiczMarielise McCormackPaul McGibbonNeelakantaKatherine Stano

USS Nowlan personnelEdit

Brandon EastonBronwen HodgkinsonKetPaul Sniadach

IKS Zin'za personnelEdit


IKS Rojaq personnelEdit


Omari-Ekon personnelEdit

GanzNeeraZett Nilric

Klingon High CouncilEdit

Gorkon, son of ToqSturka


BubbaYan CovaDocHopalongLirevMudgutsNoarAdeva OrosIlka ParzychNaya ParzychUrova PrenDecin RokonSluggerSpazStretchTaterTurtleEnora Yova


D'tranDochyielErtoborEztheneGarthogJetanienJoshua KaneLugokJabilo M'BengaBridget McLellan (aka "Bridy Mac") • Cervantes QuinnDiego ReyesScalzerDenon VerilShedai WandererZurtmank
Referenced only 
Shedai ApostateArmstrongAyelborneLisa BabitzNapoléon BonaparteLora BrummerChristine ChapelOriana D'AmatoKahlessLeskonLeonard McCoyDenise QuinnAnna SandesjoSarekPercy Bysshe ShelleySobonSpockStenSurakSyanokVanessa TheriaultWeiland

Starships and vehiclesEdit

USS Akhiel (Loknar-class frigate) • Ali BabaUSS Buenos Aires (Miranda-class cruiser) • Dulcinea/IcarionUSS Endeavour (Constitution-class heavy cruiser) • escape podKlingon bird-of-preyUSS Nowlan (Antares-class transport) • Omari-EkonRocinanteIKS RojaqSkyllaworkpodIKS Zin'za
Referenced only 
USS BombayIKS Chech'IwUSS DauntlessUSS DefiantUSS EnterpriseUSS GloucesterUSS IntrepidLanz't TholisUSS LovellUSS MalaccaUSS OremUSS SagittariusTremina (frigate)


Ajilon Prime (Tanada Bay) • AmonashGolmira/Gr'oth (DoanhainHinterlandsLeuck ShirePrecursor templeTegoresko) • NevasaNimbus IIIOgatVanguard (Café RomanoFontana MeadowManón'sSecurity centerStarfleet Intelligence liaison officeStars LandingTom Walker'sVanguard HospitalVault) • Taurus ReachT'KhutVulcan (Khomir PassKren'thanL-langon MountainsShiKahrShiKahr SpaceportShival FlatsToth'SenWater-collection station)
Referenced only 
Beta Rigel (Kefvenek) • Borzha IICoridan IIICygnarDeep Space Station K-7Delta LeonisDenobulaEarth (New ZealandNew Zealand Penal Settlement) • Gamma Tauri IVJinoteur IVMarsMirdonyae VNisusOfficers' clubOmicron CetiOmicron Ceti IIIQo'noS (First City) • Risa (Midas Casino) • RomulusRura PentheSector FourSolSomraw AnchorageSto-vo-korTammeronTellarVodrey NebulaZeta Aquilae

Races and culturesEdit

AndorianArcturanBaldukBolianChelonDeltanDenn (Goçeba) • EfrosianHumanKlingonNaloriOrionRigellianRomulanShedaiTellariteTholianTiburonianVulcan
Referenced only 

States and organizationsEdit

Judge Advocate GeneralKlingon EmpireKlingon High CommandKlingon High CouncillandgravesRomulan Star EmpireStarfleetStarfleet IntelligenceTholian AssemblyUnited Federation of Planets
Referenced only 
Cygnar-Ralon Interstellar ShippingDaystrom InstituteFederation CouncilFederation News ServiceImperial IntelligencePolitical CastemootRuling Conclave of the Tholian AssemblyStarfleet CommandStarfleet MedicalStarfleet SecuritySyanok Import-ExportVulcan Science Academy

Science and technologyEdit

all-terrain vehicleammoniaantimatter fuel podartificial gravityasteroidbaryonic arrayBerthold raybeta wavesbinocularsbiometric sensorchroniton gaugecoil spannercommunication relaycommunicationscommunicatorcomputercomputer scienceconduitcoolantdata carddata slatedecouplerdilithiumdilithium matrixdisruptorDNAduraniumenvironmental suitfirmwarefood slotforcefieldhibernation podhoming beaconhovercarhyposprayicospectrogramimpulse driveinertial dampenerimpulse driveinfrasonic frequencyJinoteur Patternlife-supportMirdonyae Artifactmirrormonitormonsoonpainstikpalm beaconparametric scannerphaserplasma blasterplasma conduitpower cellpower-distributionproteinradioreclamatorrecorderRubindium-transponder transporter recall braceletsatelliteshieldsonic screwdriverstructural integrity fieldsubspacesubspace echotannot oreTaurus meta-genomethrustertimetransparent aluminumtranspondertransportertransuranictricorderultritiumuniversal translatorwarp corewarp drivewarp nacellewarp shadowXenopolycythemiazero-gravity

Ranks and titlesEdit

admiralambassadorassassinassistant security chiefcaptainChancellor of the High Council of the Klingon Empirechief medical officerchief petty officercrewmancommandercommodorecouncilorcriminalcynosuredoctorensignfirst officerforensic specialistgeneticisthelmsmanintelligence officerjournalistlawyerlieutenantlieutenant commanderlieutenant junior grademercenarymerchantmerchant princenavigatorOrion Ambassador to the United Federation of Planetspetty officer third classpiraterear admiralscience officerscientistsecurity chiefsenatorshahzadismugglersoldiertheoretical physicistthiefwaiteryeoman

Other referencesEdit

225422602261anchorArgelian cashewsAWOLaylakimBabel ConferencesBattle of Ravanar IVbeerThe Blood Countryblueberrybreadbridgebrigbulkheadcargo baychicken noodle soupclub sodacockpitcocoacollegecoffeecombat tacticsThe Complete Works of William Shakespearecorridorcredit chipcrowbardayd'k tahgdocking bayDon Quixote (de la Mancha)Federation CharterFirst Guaranteefishingfishing rodflight operationsFrench roastgaghGeneral Order 24glassesgoschmol mushroomsgravygurambahammockhazmat suitjazzk'kareekatraKeesalandgravelanka-garLe-matyalimemandalameditation templemellulmenhirn'v'aanymockOperation VanguardOzymandiasPacifican seagrasspasta pestopear cobblerpetaQpu'pianoplea bargainplomeek souppokerPrime Directivepunching bagquintotriticaleracquetballraspberrysafety harnesssaltsandstormsaxophonesinkholesoccersolsticeStarfleet Code of Military JusticeSunrise on Zeta Minorswordtannot oretargteaterrestrial enclosureTexas Hold 'EmTreaty of Organiavegetablevegetable wrapvoodoowateryIntagHpu'yosa blade


  • The working title for this book was Flashpoint, however editor Marco Palmieri suggested it take a different title as "Flash Point" was already the title of a Star Trek short story. [1]

Related storiesEdit

Stories featuring Starbase Vanguard
Star Trek: Vanguard novels HarbingerSummon the ThunderReap the WhirlwindOpen SecretsPrecipiceWhat Judgments ComeStorming Heaven
Short stories and novellas Distant Early WarningThe Black FlagDeclassified (Almost TomorrowHard NewsThe Ruins of Noble MenThe Stars Look Down) • In Tempest's Wake


Published Order
Previous novel:
Open Secrets
Vanguard novels Next novel:
Previous story:
For Want of a Nail
Stories by:
David Mack
Next story:
The Sorrows of Empire
Chronological Order
Previous adventure:
not yet placed
Memory Beta Chronology Next adventure:
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