- Starfleet was everything for Cristóbal Rios – until one horrible, inexplicable day when it all went wrong. Aimless and adrift, he grasps at a chance for a future as an independent freighter captain in an area betrayed by the Federation, the border region with the former Romulan Empire. His greatest desire: to be left alone.
- But solitude isn’t in the cards for the captain of La Sirena, who falls into debt to a roving gang of hoodlums from a planet whose society is based on Prohibition-era Earth. Teamed against his will with Ledger, his conniving overseer, Rios begins an odyssey that brings him into conflict with outlaws and fortune seekers, with power brokers and relic hunters across the stars.
- Exotic loves and locales await – as well as dangers galore – and Rios learns the hard way that good crewmembers are hard to find, even when you can create your own. And while his meeting with Jean-Luc Picard is years away, Rios finds himself drawing on the Starfleet legend's experiences when he discovers a mystery that began on one of the galaxy's most important days…
Cristobal Rios is attempting to purchase a freighter. It is only after he takes it for an unauthorised test flight that he learns it is owned by a gang of Iotian criminals named the Convincers. He only escapes being killed because he has enough latinum for a down payment but is left with a lengthy payment plan for the rest. Instead, he spends the next three months alone in deep space. In order to protect the investment, Convincers boss Arkko places her former counter Ledger on board to keep an eye on him.
Between them, Rios and Ledger manage to hire a crew: monosyllabic Nausicaan Glake, nervous Benzite Yerm and a pair of timid Miradorns. Their first run is a disaster thanks to Glake's misuse of the transporter and Yerm's drug addiction, which sees him quickly leave the ship after admitting to Rios he was paid to join the crew. However, it does bring them into contact with the collector Kivas Fajo. A Ferengi, Hain, reveals that the ship's previous captain, a Klingon named Verengan, was helping him with deliveries of manure to a planetary reclamation charity called the Sylvus Project and Rios agrees to make the last run.
The La Sirena crew meet with the organization's eccentric head, Javen, and his niece Liselle. Their chief of security, Royce Claggett, is an old colleague of Rios' from the ib Majid, who was dismissed from Starfleet when Rios reported him for brutality towards prisoners. Hain falls ill and Javen refuses to hand over the book he promised as payment. Claggett uses a mixture of Ledger's criminal history and false stories about Rios' departure from Starfleet to turn Liselle against the crew, who flee after stealing Javen's entire book collection.
Rios agrees to hold an auction for Fajo on board the ship. Hain dies and Rios meet with his brother Sovak. He realises several parties are pursuing a mysterious sphere Verengan left behind. During the auction, he reveals it contains an "actuality", a holographic painting done by a mysterious artist known as "Parch", depicting General Chang watching the explosion of Praxis. The book Hain and Sovak were after was a stained folio featured in the actuality, proving it's authenticity: Yerm was in their employ. Arkko claims ownership of it and Fajo buys it from her. Sovak also falls ill.
Ledger takes a job with Fajo, the Miradorns resign and Glake flees the ship after trying to steal the actuality, having given Fajo a fake. Rios is forced to rely on the ship's holograms, who he accidentally initialised with his own appearance, and together they work out both Sovak and Hain were poisoned by Fajo introducing a Ferengi food supplement to the ship's replicators which becomes toxic when mixed with alcohol. Sovak recovers.
Fajo threatens Ledger, and kills one of his researchers, in order to get his hands on the actuality. Rios pulls an elaborate deception that strands Arkko, sets the Convincers at each other's throats and allows him to rescue Ledger. She explains Fajo's real reason for wanting the actuality: It contains a clue to Parch's last hiding place, complete with collection of gifts. Fajo and Ledger follow the clues to Sherman's Planet, where Parch is revealed to be Javen's sister Avaleth. Javen, Liselle and Claggett arrive and explain their reasons for sabotaging the quest and for Avaleth's self-imposed exile: Learning of Gorkon's peace process and wanting to help, she arranged Chang's meeting with Admiral Cartwright and Nanclus, leading to Gorkon's assassination.
Rios and Ledger arrange for Fajo to be arrested for the murders of Hain and the researcher, with the actuality ending up in the hands of Vash, who had employed Glake and was posing as another one of Fajo's staff. Ledger takes a job with Liselle and arranges for Rios to be granted full ownership of La Sirena.
- Arkko • Avvy • Azetbur • Marta Batanides • Bonnalo • Burze • Royce Claggett • Dinky • Emil • Emmet • Enoch • Kivas Fajo • Froo-Zoo • Choda Garrol • Glake • Gorkon • Hain • Mr. Hospitality • Javen • Koloth • Alys Ledjo • Liselle • Leonard McCoy • Melton Moyles • Raffi Musiker • Myra • Ny-Var • Parch • Jean-Luc Picard • Xandra Quimby/Vash • Cristóbal Rios • Sevastian • Sovak • Spock • Stench • Palor Toff • Torav • Verengan • D. S. Whalen • Wolyx • Yerm • Zo-Var
- Referenced only
- Abraham • Hans Christian Andersen • Jonathan Archer • Bakinski • Lance Cartwright • Chang • Chaplin • Cleopatra • Zefram Cochrane • Data • Jacques Derrida • Duras • Antoine Galland • Ghuva • Grokh • Guinan • Texas Guinan • Hesiod • Wu Hezar • Ider • Isaac • Junipah • Kahless • Kang • Kavaj • James T. Kirk • Korrd • Kruge • Belle Livingstone • L'Rell • Molor • Helen Morgan • Nanclus • Orzat • Q • Quark • Galvarino Riveros • George Sand • Surak • Swanson • T'kasa • T'Pau • Mark Twain • Varria • John Wesley • Patrick West • Oscar Wilde • Zinnell
Starships and vehicles
- La Sirena • Sylvus Bestri • Velvet Glove
- Argelius II • Benzar • Iraatan V • Iraatan system • Irtok • Krellen's Keep • Nelphia Prefecture • Pergazia system • Ruji Baroda • Sherman's Planet • Theta Zibal III • Verex III • Verex Prime
- Referenced only
- Alpha Carinae II • Earth • Ferenginar • Giles Belt • Kavadda III • Khitomer • Lorillia • Lya IV • Lya Station • Mars • Nel Bato • New York • Praxis • Qo'noS • Risa • Romulan Neutral Zone • Siberia • Sigma Iotia II • Starbase 234 • Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards • Valt Minor
Races and cultures
- Andorian • Argelian • Bajoran • Benzite • Cardassian • Ferengi • Hologram • Human • Iotian • Klingon • Lurian • Miradorn • Nausicaan • Orion • Romulan • Tellarite • Trill • Valtese • Zibalian
States and organizations
- Convincers • Core Breaches • Cynosure Recoveries • Federation • Ferengi Alliance • Interspecies Medical Exchange • Iotian Syndicate • Klingon Empire • Starfleet • Sylvus Project • University of Oneamisu
Science and classification
Ranks and titles
- assayer • captain • collection agent • collection disposition agent
- All Our Lives • Battle of Angamos • Chicago Mobs of the Twenties • clothing • day • Dominion War • glink • hospital • Klingon opera • latinum • musical instrument • Pacific War • The Songs of Uthalla • spaceport • targ • A Thousand and One Nights • warehouse • zylladon
- PIC episodes: "The End is the Beginning", "Broken Pieces"
- TOS episode: "A Piece of the Action"
- TNG episodes: "The Most Toys", "Captain's Holiday"
- DS9 episode: "Q-Less"
The Dark Veil
|Picard unnumbered novels||Next novel:|
to be announced
The Enterprise War
John Jackson Miller
to be announced