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The Art of the Impossible is a Star Trek novel in The Lost Era series, written by Keith R.A. DeCandido, published in October 2003.


The years are 2328-2346.
To the Cardassians, it is a point of pride. To the Klingons, a matter of honor. But the eighteen-year cold war between these two empires—euphemistically remembered in later years as the Betreka Nebula "Incident"—creates a vortex of politics, diplomacy, and counterintelligence that will define an age, and shape the future.
What begins as a discovery that would enable the Klingon Empire to reclaim a lost piece of its past becomes a prolonged struggle with the rapidly expanding Cardassian Union, which has claimed dominion over a region of space that the Klingons hold sacred. Enter the Federation, whose desire to preserve interstellar stability leads Ambassador Curzon Dax to broker a controversial and tenuous peace—one that is not without opponents, including Lieutenant Elias Vaughn of Starfleet special ops.
But there are wheels within wheels to the drama unfolding in the Betreka Nebula. Within the shadowy rooms of the Cardassian Obsidian Order, Klingon Imperial Intelligence, and even the Romulan Tal Shiar, secret scales are being balanced—and for every gain made for the sake of peace, there will come a loss.


Prologue: On High My Spirit Soars

On an unidentified Klingon world, a father tells his son the legend of Ch'gran: following the Hur'q attack on Qo'noS, the warrior Ch'gran urged the Klingons to set out into space to fulfill their destiny and to save their plundered world. Ch'gran built a fleet of seven starships, all which were lost after sending news that they had found a world to claim. One ship was later found near the Betreka Nebula, but the other six, and Ch'gran's colony, were never found. The prologue ends with the young boy dreaming of finding the Ch'gran colony and bringing glory to the Empire.

Part One: Sound! Sound! My Loud War-Trumpets (2328)

The Cardassian vessel Sontok, under the command of Gul Monor, is surveying planet Raknal V, where they discover the wreckage of an ancient Klingon ship. The Sontok is at the same time being shadowed by the IKS Wo'bortas, under the command of Captain Qaolin, and at the direction of Klingon Imperial Intelligence agent Yovang. Realizing the Cardassians have found the remains of the Ch'gran colony, the Wo'bortas calls in a battle fleet, as the Cardassians call in their own.

The two sides fight to a bloody stalemate, following which the Klingons propose to negotiate for Raknal V, with the Federation as mediators. Ambassador Curzon Dax and Lieutenant Elias Vaughn of Starfleet Special Operations are part of the team hosting the conference aboard the USS Carthage. Dax makes the proposal that both Cardassians and Klingons be allowed to settle on separate continents on Raknal V, the one able to prove best able to manage the planet to then gain full control.

Neither side is entirely pleased with this arrangement, but as neither is in position to fight a prolonged war, both agree. Meanwhile, the Romulan Praetor, Dralath, decides to take a special interest in the situation.

Part Two: A Heavy Chain Iron Descends (2333-2334)

After five years of largely peaceful, if uneasy, co-existence on Raknal V, hostilities are ignited by an orbital collision between the Cardassian freighter Gratok and Klingon passenger transport Chut. Among the dead is General Worf, whose son, Mogh, serves as first officer of the IKS Pu'Bekh under Captain K'mpec. While Mogh insists he has no need for vengenace against Cardassians, he apparently causes the destruction of a Cardassian ship, the Boklar, which Councillor Kravokh has ordered captured and its captain tried for attacks in Klingon space.

Relations deteriorate between Cardassia and the Empire, capped by the death of Klingon Chancellor Ditagh. His successor, Kravokh, places K'mpec on the High Council despite his role in the destruction of the Boklar, and vows a more aggressive stance toward the Cardassians and a restoration of the Empire's former glory.

Part Three: Fierce Flames Burnt Round the Heavens (2343-2346)

Relations between the Cardassians and Klingons have continued to deteriorate over the past several years. Cardassia is becoming more aggressive in their imperialism, while the Klingons continue to build militarily, and seem ready to shrug off their peaceful alliance with the Federation.

The Romulans attempt to take advange of Klingon-Cardassian tensions, first by destroying a Klingon building on Raknal V, designed to look like Cardassian sabotage, then with a direct attack on Narendra III. Despite these changes on the galactic stage, Chancellor Kravokh remains obsessed with Ch'gran and the Cardassians. When Kravokh's obsession results in the diversion of the IKS Sompek away from Khitomer as it is attacked by Romulans, he is challenged and slain by Councilor K'mpec.

Meanwhile, Vaughn and Dax have been investigating Kravokh and learned the reason for his obsession with Ch'gran: Kravokh's ancestor, Klartak, had mutinied when Ch'gran ordered a return to Qo'noS to overthrow the government. Kravokh wished to preserve Ch'gran's legend; K'mpec, however, believes too many warriors have been sacrificed for a single planet, and he cedes Raknal V to Cardassia.

Epilogue: Giv'n to the Strong

On an unidentified Cardassian world, a grandfather tells his granddaughter about the greatness of the Cardassian people, and how they stood up to the Klingons and the Federation to take a planet named Raknal V. The young girl vows to grow up to bring even further glory to Cardassia.



AlnakAltromAmonArisB'alikkBelearCurzon DaxDarnayDe MartisDirakDitaghDovalDralathEkronCorbin EntekRachel GarrettGi'ralGrivakG'ZarVance HadenAlyn HallitzTraya HallitzHamnodJa'rodJ'talKahlestJekri KalehTalen KallarKangDanig KellK'mpecKorKoritKovalKravokhK'TalKurnKurrgoLarkanLigL'KorLorghGran MaritsMoghMonorMoraqNarrkOlettKater OnellSusan PhillipsQaolinHelena RozhenkoSergey RozhenkoRuuvSarekShawn SulmaEnabran TainTalikRaisa TartovskyJuanita TavaresArn TeldinTimolTobiasTokathTolkorT'PrynnDeanna TroiIan Andrew TroiLwaxana TroiElias VaughnWai-Lin LiWorf, father of MoghWorf, son of MoghYovangZarinMichael Zipser
Referenced only
AlbinoAzetburCh'granChangZefram CochraneCowboy RalphDanqoDaqSLela DaxTobin DaxTorias DaxDrew DeighanDurasFek'lhrGantGorkonAmanda GraysonZane GreyHuragaIsaacJ'DoqKaargKaasinKahlessNilani KahnKallJames T. KirkKlartakKolothKrinLilyaLukaraMaraMariqLeonard McCoyLarry McMurtryNarviatOnellParrikPerrinErnest PrattPrellaAlidor RalakRivaNikolai RozhenkoCarl SaganSkonSpockT'LatrekT'MretT'nagKestra TroiVelazquezXelo

Starships and vehicles

Cardassian ships
CDS AlkarCDS BaknabCDS Boklar (Akril-class) • CDS Eldrak (Akril-class) • Galor-classCDS Golnor (Akril-class) • CDS GrannalCDS GratokCDS Pa'DanCDS Sontok (Akril-class)
Earth and Federation ships
USS CarthageHoplite (shuttlecraft) • USS IntrepidWoodlawn (shuttlepod)
Referenced only
USS Enterprise-BUSS Enterprise-CPhoenixUSS Stargazer
Klingon ships
IKS AktuhChut (passenger liner) • IKS Dogal (Birok-class) • IKS GowlakIKS Kazin (Birok-class) • IKS KlothosIKS KonmatIKS KorvaleIKS Pu'BekhIKS Qo'noS OneIKS Sompek (Vakk-class) • IKS Wo'bortas (B'rel-class)
Referenced only
Barge of the Dead


B'Alda'ar BaseBamarrenGre'thorHellQam-CheeQuinorRiver of BloodRomiiSto-Vo-Kor
Colonies and planetary locations
ArinakCardassian Central Command LibraryDakhur HillsDetapa Council headquartersEnglandFirst CityHall of WarriorsHoSghaj RiverKor ThonLikra Mountain RangeQora ForestRaknal CityRoom 2552ShiKahrSutor Mountains
Outposts and space stations
Cardassian Orbital CenterDeep Space Station K-7Korma PassStarbase 24Starbase 47Starbase 343Ty'Gokor
Planets and planetoids
AndorArvada IIIBabelBajorBetazedCapella IVCardassia PrimeCardassia IIChin'toka IIIChin'toka VIDevniadEarthGaultKhitomerLegara IVMempa IVNarendra IIIOrganiaPraxisQo'noSRaknal VRisaRomulusRemusSherman's PlanetTellarTrillVulcanWrigley's Pleasure Planet
Stars and star systems
ArchanisArvadaBarradasBrymaCuellar systemCursa systemDonatuMorskaRaknalSeptimus systemTrelkaUmoth system
Stellar regions
Betreka Nebula
Referenced only
Delta TriangleKlach D'Kel Bracht

Races and cultures

Referenced only

States and organizations

Black FleetBreen ConfederacyCardassian 3rd OrderCardassian Central CommandCardassian UnionDetapa CouncilFerengi Commerce AuthorityHouse of BoralHouse of DurasHouse of KultanHouse of MoghHouse OzhpriImperial IntelligenceKlingon Defense ForceKlingon EmpireKlingon High CouncilObsidian OrderRomulan SenateRomulan Star EmpireStarfleetStarfleet AcademyStarfleet IntelligenceTal ShiarUnited Federation of Planets

Science and classification

airbloodclass-1 probecloudcomputerfistriumgashairheadachekilometerlife signlightlight beaconmeterminiature propulsion systemminutemolecular-decay detonatorpaddparsecphaserphaser rifleqelI'qamrainreceiverrodiniumsecondsensorshatterframeSIpspacestemboltsubspacesubspace transmissionthrustertimetoothtorpedotransmittertransportertricerontricorderT'Shevat's SyndromeType-3 disruptorupdrafturidiumwarp engineweatherzenite

Ranks and titles

ambassadorArbiter of Successionbekkcaptaincommanderdiplomatdoctorfirst officerFirst Speaker of the Councilghojmokgullegatelieutenantlieutenant commanderofficersecond officerSpecial Emissaryspy

Other references

allira punchAltair waterbat'lethbloodwinebody languagebok-ratbregitCalabrese Treatycavechairchech'tluthchiralcitycontinentdirtd'k tahgfoodfuneralgaghghIntaqglassgrakizhgree wormGreekgrishnargristheragrittaHand of KullHaroShatchhevrithillhistoryhorga'hnhullimzadijamaharonkanarkeresKhitomer AccordsKhitomer MassacreleklIngta'Locan powderlogicMauk-to'Vormek'lethMempa Knife Duelmeqba'militarymok'baramonthMy BearofficeOrganian Peace TreatypetaQpipiusplanetQapla'rachtraktajinorankrazorbeastrockrokeg blood pieScotchsehlatSem'hal stewskahtchansohdeSonchi CeremonySoSnI'spacescape paintingstained glasssupply cabinetswordSword of Kahlesstabletaknartargtarkatequilatharultik'lethtlhInghan'atoDSaHTomed Incidenttova'doktrade agreementtralktribbletunicuniformurallviewportvoleVulcan lutevulturewam serpentwarnogwindowyearyIntaghZen



The section titles come from the William Blake poem America: A Prophecy, a favorite poem of the author.



The Lost Era novels
The SunderedSerpents Among the RuinsThe Art of the ImpossibleWell of SoulsDeny Thy FatherCatalyst of SorrowsThe Buried AgeDay of the VipersNight of the WolvesDawn of the EaglesOne Constant Star


published order
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
The Human Factor
Ian Troi section
Pocket Next Adventure:
Vulcan's Heart
Chapter 1
The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2328.
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in five other timeframes:
Previous Adventure:
Chapter 15
Next Adventure:
Previous Adventure:
Chapters 16-18
Next Adventure:
Well of Souls
Previous Adventure:
The Shoulders of Giants
Chapters 19-26
Next Adventure:
An Easy Fast
Sections 12 and 14
Previous Adventure:
The Fourth Toast
Chapters 27-29
Next Adventure:
Sections 1-11
Previous Adventure:
Alice, on the Edge of Night
Section 6
Chapters 30-40
Next Adventure:
Chapter 2, Sections 4-7

External link