- Ever since the fall of the Thallonian Empire, Si Cwan has been searching for his younger sister, the only other survivor of the royal family. His quest has been a hard one, filled with many disappointments, but now it may be nearing its end…
- On the planet Montos, a mysterious young woman, whose past is shrouded in secrecy, finds herself pursued by both the fanatical Redeemers and a vicious race of feral predators known only as the Dogs of War. All are in search of information regarding the true nature and location of the Quiet Place, a mystical realm celebrated in myth and legend. Only this same woman, now called Riella, may hold the secret of the Quiet Place, a secret that the Redeemers and others will kill to possess.
- Is Riella indeed Si Cwan's long-lost sister? Before he can learn the truth, he and his crewmates must brave the unchecked savagery of the Dogs of War—and enter the terrifying heart of the Quiet Place.
On the planet Montos, Malia and her daughter Riella are performing housework. Riella has been having persistent nightmares, but Malia is concerned that Riella is no longer discussing them. She is unsure if this is because they are no longer occurring, or because Riella no longer wishes to talk about them.
Riella surprises her mother by stating that she is going out for a walk, something that she rarely does. Malia displays concern over this, but Riella points out that she never gets to go out, because of her mother’s overprotectiveness.
Before allowing her to leave, Malia insists that Riella must take her ‘medication’ first. After Riella leaves, Malia reflects on her daughter and hopes that she will not have to kill her.
Riella leaves the city and falls asleep in a mossy clearing. Her nightmares repeat and she dreams of whispering voices calling her name through a mist. There is a red man in her nightmare that she tries to escape. The voices are repeating a name, but she can’t quite make it out… Zorn…
Malia awakens Riella after searching for her through the night. She asked whether Riella has had the dreams again. Riella lies and tells her that she has slept well, without any dreams.
Robin Lefler returns to her quarters, where her mother; Morgan Primus is waiting. She guesses that Robin has been in a meeting with Si Cwan, noting that she always comes back from these in deep thought. Lefler expresses dissatisfaction with the fact that she considers Cwan to be keeping her at an emotional distance lately. After debating the topic, Morgan recommends that Lefler approach Cwan to tell him about the feelings she has for him.
Lefler leaves her quarters with a resolve to come straight out and discuss these feeling with Cwan. She reflects on the fact that Cwan hasn’t selected her to join him on his latest diplomatic mission to Montos, instead electing to take Zak Kebron and Soleta. Lefler suspects that this is an attempt to keep her at an emotional distance, but she firmly believes that she should be included in any such mission.
Lefler, ready to confront Cwan, rings the chime to his quarters. After being advised to “Come”, she closes her eyes, marches into the quarters and expresses her attraction for Cwan. Upon opening her eyes, she finds not Cwan, but Captain Calhoun sitting in the quarters.
Calhoun explains that Cwan has already left for Montos and has permitted Calhoun to review some of the books he has on the Thallonian Empire. Cwan has requested that Calhoun read the books in his quarters, so that they do not go missing. After confirming that the feelings are not about him, she tells Calhoun to forget anything that she requests that he forget the incident took place.
Xyon is being held prisoner on Barspen, awaiting execution for the crime of stealing holy treasures. Foutz, the Barspen executioner leads Xyon through a hysterical crowd to his place of very public execution. The proposed method is dismemberment of the convicted.
Foutz reads the list of accusations, demanding a plea from Xyon, who does not offer one, accusing the whole process as a joke. His accuses the Barspens of looting their treasures from other cultures, claiming that the people of Ysonte had hired him to retrieve these. Frustrated by his defiance, Foutz accuses Xyon of blasphemy and admitting to the theft. He confirms the sentence of death. Xyon however is undeterred by this, explaining that Foutz will not be able to kill him, because he has seen his own destiny and this is not his fate.
For his continued defiance, Foutz decides to make Xyon’s death as slow and painful as possible, electing to begin by removing his tongue. As Foutz brings the knife forward, Xyon flinches as he realises that the he can’t confirm that when he meets his destiny, he will still have a tongue.
Just as Foutz is about to remove Xyon’s tongue, a squadron of small fighters attacks the planet. During the uproar, Xyon is able to break free from the fleeing guards and keeps his promise to Foutz to break his neck, once the opportunity presents itself.
After escaping Xyon takes cover and witnesses the attackers leaving their crafts to launch a ground assault. The assailants are a group of vicious breast-like creatures who begin their rampage, but do not spot Xyon.
Instead of returning to his ship to make his escape, Xyon decides to pursue the attackers to find out why they have attacked Barspen and what they are looking for.
The attackers are revealed as The Dogs of War, a group of pirates and marauders, so christened by a Federation journalist. They were genetically engineered from animals, to be soldiers, but have since rebelled and pursued their own interests.
The Dogs have come to Barspen to track down an aging Thallonian warrior; Sumavar. Sumavar is tortured by Rier; the leader of The Dogs. Rier demands to know the location of the one called Riella. After a lengthy torturing, Sumavar eventually gives Rier the location of Riella. Before he dies, Sumavar tells Rier that he knows that they are seeking The Quiet Place and warns that should they find it, they will envy him for already being dead.
After leaving to return to their ships, Krul, one of the Dogs, catches a smell of blood in the air. Believing that this will prove to be an easy kill, he follows the scent. However, he finds that the source of the scent is only a bloodied shirt and realizes that he has been lured into a trap. Xyon attacks Krul and manages to overpower him by using a telepathic link. As well as rendering Krul unconscious, Xyon manages to learn the details of the Dogs plan and discovers where they are heading.
Xyon makes his way back to where the Dogs mother ship has landed. He boards the vessel and dispatches the remaining crew. Aiming the hijacked vessels’ own weapons at itself and the Dogs smaller craft in an effort to slow them down and beat them to Montos.
Rier dispatches his senior lieutenants, including Atik; the only Dog to carry any weaponry, his two ‘long claw’ swords, to track down the party responsible for destroying their ships.
Xyon escapes the carnage and returns to his ship, the Lyla. Before the Lyla can take off, Atik finds them, clearly making mental notes of Xyon’s face. Xyon wonders if he has truly escaped the Dogs, or simply had a stay of execution.
On Montos, Riella is still plagued by the recurring nightmares and the visions of the ‘Red Man’ who pursues her. She awakens from her dream, but manages to not scream out and alert her mother.
The now awake Riella hears her mother talking to someone outside of her bedroom. This greatly surprises Riella as she cannot recall the last time that anyone has visited their home. She moves to her door to listen in on the conversation her mother is having with the stranger. Riella is shocked to discover that she is the topic of her conversations, specifically her dreams. Malia tells the man of Riella’s claims that the dreams have ceased, but the mysterious figure believes it to be more likely that she is attempting to deceive Malia.
Malia reveals the strangers name to be Zoran; a name that Riella remembers from her dreams as the ‘Red Man’ who pursues her. Zoran tells Malia that they have little time and that they must decipher Riella’s dreams soon, as The Dogs of War are now on her trail. Either this or Malia will have to kill Riella.
Riella returns to her bed, attempting to convince herself that this must be some kind of lucid nightmare. Zoran leaves, instructing Malia that she must inquire about Riella’s dreams in the morning. He warns her that two corpses are just as easy to dispose of.
In the morning Riella still tries to convince herself that the episode was all a dream, but when asked about her dream, she tells Malia that they have ceased.
On Montos, Si Cwan, Soleta and Kebron hold a meeting with the Ruling Council. After being left for several hours, a single, elderly Montosian enters the hall and claims to be the only remaining member of their ruling council, the others having passed away. He identifies himself as Fr’Col.
It becomes clear to the away team that Fr’Col’s mental facets are fading. After becoming frustrated by their directionless meeting, Si Cwan reassumes his Thallonian authority and insists that Fr’Col give consideration to his plan to have the former worlds of the Thallonian Empire form an alliance, similar to that of the United Federation of Planets. Fr’Col explains that Montosians have generally preferred to keep themselves to themselves and that they consider themselves to have been short-changed in deals they have previously made with other worlds. He adjourns the meeting to consider Si Cwan’s proposal, but shortly after returns and to the bafflement of the away team, requests to know who they are.
Xyon arrives at Riella and Malia’s house on Montos. He knocks on the door and is met by Malia who demands to know who he is. Xyon explains that she would not know him, but that he is aware of Riella’s existence. He tries to warn Malia that The Dogs of War are coming for Riella and that she should flee, but Malia refuses to let him into her house or listen to what he has to tell her. Upon trying to force his way into the house, he is met by Zoran who beats him to the ground and warns him to stay away, closing the door on Xyon.
After considering breaking into the house, Xyon hears something that sounds as if someone has just broken out. At the back of the house he finds a makeshift rope dangling from an upstairs window. He sets off in pursuit of the escapee.
It is revealed that Riella has fled her home and mother after overhearing another conversation between Malia and Zoran. She is also beginning to form doubts about Malia and questions whether or not she is, in fact, her mother, or an imposter.
Riella leaves the city and runs for the mountains, falling and cutting her leg in the process. It is not long before she realizes that she is being pursued. Turning to face her pursuers, she is met by two of The Dogs of War, Atik and Fista. They have tracked the scent of her blood. Riella then realises that she has run straight into an invisible object; Xyon’s cloaked ship, Lyla. She is knocked unconscious by the impact.
Xyon holds the Dogs at gunpoint, but is disarmed by the havoc caused by The Dogs’ ships bombardment of the city. After a struggle, Xyon overpowers Atik and takes Riella onto Lyla, escaping with her.
Reports of the attack on Montos from The Dogs of War filter in to the Ruling Council’s chamber. During the panic, Kebron demands that order. He and Si Cwan agree that the attackers are most likely The Dogs of War. Fr’Col begs the away team to assist them in repulsing the attack, confirming that the previously dealing the Montosians had with off-worlders resulted in their being sold a squadron of one-man fighter craft.
Si Cwan agrees that the away team will pilot three of the craft to help battle the Dogs, but demands an oath from Fr’Col in return that he will agree to Montos becoming part of the intended alliance of worlds. Fr’Col agrees to this demand and the three ships head into battle.
The away team is able to repel some of the Dogs’ fighters and after a short battle, the remaining ships retreat back to their lead vessel. Noticing a carrier ship on the ground, Cwan moves in to discover a group of the Dogs on the ground moving carrying a prisoner out of a ruined house. From the skin colour, Cwan identifies the individual as a Thallonian. After scattering the remaining Dogs with phaser fire from his fighter, Cwan lands his craft to mount a rescue to the prisoner.
Si Cwan approaches the Thallonian, enquiring as to his state, but the individual turns, revealing himself to with Zoran. Before Cwan can do anymore than say Zoran’s name, they both realise that the Dogs have dropped a grenade close to them. Both Cwan and Zoran run for cover before the device explodes, the resulting impact knocking Cwan unconscious.
Some time later, Kebron and Soleta locate Si Cwan, who has been injured in the blast. Cwan informs them that Zoran had been there, just before the explosion and insists that they must locate him. Instead of Zoran, the away team finds Malia in the rubble; she has not only been injured by the attack, but also clearly tortured by the Dogs. Before she dies, Malia pleads with the away team to save Riella. They deduce that the Dogs were clearly pursuing someone and that this was not a random attack.
Soleta tells the others that Malia’s last words made no sense and that she mentioned something about a ‘Quiet Place’. Soleta asks Cwan if he has ever heard of this. He abruptly tells her that he knows nothing of it. Kebron notes that he is surprised to find out that Cwan is such a bad liar
Riella awakens on Xyon’s ship in a panic. She lashes out and hits Xyon, who is left with no recourse, but to slap her across the face. However, instead of calming Riella, the slap knocks off her antenna, a feature of Montosian physiology.
Riella comes to and questions Xyon on who he is and how she came to be where she is. Xyon explains the rescue, he assures her that she is not his prisoner, but explains that she cannot leave. Upon finding that her antennas have fallen off, Riella accuses Xyon of mutilating her. Riella demands to be released and Xyon permits her to leave his quarters. She enters the bridge and is shocked to find that she is on a spacecraft. Xyon confirms that this is why she cannot leave. Riella tells him that she has never left Montos before.
Xyon asks Riella about the Quiet Place and she is shocked to discover that he is aware of something from her dreams. She demands to know who Xyon is and what he wants with her. Xyon explains that he rescued her from the Dogs. Riella insists that she must return to sleep, despite only just waking up. She disappears, but after only a moment begins screaming and then returns to the bridge. She tells Xyon to move the ship, so she can she see the stars. Riella focuses on one area of space and Xyon suggests that she view his star charts. She tells him that she does not know what she is looking for, an answer that Xyon expects.
After some time, Xyon begins to notice that Riella’s skin tone has changed from the pale Montosian to a darker, redder complexion. She tells Xyon that she knows he did not remove her antenna. Riella gives Xyon a location on the star charts and tells him to set a course. Xyon identifies it as Star 7734, a system with no planetary bodies. Although he explains this to her, Riella demands that he take her there and Xyon agrees.
Alone on the bridge, Riella questions Lyla on her origins. Lyla explains that she is more than a standard ship computer interface. She is a sentient being; a homogeny of a computer and an entity. Lyla does not give details about her former self, but simply explains that she was a very bad person and that her punishment, or possibly salvation was to form part of the ship. She also explains that Xyon stole her from the Daystrom Institute, but that she stays with him through her own choice.
Riella falls asleep and again dreams of the Quiet Place, but this time there are two red men in her dream, Zoran and another. Xyon, who explains that Lyla has been caught by a tractor beam, jolts Riella awake. A Redeemer ship has caught them. Xyon confirms that his fate is safe, but that her only options are either to be captured or to commit suicide. Riella expresses frustration with Xyon; she tells him that she had thought him to be a hero. Xyon explains that he is, but possibly not her hero.
On board the Redeemer vessel, the new Prime One advises The Overlord that they have captured the vessel containing the girl. The Overlord decides to keep hold of Xyon’s ship after Prime One advises him that it contains a Romulan cloaking device and a seemingly sentient computer. He then proceeds to conduct the interrogation of the girl and explains his intention to use Xyon as a tool in this.
Xyon is led to the interrogation chamber, where Riella is strapped to a torture device. He is shocked to discover that the Redeemers are among the shorter races of the galaxy, barely hitting four feet. The Overlord warns Xyon that he has the ability to kill him with just a word and to demonstrate he utters something that knocks Xyon to the floor. The Overlord explains that he is privy to secrets of the universe and that these ancient words give him great power over people. Xyon instantly forgets the word itself as soon as he hears it.
It is revealed that the Redeemers are also seeking the location of The Quiet Place and threaten that Riella will be tortured unless she surrenders the its location. Without hesitation, Riella tells the Overlord that the location is Star 7734. Not believing that she would give up the secret so readily, the Redeemers begin to torture Riella, assuming that the barren location she has given then is simply a ruse.
Unable to convince the Overlord that Riella is speaking the truth of The Quiet Place’s location, Xyon asks whether there is a word that can be used to obtain the truth from someone. The Overlord confirms that there is, but the reason he has not used it, is that it would almost certainly prove fatal to whoever heard it. Xyon agrees to take this chance and The Overlord says the word, forcing Xyon to spill facts about everything including confirmation that Riella has told him that the location of the Quiet Place is indeed Star 7734, he then collapses. Whilst The Overlord accepts that Xyon believes this to be the true location, he is not satisfied that Riella was telling him the truth and so continues the torture.
Whilst they continue to torture Riella, the Redeemer vessel is attacked by The Dogs of War. The Overlord leaves the interrogation to deal with the attack. The remaining Redeemers elect to remove Xyon’s body from the room before he returns, but as they do so, Xyon comes to and overpowers them. He reveals that his own mental resources allowed him to withstand The Overlord’s assault.
Liberating Riella from the torture device, she and Xyon make their escape. After using his telepathic powers on one of the Redeemers he ascertains the location of the shuttlebay where they are keeping Lyla. They make their way to a turbolift and are met by Atik and Vacu.
Vacu abducts Riella and Xyon’s arm is injured during a knife fight with Atik. The pair of them are forced to flee into the turbolift when a troop of Redeemers advance on them. Explaining that he considers Xyon to be his nemesis and equal, Atik tells him that he will wait for another opportunity to do battle with him and the Dogs escape with Riella as their prisoner.
Xyon makes his way back to the shuttlebay and after overpowering the guards, flees the Redeemer vessel in Lyla. He attempts to set a course for Star 7734 with hope of mounting a rescue of Riella, but Lyla advises that she cannot comply because the warp drive and navigation have been damaged. Deciding that he only has one option, Xyon decides to decloak the ship and send out a distress call.
Aboard the Dogs’ ship Rier interrogates Riella. When she provides the location of the Quiet Place at Star 7734, Rier agrees to set a course, despite Krul’s insistence that there is nothing in the system. He warns Riella that if she is trying to deceive them, that he will allow Krul to kill her.
Lyla informs Xyon that a ship has responded to their distress call. A Starfleet runabout has offered assistance. Xyon expresses a disliking to Starfleet, but does not go into detail when questioned by Lyla.
Because the Starfleet craft is only small, Xyon advises Lyla that they will likely be unable to perform repairs to her and he will be forced to leave her. Upon hearing this Lyla ask Xyon to promise her that he will not, he agrees and promises her that he will get the Starfleet team to assist in repairs before leaving.
Kebron beams aboard the Lyla and Xyon explains his story; that he needs to rescue a young girl named Riella from the Dogs of War and that they are trying to coerce her into taking them to The Quiet Place. After hearing her name, Kebron tells him that he wants to beam back to the runabout so he can relay his story. He tells Xyon to pay close attention to the red-skinned one’s reaction.
Aboard the runabout Kebron quizzes Cwan on The Quiet Place, demanding to know what this is and why he lied about his knowledge of it. Cwan explains that it is a closely guarded secret. He explains that it is said to be heaven, or hell, that those who have been there come back changed, for better or worse and that rumours tell of a race that lives in it. He also clarifies that the only way to find this Quiet Place is to receive a summons. On Thallon a princess receives the summons every few generations. They would one day leave Thallon, with no warning and return, speaking only vaguely of where they have been.
Cwan explains that his sister, Kalinda, would be about the right age to receive this summons. Upon hearing this, Xyon remembers that Riella’s skin had been turning from the pale Montosian pigment into a darker red, like Cwan’s. He is able to patch through to Lyla and bring up a picture of Riella taken by the onboard sensors. Cwan is shocked and confirms that this is Kalinda. Soleta hypothesises that her DNA could have sequenced to make her appear Montosian and that as she has left that world, she would no longer be receiving these treatments. As a result her natural DNA would be reasserting itself.
Demanding to know the location of his sister, Cwan attacks Xyon after he states that he will only provide that information once they have fixed Lyla. Conceding that he has no choice, Cwan gives him his word that he will not leave the ship behind and Xyon provides the location as Star 7734.
Elsewhere Zoran is covertly pursuing the Dogs of War, who he has been tracking since leaving Montos. It is revealed that he is responsible for hiding Kalinda and disguising her as a Montosian, in a bid to have her lead him to The Quiet Place, once she received the summons.
The Dogs of War arrive at Star 7734 and find nothing in the sector. Rier brings Riella to their bridge and demands to know where to go next. He instructs her to work with the navigator, Omon to find the location of The Quiet Place. She identifies a nebula as the area they should proceed to. The Dogs’ sensors struggle to scan beyond the nebula’s edge, but Atik manages to locate what appears to be a planet within it. Rier orders an away team be assembled and sent down.
The team is beamed down to the planet, but the beam is bounced back to the Dogs’ ship. The Dogs who beamed down are returned as a disfigured mess of all three members of the away team. Rier orders it beamed into space and decides that they will have to send a shuttle to the planet. He leads the team himself, taking Omon, Krul and Riella with him and leaves Atik in charge of their ship.
During their sweep of the planet, Omon locates a small area, no larger than a mile across that he can only describe as an atmospheric oasis. Before they can set down, the shuttle receives a communication from their ship; Atik tells them that a Starfleet runabout and a Thallonian shuttle have attacked them. However, he confirms that the Thallonian vessel has been disabled and the runabout destroyed.
Kebron, Cwan, Soleta and Xyon are revealed to have transported to the now cloaked Lyla, before their runabout was destroyed. Lyla locates the small area of atmosphere on the planet and the ship goes in. Soleta tells the others that she has a feeling that they will encounter something extremely unscientific.
The Dogs arrive on the atmospheric oasis and find nothing of any discernable interest. Rier demands that Riella tell him where the immortality and riches are, but she informs him that it is all around him.
Both the away team and Zoran land on the planet and demand that the Dogs release Riella to them. Zoran threatens to kill Cwan, but Riella tells him that he won’t be able to with his phaser, as weapons won’t function in The Quiet Place. Accepting that weapons will not work, Rier advances on the other planning to use his still functioning claws, but before he can reach them a vortex forms in the sky and the screaming voices surround them all.
Riella, or Kalinda becomes seemingly possessed by the voices and tells them that they are the souls of all the people that they have each killed, or helped to kill and that they will all be trapped in The Quiet Place forever.
Aboard the Dogs vessel, Atik is informed that they are losing all sensor trace of the planet. He orders them to retreat from the planet, but to continue to try and hail Rier and the others.
On the planet the screaming voices are tormenting all. The Dogs, Xyon, Cwan, Zoran are overpowered and begin to attack one another. However, Soleta is able to block the attacks, due to her mental discipline, while Kebron is unfazed by the screaming voices. Kebron attempts to stop Kalinda’s attack, but Soleta intervenes and grabs her, taking her to the Lyla. However, whilst carrying her, Soleta loses her footing and Kalinda falls on her. Their minds merge. Soleta is nearly overpowered, but she is able to break Kalinda’s connection to the planet.
The awayteam retreats to the Lyla. Rier charges them, but is cut down by the long claw sword, which Xyon has acquired, from Atik. The group make their escape, but before leaving, crush the Dogs’ shuttle to ensure that they won’t be able to pursue. Zoran tells the Dogs that they are all stranded on the planet, because they crippled his ship.
Reflecting on what they have seen, Soleta tells Kebron that she is not so quick to dismiss the notion that there were spirits on the planet. She tells him that she had once witnessed the Yale ghost when attending a theatre production there.
After performing a sensor sweep, Xyon is baffled to find that the mysterious planet has vanished.
On board the Dogs vessel Atik collapses and has what appears to be a celestial vision. He claims that he has seen Xant and that the Redeemers were right.
It is revealed that when he was aboard the Redeemers vessel, Atik made a pact with them. Offering their services to the Redeemers, in return for being made their leader. He reflects that The Quiet Place had given him the perfect opportunity to dispose of Rier.
The Overlord reflects on how he has managed to turn a nuisance into an asset, but is approached by a troubled underling. The Redeemer tells the Overlord that the Black Mass is approaching their planet, Tulaan IV. Shocked, The Overlord tells the Redeemer that they have no choice but to defeat it. As this has never been achieved by anyone before, The Overlord tells the others that they will have to obtain the help of Captain Mackenzie Calhoun.
The away team returns to the USS Excalibur, with Kalinda and Xyon. Calhoun greets Kalinda and tells her that they have heard much about her. He then enquires as to who their other guest is. Xyon swings a connecting punch at Captain Calhoun and identifies himself as Xyon of Calhoun, son of Mackenzie Calhoun.
Captain Calhoun tells him that it is a pleasure to meet him too.
To be continued…
- Atik • Mackenzie Calhoun • Kallinda Cwan/Riella • Si Cwan • Foutz • Fr’Col • Zak Kebron • Krul • Robin Lefler • Lyla • Malia • Omon • The Overlord • Prime One • Morgan Primus • Rier • Elizabeth Shelby • Soleta • Sumavar • Vacu • Zoran Si Verdin • Xyon of Calhoun
Starships and vehicles
- Barspen • Montos • Quiet Place • Star 7734
Races and cultures
States and organizations
Science and classification
- antenna • atmosphere • cloaking device • DNA • nebula • phaser • sensor • starship • tractor beam • turbolift • universe
Ranks and titles
- This novel focuses almost entirely on the five characters depicted on the cover: Si Cwan, Soleta, Zak Kebron, Xyon, and Riella/Kallinda Cwan.
- Though Xyon's conception was narrated in Martyr, he makes his first appearance in this novel
Fire on High
|NF numbered novels||Next novel:|
Double or Nothing
Double Helix #5
|NF Stories||Next novel:|
|The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2376.|
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in one other timeframe:
six months earlier
When It Rains...