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After saving Earth from the threat of V'Ger, James T. Kirk is called again to the final frontier. His new mission: to lead a valiant group of settlers to a distant world, to defend the struggling colony from alien threats, and to explore the diverse mysteries and dangers of a strange new Earth!
Far from the Federation, a newly discovered M-class world has been eyed as a potential home by a group of hardy and determined colonists. Starfleet can spare only one starship to escort the would-be settlers on their perilous voyage, but that ship is none other than the legendary starship Enterprise, commanded by the most well-known captain in the quadrant. Now Kirk finds himself responsible for the lives of 60,000 men, women, and children—a task that grows all the more difficult when the expedition is caught in the middle of an ancient feud between two dangerous alien races!


Five months into a journey to the planet Belle Terre, a red alert is declared on the USS Enterprise as an automated factory ship attacks a colony ship loaded with civilians. Captain James T. Kirk has the captain of the privateer Hunter's Moon, and son of the owner of the factory ship, beamed aboard and questions him about the modifications to the automated vessel's industrial phasers. When Kirk presses Captain Michael Kilvennan on whether the ship can be destroyed, Governor Evan Pardonnet protests, due to the drone vessel producing various industrial goods necessary for the Belle Terre colony's survival. Kirk tricks the automated vessel into attacking the Enterprise by changing its transponder signal to match the stricken colony ship and increasing the broadcast power, allowing the Enterprise phasers to hit its shield projector.

Kirk beams over to the drone with Kilvennan, and as they make their way through the vessel, Kilvennan summarizes the numerous problems Kirk has faced and asks why he accepted the job of escorting the colonists to Belle Terre. During their trek, Kirk informs Kilvennan that a plague has spread to three colony ships, despite attempts at a quarantine after the second ship was infected, while Kilvennan informs Kirk that Billy Maidenshore, a criminal Kirk has encountered, is among the colonists aboard the Pandora's Box under an alias. After locating the cutting phaser hardware, Kirk and Kilvennan manage to neutralize the drone before the enhanced phasers overload.

In the Sagittarian Stellar Group, where Belle Terre is located, the crew of the survey ship Kensington Taylor, commanded by Mitch Dogan, is in the middle of Gamma Night, a ten hour period of intense gamma radiation bombardment that interferes with active sensors and long range communications. Having declared a red alert, the science officer claims that the mass of Belle Terre's moon is changing. Highly skeptical, Dogan initially refuses to believe the report, then gradually accepts that the information should be reported to Starfleet. Shortly afterwards, the Kensington Taylor is attacked by an unknown alien vessel, which Dogan defeats through cunning and clever maneuvers. After the battle, debris from the destroyed alien vessel impacts the moon and causes an eruption of material into space. However, before the survey ship can send their analysis of the material to Starfleet, they are destroyed by another unknown alien vessel.

Nearby, a Blood Many vessel detects the destruction of the Kensington Taylor by an All Kauld Marauder battlebarge. The captain, Avedon Shucorion, orders the ship to hide in the sensor interference of Gamma Night (which they call "the Blind") to avoid detection, while assessing the situation. As he explains to his crew, the Kauld are setting up a base on the planet, the first time either species is expanding outside of their home system. However, Shucorion notices a sensor readout on the material ejected from the moon, which he repeatedly examines, before declaring himself chosen by destiny. Immediately afterwards, the Kauld make contact with Shucorion's ship.

Aboard the Pandora's Box, Kirk confronts Maidenshore about his presence in the fleet. When asked how he avoided jail time, Maidenshore states "they dropped the ball" before listing off Kirk's command responsibilities for the expedition. This leads to a flashback, set just prior the expedition setting off.

Kirk and Leonard McCoy are in a meeting with Councilman Howard Tanner about the Belle Terre Colonial Expedition, where Tanner explains that because the area has not been extensively scouted, the Federation Council would only allow the expedition to proceed if Kirk took command of the Enterprise and escorted them there with minimal Starfleet support vessels. After learning that Spock agreed to the mission, but only with Kirk in command, and that the Enterprise will be rotated back to known territory after being relieved by a ship assigned to protect the colonists, Kirk agrees to join the mission… on the condition that the crew is given the new uniform jackets a year early. Meeting Spock outside the Federation Bureau building, Kirk, McCoy, and Spock discuss the expedition before discovering that Kirk's personal shuttle has been stolen—the third theft of his shuttles in two weeks. Kirk intercepts a cargo ship full of stolen goods in Vulcan space, where he first encounters Billy Maidenshore and makes the mistake of mentioning the Belle Terre expedition. While Maidenshore arranges for his lawyers to handle the charges of theft and racketeering, and his lover of eight years slips into panic, he begins thinking of a way to fulfill his debt to Orion criminals.

Back in the present, aboard the Enterprise, Kirk and the bridge crew discuss Maidenshore's presence and whether or not they are justified in monitoring his activities. Governor Pardonnet comes to the bridge, where he and Kirk have a discussion about the chain of command and the goals of the Belle Terre colonists. While Pardonnet monologues and the bridge crew explains the hazards of Gamma Night, the Enterprise maneuvers to aid the Mandrake Anachronae, a ship full of historical reenactors that was caught in a gravity well. After allowing Pardonnet to feel like he won a concession from Kirk before departing, the bridge crew generally voices negative opinions about the governor, to which Kirk replies "I like him".

Later, Kirk, Spock, and Montgomery Scott are aboard the coroner ship Twilight Sentinel, where a funeral for the latest casualty of the disease is occurring. Conversing with Spock and Scott, Kirk marvels at the number of acquaintances from the five year mission are among the expedition, as well as admits he is grateful that his old bridge crew joined him for the mission. Upon receiving word from Hikaru Sulu that there is a riot over medication for the lung flu outbreak on one of the colony ships, Kirk returns to the Enterprise.

Aboard the Yukon, Commander Nyota Uhura and Doctor McCoy encounter Michael Kilvennan, who beamed aboard when the shields were lowered to accept extra security personnel. After being informed that he is stuck on the Yukon due to the quarantine, Kilvennan learns that the medicine supply has been contaminated and that samples of the medication are being confiscated so that it can be used as a base for synthesizing more. When Kilvennan's brother and one of his friends attack the security guards, Kilvennan notes their odd behavior and their insistence on turning back, which he points out to McCoy. Allowed to go see his family, Kilvennan discovers his wife acting erratically and Billy Maidenshore dispensing stolen medication.

Back in the vicinity of Belle Terre, Shucorion learns that Kauld Battlelord Vellyngaith is personally signalling him. Preparing the crew to flee, Shucorion makes contact with Vellyngaith, who tells him he wishes to make a truce, then requests to come aboard Shucorion's vessel. After consulting with his crew, Shucorion allows Vellyngaith to board his ship, with both parties bringing fully armed and armored escorts. Vellyngaith proposes an alliance to Shucorion directly, due to him being a risk taker among the Blood, to counter the coming Federation colonization force. After discerning that Vellyngaith does not know about the material in the moon, Shucorion agrees to allow Vellyngaith and his party return to their ship, while Vellyngaith promises to allow Shucorion's vessel to leave the system, even if he does not agree to bring the truce agreement to the Blood leadership. Deciding not to tell Blood Core Command about the truce to provide them with plausible deniability, Shucorion plans to expedite the plan to build the Kauld base on Belle Terre, stating that the planet is doomed.

On the Enterprise, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy discuss the current issues with the expedition, including the growing sentiment to turn back, supply shortages, and the trustworthiness of the privateers the expedition hired to protect them. In the process, Kirk admits guilt over his legendary status absorbing the credit that should've gone to those who didn't survive their adventures, before ordering Pavel Chekov to begin covert surveillance of Billy Maidenshore and scans for energy signatures near the expedition convoy. Meanwhile, after having his quarters scanned for bugs and other threats, Maidenshore and his primary accomplice discuss their next move. Maidenshore needs at least two of the main personnel transports to turn back with minimal Starfleet escort, determining that if Kirk keeps interfering in his plans, the best way to accomplish that is to destroy one with all 3000 people aboard.

Kirk has Captain Kilvennan brought aboard the Enterprise and meets him on the bridge, with Governor Pardonnet present. After learning that the automated factory ship's phasers were modified by a third party, Kirk questions whether Kilvennan's mother set up the attack as a distraction for the theft of the lung flu medicine, right before McCoy brings Kilvennan's brother to the bridge. McCoy informs them all that the atmosphere aboard the transport was deliberately contaminated. After Pardonnet questions why anyone would try to sabotage the effort, Kilvennan states that he is willing to take his ship and return with any transports willing to turn back. After a tense standoff, Kirk agrees to the proposal, as long as Kilvennan's ship stays with the convoy until they meet the lightship Hatteras, where they can accompany USS Republic on its return trip to Federation space. Almost immediately afterwards, Scott contacts the Enterprise from the Comanche, whose engines are on the verge of exploding.

In a flashback, Kirk addresses a gathering of all the captains in the Belle Terre expedition, then puts on the new uniform, then assures them that Starfleet and Kirk personally will be at the forefront of any crisis.

Aboard the Hunter's Moon, Kilvennan and his crew watch the Enterprise's efforts to save the doomed Comanche, overhearing Scott's statement that the ship was definitively sabotaged. After several tense minutes, Kilvennan orders his crew to maneuver to assist the Enterprise.

In Belle Terre orbit, Shucorion and Vellyngaith meet again on the Blood Plume vessel. Shucorion lays out several conditions for the truce, including transferring three of each race's leaders to the other's planet, sharing all data on military technology, two years worth of antimatter, and that 20% of the new Kauld fleet be comprised of Blood. In return, Shucorion offers Blood Gamma Night navigational experience for a strike on the convoy, to buy time for the Kauld to build their base.

Back in the Belle Terre expedition fleet, the population of the colony transport Yukon decides to turn back at Billy Maidenshore's urging. When it becomes clear that the colonists won't be convinced to stay with the convoy, Kirk assigns the cutter Impeller and Chekov to escort them back to Federation space, along with the Hunter's Moon. Later, on the Enterprise, Kirk has a meal with Spock, McCoy, and the captains of the Republic and Beowulf, strategizing on how to flush out the threat to the convoy. Kirk announces that he intends to allow the Beowulf to proceed with the convoy while the Enterprise waits in case of a distress signal from the ships heading back to the Federation.

Sixteen days later, the Hunter's Moon detects possible hostile vessels pretending to be a natural gas cloud, which then accelerate to high warp. Aboard the Yukon, Maidenshore attempts to make contact with the coming Orion slavers, even as his accomplices alert him to the fact that the passengers are arming themselves. Shortly afterwards, Chekov, several guards, and assorted Yukon personnel enter the room and take Maidenshore into custody before Chekov and the Yukon's captain head to the bridge to prepare for battle. Five Orion Plunderers attack the Yukon, Impeller, and Hunter's Moon, firing meshes at the vessels that conduct energy into heat, forcing the ships to power down or risk destruction.

When the Impeller's bridge takes a direct hit, Chekov beams over, saving Captain Merkling and five other bridge officers. Blinded, Merkling hands over command to Chekov before heading to engineering, while Chekov and three of the bridge officers use Auxiliary control to maneuver the ship. As they disable two of the Orion vessels, Impeller detects the Enterprise approaching at high warp. However, the ship appears to break up as it approaches... only for it to be revealed to be a flight of shuttles putting out the Enterprise's transponder signal, while the Enterprise comes in on a different vector. Maidenshore, beamed aboard one of the Orion ships during the chaos, intuitively senses the deception, but is unable to convince Tu, the Orion leader, before the Enterprise attacks.

In the aftermath, Kirk meets Kilvannen on the wrecked bridge of the Hunter's Moon to discern the mindset of the Yukon's passengers. After ordering the badly damaged Impeller to return to Federation space, Kirk is informed of Maidenshore's escape. Aboard the Orion vessel, Maidenshore manages to avoid being killed by Tu and eventually convinces him to head to the lightship at high warp in the hopes of capturing more of the colony ships.

On Belle Terre, Shucorion meets with Vellyngaith, offering 1500 Blood workers to build and finish the Kauld fortress, then proposing an attack on the Hatteras with the two of them commanding the other's force. When Vellyngaith agrees, Shucorion's second in command Dimion threatens to stab him, then attempts to stab himself. When Shucorion stops him, he explains to Dimion that his plan is to make Vellyngaith believe he wishes to merge the Blood and Kauld, so that when the planet is destroyed, the Blood can prevail over the Kauld.

Meanwhile, Vellyngaith suffers a coughing fit that is a symptom of a medical condition all Kauld soldiers have, and admits to his doctor that he knows Shucorion is planning to betray him in some way. Due to housing all their military personnel in one facility on their planet, the entire Kauld military was affected by contamination from their warp drive experiments, which causes severe lung damage. Announcing his intent to ensure the Blood and Federation are defeated, Vellyngaith walks off, stating "Life is butchery."

At the Hatteras, Tu and Maidenshore encounter Shucorion's force, with Maidenshore tricking Tu into believing that the Blood are Maidenshore's secret allies. Beamed over with a universal translator, Maidenshore tells Shucorion that all the information he has on the Federation is propaganda and that the Orions are there to head off an invading armada and that the colonists are drugged into submission. When Maidenshore over plays his hand, Shucorion holds a knife to his throat, leading him to confess the truth, which eventually leads to an agreement to cooperate to get the convoy to turn back.

When the convoy arrives, they discover the lightship and the two supply barges sent ahead of time damaged, with most of the supplies rendered unusable. Pardonnet comes to the bridge and laments the lost supplies, even as Spock points out that they served as a warning to the expedition fleet. Rendezvousing with the American Rover, a privateer sent to investigate the lightship's dropped signal, Kirk encounters Shucorion and several dozen of his Blood soldiers. Shucorion explains the history of the Blood and Kauld, stating that the Blood were betrayed by them when they reached the Hattaras. Due to the damage to the lightship, Shucorion's story can't be verified, making Kirk very suspicious of the whole situation. Ultimately, he decides to bring the Blood along, placing restrictions on their movements among the convoy.

Several days later, Kirk makes an announcement that the convoy's operating procedures will change to improve their handling of Gamma Night situations, then has a conversation with Shucorion about his men spreading fear among the colonists. Immediately afterwards, McCoy declares the medical personnel for the expedition recommend turning back, which Spock points out would have dangerous repercussions for Federation trade and development. After it is pointed out that the convoy may not be able to make it back due to their supply shortages, the leadership of the expedition reaffirms their commitment to making it to Belle Terre, much to Shucorion's confusion. Afterwards, he orders Dimion to lead the Kauld fleet to the convoy's location and annihilate it.

Later, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy meet in Kirk's quarters, where Spock reveals that the Orions were involved in the attack on the Hatteras. Reasoning that the Orions took a high risk opportunity instead of facing death from their superiors, Kirk assumes that Maidenshore is involved. After being told that Spock has distributed many of the first, second, and third officers among the colony ships, Kirk is informed that a large fleet of vessels is en route on an attack vector.

Kirk arranges the convoy into two spheres to face over 200 ships, mostly fighter sized vessels. When Shucorion arrives on the bridge, he identifies the attackers as Kauld. Kirk lures the Kauld fleet in by holding fire for a short time, then unleashing a massive strike that damages almost every vessel in the attacking fleet. After a brief withdrawl, the Kauld focus fire on Hunter's Moon and ships in its vicinity, catching the Beowulf with a lucky shot that enters an open repair access port, neutralizing the only other Starfleet ship in the fleet. As the battle progresses, Kirk alters the arrangements of the spheres in various ways to compensate for damaged ships, inflicting heavy losses on the Kauld forces.

When the Orion ships arrive, the Enterprise leaves the formation and beams Billy Maidenshore off Tu's Plunderer, where he's taken into custody. Shucorion witnesses the destruction of the Orion vessels, and when he returns to his ship, he learns that Vellyngaith is biding his time after the costly defeat. Stating that eventually the Blood will become the strongest force in the sector, Shucorion still keeps the information about the moon secret, even while stating that the colonists are heading to their doom.



AngusTroy AugustineGina AustinRay AustinLinda BatterseyTed BishopFelix BlaineBurnellJack CarpenterPavel ChekovTom CoatesLilian CoatesDerronAnton DeSalleDimionMitch DoganGarittBarry GiottoGradySylvia GravesGrenskiMae KilvennanMichael KilvennanQuinn KilvennanJames T. KirkChuck LindseyLucyBilly MaidenshoreMarvinLeonard McCoyDaniel MerklingMolyneauxEvan PardonnetEmil PashkeRoibSardochMontgomery ScottShucorionHikaru SuluSpockHoward TannerTrautnerNyota UhuraUlwenVellyngaithVerdicchioWayne
Referenced only
Leonard James AkaarBannonBriggsBeverly ChaalkerNed ChalkerBen ChildressEleenJamie FinneyJohn GlassIan KilvennanJosette KilvennanStefan KilvennanDan MarksM'BengaAnchorhead McHaleThomas MeerToby ParkerEli SammsShapinskiBrook SmithSnyderVan DuzzenHelen Kilvennan Webb

Starships and vehicles

American RoverAnnie BUSS BeowulfBlack SwanBrother's KeeperChargerColungeComancheCrystobelUSS EnterpriseFoggy DewHampton RoadsHeidiUSS ImpellerIroquoisKaleonaheKensington TaylorLakotaLewis and ClarkMable StevensMacedonMandrake AnachronaeNorfolk RebelNormandyNorthwest PassageOlympianOregon TrailPandora's BoxPolynesianPromontory PointQuincy B. HobbsRattlesnakeRed BarnUSS RepublicRoyal YorkSacajaweaTonclinTwilight SentinelUncle Jace's PocketWebb 1Webb 2Webb 3Webb 4Webb 5Webb 6Webb 7Webb 8Webb 9Yukon


Belle TerreCluster Z-80EarthOccultquake moonSagittarian Stellar Group
Referenced only
Aldebaran IIIAltus IVBeta AurigaeEminiarHellMeridianNew ChicagoStarbase OneVendikarVulcan

Races and cultures

BloodHumanKauldOrion (Purple Orion) • Vulcan
Referenced only

States and organizations

All KauldBelle Terre Colonial ExpeditionBlood ManyFederation CouncilFederation Department of SettlementStarfleetUnited Federation of Planets

Science and technology

artificial gravityautograv systembattlefield tactical displaycablecartographycellcircuitcommand chairconsoledensitydialDoppler shifteggenergyengineeyedropsGamma DawnGamma Nightgriddlehairhangnailhourlife supportlow-gain generatormarkermassmetermineralminutemutantneutron starorbitphaserphysicsplate movementquakeradiation sheetred-alert panelsatellitescience arrayscreensecondsensorsensor displayshort-range sensorskullspacespark blindstarstar systemstarshipstomachtentaclethroatthrustertimetoenailtractor beamvolcanicweapons port

Ranks and titles

analystcaptaincartographerchorus girlengineergovernorhelmsmanquartermasterscience analysttactical officertourist

Other references

alert bellapplesauceasteroidbarrelbathrobebeardbeauty sleepbridgebroadleafbugbuttercargo doorchickencinnamonClass Mcobwebcolonycompanycreditdaydeckdemonic possessiondreamdustfaunaflicker-animate picturehatchhelmmatmonthmoonneutroniumoutpostpaperpipeplanetpool-tableportholeposterprime ribramprationred alertrobesnorkelsquidstool • "Swan Lake" • teakwoodtechnologytidewater tobaccotoolweaponweekwindowwire brushwrestlingyearzombie



This novel was, of course, named for Gene Roddenberry's original concept for Star Trek - a "wagon train to the stars".

The introduction and the dates in the novel suggests, that the story takes place in 2273, but circumstances clearly show that it, in fact, takes place in 2277.




published order
Previous novel:
Across the Universe
TOS numbered novels Next novel:
New Earth
Belle Terre
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
Wagon Train to the Stars
The Captains' Meeting
Pocket Next Adventure:
Belle Terre
The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2279.
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in two other timeframes:
Previous Adventure:
The Captain's Daughter
Chapters 15-17
Three Months Earlier
Next Adventure:
Ship of the Line
Chapters 1-5
Previous Adventure:
Family Matters
The Captains' Meeting
Next Adventure:
Wagon Train to the Stars

External link