Dean Wesley Smith and Kristen Kathryn Rusch
reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
When Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are ordered to the Tautee system to investigate the waves of subspace interference issuing from the area, they find more than they bargained for: The nine planets of the star system have been reduced to rubble with their debris beginning to form rings about the star.
Kirks first thought is that the planets have been destroyed by a new secret weapon that the Klingons are rumored to have developed. In addition, the U.S.S. Farragut under the command of Kelly Bogle soon arrives on the scene to see if the Tauteean people have been able to save themselves before the disaster occurred. Soon requests for help, emanating from some of the larger pieces of planetary debris, are picked up by the ships, but before they can respond, four Klingon vessels under the command of KerDaqconsidered a reasonable Klingonarrive.
Reasonable or not, KerDaq promptly comes to the conclusion that the planets have been destroyed by the Federations new super weapon. In an attempt to follow the Enterprise into the debris field as it seeks to rescue survivors, KerDaqs ship is caught in a powerful subspace wave and is destroyed. Soon after the rescue of his crew by the Enterprise, he and Kirk both find out that the damage has been caused by the Tauteeans themselves as they sought to bring unlimited power to their planets. And worse yet, the rift itself is growing in size; if left unchecked it will destroy Earth within a years time and Klingon soon after.
However, while Kirk plans on saving as many Tauteeans as possible, Bogle continually raises objections concerning the Prime Directive as it was the Tauteeans themselves responsible for the destruction of their system, not an outside force. However, Bogle reluctantly relents when he learns the magnitude of the subspace waves. Its up to the crews of the Enterprise, the Farragut, and even the Klingon ships to save as many Tauteean people as they can prior to closing the riftthe final wave will remove all chances for any more Tauteeans surviving.
While the story starts a bit slowly with the Tauteean scientists who unknowingly caused the disaster, the action quickly increases when the Klingon vessels appear on the scene. Even more tension occurs as all shipsboth Federation and Klingonrace against time to find as many Taurteean survivors as possible and find a way to close the rift. However, there is soon another complication: Once the rift is closed a final subspace wave of monstrous proportions will destroy their chances for finding any more surviviors and allow them very little time to escape themselves.
The characters forming the crews of the Federation and Klingon ships are carefully drawn as they work together to save as many Tauteeans as possible. We also see how awkward the Tauteeans feel as they become part of a world they could only imagine a few hours past. It is also a credit to the authors that the Klingons are shown as individuals of honor as they strive to help all survive whether members of the Federation or the Klingon empire.
Despite a slow start, I found this book to be hard to put down as the plot developed. An easy read with a good plot and realistic characters, this book should be enjoyable for all.
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