|Series:||The Original Series|
|Published:||paperback - January 1988|
|Date:|| 2267 (framing story)|
|Stardate:||reference stardate 1/83 (backstory)|
Space: Arena for man's greatest dream...
- This is the story of a hero—and a moment forever lost in history.
- It is the tale of Starfleet's early days, of a time before the Star Trek we know. The story of a secret mission gone horribly wrong—and an instant in time when the galaxy stood poised on the brink of one final, destructive war. It is the story of a ship since passed on into legend, and a man we only know as the father of Starfleet's greatest captain.
- His name is Kirk. Commander George Samuel Kirk. He is a warrior, born and bred to battle. Now destiny has placed the fate of a hundred innocent worlds on his shoulders.
The framing story for this novel is set in the aftermath of the TOS episode: "The City on the Edge of Forever", during the original five-year mission. Still reeling from the death of Edith Keeler, Jim Kirk has come home to Iowa, where he spends some time sitting in the barn on his family's property. While there, he digs up some old paper letters from his father, George Samuel Kirk.
The majority of the story is set some 25 years earlier, at a time when Jim was only 9 years old, and his father was serving in Starfleet as Chief of Security for Starbase Two. Throughout the book, we are also occasionally treated to brief scenes involving Jim Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, as Kirk ponders his future in Starfleet and the sacrifices he has made in the name of duty (namely, his lack of a family). He even requests retirement at one point, only to reconsider and continue his mission as captain of the Enterprise.
At the beginning of the main story, we are introduced to George Kirk Sr. and his best friend, Drake Reed. Both are security officers, but Reed appears to be the station's resident card-shark, frequently requiring George to come bail him out of hot water when his victims inevitably become angry. It is after one such rescue that George and Reed are kidnapped by a mysterious woman who seems to know their names.
George and Reed awaken in a cargo hold of some sort, alone. This is the first time that the reader witnesses George's trademark stubbornness, and he breaks out of the locked hold through practically sheer determination. The two former captives discover that they are aboard a small ship of some kind, and they make their way to the small bridge to discover that they have been abducted by George's old friend Robert April.
April calms his old friend and begins to explain the situation. A colony ship has become disabled after passing through an ion storm, and the families aboard are facing certain death. Starfleet has no way to reach the ship in time to save them, but April believes he has a way to do so. Looking out the forward windows, George gets his first look at a massive vessel, far larger and more powerful than anything Starfleet has put in the field before.
"What is that?" asks George, in awe.
"That," answers April, relishing the moment, "is a starship."
Once aboard, April makes it clear that he intends to use the starship to brave the storm and rescue the imperiled colonists. Further, he believes that this is a perfect first mission for the new starship. He fears that the other powers and governments in known space will fear the starship if she is introduced to them as some sort of military weapon. Yes, she is armed and extremely powerful, but April's vision for the ship is for her to serve as a tool of exploration and discovery, and he believes that a rescue mission will enable him to present the starship as a tool of hope.
For this mission, April has brought together a number of people he already knows to serve as the starship's skeleton crew, and he wants George to serve as first officer. Initially reluctant, George eventually agrees to serve in that capacity, but throughout the mission he and April constantly butt heads over the starship's potential as a weapon. Here, April is portrayed as a nearly complete pacifist, and it is George Kirk who argues that the Federation must be prepared to use the starship as a weapon in the name of defense.
The crew goes about preparing the great starship, the first of her kind and initially meant to be named Constitution, for her maiden voyage. During the preparations, the crew is faced with a catastrophic failure of the warp engines, and they are nearly forced to jettison the warp nacelles to avoid the destruction of the entire ship. Only George Kirk is able to push the engineers (described as mostly peacetime technicians, and not experienced soldiers) to think out of the box and come up with an alternative solution. It is at this point that George, with his security training, begins to suspect the presence of a saboteur aboard.
Eventually, the starship is fully prepared, and the small crew heads off in search of the beleaguered colonists. At the moment that they enter the ion storm, however, the starship is beset by a catastrophic failure of the gravity system (presumably an early term for inertial dampeners, as they seem to have the same effect) and the warp drive. When they recover enough to look around, they find themselves in an unknown sector of space with most systems offline.
Now firmly suspicious that they have a saboteur in their midst, George asks April to appoint Reed as Chief of Security and to order him to initiate an investigation into the crew. Although still skeptical, April agrees.
As the crew races to get the great starship back online, they find that they are not alone. A nearby Romulan (Rihannsu) warship issues them a challenge, claiming that the Starfleet crew has strayed across the Neutral Zone and into their space. Stalling for time, Captain April (who was injured during the accident with the gravity system) offers to meet with the Romulan commander as a show of good faith. In the end, however, he succumbs to his injuries and it is up to George to assume command.
George, although less trusting than his commanding officer, elects to meet with the Romulan commander on a nearby planetoid. Both ships send small shuttlecraft to the planetoid, and the two craft set down some distance from each other to allow them to get the lay of the land before meeting.
Meanwhile, the Rihannsu commander, T'Cael (actually referred to as the Field Primus in command of a swarm of several ships) has been dealing with an intrusive political officer aboard his flagship. T'Cael is currently out of favor with the Rihannsu government, believing that his entire society is slipping into a pattern of treachery and deception. In fact, he knows of plans for the Rihannsu government to launch a sneak attack against the Federation, ostensibly to prevent the Federation launching its own sneak attack first. T'Cael believes this to be dishonorable, and doesn't believe the Federation poses any threat to the Rihannsu Empire. For this believe, he is viewed suspiciously by his superiors, and the political officer has been assigned to his ship with orders to undermine his command and to find a reason to remove him.
As T'Cael departs his ship to meet with the commander of the Federation starship, the political officer assassinates the captain of the ship (an officer fiercely loyal to T'Cael) and takes control. T'Cael is able to set down on the planetoid without incident, but his shuttle quickly comes under attack from orbit as the political officer seeks to eliminate him once and for all.
In the chaos, George runs across T'Cael and, not knowing that Romulans and Vulcans are genetically related, mistakes the field primus for a captive Vulcan. George quickly launches a "rescue" attempt, only to realize his mistake after a short conversation with his new "Vulcan" friend. Initially suspicious, the two are forced to work together to avoid the continuing orbital bombardment from the Rihannsu vessel (which has now destroyed George's shuttle as well), and to survive an encounter with a pack of local predators.
In orbit, Drake Reed has assumed command of the starship while Captain April undergoes surgery, and desperately tries to stop the Romulan vessel from firing on the planetoid and killing his friend George. Finally, the starship is able to drive off the Romulan ship and rescues George and T'Cael from the surface of the planetoid using their new "transporter" system.
Back aboard the starship, George and T'Cael work with the now-recovered Captain April and the rest of the starship's crew to defend against the still-attacking Romulan ship. Before long, the rest of the Romulan swarm arrives, and the starship finds herself outnumbered in hostile space. Despite his pacifistic intentions, April has no choice but to employ the great ship's weapons to stave off the attack.
A pitched battle ensues, during which T'Cael is instrumental in helping working out the swarm's tactics. Although initially reluctant, T'Cael reasons that if the prototype starship is captured, it will provide the warmongering Rihannsu government with a stunning technological advantage. In the long run, it is better for the Empire for the starship to escape.
At length, the starship manages to destroy the entire Romulan swarm, and even to destroy the great mothership as it closes in to avenge the defeated swarm. In the process, April, T'Cael and George come up with a plan to send out a fake series of signals to convince the Romulan generals that the Federation has a fleet of "invisible" ships stationed along the Neutral Zone, ready to attack. Although successful, T'Cael wonders if they planted the seeds for future conflict, and tells his human allies that the Rihannsu Empire will spend years and expend any effort to create an "invisibility device" of their own.
With the warp engines back online, and all systems functioning, the great starship hastily leaves Romulan space and heads off to rescue the stranded colonists. Aboard the colony ship, two of the crew members are discussing their hopeless situation and their impending death. Suddenly, they are distracted by movement outside the window, and stare in awe as the great starship swoops in like an instrument of God to save all their lives.
In the end, following the starship's triumphant success, it is George who makes the final suggestion for her name. Although she began construction under naval construction contract 1700, and she was planned to be commissioned as Constitution, so many changes were made during that process that she practically became an entirely different ship. Indeed, her hull will ultimately be identified as naval construction contract 1701. George believes she should be commissioned as Enterprise, and April happily agrees.
The as-yet unnamed vessel is launched early with a crew of 57 technicians and engineers to rescue the passengers and crew of the SS Rosenberg, marooned in the middle of a severe ionic storm.
Notable crew include;
- Captain Robert April - architect of the 'Starship Program' (the Constitution class)
- Commander George Samuel Kirk - Chief of Security for Starbase 2, abducted to be April's first officer
- Dr. Sarah Poole - Chief Medical Officer, also claims to have been abducted, and to only be a veterinarian by profession.
- Lieutenant Francis Drake Reed - Also abducted from Starbase 2, appointed as Chief of Security shortly after departure.
- Lieutenant Carlos Florida - Helmsman
- Lieutenant Spirit Claw Sanaway - Astrotelemetrist
- Admiral Dr. Leo Brownell - Chief Engineer. Brownell is said to be on loan from Starfleet Academy
- Anthony Wood - Dr. Brownell's assistant
- Bernice Hart - Design Engineer
- Graff - Engineering Technician
- Saffire - Engineering Technician
Captain April and others refer to the ship as "The Empress" throughout the novel in reference to an early quote in the novel (an Empress of Ideals); another name is jokingly suggested by Kirk: USS Anonymous.
April notes he originally intended to name the ship Constitution, and is number 1700 'on the drawing board' before numerous design changes based on technological breakthroughs mandated a thorough redesign, while the 'actual ship' is 1701. This implies either there was no 1700 built, or it was not originally built with the same breakthroughs and technologies as 1701, but probably later refitted with them at a later date.
When the ship is scanned and analyzed by a Romulan preybird, they are unable to discern it being an Earth or Federation ship, and consider it to be a superweapon. Indeed, the ship handles a swarm of 6 preybirds handily, and critically disables a much larger vessel.
Enterprise receives her name at the suggestion of George Kirk at the end of the book.
Starfleet and Federation charactersEdit
- Robert April • Sarah April • George Samuel Kirk, Sr. • Carlos Florida • Francis Drake Reed • Spirit Claw Sanawey • Leo Brownell • Anthony Wood • Bernice Hart • Graff • Saffire • Lawrence Marvick • Scratch Jones • Chainsaw • Rolf • Chang • Thompson
Starships and vehiclesEdit
- SS Rosenberg (Seidman-class) • Soar • Raze • War Thorn • Raffish • Experience • Future Fire • NCC-116-B (Hubble VXT)
Shipboard and stationbound locationsEdit
- Starbase 2
- security office • recreation deck • pool hall • turbolift • corridor • laboratories • gymnasiums • lounges
Stations and outpostsEdit
Planets and planetoidsEdit
- Referenced only
- Gateway (planet)
Stars and systemsEdit
Races and culturesEdit
States and organizationsEdit
Technology and weaponsEdit
- warp engine • impulse engine • laser • laser pistol • communicator • spaceship • particle cannon • phaser • knife • sensor • camera • viewscreen • Rigellian dagger • computer tape • magnetic lock • particle cutter
Substances and energiesEdit
Foods and beveragesEdit
Ranks and titlesEdit
- field primus • subcommander • commander • lieutenant • captain • admiral • doctor • praetor • centurion • chief engineer • chief medical officer • security chief • commanding officer • first officer • security officer • technician • helmsman • navigator • communications officer • engineer • surgeon • security crewman • midshipman • veterinarian • primus • grand primus • antecenturion • proctor
- food • drink • lifeform • animal • plant • shore leave • space • galaxy • star • planet • planetoid • stardate • time • uniform • time travel • light • energy • pill • starbase • biology • science • science fair • baseball • pool • physiology • credit • pay voucher • English • Starfleet uniform • Dimanche Gras • Moco Jumbie • sailboat • log entry • captain's log • colony
- A merchant sailing ship is in service. Centuries later, George Kirk would show his sons the logbook of this vessel at the Seafarer's Museum.
- reference stardate 1/6
- In this decade, the NCC-116-B runabout will be commissioned with second generation warp drive.
- The cover artwork without titles can seen in the inside front cover of the original paperback release and specific book club editions. The full image shows five characters (James T. Kirk, George Kirk, T'Cael, Robert April and Sarah April) as well as two comparison images of the USS Enterprise. However, the front cover's large wording and diagonal layout limited the visible art to the depictions of James Kirk, George Kirk and T'Cael. The "front cover" image of Enterprise on the early paperback is actually the picture from the inside front cover shown thanks to a cut-away top corner of the front cover. Later editions show the titled front cover as a single piece without the cutaway or inside artwork.
- TOS episodes: "The City on the Edge of Forever", "Balance of Terror", "Operation -- Annihilate!", "Is There In Truth No Beauty?"
- TOS movie, novelization & comic adaptation: Star Trek
Strangers from the Sky
|TOS unnumbered novels||Next novel:|
Operation -- Annihilate!
|Voyages of the |
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
(2264 to 2270)
Operation -- Annihilate!
|The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2267.|
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in two other timeframes:
The Kobayashi Maru
The Lives of Dax
Hope and a Common Future