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Hermeticus 2 - a planet so shrouded in secrecy that few in the Federation even know of its existence. When a Romulan spy learns of the world, it becomes the centerpiece of a far-reaching Romulan plot.
On routine patrol near the border of the Neutral Zone, the Starship Enterprise discovers an advanced Romulan Warbird prototype drifting lifeless in space. Investigating the vessel, Captain Picard is drawn into a plot that threatens the very foundation of the Federation. Now with time running out, Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise must stop the Romulans before the deadly secrets of Hermeticus 2 overwhelms them all.
Deanna Troi wakes up in the middle of the night. She feels that Captain Jean-Luc Picard had a terrific nightmare and visits him in his quarters. First Picard does not want to talk about the nightmare, but after Troi convinces him, that it would be best for him to do so, he explains that the dream was about him losing control of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). He was in panic. Deanna thinks that this dream might be a precognition. Picard reveals that he had precognitive dreams before; the first one was the night before his mother died. He does not want to talk about the second one, but he tells her that it also dealt with someone important to him.
Deanna explains that the crew of the Enterprise is important to him, too. Since he does not recall the dream anymore, they both decide that if it should occur again, Picard will contact Troi at once. Deanna leaves for her quarters but cannot sleep this night.
On Romulus the young Commander Valak is called before the Praetor Darok in the Romulan Senate. Darok chats about Valak’s personal history, specifically about his hunting experience with the Syrinx, a wild dangerous animal, which lives on Abraxas Nine. Darok reveals that he himself hunted one Syrinx down when he was young; Valak, born on Abraxas Nine, was able to hunt three. Darok asks him how he was able to do so. Valak responds that his father taught him to respect and understand his prey.
The Praetor then changes the topic of their discussion to Starfleet. Valak is an expert when it comes to humans and especially Starfleet. He is one of the few Romulans who do not think that humans are inferior life forms, but rather different, with different strength and different weakness compared to the Romulans. He compares them to the Syrinx and tells the Praetor that he wants to understand his enemy in order to defeat him.
Valak proudly accepts the new assignment and is escorted by the Praetor’s honour guard to a shuttle which will bring him to his new command.
In orbit, Valak witnesses one of the many advantages the D’Kazanak-Class has over the D'Deridex-class, when the ship decloaks. As an experienced commander of the Romulan fleet, Valak is surprised not to see the ghost ship phenomenon, which still is a problem and a tactical weakness with the D’Deridex-Class Warbird’s cloaking device.
The shuttle lands in the main shuttlebay and Valak is welcomed aboard by his command staff, including his first officer Korak and the ship’s designer, a civilian named Kazanak. Kazanak reveals to him that the shakedown cruise will be much more than just a test of this ship and its systems, he will stay aboard and analyze the ship’s performance. Valak dismisses his crew and asks Kazanak to lead him to the commander’s quarters to discuss the details of his assignment.
The Enterprise picks up an automated Romulan distress call, which is sent from the Federation’s site of the Neutral Zone. Picard decides to answer it, being aware that another Romulan ship might already have received the call as well and be on the way to assist.
The Enterprise arrives at the coordinates and finds a huge Romulan ship of unknown class. Sensors show no life signs aboard. Picard decides to investigate the matter further. Commander William T. Riker , Data, Geordi LaForge, Worf and a security team beam aboard the Romulan ship in environmental suits in order to secure it and to deactivate the automated distress call.
Aboard they find the whole crew apparently dead. Once they have convinced themselves that the situation is under control, Beverly Crusher and a medical team beam aboard to examine the dead Romulans further in order to rule out an infection of some sort. Geordi soon discovers that the life-support system failed, and that the backup system was not installed properly. Beverly confirms that the Romulans died of hypoxia.
Picard decides to pay the Warbird a visit. He meets with his staff to discuss their further actions and to file a report for Starfleet Command. The crew decided to download the computer and its logs. In order to maintain the truce with the Romulans and to avoid a confrontation which could easily lead to war, Picard decided that after the files and blueprints have been downloaded, the ship will be returned to the Romulans. After the meeting is over, Picard joins Geordi and Data and beams to the Romulan ship; leaving Riker in command of the Enterprise.
Picard and Data start investigating the bridge of the Romulan ship. They are about to bypass the computer when suddenly the presumed dead crew starts to move.
Before they can act, Picard and his team are surrounded by the revived Romulans.
Commander Valak tells Picard that they ran directly into his trap. He allows Picard to contact the Enterprise. Riker informs him that the Romulans have taken over the Bridge, Engineering, the Family Deck, the Battle Bridge, the shuttlebays and the Transporter Rooms.
Picard calls this step a cause of war, but Valak informs him that he was the one, who made the first move, when he entered his ship.
Picard and Data keep wondering how the Romulans knew where to strike precisely.
Valak explains that they used a newly designed drug, which would render them unconscious and could mask their minimal life signs even to a medical scan. Korak informs Valak that nine crewmates did not awake from the artificial coma.
Data then analyzes that the Romulans must have used an especially written computer program to analyze the Enterprise’s vector of approach, based on the dilithium crystals, in order to beam their strike teams to exact positions aboard the Federation vessel.
Valak tells Picard that the two of them are now playing a game. He made the first move, but he does not expect Picard to give up. He also warns him that his men have already disabled the self-destruct mechanism, and that any of Picard’s actions would resume in the death of hostages, starting with the children.
Picard realizes that this Romulan commander is different, as he does not seem to look down on Humanity, but rather respects and tries to understand his enemy. He knows that it will be hard to beat this enemy.
Picard tells Valak that he never heard about the planet, nor that it would be impossible to sustain a secret facility that close to Romulan space.
Valak orders Korak to escort the captain back to the Enterprise.
Picard and Valak arrive on the Enterprise and make their way to the bridge.
On the bridge, Valak uses an isolinear chip which grants him access to top secret data, which is originally for Captain’s eyes only.
He starts downloading the data, when Picard orders the computer to execute order alpha alpha one zero, priority override. A Romulan guard knocks Picard down.
The file is deleted but Valak manages to get the coordinates of the planet.
Riker insists to get the unconscious Picard to sickbay. Valak allows them to leave.
In sickbay, Beverly treats Picard’s injury. The senior officers discuss their situation and the Romulans’ interest in Hermeticus II. Picard explains that the H-Hermeticus-Class designation stands for a quarrantined world.
After Beverly’s treatment, the guard escorts Picard and Riker back to the bridge. On their way to the turbolift, they witness how Romulan soldiers escort Enterprise crewmembers to the shuttlebay.
On the bridge Picard asks Valak, what he has in mind with his crew. Valak explains that he will move a part of the crew to the Syrinx via Shuttlecraft, in order to leave no shuttles aboard the Enterprise and to ensure Picard’s further cooperation. Picard, Deanna, Worf and Beverly will also be transferred to the Romulan ship.
The crew of the Enterprise is being kept in the shuttlebay of the Romulan Ship. Picard confers with his officers and orders them not to take immediate actions against the Romulans. He explains that Valak has the advantage in this situation. Any resistance aboard the Romulan ship would lead to the opening of the shuttlebay doors and to the death of the crew. Deanna mentions Valak’s arrogance, and tells Picard that he wants to impress his opponent. They both agree that this characteristic could be used against him.
Picard is then escorted to the bridge, where he explains to Picard that after their trip to Hermeticus II is over, he intends to bring the Enterprise and its crew to Romulus as his prize, in order to gain political power.
When Picard asks him to leave the bridge to join his crew, Valak orders his guards to escort the captain to Korak’s quarters. He wants to isolate Picard from his staff. Picard leaves the bridge.
On the Enterprise Riker challenges Korak. Korak believes that humans are inferior beings and feels insulted by Riker. Riker proposes to go to the holodeck and to fight it out. The emotional Korak accepts the challenge and leaves the bridge with the Enterprise’s first officer.
Arriving at Holodeck 1, Riker activates program Riker One to fight in hand-to-hand combat.
Korak attacks Riker, but is unable to land a hit. Riker continues to provoke Korak, so that he loses control. Riker is able to beat Korak down when two Romulan officers arrive to his aid. Korak is embarrassed and wants to continue the fight when the bridge informs him that they are about to arrive at Hermeticus II.
Korak informs Riker that their fight is not over and Riker is glad to have achieved at least a small victory over the Romulan by making him lose face before his own warriors.
Valak tells Picard that this is the proof of a Federation presence in this sector. But Picard insists that Valak is wrong.
Picard is able to identify the ship. It is a powered-down Constitution-class starship. He explains that those ships have been retired from active duty some 30 years ago.
Valak, who knows about Starfleet history, accepts the explanation, but still suspects an active, Starfleet presence at Hermeticus II.
In close visual range, Picard is able to identify the ship as the USS Independence. He tells Valak, that this ship disappeared 30 years ago. Only one shuttle was found, all crewmembers aboard were dead. Until that day, the disappearance of the Independence had been a mystery.
Valak decides to board the old ship, taking Picard with him. Picard suggests that Data come as well, since he knows everything about that type of ship and would be able to help to unveil the mystery.
Aboard the Independence, the away team finds the ship powered down, but no bodies can be found. The away team suspects that the crew had enough time to leave the ship, since personal items in the quarters are missing. The power system aboard needed a complete overhaul at a starbase, so Valak stopped worrying about a Federation trap. Nevertheless, Valak wonders how the ship was able to sustain a stable orbit. Data suggested they take a closer look at the planet.
The Syrinx launches a probe and soon discovers that Hermeticus II is hollow.
- Jean-Luc Picard • William T. Riker • Deanna Troi • Data • Beverly Crusher • Worf, Son of Mogh • Geordi La Forge • Arthur • Atalan • Chan • Connors • Darok • Glener • Charmayne Jamal • Korak • Lewis • Morgan Llewellyn • Kiri Nakamura • Morris • Sven Nordqvist • Keiko O'Brien • Miles O'Brien • Ro Laren • Rogers • Alexander Rozhenko • Selok • Talar • Tyler • Valak • Giorgi Vishinski • Wiley • Zorak
- Referenced only
Starships and vehiclesEdit
- USS Enterprise-D (Galaxy-class) • USS Independence (Constitution-class) • IRW Syrinx (D'Kazanak-class) • Romulan shuttle
Races and culturesEdit
States and organizationsEdit
- Romulan Star Empire • Romulan Academy • Romulan High Council • United Federation of Planets • Starfleet • Starfleet Command
- The novel makes mention of a "Romulan High Council" as the leading body of the Star Empire which advised the Praetor yet canon would state that its the Imperial Romulan Senate. Its possible that the High Council possessed power and was eventually replaced by the Senate or the High Council is an entirely separate body within the Star Empire.
- The planet Hermeticus II is said to be located in the Delta Quadrant in the Romulan Neutral Zone. This was perhaps in the time before the galaxy was divided into four quadrants.
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