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Well of Souls

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SummaryEdit

From the back cover 
THE YEAR IS 2336
For twelve years, she was captain of the Federation's flagship. But while her exploits as commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-C are legend, little has been revealed about Rachel Garrett, her vessel, or the unusual men and women of her crew. Until now.
When the archeological find of the decade offers possible hints about an earlier Cardassian civilization, it attracts not merely those seeking to quench their thirst for knowledge, but also parties with far less noble interests. Among the latter is the Asfar Qatala, a notorious criminal cartel with a disturbing connection to one the Enterprise's highest-ranking officers. Now Captain Garrett and her crew are swept into a maelstrom of kidnapping, extortion, and murder—as well as a desperate, secret struggle between the Qatala and its chief rival, the fledgling Orion Syndicate.
And beneath the surface of the frozen world on which the proto-Cardassian discovery was made, another drama is playing out that will force Garrett to make the most difficult decision of her career... amid ruins reputed to link the living with the ancient dead.

SynopsisEdit

6,000 years ago

Nartal, son of the dead Night King, ascends to the throne, though he fails in his royal duty to serve as host to a dithparu, a spirit from the Well of Souls. Instead, Nartal’s bastard brother Ishep sneaks into their father’s tomb in an effort to witness the birth of a dithparu. He encounters Urumtali, goddess of the Well of Souls, who tries to possess the young man, but without Nartal’s guidance, Ishep is lost in the maze-like tomb and never escapes. Nartal’s rule, absent the guidance of the dithparu, ultimately heralds the end of their (Hibetian) civilization, as he lacks the knowledge to maintain the spirits’ mysterious technology.

2336

Captain Rachel Garrett feels overwhelmed. She blames herself for the death of her friend and previous XO Nigel Holmes, her questionable new XO (Samir al-Halak) is on leave, her substitute XO (Darya Bat-Levi) is untried and suffering from her own physical and psychological demons, and Garrett feels unable to delegate her substantial workload. On top of that, she forgot her son Jason’s birthday and her ex-husband, Ven Kaldarren, is threatening to completely expel the constantly disappointing Rachel from their lives. The heavily scarred Bat-Levi blames herself for the death of her brother Joshua. She barely survived the accident that killed him, is now two-thirds artificial organs and robotic implants, and refuses all cosmetic surgery, intent on obviously wallowing in her misery. She also bristles under her mandatory psychiatric sessions with Counselor Yuriel Tyvan that will determine if she’s still fit for duty. During her multiple counseling sessions, Darya shares more details about the accident. She was helping her brother with a vacuum-energy drive experiment, but his haste led to a severe instability. Joshua sacrificed himself to save Darya, but she has never forgiven herself for her inability to save him. She wears her scars and rejects new friendships as a sort of penance. Tyvan’s efforts to draw her out of her shell invariably set her off, though she begins to question her guilt and reevaluate her future.

Despite ongoing tensions between the two, Kaldarren brings Jase on his latest expedition to a dead world near the Cardassian border. Ven was hired (by questionable characters) to use his Betazoid abilities in the search for a lost Hibetian settlement and their fabled psionic interdimensional travel portal (which would explain the presence of non-spacefaring Hibetians away from Cardassia). The ship’s pilot, Leahru-Mar, also brings his nephew Pahl, a boy about Jase’s age with latent telepathic abilities. The venture’s leader, Su Chen-Mai, is looking for great wealth and power for his boss—Mahfouz Qadir, head of the Asfar Qatala—and plans to kill Kaldarren at the successful end of the mission.

Halak delays his shore leave on Betazed for a secret trip to Farius Prime, a hotbed of activity for both the Orion Syndicate and the Asfar Qatala. Though he believes his detour to be discreet, his girlfriend, Lieutenant Anisar “Ani” Batra follows and confronts him. She warily accepts his story about a family emergency, but grows more suspicious as things go from bad to worse. They are attacked by a trio of goons in the streets of Maltabra City and Halak is badly injured. His old family friend, Dalal, gives him some first aid and warns Halak that his “sister” is in mortal danger. Ani learns that Dalal raised Halak and two other children, Baatin and Arava, after all of them were orphaned or abandoned. Baatin worked for the Qatala until it killed him, and Arava took over his responsibilities and is now at similar risk. When they make contact with Arava, she refuses to leave, intent on finishing her undercover mission, but insists on getting the Starfleet officers offplanet as quickly as possible. They go with Arava’s Bolian bodyguard, though his loyalties lie with Qadir and he betrays the pair. Batra is killed in the struggle and Halak bludgeons the Bolian to death out of grief. Halak makes it off Farius and returns to the Enterprise, but Batra’s death and his dubious story (as well as his suspicious past) cause the entire crew to doubt him. Soon after, Starfleet Intelligence officer Lt. Laura Burke and Agent Sivek of the V’Shar arrive and place the commander under official investigation. Garrett realizes that she has never truly accepted (let alone befriended) Halak as he replaced her dead friend, and tries her best to protect Halak, though his lies make her job more difficult. Burke questions Halak about his family connections to the Qatala, his failed mission to Ryn III months earlier, and his trip to Farius. She shares evidence that Halak’s true name is el-Malk, that he is following in his father’s footsteps by working for Qadir, and that Arava is his lover. Halak is caught in several of his lies about Farius and reveals more (though not all) of the truth. Under the orders of S.I.’s Commander Marta Batanides, Halak is remanded to Burke and Sivek for delivery to Starfleet Command for further questioning and possible court martial. Garrett is denied the chance to aid her XO as the Enterprise is ordered on a distant routine survey mission.

While charting the Draavids Nebula (where local radiation disrupts all communications) the Enterprise intercepts a distress call from a disabled colony ship trapped deep within the plasma fields. Garrett orders her ship in, and they are narrowly successful by riding the plasma currents out of the danger zone. When the crew make contact with Starfleet, they learn that Burke and Sivek were imposters and that the real Burke is dead. The real Batanadies orders the Enterprise to track the frauds’ warp shuttle T’Pol into Cardassian space and recover Halak without engaging the Cardassians.

Aboard the T’Pol, Halak only agrees to cooperate with “Burke’s” mission—to find, scan, and destroy the Hibetian interdimensional portal—in exchange for Arava’s safe extraction from Farius. Talma Pren (“Burke’s” true identity) fakes Starfleet orders guaranteeing Arava’s safety, though Halak begins to question her identity. Meanwhile, she plots to get rich, betray Sivek/Vaavek, Chen-Mai, and Mahfouz Qadir, and escape to a life of luxury.

Kaldarren spends nearly 2 weeks trying to find the portal without any luck. He later realizes that he had subconsciously closed off his mind to protect it from the intense mental echoes. Meanwhile, Jase and Pahl feel the pull of the same echoes and discover the tomb and Ishep’s remains. Pahl tries on the mask (a conduit for the dithparu) and is instantly possessed by Urumtali. Ven finds the boys after Jase sends out a mental distress call and offers himself as a vessel in exchange for Pahl’s freedom. Chen-Mai arrives and holds everyone hostage, intent on claiming the treasure himself, but is confronted by Garrett and Dr. Stern who show up moments later. Jase is caught in the middle once Chen-Mai realizes his parentage, but Halak shows up and saves him. Vaavek and Leahru Mar are killed and Chen-Mai flees deeper into the tombs. Ven and Garrett reconcile before he succumbs to Urumtali and dies and the survivors evacuate aboard shuttlepods from the Enterprise and the T’Pol. The T’Pol hides in orbit while the Enterprise hides from and tracks the T’Pol. Cardassian forces arrive and give chase to the shuttles, but Bat-Levi, in command of the Enterprise, manages to ignite the local plasma fields, disabling the Cardassians without actually engaging them and rescuing the shuttle passengers. The starship executes a warp jump near the system’s neutron star, disrupts the gravity well and causing intense solar flares that destroy the system’s planets. Talma ignores the Starfleet offers for assistance and is killed in the flares. On the planet, Chen-Mai suffers the same fate.

Garrett and Halak meet with Qadir, learning that Dalal was killed in a “robbery” but that Arava and her son have been freed from her Qatala obligations. The pair are delivered to Halak in exchange for his renouncing any claims to or revenge on the criminal empire. Garrett throws Talma’s betrayal in Qadir’s face and threatens him if he should ever again interfere with her crew. Halak tells Garrett the truth of the failed Ryn mission and is cleared of all charges after an official Starfleet hearing. He returns to duty and is accepted by his captain and crew. Castillo reveals that he learned of Halak’s side trip and told Batra (his ex-girlfriend) in an effort to disrupt her new relationship. The young ensign feels guilty for his part in her death and forgives Halak for his part. Bat-Levi’s successful command experience spurs her to finally begin to heal and get on with her life.

NotesEdit

Dr Tyvan is an El-Aurian. As a child, he was one of the few survivors from the Lakul, while his mother died in the Nexus.

Naxerans have ebony skin, gold eyes, and a set of frills extending horizontally on either side of their noses. They do not sleep or dream. An undesirable subspecies of the Naxerans, the albino Weyrie, exhibit some telepathic abilities. Their society is divided into castes—G’Dok (ruling class), Leahru (middle class), and Efram (working class). Pahl is half-Naxeran, half-Weyrie and a Leahru, though his maternal ancestry causes him some racist persecution. Thule G'Dok Glemoor served as the Enterprise-C’s tactical officer.

Ryn III Mission While serving on the USS Barker, Halak and Lieutenants Strong and Thex were sent to investigate the trafficking of the illegal narcotic “red ice” by both the Syndicate and the Qatala. Starfleet Intelligence has also secretly tasked Halak with probing into weapons shipments between the Cardassians and the Breen. Unfortunately, he is recognized by an old acquaintance from Farius Prime (and a member of the Qatala), forcing the undercover team to flee the planet. Their shuttle comes under attack by unknown (later learned to be Syndicate) ships. Strong opens fire, destroying the enemy vessels, but their craft is critically damaged and they must evacuate in EVA suits. Thex dies from his injuries soon after and the other two take the oxygen from his suit for themselves. Strong ultimately opens his own suit to space, killing himself and leaving Halak the sole survivor. He is cleared of any wrongdoing, though his crewmates remain distrustful of him, spurring his transfer to the Enterprise. S.I. orders him to keep all of the details secret. For months, Halak claimed that Strong spaced himself while suffering from hypoxia. However, he eventually reveals (to Garrett) that he learned Strong was working for the Syndicate and that he is guessing that Strong’s suicide was motivated by guilt over his betrayal of Starfleet, or the Syndicate’s betrayal of him, or of having caused several deaths.

ReferencesEdit

CharactersEdit

Samir al-HalakAravaDarya Bat-LeviJoshua Bat-LeviMarta BatanidesDarco BulastLaura BurkeRichard CastilloSu Chen-MaiDalalDonaldJason GarrettRachel GarrettThule G'Dok GlemoorIshepVen KaldarrenKlarAnjad KodellLam Leahru-MarMatsaroLeonard "Mac" McCoyNartalPahlTalma PrenMahfouz QadirSivekJo SternStrongThexYuriel TyvanUramtaliVaavek
Referenced only 
Baatin al-HalakNu'man al-HalakRobert AprilJonathan ArcherAnisar BatraTh'leila BokDevlin ConnollyConnorsNajm al Din el-MalkElizabeth ISigmund FreudSarah GarrettJohn HarrimanNigel HolmesJ. Edgar HooverBenton HubbardMolaranna KaldarrenJames T. KirkNashJean-Luc PicardChristopher PikeSpockW. StoutTalokIan Andrew TroiLwaxana TroiFrancis Walsingham

Starships and vehiclesEdit

USS ArgosUSS BarkerUSS BlakelyUSS CarthageUSS Enterprise-BUSS Enterprise-CUSS KallmanSS LakulLionSS Robert FoxT'PolUSS Wheedon
Akril-classlandskimmertrimaran

LocationsEdit

B'Utu AuraBajorBeta Calara IIIBetazedDelta QuadrantDeneb VDraavid nebulae clusterEarthEgyptFarius PrimeGalldean SeaGemini StreetGuangzhouKatanga MountainsKohol DistrictLakarian CityLegara IVLake CatariaMalfabrican sectorMaltabra CityMarsMeir IIIMessier 87 galaxyMiddle EastNaweeth CityNaxeraPacificaPicaRaknal VRed MountainsRigel IIIRura PentheRyn IIISan FranciscoStarbase 5Starbase 12Starbase 32Starbase 129Starbase EarhartStarfleet HeadquartersStarfleet MedicalTajora StreetTsoran mineValley of the KingsVendrak IVVulcan

Races and culturesEdit

AndorianAtreanAtawheanBilananBolianBorgBreenBrothers of LightCaldorianCardassiandithparuEl-AurianHebitianHumanKlingonMetronNaiadNausicaanNaxeranOrganianOrionRynThrellianTrillVulcanWeyrieZetarian

States and organizationsEdit

Asfar QatalaCardassian Central CommandEframFederation Archaeology CouncilFederation Science CouncilG'DokLeahruOralian WayOrion SyndicatePythagos ClansStarfleetStarfleet AcademyStarfleet IntelligenceTarkava InstituteUnited Federation of PlanetsV'SharVulcan Space Central

Other referencesEdit

alpha-currant nectarallira punchanti-scopolaminergic compoundapple-walnut piearkenium duranideAUBell RiotsbloodwoodBraque-EframBreen pulse gunbourbonCatabrian warthogCatrayan porridgeCochrane Medalcoffeecapital punishmentDarwellian long-tongueDenebian feverDenebian plumDenebian watertrumpetDerellian seaslugdeuterondivalent triceronDonoor ratDraken mole ratenergy dampening weaponepinephrinefencingferrocarboniteflanarian birdGABAGreek mythologygreen beansHerbig-Haro formationholomirrorImmelmann turnjevoniteJewishKalo root stewKatanganKatangan mountain lionkatarian emerald grassKefarian appleKelly boltkhbouz markoukklahKlingon coffeeKobayashi Maru scenarioKolvoord StarburstLampan icemongermah-tor-pahlahmamoulMarassian woolMaltaran orange juiceMaltran sea-scallopsmashed potatoesMatrayan blueglowmeatloafMeprean grackleMolov mint teaMorellian cucumberMorolovov gapsumNight KingOralian recitation maskOversoulPerettian glare-hawkPGBCPotroian punchrabbired icesabersaladSaurian brandysehlatserotoninstrombolian firtandoortaspar eggtefloflex spannerTerellian swarmmogtheta radiationthrock-haired shirttitaniumtoj'lathTorkan cavefishTrakian aletriuridiumvacuum energyvermicelliwahmlatWell of Souls (location)Xanarian fleaxenoarchaeologyYridian tea

AppendicesEdit

Related StoriesEdit

ConnectionsEdit

The Lost Era novels
The SunderedSerpents Among the RuinsThe Art of the ImpossibleWell of SoulsDeny Thy FatherCatalyst of SorrowsThe Buried AgeDay of the VipersNight of the WolvesDawn of the EaglesOne Constant Star
published order
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
The Art of the Impossible
Chapters 16-18
Pocket Next Adventure:
Mystery of the Missing Crew
Prologue


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