Red Sector (Star Trek The Next Generation: Double Helix, Book 3)
AbeBooks Mitglied seit 1996
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AbeBooks Mitglied seit 1996
Titel: Red Sector (Star Trek The Next Generation: ...
Verlag: Star Trek
Einband: Mass Market Paperback
Über diesen Titel
Like the biological weapons they employ, a sinister conspiracy has spread across the Delta Quadrant and across many years of Starfleet History. Now the mysterious menace surfaces again -- to strike at the heart of the Romulan Empire. An artificial virus has infected the entire Romulan ruling family. Ambassador Spock must put aside his efforts at unification to summon his old friend, Dr. Leonard McCoy, who discovers that the only hope for a cure lies with a long lost Romulan heir whose blood and tissues have not been contaminated by the virus. But can the heir be found before the collapse of a ruling dynasty throws the entire Empire into chaos?Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"ATTENTION! THIS IS A STARFLEET SPECIAL SECURITY TY FORCES EVACUATION SQUAD! WE ARE ABOUT TO LAND A DIPLOMATIC COACH AND FIVE FIGHTER ESCORTS. ALL CIVILIANS MUST CLEAR THE COURTYARD IMMEDIATELY! ANYONE REMAINING WILL BE STUNNED AND REMOVED TO A SECURITY BRIG! ALL PERSONS...ATTENTION!...THEY'RE NOT CLEARING OUT. CAN THEY EVEN HEAR ME? PERRATON, IS THE TRANSLATOR ON? PECAN, GET YOUR WING BACK INTO FORMATION! WHERE'S THE BROADCAST GREENLIGHT? WHAT KIND OF DUNSELS INSTALLED THIS SYSTEM?"
"AH, PERRATON HERE...STILES, BE AWARE THE BROADCAST SYSTEM IS GREEN AND TRANSLATING. YOU JUST CALLED THE WHOLE PLANET A BUNCH OF DUNSELS."
"SHUT IT DOWN!"
"OAK ONE, THIS IS BRAZIL. FORMATION'S SHIFTING STARBOARD. THE EMBASSY'S GOT A BIG GARGOYLE ON IT AND I'M ABOUT TO CLEAN ITS TEETH."
"LATERAL THRUST. ABORT LANDING PATTERN -- PERRATON, WOULD YOU RED THE P.A. BEFORE I COUGH UP A LUNG?"
"Copy that. Public address speakers are shut down. Fighter formation's still too cramped for diamond grid, Stiles. Acorn just bumped a water tower."
"All wings, pull up! We'll modify formation and try our approach again. Did the whole city hear us arguing?"
"They heard you arguing."
"Ahhh, I should've become a medic...Nuts, Oak One. Go to Ruby formation. Pecan, move two degrees port. Brazil, get off his tail. Acorn, keep your wings trim. Why can't you people hold a hover grid?"
"Oak One, Acorn. It's not us. Stiles, it's you. You have to put the coach down and vertical your stabilizers to give us enough room to land in that courtyard."
"Stabilizers...I hate stabilizers...I was supposed to go in for multi-vehicular flight school this week, but nooo, I had to grab a mission. Listen up! I'll land the coach first, then all wings settle around me five seconds later. Keep it sharp!"
"What's the matter with you, Stiles?" Pilot Andrea Hipp's German accent seemed crisp over the comm. "This isn't synchronized swimming, you know."
"I said no chatter! The ambassador's watching!"
A prattle of aye-ayes settled the issue for the moment, but did nothing for Eric Stiles's stomach, or his icy fingers, or his tingling feet. This command stuff left a lot to be wished for. And his hair was in his eyes...he was looking through a blond curtain. Didn't help.
On the screens of his fully carpeted cockpit, Stiles saw the platinum glitter of the Federation Embassy at PojjanPiraKot seem to rise up to meet him. Actually, he and the coach he piloted were descending into the brick city courtyard, but the illusion of a floating building disoriented him briefly. On the secondary side monitors, the five fighter escorts regrouped into Ruby formation and found the space to wiggle into the brick court, settling around the main coach vessel like baby ducks crowding a drake.
"Doesn't look like I expected it to," he commented. "What are those metal bands on all the buildings?"
"The city's all reinforced." Ensign Travis Perraton's blue eyes peered with fresh curiosity at a smaller monitor as he adjusted the coach's shields to let them land, irritating Stiles with his eternal good mood. "They've got some kind of gravitational problem on this planet. All the buildings have had to be structurally rebuilt over the past few years since it started."
"What kind of gravitational trouble?"
"Something like high tides or earthquakes, I guess. That's what I've heard, anyway."
Stiles wanted to comment, but was busy settling the coach onto its extender pads. The fantasy of brilliant artisanship in moving spaceborne vessels into an atmosphere and landing them in a surefooted, graceful manner had shriveled in his hands. At least that part was over. He trembled with irritation as the system's check barberpoled. Perraton had managed to clear the belly shields. Otherwise, the coach would've sat in the air like a beachball on the water -- and probably rolled over.
"You're down," Perraton confirmed. "You can unclench now."
"Yeah, sure you are. You worried about coming in shielded for the whole twenty hours it took us to get here from the starbase."
Stiles bristled at the suggestion that he wasn't in control. "Emergency diplomatic evacuations have certain regulations attached. Not getting a second chance is just one of the assumptions. Evac regs assume the situation is hostile and precautions have to be -- "
"Don't quote the book."
"Give me a view of the whole courtyard."
Screens around the cockpit flashed views of all six lander pads with irritated civilians scooping dirt out of huge potted plants and dumping it on the ship's pads. So much for respect.
"Are they throwing rocks?" Stiles asked.
"It's garbage." Eying the same screen, Perraton stood up and pulled on his torso armor, buckling the padded vest over his chest. "Some of 'em are throwing balls of mud from those pots."
Stiles straightened. "Secure the coach and scramble the evac squad. Nuts, Oak One. Remain in your cockpits. Do not get out, understood? Sit tight and let Oak Squad flush the dignitaries. I'll escort Ambassador Spock personally."
"They're pushing on my struts. Our light-stun phasers can -- "
"Negative!" Stiles broiled. "Let 'em crowd you. Keep finger shields activated in case they touch the wings. And all of you shut up! I don't want the ambassador to hear the slightest disrespect."
"Oh, we respect you. Don't you respect him, Cashew?"
"I drip respect."
"As you were!"
"As I was? Did I change? I like me this way. Did you change, Acorn?"
"Animals," Stiles grumbled. "I'd like to get you disrespectful slugs on starship duty for five minutes, just five minutes..." He buried himself in padded insulation as he pulled his flak vest over his head, then slipped into his gauntlets, adjusted his sidearm, and led Perraton out into the coach's main seating area.
Here, six other members of Oak Squad were already suited up and looking at him from inside their red-tinted helmet shields. Travis Perraton, Jeremy White, Bill Foster, Dan Moose, Brad Carter, Matt Girvan -- their names and faces swam before his eyes like a manifest, and for a moment he thought the blood was rushing out of his head. Midshipmen and ensigns, all in training for what would eventually become specialties, for now they were assigned to Starbase 10 in the Security Division, under their senior ensign -- Stiles. At twenty-one, Eric Stiles was the old man of the outfit. Perraton was next, at twenty years old and forty-two days junior to Stiles' ensign stripes. Knowing that they had heard the ribbing he took from the wings, Stiles felt his face flush. He had to lead the mission. He'd gotten himself into this on purpose. He had to address them as a commander. Nobody to hide behind. They'd seen the landing. His dream of a crisp textbook military approach and regulation landing had gone up in an ugly puff. Now the squad members were blushing and snickering, burying grins, trying not to look right at him -- that was hard to take!
"Heads up." His voice cracked. "There's a riot going on outside. Some kind of local political trouble. The embassy is beam-shielded, so we have to go in the security door. As we approach, the guard will drop the door shields. We'll have to go in and come out in single file. We're going to put the dignitaries between us, at two or three in a row. There are about twenty of these people, so the seven of us'll be just about right. I'll go last, with the ambassador right in front of me. He's the primary person to guard, and if he gets so much as a hangnail, somebody's gonna answer to me in a dark alley. After we go -- shut up, Foster!"
"I didn't say anything!" Bill Foster protested.
"Quit snickering! This is...this is -- "
"Serious," Perraton supplied.
"I know, Eric," Foster muttered.
"You call me 'Ensign,' mister!"
"Aye aye, Ensign Mister."
"I want this mission to go like clockwork! I don't want a single twitch that isn't in the rule book! Don't snicker, don't slip, don't do anything that isn't regulation!"
A hand was pressed to his shoulder and drew him backward a step on the plush carpet.
"Everything'll go fine, Eric," Perraton mildly interrupted. "We're ready when you are." His short dark hair was buried under a white helmet with Starfleet's Delta Shield printed on the forehead, now obscured by the raised red visor. The shield glowed and sang at Stiles. Starfleet's symbol.
And Stiles had to make it look good. In the wake of Perraton's mental leashing, the symbol now lay heavily upon him. If he couldn't yell at his men, how would he keep them in shape?
He huffed a couple of steadying breaths, but didn't lower his voice. Now that he'd gotten up to a certain level of volume, it was hard to reel in from that. He took a moment to survey the squad -- bright white helmets, black leggings, white boots, red chest pads against the black Starfleet jumpsuits, and the bright flicker of a combadge on every vest. Elbow pads, chin guards, red visors...looked fair. Good enough.
Time to go.
"There are riots going on," he repeated, "but so far nobody's tried to breach the embassy itself. Our job is to clear a path between the coach and the embassy and get all Federation nationals out. These people don't have a space fleet, but their atmospheric capabilities are strong enough to cause a few problems. I won't consider the mission accomplished until we're clear of the stratosphere. When we get out of the coach, completely ignore the people swarming around unless they come within two meters or show a weapon. Clear?"
"Clear, sir!" Carter, Girvan, Moose, and Foster shouted. Perraton nodded, and White raised his rifle. Had they accented the "sir" just a little too much?
Stiles stepped between them and the hatch. "Mobilize!"
Perraton took that as a cue, and punched the autorelease on the big hatch. The coach's loading ramp peeled back and lay neatly across the brick before them. Instantly the stench of burning fuel flooded the controlled atmosphere inside the coach. At Stiles's side, Perraton coughed a couple of times. Other than that, nobody's big mouth cracked open. Stiles led the way down, his heavy boots thunking on the nonskid ramp.
They broke out onto a courtyard of grand proportions with colonnades flanking it on three sides and the diplomatic buildings on the fourth side -- a battery of fifteen embassies, halls, and consulates. Most of them were empty now. The Federation was the last to evacuate. Two of the colonnades were in ruins; part of one was shrouded in scaffolding while being rebuilt. Most of the buildings showed signs of structural damage, but generally the Diplomatic Court of PojjanPirakot was a stately and bright place, providing a sad backdrop for the ugliness of these protests.
A quick glance behind showed him the positions of the five fighters landed around the coach. Their glistening bodies, streamlined for both aerodynamics and space travel, shined in the golden sunlight. There was Air Wing Leader Bernt Folmer, their best pilot, code "Brazil," parked like a big car in front of Greg "Pecan" Blake. Behind the coach the tail fin of Andrea Hipp's "Cashew" fighter caught a glint of sun. On the other side, hopefully parked nose to tail, were Acorn and Chestnut, brothers Jason and Zack Bolt -- but Stiles didn't bother to check their position. He only hoped they were in sharp order.
All around were angry people waving signs, some in a language he didn't understand, others scrawled in English, Vulcan, Spanish, Orion Yrevish, and a few other languages familiar from courtesy placards all over Starfleet Command where multitudes wandered.
The ones in English jumped out instantly before Stiles's racing mind. OUT ALIENS...LEAVE OUR PLANET...GET OUT STRANGERS...ALIENS UNWELCOME...CURSE ALIENS ALL....
Some of the people were calling out in English, too, though clumsily and without really understanding the arrangement of nouns and verbs. The anti-alien message, though, arrowed directly through to the team.
To the music of enraged shouts from the people rattling gates and creating a din by banging small silver knives on the iron posts, Oak Squad broke into a jog and flooded into a broad shield of sunlight glaring between the embassy and the consulate next door. The doorways and lintels were heavily reinforced with titanium T-girders, and titanium bands swept around every building, two on each story, like shiny ribcages. Stiles glanced around at his squad, making sure nobody pulled ahead of the formation. This had to be crisp. The ambassador was watching from some window inside that embassy. Everybody was watching.
Oak Squad thundered forward relentlessly, their phaser rifles tight against their chests. As Stiles led his men across the patterned brick, he saw that just the raw heat from the coach's VTOL thrusters had scorched some of the bricks nearly black and pitted them beyond repair, destroying the geometric design in the historic courtyard.
His boots felt secure and thick as he crunched over the litter of broken glass, smashed fruit, and rocks that had been thrown by the rioters, who were now milling around the fighters and the coach. These Pojjan people were stocky and thick, with strong round cheekbones and bronze complexions tinged with an olive Patina, reminding Stiles of Aztec paintings seen under a green filter. They wore various clothing from the men's ordinary shirts and pants or the women's shiftlike dresses to the brightly beaded tribal tunics and leggings he'd seen on travel posters.
The travel agencies might as well rip those posters up. Nobody was going to want to come to this dump anymore.
He cast the rioters a threatening glance or two, but although some were touching the ships' landing struts, they weren't doing anything destructive. Not yet anyway. If anything happened, the escort pilots would zap them. So he kept moving forward at a pace, letting the natives swerve out of his way. He led the squad manfully through a large puddle of fuel, some of which was still gulping out of a discarded and dented container. Their boots splattered it and freshened the stench.
Cries of anger, protest, and insult at Starfleet's intrusion into their courtyard grew louder, as the squad jogged across the brick plateau. Stiles didn't understand the Pojjan language, but some of these people were shouting in English or Vulcan and waving get-out-of-town banners in English, apparently smart enough to know how to get to the Federation personnel.
It's getting to me. I'm allowing it to shake me. Just do the job, get the people out of the embassy, into the coach and lift off. Ignore the crowd. Just ignore them.
At his right elbow, Travis Perraton was watching a gang of Pojjan teenagers on the other side of the embassy fence. A flas...
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