(written from a Production point of view)
While transporting Federation ambassadors to a Romulan peace negotiation, a series of unexplained murders takes place aboard the USS Enterprise – and Captain Kirk is the prime suspect.
- From the book jacket
- The U.S.S. Enterprise undertakes a highly sensitive mission, ferrying ambassadors from across the Federation to controversial peace talks. One by one, the opponents of the proposed détente with the Romulans are murdered – victims of a mysterious Angel of Death. And the killer may be an Enterprise crew member – maybe even Captain James T. Kirk…
During an away mission to Delta Gamma IV, Captain Kirk and the USS Enterprise crew encounters a field of blue flower-like organisms. These "Oz Poppies," as they are nicknamed, reproduce by emitting a cloud of spores. The away team is caught in a cloud of these spores, and three of them perish before Dr. McCoy discovers a cure. The six remaining members of the away team (including Kirk, Spock, and M'Benga) remain in an unexplained coma for ten days after the exposure. They awaken suddenly with no apparent side effects – except that four of the six crewmembers no longer dream.
The Enterprise is routed to Starbase 7 to pick up a diverse group of thirteen ambassadors, led by Ambassador Sarek. The ambassadors are heading to Détente Station One for peace talks with the Romulans. Several days into the journey, Ambassador Agnatha is found dead of apparently natural causes. Two days away from Détente Station One, Ambassador Neko is found dead in his quarters, also of apparently natural causes. Both of the deceased ambassadors were among the most outspoken opponents of the treaty with the Romulans, so a suspicious Kirk asks Starfleet for help. Starfleet places the ship under quarantine and assigns a member of the Special Security Division, Colonel Elizabeth Schaeffer, to investigate the deaths.
A mysterious creature known as the "Angel of Death" is visiting the remaining ambassadors, warning that if they do not support the peace treaty with the Romulans, they will die like Agnatha and Neko. This Death Angel appears to each ambassador in the form of the mythological bringer of death for their culture. Col. Schaeffer believes Ambassador Naja of Dalzell is the next likely target after he receives a warning from a glowing winged serpent. She spends the night guarding him in his quarters, only to witness the aged ambassador dying peacefully in his sleep.
A fourth ambassador, Rovar of Hemiptera, is torn to pieces in his quarters after giving a vehement speech against the Romulan peace treaty. Guards were present outside his door during the entire attack, but no one is seen entering or leaving. Out of options, Col. Schaeffer turns to the supernatural for an explanation. Through interviewing the remaining ambassadors, she discovers that Captain Kirk was seen outside Ambassador Agnatha's quarters shortly before his time of death. Kirk remembers seeing the two witnesses in the corridor outside Agnatha's quarters – but he maintains it was only a dream and that he was never actually there.
Of the six surviving members of the Delta Gamma IV away mission, only Kirk and Spock have retained the ability to dream. Col. Schaeffer interrogates Spock and discovers that he too has had a dream that was not a dream. In his case, he was engaging in sexual relations with a female lieutenant aboard the Enterprise while she was in a dream state.
Dr. McCoy determines that the Oz Poppies reproduce by passing spores along to a race of mice with telepathic abilities, who then deposit the spores elsewhere in the course of their dreamed travels. He and Col. Schaeffer theorize that the ability to project the subconsciousness outside the body during REM sleep was unlocked in Kirk and Spock by the infestation of the spores from Delta Gamma IV. Of the six infected crew members, only Kirk and Spock have a high enough psi factor (or esper rating) to remember their spore-induced dream travels. They believe one of the remaining four crewmen may be projecting the Angel of Death apparition without being aware of it.
During an onboard debate about the Romulan détente, Dr. McCoy gives an impassioned speech against the treaty. Col. Schaeffer is convinced that this will result in a visit from the Angel of Death, and stands guard inside Dr. McCoy's quarters that evening. She witnesses the appearance of a white-robed Terran Angel of Death, whom she recognizes as an astral projection of Dr. M'Benga. Spock and Kirk are able to tap into their spore-derived projection abilities to create an image of a god-like being that convinces the Angel of Death to spare McCoy's life. M'Benga is given treatment to prevent the reoccurrence of the projections, and the Romulan negotiations continue on schedule.
"There must be peace in the Universe, there must be a détente between the Romulans and the Federation, and eventually between the Federation and the Klingons. We have had enough bloodshed. I am tired of bloodshed. I grieve at the bleeding bodies I must deal with day after day. I am the Angel of Death."
- - Dr. M'Benga, while manifested as the Death Angel
- This novel marked the end of an association that began with the James Blish novelizations in the late 1960s. Pocket Books, which had already been awarded the Star Trek novel rights at this point, would launch its own series of original novels two months later with The Entropy Effect by Vonda McIntyre.
- This is Kathleen Sky's second Star Trek book. Her first was Vulcan!.
- The novel was reprinted by Titan Books in 1995 as part of their Star Trek Adventures series.
- Though the stardate is given at several points in the novel, the year is never explicitly stated. Ambassador Sarek makes several references to his stay on the Enterprise in TOS: "Journey to Babel", which occurred in 2268. This places the year of this book between 2268 and 2270, the end of the first five-year mission.
- Canon characters listed below are linked to the main article about them. Non-canon characters are not linked, but those that recurred, appearing or being mentioned in more than one story, are defined further in Bantam TOS characters.
Crew of the USS Enterprise
- James T. Kirk
- Captain of the Enterprise and survivor of the Delta Gamma IV spore infestation. The residual effects of the infestation left him with the ability to project his subconciousness while sleeping, which made him a prime suspect in the murders of the ambassadors aboard the Enterprise. The aftereffects also left him in a heightened emotional state, during which he made an unsuccessful proposal of marriage to Elizabeth Schaeffer. He maintained a staunchly neutral position on the Romulan peace treaty.
- First Officer of the Enterprise and survivor of the Delta Gamma IV spore infestation. During his spore-induced projections, the Human part of his subconsciousness initiated sexual relations with a member of the crew, an event which caused his waking self much distress.
- Montgomery Scott
- Chief engineer of the Enterprise, in command of the ship while Kirk and Spock were comatose.
- Dr. Leonard McCoy
- Chief medical officer of the Enterprise, and responsible for conducting the autopsies on the deceased ambassadors. After speaking out against the proposed Romulan détente, he was targeted by the Angel of Death and almost killed.
- Communications officer aboard the Enterprise.
- Hikaru Sulu
- Helmsman of the Enterprise.
- Christine Chapel
- Chief nurse aboard the Enterprise. She had romantic feelings for Spock and showed considerable distress while he was comatose.
- A doctor and specialist in alien races. He interned on Vulcan, where he studied the Vulcan mind control techniques he used to calm the ambassadors. As a survivor of the Delta Gamma IV away mission, he developed the ability to produce an astral projection when in a dream state, though he was unaware that it was happening. His projected subconcious appeared as the Angel of Death to frighten the ambassadors into voting for the Romulan détente in an attempt to stop the casualties from the Romulan-Federation hostilities.
- Transporter operator aboard the Enterprise.
- Dr. Ruth Rigel
- Specialist in exobiology and veterinarian aboard the Enterprise. Granted a temporary field commission as a physician to help McCoy deal with the needs of the more exotic ambassadors.
- Lt. Cdr. Greg Collier
- Ranking security officer on the Enterprise.
- Security officer who died of cerebral breakdown caused by infestation of the Delta Gamma IV spores.
- Security officer who died of cerebral breakdown caused by infestation of the Delta Gamma IV spores.
- Miriam Raymond
- Medical technician who died of cerebral breakdown caused by infestation of the Delta Gamma IV spores.
- Jeff Carter
- Doctor aboard the Enterprise who developed violent tendencies after being exposed to the Delta Gamma IV spores.
- Bobby Robinson
- Security officer who was rendered comatose by exposure to the Delta Gamma IV spores, but was otherwise unaffected due to his low psi factor.
- Grace Temple
- Crewman who gained almost fifteen kilos after her being infected with the Delta Gamma IV spores.
Ambassadors traveling aboard the Enterprise
- Agnatha of Jezero
- A lamprey-like being who required a special tank to survive aboard the Enterprise. He was a strong opponent of the peace treaty until his death.
- Damu of Chiroptera
- An ambassador who reminded Capt. Kirk of a Terran vampire, due to his appearance and his species' custom of taking nourishment from mammalian blood. The inhabitants of Chiroptera harvested their blood from stock animals, as opposed to killing for it like the vampires of lore. Damu was neutral on the issue of the treaty.
- Edentata of Tandenborstel
- A retiring armadillo-like ambassador who kept to himself during the entire voyage. His position on the treaty was neutral.
- Hotep of Djoser
- A polymorphite whose slight shape-changing abilities were directly related to the amount of energy he consumed. He was neutral in regards to the peace treaty, as his sole interest in this mission was the amount of food he could eat.
- Karhu of Hanaja
- A large bear-like ambassador who intentionally magnified his ursine characteristics to appear less threatening. He was in favor of the peace treaty.
- Naja of Dalzell
- A feathered snake-like diplomat who was opposed to the peace treaty, partly due to his dislike of Romulans. Before the truth of the Death Angel was discovered, his death was attributed to his advanced age of 157 years.
- Neko of Gyuunyuu
- A large grey felinoid with violent tendencies who was strongly opposed to the Romulan treaty, partially because of his extreme dislike of all Vulcanoid species.
- Rovar of Hemiptera
- An insectoid who had a strong dislike of the Romulans and therefore opposed the peace treaty. He died of massive self-inflicted wounds after a visit from the Angel of Death.
- Sirenia of Cetacea
- An amphibious humanoid who was romantically involved with Ambassador Agnatha. She was in favor of the peace treaty.
- Sarek of Vulcan
- A representative of the Federation Council and the lead ambassador on this mission. He was the strongest supporter of the peace treaty, but spent most of the trip ill in his quarters.
- Si-s-s-s(click) of Gavialian
- A blue crocodilian who supported the peace treaty. As is customary of his people, Si-s-s-s(click) enjoyed "persona games," in which he would adopt the characteristics of a specific fictional character or genre. During his stay on the Enterprise, he adopted the personas of Don Juan the romantic, Sherlock Holmes the detective, and Sam Spade, a character from an archaic Terran detective film called The Maltese Falcon.
- Spiracles, a Gyomorian
- A slender, winged creature who suffered from heavy oxygen intoxication in the atmosphere of the Enterprise. His people cocoon into a chrysalis form when threatened. Originally neutral in regards to the peace treaty, he became a supporter of it after his visitation from the Angel of Death.
- Telson of Manteiga
- A member of the Federation Council and a grandmaster chess player who supported the Romulan/Federation treaty. He bore a strong resemblance to a three-meter long Terran lobster with a bright yellow carapace.
Special Security Division
- Lt. Col. Derek Gleason
- A Special Security Division officer who was assigned to Détente Station One to assist in the security preperations for the Romulan negotiations.
- Col. Alexis Gregorovich Schaeffer
- A Special Security Division officer assigned to Détente Station One, and the husband of Elizabeth Schaeffer. He lifted the quarantine on the Enterprise before the investigation was complete so that he could discuss the renewal of the marriage contract with his wife. For this abuse of his position, he was demoted back to Lieutenant Colonel.
- Col. Elizabeth Schaeffer
- A Special Security Division officer who was assigned to investigate the deaths aboard the Enterprise. She was of Terran, Arcturian, Vulcan, and Laudarian origins, and was raised in an SSD creche. She was selected as a cadet at the age of fifteen (in about 2250). During her stay on the Enterprise, she became romantically involved with Captain Kirk and decided not to renew her marriage contract with Alexis Schaeffer.
- Amanda Grayson
- The mother of Spock and an old friend of Colonel Elizabeth Schaeffer. Schaeffer used her pheromones to mimic Amanda's scent in an effort to soothe a distraught Spock.
- Angel of Death
- A psychic manifestation of M'Benga's subconsciousness that appeared to each ambassador in the guise of the mythological harbinger of death of their culture. The Angel of Death killed the ambassadors through the power of suggestion, as opposed to actual physical means. This manifestation was terminated shortly after stardate 6982.3 as M'Benga began receiving treatment and counseling for the aftereffects of the spores.
- Marmaluke of Antares
- Chief of Federation Diplomatic Corps
- Delta Gamma Four
- Planet explored by the Enterprise to assess its suitability for colonization. It was determined to be unsuitable after the crew encountered the spores.
- Détente Station One
- Location of the Romulan-Federation peace talks, located near the Romulan Neutral Zone.
- The standard language of the Federation.
- A humanoid species that is characterized by the ability to sense, analyze, and emit pheromones. Elizabeth Schaeffer used this ability to present an image of "likeability," as well as to soothe the distraught ambassadors.
- A chemical compound equivalent to Human adrenaline in the people of Jezero. Ambassador Agnatha was found to have a very high level of ongrene in his blood at the time of his death, showing he was agitated.
- Oz Poppies
- A blue flower-like organism on Delta Gamma IV that reproduced by discharging spores, which were then dispersed during astral projections by a race of telepathic mice.
- Psi factors
- A measure of a person's psionic energy or esper rating, as referenced in "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Of the away party survivors, Kirk and Spock had the highest psi factors, followed by M'Benga.
- XK Needle
- An experimental speedcraft of the Special Security Division, needle-shaped and very small. Col. Schaeffer's speedcraft was rigged to act as a bomb powerful enough to destroy the Enterprise in case the quarantine was breached. She wore the trigger as a bracelet.
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