(written from a Production point of view)
Captain Jonathan Archer's Enterprise and Captain Erika Hernandez' Columbia become embroiled in the shocking events that became the infamous Starfleet Academy no-win scenario.
- From the book jacket
- To protect the cargo ships essential to the continuing existence of the fledgling Coalition of Planets, the captains of the United Earth's Starfleet are ordered to interstellar picket duty, with little more to do than ask "Who goes there?" into the darkness of space.
- Captain Jonathan Archer of the Enterprise seethes with frustration, wondering if anyone else can see what he sees. A secret, closed, militaristic society, convinced that their survival hangs by a thread, who view their neighbors as a threat to their very existence – the Spartans of ancient Greece, the Russians of the old Soviet Union, the Koreans under Kim Il-sung – with only one goal: attain ultimate power, no matter the cost. The little-known, never-seen Romulans seem to live by these same principles.
- The captain realizes that the bond between the signers of the Coalition charter is fragile and likely to snap if pushed. But he knows that the Romulans are hostile, and he believes they are the force behind the cargo ship attacks. If asked, Archer can offer no proof without endangering his friend's life.
- To whom does he owe his loyalty: his friend, his world, the Coalition? And by choosing one, does he not risk losing all of them? What is the solution to a no-win scenario?
The story begins with Captains Archer and Hernandez griping about their current assignment. Patrolling the space lanes between Earth and Draylax due to an increase in attacks on ECA ships, Archer is convinced that the Romulans are behind the attacks given their history of aggression against the Coalition. Unfortunately neither Starfleet nor the Coalition Council believe his "gut feeling." Even an appearance before the Coalition to plead his case and to ask to be allowed to investigate possible Romulan involvement in the recent attacks does not convince them.
Tucker, who was working under the disguise of a deceased Romulan scientist name Cunaehr, continues his mission on Romulus assisting on their warp seven program. In reporting back to his handler, who warns him of the danger of going native and even goes so far as to suggest that Tucker may have to kill Erehin i'Ramnau tr'Avrak, the chief scientist on the project. Later, Ejhoi Ormiin terrorists attack the research labs, steal warp seven drive data and kill Erehin. During Erehin's funeral, Tucker gives himself away by performing a Vulcan funeral ritual by accident and comes to Valdore's attention. As a test of loyalty for "Cunaehr," Valdore sends Tucker and Centurion Terix to investigate a Ejhoi Ormiin compound and recover the stolen data.
Admiral Valdore unveils and tests the next stage of his plan to divide and conquer the Coalition. A new device called "telecapture" has the ability to hack on board systems of any starship and put it under the control of the Romulans. Having secured three Klingon vessels, Valdore uses them to attack an allied planet, trying provoke the Coalition into action against the Klingon Empire. The Enterprise and the Columbia are unsuccessful in destroying the remote-controlled Klingon warships until real Klingons show up, destroy the attackers and promptly leave. With the Coalition ready to go to war against the Klingons, the Enterprise is dispatched to Qo'noS to deliver an ultimatum to the Klingon Empire. Archer defeats Admiral Krell in a duel in order to secure video records that show the Klingon attackers were being remote controlled. During this time, T'Pol begins having "psychic" visions that Tucker is in danger. She and Reed steal one of Enterprise's shuttles and sneak into Romulan space, with the help of T'Pol's Vulcan spy contacts, to save Tucker.
Tucker and Terix find the compound being run by Vulcan spy Captain Sopek, who also exposes Tucker's true identity. Terix dispatches the Ejhoi Ormiin soldiers and is about to kill Tucker when T'Pol and Reed arrive just in time to save him. Sopek takes Terix and escapes. Tucker chooses to return to Romulus to continue his mission and T'Pol and Reed, satisfied that Tucker is alive, return to Enterprise. During his journey, Tucker is abducted by Sopek, who is revealed to be a Romulan double agent working for Valdore and helping to test the telecapture system.
While Columbia fights telecaptured Vulcan ships on the Coalition border, Enterprise is ordered to the Gamma Hydra sector to escort the Kobayashi Maru, a ship transporting equipment for a Vulcan spy outpost, which has struck a gravitic mine and is damaged and dead in space. Sopek plans to lure Enterprise into a trap with the Maru's distress call and telecapture it, but Tucker manages to send a covert message to Archer, warning him that the Maru can't be saved. Archer attempts the rescue operation but can't beam Maru's survivors aboard due to gravimetric interference. Telecaptured Klingon ships warp into the system and attempt to telecapture Enterprise; reluctantly, Archer orders a withdrawal, and the Klingon ships destroy the Kobayashi Maru. While this is occurring, Tucker manages to sabotage Sopek's ship and rig it to self-destruct. He takes Sopek prisoner and they escape in a lifepod, only to be pulled towards a gravitic mine. The novel ends with news breaking all over Earth that the Coalition has declared war on the Romulans.
- The title and publication date were revealed at the New York Comic-Con in February 2007.
- A teaser image released by the authors (seen below) featured Romulan script which gave a further hint as to the ultimate direction of the story, specifically that "THE ROMULAN WAR BEGINS LATE 2008".
- Material from the novel was included in the Star Trek - Convention Special – along with material from Greater than the Sum and Gods of Night – at the New York Comic-Con in mid-April 2008.
- The novel states that it was in fact the ECS Horizon that left "The Book" behind on Sigma Iotia II.
- Memory Alpha receives an acknowledgment from the authors.
- Cover art by Doug Drexler.
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