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The Federation faces extinction from an awesome new weapon.

The Pandora Principle is a Pocket TOS novel – #49 in the numbered series – written by Carolyn Clowes. Published by Pocket Books, it was first released in April 1990.


From the book jacket
A Romulan Bird-of-Prey mysteriously drifts over the Neutral Zone and into Federation territory. Admiral Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise investigate, only to find the ship dead in space. When Starfleet orders the derelict ship brought to Earth for investigation, the Enterprise returns home with perhaps her greatest prize.
But the Bird-of-Prey carries a dangerous cargo, a deadly force that is soon unleashed in the heart of the Federation. Suddenly, the only hope for the Federation's survival lies buried in the tortured memory of Commander Spock's protégé, a cadet named Saavik. Together, Spock and Saavik must return to the nightmare world of Saavik's birth, a planet called Hellguard, to discover the secret behind the Romulans' most deadly threat of all.

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


While the Enterprise is patrolling the edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone, a rogue ship stumbles across from Romulan space. A single survivor – a Vulcan woman named T'Pren – mind melds with Spock shortly before dying, sharing memories of half-Vulcan children left to die on 872 Trianguli V, a failed colony of the Romulan Star Empire known as "Hellguard."

Spock discreetly shares this information with his father and other Vulcan elders, who make a secret trip into the Neutral Zone and land on Hellguard. Their scans confirm their worst expectations: the children are half-Vulcan, linking Hellguard with the mysterious disappearances of the crews of four Vulcan ships lost during the last ten years. The children themselves, with ages ranging from five to fourteen years, are the results of rape.

Everyone agrees that the children must be rescued, but Spock stuns the elders there by insisting that they must be returned to their Vulcan families, despite their mixed heritage. Sarek coldly dismisses him from the meeting. While wandering on his own in the Hellguard night, Spock is ambushed and nearly killed by a feral boy, who is himself killed by an equally feral girl, no more than nine or ten years old. Spock tries to communicate with her, but she runs away.

The next morning, the team's healer, Salok, wryly informs Spock that his suggestion was grudgingly accepted by the elders. Sarek makes an appeal for the children to appear, promising food and shelter, but the girl Spock saw does not appear until the very last moment. Mistrustful, she refuses to come with the others, until Spock convinces her to hand over her knife, giving her his tricorder as a toy in return.

Part One

Spock takes a year's leave from Starfleet to educate the young Saavik. He has little choice at first – volatile and mistrustful, Saavik refuses to submit to a genetic scan to determine her Vulcan relatives, and will accept no one but Spock in her life. Yet he is surprised to find that he enjoys the experience. Saavik has no need for sympathy or emotional comfort; the thing she wants more than anything is one thing Spock has in abundance: knowledge. In return, she accepts (and reveres) him just as he is, never judging him by the conflicting standards of his two ancestries (Vulcan and Human). After a year, they say their goodbyes, Saavik promising that one day she will follow in his footsteps and enlist in Starfleet.

While the Enterprise is, again, patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone, a Bird-of-Prey drifts across the Neutral Zone. Aboard, the Enterprise away team finds a skeleton crew, killed by a coolant leak, with the ship locked on an automatic course to Starbase 10. At first it seems foolish for the Romulans to have sent a single ship towards one of the Federation's most heavily defended outposts, but Montgomery Scott reports that the ship is equipped with a prototype cloaking device that enables warp drive and weapons operation while the cloak is in place.

Starfleet Command is so alarmed at this discovery that it orders Enterprise to tow the ship back to Earth, immediately.

In a remote corner of the Empire, Praetor Tahn attends a meeting of "The Ten", a secret military faction engaged in its own private war against the Federation, and the "cowards" in the Romulan government. One member excitedly reports to their leader, the First, that the Federation has taken the bait...

As the Enterprise approaches Earth, James T. Kirk is infuriated to receive a "friendly" lunch invitation from Admiral Nogura, which Kirk sees as a scheme to make Kirk finally give up command of the Enterprise and take his seat at Starfleet Headquarters, as befits his rank.

On the Romulan ship, the away team found a series of simple glass cubes, with a colorful light display inside. No one can guess what the cubes are for; Leonard McCoy jokingly suggests that they might be artworks, if one could expect to find such things aboard a Romulan military vessel. When they reach Earth, Spock decides to send one for analysis at Headquarters.

Despite the seriousness of their mission, many of the Enterprise crew are overjoyed to return home, while Saavik feels a very un-Vulcan excitement at finally visiting her mentor's ship, about which he has told her so many enthralling stories. But while the rest of the crew are enjoying leave, Kirk slips into "The Vault," a Cold War-era bomb shelter underneath San Francisco, converted into a last-resort command center in case of war. This is the only place where Kirk can access, and delete, Nogura's orders assigning him to Headquarters duties, which he plans to do and be back aboard the Enterprise and shipping out within twenty-four hours.

Disaster strikes: under a simple scanning device in Headquarters, the glass box ruptures, releasing a bioweapon into the air that kills everyone in the building in a manner of seconds. Only sheer luck allows the security system to seal the building and prevent the weapon from escaping into Earth's atmosphere. Kirk finds himself sealed into the Vault beneath headquarters, unharmed but trapped.

After their tour of the ship, Spock and Saavik retire to his quarters. When she glimpses an image of the box on his computer terminal, she staggers backward in horror. She thought it was a dream, but now she knows it was not; she has seen those boxes before, in a cave on Hellguard – and they numbered in the thousands.

Memorable quotes

"Mr. Spock, I would like to ask a question..."

- Cadet Saavik (repeated passim)

"So you are not afraid. Then come with me and you shall have your stars."

- Spock, to the young Saavik

"To you Humans will seem irrational, frivolous, full of contradictions and continually exasperating- – all of which is true. They are also inventive, capable of greatness, and worthy of study."

- Spock, welcoming 'Saavik' to Starfleet Academy

"...and I would appreciate further discussion of the word 'fun,' which seems to be the underlying basis of Human behavior. On that subject, I have a number of questions..."

- Saavik, in her return message to Spock

"Look, Spock! Rabbits!"
"Yes. Introduced for the predators after the drought. Terran, Oryctolagus cuniculus; family Leporidae, order Lagomorpha, class Mammalia, subphylum-"
"What are they doing?"
"...mating, Saavik. Subphylum Vertebrata, phylum-"
"To make more rabbits? But they have too many already!"

- Saavik and Spock

"Why are there too many rabbits, but not too many Vulcans?"
"Rabbits mate as often as every six weeks, whereas Vulcans must mate only once every seven years."

- Saavik and Spock

"I am glad you did not die, Spock. You or your captain."
"I too, Saavikam."
"She was a bitch!"
"That is, among other things, inaccurate. The term refers-"
"Oh, I know what it refers – and that's what she was!"

- Saavik and Spock, on T'Pring

"I wouldn't have missed this for anything. That kid's not giving Spock a minute's peace – and he's as happy as a clam."

- Uhura, to herself, watching Saavik and Spock on the Enterprise bridge

"Computer, stick that back up the admiral's... database."

- James T. Kirk, discovering Admiral Nogura's order to assign him to Starfleet Headquarters

"I also suggested that he contact T'Pau on Vulcan, but for some reason he seemed disinclined to do that."
"No doubt."

- Saavik and Spock, on Admiral Nogura

"That is the subject of our discussion, except for the question of my exact age. Since I... am not certain, he asked who spoke for me in matters of consent. Why?"
"A Human technicality. It is of no consequence, except to them. What did you answer?"
"That I speak for myself! And if that was insufficient, you would speak for me.

- Saavik and Spock

"How does he do it, change expressions like that without moving a muscle in his face?"

- Leonard McCoy, to himself, watching Spock's reaction to his catalog of Saavik's childhood injuries

"Wait a minute, Spock! Her blood scan shows that she's half-Romulan. Does she know that? And does it have something to do with how she got these injuries?"
"Of course she knows, doctor. And it has everything to do with it."
"That son of a... now he tells me!"

- Leonard McCoy and Spock

"It's just all this waiting! But that's what they say, isn't it, sir – that the waiting's always the worst.'"
"Then they're wrong, Michaels. The waiting is not the worst."

- Adjutant Michaels and Admiral Nogura, the latter recalling his ancestor's death at Hiroshima during World War II

"Do you find this interesting?"

- Spock and Saavik

Background information

Cover gallery


Canon characters

James T. Kirk
Leonard McCoy
Montgomery Scott
Hikaru Sulu
Pavel Chekov

Original characters

Robert Harper


officially designated 872 Trianguli V, this planet's name in the Romulan language, Thieurrull, translates as "Hellguard". Located in the Romulan Neutral Zone, the Romulans attempted to colonize the planet, but later abandoned it. It became the testing grounds for "The Ten"'s experimental bio-weapon. The planet was referenced in the earlier novel The Romulan Way by Diane Duane as the site of the "Thieurrull Atrocity," and later in Margaret Wander Bonanno's novel Unspoken Truth.
Pandora's Box
USS Constitution
Gamma Eridani
"Amok Time": Spock relates to Saavik the story of his failed koon-ut-kal-if-fee on Vulcan, and his broken betrothal with T'Pring;
"The Corbomite Maneuver": Saavik re-lives the Enterprise countdown to self-destruction when she steps onto the bridge;
"The Tholian Web": Saavik re-lives the Enterprise capture by the Tholians when she steps onto the bridge;
"Space Seed": Saavik re-lives Khan Noonien Singh's hijacking of the Enterprise when when she steps onto the bridge;
"The City on the Edge of Forever": Saavik re-lives Leonard McCoy's near-disastrous self-medication when she steps onto the bridge;
Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Spock confesses to Saavik his failure to become an initiate in Kohlinar, shortly before his return to the Enterprise crew;
"The Menagerie, Part I": Spock admits to his own hijacking of the Enterprise, to make his point to Saavik that orders may sometimes be disobeyed for the greater good, but that does not excuse a lack of proper planning.
a venerated brand of Scotch on Earth; Achernar has several ancient bottles in his ship's cargo, and gifts them to Montgomery Scott.
Treasure Island
A young ensign in The Vault shows Admiral Kirk an antique copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel, which Kirk fondly remembers from his own childhood.
World War II
Admiral Nogura's most prized possession is an ancient bonsai tree that belonged to an ancestor who died during the atom bomb explosion at Hiroshima during World War II; the tree miraculously survived the explosion, possibly shielded by his ancestor's falling body.


Four Vulcan ships are captured, their crews are used by the Romulans as test subjects for the Hellguard weapons. Some of the Vulcans are raped, their children are left behind when the Romulans abandon the planet.
The Enterprise intercepts a craft originating in the Neutral Zone, with a Vulcan woman on board. Spock mind-melds with her as she dies, learning of the horror of Hellguard.
Shortly thereafter, a team of Vulcan scientists follow Spock to Hellguard and find many Vulcan children abandoned there, their ages ranging from 5 to 14 years.
Spock takes a year's leave to educate Saavik so she may return to Vulcan.
Early 2280s
Saavik becomes a freshman cadet at Starfleet Academy.
The Enterprise discovers the Bird-of-Prey, Nogura orders Admiral Kirk to return to Earth.

External links

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The Klingon Gambit (#33) Titan Books release order  The Prometheus Design (#35)
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