(written from a Production point of view)
This Gray Spirit is a Pocket DS9 novel – part of the Deep Space Nine relaunch series and the second novel in the Mission Gamma series – written by Heather Jarman. Published by Pocket Books, it was first released in October 2002.
- From the book jacket
- The political intrigue aboard Deep Space 9 escalates when Gul Macet's warship arrives at the station with an unexpected passenger. Cardassian Ambassador Natima Lang has returned to the station on a mission of hope, but it's one that will bring back old wounds and old ghosts. As tensions rise on all sides, Colonel Kira Nerys discovers that the line between friend and foe is narrower than she ever imagined.
- Elsewhere, the crew of the damaged Starship Defiant forges an uneasy alliance with an unusual alien species – one whose unique biological makeup is the key to the balance of power in that region of the Gamma Quadrant. As the crew becomes ensnared in a web of deceit, Lieutenant Ezri Dax and Ensign Thirishar ch'Thane struggle to stave off a genocidal civil war.
The Trager returns to DS9, bringing Ambassador Natima Lang on an official mission of peace and reconciliation between their worlds. She brings a gift to the Bajoran people—the salvaged artwork of Tora Ziyal—in the hopes that Ziyal's ugly dual heritage, disparate dual artistic style, and hopeful message will serve as a beacon toward a new era. While Shakaar focuses on Bajor's entry into the Federation, Second Minister Asarem leads the Cardassian talks, though she adopts a hardline position on every topic, stalling any progress. Both Macet and Lang plead for Kira to act as an intermediary, feeling that she best understands the concerns and situations of all parties. When Asarem officially withdraws from the talks, Kira confronts her and learns that Shakaar ordered Asarem to be as difficult as possible. She wonders how she can be allied with and trust the Cardassians against Shakaar, who is acting increasingly strange. Besides Shakaar, not everyone wants peace; both the peace talks conference room and Ziyal's exhibit are vandalized, and a brawl erupts between Bajorans and Cardassians on the Promenade.
Despite herself, Ro befriends Ambassador Lang and Trill security officer Hiziki Gard; of course both friendships drive Quark crazy, for different reasons. Ro and Quark have their first date: windsurfing and camping in the holosuite. Quark finds the experiences, if not the company, horrendous. They each consider how their futures will be affected by Federation membership and consider lives away from Bajor. The Ohaluvaru movement ("Ohalu's truthseekers") begins to assert itself on Bajor and to champion Kira, though she fears the growing schism within the faith. Vedek Yevir solicits Kassidy for guidance, instead finding an ancient jevonite figure of a Bajoran-Cardassian hybrid that seems to point him in a new direction.
Thriss finds life on the station difficult, spending her days pining for Shar or acting belligerent. Her bondmates fear for the mental state, so Councillor zh'Thane arranges for her ship to be granted standby departure, quietly confiding in Ro about the situation. When Thriss learns of this, she lashes out and stabs Anichent. She is arrested and forced to see DS9's new counselor, Lt Command Phillipa Matthias, regularly. When Matthias believes Thriss has recovered sufficiently, she releases Thriss to her bondmates' care, though their sessions continue. However, when a message expected from Shar fails to arrive, Thriss is greatly distressed.
GQ Backstory: The amphibious Yrythny operate within a strict caste structure. They procreate by laying eggs in the seas; once the young are old enough, they emerge onto land. Those who return to their point of origin are Houseborn, with full rights and privileges. Those who come ashore at another house become second class Wanderers, taken in as servants and given few opportunities. The males are sterilized and the women (whom sterilization would render insane) are prohibited from procreating. Centuries ago, the Wanderers were beaten and killed without consequence; they've since gained some rights and limited government representation, but are thought to be less intelligent and capable, and they are still far removed from Houseborn freedoms. Some Wanderers favor civil war in order to gain full rights.
Yrythny genetic research has revealed that their primitive forebears were genetically augmented eons ago by some unknown advanced race, paving their way to sentience. These enhancements are called the Turn Key, and make them a target of the Cheka, militant imperialists who dominate the region. The Cheka want to enslave and genetically engineer the Yrythny to be the perfect army, and have largely blockaded the Yrythny homeworld, Vanimel, using webs of nanobots hidden in subspace. These webs disable starships and cut off the Yrythny from most of their interstellar trading partners and resources.
Continuing its exploration of the Gamma Quadrant, the Defiant is ensnared in a Cheka web weapon. The Yrythny starship Avaril comes to their aid and offers repairs at their homeworld of Vanimel. Nog is tasked with developing a defense against the nanobots. His solution is even-smaller femtobots which will swarm and block the nanobots from infiltrating the ship's systems, but the demands on the devices will require especially resilient materials. While the crew learn about the societal divisions, Ezri's suggestion of third-party mediation is misinterpreted, and the Yrythny declare her to be the one prophesized to bring about a solution. Despite the Prime Directive implications, Vaughn is forced to allow Ezri to act in a limited advisory role in order to secure repairs and supplies. The Defiant is taken aboard the massive Avaril for continued servicing while they travel to the Matter Consortium, a key trading post next to a particle fountain which produces the raw materials needed for the femtobot defense.
Official Consortium negotiations are derailed by a Cheka agent who offers a backroom trade for cloaking device schematics, which Vaughn refuses. Instead, Prynn agrees to a distasteful session with the "sense artist" Fazzle in order to plant a worm in the Cheka's computers, securing the codes for the needed materials and gaining a map of local web weapons as a bonus. Nog is caught trying to trade the cloaking specs, though he is captured by the spy (informing to the Cheka) that his ruse was intended to flush out. Finally repaired and stocked up, the Defiant launches under its own power and covertly trails the Avaril as a Cheka warship approaches.
Dax, Shar, and a small team remain at Vanimel to work out a compromise with the General Assembly. Confident in her abilities, Dax learns about their history and culture and visits sites around the planet and its impressive orbital ring city of Luthia. One compelling site is that of House Tin-Mal, an experimental Wanderer city that self-destructed, though Ezri suspects that its educationally stunted citizens had been set up to fail. With limited support, Shar studies the Yrythny's unique biology to see if a scientific basis for the castes exists. He is readily befriended by Wanderer Delegate Keren, who secretly takes him on questionable tours, including a terrorist cell meeting and a farm where the Wanderers have been surreptitiously conducted gene mapping for centuries. The latter serves as a boon in Shar's research, though he finds himself reprimanded by Dax for going off the grid without authorization multiple times and for working with Keren, herself suspected of terrorism. With factions of both castes escalating hostilities, Ezri convinces the authorities to stand down and to share Houseborn genetic information for Shar's research, which ultimately proves that the Wanderers are as mentally sound and capable as Houseborn, but also that they are the key to avoiding ultimate extinction. Centuries of Houseborn inbreeding have weakened their genome, while the Wanderers' random mutations are strengthening theirs. He proposes interbreeding to stabilize both castes, along with Ezri's suggestion to establish a well-planned Wanderer colony offworld, staving off overpopulation and resource exhaustion. When many eggs are stolen from a breeding ground, Vice Chair Jeshoh reveals his involvement in the plot. He takes Ezri, Shar, and Keren (his secret illegal lover) hostage, intending to trade the eggs for Cheka weapons to arm the Wanderers for civil war. He directs their shuttle to a meeting with the Cheka warship Ston'yan.
The Defiant crew engineer enough chaos to rescue Nog and confuse the Ston'yan, tricking the Cheka into one of their own web weapons. The Avaril’s engineer, Tlaral, is found to have hidden her Wanderer heritage and to have conspired for the trade. Ezri falls back on her counseling skills, convincing Jeshoh to stop the trade and surrender himself in order to save Keren. Jeshoh is imprisoned and Keren is exiled to the planned colony. Dax admits that she still has work to do integrating her various personalities, but is bolstered that Ezri alone was key to providing some possible solutions for the Yrythny. Shar's research is vindicated and applauded, and he hopes to use the Turn Key in his efforts to save the Andorian’s biological problems. However, he's crushed to learn of Thriss' suicide.
- This is the first Star Trek work by author Heather Jarman.
- While most of the station-based storyline was set out in advance by Pocket editor Marco Palmieri, it was Jarman who decided to use Ziyal to provide the anchor for the theme of the storyline. Her Gamma Quadrant story was "an attempt to tell a big exploration story that couldn't be told on a series because it was too complex and/or expensive in terms of effects and design". (Voyages of Imagination, p. 261)
- The novel was heavily influenced by the events of September 11 – Jarman noting that "it impacted me emotionally and spiritually in a way that forced me to confront a lot of conflict inside me and to overcome the very real horror playing out daily on my TV" – and by Jarman's younger brother, who passed away during the writing of the manuscript. (Voyages of Imagination, pp. 261-262)
- Jarman thought the novel was successful, commenting: "Ask me this question on any given day of the week and I'll give you a different answer. From an overall perspective, I think I captured a sense of crew camaraderie--of people who are stuck with each other for long periods of time in a small space--that I find is missing from many 'journey' kinds of books...Prose-wise, I'm generally happy with my writing. Everytime I re-read a section, I find a list of things I would change if I had a chance, but mostly, I like the story I told. Given the time I had, I believe I did my best". 
- Andor is listed on the title page as the location of one of Pocket Books' offices.
- Cover art was done by Cliff Nielsen.
- 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 Mission Gamma characters.
Regular and recurring characters
- Elias Vaughn
- Starfleet commander, the CO of Defiant.
- Kira Nerys
- Colonel, CO of Deep Space 9. Kira's upload of the Ohalu texts (see Avatar, Book Two) apparently had impact on some people, who are not followers of the Vedeks and the traditional Bajoran faith any more.
- Shakaar Edon
- Prime minister of Bajor
- Admiral Akaar
- Starfleet admiral
- Charivretha zh'Thane
- Andorian member of the Federation council, zhavey (mother) of Thirishar
- Thirishar ch'Thane
- Ensign aboard DS9 and the Defiant
- Prynn Tenmei
- Ensign aboard DS9, daughter of Elias Vaughn
- Chief engineer on DS9
- Kasidy Yates
- Wife of the Emissary of the Prophets
- An Orion dabo girl (see Demons of Air and Darkness)
- A dabo boy
- Ro Laren
- Chief of Security on DS9
- Julian Bashir
- Chief medical officer on DS9
- Ezri Dax
- Second in command on the Defiant
- Sam Bowers
- Tactical ops
- Gul Macet
- Captain of the Trager
- Natima Lang
- Cardassian ambassador
- Asarem Wadeen
- Bajoran minister
- Shar's bondmate. The two had a very close relationship, closer than to any of the other two bondmates – something which is unusual and considered unacceptable in Andorian culture.
18th century; 2370s; Alpha Quadrant; Andoria; Andorian; Bajor; Bajoran; Cardassia; Cardassian; Casperia Prime; Deep Space 9; Dominion; Ferengi; Gamma Quadrant; Khitomer Accords; Krem; United Federation of Planets; Vedek Assembly
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