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Authors: Diane Duane

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Star Trek: The Empty Chair

BOOK: Star Trek: The Empty Chair
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Star Trek: The Original Series: Rihannsu, Book 5: The Empty Chair
Diane Duane
Series:
Rihannsu, Book 5
Published:
November 28, 2006

SUMMARY:

The culmination of a saga twenty-two years in the making.

They call themselves
Rihannsu
—the Declared. To the Federation, they are the Romulans. By any name they are adversaries as formidable as they are inscrutable. Self-exiled from Vulcan in ages past, they retain an ancient martial philosophy and a code of conduct that has sustained them through centuries of hardship, warfare, and thwarted ambition.

Now their empire is gearing for war once again. Armed with the revolutionary Sunseed technology, which can destabilize entire stars, a Romulan vessel is warping toward the heart of the Federation. Its target: Earth’s sun.

But this offensive comes at a perilous time, as a growing number of Romulan worlds are joining a revolution—one led by the renegade Commander Ael t’Rllaillieu of the warbird
Bloodwing
, with the aid of Captain James T. Kirk of the
Starship Enterprise
and the Hamalki physicist K’s’t’lk, the Federation’s foremost authority on Sunseed technology. As the threat to Earth looms ever larger,
Bloodwing
and
Enterprise
lead an armada toward the Romulan homeworld for a final reckoning that will decide the future of the Rihannsu people.

“This is the Free Rihannsu world of Artaleirh…”

“We are the tool of no empire anymore, and the toy of no Senate. We are our own world under our own sky, and we now take that sky back to ourselves, in arms with those who know what freedom is worth, and who will help us be slaves no more. Live or die, we have nothing more to say to you, tools in the hands of tyrants!”

The announcement from the Grand Fleet ships persisted only a few moments longer, then simply broke off, in mid-playback, as if whoever had been playing the recording simply could not believe the response. Behind Ael, Aidoann listened to the silence that followed, and let go a soft hiss of anguish.
“Khre’Riov,”
she said. “If this doesn’t work, all those cities, all those many people—”

Ael sat silent and watched the curves of the starships’ courses become more acute as they neared the planet.


Khre’Riov,
can we not stop it? Let us stop it!” Aidoann whispered. “If we move quickly enough, we could seed the star—or have tr’Mahan give the order.”

Ael shook her head. “I will not,” she said, her voice terribly steady, far more so than her heart. “You heard Courhig. You heard our kinswoman down there. The Artaleirhin have made their preparations. They know how this battle must unfold, for their freedom’s sake. Their choice is made. Now we must honor their intention, or condemn them to the loss of their own honor, forever.”

“But Ael—!”

She would not answer.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

An
Original
Publication of POCKET BOOKS

 
POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

Copyright © 2006 by CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.
STAR TREK and related marks are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc.

 
CBS and the CBS EYE logo are trademarks of CBS Broadcasting Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

This book is published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., under exclusive license from CBS Studios Inc.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

ISBN:           1-4165-3108-4
eISBN: 978-1-4165-3108-1

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POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Cover art by Tom Hallman

In memory of DeForest Kelley
…now immortal in the realm of archetype,
remembering that long-ago sore throat

of James Doohan
…revealed during an Everglades boat ride
as a possible relative

and of Mark Lenard
…first of all the Romulans,
recalling a long train journey down to London
and a masterful analysis of the politics of rebellion

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A work that stretches over such a long period of time always carries in its train a great number of people who need to be thanked for their help. Some of them would be:

The noble and excellent Dorothy (D.C.) Fontana, without whom there would be no Romulans.

The staff of the Fels Planetarium in Philadelphia, who helped me sort out where (at that point) it seemed most likely that the Romulan Star Empire might lie.

My former housemates at “SMOF Central” (or as it was called by some, “The House of Dangerously Single Women”) in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania: Sara (then) Paul, Wilma (then) Fisher, and Teresa (then) Renner, all of whom watched the first installment of this series being written, and didn’t pull me away from the work to make me shovel the driveway more often than absolutely necessary.

My long-suffering agent, Don Maass, who—knowing that his client has a long-term and incorrigible soft spot for this particular patch of the genre—simply rolls his eyes in a genteel and forgiving kind of way every time he hears me say the words “Star Trek.”

All my
Star Trek
novel editors, all of them endlessly patient with me—from Dave Stern and Kevin Ryan, on through John Ordover, right on down to Marco Palmieri and Keith DeCandido, not forgetting, of course, the memorable Mimi Panitch, the original inspiration for Ael.

And last but never, ever least, Peter, who “hot-bunked” the work on
The Romulan Way
with me on what was supposed to be our honeymoon—a whole book written “chapter about” in a shade more than two weeks—and thereby proved in his own person the truth of the Rihannsu saying that the Ruling Passion is truly and gloriously unreasonable.

Thank you all!

Wage a clean war.

—Balthasar Gracian,
The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Was none who would be foremost

To lead such dire attack;

But those behind cried, “Forward!”

And those before cried, “Back!”

And backward now and forward

Wavers the deep array;

And on the tossing sea of steel
To and fro the standards reel;
And the victorious trumpet-peal

Dies fitfully away.

—Macaulay,
Lays of Ancient Rome,
L

The Elements lead those who will…

And those who won’t, They drag.

—tr’Hmaellieh,
Contemplations

ONE

When
Enterprise
and
Bloodwing
dropped out of warp together in the Artaleirh system, the tension on
Enterprise’
s bridge was considerable. The ship was on red alert for safety’s sake, though Jim had told Uhura to kill the siren, which was no longer doing any good as regarding alertness, but only getting on people’s nerves. Spock was bent over his scanner, intent, and as the warp drive’s hum faded down into silence, Jim said, “Report.”

“Long range scan shows no other vessels incoming at this time,” Spock said.

McCoy, standing behind the center seat, gave Jim a thoughtful look. “‘What if they gave a war and nobody came?’”

“Fat chance,” Jim said. “We’re just early. Now we have to see what use we can make of whatever extra time we have.”

He looked at the schematic of the system that the front viewscreen was now displaying, courtesy of Spock. Artaleirh was a big star, an F0 “demigiant,” with a big solar system: twelve planets, mostly sunbroiled rocks or gas giants of various sizes and types, along with the asteroid belt that was the system’s main source of wealth, in the third orbit out from the sun. The planet in the fourth orbit, also called Artaleirh, hung small and bright and faintly green in the distance—just visible from here, maybe a hundred million miles out, as a small, very bright disc with the same
kind of morning-star albedo that Earth showed from about the same distance.

“I’m receiving a hail from Artaleirhin system control,” Uhura said. “They know who we are, but all the same they’re welcoming us to ‘Free Rihannsu’ space....”

Uh-oh,
Jim thought.
The first salute.
He remembered how much trouble the poor Dutch governor had gotten into, six centuries or so ago, when first the flag of a country three weeks old had been dipped to his fort in San Juan harbor—and how dipping his fort’s flag back, thus officially recognizing the salute as that of another independent nation, had plunged the Netherlands into a diplomatic broil that led, however eventually, to war.
Well, this is the reverse of that situation,
Jim thought.
But they will know what an answer, or the lack of one, means.

Then again, if we haven’t caused a diplomatic incident yet, probably this is the time.
This was one of the things the Federation had been waiting for: to give the enemy of an enemy a chance to prove that it was a friend. “Thank them, Commander,” Jim said, “and tell them I hope to have time to talk to them more about their new name for themselves and their space later on.” Asking questions like,
And how are you planning to defend yourselves after this initial engagement is over?
For one battle was no war; if the Romulans really wanted to take this system back, they had the resources to do it.


Bloodwing
is hailing us, Captain,” Uhura said.

“Put her on.”

The screen shimmered into a view of
Bloodwing’
s little bridge. Ael was standing there; behind her, Jim caught a glimpse of something on her command chair that surprised him. He shot a glance at Spock, then said, “The locals seem surprisingly friendly, Commander.”

BOOK: Star Trek: The Empty Chair
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