(written from a Production point of view)
The Federation's arming of a planet near the Klingon Empire brings the two superpowers close to war.
- From the book jacket
- On the cusp of their epic battle with Shinzon, many of Captain Jean-Luc Picard's long-time crew were heading for new assignments and new challenges. Among the changes were William Riker's promotion to captain and his new command, Riker's marriage to Counselor Deanna Troi, and Dr. Beverly Crusher's new career at Starfleet Medical. But the story of what set them on a path away from the Starship Enterprise has never been told.
- Until now.
- At the height of the Dominion War and unknown to all save those in the highest levels of command, the Federation secretly armed the neutral planet Tezwa with devastating weapons – part of a contingency plan against the Dominion if the front lines collapsed. But Tezwa also lies near the border of the Klingon Empire... making the Federation's covert strategy in direct violation of their fragile peace treaties, and creating the potential threat of scandal and all-out war.
- Now Tezwa's power-hungry prime minister is all too eager to flex his newfound military muscle, menacing a nearby Klingon border world. Sent on an urgent diplomatic mission, Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew are caught in the crossfire as the crisis quickly escalates. With time running out and billions of lives at stake, only one man can avert the looming disaster – Ambassador Worf, who must choose between his oath to the Federation and his loyalty to Martok, Chancellor of the Klingon Empire...
Awaking from a nightmare in which he sees his father killed once again, (A Time to Hate) Will Riker considers the recent offer put to him by Admiral Kathryn Janeway – command of the USS Titan – in light of the events of recent months, stemming from the Enterprise's actions at Rashanar. (A Time to Be Born)
On the planet Tezwa, Prime Minister Kinchawn eavesdrops on a conversation between his deputy, Bilok, and Koll Azernal, chief of staff to Federation President Min Zife, as the two discuss the recent activation of a series of nadion pulse cannons on the planet, installed in secret during the Dominion War without the knowledge of the majority of the population. Bilok reassures Azernal that he can keep Kinchawn in line, and get him to stand down before something happens.
That something soon comes, however, as Kinchawn claims sovereignty over a nearby Klingon colony world, and begins deploying a war fleet purchased from the Danteri. With the Klingons already amassing their own forces for a possible preemptive strike, Azernal suggests sending the Enterprise to Tezwa with the promise of aid, backed by a Klingon escort fleet as a show of cooperation to the Empire, and a show of force to Kinchawn. The request is met with anger from Chancellor Martok on Qo'noS, and only after Ambassador Worf personally assures Martok of Captain Picard's abilities and his faith in the crew of the Enterprise does the Chancellor agree.
The Enterprise and its escort fleet arrive in orbit of Tezwa, and Kinchawn invites Picard to the capital under a formal parley. Picard and Troi beam down with Captain Logarr, commander of the Klingon fleet. A bitter and contentious session ensues, with Kinchawn and Logarr trading insults, before a motion to issue a state apology to the Klingons is rejected. As Picard's attempts to mediate are rebuffed, Kinchawn orders the Starfleet and Klingon officers seized. Logarr attempts to overcome his captors, and is killed. Picard and Troi, along with their security escort, are led away, as Kinchawn orders the firing of the pulse cannons.
In orbit, the barrage devastates the Klingon fleet, and brings Enterprise's shields down. The surviving Klingon cruisers begin a bombardment of the capital, as Riker orders the Enterprise into the atmosphere, beneath the shield, to rescue Picard and Troi. Successfully beaming up the captives, Riker orders Kell Perim to punch through the shield with a warp field and escape to orbit. Catching the only Klingon cruiser still intact in a tractor beam, the Enterprise goes to warp.
Bilok and Kinchawn clash on the floor of the Tezwan Assembly, before Bilok meets with senior members of his party to consider the possibility of seizing power from Kinchawn – knowing that the only way to do so is to seek help from Avernal.
Riker leads a rescue team through the remains of the IKS Taj, the K'Vort-class cruiser towed from Tezwa. He discovers the ship's captain, Vekma, barely alive on the bridge. Vekma curses Riker for towing the ship away and denying her crew a place in Sto-vo-kor before dying. On the Enterprise, Troi assists with emergency triage for the dozens of wounded sustained during the brief exchange with the Tezwans, while considering the effect recent events have had.
A furious Martok demands that Zife and the Federation stand alongside the Empire as it launches its counterattack against Tezwa. Zife attempts to have Martok hold off on the attack for a few days, but the fleet will launch in four hours. Azernal considers the impact the attack would have: the effective crippling of the Klingon Empire, which would in turn leave the Federation vulnerable against the other major powers. In addition, an invasion would lead the Klingons to discover the truth behind the pulse cannons, and war would soon follow, with galactic annihilation a certainty. Azernal suggests the only remaining course of action open to them – conquer Tezwa first.
La Forge and Data brief the senior staff on the technology behind the pulse cannons, and Picard considers the fact that such technology is both out of place in this area of space, and out of place for the Tezwans level of development. La Forge raises another issue – the design for the cannons originated from the Federation, developed following first contact with the Borg. He suggests that the Tezwans stole the plans and constructed the cannons, most likely with outside help. Before further discussion can take place, Picard receives a communication from President Zife with Admirals Janeway, Nechayev, and Ross.
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