Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game (Excerpt)

Enjoy this excerpt of Chapter 2 from David Mack’s upcoming Star Trek book Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game, due for release on October 26 from Simon & Schuster.

You can read Chapter 1 right now on Simon & Schuster’s website. Chapter 3 is also available in this month’s issue of Star Trek Magazine.

 

2

President Nanietta Bacco rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she asked her secretary of defense, “Is this as bad as Starfleet says it is, or are they overreacting?”

“I don’t think they’ve exaggerated the threat, Madam President,” said Raisa Shostakova, a short and squarely built human from a high-gravity homeworld. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be standing in your bedroom at three a.m., waking you from a sound sleep.”

“Don’t be silly, Raisa,” Bacco said. “I haven’t had a sound sleep since I was sworn in.” She stood and cinched the belt of her robe around her waist. Another visitor signal buzzed at her door. “Come in.”

The door slid open. Bacco’s chief of staff, Esperanza Piñiero, hurried inside, followed by the director of the Federation Security Agency, a lanky but dignified-looking Zakdorn man named Rujat Suwadi. Heavy dark circles ringed Piñiero’s brown eyes, but the white-haired Suwadi carried himself with a crisp, alert demeanor that did little to endear him to the Federation’s sleep-deprived head of state. “Sorry we’re late,” Piñiero said, sounding short of breath. She brushed a sweat-soaked lock of brown hair from her eyes and added, “The transporter network is all backed up because of the elevated security status.”

“I know,” Bacco said. “Raisa filled me in about the breach on Mars. Do we know for sure who hit us?”

Piñiero threw a look at Suwadi, who replied, “Not with absolute certainty, Madam President. However, the preponderance of evidence suggests a Romulan vessel facilitated the spy’s escape.”

Shostakova said, “I’ve ordered Starfleet to step up patrols along our border with the Romulan Star Empire. If they were involved—”

“Then that ship could be bound for any of a dozen nearby worlds aligned with the Typhon Pact,” Suwadi cut in.

Piñiero noticed a pointed look from Bacco and took the cue to ask Suwadi, “How likely is it that the Typhon Pact was involved in this?”

“Extremely probable,” Suwadi said with confidence. “They are the only power in local space with the resources and motivation to perpetrate such an act.”

“That we know of,” Shostakova added, apparently hedging her bets against the unknown. Her comment seemed to irritate Suwadi.

“Well, yes,” he said, rolling his eyes at her. “It wouldn’t be possible to speculate on the capabilities of entities we don’t even know of, would it?

In the interest of preventing an unproductive feud between the intelligence chief and the secretary of defense, Bacco interjected, “Actually, an unknown entity was involved in the breach. What species was the spy?”

Piñiero plucked a thin padd from her coat pocket and glanced at its screen. “Admiral Akaar says the spy called himself a ‘Dessev.’ Whatever the hell that is.” Narrowing her eyes at Suwadi, she added, “Have you ever heard of these people?”

Suwadi’s mouth wrinkled into a grimace. “No. To the best of my knowledge, there might not even be such a species. It is entirely likely that the infiltrator misrepresented himself entirely—from his given name to his world of origin.” He sighed. “Clearly, more stringent controls are required in our hiring process for civilian employees at high-security facilities.”

Bacco wondered if it would be impolitic to slap the Zakdorn in the back of the head. “Really? Are you sure?” She cast an intense glare at her chief of staff. “Esperanza, initiate full security reviews of all personnel at facilities that require clearances higher than level five—Starfleet and civilians.”

“Yes, Madam President.”

“Suwadi, I want to know what the hell you’re doing now that the barn is burning and the horses are gone. Are we looking for the stolen plans? Digging up background on the spy? Tell me you’re not just standing there looking smug.”

The intelligence chief shifted his weight awkwardly back and forth as he replied, “Well, I’ve been in contact with my opposite number at Starfleet Intelligence, and they appear to have taken the lead on researching the background of the spy known as Kazren. As far as tracking down the plans—”

“Let me guess,” Bacco interrupted. “Starfleet’s already moving on that, too?” She exhaled angrily and shook her head. “Once again, I am reminded of why we need the military. You can go, Mister Suwadi. I’ll call if I need you.” Suwadi stood and blinked a few times in surprise, his jaw moving up and down despite no words issuing from his mouth. Bacco added, “I said, you can go.”

Verbally lashed into retreat, Suwadi nodded at his president, backpedaled three steps, then turned and made a swift exit. As the door closed behind him, Bacco turned her focus toward Piñiero. “How do we spin this for the media?”


“An accident. It’s a shipyard, an industrial environment. Mistakes happen, and sometimes the best safeguards fail.”

Bacco nodded her approval. “Good. Tack on some verbiage like, ‘Our hearts go out to the families of those who were killed in the explosion, and we pledge our support to those who were wounded, blah blah blah.’ That ought to keep the vultures in the press pool happy for a while.”

“Okay, so we throw FNS a bone,” Piñiero said. “We still need to talk about the political fallout. If the Typhon Pact was behind this, its ambassador will start talking tough as soon as she thinks she has us at a disadvantage.”

“Then we have to keep her on the defensive,” Bacco said. “But how do we stop Tezrene from feeding the real story to the press?”

Piñiero shrugged. “We play dumb and pretend to carry a big stick.”
“I’m listening,” Bacco said.

Shostakova nodded. “So am I.”

“Even though we can’t admit the data theft occurred, the Typhon Pact knows that losing the monopoly on slipstream is a big deal for us. And they know the kind of losses we took in the Borg invasion. What we need to do is make them think that we have some other ace up our sleeve—one so devastating, they don’t even want to know what it is, much less see it in action—and that we’re prepared to use it on whoever we find out bombed the Utopia Planitia shipyard.”

Shaking her head, Bacco walked toward the door. “And what if we end up provoking the Typhon Pact into a shooting war?”

“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Piñiero said as she and Shostakova fell into step behind Bacco and followed her into the hallway. “If they were ready to go head to head, they wouldn’t be pulling this cloak-and-dagger shit.”

Bacco threw a look over her shoulder at Shostakova. “Do you agree?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Shostakova said. “For the moment, at least.”

Plodding toward the kitchen, Bacco asked, “What does that mean?”

Shostakova replied, “It means that I think we have a very short grace period in which to act. The Typhon Pact might be playing catch-up with us on a technological level, but if they have those plans, it won’t take long. At best, we have a few months before this goes from an embarrassment to a disaster.”

“Then talk to me about response plans.” Bacco crossed her kitchen, moving on a direct course for the replicator. “If the clock’s ticking, what’s our play here? Diplomacy? Direct military engagement?”

Piñiero and Shostakova swapped apprehensive glances, and then the defense secretary said, “Neither. I think we need to look at covert options.”

The suggestion wasn’t unexpected, but it left Bacco desiring a moment to think things through. With a touch of her fingertip, she activated the replicator and said, “Decaf coffee, French roast, black and hot.”

As the beverage took shape in a whirl of light and with a pleasing sound, Piñiero lifted one eyebrow at Bacco and asked, “Decaf?”

“Thank my doctor for that,” Bacco grumbled. “He says my blood pressure’s up again. You know how it is.” Aiming a sour look at the youthful brunette, Bacco added, “What am I saying? Of course you don’t—you’re not even fifty yet.” She picked up her coffee from the replicator and sipped it, wrapping her hands around the white mug to warm her cold fingers. Leaning against the countertop, she asked Shostakova, “When you say ‘covert options,’ are you talking about Starfleet Intelligence or Federation Security?”

“Starfleet. If this were a strictly internal matter, I’d say keep it on the civilian side. But if we’re facing off with the Typhon Pact, we’ll need to take action on foreign soil, and Starfleet is better equipped for that.”

“Maybe, but they’re also more culpable. If we send civilians to an enemy planet, we can disavow them if they get caught or killed. If we send Starfleet personnel, it’s an act of war. So why risk a military op?”

“Because only Starfleet has the resources to mount a covert insertion and extraction mission on this short a time scale,” Shostakova said. “I assure you, Madam President, if a better option were available, I’d recommend it.”

Bacco took another sip of coffee and savored the tendrils of warm vapor that snaked into her nostrils and opened her sinuses. “Okay, Raisa, give Starfleet Intelligence the go-ahead. If the Typhon Pact is trying to build a slipstream-drive starship, SI is authorized to do whatever is necessary to stop it.”

Piñiero said, “Ma’am, I’m not sure that broad a license is—”

Whatever is necessary, Esperanza,” Bacco repeated, silencing her chief of staff. “They hit us at home, killed our people, and stole our property. If they try to use it against us, I want them shut down with extreme prejudice. SI is cleared to proceed with a full-sanction black op. Understood?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Good. Now get out of my house. I have to bullshit the Federation Council about this in forty minutes, and I’d like to shower first.”

© 2010 CBS Studios Inc

4 Comments

Subscribe to this thread