Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reread — Typhon Pact: Raise the Dawn

Typhon Pact: Raise the Dawn
David R. George III
Publication Date: June 2012
Timeline: August-September 2383, September 2384, following Typhon Pact: Plagues of Night

Progress: Ka-boom. DS9’s fiery explosion at the end of Plagues of Night was no simulation, no scheme-within-a-scheme to deceive the Typhon Pact, no alternate timeline offshoot, no event readily undone by canny temporal agents. It was real, and definitive, and as we soon learn in this story, leads to a death toll of slightly over one thousand beings. (Or, to put modern times in grim perspective, a casualty figure right on par with that reported for the U.S. as a result of COVID-19 for the single day of August 1st, 2020). Fortunately, Captain Ro and company had time to evacuate about eighty-four percent of the station’s population—significantly, ninety percent of its civilians—before the collapse. Parts of the wreckage, including a number of jettisoned and floating bulkheads, were sealed off by force fields before the explosion, further saving lives. Aboard one such fragment are Kira and Kasidy, who are ejected by the blast into the wormhole, and eventually rescued inside the wormhole by the Enterprise.

While inside the Celestial Temple, Kira and Kasidy both have an Orb experience that they’re reluctant to discuss afterward. In Kasidy’s case, the meaning of the vision becomes apparent after her rescue and reunion with Sisko aboard the Robinson, but no easier to accept for its transparency: she has to let Sisko go. In the course of this opening battle, the Tzenkethi marauder and Breen freighter are destroyed. The Romulan warbird, initially cloaked but now exposed, is neutralized by the Defiant, but T’Jul would rather die than be taken prisoner, so she blows up her ship. The Robinson is heavily damaged but survives. Through all this, Tomalak slithers through unscathed, only to be captured by the Federation.

Ro works with Starfleet and the Bajoran authorities to create a temporary planet-bound base of operations until a new station is built to replace DS9, an act which is quickly approved by all parties involved, as it is deemed strategically essential. As President Bacco and others put together the pieces of the chain of events that led to the bombs being planted on the station and the various vessels engaging in their attack, they realize that one disturbing possibility is a potential incipient alliance between the Dominion and the Typhon Pact. Sisko is assigned to the Defiant, while the Robinson is under repairs, to travel into the Gamma quadrant and ascertain if such an alliance has indeed occurred.

In Dominion space, he eventually comes into contact with Odo, who helps Sisko and his superiors understand the details of the technology that the Romulans stole from the Dominion. With this information in hand, Bacco and her circle realize that all recent events are part of a grander plan by Typhon Pact operatives to try and outfit their vessels with quantum slipstream technology, which they’ve been after for some time. The key question is, have these attempts been underwritten by the Typhon Pact explicitly, or are they the work of rogue elements—specifically Romulan patriots unhappy with the Federation’s technological advantage and what they consider the ineffectual leadership of Praetor Kamemor?

Kamemor herself has been driving a parallel investigation into these events from her side, and reaches the disturbing conclusion that former proconsul Tomalak and Tal Shiar Chairwoman Sela are responsible, and have been colluding together in direct defiance of Kamemor’s directives. Kamemor sends an artfully discreet message to Bacco by Gorn pigeon, but Bacco isn’t in a conciliatory mood (first the attack on the Utopia Planitia shipyards, now the destruction of DS9…). In order to fully make herself heard, Kamemor risks a direct trip to Earth and meets with Bacco in person, warning of imminent danger: the Romulan vessel Vetruvis has stopped reporting in for duty, and may be preparing a third strike on the Federation.

Bacco allows Kamemor to interrogate the captive Tomalak, and Kamemor learns of a new forthcoming attempt to acquire the Dominion technology needed to play the quantum slipstream blues. This one is far-out even by Romulan standards: the Cardassian True Way, working together with the Tzenkethi and other Romulans of the Tomalak/Sela disposition, have created an artificial wormhole. The idea is to anchor this wormhole directly inside the Prophets’ wormhole, and thereby gain access to the Gamma Quadrant directly from their home base.

Speaking of underhandedness, Bashir receives a visit by Section 31 baddie L’Haan, who impresses on him the importance of having Sarina Douglas cleared of any suspicions regarding the bomb-planting on DS9. Bashir sets a trap and Andorian Ensign Rahendervakell th’Shant is ensnared, admitting culpability. But even after this, doubts linger in Bashir’s mind about Sarina and her involvement with S31.

Odo is on the Vetruvis case as well, but his discovery of the Vetruvis’ hit-and-run theft is a little too late to prevent their access of the wormhole, though his Jem’Hadar ship does slow them down some. Seeing no other way to catch up with them, Odo uses his lessons with Laas to morph into a space-faring creature; he flies directly into the wormhole in pursuit of the Vetruvis. Meanwhile, inside the wormhole Sisko is in command of the Defiant, and is guarding the entrance to the secondary artificial wormhole, though he can only cover about half of it. But someone else now joins the party: Kira, following a vision from the Orb of Destiny, steals the runabout Rubicon on Bajor and bypasses Picard, who is commanding the Enterprise on the Alpha Quadrant side of the wormhole, to enter it herself. Once inside, Kira sets a course directly for the Vetruvis, and right before her runabout is destroyed, has a vision of Elias Vaughn, who at that exact moment dies physically on Bajor. The Vetruvis is stopped, but the wormhole appears to close permanently, dumping the Defiant, along with Odo, in the Alpha Quadrant.

Kamemor makes a new extradition deal with Bacco, which is bad news for Sela, who is now going to be charged for her crimes by the Federation. Rather than face that particular variety of music, she raises a toast to hemlock (though we never see the body, so beware—this is the Tal Shiar, after all). On that topic, Kira’s body is also not retrieved, so the possibility exists that she’s been taken in by the Prophets. This is made all the more probable by a two-way interactive Prophet vision experienced simultaneously by Sisko and Kasidy, in which they learn, through a Kira analog, that the wormhole aliens are really and truly done with Sisko (for now?). His role as Emissary appears to be concluded, and he is free to reunite with Kasidy. Hurrah.

To assist with the design of the new station, Ro gets Miles O’Brien as her lead chief engineer, and Nog returns to assist him. Odo remains in the Alpha Quadrant too, though unsure where to go next. In the last few pages of the book, we leap forward in time to a beautiful ending shot of a new beginning, namely the initial construction of the just-christened Deep Space Nine.

Behind the lines: The previous novel in this series ended with what might reasonably be construed as the biggest imaginable cliffhanger for this particular cast of Trek characters: the destruction of Deep Space Nine itself. Unlike readers back in 2012, I didn’t have to wait to find out how the story continued. And yet I felt no urgent need to crack open the next volume—in fact, I slipped in three other non-related books in between. I mention this because it is indicative of my frame of mind going in: “Yes, I’m curious to see how George resolves things, but I’m not salivating to know.” These modest expectations may have helped my experience with Raise the Dawn, which turned out to be a far more engaging, cohesive, and diverting read than I’d initially imagined.

First, I’ll say that I was daunted to discover that the de facto prologue, “In Medias Res,” was fifty pages long. But those pages flew by, and presented a gratifyingly rich and detailed ship-by-ship perspective on that epic battle we glimpsed only briefly at the end of the previous book. Right from the start, I appreciated how George was selective in his evocation of parallels to classic DS9 moments, without, as he did in Plagues of Night, belaboring the past to death. One such early example is Sisko on the Robinson watching the Xhosa explode in a way that viscerally recalls the manner in which he saw his ship explode at Wolf 359 in “Emissary.” I even played Dennis McCarthy’s score from that moment (the cue, unsurprisingly, is titled “Wolf 359”) and it complemented the narrative perfectly.

Other crackling scenes: palpable tension when Bacco receives the Praetor’s message via Slask, and edge-of-your-seat suspense when Admiral Devix decloaks the warbird near Earth. In general, all of Bacco’s scenes are strong, and as far as the DS9 relaunch is concerned, she really comes into her own in this book. (Kudos to Keith R. A. DeCandido for creating her and host of other supporting cast members in A Time for War, A Time for Peace and giving her a starring role in Articles of the Federation, books regrettably outside the scope of this review series). The exchange between Praetor and Bacco was finely handled, with a convincing combination of emotion and diplomacy. The reunion between Miles and Bashir was joyous. Odo in space—wow. The conclusion to Vaughn’s story is both worthy and moving, equal parts tribute and enigma. The interplay between Bashir and Quark provided perfectly timed comedic relief—and you have to love that Quark saved Vic! Adorable Ferengi rascal…uh, I mean, Ambassador.

It was great to see Worf rise to the defense of Kira (but I’d almost forgotten Worf was there in the first place!). In general, the crew of the Enterprise is given short shrift, which is fine by me, since this is a DS9-centric story. It’s not all disposable, though: Picard outsmarting Tomalak, for instance, is priceless (“Tomalak didn’t know how, but suddenly he had the feeling that the captain had just bested him”; you don’t say!). There are other crafty storytelling touches. I enjoyed, for example, how Sisko’s characterization of the artificial wormhole (“To the man whom many still considered the Emissary of the Prophets, the attached wormhole felt like an abuse… even an atrocity”) anticipates Kira’s (“It’s worse than just a wound, Kira thought. It’s a desecration”); this is a lovely convergence of perspectives, and a spiritual consonance, shared by two key characters who have both been moved and touched by the Prophets but also forged a powerful mortal bond over the years.

I did experience a few polaron disruptions while trying to flow along with this multi-layered tale. Rogeiro’s decision to help the Tzenkethi marauder instead of providing reinforcements to the Defiant in its battle with the Romulan warbird and first secure Federation lives, combined with the marauder’s complete lack of communication and demonstrated outright hostility, felt like a costly lapse in judgment. I would have wanted Rogeiro’s actions to have been scrutinized a little more following the battle. The scene in which Sisko chews out the young Lieutenant Commander Wheeler Stinson is so over the top (“Stop saying ‘sir,’” Sisko said loudly. “Am… I… bothering you?”) that it veers into parody; it’s written with almost fetishistic glee, and is very reminiscent of a scene in Rough Beasts of Empire in which Sisko takes a similar tone with his Commander (“You don’t have permission to ask me personal questions, and you don’t have permission to speak freely”). Moreover, Morad is not a particularly interesting character and his desire to see the Cardassian Union “reclaim both Bajor and its rightful place in the galaxy” comes across, if believable, as generic.

Stylistically, George still fails to create consistently engrossing dialogue, often because he falls back on repetitions (for example, Tomalak coming up with nothing better than “We’ll see” twice when challenged; Sisko keeps repeating “I know that…” to Odo, and so on). The pacing could still use a tune-up, with a number of scenes bogged down by exhaustive set decoration. Other passages, like this one, simply feel overwritten:

And then, as though the Prophets objected to the impending loss of Deep Space 9 and all aboard the station, the wormhole had blossomed into existence, a refulgent flower denying the great desert of space. Befitting its cognomen among the faithful, the Celestial Temple then delivered a potential savior into the Alpha Quadrant: U.S.S. Robinson.

But, on the whole, I found these faults much less salient than in the preceding entry, and not jarring enough to crimp my mounting enjoyment.

In a way, this two-book sets acts as a kind of duology that parallels the Avatar books; one massive story split—probably for publishing rather than artistic reasons, into two books—that moves many pieces around and teases us with delightful possibilities for what’s to come. In effect, these two books successfully kick off a post-relaunch relaunch. No small task, this, and worthy of commendation.

Memorable beats:

Sisko: “I’m on my path alone. I think I have to be. And that path has led me into the wilderness.”

Odo: “It’s not your hearts I’m concerned about. It’s your trigger fingers.”

Orb factor: A satisfying and thoughtful conclusion to a complex, multi-threaded story; 8 orbs.

In our next installment: We’ll be back in this space on Wednesday, August 19th with David R. George III’s The Fall: Revelation and Dust!

Alvaro is a Hugo- and Locus-award finalist who has published some forty stories in professional magazines and anthologies, as well as over a hundred essays, reviews, and interviews. Nag him @AZinosAmaro.

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