It has long been my intention to set down some general thoughts on the nature and purpose of exploration, with some particular observations on first-contact missions. This is as good a time as any to attempt to organize my thinking: not only because Beverly remains away but also because war is, at last, over, and it is my hope that Starfleet can, as a result, return to its primary mission of peaceful exploration. My small hope is that these reflections might prove of some use to a reader embarking upon voyages such as those that have been the boon and the challenge of my life.
What is the purpose of exploration? Why do we search? What draws us on the quest and makes us leave behind the considerable comforts that our homeworlds might offer? What makes us absent ourselves and choose to make a transient home among the stars?
The pursuit of scientific discovery, of course, has driven many of my colleagues: to be the first to document a new species, or hear a new language, or see the ancient ruins of a civilization that was gone before life had emerged from Earth’s oceans. There is, too, a fascination with the unknown: to chart not only the farther reaches of space but the farther reaches of knowledge as well. And then there is the challenge of it all—not simply the logistics of crewing and commanding a vessel such as the Enterprise, but the challenge that one sets oneself: to be pitted against the unknown and to find within oneself the capacity to respond not with fear but with curiosity, empathy, and humility.
War has, for too long, distracted us from these purposes: from the pursuit of knowledge for the benefit of others; from the pursuit of self-knowledge for the benefit of ourselves. Let us hope that peace will usher in a new era of discovery . . .
Doctor Katherine Pulaski knew that people didn’t like her, and she didn’t care. She led a good life—a life she loved, full of travel, adventure, and a handful of excellent friends who did not trouble her beyond her interest or inclination to socialize with them. Above all, she had her work, to which she was devoted passionately and with a degree of absorption that made it the primary love of her life. Friends, lovers, husbands—they came and went, but work was always there, a companion, a challenge, and a source of great satisfaction and pride. She was an expert in several fields and had made breakthroughs in genomic therapy that had markedly improved the lives of many people. She was successful and busy, and had never compromised her ideals or opinions to get where she was. So why the hell should she care that others thought she was cantankerous and awkward? That was exactly what she was—and she knew herself well, loved what was there, and didn’t worry about the rest.
And now Katherine Pulaski had a spaceship to play with, the fruit of many hours browbeating the decision makers at the Rosalind Franklin Institute for Biomedical Research until they gave her exactly what she wanted in the hope that she would go away for a long time (it was a technique that worked, so why would Pulaski pass it up?). The ship was called the Athene Donald (after a scientist Pulaski had long admired), and it was, she was pleased to tell anyone who asked (and a few who didn’t), a civilian science and exploration vessel. There had not been enough of these in recent years, in Pulaski’s opinion. In grand old-fashioned style (Pulaski was both grand and old-fashioned), this ship—with its crew of scientists and researcheAn original novel set in the universe of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—a direct sequel to the New York Times bestselling story arc, The Fall!
The entire sector is waiting to see what the newly reopened Bajoran wormhole will mean for the shifting political landscape in the Alpha Quadrant. On Deep Space 9, Captain Ro Laren is suddenly drawn into the affairs of the People of the Open Sky, who have come to the station in search of sanctuary. Despite the opposition of the station's security officer, Jefferson Blackmer, Ro Laren and Deep Space 9's new CMO, Doctor Beverly Crusher, offer the People aid. But when Dr. Crusher’s highly secure files are accessed without permission—the same files that hold the secrets of the Shedai, a race whose powerful but half-understood scientific secrets solved the Andorian catastrophe—the People seem the likeliest suspects.
As tensions rise on the station, the science vessel Athene Donald arrives as part of its journey of exploration. The brainchild of Doctor Katherine Pulaski, this ship is crewed by different species from the Khitomer Accords and the Typhon Pact. Pulaski’s hope is that science will do what diplomacy has not: help the great powers put aside their hostilities and work together. But when the Athene Donald is summarily stopped in her voyage by the powerful vessel of a hitherto unknown species, Pulaski begins to wonder—will this first contact bring her crew together or tear them all apart?