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The Genesis Wave: Book Two

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The Genesis Wave: Book Two

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Author: John Vornholt
Publisher: Pocket Books, 2001
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Genesis Wave: Book 2
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
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Synopsis

Like an unstoppable cosmic storm, the dreaded Genesis Wave continues to sweep across the Alpha Quadrant, transforming entire planets on a molecular level and threatening entire civilizations with extinction. Based on the long-hidden scientific secrets of Dr. Carol Marcus, who has mysteriously disappeared, the wave of mutagenic protomatter seems to have come from nowhere, posing a cataclysmic menace to life as we know it.

To combat the rushing terror of the wave, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise have been forced into an uneasy alliance with both the Klingons and the Romulan Empire, both of whom may crave the forbidden secrets of the Genesis technology for themselves. The finest engineers of three civilizations, including Geordi La Forge and his long-lost love, Dr. Leah Brahms, must race against time to devise some way of halting the deadly wave before yet another world is transformed into something entirely alien and unrecognizable.

But even if, against all odds, the Genesis Wave can be defeated, Picard and his potentially treacherous allies must still confront the greater mystery of what unknown intelligence dared to launch the wave against an unsuspecting galaxy -- and for what malevolent purpose....


Excerpt

Chapter One

Geordi La Forge had never before doubted the information his ocular implants imparted to his mind, but he could barely grasp the vivid spectrums and soaring electromagnetic pulses surging across the plains of Myrmidon. He staggered to remain on his feet in the fierce wind, which the phase-shifting did nothing to stop. The air smelled like tar, and his thumping heart told him this was not a sight that anyone should expect to see...and live.

Worriedly, Geordi laid hands upon the two interphase generators, each standing about two meters high, buttressed by struts and platforms. Only their phase-shifted field prevented the fifty thousand souls in the dry river bed from perishing in the holocaust.

Experienced at close range, the Genesis Wave was even more spectacular than he had been led to believe. Like a wildfire set loose in a parched forest, it ripped apart all molecules in its path and recombined them on the fly -- only it moved with incredible speed. Instead of leaving spent ashes, the wave left a throbbing quagmire of new life, exploding into existence with barbarous fury. Just outside their field of protection, geysers spewed and mountains dissolved in the bubbling, churning morass. The horizon was undulating like a sine wave, and people and animals were mewling with fear all around him.

Without warning, the earth heaved under Geordi's feet, and the sand swiftly dissolved into a thick liquid. His first terrified reaction was that the Genesis Effect had reached them through the ground. But when the human didn't melt into a puddle, he figured it was liquefaction of the soil. Knowing the dissolving sand was a side effect didn't make it any less horrifying. Geordi felt as if he were slogging through molasses. He lunged for the generators and the gel packs, but the heavy equipment was also shifting and sinking into the muck. La Forge squirmed to his knees and dug a shoulder into a tilting strut to keep it level.

Now panic gripped scores of frightened Bolians in the riverbed, and many of their animals bolted into oblivion. Shrieking and wailing, the inhabitants lurched past him, hardly caring that they were all going to die if sand clogged the generators. La Forge grabbed an armful of gel packs and tried to keep them from sinking out of sight while he strained to hold the rack upright. When a distraught Bolian collided with him, knocking him into the sand, Geordi felt himself slipping downward. He rolled onto his stomach and swam over the moist sand to the generators, which he grabbed like a drowning man.

La Forge lifted his head and looked for his fallen comrades -- Admiral Nechayev and Dolores Linton -- but he could barely trust his vision. In every direction, there was nothing but turmoil. Despite the sensory overload, he tried to tell himself that only a few seconds had passed, and the worst of it would only last a few minutes. He would have to be patient and stay at his post with the generators, now half sunken into the sand. If the phase-shifting failed, nothing could keep them safe from the staggering forces reworking the planet.

As he hunkered down, Geordi tried to remember the strange events that had occurred just before the wave hit. Explosions had ripped through the riverbed, and they hadn't seemed accidental or part of the Genesis Effect. Geordi had seen concentrated flashes that had looked like beamed weapons to him. In the melee, Admiral Nechayev and Dolores Linton had both fallen. He had seen them on the ground, but he had stayed at his post, ignoring their plight.

Was it self-preservation, a sense of duty, or fear that kept me from helping them? he wondered. A howling gust of foul-smelling wind forced him to hunker down, and he tried not to be too hard on himself. He was in the middle of a world that was hemorrhaging and birthing at the same time, and the lives of a few carbon-based animals seemed to pale beside these momentous changes.

With a groan, the ground shuddered and then seemed to solidify -- either that, or he and the equipment had sunk down to more solid rock. Maybe the effect was beginning to lessen, he thought with hope. Geordi looked up to see that some of the panicked inhabitants had stopped their mad flight, but many others had lost their minds entirely. In the distance, one Bolian dashed outside the protective field and dissolved like a swarm of bees breaking apart.

But most of the survivors realized that there was nowhere to run. They huddled in small groups, curled protectively over the wounded. He still couldn't see either Nechayev or Linton, but he mustered some hope that they would live long enough for him to get help.

Help? he thought derisively. Where? How? Even if they lived through this initial phase, Myrmidon's civilization had been reduced beyond rubble to nonexistence. The churning sludge bore new life writhing in its depths, but it bore no resemblance to the sacred planet which had existed here before. All of its people's efforts paled in comparison with the throes of Myrmidon in its destruction and rebirth. He didn't want to watch the carnage, feeling shame and helplessness, but he couldn't tear his gaze away.

We should have done better for these people than this! he thought miserably. This isn't survival -- it's insanity.

After a few moments, he found himself appreciating the fractured kaleidoscope in the sky, but the more he saw, the sadder he became. Although it looked as if much of the populace would survive, how could they live in this hellish place? It didn't seem possible that Myrmidon would ever revert to normal, although the spirit of a proud people like the Bolians would account for a lot. They had lived, but for what purpose?

La Forge fumbled in his belt for his tricorder, thinking that it should be safe to move around soon. If the effect was beginning to ebb, or at least enter its sustainable mode, he wanted to be ready. With reluctance, he tore his attention away from the swirling sky and writhing landscape to concentrate on his readings. The effect was lessening, but it was still too complex for the tricorder to register at all levels.

Although Project Genesis had been named for the first chapter of the Bible, this version reminded him more of the last chapter, Revelations -- when the world was torn asunder in a great cataclysm...and the dead rose from their graves.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard rushed down the corridor leading to Transporter Room One, where Beverly Crusher and the crew of the Neptune were under arrest. At least he hoped they were under arrest, because their actions and treachery had endangered the entire operation on Myrmidon. The Enterprise had barely escaped from the Genesis Wave, because they'd been forced to disable the rogue ship. Even so, several installations on the ground had been severely damaged, and there was no telling how many lives had been lost because of the unexpected friendly fire.

The captain was hoping there would be a logical explanation, but he couldn't imagine what that could possibly be. At first, he feared the attack might have something to do with the Bolians' predilection for suicide, but there were no Bolians among the skeleton crew on the Neptune. No matter how he looked at it, the Neptune's actions made absolutely no sense, especially coming from the one person he trusted most -- Beverly Crusher.

Taking a deep breath, Captain Picard charged into the transporter room, ready to confront just about anything. The first thing he saw was a phalanx of Starfleet security officers; their broad backs were toward him as they faced the transporter platform. Their weapons were lowered, and they didn't seem unduly concerned.

Upon seeing the captain, the security detail opened a path for him, and he caught a glimpse of a shimmering force field stretched across the transporter platform. Stepping closer, Picard saw Nurse Ogawa and a medical team poised for action just outside the force field. He still hadn't seen anyone from the Neptune, but Ogawa's worried eyes told him where they were. Piled haphazardly like a collection of discarded dolls, Crusher and seven others lay sprawled across the transporter platform.

"Are they dead?" he asked, trying to mask his alarm with a calm tone of voice.

"No, it's like they're in a coma...and not breathing well." Ogawa consulted her tricorder, and Picard took a closer look at the distressed crew members. Now he could see them squirming weakly, gasping for breath even as they remained in a deathlike trance.

He looked at Ogawa, who shook her head worriedly. "They're alive, but they're dying of asphyxiation. Their lungs seem to be paralyzed. Please, Captain, won't you allow us to help them?"

Worf wasn't aboard the Enterprise anymore, but Picard could hear the Klingon warning him about quarantine procedures. He also knew that Beverly Crusher -- the woman who meant more to him than any other -- was curled in a fetal position, looking like she was on the brink of death. He would just have to count on the biofilters in the transporters to do their job.

"Lower the force field," ordered the captain, "and get them to sickbay. Let's station security in sickbay until we get an explanation."

"I don't think they'll be any threat," replied Ogawa dryly. She rushed forward with the rest of the medteam, and they quickly applied oxygen and hypos to the sick prisoners. Within a few seconds, all of them were on portable ventilators.

The captain tapped his combadge. "Picard to Riker."

"Riker here," came the response.

"I need you on the bridge," said Picard, "while I monitor the situation in Transporter Room One. How are Counselor Troi and the Bolian girl?"

"Fine. I just dropped them off at sickbay. Deanna has a concussion, but she'll be okay. I'm on my way to the bridge."

"Thank you, Number One. Picard out."

When the antigrav gurneys and more medical personnel arrived, the captain just stood out of the way with the security officers until the patients were ready to be moved. As Ogawa guided Crusher's floating gurney toward the door, the captain caught up with her.

"How ...

Copyright © 2001 by John Vornholt


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