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The Final Reflection

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The Final Reflection

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Author: John M. Ford
Publisher: Pocket Books, 1984
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series: Book 16

0. Garth of Izar
0. Burning Dreams
0. Unspoken Truth
0. Child of Two Worlds
0. The Last Roundup
0. The Weight of Worlds
0. Foul Deeds Will Rise
0. No Time Like the Past
0. Ex Machina
0. Devil's Bargain
0. Savage Trade
0. The Rings of Time
0. From History's Shadow
0. That Which Divides
0. Allegiance in Exile
0. The Latter Fire
0. Cast No Shadow
0. Excelsior: Forged in Fire
0. A Choice of Catastrophes
0. The Shocks of Adversity
0. Inception
0. Serpents in the Garden
0. The Folded World
0. The Children of Kings
0. Crisis of Consciousness
0. Troublesome Minds
0. Gemini
0. The Autobiography of James T. Kirk
0. The Face of the Unknown
0. Constellations
0. The Autobiography of Mr. Spock
0. The Captain's Oath
0. The Antares Maelstrom
0. The Higher Frontier
0. Agents of Influence
0. The Case of the Colonist's Corpse
2. The Entropy Effect
3. The Klingon Gambit
4. The Covenant of the Crown
5. The Prometheus Design
6. The Abode of Life
8. Black Fire
9. Triangle
10. Web of the Romulans
11. Yesterday's Son
12. Mutiny on the Enterprise
13. The Wounded Sky
14. The Trellisane Confrontation
15. Corona
16. The Final Reflection
19. The Tears of the Singers
20. The Vulcan Academy Murders
21. Uhura's Song
22. Shadow Lord
23. Ishmael
24. Killing Time
25. Dwellers in the Crucible
26. Pawns and Symbols
27. Mindshadow
28. Crisis on Centaurus
30. Demons
32. Chain of Attack
33. Deep Domain
34. Dreams of the Raven
36. How Much for Just the Planet?
37. Bloodthirst
38. The IDIC Epidemic
39. Time For Yesterday
40. Timetrap
41. The Three-Minute Universe
43. The Final Nexus
44. Vulcan's Glory
45. Double, Double
46. The Cry of the Onlies
47. The Kobayashi Maru
48. Rules of Engagement
49. The Pandora Principle
50. Doctor's Orders
51. Enemy Unseen
52. Home is the Hunter
53. Ghost Walker
55. Renegade
56. Legacy
57. The Rift
58. Faces of Fire
59. The Disinherited
60. Ice Trap
61. Sanctuary
62. Death Count
63. Shell Game
64. The Starship Trap
65. Windows on a Lost World
66. From the Depths
67. The Great Starship Race
68. Firestorm
69. The Patrian Transgression
71. Crossroad
72. The Better Man
74. The Fearful Summons
75. First Frontier
76. The Captain's Daughter
77. Twilight's End
78. The Rings of Tautee
79. First Strike
80. The Joy Machine
81. Mudd in Your Eye
82. Mind Meld
83. Heart of the Sun
84. Assignment: Eternity
88. Across the Universe
97. In the Name of Honor

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Space Opera
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Synopsis

Klingon Captain Krenn is a ruthless war strategist. But on a mission to Earth, Krenn learns a lesson in peace. Suddenly he must fight a secret battle of his own. His empire has a covert plan to shatter the Federation. Only Krenn can prevent a war -- at the risk of his own life.


Excerpt

Chapter 1: Tactics

The children of the Empire were arming for the Game.

Vrenn was a Lancer. He tested the adhesion of his thick-soled boots, adjusted a strap and found them excellent. He flexed his shoulders within their padding -- the armor was slightly stiff with newness; he would have to allow for that.

Vrenn's Lance still hung on its charge rack. He leaned into the wall cabinet, read full charge on the indicator, and carefully lifted the weapon out. The Lance was a cylinder of metal and crystal, as thick as his palm was wide. He rested its blank metal, Null end on the floor, and the glass Active tip just reached his shoulder. Then he hefted it, spun it, ran his fingers over the controls in the checkout sequence, watching flashes and listening to answering clicks. The crystal tip glowed blue with neutral charge.

It was a fine Lance, absolutely new like his armor. Vrenn had never before had anything that was new. He wondered what would happen to these things, after they had won the game...if there would be prizes to the victors. He took a deep breath of the prep room's air, which was warm and deliciously moist; he lifted his Lance to shoulder-ready and turned around.

Across the room, Dezhe and Rokis were helping each other into Flier rigs, shiny metal harnesses and glossy boots with spurs. Rokis tightened her left hand inside the control gauntlet, and rose very rapidly, almost banging her green helmet on the dim ceiling. Dezhe snorted, grabbed one of Rokis's spurs and pretended to pull her back down.

"G'daya new stuff." That was Ragga, who was struggling his immense bulk into the even greater bulk of a Blockader's studded hide armor. "Not a g'dayt crease in it, can't khest'n move." He did a few squats-and-stretches, looked a little more satisfied, but not much.

"Who said you could move anyway?" Gelly said. Ragga swiped at her; she danced out of the way without the slightest difficulty. "You'd better not move. You might fall down, and I don't think the rest of us together could get you up again."

Ragga showed his teeth and arched his arms, roared like a stormwalker. Gelly skittered away, laughing. Ragga was laughing too, a sound not much different from his roar.

Gelly sealed up the front of her uniform, a coverall of shiny green mesh, with gloves and boots of finely jointed metal on her slender hands and feet. She was the best Swift of their House: the House Proctors said she might be the best Swift of all the Houses.

Others said other things, about her slimness, her smooth forehead, the lightness of her bones and flesh. Vrenn felt a little sorry for her: when they were younger, he had called her "Ugly, ugly!" with the others. But she couldn't help being ugly, and if it was true that some of her genes were Vulcan or Romulan -- or even Human! -- that was not her fault either. He did not think she was part-Human, though. Vrenn had killed a Human in the Year Games, when he was six, his first intelligent kill, and Humans were slow, not swift.

There had been the one who called Gelly kuveleta: servitor's half-child. Zharn had killed that one, and done it well. They had all killed, Zharn and Vrenn and Ragga many different races, but Zharn was the best.

But they were all the best, Vrenn thought. Their positions had not been randomly chosen, nor they themselves: of the three hundred residents of House Twenty-Four, they were the nine best at klin zha kinta, the game with live pieces.

Now Zharn was sitting against the wall of the prep room, in full Fencer's armor: smooth green plates and helmet, slender metal staff across his knees. He was humming "Undefeated," a favorite song of House Gensa. Segon, a lightly armored Vanguard, was near him, keeping time with his bootheel. A little farther away, Graade and Voloh, the other Vanguards, held hands and kept harmony.

Zharn began to sing aloud, and in a moment they were all singing.

And though the cold brittles the flesh,
The chain of duty cannot be broken,
For the chain is forged in the heart's own fire
Which cold cannot extinguish...

The door opened. In the long corridor beyond, lit greenly by small lamps on the walls, was their Senior Proctor, old Khidri tai-Gensa. Khidri was nearly forty years old, very wrinkled; he had been a full Commander in the Navy until vacuum crippled his lungs. Next to him was a Naval officer, in black tunic and gold dress sash and Commander's insignia, with medals for ships taken.

Zharn was instantly on his feet. "Green Team, present!"

The players snapped to attention at once, wrists crossed in salute, weapons at ready-arms.

Khidri gave them a slight smile and one short nod. "This is a high day for the House Gensa," he said. "We are chosen to play at the command of Thought Admiral Kethas epetai-Khemara."

Vrenn felt his chest tighten, but he did not move. None of the Team did. A planner for the entire Navy! he thought, and knew then that he was right: they were the very best...and others knew it.

Khidri said, "The Thought Admiral is of course a Grand Master of klin zha...this day we must be worthy of a Grand Master's play." In the last was the smallest hint of a threat, or perhaps a warning. Next to Khidri, the Navy officer stood impassive and rather grim.

"Zharn Gensa, is your Green Team ready?"

"Armed and prepared, Proctor Khidri."

"Then bring them," Khidri said, and as he turned around Vrenn thought he saw the Proctor's smile widen. Then Vrenn looked at Zharn. The Fencer was nine, a year older than the rest of them, and seemed the pure image of leadership.

"House Twenty-Four Green Team," Zharn said, "onward to the victory!"

The klin zha players filed out of the room, marching in step down the green corridor, singing.

Yet if my line should die,
It dies with its teeth in the enemy's throat,
It dies with its name on the enemy's tongue.
For just as mere life is not victory,
Mere death is not defeat;
And in the next world I shall kill the foe a thousand times,
Laughing,
Undefeated.

The Arena Gallery was a long, low-ceilinged room, furnished with large soft cushions and small wooden tables with trays of succulents. Servitors, moving silently in clean tan gowns of restrictive cut, replaced the trays when they became empty or messy. Fog hung at the ceiling, humidifier mist mixed with the personal incenses some of the officers present carried. One long wall of the room was entirely of dark glass.

There were slightly more than a dozen of high ranks present, Naval and Marine, and two civilian administrators with a reputation at klin zha. Also in the room were a few of the officers' consorts -- two for Admiral Kezhke, who was never moderate -- and three Vulcans, all tharavul.

"The spindles for first move, Thought Admiral?" General Margon sutai-Demma held out a pair of hexagonal rods, of polished white bone with numerals inlaid in gold on their faces. Margon gave them a small, rattling toss and caught them again. They showed double sixes. There was a mildly unpleasant look on Margon's face, but there usually was, and the scar at the side of his mouth only added to it.

Behind Margon, Force Leader Mabli vestai-Galann sat on a cushion, looking quite uncomfortable. One of Margon's kuve consorts was stroking Mabli's shoulders, which did not seem to relax him at all, though the female's claws were fully retracted. Mabli kept glancing at the other officers: every one outranked him. Worse, the administrators did as well. Mabli looked straight at his opponent.

Thought Admiral Kethas epetai-Khemara had deep wrinkles in his knobbed forehead, hair very white at his temples. He was fifty-two years old, an age at which Klingons of the Imperial Race should be dead by

Copyright © 1984 by John M. Ford


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