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Authors: Robert T. Jeschonek

Star Trek

BOOK: Star Trek
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

An
Original
Publication of POCKET BOOKS

POCKET BOOKS, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Copyright © 2006 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

STAR TREK is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures.

This book is published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., under exclusive license from Paramount Pictures.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
For information address Pocket Books, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-2044-3
ISBN-10: 1-4165-2044-9

POCKET and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Visit us on the World Wide Web:

http://www.SimonSays.com/st

http://www.startrek.com

For Wendy, Mom, and Dad,

for all their love and support.

Chapter
1

J
ust before the Jem'Hadar booby trap killed Or-Lin, her twin sister, Em-Lin, told her to shut up or she would come down and
make
her shut up.

Em-Lin
thought
the message to her, actually, communicating via the telepathic link that the two Miradorn women shared. The thought was so filled with anger that Em-Lin would have felt guilty about sending it, given the fact that her sister died right after receiving it—if Em-Lin had not been so completely brain-fried by the experience of having her linked twin die, for all intents and purposes, in Em-Lin's head.

It was the most devastating experience of Em-Lin's life. Nothing in her thirty-two years of existence had prepared her for the moment of Or-Lin's death.

When the two of them had returned to the work site that morning, Em-Lin had not expected any trouble. She had been in a good mood, looking forward to the week's vacation that she and Or-Lin were set to begin the next day. As much as Em-Lin loved her work, restoring the ancient shrine of Ho'nig in the caves of Mirada's moon, Zasharu, she was ready for some relaxation back home on Mirada.

Soon, though, she and Or-Lin were going at it. Though they, like all Miradorn twins, considered themselves two halves of the same self, those halves were sometimes at war with each other.

I'm marrying Sil-Vo,
Or-Lin had said in Em-Lin's mind from the opposite end of the huge shrine.
When we go home for vacation, I'm staying there with him.

Em-Lin was lying on her back atop a scaffolding four stories above the stone floor, cleaning a mural on the vaulted ceiling. After receiving Or-Lin's thoughts, Em-Lin dropped the tool she was working with, and it clattered down the scaffolding on the long trip to the floor.

What?
Em-Lin's thoughts were in a whirl. Miradorn twins almost never separated from each other; if Or-Lin planned to stay on Mirada, she planned for Em-Lin to stay there, too.
You can't be serious.

Sil-Vo's twin, Qua-Vo, will accept you as his wife,
said Or-Lin, this latest thought rippling with hopefulness.

I can't believe this,
thought Em-Lin. And she truly couldn't. Miradorn twins—in other words, ninety-eight percent of all Miradorn—shared everything. At that very moment, for example, even as Em-Lin stared up at the ceiling mural that she had been cleaning, she saw Or-Lin's work in her mind's eye, watching as Or-Lin polished the bas-relief gold floor plates near the entrance to the shrine.

It was rare for one twin to manage to hide something from the other—not impossible, but rare. Apparently, Or-Lin had done just that, concealing her intentions toward Sil-Vo and masking certain events, like Sil-Vo's proposal of marriage, from Em-Lin's attention.

How did you keep this from me?
thought Em-Lin. She felt betrayed, offended, confused—and dizzy, which was not a good thing to feel on top of a scaffolding four stories above a stone floor.

Or-Lin let out the telepathic equivalent of a deep sigh.
I didn't want you to know until it was definite.

Definite?
Em-Lin felt her hurt (and dizziness) dissolving into raw, churning rage.
Since when is this definite?

In her mind's eye, Em-Lin saw Or-Lin's reflection in the gold floor plate that she was polishing. Her bright white hair swept back from a sharp peak on her forehead, flowing down over her shoulders all the way to her waist. Her face had a roughly triangular shape, with a broad forehead tapering down to a small, rounded chin. Her eyes had softly glowing white irises set against black sclera, the result of a rare genetic condition that the Miradorn people had nicknamed “star eyes.”

In other words, she was the spitting image of her twin, Em-Lin.

I love Sil-Vo,
said Or-Lin, looking her reflection in the eyes as a way of defiantly meeting her sister's gaze.
Come or don't come. It's all the same to me.

Again, Em-Lin was stunned. She pulled her mind back a little from Or-Lin's, hoping that she had misunderstood.

You don't mean…Division, do you?
She floated the thought tentatively, scared to find out the answer to the question but needing to know it more than anything.

Maybe it won't come to that.
Or-Lin was trying to be conciliatory.
Like I said, Qua-Vo is interested in you.

So there it was, laid out between them like giant, fiery letters burning in midair. Or-Lin was on the floor, and Em-Lin was four stories up on her back atop a scaffold…but a far greater separation was in store for them if Em-Lin opposed the marriage.

Division.
Short of death, it was considered the most awful thing that could happen to Miradorn twins.

When twins were divided, the Priests of Duality put up a psychic wall between them, partitioning the thoughts and senses of one twin from another for the rest of their lives.

To Miradorn twins, Division was like taking one person and cutting her in half. The fact that Or-Lin could even
consider
it boggled Em-Lin's mind.

Not only that, but there were other obligations involved. The thought of abandoning them was equally mind-boggling to Em-Lin.

What about the promise we made?
Em-Lin gazed up at the mural on the ceiling but saw only Or-Lin's chilly stare reflected in the gold floor plate.
If we leave here, we break that promise.

I'm tired of keeping the promise,
thought Or-Lin.
I just don't care about it anymore.

Em-Lin was aghast.
How can you
say
that?

Thanks to that stupid promise, we're throwing ourselves away for something that won't even happen in our lifetimes! Or our children's lifetimes, or our children's
children's
lifetimes, probably!

You didn't feel that way three years ago,
thought Em-Lin.
I was naïve. I believed that this was all I could want out of life, but I was wrong. I've changed.

Em-Lin cast her mind back to the time when she and her twin had made the promise. The people to whom they had made the promise had made them feel like heroes.

Coincidentally enough, just as she thought of those people, she saw a trace of them again—the first trace that she had seen in many months.

She saw it through Or-Lin's eyes, though she didn't recognize it at first. It was a symbol drawn in what looked like black ink on a corner of the gold plate that Or-Lin was polishing. The symbol represented a letter from the alphabet of the people to whom Em-Lin and Or-Lin had made their promise.

Em-Lin first noticed it three minutes before Or-Lin exploded. She didn't understand it, however, until thirty seconds before the explosion.

Much later, Em-Lin would blame herself for not paying more attention to that symbol sooner, but the truth was, she overlooked it with good reason. Even as her mind's eye brushed over the symbol (seen through Or-Lin's eyes), Em-Lin was distracted by the argument with her twin sister.

We can't leave here,
said Em-Lin, casting her thoughts over the link with renewed strength. After letting Or-Lin surprise her repeatedly, she was determined to regain a dominant posture.
Our work is vital to our people's future.

Thanks for reminding me!
Or-Lin's words were heavy with sarcasm.
You've just changed my mind again! I really
do
want to stay here with you!

So you don't care about anyone but yourself, right?
Through the link, Em-Lin watched her twin's hand polishing the gold plate, working the specially treated chamois cloth closer to the symbol inked in the corner.

All I know is, I want a life.
Or-Lin moved the chamois closer to the symbol.
If that means breaking a meaningless promise, I'll do it.

Meaningless?
Em-Lin's thoughts were so super-heated that they practically smoked on their way across the link.
The Vorta didn't think it was meaningless!

Or-Lin rubbed the symbol on the plate. She checked her work, saw that the symbol was still there, and rubbed again, harder.
He really brainwashed you, didn't he? I can't even stand
listening
to you anymore. I think I want Division whether you want to go with me or not.

You're lucky I'm not down there right now.
Em-Lin was furious.
You're lucky I can't slap you right across the face for that.
You just can't stand it that I'm right.
Or-Lin was still rubbing the symbol.

Shut up! Shut up, or I swear, I'll come down there and
make
you shut up!

Just then, she made the connection. At that moment, she realized the significance of the symbol that she was seeing on the gold plate through Or-Lin's eyes.

Get away from there!
Em-Lin shot out the screaming thought like a spear on fire, volume all the way up, punching straight into Or-Lin's mind. At the same time, she tried with all her might to will Or-Lin's hand to pull back from the symbol on the plate.

But that was one of the things that a Miradorn twin could never do. She could see through her twin's eyes, feel what her twin was feeling, send and receive thoughts to and from her twin…

But she could never control her twin. Not even to save her life.

What?
Or-Lin stopped rubbing but did not move her hand from the symbol.
Get away why?

Booby trap!
Em-Lin rolled off her back and climbed down the scaffolding as fast as she could.

Through her sister's eyes, Em-Lin watched as Or-Lin lifted the chamois away from the symbol, which was glowing with rapidly increasing intensity.

Get away!

But even as Em-Lin flashed warning after urgent warning into her sister's head, she knew that it was too late.

The symbol flared with blinding brilliance. Em-Lin had an impression of Or-Lin's arms swinging up in front of her face to block the light.

Then, because one twin could feel what the other was feeling, especially in times of great stress, Em-Lin felt the explosion hit Or-Lin. A burst of force erupted up and out from the gold plate in the floor, ripping through Or-Lin's body in a single, blazing instant.

Em-Lin's scream echoed through the vast central chamber of the shrine. In shock, she released her grip on the scaffolding and fell.

Instead of dropping the full four stories, Em-Lin landed on a platform one story down. She lay there on her back for what seemed like hours, her starry eyes staring blindly upward, one arm hanging over the edge of the platform.

Much later, she would be surprised to learn that her sister, not Em-Lin herself, had been the one blown to pieces. This, Em-Lin only accepted as truth after extensive convincing by hospital personnel and the injection of several large doses of sedatives.

Even then, when Em-Lin realized that she was still alive, she knew that she would never be right again.

BOOK: Star Trek
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