Who’d you say you got those codes from again?
Fellow I know on DS9. The guy who fixes my pants.
-Commander William Riker and Chief Miles O’Brien
One of the things that bugged me the most on Deep Space Nine was how the flagship of Starfleet, the U. S. S. Enterprise was never there during the Dominion War. Never involved. Not even mentioned once. You would think that with the biggest war to hit the Federation in the last couple hundred years that the Enterprise would at least put up a token appearance. Didn’t even show up in the series finale.
But that didn’t mean that the Next Generation didn’t make itself known in other ways. In one episode, Captain Sisko decided to bring the Romulans into the war against the Dominion, even though they were strictly neutral up to that point. The reason: Sisko had heard about the fall of the planet Betazed, where Counselor Deanna Troi was born and raised. As usual, though, there was never any followup-even in a throwaway line. Which brings us nicely to The Battle of Betazed.
The Dominion has built a Cardassian space station around Betazed, which they call Sentok Nor, where Dr. Crell Moset-a Cardassian exobiologist known for his rather…unpleasant…practices is performing experiments that could develop yet another front in the war. There is a resistance movement (including the rather forceful Lwaxana Troi), but their numbers are thinning thanks to the Jem’Hadar. But they manage to get a message out to Starfleet containing information about what they consider their last hope.
Enter Elias Vaughn-a covert operative of Starfleet who will one day become very important to Deep Space Nine. Since the rather conventional methods of retaking Betazed have failed, he has the go-ahead to try something else. That something else will involve the crew of the Enterprise, with a little helping hand from the crew of the U. S. S. Defiant. A two pronged strategy-the first to get infiltrators aboard Sentok Nor, find out what they are doing, and blow it up. The second is to go to a Betazoid colony and retrieve what the Resistance wants-a serial killer who kills with his telepathy, so that he can teach them.
Now, this makes a certain amount of sense-the natives of Betazed have always been established to be empathic at least, and highly telepathic at best. The Jem’Hadar don’t really have any defenses against this kind of thing. Of course, Deanna is horrified. It goes against everything that the Betazoids believe, and is repellent to her. Even so, however, she agrees to the necessity and agrees to help smooth the way on Darona-especially since she actually tried to treat the killer in question early in her career.
As far as it goes, The Battle of Betazed was an okay book. To be fair, it had some good concepts; the reasons why the Cardassians stuck a space station around the world made sense, and the plans of Dr. Moset make a great deal of sense as well. And as far as disabling Sentok Nor, it made sense to have the Federation’s foremost expert on Cardassian space stations involved. And it made sense to for the Resistance to come up with the idea to find a way to fight that their oppressors couldn’t counter. I liked it.
But, unfortunately, a good chunk of that enjoyment was fizzled at the resolution of the mess. The authors kept themselves from opening a can of worms that you really aren’t allowed to do with Star Trek, but at the same time, it seems too deus ex machina for me. Readers will know what I mean when they get to it. So, what could have been a very good Star Trek novel becomes simply an okay one. But at least it was nice seeing that Captain Picard and the Enterprise were at least doing something while the Dominion War raged.