Declassified is a collection of four novellas set in the Star Trek: Vanguard setting, which takes place around the time of the original series. The Federation has built Vanguard (Starbase 47) in the Taurus Reach ostensibly to lead the colonization efforts in the region (which borders Tholian and Klingon spaces) but its real mission is to track down and exploit the alien technology of the Shedai – a mostly extinct race who’s not at all pleased to share – while keeping it out of the hands of the Klingons.
“Almost Tomorrow,” Dayton Ward: This story takes place just prior to the events in the TOS episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and its chief purpose is to set up the budding relationship between Diego Reyes, Vanguard’s commanding officer, and Rana Desai, its JAG officer, and that between T’Prynn, the station’s Vulcan security chief, and Anna Sandesjo, a member of the ambassadorial delegation and a Klingon agent. It is, of course, the latter that generates the most interest for the reader. Talk about an odd relationship:
T’Prynn hosts the katra of her former betrothed, Sten, a result of a marriage challenge that went really wrong. Anna is, of course, a Klingon.
Nothing good can come of the relationship but if you’re following the series, it’s interesting to see its origins. And it’s an opportunity to get in some more Vulcan/Klingon lesbian sex (NO – I do not have photos of that! I like to think that GR is a family-friendly site, and Vulcans are notoriously reticent about those things anyway).
“Hard News,” Kevin Dilmore: This story, the weakest of the four, takes place just after the events in Reap the Whirlwind. It’s supposed to set up Tim Pennington’s motivations for helping T’Prynn rid herself of Sten’s katra. Pennington is a reporter for the Federation’s equivalent of the AP. The problem – for me – is that those motivations as set up in previous novels were sufficient. I didn’t need to be convinced, and the result is the introduction of a character who gets murdered.
I can accept the deaths of characters in a novel – this series is pretty free with killing off some major characters, unlike the television shows – but not when it serves no purpose.
That, and the fact that I’m not particularly interested in the Pennington story arc, makes this entry rate only 2.0 stars.
“The Ruins of Noble Men,” Marco Palmieri: This is a reasonably well told whodunit that takes place after the events of the last novel before this one, and brings together Rana Desai and Reyes’ closest friend and Vanguard’s CMO, Ezekiel Fisher, as they investigate the mysterious death of a Starfleet officer who was trying to convince some colonists to relocate to a more easily defensible planet. Of chief interest in this story is the anti-Starfleet/Federation attitude that’s first encountered in “The Wrath of Khan,” where the Genesis Project scientists were almost paranoid in their fear of what Starfleet would do with their research.
“The Stars Look Down,” David Mack: As usual, Mack’s contribution to the Vanguard series is the best of the collection. Well written and fast paced, “The Stars Look Down” follows the mission of Starfleet Intelligence agents Bridy Mac and Cervantes Quinn as they try to recover vital information before the Klingons can get their claws on it. Unlike the Dilmore effort, the death of one of the main characters and the subsequent reaction of the survivor are well integrated into the series and continue the theme of the personal costs that many of the characters are paying to keep Shedai technology out of enemy hands – often to no avail.
Live long and prosper –