The Empty Chair

Star Trek: The Original Series: Rihannsu, Book 5: The Empty Chair

Diane Duane

Series: Rihannsu, Book 5

Published: November 28, 2006

* * *


The culmination of a saga twenty-two years in the making.

They call themselves Rihannsu—the Declared. To the Federation, they are the Romulans. By any name they are adversaries as formidable as they are inscrutable. Self-exiled from Vulcan in ages past, they retain an ancient martial philosophy and a code of conduct that has sustained them through centuries of hardship, warfare, and thwarted ambition.

Now their empire is gearing for war once again. Armed with the revolutionary Sunseed technology, which can destabilize entire stars, a Romulan vessel is warping toward the heart of the Federation. Its target: Earth’s sun.

But this offensive comes at a perilous time, as a growing number of Romulan worlds are joining a revolution—one led by the renegade Commander Ael t’Rllaillieu of the warbird Bloodwing, with the aid of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise and the Hamalki physicist K’s’t’lk, the Federation’s foremost authority on Sunseed technology. As the threat to Earth looms ever larger, Bloodwing and Enterprise lead an armada toward the Romulan homeworld for a final reckoning that will decide the future of the Rihannsu people.

“This is the Free Rihannsu world of Artaleirh…”

“We are the tool of no empire anymore, and the toy of no Senate. We are our own world under our own sky, and we now take that sky back to ourselves, in arms with those who know what freedom is worth, and who will help us be slaves no more. Live or die, we have nothing more to say to you, tools in the hands of tyrants!”

The announcement from the Grand Fleet ships persisted only a few moments longer, then simply broke off, in mid-playback, as if whoever had been playing the recording simply could not believe the response. Behind Ael, Aidoann listened to the silence that followed, and let go a soft hiss of anguish. “Khre’Riov,” she said. “If this doesn’t work, all those cities, all those many people—”

Ael sat silent and watched the curves of the starships’ courses become more acute as they neared the planet.

“Khre’Riov, can we not stop it? Let us stop it!” Aidoann whispered. “If we move quickly enough, we could seed the star—or have tr’Mahan give the order.”

Ael shook her head. “I will not,” she said, her voice terribly steady, far more so than her heart. “You heard Courhig. You heard our kinswoman down there. The Artaleirhin have made their preparations. They know how this battle must unfold, for their freedom’s sake. Their choice is made. Now we must honor their intention, or condemn them to the loss of their own honor, forever.”

“But Ael—!”

She would not answer.

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.

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