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Literature / Fortunes of War

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Fortunes of War is a two-part story by Diane Carey in the Pocket Books line of Star Trek novels. It consists of the novels Dreadnought! and Battlestations!, which were originally released as individual books in 1986 but were reprinted under the Fortunes of War header in 1999. Both novels revolve around Lieutenant Piper and the Starfleet officers she befriends as part of the crew of Enterprise, and are unique in that they are the only Trek novels to be written in First-Person Perspective.

Dreadnought! centers on Piper being associated with the theft of a prototype dreadnought-class warship, which eventually turns into an effort to stop a power-mad admiral from staging a coup within the Federation itself. Battlestations! picks up a few months later, and revolves around the theft of prototype transwarp technology and the power scramble that results from multiple spacefaring peoples desiring the tech for themselves, with Piper again being pulled into events due to one of the key people behind the tech being an old associate.

These novels provide examples of:

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    Tropes common to both books 
  • Author Avatar: It's easy to interpret Piper as one (and a borderline Mary Sue), given the nature of the books. However, she subverts the general nature of the concept by having noticeable (and at times glaring) flaws and by Kirk always being at least one step ahead of her in the progression of the books' plots. However, all the main TOS characters seem to immediately recognize Piper's importance and ability (even if she's not confident in those herself), Kirk basically takes to mentoring her, and she not only gets away with everything from escaping house arrest to assault on Starfleet Security personnel, but gets commendations for those actions. Diane Carey is on record as stating that Piper is a Sue, but in a blog post, she said that Pocket Books loved the character and the story in Dreadnought! so much that they were willing to ignore their own rules about not publishing first-person works, which proved to be a smart choice when Dreadnought! quickly became a best-seller. So, Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Badass Crew: Piper and her comrades Judd "Scanner" Sandage, Sarda, and Merete AndrusTaurus. They're not only analogues to Kirk, Scotty, Spock, and Bones respectively, but in Dreadnought! they fall into important roles once they are integrated into the crew on Star Empire, with Scanner in engineering manning sensors, Sarda at tactical, Merete in sickbay, and Piper at the helm and taking over as captain when Burch is injured. They are reunited (eventually) in Battlestations! to try to solve the crisis of the transwarp theft.
  • Fiery Redhead: Played with in regards to Sarda. His hair has a coppery color and lustre, and he is much more emotional than a Vulcan would normally be, although it's subdued in comparison to everyone else around him.
  • First-Person Perspective: These novels are the only two books in the Star Trek Expanded Universe to be written in this manner. Pocket Books set aside their own policies to allow Dreadnought! to be published in this style, and it definitely paid off.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Piper starts off very ignorant about a lot of aspects of Vulcan culture, and pretty much anything she says to Sarda in that aspect is cringe-inducing, drawing palpably uncomfortable reactions from him. She's eventually able to make strides in this area, but not without help from Merete and a lot of research.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: As mentioned, the books are the only Star Trek novels to be written from the First-Person Perspective, and despite heavily involving the crew of the Enterprise that perspective is not one of them, but a young Lieutenant and her friends. It's fascinating to see how the main cast come across from their perspective.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Piper is intensely guilty over what her attempt to help Sarda's career actually did to him, and one of the main plot points of the overall story, especially in Dreadnought!, is her clumsy efforts to try to make things right with him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Dreadnought! has a couple of moments:
      • When Enterprise goes to the rendezvous point given to them by the people who commandeered Star Empire, they find that some Klingon cruisers have beaten them to the punch and are in the process of shooting Star Empire to pieces. Piper in particular is shaken by the sight, especially when the Klingons shoot off one of Star Empire's nacelles. Subverted, though, when it's revealed that what they were seeing was a projection of the dreadnought being broadcast into their sensors.
      • Piper and the rest of Star Empire's bridge crew are horrified when they see that Pompeii, the destroyer Rittenhouse is using for his flagship, is accelerating to ram Star Empire.
    • In Battlestations!, Piper is scared to think of what Mr. Scott is going to say when he learns that their attempt to stop the Enterprise from leaving orbit has actually bent one of its nacelle struts.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Piper has a tendency to stick her foot in her mouth, and self-lampshades it in Dreadnought! when she makes a snarky comment about a particular phaser design to Mr. Scott only to learn that it was his design.
    Piper: [sotto voce, to Sarda] Do me a favor, will you? Just reach down my throat and pull out my vocal cords.
  • Orphaned Series: In a 1990 interview with Starlog, Diane Carey revealed that at least one more novel with the characters had been planned but never came to anything.
  • Persona Non Grata: Sarda, thanks to Piper, has been socially ostracized by other Vulcans in Starfleet, who cannot condone the perceived moral deficit in his area of expertise even though it was never his intention for his work to be used in that manner. As a result, he's floundering in many aspects of mental discipline which would be developed by associating with other Vulcans. This is extensively dealt with in Dreadnought!, while in Battlestations! a Vulcan on the transwarp development team has taken Sarda under his wing and helped him make progress in this area.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Judd "Scanner" Sandage, essentially a hillbilly in a Starfleet uniform; Piper actually describes him as being able to lean on a doorframe in a such a way as to make his uniform look like grubby overalls. That said, he's a very competent engineer, and as his nickname might indicate, is especially knowledgeable regarding sensor systems.
  • Space Elves: Merete's appearance, and by association others of her species, subtly invokes the imagery, as she has platinum-blonde hair, eyes that are a bit more angled than human eyes, and as is revealed later on, lavender blood.
  • The Spock: Subverted by Sarda. He tries to maintain a grip on his emotions, but his lack of interaction with other Vulcans has greatly stunted the development of the necessary mental disciplines and thus he has a tendency to be slightly emotional, usually expressed as irritation, frustration, and subtle snarkiness.

    Tropes specific to Dreadnought! 
  • Accent Interest: Piper is a human whose homeworld was not Earth, so when she meets Mr. Scott, she's delighted by his Scottish burr but has no idea where he could hail from, and is surprised to learn later on that it's an Earth accent.
  • Alarm SOS: Piper exploits this trope when she's confined to her quarters under computer guard after the initial meeting with Star Empire's hijackers. Knowing that the computer guard won't keep someone locked in a burning room, she sets off the fire alarm by overheating some circuitry in the wall with her curling iron. It works because (thanks to her engineer boyfriend) she knows how to disable the alarms that would normally alert the bridge and bring a whole pack of Red Shirts down on a prisoner under computer guard whose room actually suddenly caught fire.
  • Alien Blood:
    • A pointed reference to Vulcans having green blood is made when Piper describes Sarda blushing in shame ("going olive", as she describes it) at the commendation ceremony for his research.
    • Piper learns the hard way that Merete and others of her species have lavender blood. She uses the stains on her uniform to galvanize her anger toward Rittenhouse.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display: Dreadnought! introduces what may be intended to be an early form of holodeck technology, in the form of a projector that fills a room with a realistic holographic depiction of a world's environment, but without the interactive ability.note  At one point, Piper uses it to transform a shuttle bay into Vulcan to give Sarda a more welcoming environment for his studies. The same basic principle is used in the image projector of Star Empire; see Stealth in Space below.
  • Author Filibuster: Piper goes on an extended pro-Libertarian rant while locked in Pompeii's brig with Sarda, couched as her comparing Rittenhouse's political maneuvering and consolidation of power to the political upheavals that eventually led to Earth's third world war. She notes this was the topic she chose for a historical thesis required by captaincy candidates.
  • The Bus Came Back: Boma, a character not seen in Trek canon since the TOS episode "The Galileo Seven", is a minor character, the head of the team that developed Star Empire's hull material. During an angry confrontation with Bones and Scotty, he reveals that they filed insubordination charges against him for his conduct toward Spock in the episode, leading to him being Court-martialed and booted from Starfleet.
  • Compliment Backfire: The drama between Piper and Sarda began when Piper, in a misguided attempt to help Sarda, made his higher-ups aware of his fascination and skill with weapons design. She underestimated (or was completely unaware of) Vulcan innate pacifism, and didn't realize Sarda getting a posting to design weapons as his "most desired" assignment would essentially make him an Un-person among fellow Vulcans.
  • The Coup: Ultimately revealed to be Rittenhouse's long-term plan. Piper and Sarda discover that he has associates and cronies in a lot of high-ranking places within Starfleet, and Star Empire and future dreadnoughts of the same class are meant to be the tools by which he'll subjugate non-Federation governments and enforce his will.
  • Deadly Force Field: Downplayed. Sarda and Piper are being held in Rittenhouse's brig, when a sudden power outage occurs. Sarda acts fast, and darts out the now-deactivated force field door. The power comes on as he's just over halfway through, zapping him tremendously before spitting him out into the hallway. Sarda takes quite awhile to recover from the damage this did, though the implication is that the fact he was caught within the force field is what did the damage; just touching it wouldn't cause any serious harm.
  • Deer in the Headlights: During the confrontation between the Klingons and Star Empire, Piper is manning the helm. When the Klingons take notice of Enterprise, Kirk orders her to perform a maneuver that seems to be suicidally nonsensical. She freezes up and can't make herself do it, and is then shoved out of her chair by an ensign who performs the ordered tactic...and it works.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: Star Empire's whole point. Its firepower, triple-layered shields, sensor-fouling projector system, and advanced hull material make it far superior to any other Starfleet ship in terms of combat capability, and it's meant to be the first in a line of dreadnoughts that will lead a military coup against the Federation, then go on to bring peace by any means necessary across the galaxy.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Star Empire has one, of sorts, by fooling a group of Klingon cruisers into shooting up a projection of the ship (which Enterprise was also seeing) and then effortlessly destroying the Klingons when it actually made its presence known. And later it's revealed the hijackers barely know how to operate her. With a competent crew, she'd be a holy terror, and with veterans like those of Enterprise, she'd be invincible.
  • Extended Greetings: When Scanner and Merete are first introduced, they're accompanied by the daughter of a Gorn ambassador, who introduces herself to Piper with the equivalent of a full-body pat-down.
  • Fantasy Metals: One of Star Empire's advantages is that its hull is composed of a new material that makes it much more resistant to damage from phasers and similar weapons than normal hull materials.
  • Field Promotion: Scanner rigs the computers in a meeting room to allow Piper and the others to eavesdrop on a meeting between Rittenhouse, three other captains supporting him, and the senior officers of Enterprise. During the meeting, Rittenhouse basically slaps Kirk in the face by giving Cpt. Nash a field promotion to Commodore for the remainder of the time they are trying to apprehend Star Empire. Kirk stays calm, but Bones and Scotty are both outraged at the blatant disrespect shown by Rittenhouse.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Merete jokes about this when she's introduced to Piper, noting that her species is very similar to humans but that successful interbreeding hasn't happened...and not for lack of trying.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: Not only is Star Empire's hull structure reinforced in a hexagonal fashion, its saucer section is hexagonal in shape.
  • It's Personal: One of Rittenhouse's co-conspirators, Captain Nash, joined with Rittenhouse out of his hatred of the Orions for their pirates killing his son some years earlier. Coincidentally, this is also the reason for Merete to work with Rittenhouse, as she and her family were on the same vessel when it was attacked, and Merete was the only survivor, as she was a child and able to hide from the pirates.
  • Keep the Reward: At the end, Merete is offered several medals and commendations but refuses them. Piper tries to do this, but Starfleet pressures her into accepting them as a public face-saving measure due to the shakeups that are starting to happen in its bureaucracy.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Star Empire sounds like a silly name for a warship. Then Rittenhouse's plan to overthrow the Federation is revealed and it becomes a major hint to his true intentions.
    • During the starship battle, Piper is trying to do some repairs in engineering and asks Merete if she can find some "Jesus clips". Once she knows what they look like, Merete is able to find a few but is perplexed by the name, and Piper explains that it has to do with their design.
      Piper: They've got a lot of tensile strength and hold really tightly if—IF—you can get them into place without them going PING! and flying off who-knows-where. Somewhere in the bowels of every Federation starship there's a Jesus clip graveyard waiting to be discovered.
      Merete: I see. But why do you call them that?
      Piper: Because when they go PING! you go JEEEEEEEEEESUS!!!
  • The Mole: Near the climax, Merete self-reveals to be one for Rittenhouse, out of hate for what the Orions did to her parents when she was a child. However, the combination of Piper talking her through that trauma, her genuinely liking Piper and being very conflicted over what she's doing as a result, and the obvious truth of Rittenhouse and his cronies' ships firing on Enterprise and Star Empire turns her against Rittenhouse.
  • Ramming Always Works: Subverted at the end of the starship battle when Rittenhouse's ship is destroyed by Enterprise as it attempts to ram Star Empire. It's noted that Federation destroyers (smaller ships than heavy cruisers like Enterprise) are designed with this purpose in mind (and Piper realises this is the reason Rittenhouse chose Pompeii as his flagship rather than a more powerful ship), which is rather bizarrely out of character for an organisation like Starfleet.
  • Stealth in Space: One of the things that makes Star Empire so dangerous is that it's equipped with a much more advanced version of the aforementioned hologram tech that allows it to project false images of itself into other ships' sensors. This essentially makes it impossible to accurately detect without, theoretically, people standing at the windows and relaying information to the bridge. This doesn't render the ship itself invisible; in the confrontation with the Klingons, Star Empire had to hide in a convenient Asteroid Thicket.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: As the meeting between Rittenhouse, the other captains, and the Enterprise officers is closing up, Piper notes that captains Leedson and Tutakai share a "worried, 'in-over-our-heads' look" just before walking out of the room, as if they're beginning to realize the mess the situation is turning into.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: Dreadnought! opens with Piper's Kobayashi Maru test. Her novel way of trying to circumvent the test (namely, using her communicator to hotwire the "bridge" computer to gain some control of her ship's systems so she can fight off the attackers leads to the simulation's computers frying themselves...and getting the attention of Kirk, who was watching the testing and requests that Piper be assigned to Enterprise.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • When Piper tells Merete about her past with Sarda, she describes their relationship as being about as close to friendship as a Vulcan will allow, but her ignorance of Vulcan cultural norms led her to try to help his career, which blew up badly and ruined their relationship and, more importantly, wrecked Sarda's life.
    • Piper apparently hits this point with Brian Silayna, her former lover. She speaks and thinks fondly of him up until the point that he reveals himself to her and Enterprise's officers as part of the plot to steal Star Empire, and that it was he that used Piper's biocode to get their attention. When they finally meet back up, she is furious with him over the deception and gives him the cold shoulder when he tries to patch things up.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: During the massive starship battle at the end, Enterprise messages Rittenhouse and offers to surrender, with Spock announcing that Kirk has been mortally injured and the ship has been critically damaged. Rittenhouse takes the bait and has the other ships move in to start taking prisoners, but Enterprise powers back up and launches a counter-attack that badly damages the other ships and starts to swing the battle in Enterprise and Star Empire's favor.

    Tropes specific to Battlestations! 
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The villain's plan involves hijacking Enterprise, rendering the crew unconscious with the ship's own intruder-defense systems.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Piper and her crew have some "acquired" Klingon disruptors to use to take back Enterprise. Piper orders theirs set for stun, but locks hers on "disintegrate," despite making a very big deal in the first book about Rittenhouse's security guards doing so being "an unforgivable breach of Starfleet protocol." She bursts onto the bridge, picks a target at random, fires, and watches as everyone gapes at her as the man's echoing scream as his molecules were rent apart finishes. Piper wanted to make the point that she was done screwing around.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Piper's little space tug managed to prevent Enterprise from jumping to warp by yanking one nacelle askew with its heavy-duty tractor beam, but it blows out most of the systems on the ship, including life support.
  • Brick Joke: After mangling one of Enterprise's warp nacelles, various characters note that Piper had better fix it before Scotty finds out about it. The last scene of the book is Scotty in Tranquil Fury mode, asking to have a chat with Piper...
  • Call-Forward: The story takes place at a point when transwarp technology, a key feature of Excelsior from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, has just been developed but has not had a chance to be thoroughly tested.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: A minor funny moment happens when Piper, in the middle of a very tense situation, really needs to use the head. Thankfully, it only takes Spock (currently in the captain's chair) a moment to figure out what she means by "Permission to step updeck?".
  • Continuity Nod: Battlestations! opens with Piper as part of Kirk's crew on his yacht on Earth, which is revealed to be named Edith Keeler. Piper wonders about the meaning of the name but it's never discussed.
  • Knockout Gas: The transwarp thieves take control of Enterprise by knocking out the entire crew with a dangerous aerosolized chemical that could easily have killed everyone if not dosed correctly. Scotty, for one, ends up very messed up and doesn't get back on his feet until the end of the book.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The "cosmic scramble" at the climax involves multiple Klingon Houses, the Romulans, the Tholians, and more than one unidentified race's ships in a massive brawl over the transwarp MacGuffin aboard the crippled Enterprise.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Piper does this toward Scanner, treating him with a meanness that didn't seem to be on display during Dreadnought!.
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked in the references to Argelius II. The Argelian devotion to hedonism above all else has turned their culture stagnant, and offering shore leave services to passing starships is the only effective way to support the planetary economy. Also, if you're not there specifically to get laid, it's the singularly most boring place in the galaxy.
  • What a Piece of Junk: Piper is aghast when she sees Banana Republic, the ugly, misshapen tug Scanner's procured for them, but it proves its worth by pulling off a tractor beam stunt that actually cripples Enterprise at a critical moment.