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Literature / Star Trek: Destiny

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"This ship is the Federation's last line of defense, and nine hours from now we will have to hold that line, outnumbered by an enemy that doesn't negotiate, won't surrender, and never shows mercy. It's an impossible mission. Fortunately, we have some experience with those here on the Enterprise."
Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Part of the Star Trek Novel Verse.

With the end of Star Trek: Voyager in 2001 and the flop of Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002, the canonical Star Trek franchise changed its focus from the 24th century back to the 22nd and, ultimately, 23rd centuries. The upshot was that the bleeding edge of the Star Trek mythos was completely abandoned... with, for the first time in decades, absolutely no new developments planned on the horizon.

Needless to say that the way was paved for a more active Star Trek Expanded Universe, where writers of novels were finally free to really shake things up and the status quo no longer held the sway it once did.

All of this culminated in late 2008 with Star Trek: Destiny, an epic novel trilogy by David Mack, detailing the final war between The Federation and the Borg Collective. After suffering one defeat after another at the hands of Starfleet, the Borg have finally decided to cut their losses and wipe out Humanity once and for all. To this end, they send an armada to the Alpha Quadrant using a network of interstellar tunnels, left behind by a Sufficiently Advanced Alien race. Things look bleak for Starfleet, but the wreck of a ship, lost mysteriously centuries earlier, may hold the secret to the Federation's survival.

The story is spread out over three novels (Gods of Night, Mere Mortals and Lost Souls). Major spoilers are found below. The books were followed by A Singular Destiny and Losing the Peace as pseudo-epilogues.

This series is also notable as the main point at which the novelverse and Star Trek Online's continuity diverge for good: the all-out Borg invasion never happens in that game.

Tropes seen in Star Trek: Destiny include:

  • Actual Pacifist: The Caeliar. They would rather die in the millions than harm another being, or even allow harm to come to others if they can prevent it. When the human characters they're holding captive rebel, they're convinced to co-operate when a human shoots his own colleague.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Former President Zife, a Bolian, greatly admired Monet's Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lillies. He left the painting in a prominent position in the Presidential wardroom, considering it a symbol of all the art and culture of the Federation, which he was intent on preserving.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: The Caeliar. Not literally all-powerful, but incredibly advanced technologically, and capable of resolving the Borg threat relatively simply. However, their culture is stagnant, xenophobic and isolationist in the extreme, apathetic about the wider galaxy. It takes Erika Hernandez to pull them off the sidelines, after first rediscovering her own humanity.
  • Alone in a Crowd: A very effective example in Mere Mortals, with Erika Hernandez among the Caeliar. The scene leads into Hernandez's attempted suicide.
  • And I Must Scream: The fate that threatens Hernandez if the Borg get hold of her. Also, what happens to Hernandez's three remaining crew members when faced with spending their whole lives imprisoned with the Caeliar, with absolutely nothing to do and no one to talk to (not even themselves). Fletcher handles it somewhat better than the other two.
  • Apocalypse How: By means of Borg cubes annihilating planetary biospheres, apparently.
  • Back for the Dead: T'lana, who had been written out of the series she appeared in shortly before Destiny, and Charivretha zh'Thane, who hadn't been seen for some time (and several years earlier in-universe).
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: In the climax of the trilogy, the Borg Collective and the Caeliar gestalt engage in a psychic battle, with Erika Hernandez's mind serving as the battlefield.
  • Blood on the Debate Floor: When President Bacco calls the ambassadors from the major galactic powers together, Klingon ambassador K'mtok and Romulan ambassador Kalavak end up fighting. After a series of accusations and insults regarding events in prior novels (particularly in Star Trek: Articles of the Federation), the two begin to physically scuffle, until separated by Federation security.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: The Caeliar, who have evolved almost completely beyond the need for physical bodies, have no crime, poverty, or want, and are devoted completely to artistic and scientific pursuits. They have just enough respect for others' beliefs to not try to convince other races that the Caeliar's way is correct, but no amount of cajoling will convince them that the Caeliar's way is wrong. They are severely isolationist, but are Actual Pacifists, which leads various characters who stumble upon their home planet to become permanent "guests". Not a bad place to be, all things considered, but don't argue too much. Make too much noise or disrupt their work and the Caeliar will teleport you to a nice uninhabited planet a few billion light years away, just to make sure you never get home with information about them.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Borg versus anything, but particularly the Battle of the Azure Nebula. A combined fleet of 10 major powers is destroyed without doing any appreciable damage to the invading Borg Armada.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The Borg, obviously. However, one scene in particular is notable. Star Trek: Titan character Torvig Bu-kar-nguv is from a race of non-humanoid cyborgs (Choblik), who owe their intelligence and civilization to their implants, being a race of Uplifted Animal. In previous novels, Torvig initially had difficulty comprehending the full horror of the Borg Collective. Now, though, the implications finally hit him, and he ends up perhaps the most horrified of all; this trope, and thus the Borg, are essentially the anti-Choblik, their most primal horror. He makes his friend Ranul Keru promise that he won't let Torvig be taken by Borg.
  • Darkest Hour: The Borg invasion is a weighty contender for the darkest hour of the entire Star Trek franchise.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Picard crosses this when his decision to finally start a family with Beverly Crusher coincides with the Borg launching what looks to be a final, all-out attack on the Federation - a war that by conventional means can only be won by the Borg.
  • Discontinuity Nod: While the events of Before Dishonor remain in (novel) continuity, various characters in this trilogy make a point of noting that it was only the one prototypical Borg cube which possessed the absorptive capability that allowed it to EAT PLUTO!
  • Divided We Fall: Averted. Martok's nemesis Councillor Kopek agrees this is no time for politics. When Martok, leading the Klingon fleet, calls Kopek back on Qo'noS to warn him of impending Borg attack, Kopek assures Martok his throne will be waiting for him upon his return. Martok replies "with you sitting in it, I imagine?" However, Kopek for once isn't planning anything, and says so. It's the first time the character has been presented as anything other than a selfish monster; he understands the severity of the situation. He also dies defending Qo'noS, so possibly Redemption Equals Death.
  • Driven to Suicide: Columbia survivors Johanna Metzger and Thom Steinhauer - on different worlds at different points in history, but for similar reasons.
  • Dying Race: The Caeliar lost the ability to reproduce when they advanced to their current form. They didn't think it would be a problem, but when 98% of their people are lost in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, it eventually forces a reexamination of their cultural ideals.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: While far from completely happy (see Pyrrhic Victory) there is nonetheless a great sense of relief knowing that the war is over, and the Borg will never be able to hurt anyone again.
  • Emergency Transformation: Erika Hernandez, after she began to die of old age. It was also recommended for, and eventually forced upon, Graylock, Pembleton and Thayer.
  • Genocide Dilemma: This once again surfaces with the Borg.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The situation gets so bad that Starfleet seriously considers holding the Borg off with thalaron weapons and evacuating the Federation's population to another galaxy. In fact, Seven of Nine coldly deduces that the Federation cannot hope to win, and must embrace such desperate tactics to survive at all.
    • Near the end of the final book, Picard, Riker, and Ezri contemplate destroying the Caeliar's Omega molecule generator in the event that the Caeliar failed to stop the Borg. They freely acknowledge that the resulting explosion of Omega molecules would destroy most of the galaxy, and put an end to all warp travel in several nearby galaxies.
  • Going Native: After nearly a millennium in the Caeliar capital and an Emergency Transformation, Erika Hernandez is finally able to admit that she is, indeed, a Caeliar.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Subverted. President Bacco does indeed call for aid from all other powers in the Alpha and Beta quadrants, but their response is tepid and the combined fleet is annihilated within minutes anyway. All that her efforts really accomplish is to antagonize the Tholians.
  • Heroic BSoD: Captain Picard is in and out of one for most of the trilogy.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Many. Among the more notable examples: The crew of the Imperial Romulan Warbird Verithrax, who destroyed themselves saving planet Ardana from destruction, Captain Pachal and the crew of Ranger, using their ship as a missile to take out a Borg cube menacing Khitomer, and six million Caeliar to save their human “guests” during the destruction of Erigol.
    • Lt. Lonnoc Kedair's attempt to do this fails, but she's still freakin' awesome anyway.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Erigol, the Caeliar homeworld. After the switch to New Erigol, they keep to the tradition, rejecting contact with the outside galaxy and hoping to keep their world concealed.
  • Hired Guns: President Bacco outmaneuvers the Tholians by having the Ferengi hire the Breen as mercenaries in the conflict against the Borg, denying the Tholians the opportunity to ally with the Breen and harass Federation holdings while adding the Breen to the allied effort in the Azure Nebula. Orion mercenaries are also hired.
  • Hive Mind: Star Trek: Destiny presents two different versions; the nightmarish, all-consuming collective of the Borg and the vastly more benign "Gestalt" of the Caeliar. The first one is derived from the other.
  • Hive Queen: Subverted. The Borg Queen is revealed to be a mere puppet of the fundamental drives at the heart of the collective - and then unsubverted, because the drives at the heart of the collective are the millennia-old remnants of the personality of Inyx's ex-wife.
  • Hopeless War: Even before the Borg armada shows up, Seven flat out tells the Admiralty that the Federation has no realistic hope of winning this war. She's pretty much right, and only the intervention of the Caeliar saves the Federation from complete annihilation.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In a sense. After learning the truth of the Borg's origins, Picard surmises that the Borg must have inherited their savagery and cruelty from their human ancestors. Also, the Columbia mutineers' actions set in motion the chain of events that eventually led to the creation of the Borg.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: After Sedin assimilates Graylock, Thayer, and Pembleton, she forces Graylock and Thayer to "consolidate" Pembleton, carve up his body, and consume his edible components in order to replenish their malnourished bodies.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Martok, after his flagship is crippled during a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from the Borg, and he can only sit and wait for repairs as the Borg fleet moves on to Qo'noS.
  • Ironic Echo: The little speech pointing out that "Caeliar" is both noun and adjective. Given to Erika Hernandez by Inyx after Hernandez arrives at Erigol, it is later given to the visiting crew of Titan. Hernandez and Inyx share a quick amused glance.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Despite being severely damaged by the Borg, Voyager refuses assistance from the Enterprise, citing that the Enterprise can't waste time helping a single ship when a Borg armada is about to destroy the Federation.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: The other Caeliar tell Inyx that if he doesn't control Erika's behavior, they will displace her to a remote planet where, cut off from the Axion's power source, she will eventually die of old age.
    • This also has the effect of curbing Erika's rebellious behavior, as she doesn't want Inyx to blame himself for her death.
  • Kill All Humans: The new goal of the Borg Collective. As well as all Vulcans, all Andorians, all Tellarites, all Romulans, all Klingons, all...
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Inyx personally dissolves Sedin's corrupted essence after extracting it from the Borg.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Owen Paris, Charivretha zh'Thane, T'Lana, Kopek, as well as the planets Deneva, Khitomer, Risa, and Coridan, among others.
    • The Borg... sort of. The drones have all been liberated, but the Collective itself - which is revealed to be the corrupted remnants of Sedin's consciousness - has been abolished.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The crews of the Enterprise and Aventine use TR-116 rifles against the Hirogen, and later, the Borg to great effect.
  • Knight Templar: Picard tends towards this.
  • Last Request: President Bacco tells her assistant to have the kitchen whip up the finest meals they can and have as many officials and staffers as possible attend a final banquet before the Borg reach Earth. She decides that if this is the end of the Federation, then by God they're going to go out with heads held high.
  • Manly Tears: Picard breaks down in tears on the Enterprise bridge after the Collective is finally defeated.
  • Mind Rape: The Borg respond to Hernandez's attempts to hack the collective by corrupting her favourite childhood memories. It's basically the psychic equivalent of a "scorched earth" campaign, leaving her nowhere to retreat to while facing the nightmare of the collective mind.
  • The Mutiny: A group of Columbia crewmembers refuse to spend the rest of their lives as "guests" of the Caeliar. They subsequently revolt against Captain Hernandez and try to take control of one of Caeliar's cities. This does not end well for anyone.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Erika's word-for-word reaction to Valerian's incredibly gruesome demise due to Inyx's botched catom infusion, a procedure that Erika had convinced Valerian to undergo.
    • Also Kedair's reaction when she discovers she mistakenly ordered her team to open fire on another Starfleet team while storming the Borg probe.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Inyx is one of the few Caeliar who realizes that his people are overly isolationist and xenophobic.
  • Nanomachines: Borg nanoprobes and Caeliar catoms. The former is a corrupted version of the latter.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The Borg certainly came light-years closer to total annihilation of the Federation than Captain Nero, Khan, and the Dominion combined. They are literally seconds away from destroying Earth when they are lured back to the Azure Nebula by the Caeliar's Omega molecule generator.
  • Neck Snap: Worf kills the Hirogen Alpha on the Enterprise bridge this way.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It is heavily implied that the invasion occurs thanks to the actions of future Janeway back in "Endgame"... or not. Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations explicitly says that in the long run, if the Borg hadn't invaded (and subsequently been defeated) at that point in history, nothing could have stopped them from conquering the entire galaxy by the year 2600 at the latest.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The trilogy ends with the Borg Collective being dismantled and absorbed into the Caeliar gestalt, who subsequently leave the galaxy. Also Starfleet and the Federation have been severely weakened.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: A key plot point of the trilogy's climax. Hernandez and Dax realize that there are too many similarities between the Borg and the Caeliar to be chalked up to mere coincidence.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Both T'Lana (see Star Trek: The Next Generation Relaunch) and Charivretha zh'Thane (of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch) die like this, peacefully accepting their fate when they are caught in the bombardment of Vulcan and Andor, respectively.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Subverted: The Admiralty seems really stupid for not distributing transphasic torpedoes throughout the fleet at first. Turns out that they had a point, as the later heavy usage of the weapon results in the Borg adapting to the supposedly unadaptable torpedo.
    • Played straight with the Caeliar leader Ordemo Nordal.
  • Oh, Crap!: Chakotay's reaction when 7461 Borg Cubes show up in front of him.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Borg Collective, following the loss of the transwarp network, are done with the Federation repeatedly stopping their attacks. The Borg's new goal, until they are stopped/saved is simply "destroy everything". It's summed up by the taunting message the Borg send to the Federation, which outright scares Picard: We are the Borg. You will be annihilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness have become irrelevant. Resistance is futile... but welcome.
  • Orbital Bombardment: The Borg's standard method of planetary annihilation.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Caeliar see themselves as this. They're certainly not actually perfect, mind you, but they're condescending enough to think they are.
  • Plot Armor: Out of the three hundred-something ships rallied against the Borg in the Azure Nebula, only Voyager survives. Barely, though. Though it's implied that the Borg left the ship intact but crippled as a Cruel Mercy.
  • Poisonous Person: The Chelons' natural poison defenses come into play at one point (having been established in Star Trek: Vanguard). A Hirogen hunter is quite embarrassed to find himself defeated by a dead man, having released the toxin while killing a Chelon crewman.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Borg war, pretty much. Yes, the Federation won and the Collective was liberated, but Deneva, Risa, Coridan and several other major worlds have been wiped out, while Vulcan, Andor, and Qo'noS and many other worlds are severely damaged, 40 percent of Starfleet has been destroyed, and 63 billion people are dead. There isn't any mood to celebrate.
  • Razor Floss: The Hirogen boarders employ monomolecular garrotes.
  • Race Against the Clock: The final book features the Starfleet crews desperately trying to find a solution before the Borg arrive at Earth in twelve hours.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After getting caught trying to contact Earth, Erika Hernandez not only refuses to apologize to the Caeliar for "abusing" her new powers, but goes on the offense, calling them out on their xenophobia and rigidity.
    "You say you're looking for civilizations equal to or more advanced than your own, but you act as if you live in fear of the less-developed cultures that are thriving all around you. Can't you see that your self-imposed isolation is making you narrow-minded and provincial? How can you devote yourselves to seeking out new worlds when you shrink and hide from the ones in your own backyard?"
  • The Reveal: The Caeliar are the ancestors of the Borg, via Time Travel.
  • Rousing Speech: Martok gives one to the assembled High Council:
    "Blood shed for a friend is sacred, a debt of honor. And if you won’t stand and fight beside a friend in blood, then you are not a Klingon. You are not a warrior. Run home to your beds and hide, I have no use for you! I won’t die in the company of such petaQ’pu. The sons of our sons will sing of these battles. Time will erase our sins and fade our scars, but our names will live on in songs of honor. The Borg are coming, my brothers. Stand and fight beside me now, and let us make warriors born in ages to come curse Fek’lhr that they were not here to SHARE OUR GLORY!”
  • Save the Villain: How Erika convinces the normally pacifist Caeliar to help her stop the Borg.
  • Screw You, Elves!: The Federation characters are generally unimpressed by Caeliar claims of cultural superiority.
  • Sequel Hook: The Children of the Storm. Indeed, they've since been followed up on in the Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch books. The trilogy also sets the stage for the rise of the Typhon Pact. See A Singular Destiny and Star Trek: Typhon Pact.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Morgan Bateson of the Atlas as the remnants of his battle group take on the Borg near Vulcan.
    Bateson: Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more! FIRE AT WILL!
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Major Foyle of the Columbia's MACO company who is willing to lie, wound and kill fellow crewmembers without any considerations but his own and is disturbingly calm about this.
  • Start of Darkness: The origin of the Borg is finally revealed. It is extremely complicated and involves a French Canadian, alien whalers, and Inyx's ex-wife. Very basically, a group of Caeliar and humans were stranded on a remote planet in the distant past where the Caeliar were dying, and the last one of them, with almost none of her mind left other than a desperate need to survive, forcibly merged with the humans, creating cyborgs that had little mental directives other than consume and survive.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Erika Hernandez suffers from a mild case of this, coming to admire her captors and their culture to the point she forgets she's a prisoner. Her crew members are less than happy about it.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Caeliar.
  • Taking the Bullet: Happens twice during the Battle of Korvat, both times with a Federation starship taking the brunt of the Borg's planet-destroying weapon and being vaporized almost instantly.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: President Bacco tries to pull off a joint operation between the United Federation of Planets, Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire, Imperial Romulan State, Cardassian Union, Gorn Hegemony, Breen Confederacy, Talarian Republic, Ferengi Alliance and Tholian Assembly. Eventually, everyone except the Tholians agrees.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: The Borg send an armada of over 7,000 ships, which would be enough to wipe out every planet and space station in Federation space within a few days, and then continue onward to destroy all the local powers within a month.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ezri Dax. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine television series, Ezri was an extremely awkward, timid, and self-conscious character, to the point where Elim Garak once gave her a classic "The Reason You Suck" Speech, informing her that the reason why everyone had preferred Jadzia Dax, her symbiote's previous host, was because Ezri was a complete wimp, and Jadzia wasn't. By the end of these three books, however, nobody is still comparing Ezri unfavorably with Jadzia.
  • Throw-Away Country: Not that anybody really cares about Acamar or Barolia mind you. Averted later on in the series by having some important planets get destroyed as well.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: So the Columbia meets with the Caeliar in the twenty-second century. When the planet Erigol is destroyed, portals are created going to different times and places. Captain Hernandez ends up in a distant part of the alpha quadrant, 800 years earlier. Another city-ship is sent to a far corner of the universe, near the beginning of time (eventually causing the catastrophe which destroyed Erigol in the first place). A third goes back in time to the Delta Quadrant seven thousand years earlier, where they give rise to the Borg... are you taking notes?
  • Villain Pedigree: The Borg recover nicely from their Villain Decay.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Collective/Sedin has a bit of a meltdown when the Caeliar begin overpowering them during their psychic battle.
  • Was Once a Man: The Borg collective itself, based on a synthesis of the worst aspects of a Caeliar and her Human victims
  • Wham Episode: By the end of this trilogy 40% of Starfleet has been destroyed, 63 billion people are dead, and the Borg are gone.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: La Forge gives Captain Picard a speech of this kind for planning to annihilate the Borg with a Weapon of Mass Destruction rather than considering Hernandez's approach. Indeed, a Weapon of Mass Destruction that Picard has always condemned, which if used would have the Klingons and Romulans up in arms (quite justifiably) and which Picard's crew and friends fought - in some cases to the death - to prevent being used elsewhere. Most importantly, Picard's approach wouldn't have worked anyway. He had totally given up, and was fixated on a "go down shooting!" apocalyptic mindset whereas Hernandez, Dax and Riker were legitimately trying to put a stop to the destruction.
    • La Forge is also suddenly arguing for alternatives to killing the Borg despite showing no such concerns earlier in the novels when the Enterprise was one-shotting Borg cubes with transphasic torpedoes. It's clear that his real objection is to the method, not the act itself, and would be cheerfully complicit in the annihilation of the Borg if it could be done by conventional means. He also alternates between arguing that it won't work, and that it will have negative political consequences. If it came to using thalaron weapons, and they didn't work, there wouldn't be any political consequences because everyone would be dead or Borg. Furthermore Picard isn't even planning to use them unless the Caeliar fail and the Borg resume their genocidal attack. If it came to using the thalaron weapons, and they did work, it's doubtful anyone would agree that the political fallout was somehow worse than the total annihilation of all life by the Borg. The entire scene only works because the author and audience already know that the peaceful solution will work because it's Star Trek.
      • Though, it should be noted, La Forge's What the Hell, Hero? speech comes after Riker makes a more diplomatic attempt at one - at this point in the Borg invasion, any plan they come up with qualifies as being based in desperation and is a longshot, there's just as little - or just as much - chance of the thalaron weapon working as Hernandez's plan, but when Picard learns that the Enterprise is the only ship in a condition to enact the plan, he immediately vetoes it without consideration. Riker argues that Picard has abandoned hope, crossed his Despair Event Horizon, and is just looking to take as many Borg down as he goes, rather than actually fighting to survive, a point that even Beverly, who Picard is now married to, had also softballed an attempt at making. Ultimately, it comes across as much that the author and audience know they're in a Star Trek story as La Forge's speech being the straw that breaks the camel's back (or the phaser rifle that breaks the little model Enterprises on the wall.)
    • Inyx gives Dr. Ree a telling off when he bites Deanna Troi as part of his efforts to care for her. Inyx's Actual Pacifist ways clash with the carnivorous ethos of Ree's people. Subverted later on, as Inyx later discovers that Ree's actions, in fact, saved Troi's life.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Implied to be the origin of the Borg