A novel set in the Star Trek: Picard time frame of the Star Trek universe.
Starfleet was everything for Cristobal Rios—until one horrible, inexplicable day when it all went wrong. Aimless and adrift, he grasps at a chance for a future as an independent freighter captain in an area betrayed by the Federation, the border region with the former Romulan Empire. His greatest desire: to be left alone.
But solitude isn’t in the cards for the captain of La Sirena, who falls into debt to a roving gang of hoodlums from a planet whose society is based on Prohibition-era Earth. Teamed against his will with Ledger, his conniving overseer, Rios begins an odyssey that brings him into conflict with outlaws and fortune seekers, with power brokers and relic hunters across the stars.
Exotic loves and locales await—as well as dangers galore—and Rios learns the hard way that good crewmembers are hard to find, even when you can create your own. And while his meeting with Jean-Luc Picard is years away, Rios finds himself drawing on the Starfleet legend’s experiences when he discovers a mystery that began on one of the galaxy’s most important days…
This book contains the following tropes:
- Always Save the Girl: Fajo says that Rios will always do this. He's right.
- Ambiguous Situation: Was Rios going to steal La Sirena or was he just taking it for a test drive?
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Rios and Ledger have this throughout the book. They both deny it, though. Until they don't.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Fajo and Arkko are the two baddies both after the actuality.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Liselle tried to have Rios murdered. She isn't guilty of any of the other crimes he thinks she might have done, though.
- Broken Pedestal: Rios does not have any respect remaining for Starfleet after they engaged in a cover up of his captain's suicide after the murder of two innocent aliens. Then again, they did cashier him and all of his crew mates.
- Cool Starship: The La Sirena is one of these, being a very fast ship with an oddball holodeck system.
- Cynicism Catalyst: His captains murder of two innocent aliens and then suicide. Starfleet's reaction didn't help either.
- Dating Catwoman: Rios develops this with Ledger, even if she's meant to keep watch on him for The Syndicate. Also Doctor Quimby, who is secretly Vash.
- Deconstruction: Being a tramp freighter captain is not nearly the glamorous exciting life it seems to be in other science fiction franchises.
- Denser and Wackier: This is a lot goofier and funnier adventure than the Darker and Edgier previous Picard novels.
- John Jackson Miller has stated this was a deliberate creative choice. Not only was he coming off the Discovery tie-in novels The Enterprise War and Die Standing (both of which were tonally dark), but Rogue Elements was also being developed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Miller understandably felt he and the audience both needed something that was lighter fare and his Editors concurred.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Rios knew Fajo would refuse to pay him and thus implicate himself in piracy and murder. Even when Rios is giving him a fortune.
- Dumb Muscle: Glake doesn't talk much and he seems a bit slow even for a Nausicaan, but he's strong, loyal, and means well... despite his little mishap with the shipment of ball bearings.
- Femme Fatale: Rios thinks Ledger is one of these but it's actually Liselle.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Fajo gets himself arrested for murder because he simply can't resist cheating Rios.
- Latin Lover: Rios seduces and is seduced by a number of beautiful women throughout the book.
- May–December Romance: Rios and Doctor Quimby who is actually Vash.
- No Woman's Land: The Iotians barely avoided this happening due to the fact that a Iotian woman removed all the references to sexual slavery and abuse among mobsters from the Great Book.
- Pals with Jesus: Verengan had a holodeck recreation of Sto'vo'kar with Khaless as the bartender. He notes that most Klingons would consider it sacrilegious, but he was happy to be the companion that Verengan so clearly needed. His profundity, so like the real Kahless, coming from a hologram surprises Rios. By way of analogy, he reminds himself that "artificial gravity is still gravity".
- Posthumous Character: Verengan is the previous owner of La Sirena.
- The Scapegoat: Rios was blamed by his fellow crew members for getting them cashiered despite having nothing to do with it.
- Sequel Episode: Besides being a prequel to Picard Season One, Rogue Elements also serves as a follow-up to TOS' "A Piece of the Action", TNG's "The Most Toys", and even a very loose sequel to The Undiscovered Country.
- The Syndicate: The Convincers are one of the most powerful Iotian crime syndicates out there.
- Teleporter Accident: Glake's first time at La Sirena's transporter pad, to beam up a shipment of ball bearings, ends with the payload materializing on the pad without their containers, with predictable results. Unfortunately, despite all the effort the crew has to go through to clean up the mess, the delicate spheres are too scuffed by their misadventure through the freighter's halls to satisfy the buyer.
- Treasure Map: The actuality of Chang turns out to be one of these that leads to Parch's treasure. Oh and Parch themselves.