The Starship Titan continues on her outward voyage of discovery. Ranging farther and farther from Federation space, Captain William Riker and the crew look forward to living Starfleet's mission: seeking out new life, discovering new civilizations.
Striking a "sandbank" -- a spatial distortion -- the Titan is knocked out of warp, her crew shaken up but uninjured. Titan has stumbled across a battlefield, and floating in it, shattered and in pieces, are the remains of a ship. Searching for survivors, they discover the ship never had a crew. The away team removes the computer core, looking for answers. Once the device is restored, it becomes clear this is not just a computer, but a thinking, reasoning artificial intelligence.
It identifies itself as SecondGen White-Blue, and it comes from a civilization composed entirely of sentient computers. Eons ago these artificial intelligences were charged to be the first line of defense against The Null -- a destructive force so all-consuming that generation upon generation have waged unending war trying to find a way to beat back this terror. Captain Riker offers to assist them, but years of war have left the AIs distrustful and suspicious, especially of organics.
The tide of the battle is turning, and The Null is winning. Set free, it will destroy everything in this system and then, unchecked, spread its mindless destruction into the heart of the Federation.
James Swallow is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author and BAFTA-nominated screenwriter, the only British writer to have worked on a Star Trek TV series. His Star Trek fiction includes The Latter Fire, Sight Unseen, The Poisoned Chalice, Cast No Shadow, Synthesis, Day of the Vipers, The Stuff of Dreams, Myriad Universes: Seeds of Dissent, and short stories in Seven Deadly Sins, Shards and Shadows, The Sky’s The Limit, and Distant Shores. His other work includes the Marc Dane thriller series and tales from the worlds of 24, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Halo, Warhammer 40,000, and more. He lives and works in London.