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"House of Cards"
written by Peter David.
The narrative then shifts to the backstory of Mackenzie Calhoun, how twenty years ago he led his people the Xenexians in their rebellion against their Danterian oppressors. Calhoun and his brother met with Captain Picard of the Stargazer and a Danterian representative. Picard mentioned that Calhoun could have a future in Starfleet.
Then Dr. Selar's backstory is revealed, how two years ago she and her husband Voltak met on Vulcan to consummate their pon farr. Sadly, Voltak had a heart attack in the middle of it, and died, leaving Selar crushed.
Flash forward to the present, the year 2373. The Thallonian Empire collapses and Starfleet convenes a meeting to determine how to respond. At the meeting is Si Cwan, Captain Picard, Commander Riker, Admirals Nechayev and Jellico, Ambassador Spock and Danterian Ambassador Ryjaan. It is decided to send in a lone starship into the area to show the flag and lend any assistance. The Excalibur is chosen as the ship, and it is to be commanded by Mackenzie Calhoun. Admiral Nechayev tells Picard that Calhoun has been working as a deep cover operative for her for the last few years.
Calhoun is still in the field and Captain Picard is sent to bring Calhoun back. Calhoun was on a disreputable outpost playing cards with an Orion slaver, Krassus. Calhoun and he fight and he kills Krassus partly out of self defense and partly to avenge his friend who Krassus killed. The book ends with Soleta, who has been teaching at the Academy for some years, receiving orders to report as Science Officer of the Excalibur. Si Cwan shows up at her quarters and held her at gun point.