Even in the 24th century, three is definitely a crowd. "Imzadi": to the people of the planet Betazed, including Counselor Deanna Troi of the Starship Enterprise, it means "beloved" and denotes a special closeness that can never be truly broken. Or can it? In his acclaimed earlier novel, "Imzadi", bestselling author Peter David explored the special bond between Deanna Troi and Commander William T. Riker. It revealed new facets of their long and intimate relationship and put that bond to its ultimate test in a powerful and unforgettable story that remains one of the most popular Star Trek adventures ever published. "Imzadi" was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback. Now David examines the heart of Deanna Troi from an altogether different perspective, as he reveals for the first time the full story of Troi's troubled romance with Lieutenant Commander Worf. At first glance, they cannot be more different. She is an empath, gentle and acutely sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. He is a fierce Klingon warrior, dedicated to a harsh and warlike code of honor. Brought together, however, by a common need to care for Alexander, Worf's troubled, motherless son, they discover hidden reserves of courage and compassion within each other. Soon mutual respect leads to much stronger emotions as they embark on an unexpected courtship, much to the surprise and discomfort of William Riker. But does Worf's future truly lie with Deanna... or on a distant outpost called Deep Space 9 and whom indeed shall Troi ultimately call "imzadi"? "Imzadi II" is a compelling story, an untold chapter in the history of the Starship Enterprise.
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Peter David is the bestselling author of several previous Star Trek® novels, including Star Trek: New Frontier, Q-Squared, Q-In-Law, Vendetta, and, of course, Imzadi. He lives on Long Island.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Riker had no warning before the shock prod tapped him in the small of the back. Immediately he died, temporarily, from the waist down. He hated the occasions when it happened, the feeling of total helplessness. The knowledge that the fall was inevitable was more grueling and hurtful to him than the fall itself.
He hit the ground hard, as he always did on such occasions. He dropped his ore breaker in the hopes of cushioning some of the fall with his hands, and he was partly successful -- but only partly, as the base of his hands crunched into the hard ground. He felt the jolt all the way up his elbows, and he gasped low in his throat. Then he braced himself for the inevitable kick. It came just as he had expected, a sharp blow to the stomach. In his first days in captivity, that had always been the worst, those stomach blows. Over time, however, he had learned to anticipate them, and he was able to condition himself against them. Just before the impact, he consciously tightened the muscles of his stomach so that a good deal of the impact was blunted. In his fantasies, his gut became so unassailable that his tormentor wound up breaking his ankle.
It was a very nice fantasy.
"Get up, Riker," said his captor, and he was kicked again. This time he didn't let out so much as a grunt, and the lack of response on his part seemed to incite his tormentor all the more. "Well?"
And Riker managed to get out, "Please, sir...I want...some more...
The guard stared down at him in utter confusion. "All right...if that's your true desire..." He was about to kick Riker a third time, and then a sharp voice stayed the blow.
"That's enough," it said.
The Cardassian jailer lowered his foot and turned his attention to the individual who had spoken. The Jailer, whose name was Mudak, was a beefy fellow, but anyone thinking him fat would have been in for a rude shock. Any excess on his frame was pure muscle, and when he moved it was with speed that was blinding. Mudak could be standing two feet away, his hands at his side, and you could suddenly be knocked on your back before you had the slightest awareness that a punch was coming.
He was also tall, and his eyes were the most striking thing about him. They were dark and pitiless; one would get more sympathy from a black hole than from those eyes. When Riker looked into those eyes, they reminded him of a shark's. They regarded him, and the other prisoners, with an air that clearly indicated that he didn't care whether they lived or died.
Mudak looked at the individual who had interrupted his sport. It was a Romulan, a head taller than Mudak, with graying hair and a darkly imperious look. In truth, the Romulan had no more status in this place of torment than did Riker. It was as if, in his manner and deportment, he was not interested in acknowledging his relatively low status in the grand scheme of things. From his attitude, it would have been unlikely that any bystander would have realized that Mudak was the jailer and the Romulan the prisoner.
Yet despite the Cardassian's ostensible authority over the Romulan, Mudak did not seem inclined to press the point. Instead he said, with a level voice that bordered on malevolence, "This is none of your affair, Saket."
Saket looked from the fallen Riker to Mudak. "It is now, Mudak. And you will leave this human alone."
"He was moving too slowly," Mudak retorted. "He was daydreaming."
Saket took a step closer so that he was almost in Mudak's face. "Leave him his dreams, Mudak. In the final analysis, what else have we in this place?"
Mudak considered this for a moment, and then he laughed low in his throat. It was an eerie noise, as if he were exercising muscles that were nearly atrophied from disuse. In a low voice he rumbled, "Someday, Saket, you will lose your usefulness to my superiors. And on that final day, you will pay for your arrogance."
"We all pay on the final day, Mudak," Saket said imperturbably. "Jailors and jailed alike; we all pay then."
Mudak's hands idly twisted on the shaft of the shock prod, as if contemplating shoving it down Saket's throat or into an even more inconvenient bodily orifice. But apparently he thought better of it. Instead he lightly tapped the now-deactivated end of the prod against his forehead in a sardonic salute and moved off. Saket then crouched next to the fallen Riker. "You should be able to feel something in your legs by now. He had the prod on one of the lower settings."
"I thought as much," grunted Riker. "This time around it was just agonizing instead of incredibly agonizing."
"You see? Your sense of humor returns already."
Saket stood, got a firm grip under Riker's arms, and hauled him to his feet. For a moment, Riker felt practically nothing beneath him, and Saket had to move him around bodily to try and get some sense of motion going. "One leg after the other," intoned Saket, "that's it, lad."
Under Saket's urging, Riker forced himself to move his legs and started to feel growing strength with every step. "Keep going," urged Saket, helping Riker move in a small circle. Within minutes, Riker was walking about in a manner fairly close to his normal strength and stride. "Come, Riker...let us go for a walk. you and I." And with that, the two of them made their slow way across the compound. "Were you out of your mind just before? Saying you wanted more?"
"It was...it was a quote...from a book, actually...about orphans, Oliver Twist. Author's name was Dickens...I felt it appropriate...since in a way I don't have a mother or father...I'm just sort of...of here..."
"You're babbling, Riker."
"No, I'm fine...truly. Dickens...great author...you should read him...Bleak House...story of my life...Tale of Two Cities...about two men who look alike, and one sacrifices himself for the other...never realized when I was reading him as a boy...how much resonance...he'd have for me..."
"Whatever you say, Riker," Saket said, shaking his head.
"Saket," Riker said, "we haven't known each other long. But we're friends...you can feel free to call me Thomas. Or Tom, if you prefer."
"Actually, I prefer Riker," replied Saket. "Always have. Stronger-sounding name. Sounds more pleasingly harsh to the ear."
"Guess it really doesn't matter," Riker admitted. "As long as you continue to call me 'friend.'"
They trudged past one of the central deutronium-processing centers, and Tom Riker was impressed -- not for the first time -- over the carefully crafted futility that filled the day-to-day existence in the Cardassian labor camp of Lazon II.
Tom Riker, the bizarre and perfect duplicate of William Riker who had been created through a strange transporter accident during a rescue operation at a station on Nervala IV. The fact that there had been a second Riker running around had been disconcerting enough to the original item. But after an abortive career in Starfleet, Tom Riker -- taking his new name from his (their) middle name -- had wound up joining the revolutionary group called the Maquis and endeavored to steal the starship Defiant. The result had been his incarceration on Lazon II.
Lazon II was a fairly desolate world, and the vast majority of it was uninhabitable. One section had been terraformed into someplace where humanoids could survive, and that was the section in which Tom Riker, Saket, and about fifty or sixty-odd enemies of the Cardassian state were currently living out their life sentences. It wasn't that the sentences they had been given were actually called life sentences. There was usually some limit, around twenty or thirty years. Unfortunately, the mortality rate on Lazon II was quite high. Sentencing to Lazon II therefore became a de facto death sentence.
Lazon II had never actually been intended as a work camp. Originally Lazon II had been of par
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