A Prelude to War

First book in the Intergalactic Alliance Trilogy

A crossover Star Wars - Star Trek fiction by Crayz9000

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DISCLAIMER

Specially trained ASCII characters performed the stunts in this book. Do not attempt to repeat them at home.

According to current NASA data, Voyager is leaving the solar system. It is unknown when it will encounter the Caretaker's array, or if it will be of any use to the Ocampa. In any event, we can only hope that any aliens who come across it know how to play analog phonographs.

Non-original names and characters used without permission. No money is being made off this story, although I can always dream, can't I...

The author reserves some rights to original characters or locations created. All other characters, locations, and situations are the property of Paramount Films or Lucasfilm Limited.

Star Trek © Paramount Films, Inc.

Star Wars © Lucasfilm Limited

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PROLOGUE

The planet was unrecognizable.

In his life, he had visited hundreds of worlds in the known galaxy. Each one of them was unique in its own way, but all shared common themes. In some cases, it was the inhabitants. Humans, for reasons poorly understood by most historians, had risen to become the dominant species of the galaxy at some point during the past fifty thousand years. Therefore, most planets tended to have at least some minority of humans among the population.

Architecture was another common theme. For those planets that had been in contact with the rest of the galaxy, they tended to import architects from several great architectural schools. One of the oldest architectural colleges in the galaxy was located on the capital of the Republic itself, Coruscant.

Coruscant! Many knew it as the glittering gem of the galaxy. The planet's night side was never dark, illuminated with countless trillions of lights from the planet-spanning city. Spire-topped towers rose up kilometers above the plain, industrial-looking blocks of the lower levels. During the day, light reflected off the chromed spires, causing the city-world to shimmer like a giant jewel.

But Coruscant this planet was not. The narrow, rough stone-paved streets of this city were lined with short, quaint two and three story wood-framed buildings. In the distance, a four-cornered skeletal tower curved to a singular point rising high above the rest of the city. Of course, he noted detachedly, the peak of the spire would have barely poked above the lowermost of Coruscant's underlevels.

As he walked down one particularly wide, straight stone-paved boulevard, he heard the distinctive tones of music from string instruments. The melody was quite pretty, almost haunting. It would have been quite romantic, had he been able to share the moment with a loved one.

At the end of the boulevard, a tall, square-framed arch of grand proportions stood. As he approached closer to the building, he began to discern glyphs carved into the stone of the building in an alien script. The building had obviously been erected as some sort of monument, most likely to commemorate a military triumph.

His wanderings eventually brought him to an estate surrounded by wide, expansive gardens. While the gardens at the entrance were filled with neatly manicured shrubs and delicate-looking, incredibly colorful flowers, further inside the gardens vegetables of various types that he'd never seen before were growing.

The air around the mansion was likewise filled with the songs of at least a dozen different species of birds. From that and the angle of the sun, he guessed that it must have been the beginning of the growing season.

While he continued to drink in the surroundings, he observed a humanoid step out of the front entrance of the mansion. Unlike the rest of the city, which seemed to be mostly populated with humans, this humanoid had a tapered head with odd wrinkles, ridges, and multicolored spots. The alien wore an ill-fitting white shirt with double rows of buttons. The observer decided a moment later that the alien's pants were some of the ugliest he had ever seen.

The alien strolled through the flagstone pathways of the gardens with a distinct bounce in his step. Coming to one corner of the garden, he leaned over and ripped a tuber from the ground. As he began walking back, he paused at a thin-leafed plant with brilliant red fruits hanging from it. Then he leaned over again and reached out to flick a bug from one of the leaves. His finger made contact with the caterpillar, which sailed through the air and landed with a resounding thud.

The alien blinked in surprise, looking at his finger as if he'd never seen it before. He shrugged and flicked another bug off of the plant; this one also landed with a crashing noise that shook the ground. The alien pinched himself, flinching as he did so, and turned around.

Then his mouth went wide and a quiet scream escaped his throat. The observer turned to follow his gaze and suddenly realized that the ancient city was now on fire, dozens of columns of smoke rising into the sky.

As he watched, a glowing, golden orb of plasma sailed through the sky. It crashed into one of the mansion's towers, shattering windows, setting the wooden roof alight, and blackening the masonry of the tower itself.

The alien took off at a run for the front gate, obviously intent on saving his own life. The observer followed at a distance, and suddenly the alien ran headlong into another humanoid figure. Unlike the first alien, this one was horribly disfigured, most of its skin removed and the rest of the skin covered in tattoos. At first glance the scarring appeared to have been accidental, but as the observer continued to look, he realized that the scarring was so thorough that it must have been intentional. The end result was that it appeared as a ghastly, skeletal horror held together by nothing but sinews and unholy willpower. It was certainly enough to give children-or adults, for that matter-nightmares.

From somewhere on its form, the horror produced a wicked-looking curved and serrated knife. It brandished the knife and the alien took several steps back in shock before tripping over a planter box. The observer had seen what happened next on more occasions than he cared to count. For that matter, all one had to do was to turn to one of the HoloNet nature channels and watch a documentary on the predators of almost any planet in the galaxy.

The horror and alien circled each other, hunter and prey. It feinted with the knife several times, the alien jerking back reflexively, before finally lunging and slashing across the back of the alien.

"Enjoy the sweet kiss of pain!" the horror said in a guttural, halting language. The observer was somewhat surprised to be able to understand the words. "You will live to serve the..."

The observer suddenly felt the world fading away around him. "Live to serve the who?" he said despite the lack of any listeners. As rapidly as the old city had faded away, the cockpit of a ship gradually revealed itself to him. The odd lights outside the viewports indicated that it was currently in hyperspace, and in the pilot's seat sat a woman with brilliant reddish bronze hair that flowed over her shoulders in gently curling waves.

She looked oddly familiar, he decided, moving forward to take a look at her face. She turned away just as he did so. From what he could see, however, she was resting her chin in the palms of her hands, and her elbows were sitting on the console in front of her. She didn't appear to be doing anything immediate, leading him to conclude that she must be lost deep in thought. Unfortunately it was impossible for him to read minds, so he was left guessing about what she was thinking.

After staying in the same position for what seemed like an eternity, she leaned back in the chair first, then came to her feet and stretched. When she turned to walk out, the observer finally caught a glimpse of her face and would have jumped in surprise, had it been possible for him to do so. She was one of his former students, the daughter of a woman who had once long ago captured him to be her husband.

As she continued walking past the observer, he noted a small smile creep across her face. Mentally shrugging, he followed her down the corridor of the transport and into the darkened crew berths, where she brought the light up to a dim glow and, humming softly to herself, began to remove her tattered jumpsuit.

He quickly turned away. "This is just not right," he muttered to himself. "Just not right at all. What the kriff is this supposed to mean, anyway?"

Behind him, he heard sheets rustle and someone coughed. Then a man asked, "Am I dreaming?"

The observer blinked again in surprise. He knew the man that voice belonged to, and turned around to see if he was right. The woman was now standing with her back turned to him, clad only in her undergarments, and in the lower berth a young, brown-haired man sat up blinking owlishly in the light.

"If you were, you would be disappointed when you awoke," the woman dryly commented. "There will be no such disappointment now."

The observer rolled his eyes. If there was anything he was supposed to learn here, this certainly wasn't it. As the two began kissing, he walked out of the room and back to the cockpit, then took a seat in the co-pilot's chair and stole a glance at the instrument panel.

Just as he did so, the sky of hyperspace suddenly devolved into a dizzying starburst of lights. The ship had been decanted back into realspace, and the observer instantly began looking for the source as alarms began blaring all over the cockpit. The source wasn't terribly hard to find; not one, but several black shapes that dimly glowed with greenish light floated motionless in the distance.

One of the ships projected a green beam at the small transport, and began to pull it in closer. There was a clatter of feet behind him, and the man and woman ran into the cockpit, halfway clothed and quite out of breath.

"Blaster bolts!" the man exclaimed as he began flipping controls in a frenzy. "I thought the wormhole had been sealed?"

"Obviously not," the woman answered. "Or they would not be here."

"I can't break the tractor lock," he said a moment later.

The two looked at each other and then kissed. "We are Jedi," they both said simultaneously. "We've faced greater challenges than this before."

He shivered as his view went black again. He'd never seen any ships like those black cubes, which seemed to radiate malevolence. And what did they mean by their last words? Being pulled in by a fleet of ominous ships, alone, and without support was a tall order to handle, even for a Jedi, and he was left with a general feeling of inevitability when he thought about them.

This time, the blackness remained, and the observer blinked several times to check if it was his eyes or something else. As he looked around, he spotted a point of green light, and a momentary chill passed through him. Was he on one of the black vessels he saw?

Suddenly the light blinked. He recoiled in shock, crashing into something that fell over and shattered. He started to swear, then suddenly realized that he hadn't been able to interact with anything in the apparent vision...

"Room, lights on," he ordered in a hoarse voice.

The room was instantly bathed in the light of several glowpanels embedded in the ceiling, and with a hint of irascibility he realized that he'd knocked a large crystal vase off the table, which is what had shattered.

"Luke?" an incontestably feminine voice beside him asked, a voice that sounded vaguely familiar. "What's going on?"

Groaning, Luke Skywalker came to his feet and looked around. He noticed that he'd somehow fallen off the bed. His wife Mara Jade-Skywalker was currently staring at him with bleary eyes, the bedsheets bulging over her swollen abdomen. Glancing around, he observed that the blinking light was merely that of an emergency monitoring system.

He finally breathed a sigh of relief.

"What are you doing over there?" Mara asked again, her voice containing a hint of a plea.

"I think I fell out of bed," he replied as he lifted the sheet to get back in.

"No, you know what I mean," she replied through her pillow, shivering from the cold air that he'd let in by lifting the sheets. "You were mumbling, tossing and turning, then I heard a thump and a crash."

Luke paused to think. Had he really been tossing and turning?

"I had a vision of a possible future," he finally decided aloud.

Mara propped herself up on one elbow and regarded him with interest. "Really? What was it about?"

He explained about the alien he had seen on the strange planet, and the horribly scarred creatures that had attacked it for no reason.

"Well, that could be anywhere, couldn't it?"

Luke shrugged. "It could, but why would the Force choose to show me a planet if I don't know where it is?"

"Maybe you'll go to that planet in the future."

"I suppose..." He trailed off, looking at the blackness outside his window. "Anyway, after that part of the vision I saw Tenel Ka's ship."

Mara frowned. "The Rock Dragon? That's odd."

"I know. She was traveling through hyperspace, I don't know where, and so she gets up, goes back to the sleeping area. Then she starts kissing Jacen-"

Out of nowhere, a slap landed on his face. "You're such a pervert, farmboy," she said with a laugh. "Spying on your nephew and his girlfriend in a Force vision. What's next, a vision of the locker room?"

"Only if you're the one in the shower," Luke replied with a playful grin, then reached for a glass of water from the table next to the bed.

She tilted her head ever so slightly. "Ooh, so naughty. You're going to have to wait until the baby's born, Master Skywalker, before you get to have me again."

Luke spit up a little bit of the water. "Right. Anyway, I wasn't quite finished. So while they're making out, something yanks the ship from hyperspace and they run to the cockpit. Turns out they're surrounded by large, square black ships, and one of them locks a tractor beam on them. Then they said something about a sealed wormhole, and how they'd faced greater challenges before. I'm really not sure what that meant."

"Well, it sounds like something happens that puts them in danger," Mara replied an instant later. "Although... a wormhole? I can't recall any existing wormholes in the galaxy."

"Maybe someone's going to discover one?" Luke suggested.

"Maybe," Mara agreed. "We'll just have to wait and see, I guess. Can we go back to sleep now, honey?"

"Sure thing, sweetheart," Luke said, turning toward Mara. "Room, lights off."

The last thing he was aware of before going to sleep was Mara wrapping her arms around him.

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Far in the future and far, far away, a certain vessel was quite busy violating (or simply stepping around, depending on one's point of view) laws and theorems that Einstein had created over four hundred years before. Of course, the fact that Einstein had conceived those theorems at a time when space travel was entirely in the realm of science fiction, and the only thing capable of even going near space was the German V-2 rocket (no larger than a school bus), meant that the idea of a three hundred and forty-four meter starship traveling at two hundred times the speed of light was simply inconceivable.

The shape of the ship itself was elongated and streamlined, unlike the rocket-ships conceived by science fiction authors such as the celebrated Jules Verne. Its forward hull was somewhat egg-shaped, although it looked as if it had been cut in half down the center. On the curved upper part of the hull, a small indentation concealed an equally small circular dish. Below it, mounted somewhat further aft, was a far larger dish that rather resembled a capital 'D.' Both dishes glowed brightly with a trace of blue, and they were designed to ensure that the ship would not be turned into a colossal colander by the impacts of hydrogen atoms.

Even so, many parts of the ship's hull were scorched and blackened where thin layers of armor plating had worn away. In some areas, the internal structure of the ship could be seen, with plasma conduits and various pipelines exposed to space. Printed immediately above the auxiliary deflector dish in large lettering was the ship's registry of NCC-74656; further aft one might make out USS VOYAGER through the missing armor and holes in the hull.

Now that one had seen the ship, they might have wondered exactly what government this starship belonged to. Certainly not any one of the major powers in the area; this part of the galaxy was more or less the backwater area, with a large part of space controlled by a race that is better off not being mentioned.

But even if the crew of this strange ship was concerned about the threats surrounding them, they did not show it.

"Captain," Lieutenant Commander Tuvok's voice echoed across the bridge of the Federation Starship Voyager, "I seem to be picking up an object."

Captain Kathryn Janeway didn't reply immediately, being immersed in a book. She finally placed it aside, and looked up at the darkened viewscreen. "On screen."

"It's out of visual range," he reported. "At the limits of our long-range sensors."

"Range?"

"Ten light-years off our present position, inside what would appear to be a fairly typical star system. No other objects have been detected within the system."

Janeway stood up and turned around. "Composition?"

"Primarily metallic, made of an unknown alloy. It is most likely a vessel of some type."

She thought for a moment. "Is there anything else worth knowing about it?"

Tuvok was silent for several seconds while he worked his terminal. "Its course seems to be taking it toward the fourth planet of that system, class unknown."

Captain Janeway nodded, turning toward the viewscreen, deep in concentration. She finally turned back. "Have you hailed it?"

"Yes, Captain, with no response."

"Plot an intercept course with the object," she ordered Lieutenant Paris at the helm, "and increase speed to Warp Eight."

Paris immediately began working. "Course set," he reported. "Increasing warp velocity to factor eight."

Janeway walked back to her chair and sat down, pulling out the book she had been reading-Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea-and tried to find her position in it. Soon she was engrossed in the adventures of the submarine Nautilus...