DS9 Novel #11: Devil in the Sky

DS9 #11: Devil in the Sky by Greg Cox

Book Jacket’s Summary:
     “The Hortas of Janus VI are the greatest miners in the galaxy, capable of burning through solid rock the way humanoids move through air. Recruited to help rebuild Bajor’s devastated mining industry, the Hortas could provide new hope for the planet’s struggling economy.
     But when Cardassian raiders abduct the Mother Horta,Commander Sisko finds himself stuck with twenty Horta eggs – and then the eggs begin to hatch…
     While Major Kira leads a desperate rescue mission deep into Cardassian space, Commander Sisko faces a ravaging mass of newborn Hortas – uncontrollable, indestructible, and eager to consume Deep Space 9 itself!“

Yeaka’s Notes:
   As the title suggests, this story plays off the TOS episode “The Devil in the Dark,” and you will get more out of it if you’re familiar with Hortas. It starts as one of DS9’s more fun missions, involving the use of a mother Horta (and twenty eggs) to help Bajoran mining efforts, but halfway through, it takes a darker turn into long-standing Cardassian oppression. Despite only being set around season two before the series got truly heavy with the Dominion War, this might not be for those that just want a light Trek read.
    It is, however, a good read—it encompasses all of the main DS9 cast with everyone in character and interacting interestingly with the others, particularly Jadzia Dax, Bashir, and Kira, who get stuck on a longer-than-expected away mission together. Bashir decides early on that Kira has a crush on him and is flustered about that, whereas Kira is annoyed at Bashir’s antics in general, and Dax enjoys teasing both. Sisko deals with frustrating Bajoran politics, O’Brien tries to hold the station together despite a full-on catastrophe, Odo envies the Hortas’ easy shape, Quark schemes, and, somehow, Jake goes along with kidnapping an infant for Nog to sell into slavery. That one glaring problem really stood out for me—I’d like to think that Jake, even with his Ferengi friendship and the infant being an alien, would never agree to such an obviously unethical act, and it doesn’t feel like that was properly addressed or dealt with. Shame on him.
    Otherwise, the plot unravels well, a tad predictable at times but still adequately full of twists and turns, and there are references to other Trek episodes and books all over the place. There’s definitely some difficulty with Bajoran oppression, stereotypes, and early Human-Bajoran-Cardassian tensions, but things manage alright in the end. For Horta fans, this is definitely a must have. For DS9 fans in general, it works as a decent early episode. Jake fans… no.

Noteworthy moments: (Sorry, I only had a digital copy and therefore have no page numbers.)

  • Ch1 The Federation’s transporting a family of Hortas to a Bajoran mine; Bashir flirts with Dax via Horta talk, Dax lightly indulges him and Kira heavily judges him, he makes a joke against slugs and Dax says some of her best friends are slugs and leaves, Kira thinks to tell Odo the amusing twist; a Horta on a Federation ship finds air unsettling and can’t tell humanoid genders
  • Ch2 Dax mentions that one of her granddaughters lives in Janus VI; Sisko assembles an all-Starfleet personnel to Kira’s protest; refs to Sisko’s Saltah'na clock; Sisko tells Dax he’s worried about Kira escalating conflict
  • Ch3 Kira examines her Starfleet troop, pleased they’re afraid of her tough reputation, her, them, Dax, and Bashir go on an away mission; Bashir thanks McCoy for everything they know medically about Hortas; Kira asks why Dax encourages Bashir, Dax says a part of her finds him attractive
  • Ch4 Jake and Nog try to steal the Horta eggs, Nog’s impressed when Jake talks their way out of getting caught; a baby Horta’s born
  • pCh5 Dax invites Bashir to hover over her shoulder, he’s smitten and thinks Kira’s jealous from her cold behaviour, Bashir belatedly remembers a bunch of security officers are watching his flirting, Dax fixes the tricorder he can’t (this was written before Bashir’s DNA reveal)
  • Ch6 Quark reports crimes to an uninterested Odo; a man runs a Vulcan sex holoprogram; Dax thinks Bashir looks positively charming in his sleep and is like an endearing child; Kira abruptly saves them and Dax asks her for more teamwork
  • Ch8 Keiko teaching, Molly sits in the front row and always raises her hand despite being too young to know the answers; Keiko and Molly deal with a baby Horta; Hortas ravage all but Garak’s shop, who uses only “the finest natural fibers”; Quark stands on Rom’s shoulders to avoid the Horta; Odo takes the shape of a Horta
  • Ch9 Kira and Bashir beam down for a landing party with security; TW: they find Bajoran slaves
  • Ch10 O'Brien remembers Molly’s birth in TNG; leading the Horta babies, Odo thinks them significantly cuter than humanoid babies
  • Ch13 Kira strong-arms Cardassian technicians
  • Ch14 O'Brien heads the Horta-defense; Nog sacrifices a chest of erotic action figures from his childhood
  • Epilogue: Bashir rejects wine from Chateau Picard; Dax teases Bashir over a slug remark; Quark puts Jake and Nog to work fixing all the damage they caused