"Things Fall Apart" by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore: I started reading my Omnibus print edition of Mere Anarchy. Unlike my review of my Day of Honor omnibus, where I reviewed each novel of the series separately (mostly because they were full size novels in that case), this time I decided to include all the stories in one thread. Since they are short stories that are part of a greater whole. So I just finished "Things Fall Apart". This is the set-up story and it takes place sometime between Kirk taking command of the Enterprise and "Where No Man Has Gone Before". The planet that is at the center of the entire series is Mestiko. In this story it depicts a disaster that befalls the planet due to a passing pulsar (referred to as 'the pulse' by the natives). The Federation has a team of observing scientists on the planet since they are on the threshold of potentially holding first contact with the planet. Some on the planet are aware. The government knows about the coming cataclysm but in an effort to prevent panic has hidden this information from the people. There are a few people that know of the Federation presence and ask if there is anything they can do to help. Word does eventually get out to the population leading to the predictable looting and property destruction as people panic. We learn the Enterprise has been sent to try to help avert the disaster and they have a plan. However not all goes as planned. While the planet is not completely destroyed, it does result in a cataclysm that has left the planet a virtual disaster area on a planetary scale. The story ends as the Federation is sending aid ships but we are left with the impression that it will take decades for any sort of recovery to take place (which is the overriding plot of the series I gather). So far I liked the first story. There is a bit of a debate on the Prime Directive and how much Starfleet should interfere, however, at the end of the day they go all in on helping. Though they do continue to try to keep their presence hidden from the general population so as to not add to the panic or stress the inhabitants any more than they already are. There is a mention that some in the Federation want to incorrectly use the PD as an excuse to do nothing--but Kirk and co. quickly dismiss that option. Captain Kirk is still in his early stages of his command of the Enterprise and still getting a feel for his new crew. Sulu gets some early experience at the help when Lt. Kelso is injured. And there is a good scene with Dr. Piper as he admonishes Kirk for putting too much blame on his shoulders. He reminds Kirk that the only alternative was to do nothing which would have led to the extinction of all life on Mestiko. Things didn't go as planned, but because of what they did the planet has a fighting chance. Piper basically fills in the role that McCoy would have. And it does help Kirk to remember that wallowing in pity helps no one.