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Plot Details/Summary

I recall very little of this particular Trek novel. I'm not even sure what the main story arc was. The part I remember is that Riker is sent aboard a Cardassian vessel for some sort of meeting or diplomatic exchange. While there, he gets a glass of water from the dispenser in his cabin. I recall a line about the water tasting bad or metallic - something like that.

Riker becomes ill later in the story, and as per Trek tropes, nobody can figure out what it is or what is causing it. It's eventually discovered that the ship's water supply had some naturally occurring (I think) substance in it that doesn't bother Cardassians, but human physiology reacts badly to it.

I don't recall how Riker is cured or anything else about the novel. I think his illness was a subplot rather than the main focus of the story. But again, cannot be sure.

Publication Details/Timeframe

Best guess is the novel was published sometime in the 1990s. That was when I was really into reading Trek novels. It could be very early 2000s, but I'm doubtful of that. It was definitely one of the mass-produced paperback novels, not a fanfic or other medium.

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This appears to be The Badlands, Part II by Susan Wright, published in 1999. (Slightly confusingly, it's the second half of the book The Badlands: Book One.)

The Memory Beta synopsis describes this subplot:

Aboard the shuttle Hawking, Riker and Data discover entire solar systems within the storms. However, they get lost within the shifting plasma fields and are disabled by an energy burst upon exiting the fields. Their shuttle is recovered by a Cardassian warship [...] and Riker is denied medical treatment when he begins to suffer from an unknown illness.

[...] Dr Crusher comes to believe that Riker has contracted Myers Syndrome, a disease that rarely affects humans exposed to Cardassians and that prevents them from space travel, which exacerbates the symptoms.

From the text:

"Riker says he drank some water while he was on the Cardassian warship. Data reports giving him additional water while the symptoms grew worse."

"They don't cleanse their supplies?" Picard asked in surprise.

"Well, Cardassians who get into space have already been exposed and are immune to the disease. [...] Apparently, they can carry the microorganism in their bloodstream without knowing it. Most Cardassians find out when they go into space, since it's triggered by pressure or gravity changes."

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