Timeless Friends




STARDATE 48275.5


     Captain Jean-Luc Picard held his chin up and his shoulders straight.  Never one to shrink from

danger, he would face this unknown as he had so many before:  With calm, courage, and control.  He hadn't

seen the anomaly until he was almost on top of it; neither had the sensors indicated anything out of the

ordinary.  Now, unable to alter the course in time to evade the anomaly's gravitational field, he plunged his

shuttle through a kaleidoscope of lights and pressure changes.


     Fifteen seconds after he had first noticed anything unusual, everything went black.




     Picard's head was pounding and a dull pain began throbbing in his left hip.  Slowly, his eyes

regained their focus, and he realized he was still in his shuttle.  His mind quickly focused on two concrete

sensations; sight and pain!  To his foggy mind, this meant he must still be alive.


     He had been returning from a "working" shore leave on Deneb IV.  To most Starfleet officers, "shore

leave" meant rest and partying; to Picard it usually meant a chance to study.  And Picard's rising curiosity

would only be appeased if he could study how that society had developed in the seven plus years since the

Enterprise had visited Deneb IV and its Farpoint Station.  Since that first eventful visit, Picard had longed for

an opportunity to explore the Bandi's nineteenth century ruins, and now, at last, his opportunity had come.


     As usual, his senior staff had pushed him into this shore leave, conspiring together to determine his

need for a vacation, and then springing their joint decision on him at Tuesday night's poker game.  After

much haggling, they had conceded that the trip back to Deneb IV constituted an "acceptable" shore leave.

Data, Worf and LaForge had taken an instant liking to the idea, but Riker, Crusher and Troi had insisted that

it was, in Troi's words, too "work oriented."  Apparently oblivious to the notion of asking him, his staff had

continued to argue about his shore leave destination for fifteen minutes without even allowing him an

opening to cast the deciding vote.  Finally, LaForge suggested they contact Guinan and let her, in her

mutually esteemed wisdom, pass verdict on the shore leave plans. Picard had made a special point to thank

Guinan later. The last thing he wanted was Riker packing him off to Risa again.


     Struggling to rise on his sore hip, Picard made glanced down at his uniform.  No communicator.

Next, he made his way to the shuttle controls.  To his chagrin, they were totally nonfunctional.  The shuttle in

the air was fresh:  Either someone had set up a remote feed for life support or the shuttle had been captured

and he was now inside, inside what?


     As if to answer his question, the shuttle doors swung open. An attractive young woman entered.

She appeared to be human of average height with deep blue eyes.  She wore her long dark hair tied at the

nape of her neck.  Her red collar bore the rank insignia of Starfleet Lieutenant, but Picard had never seen a

Starfleet uniform quite like the one she was wearing.  Slowly, Picard realized she was studying him with the

same intensity that he was scrutinizing her.  With slow, deliberate movements she settled herself into the co‑pilot's seat and then motioned him to the other chair.


     "How is your hip?" she began.


     "A bit tender, but functional, I assure you."  Picard glanced down at his own body, sore and sans

communicator.  Proceed with caution.

     She seemed amused.  "Our doctor had to do some repairs on your hip and on your left shoulder.

He concluded that you must have hit the shuttle's bulkhead VERY hard."


     Enough small talk, Picard reasoned.  Time to start finding answers.  "Where am I, and why have you

removed my communicator?"


     The woman signed, obviously expecting the question.  "I know you are concerned and

understandably afraid.  What I'm going to tell you now is the truth.  I realize that it will be hard to believe, but

you must trust me.  According to earth's calendar, the current year is 2401."


     The year is 2401 Picard felt a deepening chill.  If she is telling me the truth, I have been, somehow,

transported thirty years into the future.


     Letting her first revelation sink in, the female continued.  "We pulled your shuttle through a small

wormhole. A wormhole that has both a spacial and a temporal anomaly.  Had we not locked onto your

shuttle and it through the wormhole, excessive pressures would have crushed the hull before you would

have cleared it under the shuttle's power.  You were, as I said, injured, but you should be fine now.  You

were treated in our sickbay, and then we brought you back here.  According to our records, Captain Jean‑Luc Picard did not mysteriously disappear in 2371, never to be heard from again.  Therefore, we are working

on ways to send you back to your own time.  However, in the event that you get back and somehow retain

your memories of what has happened here, we have decided that we must confine you to this shuttle.  We

cannot, as you well know, risk polluting the time line in any way."  She stopped, assessing his reaction.  She

shook her head.  A sad smile spread across her face "And you don't believe a word I've said."


     "I must admit, I am having some difficulty." Picard replied dryly.  "What evidence can you give me?"

Picard continued with a touch of sarcasm, "Evidence that will not, of course "pollute" the time line."


     She looked him straight in the eye and returned "Absolutely none, except for my word."  He watched

her shoulders relax.  "Think the situation through.  Do you have any evidence that I am not telling the truth?"


     "It is unlikely," Picard countered, "that I will be able to collect any evidence of any kind, while I

remain prisoner in a deactivated shuttle."


     Taking a deep breath, she rose and headed for the door.  "I'll get you some lunch, sir.  The shuttle's

replicator is doesn't work any more than the rest of the equipment."  With that, she was gone.


     Picard exhaled a long sigh.  Think. Focus.  Where to start?




     Picard began by checking the obvious.  All the tricorders and phasers had been removed, and

likewise the emergency transporter armbands.  He was about to pull the covering panel off the compartment

that contained the sensor array, when he heard a knock (a knock?!) at the shuttle's door.  Checking the

integrity of the covering panel, he answered "Come."


     The doors opened and the same young woman entered, but the brief glimpse he got of the outside

displayed only a gray bulkhead, possibly that of a shuttlebay.  Suddenly, the significance of another

observation sunk in.  She opened the doors only after I replied.  They can hear me, even if the sensors can't

tell me what lies outside.


     The woman placed a tray before Picard.  "I hope you like the lunch"  She grinned slyly<<,>> "and I

hope you appreciate the fact that I gave you time to stop and cover up your escape efforts before I came

barging in."


     "Touche, Lieutenant." Picard felt a touch of admiration. Whatever was going on, she was making an

effort to perserve his dignity.  Or was this all a cruel charade?  Was the shuttle interior under visual

scanning, as well as a normal verbal communication link?  Whatever was going on, she was making an effort

to preserve his dignity.  Or was this all a cruel charade?  Was the shuttle interior under visual scannning, as

was a normal verbal communication link?  Hungry, he considered the silver‑covered dishes before him.  Dare

he eat it?  Well, they are going to a great deal of trouble if they all they plan to do is poison me.


     "I brought you something I hope you will like."  With a flourish, she removed each silvery cover and

Picard's astonishment grew as each course was revealed.  Beef Stroganoff.  Asparagus tips with a light

butter sauce.  As a finishing touch, a cream‑filled croissant for dessert.  All his favorite foods.  Pleased at his

surprise, the lieutenant grinned again.  "So she deliberately paused and emphasized the next words, my

research was profitable.  I wanted to you to have something pleasant happened to you today."  She turned

to a cabinet, one Picard had not yet checked, reached in and produced an ice bucket and a bottle of red

wine.  Picard careful noted that the label had been torn off the bottle.  He watched her slowly pour two



     "Oh, don't worry.  I have permission from the captain to drink real alcohol while on duty.  I hope you

appreciate the wine.  It's mine. It was a present that was given to my parents on the day I was born.  I've

been saving it for a special occasion, and I can't think of anything more special than Jean‑Luc Picard being

transported forward in time thirty years."


     Picard picked up his fork and began sampling the stroganoff and then moved to the asparagus.  All

these dishes have been prepared to my exact tastes.  Have these people accessed my brain?  Or perhaps

the records from my personal replicator on the Enterprise?  Picard was not sure which prospect disturbed

him more.  With the former, they had the ability to access his mind, absorbing all his knowledge of Starfleet

operations and with the latter, they had somehow accessed the Enterprise computer.  Tentatively, he tasted

the wine.


     If it had been replicated, it was a far better approximation than any snythahol he had ever known.  It

tasted real.  Picard sensed a deepening chill.  This tastes like a vintage my brother might grow.


     The young Starfleet officer was secretly amused at Picard's reaction to the wine.  "I know you are

suspicious, and I can certainly understand why.  But please eat.  You won't help anyone, especially yourself,

if you get weak and hungry." 


     If she wasn't genuinely concerned, Picard concluded, she was putting up a convincing show.

Slowly and nonchalantly, he began probing for answers.  "Why are you, rather than one of your crew mates,

playing my waiter and confidant?"


     "I volunteered" she answered simply.




     "Because I could not pass up the opportunity to meet you as you are today."


     Doubting that she would bite, Picard tried anyway.  "Does that mean, lieutenant, that you will know

me as I one day will become?"


     She snickered "Now, sir, that was very transparent.  I know you are capable of doing better than

that.  MUCH better."


     Picard was beginning, in spite of his situation, to enjoy the repartee.  "Well, then, if you can't tell me

about me, what can you tell me about yourself?"

     She seemed eager.  "I was raised on a starship with my two brothers.  Both of my parents were

Starfleet officers.  We grew up flying from here to there and back  Picard shook his head, saying, "I've often

wondered about the intelligence of Starfleet allowing a starship to carry families.  I've often thought about the

sacrifices, conflicts of interest, and whether it was fair to the children, raising them like that.  As I see it, either

the family or the Starfleet duty suffers."  Lucy shook her head, an emphatic no.  "We did have real home.

We had a lot of love.  And my parents were the finest officers in the Fleet.  My father's undying spirit and my

mother's endless understanding have made myself and my two brothers believe that we are the luckiest

siblings in the Federation."


     Picard rolled his eyes a bit.  "Three children on a starship.  That must have been quite a challenge."


     "I suspect it was.  Except for a three month stretch for my mother's health when I was sixteen, most

of our vacations were on the holodek.  We learned about everything from ice skating to Terrelian laser art via

holodek programs."


     Searching for some crack to exploit, Picard chose his next tact.  "Did your mother recover, after her



     Unexpectedly, the young woman actually blushed.  "Oh, no, it was nothing like that.  She was fine,

they just needed to spend a little more time together and a little less time on Starfleet."



     If there was something I can use in that answer, it totally escapes me.  Try again.  "Are your parents

still in Starfleet?"


     "They've retired ‑‑‑ sort of.  My father is teaching at the academy.  He always said old flyboys like

him don't make very good ambassadors, and so he's better off being a teacher.  You should see them.  All

the cadets practically climb over each other to get into his classes."


     "And your mother?"


     "She's at the academy, too, working with the students." 


     "And what are your brothers doing?"


     "They are both in Starfleet, I guess it must run in the family" she proudly announced.  Brother #1 is

an engineer, and brother #2 just finished at the academy last year.  He's an exobiologist, always studying

plants and fishes and any creature he comes across."  She paused and found the opportunity to ask Jean

Luc Picard what she wanted to know, "Tell me about your crew, your staff.  What they are like?"


     So, this is it, Picard surmised. She's looking for information, something they can use for their own

ends.  But who are they?  And use for what?


     As if realizing his suspicion, the woman assured "No, not strategic data, or anything like that.  I

mean tell me about them personally.  What they're like as friends?"


     Seeing the wisdom in continuing her in conversation, Picard began to explain a number of little, non‑classified details about his crew, carefully wording each sentence to avoid any facts that could be used

against him or against Starfleet.  He described Worf's taste for prune juice, "the drink of a warrior", Geordi's

frustrations at "baby sitting" Spot and the way Data looked in his dealer's visor that he always insisted on

wearing to Tuesday night's poker games.  He talked of how Riker conned him into his first and only vacation

on Risa, and how Riker slyly maneuvered Picard to end up with a souvenir hor'ghan.  He explained the

resort's overattentive and undressed staff.  Picard told her about Troi's conspiracy in the matter, threatening

to sic her mother, Ambassador Luwaxana Troi, on him if he didn't get off the ship and relax.  And he gave the mysterious young Lieutenant a few stories about his CMO.  How much they enjoyed breakfast together and how she would occasionally do batlith practice with Worf.  All the while, the woman listened intently to him interrupting him only to snicker. 


     Finally, she put her hands on her knees and sighed "I could listen to you forever, but I have to get

back to duty.  I will bring you dinner and hopefully some news on getting you home by 18:00."  She pulled a

small device out of her pocket and set it in front of him.  "Here's a portable chronometer, so you can keep

track of time.  Don't think about ripping it apart.  They haven't changed since you last saw one."  With that,

she turned for the door.


     Reason is preeminent over a hopeless physical fight, Picard thought, and the shuttle door is surely

guarded on the outside.  But if I can get out for just a few seconds, I may be able to see something that will

allow me to determine if this is a Federation ship or not. It's risky, but I am left without any other alternatives

but to wait.  If they are Cardassian or Dominion or Romulan, they will probably kill me eventually anyway.  A

quick phaser shot is by no means the worst death to contemplate.


     Picard jumped up and shoved her hard from behind, sending the lieutenant tumbling legs over head

down the shuttle's ramp.  Picard caught a flash of what he ascertained as two gold‑uniformed security men

charging in on him.  Suddenly, he was up‑ended, not by the approaching guards, but by the woman tangled

up at the bottom of the ramp.  Picard and the woman fell in a jumble of limbs and an instant later one

security officer had him steered back up the ramp while the other leaned over his "hostess."  Over his

shoulder, he heard the guard say, "You okay, Lucy?." 


     If she gave a reply, it was after the shuttle's doors had slammed shut behind him.




     Lucy rotated her stiff shoulder all the way from sickbay back to her quarters.  Bumps and bruises

treated, all she wanted now was to be alone.  Her three years on the USS Sarak had been profitable and she

had seen more than she had expected of foreign worlds and people.  But this problem was one she had

never faced before.  The question of altering history was a daunting prospect.  When she had volunteered to

be the person who would keep Picard company, and her captain agreed she had not fully rrealized the

enormous responsibility that would be placed on her shoulders.  She knew Picard should not be allowed to

interact with any more people than absolutely necessary and she was the logic choice.  More than anyone

else on board, she could keep him from hurting himself or the shuttle and if anyone could reason with him,

she could.  However confident her captain was, she had to admit she felt a uncomfortable by Picard's dismay

and mistrust.  Silently, she studied the picture of her parents that sat on her bedside table.  The image had

been taken on the day their youngest child graduated from Starfleet academy.  Somehow, they had always

managed to challenge their offspring to excellence and at the same time give the three of them unconditional

love.  Clutching the picture to her chest, she dropped onto her bed and stared at the ceiling.


     I would prefer to staring out a window, Lucy sighed to herself.  When Lucy was growing up, her

parents quarters were always located on the outside of the ship, and almost every room had windows.  But

now, as a junior officer, a room with a view is still a few years away.  Lucy sighed, I guess I can rescue an

entire planet worth of colonists or something and then get my windows.


     On second thought, maybe that would cost a bit more than I care to pay for a window.  One never

knows what could happen in a rescue operation especially if the transporter malfunctions.


     Slowly, she rolled over on her stomach, holding the picture upright on her pillow.  It would take

twelve hours for a message to travel to San Francisco, so consulting her parents was hardly an option.  She

could almost hear her father's wisdom, do not interfere with the time line, he would chuckle, unless you know

you are right in doing so.  But what was "right" here?  Still, if they did not return Jean‑Luc Picard to his own

time, how would history be changed?  Suddenly, she shuddered.  If he doesn't get back, will there even be a



     Lucy stood and squared her shoulders.  She had to get back to Picard.  Philosophy, just like a

window, would have to wait.




     The knock on the shuttle's door shot Picard wide awake.  He must have dozed off.  A mistake he

would not repeat.  He had spent most of the afternoon trying to locate and assemble anything in the shuttle

that could be used to blow it, and himself to bits, if he saw the need.  Although he was concerned about his

knowledge and/or the shuttle's computer banks falling into enemy hands, he had not yet seen a tangible

threat of that.  No one had entered the shuttle or mistreated him and none of the shuttle's systems had been

activated for downloading.  They COULD be telling the truth, Picard assessed.  And then you'd be killing

yourself for no reason at all.  Sit tight and wait for more information.  He shoved his "handiwork" into a

storage cabinet.  They'd find it easily if they looked, but he had no alternative.




     The same young woman entered, balancing, once again, a large food tray.  "That wasn't very smart,

you know." she said flatly and abruptly dropped the food tray before him.


     "Are you referring to my ill‑fated escape attempt, Lt. Lucy?"


     If she was upset by the mention of her first name, she didn't let it show.  "It was pointless.  One of

the "gentlemen" could have resorted to stunning you and that would have done wonders for your lovely little

artificial heart.  You're lucky I got to you first."


     "Oh, I see.  You were doing me a favor by tripping and flooring me?"


     "Yes, I was."  Her face softened, "Fortunately, my uncle started teaching me self‑defense before I

was five.  But please, spare us both a lot of trouble by NOT trying a stunt like that again."


     Picard started a different tact.  "What's for dinner, more stroganoff?"


     "No, for our evening meal, we shall dine on some of my favorite dishes."  She lifted the coverings to

display an assortment of seafood, including what appeared to be terran scallops and giant Vulcan mollusk,

an assortment of vegetables complete with some strange sort of rolled leaves, and lastly, a large dish of

chocolate mousse, decked with chocolate whipped cream.  "Now, eat up or I may finish all of it."


     So, Picard began his dinner, making small talk with his "waitress" and, once again, finding nothing

threatening in her conversation.  Unfortunately, he also found nothing he could use to determine if her

claims were the truth.  After they were both contentedly full (Picard noticed that she ate twice as much as he

did, and he had forced himself to eat adequately), she surprised him by producing a deck of cards.


     "Two handed whist, Gramps?" she suggested merrily.


     At the word "gramps" Picard's eyebrows shot up but then he went deadly serious.  "If you are telling

the truth, I want to know what progress has been made to send me back to my own time."


     She drew in a deep breath, clearing contemplating how to answer the question.  "Our engineering

teams believe that they can send you back through he wormhole.  They will outfit your shuttle with a device

that will indicate the wormhole's presence in time for you to divert the shuttle away from it.  The device is

something not known to your time period.  It is being modified by one of our best engineers as we speak.  It

will be fitted with a localized methylene chloride injector.  It will melt into a undistinguishable mass within

seconds of sensing the wormhole.  We plan to launch you and this shuttle directly at the wormhole at

speeds which should allow it to clear the anomaly before external pressures become critical.  When you

reach the other side, we are hoping that you will arrive at a time prior to your original sighting of the

wormhole.  So, if this all works out correctly, you will not be aware of the device until it alerts you to the

wormhole and then self destructs.  For you, it will be as if your excursion into the future never occurred.  If,

for some reason, you retain your memories of this time, then we can only hope than your discretion and our

efforts not to reveal the future have been adequate.  We will have to trust you on this.  If you attempt to

tamper with the detection device prior to or during your time in the wormhole, it may fail to operate and you

could end up right back here again.  Or you could end up in a totally different time period.  There is still so

much we do not know about temporal displacements."


     Picard felt he had no choice but to do as she explained.  "When do you think it will be ready?" he

asked gravely. 


     "It should take about two more hours."




     For those next two hours, Picard quietly watched his companion as they played whist, neither of

them really trying to win and neither really keeping score. The gravity of what was about to unfold was heavy

on both of them.  They spoke no more of the risks or of the consequences.  It was as if both understood and

no more discussion was necessary.  At last, her communicator chirped.


     "Lieutenant, please report to the bridge."  She looked at Picard one last time, smiled bravely and

turned for the door.  Picard thought he saw tears in her eyes.  He studied her closely and for a brief instant

he recognized something in her look.  He had seen it before.  Suddenly, he thought he recognized, in her

face, the faces of two others.  A swirl of words flushed through his mind, somehow coalescing and making

sense ‑‑‑


     "My father's spirit, my mother's understanding...."

     "Old flyboy..."

     Blushing at her mother's illness...

     "I know you are concerned."

      His favorite foods. Her favorite foods.

     An Uncle teaching her self‑defense.



      The taste of the bottle of wine. The mysterious missing label. Given to her parents on the day she, Lucy,

was born. Given, he realized, by me.


     "Lt Lucy," he began as she turned to face him.  With one more look into those deep blue eyes,

Picard stood and came to full attention before this remarkable officer, a woman of tomorrow, a woman he

would, in a small way, help shape and create.  "Lt. Lucy, you are a credit to your uniform, and, perhaps more

importantly, to your family."  Picard felt his throat tighten with his own tears.  "If I ventured that I knew your

full name, would you tell me if I was correct?"


     She grinned again, and reply was both cocky and sympathetic:  "No, sir, I would not."  And she was




     Captain Jean‑Luc Picard was returning from a "working" shore leave on Deneb IV when the shuttle's

sensors indicated a wormhole directly ahead.  For an awful moment, he thought he would be sucked into

that maw of unknown death, but he apparently he had sufficient warning.  He managed to pull his craft clear

of the wormhole's gravitational field before it overwhelmed the shuttle's impulse engines.  Only seconds after

he realized he was safe, one of the starboard panels began to smoke.  Investigating, he found nothing but

an unidentifiable mass of alloy.




     Settling into his bridge chair, Picard thought again about the device pulled from his shuttle.  Neither

Data nor Geordi could make any sense of it.  Both agreed that it was too badly decomposed for anything but

an elemental analysis, which, of course, revealed its composition as standard Starfleet materials, but said

nothing about the device's purpose or origins.  Perhaps I should put Dixon Hill on the case, Picard mused.

Then unexpectedly, an eerie feeling swept over him and he glanced to his right and to his left, to Riker's

smile and Troi's query, but the sensation was ephemeral, and passed as quickly as it had come.








This story has to be for Dawn, Trudy and Wendy, three "intelligent, sedate, cultured, and sophisticated"

Picard fans who have always patiently put up with my endless stream of Riker stories.