Captain Jean-Luc Picard held his chin up
and his shoulders straight. Never
one to shrink from
he would face this unknown as he had so many before:
With calm, courage, and control. He
the anomaly until he was almost on top of it; neither had the sensors
indicated anything out of the
Now, unable to alter the course in time to evade the anomaly's
gravitational field, he plunged his
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,
their focus, and he realized he was still in his shuttle.
His mind quickly focused on two concrete
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
meant rest and partying; to Picard it usually meant a chance to study.
And Picard's rising curiosity
only be appeased if he could study how that society had developed in the seven
plus years since the
had visited Deneb IV and its Farpoint Station.
Since that first eventful visit, Picard had longed for
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
for a vacation, and then springing their joint decision on him at Tuesday
night's poker game. After
haggling, they had conceded that the trip back to Deneb IV constituted an
"acceptable" shore leave.
Worf and LaForge had taken an instant liking to the idea, but Riker, Crusher
and Troi had insisted that
was, in Troi's words, too "work oriented."
Apparently oblivious to the notion of asking him, his staff had
to argue about his shore leave destination for fifteen minutes without even
allowing him an
to cast the deciding vote. Finally,
LaForge suggested they contact Guinan and let her, in her
esteemed wisdom, pass verdict on the shore leave plans. Picard had made a
special point to thank
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
he made his way to the shuttle controls.
To his chagrin, they were totally nonfunctional.
The shuttle in
air was fresh: Either someone had
set up a remote feed for life support or the shuttle had been captured
he was now inside, inside what?
As if to answer his question, the shuttle
doors swung open. An attractive young woman entered.
appeared to be human of average height with deep blue eyes.
She wore her long dark hair tied at the
of her neck. Her red collar bore
the rank insignia of Starfleet Lieutenant, but Picard had never seen a
uniform quite like the one she was wearing.
Slowly, Picard realized she was studying him with the
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
Proceed with caution.
She seemed amused.
"Our doctor had to do some repairs on your hip and on your left
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
The woman signed, obviously expecting the
question. "I know you are
afraid. What I'm going to tell
you now is the truth. I realize
that it will be hard to believe, but
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,
thirty years into the future.
Letting her first revelation sink in, the
female continued. "We pulled
your shuttle through a small
A wormhole that has both a spacial and a temporal anomaly.
Had we not locked onto your
and it through the wormhole, excessive pressures would have crushed the hull
before you would
cleared it under the shuttle's power. You
were, as I said, injured, but you should be fine now.
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
ways to send you back to your own time. However,
in the event that you get back and somehow retain
memories of what has happened here, we have decided that we must confine you
to this shuttle. We
as you well know, risk polluting the time line in any way."
She stopped, assessing his reaction.
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?"
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
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,
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
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
Picard began by checking the obvious.
All the tricorders and phasers had been removed, and
the emergency transporter armbands. He
was about to pull the covering panel off the compartment
contained the sensor array, when he heard a knock (a knock?!) at the shuttle's
door. Checking the
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
only a gray bulkhead, possibly that of a shuttlebay.
Suddenly, the significance of another
sunk in. She opened the doors
only after I replied. They can
hear me, even if the sensors can't
me what lies outside.
The woman placed a tray before Picard.
"I hope you like the lunch"
She grinned slyly<<,>> "and I
you appreciate the fact that I gave you time to stop and cover up your escape
efforts before I came
"Touche, Lieutenant." Picard felt
a touch of admiration. Whatever was going on, she was making an
to perserve his dignity. Or was
this all a cruel charade? Was the
shuttle interior under visual
as well as a normal verbal communication link?
Whatever was going on, she was making an effort
preserve his dignity. Or was this
all a cruel charade? Was the
shuttle interior under visual scannning, as
a normal verbal communication link? Hungry,
he considered the silver‑covered dishes before him.
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
astonishment grew as each course was revealed.
Beef Stroganoff. Asparagus
tips with a light
sauce. As a finishing touch, a
cream‑filled croissant for dessert.
All his favorite foods. Pleased
the lieutenant grinned again. "So
she deliberately paused and emphasized the next words, my
was profitable. I wanted to you
to have something pleasant happened to you today."
a cabinet, one Picard had not yet checked, reached in and produced an ice
bucket and a bottle of red
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
the wine. It's mine. It was a
present that was given to my parents on the day I was born.
saving it for a special occasion, and I can't think of anything more special
than Jean‑Luc Picard being
forward in time thirty years."
Picard picked up his fork and began
sampling the stroganoff and then moved to the asparagus.
dishes have been prepared to my exact tastes.
Have these people accessed my brain?
records from my personal replicator on the Enterprise?
Picard was not sure which prospect disturbed
more. With the former, they had
the ability to access his mind, absorbing all his knowledge of Starfleet
and with the latter, they had somehow accessed the Enterprise computer.
Tentatively, he tasted
If it had been replicated, it was a far
better approximation than any snythahol he had ever known.
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
and I can certainly understand why. But
please eat. You won't help
anyone, especially yourself,
you get weak and hungry."
If she wasn't genuinely concerned, Picard
concluded, she was putting up a convincing show.
and nonchalantly, he began probing for answers.
"Why are you, rather than one of your crew mates,
my waiter and confidant?"
"I volunteered" she answered
"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
as I one day will become?"
She snickered "Now, sir, that was very
transparent. I know you are
capable of doing better than
Picard was beginning, in spite of his
situation, to enjoy the repartee. "Well,
then, if you can't tell me
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
officers. We grew up flying from
here to there and back Picard
shook his head, saying, "I've often
about the intelligence of Starfleet allowing a starship to carry families.
I've often thought about the
conflicts of interest, and whether it was fair to the children, raising them
like that. As I see it, either
family or the Starfleet duty suffers."
Lucy shook her head, an emphatic no.
"We did have real home.
had a lot of love. And my parents
were the finest officers in the Fleet. My
father's undying spirit and my
endless understanding have made myself and my two brothers believe that we are
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
our vacations were on the holodek. We
learned about everything from ice skating to Terrelian laser art via
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,
just needed to spend a little more time together and a little less time on
If there was something I can use in that
answer, it totally escapes me. Try
again. "Are your parents
"They've retired ‑‑‑
sort of. My father is teaching at the academy. He always said old flyboys like
don't make very good ambassadors, and so he's better off being a teacher. You should see them. All
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
"They are both in Starfleet, I guess
it must run in the family" she proudly announced.
Brother #1 is
engineer, and brother #2 just finished at the academy last year.
He's an exobiologist, always studying
and fishes and any creature he comes across."
She paused and found the opportunity to ask Jean
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
But who are they? And use for what?
As if realizing his suspicion, the woman
assured "No, not strategic data, or anything like that.
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
him or against Starfleet. He
described Worf's taste for prune juice, "the drink of a warrior",
at "baby sitting" Spot and the way Data looked in his dealer's visor
that he always insisted on
to Tuesday night's poker games. He
talked of how Riker conned him into his first and only vacation
Risa, and how Riker slyly maneuvered Picard to end up with a souvenir
hor'ghan. He explained the
overattentive and undressed staff. Picard
told her about Troi's conspiracy in the matter, threatening
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
Finally, she put her hands on her knees and
sighed "I could listen to you forever, but I have to get
to duty. I will bring you dinner
and hopefully some news on getting you home by 18:00."
She pulled a
device out of her pocket and set it in front of him.
"Here's a portable chronometer, so you can keep
of time. Don't think about
ripping it apart. They haven't
changed since you last saw one." With
turned for the door.
Reason is preeminent over a hopeless
physical fight, Picard thought, and the shuttle door is surely
on the outside. But if I can get
out for just a few seconds, I may be able to see something that will
me to determine if this is a Federation ship or not. It's risky, but I am left
without any other alternatives
to wait. If they are Cardassian
or Dominion or Romulan, they will probably kill me eventually anyway.
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
the shuttle's ramp. Picard caught
a flash of what he ascertained as two gold‑uniformed security men
in on him. Suddenly, he was
up‑ended, not by the approaching guards, but by the woman tangled
at the bottom of the ramp. Picard
and the woman fell in a jumble of limbs and an instant later one
officer had him steered back up the ramp while the other leaned over his
"hostess." Over his
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
all she wanted now was to be alone. Her
three years on the USS Sarak had been profitable and she
seen more than she had expected of foreign worlds and people.
But this problem was one she had
faced before. The question of
altering history was a daunting prospect.
When she had volunteered to
the person who would keep Picard company, and her captain agreed she had not
fully rrealized the
responsibility that would be placed on her shoulders.
She knew Picard should not be allowed to
with any more people than absolutely necessary and she was the logic choice.
More than anyone
on board, she could keep him from hurting himself or the shuttle and if anyone
could reason with him,
could. However confident her
captain was, she had to admit she felt a uncomfortable by Picard's dismay
mistrust. Silently, she studied
the picture of her parents that sat on her bedside table.
The image had
taken on the day their youngest child graduated from Starfleet academy. Somehow, they had always
to challenge their offspring to excellence and at the same time give the three
of them unconditional
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
quarters were always located on the outside of the ship, and almost every room
had windows. But
as a junior officer, a room with a view is still a few years away.
Lucy sighed, I guess I can rescue an
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.
what could happen in a rescue operation especially if the transporter
Slowly, she rolled over on her stomach,
holding the picture upright on her pillow.
It would take
hours for a message to travel to San Francisco, so consulting her parents was
hardly an option. She
almost hear her father's wisdom, do not interfere with the time line, he would
chuckle, unless you know
are right in doing so. But what
was "right" here? Still,
if they did not return Jean‑Luc Picard to his own
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
would have to wait.
The knock on the shuttle's door shot Picard
wide awake. He must have dozed
off. A mistake he
not repeat. He had spent most of
the afternoon trying to locate and assemble anything in the shuttle
could be used to blow it, and himself to bits, if he saw the need.
Although he was concerned about his
and/or the shuttle's computer banks falling into enemy hands, he had not yet
seen a tangible
of that. No one had entered the
shuttle or mistreated him and none of the shuttle's systems had been
for downloading. They COULD be
telling the truth, Picard assessed. And
then you'd be killing
for no reason at all. Sit tight
and wait for more information. He
shoved his "handiwork" into a
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,
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
"gentlemen" could have resorted to stunning you and that would have
done wonders for your lovely little
heart. You're lucky I got to you
"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
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
an assortment of seafood, including what appeared to be terran scallops and
giant Vulcan mollusk,
assortment of vegetables complete with some strange sort of rolled leaves, and
lastly, a large dish of
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
in her conversation. Unfortunately,
he also found nothing he could use to determine if her
were the truth. After they were
both contentedly full (Picard noticed that she ate twice as much as he
and he had forced himself to eat adequately), she surprised him by producing a
deck of cards.
"Two handed whist, Gramps?" she
At the word "gramps" Picard's
eyebrows shot up but then he went deadly serious.
"If you are telling
truth, I want to know what progress has been made to send me back to my own
drew in a deep breath, clearing contemplating how to answer the question.
believe that they can send you back through he wormhole.
They will outfit your shuttle with a device
will indicate the wormhole's presence in time for you to divert the shuttle
away from it. The device is
not known to your time period. It
is being modified by one of our best engineers as we speak.
be fitted with a localized methylene chloride injector.
It will melt into a undistinguishable mass within
of sensing the wormhole. We plan
to launch you and this shuttle directly at the wormhole at
which should allow it to clear the anomaly before external pressures become
critical. When you
the other side, we are hoping that you will arrive at a time prior to your
original sighting of the
So, if this all works out correctly, you will not be aware of the
device until it alerts you to the
and then self destructs. For you,
it will be as if your excursion into the future never occurred.
some reason, you retain your memories of this time, then we can only hope than
your discretion and our
not to reveal the future have been adequate.
We will have to trust you on this.
If you attempt to
with the detection device prior to or during your time in the wormhole, it may
fail to operate and you
end up right back here again. Or
you could end up in a totally different time period.
There is still so
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
"It should take about two more
For those next two hours, Picard quietly
watched his companion as they played whist, neither of
really trying to win and neither really keeping score. The gravity of what was
about to unfold was heavy
both of them. They spoke no more
of the risks or of the consequences. It
was as if both understood and
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
for the door. Picard thought he
saw tears in her eyes. He studied
her closely and for a brief instant
recognized something in her look. He
had seen it before. Suddenly, he
thought he recognized, in her
the faces of two others. A swirl
of words flushed through his mind, somehow coalescing and making
"My father's spirit, my mother's
Blushing at her mother's illness...
"I know you are concerned."
His favorite foods. Her favorite
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,
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,
stood and came to full attention before this remarkable officer, a woman of
tomorrow, a woman he
in a small way, help shape and create. "Lt.
Lucy, you are a credit to your uniform, and, perhaps more
to your family." Picard felt
his throat tighten with his own tears. "If
I ventured that I knew your
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
indicated a wormhole directly ahead. For
an awful moment, he thought he would be sucked into
maw of unknown death, but he apparently he had sufficient warning.
He managed to pull his craft clear
the wormhole's gravitational field before it overwhelmed the shuttle's impulse
engines. Only seconds after
realized he was safe, one of the starboard panels began to smoke.
Investigating, he found nothing but
unidentifiable mass of alloy.
Settling into his bridge chair, Picard
thought again about the device pulled from his shuttle.
nor Geordi could make any sense of it. Both
agreed that it was too badly decomposed for anything but
elemental analysis, which, of course, revealed its composition as standard
Starfleet materials, but said
about the device's purpose or origins. Perhaps
I should put Dixon Hill on the case, Picard mused.
unexpectedly, an eerie feeling swept over him and he glanced to his right and to
his left, to Riker's
and Troi's query, but the sensation was ephemeral, and passed as quickly as it
story has to be for Dawn, Trudy and Wendy, three "intelligent, sedate,
cultured, and sophisticated"
fans who have always patiently put up with my endless stream of Riker stories.