All Good Things... (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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9780671521486: All Good Things... (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
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Seven years ago, Captain Jean-Luc Picard first faced the judgment of the Q Continuum -- a race of beings with God-like powers over time and space who presumed to gauge humanity's fitness to exist in the galaxy. Seven years ago they suspended judgment, but now a decision has been reached: The human race will be eliminated, not only in the present, but throughout time. Humanity will never have existed at all.

The only chance to save mankind lies with Captain Picard. An old enemy has granted him the power to revisit his life as it was seven years before, and to experience his life twenty-five years in the future. With the help of friendships that span time and space, Picard struggles to defeat the plans of the Q Continuum. But even as he fights to save the human race from total extinction, he has been set up to be the unwitting agent of mankind's destruction.

In an effort to save humanity, Picard must sacrifice himself and all those he commands and if their sacrifice fails all mankind is doomed.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Michael Jan Friedman is the author of nearly sixty books of fiction and nonfiction, more than half of which bear the name Star Trek or some variation thereof. Ten of his titles have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. He has also written for network and cable television, radio, and comic books, the Star Trek: Voyager® episode "Resistance" prominent among his credits. On those rare occasions when he visits the real world, Friedman lives on Long Island with his wife and two sons.

He continues to advise readers that no matter how many Friedmans they know, the vast probability is that none of them are related to him.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Picard stared into the wispy vapors coming up from his tea. So far, he hadn't touched the stuff -- and not because it wasn't to his liking. After all, Earl Grey was his favorite blend.

He was simply too distracted to think much about drinking anything. He had too much else on his mind.

"It was," he blurted, "as though I had physically left the ship and gone to another time and place. I was in the past...."

He shook his head. Why couldn't he get a better handle on what had happened? It seemed to be on the brink of his consciousness, teasing him...but when he reached for it, it slipped away.

Deanna sat on the other side of the smooth, dark coffee table that her mother had given her as a gift. The counselor's incredulity was visible only in the slightest wrinkling of the skin above the bridge of her nose. Outside of that, she seemed completely nonjudgmental.

"Can you describe where you were?" she asked. "What it looked like?"

The captain sighed as the scent of the tea teased his nostrils. "It's all so difficult to nail down," he told her. "Like the details of a nightmare after you've woken up."

"What can you remember?" the Betazoid prodded carefully.

Picard concentrated. "It was years ago...before I took command of the Enterprise. I was talking with someone...I don't remember who. It was dark outside...."

The half-formed image lingered before his mind's eye. His head hurt with the effort of trying to refine it, to understand it.

"But then..." he began.

"Yes?" said Deanna.

He struggled with it. "Then everything changed. I wasn't in the past any longer. I was an old man, in the future. I was doing something...something outside." He cursed softly. "What was it?"

Abruptly, he realized that his fingers were moving, as if of their own accord. They were rubbing together. But why? For what purpose?

Then the image was gone. "Sorry," he told the counselor, bowing his head. "I just can't remember."

Deanna smiled compassionately. "It's all right," she assured him. And then, as gently as she could manage: "Captain...have you considered the possibility that this was just a dream?"

Picard looked up. "No. It was more than a dream," he said, with a certainty that took him by surprise. "The smells and the sounds...the way things felt to the touch...they escape me now, but at the time it was all very real."

The Betazoid accepted the statement with equanimity. "How long did you stay in each of these time periods?" she inquired, apparently taking a different tack. "Did it seem like minutes...hours?"

The captain thought about it. "I'm not sure," he concluded after a moment. "At first...at first there was a moment of confusion, of disorientation. I wasn't sure where I was. But that passed...." He frowned. "And then I felt perfectly natural...as though I belonged in that time." He grunted. "But I can't remember now how long I stayed there."

It was all so frustrating. The counselor sensed it, too, because she didn't press him any further.

"I know," he told her. "This doesn't make much sense. It's a set of feelings more than a distinct memory."

"It's all right," said Deanna. "Maybe it would be easier to try identifying specific symbols. Can you remember anything you saw...anything at all? An object, a building, perhaps...?"

He took a breath, let it out. "No," he answered finally. "Nothing."

Finally, feeling that he'd run up against a wall, Picard focused again on his tea. It was no longer producing any vapors. Obviously, he had let it sit too long.

The counselor had noticed as well, it seemed. "Here," she said, reaching across the table. "Let me have your cup. I'll get you some more."

"Thank you," he said. Picking up the smooth, ceramic cup and its matching saucer, he extended them to her...

...and took hold of the rough-skinned grapevine. Suddenly, Picard had the strangest feeling that he had been reaching for something else.

For a moment, he felt lost, out of place. Peering out from under the brim of his straw hat, he took in the long, graceful contours of his family vineyard. He saw the fog lifting off them in the low rays of the rising sun...smelled the richness of the soil...heard the buzz of flying insects...and confirmed that he was just where he was supposed to be.

Still, for just a second there, it seemed to him he was in another place altogether. He wasn't sure where, or even when, but...oh, what the hell. When people aged, their minds were allowed to wander a bit.

There was nothing wrong with that, was there? With all the thinking his mind had done, it had earned a little excursion now and then.

Concentrating on the vine in his hand, he appraised it with the trained eye of someone who had grown up under the tutelage of expert vintners. Then, reaching for a pair of pruning shears, he snipped off a few stray branches. Certainly, he could have hired others to do this work -- but it felt good to be useful. And Lord knew, he wasn't qualified to do much else these days.

"Captain Picard to the bridge!" a voice rang out.

Picard could scarcely believe his ears. He looked up from his work and squinted.

To his surprise, there was someone standing there in the vineyard -- though the figure was silhouetted in the early-morning sun, so he couldn't tell who it was right away. Then, as he shaded his eyes, he made out a familiar and welcome visage.

"Geordi," he whispered. "Geordi La Forge."

His former chief engineer smiled with genuine enthusiasm as he approached. "Sir, I think we have a problem with the warp core, or the phase inducers, or some other damn thing. It'd normally take days to repair -- but if you need me to, I can fix it in a few minutes. No -- make that a few seconds. And if you want, I can run a few diagnostics while I'm at it as well."

The older man stood, though not without a bit of difficulty "Damn," he said, scratching at his bearded chin. "It's really you, isn't it?"

La Forge was wearing civilian clothes -- and why shouldn't he? He had left Starfleet a good many years ago, though not as many as Picard himself. Also, the man's VISOR was gone -- replaced by artificial eyes -- and with his face rounded by age, and punctuated with a gray mustache, he was no longer the bushy-tailed young officer that the captain had known.

But then, time had passed for both of them. So much time, in fact, that it was depressing to think about it.

La Forge held out his hand. Picard grasped it with all the strength he could muster -- which wasn't much, anymore.

"Hello, Captain," said his visitor. "Or should I make that Ambassador?"

Picard snorted. "It hasn't been Ambassador for a while either."

The younger man shrugged. "How about Mr. Picard?" "How about Jean-Luc?" countered the vintner.

La Forge looked at him askance. His eyes glinted. "I don't know if I can get used to that, but I'll give it a shot."

For a long moment, they stood in the slanting rays of the sun, each taking in the sight of an old friend and comrade. Picard was the first to break the silence.

"Good lord, Geordi. How long has it been?"

La Forge grunted. "Oh...about nine years."

"No, no...I mean, since you called me Captain last? When was the last time we were all together...on the Enterprise?"

It took La Forge a little longer to answer that question. "Close to twenty-five years," he decided.

Picard shook his head. "Twenty-five years..." He smiled. "Time's been good to you, Commander."

The younger man patted his middle. "It's been a little too good to me in some places." He took a look around, his gaze finally fixing itself on the gardening tools that Picard had lugged out here -- just as he did every morning. They were stacked just a few meters away.

"Can I give you a hand, sir?"

The older man shrugged. "Oh, I'm just tying some vines. I can handle it on my own."

La Forge knelt down anyway and examined one of the vines.

"Looks like you've got leaf miners," he announced after a second or two. "You might want to use a spray on them."

Picard looked at him. "What do you know about leaf miners?" he asked, full of curiosity.

To his knowledge, La Forge had never set foot in the ship's botanical garden -- much less acquainted himself with Terran parasites. He'd been far too busy running herd over the ship's engines.

"My wife is quite a gardener," La Forge explained. "I've picked up a little bit of it. I mean...when you live with somebody who eats and breathes the stuff, it's hard not to. Just the other day, she spent hours planting a single flower. Something real fragile...a b'lednaya, I think she called it."

Without asking permission, he picked up a small length of shielded wire off the ground and began tying some of the vines. Satisfied -- and yes, surprised -- that his friend was taking the proper care, Picard knelt down beside him.

"How is Leah?" he asked.

La Forge chuckled softly. "Busier than anyone has a right to be -- even when she's not planting flowers. She's just been made director of the Daystrom Institute. That means she'll be working harder than ever -- but it's something she's always wanted."

Picard nodded, duly impressed. "The Daystrom Institute, eh? And what about the little ones... Bret and Alandra? And, er..." He tried to remember the last one's name.

Fortunately, his companion supplied it. "And Sidney. They're not so little anymore, Captain. Bret's applying to Starfleet Academy next year. His teachers think he'll make it, too -- if he can beef up a little more on his quantum mechanics."

The older man swore under his breath. "Incredible," he remarked. Then, looking up at his visitor: So what brings you here?"

La Forge kept his eyes focused on the vines he was tying. "Oh...I just thought I'd drop by. You know how it is. I'd been thinking about the old days on the Enterprise, how much fun we used to have ...and anyway, I was in the neighborhood..."

Picard smelled a rat. "Don't give me that," he rasped. "You don't make the trip from Rigel Three to Earth just to...to drop by. It's..." He tried to think of how many light-years, but finally gave up. "A long way," he finished lamely.

La Forge swallowed. He was no more skilled at deception now than he had been a quarter of a century ...

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