The Next Generation
A Gentle Encounter Before Farpoint
For a while now I have considered writing a novel set in the Star Trek universe. I already have an extensive collection of notes as well as outlines for several novels. Yet I have not been able to really make a good start. One issue is that the novel will probably be rejected because I am still a novice writer. Just before Christmas I felt an urge to salvage something. I wrote this short story for your entertainment. Perhaps it could be an impetus for something different. This short story ticks many boxes I wanted to write about: time travel, Starfleet Academy and the infamous skirt uniform worn by both men and woman in the first season of The Next Generation. The latter topic may not be to everybody’s liking, but I have always been fascinated by Star Trek’s modern, forward thinking. Something I hope Star Trek Discovery will take to the next level. I hope you enjoy!
Before the events of the Encounter at Farpoint
He couldn’t decide on what to wear with his red uniform. The shoes or the black boots? Boots were nominally only used with the alternative Type A uniform, not with the Type A jumpsuit.
Wiles had held off his decision until after breakfast, even though he had placed the black boots next to his uniform on the sofa last evening. He still hadn’t made a decision now that his yoga exercises were complete.
Within ten minutes he would have to report in the arboretum to his duty officer. Finally, after weeks of patiently waiting at Starfleet headquarters he would be assigned to the Enterprise-D. He had pushed himself hard to this far. Wiles had served for one year on a reconnaissance cruiser and one year on Vulcan teaching abstract Number Theory to Starfleet cadets. Now, as Lieutenant – junior grade – he served on the maiden voyage of the flagship under none other than Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Yet, despite the opportunity to change his life he felt empty at his hesitation to fully express himself.
He put on the black boots, he placed the shoes in the last crate marked personal that was still open. It lay there along with the other uniform. With feelings of regret he closed the crate. They would be beamed directly to his assigned quarters on the Enterprise.
Wiles took one last look at his current quarters that had been his home for 5 weeks. They were more spacious than cadet quarters and he was fortunate not to have to share it. Yet, residing at this temporary posting made him feel more like a cadet than an experienced officer.
“Lieutenant Wiles to the Arboretum. Lieutenant Wiles please report to the Arboretum” the order emanated from his comm badge
Wiles quickly made his way to the turbolift in the hallway. He didn’t have to wait long to hear the sound of the approaching platform. As the door opened Wiles stepped aside to let two broad-shouldered Lieutenants wearing command red uniforms pass. Inside the turbolift he was greeted by Counselor Deanna Troi. She smiled at him gently as did the crewman Shi’mon. They would all three be serving on the flagship.
“Lieutenant Wiles. As Counselor I urge you to make up your mind regarding your uniform. You can’t keep dashing in and out of your quarters when nervous. I think you have fine legs”
Wiles didn’t respond. He knew she was Betazed, half Betazed. But he couldn’t place her comment. Wiles looked down at Troi’s uniform. She held her hands behind her back and stood stiff and confident in the turbolift. Her expression appeared to convey boredom. Wiles admired her figure. Her bare legs and her knee high boots stirred something in him. Quickly he turned to face the elevator. In the corner of his eyes he could see a smile on her face.
Crewman Shi’mon didn’t respond and quickly paced out of the turbolift when it opened on the arboretum level. Wiles could see dozens of crewman and officers reporting to the duty officer including Lieutenant Donald. Wiles lamented his uniform decision and Troi nodded her head as she stepped out and joined the others.
Outside it was raining steadily. Standing in line between the rows of carefully planted conifer brushes Wiles waited patiently as the line progressed. Officers weren’t meant to complain about the weather. The rain felt like a welcome change in pace after the weeks of summer heat.
As Wiles neared the end of the line his comm badge interrupted his trail of thought.
“Lieutenant Wiles. You have an urgent message from Chief Engineer MacDougal. Please contact her from a secure line”. Wiles tapped his badge like second nature and said “affirmative” before looking at the duty officer. The duty officer responded with a nod.
Wiles couldn’t imagine what MacDougal could want. He might work in engineering but Warp core practicalities were not his forte.
And what urgent message did she have? The Enterprise-D was at this moment being flown by her to Earth with a skeleton crew of around a dozen from the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards where the ship had received its final fitting. In fact, normally the chief engineer would not be assigned to such a duty. That duty would fall to the captain. For unknown reason Captain Picard had not taken his command at the construction site.
Wiles walked over to one of the comm booths on the arboretum roof. His mind raced with excitement and terror. Had somebody finally made the decisions to remove him from the Enterprise-D before he could take up his duties? Had they finally discovered a mistake had been made? Or did MacDougal really need his help? Was there a breach in the Warp core imminent? Wiles gently pushed his way past people standing in line waiting to be beamed up. As he approached an empty comm booth his mind trailed back to the comment made by Counselor Troi regarding his legs.
He briefly considered the comment to be inappropriate. She would have known that. And crewman Shi’mon didn’t even respond. But when had she seen his legs? He had known her for only these last few weeks. And he had worn the alternative uniform only once in public. Well, a half-dozen times while strolling in parks in San Francisco, but only once with his friends. That was the night after he had been given the assignment onboard the Enterprise. And though he regretted the many drinks and the dance on the catwalk none of his friends had made any negative comments.
Counselor Troi would never had made such a comment without intending an effect she thought necessary. From his schedule Wiles knew he would have a session with her three weeks from now. He would have to wear the uniform then or else he could well end up being stuck with many more sessions before still making the inevitable decisions. He would do it. He felt secretly pleased.
Wiles wiped some of the rain drops out of his face and pushed open the door to the comm booth. Just then did he feel a sharp pain in the back of his head.
With one hand held to the sore spot on his head and with the other pushing against the ground Wiles managed to lift himself up. He was not alone in the comm booth and he was certain he had been attacked.
“Get up and don’t touch me!” said a male voice. As Wiles’ eyes started to focus he make out black leather boots and a pair of slender white legs. He could also see the tip of a phaser held just inches from his face. Slowly he followed the arm to the blue uniform on the other side. He felt his heart skip a beat when he saw his own face”
“I don’t want you to touch me. Do you understand?”
Wiles briefly looked at the frosted windows of the comm booth. He could just about make out plants of the arboretum on the other side but not any Starfleet personnel. That meant they could not see him and help him.
“Why are you me?” asked Wiles to his blue-uniformed other self.
“Because I am from the future”
Wiles let out a gasp.
“What do you want me to say? It’s not like there is a code word for situations like this” his other self said.
“Why?” Wiles wanted to sound intelligent, “What is the deal?”
“2 standard days from now somebody is going to blow up the Enterprise as it is cruising 4 days out from Farpoint station”
Wiles tries to take it all in. But his first question had nothing to do with this supposed bomb-plot
“Why did you hit me over the head?”
“Actually I stunned you with the phaser”. His other Wiles briefly turned the phaser in his hand to show him the controls. He grasped the phaser firmly when Wiles eyed it carefully.
“You can’t touch me. Or else I would suffer from that headache as well. At this moment we are on parallel timelines, but we will be on a loop if we violate cause and effect”
Wiles considered the statement. If what his other self said was true, a paradox was not in their best interest.
“Are you from the future or from the past” he asked the Wiles wearing the blue uniform of the medical and sciences branch.
“From the future. How else could I know you would be here? Listen. You cannot contact Chief Engineer MacDougal. That will set you on a path with the likely outcome the Enterprise will be destroyed”
“But you have given me advance notice”. Wiles thought back to his classes of temporal mechanics. He was sure his questions were far too simplistic.
“It doesn’t work like, and you know it. If it were easy everybody would do it. But you can’t, cause and effect are a bitch. As anyone from Temporal Investigations could tell you”
Wiles pictured the faces of two of Temporal Investigations top investigators whose lectures he had attended and who had given everybody stern warnings.
“So I cannot contact MacDougal”
“Or anyone else. We keep this thing between ourselves. 20 minutes from now the person responsible will beam the sabotage device to the Enterprise. You are going to prevent that from happening. I can’t do it because I am needed elsewhere.”
The other Wiles had answered Wiles’ question before he could ask it.
“What do I need to do?” asked Wiles
“Swap the sabotage device before it is beamed away. Don’t try to apprehend the person responsible. Just go to section 18 on floor 15 and enter room 31”
“What can I expect? Who is the saboteur?”
After a brief stare the other Wiles responded
“I do not know. You’re going to have to stop this bombing using instinct. Just check the spa for a blue uniform” The other Wiles pulled the skirt briefly sideways. “You’ll look fine”
Hesitantly Wiles stepped out of the booth. He heard its doors slide to a close after him. He had to suppress the instant urge to tell somebody what had happened. There was no one in the Arboretum. Neither his duty officer nor anyone else form the Enterprise was to be seen. The rain had continued to fall. The warmth of the day had yet to arrive. Wiles made up his mind to do what his other self had told him. He took one glance at the booth and could see the figure in blue uniform with his back turned to the frosted glass.
Wiles took the small staircase one level down to the small fitness and spa center that was part of the arboretum. He had been at the spa almost daily for the last 5 weeks and knew it would be busy. All too quickly did he manage to find himself facing the door of the men’s changing room? He could smell the eucalyptus of the sauna and steam rooms. The door opened and one of the broad-shouldered Lieutenants he spotted earlier exiting the turbolift stepped passed Wiles. Feeling hounded Wiles stepped inside the changing room. He was looking for a blue uniform. Preferably one that fitted. He could spot two gold uniforms on the hangers, a red one as well. Behind a partition screen Wiles saw two more uniforms. Both blue. One must have been the skirt uniform worn by the other Wiles. He ignored it and grabbed the jumpsuit. Without hesitation he tried to change into it, but he had to stop after he placed both his legs through it but failed to put the suit over his shoulder. It was far too small. He put on the alternative uniform. The blue was a beautiful color. After putting on the black boots Wiles briefly admired himself in the mirror. He looked just like counselor Troi.
Wiles quickly paced out of the changing room when he heard someone approach from the spa. In the hallway he found himself confronted with Starfleet personnel. Only one looked at his uniform. Wiles knew from experience to look defiant. Only then did Wiles feel the collar of the uniform to confirm the rank as Lieutenant junior grade.
Wiles had no idea what he was walking into. Just 10 minutes ago he was set to beam onto the Enterprise-D. Now he was making his way down to one of the spires of the building to find a possible saboteur.
‘And do what exactly?’ He asked himself.
The other Wiles had mentioned room 31 on floor 15 of the spire. He made it sound as though someone was there already. As soon as Wiles had reached the spire he entered the turbolift to floor 15. Wiles worried someone might notice he was not wearing command red. The blue uniform of sciences and medical often stood out at Starfleet Headquarters.
Wiles reached floor 15 and stepped out of the turbolift. By the looks of its layout the floor had just 8 rooms centered on a very narrow atrium. Room 31 or 3.1 was across the hallway. Wiles considered using the door chime, but he did not want anyone inside to ready themselves for a fight. He opened the door and carefully walked into dimly lit room.
The room had but one window, at the far end. It was currently set to dim. Various system consoles along the walls could not provide much illumination either.
“You’re 7 minutes and 36 seconds early” said a feminine voice from the other side of the room. Wiles stepped gently forward in an attempt to see what the person was doing. The door closed behind. A woman stepped away from a console at the wall and stood in front of him. She was not armed as far as he could see. She also wore a blue uniform and despite the heeled boots was a head shorter than him. She seemed to consider him for a moment.
“Luckily we have plenty of time if we wished to succeed with the plan”
Wiles considered what he would say. He couldn’t ask what the plan was, although he had almost let that question roll from his tongue. He imagined he must have a small look of surprise on his face.
“I had expected you to be finished already” he responded in jest. He hoped that would not provoke the woman. The woman’s eyes briefly flashed, but she quickly put a smirk on her face as her eyes once again darted to his skirt.
“We will be ready in time. If you can be so kind and tell me the exact location to which we should beam the bomb undetected onto the Enterprise-D”
Wiles considered her request for a few seconds. He was determined not to acquiesce, but he did worry about imminent bodily harm if he refused to cooperate or lie to her. Wiles decided the latter suggestion was safer, for now. He secretly hoped his other self would enter the room and safe him from this predicament. Finally, after several seconds Wiles responded.
“The device should be transported to engineering. They have experience with handling volatile incendiaries”
The woman looked at him in a confounded manner before she responded, “And do you have the precise location onboard the Enterprise. Remember, we won’t get a second chance at this.”
The woman walked over to one of the console against the wall. After she entered a command the panel started to brighten and showed a cross-sectional diagram of the Enterprise. Though Wiles was very familiar with the design of the Enterprise-D he couldn’t remember ever having seen such a detailed diagram. On the panel he saw a search inquiry that required only a set of precise coordinated calculated from the tip of the ship’s bow. The woman beckoned Wiles over to the console. He knew she would ask him to input the coordinates before out of the corner of his eyes he managed to make out the bomb on a small coffee table.
“Is that the device” asked Wiles as he gesture to the dark metal cylinder that stood around 10 inches tall.
“Yes, though calling it a bomb isn’t going to hurt anyone”
Wiles walked over to the panel and slowly entered a set of coordinate’s one digit at a time. The woman was not paying attention, but instead seemed to observe him intently.
“You know you are not at all how I imagined you would be”
Wiles entered the next few digits even more slowly.
“And how is that?” he asked
“Well, I had been told you had great legs”. She looked down again to his skirt. “But the uniform is conspicuous”
“What else had you been told about me?”
“I have been told you have a history of having been intimate with a number of senior officers, but thing is. You don’t strike me as gay”
“That is because I am not” responded Wiles with determination as he finished the coordinates to which he planned to beam the bomb. The woman look up at the numbers.
“In the brig?” was all she could ask before Wiles hit her over the head with a data pad.
As the woman laid motionless on the ground Wiles saw the phaser she had dropped in the fall. The woman had suspected something was not right about Wiles. For 10 seconds Wiles could do nothing. He alternatively watched the console, the bomb and the woman.
“Wiles? Wiles are you there?” said a voice that Wiles recognized as his own.
Wiles tapped his comm badge and responded.
“Yes, other self. I am here. Look, I am not certain what I should have done, but I knocked the woman out cold”
It took a good 10 second for his other self to respond.
“Did she manage to transport anything or anyone to the Enterprise?”
Wiles quickly responded by stating that she hadn’t. The woman lay motionless on the floor and Wiles touched her neck for a pulse just to make sure he hadn’t hit too hard.
“Good. Than the plan has succeeded. I just managed to stop the saboteur from beaming the weapon onto the ship. The explosives were housed inside a Photon torpedo casing”
“You managed to stop the saboteur, and the bomb? Then who is the woman I knocked out cold?”
Wiles felt perturbed and was afraid he had done something incorrectly.
The other Wiles responded. “You stopped the DTI agent from initiating another loop. A loop that will end in failure”
“A Department of Temporal Investigations?” Wiles considered the report he would have to end up writing after this.
“A loop that will fail?” Wiles asked rhetorically. The other self completed his trail of thought through the comm badge.
“I have already been down that road. It doesn’t end well for the Enterprise, but I managed to get the time device the DTI use to give us another shot”
Wiles considered the implications for a moment. His head started to spin. He felt there must have been a paradox somewhere in the statement by his other self.
“How could the DTI agent not foresee her actions would end in failure?”
His other self responded immediately with determination palpable from his voice.
“I don’t know the methods the DTI agents from the future employ, but I think she was attempting to solve the problem with the least disturbance to what she calls the prime timeline. There was no guarantee our future self would have survived the bombing”
Wiles agreed with that sentiment, but he was apprehensive about the implications of unauthorized theft of a time-travel device.
“There are rules for such problem. Even we don’t have the right to interfere with the duties of the Department of Temporal investigations”
His other self again responded to Wiles trail of thinking.
“I managed to work out that problem. Not only did I use the device to travel back in time to stop the saboteur I also prevented the DTI agent from carrying out her duty. You see, I took you back with me in time!”
Wiles shook off the comment for a moment as he stared at the DTI agent lying unconsciously on the floor. Then he remembered that his other self had used a phaser set to stun. Wiles paced over to a console and could see for himself that it was an hour earlier than what it should have been. None of the events he had experienced had happened yet.
“So you see” his other self continued, “If the DTI agent remains unconscious long enough she will never be able to have an impact on the events that have occurred”
“The DTI will be able to unravel events later on and undo our change”
“And risk changing the timeline again. I will take a chance that they won’t interfere. All you need to do is make sure she won’t wake up soon. Take her time travel device and travel to the Stardate and location of the moment I stunned you. You can then resume your duties on the Enterprise.”
“And the time travel device. It should be destroyed”
“Yes. I will travel to the time and location of when I discovered who would sabotage the Enterprise. With luck none of the three timelines should end in disaster”
“But won’t there be three of us?”
“No, just three parallel timelines. Which is fine, there are an infinite number anyway”.
Wiles paused to think about the mind boggling situation. However, his other self didn’t allow him a moment to reflect on the situation
“All you need to do is wait for another 3 minutes before you can use the time travel device to travel back to the prime time line and to the exact moment I sent you back an hour. If you get that right there should not be any conflicting events or paradoxes”
Wiles started to search around for the time travel device. He found the device in the tricorder holster on the female DTI agent. After carefully going through the menu options he found an entry to a prior time displacement events. The details corresponded to what his other self had done. Wiles determined it would be a trivial effort to find his way back. In the silence of room Wiles had forgotten his comm connection to his other self was still on.
“And so I guess this is the end” Wiles said.
“Yes. It is, and don’t forget to unpack tour skirt uniform when you get to the Enterprise”
“I won’t forget” and with that Wiles tapped his comm badge to close the connection. He had in fact a plan to ensure that no timeline stemming from this exact moment would result in him not making the right choice.
After he ensured himself that the DTI agent was correctly tied to a pillar running through the room Wiles made his way back to the arboretum. It was still quiet when he got there but checking the time travel device he could see it was only 40 minutes until he originally made his way to the arboretum. If he was going to do what he wanted to do he would have to ensure his other self was busy with Yoga to notice someone was in his room.
At the turbolift Wiles had to wait with three people. Too late did he notice one of them was Counselor Troi. Though she had not spotted him she turned to greet him.
“Good morning Lieutenant Wiles. Are you ready to join the Enterprise?”
Wiles did not want to appear hesitant. He did not want to give her any reason to read her mind, though she undoubtedly had sensed his presence. As she was only half-Betazed he was uncertain as to her mental abilities.
“Good morning Counselor. Yes I am ready to join the Enterprise. I am very much looking forward to it”
“You look ready. I loved your uniform. I think the skirt is a fantastic choice”
Wiles could not help but look at her skirt, her milky white legs and when he looked up the beautiful smile on her face. She knew more than she was letting on. At that moment Wiles felt perfectly secure wearing the skirt uniform even as the other two Starfleet personnel glanced down at his uniform.
At that moment the turbolift doors opened. After several Starfleet personnel walked out Wiles stepped in with Counselor Troi. Only then did he notice Lieutenant Donald looking into the turbolift. It was Donald’s uniform he was wearing. As the lift doors closed Counselor Troi whispered into his ear. “You will need to wear the correct color to blend in”
Wiles stepped out of the turbolift as quickly as he could when after it arrived at the floor his quarters were located. He did not dare risk further exposure to Counselor Troi’s perceptive abilities. After the turbolift closed Wiles quickly held the time travel device on his hand. Obviously it was designed to look like a tricorder. All that was needed of him was one press of as button should the need arise and he would transported on both time and place to exact moment this adventure started.
Wiles did not mind wearing the uniform when he passed more Starfleet personnel on the short distance to the door of his quarters. His other self who had just finished breakfast and would be doing his yoga exercises on the balcony. He would never know what had happened to him this morning. He would never know the agent from the Department of Temporal Investigations and never wear the blue skirt uniform. Only now did Wiles dare to admit to himself he enjoyed the femininity of it. Other men wore the uniform all the time. Why shouldn’t he? Wiles was determined to ensure his other self would pass on the moment of trying the uniform as an officer in Starfleet. After walking through the door of his quarters Wiles could see his other self on the balcony. It would not be for another 15 minutes before the Yoga exercise series would finish. The earbuds his other self wore would filter out most noise. Wiles walked into his bedroom and observed the jumpsuit uniform displayed on the bed. At least his other self had unpacked the boots. He picked up the jumpsuit and folded it into the last open crew container. From memory he selected the crate with the alternative skirt uniform and opened it. He laid out one example across the bed much in the same the jumpsuit had been. He then adjusted the controls of the crate containing the jumpsuit which allowed it to be beamed up at the earliest convenience. Wiles could only hope it was before his other self would discover the unexpected change in uniform. Next Wiles took a second skirt uniform from the crate and started undoing the zip on the back of his blue uniform. Gently did he step out of the garment. He would have to ensure the blue uniform was not found. Quickly he changed into the command red. He briefly checked the correctness of the uniform by folding out the creases.
Wiles decided he had lingered enough and finally pressed the button on the time device. Instantly he was transported to the place he was supposed to be. After checking the time travel device date did he become convinced the jump had worked. Through the frosted glass he could see the silhouettes of people walking thought the windy arboretum. His other self, the Wiles who had stunned him and transported him an hour back in time was nowhere to be seen. Wiles had the large comm booth to himself. He placed the blue skirt uniform on a small bench in the booth. He guessed janitors would find. His next thought went to the time travel device. With force he managed to break the device into two. Both pieces went into the waste chute, never to be used by anyone. At that moment the comm panel buzzed behind him. Wiles managed to straighten himself out just as Chief Engineer MacDougal face appeared. The pale thin face conveyed a look of worry.
“Chief Engineer. I was told to report to you. Is everything OK?”
“I am not certain. I was told you wanted to speak Lieutenant Wiles”
Wiles was uncertain how to respond, but decided to downplay the issue.
“I am afraid not”. Wiles considered this event must have been an artifact of the actions of the other Wiles
“Let’s consider this an error”
“I will” MacDougal appeared hesitant. “Oooh by the way, have you seen Lieutenant Donald? He was supposed to arrange for a package to be beamed to the Enterprise but it never arrived. Words is, he misplaced his skirt uniform”
“I have not seen Donald mam. Nor his uniform”
MacDougal responded with a smile and turned off the connection. Wiles considered the coincidence for a moment. Just what had his other self been up to? With those thoughts on his mind he walked back to his duty officer on the far end of the arboretum. The line before the officer had thinned considerably since his departure, minutes before, but a few people had not beamed to the Enterprise yet. And of those was the ships counselor. Counselor Troi appeared to linger near the transporter pad waiting with her back turned to Wiles.
After Wiles had received his orders from the duty officer, and exchanged glances with the man regarding his sudden change of uniform Wiles walked to the pad.
“I see you managed to correct your uniform” Troi mentioned as he walked by.
“Yes I did. Thank you counselor”
“I think you’re a brave man. And the red goes well with your thighs”
Wiles briefly considered whether the comment was too sexual.
“Not so Lieutenant. You were angling for me to say that. And speaking for most people whom I can sense in the vicinity I can tell you it is true” An honest smile appeared on Counselor Troi’s pale face.
With that comment Wiles stepped confidently onto the transporter pad. His assignment on the Enterprise was scheduled to last an entire year.