(written from a Production point of view)
Captain Picard and the starship Enterprise-E must brave the dangers of the Rashanar Graveyard.
- From the book jacket
- The site of one of the Dominion War's fiercest battles, the Rashanar Sector now contains a vast interstellar graveyard littered with the lifeless hulks of hundreds of devastated starships. The explosive destruction of so many varied warp drives has severely distorted the space-time continuum in this region, resulting in dangerous unleashed energies and bizarre gravitational anomalies.
- The USS Enterprise-E has been assigned to patrol the perimeter of the danger zone, while other vessels carry out the difficult and highly hazardous task of retrieving the bodies of the dead from the wrecked warships.
- To some alien races, the former battleground is hallowed space. To others, including the rapacious Androssi, it is a scavenger's paradise, ripe for salvage. None expect this ship's graveyard to hold a deadly secret that will force the android Data to make a heart-wrenching decision about the path his life will take – and that will endanger not only the Enterprise, but Picard's future in Starfleet.
Wesley Crusher, still with the Traveler, completes his apprenticeship and is "reborn" into the family of travelers. As part of this ceremony, he is taken to the Pool of Prophecy where he sees the Enterprise auto-destruct.
The Enterprise arrives at the Rashanar Graveyard, a battle site from the Dominion War, with no survivors. They are met by the USS Juno, an Excelsior-class starship, and Captain Jill Leeden, who warns Picard and crew to be very careful in the boneyard, as there are many dangers, including a mysterious gravity sink, an impossible antimatter asteroid, and scavengers of all shapes and sizes. Her mission is to collect the dead, while the Enterprise's is to cover her back while they attempt to explain the mysterious goings-on in the boneyard.
Picard decides to begin his investigations aboard the Galaxy-class starship Asgard, using his new yacht Calypso. As he, Data, and Geordi La Forge explore the Asgard, they find that they are not alone on this dead ship, and their visitors are trying to steal the Calypso.
Data is able to stop the would-be thieves, but is only able to capture one of the scavengers, an Androssi named Ghissel. Questioning her, they learn that she is a forward spotter for other scavengers. La Forge and Data come up with a plan to capture her companion.
While La Forge and Data continue their search for Ghissel's missing companion, the Androssi paralyzes Picard and allows her compatriot to enter the Calypso.
The Androssi escape with the Calypso leaving the Starfleet officers to await rescue from one of the Enterprise's shuttles. Picard explains the circumstances of the Calypso's theft to Captain Leeden, and she warns him to be vigilant.
The Enterprise then answers a distress call from one of the Ontailian ships, but instead encounters the antimatter asteroid. After his lapse with the Calypso and seeming inability to help the Ontailians, Picard worries that his days as best captain in the fleet are numbered, but Dr. Crusher is able to lift his spirits.
After a brief pass of the Ontailian flagship Vuxhal, Troi requests permission to follow the ship in a shuttlepod on a hunch. Riker agrees to go with her as the shuttle's pilot. They see the ship dump an antimatter storage canister and transmit a brief distress call.
After witnessing these strange events, they make a report to Captain Leeden, who disbelieves the entire story.
Four days later, Data and La Forge take the shuttlecraft Hudson to investigate some probes sent to the approximate location of the gravity sink.
Meanwhile, Ghissel is implementing her plan to steal the Warbird, with the help of four Androssi scavenger ships.
On the Enterprise, Lieutenant Vale takes note of a small Federation ship chasing four Androssi scavengers. Captain Picard decides not to get involved when an Ontailian ship tells them that they are moving to assist. The message turns out to be false, and the Juno and the Enterprise move to intercept.
Ghissel decides to break plan and ambush the Juno, which is a staggering success that leaves the ship adrift.
As the yacht makes good its escape, the Enterprise moves to assist the Juno. As they begin rendering aid, Captain Picard orders the Hudson to pursue the purloined yacht. The Hudson and the yacht begin a game of cat and mouse that spans half the boneyard.
Meanwhile, the Androssi's plan to make off with the Warbird has been thwarted by the Ontailians, but three of the ships are still at large in the boneyard. The Enterprise still cannot leave the Juno, but they are eager to join the pursuit.
The Hudson continues to close on the purloined yacht, but not before the larger ship loses power and is left adrift.
The Enterprise detects a closing Androssi scavenger and moves to intercept. Tracking down the bandit, Picard convinces them to surrender, but the Ontailian warship Vuxhal intercedes and destroys the raider.
Meanwhile, the Hudson stumbles upon not one, but two identical Calypso's, unpowered and drifting together. As they approach, the shuttle loses power as well. Data also shuts down inexplicably, and before La Forge can attempt repairs, he is also incapacitated.
As the Enterprise approaches the Hudson's last known coordinates, Commander Riker takes the shuttle Polo, along with Dr. Crusher to search among the debris for the missing craft. They find the disabled Hudson along with an unconscious La Forge floating within the Calypso's debris. Unfortunately, Data is nowhere to be found.
The Polo returns to the Enterprise and Dr. Crusher takes La Forge to sickbay as Riker reports to Captain Picard on the Hudson's location. They take the shuttle in tow and move to an area where it is safe to bring the smaller craft aboard.
Meanwhile, Data is reliving an experience from his first days at Starfleet Academy. As the memory fades, he find himself floating in space watching several relics being pulled into a gravity sink.
Aboard Enterprise, Captain Picard and Commander Riker go to see Lieutenant Commander La Forge in sickbay, who fills them in on the events aboard the Hudson.
Data activates his emotion chip, to give him some edge that might enable him to make it out of the mess he's in, and watches as an Androssi raider and the Vuxhal approach one another. The Vuxhal shuts down as the raider approaches, and the raider begins to shift and change into an exact duplicate of the Vuxhal. Data determines that the mimic is responsible for many troubles in the boneyard, but moments later, he gets his chance for escape as the original Vuxhal explodes.
As the debris comes flying at Data, he uses it to make his way to the drifting hulk of the Ambassador-class Seattle. Once inside, Data finds a subspace transmitter and attaches it to his internal power source in an effort to contact the Enterprise.
Soon the Enterprise arrives and Data is brought on board. He tells his tale to the captain and the senior staff and the danger is immediately apparent. Especially once the fake Vuxhal appears and makes course for the Enterprise. Data immediately jumps to his feet and implores upon the Captain to destroy the mimic ship. Picard orders Data to deactivate his emotion chip. He does so, but maintains his position that the mimic ship must be destroyed.
Picard soon realizes he has no choice and orders quantum torpedoes fired at the ship. The ship breaks apart, but none are convinced that the mimic ship has been destroyed.
Soon Captain Leeden informs Picard that the Ontailians are not happy about the events that have just taken place. Since it looks like the Enterprise just destroyed the Vuxhal, the remaining Ontailian ships assault and destroy the Juno without the Enterprise crew being able to do anything about it.
The Enterprise retreats outside the boneyard and heads back to Earth.
Having watched all this without interfering, Wesley Crusher decides to return to Starfleet Command and exert a small amount of influence over the coming events. He assumes the guise of Ensign Brewster, a non-entity that most won't notice and no one can describe. He becomes Admiral Nechayev's aide and becomes privy to a meeting of the Starfleet Admiralty, who decide that Picard will become the scapegoat over the matter. Admiral Nechayev refuses to accept this and offers to be Picard's defense council at the inquiry.
Soon, Doctor Yerbi Fandau, head of Starfleet Medical contacts Dr. Crusher about Picard, and it becomes apparent he will be remanded to the custody of Starfleet Medical Mental Health upon the Enterprise's return to Earth. She is ordered not to reveal this to the captain, but she does so anyway out of loyalty.
Wesley, under the guise of Ensign Brewster, meets with Admiral Nechayev and Commodore Korgan, a Medusan, who is to be the prosecutor at Picard's inquiry. The admiral and the commodore cannot reach a deal, so the inquiry must go forward. It is also clear that the commodore suspects something about Ensign Brewster.
Admiral Nechayev meets with Captain Picard and Lieutenant Commander Data as they arrive at Earth, and Data is sent to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers for testing while Picard is soon remanded to the custody of Counselor Colleen Cabot at Starfleet Medical Mental Health. She takes him to a holoward for testing over the next two days before his trial.
Later that evening, Geordi La Forge is unable to meet up with Data at the Starfleet Corps of Engineers to attend the memorial service for the crew of the Juno until Ensign Brewster intervenes. They, along with the captain, Counselor Colleen Cabot, Dr. Crusher, Admiral Nechayev, and Counselor Troi all make it to the service without further incident.
As the night wears on, Counselor Cabot makes friends among the present Enterprise crew and is able to determine that the captain was in his right mind when he fired upon the Vuxhal.
The inquiry does not go well. It seems that every defense Admiral Nechayev offers is a pale echo next to the arguments of the prosecutor, Commodore Korgan.
In the end, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is found to have acted negligently in not doing more to prevent the tragedy. But the battle is far from over.
A short time later, La Forge is stunned to learn that Data has been returned to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers to have his emotion chip removed. Despite his protests, Starfleet is apparently in the right, and nothing can be done to prevent the loss.
Admiral Nechayev visits Picard in a cell at Starfleet Command and convinces him not to appeal so that he may be remanded back to Starfleet Medical Mental Health. He will lose face, but not to the people who matter.
And as Dr. Crusher wanders the grounds of Starfleet Academy, she is visited by Wesley in a tearful reunion. When asked why he is back, he says only that he intends "to save the Enterprise."
"You can't go home again."
- - Thomas Wolfe
"La Forge has clocked many hours with his hands inside my head."
- - Data
- First book in the Star Trek: A Time to... series.
- Wesley Crusher
- Human, former member of Starfleet who has become a Traveler. After witnessing a prophecy of the Enterprise-E's destruction, he decides to keep closer tabs on the ship.
- The Traveler
- Male Traveler. Guides Wesley through his birth into the Traveler family.
- Christine Vale
- Human, Tactical officer of the Enterprise-E.
- Androssi Female Scavenger. Spotter who steals the captain's yacht Calypso.
- Alynna Nechayev
- Human Female Admiral at Starfleet Command. Serves as Captain Picard's trial counsel.
- Ensign, aide to Admiral Nechayev. Cover identity for Wesley's covert observations.
- Medusan commodore in Starfleet. Served as opposing council in Captain Picard's trial over the events at the Rashanar Graveyard.
- Colleen Cabot
- Counselor at Starfleet Medical Mental Health. Given custody of Captain Picard prior to his trial.
Admiralty; Ambassador-class; auto-destruct; captain's yacht; D'deridex-class; distress call; Dominion War; emotion chip; Excelsior-class; Galaxy-class; Medusan; quantum torpedo; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Corps of Engineers; Starfleet Medical; subspace transmitter; The Traveler
- Pool of Prophecy
- Part of the Traveler rebirth ceremony.
- Rashanar Graveyard
- Site of a massive battle in the Dominion War. There were no survivors.
- USS Juno
- Excelsior-class starship assigned to the Rashanar Graveyard to collect the dead. Captain Jill Leeden commanding.
- gravity sink
- One of the many perils of the Rashanar Graveyard. No viable explanation by the end of the novel.
- antimatter asteroid
- One of the many perils of the Rashanar Graveyard. No viable explanation by the end of the novel.
- USS Asgard
- Galaxy-class starship destroyed at the Rashanar Battle Site.
- Captain's yacht. Replacement for the Cousteau following the events of Star Trek: Insurrection.
- Scavengers at the Rashanar Graveyard. Humanoid with sepia-hued skin and brown hair.
- Federation members. Non-humanoid with a wiry frame and lumpen heads.
- Androssian Overseer
- Captain of an Adrossian scavenger crew.
- antimatter storage cannister
- Tritanium cannister for storing antimatter
- Ontailian flagship.
- Enterprise-E shuttlecraft, disabled by the mimic ship.
- Enterprise-E shuttlecraft used to search for the Hudson.
- USS Seattle
- Ambassador-class starship destroyed at the Rashanar battle site.
- Starfleet Medical Mental Health
- Section at Starfleet Medical used to evaluate persons of known and unknown mental condition.
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