I always have loved alternate timeline stories - Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Star Trek (okay, I know Babylon 5 don't have any; that image of Susan Ivanova's distress call doesn't count; its potential was still there. I just love them because there's a possibility of a different future unfolding), and I loved Yesterday's Enterprise, and more should have been shown of that reality.
Please let me know what you think.
Defeat is Inevitable.
"The Federation needs another ship against the Klingons, and we'd better get used to being in the here and now," Rachel Garrett's words reverberating around Picard's head, and while he could admire the other Starfleet Captain's frank dedication to the Federation, he couldn't help but question her naivete, although he did admire her stubborn courage; she had been thrown two decades into the future, where the peaceful Federation she had known had been replaced by a tired, wartorn, exhausted Federation where the war between themselves and the Klingon Empire was just getting worse and worse.
But she thought if there was one more ship on their side, the tide of battle would turn. In an ideal reality, that would certainly be helpful. But this was not that reality and another ship just would not make a difference.
Starfleet had been releasing ship after ship ever since the war with the Klingons had broken out, and yet the Empire had steadily gained ground, destroying one fleet after another while the Federation did the same thing to them. While he had been sceptical about Guinan's intuition this was wrong, Picard had just found it hard to accept.
War had been all he had known ever since he had signed up for Starfleet. He had studied military tactics at the Academy, instead of the scientific disciplines taught during the days of James Kirk. He had only just managed to survive a brush with death against a trio of Nausicaans, one of whom had plunged a dagger through his chest. The attack and his near-death had made him see how fragile life was, how important each moment was, so he had focused on his life and his career, and he had become one of the most experienced Starfleet Captains in the service.
Picard had lived through it all, the raids, the never-ending battles, the loss of life which was so senseless he had simply stopped looking back.
In comparison, Rachel Garrett still had the mindset of Starfleet Captains who hadn't yet experienced the horrors of war. They had never had to look at the aftermath of a Klingon invasion which had been beaten back. Never had to give mass eulogies to hundreds of people until it had become a commonplace event.
She did not belong here, and if she thought one single ship was going to turn the tide while Starfleet Command was under heavy pressure from the Federation Council to mass-produce less complex ships that were more heavily armoured and more overpowered instead of the larger battleships like his Enterprise, and crewing them with officers barely one inch out of the Academy who knew there was a chance they would die, even some who had nearly failed at the Academy classes, then she was more naive than he had first thought. But he could not help but admire her spirit and her confidence, and it gave him an insight he had never really gotten in his youth of Starfleet officers who had been dedicated to peaceful exploration and diplomacy.
The Klingons had ripped that away from them.
Sure, diplomatic work was still being undertaken, but it was more of a case of necessity rather than anything ultimately beneficial. The Federation was now a mess and the Enterprise-C did not belong in this world.
Guinan was right about that. His old friend had been telling him to send the Enterprise-C back in time through the temporal rift, which Data had told him was going to collapse soon, but Garrett was too obstinate to listen even if she was noticeably surprised and intrigued by what he had told her about what Guinan had said to him earlier.
"But if you go back it could be a great deal more helpful," Picard pointed out thoughtfully before he fell silent for a moment while he weighed up the pros and cons about divulging a secret known only to captains and flag officers, as well as members within the Federation Council. It was not something anyone had been keen to reveal, especially since everyone knew what would happen as a result.
Picard looked over Garrett's shoulder to make sure nobody was eavesdropping, but to his relief nobody was; Yar and Castillo were hard at work while the other members of the bridge crew were making basic repairs to the panels and consoles following their battle with the Romulans. He noticed he had caught Garrett's curiosity but it could not be helped.
He leaned forward and dropped his voice into an urgent whisper.
"The war is going very badly for the Federation. Far worse than is generally known. Starfleet Command believes that defeat is inevitable. Within six months, we may have no choice but to surrender," Picard told her.
It was a bitter pill for him or anyone else to swallow, and he had been shaken the Klingons had managed to push them to this at all. A large part of it stemmed from the Federations lack of real preparation for the possibility of a war against the Klingons; all they'd had in the past were a few skirmishes despite the war in 2256, and the near one before the Organians imposed that treaty on them. But the Federation had never bothered to make preparations for the possibility war could occur. It was such a logical precaution Picard was amazed the Vulcans hadn't voiced their concerns.
Picard had been a line officer for his entire career, he had commanded a few ships already, and he had wiped out a number of Klingon ships when they had destroyed the Stargazer, but it wasn't until the last few years the war had been getting worse and worse until he had heard the grim news Starfleet Command was now aware they'd have no alternative, but to surrender to the Klingons. And Picard knew what would happen when they did that, their whole way of life would be destroyed, millions of them would be killed and every Starfleet officer who'd taken part in the war would be lucky not to find themselves in Rura Penthe where they'd die in a matter of months in a frozen cave cutting out chunks of dilithium crystal to power Klingon warships.
Meanwhile on Federation worlds and colonies… Picard could imagine the Klingons occupying them, Imperial Overseers being put in place to ruthlessly overcome any resistance, executing millions in the attempt as they went.
It was not a future anyone would want for their children's children.
But maybe there was a way to avoid it.
Garrett had been looking at him in horror as the news unfolded. She hadn't realised things were this bad despite hearing from the crew of the Enterprise-D how bad the war was. "Are you saying all of this is a result of our arrival here?" She asked.
Picard wasn't surprised she'd asked him that - basic temporal mechanics may not be a priority in the Academy anymore, but it was still taught, and he knew the battle between the Enterprise-C and the Romulans from what he had gathered had ensured peace between the Federation and the Empire went through, but if that never happened….
"One more ship will make no more difference in the here and now," Picard told her bluntly, "but twenty-two years ago, one ship could have stopped this war before it started."
Picard knew she would agree to his arguments now she knew the bigger picture, but he only just resisted the urge to tell her Starfleet had even taken to ripping out the mothballed ships from the 22nd century to augment the fleet, which showed their increasing desperation before they'd realised it wasn't making any difference since the Klingon's battle tactics were better, as much as he hated to admit it, and they had access to cloaking technology. It was just ironic the Federation was willing to ignore such a powerful technology despite its advantages and besides, why should it make any difference if they had a cloaking device on their ships or not?
The Romulans were quiet and had been for years.
But he dearly hoped she would listen to him now and do the right thing instead of staying here.
Picard had been a soldier his whole life, and he had known nothing but bloodshed and misery. If that could be changed by rewriting history, then good…