|Location of Event :
||Largely based around the Devron system, but also involved Earth.1
|Stardate of Event :
|Nature of Event :
||Intentional creation of multiple unconnected timelines1
Encounters with the mysterious and powerful species known as the Q tend to consist of more questions than answers, and this case is no exception. Since first contact with the Q in 2364 one particular member of the continuum has shown considerable interest in the USS Enterprise crew in general and Captain Picard in particular. In that first encounter, Q put Picard and his crew on trial for the crimes of Humanity; at the time it appeared that they had been exonerated of those crimes, but in 2370 the Q apparently decided to subject Humanity to further testing.
Details of the events are incomplete, but it appears that the Q created at least two alternate versions of history then caused Captain Picard to shift between the present and these two periods at random. One was a perfect copy of the preferred timeline as of Stardate 41124, shortly before Captain Picard took command of the USS Enterprise. However, the timeline did not develop as it should have - an emergency developed regarding an anomaly in the Devron system, causing the Enterprise to be ordered to divert from its Farpoint mission. Picard ordered the ship to proceed on its original assignment, but failed to make contact with Q as he had in his own past.
The other timeline was a version of an unspecified future period apparently derived from the preferred timeline. This future had some interesting changes from the present - the Klingons had taken control of the Romulan Empire and abolished the neutral zone, relations between the Klingons and the Federation had deteriorated almost to the point of open conflict, Deanna Troi had died, causing a rift between Commander Riker and Lieutenant Worf. The former had remained in Starfleet and progressed to Admiral, while the latter had left and become governor of a Klingon colony. In this timeline Picard had become an ambassador before retiring, and had finally begun to develop a medical condition which caused his thought processes to deteriorate.
All three timelines appear to have been partially discontinuous, with the majority - but not all - of the events in any one timeline having little or no impact on the others. This is a direct violation of both temporal physics and common sense, and it appears that Q was deliberately controlling these events at his own whim. Whilst Picard was struggling to understand the events he was now caught up in, Q issued a stark warning - the trial of Humanity had been carrying on all these years, and had resulted in a guilty verdict. Not only would Humanity be denied existence, but the Captains own actions would cause the destruction.
The one common thread between the three periods was the Devron system, a planetary system in the Neutral Zone. In both the past and present Starfleet ordered a fleet to the area after detecting an anomaly there, and in both cases Picard took the Enterprise to the system and initiated a tachyon scan of the area. In the future he had a little more trouble, but did convince Captain Beverly Picard to take the USS Pasteur to the system and also initiate a tachyon scan. The combination of three beams on one point in three different timelines apparently caused a time/anti-time rift which expanded as it moved back in time.
Q took Picard to Earth three billion years ago, when the anomaly covered a large section of the galaxy. The disruption caused to organic matter by the anomaly prevented the formation of life on Earth, destroying Humanity before it had ever existed. Although Picard ordered the beams shut off as soon as he could, the damage was done. Fortunately, Data suggested that the rift could be healed if the Enterprise-D's from each timeline co-operated in generating static warp shells. All three ships proceeded into the rift and attempted to seal the anomaly. Two versions of the ship were destroyed in the attempt, but the third survived just long enough to repair the damage.
Q revealed to Picard that the entire affair had been arranged as a test, to see if he could comprehend the nature of the paradox involving the anomaly. By resolving the situation Picard had shown that Humanity had potential for considerable future growth and understanding of "the unlimited possibilities of existence", as Q called it.
Much about the affair remains a mystery, but given the nature of the Q it is far from certain that any aspect of these events will - or can - be resolved satisfactorily. Detailed temporal scanning has revealed that the future timeline was a viable event sequence, but since events have already moved down a considerably different path it appears that this future is not a part of the preferred timeline. The past timeline appears to have been identical to the preferred timeline up to the moment of Picards interventions, but appears to be entirely discontinuous from our own present.
The situation appears to have been satisfactorily resolved by Captain Picard and although the file will remain open while so many unanswered questions remain, no further action is contemplated at the present.1