How It All Began…
Ah, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” has a special place in my heart. Primarily because unlike TOS, I got to watch most of TNG when it first aired. I wasn’t born till 88, so I really didn’t catch on to the show till like 90 probably, but I was a TNG era kid. True, my love for TOS is far more than TNG, but I was still a TNG era kid. I had (and still have) quite a lot of TNG era toys, memorabilia, ect, and it’s quite valuable to the sentimentalist in me. I doubt it has any real monetary value and frankly I’ve never checked; it’d just ruin the magic. One cannot put a price on such memories in my mind.
TNG, while a great TV series, was also a fantastic era to write stories in. My expanded universe is based off the TNG era and all the things that went on in it (yes, even Nemesis) but there has always been a particular part of the TNG era that I’ve never really been able to write; that would be the end of the TNG era that appeared in “All Good Things” the series finale of TNG (and much better movie than Generations ever was). That particular part of the TNG era has always eluded me writing wise, simply because it’s hard to grasp for me. I’ve never quite been able to wrap my brain around all the stuff that was (supposedly) happening. The fact that Q could have easily all made it up is also there, but that was minimized by other series, namely DS9 with “The Visitor” and VOY with “Endgame”. Both featured the uniforms and politics of the future in “All Good Things” so I believe that is indeed the future Trek was heading towards.
Nonetheless, I still found it hard to write that future, especially adding in “Endgame” into the mix. “Endgame” theoretically wiped out that future (again, if one believes it was wiped out in “All Good Things” which it seems likely). But, as with all things Star Trek, nothing is ever gone “for good”. Everyone comes back, in some form or another. So, that future, that timeline is still out there, somewhere, going on. I just needed to figure out what was going on in it.
And that’s when I returned to “Endgame” and where today’s untold story comes to light, that of never seen project, “The Last Generation”. You see, “Endgame” actually provided, for me anyway, the basis of which I could finally write an interesting, if not engaging story in the early 25th century era. Before “Endgame” I wouldn’t have known where to start in that era; if the events of “All Good Things” did in fact happen then they did not in fact stick-if everyone in the present time of the episode but JLP forgot the events of the episode, than if figured so did everyone in past/future as well. (As a complete aside, time travel episodes are SUCH a headache sometimes).
At any rate, prior to “Endgame” there was no real definable, interesting, new viewpoint to start a story in. After “Endgame” there was indeed a VERY interesting viewpoint to start the story from. The question that would come to launch the story and define the era itself…”whatever happened to Admiral Janeway?”
If the timeline went on, as I imagined it did, then obviously that would be the question. One of Starfleet’s most lauded heroes disappears with no trace of what happened to her and no one’s talking. I doubt any of the Voyager crew would have spilled the beans, even if threatened with a court martial, legal action, ect. That crew, more so than any other (even TOS) was a family; they were closer than blood in my mind. Stuck in the DQ (Delta Quadrant, not Dairy Queen; if they were stuck in Dairy Queen for seven years they would all have diabetes) for seven long years, going through hell and back a lot, the Borg, and more, well…if tends to bring people pretty close. This family dynamic-something started a bit in TOS, then really expanded upon in TNG, and somewhat there in DS9-was on full display from day one with VOY. They were family, through pretty much everything.
That was a big reason in why the idea for “The Last Generation” was so potent to me. Whereas if there had been a weak link in the VOY family I could see Starfleet (or someone else) breaking that link and knowing the answer of what happened to Janeway, there was no such weak link here. Yes, one can make the case for Reg Barclay but in his defense he was trying to lie to another family member (and it’s not as easy as one would think). If Reg had to lie to someone outside the family (which I imagined he did a few times offscreen in “Endgame”) I think he would have been fine.
All that added up to the mystery being alive and well. “Whatever happened to Admiral Janeway?” probably would have been a huge deal for many years following “Endgame” and doubtlessly plenty of theories would have arisen. By this point into the development of “The Last Generation” I had the mystery and the family dynamic firmly down as themes or points to hit on often at least. The next part was the hard one; what exactly was the plot?
It’s here that I struggled a bit. Sure, I could go ahead and write a story about the search for Janeway (and part of me wanted to do that as an obvious homage to “The Search for Spock”) but I felt that was really a moot point. Any Star Trek fan worth their salt or with access to the internet would be able to tell you what happened to Admiral Janeway; she died and took the Borg Queen with her (epic moment of win by the way). Great moment in the ep but there’s little that can be done with it from that point writing-wise. Sadly, her final fate has already been determined.
So, I needed a new take. I wanted to tie in “All Good Things” with “Endgame” more directly than just “well, they happened in the same era.” Usually, I’d banter this out with one of my many fellow writer friends, but for this particular case, I really, really wanted to figure it out on my own. So, I spent hours digging through memory alpha and beta, looking for any sort of connections, perceived or otherwise, about the two episodes.
And then it hit me; TNG and VOY did share one thing in common throughout the majority of both runs and that was Q. Yes, the omnipotent being Q that always had a penchant for sticking his nose in things he didn’t have any say in. Q would be the key to getting things on track but Q was in a lot of Star Trek episodes and his references to the continuum, time travel, and everything else…well, they were numerous. MA was good but I was going to need to do some reviewings of some of those eps in order to get my mind wrapped around things.
One episode in particular drew my attention and that was the episode featuring Amanda Rogers; “True Q”. This episode always kind of annoyed me, simply because it seemed to be the odd Q episode of the bunch. It didn’t focus on the usual Q/JLP dynamic nearly as much as it focused on the Q Continuum aspect. It was in this episode that the plot began to first take shape; I knew now that I wanted Amanda Rogers to play a part in this, somehow and it didn’t take long for me to add Q Junior into the cast as well.
Things were beginning to take shape for “The Last Generation.” I knew some of the themes, I knew some of the plot points, and I knew some of the characters. All this I knew, but I was still missing the cohesiveness I needed to fully make this a story. There was a missing piece.
That missing piece would end up being the time travel itself by Admiral Janeway in “Endgame”. If the timeline had continued on, then there would have had to be some sort of effect to it from the act of the time travel; perhaps not a major one, but one that didn’t alter the timeline dramatically initially. Thinking back on all the time travel episodes I’d seen, I decided to reintroduce a species back into the timeline which had previously died off, somewhat like what happened in VOY “Year of Hell” episodes. Someone changes something in the timeline, the timeline shifts, either dramatically, or slightly, but it shifts.
In the case of “The Last Generation” post “Endgame” timeline, I decided that a previously dead rival species of omnipotent beings would be brought back into the fold; the Q’s age old rivals the U (sure, not very original but hey, it’s a letter too). The Q had previously eliminated the U many eons ago and since that time had been the only game in town. Thanks to Janeway’s actions, a few of the U were brought back-not enough to wage a war against the Q but enough to make some Q question whether killing them off to begin with was even right.
From there, things began to turn in my head…and I knew I had something. That’s where I’ll leave this story for today. Tune in tomorrow for part 2, where I’ll explain the details of the plot of this untold story, show you the timeline and how exactly everything went, and further expand upon my thoughts regarding “Endgame” and “All Good Things”.