Time Squared ()
Stardate: 42679.2 Picard encounters his double from six hours in the future, whose Enterprise had been destroyed.
While the Federation starship Enterprise is en route to their planned destination, the ship’s sensors detect a lone shuttlepod drifting through empty space with no power or fuel reserves. When Lt. Worf and Commander Riker use the tractor beam to bring it into the shuttle bay, they find it has the same name and registry as an Enterprise shuttle. Inside is a double of Captain Picard, barely clinging to life.
After the double is brought to sickbay for treatment, Lt. Commander Data and Chief Engineer La Forge power up the shuttle after lengthy delays due to unexpected technical incompatibility. It is then discovered that the shuttle’s internal clock is about six hours ahead of the ship’s chronometer; the shuttle and Picard’s double are from six hours in the future. They recover a poor quality sensor log video that shows the Enterprise falling into an energy vortex and being destroyed after the shuttle is launched.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pulaski determines that the incoherent double’s biological functions are out of sync but are improving as the future Picard draws nearer to his own time. Picard orders that his future self be revived but is unsuccessful in extracting any information from him. Picard is disquieted at the idea that he would abandon his ship and its crew.
As the crew members debate their options, they decide to continue on their current course. They are suddenly stopped by the vortex seen in the shuttle log and cannot escape, even with the engines at maximum output, and become drawn further in. They send a probe into the vortex, which is immediately destroyed. Scans emanating from the vortex appear to focus on Picard. An energy beam strikes him, causing him to theorize that there is an intelligence controlling the vortex… Something seems to be interested in him personally, and that his double left the ship to draw its attention.
Now almost entirely aware and coherent, Picard’s double sets out to leave the Enterprise as he did before. Picard follows him, asserting that there must have been another option. However, the double only mumbles about it being impossible, as moving forward would have presumably destroyed the Enterprise. As the double is boarding the shuttlepod, Picard proclaims that the cycle will be broken and kills him with a phaser. Dr. Pulaski wordlessly examines Picard’s double with a tricorder as Chief O’Brien stares in shock.
Picard returns to the bridge and orders that the Enterprise fly straight into the center of the vortex. The Enterprise comes through the other side into normal space, and the doubles of Picard and the shuttlepod disappear. The Enterprise resumes its course.