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Though officially cleared of negligence following the loss of the Stargazer, Picard carries intense guilt over the loss of lives under his command and is uncertain what he wants to do with his life next. He takes a shuttlecraft trip to visit Elizabeth Wu, his former second officer who resigned nineteen years earlier to accept a civilian research post on the Hydra IV colony. Despite time and distance, the two have remained in touch and grown to be close friends and confidantes, and Picard now seeks Wu’s counsel. However, the shuttle experiences a critical failure en route to the colony and Picard is forced to send a distress signal and seek refuge in a (supposedly) uninhabited system. When he arrives, he comes under attack by Skellig raiders who force him to land on the sole Class-M world there. Picard finds a thriving city of the Rhitorri, under attack by the Skellig, who plan to enslave the radiation-resistant insectoids. As the city’s defenses fail, Picard helps the Rhitorri irradiate their city (which has no effect on the Rhitorri but slows the Skellig down considerably), escape into the underground tombs, and later take up arms against the raiders. Despite long odds, they hold off the Skellig until the USS Wyoming (under Picard’s friend Captain David Capshaw) responds to Picard’s distress call and arrives in orbit. After recovering from his radiation and battle injuries, Picard returns to the tombs, where he finds an unlikely marker—“To Bring Light Into the Darkness”—the motto of the Stargazer, written in Federation Standard. He learns that two decades earlier, when the Rhitorri were refugees seeking a new homeworld, they came under attack, but were defended by the Stargazer. When they landed on this world, they wished to commemorate Starfleet’s heroism, but their logs were so badly damaged that an image of the starship’s dedication plaque was the only recoverable data. Picard does not remember the incident, having responded to numerous distress calls over the years, but realizes that his actions allowed this society to safely settle and thrive here, helping him to overcome his grief and guilt.

This story occurs soon after the Stargazer's destruction, and is concurrent with the beginning of The Lost Era: The Buried Age.



David CapshawJean-Luc PicardElizabeth Wu

Starships and vehicles

Nadir (cargo shuttle) • Rhitorri warshipSkellig raiderUSS StargazerUSS Wyoming


Rhitorri colonyRhitorrus

Races and cultures


States and organizations

StarfleetUnited Federation of Planets

Other references

cityClass MFederation Standardradiation


Related stories

Star Trek: The Captain's Table stories
Novels War DragonsDujonian's HoardThe MistFire ShipOnce BurnedWhere Sea Meets Sky
Tales from the Captain's Table short stories "Improvisations on the Opal Sea: A Tale of Dubious Credibility" • "Darkness" • "Pain Management" • "LoDnI'pu' vavpu' je" • "The Officers' Club" • "Have Beagle, Will Travel: The Legend of Porthos" • "Iron and Sacrifice" • "Seduced" • "An Easy Fast"


published order
Previous story:
Improvisations on the Opal Sea: A Tale of Dubious Credibility
Tales from the Captain's Table short stories Next story:
Pain Management
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
Deny Thy Father (Part One)
Pocket Next Adventure:
Mosaic (Chapter 14, Section 2)