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Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) focuses on the twenty-fourth century adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard aboard the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). This incarnation of the famous starship is much larger than the one captained by James T. Kirk a century earlier, and, accordingly, it carries a larger crew complement: 1,012 men, women…and, surprisingly, children. This era’s Starfleet Command believes that men and women are more likely to sign up for long-term exploratory missions if they think of their ship as home. Thus, Picard’s crew enjoys many of the comforts they’d have otherwise left behind, including a wide variety of recreational opportunities, “replicated” food dishes to suit every palate, and quarters large enough to share with spouses and offspring. There are schools for the children and a bar (stocked with synthetic alcohol, or synthehol) where the adults can unwind. However, the ongoing mission—no longer limited to a mere five years—remains virtually the same as it was during Kirk’s time: to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.
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The USS Enterprise has been granted the simple but unavoidable honor of ferrying key guests to Betazed for a cultural ceremony. En route, sudden tragedy strikes a Federation science station on the isolated...
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