In the ST:TNG episode, Yesterday's Enterprise, Data says that Guinan's species has a perception which goes beyond linear time. Why would Data in the alternate timeline think that?

Back in the main timeline, when Guinan was ripped from the Nexus in "Generations", part of her was still left there. She told Picard she couldn't go back with him because she was already there. The part of her left in the Nexus, a place where time had no meaning, gave her her sixth sense. This explanation was in the original Generations script but was later edited.

GUINAN : It took a long time, but eventually I learned to live with it. And I began to realize that my experience in the Nexus had changed me...I knew things about people...about events...about time...

PICARD : Your "sixth sense"... I've always wondered where it came from

From this, one could think her abilities are not a feature of her species, but of her personally. It seems the Nexus gave her and a handful of other El-Aurian refugees have the ability to perceive time differently.

In addition to the Generations movie, the novel, Engines of Destiny, also makes it clear that Guinan's abilities are due to the Nexus.

Yet, how did the Enterprise crew in the alternate timeline know? Was Guinan involved in some temporal exchange before they encountered the Enterprise-C? And that somehow in that prior event, they became aware of Guinan having an extraordinary power?

If they didn't know, they would never have trusted her advice to send the Enterprise-C crew back through the temporal rift. Please don't tell me that Picard was willing to send them back because one more ship would not have saved the Federation from surrender, but the sacrifice of a single ship long ago would have. He decided to send them back before Data mentioned that the Enterprise-C's sacrifice would convince them to negotiate with the Federation for peace. Picard never would have sacrificed 125 lives solely on intuition. He would have let them live out their days in the current timeline. Unless he knew from experience to trust her.

To be clear, I am not asking why Picard and the Enterprise-D crew sent the Enterprise-C back in time. I am only asking how the Enterprise-D learned of Guinan's abilities.

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    you post the answer in your question. Guinan told Picard. Jan 19, 2017 at 8:14
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    You misquoted Data. He actually says "Perhaps her species has a perception that goes beyond linear time." He says this after Geordi asks how Guinan could know that the timeline has been altered. Jan 19, 2017 at 14:52
  • @DTagliaferri Not quite! Guinan's said that in the main timeline, not the alternate timeline. The question is how does the crew in the alternate timeline know? I updated my post to make that more clear.
    – RichS
    Jan 20, 2017 at 5:09
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    That line in Generations was a retcon anyway. Years previous, Q implied she was some sort of powerful extra-dimensional creature of whom he had reason to be afraid. Jan 20, 2017 at 13:15
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit: Add to that that the events in "Time's Arrow" have established that Guinan, even before encountering the Nexus (thus this probably is a feature of her species) is very long-lived by human standards. Mar 28, 2019 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


The whole point of the plot of Yesterday's Enterprise was that the crew didn't know if Guinan was right, but had to do what needed to be done on trust.

As stated in the comments on your question, Data is actually guessing that El-Aurians have time-space perceptions, as a way to explain her perceptions. It's clear during the conversation that the crew are open to the idea that she might have such a power, so it's possible that the altered timeline's past does indeed contain Guinan doing "Guinany" things.

There's multiple factors involved in sending the Enterprise-C back in time:

  1. One thing they DO know is that the ship has travelled forward in time.
  2. They also know that the Klingons "blame" the Federation for NOT coming to their aid at Niranda 3, one of the many triggers to the war they are fighting.
  3. Captain Garrett states, however, that they DID arrive at Narendra III before the temporal anomaly, so the crew can surmise that the reasons the Klingons are angry is because the Enterprise-C was thrown out of time.
  4. Picard states that the war is going very badly for the Federation. They're seriously excited about the fact that they might be able to monkey-patch the Enterprise-C into a fighting machine for the new war despite it's already extensive damage. Starfleet expects to have to surrender in less than six months.
  5. War is an unnatural state for the Federation. This isn't an alternate timeline where Spock has a beard; it's a timeline with a divergence just a few decades "ago." Picard would be willing to believe that the war they are in is an anomaly.
  6. Garrett states that much of her crew wants to go back anyway, as this future doesn't contain their loved ones, and others don't like "sneaking out from a fight." The only reason they'd stay is to fight the Klingons.
  7. Picard's closing argument to Garrett that one ship now won't make a difference but a ship at Narendra III might shows that even he thinks it's a long shot, but that it's better than surrender.

So, Guinan's intuition was not the only reason for sending the Enterprise-C back. It was definitely the catalyst, and her absolute conviction that time has changed, and that Tasha Yar should be dead, certainly gave stronger weight to the idea that the Enterprise-C should go back. The episode implies that nobody else had even thought to check to see if the Enterprise-C should be sent back until she mentioned it to them. So her intuition was important in starting the argument.

But, despite the high esteem you give Picard, he most certainly would send 125 lives on a suicide mission if he thought it would save the Federation. As he says to Garrett, the Federation has only 6 months of life left, and the Klingons aren't going to be pleasant masters. That's what convinces Picard, but, remember, he's only a Captain, and so is Garrett (with a few extra decades of seniority.) While technically Starfleet regulations state that, as Captain of the tactically superior ship, Picard could "order" the Enterprise-C back through the rift, it's still up to Garrett to "make it so". Garrett, seeing the state of the Federation and knowing she has a chance to save it, essentially volunteers for the suicide mission.

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    @ZoeyBoles "They also know that the Klingons "blame" the Federation for NOT coming to their aid at Niranda 3, one of the many triggers to the war they are fighting." You got that backwards. The Klingons didn't blame them for not coming to aid in the alternate timeline. It's just that the Klingons in the main timeline believe the Federation is honorable because the Enterprise-C did come to their aid.
    – RichS
    Jan 20, 2017 at 6:19
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    @RichS What I meant was that the Enterprise-C was the "prop" that held together the Khitomer accords and various peace hopes, opening the door to the Federation-as-we-know-it, but you are probably right that they didn't know. I have to say "Probably," though, because the Enterprise-C was actually in combat and almost already destroyed when they disappeared. I'm sure SOMEBODY in Klingon space must have noticed a Federation ship answer the distress call and start combat...
    – Zoey Green
    Jan 20, 2017 at 19:02
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    @RichS ...only to disappear suddenly like cowards. Remember, Niranda 3 falls either way; the Klingons respect for the Enterprise-C was fighting to the death to save a frenemy colony that not even the Klingon Defense Fleet was going to bother with. It was this respect from the Klingons, garnered from their warrior culture, that had the impact of the Enterprise-C. Coming in, tossing a few torpedoes and running away? That's what COWARDS do.
    – Zoey Green
    Jan 20, 2017 at 19:04
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    @RichS ... the episode's dialogue? PICARD I think I know your opinion, Commander. This is a briefing. I'm not seeking your consent. RIKER With all due respect, Captain, we'd be asking one hundred and twenty-five people to die a meaningless death. DATA Not necessarily meaningless, Commander. Klingons place honor above all else. If the crew of the Enterprise-C had died fighting for the survival of a Klingon outpost, that would have been considered a meaningful act of honor by the Klingon Empire. PICARD Even their deaths... might have prevented the war.
    – Zoey Green
    Jan 20, 2017 at 21:49
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    Late to the debate here, but there's a couple of factors not mentioned (IMO): After years of brutal war Captain Picard of the battleship Enterprise-D is obviously a sterner hard-ass than his mainline counterpart. If strategic value might be gained, he'd order a military asset like Enterprise-C to a suicide mission. Not callously or cruelly, but like a necessary chess move. Secondly, I'm not sure why Guinan's abilities would be such a mystery. She's been on Battleship Enterprise-D for years and we have no idea what shenanigans/adventures/relationships might have taken place to "expose" her.
    – Blaze
    Mar 28, 2019 at 23:36

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