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In Star Trek: Voyager S07E11 "Shattered", the ship is hit by a temporal anomaly, causing different parts of the ship to be in different timelines. When the ship is restored, Janeway asked Chakotay what happened, in which he replies that he cannot tell due to the temporal prime directive.

The entirety of those events were completely reverted and the majority of events didn't affect the current timeline. Why couldn't Chakotay relay his experiences where Janeway would respond with "cool story bro" and leave it at that? He encountered only two future characters, of which he could have easily omitted from the story.

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    From what I remember, he meets a grown up Naomi Wildman, so speaking of her would be in violation of the TPD, although very minor. I also vaguely recall that he said this to Janeway in a jest manner? – Jared Aug 28 '13 at 0:37
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    I'm pretty certain @Jared is right about jesting, since Kes did (supposedly) give a full report of the parts of the future she experienced during 3x21, Before and After – Izkata Aug 28 '13 at 0:53
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    @Izkata Yea, it did seem like Kes gave details on her future experience, especially on the Krenim. But then when the Year of Hell came around no one seemed to remember anything about them. – Xantec Aug 28 '13 at 2:34
  • @Xantec Year of Hell was intended to be an entire season, so I'd assume that that was just one of the things thrown out... Janeway probably did read the report in one of the many alternate timelines/etc – Izkata Aug 28 '13 at 2:58
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    It is "only two characters", plus one ship. Knowing that the ship is still in one piece and under Federation control at a given point in time could affect Janeway's or the crew's decisions. It might affect their confidence in making a risky decision. – Canadian Girl Scout Aug 28 '13 at 19:34
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This isn't just a case of telling stories. These are potentialities. Even though, only two characters from the future are shown, the very nature of the event could still at some point in the future, affect Voyager, its mission and the choices of the crew involved.

  • While temporal mechanics is relatively well understood, in Voyager's time it is considered best practice (Temporal Prime Directive) if as little about the future is known by anyone since we learned in Kirk's time, even the smallest changes can have catastrophic effects on the timeline. (TOS: The Guardian at the Edge of Forever)

The Guardian at the Edge of Forever

I am the Guardian of Forever. I taught the Federation a valuable lesson. The future could be erased with a careless effort in the right place. That is all.

  • In actuality, despite Chakotay's timely (pardon the pun) intervention, Icheb and Wildman were from a future that does not remain in existence, since it happens/will/would have happened in a potential timeline that no longer/never did/never had existed.

  • The very nature of the anomaly in space that causes the event in the first place is both suspect and potentially a temporal rift capable of reaching through at least twenty years of spacetime. Its origins unknown, its abilities undocumented, there is no way to know if there are still lingering temporal effects.

  • This is another reason to avoid revealing any information which might accidently change the future of the Icheb and Wildman Voyager.

We are, as watchers of the show, are privy to the knowledge that at the end of season 7, Voyager manages to avoid the casualties which lead to that particular timeline as well as avoiding that particular future all-together.

  • But from the perspective of Janeway at that point, such knowledge of their remaining in the Delta Quadrant for 17 more years may have made her unwilling to make certain choices or worse willing to make very different choices, potentially affect Voyager or the Federation as a whole. See: The Butterfly Effect - issues with chaos theory.

NOTE: How well Federation personnel carry out the Temporal Prime Directive (along with the Prime Directive) has been seen to be erratic and occasional irresponsible. I like to blame these irregularities on writers where possible. Janeway's ultimate decision to violate the Temporal Prime Directive in Voyager's final episode (Endgame: Parts 1 and 2) is one of those events I wonder if the Federation is ever made privy to...

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From Memory Alpha:

All Starfleet personnel are strictly forbidden from directly interfering with historical events and are required to maintain the timeline and prevent history from being altered. It also restricts people from telling too much about the future, so as not to cause paradoxes or alter the timeline.

It's your typical "if I tell you anything about the future, I might make a horrible alternate future" sort of deal

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Your question is a good one. We know from previous debriefings that revealing information from alternate timelines is generally not considered breaking the Temporal Prime Directive. Not only do we have the episode with Kes--where the information was even considered potentially useful--we also have incidents with Harry Kim and Worf, just to name a few. Even if we argue that he can't talk the part with Icheb and Naomi might not known to be from an alternate timeline, their role is relatively unimportant and can be left out. The rest is definitely an alternate tiimeline--Chakotay knows that none of that ever happened or ever can happen. So it makes no sense that the TPD would prevent him from revealing information.

But is it absolutely necessary that the Temporal Prime Directive is what prevents Chakotay from saying anything? Could not Chakotay have another reason for not telling the story to Janeway? Is there something about what happened that he might not want to let Janeway know about?

I propose that there is: the fact that Janeway had an opportunity to go back and fix her biggest mistake, stranding the two crews in the Delta Quadrant. But then we have the problem I stated before: why couldn't he just keep just that bit of information to himself? Well, he's already had experience trying to do so, and was eventually cajoled by past-Janeway into telling all. Thus it is better to keep the whole thing a secret. The Temporal Prime Directive is something that he's recently dealt with, works as an explanation for him knowing about a future event, and allows him to keep everything he wants to keep secret.

We also get a hint that Janeway may realize this, with her joking use of the concept at the end of the episode. It could easily be her way of letting him know that she knows he's choosing to keep something from her, hence why turnabout is fair play.

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