This is the book that follows A Time to Be Born.
Wesley decides to take a more active position in clearing Picard’s name. He uses his ability as a Traveller to take Commodore Korgan, a Medusan, and Counsellor Cabot to the Rashanar sector to see that this area needs to be examined more closely. Both meet with Admiral Nechayev and tell her that they want to help prove Picard’s innocence. Meanwhile, Admiral Nakamura removes Data’s emotion chip and wants to replace it with some sort of device. Wesley intervenes and disposes of the chip in the Rashanar region.
The Enterprise under Riker returns to the region with both Picard and Cabot along for the ride. (Covertly of course.) It appears not a moment too soon because negotiations with the Ontailians are going south fast.
When they reach Rashanar the usual fun begins- hijacked shuttles, kidnapped crew members… But we finally discover what the Ontailians are hiding. The “gravity sink” at the center of Rashanar is actually a vortex to another universe made of anti-matter. The vortex is an intelligence. The shapeshifting ship gathers and returns the anti-matter that has escaped. Colleen Cabot destroys the vortex with a photon torpedo. But then Cabot ends up being killed by some Orion pilots. (Oh I might have forgot to mention that she and Wesley had a thing for each other.) Then the Ontailians hijack the Enterprise intending to sacrifice it to the shapeshifting ship. The ship arrives and knocks out Enterprise’s power. But the crew have a nasty little surprise awaiting it. Wesley has them set the auto-destruct sequence and then all hands abandon ship. The shapeshifting shipe mimics everything about the Enterprise even down to the small detail that the ship is counting down to its own destruction. Wesley uses his diminishing ability as a Traveller to steer the false Enterprise away from the real ship. He succeeds in moving away, but the last trace of his Traveller abilities abandons him. He ends up having to use the transporter to go to the real Enterprise just in time to see the other ship blow up. He realizes that this was the vision he had in fact seen.
Although the crew discovers the truth, Picard isn’t really cleared. Oh the Admiralty know the truth, but if they re-opened the case, they would have to find that the Ontailians had some culpability in the destruction of the Juno. Due to the recently ended war, the Federation cannot afford to lose any of its members.
At the end of the book, Wesley’s mentor returns for him. It turns out that Wesley has passed his final test to become a Traveller.
I liked this book. It was different from other Star Trek books in that it dealt a lot with Wesley’s character. As you should know, Wesley left the Enterprise several years before this story to become a Traveller. His experiences during this time was an untold tale. This book explored what it meant for him to give up his humanity. Travellers were only to observe; they were never to interfere. So the ending suggests that we might hear more from Wesley in the future. I think the title refers to the destruction of the shapeshifting ship. The ship was semi-intelligent. When the vortex was destroyed, the ship lost its purpose. Right before in mimicked Enterprise, Wesley had a moment of empathy with this ship. At that point, Wesley too felt that he had lost his purpose.
So the next book is A Time to Sow. The Enterprise is sent on a science mission to chart an area of space which was home to a long ago destroyed planet.