In 1893 a time-traveling Jean-Luc Picard encountered a long-lived alien named Guinan, who was posing as a human to learn Earth's customs. During this ""first encounter,"" Picard saved Guinan's life, a favor she would never forget. Five centuries later, Captain Picard, now commander of the Starship Enterprise , brought Guinan aboard as the ship's ""bartender."" The hope was that her wisdom and inner peace would provide a moral grounding for Picard's crew as they experienced the dangers of space. Because he hadn't yet made his trip through time, Picard had no knowledge of his nineteenth-century meeting with Guinan. But he did remember a different first encounter with the mysterious El-Aurian -- a tumultuous adventure in which Picard and Guinan would risk their lives in a maze of interplanetary intrigue, with the future of the known universe at stake. This is the story of that fateful meeting, and of a Guinan very different from the woman we think we know -- a person wracked by pain and longing, shaken to the roots of her soul. A Guinan who yearns for oblivion.