Captain's log, star date 41590.5.
Having dropped off Counsellor Troi for a visit home,
we were fortunately close to the Sigma Ill system
when its Federation colony made an urgent call for medical help.
An accidental explosion has devastated a mining operation.
Include a burn unit with each kit.
Identify the most critically injured and beam them to cargo bay six.
- Dr. Crusher, this is the Captain. - Dr. Crusher here.
Additional information. The number of colonists at the site is 504.
- Are you prepared for that many? - We believe so, sir.
Captain, we are now at warp 9.1, sir.
We will be at the colony in 3.2 hours, sir.
Schematics suggest the explosion was caused
by a methane-like gas seeping in from underground.
Captain, I'm picking up a force field. It's...
The Q entity. It's identical to the grid we encountered...
- It reads solid, sir. - Emergency. Full stop.
Reversing power, sir.
Not now, damn it, Q.
Shields and deflectors up, sir.
Now reading full stop, sir.
Humans. I thought by now you'd have scampered back
to your own little star system.
If this is Q I'm addressing, we are on a mission of rescue...
We the Q have studied our contact with you, and are impressed.
We have much to discuss,
including perhaps the realization of your most impossible dream.
Intriguing as that is, we are on an urgent journey. After, perhaps...
You will abandon it! My business with you takes precedence.
If my magnificence blinds you, then perhaps something more familiar.
Starfleet Admiral Q, at your service.
Space, the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.
Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds,...
..to seek out new life and new civilizations,...
..to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Captain's log, supplemental.
Our rescue mission to Sigma Ill has been halted by an immense grid
and an untimely visit from Q.
You're no Starfleet Admiral, Q.
Neither am I an Aldebaran serpent, Captain, but you accepted me as such.
He's got us there, Captain!
The redoubtable Cmdr Riker, whom I noticed before.
You seem to find this all very amusing.
I might, if we weren't on our way to help some suffering, dying humans...
Your species is always suffering and dying.
No, Lt. Worf! Make no move against him unless I order it.
Pity! You might have learned an interesting lesson.
Macro head with a micro brain!
You said you had the realization of impossible dreams to offer us.
When this rescue is completed, I will listen to your proposal.
Subject to its being acceptable...
Subject to foolish human values? Picard, why do you distrust me so?
Why? At our first meeting, you seized my vessel.
You condemned all humans as savages
and tried us in a post-atomic 21st-century court of horrors,
attacked my people and again seized my vessel!
And that angered you? "Seized my vessel!"
You interfered with our Farpoint mission.
You threatened to convict us as ignorant savages,
if, while dealing with a powerful life form,
we made any mistake, and when we didn't...
The Q became interested in you.
Does no one here understand your good fortune?
"Seized my vessel!"
The complaints of a closed mind,
too accustomed to military privileges.
But you, Riker, and I remember you well, what do you make of my offer?
We don't have time for these games.
Games? Did someone say games?
And, perchance for interest's sake, a deadly game?
To the game.
Where are we?
A Class-M world. Gravity and oxygen within our limits.
Twin moons. Where are we?
Considering the power demonstrated by Q the last time,... anywhere.
Assuming this place even exists.
But it won't be boring. If Q is anything, he's imaginative.
Seems our Captain wasn't meant to be here.
Security, this is the Captain.
Engineering, this is the bridge.
Turbo lift control, do you read?
This is the Captain.
Sir! Over there!
Join me, Riker. A good game needs rules and planning.
Didn't your own Hartley say,
"Nothing reveals humanity so well as the games it plays"?
Actually, you reveal yourselves best in how you play.
Sir, what he has in mind might provide us with vital information.
Incredible. I was just thinking about an old-fashioned lemonade.
And so it became that. An excellent thirst-quencher.
It gets rather hot out here on this plain.
What about my people?
Whatever they'd like, of course.
"Drink not with thine enemy."
The rigid Klingon code. That explains something of why you defeated them.
Still fascinated with the human past? Perhaps you're not that original.
Au contraire. It's the human future which intrigues us.
And it should concern you the most.
Of all the species, yours cannot abide stagnation.
Change is the heart of what you are. But into what? That's the question.
That is what humans call... a truism.
- You mean hardly original? - You're the one who said it.
While we're at it,... this isn't part of any human future.
True. I borrowed this from your stodgy Captain's mind.
This is the dressing for a game we will play.
Now, games require rules, rewards,
dangers, familiar settings. That sort of thing.
This isn't that familiar to me. Data?
This is from Europe's Napoleonic era. Late-18th, early-19th centuries.
This is a campaign-headquarters tent.
His uniform is that of a French Army marshal.
Outranking even an admiral.
Would I go from a Starfleet admiral to anything else?
Of course you wouldn't.
But Napoleonic equipment on an alien planet,
one so different it has twin moons?
As you said, I am nothing if not imaginative.
The game should reflect that.
Shall it be a test of strength? Meaningless, since you have none.
A test of intelligence, then? Equally as meaningless!
But it needs risk, something to win. And something to lose.
If we must play a game, what would we win?
The greatest possible future you can imagine.
Which requires something totally disastrous if you lose.
The point of this game shall be,
can any of you stay alive?
If your game is fair, we will.
For shame, Worf!
Fairness is such a human concept. Think imaginatively!
This game shall in fact be... completely unfair.
- You've gone too far! - Game penalty!
Where is she, Q? You can forget your game...
To use a 20th-century term, she's in a penalty box.
She'll remain there unharmed unless one of you merits a penalty.
Unfortunately, there's only one box.
If any of you are sent there, dear Tasha must give the box up.
And where does she go?
I entreat you to obey the rules of the game.
The only one who can destroy your Tasha now is you.
Damn it. I can't even make a log entry.
I wish I could help you, Captain.
Where is everyone else?
Down on some planet.
- Some planet? Why are you here? - Well, l...
It sounds strange...
..but, I'm in a penalty box.
A penalty box?
Q's penalty box. It sounds strange, but it definitely isn't.
I know that one more penalty,...
..by anyone,... and I'm gone.
- Gone? - Yes! I am gone!
It is so frustrating to be controlled like this!
Tasha, it's alright.
What in the hell am I doing? Crying?!
There is a new standing order on the bridge.
When one is in the penalty box, tears are permitted.
If you weren't a captain...
Consorting with lower-rank females?
Especially ones in penalty boxes? Destructive to discipline, they say.
But then again, you're what? Only human.
A marshal of France?
One takes the jobs he can get.
For example, star log entry, star date today.
This is Q speaking for Capt Jean-Luc Picard,
who we consider too bound by Starfleet customs and traditions
to be useful to us.
The Enterprise is now helpless, stuck like an Earth insect in amber,
while its bridge crew plays out a game, whose real intent is to test
whether the First Officer is worthy of the greatest gift the Q can offer.
So, you're taking on Riker this time.
Excellent. He'll defeat you, just as I did.
Shall we wager on that? Your starship command against...
Against your keeping out of humanity's path for ever!
- Done? - Done. You've already lost.
Riker will be offered something impossible to refuse.
Geordi, can you see Worf?
I'd see the freckles on his nose if he had them, sir.
He's at the third ridge.
The third ridge?
Moving well, too.
Good. He sees them.
Listen to me, Q. You seem to have some need for humans.
Concern regarding them.
Why do you demonstrate it through this confrontation?
Why not a simple, direct explanation, a statement of what you seek?
Why these games?
Why these games? Why, the play's the thing!
I'm surprised you need ask. Your human Shakespeare explained it all.
He did but don't depend on one view...
A pity you don't know the content of your own library.
Hear this, and reflect.
"All the galaxy's a stage..."
World, not galaxy. "All the world's a stage."
You know it. If he were living now, he'd have said galaxy.
How about this? "Life is but a walking shadow,
a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more."
"It is a tale told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
I see. So how we respond to a game tells you more about us
than our real life? This... tale told by an idiot.
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps a little Hamlet?
I know Hamlet. What he might say with irony, I say with conviction.
"What a piece of work is man. How noble in reason."
"How infinite in faculty."
"In form, in moving, how express and admirable."
"In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god."
You don't see your species like that?
I see us one day becoming that, Q.
Is it that which concerns you?
Those soldiers have formed a skirmishing line, I think it is.
And they're headed this way.
Armed with ball-and-powder muskets?
That's what they look like, sir.
Muskets are appropriate to the 1790-1800 French uniform, sir.
But it is hardly a weapon by our standards.
A lead ball propelled by gunpowder. 100 meters at best, with accuracy.
Against phasers? Just one phaser could finish off an entire regiment.
Except that it hardly sounds like Q to give us an advantage like that.
Drop your weapons!
That was me, Worf. I was checking that the phasers still operate.
Incredible. He came out of nowhere.
A warrior's reaction.
Report. What did you find?
They may wear old Earth uniforms, but they aren't human at all.
More like vicious animal things.
Those soldiers are moving in fast, sir.
Data, if you've got a theory about what's happening...
Think fast, Cmdr Riker, and move fast.
Those aren't muskets!
You have one chance to save them. Send them back to the ship.
You'll let me beam them?
Send them the same way I do. I've given you the power.
Do you understand? I've given you the power of the Q.
Use your power.
Use your power.
Lieutenant, take the conn position. Engineering?
- Engineering, sir. - Are all systems back on line?
Back on line, sir? They were never off.
Captain, you'd better look at this.
There's been no interruption in course or speed. Both are constant.
It's as though we never stopped.
We never did, Lieutenant.
Q suspended time.
- Where's Cmdr Riker? - He was with us.
He must still be on the planet.
We were under attack by these... animal things.
- Animal things? - Maybe Data can explain better, sir.
You may find it aesthetically displeasing. I'll file a report.
Sir, the important thing is why is Cmdr Riker missing?
Understood. But I suspect Cmdr Riker is perfectly safe,
at least in a physical sense.
Q has an interest in him.
In fact, Q's entire visit concerns our First Officer.
- And the reason for that, sir? - I wish I knew.
Q first became interested in him at Farpoint.
I have no idea what it means.
Meanwhile, we must proceed with our rescue mission.
Something amuses you? Perhaps you'll share the joke with me.
The joke is you!
from one who has been granted a gift beyond any human dream.
How can you not appreciate being able to send your friends to their ship,
or send the soldiers back to the nothingness from which they came?
You must understand that you can send yourself back to the ship,
or to Earth, or change your shape, become anything you want to be.
- What do you need? - Need?
You want something from us. Desperately.
Want something from you foolish, fragile nonentities? Come, Riker!
You sound like your Captain.
Now, that's a compliment, Q, but not an answer.
Riker, we have offered you a gift beyond all other gifts!
Out of the goodness of your heart.
After Farpoint, I returned to where we exist, the Q Continuum.
Which means what?
The limitless dimensions of the galaxy in which we exist.
- I don't understand. - Of course you don't.
And you never will, until you become one of us.
Until? Would you mind going over that again?
If you'd stop interrupting me!
This is hardly a time to be teaching you the true nature of the universe.
At Farpoint,... we saw you as savages only.
We discovered instead that you are unusual creatures,...
..in your own limited ways.
Ways which, in time, will not be so limited.
Something about us compels us to learn, explore.
Yes, the human compulsion.
Unfortunately for us, this power will grow stronger,
century after century, a eon after a eon.
A eons... Have you any idea how far we'll advance?
Perhaps in a future that you cannot yet conceive, even beyond us.
You see, we must know more about this human compulsion.
That's why we selected you to become part of the Q,
so you can bring to us this human need and hunger,
that we may better understand it.
I suppose that's meant as a compliment.
Or maybe it's my limited mind.
But to become a part of you?
I don't even like you.
You're gonna miss me.
Come on! Not again!
Cmdr Riker, what's going on? I was sitting in school and...
Worf! My phaser's gone. Are you armed?
Where is Q? lf you have an answer to any of this...
No, damn it!
Damn it to hell!
You did that!
And that's not all!
That grid, their wounds...
Only the Q can do that.
Captain's log, star date 4159 1.4.
12 minutes out from Quadra Sigma Ill,
where the survivors of a disaster desperately need us.
On the Enterprise, First Officer William T Riker
needs help nearly as badly.
But this is a subject far out of my experience.
Out of any human's experience.
How the hell do I advise you?
You know the implications as well as l.
No one has ever offered to turn me into a god before.
What the Q has offered you has to be close to immortality.
It's no lie about controlling time and space.
- We've seen it in what they can do. - And in what I can do.
If you are to refuse his offer, you must not use this power again.
It's too great a temptation at our present stage of development.
You fear I won't be able to say no?
You tell me. Are you strong enough to refuse to use that power?
No matter how tempted? No matter how difficult Q makes it?
You have my word.
Good. I know what your word means.
In orbit of Quadra Sigma Ill.
Ready to beam down rescue team to underground emergency area.
This way, sir.
Are there any others?
Gone. It's just us.
There's somebody under here!
You're getting close, Data.
It's too late. She's dead.
If only we'd gotten here a little sooner.
Sir, if indeed you have the power of Q...
I don't understand. Certainly you can't bring her back to life.
I can't. I'm prevented from that by a promise.
I was wrong to make that agreement. I could have saved that child.
You were right not to try. Once you get accustomed to that power...
When I used it before, I saved most of our bridge crew!
And when you grow to like it too much?
As soon as it's convenient,
I want a meeting with you and your bridge staff.
As soon as we are secure with this rescue operation,
I'll discuss all that this new power...
We can confer here, if no one objects.
The bridge is fine. I've called the entire staff.
Correction. Knowing the decision you face,
I have permitted you this gathering.
Of course, Jean-Luc.
Wesley, this meeting is not for you.
Why not, sir? You helped make me a bridge officer.
Alright. He stays.
Because I've been given unusual powers, I'm not suddenly a monster.
Except for these abilities, and I don't yet know how far they go,
I'm the same William T Riker you've always known.
Everyone still looks uncomfortable.
Perhaps they all remember that saying, "power corrupts".
And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
You believe I haven't thought of that, Jean-Luc?
And have you noticed how you and I are now on a first-name basis?
Will,... something has happened already.
In what way?
Haven't you seen how much I regretted not saving that child?
Using the power of Q to save her may not have been wrong.
No more than it was wrong to save you from those soldier things.
Let's keep in mind that that particular danger was invented by Q.
What we represent to the Q, Commander, are lowly animals,
tormented into performing for their amusement.
Actually, they think very highly of us.
We have a quality of growth which they admire.
No, we've learned the Q do not admire us.
The Q has muddled your mind.
Don't you understand his incredible gift to me?
Are these truly your friends, brother?
Let us pray. For understanding and for compassion.
Let us do no such damn thing! What is this need of yours for costumes?
Have you no identity of your own?
I come in search of the truth.
You come in search of what humanity is!
I forgive your blasphemy!
Don't you see, Riker?
He's nothing but a flimflam man. He has been since we met at Farpoint!
You offer Riker jealousy.
What I offer is clearly beyond your comprehension.
How can you claim friendship for Riker,
while obstructing the greatest adventure ever offered a human?
Obstructing? Then it's not certain. He's not yet committed.
The truly evil part of this is your jealousy.
You love each one of your people.
Demonstrate it. You have the power
to leave each one of them with a gift proving your affection.
There'd be no harm to give them something I know they'd like?
A plea to his former Captain.
"May I please give happiness to my friends, sir? Please, sir?"
In fact, I authorize and support your idea, Riker.
Please, feel free to cooperate with him if you wish.
- Are you certain, sir? - Quite certain.
By all means, demonstrate your gifts of affection.
Don't be frightened. There is no way I could harm any of you.
Shall I guess your dreams?
We'll leave now, Wesley.
No! Wesley I may know best of all. Our friendship, our long talks...
Have your favourite wish, my young friend.
You're ten years older. A man!
But it's what you've always wanted, to become human.
Yes, sir. That is true.
But I never wanted to compound one... illusion with another.
It might be real to Q,...
..perhaps even you, sir.
But it would never be so to me.
Was it not one of the Captain's favourite authors who wrote,
"This above all: to thine own self be true"?
Sorry, Commander, I must decline.
And you, my friend. I know what you want.
You're as beautiful as I imagined.
Then we can throw away the visor?
I don't think so, sir.
The price is a little too high for me.
And... I don't like who I'd have to thank.
Make me the way I was.
Proud warrior Worf!
Without a single tie to his own kind.
She is from a world now alien to me!
Worf, is this your idea of sex?
This is sex.
But I have no place for it in my life now!
No place, micro brain? What possesses you?
Cmdr Riker, it's too soon for this.
Is this because your mother objects?
I just want to get there on my own. Honest.
But it's easier, boy! Listen to Riker!
How did you know, sir?
I feel like such an idiot.
Quite right. So you should.
It's over. You have no business here.
You have destroyed yourself.
- Pay off your wager. - I recall none!
Your fellow Q know you agreed never to trouble humans again,
just as they know you failed to tempt a human to join you.
No! lf I can do one more thing...
I strongly suspect it's some explaining you have to do now.
Captain, we are showing that same hole in time again.
Our instruments say we just beamed back from our rescue mission.
Sir, how is it that the Q can...
..handle time and space so well, and us so badly?
Perhaps someday we will discover
that space and time are simpler than the human equation.
No coordinates laid in, Number One?
Yes, sir. You have my coordinates, La Forge.
On the board.