Captain's log, star date 41463.9.
We have been asked by the Federation
to visit a group terraforming Velara III.
Communications have been erratic,
and there is concern about their welfare.
Entering standard orbit... now.
It takes special people to live in such desolation.
Visionaries who see the planet as it will be.
I'd love to see terraforming in operation.
- Lt. Yar, hailing frequencies. - Frequencies open, sir.
Velara Ill base, this is Capt Picard of the Starship Enterprise.
No malfunctioning equipment, sir. They are receiving us.
Velara Ill base, come in, please. Over.
Maybe no one's home.
We are sensing life forms, sir.
Velara Ill base, do you copy?
Velara base to Enterprise.
Yes, Captain, I'm Director Mandl, and...
I'm sorry about the delay, but we weren't expecting visitors.
Terraform Command has asked us to see how you were getting along.
We were behind but we're back on schedule.
I'd like to hope we'd be allowed to maintain that schedule.
We alarm him for some reason.
Your staff are well, I presume, Director?
Understandably tired. We're working very hard, Captain.
If there is anything we can do...
You and your staff are very welcome aboard for a rest.
- We have holodecks you'll enjoy. - No disrespect,
but we cannot afford the time.
- Channel closed. - His fear is escalating.
If you’ll excuse me, I must get back to work.
I sense deliberate concealment, sir.
- Of what? - I don't know, but it's intense.
We've heard of your remarkable achievements in terraforming.
My crew would appreciate looking around.
This is not really the best time. We are at a very critical phase.
We require no special attention.
I'm trying not to be rude, sir,
but this is really very inconvenient.
He is concealing something. It's more than being too busy.
Your announcement about coming down has sent him to a point of panic.
Well, whether he wants us or not.
Unless you're absolutely refusing us permission to land at your station,
prepare to receive our away team.
As you wish.
- Counsellor, you'd better go too. - Aye, sir.
Someone that tense can be unpredictable. Stay on your toes.
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.
Welcome to Velara Ill. Please...
Remember it as it is now.
In two decades, you won't recognize it.
Luisa Kim. Gardener of Eden’s.
Cmdr Riker, USS Enterprise. This is Counsellor Troi, Lt. Yar,
Lt. La Forge, Lt. Cmdr Data.
Arthur Malencon, hydraulics specialist,
and Bjorn Bensen, Chief Engineer.
An android?
And third-in-command of the Enterprise.
Where were you manufactured? Are there others like you?
Both matters are subjects of protracted discussion.
Excuse me.
We don't get many visitors. It's exciting to have you here.
We weren't sure how we would be received.
Director Mandl was less than enthusiastic about our interest.
I should apologize for him. We are at a critical phase.
- Usually he's charming. - We'll stay out of the way.
We've never seen a terraforming station and...
..we appreciate the opportunity.
How much do you know?
Theories, reports, but nothing first-hand.
Wonderful. Let me show you what we do. Newcomers find this...
The other two are secretive, but she is open.
What we're doing is so exciting, so inspiring.
We take a lifeless planet...
..and transform it to an M-Class environment,
capable of supporting life.
..makes you feel a little God-like.
The first phase involves selecting the planet. That's very important.
It must have the right mass, gravity,
correct rate of rotation, and a balanced day and night.
The planet must also be without life
or the prospect of life developing naturally.
The Federation determines if that's so. Then, we take over.
This station is phase two. Phase three involves water.
Usually we create basins using hydraulic landscaping,
but the water on this planet is subsurface,
and extremely high in salt content.
We're just about to begin pumping and filtering the water.
Removing the salt, oxygenating and replacing.
Next,... we introduce micro-organisms.
And when the process is complete, we'll have a lush, arable biosphere.
You make it sound poetic.
I think it's the best job in the universe.
The efficiency of your hydraulic landscaping is quite elegant.
It isn't yet, but it will be.
Right now I'm disturbed by the erratic power surges
in the servo-mechanisms that control the hydraulic probes.
Could it be caused by the high saline content?
- That was my first thought, but... - Arthur!
The factors do not support that conclusion.
I'm Director Mandl, and I'm sorry about having been so abrupt earlier.
Being isolated, one forgets the social graces.
- Are you seeing everything? - What you're doing is miraculous.
What we're doing is working a demanding timetable,
and there will be no miracle
unless Malencon here gets the hydraulic probes back on line.
We are set to step up to full conversion immediately.
Shouldn't you be in the hydraulic chamber?
- Alright, Kurt. - Geordi.
This appears to be the master subsurface pump.
You're right. Very impressive.
It's interesting. The water table is a thin ribbon
between the surface layer and the rocks below.
And the two surfaces follow that contour so precisely,
the water maintains a consistent depth between them.
Which would require extreme precision from the probe controls.
Here we have something that may be of interest to you.
A vegetation graph.
It is, really, the key centre for successful terraforming.
It's planned month by month, decade by decade?
Every single thing is specific and exact.
You see grand, Romantic concepts.
I see unyielding rock under an ocean of sand.
- Commander! - What is it, Deanna?
Malencon. He's in trouble!
Can you open it?
It's jammed!
First Officer's log, star date 41464.3.
A routine visit to a terraforming site
has turned into something more serious.
Arthur Malencon has been critically injured by a laser drill,
which appears to have malfunctioned.
Situation report, Number One.
We're shutting off all power before entering to recover the body.
We'll beam him up to sickbay,
but looking at his wounds, it's probably hopeless.
Keep me informed.
- Data? - Go ahead, Geordi.
All set.
Data, the section is powered down.
Bensen has locked the master servomotor drive,
so it should be safe.
- I'm going in. - I will too.
Transporter room, this is Lt. Yar. Two to beam up to sickbay.
I want to go. We should be with him.
Kurt, please come too.
Transporter room, this is Riker. Beam up four, at my coordinates.
Geordi, this is intriguing. I've seen malfunctions.
But this...
It's almost as if the laser drill seemed to operate
with a will separate from its control console.
I can't explain it.
The laser blasts seemed to end when the yelling stopped.
Maybe Arthur stopped it, only not in time.
Not possible.
- Then what are you suggesting? - Uncertain.
Geordi, please return power to the control console in this room.
- I will reactivate the program. - You got it.
I am now running the base-drilling program.
- Geordi! Servos off! - They are off!
- What's happening? - Too much to explain.
Can you open that? La Forge to the Enterprise. We have a problem.
Be specific.
Data's under fire in the hydraulics room.
Get him out of there!
- It's not working! - We've gotta get this door open!
Away team, now! What is happening?
- I'll beam him out of there. - Bridge, this is Lt. Cmdr Data.
No need to beam me up. The situation is under control.
- Are you alright? - Yes.
Well, what happened? Did you set it off?
No, but the firing program was dynamic.
The firing...? In what way?
It adjusted to my tactics. It tracked with me, anticipating.
A fixed program could not do that.
Someone was controlling the aiming-and-firing sequence?
That is how it appeared. There was a mind working against me.
What did you do to this laser drill?
A year's work destroyed!
I had no choice.
We were attempting to trace the malfunction when it attacked me.
How much of this useless fantasy do I have to listen to?
None. I have provided temporary quarters for you and your staff.
Make use of them.
You're overstepping your authority. You have no right to interfere.
An attack on my crew gives me the right.
- I have a schedule to meet. - It's on hold,
till I have an explanation of this.
Lt. Yar, escort the Director to his quarters.
Aye, sir.
Go on with your report.
The laser's drilling system was reprogrammed, sir.
When its memory bank received power,
it turned itself on and went after me.
- I was able to cope. - Not by much, from what I saw.
I believe it was programmed to destroy any person in that room.
Certainty? Speculation?
That would require a master programmer's talents.
But it was done.
So the question is not who,
since it was one of the three terraformers.
The question is, why? What are they hiding?
What could be so important
that one or all of them could be desperate enough to kill?
Shall I have them brought in?
Not yet.
- Malencon? - I couldn't save him.
The injuries were too severe. Damage too extensive.
The Velara Ill facility has been powered down.
We have a power feed to the life-support systems.
Data, I want you and Geordi to return for more careful inspection.
- What are we to look for? - Evidence of negligence.
Sabotage, whatever. The answer's there.
Tasha, I want you to provide personnel records of our guests.
Profiles, training. I'm looking for motive, intent,
the psychological capacity to commit murder.
Aye, sir.
We are becoming detectives, Number One.
Not much left of this drill.
Geordi, I need some visual assistance.
What is it?
Nothing but basic elements.
No carbon. Sandy texture.
Those flashes are almost... musical.
I... see colour variations and... rhythms, in complex harmonies.
Speculation. Could it be alive?
How could it be alive? It's inorganic.
Whatever it is, it could be what they are covering up.
And the reason someone killed Malencon.
Captain's log, supplemental.
Data's startling discovery of a possible life form
has been beamed aboard so that its true nature might be uncovered.
But unlike life elsewhere, it appears to be completely inorganic.
- A test for inorganic life. - It has never been done.
There are basic definitions for organic life.
Must have the ability to assimilate, respirate, reproduce,
grow and develop, move, secrete and excrete.
- Would any apply here? - Perhaps growth and development.
- Reproduction? - Yes.
Those may be basic for any definition of life,
organic or inorganic.
You're charting unknown seas. How do we proceed?
Let's use the basic scientific method.
Observe, theorise, and attempt to prove it. Activate.
Let's be sure of what we're dealing with. Is the sample organic?
Negative carbon. Negative known life components.
Substance inorganic.
- Recheck analysis, please. - Rechecking.
Analysis verified. Not organic.
Magnify the screen.
Factor five.
Hold surface.
Factor ten.
- What are we looking at? - It's beautiful, whatever it is.
What's that hum?
It started after Dr. Crusher ordered the scanner to magnify.
Computer, demagnify. Resume normal scan.
Everyone stand back.
Step back again.
It's us!
- Yes. We're causing it. Why? - Unknown.
But it is definitely reacting to our presence.
Perhaps it is picking up the electrical impulse of our systems.
The flashes haven't changed. Could the hum be connected to them?
Computer, magnify.
What is the magnification?
2,500 diameters.
Analyze the pattern of the flashes.
Not repetitive or sequential. Pattern not recognized.
What is the flashes' source?
Unable to specify. Theoretically not possible from this substance.
Disregard incongruity... and theorise as to source.
What do you mean, a life form? What life form?
A Federation recon expedition certified Velara Ill lifeless.
Understandable, given this particular life form's novel nature.
What is that nature?
Dr. Crusher is still making her determination. Mr. Mandl,...
..you know the Prime Directive.
Are you saying that I knowingly defied it?
You're a man obsessed with what you do.
Who knows what an obsessed man will do to keep going. Kill, perhaps?
I create life.
I don't take it.
You hit him hard, Captain.
- What do you think, Counsellor? - It was useful.
I felt two levels.
He did know about the life form. But the idea of murder shocked him.
The idea, or just being accused, I can't tell.
What about his file, Lt. Yar?
Could he have accomplished the reprogramming Data described?
Mandl has degrees in computer science and artificial intelligence.
It's possible.
What about the others? The victim?
Only the victim had the required expertise.
Malencon did work where the... whatever it is was found.
Suppressing that knowledge would be motive for murder.
If Mandl were obsessed enough.
Terraformers are often obsessive. It goes with the career profile.
How do you read the designer?
She is possessed of highly abstracted reality. Lovely visions.
Little data.
But you might do better than l.
It's not locked.
Mind a visitor?
Is it true?
Did you really find a life form?
The debate is still going on in some quarters, but I think so, yes.
What's it like?
We have nothing we can compare it with. It's microscopic. It...
It seems colonial, simple. But it's inorganic.
Which is why the recon scouts missed it. It was not your mistake.
Everything I've worked so hard for...
..is falling apart.
It's very beautiful.
I could arrange for you to see it.
Perhaps later.
Captain, this is Dr. Crusher. You'd better come to the Medical lab.
- What is it? - Geordi observed movement.
Not movement, but a shift in the energy pattern.
- Without external influence. - The hum has gone. Why?
Unknown, sir. Perhaps it is scanning us.
Why? What could it hope to learn?
- Unknown at this time, sir. - It's changing.
- I don't see anything. - The infrared range is increasing.
Warning. Input overload.
- The hum is back. - Projecting an energy field.
And it's intensifying.
Magnification deactivated.
Two of them!
Only life can replicate itself, Doctor.
Inorganic or not, it is alive.
Activate quarantine field.
Quarantine field full.
Full shield backup.
Evacuating lab.
Translation request being patched.
Translation? From whom?
What's wrong with the translator circuit?
Bridge, this is the Captain.
Request emergency power to initiate lab quarantine seal.
- Do it, Mr. Worf. - Aye, sir.
- What's the problem, Captain? - We know Data's discovery is life.
But more than that, it is intelligent life.
How do you know, sir?
It's trying to communicate with us.
Captain's log, supplemental.
The inorganic life form has taken over our Medical lab.
Its energy is interfering with surrounding systems.
- Can we see into the lab? - Negative.
Reducing backup to the quarantine seal might help.
- Doctor? - I wouldn't.
- Continue quarantine. - Aye, sir.
Director Mandl and the others are in the observation lounge.
Counsellor, I need you. You have the bridge, Number One.
Director Mandl, once again, what do you know about these life forms?
- Not a thing. - Enough!
Sit down, Lieutenant.
You are deliberately evasive and it must stop!
You have kept information from me.
An alien life form has taken possession of my Medical lab.
- You knew of its existence. - Yes.
Is this true? You knew there was life on Velara Ill?
I knew that there were random energy patterns, yes.
But not life. Not by any definition that I've ever heard.
You kept that knowledge from us.
No! They are meaningless silicon crystals, which rebroadcast sunlight.
It is a life form, and has intelligence.
- Why do you say that? - It's trying to communicate with us.
Communicate with you?
When did you become aware of them?
Tell them about the pattern in the sand.
Yes, do tell us.
When we first arrived, we noticed that in certain areas
the sand had a sparkling effect,
like... sunlight bouncing off new fallen snow.
- What did you think it was? - We did not give it any thought.
Picard, I must point out again
that we were assured, not once but many times,
by the best scientific minds in the Federation,
that this planet has no life. No life!
And we were not looking... and therefore we did not see.
Alright. At first you dismissed it.
But then you began to understand that there was something
that was different about them.
You can't know that.
Your apprehension suggested it, when we first arrived.
Tell me about these patterns.
At first we thought it was just a natural phenomenon of Velara Ill.
Refraction and a thin atmosphere is interesting.
- But certainly not life. - Why was I never told about this?
Because it's not particularly important.
As the building of the terraforming station went forward,
the patterns in the sand ceased being random and became specific.
Geometric shapes suddenly appearing, disappearing,
changing location, changing size...
Did you ever feel that these patterns
were attempting to communicate?
No. Never.
I don't know. At the time, I didn't think so.
But now, after hearing what you just said...
Now, I don't know.
We've regained magnification of the life form. It's divided again.
Patch visual to observation lounge.
There was no indication of any of this on Velara Ill.
Absolutely none.
I cannot understand the patterns.
Neither can l.
Show me spectral analysis, magnification 12 K.
- Silicon, germanium. - Transistor material.
- Gallium arsenide. - Emits light when charged.
- Cadmium sulphide. - Emits charge when lit.
Water, impurities, sodium salts.
- But is it alive? - Probability positive.
I wasn't asking you.
- Engineering to bridge. - Cmdr Riker. Go ahead.
The backup on the lab seal is fluctuating, sir.
I think you should come down.
On my way.
Data, you've got the bridge. Inform the Captain.
Status, Ensign?
The quarantine seal is getting weaker, sir.
Every time I try to redirect backup, it goes somewhere else.
I think I've... No...
It's locked three people in a turbo lift
and two more in the programmers' restroom.
There is no seal. Give me lab interior image.
Yes, sir.
Picard, this is Riker.
We see it too, Number One.
Get that seal back up.
No matter what I do, the energy goes somewhere else.
What if it hits the sickbay?
Hold on. Impossible, Captain. We haven't got the power.
Captain's log, supplemental.
The life form, which has significantly increased in size,
is again attempting to communicate with us.
The universal translator is coming on line, sir.
Ugly,... giant bags of mostly water.
"Bags of mostly water"?
An accurate description of humans, sir. You are over 90 percent water.
Life force, do you understand us?
We understand.
We ask that you be gone. We call. We talk. You do not listen.
We didn't hear you. We come in peace.
Ugly bags of mostly water.
We try at peace. You still do not listen.
Bags who drill in sand of home have to die.
It killed Malencon.
We see and hear you now. We didn't know you were there.
You are beautiful to us.
All life is beautiful.
Bag in dome did know. Caused much death. Made us kill.
War is now with you.
The translator is off line, sir.
Can you hear us now?
- Mr. La Forge? - Restabilising, Captain.
Sir,... that chaos when we were studying it in the lab
must have been the energy surge of a reproductive cycle.
It is now a colony of single cells organized as a computer.
- And like any computer... - More is stronger.
Captain's log, supplemental.
We regained visual contact with the lab
but our attempts to restore communication with this "micro brain"
have been unsuccessful.
One thing that is certain. This life form has declared war on us.
Their influence is concentrated in the Medical lab.
Non-essential personnel have gone to distant areas of the ship.
Any analysis on those bolts of light it emits?
A method of reprogramming.
Each bolt consists of negatively and positively charged ions.
A series of program instructions.
It has a rapport with our computers.
What do you expect? It is a computer.
Have we disabled the Medical lab computer console?
As soon as Data determined its method of operation.
Captain, picking up a decrease in infrared intensity.
Maybe it reached its energy level.
Or maybe it's not the end.
With single-celled life forms,
at least organic ones,
cell division is preceded by a resting state.
The calm before the storm?
Medical lab on main viewer. Let's use this calm.
It does seem dormant, Captain.
Set coordinates to beam it back where it came from.
- Coordinates set, sir. - Energize.
Transporter power being redirected, sir. We are unable to affect it.
Life form or not, intelligent or not,
the safety of this ship is my primary responsibility. Data!
Evacuate the air from the lab. I want a vacuum there.
Environmental systems failed to respond to command.
It appears the micro brain has interfaced with our computers.
If it did try to communicate, we didn't understand!
It has declared war and we are on the defensive!
We are without a lab or a computer. It has the power to destroy this ship
and everybody on it!
- I need your help. - Unbelievable!
It said you were trying to kill them. How?
I don't know!
What was Malencon doing when he was killed?
There is a thin layer of saline water under the topsoil.
He was siphoning that off.
Perhaps somehow that saline water sustained them.
It connected them.
- I don't understand. - They may be like our brain cells.
A cell has life, but not intelligence.
Yet interconnected, their combined intelligence is formidable.
The saline fluid is their circuitry.
To prevent its loss, they killed Malencon.
If we had continued to remove that water,
we would have destroyed them all.
Reason enough for anyone to go to war.
Captain, it's happening again. You'd better get in here.
It'll tear up the Enterprise.
- What can you determine? - Captain,
the micro brain expends a tremendous amount of energy
during its reproductive cycle.
Yet there is no power drain on our systems.
- What is feeding it? - We found traces of cadmium salts.
Cadmium converts infrared into electricity.
- Meaning? - It might be photoelectric.
Kill the lights in the lab. See if darkness will neutralize it.
It still has control of the computer. We can't do it.
Number One, lights.
The life form must have evolved
where the light got through the sand to the water.
Drop the water a centimeter below the light-penetration level
and they starve.
Killing the lab lights... now.
It's slowing down.
It's getting dimmer, too.
More light, please.
Only if you will talk to us.
We die. Bags of water kill us.
You are like others.
We have no wish to kill you. We never have.
You do not say truth.
We will end this war, if you will end the war.
Darkness. Death. Terrible.
Must go home to wet sand.
War over.
Agreed. We will send you home to your wet sand.
Picard to Riker.
Bring up the lights in the lab... a bit.
Are you better?
We mean you no harm.
- Do you believe me? - Yes.
Good. It is important that you trust us.
Not yet.
You are still too arrogant.
Too primitive.
Come back three centuries.
Perhaps then we trust.
We understand what you are saying.
We will leave you.
We will send you home.
Riker to Transporter Chief.
Pick up the coordinates of the jar in the lab
for return to Velara Ill.
Coordinates entered, sir.
Riker to bridge.
Captain,... we're ready to beam it back to the planet.
- I wish we learnt more about them. - In time, Mr. Data.
When we're better prepared.
I wanted to create a place where living things could thrive,
and all the while I was about to destroy the life that is there.
- Our apologies. - And respects.
- Lt. Yar? - Coordinates set, sir.
Captain's log, star date 41464. 8.
I have declared an indefinite quarantine for Velara Ill.
We are returning to Star base with the surviving terraformers.
Perhaps the lesson we learned from this near-tragedy
will prevent it from happening elsewhere.

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