Cmdr Riker, report to bridge.
On the way.
Harry! Come back here.
What's your hurry?
Sorry, Commander. I was just...
- Sorry if he bothered you. - No bother, Dr. Bernard.
I'm not going back. I hate that teacher and I hate calculus.
Everyone needs an understanding of basic calculus, like it or not.
You're limping.
A run-in with an aspiring sprinter.
- Number One. - Problem?
More a curiosity.
We've been tracking faint energy readings to locate its source.
It's like following a trail of breadcrumbs.
The pathfinder led us here and then stopped,
which I knew would interest you.
- What's our position, Geordi? - The Epsilon Mynos system, sir.
Captain, you're right. I wouldn't miss this.
What's so interesting about this system?
I'm surprised you haven't heard of Aldea, the wondrous, mythical world.
Like Atlantis of Ancient Earth, or Neinman of Xerxes VII.
Advanced culture, centuries old. Self-contained. Peaceful.
Incredible technical sophistication providing for all citizens,
who turned themselves over to art and culture.
- Where is it? - That's the myth.
Legends say the Aldeans were able to cloak their planet in darkness
and go unseen by marauders and other hostile passers-by
who might rob and plunder.
- What a wonderful fairy tale. - Scanners still show nothing.
Scanners may show nothing, but I'm sensing something very strong.
Thousands of minds.
- From where? - Very close.
All stop, and hold this position.
Aye, sir. All stop,... and hold.
I'm recording a distortion in quadrant one, mark 9-0.
On screen.
- Shields and deflectors up. - Aye, sir.
It's Aldea, Captain. It has to be.
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, star date 41509. 1.
Either by chance or intent, we've been led to the planet Aldea,
which appeared out of nowhere, hidden behind a shielding device.
Sensors indicate that the shield is electromagnetic,
a complicated light-refracting mechanism.
- A cloaking device? - Aye, sir.
It must be pretty sophisticated to hide a planet.
We're being scanned, sir.
We'll let them know our peaceful intention. Open hailing frequencies.
Frequencies open, sir.
I am Rashella. Welcome to Aldea.
I am Jean-Luc Picard, Captain of the USS Enterprise.
- We come in peace. - We know.
We've heard stories about Aldea, but I never believed they could be true.
Our shield has confused outsiders for millennia, Captain.
That's a very long time to have such technology.
Why do you reveal yourselves now?
We are eager to meet to discuss that,
and other subjects of mutual interest.
- We're ready any time. - Excellent.
We mean no harm.
Our arrival seems to have startled you.
It was a little sudden.
I'm Radue, First Appointee to Aldea.
Welcome aboard.
They haven't been through decontamination.
Our Doctor is concerned you didn't go through our transporting procedure.
You couldn't transport us. The only way through our shield is our way.
Our cloaking device may be off, but our shield is operating.
We've brought you small tokens of welcome.
And a personal invitation to a celebration on Aldea.
That would be delightful. Number One, assemble the away team.
We will prepare for your arrival, Cmdr Riker.
- How do you know... - Your name?
We've been monitoring your ship's communications.
We must now return to Aldea.
Our eyes are very sensitive to bright light. Rashella.
To exist only in that dream world of myth,
and then suddenly to be here.
They placed the breadcrumbs. We're not here by accident.
Do you sense anything?
They want something from us, something we value greatly.
So much that they're afraid we won't part with it.
We are ready to receive you, Cmdr Riker,
and two of your colleagues.
Interesting choices.
I hope that Duana and I know how to greet you properly, Commander.
- How does the cloak work? - The theory is simple.
The shield bends light around the planet's contour,
like the Romulan cloaking device.
But the implementation is quite difficult.
- Captain? - Data, what do you read?
Some sort of scanning device, sir.
Don't touch him!
- It's from Aldea. - Shields up. Contact Riker.
- Worf, check decks. - Shields inoperable.
All decks being probed.
- All decks? The entire ship? - Aye, sir.
I can't reach the Commander. We're blocked.
Wesley, are you alright?
It was scary at first,... but I didn't really feel anything.
Sir, similar incidents all decks,... but only with the children.
Yes, we are an ancient power, but we've suffered for it.
Our history is littered with the deaths of Aldeans
who wanted more things. Nothing was ever enough.
So, we've evolved a simple way of living.
For whatever is taken, something is given in return.
- That seems an equitable code. - It's brought us peace.
Unfortunately, there are few of us left to enjoy it.
That is part of what we wish to discuss.
We need help from the Federation to rebuild our heritage.
We need a younger generation, strong and healthy,
following in the Aldean traditions.
How can the Federation help influence your children in your traditions?
Because we have no children, Commander.
Rashella was the last child born on this planet.
And your medical community can do nothing?
They've tried, Dr. Crusher,... and failed.
Perhaps we can help.
Exactly why were we invited here?
We propose a trade which would solve our problem,
and give something to the Federation.
The nature of this trade?
We need some of your children.
We'll give you information
that would take you centuries to acquire.
That might be acceptable to some other races,
but... humans are unusually attached to their offspring.
Our children are not for sale at any price.
We sympathize with your situation, but what you ask is not possible.
- And that's your final answer? - That's my only answer.
If there's another way we can help...
I'm sorry you are so intransigent.
Still no response, sir.
They've taken my son.
Saucer section reports six more children have gone.
It's the children.
That's why we're here. That's what they wanted.
And that's what they have.
Aldean shield still up. No response.
Keep trying. Counsellor, gather the parents.
They'll need to speak to you as well.
Captain, your children are with us.
My word of honour, no harm will ever come to them.
Harm has already come to them.
Let us begin discussions regarding appropriate compensation.
You have stolen our children from their classrooms and bedrooms,
and you talk about compensation?
You claim to be civilized, yet you have committed an act of barbarity!
Captain, we will continue these discussions when you've calmed down.
Wesley,... I'm frightened.
I know you are, Katie. We all are. But we're gonna be alright.
Everyone knows where we are.
No one is going to hurt you. I promise.
Greetings, Wesley Crusher.
The Custodian indicated that you would be the leader.
The Custodian? Who is the Custodian?
The Custodian is not a person.
You are here as our guests. We'll provide anything you need or want.
We want to go home.
Wesley, all of you have been chosen because you are... special.
Just ask for anything you want, and you shall have it.
What's happened to Alexandra and the other children?
- How are you getting them back? - Toya, sit down.
Don't give in to fear.
We all knew the risks when we signed on.
That's the choice we made.
Capt Picard will do anything to bring them back.
The Aldeans want to discuss compensation.
- Compensation? - That will buy us time.
Dr. Crusher will be involved in these negotiations
as your representative.
Why were these specific children taken?
We can't be sure.
We do know the Aldeans can't have children of their own.
Then they won't let them go easily.
I won't insult you by pretending that this will be easy.
But I can tell you that we will not leave them behind.
You can be assured of that.
Can we talk with our children? Give them some reassurance?
Let them know that they will be safe.
I'll do my best to arrange that.
The last time I saw him, I yelled at him.
There you are! I have you now!
Don't be alarmed. The other children have been assigned to their units.
A unit is a group where those of similar talents live together.
- Do you mean like a family? - You could call it that.
We already have families.
Does Capt Picard know about this?
We keep nothing from him.
We've been waiting for you so long, Harry.
We are artists, just like you.
We see within you your potential.
I'm not an artist.
You will be, and a great one.
This way.
Unit B, 375.
- I am honoured. - Thank you.
Melian is the foremost musician on Aldea.
Music speaks its own language.
We'll have much to learn from each other.
Don't worry, you'll be seeing Wesley soon.
What about me? Don't I get a say in this?
Wesley, sometimes something happens which you just must accept.
You are all now members of this society.
That will not change,
so make the transition as easy as possible for the others.
It's your duty because you are their leader.
Help them to accept it.
Nothing you or those on the starship can do can change it.
Because, like you,...
..we also have no choice.
Where have you been, Rashella? Zena and Aran are waiting for Alexandra.
- No. - No? I told you that she...
No, Radue. They can't have her. I will never let her go.
- Any response from Aldea? - Not yet.
Captain,... Data has found something interesting.
The Aldean shield gives evidence of random fluctuations,
weakening its structure in sections.
- There are holes in their defence? - In essence, yes.
I find it surprising that the Aldeans have not perfected their technology.
I'd assume they'd have repaired it.
Could we beam a team through those holes?
Possibly. It would have to be perfectly timed.
We may be able to decipher the code to transport through the shield.
- Can you do that? - I'm working on it now.
But the permutations are almost endless.
Keep trying.
Number One, you and La Forge try and find some way
of getting through one of those holes.
Somehow, an away team must locate the power source for the shield
and neutralize it.
- You're certain they'll negotiate? - They'll negotiate.
Or they'll call it that. They've taken what they want.
Now, they'll rationalize it by throwing us some bone.
And when we don't accept their offer?
Once they believe we won't accept their compensation,
they'll break off the discussion, disappear behind their shield,
locking us out and the children in,... for ever.
That's why I've got to keep them talking.
Custodian, Wesley Crusher's voice
will be entered into the authorized file for third-level clearance.
Proceed, Duana.
Announce yourself to the Custodian.
Hello, Custodian. I am Wesley Crusher.
Hello, Wesley.
Your voice will now activate third-level clearance.
What does that mean?
You may ask any questions you wish.
Thank you.
Duana, what does the Custodian do?
It frees us from burden, takes care of our needs.
It regulates our lives.
- Who built it? - The Progenitors.
- When? - Hundreds of centuries ago.
What is its power source?
Wesley, why is that important? It does what we ask. It always has.
What difference does it make how it works?
If you don't know, how can you repair it?
Why would we want to repair it?
From time to time, every computer, I mean, Custodian, needs maintenance.
Wesley, Radue was right.
You ask questions I can't answer.
Ask the Custodian instead.
Custodian, can you show me where Harry is?
Custodian, show me Harry.
I never did this before. It's fun.
You're making him into a sculptor?
He already is. He was just never encouraged properly.
That tool will allow him to bring out his visions.
- It'll take years to learn that. - No. It will happen quite quickly.
Custodian, show me Alexandra.
Custodian, show me Mason.
Stop, Custodian. We must work, now. There's much to learn.
What's in there?
The power source?
I don't know.
Captain's log, supplemental. We remain in orbit around Aldea.
It's becoming evident
that talk will not effect the return of our children.
We must neutralize the Aldean shield.
Until then, we are helpless.
Sir, Radue is hailing us.
- Capt Picard? - Dr. Crusher and I are ready, Radue.
Are you ill, Captain?
No, Dr. Crusher is a staff officer.
Starfleet regulation 6.57 requires that two staff officers
are present during any negotiations.
Very well.
Not much on pleasantries, is he?
Captain, I am not aware of regulation 6.57.
No, neither am l.
I see, sir.
Dr. Crusher, report to the bridge. We'll see what they have in mind.
Before we begin, we want to see the children.
No. We're here to negotiate compensation, not pander to emotions.
Please sit.
We do not condone your actions.
You're offering us goods in exchange for our children.
Why do you want them back? You can have more.
You're trifling with our primal instincts.
I must warn you that humans are willing to die for their children.
Returning the children is non-negotiable.
I promise you, they will have a beautiful life with us.
And they'll be parents to a new breed born of an ancient culture.
But how can you be sure that they can have children? You can't.
But they will. Our inability to bear children is a genetic dysfunction.
It's not contagious.
We... sympathize with your situation.
Surely there is a solution that can be mutually satisfactory?
For us, the problem is solved.
We're offering you information on areas of the galaxy
you do not even know exist.
What more can we offer? What more would you like?
A significant beginning.
But first, I ask that Dr. Crusher be allowed to see her son.
You are a stubborn people.
Well, that, too, can be a positive trait.
You may see him.
- I knew you all would get us home. - Not yet, Wes.
Are you OK? And the others?
OK. Really OK.
We've been assigned to our units, like families.
They're treating us like gods.
Don't let it go to your head.
I won't.
Wes seems fine. He says the others are too.
- Of course they're well. - You have our offer. It is final.
We want you to understand the nature of your choice.
A small demonstration of our power.
- What was that? - A repulser beam.
- Position report. - This is unbelievable, sir.
According to my calculations, we're three days from Aldea.
- At warp nine. - That's a small demonstration?
- Geordi, get us back to Aldea. - Aye, sir.
Captain, if you don't accept our terms,
the Enterprise will be pushed so far away,
that by the time you return, your children will be grandparents.
Captain's log, star date 41512.4.
We are 20 hours from Aldea, and no closer to a solution.
Their show of force pushed us out of orbit, and could have destroyed us.
Hold it a little bit more firmly.
That's it. Perfect.
Now, think... No, "think" is not right.
Feel the notes inside your head.
I'm sorry. Did I break it?
No, it's alright. You can't break this.
It did exactly what I thought... I mean, felt.
Yes, it's a direct reflection of the music within.
Now, we just have to teach you to structure that feeling. Try it again.
That was beautiful.
Now,... play something happier.
That's not the way I feel.
I don't want to do this any more.
See, Harry? I told you you would be an artist.
Are you sure? Did I really do this?
Oh, yes. Your talent has always been there.
The sculpting tool is just helping you develop it.
It's what you were meant to do.
I don't have to take calculus any more?
You don't have to do anything you don't want to do.
- What's calculus? - Nothing important.
Can I do some more?
Captain's log, supplemental.
It is three days since the Aldeans pushed us away.
We have had no contact with Radue since then.
- Open hailing frequencies, Lt. Yar. - Frequencies open, sir.
Radue, this is Picard.
Welcome back, Captain. What have you decided?
That there is room for discussion, Radue.
We will bring you down when we're ready.
- Data, defeat that shield. - That may be impossible.
Things are only impossible until they're not.
Here's what I've learned so far. Duana is dying.
I don't think the other Aldeans are any healthier.
They have chromosomal damage.
It could be genetic or environmental.
- That's why they can't conceive. - It explains their lack of appetite,
extreme pallor and sensitivity to light.
An entire civilization that's terminally ill. Is it reversible?
I won't know until I find the cause. And I know, time is running out.
Good work, Doctor.
- Have the lesions gone? - Yes. The medicine worked again.
Good. Come see what Harry's doing.
Yeah. It really turned out well.
It's so alive and graceful. What d'you call it?
It's a dolphin.
It swims in the ocean, like a fish, only it's not a fish.
A fish.
We used to have those in our oceans. I've never seen one before.
I used to live near the ocean on Zadar IV.
My dad's an oceanographer. He says that...
Never mind. It... doesn't matter.
I want Mommy.
You haven't eaten.
You didn't eat anything.
- We need very little. - We know you miss your family.
But you'll grow accustomed to us. I promise you'll be happy.
We were happy before we came.
We are offering more... especially for you.
Duana,... I feel badly for you that you have no children.
But I have to tell you that we don't want to be here,
and we will not cooperate.
Custodian's room.
Custodian, this is Wesley Crusher.
Proceed, Wesley.
Show me where the Enterprise children are in relation to here.
- Thank you. Goodnight. - Goodnight, Wesley.
I think I know a way to get us home. I need your help.
Chief Medical Officer's log, star date 41512.9.
I suspect that whatever is killing the Aldeans
is related to a danger faced by Earth in the 21st century.
Can it be that Aldea's ozone layer has been weakened?
Why will not talking or eating make them send us home?
It's called passive resistance.
We don't do what they want us to do, and they won't want us.
- Will they get mad at us? - They won't hurt us.
But, Wes, I do kinda like them.
So do l. But I don't want to stay here for ever. Do you?
No. But I like working with the wood.
Harry, we all have to be in this together, or it's not gonna work.
- I'll do it. - What are you all doing here?
What is going on here?
I've got it. The Aldeans are suffering from radiation poisoning.
- Is that why they're sterile? - Yes.
- Is it reversible? - With treatment.
Captain,... these permutations are going to take a very long time.
- How long? - Weeks.
- There is another way. - We defined weakness in the shield.
It's not a hole, it's a fluctuation.
It may be possible to beam onto the planet.
- Why don't we beam the children up? - The risk would be greater.
You and Data beam down. Find the power source. Knock it out.
I'll delay the Aldeans till you're ready.
Will you at least eat?
- No, Alexandra. - Why?
We can't eat. I know you're hungry. We all are.
But it's our way of saying we want to go home. Understand?
We're ready, Lt. Worf.
Captain, you may come down now to conclude our discussions,
or your ship may leave. It's your choice.
Dr. Crusher and I are prepared to conclude our negotiations.
Transporter room, now!
This is it, Commander.
It is programmed to accept only authorized voice command.
- We can't override? - No.
But I can scramble the input so that nobody else can.
Before we begin, Captain, you must speak with the children.
It seems they are on some sort of strike. I don't understand it.
You must deal with this, Captain. I'm... not very good with children.
Strike? I'll see what I can do.
I'm sure if we just stick together, guys, we'll all be...
Hi, Capt Picard.
- Sir, I knew you'd come. - It's not over yet, Wesley.
I think I figured out the computer, but I'm not sure.
- It's a different system from ours. - Good, Wesley. Now...
- Captain? - Yes, Harry?
If something happens and we have to stay,
will you tell my dad I'm sorry I made him angry, and... that I miss him?
You will tell him that.
And I will tell him how much I admire his son.
- Hello, Alexandra. - Hi.
What is this?
- They want to go home. - No. They're staying.
- Number One. - We're in position.
Hold for orders.
The radiation levels on Aldea have been building up over a long time.
It happened on Earth in the 21st century.
The ozone layer deteriorated,
and the planet was flooded with ultraviolet radiation.
The shield that protected your world is also weakening it.
The radiation of your own sun is destroying you.
You're trying to confuse the issue.
Please, listen. You're all suffering from radiation poisoning.
Sterility is only the latest symptom.
The children will be affected as well.
Impossible. Our scientists would have known.
How? They've forgotten how everything works.
- No. All lies. - No. Wait.
Don't send them back yet. What if they're right?
Instead of the children being our hope,
what if we're condemning them to our fate?
They're just protecting their interests.
As are we. But hear them out.
They are saying that the very thing which has given us this world
is what has caused this tragedy.
Exactly. Your Custodian has controlled you so completely,
you won't even question it.
Lies, and the discussion is over.
Cmdr Riker? I assume you have control of the computer?
We disabled it temporarily.
We neutralized the power source.
Good. Enterprise, this is Picard. Beam the children up.
- Wait. - Enterprise, hold.
Thank you.
Let me get the dolphin for you.
No, you keep it. I'll make another one.
- Alright, Harry? - Yes, Captain.
OK, kids. Let's go home.
Beam them up.
You have destroyed us.
We're not here to destroy you, Radue. We can help you.
What is it?
A legacy of your Progenitors.
The source of your power and of your problems.
It's reading incredible amounts of energy.
More since we've taken down the shield.
- What are we going to do with it? - Learn, all over again.
All this time, we've been destroying ourselves,
so sure of our technological invulnerability.
Now, we must learn to use this power safely.
- Will you let us help? - Yes. Please.
I want to be an artist. I don't want to take calculus.
You can be anything you want, Harry. Anything.
But... you still have to take calculus.
OK. Thanks, Dad.
It worked well, sir.
We have successfully re-seeded the ozone layer.
But for it to be sustained, they can never use the shield.
Or be cloaked again.
Are you finished?
Yes, and they're responding very well to the treatment.
The legend will die,... but the people will live.
We know they'll make good parents.
- Wesley! - Sorry, Captain.
She wanted to thank you for bringing her home to her mother.
Thank you.
Come on, Alexandra.
Mr. La Forge, out of orbit. Warp five.
Yes, sir. Certainly, sir.

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