Captain's log, stardate 42625.4.
We are entering orbit around the eighth planet
in this previously unmapped Theta 116 solar system.
We diverted from our course when a passing Klingon cruiser
reported discovering pieces of a strange vessel
in the upper atmosphere of this planet.
We have come to investigate.
Nasty. Nitrogen, methane, liquid neon.
Surface temperature, minus 291 degrees Celsius.
Winds up to 312 meters per second.
Not exactly a vacation planet.
Unless you like ammonia tornadoes.
But I have found indications of debris in an elliptical orbit.
Keep me informed. The sooner we know what the Klingons saw,
the sooner we can get out of here.
Sounds good to me.
Fermat's last theorem. You're familiar with it?
Vaguely. I spent too many math classes daydreaming about starships.
When Pierre de Fermat died, they found this equation
scrawled in the margin of his notes.
X to the nth plus Y to the nth equals Z to the nth,
where n is greater than two, which had no solution in whole numbers.
But... he also added this phrase. "Remarkable proof."
It's coming back to me. There was no proof included.
For 800 years, people have been trying to solve it.
- Including you. - I find it stimulating.
Also, it puts things in perspective.
In our arrogance, we feel we are so advanced,
and yet we cannot unravel a simple knot
tied by a part-time French mathematician,
working alone, without a computer.
Captain, we've found some debris in a loose orbit.
- Can you identify it? - No.
We could beam a section aboard for analysis.
Make it so, Number One.
We've locked onto something with markings.
- Of what sort? - Uncertain. Energize.
We've got ourselves a puzzle, Number One.
Sir, I guess we have.
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.
Analysis shows that the object was terrestrial in origin,
dated mid-21st century.
No, no Earth ship of that time could have travelled out this far.
That is what our tests indicate,
and the markings are consistent with this hypothesis.
Any indication of what destroyed it, Data?
That is more significant than the object itself.
On several surfaces, the molecules have disintegrated.
Almost as if they were hit by a weapon from our time.
Curiouser and curiouser.
Captain, we've detected a large structure on the planet.
It's a building of some sort, stood on a plane of frozen methane,
smack in the middle of a storm belt.
Incredible. It's surrounded by breathable air.
Is there any connection with that ship fragment we found?
- Unknown, sir. - Suggestions?
Just one. We could go down and have a look.
Breathable air. No life forms that might be dangerous.
I think we could risk a minimal away team, Number One.
Give me a moment, gents. This is an extremely narrow access point.
Phasers on stun.
Ready when you are.
We've got it. You have a green light, Commander.
Those ammonia storms are less than a kilometer away,
yet they do not penetrate this breathable zone.
- It's like the eye of a hurricane. - Commander, what is that?
The structure must be here, yet... we cannot see it.
Enterprise, this is Cmdr Riker.
As your read-out shows, this is an unusual place.
Completely calm, no sound, no movement,
yet a few hundred meters away, a storm is raging.
Any information about the structure?
There is an antique revolving door. Could be an entrance.
A revolving door? Number One, proceed with caution.
Well, this is what we came here for. Captain, we're entering.
Enterprise to away team, come in.
We're receiving no signal at all from them, sir.
Transporter room, lock on to them. Beam them up.
We've nothing to lock on to, sir.
Riker to Enterprise, we've entered the structure.
Riker to Enterprise, come in.
Come in, Enterprise.
When they went through that door the signal disappeared, sir.
What's causing the interference?
- Unknown. - Are they receiving us?
No. We'll have to recalibrate all the frequencies to find one that works.
Then do it.
Sir, without communication we should beam up immediately.
We're here, there's no danger. We'll look around, then leave.
Checking in, gentlemen? Use the front desk.
Very good. We'll start with that.
Have a nice trip?
- Do you know us? - We've been expecting you.
A trio of foreign gentlemen.
We're from the United Federation of Planets.
Of course you are. Welcome to the Hotel Royale.
Excuse me. Did Rita call?
- I'm busy. - You're busy?
This is my life I'm talking about. Now did Rita call or not?
No. And for your own good you'd better quit thinking about Rita.
I'm not afraid of Mickey D.
Then you're a fool. Anybody with any sense is afraid of Mickey D.
If Rita calls, you let me know.
Kid's asking for trouble. Rita's too much for him to handle
and Mickey D will plant his face in the pavement.
Now, here are your room keys.
And some complimentary casino chips.
What is this place?
How did a being like you get here?
Why, this is the Royale, of course.
And my personal life is none of your business, thank you.
- He means what planet is this? - I beg your pardon?
This planet, what do you call it?
Earth. What do you call it?
We call it Theta VIII.
- Commander. - Yes, Data?
None of these people are emitting life signs.
You mean they're not alive?
Then what are they?
These beings, ... are they machines?
Or mere illusions designed to deceive us?
Not illusion, Lieutenant. They do exist.
But they do not register as either man or machine.
Take this creature, for example.
He does not exhibit any DNA structure.
Excuse me, son.
Look who's talking.
Man, you sound just like my ex-wife.
Alright... Time to get down to business.
What sort of business do you suppose he is getting down to?
We're trying alternate encoding schemes.
There could be hundreds of combinations.
Is there an intelligence causing this interference?
That's impossible to tell, Captain.
It's unlike Cmdr Riker not to follow procedure.
When he lost contact with us,
he should have returned to the beam-down coordinates.
I don't feel he's in any danger.
In fact, if I could choose one word to assess his mood,
it would be "amused".
Put some chips there, mister. Yes, sirree!
- You're new here, aren't you? - Yes, sir.
Sit down. I'm gonna teach you how this game is played, boy.
Go ahead. Ante up.
He wants you to cut the cards.
- Is this poker? - No, blackjack.
Also known as 21, the number which defines the object of the game.
Picture cards are worth ten, aces one or eleven,
all other cards face value.
Boy, you're right.
Run 'em, boy. Make 'em nice.
- 21, 21 ... - Don't look at your hand, honey.
That gal has got to win.
Now honey, you got 15 and the dealer's showing ten.
Do I hit, Texas, or do I stand?
If you've gotta win, you've gotta hit.
Shoot... Hit me.
21 . And a winner. Yes, sirree!
- Another. - Do you think you've had enough?
If the objective of the game is to approach a total of 21 points,
- I definitely need another card. - Yeah.
You have got the brass!
Do you know the odds on a five-card charlie?
Hell, you're just throwing your money away.
Shut my mouth!
Are you one of them card-counting fellas?
The number of the cards and their values
remain constant. Where is the purpose in counting them?
- Yeah. - Having fun, Data?
There is a certain amount of enjoyment but I'm researching...
- Save it. Let's get out of here. - Yes, sir.
- You're holding up the game. - Our apologies.
I'll watch your chips.
Thank you, sir.
Deal 'em up.
We've accessed the range of alternates.
The problem is the frequency range. Interference is highly variable.
It may be due to the envelope over the structure,
causing hydrogen-carbon helix patterns throughout.
So transmissions are scattered and refracted at random.
- No wonder you can't get through. - Exactly.
Those are fairly aggressive computations.
I'm comparing the molecular integrity of that bubble against our phasers.
- Is penetration possible? - I don't know. It may be an option.
I'd like to run this test.
Make it so.
Let's try that again.
Let's find another way out of here.
Excuse me. Aside from the main door, is there another exit I might use?
Say, I was wondering if you could tell me...
There's a good deal of structural integrity, Worf.
- Permission to use phaser, sir. - Granted.
Sir, I can find no other exits. I believe we are trapped here.
Captain's log, supplemental.
We remain in orbit around Theta VIII,
still out of contact with the away team.
We're almost there, Captain. We can attempt contact in a few minutes.
Captain, the situation down there has changed.
In what way?
Cmdr Riker... has become tense.
Closed in, he's feeling trapped.
Phasers are ineffective on all surfaces.
- Our options appear limited. - We don't have any.
We're going to have to get out on our own.
I want some answers from that desk clerk.
Are you crazy?
Wrong. I'm finally gettin' some smarts.
You won't scare Mickey D with that gun.
I'll make him leave Rita alone.
Kid, she's a big girl. And she's Mickey D's girl.
Not any more. Not after tonight.
Look, kid, I don't wanna see you get hurt, especially over some dame.
Don't call her that.
You'll see. You'll see how tough Mickey D is.
- I want some answers. - The concierge...
- I want to get out of here. - The exits are clearly marked.
That's not good enough.
If you have a complaint, you can always take it up with the manager.
Fine. I'd like to see him. Now.
I'm afraid the manager is very busy.
- Riker, can you read me? - Yes.
There's a good deal of interference, but you are getting through.
Why haven't you left that building?
We tried, sir. We're trapped. We're in no immediate danger
but I am concerned.
Your location is interfering with communication. We are working on it.
Standing by, sir.
- These frequencies are unstable. - Then find others.
What is going on down there?
I am picking up something unusual in another area of this structure.
- It appears to be human DNA. - Where?
31.9 meters above and to the right of us.
Perhaps those turbo lifts could take us there.
Seems to be malfunctioning.
The reading I received is from behind this door, sir.
My reading is intensifying, sir.
- Are you getting any life signs? - None, sir.
Definitely human. Male.
Looks like the poor devil died in his sleep.
What a terrible way to die.
He has been dead for 283 years, sir.
The lack of advanced decomposition is due to the sterile environment.
Why would anyone go to all this trouble?
It's just window-dressing for a dead man.
Is this significant, sir?
52 stars, sir.
Places it between 2033 and 2079 AD..
It correlates with the debris we found.
Colonel S Richey.
Rest in peace, Colonel.
Picard to Riker.
Finally. Riker. Go ahead.
- Coming through clearly now. - What's your situation?
This structure was made to resemble 20th-century Earth.
All attempts to exit have failed.
We can't transport you back yet.
I assumed not. We have also found human remains.
Request identity scan. Col Richey, American, first initial S.
- Roughly the same time period. - Do it.
Books. A novel.
Hotel Royale? Summarize, please.
Information retrieved, Captain.
- Number One? - Go ahead, Captain.
We have the information you requested.
Col Steven Richey was the CO of the explorer ship Charybdis,
which had a terrestrial launch date of July 23, 2037.
It was the third manned attempt to travel beyond Earth's solar system.
Its telemetry failed. It was never heard from again.
Do you believe you've discovered the remains of Col Richey?
Yes. And we've found something else, a novel by Todd Matthews,
Hotel Royale, the name of this structure.
Captain, this is the story of a group of compulsive gamblers,
caught up in crime, corruption and deceit.
It is told by nefarious lothario, Mickey D,
who appears only at the climax,
to carry out the cold-blooded murder of the hotel bellboy.
There is a subplot about an older man conspiring with a young woman
to murder her husband. She squanders her inheritance...
Everything that Data just described seems to be happening at this hotel.
There's also a diary with only one entry,
obviously made by Colonel Richey.
- Can you read it? - Yes.
"I write this in the hope that it will some day be read by human eyes."
"I can only surmise that our exploratory shuttle
was contaminated by an alien life form
which infected and killed all personnel except myself."
"I awakened to find myself here in the Royale Hotel,
precisely as described in the novel in my room. "
"And for the last 38 years...
I have survived here."
"I have come to understand
that the aliens created this place for me out of some sense of guilt,
presuming that the novel we had on the ship about the Hotel Royale
was in fact a guide to our preferred lifestyle and social habits."
"They thought this was the world from which I came."
"I hold no malice for my benefactors,
who could not know the hell they put me through. "
"For it was such a badly written book,
filled with endless cliché and shallow characters,
I shall welcome death when it comes."
I understand, Number One.
Now we know why all that is there.
Why can't you get out?
- Number One. - Yes, sir?
Lt La Forge has a thought.
He believes we can phaser a slice in the field around the structure.
Then the atmosphere of the planet would rush in.
Projected survival would be approximately 12 seconds.
Correct. The cryogenic process would be nearly instantaneous.
- I assume you could revive us? - Yes.
- In theory. - You must understand, Number One,
we'll wait for months if necessary. We're just considering options.
If you're trying to motivate us to find a way out, you've succeeded.
There is a female voice asking if we want room service.
I believe she is asking if we want the room cleaned.
Tell her no.
What did she say?
She said the kitchen will be open 24 hours if we change our minds.
Let's explore the hotel. We'll keep a comm line open.
Check the lobby for anything we missed.
Talk to the guests, find out who they are.
I'll check the rest of the floors.
Computer, locate and display the text of the novel
entitled Hotel Royale by Todd Matthews.
If the cause of the difficulties is in the novel,
we may find the solution within its pages.
"It was a dark and stormy night."
It's not a promising beginning.
It may get better.
I suggest we separate and blend in with these beings.
Casual queries, offered inconspicuously, may prove fruitful.
I need a four. Gimme a four.
How much do I have left here?
Honey, it's bad luck to count your chips at the table.
Excuse me, sir. Might I enquire, where are you from?
And how did you get here?
Vegas? Drove my car. I got a '91 Caddy with only 85 miles on it.
- Where is your automobile now? - Out front, I suppose.
- What difference does it make? - Could you take me there?
I'm losing my shirt.
Son, why would I want to do that? I'm trying to help this little lady.
I believe you are trapped inside the Royale, just as I am.
Sure seems that way when you're losing.
We're tryin' to turn this lady's wagon around, win back some change.
Else she's in a desperate situation with nowhere to turn.
Well, almost nowhere.
I stay, right?
The odds favour standing pat.
What do I do?
Do you want a card or not?
I've almost lost it all.
What am I gonna do?
- What did you find? - Nothing.
- Rita just called. - What did she say?
It was hard to tell. She was crying.
Crying? Damn. Mickey D thinks he can treat people any way he wants.
Well, that's all over now.
You were told!
It's not for you to make the call. It's for Rita.
Well, she sent me to tell you.
OK, boys, look. We can't afford trouble in here.
Why don't you take this outside?
Yeah, I like that. Come on, baggage man.
Let's you and me take it outside.
When I was a kid, I looked up to you guys.
The suit, the fancy shoes.
I really thought that made you somebody,
but you're a nobody. I wish I could make something...
I don't believe this dialogue. Did humans really talk like that?
Not in real life. Remember, everything going on down there
is taken from what Col Richey calls a second-rate novel.
She could do something with her life...
With your permission, sir?
She's somebody. She's my girl.
The only reason she stays with you is because you feed her sickness.
You gotta let me help her!
Why don't we go outside and talk about it?
Just watch yourself.
It's all part of the novel. Don't interfere.
You should've listened to me, kid.
No woman's worth dyin' for.
Killing for, ...
..not dyin' for.
- Riker to Enterprise. - Yes, Number One.
A bizarre incident just took place.
The shoot-out between the bellboy and Mickey D.
Yes. And Mickey D just walked out. How?
It's on page 244.
The novel, right. How does it end?
A bad love affair ends in a bloody shoot-out,
the hotel gets bought out,
and life goes on, such as it is.
The hotel gets bought? By whom?
It's not specific. It refers to foreign investors.
Sale price, 12.5 million United States dollars.
They return home, leaving the assistant manager in charge.
..that's how we're getting out.
We're buying this place.
It is a question of probability.
Quite simple, if one bets with sequential consistency.
Combinations of seven or eleven have much value,
if achieved on the primary attempt.
With eight variations to create those totals,
- the chance is not significant... - OK.
- Can you do it? - I believe so, sir.
Eight's the point. Eighter from Decatur. Do it.
Single digits on each cube are not at all desirable.
- You're almost broke. - Relax, honey. It's only money.
If you lose it, I might not have a place to sleep.
Don't worry your head, honey, I'd never let that happen.
Let's go, babe. Here they come.
- Your turn, Slick. - Go to work.
Maybe this turkey will bring us some luck.
- Six is your number. - My blind grandma can make a six!
Come on, roll 'em!
I thought seven and eleven had value.
Actually, six is a valid point.
Now the objective is to roll a duplicate six, then a seven.
But the probability of a six is no greater than a seven.
There is a degree of random fortune involved.
That is why they call it gambling.
Seven. Seven away. Next shooter.
- So much for your new turkey. - Give Slick another shot.
I got a feeling about you, boy.
Commander, these cubes are improperly balanced. Their resting position...
- Can you repair them? - I believe so.
I will make another attempt.
Baby needs a new pair of shoes.
Eleven! Attaboy! Do that again, we're all gonna get well!
- Seven, a winner! - And another one!
Keep goin', boy. We got a hot one!
- Double 'em up. Here we go. - Keep 'em rollin', boy.
Seven, a winner.
Status, Number One.
Rather a nice run of luck, Captain.
- Don't get out of character. - Sir?
The foreign investors in the book are seen as "flamboyantly generous".
Yes, sir. I understand.
Seven! Look at that.
Tex, darlin', ...
Yeah. And I'm good-lookin', too!
- Isn't that enough? - No. Don't want to come up short.
- You are keeping count? - Yes, sir. 12.3 million.
Perhaps I will bet... 700,000.
No, bet it all.
Sir, the price of this edifice is 12.5 million.
We need some spreading around money.
- Sir? - Bet it all.
Here, something for you, Ziggy.
For the cocktail waitresses. Run this out to the parking lot attendant.
- You're very kind, sir. - Here, a little something for you.
When the train comes in, everybody rides.
Yeah. And I'm getting off at this station.
After 18 passes, air gets a little thin for this country boy.
- I'm bettin' against you, fella. - Are you nuts?
That is not a prudent choice, sir.
That's what horse racing's about. Roll 'em.
Seven, a winner.
The man has the touch.
You knew you were going to throw that seven.
You let me go down the tube.
I tried to caution you, sir.
What was it? Was it personal, or what?
Because I didn't show you my car?
I wish to cash in, sir.
I'm afraid you've broken the bank.
Just take 12.5 million for this hotel. Spread the rest around.
You're the foreign investors.
We just bought this place, lock, stock and barrel.
Consider it a done deal.
I like you fellas.
You got style. Let me buy you guys a drink.
Just enjoy the game. Don't let them change the dice on you.
You got it.
Enterprise, this is the away team. We're clear.
Three to beam up.
Time to come home now, Number One.
Transporter room, lock on the away team. Beam them up.
- Sir. - Welcome back, Number One.
Very strange experience. Puzzling.
I can't comprehend how Col Richey's vessel travelled so far.
Not on its own at any rate.
Perhaps they were brought here
by whoever created that make-believe world.
It's possible they didn't know how fragile the humans aboard were.
Only one of them survived.
None of it makes any sense.
Like Fermat's theorem, it's a puzzle we may never solve.