Captain's log, stardate 42779.1.
We're en route to the Epsilon IX Sector
for an astronomical survey of a new pulsar cluster.
In the meantime, Ensign Crusher will divert to Starbase 515
for Starfleet exams.
This came in for you from Starfleet.
- Testing parameters? - Do not be apprehensive.
I found the Academy examinations quite elementary.
You would.
Your earlier results earned you a credit for your work here.
- Don't worry about it. - Cadets are extremely competitive.
- You have the practical experience. - Cmdr Riker is correct.
The information imparted at the Academy
is unquestionably vital for prospective Starfleet officers,
but it requires a significant period of supplementary systems training
- and situational disciplines. - Didn't I just say that?
Yes, sir, but not quite as perspicuously.
I will not have you telling me what course to set.
As Chief Medical Officer, I am ordering you.
- Report to Starbase 515 now. - Please! I feel fine.
The truth is, you've ignored this far too long.
This ship has a mission to carry out.
An astronomical survey to be conducted by science officers.
I was looking forward to seeing the Epsilon Pulsar Cluster myself.
Then we'll perform the procedure here.
Absolutely not!
My staff and I are capable of giving you the replacement.
That's not the point. It would be...
It would be inappropriate for you to do the procedure.
Capt Picard, I had no idea.
You do have an ego, don't you?
You're concerned about your image.
Don't worry.
If you get yourself to Starbase 515, your image will be safe with me.
- Captain. Excuse me. - Ensign.
I'm told you're leaving for Starbase 515.
Yes, sir. I was just going.
I have business there. I shall accompany you.
You will?
- I mean, yes, sir. - Prepare shuttle for departure.
Aye, sir.
Something I can take care of for you on Starbase 515?
- Hardly, Number One. - You'll miss the Epsilon survey.
I'm well aware of that. You have the bridge. Carry on.
Come. What is it, Number One?
Anything wrong? This trip to Starbase 515 is rather unexpected.
Ensign Crusher and I will rendezvous with you on your return.
Forgive my saying so, sir, but you're being rather enigmatic.
- Call it Captain's privilege. - I have complete security clearance.
This has nothing to do with ship's business.
Suffice it to say, it is strictly a matter of... image.
Relax, you'll do fine on your exams.
They don't worry me. It's Capt Picard.
Why? He's not taking the exams.
Just the two of us, in a shuttlecraft, for six hours.
What am I going to talk to him about?
Archaeology, semantics, literature, art.
You could learn a lot from him.
Capt Picard!
Nice day for a little trip.
Shuttle number two, ready for departure.
The Enterprise is at impulse speed. You are cleared for takeoff.
Data, didn't the Captain look forward to the mission
- to the Epsilon Pulsar Cluster? - So he said.
Then what would make him leave the ship now?
Commander, receiving a mayday on all frequencies.
- Source? - Rhomboid Dronegar Sector 006.
- Detail? - Ship. Unidentified.
Distress. Nothing more.
Set course for Rhomboid Dronegar 006, warp seven.
That would put us at considerable distance from Capt Picard.
I know, Data.
I know.
Space, the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.
Its continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds,... seek out new life and new civilizations,... boldly go where no one has gone before.
Entering Rhomboid Dronegar Sector 006.
I have a ship on target path.
- Slow to impulse speed. - Aye, sir.
- Deploy shields, sir? - Hold fast. Data?
Basic early design. Capable of sub-light travel only.
- Sir, we are being hailed. - On screen.
Cmdr William Riker, USS Enterprise, responding to your distress signal.
What is your problem?
We are far from home.
Aren't we all? But you sent out a mayday.
Do you need help?
We are Pakleds. Our ship is the Mondor.
It is broken.
We are far from home. We need help.
So their rubber band broke, right?
Sensors show engineering problems.
Total guidance system failure, with less than 24 hours' reserve power.
- Maybe I can help. - What brings you so far from home?
- We look for things. - What were you looking for?
Things we need.
Can you be more specific?
Things that make us go. We need help.
What is the nature of your mission?
We look for things.
Did you hear an echo?
I could get that ship going in no time.
- Sure? - Yeah.
Very well. Our Chief Engineer will beam over.
Do we truly need to send our Chief Engineer to them?
They need our help.
Why not give them the information they need to make their own repairs?
Do you think they could handle our technical specifications?
We know nothing about them.
Acknowledged, Mr Worf. We have an obligation to render aid.
Report to the transporter room with necessary gear.
- We need more information. - Do you have anything else on them?
- They are quite a benign species. - Don't they seem a little slow?
They may merely have poor language skills.
What about weapons?
- Scanners show limited armaments. - I think we can relax, Mr Worf.
They can't even move without our help.
We have them outmanned and outgunned.
ETA, 1330 hours, sir.
It's not exactly warp speed.
More like a late-22nd-century interplanetary journey.
You should read more history, Ensign.
Yes, sir.
- A complete waste of time. - Pardon?
I shouldn't be taking this trip. I should be on the Enterprise.
Why are you coming with me to Starbase 515, sir?
Well, it's certainly not my idea.
I'm sorry, Ensign. I didn't mean to take it out on you.
I just hate the prospect of another damned cardiac replacement.
Cardiac replacement?
I didn't know.
Well, now you do.
- A parthenogenic implant? - What else would it be?
My heart was... injured.
A replacement was necessary.
That would have been it, except that the replacement is faulty.
Why would anyone use a faulty replacement?
Just pilot the shuttle, Ensign.
Wait a minute, it's OK.
I'm... here to help.
We are far from home.
- Who's in charge of Engineering? - My friend. His name is Reginold.
Could I meet him?
- He is Reginold. - I think you mentioned that.
We look for things.
- So I've heard. - Can you make our ship go?
Yes. I think so.
We look for things to make us go.
Fellas, why don't you just show me where your guidance system is, OK?
Excuse me.
He is smart.
- Lt La Forge is on an alien ship? - Yes.
We're assisting some curious throwbacks.
How they ever mastered space travel is a curiosity.
Commander, those aliens,
what they feel is not helplessness. Lt La Forge is in great danger!
He's in danger. Great danger.
- Can you be more specific? - It's not our help they want.
Our help is all they'll get. They can't use force, can they?
You think they're weak.
Look at them. They're not Jarada or Romulan.
Our Betazoid Counsellor is aware of things beyond our perceptions.
Van Doren's technique has been perfected to 2.4 percent.
The cardiac-replacement procedure, it has a very low mortality rate.
2.4 percent.
Those are pretty good odds.
Just not overly thrilled at having my innards
becoming the subject of Starfleet gossip.
Of course not, sir.
Why didn't you just have Dr Pulaski perform the operation?
I'm sure you could have trusted her to keep it quiet.
Let's say I have personal reasons and leave it at that, shall we?
The power needs to be rerouted through this venturi chamber
before it can be channelled to the engine's coils.
- It is broken. - Yeah, but not for long.
See, we are going to reconfigure these separators,
here, and... over here.
- Lt La Forge? This is Cmdr Riker. - Yes, Commander? Go ahead.
- Are you alright? - Sure. Why do you ask?
Counsellor Troi has expressed misgivings about your absence.
There's nothing to worry about.
Understood. Once you complete the repairs, get back here.
Yes, sir. I should be done momentarily.
You see? Like that.
Your guidance is now up and running.
Main power failure?
Will our ship go now?
Your guidance is operational,
but you're not going anywhere, not with a main power failure.
It is broken.
Can you make it go?
Cmdr Riker?
- I have a problem. - On screen.
It looks like this will take longer than I anticipated.
I guess you'd prefer Cmdr Riker as a travelling companion.
It's OK. You're not too comfortable with me.
I understand.
Ensign... Wesley, that's not true. You're a fine young man.
You don't have to say that, sir. It's pretty obvious how you feel.
Is it? How so?
Everyone knows. You don't like kids.
That's too bad.
You'd have made a good father.
Thank you.
Didn't you ever wish you had kids of your own?
Wishing for a thing does not make it so.
We send him to do one repair, now they need him for more.
Apparently, their ship is quite fragile.
This is Riker on the Enterprise.
Almost got it, Commander.
We look for things.
Apparently your ship is in need of more than minor repair.
- Things to make it go. - We will tow you to a nearby base.
He can make it go.
But we need our Chief Engineer back on our ship.
He is smart.
All done, Commander.
- Prepare to beam over. - Yes, sir.
- You are good. - We aim to please.
- We need you. - I'm flattered.
Fellas, I hate to repair and run, but if you'll excuse me.
One to beam aboard!
- Transporter room, beam him back! - Negative response, sir.
- Try again! - Negative response.
- The Pakled ship has a shield up. - A shield? What kind?
It seems beyond their technology. Similar to Romulan shields.
Do not interfere with our transporter beam. Drop your shields.
Viewer transmission terminated... and blocked.
- Hail on all frequencies. - Running frequency search.
- Negative, sir. - They're ignoring us.
Apparently so.
- Shields up. - Shields up.
Sensors at maximum sensitivity.
- Sensors at maximum. - Phasers ready, sir.
Care for some coffee, Ensign?
No, thank you, sir.
How about a sandwich?
I don't think so, sir.
Come on, it's been hours. You must be hungry.
Thank you, sir.
Were you ever married?
Never had the time.
Don't you ever get lonely?
For ambitious Starfleet officers, there are certain costs involved.
One must be cautious of long-term commitments, Wesley.
No problem. Where women are concerned, I am in complete control.
I always rather had to work at that.
Were you always so disciplined?
Good Lord, no. If I was, I wouldn't have this problem.
I don't understand.
I was a young Starfleet officer, not much older than you are now.
Top of my Academy class.
Green as hell.
And, oh, so cocky.
Too cocky, as it turned out.
What happened?
Several friends and I were on leave at Farspace Starbase Earhart.
It was little more than a galactic outpost in those days.
Before the Klingons joined the Federation?
That's right.
Well, my mates and I were at the Bonestell Recreation Facility,
which was something of a dead-rough crossroads at the time,
filled with an assorted bunch of galactic riffraff.
A trio of Nausicaans came in,
clearly spoiling for a confrontation
with a group of fresh-faced Starfleet officers like ourselves.
Well, everyone had the good sense
to give these Nausicaans a wide berth, to stand off.
Everyone, that is, except me.
I stood toe to toe with the worst of them.
I told him what I thought of him, his pals, his planet,
and I possibly made a reference to his questionable parentage.
And the next thing I knew,
all three were on me and I was fighting for my life.
I was actually doing quite well for a while.
You fought them... and won?
I had this one Nausicaan down in this somewhat devious joint-lock,
when, unbeknownst to me, one of his chums drew his weapon
and... impaled me through the back.
Curious sensation, actually. Not much pain.
Shock, certainly,
at the sight of serrated metal sticking through my chest.
A certain giddy warmth.
In fact, I do actually remember that I laughed out loud.
Well, it pierced my heart, of course.
If we had not been so near to a medical facility, I'd have died.
- Then what happened? - Nothing. I was no hero, Wesley.
I was an undisciplined, loudmouthed, opinionated young man
who was way out of his league.
I learned a very hard, very painful lesson that day.
But I learned it well.
I hope you never learn it the same way.
- Care for another sandwich? - Please.
Come on, Data.
I am programming the comm system to scan interference patterns.
A full analysis will take time.
- You be careful with that thing. - You want to hurt us.
What? I came here to help you.
- We can make more. - Make more weapons.
Wait a minute.
- You have a replicator? - It is not broken.
I didn't come to give you weapons!
You will make more.
Commander, a photon torpedo may penetrate their shield.
Any hostile move could jeopardize Geordi.
- But what do the Pakleds want? - Counsellor?
They have what they want. For now.
We're approaching Starbase 515, sir.
At last.
Did you read that book I gave you?
Some of it.
That's reassuring.
I just don't have much time.
There is no greater challenge than the study of philosophy.
But William James won't be in my Starfleet exams.
Important things never will be.
Anyone can be trained in the mechanics of piloting a starship.
- But Starfleet Academy... - It takes more.
Open your mind to the past. Art, history, philosophy.
And all this may mean something.
All deception. Nothing the Pakleds have said or done has been sincere.
Intensified scan shows their guidance system to be intact.
- As is their power generator. - Then what was Geordi repairing?
The putative malfunctions were programmed into their computer.
I never knew they had that technology.
They seem to have made some technological leaps forward.
Why go through the charade of needing our help?
For the sole purpose of making Lt La Forge their prisoner.
Captain's personal log, stardate 42779.5.
We have arrived at Starbase 515. I am still quite uneasy,
despite assurances that this medical procedure poses little risk.
I hope you won't be late for your exams.
I still have some time, sir.
Why do I get the distinct impression you're acting as some kind of escort?
Dr Pulaski asked me to make sure that you actually went inside.
- That woman. She would. - Sir?
What is it, Ensign?
I enjoyed our trip together, sir.
So did I.
- They are initiating visual contact. - Now we'll see what they want.
We demand that you return our crew member immediately.
Request denied.
- Lower your shields! - Request denied.
Stop it!
What do you want?
You think we are not smart.
I think you need to continue to develop.
We are smart.
Prove it! Return our man to us.
- You want him? - Yes, damn it!
Good. We want all computer information from your ship.
We have a man held hostage and all I have are no-option options.
- I need some input. - Is Geordi alright?
He's been hit by multiple phaser stuns.
He may need medical attention.
Security are ready to take the initiative, sir.
- Data? - Our options have not changed.
We can either respond to the Pakled demand or not.
We can either use force or not.
Access to our computer is a breach of Starfleet security.
Then force it must be.
Don't worry, Captain. We've done this a hundred times.
We're ready when you are.
Get on with it, Doctor, I have work to do.
Activate sterile field.
Neural callipers.
This is a secondary cardiac procedure, with mid-line entry
and excision of the early model unit.
I anticipate no complications.
The patient has had positive primary results,
and shows extraordinary physical condition.
We'll all be home in time for dinner.
Tissue mitigator.
There is limited information on the Pakled culture,
but their eclectic equipment suggests their technology comes from others.
- And now they've become militant. - So it seems.
They are unwilling to wait for the timely evolution
of their intellectual capacity.
They want instant knowledge, instant power and gratification.
The more they get, the more they want.
And the more dangerous they become. It's time we set some limits.
To what effect? We are faced with an impossible conundrum.
Why not turn their impatience and greed against them?
But how?
Geordi could give them something they want. Something important.
Then we create the moment for him to take it away and get him outta there.
- Would you be suggesting a ruse? - I would.
But what if we fail? What'll happen to Geordi then?
We have no other choice. We have to try.
There's been some capillary reaction here.
Let's proceed carefully.
We'll need sharper focus on the thoracic polychromatics
and verification of myocardial enzyme balance.
Let me talk to him.
I'll get you their computer banks.
We wanna be smart.
So open the hailing frequency. They'll listen to me.
- We are smart. - We need their computer things.
- Cmdr Riker? - Yes, Lieutenant, we're here.
The Pakleds seem pretty... sincere.
We want what we want.
- Our computers are non-negotiable. - We want them.
Believe me, they're nothing if not... persistent.
We want to be nothing if not persistent.
Nobody calls them great conversationalists!
- Where did they get their shields? - Yes. We like shields.
From what I've seen, half the systems on board have been stolen
from the Romulans, Klingon, Jarada,
almost anyone they've ever had contact with.
We like to be smart.
Confirmed, Lt La Forge. They steal technology.
But they lack the ability to use it properly.
You're an excellent Chief Engineer, Lt La Forge.
Thank you, sir.
And your knowledge of phaser and photon weaponry is unmatched.
Nice of you to say so, sir, but, really, Lt Worf is...
Our missions are always inherently dangerous.
Any of us could be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice at any time.
Yes, sir, but...
Speaking of time,
this may be your time.
I shall personally miss you.
Goodbye, Geordi. I shall miss you at weapons systems analysis.
I guess you'll just have to... arm your photon torpedoes without me.
As well as our hydrogen collectors. Fond farewell.
- He knows about weapons. - You can make us strong.
It's not something I like to talk about.
Any classified-weapons knowledge shared with them will be treason.
But I may have no choice.
You will die without honour.
Thanks a lot, Worf.
You will never attain the 24th level of awareness.
That's quite a challenge.
Indeed. 24 is the gateway to heroic salvation.
- Do you think he understands? - He'd better.
- He's afraid. - We all are, Counsellor.
You are smart.
Not smart enough. I'm still here.
- Make us strong. - You wanted me to help you go.
Let's work on that guidance system, OK?
Make us strong,
or die.
It's not working. Something's wrong.
The metabolation occlusions aren't holding.
Damn it! I can't stop the heterocyclic declination!
We need a biomolecular physiologist in here. This man is dying.
Right away, sir.
- You've got to be kidding. - Make us strong.
There's not enough juice here to blow up a passing asteroid!
Do it. Make us strong.
I suppose we could increase the antimatter charges.
Yes, we like power.
- Yeah. - Do not try to trick us.
We can tell.
- Negative. - Heterocyclics?
Failing. And capillary integrity too unpredictable to try a resect.
You're unwilling to attempt it?
- I'm not qualified. - I know someone who is.
Can he do it? Geordi's an engineer, not a weapons specialist.
If anyone can improvise, it's Geordi.
Do the Pakleds have that kind of gear?
Ongoing scanning indicates progressive weapons potential.
The timing will be crucial. Geordi must interpret our intentions.
Geordi's up to speed. I trust him.
The Pakleds heard our fiction about his weapons knowledge.
And as they equate intelligence with strength,
they won't miss a chance to use that knowledge. Can you do it?
Count on it.
- Bridge to Cmdr Riker. - Go ahead, bridge.
I am receiving an emergency summons from Starbase 515.
Capt Picard is close to death.
Be ready.
We are strong!
You are armed to the teeth.
Teeth are for chewing.
You have photon torpedo. You are strong.
We are strong.
We have power.
Positive indication of armed photon torpedoes, Commander
Geordi did it.
Starbase request we proceed to base at warp nine.
We've got to go.
The Captain needs our help.
We can't leave Geordi behind. I want the Pakleds on that screen. Now.
Forced spectrum communication is spotty at best, sir.
Do it!
This is the Enterprise. Return our personnel or face reprisal.
We are strong now. We have better weapons.
Are you prepared to use them?
We are a force now. We will have respect. Power.
We don't have time for this. You want power? Here. Ensign Gomez.
- Ready. - Prepare firing sequence.
Start firing countdown from 24.
I can't believe it. My friends are trying to kill us. Kill me!
Believe it. They are violent.
OK, they want to play rough, fine with me. Let me check something.
Good. He is on our side now.
Begin firing sequence.
24, 23,
21, 20,...
- Firing sequence proceeding. - Hold fast.
16, 15,...
Don't do anything yet.
- What are you doing? - Checking your system is operative.
We will attack. We are strong.
nine, eight,
six, five...
We should attack now.
One second. We can't afford a misfire here.
No, too late.
We have fired. They will be destroyed.
- They used the crimson force field. - It did not shoot.
No, the crimson force field has disarmed us.
They are smart.
- We are not strong. - Drop your shields.
Allow us to transport Lt La Forge immediately.
- Shields are down, sir. - Beam one to the bridge.
Set heading for Starbase 515, warp nine.
That hydrogen exhaust sure put on a nice light show.
Harmless, but effective. You disabled the photons?
Just in time. That's why you're alive.
Deactivating neural callipers.
What the hell are you doing here?
Saving your life.
Come on.
This is a routine procedure.
Quite commonplace.
True. But you are not a commonplace man.
You'll be out of recovery in four hours.
I didn't want you involved in this.
You're welcome.
If you're here, the entire crew must know.
You're still the Captain. Invincible.
Thank you.
- I beg your pardon? - Seems things are back to normal.
I'm pleased to report Ensign Crusher's exam results
permit him to continue his studies on the Enterprise.
Furthermore, any rumours of my brush with death
are greatly exaggerated. Is that clear?
Yes, sir.
Then, Ensign Crusher, set course for the Epsilon Sector, warp five.

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