Captain's log, stardate 42923.4.
Despite misgivings, I have agreed to Starfleet's request
to divert to the Braslota system
to take part in a war-game exercise.
Joining us as observer and mediator
is the Zakdorn master strategist, Sirna Kolrami.
Mr Kolrami, Capt Jean-Luc Picard. Welcome aboard.
Captain, I bring you greetings from those at Starfleet Command.
Would you care to see your quarters?
I require little rest.
I prefer that we commence with our mission.
Despite their reputations,
this Zakdorn does not appear to be a very formidable warrior.
In military brinksmanship,
individual physical prowess is less important
than the perception of the whole species.
For over nine millennia, foes have regarded the Zakdorns
as having the greatest strategic minds in the galaxy.
So no one is willing to test that perception in combat.
Then the reputation means nothing.
The Braslota system. In orbit around the second planet
is the 80-year-old starcruiser Hathaway.
He is still your first choice?
Cmdr Riker will captain the Hathaway.
You have 48 hours to prepare before the Enterprise attacks.
- We'll experience battle conditions? - Correct.
Engineering will disconnect the Enterprise's weapons
and link the system with a modified pulse beam.
Hits are recorded electronically.
If the computer registers damage, it will act accordingly,
shutting down the affected areas for the appropriate repair time.
Additional questions?
Capt Picard, it is my understanding
that you initially resisted the request for this simulation.
May I know why?
Starfleet is not military. Its purpose is exploration.
Then why am I here?
With the Borg threat,
I decided that my officers and I needed to hone our tactical skills.
In a crisis situation, it is prudent to have several options.
I prefer brains over brawn, too.
It's a waste of effort testing combat skills.
It's a small part in the make-up of a captain.
Your objection is noted.
Let us hope that your distaste for the exercise
will not affect your strategic abilities.
Mr Kolrami, when I agree to do something, I do it.
Do you care to surrender now?
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.
Your team should number 40, so select whom you will,
except Mr Data, who will serve as my First Officer.
I had envisaged you defining the crew.
Here, the leader of an away team controls the mission.
If you want to judge leadership, start at the beginning.
Very well, Captain.
- My, what a charmer. - Doctor...
Captain, he needs an attitude adjustment.
The Zakdornian culture is replete with self-assuredness.
Seldom is it undeserved.
Kolrami is a third-level grandmaster at the game of strategema.
Another millimeter.
That's it. A little more. There. That's excellent.
- Lieutenant? - Yes, Commander?
- You've heard about the simulation? - Yes. Good luck.
I researched those Avidyne engines. They're archaic. Touchy.
Anticipating the worst, can they be overhauled in 48 hours?
I've already taken the liberty of putting together a few necessities.
Am I disturbing you?
Just finished.
What do you think of the simulation?
- Waste of time. - It's just an exercise.
Useless. If there is nothing to lose, no sacrifice,
then there is nothing to gain.
You mean, besides pride.
In this case, it doesn't matter. I probably haven't got a chance.
- There is always a chance. - Slim.
The Hathaway's most sophisticated weapons,
even in a computer mock-up, can't defeat the Enterprise.
Well, still...
You're out-manned, out-gunned, out-equipped. What's left?
Join me.
The honour is to serve.
Scan all sectors within three light years of Braslota.
- How's your crew shaping up? - One last request.
Anyone in particular?
I would like Acting Ensign Crusher on board for educational observation.
Thank you, Captain.
We'll have some time before reaching Braslota.
Would you play me in a game of strategema?
Although I'm intrigued by the audacity of your request,
I can't fathom why you would wish the encounter.
- I enjoy a challenge. - Very well.
An opponent of limited dimensions can often be quite diverting.
Thank you.
- You're gonna beat him? - No.
- Then it's gonna be close? - No.
- But you have a chance? - No!
- Are you going to show up? - Sure.
Kolrami's the best. Just to play him is a privilege.
Aside from that, is there anything to look forward to?
This is gonna be exciting.
Against an opponent of approximate skill,
strategema can last over 1,000 moves.
I wouldn't bet on being here that long.
I have wagered heavily in the ship's pool
that you will take him past the sixth plateau.
And if I don't?
I will be irritated.
Forever curious, this urge to compete.
It's a human response.
That inborn craving to gauge your capabilities through conflict.
There are other ways to challenge oneself.
Perhaps, but they all lack a certain thrill.
Humans can find it helpful
to have an outsider set the standard by which they're judged.
To avoid deceiving oneself.
Maybe you should challenge Kolrami to strategema.
Why, Doctor?
When someone is that smug,
you occasionally have to deflate them a little.
Yeah, I'd like to see your neural flex tear him down a peg.
To what end?
Computer, actuation positions for strategema.
Ready? Begin.
- Come on, Commander. - Will.
You can get him. Come on.
Come on, you got him.
Here you go.
- That's it? - I'm afraid so.
- But you only made 23 moves. - Yes.
Cmdr Riker, there's your next challenge.
Away team assembled and ready to transport.
I may get there and want to come right home.
Good luck, Number One. Captain.
The simulation will commence in 48 hours.
There should be some emergency bridge lighting here.
Not good.
You're wrong, Mr Worf, it's fantastic. And it's ours.
Mr Worf?
Sir, Lt La Forge is a superior officer. The honour should be his.
This is a battle simulation. You're my Tactical Officer.
I've discussed this with Geordi and we agreed.
Besides, if Engineering's anything like the bridge, I'll be busy.
Attention, crew of the USS Hathaway. This is your Captain.
Over the next two days you might lose a lot of sleep,
but with your skill and stamina we'll have this lady ready to fly.
I want hourly progress reports from all stations. Riker out.
Nice job, Geordi. Now what are the possibilities of warp drive?
Not good.
There are only a few dilithium fragments left in the holding clamps.
Also, there's no antimatter to fuel the drive.
Any recommendations?
- No, sir. - We haven't got a prayer.
Would you like to transfer back to the Enterprise, Mr Crusher?
No, sir.
Wes, remember our purpose is to improvise.
It's the effort that counts.
I believe the rules are understood by all.
- Weapons conversion, Lt Burke? - Complete, Captain.
- Signal received. Locked on. - She's been stripped down.
The only offensive systems you need will be simulated.
What's the Zakdornian word for mismatch?
"Challenge." We do not whine about the inequities of life.
How you perform in a mismatch is what is of interest to Starfleet.
After all, when one is in the superior position,
one is expected to win.
Screen off. You have the bridge, Mr Data.
Aye, sir.
Lt Cmdr Data, I'm intrigued by your challenge.
Dr Pulaski informed me of your desire to play a game of strategema.
But I expressed no such interest.
Data means he would never have asked you himself,
but he wants to pit his skill against yours.
Play against a machine. Why should I wish to?
I don't blame you. It's no fun when you know you're going to lose.
But I wouldn't lose. Now you'll no doubt tell me to prove it.
- Data, you can't let that pass. - Indeed, I...
Then you will play for the honour of your ship.
The honour of the ship?
It's your reputation that's on the line.
With my knowledge of the Enterprise's Security override,
we may be able to convince the sensors
that an enemy ship is approaching.
Their instruments would lie to them.
That might give us the edge we're looking for.
But what about the viewscreen?
If I am successful,
the computer will project a false image of the enemy ship.
So unless someone runs to a window and looks out...
They're going to fall for it!
The lining's still smooth.
We should be able to do something with the dilithium we scavenged.
I'm sure the system's functional.
But without antimatter, what difference does it make?
I have to return to the Enterprise.
We've only got 32 hours!
- This is important. - And this isn't?
Attempt the routeing bypass here.
If it works, they will be surprised.
Where am I going to get the opti-cable?
Captain? I left an experiment running on the Enterprise.
- May I go back and shut it down? - It's that important?
It has to be monitored. It is my final grade in plasma physics.
- Message from the Hathaway, sir. - On screen.
Request permission for Ensign Crusher to reboard.
Apparently, he left a very critical experiment unattended.
- Any objection? - He should be escorted,
and have no contact with anything save his research.
Permission granted. Mr Burke, will you handle that?
Aye, sir.
I don't know why Riker chose him.
Just a noncommissioned child.
I can't believe I forgot about this. I let excitement cloud my judgement.
It's very dull. I spent six weeks setting this up.
- That's a lot of work. - Oh, no! This is ruined.
Too bad. Look, is this going to take much longer?
I'll have to dispose of this safely. It's very volatile.
- I'll beam it off the Enterprise. - Fine. Just do it.
I'll transfer it to the transporter room.
In the present context, what did she mean by, "Bust him up"?
In her own way, Dr Pulaski was instructing you
to take the shortest route to victory.
As opposed to what?
Ready? Begin.
I can't believe it.
A computer beaten by flesh and blood?
You advanced quite far against a worthy opponent.
Thoroughly enjoyable, Mr Data.
I'm at your disposal for a rematch.
Thank you. But what would be the point?
How can you lose? You're supposed to be infallible.
Obviously, I am not.
Ensign, where is Cmdr Data?
He has temporarily removed himself from bridge duty, sir.
Your crew is excellently trained. A tribute to your leadership.
Although I doubt their extensive preparation will be needed.
Why is that?
I do not expect Capt Riker will present much of a challenge.
Mr Kolrami, may I speak with you in private?
I want to know the root of your prejudice for my First Officer.
Mr Kolrami, you have denigrated and abused Cmdr Riker
since coming aboard this ship.
I would like some explanation.
Having studied William Riker's file prior to this assignment,
I have found him wanting.
In what regard?
His work record is exemplary,
but, as you know, a starship captain is not manufactured.
He, or she, is born from inside.
From the character of the individual.
My interviews have revealed a man
who displays circumstantially inappropriate joviality,
belying the seriousness of his station.
Don't confuse style with intent.
Only a fool would question Riker's dedication to Starfleet
and the people under his command.
He is the finest officer with whom I have ever served.
We shall see if your faith is well founded.
The test is whether the crew will follow where he leads.
His joviality is the means by which he creates that loyalty.
And I will match his command style with your statistics any time.
Come in, please.
Counsellor. Is something the matter?
That was going to be my question.
With my repository of knowledge,
I expected to perform better against a humanoid life form.
Some of our greatest advances have come from analyzing failure.
- While it can be ego-bruising... - I do not have an ego.
Well, a loss can be disheartening.
- But I do not have a... - Data!
You can handle defeat in two ways.
You can lose confidence, or you can learn from your mistakes.
That is what troubles me. I made no mistakes.
I have conducted a diagnostic check of all my programs.
I am checking the ship's computer.
Is that all necessary?
I believe so. I have proven to be vulnerable.
At present, my deductions should be treated with scepticism.
That's why you haven't been on the bridge?
Yes. The Captain would be ill-advised to rely upon my judgement.
I think you're overreacting. I'm sure you're alright.
l, however, am not sure.
Easy now.
- Is that it? - Yeah.
Good. Good work.
Alright. Hand me that connector on the kit.
- What is that? - My experiment from the Enterprise.
It deals with high-energy plasma reactions with antimatter.
You went back to the Enterprise for that?
- You cheated. - No, sir. You told me to improvise.
We need to calibrate a thermal curve to start a controlled reaction.
Assuming you can, can you regulate the reaction?
There's just enough crystal left to do it.
We'll channel the reaction through the chips.
- Are we good? - Better than good.
Great. Brilliant. It's gonna be fun. Carry on.
Come in, please.
- Alright, Data, enough of this. - Doctor?
How long are you going to sulk like Achilles in his tent?
I'm conducting diagnostic...
You can sell Troi that story, but not me.
You're smarting because you were beaten. Well, it happens.
No, Doctor, I'm concerned about giving the Captain unsound advice.
I wish I had never manoeuvred you into playing that game!
I'm sorry.
Why, Doctor? It is done, and perhaps just as well.
This has indicated that I am damaged in some fashion.
I must find the malfunction.
The simulation begins in one hour.
You'll have warp drive, but maybe not what you expect.
That deserves an explanation.
- We'll have warp one for... - Just under two seconds.
Not enough for an escape. It may give us strategic advantage.
- All of this is theoretical. - And if it fails to pay off?
Have you ever driven a Grenthemen water hopper?
- Ever popped the clutch? - We could stall the Hathaway?
And the Enterprise will pulverise us.
Let me try to understand. You are saying that Cmdr Data
is suffering from a profound loss of confidence,
and that you believe that only I can restore the balance?
Yes, sir.
Deanna and I have tried, but we're not getting through to him.
Don't you think you're overreacting?
Data is not capable of the emotions you're assigning him.
The effects are the same,
whether it's human emotions or android algorithms.
Data is not on the bridge and I don't think he will be
until we find some way to address his problem.
I'm less than one hour away from a battle simulation,
and I have to hand-hold an android.
The burdens of command.
Come in, please.
I require your presence on the bridge.
Captain, with all due respect,
you should choose another First Officer.
You are my First Officer.
I have not isolated the problem. I might make a mistake.
Yes, you might.
But that does not alter your duty to me and to this ship.
Do you know how to formulate a premise?
- Yes, sir. - Formulate this.
How do I deal with Cmdr Riker and the Hathaway?
I will await your answer on the bridge.
And, Commander,
it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.
That is not a weakness. That is life.
I believe I understand, sir.
Will you leave your hesitation and self-doubt here in your quarters?
I have several examples of Cmdr Riker's battle technique.
At the Academy,
he calculated a sensory blind spot on a Tholian vessel
and hid within it in a battle simulation.
As a lieutenant on the Potemkin,
his solution to a crisis was to shut down power
and hang over a planet's magnetic pole,
confusing his opponent's sensors.
From these specifics, what conclusion can you extrapolate?
Only 21 percent of the time does he rely on traditional tactics.
So, the Captain must be prepared for unusual cunning.
Counsellor, Cmdr Riker will assume we have made this analysis.
Knowing that we know his methods, he will alter them.
But knowing that he knows that we know that he knows,
he might return to his usual pattern.
Wait! You're overanalyzing, Data.
One cannot deny human nature.
What kind of a man is Cmdr Riker?
- A fighter? - Yes.
The weaker his position, the more aggressive his posture.
And he won't give up.
Then despite whatever options he is given, he must be...
The man that he is. Exactly.
Is that a failing in humans?
You will have to decide that for yourself.
On screen.
The hunt begins, Number One.
We're ready. Remember, Enterprise, Capt Riker has never lost.
Begin now.
Screen off.
Set course 223, mark 357.
Full impulse power. Initiate Kumeh manoeuvre.
Kumeh manoeuvre? Why start with such a recognizable ploy?
He wants us to reveal our tactics. Mr Worf?
Counter with the Talupian manoeuvre.
Agreed. Three-quarter impulse, full on my command.
- Mr Worf, prepare your surprise. - Aye, sir.
Set course 317, mark 73.
Present minimal aspect. Ready warp one.
Optimal spread on simulated torpedoes.
Romulan warship approaching from astern.
- What? - It came out of nowhere.
Bring us about. Maximum shields.
Full weapon systems. Open hailing frequency.
I can't, sir, there's nothing there.
Warp three, evasive.
Disengage weapons and shields. Re-engage modified beam.
- He's quite good. - He's the best.
Computer reports simulated damage to several aft decks.
Repair time, 3.6 days.
How did he do that?
Mr Worf overrode the sensor codes. Played some holographic games.
Mr Data, input a new code.
Attack posture, circumvental attitude.
Prepare beams for photon mode.
Bye-bye, Hathaway.
Computers report damage to the Enterprise.
They're moving. Why not go after them?
They're not through with us. Prepare warp jump.
- There are no guarantees. - There never are.
I'm gonna trust your expertise. Stand by for my signal.
Ready with photon torpedoes.
Captain, sensors picking up a Ferengi warship at warp five.
- Did you input that new code? - Aye, sir.
Mr Worf, I didn't give you enough credit. Continue the simulation...
Divert all power to shields!
Sever modified beams.
- Engage phasers and target. - Fire when ready!
That's no ghost attacking. That's real.
- We must assist, sir. - We've no offensive weapons.
Where are my weapons?
Unavailable, sir. We cannot disengage the modified beams.
- We must retreat! - Unacceptable.
The Ferengi have stopped their attack.
Transport the away team aboard.
- Transporter functions gone, sir. - Shields reduced.
Use this moment to escape.
I have 40 crew on the Hathaway.
Sacrifice them to save 1,000.
Acceptable tactical losses under the circumstances.
Not to me!
Notify Starfleet. Hail the Ferengi on my word. Formulate alternatives.
As the observer, I order you to withdraw!
I am the Captain!
Your order is nullified. Ferengi on main viewscreen.
I am Capt Jean-Luc Picard
of the Federation Starship USS Enterprise.
Why have you attacked my vessel?
Why was your ship combative
with another Federation vessel of lesser design?
Why do you now protect your former target?
What is its value to you?
Our probes indicate you were aware of our approach, yet took no action.
Your answers will dictate our response.
We have refrained from launching a counterattack
in the hope of a peaceful resolution.
Our probes indicate that you are crippled,
and the ship you protect has no weaponry,
no light-speed drive, and only a scarce crew.
This makes no sense to us.
Unless it contains something very valuable.
I am Bractor, Leader of the Ferengi attack vessel Kreechta!
I will have the secret of the other Federation ship.
Surrender it to me,
and I will allow your Enterprise to leave unharmed.
You have ten of your minutes.
Sir, they're massing a surge of power.
We're being scanned. They've locked on.
Our shields will not withstand another assault.
Then there are no options. Retreat or die.
Captain's log, supplemental.
Due to my miscalculation, the Enterprise has been subjected
to a surprise attack by the Ferengi.
I have little time to decide the fate of 40 of my crew
stranded aboard the derelict Hathaway.
I am open to suggestions.
Captain, we can launch a limited number of photon torpedoes.
I've given you my advice. The Hathaway is expendable.
- Cmdr Riker is hailing, sir. - On screen.
Have you been monitoring communications?
Yes, sir. Kolrami's right. Save the Enterprise.
That would leave you defenceless.
When Bractor closes in, we'll hit our warp drive, take our chances.
Your what?
We have a two-second warp capability.
Impossible! That ship was rendered warp inactive.
I told you he was the best.
I'd like to hear more about this. Later.
Right now, I have to work something out with Mr Data.
Premise. The Ferengi want the Hathaway,
believing it to be of value.
We must remove it from their field of interest.
They will soon locate it after a two-second warp.
There is a way. Number One, can you hear this?
Yes, sir. We're all here.
Can you pull a rabbit out of your hat?
- Mr Data? - On the Captain's command,
we will fire four photon torpedoes at the Hathaway.
One millisecond later, the computer will trigger your warp jump.
I hate this plan. We're not even sure our warp jump will work.
If the warp engines fail to function,
the result could be unfortunate.
Very unfortunate.
We will be dead.
Capt Riker,
I cannot order you to do this.
What the hell? Nobody said life was safe.
The advantage is,
that it will appear from the Kreechta's perspective as though...
As though you were destroyed in the explosion.
That will deceive them only for a few minutes.
Their sensors will soon locate us.
We only need a few minutes. You'll prepare a surprise for them.
Then we're agreed.
On my mark, four minutes.
Remember, if the implementation is off by one millisecond,
the Hathaway will not survive.
That's the one thing we're all absolutely sure about.
Are we ready, Number One?
- Ready, Captain. - Ready, Captain.
Good luck to both of you. Bractor.
- I will wait no longer, Picard. - The answer is no.
Your actions have been criminal. You will not profit by them.
- You are a fool! - How can you stop us?
You believe the Hathaway has value?
We deny you your prize. Fire!
Destroy your own, rather than suffer the ignominy of defeat?
I did not think the Federation had such iron.
You had no claim on that vessel. It was ours to destroy.
As you are ours to destroy.
You can try.
Enterprise targeted, Leader!
Leader, there is another Federation ship closing.
- A starship! - Maximum shields!
We have been outmanoeuvred. Retreat.
Our sensors show no Federation starship nearby.
Of course not. That was Klingon guile.
You made it, Number One. Smooth ride?
Well, it certainly was different.
- We'll lock on and pick you up. - With pleasure, Captain.
I must admit, your Cmdr Riker acquitted himself quite admirably.
And so, Captain, have you.
My report to Starfleet will be most favourable.
Thank you.
Initiate recovery procedures. Continue repairs.
Plot a course for the nearest starbase.
Captain's log, supplemental.
With the transporter repaired and my crew safely aboard,
we have officially ended our Starfleet battle simulation.
Why have you suspended the game?
Because this is not a rematch! You have made a mockery of me.
- Data, you beat him! - No, sir. It is a stalemate.
No game has ever gone this high.
- What did you do? - I simply altered my premise.
Working under the assumption that Kolrami wanted to win,
he expected me to play for the same goal.
You didn't.
No. I was playing for a standoff. A draw.
While Kolrami was dedicated to winning,
I passed up obvious avenues of advancement to settle for a balance.
Theoretically, I could challenge him indefinitely.
Then you have beaten him.
It is a matter of perspective.
In the strictest sense, I did not win.
- I busted him up. - Yes!

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