Computer, dispatches.
An enquiry from the Journal of Interplanetary Psychology
and three communiqués from your mother.
Transfer the letters from my mother to the viewscreen.
And, Computer,
I would like a real chocolate sundae.
Define "real" in context, please.
Real. Not one of your perfectly synthesized,
ingeniously enhanced imitations.
I would like real chocolate ice cream,
real whipped cream...
This unit is programmed
to provide sources of acceptable nutritional value.
Your request is not within guidelines.
Do you wish to override the specified program?
- Listen... - Picard to Counsellor Troi.
Now what?
Yes, Captain?
We're having an impromptu reception for the arriving delegates.
I'm not really dressed for a reception.
Throw anything on. It's our first look at the wormhole.
Of course, Captain. I'm on my way.
God forbid I should miss my first look at the wormhole!
- May I escort you? - Tell me there's chocolate here.
Counsellor Troi. Allow me to do the introductions.
Premier Bhavani of Barzan, Counsellor Deanna Troi.
Your discovery has produced much excitement.
Hopefully, it will produce a new era of prosperity for my people.
We'll see to that.
Mendoza, the Federation negotiator.
A pleasure to see you again.
This is a worthy Federation competitor,
- Leyor of the Caldonians. - Madame.
And I'm Devinoni Ral.
Ship's counsellor, Deanna Troi.
My good friend Ral is the best hired gun in the business.
Hired gun?
My good friend Mendoza
means that I'm a negotiator, who serves a variety of clients.
Right now, I represent the Chrysalians.
It's almost time.
Indeed. It will be visible directly ahead.
- Is it always on time? - Always.
We see it every 233 minutes.
It's due to radiation build-up in the accretion disc.
The visible burst is very brief.
There it is, ladies and gentlemen,
the first and only stable wormhole known to exist.
It's yours, for the right price.
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.
Captain's log, stardate 43385.6.
We are orbiting Barzan II, which is entertaining bids
for control of what appears to be a stable wormhole
which could provide a short cut to the distant Gamma Quadrant.
The environment on my planet is inhospitable to most life forms.
I'd like to express my appreciation to you, Capt Picard,
for hosting these negotiations.
Barzan society has depended on others for generations.
We want that to end.
The appearance of this stable wormhole in our space
provides us with our first natural resource.
We have neither the experience nor the technology to exploit it.
But you do.
Excuse me. A Ferengi delegation wishes to beam aboard.
Were you expecting them?
No, but I do not wish to create ill-will.
If they want to bid, I have no objection.
Chief O'Brien, this is Capt Picard.
Will you beam the Ferengi to the observation lounge?
Aye, sir.
On behalf of all Ferengi, I protest. Why were we not invited?
My apologies. We did not anticipate your interest.
You're welcome to join us.
My name is DaiMon Goss.
These are my consuls, Kol and Dr Arridor. We'll need chairs.
I'm Capt Picard. I'm the host for the proceedings.
- Good. Get us some chairs. - Let me explain...
Have your Klingon servant get us some chairs!
- I'm in charge of Security. - Then who gets the chairs?
DaiMon, due to the delicate nature of these negotiations,
all parties agreed that one representative will suffice.
Now, I will provide your consuls with accommodations
and you may have my chair.
- Very well. - Premier.
- Kol, the bag. - Gentlemen, this way.
We can handle the pleasantries later.
Now, let's get down to business.
I'll match anyone's best offer and add the gold on top of it.
Devinoni Ral, human. Age, 41. Born, Brussels, European Alliance.
Relocated at age 19 to Hurkos III.
Come in.
- Should I call for an appointment? - No.
I was just looking over some personnel files.
Well, that's too bad.
I thought you might be thinking about me.
I thought you'd be deep in negotiations.
In recess.
I never play the opening rounds. Inconsequential.
Besides, there are much better things to negotiate.
Like dinner tonight?
What about your travelling companion?
My travelling companion is... travelling.
- I sent her home. - Why?
You know why.
Weren't you getting along?
- Don't do that. - What?
Don't do "Counsellor" Troi.
- Was l? - Yes, you were.
When you leave this office,... who are you?
Oh, so that's how it goes. You never do.
You never do... leave... the office.
Dinner at eight?
The readings from the probe of the wormhole are impressive.
The wormhole delivered the probe beyond the Denkiri Arm
in the Gamma Quadrant.
It would take a century at warp nine to go that distance.
It would take a matter of seconds through the wormhole.
Imagine the Ferengi collecting tolls if they win.
They're not the greatest threat at the table.
For all of Goss's bluster, they don't have the resources the Barzans need.
I think that Devinoni is the one that we need to watch out for.
An accurate observation.
- How do you recognize that? - He was so comfortable.
You must play poker.
Poker? Is that a game of some sort?
Riker conducts master classes in poker.
Our skills are not dissimilar.
Mr. Mendoza, if this lives up to its billing,
it will be a discovery of extraordinary value.
But it is a very big if.
A wormhole comes and goes. A stable wormhole is unheard of.
So this may not be what it seems?
The Barzans do not have manned space travel.
They used a probe. Its findings are limited.
These charts do not show how stable the wormhole really is
or how long it will remain intact.
We could end up buying a proverbial lemon.
- Proverbial lemon? - Later, Data.
Aye, sir.
Once the contract is negotiated, we'd be obliged to fulfil it.
- We should take a look. - Bhavani can't object.
Geordi has been in visual contact with the wormhole.
- He's the logical choice. - I would like to volunteer.
Nobody's going in until we've done a sensor analysis.
I want to determine that it's safe. When I am satisfied,
then you, Data, and Cmdr La Forge will enter the wormhole tomorrow.
Just a moment of discomfort for a good cause, DaiMon.
You understand this will not be lethal.
Doctor, you surprise me. I have no wish to kill anyone.
A short-term crippling will suffice.
Then this will be just fine.
A distillation of your own blood pyrocytes.
Harmless to you, undetectable by the ship's biofilters.
But when absorbed through your victim's skin,
it will provoke an extreme allergic reaction.
It's time to extend the hand of the Ferengi
to the representative of the Federation.
Much better.
Thank you. Come in for a drink?
Federation decor.
- Not your style? - Well, conformity is not my style.
What would you like?
I'd even like another.
Well, there she is again. Counsellor Troi.
I'm not!
- Computer, champagne. - For two.
Am I moving too fast for you?
I'm moving too fast for me.
I like that better.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about you all day.
You must have had a nice day.
Anticipation is fun.
We'll be late for dinner.
Very late.
- Mr. Mendoza! - I seem to be a bit warm.
I need some help here.
You attempt to gain every unfair advantage.
- Bhavani has no objection. - Well, I do!
First, you conveniently arrange to play host,
then you plan to send a manned probe into the wormhole!
The Federation thinks it can do what it wants.
I will not tolerate it!
I will share the results of our exploration with you.
You expect us to believe what you report?
- Send in your own probe, Goss! - That's what I intend to do.
I strongly suggest that you stay out of our way!
Tell Data and La Forge to stay out of their way.
Capt Picard, come to sickbay.
Acknowledged, Doctor.
Whatever he's got, is not life-threatening.
It's some kind of system-wide histaminic reaction.
He can't go back to negotiations for several days.
Will you keep me informed?
The Federation's top negotiator taken out by a mysterious ailment.
- Suspicions? - With the Ferengi around? Always.
- You'll have to fill in. - Me?
I'm the designated host. It would be a most awkward transition.
You're the next likely choice.
Mr. Mendoza will certainly agree. He's impressed by your instincts.
Those were poker instincts.
A card game doesn't prepare me for this.
The stakes are higher, but isn't that when the game gets interesting?
The wormhole will reappear in 30 seconds.
- The Ferengi pod is in position. - Shuttle nine, stand by.
Ferengi pod, this is Lt Cmdr La Forge in the Enterprise shuttle.
This is Dr Arridor. Go ahead.
Would you care to take the point?
We will gladly yield that honour to you, Lieutenant Commander.
If this doesn't work,
the thought of spending the rest of my life in here is not appealing.
There is a bright side, Geordi. You will have me to talk to.
- It is visible, Captain. - Proceed when ready.
And intense energy fields which appear to be...
They're beyond our communication capabilities, sir.
An analysis of our bid is on the computer for your consideration.
I realize how difficult this must be for you.
If you don't understand something, don't be embarrassed to ask me.
I have an idea what the rules are.
That's what makes it interesting. The rules change to fit the moment.
Not unlike commanding a starship.
Mr. Riker's placed a great deal of emphasis on defence,
a subject he obviously knows well,
having served Starfleet in several conflicts.
Now, the Chrysalians, we're enemies to no one.
And we choose to remain that way. Neutral.
Neutral... and uninvolved, sir,
in virtually all interstellar matters of consequence.
No one would claim the Chrysalians are as powerful as the Federation.
But we have resources and technology and scientists, too.
But we also have had peace for ten generations.
You know, I was thinking.
Maybe I could stretch out these negotiations for a few days.
Would you like that?
Devinoni Ral.
Who are you?
Well, what do your Betazoid senses tell you about me?
Not much.
My human physical response must be blocking them out.
It never happened to me before.
I rather like that I'm more difficult to read than your other men.
There aren't any others.
What about Cmdr Riker?
- Who have you been talking to? - No one.
I just sensed something when I saw the two of you together.
Will Riker and I are good friends.
It was once a little more than that.
How come we're talking about me instead of you?
Don't you have enough people talk about their lives to you?
Who counsels the Counsellor?
Oh, no. I want to know about you.
I'm what you see right now.
Just me. Wanting to run away with you,
but knowing you never leave this damned ship.
When I first saw you,...
..l felt as if I'd been waiting for you.
I'm trying to understand why or how that's possible.
Does it matter?
Well, it will... when I tell you.
But you must never tell anyone else.
I am part Betazoid, too.
My mother was one half, I am one quarter.
You're empathic?
The only one of five children.
But I must admit I was never as comfortable sensing emotions
as you seem to be.
So, that's why you left Earth?
I learned to live with it, use it, as you have.
But still, it isolates us, doesn't it?
And I thought it always would, so I tucked my heart away.
I didn't need it. I didn't want it.
At the negotiating table, it can be fatal to have a heart.
But I never realized how much I needed mine
until I looked at you.
There's an increase in accretion matter filtering in.
Monitors are functioning normally.
Ferengi pod, everybody in one piece over there?
Our condition is no concern of yours.
We are competitors, not partners.
Ferengi pod out.
Yeah, happy landings to you, too.
We are not where we are supposed to be.
We're on the other side of the wormhole.
According to the Barzan probe, we should be in the Gamma Quadrant.
But these readings indicate we are 200 light years away
in sector 3556 of the Delta Quadrant.
Maybe the Barzan readings were wrong.
Perhaps the readings were correct.
Their probe could have exited the wormhole at a different location.
I'm picking up subatomic fluctuations.
Meson and lepton activity is increasing.
So is gravitational acceleration.
Something very strange is happening to this wormhole.
- You're unusually limber today. - I'll say!
Devinoni Ral.
It's ridiculous... and wonderful. I feel completely out of control.
Happy. Terrified. But there's nothing rational about this.
Who needs rational when your toes curl up?
I'm afraid I'm going to lose myself.
I can't get enough of him.
Is it possible to fall in love in one day?
I did.
- It was like this for you and Jack? - No.
It was another fella. I fell in love in a day and it lasted a week.
But what a week!
Then I met Jack. It took months to figure it out with him.
Well, then maybe I should slow down. Catch my breath.
Not let this thing get out of control.
- No. - No.
To be honest, I was surprised to see the Caldonians here at all.
You must think Caldonia very insular, Mr. Ral.
No, not at all. On the contrary.
I've always respected your world's commitment to pure research.
It's just that...
- Well... - Go on, please.
Well, scholars don't always enjoy administrative demands.
We've seen that the administration of the wormhole...
Yes, I must admit, I have begun to feel some trepidation about that.
Yes, I'm sure you have, Leyor.
I'm sure we all have.
In the next century, the number of ships that will pass...
Gentlemen, this session is called by request of the Caldonian delegation.
Madam Bhavani, Caldonia withdraws from the proceedings.
For what reasons, Leyor?
It is clear that the administrative requirements
are beyond our abilities.
The Federation would like an agreement.
We could acquire your planet's rich deposits of trillium 323
which we would add to our bid, Premier Bhavani.
My apologies. We have made an agreement with the Chrysalians.
Mr. Ral?
You either had good instincts, or foreknowledge of the withdrawal.
Some people just don't like to do business with the Federation.
The Chrysalians hereby add the Caldonian trillium 323
to its bid, Premier.
I tell you, it's changing!
I can see it with my visor.
I am not leaving yet. We have not finished taking readings.
Listen, Doctor.
Your readings must be telling you this is not the Gamma Quadrant.
I will not confirm your speculations.
This is not speculation. We are not where the Barzans said we should be.
This side of the wormhole is not stable.
There are meson and lepton fluctuations.
Gravitational fields are increasing. We'd better go!
It will be visible in 40 seconds. We will make our judgements then.
I can see it now. You don't have time to wait, not even 40 seconds.
- Ferengi pod out. - Damn it, Arridor!
We're 70,000 light years away from our ships!
Follow us in. We'll lead you.
It's getting worse. I'm taking us in, Data.
- With or without them. - Thrusters at half-power.
- Three quarters. - Entering outer event horizon.
They panic quickly under pressure.
Precisely as scheduled. Right where I expected it to be.
Everyone was talking today about the way you absorbed the Caldonian bid.
Well, the opening was there. I took it.
Cmdr Riker didn't know how you did it.
Let me tell you something about Cmdr Riker. He's good.
He's the most dangerous man in that room to me.
But he doesn't have an edge. Your edge.
Our edge. You make it sound unethical.
Isn't it?
Deanna, it's just business.
Why haven't you told anyone you're an empath?
I find it makes people uncomfortable.
I think you don't tell them so you can gain an advantage.
I gained an advantage by using it with you.
You didn't seem to mind that.
Look, Deanna.
The point of negotiating is to take advantage.
I don't know what they're offering. They don't know what I'm offering.
We dance around until someone wins.
I never cry "foul" when I lose.
But you're reading their emotional states, their inner selves,
and using that to manipulate them.
People have done that for thousands of years,
just by listening carefully, by watching body language.
I just happen to be better at it. You do it.
I do it to help my crew, not outmanoeuvre them.
And I don't hide that I'm an empath.
So you announce it to every alien culture you encounter?
Or do you use it to your side's advantage?
Do you tell the Romulan that's about to attack
that you sense he may be bluffing? Or do you just tell your captain?
That's different. That's a matter of protection.
Yes, protection.
Your protection, your captain, your crew,
your edge.
Yes. It's a matter of life and death when you take the advantage.
Me? I deal in property. Exchanges. Nobody gets hurt.
So, you tell me,
which one of us would you say has more of a problem with ethics?
Excuse me.
May I join you, Commander?
- Bought out the Ferengi yet? - Should I give it a try?
No, but I think you will. It'll come down to you and me.
You're very good at this, much better than you realize.
I hope I'm better than you realize.
The last mile of a marathon is the toughest,
when the winners are willing to take risks.
You willing to do that?
- We'll see. - Let's see now.
I'm prepared to reach an agreement with Bhavani
before we learn the outcome of your probe's expedition. Are you?
Well, well, well.
The Federation would not look favourably on that.
You have to be willing to take that last step alone,
or it isn't worth playing.
- Your point of view, not mine. - I see that.
Otherwise you wouldn't be second-in-command of this starship.
You know, I feel responsible for you, in a way. Related.
We both love Deanna. In different ways of course.
I will remove that burden of responsibility now.
My relationship with her stands well on its own without help from you.
Of course.
It's just that... Well, she's a remarkable woman.
Brilliant. Lovely.
Very passionate.
She could have been yours, but you didn't do enough to keep her.
And now, well, I'm here.
And I'm going to take her, too.
That's the first bad play I've seen you make.
If you can bring happiness into Deanna's life,
nothing would please me more.
You're really not such a bad sort, except you don't have any values,
beyond the value of today's bid, that is.
Deanna is just the woman to bring some meaning
to your sorry existence, if you're smart enough to take it.
I doubt that you are.
To the last mile.
Sir, the Ferengi vessel is moving out of orbit.
Impulse power. They are approaching the entry to the wormhole, sir.
Computer, is Goss still on board the Enterprise?
Goss departed at 1400 hours.
They're powering missile launchers.
Yellow alert! Hail the Ferengi.
Explain your actions, DaiMon Goss.
I've learned that the Federation
has manipulated negotiations from the beginning,
and has already signed a secret agreement.
That is not true.
Our offer was never seriously considered.
Bhavani welcomed you despite my better judgement.
We will be ignored no longer!
They've fired a missile at the opening.
- Destroy it! - On screen. Firing phasers.
Your offers both have merit. If I could find a deciding factor...
Riker to Picard. What's happening?
Goss fired a missile at the wormhole.
- I need you on the bridge. - Excuse me.
Excuse me for saying so under the circumstances,
but this fight seems to really be
between the Federation and the Ferengi.
It seems unconscionable that your wormhole
is being used as a pawn in their struggle.
You know we will not allow you to do this.
If we cannot have the wormhole, no one will.
A missile won't destroy a wormhole,
but it could destroy the shuttlecraft.
Casualties of war, Captain. My men are prepared to die. Are yours?
Captain, he's lying.
I'm sure of it. He doesn't mean it.
Why? What is he doing it for, then?
- Permission to enter? - With all due respect...
I'm in a better position to settle this with Goss than you are.
May I address him?
DaiMon Goss, this is Ral.
I have nothing to say to you.
Then just listen.
Barzan has agreed with the Chrysalians
for long-term control of the wormhole.
On behalf of the Chrysalians I offer the Ferengi
free access to the wormhole in perpetuity.
I have your word?
Yes, my word, in exchange for Ferengi convoy privileges
to be negotiated in good faith.
This is an acceptable offer.
The Ferengi vessel has shut down its missile launcher.
Stand down red alert.
Cmdr Riker.
I'm sorry you had to learn about my decision this way.
You represented the Federation well.
But I believe that the Chrysalians' tradition of peace
is more desirable to my planet.
There's something you should know.
Was there something you wanted to say?
No, not at all.
I sensed you felt uncomfortable.
Well, it was a very tense situation.
But that's what's so odd. It wasn't tense at all.
I sensed no tension from you or Goss.
But I was tense! I was ready to blow it up!
- I strongly protest. - Screen off!
It was as though you were performing a scene.
Captain, I believe there's a conflict of interest.
I agree, entirely.
Mr. Ral asked me not to tell anyone he has empathic powers,
which he uses to manipulate his competitors in a negotiation.
And, yes, it did put me in a conflict of interest,
which I hope I have now resolved.
Premier, I believe Ral used your fear of continuing aggression
between the Federation and its enemies to undermine our position.
I also believe that this incident was staged by Ral and Goss
to provide you a reason
to choose in favour of the Chrysalians.
The shuttlecraft are coming back through.
Shuttle nine to Enterprise.
On screen.
This is shuttle nine reporting in.
- The Ferengi pod? - Trapped on the other side.
Delta Quadrant. We warned them. They wouldn't follow us.
This end of the wormhole is currently stable,
but the other shifts positions periodically.
The Barzan probe had no way to recognize this.
Eventually, both sides will be unstable.
It's a dry well. Worthless.
Main shuttle bay, prepare for final approach.
Aye, sir.
Goss demands to know where his men are.
Advise him to set his coordinates for the Delta Quadrant.
He may run into them in... 80 years or so.
Mr. Ral, congratulations on winning the rights to the Barzan wormhole.
I take the risks, Mr. Riker,
and I stand by my agreements.
Come in.
- When do you leave? - Soon.
The Chrysalians have recalled me.
- Explanations demanded and so forth. - I'm sorry.
I've done well for them over the years.
They understand the stakes. It'll be fine.
I had to do it, Troi.
Bhavani was ready to go with the Federation.
I sensed it.
I'd used every card. I needed to change the rules.
You must have known I couldn't allow that.
My human physical response
must have been blocking my Betazoid senses.
I'm very grateful for what you did, in a way.
It's made me take a hard look at who I am.
I don't like what I see.
I once asked you to run away with me.
Now I'm asking again.
I need you.
You could help me change. You could be my conscience.
I already have a job as Counsellor.

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