Captain's log, stardate 43779.3.
We are preparing exospheric charts of the Hayashi system,
a tedious but essential step toward planet colonization.
Captain, USS Hood is closing on an intercept course at high warp.
Odd. We weren't notified of a rendezvous.
- They seem to be in an awful hurry. - We are being hailed by Capt DeSoto.
- Sorry to sneak up on you, Jean-Luc. - Robert! Why didn't you inform us?
Out here, you never know who's listening. Keeps you on your toes.
Getting soft on board that luxury liner?
So, old friend, how are you?
Well, you know. They send you Galaxy-class boys to the far reaches.
Me, I just haul my butt between starbases.
- But not today. - No. Not today.
Starfleet's got new orders for you. Top priority.
They need the fastest ship and the best people. That is you.
Why didn't they transmit the orders by subspace?
They're worried about Romulan eavesdropping.
And we have a passenger for you. Hard to send by subspace!
- What passenger? - Mission specialist.
He'll bring your orders with him. His name is Tam Elbrun.
As in Tam Elbrun of the Ghorusda disaster?
The same. What can I say? Your orders are to co-operate fully with him.
Best of luck, folks. Hood out.
- The Hood is slowing to impulse. - Mr. Data, come with me.
- May I come with you to greet Tam? - You know him?
He was at the university on Betazed when I was studying psychology there.
I see. He was a colleague of yours.
No. He was a patient.
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.
Tam is a telepath of extraordinary talent, even for a Betazoid.
He's a specialist in first contact with new life forms.
He's very unique, but he's not what you might expect, Captain.
- Welcome aboard. I'm... - Capt Picard, right?
You want to know about your mission. It's all on there.
Orders and briefings, destination and heading, all that.
Dee. I sensed you were out here. How have you been?
- Fine, but I thought... - ..you were on Chandra V!
Who...? What are you?
I am Data. An android.
Incredible. An android. I can't read you at all.
- It's like you're not there! - Data?
Hurry up to the bridge with that. The Captain wants you to scan the orders
and be ready to brief him in ten minutes. Right?
- Number One. - Riker here.
Meet Cmdr Data on the bridge. He has our new orders.
And assemble the bridge staff for a briefing in 1 5 minutes. Picard out.
- Mr. Elbrun, would you... - ..care to see my quarters? No.
I'd rather do this briefing, then be left alone until I'm needed.
I've heard about Ghorusda. Weren't 40 people killed?
Including the Captain of the Adelphi and two of my Academy friends.
- Main bridge. - So, what happened?
It was a first-contact situation. Ghorusdan culture is so complex,
they sent a specialist to prevent misunderstanding.
- Tam Elbrun. Was it his fault? - Not directly.
The board of inquiry blamed Darson
for "carelessness about Ghorusdan cultural taboos".
But if Elbrun was so good, why didn't he warn Darson?
What was he doing there if he couldn't sense that much hostility?
Our destination is the Beta Stromgren system,
following the path of the Vega IX probe.
23 parsecs beyond our furthest manned exploration.
That is correct. Apparently the probe has discovered...
We are to proceed to this star, Beta Stromgren.
Scientists have discovered it is in the final stages of collapse,
and will soon result in a supernova.
However, the unmanned space probe
sent by Starfleet to observe the process has discovered much more.
Data, don't waste time!
They call it Tin Man. The Vega probe found it orbiting Stromgren.
- Looks like some kind of ship. - Its energy source is unknown.
Transmissions analysts think it's a starship.
And they're sure... it's alive.
- Cybernetic organism like the Borg? - No, no! Here.
Starfleet believes it's an organic creature,
born in space, living its life in the wastes between the stars.
No one knows where it came from or why it's here.
But we're going to meet it. We're going to talk to it.
- I'm going to talk to it. - Have attempts been made...
To communicate by subspace? Yes. Universal translation won't work.
Tin Man is too different. Mind-to-mind is our only hope.
The opportunity for discovery is extraordinary, but why the urgency?
- Romulans. - Hell, I forgot. The Romulans.
They claim that sector of space where Beta Stromgren is.
They claim all that is in their field of vision.
They routinely monitor the telemetry of our space probes.
Then they will be sending a ship to investigate this Tin Man.
No. Actually, they're sending two. Data?
That is correct. Starbase 1 23 has detected
two D'daridex-class cruisers on an intercept course.
Their top speed is less than ours. Therefore we do have some advantage.
Then... it's a race? An alien intelligence, a new life form,
representing a technology beyond either the Romulans or ourselves.
The Romulans will certainly take whatever measures are required
to secure this creature for study.
Study as in dissecting, I'd bet.
Mr. Data, you are our resident honour student in exobiology.
You will head up the Life Sciences on this mission.
- Aye, sir. - Excellent.
Meeting adjourned, then.
So, Data, I guess you're the brains of this outfit, huh?
Mr. Elbrun, one reason I'm asking that you work with a crew member
is to avoid... further omissions.
The possibility of an encounter with Romulans is hardly trivial. Yet...
I should have brought up the Romulans earlier,
but I was... distracted.
And no, Billy Boy, I wasn't distracted on Ghorusda.
If Darson had listened to me, no one would have died!
No? Well, I don't care whether you believe that or not!
Captain's log, supplemental.
We are still days from rendezvous with the mysterious entity Tin Man.
My immediate concern is with Tam Elbrun.
Starfleet considers him crucial to our mission,
yet he seems to me... unstable.
According to his medical records he's very high on the ESP scale.
A sort of... prodigy.
A prodigy? In what sense?
Well, most Betazoids develop telepathic gifts at adolescence.
You're not born reading minds?
No. Except, for some reason that no one understands,
occasionally a Betazoid child is born different.
- How different? - Born with telepathy switched on.
Most Betazoids born like that never lead a normal life.
The noise of other people's thoughts must be overwhelming to a child.
Early diagnosis and special training did help Tam adjust,
but he has some problems.
You mentioned a hospitalization.
For stress. Repeatedly, throughout his life.
I always wonder what holds one person together through that
while another goes under.
Yes, well, he's evidently done more than hold together.
He's the indispensable man,
the Federation's finest specialist in communication with new life forms.
The more unusual the life form, the better he likes it.
He's drawn towards assignments that isolate him from other humanoids.
Cmdr Data, I'm picking up an unusual echo on my sensors.
Something is out there, sir, tracking us, matching our speed.
Something which does not fully register on our instruments.
As no known natural phenomenon can travel at warp velocity,
there are but two possibilities.
Either it is a sensor malfunction or another ship is following us.
- It is not a sensor malfunction. - Agreed.
But if it is a Romulan ship, with their cloaking device,
we shouldn't pick them up at all.
Unless they're pulling power for something else and can't fully cloak.
- Like what? - Ask the Romulans.
- If it is the Romulans. - Lieutenant,
continue monitoring the precise position of the echo.
Any sudden change in its behaviour, initiate yellow alert.
How are things in the land of the living?
I thought you might be lonely.
- No one sees you except Data. - Lonely?
I can hear everything that everyone on this ship thinks.
And no one besides you seems to be missing my charming...
You want them to dislike you. Why?
Because I'm not a nice man.
Cos they scare me. They're too many minds.
I can't shut them out. Never could.
All their loves, their hates, their fears, their needs...
It's like a tide that never ebbs. I could drown!
You understood, at least a little, how I felt.
I see you finally found a place to fit in.
- People to care about. - And you're still looking.
And then there's Ghorusda.
I have enough doubt in my reliability
without having to listen to Riker's and Picard's!
- What happened there? - I thought everyone knew.
No. What happened to you?
Maybe I got too involved with the Ghorusdans, with their point of view.
It happens to me. I wanted everyone to get along.
I could have warned Darson more forcefully.
So, after that you ran away.
The last I heard, you were the only Federation delegate
assigned to Chandra V.
Beautiful creatures, the Chandrans! Their minds are glacial.
They have a lovely three-day ritual for saying hello.
- Peaceful, untroubled people. - Unlike humanoids.
Well, except for your friend Data.
I like him. He's...
I believe your impression of Data is probably unique.
Yeah? Well, having to get to know someone,
just once, has its appeal.
I mean, talking to them,
instead of getting it all at once, up here, whether I want it or not.
But you accepted this mission. You could have stayed on Chandra V.
You willingly came aboard a ship with over 1 ,000 people.
How could I not? Think of it, Dee!
This intelligence, that swims naked through space like a fish in the sea.
Totally alien! Mysterious!
Not like us at all. Ancient.
And alone. So lonely
for so long.
How can you know that?
You're in contact with it!
- With Tin Man. Aren't you? - No.
Yes. A little.
But not quite on a conscious level.
We're light years away. That's impossible, even for you.
Impossible for me.
Maybe not impossible for Tin Man.
We're on course for orbital intercept with the Tin Man.
- ETA 1 8 minutes. - Grand.
Not altogether. The rate of the star's collapse has increased.
It could go supernova in a few days.
Captain, we're receiving data from the probe, including visuals.
Computer, locate Tam Elbrun.
Tam Elbrun is in turbo lift one, en route to the main bridge.
Our sensors are detecting a wave front of highly ionised particles
preceding the object tracking us!
Yellow alert. On screen.
Romulan war bird closing. They are arming main disruptors.
- Red alert. Shields to maximum. - Arm photon torpedoes and stand by.
I thought you said we were faster than them.
- We are. But... - Evasive. Hailing frequencies.
I guarantee that they don't want to talk to you, Captain.
- The Romulan has passed us. - Damage report.
Casualties reported. 70 percent loss to the shields.
Their attack on us was incidental, Captain.
- Incidental? - To delay us!
It would appear their intent is to contact Tin Man first at any cost.
The war bird has exceeded maximum engine output by 30 percent,
irreparably damaging their warp coils.
They kept up by sacrificing their ability to re-enter Romulan space.
- One-way trip. - There is one more trailing us.
A day or two behind.
Data's right. This one's job is to beat us to Tin Man at any cost!
You read all this telepathically?
In the mind of the Romulan Commander, during the attack.
- Very well. Mr. Crusher, all stop. - Aye, sir.
- Cmdr La Forge. - La Forge here.
Geordi, how long to full shield-restoration?
I'm working on it. Computer,
reconfigure integrity power to feed inner deflector grid.
Unable to comply. Request would compromise operational safety limits.
To hell with the limits! Override. Authorization, La Forge 2997.
Rerouting structural integrity power supply.
Russell, watch the lateral grid balance.
No, that's too much. We'll have to do it manually.
- La Forge to bridge. - Go ahead.
I'm feeding the grid by stealing power from the integrity field.
- You'll have a shield in 30 minutes. - You have ten. Picard out.
If the Romulans wish the honour of first contact, let them have it.
You're insane! What if the Romulans find a way to persuade Tin Man...
The chance of that is remote.
And if you will be still, Mr. Elbrun, you may learn.
That being first at any cost is not always the point.
Mr. Data, while we wait I want Life Sciences and Engineering
to continue collecting information on the alien.
And query the Vega IX probe, long-range sensors.
- You do a lot of your work here? - Yes.
I configured these instruments to display information more efficiently
than stations used by the others.
- A little Spartan. - Spartan?
Lots of work space. Not much room to live.
- I don't guess you sleep? - I have tried it from time to time.
But you are correct. I do not require rest.
But you paint!
The creature's anatomy appears most peculiar.
In what way?
It is indeed laid out as a vessel with chambers and corridors.
An internal environment suitable for carbon-based life forms,
yet there is no evidence of a crew aboard.
Tin Man is a living being which has been bred,
or has adapted itself, to serve a purpose.
I find that interesting.
Why? Must living beings have a purpose?
Or do we exist for no reason but to exist?
I am not qualified to express an opinion.
Data, you're uniquely qualified.
You think a great deal about humanity.
And you're an honest researcher. You don't treat anything as trivial.
You want to try it all.
You said earlier that you could not read my mind.
True enough. But I think I understand you pretty well.
It worries you that I can't read your mind?
Perhaps there is nothing to read.
Nothing more than mechanisms and algorithmic responses.
Perhaps... you're just different. It's not a sin, you know.
Though you may have heard otherwise.
Captain, the Romulans are hailing the alien using their form of Linguacode.
- Response? - Nothing so far.
Why should it answer? What could it have in common with them?
But you're so sure it'll talk to you!
The Romulans are arming all disruptors.
Take evasive action at the first change of Romulan course.
- In this position, we can't... - No! No!
We're not the target!
- It's Tin Man. - What? Do they intend to destroy it?
Those are their orders if they can't secure it.
Increase speed to intercept the Romulan vessel.
- Their lead is too great, sir. - Hail them!
They won't listen to you!
Danger. Gomtuu, do.. not... allow.
Nothing available yet, sir. We have partial failure of the main computer.
It seems you woke your Tin Man.
We've got power, but the warp engines have to go off line to recalibrate.
- How long? - For everything?
- All of it. - 20 hours, double shifts.
We don't know that we have 20 hours.
That star could explode at any moment.
I know. OK, first thing we do is get the main computer working.
Fix the shields first.
Tin Man fried circuits I thought were unfriable.
I'm not worried about Tin Man. It's more Romulans showing up.
Right. First priority, get the shields up.
Only no more surprises until I'm done, OK?
Don't ask me about surprises. Ask Tam Elbrun.
Your brain activity suggests you're coming out of some sort of seizure.
Your blood pressure and glucose indicate general systemic stress.
- But I'm going to live? - No doubt about it.
Good. Because I want to know exactly what you did.
I want to know how closely you're in communication with this alien
- and I want to know now! - I... I...
I just warned it, that's all.
I've been in contact with it, sensing impressions. It calls itself Gomtuu.
It's old, Captain. It's roamed the universe for many thousands of years.
- Where did it come from? - Far away. Maybe beyond the galaxy.
- Once there were millions of them! - Once?
It hasn't seen another of its kind for millennia.
It's alone. It may be the last of its species.
Perhaps... we can help it in some way.
Can you... ask it to return with us to Federation space?
At least persuade it to leave the vicinity of Beta Stromgren
before the star explodes?
Captain, Gomtuu knows the star will go nova soon. That's why it's here.
It wants to die.
..an explosion. In space.
Radiation penetrating the outer layers.
The crew died.
Empty pain! Hollowness!
Tam! Stop this! You're losing yourself in this merging!
Tin Man hurts and wants to die. I can't do any more from out here.
If you want me to really reach Tin Man, I must be in physical contact.
- I have got to go aboard. - No.
- That is out of the question. - You don't trust me.
No, Tam, I don't believe that I do.
Tam, when you reached out to the alien, to warn it,
did you give any thought to this vessel?
To the danger, however inadvertent, that creature might pose to our crew?
Or did you simply react out of instinct?
- Captain... - Deanna. He's right.
I don't know. I don't know what might happen. But if you don't let me go,
we fail our mission.
Besides, at this point, you need all the help you can get.
Even Tin Man's.
Russell, reactivate the sensor assemblies.
OK, let's do a program reload, port array only.
Good. That's good. Computer, run a level-two diagnostic.
Port sensor array remains offline.
- Damn! - Riker here. How's it coming?
Not good. I think all the control processors are shot.
But maybe if I swap the chips I can give you a minimum EM scan.
OK, we're going to try starting retro sensor element 32 only.
Are you in? Go.
The good news is we have partial sensors.
- La Forge to bridge. - Riker here.
I'm picking up another echo on the sensor display. Are you reading that?
One moment, Commander.
Confirmed. Sir, the other Romulan ship on an intercept course.
- Geordi, how about those shields? - I'm doing the best I can!
But shields won't help if that star explodes.
Data, you've developed an affinity with Elbrun.
Troi, you've known him for years.
How far can he be trusted?
The issue isn't one of trust in Tam's intentions
but in his judgement.
- He'll do what he believes is right. - Of course. But his judgement...
Is precarious. The stress of exposure to so many minds here is bad enough.
Now he's strongly drawn to this creature.
- I'm afraid for him. - Afraid of what?
I sense that the alien is somehow calling him.
If we allow him to beam over, I believe we will lose him to it,
that he will lose himself.
I agree that Tam's motives are trustworthy.
I do not believe it is possible he will act against us
or will cause Tin Man to act against us out of malice.
If he breaks down over there we'll be no closer to accomplishing our goal.
- It would be a grave mistake. - Thank you both.
- Data? - I am puzzled, sir.
We have come this far. Will you not allow Tam to fulfil his mission?
Tam Elbrun warned Tin Man.
The first thing it did was to destroy a space vessel.
I understand. If you feel the risk is too great to send Tam Elbrun alone,
then send me with him.
Counsellor Troi understands him better.
But he is more comfortable with me. It is humanity he is fleeing.
I could serve as an intermediary, a bridge back.
A reminder of his obligation, both to us and to Tin Man.
Captain, the Romulan has uncloaked.
- Status? - Shields are at 40 percent.
- We can manoeuvre on impulse. - Phasers available on manual.
Computer target-lock not functioning.
Well, let's hope they're in a mood to talk. Hailing frequency.
Romulan vessel, this is Capt Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise.
Enterprise, your presence here is a violation of Romulan space.
You will leave immediately.
We are not familiar with the terms of your claim on this sector.
We are here for scientific research. Do you wish to participate?
We have monitored the destruction of our sister ship by the star creature.
We claim right of vengeance. We will destroy the alien.
If you interfere, we will destroy you as well.
A confrontation between the Romulan war bird and Tin Man is imminent.
I have no alternative but to rely on the telepathic abilities of Elbrun.
- Picard to Tam Elbrun. - Captain?
- Report to transporter room six. - I don't...
- Cmdr Data will meet you there. - Yes, Captain.
We no longer have a choice.
No. No! Too much. Too much!
- Tam? - I can't!
- Data to Enterprise. Come in. - No! Don't!
If it is harming you, we must return. Enterprise, respond!
No, it's alright now.
Gomtuu was trying to communicate a lifetime to me in a few seconds,
but I'm alright now.
- O'Brien to bridge. - Go ahead, Chief.
I have no transporter lock on them. Some kind of force-field went up.
Confirmed. The alien has thrown up a shield, blocking all our sensors.
Captain, the Romulans' weapons systems are now at full power!
Follow them in. Red alert. Mr. Worf, arm photon torpedoes.
There is a large chamber 20 metres ahead.
I know everything now. Come on.
This is the control centre where Gomtuu's crew guided their journeys.
The ship and the crew existed symbiotically.
They needed one another.
When Gomtuu had no one left to care for, it had no more reason to exist.
Is that the purpose of existence? To care for someone?
It is for me.
Deanna was right. I'll lose myself here.
I must remind you that our objective is to bring Tin Man out of danger
and report our findings to Starfleet.
I'm not going back, Data. I'm staying here.
Sir, the Romulans are hailing us.
Capt Picard, if you interfere, we will fire upon you as well.
We are prepared to defend the life of the alien. Shields up!
Alien power levels increasing.
The diameter of the star has decreased by 1 00,000 kilometres.
Explain to them. Make them understand.
- But our mission... - Is to save Tin Man. And I will.
But he's going to save me as well.
All my life I have waited for this. A chance to find peace.
Finally, all the voices are silent.
Only Tin Man speaks to me now.
Don't you see, Data?
This... is where I belong.
That star will go any minute.
The Romulans must know that, too.
Power levels on Tin Man increasing beyond our sensor range.
- Conn, report. - Dead stop, Captain.
We've been thrown clear of Beta Stromgren,
a distance of 3.8 billion kilometres!
There is no sign of Tin Man or the Romulans, sir.
Captain, on screen.
Data, what happened over there?
- Difficult to explain, sir. - Tam?
I believe he found what he was looking for.
With all main systems temporarily restored,
we are proceeding to Starbase 152 for inspection and repairs.
We have had no further encounter with the Romulans.
As for the whereabouts of Tin Man and Tam Elbrun, we can only speculate.
You sent for me?
It was Tam's final request that I explain his decision to the crew.
But I believe it was his hope that you would understand.
What did happen?
I witnessed something...
- Individually, they were both so... - Wounded? Isolated?
Yes. But no longer.
they have been healed.
Grief has been transmuted to joy.
Loneliness to... belonging.
You do understand!
When Tin Man returned me to the Enterprise, I realized
this is where I belong.