Captain's log, star date 45703.9. We are en route to Earth,
where I will make the commencement address at Starfleet Academy.
I look forward to seeing Wesley Crusher again.
His flight team's demonstration near Saturn
will be transmitted to the graduation ceremonies.
Captain, Starfleet Academy requests our estimated arrival.
Mr. Data?
We should arrive at Earth in ten hours, 16 minutes.
Inform the Academy, Mr. Worf.
Send my regards to Superintendent Brand.
- Aye, sir. - Do you know Admiral Brand?
We've met a few times. She's a formidable woman.
When I was at the Academy, we had a Vulcan superintendent
who had memorized all our personnel files.
It was like having your parents around.
My superintendent was a Betazoid telepath.
When you got sent to his office, he didn't have to ask what you'd done.
You got called to his office? I'd like to hear that story!
Sir, we're being hailed again by the Academy. It is Admiral Brand.
On screen.
Sir, she is requesting a private channel.
In my ready room.
- Admiral, what can I do for you? - Hello, Captain.
I know you're a close friend of the Crusher family.
I wanted to inform you personally.
There's been an accident.
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.
He had second-degree burns and a fractured arm, but he'll be fine.
- Have they completed regeneration? - I'm not certain.
Wesley's allergic to metorapan treatments.
They'll have to use a bicaridine substitute.
- I'll send his records... - Beverly. the infirmary. They probably have them, but you can't be too sure.
Beverly, he's fine.
I know he's fine.
How did it happen?
Apparently, his squadron was practising
on the Academy flight range near Saturn.
They were flying a close formation. There was a collision.
All five ships were destroyed.
Four cadets transported out. One didn't make it.
- Do you know who it was? - Yes. His name was Joshua Albert.
Wesley spoke of him. They were friends.
Wesley was so excited to make the flight team.
Of course, I was a little nervous, but I was proud.
I always knew there was a chance that something like this might...
Beverly, Wesley's alive and he's well.
There was little to salvage from the wreckage.
We recovered one data recorder, but it was badly damaged.
We are attempting to restore the information, but it will take time.
Standard procedure calls for an immediate investigation
by two command-level officers.
Capt Satelk and I
will be taking depositions from Nova Squadron at 1500 hours today.
Cmdr Albert.
I'm sure that everyone in this room
joins me in expressing my deepest sympathies to you
on the tragic loss of your son.
There will be a memorial service for Cadet Albert
this evening, in the west garden.
It has been suggested
that we should cancel the graduation ceremonies because of what happened.
Cmdr Albert and I have agreed that commencement should go forward.
The cadets should know that even after such a tragedy,
there are still duties to perform...
..and life continues.
Thank you all for coming.
It's good to see you again, Captain.
I wish it were under better circumstances.
This is an unhappy way to begin commencement.
If you require any assistance, the Enterprise is at your disposal.
I'm sure we'll be able to conduct the investigation.
But thank you for your offer.
- I was so worried about you. - How are you feeling, Wesley?
Not bad. The arm's a little sore.
We were very sorry to hear about Joshua.
Would you like to talk about it?
No. I don't think so. No, thank you.
I know you want to be helpful,
but I've talked about it for days. I don't want to go through it again.
I understand. But I'm available if you change your mind.
Thank you, sir.
- Hi. - Hi.
- Captain, sir. - At ease, Cadet.
This is my squadron leader Nicholas Locarno.
Capt Jean-Luc Picard and my mother, Dr Crusher.
- Hello, Doctor. - Hello.
- Capt Picard. - Mr. Locarno.
I came by to see if Wes had healed up alright.
- How are you feeling, Nicholas? - I'm OK.
I just never lost anyone under my command before.
I'm afraid that never gets easier.
Captain, Mom,...
..will you excuse us, please?
Nick and I have things we need to talk about.
Of course.
- Let me know if you need anything. - I will.
I'll see you at the inquiry.
- Good to meet you, Mr. Locarno. - You too, sir.
The inquiry's scheduled for 1500 hours. You ready?
I think so.
Don't worry about it, Wes.
Everything's gonna be alright, as long as we stick together.
Can't you see that's a flowerbed?
- Sorry! I'm really sorry. - Well...
Jean-Luc Picard. Class of '27.
I know that. What happened to your hair?
How are you?
I'm pretty damn cranky, thank you!
I've replanted this bed four times this week.
Let me give you a hand.
I've acquired an interest over the years.
Well, don't plant 'em too deep.
- The stems will... - Will rot.
Capt Picard.
Of the Enterprise, no less. And giving the commencement address!
- You sound surprised. - Surprised?
Nothing you ever did surprised me, son.
Except when you caught that Ligonian with a reverse body lift,
and pinned him in the first 14 seconds of the match.
Didn't think you had it in you.
Well, it was all in the legs, all that running I did.
I don't think that I ever... I don't think I ever told you...
- much I appreciate... - There's nothing to tell.
Yes, there is.
I just wanted to, while I was here...
Look, you know as well as I do, I would never have graduated if you...
You made a mistake. We've all been young enough to make one.
You did what you had to. What you thought was best.
I just made sure that you listened to yourself.
At the time I thought you were a mean-spirited, vicious old man.
I was.
And, by the way, I was about the same age you are now.
I didn't speak to you for months.
You needed to get your bearings. I knew that.
The important thing is, what you did with your life afterwards.
Seems you did OK.
That's thanks enough for me.
Did you know the boy from Nova Squadron who was killed?
Josh Albert? Yeah.
Crusher, Hajar, Sito, Locarno...
I know them all.
- You nervous? - No.
That's OK. So am l. But we're gonna be alright.
It'll be tough, but we always come through for each other.
Whatever happens, leading this team
has been the high point of my years at the Academy.
No one could have asked for a better team.
Or better friends.
Let's go.
Here, we accelerated and executed a starboard turn of 27 degrees.
We came out of the turn on course for Titan.
You were still in the lead position?
- Yes, sir. - Continue.
As we approached Titan,
I gave the signal to tighten into a diamond-slot formation.
Remaining in formation, we executed a low-apogee turn around Titan
and began a Z+25 degree climb in preparation for a Yeager Loop.
Approximately nine seconds later,
Cadet Albert's ship collided with Cadet Hajar's.
We had less than two seconds to beam to the evac stations at Mimas.
Everyone made it except Josh.
Thank you, Mr. Locarno.
Cadet Hajar.
As team navigator, you filed a flight plan with the range officer
before the exercise. Correct?
Yes, sir.
Did Nova Squadron deviate from that flight plan
after you entered the Saturn range?
No, sir.
Then how do you explain that the low-apogee turn around Titan
was 2,000 kilometres closer to the moon than indicated in your plan.
We were within flight-safety parameters, sir.
That was not my question, Cadet.
We had discussed changing our approach after I filed the plan.
The final decision was made en route.
I didn't consider it significant enough to mention.
I apologize for the confusion, sir. I should have been more precise.
Did you see Mr. Albert's ship break formation before colliding with you?
No, sir. My first indication was when my proximity alarm went off.
You may be seated.
Did any of you see the collision?
No, sir.
Cadet Sito, you were in the tail position.
You should have seen any sign of trouble from Cadet Albert.
- Yet you saw nothing? - That is correct, sir.
- Did your attention falter? - No, sir.
I was flying solely on sensor readings.
I had no visual contact with Cadet Albert when he broke formation.
Sensor readings?
What's wrong?
It's unusual to fly on sensors alone during this type of manoeuvre.
A pilot relies on visual clues from the others to maintain formation.
If you were flying on sensors alone,
perhaps you could tell us the orientation of his ship
- before the collision. - I don't know, sir.
You were flying a ship, travelling 80,000 kph,
with Cadet Albert's ship less than ten metres away,
and you don't know what his orientation was?
I don't remember, sir.
- Sir, may l? - Go ahead.
..Josh was a good pilot,
but lately he'd been having difficulties.
He'd get nervous in close fly-bys and pull away in the final seconds.
His formation flying was erratic.
And you didn't report this?
No, sir, I didn't. We'd flown together a long time.
I thought he could handle it if I gave him a chance.
I was wrong.
You are saying that the accident was Cadet Albert's fault?
I think Josh got frightened and tried to pull out of the turn prematurely,
and then crashed into Cadet Hajar.
Josh was our friend.
We didn't want him to be remembered as someone who panicked.
Please be seated.
I am very disturbed by what I have heard here today.
By your own admission, you allowed your team-mate to fly
when you knew he had difficulties maintaining formation.
That demonstrates a serious lack of judgement.
I am also disturbed
that you did not come forward with this information immediately.
We will have data from Mr. Crusher's flight recorder tonight.
We will reconvene at 1300 hours tomorrow.
Everything's fine. Trust me.
The Academy has one of the best reconstructive-analysis labs.
There's not much we could contribute.
Yes. That may well be.
But Wesley's one of our own.
- Understood, sir. We'll get on it. - Good. I spoke to Admiral Brand.
She's giving us access to all the physical evidence and testimony.
Thank you, gentlemen.
You shouldn't have said it, Nick. Josh wasn't to blame.
- I had to do something. - You said we wouldn't have to lie.
We all agreed not to lie to them.
I didn't lie. Everything I said was the truth.
The accident was not his fault!
He was my friend, too, Wes.
I worked to get him on the team. But he panicked.
- We don't know that! - We do!
None of us wanted to say it, but we've all had the same thought.
Haven't we?
He must've pulled away too soon. I think he got scared.
Wes, you want to protect his memory. We all do.
But we have to look out for ourselves now.
You want us to tell them everything?
We might as well start packing our bags.
Are we ready for that?
We'll take this one step at a time.
This is the report from your flight recorder.
It was damaged so badly,
the lab could only retrieve a third of the telemetry.
And all of it is before the collision.
There's no problem here.
I don't know if I can do this, Nick.
You don't have to lie. Just don't volunteer any new information.
The first night I met you, Wes, I knew I wanted you on this squad.
You understand what it means to be able to count on someone,
because you've been out there, putting yourself on the line.
You know you have to be able to count on your team,
because your life is in their hands, and their lives are in yours.
We promised each other in the beginning that we'd stick together.
We were Nova Squadron. Nobody else could say that.
Even after we graduated, we tried to get posted on the same duty.
We were gonna be a team for a long time.
Josh can't be a part of those plans any more.
But I think he would still want us to be a team.
What do you think?
Mr. Crusher?
At ease.
- Am I interrupting? - No.
I was just going over my deposition for tomorrow.
They told me you'd be here.
I found this in Josh's room. I think it belongs to you.
Our ski trip.
Josh and I went to Calgary.
He forgot his sweater, so he borrowed mine.
He told me you helped him with his classes.
A little. He only needed help in statistical mechanics.
Josh's weakness was mathematics.
No. He could do it. He just didn't like to.
His mother and I thought he'd never get out of calculus.
Then he found out what the Academy entrance requirements were like.
That turned him around.
He studied after class, got a tutor.
He really worked hard.
Never gave up on anything.
And he had a lot of respect for you,
and everybody on the team.
I realize it was his fault.
That everybody could have been killed.
And I want to say that...
I want to say I'm sorry.
I'm sorry that he let you down.
Are you ready, Mr. Crusher?
Yes, sir.
At the beginning of our run to Titan, I'm on the right wing.
Where is Mr. Albert at this point?
On my port quarter, approximately 50 metres away.
We receive the signal to begin the diamond formation.
Cadet Locarno is coming into view.
We're in a 20-degree turn around Titan.
We come out of Titan's gravity about now.
That is all the data we were able to recover from the flight recorder.
Mr. Crusher,
would you describe what happened after you left your orbit of Titan?
Once we cleared the moon,
Mr. Locarno led us into a Yeager Loop.
Approximately nine seconds later, my proximity alarm went off.
I tried to veer away but it was too late and I was hit.
I lost control of my ship. The power coupling exploded in my cockpit.
I don't know how, but I managed to activate my escape transporter.
The next thing I remember is finding myself on the evac station on Mimas
with the rest of the squadron, except Josh.
Do you have anything to add to your testimony?
No, sir.
Mr. Crusher,
will you describe a Yeager Loop?
The ships begin in a diamond-slot formation,
and climb and loop backwards at a steep angle,
and at the peak of the loop,
turn over and accelerate in a new direction.
Mr. Crusher, did your team remain in formation throughout the loop?
Yes, sir.
I want you to be absolutely clear on this point.
Before the collision, was Nova Squadron in a diamond-slot formation?
Yes, sir.
Computer, display Saturn NavCon file 6-379.
These images are from a navigational-control satellite
in orbit around Saturn during a sensor sweep.
Computer, freeze image.
Magnify sector Gamma three and enhance.
This image was recorded
when your ships moved into the satellite's range.
According to the time index, what you see on the monitor took place
seven seconds after Nova Squadron completed the Yeager Loop.
Mr. Crusher, are these ships in a diamond-slot formation?
No, sir.
What is your explanation, Mr. Crusher?
I have none, sir.
Everything's going to be OK, Wesley.
There must be an explanation.
Data and Geordi are analyzing the recorder and satellite transmission.
There must be something wrong with the data.
- Maybe it was tampered with. - Mom!
There must be some explanation. I know you're telling the truth,
but the data made it look like you were lying.
I've spoken with the other parents.
I'm going to ask Admiral Brand to delay the inquiry...
Don't. You can't do that.
I'm going to let them ruin your career.
You haven't done anything wrong.
don't try to protect me.
Please stay out of this.
The weeds keep popping up in the pittosporum.
Poor plants don't have a chance to grow.
You should use a herbicide
instead of pulling the weeds with your bare hands.
And you could explore space on a holodeck instead of a starship.
Boothby, tell me some more about Nova Squadron.
- Not going well, is it? - No, it isn't.
Do you remember the parrises squares tournament of '24?
The final game against Minsk.
It took me three weeks to repair the grounds after the celebration.
We had a lot to celebrate.
Our team wasn't supposed to win. We were proud of them.
Well, the cadets today are just as proud of Nova Squadron.
Their celebration when Nova won the Rigel Cup
made '24 look like a dinner party.
To the other cadets, the members of that team are gods,
and that's a hard image to live up to.
But Nick Locarno watches out for them, keeps them together.
Nick is what makes that team special.
He's their coach, surrogate father and best friend. A natural leader.
The members of that team love him.
If he asks them to do something, they do it,
even if it means going right over a cliff.
Nothing conclusive. The collision occurred
four seconds after the satellite images were recorded.
We don't know how they got into the new formation or why they crashed.
We unsuccessfully tried 53 computational models
in an effort to simulate their movements prior to the crash.
There are just too many variables. Speed, attitude, course.
Did Wesley's flight recorder indicate anything unusual about the ship?
Starboard power flow was fluctuating.
But well within operational limits.
Fluidic pressure in the landing struts was low,
but that shouldn't matter.
Wesley opened his coolant interlock before the manoeuvre around Titan.
That is unusual.
The interlock is closed unless you're checking coolant levels.
There's no evidence of Wesley doing that sort of check.
Filling the coolant tanks requires an open interlock.
That needs a maintenance bay. Why else might you open the valve?
Well, to purge the plasma exhaust.
That would be hazardous while the ship was in flight.
Yeah. The engine would ignite the plasma.
Ignite the plasma!
That's exactly what they were trying to do.
Can you tell me what this manoeuvre is?
It's a Kolvoord Starburst, sir.
Five ships crossing within ten metres of each other
and igniting their plasma trails.
It's one of the most spectacular
and difficult demonstrations in precision flying.
And it hasn't been performed at the Academy for a hundred years. Why?
It was banned following a training accident, sir.
An accident in which all five cadets lost their lives.
I think that Nicholas Locarno wanted to end his Academy career
in a blaze of glory.
That he convinced the four of you to learn the Kolvoord Starburst
for the commencement demonstration.
If it worked, it would thrill the assembled guests,
and Locarno would graduate as a living legend.
Only it didn't work.
And Joshua Albert paid the price.
Am I correct?
Cadet, I asked you a question! Am I correct?
- I choose not to answer, sir. - You choose not to answer?
But you've already given an answer to the inquiry.
That answer was a lie.
I said the accident occurred after the loop. It did.
You neglected to mention that following the loop,
your team attempted a manoeuvre
that was the direct cause of the crash.
You told the truth up to a point.
But a lie of omission is still a lie.
Do you remember the first day you came aboard this ship?
Your mother brought you on the bridge.
Yes, sir.
You even sat in my chair. I was annoyed.
Presumptuous child playing on my ship.
But I never forgot how you knew every control, every display.
You behaved as though you belonged on the bridge.
Later, when I decided to make you an acting ensign,
I believed you'd be an outstanding officer.
I've never questioned that conviction...
..until now.
The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth.
Whether scientific, historical or personal truth!
It is the guiding principle of Starfleet.
If you can't find it within yourself to tell the truth,
you don't deserve to wear that uniform.
I'll make this simple for you, Mr. Crusher.
Either you tell Admiral Brand what really took place, or I will.
- Captain... - Dismissed!
- Your message said it was urgent. - They know what we did.
Calm down!
Tell me exactly what happened.
Capt Picard called me to the Enterprise.
He told me he knows. The Kolvoord manoeuvre, the cover-up, everything.
He said that if I didn't tell the truth, he would.
- Does he have any evidence? - No, but he knew how it happened!
Capt Picard doesn't know anything. He has a theory.
Let him tell them what he thinks.
They'll ask, "Is it true?" We'll say, "No."
There's no evidence. We'll get off with a reprimand.
I can't call Capt Picard a liar.
We have to hang on just a little bit longer, then this will be over.
- It's wrong, Nick. - Wesley...
I'll tell them what happened.
You're gonna tell them what happened?
You? Alone? You're gonna decide what happens to me?
To Sito? To Jean? You're gonna decide that?
I'm not gonna lie to them again, Nick! I can't live with it.
You can't lie to them. You can't live with this.
You have to tell them. Who the hell are you? You're gonna turn us in!
- Wait a minute. - You wait a minute!
He got to you, didn't he?
Picard told you some big story about duty and honour.
Must've been a good speech to make you turn your back on your friends.
We're Starfleet cadets. We have a duty to the truth.
What about your duty to your friends?
I got you on this team.
I gave you a chance when upperclassmen were waiting in line.
I said, "He won't let us down. He was on the Enterprise."
"He knows what it's like to trust somebody with his life."
I guess I was wrong.
If we all come forward together and tell Admiral Brand...
We don't wanna come forward!
Sito, Jean and me, we don't have a problem with this.
If you do, resign your appointment to the Academy and walk away.
Don't make us pay for your guilty conscience.
You'd let me do that?
You'd let me throw away my career just to save your neck?
To save the team!
That's more important than you, and more important than me.
And if I were in your place, I'd do it without hesitation.
But that's me.
Capt Satelk and I have gone over your testimony
and evidence from the crash.
Your statements cannot be reconciled
with the data from the NavCon satellite.
Your unwillingness to offer any explanation for this contradiction
is disappointing, and raises suspicion.
We cannot escape the conclusion...
..that either the data is faulty in some way,...
..or you have lied to us.
However, suspicion is not proof,
and I have no proof that you have lied to this inquiry.
Therefore, if no further evidence is presented,
I have no choice but to close this investigation.
For filing an inaccurate flight plan,
and for allowing Cadet Albert to fly when you knew he had difficulties,
I'm ordering a formal reprimand
placed on each of your permanent records.
I'm also revoking your flight privileges.
This inquiry is closed.
I wish to add to my testimony.
Proceed, Mr. Crusher.
Yesterday I testified that the crash occurred following a Yeager Loop.
That is not entirely true.
We performed the loop,
and afterwards broke formation and attempted a Kolvoord Starburst.
We knew it was prohibited. We knew it was dangerous.
But we wanted to do something spectacular for the demonstration.
We pushed Josh into it, and he wasn't ready.
We thought we could do it. We thought we could do anything.
We were wrong.
And Josh died.
Josh didn't let us down, sir. It wasn't his fault.
Mr. Locarno,... are the leader of Nova Squadron.
Do you have anything to say?
Mr. Locarno?
No, sir.
Mr. Locarno has been expelled.
- They should've expelled all of us. - They very nearly did.
Mr. Locarno made an impassioned plea for the rest of you.
He said he'd used his influence to convince you to attempt the manoeuvre
and to cover up the truth.
He asked to take full responsibility.
He did exactly what he said he would.
He protected the team.
I feel awful. I've let down everyone. My mother, my friends, you.
You should feel bad.
And you will pay for what you've done.
Admiral Brand decided that, in addition to a formal reprimand,
your credits for the year are cancelled
and you will not advance with your class.
I understand.
It's not going to be easy,
staying here on campus, everyone knowing what you did.
You have difficult times ahead.
Yes, sir.
Thank you, Captain.
You knew what you had to do.
I just made sure that you listened to yourself.
- Goodbye, Cadet. - Goodbye, Captain.

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