- Geordi, have you found it? - Not yet.
I'm starting to get some fumes.
Ammonia, chlorine, potassium chloride.
I can feel the heat from here.
- There it is. - How far?
About ten metres up the ODN line.
Boy, it's hot. I'd say over 2,000 degrees.
I'm going in.
We're OK. I've activated the emergency suppression system.
His vital functions are completely normal.
The interface unit is operating within normal parameters.
- Why did he start coughing? - Psychosomatic response.
I feel like I'm actually here.
I mean there, in the Jefferies tube.
When I saw the smoke, I couldn't help but cough.
No one has ever had so complete a sensory experience.
The interface is perfect for him.
His visor inputs allow the probe
to transmit directly to his cerebral cortex.
It looks like this is going to work.
Geordi, I'd like to get the probe out of the Jefferies tube
and onto the launch bay before we reach Marijne Vll.
Will do.
Wait a minute.
Something's wrong. Can't get my left leg to work.
What is it?
The probe responds to any movement Geordi intends to make.
When his brain says move his leg, the interface should move the probe.
The tactile sensors must be too low. I will increase the input.
There it goes.
I'm on my way down.
- Why the bodysuit? - It provides tactile sensations.
Geordi feels he is in the same environment as the probe.
Geordi, what's wrong?
Nothing. I'm seeing my reflection in a panel.
I forgot what a handsome guy I am.
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 civilisations... boldly go where no one has gone before.
Captain's log, stardate 47215.5.
We're answering a distress call from the science vessel Raman,
which is trapped in the atmosphere of an unusual gas-giant planet.
We will use an experimental interface probe in our attempt to rescue it.
I have reviewed the vessel's mission plans.
The Raman was to go to the lower atmosphere,
11,000 kilometres below its current position.
The crew was to sample the atmosphere then return to a safer orbit.
Something must have happened.
Shield failure or some kind of inversion reaction in the nacelles.
- Any life signs? - Our biosensors are useless.
- Too much interference. - The crew might still be alive.
We can't tell from up here.
Will the probe be able to transmit?
The probe's particle beam should cut through the interference.
We may have to work at close to tolerance levels.
Will your nervous system be able to handle that much input?
We've already done tests at 70-percent tolerance.
We can go higher. The safety override will kick in at 98-percent tolerance.
- That'll disengage the interface. - Captain.
A transmission from Starfleet Command. Admiral Holt.
In my ready room.
The seven people on board are our priority.
- Is the probe ready for launch? - Yes, sir.
Send it directly to the aft section of the Raman.
That's just one bulkhead from the bridge.
I'll interface with the probe
- And take it from there. - Make it so.
- Hello, Marcus. - Jean-Luc.
How's life on DS3?
We're hosting this year's palio.
The Ferengi have already been accused
of trying to bribe the Breen pilot into throwing the race.
- There's nothing unusual about that. - Nothing at all.
I wish I could say I was calling just to catch up on things.
Nine days ago, the Hera left here on a routine courier mission.
We were in contact with it for five of those days.
Then it disappeared without a trace.
- The Hera? - I'm afraid so.
The Excelsior and the Noble have been retracing its course for 72 hours.
I'll keep them at it for another 72.
But to be honest, another week would make no difference.
I'll inform Cmdr La Forge.
- I'd like a word with Cmdr La Forge. - Aye, sir.
I will be on the bridge.
Geordi, I just spoke with Starfleet. The Hera is missing.
My mother?
Capt La Forge has disappeared along with the rest of her crew.
I saw your father last week and your sister ten days before that.
I decided I missed my favourite son.
- Your only son, Ma. - You'll have to see the Hera again.
We have a lot of new faces.
Our new chief engineer juices up the nacelles every chance she gets.
I think she's the best technician in the fleet.
OK, second best.
Come in.
- Sorry. I didn't know you were... - Don't worry.
Maybe you should meet her.
We'll be in the same sector next week.
Take a shuttle over and I'll introduce you.
- She wants to find me a wife. - See you at your father's party.
Remember, if you talk to him, it's a surprise.
This came in about three weeks ago.
I never got back to her.
The probe has entered the planet's atmosphere.
I'm ready to take it on board.
If you need a few days off, I'll run the interface.
It's calibrated specifically to my visor's inputs.
It would take ten hours to convert. Those crewmen can't wait.
The interface doesn't have to be fully compatible.
I wouldn't have the control you have, but it would still work.
Forget it.
I'm the best person for the job. We should proceed as planned.
- The Hera is reason enough. - The Hera is missing, that's all.
Until I hear different, my mother could have taken the crew on holiday.
Let's go.
Captain, the probe is through the airlock and in position on the Raman.
Picard to Cmdr Data, report.
Ready to bring the interface on line.
Activating remote sensors.
Initiating interface now.
Vital signs are normal.
- Geordi, how do you feel? - Fine.
- Do you have visual contact? - Not yet.
Turn up the input sensors. I'm not seeing anything.
OK, I can see. But no colours.
Increasing signal strength to 75 percent of tolerance.
That's better.
Your pulse is up. Your nervous system has to get used to the input levels.
I'm excited, that's all, Doctor.
This is like being on a roller coaster.
Or a first date. I'm alright.
I'll be the judge of that.
If your heart rate gets too high, we'll disconnect you.
It's a mess in here.
There must be a breach in the hull someplace.
I'm picking up atmospheric gases in the corridor.
Methane and ammonia, primarily.
That break in the hull might even be on the bridge itself.
I'm heading towards the bridge.
I've found someone.
- What is your position? - 12 metres up the main corridor.
He's trapped under some conduit from the bulkhead.
I can't move it. I'll need more power to the tractor beam.
Go to 80 percent of tolerance. No higher.
He's dead.
That door at the end of this corridor.
- What's it lead to? - A magnetic storage bay.
If there was a break in the bridge, that'd be the safest place to go.
Data, give me a phaser burst.
Narrow focus, level-four intensity.
I've found them.
They're dead. All of 'em.
There's a fire in here.
Data, disconnect.
What happened? Geordi!
I don't know. My hands.
They're burned.
- How did this happen? - An energy discharge in the suit.
Shouldn't the safety overrides stop that?
Yes, but I have a theory why they didn't.
The interface's tolerance levels were set very high.
Geordi's neural response to the input was so strong,
it created a feedback loop.
The sensors passing the sensation of heat to my hands overloaded.
The crew of the Raman are dead.
I would like to retrieve them, but not if it risks Geordi's safety.
If we turn down the sensory input on the probe, I'll be fine.
Seven people died down there. We should at least get their data.
If we operate the interface at lower input levels, the risk is acceptable.
- Picard to Riker. - Riker here.
Proceed with the probe.
We'll have to go in at the auxiliary control room.
- Their bridge is too badly damaged. - How long before it's in position?
Two hours. We must cut through the bulkhead.
Looks like you'll have time to recuperate.
There's something I've got to do anyway.
How are you, Dad?
As well as can be expected, under the circumstances.
- Are you OK? - Yeah.
I spoke with your sister this morning.
She said she'll be in touch with you in a few days.
Right now, she's pretty upset.
The service for the Hera will probably be on Vulcan.
Most of the crew were from there.
But your sister and I want to have a private ceremony.
Don't you think everybody's jumping the gun here?
Last I heard, there were still two ships looking for them.
They found no debris, no residual warp distortion.
- And no ship. - But that doesn't mean they won't.
Starfleet considers the Hera lost.
The search isn't much more than a formality at this point.
Geordi, your mother's gone.
Yeah, well, you can think that if you want.
But until I see hard evidence, I won't give up hope.
Alright, Geordi. Call me if you need anything.
Come in.
- Still working? - No.
I have finished adjusting the interface.
I am now waiting for Cmdr Riker to finish moving the probe.
- Do you need to be comforted? - No!
I was passing by and wondered what you were up to.
I am using the time to catch up on my study of poetry.
- There's nothing on the screen. - That is not entirely correct.
While the display is currently blank, this emptiness has a poetic meaning.
Therefore, it cannot be considered "nothing" as such.
- Says who? - The ancient Doosodarians.
Much of their poetry contains such lacunae or empty spaces.
Often, these pauses measured days, during which poet and audience
were encouraged to acknowledge the emptiness of the experience.
A few Starfleet Academy lectures seemed that way.
Are you certain you do not wish to talk about your mother?
- Why would you say that? - You are no doubt feeling distress.
While you claim to be just passing by,
that is most likely an excuse to discuss this uncomfortable subject.
- Am I correct? - No, Data.
Sometimes "just passing by" means just passing by.
Then I apologise for my premature assumption.
This particular poem has a lacuna of 47 minutes.
You may experience the emptiness with me, if you wish.
You know, Data,
maybe you gave up a little too easily.
I do not understand.
When I said, "Just passing by means just passing by",
I really didn't mean it.
Then my assumption was correct. You do wish to speak of your mother.
Am I crazy to think that she's still alive?
Your sanity is not in question.
However, your evaluation of the available information is biased.
She's a starship captain.
She's gotten out of impossible situations before.
Why is this any different?
Disappearances like that of the Hera
rarely end with the safe recovery of ship and crew.
That makes me feel much better!
Look, I'm sorry, Data. I didn't mean to snap at you.
I am not offended. You are upset. Your reactions are not surprising.
It's just that if, if she really is dead...
...I don't know what I'm gonna do.
Receiving the probe's telemetry.
Input levels are at 53 percent of tolerance.
That's too low, Data. I won't be able to do anything.
I'll start with a wide safety margin. We can adjust upward later.
- Ready? - Go ahead.
Initiating interface.
I can't see anything.
- I'm increasing the input now. - Yeah.
That's better, but I need more.
Is this level sufficient?
Geordi, do you hear me?
- Mom, is it you? - Is it you?
I forgot. All you see is this probe.
Yes, it's me. I'm on the Enterprise. I'm interfaced with this probe.
Geordi? Who are you speaking to? What are you seeing?
- But is it really you? - Yes, Geordi, it's Mom.
- How can it be? How is it possible? - There's no time to explain.
- We have to go down. - Down where?
- The surface. - Geordi, report.
Hang on, Doctor. Why?
Why do we have to go down to the surface?
- We're dying. - We?
The Hera? The Hera is down there?
- We're disconnecting you now. - Wait!
We need your help. I need your help.
- Mom. - Geordi.
The cut-off has been automatically activated.
He's in neural shock.
The sensory overload caused no permanent damage,
but I wouldn't expose him to that kind of stimulus again.
Any idea what caused this hallucination?
- His brain functions are normal. - I told you. I wasn't hallucinating.
Geordi, I've analysed the probe's sensor logs.
There are no records to indicate a living human presence.
She wasn't exactly there. Her ship is on the surface.
So you believe what you saw was some kind of transmission?
Somehow she has managed to communicate with me.
We have no indication of a transmission.
Maybe only I can detect it because I'm interfaced with the probe.
The probe does allow him to sense quantum fluctuations,
subspace anomalies and other phenomena invisible to other sensors.
Granted, but how could he perceive his mother visually
as if she were in the room?
I'm not sure, but our brains weren't designed
to process the kind of data Geordi was getting.
If the brain receives something it can't understand, it interprets it,
sometimes as a smell or a sound, sometimes visually.
- You see? - Geordi.
I'm not saying that your mother was really communicating with you.
I'm just trying to explain why you thought she was.
My mother's ship is trapped down there and we've got to help them.
Geordi, the Hera's last reported position was 300 light years away.
How could it end up here?
If the Hera is on the surface,
its hull could not withstand the atmospheric pressure.
At least let me go down and see.
I do not advise he use the interface. Sensory overload almost killed you.
- I'll be alright! - No, no, I'm not risking your life.
Data, find another way of salvaging the Raman. You have two hours.
I want you to talk to Counsellor Troi.
She's expecting you.
What's your mother like?
If you think I'm going to discuss my childhood, you're way off.
That's not what I asked.
Well, she's...
She's brilliant.
Funny. She's incredibly perceptive.
She knows people, knows what they're all about even before they speak.
She's always been that way.
She's a real good judge of character.
- When was the last time you saw her? - About seven months ago.
When she took command of the Hera. I went to a party for her crew.
She wanted me to come over and see her, but I was really busy then.
I suppose I could have made the time to go and see her,
but, you know, I just didn't think that...
I mean, you know, I... I didn't think that...
That it would be your last chance to see her.
That's not what I was going to say.
I want to suggest something. Call it a theory, alright?
You're worried about your mother's disappearance,
guilty you didn't see her when you had the chance,
so you're unwilling to consider that she might be dead.
Your need to believe she's alive is so strong
that it manifests itself as a physical image.
But she told me she's trapped on that planet, that she's in danger.
If this was wish fulfilment,
don't you think I'd be fantasising her safe and sound?
No. Because that would be the end of your fantasy.
You'd know it wasn't true.
The more involved and complicated and unending your story is...
...the longer you can believe your mother's still alive.
Well, that's your theory, Counsellor.
I've got one of my own.
I have explored the idea of using a tractor beam to pull the Raman up.
However, the interference prevents a positive lock.
If we set up a relay system?
That is my conclusion as well.
Two shuttles staggered between us and the Raman
with their shields refocusing the tractor beam.
Can we get the shuttles close enough safely? Mr La Forge?
Yeah, as long as we keep them above the troposphere.
- Then in that case... - But what about the Hera?
We'd leave my mother and her crew stranded.
- Commander... - I've been thinking about this.
A few weeks ago, I got a message from my mother.
She said her new chief engineer had been experimenting with a warp drive.
Now, I've seen the Hera. It uses trionic initiators in the warp coil.
They have side effects if you play around with them.
There have been reports of warp bubbles and subspace deformations.
So, what if that's what happened?
Not a warp bubble, but a subspace funnel.
Connecting two points?
The Hera could have created a distortion that emptied out here.
- Why here? - The Hera passed by ten days ago.
There's an awful lot of subspace disturbance here.
The ship may have picked up traces that directed the funnel back here.
So the Hera is somewhere out there?
Maybe it's surrounded by a warp field, but who knows for how long?
Do you have any evidence to support this hypothesis?
I got some odd subspace readings when I was interfaced.
- That could have been anything. - But I talked to her.
She said bring the Raman closer to the planet.
Mr Data, is any of this possible?
Yes, sir. However, it is highly unlikely.
- How unlikely? - Nearly impossible, sir.
- Start the shuttle plan. - Captain...
Mr La Forge.
I want you to know that I am not unsympathetic to your situation.
Your mother's disappearance is tragic,
but I cannot risk your safety on a dubious hypothesis.
Captain, if I'm right and there's one chance in a million she's alive...
I'm sorry, Geordi. My decision is made.
I understand, sir.
We'll be ready to use the tractor beam in less than an hour.
You didn't come all the way down here to say that.
No, I didn't.
I may have seemed harsh about the situation aboard the Raman.
But I don't want one of my best officers in unnecessary danger.
I guess I feel I should decide whether it's unnecessary or not.
My mother died when I was a baby.
All I have is pictures, and stories my father used to tell me about her.
I begged him to tell those stories over and over.
When I was five and I went to school,
I told my new friends those same stories, pretending she was alive.
Then I started believing she was alive, that she'd just gone away,
that she was coming back.
The teacher got wind of this...
...and she and my father had a talk with me.
They told me it was important to accept the fact
that my mother was dead and that she wasn't coming back.
And all the hoping in the world wouldn't make it so.
In my mind, that was the day that my mother actually died.
I cried all that night.
But after that, it started feeling better.
Your mother was dead. There was proof. A body, a funeral.
- It was a reality. - Geordi...
If I could see a body, if there were wreckage, I'd accept it,
but my mother has just disappeared.
And now, there's a possibility that she is alive.
And I'm not gonna quit.
Not yet.
I suspected you would attempt to operate the interface alone.
Did you?
I am familiar enough with your behaviour to predict some decisions.
- I guess you know me pretty well. - You are disobeying the Captain.
I can't do nothing when my mother may be down on that planet.
I cannot allow you to endanger your wellbeing.
Data, if I leave without knowing for sure,
I'll have to live with that all my life,
wondering if I left her to die.
I couldn't do that. That's why I've got to do this.
I could have you confined to quarters.
Then do it.
Nothing short of that will stop me from trying to save my mother.
What are you doing?
I will monitor the interface and attempt to keep you safe.
I cannot confine you to quarters for something you have not yet done.
We could both get in a lot of trouble.
There is a high degree of probability that you are correct.
Thanks, Data.
- However, I do have a request. - Yeah? What's that?
I ask you to consider the possibility that what you see is not real.
I will.
I promise.
I am establishing the interface.
- Mom? - Hello, Geordi.
Mom! How did you get here?
I'm not really with you, Geordi, I'm on my ship, on the surface.
- We were pulled into a warp funnel. - That's just what I thought.
How are we communicating?
We found a way to cut through the atmospheric interference.
Geordi, are you seeing your mother's image?
Yes. She's confirmed everything I said.
I am reading unusual subspace energy
similar to what the probe recorded when you first met your mother.
That's how she's communicating.
It's the only signal that could cut through the interference.
- We need your help. - I've been thinking about this.
I'm going to take the Raman into a low stationary orbit
and initiate an inverse warp cascade.
The distortion from the cascade should reverse the warp funnel.
Your ship will end up back where it started.
The atmosphere is more turbulent the farther down you go.
You may not get the Raman near to the Hera before being destroyed.
I have to try.
We're running out of time.
Shield back on line.
We're starting our descent.
Thank God!
- Thank God? - That you're alive.
That I was right about all this.
I can't wait to call Dad. He and Ariana had given up.
We're going home.
Well, eventually, yes. Data!
Everything's fading in and out.
- I'm losing the interface. - The probe moving is out of range.
Turn up the input gain to keep me connected.
We are already at 75 percent of tolerance.
Data! You can turn it all the way up to 100 if you do it slowly enough,
so my nervous system can adjust.
That is theoretically true. But even at this level,
you are already experiencing dangerous neural feedback.
There are over 300 people on board the Hera.
You and I are the only chance they've got.
I will increase the gain incrementally as you descend.
It's working.
When we disconnect the interface, we need time to lower the input levels
or your nervous system will go into shock.
Once I start the warp cascade, we can start dropping the gain.
We'll be within sensor range of the Hera in a few minutes.
Mom, I'm really sorry I didn't get by to see you a few weeks ago.
- You were too busy with work. - Yeah, well, I'm sorry.
It won't happen again.
Captain, the Raman is descending toward the planet.
We are at 90 percent of tolerance.
I calculate you will reach 100 percent before you reach the Hera.
Then we go beyond tolerance.
That is not advisable. You must cease your descent.
No, Geordi, don't, please.
Data, I'm taking this ship down.
If you don't boost the gain past tolerance levels,
I'll lose the interface and go into shock.
Geordi, you are putting me in a difficult position.
Please, cease your descent.
I won't do it, Data. Increase the tolerance.
Disengaging safety systems.
Going to full tolerance levels now.
Thank you, Data.
- We're getting close. - Thank God!
- Cmdr La Forge! - Yes, Captain?
Stop your descent. Disengage the interface.
Sorry, Captain, I can't do that.
Damn it, Geordi, you'll kill yourself!
If I come back now, my mother and her entire crew will die.
I'm scanning for your ship.
I'm not getting anything.
We're still too far away.
No, not really. I should be picking something up by now.
I'm not finding anything.
There's no warp funnel, no ship.
There's nothing there!
- Doctor, report? - His synapses are overloading.
- He can't survive! - Geordi, what's happening?
Reverse tractor beam.
Reversing tractor beam.
What are you?
You're killing us. We must go down!
What's happening? Report.
You're trapped?
Is there any way to disconnect him?
If we take him off too abruptly, he'll go into neural shock.
Caught on the ship?
Reduce the input gradually, but get him out.
You killed the Raman's crew?
- We can deceive his receptors. - Deceive them?
Feed them sensory data from his earlier experiences with the probe.
Disconnect the interface but maintain the input levels.
Then lower them in a controlled way.
- What do you want? - Like a decompression tank? Try it.
It was an accident? Captain, I have to take the ship lower.
As I understand, when the Raman neared the planet,
it accidentally picked up some life forms
that live in the atmosphere.
Subspace beings, intelligent.
When the ship went higher, the beings were trapped.
How do you know all this?
One of them can communicate. It must have read my thoughts via the probe
and took the form of my mother to persuade me to take the ship lower.
Are they responsible for the death of the Raman's crew?
Yes, but not on purpose.
They probably tried communicating with them the way they are with me,
by accessing their thoughts.
It must have been fatal to the crew.
I guess the interface is what protected me.
I have to take them back, Captain.
They can't survive so far up in the atmosphere.
I'll turn the ship and come back just as soon as I'm...
What's happening?
The atmosphere is getting turbulent. It's overloading the systems.
It's difficult keeping the shields up.
We're safe now.
I'm losing power.
- Shield failure in eight seconds. - Can we switch the input?
Shields are failing.
Switching inputs.
- Is it working? - His vital signs are stabilising.
He's going to make it.
Captain's log, supplemental.
We have disengaged Mr La Forge from the interface
and are en route to Starbase 495.
You disobeyed my direct order.
You put yourself in grave danger. I am not happy.
Yes, sir. I take complete responsibility. Data was...
I will deal with Mr Data later.
Meanwhile, I have to write this into your permanent record.
- Yes, sir. - Dismissed.
I'm very sorry you didn't find your mother.
Thank you, sir.
You know, it's funny. When I was down there, it was so real.
I felt like I had a chance to say goodbye.

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