l'm here.
l'm here to see Mr. Kurros.
Could you...?
Could you tell me where to find Mr. Kurros? Ooh...
Do not mind Bevvox.
He can be... grouchy in the morning.
Welcome aboard.
Thank you.
You seem tense.
This is a time for celebration.
The geo-stability of your world has been restored...
your people saved...
and all because you had the wisdom
to accept our help.
You accomplished in days
what our scientists failed to achieve in decades.
That it not to say it was not a challenge.
Finding the precise harmonic
for a planetary containment field
did put my colleague here to the test,
but, in the end...
she prevailed.
We owe you our lives.
Solving problems is what we do,
and seeing the look of gratitude in your eyes
is almost reward enough.
l have some bad news.
Our bernicium mines were destroyed
in the last series of quakes.
The ore's buried under 60 gigatons of rock.
We can't get to it.
We hoped you'd accept this instead.
A rubidium geode.
The only one ever found on our planet.
lt is rare...
but hardly unique
and it is not what we agreed upon.
l'm sorry.
This is all we can offer you.
You are lying.
The mines collapsed, but before they did,
you transferred the ore to a shielded storage facility.
Needless to say...
we detected it.
Please, we need the ore
to repair our replicator systems.
Without it, we'll be unable to feed our people.
Get it to us now...
or l will deactivate the containment field.
Have you ever experienced a level-12 seismic event?
Most find it...
...quite unnerving.
l'll have the ore transported at once.
This... this was all a misunderstanding.
Of course.
lt is already forgotten, my friend.
Perhaps we will do business again someday.
Show our friend back to his shuttle.
l would hate for him to get lost in such an unfamiliar place.
Pardon me.
Captain, long-range scans have detected...
One second.
l've wasted two hours
on this thing and l'm no closer to solving it.
You can thank Ensign Paris for introducing
the artifact to the ship.
He was behind the last shipwide craze, too--
Now it's ''sheer lunacy.''
Another hour and l'll go insane.
The solution is quite simple.
lf you align...
No. l want to figure this out myself.
You said something about long-range scans?
They've revealed a planetoid
with high concentrations of dilithium crystals.
Let's take a look.
Got it!
False alarm.
Keep at it, Harry.
We're within visual range.
On screen.
lnitial scans revealed
substantial dilithium deposits beneath the planetoid's crust.
Full sensor sweep.
The deposits are in the upper mantle,
about 60 kilometers down.
We'll have to use phasers to cut through...
Hold on.
What is it?
Some kind of resonance wave emanating from the core.
lt's building fast, Captain.
Right after we ran our scans.
That can't be a coincidence.
Back us off, Tom.
The planetoid is destabilizing.
We're trapped in a cloud of metreon gas.
lt's collapsed our warp field
and knocked impulse engines off-line.
A heavily armed vessel just dropped out of warp,
off the port bow.
Captain, l recognize it.
lt's Hazari.
Species 4228.
Technologically advanced, extremely violent.
They make excellent tactical drones.
What do they want with us?
The Hazari are hired to capture and deliver alien vessels.
Bounty hunters.
So who hired them?
The Malon,
the Devore-- we've made our share of enemies here.
They're hailing.
Surrender. No one need be hurt.
My client would prefer your vessel intact.
Who hired you?
That's not your concern.
l'm only asking because l'm curious how much they're paying.
Maybe we can do better.
We're far from defenseless.
Why don't you save yourself some trouble.
lt's no trouble.
Charge phaser banks to full power.
Fire and you'll ignite the gas cloud.
You'll be destroyed.
You've left me no choice.
l suggest you back off
if you want to save your own ship.
End transmission.
They are moving closer.
They've locked on a tractor beam.
Looks like they're calling your bluff, Captain.
lt was a bluff, wasn't it?
Seven, do we still have warp power?
Yes, but it's useless while we remain in the gas cloud.
Maybe not.
Reroute every spare gigawatt to the shields.
Prepare to fire phasers.
Our target?
The gas cloud.
Do you believe the impact will throw us clear?
lf our shields hold.
That's a big if.
Go to warp 1 on my command.
Shields are holding.
We're approaching the perimeter of the gas cloud.
We're out.
Warp speed.
No sign of pursuit.
They weren't that heavily damaged.
Why aren't they following us?
There's the reason they didn't come after us.
They've got reinforcements throughout the sector.
23 ships.
And long-range scans show more on the way.
Must be one hell of a reward.
The size of the bounty is immaterial.
According to Seven of Nine, the Hazari pride themselves
on honoring their agreements.
Great. Bounty hunters with a work ethic.
There's got to be a way out,
something they haven't anticipated.
Download the data for the Captain.
She wants to see what she can come up with on her own.
Should l have the Doctor prepare a hypospray?
Excuse me?
So you can absorb the caffeine more directly.
Save time.
Point well taken.
l'll make this my last cup.
How about trying a sounding board?
Oh, you don't want that job.
Try me.
lt's these Hazari.
They're like jackals.
Circling... feinting to draw us out
while they cut off every route of escape.
You make them sound worse than the Borg.
At least the Borg come straight at you.
The Hazari wait, invite you to make mistakes.
They've anticipated almost every move we can make,
and the few things they seem to have missed,
l'm convinced are traps.
You still glad you volunteered?
We've faced tough odds before.
You'll get us through.
Good night.
There is nothing like a good problem
to spark the synapses, is there?
To open the mind
to new possibilities... new ways of seeing things.
Of course, one must always confront
self-doubt and fear, but that is a small price to pay
for the... exhilaration of finding the perfect solution.
Who are you and what do you want?
You have a problem, Captain.
l am the solution.
Security to the Mess Hall. lntruder alert.
l deactivated your communications device,
Captain, but do not worry.
l am not an intruder.
ln fact, l am not really here.
A hologram.
Nothing so crude.
An isomorphic projection.
You actually enjoy this?
lt's an acquired taste.
lt bears a resemblance to an Alkian confection
we acquired several years ago.
l am a member of a small group--
explorers like you, but we seek out challenges,
problems to be solved--
technological, biological, social,
even artistic.
A think tank.
l like that.
lt's very... apt.
Our ''Think Tank'' is nearby.
A modest vessel.
l have come to offer our help with your Hazari paradox.
That is right.
ls it an escape route or is it a trap?
Do they know that you know that they know?
lt is the best kind of puzzle--
pure tactics, psychology.
Something tells me your help comes with a price tag.
Whatever your culture has to offer that is unique.
Technology perhaps, or maybe something
you would not even think to value.
l would need a closer look at your database.
And how do l know you aren't an Hazari trap?
Maybe they're trying
to lure us into an ambush like before.
You are wise to be suspicious, Captain.
We have done some preliminary analysis
on their maneuvers.
lt does suggest some more likely ambushes.
l've downloaded the data onto your computer.
All right.
You've got my attention,
but l want to meet you face-to-face
and the rest of your crew.
Naturally. Our coordinates are in here, too,
but we have our own security concerns, Captain.
Please bring only one crewman and no scanning equipment.
Fair enough.
Then, l look forward to meeting you... in person.
We're approaching the coordinates.
Full stop.
Looks like there's nothing here.
Maybe they're cloaked.
l'm reading a subspace flux.
The vessel's hull is composed of a neutronium-based alloy.
Starfleet's theorized about such materials,
but we've never come close to producing them.
Neither have the Borg.
The Think Tank's technology is advanced.
Well, you and l will have a chance to evaluate it firsthand.
Mr. Kim, you have the transport coordinates.
The universal translator must be inoperative.
Or his speech patterns are too complex to process.
They must be studying it.
Actually, she is studying you.
Our resident expert on temporal physics.
Perhaps the most gifted member of our group.
She finds you interesting.
How do you communicate?
One of my most gifted crewmen, Seven of Nine.
Bionetic implants...
neural transceivers?
A Borg?
l've never seen one outside the collective.
l am an individual now.
You may address your comments to me.
Forgive me.
l am Kurros and this is Fennim.
ln answer to your earlier question,
this device allows the members of our group
to communicate telepathically.
lt sounds as if another member of our crew
is anxious to meet you.
A bioplasmic life-form.
His name is Bevvox.
He prefers a variable-gravity environment.
What's his specialty?
At the moment, exo-sociology and quantum mechanics,
but his interests vary from time to time.
Bevvox founded our group more than 100 years ago,
after wandering the galaxy on his own for a few millennia.
How old is this creature?
lf you please, that is a sensitive topic with him.
And there is one other... individual
who rounds out our group.
An artificial intelligence.
The mind of a mathematician
and the soul of an artist.
l'm afraid he'd much rather be modeling a fractal sculpture,
than analyzing the data of our latest astronomical scan.
And now you have met us all.
A small group of minds,
but we have helped hundreds of clients.
We turned the tide in the war
between the Bara Plenum and the Motali Empire,
reignited the Red Giants of the Zai Cluster.
Just recently, we found a cure for the Vidiian phage.
The Vidiians?
You would hardly recognize them now.
Just last month, we helped retrieve a Lyridian child's
runaway pet-- a subspace mesomorph, l might add.
We had to invent a whole new scanning technology
just to find it.
And what did you ask for as compensation?
One of their transgalactic star charts--
the best map of the known galaxy ever created.
When we helped the citizens of Rivos V resist the Borg,
all we asked for was the recipe for their famous
zoth-nut soup.
Care for a taste?
Another time, perhaps.
Tell me, is there any job you won't do?
What do you mean?
Well, we have a non-interference protocol-- our Prime Directive.
l'm curious where you draw the line.
As you know, there is no shortage of conflict
in what you call the Delta Quadrant.
Many of our clients are at war.
To be frank, we will assist
in the neutralization of fleets, starbases,
even planets, but we will not participate
in the decimation of an entire species,
nor will we design weapons of mass destruction.
My colleague here wishes to speak to Seven of Nine
about her bionetic technology.
May he interface with you?
l am in direct telepathic communication
with this... individual.
lt is requesting information about
integrating organic components into its technology.
Feel free to give him some pointers.
You're welcome.
To business, Captain.
l believe we can solve the Hazari paradox
without firing a single weapon.
That's just what l'm looking for.
Then there is only the matter of payment.
Voyager's schematics and an overview of its database.
Specify what you want and l'll see what l can do.
l recommend the replicators.
They're very popular this year.
l'll contact you with our requests.
l take it first contact was a success?
l have some qualms about their morality,
but l believe they can help us.
lt was an interesting experience.
Glad to hear it.
We don't have much good news of our own.
Every escape route we've considered is clearly a trap
and more Hazari ships keep joining the search.
Then we have no choice.
We'll put our own plans on hold
and see what the Think Tank comes up with.
Come in.
You have a visitor.
Mr. Kurros has returned in isomorphic form.
Send him in.
Welcome back.
Captain, we have compiled a short list
of items we would like.
lt was not easy.
Voyager has a great deal to offer.
''Quantum slipstream technology.''
l should warn you.
We never got that to work reliably.
lt is still intriguing, theoretically.
''Neelix's recipe for chadre'kab?''
''An ancient Olmec figurine.''
l guess Commander Chakotay
could be persuaded to part with it.
l'm pleased to hear that.
You can't be serious.
l realize the next item may seem unorthodox,
but l believe
it can be beneficial to both of us.
You never mentioned anything about bartering my crew members.
She will have an extraordinary opportunity
to explore the galaxy as one of us.
l'm afraid the answer is no.
l understand your feelings, Captain, but...
have you thought to ask Seven of Nine herself?
A curious proposition.
To say the least.
How do you wish to proceed?
l want your opinion.
They are offering us the assistance we require.
l am the payment they require.
The solution is obvious.
This isn't a puzzle, Seven.
There's no ''solution.''
What's at issue here is your future.
The issue is Voyager's survival.
While l still question
this Think Tank's way of doing things,
there is a genuine opportunity for exploration.
lt could be the chance of a lifetime.
You're saying l should go?
l don't want you to go,
but it's not my right to tell you what to do.
Until now, l've kept a close eye on your progress,
helped you with decisions,
but l think you've learned enough as an individual
to make this decision yourself.
Would you like to join them?
l am intrigued.
They are an unusual collective with a compelling mission,
but l require more data.
That's why l want you to talk to Kurros yourself.
See if he can answer your questions.
l appreciate your giving me this choice.
You've earned it.
And remember-- if you do choose to go...
make sure it's what you want...
not what you think is best for Voyager.
We're getting out of this--
with or without the Think Tank's help.
Why me?
l admire your humility.
The collective knowledge of the Borg
contained within a single mind.
When we factor in your innate intelligence
and the enhancements afforded you
by your bionetic implants,
we concluded you are an ideal candidate...
the first we have recruited in 17 years.
When did you arrive at this assessment?
During your... interview.
My dialogue with the artificial intelligence.
lt was the most efficient way to evaluate your abilities.
l am sure you can appreciate that.
How much do you know about me?
Enough to know
that you are tapping into only a fraction
of your potential as a member of Voyager's crew.
You were adjusting the deflector array
to improve shield harmonics.
Do you find such duties challenging?
Without problems that test
the limits of your abilities, you cannot expand them.
Perfection will always be beyond your reach.
Seven of Nine, you could become
one of the greatest intellects in the galaxy,
but that will not happen here among these
limited life-forms.
The crew of Voyager has accepted me...
integrated me into their collective.
integrated me into their collective.
They are your family.
lt was hard for me to leave my family, too...
and l was only a child...
not much older than you when you were first assimilated.
Why did you leave?
To help them-- and my world-- solve a cataclysmic problem.
The Think Tank requested you as payment?
l did not realize it at first-- l was too young--
but they gave me a remarkable opportunity,
and now l am offering the same to you.
Your group can assist many collectives,
and yet you often use that ability
as a means of coercion to obtain what you want.
How many have suffered because they were
unwilling to agree to your conditions?
We have a singular mission-- to perfect our knowledge.
Perfection sometimes necessitates selfishness.
lt is your life...
not Voyager's, not Captain Janeway's or anyone else's.
lt is up to you
to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.
l agree.
But l can do that here.
Please, take more time to think about this.
We will remain nearby in case you change your mind.
l doubt that will happen.
Seven of Nine, report to the Bridge.
May l accompany you?
As you wish.
Do you have a problem, Captain?
Two Hazari ships are approaching.
l have declined their offer.
Our first offer.
Glad you're sticking around.
Take your station.
They are dropping out of warp,
flanking our position.
Which one fired?
The ship to starboard.
Shields down to 60 percent.
Evasive maneuvers.
Target their weapon systems and return fire.
Their shields are holding.
l can't get away. They're right on top of us.
Hull integrity's been compromised on Decks 7 and 12.
Captain, when the Hazari strike in pairs,
one ship always remains behind
to reinforce the shields of the attacking vessel.
So we should target the support ship.
How much is this tip going to cost me?
This one is free.
l'll take it. Tuvok...
Firing photon torpedoes.
They are disengaging.
Get us out of here-- maximum warp.
Thanks for the help.
Consider it a friendly gesture of good will
in the hopes that Seven will change her mind.
l have not.
You are making a fatal mistake.
We have already analyzed hundreds of scenarios.
Voyager will not survive without our help.
Your scenarios, not mine.
Your confidence is unfounded, Captain.
Order Seven of Nine to join us.
We have an old expression, Kurros--
''Don't call us. We'll call you.''
Remodulate the shields to a phase-variant frequency.
His ship is vanishing from sensors.
lt's being absorbed into subspace.
l get the distinct feeling
they won't take no for an answer.
Same here.
Looks like we're facing two threats now--
the Hazari... and our would-be saviors.
Our offer was denied.
How shall we proceed?
We are already proceeding.
Our offer was refused.
We must let the scenario continue.
Our calculations indicate
a 96 percent chance the Borg will still be ours.
Then it is decided.
We will wait...
and let our problem... solve itself.
Duranium hull fragments,
a thruster assembly, human organic residue...
We were supposed to disable their ship,
not destroy it!
They've entered the debris field.
Detonate the spatial charges.
Their vessel has taken heavy damage.
Shields and weapons are off-line.
Move us into position.
Lock on a tractor beam
and pull them into the shuttlebay.
We're in transporter range.
l've got a lock.
Two life-forms.
Any luck?
l'm still trying to access their primary database.
Let me guess.
They're the strong but silent types.
Very silent.
Did you try a mind-meld?
Without success.
They're unusually resistant.
Well, hold off on the torture
till we see what we can dig up here.
l found something.
A series of encoded transmissions.
They've been discussing Voyager--
our coordinates, our defenses.
Whoever hired the Hazari know a lot about us.
Check their sensor logs.
See if they had any visitors recently.
l've got some bio-readings, but they're pretty scrambled.
lf they are bio-readings,
perhaps the Doctor can unscramble them.
Tell him to give it a try.
l've created a forensic reconstruction
from the bio-readings, using the holo-emitters.
Brace yourselves.
Huh... they must really hold a grudge.
We haven't run into them for months.
l'm sorry, Doctor.
Something doesn't feel right.
The Malon are economically motivated.
And there's no profit in revenge.
Take a look at this.
lsomorphic signatures embedded in the bio-readings.
This was no Malon.
lt was only a projection.
You mean that's a hologram...
of a hologram?
ln a manner of speaking.
l believe l can restore
the original bio-signal parameters.
Brace yourself.
Well, it appears
our Hazari paradox is more complex than we thought.
l believe we're both being manipulated by the same person.
Recognize him?
His name is Kurros.
The Malon you met with
was nothing more than a projection.
My sensors would have detected a hologram.
Not this one.
Kurros is a member of a... Think Tank.
They solve problems for a price.
Oh, you have heard of them.
They're notorious in this sector.
They've made quite a few enemies.
Enemies who might be willing to pay a hell of a bounty.
Their technology is very advanced.
Makes them difficult to track.
Not if we work together.
You're the best hunters in the Quadrant
and we have the perfect lure.
All we have to do now is...
outthink the Think Tank.
We've got a puzzle,
and we're not leaving this room until we solve it.
The Think Tank is out there somewhere,
hiding in subspace.
How do we find them?
And even if we can, their ship's hull
is neutronium-based alloy, impervious to our weapons.
How do we capture them?
What if we send out a multispatial probe?
lt would take weeks of scanning to find them.
We're not willing to wait that long.
We could use subspatial charges to force them into the open.
Where do we target the charges?
We've still got to find them first.
Maybe we're going about this the wrong way.
A direct assault seems unlikely to succeed.
''Pure tactics, psychology...''
that's how they solve problems.
That's what we have to do.
They've created this paradox
to manipulate us into giving them Seven of Nine.
How do we manipulate them?
l thought we were onto something with B'Elanna's plan to...
Forget it. l was wrong.
Let him talk.
We're talking in circles.
Three hours, no progress.
l should have contacted my ships by now.
Maybe we can't outthink them.
We have to assume they've planned for every contingency,
including anything we could come up with to undermine their plan.
This thing has been driving me crazy.
You said you knew the solution. Prove it.
Seven, how'd you do that?
l scanned the device.
lts mechanism operates on a simple fractal regression.
You scanned it?
That's cheating.
Cheating is often more efficient.
lf you can't solve a puzzle, cheat.
lf you can't outthink a Think Tank, don't try.
Are you suggesting we give up?
Not at all.
When you were in contact
with the artificial intelligence,
you were linked
through their internal communications array.
Yes, for several seconds.
lf you were to link with them again,
we might be able to disrupt those systems.
lf they can't communicate,
they can't function as a Think Tank.
They'd be vulnerable.
Back to square one-- how do we find them?
Simple. We give them what they want.
You're going to join their group willingly.
They won't believe her.
We'll have to make them believe.
Pull up a chair.
We've got some more work to do.
An Hazari vessel is sending hails into subspace.
lt's trying to contact us.
Put them through.
They're responding.
Hazari vessel, we have received your hails.
Can we be of assistance?
You deceived us.
l do not believe we have met.
Stop the pretense.
You wanted us to deliver Voyager.
Very well, but only if you triple our bounty.
My friend, regardless of the circumstances,
we have a contract.
Pay us, or we let Voyager go.
All right.
We will triple the bounty,
but you must deliver them to us... now.
We'll contact the rest of our ships.
We'll seize Voyager as planned.
Shields down to 30 percent.
Return fire.
Our phasers aren't penetrating their shields.
That last volley took out
our shield generators and phaser banks.
Life support's failing, all decks.
Let us be honest, Captain.
Things do not seem to be going your way.
Don't count us out just yet.
l admit you have been clever.
You uncovered our subterfuge,
but you failed to factor in all the variables.
The greed of the Hazari, for example.
Photon torpedoes?
Aft launchers are still on line.
Target a full spread at the lead Hazari ship.
A few torpedoes will not alter the outcome.
lf you do not convince Seven of Nine to join us now,
the destruction of your ship is 99.8 percent certain.
Direct hit.
lt's been disabled.
Clinging to that .2 percentage?
Hazari reinforcements should be here any minute.
He's right.
Sensors just picked up
a half dozen ships on an intercept course.
Captain, l'm detecting an unauthorized shuttle launch.
lt's Seven of Nine.
What the hell is she doing?
l believe she's saving your ship.
She's not answering hails.
Her shuttle's being pulled into subspace.
She's gone.
Have a safe journey home...
Seven of Nine, welcome.
Your hospitality is irrelevant.
l am here because you left me no choice.
You gave in to your human instincts
to save your crew, as we knew you would.
Just another factor in our equation.
lf Voyager is destroyed, l will not cooperate.
Do not worry.
The solution to the Hazari paradox is quite simple.
We have what we want.
Call off your attack.
Not until we've been compensated.
But first order your other vessels to stand down.
Now, or we'll destroy Voyager.
Why is he in such a hurry?
lf we de-cloak, we would be vulnerable.
The Hazari could make quite a bounty on us...
far more than we are paying them.
Their technology is inferior to yours.
They would never attack you directly.
l think this is a trap--
a new paradox your Captain has created for us.
lf we call their bluff,
the Hazari might destroy Voyager and we would lose you.
lf we reveal ourselves, we could be destroyed.
You told me, ''without problems
''to test the limits of your ability,
you can never expand them.''
There is one very simple way to narrow the odds.
We simply link you to our communications system,
allow our artificial intelligence
to probe your mind as it did before,
and Captain Janeway's plans
will be revealed like a jewel in a bed of fog.
Sick Bay to Bridge.
Seven's neural transceiver has been activated.
Acknowledged. Do it.
l'm transmitting the carrier wave.
Voyager is sending an interference signal
into our systems using her cortical implants as a relay.
Disconnect the link.
Disconnect the link.
They can't understand you.
Voyager to Hazari vessels.
Their systems are down.
Fire the spatial charges.
We seem to be experiencing some turbulence.
Primitive spatial charges.
l will have the dome back on line
before they can do any damage.
We're being pulled out of subspace.
l've got a lock on Seven.
lnitiate transport.
The Hazari vessels
are converging on the Think Tank.
Setting a course.
l urge you to reconsider, Captain.
A good guest knows when he's outstayed his welcome.
We can still negotiate a peaceful solution.
Do not destroy my faith in diplomacy.
Your diplomacy could use some polishing.
You know you will never be
satisfied here, among these people.
ls this what you really want?
Acquiring knowledge is a worthy objective,
but its pursuit has obviously not elevated you.
Looks like your ship's having difficulties.
A minor problem.
Oh, l'm sure you'll find a solution.
Just give it some... thought.

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