"Captain's log, stardate 42353.7. Our destination is planet Cygnus IV, beyond which lies the great unexplored mass of the galaxy." Picard said.

On the gigantic new Enterprise NCC 1701-D there were people everywhere.

"My orders are to examine Farpoint, a starbase built there by the inhabitants of that world. Meanwhile ..." Picard continued.

The engine room was bug, with a giant wall diagram showing the immensity of this Galaxy Class starship.

"...I am becoming better acquainted with my new command except one, this Galaxy Class U.S.S. Enterprise."

Details and size of this enormous starship.

"I am still somewhat in awe of its size and complexity."

The lounge deck had big windows revealing the immense span of the Starship's outer surface.

"...my crew we are short in several key positions, most notably..."

Picard, Deanna, and Data were seated on the bridge in the command area. Starfleet Lieutenant Worf, a young Klingon, was at the "Ops" station and a supernumerary was at "Conn".

"... a first officer, from my old ship and close friend that I know is a highly experienced man, one Commander Jackson Crusher, will be waiting to join our ship when we reach our Cygnus IV destination."

"You will agree, Data, that Starfleet's instructions are difficult?" Picard said as he turned to Data.

"Difficult ... how so? Simply solve the mystery of Farpoint Station." Data said.

Picard smiled.

"As simple as that." he said.

"Farpoint Station. Even the name sounds mysterious." Deanna said.

"The problem, Data, is that another life form built that base. How do I negotiate a friendly agreement for Starfleet to use it while at the same time snoop around finding how and why they built it?" Picard said.

"Inquiry ... the word snoop ...?" Data said.

"Data, how can you be programmed as a virtual encyclopedia of human information without knowing a simple word like snoop?"

"Possibility ... a kind of human behavior I was not designed to emulate?"

It was all Deanna could do to keep from smiling.

"It means 'to spy, to sneak'..." Picard said.

"Ah! To seek covertly, to go stealthily, to slink, slither..." Data said interrupting delightedly.

"Exactly, yes..." Picard said wanting to cut it off.

"...to glide, creep, skulk, pussyfoot, gumshoe..."

Data trailed off his words, finally becoming aware of the annoyance registering on Picard's face. Deanna couldn't keep back the smile now then suddenly her face was contorted in pain.

"Captain... I'm sensing a ... a powerful mind..." she started but was interrupted by the sound of a bridge alarm. They were all checking their consoles, puzzled at readings they're getting.

"Something strange on the detector circuits..." Worf said.

Overlapping by an ever more compelling second bridge alarm began to sound. At the same time, the main viewer flickered and an unusual shining, sparkling grip shape appeared stretching across the whole of the galaxy ahead of them.

At the bridge Data was looking up from his command position console.

"It registers as solid, Captain..." he said.

"Or an incredibly powerful forcefield. But if we collide with either..." Deanna said.

"Go to Condition Yellow. And shut off that damned noise." Picard said to conn.

Conn turned off honking sound. Picard was taking time to check all readings but we're now coming very close to the strange grid.

"Shields and deflectors, up, sir." Worf said milking the drama of approaching collision.

"Reverse power, full stop." Picard said.

"Controls to full stop, sir." Conn said.

The strange shimmering grid on the viewer was now very close as Enterprise movement stopped.

"Now reading full stop, sir." Conn said.

Overlapped by something akin to a rolling thunder storm accompanied by a brilliant and sustained flash of light on the bridge to the side of Picard. The light burst physically shook all bridge crew for an instant, then resolved itself into a human size figure standing at that point on the bridge. As the bridge crew's eyes adjust, it didn't indeed appear to be a human but one dressed and posturing as an Elizabethan era sea captain completed with Sir Walter Raleigh type "court dress. Now and later, we shall know this life form as "Q".

As "Q" Elizabethan made a formal bow to Picard. At which the turbolift doors snapped open and two security crew members started to enter, led by Security and Weapons Officer Natasha Yar. However, "Q" merely gives a nod in that direction and a miniature of the space grid outside appeared at the turbolift entrance, barring the security team's entrance and closed the turbolift doors. Then "Q" turned toward Picard.

"You are notified that your kind has infiltrated the galaxy too far already. You are directed to return to your own solar system immediately." Q Elizabethan said.

Conn was stealthily, carefully reaching to the small phaser on his belt.

"That's quite a directive. Would you mind identifying what you are?" Picard said.

"We call ourselves "the Q". Or you may call me that; it's all much the same thing." Q Elizabethan. "And I have presented myself to you as a fellow ship captain so that you will better understand me." she continued indicating the costume. "Go back from where you..." she continued while she indicated.

Interrupted by Conn drawing his phaser. But "Q" barely nodded toward Conn at which a fluttering electric blue wave envelopes that bridge crewman, and we heard the brief beginning of a scream as Conn fell with the sound of a frozen hard object striking the deck. Picard came to his feet, ignoring "Q".

"Stay where you are!" she said.

Picard was clearly very angry as he knelt at the prone form of Conn who appeared to have been instantly frozen solid. Deanna hurried into shot kneeling too. There was even white evaporation vapor rising up from the body.

"Data, call medics!" Picard said.

"He's frozen. Can you feel the cold?" Deanna asked.

Picard grabbed up Conn's phaser from the deck stood and put it under "Q's" nose.

"He would not have injured you!" Picard said. "Do you understand this; the stun setting?" he asked indicating phaser.

"Knowing humans as you do, Captain, would you want to be captured helpless by them?" Q Elizabethan said and moved closer. "Now, go back or you will certainly die!"

In the b.g. on a floating stretcher of the bridge Conn was being taken to the turbolift, advanced medical emergency aids were attached to his body.

"Is he still alive?" Picard asked.

"For now. We'll do our best, sir." Medic said ignoring the previous, intent instead on inspecting his Elizabethan costume as Picard came up to him.

"Your little centuries go by so rapidly, Captain. Perhaps you'll understand this better." Q Elizabethan said.

The Visitor moved his hand slightly hearing the same rolling thunder sound. Another blinding light flash and his body remained the same humanoid face and figure as with the Elizabethan dress, but now the green officer's uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps. Over his jacket pocket three rows of medals and his narrow garrison cap showed the bars of a Captain.

"Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the communists. All it takes is a few good men." Q Marine captain said.

"What? That nonsense is centuries behind us!" Picard said.

"But you can't deny Captain, that you're still a dangerous, savage child-race."

"Most certainly I deny it. I agree that we still were when ..." he said. "... humans wore costumes like that four hundred years ago..." he indicated.

"At which time you slaughtered millions in silly arguments about how to divide the resources of your little world. And four hundred years before that you were murdering each other in quarrels over tribal god-images. And since there have been no indications that humans will ever change..."

"But even as far back as...!" he said. "... that costume, we had begun to make rapid progress." he indicated

"Oh? Shall we review your "rapid progress"?"

The "Q" visitor moved a hand again to create the same sound and the same blinding flash, producing the same human image but this time unshaven. Q's voice sounded a bit drugged now as he eyed his new costume.

"Rapid progress to where humans learned to control their military with drugs." 21st century Q said interrupting her.

Worf got a message and turned toward Picard.

"Sir, sickbay reports that Lieutenant Graha's condition is better." Worf said.

They all turned toward Worf, showing relief.

"Concern for one's comrade. How touching." 21st century Q said.

"And now, sir, a personal request. Permission to clean up the bridge?" Worf said indicating Q.

Picard shook his head, stared Worf down when he seemed about to protest. Meanwhile Tasha had come to her feet too:

"Lieutenant Worf is right, sir. As Security Chief I can't just stand here and ..." she started.

"Yes, you can, Tasha." Picard said.

During this, "Q" had withdrawn a slender tube attached to his 21st Century uniform, made an adjustment which let a round pill roll into his mouth and bit down on it with a "POP" sound.

"Ah, yes... better!" Q said then took a deep breath, feeling It. "Then later, on finally reaching deep space, humans of course found enemies to fight out there too. And to broaden those struggles..." He continued indicating Worf and Tasha. "... you again found allies to permit still more murdering and all over again the same old story."

"No! The most dangerous 'same old story' is the one we're meeting now! Those who go on misinformation, half-inforation, self-righteous life forms who are eager not to learn but to prosecute, to judge anything they don't understand or can't tolerate." Picard interrupted angry.

"What an interesting idea. Prosecute and judge?" Q" asked and absorbed what Picard had said and took a step or two then turned. "And suppose it turns out we understand you humans only too well?" he continued.

"We've no fear of what the true facts about us will reveal."

"The facts about you? Splendid, splendid! You are a veritable fountain of good ideas." he said smiling; pleasant. "There are preparations to make, Captain, but when I return..." he continued then gave a 21st Century salute to Picard. "... we will proceed exactly as you suggest!"

A blinding flash of light and the alien visitor was gone.

It took a moment to accept the fact "Q" was really gone then Worf turned to Picard.

"Sir... respectfully submit our only choice is to fight. If we Klingons understand anything, it is the meaning of that kind of talk." Worf said.

"My sentiments too, sir. Fight or try to escape." Tasha said.

Picard turned to Deanna.

"Sense anything, Commander?" he asked.

She shook her head.

"Its mind is much too powerful, sir. And frightening. Concur we avoid further contact if possible!"

Clearly he had to come up with something. He reflected for a moment more, then made up his mind and turned to her.

"From this point, no station aboard, repeat no station, for any reason will make use of signals, transmission or intercom." Picard said crossing quickly to Ops and Conn. "We'll try to take them by surprise." He said. "Inform engineering to make ready for maximum acceleration. We'll find out what this Galaxy Class can do." He said to Worf.

"Aye, sir." Worf said.

As Worf stood and hurried off, Picard turned to Data.

"Records search, Data. Results of detaching the Saucer Section at high warp speeds." Picard said.

Data quickly drew on his memory.

"Inadvisable at any warp speed, Sir." he said.

"Search theoretical."

Data thought for a second.

"It is possible, sir. But absolutely no error margin." he said.

Picard nodded and stood then rose his voice.

"Attention bridge crew!" he said and waited until all were turned toward him. "Using print-out only, notify all decks to prepare for maximum acceleration. Maximum, you're entitled to know, means we'll be pushing our engines well past safety limits. Our hope is to surprise whatever that is out there, try to outrun it." he continued and looked around. "Our only other option would be to put tail between our legs and return to Earth as they demand."

Then they headed to the engine room took an felt the starship's huge size and enormous power.

Worf nodded at a reading which an Engineer showed him, then left to return to the bridge. Meanwhile, engineering personnel worked at their controls and a low pitched whine quickly worked itself up into a defining high pitched shriek while energy displayed appeared at main engine connections.

Worf entered the bridge from turbolift, crossing to his position.

"Engine room ready, sir."

Picard stood behind Data who was at the Conn position.

"The board shows 'green', Captain. All go!"

Picard moved back to his command position.

"Stand by..." he said then took his seat and checked Bridge. "ENGAGE!"

The entire bridge shuddered under a scream of power.

The faces of the bridge crew reflected the fact that the Enterprise was at very high warp speed and continuing to accelerate into even higher warp.

"Velocity warp nine point two." Worf said.

"Heading, 351 Mark 11, sir." Data said.

"Steady on that." Picard said.

"The hostile is now giving chase, sir. Accelerating fast." Tasha said.

"We're now at Warp nine point three, sir. Which takes us past the red line, sir." Worf said.

"Continue accelerating." Picard said. "Counselor, at this point I'm open even to guesses about what we've just met." he said to Deanna.

She considered this.

"It... it felt like something beyond what we'd consider a 'life form'."

"'Beyond'?"

"Very, very advanced, sir. Or..." she said considering this. "Or certainly, very, very Different!"

"Sir, we're at warp nine point Four." Worf said with emphasis now.

"Hostile is now beginning to overtake us, sir."

"Are you sure?" Picard asked.

"Hostile's velocity is already warp nine point six, sir. Shall I put them on main viewer?" Data said.

Picard nodded.

"Reverse angle on viewer.

Viewer image shimmered into reverse view, which was much the same as the forward view except for one blinking Point of light at image center.

"Magnifying viewer image." Data said.

Another view shimmered with the center point of light, it's still far away, tiny in size, but will grow in size.

"Hostile's velocity now at nine point seven, sir." Tasha said.

"Ops, inform Engineering we need More!" Picard said.

"Engine room attempting to comply, sir. But they caution us..." Data said but was interrupted by Picard.

"Go to yellow alert!" he said.

Data hit a control and the Yellow Alert alarm sounds five times. Then Picard turned to Tasha.

"Arm photon torpedoes, Weapons Station. Place them on ready Status." He said to her.

"Torpedoes to ready, sir."

Picard was aware of the concerned glances received form Deanna and Data.

The entire bridge suddenly shuddered hard and it brings startled looks to the faces of some of the bridge crew. Then the motion eased.

"That was a design tremor, sir. A warning." Worf said.

"Hostile now at warp nine point eight, sir." Tasha said.

"Our velocity is only nine point five, sir."

"Projection, sir. We may be able to match the hostile's nine point eight, sir. But at extreme risk." Data said.

"Now reading the hostile at warp nine point nine, sir." Tasha said.

Picard stood, raising his voice to carry throughout the bridge.

"Attention bridge. Print-out message, urgent, to all decks." he said and selected the right words. "All stations on all decks, make ready to detach ship's saucer Section."

Some of the bridge crew was startled but were soon putting their consoles in order for the move. Picard turned to Worf at 'conn' position.

"You will command the saucer section, Lieutenant." Picard continued.

Worf came to his feet in protest.

"I am a Klingon, sir. For me to seek escape while my captain goes into battle..." he said.

But Picard interrupted him hard.

"You are a Starfleet officer, Lieutenant."

He hesitated, took his seat.

"Aye, sir."

"Note in ship's log that at this startime, I am transferringcommand to the Battle Bridge." he said to the bridge. "Make the signal, Data." he said to Data

Data touched a control and heard the bugle call "head to quarters which continued repeated as all bridge crew members began leaving their posts. While Supernumeraries arrived on the turbolifts, the bridge crew began exiting the bridge.


"Captain's log, stardate 42354.1. Preparing to detach saucer section." Picard said as the turbolift doors snapped open, he and the others entered the smaller, sparse and functional Battle Bridge. "... so that families and the majority of the ship's company..." Picard said.

Families, children, science technicians, and others were moving into safe areas on montage of saucer set.

"... can seek relative safety while our vessel's stardrive, containing our Battle Bridge..." he continued.

Acquainting us with the smaller and more severe battle bridge, its configuration and positions. Picard was speaking the balance of his log entry to the microphone at his command position.

"... and main armaments, will turn back and confront the mystery that is threatening us." he continued then turned to Tasha. "Lieutenant, your torpedoes must detonate close enough to the hostile to blind it at the moment we separate."

"Understood, sir." Tasha said.

"Worf, this is the Captain...".

There was a young Klingon at the Captain's command station at the bridge now.

"Yes Captain?" Worf said.

"Begin countdown..." he said with his intercom and touched panel control. "Mark!"

"All decks acknowledging, sir." Deanna said.

"Starship separation... six, five, four, three, two, one..." Data said.

"Ship's log, exact moment of separation, stardate 42354.22." Picard said.

As the Stardrive Section got safely clear of the saucer, it began turning, doubling back to face the "Q" menace. On the battle bridge a tiny but big image of the hostile vessel in front of which the last few photon detonations happened to fade away.

"All torpedoes have detonated, sir." Tasha said.

"Reverse power and hold this Position." Picard said to Sata.

"Reverse power...decelerating." Data said giving a surprised look.

"That will bring them here in just minutes, sir." Deanna said.

"Will we make a fight of it, Captain? If we can at least damage their ship..." Tasha said.

"Lieutenant... are you recommending we fight a life form that can do all those things?" he asked indicating the viewer. "I'd like to hear your advice." he continued as Tasha hesitated.

"I... spoke before I thought, sir. We should look for some way to distract them from going after the saucer." she said.

"All forward motion stopped, sir." Data said.

"Commander, signal the following in all languages and on all frequencies: we surrender. State that we are not asking for any terms or conditions." Picard said to Deanna.

"Aye, sir. All language forms and Frequencies." She said.

As the bridge and the entire Stardrive Section was shaken Almost angrily as the same cacophony of clanking-screams continued. All bridge crew cling to their seats until the shaking and sounds reached a peak. As when "Q" first appeared, flashing of light.

It was an immense courtroom meant to reflect strength and power. Both décor and legal procedures reflect the time when a desperate humanity, still wounded and bleeding from nuclear war, sought answers to its pain and problems through the merciless strength of a new form of dictatorial government representing neither capitalism nor communism. Our four-starship people are in old, ragged and stained uniforms which 'demean' them as criminals. In comparison with the gleaming steel and glass of the rest of the courtroom, the Prisoner's Dock. Suddenly, the group was caught in a harsh glaring spotlight Data, looked around with great curiosity and was the first to speak

"Historically intriguing, Captain. Very, very accurate." he said.

Picard nodded.

"Mid-21st Century, the post-atomic horror..." he started but was interrupted by the sound of a bell.

Important, the Mandarin-bailff wasn't a fun figure. Despite the Asian robe and accent, he was an important authority figure-and his expression and actions underscore this. He carries a slim, portable view screen, the face of which contained scrolled information he will occasionally refer to. Now, as he nodded to a Court Function ary who uses an ancient, oriental bell, dolefully clanging to gain attention.

"All present, make respectful attention to honored Judge!" Mandarin-Bailff said.

Some still arriving, chattering in excitement, having to be intimidated into silence by a 21st century soldiers, heavily armed. Picard waved in a way indicating Data, Tasha and Deanna shouldn't stand.

"Careful, sir. This is not an illusion or a dream." she said quietly to Picard.

"But these courts happened in our Past..." He started.

"I don't understand either, but this is real. I can feel that!"

A 21st Century military officer was moving to the group, leveling his automatic weapon toward them.

"Get to your feet, criminals!" future Military officer said.

People ignored him too. "Mandarin-Bailiff" was Clanging the bell again. Data saw something,

"At least we are acquainted with the judge, Captain." he said.

The "judge's bench" came floating into the courtroom. Seated in it was "Q" judge in an arrangement which gave "his Honor" physical access to every part and corner of this courtroom. As he floated serenely over spectators' heads, suddenly there was a sound of an automatic weapon.

Just completing firing a warning burst at the feet of Picard.

"Attention! On your feet, Attention!" Military officer yelled angrily.

But Tasha pivoting in fast, took the weapon and threw the Officer crashing to the floor. Judge's "bench" brought "Q" fast.

"You are out of order!" said Q judge.

But was speaking to the downed military officer, not to Tasha. Soldiers stepped in, raising their automatic weapons, firing at the Officer lying on the floor. Spectators broke into applause as the Officer slumped and lied unmoving.

"The prisoners will not be Harmed..." He continued. "Until they are found guilty, of Course." he said glancing at Picard.

Still hovering over the fallen officer, "Q" indicated the body.

"Dispose of that." he continued

Picard had taken the automatic weapon from Tasha.

"Can we assume you mean this will be a fair trial?" he asked.

"Yes, absolutely equitable." Q judge said.

Picard handed the weapon to "Bailiff". "Q" judge swung his "bench" to center front of the courtroom.

"Proceed." he continued to mandarin-bailiff.

"Before this gracious court now appear these humans to answer for the multiple and grievous savageries of their species." Mandarin-bailiff said referring to his portable viewscreen.

Judge's "bench" swung "Q" Judge in nose-to-nose with Picard.

"How plead you, criminal?" he asked.

"If I may, Captain..." Data said getting a nod. "Objection, your honor. In the year 2016, the new United Nations declared that no Earth citizen could be made to answer for the crimes of their race or Forbearers."

"Objection denied!" "Q" judge said. "This is a court of the year 2049, by which time more 'rapid progress' had caused all 'United Earth' nonsense to be abolished." he continued.

Tasha came to her feet very angry.

"Tasha, no..." Picard said.

"I must..." she said. "... because I grew up on a world that allowed things like this court. And it was people like these that saved me from it. I say that this so-called court should get down on its knees to what Starfleet is, what it represents..." she said to "Q"

And "Q" judge flew in gesturing toward Tasha resulting in the same fluttering electric blue wave that enveloped her. As Tasha goes rigid, frozen, Data supports her, lowers her form gently to the floor as:

"You barbarian! That girl..." Deanna shouted at "Q".

"Q" gestured and the same fluttering electric blue wave enveloped her too. Picard leapt in, kept her frozen, rigid form from crashing down.

"Criminals keep silence!" Mandarin-bailiff said.

Picard bent over Tasha, then to "Q".

"You've got a lot to learn about humans if you think you can torture us or frighten us into Silence." Picard said. "Are they still alive?" he asked Data.

"Uncertain. Lieutenant Graham was when our medics thawed him out." he said.

"Q" judge glided in closer on his "bench".

"You will answer the charges!" he said.

"Or what? Or this, or worse? Or death? I suggest you take a better look at human history." Picard asked.

Spectators had begun grumbling over Picard's failure to answer "Q".

"You are charged, criminals. How plead you?"

"Just a moment ago, you promised "the prisoners will not be harmed." We plead nothing so long as you break your own rules."

There was louder grumbling from the Spectators now.

"I suggest you center your attention on the trial, Captain. It may be your only hope." Q judge said.

"And I suggest you now may be having second thoughts about this trial! You're considering that if you conduct it fairly, which was your promise, you may lose." Picard said.

Q judge laughed.

"Lose?"

"Yes, even though you're judge, and Prosecutor..."

Q judge nodded

"And jury."

Picard considered it then nodded.

"Accepted... so long as you keep to your agreement." "And assaulting prisoners is hardly a fair trial." he said indicating Deanna and Tasha.

Seemed to be considering it. Then he looked downward, indicated.

"This is a merciful court." Q judge said.

"Q" waved his hand downwards to ward Deanna and Tasha and A ripple of light played over the two women, unfreezing them.

The court was very disorderly now with some spectators standing on their benches shouting as an annoyed "Q" brought his "bench" up hovering over the head of everyone.

"SILENCE!" Q judge said greatly amplified.

The order was so loudly amplified that it came near to shaking the entire courtroom structure. The spectator's bit off their words and sunk frightened into their seats. "Q" threw a glance toward Picard to see he was properly impressed. Then the "bench" was lowered to allow "Q" to face Picard again.

"Continuing these proceedings, I must caution you that legal trickery is not permitted. This is a court of fact!" he continued.

"... court of fact!" Picard said with him then nodded. "We humans know our past, even when we're ashamed of it. I recognize this court system as the one which agreed with Shakespeare's suggestion - "Kill all the lawyers"."

Q judge nodded.

"Which humans did."

"Which led to the rule: "Guilty until proven innocent"." Picard said.

"Of course. Bringing the innocent to trial would be unfair." Q judge said leaning in; voice Amplified. " YOU WILL NOW ANSWER TO THE GRIEVOUS SAVAGERY CHARGE AGAINST HUMANITY."

"We'll be happy to answer specific charges. "Grievous savagery" could mean anything." Picard said but was interrupted by Q judged.

"Obviously it means causing harm to fellow creatures!"

"Such as you did when you froze a member of our bridge crew? Will you be joining us in the dock here?"

"You fool. Are you certain you want a full disclosure of human ugliness?" Q judge said. "So be it! Present the charges." he said to Mandarin-bailiff.

Mandarin-Bailiff referred to his portable view screen, then stepped forward and presented it for Picard's examination.

"Criminal, you will read the charges to the court." Mandarin-bailiff.

Picard took the parchment, glanced through some amount of it. Then looked up.

"I see no charges against us, your Honor." he said.

"Criminal, you are out of order!" Q judge said and the pounded bench top.

Soldiers moved in, unslinging automatic weapons, of which the barrels of two of them were now placed against Deanna's and Data's heads.


The gun barrels were now pressing even closer to Deanna and Data's heads.

"Soldiers..." Q judge said. "... you will press those triggers if this criminal answers with any word other than "guilty"…" he continued indicating guns.

The Soldiers clicked firing action to full cock. "Q" turned to Picard. "Criminal, how plead you?"

Picard took his time, looking to his people, the Soldiers holding the guns at their heads, then to "Q". He seemed to be taking too much time, and one of them shifted his weight, the other began grasping his weapon even more firmly.

"Guilty..." he said.

Picard's people couldn't help but show relief and even the soldiers lightened up their stance and their grip on the weapons

"... provisionally so." he continued.

Surprised by this "add on", the Soldiers began bringing their guns in close again, looking for guidance to "Q" who looked like he could decide either way. After considering it for a moment.

"The Court will hear the provision."

"We question whether this court is abiding by its own trial instructions. Do I have permission to have Commander Data repeat the record?"

"If this is legal trickery..."

"Your own words, your Honor." Picard said. "Exactly what followed his Honor's statement that the prisoner would not be harmed?" he said to Data.

Data took a moment to consult his memory.

"Yes, sir. The Captain has asked the question..." he said. "Can we assume this will be a fair trial?" he said in Picard's voice. "And in reply, the judge stated..." he said in his own voice.

"Yes, absolutely equitable." he continued in Q's voice.

"Unacceptable testimony, entirely Unacceptable...!" Q judge said.

"If your Honor pleases, there is a simple way to clear up this Disagreement." Picard said and waited until he has "Q"'s attention. "We agree there is evidence to support the court's contention that humans have been murderous and dangerous." he continued and moved in closer to "Q".

"I say "have been" ... and therefore we will respectfully submit to a test of whether this is presently true of humans."

Q judge was suddenly alert.

"I see, I see." he said with an idea forming. "And you petition the Court to accept you and your comrades as proof of what humanity has become."

"There should be many ways we can be tested. We have a long mission ahead of us..."

"Another brilliant suggestion, Captain. But your test hardly requires a 'long mission'." Q judge said then laughed. "Your immediate destination offers more challenge than you can possibly imagine. Yes, yes, this Farpoint station will be an excellent test of human worth."

Picard, liked at the others and was now becoming just a bit concerned.

'What does lie ahead of them on Farpoint Station?' he wondered.

"Q" nodded to him as the Bailiff stood, raising his voice.

"Stand respectfully. All present, respectfully stand!"

Spectators standing. Picard and his people were coming to their feet too.

"This trial is adjourned to allow the criminals to be tested." Q judge said as he moved his bench into position.

The Mandarin-bailiff loudly clanged his bell.

"This honorable court is adjourned!" he said.

There was a smile coming onto the face of "Q" as he turned to Picard.

"Captain, you may find you are not nearly clever enough to deal with what lies ahead for you. It may have been better to accept sentence here."

"Q" waved toward them, producing a blinding light effect.

Picard and the others were now in their normal garb and at their regular stations at the battle bridge, all beginning to register their realization of where they now are.

Data, Deanna and Tasha reacted to where they now found themselves. Data turned to the Ops position.

"Uh... what is present course, Ops?" Data asked.

The OPS officer looked at Data, surprised.

"It's exactly what the Captain ordered, sir. Direct heading to Farpoint Station." he said to him.

Data had reviewed his console readings during this, then turned to Picard:

"Confirm we are on that heading, Sir."

"Know anything about Farpoint? It sounds like a fairly dull Place." OPS said to Data.

"Actually, Ops, I've heard just the opposite." Picard said.

Picard, Data, Deanna and Tasha exchanged looks, then settled back.

"Personal log, Commander Jackson Crusher, Star Date 42354.4, at Farpoint Station." Jack said.

An older class starship, the USS Hood lied in geosynchronous orbit above the planet.

"... U.S.S. Hood has dropped me off at Farpoint Station where I await the arrival of the new U.S.S. Enterprise... my wife Beverly and son Wesley will be coming soon."

The small, obviously old Bandi city connected to the modern sprawling spaceport/station, both set in the middle of a harsh and forbidding landscape. This is Farpoint Station.

"...to which I have been assigned as first officer. Meanwhile..."

Commander Jackson R. Crusher approached the door leading to the office at Farpoint's Administrator.

"...I have been asked to visit the office of Farpoint Station's Administrator."

Jack entered someone's office at old city, crossing to an elegant, unusually shaped desk where the man, the station Groppler rose and at first offered the wrong hand, then got the procedure straightened out with mumbled sorry.

"Good morning." Jack said smiling.

"I thought you might like to know, Commander Crusher, that we've still no word from your vessel. But, I trust we have made your waiting comfortable?" Zorn said.

"Yes thank you. Would it be alright if I ask for some information?" Jack said.

"Anything!"

"Fascinating how in the midst of an old city like this, you've built a completely modern tritanium and duraglass space station. Your energy supply must be as abundant as I've heard."

"Geothermal energy is the one great blessing of this planet. I'll have all the details of that sent to your quarters."

"Thank you."

Zorn pushed a desk top bowl of fruit toward Jack.

"Would your care for an Earth delicacy, Commander?" he asked.

"Well, if there's an apple there..." Jack said and saw there wasn't and this disappointed Zorn."It doesn't matter... what I was saying was..." he continued looking up. "Well, I wasn't expecting this."

He stepped to the far end of Zorn's desk where a second bowl of fruit. Jack picked an apple from it.

"Ah... ah yes, there was another selection here..." Zorn said.

"Zorn, I would have sworn it wasn't here a moment ago." Jack said while he perplexed.

"And does your failure to notice it make it unwelcome?" he asked. "The same with Farpoint Station, Commander." he continued smiling. "We hope a few easily answered questions about it won't make Starfleet appreciate it less."

Jack eyed Zorn thoughtfully, then took a bite out of the apple. He chewed and swallowed.

"Sorry, I've been in a coma for ten years and am a little rusty at this. But I'm sure it won't, sir." he said. "And this is delicious. Thank you." he continued raising his apple. "Good morning, Groppler Zorn." he said.

He was leaving even as Zorn levered himself out of his own chair.

"Have a good morning." he said.

Then he opened the then left and the door closed behind Jack.

"I can tell this man has plenty of experience unlike some people." he said.

In considerable contrast to Zorn's old city office we just left, this structure had a "starbase" look with its tritanium and glass construction. The few people in sight are Starfleet personnel. Entering foreground were Dr. Beverly Crusher and her fifteen-year-old son Wesley.

Like most other humans of this century, she didn't look her age. Although forty years old, she looks hardly more than thirty. This is counter-balanced by her quick intelligence and her professional knowledge and skill as a physician. Her son, Wesley, has that same quick intelligence, multiplied by four. That lively brain was ensconced in the body of a perfectly normal boy with moderate good looks, a cheerful personality, but with considerable maturity for someone his age.

Jack was behind them and hurried to catch up.

"Beverly..." Jack said.

"Mother, it's father." Wesley said smiling.

Beverly slowed down and let Jack walk along with them.

"And hello to you, squirt. Enjoying Farpoint Station?" Jack asked smiling.

"Yes, dad." Wesley said happily.

Jack smiled at him.

"Saw you and thought I'd join your stroll."

"Actually, we're about to do some shopping." Beverly said.

"Am I welcome?"

"Of course." she said and moved toward an exit door.

Wesley had been looking from one to the other of them, interested in what they've said and not said.

The Farpoint Shopping mall suggested a covered, airy mall with flowers and trees - many of them Earth types but with a scattering of alien vegetation too. It was a spacious walkway with a number of pleasant shops and booths. In b.g. Bandi natives of this world, a tall and greyish life form, quiet and overly polite. Beverly, Wesley and Jack moved down a line of shops.

As they walked, Wesley continued to eye his parents.

"You know mom, she's shy around men she doesn't know even though she knows you." Wesley said.

Beverly was startled; Jack was amused.

"Wesley...!" she said then swallowed her annoyance.

Jack smiled and shook his head.

"And although we're not officially part of the Enterprise yet, I thought there might be something useful we could do while we wait." he said more seriously.

Beverly stopped at a table in front of a shop selling exotic materials. The modest selections of cloth were lined up on the table, some draped for best effect. She looked over them critically, feeling weight and texture. The Bandi shopkeeper had stayed at the rear of the booth.

""Useful"? How and what, Jack?" she asked.

"Investigating some things, I've noticed here, Bev. The last was a piece of fruit..."

Beverly frowned over a particularly pretty piece of material which she held up for the shopkeeper to see.

"Would this be available in emerald green?" she asked.

The Bandi Merchant smiled, nodded and took the bolt of cloth into a small closed area behind. Wesley watched the merchant go as Beverly turned to look at Jack appraisingly.

"I'm sure, Jack, there are reasons for a first officer to want to demonstrate his energy and alertness to a familiar captain. But since my duty and interests are outside the command structure..." she said.

The Bandi Merchant came quickly with the bolt of cloth- now emerald green - interrupts Beverly by holding it up for her approval.

"Isn't it nice he happened to have the right color?" Jack asked.

Beverly glanced sharply at him, suppressing a somewhat chagrined look.

"Thank you. I'll take the entire bolt. Charge it to Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer, USS Enterprise." she said to Merchant.

The Merchant nodded, ticked the information off on a flat little gadget that dangled from his belt, handed her the bolt of cloth.

As they walked away, Jack enjoying the look that's come onto her face over this incident.

"Let's see, where were we?" he asked.

"I was accusing you of inventing work in order to curry favor with your captain. Sorry." she said.

"Finding the exact right color took him only about twelve seconds, Mom." Wesley said.

They stopped a little distance off and looked back toward the shop.

"Maybe this is something Jean-Luc Picard will want looked into." she said.

"You know Johnny." Jack said.

"I think he will." Wesley said proudly.

Beverly smiled, fondly patted her son's head.

"Shall we continue the walk Jack?" she said.

LT. Geordi LaForge and ensign Sawyer Markham were in the small, comfortable lounge area. Markham was a likeable young man, enthusiastic, energetic. He was still inclined to shoot from the hip rather than consider before speaking, but he is a capable graduate of the Academy. Geordi was at first only from behind,

"Where is she? They say she's never late - not since the old burrhog took over the captain's chair." Markhem said.

"You wouldn't be talking about the Enterprise, would you, Ensign Markham?" Jack said.

The two young men turned around sharply to find Jack had come up behind them. Geordi was wearing a strange flattish device over his eyes. Although he was technically blind, his head always turned toward the person speaking to him because he can, in fact, see as well or better than anyone through the use of the visual prosthesis. As they realized that Jack was a senior officer, both young men straighten to attention.

"Sir. Yes, sir." Geordi and Markham said together.

Jack smiled at the ingrained and traditional response of the recent Academy graduate.

"You can stand at ease, gentlemen. We're not on the Enterprise yet." he said still smiling.

"You know we're assigned to her, sir." Markham said.

"Crusher. I'm slated to be First Officer this time." Jack said extending his hand. "I read the service records on all new personnel on the trip out. Excellent academic record at Starfleet Academy, Mister Markham." he continued while they shook hands.

"Thank you, sir." Markham said.

"And you, Mister LaForge. Captain Dreyer praised your performance on the Hood. Why did you request transfer to the Enterprise?"

"Who wouldn't, sir? The biggest, newest, fastest starship in the fleet-" Geordi said.

"Commanded by the best burr hog in the fleet. Right, Mister Markham?" Jack asked.

"Yes, sir." Markham said sheepishly.

Jack grinned.

"I've already forgotten who used those words." he said.

"Shouldn't we have heard something from her by now, sir?" Geordi asked.

A bandi wiman approached.

"Commander Crusher?" the woman said.

"Yes?"

"The Enterprise has been picked up on our monitors, sir. I should tell you, sir, it is only the Stardrive Section."

All three crewman were surprised to hear this.

"What about the Saucer Module?" Jack asked the woman.

"We've received no explanation, sir. But the captain signals that you're to beam up immediately." she said.

"Our new captain doesn't waste time." Geordi said to Markham.

"A good rule for all of you to follow, gentlemen." Jack said then touched his communicator.

His voice now 'treated' to indicate he was transmitting.

'This it, my first time with Johnny on a ship in ten years but as commander this time.' he thought.

"Enterprise, this is Commander Crusher on Farpoint. Standing by to beam up." he continued.

As Jack beamed in the stardrive transporter room Lieutenant Tasha Yar of Security was there, waiting until he was fully materialized.

"Lieutenant Yar of Security, sir. Captain Picard will see you on the Battle Bridge." Tasha said.

Jack was prepared to shake hands but Tasha was already leading the way toward the turbolift.

As he followed her inside, she spoke quietly toward the controls.

"Battle bridge." Tasha said.

The doors snapped closed and the lift moved. Jack looked Tasha over, waiting.

"With the saucer gone, can I assume something interesting happened on your way here?" he said.

"I'll let the captain explain, sir."

When they got on the bridge Picard was seated in the command chair with Data and a couple of other crewpersons at their stations.

"We are cleared into the standard parking orbit, sir." Data said.

Picard nodded.

"Make it so." he said.

Then the bridge turbolift doors opened, Jack entered the bridge after Tasha, following her to Picard.

"Commander Crusher, sir." Tasha said.

"Crusher, J.B., reporting as ordered like before, sir." Jack said smiling.

Picard took his time, looking Jack over smiling and then offering his hand.

"I really didn't expect to welcome you to half a starship, Jack." he said still smiling. "Is the viewer ready?" he asked Tasha.

"All set up, sir." she said.

"We'll first bring you up to date on a little... "adventure" we had on our way here, Commander. Then we'll talk." he said to Jack.

"This way, sir." Tasha said to Jack.

True, Picard didn't waste time. Tasha was already leading Jack toward a viewer at the aft section of the Battle Bridge.

As Tasha motioned him to the seat, turned and Jack leaned in, riveting attention to the bridge record.

With Data and Picard the android officer turned toward the captain.

"Message from the Saucer Module. It will arrive here in fifty-one minutes, sir." he said interrupting.

"Inform them we'll hook up as soon as they arrive." Picard said then stood up then crossed past Tasha on his way to the turbolift.

"Bring him to my Ready Room when he's done there." he said to Tasha then left through the turbolift.

Jack turned away as he looked at the crewpersons on the bridge.

"This will be an interesting 'little adventure'" he said smiling.

Picard was at the battle bridge ready room with a viewer going over a rather complex screen of formulas. Then there was a chime at the door, he turned the viewer off.

"Come." he said.

Jack entered, crossed to where the captain indicated he's to sit. He did so, looking at Picard smiling.

"Wow!" Jack said.

Picard laughed then nodded.

"Exactly."

"So, another Q adventure? My first one in ten years?" Jack asked amused.

"Yes, we're dealing with something that can juggle starships as if they were pebbles."

"It's going to be a rather astonishing adventure we've had, Captain." Jack said.

"The important thing is we can be dead certain... accent on dead. We're alive only because we were placed on "probation", a very serious kind of "probation"." Picard over a chime. "Go."

"The Saucer Module is now entering orbit with us, sir." Data said.

"Acknowledged. Commander Crusher will conduct a manual docking. Picard out."

"Yes sir." Jack said.

"Then get going for another adventure Mister Crusher. You know me." he said smiling.

Jack got to his feet smiling then started to leave but was cut off.

"And Jack," Picard started and Jack looked at him. "It's good to have you back."

"It's good to be back Johnny." he said still smiling then left.

Picard sat there thinking.

'He's going to enjoy this as if he were an ensign again.' he thought then chuckled remembering the beginning.

Jack was now at the bridge and at the conn, concentrating. Tasha and Data were studying him, privately evaluating this man.

"You say you will be doing this manually, sir? No automation?" Data said.

"As ordered." Jack said making a couple of calculations, glancing up at the viewscreen.

The rear end of the saucer was moving closer, but it was still high.

"Two percent rise. Up angle adjustment three degrees. Maintain docking speed." Jack said to Data at conn.

Ops and conn positions AD LIB repeated of Jack's orders.

Jack was glancing at the O.S. viewscreen and worked his console again.

"Level her out. Maintain docking speed. Docking crew, prepare for reconnection." he said and looked up at the viewscreen again.

The saucer loomed in the viewscreen - everything was level, the docking section was dead ahead.

He made a couple of quick entries on his console.

"All stop please. Her inertia should do the job now." Jack said. "Rejoin lock-up... now." Jack said as he hit a couple tabs on his panel.

Jack was now at the turbolift with Data, Tasha, and others. The time this takes was indicative of the size of this new Enterprise.

"Enterprise log, First Officer entry. Ship's modules rejoined, stardate 42354.71 with command now transferred back to the main bridge." Jack said.

Jack looked up to see Tasha was watching him.

"Neatly done, sir." she said.

"I don't imagine many mistakes happen under Joh- Captain Picard."

"No sir, they don't."

As the turbolift arrived the bridge, Lt. Worf crossed toward it, intercepted Jack.

"I'm Lieutenant Worf, sir. Captain Picard requests you come immediately to his quarters." Worf said.

Having had little more than a glance at this main bridge, Jack turned and re-entered the turbolift.

Picard was in his cabin, turning as he heard a chime.

"Come!"

Jack entered.

"I can see you still have it in you after being in a coma for ten years." he continued.

"Thank you, sir. I hope I can still show some promise after that long."

An exchange of looks between the two. Clearly, Jack was happy to be back and liked the kind of welcome. Then Picard lead the way to a setting for coffee.

"Some coffee." Picard asked.

"No thank you, sir."

Picard then poured himself a cup.

"And now I have a kind of "what sort of second-in-command have I inherited again?" question." he said amused at himself.

"Yes sir, I thought you might. I'm a little rusty though."

"I noticed in your envelope that you were a little nervous about being back."

"In my opinion, sir, I'm just nervous I won't be as good as I was at first."

"I see. "

"Let's hope I do."

"Don't worry Jack, you'll get it back before you know it."

"Thanks, you'll help me if I need it though, right?"

"Always."

"Thanks, that makes me feel a lot better."

"You'll be fine."

"I hope so."

Picard took another second to study him carefully.

"One further thing... a special favor I have to ask of you."

"Anything, sir."

"Using the same kind of strength you showed last time, I'd appreciate it if you can keep me from making an ass of myself with children. It will be easier with you being a parent."

"Sir?"

"I'm not a family man, Jack, and yet, Starfleet has given me a ship with children aboard. Including your own."

He nodded.

"Yes, sir. And families..."

"And I don't feel comfortable with children. But, since a captain needs an image of "geniality" toward the little monsters, you're to see that's exactly what I project."

"Aye, sir. And my son isn't a monster."

Picard smiled, extending his hand and Jack took Picard's hand for a firm and friendly handshake.

"Welcome to the Enterprise Jack. It's good to have you back."

"Thanks, it's good to be back. I can still call you Johnny right?"

Picard chuckled a little then nodded.

"Yes, you're the exception."

As Jack stepped out of the turbolift. He stopped, took in the size of his compared to the Battle Bridge. The Klingon Lieutenant was at the conn position. He turned, seeing Jack.

"Yes sir, Commander?" he said.

Jack crossed in, shook hands.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Is Commander Data on duty?"

"Commander Data is on a special assignment, sir. He's using our shuttlecraft to transfer an admiral over to the Hood."

"An admiral?" Jack said.

"He's been aboard all day, sir, checking over medical layout."

"Why the shuttlecraft? Can he just beam over?"

"I suppose he could, sir. But the admiral's a rather remarkable man."

"But, sir, the transporter could have you on the Hood in a matter of seconds, Admiral." said Data

Data and the admiral entered the intersection.

"Have you got some reason to want my atoms scattered all over space?" Admiral asked.

"No sir. But at your age, sir, I thought you shouldn't have to put up with the time and trouble of a shuttlecraft."

The admiral stopped and faced Data, he drew himself up as straight as he can. His voice was crotchety and trembly - and fiercely stubborn.

"My age? Hold it right there, boy, what about my age?"

"Sorry, sir. If that subject troubles you..."

"Troubles me? What's so damned troubling about not having died? How old do you think I am?"

"One hundred forty-seven years, Admiral. According to Starfleet records."

"Explain how you remember that so exactly."

"I remember every fact I am exposed to, sir."

The admiral peered at him closely, scowling.

"I don't see any points on your ears, boy, but you sound like a Vulcan."

"No, sir. I am an android."

Admiral snorted.

"Almost as bad."

"I thought it was generally accepted, sir, that Vulcans are an advanced and most honorable race." Data said at a loss but still respectful.

The admiral stared at him a moment, his severe blue eyes gentling and his feisty scowl fading. He patted Data's sleeve and nodded slightly.

"They are, boy. They are. And also damned annoying at times." he said.

"Yes, sir."

As they moved away, Data gently assisted the old man.

"This is a new ship, boy, but she's got the right name. Remember that." admiral said.

"I will, sir."

"You treat her like a lady." Admiral said. "She'll always bring you home..." he said quietly.


At sickbay Beverly was wearing medical "blue" Science personnel are going to be assigned. She stepped toward a large viewscreen which came on, showing readouts indicative of the status of the ship's medical facilities.

"Show me the results of Captain Picard's most recent physical examination." she said.

The screen promptly began to flash up printed information, followed by X-Ray type shots, and more. She studied it for awhile.

"Already at work, Doctor?" someone asked.

Beverly turned to find Captain Picard entering. She nodded in answer to his question.

"Yes, on a subject that's very important to this mission, Captain." she said. "Screen off." she said unhurriedly to the computer.

"I wanted to say "welcome aboard."" Picard said.

"Thank you, Captain."

"And I thought I should talk to you very personally about your assignment here."

As Beverly nodded she waited for him to continue.

"I wanted you to know I protested your posting to the Enterprise." he continued.

"Oh? Do you consider me unqualified?"

"Hardly. Your service record shows you exactly the kind of CMO I'd want."

"Then you must object to me personally. Has it to do with our last meeting?"

"I'm trying to be considerate of your feelings, Doctor Crusher. For you to serve with a commanding officer who would continually remind you of such a terrible personal tragedy..."

"If I had any objections to serving with you, I wouldn't have requested this assignment, Captain." she snapped annoyed.

"You requested this posting?"

He turned to leave. Beverly stirred, and her next words stopped him.

"Captain. My feelings about my husband almost dying will have no effect on the way I serve you, this vessel, or this mission. He survived."

Picard gave it a moment's thought, extended his hand.

"Then, welcome aboard, Doctor. I'm pleased to have you here."

Beverly allowed only a perfunctory handshake.

"Thank you. And now, if I can return to my duties..." she said.

It was clear that Picard wanted to say more but she had neatly blocked any further conversation.

"Well... as I said, "welcome Aboard"." he said uncomfortably.

She didn't respond further and he had no choice but to turn and exit.

Jack was on the bridge standing before the viewscreen. Behind him was the young Klingon, Worf, at the conn position with the rest of the bridge stations only nominally manned. Set in geosynchronous orbit over the planet, the Enterprise required minimal monitoring at this time.

They opened turbolift, and Picard stepped out onto the bridge.

"Have you signaled the Hood, Mister Crusher?"

He nodded.

"Your exact message." he said. "Bon voyage mon amie. Aye, sir." he said in french.

Picard smiled and stepped toward it.

"And what was my answer, computer?" he asked.

Main viewer flickered, then startled us with an ugly flash of light that became an image of Q judge who was in limbo, but looking directly at Picard. His voice boomed loudly, annoyed in tone.

"DO YOU EXPECT ME TO WAIT PATIENTLY THROUGH ALL THIS NONSENSE? OR DID YOU THINK I WAS GONE?" Q judge yelled.

Picard was as startled as Jack. The young Klingon, Worf, came tumbling out of the conn position, drawing his phaser and placing himself protectively between Picard and the threatening "Q" image.

"Do you intend to blast a hole through the viewer, Lieutenant?" Picard asked.

Worf apologetically put his phaser away, let Picard wave him aside.

"If the purpose of this is to test human worth, your honor, you must let us proceed in a normal human way."

"YOU ARE DILATORY! YOU HAVE TWENTY-FOUR HOURS! ANY FURTHER DELAY AND YOU RISK SUMMARY JUDGEMENT AGAINST YOU, CAPTAIN."

Jack tried not to roll his eyes remembering what Q can be like and how impatient he is.

A flash of light and the main viewer returned to an image of the planet below.

"Sorry, sir..." Worf said.

"No criticism. You reacted fast..." Jack said.

"... but in a completely useless way." Picard said.

"I'll learn to do better, sir." Worf said.

"Of course you will. We've a long voyage ahead of us." Picard said and dismissed Worf with a flicker of a smile which took the sting out of what he just said.

Jack lowered voice.

"Hope you're right, John. About the long voyage ahead." he said.

Picard looked to main viewer as if checking that "Q" was truly gone.

"I hope so too Jack."

"What do we do, sir? With them monitoring every move, every word..."

"S.O.P., Mister Crusher."

"Standard Operating Procedures?"

He nodded.

He was a little surprised Jack remembered all this after nearly ten years.

"We do exactly what we'd do if this "Q" never existed. If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are."

Jack was very pleased with his old friend and captain. He nodded emphatically.


"Captain's log, stardate 42372.5. Of the twenty-four hours "Q" allotted us to prove ourselves... " Picard started.

The minimum bridge crew was on duty.

"... eleven have now passed without incident. And yet I cannot forget "Q's" prediction that we will face here some critical test of human worth."

Picard and Jack were at the bridge ready room comparing notes.

"This planet's interior heat results in abundant geothermal energy, sir. But it's about all this world does offer." Jack said.

"And it's your belief that this is what made it possible for them to construct this base to Starfleet standards?" Picard said.

"Yes sir. We have to assume that they've been trading their surplus energy for the construction materials used here. According to our ship's scans, many of the materials used are not found on this world."

Picard smiled.

"Perhaps it's like those incidents you remember." he said.

"I'll never forget them."

"And in time we'll get new memories. Meanwhile, none of it suggests anything threatening. If only every life form had as much desire to please Starfleet." Picard said then stood up. "Ready to beam down? I'm looking forward to meeting this Groppler Zorn."

Picard was leading Jack to the cabin door.

"I'm convinced there's more to it than just "pleasing us", sir." Jack said.

"Like something "Q" is doing to trick us?" Picard said as they left.

As Picard and Jack entered the bridge from the adjoining Ready Room Deanna was just arriving in the turbolift and Picard called to her.

"Over here, Counselor!" he said. "I've asked her to join us in this meeting." he said to Jack. "May I introduce our new first officer, Commander Jackson Crusher. Mister Crusher, our ship's counselor, Deanna Troi." he indicated.

Then, she held out her hand formally.

"A pleasure, Commander. I heard you were on the Stargazer."

"Nice to meet you, Counselor. And yes, I was." he said smiling.

Picard had indicated the turbolift and was leading them toward it.

"My crew and I need a bit more information..." Picard said.

Zorn sat at his office behind his desk, his posture and attitude indicating some nervousness. Seated facing him are Picard, Jack and Deanna.

"... before we make our recommendations to Starfleet." Picard continued.

"No objections to that, but..." Zorn said. "... but I'm puzzled over your bringing a Betazoid to this. If her purpose here is to probe my thoughts, sir..." he said eyeing Deanna again.

"I can sense only strong emotions, Groppler. I am only half Betazoid; my father was a Starfleet officer." she said.

"I have nothing to hide, of course."

"Good, since we admire what we've seen of your construction techniques. Starfleet may be interested in your constructing starbases elsewhere too. " Picard said,

As Deanna expression began to indicate an awareness of something distressing, something painful.

"Unfortunately, Captain, we are not interested in building other facilities." Zorn said.

This stumped Picard for a moment.

"If I may, Captain..." Jack said. "Then a trade, Groppler? Some things you need in return for the loan of architects and engineers who can demonstrate your techniques." he said getting a nod.

"We Bandi do not wish to leave our home world. If Starfleet cannot accept that small weakness, then we will be forced, unhappily, to seek an alliance with someone like the Ferengi, or..." Zorn said.

Zorn was interrupted by a small groan coming from Deanna. Her eyes were now closed over a strong distress she's sensing.

As appropriate.

"Counselor... ? What is it?" Picard asked.

"Do you want it described here, sir?" she said glancing toward Zorn.

" Yes! No secrets here if we're all to be friends." Picard said. "Agreed, Groppler?" he said to Zorn.

"We ourselves have nothing to hide, but..." he said.

There was another groan, grimacing.

"Pain... pain, loneliness, terrible loneliness, despair..." she said. "I'm not sensing him, sir. Or any of his people... but it's something very close to this location." she said indicating Zorn.

"The source of this? Do you have any idea?" he said demandingly to Zorn.

"No!" Zorn said and stood. "No, absolutely not. And I find nothing helpful or productive in any of this!"

"That's it? No other comment?" he asked while he stood.

"What do you expect form us? We offer a base designed to your needs, luxurious even by human standards..."

Jack and Deanna came to their feet too as Picard interrupted.

"... while refusing to answer even our simplest questions about it." Picard said. "We'll adjourn for now..." he said to Jack. "... while we all reconsider our positions." he said to Zorn.

The three crossed toward the exit.

"Captain, the Ferengi would be very interested in a base like this." Zorn said.

"Fine. I hope they find you as tasty as their other past associates." Picard said.

Picard and his people left.

Jack was moving in the holodeck corridor as if seeking someone. He intercepted a young ensign who was passing and the junior officer saw his emblem of rank and snapped to attention.

"Ensign, can you help me find Commander Data? I was told he's somewhere on this deck." Jack said.

"This way, sir." young ensign said.

The Ensign stepped to a black surface of the corridor wall.

"You must be new to these galaxy class starships, sir." young ensign said and put a hand on the black surface. "Tell me the location of Commander Data." they said.

At the touch and the words "Tell me" the black surface came alive with light patterns showing appropriate information.

"Lieutenant Commander Data... now located in Holodeck area 4-J." computer said.

"And as you see, sir, it's pointing you that way." young ensign said indicating readout.

"Go that way? How far?" Jack asked.

The young ensign smiled.

"You'll know, sir."

Jack AD LIBS a thanks and went in the indicated direction.

Jack was moving off in the indicated direction. Then the black surface there came alive with a flashing direction signal.

"This way, please. The next hatchway on your right." computer said.

"Thank you..." Jack automatically responded.

"You're more than welcome, Commander Crusher."

Which startled him a bit but he walked on and turned right at a sophisticated looking Holodeck Hatchway.

The Parkland hidden at this moment by a wild section of corridor wall and hatchway which, when the hatch was opened reveal Parkland.

"And if you care to enter, Commander..." computer continued without delay.

"I do." Jack interrupted annoyed.

Immediately, the hatch slid open and saw the Parkland It looked real, including land contours, trees, and even a small stream nearby. Beyond that the Parkland stretched off for what appeared to be miles and miles away to the horizon.

As Jack entered through it and stood inspecting the Parkland scene with genuine appreciation and then heard someone whistling a melody, but doing it rather badly and laboriously.

As he moved away, seeking the source of the whistling which began to grow louder now.

As Jack crossed, stepping from rock to rock. He made a misstep and almost fell, then recovered and got across. He looked back at the stone which caused it.

As he walked, the whistling was nearby now. He stopped.

"Hello!" he called

The whistling had continued without pause, Jack cocked his ear, corrected his direction slightly.

Jack entered a shot through shrubbery, saw something and stopped.

Data was lying there, cushioned by deep grass. He was absorbed in certain melody notes he's attempting - and kept missing.

Jack stopped, and whistled the same melody, hitting the correct notes. A startled Data looked up blankly, then came quickly to his feet, but Jack waved him back down, sat beside him.

"Marvelous how easily humans do that, sir. I still need much practice." Data said.

Jack, acting uncomfortable, avoided the subject. He hesitated.

"There are some puzzles down on the planet that Captain Picard wants answered. He suggests I put you on the away team I'll be using." he said.

"I shall endeavor to give satisfaction, sir." Data said.

Jack hesitated, wanting to say something but not sure how to begin.

"Uh, yes. And when the captain suggested you I, uh, looked up your record..." he said hesitating.

"Yes sir, a wise procedure always."

"Your rank of lieutenant commander, I assume now must be honorary."

"No, sir. Starfleet Class of '78; honors in quantum mathematics and exobiology."

"But your files... they say you're a..."

Data waited.

"Machine? Correct, sir. Does that trouble you?" asked.

Jack hesitated

"To be honest... just, a little."

"Understood, sir. Prejudice is very human."

"Now that troubles me. Do you consider yourself superior to us?"

"I am superior in many ways. But I would gladly give it up to be human."

"Nice to meet you, Pinocchio," Jack said while he studied him.

Data seemed confused by this.

"A joke." Jack continued explaining.

"Ah! Intriguing." Data said straight -faced.

"You're going to be an interesting companion, Mister Data." Jack said with a big grin.


Jack and Data heard a voice and Jack got to his feet, looked off in that direction with an idea who it was.

"This pattern is quite popular, sir. Perhaps because it duplicates Earth so well, Coming here," Data stated. "makes me feel as if I'm human too." he said apologetically.

"It's alright, I forgot these could be so real." Jack said taking it all in.

"Much of it is real, sir. If the transporters can convert our bodies to an energy beam, then back to the original pattern again..."

"Yes, of course." Jack said. "And all these have much simpler patterns." he indicated.

Data lead the way, then indicated.

"The rear wall."

"I can't see it."

"You will."

Jack was squinting hard now. Then he stopped, reacted at something he could now make out.

"Incredible!" he said.

As he hurried toward where we could see the holodeck wall on the soil, rocks and vegetation blend with the project image there. Astonished, Jack backed away from this, squinting again.

Where, of course, the wall blend was no longer visible.

"Dad, isn't this great?" Wesley said turning, then grinning, waving.

Wesley was hurrying toward them, bouncing from rock to rock.

Being a father Jack's a little worried, especially Wesley being his son.

"This is one of the simpler patterns, dad. They've got thousands more, some you just can't believe." he said.

Jack and Data were moving down the stream.

"Careful Wes, that next rock is loose...!" Jack said worried.

As that rock moved underfoot, tumbling Wesley into the stream.

"Wesley!" Jack said getting ready to get him but stopped.

Panning Data in, demonstrating his enormous strength as he easily lifted Wesley completely out of the water.

An amazed Wesley looked at Data.

"Wow!" he said as the hatchway smoothly slid open again.

Jack went over to Wesley and looked at him.

"You alright squirt?" he asked.

"I'm fine dad." Wesley said.

Jack nodded.

"Good."

Through it was revealed the Parkland, through which Jack, Data and a very wet Wesley made their way to the Hatchway. As they moved through Hatchway, the bulkhead began closing.

The Captain was walking with a Senior Officer when he saw Jack and the others. He motioned the Senior Officer to continue on by himself, stopped and waited.

As Jack, Data and Wesley moved with Picard. Wesley was instantly aware that his soaked clothing was dripping water onto the starship deck. He'd like to remove himself but knew that Picard had already seen his puddle forming on the deck.

"Mister Data has agreed to join my away team, Captain." Jack said.

"Very good." Picard said with another glance toward Wesley's puddle.

"Sir, dad, maybe I should get something to wipe this water up." he said.

Jack opened his mouth but was cut off.

"Good idea." Picard said then turned and left.

Later Wesley was at sickbay wiping himself dry now. He was enthusiastically trying to explain his adventures.

" - and there's a low gravity gymnasium, too. It would be hard to get bored on this ship." he said.

As he wiped, he's been turning something over in his mind.

"Mom, dad..." he said. "could you get me a look at the bridge?"

"That's against the captain's standing orders." Beverly said.

"Are you afraid of the captain, too mom?"

"I certainly am not!"

Jack snickered at that.

"But Captain Picard is a pain, isn't he?"

"Your father likes him very much. Great explorers are often lonely, ... no chance to have a family..."

"Just a look, at the bridge, Mom. From the turbolift when the doors open. I wouldn't get off. I promise."

"You're looking for trouble, kiddo." Jack said.

Wesley shut up and Beverly and Jack looked at him and couldn't ignore the very real want in his eyes.

"Let's see what we can do." he continued.

Wesley delightedly grinned.

The away team, up of Jack, who was called, Data, Deanna, Tasha and Geordi were in station shopping. There were a number of people in the mall area, some in identifiable Enterprise-type uniforms. The others in various civilian clothes. They were taking in the Bandi shops, booths, food and drink offered by Bandi vendors.

"Recommend that someone could begin by examining the underside of the station, sir." Tasha said.

"Our sensors do show some passages down there, sir. Perhaps you and I?" Deanna said.

Deanna glanced at Jack with just a shade of archness, perhaps the lift of an eyebrow. Jack glanced away, troubled.

"Tasha, you and the Counselor." Jack said.

Deanna and Tasha moved off and Jack turned to Geordi.

"Let's start with the topside. Have you noticed anything unusual?"

Jack and the others moved out of scene, examining everything they pass.

Geordi was looking around the area, moving slowly and carefully scanning. Then he shook his head.

"Well, I can't see through solid matter, sir, but the material so far looks very ordinary." Geordi said.

"Confirmed by the construction records, sir. Almost exactly the same material that Starfleet uses." Data said.

Jack reached to his insignia, to switch on his communicator.

"Crusher to Tasha, Troi, come in!" he said.

The next few moments, Jack was growing apprehensive. Then, finally, he heard Tasha.

"We were about to call you, Team Leader. We've found something interesting." Tasha said on com.

Tasha was activating her communicator on the underground passageway.

"We're in a passageway directly under the station sir. But the tunnel walls here are make from something we've never seen before."

"And Troi, have you sensed anything there?" Jack asked.

Deanna appeared reluctant as she activated her communicator.

"Sir, I've avoided opening my mind. Whatever I sensed in the Groppler's office became very painful." Deanna said.

"I'm sorry, Counselor, but you must. We need more information."

Deanna complied... then her face contorted in agony and a small scream escaped. She sunk to her knees, Tasha hurried in to support her.

"No, no, such pain. It's so close to us here... pain, pain.." Deanna continued.

"Hang on, I'm coming... Enterprise, lock us onto her signal!" Jack said overlapping.

Tasha had her arm around Deanna, whispering words of comfort.

After a moment, the familiar transporter sound began. Jack, Data, and Geordi beamed in, solidify. Then Jack hurried over to Deanna while Data and Geordi examined their surroundings with great curiosity.

"I'm sorry. Close your mind from the pain..." Jack said helping her.

"It's also unhappiness... terrible despair..." Deanna said.

"Who?"

"I don't know! No life form anything like us."

Jack was looking around at the glowing walls.

"What in the hell kind of place is this?" he said. "Geordi, what do you see?" he asked turning.

Geordi had been inspecting the wall closely and shook his head.

"It's of no material I recognize, sir. Or have even heard of." he said.

Picard was at the bridge in the his chair. The bridge was nominally manned at this time. Worf was at the ops panel. Picard glanced around as the sound of the turbolift doors opening doors opening came over, and he froze.

Beverly and Wesley were standing just inside the turbolift door. Beverly was uncomfortable and Wesley was all eyes, taking in as much as he possibly could in this one limited look at his dream place. Beverly started to step out and gestured to Wesley to stay in the turbolift. He was amused at how excited Wesley looked.

"Permission to report to the captain..." Beverly said.

"Children are not allowed on the bridge, Doctor." Picard said coolly.

"Captain, my son is not on the bridge. He merely accompanied us on the turbolift."

"Your son?"

"His name's Wesley. You last saw him years ago when..."

He trailed his words; Picard understood.

"Oh, back then." he said and glanced from Beverly to Wesley then cleared his throat. "Well - as long as he's here..."

Wesley looked to Picard hopefully. Beverly waited, then Picard shrugged, tried to sound friendly.

"I knew your uncle, Wesley. Want a look around?" Picard said.

Wesley was out like a shot.

"But don't touch anything!" he continued quickly.

Wesley was in awe. To him, this was the equivalent of a devout Catholic stepping into the nave of St. Peter's Basilica. The turbolift is on the level of the "horseshoe", so the command positions were spread below him. Picard moved down to the captain's chair level, Wesley moved with him. He was careful to put his feet down just right so he doesn't even scuff the floor. Picard watched, stepped aside to gesture toward the command chair.

"Try it out." he continued. "The panel on your right is for log entries, library-computer access and retrieval, viewscreen control, intercoms, and so on." he said as Wesley did so.

"Yes sir. And here, the backup conn and ops panels, plus armament and shield controls." Wesley said nodding and pointing.

Picard looked closely at Wesley, perplexed.

"The forward view screen is controlled by the ops position..."

"Yes sir, which uses high resolution, multi-spectral imaging sensor systems..."

"How the hell do you know that, boy?"

Before Beverly or Wesley could reply, a very distinctive signal went off and Wes, closest to the control, transferred the signal into audio

"Perimeter alert, Captain!" Wesley said.

Wesley was instantly embarrassed; Beverly was mortified and nervous while Picard was angry.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." Wesley said.

"Wes! You shouldn't have touched anything..." Beverly said.

"Off the bridge! Both of you."

Worf had come to his feet, not sure whether or not he should respond to the call. Beverly was hustling Wesley toward the turbolift.

"You have a perimeter alert, Captain."

"As our son tried to tell you!" Beverly said to Picard.

She left into the turbolift, the doors closing behind her and Wesley. Picard, slamming his fist into his other palm and jumped for his command chair.

"Picard. Go ahead."

"Ship's sensors have detected the presence of a vessel approaching this planet. No ship is scheduled to arrive at this time." security said.

"Have Mister Crusher, and his team beamed back up! Security, could that be the Hood returning here?"

"The vessel does not match the Hood's configuration or I.D. signal."

"Put it on main viewer!"

Instantly, the image of a ship was flashed on the screen. It appeared to be big, dark, ominous - even at far range - and it was approaching very swiftly.

"Identification?" Picard said.

"Vessel unknown, configuration unknown, sir." security said.

"Hail it!"

"We've been trying, sir. No response." Worf said while he worked his panel.

"Raise all shields, phasers at ready."

"Shields up, sir. Phasers ready." Worf said still working on panel. "Could this be that "Q" you mentioned, sir?" he continued and turned to Picard.

Picard was staring at the viewscreen.

"I almost hope so, Lieutenant. We face too many "unknowns" already."

The ship was closer now - looking menacing - and still coming fast.


All bridge positions were filled now, everyone watching the viewscreen intently.

The mystery vessel was approaching closer.

"Continue universal greeting on all frequencies. Get me Groppler Zorn." Picard said.

There is a beep and a pause.

"This is Zorn, Captain." Zorn said.

Zorn was sitting at the desk in his office, spoke into a small portable communicator grid shaped to fit the palm of his hand.

"There is an unidentified vessel moving into orbit with us. Do you know who it is?" Picard said.

"There are no ships scheduled to arrive until -"

"I asked if you know who it is, Groppler. You mentioned the Ferengi Alliance to me."

"But we have had no dealings with them. It was only a... a thought." Zorn said very nervous.

"Are you very, very certain of that, Groppler?"

"I promise you we were making an empty threat, Captain. I wanted your cooperation. Forgive me -"

"Definitely entering an orbital trajectory, sir." Worf said.

"It measures half again our size, Captain." security position said.

The light glow over everything and everyone on the bridge. They were startled by it, but no one is hurt.

"All stations, give any damage reports." Picard said.

The others were looking at each other, shaking their heads.

"I would guess we were being scanned, sir." Worf said.

At the underground passageway Deanna was leaning against the strange, smooth and shining tunnel wall as if still feeling pain. Jack was examining the strange tunnel walls with the tricorder while Geordi moved his "eyes" inches away from the surface to examine it closely. Data was testing his communicator and trying to get a signal back from the Enterprise.

"Pain again?" Tasha said to Deanna.

"Troi, you've been at it enough!" Jack said turning sharp.

"No, I feel close to an answer of some kind." she said.

"Commander, something down here is shielding our communicators." Data interrupted.

"Yes, that's exactly the feeling I've been reading. As if someone doesn't want us to be in touch with our ship." Deanna said as she came to her feet.

"Come on..." Jack said. "... let's get to the surface." he said and lead the way.

"There is no computer record of any such vessel, sir. Not even close." Operations position said.

"Still no response, sir. We've done everything but threaten them." Security position said.

"Sensor scans, Mister Worf." Picard said.

"Our sensor signals seem to just bounce off." Worf said. "Something's happening, sir..." he said biting back words indicating to viewer.

A beam of something stroke downward toward the planet surface

At the bridge there was excitement.

"They're firing on Farpoint, sir...!" Worf said.

"Bring phasers and photon torpedoes to ready!" Picard said toward security position.

"No, hold it, sir. They're hitting the Bandi city, not Farpoint Station."

At the underground passageway Jack and his team were racing to where the rounded, smooth and shining walls of the tunnel begin to give way to a more ordinary looking rectangular corridor of mixed stone and tile walls.

Jack pulled to a halt in order to examine with curiosity the blend where the unknown type tunnel walls gave way to stone and tile construction similar to what they saw in the old Bandi city. Ahead was a stone block stairway leading up to that old city. Geordi had hurried in, peering closely at the more familiar kind of wall surface.

"Those stairs are where Tasha and I entered down here, sir." Deanna said indicating ahead.

"At this point, it becomes ordinary stone and tile, sir." Geordi said then turned puzzled. "Matching what's above."

Followed by a long rumbling explosion the long flash of it reflected down the stairway from the upper level ahead. As this sound faded, then we heard a faint distant scream which died away too.

"My God! Was that a phaser blast?" Tasha said.

"Negative. But something similar." Data said.

Again, the same kind of explosion sound followed by similar light flickered from the stairway ahead. Jack turned to Deanna.

"You, Tasha, and Geordi will beam up to the ship from here. Now!" Jack said. "Come on, I want to see exactly what's happening." he said to Data.

Then he started off to the stairway, Data following.

"Don't. If you should be hurt..." Deanna said.

A stern look came over Jack's face as he turned quickly to her.

"You have your orders, Counselor! Carry them out!" Jack said sternly.

'It's Enterprise staff, not Wesley.' he reminded himself.

"Yes sir, I'm sorry, sir." she said.

Jack and Data began climbing the stairway, leaving the Deanna, Tasha and Geordi. Deanna had already reached for her communicator control.

"Enterprise, three to beam up." she said.

After a moment, the familiar transporter sound, followed by transporter effect on the three dissolving into the light sparkle. Then, they were gone.

Old city in B.G. where fire raged in a smashed structure in that part of the old city we can see. In closer foreground was an entrance to the underground passageway, this entry guarded by thick, hand-worked metal door, locked. This village square was a connecting point between the Old City and Farpoint Station. A short distance lies Farpoint Mall.

There was a hand phaser hum as a glow flickered over the metal doors which now sprung open and a clashing of metal sound. Jack and Data entered though those door, phasers in hand.

"Enterprise, Crusher. Come in." Jack said as he touched his communicator control.

He was interrupted by the closer sound of a phaser-like bolt from the mystery vessel. Also from closer, the light of the blast reflected on their faces and they whirl to see a building was being blasted into stones and dust.

Zorn's office was filled with the dust and sounds of a nearby blast. Zorn was working frantically with his communicator.

"Enterprise, Enterprise, help us! Come in, please..." he said.

On the bridge the main viewer the image of the mystery fired another pharos-like bolt down toward the planet. The bridge crew are anxiously poised on the edge of their seats, waiting for Picard's next order.

"... what shall we do? Help us, please."

"Tune him down!" Picard said overlapping. "Commander Crusher, go ahead. Where are you?" he said into transmitter.

As the turbolift snapped open Deanna, Tasha and Geordi hurried onto the bridge, took their regular positions.

"With Data, on the edge of the old city, Captain. It's being hit hard. Who's doing this?" Jack said.

"And Farpoint Station? Any damage there?" Picard said.

No indication that Farpoint Station at covered village squared had been damaged at all. Jack, standing with Data, was using his communicator.

"Negative on damage to Farpoint, sir. Whoever they are, it seems they're carefully avoiding hitting the station." Jack said.

"It's from an unidentified vessel that's entered orbit with us here. No ID, no answer to our signals..." Picard said.

There was another blast sound with the same kind of light flickered.

"They're hitting the Bandi city hard, sir. Many casualties very probable." Jack said as he whirled again in the direction interrupted by Picard.

Back at the bridge.

"Understand, Commander. Would you object to a clearly illegal kidnapping assignment?" Picard said.

"No objection; anything you order, sir." Jack said.

"Zorn may have the answers we need. Get Groppler Zorn and bring him here!"

"Aye, sir!"

At the bridge Picard looked at the image of the huge mystery vessel still in orbit nearby. Picard turned to Deanna

"They're forcing a difficult decision on me, Counselor." Picard said.

Deanna nodded.

"But, I doubt protecting the Bandi would violate the Prime Directive. True, they are not actual allies..."

"But we are in the midst of diplomatic discussions with them." Picard said and turned to Tasha. "Lock phasers on that vessel, Lieutenant."

Tasha was touching panel controls in b.g.

"Phasers locked on, Captain." she said.

Anything further interrupted by optical effect, the blinding light flash fading to reveal "Q", wearing the Judge's costume from the earlier courtroom sequence. He was standing in front of Picard.

"Typical, so typical. Savage life forms never follow even their own rules." Q judge said.


At the bridge rather than being nervous over the arrival of "Q", Picard had become coldly angry.

"Get off my bridge!" he said.

"Q" stepped toward Picard, smiling sadly.

"Also interesting, that order about phasers." Q said.

"Still standing by on phasers, Captain." Tasha said ignoring Q to Picard.

Q judge turned to Picard.

"Please don't let me interfere. Use your weapons." Q Judge said.

"You're the one who has a lot to learn, "Q". With no idea of who's on that vessel, my order was a routine safety precaution."

"Really? No idea of what it represents? The meaning of that vessel is as plain as..." Q judge said breaking into laughter. "... as plain as the noses on your ugly little primate faces." he said tapping his nose.

There was more and louder laughter.

"And if you were truly civilized, Captain, wouldn't you be doing something about the casualties happening down there?" he said trying to control himself.

In answer, Picard touched the communications control on his uniform.

"Captain to CMO, are you reading any of this?" he asked.

At sickbay Beverly was with a half dozen medical assistants very busy preparing medical supplies, bringing portable medical equipment, etc.

"Medical teams already preparing to beam down, Captain." Beverly said.

"Compliments on that, Doctor!" Picard said relived.

At the bridge Picard was turning back to "Q".

"Any questions? Starfleet people are trained to render aid and assistance whenever..." he said.

"But not trained in clear thinking." Q judge said interrupting him.

"Let's consider your thoughts. You call us "savages" and yet you knew those people down there would be killed. You're the one whose conduct is uncivilized."

"Sir, they're firing on the planet again." Worf said.

The mystery vessel began to fired blasting down at the planet again.

"Force fields full on." Picard said. "Go to thrusters! Position us between that vessel and the planet." he said to Worf.

"Aye, sir, thruster power to..." he said.

Worf trailed his words, perplexed. His panel was fading, going dark.

"We have no ship control, sir. It's gone!" he continued.

Jack and Data were on the corridor outside Zorn's office headed toward Zorn's office door when the blue bolts hit beside the door, flash of blue light. The corridor rocked, and the ceiling came down partially. They were flung down by the explosion. A minute, and then Data stirred, sat up. Jack was slower, but was managing to haul himself upright.

"Are you undamaged?" Data asked.

"Yes. You?" Jack asked.

"Data's eyes glazed slightly as he seemed to go into a sort of "trance" that lasted just a few seconds.

"All systems operating." Data said.

Zorn's office was hanging by its hinges, and debris-dust is drifting out of it. Jack and Data moved quickly to and through the open door.

As Jack and Data entered. The office had been badly damaged, especially near the door. O.S. the sound of another bolt exploded echoed. The room shook under the impact. There was a muffled sob near the desk.

Zorn was cowering under his elegant desk, shaking and sobbing in fear.

"Please. You can make it stop. Drive it away." Zorn said.

"Drive who away, Groppler?" Jack asked.

Zorn reacted as if he knew he's said too much.

"I don't know." he said.

"Unlikely, sir." Data said.

"Our records show that you supervised all Bandi contact with other worlds..." he said to Zord.

"We haven't done anything wrong!" Zord said.

"Then if we can learn nothing from you, perhaps we'll leave." Jack said.

"No! No, don't leave, I'll try to explain some of..." Zorn said frightened.

A kind of transporter sound was heard, and then a transporter effect, somewhat different from the Starfleet variety, centered on Zorn. He began screaming.

"First officer to Enterprise." Jack said as he keyed his communicator.

"Go ahead, Jack." Picard said.

"We've lost Zorn, sir. Something like a transporter beam, it snatched him out of here."

On the bridge "Q" was still in the captain's seat, listening.

"Question, sir, could it have been the "Q" character you met earlier." Jack said.

Q laughed.

"Jack Crusher, after nine years of a coma you're finally back." he said.

Jack glared at him and Q started laughing again.

"None of you know who it is? You're running out of time, Captain." he said.

Deanna was frowning, trying to 'feel' something.

"Captain... Suddenly I'm sensing something else. It's satisfaction, enormous satisfaction." Deanna said.

"From the same source as before?" Picard said.

"No, that was on the planet." she said. "This seems to be from here." she indicated.

"Excellent, Counselor!" Q said to Deanna. "He's such a dullard, isn't he!" he said indicating Picard.

"Captain from Transporter Room. First officer and Mister Data now beaming aboard." intercom said.

"Excellent also!" Q said. "Perhaps with more of these little minds helping, you'll..." he said to Picard.

"That is enough, damn it!" Picard said as he whirled suddenly on Q.

"We have an agreement; have you forgotten...?"

In b.g., the turbolift doors snapped open but unnoticed by Picard and "Q" as they continued their argument. Jack and Data appeared, move onto bridge.

"We have an agreement which you are at this moment breaking by taking over our vessel, interfering with my decisions!" Picard said then stepped up nose-to-nose. " You are not welcome on my bridge Now, either leave or finish us. One of the two!"

"Q" stood, during which everyone was holding his breath.

"Temper, temper, mon capitaine. I am merely trying to assist a pitiful species. Perhaps I'll leave if Mister Riker provides me with some amusement." Q said gently.

"Do nothing that he asks!" Picard said to Jack.

"But I ask so little. And it is so necessary if you are to solve all this." Q said. "Beam over there with your... what is it called... your "away team"?" he said then turned, indication vessel image in main viewer.

"You should already know what you'll find there. But perhaps it was too adult a puzzle for you." he said to Picard.

"Captain, with all respect, I intended to suggest beaming over there." Jack said.

Amused at all this Q turned from Jack to look at Picard.

"You show promise, my good fellow." he said.

"But you don't. You should have long ago realized that, humanity is NOT a criminal race!" Picard said.

"YOU MUST STILL PROVE THAT!"

There was a familiar blinding flash, and then "Q" is gone.

Then they realized "Q" was gone, turning to look at each other.

Jack checked a reading on his panel.

"Of the 24 hours "Q" gave us, we have less than one left, sir." he said.

Picard nodded.

"But I had a feeling you impressed him, Number One. That's hopeful."

"Thank you, Johnny, That's the first time you've called me "Number One" instead of Jack." Jack said.

"You made it to commander, and that means you're second in command." he said with a small smile.


Jack's away team moved onto the transporter platform. With him were Data, Deanna and Tasha. They carried the usual away team equipment were now checking.

"Phasers on stun." Jack said.

Everyone checked hand phasers. AD-LIB answers of "checked", "on stun," etc. Jack turned to Transporter Chief.

"Energize." he said.

Then there was a transporter sound, then the beaming effect. Then, fully materialized, Jack and the others looked around to orient themselves.

"Most interesting, sir." Data said.

"Much the same construction as the underground tunnel we saw." Tasha said.

Which described it perfectly. The same rounded shape and glowing lowing wall of unknown composition. The "tunnel" was deserted; no ship sounds of any kind.

"But no sound of power; no equipment. How does this ship run?" she continued.

Jack nodded a direction. Tasha took the point as they moved out. Data was already using his tricorder to check the walls. He got nothing, shook his head. Deanna suddenly staggers and groaned.

"Troi, what is it?" Jack asked. "Is it the same as you felt down there?" he asked.

"No, this is... different. It feels much more powerful... full of anger... hate..." she said.

"Toward us?" Tasha said.

"No. It's directed down toward the old Bandi city."

"Most intriguing again. The place that this vessel was firing upon..." Data said then abruptly stopped. "Sorry, sir, I seem to be commenting on everything." he said to Jack.

"Good. Don't stop it, my friend." Jack said with a small smile.

On the bridge Geordi and Worf were at their positions. Picard was in the command seat, antsy.

"Enterprise, Crusher. This is turning out to be a very long tunnel or corridor, sir. Still no sign of mechanism or circuitry... " Jack said.

Still led and followed by the security people, they're now moving along fairly rapidly although this tunnel was narrower here.

"... or controls, readouts, nothing at all like any vessel I've seen before." Jack continued.

"Groppler Zorn, sir... in great fear..." Deanna said interrupting him. "Just ahead." she said while she motioned.

Deanna and the team were arriving at a tunnel connection, standing puzzled at what seems to be only a sharp turn where a strange indentation in the tunnel wall there. She, intent on this, stepped closer then pushed her body against the indentation.

"It's definitely Zorn, Commander. Here!" she said.

"Careful..." Jack said stepping in.

But the tunnel wall was soft here, it gave perceptibly, as Deanna pushed harder and then fell... she disappeared through it.

"Troi!" Jack said.

Then he pushed and disappeared through the same wall.

Jack slid through the pliable opening of Zorn's cell in the tunnel wall, joining Deanna who was standing there aghast at what was suspended in the center of this area.

Zorn was held suspended off the deck in the center of a cylindrical forcefield. The force field edged gutter softly to outline the shape of it.

As the other team members came through the 'wall' too, stand, reacting at the sight of Zorn.

The forcefield sparkles, click, causing Zorn to writhe and twitch. He screamed.

"No! Please! No more! Please, no more..." he yelled.

The away team moved forward toward him, and were brought up sharply by the leading edge of the force field. Data had already started to scan with his tricorder. Jack called to Zorn.

"Zorn. Can you hear me?" Jack continued.

Zorn managed to lift his head, and his pain-filled face, his features twisted into a grimace of intense agony.

"Make it stop the pain. Please..."

"Has the alien communicated... ?" she asked breaking off then to Jack. "That's it, sir! It's just one alien that I'm sensing here."

"Please! I don't understand what it wants." Zorn said with another groan.

Deanna studied Zorn.

"Not true. He does know." she said.

Data interrupted by holding his tricorder so that Jack could see the readings he's gathered. Jack registered at seeing something unique as Data pulled out his phaser, Jack did the same and both of them concentrate on making some exact setting on their phasers.

Data and Jack rose their phasers toward Zorn.

"No, no, please don't!" Zorn said in terror.

Data and Jack triggered their phasers and a sort of colored glow on the forcefield held Zorn, the glow spread over the entire forcefield. Then, suddenly the forcefield disappeared, glow and all, and Zorn tumbled out onto the floor free of restraint.

The wall seemed to be "alive", undulating. Beyond it, Tasha is assisted Zorn to his feet, supporting him. Meanwhile, Deanna looked around Zorn's "cell", sensing something troubling. Jack had turned on his communicator.

"Away team to Enterprise..." he said.

A tendril of plasma emerged from the wall swaying and moving toward Deanna.

"Troi...!" Data said interrupting and warning.

But the tendril was already wrapping around her. Data tried to pull the tendril from Deanna, succeeded only in getting a new tendril wrapped around himself.

The floor of the area suddenly went soft, away team members sinking into it while still another section of wall folded itself.

"Enterprise, come in. Beam us..." Jack said.

Interrupted as his feet were yanked out from under him.

"Enterprise, we need help..." Data said.

Interrupted by the new tendril wrapping itself around his head.

On the bridge Picard was speaking anxiously toward his command panel as Jack muffled something.

"Transporter chief, yank them back! Now!" Picard said.

"Captain...!" Worf said.

Lieutenant Worf was pointing. On it the image of the mystery vessel was beginning to change in shape. The firm, hard edges of the spaceship were giving way to something softer, very mysterious in nature.

A familiar blinding flash and "Q" appeared, now wearing the uniform of a Starfleet captain.

"Your time is up, Captain." Q said.

"Get off my bridge!" Picard said. "Transporter Chief, do you have their coordinates?" he said into command panel.

"Q" stepped to the command position.

"He can't hear you, Captain. " he said.

"Q" gestured upward, at which Picard was suddenly lifted into the air and then to the side of "Q"'s hand motion in that direction.

""Q", I've people in trouble over there...!" Picard said.

As he hovered above, "Q" stepped up and sat in Picard's command position. Bridge personnel were coming to their feet angrily, then hesitate.

"Everyone, at ease! That's an order!" he continued. "My people are in trouble, "Q". Help them; I'll do whatever you say..." he said to Q.

As "Q" gave another hand signal downward, the Captain was gently deposited onto the deck.

As the same strange transporter sound that accompanied Zorn's "kidnapping" was heard and the same strange transporter effect appeared, this time materialized five images of Jack, Data, Deanna, Tasha, and Groppler Zorn.

Very surprised, looking from his away team to "Q".

"You'll do whatever I say?" Q asked.

Picard hesitated then nodded.

"It seems I did make that bargain."

"The agreement isn't valid, sir. It wasn't "Q" that saved us." Deanna said.

"Save yourselves! It may attack you now." Q said quickly indicating viewer.

The "vessel" seemed to be floating in closer to the Enterprise.

"It was that which sent us back, Captain." Jack said.

"Yes sir. It's not a vessel, sir. It's alive somehow..." Deanna said.

"She lies! Destroy it while you have a chance." Q said. "Make phasers and photon torpedoes ready...!" he said to Tasha.

"No! Do nothing he suggests!"

"But that thing was killing my people, Captain..." Zorn said.

"True, but why? Was there a reason?"

"It is an unknown, Captain! Isn't that enough?" Q said.

"If you had earned that uniform you're wearing, you'd know that the unknown is what brings us out here!"

"Wasted effort, considering the human intelligence." Q Starfleet said.

"Let's test that..." Picard said. "... starting with the tunnels you have under Farpoint, Groppler." he said to Zorn.

"Identical to the ones on that space vessel life form, over there. Why was it punishing you, Groppler?" Jack said.

"In return for pain you caused to some other creature?" Picard said.

"We did nothing wrong! It was injured, we helped it..." Zorn said.

"Thank you, that was the missing part." Picard said interrupting Zorn. "Tasha, rig phasers to deliver an energy beam." he said and turned.

"Aye, sir." she said puzzled.

Tasha stepped to her panel and made settings on controls there.

"Yes, Captain, I understand now. It has to be conceivable that somewhere in the galaxy there could exist creatures able to convert energy into matter..." Jack said.

"And into specific patterns of matter. Much as our transporters do." Picard said nodding.

"On the viewer, Captain!" Tasha indicated.

Where the vessel/creature image was softening further into an amorphous, colorful and lovely shape. Picard turned to the Groppler.

"Zorn, you captured something like that, didn't you?" he demanded.

On main viewer, the image was a lovely feathery tendrils, and it was beginning to move down toward the planet. Zorn reacted to this, showed panic.

"Warn my people, please! Leave Farpoint Station immediately!" Zorn said.

"He's lied to you, Captain. Shouldn't you let his people die?" Q Starfleet said.

Picard nodded to Ops.

"Transmit the message. "Leave Farpoint immediately"."

"Then it was a pair of creatures I was sensing. One down there in grief and pain, the other up here, filled with anger..." Deanna said.

"And firing not on the new space station, but on the old Bandi city." Data said nodding.

"Attacking those who captured it's..." Picard said to Q. "... it's mate?" he said to Deanna.

"Energy beam ready, sir." Tasha said.

"Lock it in on Farpoint Station." he said to Tasha.

"Q" stood in an annoyed manner, and indicated the captain's position to Picard.

"I see now it was too simple a puzzle. But generosity has always been my weakness." Q Starfleet said.

As "Q" moved aside, Picard took his position, turning to Tasha.

"Let it have whatever it can absorb. Energize!" he said.

High downward shot showing the energy beam at terminating and being absorbed into Farpoint Station.

At the bridge Picard and the others watched the energy beam terminating at Farpoint Station.

"Now getting feedback on the beam, sir." Tasha said.

"Discontinue it." Picard said. "Groppler Zorn, there'll soon be no Farpoint Station if I'm right about this." he said to Zorn.

"A lucky guess!" Q Starfleet said.

"I know we deserve this loss, but please believe me, we meant not to harm the creature, but to use it." Zorn said.

"Sir, a feeling of great joy. And gratitude." Deanna said.

The city/station miniature - the Farpoint Station part of it grew soft, shimmering, slowly became a creature of gossamer, feather lightness - now gracefully rising up from its captivity.

Where what was once the "mystery vessel" but now an increasingly beautiful colorful, feathery tendril shape was descending closer and closer to what was once the Farpoint Station part of city/station.

The smaller one raised up toward its mate. They touch- delicate matter/energy tendrils twining - and then together they moved upwards out of sight.

On the bridge which the two creatures were rising upward out of image frame.

"Great joy and gratitude... from both of them." Deanna said.

"And why? Because it furnishes entertainment to you! You use other lifeforms for recreation." Picard said as he turned on Q.

"If so, you've not provided the best..." Q said.

"Get off my ship, you smug hypocrite."

"Why not? We can also meet another time, another place."

"That's doesn't frighten us at all! You accuse us of "grievous savagery"? No, the one proven guilty of that crime is you!"

Then there was another blinding flash and "Q" disappeared. It took a moment to realize that he was gone.

"I trust this isn't the usual way our missions will go this time, sir." Jack said amused.

Picard screwed up his face in mock consideration of this, then nodded.

"On no, Number One, I'm sure they'll be much more interesting." he said smiling.