"The Naked Now"

"Captain's log, Stardate 41209.2. We are running at Warp 7 to rendezvous with the science vessel S. S. Tsiolkovsky..." Picard said.

The S.S. Tsiolkovsky was in orbit. Then the Enterprise appeared and moved in to join the research vessel.

" ... which has been routinely monitoring the collapse of a red supergiant star into a white dwarf. What has brought us here is a series of strange messages indicating something has gone wrong aboard the research vessel."

All regulars on duty at the bridge, Data at Ops, Geordi at Conn, Tasha and Worf upstage intent on main viewer which shows the Enterprise moving in parallel with the research vessel.

First, a static garble, then a woman's voice over the audio channel, low and insinuating. Indistinct voices, laughter, in B.G. indicate the sound of a noisy party.

"Well, hello Enterprise. Welcome... I hope you have a lot of pretty boys on board... because I'm willing... and waiting..." a woman's com said.

They waited for more, then Picard nodded toward Data.

So Data touched com panel.

"S.S. Tsiolkovsky, repeat your Message." he said.

There was laughter then there was a woman's voice.

"In fact, we're going to have a real blowout here... Thought that would interest you. Waiting!"

She laughed hysterically. There was more laughter from the others, some cries of "DO IT! GO AHEAD!" in b.g. of the transmission, an explosive sound- and then silence.

"Captain... what we just heard is, Well...impossible." Data said.

"Report." Picard said.

"I believe that last sound we heard was an emergency hatch being Blown." Data said quietly.

The subspace channel was still open.

"Are you certain... yes, of course you are."

Jack came to his feet fast, got a nod from Picard, motioned for Data, Geordi and Tasha to follow him to the turbolift.

Picard was happy Jack would come to the Enterprise even after losing his brother and missing nine years of his life from a coma.

"Sensor scan now reveals no life signs aboard, Captain." Worf said.

The away team in the transporter room consisted of Jack, Geordi, Data, Tasha, and a security guard. Data and Geordi had tricorders; Tasha had the large phaser.

"Put us on their bridge, Chief." Jack said.

"Life support systems are not functioning in that area, sir." the transporter chief said.

Jack nodded to the transport chief at the console.

"Then put us in the main corridor. Energize." he said.

The Transporter Chief worked his console controls deftly. As the transport effect and sounded began. and built

At the Tsiolkovsky main corridor the transporter effect came in leaving the away team materialized. The ship was very quiet - a low hum of working equipment, but without the murmur of living beings.

"Cover the ship as planned. Move Out."

Data and Geordi put tricorders on "record" and all moved out. This corridor showed signs of phaser char marks on the walls. There was litter on the deck - food, a wine bottle, discarded clothes. Data recorded the scene with his tricorder.

"Indications of what humans would call... a "wild party?" Data said.

Jack had moved quickly to a door at the end of the corridor. It was shut, but there was a small viewscreen set in the wall beside it.

"Their bridge. If this thing works, be sure to record -" he said and activated the viewscreen, took a look, and groaned.

There maybe a command chair and beyond these, the Emergency hatch set in the bulkhead - the hatch was gone, and the cold glitter of a starfield winked beyond it.

"You were right. Somebody blew the hatch and they were all sucked out into space.." Jack said as he stepped aside, gesturing to Data to record the scene on the viewer

"Correction, sir, blown out." Data said.

"Thank you, Data."

"A common mistake, sir..."

"I know! Thank you, Data." Jack said emphasis.

"Commander Jack, it's Lieutenant Yar, location Engineering. Ten people here, sir, all frozen. No vital signs." Taha said on com.

Jack touched his communicator.

"Frozen how?" he asked.

"Looks to me like someone was "playing" with the environmental controls, sir. Just let all the heat bleed away into space."

"That's ridiculous!" Jack said to Data.

"That's what I say, sir." Tasha said on her com.

As the personal quarter opened heavily and caused a slight air hissing. Geordi entered from the corridor, reacted to the air hissing, hit a wall control on the inside. His expression changed to one of dismay as he looked around.

There was a room partially covered with Frost. There were several male and female bodies, scantily clad or nude, possibly a couple entwined. All were frozen and dead. Bits of frost-covered lingerie and other intimate clothing were scattered around. Geordi touched his insignia.

"Sir, Lieutenant La Forge in the crew quarters. Something in here." Geordi said.

As he heard a sound, the bump of a door bumping against the jamb. Geordi hurried across the small room toward the adjoining bathroom.

"Hello!" he continued.

Nothing inside the bathroom, Geordi decided to check the closed shower stall, yanked the door open - and a frozen Woman's body, fully clothed, fell out into his arms. Although startled, Geordi had the presence of mind to catch the ice-covered corpse and lower it to the floor.

Examining the frozen woman who had once been attractive, shook his head in pity. He rested one hand on the wet side wall of the shower to brace himself as he prepared to stand upright again.

There was several drops of "water" on the icy shower wall where Gerdi's hand rested coalesce and moved onto his hand.

"Crusher to Captain, I have a report for you." Jack said on com.

'Thank God Wesley isn't here.' he thought looking at what's in the room.

At the Enterprise main bridge Worf was at Ops and crewman at Conn.

"Picard here." said when he tapped the com control

"They're all dead, sir. Some were apparently blown out the emergency Hatches." Jack said on com.

"There were eighty people on that ship, Number One."

"Yes sir. As I said, all dead."

Picard looked incredulous.

"Captain's log, supplemental. We are downloading the research information gathered on the Collapsing..." Picard said looking somehow strange, unstable.

"... star nearby. I am concerned at being in such close orbit, but the Tsiolkovsky's research Records..." He continued.

Picard was striding toward Dr. Crusher's office at the Enterprise medical corridor.

"...will no doubt predict the time of the star's final collapse."

Beverly was in her office with Deanna examining information as it comes up on a desktop viewer. Deanna was there too, also watching the screen.

Picard entered, strode over to examine the viewing screen too.

"I can't find anything unusual in any of the tricorder readings they've sent over, Captain." Beverly said.

Picard straightened up, and Beverly turned around to look at him.

"Give me a theory, Doctor. Anything!" he said.

Beverly's silence was eloquent. She shook her head, her face had a worried look.

"Troi? Did you feel anything from over there?" he continued and turned.

"Perhaps some residual confusion... and exhilaration, too. But I'm not too certain of that." Deanna said.

At Sickbay Data was just getting up from one of the hospital beds.

"If you were any more perfect, Data, I'd write you up in a Starfleet medical textbook." Beverly said.

"I am already listed in several biomechanical texts, Doctor." he said.

Beverly didn't quite yet know how to take Data. Jack does, and grinned.

"Yes... of course." she said. "You're next, Lieutenant." she said to Geordi.

Data left. Geordi obligingly lied down on the hospital bed, and Beverly started to monitor him with a small instrument.

The readings came on - nothing radical anywhere.

As Beverly looked up at the o.s. viewscreen, then:

"Normal - all across. Except... why are you perspiring?" she continued.

Geordi appeared to have a fine sheen of perspiration on his face.

"I suppose because you have it too hot in here. What else would it Be?" he said.

Both Beverly and Jack had reacted to this un-Geordi reply.

"That doesn't... sound exactly like you, Geordi." Jack said.

Geordi looked up, then replied pleasantly, grinning.

"Maybe it wasn't." he said. "Maybe she threw her voice." he continued indicating Beverly.

He meant it as a joke but no one was amused.

"Joke." he continued.

"Of course. But I would like to run another test or two on you, Lieutenant." Beverley said.

"Sickbay to Bridge..." Beverly said on com as Picard turned to hi panel at main ridge and Jack's office.

"Picard here. Go ahead, Doctor." he said.

"I'm confining Lieutenant La Forge to Sickbay until further notice."

"Do we have a problem, Doctor?"

"I don't know yet."

Jack entered the bridge from a turbolift and crossed toward Data, who was working at one of the science stations at the rear of the Bridge. All other Bridge Personnel were in place - Picard, Tasha, Worf at Ops, Crewman at Conn.

Data looked up as Jack approached him.

"Data, I need help in locating some library-computer information." Jack said.

"Specifics, sir?" Data said.

"All I have is a vague memory of reading somewhere about someone taking a shower in his or her Clothing."

"Ah. The body Geordi discovered."

"And I believe it may have happened Before."

"To "someone," "somewhere.""

"Should be easy for someone written up in biomechanical texts." Jack said amused.

Data shrugged, entered a command on the panel, and information began to flash up on a small .

"About that... did the doctor believe I was boasting?" he asked.

"Probably."" Jack said dryly. "This may take some time?" he continued indicating veiwer.

"At least several hours." Data said and looked up. "But what I said was a statement of fact."

"Perhaps she will look it up." he continued while Jack began to leave.

"You can depend on it." he said.

Back at the sickbay Geordi was resting on a hospital bed. Beverly finishes working over him with a medical instrument, checks a reading on it, moves toward her office.

Later Beverly sat down at her desk, compared readings on the medical instrument with something she had called up on the viewer.

At sickbay Geordi sat up, took off his communicator and laid it to one side. Then he got to his feet, and quietly left the Sickbay. A moment, then Beverly came back in and stared at the empty bed, snatched up Geordi's communicator and ran for the door.

"Geordi!" she yelled.

The door corridor outside sickbay slid open and she stood there, agitatedly staring up and down the corridor.

It was empty.

At the main bridge Tasha heard an alert signal from her panel.

"Security! Lieutenant La Forge just left Sickbay while my back was turned. It's important we find him." Beverly said on com.

"Security team alert, pick up Lieutenant La Forge who left Sickbay moments ago." she said toward console. "Captain, anything further?" she continued calling Picard.

"Affirmative. Make it a ship-wide search, Lieutenant." he said.

At Beverly, Jack and Wesley's quarters Geordi and the boy was in the living space, near a table littered with delicate futuristic tools.

He had an intricately shaped tube attached to a miniature control device. It was a miniature tractor beam. As Geordi watched Wesley was using the device to maneuver a chair in the air.

"It's a model of the same kind oftractor beam our ship uses... with some ideas of my own added." W esley said.

He hoisted the chair higher, floats it sideways, then let it settle to the deck. Geordi was fascinated.

"So that's your science project. Wes, you are something!" Geordi said.

"Meanwhile, the captain won't let me visit the bridge." Wesley said and went to the littered table, pulled out a transparent cube and slid it into a slot on a small flat machine. "So, I use this to imagine I'm there."

Then he touched a control and a light goes on at the tiny machine.

"Take the helm, Mister Crusher. Set a course for thirty-seven mark one hundred eighty. Warp six." Picard said.

"That's the captain's voice." Geordi indicated.

"Pieced together from words he's used on the intercom." Wesley said. "I can pretend he's ordering me to take the Enterprise anywhere. And listen to this..." he indicated.

Then he touched another control.

"Chief Engineer, report to the Bridge. Commander Riker, report to the Bridge. Doctor Crusher, report to the Bridge." Picard said.

"What d'you think?"

Geordi put a friendly arm about the Wesley's shoulder.

"I think the captain's lucky you're on his side." he said.

"But he still won't let me on the bridge. And there's nothing there I don't understand."

"Wish I understood myself that well."

Wesley turned at the "down" note in Geordi's voice.

"You okay?" he asked.

"No. Suddenly I seem to be burning up inside." he said and stood and moved for the door. "Wow it's hot in here." he continued then left leaving a puzzled Wesley inside.

Tasha and Security Personnel were in the corridor searching for Geordi.

Geordi was now in the observation loung perspiring, upset. Looking out to space.

"Geordi...?" he heard Tasha say.

She came in from behind him, looking for a reaction from him.

"Medical's been worried about you." she continued.

"Help me." he said without turning.

Tasha studied him for a second. He seems so sad, so lonely.

"Lieutenant Yar in the Observation Lounge. Send a team here now." she said.

After a minute, Geordi swung around to look at her, pain and longing chasing across his face.

"Tasha... I said "help me." Help me not to give in to the wild things coming into my mind..." he said.

Tasha was moved, tried to fight it off.

"Geordi - my job is security..." she said.


Tasha folded him into arms.

"Yes, helping is more important." she said. "How can I help you Geordi?" she asked being patted by Geordi's hand.

Then a Security Guard hurried into the room, stopped as Tasha motioned him to a halt.

"Help me to see like you do." Geordi said.

"But you already see better than I can."

"I see more. But more isn't Better!"

He teared off the prosthesis, exposing eyes that have flat gray irises with no pupil, incapable of expression.


"I want to see in shallow, dim, beautiful human ways."

"We'll talk about it, Geordi." she said and took his hand. "I'm going to take you to Sickbay now. All right?"

He bobbed his head, willing to be assisted. As she lead him away.

"Captain's log, supplemental. I am concerned that away team member Lieutenant La Forge has been taken to Sickbay. The report: "unusual behavior." Picard said.

Geordi was now back at sickbay lying on a hospital bed still struggling to control his emotions, while Beverly worked her medical instruments over him, glancing up now and then at the o.s. viewscreen to check the results. Deana was assisting the monitoring.

Picard and Tasha were at Beverly's office.

"... and then we got him down to sickbay so Dr. Crusher could examine him." Tasha said.

"He wasn't violent?" Picard said.

She glanced over her shoulder back toward the treatment room.

"No, sir. He was very upset... he kept talking about wanting normal Eyes."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. I'll be in Sickbay."

Picard hurried out immediately.

'It's clear he has much on his mind.' he thought.

Tasha moved to leave, then paused and wiped a hand over her lightly perspiring brow. As she left, it was clear she felt strange somehow.

At sickbay Beverly was administering a hypospray to Geordi, which finally began to calm his emotional state. As Picard joined them, Beverly turned and indicated her medical viewscreen.

"According to our medical readouts, there's still nothing wrong with him. He looks like he's running a temperature but every instrument we have says he's not." she said.

"Doctor, every person on that ship over there died. Is there any chance that whatever did it is loose on my ship?"

"If you mean a disease, sir, I'd say there's no chance of it. We used full decontamination, we examined each team member carefully..."

"The entire crew over there somehow managed to kill themselves, Doctor. If it wasn't a disease, what else could have made them do that?" he said interrupting her.

"The obvious alternatives would be in areas of insanity, severe emotional upset..." she said. "Troi, do you feel anything unusual in the lieutenant here?" she said and stopped short to Deanna.

"Security reported he was longing for normal eyesight. A rather sudden yearning for that." he said to Deanna.

"Since his records show no previous mention of that, the fact that it's happened now could be important." Deanna said centering her attention on Geordi, mentally probing. "But all I feel from him is confusion. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was Intoxicated."

The Captain threw a quick look toward Beverly who shook her head firmly.

"Our tests would have shown that. Also any signs of drugs, hallucinogens or other Contaminants." she said.

At the bridge, still at the science station, Data's fingers were flying over tabs on the console. He looked at the viewscreen, shook his head. Worf and Crewman as before.

"Can you provide more information, sir? Seeking an instance of someone showering with their clothing on" Data said.

"I know... like looking for a needle in a haystack." Jack said.

"Why should anyone wish to expend their time in such a search?" Data said puzzled.

"Correction, Data, I should have said proverbial needle in a Haystack."

"Ah, a human proverb! As in folklore, or an historical allusion, or tribal memories, Or..."

"That's it! Historical! I remember now that I was reading a history of all the past starships named Enterprise." Jack said interrupting.

"Enterprise history. Aberrant behavior. Medical cross Reference..." Data said as he took over the console tabbing in commands.

Then Picard arrived and crossed toward his Bridge position.

"Captain, I believe we've got the answer to what happened over there." Jack called after seeing him where Data continued refining the information he's getting.

Jack was watching over his shoulder as Picard moved in to examine the information too.

"The Constitution class Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk Commanding..." Picard said.

"Similar conditions. They were monitoring a planet that was breaking up, not a collapsing star as in this case, but there were the same huge shifts in gravity..." Jack said indicating the viewer.

"...which somehow resulted in complex strings of water molecules which then acquired carbon from the body and acted on the brain like alcohol!" Picard said while he peered closely. "Mister Data, download that information immediately to Medical." he said to Data.

"Aye sir, downloading." Data said.

Picard and Jack both study the information on the viewer.

"Fascinating! Their entire crew going out of control..." Picard said.

"Like intoxication but worse. Judgment almost completely Impaired..." Jack said.

"Until they found this formula, barely in time." Picard said and moved to his own console. "Picard to Doctor Crusher, come In."

"This is Crusher; go ahead Captain." Beverly said on com.

"You can relax, Doctor. The answer to all this is feeding into your medical banks now... including a Cure."

There was a long minute

"Are you certain, Captain?"


Data looked up with a slight pained expression at Picard's "absolutely."

Deanna's quarters were tastefully decorated, including a scattering of art objects that may be Betazoid in origin- perhaps a wall hanging, a unique piece of pottery or statuette, or paintings. At the moment, there were also a number of lovely dresses and gowns draped over the furniture. She entered and stopped inside the door, staring.

"Tasha?" she said.

She was somewhat agitated and had a light sheen of perspiration as she held one of Deanna's gowns against her, judging it for color. The size, of course, would be all wrong for her.

"What're you doing?" she continued.

"I need your advice. That's why I came to your quarters." Tasha said.

"Of course. Anything I can do -"

"On clothes. You always wear such beautiful clothes off duty. And your hair's so nice all the time. I want to change my image." Tasha said interrupting her. What about this color?" she asked holding a dress.

"Not for you. Tasha, I feel you're very uncertain... that you're fighting something." Deanna said and reached out to take Tasha's hand comfortingly. "What is it?"

Tasha pulled her hand away, tossed down the dress, and moved to the door.

"Never mind. I'll find what I need myself. Ship's Stores will have It."

"Tasha, wait-"

Then Tasha left and Deanna immediately touched the com panel.

"Troi to Captain Picard." she said.

"Picard here." Picard said at the bridge.

"Sir, I think Tasha's been infected, too. She's just left my quarters..."

"It's not actually an "infection," Counselor."

"Yes sir, it's more like intoxication, but whatever it is, she's got it."

"Thank you, Counselor." he said. "Number One, our security chief has the equivalent of a snootful." he said to Jack.

"Inquiry, sir... 'snootful?'" Data said to Picard.

"Forget it!"

Beverly was at her office checking the lab report on Geordi against information on her viewscreen but was interrupted.

"Mom, Look what I can do..." Wesley said.

She turned, got to her feet in alarm and hurried into the treatment room.

Wesley again had the tractor beam on and was balancing several medical instruments in mid-air all at the same time.

"I've been able to widen and strengthen the beam, just like I told you last night -" he continued.

"Do me a favor, Wes? There's something happening on this Ship..." she said. "Just to be safe, I'd like you to stay in our quarters until it's Solved." She said and shrugged.

"Right, Mom, right. Your wish is my..." he said with a slightly silly grin.

"Now, Wes."

"You could be stunting my emotional growth, you know." he said while he lowered the floating instrument and turned off the tractor beam. "Why's it so hot in here, anyway?" he asked while he wiped his forehead.

He headed for the door. Beverly paused, thinking about his words a moment but was interrupted by something.

"Picard to Crusher. Have you made a test injection yet? We're getting indications that this condition is spreading." Picard asked.

"No test yet, Captain, but very soon."

Tasha was moving down the corridor with a most provocative sway. She was moving quite unlike her usual straightforward stride. She approached an intersection where several crewpersons are passing. Then, we heard giggles, then a woman's laughter.

"Come to Papa; come to Papa...!" transporter chief said.

There was more laughter as A crewman chased a crewwoman around the corner and into the other corridor. Other crew odd behavior.

From the reactions of the crewpersons in sight it was obvious that some have been infected and some not. Another crewman was coming from the other direction and paused as he saw Tasha swaying toward him, openly flirting. She stopped in front of him.

Tasha reached out to pull the crewman a little closer and planted a kiss on him and he kissed her back.

As Picard returned to his chair at the main bridge, Data moved toward him.

"Captain, in another forty-one minutes will see the information from the Tsiolkovsky downloaded to us." he said.

"Why so slow?"

"Slow, sir? The Tsiolkovsky has been eight months in accumulating It."

"How much danger from that star? Worse case." Picard said and indicated the viewer.

The collapsing star centered on the screen in the midst of very slow motion surface explosions.

"Like a full collapse, sir?" Data asked. "Any stellar material it threw this way we could still outrun on half impulse power."

At the engineering office Chief engineer Sarah MacDougal and her assistant chief Jim Shiwoda were working in the office at their consoles. They both glanced up as the bosun's whistle went off.

"Picard to Engineering. Chief engineer report to the bridge." Picard said on com.

MacDougal shook her head and left the office. Shimoda turned back to his console.

"Assistant Chief Engineer Shimoda report to Medical." he continued.

Shimoda hesitated, looked around the empty office. A minute... then Wesley entered the office, carrying the small flat portable machine.

"Hi, Jim. Was that the captain sending you to Medical?" Wesley said.

"Which would leave no one on duty here. The chief was just summoned to the bridge." Shimoda said.

"What about me? I could call your chief on the bridge if anything Happens."

He smiled at Shimoda... and wiped some sweat from his brow.

Picard looked around curiously at the bridge as MacDougal approached the command chair:

"Reporting as ordered, sir." MacDougal said.


"You ordered me to report to the bridge, sir."

"I did no such thing. I want you down in the Engine Room in case we need to move out of here." he continued being interrupted by a Bosun's whistle alert.

"Attention all decks, all divisions. Effective immediately, I have handed over control of this vessel to Acting Captain Wesley Crusher." he said on com.

"Acting Capt..." he said in sheer disbelief.

"Thank you, Captain Picard, thank you. And with that order dawns a brave new day for the Enterprise." Wesley said on com.

"Captain's log, Stardate 41209.3. The strange contaminant that led to the deaths of the Tsiolkovsky crew is now aboard the Enterprise... and our Engineering Section has been commandeered by young Wesley Crusher..." Picard said.

"Jack, MacDougal - get that your son out of Engineering." Picard continued.

Jack and MacDougal turned and headed for a turbolift as Worf turned around toward Picard, concerned.

Jack was thinking one thing,

'You have some serious explaining to do tonight.' he thought.

"Sir, I'm getting very strange reports from all decks -" Worf started.

"Such as?"

"Such as the ship's training division ordering all officers to attend a lecture on Metaphysics."


"Confirmed, sir. And there is a rather peculiar limerick being delivered by someone in the shuttlecraft bay. I am not sure I understand it..." Data said. "There was a young lady from Venus whose body was shaped like -" he quoted.

"Captain to Security, come in!" Picard said interrupting him.

"Did I say something wrong?" Data asked Worf.

Worf shrugged.

"I don't understand their humor Either."

"Yeah, Captain?" the security said lazy and uninterested.

"Where's my security chief?! Get me Lieutenant Yar."

"Keep your britches on, Captain."

"Captain Picard..." she said.

"Yar, where are you?"

"I'm in my quarters and pretty busy right at this moment, Jean-Luc."

"All right, Lieutenant, just stay right there." he said gathering self together. "Data, please go to Lieutenant Yar and get her down to Sickbay." he said while he turned.

"Yes, sir." he said.

"Security, I want all your senior supervisors to report to the bridge immediately." Picard said into console.

A forcefield shimmered at the entrance to the Engineering Office, barring the way inside. Beyond the forcefield inside the office stood Wesley who was grinning at several Crewpersons, all of them clearly contaminated, who stand outside the forcefield. Assistant Chief Engineer Shimoda entered, grinning and weaving slightly, walked up to the :

"... and a dessert course shall henceforth precede and follow every meal. Including breakfast." Wesley said.

There were cheers from the onlookers.

"Hurray for the acting captain!" crewman said.

"Never got as far as Sickbay, Wes. I feel too good for that." Shimoda said.

There was a Buzz sound as Shimoda walked into the forcefield and was thrown back.

"Incredible! How did you do that?" he asked.

"Hooked my model tractor beam into ship's power. Now its a repulse beam too." Wesley indicated. "Want in?" he asked eyeing Shimoda.

Shimoda nodded, raised his right hand as in oath.

"Swear to be faithful to you, Captain!" he said.

When he got to the engineering office Wesley picked up a small control device, aimed it at the Forcefield which disappeared. Shimoda stepped inside, then Wesley turned the forcefield on again.

The living space at Tasha's quarters was low lit, provocative shadows. There was a chime, a beat, then the door slid open. Data stood there, hesitant, stepped in. He looked around, not quite sure of himself.

"Lieutenant Yar?" he said.

"Here, Data." she said.

She was in the door to her bedroom. Her hair was provocatively arranged... her makeup was especially dramatic and attractive... and she wore a pale blue diaphanous. Her voice quality had changed too... sultry, like a Louisiana summer night.

"You wanted me?" she continued.

Tasha moved languidly toward Data, almost floating. Data didn't quite know how to react to this Tasha.

"Captain Picard ordered me to escort you to Sickbay, Lieutenant."

"Did he say when?"

"I am sure he meant "now."" he said after considering it. So you need time to get into Uniform..." He indicated.

"But I got out of uniform for you, Data. Do you know how old I was when I was abandoned?"

"Chronological age? No, I am afraid I am not conversant with your -"

"Five. Five years old, but I survived. I learned how to stay alive, how to avoid the rape gangs. I was fifteen before I escaped."

"I am sorry. I did not know..."

"And what I want now is gentleness. And joy. And love." she said then reached out and caressed his face. Data shifted his weight, not sure what to do. "From you, Data. You are fully functional, aren't you?" she continued.

"Of course, but..."

"How fully?"

"In every way, of course. I have been programmed in multiple techniques, a broad variety of Pleasuring..."

"You jewel! That's exactly what I hoped."

Her smile was provocative, full of promises; and Data tentatively smiled back.

Jack was standing near a communications computer panel at engineering.

"What have you learned, Number One?" Picard asked on com.

"Captain, the ship's engines are cut off from the bridge. And I have the reason. The assistant chief engineer pulled out the isolinear optical chips from command and all engines are off-line." Jack said.

Shimoda was sitting on the floor of the engineering office near an opened console, playing happily with a pile of isolinear chips tossing them in the air or juggling them, staring at the pretty colors. Wesley looked with an air of pride and satisfaction at his portable tractor beam which was emitting a beam wide enough to block the entire opening into the Engineer's Office.

"Wesley's hooked some kind of tractor beam into ship's power and has it aimed at the door. We can't get past it to get at the computer." Jack continued as the engineer came in beside him.

"Can you short out the power?" Picard asked on com.

Jack looked to MacDougal and she shrugged.

"Maybe." she said. "Yes, I can. But it's going to take time." she considered.

"Do it!" Picard said at the bridge concerned.

As Jack and MacDougal pulled a panel off the console opposite the Engineer's Office entry, and MacDougal started to reach inside. From their right, there was the sound of turbolift doors.

'Wesley's in so much trouble when we get to our quarters it's not even funny.' Jack thought.

"Jack..." Deanna said.

"Deanna, what - ?" he said when he came to Deanna on the corridor to engineering.

She reached for him before he can stop her, held him tight.

"So many minds on this ship, Jack... all free... released..."

Her hands moved sensuously on his back, her body closer to his.

"Deanna -" he said.

"I can feel them all... what they feel... what they want... I feel a side of humans I've never felt Before."

"Come on, I'm getting you to Sickbay."

He caught her up in his arms, carried her toward the Turbolift.

Wouldn't you rather be alone with me - with me in your mind..." she said.

At sickbay Beverly had a large beaker or futuristic-shaped container from which she was loading a hypo-spray. The hypo-spray filled, she moved across to where Geordi lied still strapped on the hospital bed. He was awake now, his face a picture of desolation. Beverly administered the hypo-spray and stepped back to observe.

"The medical records we found say this works almost instantly."

Geordi lied still, staring at the ceiling.

"I've never seen a rainbow, Doc. Sunset. Sunrise. None of those. This is going to help me?" he said.

Beverly stared at Geordi, horrified as realization came. It doesn't work.

He carried her into the treatment area then laid her down gently on a bed next to Geordi's.

"Bev- Doctor Crusher..." Jack said almost calling her Beverly.

Then he turned, looking for Beverly. She didn't appear so he hurried into her office.

She was sitting at the desk, desolate. Jack came in behind her then put a hand on her shoulder to shake her slightly.

"Didn't you hear me? Deanna needs your help." he asked gently.

"The formula from the old Enterprise didn't work." she said.


"This water-carbon complex may induce the same symptoms, but it's different somehow. Maybe it's mutated. I'll have to isolate it... analyze it..."

"We don't have that kind of time."

She suddenly snapped around, realizing something.

"You brought Deanna in?"

"She's infected with it, too."

He headed for the door. Beverly was on her feet anxiously.

"You touched her? Oh, God, you touched me." she said. "You can't leave here -"

"If we don't get our command computers back on-line soon, this- whatever this is - won't matter. We'll all be dead. And we can't lose Wesley."

"Captain's log, supplemental. It is no longer an inconvenient childish prank. Young Wesley Crusher..." Picard said. "Admittedly a victim of the Tsiolkovsky "infection"…" he continued softening.

At the bridge everyone was looking at Wesley in the Engineering office. At the Bridge are Worf at the Ops position and crewman at Conn.

"... is now in control of my starship. How he acquired the engineering information and knowledge he is using, I have no Idea." Picard said.

Picard was staring up at Wesley's image on the main viewer.

"Wes, this is Captain Picard. Do you see me?" he continued.

Wesley looked up and around then focused his attention onto camera. Although showing the same contaminant symptoms as others, he spoke respectfully.

"Yes sir?" he said.

"You will now return all control of this vessel to the bridge where it belongs. Now."

"I'm sorry, sir. Why don't you just tell me what you want done and I'll..."

Because ship captains control their own vessels, young man!" Picard said interrupting him.

"But, sir, you don't do it yourself. You give the orders, someone else does it. What's wrong with giving me the orders to do it?"

Worf and Conn had exchanged looks during this although Conn had begun to perspire and appeared uncomfortable. Worf saw something unusual on his console and interrupted Picard.

"Captain, getting unusual readings now from the dwarf star...!" he saaid.

"Stand by a moment on that." he said. "Wesley...!" he continued. "Wes... are you aware that you're acting strangely... that a kind of "infection" was brought back from the Tsiolkovsky that acts like intoxication?" he said after he softened it.

He considered it.

"Are you saying that's why I feel so... so "hot," so strange?"

Picard wanted to shout back "of course!" but he controlled himself.

"That's a very adult bit of reasoning, Wes..."

"Are you saying I'm "drunk?" I feel strange but also good."

"Because..." he said but corrected his tone of Voice. "Because you've lost the capacity for self-judgment. Alcohol does that but this contaminant we've brought back does it even more So."

"What would you do if you got your ship back?"

"It's very important I do because we must immediately put a tractor beam on the Tsiolkovsky, then tow it out of..."

"Tractor beams are my specialty, Skipper! I'll contact you when that's done; Wesley out!"

Then the viewer went dark, and then was replaced with a view of the dwarf star. It was in the midst of a gigantic flare.


Conn got up from his position now, weaved toward the turbolift.

"Conn, where are you headed?" he continued but got no answer.

"Sir!" Worf said while Conn left by turbolift. "The star; it's beginning to Collapse." He indicated viewscreen.

"What the hell is happening in Engineering?" he wondered.

At engineering Wesley was working some controls on one of the consoles.

"Lock on, Tsiolkovsky, lock on... lock on, Tsiolkovsky, lock On..." He sang.

Behind him, Shimoda was still sitting on the floor, playing something like "jacks" with the isolinear optical chips from the computer, scooping up the chips in orderly Groups by numbers.

Macdougal and Jack were working together at the console opposite the entranceto Engineer's O ffice, probing deep into the guts of the console. A small array of tools lied between them.

"You got the logic probe?" she asked and he handed it to her. "Thanks."

"Where's the sonic driver?" he asked.

She grunted and gestured at the spread of tools. Jack looked, found it, dove into the console again. MacDougal worked quickly then stepped back.

"There. Let's see if this'll cut out his tractor beam power." she said and reached inside the console and switched something.

She and Jack both turned to look behind them.

Through a window into engineer's office Wesley grinned cheerfully. The tractor beam was still aimed at the door.

Beverly was grimly working at a futuristic microscope in her office, then became aware that she was wiping perspiration from her face.

"Oh no! No, I must find the answer. Find the answer. Have to find the answer." she said then reached for another slide but handled it confusedly.

At the bridge Worf was still at Ops. No one at Conn. He whirled around.

"Captain - tractor beam! We just locked onto the Tsiolkovsky!" Worf said.

"Bridge to... to Wesley." he said and they waited. "Wesley Crusher, come in!"

One of the turbolift doors hissed open and Data entered the Bridge. Picard whirled to him.

"Data! At least you're functioning...!" he continued.

"Fully, Captain, fully." Data said.

But it was obvious from the look on his face and his weaving movements that Data was not at all himself.

"Data, intoxication is a human condition. Your mind is different, it's not the same..."

"We are more alike than unlike, my dear captain." Data said examining the backs of his hands with great interest. "I have pores. Humans have pores." he continued then turned hands over. "I have fingerprints. Humans have fingerprints. My chemical nutrients are like your blood." he continued then looked appealingly at Picard. "If you prick me, do I not leak?"

Then the turbolift opened and Beverly entered the Bridge.

"If this can possibly wait, Doctor..." Picard said.

"May I see you in your Ready Room? It's a private matter... well, actually an urgent one..." Beverly said.

"I'm busy, Doctor. Impossible."

But Beverly left the Bridge into Ready Room. So Picard followed.

"Damn!" he continued.

Picard entered the ready room, found Beverly waiting. She had a slight smile on her face.

"I believe I'm infected myself." she said.

Beverly stepped toward Picard, suddenly giggled.

"Do you know what the infection? Is?" he asked.

Picard realized that Beverly was beginning to smile at him a bit more than usual. She tried to stop doing so. All this was complicated for her by the fact she had begun lately to find this man increasingly attractive.

"Sorry." she said and wiped off her smile. "It is definitely like alcohol intoxication, the same lack of good judgment..." she said smiling again. "For example, right now, I find you, well, extremely...extremely..." she said and stopped. "Of course, we haven't time for that sort of thing,"

"Of course, we haven't time for that sort of thing..."

"What sort of thing?" Picard asked.

"Oh God would I love to show you." she said eyeing his body.

"Doctor, there must be a cure! Some formula, similar to the old One..."

"Dammit... dammit, dammit, my dear captain. You owe me something. You do realize that, don't you? I'm a woman; I haven't the comfort of a husband, a man..." she said holding his hand.

"Not now, Doctor, please... You're married to Jack, not me."

Then he was alarmed to find himself giggling, wiping moisture from his forehead.

On the Bridge, Ready Room door in b.g. Worf turned as Picard and Beverly emerged from the Ready Room. Beverly entered the nearby Turbolift, turned and waved. Picard fought the urge to giggle, waved back. The doors closed. He, very irritated at self, regained control. Then Worf pressed his intercom.

"Bridge to Crusher, urgent." Worf said low.

Back at engineering Jack looked up, his hands still deep in the console. And wondering what Wesley had done.

"Crusher here.

"Sir, regret to inform you that the captain appears to be infected. And Data, and..." Worf said on com.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. I'm coming." he said. "You'll have to handle this." he said to MacDougal.

"Are you saying you'll handle that?"

Back at the bridge Worf was reacting as he saw the results of this on his readouts, then whirled to the Main Viewer. Red alarm lights flashing.

At the command position Picard was very concerned at what he was seeing; Beverly reacting to his concern; even the bemused Data was watching it with some interest. Beverly turned, crossed toward the turbolift where she left. As Jack entered.

"What we're seeing, sir, is a huge chunk of the star's surface blown off, heading for us!" Worf said.

"Take us..." Picard said and wiped perspiration.

"Are you alright, sir?" Jack asked.

'This isn't the Jean I met years ago. So something's wrong.' he thought.

"Worf, you know what to do. Take us out of here." he said.

Worf worked the controls, got nothing, leapt over to the Conn panel and worked something and then came back to Ops and didn't more. Still nothing.

"Sir, the controls are still off-line!" he said.

"Override!" Picard said.

Worf tried but failed.

"Same result, sir." he said.

At engineering Wesley watched while Shimoda attempted to put together a structure composed of the isolinear optical chips.

"Wes, come in please. Wesley, this is your dad. Come in. This is urgent!" Jack said on com.

Red alarm lights are flashing at the engineering office. MacDougal twisted something inside the open panel.

The forcefield disappeared and Wesley looked up, slightly disconcerted.

MacDougal surged in. Wesley and Shimoda merely looked at her. Wesley was upset.

'Game's over.' he thought.

"Engineering, urgent. We must have ship's power..." Jack said on com.

MacDougal ignored him, pushed past them toward the computer consoles. The optical chips went flying as Shimoda dodged out of her way.

"Oh, no, those are control Chips...!" She said and found a com button. "Bridge from Engineering..." she said.

"The star is still collapsing; we're directly in the path of..." Jack started on com.

At the bridge both Picard and Data fighting against the contamination as Jack controls the main console.

"I can't help you, bridge! Someone's yanked out all the control chips here..." MacDougal said on com.

"It was an adult who did it!" Wesley said on com.

"I estimate fourteen minutes until that mass gets here...!" Worf said.

"No way to replace chips in fourteen minutes, sir. I'd guess two hours, maybe three..." MacDougal said on com.

"Data could assemble them back faster." Wesley said.

Picard seemed to come out of it a bit. He looks up:

"What's that?" he said and hit a com control. "What's that Wesley?

"They're just simple isolinear chips, sir. To Data, anyway. He could shuffle them like cards." Wesley said on com.

"Come on Data. Hurry!" Jack said while it overlapped.

_" Ship's log, First Officer Crusher. The star has begun disintegrating. Enterprise will be destroyed unless it can be moved out of the path of the star material Hurtling..." Jack said. "... toward us. Unless Wesley came up with a way to help us our only hope is for Lieutenant Commander Data in the time we have left, to regain his senses and reconnect engine power to the Bridge."

MacDougal was in the engineering office on her knees on the floor, vainly trying to sort out which optical chips belong where.

Jack and Data entered fast. MacDougal looked up at Jack, helplessly indicated the chip chaos. Data smiled at Wesley, who grinned back cheerfully. Both were still smashed.

"Hi, Mister Data." he said.

"Nice to see you, Wesley. What...?" Data said.

"Data! We need the engines on-line in a hurry, remember?" Jack said overlapping urgently indicating.

Meanwhile, Jack was now beginning to perspire like others who had been "infected."

"Oh yes, I remember too." Wesley said. "So, Data, if you don't mind..." he said to Data.

"We've no time for courtesy Wes!" Jack said fast to Wesley. "Get those control chips back in place, Data! In the correct order!" he said fast to Data.

Data hesitated, surprised at Jack shouting at him.

"NOW!" he continued.

"It's like a game of 'how fast can you do it?'" Wesley said to Data.

"Ah, a game!" he said.

Data began selecting chips, beginning to move more and more rapidly. Wesley moved to the Engineering Room viewer, adjusted the controls there.

"I think I can switch this to the main viewer, sir..." he said as it switched to a shot of the star material in distance but racing toward them.

"We've got eight or nine minutes, at most, Data. Can you finish by then?" Jack said turning to Data.

Data's hands were moving very fast. He seemed to be calculating Jack's questions, then shook his head without looking up.

"No. This will take slightly more time than we have, sir." Data said.

Jack became aware that his hand was wet, realizes he was "infected" too.

"Dammit, NO! I can't afford to get it!" he said then stood, swaying, grabbed for support.

Beverly was at her office with a batch of blue liquid made up and was examining it. Picard entered on the run.

"Beverly..." he said.

"Yes, Jean-Luc?" she said.

"You will address me as Captain!"

They still showed signs of the "intoxication." Beverly had begun to fill a hypo-spray with the blue liquid.

"In which case, dear Captain, you will address me as 'Chief Medical Officer' or 'Doctor.'" she said.

"That's true; I started off calling you 'Beverly,' then naturally,

"You..." He said befuddled then shook his head. "I'm still not thinking straight!"

Having filled the hypo-spray, Beverly turned with it to go somewhere but forgot where.

"Likewise. Where the hell was I just headed?"

"If that's something you wanted to test..." he said indicating hypo.

"Yes, yes, on Geordi!" she said when she remembered.

Weaving a bit, she hurried off with Picard following in the same way.

Back at the engineering Jack and MacDougal stood over Data, who concentrated on the chips. Wesley had moved to his school project tractor beam, eyeing it proudly.

"Did you see how I reversed fields on this, dad? Made it into a repulser beam." he said but Jack ignored the question, watched Data, concerned.

Data's hands were flying - almost a blur. More and more of the isolinear optical chips were set in the command computer board.

"If we had just a minute more, Sir..." He said.

Wesley looked up toward Engineering Room viewer.

The mass of star material closer, hurtling toward them.

Wesley reacted at the nearness now of the star material. Then looked at his tractor device.

"If this were a hundred times more powerful than it is..." he started.

At sickbay Beverly administered the hypo to Geordi with Picard looking on.

"I made this a broader based remedy... I hope. But it's still close to the formula from the old Enterprise's records..." she said.

"Decades ago, light years away..." he started.

"But almost exactly the same conditions as here."

"What was in that, Doctor? My head's beginning to clear..." Geordi started.

Beverly and Picard reacted to the sight of Geordi began to sit up alertly. Beverly whirled, injecting Picard... then herself. She pressed the hypo on him.

"Take this to Engineering. I'll make up more hypos for the others." she said.

At engineering office Jack gloomy now while Data and Wesley were continuing to work. But Wesley was struck with an idea, leapt to the Engineering Room control board.

"Why not try it with the real Thing?!" Wesley asked. "Why not reverse fields on this, Ma'am? If we only need an extra Minute..." he said to MacDougal.

"It would take weeks of laying out new circuits..." she said.

Wesley was studying the Engineering Room board.

"But why not just see it in your Head?" He said then thought and pressed switches. "Come off the main lead, split at the force activator, Then...then..." He continued puzzled. "If I could just think straight about this..."

Then Picard burst in, pressed his hypo against MacDougal, then Jack, then other people.

"We didn't make it, Captain. If we had just a minute or so more..." Jack started.

Wesley's fingers began to dance on the panel.

"Yes, then reversing power leads, back through the force activator... repulser beam hard against the Tsiolkovsky..." he said.

At engineering office Jack eyed the viewer in surprise.

"We're pushing away!" he said.

Data lifted his hands from the command computer board. The isolinear optical chips glow on the board.

"Bridge, engage engines!" he continued into com.

Geordi was on the main bridge at Conn now relieved. Beverly was there still administering hypo in jections. The red alarm lights had stopped.

"Sir, something seemed to move usaside at the last minute." Geordi said.

"Do we o we our thanks to Commander Data, sir?" Worf aske into comd.

"Yes. And... Wesley may have given us a few seconds, too." Picard said on com.

"Did he say Wesley? The boy?" Worf asked.

Beverly nodded with a pleased look.

"He said Wesley." she said.

At the engineering office Picard saw Jack smiling at him and he scowled, began to leave.

"It is only fair to mention Wesley in a log entry, sir." Jack said.

stopped then nodded.

"Fair is fair. And let's credit his science teacher, too." he said then left and Jack followed him.

Picard, Jack and Data entered the bridge from the Turbolift and moved toward their positions. Worf at Ops and Geordi at Conn positions turn with pleased expressions.

"Congratulations, sir." Geordi said.

"To many people." Picard said.

During which Deanna and Tasha entered from Turbolift and moved to their positions. Tasha was back to normal, wearing her regular duty uniform, hair and makeup as usual. Data saw and nodded.

Data started to turn away but Tasha had colored, turns toward him.

"Data! I'm only going to tell you this just once... It never Happened." she said.

Data gave her a very puzzled look and went to position still puzzling over it.

Picard sat in his position, looked around the Bridge.

"I put it to all of you we may end up with a fine crew... if we keep working at it." he said and for emphasis. "So, let's get to our next job, Number One."

"Aye, sir. Helm, stand by for warp three. Heading two-hundred ninety-four mark thirty-seven." Jack said smiling.

"Warp three, two-hundred ninety-four mark thirty-seven, Sir." Geordi said.

"Engage!" he said still smiling.

Picard smiled knowing someday Jack was going to be a good captain. It would be hard for him when he loses him but will be very proud of him.