The two Federation starships come slowly together. Here, next to the smaller vessel, the size of the new Enterprise is breathtaking.
"Captain's log, Stardate 41263.1. We have rendezvoused with the USS Fearless from which... which include main viewer." Picard was in his Command Chair at the main bridge. "Commander Riker is to his right. Counselor Troi to his left. Security chief Lieutenant Yar is at the Tactical Station. Behind her at the Aft Station is Lieutenant Worf. Lieutenant Geordi La forge has the Conn, Lieutenant commander Data is at the Ops Station." Picard said. "... a Starfleet propulsion expert and his assistant are beaming over to conduct tests on the Enterprise's warp drive engines." then he consulted the viewer at his position, then turned to Riker. "I don't understand your concern, Number One. They're not authorized to make any alterations in our engines."
Then he glanced at command viewer.
"According to Starfleet's message, they will simply test different ways of entering warp speed and different intermix formulas. What's the harm in that?"
"It's the specs that Kosinski sent us. In my opinion, sir, they're gibberish." Riker said.
"Mister Data, will you explain?"
Data then turned to Picard.
"Sir, we put Mister Kosinski's specs into the computer and ran a controlled test on them. There was no improvement in engine performance." he said.
"Then explain Starfleet's report how the same tests on the USS Ajax..." Picard said to Riker then indicated main viewer. "... and then on the Fearless over there, resulted in a measurable increase in propulsion."
"Our engines are new, sir, top condition. The tests on those older ships may have simply straightened out some engine inefficiency."
Then he got a call from the Transporter Room.
"Bridge from Transporter Chief. Two from USS Fearless are ready to beam over." Transporter chief's com said.
"Stand by for Commander Riker, Chief. He's on his way." he said then looked at Riker. "Obviously, something does worry you about these tests.
"Yes, sir. And if you don't mind..." he said then stood; indicates. "... I'll ask Counselor Troi to look these visitors over."
Picard nodded and Riker crossed with Deanna toward the turbolift.
As transporter effect materializes the Visitors at the transporter room. Kosinski has the look of someone operating at top performance. His assistant, a humanoid alien, is small, physically non-threatening, with a way of allowing himself to blend into the background in a shy, good-natured way. Kosinski dominates the room. He's obsessed with himself and what he does. His manner is arrogant, his demeanor authoritarian; he pulls every eye toward him.
Riker was with LT. commander Argyle, chief engineer, a rough-edged, hearty man for whom the Enterprise engines are the alpha and omega of his existence.
Counselor Troi held back, observing.
"Welcome aboard, Mister Kosinski. I'm the first officer, Commander William Riker. This is..." Riker said.
"Where is the captain, please?" Kosinski asked.
"He is engaged in other duties, sir..." he said trying to be pleasant.
"A ship's engines should be a concern of the ship's captain..."
"They are, sir. Which is why they make their first officers directly responsible for engine condition and performance." Kosinski said indicating Argyle. "Guided, of course, by one of our chief engineers, Lieutenant Commander Argyle in this case."
"A pleasure, sir. I appreciated receiving the advance specs..." Argyle said to him.
"On which you have no end of questions?"
"Aye, I have."
"And you, sir, are listed as...as..." Riker said to the assistant.
"As Mister Kosinski's assistant. My actual name is unpronounceable by humans..." the assistant voiced gently.
"From Tau Alpha C. That's very distant..." Riker said.
"... All approved and described in the Starfleet communications. Now..." Kosinski said and headed for the door. "... I'd like to set up in the Engine Room immediately..."
Then he began to exit, followed by his assistant.
"Our chief engineer will show you to his Engine Room." Riker said.
"No need - I know my way around starships..." Kosinski said.
But Lt. Commander Argyle already joined him and, despite Kosinski's obvious annoyance, lead the way.
Riker and Deanna watched Kosinski leave.
"One thing Kosinski isn't hiding." he said at Deanna's look. "A bad disposition."
"Agreed... Also, he's arrogant, overbearing, self-important." she said in a non-critical tone. "And very sure of himself and his ability."
He considered this.
"And the other one, his assistant?"
"He's the puzzle." she said and took a minute to phrase it. "With most life forms I feel something. I may not be able to interpret or understand it, but I feel something, if only a presence. With him - nothing. Empty space. It was as though he isn't even here." She seeked words for it. "... Something about this concerns me. I don't know what, I can't point out a reason, yet."
"Stay concerned. Please! The safety of the Enterprise may be entrusted to those two!"
At the main engineering a dramatic high angle as Kosinski, his assistant, Riker, and Argyle entered the area. There were some members of the duty watch there as well as Wesley, who's working on a school-related science project.
"Inform the bridge I shall begin the first test in precisely fifty minutes. Why is that child here?" Kosinski asked.
"He's working on a school project." Argyle said and threw off the answer. "Before you continue, there are some questions. First, tell us..."
Riker entered but stood slightly off to one side, properly allowing Argyle to handle this, but ready to support him where necessary.
Kosinski turned and faced them. His assistant had become attracted to Wesley's project and stepped over beside the young man.
"... To save myself time, let me ask those questions for you." Kosinski said interrupting.
His arrogance built with every word. He moved around as he talked, like a prize fighter, circling, jabbing, - softening the opponent.
"You received the information which Starfleet provided - you fed it into your computer - being as precise as humanly possible - then you ran a controlled test. And, then, to your astonishment - nothing happened." he continued.
Jack and Argye were irritated by Kosinski's arrogance, yet it's strangely reassuring. This self-assurance, coupled with his record of success, making them start to think what he proposed was possible.
"So you said - "What's going on? This doesn't work. Kosinski's a fraud."" Kosinski said and stepped closer for emphasis. "You see, I have had this discussion on other Starfleet vessels. They didn't understand it; why should you?" he asked smiling smugly.
Through the rhetoric.
"You are surely not saying it's unexplainable?" Argyle said.
"I'm saying I'm not a teacher, and don't want to become one. I have neither the inclination nor time." Kosinski said.
"You have all the time you need." Jack said.
"I don't think you understand. This has already been approved by Starfleet Command."
"But it hasn't been approved by the chief engineer... or by me."
"I didn't know that was necessary." Kosinski said a little snidely.
"Now you do."
"Perhaps I should talk with Captain Picard."
"If you like, but it won't change anything."
Kosinski saw the resolve in Jack's eyes and knew he couldn't bully his way through this.
"How basic shall I be?" he asked.
Jack, without softening his expression in the slightest, indicated with a wave that it's Kosinski's call.
"I leave that to you." Jack said.
Kosinski stepped over to the computer. Everyone moved a little closer, including Wesley. Then Kosinski's assistant came up next to the young man.
He gestured his assistant over to sit at an adjacent, secondary computer keyboard. Then the assistant worked rapidly at this keyboard.
"We can save a little time this way. My assistant is laying in my base formulas a bit more rapidly than a human can do it..." Kosinski said. "... even myself." he said with a small chuckle.
Wesley was closely watching which keys the assistant is using and what is appearing on the computer screen.
It was a three-dimensional geometric display which builds and grows on the computer screen as we watched, becoming a wonderfully complex and incredibly beautiful pattern. It was nothing we recognize nor understand. It was a theoretical representation of warp power.
"Here is, in the simplest possible terms, what I do. This warp drive system was tuned only in the grossest sense, at least to my standard anyway. What I do is specific." Kosinski said then waved his assistant back, addresses his primary keyboard now and tapped on a few keys.
There was a slight change.
"How should I say this?" he asked. "Aah... sufficient to say for now, these symbols and their relationships have greater meaning to me than to you..." he said when he found the word then tapped on the keys again, and again there was a slight change. "... although you can in time learn them. Then, those of you sufficiently gifted, can duplicate my results."
"But the three percent efficiency increase of the other vessels could still have been caused by other things such as simply working more carefully, better station coordination..." Jack said.
"And you mention "gifted." In what way? Whatever any of us can learn to do on a computer, another computer can eventually perform faster, more precisely..." Argyle said.
"Wrong! What the computer can't do is create. Only the mind..." Kosinski said. "... is capable of true, original thought." he said and tapped his forehead then stepped from the computer.
Riker and Argyle followed him a few steps, then stopped.
"But what we're dealing with is mechanics. However complex it may be, it has to do with an engine." Jack said.
"And that is exactly where you go wrong. Warp drive has become so complex that it is..."
"... as filled with mysteries as nature itself." Kosinski said in a puzzled look. "If you'll view the screen with me and consider the following." he said indicated.
Draw by curiosity, Wesley moved closer to the computer screen. The assistant, curious over the expressions playing over his face, moved in beside him. In b.g. Kosinski was touching a button or so on the keyboard producing minor changes on the screen as he continued.
"Is this merely "mechanics" or is it nature that we deal with in this? What else than nature are elementals like space and time?" Kosinski asked.
Wesley looked puzzled as though some information on the screen was out of place.
"You are trained through the system - you go in a straight line, competent, yes, and perhaps even innovative in a minimalist way, but what I am doing here is not the end of the process - even innovative in a minimalist way, but what I am doing here is not the end of the process -
"Something troubles you about the way this is configured." the assistant said not a question. "How about it now?"
Wesley nodded his head yes. Without Jack or Argyle noticing, the assistant put new information into it's the beginning the computer.
Kosinski paused to allow them to be sufficiently impressed, believing they are whether they show it or not.
The display changed - much more than anything Kosinski did.
"So, what do I do - go back to the Fearless, which I left with a more efficient warp drive than I found, or do you cast off your ignorance and allow me to continue?" Kosinski said.
The confusion drained from Wesley's face.
"Yes. But shouldn't these be connected?" Wesley asked.
"Can anything he's proposing damage the system?" Jack asked Argle.
He tapped the keys, the display changed - radically.
Wesley and assistant slightly in b.g. at their keyboard.
"Here." Wesley said and changed it again. ".. And here." he and studdied it for a second.
"How could it? It's meaningless." Argyle said."Then we'll let him try it." Jack said.
Wesley's attitude was important here. What he was doing was pure problem-solving. It would mean as much if he were in his room alone. He's not looking for approval. He's not trying to impress.
"What do you mean, "let him try it?" Don't talk about me in the third person like I'm not standing right here." Kosinski said and exploded.
Riker and Argyle continue to ignore Kosinski.
The assistant looked at Wesley's reflection in the CRT. In that look recognition - an indication of potential which he saw
"Now will it do what." Kosinski says it will?" the assistant asked.
Argyle weighed it all.
"Yes, we might as well. Let him try it."
"It has a chance - but... I think it might work better this way." he said
"You are too generous." Kosinski said sarcastically.
Wesley punched in something on the computer.
The computer formula changed slightly.
As the assistant looked approvingly at what Wesley had put on the viewer. Kosinski glanced over to see Wesley at the computer.
"Boy, don't play with that." Kosinski said.
Wesley, without a hint of petulance, moved away from the keyboard. The assistant gave Kosinski a look which says - "If you only knew."
Picard entered Main Bridge.
"Main Engineering is ready to proceed, Captain." Worf said.
"Engineering, this is the bridge. It's your call." Picard said and took his position.
At the main engineering Kosinski was at the big computer. His assistant was to his right. They will share the duty. Wesley was beside and slightly behind Kosinski's assistant.
"Do this one just like the others. Nothing changes." Kosinski said.
The assistant nodded, then motions for Wesley to step closer for a better view.
"Commander - I will make my preliminary adjustments at warp one-point-five, and complete them as we achieve warp six." he continued.
"Engineering to bridge, did you copy that?" Jack asked.
Back at the main bridge Picard acknowledged.
"Affirmative, Number One. Are you ready?" he said.
"We are." Jack said on com voice.
"La Forge, set in warp one-point-five."
"Warp one-point-five." Geordi said.
In space the ship reached warp speed.
In the engineering Kosinski and his assistant were at the big computer.
"All right, here we go." Kosinski said.
Wesley stepped closer.
Jack slightly back. They expected nothing unusual.
"Passing warp five." Geordi said on com.
The assistant looked over at Wesley to gauge how much he's absorbing. That look distracted him just for a split second, which was all it took. Kosinski turned to the assistant.
"What are you doing... ?" Kosinski asked with a little panic.
The assistant turned back to the computer then hurried to catch up.
As Wesley saw a strange phasing occur to the Alien. Jack and the others were intent on the main screen and will miss this.
Streaks appeared on his hands and face. Like gaps, where there was nothing - emptiness. In these streaks he seemed to disappear - then reappear, phasing in and out.
Wesley was confused and concerned. But before he could say anything, a great explosion of speed happened. The ship shuddered once.
In space the great ship leapt forward with a warp speed effect on top of a warp speed effect.
On the bridge a double image effect now slowly became a single image. Picard was the first to react.
"What is our velocity?" Picard asked.
"It is off the scale, sir..." Data said.
At the main engineering Amidst a flare of blinding light from the engine components, slowly becoming normal.
As Kosinski stepped back stunned by what he thought he's done.
Argyle frozen. They want to jump into action but what?
The assistant too stepped back. He looked suddenly tired, and embarrassed.
Wesley was right now more concerned about his new friend than anything else.
On the main bridge.
"Reverse engines!" Picard said.
"Captain, no one has ever reversed engines at this velocity." Data said.
"That's because no one has ever gone this fast. REVERSE ENGINES!"
In space as the starship slowed from hyper-speed effect to normal velocity.
Back on the main bridge.
"All stop!" Picard said.
Back in space coming to a stop.
On the main bridge there was stunned silence for a minute. These were highly-trained people - no chaos - no running around - no screaming and yelling. Everyone was under very tight, very tense control.
"Position." Picard said.
"Calculating it, sir." Geordi said. "Data, what do you read there?" he asked shaken.
"A malfunction... I trust." Data said reading his own viewer; puzzled
"Position please, Lieutenant La Forge." Picard snapped.
"According to these readings, sir, we have not only left our own galaxy, but have passed through two others, stopping on the far side of Triangulum - the Galaxy known as M-Thirty-Three." Geordi said.
"That's not possible. Data, what is our distance traveled?"
"Two million - seven hundred thousand light years." Data said.
"I can't accept that." Picard said more to himself than anyone else
"You must, sir. Our comparisons show it to be completely accurate."
"And I calculate that at maximum warp, sir..." Geordi said. "... it would take over three hundred years to get home." he said and looked up from viewer.
In space past what looked to be a "normal" sized planet, a huge section of space was dominated by an immense cloud of luminous gas and space dust. As indicated by the size of the planet in f.g., a really big cloud! A star was forming and when complete, and this one will have a mass 100 times greater than our own sun.
"Captain's log, stardate 41263.2. This will be a rather unusual log entry, assuming Starfleet ever receives it. As I have already informed my crew..." Picard said.
In the main bridge Picard was standing at his station. The other regulated except Jack were at their bridge stations, keyed up by what had happened, working at tasks made necessary by this happening.
"... a phenomenal surge of power during a warp speed experiment has sent our starship hurtling out of our own galaxy, past another, taking us over two million, seven-hundred thousand light years in a few minutes." he continued.
"Message on this has been transmitted to Starfleet, sir." Geordi said.
"Which, traveling subspace, they should receive in fifty-one years, ten months..." Data said.
"Mister Data... !" Picard said interrupting; irritated.
The turbolift door snapped open and Jack and Argyle
entered the bridge with Kosinski... who seemed to be actually strutting a bit. Coming well onto the bridge he stopped, gave a little bow.
"Captain Picard, I presume?" Kosinski said and Picard gave the pompous Kosinski a withering look.
"We're still trying to determine what happened, sir." Jack said.
"The truth is, Captain, I made a mistake. A wonderful, incredible mistake."
"Just explain what brought us here!" Picard said hard.
"As the power built, I applied the energy asymptotically. I anticipated some tiling, but it didn't occur. That was my error - using Bessel functions from the beginning."
"What is he saying, Jack?"
"Well... if you want the truth, sir, it sounds to me like nonsense. But considering..." he said embarrassed.
He gestured lamely. Picard looked toward main viewer as emphasizing the strange area of space they're in.
"But considering where we are, we must assume it isn't." Picard said.
Meanwhile Wesley and the assistant were in the main Engineering and the assistant slumped at a seat in a secluded area of Engineering. They're generally unnoticed by Engine Room personnel who were working as keyed up as the crew we saw on the bridge.
"I can call my mother. She's a doctor..." Wesley said.
"No, there's nothing she can do. I need to rest. I've been away too long." the assistant said.
Wesley eyed him.
"Whatever happened to you... was it part of what happened to the ship?" he said.
Almost wildly startled by this, the assistant looked at him now with considerable respect.
"Please believe I mean no harm to this vessel... or those in it..." the assistant said.
"Is Mister Kosinski like he sounds? A joke?" Wesley asked.
"No, that's too cruel. He has sensed some small part of this..."
"... that space and time and thought aren't... well, aren't the separate things they seem to be?" Wesley said slowly.
The assistant was looking at him in such a strange way that he became nervous.
"I... I just thought the formula you were using said something like that..." he continued.
The assistant grabbed his arms hard.
"Boy, don't you ever say that again. At least, not at your age in a world that's not ready for such..." he hissed. "... such dangerous nonsense." he said and considered it.
On the main bridge Picard, Jack and Argyle deeply involved with Kosinski. Other regulars will monitor the conversation as they were able. Kosinski was wallowing in his own self-importance.
"I've always suspected this rate of speed was possible, of course, but, at this level - never. We are going to need new definitions. New parameters." he said.
"Perhaps you could call it the Kosinski scale." Argyle said and glanced at Argyle, let the sarcasm bounce off him, and accepted the suggestion.
"Why not? Since I'm the one who has made the so-called "warp barrier" meaningless." Kosinski said. "And, Captain, this must be a special thrill for you." he said to Picard.
""Thrill?"" Picard said.
"As an explorer. In three centuries of space flight, we have charted just eleven percent of our galaxy. Then..." he said. "... voila, we accomplish this." he gestured broadly.
Picard nodded hesitantly.
"Yes... but isn't the real point, can you do it again? Can you get us home?" he asked.
Kosinski hesitated for just a moment, then firmed up and swelled up too.
"Of course I can. I'll just do what I did before." he said then moved for turbolift; then looked back. "Coming, Crusher?"
Jack looked angry, but Picard cut him off.
"Commander Crusher will join you in a moment." he said.
Kosinski didn't react at all, turning and exiting into the turbolift. The crew watched him go silently - even Data has no comment.
"Comment is invited. Counselor?" Picard said.
"He's convinced he's right - I have no doubt of that." Deanna said.
"Can you allow a man who has made one mistake back into a position where he may make another?" Worf asked.
"What are the options? If he doesn't do it, who will?" Geordi asked but got no response.
"Captain, we are here. Why not avail ourselves of this opportunity for study? There is a giant protostar here in the process of forming. No vessel has been out this far." Data said.
Picard smiled at Data.
"Spoken like a true Starfleet graduate." he said and nodded. "It is tempting, eh Jack?"
"Aye, sir, it is." Jack said and nodded. "As they say, sir... you're the captain."
Picard considered it, then made his decision, sighed.
"Yes, that's the problem. I know that if Kosinski can get us home, Starfleet could use his technique to send back a pure science vessel to do even more." he said. "Jack - have Mister Kosinski prepare to get us out of here." he said turning.
"Aye, sir." Jack said and turned to the turbolift.
Later at the main engineering Kosinski moved toward the computer where his assistant was waiting. Wesley had stepped over next to Jack.
"Do you realize that many great advancements of mankind have been tied to speed? This is a moment in history - right now. Right here. And your names will be linked forever with mine." Kosinski said self satisfied.
The idea didn't appeal to either Jack or Argyle.
"Excuse me, dad. I don't think he did it... I think it was..." Wesley started but was cut off.
"Not now, Wes." Jack said gently.
Wesley again tried to make his point.
"But, when this all happened, I was watching his assistant and..." he started.
"I'm sure it was fascinating, Wesley, and I look forward to hearing about it. But we're a little busy."
Jack felt guilty saying that to him but knew Wesley knew what to expect.
Then Picard called.
"Standing by, Jack." he said on com.
In the Control Room area, Kosinski walked over to his assistant; Wesley moved quickly - protectively - to the assistant's side.
"Come on." Kosinski said.
"He's too tired." Wesley said. "Why don't you do it by yourself?" he asked with a little chalange.
Kosinski was so filled with himself, he didn't recognize the challenge in Wesley's tone.
"Yes, why not?" he said.
His assistant knew the answer to that.
"No, I will help." he said rising.
"As you wish."
Wesley allowed the assistant to lean on him as he got to his feet. The assistant patted the boy's shoulder as he walked to his position. Again, he's tired - worn - but not desperately so. It's going to get worse.
At the bridge Picard was in his position, Deanna was on his left, Tasha was at the Tactical Station, Worf was monitoring the Aft Stations, Geordi had the Conn and Data was at Ops.
"I've laid in a reciprocal course back, Captain." Geordi said.
At the main Engineering Kosinski's arrogance bristles.
"You may tell the captain I am ready, First Officer." he said.
Slightly to the side, the assistant gathered himself for the effort. Wesley was near him with a good thought.
"Ready for you to engage, Captain." Jack said.
On the main bridge Picard gave the order.
"Warp one-point-five." Picard said.
"Warp one-point-five." Geordi said.
At the engineering everyone here was holding one thought - speed! Go!
Kosinski worked the computer panel - but nothing was happening.
The color drained from his face.
"It's not working..." he said his panic rising.
Then Jack stepped closer - and for the first time saw the difference between what Kosinski is doing and what his assistant was now doing.
With great effort, the assistant forced himself to concentrate.
It's clear to Jack now. It's not Kosinski who's special - it's the assistant who was focusing his total attention on the computer. Again he phased - pieces of him seem to disappear - as though leaving this dimension for another. Then, what he's doing happened.
In space it disappeared but this time it was a kind of speed unlike anything ever seen.
On the main bridge everyone reacting as the entire bridge and everyone on it seemed disassembled and reassembled in the wink of an eye.
Back in space multiples on top of multiples of the warp speed effect.
In the Engineering there were quivering double exposures of everything and everyone and the assistant was collapsing in a heap and both Jack and Wesley making their way to his side.
On the bridge viewer was showing an effect. Everyone watched with amazement.
"ALL STOP!" Picard said.
"Answering all stop." Geordi said.
Everyone was staring at the viewscreen while Data checked his instruments.
"Captain, according to the instruments, our speed never exceeded warp one-point-five." he said.
"All stopped, Captain."
"Yes, but where is this place?" Picard asked.
"Where none have gone before." Data said.
In this bizarre pattern of hyper-space.
"Captain's log Stardate 41263.3. Instead of returning to our own galaxy..." Picard said. "... the Enterprise has gone forward to a place in the universe which is uncharted and unknown. Our ship's instruments..."
On the Main bridge.
"... have continued to operate, our motion and course sensors reveal what would ordinarily be considered impossible..." he said and paused, "... but this is very real... our present position puts us at over a billion light years from our galaxy."
Picard rose from his seat.
"Data, you have the helm. I'll be in Engineering." he said and crossed to the turbolift. "Main Engineering." he said toward the controls.
Then the doors closed.
Something caused him to turn from his station and glance to the side. What he saw made him smile Then he stood and moved toward it.
Worf and the other Klingon were happy - in a uniquely Klingon way - to see each other. But the rest of the bridge crew were on their feet, alarmed.
"What is it?" Deanna asked.
"A Klingon Targ!" Data said.
Worf had moved in to embrace the animal.
"From home, my pet..." he said and pulled back; puzzled. "... but when I was a child!"
Tasha was astonished.
"You're telling us that's a kittycat?" she said and Worf nodded then smiled again.
"Yes, I suppose that's what you..." he said.
The animal blinked out of existence.
Then the kitten on her console in front of her meowed.
As the turbolift came to a quick stop Picard was already moving forward as the doors opened onto nothingness. A sheer dropped to the infinite. A vicious wind ripped at him where no wind is possible.
He jammed himself against the back of the turbolift. His mind reeling and the doors automatically closed. Then, almost before he could react, the doors opened again. He braced, stepped gingerly out.
Picard was stepping out into the corridor to find everything normal.
On the bridge all eyes were on Tasha holding the kitten up, speaking to it.
"You darling, what are you doing here?" Tasha said.
Tasha was in a sewer tunnel holding in the same position what was now a very begrimed kitten while she was dressed very differently in tattered cast-off clothing, her face begrimed too, her hair askew. Then she put the kitten down.
"Now, run. This isn't a safe place at all." she said and came erect, alert, as from a distance comes the sound of several echoing footsteps.
Then a hand-held light probes nearby, passed. Tasha started stealthily retreating.
Then she started to hurry, then quickly stopping again, listening. Men's whispers, moving closer. Suddenly, a hand reached out and touched her shoulder.
As she spun, she discovered the hand on her shoulder was Geordi on the bridge. She's in her Starfleet uniform as before.
"What's wrong, Tasha? You look frightened to death." he said.
"I.. I was at..." Tasha said. "This is crazy! I was at the colony where I grew up ... being chased by a rape gang..." she said shaking her head.
Picard walked what appears to be an ordinary ship corridor- except for a crew pair who try to hurry past, looking back over their shoulders, very concerned.
"Captain, we need help..." First crew member said.
"How? What is troubling you?" Picard asked halting the pair.
"Don't you see what's following us?!"
They broke away, hurrying off. Picard whirled, looked in the direction they were pointing.
With the corridor empty in the direction the crewmembers indicated. Picard started striding toward a corridor turn in another direction.
Picard pulled up at the sight of an elderly woman, seated at a small table in his path brewing tea, smiled up at Picard.
"You look tense, Jean-Luc. Sit and have a cup of tea." she said.
Picard was overwhelmed with emotion.
"Maman." Picard said.
Immediately he felt it wasn't an image of his mother -not a figment of his imagination.
"I'll make it good and strong, the way you like it." mother Picard said.
Picard took a step closer, trying to make sense out of this strange reunion in a starship at the end of the universe.
"We will have a nice long talk." she continued.
"Maman... this can't be! You've been..." Picard said.
"Dead? But I'm always with you, you know that."
Picard eyed her, then seemed to be able to accept that.
"Strange, but... yes, I've felt that. But why now...suddenly..." he said.
"Why out here, you mean? At what you see as the end of the universe? Or do you see this as the beginning of it?"
"We... we believed it the outer rim."
"Tres Euclidian." she said amused.
Picard moved in; intent.
"Do you understand these things, Maman?"
Jack was hurrying around the bend in the Corridor, pulling up short.
Picard and his mother was with him bending down to speak to her, intent on what he's heard.
"Maman, can you tell me where my ship is? What is this place?" Picard asked bending down toward empty corridor- his mother missing from Jack's viewpoint.
"Captain, you were reported headed for..." Jack started then Picard whirled around
"Just a moment, Jack!" he snapped and turned immediately back, but now with a stunned expression coming over his face as he too now saw only corridor.
He slowly straightened up, wonderingly.
Then moisture was coming into his eyes now. He's genuinely shaken and Jack, stepping into close two, saw it.
"Can I help you, sir?" he asked.
"No... no, let's help all of us." Picard said then turned to the black Corridor campanile.
He touched it and that portion of the panel flashes on.
"General Quarters, Red Alert!" he said.
The appropriate klaxon blasts and lights came on. Picard then moved in the direction Jack appeared from and followed.
Crewmembers stopped or stopping in the midst of what must have been interesting illusions - or were they alternate realities? A male crew member was caught playing in a string quartet. The players were dressed in period attire. Suddenly, he became aware that he's back in uniform and has no violin. A female crew member in a "tou-tou," pirouettes like a ballerina until she became aware her dance sandals were gone and she stumbled off balance.
Later Picard and Jack entered the main engineering. Beverly was there looking after the assistant. Wesley was beside them, Kosinski was off to the side facing away.
"What is it Captain? Why are we at General Quarters?" Jack asked.
Picard stepped to a Wall Panel.
"I had to get everyone's attention. This was the quickest way." he said and shut off the klaxon. "This is the captain. This is not a drill. It seems that in this place, the physical universe and... and the world of ideas are intermixed. What we think also becomes real. Therefore, we must, repeat MUST begin controlling our thoughts." he said to the ship's company.
They reacted while they listened to the captain.
"We will report all this to you more fully as our understanding increases. The Enterprise will stay at full alert until this crisis is solved." he said on com voice.
At the main engineering Picard clicked off and turned to Kosinski - with fire in his eyes and steel in his voice.
"What did you do?" Picard asked.
Kosinski turned his face from the wall, was diminished - embarrassed.
"It wasn't him. It never was. It was his assistant." Jack said.
"What are you talking about?"
"Kosinski wasn't the one controlling the warp experiment."
"It was me!" Kosinski said.
"The equations he punched in were nonsense, just as we thought." Jack said to Picard.
"I honestly thought it was me. I thought somehow... somehow that I was operating on his level." Kosinski said to Jack almost in tears.
Picard turned his attention to the assistant lying on the table where Beverly attended him with a medical tricorder.
"It's also my fault, Captain. I should have realized it wasn't Kosinski." Argyle said.
"How could you? How could anyone... ?" Picard asked.
"Wesley did." Jack said.
Picard whirled to Wesley.
"If you knew something, why didn't you say so?!" he asked.
Wesley hesitated not wanting to make Jack look bad.
"He tried - twice. But I didn't listen." Jack said. "Sorry son."
Picard nodded understanding how that could happen, and stepped closer to where Beverly tended the assistant.
"He's unconscious. Why?" he asked.
"I'm not certain yet..." Beverly said.
"He phased." Wesley said.
"What does that mean?" Picard asked turning to Wesley.
"Parts of him just disappeared, then came back. No one else was paying attention to him the first time."
"When we saw it this time, he seemed to be struggling... fighting it..." Jack said.
"He's dying." Beverly said looking up.
"Save him! He's the only one who can get us back!" Picard said reacting to her.
"Realistically, it does not seem possible."
As they stood worriedly over the assistant:
In space the unknown part of the universe described.
"Captain's log, supplemental. Our position is unknown and our only chance of returning to the known universe is a dying alien..." Picard said.
At Sickbay the Traveler was on a medical table, Beverly and medical assistant working over him with a medical tricorder and other medical equipment, but getting puzzling readings. Picard, Jack, and Wesley wait anxiously too. Kosinski was staying well in b.g.
"... who is generally humanoid but with a physiology sufficiently different from our own to create medical problems in caring for him." he continued. "Cause?" Picard asked Beverly.
"I don't know. My equipment here does not register his kind of life signs. I would have to guess exhaustion, fatigue." Beverly said.
"Is he going to be all right?" Wesley asked concerned.
"What's the boy doing here?" Picard asked Jack interrupting him.
"Mom... he's my friend."
"You may want him here before we're done sir." Jack said. "He seemed to feel some kind of relationship with Wes." he said indicating Traveler.
Picard turned back to Beverly, indicated the Traveler.
"Will he live?" he asked.
"I'm not sure." Beverly said.
"I recommend we let him come around in his own time."
"We don't have that luxury. Wake him."
"He could die and with him any chance we have." she said with a glance toward Wesley.
"Doctor..." Picard said. "Wes... You and I have other friends aboard this ship, too." he said towards Wesley. "If we remain in this place any longer we may lose the ability to tell the difference between thought and reality. Regardless of the risk, we must wake him... now." he said to Beverly.
In b.g., Wesley recoiled slightly too well schooled to say anything to the Captain, but his concern for the Traveler was evident.
At the medical table Beverly made her attempt with an atomized stimulant.
Picard and Jack and were watching, trying to hide their concern as the Traveler came slowly to consciousness. He looked weak and worn. Picard moved in.
"Do you recognize me? I'm the captain... I need answers." he said.
"Do my best... to provide..." Traveler said.
"Who are you? Or what?"
"I am - a Traveler."
"A traveler? What is your destination?"
"Destination?" he said.
He seemed to be growing a bit stronger.
"Yes, what place are you trying to reach?" Picard asked.
"Place? No, there is no specific place I wish to go."
"Then what is the purpose of this journey?"
"That's not an answer. What is it that you want?"
"I have certain... "abilities." They give me an understanding of- propulsion. I have been trading this for passage on Starfleet vessels."
"Allowing Kosinski to take the credit for what you did." Jack said.
"It seemed the sensible way." Traveler said witha a trace of a smile.
"Until now." Picard said.
"Captain, I seek only transportation in order to see and experience your... your reality. I am not a threat to you, your ship or your crew."
"He isn't, Captain. I know he isn't." Wesley said then Beverly silenced him with a look.
"Our "reality?" And in satisfying yourself, you have put my ship and my crew at great risk." Picard said.
"I have made some mistakes."
"Some mistakes? What kind of "mistake" can cause these incredible explosions of velocity?"
The Traveler hesitated, just as a physicist of today would be given pause if asked to explain nuclear fusion to a caveman.
"... I don't know if I can put it in terms you'll understand." he said.
"I believe that there may be a warp speed that could have gotten us to Galaxy M-Thirty-Three... but there is no "velocity" of any magnitude which could bring us to wherever this is. Can you tell us if our navigation sensors are right? Is this millions of light years from where we were?"
"What got us here?"
The Traveler hesitated. Kosinski moved in closer. He didn't want to miss a word, there might be a way for him to salvage something out of this after all.
"Thought." he said.
"You do understand don't you that thought is the basis of all reality? The... "energy" of thought, to put it in your terms, is very powerful."
"That's not an explanation." Kosinski said.
"I have the ability to act like a lens which focuses thought."
"That's just so much nonsense. You're asking us to believe in magic."
As tired as he was, the Traveler could still find a chuckle.
"Yes - this could seem like magic to you." he said.
"No, it actually makes some sense to me. Only the power of thought could explain what's been happening. Especially out here." Picard said.
"Thought is the essence of where you are now. You do understand the danger?"
Chaos. What we think is what happens." he said.
"It pains me I was so careless, Captain." Traveler said and sighed with regret. "My intent was only to observe, not to cause this. You should not be here until your far, far distant future. Certainly not until you have learned control."
"You are from a different time, aren't you?" Jack asked.
"Well - no - not exactly from another "time." Although as you understand the concept... yes, perhaps that term fits as well as any."
"And you have this ability to... ah... "travel.""
"And others of your kind can also "travel?""
"Then, why - in all of our history - has there never been a record of you or someone like you having visited us?"
"Traveler laughed. What wonderful arrogance. There is no record because we have not visited you before." he said.
"Ah. Well, up until now ... if you'll forgive this... when compared to many others in the universe, you have been... uninteresting. It's only now that your life form begins to merit serious attention. I'm... sorry..." Traveler said and fell back into a kind of sleep.
"No, no - none of that." Picard said.
Beverly began hurriedly checking him over.
"He's unconscious again." she said.
Beverly hesitated, saw Picard's determination, gave the Traveler another hypo injection. He began to stir back into consciousness. Beverly gave Picard a concerned look.
"Whatever you need from him, you better get it soon." she said.
"I suggest, sir, that the first jump out of our galaxy was as he said, a "mistake"..." Jack said.
"Or he was distracted by something." Picard said.
"But it weakened him in some way, leading to the incredible jump out here." he said.
"Theory!" Kosinski said.
"Can you propose some facts that fit this?" Picard asked Kosinski.
Kosinski obviously couldn't. During this the Traveler was back to consciousness, gathering some strength again. Picard turned to him.
"Can you get us back?" he asked with a hard edge.
"Wait, Captain. Not so fast. We have an opportunity for scientific discovery here..." Kosinski said.
"And report our observations how? To whom?" Picard asked. "Can you get us back?!" he asked the Traveler.
"I will try." Traveler said.
"Number One, you'll take the Traveler to Main Engineering; I'll be on the bridge..."
"He is very weak." Wesley said.
"The Captain is right. We don't have much time." Traveler said. "But first, I request a moment with the captain. Alone!" he said to them all.
Picard reflected, then nodded to all the others. They left him alone with the Traveler. Wesley looked from the captain to his new friend, turned and walked out too.
Picard had watched Wesley leave.
"Strange how he seems to care for you." he said and the Traveler nodded touched.
"He will forget me in time. Which is as it should be." he said the eyed him. "It is Wesley I wanted to speak to you about."
"The boy?" Picard said and Traveler nodded.
"It's best you do not repeat this to the others... especially not to the mother. Whatever may happen, it is best it proceeds naturally."
"I must get my ship back; do we have time for this?" Picard said hurriedly.
"Yes. He and a few like him are why I travel." Traveler said. "You have it in your power to encourage him without interfering..." he said now sitting upright intently.
"Encourage him in what?"
"How shall I explain? Are you acquainted with the intricacies of what is called here... music?"
"And musical genius such as I saw in one of your ship's libraries. One called Mozart, for example?" Traveler said at Picard's nod. "Who as a small child wrote astonishing symphonies as you call them... whose genius made music a tangible reality to be not only heard, but also seen and felt beyond the ability, the understanding, of others?" he said and started coming to his feet, Picard supporting him. Your Wesley is such a person. Not with music but with the equally lovely intricacies of time, energy, propulsion..." he said. "... and the instruments of this vessel which allow all that to be played." he gestured.
Then he started moving weakly toward the hatch leading to the corridor.
"You are right, I must hurry now..." he said paused at the door. "You are right in something else. He is also just a boy for now. He should be encouraged... but told none of this."
As Picard and Traveler entered the corridor from Sickbay, Jack hurried over and Picard indicated the Traveler.
"Help him to Engineering. I'll be on the bridge. We must try to get back home." Picard said.
"Yes, sir." Jack said and helped support the Traveler, moving off.
Later as Picard panned along the corridor he came upon a crew member standing before a wall of flame. He froze with fear. Picard grabbed the him by the shoulder.
"Put it out." he said.
"How?" a crewmember asked.
"Think! Put the flame out in your thoughts."
The crew member looked confused for a minute, then as he turned back to the fire, it's doused.
"Now. Get to your station and concentrate on your assignment." Picard said and stride toward the turbolift.
"Captain's log, any time entry is meaningless. We have no choice but to repeat the same warp experiment..." Picard said.
Jack, Argyle and Kosinski were in the main engineering as Traveler moved to the computer. Wesley hurried in, stopped with a questioning expression. The Traveler nodded to Jack who gestured him to come in to one side.
"... but wish one variation. A principal part of this warp formula will be the thoughts of everyone aboard the Enterprise. We have no idea exactly how this works..." Picard continued.
On the bridge the balance of our regulars at their positions.
"... we understand only that the Traveler makes use of this somehow. It will be most important that those aboard avoid random thoughts that might change the reality of what we're attempting to do." he said.
Picard turned to Deanna.
"Any further advice, Counselor?" he asked.
"When you begin the attempt, there will be stress... And it's only natural that the crew's concentration will shift." Deanna said.
"Plus some genuine fear, Captain. You can't notice what's outside without feeling some of that." Tasha said.
Picard nodded, reached to touch a control. His voice became amplified.
"ALL DECKS, THIS IS THE CAPTAIN SPEAKING. ALL DECKS..." he said.
A Crewmember was on a unicycle, making a slow turn bringing his face into camera - and the back into full figure shot with the unicycle gone and the man stopping, looking for the unicycle, half-puzzled and half aware of Picard's words. Plus interposing scenes of people simply listening.
"... I MUST HAVE YOUR FULL ATTENTION. IN A FEW MOMENTS AS WE ATTEMPT TO WARP BACK HOME, IT IS VITAL... ABSOLUTELY VITAL, THAT YOU CENTER YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR DUTY... OR UPON THE WELFARE OF THE ONE CALLED 'THE TRAVELER.' THINK OF GIVING HIM SOME... " Picard said amplified.
At main engineering Jack and the others listened.
"... OF YOUR STRENGTH. URGENT. THIS IS AN ORDER. YOU MUST TRY TO DO THIS."
"YOU WILL ATTEMPT NOW TO CONCENTRATE COMPLETELY ON EITHER YOUR DUTY OF THE MOMENT... OR UPON THE TRAVELER... ON HIS WELL BEING."
At the main engineering the Traveler smiled as he sat at the same secondary computer panel.
"THINK OF HIM AS SOMEONE YOU CARE DEEPLY ABOUT." Picard said amplified.
At the bridge Picard turned to Deanna.
"And now to focus their thoughts on that..." he said and reached over to his panel. "... ALL DECKS, ALL STATIONS, GO TO BATTLE STATIONS." he continued.
The Bridge klaxon sounds five times and the emergency red lights began blinking.
On the main bride red lights were blinking. Traveler turns:
"I will need Kosinski back on the main computer." Traveler said.
Then Kosinski appeared.
"You need me?" Kosinski said tentative.
It's probably not true, but Kosinski didn't care. The gesture filled part of the gaping hole in his ego. Jack examined the Traveler.
"You're looking better." he said and the Traveler nodded.
"I'm feeling better." he said.
On the bridge Picard got it started.
"Helm, set in warp one point five, retroactive course." he said.
"Warp one point five, sir. Retroactive two-six-one mark three-one." Geordi said.
"Bridge to Engineering...Standby." Picard said into com.
"There is such an abundance of well-being on this ship. It feels like..." Deanna said smiling. "... quite wonderful."
"Engineering to bridge, we're ready." Jack said on com.
"On my order, Mister Data... Mister La Forge..." Picard said.
On the engineering the Traveler was on the computer.
Jack and the engineering personnel were watch intently.
On the bridge everyone was tense.
"Engage!" Picard said.
In space there was an explosion of speed
On the bridge with Picard and the Bridge crew.
It's not happening... not enough..." Picard said.
On the engineering the Traveler and Kosinski increased their tempo. Then the phasing occurred.
The phasing stopped; the Traveler looked concerned at this. Wesley moved closer, touched him anxiously on the shoulder - and then a major phasing occurred. Traveler smiled at Wesley, but shook his head at the hand on his shoulder. Wesley withdrew it, continued watching. Then the Traveler phased - almost out this time, then back.
In space it happened.
In the engineering the Traveler was phasing so completely his image was almost gone. Wesley reacted, concerned. Then the Traveler disappeared.
Wesley was shaken, somehow, he realized the Traveler was gone this time for good.
In space the Enterprise was coming out of a mixed warp speed effect to travel normal warp.
Everyone was looking very relieved on the bridge established. The red alert lights go out.
"Warp one-point-five, sir..." Data said and turned. "... which is what my instruments have read all along."
"Our position reads exactly what it was before this sleigh-ride began, sir." Geordi said.
"Sleigh-ride?" Data said and Picard waved him off.
"Or whatever you want to call it, Data. I don't have a name for it."
The turbolift door opened and Jack entered the bridge, moving to his position.
"The Traveler's gone, sir." he said.
"Gone?" Picard said and Jack nodded.
"He phased completely out of existence... at least out of our existence."
Picard took a moment to consider this.
"Attention all decks. This is to inform you that the Traveler has left us. With your support, he has returned us to our galaxy. Wherever he has gone, we wish him well." he said. "Have the boy come up on the bridge, Jack." he said to Jack.
Jack started to either object or comment on this. Then he decided instead to obey the order.
"Wesley Crusher, report to the Bridge." he said speaking towards his companel then looked at Picard. "On the double." he said.
There was a flicker of a smile from Picard... almost.
"Our next assignment is on this heading?" he said.
"Mister Data, Mister La Forge... Increase to warp five. Same heading."
"Warp five, sir." Data said.
"Same heading, sir." Geordi said.
Then the turbolift doors snapped open. It was Wesley, looking a bit warily toward Picard.
"Come onto the bridge, Wesley." Picard said. "Move!" he said as Wesley hesitated.
Wesley hurried onto the bridge and approached him. All the Bridge Crew watched with interest.
"Your father told me how supportive you were in
Engineering. Well done." Picard said and Wesley stiffened with pride. "At ease - sit here in Command." he said indicating the bench beside Deanna.
"Captain - that's not allowed. Your orders." Jack said.
"Oh, that's true. I can't waive
them again." Picard said. "Only commissioned officers." he said to Wesley.
"It's quite all right, sir, I understand." Wesley said.
"Please don't interrupt me, Wesley." Picard said interrupting him.
"Sorry, sir..." Wesley said very nervous again.
Picard looked first from Jack then to Wesley and back to Jack knowing that he was orchestrating this a little.
"Any commission rank?" he asked and paused. "Even an ensign?"
"Then he would have authorized access to the bridge." Jack said.
"Well, then, I'll have to make him an Acting Ensign." Picard said and touched a switch. "Captain's log Stardate 41263.4. For outstanding performance in the best of Starfleet tradition - Wesley Crusher is made acting ensign. With all the duties and privileges of that rank." he said and clicked off. "And Mister Crusher, whether the rank becomes permanent is up to you." he said. "At the first opportunity your entrance application will be tendered to Starfleet Academy. Until then you will learn this ship. Every operation - every function. Jack - a duty schedule for him. Heavy on study." he said to Wesley.
"Aye, sir." he said smiling a little.
"Meanwhile, you can sit and learn something here."
Wesley stepped over and took his seat. His eyes were shining as he looked around the bridge belonging for the first time in his life.
Jack glanced over at Wesley, then to Picard.
"Sir, shall I send for Doctor Crusher?"
"Why? Is someone ill?" he asked then quietly looked at Wesley. "Or do you want to go tell her about this?"
Wesley was tempted.
"If you don't mind, sir, I'd like to sit here awhile. I'll tell her later." he said.