Force of Nature
Stardate: 47310.2
Original Airdate: 15 Nov, 1993

[La Forge's quarters]

(Data enters and sees a smashed flower vase on a table, then hears a cat's snarl)
DATA: Geordi?
LAFORGE: In here, Data.
(the bedroom)
LAFORGE: Got her now. She's trapped. Come on out of there, you. Hey, don't you spit at me.
DATA: Why is Spot under the bed?
LAFORGE: Probably because she knows if I catch her, I'm going to kill her.
DATA: Has Spot been misbehaving?
LAFORGE: So far she's broken a vase, a teapot, she's ruined one of my chairs using it as a scratch post, and she's coughing hairballs up all over my carpet.
DATA: These incidents are common to cat owners. When you borrowed Spot, you said you wanted to experience the full range of feline behaviour before getting a cat yourself.
LAFORGE: Yeah, well, I'm not ready. You can take her back with my blessings. Go ahead, call her.
DATA: Spot does not respond to verbal commands.
LAFORGE: She won't come when you call her? Data, have you ever considered training this cat?
DATA: I never found it to be necessary.
LAFORGE: Necessary? Data, the cat is out of control. Half the time I wasn't sure if she was going to lick me or scratch my face off.
DATA: I have never experienced this kind of behaviour in Spot. Although she does have the unfortunate habit of jumping on my computer console when I am working.
LAFORGE: She needs training.
RIKER [OC]: Riker to senior staff. Please report to the Observation lounge. Mission briefing in ten minutes.
LAFORGE: Right, we have to get her out of here. I'll scare her. You grab her when she comes out, okay?
DATA: I do not think it would be wise to startle her.
LAFORGE: Ready? Ow!
(Spot runs out and there's a crash sound)
LAFORGE: Training. Definitely.

Captain's log, Stardate 47310.2. We're investigating the disappearance of the Medical Transport Fleming somewhere in the Hekaras Corridor. Our search is complicated by the unique properties of this particular region of space.

[Observation lounge]

RIKER: The Fleming's last contact with Starfleet was four days ago. According to them, there was nothing out of the ordinary when they entered the Corridor.
PICARD: Data.
(Data explains the wall monitor display)
DATA: The unusually intense tetryon fields in this sector pose a severe navigational hazard to warp driven vessels. The Hekaras Corridor is the only route through the area which is free of tetryon fields. Ships travelling at warp must use the Corridor to ensure safe passage through the region.
PICARD: How long will it take to complete a level one search?
DATA: At least two days, sir. The Corridor is over twelve light years long, and the surrounding tetryon interference will limit our sensor range.
WORF: Could we send out reconnaissance probes to supplement the sensors?
LAFORGE: They won't be very effective. The interference will make it difficult to maintain contact with the probes. The best we can do is to increase sensor efficiency. We've installed multiphase buffers on all the sensor modules, Captain. It should help a little.
TROI: Hekaras Two is inhabited, isn't it? Maybe they've had contact with the Fleming.
RIKER: They haven't. I've already spoken to the Hekaran government. According to them, only one ship has passed through the system in the last week. It was a Ferengi trader.
CRUSHER: The Fleming was carrying a supply of rare biomimetic gel, which is very valuable. Is it possible that the Ferengi might have hijacked it?
RIKER: I wouldn't put it past them. I think we should prepare for that contingency.
PICARD: I agreed. All right then. Mister Worf, initiate your search pattern. Let's head in.

[Engineering]

(La Forge is doing something with a device to the dilithium crystals)
DATA: Geordi, there has been a slight drop in sensor efficiency. Perhaps we should examine the phase buffers.
LAFORGE: No problem, Data. I'll be right with you. Okay, Hansen, transfer EPS conduit thirteen to the stabiliser matrix.
HANSEN: Aye, sir.
DATA: Is there a problem with the engines?
LAFORGE: No.
DATA: Then why are you stabilizing the EPS conduit?
LAFORGE: I'm just trying to get a slightly higher power conversion level.
DATA: But that would not affect the engines in any way.
LAFORGE: I know that, Data. It's not the point.
DATA: What is the point?
LAFORGE: I'm just trying to get a higher conversion level, that's all.
DATA: Why?
LAFORGE: You know the Intrepid?
DATA: Yes.
LAFORGE: Well, their Chief Engineer is Commander Donald Kaplan. He and I went through the Academy together. I just like to make sure that our power conversion levels are a little higher than theirs.
DATA: I understand. You are in competition with Mister Kaplan.
LAFORGE: You might say that. This is the flagship. We should be better than everybody else.
DATA: Then you are trying to outperform the Intrepid.
LAFORGE: Actually it's more a point of personal pride. These are my engines. And there's nothing wrong with a little friendly rivalry. Okay. Computer, how much have the conversion levels increased?
COMPUTER: Levels are unchanged.
LAFORGE: All right, I'll deal with of this later. Let me give you a hand with those sensors.

[Jefferies tube]

(at a panel in a junction)
LAFORGE: How's that?
DATA: One moment. The phase buffer is functioning within normal parameters. Sensor efficiency has increased by six point seven percent.
LAFORGE: Six point seven? One of the stages must still be out of alignment. Let's try junction A nine.
(they climb down one level)
DATA: Geordi, I have taken your suggestion regarding Spot.
LAFORGE: Coming down.
DATA: I have begun training her.
LAFORGE: Really?
DATA: Yes. I am studying several new techniques.
(crawling along)
DATA: I began with simple conditioned response exercises and followed with environmental enhancement. Next I plan to explore bioconditioning devices.
LAFORGE: Devices?
DATA: Such as sensor nets for behaviour modification or biofeedback motivators. Unfortunately, I have been less than successful.
LAFORGE: I've got an idea. How about a phaser? A low stun setting at just the right moment might do the trick.
DATA: Geordi. I cannot stun my cat.
LAFORGE: I was kidding, Data. (at a panel) Let's see what we've got. No, this isn't it, either.
DATA: Clearly there is a misalignment somewhere in this system.
LAFORGE: That's for sure. Well, we've got one more possibility. Junction C twelve.
DATA: I am somewhat concerned that my training efforts will ultimately fail.
LAFORGE: Maybe you're just going about it the wrong way, Data.
DATA: I have consulted numerous animal training manuals. Some of them claim that cats are inherently untrainable.
LAFORGE: I don't believe that for a second. Listen to me. My sister didn't know a thing about animals and she was able to train her cat. How complicated could it be?
DATA: What did she train her cat to do?
LAFORGE: She had that cat jumping into her arms on command.
DATA: Interesting. Perhaps I could modify your sister's techniques to keep Spot from jumping on console. Do you know how she was able to train her cat?
LAFORGE: Well, as I recall, she walked around for two months with a piece of tuna in her blouse.
(at the next junction)
LAFORGE: I was right. This buffer is out of alignment. Okay, try that.
DATA: Phase alignment is stabilised. However, sensor efficiency has increased by only an additional one point three percent.
LAFORGE: It's not much, but every little bit going to help.
RIKER [OC]: Riker to Data.
DATA: Data here.
RIKER [OC]: We're picking up a ship ahead on long range sensors. If you and Geordi are through down there, we'd like to have you on the Bridge.
LAFORGE: We're not going to squeeze anything else out of these systems.
DATA: Acknowledged, sir. We are on our way.

[Bridge]

WORF: We are within visual range, sir.
PICARD: On screen.
WORF: It is a Ferengi transport ship, D'Kora class.
RIKER: That's the same Ferengi vessel that entered the Corridor a week ago.
LAFORGE: Captain, there are no emissions from their plasma vents. Their warp drive must be completely inactive.
DATA: That is correct, sir. Their impulse system is down as well, Power generation is at extremely low levels.
PICARD: What about life signs?
DATA: Life support systems are also functioning at low levels. There are approximately four hundred fifty Ferengi on board. That is a standard complement for a ship of that class.
PICARD: Mister Worf, open a hailing frequency.
WORF: There is no response on any channel, sir.
LAFORGE: I'm not picking any subspace emissions from the ship at all, Captain. It looks like every one of their field coils has been overloaded.
RIKER: That would explain why they haven't respond to our hails.
DATA: It would also explain the failure of their warp drive.
LAFORGE: Captain, Ferengi sensors are still online. I could modify one of our deflector emitters to transmit old style delta waves. If I modulate that with a comm. signal, the Ferengi should be able to pick that up.
PICARD: Make it so.
RIKER: If they did hijack the Fleming, they sure didn't get very far with the cargo.
PICARD: Mister Worf, have tractor beams standing by. We may have to take them under tow. Helm, take us within tractor range.
HELM: (female) Aye, sir.
WORF: Captain, I am picking up power emissions from the Ferengi ship. They are locking weapons.
PICARD: Shields up.
(the Enterprise gets hit)
RIKER: Ready phasers. Prepare to return fire.
PICARD: Target their weapons array only.
WORF: Phasers locked.
PICARD: Fire.
DATA: Direct hit. Their weapon systems are down.
PICARD: Damage report.
WORF: We sustained minimal damage to decks five and seven, sir.
DATA: Sir, the Ferengi ship's power has stabilised. They appear to have impulse capability.
RIKER: They were just playing dead. Conserving power until we got in close enough.
PICARD: But why would they attack us in the first place?
RIKER: Somehow I don't think they'll let us beam over there and ask them.
PICARD: Mister La Forge, how are you coming with that comm. link?
LAFORGE: Almost ready, Captain. All right, let's give it a try.
PICARD: Open a channel.
(a fuzzy viewscreen image that La Forge cleans up)
PICARD: This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise. Will you please explain why you attacked us?
PRAK [on viewscreen]: Our attack? We were defending ourselves. Do you deny that you are responsible for disabling my vessel?
PICARD: DaiMon, your ship was adrift, your communications inoperative. We were attempting to assess your status.
PRAK [on viewscreen]: You were attempting to move in for the kill. Do not toy with me, Picard. We are obviously at your mercy, but know this. When the Ferengi Council learns of your actions, they will consider this an act of war.
PICARD: DaiMon, clearly there has been some misunderstanding. I think it would be in all interests if you were to come aboard and we discuss this situation.
PRAK [on viewscreen]: I see no reason to trust you, human.
PICARD: In that case, we'll be on our way. I'll relay your position to your government if you wish, in case you're unable to complete your repairs and you remain stranded.
PRAK [on viewscreen]: Perhaps it would be better to discuss the situation.

[Ready room]

PRAK: We detected what appeared to be a Federation signal buoy. When we approached it, it emitted a massive verteron pulse. Our warp drive, our sensors, our communications systems were all disabled. We assumed we were the victims of a new Federation weapon.
PICARD: The Federation established this corridor to ensure safe access through this sector. We have nothing to gain from mining it.
RIKER: Whatever happened to your ship may not have been an isolated incident. A Federation Medical transport was recently lost in that corridor.
PRAK: We passed a Federation ship several days ago. It did not appear to be in any distress.
RIKER: Can you give us an idea of its heading?
PRAK: It is possible that information was recorded in our sensor logs, Commander. Unfortunately, my entire crew is occupied with our repairs. I don't think there will be time to search our records.
PICARD: DaiMon, if we assigned an Engineering team to assist you with your repair efforts, would that give you time to retrieve your logs?
PRAK: I believe it would, Captain.

[Data's quarters]

(Spot is sitting on the computer console)
DATA: Spot. Spot. Spot, down. Spot, down. Down. Spot. (lifting the cat off the desk) Down. This is down. Down is good. This is up. Up is no.
(doorbell)
DATA: (to Spot) One moment. Come in.
LAFORGE: Data. I had another idea that might help boost the power conversion levels. Could you give me a hand?
DATA: I would be happy to.
LAFORGE: Don't tell me you're trying to teach the cat to use the console.
DATA: It is part of her training programme. I am teaching Spot to jump down from the desk on my command.
LAFORGE: How's it going?
DATA: I have not been entirely successful.
(Spot meows, and Data goes to the replicator)
DATA: Feline supplement number two twenty one.
LAFORGE: Data, that cat definitely has a mind of her own. Maybe she's just not trainable.
DATA: I suppose I must accept that possibility. It may be that Spot lacks the intelligence necessary to learn the appropriate responses to my commands.
(Spot meows again and Data fetches her a toy)
LAFORGE: I don't know about Spot, but it seems to me your training is coming along just fine. Come on, let's go.

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: Data, keep the EPS flow constant will you, while I re modulate the power taps.
DATA: This procedure will only increase the conversion level by point eight percent.
LAFORGE: I know, but it could be just enough.
DATA: Enough?
LAFORGE: I just received this from Commander Kaplan, subspace.
(Data reads from a PADD)
DATA: La Forge, I got the Intrepid's power conversion levels up to ninety seven point one percent. Maybe you should try cleaning your plasma grid once in a while.
LAFORGE: Can you believe the nerve of that guy?
DATA: We perform maintenance on the plasma grid at regular intervals.
LAFORGE: I know. He's just trying to get me angry. There. That should do it. Computer, what are the current power conversion levels?
COMPUTER: Power conversion levels are at ninety seven point two percent.
LAFORGE: Too bad, Mister Kaplan.

Captain's log, supplemental. We have traced the Fleming's most likely course. It now appears that the vessel may have come to an unfortunate end.

[Bridge]

(at the science station, grid search pattern H522-3)
PICARD: What's the origin of this debris field?
DATA: Unknown, sir. It does not appear in any Federation charts of the Corridor.
PICARD: Could it be what's left of the Fleming?
DATA: It is a possibility. The debris consists primarily of duranium and polycomposite fragments which suggest a ship. Furthermore, the field contains sufficient mass to account for the Fleming.
PICARD: All right, let's take a closer look. Perhaps we can find something that will give us a more positive identification. Helm, take us through the debris field, ahead slow.
DATA: Captain, I am picking up a small metallic object, approximately three point five metres in diameter.
RIKER: Could be a ship's log recorder, or a probe casing.
DATA: I do not believe so. It is emitting an unusual signal. Captain, it is beginning to generate a verteron field.
PICARD: Shields up! Full reverse. Now!
(a sound, then the lights dim)
PICARD: Damage report.
WORF: Warp engines are offline. Shields are down. All subspace systems are inoperative.
RIKER: Just like the Ferengi ship.
DATA: Unidentified ship heading toward us. Two life forms are aboard.
PICARD: On screen.
DATA: Captain, they are initiating their transporter system.
PICARD: Can we get more power to the shields?
WORF: No, sir.
RIKER: All decks, security alert.
DATA: Captain, we are being boarded.
LAFORGE [OC]: La Forge to Bridge.

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: We have intruders in main Engineering. I need a security team down here immediately.
WORF [OC]: It's on its way.
LAFORGE: What do you want?
RABAL: (male) We're trying to make you listen.
SEROVA: (female) You're killing us.

[Observation lounge]

PICARD: You have made a very serious accusation. I want you to explain it.
RABAL: Captain, according to our research, warp fields cause a dangerous reaction in this region of space.
SEROVA: Our planet is already being affected. We have measured large gravitational shifts throughout our system.
RABAL: If something isn't done, our planet will become uninhabitable.
LAFORGE: Captain, I've heard this theory before. Their research was evaluated by the Federation Science Council a few years ago. Quite frankly, it didn't hold up.
SEROVA: That research was only preliminary. Our original analysis was incomplete.
PICARD: If you wanted us to review your research, you should have made a request through the Science Council.
RABAL: Their resources are limited. It would have taken over a year before they dispatched a science ship to come and evaluate our work.
SEROVA: We were not willing to wait any longer. We knew that if we disabled enough ships, Starfleet would come. Then at least we would be able to present our case.
RIKER: That's how you rationalise these attacks?
SEROVA: Neither you nor the Ferengi suffered any casualties, Commander. The actual damage to your vessels was negligible.
RABAL: We dispersed verteron probes in the Corridor merely to disable warp-driven ships. Nothing more.
RIKER: You can call it whatever you like. The fact remains you deliberately disguised your probes. You made them look like signal markers. You hid them in debris field. You mined the Corridor.
PICARD: Mister La Forge, how long do you estimate it will take to restore the engines?
LAFORGE: Their verteron pulse overloaded our field coils, Captain. It'll take at least thirty six hours to get underway.
SEROVA: I know precisely how our pulse affected your field coils. With my help, your ship could be operational in ten hours. Provided you agree to review our research.
PICARD: Because of the seriousness of your claim, I'm willing to listen to your case. But let there be no mistake. Our priority here is the recovery of the Fleming. Now I expect you to help us restore our engines and deactivate all of the remaining probes in the Corridor. If you do not, you will both be taken to the brig and from there to the nearest Starbase, where you will answer charges for what you have done.
RABAL: My sister and I do not wish to impede your rescue process.
SEROVA: Rabal, don't. The probes are the only leverage we have. If we
RABAL: Serova. We will do as you ask, Captain. But please, re-examine our data.
PICARD: We will. It is part of our job to retain an open mind, even under these circumstances. Mister La Forge, take them to Engineering. Get the core back online.
LAFORGE: Yes, sir.
PICARD: Mister Data, I want you to review their research. I'd like your report as soon as possible.

[Engineering]

SEROVA: There. Shields have been restored. You will be able to reengage your engines in approximately eight hours.
LAFORGE: You know, even when we get the engines online, it's going to take at least a week to recalibrate them properly.
SEROVA: I'm sorry you've been inconvenienced. But that's all it is, an inconvenience. Our concerns are much more important than the condition of your engines.
LAFORGE: What if the Fleming had been transporting perishable supplies or was on an emergency mission? Your little plan might have cost a lot of lives.
SEROVA: That didn't happen, Commander. And saving lives is precisely what we're trying to do.
LAFORGE: Yeah, well, you have a very interesting way of going about it.
SEROVA: There's no point in trying to talk to you. You've already decided not to listen.
(Serova leaves)
RABAL: Commander, I know my sister can be somewhat, er, aggravating.
LAFORGE: I'd have to agree with that.
RABAL: But please, try to understand. She believes profoundly in this cause. She has sworn to dedicate her life to exposing the dangers of warp drive.
LAFORGE: Warp drive has been around for three centuries. It's a proven technology.
RABAL: And you sound just like I did, about four years ago.
LAFORGE: You mean you didn't believe her either?
RABAL: No. What I didn't realise was just how brilliant my sister is. It took two years of study for me even to grasp the principles behind her theoretical models. They're that sophisticated.
LAFORGE: Well our Commander Data's no slouch. If there's anything there, he'll find it.
RABAL: Well I hope so, because once we persuade Starfleet to stop warp travel through the Corridor, we're going to have to convince our own people to give up warp drive completely.
LAFORGE: Hekaras Two is the only inhabited world in this region. Without warp drive, you'd be completely isolated from the rest of the Federation. Are you really willing to take that step?
RABAL: Yes. And if you were in my position, I hope you'd be willing to do the same thing.

[Stellar Cartography]

DATA: Serova and Rabal believe there are regions of potential subspace instability within the Corridor. They believe that if these regions continue to be exposed to warp field energy, they will rupture. Subspace will extrude into normal space, forming a rift.
PICARD: It's like pacing up and down on the same piece of carpet. Eventually you wear it out.
DATA: That analogy is essentially correct, sir.
PICARD: Can this theory be proven?
DATA: Not at this time, sir. There is insufficient evidence to do so. In order to determine whether or not a rift will form, region must be exposed to warp field energy approximately one million times greater than that normally generated by a starship.
RABAL: Commander, we believe the warp field effect is cumulative. Each starship that passes through the Corridor at warp brings us one step closer to forming a rift.
DATA: I agree that is a possibility. Captain, I suggest we ask the Federation Science Council to send a research vessel to this area. A more detailed investigation would resolve many of our questions.
SEROVA: That's your response? More research? More delays. I suppose I shouldn't have expected anything different.
RIKER [OC]: Bridge to Captain Picard.
PICARD: Go ahead, Number One.
RIKER [OC]: We've located the

[Bridge]

RIKER: Fleming on long range sensors, approximately zero point three light years away.
PICARD [OC]: What's their condition?
RIKER: The vessel appears to be intact. They have shields, but it looks like their subspace systems are out.
PICARD [OC]: Very well.

[Stellar Cartography]

PICARD: We'll be underway as soon as our engines are online.
RIKER [OC]: Aye, sir.
PICARD: I would like you all to put together a research proposal for the Science Council. I'll give it my full recommendation.
RABAL: Captain, I appreciate the opportunity you're giving us. It's a beginning that we need
SEROVA: Not we. You can do whatever you want, Rabal. I'll have no part of this. It's just another delay.

[Bridge]

LAFORGE: Captain, the engines are back online. All systems are ready.
PICARD: Very good. Helm, lay in a course for the Fleming.
HELM: Aye, sir.
RIKER: They appear to be in pretty good condition. According to our sensors their shields back to full strength.
WORF: Captain, the Hekaran ship is moving off. There is one person on board. It is Serova.
PICARD: Doctor, what is going on?
RABAL: I don't know. Captain, may I speak to her?
PICARD: Mister Worf, open a channel.
RABAL: Serova, what are you trying to do?
SEROVA [on viewscreen]: They wanted proof. I'm going to give it to them. I'm sorry.
DATA: Captain, the Hekaran ship's engines are beginning to overload. I believe Serova's attempting to create a warp core breach.
RABAL: No!
RIKER: Prepare for impact.
(KaBOOM! and a purple afterglow)
RIKER: Shields at maximum. Full reverse.
PICARD: Report!
DATA: We have cleared the shock wave. However, tetryon flux in the area is increasing rapidly.
(there's a swirly thing in the middle of the purple)
RIKER: It's incredible.
PICARD: Mister Data, what's your analysis?
DATA: The event is approximately zero point one light years in diameter, and it is emitting extremely high levels of tetryon radiation. It appears to be what Rabal and Serova predicted, a subspace rift.
LAFORGE: She was right.
PICARD: Can you get a fix on the Fleming? Is she still in one piece?
DATA: Scanning. The Fleming is near its previous coordinates. It appears to be intact, but it is now within the rift.
PICARD: Doctor, is it possible for a ship to survive in there? Doctor. I'm sorry about your loss but we need your help now.
RABAL: Of course, Captain.
PICARD: Does the rift pose any danger to the Fleming?
RABAL: I don't know.
(Enterprise shakes)
RIKER: What was that?
LAFORGE: Some kind of high energy distortion wave. Looks like they're being generated from within the rift.
DATA: IF we maintain our current position, our shields should provide sufficient protection.
PICARD: What about the Fleming? How long can they survive in there?
DATA: The waves are even more intense within the rift. I estimate her shields will fail in approximately twelve hours.
RIKER: Can we risk going in there to get them out?
LAFORGE: Not at warp, Commander. According to these readings, the rift is in a state of accelerating instability which would make it extremely sensitive to warp field energy. If we go in at warp, we might make it expand even further.
RIKER: I don't think we have a choice. It would take weeks to reach them at impulse.
PICARD: I want some better options. Data, Geordi, take Doctor Rabal and begin an analysis of the rift. We need to find some way to get the Fleming out of there.

Second Officer's log, stardate 47312.1. Our new sensor readings have greatly improved our understanding of the rift. However, we have been unable to find any way to counteract it.

[Stellar Cartography]

LAFORGE: Everything here supports Serova's theories. I can't find any way to close the rift or even reduce its size.
(rumble and shake)
DATA: Doctor, is it possible there are areas inside the rift which are stable, where we can safely use our warp engines?
RABAL: Perhaps. Computer, scan the rift for regions of low instability.
(off the monitor display)
RABAL: There's no area stable enough to withstand a warp pulse.
LAFORGE: Wait a minute. This is strange. Computer, display grid delta seventeen. Enhance and magnify. What do you make of that?
RABAL: It's a subspace instability outside the rift.
DATA: That should not be possible.
RABAL: Commander, I'm going to begin a field enhanced scan of this sector. I'd like to take a closer look at this.
LAFORGE: In the meantime, we'd better tell the Captain we don't know how to get to the Fleming.
DATA: I am not certain that is true. I believe I have an idea.

[Ready room]

DATA: I suggest we coast into the rift.
RIKER: Coast?
DATA: We can initiate a brief, high intensity warp pulse from our current position. We should be able to attain sufficient velocity to enter the rift, beam the crew off the Fleming and exit without using our warp engines.
RIKER: All right, let's say we initiate a full power warp pulse. How much time do we need to drop out of warp?
DATA: If we field saturate the nacelles, we should be able to sustain warp speed for approximately two minutes.
RIKER: That doesn't give us much time, and it could get pretty rough in there.
DATA: The timing will be critical.
PICARD: Begin your calculations, Mister Data. We'll go as soon as you're ready.
DATA: Aye, sir.

[Engineering]

DATA: I believe the maximum saturation level should be eighteen point three percent.
LAFORGE: All right. With these parameters, we should be able to maintain warp speed for two minutes eight seconds. I don't think we can get any more than that.
DATA: I agree. But based on the size of the rift, it should give us sufficient time to complete the rescue. Computer, initiate nacelle field saturation.
LAFORGE: How did we miss it, Data?
DATA: I beg your pardon?
LAFORGE: How did we miss the connection between warp drive and the formation of the rift? Between the two of us we've logged thousands of hours on these engines. We're supposed to be warp field experts. We certainly were wrong this time.
DATA: Technically, Geordi, we were not wrong. Serova's theories rested on assumptions which were unprovable.
LAFORGE: Seems to me she managed to prove them pretty conclusively.
DATA: By using methods any reputable scientist would never employ.
LAFORGE: Yeah, she was willing to die to make her point. We should have listened to her more closely, Data.
DATA: We reviewed Serova's research to the best of our abilities, and we were prepared to continue studying the problem. But that was not satisfactory.
LAFORGE: Yeah, I can remember times when I was a little stubborn, trying to get people to believe me when I didn't have enough proof.
DATA: I do not believe that you would have resorted to such extremes.
LAFORGE: But she had to, just to get us to listen. Why was I so resistant?
DATA: Perhaps because her aggressive methods created an adversarial situation.
LAFORGE: Yeah. Maybe I was taking the whole thing personally.
DATA: I do not understand.
LAFORGE: Maybe I was a little threatened. The thought that warp engines might be doing some kind of damage. It's going to take another half an hour for the nacelles to saturate. Will you call me when they're done?

[Ten Forward]

(Rabal is at a table, staring at the rift)
RABAL: Commander.
LAFORGE: May I join you?
(Rabal nods)
LAFORGE: I wanted to say I'm sorry about your sister.
RABAL: Thank you. I'm trying to tell myself that she died for what she believed in, but somehow that isn't much comfort.
LAFORGE: I wish it could have happened differently. Maybe I should have looked at the research more closely. It's possible there's something that I missed.
RABAL: No. You didn't miss anything. The problem was time. We needed more time to do the proper research. Serova wasn't willing to wait.
LAFORGE: No. I guess the question is now, where do we go from here?
RABAL: I don't think we can look at space travel the same way anymore. We're going to have to change.
LAFORGE: I've been in Starfleet for a long time. We depend on warp drive. I just don't know how easy it's going to be to change.
RABAL: It won't be easy at all.

[Bridge]

DATA: Captain, warp pulse calculations are complete. We will be firing the engines at maximum intensity for six point three seconds before disengaging.
WORF: Damage control teams are standing by on all decks.
RIKER: The course to the Fleming is plotted and laid in, sir.
PICARD: Mister La Forge, whenever you're ready.
LAFORGE [OC]: Aye, sir.

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: Initiating warp pulse now.

[Bridge]

DATA: Engines disengaged. We are now entering the rift. (rumble) Hull stress is increasing. Eighty three percent of maximum tolerance and rising.
PICARD: How long until we reach the Fleming?
WORF: One minute twenty two seconds.
RIKER: All transporter rooms are standing by.
WORF: Captain, I am picking up power emissions from the Fleming. They may be attempting to initiate their warp drive.
RIKER: They might have been able to repair their engines.
DATA: Captain, if they activate
PICARD: I know, Mister Data. Can we establish communication?
WORF: No, sir. Subspace interference is too high.
PICARD: How long until we reach transporter range?
WORF: Fifty three seconds.
RIKER: I don't think we're going to make it.
WORF: Captain, they have initiated their warp drive.
(big rumble)
PICARD: Report.
WORF: Damage on decks six and fourteen. Our structural integrity field is holding.
RIKER: What about the Fleming?
DATA: They are badly damaged, sir. Their life support systems are failing.
RIKER: All transporter rooms, prepare emergency evacuation procedures.
DATA: Captain, when the Fleming activated their warp drive, the rift expanded by two point three percent. We no longer have sufficient momentum to escape.
(rumble)
DATA: Distortion wave intensity has increased by a factor of ten.
WORF: We are within transporter range of the Fleming, sir. Commencing evacuation procedures.
DATA: Distortion waves occurring every fifty nine seconds. Hull stress is nearing maximum tolerance.
RIKER: Data, what if we forced an EPS discharge through the impulse reactor. Would that be enough to get us out of here?
DATA: I do not believe so, sir, and the resulting explosion would likely destroy the saucer section in the process.
LAFORGE [OC]: Captain

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: We might be able to get out of here without using the warp engines.
RIKER: How, Geordi?
LAFORGE: When was the last time you went surfing, Commander?

[Bridge]

PICARD: A distortion wave.
LAFORGE [OC]: Exactly, Captain. If can phase match our deflector shield

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: To the EM variance of the distortion wave, when the next one hits we'll be pulled along with it.

[Bridge]

RIKER: We could ride it through the rift and then break away once we're clear. That is, if we survive the ride.
PICARD: Is everyone off the Fleming?
WORF: The last of the crew has been beamed aboard, sir.
PICARD: All right, Mister La Forge, get us out of here.

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: Yes, sir. Phase matching the deflectors shield now.

[Bridge]

DATA: The next distortion wave will impact in fourteen seconds.

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: Matching phases. Prepare to engage the deflector shield on my mark.
DATA [OC]: Ten seconds.
LAFORGE: And mark.

[Bridge]

PICARD: Engage deflector shield. Full power.
(whumph)

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: We lost it.

[Engineering]

DATA: We were unable to maintain phase match with the distortion wave, sir.
PICARD: What went wrong, Mister La Forge?
LAFORGE [OC]: The speed differential was too high, Captain.
DATA: Another distortion wave approaching. Impact in twenty six seconds.
RIKER: Our hull stress is already critical. We can't handle many more jolts like that.
DATA: Captain, I suggest we take the ship to full impulse. If we can attain sufficient speed, it will lessen the shock when the wave hits.
PICARD: Helm, full impulse. Head us out of the rift. Mister Worf, channel all available power to the structural integrity fields.
WORF: Aye, sir.
PICARD: Stand by deflector shield.

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: We're ready, Captain.

[Bridge]

DATA: Distortion wave impact in five seconds.
PICARD: Engage deflector shield, now.
(and they start paddling hard to catch this wave. Whumph)
DATA: We are now within the distortion wave. Hull stresses have exceeded maximum tolerance.
WORF: Structural integrity fields are failing on decks ten through sixteen. Switching to backups.

[Engineering]

LAFORGE: We're separating from the distortion wave. I'm attempting to compensate.

[Bridge]

PICARD: How much longer until we clear the rift?
DATA: Approximately twelve seconds, sir. Hull stresses one hundred twenty percent above tolerance.
WORF: A structural breach is imminent.
(Enterprise stops shaking and the lights come back up to full)
DATA: We have cleared the rift, sir. Hull stress has returned to normal.
PICARD: Cancel red alert.

Captain's log, stardate 47314.5. We have been continuing our research, while the Federation Council studies our preliminary reports on the subspace rift. It now appears certain that what we've seen here will have repercussions for many years to come.

[Observation lounge]

LAFORGE: Our scans have shown a lot of subspace instabilities throughout the sector. If they're exposed to enough warp energies, they could eventually create other rifts.
PICARD: Doctor Rabal?
RABAL: Based on current warp drive patterns in the sector, we've projected where subspace rifts will be most likely to be formed over the next forty years. This is the way things are now. This is how they'll look in ten years. Twenty years. Thirty years. Forty years.
(the monitor display moves up to almost total blue subspace rifts)
PICARD: Thank you, Doctor, Mister La Forge.
(a crewman hands Picard a PADD) 
PICARD: Ah. We've received new directives from the Federation Council on this matter. Until we can find a way to counteract the warp field effect, the Council feels our best course is to slow the damage as much as possible. Therefore, areas of space found susceptible to warp fields will be restricted to essential travel only, and effective immediately all Federation vessels will be limited to a speed of warp five, except in cases of extreme emergency.
WORF: The Klingons will observe these restrictions, but the Romulans will not.
TROI: And what about the Ferengi? And the Cardassians, for that matter?
PICARD: The Federation's sharing all our data with warp-capable species. We can only hope that they realise it's in their own interests and take similar action.
CRUSHER: Putting limits on warp speed is only going to prevent other rifts from forming. What are we going to do about this one?
LAFORGE: Unfortunately, right now there's not much we can do.
RABAL: The gravitational shifts have already begun to affect my planet's orbit. Our climate is changing.
PICARD: The Federation is setting up a weather control matrix on Hekaras Two. It's only a temporary solution, but it should suffice for now.
RIKER: We're lucky the rift took place as far away from the planet as it did. It gives us some time to consider our options.
PICARD: If there are no more questions, you're all dismissed.
(all but Geordi leave)
LAFORGE: We should have those thermal stabilisers ready for the Hekarans in another day, sir.
PICARD: Very well. You know, Geordi, I spent the better part of my life exploring space. I've charted new worlds, I've met dozens of new species. And I believe that these were all valuable ends in themselves. Now it seems that all this while, I was helping to damage the thing that I hold most dear.
LAFORGE: It's won't turn out that way, Captain. We still have time to make it better.

<Back to the episode listing

Star Trek and related marks are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. Copyright 1966, Present. The Star Trek web pages on this site are for educational and entertainment purposes only. All other copyrights property of their respective holders.