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The Titan-A flees through the Ryton System and the Shrike follows. Vadic (Amanda Plummer) is calm as she orders them to fire on the Titan. In medical, a Titan crew member blames Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) for the attack as Jack helps his mother, Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden).
On the bridge, Captain Shaw (Todd Stashwick) considers jumping to warp. William T. Riker (Frakes) notes that’s impossible inside the nebula. Ensign La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut) reports that they can’t outrun the Shrike on impulse alone. But Science Officer Lt. T’Veen (Stephanie Czajkowski) states that the deeper into the nebula they’ll go, the more they’ll lose sensors.
Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) notes that she won’t destroy them, but rather, will “peck away” at them until they surrender. The Titan goes deeper into the nebula, losing both sensors and the Shrike. But for how long?
Part Three: Seventeen Seconds
“Before,” Riker and Picard are sharing a drink at the Ten Forward bar location in Los Angeles. Picard toasts the birth of Thaddeus, and to parenthood. Riker describes Thad’s birth. They were on the Titan. Riker was called to the medical bay as Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) was in labor. He explains that the turbolift ride was the longest seventeen seconds of his life.
They’re interrupted by Troi, who says Thad has just vomited all over Engineering. Riker says he’ll be right there, and excuses himself.
“Present Day,” klaxons sound as the Titan-A hides. It’ll be an estimated two hours before warp is available. A pulse from the nebula hits the ship. T’Veen informs Shaw that the pulse contained both electrical and biological energy. Shaw relieves the bridge crew.
First Officer Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) is in her quarters. On her desk is a model of Voyager. She’s interrupted by La Forge. La Forge says that one of the few ways she’s like her father is that they both have problems making friends, but they know their value once they’ve found them. She supports Seven’s choice to help her friends. And in spite of Shaw’s preference that his first officer is to be addressed as “Commander Hansen,” La Forge calls her as “Commander Seven.”
In sickbay, Beverly is trying to help out, but Doctor Ohk (Tiffany Shepis) declines the assistance. Nevertheless, when Ohk is called to Engineering, Beverly continues to administer care. Picard and Riker arrive. Riker asks Jack to come with him so Beverly and Picard can have a chance to talk.
Picard and Beverly stand with multiple biobeds separating them. They discuss the last day they spent alone together. She reveals that she got pregnant that night. Beverly says she wanted to tell him, but a series of attacks aimed at Picard made her realize that it would always be in danger.
Beverly cites Picard repeatedly saying he didn’t want a family, that he couldn’t be a father because he’d be afraid of becoming his own. Picard tells her not to use his past to justify and rationalize her actions. He is offended that she has taken his confiding in her and used it to cut him out of the biggest decision of his life.
“What could have been, had I known,” asks PIcard. “What might I have been? A father, a husband. I know now I would never have been my father. But I could have learned that twenty years before.”
Beverly says that she was terrified when she was pregnant with Jack. She was worried about the risks of being Picard’s son. Beverly says she had to protect her child. She thought she could protect hers. But she didn’t know if she could protect Picard’s.
In the hallway, a smiling Riker watches Jack pace. Riker says he spent two decades in a spaceship watching Jack get cooked up before he was born. Riker says Picard is one of the finest men he’s ever known. Jack replies he’s found most legends don’t live up to their reputations. Riker says everyone’s just a faulty human. He continues that people have the right to know who or what they’re putting their lives on the line.
Jack says he didn’t ask for this. Riker says he knows, but now Jack has to own it. Give them a reason to feel good about it. Jack asks Riker if he has a family. Riker tells him to feel free to call him “Captain,” and then confirms he has a wife and daughter. And he had a son.
In sickbay, Beverly confirms that his work with Jack delivering medical supplies has brought some trouble, but nothing like this. She says she doesn’t think the pursuit has anything to do with Jack, but rather, is connected to PIcard. She says the Shrike isn’t a bounty hunter ship, it’s a warship, “with Jean-Luc Picard-sized enemies behind it.”
Picard asks about Jack’s accent. Beverly says he went to school in England and it stuck. Picard asked why he didn’t deserve to meet him. Beverly encouraged him to meet Picard after explaining who he was, and Jack decided against it. Picard leaves sick bay and summons Riker, ignoring Jack as he leaves.
Riker asks what Beverly said. Picard says it doesn’t matter. He says he placed the crew of the Titan in unnecessary danger. Riker encourages Picard to talk to Jack. But Picard says it’s irreparable, and that he owes Shaw an apology. But as Picard and Riker arrive at the bridge, the Shrike reappears. Shaw orders everyone to battle stations. Riker says it’s impossible they could have found them.
Aboard the Shrike, Vadic is informed that the Titan is “right where it should be.” The Shrike fires on the Titan repeatedly. Shaw is badly injured, coughing up blood and experiencing a compound fracture. Claiming he got them into this mess, Shaw transfers command to Captain Riker.
Riker sends Shaw to sick bay. The Titan fires a torpedo then shoots it with the phasers, causing it to detonate. This knocks the Shrike away. Riker says good job to Picard. Picard replies that it’s time Will calls him “Number One.”
In the La Sirena on M’Talas Prime, Worf (Michael Dorn) listens to opera as he meditates with his weapon. Raffi (Michelle Hurd) awakens and approaches him from behind with a phaser, demanding to know his identity. Worf disarms her, taking the phaser from her, then returns it. He introduces himself using all of his titles, and offers her chamomile tea.
Raffi says that he’s a legend, and both everything she expected and not. Worf says that he has learned of late that he must access calm as often as he accesses fire. “So I have been, as humans say, working on myself.”
Raffi remembers Worf rescuing her from Sneed and his soldiers. Worf is revealed to be her handler. Raffi asks if he’s Starfleet, and he says his concerns align with theirs. He describes himself as a “subcontractor.” Worf tells Raffi there is some kind of attack on the way. He says the Starfleet Recruitment attack was just the start of something bigger. Raffi says she told him this, and asks why he told her to disengage. He says that she would get herself killed, and states that he was right about this.
Raffi experiences withdrawals. Worf says she almost died undertaking a mission she was told to avoid. He affirms that she has the heart of a warrior. Worf reveals the human Titus Rikka paid Sneed to lie. They will track Rikka together.
Cat and Mouse
On the bridge of the Titan, Riker concludes they must hide. The Titan cannot confront the Shrike head-on. Its weaponry is too powerful. Then Riker instructs La Forge to continue to evade the Shrike by concealing itself in the nebula.
The floor at the entrance to the sick bay is spattered with blood. Beverly helps a crewmember but is distracted by Shaw’s gasps as Ohk attempts to revitalize him. Ohk once again tries to shoo Beverly away but everyone else is stable. She asks Shaw if he’s having trouble breathing, and concludes he’s bleeding internally. Beverly calls Jack over. Jack apologizes to Shaw. Shaw asks him how she keeps finding them. Jack looks at the trail of blood leading to Shaw’s biobed.
On the bridge, another pulse from the nebula is detected. T’Veen informs Riker about the electrical and biological nature of the energy. She believes the nebula is actually some kind of unprecedented and perhaps dangerous anomaly. Riker orders La Forge to reverse course. He says Engineering has however long it takes to get out of the nebula to restore warp. They’re attempting to outrun the Shrike. Jack tries to access the bridge, but he’s turned away.
The Titan makes an about-turn. They reach the edge of the nebula. The effects of the nebula dissipate as the stars come into view. Riker sets a course for the nearest starbase, and orders the crew to both go to warp and send a distress signal.
But they are immediately pursued by the Shrike. Vadic orders the device to be readied.
Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura (Joseph Lee) states that the weapons systems are giving off energy like he’s never seen. The Shike fires an energy ball. It creates a portal, which the Titan inadvertently flies into. Moments later, it rematerializes at a nearby but separate location, now flying a different direction.
Riker orders La Forge to try it again. The Shrike simply opens another portal, once again causing the Titan to be directed back into the nebula. PIcard says that she’s holding them there until either the Shrike or the energy surges incapacitate the Titan. Picard urges Riker to fight. Instead, Riker orders La Forge to turn them around and take them back into the nebula.
On M’Talas Prime, Raffi and Worf banter as they pursue Rikka. Working together, they successfully locate their quarry. But he discovers them and begins an attempt to escape. Fortunately, thanks to teamwork, they apprehend him.
Gas Leak Season
The Titan is pursued more deeply into the nebula by Shrike. La Forge says she can’t shake her.
Below, Jack enters Seven’s quarters. He begins talking about the “oldest trick” in the Fenris Ranger book, “blood in the water.” The Shrike keeps finding them because they’re leaving a trail of detectable “breadcrumbs.” This can be accomplished through a number of invisible strategies. Seven deduces it must be the substance that insulates the warp coils. It has a leak. Seven says they must be certain. However, Seven is confined to quarters. Jack punches the guard out.
When they get to the warp core, Seven detects the odor of the gas. She puts a mask on Jack and notes it’s fatal when gaseous. Seven determines that someone deactivated diagnostics, so the computer can’t detect the leak. She locates the leak and concludes it isn’t damage, it’s sabotage!
T’Veen informs Riker that there’s a gravity well at the center of the nebula. Getting pulled into it would be disastrous. La Forge adjusts course accordingly. Picard tells Riker that they could turn the sabotage against the Shrike. Fixing the leak could cause a dead end to the trail being followed. Then the Titan can sneak up behind. But Riker says they’ll run when the leak is fixed. Picard says that the knowledge is a tactical advantage against the Shrike. But Riker states that he’s taking the ship and her crew home.
In Engineering, a yellow-uniformed crewmember approaches Jack. Jack begins to explain the situation but is attacked by the crewmember: the saboteur! Jack punches the crewmember hard enough to reveal he’s a Changeling. Over the radio, Seven says she’s fixed the leak.
On the La Sirena, Raffi interrogates Rikka. Worf is the good cop, Raffi is the bad cop. Raffi assumes Rikka is going through withdrawal. She teases him with a fix.
On the Titan, Jack gasps for breath. A dreamlike Seven appears above him. Behind her, red branches grow on the roof of the Titan. Jack sees a red door. He’s awakened by a considerably less calm Seven.
In sickbay, Ohk and Beverly carry Jack to a biobed. Picard rides the turbolift as the doctors attempt to resuscitate Jack. Picard arrives. Fortunately, they are successful in saving Jack.
On La Sirena, Raffi curses at Rikka. Rikka blames Romulans. Then he says he broke into Daystrom, with like-minded others. He reveals the portal weapon was misdirection. Then Rikka’s face begins to shift: he’s a Changeling. Worf asks how long he’s been away from the Great Link.
On the Titan bridge, Picard urges Riker to confront the Shrike. How many times must Riker’s strategy fail before they try something else? Mura says the Shrike is nearby.
Worf confronts the Changeling. He notes the solid shape can only be retained for so long. Rikka says it’s too late, and that the worlds of the solids are on the verge of crumbling. Then, he melts. Worf disintegrates him with a phaser.
The More Things Changeling…
In sickbay on the Titan, Jack informs Seven that there’s a Changeling aboard.
Worf explains to Raffi that the Changelings were a powerful enemy of the Federation in the past. But when the Dominion War ended, a terrorist faction broke away, refusing defeat. Worf was contacted and informed of this by a close friend and man of honor within the Link (Odo, who returned there near the conclusion of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
Changelings can look and sound like anyone. Worf believes they are planning another attack. Raffi asks what could be so big that a portal weapon would just be a distraction. Worf suggests traveling to Daystrom Station may be the only way to determine what the “real” weapon heisted might be. Worf accepts Raffi as his partner.
With the leak fixed on the Titan, Riker orders them out of the nebula. La Forge prepares for warp. Seven informs Riker about Jack’s Changeling suspicion. A bomb placed by the saboteur detonates, putting warp offline.
Convinced to go on the offensive, Riker orders the Titan to fire on the Shrike. But it’s already turned around, and activated its portal. The weapons enter the portal and then are sent back to the Titan, incapacitating the ship. The Titan sinks towards the gravity well.
Riker tells Picard to remove himself from the bridge. “You’ve just killed us all,” he states.
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