“Captain’s Log, Stardate 41723.9. In response to a Starfleet order, we are in the Xendi Sabu star system having rendezvoused with a Ferengi vessel which has requested a meeting. Although we arrived here and made appropriate signals to the Ferengi three days ago they have so far responded only with the message, “Stand by, Enterprise*.”*”
In response to an order from Starfleet, the USS Enterprise-D has been sent to the Xendi Sabu system to rendezvous with a Ferengi Alliance vessel. For three days there has been no message from the Ferengi except “Stand by, Enterprise*.*”
Dr. Crusher comes to see Captain Picard in his quarters, where he complains of feeling fatigued and having a bad headache. Crusher is so surprised at his suggested diagnosis of a headache she says “A what?” and Picard repeats his diagnosis. Crusher assures Picard she knows what a headache is but says that she doesn’t encounter them often. She examines him and can find nothing wrong, but tells him to come to sickbay all the same. He begins to refuse when she orders him to go and says “You’ve got an order to report to sickbay from the only person aboard this ship who can give you an order.” Just then the Ferengi hail the Enterprise. Picard returns to the bridge and talks with the Ferengi captain, DaiMon Bok, over the Enterprise‘s viewscreen. Bok claims to know Picard, but Picard doesn’t recognize Bok at all. He wants to meet Picard in person, so despite being wary of his intentions, Picard agrees to meet him aboard the Enterprise.
Picard goes to sickbay where Crusher examines him again. He feels like she’s running a lot of tests for something as simple as a headache. Dr. Crusher responds that It may be true that headaches were once quite common, before the brain was charted, before they understood the nature of pain. But even with all the tests, she fails to find any medical reason for his headaches. She gives him a painkiller for the time being and asks for him to come back for more tests when the Ferengi matter is settled.
He returns to the bridge, where Wesley Crusher arrives and tells Geordi La Forge that when he was boosting the long-range sensors, he detected a ship approaching. Then La Forge detects it as well. It’s an unidentified Constellation-class starship, which is neither responding to hails nor sending out call letters. Picard begins to tell Wesley what the correct procedure is, but suddenly stops. When Riker asks what wrong, Picard says is just a mild headache. He then resumes telling Wesley everything he did wrong.
The time arrives for the Ferengi to beam over, and three of them materialize on the bridge: Bok and two of his officers, Kazago and Rata. Picard introduces the bridge crew, but all the fenrengi seem to be intersted in, is the fact that there are female on the crew, clothed females, which Troy and Riker seem to find amusing. The fenrengi also want to know the price to pay to purchase Data, but Riker tells them he his just second hand marchandise.
Bok tells Picard that the incoming starship is under their control and is a gift to honor the “hero of Maxia,” Captain Picard. Picard realizes they are referring to an incident that took place nine years prior while he commanded the USS Stargazer. Traveling through the Maxia Zeta system, they were attacked by an unknown vessel, which Picard was forced to destroy. It turns out that the vessel was Ferengi. The captain apologises to Bok, to which the ferengui replies that such mistakes happen in space.
While the unidentified ship approaches, Rata announces that there is no-one on board, and that the logs will be downloaded to the Enterprise, at a price. But Bok cuts him off and says there will be no price, much to the others’ surprise.
Picard is then hit by another headache, and Troy also felt something. She says it felt like something from Picard’s past. The Fenrenguis once again mention that the ship is a gift in honor of the aforementioned battle, and suggest that Picard should have a close look. He orders LaForge to magnify the image on the viewscreen. It is the Stargazer, which the Ferengi found adrift, and are now giving back to Picard. Bok says “it’s a gift, free of charge,” which his subordinates don’t like.
“Captain’s Log, supplemental. Bok and his officers have returned to their vessel inviting us now to officially take possession of the Stargazer*.*”
Picard is back in sickbay describing his new symptoms to Dr. Crusher and Counselor Troi. He says his new headache hit with more impact. Counselor Troi states that she felt something too and describes it as a thought but more mechanical in nature. Picard think she was picking up on of his thoughts because at the moment in question he was thinking about being at the helm of the Stargazer. As he is describing his thoughts about the incident on the Stargazer he begins to experience physical sensations like being able to smell the smoke from the fire in his memories.
Later in the observation lounge, Picard tells the crew about the battle. They had been traveling at warp 2 through the Maxia Zeta system when they were fired upon by an unidentified starship, damaging their shields in the confusion. Moments later the Stargazer was hit again. Suddenly, Picard asks the Stargazer‘s weapons officer, Vigo, to identify the the attacking ship. This surprises the Enterprise crew, and Picard then realizes what he’s said. He continues with the story, saying he ordered a sensor bearing on the enemy vessel, as it came around for another pass. He then performed what is now known as the Picard Maneuver: he ordered a jump to high warp, making it appear to the Ferengi for a second that the Stargazer was in two places at once. The Ferengi vessel fired at the Stargazer’s former position while the actual ship pulled out of warp right next to it. He was then able to destroy the Ferengi vessel, but was forced to abandon ship and he and his crew drifted around space in shuttlecraft for weeks. He wants to get on the Stargazer, which Riker agrees with, once he makes sure she’s safe.
Data, Natasha Yar, Worf, and La Forge beam over to inspect the Stargazer. La Forge gets the emergency power going, and, as everything looks all right, Picard beams over. He affectionately acknowledges his old ship (“Hello old friend“), goes around the bridge, and listens to Data reading the last log entry he himself made. He then goes to look at his old cabin, and is going through his things when he suddenly gets another headache. He grabs his head and falls back in agony. Among his things in an old chest, a pink sphere glows. Bok is controlling it aboard the Ferengi vessel. Dr. Crusher passes by and sees Picard in pain. She brings him back to the Enterprise, telling him that his belongings will be beamed over later.
The Enterprise tractors the Stargazer. Data tells Picard that Starfleet is sending a tug to bring it to Xendi Starbase 9, before Picard goes to his quarters for a rest. Troy is worried about Picard, but cannot say why or what’s going on. In his quarters, Picard starts to dream about the battle. Meanwhile in the ready room, Data shows Commander Riker a personal log that Picard supposedly recorded, claiming that he attacked the Ferengi vessel without provocation and that the Ferengi ship was under a flag of truce. According the Picard’s personal log, recorded with his own voice, the fire on board the Stargazer was caused by an accident in engineering.
Riker shows Picard the log. He thinks the Fernegi might have faked Picard’s voice, and asked Data to look into it. Picard denies making the entry. but tells him he has to report his findings to Starfleet. They have 2 full days to get to the bottom of this, as Picard fears Starfleet might ask for his command if he doesn’t have a good explanation. Then, the headache returns. Riker tells him to relax before he leaves, and the captain starts listening to the logs again,
In the ready room, Riker contacts Kazago, Bok’s first officer, on a secure channel. He wonders if he knows the details of the batlle of Mexia, which Kazago refers to as “an infamy”. Riker begins to offer evidence that the log was falsified, but Kazago stops him and remarks that Riker probably didn’t contact him to discuss an old battle. Riker asks Kazago why Bok had returned the ship if he knew about the alleged attack. Kazago, feeling insulted, hangs up on Riker.
Picard is in his quarters when Crusher arrives. He askes what’s wrong with him, but the doctor cannot help. On the ferengi ship, Bok is apparently turning the device to a higher setting, laughing. Picard tells Crushed the headache is worsening, and she suggests it might be related to the arrival of the Stargazer. He remarks that the headache started before the ship arrived. However, he realizes that she might be right and start recounting the events that took place at the battle of Maxia.
For three nights, Picard had a dream about the Stargazer, hearing the voices of his old crew, and his own voice giving the order. That, plus the log, makes him wonder if he’s going crazy. Crusher gives him a sedative and puts him to bed. He starts to dream about the battle again and relives it, seeing the crew and the bridge, and performing the Picard Manoeuvre. Bok laughs aboard his own ship as he manipulates a matching sphere to the one in Picard’s chest.
In Picard’s ready room, Data is informing Riker that, after comparing the Stargazer’s main computer log with captain Picard’s personal log, he found a discrepancy in the logs’s checksum. When Riker asks what it means, Data starts explaining what a checksum is. But that’s not what Riker wanted to know !
Data concludes that one of the logs is a forgery, but LaForge corrects him and say the personal log is a forgery. Picard enters the room, looking a lot better. He asks about their report on the logs, and both Data and LaForge reiterate that the personal log is a forgery. Crusher enters soon after and is surprised to see the captain up and about. He dismisses everyone except Riker, whom he tells to disengage the tractor beam, given that the Stargazer’s inertia will carry her along with the Enterprise.
In sickbay, Dr. Crusher is discussing the headaches with Troi. None of them can make any sense of the situation. Wesley enters, and tells them that he noticed the captain’s brain patterns were exactly the same as low intensity transmissions detected coming from the Ferengi ship. But since Engineering has nothing that looks like it on record, he cannot tell them anything else. They both report Wesley’s finding to Riker, noticing that something out there is affecting the Captain’s thought patterns. Riker checks on Picard’s location and finds out he has beamed onto the Stargazer.
Aboard the Stargazer, Bok meets Picard and raises the ship’s shields. He is carrying his pink sphere, and Picard has another huge headache. On the Enterprise bridge, the crew detects a low intensity beam, from inside the captain’s quarters. Bok tells Picard that the ship the Stargazer destroyed was his son‘s first command as a DaiMon. Bok has spent years devising a suitable revenge, and bought the two spheres with his life savings. He leaves the sphere on the bridge and beams back onto his own vessel, leaving Picard to relive the battle.
Riker tries to call Picard aboard the Stargazer, but gets no answer. The Stargazer, almost fully armed and having almost no damage to her main systems, turns to attack them. Crushed and Troy realize that Picard might not have noticed the device in his quarters, and that everything that happened until now was a preparation for what’s to come.
Riker hails the ferengi vessel, asking to talk to Bok. But Kazago responds that he is busy in the lab. Rikers shows the sphere to Kazago, wondering if that could be the reason why Picard has beamed to the Stargazer. Kazago recognizes the sphere as a “thought maker,” a device that is forbidden. Riker asks him what is going on, but Kazago is not willing to questions his DaiMon’s motivation.
Suddenly, Yar tells that she receives a communication from the Stargazer. Captain Picard comes on the viewscreen, asking the Enterprise to not fire again. He obviously is reliving the battle of Mexia. He asks for the shield to be raised, and the communication is lost. Ghosts of his old crew appear alongside Picard on the bridge of the Stargazer.
Riker realizes that he is going to use the Picard Maneuver, so he orders Data to come up with a suitable defense. Kazago hails, and tells Riker that Bok has been removed from command for his part in this “unprofitable venture”. Data comes up with a defense which involves detecting the correct ship by noting the compression of gas in space and then immobilizing the Stargazer with the tractor beam.
The defense works, and Riker hails Picard. He manages to convince him to destroy the sphere with his phaser, although that took quite a long time. Picard fires at the sphere, which explodes and pushes Picard back. After the sphere is destroyed, Picard returns to normal. He then beams over to the Enterprise, leaving the dead to rest in peace and letting the past remain the past.
Those two ships, nose to nose, with the stargazer just out of warp 9… please…