Mortal PangsSTAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION

“Mortal Pangs”

second draft 7-11-93

written by Earl Green Jr.

CAST (regular): Picard, Riker, Data, Beverly, Troi, Geordi, Worf

CAST (guest, speaking): Kyle Riker, Trammest, Gorsinne, Fynnel, Krunnoc

CAST (guest, non-speaking): N.D. Conn Officer, N.D. Ops Officer, Crewmember

SETS (interior – Enterprise): Main Bridge, Captain’s Ready Room, Sick Bay, Transporter Room, Turbolift, Guest Quarters (standard), Corridor, Holodeck (empty), Engineering, Shuttlecraft

EXTERIORS: U.S.S. Enterprise, Alpha Lythera VI, Lytheran spaceship, Comet, Enterprise Shuttlecraft, Stream bank (on the holodeck)

TEASER

Fade in:
1. EXT. HOLODECK / STREAM BANK (optical)

Riker, in his “civvies,” lies back against the sloped bank of a bubbling stream. At his side is a tackle box. He’s holding on to a fishing pole, waiting for the bite of the day. He also happens to be on his way to falling asleep. Standing alertly nearby – in uniform – is Data, equipped with his own fishing pole in a rather stiff manner. Data looks at Riker and opens his mouth to speak, and then sees that Riker is dozing off. Data hesitates for a moment, and finally speaks:

DATA
Commander?

Riker opens his eyes sleepily, but is not put off by Data’s waking him up. He responds by looking at Data, who continues.

DATA
I do not appear to be meeting with much success in this endeavor.

Riker is faintly amused.

RIKER
You need to move your bait around a bit more, Data. Give them something to chase.

Data’s expression changes, to acknowledge his understanding. At least, we think so, until he starts swishing his pole side to side repetitively. Riker stands quickly, pole still in hand, and walks over to Data’s side.

RIKER
(quickly, smiling)
No, no! Not like that. Just a little – enough for the fish to notice, but not enough to get in their way or scare them.

Data stops moving his fishing rod and cocks his head and absorbs this a bit, but apparently draws a blank.

DATA
Sir, I do not seem to possess the same skill as you in catching fish.

Riker smiles and nods, still holding the rod steady but moving it gently. Data reels in an empty hook, which he and Riker examine.

RIKER
That’s why you don’t sit still for a long time. You won’t find a single fish in Curtis Creek who would pass up a free lunch.

Riker gets a tug on his fishing rod – he pulls a bit and starts to reel his line in as Data watches, fascinated:

RIKER
Ah-hah! There we go. Let’s see who took the bait.

Finally reeling in his catch, Riker finds it to be rather a small trout, but it still holds Data’s attention as Riker removes the hook from the wriggling fish.

DATA
I apologize for misjudging your previous assessment of fishing as an art form to be an exaggeration, Commander.

Riker finally loosens fish from hook and gives it one last look.

RIKER
No apology necessary, Data – you just have to go by instinct. By feel.

Riker gently tosses the fish back toward the water, but Data catches it in mid-air, not comprehending.

DATA
Careful, Commander – you lost your grip.

Riker laughs a little. Data offers him the fish, still wriggling, which Riker accepts. He throws it back into the water, this time raising a hand to prevent Data from catching it again.

RIKER
He’s not big enough yet. If they’re not fully grown, you throw them back to let them get that way. Besides, then they have a better chance to breed.

Data regards Riker with concern for a moment.

DATA
Commander, your program is –
[a beat]
…engrossing, but surely you remember we are on the holodeck.

Riker reels his line in completely and starts to pack the tackle box up.

RIKER
Of course I do. But it doesn’t hurt to relive a fond memory occasionally. It’s like visiting an old friend.

DATA
I do not understand how visiting a familiar location can evoke the same response as the presence of a friend.

Riker stops packing his gear; appears thoughtful for a second.

RIKER
That may be the greatest difference between your brain and mine, Data. When humans visit places where significant events in their lives have taken place, the memories just seem to surface again in force. The feelings, too.

Riker looks around and then continues packing his gear.

RIKER
(to himself)
Especially the feelings.

DATA
I am not certain I understand.

RIKER
Well…it’s like going back to where …where you made your first friend.

DATA
I do remember that. Starfleet Academy, classroom number one-fourteen in the Groucutt Building —

Riker interrupts, but not out of irritation.

RIKER
You remember the place, but can you remember the circumstances? The emotional dynamics? What was said or done?

DATA
I can recall precisely what took place.

RIKER
Well, there you go – that’s the big difference right there. Most humans can’t just access their memories and cross-reference them instantly. But when they find themselves in similar circumstances, the memories surface again, memories people don’t normally keep in mind at all times. In most cases, it’s usually a refreshing experience.

Before the discussion can continue, the idyllic scene is punctured by the sound of a communicator page signal.

WORF
(com voice) Bridge to Commander Riker.

Riker looks “skyward,” answering, having packed his gear.

RIKER
Riker here.

WORF
(com voice) Sir, we have just received a visitor from the USS Chapman. He wishes to see you. He is waiting in guest cabin twelve.

Riker is surprised to hear this.

RIKER
Who is it, Mister Worf?

WORF
(com voice) Your father, sir.

Riker’s mood shifts a little bit, as if the surprise is only half pleasant, but he still smiles.

RIKER
I’ll be right there. Riker out. [a beat] Computer, store program.

Riker and Data start to walk out of frame (and out of the holodeck) as Curtis Creek dissolves into the bare holodeck.

Fade out

END OF TEASER

——————————————————————————–

ACT ONE

Fade in:
2. INT. GUEST QUARTERS (optical) 2.
The guest cabin is pretty much standard-issue. Kyle Riker paces the floor, somewhat nervously. He seems tired, a little haggard. He has deposited a duffle bag in a nearby seat. Finally the door chime signal sounds, to which Kyle responds excitedly:

KYLE
Come in!

The door opens to reveal Riker standing in the corridor, smiling.

RIKER
Hi, Dad.

Kyle grabs Riker’s hand and pumps it vigorously, pulling Riker into the room at the same time. The door closes behind Riker and Kyle finally lets go of Riker’s hand. Kyle now settles for patting Riker on the back excitedly.

KYLE
How…how have you been?

RIKER
(grinning) Probably not as legendary as the stories you hear at Starfleet Tactical, but I’m still in one piece. And you?

KYLE
Fine! I’m fine. Will, I’ve got exciting news for you. Something fantastic!

Kyle gestures to a nearby table, and they both take seats across from each other.
Riker waits in anticipation. Kyle’s expression says he’s not sure how his son will take the news. After a tense pause, Riker breaks the silence, almost laughing.

RIKER
(curious) What, dad?

There is another pause. Kyle’s smile weakens a bit, and he seems more serious for a moment.

KYLE
I…I’m getting married, son.

Riker’s face falls, not in disappointment, but in sheer surprise. He regains his smile and sits back.

RIKER
Congratulations, Dad. [a beat] So…who is she?

There is another silence. Kyle then leans across the table, opens his mouth, and…
3. EXT. SPACE – THE ENTERPRISE AND LYTHERAN VESSEL (optical) 3.
Holding position next to an alien spacecraft which, while not puny, isn’t the same size as the Enterprise at all. It’s also obviously on a more primitive order of technology.

PICARD
(vo) Captain’s Log, stardate 47241.6: the Enterprise has just taken aboard a team of specialists from Alpha Lythera Six, along with Federation tactical advisor Kyle Riker, who has been serving as a liasion between the Lytherans and the Federation during a crisis which, if they do not receive assistance, could spell doom for the Lytherans.

4. INT. CONFERENCE LOUNGE (optical) 4.
Picard, Troi, Geordi, Data, and Worf are seated in their usual places around the table; also present are Trammest, Gorsinne, Fynnel and Krunnoc, all of whom are Lytherians, humanoids with some minor differences from human facial features. The Lytherians all wear somewhat bulkier uniforms than the Starfleet officers, somewhat suggestive of late 20th century Earth space gear, but much lighter and streamlined. Of the Lytherans, Gorsinne is the only female; the others are male, Fynnel being eldest.
The door opens, admitting Riker and Kyle. Will’s expression is extremely sour. They both take seats. Picard looks around and opens the proceedings.

PICARD
(seriously) Well, now that we’re all here, we have a major crisis on our hands. I shall leave the explaining to Krunnoc.

Krunnoc stands and begins pacing around the room, making sure to address everyone.

KRUNNOC
Our society is doomed unless your ship can take part in our last effort to save it.

This rather nebulous statement draws different reactions from the humans; Krunnoc continues.

KRUNNOC
Lythera Six, as you probably already know, is a gaseous planet which my people on the first moon depend on. Being sixth from our sun, Lythera Six and its satellites are not warmed by its energy, but from the heat radiated from the planet itself. And now that our society has flourished so well in the warmth of Lythera Six, our own mother planet threatens us with extinction.

Again, a silence. Krunnoc walks over to one of the viewscreens, presses a key, and calls up a diagram of Lythera VI showing the orbit of Alpha Lythera IV around the planet, and the magnetosphere of the planet twisting around the planet in a strange pattern.

KRUNNOC
The planet’s magnetic poles are offset from its physical axis by seventy-two degrees. As a result, the magnetic field of the planet follows a complex course. The orbit of our moon has not brought it directly above the magnetic pole of Lythera Six in seven thousand years, and our culture has emerged and advanced into space only in the past two centuries. We rely on modern technology for daily tasks, and it would be hard to imagine life without them now.

Krunnoc presses another key on the viewscreen; the display becomes animated and shows the magnetic stream from the planet enveloping the orbiting moon and staying on top of the moon for several orbits as Krunnoc continues.

KRUNNOC
Our moon will enter the area over the planet’s northern magnetic pole in four months. The result will be a regression into the dark ages.

Now everyone understands; their expressions convey concern and even alarm. Geordi speaks up.

GEORDI
The magnetic interference will disrupt your computers and energy sources.

FYNNEL
The cultivation and farming of food, the purification of our water, the healing of our sick…all handled by technological means. All this will end in four months.

PICARD
(somewhat awed) How can we do anything to assist you?

KRUNNOC
I believe our Federation liaison can outline the plan more clearly in your terms than I.

Krunnoc nods toward Kyle.

KYLE
The U.S.S. Chapman has been scanning this system for rephirodoxide, which could prove to be useful.

PICARD
In what way?

KYLE
Rephirodoxide has been used in the past by the Federation to shield surface installations on moons orbiting giant planets like Lythera Six, which have intense magnetic environments. When dispersed in the upper layers of an oxygen-nitrogen atmoshpere, molecules of rephirodoxide become active and form a new element which blocks most magnetic energy.

DATA
This new element could not simply be manufactured in a laboratory?

KYLE
(shaking head) No. The few grams that scientists have ever artificially created have always become unstable and useless. For our purposes – for the Lytherans to survive – we need naturally occurring rephirodoxide spread into the upper atmosphere of the moon.

PICARD
And did the Chapman locate any in this system?

KYLE
No. They’ve spent the past two months closely scanning every planet, every moon, every minor planet and asteroid …nothing. We need a ship better equipped with scanners to find some kind of alternate source.

PICARD
Data, Geordi, I want you to come up with some answers by seventeen hundred hours today. [a beat] In the meantime…if anyone has any suggestions at all…now would be a good time to hear them.

DATA
(to the Lytherians) Could the orbit of your moon be shifted slightly?

FYNNEL
It would not be the best solution. Being close to Lythera Six, our moon gets just the right amount of heat and radiation to maintain life. It wouldn’t be a good idea to tamper with the orbit.

There is a silence as everyone mulls over the situation; Picard finally stands. As casually as he can manage:

PICARD
Now would be a good time to start looking for the answers to this problem. Dismissed.

Picard nods toward the Lytherans.

PICARD
We’ve arranged for guest quarters for the duration of your stay.

All stand; Troi, Worf, Picard, Krunnoc, and Fynnel exit through the doors. Trammest and Gorsinne begin a quiet discussion with Data and Geordi.
Riker and Kyle stand, as Picard reaches out to shake Kyle’s hand. Kyle accepts and smiles somewhat tiredly.

PICARD
Mister Riker. How have you been?

KYLE
Well, to be honest…

Kyle looks back toward the Lytherans, who are engaged in a very active discussion with Data and Geordi and are paying no attention to anyone else in the room.

KYLE
(quietly) I’m glad to be back among the living.

The comment puzzles Picard and seems to irritate Riker. Kyle gives Picard’s hand a final shake and then exits through the door. Just then, the discussion between Geordi, Data, Trammest and Gorsinne has reached a climax. They approach Picard and Riker.

GEORDI
(smiling a bit) Captain, I think we may have an idea.

PICARD
I’m listening.

TRAMMEST
I would have brought this up during the meeting, but I’m afraid Fynnel particularly dislikes this idea. I believe that, if we can find a comet in or near this system with a gas tail containing rephirodoxide, the comet could be diverted toward our moon. If its course is altered with precision, the gas tail could shear off onto our moon, dispersing its elements through our atmosphere and creating the protective element in under two months.

Geordi smiles hopefully toward Picard and Riker; Trammest and Gorsinne smile slightly. Picard is impressed, and then Geordi turns to Trammest and Gorsinne with a sudden idea.

GEORDI
Wait – I’ll do you one better. If we can use the planet’s gravity well to capture the comet and put it in the same orbit as Alpha Lythera Six, the comet will become a minor satellite which will leave a trail of particles in its wake, which the moon will pass through eventually, making sure that the rephirodoxide is never depleted from the atmosphere.

PICARD
(cautiously) There is an element of risk in such a plan, Commander. If the comet’s trajectory is miscalculated even in the slightest, it could collide with Alpha Lythera Six and destroy the moon completely.

RIKER
Yeah, or causing tidal surges on the moon’s surface that would wipe out coastal regions.

DATA
There is also a danger that, if the comet collides with Lythera Six with sufficient force, it could dislocate the planet’s plane of rotation or even its orbit. The results would be equally devastating to the moon.

GORSINNE
If we do nothing, Data, the results will be devastating.

PICARD
First, let’s set a course for the outer cometary cloud and see if there are any comets that even contain this gas. If we locate any, we’ll…do what we can from there.

Gorsinne and Trammest nod eagerly. Geordi, Gorsinne, Trammest and Data exit through the doors. Riker quietly walks over to the large windows and stares out at the stars, not paying attention to Picard:

PICARD
Though life would be difficult for them, these people could actually survive without their technology. As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.” I’m sure they could even develop superior technology that could withstand the magnetic interference. All they need is sheer determination.

Riker says nothing. Picard then steps up to the window beside Riker and gazes at the stars with him.

PICARD
(quietly) Will…if I may say so…you seem rather distracted.

Riker gives Picard an apologetic look and nods silently.

PICARD
Has…your father settled in?

Riker looks down slightly, a sour expression on his face.

RIKER
No, but he’s getting there. He’s…

Riker’s train of thought trails off. Picard is intrigued, but doesn’t try to prompt him. As expected, Riker picks up where he left off, turning away from the window to face Picard.

RIKER
He’s getting married.

Picard’s expression changes, almost saying “a-ha.” He turns away from the window now to give Riker his full attention.

PICARD
Will, you can’t expect him not to try to move on…on from where he left off.

RIKER
It’s not that. I’m having a hard time accepting his choice in a new bride.

PICARD
You know her already, then?

Riker looks out the window again.

RIKER
Yeah. She used to hang around our home a lot since I was about fourteen years old, and she was still making herself right at home when I left a year later. A couple of times when I tried to contact my father while I was at Starfleet Academy, she would answer my communications.

PICARD
Might I ask who she is…?

RIKER
Doctor Rhea del Vuir.

Picard is surprised.

PICARD
The same Doctor del Vuir who’s now head of Starfleet Medical?

RIKER
The same.

There is a brief silence. Picard is a little speechless.

PICARD
Doctor del Vuir is…an impressive person, to say the least. She is recognized as one of the best in her field.

RIKER
(somewhat sharply) Well, my father’s not in need of medical attention at the moment, so her career isn’t a consideration. She’s headstrong to the point of irritation, and just a little too ambitious for comfort.

PICARD
Whose comfort, Will? Yours or your father’s?

There is a tense silence as Riker thinks it over for a second. Picard continues in the meantime.

PICARD
Keep in mind, you don’t have to live with Doctor del Vuir. Your father does. If he feels up to… [a beat, choosing words carefully] …well, up to the challenge…then he’s the only one who needs to make the decision. And having met your father, I’m not under the impression that he can’t look after himself.

RIKER
(warily) He’s making a hasty decision. I know my own father well enough to be able to tell that.

There is a pause as thoughts are gathered again.

PICARD
Will, in the end it’s really his decision. Just the fact that he’s the one who must make that decision will make any protest from you seem like interference.

Riker thinks it over and smiles briefly.

RIKER
I suppose you’re right.

The communicator page signal sounds.

GEORDI
(com voice, excited) La Forge to Captain. Sir, I think we’ve found what we need.

The change of subject has Picard and Riker paying attention to Geordi’s voice now, both of them once again alert and ready to take on the task at hand.

PICARD
Very good, Commander. Relay the co-ordinates to the helm and…on the way, we’ll have to see if Mister Fynnel might agree with your plan.

GEORDI
(com voice) Aye, sir.

Picard looks at Riker, and is pleased to see that the spark has returned at the call of duty. They then exit through the doors toward the bridge.

Fade out

END OF ACT ONE

——————————————————————————–

ACT TWO

Fade in:
5. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 5.
Worf, Data, Riker and Troi occupy their normal posts; supernumeraries as needed. The door to the aft turbolift opens, revealing Picard, Geordi, Trammest, Fynnel and Krunnoc, who all walk out onto the bridge. The turbolift closes behind them. Fynnel seems angry, and Krunnoc curious. Trammest looks a bit confident. A discussion, which obviously is already in progress, continues:

FYNNEL
It will never work. This vessel can’t do anything to alter a comet’s trajectory with any precision.

TRAMMEST
The Enterprise’s tractor beam is capable of applying sufficient force to the comet to put it on a heading for Lythera Six. Gorsinne and Commander La Forge are running simulations in engineering to find out how much control we would have over the comet.

Picard, Trammest, Krunnoc and Fynnel walk down to the center of the bridge. Troi, Worf, Riker and Data watch the conversation with interest.

KRUNNOC
What are the odds of the comet hitting our moon?

DATA
If the trajectory is carefully calculated and executed, the chances of that occurrence could be very low.

FYNNEL
(adversarially) And what of the effects of that rare cometary gas on our ecosystem?

DATA
Previous studies on the interaction of rephirodoxide with earth-like atmospheres show negligible effects, depending primarily on the density of the atmosphere. The element remains airborne in the upper atmosphere and does not reach the surface in any significant volume.

The turbolift opens again and admits Kyle to the bridge; the door closes behind him. Spotting the discussion in center stage, Kyle quickly joins the Lytherans.

KYLE
Sorry I was late, Captain. I’d just been sending a message home.

Riker, still seated, reacts to his father’s statement with a very slight expression of distaste.

PICARD
Mister Riker, we may have found a solution to the dilemma of Alpha Lythera Six…if only we can get all parties to agree with the plan.

Kyle nods quickly, understanding immediately that this is a request for him to settle the Lytherans’ emotions.

KYLE
What’s the plan?

TRAMMEST
We believe that a comet could be guided between our moon and Lythera Six. The comet’s tail contains the rephirodoxide needed to create the protective element in our atmosphere. If steered sufficiently close to the planet, the comet’s gas tail could shear off into the atmosphere and save us.

FYNNEL
(grumbling) Or it could collide with the moon and destroy us.

KYLE
Gentlemen, this is your decision. I can only ensure that the Federation will assist you in any way it can… but neither I nor anyone on this ship can decide your planet’s future.

Krunnoc has been thinking quietly in the background of the heated discussion. He now steps forward to address Fynnel.

KRUNNOC
(gentle but firm) Fynnel, I have the utmost respect for you and your work. You’ve been a tremendous asset to our people in the development of space exploration. But I fear the possible advantages of this plan outweigh the famine and destruction we would endure if we revert to a primitive way of life.

Krunnoc turns to Kyle and Picard and starts to speak, but is interrupted by a furious Fynnel:

FYNNEL
I don’t believe this! For someone who respects my service to our people, you shouldn’t arbitrarily reject my input like this. I consider this to be an insult of the lowest —

Krunnoc’s eyes now narrow and he interrupts, speaking now in a low voice with an edge of threat:

KRUNNOC
Fynnel, please return to your cabin. My authority in this matter is final.

Fynnel remains still.

FYNNEL
I cannot recognize an authority that would sentence my society to doom.

There is a tense silence; Worf silently tenses in case it comes to blows. Everyone watching is concerned. Krunnoc’s next words carry authority, but sadness as well.

KRUNNOC
Fynnel, this is unproductive. Please dissolve your ties to the members of this mission and return to your room.

Fynnel’s anger fades into shock. Kyle is also surprised, and is saddened; he appears to know what is happening.

FYNNEL
But we have been friends for eight months during the course of this project!

Krunnoc does not answer. There is a pause. Fynnel, with regret, intones:

FYNNEL
(flatly) My relationship with everyone present is hereby concluded.

Fynnel emotionlessly heads for the turbolift. Troi’s expression is one of total surprise, and Kyle seems simultaneously resentful and sad. The turbolift door opens, Fynnel steps in, and the door closes behind him. Krunnoc turns to Picard apologetically.

KRUNNOC
My sincerest apologies to you and your crew, Captain. You…should not have had to endure that.

Picard, still confused as to what has transpired, smiles and allows himself to relax with the end of the hostility.

PICARD
Just a small group of you, here in the relative safety of this vessel, deciding the fate of your entire civilization… that could never be easy. I’m sure once we complete this mission, we can all be friends again.

Krunnoc’s answer startles and mystifies all but Trammest and Kyle:

KRUNNOC
That will not be possible. But we must continue with the mission, yes.

Krunnoc turns to Trammest.

KRUNNOC
Trammest, you and Gorsinne will assist the Enterprise crew in…”escorting” the comet to our home world.

Trammest nods. Krunnoc turns to Picard, continuing:

KRUNNOC
In the meantime, Captain, I will return home and try to assure my people that help is on the way.

Picard nods, smiling. Krunnoc heads for the aft turbolift, and says one more thing to Picard:

KRUNNOC
Oh, and Fynnel will be going home as well.

The turbolift doors open and Krunnoc steps into the lift. Trammest quickly walks toward the turbolift as well.

TRAMMEST
I’ll get back to engineering and help Geordi and Gorsinne.

Trammest enters the turbolift; the doors close. Kyle, who had watched them both leave, heaves a sigh of relief and exhaustion.

PICARD
(to Kyle) Mister Riker…could you explain to me what all that was about?

Kyle looks up at Picard.

KYLE
It’s their way of communicating and living with each other. Instead of keeping friends, the Lytherans simply cut off relationships voluntarily. They only form friendships to make working together easier; outside of that, friendship has no meaning to them.

Riker stands and walks over next to Kyle, amazed.

RIKER
What?!?

PICARD
Why do they do this?

KYLE
Oh, supposedly to avoid conflicts of interest and loyalty that have been problems in their civilization in the past.

Kyle looks straight at Riker now:

KYLE
They say it’s also easier than eventually getting into a fight with someone they love and losing the relationship over it.

Picard is still very skeptical of this information.

PICARD
And they’re able to just call off a relationship instantly? You mean to tell me that Doctor Fynnel won’t be holding a grudge against Krunnoc for a few days?

Troi now stands and walks over to Picard and the Rikers.

TROI
I did sense a complete change in Fynnel’s emotional state – as if that is precisely what he was doing. His feelings toward Krunnoc and everyone in this room ceased to exist – he just turned them off.

Picard is curious.

PICARD
Are you sure, Counselor? Could it be that the Lytherians are difficult for you to read accurately?

TROI
I’m positive, sir. During the meeting, I sensed their concern for the future, and all the other emotions each of us normally feels toward other people near us in a typical situation. But Fynnel seemed to deactivate his anger, his friendship, his regret…in a way, I couldn’t read him any better than I could Data.

KYLE
Captain, it’s nothing we should concern ourselves with. This is how they live their lives, and it’s a discipline all Lytherans learn. [a beat] And frankly, I find it damned hard to be around them, making new friends all time and losing them as soon as the “usefulness” of the friendship has run its course. I suggest we just…help them save their world…and move on. Preferably move a long way on.

Kyle, his distaste with the Lytherans now having surfaced, heads for a turbolift. The aft turbolift door opens; Kyle enters, and the door closes. Troi looks at Picard and Riker.

TROI
It is something we need to concern ourselves with.

PICARD
In what way?

TROI
I have no doubt that the crew will perform their duties as normal to save Alpha Lythera Six, but to us and to many others – including other species – the Lytherans’ response could be misinterpreted as rude, or perhaps even userous.

Picard nods, already having understood Troi’s point.

PICARD
Yes – once we’ve helped save their planet, the Lytherans may want nothing to do with us.

TROI
Exactly. And we should be prepared for that, in order to avoid any misunderstandings that could damage relations between Lythera and the rest of the Federation.

PICARD
Agreed. Number One, perhaps you should pay a visit to Geordi and get his opinion on the Lytherans’ plan to drive a comet into their system.

Riker nods; he walks toward the aft turbolift and the turbolift door opens. Troi quickly makes a decision to follow Riker into the turbolift and the doors close behind them.
6. INT. TURBOLIFT (optical) 6.
Riker and Troi have just entered; Riker is surprised that Troi followed him into the turbolift.

RIKER
(looking upward) Main engineering.

A computer tone indicates the turbolift is underway.
There is a brief silence; Riker’s already figured out that Troi needs to speak to him. He’s even guessed correctly by now why she needs to do so.

TROI
Will, I’m also concerned about your father.

RIKER
(uneasily) In what way?

TROI
I’m sensing a growing discomfort and the beginnings of open resentment from him, directed toward the Lytherans. I’m worried that he may not be adequate to serve as the Federation liasion with them much longer.

RIKER
He’s probably just itching to get home and get married.

TROI
Married?

Riker simply nods, a grim expression on his face.

TROI
It wouldn’t take an empath to figure out that you don’t approve of his plans. [a beat] Let me guess…you don’t like her.

RIKER
That’s putting it mildly.

TROI
Might I ask who his bride-to-be is?

RIKER
Doctor Rhea del Vuir from Starfleet Medical.

Troi mouths the word “Oh” silently, understanding.

RIKER
Don’t tell me you know her as well?

TROI
No…but I have…well, let’s say I’ve heard some things about her from someone on board.

RIKER
The captain seems to have met her at some time.

Troi shakes her head quickly, but isn’t giving the secret away yet. Riker responds with good-humored sarcasm:

RIKER
Deanna, you’re being very…helpful.

TROI
(smiling) No I’m not. I’m not going to tell you anything unless you promise not to misuse the information. [beat] And promise not to tell anyone where you got the information.

Riker raises his right hand in a “scout’s honor” gesture.

RIKER
I promise.

The turbolift comes to a stop and the door opens up to main engineering.

TROI
Let’s just say that a certain… colleague of Doctor del Vuir’s in the field of medicine might be of help to you.

Riker gets the message immediately.

RIKER
Beverly. I’ll have a chat with her as soon as I can.

Riker moves to exit, but Troi touches his arm and turns serious.

TROI
Will, I meant what I said – if your father has his mind set on getting married, trying to change his mind will simply widen the rift between you. And, knowing that there’s a stubborn streak in your family, he’d probably become more determined than ever to go through with it. [a beat] And if you need to talk to me, you know you can do that too.

Riker, now more serious himself, nods in understanding. He turns to the door, but before exiting, shoots Troi a quick look over his shoulder.

RIKER
(humorously) A stubborn steak? I’m hurt.

Troi shrugs innocently as the doors close in front of her.
7. INT. ENGINEERING (optical) 7.
Geordi, Gorsinne and Trammest are gathered around the console in Geordi’s office. Riker enters from behind.

RIKER
Geordi, how’s it going?

GEORDI
I think we can do it, but every step of this plan has to be done with incredible precision. We can configure photon torpedoes at low yield, just enough to alter the comet’s trajectory. But we’ve got another problem.

GORSINNE
We had hoped to use your tractor beam to speed the comet up on its way to Alpha Lythera Six, but the tractor beam could contaminate the gases surrounding the nucleus.

RIKER
I suppose if we had to, we could follow the comet at forty thousand kilometers and give it a push with a torpedo every few hours.

GEORDI
We can’t speed it up too much. If the comet swings past the moon too fast, it could alter the moon’s orbit, or tear away a big chunk of the atmosphere. I think we can keep an eye on it, though, sir.

TRAMMEST
This is the best chance we’ve got.

RIKER
I’ll get to the bridge and let them know you’re ready then.

Riker exits. Geordi looks up at Trammest and Gorsinne and smiles.

Fade out

END OF ACT TWO

——————————————————————————–

ACT THREE

Fade in:
8. INT. TEN FORWARD (optical) 8.
Ten Forward’s usual crowd is thinned out, probably called to their stations for the impending mission. At one “window” seat sits Kyle, with a drink that he doesn’t seem to have touched.
The doors open and Troi walks in, going up to the bar, where a waiter is on duty. Kyle notices Troi’s entry in the corner of his eye, and briefly watches her order something and the waiter walks off to fill the order. Kyle then returns his gaze to the window.
The waiter returns to the bar with Troi’s chocolate mousse. Taking the dish, Troi turns away from the bar and notices Kyle. Troi approaches Kyle’s table.

TROI
Do you mind if I join you?

KYLE
(absently) Go ahead.

Troi takes a seat across from Kyle, who pays her very little attention.

TROI
(quietly) I understand you’re getting married.

KYLE
I guess so. As soon as I can get away from Alpha Lythera Six, I’m going back to Earth. Probably for good.

TROI
If this mission is successful, you could probably call your own shots for your next assignment.

Kyle snaps back irritably and sarcastically.

KYLE
And if it isn’t successful…well, that would cut my duties here short as well.

Troi looks at Kyle for a moment and he finally gives his attention to Troi instead of the window. He suddenly seems tired, weaker.

KYLE
I apologize. I’ve just got a lot on my mind.

TROI
You really don’t like being around the Lytherans, do you?

Kyle smiles weakly and finally takes a sip of his drink.

KYLE
I hope that’s not as obvious to them as it is to you.
[pause]
They’re very tiring to be around and to work with. The way they just instantly dissolve their relationships starts to pile up on your shoulders. If a normal human being ended a friendship like the Lytherans, you’d think it’s because they hate you. And I can’t help but wonder if those people hate whoever they wind up ending their relations with.

TROI
You do have to remember, the Lytherans are not human beings, normal or otherwise.

KYLE
(annoyed again) I know, I know, they have their own way of doing things…but I don’t have to like it.

TROI
Then why have you stayed there so long?

KYLE
(embarassed) I…uh, I wanted to prove that I could last there longer than the Federation liaisons who served before I did.

TROI
Have you considered why they all requested new assignments after spending just a few months with the Lytherans?

Kyle just gives Troi a blank look, not quite understanding.

TROI
It’s because they feel the same way you do about the customs and lifestyles of the Lytherans. I doubt that anyone who has served in your position before would think any less of you if you quit this assignment. Since Alpha Lythera Six joined the Federation thirty years ago, most of our representatives to them have grown tired of the Lytheran lifestyle very quickly.

Kyle finally opens up and pours forth, not too emotionally; he is not responding to what Troi has just said, but has been wanted to say it to someone and can wait no longer:

KYLE
The Lytherans have no regard for the single thing that all of us seek in life – friendship, love, respect…it means nothing to them. And I’m worried, if I stay around those people much longer, I’m afraid I might find out that their way is easier or better. I’ve been hurt before, and felt lost, and those things wouldn’t have happened if we conducted our business like the Lytherans.

Troi is concerned about Kyle; having made his admission, he’s more than likely passed the point of no return and will be of no use as an “interpreter” for the Lytherans.

TROI
But what about friendship, love and respect? Doesn’t it mean that much more to you if you have achieved friendship, love and respect after suffering a great loss?

Kyle shakes his head, truly lost.

KYLE
I’m not sure anymore.
[a beat]
And that scares the hell out of me. More than anything.

Kyle takes another sip of his drink and sets the glass down. He stands; Troi watches in concern.

TROI
Mister Riker, I know that their way of living is frustrating to you. It must be confusing and discouraging to deal with people whose customs discard lasting relationships, when the entire point of your work there is to establish lasting relations.

KYLE
I have to get away from them. Away from them and their planet, and get back home. I feel like I’ve lost track of humanity, and I need to find stability again. And there’s one way to do that.

Kyle walks away and eventually exits. Troi, worried, watches him leave and then turns to the window; through the window, among the stars, Troi catches her first glimpse of the comet.
9. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 9.
Picard stands in the center of the bridge, looking at the main screen; on screen we see the comet. Data and Worf man their usual stations; supernumerary officers as needed. The aft turbolift door opens and Riker enters the bridge. Doors close behind him.

RIKER
Geordi say he’s ready to begin, sir.

PICARD
Right. Mister Worf, are the torpedoes set?

WORF
Aye, sir.

PICARD
Set them to detonate three kilometers behind the nucleus of the comet. Fire when ready.

Picard and Riker take their seats; Worf, after punching a few keys at his station, fires the torpedoes.

WORF
Torpedoes away. Detonation in four seconds.

10. EXT. SPACE – THE COMET (optical) 10.
The comet seems to plow slowly through space; three photon torpedoes reach the same point behind the comet and explode; the shock wave of their explosion pushes the comet faster in the direction it was already going.
11. INT. ENGINEERING (optical) 11.
Geordi, Trammest and Gorsinne are crowded around a display on the main control table in engineering; a wide grin crosses Geordi’s face. Trammest and Gorsinne are apprehensive, but hopeful.

GEORDI
Right on target. The velocity of the comet has increased by ten percent, and the detonation of the torpedoes didn’t ignite any significant amount of the gas tail.

Geordi turns to Trammest and Gorsinne happily.

GEORDI
I think it’s going to work.

12. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 12.
Picard stands quickly and walks forward between conn and ops; in the background, Riker is monitoring the situation on his computer terminal; everyone else is where they were moments ago.

PICARD
Ensign, follow the comet at a distance of twelve thousand kilometers. Mister Worf, set the next batch of torpedoes at low yield. We’ll give the comet another push in twenty minutes.

WORF
Aye, sir.

Riker looks up from his console.

RIKER
After a couple more torpedo volleys, the comet should reach the target velocity and arrive at Alpha Lythera Six in under a day.

PICARD
Any danger of the comet gaining too much velocity?

RIKER
Not yet, though I’d recommend setting the third batch of torpedoes at a lower yield just to be safe.

Data looks back at Riker from his station.

DATA
Sir, the third volley of photon torpedoes will have to be configured identically in order to sufficiently change the comet’s course as it enters the vicinity of Lythera Six.

Picrad looks at Data; Picard and Riker then give each other an uneasy glance.

WORF
Torpedoes configured and loaded, Captain.

PICARD
Stand by, Mister Worf.

13. INT. ENGINEERING (optical) 13.
Trammest looks over Geordi’s shoulder at a display on the central console; Gorsinne mans another set of controls.

TRAMMEST
We’re coming up on the next event.

GEORDI
La Forge to bridge – forty-eight seconds to second stage.

DATA
(com voice) Acknowledged.

14. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 14.
Everything is as it was before; Picard still stands between conn and ops, looking at the main viewscreen.

DATA
Second event in six seconds.
(pause)
Four…three…two…one.

PICARD
Fire, Mister Worf.

Worf fires the torpedoes and looks up from his station.

WORF
Torpedoes away…and detonated on target. Comet’s velocity has increased as calculated.

Picard glances around the bridge, pleased with the progress of the mission so far. He returns to face the viewscreen.

PICARD
Mister Data, how long to the final stage of the operation?

DATA
Two hours, thirty-seven minutes.

Riker stands and walks over next to Picard.

RIKER
It all seems so easy so far.

PICARD
Yes. And I hope it remains that way. Perhaps we should contact Alpha Lythera Six and inform them of our progress.

RIKER
(cautiously) I wouldn’t want to get their hopes up too much.

PICARD
Agreed. Perhaps…our liaison to the Lytherans could offer some advice on whether we should contact them or not?

Riker’s confidence dwindles a bit.

RIKER
I suppose I could go and ask him.

PICARD
Very good. We have plenty of time until the next step of the plan.

Picard gives Riker a glance of dismissal; Riker heads for the aft turbolift. Turbolift doors open and Riker steps inside; doors close behind him.

PICARD
Mister Worf, prepare the next torpedoes for the third stage.

WORF
Aye, sir.

15. SICK BAY – DR. CRUSHER’S OFFICE (optical) 15.
Dr. Crusher is at her desk, absorbed in a display on the computer terminal there; Riker appears in the doorway, unnoticed by her.

RIKER
Doctor?

Dr. Crusher is momentarily startled and beckons Riker to enter, turning the computer screen around so he can take a look at it.

BEVERLY
I’m glad you stopped by. I’ve been figuring out what the effects would be if the atmosphere of Alpha Lythera Six is damaged by the comet passing too close.

Riker looks over the display quickly, but not long enough to absorb any of the information.

RIKER
Hopefully we won’t get to find out whether or not you’ve come up with the right figures here.
[absent pause]
I just thought I’d drop in for a second and check. I just had a conversation with our liasion to the Lytherans…
[sudden change of pace]
Do you mind if I talk to you for a second?

Crusher catches the unspecified change of subject quickly and nods; Riker pulls up a seat and sits across from her at the desk.

RIKER
I understand that you know Doctor del Vuir from Starfleet Medical.

Crusher’s expression changes quickly; she’s surprised by the subject of the conversation, and though it’s obvious that she isn’t too fond of that subject, her reaction is cool but forced.

BEVERLY
I’ve met her, yes. A few times.

RIKER
And?

Crusher is a little uneasy.

BEVERLY
What are you getting at, Will?

RIKER
Promise not to lose all respect for me, but my father’s about to marry her.

Crusher leans back in her seat, surprised but understanding the predicament. She winds up with a wry smile.

BEVERLY
If it weren’t for professional courtesy, I’d offer my sincerest condolences. But, of course, I must observe professional courtesy.

Riker is put at ease by her attitude.

RIKER
Condolences accepted.

BEVERLY
Will, come on. You and I may not like her, but…we’re not going to have to put up with her.

RIKER
I’m more worried about my father. He’s been out of sorts since we picked him up from Alpha Lythera Six, and all of a sudden, there’s this marriage in the works…
[a beat]
Something about it just seems so rushed.

BEVERLY
It could have something to do with the Lytheran custom of detaching oneself from emotional attachment.

RIKER
If that’s the case, I still don’t buy it. Doctor del Vuir isn’t much better – she’s probably got all of this planned out as a career move. Head of Starfleet Medical, soon to be married to one of the top tactical advisors in the Federation.

BEVERLY
(bluntly) And stepmother of the first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise.

RIKER
(sourly) Thanks for reminding me.

BEVERLY
Are you sure that you’re not just embarassed about how those of us who know Doctor del Vuir will perceive you once she is a member of your family?

RIKER
(changing tack) Do you mind if I pry a little?

BEVERLY
You want to know what my story is with her, right?

Riker nods.

BEVERLY
About ten months after I had been in charge of Starfleet Medical, I finally handed in my request for a transfer back here, to the Enterprise, to be with my son. I was to nominate a replacement for my position at Starfleet.
[Pause]
And along comes Rhea del Vuir, who points out that she would be ideal for the job because she has no children to…”distract” her. I think I would rather have handed the job to Doctor Jlegdar or even Kate Pulaski.

After a tense pause, Riker lets out a pent-up breath in anger.

RIKER
Do you see what I mean? That’s the kind of —

Crusher interrupts him:

BEVERLY
Will, if I were you, I wouldn’t be embarassed about it. Your secret is safe with me. Listen – I have every reason in the world to dislike Doctor del Vuir. Maybe not as much as you do, but I have my reason. I will think no less of you when she is married to your father.

Riker is weighing this in his mind as she continues.

BEVERLY
If it bothers you that much, I’ll never mention her name again as long as you and I know each other. But if you’re worried about your image or your reputation, the best thing you can do for yourself is lie low and try not to make your disagreement with your father a visible one. That will only hurt you. If it bothers you this much, you can always do what you did when you were old enough to enroll in the Academy. You can leave your father behind and not talk to him ever again.
[pause]
But if that’s the course of action you’re considering, think about how you said Doctor del Vuir is like the Lytherans. Think about it very carefully, and examine your own situation.

Riker thinks on it further in silence as the communicator breaks into the conversation:

PICARD
(com voice) Picard to Riker. Report to the conference lounge immediately.

Riker taps his communicator, surprised by the instruction.

RIKER
Sir?

PICARD
(com voice) Commander, the Federation liasion to the Lytherans has just resigned.
[pause]
We have no advisor to help us in our diplomatic contact with the Lytherans.

Riker is amazed, furious, embarassed and alarmed simultaneously. After Crusher gives him a quick glance indicating that he should go now, Riker stands and heads out the door.

RIKER
On my way, sir.

Fade out

END OF ACT THREE

——————————————————————————–

ACT FOUR

Fade in:
16. INT. CONFERENCE LOUNGE (optical) 16.
Picard, Kyle and Troi stand in the conference room, as if they’ve only just arrived.
The door opens and Riker enters quickly, striding over to Kyle immediately.

RIKER
(tersely) What the hell is going on here?

Picard tries to steady the situation, aware that there’s probably more that Riker and Kyle would like to argue than the business at hand:

PICARD
Number One…we need to arrive at some kind of compromise as soon as possible. It would not be in our best interests for myself or Counselor Troi to try to pick up where your father has left off without some idea of what to say and how to say it.

Riker still displays impatience.

RIKER
Dad, what do you think you’re doing?

Kyle seems confident, but not unstable; whatever’s on his mind, he seems set on it.

KYLE
Will, calm down. And try to understand. I’ve cut my ties to the Lytherans.

Picard is surprised but a little less worried.

PICARD
You did it their way, then?

KYLE
Yes. They were not offended in the slightest. They’re ready to accept the next Federation liaison.

RIKER
Well that’s just the problem, isn’t it, Dad? Do we have anyone ready to step in for you?

Picard and Troi glance at each other, thinking the same thing. Picard taps his communicator, distracting Riker and Kyle, both of whom turn to look at him.

PICARD
Commander Data to the conference lounge, immediately.

DATA
(com voice) Aye, sir.

PICARD
(to Troi) Counselor, I would like you and Data to conduct all further communications with the Lytherans.

The doors open and Data enters and stands awaiting some further instructions.

PICARD
Data, I’m assigning you to serve as temporary Federation liaison to the Lytherans for the duration of our presence in their system. Counselor Troi will assist you, and feel free to ask Mr. Riker any questions about the Lytherans.

Data nods, a little surprised, but, of course, not showing this much.

DATA
Aye, sir.
[to Kyle]
I do have many questions, sir.

Kyle smiles a grim little smile, but maintains his composure.

KYLE
Me too. But I’ll do my best to answer them.

This elicits a curious glance from Data, but nothing more. Picard motions to Riker and Troi that it’s time to leave the room. Door opens; Picard, Riker and Troi exit. Data and Kyle carry on their conversation in the background as the doors close.
17. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 17.
Picard, Riker and Troi enter from the conference lounge door; the door closes behind them as they take their usual posts, Picard preferring to stand in the center of the bridge. Worf, as always, remains at tactical; others as needed.

PICARD
Time to final event, Mister Worf?

WORF
One hour, forty minutes. Photon torpedoes have been configured and are standing by.

Before anyone can say another word, the aft turbolift door opens, and Geordi, Trammest and Gorsinne step out; Geordi looks a little frustrated. Picard is mildly surprised to see them. The turbolift door closes behind them.

PICARD
Commander La Forge?

GEORDI
Sir, I —

TRAMMEST
(interrupting) Captain Picard, Gorsinne and I request permission to beam back to Alpha Lythera Six.

There is a quick pause and some expressions of confusion and surprise from the bridge crew; Gorsinne almost looks apologetic as she picks up for Trammest:

GORSINNE
Captain, we appreciate the help you and your crew have offered us, but we should be on our planet when the comet arrives.

Picard searches for a gentle way to respond and stumbles a bit.

PICARD
I don’t wish to imply that our effort is not progressing satisfactorily, but you might be safer aboard the Enterprise.

Gorsinne and Trammest nod in appreciation.

GORSINNE
We appreciate the gesture, Captain, but when the crucial moment arrives for Alpha Lythera Six, that’s where we need to be.

Picard understands and glances quickly to Riker and Geordi, as if silently gesturing for them not to argue.

PICARD
Very well. We shall beam you back immediately.
[a beat]
Good luck to both of you, and your people.

Smiling, Geordi interjects casually:

GEORDI
Hopefully, once all of this is done, we can all get back together and relax again.

Troi and Riker shoot each other a quick “uh-oh” expression – no one’s told Geordi about Lytheran relations, and he’s probably about to find out the hard way.

GEORDI
Captain, request permission to transport Trammest and Gorsinne back home.

Picard also feels the uneasiness that Riker and Troi are showing, but hides it.

PICARD
Permission granted, Commander.

Geordi gives Trammest a friendly pat on the back and steps aside so Trammest and Gorsinne can return to the aft turbolift. As aft turbolift door opens to allow Geordi, Gorsinne and Trammest to exit, the conference lounge door opens; Data and Kyle enter, and step into the center of the bridge with Picard.

PICARD
Mister Data?

DATA
I believe I have assimilated the basics of the Lytheran culture with the help of Mister Riker, sir. I am prepared to serve as acting Federation liaison to Alpha Lythera Six.

Data relieves supernumerary officer of his usual console; Kyle and Riker regard each other with equal parts bitterness and sadness in the background; Picard takes his seat again and makes a quiet remark:

PICARD
Let’s hope your first official function doesn’t have to be an apology, Data.

Data ponders for barely a second on why he’d need to apologize, but when he understands that the only circumstance which would now require an apology would leave no one to apologize to, he answers quickly.

DATA
Yes, sir.

18. INT. TRANSPORTER ROOM (optical) 18.
N.D. Transporter Tech is on duty.
The door opens, and Geordi, Gorsinne and Trammest enter from the corridor; Geordi motions for Trammest and Gorsinne to step onto the platform, which they do. Geordi steps back so that he’s standing in front of the control console.

TRAMMEST
We thank you for your help, Commander La Forge.

Geordi is still casually smiling, as usual.

GEORDI
Don’t worry. We’re not going to let anything go wrong here.

Trammest and Gorsinne smile and nod politely. There’s an awkward pause as they look at each other; Geordi, unable to really figure out what else to say, turns to the transporter tech to give an order, but is interrupted. This time, there is no regret, no apologetic tone, but just a businesslike declaration:

GORSINNE
Our relationship with those aboard this vessel is hereby concluded.

Geordi’s jaw drops in surprise, but Trammest and Gorsinne have made it clear that there’s apparently nothing more to say. Trying – but not succeeding entirely – to keep the pain and quiet outrage from his voice:

GEORDI
Energize.

Transporter Tech nods and operates the controls; Gorsinne and Trammest disappear in the transporter beam. Geordi heads for the door, which opens in front of him, as he continues trying to figure out what’s just happened. Geordi exits.
19. EXT. SPACE – THE COMET (optical) 19.
The Enterprise keeps her distance in the background, but follows steadily.

20. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 20.
Picard, Riker, Troi, Worf and Data man their usual stations; Geordi is seated at the aft engineering console. Kyle sits quietly at the seat next to Riker’s, avoiding eye contact with anyone. Geordi is also keeping very much to himself. Data reads a notice off from his station:

DATA
We will penetrate Lythera Six’s magnetic bow shock in two minutes.

RIKER
Increase power to forward shields.

Worf operates the controls at his console quickly.

WORF
Forward power increased.

PICARD
Time to the final stage, Mister Data?

DATA
Twenty-eight minutes.
[pause]
Forty-one seconds to bow shock.

A couple of tense seconds pass, and the bridge “lurches” very slightly, forcing everyone to hang on to their seats and/or consoles; the ship rights herself again quickly.

RIKER
Damage report?

Worf quickly checks his readouts; no sooner has he started to answer, a signal sounds from the tactical and engineering stations.

WORF
No damage or casualties reported on any —

GEORDI
Wait a minute, I’m getting a strange reading from the guidance system. I don’t think it’s a major problem…
[a beat]
I’ll check it out in engineering.

Geordi gets up quickly from his seat and heads for the aft turbolift doors, which open to admit him. Troi seems to make a quick decision and suddenly follows Geordi into the turbolift. As the turbolift doors close, Picard stands and walks forward until he stands next to Data.

PICARD
(to himself) We can’t afford a mistake this far into the game…

21. INT. ENGINEERING (optical) 21.
Geordi enters, with Troi not far behind; even though they must have arrived in the same turbolift, it doesn’t look as though they have even spoken yet, and Geordi doesn’t particularly look as if he wants any counseling at the moment, continuing to walk ahead of her until he arrives in his office and busily begins to check the readouts. Troi stands behind him, sensing that he’s not in the mood to talk, so she tries to start Geordi off on a different topic:

TROI
Do you think the torpedo guidance systems might have been momentarily affected by the bow shock?

Geordi is mildly surprised – he wouldn’t have expected that from the ship’s counselor. Somehow, though Geordi still expects some inquiry into his emotional state, he lets his guard down a bit.

GEORDI
It may have just been the sensors. I’m still trying to track down that anomaly.
[a beat] Can I help you, Counselor?

TROI
I was going to ask you that.

Geordi knows he’s left himself open for it now. He replies with a vague hint of bitter sarcasm.

GEORDI
No, I’m fine, Deanna. Why shouldn’t I be? You make friends, you try to save their planet, your friends leave suddenly in a cloud of ceremony vowing never to speak to you again… it’s the old, old story.

TROI
(rhetorically) I’m not going to remind you that the Lytheran culture has its own way of dealing with relationships. Nobody on this ship seems to want to hear that today.

GEORDI
Well, fortunately, most of the people on board this ship seem to have a better grasp on what friendship means to humans.

TROI
Perhaps. But friendship apparently means something different to them. It stands for old, misguided political and social loyalties in their world, family ties and old, forgotten debts called in for personal gain.

GEORDI
Where did you hear that?

TROI
Data mentioned it during his search of Lytheran cultural references to help him act as our new Federation liasion to their world.

GEORDI
(surprised) Data? What happened to Kyle Riker?

TROI
He resigned so he could be sure to get back to Earth in time for his wedding.

Geordi seems to have made a discovery in his examination of the control panel, and continues the conversation somewhat absently:

GEORDI
Didn’t know he was getting married.

TROI
You’ve found something?

GEORDI
Definitely a problem with the torpedo guidance system. Someone’ll have to direct the final stage manually! I need to get to the bridge.

Almost leaving Troi well behind him, Geordi half-runs out of his office, heading for the nearest turbolift.

22. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 22.
Picard, Riker, Data and Worf man their usual stations; other bridge crew as needed.

DATA
Eleven minutes to final torpedo launch.

PICARD
Bridge to La Forge. Have you found anything, Commander?

GEORDI
(com voice) Aye, sir, I’m on my way to the bridge now. We have a problem.

Picard and Riker exchange a weary glance – things may not turn out so rosy after all.
23. INT. TURBOLIFT (optical) 23.
Geordi and Troi stand in the moving turbolift, already en route to the bridge.

GEORDI
Counselor, does Data know about this Lytheran custom of jettisoning friendships?

TROI
Of course he does. It turned up in his research.

GEORDI
I hope he’s prepared to deal with that when we’re all through. The next person who has to say goodbye to the Lytherans deserves a fair warning.

TROI
Geordi, if you think about it for a moment, I believe you’ll find that Data is uniquely qualified to handle that sort of relationship. If he’s aware that serving as the Lytheran liaison requires him to sever all contact with them after this mission, Data can handle that. In fact, if one of us told Data to discontinue a relationship without any questions, Data could do it.

Geordi nods slowly, still not able to fully believe the idea – or, for that matter, like it.
24. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 24.
Picard and Riker are standing at the aft stations, along with supernumerary officers, looking at the results of their mission so far on the screens. Worf and Data man their usual stations. Aft turbolift doors open; Geordi and Troi step out onto the bridge and the doors close behind them. Picard and Riker walk toward them.

PICARD
Geordi?

GEORDI
Captain, the yield of the last salvo of torpedoes was too high by just enough. If we fire the next round as we had planned earlier, the comet will end up moving too fast…it’ll rip the atmosphere right away from Lythera Six.

RIKER
Can we reset the torpedoes’ yield?

GEORDI
Not enough time. But we can manually direct the next volley to detonate further away from the comet than we’d planned earlier. It’ll have to be done very carefully, though. Data could probably handle it.

DATA
Time to final stage: eleven minutes, thirty-two seconds.

PICARD
What’s our margin of error here, Commander?

GEORDI
If one torpedo makes it too close to the comet, the other torpedoes could be detonated further away to compensate. But if two or three get too close before detonating, we’re in deep trouble.

Picard, Riker and Troi move down to the center of the bridge; Geordi stands next to Worf at tactical, looking ahead at the comet on the viewscreen.

PICARD
Then the entire population of Alpha Lythera Six is in an even worse predicament.
[a long pause]
Commander Data, contact Krunnoc and tell him…to get everyone to safety.

Picard sits in his chair heavily, trying hard not to anticipate the worst.

PICARD
Not that it will do them much good if we fail.

DATA
Aye, sir.

Fade out

END OF ACT FOUR

——————————————————————————–

ACT FIVE

Fade in:
25. INT. BRIDGE (optical) 25.
Picard, Riker, Troi, Worf and Geordi are huddled around Worf’s tactical station, with Geordi in the center, explaining to them:

GEORDI
The best insurance we have that the explosion of the torpedoes won’t get the comet going too fast is to make sure that none of them detonate within eight hundred meters of the nucleus of the comet.

The conference room doors open and Data enters, joining the others.

RIKER
And to make sure they don’t explode too close to each other and create a more powerful shock wave?

GEORDI
We’ll have to make sure none of the torpedoes detonate within three hundred meters of another torpedo.

PICARD
Sounds tricky.

GEORDI
It will be. This third volley will consist of seven torpedoes, so it’ll take some concentration to monitor all of them.

DATA
Captain, Krunnoc has requested my presence on Alpha Lythera Six.

TROI
I’ll go to the planet. Data’s needed here.

DATA
He specifically requested me, Counselor.

RIKER
Could each of us direct one or two of the torpedoes manually?

GEORDI
It’s possible, but that’s gonna be real touchy. You’ll not only have to keep an eye on your own torpedoes, but make sure that everyone else’s are a safe distance away. The computer can reconfigure every available station to guidance control.

PICARD
We’re three minutes away from the final stage. I don’t see that we have much choice.

RIKER
Agreed.

WORF
We are now within transporter range of Alpha Lythera Six.

DATA
I will beam down immediately.

Data starts toward the aft turbolift door.

PICARD
Good luck, Commander.

Data pauses to consider as the aft turbolift door opens; just before exiting to the turbolift:

DATA
And to you, sir.

Data exits and the door closes. Worf and Geordi begin working at the tactical station; Picard, Riker and Troi return to the center of the bridge.

WORF
Aft science stations configured for tactical guidance.

GEORDI
Checks out okay. Reconfiguring ops console.

Aft turbolift doors open and Kyle enters, walking to the center of the bridge. As usual of late, Kyle’s presence does not elicit a friendly response from Riker, who steps over to Kyle:

RIKER
(quietly) Dad, this isn’t a good time. We’re about a minute away from trying to save that planet virtually be remote control, and we don’t need the distraction.

GEORDI
(in background) Ops reconfigured. Reconfiguring command consoles…

Picard and Troi sit in their chairs, Picard checking his “arm rest” controls and Troi examining her console as Geordi and Worf continue working in the background.

KYLE
Will, I know you probably hold me personally responsible for what’s happening –

RIKER
(interrupting) There’s a lot I hold you personally responsible for, Dad, but this is not the place or the time.

Kyle suddenly looks over at Picard, who has been absorbed in other matters.

KYLE
Captain Picard, could you use an extra hand here?

Picard realizes that Kyle’s trying to help, though he also keeps in mind that it may just be a tactic to annoy Riker; he looks up apologetically:

PICARD
We probably could, but this is going to be a very tricky operation best left in the hands of my crew.

Kyle seems disappointed; Riker sits down and begins checking over his own console.

KYLE
Ah.

PICARD
I do appreciate the offer of help, however.
[pause]
You may observe if you wish.

Riker looks up briefly to catch a satisfied smile from Kyle, who sits in the unoccupied seat next to Riker’s.

GEORDI
Command consoles reconfigured. Checking communications links with tactical guidance system.

WORF
One minute, twenty seconds.

PICARD
Go to red alert, Lieutenant. All hands, stand by. Conn…have a course standing by to take us out of the Lytheran system should it become necessary.

As the conn officer prepares an escape route, Geordi moves toward one of the aft science consoles along with N.D. crewmember. Red alert lights, bells and whistles begin.

GEORDI
All available consoles configured for tactical guidance control. We’re as ready as we can be, sir.

PICARD
Understood, Commander. Good work.

Geordi nods quickly and begins explaining the operation to N.D. crewmember in background. Everyone keeps a close eye on their control panels and the tension thickens.

WORF
Twenty-three seconds to launch.

PICARD
Everyone stay sharp. Fire when ready, Mister Worf.

26. EXT. SPACE – THE ENTERPRISE AND COMET (optical) 26.
The Enterprise launches a volley of photon torpedoes. They split into multiple projectiles and streak toward the comet…

27. INT. MAIN BRIDGE (optical) 27.
Picard, Troi, Riker, Worf, Geordi, N.D. Ops officer and N.D. crewmember work intently at their stations. Kyle watches Riker’s station, almost holding his breath.
A glimpse at a computer display shows several clusters of torpedoes approaching the comet very quickly. Everyone works quickly to keep their torpedoes on course.

WORF
Counselor, you are in position.

TROI
Detonating.

Troi presses a key on her control, and the display shows a couple of torpedoes exploding out in front of the comet; the shock waves are displayed, seeming to slow the comet down.

WORF
Commander La Forge, you and Ensign Vaughn next.

GEORDI
Detonating…now.

The display shows two more clusters exploding either side of and slightly forward of the comet; again, the torpedoes’ shock waves slow the comet down.

WORF
Captain, your torpedoes are too close.

PICARD
(to himself) Ease off…ease off…steady as she goes.

WORF
Detonating.

Worf detonates his own torpedoes to the right of the comet, changing its course slightly.

WORF
The comet is on course for Alpha Lythera Six.

An alarm goes off at Picard’s controls; he looks more than a little alarmed.

PICARD
I have a malfunction in one of my torpedoes, Mister La Forge!

Geordi rushes to Worf’s side and checks the tactical station.

GEORDI
Damn! The casing on that torpedo is structurally unsound. Captain, get your torpedoes out of the race now! They’ll speed her right back up!

Picard, calm but worried, adjusts his controls. On the tactical display, his cluster of torpedoes veers off until they are behind the Enterprise at quite a distance. Only Riker’s are left.
Suddenly, an explosion is heard and the bridge lurches giddily to one side, depositing nearly everyone on the floor. Riker tries to hang on to his console but lands on the floor despite his best efforts. Kyle takes control quickly as Riker claws his way back to his chair. The bridge slowly rights itself and everyone begins to get back up.

WORF
Detonate the last torpedoes now!

Riker reaches his station and gives Kyle a look that shows equal parts resentment and lack of confidence. Despite this, Kyle presses the button and the graphic display shows the final torpedo cluster exploding.

PICARD
What happened?

GEORDI
The casing on that faulty torpedo of yours gave out. We sustained minor damage.

PICARD
The comet, Mister Worf?

WORF
On course. Sensors are realigning themselves – I am uncertain if the comet has slowed to a safe speed.

RIKER
(to Kyle) What have you done?

KYLE
(helplessly) I picked up where you left off, Will!

PICARD
On screen, Lieutenant.

28. EXT. SPACE – ALPHA LYTHERA SIX AND THE COMET (optical) 28.
The comet seems to race toward the planet, yet is almost moving in slow motion…
29. INT. MAIN BRIDGE (optical) 29.
Picard, Troi, Riker and Kyle stand in the center of the bridge, watching the above on the main viewscreen. At tactical, Worf and Geordi watch on as well; all eyes are on the comet.
A beeper sounds at tactical. Worf checks it.

WORF
Communications blackout with Alpha Lythera Six.

Kyle screws his eyes shut. Whatever happens is probably on his head and he knows it. The rest of the crew watches nervously.

WORF
The comet has made its closest approach.

PICARD
Conditions on the planet?

WORF
Atmospheric turbulence.

RIKER
(quietly) My God, no.

WORF
The turbulence is subsiding. The comet appears to be taking up a stationary orbit ahead of Alpha Lythera Six.

Picard almost hesitates to give his next order. He doesn’t want to hear bad news now:

PICARD
Are we able to reach Alpha Lythera Six, Lieutenant?

WORF
Aye, sir. Visual communications are impossible due to residual effects of the comet’s passage.

PICARD
Enterprise to Data. Come in.

There is a long pause and the sound of interference. Troi looks nervously at Picard; Riker, feeling personally responsible, lowers his gaze to the floor. Kyle listens with concern, but has now become more detached than ever – it all seems like a bad dream now.
Then:

DATA
(com voice) Data to Enterprise. Are you receiving me?

Picard can’t hold back from breaking into a grin.

PICARD
Gladly, Commander. What is your status?

DATA
(com voice) Few casualties among the populace have been reported. Tidal stresses caused some minor structural damage and flooding. Tricorder scans show that the atmosphere is assimilating the rephirodoxide as predicted.

There is a pause; Data now speaks awkwardly, as if unsure of whether he’s saying the right thing or not:

DATA
(com voice) There is every indication that Alpha Lythera Six is…”A – O.K.,” sir.

Riker raises an eyebrow. Kyle grins sheepishly.

KYLE
(quietly) Oops…I guess I should watch my language when I’m briefing that one.

PICARD
Geordi, can transporters operate in the residual interference?

GEORDI
Probably not. I can take a shuttle down and get him.

PICARD
Proceed. Commander Data, we’re sending a shuttle down to retrieve you. Enteprise out.

Geordi heads for the aft turbolift; door opens, Geordi exits to the lift; door closes.
Picard and Troi sit down again, Picard doing so rather heavily. Riker steps over to Picard.

RIKER
Captain, this may not be the best time to ask…

PICARD
(curious) But…?

RIKER
I want to request about a week and a half shore leave.
[pause]
I have a wedding to attend.

The news surprises Kyle and Picard both; Troi quietly smiles at Riker, probably having predicted this all along.

PICARD
Permission granted.

RIKER
It seems I need to pick up where I left off as well.

Picard stands and extends a hand to Kyle, who accepts and shakes.

PICARD
Congratulations, Mister Riker.

KYLE
You sure you don’t want to come as well, Captain? Everyone’s invited.

Picard nervously backs out, much to Riker and Troi’s amusement:

PICARD
Ah…no, thank you very much, I… I have my duties.

30. EXT. SPACE – ALPHA LYTHERA SIX (optical) 30.
An Enterprise shuttlecraft departs from the planet and heads for space.
31. INT. SHUTTLECRAFT (optical) 31.
Geordi mans the helm quietly. Data observes both Geordi’s piloting and his behavior.

DATA
Geordi?

GEORDI
Yeah, Data.

DATA
I have noticed that you have seemed preoccupied ever since the Lytherans left the Enterprise.
[pause]
Is there something you wish to talk about?

GEORDI
You almost sound like Counselor Troi.

DATA
That phrase does seem to be most effective for her.

GEORDI
I’m just a little upset by how the Lytherans go about things, Data. I have a hard time seeing how anyone could handle friendship and love in …in such a mechanical way.

DATA
It seems that their past experience indicates that their current society is most appropriate in the present.

There is a silence. Geordi turns to Data, still disturbed.

GEORDI
Let me put it to you this way, Data. In all likelihood, you will outlive me. Will you just…erase some relationship-oriented program then? Will I just be under a file in your memory banks? I know you can’t feel emotions…but I don’t understand how anyone can just…”turn off” friendship like that.

Data pauses to consider his answer, and Geordi notices Data’s inability to come up with one at this point. Geordi seems worried for a moment, but then smiles:

GEORDI
Well, no matter what you say about your programming, I’ll never believe you could just eliminate friendship with someone just like that. Once you’ve made a friend or fallen in love…well, it’s real easy to get used to that feeling.

Data ponders this a while longer. A page signal emits from the shuttlecraft controls.

PICARD
(com voice) Enterprise to shuttlecraft six. Commander La Forge, when you arrive, Commander Riker and his father will be taking the shuttle to rendezvous with the Chapman, so don’t shut your engines down first thing when you arrive. Enterprise out.

Geordi glances at Data, hoping his point has been proven.

GEORDI
It looks like Commander Riker’s going back home to see his father get married. Someone else who can’t quite turn their feelings off.

DATA
It would appear that you were correct.

32. EXT. SPACE – SHUTTLECRAFT AND ENTERPRISE (optical) 32. The shuttlecraft heads home.

Fade out

All Star Trek characters and placenames are © Paramount Pictures.

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