Stardate 46307.2: The Enterprise arrives at Tyrus 7A to observe a new experimental method of mining, the particle fountain, which uses a stream of high-density particles to extract and lift planet-based ore from an orbiting station. A malfunction occurs while Geordi is visiting the station, and Dr. Farallon, the ambitious head of the particle fountain project, introduces her other innovation, a small repair robot called an exo-comp, which is able to correct the problem almost instantly. Later, while Data is visiting the station, another accident happens and Data notices an exo-comp exhibiting a will to survive. Data hypothesizes that the exo-comps are living beings with their own intelligence, and possibly the beginnings of sentience. But when he asked to prove that the exo-comps are alive, one of them appears to fail a test on the Enterprise, but has actually realized that it is being tested, and is therefore intelligent and alive, though Dr. Farallon refuses to acknowledge the exo-comps’ status. A crisis strands Picard and Geordi on the station, endangered by rising radiation levels, and Farallon proposes a solution which would amount to a suicide mission for the exo-comps. When the crew prepares to implement the solution and save Picard and Geordi, Data stands in the way of the rescue operation to protect the exo-comps’ rights.
written by Naren Shankar
based upon material by L.J. Scott
directed by Jonathan Frakes
music by Dennis McCarthy
Guest Cast: Ellen Bry (Dr. Farallon), J. Downing (Tyran Scientist), David Windsor (Transporter Chief Kelso), Majel Barrett (Computer voice)
LogBook entry by Earl Green