This is part five of the story. To see part one go back a few posts.
Riker develops some unusually shaped warts on his back after a transporter malfunction. Dr Crusher says they’re benign but the commander wants them lanced anyway because they’re gross.
Commander Riker sits in the ready room trying to think of a way out of their current predicament. They know where they need to go, but without warp it would take a year to get there. And more fuel than they have.
On top of that, they still have the Sztazzan to deal with. Which gives Riker an idea. The starfleet crew knows where to go. The Sztazzan crew has the means to get there. If he could just convince the insectoids to work together, both groups would (hopefully) get home in one piece.
The trick is convincing the Sztazzan. And they are not a species that is easily convinced.
Commander Riker explains the idea to give the Sztazzan the coordinates in exchange for being brought inside their shields when they go to warp. The Sztazzan balk at this idea as it would leave them wide open to attack.
They threaten to simply take over the saucer and steal the coordinates, but Riker assures them he would destroy the info before the Sztazzan ever got a chance to use it.
He gives the Sztazzan time to think it over, and closes the channel.
The insectoids believe Riker to be lying as they believe all humans do, but one speaks up. He was on the surface and saw Lt. Oliver save the Sztazzan that had been trapped under rubble. It convinced him maybe humans aren’t all bad.
Alexander plays by himself in his quarters. Although the play is more going through the motions and not really fun. His head is down and he looks rather dejected.
Mr. Mot stops by for a visit to see how the boy is holding up. The Bolian appraises Alexander of the situation with the Sztazzan and how they know where to go but have no way to get there.
As they discuss it, the barber gets an idea, but surely Commander Riker would have thought of it by now… Alexander begs to hear what this plan is.
Alexander takes Mr. Mot’s idea and rushes to tell Commander Riker all about it. He sits across from Will in the ready room and relays the brilliant plan to give the coordinates to the Sztazzan in exchange for them bringing the saucer with them.
Riker praises the boy for such an ingenious solution, but Alexander readily admits it was Mot’s idea and that the barber was just too shy to say anything.
Will humors the child and tells him the plan is so good hes gonna use it right now!
Riker leads Alexander off the bridge and once he’s gone Lt. D’Sora informs the commander that the Sztazzan have agreed to the arrangement.
On the battle bridge, things aren’t going as well. They’ve lost shields and phasers and even have a couple of hull breeches but luckily no casualties so far.
Captain Picard determines enough is enough and orders the away team back so they can flee the area.
On the other side of the galaxy (or wherever they are) the Federation and Sztazzan crews work together on the second sphere. The team has found the communications hub but it isn’t compatible with either crew’s technology.
O’Brien figures they can communicate with the other sphere, though. If the away team is still on there, they have a chance to work with them and get home.
O’Brien patches through to the other sphere as Data signals for Mr. Burke to beam them aboard. Upon hearing the chief’s voice come through, Data belays the order just in time.
Captain Picard is quick to hail the away team and ask why they have disobeyed a direct order to return to the ship. Data explains Chief O’Brien has established communications, and Miles explains the situation on their end.
Geordi realizes if they can receive transmissions from the other sphere, they can pinpoint its location and use this sphere to bring the missing people back.
Picard agrees to wait just a little longer, and pulls out a few more tricks from his sleeve to give the Sztazzan the slip once more.
Data quickly establishes the coordinates of the missing vessels, and Geordi activates the sphere’s transporter system once O’Brien and the others have safely returned to their ships.
In a flash of light, the saucer section and Sztazzan flagship re-appear in about the same place they had left. Picard immediately orders Riker to beam up the away team and get out of there before the Sztazzan destroy them all, but Riker informs Captain Picard that they have a truce.
The Sztazzan leader notes Picard’s surprise at the ceasefire and mentions his own colleagues were equally confused, but they didn’t get to interact with Lt. Oliver like his crew did. She was instrumental in establishing a relationship of trust.
In that spirit, he has called for an end to hostilies. Picard gladly agrees and repeats his previous invitation to work together to discover what they can about the sphere.
Picard returns to speaking with Commander Riker and commends him on impressing the Sztazzan. He thanks the captain but says it was really Lt. Oliver that deserves the bulk of the credit.
And his chief strategist: Mot the Barber.
This story seems to be over but not yet! There are some loose ends to wrap up.
I hope Geordi is able to go back and win that billiards tournament. Or, even better, Deanna wins in his place.
This story did a good job focusing on the relationship between Worf and Alexander and how much the two really care for each other. It’s too bad we never saw Worf act so concerned over his son’s welfare in the actual show. If they had more of this, maybe Worf wouldn’t have earned his terrible father reputation.
Seems a lot of people weren’t too keen on the Ardra storyline. I admit it wasn’t my favorite either (a lot of it having to do with Picard just not being characterized properly imo). This writer made his complaints into a list:
On the next page he goes on to say my favorite point: “9. I won’t even comment on the idea that the laundryman wouldn’t find it strange that his cart is now 300 pounds heavier than usual”
I don’t find Ardra an annoying character (I kinda get a kick out of all the women who give Jean-Luc a hard time), but the story itself had a lot of “really??” moments for me. Guess I wasn’t alone!
I still think Picard punching a truck driver while he is driving to be the most ludicrous part of the story.
The editor also likes to answer questions even if there’s no room to print the full letter. There apparently were some interesting ones submitted this time
Bring back Lore? Uhhh YES. If I could travel back in time I would so have written in to say this.
Also found it very interesting to see them say there are various races of Klingons. Especially since we didn’t really see evidence of that until Discovery over 20 years after this was printed!