Captain's log, stardate 41590.5. Having dropped off Counsellor Troi at
Starbase G6 for a shuttle to visit home, we were fortunately close to
the Sigma Three solar system when its Federation colony transmitted an
urgent call for medical help. An accidental explosion has devastated a
mining operation there.
CRUSHER: Include a burn unit with each kit. Upon
arrival, identify the most critically injured and beam them up to cargo
PICARD [OC]: Doctor Crusher, this is the Captain.
CRUSHER: Doctor Crusher here.
PICARD: Additional information. The number of
colonists at the site is five hundred and four. Are you prepared for
that many, Doctor?
CRUSHER [OC]: We believe so, sir.
LAFORGE: Captain, we are now at warp nine point one, sir.
DATA: Which will bring us to the colony in three point two hours, sir.
RIKER: Captain, I have a schematic of the explosion site. It suggests
the cause as a methane-like gas seeping in from underground.
LAFORGE: Captain, I'm picking up a forcefield out there of some kind.
(The chain-link that envelopes the Enterprise is straight out of Encounter At
DATA: The Q entity, sir. It is identical to the grid we encountered
WORF: It reads solid, sir.
PICARD: Emergency. Full stop.
LAFORGE: Reversing power, sir.
PICARD: Not now, damn it, Q.
TASHA: Shields and deflectors up, sir.
LAFORGE: Now reading full stop, sir.
(There's a flash, and something similar to Prince of Wales' feathers
Q: Humans, I thought by now you would have scampered back to your own
little star system.
PICARD: If this is Q I'm addressing, we are on a mission of rescue
where a group of badly injured
Q: We the Q have studied our recent contact with you, and are
impressed. We have much to discuss, including perhaps the realisation
of your most impossible dream.
PICARD: However intriguing that may be, we are now in the midst of an
urgent journey. Once that is completed, then, perhaps
Q: You will abandon that mission, Captain. My business with you takes
precedence. If my magnificence blinds you, then perhaps something more
(Flash, and the familiar human shape of John de Lancie, this time
Q: Starfleet Admiral Q, at your service.
Captain's log, supplemental. Our rescue mission to
the Sigma Three solar system has been halted by an immense grid and an
untimely visit from Q
PICARD: You're no Starfleet Admiral, Q.
Q: Neither am I an Aldebaran serpent, Captain, but you accepted me as
RIKER: He's got us there, Captain.
Q: The redoubtable Commander Riker, whom I noticed before. You seem to
find this all very amusing.
RIKER: I might, if we weren't on our way to help some suffering and
dying humans who
Q: Your species is always suffering and dying.
PICARD: No, Lieutenant Worf. You'll make no move against him unless I
Q: Pity. You might have learned an interesting lesson. Macro head with
a micro brain.
PICARD: You said you had the realisation of impossible dreams to offer
us. When this rescue is completed, I am prepared to listen carefully to
whatever proposal you wish to make and subject to it being acceptable
Q: Subject to your foolish human values? Oh, come, Picard. Why do you
distrust me so?
PICARD: Why? At our first meeting you seized my vessel. You condemned
all humans as savages, and on that charge you tried us in a post-atomic
twenty first century court of horrors, where you attacked my people.
You again seized my vessel.
Q: And that angered you, did it? Seized my vessel, seized my vessel.
PICARD: You interfered with our Farpoint mission. You threatened to
convict us as ignorant savages, if, while dealing with a powerful and
complex life forms, we made the slightest mistake, and when that didn't
Q: The Q became interested in you. Does no one here understand your
incredible good fortune? Seized my vessel. These are the complaints of
a closed mind too accustomed to military privileges. But you, Riker,
and I remember you well, what do you make of my offer?
RIKER: We don't have time for these games.
Q: Games? Did someone say games? And perchance for interest's sake, a
deadly game? To the game.
(A flash, and Picard is alone on the Bridge)
(sand and rocks under a green sky with yellow
RIKER: Where are we?
DATA: Obviously a class M world. Gravity and oxygen within our limits.
LAFORGE: Twin moons. Where are we?
DATA: Considering the power demonstrated by Q the last time, anywhere.
Assuming this place even exists.
RIKER: But this won't be boring. If Q is anything, he's imaginative.
Apparently our Captain wasn't meant to be with us here.
PICARD: Security, this is the Captain. Security?
Engineering, this is the Bridge.
(Control panels don't operate. Doors don't open)
PICARD: Turbolift Control, do you read? This is the Captain.
(But answer came there none)
TASHA: Sir! Over here.
(It's Q, in a French uniform complete with tricorn hat and tricolor
Q: Join me, Riker. A good game needs rules and planning. Wasn't it your
own Hartley who said, nothing reveals humanity so well as the games it
plays? Almost right. Actually, you reveal yourselves best in how you
DATA: Sir, what he has in mind might provide us with vital information.
(Riker joins Q at a table in front of a tent. He picks up a glass to
RIKER: Incredible. I was just thinking about an old-fashioned lemonade.
Q: And so it became that. An excellent thirst quencher. It gets rather
hot out on this plain.
RIKER: What about my people?
Q: Whatever they'd like, of course!
(Glasses appear in everyone's hands. Worf ostentatiously pours his onto
Q: Drink not with thine enemy. The rigid Klingon code. That explains
something of why you defeated them.
RIKER: You're still fascinated with the human past? Perhaps you're not
Q: Au contraire! It's the human future which intrigues us, and should
concern you most. You see, of all species, yours cannot abide
stagnation. Change is at the heart of what you are. But change into
what? That's the question.
DATA: That is what humans call a truism.
Q: You mean hardly original?
RIKER: You're the one who said it. While we're at it, this isn't part
of any human future.
Q: True. I borrowed this from your stodgy Captain's mind. This is
dressing for a game that we will play. Now games require rules and
dangers and familiar settings. That sort of thing.
RIKER: This isn't that familiar to me. Data?
DATA: This is from Europe's Napoleonic era, sir. Late eighteenth, early
nineteenth centuries. This is a campaign headquarters tent, his uniform
is that of a French Army marshal.
RIKER: And a marshal outranks even an Admiral
Q: Well, do you think I would go from a Starfleet Admiral to anything
RIKER: Of course you wouldn't. But Napoleonic equipment on an alien
planet. One so different it has twin moons?
Q: Well, as you said, I'm nothing if not imaginative. And the game
should reflect that. Shall it be a test of strength? Meaningless, since
you have none. A test of intelligence, then? Equally as meaningless.
But it needs risk, something to win and something to lose.
RIKER: If we must play a game, what would we win?
Q: The greatest possible future that you can imagine. Which, of course,
requires something totally disastrous if you lose. Now the point of
this game shall be, can any of you can stay alive?
WORF: If your game is fair, we will.
Q: Oh, for shame, Worf. Fairness is such a human concept. Think
imaginatively! This game shall in fact be completely unfair.
TASHA: You've gone too far!
Q: Game penalty!
RIKER: Where is she, Q? You can forget your game if
Q: To use a twentieth century term, she's in a penalty box. Where she
will remain unharmed unless one of you merits a penalty. Unfortunately,
there is only one penalty box. If any of you should be sent there, dear
Tasha must give the box up to you.
LAFORGE: And where does she go?
Q: Into nothingness. I entreat you to carefully obey the rules of the
game. The only one who can destroy your Tasha now is you.
PICARD: Captain's log
COMPUTER: Captain's log
PICARD: Damn it. I can't even make a log entry.
TASHA: I wish I could help you, Captain.
PICARD: Where is everyone else?
TASHA: Down on some planet.
PICARD: Some planet? What are you doing here?
TASHA: Well, I, er. It sounds strange, but I'm in a penalty box.
PICARD: A penalty box?
TASHA: Q's penalty box. It sounds strange, but it definitely isn't. I
know that one more penalty by anyone and I'm gone.
TASHA: Yes! I am gone! It is so frustrating to be controlled like this!
PICARD: Lieutenant. Tasha, it's all right.
TASHA: What the hell am I doing? Crying?
PICARD: Don't worry. There's a new ship's standing order on the Bridge.
When one is in the penalty box, tears are permitted.
TASHA: Captain. Oh, if you weren't a captain.
Q: Consorting with lower rank females, Captain? Especially ones in
penalty boxes? Destructive to discipline, they say. But then again,
you're what? You're only human? Penalty over.
PICARD: A marshal of France? Ridiculous!
Q: One takes what jobs he can get. For example, star log entry,
stardate today. This is Q, speaking for Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who we
consider too bound by Starfleet customs and traditions to be useful to
us. The Enterprise is now helpless, stuck like an Earth insect in amber
while its bridge crew plays out a game whose real intent is to test
whether the First Officer is worthy of the greatest gift the Q can
PICARD: So you're taking on Riker this time. Excellent. He'll defeat
you just as I did.
Q: Shall we wager on that, Captain? Your starship command against?
PICARD: Against your keeping out of humanity's path for ever. Done?
Q: Done! You've already lost, Picard. Riker will be offered something
impossible to refuse.
RIKER: Geordi, can you see Worf?
LAFORGE: I'd see the freckles on his nose if he had them, sir. He's at
the third ridge.
DATA: The third ridge?
LAFORGE: Moving well too. Oh, oh. Good, he sees them.
(Them being soldiers in an camp. And they grunt like pigs. Worf runs
PICARD: Listen to me, Q. You seem to have some need
Q: Concern regarding them.
PICARD: Whatever it is, why do you demonstrate it through this
confrontation? Why not a simple, direct explanation, a statement of
what you seek? Why these games?
Q: Why these games? Why, the play's the thing. And I'm surprised you
have to ask when your human Shakespeare explained it all so well.
PICARD: So he did, but don't depend too much on any single viewpoint
Q: It's a pity you don't know the content of your own library. Hear
this, Picard, and reflect. All the galaxy's a stage.
PICARD: World, not galaxy. All the world's a stage.
Q: Oh, you know that one? Well, if he were living now he would have
said galaxy. How about this? Life is but a walking shadow, a poor
player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard
no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
PICARD: I see. So how we respond to a game tells you more about us than
our real life, this tale told by an idiot? Interesting, Q.
Q: Oh, thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Perhaps maybe a
PICARD: Oh, no. I know Hamlet. And what he might said with irony, I say
with conviction. What a piece of work is man. How noble in reason. How
infinite in faculty. In form, in moving, how express and admirable. In
action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god.
Q: Surely you don't really see your species like that, do you?
PICARD: I see us one day becoming that, Q. Is it that what concerns
LAFORGE: Those soldiers have formed a skirmishing
line, I think you'd call it, and they're headed this way.
RIKER: Armed with ancient ball and powder muskets?
LAFORGE: That's what their weapons look like, sir.
DATA: Muskets are appropriate to the 1790 to 1800 French army uniform,
sir. But it is hardly a weapon by our standards. A lead ball propelled
by gunpowder. One hundred metres at best with any accuracy.
LAFORGE: Yeah, but against phasers? Just one of our hand phasers could
finish off an entire regiment.
RIKER: Except for one thing. It hardly sounds like Q to give us an
advantage like that. Unless.
(He does a test firing. A rock blows up most satisfactorily)
WORF: Drop your weapons!
RIKER: I'm afraid that was me, Worf. I was checking to see if the
phasers still operate.
LAFORGE: Incredible, Worf! You came out of nowhere.
WORF: A warrior's reaction.
RIKER: Report. What did you find?
WORF: Sir, what they're wearing may be old Earth uniforms, but what's
inside of them isn't human at all. More like vicious animal things.
(And here they come)
LAFORGE: Those soldiers are moving in fast, sir.
RIKER: Data, if you've got a theory about what's happening?
(But it's not Data, it's Q made up to look like him)
Q (DATA): Think fast, Commander Riker, and move fast.
(One of the soldiers fires. An energy bolt comes from the musket)
RIKER: Those aren't muskets.
(He vapourises two soldiers)
Q (DATA): You have only one chance to save them now. Send them back to
RIKER: You'll let me beam them?
Q (DATA): Send them the same way as I do. I've given you that power. Do
you understand? I have given you the power of the Q. Use it.
Q [OC]: Use your power.
(The real Data reappears)
Q [OC]: Use your power.
(Riker holds up his hand and beams Worf, Data and Geordi away)
(The forcefield vanishes while Tasha is sitting
alone on the Bridge. Everything comes back to life and Picard comes out
of the Ready room)
PICARD: Lieutenant, take the conn position. Engineering, this is the
CREWMAN [OC]: Engineering here, sir.
PICARD: Engineering, are all systems back online?
CREWMAN [OC]: Back online, sir? They were never off.
TASHA: Captain, you'd better look at this. There's been no interruption
in course or speed. Both have remained constant. It's as though we
PICARD: We never did, Lieutenant. Q suspended time.
(Worf, Data and Geordi appear)
TASHA: Where's Commander Riker?
WORF: He was with us.
LAFORGE: He must still be on the planet. We were under attack by these,
these animal things.
PICARD: Animal things?
LAFORGE: Well, maybe Data could explain better, sir.
DATA: You may find it aesthetically displeasing, sir. I could just file
a computer report on that.
TASHA: Sir, the important thing right now is why is Commander Riker
PICARD: Understood, Lieutenant, but I suspect that Commander Riker is
probably perfectly safe, at least in a physical sense. Q has an
interest in him. In fact, Q's entire visit has something to do with our
DATA: And the reason for that, sir?
PICARD: I wish I knew. Q first became interested in him at Farpoint. I
have no idea what it means. Meanwhile, we must proceed with our rescue
(Riker is sitting on a rock, laughing)
Q: Something amuses you? Perhaps you'll share the joke with me?
RIKER: The joke is you.
Q: Strange gratitude, from one who has been granted a gift beyond any
human dream. How can you not appreciate being able to send your friends
back to their ship, or sending the soldiers back to the nothingness
from which they came?
Certainly, you must understand that at this moment you can send
yourself back to the ship or to Earth, or change your shape and become
anything else you want to be.
RIKER: What do you need, Q?
RIKER: You want something from us, desperately. What is it?
Q: Want something from you foolish, fragile, non-entities? Oh come,
Riker. You're beginning to sound like your Captain.
RIKER: Now that's a compliment, Q. But that's not an answer.
Q: Riker, we have offered you a gift beyond all other gifts!
RIKER: Out of the goodness of your heart.
Q: After Farpoint, I returned to where we exist. The Q Continuum.
RIKER: Which means exactly what?
Q: The limitless dimensions of the galaxy in which we exist.
RIKER: I don't understand.
Q: Of course you don't, and you never will until you become one of us.
RIKER: Until? Would you mind going over that again?
Q: Well if you'll stop interrupting me. This is hardly a time to be
teaching you the true nature of the universe. However, at Farpoint we
saw you as savages only. We discovered instead that you are unusual
creatures in your own limited ways. Ways which in time will not be so
RIKER: We're growing. Something about us compels us to learn, explore.
Q: Yes, the human compulsion. And unfortunately for us, it is a power
which will grow stronger century after century, aeon after aeon.
RIKER: Aeons. Have you any idea how far we'll advance?
Q: Perhaps in a future that you cannot yet conceive, even beyond us. So
you see, we must know more about this human condition. That's why we've
selected you, Riker, to become part of the Q, so that you can bring to
us this human need and hunger, that we may understand it.
RIKER: I suppose you mean that as a compliment, Q. Or maybe it's my
limited mind. But to become a part of you? I don't even like you.
Q: You're going to miss me!
(Q vanishes and the Bridge crew appear)
LAFORGE: Come on, not again!
WESLEY: Commander Riker, what's going on? I was sitting in school and
TASHA: Worf, my phaser's gone. Are you armed?
(The animal solders advance)
PICARD: Where is Q? If you have any answer to any of this?
(Worf charges to meet their enemy. He knocks two down before being
bayoneted in the stomach)
(He dashes to Worf)
RIKER: Look out!
PICARD: Wesley, no!
(Wesley gets bayoneted from behind. I confess, I cheered)
RIKER: No! Damn it! Damn it to hell!
(Riker throws up a Q forcefield in front of the soldiers)
PICARD: Riker. You! You did that!
RIKER: And that's not all!
(They are all back on the Bridge, alive and well,
including Wesley - sob)
PICARD: That grid, their wounds. Only the Q can do that.
Captain's log, stardate 41591.4. Twelve minutes out
from Quadra Sigma Three where the survivors of an underground disaster
desperately need our help. Aboard the Enterprise, First Officer William
T. Riker needs help nearly as badly. But this is a subject far out of
my experience. Out of any human's experience.
PICARD: Will. How the hell do I advise you? You
know the implications as well as I.
RIKER: No one has ever offered to turn me into a god before.
PICARD: What the Q has offered you has got to be close to immortality,
Will. They're not lying about controlling space and time. We've seen it
in what they can do.
RIKER: You've also seen it in what I can do.
PICARD: If you are going to refuse his offer, you must not allow
yourself to use this power again. It's too great a temptation for us at
our present stage of development.
RIKER: Are you worried that I won't be able to say no to it?
PICARD: You tell me. Are you strong enough to refuse to use that power.
PICARD: No matter how tempted? No matter how difficult Q makes it for
RIKER: You have my word.
PICARD: Good. I know what your word means.
DATA [OC]: In orbit of Quadra Sigma Three, sir. Ready to beam down
rescue team to underground emergency area.
DATA: This way sir.
(Data forces open a jammed door and they enter a room with some water
on the floor and people groaning. Crusher and her medics start tending
RIKER: Are there any others?
WOMAN: Gone. It's just us.
LAFORGE: Commander. (by a rock fall) There's someone under here.
(Data tosses rocks as if they were made of polystyrene, which they are)
LAFORGE: You're getting close, Data.
(Data uncovers a little girl, and lifts her out. Check the number on
the pipe on the wall)
CRUSHER: It's too late. She's dead. If only we'd gotten here a little
DATA: Sir, if indeed you have the power of Q.
CRUSHER: I don't understand. Certainly you can't bring her back to
RIKER: I can't. I'm prevented from that by a promise.
RIKER: I should never have made that agreement with
you. I could have saved that child.
PICARD: You were right not to try. Once you became accustomed to that
power, Number One.
RIKER: When I used it before, what happened? I saved most of our Bridge
PICARD: And when you grow to like it too much?
RIKER: As soon as it's convenient Captain, I want a meeting with you
and your Bridge staff.
PICARD: As soon as we are secure of this rescue operation, I'll discuss
all of this new power
(But Riker has already gone to the turbolift)
(Later, Riker returns)
PICARD: We can confer here on the Bridge, if no one has any objections.
RIKER: The Bridge will be fine, since I've called the entire staff.
PICARD: Correction, Number One. Knowing the decision you face, I have
permitted you this gathering.
RIKER: Of course, Jean-Luc.
(Crusher and Wesley enter)
RIKER: Wesley, this meeting is not for you.
WESLEY: Why not, sir? You helped make me a Bridge officer. Acting
RIKER: All right, he stays. Because I've been given unusual powers, I
am not suddenly a monster. Except for these abilities, and I don't yet
know how far they go, I'm the same William T. Riker you've always
known. Well? Everyone still looks uncomfortable.
PICARD: Perhaps they're all remembering that old saying. Power
RIKER: And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Do you believe I haven't
thought of that, Jean-Luc?
PICARD: And have you noticed how you and I are now on a first name
basis? Number One, Will, something has happened already.
RIKER: In what way? Haven't you seen how much I regretted not saving
that child? Using the Q power to save her may not have been wrong. No
more than it was wrong to save the rest of you from those soldier
PICARD: Let's keep in mind that that particular danger was invented by
TASHA: What we represent to the Q, Commander, are lowly animals,
tormented into performing for their amusement.
RIKER: Actually, they think highly of us, Tasha. We have a quality of
growth which they admire.
LAFORGE: Or fear.
PICARD: No, we've learned the Q do not admire us. The Q has muddled
RIKER: Don't you understand his incredible gift to me?
Q: Are these truly your friends, brother?
(Everyone turns to see Q in a monk's habit)
Q: Let us pray. For understanding and for compassion.
PICARD: Let us do no such damned thing! What is this need of yours for
costumes, Q? Have you no identity of your own?
Q: I come in search of the truth.
PICARD: You come in search of what humanity is!
Q: I forgive your blasphemy.
PICARD: Don't you see, Riker? He's nothing but a flim-flam man! He's
been that ever since we first met him at Farpoint.
Q: You offer Riker jealousy. What I offer him is clearly beyond your
comprehension. How can you claim friendship for Riker while obstructing
his way to the greatest adventure ever offered a human?
PICARD: Obstructing him? Then it's not yet certain. He's not yet
Q: The truly evil part of this, Captain, is your jealousy. (to Riker)
You love each one of your people. Demonstrate it. You have the power to
leave each of them with a gift proving your affection.
RIKER: There'd be no harm, would there, if I gave them something I know
Q: How touching. A plea to his former Captain. May I please give some
happiness to my friends, sir? Please sir?
PICARD: In fact I authorise and support your idea, Riker. Please, feel
free to cooperate with him if you wish.
DATA: Are you certain, sir?
PICARD: Quite certain, Data. By all means, demonstrate your gifts of
RIKER: Don't be frightened. There is no way I could harm any of you.
Shall I guess your dreams?
CRUSHER: Leave now, Wesley.
RIKER: No! Wesley, I may know best of all. Our friendship, our long
CRUSHER: No, please!
RIKER: Have your favourite wish, my young friend.
(Wesley is transformed from teenager to hunk)
RIKER: You're ten years older. A man.
LAFORGE: Hey, Wes. Not bad.
DATA: No. No, sir.
RIKER: But it's what you've always wanted, Data, to become human.
DATA: Yes, sir, that is true. But I never wanted to compound one
illusion with another. It might be real to Q, perhaps even you, sir.
But it would not be so to me. Was it not one of the Captain's favourite
authors who wrote, This above all, to thine own self be true? Sorry,
Commander, I must decline.
RIKER: Well, my friend, I know what you want.
(He waves his hand in front of Geordi and takes off the visor)
LAFORGE: (to Tasha) You're as beautiful as I imagined, and more.
RIKER: Then we can throw away the visor?
LAFORGE: I don't think so, sir. The price is a little high for me, and
I don't like who I would have to thank. Make me the way I was. Please!
RIKER: Proud warrior Worf, without a single tie to his own kind.
(A Klingon woman is kneeling at his feet. She gets up, tries to swipe
at Tasha, and gets knocked down by Worf)
WORF: No! She is from a world now alien to me!
LAFORGE: Worf, is this your idea of sex?
WORF: This is sex. But I have no place for it in my life now.
Q: No place, micro-brain? What possesses you?
WESLEY: Commander Riker, it's too soon for this.
RIKER: If this is because your mother objects?
WESLEY: No. I just want to get there on my own. Honest.
Q: But it's easier, boy. Listen to Riker.
RIKER: How did you know, sir? I feel like such an idiot.
PICARD: Quite right. So you should. It's all over, Q. You have no
further business here.
Q: Human, you have just destroyed yourself.
PICARD: Pay off your wager.
Q: I recall no wager!
PICARD: I'm sure your fellow Q remember you agreed to never trouble our
species again. Just as they're aware you failed to tempt a human to
Q: (to the ceiling) No, if I could just do one more thing.
PICARD: Q, I strongly suspect it's some explaining you have to do now.
(Q screams as he disappears. Wesley returns to gangly teenager, the
Klingon woman vanishes and everyone is moved to new positions)
LAFORGE: Captain, we are showing that same hole in time again. Our
instruments say we've just now beamed back from our rescue mission.
DATA: Sir, how is it that the Q can handle time and space so well, and
us so badly?
PICARD: Perhaps some day we will discover that space and time are
simpler than the human equation. No coordinates laid in, Number One?
RIKER: Yes, sir. You have my coordinates, La Forge.
LAFORGE: Aye, sir. On the board.