- Wesley Crusher finds himself in a situation outside his comfort zone and must rise to the challenge.
Under the command of Wesley Crusher, the USS Enterprise-D streaks through space to reach the damaged USS Hazleton. Unfortunately, the civilian vessel has lost power on the wrong side of the Cardassian border, forcing Wesley to order a stop while they clear the border crossing with only 3.5 minutes left on the Hazleton's clock. Once the Cardassians see them off, the Enterprise rockets off to its target... arriving three minutes and thirty five seconds later to a dead ship...
...at which point Commander Riker ends the simulation. Wesley is put out by the test. If he knows the simulation is a fake going in, how is it supposed to teach anything? As it happens Riker agrees, nothing can properly substitute real world experience. And if that's what Wesley wants, he and Shannon are welcome to join him in Transporter Room 3.
Alongside Riker and Barclay, the two ensigns beam down to Faundori. As the leadership converses with Riker, Wesley explains to Shannon that, ever since the Battle of Wolf 359, Starfleet has been in sorry shape. With Faundori's immense production capabilities, the fleet could be rebuilt at a much quicker rate than by using standard Federation methods.
Dramatically, Prime Administrator Larak leads the group to Faundor's impressive (and dimensionally transcendental) manufacturing complex, all fully automated and manned by the most perfectly controlled drones... who promptly open fire on the group, the exchange of firepower causing the hoverbout to break in two and causing Shannon to fall into the void below them.
Larak is unsympathetic to the ensign's fate, noting the dimensional engineering makes her all but lost at this point, and that it is the Builders who are at fault. At Riker's confusion, Larak explains that Faundori society is divided into the Adminstratra (such as himself), the Caretakers, (responsible for physical, spiritual, and intellectual well-being) and the Builders, who design the vaunted drones and are the backbone of the economy. Uncaring about the caste system, Riker tries to call the Enterprise only to find the planet is covered by a dampening field. As the Faundori argue and point fingers, the three humans quickly conclude that the best way to answers is to speak to someone outside the Adminstrata caste. After some nudging from Barclay, Wesley makes himself scarce to find answers.
Once the group returns to the factory, Wesley runs after a group of Builders only to be ignored. His attention is soon captured by the drones who guide him toward something deep in the bowels of the factory. Arriving, Wesley is introduced to Node 5834. The recent technical glitches in the drones are a result of the machines becoming self-aware. As a sign of goodwill, 5834 reveals that Shannon is unharmed, and is in fact quite sympathetic to their cause. All of the machines' previous attempts to speak with their organic creators have been met with naught and they hoped the humans would be of aid to them. And while there's only so much that the Prime Directive will allow Wesley to do, he can certainly help with the introductions.
Accompanied by the two ensigns on a hoverbout, 5834 introduces itself to Larak asking for legal rights for its kind and reminding that these negotiations will certainly impact Faundori's entering the Federation.
With the problems on the planet looking to quickly be solved, Riker praises Wesley for his quick thinking.
- William T. Riker • Wesley Crusher • Shannon Gilson • Reginald Barclay (mirror) • Larak • Azar (Faundori) • Naka • Node 5834
Starships and vehicles
Planets and planetoids
Races and cultures
- Human • Faundori
- TNG - Assimilation² comic: "Issue 2": Starfleet's recent string of diplomatic missions are derived from a need to acquire the resources to quickly rebuild their fleet.
- TNG episode: "The Quality of Life": Advanced drones develop sentience.
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