(written from a Production point of view)
Captain Picard must keep a superweapon out of enemy hands!
- From the book jacket
- When a famous Federation scientist dies, his son puts his inventions up for sale to the highest bidder, be they Federation, Klingon, Romulan, or Cardassian. Among the items at auction is a photon pulse cannon capable of punching through a starship's shields with a single shot. Meanwhile, Wesley Crusher is kidnapped from the Academy by renegade Ferengi who have set their sights on the photon cannon as well, and Captain Picard must outmaneuver enemies on every side to save Wesley and protect the Enterprise from the deadly fire of the new cannon.
When one of Geordi La Forge's old academy instructors passes away, the Federation is alarmed to learn that his inventions will be sold to the highest bidder. The Enterprise must take part in the auction and make sure that this technology – particularly a photonic pulse cannon – does not fall into enemy hands.
Meanwhile, at Starfleet Academy, Wesley Crusher's roommate has invented a device that can counterfeit latinum, which soon comes into the possession of Munk and his son, Tunk, two Ferengi outlaws. Wesley tries to steal it back, but winds up being kidnapped as Munk heads for the auction with the machine.
When the Enterprise arrives at the auction, Picard learns that Emperor Kahless has chosen him to bid for the Klingon Empire, and he cannot diplomatically refuse. Worf is chosen to represent the Federation, and Counselor Troi is chosen to bid for Betazed.
Munk and Tunk put Wesley to work creating false latinum. He was forced to sign a contract, and must abide by their rules or face a Ferengi court. When he meets his friends from the Enterprise, he uses an alias, and they play along. He manages to get Data to play poker with him, and loses an incredibly large amount of latinum to him. This arouses suspicion, and after an examination, the truth is discovered.
The Cardassians have the winning bid for the cannon, until Worf and Picard announce that the Federation and Klingon Empire are combining their bids and win the auction. Unfortunately, the cannon, (along with all the other inventions) does not work.
Stuck with an expensive, but worthless weapon, Picard strikes a bargain with the Grand Nagus, who was representing Ferenginar. He pretends to steal the plans and sells them to the Cardassians. He gets to keep any profit, over the auction price, and in return, Munk, Tunk, and Wesley's contract are Picard's responsibility. The Cardassians are out of a lot of latinum, Wesley returns to the academy, and the counterfeiting device is destroyed.
"Data," Riker asked, "what do you suppose the odds are that you've just been selected to represent the Borg?"
Data looked up. "I do not think that is a likely possibility, sir. Or were you making a joke?"
"Ah." Without warning, the android threw his head back and barked with hysterical laughter for four seconds; then he ceased, as if turning off a faucet. When he finished, every officer on the bridge stared in stunned silence.
"How realistic was my response, sir?" Data asked, back to his usual polite tone.
"You sounded like a homicidal maniac about to massacre the entire crew!"
"Hmm." The android wore his puzzled expression. "I suppose I still need to work on the program. Thank you, sir."
- - Riker and Data
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