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Crippled, cornered, and out of options, Picard stages a gambit to trap Vadic and reveal her true motive – a gamble that puts the Titan in the crosshairs and forces Picard and Beverly to question every moral code they've ever held.



The USS Titan-A hides with minimum power in the Chin'toka scrapyard, amidst the wreckage of the battles fought there, while Seven of Nine reaches out to her old friend Captain Tuvok for information on Riker's whereabouts. Tuvok replies that Riker was not reported in Starfleet custody. Seven glances over at Captain Shaw and T'Veen, who are analyzing Tuvok's voice; T'Veen nods, indicating it matched. Picard silently encourages her to proceed. Seven then asks about the last time Tuvok had seen Admiral Janeway. Tuvok admits it has been some time, but expects she is busily preparing for Frontier Day, which is in 36 hours, and the entire fleet is being assembled in the Sol system for the celebration. Seven explains the belief that everything they've found points to a larger conspiracy and asks if Tuvok could connect them to someone they could trust. Tuvok seems apologetic when he replies that it will be difficult, given their current status as fugitives. T'Veen and Shaw monitor the response, but the analysis comes back "inconclusive." Seven acknowledges the complexities of the issue were like "a house of cards," like the games of kal-toh they used to play. Tuvok concedes that she had beaten him "countless" times, which further seems to reinforce she is dealing with the real Tuvok. He agrees to meet with her to find new allies. Seven suggests meeting on Aklion VII, where she previously had her neural pattern stabilized. Tuvok immediately agrees, which proves to Seven that he is actually a Changeling. No Vulcan would go to Aklion VII after the anti-Kolinahr demonstrations there, and her neural pattern had been stabilized on the USS Voyager by the real Tuvok.

Exposed, the Changeling smirks; Geordi La Forge then warns that the comm signal is being traced. Seven demands to know what they've done to the real Tuvok, as only he would have known about their kal-toh games. The Tuvok Changeling responds only that all of the Titan crew will think death is a relief when the Changelings are finished with them. Picard then steps forward, demanding to know where Riker is. The Changeling's face changes to that of a deceased-looking Riker, who mocks Picard by saying that he was "as good as dead," like Picard himself. Picard finally tells Geordi to cut the communication. Geordi warns that they cannot keep doing this, and perhaps it was time they just accepted their situation. Picard looks around at the others. "We're on our own," he agrees grimly.

Act One[]

In the conference room, Picard asks about Worf, and Geordi reports that he and Musiker had been observing Starfleet Security at Exo-Port and confirmed that there was no report of Riker in custody; they are on their way back. "And not a moment too soon," he adds, as short of hiding in junkyards like Chin'toka, he's running out of places to hide them. Picard adds they are also running out of time; Frontier Day is coming, and they still have to expose the conspiracy to Starfleet somehow. Beverly Crusher then speaks up, having been weighing a moral dilemma of sorts. Whether the new Changelings' physiology is evolved or engineered, it makes them unique, and the best way to expose them is that uniqueness – a weapon, or at the very least a tool, to help expose them. Her dilemma, however, is that it might require a biological solution, and targeting a species based on their biology alone is tantamount to genocide, thinking on the morphogenic virus used during the Dominion War; she knows they are desperate, but is concerned about crossing a line. Picard asks her to look into what she can find, and they would weigh the moral implications if and when it became a necessity.

Picard then thinks on how he is supposed to be involved in the Frontier Day ceremony, which would require genetic verification of his identity. Geordi wonders if the theft of his original body from Daystrom Station, and the Changelings' efforts to capture Jack Crusher, are part of a plan to combine their DNA to create a perfect genetic double of Picard. Picard has also had that same fear. Beverly points out that Picard's DNA is Picard's, and Jack's is Jack's… would they need the DNA of a relative to complete an incomplete DNA sequence? Picard knows they need more information, and Geordi points out there is someone aboard who knows more.

Picard and Geordi head down to sickbay, where Alandra La Forge has been working on Daystrom Android M-5-10, whom Picard refers to as "Mr. Data." Alandra believes she has found the source of the problem, and her father has her show Picard what that problem is (though warns to only allow cognitive functions). Alandra brings the android out of stasis, and it speaks with Data's voice. Recognizing Picard (again as "captain") and Geordi, he sees he is no longer aboard the USS Enterprise-E, and wonders about the Scimitar. Picard assures him that was now many years ago. The android then glitches, and now speaks with the personality of Data's brother Lore, who smirks as he notes the cruelty of time. In the same sentence, both Data and Lore speak, the former apologizing that he is not in complete control of the body, and the latter adding that he is not in control of his feeling of revulsion while looking at Picard's "ancient face." Alandra wonders if Lore has always been "this arch," to which Lore snidely asks if the "tree" moved, or if the "apple" (Alandra) had fallen far from it, ranting to her about how one would be "a little arch" if he had to deal with "self-righteous" people. Geordi explains to Alandra that Lore has a perverted idea of what it means to be Human (the android responding with an offended look), before telling Picard that the examination of the unit's positronic brain revealed four identity matrices. Those of B-4 and of Altan Soong are there as a memory file only, but Data and Lore are clearly partitioned off, and both are now fighting for dominance. He thinks Soong hoped the personalities would integrate within the golem, that it would give Data what he had always wanted – the chance to be truly Human – but the partition indicates the doctor's fear that Lore's personality would completely consume Data. Nevertheless, it's possible that the answers that the Soong family's cybernetics research has been seeking, about Humanity and free will, are with Data in this golem body.

Picard reaches out to Data (even through Lore's interruptions and insults) to discover why the Changelings have taken his original body. Data accesses Soong's knowledge and research, showing that an "anomaly" was found inside Picard's body, bringing into question the previous diagnosis of Irumodic Syndrome. Lore then takes over, saying it establishes him as an "inferior," a "perfectly imperfect Picard, through and through." Data again wrests back control and pleads with his captain to help him. This is too much for Picard, who has the La Forges reactivate the stasis. He remembers that two years ago, Data had asked Picard to let him go, to die in peace, and now he was asking for help again. He wonders if they could somehow free Data by erasing Lore. Geordi warns that the new android is far more complex than the Data he knew, more art than engineering; with the help of the ship's computers, he thinks he can stabilize Data, but if he lifts the partition, and Lore prevails, they might lose Data again, this time forever, and that is not something he wants to go through again. "Me neither," Picard agrees.

Aboard the Shrike, Vadic makes contact with her superior, "The Face", who demands an update; Frontier Day is almost upon them, and they are running out of time. Vadic explains that Picard's associates are unexpectedly firm in their loyalty, and she does not expect them to break in the time they have left. "The Face" insists they must, warning Vadic that her physiology is not as unique as she believes, and that she is by nature malleable, "made to bend"; the prisoners, however, were of a singular flesh, and so it suggests she dismember one in front of the other, do anything to achieve success. "The hour of Starfleet's fall nears," it declares, before again emphasizing they must have Jack, warning that the existence of Vadic and her kind would be "meaningless" if they fail. "The Face" reforms again into Vadic's hand, and she returns to her command chair, a hard expression on her face.

Back on the Titan, Jack is in the turbolift with Sidney La Forge and a number of other crewmembers. When they're alone, he asks what her quarters are like, if they are nice. Sidney scoffs, saying as an ensign, she has very small quarters. Jack somewhat fumblingly mentions he has a "cracking nice suite," and asks if she would like to "hang out." In her mind, Sidney wonders if he is attempting to flirt with her, and wonders if he could be more "subtle" about it, like touching her hand or something. To her surprise, he does just that, just as the turbolift stops. She turns to look at him and asks why he had done that, wondering to herself how he had known to do that. It's clear that Jack can hear her thoughts, but he does not respond before the turbolift continues, taking him to the bridge.

As he approaches Picard, who asks how he is doing, Kova Esmar speaks up from comms, saying they had detected another long-range trace attempt from Starfleet. Shaw tells them to ignore it like all the others, but Seven sees something that brings them up short: It was a compromised prefix code, used by captains in distress to ping their designated starships, giving the enemy the ship's location, but letting Starfleet know the captain has been caught and compromised. Picard realizes it was from Riker, and Seven identifies the frequency as matching that of the Shrike, which lets them know that Riker is in Vadic's custody. Shaw orders Esmar to block the signal, to not let Vadic find them. Jack then asks Picard if he could have a word.

In the observation lounge, Jack explains that he doesn't know what is wrong with him, but knows it isn't anything good. He blames himself for the situation, and worries about Riker, who had been good to him from the moment they met, and he also had a wife and child to worry about; now he was in danger. Jack thinks they should let the Shrike find them, and trade himself for Riker. Picard refuses outright. Jack asks if he had any idea what it was like knowing people had died, were dying, and will die, and wonders why they should die for him, believing he is not worth it. He admits he has always felt "different," like something was wrong with him, deep inside. He is able to hear things inside his head, but is not sure how to truly explain it. Picard emphasizes he is not giving up on Jack and urges him not to give up either. Jack admits he's all for a fair fight, or not when he's the one who's cheating, but they have never had the advantage in this situation. "What if we actually do?" Picard asks, saying he has an idea of how to get Vadic.

Act Two[]

In open space in the Alpha Quadrant, the Shrike comes out of warp, finding the Titan floating derelict in space. Vadic's crew reports the Titan's warp core is offline, and that the ship is running on emergency power, but they can't detect any life signs due to radiation from a nearby wrecked Vulcan warship. Vadic is convinced Jack is alive, and then asks if there were any subspace transmissions. They find one, a recording from the Vulcan ship, the VSS T'Plana, which reports engaging the "fugitives" and disabling their warp core. Both ships are now dead in the water. Vadic is convinced, and orders a boarding party, but via shuttlecraft, not with transporters. Vadic's lieutenant warns it could be a trap, but Vadic is adamant that Jack is right there, that she could almost touch him. "Can't you hear that?" she asks. "Tick-tock, tick-tock, goes the ancient clock." They are out of time, so they will go and claim Jack themselves.

Vadic leads the boarding party aboard the Titan herself, consulting her wrist-mounted tricorder; she can detect life signs "scattered like rats" throughout the ship. Just at that moment, a figure emerges from the corridor, and Vadic is surprised to see it is Jack himself. He tells her she is too late, that everyone is dead. Vadic assures him that not everyone is, and that she is there to take him to a "better place." When he asks what that means, she replies that it would be better to show him than tell him. "You'll have to catch me first," he smirks, as he breaks off running. Vadic gestures her crew forward, while her lieutenant stands with her.

Jack runs through the corridors, meeting with Sidney at a junction. They fire on their pursuers and split them apart, before they call to the bridge to drop force fields around them, trapping them in the corridors. Jack makes it into sickbay, blasting down one of the pursuers, before Vadic herself enters from the opposite door. Jack calls for another force field, which traps Vadic in place. Shaw is surprised to see that it worked, before Seven urges Jack to get out. Vadic's lieutenant enters, weapon in hand, but Vadic raises a hand to stop him, looking with interest at Jack. Jack smiles and exchanges fire with the lieutenant, luring him into the chase. Meeting up with Sidney, they lure the remaining boarding party into their trap, but find themselves trapped as well, their only exits blocked by the force fields locking the Changelings in place. Geordi, down in the EPS control room with the android, tries to lock onto them with the transporter, but is unable to do so. He and Alandra leave the room to access the transporter controls, just as the doors to the control room close behind them. The android moves into view, glaring at them through the glass, and Geordi realizes Lore has taken control.

Act Three[]

Beverly Crusher and Vadic

"You look so at ease. Relaxed. Not even trying to slip out."

Beverly confronts her long-time pursuer, noting how she seemed almost at ease. She admits she had taken an oath to do no harm, but was now seriously reconsidering it. Vadic finds it "adorable," as she hears Picard enter behind her. She thinks he is there to be "understanding" to Beverly's "cruel," and she is bored with it already. Picard knows how they stole his original body from Daystrom, and how they plan to use his body and Jack's blood to fool the genetic scans so they can disrupt Frontier Day. Beverly adds that they know about the Changelings' new physiology. Vadic asks if they know about Jack's physiology too. They demand to know what she wants with him. Vadic says that she herself wants nothing, that Jack is not for her; indeed, she and Beverly could bond over that, because he is not really meant for her, either. Picard elects to speak plainly: Vadic has no way to escape, while admitting his "understanding" led him to recognize the travesty of the Dominion War. Seething, Vadic tells them that they can not compare the atrocities committed by their side to the warfare executed by hers. Beverly points out that the Changelings had started the war, but Vadic retorts that it was necessity, that the "solids" were coming for them, and they ruin every world they touch. When Picard asks her to name one world "ruined" by "solids," she replies with her own, remembering how Starfleet had introduced the morphogenic virus. Picard reminds her that Starfleet had provided the cure, but Vadic counters that Starfleet had elected to keep it from them, and that it had taken one of their own to give it to them. She has flashbacks of a Starfleet science lab as she rages at them about how Starfleet fueled her desire for their destruction, inflicting torment on her and those she loved.

Trapped in the corridor, Sidney urgently calls her father to warn that they don't have much time, as the trapped Changelings pound at the force fields. But Lore has taken control of the ship's systems, including security and transporters. When Alandra asks why, Geordi replies it is because Lore enjoys the chaos. The Changeling lieutenant asks Jack how it will feel for Sidney to die for him. As Jack gazes at her, his eyes begin to glow red, and he can hear her wonder in her mind why he is looking at her like that.

Vadic's hands move like an orchestra conductor, asking her captors if they liked the symphony. Picard admits he wasn't aware they had music in the Great Link, and Vadic confirms they don't, but she and nine of her fellow Changelings had been held during the Dominion War at Daystrom Station, kept in jars on shelves. She recalls it had something to do with "Project Proteus," and that the symphony she remembers didn't have brass and strings, but the spinning of wheels down the hall, the sound of boots squeaking on concrete, the creaks of cage doors, screams of all tempos and pitches… and above all, whistling. She recalls the scientist at the station, who whistled "Three Blind Mice" while she experimented on the captive Changelings, subjecting them to pain, all to turn them into weapons: "Perfect, undetectable spies, able to drop into any species and spread chaos." She admits there was a "happy ending:" Starfleet had created the "perfect monster." Vadic had killed the Daystrom scientist and took her shape, and the evolution from those experiments allowed her to pass on the changes to others who linked with her, all to fool those who had "taken everything" from them. Picard is horrified, and quietly admits he didn't know. Vadic finds it remarkable how an "enlightened" species could ignore each other's pain and asks Picard if Beverly would have hidden his own son from him if she could truly feel his loss. She then shifts into Jack's form, asking Beverly if she was prepared to lose another son.

Vadic returns to her chosen form. "The Federation took my family," she tells them. "Now I will take yours."

Act Four[]

Sidney warns her father that the shield regulators are beginning to fail, as the Changeling crew continues to pound away. Geordi tries to reach out to Data inside the android, but Lore replies that Data can't fight him. In sickbay, Beverly worries that Vadic appears too calm; she has a plan, and if they let her slip out, she will take Jack. As long as they are onboard, Vadic and her crew are a threat, and that everything she told them, she wanted them to know. She asks why Vadic would take the face of her torturer, and Picard believes it was to remind herself of her hate. He concedes that Beverly is right, that Vadic is an executioner for her cause… and that they would get no more from her, as he draws his phaser.

Geordi continues to try to appeal to Data, knowing he is still in there, and that life rarely gave second chances to say what one should. He believes Data made him a better man, a better father, a better friend. He begins to break down as he admits it broke him when Data died, but the memory of Data also helped put him back together. Meanwhile, Picard asks Beverly if time has changed who they were so much, that they would compromise what they believe. Beverly admits that she is indeed losing her moral compass. The decision is ultimately made for them, however, as Lore takes control even though he admits that Geordi's attempts to appeal to his brother's memories of friendship are "very powerful" for Data's motivation to fight back. When Geordi asks what he wants, Lore replies that he wants no more than Geordi wants for his children, and what these Changelings wanted: Survival. He decides to "level the playing field." "The enemy of my enemies… well, you know the rest," he quips, as alarms begin to go off; Lore has taken complete control of the security fields and brings them offline. As the one around Vadic falls, she goes into liquid form and escapes through the ventilation system, even as Picard and Beverly fire on her.

The force fields trapping her crew also go down, and another field is brought up between Jack and Sidney, leaving them to fight their respective opponents alone. Geordi continues to try and reach through to Data. Though briefly disarmed, Jack is able to retrieve his phaser and kill his attacker, but Sidney is left at the mercy of the Changeling lieutenant, who slams her into the force field. Geordi rages at Lore to let his daughter go. As they make eye contact, the same red glow in Jack's eyes can be seen in Sidney's, and they are able to read each other's thoughts. Though separated, Jack guides her movements against the lieutenant, allowing her to avoid its attacks while inflicting her own. Finally, Data is able to take back control and brings down the field between Jack and Sidney. Sidney tries to figure out how she was able to hear Jack's voice in her head, and holds her phaser on him, not sure what to make of him. He tries to reassure her as whistling is heard from up the corridor: Vadic has found them. They both quickly make their exit.

Beverly consults the Daystrom archive on "Project Proteus," and discovers that the formula used in the experiments contained thelomium-847, a stabilizing agent with a half-life of one hundred years. In theory, that means that Vadic and her crew have trace amounts of it in their system, which would allow them to be tracked. They find Vadic and her lieutenant on deck 9, and Picard warns Shaw not to let them near the bridge access lifts. Shaw is already on his way with a security team, firing on them. The lieutenant vaporizes the security team, but Shaw brings him down… though not permanently, as he reforms behind the captain and hurls him into the turbolift with Vadic. Shaw orders the bridge to destroy the lift, but it proves too late. Shaw, his face bloodied, collapses to the deck, but the lift appears otherwise empty. However, Vadic and her lieutenant soon reform from the floor, and hold Seven at gunpoint, while the rest of the Changeling boarders emerge from the conference room.

Vadic opens a channel to the entire ship, saying they had proven themselves worthy, and not without guile, before asking what defense would be formidable against the "formless." She had warned them it would come to this, and that they could have saved themselves the trouble if they had simply cooperated with her earlier. She emphasizes she acted not out of cruelty, but mercy. "To be mutable, fluid, means knowing what the river knows: that there are many ways to the same sea." Now they are at the place they were always meant to be: To bring Jack where he most needed to be. At that moment, Jack and Sidney arrive in sickbay.

As she seats herself in the captain's chair, Vadic declares herself the new captain of the Titan. "And Jack, my dear, if you can hear me, it's time you learned who you truly are."

Memorable quotes[]

"Only the real Tuvok would know we played kal-toh, which means he must have told you. What the hell have you done with him?!"
"All I can tell you is… when we are done with him, when we are done with all of you, death will come as a relief."

- Seven of Nine and a Changeling impersonating Tuvok

"The solution may be biological. And targeting a species on biology alone is tantamount to genocide."
"Like the virus used against them in the Dominion War."
"Exactly. I know we're desperate, but I am concerned about crossing a line."

- Beverly Crusher and Picard, discussing solutions to root out the Changelings

"Captain, Geordi. I am no longer on the Enterprise. The Scimitar"
"That was many, many years ago."
"Hmm. That would explain why… you're so old! Time has been very cruel to you."

- Data, speaking to Picard, before transforming into Lore

"I apologize for the outburst, Captain. I am not in complete control of this body – nor I am in complete control of my utter revulsion at your ancient face."
"So, has Lore always been this arch?"

- Data and Lore, to Picard, with Alandra La Forge chiming in

"Is he flirting? Those eyes. He is charming. At least be subtle first. Touch my hand or…"

- Sidney La Forge, thinking in her head while sharing a turbolift with Jack Crusher

"You know, I took an oath to do no harm but you should know I am rethinking that promise."
"Aren't you adorable?"

- Beverly Crusher and Vadic

"What do you want, Lore?"
"No more than you want for your children. Nothing more than these Changelings want. Survival. It's Human nature, pal."

- Geordi La Forge and Lore

Background information[]


Cast and characters[]

Links and references[]


Special guest stars[]

Guest starring[]


Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt doubles[]



2370s; 2379; access lift; admiral; Aklion VII; Alpha Quadrant; anti-Kolinahr demonstrations; apple; art; B-4; Bajoran; blood; boarding party; boot; boy; brother; cadet; captain; Changeling; Chin'toka scrapyard; Chin'toka system; clock; cognitive functions; commander; commodore; compromised prefix code; concrete; Constitution III-class; Crusher, Wesley; Data; Daystrom Station; "dead in the water"; dismemberment; DNA; doctor; Dominion; Dominion War; doppelgänger; engineering; Enterprise-E, USS; executioner; Exo-Port; extinction; face; field regulator; flash; force field; free will; friend; Frontier Day; fugitive; gatekeeper; genocide; Great Link; half-life; Haliian; help; hermetically sealed; Hippocratic Oath; history book; hour; house of cards; Human; Humanity; Irumodic Syndrome; Janeway, Kathryn; junkyard; Kal-toh; lab coat; Lore; metaphysic figures; mind meld; morphogenic virus; music; Musiker, Raffi; neural pattern; open space; orchid; partition; phonetic alphabet ("Alpha"; "Bravo"; "Charlie"; "Delta"; "Echo"); physiology; positronic brain; positronic body; prisoner of war; procedure; Project Proteus; quarters; rat; Riker, William T.; Ro Laren; Scimitar; security system; shield regulator; Shrike; shuttle; sister; Sol system; "solids"; son; Soong, Altan; Soong-type android; stabilizing agent; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Security; Starfleet uniform; subspace relay; symphony; telepathy; thelomium-847; "Three Blind Mice"; Titan-A, USS; torturer; T'Plana, VSS; transporter; transporter system; tree; Tuvok; Vadic's nine "brothers and sisters"; Voyager, USS; VSS; Vulcan; Vulcan warship; wheel; whistling; Worf; years

LCARS references[]

comms; dilithium articulation frame; matter/antimatter reaction system; optical data network; phase transition coil; prefix code; science; stasis; subspace carrier wave; voice analysis; warp coil

Meta references[]

backstory; flashback; intertitle

External links[]

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