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Preemptive Strike redirects here; for the military maneuver, please see Preemptive strike.

Lieutenant Ro is sent undercover to root out a Maquis cell.



"Captain's log, stardate 47941.7. The Enterprise is en route to a briefing on the situation in the Demilitarized Zone along the Cardassian border. Meanwhile, we're celebrating the return of an old friend."

Lieutenant Ro Laren is back on board the USS Enterprise-D. She walks into Ten Forward and is congratulated by Deanna Troi, Beverly Crusher, and Geordi La Forge for completing Advanced Tactical Training at Starfleet Tactical. During their conversation, Captain Picard calls her to the bridge, but surprises her when she finds him standing outside Ten Forward. Ro thanks Picard for recommending her for the training and for having faith in her as an officer. She notes that if it was not for him, her life would be very different right now.

Commander Riker, who reports that a Cardassian ship is being attacked and needs help, calls Picard to the bridge. Assuming her old post at the helm, Ro determines there are several small ships attacking, but aren't immediately identifiable as they are not transmitting identification codes. Scanning their warp signatures, Data is able to determine that the ships, surprisingly, are Federation.

Act One[]

Isolating one of the ships and magnifying it on the viewscreen, Picard identifies the vessels as being from the Maquis and orders them to withdraw, but there's no response. Picard tells them they are Federation citizens and that their actions are in violation of the Federation-Cardassian Treaty. Picard demands again that they call off their attack, but the Maquis will still not comply. A surgical photon torpedo spread from Worf between the attacking ships and the Cardassian ship prompts the Maquis to withdraw. The Enterprise beams Cardassian survivors aboard and Dr. Crusher treats their wounded. Gul Evek and Picard exchange words in sickbay, each accusing the other of not doing enough to suppress the skirmishes in the Demilitarized Zone. Evek tells Picard that the situation between the Cardassians and the Maquis will only escalate, until the Cardassian military will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

Admiral Alynna Nechayev comes aboard the Enterprise and shares tea with Picard in his ready room. They discuss the mounting tension in the Zone between the Cardassians and Maquis. Picard tells her that she missed Gul Evek by a matter of hours. He thought that an admiral's assurance would convince him that Starfleet is doing everything it can to deal with the Maquis situation. Nechayev admits that the situation has her worried and that Starfleet cannot track down the various Maquis cells. Nechayev tells Picard that she is sending in a Starfleet operative undercover to infiltrate the Maquis and gather intelligence to expose the cells. Nechayev recommends Lieutenant Ro for the assignment given her recent tactical training, her previous problems with Starfleet and the fact that she is Bajoran.

Ro and Picard discuss the mission in her quarters and Ro agrees to accept the assignment. Although she is uncomfortable accepting a mission that will require her to help the Cardassians, she agrees if only to prove the trust that Picard has shown for her.

Act Two[]

Ro, disguised as a civilian, walks into a bar on the Ronara Prime colony followed closely by Lieutenant Commander Data and Lieutenant Worf. They announce that they are seeking a Bajoran woman with dark hair who killed a Cardassian soldier. Worf tells the bar patrons that if the Bajoran woman has been in here, the establishment will be closed down. Ro grabs an unsuspecting man and starts kissing him, hiding her face from Data and Worf. Another bar patron, Santos, tells them that she was in the bar but had just left.

Ro approaches the bar and thanks Santos. She mentions that she would like to meet other people who oppose the Cardassians. Santos stuns her with a phaser and she is rendered unconscious. She awakens in the presence of an older man (Macias), a woman (Kalita), and Santos. They question her and when she attempts to leave, Kalita aims a phaser at her. She tells them some of the truth and a few lies; she also admits to killing a Cardassian soldier. She then goes for a walk with Macias while the other two check out her story.

Macias expresses his outrage with the Cardassians and admits to Ro that many of the settlers living in the compound they are touring are Maquis. He orders hasperat from the food dispenser. Ro is surprised that he likes it and tells him that she knows a recipe for a very spicy hasperat that her father used to make on Bajor. It is clear that Ro regards Macias as a father figure, having lost her own father during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor when she was just a child. Santos walks up to Ro and Macias, along with Kalita. He informs Macias that he has spoken with his sources in Starfleet and Ro's story checks out. Macias knew it would and tells Kalita that Ro will stay with her until they can find her a room.

Ro is brought to a meeting with several Maquis. They have received word that the Cardassians are planning to use biogenic weapons against them. They decide that a preemptive strike is needed to keep the Cardassians from poisoning them. Macias says they cannot strike because they are so low on medical supplies. Ro volunteers to steal medical kits from the Enterprise, she tells them that she used to serve on the ship. Kalita is incredulous, noting that the Enterprise is a fortress. Ro assures her that she knows the ship's security systems and that she can steal the medical supplies. Kalita says that she will go along with her. Ro welcomes her both as a helper and a witness.

Act Three[]

Maquis fighter, 2370

Ro's Maquis fighter

The Enterprise receives a distress signal from a Starfleet science ship in the Topin system. The Topin star renders communication and sensors nearly useless, and the Enterprise does not detect Ro and Kalita's ship, which is hidden near a planet. Ro piggybacks a message on the distress signal to alert Picard to her presence on the ship. Worf decodes the message just as Ro and Kalita are about to penetrate the Enterprise's aft deflectors. Picard has the ship be let through and Ro beams the stockpile of medical kits onto the ship. As they leave, Picard orders Worf to fire phasers on their previous position to make it look like they are trying to stop them. Riker tells Picard that now they know what Starfleet means by Advanced Tactical Training.

After Ro and Kalita return to the Maquis compound, Kalita praises Ro for her bravery and Macias remarks that he could tell, despite the Maquis being suspicious of outsiders, he knew from the start that in her heart, Ro was one of them.

Act Four[]

Having gained the trust of the Maquis cell, Ro is given a ship and is allowed to leave the colony alone. She reports to Picard everything she has learned, including the Cardassian plan to use biogenic weapons against them. While they talk in the observation lounge, Picard tells her they have come up with a plan to severely weaken the Maquis; they intend to present a target so threatening that they would commit a large number of ships to stop it. The prospect of biogenic weapons would be a perfect bait and tells Ro to make the Maquis believe that the Cardassians have already finished a biogenic weapon and are supplying it to the colonists via a third party. He intends to send a convoy through the demilitarized zone, and when the Maquis attack the convoy, Starfleet would be waiting in the nearby Hugora Nebula to strike and arrest everyone involved. Ro seems to be uncomfortable betraying her new friends, but she tells Picard that she will do her duty. Picard tells Ro that he knew he could count on her.

She then returns to the colony planet and tells the Maquis that she intercepted a Federation transmission about a Yridian convoy of freighters coming from Deep Space 9. This convoy supposedly carries the last components the Cardassians need to complete their biogenic weapon having already taken possession of others from Ferengi and Pakled transports. Macias decides to tell the other cell leaders and get their help to attack the convoy.

Later, Macias and Ro are sitting in the courtyard of the compound. Macias talks to Ro about the grand feast he is planning when the Maquis finally make the Cardassians leave their homes. Ro tells him it will be a long time before they do any kind of celebrating. Macias tells her she must not give up hope. He remarks that they will make blueberry pie along with hasperat and he will play the belaklavion. Ro remembers her father had played the musical instrument when she was younger and afraid to go to sleep. As she tearfully recalls this, Macias suggests they celebrate tonight, anyway. As Ro and Macias go to the colony's market to pick up food, three hooded figures climb the central steps and open fire on the settlers with phasers. Macias, while trying to help an injured colonist, is shot by a Cardassian. Ro kills the Cardassian and goes over to help the dying old man. Macias tells Ro, just before he dies, that when an old fighter dies, another always steps up to take his place. Ro looks up at the sky with a tear rolling down her face.

Act Five[]

Picard is sitting in the settlement bar on Ronara having a drink. Ro walks in and suggests that they take a table in the back and begin acting like she is a prostitute, and he is negotiating her fee. Ro tells him he needs to cancel the convoy trap as the Maquis haven't fallen for the bait, but Picard knows from intelligence reports that this isn't true. Ro attempts to explain away this discrepancy, but Picard immediately realizes she's lying and demands an explanation. Ro admits that although she was willing to complete the mission despite her hatred of the Cardassians at first, she is now starting to question what she's doing and the people she's supposed to betray despite her desire to not let Picard down. Picard tells Ro that it's too late for her to back out as Starfleet is committed to the operation and she has risked being put before a board of inquiry by lying to him in order to have it called off. He also tells her that he would not hesitate to have her court martialed if she does anything to sabotage the mission. Ro promises to follow her orders but Picard, now very wary of Ro's motives, tells her that Commander Riker will be joining her posing as her relative just to be certain that the plan goes through.

Ro Laren beams away

"So long, Ro. Take care of yourself."
"Goodbye, Will. Energize."

The strike on the convoy is imminent and Riker and Ro are aboard a Maquis ship preparing to attack the convoy. Hidden in the Hugora Nebula, out of sight of the incoming ships, is the Enterprise and other Federation starships. Just as the Maquis are about to cross into Federation space, Ro fires a low intensity particle beam toward the nebula allowing the Maquis ships to see the trap, Riker confronts Ro, who pulls a phaser on him and announces that she can't go through with the plan. Once Starfleet is exposed, they break formation stopping just short of Federation space and Federation jurisdiction. Worf reports this to Picard and that Ro's fighter is heading toward the Enterprise. Picard coldly orders Worf to have Ro placed under arrest the moment she is aboard. Ro transports to Kalita's ship and leaves Riker to take the Maquis ship back to the Enterprise. Before she leaves, with tears in her eyes, she asks Riker to tell Picard she is sorry. He understands and sincerely wishes her the best before she is beamed away.

Picard, betrayed

Picard, betrayed by Ro

Later, in Picard's ready room, Riker says that Ro felt she was doing the right thing and that she seemed more concerned that she was letting down Picard more than anything else. Picard remains silent and unmoving, not even taking Riker's report, so the commander places it on his desk and leaves. After Riker exits, Picard continues to sit silently, his face filled with anger because despite everything he did for her and how much he came to trust Ro, she still chose to betray him.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"Those are Federation ships."
"Isolate one and magnify. The Maquis."

- Riker and Picard, identifying who is attacking the Cardassian ship Vetar

"You are Federation citizens. Your actions are in violation of our treaty with the Cardassians. Call off your attack!"

- Picard, to the Maquis

"I never thought we'd be firing on our own people to protect a Cardassian ship."

- Riker

"We are doing everything in our power to control them."
"The fact that my ship was attacked suggests your efforts have met with limited success."

- Picard, discussing the Maquis situation with Evek

"I've spent the better part of my life fighting the Cardassians. I never thought I'd be helping them out."

- Ro, agreeing to infiltrate the Maquis

"The way I see it, there's one good reason to take this mission and that's to validate your faith in me."

- Ro, to Picard

"It was really nice meeting you."

- Ro, to an unsuspecting man at the bar after having made out with him to disguise herself from Starfleet

"We've learned to be cautious of strangers."
"I understand."
"But I've known since I first met you, that in your heart, you're one of us."

- Macias and Ro

"You have to hang on."
"When an old fighter like me dies… someone always steps forward to take his place."

- Ro and Macias

"When she comes aboard, take her into custody."

- Picard, to Worf about Ro after she betrays Starfleet

"You can take this ship back to the Enterprise."
"You're going with them?!"
"It's been a long time since I really felt like I belonged somewhere. Could you tell Captain Picard something for me?"
"Of course. What is it?"
"Tell him I'm sorry."
"So long, Ro. Take care of yourself."
"Goodbye, Will. Energize."

- Ro and Riker

"She seemed very sure that she was doing the right thing. I think her only regret was that she let you down. Here's my report."

- Riker, to Picard about Ro Laren

Background information[]

Production history[]

Story and production[]

Preemptive strike, second unit

Photo double Richard Sarstedt filming on second unit


  • This is the only episode directed by Patrick Stewart not to feature Data in a prominent role.
  • Like Patrick Stewart here, Avery Brooks also directed the penultimate episode of his series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; he directed "The Dogs of War".
  • The appearance of Nechayev and Evek was intended to add continuity to the developing Maquis arc. Likewise, the use of Klingons, Vulcans, and Native Americans as village extras was a subtle setup for the cast of Star Trek: Voyager. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion? ed., p. ?)
  • The lieutenant commander who Ro Laren refers to as her instructor at Advanced Tactical Training in 2369/2370, and who joined the Maquis, was intended by the producers as a reference to Chakotay. As was the Native American connection made in that episode, and previously in "Journey's End". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 298) In fact, this information is included in Ro Laren's biography at While not canon in the truest sense, that intention was ultimately contradicted in the Voyager episode "In the Flesh", in which Chakotay stated that he resigned his commission on March 3, 2368.
  • As part of the plan to lure the Maquis in with fears of a biogenic weapon, Ro mentions that one of the items being transported into the disputed area is bio-mimetic gel. She says that it is perfectly legal and does not seem concerned about it, stating that it is harmless on its own. However, when talking about this substance in DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight", Captain Sisko states that it is "strictly controlled by the Federation, and not available at any price," implying that the substance is much more dangerous than stated here.
  • This episode marks the fifth and last time Riker participates in an undercover assignment in the series and – like in "Who Watches The Watchers", "First Contact", and "Frame of Mind" – the mission does not end well for him. Riker is also seen going undercover on the planet Barkon IV, when he and Dr. Crusher are searching for Data in the episode "Thine Own Self".
  • This episode includes the only time Ro is ever addressed by her given name (which is said when Picard meets with her undercover at the bar).

Sets and props[]

Cast and characters[]

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]

Uncredited co-stars[]

Photo double[]



2368; Advanced Tactical Training; Bajor; Bajoran; belaklavion; berry; biogenic weapon (aka biogenic device); bio-mimetic gel; bird; blueberry; blueberry pie; board of inquiry; brine; Bularian canapé; "by comparison"; Cardassia; Cardassian; Cardassian border; Cardassian government; Cardassian military; Cardassian territory; court martial; Deep Space 9; Demilitarized Zone; desertion; eye; Federation; firing range; foraiga; Galaxy class decks; hasperat; heart; Hugora Nebula; isomiotic hypospray; Juhraya; Juhryan freighter; Klingon; Kurlan naiskos; leader; magnetascopic interference; Maquis; medkit; monk; Occupation of Bajor; Ornara; outlaw; painting; palm beacon; paramilitary; particle beam; Pendi II; piggyback; plasma flare; preemptive strike; protostar; quarantine pod; red alert; refugee; refugee camp; relief mission; retroviral vaccine; Ro Gale; Ronara Prime; rumor; science ship; sculpture; sensor buoy; sensor range; sickbay; spy; squad leader; Tactical Training instructor; tongue; Topin system; type 8 phaser; Vulcan; Yridian

Starship references[]

Alpha Nine; Alpha Seven; Bajoran interceptor (unnamed); Bajoran raider (unnamed); Deep Space 9; Enterprise-D, USS; Excelsior-class; Federation attack fighter (unnamed 1 and 2); Federation starships in Hugora Nebula; Ferengi transport; Galaxy-class; Galor-class; Gorkon, USS; Maquis fighter (unnamed); Pakled transport; Santos' ship; Vetar; Yridian ship

External links[]

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