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Edited Length: 44:59
U.S. Airdate: February 14, 1993
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [14.1/2]
Renee Jones: [Lt. Acquiel Uhnari]
Wayne Grace: [Governor Torak]
Co-Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
Producer: Peter Lauritson
Supervising Producer: David Livingston
Supervising Producer: Frank Abatemarco
Co-Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Teleplay By: Brannon Braga & Ronald D. Moore
Story By: Jeri Taylor
Directed By: Cliff Bole
Executive Producer: Rick Berman
Co-Producer: Wendy Neuss
Story Editor: Brannon Braga
Story Editor: René Echevarria
Reg E. Cathey: Morag
Majel Barrett: Computer Voice
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The Enterprise investigates a relay station which has gone silent, but find only a stray dog and "cellular residue" which appears to be the remains of one of the station's two officers. Nearby blood traces are those of the junior officer, Lt. Aquiel Uhnari, so it is assumed that the residue is hers. A search begins for the second officer, one Lt. Keith Rocha, and for the station's missing shuttlecraft, which Rocha presumably took. Meanwhile, Geordi searches the station logs for any trace of evidence, but due to station damage can get no more than Uhnari's personal correspondence with her sister. After seeing dozens of these logs, Geordi comes to feel as though he knows "Aquiel", and also has at least a suspicion or two about her murder.
The station is near Klingon space, and a Klingon commander, Morag, is cited in Aquiel's logs as repeatedly harassing the station - a situation which added tension to an already chilly relationship between Aquiel and Rocha. Picard, seeking to cover the Klingon angle, speaks to the local Klingon governor, Torak, and through veiled threats about bringing Gowron in to examine Torak's work, manages to convince Torak to help with the investigation. However, when Torak's ship arrives, the investigation is thrown into an uproar - for on board is Lt. Aquiel Uhnari, very much alive.
Aquiel claims that Rocha suddenly attacked her for no reason, and that she remembers nothing after the attack. Meanwhile, as new evidence showing a Klingon presence on the station comes to light, Picard demands to be allowed to speak to Morag about his involvement in the matter; Torak grudgingly agrees. As work continues on analyzing the cellular residue, now expected to be Rocha's remains, Geordi and Aquiel start forming a close friendship, despite (or perhaps because of) Geordi admitting to advance knowledge of her through her logs.
A search of Rocha's record turns up a spotless and bright career, and a similar search of Aquiel's file shows an argumentative, difficult officer. In addition, a search of Aquiel's shuttle reveals the missing phaser from the station's weapons locker, set to a level high enough to kill. Riker and Worf confront Aquiel with this information, but desist when she protests innocence and Geordi defends her. All agree to wait for Morag's imminent arrival, but Riker strongly suggests, off the record, that Geordi distance himself somewhat from Aquiel until the situation is understood.
Morag arrives, and admits to boarding the station when hails went unanswered. Under further pressure, he admits to covertly obtaining some coded messages, but claims to have killed no one. Picard orders that he remain aboard. Meanwhile, however, Geordi finally gains access to Rocha's logs, only to find several missing. He discovers that Aquiel erased those logs because they contained a harsh letter to Starfleet about her attitude, and points out that she's digging herself in deeper by destroying evidence. He convinces her not to run, and they become romantically involved. She invites him to join her in a rite that increases intimacy for her species, and he joyfully accepts.
Dr. Crusher's analysis of the cellular residue reveals something startling: it is not from Lt. Rocha at all. Rather, it is a peculiarly structured DNA typical of that of a "coalescent organism", an organism that consumes, then becomes, new bodies periodically to survive. The conclusion she and everyone else reaches is that "Rocha" was in fact a coalescent by the time he arrived on the station, and that he attacked Aquiel to get a new body. They conclude that either Morag or Aquiel is currently the same coalescent, and put both under close examination, ruining Aquiel's rite with Geordi just in time. Geordi, bitter over what he sees as unfair treatment of Aquiel, rests in his quarters - but quickly finds that the coalescent is in fact Aquiel's "dog", Mora. It attacks him and attempts to absorb him, but he destroys it just in time. Her name cleared, Aquiel heads to starbase 212 for reassignment, thinking that she might put her name on the long waiting list for a position on the Enterprise.
Technical design, graphic design, interactive features, HTML & CGI programming by Andrew Tong. || All materials Copyright © 1987-1995 by their respective authors. || Document created: January 28, 1995 || Last Modified: July 12, 1999