``The Chase''
Stardate: 46731.5
Rating: ****

Edited Length: 45:00
U.S. Airdate: May 9, 1993
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [11.2/3]

Guest Stars
Salome Jens: [Humanoid]
Jogn Cothran, Jr.: [Nu'Daq]
Maurice Roëves: [Romulan Captain]
Linda Thorson: [Gul Ocett]

Special Appearance

Norman Lloyd: "Professor Galen"

Co-Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
Producer: Peter Lauritson
Supervising Producer: David Livingston
Co-Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Teleplay By: Joe Menosky
Story By: Joe Menosky & Ronald D. Moore
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes

[end credit]
Executive Producer: Rick Berman

[closing credits]
Co-Producer: Wendy Neuss
Story Editor: Brannon Braga
Story Editor: René Echevarria

Majel Barrett: Computer Voice


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Extended Synopsis (by Tim Lynch) ------------------------------------

While the Enterprise is on a routine study mission, Picard receives a surprise visit from his old mentor and virtual second father, Professor Galen. Galen brings him a gift - a 12,000-year- old artifact from the Kerl system - and then says that he's on an expedition, and intends to take Picard with him.

In Ten-Forward later that day, they talk, trying to make up for a thirty-year interruption in their relationship. Galen acknowledges that the past decade of his life has seemed very mysterious, with almost no publications or public appearances. When asked what he's been doing all this time, he cryptically asks Picard about "mycopaleontology", a study of fossil relics on the microscopic level. He claims to have made a discovery so monumental that when he announces his findings, "they'll hear it halfway across the galaxy." However, he refuses to tell Picard what those findings actually are, saying that the "price" of that information is agreeing to come with him. The expedition, given limited resources, would last from three months up to a year. Galen says that he needs Picard because he doesn't want his own age and "inadequacies" to prevent the completion of the work. When Picard hedges, citing responsibilities, Galen insists that his responsibilities to history are far more important. Picard promises to sleep on it.

The next morning, he tells Beverly at breakfast of the previous night's conversation, telling her that although he couldn't leave the Enterprise to join Galen, he very much regrets having to hurt Galen a second time by saying no; it reminds him too much of the first time he did so, when he joined Starfleet instead of becoming an archaeologist. "In a way, I wish he'd never come on board the ship..."

He finds Galen in his lab a short time later, and finds that Galen is planning the future of the expedition and assuming Picard will come. When he declines as gently as he can, Galen becomes bitter, comparing Picard to "a Roman centurion exploring the provinces." After this and other equally strong statements, a crushed Galen asks Picard once more to come with him. When Picard says that he cannot, Galen decides to leave the ship immediately in his shuttle, not waiting for his transport.

A short time later, a preoccupied Picard prepares to take the Enterprise to a diplomatic conference on Italia Seven, when suddenly Galen's shuttle sends a distress call that is quickly cut off. They find a Yridian destroyer attacking the shuttle and fire on it, accidentally causing it to explode. While Riker and Worf ponder that, Picard goes to sickbay and orders Galen beamed directly there. Unfortunately, Galen's wounds are too severe, and he dies after telling Picard he was too harsh in his judgements.

What records could be salvaged from Galen's shuttle are examined, and a number of protected files are found. Unfortunately, they contain only blocks of numbers, the meaning of which is unclear. Further, the Yridians (and thus, presumably, their employers) were after those files, which means those employers may have a far better idea of the numbers' meaning. Picard, finding that Galen had last been at Ruah Four, orders the Enterprise there.

Ruah Four seems to be a dead end, with no sign of any great past civilization. Galen's next stop was Indri Eight, which from all records also hosts no past or present civilization, but Picard orders the ship there anyway. When Troi attempts to suggest that Picard is delaying the diplomatic conference for no good reason, he angrily disagrees: "Counselor, this is not simply a case of me taking the Enterprise and its crew on some wild goose chase to purge myself of guilt and remorse! I will not let Galen's death be in vain. Now, if that means inconveniencing a few squabbling delegates for a few days, then so be it; I will take the full responsibility."

Alas, Indri Eight proves no more helpful, as the Enterprise arrives just in time to see a strange plasma reaction completely destroy the planet's biosphere. The motive for such an action is a complete mystery, but Picard theorizes that Galen's files might have been linked to organic matter somehow. He sets the computer searching for a pattern in those files, limited to organic matter data only.

A pattern turns up. The blocks refer to a series of nearly two dozen fragments of DNA, each from a different lifeform across the quadrant - and what's more, the fragments seem chemically compatible. When the representations are linked according to where the compatibilities match up, the pattern is undecipherable, but according to Geordi is clearly not natural.

In fact, the pattern appears to be part of a molecularly coded computer program. Further, Beverly notes that since the fragment from human DNA has been in earth DNA since the earliest life-forms, the program must have been created approximately four billion years ago. Since no other DNA in Federation records contains the common element, Picard sensibly reasons that the remaining pieces must be outside Federation space. They begin checking the non-Federation people on board the Enterprise, and also realize that Indri Eight's destruction means that other groups are aware of the program and its possibly dangerous implications.

The search of the crew turns up negative, and no one can think of any way to proceed, until Picard has a flash of insight. Remembering that Galen mentioned being "in the neighborhood" the previous year when he picked up the Kerlan artifact, he suggests checking out that area. The only workable planet in that area is Loren Three, and they head there as fast as they can.

When they get there, they find some heavily armed company. Two Cardassian warships are there, led by Gul Ocett. Ocett tells them to withdraw until the Cardassian work is finished, but both are interrupted by the sudden arrival of a Klingon ship as well. Picard invites Ocett and Nu'Daq, the Klingon captain, to the Enterprise to discuss the situation.

On board, he gets them all to acknowledge their knowledge of Galen's work and of the program. While the Enterprise has a good number of pieces, the Cardassians have one from the planet below and will fire on anyone attempting to get one themselves - and the Klingons have the fragments from Indri Eight. After some debate over what the eventual purpose is of the program (Nu'Daq believes it to be a weapon, Ocett believes it's a power source), Picard convinces them to share their fragments and let them all be combined on board the Enterprise, with the results to be seen publicly and simultaneously by all three parties. Grudgingly, they agree.

After the merging, however, the program is still incomplete, prompting great frustration from Nu'Daq. However, Picard remains optimistic, suggesting now that the pattern might be one the original designers wanted to be easy to discover. He tells Bev to analyze the pieces by location, extrapolating back to account for four billion years of stellar motion - with luck, the final piece will fall into place. She begins, but the program will take several hours to run.

During that time, Nu'Daq attempts both to wrestle and to bribe Data, with each having equally dismal results for him. Geordi, meanwhile, discovers something very strange in the defensive systems and calls Picard to check...

Later, the analysis is complete, and all gather in the lab. The pattern is very simple, and Bev says the missing piece is in the Ramazad system. Ocett immediately beams out of the lab, and the Cardassian ships begin firing on the Enterprise and on the Klingon ships, targeting the propulsion systems.

However, both are prepared, thanks to Geordi's discovery of Ocett's sabotage. Riker orders the inertial dampers turned off to make the attack "look good", but then everything returns to normal as soon as the Cardassians leave. Nu'Daq's ship, unfortunately, did sustain very slight damage, and rather than take the delay he accompanies the Enterprise to the real site of the missing piece, Vilmora Two.

The planet no longer supports much life, but once did, showing evidence of an ancient ocean. A small pocket of vegetation is located, and Picard, Bev, Worf and Nu'Daq beam down near it. They approach it, but are intercepted close to it by the newly arrived Cardassians, and then all three groups are stopped by a party of Romulans, who have been covertly dogging the Enterprise's footsteps ever since Galen's death.

Ocett threatens to destroy the vegetation rather than let anyone else get the information, and she and the Romulan captain begin negotiating. As they and Nu'Daq argue, Picard and Bev surreptitiously scrape off a piece of fossilized vegetation from the rock face they're standing near, hoping it's still viable. It is, and the program begins to run, altering the tricorder to project an image. All arguments stop, as the tricorder projects the image of a humanoid figure. This figure looks out into empty space, then delivers a statement:

"You're wondering who we are ... why we have done this ... how it has come that I stand before you, the image of a being from so long ago. Life evolved on my planet before all others in this part of the galaxy. We left our world, explored the stars, and found none like ourselves. Our civilization thrived for ages - but what is the life of one race, compared to the vast stretches of cosmic time? We knew that one day we would be gone, and nothing of us would survive - so we left you. Our scientists seeded the primordial oceans of many worlds, where life was in its infancy. The seed codes directed your evolution toward a physical form resembling ours: this body you see before you, which is of course shaped as yours is shaped, for you are the end result. The seed codes also contain this message, which is scattered in fragments on many different worlds. It was our hope that you would have to come together in fellowship and companionship to hear this message - and if you can see and hear me, our hope has been fulfilled. You are a monument, not to our greatness, but to our existence. That was our wish: that you too would know life, and would keep alive our memory. There is something of us in each of you, and so, something of you in each other. Remember us."

The image fades, and Nu'Daq and Ocett are outraged, both at the lack of "substance" in the program and at the very implication that their species could have anything in common. The parties return to their respective ships.

A short time later, as the Enterprise conducts minor repairs to make up for the extensive high- warp traveling they'd been doing, Picard and Beverly discuss the recent events, noting that Picard has left Galen a wonderful legacy. Picard only regrets that it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Bev leaves to start her day, and Riker signals Picard that the Romulan captain is hailing him. Picard receives him.

"Captain, my ships are leaving orbit for Romulan space. Until our next encounter..." "Until then." "It would seem that we are not completely dissimilar after all - in our hopes, or in our fears." "Yes..." "Well, then - perhaps, one day..." "One day."

The Romulans leave, and Picard cradles a figurine from Galen's gift to his breast, lost in thought.

Highlight Listing:
"The Chase" - Picard finds himself in a race with Cardassians, Klingons, and Romulans to solve a four-billion-year old genetic puzzle.
Advertising Headline:
MYSTERY OF THE AGES! A billion-year-old puzzle brings together allies and enemies. But will solving it unleash the galaxy's most dangerous secret?
TV log listing:
Ancient mystery brings together allies and enemies on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

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Andrew Tong

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: November 09, 2010