|The Next Generation|
|The Arsenal of Freedom|
At the rate that Starfleet loses ships, I'm amazed that they are still in business. They don't lose them to battle either, they just misplace them. The current example is the U.S.S. Drake - it was sent to Minos and hasn't been heard from since. Since the flagship of the fleet doesn't have anything better to do, it goes off to find them, but finds no sign of intelligent life anywhere on the planet. Did they eliminate the useless third? Were they all killed by a virus caught from a dirty telephone?
Minos has an interesting history - it was a major arms dealer and is always keen for a new sale. They shouldn't waste their time talking to Starfleet though, since we all know that the galaxy is peaceful now. Yeah right. While Picard is somewhat taken aback by the automated sales pitch from the planet below: "Peace, through superior firepower", it does stir Worf's blood!
Laughing Boy, Data and Tasha beam down to search for the source of the transmission. Wouldn't it have been easier just to use the sensors? They don't find a transmitter, but they do find Captain Rice - the captain of the missing ship. Do you have those sort of days when you wake up and don't really feel alive? Rice is having one of them, as the sensors don't detect any life signs from him. Riker claims that he is from the Good Ship Lollipop. Keep taking the medication Wil! There's obviously no time for idle banter, as Rice turns into a hovering droid and zaps Riker with a freeze-ray! Tasha doesn't feel politically correct, and destroys the droid.
It's time for a firm and decisive hand - so The Bald Avenger and Dr Social Conscience beam down. Oh dear. Wait a minute, that means that, in order, we have: Captain, First Officer, Second Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Security Chief all down on the planet and with no extra support. Would Starfleet approve of the top 5 officers all beaming down to a know hostile planet, leaving Troi as the most senior officer! Picard sensibly gives temporary command to Lieutenant (Junior Grade) La Forge! One misplaced photon torpedo could make for a fast-track promotion...
Data manages to break Riker out of the stasis field, just as another flying droid arrives. This one is tougher than the last, but is still easily destroyed. For reasons best left to the imagination, Jean Luc and Beverly go off for a stroll through the enchanted rain-forest, and find... a hole! Going down! This shouldn't be a problem, all they have to do is get the Enterprise to beam them up. Nope. Communications have been temporarily disrupted. How convenient.
It doesn't really matter much as the Enterprise has trouble of it's own. It's under attack from a cloaked assailant, and the best laid plans of mice and Worf can't shoot it down. Chief Engineer Logan wants control of the ship, and insists that they break orbit. Geordi acts like a petulant child with a new toy and tells Logan to go find his own ship, because this one's mine!
Things are not going well for our heroes on the ground either. Data, Riker and Tasha manage to combine fire to destroy the third shielded droid, while Bev asks Picard to root her wound. She was taught some witch-craft from her grandmother and thinks it will stop the bleeding. "This is going to hurt" mutters Picard...
"The shields, they canna take this much longer" screams Logan, and Geordi tells him to report to the bridge. It's time to warp away, do a saucer separation and then come back to kick invisible butt! Geordi gives control of the saucer to Logan, and after a pep talk from Troi heads back to Minos with the stardrive.
By an amazing stroke of luck, the hole Bev fell into is not just a cave, it's actually the command centre for the automated salesman. The droids that have been harassing his crew are a demonstration of the Echo Papa 607, the perfect killing system. Picard finally offers to buy one just to stop the next model from completing its mission topside. I wonder how many weeks that will take him to pay off? Time to beam up...
Geordi can't come to the phone right now, because he is playing chasey with a cloaked ship through the atmosphere. As soon as it causes a disturbance, it gives Worf a target to shoot at. Boom! The away team is beamed up, and Daddy comes to the bridge and tells Geordi that it's time for bed. Please put away your toys.