Captain DeSoto: (over the comm) U.S.S. Hood to Enterprise. Stand by to receive hand-delivered secret orders from Starfleet Command.|
Picard: Thank goodness they're coming from a sensible man like you, old friend. I was worried that we were about to get saddled with another insane admiral.
DeSoto: Starfleet's changed its policy on that, Jean-Luc. They're now outsourcing those jobs to the private sector. I'll beam your civilian passenger over as soon as we've given him another sedative.
Troi: Tam Elbrun is a Betazoid first-contact specialist with extraordinarily strong telepathic powers. You may find him a bit too blunt for your liking.
Picard: From what you say, I gather that he's the sort of man who's not afraid to speak his mind.
Troi: His and everyone else's, actually.
Picard: Welcome a--
Elbrun: Never mind all that, Captain Picard! Yes, I've got your orders right here and no, I do not want to be shown to my quarters! Now cut the useless chatter and let's hit the road -- time's a-wasting!
(exits Transporter Room)
Troi: See what I mean?
Picard: I'm starting to. He makes your mother sound as discreet as a Trappist monk with laryngitis.
Data: A Starfleet probe in Romulan-claimed space has discovered what appears to be a living starship orbiting a star that is about to go supernova.
Elbrun: Correct. The creature's been called "Tin Man" and our job is to reach it before the Romulans so that I can talk to it telepathically.
Riker: Why "Tin Man"? Is it because the probe's data shows that this organic spacecraft doesn't have a heart?
Elbrun: No, it's because nobody liked the first code name that was proposed. They all said that "Species 8472" sounded really dumb.
Picard: I'm worried about our passenger. He seems to have an unstable personality.
Crusher: His file shows that he was born without the ability to screen out the constant chatter of all the minds around him. He must have had a lot of trouble adjusting as he grew up.
Troi: It didn't help that the other kids at school kept teasing him. Whenever he was called up to the blackboard to do a math problem, they'd confuse him by mentally reciting their multiplication tables.
Troi: When did you first sense Tin Man's consciousness calling to you from space?
Elbrun: It was on Chandra V, where I was undergoing Kolinahr training.
Troi: I thought that Kolinahr was a Vulcan practice.
Elbrun: Maybe it is, but the Chandrans have an identical word in their language. In their case, it refers to a strict mental discipline which aims to achieve the telepathic equivalent of stuffing cotton in your ears.
Worf: The glowing green streak which has just passed us is a D'deridex-class warbird! It must be attempting to reach Tin Man first!
Riker: How is that possible? We're supposed to be faster than that class of Romulan ship.
Data: Sensors show the Romulans are overloading their engines. Their warp core burns at both ends; it will not last the flight.
Picard: No doubt -- but as you see, my friends, it gives a lovely light.
Data: The energy pulse sent out by Tin Man has destroyed the Romulan ship and severely damaged the Enterprise.
Riker: This is all your fault, Elbrun! Just what the hell did you tell that creature?
Elbrun: All I said was, "Tin Man... Danger... Romulans Bad."
Picard: Since we're now stuck without warp drive near a star that's about to explode, I wish you'd given Tin Man a more nuanced warning.
Elbrun: Just try sending a telepathic message two billion kilometers one of these days, then complain to me about lack of nuance.
Elbrun: Tin Man is lonely. He used to carry a crew inside his body, but now they're all dead.
Picard: What happened to them?
Elbrun: Tin Man was hit by some high-energy cosmic rays.
Picard: They penetrated his body and irradiated the crew?
Elbrun: No, but they made him sneeze and... well, you can imagine the rest.
Worf: A second Romulan ship is hailing us. Channel open.
Romulan Officer: (over the comm) We observed the destruction of our sister ship by the space creature. We claim the right of vengeance and we shall kill it. If you interfere in this matter, you will be branded blood enemies of the Empire and you will suffer the same fate! (the channel closes)
Picard: Interesting. His speech sounded more Klingon than Romulan.
Riker: I guess this is one Romulan you won't be able to insult because he lacks honour, Mr. Worf.
Worf: On the contrary, sir. To a Klingon, his words show him to be the lowest form of scum imaginable -- a q'al kvek. What you humans call a "plagiarist."
Elbrun: Let me beam aboard Tin Man, Captain. It's the only way I can make full contact with him.
Data: I volunteer to accompany Tam.
Picard: Let me get this straight -- you want to beam into the body of an alien living spaceship that's going to get blown to bits by the Romulans next to a star that's about to go supernova?
Data: Yes sir. Is this a problem?
Picard: It certainly is. You always get to go on all the interesting away missions while I'm perpetually stuck here on the Bridge.
Elbrun: Tin Man existed symbioticaly with his crew. I'm going to take their place.
Data: You must return with me to the Enterprise.
Elbrun: No, this is where I belong. At long last, all the voices are silent; only Tin Man speaks to me now.
Data: Intriguing. It is the first time I have heard anyone claim that mono is superior to multi-channel surround sound.
Wesley: Incredible. Tin Man's just tossed us clear of the Beta Stromgren system in just a few seconds.
Picard: Data? How did you get back here? Where's Tam Elbrun? What happened to Tin Man?
Data: It is a long story, sir. To answer your last question first, Tin Man stated that he had finally achieved his ambition to "join with a carbon-based unit and find the Creator."
Riker: And what about Tam? Should we report him as a casualty?
Data: Listing him as "missing" might be more appropriate.
Troi: You look thoughtful.
Data: Coming back to the Enterprise has led me to understand the old expression "There is no place like home." I am still puzzled, however, over the odd mechanism which Tam had me use to return here in the blink of an eye.
Troi: I'll bet he told you to click your boots together three times and to wish that you were here.
Data: That is correct. How did you know?
Troi: Just a lucky guess.
(The Enterprise heads back towards Kansas at Ludicrous Speed)