LaForge finds Riker with a minor injury obtained from a swamp plant during a routine planetary survey. The transporter detects unknown microbes in Riker's body and refuses to transport him aboard, but after beaming down and deciding that the infection is likely not contagious, Pulaski authorizes an override and takes Riker to sickbay, where she concludes that the microbes are spreading from his sciatic nerve throughout his nervous system. The microbes have already caused Riker to lose feeling in his leg, and if they reach his brain, they will kill him. While LaForge and Data return to the planet and conclude that the vines on the planet are predatory, Pulaski tries to find a way to disrupt the microbes and discovers that stimulating different memories triggers the release of endorphons that affect the microbes. Memories involving pleasure or romance seem to encourage organism growth while frightening or unhappy memories suppress it, so Pulaski stimulates centers of Riker's brain that force him to recall basic survival fears. Riker's dreamlike fight for survival echoes the struggle of his body, which ultimately prevails, and the infection disappears.
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