The Enterprise is chosen to host a group of negotiators bidding for the rights to the Barzan wormhole - the only known stable shortcut across the galaxy. While the Ferengi team incapacitates the Federation delegate, Troi carries on a romance with the Chrysalian negotiator, Devinoni Ral, who is working behind the scenes to convince various other bidders to drop out of the competition. Having chosen Riker to bid for the Federation, Picard then agrees that his crew should explore the wormhole before committing to a bid. LaForge and Data take a shuttlecraft through, followed by the Ferengi, who are convinced that the Federation will try to trick them. The other side of the wormhole is reportedly in the Gamma Quadrant, but LaForge and Data conclude that it is not stable on that end and has apparently jumped to the Delta Quadrant. The Ferengi refuse to accept these findings, however. Meanwhile, Troi learns that Ral is part Betazoid like herself and has been manipulating his competitors, including Riker, by pressuring them during the bidding, using his empathic powers to determine their weaknesses. Ral and the remaining Ferengi put on a show for the Barzan, using Ferengi threats to convince the Barzan to sell the wormhole rights to the neutral Chrysalians who are willing to offer convoy services to the Ferengi in the interests of peace. Troi denounces Ral, yet the Barzan and Chrysalians are already committed to an agreement by the time LaForge and Data return to explain that the wormhole is not stable after all. The Ferengi explorers have become trapped in the Delta Quadrant. Troi declines when Ral asks her to come work with him.
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