A gravely injured Riker is brought into a hospital on a planet where the doctors have never seen a being like him before. Though the doctors believe he must be an alien, Riker claims that his physiology is the result of birth defects and claims to be Malcorian, like all of them. While the doctors debate whether to tell the planetary security force, Picard and Troi beam into the offices of Mirasta Yale, the Minister of Science, who has been preparing for her planet's first warp drive test. They explain that her people are about to enter galactic society and admit that they have been monitoring her people as they developed the technology to enter space. Yale advises them not to tell Chancellor Durken that they have had researchers posing as Malcorians, citing the traditional belief among many of her people that they are the center of the universe. She promises to help them find Riker, but before she can do so, frightened doctors beat a still-weak Riker and summon the conservative Minister of Security, Krola, who begins an interrogation. A meeting with Durken convinces the chancellor that the arrival of the Enterprise does not represent the beginning of a conquest, but he is furious when he learns that Picard has failed to disclose that there were Starfleet officers in disguise on the planet. Fearful that Durken will "surrender" to the alien "invaders" without a fight, Krola shoots himself with Riker's phaser in an attempt to convince his people that the Enterprise officers have hostile intentions. Yale leads Crusher to Riker; she saves him and concludes that Krola is not badly injured since the phaser was set on stun. Though Durken accepts that the Enterprise has come in peace, he tells Picard that his people are not ready to join other spacefaring races, and asks the Federation to leave his planet alone.
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