During a slow bridge shift, the Enterprise is struck by quantum filaments that play havoc with the ship's sytems, causing hull breaches and emergency lockdowns. Picard is trapped in a turbolift with three children who have won a science contest. Riker, Data, and Worf leave a shattered Ten Forward to find that they cannot communicate with the upper decks of the ship. Crusher and LaForge are caught in a cargo bay with containers of flammable material while a plasma fire burns in a conduit. Because Troi is the highest-ranking bridge officer to survive, she takes command, assisted by a nervous Miles O'Brien whose pregnant wife is trapped below, plus an aggressive Ro Laren who believes Troi should separate the saucer to protect the crew from an impending warp breach in the dead drive section. Picard, whose ankle breaks in the turbulence, has no way to communicate with the bridge; he must convince the terrified children to climb out of the lift and up the emergency ladders to safety. LaForge and Crusher conclude that to prevent an explosion in the cargo bay, they must evacuate the oxygen feeding the radioactive fire, meaning that they must survive without air for several seconds. Riker and Data crawl through conduits to reach Engineering, though Data sacrifices his body to disable an electrical current and Riker is forced to bring only the android's head. Meanwhile Worf and Keiko O'Brien tend the wounded, but Keiko goes into labor early, making it necessary for Worf to deliver the baby. Because Troi has insisted upon keeping power to the Engineering section, Riker discovers that the ship's engines are very near to exploding. Data's head can hook directly into the control panels, so he repairs the generators that power the containment field. The ship's systems are restored, Keiko gives birth to a healthy baby girl, and Picard is given an award by his charges for keeping them safe.
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