^ Absolutely MikeS. I could buy that as a better motivation, and I agree NebusJ that the concept isn't a bad one, it's really just the name-drop of Kirk that seems a bit "meh" to me. On with the next summary: (Original source: "Creating The Next Generation" by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, Boxtree Publishing 1994, ISBN 0-7522-0843-8.) 4. "THE LAST OUTPOST" Plot Summary: One of the things that TNG very much had on the agenda was the introduction of a new threat to replace the Klingons. In both draft form and in realisation, "The Last Outpost" was intended to do that. The draft outline is dated May 1st, 1987. The Enterprise is pursuing a small Ferengi ship that has attacked a mining colony on Gamma 12 and stole a machine whose purpose is to allow more thorough mining with minimum risk. The chase takes them through an asteroid belt, where the Ferengi ship takes refuge. Eventually, they are located to a small planet. The Enterprise is about to open hailing frequencies, when a much larger Ferengi ship, described as being 'three times larger' than the Enterprise, appears behind them. The Enterprise prepares for battle, but find themselves unable to fire. The assumption is made that the larger Ferengi vessel has done something to disable them. As Picard attempts to escape, they find that they are being held there by a tractor beam. And then the Enterprise's data-banks are accessed by an outside force, firstly their tactical knowledge, then biology, then history. It's clear that somebody is systematically looking through everything. Whoever is doing this has drained power, which poses a real risk to the Enterprise and her crew. The two Ferengi ships remain stationary. After some consideration, the crew decide they are doing nothing -- why disable the Enterprise and then not make any move? What is their plan? Some kind of intimidation? At a meeting, Tasha gives her report in terms of how they may be able to fight their way out, adding that "it may have been a mistake to assign families to this ship". Picard argues the last point, declaring he will do anything he can to ensure the safety of those aboard, even if it means surrender. Communication with the Ferengi is finally made after Picard decides to do exactly that: offer surrender terms. His opposite number from the larger Ferengi vessel, Daimon Taar, appears on the screen (the Ferengi ship interior is described as being ultra-bright, apparently because 'The Ferengi have bad eye-sight so they need to operate in an atmosphere of intense light' -- seriously, THIS is how they introduce their replacement for the Klingons? ). Before they can discuss anything, the Daimon asks Picard how he has managed to disable two Ferengi starships -- it becomes clear that all three vessels are being held by an unknown fourth party, probably on the surface of the planet. Data theorises that they are in the Tkonian Empire, an area of space destroyed 200,000 years ago. To enter the empire required visiting a 'gateway planet', where upon it was necessary to trade with a 'gatekeeper' to gain access. Failure to do this usually resulted in death. It is wondered if this is exactly what they will find on the surface. Daimon Taar re-establishes contact, and contact is also made with Letak, the captain of the smaller Ferengi vessel. Together, the three captains agree that a joint landing party would be a good idea, consisting of members of Enterprise's crew, as well as those of Letek's ship. After beaming down, the away team (Riker, Beverly, Geordi, Data and Tasha) arrive in different areas due to the electromagnetic energy in the atmosphere of the planet. It takes little time for them to regroup. As Riker tries to contact the ship, we see crystals on the surface appear to get larger as they absorb energy from the communicators. Back on the ship, they too have found their energy reserves beginning to dwindle; it won't be long before the planet takes enough energy from the ship to make life support fail. Data theorises the crystals are electromagnetic "sponges", perhaps a remnant of a civilisation/technology that no longer exists. Geordi discovers what is described as an 'electomagnetic waterfall', shooting upwards into the sky, presumably the souce of the energy drain on the ships. The away team are ambushed by the Ferengi from Letek's ship, but as the Ferengi open fire the beams move around our crew. Tasha finds that her phaser too has the same effect. The energy from the phasers are being deflected into the crystals around them, which harmlessly absorb their energy. After some arguing back and forth about the mining equipment (the Ferengi claim ownership of the planet Gamma 12 and say the Federation are mining the planet illegally; Tasha admits the Federation didn't even know the planet was 'owned' by anybody), the two crews come to an understanding and agree to investigate together. Looking around, they are set upon by a creature which appears to the humans like a rabid dog, but which appears to the Ferengi as something called a Uvex (probably an equivalent). One of Letek's men jumps instinctively to save Tasha from the 'Uvex', before they all realise the creature is an illusion. The Ferengi suffers a cut, which Beverly attends to. Later, they are attacked by a much larger group of these creatures, and together the Ferengi and the humans work together to banish the illusion. They find themselves at the gateway, where a holographic keeper, Dilo, denies them access. It claims they have not passed the test. Dilo admits to being confused as to why the Ferengi and the humans are working together. Until he understands the reason for the contradiction, he can not let them pass, nor can he destroy them. Data confirms that they seem to have discovered a part of the Tkonian Empire, and the Ferengi Letek opines that it seems the gatekeeper is unaware that it's Empire fell long ago (Dilo is intrigued by this). Data continues that unless they can pay the price, they will never leave. Dilo consults what it calls "The Seat Of Knowledge", and sadly confirms the fall of the Tkonian Empire. The planet, Dilo explains, contains the vast knowledge of the empire, but now it has nobody to govern it's use. Riker suggests that perhaps the gatekeeper can become the librarian of the knowledge, and that "if you truely value information, then share it with others. Let every nation share the information of a thousand centuries, to help us learn to lower our defenses, to surrender to wisdom and a higher truth". Dilo reacts favorably to the proposition, and Riker, entering into a deal with Letek, affirms that the planet will be accessible to all, human, Ferengi or others alike: "No culture will acquire more information than it has the wisdom to use". How It Differs From The Broadcast Version: The outline version of "The Last Outpost" is astonishingly close to the final broadcast version. Perhaps the biggest differences are in the Ferengi: they are depicted as moderately more credible here, and there are two Ferengi ships rather than simply one. The away teams work more closely together after their weapons fail them on the surface (an image that brings to mind "Errand of Mercy"), with one Ferengi even selflessly leaping to Tasha's defence. Perhaps the biggest clue for why the script was re-written is in the details that are missing, but don't effectively change the story much: The broadcast version features no 'Ferengi Mothership' coming to the aid of the smaller vessel, it features no dog-beasts on the planet, nor many other expensive optical effects like the electromagnetic waterfall. These elements were clearly removed on reasons of cost. Dilo is also a much less powerful figure in the outline draft than in the broadcast version, appearing here to be an out-of-touch and confused old man. Another crucial difference is in the ending: here in the outline, Riker and the gatekeeper never treat the Ferengi as less than they are, but in the broadcast episode the gatekeeper recognises humans as being more "noble" than the Ferengi; something which Riker plays up to as a means of gaining an advantage. The Ferengi in the outline come across as more 'normal', not the witless creatures we saw in the broadcast episode. But on the whole, the outline and the final broadcast version share much closer DNA than some of TNG's other season one stories do to their early drafts.