While on Earth, the crew of the Enterprise-C and Admonitor discover what has really happened in the sixty years they've been gone.
Edward Shield and Lianna Young are both standing outside the waiting room of the Federation Council chamber. They are to meet with the Council, the president and the admiralty of Starfleet regarding their sudden appearance on Earth. Both of them feel like they're in trouble, and they have no reassuring words to say to each other to the contrary.
They enter. Presiding over the meeting are the Federation President - a Bolian - Admiral Nechayev, Admiral Janeway, Admiral Folonova, Admiral Hunter, Admiral Carlton, Admiral Calhoun, Admiral Picard, Admiral Michaels, Rear Admiral Mcbeath, Vice Admiral Cadmium, Rear Admiral Shelby, Admiral Atreides and several others. Captain Anders, a highly respected Starfleet officer who, despite a larger than life reputation, reminds Shield disturbingly enough of both Sanders and Garvic Teel's portly assistant, begins by addressing the sudden convalescence of Captain Halliwell caused by his proximity to them, and therefore asks the council that they should be quarantined until their threat level can be determined.
Admiral Picard says that this is ridiculous: they, being both members of the Federation and mostly humans to boot, are required to a fair treatment at their hands, which he believes won't be served by quarantine. However, Vice Admiral Cadmium agrees with Captain Anders: their potential threat should be assessed before they are welcomed with open arms. Rear Admiral Mcbeath agrees, as do Admiral Calhoun and Admiral Nechayev. Admiral Janeway says that she, along with Captain Barclay were exposed to the crew of the Enterprise-C and the Admonitor for a longer period of time than Captain Halliwell and they have experienced no ill side-effects. Admiral Shelby, Admiral Picard and Admiral Carlton agree.
With the members divided on a decision, they agree to put it to a vote. During which time they allow their crew to enjoy a limited-shore-leave on Earth while they deliberate.
Having now some time to breathe, the crew leave their respective ships to spend their down-time. Dr. Boreas, however, asks permission to take Captain Halliwell, still suffering from his affliction, to a professional Starfleet medical officer in order to better alleviate his suffering. He is granted permission and Boreas takes Captain Halliwell with him via life support unit, despite protests from First Officer Madden.
None of the personnel at Starfleet Medical are able to find a diagnosis for Captain Halliwell's ailment, but they all agree that he has almost run out of time. Just as Boreas begins to despair, he runs into a civilian woman who claims to have medical training and asks for Halliwell to be brought to her quarters so she can fully examine his condition.
When they arrive at her place, somewhere in the "No Man's Zone" of Los Angeles, Boreas finds it to be set up with both medical equipment and musical instruments. She explains that she majored in medicine at Starfleet Academy, but chose to take up music as her profession. She works quickly, saying that she doesn't have much time to waste since she has a music performance in several minutes. After a rather quick examination (one which Boreas falsely believes was too quick), she says that what he has is a completely new disease and therefore there is no cure for it, but she will be able to manufacture a treatment.
In less than ten minutes, she whips up a formula which she prescribes Dr. Boreas to give to Captain Halliwell once every day in order to combat the affects of his ailment. Dr. Boreas says that he wishes he could have had her help with CMO duties, and thanks her, but realizes that he doesn't know her name.
She says that he can call her Clarke.
Since the crew is relatively small, the others - Nox, K'hallA, Rookwood, Loghri, Jenkins, Werner and K'Ragdha - decide to stick together (after a majority vote, with all of them against Nox's one vote to go separately). Undecided on where to go, they wander together through the streets of upper Los Angeles, trying to find something to do this late at night. The sight of a pub called "The Old Man of the Sea" catches their attention and they enter therein.
Upon entering, they find that it is no ordinary pub but a nightclub. A crowd of mostly humans but some aliens also crowd the room. A short, balding human approaches them and gives them each a data PADD which shows what services may be found here. Nox decides to use the holo-suite, K'hallA heads to the bar and the others simply decide to wander about and check out everything.
Nox enters the holo-suite room, activates the program and then seals the room. It is Romulus which he is enjoying, though he knows that it is but a shadow that shall never exist again. Safe from the judgmental and prejudiced humans outside, Nox breaks down in tears.
Meanwhile, K'hallA arrives at the bar and orders blood-wine. Half-way through her first tankard, she sees a female half-Human half-Klingon trying to stomach a single shot-glass of the same drink. The half-Klingon becomes smashed after just the one shot. K'hallA takes her aside to a booth to let her sober up, and while she does, she hears the half-Klingon mutter some very strange words while drunk. Once they reach the booth, K'hallA asks her name: she replies that it is L'taL Shield-Jones. K'hallA asks if she was adopted, and L'taL says that she was, and she never met her birth-parents. When K'hallA reveals that she is her mother, L'taL attacks her in a drunken fury, demanding to know why she was abandoned at birth. K'hallA says that she was taken from her before birth, but her drunken daughter is unreasonable and starts a fight.
After parting company with K'hallA and Nox, the others take in the sights of the nightclub. Several of the dancers they see on raised platforms, K'Ragdha notices, are wearing strange neck collars. Rookwood takes out a tricorder and examines one from a distance: it is a neural inhibitor, designed to deliver a debilitating shock to the brain via remote control. K'Ragdha therefore concludes that they might be slaves. Just then, Werner sees a darkened room that says "Couples Only" and sees only pairs - male-female, or sometimes male-male, female-female or several androgynous ones - going inside. He sees that at least one of the people in each group is wearing the same collar.
Alicia Rookwood suddenly gets the urge to visit the restroom, and the other four look down at their PADDs to see what else there is to be found here. Aside from the gambling dens, there is a special notice on the PADD screen that a live music performance will begin shortly. Jenkins, Loghri and K'Ragdha decide to see this, stating that, since they still have their comm-badges, every person is just a touch away.
In the woman's restrooms, Rookwood is vomiting. The idea that here, in an "idyllic" world, the debauchery that she heard of here still exists really got to her. Someone then asks her if she's okay, but she does not reply. The voice is strange, and yet familiar like the voice of a best friend or a close relative. A woman about her age comes in and finds her bending over the toilet. Thinking she's drank too much, the stranger takes her a sink - remarking that the sonic-hygiene machines might do permanent ear damage - and cleans her face up. Just as the two look into each other's eyes, they realize something: there is a resemblance between the two of them. The moment of recognition ends abruptly as Rookwood's comm-badge buzzes, and Werner asks her to come find them.
Meanwhile, Werner, Loghri and K'Ragdha have bumped into someone from the Enterprise: Dr. Boreas. He tells them that he was told to come here by some people who knew someone called Clarke, whom he wanted to meet. Just then, Rookwood meets up with them just in time for the show to start. As the band starts playing, Boreas sees that the singer is Clarke.
The musicians play well, and Clarke is an excellent singer. But half-way through the performance, Starfleet Security enters the club, arresting two patrons who have started a fight. When K'Ragdha realizes that one of them is K'hallA he gathers the others together, collects Nox from the holo-suites, and follow security as they leave the club with their prisoners.
While the crew partied, Lianna Young and Edward Shield returned to their ships. Katie, Zhang and Wellington are on the USS Admonitor, protecting the S'srelli warp drive from several curious Starfleet engineers and scientists wanting to take it apart and examine it. Young suddenly remembers the warning the late Andorian engineer said before she vaporized him, but refuses to acknowledge that he may have been right.
Wellington and Katie remain on the Admonitor to guard the warp core, Young and Zhang retire to the captains' cabin and Shield, with nothing better to do, decides to visit Earth again. While he is in France, at the headquarters of the Federation, he meets someone he never thought he'd ever get to see...
Picard is honored to meet someone from an Enterprise of the past, but Shield can see resentment in Picard's eyes: he thinks that, perhaps, it is because Picard had to suffer the decay of old age whereas he has not aged a day over twenty-nine.
- Here is something of their conversation which they had...
Shield: It has been very long, Jean-Luc.
Picard: Long indeed.
Shield: And you have changed much, so I see. You're not quite the fighter I heard about you.
Picard: We've all done things we regret, Ed. But let us bury the past, for it counts not to waste life away by looking behind us.
Shield: Sure about that? If we don't learn from the mistakes of the past, we're doomed to repeat them.
Shield: Still the eternal optimist?
Picard: Still the eternal pessimist?
Shield: We've had this conversation before, Jean-Luc.
Picard: That's ADMIRAL Picard, ensign. You haven't learned anything, have you?
Shield: I do not wish for us to be at odds.
Picard: Agreed. So, what do you think of the 25th century?
Shield: It's different.
Picard: It is indeed. The problems that our generation faced back in the 2340s have been completely removed. The Federation has endured dozens of threats from without, but the human spirit triumphs again.
Shield: But has it endured threats from within?
Picard: There are no threats to the security of the Federation from within; that's nonsense!
Picard: I stand by what I said.
Picard: You take my words out of context...
Shield: No, I am merely setting your words into context as I see it presented.
Picard: Well you're wrong. We do not bend the will of the aliens in the Federation to ours; they realize the strength of our spirit and come to us willingly.
Shield: Still preaching the same bull-[expletive]? Man's faculties are on par with God?
Picard: [laughs] There is no God. Religion is a scare-tactic created by tyrants to control the minds of ignorant people everywhere. And I see you haven't changed at all; still holding on to out-dated concepts of morality and virtue.
Shield: I hold to my God, if that's what you mean.
Picard: In 2287, James Kirk discovered that God does not exist. There: I show you REAL proof that affirms my point. And where is YOUR proof? It is a laughable folly, a mockery of science, logic and reason.
Shield: Kirk never said that God didn't exist; he said that He existed within each of us. I may not subscribe to his ideas of reformed religion, but I do believe that God exists. Without him, all of man's greatest achievements are vain and naught.
Picard: NO! That's where you're wrong! Humanity never united itself by holding on to the pathetic dogma of a supreme being: they rejected it as out-dated, as the source for all violence and blood-shed on this Earth and they discarded it. And now, over three hundred years after that fact, we have become greater than the pathetic idols we once bowed down to in ignorance and fear. To see you suggest that we turn our backs on progress and return to bowing down to those same piles of stone and clay is an affront to EVERYTHING the Federation believes in; its an insult to everything I stand for! And I caution you to use your words VERY carefully; such talk may have been allowed in the 24th century, but it is never allowed at all in this time!
Both are silent afterwards, for Shield has proven his point through Picard's response. Despite this, Picard says that they should continue this discussion aboard "his" ship as soon as possible. Before Shield can answer, his comm-badge buzzes. Werner reports that K'hallA has been jailed.
Shield arrives in Los Angeles shortly, where he meets Nox, Werner, K'Ragdha, Rookwood, Jenkins, Dr. Boreas and Loghri. They tell him about the incident at the nightclub, which he is not happy about and informs them what Young might say about it. They then take him to the holding center, where Starfleet Security has K'hallA in custody. They tell him about the brawl she had with a Starfleet officer named L'taL Shield, which Edward secretly believes may have been the child he sent into the future years ago. He meets with L'taL first, apologizing for how K'hallA acted. He doesn't reveal who he is just yet, but tells her that, if she ever needs help, she can count on him. He then asks that the guards release K'hallA, but separately so as to not start another fight. As they do, he overhears the guards mentioning that the nightclub has been searched on account of rumors of Maquis sympathizers located therein. One wishes that they don't close the place down, since he has grown rather fond of it; the other replies by saying that it will never be closed down on account of a few Maquis, considering all the other things they've gotten away with on the watch of the Federation.
After K'hallA is freed, she tells Shield that L'taL is her daughter. He says that he figured this out, but that they should give her time and space to accept them into her life first. K'hallA grudgingly agrees to this and they all beam back onto the Enterprise-C.
Once there, Shield calls Young forward and begins questioning the crew regarding the nightclub. He tells them that he overheard Starfleet Security officers mentioning legalized but "immoral" actions going on there, and he wants to know exactly what they are: one by one, from the slaves to the gambling, all is told. Shield then makes a statement:
- Ladies and gentlemen, our work is incomplete. We came to the future to find our purpose, and I believe we have found it. These injustices cannot go unpunished. We have to do something about it; if not, the Federation becomes corrupt again. And then... ...if it is corrupted again, there may be only one solution...