A possible cure for the rage virus is discovered...
The Admonitor and the Enterprise-C warp into the Beta system. The Titan is strangely inactive on the other side of the third planet. Scans show Shield's life-sign on the planet below, moving rapidly. Young, Nox, K'hallA, Krall, Ar'jykke, and Loghri beam down to the third planet to rescue the captain.
Only when they beam down, they encounter monster-Shield. Seeing with rage and bloodlust at them, the creature attacks. Both of K'hallA's arms are dislocated, Loghri is rendered comatose after a severe defense of Ar'jykke, whose EV suit was punctured, rendering him useless. Krall and Nox, who gave what assistance they could, beamed Ar'jykke, K'hallA and Loghri on to the Admonitor's Sick Bay. He tries to convince Young that this beast isn't the captain, but she refuses to believe so. Just as he is about to take her back by force, Young forcibly reminds Nox of the many times that Shield has saved her from terrible circumstances, saying that she, in her selfishness, never repaid him. She opts to stay in order to save the man she cares about. Just before Nox beams back to the ship, he sees Young carried off by the monster-Shield.
On Beta III, the monster-Shield rampages through the indigenous towns, with Young in its hand always as its prisoner. After it kills nine and sets three buildings on fire, it retreats into the desert on the outskirts of the largest town and stops at the edge of a pool of water. It seems that it will leave Young here, since it has dropped her and refuses to acknowledge her presence. However, the beast is actually mesmerized by its reflection. For, in its mind, the reflection is of Edward Shield, appalled at the sins the monster created and begging him to let go...somehow. But the beast does nothing more than to howl at the sky.
Meanwhile, on the USS Titan, Riker, Tuvok and Troi are in Sick Bay, along with all the other survivors of the rampage of the monster-Shield. Tuvok was uninjured and Riker was only bruised when he was run down by the beast. Troi, however, bears a shallow gash on her stomach from where the creature threw her off it with its claws. The wound is not serious, and Dr. Ree is confident that it will heal up on its own without medical assistance. All three of them are allowed to return to duty. However, Troi becomes unnaturally moody and asks to be dismissed to her quarters.
Once there, she begins seeing apparitions of those she once knew - her mother, her father, her husband, her son Ian, Captain Picard, Data, Worf, Barclay, Guinan, Shinzon and many others - all of whom berate her for being weak and unworthy. She tries to dismiss them, but she slowly begins to break. A howling voice coming from apparently nowhere beckons her to give in to the rage and destroy these apparitions, saying that it is the only way she can be free. She calls Riker to her room and tells him about the problem.
Meanwhile, on the USS Admonitor, Nox is prepared to take control of the ship, since he says that both Captain Young and Shield have disappeared. Izg'raja once again asks to be given tactical command, but Nox denies this, since he is in distress over the suddenness of the task he has inherited. He then contacts the Enterprise-C, under Rookwood's command since K'hallA is in Sick Bay on the Admonitor. Nox tells Rookwood that they have to leave the system immediately because they are in danger from the Titan. Almost as soon as he says the name of the ship, it approaches them from the other side of the planet.
A communications channel is opened and Riker requests that they combine forces in order to find "their missing captains". Nox asks why the sudden interest in whether Shield or Young survives. Riker says that he has no wish to start a conflict with them, not when people are being hurt on the planet below. Despite his misgivings, Nox agrees.
On the planet, Riker, Troi and Tuvok are met with by Nox, Rookwood and Krall. The Romulan says that he brought them as insurance in case they try to abduct either captains. Riker says that he has no deception in mind, but Nox, remembering what Captain Young told him about humans still being capable of lying, doesn't send the others back.
They spend the rest of the planet's day-cycle exploring the ruined towns, all of which belong a cult known as "The Body", who pray that Landru save them from this new terror. Riker dismisses this as native superstition and continues the investigation until nightfall comes at the last rampaged town. Here they find Young wandering through the wreckage. She tells them that the monster left her and she began trying to find civilization, only to find that the monster had come back and destroyed everyone in this town.
That night, they set up a camp-site on the outskirts of the ruined town. Half-way through the first watch (Nox), their sleep is disturbed by Troi crying out for someone to silence the voices. Nox and Young then call the others to arms and, with phasers drawn, order an explanation from the captain of the USS Titan.
Riker says that he discovered shortly after the monster-Shield escaped the Titan that it had infected his wife with whatever it had when it had cut her with its claws as it tried to escape. Riker says that he had hoped to capture the beast and use its DNA to find a cure. Young, angry at having Shield treated as nothing more than an asset in a test experiment, hits Riker and keeps hitting him until Tuvok tries to "nerve-pinch" her, which causes Nox to intervene. But while the brawl ensues, Deanna Troi undergoes radical transformation as the rage virus has taken over her mind, turning her into a beast similar to monster-Shield which then runs off into the night.
The monster-Troi finds the monster-Shield, during which the "conscious thought" of each person, represented by their true forms in each other's mind, try to reason with the other. Troi is begging to be released from the torment the infection has put her under, but Shield becomes more and more distant, focusing rather on the unfairness of his own life and the mistreatment he has received at everyone's hand from his father onward.
Meanwhile, while Riker and Tuvok returned to the Titan to use Troi's infection to track down the monster-Shield and kill it like Admiral Michaels and Captain Halliwell suggested in the first place, Lianna Young and the away team are about to give up all hope of finding Shield or saving him. As they go they are about to leave, they encounter Balok, the last living survivor of the once great First Federation. He asks them why they have given up so easily. When asked what he means, he relates to them his life-story, about how, after his encounter with the "new" Federation, he later became obsolete when he discovered that the First Federation had collapsed eons ago and therefore he became a drifter until Landru gave him enlightenment.
Young is skeptical, since, from her research, Landru was a computerized-deity destroyed by James T. Kirk on this very planet close to one hundred eighty years ago. Balok tells them that Landru actually DOES exist and that he can help their friends be cured of their affliction. When asked how he knows about the rage virus, he tells them the tales of the rage virus that devastated the First Federation eons ago and how, with Landru's help, they were able to save the galaxy from the plague the rage virus brought with it. He says that, having seen what Shield is, he knows that it can be nothing more than the rage virus. He tells them, with his dying breath (since he is close to death from having been mauled by monster-Shield), to seek out Landru before their friends are lost forever.
The two monsters run through the ruins of a village the monster-Shield had recently destroyed, but see pillars of smoke rising to the sky. None of the bodies of the dead remain, and the two head for the smoke. They are stopped by a hooded and cloaked humanoid, who commands them to be at peace. He introduces himself as Landru the Enlightened. He seems to possess great power for, when monster-Shield becomes impatient and tries to pull corpses off the pyres, Landru uses his powers to bind him to the ground. He says that they have spread their curse to the poor people of "the Body" of Beta III, and now he must burn their corpses so they don't perpetuate the curse by falling to darkness. The monster-Troi tries to attack him, but he also binds her to the ground with his powers. He then tells them both that what he will do for them will save them from their affliction, but won't work unless they choose to accept his help.
Landru begins chanting an ancient mantra, and holds his hands outstretched over each of them. Suddenly, to their eyes, the waking world has disappeared. They have entered into the depths of their troubled minds, where both of them are being pursued by spectres of those mentioned before. The afflicted, appearing as their true selves, are attacked by the spectres who attempt to keep them fighting them: but for every spectre that they destroy, two more coalesce into being. The image of Landru is visible to both of them, and calls out for them to stop fighting these ghosts, or else it will consume them for all time. After some great difficulty, Troi is able to forget them and the specters disappear, after which she disappears in a ray of light.
But Shield cannot let go. The images, having taken on the forms of his enemies and friends who betrayed him, are coming upon him en masse, and he continues to fight them. Landru says that they will never go away as long as he holds on to them and remembers the pain they caused. Shield says that he can never forget what they did to him, and Landru says that he was not allowed to live to chase ghosts until his dying day, but that he must let these shades go or else he will never realize his full purpose.
After a great struggle, Shield forsakes the images of the past and they dissipate. He then coalesces into the material world...naked. Landru gives both of them a pair of brown robes to wear and says that his time to depart has come, but that he will answer some of their questions if they desire to ask.
Troi asks what had afflicted them. Landru says that it was a rage virus that attaches itself to the victim's brain, causing them to be more open to negative memories and suggestions. If given enough time, or if the victim's mind is opened unexpectedly, the virus will begin taking control of the rest of the victim's body, turning it into what they had become. Had it been allowed to continue, the virus would have continued its terrible work, turning them into killing machines that eventually would kill whatever got in their path and die from being consumed by the virus. However, he tells them that, because they chose to forsake the negative memories the virus was feeding off of, they have saved the galaxy from a terrible plague.
Shield then asks what his purpose is, since it was the lack of a purpose that has plagued him for now two years, and the hope of a purpose was it that he clung to in order to forsake the virus. Landru says that he - Shield - makes his own future and purpose, and therefore should have had it all along. Landru says that he must depart - though he is extremely vague in saying what this means - and gives them his blessing before sending them on their way.
He, meanwhile, was found by Lianna Young and the away team. She begs him to return with them, since, now that he is apparently cured, they can leave before something bad happens. However, Shield says that he has chosen to leave the Enterprise for a time in order to discover his purpose, after which time he will return and the corruption will end. Young asks how long this will be, but he says...
- "As long as it takes. You'll pardon me if I don't follow your lead, but it's time I find my purpose...our purpose."
Lianna Young abides by his wishes and the away team beams back to their ship.