The Odyssey’s travel toward the rendezvous point is uneventful, at least for most of the ship. Commodore Tchang is grappling with a lot of personal feelings about the responsibility on her shoulders, and her self-medication via non-synthesized alcohol has taken its toll. Her band-aid solution of holodeck therapy is interrupted one morning when the EMH materializes instead of her holo-therapist. Almost smugly, the holographic doctor informs the Commodore that they’re facing her problem now, together, or she is relieved of duty. An emotional conversation between the two ensues, centering on the burden of command and Tchang’s need to rise to the occasion, for the sake of her symbiont and its next host. Initially angry, the Commodore recognizes the need for logic in her situation and reluctantly agrees to a private (but fairly draconian) set of measures to keep her honest. Additionally, the EMH insists she form relationships amongst the fleet, lest her mental health continue to decline. Taking to the regimen with the best of her willpower, the Commodore begins having regular breakfasts with Commander Sebastian and Commander Annira. Additionally, meditation has given her access to fragmented memories of a Tchang symbiont host from another timeline – Derzer, a soldier from a war-torn alternate Trill.
The fleet begins to coalesce again, reporting in with their doings. The Klingons arrive, escorting the Alanel with the ves’Targ and their pilfered Hirogen warship. The only missing ship is the Marce, the survey ship and Eudana’s former home. Utilizing sensor settings to find Sikarian warp signatures, Annira detects the Marce more than twenty light years behind, and the power signature suggests the ship is damaged.
It is elected that the ves’Targ will travel to the Marce and deliver whatever aid is possible. Plogh is issued command of Selveth and Lt. Hobbs as technical staff to affect repairs, and the newly-repaired John Stewart is placed in the ves’Targ’s shuttle bay. They warp to the sensor signature, and find an asteroid field surrounding an enormous mineral anomaly – with the Marce’s power signature within. Approaching, and asteroid suddenly changes course and strikes the ves’Targ. Redoubling their efforts on sensors, Selveth detects a unique mineral, kironide, that is in trace amounts throughout the field. They collect some and analyze it, determining it to catalyze telekinetic power when Selveth’s exposure allows her to temporarily develop telekinesis. With this new information, they reconfigure the ves’Targ’s primitive sensors to filter out the kironide. The interference filtered out, they now see a tremendous cozmozoan lifeform generating the mineral – it’s trapped in a net of energized plasma, assembled by a series of ancient mines. Recognizing that they may not be able to solve the problem via science or arms, Plogh and Selveth reluctantly agree that Starfleet’s approach of diplomacy may be the way. Avoiding more asteroids flung telekinetically, the ves’Targ approaches the Marce slowly.
They launch Selveth and Hobbs in the shuttle to survey the Marce’s damage. The engineer is able to determine that the survey ship was attempting to disable one of the mines and veered into the plasma stream, seriously damaging the ship’s engines and power systems. While Selveth works in the shuttle to determine a means of communicating with the lifeform, Hobbs beams aboard the Marce and finds the survivors living in the emergency shelters in the center of the ship. A young sensors officer is the highest-ranking survivor, and only a few hundred of the 549 souls aboard are accounted for. Surveying the damage, Hobbs determines that the Marce is inoperable without more time and hands than they can spare before the asteroids batter it apart. He does learn that the Sikarian survivors have their muscular systems infused with kironide, making them telekinetic. Working together, the survivors push the Marce away from the cosmozoan. The ves’Targ clears a path, V’rok and Heklara destroying as many of the asteroids as they can.
As they get a fair distance away, the ves’Targ detects phaser fire from the shuttle. One of the mines deactivates and cascades its failure across the net, freeing the creature. The serpentine creature moves away from the fleet vessels on a course directly opposite them, and Selveth reports she made contact and freed the creature on its word. Understandably, Plogh is not impressed with the Romulan’s handling of the potentially dangerous creature, but contacts the fleet and offloads the Marce survivors to the new Hirogen ship. The colony ship tows the hulk of the Marce while the fleet engineers inspect it, determining whether or not it is salvageable. And the fleet is forced to say goodbye to three hundred of its own, testing the Commodore’s resolve early.