Somewhere in space. Enterprise drops out of warp and comes into view of Fortunate. "I'm reading hull damage," Reed reports. "Their warp reactor's offline and most of their primary systems are down." Quantum asks if there are any other ships in the area. T'Pol gives him a negative. Quantum tells Hoshi to "open a channel," and he tries contacting Fortunate. Hoshi doesn't get a response back, so Quantum tries again. Still nothing. "Their comm systems may be down," Hoshi finally says. T'Pol uses the Spock viewer and reports twenty-four bio-signs. Wasn't it twenty-three last time? Guess Mayberry was right about cargo people gettin' bizzay! Quantum thinks a bit and says, "Have Doctor Phlox meet us in the launch bay." Mayberry and Reed follow him out. You know, I've noticed that Quantum doesn't specifically tell people that they're on the away team. How do they know? Furthermore, Picard always said, "Mr. So-And-So, you have the bridge," whereas Quantum just walks away. Irresponsible, that's what he is. TNG marathon this weekend? Why, yes, I did.
Shuttle pod. Quantum acts as a backseat driver to Mayberry. "Easy does it. There's a lot of debris out here," he says. Reed comments that not all the debris is from the Fortunate, and Phlox adds, "On the bright side, I'm only picking up inorganic material -- no bodies." Ouch. Reed reports that the main hatch is damaged: "No chance we'll get a positive seal." May-I-Know-It-All-Berry tells them, "There should be an auxiliary hatch on the port side." In outer space, the shuttle pod navigates through the burning debris -- um, how exactly is it STILL BURNING when fire needs OXYGEN to burn? -- and locks itself to the side of the Fortunate. The Enterprise crew strides aboard and is met by four of the glowering Fortunate crew. "Permission to come aboard," Quantum says. Rather late for that, since they're already aboard. "Granted," says young football-throwing guy, to whom they better give a name soon, because he's so nondescript that it's getting hard to come up with identifiers. "I'm Matthew Ryan, First Officer," says nondescript-but-now-named young football-throwing guy. Quantum introduces himself and says, "Sorry we couldn't meet under better circumstances. What happened here?" "Nausicaans," Ryan tells him. "They tried to board us. We managed to fight them off but not before we took a few bruises." "Nausicaans?" Quantum queries. "Pirates, sir," Mayberry fills in for him, chomping at the bit to impress the crew of the Fortunate with the fact that he's a "boomer": "They've been attacking freighters in this sector for years. M'parents had a run-in with them once, they were lucky to come out of it alive." Maybe it's just me, but I would have thought that in order to become, and function as, a Starfleet Captain, you'd actually have to have some knowledge of what goes on in space. Especially if those goings-on affect other humans in space. I mean, how can a freighter crew going warp one-point-eight know more than the captain of a Galaxy-class starship whose main purpose is exploration? Ah, I'll only find the answers at the bottom of a Post Road. "Your parents ran freight?" Ryan asks. "Still do," Mayberry says, puffing up with pride, "An old J-Class -- the Horizon." Ryan looks at him with new respect, and Mayberry gives him a weird nod over Quantum's shoulder. "I've got repair teams standing by. What can we do?" Quantum asks. Ryan thanks-but-no-thanks him for his trouble. "If you didn't need our help, then why did you send out a distress call?" Reed asks. Ryan smiles creepily and says, "One of our younger crewmembers panicked -- hit the emergency beacon. With our comm down we had no way of telling Starfleet to ignore it." Quantum digests this and asks, "Where's your captain?" Ryan admits that Captain Keene was wounded, so he's in charge until Keene recovers. "I'm sorry we took valuable time away from your mission," Ryan says.
Finally, Phlox steps in and tells them that he's a doctor: "If your captain, or anyone else is hurt, it wouldn't be right for me to leave without seeing them." The Hippophloxtic Oath, or something. Mayberry butts in again with his freighter background and says, "He's got a lot more experience than any freighter medic I know." Quantum finally lays a guilt trip on the sullen Fortunate crew and tells them that, as they've come from so far away, it would be stupid if they left without being able to butt in just a little. Ryan smiles tightly and takes them to his leader. Captain Keene is unconscious in the infirmary. "Is he going to die?" Ryan asks. "Not any time soon," Phlox says, cheerily. "The Nausicaan weapon disrupted his neural pathways. I've started him on a cortical regeneration, but it'll take some time." Ryan asks how long, and Phlox gives him a recovery prognosis of two or three days. Ryan goes to ponder this information in the corner. "Since we have to stick around, we might as well help you get your ship up and running," Quantum offers. "That's all right," Ryan says, dismissing the offer. Quantum tries again, saying, "I understand you're used to doing things on your own, but we're here. Use us. We might be able to upgrade your hull-plating, your weapons. It couldn't hurt the next time you run into these Nausicaans." Ryan looks up suddenly, which Quantum takes as encouragement and continues, "The sooner you're back at warp, the sooner that cargo you're hauling gets to where it's supposed to go." Ryan nods.