Quantum sits for a moment, contemplating the sticky bun situation he's been put into, and decides the best course of action is to shove it off onto someone else. Entering the bridge, he makes a beeline for Hoshi and orders her to figure out what Malcolm's favorite food is. "Maybe this is more in Chef's area," Hoshi tries to protest. Quantum tells her this is a "delicate" situation in need of her "finesse." Go get your own shampoo, Quantum. What? Oh, fine. Never mind. Hoshi attempts to explain her workload: "Sir, I'm running a diagnostic on our sub-space transceiver array." "Get some help if you need it," Quantum tells her, "but make this a top priority. That's an order." "Yes, sir," Hoshi half-smiles. Don't worry, I'm sure he'll remember you in April on Secretaries Day, Hoshi.
Somewhere on the ship, Quantum, in his civvies, and Porthos fall into step with Trip, and Quantum asks why Trip wasn't at dinner. "I ate in my quarters. Now that we've got the amplifier working, I wanted to answer a few letters," Trip tells him. Quantum tells him he missed T'Pol's "latest bout with chopsticks." "Damn, dinner and a show," Trip cracks, and Quantum laughs, because making fun of another species' attempts at forced assimilation never gets old. Quantum looks at the device Trip's fiddling with. "I thought you were going to upgrade this," the Captain squints. "That is the upgrade," Trip says. Quantum just looks blankly at him. "Well, if you want, I can change the color," Trip says as they walk away. Quantum asks Trip for news from home. Trip blathers a bit about people we don't know and don't care about. The only thing that seems significant is when he tells Quantum that he got a letter from Natalie. "The Natalie? From Pensacola?" Quantum asks. "Yep. Natalie from Pensacola. Looks like we got a charge imbalance in this manifold. I'll get right on it," Trip says. He walks away. Oh, if that's not the action of a person just begging to be asked about his personal life, then I don't know what is. Quantum follows him to some techno-looking thingy: "Trip?" Trip sighs that long-distance relationships never work out. "This is about as long-distance as you can get," he finishes. Oh, wah. Quantum asks if he's okay. "Oh, yeah," Trip shrugs, "I just wish I could've had the chance to say goodbye in person." Let's think of all the reasons why you'd break up with Trip OTHER than the distance. I'm just saying, if you're gonna stick your hands in someone else's pebbles, well, you just have to pay the penalty, don't you? Quantum, Porthos, and Trip continue their walk. Just how does he "pick up" after Porthos, anyway? Quantum asks Trip if he's spent much time with Reed lately, and Trip says he was "swapping out some power relays" in the armory the day before. Quantum asks if they discussed anything interesting. "Power relays," Trip says, obviously not understanding the question. Quantum states he spoke to Reed's parents that morning, tells Porthos to sit, and asks Trip if his parents would know his favorite food. "Are you kidding?" Trip squawks, gettin' his drawl on: "My mother'd give yew her recipe for pan-fried catfish and wouldn't let you go till yew promised not to screw it up." Just because he's from the south doesn't mean his favorite food has to be pecan pie, catfish, or pan-fried anything! I'm from the Midwest and my favorite food is Persian, not steak and potatoes. Quantum tells Trip that Reed's parents didn't know what his favorite food was, and also didn't know he was an armory officer. "That's strange," Trip comments. Quantum says that it made him realize that none of them knows Malcolm very well. How sad for them. He could only enrich their lives. T'Pol coms Quantum and tells him the alien ship is back.
Quantum hightails it to the bridge (what happened to Porthos?) and comments, "Guess we weren't so uninteresting after all." That's right, Quantum, it's all about your human vanity. T'Pol tells him the ship dropped out of warp five hundred kilometers "dead ahead." Mayflower says he had to throw the engines into reverse in order to avoid head-butting them. Quantum attempts to babble at the aliens again. A tumbleweed blows across Hoshi's com panel. "Well, it was nice 'talking' to you," Quantum says in a fit of pique. "Let's do this again sometime." Hoshi reports that she's picking up something, and Quantum asks if it can be translated. Hoshi says she doesn't think it's a language. Suddenly, high-pitched squealing resonates throughout the bridge, and everyone save T'Pol grabs their heads and writhes on the floor in pain. It's really the oldest trick in the Star Trek book. Shatner did The Dance Of Inner-Ear Pain particularly well in "Spock's Brain." As Vulcans aren't usually too affected by this (except when Spock does manage to lose his brain in the aforementioned episode), T'Pol just winces a bit and reports that they are being scanned. Outside the ship, the alien vessel zips over the Enterprise and fires a few shots. On the rocking bridge, Quantum is thrown back into his Porsche chair. "Hull plating?" he asks Reed. "It's offline!" Reed gasps as the bridge rocks from more explosions. Quantum orders, "Hard about," but Mayflower reports that the aliens have warped out. The bridge systems seem to stabilize and Quantum asks if everyone's okay. Reed announces that damage reports are coming in from all over the ship, but no one's been hurt. "What the hell was that all about?" Quantum growls rhetorically. Reed tells him that when the alien ship fired, they dropped their shields for a few seconds and he was able to read bio-signs. "At least fifteen, maybe more," he says. T'Pol reports that their DNA doesn't appear to match any of the species in their database. "It's a good thing they're gone. I don't think our torpedoes could have penetrated their shielding," Reed gripes. Mayflower gives Reed a look that was probably supposed to be one of shock, but it kind of looked like he was wondering just what kind of double meaning Reed was implying there. Quantum leaves the bridge, T'Pol in tow.