While enjoying a Sherlock
Holmes mystery fantasy on the holodeck, Geordi and Data
request that Barclay investigate some anomalies in the
program. While doing so, Professor Moriarty appears and
informs Barclay that the computer system has created him
so well in the fantasy that he has come alive! According
to Moriarty, Picard has held him hostage in the fantasy
for over four years.
Unable to believe that Moriarty really exists, Picard
instructs Beverly to examine him. She finds that the
impossible has occurred — a fantasy has turned into a
living, breathing human being.
Thrilled to be alive,
Moriarty begs Picard to bring the love of his life in
the fantasy, Countess Regina Barthalomew, to life as
well. After conferring with Beverly, Data and Barclay,
Picard decides to postpone any action until they
discover more about what really happened.
Meanwhile, the U.S.S.
Enterprise orbits around two giant, gaseous planets
about to collide. Picard attempts to launch probes to
the planets, when he is denied authorization access by
the computer. Apparently, Moriarty transferred Picard's
voice authorization to his own voice, attempting to take
control of the starship. Moriarty refuses to relinquish
control of the vessel unless Picard agrees to bring the
countess to life. His hands tied, Picard agrees to try,
otherwise the Enterprise could be caught in the
collision between the two stars.
Later, as Picard and
Geordi work to reinstate his computer authorization,
Data informs them that all of the events of the day have
been a simulation. It isn't that Moriarty is real, but
that all of them are participating in the fantasy. Data
discovered this by noticing that a normally right-handed
Geordi was working on the padd with his left hand.
Evidently, Picard, Data and Barclay are real, but
everyone else is a simulation — a simulation being
controlled by Moriarty.
Desperate to break
free of the fantasy, Picard meets with the countess and
urges her to persuade Moriarty to return navigational
control to him. Instead of complying with Picard's
request, Moriarty works with Riker to be transported
into reality. Once he is transported, though, he refuses
to relinquish control over the ship unless Riker gives
him a shuttlecraft. Having no other choice, Riker
As Moriarty and the
countess depart on their shuttlecraft, he releases
authorization back to Picard, who promptly discontinues
the entire simulation. He then lets the rest of the crew
know that unbeknownst to Moriarty, his shuttlecraft
adventure with the countess is just another simulation.
In fact, Picard has both of them encapsulated in a small
computerized cube. And in the greater scheme of things,
he muses to his staff, who's to say that they aren't
caught in someone else's fantasy right now.