BRIEF SUMMARY: Members of the USS Endurance crew were kidnapped and tested by a powerful race of beings calling themselves the "Examiners." After three rounds of "tests," the kidnapped crewmembers were returned to the ship.
"If you are quite through with us, you can return us to the Endurance now. We grow weary of your games." — Striker to the Examiners
"You're just getting weary of it now? I was tired of it about 5 minutes after they asked their first stupid question!" — Thomas to Striker
EXTENDED SUMMARY: A series of forged communications caused the crew of the USS Endurance to prepare for what they believed was a serious outbreak of Xenopolycythemia at the distant Federation mining colony on Leonard's Planet. En route in deep space, however, the ship encountered a massive energy grid that gave the appearance of green hexes meshed together. Sensor scans registered the field as a solid perimeter wall. The field sent out an intensely powerful probe beam, and an entity which identified itself as the "High Examiner" declared that members of the Endurance crew had been chosen as representatives for the "examination" of their races.
This was the second recorded encounter between the "Examiners" and the Federation. The first encounter had also involved Captain Maddox, years earlier when he had been serving aboard the USS Republic.
Commander Savalis (XO), Dr. Chadwick (CMO), Dr. T'Kel (psychology), Lt. Commander Striker (security), Lt. Tulouse (helm), Lt. Thomas (communications) and Lt. Gamelson (security) were transported from the ship to a "testing area" — apparently aboard a massive, cloaked ship — where they were subjected to a series of "tests" by the Examiners. All attempts by the abducted crewmembers to contact the Endurance failed, as their communicators could read only static.
As presented by the Examiners, the first round of testing was the "Cerebral Portion," which required that the crew answer questions correctly or be eliminated. The Examiners posed a series of geometric and logic questions. When Lt. Tulouse blurted out a guess, he was "eliminated" — the Examiners appeared to wipe him out of existance. First question was correctly answered by T'Kel and the second by Savalis, which results were duly recorded by the Examiners.
Lt. Thomas deliberately answered the third question incorrectly as her own test to find out what the Examiners would do — and she too was similarly wiped out of existance. Dr. Chadwick then provided the correct answer to the question. The crew next attempted to probe the limits of the "testing area" in which they were confined, only to find that the space appeared to go on in all directions without any discernable change. Dr. Chadwick next began to argue with the Examiners, refusing to answer any more questions. The response of the Examiners was to appear to vaporize him as well.
Further refusal on the part of the remaining crew to participate in further examinations, resulted in a ruling by the Examiners that the remaining questions of the "Cerebral Portion" of the test were in default. The crew — including the formerly eliminated Tulouse, Thomas and Chadwick — were next brought to what appeared to be a tropical jungle for the second round of their investigation. The Examiners then ordered the crew to scale a nearby mountain as the "Physical Portion" of the test.
Rather than participate in the Examiner's test, Lt. Thomas came up with a plan to boost her communicator's range using the powerpack from a Phaser II. This led her to discover a nearby shielded power source whose static field emissions were the apparent cause of the interference picked up by the crew's communicators. Meanwhile, T'Kel prematurely began to develop symptoms of her Vulcan reproductive cycle. Dr. Chadwick grew concerned when this development appeared to have an effect on both Commanders Savalis and Striker.
The crew eventually found the shielded power source behind what seemed to be a solid wall of vines and plantlife. The crew had now gone many hours without food or water, so Savalis decided to seek out a source of potable water. Taking Tulouse, he left Striker, Chadwick, Gamelson and T'Kel to cut through the vine wall. Striker decided to break through the wall by setting his phaser to overload. His efforts blasted the reality of the vines to what appeared to be a featureless white "wall" — a wall behind the "reality" of the Examiner's jungle. Confusing matters almost immediately, Striker was attacked and appeared to be bitten by some kind of arachnid.
While Dr. Chadwick treated Commander Striker's wound, Savalis and Tulouse rejoined the others who continued to probe the "hole" that had been created in the jungle. Closer inspection led to the discovery of a passage to an inner room that contained two Federation tricorders, a medkit and two communicators. When the crew left the jungle area, Striker's wound disappeared, leading all to the conclusion that everything the crew had experienced had been an illusion. Scans seemed to indicate that the crew was (and had always been) on board an enormous, cloaked, warp-capable vessel of unknown design. The Examiners then declared the second portion of the test over and declared that Captain Maddox would unknowingly be the subject of the third portion of the test.
Throughout the period that Savalis and the abducted crewmembers had been tested, Captain Maddox and the Endurance had been engaged in a frantic search for their missing comrades. Every scan yielded no clue as to their whereabouts and — all the while — the clock was ticking for what Maddox still believed were plague victims on Leonard's Planet. In the end, the captain decided he must give up his search and sacrifice his missing crewmembers for the greater good of saving thousands of colonists. The Examiners declared that as a result of this action, Maddox and humanity had "passed" the last portion of the test. The Examiners then returned the missing crewmembers to the ship and ended further interference with the mission.
Communication with Starbase 15 confirmed that the supposed plague on Leonard's Planet was merely a hoax concocted by the Examiners.
CASUALTIES: No deaths. Savalis and Thomas admitted to Sick Bay.
CREW ROTATIONS/PROMOTIONS: Lt. Commander Striker promoted to Security Chief.
CITATIONS: Medal of Sacrifice: Savalis, Striker, Chadwick, T'Kel, Thomas and Gamelson.