Production no.: 413
Teleplay by: Richard Danus and Evan Carlos Somers
Story by: Hilary Bader
Directed by: Paul Lynch
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: April 24, 1993
Camille Saviola ......
Paul Collins ...........
Jonathan Banks .....
Majel Barrett ........
Having found some of the last Cardassian prefect's files, oddly located in Ops protocols, Dax and O'Brien show them to Sisko. They mainly contain personal logs and some files on Bajoran terrorists; O'Brien says they might want to warn Kira. "Warn me about what?" Kira asks as she enters the office. Sisko tells her there's a file on her, but she may find it "disappointing".
Leaving Kira to her reading, the others go out into Ops, where Sisko receives an excited call from Bashir, who says Kai Opaka has arrived on the station to take Sisko up on his offer of a tour. At that moment, Kira comes out of Sisko's office. "'A minor operative whose activities are limited to running errands for the terrorist leaders'?" she quotes, ready to spit nails. But Sisko tells her that when she's through feeling underappreciated, perhaps she'd like to help him welcome the Kai. Kira is flabbergasted.
A little later, she, Sisko, and Bashir emerge from the temple with Opaka, who seems preoccupied. Kira asks the Kai if there's something wrong, and the Kai replies mysteriously, "Contemplating prophecy." She looks out a viewport that happens to face the wormhole. The wormhole can only be seen when a ship enters or exits, and unfortunately there's nothing scheduled for today, Sisko tells her. Getting a long, expectant look in return, Sisko taps his combadge and tells O'Brien to prepare the Yangtzee Kiang; he and Kira are taking Kai Opaka through the wormhole. The Kai acknowledges with gratitude, and this time it's Bashir's turn to give Sisko a look. Sisko gives in and includes the doctor as well.
Entering the airlock as O'Brien's crew is just finishing, Opaka gazes at the Chief. "You have a child, don't you?" When O'Brien confirms this, she takes off her pendant and hands it to him. "Would you give this to her for me?" She goes on into the runabout, leaving a puzzled O'Brien holding the pendant.
They launch, and Sisko tells the station that their estimated time of return is 1400 hours. They then enter the wormhole. The Kai is transfixed by the beauty of the Celestial Temple. Once on the other side, Bashir and Sisko do the tour-guide thing, pointing out the closest system, and telling her how far they've just travelled. "You'll be seeing what this wormhole is worth to Bajor in a few years," Sisko tells Opaka, who replies quietly, "If that is to be my fate, Commander."
Kira makes ready to reverse course; Opaka seems disappointed, but unfortunately there isn't much to show her yet. "Prophecy can often be vague, Commander. That's why we must test it," says Opaka, but she acquiesces. Just then, sensors pick up a subspace signal: a stream of statistical data followed by a request for response. Sisko orders Kira to launch a probe; they'll investigate later. He doesn't think it's a good idea to do so now, while the Kai is with them. But Opaka gives him a beguiling smile. "Please, Commander. I don't get out often." And Sisko decides to take a look.
They find the signal's source, a network of artificial satellites around a moon, on which they detect lifesigns, possibly humanoid. As they head in closer, a satellite scans them and then moves toward them, building up and then releasing a burst of energy, firing at them. The runabout is hit, and quickly disabled; it crashes down onto the surface of the moon.
Sisko, Kira, and Bashir emerge from the ruined runabout, bringing out the body of Kai Opaka. Bashir works on her, but it's too late; she's gone. Kira feels the loss deeply. With tears in her eyes, she begins to sob out a Bajoran death chant. Then Sisko notices they've got company: five ragged humanoids rise over a nearby crest, covering them with weapons.
Back at DS9, their failure to return on schedule has not gone unnoticed. Odo, who has been fending off calls from Opaka's aides, watches anxiously as Dax and O'Brien prepare to leave in another runabout to look for them.
Sisko, Kira, and Bashir are taken into a cavern and presented to a weary, battle-scarred leader named Golin Shel-la, who remarks "How ironic" when he hears that Bashir is a doctor. He asks why they came here, and Sisko explains about the wormhole and the station. "You know nothing of our home planet? You know nothing of the punishment?" Shel-la asks skeptically.
Kira's shoulder is injured, and the soldiers threaten Bashir when he tries to treat her, until Shel-la allows it. He tells them that his people, the Ennis, are at war with a brutal enemy who attacks at whim. Noticing Sisko's phaser, Shel-la remarks that the Ennis stopped using directed energy weapons centuries ago; they are not damaging enough. When Sisko says that a rescue team is probably on their way right now, Shel-la replies that they'll also have to deal with the satellites, which are not under his control. He and his people are prisoners on this moon. As for Sisko, Kira, and Bashir, their lives are in danger. Because of their presence at the camp, they will be considered allies of the Ennis, and fair game for the enemy. Since they are here under similar circumstances -- thrust into this situation with few resources -- Shel-la says, "I was hoping we'd be of some help to each other."
Meanwhile, Kira is still grief-stricken and subdued as Bashir treats her injury. "It's all so senseless. Opaka has always been a symbol of hope to me. Her words gave our struggle meaning. Now she's dead. Her life ends on some unknown moon -- and for what?"
After Sisko tells Shel-la that Bashir will give them medical assistance, but they can't take sides in their battle, he informs Bashir and Kira that Shel-la has offered them protection in exchange for Bashir's skills. Also, they can't count on a quick rescue; this moon is a high-security prison.
At that moment, attackers suddenly charge into the cavern and begin blasting. These are the Nol-Ennis, led by one Zlangco. Shel-la and several others are brutally killed as Sisko and Bashir dive for cover. Kira, however, scrambles for a phaser and shoots back, bringing down a portion of the ceiling on the enemy. As quickly as it began, the battle is over; the enemy retreats, leaving our people to stare in horror at the piles of corpses. They are searching for survivors when a lone figure is silhouetted in the mouth of the cave. Kira nearly shoots, but Sisko stops her. Incredibly, it is none other than a very much alive Kai Opaka who stands before them.
Examining her, Bashir finds that Opaka's vital signs appear to be normal. For her part, Opaka seems as mystified as the others are. She remembers the crash, but nothing after that. As she moves off to take in the carnage with Kira hovering nearby, Bashir tells Sisko that though Opaka does appear normal, her physiology has been radically altered. There is a biomechanical presence of some kind on the cellular level, and it seems to be directly controlling her metabolic processes. He doesn't know if the Kai is in any danger, but if the runabout's computer were functional, he might be able to do a full analysis. Just then, Kira calls out to them, and they watch in astonishment as the dead Ennis begin to stir.
O'Brien and Dax, in a runabout searching for their missing crewmates, have detected no sign of them on long-range scanners, not even a transponder signal, although they have found a warp eddy with traces of meson particle emissions, indicating that it was from a Starfleet power reactor. Along the last known heading was an uncharted binary system. "Guess it's time to chart it," says O'Brien.
Bashir ascertains that Shel-la and the others are in the same state as Opaka, with the biomechanical presence in virtually every cell. Shel-la confirms that he has died before, too many times to count. Bashir wants to get back to the runabout and try to get the computer online; Sisko is hesitant, but since Shel-la offers to send protection with the doctor, he allows Bashir to go.
"If you'd lived with it as we have, you'd see it as a curse," Shel-la tells Sisko. It's part of the punishment; everything here is designed to prolong their suffering. The Ennis and Nol-Ennis are two sects who fought each other for generations; unable to mediate peace, their planet's leaders finally simply put both groups on this moon, as an example. No one knows the original cause of the conflict, and Shel-la doesn't particularly care. All that matters now is vengeance.
"If you must fight your war, the least you can do is to learn to fight it more effectively," says Kira vehemently, pointing out that there are no guards, no alert system. "This is not your war, Kira," Opaka reminds her. Shel-la seems almost amused. He tells Kira that the Ennis used to defend themselves better, until they realized it was all pointless. "When you cease to fear death, the rules of war change." He adds that Kira and the others will understand once the years begin to pass.
Sisko says stoutly that they are going to be rescued, and offers to transport everyone away. For Shel-la, the chance to be able to live one life and die in peace is the answer to an ancient prayer; Sisko says he would do it for both sides. "End this nightmare," he tells Shel-la, who is dubious, saying Zlangco would never agree to a ceasefire. But he finally agrees to try to meet with him.
In the runabout, O'Brien hasn't found any Class M planets in the system, but Dax isn't so sure they can trust the sensors, since the sun is emitting abnormal levels of delta radiation. They'll have to survey each planet one at a time. "Bloody needle in a haystack," mutters O'Brien, who then gets an idea. "What we need is a magnet." He plans to send out probes to scan the system for the specific magnetic resonance patterns of a runabout's hull. The probes will be outfitted with something called a differential magnetomer; O'Brien will let Dax know what that is as soon as he's done building one.
Bashir manages to get the downed runabout's computer working, and begins to download his tricorder's information into it. Meanwhile, a runner has reported to Shel-la that Zlangco has agreed to listen to Sisko. The meeting place will be at a neutral location near the runabout crash site, and no weapons will be allowed. Shel-la offers to let Kira check the security of the area, but Sisko says Kira will be staying with the Kai. He and Shel-la leave.
As Kira stands looking after them, Opaka asks if Kira recognizes herself in these people. Kira says no; she has always fought to survive, while the Ennis are content to die. She then blurts out that she doesn't want to give Opaka the impression that she enjoys fighting. Struggling with her emotions, Kira tries to explain that yes, she's fought all her life, and it was brutal and ugly, but it's over for her now. "That's not who I am. I don't want you to think that I am this violent person, without a soul, without a conscience. That is not who I am." Opaka gently reaches out to read Kira's pagh; Kira bursts into tears, suddenly unable to bear the pain and horror of her past sins. Like a mother, the Kai embraces her. "Don't deny the violence inside of you, Kira," she whispers. "Only when you accept it can you move beyond it." Kira confesses her deepest fear: "I'm afraid the Prophets won't forgive me." Opaka smiles softly. "They're just waiting for you to forgive yourself."
O'Brien has finished outfitting the probes and launched them; he and Dax study the telemmetry. Finally one probe sends back results, from the moon of the third planet in the system. They immediately set course to follow it up.
At the meeting site beside the runabout, Bashir emerges to confer with Sisko. He has confirmed that the microbes are artificial, somewhat like nanites. The computer isn't done with its analysis yet. Learning that Sisko plans to transport the Ennis and Nol-Ennis off the moon, Bashir jokes, "Isn't that a bit like assisting a jailbreak?" There is no humor in Sisko's voice as he retorts, "Whatever crimes they've committed, they've paid for a hundred times over. They've been altered somehow and abandoned by their world. I believe the Federation would recognize them as separate and unique."
Zlangco and a few other Nol-Ennis arrive, and there is a bitter exchange of banter between him and Shel-la. Things look ready to come to blows, but Sisko addresses the group as a whole, appealing to them to get their leaders to end this. He announces the alternative he has in mind, but Zlangco is suspicious, thinking that Sisko is in league somehow with the Ennis. And things go rapidly downhill from there; weapons are pulled, battle is joined, and Sisko is right in the middle. Just as a Nol-Ennis throws a spear straight at Sisko, Bashir rushes over and knocks his commander down. "Sorry, Commander," the doctor explains breathlessly, "but I've discovered we can't afford to die here -- not even once."
Dax and O'Brien have discovered the satellite system around the moon. O'Brien thinks at first that the probe must have been picking up the satellites, but Dax reports lifesign readings. Just then, the runabout is scanned. Instinctively, O'Brien veers it to a higher orbital altitude. Only a broad band damping signal could block out the transponder signal, requiring a low altitude satellite system like this, and O'Brien realizes that maybe the satellites had something to do with the missing runabout. They're emitting a mutual induction field that would block 99 percent of all transmissions. O'Brien will try to get a com line through that one percent margin.
Bashir reports to Sisko what his analysis has revealed. Once the microbes have restored a body from death, the body becomes permanently dependent on them for all cellular functions. What's worse, the microbes were designed to be environment specific: they will stop functioning if removed from this ecosystem. This means that anyone they try to transport away from here will die. And that includes Kai Opaka.
Suddenly Sisko's commbadge crackles to life. It's O'Brien calling, his signal partly obscured by interference. O'Brien can't beam them up quite yet; the satellite network is making it impossible to achieve a lock on anything. He's working on it.
Sisko goes with Bashir to talk to the Kai, who is not surprised to learn of the failed attempt at a ceasefire. "You were right, Kira. They don't know how to do anything else but die. They've forgotten how to live." Sisko then gives them the news that Dax and O'Brien are in orbit. He is about to break the other, grimmer news to Opaka, when the Kai interrupts. "I'll be staying, Commander...This is the answer to all the prophecies of my life." Kira is astonished, but Opaka says she knew when she went through the wormhole that she wouldn't be coming back. "You must tell our people, Kira, that I have answered the call of the Prophets. I was brought here because it is time for these people to begin their healing process -- just as you were brought here to begin yours."
O'Brien and Dax ponder shooting a satellite, but surely the network was built with that in mind. They need to go for something simpler. A 15-percent wider hole is all they need. O'Brien informs Sisko of this, and Sisko tells them that Kai Opaka will be remaining. He'll explain later. As the communication ends, Shel-la arrives back at the cave, and is told why they'll have to leave the Ennis and Nol-Ennis behind as well.
Bashir admits to Sisko that he's experiencing a moral dilemma: he's wondering whether to help these people end their torture in the only way he can, by making it possible for them to die permanently. He can disable the microbes so that they will no longer function when someone is killed. Shel-la is eager for this solution. "You really think the fear of death will end the fighting?" Kira asks. "It never has in any other war." Shel-la replies no, but it will allow the Ennis to finally win. The disabled microbes would be the ultimate weapon. Bashir simply turns away in disgust.
O'Brien calls Sisko to tell him to stand by for transport. He's launched another probe, and one of the satellites takes the bait, destroying it. O'Brien then establishes a pattern lock on Sisko and the others. On the surface, another battle breaks out, and Shel-la glares at Sisko before running to join in.
Sisko turns to Opaka. "Opaka, if we can ever find a way -- " "My work is here now, Commander," she says. "But your pagh and mine will cross again." As the other three dematerialize, the Kai listens to the sounds of war, and knows that the hardest fight of her life is ahead of her.
Hilary Bader's original storyline was about an ongoing war between Cardassians and humans. Also, the character who died and was resurrected was at first going to be a previously-unseen crewmember.