Production no.: 406
Teleplay by: Jill Sherman Donner and Michael Piller
Story by: Jill Sherman Donner
Directed by: Corey Allen
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: January 30, 1993
Gerrit Graham ........
A Dabo girl is in Sisko's office, complaining about Quark. It seems that her Ferengi boss has been making advances toward her, saying that sexual favors are part of her job -- which they are, according to the contract. Sisko is assuring her that neither she nor anyone will be held to this charming little stipulation, when Kira alerts him to something coming through the wormhole. None of the ships that have entered the Gamma Quadrant are scheduled to return at this time, so Sisko orders a yellow alert.
The ship which emerges isn't in any Starfleet files, and there is a single lifeform aboard: a reptilian humanoid, who acknowledges their hails. Sisko gives him the standard Federation introduction, but the alien pilot does not seem inclined to listen to the peace-and-friendship spiel at the moment. All he knows is that he followed a patrol vessel through an anomaly, and now he's here. Sisko invites him to dock at the station, where any questions he has will be answered, but the alien says, "No. No time."
However, his ship's structural capacity is being overloaded by inertial stress, and the pilot refuses to be beamed off. When O'Brien tells him to cut the engines so they can tow the ship in, the alien is wary, but finally complies. As the ship is brought into dock, Dax suggests that they skip formal first contact procedures for now. Sisko tells O'Brien to meet the alien by himself at the airlock, and hopefully find out what's got him so nervous.
When O'Brien enters the small ship, he doesn't see anyone, though Dax tells him the sensors say the pilot is still on board. So O'Brien talks soothingly as he begins to have a look at the ship's insides. Behind him, the alien becomes visible, and suddenly remarks that the "coladrium flow" has been damaged, causing O'Brien to bump his head in surprise.
The awkward moment passes, and O'Brien tells his new acquaintance that he doesn't know what a coladrium flow is, but he's sure the pilot can teach him as he goes. The pilot repeats enigmatically that he has no time. "Everybody's in a hurry these days," O'Brien remarks. Since he's apparently been appointed representative of humanity to the first-ever visitor from the Gamma Quadrant, he rises to the occasion, introducing himself by species and by name. The alien replies simply, "I am Tosk".
The ship's reactor has to cool down before repairs can be begun, so O'Brien leads a hesitant Tosk out onto the Promenade. As Tosk is telling him that the damage to his hull is due to a rough passage through the anomaly, the airlock security sensor goes off, picking up O'Brien's phaser. The two of them make their first connection when Tosk accepts O'Brien's explanation of the defensive purpose behind his carrying a weapon. O'Brien continues telling Tosk about the station and about Starfleet's mission here as the alien takes in the busy Promenade. They finally reach a set of quarters, which Tosk doesn't seem to need, as he tells O'Brien that he requires only 17 minutes of sleep, and liquid nutrients are stored throughout his body. But he thanks O'Brien, and after the chief leaves, he turns to the computer, asking it to show him where the weapons are kept.
O'Brien gives Sisko his impressions of their visitor. The main thing he has noticed is that Tosk seems to be continually looking over his shoulder. O'Brien won't go so far as to say he's definitely on the run, but he does know that Tosk's hull damage was caused by weapons fire, not the wormhole. Sisko tells him to stay with Tosk as much as possible while he's here, and meanwhile, Odo will be keeping an eye on him as well.
Later, an odd bond continues to develop between O'Brien and Tosk, as the two of them work together on the little ship. The ship's "arva nodes" will need to be taken out and replaced with newly-replicated ones, though Tosk repeats again that there is "no time" for the replacements to be tested. In the meantime, however, O'Brien takes Tosk to Quark's. There, the Ferengi barkeep looks on Tosk's self-professed lack of vices as a challenge, and offers him a fantasy adventure in a holosuite. "I have no use for fantasy adventure," Tosk responds. "I live the greatest adventure one could ever desire." But he won't say what this adventure is. All he will say is that he cannot discuss it.
Conferring with the other officers in Ops later on, O'Brien admits that he has taken a liking to this Tosk. The alien is definitely running from something, and won't say what, yet O'Brien doesn't sense any malign intent or dishonesty from him. It's curious, all right, but Sisko decides that there isn't much choice other than to fix Tosk's ship and send him on his way, and if he wants to tell O'Brien what's going on, fine. If not, it's not really their business.
However, it is about to become their business. Tosk is altering the mechanism of a juncture box when Odo morphs out of his disguise as a nearby painting. When Tosk vanishes, Odo seals off the corridor with forcefields, and calls security. The deputies take Tosk into custody, while the alien maintains that he must "prepare", but, naturally, he cannot discuss it.
He continues to say this even while he sits in a holding cell, being questioned by Sisko. Tosk insists that "I did nothing to you", but tampering with the security grid -- apparently with intent to shut down the lockouts to the weapons storage -- is something that Sisko just can't let slide. Yet Tosk simply won't talk. Sisko finally tells Odo to hold him, and they'll have to just wait and see if anybody shows up to claim him.
Left alone with O'Brien, Tosk asks him to release him: "Allow me to die with honor." When O'Brien asks who would want to kill him, Tosk can only repeat his plea.
Before long, another ship comes through the wormhole, with emission patterns matching those of Tosk's vessel. It ignores all hails, and scans the station, then seems to be trying to use a transporter, bombarding the station's shields with radiation. Finally the shields come down, and the intruders beam aboard, onto the Promenade. Sisko, O'Brien, and Kira join Odo and Bashir there to face the helmeted trio, who do not speak but move determinedly toward Security. A phaser fight ensues, ending when the aliens blast through the doors of the security office.
The lead alien moves inside and uses a sensor device on his helmet to scan Tosk's holding cell for its invisible occupant, who finally uncloaks, knowing he's been found. When the alien -- a Hunter -- signals his partners that he has Tosk alive, they beam out. Sisko and the others listen in shock to the Hunter's comment that this is a disappointment after "such an entertaining beginning." Tosk hangs his head as the Hunter scolds him for allowing himself to be caught, caged and helpless. It is such a monstrous dishonor for Tosk to be taken alive that he will now live the rest of his life in shame and humiliation.
Sisko, however, refuses to obey the Hunter's order for him to release Tosk, and demands an explanation. The Hunter doesn't understand the problem. Yes, Tosk is a sentient being, but only because they have created him to be. His entire purpose in life is to be the prey in the hunt, to make it as exciting and interesting as possible. Tosk are honored in their society as the symbol of all that is noble and courageous, and they are proud of their role. Mindful of the Prime Directive, Sisko forces himself to back down, but he doesn't like it one bit. The Hunter offers to declare the wormhole out of bounds, which for Sisko will have to do. He has no choice but to agree to release Tosk.
When Sisko informs his officers of his decision, Kira suggests that Tosk could request asylum, which Sisko indicates he will grant if Tosk asks. But when O'Brien goes to propose this solution to Tosk, and explains what asylum is, Tosk refuses. Hiding behind the Federation would violate everything he believes in, and would be an even greater dishonor than what faces him at home. "I will not deny my existence as Tosk," he tells his friend.
A very frustrated O'Brien heads into Quark's, where the Ferengi offers a sympathetic ear, but O'Brien isn't interested. Everyone's playing by the rules, he fumes -- their rules, our rules -- and it's Tosk who pays the price. As Quark attempts to commiserate, O'Brien mutters that when Ferengi don't like the rules, they probably just change them...and the idea hits: change the rules.
O'Brien goes to work, accessing the power grid to a certain security checkpoint on the Promenade. Then, as the Hunter is placing a neck manacle on Tosk in preparation to lead him away in disgrace, O'Brien arrives and informs an incredulous Odo that he'll be escorting the prisoner, on Sisko's orders. Odo heads off to see about that, and O'Brien tells the Hunter, straight-faced, that this is Sisko's way of making sure they understand that Starfleet is sorry for interfering with their hunt. It's the least they can do. As they leave Security, O'Brien surreptitiously ditches his combadge.
Odo storms into Sisko's office to complain about Starfleet taking charge of a prisoner transport, but is shocked to learn that Sisko gave no such orders. Meanwhile, as the Hunter is stepping through the security checkpoint with Tosk, there is a dazzling flash, and O'Brien punches the Hunter out. He and Tosk disappear up a staircase, as the Hunter calls his companions and tells them the hunt has resumed. O'Brien and Tosk commence fighting their way toward Tosk's ship.
In Ops, internal sensors pick up O'Brien and Tosk in an access conduit above Quark's, heading toward the docking ring. Odo says he'll seal off the adjoining corridors, but Sisko tells him there's no hurry. Comprehending, Odo slows down. Nope, no hurry.
O'Brien phasers the manacle from Tosk's neck, causing Tosk to exclaim that now O'Brien is a Tosk too. There is another firefight as the Hunters locate them, but they win free. In the last corridor, they are confronted again, and the lead Hunter claims the kill for himself. There ensues another struggle, in which at last the Hunter is shot and killed by Tosk, with the Hunter's own weapon.
Finally O'Brien and Tosk make it to Tosk's ship. "The hunt goes on," says Tosk, who offers to let O'Brien come along, but O'Brien doesn't think so. One day as a Tosk is enough for him, plus there's Keiko and Molly to think of. Before leaving, Tosk tells O'Brien to "die with honor", a goodbye which O'Brien returns.
Afterwards, Sisko gives O'Brien the requisite dressing-down. He has committed assault on members of a newly contacted species, ignored his duty to Starfleet, ignored his commander, and violated the Prime Directive. Aside from trying to point out the bright side, that now the Hunters have the hunt they wanted, O'Brien takes the berating like a soldier. But he's curious about one thing, he tells Sisko. He figured that he and Tosk wouldn't get far once Sisko and Odo had located them, which shouldn't have been too difficult.
Sisko looks him right in the eye and says, "I guess that one got by us."
The original title of this episode was "A Matter of Breeding". Michael Westmore based Tosk's appearance on that of an alligator he had seen on the cover of a magazine. Westmore won an Emmy for the makeup job on Tosk. In this episode, we first learn that Odo chooses not to carry a weapon.