Production no.: 418
Written by: Joe Menosky
Directed by: Cliff Bole
First satellite airdate: May 29, 1993
Tom Towles .....
Stephen Parr ....
Randy Pflug .....
Jeff Pruitt ........
Kira enters Sisko's office on a mission. There's a Valerian ship soon to arrive, which has requested permission to dock, and Kira wants to deny it. The Valerians are known to have run weapons-grade dolamide to the Cardassians during the Occupation; Kira believes they are continuing to do so. She asks Sisko for permission to search the ship, but Sisko says it's not that simple, since dolamide has other purposes as well; it is used for weapons only if extremely pure. If Kira brings him proof that the Valerians are dealing in weapons-grade dolamide, the Federation will stop them, using diplomatic pressure. Kira isn't convinced this will work, but she concedes, "All right, we'll try it your way." "Good," says Sisko.
When Kira goes out into Ops, Odo arrives with a report for her on the Valerian captain, just as Dax detects something coming through the wormhole. It's a Klingon bird-of-prey, the Toh'Kaht, which isn't due back from the Gamma Quadrant for another month. As Sisko orders hailing frequencies opened, the ship explodes. O'Brien reads a transporter signal, but something interferes with the rematerialization process. Finally the Klingon makes it onto the Ops pad, scorched by weapons fire. Bashir is about to get him into cryostasis, when the Klingon raises himself up a little and grins wildly. "Victory," he croaks, and then dies.
The DS9 officers soon learn that the Klingon's name was Hon'Tihl, and he was first officer of the Toh'Kaht; however, the reasons for his death and the ship's destruction are still mysteries. The ship had been on a routine bio-survey mission, according to the Klingon High Command; it had put in at DS9 for a maintenance check before going through the wormhole, and Sisko tells Odo to ask around about this survey. Dax and O'Brien are to go out in a runabout and find the ship's mission recorder. As O'Brien heads for the turbolift, Dax remains in her seat, smiling at some private thought, until the Chief reminds her of their task. She finally follows him, with a small giggle.
At her workstation, Kira is irritated when the captain of the Valerian ship Sherval Das contacts her to be cleared for docking. Kira tells him there's going to be a slight delay, and generally gives him attitude until Sisko interrupts, asking for an explanation. She tells him she's still running a background check on their ship, which has been to two of the same stops they used to make in their route while running dolamide to the Cardassians. If she can place them at the third stop, a purification plant, she'll have the evidence she needs. Sisko overrides her, and tells the Valerian the ship is cleared for docking. Kira is left fuming.
Odo, meanwhile, is conducting a little fishing expedition in Quark's, where he casually inquires about the problems Quark had with the Klingons when they last came through. The Ferengi is full of complaints about the damage to his holosuites, and says this last crew was worse than the one before, bragging about a "glorious mission". When Odo asks what they said, Quark realizes what the constable is up to, and asks what he will get in return for the information. Odo, however, blackmails it out of him: the Klingons had said they would come back "with something that would make the enemies of the Klingon Empire tremble."
Odo is leaving the bar when suddenly he reels, crying out in agony. His head spontaneously splits in two and reforms, during which a pink mist quickly appears and vanishes. Odo then slumps unconscious to the floor. Quark, horrified, goes running for Bashir.
A little later, Odo wakes up in the infirmary with a start. He is puzzled as to what happened, and Bashir isn't very helpful -- he doesn't know what caused it or whether it will happen again. Whatever it was, Odo now feels fine, and gets up to leave, but is stopped by Bashir. "Tell me, Odo, do you share my concern over this Valerian situation?" the doctor asks, a curiously calculating tone in his voice. Odo asks for clarification, but Bashir only hints that the "uneasy alliance" on the station, between Sisko and Kira, may soon start to show a few cracks. When Odo asks what he's basing this on, Bashir gives a conspiratorial chuckle. "You're probably right. It's a little too early to commit oneself either way." Odo leaves, wondering what the hell all that was about.
Sisko is drawing on a large PADD in his office when Kira enters and tells him that she now has evidence that the Valerian ship was at the purification plant a week ago, which confirms that they're running dolamide. She's ready to have an armed team board their vessel and confiscate the material; Sisko asks by whose authority. Kira eyes him. "You're not going to do anything about this." "I'm not, and neither are you," Sisko replies calmly. There is a peculiar hint of potential violence in the air as Kira finally backs down, barely hiding the anger in her eyes.
Dax and O'Brien are on the runabout, which has picked up some debris on sensors. O'Brien comments that Kira has been aggressive toward Sisko lately about station policy. Maybe Kira thinks the Bajorans don't need Starfleet on DS9. Dax has become quite friendly with Kira, O'Brien notes with an odd accusatory note, which Dax doesn't notice as her mind seems to wander. "Remember where your loyalties lie," the Chief reminds her, and Dax affirms that she's on Sisko's side. "Good," O'Brien says coldly. "Anyone who's against Sisko is against me." They then pick up the transponder signal from the mission recorder.
Odo is working at his desk when Kira enters; he asks if he can help her, and in a strangely seductive manner, she says, "Oh, you always manage to help me, Odo." They have always had a very cooperative relationship, and Kira wants Odo's cooperation now. Specifically, she wants him to slip past the Valerians' security and into their cargo bay. Odo asks if Sisko has changed his mind about not interfering with the Valerian ship. "Yes," Kira says quickly, and Odo knows she is lying. He agrees, saying he will keep the two of them informed of his progress. "No sense in disturbing him," Kira demurs, and then realizes she hasn't fooled Odo at all. She retracts her request, but, as an afterthought, asks him, "What if you had to choose sides? Just remember who your friends are."
Hon'Tihl's log recording is played, though the image and sound are very damaged. There is a reference, however, to some telepathic energy spheres, before the log fritzes out. None of the DS9 officers seem particularly troubled by this, and Sisko even seems bored, saying he couldn't care less what happened to a Klingon ship. But since the Klingon Empire might want to know, O'Brien and Dax will still set up a data interpolation to fill in the missing spots of the log. "Do whatever you have to do," Sisko says at last. "Don't bother me with it." Odo can't believe what he's hearing.
At the bar, Quark hands Dax a drink just as Kira arrives and tells him to get lost. She asks Dax if she's happy here. "That's not a question I get asked very often," Dax says. Kira, with the same seductive manner she used on Odo earlier, tells her warmly that she couldn't imagine running the station without Dax. She tells Dax to mention to Starfleet Command how unhappy the Bajorans are with Sisko's handling of the Valerian situation. Dax, for her part, can barely keep her mind on the conversation, and rambles on vaguely, reminiscing about the times she's shared with Sisko. "In many ways, he's like a son. Or a nephew. Some kind of close relative, anyway." Impatiently, Kira says she's getting rid of Sisko. "Don't force me to get rid of you as well." They hear a gasp, and see Quark standing nearby. Kira grabs him by the collar and demands to know what he's heard; he says, "Nothing", and she slams him against a wall. "Good."
Quark goes to Odo's office, wearing a neckbrace, in order to file charges. Odo is very interested on hearing that Kira was trying to convince Dax to take her side. "Doesn't Kira's behavior seem a little out of the ordinary?" he asks, thinking aloud. "And the others -- at the staff briefing, Sisko was bored, as if he couldn't be bothered about running the station. And Bashir -- since when is he so concerned about station politics?" He decides to go have a talk with Sisko.
In Sisko's office, Odo is surprised to see not Sisko sitting behind the desk, but O'Brien, viewing a portion of Hon'Tihl's log. Sisko is in his quarters, "where he's safe," he tells Odo. They listen to the log, which sounds very much as if there was a power struggle on board. O'Brien isn't concerned -- mutiny is SOP on a Klingon ship. "But awfully unusual for a Federation-run space station," Odo points out. "Don't worry," O'Brien replies. "If Major Kira tries anything, we'll be ready." He says he will set it up so Odo can access the log entries as they are processed. "Don't the Commander and I always try to make you happy?" he adds with a sinister smile.
Odo heads for Sisko's quarters, which are being guarded by a couple of Starfleet security officers, and enters to find Sisko working on his PADD. The commander is in an odd mood, calmly drawing and never looking up as Odo tries to express his concern over the behaviors and attitudes of "some of us". Sisko says to tell it to O'Brien, and then suddenly holds up his drawing for Odo to see. Odo hasn't the vaguest clue what the elaborate blueprint is for. "It's a clock!" Sisko says with fierce pride, and goes back to his doodling.
Troubled, Odo returns to his office, where Kira is sitting kicked back at his desk. The Major is more slyly seductive than ever as she tells Odo she needs his help. She's locked down the docking clamps on the Valerians' ship; it'll take at least a day for O'Brien to fix it, and by then it won't matter. "You're going after Sisko," Odo realizes. Kira confirms it. "Either we get a more reasonable commander from Starfleet, someone we can control, or we go it alone." She promises that when she is in charge, Odo will be able to protect the station any way he sees fit, without interference. Odo asks her what her plan is; however, Kira isn't quite willing to give it away just yet. She trusts Odo more than anyone on this station, but she can't take chances, even with him. "When the time comes," she says, "you'll know it. I'll be counting on you."
After she leaves, Odo tries opening a channel to Starfleet Headquarters, but subspace communication there has been made unavailable by Kira. And communication to Bajor has been blocked by O'Brien. Odo has the computer scan Hon'Tihl's log for mention of contact with any alien race. The computer gives him the entry: Hon'Tihl tells of the crew finding some energy spheres which contained a telepathic archive describing a power struggle that destroyed an ancient race called the Saltah'nah.
Meanwhile, an agitated O'Brien is telling Sisko -- who is building his clock -- about Kira having locked down the Valerian ship and diverted half the station's systems to her control. O'Brien believes she's about to make an attempt on Sisko's life. Sisko wants to have Kira and every Bajoran officer on the station arrested, but O'Brien says that's not a good idea. They are outnumbered here. He proposes that they leave the station. Sisko explodes: "Never! Get me a phaser, I'll get rid of Kira!" But O'Brien says they can raise a Federation attack force and return. He's talked to the Valerian captain, who is willing to take them as soon as his ship is freed. Calm again, Sisko tells him to let him know when he's ready.
In the infirmary, Bashir is giving a small device to a Bajoran ensign; when Odo enters in the middle of this conversation, Bashir passes it off as a medical instrument. He's completed his autopsy of the Klingon, and advises Odo to choose sides now, or risk finding himself without any friends at all. As for the Klingon, he's still dead. Odo loses his temper briefly, pushing Bashir against a wall, but then he changes tack. "Your findings could determine who controls this station," he says craftily.
There were some changes in the Klingon's brain stem, Bashir says. Odo mentions the telepathic archives, which Bashir acknowledges could explain it, if the archives were contained in a self-sustaining matrix. And yes, that matrix could have caused the Klingons to re-enact the Saltah'nan power struggle. Odo tells Bashir that he believes the Klingon brought the matrix with him, and it has infected everyone who was in Ops at the time, except Odo himself, whose system rejected it due to his lack of a humanoid brain. "An interesting theory, Constable," Bashir says, "but I'm certainly not behaving out of the ordinary." "Of course not," Odo soothes.
Cunningly, Odo proposes that the two of them use this to their advantage, by figuring out how to remove the field. "Then we'd lose our advantage," Bashir protests. "Would you rather someone blew up the station?" Odo asks. Bashir sees the point. His cooperation is ensured when Odo tells him that the power to control the matrix is the power to control the station. Bashir eagerly gets to work.
The ensign to whom Bashir gave the device comes up to Sisko in Ops, pretending to have a report to show him. Just in time, O'Brien shouts a warning to Sisko, who grabs the ensign and throws him up against a console. Dax calls Kira, but is knocked out by O'Brien, who heads for the transporter controls as Sisko grabs the device and threatens the ensign with it. Kira arrives at that moment with two guards, all pointing their phasers at Sisko. She is about to take him into custody when O'Brien hits a control, and he and Sisko beam out.
They materialize in an airlock corridor, having been diverted there by a forcefield Kira set up to prevent them from beaming onto the Valerian ship. Their only chance, O'Brien says, is to contact Odo and have him override the field. They have no choice but to trust him. Sisko calls Odo, who promises to clear a path for them. Sisko and O'Brien ditch their combadges and head up the corridor.
Kira quickly figures out what's happened, but "that's all right," she says. "They won't get far." Dax then reads that their forcefields are being taken out. Her jaw tightening, Kira calls Odo and asks him whose side he's on. "Yours, of course," Odo replies. She will find Sisko and O'Brien trapped in one of the cargo bays. Kira smiles, tasting victory.
Bashir has just about finished setting up an ionic interference signal in the cargo bay, calibrated to drive the telepathic field out of all those affected. It will remain suspended as long as the interference is in effect. Odo quickly punches some controls, and they're off. Meanwhile, Sisko and O'Brien reach the cargo bay, and find that the doors won't open. A level five security protocol has been activated, and only one person besides Sisko has that access. "Odo!" the commander exclaims angrily. At that moment, Kira arrives with Dax and a guard, phasers drawn.
"So this is where it all ends," says Sisko bitterly. He launches into a rant about Kira's ingratitude and betrayal. But, he says, when all is said and done, "my name will blaze across the stars long after your petty treacheries are forgotten." Kira raises her phaser. "But you won't be here to see it."
Just then, Odo and Bashir arrive, and Odo shouts an order to the computer to execute the interference program. Suddenly, everyone in the room except Odo clutches their heads, as a pink mist emerges from them. Odo tells them to grab hold of something, then opens the airlock door a crack. The matrix is sucked out into space, and Sisko and the others look around in confusion. "Welcome back, everyone," Odo says ironically.
After things have returned to normal, Kira enters Sisko's office to find him contemplating his alien clock. He has no idea why he built it. Self-consciously, Kira says, "I know that none of us were really responsible for our actions, but I still feel like I owe you an apology." "I think we'll let it go, this time," Sisko says with a smile. And when she leaves, he sets the clock in motion.
The original title of this episode was "Ritual Sacrifice".