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Hippocratic Oath


Production no.: 475
Teleplay by: Lisa Klink
Story by: Nicholas Corea and Lisa Klink
Directed by: Rene Auberjonois
Stardate: 49066.5
First satellite airdate: October 14, 1995
 
Scott MacDonald ......
Stephen Davies .........
Jerry Roberts ............
Marshall Teague .......
Roderick Garr ...........
Michael H. Bailous ....
Goran'Agar
Arak'Taral
Meso'Clan
Temo'Zuma
Shady Alien
Jem'Hadar #1

Worf sits alone at a table in Quark's with a mugshot of a shady-looking alien who is sitting at the bar. Quark comes along and comments on the poor quality of the picture, but Worf says it's good enough to establish the identity of the alien, one Regana Tosh, known to be associated with a Markalian smuggling operation. When Kira joins Worf, he tells her Tosh arrived this afternoon, and he believes Quark may be plotting something with him. Kira says she wouldn't be surprised. Worf wonders why Odo doesn't just put Quark in prison.

Bashir and O'Brien are returning to the station after a bio-survey on Merik III. Keiko has been complaining about the workshop O'Brien set up in the bedroom, and O'Brien vents about it to Bashir, who teases him about wishing Keiko was more like a man. Then they pick up a subspace magneton pulse from the Bopak system, something usually produced by a damaged warp core. Since there may be a ship in trouble, they go to have a look. Bopak III is uninhabited, with the nearest Dominion outpost six weeks away, and well off established trade routes. O'Brien detects an energy surge -- they've been hit by a plasma field. The runabout crashlands on the planet, and the two men emerge, miraculously unhurt. Suddenly six Jem'Hadar soldiers materialize in front of them. "Do not move," announces their leader. "You are prisoners of the Jem'Hadar."

The First, whose name is Goran'Agar, questions O'Brien and Bashir while his Second, Arak'Taral, checks out the runabout. Bashir says there are no other ships with them, but Starfleet will come looking for them if they don't return. He also tells them that they came here after picking up a magneton pulse. Goran'Agar immediately orders a damping field put around their warp engine. Guessing accurately that O'Brien is an experienced soldier, he decides to kill him first. But then he learns that Bashir is a doctor. Arak'Taral submits that they kill Bashir first and use O'Brien in a tactical exercise, but Goran'Agar instead orders them both to be brought to camp.

Worf brings his concerns about Quark to Odo and Sisko. But they need evidence to search the smuggler's ship, and Quark will only deny everything if questioned. Odo says he's conducting a thorough investigation, and leaves, trusting that that ends the matter. Sisko notices that Worf is not satisfied, and reminds him that he is no longer a security officer. His job is to coordinate Starfleet activity in this sector, not to catch smugglers. Worf says he will not let this matter interfere with his duties.

Bashir and O'Brien are left in a containment area in a cavern, surrounded by a forcefield. Bashir has noticed that the Jem'Hadar all seem a little distracted, as if something is going on. He thinks they don't want to be found here. "I'd hate to think what would make the Jem'Hadar jumpy," O'Brien comments. Bashir guesses that they must need a doctor. "If that's true, Julian, don't help them," O'Brien urges. "Anything that weakens them increases our chances of getting out of here."

Just then Goran'Agar enters the cave and orders Bashir to come with him. He takes Bashir to a lab area, and tells him he is to conduct scientific research. If he refuses, he will be killed. Bashir lets him know that he won't do any work for them that could be used against the Federation or anyone else. "Fortunately for you, weapons research is not what I need," says Goran'Agar. "There is a drug that all Jem'Hadar must have in order to live. We call it Ketracel-white." He is surprised to learn that Bashir already knows about it.

"The Vorta, they are the ones who control the drug," says Goran'Agar. "They are the ones we came here to escape." Bashir realizes that Goran'Agar and his troop are trying to leave the Dominion. He admits that he's surprised. "Surprised because a Jem'Hadar soldier might want something more than the life of a slave?" Goran'Agar asks. "You know nothing about the Jem'Hadar, except that you fear us. But you will make our final escape from the Dominion possible." There is only a five-day supply of white; however, he doesn't want Bashir to find a way to synthesize the drug, but to break them of the addiction. "I'm not sure that that's possible," says Bashir. "It is possible," Goran'Agar replies. "I know, because I am free of the drug." And Bashir notices for the first time that Goran'Agar is not wearing a neck tube.

Goran'Agar explains that he was on a ship that crashed here three years ago. He was the only survivor, left with a three-day supply of white, which he managed to stretch out for eight days. When it ran out, however, he didn't die. He's convinced that something here on the planet must have cured him, and that's why he brought his troop here. However, it hasn't worked for them. Bashir tries to tell him there may be any number of factors to explain it, but Goran'Agar isn't interested. He leads Bashir out to where Arak'Taral has assembled the others.

They are standing in a clearing, obviously undergoing the first stages of Ketracel-white deprivation. One of them nearly collapses at a light push from Goran'Agar, who gives Bashir a meaningful look. "As a Federation doctor, I know you are trained to feel sympathy and compassion for those in pain. These men are suffering now, but it is nothing compared to what will happen if they are not freed from the drug before our supply runs out." Bashir says he can't promise anything, but he will try, and makes sure to mention that he needs O'Brien's help. Goran'Agar and Arak'Taral then hand out the white, and Goran'Agar informs Bashir, out of earshot of the others, that he has told his men there is enough white to last 27 days. However, in reality, there is only enough for five days. "After that, they will die, but not before they kill me for betraying them, and you for not saving them."

Dax and Worf brief Sisko, Kira, and Odo on the latest word about the Klingons. Afterwards, Worf approaches Odo and tells him that Quark has arranged to purchase a type four Tallonian microscanner, an instrument primarily used to determine the purity of Tallonian crystals. Odo notes that the crystals are illegal anywhere but on the Tallonian homeworld. He says he appreciates the information; Worf adds that he expects Quark to meet with the smuggler again this evening. "Thank you, Mr. Worf," Odo says. "Rest assured that I'll take care of this matter."

Bashir studies samples of various plants and rocks while O'Brien works on a device which they both, for the guard's benefit, refer to as a scanner. It is actually a weapon with a plasma charge that they will use to take out the guard. As they are working, Goran'Agar comes in with Arak'Taral, and asks for an update. Bashir tells him that he hasn't found anything so far. Arak'Taral starts looking suspiciously through the Starfleet equipment while Bashir drones on about chlorophyll molecules. Goran'Agar cuts to the chase and asks when he'll have a cure. "I'm not really sure, yet," Bashir admits. "Three days left, Doctor," Goran'Agar reminds him softly.

Arak'Taral finally notices the device O'Brien was working on, the one that is really a weapon. O'Brien claims it's something he put together to enhance the resolution on a scanner. Arak'Taral flips a switch, and the plasma charge goes off, wounding another soldier (named Meso'Clan) in the leg. O'Brien lunges at Arak'Taral, but is caught by the throat. Goran'Agar orders Arak'Taral to release O'Brien, but the Second does not obey until Goran'Agar threatens him. Then he drops O'Brien, and Goran'Agar has him take the Chief back to the holding cell, while he tells Bashir to check on Meso'Clan, whose knee has been destroyed.

All Bashir can do is give him something for the pain; he will need to stay off the leg until he can be gotten to a medical facility. "If I cannot stand, I am useless," Meso'Clan says. He is ready for death, and the others are about to kill him, but Goran'Agar shocks them by saying no, and to take Meso'Clan back to the ship. "You know the rule," Meso'Clan says. "If the death of one will make the rest stronger, then he dies." "We came here to be free of the Vorta," says Goran'Agar. "It is time to stop living by their rules." Bashir watches as Meso'Clan is taken off, and looks at Goran'Agar thoughtfully. This is not behavior he would have expected from a Jem'Hadar.

On DS9, Worf quietly breaks into Quark's after hours and watches from the upper level as Quark conducts business with Tosh. He sees Quark actually examine the crystals. But there is no sign of Odo. Furious, Worf storms into Security. "You were supposed to be watching the Ferengi!" Odo's not interested in Worf's opinion of his job performance, and suggests coldly that Worf attend to his own duties and stop interfering.

Scanning Goran'Agar, Bashir finds that his body is somehow producing Ketracel-white on its own, but without any apparent glands or cell clusters to make it. He remarks on the incredible metabolism of the Jem'Hadar, and the conversation turns to the Jem'Hadar boy who grew up in three days on DS9. Bashir mentions how Odo was the only one who could control him, and Goran'Agar is put in mind of the Founders. He's never seen one. "To us, they are almost a myth. But everyone in the Dominion, even the Vorta, serve the Founders. I have fought against races that believe in mythical beings who guide their destinies and await them after death. They call them gods. The Founders are like gods to the Jem'Hadar. But our gods never talk to us, and they don't wait for us after death. They only want us to fight for them, and to die for them."

Bashir talks to O'Brien later about Goran'Agar. "He's beginning to question everything he's been taught -- blind obedience to the Founders, killing without remorse, the devaluation of other sentient lifeforms. He's developing his own moral structure. It's incredible." O'Brien is skeptical; Goran'Agar may simply have been manipulating Bashir to get him to work for him. But Bashir reminds him of when Goran'Agar spared Meso'Clan's life. He thinks they should try to help him. "What makes Goran'Agar different from the others? He's not addicted to the drug. Now if we can get the other Jem'Hadar soldiers off the drug, they may go through a similar change. And with the Jem'Hadar soldiers thinking for themselves, the Founders may suddenly find themselves without an army to give orders to."

"You're just guessing," O'Brien argues. "You don't know how the other Jem'Hadar will react when they're off the drugs. They may go marauding through the galaxy on their own. At least now, the Dominion keeps them on a short leash." "They're not animals," Bashir insists. "They're people being used as slaves. And this is their one chance at freedom." "And what are they going to do with that freedom?" O'Brien asks. "Stop being so naive, Julian, and look at them for what they are. They're killers. That's all they know how to do. That's all they want to do." But Goran'Agar's example has convinced Bashir that they can be more.

O'Brien can't believe what he's hearing, Bashir actually siding with the Jem'Hadar. "I'm trying to make you understand there are larger issues here," Bashir says. "We're dealing with a complex situation." "No, it is not complex, it is simple," O'Brien tells him harshly. "Those men out there are Dominion soldiers. We help them, we may end up unleashing the Jem'Hadar against the Federation. And that is a risk I am not willing to take. So we do not help them, and that's the end of it!"

Bashir says it's not. Calmly, he tells O'Brien that he's the senior officer, and he'll decide what to do. He orders O'Brien flat out to bring him a component he needs: the bio-spectral phase discriminator from the runabout's sensor array. Stiffly, O'Brien says, "Yes, sir."

O'Brien is escorted to the runabout by Arak'Taral and another soldier. As O'Brien works, Arak'Taral comments on the flaws in his escape plan. But O'Brien surreptitiously manages to rig the transporter so that when he jams an optical cable into a power junction, causing an explosion, he is able to beam himself off the runabout and into the forest.

Bashir tells Goran'Agar he can't find anything here to explain what happened to him. Perhaps Goran'Agar was exposed to some anomalous condition that no longer exists, a possibility that the Jem'Hadar denies. Or perhaps the answer is within Goran'Agar himself, a random mutation. Just then Arak'Taral returns with the news that O'Brien has escaped. He suspects that Bashir had a hand in it; Bashir quite honestly says he doesn't know where O'Brien is, but Arak'Taral flatly accuses him of lying. Goran'Agar orders him to find O'Brien and bring him back alive. "I knew you once," Arak'Taral tells him. "Trusted you, obeyed you without question. But now, you're like this human -- weak, soft, inferior. If being free of white means becoming like you, I don't want to be cured." He leaves.

There is nothing Goran'Agar can do now for O'Brien; his men will no longer obey him. Bashir tells him to find O'Brien and keep him alive until he can find the cure. He gives his word not to try to escape. Goran'Agar decides to trust him, and says he will do what he can.

Quark meets with Tosh to finalize the deal. However, as soon as the latinum and the crystals trade hands, Worf steps out of the shadows with a phaser and takes the bag of latinum, announcing, "Trafficking in illegal merchandise is a felony under Federation law." "What's he doing here?" Quark demands, talking to the bag, which begins to morph. Worf hastily drops it as it becomes Odo, who glares at Worf. "A very good question." Odo was actually working to infiltrate the smuggling ring, with Quark's help. "I don't report to you, Commander," Odo tells Worf. "And I don't spread the word when I'm conducting an undercover investigation. I also thought that your surveillance would make the setup more convincing." Tosh is only a middleman, but now Odo will have to settle for arresting just him. Quark reluctantly gives Odo the crystals. Worf stands there with egg on his face.

O'Brien manages to foil the Jem'Hadar who are tracking him, and makes it back to the makeshift lab where Bashir is working rather excitedly. Surprised to find there's no guard, O'Brien tells him to get moving. "Chief," Bashir says, "I'm not going." He believes he's on to something here, and he doesn't want to leave his work. O'Brien doesn't care -- this is their one chance to get out of here. But Bashir just as passionately says this is also their one chance to break the Jem'Hadar's addiction. They argue until finally Bashir says, "If you want to go, go." "All right, I will," O'Brien says, and turns away. Then he turns back. "But you're coming with me." He fires, destroying Bashir's work.

"There. You can bring me up on charges when we get back, but there's nothing to keep you here now. So let's get going." Bashir is still staring in shock at the wreckage when Goran'Agar materializes, knocking the weapon out of O'Brien's hand. The Jem'Hadar guesses immediately that O'Brien did this. He orders both of them outside.

They are marched through the forest at gunpoint; Bashir tries to tell Goran'Agar there might still be a way, but Goran'Agar says there's no more time. The supply of white will run out tomorrow. He brings them to the runabout, where Arak'Taral emerges and sees them. "You caught him. I shouldn't have doubted you. Should we kill them ourselves, or let the others?" "I will do the killing," says Goran'Agar, and shoots him; Arak'Taral falls dead. "Take your ship, and go," Goran'Agar says.

"Goran'Agar," Bashir pleads, "if you stay here, they'll kill you." "Unless I kill them first," Goran'Agar tells him. "It would be better for them to die quickly in battle, than slowly, as the drug runs out." Bashir is frustrated. "You don't have to do this. Even if we can't save their lives, there's no need to sacrifice yourself." Goran'Agar turns to O'Brien. "You are a soldier?" "I have been," O'Brien replies. "Then you explain," Goran'Agar says, and walks away, becoming invisible. O'Brien looks at Bashir. "He's their commander. They trusted him. He can't leave them." Reluctantly, Bashir finally follows him onto the runabout.

Worf enters Sisko's office to clear his conscience about having screwed up Odo's investigation. But Sisko has already heard about it. "Word gets around in a place like this. It's one of the things you have to get used to." "One of many things, it seems," Worf admits. "Starfleet officers often have trouble learning the unofficial rules of the station," Sisko tells him. "There's no manual to study. You have to learn things as you go. A little different than life on a starship."

"When I served aboard the Enterprise," Worf says, troubled, "I always knew who were my allies, and who were my enemies." "Let's just say DS9 has more shades of gray," Sisko replies. "And Quark definitely is a shade of gray. He has his own set of rules, and he follows them diligently. Once you understand them, you understand Quark. I'd say that's true for everyone here. You'll fit in, Commander. Just give it time."

The runabout approaches the station, with a pensive O'Brien and Bashir aboard. Neither is sure what to say to the other. Finally O'Brien remarks that Bashir could bring him up on charges, but Bashir says that's not really his style. "I wish things could've been different, Julian," O'Brien tells him. "...And I'm sorry I had to destroy your work." "You didn't have to, Chief," Bashir replies quietly. "You had a choice. And you chose to disobey orders, override my judgment, and condemn those men to death."

"Yes, I did," acknowledges O'Brien. "Because I thought it was the only way to save your life. Whatever else you may think of who I am and what I did, at least try to understand that." And Bashir does understand. He mentions that tonight is their darts night, but neither feels like playing. "Maybe in a few days," Bashir offers, holding out hope that the rift between them will be healed.


  • For this episode, the staff ended up blending two different story pitches: Nicholas Corea had envisioned Jem'Hadar trying to free themselves of white, while Lisa Klink had postulated Bashir and O'Brien taking opposite sides in a war.
  • This episode was reversed with "The Visitor" in the shooting schedule so that Colm Meaney could be freed to do a film.
  • Actor Robert Foxworth read for the part of Goran'Agar, but the producers decided to save him for the later two-parter, "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost".