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Honor Among Thieves


Production no.: 539
Teleplay by: René Echevarria
Story by: Philip Kim
Directed by: Allan Eastman
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: February 21, 1998
 
Michael Harney .....
Carlos Carrasco .....
John Chandler ........
Leland Crooke .......
Joseph Culp ...........
Nick Tate ..............
Brad Blaisdell ........
Chadwick
Krole
Flith
Vorta
Raimus
Bilby
Yint


In a seedy tavern on Farius Prime, an unshaven, civvie-clad O'Brien sits listening unobtrusively to a conversation between three men who happen to be members of the Orion Syndicate. One of them is Liam Bilby; the others are his subordinates, Flith and Krole. They are worried that Bilby's boss, Raimus, will be unhappy over some merchandise he told Bilby to get. The three men decide to order sandwiches, through Krole's dataport, and bill it to the city's sanitation department. Surreptitiously, O'Brien aims a small device at the com-booth Krole is using. A tendril of energy snakes out of the dataport on the console to attack Krole. Then O'Brien leaps to his aid, turning off the com-booth. He looks casually at the fused dataport. "Too bad. That's an expensive piece of hardware."

Krole is worried; he can't ask Raimus to buy a replacement. O'Brien pipes up, saying he can fix it, depending on how much they're willing to pay him. "Do you know who I am?" asks Bilby; O'Brien says, "No." He tells Bilby his name is Connelly. "I've seen you around here these last few weeks," Bilby comments. "You're always in here tinkering around with one piece of junk or another, which tells me that things are not going too well for you." Giving O'Brien the dataport, he tells him to bring it back tomorrow morning, fixed and polished. O'Brien agrees.

Later, he meets with his Starfleet Intelligence contact, Chadwick, who is impressed that O'Brien contacted the Syndicate so quickly. O'Brien tells him he spiked one of Bilby's men, in order to get himself noticed. He wants to get this assignment over with and go home. "I realize you didn't exactly volunteer for this," Chadwick says. "Believe me, I wish we hadn't been forced to turn to someone outside Starfleet Intelligence for help."

The Syndicate has killed five undercover operatives in the last year. O'Brien is under orders to find out who their informant is in Starfleet. Now, Bilby will check into his background, which will confirm that O'Brien is a down-and-out fix-it man. This will give O'Brien an in with the Syndicate, which is always looking for skilled people. He has to get as close to Bilby as possible. But Chadwick warns him not to take any more unnecessary risks. "These are dangerous men. If they find out who you are, they'll kill you."

Back on DS9, the station is plagued with system glitches, something that tends to happen with greater frequency every time O'Brien goes away. Bashir goes so far as to ask Sisko for answers, but the captain can't discuss O'Brien's whereabouts. Sisko guesses quite accurately that Bashir isn't merely irritated by the malfunctions, he's also concerned for his friend. "If it helps, I will tell you this: the Chief can take care of himself as well as anyone I know."

O'Brien brings the dataport back to the tavern, repaired and polished as requested. Bilby approves. "Very impressive. You know, if I was a suspicious man, I might ask myself how a tinkerer living in one room on Jinami Street managed to fix such a complicated piece of hardware so quickly...I know a lot about you. Maybe more than you want me to." He asks O'Brien to come with him for a walk.

Bilby brings him to his own apartment, where he lives with a cat named Chester. He brings out a Klingon disruptor rifle, which gives O'Brien a bad moment. "Did you think I brought you here to kill you?" Bilby asks. "Why would I kill someone that can fix things for me? I guess a man who's been knocked around as much as you have is always expecting the worst." Relieved, O'Brien admits to his bad luck. It's clear that Bilby's background check on him has been quite thorough, but not so thorough that he doesn't buy O'Brien's cover story completely. He tells O'Brien that his employer asked him to procure three Klingon disruptor rifles, and now he has a problem, because the rifles don't work. O'Brien checks out the rifle, easily identifies the problem, and says sure, he can fix it. As for what his employer wants with Klingon disruptors, Bilby says he didn't ask.

Then Bilby offers O'Brien some cake that his wife made and sent him. O'Brien politely takes a bite and tries to pretend it's delicious, as Bilby tells him about his wife and children on New Sydney. He wishes he could have them here with him, but that's not a good idea. Bilby asks if O'Brien has a family; O'Brien says no. "You should," says Bilby. "It's the most important thing." Everything he earns, after his "fare" to Raimus, goes to his wife. He goes on to explain the hierarchy of the organization, and O'Brien does his best to act interested, though Bilby wants to be sure he can trust him. Suddenly he starts pressing O'Brien for his opinion of his wife's cake. O'Brien finally admits he found it a little dry. Bilby smiles, and agrees. "What do you make of that, Chester? I have found me an honest man. Must be my lucky day."

Chadwick passes O'Brien the parts for the disruptors, which were obtained courtesy of the Klingon ambassador to Farius. O'Brien wonders if there's any way he could talk to his wife and let her know he's all right, but Chadwick says they can't risk it.

Bilby inspects the repaired disruptors and approves, though Flith asks where O'Brien got the parts. O'Brien tries to bluff, claiming his source would prefer to remain anonymous. No one buys it, including Bilby, who demands to know where the parts came from. O'Brien finally says he stole them. "I thought it was better you didn't know, in case the police caught up with me." This scores more points with Bilby, who knows neither Flith nor Krole would do anything like that for him. As a sort of reward, Bilby decides to take O'Brien to his tailor and gets him a new suit.

An alien named Yint enters the tavern, having heard that Bilby was looking for him. Bilby wants to talk to him about the defective disruptors. Yint claims they were working fine when he sold them to Bilby, but Bilby, who has Flith hand him one of the rifles, wants his money back. "Maybe I just don't know how to work it," concedes Bilby, who then shoots Yint in the leg. "What do you know? I figured it out." Then he proceeds to kill the man in cold blood.

"No one takes me for a fool," declares Bilby, in his apartment as he's talking to O'Brien. "I'll do whatever it takes to protect what I have. This life -- it isn't for everyone. Sometimes I wish I could just get away from it all. But what would I do with myself? I'm too old to start over. Besides, who am I to complain? The organization's given me opportunities I never thought I would have. Once you're part of it, once you're accepted, there's no limit to what you can do, if you're smart about it." He mentions that they have people everywhere, even someone in Starfleet.

O'Brien pricks up his ears. It's the first opportunity he's had to get the information he's here for, so that he can go home. He carefully questions Bilby, who is frankly thinking about other things like his daughter's birthday. But he manages to learn that the Starfleet officer in question was in charge of weather control on Risa last year, and took a bribe from Raimus to make it stop raining. Then Bilby gets a call from Krole. Raimus wants to see him, even though it's in the middle of the night.

Bilby and O'Brien go to meet with Raimus at the tavern. The boss beams in with two bodyguards, plus someone he's brought along to meet Bilby: a Vorta. Noticing O'Brien, Raimus asks who he is, and how well Bilby knows him. "I know him," says Bilby. That satisfies Raimus, though the Vorta wonders about their security precautions. "Bilby witnessed for him," Raimus explains. "That's all that's necessary." "If you say so," concedes the Vorta, who proceeds to tell Bilby that they're going to ask him to do something else very important. "You can count on me," affirms Bilby. As the Vorta makes ready to leave, Raimus warns Bilby in a low voice not to let him down.

"Do you know what I just did for you?" Bilby asks O'Brien after they're gone. "...I witnessed for you. If anything happens, I'm accountable." "I understand," says O'Brien. With a hint of warning in his voice, Bilby replies, "Good."

At their next meeting, O'Brien passes on the information to Chadwick, about who the informant is, and also the fact that Raimus brought a Vorta to meet Bilby. The possibility that the Orion Syndicate is working for the Dominion is dismaying, to say the least. O'Brien asks if he can go home now. "Not until you find out what's going on," Chadwick tells him. "I was afraid you were going to say that," O'Brien says.

To further ingratiate himself with Bilby, O'Brien aids Krole in robbing the Bank of Bolias, using his dataport. Now even Krole and Flith seem to accept him. Later, O'Brien finds himself in a bit of an embarrassing spot when Bilby arranges for him to have some time with a woman. He makes up a girlfriend named Kimiko who works in a flower shop. Bilby is pleased. "A man your age, you should settle down and have a family. It's the most important thing." He offers to talk to her and determine if she's the marrying kind. "I can read people right away. What's in their hearts. You, for instance. I saw through you the first time I laid eyes on you." Bilby notes how "alone" O'Brien seemed, but when he repaired the dataport, "that's when I knew we're going to do great things together." He confides that he's been given an opportunity to step up in the organization. "Everything's changing, I can feel it. And it all started when you came along. You changed my luck...I'm going to take care of you. I don't forget my friends. 'Cause friends, they're like family. Nothing is more important. Nothing." O'Brien is silent, knowing that the time is coming soon when he will have to betray this man.

O'Brien doesn't have much to report at his next meeting with Chadwick, though Chadwick is pleased to learn that Bilby witnessed for him. "Sounds like you've really got your hooks into him." O'Brien can't help but ask what will happen to Bilby when he's off the case. "They're going to kill him, aren't they?" "Listen," Chadwick tells him. "Bilby chose this life. Whatever happens to him is his fault, not yours." To make sure O'Brien sees this through, he says that if Bilby is lucky, he'll only be arrested, as long as O'Brien helps make a case against him.

In the morning, Bilby and his underlings enter the tavern to find Raimus and the Vorta waiting with grim faces. "Which one is it?" the Vorta asks. "Wait. Don't tell me. Let me see if I can guess. They say you can tell a traitor by looking in his eyes." O'Brien waits tensely while the Vorta makes a show of looking them all over very carefully. Finally his gaze fixes on O'Brien. "Him." Bilby protests this. But surprisingly, the Bolian bartender shoots and kills Flith instead. "He was going to be my second guess," says the Vorta. Raimus explains that Flith conducted some side business without paying his fare. "It's a good thing you never witnessed for him, or you'd be lying there, too," he tells Bilby.

The meeting moves on to the matter at hand: the job they want Bilby to do. He is to assassinate the Klingon ambassador to Farius, using the disruptors he procured earlier. O'Brien, realizing why, blurts out that they want it to look as if the ambassador was killed by a rival house. The Vorta notes his astuteness, and can't resist revealing the Dominion's clever plan. Since the ambassador is known to favor breaking the alliance with the Federation to concentrate on defending the Empire, the Dominion, with the Syndicate's help, is going to make it appear as if Gowron ordered the assassination. The cause of the martyred ambassador will gain strength, resulting hopefully in the Klingons pulling back and leaving the Federation standing alone against the Dominion's forces. Raimus cautions Bilby that if he gets caught, he never met the Vorta. "I never realized how much the Dominion and the Orion Syndicate have in common," the Vorta comments. "It seems that in both organizations, loyalty is everything."

O'Brien duly warns Chadwick of the plan that night, and how he found a way to interrupt the power grid so that Bilby could beam in. But when Chadwick says he'll notify the Klingons, O'Brien protests that they'll kill Bilby. "That's not really our business, is it?" says Chadwick. "You're setting them up to be murdered?" O'Brien realizes. Chadwick reminds him that Bilby and his friends are the killers. "All I'm doing is following procedures and warning our allies about a possible assassination attempt. What happens after that is not my concern...Miles, listen to me. You've lost perspective. You're starting to sympathize with these people. It's a good thing we're pulling you out." He tells O'Brien they're putting him on the next transport home, and admits that he deliberately misled him about building a case against Bilby. "But you were starting to waver. I needed to keep you on track." Chadwick starts to lead O'Brien off. But O'Brien knocks him unconscious.

Bilby is feeding Chester and getting ready to leave on his mission when O'Brien turns up on his doorstep, urging him not to go, saying it's a trap. At first, he doesn't tell the truth about how he knows this; he claims someone traced his signal when he accessed the power grid. Bilby doesn't believe him, thinking that O'Brien is just panicking. "Starfleet Intelligence will warn them you're coming," O'Brien finally says. Bilby dismisses it. "How do you know that? I suppose you work for them." "What if I said I did?" O'Brien suddenly says. Bilby thinks he's joking, but when O'Brien insists it's true, he exclaims that he doesn't want to hear it.

O'Brien explains that he came here to warn him, because the Klingons will kill him if they catch him. "I'm dead already!" says Bilby in despair. "Can't you see that? I witnessed for you. Do you have any idea what that means?" He can't hide from the Syndicate, and if he turned himself in, they would go after his family. However, if Raimus thinks he died without knowing about O'Brien, his family would be safe. Bilby's decision is made. He has no option other than to go, and get himself killed.

"How did I let this happen? I should've known. You were too good to be true. I wanted so much to believe that my luck had changed, I didn't see it. I didn't see." "I never meant for this to happen," O'Brien tells him sadly. "I wasn't after you. I was just trying to find out how the Syndicate compromised Starfleet." This only makes Bilby feel worse. "I wasn't even your target. I suppose I'm not important enough. I've always known something like this might happen. The smart thing would be to kill you. But I guess I've already proved I'm not too smart." "I'm sorry, Bilby," O'Brien says sincerely, but Bilby takes no comfort in that. He asks if O'Brien can make sure Chester is looked after. And there's one more thing. "Back home, wherever that is, do you have a family?" "Yeah," O'Brien says. Bilby smiles. "Good. That's the most important thing." With that, he goes to his death.

His assignment over, O'Brien returns to DS9. After he has confided the whole story to Bashir, the doctor remarks what a risk it was to tell Bilby the truth, and that O'Brien is lucky Chadwick didn't include everything in his report. "Julian, you don't understand what I'm trying to tell you," O'Brien says. "Bilby trusted me. He put his life in my hands. And I killed him. Just as surely as if I'd pulled the trigger myself." "That's not fair and you know it," Bashir replies. "You did what you had to do -- your duty." "Is that what I'm supposed to tell myself?" O'Brien asks. Bashir gives up trying to talk O'Brien out of his guilt, and instead tells him he's glad he's back. As Bashir leaves, Chester jumps onto O'Brien's lap to be stroked.


  • The premise evolved radically, from a story in which Jake inadvertently gets mixed up with mobsters, and is helped by Quark.
  • Bilby was to have been played by Charles Hallahan, a veteran character actor who unfortunately died shortly before production.