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In the Cards

Production no.: 523
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore
Story by: Truly Barr Clark & Scott J. Neal
Directed by: Michael Dorn
Stardate: 50929.4 
First satellite airdate: June 7, 1997
Jeffrey Combs .........
Brian Markinson ......
Aron Eisenberg ........
Chase Masterson .....
Louise Fletcher ........
Kai Winn

Sisko and his senior staff have just finished a dinner together, but no one is in a party mood. Starships have gone missing, the situation with the Dominion is deteriorating, and Odo notes that thefts of food and medical supplies are up -- which also happened just before the Cardassians were forced to abandon the station. Gloom settles even more deeply over the room with that pronouncement. Finally everyone leaves. A depressed Sisko tells Jake and Nog not to bother cleaning up; he wants to be alone for a while. When they go, he gets a call saying that Kai Winn is coming to the station tomorrow to meet with him. That's all he needed.

In Quark's, Nog sarcastically thanks Jake for the "fun" evening. Jake, however, is worried about his father. "He's usually the one who tries to lift everyone's spirits. I mean, people go to him for encouragement. Where does he go when he needs it?" Quark interrupts to tell them about an auction he's holding tomorrow, of the contents of a derelict freighter that the Bajorans found, filled with "valuables of every description". Nog reads off the list of items, which he calls junk. It includes a mid-twentieth-century human baseball card.

Jake pricks up his ears, snatching the PADD. Sure enough, it's a mint-condition 1951 Willie Mays rookie card. Excitedly, Jake tells Nog that this is how he can cheer up his dad. He'll go to the auction and bid on the card. "He's always doing things for me. I want to do something for him for a change. And this is it. All I have to do is get him this card. How hard can that be?"

The first step is to convince Nog to loan him the latinum, since Jake doesn't have any due to his species' "philosophy of self-enhancement". Nog refuses. It's taken him a lifetime to acquire his life savings of five bars, and he's not going to throw it away on a baseball card. Jake resorts to emotional blackmail. "Not even for my father -- the man who made it possible for you to enter Starfleet Academy?...The man who believed in you when no one else would...I can't believe you'd rather keep your filthy money locked up in a box under a bed than use it to give him endless moments of happiness." Nog can't take any more. "All right, all right. I'll do it!"

The next morning, Kai Winn arrives at Sisko's office. She asks to walk with him on the Promenade. There, she notes a closed shop. "So many people have left Deep Space Nine in the last few months. I'm sure there are times when you must feel as if you're being abandoned here." The Kai finally reveals why she's here: to meet with a representative of the Dominion. Sisko admits he's concerned to hear that. "The Dominion is notorious for its political intrigue." "I have some experience in that area as well," Winn says ironically. She's aware of how crucial this time is for Bajor, and Sisko agrees with her for once.

The auction gets going, with Jake and Nog up front waiting for their lot. Finally it comes up: the card is included in an Andorian chest that also contains such items as an old Bajoran mandala and a 23rd-century ion transtator. Jake opens the bidding at one bar. A vedek starts bidding against him, obviously after the mandala. Then someone else enters the bidding -- a rather squirrelly human man named Dr. Elias Giger. The vedek drops out. Giger drives the bid up to three bars. He wants that lot. Finally he bids an amazing ten bars. Jake and Nog can't come anywhere close to matching that. Defeated, Jake watches as the card is packed away.

Back in their quarters, Nog suggests that Jake get his dad some shoes instead, but Jake is still brooding over the card. "I want to give my dad something that'll bring a little joy into his life. Something special. I'm telling you, that baseball card is the answer. It's kismet...Fate, destiny. I was meant to give that card to my father." "Jake, I think you're taking this whole baseball card thing way too seriously," Nog tells him. But Jake won't be dissuaded. "It's not the card, it's my dad. This is very important to me. My father's never let me down. He's always been there for me when I needed him. And right now he needs me. I don't want to let him down. Nog, please, let's get that card." Nog is finally convinced by the sincerity in his friend's voice.

The two of them catch up to Giger outside Quark's as the purchasers pick up their items. "Who sent you?" Giger demands. "No one," replies Jake, baffled. Giger declares he's not interested in their "business transaction". "Listen to me. I haven't done anything wrong, and I won't be hounded by you and your soulless minions of orthodoxy. I haven't broken any laws. Except perhaps the laws of nature. So stay away from me!" He escapes into a turbolift.

Sisko greets the Dominion representative as he comes aboard the station with two Jem'Hadar. It's Weyoun, who acts delighted to see him. Sisko cuts through the bull. "I don't like the Dominion, I don't like what it stands for, and I don't like you. So let's dispense with the hollow pleasantries and stick to business." Weyoun looks wounded. "I can't tell you how it pains me to hear you say that, Captain. You see, I really like Deep Space Nine, and I like you. And after this meeting with Kai Winn, I think you and I will be seeing a lot more of each other."

Jake is in the replimat when Nog finds him. Giger has left a message for them to meet him in his quarters, to make a deal for the card. The two of them hurry over. Nog tells Jake to let him handle this, before they chime the door. It opens to reveal a room full of bizarre equipment, and Giger at a console. Giger announces he has checked up on them and is satisfied that they are not working for the "soulless minions of orthodoxy that have hounded my work and plagued my existence." So he will open negotiations for the card. But it's not for sale. He's willing to trade it for a list of things which he hands to them; it's a lengthy list of odd medical and technological items. Nog asks what Giger plans to do with them.

"Let me ask you both a simple question," says Giger. "Do you want to die?" Puzzled, the boys reply no. "Of course you don't," Giger goes on. "So why should you? Why should any of us end up as putrefying corpses in wooden boxes stuck in the ground, or vaporized into subatomic particles and vented into the cosmos like a bad case of gas? No reason that I can think of. I have devoted my life to the study of death. And you know what I've found? Death is nothing more than the result of cellular boredom...Think about it. The cells in your body have been doing the same job, the same dull, monotonous routine every day since you were conceived -- metabolize, divide, metabolize, divide. Wouldn't you get bored? Of course you would. So at some point, the cells just say, 'That's it.' And you, the unwary victim of cellular ennui, are quite literally bored to death." The answer, first thought up by a Dr. Bathkin, is to "keep the cells energized -- keep them in the game, by teaching them new mitochondrial tricks." Bathkin died before he could finish his work, in a shuttle accident, "or so they say," Giger adds darkly.

Hearing "the clarion call of destiny," and after fifteen years of work, scrounging materials, and being laughed at by the scientific establishment, he has now nearly completed work on what he calls a "cellular regeneration and entertainment chamber", which is a large coffin-like structure in the middle of the room. "Spend eight hours a day in this machine, and your cells will never get bored, you will never grow old, and most important, you will never die. That is the goal of my work: nothing less than immortality itself!"

Jake and Nog step aside to confer quietly. They're both pretty well convinced that this guy's turbolift does not go all the way to the bridge. However, since he does have the card, Jake decides that they have to help him. "Nog, I can't let my father down." "Let him down?" Nog exclaims. "Your father doesn't even know this card exists. I don't know which of you is crazier." "I'm not crazy," Jake replies defensively. "I'm just a little obsessed." He tells Giger they're in. Giger won't shake hands for fear of germs, but has both of them nod to seal the deal.

The first item is a neodynium power cell from a Cardassian phase-coil inverter. The boys ask O'Brien (who is stuck in a cargo bay recalibrating EPS regulators) if he can help them out, but Jake cuts Nog off before the cadet can explain why they need it. He wants it to be a surprise, and therefore no one can know. O'Brien says he doesn't have time to scrounge for such a thing. Nog decides to show Jake how incentive-based economics works. He asks the Chief if he wouldn't rather be doing something else right now, such as kayaking. Nog has hit the nail on the head; O'Brien would love to be doing exactly that. When Nog proposes that he and Jake take over the task, O'Brien agrees quickly. He will have the power cell sent to their quarters. Nog and Jake get to work.

Next, the two of them hit Bashir up for five liters of anaerobic metabolites suspended in a hydrosaline solution, while the doctor is running a complex experiment. Bashir isn't quite as easy as O'Brien; he doesn't have anything he'd rather be doing than this research, as it's the first chance he's had to work on it in months. But after giving it a little thought, there is something he wants: Kukalaka. He had loaned him to Leeta, who never gave him back. "Done," agrees Jake. "But just one thing, Doctor -- what's a Kukalaka?"

That night, Nog breaks into Leeta's quarters, where the Dabo girl is sleeping, hugging the bear. He finally manages to retrieve Kukalaka after blowing in her ear to get her to let go.

Kai Winn has a talk with Sisko. Weyoun has proposed that Bajor sign a non-aggression treaty with the Dominion -- a move which Sisko immediately recognizes as an effort to split Bajor from the Federation. "Forgive me, Emissary," points out the Kai, "but you've already done that. It was your advice six months ago that kept Bajor out of the Federation. How did you put it? 'Bajor must stand alone.' Well, we are very much alone now." Sisko assures her that Starfleet is still committed to protecting her world. "We're not going to stand idly by and watch the Dominion conquer Bajor." "Can you promise me that you will not let one Jem'Hadar soldier set foot on Bajor?" Winn asks. "Can you promise me that you will use your entire fleet to protect our planet even if it means sacrificing other worlds, like Vulcan or Andor or Berengaria, or perhaps even Earth itself?" "I can't make that kind of promise," Sisko admits; Winn replies wryly, "I wouldn't believe you if you did."

Her dilemma is clear: if Bajor allies itself with the Federation, it will likely be the first casualty if war breaks out; if it goes with the Dominion, it will become the next conquered world. The Prophets have not answered her prayers for guidance, or granted her any orb visions. So she is asking the Emissary for advice. "Tell me what to do and I will do it. How can I save Bajor?" Sisko thinks for a moment. "Stall. Tell Weyoun you have to consult with the Council of Ministers, or you have to meditate on your response, anything you want, but you have to stall for time." For what, he doesn't know. "But I do know the moment of crisis isn't here yet. And until that moment arrives, we have to keep Bajor's options open. I'm aware that this is difficult for you, given our past, but this time, you have to trust me." Winn reads his pagh. "Very well, Emissary. We put ourselves in your hands. May we all walk with the Prophets."

Jake brings Giger about half the items he wanted; they're still working on the rest. Giger plugs in one of the new pieces of equipment to one of his apparati and throws a switch; a noise begins. "Do you know what that is? It's the sound of immortality." Meanwhile, Weyoun is in his quarters, directly above Giger's. The Vorta listens through the floor while the Jem'Hadar scan. "What's going on down there?" Weyoun asks rhetorically, perplexed.

The boys keep at it. While Jake tries to add humor to a speech Kira has to give to the agricultural delegation, Nog listens to Worf's Klingon opera recordings to filter out the sub-harmonic distortions. He has to listen at the volume Worf listens at, which is extremely loud. "Of course, if I could've simply told him why I needed two meters of electro-plasma conduit from the Defiant, he probably would've just given it to me, and things would be a lot quieter around here!" he grouses.

Later, they go down to Giger's quarters with another load of stuff. The door is unlocked. Going inside, they discover that the room is completely empty, stripped bare of every piece of equipment; Giger himself is likewise gone.

The only thing they can think to do is to report Giger's disappearance to Odo, who can't find any record of a Dr. Giger being assigned to those quarters. "Maybe the soulless minions of orthodoxy finally caught up with him," Nog suggests. "The who?" Odo asks, puzzled. Jake tries to explain that they were after Giger's cellular regeneration and entertainment chamber, and then has to explain what that is, and that it's supposed to make people live forever. Jake and Nog leave with the constable's threats of charging them with filing false reports, obstructing justice, and being public nuisances still ringing in their ears.

Jake sees Kai Winn talking on the second level of the Promenade with a vedek, the one who was bidding against them at the auction. This sets Jake off on a rather strange train of thought which makes sense to him. The vedek wanted the Bajoran mandala that came with the card. He must have been acting as the Kai's agent, and she got angry when they lost the mandala. "And we all know how dangerous she is when she's angry." "Jake, I'm really starting to worry about you," Nog begins. Jake starts to lead him off. "Let me introduce you to a new human expression: we're going to beard the lion in its den." Nog sighs. "Lions and Gigers and bears..." "Oh, my," adds Jake, looking up at the spot where the Kai was standing.

After another round of talks with Kai Winn, Weyoun inquires if she plans to recommend the non-aggression pact to the First Minister; Winn replies that she can't divulge that. "Of course, of course, forgive me for even asking," Weyoun says smoothly. "It is enough to know that you and I have found so many common interests. I feel that we are very much alike." Winn answers this by reaching out and grasping his ear to read his pagh. Finally she lets go, and smiles into his slightly puzzled face. "No. We are nothing alike. Nothing at all."

After she leaves Weyoun, she rounds a corner and encounters Jake and Nog waiting outside her quarters, dead serious expressions on their faces. "What is it, my children?" "We need to talk," says Jake.

"You accused the Kai of burglary and kidnapping?" Sisko demands incredulously as Jake and Nog stand sheepishly before him later in his office. He demands an explanation, now. Nog starts to tell the truth, but Jake stops him. "We were in the bar and I guess we got a little drunk." "Jake!" protests Nog, horrified. He tries to separate himself, but Sisko is not in the mood. The captain glares at the two of them, his expression icy. "Drunk. I see that my faith in the two of you has sadly been misplaced. You both are confined to quarters until further notice. Dismissed!"

In disgrace, the boys leave the office. Nog is fed up with Jake's insistence that they not tell his father about the card. "Of course not. If you tell him about the card, he might forgive us. He might even be grateful for all the effort we've gone through just to make him happy. And we certainly don't want that!" They board the turbolift. Jake thinks that once they get the card, everything will be fine. "Jake," Nog tells him, "as your friend, I think I should tell you you're starting to go over the edge. You need some perspective on all this. You need to get away, clear your head." Suddenly the two of them dematerialize, and find themselves on the Dominion warship docked at the station, with two Jem'Hadar aiming weapons right at them. "This isn't what I had in mind," gulps Nog.

Weyoun enters, and the interrogation begins. He wants to know the nature of their relationship with Giger. Jake says truthfully that they barely know the man. "He had a baseball card that I wanted to give to my father to cheer him up. My father's the station commander, by the way." "I know who your father is," says Weyoun. "Go on." Jake explains about the deal they made for the card. Weyoun just looks at him. "Do you really expect me to believe that everything you've been doing for the last twenty-two hours has been perfectly innocent? That it was merely a coincidence that Dr. Giger has been running experiments with highly charged polaric particles directly below my quarters? I suppose there's also an innocent explanation to the secret meetings you've been having with virtually the entire senior staff of Deep Space Nine, or that Kai Winn met with you immediately after leaving me? I suggest that you stop playing games with me and tell me the truth. Quickly."

As Jake is protesting that it's a misunderstanding, Giger is brought in by a Jem'Hadar; he's carrying the Andorian chest. "You betrayed me!" the scientist hisses at Jake. "You turned me over to these soulless minions of orthodoxy! Well, they won't discover the secret of my work without a -- fight," he concludes weakly as the Jem'Hadar takes the chest from him and gives it to Weyoun. The Vorta opens it and begins examining the treasures within, including the card.

Desperate, Jake says, "All right. We'll tell you the truth...We weren't supposed to divulge this, but since you've left us no choice, we're working for Starfleet Intelligence." "Oh, no," groans Nog. Jake proceeds to spin a wild and totally ludicrous yarn about the card. According to him, Willie Mays is a time traveler, and the card is their only link to him. "We must find out what he's planning to do in the past, or what he may have done already. We need that card. The entire future of the galaxy may depend on us tracking down Willie Mays, and stopping him."

There is a moment of silence. Finally, Weyoun announces, "I believe you." This brings incredulous looks from Giger, Nog, and even Jake. "That is, I believe your first story," Weyoun clarifies. "That you're two innocent boys trying to give a gift to Captain Sisko." With that cleared up, the Vorta asks Giger what he was doing under his quarters. "He's harmless," Nog says. "He's just working on a way to become immortal." Weyoun actually brightens. "Really? I have a background in, shall we say, creative genetics. I'd be most interested in hearing your theories." Giger is quite happy to explain. "Let me ask you a simple question -- do you want to die?"

Nog interrupts to ask if he and Jake can leave now. Weyoun tells him, "Of course." As they're headed for the door, the Vorta stops them. "Aren't you forgetting something?"

"Two days ago, this station felt like a tomb," Sisko tells his log sometime later. "I'd never seen so many of my crew depressed at the same time. But for some reason, it now seems as though a new spirit has swept through the station, as if someone had opened a door and let a gust of fresh air blow through a musty old house. Why this is happening frankly is a mystery to me. After all, nothing has really changed. The Dominion is still a threat, the Cardassians are still threatening to retake the station, and I can still see the clouds of war gathering on the horizon. So why do I sense a new-found sense of optimism in the air? But maybe I'm overthinking this. Maybe the real explanation is as simple as something my father taught me a long time ago: Even in the darkest moments, you can always find something that'll make you smile."

O'Brien leaves the holosuite in his kayaking gear, refreshed and happy; Bashir puts Kukalaka back on his shelf where he belongs; Leeta ransacks her quarters looking for something; Kira's speech is a big success; Worf rapturously "conducts" one of his operas; and Weyoun tries out Giger's cellular entertainment chamber. And Sisko stares in stunned joy at the baseball card he now holds in his hands, before he turns to his son and hugs him tightly.

  • Kukalaka was "played" by a teddy bear that first assistant director B.C. Cameron had had from childhood.
  • The "cellular regeneration and entertainment chamber" was actually a rented personal sauna.