Production no: 426
Teleplay by: Evan Carlos Somers and Steven Baum and Michael Piller & James Crocker
Story by: Evan Carlos Somers
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe
First satellite airdate: October 30, 1993
Daphne Ashbrook ....
Peter Crombie .........
Don Stark ................
Ron Taylor ..............
Bashir tells his medical log that he has been working overtime to prepare for the arrival of a new stellar cartographer -- Ensign Melora Pazlar, who is Elaysian, and the first of her people to join Starfleet. Bashir has created a wheelchair for her, from specifications which she sent, since the station's Cardassian construction isn't compatible with her normal antigrav unit. O'Brien has been working to make at least some of the station compatible with the wheelchair, adding ramps in many areas. Ensign Pazlar comes from a planet with low surface gravity, and has limited mobility in "normal" gravity.
As they head for the airlock to meet the new crewmember, Dax wonders why they can't use the transporter to help her get around, but the ensign has indicated that that is not acceptable. Bashir, who feels as if he knows her already, says that she was that way in the Academy as well. "Once her basic needs are met, she refuses any special assistance. She's extraordinary." Ensign Pazlar's quarters have also been modified to allow her to turn off the gravity there.
They meet Melora at the airlock, wearing a robotic body brace and leaning on a wooden cane, moving with effort. She is brusquely polite as she returns Dax and Bashir's greetings and accepts the wheelchair, which she is not pleased to find has been modified from her design. There is an upcoming Gamma Quadrant runabout mission which she wants to undertake alone, but Sisko has assigned Dax to accompany her. "I'm sure he thought what every officer I've ever served with has thought, that I need extra help to get the job done. Please tell him I don't." Dax says Sisko wouldn't let any ensign take a runabout into the Gamma Quadrant alone the day after she arrives. When they reach her quarters, Melora says it's been a pleasure meeting them, and rolls in without another word, the door closing behind her.
In the bar, Quark is showing a ring to an alien named Ashrock. The ring is one of forty-two that Quark has in his possession; just over half of the eighty created by an artist named Paltriss, who was from Ashrock's homeworld. Ashrock says he wants to return the rings to Paltriss' birthplace, but Quark wants 199 bars of gold-pressed latinum for them. Just then, another alien enters, and Quark becomes extremely nervous when he recognizes him: Fallit Kot, whom he hasn't seen for eight years. Ominously, Kot tells the Ferengi, "I've come to kill you, Quark."
Sisko, Dax, and Bashir are discussing Melora's request to pilot the runabout alone when Melora arrives. She puts them on the defensive, wondering wouldn't it have been more appropriate to have included her in the conversation, but Sisko says that he was simply getting a briefing from his officers. "I'm sorry if I seem overly sensitive," says Melora. "But I'm used to being shut out of the Melora problem. The truth is there is no Melora problem, until people create one." She continues to be politely aggressive as she argues her case, and says she objects to being treated as if she's ill. Sisko says he doesn't see anyone doing that. "Try sitting in the chair, Commander," Melora replies. "No one can understand until they sit in the chair." She prefers working alone; it's easier for her. But Sisko is firm, and Melora knows better than to argue further. She acknowledges and leaves, slowly.
Bashir pays her a visit in her quarters later. Seeing a photo on her desk of her midair with a young man, he asks if the man is her husband or boyfriend; Melora ignores the question and says she apologizes, and that her speech was not meant to attack him personally. "I'm sure you never set out to attack anyone personally," says Bashir. "But you do seem to attack a lot." She observes that he must have decided she needs a friend, and he asks if that was another attack. It must be her way of keeping the rest of the universe on the defensive. Bashir says he was thinking of asking her out to dinner. Melora instinctively lashes out: "Then afterwards we'll go dancing, I suppose." "Ooh, red alert," says Bashir. Disarmed, Melora finally agrees to go to the Klingon restaurant with him.
Quark makes an attempt to mollify -- er, satisfy -- Kot with a fancy dinner and a couple of Dabo girls. Kot silently pours the soup onto the floor, but eats the jumbo Vulcan mollusks. Quark proposes a toast "to old friends", and Kot finally speaks. "Old debts," he corrects, looking Quark straight in the eye.
At the Klingon restaurant, Melora surprises both Bashir and the chef when she complains in Klingon about the racht (worms) -- not because they're worms but because they're half-dead. The chef laughs and replaces them. As they eat, Bashir tells Melora about when he was ten and his father was a Federation diplomat on Invernia II. They were caught in an ionic storm along with an ill native girl, who died because they didn't know that a nearby herb could have saved her. Bashir also speaks about his aborted tennis career, and Melora admits she's had a good time with him.
The next morning, Dax appears at Melora's quarters, but she's not there. Dax finally finds her in an unmodified corridor near a storage bay, where she has fallen and was unable to get up. As Dax helps her back into her chair, Melora explains that she had come down here to get an extra astrometric array, had to leave her chair, and tripped on the lip of the door. Dax takes her to the infirmary, where Bashir checks her out, and asks why she didn't wait for Dax. Melora feels humiliated, and angry at herself for not paying attention to her environment. Bashir tells her that no one here is completely independent, and Melora says she just wants them to know they can depend on her. Bashir says she's proven that, but what does everybody else have to do to convince her that she can depend on them?
He takes her back to her quarters, mentioning some work done by Nathaniel Teros 30 years ago on neuromuscular adaptation for low-gravity species. It had no practical success back then, but there has been a lot of progress since then in neurochemistry. Theoretically Melora could one day have no more need for her chair. At her quarters, she invites him in, and turns off the gravity. Bashir is delighted to watch her soar into the air, flying with grace and ease. Then he tries it, and after an awkward start, finds himself flying too, with her steadying him. He admits that he was curious about this, and Melora says most people are. "Sometimes they make me feel like a carnival attraction. So, usually, I prefer to keep everyone out." "Thank you, for letting me in," Bashir replies. Melora tells him that the man in the picture is her brother, and Bashir kisses her. They continue to kiss, floating gently in the air.
The next day, Melora finally makes it out into the Gamma Quadrant with Dax, and asks the Trill if she thinks there's room for romance in Starfleet. Dax thinks so, and asks slyly if Bashir's "bedside manner" has won her over. Melora can't help but be a little concerned because of the differences in their species. Dax tells her about a hydrogen-breathing Lothra she knew who had a 57-year romance with an oxygene despite being able to spend only forty minutes a day together without breathing assistance. But there are career conflicts to consider as well. Melora is only on temporary assignment to DS9, and a subspace romance is so lacking in intimacy. "Look at the alternative," says Dax.
Quark comes into Odo's office to tell him about Fallit Kot. Odo already knows that Kot just finished eight years in a labor camp for hijacking a shipment of Romulan ale. He also knows that Quark's name appears next to Kot's in the original indictment. Quark claims he was only the middleman, and Odo guesses accurately that the only reason Quark avoided serving time himself was that he sold out his partner. Quark tells him that Kot has threatened to kill him, and Odo smiles at the thought, before assuring Quark that he'll do his job. "Unfortunately," he adds to himself after Quark leaves.
Melora enters the infirmary, where Bashir has something to show her. He has been working on modifying Teros' theories to turn them into a reality. And it looks as if it can actually work this time.
Odo has a deputy bring Kot in to have a word with him, and tells Kot point blank that while he doesn't like Quark either, he can't let him kill the Ferengi. Kot pretends innocence. "Let bygones be bygones, I always say," he claims. Odo notes that Kot walks like a man with a lot of weight on his shoulders; Kot says it must be the memory of the Romulan bricks he carried for eight years -- but Odo can't lock him up for the way he walks. He leaves, and as Odo comes out of his office to watch him go, Quark comes up. Odo tells him he has no legal reason to hold Kot, although he will watch him, and gives Quark a combadge to call him at the first sign of trouble. "What if the first sign is the last sign?" asks Quark. Since Ferengi sell pieces of themselves after they die, Odo says he'll buy one.
Bashir gives Melora her first treatment, and slowly she is finally able to raise her leg. She should be walking within the hour, he tells her. Later, she walks into Ops to give Sisko the mission summary, using only her cane for light support. When the treatment begins to wear off, she sags against Bashir, who supports her to her quarters again. There, however, he warns her against turning off the gravity, as it would confuse her motor cortex. She starts to thank him, but he silences her. "You let me fly for the first time, I let you walk. We're even." But as Bashir leaves, Melora realizes how much she misses flying.
Quark enters his quarters to find the lights are out. Realizing that he's in danger, he tries to use the combadge, but Kot covers his mouth and throws the badge away, transferring his grip to Quark's throat. Attempting to negotiate for his life, Quark offers 199 bars of gold-pressed latinum. Kot's interest is piqued. "It's a start," he says.
As Bashir completes another treatment on her, Melora asks when the process becomes irreversible. He senses she's having second thoughts, and she admits that last night she didn't feel like herself. Bashir tells her she can't go back and forth; it might affect her ability to perform complex tasks. But the effect is reversible for a few more days; after that her motor cortex impulses will kick in permanently.
Melora struggles with her decision while in the runabout again with Dax. The adaptation would mean real independence for her, but it would also mean she can't return home for more than short visits. Her dilemma reminds Dax of the story of the Little Mermaid, who trades her life under the sea for a pair of legs to walk on land. Melora asks if she lived happily ever after, and Dax's silence is the answer.
Ashrock returns to DS9 with the money to purchase the rings, and is met at the airlock by Quark and Kot, who takes the latinum. The transaction is completed, but Kot then aims a phaser at Ashrock, who thinks he's been set up, and starts to pull his own phaser. Kot shoots him, setting off alarms, and causing Odo to send security to the area. Kot fights off the deputies and drags Quark to another airlock, which happens to be the one through which Dax and Melora are boarding the station after their mission. (Melora is on full robotic support again.)
Kot forces them back onto the runabout along with Quark, and makes Dax start the ship again. Bashir arrives in Ops as Sisko orders the tractor beam engaged. Kot tells him to release the ship or he'll kill a hostage. Sisko says he's willing to negotiate, if Kot releases them, and Kot arbitrarily shoots Melora, whose controls overload as she collapses onto the floor. The transmission ends. Sisko has Kira beam him, Bashir, and O'Brien to the Rio Grande, then disengage the tractor beam.
The hijacked runabout goes through the wormhole, followed by the other one. Melora begins to move as Kot orders Dax to go to warp; Dax argues that they can't do that without setting a course. Kot says fine, set a course. Behind him, Melora is dragging herself along the floor. Kot orders Dax to shoot the other runabout, but Dax refuses, despite Kot's threats. Suddenly seeing Melora's movement, Dax keeps Kot distracted while Melora reaches a panel and removes it. Finally she switches off the gravity, and Dax disengages the warp drive. Melora brings Kot down with a flying tackle, and the crisis is over. Bashir and Sisko beam over to find Quark holding the phaser on Kot.
Back once more on DS9, in the Klingon restaurant, Melora wonders why the phaser didn't kill her, and Bashir surmises that it may have been the neurostimulants, possibly a side effect of the treatment that may be worth exploring. But Melora tells him she has decided against further treatments.
Bashir, a bit disappointed, says she can always try it again someday. Melora doesn't think she will. "I might be more independent, but I wouldn't be Elaysian anymore. I'm not sure what I'd be. Besides, maybe independence isn't all it's cracked up to be. I kind of like how it feels to be dependent on someone for a change. And I'm glad you got me to unlock the doors to my quarters so I could finally let someone into my life." Bashir smiles. "So am I." They sit there listening as the chef launches into a Klingon love song.
The character of Melora Pazlar is modified from a concept of what was originally intended to be a regular character. Evan Carlos Somers, who wrote the story and co-wrote the teleplay of this episode, is a paraplegic.