Production no.: 454
Teleplay by: Mark Gehred-O'Connell
Story by: Hilary Bader and Evan Carlos Somers
Directed by: Jonathan Frakes
First satellite airdate: November 12, 1994
Brett Cullen ...........
Christine Healy ......
Jeffrey Combs .......
Mark Humphrey ....
Odo joins Kira on a replimat break. The constable is a little puzzled as to why she ordered her coffee too hot to drink right away. She says it gives one time to savor the taste. "Ah, taste," says Odo. Although he himself doesn't need to eat, he admits that he did try it once. Without taste buds, he found it very unsatisfying -- "not to mention messy." He'd rather not talk about it.
A well-dressed alien comes up to their table. He is Tiron, a wealthy business associate of Quark's, and Kira is not thrilled to see him. She had met him in the bar last night, and was subjected to a long conversation, mostly about him. Kira knows he's interested in her, but she sees her chance to escape sitting right beside her. She grabs Odo's hand. "This is Odo -- my lover." Odo freezes in surprise, but manages to play along. Disappointed, Tiron exchanges a few pleasantries, and comments that he hopes Odo is well compensated for his job (obviously money means a lot to this man). "Oh, money doesn't matter," Kira smiles sweetly. "All we need is each other. Isn't that right, sweetheart?" "Yes...sweetheart," Odo says uncertainly. Tiron finally leaves. Kira thanks Odo heartily, and gets up to go back to Ops. "See you later, sweetheart," she jokes. A rather dazed Odo looks down at the hand she was holding.
The other senior officers are on a mission in the Gamma Quadrant, aboard the Defiant, Sisko having convinced Starfleet that they must continue exploring there despite the threat of the Dominion. Fortunately, there is no sign of Dominion activity in the sector where they are. Dax picks up unusual gravimetric distortions in the Trialus system, and they decide to take a closer look. The distortions don't seem to be coming from the star, but there aren't any planets -- until one shimmers into existence before their eyes.
They are speculating about what just happened when Dax detects that they're being scanned. There is a settlement consisting of about 30 humanoid inhabitants, who seem to be the only people on the planet. Then the planet hails them, and a woman, Seltin Rakal, appears onscreen. She seems friendly, and Sisko tells her they were studying this star system when the planet appeared. Seltin explains that the planet has just come from a dimension that intersects with this one. She invites them down for "First Meal", offering to explain in greater detail. Sisko accepts, after being assured the planet won't disappear in the middle of dessert.
The officers join the natives of the planet, called Meridian, for a feast. A man named Deral admires Dax's spots. "If you don't mind my asking, how far down do they go?" "All the way," she flirts back. Seltin and Deral explain the dual existence of the planet to Sisko. Deral has been studying the phenomenon, with limited success, he admits. His theory is that the dimensional shifts are caused by fluctuations in Meridian's quantum matrix, triggered somehow by the sun. In the other dimension, the inhabitants exist without form, as pure consciousness, and the planet is noncorporeal as well. When they return to this dimension, everything is just as they left it, including their bodies. They only age while in corporeal form, though Deral says they always look forward to this existence. But the time period between shifts to this dimension is sixty years.
Back at DS9, Tiron has just tried a holosuite program and complains to Quark that it was boring. Quark offers to let him try a different program for no extra charge. But Tiron wants one that doesn't exist yet. He wants a custom program -- one featuring Major Kira. "Kira?" asks Quark in surprise. "What are you going to do with Kira in a holosuite? No, don't tell me. I don't want to know." It won't be easy; he'll have to get her into a holosuite to record her image, and the problem is, Kira hates holosuites. But it's a deal. Quark will get payment on delivery. "The things I do for money," Quark mutters after Tiron leaves.
Deral explains to Dax that the inhabitants of Meridian are the descendants of an expedition that was stranded here millennia ago. Over the last few centuries, their numbers have dwindled, because they can only reproduce while in corporeal form, and the time spent in this dimension is shortening. Meridian will shift back in twelve days. Eventually the time will shorten further, until finally the planet will become too unstable to shift back, and it and its inhabitants will cease to exist in either dimension. Seltin tells Sisko later that his offer of help in stabilizing the dimensional shifts is appreciated, and Dax and Deral go up to the Defiant to run a series of scans on Meridian's sun.
Kira comes to Quark's after getting a message that Morn wanted to see her. Right on cue, a Ferengi waiter "alerts" Quark to something, and Quark announces to the bar at large that Kira is his one millionth customer. Amid the applause, Kira tells Quark she doesn't have time for this. But then Quark tells her about the prizes she's won. He hands a bemused Kira a bottle of champagne, some free-spin Dabo tokens, and a free hour in a holosuite. "That's perfect!" Kira enthuses. "It's Ensign Quintana's birthday. He'd love a free visit to the holosuite." Quark sighs -- this is not going to be easy.
The Defiant's scans show that Meridian's sun was giving off modulated gamma bursts just before the planet appeared. Its inhabitants have no record of that, since they were noncorporeal when it occurred. This anomaly seems to be the last piece in Deral's puzzle, but Sisko orders a probe sent into the sun's corona to be sure. The probe is launched, but it will be a while before it sends back its telemetry, so Dax and Deral decide to spend some time together. They stroll through a lush garden, where Deral mentions that since his wife died, everyone has been wondering when he would find another companion. Dax asks why he hasn't. "I guess I was waiting for the right woman to fall out of the sky," he says. He coaxes her into climbing a tree with him, despite her fear of heights, and they look out at the view together for a bit. They walk some more, and eat some berries. Finally, the mutual attraction builds into a kiss.
A few days later, they are working together on the puzzle of what causes the gamma fluctuations when Sisko calls to tell Dax they've gotten the probe deeper into the sun's corona. O'Brien sends her the additional telemetry. After signing off, Dax flirts some more with Deral, about counting each other's spots, but then notices something on her PADD. She and Deral both realize that the dimensional shifts are triggered by an imbalance in the sun's fusion reactants. If they can stabilize the reaction, they can keep the planet here longer.
Quark resorts to surreptitiously trying to get a picture of Kira on his holo-camera while she talks to Odo on the Promenade, but Odo happens to be standing in front of her. Then Odo catches sight of Quark, and asks Kira why Quark is trying to take a holo-picture of her. They head over, and Quark tries to hide the camera behind his back and feign innocence. He was just recording an image of the Promenade to send home to his mother. Kira isn't fooled. Finally, under threats of continued harumphs from Odo, Quark admits that he was trying to trying to get an image of her for a special holosuite program. And no, it's not what they're thinking. He's working on a simulation of Ops. "People want to know what goes on up there, and they want to imagine themselves fending off a Cardassian attack, or facing a fleet of Jem'Hadar ships." "Naked, I assume," Odo says drily. Quark makes one more plea for Kira to give people the chance to work with her. "They want to work with me, then let them apply to the Bajoran Military Academy," Kira says. "That way, I can be sure everyone in Ops is wearing their uniform." She warns Quark that if she ever sees him pointing a holo-imager at her again, he will end up eating it.
Dax comes to Deral with good news. They can equalize the time between dimensional shifts. Deral happily talks about building a house -- for two. He knows she has a life on DS9, but she can visit. But Dax is subdued. It will take a long time to stabilize the sun's reaction -- sixty years, in fact. There seems to be nothing they can do to be together, until Deral says he can leave Meridian and go back with her to the Alpha Quadrant.
Seltin is full of gratitude for everything Dax and the others have done. Deral tells her there's something he wants to discuss with her. He tries, but Seltin is too busy talking about plans for the future. Deral awkwardly follows her into a meeting with the others. Up in the Defiant, a bit later, Dax has told her fellow officers; Bashir comments that Quark will be heartbroken and probably won't let her win at Tongo anymore. Deral comes in, having finally managed to tell Seltin and the others that he's leaving. They asked him not to go, but his mind was made up. However, he seems subtly doubtful about that. Finally, he says he has some things to do, and leaves.
Quark meets with Tiron, who is getting impatient for his program. "Not to worry," says Quark, who has an isolinear rod with a high-level decryption protocol, which he will use to get the final information he needs for the program. He will put it on Tiron's bill, and assures him it'll be worth the wait. "I'll stake my reputation on it." "You already have," says Tiron, and leaves. Quark starts to work.
A little later, Kira enters Odo's office. He's called her there because someone has been illegally accessing her personnel file, downloading her voiceprint, retinal scan, even her psychiatric profile. But Odo has traced the data path back to its source. "Let me guess -- Quark," says Kira, feeling violated. "...With all this information, he'll have no problem generating a holo-image of me." Odo asks, "So, shall I arrest him, or would you prefer to do it yourself?" Kira thinks a moment. "No. I have a better idea. Can you spare a few hours? I'd like to prepare a little surprise for Quark."
Dax speaks to Deral, who has a lot on his mind. She guesses, finally, that he doesn't want to leave Meridian. He does want to be with her, but he's worried about his people. "There are so few of us, Jadzia. And now that Meridian has a future again, they need me." "Then you have to stay," Dax says. And she offers to stay with him. Deral protests that her molecular structure wouldn't survive the dimensional shift, but Dax says they can use the transporter buffer to match her quantum matrix to his. She's already discussed this with Bashir. Deral asks if she's sure she wants to, and she is. It's the only way they can be together.
Dax is finishing her request to Starfleet for a 60-year leave of absence when Sisko enters her quarters. He says he'll see that it gets to them. "If you're sure that this is what you really want." "What I really want is for you to say that you're happy for me," Dax says. Gently, Sisko says he needs to know that she's thought this through. "I am happy for you. It's just, I'm going to miss you, old man." Dax smiles at him tenderly. "You've been my friend for two lifetimes. I can't imagine what it's going to be like not having you around. And leaving Deep Space Nine is the hardest thing I've ever done, but I know it's right. Besides, after eight lifetimes as a humanoid, existing as pure consciousness might be interesting." "Next time we see each other," Sisko comments, "I'll probably be a great grandfather." "Good," she smiles. "Then I can call you 'old man'." They hug.
Tiron's program is finally ready, and Quark brings him to the holosuite. Tiron won't pay, however, until he sees the merchandise. But he might purchase the program to use at home; he has his own holosuite. Tiron goes in, and sees gossamer curtains surrounding a bed on which Kira's form is reclining seductively. Then the head raises up -- and it's Quark's head. "I've been waiting for you," it purrs. Horrified and disgusted, Tiron barrels back down to the bar in a fury. "I will ruin you for this, Quark!" "You mean you didn't like the program?" Quark asks, perplexed. Tiron vows again to ruin him, and storms out, passing Odo and Kira. "Another satisfied customer, Quark?" Kira asks innocently.
Dax has spent six hours in the transporter, preparing for the dimensional shift, and now she says her goodbyes to Sisko, Bashir and O'Brien, who are sad to see her go. The shift will be occurring soon. "Tell Quark I'll be back to collect the three strips of gold latinum he owes me, with sixty years interest," Dax tells them, and is beamed down. Deral greets her, and Seltin welcomes her as well. It's nearly time, and Dax and Deral move into each other's arms.
The shift begins. But something is wrong. The planet starts to quake, unable to shift fully. Dax watches everything around her shimmer and fade, but she herself remains solid. She reaches for Deral's hand; hers passes through it, and he vanishes. She drifts helplessly in a void. On the Defiant, O'Brien realizes that Dax's presence is destabilizing the planet's matrix. When she doesn't answer her combadge, they hurriedly beam her up. Finally, the planet is able to complete its shift.
Sisko visits Dax in her quarters, to tell her that the planet shifted normally. "Jadzia, I'm sorry." "Benjamin, don't," she says. "There's nothing you can do. I just need some time." He nods understandingly, and exits. "Just sixty years or so," she adds sadly to herself.
This episode was inspired by the musical Brigadoon. Body double Leah Burrough was used for the holosuite scene in which Kira's body turns out to be topped by Quark's head, as Nana Visitor was unable to bring herself to wear the foam rubber head required. Some location scenes were filmed at Huntington Gardens. The set for the Meridian dining hall was a reuse of one from TNG's "Masks" (also used in DS9's "Blood Oath" and "The House of Quark"); the backdrop was one that had been created for the film Mary Poppins.