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Move Along Home

Production no.: 410
Teleplay by: Frederick Rappaport and Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci
Story by: Michael Piller
Directed by: David Carson
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: March 13, 1993
Joel Brooks .......
James Lashly ....
Clara Bryant .....

As Jake watches his father put on his dress uniform, a remark about the uniform leads to one about Bajoran fashions, which leads to another about Bajoran girls. Sisko, who hadn't even been aware until now that his son's interests have moved on from model starships to girls, isn't pleased to hear that Jake has been getting his information from Nog, and promises to have a "damage control" talk with him in the morning. Right now, though, he has to greet a delegation of a newly-discovered species from the Gamma Quadrant, the Wadi. "First contact is our most important mission, Jake. It has to be handled delicately. You might say it's sort of like a first date..." He is interrupted by Kira's voice saying the Wadi have arrived.

At the airlock, Kira, Dax and Bashir (who couldn't find his dress uniform) are joined by Sisko, and the airlock opens. It's a momentous occasion, the first formal contact with a Gamma Quadrant race. Falow, Master Surchid of the Wadi, steps through with his aides, and Sisko goes into the Federation welcoming spiel -- only to be interrupted. "Yes, yes, now where are the games?" The Wadi have heard of Quark's, and want to be taken there. As Kira leads them off, Sisko comments wryly to Dax, "First contact is not what it used to be."

The Wadi observe a Dabo game while Sisko speaks to Quark, who assures him that as a host, he is an ambassador of goodwill. To put Sisko's concerns to rest, Quark goes over to Falow, who is not interested in Quark's suggestions of investment opportunities. The Ferengi asks what the Wadi will wager at Dabo. Falow has his aides show Quark some klon peags, which are highly sought in their culture. They look like sticks to Quark. The Wadi bring out a bottle of something called alpha-currant nectar, which Quark sips and nearly chokes on. "Then," says Falow, "we really have nothing to wager, except this." And he pours out a pouch of gems. We have a winner.

Much, much later, the Wadi are still gaming enthusiastically. Sisko has had it, and heads off, telling Quark to let him know if they ever get tired of playing Dabo. Quark, glum because the Wadi have been winning, asks them if they're ready to call it a night, but Falow says they're just getting started. The Dabo girl is worn out; Falow tells Quark to replace her. Quark puts in one of his Ferengi employees, Broik, who at a signal surreptitiously manipulates something under the table. Immediately, the Wadi begin losing.

Sisko has a brief conversation with Jake, who is still up, then goes to bed. Meanwhile, Falow catches Broik cheating. Quark tries to act as if it were entirely Broik's idea, and when that doesn't work, nervously starts offering the Wadi all sorts of inducements to placate them. But Falow is not stupid. The Wadi has something else in mind, and tells Quark that if he likes the gemstones, he will have the opportunity to win more, in an honest game. Falow opens a case, and in a flash the Dabo table is replaced by a strange alien game board with twelve levels. Quark watches in confusion as Falow begins setting up the game. The game, he says, is called Chula, and they will start on the second "shap".

At the very moment that Falow starts putting four figurines on the board, Sisko, who was in bed asleep, suddenly wakes up on a hard floor, fully dressed, in his uniform. He gets up and looks around to find himself in a corridor in what looks like an alien labyrinth. Sisko tries calling Ops, then Security, then telling the computer to freeze program, end program, exit. Nothing works. So he begins trying to open doors. The fourth one suddenly slides upward to reveal Falow, who says, "Shap two. Move along. Move along home!" The door closes.

Down the corridor, Sisko hears a voice yelling. He takes off towards it, to find Bashir, pressed against a wall, screaming in panic. Seeing Sisko, the doctor says, "Thank God, I thought I was having a nightmare." He was trying to wake himself up, he explains as they are joined by Kira and Dax. Sisko tells them they're guests of the Wadi. Perhaps it's a behavioral test of some sort, Bashir offers. "This is not what I signed up for!" Kira exclaims angrily. Determining that their combadges are still working, the four of them decide to split up and look for a way out. Sisko tells Bashir, "And if all else fails, just yell again, Doctor...we'll find you."

The next morning, Jake comes into Odo's office to ask if he knows where his dad has gone. He can't find him, and the computer says he's not on the station. Odo tries to be reassuring, sends Jake off, and has the computer confirm that Sisko isn't on board. The computer doesn't know when he logged out or what ship he left on. Odo goes to Ops, where Lt. Primmin says none of the senior officers reported in this morning. Primmin doesn't see any cause for alarm; he thinks it's due to partying all night with the Wadi. Odo asks Primmin tartly if he's lost many commanders, because he's lost one now. He has him begin a security sweep while Odo will contact ships that departed last night.

Falow asks Quark how much he will risk on the second shap, and Quark, who can't make head nor tail of this weird game, asks weakly if there's a minimum bet. The Wadi groan, and Falow tells him to roll the dice. Quark protests that he doesn't even know the rules; Falow says he is required to learn as he plays. With no other choice, Quark rolls, and Falow announces that the result is "Chula", meaning Quark's pieces will meet the Chandra. Asked if this is good or bad, Falow says it is neither and both. He adds enigmatically, "Some will never understand. Others will consider it mere child's play."

In the labyrinth, Sisko hears the sound of a little girl singing, repeating a rhyme over and over: "Allamaraine, count to four/Allamaraine, then three more/Allamaraine, if you can see/Allamaraine, you'll come with me." Calling the others, Sisko follows the voice and opens the door. They all see the girl playing some sort of alien hopscotch and ignoring them as she continues to sing her rhyme. Kira tries to walk past her, and bounces off a forcefield, which the girl goes back and forth across as if it doesn't exist. Bashir gets the idea to follow the girl's footsteps, and tries it, but he too encounters the forcefield. Dax is the one who figures out that they have to not only follow the steps but say the rhyme as well. She tries it, and it works, so the others do it too, moving past the forcefield and the next door, into another corridor. "Third shap," the girl tells them.

"Allamaraine!" Falow calls. Quark is still befuddled, but when Falow pushes a pile of gems toward him, he thinks he's getting the hang of it. Falow tells him to choose the path his pieces will take. The shorter path doubles the peril to the players, but also doubles the winnings; however, Falow cautions him that if none of the players makes it home, Quark loses everything he's won. "I see why you find this game so interesting," Quark says, thinking about a licensing arrangement.

Just then, Odo enters and asks Quark when was the last time he saw Sisko. Four officers, Sisko and three others, have disappeared. Quark's eyes go wide. "Four? Did you say...four officers are missing?" He and Odo both look at the pieces in horrified comprehension. Quark, shaken, tells Falow he'll take the safer path.

In the maze, Dax realizes that this is a game. They've been told to "move along home", which is a common destination in a game; they've been given directions, clues, and obstacles. The four of them then enter a room where a large group of Wadi, including Falow, appear to be having a cocktail party. The room is smoky, and everyone is laughing except our people. Kira, frustrated, smashes a platter and demands to know what is going on, but the only response is more laughter. Someone brings a tray of drinks around; Bashir thinks it might be the Wadi's way of providing nourishment, but Sisko cautions that it may be drugged or poisoned. The smoke gets abruptly thicker, and Sisko and the others begin choking, unable to breathe; however, the Wadi go on laughing, totally unaffected. Suddenly Bashir grabs a drink, quaffs it down, and immediately stops coughing; the drink is an antidote. The others drink as well...and the door opens. "Shap four," Falow tells Sisko.

At the game board, Quark happily rakes in more gemstones, and Odo leaves. He goes to Ops and has Primmin scan the Wadi ship. They can't pick up any human lifesigns, but they've also never run into Wadi technology. Odo sees an energy flux on the second deck, which Primmin says is some kind of bipolar current. The only thing similar Starfleet has is a transporter, but that only lasts a few seconds. Odo decides to go take a look; Primmin protests that Odo can't just go storming onto their ship without permission. "Oh, oh, is that Starfleet policy?" Odo asks, mock-innocent. "That's right," says Primmin; "Well, I'm not in Starfleet," Odo retorts, asking if it's against Starfleet policy to push a few buttons. Primmin beams him over, and Odo materializes in a corridor on the Wadi ship. He finds the room where the flux reading is coming from, bursts in, and is transported back to the middle of Quark's.

Odo tells the Wadi this game is finished, but Quark says the players are doing fine. Falow tells him to choose their path; Quark takes the safer one, and rolls -- badly. In the labyrinth, the four officers are walking down a corridor when an energy field approaches. They run from it, but encounter a dead end. As Falow selects a piece and tips it over, Bashir vanishes.

Odo demands that Falow put the piece back, but Falow only says that Odo can play after Quark is done if he wants to. Then Quark announces that he'll take the shortcut. He is sure that this is the right move, he tells a very dubious Odo. The shortcut skips a whole level; this way, the players can advance all the way home on just one roll of the dice. Reluctantly, Odo agrees; Quark gets him to blow on the dice, then rolls. "Thialo," Falow says. "Sacrifice one so that two may live."

Quark freezes. He can't choose someone to die. Sobbing, he throws himself down and begs, making a totally pathetic spectacle of himself. "I've learned my lesson," he blubbers. "I'll never cheat again...Please! Pleeease!!" At last, Falow sighs and says, "Very well." He programs the game to choose one at random instead.

In the labyrinth, Kira, Dax, and Sisko are going down yet another corridor when they hear Bashir's voice, yelling, saying he's found the way home. They find an open door into a cavern, from which Bashir seems to be calling to them. As they start to go to him, there is a quake, and Dax is knocked down, her leg injured. The silhouette they can see, whom they thought was Bashir, turns into Falow, who shouts, "Thialo! Move along home! Shap six!" and disappears.

Sisko and Kira support Dax, and they continue moving slowly, reaching a deep crevice that looks as if it could be jumped with a running start. Obviously, Dax will never be able to make that. She tells the others to go on without her; the cavern will collapse and kill all of them if they don't get out now. "Don't let sentiment get in the way of -- " "Command decisions," Sisko finishes with Dax. Dax continues to argue, saying if he were hurt, she'd leave him behind. "Then I'm glad I'm not the one who's hurt," Sisko shoots back, helping her up. He tells Kira to go on, but instead, she takes Dax's other side. She's not in Starfleet, so Sisko can't court-martial her.

They begin to edge along a narrow ledge while the cavern continues to shake violently. Kira loses her footing, hanging over the cliff with Sisko holding her. Rocks begin tumbling down, and suddenly all three of them fall...and find themselves back in the bar, with Bashir beside them. "They made it! I won!" Quark crows, raking in the gems, but Falow takes them back. "No," he says. "I'm afraid all your players were lost."

"You mean, we were never in any real danger?" Kira demands. Falow laughs. "It's only a game," he says.

The Wadi pack up the board and make ready to depart. Sisko is furious. He starts to tell Falow off, but Odo interrupts, saying that Sisko might want to ask Quark how this all started. Quark tries to claim that the Wadi just had a run of bad luck and blamed him for their losses, but Odo reminds him that he had said something earlier about cheating.

"Perhaps someday, a rematch," Falow says generously, and heads out. Quark begins thinking aloud about installing the game here, and rushes out after him. The four "pieces" just stand there not knowing whether to be relieved or very, very annoyed.

  • The original title of this episode was "Sore Losers".
  • The word "allamaraine", chanted by the characters in this episode, was often used by the producers and crew during the rest of the 1st season, whenever something went wrong or seemed unbelievable.
  • This episode was the first televised work of the writing team of Lisa Rich and Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci, who co-wrote the teleplay with Frederick Rappaport.
  • The name "Chula" is a shortened version of "Chutes and Ladders" (the name of a popular children's board game).