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One Little Ship

Production no.: 537
Written by: David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by: Allan Kroeker
Stardate: 51474.2 
First satellite airdate: February 14, 1998
Aron Eisenberg ................
Scott Thompson Baker .....
Fritz Sperberg ..................
Leland Crooke .................
Christian Zimmerman .......

The Defiant is investigating a rare subspace compression phenomenon, recently discovered in Federation space, and three officers -- O'Brien, Bashir, and Dax -- are taking a runabout (the Rubicon) into the vortex of the anomaly. Tethered to the Defiant by a tractor beam, the runabout and its occupants will begin shrinking when it reaches the edge of the accretion disk. The thought of three people being shrunk to the size of coffee cups (or smaller) is infinitely amusing to Kira, though Worf doesn't see what's so funny about being small, and Nog certainly doesn't either. This is serious research that may lead to being able to create transwarp corridors, which would give Starfleet a tactical advantage over the Dominion.

"Tell Worf I look forward to hearing his poem," Dax says from the runabout, whose signal is distorted with static until it disappears altogether. Worf, embarrassed, explains the ancient Klingon tradition of composing a poem to commemorate an important event. Fortunately for Worf, Nog announces that the Rubicon has penetrated the accretion disk; the runabout is shrinking, and even the space within their subatomic structure is getting smaller.

Inside the runabout, flying on sensors alone, O'Brien is not so sure he likes the idea of being half the size of a combadge, even though Dax assures him they will return to normal size when they leave the anomaly. Suddenly the Rubicon is jolted, and the tractor beam begins fluctuating.

The Defiant is currently under attack from a Jem'Hadar ship that took them by surprise. Phasers are offline; they're a sitting duck, until they finally lose the tractor beam tethering them to the Rubicon, which tumbles toward the center of the vortex, shrinking as it goes, with O'Brien working to restore warp power. The Defiant also soon is without shields or engines. Then they're boarded. "Surrender or you will all be killed," a Jem'Hadar, Second Ixtana'Rax, orders.

The runabout crew struggle to their seats to assess their situation. They're out of the anomaly, but the external sensors and com system are down, and Dax can't get the blast shutters to open. But O'Brien picks up the Defiant's transponder signal, which they can home in on.

The Defiant's bridge is full of Jem'Hadar, trying to repair the stations. Ixtana'Rax reports to First Kudak'Etan that the bridge officers are confined in the mess hall, the rest of the crew in the cargo bay. Impulse power will be back online in thirty minutes, but warp capability will take several hours to restore. "It must be gratifying for an Elder to end his career with a victory," Kudak'Etan notes sarcastically. "I feel privileged to be here with you at such a moment." It appears there's no love lost between the two.

Ixtana'Rax cautions that it's too soon to declare victory, but Kudak'Etan has the Third, Lamat'Ukan, call Gelnon, the Vorta on their attack ship, and says that the Defiant is theirs. Gelnon is pleased; he had been skeptical about the "Alpha" Jem'Hadar bred in this quadrant, but Kudak'Etan performed impressively. This is the root of Ixtana'Rax's dislike for his First: Ixtana'Rax was bred in the Gamma Quadrant, a member of the "old guard". However, he maintains his dignity. After all, he serves the Founders, and if they want to create a new race, that's "the order of things", though he says the Alphas haven't proven themselves yet. Gelnon cuts off the incipient argument; Kudak'Etan tells him he will give him a report on the ship's condition in an hour.

The First then tells Ixtana'Rax to bring him Captain Sisko. Ixtana'Rax says the execution can wait, but then learns to his surprise that Kudak'Etan does not plan to execute Sisko. He obeys, however. Kudak'Etan then orders the ship's transponder found and shut down.

In the mess hall, Sisko stops the others from analyzing their mistakes; that won't do them any good right now. He gets an idea. The Jem'Hadar might not have an easy time restoring warp power, so there may be a chance to retake the ship. Sisko looks for suggestions on how to get out of this room, but before anyone can answer, Ixtana'Rax arrives to take Sisko to the bridge.

The Rubicon loses the Defiant's transponder signal, but O'Brien gets the blast shutters working again. When the shutters open, they find themselves looking at a huge metal wall with a large black circle. "Chief, you're not going to like this," says Bashir. The "wall" is the port warp nacelle cover of the Defiant.

The Rubicon and its occupants are still in tiny mode, because they didn't leave the anomaly by the same path that they entered, so the process failed to reverse itself. "Are you telling me I'm going to be this bloody tall for the rest of my life?" O'Brien demands, indicating a space of one inch. "This bloody tall, actually," Bashir tells him helpfully, indicating an even smaller space. But he tries to reassure O'Brien that, in theory at least, they can regain their normal size by re-entering the anomaly and following their original trajectory back out. However, Dax points out that they can't do that without the Defiant's help. This brings them to the problem of how to get the Defiant's attention, since communications are out. O'Brien gets the idea of actually flying the Rubicon into the Defiant through the aft plasma vent.

Ixtana'Rax brings Sisko to the bridge, where Kudak'Etan informs him that he is to repair the warp drive. The Second argues that this will give Sisko an opportunity to retake the ship. He knows that Sisko must already be working on a plan. But Kudak'Etan says, "You are the Second. I am the First. Do not presume to tell me what to do." He gives Sisko the choice of repairing the warp drive or watching his crew be executed. Sisko says he will need the help of some of his crew, which Ixtana'Rax also objects to; Sisko suggests blandly that he could teach the Jem'Hadar to repair the warp drive themselves. Once he starts going into exactly what that would take, Kudak'Etan says he can have three bridge officers. He has Ixtana'Rax take the captain to engineering. Meanwhile, Dax is navigating the Rubicon through the Defiant's plasma ducts, with help from O'Brien, though the chief admits he's not used to seeing things from this perspective.

As Ixtana'Rax escorts Sisko to the engine room, he warns him that he will kill all Sisko's officers at the first sign of treachery. He also reveals that he was the First of this troop until two days ago, but was replaced by Kudak'Etan because the Founders believe that Alphas make better leaders, due to being specifically designed for combat in this quadrant. Sisko does his best to subtly cultivate Ixtana'Rax's resentment.

Kudak'Etan reports to Gelnon, who is pleased and says he will take the Dominion ship to the dilithium mines on Coridan. When Kudak'Etan orders his men to engage impulse engines, headed for the nearest Dominion outpost, O'Brien, on the Rubicon, notices the magnetic plasma guides heating up, which means the conduit is about to fill up with superheated plasma.

The Rubicon frantically races the glow of the guide coils coming to life, with O'Brien calling out directions to Dax. Finally they come to an inspection hatch, which Dax opens the old-fashioned way, knocking it open with the mass of the tiny ship. "Let's not do that again," suggests Bashir. They figure they're in the engine room, near the warp core, which they notice is offline.

Sisko, Kira, Worf, and Nog are working in various places in engineering, under the watchful eye of Ixtana'Rax and some other Jem'Hadar. Ixtana'Rax makes Kira instruct another Jem'Hadar in realigning the dilithium articulation frame. Meanwhile, the Rubicon comes face to face with the massive head of a Jem'Hadar, who fortunately doesn't notice them. The runabout ducks away and hides near the ceiling, until O'Brien finally gets the visual sensors and com system back online.

They watch Sisko and the others being forced to work on the warp drive, and realize that they are actually trying to regain control of the ship, under the Jem'Hadar's noses. The only problem is that the security codes of the bridge control lockouts are hard-wired into the encryption circuitry. Only Kira is actually working on the warp drive, and stalling as she does so. Worf is sending false signals through the computer system, while Nog is trying to release the bridge lockout codes so that the captain can run the ship from the operations console. However, Nog doesn't know the protocols like O'Brien does; it'll take him weeks. In order to help, the Rubicon has to get to the bridge and release the codes from there.

Getting antsy, Ixtana'Rax starts hassling Sisko about why Worf is working on the plasma display subsystem, which Sisko says he needs to monitor warp plasma stability. Meanwhile, the Rubicon makes its way to a tool case on the floor, and has to wait until someone goes through the engine room door. Ixtana'Rax orders another Jem'Hadar to take over for Worf while making Sisko give the Klingon another task. Just then, Kudak'Etan enters, wanting to know why the warp drive isn't online yet. Ixtana'Rax says Sisko is stalling, while Sisko complains that the Second is slowing things down by arbitrarily countermanding his orders and reassigning his crew. "You were told to watch them, not to interfere with them," Kudak'Etan tells Ixtana'Rax, who replies, "You're playing right into his hands. Don't you see that?" Kudak'Etan gives Sisko thirty minutes to restore warp power, or he will start killing crew members. He also orders Ixtana'Rax to stop interfering.

As the Rubicon makes ready to follow Kudak'Etan out, they are almost grabbed by another Jem'Hadar reaching for the tool case. Dax manages to pilot the ship so that it rises with the tool case as the Jem'Hadar lifts it; then it is able to finally zip through the door after Kudak'Etan. "Nice bit of piloting," Bashir tells Dax, who replies, "If you liked that, you're going to love what's coming up next."

Sisko has a quiet conference with Nog, who isn't having any luck. "Do you have a backup plan in case this doesn't work?" "Yes. I'll destroy the ship," Sisko tells him. Nog finds the motivation to try out a few more algorithms. Sisko then goes over to Kira, who is about ten minutes away from prestarting the warp drive. She manages to find another problem to delay her Jem'Hadar "assistant", but she knows she can't fool him forever.

Kudak'Etan stops in the corridor to talk to Third Lamat'Ukan; the Rubicon has to hide, and can't get to the bridge door when Kudak'Etan finally goes through it. This time, though, Dax decides she isn't going to wait for someone to open it. Meanwhile, since Worf reports he can't access the auto-destruct system without attracting attention, Sisko tells him to plant a computer virus in the warp plasma subprocessor, set to cause a core breach when the ship hits warp one.

The Rubicon gently rams the bridge door control panel, and the doors open, allowing the runabout to zip through. Kudak'Etan is puzzled that no one entered, but doesn't pursue the mystery. Unfortunately, he has his hand on the control lock. Hiding under the conference table, O'Brien figures he can bypass it by rerouting the encryption subprocessors manually. However, he would have to leave the ship. "I can think of a thousand ways a one-centimeter man could get fried walking around inside a circuit housing." Bashir points out that he wouldn't be able to breathe anyway; the oxygen molecules outside the ship are too big. Then Dax says that since the circuit housings are airtight, she could beam a bubble of compressed oxygen into the housing. This should give O'Brien 20 minutes before he passes out. O'Brien insists that Bashir come with him.

They materialize inside a section of optronic circuitry: a vast, confusing forest of components. "This might take longer than I thought," says O'Brien ruefully. The problem is that, while he knows the circuitry, he's never been literally inside it before, and it's hard to recognize things from this perspective. Bashir nearly backs into a chip carrying 20 milliamps of current, enough to fry his tiny body, but O'Brien stops him in time. Outside, Lamat'Ukan brings the Jem'Hadar on the bridge their white ration for the day; they move toward where the Rubicon is hiding.

O'Brien is still trying to locate the security protocol interlinks, and the air is getting thinner inside the circuitry. He and Bashir are both starting to become disoriented and lost. Bashir, however, suggests that O'Brien figure out where they are from memory. With new confidence, they head off toward the correct interlink.

In the engine room, the Jem'Hadar have started to cross-check the diagnostic protocols, which means trouble for Sisko and the others. Nog hasn't made any progress yet. Meanwhile, O'Brien and Bashir wrestle optronic filaments into sockets, struggling to stay conscious. Finally they're finished, and they call the Rubicon. And in engineering, Nog's eyes light up as the blinkies change. "Oh, I am good."

Then Ixtana'Rax yanks him away from the console, ordering everyone to step away. Nog manages to let Sisko know that he's released the command codes, though he's not certain how. Sisko notes that they need a diversion before the ship goes to warp. On the Rubicon, O'Brien and Bashir wonder why nothing is happening. Dax figures there may be trouble, since the First has been called to engineering.

Ixtana'Rax informs Kudak'Etan that the warp drive has been repaired for at least an hour. Yet the prisoners managed to conceal it from him. The two Jem'Hadar argue, placing blame on each other, until Kudak'Etan finally orders the warp drive brought on line. Ixtana'Rax insists that they check the system for sabotage, but Kudak'Etan says that would take hours, and to stay longer in Federation space would be to risk detection. He issues the order again. A soldier starts to work the panel. "At least we're going to take them with us," Kira says grimly to Sisko.

Things start happening fast. As the door opens for Kudak'Etan, the Rubicon flies straight at his face. While a shocked Kudak'Etan is trying to shoot the runabout, he turns his back on the prisoners, and Worf snaps his neck, then goes hand-to-hand with another Jem'Hadar. Chaos reigns as the Jem'Hadar go nuts attempting to destroy the tiny little ship, while the prisoners do their part against their captors. Kira shoots Ixtana'Rax, who goes down. All the Jem'Hadar are soon in a similar state. Sisko floods the rest of the ship with anesthezine gas, and orders Kira to get the virus out of the computer.

Then Sisko looks at Ixtana'Rax. "He should've listened to you and killed me when he had the chance." "He was a First," Ixtana'Rax chokes out, glaring at him. "They don't need to listen. Obedience brings victory, and victory is -- " He emphasizes the point by dying. "Mr. Worf, I think your wife is here," observes Sisko as the Rubicon hovers in front of Worf's nose, with Dax inside waving at him and blowing kisses.

The Defiant returns to the anomaly; the runabout and its crew are restored to their normal size; and the surviving Jem'Hadar are transferred to a POW camp. Back in Quark's, Dax pleads with Worf to read her his poem, off the PADD that he has in his hand. Worf demurs at first; it's not finished. He wants her to know that he's worked hard on this, and he doesn't want to be ridiculed. Then he begins. "This is the story of the little ship/that took a little trip." Dax blinks. "It's -- uh, well, it rhymes." Finally she realizes that he's putting her on. The PADD is blank.

Over at the bar, Bashir and O'Brien are recounting the tale to Morn and a Dabo girl, while Odo stands nearby, scrutinizing them rather intently. "Are you sure you've returned to your normal size?" he finally asks. He tells them they both appear a couple of centimeters shorter than before. "A Changeling notices that sort of thing." Quark chimes in. "I didn't want to say anything, but you do look a little on the petite side." That sends O'Brien and Bashir rushing out to the infirmary, to the vast amusement of both Odo and Quark. "And they say you don't have a sense of humor," Quark observes. Odo actually chuckles.

  • René Echevarria had written a similar premise as a spec script for TNG, though he had never sent it in.
  • The episode received an Emmy nomination for visual effects.