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Production no.: 435
Teleplay by: Jeff King and Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Story by: Jim Trombetta and James Crocker
Directed by: Corey Allen
Stardate: 47573.1 
First satellite airdate: February 12, 1994
Julia Nickson ....................
Steve Vinovich ..................
Michael Buchman Silver ....
Erick Weiss ......................
Gail Strickland ...................
Majel Barrett ....................
Computer Voice

Sisko and O'Brien are in the runabout Rio Grande, surveying star systems in a sector near the wormhole, looking for Class M planets suitable for colonization. Sisko asks O'Brien to take Jake on as an apprentice in engineering, with an eye to preparing him for a career in Starfleet, and O'Brien is agreeable. As they are talking, he spots what they are looking for, a planet in the Orellius Minor system. He detects human lifesigns, yet there is no record of a colony there. They hail the colony, but get no response; O'Brien detects a low-level duonetic field, and thinks it may be interfering with communications.

They beam down, and materialize in a forest, where they find that their tricorders don't work. Neither do communicators or phasers. As they are discussing this development, a voice calls out, "Don't move!" There is a young man armed with a longbow, aiming an arrow at them. They raise their hands.

An older man who is with the archer realizes they are from Starfleet, and greets them in a friendly manner. He is Joseph, and the archer is Vinod. Their group had been on its way to settle on Gemulon V over ten years ago when their ship developed life support problems, and they had to land for repairs. They were unable to leave because all their systems failed. "We've been stuck here ever since. And I guess you are too now," says Joseph. Sisko says it shouldn't take long for his people to rescue them. O'Brien puts in that they can get the colonists out of here as well, but Joseph says this has become home.

They make their way to a village near a grounded Federation ship, formerly the Santa Maria, that has been converted into a shelter. There is a field nearby, with people working, who stop what they're doing to greet them. A woman named Alixus (Vinod's mother) approaches with a smile and welcomes them. Sisko and O'Brien begin telling people some of what's been going on in the Federation since they've been out of touch. Joseph is interested in hearing about runabouts, since he was the engineer of the Santa Maria.

Sisko mentions the duonetic field, and Alixus says they detected it too before landing. They couldn't track down the source without functioning tricorders, but Alixus believes the astatine deposits in the swamps might explain it. She looks around proudly at the others. "But we've done pretty well without our tricorders and EM converters and comlinks, haven't we? After all, the human body is a powerful tool." She goes on, about how, without technology, they've rediscovered their capabilities. "It hasn't been easy. We've had some bitter winters, and we've lost some dear friends. But we're very proud of what we've accomplished here." Another woman, Cassandra, asks if they will leave when Sisko and O'Brien are rescued, and Alixus says everyone will have to decide that for themselves. As for herself, she will never leave; the community means too much to her.

Alixus invites Sisko and O'Brien to stay with them. "The only thing we ask is that you contribute. We all work for our supper. You'll be surprised how much sweeter it tastes when you do." As they go to find sleeping space, Alixus speaks to her son. "Two more strong, healthy men, Vinod. That can mean an awful lot to this community."

On DS9, Kira gets a message that Admiral Mitsuya is coming to discuss Cardassian foreign policy, which Dax says is an excuse to get Sisko into a poker game. They call the Rio Grande, but get no response.

Sisko is in a cubicle reading an old-fashioned book when O'Brien enters. The book is by Alixus, who is a prolific author with opinions on everything. In it, she says she has spent her life examining the human condition. And her prognosis is not very good: according to her, "the common conceit that the human species has evolved over the last several centuries is ludicrous. What gains we have made have come at the cost of our own core identities. Man has lost touch with his true power." "Sounds like it took a crash landing for her to find her paradise," O'Brien comments.

O'Brien hasn't been able to find anything on the ship to help them restore contact with the runabout. Joseph says they threw it all away. They had to abandon their dependence on technology. But he says they're better for it, and have revived the spirit of community. Cassandra interrupts to tell Joseph that Meg's fever is worse.

Sisko and O'Brien enter a room where a woman lies unconscious, being treated by Alixus with herbs. She is suffering from a disease caused by an insect bite. The colonists have searched everywhere for the right fungus or root. O'Brien says the medical kit on the runabout could take care of this, and Sisko says they have to find a way to restore the comlink, but Alixus tells them that would be a waste of time. When O'Brien speculates that he may be able to modify their communicators to run off the duonetic field, Alixus interrupts. "If you want to put your efforts to good use, search the forest for something else we might use."

Sisko protests that this is primitive medicine, and Alixus takes him outside. "Talk like that isn't constructive," she says. Sisko wants to get to his ship; Alixus replies that if the colonists had had that attitude over these ten years, they wouldn't have survived. "An interesting philosophy," Sisko says, "and while we're debating it, a woman is dying." Alixus won't have him disrupting the community, and tells him not to bring up the rescue party again. Until and if they come, Sisko and O'Brien will have to do things her way. "I'd strongly advise you get rid of that uniform. By midafternoon, it gets hot in the fields."

At DS9, Dax reports to Kira that the Rio Grande has been spotted by a Romulan ship. The runabout was traveling at warp two with no one on board. They start off to investigate.

Sisko and O'Brien are still in their uniforms as they work in the field and Vinod espouses his mother's philosophy. He mentions that everyone else was surprised by the full flavor of non-replicated food; he wasn't, because his mother never let him eat from a replicator. O'Brien jokes to Joseph about what Keiko would say if she could see him now. Then they notice a 4'x4' metal box in the compound, being opened to release a young man named Stephan who has been inside, roasting in the sun as punishment for having stolen a candle.

"Is this part of your philosophy of life too?" Sisko asks Alixus, who says surely he's had to discipline his crew members. "All of us, including Stephan, approved this form of punishment as necessary and fair." Stephan seems truly contrite, and Alixus sends him inside to rest. "In time, you'll understand that this is a simple and effective way to maintain law and order in our community." After she walks away, Sisko tells O'Brien to find a way to adapt the energy from the duonetic field.

Sisko is preparing for bed that night when Cassandra comes into his cubicle, asking if he needs anything. "Alixus has reminded us all that it wasn't easy for us at first either. She's told us to be patient with you." She offers to massage his sore muscles; when he politely refuses, she insists. He grabs her hand gently. "Did she send you here to make love to me?" he asks.

He goes to Alixus' cubicle to confront her about it. She admits sending Cassandra. "I think you're contemptible," Sisko says angrily, but Alixus claims Cassandra had come to her out of concern for him. Looking at one of her books, Sisko comments that it seems Alixus never did have much use for technology. "It's interesting how you happened to crash on a planet that fit your philosophy of life so well." Alixus wonders how she can help him to see that her way is better. "Perhaps good, hard work is the answer." She tells Vinod that Ben will be standing watch tonight.

Sisko endures this, and in the morning speaks to O'Brien, who doesn't believe the duonetic field is generated by the astatine deposits. Alixus asks if Sisko will be able to work his shift in the fields today, and O'Brien protests, but Sisko says he'll work. Alixus advises him again to change into more comfortable clothes, and adds that Meg seems better.

In their runabout, Dax and Kira find the Rio Grande. Rather than try to transport over with both ships at warp, Dax suggests a "rope trick", capturing the Rio Grande with a tractor beam. The trick works, and they beam over.

By high noon, Sisko is exhausted, and angered when he learns that Alixus is rationing the water as a punishment to everyone for his actions. A bell rings, and he goes to the center of the compound with the others. Alixus announces sadly that Meg has died. "Her dedication to this community and to us was an inspiration. Which is why I find myself so troubled today by an act that by its very nature defiles her memory." Vinod brings O'Brien forward. Alixus tells everyone that O'Brien was discovered trying to activate his technological devices to return to his ship.

Joseph objects, saying he's sure O'Brien only wanted to get to the medical equipment. Alixus thanks him for bringing that up, "so all of us could see the true danger these two represent." She continues with her speech, turning this into an inspirational moment. Seeing the punishment box being opened, Sisko protests, "You're not going to put him in there." Alixus says no, she's not. She is holding Sisko responsible as O'Brien's commanding officer, and Sisko is the one she is putting in the box. Sisko looks at her evenly, then calmly walks to the box and climbs inside. It is shut and barred, and sits baking in the hot sun.

Dax and Kira are on the Rio Grande, investigating what happened. Dax finds that the hull has been exposed to high temperatures and gamma radiation, and retraces the ship's course to Orellius Minor. Someone tried to destroy the ship by flying it into the star, but the trajectory was off, and the ship was flung away in a random direction. They take the other runabout in tow and set course for the Orellius system.

Vinod brings a shaky, parched Sisko to Alixus' cubicle. Alixus is all concern. "This is painful for me, too. I want so much to give you water, to let you lie down, sleep. But I can't. Not without your help." Sisko is silent as she tells him she's not expecting a miraculous conversion, but she wants him to show that he's open to change. "A good start would be to get rid of the uniform." She pours a cup of water, and says once he's changed into the clothes she's leaving him, he can drink, and so can everyone else. Alixus leaves, and Sisko eyes the water. A few minutes later, he staggers outside, and everyone watches in awe, including Alixus, as he struggles over to the box, climbs back into it, and closes it.

O'Brien is more determined than ever to find a way off this planet. When Joseph catches him in his work station, the former engineer realizes what he's up to. O'Brien says he's figured out a way to get to the source of the duonetic field, and Joseph finishes the thought. "You want me to look the other way while you leave." "She'd put you in the box, wouldn't she?" O'Brien says. He tells Joseph to look down at a hematite deposit he's found, and promises this won't hurt. Joseph complies; O'Brien gently knocks him unconscious. "I owe you one, my friend," he says, and slips away.

He uses the old-fashioned water/needle/tree-bark compass trick to find what he is looking for: a black metal box with a panel of high-tech electronics -- working electronics. It is the source of the duonetic field. Just then, an arrow thunks into a nearby tree, coming from Vinod, who pursues him. O'Brien takes off his uniform tunic to use as a diversion, and brings Vinod down. "Well, you finally got one of us out of our uniform," he comments.

He takes Vinod captive and brings him back to the compound, shouting at Cassandra to get Alixus. O'Brien then fires his phaser -- which is working again -- at the lock of the punishment box, and gets Sisko out. The colonists bring water at his request. "Do you know why this phaser is working now?" O'Brien asks them rhetorically. "Because I shut down the duonetic field that was stopping it from working. An artificially created duonetic field."

Sisko taps his combadge and calls the Rio Grande, but there is no response. Alixus says she destroyed it. She helped invent the duonetic field, and has control of it. Her community is stunned as she admits freely that she deliberately caused the life support problems that forced their ship to land here. She had chosen this planet months in advance.

"You lied to us," says Cassandra. "You've been lying to us for ten years." "Yes," says Alixus. "But perhaps a lie can lead to a more important truth." She points out the accomplishments of the community. "What of the dead?" asks Sisko, reminding her of Meg and the others who have died to prove her theories. Alixus says she is prepared to go with him to take her punishment, but argues that she accepted from the start that there would be casualties. She would even have let her own son die if that was to be. "For the sake of the community. I did it all for the community."

At that moment, Kira makes contact with Sisko, who tells her to stand by for multiple transports. There is room for everyone on the runabouts, O'Brien offers. None of the colonists move, however. Joseph speaks for them. "Miles, this is our home. Whatever Alixus may be guilty of, she did give us our community. I'm not sure if we'll leave the device on or off now that we know it's there, and we'll have to decide if we want to establish contact with the outside world. But Alixus is right. We have found something here that none of us is willing to give up."

With that, Sisko and O'Brien beam up, taking Alixus and Vinod into custody. After they're gone, two children stare at the punishment box.

  • This episode involves only four of the regular characters.
  • Some of the outdoor scenes were shot at Griffith Park's bird sanctuary.