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Prophet Motive

Production no.: 462
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: Rene Auberjonois
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: February 18, 1995
Max Grodénchik ....
Juliana Donald .......
Tiny Ron ...............
Wallace Shawn ......
Bennet Guillory ......
Medical Big Shot

Quark is in heaven. A young woman named Emi is not only giving him oo-mox, but she wants to buy the one hundred gross of self-sealing stem bolts he has sitting in a cargo bay. Quark is in no hurry to close the deal; he's too blissed out. But then there's a chime at the door. Instead of the Saurian brandy Quark ordered, it's Rom, who urges Quark to leave immediately, along with Emi. As Quark is arguing with him, Grand Nagus Zek himself, accompanied as always by Maihar'du, enters the room. "What does Zek want with me?" Quark asks in panic. Rom glances at the baggage Maihar'du is carrying. "Looks like he's moving in with you, brother."

Bashir is called to the wardroom, where he is surprised to see Sisko, Dax, and several other officers. "The Federation Medical Council has announced the nominees for this year's Carrington Award," Sisko says, and reads off a PADD. "And the nominees are Dr. April Wade of the University of Nairobi, Healer Senva of the Vulcan Medical Institute, Dr. Henri Roget of the Central Hospital of Altair Four, Chirurgeon Ghee P'Trell of Andoria, and Dr. Julian Bashir, Chief Medical Officer of Starbase Deep Space Nine." Bashir is confused, having been unaware that he was even up for consideration, but Dax tells him she submitted his name through a friend of Curzon's. "So how does it feel to be the youngest nominee in the history of the Carrington award?" asks O'Brien, and everyone looks at Bashir eagerly. "It feels...good," he says uncertainly. Bashir then gulps down his champagne and makes a quick exit.

Talking to Dax a few hours later on the Promenade, Bashir explains that he does feel honored to be nominated. "I just don't want everyone to make a big deal out of it." Dax is enthusiastic, and can't understand why he's not. Bashir is certain he's not going to win. Besides, "do you know what the average life expectancy of a Carrington Award winner is? Five years. Ten at the very best. And do you know why? Because the Carrington Award is intended to be the crowning achievement for a lifetime in medicine. April Wade is a hundred and six. The last time she was nominated, three years ago, people said it was premature." He is far too young for this, he insists. "Now, put my name up for nomination in seventy years, and I promise you, I will get very excited. But until then, I don't plan on giving it much thought." "That's a very mature attitude," Dax says in surprise, and promises not to mention it again. "So who do you think is going to win? Wade or P'Trell?"

While Zek has taken over Quark's quarters, Quark has been obliged to stay with Rom, whose place is a pigsty. It's Nog's duty to keep it clean, but Nog is off visiting his grandmother. Quark orders Rom to clean up the mess. Then, to his outrage, he recognizes some things in the room that belong to his bar. He decides that he will do a complete inventory as soon as Rom's done cleaning. But Rom refuses. "I work for you all day, brother. But here, I'm the boss. If you want this place cleaned up, do it yourself." "What I want is my own quarters back," says Quark. Rom agrees, since Quark has some annoying habits of his own. "That does it," declares Quark. "I've been accommodating long enough. If the Nagus wants to stay on the station, he's going to have to find someplace else to live!"

Rom is nervous. No one has seen the Nagus since he arrived. Quark forces Rom to be the one to disturb him. "Zek likes me, so I can't afford to get on his bad side. On the other hand, he barely acknowledges your existence. So you have nothing to lose." He hits the door chime and ducks back out of sight. Then Zek opens the door. Far from being incensed at the disturbance, he seems positively merry. "I've been hoping someone would drop by. Now, come right in!" Quark quickly rejoins Rom, and Zek welcomes them both in. "I've got something very exciting to show you both."

The room has been thoroughly stripped of furniture; Zek says it was getting in the way of his work. He then shows them a book. "You are about to read the shining triumph of my life. The one thing I'll always be remembered for." Zek hands Quark the book and invites him to open it. "'The Rules of Acquisition, Revised for the Modern Ferengi' -- you rewrote the Rules of Acquisition?"

Zek floats off to await Quark's opinion. Quark is excited. "We'll be the first Ferengi to benefit from Zek's wisdom. The knowledge contained in this book could make us both rich beyond our wildest dreams." He eagerly turns the first page. "The first Rule of Acquisition is...'If they want their money back...give it to them.'" Quark and Rom look at each other in confusion, then at Maihar'du, who is sobbing in the corner.

Rom reads aloud some more of the revised Rules, which are in a similar non-Ferengi-ish vein. Quark nearly passes out from the distress of it all. Trying to make sense of it, he thinks perhaps Zek is testing them. He tries seeing if there's a code involved; holding the pages up to the light; even licking them. "Maybe the Nagus has gone insane," suggests Rom. "Nonsense," says Quark. "The Nagus is the most brilliant Ferengi alive. I've modeled my life after him. Don't ever let me hear you speak that way about him again...It has to be part of some brilliant, twisted, devious plan. The Nagus isn't like you and me, Rom. He thinks ten, sometimes twenty, steps ahead. These Rules are probably the key component in some vast plot to seize financial control of the entire quadrant." Quark decides the best thing to do is to wait for Zek to reveal his plan. "Until then, we have to act as if we know nothing." "I can do that," says Rom.

Later, Zek enters the bar and buys everyone a drink. Quark asks why, and the Nagus replies, "It will make everyone happy. And that will make me happy." When Quark mentions that he has some new Hupyrian beetle snuff, Zek says he's lost his taste for it. "By the way, Quark, I just met the most lovely young female. She came by your quarters, looking for you." Quark is happy to hear that Emi's family's ship has arrived with the latinum to buy the stem bolts. But then Zek tells him that he informed Emi how to get some wholesale. "What am I going to do with a hundred gross of stem bolts?" Quark wonders in dismay. Rom admits to Zek that he's confused, and Zek understands. "It'll take some time to get used to the new ways." He takes Rom off to explain.

O'Brien and Bashir have finally gotten tired of racquetball and taken to playing darts in a cargo bay. As Bashir takes aim, O'Brien remarks, "I guess the smart money's on Wade or P'Trell." Bashir's dart bounces off the rim of the board. O'Brien continues to chat about it casually as he takes his turn, and Bashir agrees, through gritted teeth. "I mean, I know you're talented," O'Brien goes blithely on, "but I bet there's doctors all over the Federation saying, 'Julian Bashir? Who the hell's he?'" Another of Bashir's darts bounces off. "Chief, you are absolutely right," says Bashir, making a mighty effort not to show his annoyance. But he gets his revenge. "So -- how much longer is Keiko going to be on Bajor?" This time, O'Brien's throw goes clang.

Quark enters his quarters to find they've been transformed into an office, full of subspace communications links and his Ferengi waiters, headed up by Rom. "You're looking at the sector headquarters for the Ferengi Benevolent Association," announces Rom proudly.

Horrified, Quark drags Rom off by the ear. Rom protests that he's the senior administrator, and that the Nagus said he's going to mold him into "a new kind of Ferengi. An evolved Ferengi." "Evolved into what?" asks Quark. Rom isn't sure, but according to the Nagus, the answer is in the new Rules of Acquisition. "He told me, 'Rom, it's time for the Ferengi to move beyond greed.'" This is the most ridiculous thing Quark's ever heard. "There's nothing 'beyond greed!' Greed is the purest, most noble of emotions!" Then Rom tells him that he, Quark, has been made the co-chairman of the association. After it is established, the Nagus will return to the homeworld to announce the New Rules of Acquisition on the Grand Steps of the Sacred Marketplace. And Quark and Rom will be there. "We'll be there all right," Quark says. "And we'll probably be right alongside of him when they throw him from the spire of the Tower of Commerce...Don't you see, Rom? There's something terribly wrong with the Nagus. And we have to help him before he gets us all killed."

Zek cheerfully submits to medical examination by Bashir, who pronounces him to be in excellent health. But Quark insists there must be something wrong, and Bashir has to perform more tests. Bashir refuses, and Quark looks at him in disgust. "I can't believe you're supposed to be one of the five best doctors in the Federation. If you ask me, you're a quack. No wonder everyone says you don't have a chance to win the Carrington." Zek gives Bashir a strip of latinum for his trouble, which Bashir finally accepts on the suggestion that he donate it to charity if he likes. "And you say he's not sick," says Quark reproachfully.

Zek then invites the doctor to a ceremony tomorrow night at the Bajoran shrine. "I intend to give a gift to the Bajoran people." But he won't say what this gift is. "It's a surprise. You'll find out tomorrow night like everyone else." The Nagus leaves the infirmary. "We have a lot of work to do before then. So many needy people, so little time."

Quark resorts to having Rom try to break into the Grand Nagus' personal shuttle. He has to know what Zek is giving to the Bajorans. Then Maihar'du arrives and catches them. But instead of shooting them, he opens the hatch and beckons them inside, where he shows them a Bajoran ark. "It's one of the missing Bajoran Orbs, Rom," Quark says in awed recognition. "An Orb of the Prophets."

This explains everything to Quark, though he's not sure how. Rom suggests opening the ark to see if there's really an orb in there. While Quark is struggling with him to keep him from opening it, the box opens, and suddenly Quark finds himself sitting on top of a spinning Dabo wheel in his bar.

"What's the matter, Quark? Spinning out of control, are we?" asks Zek nastily, nearby. He spins the wheel; then Quark is at a table with the Orb ark before him. He opens it to find Zek's head inside. "Looking for answers? You couldn't find them if they were dangling from your lobes!" Another change of position. "Where is that old Quark cleverness I've heard so much about? Or are you so paralyzed with fear that you can't think straight?" Zek appears at the railing of the third level. "Answer me, Quark. What are you so nervous about? Don't you think change is worth dying for? All I want is a little leap of faith." He jumps off, and Quark moves to catch him, but finds himself holding the ark instead. "Nice catch," says Zek, behind the bar. "That's the wonderful thing about mysteries. Sometimes the answers just fall from the sky." Quark is then back on the Dabo wheel, holding the Orb ark. "What do you have to lose?" taunts Zek. "Open it." Quark does, and finds the new Rules of Acquisition inside.

Quark comes back to reality. He now realizes what happened. "They did it. They put the idea for the New Rules into Zek's head. They changed him somehow." He tries to get Maihar'du to talk, but the Hupyrian servant just bursts into tears again. Quark decides to break into Zek's personal logs.

A bit later, Quark leaves the ship with Rom and Maihar'du. He has learned that Zek obtained the Orb from a contact on Cardassia III, and went to the wormhole, where he stayed inside for only a few minutes, then came to the station. "In his personal logs, Zek said that the future was looking very bright indeed. Don't you get it? According to Dax, the wormhole aliens can see through time. The Nagus must have thought that he could convince them to let him see the future. That way he could anticipate economic changes throughout the galaxy." "The opportunity for profit would have been enormous," breathes Rom. "But instead he created the New Rules of Acquisition. Why?" Quark doesn't know, but he knows something went wrong, and he has an idea how to set it right. "Does it involve me?" asks Rom. "Not really," says Quark. Rom smiles. "I like it."

Bashir is working on a PADD in the replimat when Odo joins him. The constable says confidentially that he's heard -- through a long chain of wives of cousins of friends of friends -- something Bashir might find interesting. "Dr. Wade is not going to win the Carrington." "Not you too," says Bashir wearily. He tells Odo that if this is true, the only one with reason to celebrate is Ghee P'Trell. Odo points out that the field is wide open; even Bashir could win. "I didn't think I was going to win before," Bashir insists. "And I don't think I'm going to win now." "Is that a fact?" Odo says. "Then why have you been working on your acceptance speech?" Bashir looks at him in shock. "How did you know?" Odo gives him a triumphant little smile. "Just a guess." He leaves Bashir sitting there with egg on his face.

Zek is working in Quark's quarters, about to send a relief shipment to a planet plagued with solar flares, when Quark, Rom, and Maihar'du enter. "How can I help you, boys?" he asks brightly. Maihar'du promptly puts a huge sack over his head, and they hurry down the corridor. "Don't worry, Quark. I forgive you," calls Zek from inside the sack. "You hear that?" Quark says to Rom. "We have to help him."

They bring Zek aboard the Nagus' shuttle. "Brother, this is a very brave thing you're doing," Rom says in admiration. "Taking the Nagus back to the wormhole. I wish I could come with you. But I can't. Goodbye." He quickly retreats, and Quark shoos Maihar'du out as well. With a reassurance to Zek -- who is humming happily to himself -- Quark prepares to launch the shuttle.

He pilots it into the wormhole, stops, and opens the sack. Zek isn't angry at all, and notes that the ship is rocking, which is what happened when he was in here the first time. "The wormhole aliens are delightful people, but they like their privacy." Quark asks how he made contact, and Zek tells him to open the box containing the Orb. "Better hurry. I got the dampening field on this ship for a substantial discount."

Quark opens the box, and finds himself in a white void; then sees images flashing before him. Finally he meets the wormhole aliens, who take the forms of Bashir, Dax, Kira, Rom, Sisko, Maihar'du, and Emi. "It is corporeal." "A physical entity." "Not another one." They ask if "the Sisko" sent him, but Quark says he's here to talk about the Nagus.

"The Zek wanted to know the outcome of the game before it was played," intones an alien. "At first we did not understand the Zek's request," another says. "The Sisko said that corporeal beings value their linear existence." "But the Zek wanted to understand events outside the restrictions of linear time," says yet another. They tell Quark that Zek explained to them the idea of gain and profit. "We found the concept aggressive." "Adversarial." "Dangerous. We could not comprehend how any species could lead such a barren existence." So they looked back into Ferengi history, discovered a time when they were not so greedy, and returned Zek to that state.

Quark demands that they put the Nagus back to how he was. Instead, the aliens consider doing to Quark what they did to Zek. But Quark insists there's nothing wrong with acquiring profit. "Look, I don't know how you people live, but all of us corporeal, linear whatevers have certain things in common. And one of those things is the need to improve ourselves. Our ambition to improve ourselves motivates everything we do. Without ambition, without -- dare I say it -- greed, people would lie around all day, doing nothing. They wouldn't work, they wouldn't bathe, they wouldn't even eat. They'd starve to death. Is that what you want? Are you so isolated and detached that you would sit back and allow the extinction of every corporeal being in the galaxy?"

"Your argument is specious," points out an alien. "Changing you will not result in the termination of all corporeal existence." "All right, so maybe I exaggerated a little," admits Quark. The aliens agree to alter him, but Quark desperately argues, "If you don't want to have any more contact with the Ferengi, that's fine with me. But by altering me, you won't be avoiding contact, you'll be encouraging it. My people are very inquisitive. And if you change me, they're going to want to know what happened. And they're going to come here to find out. Just as I came to find out what happened to Zek." "That is linear," one of the aliens muses, seeing the point. "And potentially very annoying to you," Quark tells them. "But on the other hand, if you leave me alone, and put the Nagus back the way he was when you met him, I guarantee that you'll never have to talk with another Ferengi again. So what do you say?"

"Linguistic communication is tiresome," says another alien. And Quark is transported, mid-rant, back to the shuttle. Zek asks if he's all right. "I think so," Quark says. "What about you?" "Stop toadying up to me, Quark," Zek says irritably. "It's revolting. Just get me out of here. I have an Orb to sell to the Bajorans." Quark looks at him in joy. "Did you say sell?" "I'm going to make them pay through the nose!" Zek cackles with avaricious glee. "And speaking of nose, where's my beetle snuff?"

The moment has come for the Carrington Award winner to be announced, and Bashir stands with everyone else in the wardroom, trying to act nonchalant. "And the winner is...Dr. Henri Roget." The DS9 officers deflate in disappointment, and give Bashir their condolences. "You seem to be handling this well," whispers Dax to Bashir, who continues to smile at the others. "Believe me, I'm not," he admits.

The Grand Nagus, now restored to his normal awful self, heads for his ship with Quark, Rom, and a happy Maihar'du. "Remember what I said, Quark. If anyone asks, you have no idea what happened to the charity money...And you're sure you destroyed every last copy of the revised Rules of Acquisition?" "The only place the new Rules exist is inside my head," says Rom; before Maihar'du can tear his head off, Quark quickly says, "Don't worry. Within a week, he'll have forgotten them all." "He'd better," grumps Zek, and shuffles into the airlock without another word, though Maihar'du pats Quark on the head in gratitude.

Rom is disappointed that the Nagus never thanked Quark. "He doesn't have to thank me," Quark says. "He's the Nagus." But he does add wistfully that it would have been nice to have made some profit out of all this. Rom smiles. "That's all right. I made enough profit for the both of us." The Ferengi Benevolent Association was funded with Zek's personal fortune, and he was the senior administrator. "You embezzled money from the Nagus?" Quark realizes, shocked. "Surprise," Rom grins.

"Father would be proud," Quark says in admiration, and the two brothers walk off.