Production no.: 407
Teleplay by: Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Story by: Hannah Louise Shearer
Directed by: Paul Lynch
First satellite airdate: February 6, 1993
Jennifer Hetrick .......
John de Lancie ........
Van Epperson .........
Tom McCleister ......
Laura Cameron .......
Bashir is blithely regaling a smitten young Bajoran woman with the saga of what turns out to be one of his med school exams, with O'Brien rolling his eyes nearby, when both doctor and chief are called to one of the runabout landing pads. There, a runabout has returned from the Gamma Quadrant, but its power levels are at zero, and the hatch won't open. Dax and the ensign who accompanied her are trapped inside, with life support down, and there isn't time to burn through the hatch with a phaser. Oddly, Bashir detects one more lifesign inside, just before O'Brien manages to juryrig a connection and get the runabout hatch open.
The three people on board are still alive, fortunately, and O'Brien is startled to recognize the unexpected passenger as none other than Vash. Dax says they found her in the Gamma Quadrant, and that Vash had been there for over two years. As for how she got there, Vash's only explanation is that "a friend dropped me off." The mystery, however, can wait until all of them have been checked over in the infirmary. As everyone exits from the runabout, they don't notice the Starfleet-uniformed figure who appears to be working at the hatch. He turns to watch them go. It's Q, the omnipotent and very unpredictable entity who has so often plagued Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew.
In the infirmary, Vash checks out fine. She's "in remarkable shape", Bashir notes, especially considering she's been out of contact with civilization for two years. Vash says she'd hardly call the Gamma Quadrant uncivilized. But she enjoys the doctor's flirtations, while in Sisko's office, Dax is reporting that Vash seems to have known nothing about the wormhole, and was surprised to hear of its existence. Sisko decides to check her background.
Vash goes to the assay office to store some of the artifacts she has picked up in the Gamma Quadrant; the clerk assures her of its absolute security. He inventories the items, noticing one in particular: a glowing geode. Vash says she'll be back to pick everything up tomorrow, and goes out, almost bumping into Sisko. The two of them have a conversation; Sisko tells Vash that the Daystrom Institute is very interested in hearing what she has learned about the Gamma Quadrant. Vash continues to be coy about how she got there, but isn't unwilling to entertain the prospect of going back to Earth.
Sisko checks on O'Brien's progress as he tries to figure out what went wrong with the runabout. The ship's power reserves are empty, the inertial damping fields are barely operational, and the warp drive containment field is about to collapse; yet there isn't anything wrong with any of them that O'Brien can see. It's as if something simply drained the power dry. Sisko then asks O'Brien how well he knows Vash. "Hardly at all" is the answer. They met when she came aboard the Enterprise; O'Brien mentions that she and Picard were friends..."close" friends. As they are talking, they hear a low-pitched whine, and the lights dim briefly.
Sisko and O'Brien go to Ops, where Dax tells them there was a broad-spectrum power drain. O'Brien reads a graviton flux around the power transfer systems; Dax says ominously that that's exactly what happened when the runabout lost power.
Later, O'Brien helps Vash to her quarters; she asks after Picard, and O'Brien says the captain was fine the last he saw him. Alone in the quarters, Vash starts to unpack, which is when Q decides to reveal his presence. She is not pleased; they have spent the last two years touring the Gamma Quadrant, and now Vash has had enough. She wants to go back to her old life. Q is just as determined to persuade her to continue their association.
As they are talking, Quark arrives. Q sends him away, but Vash commands him to bring the Ferengi back. She wants to at least hear what Quark has to say. Q complies, and disappears while Quark (a bit confused at first) outlines a business proposition to Vash. He has heard about the relics Vash brought back from the Gamma Quadrant, and offers to arrange an auction, for a percentage. Vash is quite agreeable, and oo-moxes him down to a 22-percent share.
Q reappears briefly, then vanishes again when another visitor appears at Vash's door ("Aren't we the hub of activity," Q snipes). This time it's Bashir, who gallantly asks her out to dinner. Vash says she will meet him in twenty minutes. After Bashir exits, Q reappears again and tells Vash she'll be lost without him. Vash retorts that she can take care of herself, to which Q replies loftily, "We'll see about that."
Bashir is waiting in the replimat when Q approaches him, disguised as a Bajoran waiter, and informs him he's making a terrible mistake. He advises Bashir to stay away from Vash. Bashir is astonished at this waiter's impertinence. He's going to meet Vash for dinner, he says; but Q tells him with mock concern that he looks tired. Bashir immediately begins yawning, and wanders off dazedly to go lie down "for a few minutes".
As Q turns away, he doesn't see O'Brien looking on nearby -- but O'Brien has seen him. The Chief hurries to Ops and tells Sisko that they've got a problem: Q is here. Sisko has heard of the entity, and says that whatever he's here for, it's a safe bet that they won't like it. O'Brien says they might ask Vash -- she knows Q, having met him in Sherwood Forest, which was one of the jokes Q played on the Enterprise crew. While they are talking, the lights dim again, for a slightly longer period. The main power grid has dropped eighty percent, and there is a massive graviton buildup. O'Brien's guess is that this is another one of Q's games.
Vash is showing the geode to Quark, who pretends it's nothing special while he tries to buy it for a fraction of what Vash thinks it's worth, when Sisko arrives at the bar, wanting to speak to Vash. He asks her about Q, but before she can answer, Q is there. The omnipotent pest commences toying with Sisko verbally and casually showing off his powers, but Sisko is not impressed by Q's "parlor tricks". He wants Q to stop playing around with the power outages. Q reacts with injured innocence. When Sisko suggests they continue the conversation in private, Q makes the other bar patrons disappear.
Sisko demands that they be brought back; whereupon Q whimsically creates a boxing ring, with himself and Sisko as the combatants, and the bar patrons, Quark, and Vash as spectators. Sisko tires of Q's antics and finally just decks him. "Picard never hit me," Q whines. "I'm not Picard," Sisko replies. Q agrees, saying Sisko is much easier to provoke. He vanishes, restoring the bar to normal.
The outages continue, and Ops suddenly loses atmosphere due to a hull breach in an upper bulkhead, only one of several such fractures. Dax and Sisko examine a breach in a corridor; they have noticed that the power drains have all been followed by an increase in the graviton field. But Sisko is no longer convinced that Q is responsible. Now that he's met the entity, it just doesn't seem to him like Q's style.
Odo lets Quark know that he knows about the auction, having picked up the information through eavesdropping in another form, and the two of them have a conversation about materialism; meanwhile, on her way to the auction after removing her artifacts from the assay office, Vash is accosted on the Promenade by Q, who reminds her of his power by letting her experience the grotesque effects of an insect bite he once saved her from. Vash remains defiant, and Q pops out again.
Since the station's Cardassian-designed internal sensors aren't powerful enough to pick up the source of the power drain on their own, Dax proposes that they flood the station with ionized tridium gas so that they can trace the particle flow. Tridium is toxic, but only when highly concentrated, and Sisko tells them to do it. Q appears at that moment and taunts the Ops crew for a while, advising them to evacuate. He won't give them the answers as to what is going on, of course, except to say that Vash is far more dangerous to them than he is.
Just before the auction is to commence, Quark suggests a permanent partnership arrangement to Vash; but she declines, claiming that she's looking forward to a nice quiet life on Earth. Quark says she wouldn't last a month. At that moment, the station shakes violently once more.
The tridium solution isn't quite ready yet, and now there's another problem: the station is being pulled out of its normal position. Sisko has O'Brien take everything offline, with life support on emergency backup, but cutting off the power to the graviton field doesn't help, and the station is being sucked straight into the wormhole. Something aboard the station is causing it, and the tridium trace is the only hope. Meanwhile, Quark, not one to let a little station crisis get in the way of profit, begins the auction as planned.
Dax and O'Brien begin the sensor sweep. The tridium gas is draining toward the central core, but they can't pinpoint the location. At the auction, Q appears to casually inform everyone that the station is hurtling towards its doom. Quark soothes the concerns of the bidders with free drinks, and the auction continues while Q offers to save Vash, who says she'll take her chances. The entity decides to stick around. "I've never seen a space station torn apart by a wormhole before," he says cheerfully.
Dax gets an idea to fire the reactors back up, to generate enough energy to create a power drain big enough to trace, at the risk of pushing the station even faster into the wormhole. Sisko gives the order. At the auction, the geode comes up for bid. Quark is ecstatic as the bids rise higher and higher, while, at three minutes to the wormhole, Dax determines that the power drain is coming from the Promenade. She heads there with Sisko and Kira.
Q mischievously begins bidding at fantastic prices, and Quark is nearly hyperventilating with greed, when the officers enter, following their tricorders straight to the geode just as Quark announces the sale. Sisko has O'Brien beam the geode off the station, into space, where it suddenly explodes into light. And a bright energy creature appears, soaring gracefully into the wormhole without so much as a hello.
The graviton levels return to normal, and the station is maneuvered back to its usual position. In the bar, Quark tells Vash about some ruins he's heard were just uncovered: a Rokai provincial capital on Tartaras V. Vash insists she's not interested, and she's going back to Earth. As Quark goes off to serve some drinks, Q appears once more, offering to take her to Tartaras. But Vash just wants her life back. Finally, Q gives up. With a hint of genuine melancholy, he admits that through Vash's eyes, he was able to experience wonder. And he vanishes for good. Vash then asks Quark the quickest way to Tartaras V.
Dax watches them go, and then bumps into a yawning chief medical officer. "Did I miss anything?" Bashir asks.
Hannah Louise Shearer's original story featured Vash without Q; Q was added by Robert Hewitt Wolfe.