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Rocks and Shoals

Production no.: 527
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Michael Vejar
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: October 4, 1997
Andrew J. Robinson .....
Phil Morris ...................
Christopher Shea ..........
Aron Eisenberg ............
Paul S. Eckstein ...........
Lilyan Chauvin .............
Sarah McDonnell .........
Joseph Fuqua ...............
Vedek Yassim

Limping through hostile space without a warp drive, the Jem'Hadar ship which has been commandeered by Sisko and crew for a mission to destroy a Ketracel-white storage facility is now set upon by two other Jem'Hadar fighters. O'Brien is still in the midst of restoring main power; their chances for survival are slim to none. Finally Sisko (wearing one of the Dominion's virtual headsets) sees a dark matter nebula nearby, and asks Dax if they can make it there. "Yes," she replies. "But that nebula's never been charted. We don't know what's in there." With the enemy ships entering weapons range, there's no other choice but to head for the nebula anyway.

The firing begins. Dax's console blows out; helm control is now gone. When the ship plunges into the nebula, the pursuers break off, but their problems are far from over. Dax has sustained a serious injury to both host and symbiont. A gravitational spike takes out their sensors and engines. When Garak puts his headset back on, his eyes widen, and he yells at everyone to hang on. The ship proceeds to plummet down onto a planet.

On a desolate shoreline, a Jem'Hadar named Third Remata'Klan receives a report from his Fourth, Limara'Son. It's clear that their troop is not in much better shape than Sisko's crew. Their Vorta has been injured; his condition is worsening. The bodies of the First and the Second have been disposed of. "You are now the First," Limara'Son tells his superior, but Remata'Klan replies, "No. I questioned the Vorta's orders. He will not forget that. As long as he lives, I will remain Third." Limara'Son argues that he was right to do so. The Vorta had ordered them into the nebula two days ago, resulting in their crash on this world. Remata'Klan, however, replies that it wasn't his place. "Until we re-establish communications, we will hold this world for the Dominion," he declares. His subordinate asks, "And if we cannot re-establish communications?" "Then we will hold this world for the Dominion, until we die," Remata'Klan replies.

Sisko and his crew make it to shore, at another part of the coastline, their ship sinking behind them in the bay. They have cobbled together a makeshift raft full of what supplies they could salvage, plus the unconscious Dax, whom Bashir pronounces stable for now. They're alive, just. To top it all off, O'Brien discovers he's torn his pants. Suddenly he and Sisko start to laugh. "I guess I'm really in trouble now," O'Brien guffaws.

On the station once known as Deep Space Nine, Kira wakes up and faces herself in the mirror. She goes about her morning routine, just as she has for nearly five years. It almost seems as if nothing has changed, except that now the people she greets on the turbolift and in Ops are Cardassians and Jem'Hadar.

Remata'Klan's troop are using a cavern as their base camp, where their Vorta, Keevan, lies severely wounded but determined to live, if only to deny the Jem'Hadar the pleasure of watching him die. One of the soldiers is working on their communications array, estimating that it will take at least ten days before they can even test it. It's now time for Keevan to distribute the Ketracel-white. The Vorta opens the case, looks inside, and winces, then hands out only one vial of white, to Remata'Klan. "This case of white must last until we're rescued, at least ten days, possibly more," Keevan explains weakly. "I will ration the supply. Don't worry. I am the Vorta. I will take care of you all."

Sisko and his officers have found another cavern and set up camp there, drying their uniforms. There's not much Garak can do for O'Brien's pants, as his sewing kit went down with the ship. Dax is awake; her prognosis is guarded, but good. Bashir believes she and the symbiont will recover. Sisko tries to keep her spirits up by pretending they're in a hotel. She responds by playfully complaining that the bed is as hard as a rock. (It is a rock.) "I will get you out of here, old man," Sisko tells her. "I promise."

The next day, Garak and Nog go out to scan for fresh water and vegetation. Garak notices that Nog is staying behind him. He isn't about to give the Cardassian his back, not since that business on Empok Nor when Garak held him hostage. "Cadet, there may be hope for you yet," Garak approves. After a few more steps, he sees something on his tricorder. Then three Jem'Hadar shimmer into view. They've been captured.

Garak and Nog are brought to the Jem'Hadar base camp, where Keevan conducts the questioning from his bed. Garak gives a false name and spins a story about being captured by the USS Centaur before crashing here, but Keevan produces the Starfleet combadge that was taken off Garak. "I was hoping you weren't going to ask me about that," Garak admits. Keevan asks if there's a doctor in their unit. Garak answers yes, causing Nog to hiss, "Garak!" "Don't be too hard on him, young man," Keevan tells him. "He just saved your life." The prisoners are taken to a secure area. Keevan gives Remata'Klan a mission. He is to find the Starfleet unit, assess their strength, and report back without engaging them.

Although Weyoun is still blocking the transmission of his stories, Jake is determined to do his job anyway. He interviews Kira and Odo in the security office, asking them about the Vorta "facilitators" who are being sent to Bajor. Kira explains for the sake of Jake's nonexistent readers that Bajor has been cut off from all outside trade, with nowhere to turn to for what they need except the Dominion. The facilitators are supposed to provide technical assistance. "How do you respond to critics like Vedek Yassim who say that by welcoming a group of Vorta to Bajor, you're taking the first step towards Dominion occupation?" Jake asks. Odo replies that he's been told the facilitators will be unarmed and unaccompanied by Jem'Hadar. The next question for Odo is about his "validation" of the occupation by joining the ruling council. "The Dominion doesn't need my validation," Odo declares. "They're here and they're not leaving. Not without a fight, at least."

Jake then asks them if they'll be at the demonstration tomorrow, which Vedek Yassim has organized to protest the Dominion's occupation of the station. It's the first Kira or Odo have heard of it, and they're alarmed; it's all the excuse Dukat will need for a security crackdown. "I'll talk to Yassim," Kira says. "So you're going to abolish the right to protest here on the station?" Jake asks. Odo and Kira terminate the interview.

O'Brien thinks he might be able to create a crude transmitter, though he has no power source for it. Then Ensign Gordon tells Sisko that Garak and Nog haven't reported in. With Gordon and Lt. Neeley, Sisko and O'Brien go out to look for them. Neeley registers lifeforms nearby, lifeforms which she believes are Jem'Hadar. The Starfleet officers move casually toward an outcropping that will shield them from the Jem'Hadar's position, trying to act as if they have no idea they're being watched. However, a Jem'Hadar suddenly begins shooting at them, and they dive for cover, returning fire as best they can.

There is a furious exchange of blasts before Remata'Klan gets control of his men, ordering them to stop. "Your orders were clear. You were not to engage the enemy." Limara'Son admits that he fired first; Remata'Klan promptly reduces him in rank to Sixth. None of the others can shroud, so they withdraw. Sisko and O'Brien see the retreat. "Why aren't they camouflaged?" wonders O'Brien. "That's a good question," Sisko replies. "Let's hope the answer is something in our favor."

Remata'Klan explains calmly to Keevan that one of his men could not restrain himself from firing on the Starfleet officers, due to anxiety from lack of white. He insists that he has dealt with the matter, which is his responsibility. "I may not be First, but I am the unit leader. You may discipline me, but only I discipline the men. That is the order of things." Keevan finally acquiesces. Once the others are dismissed, he tells Remata'Klan, "You've done well, Third. You may yet become First. Now, I have a new task for you."

Kira meets with Vedek Yassim, a fiery older woman who speaks with firm conviction. "The Dominion is evil. And the Prophets tell us that evil must be opposed." Kira agrees, but tells her that protests and demonstrations will only cause trouble for everyone. Faced with Yassim's direct questions about what to do to oppose the Dominion, and what Kira herself will do, Kira answers that she's not certain there's anything anyone can do right now. "Fighting isn't an option. This is different than the Cardassian Occupation." "Is it?" challenges Yassim. "The Cardassians are in control of the station, Bajoran freedoms are being curtailed one by one, and soon the first wave of alien troops will be landing on our world." Kira corrects her, saying it's only unarmed Vorta facilitators.

"Can't you see what is happening to you?" Yassim asks. "You're becoming an apologist for them. A defender of evil. What will it take to make you act, Kira? To stop accepting them and start fighting back?" "Vedek, you just don't understand," Kira begins, but Yassim stands up. "You are right. I don't. Maybe tomorrow, we will both understand."

Sisko and O'Brien are planning strategy in case the Jem'Hadar attack the cave, when Neeley calls to say that a Jem'Hadar soldier has approached her and wants to talk to the captain. Remata'Klan is escorted in, unarmed, and he and Sisko are left alone together (except for Dax, "sleeping" on her rock). He gives Sisko the message that Garak and Nog are being held prisoner by his troop, but they will exchange them for Sisko and their doctor. The doctor is to treat the Vorta, who wishes to speak with Sisko. Sisko is suspicious, thinking aloud that the Vorta may simply want to get higher-ranking prisoners. "Would you make a deal like that?" Remata'Klan replies no, and he shouldn't.

Sisko asks to speak to someone who can negotiate with him, but learns that there is no First, or Second either. "I command the unit," Remata'Klan replies. "Under the Vorta," Sisko says. Probingly, he adds, "It must be hard for a soldier to take orders from a Vorta." Remata'Klan is unmoved. "The Vorta command the Jem'Hadar. That is the order of things." Sisko tells him about the mission he was on once with a troop of Jem'Hadar, and how their Vorta ended up being killed by the First. Remata'Klan can't help showing his surprise, but notes that such things only happen in units that have lost discipline. "You mean like a unit marooned on the shores of a deserted planet?" asks Sisko.

Remata'Klan gets back to the matter at hand. He gives Sisko his Vorta's assurance that neither Sisko nor the doctor will be harmed, and they will be free to go after the meeting. "The word of a Vorta carries very little weight with me," Sisko replies. "Can I have your assurance that we'll be free to go, Remata'Klan?" "I have been ordered to let you go free after your meeting," Remata'Klan says. "You can be assured that I will obey that order." That's good enough for Sisko, who tells him that they'll make the trade in one hour.

"Sounded like you were actually getting through to him for a minute there," Dax comments after Remata'Klan leaves. She asks if Sisko thinks he can actually turn Remata'Klan against his Vorta. Sisko doesn't know, but he does know that there must be at least nine Jem'Hadar on the planet. "Without Nog and Mr. Garak on our side, that gives them almost a two to one advantage." "I think I'd like to check out now," Dax says. Sisko can relate to that. "So would I, old man."

It's time for Vedek Yassim's protest, but she hasn't shown up, and it looks as if nothing is happening. Kira is relieved. "The last thing I want to do is start arresting Bajoran civilians here on the Promenade." Jake arrives, saying he got a message from the vedek that the protest was starting now. A moment later, they hear a scream, and see Yassim standing on the upper rail of the second level, a rope around her neck. She meets Kira's eyes. "Evil must be opposed!" the old woman declares loudly. With that, she steps off the rail. Kira, Odo, and Jake watch in horror, unable to do anything as the body swings before their eyes.

The exchange is made, and Sisko and Bashir are taken to the Jem'Hadar camp, where Bashir quickly assesses Keevan's injuries and decides that he needs immediate surgery. The Jem'Hadar crowd around, not to protect the Vorta, but to watch.

Kira gets up the morning after Yassim's death. This time she goes about her routine mechanically, making eye contact with nobody. Finally, as she looks around Ops and sees nothing but enemies, she realizes what she has become. And she can't stay there. Without saying a word, Kira leaves her post.

Keevan wakes after the surgery is complete; he will recover. He has Remata'Klan take the other Jem'Hadar outside, and shows Sisko and Bashir the case of white. Inside, there is only one intact vial, for ten Jem'Hadar soldiers. "When it's gone," he says, "my hold over them will be broken, and they'll become nothing more than senseless, violent animals. They'll kill everyone they can -- me, you, the rest of your men -- and finally turn on each other." Keevan then informs Sisko and Bashir that he will order the Jem'Hadar to attack the Starfleet camp in the morning. However, he will also give Sisko their plan of attack, so that the Starfleet officers will be able to kill them all.

"They're your own men," says Bashir, appalled. "Yes," Keevan says softly. He points to the Jem'Hadar's communications equipment, which a Starfleet engineer should have more luck repairing than a Jem'Hadar suffering from withdrawal, and goes on to say that after the Jem'Hadar are dead, he will give them the com system and surrender as a prisoner of war. "And you spend the war resting comfortably as a Starfleet POW, while your men lie rotting on this planet," Bashir says. "I see we understand each other," Keevan replies. "I'm going to order the Jem'Hadar to attack your position tomorrow, regardless of whether you agree to my terms or not. So you can either kill them, or they'll kill you. Either way, they're coming."

Sisko shows the plan later to his people, who share his distaste for the situation. Only Garak seems to have no problem with it. In his opinion, the human rules of war serve only to make victory harder to achieve. Sisko lets them voice their opinions, but in the end, the decision is his. "Mr. Garak is right. We are at war. Given the choice between us and them, there is no choice." That ends the discussion. "I'd say good luck," Dax tells Sisko as the others leave, "but I don't think you need it." "Say it anyway, old man," he replies. "I'm still hoping there's another way out of this." "In that case, good luck, Benjamin."

Kira is standing at the rail where Yassim stood in her last moments, when Odo approaches to tell her that Damar has been trying to contact her. Kira shows him her combadge, in her fist. "I keep going over and over it in my mind, and I can't believe that I stood there ready to use force to stop a protest against the Dominion. Me. When I was in the resistance, I despised people like me. I'm a collaborator, Odo." Odo reminds her that she's doing what Sisko wanted her to do, remain neutral. But Kira can no longer do that. "We used to have a saying in the resistance: if you're not fighting them, you're helping them. Half the Alpha Quadrant is out there right now, fighting for my freedom. But not me. What am I doing? Eating a full meal every day, sleeping in a soft bed. I even write reports for the murderers who run this station."

Odo points out that it's not easy for him either, to sit with Dukat and Weyoun while they plot the Federation's destruction, but Kira tells him she's not accusing him of anything. "No, this is about me. This is about being able to get up in the morning and look in the mirror and not feel nauseated by what I see. Yassim was right. I have to do something. I have to start fighting back." Odo warns her that active resistance will trigger a crackdown. But Kira is determined. She'll even fight Odo on this if she has to. "All right," Odo says at last. "But let's find a more discreet place to plan the New Resistance."

Remata'Klan leads his men through a box canyon, where, just as planned, Sisko and his officers are waiting in ambush. Suddenly Sisko's voice rings down. "Remata'Klan! I want to talk!" Calling back his agreement, Remata'Klan goes to meet Sisko, who informs him of the ambush. "To fight a battle under these circumstances would serve no purpose. I'm prepared to offer terms." He proposes that he have Bashir sedate the Jem'Hadar and keep them alive until they're rescued, then put them in medical stasis until a new supply of white can be secured. "The Vorta did not give me the option to surrender," Remata'Klan replies. "Keevan's betrayed you," Sisko tells him. "He gave us your entire plan of attack last night."

The Jem'Hadar does not look entirely surprised. He knew that approaching the Starfleet camp through this canyon was a deliberate tactical error on Keevan's part. "Despite what Keevan may think, the Jem'Hadar are often one step ahead of the Vorta." Sisko says they can stay that way by surrendering, but Remata'Klan is firm. He has his orders. "Keevan doesn't deserve the unwavering loyalty you're giving him," Sisko argues. "He does not have to earn my loyalty, Captain," Remata'Klan replies quietly. "He has had it from the moment I was conceived. I am a Jem'Hadar. He is a Vorta. It is the order of things." Sisko stares at him in despair. "Do you really want to give up your life for 'the order of things'?" And Remata'Klan looks back, calm in the face of doom. "It is not my life to give up, Captain. And it never was."

There's nothing more to say. They each go back to their respective groups. The battle begins. But it's a short one; Sisko and his crew have the Jem'Hadar in a crossfire. When the clouds of dust clear away, all the Jem'Hadar lie dead on the canyon floor. The Starfleet officers haven't escaped unscathed: Gordon is dead. Going down to survey the bodies, Sisko looks up and sees Keevan picking his way through the canyon, carrying the communications gear.

"You know, Captain," the Vorta comments, "if I had had just two more vials of white, you never would have had a chance." Sisko stares at him, barely containing his loathing. All he can do, however, is have O'Brien take Keevan to base camp and start work on the com system, while Neeley forms a burial detail.

  • This episode was shot after "Sons and Daughters", because the logistics for its location scenes worked out better that way.
  • Location filming took place in a rock quarry in Sun Valley, north of Los Angeles. The "ocean" was actually a small pond at the bottom of the quarry; it was enhanced in postproduction. The temperatures were brutally hot, causing much suffering especially for the actors playing Jem'Hadar.
  • The original ending included the rescue of Sisko's crew by the Rotarran.
  • "Rocks and shoals" is a British slang term for military justice.