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The Search, Part I

Production no.: 447
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore
Story by: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: Kim Friedman
Stardate: 48212.4 
First satellite airdate: September 24, 1994
Salome Jens ............
Martha Hackett .......
John Fleck ...............
Kenneth Marshall ....
Female Shapeshifter

Kira, in command of the station, holds a briefing in Ops. The situation is grim: according to all simulations, the Jem'Hadar can take over the station within two hours, not even time enough to get reinforcements from Bajor. O'Brien thinks two hours are optimistic. Kira suggests that they can resort to guerrilla tactics, but Odo doesn't believe there'd be much of a station left by the time reinforcements arrived. Dax sums it up: they can either abandon the station and make a stand on Bajor, or collapse the entrance to the wormhole. Kira is searching for a third alternative when an alarm sounds.

There is a large subspace surge nearby, almost inside the shield perimeters. Dax thinks it might be a cloaked ship, and Kira orders a red alert. Then the ship decloaks, revealing itself as a smallish Federation starship of a design none of them have seen before. "A Federation ship with a cloaking device?" marvels O'Brien. The ship hails them. To their astonishment, Sisko is commanding it. "Hello, Major. Sorry to startle you, but I wanted to test the Defiant's cloaking device." "The Defiant?" Kira queries. "I've brought back a little surprise for the Dominion," Sisko announces.

The officers convene in the wardroom. Sisko tells them about the Defiant, which is officially an escort vessel, but actually a warship. "I thought Starfleet didn't believe in warships," says Kira. Sisko replies, "Desperate times breed desperate measures, Major." The Defiant was built five years ago as a prototype, designed to fight the Borg. However, Starfleet abandoned the project due to some design flaws, as well as the lessening of the Borg threat. The Defiant, Sisko admits, is overgunned and overpowered for a ship its size. "And this is the ship that Starfleet sends us to fight off an attack by the Dominion?" Kira asks, incredulously.

"We're not going to fight the Dominion, Major," Sisko tells her. "At least, not yet, anyway. Our mission is to take the Defiant into the Gamma Quadrant and try to find the leaders of the Dominion -- the Founders. We have to convince them that the Federation does not represent a threat to them." Bashir asks what if the Founders don't believe them. "That's why I asked for the Defiant," Sisko says. "She may have flaws, but she has teeth. And I want the Dominion to know that we can and will defend ourselves if necessary."

They are joined by a female Romulan and a human Starfleet security officer, who tells Sisko he's posted two guards at the Defiant's docking port. Odo bristles -- he wasn't told about this. Sisko introduces the woman as Subcommander T'Rul. She is here to operate the cloaking device, which was loaned to Starfleet by her government. T'Rul makes a curt announcement about keeping unauthorized personnel away from the cloaking device, and leaves. The man is friendlier; he introduces himself as Lt. Commander Michael Eddington of Starfleet Security. Odo seems distinctly chilly toward him, and stays behind as everyone is dismissed.

"You needn't brace yourself to give me unpleasant news, Commander," he tells Sisko. "I'll save you the trouble: I've been relieved as Chief of Security." Sisko follows him out of the room, telling Odo he's still in charge of all non-Starfleet security matters on the station. In Starfleet matters, he is to coordinate with Eddington. Odo is not exactly mollified by this. "I'm sorry, Odo," Sisko says sincerely. "This wasn't my idea." He fought it all the way up to the chief of Starfleet security herself, but the decision was final. Starfleet has had concerns regarding recent security breaches, and Sisko reminds Odo that his resistance to following Starfleet regulations has something to do with it as well. "I think there might be a simpler explanation, Commander," Odo says bluntly. "I think Starfleet decided to bring in someone they could trust -- someone besides the shapeshifter." Sisko denies that it's a racial issue, but says he understands how Odo must feel about this. "I don't require your understanding," Odo retorts coldly. "My resignation will be logged within the hour."

Sisko enters his quarters, catching Jake taking a little pudding break in the middle of unpacking. "So is it good to be home?" Sisko asks. "Yeah, I can't wait to sleep in my own bed again," Jake replies, and Sisko is caught by surprise at the fact that he has actually come to think of "this Cardassian monstrosity" as home. He wonders when that happened. Jake believes it was when his father took his priceless collection of ancient African art out of storage on Earth. "When you took it out of storage so you could bring it here, it meant that Earth wasn't home anymore. This was." Father and son share a warm moment.

Odo is staring out a window at the stars from the Promenade's second level when Kira approaches him and tells him that the provisional government wants him to go along to the Gamma Quadrant as an official Bajoran representative, and to size up the threat the Dominion poses. Odo is not fooled for a second. "You're the military expert, Major, not me. And I doubt that the provisional government contacted you and asked for my presence on this mission. If I'm not mistaken, this is a misguided attempt to make me feel better."

"Maybe it is," Kira admits. "Maybe I'm your friend. And maybe I want you to see that you are still needed here, no matter what some idiot Starfleet admiral might think." When Odo doesn't reply to that, she tells him, "The Defiant leaves at seven hundred hours," and leaves him lost in thought.

A nervous Quark has a meeting with Sisko in the commander's office, unable to believe that Sisko wants him to come along on the mission. "You're joking with me, aren't you? Having a little fun with Quark?" But Sisko is quite serious. It was through Quark that the Grand Nagus established a trade agreement with the Karemma -- a member race of the Dominion, who may be able to help them contact the Founders. Quark tries to foist it onto Rom. "Rom only has a son to think about, I have a business!" Sisko is adamant, but Quark still refuses. He does not want to repeat his experience of being captured by the Jem'Hadar, and Sisko can't legally force him.

That is when Sisko reveals his trump card: the sceptre of the Grand Nagus. He has actually met with Zek, who agreed that unless peaceful contact is established with the Founders, this might be the end of business opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant. The Nagus loaned him the sceptre to convince Quark of his endorsement. Defeated, Quark finally agrees, kissing the Ferengi head on the sceptre as his pledge, at Sisko's insistence.

Later, Dax enters the wardroom, where Sisko is studying a map of the Gamma Quadrant. O'Brien has okayed the Defiant for the mission, though he has a long maintenance list. Dax asks what are the odds that they will succeed in their mission. "Slim," Sisko admits. "But better odds than fighting off a Jem'Hadar assault on this station. And if the station falls, then Bajor falls, and I will not let that happen." Dax notes that she hadn't thought she would see him so passionate again after Jennifer died. Sisko says he would have agreed with her until two months ago when he went to be debriefed at Starfleet Headquarters, where he used to dream of becoming an admiral. "Curzon always thought that was very funny," Dax smiles. "...What I mean is, he could never see a set of admiral's stars on your collar. He thought that just making the decisions would never satisfy you. You had to implement them, see the results, face the consequences. Curzon always thought you were the kind of man who had to be in the thick of things, not behind some desk at headquarters." "He was a smart old man, wasn't he?" Sisko says.

The next morning, the Defiant makes ready to depart, with everyone on board, including Quark. Just as they're about to leave, O'Brien says there's someone in the airlock -- Odo, who asks to come aboard. "I'm here at the request of the Bajoran government." Kira and Sisko smile as he grants permission. And as soon as Odo is on it, the ship pulls away from the station, and enters the wormhole. There, it cloaks, and heads for the Karemma system.

Bashir shows Odo to his quarters, which he'll have to be sharing with Quark, since most of the crew quarters don't have life support yet. After Bashir leaves, Quark chatters to Odo, happy just to have someone, anyone, to talk to. Odo ignores him completely, setting down his bucket, until finally he interrupts Quark, his voice harsh. "I have been holding this shape for sixteen hours. I have to revert back to my liquid state, but I don't want you to watch, and gawk at me." Quark tries to be both accommodating and placating, but Odo actually roars at him. "I have no interest in speaking to you, or in listening to your witless prattle. So stay out of my way, or you'll regret the day you ever met me!" With that, he morphs into his bucket.

O'Brien tells Sisko that two Jem'Hadar ships have been detected on scanners, headed this way, which provides Sisko with an opportunity to see whether the Dominion ships can see through the cloaking device. The Defiant maintains course and speed; the Jem'Hadar ships pass by, but then head back towards them. Sisko gives orders to prepare to decloak and engage in battle; however, T'Rul suddenly says they might not have actually been spotted. Since a cloaked vessel radiates a slight subspace variance at warp speeds (something she admits her people have not been eager to reveal), she suggests dropping out of warp. Sisko says, "Do it." The ship stops, and everyone watches tensely as the Jem'Hadar ships begin searching, scanning with an anti-proton beam. T'Rul doesn't know if that will penetrate the cloak. Sisko has her cut main power. Finally, after another long, nerve-wracking moment, the two Jem'Hadar ships resume their original course. Everyone can breathe at last. "First thing to go right in the Gamma Quadrant in a long time," Sisko observes in relief. "Let's hope it's not the last," says Kira.

The Defiant reaches the Karemma homeworld, and Quark does his thing, speaking to a Karemma official named Ornithar, who is mainly interested in appraising everything he sees on the bridge. Quark tells Ornithar that the Ferengi will increase purchases of tulaberry wine in exchange for the Karemma's aid, and he has considerable leeway to bargain. "The terms are not the issue," Ornithar says. "I cannot help you locate the Founders because I do not know who they are, or if they even exist." And this is how he likes it. "If the Founders exist, they clearly do not wish to be contacted. And that is good enough for me." Sisko asks who their contact is, and Ornithar says the Karemma's contact with the Dominion is through the Vorta. "All I know is that the Vorta say to do something, and you do it...Because if you do not, they will send in the Jem'Hadar. And then you die." The Karemma do only what they are told, and they have not been told to help Sisko's mission.

This is going nowhere, until Quark jumps back in, saying the Ferengi will stop purchasing tulaberry wine immediately. Ornithar actually looks concerned by this, and Sisko takes the opening. "If you lost such a valuable contract with the Alpha Quadrant, it might displease the Vorta. They may even send the Jem'Hadar to find out what happened." In reply, Ornithar accesses a computer on the surface and brings up a starchart, showing them the Callinon system, where there is an unmanned subspace relay on the seventh planet. This is where the Karemma send their communications to the Dominion, and they make it a point not to know where the signals go from there.

Odo steps forward, staring raptly at a point on the starchart. "What is that?" he asks, indicating a symbol. Ornithar tells him it's the Omarion Nebula. "The Omarion Nebula," Odo repeats softly, as if in a trance, and falls back into silence. Having fulfilled his role in the mission, Quark tells Sisko he'd like to stay behind here. He will get passage home on the next freighter going through the wormhole. Sisko wishes him luck; Quark says, "Same to you, Commander," and exits as Sisko orders a course laid in for the Callinon system.

That night, Sisko is in bed, trying to sleep, when Kira pays a visit. She's worried about Odo, and Sisko admits that he is too, but doesn't know what to do about it. "What the hell is wrong with Starfleet?" Kira asks hotly. "How could they do this to him?" Sisko says it's been a long time coming. "Starfleet has never been happy with the Constable. They've been pressing me to replace him for the last two years." And it goes beyond just the fact that Odo used to work for the Cardassians. Starfleet simply doesn't like Odo's style. "You know Odo. He enjoys thumbing his nose at authority. He files reports when he feels like it. His respect for the chain of command is minimal." And while Sisko doesn't agree with their decision, he does understand it. "I want him to stay as much as you do," he tells Kira. "But he has to want to stay." He is called then to the bridge by T'Rul. They have reached the Callinon system.

Sensors confirm that the relay station is unmanned, with apparently very few security measures. Dax and O'Brien will beam down, find what they need, and get out. The ship decloaks for three seconds to let them through, and it doesn't appear as if they've been detected. Dax and O'Brien find themselves in a central computer room, where O'Brien quickly gets into the main directory. The fact that it was so easy makes them a little nervous, but they don't seem to have tripped any security protocols.

A short time later, they alert the Defiant that they've found a communications log of recent outgoing transmissions; they seem to go mostly to one particular point. Dax is sending the coordinates when the lights go out and the monitors go dead. The Defiant has lost contact with them, and can't beam them up, as a shield has appeared around the outpost. And there's even worse news: three Jem'Hadar ships are headed this way. In order to punch through the shield, the Defiant would have to decloak to use phasers.

"We can't just leave them there," says Bashir, but T'Rul tells him they should do exactly that. "We came here to locate the Founders, not to fight the Jem'Hadar over two expendable crew members." "No one is expendable," Bashir argues. But as the Jem'Hadar ships are about to close in, Sisko makes the tough decision, to leave Dax and O'Brien behind and head for the coordinates Dax sent.

Into the ensuing silence, Bashir asks what will happen to Dax and O'Brien. Sisko believes they'll be held for interrogation, and Dax will probably use the opportunity to contact the Founders. He calls Odo to the bridge to discuss security matters, but, astonishingly, Odo interrupts. "I'm presently indisposed, Commander. Please find someone else for the job." Sisko decides to have a talk with him, but Kira volunteers to go instead. T'Rul detects three Jem'Hadar ships, and Sisko gives orders to drop out of warp and cut main power to wait until they pass.

Odo doesn't answer his door chime, so Kira just goes in, and finds him staring intently at Ornithar's star chart on a monitor. He tells her he would appreciate being left alone right now. "Well, you've tried being alone," Kira says, "and it hasn't done any good. So maybe it's time to stop brooding and start talking." Odo looks at her in annoyance. "Are you the ship's counselor now?" "No," she says firmly. "I'm your friend. You know, the one who comes to you when she needs help. I'm just trying to return the favor." Odo says she can do so by giving him a shuttlecraft and letting him go. Caught off guard, Kira asks where the hell he thinks he's going to go. "The Omarion Nebula," Odo says. He doesn't know why, he just knows he has to.

Struggling to make sense of Odo's behavior, Kira asks him what's going on. "Ever since we've come into the Gamma Quadrant," he confesses at last, "I've had this feeling, of being drawn somewhere, pulled by some instinct to a specific place. The Omarion Nebula." And he has no idea why. Kira tries promising that Odo can follow his impulse after the mission is complete, but Odo turns on her in wild desperation. "No, not after we've contacted the Founders, now! I have to leave now!" Kira is attempting to persuade him when the ship rocks, and a bulkhead is blown in on top of them.

The Defiant is under attack, and Sisko orders T'Rul to decloak, raise shields, and prepare to fire. As the Jem'Hadar continue to pound the ship mercilessly, the power coupling for the warp drive is destroyed, and the helm officer is killed; Bashir takes over. One Jem'Hadar ship is blown to bits, and the others regroup. Meanwhile, Odo throws a large beam off Kira, who is only bruised. They try to clear a path through the wreckage, as three more Jem'Hadar ships appear, and Sisko gives orders to try to escape at full impulse.

Odo and Kira argue about their destination; she says their duty is to get to the bridge, but he wants to head for the shuttles. Then three Jem'Hadar soldiers materialize in front of them. On the smoke-filled bridge, five more beam on, and though Sisko, Bashir, and T'Rul fight valiantly, it's clear they will soon be completely overwhelmed. In the corridor, Kira's head is grazed by a burst of phaser fire, and she fades out into unconsciousness.

When Kira comes to, she is in a shuttlecraft, with Odo piloting. Never taking his eyes off his console, he tells her that the ship was boarded, and she was wounded, before he got them to the shuttle. The Defiant was dead in space when they left, surrounded by Jem'Hadar ships. Odo doesn't know what happened to Sisko or Bashir. Now, they are approaching the Omarion Nebula. Kira argues at first that he should have taken them back to the wormhole, but sees that she won't get anywhere, so she drops it and asks if he's found anything. Odo nods slowly. Reading the monitor, she sees a class-M planet ahead with no star system.

There is no sun to light their path as they land and make their way to a strange-looking amber lake. Kira watches Odo stop by the lake and gaze at it. Then suddenly, the liquid in the lake begins to form itself into separate humanoid shapes, wearing simple tunics, with faces similar to Odo's. One, who looks to be female, steps toward Odo.

"Welcome home," she says.

To be continued...

  • The Defiant was named the Valiant in its planning stages; the name was changed because it was too similar to Voyager. The ship was brought in, according to producers, because they felt runabouts were not enough to defend against the Dominion, and because it would allow many crew members to have adventures away from the station at the same time. It also had more filming room than the runabout set.
  • Eddington was named after a character in In Harm's Way, a favorite movie of Ron Moore's. He was initially conceived as an "alternate regular" for when Colm Meaney went off to do movies.
  • T'Rul was originally supposed to be a semi-regular fixture aboard the Defiant, but it was felt that the character did not provide much in the way of story material, so she was never seen again after this two-parter.
  • Odo's new uniform, with the high collar and belt, was based on the look of his mirror-universe outfit in "Crossover", which Rene Auberjonois had liked.
  • This is the first episode in which the wardroom was seen.