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Production no.: 470
Written by: Gordon Dawson
Directed by: Jonathan West
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: May 20, 1995
Duncan Regehr ........
Diane Salinger ..........
William Lucking ........
Sherman Howard .....
John Doman .............
Louise Fletcher .........
John Kenton Shull .....
Harry Hutchinson .....
Kai Winn
Security Officer

Sisko is playing darts with O'Brien, who somehow can't seem to miss the bullseye. "I guess I'm just in The Zone today," the Chief says. "...The feeling that I can't lose -- that I can put the dart exactly where I want it. You know the feeling." "Not today," says Sisko ruefully. Dax then calls him to let him know he has a priority message from the Bajoran provisional government. As Sisko is leaving the bar, he runs into Bashir, who asks if the Chief is here. "He's back there, in The Zone," Sisko tells him.

Later, the commander visits Kira in her quarters as she is praying for Bareil, beside a lit lamp called a duranja, which she explains to Sisko is a lamp for the dead. Sisko has some news for her. The First Minister, Kalem Apren, has died in his sleep of heart failure. Kira asks how soon they'll appoint someone to replace him, and Sisko says they already have. Kai Winn is now the head of the provisional government.

Kira is stunned, and angry. Odo can't help but notice her mood as they are going over some station business later. Kira admits that she just got used to Winn as Kai; now she's running the entire government, which Odo agrees is not an ideal situation. The elections are next month, Kai Winn is unopposed, and Kira has the awful feeling that Winn will be elected. Odo points out that most Bajorans don't have the perspective they do on Winn. "The only thing that she cares about is her own power," Kira says. "Why can't people see that? We spent so many years fighting the Cardassians. We spent so much time hoping and praying for a Bajor that was free. Now that we've won, how can people just hand their freedom over to someone like Winn?" "It has been my observation," Odo offers, "that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice is that sometimes they make the wrong choice."

Kira is praying again in her quarters when she gets a visit from none other than Kai Winn. The Kai notices the lamp. "Have you suffered a recent loss? Or are you still mourning the death of Minister Kalem?" Kira says it's for Bareil, and they discuss his death a little. Winn has never publicly mentioned Bareil's role in the peace treaty with Cardassia, but she points out that Bareil didn't want fame or glory. Controlling herself with difficulty, Kira asks what she wants.

There is a province on Bajor called Rakantha, which was mostly farmland until the Cardassians poisoned its soil along with that of several other provinces. Now the Agricultural Ministry has developed reclamators to detoxify the soil and make it fertile again. Rakantha will be able to once more produce crops for export, and interstellar commerce will enhance Bajor's application for Federation membership. However, the reclamators were loaned to a group of farmers in Dahkur (Kira's own home province), who now refuse to return them. Their leader is Shakaar -- who led Kira's resistance cell. Winn wants Kira to convince him to return the equipment.

"You want me to go up against a man who saved my life countless times, for you?" Kira exclaims. "Not for me, child," Winn tells her reasonably. "For Bajor. I know we've had our differences in the past, but I'm asking you to put those feelings aside and think of what is best for our people." Kira still feels that Shakaar must have a good reason for acting as he has. Be that as it may, Winn tells her she doesn't want this to become a scandal; she wants it settled peacefully. "Surely we can both agree that that's a worthy goal." Reluctantly, Kira says she'll talk to him.

She beams down to Shakaar's farm, and is greeted by him after an awkward moment with a hug. They go inside to talk. Kira is amazed to hear that their old comrades Furel and Lupaza have turned farmer as well. They'll be coming in a couple of hours, Shakaar says. Kira tells him she's here on business. "I know why you're here, Nerys," he says. "I need time to think about it. All right?"

Knowing a good opportunity when he sees one, Quark has begun taking bets on O'Brien's winning streak. After the Chief beats Dax, he has to go on duty, and tells Quark he's thinking of going into the holosuites tomorrow. Quark is aghast at the thought of O'Brien going kayaking. "You're on a streak, an epic streak. If you go kayaking tomorrow, and something happens, and you damage that golden shoulder, this streak will be over. And you'll never know just how far it might have taken you. Could you really live with that?" O'Brien thinks about it, and agrees.

Later, over dinner, Shakaar and Kira reminisce with Furel and Lupaza about old times in the resistance. Finally the subject of the reclamators comes up. "Tell the Kai, or the First Minister or whatever she wants to be called these days, that the answer is no," Lupaza tells Kira firmly, and the subject is closed for now.

But after the other two are gone, Kira tells Shakaar the business with the reclamators isn't going to just go away. "I know what you're trying to do here, and I know how difficult it's been. But we need to think about what's best for Bajor." Shakaar says that he and the others waited three years for the reclamators, and were promised they could use them for at least a year. Kira argues that if the Rakantha project can get underway, Bajor can start exporting again. "It could start to change the way the rest of the galaxy looks at us. They'll stop seeing us as poor refugees and start seeing us as equals." "I don't give a damn about how the rest of the galaxy looks at us," Shakaar retorts. "We're trying to feed our own people here. You're talking about exports!" Kira proposes that he and Kai Winn could sit down together and reach some kind of agreement. She will arrange a meeting, if Shakaar is willing to at least try. Finally, he agrees.

Kira goes to see Winn in the First Minister's office, and broaches the proposal to her. Winn isn't pleased. "Did you explain to Shakaar that you were there on the direct authority of the First Minister?" "Yes," Kira replies, "but it wouldn't have mattered if I was there on behalf of the Prophets themselves. He wasn't about to just give up the equipment." Winn frowns, interpreting this to mean that there's no reasoning with Shakaar. Kira tells her that Shakaar is not unreasonable; he's desperate. But she's sure they can reach some sort of compromise. "It would seem that I have little choice," says Winn. When Kira offers to serve as intermediary, the Kai dismisses her.

Back at Shakaar's farmhouse, Kira is trying to convince him to be flexible when there is a knock on the door, and two security officers come in. Shakaar is under arrest, on the order of the First Minister. "She lied to me," Kira realizes, angry. "She's good at it, Nerys," Shakaar tells her. "Don't feel bad." He pretends to be about to go along peacefully, but then knocks one guard unconscious, and Kira takes the other down.

"This could still be explained away," Shakaar tells her. "It was a tense situation. You acted on instinct. They'll understand that, but they won't understand you coming with me. This isn't your fight, Nerys. Go home." Kira just looks at him evenly. "I am home, Shakaar. And I have been lied to by Kai Winn for the last time. She wants a fight, I'll give her one."

They meet with Furel and Lupaza in a cavern where there's a cache of weapons, stored there during the Occupation. Lupaza brings the news that Shakaar's farm has been seized, and they're scanning it for the reclamators (which Shakaar says they won't find there), and also some other members of their cell have been detained for "questioning". The rest are on their way to an old stronghold of the cell. Shakaar's plan right now is to keep moving, in order to wear down the civil police. Kira points out that some of the police used to be in the resistance as well, and may not give up so easily. "Maybe," acknowledges Shakaar. "But I really don't think they want to hunt down a group of fellow Bajorans who are just trying to defend their homes." They head off for the mountain stronghold.

O'Brien is playing a darts match against a really tough opponent -- a Vulcan named Syvar. One more bullseye, though, and the Chief will win. Leisurely, he reaches for a mug of synthale brought by Quark -- and his shoulder pops out of its socket. O'Brien is in agony. Bashir tells him he has a rotator cuff tear, and needs to go to the Infirmary for surgery. Syvar says that if O'Brien leaves the line, he forfeits the game. O'Brien desperately tries to raise his arm to throw again, but it's impossible. Quark is devastated. "All I did was hand him a drink," he says dazedly.

It's been two weeks since Kai Winn sent the militia into Dahkur Province, and neither Shakaar nor his followers has been found. Now she's asking Sisko for help. "I guess now you know how the Cardassians must have felt," he says lightly. But Winn is serious. Shakaar's defiance is catching on in some other provinces, and she has had to declare martial law and suspend local government there. Sisko notes that Shakaar is gaining support all over Bajor. "Emissary, I don't want this issue to divide my people," Winn tells him; Sisko advises her to withdraw her troops. Winn says she'll do that on the condition that Sisko provides a Federation security force to replace them. "Such an act would do much to solidify the relations between the Federation and Bajor," she offers. Sisko can't believe what he's hearing. "I'm sorry, but Federation law prevents me from interfering in Bajoran internal affairs."

"If Bajor cannot depend on the Federation," declares Winn, "we'll withdraw our application for membership." "That would be an unfortunate overreaction on your part," Sisko replies. "If I may say so, your entire response to this crisis has been an overreaction. By using the militia against your own people, you're risking civil war over a couple of soil reclamators." A fanatical gleam comes into Winn's eyes. "This is a test -- a test by the Prophets. They want to see if I'm worthy of the role they've given me as First Minister and Kai. I will not fail them. I will stop Shakaar by any means necessary."

Shakaar, Kira, and the rest of their group are scrambling through the hills, and pause so Kira can activate a device. She does, and the troops chasing them go the other way, following the false lifesign signal she has created. Shakaar decides they need to leave Dahkur, and they discuss the route to take. Then Furel speaks up for standing and fighting, and at last Kira and Shakaar agree. They'll head for Tanis Canyon, where Shakaar plans to lead the troops into a trap.

They lie in wait in the canyon, watching the troops, whose tricorders are being jammed by a dampening field. Everyone is ready for the attack. Kira recognizes the leader of the troops as Colonel Lenaris Holem of the Ornathia cell. Shakaar decides they'll need to get him in the first volley of shots. They take aim -- but neither Shakaar nor Kira can bring themselves to fire. Instead, they stand up, drop their weapons, and walk calmly down to meet Lenaris.

The colonel regards them. "I've wanted to thank you for a long time," he tells Shakaar. "I had a brother at Gallitep when you liberated the camp." He realizes now he's walked into an ambush, but says he's been in worse situations. "If you're here to ask me to surrender, you're wasting your time." "That's not why I'm here," Shakaar replies. "I want to take my people and walk out of here. I want to take them home." Suddenly, one of Lenaris' men fires, and it looks as if the situation may break into mayhem, but Lenaris, Shakaar, and Kira all frantically call out to stop anyone else from shooting. Things calm down again.

Lenaris tells Shakaar that what he's asked for is impossible. "Well, we better find a way to make it possible," urges Kira. "Because the next time someone starts shooting, we won't be able to stop it. And I'm not talking about today, I'm talking about tomorrow and the next day and the next. I am talking about the beginning of a civil war." "I didn't fight the Cardassians for twenty-five years just so I could start shooting other Bajorans," Shakaar adds. And Lenaris agrees. "Neither did I. So what do we do about it?"

Later, Lenaris walks into Kai Winn's office with both Shakaar and Kira. "I see you've brought me a pair of gifts," the Kai smiles. "How thoughtful of you." But Lenaris tells her they're not prisoners. "I'm here to enter the election," Shakaar announces. "As a candidate for the office of First Minister." "You have an interesting sense of humor," Winn remarks. But Lenaris tells her Shakaar has the support of the other army commands.

Winn studies them. "So this is a coup." "No," Kira tells her. "It's a free election. If you want to run, go ahead. But if you do, this entire incident is going to be made public. And when the people know the real facts -- when they know that you risked a civil war over a couple of pieces of farm equipment -- they're never going to trust you again. You'll still be Kai, the spiritual leader of Bajor. But your days in this office are numbered. So if I were you, I'd start packing."

O'Brien is back in Quark's after his surgery, and tries an experimental throw at the dartboard. The dart hits the board, but far from the bullseye. Bashir encourages him to try again, but O'Brien declines. "No. I can feel it. I'm out of The Zone. You know, I've played sports all my life, and I've never been in The Zone like that before. Probably never will again. But it felt good while it lasted." However, Bashir says now O'Brien might be able to finish the kayaking program, and O'Brien heads off to the holosuite. Bashir casually tosses a dart at the board -- and it bullseyes. Quark smiles. "Doctor, welcome to The Zone."

Kira is back on the station, and tells Sisko that one or two other candidates have entered the election, but Shakaar is getting very popular very fast, and it's unlikely anyone will catch him. Kai Winn has tried to make the best of it, and has even made a statement supporting Shakaar. Sisko leaves, and Kira walks over to the duranja. After a moment, she blows it out, her period of mourning over.

  • The location scenes took place at Bronson Canyon, including its caves.
  • The episode had been around since at least the second season, but was delayed due to the studio wanting to move away from stories about Bajor.