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The Ship

Production no.: 500
Teleplay by: Hans Beimler
Story by: Pam Wigginton & Rick Cason
Directed by: Kim Friedman
Stardate: 50049.3 
First satellite airdate: October 5, 1996
Kaitlin Hopkins ....
F.J. Rio ...............
Hilary Shepard .....

An away team from DS9 is conducting a mineral survey to determine the feasibility of mining Torga IV, an uninhabited planet in the Gamma Quadrant. O'Brien, climbing a steep dune with his engineering underling Muniz, sits down to point out a particular rock. Muniz jokingly accuses him of only stopping to catch his breath. O'Brien protests that he was climbing mountains in Ireland before Muniz was born. "They have gently sloping hills in Ireland," Muniz corrects. "No mountains."

Also on the surface are Sisko, Dax, Worf, and a crewman named T'Lor. Dax confirms that the planet is definitely worth mining; the area they're in has a very rich vein of cormaline. Worf's opinion is that supply lines would be difficult but not impossible to maintain. Then they are contacted by Ensign Hoya, who is commanding the runabout in orbit with two other crew members. She tells Sisko sensors have detected a ship dropping out of warp, falling into the gravitational pull of the planet. It should enter the atmosphere near their position. As Sisko and the others watch, they hear an explosion. Hoya can't determine if there are survivors, so Sisko has her beam him and the away team to the crash site.

There, upside down and half-buried in the rocky ground, is a Jem'Hadar warship. Externally, the only damage Dax can find is what looks like a crushed guidance thruster. O'Brien and Muniz find a large hatch on the underbelly (for landing troops). Sisko and company open it up and head carefully inside. They explore, and find that the Jem'Hadar inside are all dead, and so is the Vorta that was with them. According to Dax's tricorder, they died hours ago, every bone in their bodies shattered due to an apparent inertial damper failure. O'Brien is impressed by the fact that the ship survived the impact.

The ship has no chairs or other amenities, nor any EPS conduits or anything similar that O'Brien recognizes. Sisko wonders what a Jem'Hadar ship is doing here, three weeks from the nearest Dominion outpost. He asks if they can possibly use the runabout's tractor beam to haul it into orbit. "This would be the greatest intelligence find in the last ten years. We're not going to leave it here to rust. What do you say, Chief?" "We're not going to haul it out with a runabout," O'Brien says. Sisko replies, "Then we need something with a little more muscle."

Back on DS9, Odo takes both Quark and Bashir in to see Kira. It seems Quark imported some Regalian fleaspiders for Bashir, who wanted to synthesize a drug from their venom to improve Kira's circulation. The problem is that no permit was obtained; and also, Quark used the opportunity to illegally ship some dangerous aphrodisiac liquid crystals along with them. Both Quark and Bashir are in trouble over this, but Kira leaves them to work it out. She is taking the Defiant to Torga IV.

O'Brien and Muniz have an idea how to fire up the ship's thrusters to loosen it a bit from the rock. Meanwhile, Worf, Dax, and T'Lor have buried the bodies. Then Hoya calls from the runabout, which is coming under attack from another Jem'Hadar ship. Sisko and the away team watch in dismay as the runabout appears in the atmosphere and burns up, destroyed with all hands.

Sisko orders everyone to retreat inside the ship, just as Jem'Hadar start beaming down and firing at them. T'Lor is killed, and Muniz is wounded in the stomach. Of course, the Jem'Hadar can beam inside, but they aren't doing it yet. Sisko's people move to the command center, where Sisko tries to take a look at Muniz' injury, but Muniz waves him off. "I'm all right, Captain. I've had worse transporter burns." Unfortunately, T'Lor had the only medkit when he was killed. O'Brien tends to Muniz, who lets out a groan after Sisko passes out of earshot. "'I'm all right, Captain,'" the Chief mocks. "Always kissing up to the officers, aren't you, Muniz?" "I'm just following your example," Muniz smiles weakly. "You're my hero." O'Brien tells him the Defiant will be here in two and a half days. "Don't worry, Jefe," Muniz says. "I'll get you through this."

Dax brings the only portable power generator they have, while Muniz, still bleeding, hands tools to O'Brien, who gets the emergency lights on, then attends to Muniz again. Sisko has found two headsets that look to be virtual sensory displays, one for the Vorta, one for the Jem'Hadar First. Just then a voice hails them. "Captain Sisko, my name is Kilana. I'm the Vorta in charge of the Jem'Hadar troops surrounding you. If you touch the triangular green panel on any of the control consoles, you'll be able to speak to me." Sisko does so, and replies to her. The Vorta wants to talk, and proposes that they meet, with one escort each. Sisko agrees.

He and Kilana meet some way away from the ship, with Worf and a Jem'Hadar covering each other. Kilana, of course, is the typical Vorta, pleasant and slightly oily. "So let me 'cut to the chase'. I believe that is the correct expression. This is our ship. We want it back." "Was your ship," Sisko corrects. "Now it's mine." The Vorta acts surprised. "Captain, I'm a little disappointed. That's the attitude of a thief, not a Starfleet captain with a reputation for integrity." Sisko claims salvage rights, which Kilana says is an interesting position, but one which the Dominion doesn't recognize. "What may be even more to the point, we have you completely surrounded and outnumbered." Meanwhile, a Jem'Hadar soldier materializes on board the ship and goes invisible.

Kilana plays innocent, apologizing for her lack of experience and claiming that this is her first mission outside the Dominion. "I know you have no reason to trust me, but I hope you'll at least try to consider my offer with an open mind." She proposes that if Sisko and company leave the ship, she will take them back to DS9 unharmed. "If you think I'm going to deliver my people into your hands without a fight, then this really must be your first mission," observes Sisko.

O'Brien and Dax are working in the command center, Muniz nearby resting, when they hear a noise, and go out to explore the corridor. They find a kind of sensor device attached to a wall. Then the Jem'Hadar attacks them. Hearing the phaser shots, Worf shouts to Sisko, who glares at Kilana and bolts for the ship. Meanwhile, Muniz shoots the Jem'Hadar as he is about to kill O'Brien. "I knew it," O'Brien says. "You've been goldbricking all along." "Like I said, you taught me everything I know," replies Muniz.

The sensor device seems to have done its job and gone dead; Dax thinks perhaps it was meant to find out their numbers and weapons, but Sisko believes the enemy knows all that already. They puzzle over why the Jem'Hadar who boarded the ship only had a knife, and why only one was sent. "There's something about this ship," Sisko realizes, "something so important that they won't risk destroying it in a full-on assault." Dax and Worf will do a structural scan of the ship to create some blueprints.

O'Brien continues to care for Muniz, who is in bad condition, though the Chief tries to act optimistic. Muniz isn't fooled. "I called you 'sir' and you didn't even flinch. I must be dying." "Now, you listen to me, Quique," O'Brien says firmly. "You're not dying unless I say you're dying. And I say you're going to make it." But Muniz still puts on a brave front for Sisko. Stepping aside with the captain, O'Brien expresses his worries about his crewman, who hasn't stopped bleeding. Sisko guesses that the Jem'Hadar weapon left an anti-coagulant in Muniz' bloodstream. But none of them will make it if they can't get the ship operational. Sisko orders O'Brien to work on the power grid and the aft turret. He will take care of Muniz.

Worf and Dax show O'Brien their scan results; the ship seems a bit different from other Jem'Hadar warships. O'Brien thinks of restoring power to the systems one at a time, though it will take a while. It's clear, though, that his mind is on Muniz. "Muniz is strong," Dax says, in an attempt to comfort him. "He'll make it." "No, he will not," Worf says bluntly. "He will not see tomorrow." From his Klingon point of view, it won't do any good to shield Muniz from the truth of his situation. "Let him prepare for death." "The hell I will!" retorts O'Brien. "His only hope is to keep fighting. If he gives up, it's over...You listen to me. That boy's life is in our hands and I won't let anybody give up on him." Dax takes Worf away to look at something they found, "and on the way, maybe we can discuss some of the finer points of diplomacy."

Muniz is now feverish, and Sisko is sponging his forehead when Kilana calls again. "Captain, you're annoyed with me. I understand. You feel betrayed. And with good reason. But I really think we should talk." She says she will come unarmed and unescorted, but won't hold Sisko to those restrictions.

Sisko comes out and holds a weapon on Kilana to hear what she has to say. Contritely, the Vorta apologizes for sending the Jem'Hadar onto the ship. "But what choice did I have? Just like you have to protect the lives of your men, I have to protect our...property. But I do hope we can put that behind us, and move on." "Move on to what?" Sisko asks. Kilana smiles. "I'm sure it's obvious by now there's something on the ship we want. You allow me and my men to retrieve the item, we'll leave. You can keep the ship." Sisko suggests that she tell him what it is, so he can bring it out to her. Kilana says she'd like to trust him, but she can't. "There's simply too much at stake for us." "We've got a lot at stake, too," replies Sisko. "I won't risk the lives of my crew." They're at an impasse. With seeming regret, Kilana announces that negotiations have ended. She then dematerializes, and explosions start going off. Sisko races back into the ship.

The explosions continue. Sisko orders O'Brien to get sensors on line while Dax cares for Muniz, who is worse and can't feel his legs. "Don't worry, they're there," she tells him. O'Brien hooks up a tricorder to the sensor array. A direct hit from the Jem'Hadar's shelling will destroy the ship, but they seem to be missing on purpose. "The Vorta doesn't want the ship," Sisko says thoughtfully. "She wants something aboard it." They try to figure out what. "Whatever it is, it's keeping us alive. Find it," Sisko tells Worf and Dax. O'Brien will charge the weapon emitter array.

Finally O'Brien gets the emitter working, but the turret is stuck and can only fire in one direction. Sisko lets him tend to Muniz again. Muniz is fading out and delirious. In his mind, he's watching a fireworks display he remembers from his childhood. "The colors -- like a thousand shooting stars." He grins at a particularly loud blast. "That was a good one, eh?" "Yeah, that was a good one," O'Brien agrees.

Dax has come up with nothing but some blanked-out information crystals. Worf brings something which may have been the Vorta's computer console. He ripped it out of the wall. Dax jokes about using it as a doorstop, but Worf doesn't find it funny. She relents; they'll see if they can get it working. O'Brien goes to check it out. Worf looks at Muniz, who is semi-conscious. "That is no way for anyone to die." "I told you, he is not going to die," retorts O'Brien, leading to another argument. Sisko has to tell them off. "You're Starfleet officers. Now start acting like it." The Captain also reprimands Dax when she makes another joke. "I know it's hot. We're filthy, tired, and we've got ten isotons of explosives going off outside, but we will never get out of this if we don't pull it together and start to act like professionals." He sets them back to their respective tasks, O'Brien on the power grid, Worf on the turret, and Dax to search the ship. "And you, Mr. Muniz," Sisko says to the delirious engineer, "your orders are to stay alive."

The barrage continues on and off for hours while O'Brien restores main power and helm control. Then he starts working on bringing engines on line. Finally they're ready to begin trying to get the ship up. They all brace themselves, and the ship starts to vibrate violently. The attempt is unsuccessful; they're forced to shut down to avoid a core breach. Now they'll have to wait for the Defiant. Sisko gives them 36 hours to make repairs.

O'Brien goes to Muniz and starts unstrapping him from the bulkhead. "I could really use your help now, Quique." He stops as Muniz slumps over, dead. O'Brien squeezes his eyes shut to stop the tears of grief. There's work to be done.

"I told Muniz he was going to make it," Sisko tells Dax later, dispiritedly. She attempts to comfort him. "That's what a captain's supposed to say." The shelling continues. "I've got to get this ship back to the station, old man," Sisko says. "Five people have died on this mission. I want to be able to tell their families why." Suddenly Dax sees something dripping to the floor nearby. She and Sisko both watch as a section of the ceiling bulges down and melts into goo. "It's a Changeling," Sisko exclaims.

The Changeling roars, but is unable to form or hold onto any coherent shape. Dax realizes it's dying. "Then we're in trouble," Sisko says. "That's what the Vorta's been looking for. A Founder. No wonder the Jem'Hadar wouldn't attack." "They couldn't risk killing one of their gods," Dax agrees. Outside, Kilana and her Jem'Hadar can hear the sounds of the Founder's life fading away. Sisko and Dax watch it turn into a pile of black ash. The bombing stops.

Sisko is gearing up for a battle when Kilana suddenly materializes on the ship, nearby. She is alone and unarmed; her attitude is somber and defeated. Her Jem'Hadar have killed themselves, because they allowed a Founder to die. Dax goes to check her story. "You should have trusted me," Kilana tells Sisko reproachfully. "How could I?" Sisko retorts. "The first word out of your mouth was a lie. This isn't your first mission outside the Dominion, is it?" "I regret saying that," Kilana replies sadly, "but my offer was genuine. All that mattered to me was the Founder." She was afraid that if she told Sisko about its presence, he might have killed the Founder or taken it hostage. "No," says Sisko. "All I wanted was the ship." "And I was willing to let you take it," Kilana says. Each of them realizes the other is telling the truth.

Dax confirms that the Jem'Hadar are dead by their own hands. "Muniz, the runabout crew, your soldiers -- they'd all still be alive if we had trusted each other," Sisko reflects, regretfully. Kilana looks at him without rancor. "I have no way of stopping you from taking the ship. All I ask is that you allow me to remove some of the Founder's remains." Sisko does, and watches as Kilana reverently scoops up some of the ashes into a ceremonial vial. "Do you have any gods, Captain Sisko?" she asks quietly. "There are things I believe in," Sisko tells her. "Duty?" the Vorta guesses. "Starfleet? The Federation? You must be pleased with yourself. You have the ship to take back to them. I hope it was worth it." "So do I," Sisko admits sincerely. Kilana beams out.

Some time later, Sisko sits in the mess hall of the Defiant as it tows the Jem'Hadar ship back. Starfleet is very pleased with the find, and is giving them all medals. But Sisko can't help recalling all the crewmembers who died on the mission. "They chose a life in Starfleet," Dax tells him comfortingly. "They knew the risks, and they died fighting for something that they believed in." "That doesn't make it any easier," Sisko says, and Dax replies, "Maybe nothing should."

Meanwhile, O'Brien is sitting in the cargo hold, with Muniz' body in a Starfleet casket. "We used a phase-conjugate graviton emitter in the tractor beam. That baby came out of the rock first time. You would've loved it, Quique." Worf comes in at that moment, and observes that O'Brien is performing "ak'voh" for his friend. "An old Klingon tradition. When a warrior dies in battle, his comrades stay with the body to keep away predators. That allows the spirit to leave the body when it is time to make the long journey to Sto'Vo'Kor." O'Brien smiles. "It's a fine tradition." Worf sits beside him. "We will both keep the predators away," he announces. O'Brien tells him, "I'm sure Quique would like that." Together, they hold vigil over the casket.

  • Muniz' line about Ireland having only gently rolling hills, no mountains, was a bit of an in-joke referring to Colm Meaney's role in the movie The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.
  • The location filming took place at the gravel pit in LA's Sand Canyon, under brutally hot temperatures.