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Starship Down

Production no.: 479
Written by: David Mack & John J. Ordover
Directed by: Alexander Singer
Stardate: 49263.5 
First satellite airdate: November 11, 1995
James Cromwell .....
F.J. Rio ..................
Jay Baker ...............
Sara Mornell ...........

The Defiant is in a remote system in the Gamma Quadrant, orbiting a gas giant planet, where Sisko is meeting with a representative of the Karemma Commerce Ministry, named Hanok. Quark is along as well. The Karemma have been using the Ferengi as intermediaries to trade with the Federation, since the Dominion won't tolerate direct trade. However, says Hanok, the taxes and fees are too high, and he starts reeling off a list. Sisko looks pointedly at Quark, who's busted; it's the Ferengi, not the Federation, who have been levying all the extra charges.

Worf has the bridge while Sisko is dealing with Hanok, and he's being a hardnose about weapons drills. Meanwhile, Kira tells Dax she's fasting, as today is Ha'mara, the anniversary of the Emissary's arrival. She strongly suspects that Sisko scheduled these trade talks so that he wouldn't have to attend any ceremonies. Then an ensign, Carson, reports that two Jem'Hadar warships have entered sensor range. Worf calls Sisko to the bridge.

Hanok enters with Sisko as Worf reports that the Jem'Hadar are targeting the Karemma ship. "They're here to punish us for meeting with you," Hanok says. "If I give myself up and assume full responsibility, they may spare my ship." But Sisko isn't about to turn him over. When he hails the Jem'Hadar, the Defiant is fired on, and fires back. Sisko tells Hanok to tell his people to stay put, but the Karemma ship doesn't respond, and the Jem'Hadar go after it. The Defiant moves to intercept, firing. The Karemma ship then dives into the atmosphere of the gas giant, apparently hoping the Jem'Hadar won't follow them. But they do. And so does the Defiant, fighting the monstrous winds.

They find a layer of more manageable wind speeds, but the other ships aren't in their sensor range, which is limited by the atmosphere. Dax works on a way to increase the range, while Sisko has Hanok go down to the mess hall. They will have to target phasers manually; torpedo guidance systems are jammed by interference. Kira comes up with an echo-location trick from her resistance days, sending out modulated tetryon pulses; they'll give their position away, so they will need to alter course and speed after each one.

Hanok rejoins Quark in the mess hall. The Ferengi tries to blame the "misunderstanding" on Rom, but Hanok isn't fooled. "You cheated me, Quark. And you haven't even got the courage to admit it. If we survive this, I'll see that you never work in the Gamma Quadrant again."

The tetryon pulses finally reveal the blip of what looks like the Karemma ship. They are headed there when the Jem'Hadar ships appear and fire on the Defiant. There is another skirmish; the Jem'Hadar break off, but then the Defiant begins losing altitude. Dax heads for a Jeffries tube to do some re-routing, and O'Brien sends her one of his enlisted crewmen, Muniz. The ship continues to descend; the hull will collapse from the atmospheric pressure in less than six minutes. There's more bad news, from Worf: the phaser couplings have overloaded and will take two hours to repair. Sisko calls O'Brien with a suggestion to rig atmospheric probes with warheads from quantum torpedoes, and O'Brien says it's feasible if they take out the imaging systems.

O'Brien works with another enlisted engineer, Stevens. There is an explosion in a corridor, and a hull breach; the emergency forcefield won't hold long under the pressure. They need to seal off the deck -- and there are six people there in sickbay, as well as Dax and Muniz in the Jeffries tube.

Bashir evacuates sickbay, escorting people past a bulkhead, while Sisko lets Dax know he'll have to seal the deck in 30 seconds. Bashir is sealing the bulkhead when Dax emerges from the Jeffries tube, helping Muniz out. Bashir stops the bulkhead, but then the forcefield collapses, and the corridor fills with gas. Sisko orders Bashir to close the bulkhead; Bashir hesitates. He's able to pull Muniz to safety, and closes the bulkhead, but just before it seals, he slips through into the corridor, finds an unconscious Dax, and drags her into a turbolift shaft. He seals it, gives her a hypo, and calls the bridge, but there's no response. They're now trapped.

Thanks to Dax's efforts, the ship's power comes back online, and the Defiant is able to climb back to a higher altitude. O'Brien has one of the probes ready, and the second one will be a few more minutes. Sisko has Kira resume the search for the Karemma.

In the mess hall, Quark hasn't given up trying to salvage things with Hanok, by complimenting him on seeing through his scam. He suggests that they could pull something over on the Federation together. "You are despicable," Hanok tells him, and walks away. "I hate the Gamma Quadrant," Quark mutters to himself, frustrated.

Kira finds one of the Jem'Hadar ships, which has presumably split up with its partner to search for the Karemma. The Defiant follows it, with Sisko ordering every non-essential system shut down to lessen chances of detection. He has Worf program one of the armed probes to home in on the first metallic signature it finds -- which could be the Defiant if nothing else is found within a certain range. The probe is fired, and destroys the Jem'Hadar ship, but not before the Jem'Hadar let loose with a blast that hits the Defiant hard. Systems go down; people are tossed around. In engineering, Muniz tries calling the bridge, but O'Brien tells him to save his breath. "I don't think there's anybody left alive up there."

However, Worf and Kira are all right, as is Carson. Sisko, however, is barely conscious, suffering from a severe concussion. Carson goes to find a medic. Kira doesn't want to risk using a stimulant to revive Sisko; Worf tells her to keep him awake while he goes to the engine room to take control of the ship from there. Kira starts talking to Sisko, giving him something to focus on.

In the turbolift shaft, Dax finally comes to, and Bashir gives her the bad news. They can't crawl up the shaft, because it's flooded with gas; there's too much interference to use their combadges; and there are only a few hours left of breathable air. Dax thanks him anyway for trying to rescue her. "It's funny. A year ago, if you'd done something like this, I would've thought you were just trying to be a hero." "And now?" "Now that I know you better," Dax smiles, "I realize it was just a really stupid thing to do." Bashir chuckles. "You're welcome."

Quark and Hanok are still in the mess hall. "You're taking this too personally," Quark tells the Karemman. "Okay, I cheated you. I cheat everyone. It's business. You see what you can get away with, and you've got to figure the other guy's doing the same to you." Hanok counters that the Karemma are honest merchants who believe in set values and fair prices. "You make it sound so antiseptic," Quark complains. "Where's the bargaining, where's the scheming, where's the greed?" "Greed leads to misjudgment, and that can result in a loss of profits," Hanok maintains. But Quark sees it differently. "If there's no risk, there's no thrill. Your way is just barter. If you want to win big, you've got to be willing to play the odds. It's like gambling." But Hanok doesn't believe in gambling either; to him it's foolish to risk losing what one has.

Worf makes it to the engine room, where O'Brien greets him with relief. The Klingon takes command there, but doesn't like Muniz' reconfiguration of the helm controls, and orders him to configure them back. He also tells Stevens to operate the echo-location system. The enlisted engineers are a bit uneasy with Worf in their midst; they're used to a more informal style.

Kira finds herself babbling to Sisko about a new four-shift crew rotation she's considering. "What am I doing?" she exclaims. "I'm supposed to keep you awake, not bore you to tears. I'm sorry. I don't know why this is so hard for me. All I have to do is talk to you. I mean, what do we usually talk about?" "We talk about...work," Sisko whispers. Kira has to smile. "You're right. That is what we usually talk about. Even when we're not working. I get the feeling it's not that way between you and Dax, or you and Chief O'Brien. But then, you're not a revered figure in their religions. I know you don't like it when I talk about you as the Emissary. But that's how I think of you. And maybe that's why sometimes it's hard for me to relax around you." Sisko weakly suggests that she tell him a story, and she obliges with a Bajoran tale about "The Three Brothers Who Go to Jo'Kala".

Stevens picks up something on the echo-scanner, something which turns out to be torpedoes. They hastily take evasive action, and one torpedo misses. But the other hits -- yet it doesn't go off. It's lodged through the outer wall of the mess hall, where Quark and Hanok stare at it, stunned. Hanok is all for leaving the room, or waiting for help; Quark, however, suggests trying to defuse it. Hanok is dubious, but finds a toolkit as the torpedo starts to hum. Quark decides they need to remove the casing. "There's no lock that can't be picked."

Worf and the engineers are cut off from the torpedo; Worf orders Stevens to recalibrate the structural integrity field to minimize the strain caused by it, but Steven protests that the field generators are at their limit already. Worf tells him to do it anyway. O'Brien has a private word with him. "With all due respect, I think you're riding the men a bit hard. You have to understand, they're out of their element. They're not bridge officers, they haven't been to Starfleet Academy. They're engineers. They're used to being given problems to solve, then going ahead and figuring out how to do it...Give them a little slack, ease up on the reins. Let them do what they're good at, and give them a little encouragement now and then." "I will take it under consideration," says Worf.

As Bashir and Dax huddle together for warmth, he confesses that he used to fantasize about being stuck with her in a situation like this, only on a runabout. "If you don't mind my saying, Julian, that's a very strange fantasy," Dax comments. "It seemed the only way that you and I could spend any time alone together," Bashir admits. "You were always avoiding me." "It's just, you came on so strong," she tells him. "You never really gave me a chance to get to know you." He agrees, and reassures her that it's been a long time since he's had that particular fantasy. She says, "Oh?", and Bashir realizes something. "You sound disappointed...That's right. You enjoyed being chased, and now you miss it." "That's preposterous," Dax scoffs. "And if you start chasing after me again -- " "Don't worry, Jadzia. Now I know you liked it, I don't need to, do I?" counters Bashir, and smiles in triumph as for once she can't think of anything to say.

Worf tells Muniz and Stevens he needs a weapon, other than the remaining rigged probe, which he has other plans for. They consider the problem: phaser emitters are fused, but the phaser generator is fine. They can modify the deflector array to use as a phaser emitter, though it will overload after one shot. "I only need one shot," Worf assures them, and, relieved that they finally did something right in his eyes, they go off to do their job.

As Kira is still telling her story, she scans Sisko and realizes he's fading. "This can't happen. You can't die. You're the Emissary. There's still so much for you to do." Though she doesn't know if she should, she gives him a stimulant. "Captain," she confesses, "I know my beliefs make you uncomfortable around me sometimes, and maybe that's why you keep me at arm's length. But I don't care about that right now. And I am going to pray. Because I don't know what else to do. I'm losing you, and I can't let that happen." She takes his hand, and begins.

Muniz and Stevens finish their task, and Worf tells them, "Good work." O'Brien works the echo-scanner, but finds nothing in range. "The Jem'Hadar are out there, you can be certain of that," Worf says.

Quark and Hanok carefully lift the casing off the torpedo, but Quark can't make sense of the alien technology inside the warhead. Hanok looks at it and notes that one diode connects it to the power source while the other is the firing mechanism. He saw a design schematic once at the trade ministry; the Karemma sell these torpedoes to the Jem'Hadar. "I thought you said you never sold substandard merchandise," Quark says. "This was supposed to explode on impact, wasn't it?" "Maybe I should offer them a refund," Hanok replies, and they both start to laugh, almost hysterically.

Suddenly, though, the hum increases in pitch. They can't help but keep laughing at the realization that they have to remove the firing diode, but they don't know which one that is, and if they pick the wrong one, they die. Finally they get a grip. "It's not funny," Quark says. "We just have to pick the right one. It's fifty-fifty, better odds than you get at the Dabo table." He tells Hanok to choose one. "It's a gamble. Go with your instincts." Hanok hesitates. "You're thinking too much," Quark admonishes. "You just have to reach in and -- pick one." With that, Quark simply reaches in and plucks out a diode. And the torpedo deactivates. "I think we have a winner," Quark announces in relief.

"That was...exciting," Hanok realizes in surprise, and admits that yes, it felt good. "That's how it works," Quark tells him. "The bigger the risk, the bigger the win. You know, there's another risk you could take -- staying in business with me." "You never give up, do you?" says Hanok. Quark agrees. "Come on, Hanok. What do you say? Do you want to keep playing?" They take up their PADDs, back in business.

Kira is still praying when Sisko stirs. "What happened?" he asks groggily. Kira starts to tell him about the Jem'Hadar, but he stops her. "No, no. What happened to the three brothers?" She smiles, and tells him the end of the story. He asks for another one. "I'd love to, sir," she says.

O'Brien detects the Jem'Hadar ship, which has locked onto the tetryon pulse, being given off by the second rigged probe, which the Defiant has set as a decoy. Worf gives the order to fire, and Muniz and Stevens do so, blowing up the Jem'Hadar ship. They can now find the Karemma and go home; Dax and Bashir are rescued, and Sisko gets medical attention. The Karemma ship is found, and the Defiant heads back to DS9 with its crew, who will be sent home later.

At the station, Hanok tries his hand at Dabo, and wins, to Quark's chagrin. Dax rescues Bashir from being talked to death by Morn; they're even now. Worf approves Stevens' schedule for repairs to the Defiant. And Sisko and Kira take care of some station business, including the four-shift rotation. Then he invites her to watch a baseball game with him. Kira, delighted, puts on the cap he gives her, and goes to get the hot dogs from Quark, as Sisko puts on his own cap and smiles.

  • The original title of this episode was "Starships Down".
  • The story was initially going to be about the Defiant being trapped underwater.