A Time to Stand
Production no.: 525
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by: Allan Kroeker
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: September 27, 1997
Andrew J. Robinson .....
Jeffrey Combs .............
Marc Alaimo ...............
Aron Eisenberg ............
J.G. Hertzler ................
Casey Biggs ................
Barry Jenner ...............
Brock Peters ...............
Three months after the first shots of the war were fired at DS9, the Defiant is part of a diminished fleet that has just finished yet another grueling battle with the Dominion. "Three months of bloody slaughter," gripes O'Brien. "And what have we got to show for it? Not a damn thing. Engage, retreat, engage, retreat. Just once, I would've liked to have gotten a look at their backs." Everyone is tired and grouchy, and there has been no word yet from the 7th Fleet, which was sent to engage the Dominion at the Tyra system.
Bashir treats Garak for a bruise sustained during the last combat, as they discuss the odds of the Federation's survival, which Bashir has calculated with his genetically enhanced intelligence. According to the doctor, their chances are only 32.7 percent. Garak dislikes the calm way in which Bashir makes that grim statement. "You're not genetically engineered, you're a Vulcan." "If I'm a Vulcan, then how do you explain my boyish smile?" Bashir asks. Garak gives him a look. "Not so boyish any more, Doctor."
Dax and Sisko are talking about where they'll be sent next when they're joined by Martok and Worf. It's the first time Worf and Dax have seen each other in five weeks, but almost the first full sentence out of Worf's mouth is a complaint about her arrangements for the wedding. However, they get that straightened out, to the relief of Martok, who has been hearing about it for weeks. Finally the engaged couple go off to "catch up on" things, before a somber Bashir enters with the news that they've been ordered to report to Starbase 375 for reassignment. And there is finally word about the 7th Fleet: only 14 ships out of 112 made it back. "We can't keep taking those kinds of losses, sir. Not if we expect to win this." "Thank you, Doctor. That'll be all," replies Sisko. As soon as Bashir leads Martok off to treat his injured arm, Sisko slams down his raktajino cup, letting out his anger.
Back at Deep Space Nine, or Terok Nor, as Gul Dukat insists on calling it, Dukat and his adjutant Damar enter the wardroom to find Weyoun in conversation with Kira. Weyoun is pleased no end by the news Kira has just given him, that Bajorans are returning to the station. Damar tells Dukat he's doubled security patrols. "What's the matter, Dukat?" asks Kira with mock sweetness. "Afraid we'll take the station away from you again?" "You're welcome to try," sneers Damar.
Weyoun tries to smooth things over by telling Kira to feel free to bring him any suggestions she might have. Kira has one for him immediately: reinstating the station's Bajoran security force, and giving them back their weapons. Dukat claims that the Cardassian and Dominion troops can handle any trouble that arises; Kira points out that Weyoun had promised the same arrangement that Bajor had with the Federation, equal responsibility for security. However, Dukat is firm, and Weyoun suggests diplomatically that they let the matter rest for now. He stops Kira as she is about to leave, to ask her about Odo. "Is he aware that I'm doing everything I can to strengthen the bond between the Dominion and the Bajoran people?" "Why don't you ask him yourself?" Kira replies. Weyoun backs down. "No, no. I wouldn't want to bother him. Good day, Major."
Once she's gone, and Damar has been dismissed, Weyoun turns the discussion to the minefield, which has yet to be dismantled; every time they destroy or deactivate a mine, its neighbor replicates a replacement. Thus, the Dominion can't get its reinforcements through the wormhole. "There's no need for panic," Dukat assures Weyoun. "We are winning the war." "For the moment, yes," replies Weyoun. "But to defeat the Federation, we're going to need reinforcements and new supplies of Ketracel-white. Soon." "Weyoun, I said I will deal with the minefield, and I will," replies Dukat.
Quark's is full of Cardassian soldiers, drinking and gambling while the Jem'Hadar simply sit and observe, stone-faced, as Quark tries to entice them with a game of Dabo or a complimentary holosuite hour. "Tough crowd," he mutters at last, giving up. Meanwhile, Kira is telling Odo about her meeting with Weyoun. She believes Dukat wants to eventually reopen the labor camps. Though neither of them trust Weyoun, they're grateful that at least he's keeping Dukat in line, and that the Vorta apparently genuinely wants to honor the treaty with Bajor. When Kira mentions that Weyoun seemed very concerned about what Odo thinks of him, Odo says, "I try not to think of him." "He'd be hurt to hear you say that," Kira replies. "I'll have to mention it to him."
They both have to smile at that thought. Kira admits that the only times she can smile these days is when she's with Odo. "When I talk to you, things don't seem as bad. When I think of Dukat in the captain's office, the fact that the Federation seems to be losing this war, and we're sitting here doing nothing -- " Odo reminds her that there's nothing they can do right now except bide their time. "It's like Captain Sisko said. Bajor must be kept out of the fighting." "And who am I to argue with the Emissary?" Kira finishes.
Quark joins them, with a drink on the house for Kira. The Ferengi is pleased with the crowd in his bar. "You know, I never expected to say this, but as occupations go, this one's not so bad...Look around. Do you see any ghetto fences dividing the Promenade? Or exhausted Bajoran slave laborers, sprawled on the ground after a grueling day in the ore processing center? Do you hear the cries of starving children? I don't. Now don't get me wrong, I miss the Federation, too. All I'm saying is, things could be a lot worse." After he goes, Odo tells Kira, "I hate to say this, but he's right. The Dominion seems determined to prove that it can be a friend to Bajor." "If it's such a good friend," replies Kira, "why are there no Bajoran security officers on the station?"
The Defiant is at Starbase 375, where Sisko confers with Admiral Ross, in an office which the Admiral unexpectedly says he hopes Sisko finds satisfactory. Sisko exclaims that he had thought he was here for an assignment briefing. "I'm afraid you're going to be here for a lot longer than you think, Captain," Ross tells him. "As of right now, you're no longer in command of the Defiant."
Sisko talks to Dax about it later. Ross didn't say why they've been taken off the Defiant, but they'll be getting their new assignment soon; the crew will at least be staying together. Since Sisko has a couple of free hours, Dax suggests that it might be a good time to contact his father. "You haven't spoken to him for months. And Jake is his grandson." "How do I explain that I evacuated every Federation citizen off Deep Space Nine, except his grandson?" Sisko wonders, torn. Dax tells him he'll think of something.
"You did what?" Joseph Sisko demands, frightened and angry, when Sisko finally gives him the news. Sisko tries to tell him it's not as bad as it sounds, and that it was Jake's choice to stay behind. "I'll bring him back, Dad. I promise." But it might be a while before he can do that; he doesn't know where he'll be sent next. Joseph is not comforted by this, or by his son's honest admission that the war isn't going well. "You know, there's something I just don't understand. You're always telling me that space is big. That it's an endless frontier, filled with infinite wonders...Well, if that's the case, you would think it would be more than enough room to allow people to leave each other alone." "It just doesn't work that way," Sisko says sadly. "It should. But it doesn't."
Jake, meanwhile, is not only fine, but boldly pestering Weyoun for an interview, for the Federation News Service. Weyoun, however, refuses; he has read Jake's previous articles, which he believes to be biased against the Dominion. "You keep referring to us as the station's, quote, occupying force, unquote...It has a negative connotation. All your articles are filled with pejorative terminology, which is why I've been forced to withhold their transmission." The dose of reality hits Jake like a bucket of cold water. "What about freedom of the press?" "Please, tell me you're not that naive," Weyoun says. If Jake wants his articles to make it off the station, he will have to write a more "balanced" perspective. "I won't write Dominion propaganda," Jake tells him. Weyoun smiles. "I would never dream of asking you to. All I want is for you to keep an open mind." Jake declares that his mind is open, so how about the interview? Weyoun would rather wait to let Jake prove his newfound lack of prejudice. "You keep writing; I'll keep reading."
Admiral Ross briefs Sisko, Dax and Bashir on the new mission. They are to destroy what Starfleet Intelligence believes to be the Dominion's main storage facility for Ketracel-white, without which the Jem'Hadar will die. As for how they will be able to infiltrate Cardassian space without the Defiant's cloaking device, Ross says they have something better. He shows Sisko and company a Jem'Hadar warship -- the same one that they captured last year (in "The Ship"). It has been restored to working order. The next step is for Sisko and crew to learn how to operate it.
Two weeks of training later, the crew is relatively ready for the mission, and conducts a series of final checks. It's not a comfortable ship; there are no chairs, no replicators, no viewscreen, and no sickbay. Bashir has had to set up a makeshift sickbay in his quarters, for lack of a better place. At last, however, they prepare for departure, along with Garak, whose knowledge of Cardassian territory might prove useful. With a somewhat shaky beginning, the ship gets underway; Sisko wears one of the virtual headsets meant for the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar First to use to see outside.
Dukat calls Kira to his office. The Gul has long been interested in her, and now he wants to "venture beyond station business". Kira wants nothing to do with him or his need for her to tell him how "happy" they are to have him back. "I've got better things to do than to stand around and help you play out one of your little fantasies." He blocks her path. "You feel I've betrayed you." "Not just me," she retorts. "Everyone. Even your own people." But in his mind, of course, Dukat's actions were all perfectly justified. "Cardassia was on the edge of an abyss, Major. The war with the Klingons left us a third-rate power. My people had lost their way. I've made them strong again." Kira points out that he's sold them to the Dominion, but Dukat believes that in return, Cardassia will have the entire Alpha Quadrant. "I could make things very pleasant for you here, Kira." "You could start by doing something about your breath," Kira replies, not giving an inch. Dukat smiles. "I'm a patient man. I can wait."
Finally, she can't help but explode. "Wait for what? What do you think is going to happen here, Dukat? That you're going to wear me down with your charming personality? That I'm going to be swept off my feet by that insincere smile? Are you really so deluded that you actually believe that we're going to have some kind of intimate relationship?" For reply, Dukat touches her cheek in a nauseatingly presumptuous gesture. "We already do." Staring at him with pure hatred, Kira slaps his hand away and storms out.
The virtual headset has given Sisko a headache; it wasn't designed to be worn by a human. Since they saw Dukat wearing one during the attack on DS9, Garak suggests that perhaps Cardassian physiology is more compatible. Therefore, he could wear one too, to relieve Sisko from doing so continually. It sounds good to both Sisko and Bashir, so Garak dons the other headset, just before Nog announces the approach of a Federation starship, the USS Centaur. Sisko barely has time to recognize the name, and that it's captained by an acquaintance of his named Charlie Reynolds, before the Centaur opens fire.
They can't open a channel, with the com system taken out. But they don't want to return fire, either. So they run, hoping the Centaur won't pursue them into Dominion territory. However, the Centaur does just that, firing all the way and damaging one of the Jem'Hadar ship's guidance thrusters. Finally Sisko has no choice but to turn and fight, though he targets the Centaur's weapons array only, not wanting to strand Reynolds on the wrong side of the border. The Centaur at last breaks off and goes to warp, headed back to Federation space. In a moment, Sisko's crew learns why: three Jem'Hadar ships are headed their way. They streak past in pursuit of the Centaur. There's nothing Sisko and company can do to help; they can only hope that the Centaur will make it back. Sisko orders a return to course.
Kira tells Odo in his office about her unpleasant meeting with Dukat, who she notes is convinced he's already won. Odo says that for the time being, Dukat has indeed won. "Look at me. I don't know why I bother to sit here every day. I don't even have a security force to patrol the Promenade." "Then ask for one," Kira says suddenly. "Demand that they reinstate your Bajoran deputies." She suggests that Odo bypass Dukat and ask Weyoun directly. "As far as he's concerned, you are a god. And that gives you power. But what good is power if you're not willing to use it?"
After Weyoun has given the Jem'Hadar their white, Dukat comments on the power play involved. Then Damar shows Odo in. Weyoun immediately turns subservient as Odo presents his demand, for his Bajoran security officers to be reinstated and put back in charge of security on the Promenade. Weyoun immediately agrees, over Dukat's objections; Odo says he'll have his officers report to the armory. He starts to go, but Weyoun's voice stops him. "Now that I've done something for you, perhaps there's something you'd consent to do for me."
When Odo confers with Kira again later, she is dubious about his news: he has agreed to become a member of the station's ruling council, alongside Dukat and Weyoun. Odo will now have a voice in station policy. But Kira thinks Weyoun is using him to validate the Dominion's control of the station. "I thought we were using him," Odo tells her. "I know the danger, Major. I've had to walk this line before, during the Cardassian Occupation. I can do it again. But this time I won't be alone. I'll have you to help me." "That's right, you will," Kira finally says, taking his hand in affirmation of their friendship. Odo smiles. "Then this is a victory after all." "I suppose it is," she says. "But for some reason, it just doesn't feel like one."
Sisko and crew arrive at a small asteroid, home to the Ketracel-white storage facility, and get in line as the facility dispenses the needed enzyme. The asteroid is surrounded by a security net, which must be momentarily deactivated and reactivated to allow each ship to be resupplied. O'Brien has 84 canisters ready to be beamed down, one of them containing 90 isotons of enriched ultritium, which should be enough to take out the entire facility and anything else within 800 kilometers.
After the ship ahead of them leaves, Garak handles the routine of requesting 84 full canisters of white, and all seems to be going smoothly. Sisko tells O'Brien to set the detonator for three minutes. That's cutting things close, but it means the Jem'Hadar won't have time to detect the explosive before it goes off. They beam down their canisters, including the one with the explosives, and receive full ones from the facility. Garak acknowledges receipt and requests clearance for departure. But suddenly the security net is raised; the facility doesn't respond to their repeated request for clearance. There are only one minute and 30 seconds to detonation. It's unlikely the facility has found the bomb this quickly, but no one knows why they're not being let go. The facility simply tells them to stand by; for what, they don't say.
It will take a couple of minutes to punch through the net, time they don't have. Sisko thinks fast. The net will go down when its power generator is destroyed. If they're moving fast enough at the moment of detonation, they can avoid getting caught in the explosion. Bashir beats Dax's computer in figuring out the timing. Dax sets the computer to pilot them. But with a little less than 22 seconds to go, the bomb suddenly goes off early.
Dax hurriedly takes back helm control to get them out of there. The ship scoots away from the blast, its tail nearly engulfed before it can escape. But they manage to get out of the radius of destruction, the facility now a smoking cinder behind them. They're alive. However, now they have other problems. They're on auxiliary life support, deflectors are down, the guidance system is shot, and worst of all, they've lost the warp drive. "Forgive my ignorance," says Garak, fearing the answer, "but if we don't have warp drive, how long is it going to take us to reach the closest Federation starbase?" "A long time, Mister Garak," Sisko says resignedly. The Cardassian asks how long. Everyone looks to Bashir, who grimly announces, "Seventeen years, two months, and three days -- give or take an hour."
At the beginning of this episode is a dedication plaque to Brandon Tartikoff, who had died recently. Tartikoff had been the head of Paramount at the time that DS9 was developed. Starbase 375 was a modified version of the miniature used for the Regula I space laboratory in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.