Production no.: 463
Teleplay by: John Shirley
Story by: Ethan H. Calk
Directed by: Reza Badiyi
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: February 25, 1995
Jack Shearer ..........
Annette Helde ........
Ray Young .............
Bob Minor ..............
Dennis Madalone ....
O'Brien wakes up in Ops to find Bashir and Sisko looking down at him. He has just come to after being knocked unconscious when a plasma conduit blew out. Bashir tells him he has a mild case of radiation poisoning, which the doctor has treated, and suggests light duty for the next few days. As O'Brien is getting to his feet, Kira tells Sisko the transport with the Romulan delegation has arrived.
Sisko and Kira go through the Promenade on their way to the airlock, and meet Odo, who is escorting a drunken Klingon to a holding cell. The Klingon is from a ship that docked for repairs a few hours ago; the overhaul will take two days. Sisko tells Odo that the Romulan delegation has arrived, and he wants him to keep a close eye on the Klingons. When Sisko and Kira reach the airlock, two Romulan officials and their entourage step out. The officials are Ruwon and Karina, who have been sent for a report on the Dominion.
Meanwhile, O'Brien has talked Quark into installing a dartboard to one side of the bar. The Ferengi is very dubious about this. He says no one has ever come in looking for a dartboard. "I just don't see the appeal of this game. No lasers, no holograms, just steel tips and feathers." At O'Brien's urging, Quark experimentally throws a bunch of darts all at once, and some hit Morn, who looks baffled. "You're not supposed to throw them like that," O'Brien reproves. "You throw them gently, one at at time. Like this." He demonstrates -- and then finds himself outside, on the second level of the Promenade. As he looks around in confusion, he sees another O'Brien at the entrance to Quark's. The Ferengi is telling the other O'Brien that the Klingons have destroyed two of his holosuites, and he needs a maintenance crew.
"Quark, this happens every time Klingons come aboard the station," the other O'Brien says in annoyance. "Why don't you just keep them out of the holosuites?" "Did you ever say no to a Klingon?" counters Quark. "Besides, they're paying me double." As the other O'Brien rolls his eyes, he catches sight of his other self standing there staring at him. Then O'Brien is back where he was, at the dartboard. He crumples to his knees in pain.
In the infirmary, Bashir gives him an injection for the muscle spasm, and says mild hallucinations are a fairly common side effect of this type of radiation poisoning. When O'Brien says he saw himself talking to Quark, who was complaining about Klingons damaging his holosuites, Bashir says lightly, "Well, you do have one problem. If all you can hallucinate about is Quark's maintenance problems, you have a sadly deficient fantasy life." O'Brien thanks him sarcastically, and leaves.
The Romulans find the intelligence report insufficient. They want to know the Dominion's military capabilities, but Sisko says they don't know any of that yet; Karina points out that they have a Founder on the station, who should be able to tell them what they need to know. Kira tells her that Odo is not a Founder, but the Romulans don't see the difference, and they find Kira's statement that Odo has no loyalty to the Dominion or any information about their plans hard to believe. "Commander," says Ruwon, "we allowed you to place one of our cloaking devices on the Defiant in exchange for information regarding the Dominion. Now, you have the cloaking device and we have very little." Sisko agrees to clear their request for every detail of Starfleet's information on the Dominion with Starfleet.
O'Brien is walking by Quark's on the second level when the Ferengi steps out to tell him about the Klingons having destroyed two holosuites. Realizing with a shock that this is the same conversation he witnessed earlier, O'Brien looks across and sees his past self watching him in surprise. Quark sees the other O'Brien as well. "I think my holosuites can wait. It looks like you have bigger problems."
Later, Dax tells Sisko and O'Brien that she did find evidence of temporal disturbances in Quark's and on the Promenade, occurring at the same time as O'Brien's experiences. Apparently O'Brien traveled into the future and returned to the same moment he left. Dax thinks the ionizing radiation O'Brien was poisoned with might have something to do with it. She is still talking when O'Brien has another timeshift.
This time, he is in Quark's, in the middle of a brawl between the Romulans and the Klingons. His future self is there as well, and the past O'Brien disables a Klingon who is attacking him. The future O'Brien calls out a warning, just in time for the past one to avoid a flying chair. Then O'Brien is back in Ops, with Dax completing her sentence just as he keels over.
Afterwards, in the infirmary, Bashir tells O'Brien and Sisko that he has found minute damage to O'Brien's cerebrospinal nerve cells, which he can correct, but the effect is cumulative. If these timeshifts keep happening, the damage might eventually kill him. However, Dax is scanning for temporal abnormalities, and Bashir is working on a way to purge O'Brien's system of the residual radiation isotopes in case they are related to the timeshifts. Sisko asks Chief how far into the future he traveled, but O'Brien doesn't know. Sisko says he will have Odo tighten security in Quark's.
Kira comes to see Sisko, and he walks out with her through the Promenade. The Romulans want to debrief everyone who was on the Defiant when it was captured by the Dominion; they also want unrestricted access to the Defiant, and to personal logs. Sisko is willing to grant everything but the personal logs. He points out to Kira that the Romulans have never been in the Gamma Quadrant, so they're dependent on Starfleet for information. Also, the Romulans have held up their end of the bargain. So Kira finally agrees to draw up a schedule of interviews. "And Major," Sisko cautions her, "when you're with the Romulans, try to be diplomatic." "I'm always diplomatic," Kira protests.
But when it's her turn to be debriefed by the Romulans, she utterly fails to hide her anger at their implications -- first that she did something wrong in leaving the Defiant during the attack by the Jem'Hadar, then that there was something improper going on between her and Odo at the time. The Romulans seem determined to read ulterior motives into everything. "You are the only member of the Defiant's crew who was not taken prisoner. Why? Did the Founders believe Odo would react badly if you were harmed? Did they think you held some kind of attraction to him?" "Has Odo ever shown any kind of physical interest in you, Major?" Kira loses it. "That's it! You can rip the cloaking device out of the Defiant right now. I am not answering any more questions. And I suggest you avoid asking Odo those questions, or you may just find yourselves on the other side of that bulkhead, floating home!"
Bashir and O'Brien are in Quark's, where the Chief has made the doctor play nine games of darts in a row with him, and wants one more. Bashir is exasperated. Nothing is going to happen; they've taken too many precautions. Quark has even said he won't let the Klingons back in the bar. But O'Brien is uneasy, feeling that this moment is too familiar. They are interrupted as three Klingons come down from the holosuite. Quark explains that they were in the holosuite, not the bar. "Besides, now they're paying triple." Events begin to unfold just as O'Brien saw before. The Klingons notice that there are Romulans present, and begin picking a fight.
Kira is in Odo's office, telling him angrily about her meeting with the Romulans, and how they insinuated that he was interested in her. Not catching Odo's look of alarm, she asks, "Have you ever heard anything more -- " "Ridiculous," Odo finishes. "Exactly!" Kira agrees. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Odo, a call comes in from Quark. There's a fight going on in the bar.
O'Brien is in the middle of it, as he saw earlier when he time-traveled to this moment. There, on schedule, is his past self, and they aid each other like they did before. Then the past O'Brien vanishes. The present one is just catching his breath as Odo and deputies are breaking up the fight, when he suddenly timeshifts again.
Now he is in a corridor of the habitat ring, watching his future self opening a panel near the door to some quarters. He calls out; the future O'Brien turns, and is caught in the chest by a phaser blast from a small device inside the panel. The present O'Brien rushes up, feels his future self's neck, and is shocked. Then he shifts back through time again, to the infirmary, where Bashir tells him he collapsed outside Quark's about an hour ago, but he'll be fine. "No, I'm not," O'Brien says, disturbed. "In a few hours, I'm going to be dead."
O'Brien shows the panel to Sisko and Odo. Odo scans it, and carefully opens it, but finds nothing there. Since O'Brien's time jumps have all moved him about five hours back and forth in time, they assume that the device will be planted there in a few hours. They have no idea why, as the quarters in this section are vacant, and there are no vital conduits or systems here. Odo will place surveillance equipment in the corridor. Dax then calls to say she thinks she has a clue to what is causing O'Brien's timeshifts.
She tells O'Brien, Sisko and Bashir in Ops that she has been scanning outside the station, and found traces of low-level tetryon emissions, with patterns resembling those of a quantum singularity. Singularities are known to send out waves of temporal displacement; this one may be buried so far in subspace that they can't find it. Bashir notes that the temporal displacement caused by a quantum singularity most commonly affects delta-series radio-isotopes, which is exactly what O'Brien absorbed in the conduit breach. But if he can neutralize the remaining isotopes in O'Brien's body, the temporal displacement might stop; however, it will take time, and O'Brien might have one or two more timeshifts in the meantime. They will start right away, while Dax will keep trying to pinpoint the singularity.
Then Kira approaches Sisko to let him know that she has moved the Romulans to different quarters due to replicator problems. The new quarters are the same ones where the device will be placed inside the panel by the door. Sisko tells Kira not to move the Romulans again, as that will warn the culprit, but she is to inform Odo of the change in quarters.
A little later, Odo tells Sisko that someone planted a surveillance device behind the panel in question a short time ago. No one has come near the panel, but sensors detected a transporter beam there. Odo hasn't been able to trace the beam to its point of origin, but since there no ships nearby, he thinks it came from somewhere on the station. His primary suspects are the Klingons, though he has no evidence yet. Odo says he will investigate them, the Bajorans, Quark, the visiting Terrellians. "You think Quark had something to do with this?" asks Sisko. "I always investigate Quark," replies Odo.
The time arrives when O'Brien had seen himself killed, and he is having a drink in Quark's with Bashir. "I feel like someone just walked over my grave," O'Brien confesses. "I mean, I've had a few brushes with death in my career. But there was something about watching myself being killed, feeling my own neck for a pulse that wasn't there -- " "Well, it could've been worse," Bashir says, trying to break the mood. "It could've been me."
Quark approaches with more drinks. "How is DS9's most famous fortuneteller?" he asks, to O'Brien's annoyance. The Ferengi suggests conspiratorially, "If you should find yourself in the future again, and you find yourself passing by the Dabo table, would it really hurt to take a look at the numbers coming up on the wheel? I could make it worth your while." O'Brien looks at him disgustedly. "Just a thought," says Quark to himself as the Chief and Bashir head out.
O'Brien is commenting on Quark's nerve when he has another timeshift. Now he's in the infirmary, seeing a corpse nearby with a sheet draped over it, covering the face. Slowly, he lifts the sheet, and finds himself again looking at his own dead body.
O'Brien is still standing there in shock when Bashir comes in. "What the hell happened to me, Julian?" he asks. Bashir explains that the radiation had damaged the basilar arteries in O'Brien's brainstem. The damage hadn't shown up in any scans; he only realized what had happened when he did the autopsy. He tells O'Brien to tell his (Bashir's) past self to perform a basilar arterial scan on him; he will then have enough time to repair the damage. O'Brien can't help but accuse Bashir of having let him die; Bashir says he didn't. "I'm sorry, Chief, but there comes a point when the human body just gives up." "Yeah, well, maybe my doctor wasn't -- " O'Brien timeshifts back before he can finish his sentence, and collapses.
Odo has managed to trace the transporter beam back to an empty set of quarters; he shows it to Sisko. Someone overrode the security lock on the door here, and realigned the matter-energy conversion matrix of the replicator, turning it into a small transporter. Odo also thinks he knows who. He can't resist taking Sisko through his deductive process, and the clues he gathered, until the commander finally has enough and tells him to cut to the chase. What it boils down to is that the three Klingons currently on DS9 are members of a covert strike force sent by the Klingon High Council. "Why didn't you just say so?" asks Sisko. Odo shrugs a little. "Sometimes I have to remind you just how good I am."
The Klingons may be here to kill the Romulans, or possibly they may be here on a routine intelligence-gathering mission. The device that killed O'Brien is a booby trap to keep anyone from tampering with the surveillance device. In any case, Odo has enough evidence to question the Klingons, and he says he can do so until the Romulans leave the station. "Just be careful," says Sisko. "Commander, there is no careful way to question a Klingon," Odo tells him.
O'Brien comes to in the infirmary. "I haven't given up -- I won't give up!" he mumbles before he sees Bashir, who tells him he's all right. "No, I'm not," says O'Brien urgently. "You need to run a basilar arterial scan." "Why?" asks Bashir. "Because if you don't," the Chief says, "I'm going to die in less than five hours." Bashir is nonplused, especially when O'Brien tells him Bashir's own future self told him this. "Oh. Well, who am I to argue with me?"
The Klingons are, unsurprisingly, full of bluster and threats when Odo puts them in a holding cell. Unfazed, Odo reminds them that Klingon Intelligence doesn't like to be embarrassed by operatives who fail in their missions. "However, should you suddenly feel like cooperating, I may be persuaded to let you go without contacting your friends in Intelligence...maybe." The Klingons look appropriately troubled.
Bashir has now eliminated almost all of the radio-isotopes from O'Brien's body, but has to wait another two hours for the last treatment. Dax has been able to track the singularity, which is orbiting DS9 and periodically radiating temporal energy that triggers the timeshifts. O'Brien begins to outline a way of breaking it out of orbit, when he timeshifts midsentence.
He's on a runabout, and a large number of scared people are running onto it; it lifts off as explosions erupt on the station. The future O'Brien, piloting the ship, turns around and sees himself. "You're here! Look, I don't know what happened. I was asleep in bed, and the whole station was rocked by an explosion. Before I could get to Ops, the evacuation alarm sounded and the com systems were down. I got as many people as I could in here. I don't know what happened to the others. When you go back, you have to find out what happened and stop it."
The past O'Brien looks out the side viewer of the runabout, and, with horror, he sees the station blown apart in a final huge explosion; then the wormhole opens and collapses. O'Brien then shifts back to the present, and Sisko asks what's wrong. "We've got a new problem, sir," the Chief says grimly.
O'Brien is not sure how the station was destroyed in his time trip, or whether the explosions were internal or external. Sisko orders Kira to quietly prepare to evacuate, and Dax to do a systems check. O'Brien suggests that he time-travel once more, to just before the destruction; Bashir can trigger a timeshift by flooding his body with isotopes. Bashir objects that the isotopes are toxic and may kill him. "If the future happens the way I saw it happen," O'Brien says, "a lot of people are going to get killed when the station explodes. It's a risk I'm willing to take." They can adjust the isotopes so that they can control the length of the jump.
Bashir gives O'Brien a device to inject himself with the isotopes and trigger a timeshift. It is already set for the return trip. Bashir cautions him not to wait too long before returning, as the radiation poisoning will otherwise accumulate to deadly levels. "Julian," O'Brien says, "there's a message in my quarters for Keiko, if -- " "I understand, Miles," says Bashir. O'Brien puts the device on his arm and activates it.
He shifts into his own quarters, three and a half hours in the future. In pain, with the radiation poisoning already affecting him, he wakes his future self up. "Not you again," future O'Brien groans. "What is it now?" The past O'Brien tells him that he's jumped ahead and seen the station destroyed, and he's here now to find out what's going to happen and prevent it. "You look pretty bad," observes his future self. "It's the radiation," past O'Brien says. Future O'Brien looks puzzled. "But if you feel bad, and you're my past self, shouldn't I feel bad too?" After a moment of contemplating this paradox, they simultaneously remark, "I hate temporal mechanics." They then go to Ops.
There, everyone looks up in surprise at the two O'Briens. The past one is telling them to run a sensor sweep of the station when there is a jolt, and Dax detects a Romulan warbird decloaking, having just taken out their shield generators. Kira gives orders to return fire. As the station rocks again, past O'Brien falls to the deck as the battle continues. Future O'Brien bends over him. "You've got your answer. The quantum singularity that's been orbiting the station. It's the Romulans. Are you listening? The Romulans use a confined singularity to power their warp core. That's what we've been detecting. That's what's causing the time shifts. You must go back and tell them to put up the shields and stand by for an attack."
But the past O'Brien is on the verge of death. He says he'll never make it through another shift, and gives the device to his future self, telling him to go instead. "Me?" objects the future O'Brien. "I don't belong there." "I'm you, you're me," says past O'Brien. "It doesn't matter. Just go!" The two men look at each other, then future O'Brien activates the device.
He goes back to the past, in the infirmary, and delivers the news to Sisko, who raises shields and has Dax scan for the location of the Romulan ship. Meanwhile, Bashir examines O'Brien, and is puzzled to find only a slight amount of radiation in his tissues. "There's been a change," O'Brien says.
Ruwon and Karina are interviewing Quark when Sisko, Kira, Odo, and two security guards enter. Sisko confronts the Romulans about the warbird, and the fact that he knows they're planning an attack. He and his officers have put the puzzle together: believing that the only way to be safe from the Dominion was to collapse the wormhole, they plotted to destroy the station as well, so as to leave no witnesses. "An interesting theory, Commander," says Karina. "But that's all it is, a theory." Sisko concedes that, but adds that they've tracked the tetryon emissions to the warbird, and he now has 50 photon torpedoes aimed at it. "I think it's time we left," says Ruwon. "I couldn't agree more," Sisko says.
In Quark's, Bashir is once again playing darts with O'Brien, who remembers having played this same game with him before, and correctly predicts where Bashir's next throw hits. O'Brien admits that he finds it a little disturbing. "I have this nagging feeling that I don't really belong here -- that this isn't really my life. Maybe this life belongs to that other Miles O'Brien." "Chief," says Bashir, "whether you're living in the past or in the present, you are Miles O'Brien. The only difference is, you have a few memories the other one didn't have."
O'Brien decides to call it a night. As he's passing Quark, however, he leans over and says, "Quark, Dabo." Quark looks nonplused until a second later, when someone yells "Dabo!" and gathers their winnings. Desperately, Quark calls out after O'Brien, who simply chuckles and walks on.