So, there l was, fighting the toughest battle of my life,
looking around, hoping to spot a friendly face,
only to discover my colleagues... were gone.
l was alone.
l admit, for a moment l considered giving up.
l could feel the seconds ticking away, panic building up.
My only chance was to trust my instincts.
So l closed my eyes,
took a deep breath
and just like that, it came to me -
the answer l was looking for.
A pericardial membrane!
l looked down and punched the answer into my computer terminal
just as the buzzer sounded, ending the exam.
And that, l suppose, is the stuff salutatorians are made of.
Well, l mistook a preganglionic fibre
for a postganglionic nerve during the orals
or l would have been valedictorian.
lt was a trick question.
Not nearly as fascinating as when l...
Dr Bashir? Chief O'Brien? Report to landing pad five.
There'll be another time.
Starfleet medical finals.
Gets them every time.
- lt's no use. - Chief! We must get this hatch open.
Lieutenant Dax and Ensign Pauley are trapped.
The runabout barely made it back.
Power levels were near zero.
There's not enough juice left to release the servos.
Life support's down. Oxygen levels are dangerously low.
Have to burn it through.
The hatch is made of duranium composite. lt'll take an hour.
We don't have much time. How many passengers were aboard?
- Two. - l'm reading three.
We need to get power to the hatch servos.
Hand me the EPl capacitor. Middle shelf.
Try her now.
- Dax? - l'm fine. Check the others.
- Vash? - That's right.
Miles O'Brien, from the Enterprise.
- Yes, of course. - What are you doing on the Ganges?
We found her in the Gamma Quadrant.
- She'd been there for over two years. - Two years?
Doctor, we'd better get these people over to the infirmary.
Right this way.
How did you get to the Gamma Quadrant?
- A friend dropped me off. - Oh.
- Will l live? - You're fine.
you're in remarkable shape.
Thank you, Doctor. l try.
l mean you've...managed quite well
considering you've been out of contact with civilisation for two years.
l'd hardly call the Gamma Quadrant uncivilised.
Some of the cultures have histories dating back millions of years.
Really? l'd love to hear about them.
We have no idea what's beyond the wormhole.
Maybe l'll write a book.
lt's sure to be a bestseller around here.
no sign of disease or malnutrition
or parasitic infections.
You sound disappointed.
Now l have no reason to keep you here.
You almost make me wish l wasn't feeling well.
She claims she knew nothing about the wormhole?
She seemed surprised about it.
She didn't expect to see this part of the galaxy again.
How could she get there if she didn't go through the wormhole?
She didn't want to talk about it.
Said it was a personal matter.
A human alone in the Gamma Quadrant for two years?
Check her background.
- She claims to be an archaeologist. - That's a good place to start.
You sure this place is safe?
The Assay Office is the most secure area on the station.
The chambers are surrounded on all sides by individual force fields.
And how are the locks controlled?
Once you secure a chamber, it can't be opened
except with your personal authorization code,
combined with a verified retinal print.
- A Cardassian MK-7 scanner? - MK-12.
With an L-90 enhanced resolution filter.
l suppose that will have to do.
Computer, begin inventory for cubicle 19.
30-odd centimetres tall, approximately eight kilograms.
One dagger. Bronze and gold.
About 25 centimetres.
Beautiful. l've never seen anything quite like it.
Some kind of Promethean quartz.
l thought so too, at first,
but its molecular density and refraction index is much higher.
Please, enter an access code.
All right. l'll pick everything up tomorrow.
l've booked on the Mulzirak Transport.
- You're not leaving us so soon? - l'm afraid so.
The Daystrom lnstitute will be very disappointed.
The Daystrom lnstitute?
They want to hear about the Gamma Quadrant.
Every place you've been, everything you've seen,
could be important, including how you got there.
Sorry, Commander, but that's a personal matter.
So now the Daystrom lnstitute is interested in me.
Professor Woo seemed eager to speak to you again.
Did he tell you he suspended my membership
from the Archaeological Council?
Twice. Something about the sale of illegal artefacts.
lf it's a choice between science and profit,
l'll choose profit every time.
He hoped you'd make an exception.
l haven't been back to Earth in...it must be 12 years.
Here's your chance. l could arrange passage.
l think l'd like that.
Fine. l'll take care of it.
l don't understand it, Commander.
l can't find anything wrong with her.
This ship is completely functional.
- lt didn't look that way this morning. - Don't get me wrong.
The power reserves are empty.
The inertial damping fields are barely operational
and the warp drive containment field's on the verge of collapse.
But there's nothing wrong with any of them.
Once we put power back in, she should be operational.
Did you check the central power linkages?
Yes, l ran a level-1 diagnostic. Everything checks out.
l can't explain it.
lt's like something tapped into the ship's systems and drained them dry.
How well do you know Vash?
l only met her one time aboard the Enterprise.
What was she doing there?
Vash and Captain Picard were friends -
close friends, if you follow my meaning.
Seems they met on Risa a few years back.
She must be special, being friends with the Captain.
- She doesn't seem his type. - The Captain likes a good challenge.
We had broad-spectrum power drain.
Power transfer is inoperative.
The energy was drawn out faster than it could handle.
Chief, are you reading any graviton flux
around the transfer systems?
l am detecting a low-level graviton disturbance.
That's what happened when we lost power on the Ganges.
These were Cardassian living quarters.
The bed may take some getting used to.
As an archaeologist, l've spent half my life sleeping in tents.
To me, any bed will be a luxury.
You've never slept on a Cardassian mattress.
- lf you need anything, ask the computer. - Thanks, Chief.
By the way, how's Jean Luc?
The Captain? The last time l saw him, he was fine.
Now that l'm back, l'll have to look him up.
Really, Vash, l can't believe you're still pining for Jean Luc -
that self-righteous do-gooder.
He warned me about you.
You're hurt, you strike back.
But cheer up. l bring you wonderful news - l'm back.
lt was cruel of me to leave you.
Very touching, but you didn't leave me, l left you.
You left me, l left you. Details!
The important thing is we're a team again.
- Joined together at the hip. - Not a chance.
You're going to miss me.
Don't flatter yourself.
l thought we'd first visit the Teleris Cluster,
look in on the star dancers at Mundahla.
Or head over to the Lantar Nebula
and view the Sampalo relic on Hoek lV.
l know, Vadris lll. Charming little world.
The natives think they're the only intelligent life in the universe.
You choose, then.
l choose never to travel with you again.
You don't know what you're missing.
l promised to take you places no human had seen.
And you have. lt was wonderful.
- Thank you. Goodbye. - Two years in the Gamma Quadrant
hardly qualifies as a grand tour of the universe.
There's the Delta Quadrant to explore,
not to mention all the other galaxies.
Q, l want you out of my life.
You are arrogant and you think you know everything.
But l do know everything.
That makes it even worse.
What is it you really want?
l want the life l had before l met you.
And a stellar life, indeed.
The eminent Vash -
barred from the Royal Museum of Epsilon Hydra Vll.
Persona non grata on Betazed.
Wanted dead on Myrmidon for stealing the Crown of the First Mother.
Dead or alive.
lt's a wonder you haven't offended every race in the galaxy.
You almost got me killed on Erriakang Vll.
They weren't thrilled to see you on Brax. ''The God of Lies.''
- l... - Go away.
Q, bring him back.
What business could you have with that disgusting little troll?
You didn't give him time to tell me.
Bring him back this instant.
Can l help you?
My name is Quark.
lt's come to my attention
that you have access to certain items.
ltems that might perhaps turn a tidy profit?
For a percentage,
l might be able to arrange a buyer for your trinkets.
Perhaps an auction.
l'll only accept payment in gold-pressed latinum.
l'll shower you in it. 50-50.
Mr Quark, l believe you're trying to take advantage of me.
You have a talent for oo-mox.
So l've been told.
l'll not be distracted by your feminine wiles.
l demand 40%.
All right, 30%.
What magnificent cartilage.
22 and don't stop.
You've got a deal.
l expect you'll make the necessary arrangements?
You're very, very good.
How perfectly vile.
- No wonder you ended up with Picard. - Go away.
- Enter. - Aren't we the hub of activity?
- Am l interrupting anything? - No, come in, Doctor.
- Please call me Julian. - Julian. ls this medical business?
l thought of official reasons for dropping by
but your good health robbed me of excuses.
That didn't seem to stop you.
l'll contribute to your good health by buying you dinner.
Quark's makes a delicious couscous
and the company might be mildly entertaining.
Sounds like fun.
Though, l would like to freshen up first.
Could l meet you there in 20 minutes or so?
Those 20 minutes will seem like an eternity.
These mating rituals you humans indulge in are disgusting.
- Get out. - You don't mean it.
- Out! - You'll be lost without me.
- l can take care of myself. - We'll see about that.
- Just a cup of mint tea, please. - You're making a terrible mistake.
Why? The replicators haven't malfunctioned again?
l'm talking about Vash. Stay away from her.
My God, you're an impertinent waiter.
l'm a friend, giving you friendly advice. She's trouble.
l don't see that it's any of your business who l see.
- l'm having dinner with her. - You look tired.
- l feel fine. - No, you look very tired.
l do feel a bit spent. Maybe l should...
Maybe l should go and lie down for a minute.
Hopefully by yourself for a change.
The Klingon scout ship has departed docking bay 11.
Good. l'll tell Odo he can relax now.
We've got a problem. l just saw Q on the Promenade.
- Here? - What's Q?
A powerful and unpredictable entity.
l was at a Starfleet briefing on him two years ago.
- Blasted menace. - What does he want with us?
Whatever it is, we won't like it.
You might ask Vash. They know each other.
From the Enterprise?
They actually met in Sherwood Forest.
lt was one of the little jokes Q played on the Enterprise crew.
Main power grid has dropped 80%.
Sensors are reading a massive graviton build-up.
- How long before we regain full power? - lt's already normalising.
lf we have an outage during a docking procedure
we could lose an entire pylon!
l've checked every system. There's nothing wrong with them.
lt's got to be Q - another one of his stupid jokes.
l'm not laughing.
l figured we'd auction this off last.
lnteresting, but hardly of any intrinsic value.
l thought it was the best piece.
My associates have more sophisticated tastes than you're used to.
But just so it's not a total loss,
l'll buy it for seven bars of gold-pressed latinum.
- lt's worth 50 times as much. - Ridiculous!
All right, 18, but you must never tell a soul
about my foolish generosity.
You'll have to be a lot more foolish than that.
All right, 30. Now, give it to me.
Bidding starts at 200 bars of gold latinum.
l can't decide what's more intoxicating -
this Gamzian wine, or your negotiating skills.
We need to talk.
The lady and l are having a private conversation.
lt can wait.
Tell me, Commander, where is that doctor of yours?
He was supposed to meet me here earlier.
- Tell me about Q. - l'll tell you anything you want to know.
Just answer one question - is Starfleet penalising you
or did you actually request such a dismal command?
- l want you off this station. - Don't be hasty, my happy-go-lucky friend.
This gulag could use a little colour, some excitement.
And who better to provide that than "moi?"
Although, l must admit, l like your new tailor.
l'm not impressed by your parlour tricks.
These power outages are going to stop.
Why tell me?
Of course, go ahead. Blame Q if it makes you feel better.
lt's my fate to be the galaxy's whipping boy.
Heavy is the burden of being me.
lf you're looking for sympathy, you're in the wrong place.
l was hoping for a witty repartee but l won't get any of that.
At least your beloved Jean Luc knew how to turn a phrase.
Take a hint, Q. No one wants you around.
Really, Vash, this playing hard to get is growing tedious.
Remember, l'm the Q and you the lowly human.
l'll decide when this partnership is over. Understand?
Why don't you and l continue this discussion in private?
You're right. This is an excellent idea.
- Sisko to Ops. - All gone.
- Bring them back, Q. Now! - Or what? You'll thrash me?
Shall we settle this "mano a mano?"
- Marquis of Queensberry rules? - What?
Fisticuffs, pugilism, the manly art of self-defence!
Come on. lsn't this wonderfully barbaric?
Take a poke at me. l know that's what you want to do.
- l'll wager five bars of latinum on Sisko. - You're on.
Fight back! This is supposed to be brutal.
You can pay me out of your profits from the auction.
You hit me. Picard never hit me.
l'm not Picard.
lndeed not. You're much easier to provoke.
How fortunate for me.
Damn it, Q. Enough is enough.
- We're losing atmosphere. - Decompression protocol.
Mr O'Brien, raise the confinement shields.
- Shields up. - Damage report.
A minor hull breach in one of the upper bulkheads.
l'm getting reports of hull fractures throughout the station.
Emergency systems appear to be functioning.
The breach was caused by a focused graviton pulse.
Every time we've had a power drain
it's been followed by an increase in the graviton field.
We could have a breach in a reactor core.
- We'd lose half the station. - Maybe we should negotiate with Q.
l'm not convinced Q is behind this.
Playing with the lights doesn't strike me as his style.
You wanted to see me?
Make it quick. l have important business.
Yes, l know. You're auctioning off some artefacts
from the Gamma Quadrant.
You were eavesdropping on my conversation with Vash.
What were you this time?
The table? One of the chairs?
The wine bottle.
When will you realise that you have no secrets from me?
l have nothing to hide. l sell merchandise to select clientele.
And what makes them so select?
They're all ridiculously wealthy...
and not too bright.
l'll never understand this obsession with accumulating material wealth.
You spend your entire life plotting and scheming
to acquire more and more possessions
until your living areas are bursting with useless junk.
Then you die.
Your relatives sell everything and start the cycle again.
lsn't there anything you...desire?
l have my work. What more do l need?
A suit of the finest Andorian silk?
A ring of pure Surax?
A complete set of Tanesh pottery?
How about a latinum-plated bucket to sleep in?
Well, l'm glad to see you've packed.
- l hope you said goodbye to your friends. - l don't have time for this.
You've led a charmed life these past two years
under my benevolent protection.
- l can take care of myself. - Really?
Do you remember that tiny little insect bite
you had on Erabus Prime?
lf l hadn't been there...
l am not going with you.
The galaxy can be a dangerous place when you're on your own.
lt's over, Q.
l leave you now to reconsider my offer of friendship.
Station Log, Stardate 46531.2.
The station's power continues to be drained
and converted into gravitons.
At this rate, our life-support systems will fail in 14 hours.
We can't find the source of the power drain
with these Cardassian sensors. They're not sensitive enough.
Let's make the drain easier to detect.
lf we flood the station with tritium gas
we can trace the particle flow to the source.
Tritium? lsn't that toxic?
Only when highly concentrated. We'd only use a small amount.
Do it. Unless we get this under control
in the next eight hours we'll evacuate.
Still chasing your own tail?
Picard would have solved it hours ago.
No wonder you're not commanding a starship.
- Security to Ops. - Aren't we the feisty little go-getter?
l'd keep my eye on this one.
Chances are she's after your job.
Why don't you do something constructive for a change,
like torment Cardassians.
- Do l know you? - O'Brien. From the Enterprise.
Enterprise? Oh, yes.
Weren't you one of the little people?
Quite a motley crew you've assembled here, Benji.
My advice to you is to evacuate now and save all this pointless guesswork.
Q, tell us what's going on or get out of the way.
l'll tell you. While you conduct futile experiments
Vash is below engaged in base commerce
and setting Federation ethics back 200 years.
Believe me, gang, she's far more dangerous to you than l.
Kolos, my friend. l don't know which pleases me more -
your smiling face or your overflowing purse.
Quark, you obsequious toad.
Your so-called Gamma Quadrant merchandise had better be legitimate
or l'll toss you out an airlock.
No cause for alarm.
Each piece comes with a statement of authenticity from Vash,
the Federation's foremost expert on the Gamma Quadrant.
ln that case, stop snivelling and give me a synthale.
Are they all that pleasant?
l don't care about their manners.
The important thing is they're honest collectors of antiquities.
- How honest? - As honest as you and l.
Then we'd better keep a close eye on them.
My dear, l've been thinking.
What would you say to a permanent partnership?
With your knowledge of the Gamma Quadrant
and my business connections, we could make a fortune.
Sorry, Quark, but l've slept in my last tent.
l'm looking forward to a nice, quiet life back on Earth.
You won't last a month. You're like me.
You live for excitement and profit.
- Not anymore. - Would you care to bet on that?
The graviton field has increased by 60%.
When can we begin the sensor sweep?
Not until we've increased tritium levels to one part per million.
Should be another seven, eight minutes.
We're being pulled out of our normal position.
- Use control thrusters. - Firing thrusters.
We're still moving.
lf the graviton field is feeding off the power
we can cut its supply by shutting reactors.
Put life-support on emergency backup. Take everything else off line.
We're still moving out of position.
What's our heading?
Bearing 157 mark 13.
Straight into the wormhole.
Now, as you know, payment must be in gold-pressed latinum
and all transactions are final.
Remember, bid high, and bid often.
Ladies and gentlemen, our first item is a statue
from the Gamma Quadrant's Verath system.
l should take a minute to tell you about the Verathan civilisation
which reached its height some 30,000 years ago
and spanned over two dozen systems,
interconnected by a highly developed communications network.
This statue represents Drohlak, the Prime Ossemite of the 19th dynasty.
- Vash, what are you doing? - l'm providing a historical context.
Give me that. This isn't the Daystrom lnstitute.
and it's a Gamma Quadrant original!
And it can be yours.
Bidding will start at ten bars of gold-pressed latinum.
Make it ten.
Who will say 17 and be the first to own a piece of the Gamma Quadrant?
Tritium levels have reached one part per million.
lnitiating sensor sweep.
We can rule out the docking ring.
The tritium gas seems to be draining towards the central core.
- Where in the central core? - l'll try to get a more precise reading.
lt's not clear enough.
l can't pinpoint an exact location.
Based on our current trajectory,
we'll hit the wormhole in 18 minutes.
What the hell could be pulling us into the wormhole?
Do we have time to transfer auxiliary power to the deflectors?
Sir, there's not enough power left.
lf we get sucked into the wormhole we'll be in a billion pieces
by the time we reach the Gamma Quadrant.
Sold to Kolos for 36 bars of gold-pressed latinum!
Next, we have...
Studded with some very interesting-looking gems.
Think of it as a weapon and an investment.
Bidding will start at 40.
Don't hold back.
You know you want it. Give me 50. We have 50.
l hate to interrupt such a thrilling display of naked avarice
but it's only right of me
to warn you that this station is hurtling towards its doom
and it's unlikely that you will survive to enjoy your purchases.
l just thought l'd mention it. Carry on.
Ladies and gentlemen, l assure you everything is under control.
Drinks for everyone!
And free use of the holosuites at the conclusion of the auction.
l don't think l realised until this moment how evil you are.
You'd kill all these people to get even with me.
The thought had occurred to me,
but this station is in enough trouble already.
Although l'd be glad to save you. Just ask.
l'll take my chances with the others.
l'm going to sit right here and watch.
l've never seen a space station torn apart by a wormhole before.
Sold to my cousin Stol for 105 bars of gold-pressed latinum.
What if we pump more tritium gas into the central core?
The sensors might be more accurate.
lt might work but we'll all die from tritium poisoning.
Wait a minute. Bring the reactors back on line.
But they'll just feed more energy into the graviton field.
lf we generate enough energy
it should create a power drain we can trace.
lt might also push us a lot faster into the wormhole.
lt's a chance we've got to take. Bring us to full power.
- Everything you've got. - Aye, sir.
Sold to Rul the Obscure for 151 latinum bars!
Our final item.
And l think you'll agree with me it was well worth the wait.
Bidding will start at 200 bars of gold-pressed latinum.
Can l get 250?
250. 300, anyone?
300 bars of gold-pressed latinum.
- 350? - Here.
600 bars of gold-pressed latinum.
lt's not in any of the crossover bridges or in the habitat ring.
lt's in the upper core.
Three minutes, 14 seconds to the wormhole.
We're picking up speed.
l've got it. The power drain's coming from the Promenade.
Chief, you have Ops.
3,000 bars of latinum. My final offer.
- 3,000 bars! - A million.
A million bars of gold-pressed latinum?
- lt's by the podium. - A million going twice...
- That's it. - Three times.
- This auction's over. - Sold.
Shut down the reactors. We've found it.
And it's about time, too.
Sorry, all transactions are final.
This belongs to that gentleman over there.
l'm reading a massive graviton build-up inside this container.
lt's increasing. We have to get it off the station.
Chief, lock onto my combadge.
Prepare to transport it 500 metres off the docking ring.
- But l haven't been paid! - Energise.
Station Log, Stardate 46532.3.
With the embryonic life-form off the station,
graviton levels have returned to normal.
We've used the control thrusters to return the station to its original position.
So, you're off to the Daystrom lnstitute.
Bet you can hardly wait.
Long, boring lectures, endless conferences,
whining students dogging your every step.
Sounds delightful. Of course...
- No, you wouldn't be interested. - ln what?
l hear they've uncovered the ruins
of a Rokai provincial capital on Tartaras V.
lf you could obtain some Rokain artefacts...
Forget it, Quark. l'm going back to Earth.
- Have it your way. - An abysmal place.
- Tartaras V? - Earth. Don't get me wrong.
1,000 years ago, it had character -
Crusades, Spanish lnquisition, Watergate.
Now it's just mind-numbingly dull.
Then by all means, don't come with me.
l think you'd be much happier poking about the ruins of Tartaras V.
l don't need your advice.
You really think l...?
l still feel that l owe you a million bars of gold-pressed latinum.
Keep it - just give me back my life.
- You'll regret it if l do. - l'll take my chances.
lf you insist.
But it's not going to be the same without you.
When l look at a gas nebula, l just see a cloud of dust.
Seeing the universe through your eyes,
l was able to experience...wonder.
l'm going to miss that.
Well, l guess in some ways, l'm going to miss you, too.
- Maybe l could drop in some time. - God, l hope not.
Hey, Quark. What's the quickest way to Tartaras V?
l feel as though l've been asleep for days.
Did l miss something?