- Can't you ever just let go? - Let go?
The place is almost deserted.
There hasn't been a ship in for three days
and yet you sit there like a Baneriam hawk looking for prey.
This is your chance to relax.
l could set you up with a terrific holosuite programme.
l don't accept gifts from the likes of you.
Who mentioned gifts? You pay like everyone else.
- l'm just getting you in. - l have no time for fantasies.
- No imagination? - A waste of time.
People dream of places they'll never go,
wish for things instead of paying attention to their real lives.
l could create a shape-shifter playmate for you.
The two of you could...intermingle.
You're disgusting.
lt's a living.
You don't allow Jake in your holosuites, l hope.
lt's not what you think.
You see that thing on his hand? lt's a baseball mitten.
Every afternoon, the boy goes up to play.
His father brought a programme with famous players.
You ever hear of Tris Speaker or Ted Williams or Buck Bokai?
- Afraid not. - Neither did l until l tried to find out.
With all these humans coming now
the true entrepreneur knows how to...sniff the wind.
Try it. Go ahead.
l have no sense of smell.
You don't need one to detect the scent of opportunity.
Family entertainment. That's the future, Odo.
There's a fortune to be made.
Little holocreatures running around.
Rides and games for the kiddies.
Ferengis standing in every doorway selling...
useless souvenirs.
You'd replace sexual holoprogrammes with family entertainment?
No, l'm expanding.
l want next door so l can use the same hologenerators.
You're still disgusting.
Till the day l die.
l'm sure you're exaggerating.
You are constantly in my thoughts. l can't even...
That was two raktajinos, extra strong.
l can't even concentrate.
You seemed to be concentrating just fine
on the Junior Lieutenant at the reception for Captain Stadius.
She was a poor substitute for you.
And the Betazoid envoy who was here last week.
A barely...
adequate substitute for you.
Julian, you are a wonderful friend.
l enjoy the time we spend together.
Stop. You're driving a stake through my heart.
Try a high-pitched sonic shower.
- lt will make you feel better. - No, it won't.
l've already tried it.
Sorry l'm late. l had dinner with Julian.
- How is our young doctor? - Young. Anything going on?
We were looking at an unusual energy reading.
Elevated thoron emissions in the plasma field.
lt might be an environmental by-product
created by increased traffic.
lt could be. Ships avoid the Denorios Belt.
We have no idea how so many engines might affect it.
The question is - will this cause us any problems?
We were hoping you could tell us.
...the queen's messenger watched the little man
as he danced, sang and laughed.
How he would soon have the daughter he wanted
because they would never guess that his name was...
- Rumpelstiltskin. - Right!
And the next day when the little man came and asked,
'Now, Mrs Queen, what is my name?'
She said, at first, 'Well, are you called Jack?'
'No,' he answered.
'Are you called Harry?'
'No,' he answered.
And then she said, 'Then perhaps your name is...?'
- Rumpelstiltskin! - 'Rumpelstiltskin.'
At the sound of his own name
the old man was so furious
that he stamped his foot, shaking the entire kingdom,
and he broke in two and disappeared.
And the king and the queen and their daughter
lived happily ever after.
Good night, little one.
- Sweet dreams. - l'm not tired.
Uh, uh, uh. None of that.
Good night, sweetheart.
Shall l tuck you in with a bedtime story, too?
- Only if you're tucked in with me. - Naturally.
- What is it, honey? - He's in my room.
- Who? - Rumpelstiltskin.
that was just make-believe.
Rumpelstiltskin isn't real, OK?
All right. l'll come in and check, but then it's bedtime.
Why do we tell her stories about evil dwarfs that steal children?
Don't look so distraught.
l'm only here to offer you my services if you should need them.
- Take her out of here. - What's wrong?
- Miles, what... - Please, just go.
A pity you're sending the ladies away.
All the life just went out of the room.
O'Brien to Security.
lntruder alert. Send a team to my quarters immediately.
On our way, Chief.
So where's the straw?
l assume you want gold spun from straw.
What are you?
Surely you must know.
You told the little one all about me.
l know what you look like, but you're not...
Don't say it! l don't like the sound of it, you know.
You didn't think that would make me disappear, did you?
Not this time. l learned my lesson back in the kingdom.
l don't make deals like that anymore.
The local constabularies.
Show me a bit of courtesy and l'll be very pleasant,
but touch me and you'll regret it.
Besides, l'm much too fast for you.
And now, my good host, if gold is not your pleasure,
tell me your needs and l'll tell you my price.
- O'Brien to Sisko. - Go ahead, Chief.
- l need you in my quarters. - l'm on my way.
- Dad, l've got to talk to you. - l don't have time. l'm...
Hello, Ben.
He followed me home from the holosuite.
- Jadzia! - Hello, Julian.
- What are you doing? - Waiting for you to wake up.
- l'm awake. - ls something wrong?
Funny, l was about to ask you the same question.
lt must be this Larosian virus that's been going around.
- How do you feel? - Wonderful.
No fever.
Must be me! Must be me.
Must be an allergic reaction
to the replicated antipasto l had at lunch.
Perhaps... l must be hallucinating.
- Why are you fighting this? - Why am l fighting this?
Why...am l fighting this?
l have no good answer to that question.
All senior officers report to Ops immediately.
OK. l get it.
Very funny. Did O'Brien put you up to this?
l don't know what you're talking about.
''Senior officers to Ops.''
Everybody has a good laugh at my expense.
- This is not a joke, Julian. - We'll see.
Ah, good. We have a small mystery on our hands.
Lieutenant Jadzia Dax and Dr Julian Bashir,
meet Harmon Bokai, a baseball player
who's been dead for 200 years.
l can't figure it out either.
And a medieval fairy-tale character named Rumpelstiltskin.
Fine. Now everyone knows my name.
Until today, he only existed in storybooks.
A pleasure, l'm sure.
Could this be related to increased thoron emissions in the plasma field?
Thoron emissions?
l think you'd better ask me, Benjamin.
l was hitting a few to the boy.
He's been moving well onto the ball.
We would have worked on some base running
except he was hungry and l was, too.
- A hologram with an appetite? - Hologram?
On the contrary, Major. He's quite real.
They all seem to be.
What the hell are they talking about, Ben?
You. You're not actually Buck Bokai.
So how come l'm wearing his uniform?
You're a hologram that l created
so we could play ball with you.
But l remember.
l remember all the games. All the opening days.
The homer that won the '42 World Series.
The squeaker that went under Eddie Newson's glove.
The day l broke DiMaggio's consecutive streak.
l programmed it into the computer.
All of it. Every statistic.
What foreign tongue are they speaking?
This one didn't come out of any holosuite.
He came out of your imagination, like Buck came out of Jake's.
His imagination?
Then l must have come out of your imagination, Julian.
Not necessarily.
How could this sort of thing possibly happen?
A subspace disruption.
Maybe some kind of dimensional shift.
l didn't see an anomaly on the plasma field
but the sensors could have missed it.
Julian, let's go to your quarters.
Please. l haven't got time for this.
- Odo to Sisko. - Go ahead.
- Do you have something to tell me? - Constable, what do you need?
Are the environmental controls broken down?
- lt's snowing on the Promenade. - 'Snowing?'
We're looking at five or six centimetres.
- We're going to Yellow Alert. - What's going on?
lt seems we're letting our imaginations run wild.
When l have an explanation, l'll give you one. Sisko out.
Yellow Alert? Against our own imaginations?
You have a better idea?
l think l've got something.
Look at the wave patterns.
The wave fronts are converging.
The particle density rises closer to the centre
but then it just drops off completely.
l'm reading no particulates at the core.
- What does that mean? - Whatever falls in there is just gone.
You were right. lt is some kind of subspace disruption.
l want a full analysis. Chief, get a class-4 probe ready.
Aye, sir.
ls there anything l can do to help?
- Odo to Ops. - Go ahead.
The snow's disappeared
but now there's a Gunji jackdaw running loose around here.
Just try to keep things under control. We're working on it.
Come along now. Come along.
There we go.
Ladies and gentlemen, may l have your attention, please?
Ladies and gentlemen,
and all androgynous creatures, your attention.
As you may have noticed, we're experiencing some difficulties.
l have to ask you to refrain from using your imaginations.
Just because you don't have an imagination,
don't ruin it for the rest of us.
Let me guess.
Another clever Federation experiment has gone awry
and you've turned the whole station into one vast holosuite.
The phenomenon is being investigated as we speak.
Well, tell them to take their time.
l haven't had a chance to show the ladies
my collection of Tartaras landscapes yet.
l'm surprised by your attitude, Quark.
You simply don't have the same appreciation for...
art as l do.
l'm surprised because every one of your customers is winning.
- What? - They're taking you to the poorhouse.
Dabo! Another winner!
No, that's not possible. Let me through!
Lose. Lose!
One cross...
Two cross.
No! No!
You're outnumbered, Quark. Pardon me. Pardon me.
l was afraid of this.
The proximity of the wormhole is amplifying the rupture.
The proton counts are going through the roof.
Dax to O'Brien. How's that probe, Chief?
l'll have the scanners programmed soon.
Keep me informed. Dax out.
l have the wave intensity analysis.
Computer, scan all data files
- for comparable wave intensity patterns. - Stand by.
l find this difficult to say but l want you to know, l would...
Julian, there's really no need to apologise.
ln a way l feel as if we've invaded your privacy.
We all have fantasies and dreams we keep to ourselves,
thoughts that should remain private.
- l'm glad you understand. - Of course l do.
l was a young man...once.
So we can put all this behind us?
- Of course. - Good.
The computer seems to be having trouble finding a match.
She really is submissive, isn't she?
ls that how you want me to be, Julian? So submissive?
l am not submissive. Am l?
Er...no. Well, l don't think so.
l'm just not the cold fish you are.
Cold fish?
Now l never said that.
lf you'd get down off your high horse
you'd start to appreciate Julian.
She has a sense of humour, as l imagine you do.
l could use one about now.
Come on, Lieutenant. Stop denying all those yearnings you feel.
lf you don't you'll never know what you missed.
- Pattern match found. - Just in the nick of time.
A similar subspace rupture was reported
in the Hanoli system in the 23rd century.
- l don't know where that is. - There's no reason you should.
When the rupture expanded, the system was destroyed.
Station Log, Stardate 46853.2.
We launched a probe to study the anomaly.
More than half the people aboard DS9
have reported manifestations of their imagined thoughts.
All probe systems are reading normal.
Calibrating sensors for subspace.
Three minutes to coordinates.
Wave patterns should begin fluctuating any time now.
The probe is penetrating the thoron field.
Two and a half minutes to coordinates.
For simpler times, eh?
- Go away. - l only want to help.
You're in the way.
A farmer from Derry once tried to chase me off...
until l saved his crops...
from locusts.
Two minutes to coordinates.
Thoron emissions are stable.
You know what l find intriguing about you, my good host?
You're afraid.
Of me.
Look, figment, l'm not afraid of anybody, least of all you.
90 seconds to coordinates.
- Figment, am l? - A figment of my imagination.
And yet you can't deny
how this imagination of yours empowers me.
Empowers me in a way that somehow terrifies you.
You should be getting primary data, Commander.
They're coming in now, Chief.
She is your firstborn, isn't she?
30 seconds to coordinates.
Thoron emission patterns unstable.
- Probe hull temperature dropping rapidly. - Ten seconds.
The probe's at the anomaly perimeter.
- That's strange. - What is it?
Negative readings on all sensors.
We may be looking at some sort of folded space.
What does the scanner on the probe give us?
lt's drawing in all the matter from the surrounding space.
Benjamin, it's getting larger.
Feel like taking some groundballs?
You're on a space station.
The only ball field around is a holographic simulation.
- lt's not real, and neither are you. - l don't get it.
l pinch myself and it hurts and l am here.
You are, but in a minute, who knows?
- When we get this figured out, you'll... - Disappear for good?
- l hope so. - You do? Let's just say l don't.
What should l do?
You got room for a switch-hitting third baseman with good power?
- Good power from the left side. - Left side? Ben! Hey!
Hey, Ben! What are you talking about?
l hit over 20 homers right-handed every year for three years.
Never more than ten after that.
Old Crow moved me to second.
l wish l had time for this.
Well, that was baseball's epitaph, wasn't it?
Nobody seemed to have time for us anymore.
l could have played five more years if they hadn't killed the game.
You were the best that ever played.
l know. l've played with them all.
- l've got work to do. - Hey, Ben.
lt really meant a lot to me - how much you cared.
That day we won the World Series
there were only 300 people in the stands.
301 in my version.
l heard you cheering.
Meant a lot to me.
l just thought you should know, you know,
in case l do finally disappear.
We don't know any more than when we started.
Why would mine create a woman, then reject her?
Why would mine create a dwarf that could terrify him?
We should abandon the whole thing.
Not yet. l made a connection with mine.
l sense a feeling from him,
affection for a ballplayer who died 200 years before he was born.
How long do you suggest we devote to this?
As long as it takes.
lt ain't over till it's over.
Station Log, supplemental.
The subspace anomaly continues to expand.
We've been unable to find a way to contain it.
As a precaution we have diverted all incoming ships away from the station.
A Vulcan mission to the Hanoli rift
detonated a pulse wave torpedo at the coordinates of the tear.
Five minutes later, the rupture expanded radically.
They were wiped out, along with the entire Hanoli system.
What happened to the rupture after that? lt's not still there?
lt reached a critical mass point and imploded
and then disappeared from normal space.
Did the Vulcans report about hallucinations?
Anything similar to what we're experiencing?
No, but they were only near the anomaly for 12 hours.
And Vulcans don't have the most active imaginations.
Were there any explanations offered for the initial cause of the rupture?
Nothing confirmed. But we know there were no wormholes
and little activity in the area before it formed.
We've looked for some common ground,
a way to attack this thing.
Frankly, sir, as funny as it sounds,
pulse wave torpedoes may still be the best approach.
lf it didn't work very well last time, why...
The Vulcans were using a primitive device.
We've developed far better ways of controlling the flux density.
We should be able to contain the reaction this time.
lf we can't, we destroy the whole Bajoran system.
Major, the rupture is already expanding.
We seal it or it destroys the system anyway.
lf it's small we have a better chance.
- How long will it take to make a torpedo? - Until 22:00 hours.
lf the rift expands before imploding we have to be prepared.
Route auxiliary power to shields.
Major, coordinate evacuation of the pylons. Odo can help you.
- Kira to Odo. - What is it?
Do a security sweep of the pylons. We're going to evacuate.
l've got my hands full now.
Clear the way! Let them through. Clear the way now!
Kira to Ops. Lower pylon one is gone. l need emergency...
Sisko to Kira. Report. Kira, can you read me?
Major Kira, report.
Disregard, Commander.
False alarm.
Kira out.
All personnel in lower pylon one,
report to outer ring airlock.
Prepare for evacuation.
Clear the way. Clear the way.
Stay inside. This isn't a show.
Odo! Odo!
Odo! Thank goodness.
l want to report two missing persons.
l'm busy! Don't scare them!
They're whispering sweet nothings then they're gone.
Will you get off the street, before...
Girls! l've been looking everywhere for you.
Don't ever do that to me again.
So, Odo, what have you conjured up during all this?
- Me? - l should have guessed. Nothing.
l've spent all my time chasing incarnations of the Prophets,
long-dead lovers, Gunji jackdaws,
blizzards, trollops...
Ah. As l always said, a man without any imagination.
Come along, my dears.
l'll show you what a fertile imagination can do.
Computer, run a level-1 personnel sweep of all pylons.
Requested function will take approximately three minutes.
Let me out of here!
Let me out of here!
Get the Nagus on subspace.
l want to talk to him, and l mean now!
l'm not spending another minute in this cell.
- How did you get in there? - How did l get in here?
You put me in here.
l guess l did, didn't l?
No imagination indeed. Ha!
Heads up, Jake.
- What are you doing here? - l've got homework.
But you'd rather be at the ball park.
lf l go to the holosuite, dad will kill me.
- Kill you? - Yeah.
- You really believe he'd kill you? - l know he would.
lf that's true, why you still thinking about going?
l'm trying not to.
But you're wondering if you can get away with it.
l couldn't understand the directions.
The computer accidentally erased the instruction page.
You really expect me to believe that?
No, l guess not.
l've really got homework to do.
l need to see you, Benjamin.
What do you have?
ln the last hour, the rupture's expanded 27%.
The rate of expansion is increasing.
Can we gain time by moving the station?
lf the rift collapses the implosion would overtake us.
How soon can you be ready?
l'm installing pulse wave devices in the torpedoes now.
Six, seven minutes.
The rift's large enough to pick up on visual scanners.
On screen.
All pylons are secured. Everyone's been moved to the habitat ring.
- You're worried. - You bet.
lf this doesn't work nothing real or imagined is going to survive.
Hold me.
- Torpedo's ready. - Status of shields?
All available power's been transferred.
Reading shield strength at 158% above normal.
Let's hope it's enough. Red Alert.
All systems functioning properly.
Torpedo guidance is on nominal track.
30 seconds to coordinates.
lmpulse sustainer throttling down.
Arming pulse wave initiator.
Torpedo hull temperature dropping.
- Activating pulse waves. - Compression level at 1,400 and rising.
- 20 seconds. - Compression at 2,900.
- 3,000. - Terminal targeting spread confirmed.
3,500. Holding compression.
Ten seconds.
- Ready to detonate? - Ready, sir.
Five seconds.
Wave intensity from the rift is dropping.
The thoron field boundary is shrinking.
Particle energy is rising.
- What? - Wave emissions are fluctuating.
- We're not getting a controlled collapse. - Chief?
We're picking up an exothermic reaction pattern.
lt may be neutralising the pulse waves.
Perimeter sensors are picking up a subspace oscillation.
Proton counts have tripled.
Pulse wave activity from our torpedoes is down to 14%.
The flux density readings inside the rupture are off the scale.
Odo to Ops!
Ops! Ops!
Com circuits are down.
l'll try to reroute pathways.
- Life support is normal. - Shields.
A generator's down.
- Odo to Ops. - Constable, check for casualties.
Move everybody out of section four. We have shield damage.
- What are we getting from the rift? - Sensors aren't operating.
Stand by, sir.
l can't feel my hands.
Lie still, lie still.
There's an emergency medical kit in the cabinet there. Get it.
- l'm sorry... - Shh.
- l never meant to bother you. - No, no.
You didn't bother me.
l can't keep my eyes open.
Don't close your eyes. You have a nasty concussion.
l can't help it.
Dax. Dax!
Sensors are back.
The rupture is continuing to widen -
340 times larger than before.
- ls it showing signs of collapsing? - Wave emissions are fluctuating.
l can't make sense of these readings.
Proton counts are lower than before.
And now they're rising again.
The pulse waves from our torpedoes have been neutralised.
The rift will expand again any time now.
- How much time? - Minutes.
Run out of ideas, friend?
l have a suggestion.
- Maybe l can help. - You?
You created me with powers beyond those of mortal men
and l would be happy to use them to assist you.
For a price.
l've always wanted a daughter.
Sensors picking up subspace oscillations again.
You can seal that rupture out there?
l can spin straw into gold, my friend.
This seems no more difficult.
Do it, damn it!
Will you meet my price?
This is crazy.
You're out of a storybook, a fairy tale.
Are you willing to give her up to save so many others?
No. He doesn't have to.
Dax, when did our sensors
first pick up traces of the rupture?
You were there when we first tried to work this out.
You said that your previous scans
hadn't picked up any anomalies.
l thought whatever was out there was too small to be scanned.
You imagined that we had a subspace rupture
and that's what it turned out to be.
That is what l imagined.
Once you'd learned about the rift that destroyed the Hanoli system,
we all imagined we might have another just like it.
- Mr O'Brien, drop the shields. - Sir?
There is no rupture. There is no threat to this station.
End Red Alert and drop the shields.
Aye, sir.
And believe it, Mr O'Brien.
lt's important that you believe it.
Aye, sir.
Are your sensors picking up magnetic shock waves?
- Yes, perimeter readings still show... - No shock waves at all.
None at all.
- Lieutenant, proton counts. - Normal.
lt's gone.
You're going to be fine.
Of course l am.
l have the best doctor in the galaxy.
None of this makes any sense.
Why did they appear at all?
lt might be related to the elevated thoron emissions.
The readings haven't returned to normal.
Continue your analysis, Dax,
but this time, no speculations, just facts.
Yes, Benjamin.
Major, keep us on Yellow Alert for 26 hours,
till we see that everything is back to normal.
Chief, take your family home. That's an order.
Aye, sir.
This imagination of yours -
it's a tough concept for us to get a handle on.
You're not a figment of my imagination?
We're on an extended mission exploring the galaxy.
We followed one of your ships through that hole in space.
We've been trying to figure out the rules of your game.
Why didn't you just talk to us like this?
You can never tell how someone will treat the visiting team.
l understand.
That's what this has been all about - learning to understand.
Was it really necessary to put the whole station in jeopardy?
But we didn't, Ben.
lt was you.
Your imaginations created everything.
We were just watching to see where it took you.
This imagination of yours.
We have never seen anything like it.
lt's very real to all of you but yet it's not.
At first, it seemed to us to be a curse, an irritation.
That Odo fellow called it a waste of time.
l disagree with him.
l knew you would. l learned that about you.
You can have an affection for someone you never met.
l wonder if you appreciate how unique
that imagination of yours really is.
- Not always. - We got to go.
But you haven't told us anything about your species.
l'd like to.
Maybe next year.

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