The Defiant searched the area for almost six hours.
- We couldn't find any sign of survivors. - The Cortéz was a good ship.
You knew Captain Swofford a long time.
l introduced him to his wife.
Patrolling the Cardassian borders is getting dangerous.
You never know when you'll meet Jem'Hadar.
l guess we popped the champagne cork too soon.
We thought the war was over when we retook the station
and pushed the Dominion back to Cardassian space.
Neither of us ever believed that.
A lot of good that did the 400 people on the Cortéz.
- How do you like our station so far? - Well, it certainly is big.
l heard about Quentin Swofford. l'm sorry.
Look, Dad. l know l haven't been very good company the last few days.
l didn't come here to be entertained. l came to see you and Jake.
You certainly picked an interesting time for your first trip away from Earth.
l figured it was now or never. Besides, l've been worried about you.
When we last talked, it seemed you were carrying
the weight of the Alpha Quadrant on your shoulders.
Sometimes it certainly feels that way.
- Dad... - Just say it, son.
l don't know how much more l can take, how many more friends l can lose.
Every time l achieve victory, something happens and everything turns to ashes.
What do you want to do?
Maybe l should step down, let someone else make the tough calls.
No one is indispensable, son. Not even you.
Whatever decision you make, l'll support.
Of course, if Quentin Swofford was here,
l bet he'd have a few things to say to you.
But he's not here, and that's the point.
l'd say you have some thinking to do.
l'm having dinner with my grandson, so you'd better get to it.
Who was that?
- Where'd he go? - Who?
- The man that just walked by my door. - l didn't see anyone.
l could have sworn...
l don't know why you're worried.
l'm not taking my ship anywhere near the border.
l realise that but the Dominion is getting bolder.
Your freighter is no match for a Jem'Hadar ship.
- They've got to catch me first. - You're not worried?
No. l'm fearless, and you know that. That's why you love me.
- l think l follow that logic. - Hey, Benny!
- Catch the game? - What?
- Who was that? - Who was who?
Ben? Where are you going?
Somebody needs to help him! Call an ambulance!
He's awake now.
- Ben, are you all right? - l think so.
- Thank God. - Dad, you scared us.
- What happened? - l don't know.
l'm reading some unusual synaptic potentials.
Your neural patterns are similar to last year.
When l was having those visions about Bajor?
Does this have something to do with those Prophets?
- He won't need surgery again, will he? - l'm not sure yet.
- So l'd like you to remain overnight. - ls that absolutely necessary?
Look at these readings.
You going to buy that or not?
l don't see the attraction. Flying saucers, men from Mars.
- What's wrong with men from Mars? - lt's all make-believe.
Me? l like war stories. Did you see ''From Here to Eternity''?
Burt Lancaster standing in the middle of Pearl Harbour,
machine gun blazing, shooting down those Zeroes.
lf it had been flying saucers, forget about it.
So you going to buy that or not?
- Benny! - Hello, Albert.
l thought you might be going to the office.
- We could walk there together. - Exactly.
There they are. You're looking at the Galaxy, l see.
Paper here! Paper!
Voila. A pitcher of water instantly becomes a pitcher of ice tea.
''White Rose Redi-Tea.'' What an appalling concept.
- H.G. Wells would've liked it. - l doubt it.
- No self-respecting Englishman would. - Pabst!
- What's wrong now, Herb? - Guess.
The ''Battle of the Doughnuts'', Round 28.
You want to complain about the doughnuts?
They're stale again.
- Delicious. - They're two days old, and you know it.
l know my doughnuts. These weren't baked more than six hours ago.
- l quit. l'm going over to Galaxy. - Galaxy? That rag?
- Who's winning? - Draw, as always.
- They won't pay you four cents a word. - You're paying him four cents a word?
- Did you see where l put the...? - The matches? l gave them to you.
- For that crap, you're lucky to get two. - l beg your pardon?
- What's that? - The latest Galaxy.
- Benny has the new issue of Galaxy. - Let me see that.
Heinlein, Bradbury, Sturgeon.
Quite a line-up. Add Herbert Rossoff and it'd be complete.
OK, fresh doughnuts tomorrow.
- l'll throw in a couple of crullers. - OK, l'll stay.
- Don't do us any favours. - Good.
Now we've finished with old business, on to the new.
Time for next month's assignments. Ritterhouse, we're waiting!
Let's see what Uncle Roy has for you today.
l've titled this one ''Please Take Me With You.'' Who wants it?
- Jules? - We can do something with it.
l'll bet you can. l can see it now...
the lonely little girl befriended by aliens who teach her how to smile.
lt's enough to make you buy a TV. Next.
Mr Pabst's favourite: ''Honeymoon on Andoras.''
So l had too much sauerkraut on my franks that night.
That is the worst piece of garbage l've ever seen. l'll take it.
You have an affinity for garbage.
The picture may be garbage but the story will be art.
l haven't got a title for this one yet. Anybody got any ideas?
l'll think of something.
Next order of business.
Our readers want to know what you people look like.
Say we look like writers. Poor, needy and incredibly attractive.
Our publisher has a better idea.
Mr Stone wants a picture of you in next month's issue.
- ls that absolutely... - Necessary? l'm afraid it is.
- Kay, you can sleep late that day. - Of course, l can.
God forbid the public ever finds out K.C. Hunter is a woman.
l suppose l'm sleeping late that day, too.
lt's not personal, but our readers think you're white. Let's keep it that way.
Yes, the world isn't ready for woman writer,
imagine what would happen if it learned about a Negro with a typewriter.
Run for the hills. lt's the end of civilisation.
What about W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes,
Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright? Did you ever hear of ''Native Son''?
That's literature for intellectuals.
The average reader won't spend cash on stories by Negroes.
- Someone put me out of my misery. - How l long for a gun.
Sorry. l wish things were different.
- Wishing never changed a thing. - Come on, it's just a photo.
l'll try to remember that.
You're a dog.
All right, get back to work.
Hey, hey, hey. What's the hurry?
- That's my drawing. - ls that so?
Nice suit. Where'd you get it?
l bought it. Can l have my drawing back?
Hey, boy. l'd watch that tone of voice if l were you.
- What are you doing here? - l work here.
- Where? - ln there.
- What are you, the janitor? - Awfully well-dressed for a janitor.
How do we know that picture's yours?
- lt's the drawing of a space station. - Space station?
Hey, hey...hey, hey.
- Get off it already. - OK.
See? lt's not worth anything except to me.
Let's say we run him in, check him for priors.
No, we got to be uptown in 15 minutes.
Take your drawing and get out of here.
You're getting off with a warning this time.
Next time, not so lucky. Now, get out of here.
You heard him. Move on.
l don't know, Kevin. This city's going to hell in a handbasket.
And he said to me, ''These words are trustworthy and true.
''And the Lord, God of the spirits of the Prophets,
''has sent an angel to show his servants what must soon take place.''
Praise the Lord. Open their eyes. Help them to see.
- Are you talking to me? - Oh, that my words were now written.
Oh, that they were printed in a book.
Write those words, Brother Benny.
Let them see the glory of what lies ahead.
''Benny''? How do you know my name?
Go now and write the truth that's in your heart,
the truth ''that shall set them free.''
Praise be the word of the Lord. Praise to the word of the Prophets!
Hey, baby. Have a seat. The usual?
- How about scrambled eggs? - My, aren't we feeling adventurous?
- l just wrote the best story of my life. - That's great, baby.
l've got some good news too.
l talked to Mrs Jackson last night
and she's serious about retiring in the next few years.
l asked about selling this place to us and she'd be willing.
Kassie, we have been over this. l have a job - l am a writer.
- And how much have you earned? - l've only been doing it a few years.
More like 15, if you count all those stories you wrote in the Navy.
- That was amateur stuff. - Oh, baby.
We're not getting any younger. Can't you see? This is our chance.
We can make some money. We can get married.
You're always talking about writing for the future. Well, this is our future.
Kassie, hear the game last night?
Went two for four, robbed Snider of a tater.
Should've heard the crowd yelling.
Sure, they want to know why the Giants are in fifth place.
Would you tell this fool to take his business someplace else?
l thought about it. Trouble is, if he did leave, he'd take my heart with him.
Suit yourself. But if you ask me, it's a waste of a very pretty heart.
l don't think so.
Strike three. You're out.
That's all right. l'll get another turn at bat.
- How about some steak and eggs? - Coming right up.
But tell me something. How come you still living uptown?
A famous ball player like you can live anywhere.
The hell l can. They can hardly get used to me playing with them.
Living next door? That's another story.
Besides, around here, when people look at me it's 'cause they admire me.
There, l'm just a coloured boy that can hit a curveball.
Now, if you will excuse me, my public awaits.
Ladies? Oh, hi, guys.
l'll see about those eggs.
- Hey, Benny. You wanna buy a watch? - How did you get that?
- l found it. - Jimmy, you got to turn this around.
One day you're going to be in some serious trouble.
- Anything l get into, l can get out of. - Keep thinking that, see what happens.
- Why you always lecturing me? - l'm trying to help.
Then buy this watch. l can use the cash.
- Why don't you get a job? - As what?
A delivery boy or a dishwasher?
No, thanks. l like being my own boss, setting my own hours.
Sounds like a great life.
Yours ain't no better, writing about white people on the moon.
l'm not doing that any more. l'm writing about us.
- Coloured people on the moon? - Check out next month's issue.
Coloured people on the moon. l just might do that.
But first, l'm going to need to raise me some cash.
She's got a worm in her belly! Oh, that's disgusting.
That's interesting, but disgusting.
...if you don't mind my asking, you are...?
l'm Mr Pabst's new secretary, Darlene Kursky.
- Which one of you wrote this? - l did.
- You? - Surprised?
lt's the best thing l've read since ''The Puppet Masters''.
- l read a lot of science fiction. - Bless you.
- The world needs more like you. - This story is really...
How should l put it? lt's very...
- lmpressive? - Yes.
lt's a damn fine piece of writing.
And ''Deep Space 9'' is a very intriguing title.
- Admirable. - The master of understatement.
What he means is he wishes he had half your talent.
You know what, Benny? l like this Major, she's a tough cookie.
Science fiction needs more strong women. l always say that, don't l?
- Ad nauseam, dear. - These Cardassians...
l like them, especially the neck ridges.
l'm going to do some sketches for you. Make a nice cover.
Don't waste your time. You, get back to work. You too, Roy.
Don't tell us you don't like this story.
l like it, it's very good. But you know l can't print it.
- Why not? - Come on, Benny.
Your hero's a Negro captain, the head of a space station, for Christ's sake.
- What's wrong with that? - lt's not believable.
- And men from Mars are? - Stay out of this, Herb. Look, Benny...
l am a magazine editor, not a crusader.
l'm here to put out a magazine,
l have to answer to the publisher, national distributors, wholesalers,
and none of them will want to put this story on the news-stand.
lt could cause a race riot.
Congratulations, Douglas. That's the most imbecilic attempt
to rationalise personal cowardice l've ever heard.
He's angry now.
Herb's been angry ever since Josef Stalin died.
- What does that mean? - You know.
You calling me a Red?
Calm down, dear boy. We're writers, not Vikings.
l'm not going to let some craven fascist call me a pinko and get away with it.
Douglas, what did you think of my story?
l loved it. Albert's got the right idea.
He's not interested in colour. He writes about robots.
That's because he is a robot. No offence, Albert.
l like robots.
They're very efficient.
Write me a novella based on this picture. l'll print it next month.
- Do a good job, you may get the cover. - What about my story?
Either burn it or stick it in a drawer for 50 years
or until the human race becomes colour-blind.
- l want people to read it now. - Fine. Make the captain white.
- That's not what l wrote! - lt's your call.
- l'm sorry they didn't buy your story. - l told you you were wasting your time.
A coloured captain! They'll only ever let us in space
if they need someone to shine their shoes. Ain't that right?
To be honest, l don't much care what happens in 100 years.
lt's today that matters.
Today or 100 years from now, there's no difference.
As far as they're concerned, we'll always be niggers.
- Things will change. They have to. - You keep telling yourself that.
Maybe this is happening for a reason.
You mean it's God's way of telling me l should quit writing
and go into the restaurant business?
Hey, it's possible.
l know we can make this work for us. We could be happy.
You don't have to give up writing altogether.
Maybe you could write for the Amsterdam News
or some other Negro newspaper.
l'm not a reporter, l'm a writer.
l write fiction. The Amsterdam News is not going to publish stories
about a space station 400 years into the future.
Hear the game last night?
l'm sorry. l didn't mean to frighten you.
- You don't look so good. You sick? - l'm fine.
- You want to lie down? - No, l just need some air.
- Are we still on for tonight? - l'll pick you up about 1000.
What are you doing till 1000?
Whatever it is, l won't be doing it with you.
Hello, Brother Benny.
You again. l don't understand what you want from me.
To follow the path of the Prophets.
Walk with the Prophets, Brother Benny. Show us the way.
What way? l don't know what you're talking about.
Write the words, Brother Benny, that will lead us out of the darkness,
onto the path of righteousness!
Write the words, Brother Benny! Write the words!
You forgot all about our date.
Our date! l'm sorry, l was working.
Ben Sisko? lsn't that your coloured captain?
Why are you writing about him? You couldn't sell the last story.
What makes you think this will be different?
lt probably won't be, but it doesn't matter. lt's what l've got to do.
Right now, what you've got to do is eat.
l'm not hungry. What time is it anyway?
lt's after midnight. l should be getting home to bed.
But before l go, what do you say we take a spin on the dance floor?
Feels good, doesn't it?
- l could stay like this forever. - Me too.
l wish we'd never heard of the Dominion.
- The Dominion? - What do you mean?
You said something about the Dominion.
- What is it, Ben? What's wrong? - l don't know.
l think l'm losing my mind.
What? Tell me what's wrong.
l'm starting to see things from my story. lt's as if l'm becoming Captain Sisko.
You just need some rest. lt's all right. lt's all right.
l'm with you. l'm with you. Just take it easy.
- Have you lost your mind? - l've been asking myself that too.
l offered you a shot at the cover.
lnstead of a novella, you come back with six stories,
six sequels to a story l refused to publish.
So the answer to the question we're both asking is yes, you're certifiable.
You should print your own stories.
Through a private publishing house. An elegant volume, 50 to 100 copies.
Write it in chalk on the sidewalk. More people would read it.
l've got an idea.
Why not make them, you know...a dream?
Just make the ending of your first story of ''Deep Space 9'' a dream.
- Would that make a difference? - That depends.
- On what? - On who's doing the dreaming.
Obviously someone... without a lot of hope.
A shoeshine boy, someone dreaming of a better future.
lt'd have to be if he was dreaming about a Negro captain.
Hold on. Making it a dream guts the story.
- Shut up! - l think it makes it more poignant.
And the other Sisko stories? They can't all be dreams.
Get this one published, then worry about the others.
What do you think, Benny?
it's better than chalk on the sidewalk.
- Six, seven... - Can l play?
Jimmy, great news. We're headed for the stars.
- Whatever. - l'll buy you lunch, tell you all about it.
- l got business to take care of. - What business?
- Big time. That's all l got to say. - Hold it.
- What are you talking about? - Don't worry. l got it under control.
l'll see you around.
Bottom of the seventh, l'm up again.
0-2 fastball, bam, into the left field bleachers! Had to be 400 feet.
l know all about it, l read the newspaper.
But you got to admit, they don't tell it like l tell it.
Hear the game last night? l went two for four.
Willie, that's great. But l just hit a grand slam.
They are publishing my Sisko stories, three cents a word!
Tonight we celebrate. Dancing, the works.
- l'll wear my red dress. - Damn right you will.
Three cents a word!
- There you are. - My poor feet.
You better marry me soon. l'm not getting any younger.
Yes, but you are getting more beautiful day by day.
l'd be happy just to spend my life
waiting on your beck and call...
l was hoping l'd see you again. l did it. My story's getting published.
''And the light of the Lord is in his path.'' But, Brother Benny,
this is only the beginning of your journey, not the ending.
And the path of the Prophets sometimes leads to darkness and pain.
Benny, what is he talking about?
- Who are you? - l speak with the voice of the Prophets.
And in their words, ''Hope and despair walk arm in arm''.
Did you understand any of that?
ls that gunfire?
- What happened? - What's it to you?
- l know him. - He was breaking into a car.
- You shot him for that? - He had a weapon.
- A crowbar! - Yes. Now, step back.
Stop it! Stop it! Let him go! Stop it, please!
Get off of me! Stop it! You're going to kill him!
You're going to kill him! Stop it!
Baby, you've been cooped up in this apartment for weeks.
- Going to the office will do you good. - l suppose you're right.
l should be there when this month's issue comes in.
Absolutely. After all that work you did you deserve to see your story in print.
Just no jumping up and down with excitement.
Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself.
l will restrict myself to a proud grin.
You're not having more hallucinations, are you?
''lt Came From Outer Space''?
lt's a smashing title. l wish l'd thought of it.
Hey, Benny. Long time no see.
- ls it here? - Not yet.
- Pabst is still at the printer. - We await his return with bated breath.
We heard that...that you were...
We heard they beat the hell out of you.
Glad to see that you're, you know, up and about.
- Tell him the good news, Albert. - Yes.
- Oh, it's nothing. - Nothing?
He sells a novel to Gnome Press and it's nothing?
- Novel! Albert, congratulations. - Thank you.
- Robots? - What else?
lt's about time.
There isn't any magazine. Not this month anyway.
Mr Stone had the entire run pulped.
- He can't do that. - He can and he did.
He believes, quote, ''This issue did not
live up to our usual high standards,'' unquote.
- What's that supposed to mean? - lt means he didn't like it.
Which means the public will simply have to get along
without any ''lncredible Tales'' this month.
What exactly is it that he did not like? The artwork, the layout?
- What ''high standards'' does he mean? - Take it easy, Benny.
No, it's about my story, isn't it? That's what this is all about.
He didn't want to publish my story and we all know why.
Because my hero is a coloured man.
This magazine belongs to Mr Stone. lf he doesn't want to publish, we don't.
- lt's not right, and you know it. - Don't tell me what l know.
Besides, it's not about what's right. lt's about what is.
l'm afraid l've got some more bad news, Benny.
Mr Stone has decided your services are no longer required here.
- What? - You're firing me?
l have no choice, Benny. lt's his decision.
You can't fire me. l quit.
To hell with you, and to hell with Stone!
- Try to stay calm, Benny. - No! l'm tired of being calm.
- Calm never got me a damn thing. - l'm warning you.
lf you don't stop this l'll call the police.
You go ahead! Call them! Call anybody you want.
They can't do anything to me, not anymore. Nor can any of you!
l am a human being, damn it.
You can deny me all you want, but you cannot deny Ben Sisko. He exists.
That future, that space station, all those people, they exist in here.
ln my mind, l created it.
And every one of you know it. You read it.
lt's here! You hear what l'm telling you?
You can pulp a story, but you cannot destroy an idea.
Don't you understand? That's ancient knowledge. You can't destroy an idea.
That future, l created it, and it's real!
Don't you understand? lt is real!
l created it, and it's real! lt's real.
Rest easy, Brother Benny.
You have walked in the path of the Prophets.
There is no greater glory.
- Tell me, please. Who am l? Don't you know?
You are the dreamer...and the dream.
- How long was l out? - Only for a few minutes.
- Seemed like forever to me. - That's odd.
Your neural patterns have returned to normal.
- That's good, isn't it? - lt's very good.
l just don't understand how it happened.
- How are you feeling, son? - l'm OK.
l'm done packing. Transport leaves at 8:00 in the morning.
- l wish you could stay longer. - l've got to get back to the restaurant.
My customers have never gone this long without me.
The question is, what are you going to do?
The only thing l can do. Stay here and finish the job l started.
- ''And if l fail...'' - ''l have fought the good fight.
''l have finished the course. l have kept the faith.''
l've never known you to quote from the Bible.
l'm full of surprises, aren't l? And so are you.
Sounds like that dream you had helped you sort things out.
l suppose it did.
But l have begun to wonder. What if it wasn't a dream?
What if this life we're leading,
all of this, you and me, everything,
what if all of this is the illusion?
- That's a scary thought. - l know. l know.
But maybe, just maybe, Benny isn't the dream, we are.
Maybe we're nothing more than figments of his imagination.
For all we know, at this very moment,
somewhere far beyond all those distant stars,
Benny Russell is dreaming of us.