Captain's Log, Stardate 5007 4.3.
We have detected evidence that a wormhole recently appeared
and then disappeared in a nearby solar system.
We're on our way there to investigate.
Based on the residual neutrino levels,
l'd estimate it's been at least six months
since the wormhole's last appearance.
From the dispersal pattern of the interstellar plasma,
it looks like it isn't fixed.
lt seems to be traveling through space.
lt may not be fixed on this end,
but if it's shown up in the same location more than once,
it's possible its exit point is constant
and it's wagging around the Delta Quadrant
like the tail on a dog.
the last-known coordinates of the wormhole, Captain.
All stop.
Mr. Kim, initiate continuous neutrino scans.
Aye, Captain.
Mr. Tuvok, scan the planets in this system for life signs.
Maybe there's someone around here
who can give us some helpful information.
l am picking up an M-Class atmosphere
on the second planet.
Humanoid life signs.
However, metallurgic
analysis indicates a preindustrial civilization,
a Bronze-Age level of technology.
Curious, Captain.
What is?
l'm detecting evidence that these people
have had contact with the Alpha Quadrant.
What kind of evidence?
lt is a modulated energy discharge
that appears to be consistent with the recent use...
of a replicator.
lf they've got a replicator,
it could mean the wormhole leads to the Alpha Quadrant
and that someone's traveled through it.
l appreciate your enthusiasm, Ensign,
but before we indulge in too much speculation,
let's see if we can back up your assumptions with some facts.
Commander Chakotay, l want you and Lieutenant Paris
to go down to that planet and have a look around.
Launch a high-resolution reconnaissance probe
to gather information
about the local population's dress and appearance.
Aye, Captain.
ln the meantime, Ensign, why don't you
and Lieutenant Torres get started on a phase profile
of this elusive wormhole's neutrino emissions.
Let's see if we can confirm that it leads
to the Alpha Quadrant.
Captain's Log, Stardate 5007 4.5.
Based on information provided by the probe,
we have replicated local attire
for Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Paris.
They have gone to the surface to investigate.
This is where we picked up a replicator signature?
Hard to believe, isn't it?
''Oh, those many years ago,
''the people's hearts were sad and low,
''then the Sages to the city came.
''They came upon a burning flame.
''Just as the seer said they would,
they lifted Takar's blinding hood.''
what did you think?
lt was...
uh, very nice.
l'll wager you've never heard ''The Song of the Sages''
more beautifully or faithfully recited.
He's got a point.
We have never heard ''The Song of the Sages''
more beautifully recited.
As you know, the first verse is free,
but the next verse will cost you three frangs.
l'm sorry. Not today.
But l need money...
for ointment for my eye.
Please, gentlemen...
Oh, go away, old man.
Can't you see?
These are men of commerce.
They have no business with your silly poems.
And may l say, gentlemen, you both have very fine shoes.
Excuse me?
Well, the Sages say you can tell a great deal
about a man from his shoes,
and l can tell from your shoes that you're men of refinement...
We've really got to be going.
Well, you're obviously new in Takar.
Perhaps l could interest you in some property.
No, thank you.
We're not planning on settling here.
What about some transportation?
The Sages say ''time's an asset.''
And you shouldn't waste your assets
walking everywhere you go.
You'd be wearing out those fine shoes of yours.
l'm sorry, but we're really not interested.
Excuse me.
l'm picking up a narrow-band EM dampening field
around that building.
lt looks like some sort of temple.
Then l'd say the temple's where we ought to look.
Oh, thank the Sages l found you.
You can't enter the temple without wearing your ears.
Look, friend, l thought l told you...
What do you mean ''wearing your ears?''
You're really not Takarian, are you?
Nobody visits the temple
without displaying at least one ear.
lt must be some sort of fetish.
lf you're not wearing an ear, you could be fined,
even arrested.
Wouldn't want that to happen.
And let me guess.
lt just so happens
that you could sell us a couple of these ears.
As a matter of fact...
l can.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
l've been asked to join Lieutenant Torres
and Ensign Kim in the Science Lab
to hear what they've termed as ''very exciting news.''
We've been able to confirm
that the wormhole does lead to the Alpha Quadrant.
The problem is that on this end,
it's jumping from point to point so quickly
that even at maximum warp,
by the time we got to its next probable location,
it would be gone.
So we were thinking
if you can't bring the ship to the wormhole,
bring the wormhole to the ship.
We've detected a subspace instability
at our current location
that's a result of the wormhole's last appearance here.
lf we could somehow amplify and polarize that instability,
we might be able to get the wormhole to reappear.
Sort of like using a magnet to move a compass needle.
The question is:
How do we polarize the instability?
Uh, we haven't figured that part out yet.
Gentlemen, as the Sages say, your goods are now my goods.
And my feet are now cold.
Perhaps l could
interest you in some discounted mining futures.
Don't push your luck.
You know, so far,
l can't say that l like this town very much.
On the other hand...
My friends...
the Holy Sages.
Behold the Holy lcon.
Greed is eternal.
Greed is eternal.
Greed is eternal.
Greed is eternal.
Now what other wisdom have you learned from the Sages?
''A wise man can hear profit in the wind.''
A wise man can hear profit in the wind.
Chakotay to Voyager.
Janeway here.
We found the replicator, Captain.
A wise man can hear profit in the wind.
And now, dear friends, in our great beneficence,
we will allow you to come forward
to honor our greatness and glorify our generosity.
Approach the Holy Sages.
Approach your gods and speak your heart.
l am a sandal maker
from the poorest quarter of the city.
The laziest, you mean.
Speak, my friend.
What is your business with the Sages?
l am in need of assistance.
My sandal shop is failing.
l can no longer feed my family.
Same old song.
My wife and her mother, my five children, the baby.
That's seven employees-- eight, if you count the infant.
How can your shop be failing?
You're not paying them, are you?
My mother-in-law is ill.
My children are very young.
Oh. Don't tell me none of them are working.
lgnorant, lobeless fools!
Exploitation begins at home.
Exploitation begins at home.
Exploitation begins at home.
Exploitation begins at home.
l understand my mistake
and l promise to begin exploiting my family
before the end of the day,
but could l have some food and some medicine?
Until my business improves.
You shall have something far more valuable--
one copy of The Rules of Acquisition.
Cheapest binding possible.
That'll be ten frangs.
But l...
That's all for today.
You may return tomorrow.
Captain's Log, supplemental.
The away team has returned
with some very disturbing observations
about the situation on the planet.
lt seems the people have a myth--
an epic poem called ''The Song of the Sages,''
which predicts the arrival
of two demigods from the sky, the Sages,
who would rule over the people as benevolent protectors.
But these Ferengi are anything but benevolent.
What they've done is co-opt the local mythology
by using advanced technology like the replicator
to convince the people
that they're the two Sages spoken of in the poem.
Of course, being Ferengi,
they haven't just co-opted the mythology.
They've cornered the market... on everything.
lt's disgusting, Captain.
The two Ferengi live in a palatial temple,
while the people are lucky to have a roof over their heads.
Apparently, it wasn't always like that.
According to the people that we met,
before the Ferengi came, the society may have been primitive,
but it was flourishing.
What l'd like to know
is how two Ferengi got to the Delta Quadrant.
We've been looking into that. Mr. Tuvok.
According to Starfleet computer records,
approximately seven years ago,
the Federation Starship Enterprise hosted negotiations
for ownership of the Barzan wormhole.
lncluded among the bidding parties were two Ferengi--
minor functionaries known as Arridor and Kol.
And this Barzan wormhole--
it's the same one we've discovered now?
Apparently, but we've confirmed what nobody knew at the time.
The wormhole is fixed in the Alpha Quadrant,
but in the Delta Quadrant, it jumps around.
lt turned out to be worthless.
But the Ferengi were not aware of that,
and during a nefarious attempt
to secure the wormhole for themselves,
they were pulled into it and deposited in the Delta Quadrant.
Now that we've found them, what are we going to do with them?
Well, l certainly don't intend to leave them here
to continue exploiting an innocent society.
How are you two coming with getting
the wormhole back here and reopened?
We've been bombarding the area of the subspace instability
with verteron particles.
So far, everything is going according to plan,
but it's tricky.
There are a hundred factors
that could deflect it from this sector--
a gravimetric shift, a solar flare...
And even if we're lucky enough to get it here,
it won't be around for long.
We'll have a very short window of opportunity
to get through.
Well, if we can get the wormhole here,
we'll be taking two additional passengers with us.
We'll turn them over to Ferengi authorities when we get there.
Captain, l must remind you
that the Ferengi are not members of the Federation.
They are not bound by the Prime Directive,
nor would it seem that the Prime Directive
would allow us to interfere
with the internal affairs of this society,
as much as we may disapprove of what the Ferengi are doing.
The Federation did host the negotiations,
and if it weren't for those negotiations,
the Ferengi wouldn't be here.
So one could say...
without being unreasonable, l think,
that the Federation is partially responsible for what's happened
and therefore, duty bound to correct the situation.
That is a most logical interpretation, Captain.
147, 148...
Profits from the Ga'nah Province are down.
Are you listening to me?
l said profits from the Ga'nah Province are down.
Profits are down?
Hey, both of you leave me alone.
Can't you see l'm trying to conduct business here?
l'm... sorry...
lt's just that...
they can't get enough of my lobes.
Where were we?
Oh, yeah. Profits are down?
And what are we going to do about it?
What are you looking at me for?
Ask that idiot Kafar.
He's in charge of collections in the Ga'nah Province.
You called, Great Sage?
What is the 95th Rule of Acquisition?
''Expand or die''?
He knows the rules better than you do.
He does not.
And where is it
we've been trying to expand... this month?
lnto the Ga'nah Province, Great Sage.
And who is in charge of collections
in the Ga'nah Province?
l am, Great Sage.
Then why are profits down, you idiot?!
Where's our money?!
Please forgive me, Lesser Sage.
Oh, l told you to stop calling me...
Who are you?
Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager.
The Federation?
Shut up, Kol. Let me handle this.
What, may l ask
is the Federation doing in the Delta Quadrant?
lt's a long story, but suffice it to say,
we've been stranded here for the past two years.
We're on our way back to the Alpha Quadrant
and we're taking you with us.
This is an outrage.
We won't allow you to tr...
You're crazy.
lt would take decades to get back from here.
Show them, Mr. Tuvok.
We have been bombarding
a local subspace instability with verteron particles.
lf all goes according to plan, the Barzan wormhole
should reopen at our present location
in a matter of hours.
And if all doesn't go according to plan?
One way or another, you're coming with us.
We've been kidnapped...
from the embrace of bliss.
lt's all over.
No more limitless profits...
no more unquestioning adulation of the masses...
no more quadruple lobe rubs.
lf l'm not mistaken, Captain, the Federation has rules,
and those rules forbid you
to interfere with indigenous cultures.
What about your interference?
You've taken these people's religion
and manipulated it for your own selfish purposes,
pretended to be their Sages.
Who's to say we aren't their Sages, Captain?
Don't be ridiculous.
The song is sung of Sages who can perform miracles,
which, thanks to our replicator, we do.
The song is sung of men
coming from the sky on a burning flame--
when we crash-landed our shuttle
in their quaint little town square,
trailing behind us a roaring ribbon of burning plasma.
You mean we really are the Sages?
The point is, Captain, that these people
have believed for centuries that gods, known as the Sages,
would deliver them from their strife.
To them...
we are those Sages.
What happens to a people when they lose their gods?
And how can you...
as a moral people,
blithely tear down the spiritual structure
that has supported a community
since before their gods were flesh?
What would you be leaving them with?
Tell us, Arridor, tell us.
That was beautiful.
Mr. Tuvok...
transport them back to the surface.
We did it, Arridor.
We won.
We can't just leave the Ferengi there
to continue exploiting those poor people.
But Arridor is right.
We can't kidnap their gods either.
What other option is there?
What if the gods didn't just disappear
suddenly and inexplicably?
What if they left voluntarily? Gracefully?
The gods would be gone,
but the people would be prepared for it,
and they might accept it
as a natural, ordained occurrence.
But how do we get two Ferengi to just walk away
from a monopoly on an entire economy?
What motivates a Ferengi?
Then we must find a way
to make it more profitable for them to leave.
Or less profitable to stay.
How do we do that?
We have to out-Ferengi...
the Ferengi.
There we are.
l've reconfigured the matter/antimatter generator
to produce an ionic disruption field
around the temple square.
No more unexpected beam-outs.
Let's see how smart those hu-mans think they are now.
You called, Great Sage?
Find out who has the audacity
to disturb us in our Divine Vault.
And make it quick.
Who has the audacity to disturb the Holy Sages
in their Divine Vault?
-Grand Nagus! -Grand Nagus!
Not the Grand Nagus.
l'm his official messenger--
the Grand Proxy.
But, Grand Proxy, how did you...?
Through the Barzan wormhole.
The hu-mans stabilized it
temporarily, and were kind enough
to send a probe through
informing us of your... impressive operation.
Well, of course the Grand Nagus, or his official messenger
the Grand Proxy, is always welcome in our little world--
our rather poverty-stricken little world--
and we're thrilled he has taken an interest
in our very modest operation.
lf l were you,
l'd save the groveling for the Nagus himself.
Y-You mean, the Grand Nagus is coming here, too?
Of course not, you idiot.
You two are going to him.
You've been recalled.
We're ruined.
You will be leaving immediately.
This is not a time to lose one's lobes.
l'll think of something.
Perhaps the Grand Nagus doesn't understand
that profits in this market depend upon our presence.
You see, to these people, we're, well... gods, actually.
Without us to make the fools cower in submission,
there will be no profits to be had.
The Grand Nagus knows all about your little scheme--
''The Song of the Sages'' and all the rest of it.
Very clever.
But he wants you and all your acquisitions
back on Ferenginar before the wormhole closes again.
l'm sure the Grand Nagus wouldn't want to lose
such a lucrative revenue stream.
The wormhole seems to open and close on its own
every seven or eight years.
We would be willing to forward a fair share
of the profits every time it does.
Say, hmm... 20 percent?
That's coming out of your half.
Shut up.
The Grand Nagus has no intention
of losing profits from this market.
That's why he's already got a team of scientists
investigating the hu-man's technology--
to see if we can find a way to open and close the wormhole
whenever we want.
Then perhaps the Grand Nagus could simply recall one of us
and leave the other behind to administer the operation.
You could take Kol back with you.
Hey, wait a minute! l don't think that...
That's enough!
The Grand Nagus has recalled you both.
lt's nonnegotiable.
Of course, the Nagus
doesn't want to upset the local population.
He may want to send others in your place.
That's why he wants you to make a little speech
telling the people that their Holy Sages have been recalled
to the Divine Treasury,
or whatever it is the people around here call it.
Then he wants you to tell them not to worry--
that everything will be all right without you.
Then he wants you to thank them for their generosity.
Thank them?
The 299th Rule of Acquisition--
''Whenever you exploit someone, it never hurts to thank them.
That way, it's easier to exploit them the next time.''
Wait a minute.
There's only 285 Rules of Acquisition.
You've been gone a very long time.
By the way, did l mention that the Nagus is appropriating
all your holdings?
-What? -All?
The least you can do is let us keep the females.
l'll be back in 20 minutes to approve your speech.
l suggest you start writing.
Come with me!
Of course, Greater Sage.
What are we going to do?
What a Ferengi always does in a situation this grave.
No, you idiot!
He goes to the Rules of Acquisition.
Unabridged and fully annotated with all 47 commentaries,
all 900 major and minor judgments,
all 10,000 considered opinions.
There is a Rule for every conceivable situation.
Looks like Neelix is pulling off quite a performance.
There you are.
Don't push.
There's plenty to go around.
Oh, you're quite welcome.
ls he another Sage?
Have you ever seen a Sage give away money?
''Grand proxy, avoidance of...''
''Grand proxy, censure by...''
''Grand proxy, encounters with...''
''See 'hopeless situation.'''
l told you there was no rule.
Then it's time to invoke the unwritten rule.
The unwritten rule?
When no appropriate rule applies...
make one up.
That's a very good rule.
Now, let's see.
What should it be?
The Grand Proxy is the Nagus's official messenger, right?
l've got it.
When the messenger comes to appropriate your profits...
kill the messenger.
Thank you! Thank you!
Show yourselves!
We can't keep the Grand Nagus waiting!
lf you say so.
What is the meaning of this?
You're not very bright for a Grand Proxy.
Ex-Grand Proxy.
But the Grand Nagus...
ls on the other side of the galaxy.
l'm not...
l'm not the Grand Proxy.
Oh, no? Who are you then?
Stop! My name is Neelix.
Neelix? That's not a Ferengi name.
l'm not Ferengi.
l've never even met the Grand Nagus.
A likely story.
lt's true.
l'm wearing a disguise.
l'm really a Talaxian, a crewman on Voyager.
lf you're not Ferengi,
prove it!
l'm not sure how.
Doesn't that hurt?
l can't feel a thing.
He really isn't a Ferengi.
On your feet.
All right, Talaxian, back to your ship.
And tell those hu-mans
to keep their hands out of our pockets...
or else.
And stay out!
We won. We won!
No, my friend.
Not exactly.
To be precise...
we won again.
What happened?
Suffice it to say, they know l'm not the Grand Proxy.
Oh, great.
Let's get to the shuttle.
Who are you?
l'm... uh...
You are another Holy One, aren't you?
That's right.
Uh... another Holy One.
Then you'll appreciate this.
''The Sages in the sky did dwell
''upon white clouds that held them well,
''until the sentry rang the bell,
the Holy Sages never fell.''
That'll be three frangs, please.
But we didn't ask you to recite it.
You heard it, didn't you?
Your poem's very nice, but we're in a hurry.
No, please, sir.
My eye.
Look, friend, l'm sorry about your eye, really, but...
Wait a minute.
Wasn't your patch... on the other side?
We've got to go.
Wait, please.
l'll throw in another verse gratis.
''But when the ringing called them here,
from the sky they did appear...''
Tell me something.
What happens to the Sages at the end of the song?
Oh... let me see now.
The final verse.
lt's been a very long time, you know.
Those are very handsome shoes you have, sir.
Ah, yes.
lt's coming back to me now.
''And there amid the eastern lights,
''three new stars appeared that night
''and with the ringing of the bell,
''the Sages knew where they must dwell.
''The Holy Pilgrim led them back,
''high into the sky of black
''and riding on the wings of fire,
the holy men rose higher and higher...''
Wait a minute.
l know who you are.
l am the Holy Pilgrim.
Did you hear that?
The Holy Pilgrim.
The Holy Pilgrim?
The Holy Pilgrim!
The Holy Pilgrim! The Holy Pilgrim!
l have come to fulfill the destiny
that is prophesied in ''The Song of the Sages.''
What in the name of eternal destitution is going on here?
Ah, there you are.
Do you not recognize me?
l am the Holy Pilgrim.
The Holy Pilgrim?
Who's the Holy Pilgrim?
Quiet, you idiot.
This man is no Holy Pilgrim.
He's a Talaxian!
Oh, no, Great Sage. You are mistaken.
l am indeed the Holy Pilgrim
and just as ''The Song of the Sages'' promises,
l have come to lead you back, high into the sky of black.''
l have prayed for this day to come.
Lead them back.
Lead them back. Lead them back. Lead them back.
Lead them back. Lead them back.
What do they mean, lead us back?
l don't know.
lt must be part of the song.
l told you we should've listened to the whole thing.
Well, it looks as though you two
will be heading off to see the Grand Nagus after all.
We'll see about that.
This man...
This man?
ls a false pilgrim.
He's come to steal your profits.
l'm not a false pilgrim
and l'll prove it.
That's our cue.
Chakotay to Voyager.
On my mark.
Stand by to initiate the photon burst, Mr. Kim.
Aye, Captain.
Captain, l am still unable to penetrate
the Ferengi dampening field.
lf the away team experiences difficulties,
we will be unable to beam them out.
Keep working on it.
ln the meantime,
we'll just have to rely on their ingenuity
to get themselves out of there if trouble arises.
The song says that
''Amid the eastern lights, three new stars
appeared that night.''
Look, my friends.
Right up there.
lnitiating photon bursts.
lt's a trick.
He's a fraud, l tell you.
Kafar, arrest this man.
Well, arrest him!
Ow! Stop!
My ears!
What do you think you're doing?!
Like the song says, Lesser Sage...
''With the ringing of the bell,
the Sages knew where they must dwell.''
Like the song says, you Sages, it's time for you
to go back where you came from.
Yes! Yes!
To the sky!
And they must go on wings of fire!
Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
Wings of fire!
We are your gods! This is outrageous!
-Look, we are your gods. -l am your god.
We're the Sages.
Hands off of your god.
No. No.
Wait a minute, people.
There's no reason to interpret
''The Song of the Sages'' so literally.
Kafar! Stop them!
We are fulfilling the destiny of the Sages.
l am the Holy Pilgrim and l have come to tell you
that there's another verse to the song.
lt's uh, uh...
Please, don't burn the Holy Ones.
l am sorry, Holy Pilgrim, but that's not part of the song.
Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
Wings of fire!
Commander, l think now would be a very good time
for that beam-out.
Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
We've got to disable the dampening field,
so they can beam us out of here.
Where's the generator?
ln the vault!
Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
Wings of fire! Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
Wings of fire! Wings of fire! Wings of fire!
We still cannot establish a transporter lock, Captain.
Boosting power to the annular confinement beam.
What is it now?
We had seven years of pure profit.
We did, didn't we?
l can't shut it down.
Stand back.
The Holy Ones have ascended!
ls everyone okay down there, Commander?
We're all here in one piece, Captain.
Good work.
Report to the Bridge
as soon as everything is in order.
We'll be entering the wormhole in approximately seven minutes.
We're not going through any wormhole
without our possessions.
Listen, friend, you're lucky to be alive.
We beamed your shuttle to the Shuttle Bay.
As for the rest of your possessions,
they're back in the hands of the people
you stole them from.
Ensign Murphy, escort these... men to secured quarters.
This is outrageous.
l'll hold you personally responsible
for any losses we suffer.
We'll sue!
Shield status, Mr. Tuvok.
Shields are optimal.
Mr. Paris, engage maneuvering thrusters
and ease us into position.
Aye, Captain.
Sick Bay to Lieutenant Tuvok.
Go ahead, Doctor.
Ensign Murphy was just found unconscious on Deck 2.
lt's a severe concussion.
We suspect foul play.
Murphy was escorting the Ferengi to their quarters.
Captain, security has been breached in the Shuttle Bay.
Seal that airlock, Mr. Tuvok.
The Ferengi have phasered the Shuttle Bay door.
They are exiting the ship.
Activating emergency containment field.
They're setting a course for the planet, Captain.
Lock a tractor beam on to that shuttle.
The gravitational effects of the wormhole
are refracting the beam.
l can't get a lock.
The Ferengi are hailing us, Captain.
On screen.
Thank you for all your assistance, hu-mans.
lt was lovely doing business with you.
We'll be heading back into orbit
to transport our acquisitions aboard.
Beam those men back now, Mr. Kim.
l'm trying, but the targeting scanners are out of phase.
Try setting the scanners
to a narrow-band subspace frequency.
What is it?
They're trying to beam us back to their ship again.
They're using some sort of subspace carrier wave.
Do something!
Shields to maximum.
Shields are at maximum!
Send out a high-energy graviton pulse.
Let's see their transporter signal cut through that.
Captain, the Ferengi are emitting a graviton pulse.
lt's throwing the targeting scanners off again.
Not only that, it's destabilizing the wormhole.
Captain, a gravitational eddy from the wormhole
is attracting the Ferengi shuttle.
They're being pulled in.
Reverse thrusters!
They're off-line!
Follow them in before that wormhole collapses, Mr. Paris.
Aye, Captain.
Resetting the coordinates.
Captain, the entrance to the wormhole is moving.
The Ferengi graviton pulse
must have increased its rotational momentum.
Adjusting course to follow.
lt's too fast for us, Captain.
l need more speed.
Mr. Tuvok, divert auxiliary power to the thrusters.
lt's not enough.
lnitiate a high intensity impulse burst.
Mr. Kim, reinitiate the verteron field.
Maybe we can attract the wormhole back.
The Ferengi graviton pulse knocked the wormhole
completely off its subspace axis.
lt's jumping erratically now on both ends.
There are none.
Mr. Paris, reset a course for the Alpha Quadrant.
Warp 6.
Aye, Captain.
The Holy Ones are going home!

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