In which we prepare for war, a paradigm shifts, and the meaning of the word ‘home’ is called into quesiton.
Last season on Deep Space Nine, Sisko went to the Gamma quadrant and got captured by the footsoldiers of the Dominion. The Dominion is not pleased about the colonization of their space, and burned a Bajoran colony to the ground. Jadzia Dax casually told their representative that the Federation goes where it damn well pleases, and they blew up a Galaxy-class ship and war was pretty much declared, with Deep Space Nine as the front line. Also, you were there and it was two days ago, so I’m not sure why I bothered with the recap.
Deep Space Nine is in no way prepared for this sort of heat. Their best simulations show them losing the station in two hours. O’Brien explains that the station doesn’t have the power or the armament to do better, so Kira’s next contingency is guerilla warfare. It’s been done before, but that was when the people taking it had an interest in keeping the station intact. During this discussion, because no conversation is ever allowed to end naturally in Star Trek, a hidden object pegs scanners. It’s 300 meters away from the station, which is just outside the shield bubble, so now we know how big said bubble is.
The cloaked Object turns out to be a Federation ship of a style we’ve never seen before. The NCC 74205 is similarly shaped to the Jem’Hadar ships – small, one hull, flat and wide. It’s clearly Federation style, but the nacelles are integrated with the main hull. Oh, and it has a cloak, which is forbidden by treaty. Sisko shows up on the bridge of the Defiant to declare that he just loves an entrance. The Defiant is an escort vessel, designed by Starfleet five years ago to be a purpose-built warship. No families or science labs. Just a massive power core and big guns, and when the Borg threat receded, it was mothballed due to some problems during the shakedown cruise – it was too powerful. Sisko’s mission, therefore, is to take the USS Freudian-Sue into the Gamma quadrant to talk to the leaders of the Dominion to hammer out a deal and be able to shoot or stealth its way out if necessary. This is with the partnership of a Romulan operative, there to babysit the cloaking device.
Also present is LtC Michael Eddington, Starfleet Security. Odo, having disposed of the last Starfleet Security representative and absorbed the body into his goo, knew it was only a matter of time before he was replaced. Odo is now to liaise with Eddington for all starfleet-related security matters, but Sisko wanted to keep him in charge of all other operations.
Sisko and Jake reflect on the fact that Deep Space Nine is now ‘home’ to both of them. Other developments include the Provisional Goverment asking Odo to go to the Gamma Quadrant to assess the Dominion from a tactical standpoint. Except that it was really Kira, because let’s not forget that Odo still technically collaborated with the Cardassians. Quark is also asked to go, by Sisko, for his past dealings with the locals. Quark doesn’t want to go, but Sisko stopped by to get the Nagus’s agreement. And to make Quark kiss the staff. I have to wonder if Sisko didn’t replicate the thing himself, just for kicks. Jadzia and Sisko have a quick chat. Curzon never thought Sisko could accept Admiralty because it would put him too far from the decisions. A common theme among the great leaders of Trek.
The Defiant is getting ready to go, when Odo shows up in the airlock to take Kira’s offer. He is loaded on board, and the ship is under way, with the entire DS9 senior staff on board. I invite you to think about who’s running the shop while they’re away and if they all get dead. Once in the Gamma quadrant (which is still apparently unguarded) they cloak, hit the gas, and get going. And Bashir shows Odo to his quarters, where he’ll be bunking with Quark. His first order of buisness is to put down his bucket and get some rest. As this goes on, the Defiant is passing by some Jem’Hadar warships, and it seems the cloak can be detected while at warp, but when the cloak and warp field are no longer interacting, the ship is harder to detect. That said, the Defiant is so powerful that they also have to run silent and power down to go fully invisible. There’s a tense moment during the scan, but it seems the cloak is either good enough of the Jem’Hadar are playing the Coventry gambit.
The Search begins at the Carima homeworld, where the Ferengi have trade interests. This is less helpful than hoped – they believe the Founders to be a myth, and only talk to the Vorta. After some brief negotiations, their contact pulls up a star chart to give them directions, and Odo recognizes something about the Omarian nebula. Quark wants to get off the ship and book passage home, but Sisko can apparently hear the background music.
Arrival at the next leg of the quest is to be followed by a quick recon mission. They have to decloak to beam down into the communications facility, and everyone down there suspects a trap based on how easy it’s going. We get some minor tech specs (the transporter cycles for six seconds and can’t beam through a cloak, the replicators on the Defiant are terrible, and the cloak can cycle fairly precisely) before O’Brien and Dax find transmission information and get captured. There’s a brief argument over the expendability of the crew, and Sisko makes the hard decision – leave Jadzia and O’Brien on the planet to be tortured and die.
Odo is studying the star chart when Kira walks in to snark at him for being a little snot. Odo has an instinct, a need to go to the Omarian Nebula and it’s driving him psycho, but this is interrupted by some Jem’Hadar ships attacking through the cloak.
The space battle is informative. It appears that these attack craft all have a feature that didn’t come up much in TNG: Their weapons are borsesight, not turreted. The Enterprise had that really nifty saucer array that could output phaser fire from any angle on either side of the main hull. These attack craft have to orient the whole ship to face you, which means a small maneuverable craft stands a far better chance against them than the Galaxy-class flying fortresses. But when Sisko said the Defiant was overgunned, he wasn’t kidding. These are also boresight, but can take out Jem’Hadar attack craft with one barrage.
With the shields down, a boarding party arrives and gets into hand-to-hand combat with Odo and Kira, and another team attempts to take the bridge. Kira gets shot and knocked out, but wakes up alive, on a shuttle with Odo. The Defiant might be gone, and Odo doesn’t care, he’s just on his way to the Omarian Nebula. He’s found a rogue planet, no star system, covered in darkness and plants and an ocean of shapeshifter-goo. The ocean extrudes some more humanoids with Odo’s shell-face, and they welcome him home.