In which a wealthy merchant commissions pornography and Jadzia uses up eight lifetimes worth of PTO.
So I guess we’re just not going to discuss how the replicators can make Cardassian phaser turrets. We’re just going to keep making coffee in them, and using tradition to justify inefficient consumption experiences. Odo’s tried consuming food at one point, but he doesn’t have taste buds and isn’t used to food waste, so he hasn’t bothered. Again, this begs the question – what do Changelings do for energy? Kira is then approached by Teran, a boorish associate of Quark’s that she’s desperately trying to avoid. The whole situation is so terribly confusing to Odo – not only did Kira make advances at her, she also left most of her coffee abandoned on the table.
Sisko is taking the Defiant out to further trespass explore the Gamma Quadrant. They’re wandering around, enjoying snubbing their nose at the Dominion, when Dax detects some weird gravity readings from nearby. They are immediately ambushed by the Planet Brigadoon, which appeared out of nowhere already in a stable orbit and is scanning the Defiant. There’s a 30-person settlement on the planet and no other recognizable intelligence, and they’re hailing the ship. Seltin of Brigadoon Meridian is clearly aware of the amusing properties of their planet, amused at Sisko’s confusion, and invites them to breakfast.
Meridian looks quite pleasant, but the opening speech is a little creepy. They’re ‘back at the table,’ indicating that not only does their planet go away, but it changes in such a way as to make physicality itself a losing proposition. Speaking of propositions, Dax’s breakfast companion literally asks her if her spots go all the way down. Sisko is getting the skinny on the planet’s shifts, as much as they have. The best we have is ‘the sun does a thing.’ They exist as consciousness, with no corporeal existence. They don’t even age when they’re Elsewhere for the sixty years of that part of the cycle.
Back on the station, Quark’s pompous friend is unimpressed by the erotic potential of his holosuite programs. Even a visit with the Pleasure-Goddess of Rixx (please for the sake of the Great Bird of the Galaxy tell me that this isn’t Lwaxana Troi) won’t do. He wants Quark to make a holoprogram of Major Kira Nerys. He’s offering a lot of money – enough that Quark is willing to risk being literally turned inside out.
Which brings us back to Barclay. This is one of those things that you’d think there might be regulations about in the future. With some countries and some multinational corporations banning the revenge-porn phenomenon, you might assume that in a future with tactile holography there might be some regulations against using real people without their consent. Not that this would matter to Quark beyond jacking up the price, mind you.
On Meridian, Dural explains that they’re the descendents of a marooned expedition millennia ago, and because they only reproduce on the corporeal level, and because their corporeal shifts keep growing shorter, their population is dwindling. It seems somewhat likely that eventually they’ll just fail to appear at all. They’re not even thinking about the idea that their original civilization might be long-destroyed by the Dominion. They might be the last of their kind. And they believe that their planet will rip itself apart rather than make a final shift.
Quark’s clever ruse is that Kira is his one millionth customer, and she’s won something. Some decent wine, some dabo spins, and a visit to the holosuite, which she gives as a birthday gift to someone else. Attempt 1: failed.
The Defiant has records of some phenomena that Meridian can’t measure, since they occur while it’s still phased out. They send a probe out, and Dural and Jadzia go on a nice romantic walk through the forest, complete with tree-climbing and boundary-pushing. Turns out Dax is afraid of heights. But not of a whole lot else. Eventually, the work does continue. The solar fusion is out of balance and getting worse, but there’s a chance they can stabilize it.
Quark’s plan #2 is to take scans of Kira from farther away, but this is also spoiled. He claims to be making a holosimulation of Ops to cater to the more action-adventure crowd. This is also an abject failure.
Jadzia may have figured out how to stabilize the shifts, but not in time to keep Meridian in place. Dural offers to leave the planet with her to live out a normal life off-planet. Of course, then he has to tell all the women of the settlement who are jonesing after Meridian’s most Eligable Widower. Of course, even after he’s beamed up, he has to beam back down to the planet to take care of a few things. I have no idea why he made the trip now instead of later.
Quark’s buddy may have gotten wind of his utter failure to get naked scans of Kira. Quark’s third (or fourth, depending on how you count) attempt is to hack the station computer to get the necessary files. Odo’s already on this and informs Kira. She decides that rather than throwing Quark in jail, she and Odo will get creative.
Dural really doesn’t want to leave Meridian, so Jadzia offers to stay. This seems impossible, since her molecular structure isn’t right to phase with the rest of the planet. Completely glossing over how the original settlers managed to phase with the planet, I guess. Fortunately, the transporters can make it happen. Jadzia puts in for a 60-year leave of absence. Not a resignation, though. She’ll be back. She and Ben say their tearful goodbyes, but letting the Dax symbiont experience life as pure consciousness is worth it.
Quark delivers over the program, and our lipless buddy enters a boudoir. There’s no other word for it. It’s entirely made of silk, brass, and… huh. Quark has some very shapely legs. This is evidently what Kira brought Odo along for. Or maybe not. I guess they just reprogrammed it.
Dax has undergone six hours of transporter therapy, and has about 47 minutes before the planet starts to shift over, and beams down. There’s a bit of ceremony that goes with the phase-out, but it’s mostly just standing around. The planet starts phasing out, but violently. And Jadzia isn’t going with. The people vanish in ghostlight, followed by the structures. Apparently, Dax’s mere presence is enough to keep an entire planet from fading away. And nobody was manning the transporters during this changeover on the offchance this completely untested procedure didn’t go as planned.
Dax has survived, Meridian is probably safe, but thus ends the whirlwind love affair.