DS9: S3E22: “Explorers”

In which Bashir has woman troubles, Jake has school troubles, and Dukat has Sisko troubles. 

"Cough. Cough." "You can't just SAY 'cough,' you know."

“Cough. Cough.”
“You can’t just SAY ‘cough,’ you know.”

It’s a more or less ordinary day at Quark’s – people are talking, eating, laughing, about to be scammed by very… uh… naturally talented Dabo girls. Not a great actor, is Leeta, but she picked the right mark, at least. Bashir steadfastly resists rescue by Jadzia, and pulls up the text “GO AWAY”  with two button clicks on his PADD (Personal Access Data Device) and I cannot think of any reason he should be able to do that unless that’s just a note he keeps on his home screen, just in case. She does, however, tell Bashir about the arrival of the Lexington, and the only person at Starfleet Medical to graduate higher than he did (because of that one question). Apparently there’s not a whole lot of love lost between them.

Ben Sisko has a beard now, which he grew while away studying Bajoran history. He also found records of an ancient Bajoran spacecraft design from 800 years ago. There’s even a legend about them making it to Cardassia which, if true, has to seem like a really bad move in retrospect. “Hey guys, just so you know, if you ever become a resource-starved military despotism, we’re right next door!” The ship is a solar sail design, and Ben and Jake both seem really excited to build it, to find out if it could really work.

Good lord, he’s using wood. And traditional Bajoran tools. And it’s O’Brien’s considered opinion as an engineer that the ship is not spaceworthy. After all, one freak accident in the Denorios Belt could shred the ship. Of course, that would be the same Denorios belt that the wormhole is in and which has quite a lot of anomalies associated with it, so who knows. Kira supports Sisko, and even goads O’Brien with some racist japing. O’Brien still can’t see the point of building it with his own hands, even though he claims to have built ships in bottles as a kid. Maybe he was just sucking up to Picard so he could get out of the transporter room.

Montage of Sisko building, welding, and charting. This looks like weeks if not months of work, even if he’s taking some leave time and working around the clock. and the Romulan and Cardassian secret militaries just escalated hostilities with the Dominion. But apparently the Dominion is moving slow enough that when he finishes the ship next week, he and Jake will then be able to take a further five days to sail from Bajor out to the Denorios belt. Well, Ben wants to go, but Jake’s girlfriend might be back. And the cat’s in the cradle with the silver spooooooon….

"And the decorative and entireless useless compass can go... here."

“And the decorative and entireless useless compass can go… here.”

Sisko installed a gravity system in the floor and presumably updated the furniture (sleeping benches would not work without art-grav) but otherwise bade an exact replica from the blueprints. And Jake got a message from new Zealand that seems to have made him change his mind about going. Now the only think missing is fishing rods.

Bashir is consumed by trying not to fall behind the visiting Doctor Elizabeth Lense. One might almost think he’s jealous. Bashir has ego problems. Speaking of ego problems, Sisko’s getting a seeing-off message from Gul Dukat. And to deliver veiled threats with plausible deniability. With that little bit of intrigue in place, they launch the ship from DS9 (which is already pretty much right next to the Denorios belt, but maybe they moved?) and start to crank open the sails. With cranks. Hand cranks.

It is a pretty ship, though.

It is a pretty ship, though.

Now, since this ship is entirely light-propelled, I’d like to digress for a moment to discuss the return trip. On water, you can reach a position upwind of where you started because there’s a keel making sure the boat only travels forwards – only the forward vector matters for motion, so with the sail in the right position you can make progress. I can imagine a technology that allows a starship to extend a ‘keel’ of sorts, using words like ‘inertial dampener’ and ‘subspace’ but if you have access to those, you’re way past light-sail technology. My point being, unless they can slingshot around a gravity well with quite a lot of precision and then put the sails away, the ancient Bajorans didn’t get home on their own.

Sisko took along zero-gravity ration-packs, built a 0-g toilet, and revels in the supreme silence granted by no engine. I assume there is an air recycler running, though. In the silence of space, Jake has the opportunity to explain why he’s come along. Jake gives ben a story he wrote as prelude, and we cut back to Bashir obsessively adjusting his infirmary to give the appearance of utter casual perfection. And after all that, she just breezes past him. It’s very Bashir.

Back aboard the lightship, Ben liked Jake’s story, and Jake breaks the news that he’s got a writing fellowship offer through Keiko and oh no the ship is falling apart! One of the struts wasn’t up to handling the light pressure, apparently, and they have to blow the crippled mast.

"Next, we're doing Rule Brittania."

“Next, we’re doing Rule Brittania.”

Miles and Julian are also under full sail and under glorious jag. They have more sail than ballast. They’re three sheets to the wind. Half-seas over and on the beam end. They’re singing drinking songs. Badly. On real alcohol, not synthohol. In wine there is truth, but in whisky there is courage. Also, Julian and Miles are adorable while sotted.

When a lightship equipped with a gravity net steers, it apparently experiences roll. Must be the lack of intertial dampeners. Either way, time to continue the discussion of Jake’s future. The good news is, Sisko isn’t even a little disappointed that Jake isn’t going to be in Starfleet. Instead, he’s a little concerned that Jake might not take the fellowship. In his Dad Lecture, he talks about transporting home from San Francisco to New Orleans every night for dinner, because he was homesick. Call me Mister Curmudgeon, but I don’t think that should count as homesick. Jake’s more worried about Ben though, and doesn’t want to leave his dad alone without a girlfriend. As they joke about Ben getting set up by his own son, the ship shakes and goes superluminal. Since the ship has no intertial dampeners, Jake and Ben Sisko are reduced to a few millimeters of red paste on the back wall of the ship. End of episode, end of series.

Or they two of them just stare dumbfounded out the front window until Ben furls the sails and the ship drops out. Best guess is that since the ship is so light for its surface area, they got caught up in a tachyon eddy which accelerated them to warp. But they’re now so far away from the station that their comms beacon isn’t producing an immediate response, and the two of them probably won’t die of starvation and/or cannibalism. I am a little surprised Kira wasn’t keeping sensors on them given her enthusiasm for the project, though.

Bashir confronts Elizabeth, and it turns out she had a perfectly innocent explanation for it, and they chat about life since the Academy. The Lexington didn’t turn out to be everything she wanted, and she wishes she’d stolen his Frontier Medicine post. Bashir’s gonna take her back to his lab and show off his samples.

The woman Jake’s setting Ben up with is a freighter captain, Jake’s going to defer his admission to Pennington for a year to get some more light-years under his belt, and speaking of light-years, their ship has just been met by three Galor-class battle cruisers – the Cardassian local picket fleet. As it turns out, the tachyon eddies can take a lightship from Bajor to Cardassia, and the Cardassian government now has no choice but to recognize the journey and declassify an ancient Bajoran crash site. Dukat is, of course, thrilled by this press release.

"Mother fu-"

“Mother fu-” >>>END TRANSMISSION<<<

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