In which Jake Sisko dies.
It was a dark and stormy night. An old man with a picture of Jake and Ben Sisko sits by the window, and holds an old weathered baseball. He takes some medicine, and is interrupted by a chime at the door. It’s a young woman, and he invites her in with a notable Cajun accent. I have no idea where Jake Sisko got that accent from, either, but he’s been living in the bayou for years. He’s only written one book and some collected stories, and the big question is why. Today is a very special day, because today is the only day he would ever be willing to explain, and Jake takes us back to when he was 18, and his father died.
Jake’s wikipedia entry says he retired from writing to do science, which is not entirely accurate. Back in the day, Jake was working on a story, Ben dragged him out to go see the wormhole undergo a subspace inversion which only happens once every 50 years, which is somehow a thing they know even though they’ve only been aware of the wormhole for four years. Also, someone help me figure out how that stylus works. My best guess is it does handwriting recognition. Either way, they’re on their way to the bridge when the wormhole starts fluxing, so Sisko runs down to engineering to get things fixed, and Jake runs down to try to help.
Jake has trouble finding the right tool, barely makes it, and there’s a warp core surge that vaporizes Ben right in front of Jake. Most things go back to normal after a few months, for everyone except Jake. He continues moping, for utterly understandable reasons. Except that Ben Sisko shows up in a flash of light in his bedroom, asks what’s going on, and vanishes.
Dax scanned the room and found nothing, and over the next few months, the Bajorans took the loss of their Emissary as a sign, signed a pact with the Cardassians, pissed off the Klingons, and the whole situation deteriorated even without the Dominion taking an active and military role. Most civilians are leaving, and both Worf and Kira are urging him to gtfo, go live with his grandfather.
But as he’s moping along, Ben Sisko appears again, in really rough shape, and sticks around long enough to get checked over in the infermary. Ben has been unstuck in time, pulled into subspace by the warp core pulse where he can’t feel the passage of time. This in itself gives some interesting insight into how FTL works with regards to relativity. Soon, he fades out again. Also, back in the ‘present,’ Jake Sisko tells us he’s dying and then immediately takes it back after the commercial break. Jerk.
Eventually, the Federation gave Deep Space Nine over to the Klingons. Jake finally attended Pennington, then went to go live with his grandfather and his restaurant, wrote a novel, had a life. Nog climbed up the ranks and the Klingons are being cowards and letting the Federation go through the wormhole and antagonize the Dominion for them. Jake won some award for his stories, but apparently the big money is in holodeck adaptation deals. Nothing like today whatsoever. But as Jake stayed up late working on a novel one night, Ben Sisko fades in again and gets introduced to Jake’s wife, and shown his novels. He stays long enough to reassure Jake that he’s proud, then fades out.
After this many appearances, Jake and Dax figured out a pattern, Jake stopped writing and started studying subspace mechanics so he could save Ben when he showed up. In doing so, he was way too obsessed and his wife left him. Then, 50 years after the accident, Captain Nog pulled the Defiant out of mothballs, with its primitive 2-dimensional control panels, Worf pulled some weight with the Klingons, and off they all went to recreate the accident in their retro all-one-color uniforms. They’re ready to recreate the accident, and it’s the only chance. Unfortunately, something goes terribly wrong and Jake gets pulled into subspace too.
Now, the place they’re stuck looks a lot like a place we’ve seen before. Subspace being a magical supersciencey timeless realm, we shouldn’t be surprised if Q uses it to stow stodgy captains. But that said, shouldn’t Jake and Ben be popping out years later, then vanishing a few seconds later? It’s been established Ben didn’t experience time in here. Must be because Jake’s in there too now…. for some reason. Jake gets pulled back into the overworld after some more heartfeltings,we snap back to the present, where Jake has been writing some new stories at Ben’s urging. And he’s running out of time.
Jake’s theory is now that if he dies, Ben Sisko will be lost in subspace forever. But if the link between them is cut with Ben present, with the connection strong, time will snap back to the moment of the accident and presumably events will unfold differently. He’s telling all this to a young woman who, if all goes will, will have her entire timeline unravel around her and cease to exist. Who knows if the changes to the timeline will allow her to exist at all with Ben back when he’s supposed to be, but I like to think that you can see the existential terror in her eyes as she leaves.
When Ben reappears, it’s just to read the dedication on Jake’s unfinished story and watch Old Jake die of the poison he gave himself in the teaser, so he can send Ben back, to the moment of the accident, having just watched his son die. Apparently he’s accustomed enough to weird things that he’s able to not let it phase him, and the whole episode will be about ten minutes’ worth of memories and some nightmares that are never going away.