DS9: S5E09: “The Ascent”

In which we get two buddy dramas for the price of one. Well… one and a half. 

"Here, the props department spent three hours on this label just for this shot!"

“Here, the props department spent three hours on this label just for this shot!”

Jake is packing up and moving to the other side of the station, so he can get a little dista. nce from Captain Dad. He’s moving in with Nog, as it turns out, but he promises to come home for dinner. Rom is sprucing up for Nog, and Quark even got him a few cases of root beer. Once again, Root Beer is code for human cultural imperialism – Rom loves it now, too. It’s “bubbly.” Odo’s here, though, to remand Quark to a Federation Grand Jury, eight days away by runabout. And off they go.

They’ve been on the way for less than a few hours when Quark starts in on annoying Odo with a quick game of Fizzbin. And then with incisive bartender observations, and then by stealing Odo’s book, which turns out to be a bodice-ripper. For ‘research purposes into the passions of the criminal mind.’ Odo won’t even tell Quark the charges, as this is a high-security investigation, so they settle in.

Nog arrives back on-station and reports in to Sisko. Once the interview breaks to the somewhat informal, Nog assures Sisko that he’ll look after Jake, which is met with sardonic approval. Jake and Nog now have their own suite, and pretty immediately there’s going to be trouble – Nog is used to regimental cadet discipline and structure, and Jake is… a freelance author. He’s all about staying up late and having fun, Nog is all about waking up at 4:30 to go to the gym.

On the runabout, Quark is playing the classic and timeless game of ‘throw cards at something’ and being annoyed at Odo’s eating sounds. It’s been four days, an hour ago Quark started hearing a buzzing noise that’s slowly driving him insane. For some reason Odo must not be letting him replicate earplugs. He tracks it to a hatch, at which point it’s gotten louder and changed pitch. When they open the hatch, they find a bomb. Quark’s criminal mind has some ideas about what might trigger it, and warns Odo to try to ‘channel the explosion through the transporter.’ Maybe that means setting the transporter to also include the air around the bomb inside the transporter stasis-and-atomization-field? However it’s supposed to work, the bomb is half-beamed when it explodes. They don’t die immediately, and they’re able to crash-land on a class-L (barely habitable) planet. During the crash, Quark lets slip that the bomb was planted by the Orion Syndicate, which Odo didn’t know.

Every single crash winds up precariously on the edge of a cliff.

Every single crash winds up precariously on the edge of a cliff.

For a barely-habitable planet, it looks a lot like the high Sierras. It’s very cold, and somehow they both survived the crash despite not being plugged in. The comms are down, the replicator is out, the plants are toxic, and all they have are two field rations that survived the bomb. Best possible case scenario, then, is that the Federation court notices they’re late, immediately sends someone to find them, and locates then within a day using a higher-speed warp ship. They have to survive for five days minimum.

Jake and Nog are four days in and starting to grate. While Nog uses adjustable-mass barbells (best equipment ever!) Jake finds that Nog has read his latest story, “Past Prologue” and all he has to say is about the spelling and grammar. Now Jake has to revert the changes, assuming he even saved when he was done.

Quark has been attempting to repair the subspace comms unit, but since the signal booster is shot and it won’t go through a planetary atmosphere, they need to haul it up to the top of the nearest mountain. They only have one survival suit, and Quark called dibs. Odo has to make a poncho out of a blanket and haul the transmitter. Well, they take turns, and bicker about Odo’s past desire to become a Solid, no matter how much Odo tries to deny it. Quark trips over a rock, and Odo reacts almost as if he cares that Quark is okay before catching himself.

When Nog goes off-shift, O’Brien compliments him on his work, and he immediately walks into a disaster zone, demands Jake clean it up, and then after an incrasingly heated argument, decides he’s moving out.

Speaking of ill-suited personalities, Quark is starting to starve, and scavenging the mountain looking for beetles and slugs to eat. Of course, this planet doesn’t seem to have any animal life as complex as a beetle. Just the eminently terran trees and a lot of distance between them and the top of that mountain. The only thing keeping Quark going is amusement at how wrong Odo is and how bad he’s going to feel once Odo realizes that he’s innocent – the Orion Syndicate doesn’t need to kill their own, and Quark was a witness, not a suspect.

A match made in the Vault of Eternal Destitution.

A match made in the Vault of Eternal Destitution.

And what keeps Odo going is realizing that Quark tried, and failed to join the Syndicate. They’re only truly happy when the other one is miserable. Quark couldn’t afford to join the Orion Synidcate. And the two of them just keep dragging each other down.

Rom finds Ben Sisko in the replimat, asking if Nog seems different, and fearful his son might have been replaced with a changeling. Fortunately, the blood he drew eight hours ago hasn’t changed back. Well… maybe fortunately – Nog put his own father on report for having an untidy toolkit. This is one of those times where the rank structure gets exceptionally complicated – Nog is a provisional officer in Starfleet, where Rom is a full enlisted technician on the Bajoran maintenance crew working under the highest-ranked enlisted Starfleet crewman on board. Untangle that org chart for me. The two fathers commiserate about their sons being too extreme, and not enough like the other one. A plan is hatched.

"From now on, your name is Menchi."

“From now on, your name is Menchi.”

Odo is momentarily terrified, upon waking, that Quark is dead. He’s not, but he’s deaf in his right ear, so he might as well be dead. For a Ferengi, it’s like being emasculated. The quality of their bickering has devolved to just litanies of hate, and fighting, and they both pitch off a stone wall and Odo breaks his leg -his first break ever. It’s a strong emphasis on his sudden frailty as a humanoid. Luckily for him, Quark’s ready to haul him to the top of the mountain on a splint and a sledge out of spite. Or as emergency rations.

After hours, or even days of climbing, Odo is nearly dead and the communications core still can’t punch through the atmosphere. They keep going, because it’s that or die. Eventually, Quark can’t go on. Odo’s had a nice rest, though, and starts crawling up the mountain, overcoming the humanoid limits thrust upon him… for a bit. It’s enough to inspire Quark to get up, leaving Odo.

Sisko drops by Jake’s place to force him to move back in with him because the quarters are apportioned for two. Since Sisko has Starfleet authority over Nog and father’s authority over Jake to make them move back in. And they immediately make up, because of distance and a common ‘enemy’ I suppose.

Apparently, even absent a computer connection, Commbadges also function as notetaking devices – Odo is able to record what he thinks is going to be his final log entry. He includes provisions for the dessication and sale of his corpose, but before he can finish, Bashir beams him up to the Defiant. Quark made it to the top of the mountain and saved Odo’s life. As the two of them lie in bed on nutrient drips, the reaffirm their mutual hatred. If the beds were any closer that’d be holding hands.

Did we miss something awesome?