Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

Chief O'Brien is appointed spiritual leader of a Bajoran village. Meanwhile, Nog and Jake try to help their new friend settle a struggle between two Bajoran villages.



"Station log: Stardate 46729.1. The Bajoran government has asked me to mediate a disagreement between two rival factions: the Paqu and the Navot. At issue is a land dispute, which could trigger a civil war."
Kira and Sisko surprised

Kira and Sisko are surprised by the age of the Tetrarch

Sisko is busy preparing to receive the Paqu and Navot delegations, but another issue has come up with O'Brien. The chief has been assigned to pilot a runabout to Bajor, but he casually tries to find an excuse to get out of it, offering Ensign Boyer as a replacement. When his travel companion, Dr. Bashir, enters, it is obvious why O'Brien does not want to go: he does not like Bashir, who is oblivious to this fact. They have been told there is a medical emergency on a village on Bajor, although the nature of the emergency is uncertain. Sisko leaves O'Brien stuck with Bashir, leaving them in the turbolift to greet the newly-arrived leader of the Paqu. When they get there, they meet Tetrarch Varis Sul – a fifteen-year-old girl.

Act One[]

During the two hour trip to Bajor, Bashir tries to make small talk, but O'Brien gives him the cold shoulder. Bashir does ask O'Brien not to call him "sir", but to use his first name, "Julian", which he reluctantly agrees to. They beam to the surface to meet the village's magistrate, Faren Kag, but find no signs of disease, despite Faren's claim that the village is in danger of extinction. A man, simply called the Sirah, is dying, and Faren believes they will all die with him. Confused, Bashir gets to work.

Meanwhile, Varis and the Navot leader, Woban, meet with Sisko and Kira. They explain that they have had a treaty for ninety years and that it declares the boundary between their people a designated river, the Glyrhond. However, during the Occupation, the Cardassians diverted the river for their mining operations and caused twenty kilometers of land to shift from Navot to Paqu control. While Woban claims the land is still his, Varis believes the original boundary – the river – still stands. They break temporarily, and as Varis passes by a bored Jake and Nog on the Promenade, Nog is lovestruck.

Carraya IV surface

Faren Kag's village on Bajor

Bashir finishes his scan when the Sirah wakes. He cries about something called the Dal'Rok and calls for his apprentice, Hovath. He tries to get out of bed, but Bashir stops him. Suspecting the Prophets have sent him, he feels for his pagh, but doesn't see it. He calls for his companion, so O'Brien comes over. This time, curiously, he is pleased. The Sirah dismisses them, and Bashir explains to the leader outside that he is suffering system-wide organ failure from old age, and there's nothing he can do. Dismayed, he explains the Dal'Rok, a "terrible creature," will threaten the village that night and only the Sirah can save them.

Act Two[]

Back on the station, Nog takes Jake to Varis' quarters, but neither has the nerve to ring the doorbell, and they begin arguing. Suddenly the door is opened – Varis no doubt was checking to see what the commotion was all about. Jake and (especially) Nog nervously stumble over their words to offer Varis a tour of the station, mentioning that a Klingon freighter is leaving for the Gamma Quadrant through the wormhole. She accepts with a hint of a smile.

That night, against Dr. Bashir's medical advice, the Sirah insists that he be allowed to "tell the story" as a dark cloud forms over the village (although no atmospheric disturbances or energy discharges can be found with tricorders). He stands on a rock where all the villagers can look at him as his back is to the cloud. He begins to give an inspirational speech, which lifts the hearts of the villagers and causes some sort of energy beam to rise from the village. This seems to push the ominously close cloud back, but the Sirah finally collapses. As he does so, the beam stops and the villagers panic. Without his help, the cloud – the "Dal'Rok" of their legend – fires a lightning-like beam and injures several people.

Act Three[]

Bashir and O'Brien help the Sirah to his feet and he asks for his successor, but not Hovath, his prior apprentice. He wants O'Brien. Urgently, the Sirah dictates what O'Brien should say and has him tell the story of how the village is stronger than the Dal'Rok. The villagers rejoice as the cloud-like formation is pushed away and disappears; immediately thereafter, the Sirah collapses and Faren proclaims O'Brien the new Sirah, to O'Brien's chagrin.

In Sisko's office, he confronts Varis about the last long round of unproductive talks. Bluntly, he asks whether she is there to talk or to start a war, since she has been wasting everyone's time to this point. She insists that the land belongs to the Paqu, despite claims otherwise. He asks if her people are as ready to die for the land as she seems to be, but she storms out. She heads out to the upper level of the Promenade where she encounters Nog and Jake. She tells the two of them about her land negotiations, but in a circumspect way and Nog suggests that this could be an opportunity instead of a problem. Both Jake and Nog suggest talking to her parents, but she sadly reports that both her parents were killed by the Cardassians during the occupation. Jake tells her his mother has also died in a battle with the Borg. They all get chased off by Odo.

On the planet, neither Bashir nor O'Brien can figure out what the strange creature was, nor how it was controlled. Bashir takes the opportunity to tease O'Brien before some of the villagers arrive bearing gifts and offering services (apparently including his choice of young, beautiful women). When O'Brien says he is a married man, Faren insists that O'Brien bring his wife and daughter down to the village to live with him. As he exits, the Sirah's previous apprentice, Hovath stares at O'Brien with undisguised hatred. The only thing they can do is figure out what the Dal'Rok is and destroy it.

Act Four[]

"Station log, supplemental. We have completed a second day of talks between the Paqu and the Navot. So far, we're no closer to finding a solution than we were when negotiations began."
Varis Sul and Jake with oatmeal

Varis Sul and Jake, who is being covered in oatmeal by Nog

Jake and Nog visit Varis again, but she is preoccupied with the negotiations. Just as the two boys turn to leave, she asks how you can "be sure that an opportunity is worth the risk." Nog quotes the ninth Rule of Acquisition to her: "Opportunity plus instinct equals profit." This rings a bell for her, and says that helped, even though Jake and Nog still don't know her problem. Nog decides to celebrate with a practical joke and drags the other two to Odo's office to swipe his bucket with a Cardassian security rod that Nog has. In the office, Nog tells them to watch the front door and then heads to look for the bucket. After a moment, he comes running out, trips and the contents of the bucket spill onto a horrified Jake. But the joke is on Jake: the contents are not Odo, but oatmeal. Nog begins laughing, and the others join in – until Odo walks into the office and takes the bucket from Nog, who, in attempting to escape, runs headlong into Sisko.


Hovath, former apprentice of the Sirah

Bashir and O'Brien continue to search for any hints of what the Dal'Rok might be when they are approached by a woman wanting her baby blessed by the Sirah. O'Brien leaves Bashir to distract the crowd and heads back to the Sirah's home. There, Hovath approaches O'Brien, and while O'Brien continues to search, draws a dagger and lunges at O'Brien. Instinct saves him and they struggle for a moment until Bashir enters the room and gets between the combatants. Hovath is disarmed and tells O'Brien that he is not the "true Sirah" and that Hovath is.

Act Five[]

Hovath explains his apprenticeship to O'Brien and Bashir and told how he was unable to control the Dal'Rok three nights ago. He then shows them a bracelet that apparently contains a fragment of one of the Orbs from the Celestial Temple. Hovath continues his story, telling them of the first Sirah, back when the village was split by hatred and mistrust, and how he used the fragment to create the Dal'Rok, and thus "give their fears a physical form" and force the villagers to work together to defeat it. O'Brien gives the Sirah's robe to Hovath, but Faren enters and tells Hovath that he had failed before and would not be allowed to endanger the village again.

In his office, Sisko listens to Varis as she takes responsibility for the actions of Jake and Nog in the security office earlier, telling him that they were just trying to impress her. She tells him that she was trying to learn more about him and that Jake thought very highly of his father. Her own father, Varis reports, was a great man who had been feared by the Navot. Turning to the talks, she admits she has been trying to be strong as he was. He could afford to make compromises because the Navot feared him, but she would not have the same luxury, appearing weak. Varis supposes "you don't lose by saying no," but Sisko remarks that great leaders know when to risk saying "yes." This prompts her to suggest she may have "an opportunity" that allows both sides to say "yes."


The Dal'Rok attacks again

In the village, O'Brien is reluctantly getting ready to tell the story. The crowd urges him on as he reaches the platform, but he is obviously not comfortable. He begins to tell the story, poorly, as the Dal'Rok makes its appearance. There is no sign of the sparkling lights to fight off the Dal'Rok though. Meanwhile, Bashir encourages Hovath to step up to his true role and that the prior Sirah had likely chosen O'Brien so that Hovath could rescue him, and thus regain the confidence of the villagers. As the Dal'Rok comes in for the final attack, Hovath rushes onto the platform, grabs the bracelet from O'Brien and begins to tell the story, brimming with confidence. The lights appear, and the Dal'Rok is driven off and defeated once again. Bashir and O'Brien quietly make their escape. Back on the station, O'Brien tells Bashir that he's had enough of storytelling for a while, and Bashir informs him that he is not required to call him "Julian".

Walking with Sisko, Varis is nervous about the compromise she is going to suggest; giving the Navot their land, but allowing free access to the river for the Paqu. They encounter Jake and Nog, watched by Odo of course, and she thanks them both, giving Nog a kiss on the cheek. Odo walks the two boys to the security office to clean up the mess they left. Just then, Bashir and O'Brien arrive back on the station. Bashir's interested in telling people about what happened, but O'Brien has had enough of storytelling.

Memorable quotes[]

"My dad's a pretty smart guy."
"Mine too! In his own way."

- Jake and Nog

"I'm not a little lady!"
"I'm still charging her for that drink."

- Varis Sul and Quark, when she throws her drink on him and walks off

"Major, what a pleasant surprise. I always look forward to one of your infrequent visits."

- Quark, to Kira

"Once… upon a time… there was a Dal'Rok!"

- O'Brien, trying to fill in as Sirah

"I mean, for all we know, you really were sent by the Prophets."
"I was sent by Commander Sisko!"

- Bashir when O'Brien is selected as the new Sirah

"All right now… let's really focus!"

- O'Brien, still trying

"I believe in people working together to find reasonable solutions to their problems. I hope you do as well."

- Benjamin Sisko, to Varis Sul

Background information[]

Story and script[]

Cast and characters[]

  • Colm Meaney commented, "[Alexander] Siddig and I had a good time doing that episode. It was the first episode in which O'Brien and Bashir – and Siddig and I – had many scenes together. It sort of established our relationship, made us much closer as characters. Bashir relished that I was in trouble there with those people. I had to bluff my way through it." ("Colm Meaney – Miles O'Brien", The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 5, p. 8)



  • Ira Steven Behr commented, "I like 'The Storyteller' a lot because it gave us a chance to do Bashir and O'Brien, and that's the core of that show. It also gives a nice little feel for the Bajorans and shows that Bajor is indeed a strange place. There are things happening in those little hamlets and villages that are certainly not your average Federation attitude toward life, religion and spirituality […] Colm's quite good. It's basically The Man Who Would Be King, and he's a wonderful person to make king." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages p. 33)
  • Michael Piller commented, "One of the really big problems with this script, which is why it didn't appeal to anybody, is because it was not about any of our characters. We were just watching the events occur by putting O'Brien in the middle, saying you have to solve it. What really appealed to me was the great theme that sometimes we create our own monsters so that we can defeat them and feel secure in our power. I was always in love with that theme, and finally we made it work." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 51)
  • Rick Berman commented, "It was a little fanciful, but I like the science-fiction element involving a creature created by the collective imagination of this village as a way of bringing them closer together. The story's having to do with a little piece of one of the orbs that is held by the storyteller was a very interesting concept as well." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 51)
  • In a review in Cinefantastique, the reviewer wrote, "Although the 'evil entity' menace plays like a bad '50s science fiction B-movie contrivance, the juice of the episode is the Abbott & Costello banter between Chief O'Brien and Dr. Bashir. The B-story involving Jake and Nog's affinity for a comely young Bajoran is surprisingly endearing, distinguished by a moment of comic inspiration in which Nog hurls a bucket of oatmeal at the young Sisko who thinks it's Odo in his disassembled form." (Cinefantastique, Volume 24, Issue 1)


  • Several of the Bajorans in the Sirah's village have a forehead ridge that was visible on Ro Laren's forehead in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and several earlier Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Odo's bucket.
  • Buck Bokai is mentioned by name for the first time in this episode. He was previously alluded to in TNG: "The Big Goodbye". He (or at least an alien posing as him) appears several episodes later, in "If Wishes Were Horses".
  • Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #9 ("Opportunity plus instinct equals profit").
  • This is the second episode in which we see Odo smile. The first was two episodes prior, in "Vortex". In both cases, Odo smiles as a result of interacting with children.
  • O'Brien protests that it wasn't the Prophets who sent him, but, rather, Commander Sisko. Considering the later revelation of Sisko's heritage, both the perspective of the villagers and of O'Brien are actually accurate.


Remastered version[]

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]


Uncredited co-stars[]



1998; 2019; 2025; 2026; 2279; 2360; afternoon; ancients; apprentice; bacterial contamination; Bajor; Bajoran language; Bajoran Provisional Government; Bajoran village; Bajoran wormhole; baseball; baseball glove; Battle of Wolf 359; bed; "bloody"; body; Bokai, Buck; border; Borg; Boyer; bracelet; bridge; Cardassians; celestial temple; cellular decay; chauffeur; civil war; conference table; creature; curve ball; dagger; Dal'Rok; docking bay; docking port; doorbell; father; fury; Gamma Quadrant; Gamzian wine; Glyrhond River; ground water; harvest; hitter; holographic image; holosuite; hors d'œuvres; hour; Human; infection; jelly bean; kilometer; Klingon; Klingon freighter; land dispute; larish pie; leader; level 1 diagnostic; magistrate; mediator; medical emergency; medical tricorder; mining; mirror; Navot; neutrino; night; oatmeal; O'Brien, Keiko; O'Brien, Molly; Occupation of Bajor; Odo's bucket; old age; orb; orbit; PADD; Paqu; Paqu-Navot Treaty; phase coil generator; plate; pollutant; promenade; Prophets; quarters; replicator; rock face; Rom; Rules of Acquisition; runabout; saying; security office; security rod; shapeshifter; sir; Sirah; Sisko, Jennifer; soil; stardrifter; station log; superior officer; synthale; systemic organ failure; table; targ; tetrarch; treaty; tricorder; Trixian bubble juice; uncle; Varis Sul's father; village; water; west; woods; year

External links[]

Previous episode:
"Battle Lines"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 1
Next episode: