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Fleeing a Jem'Hadar attack aboard a runabout, Jake and Nog are rescued by a Defiant-class ship crewed by over-eager Red Squad cadets who are biting off more than they can chew.



Jadzia Dax and Odo, 2374

"Is your drink replicator broken?"
"You're fast today."
"Do you want me to fix it or not?"

It is a hectic day in the bar, as Quark is grousing about the backup in his drink orders because of a drink replicator malfunction. He says his maintenance request has been put off by an overworked Chief O'Brien, who had promised to send Rom who in turn promised to send Nog. As Quark complains, Jadzia Dax arrives offering to repair his replicator, explaining that Nog was given the chance to go to Ferenginar and she is doing this to repay a favor to him. Quark insists that such a job is "beneath" her, and Odo, listening, wryly observes that the Ferengi has some tender feelings for the Trill and teases that it must irritate him that she's married. Quark tells Odo that that is the most ridiculous thing he has said this past year and tells him to leave since he is not ordering anything. After Odo leaves, Quark stares longingly at Dax while her back is turned to him.

Meanwhile, Nog and Jake are departing Starbase 257 in the runabout USS Shenandoah, to travel to Ferenginar to deliver an official message from the Federation Council to Grand Nagus Zek. Even if Nog won't say anything about its contents, Jake suspects it is about something big, maybe even an alliance. Nog is put out when he discovers that Jake told the editor of the Federation News Service that he could get an exclusive interview with Zek despite promising he wasn't coming on the trip as a reporter and tells Jake that he won't even be getting anywhere near the Grand Nagus. Their discussion is cut short when they encounter a wing of six Jem'Hadar fighters on their way to attack the base. Even though they weren't the original objective, one fighter breaks formation and comes after them.

Act One[]

Jem'Hadar fighter at warp

One of the fighters chases Jake and Nog

Nog makes an emergency warp jump, despite Jake's warnings that their course is taking them further into Cardassian territory. When Nog drops to impulse speed to engage the Jem'Hadar ship in real space, the runabout takes a heavy beating from its weapons, but then they are miraculously saved by the arrival of another ship they first believe to be the USS Defiant, but which turns out to be a different Defiant-class ship, the USS Valiant.

USS Valiant fights the Jem'Hadar

The Valiant defends Jake and Nog from the Jem'Hadar

While the ship engages the enemy fighter, the two friends are beamed aboard and are surprised to be greeted by "Acting Chief Petty Officer" Dorian Collins – a young woman in a cadet uniform but wearing a chief's rank insignia. Escorted to the bridge, they see that the entire crew is composed of cadets. Nog recognizes them as Red Squad, the elite cadet cadre within Starfleet Academy that he so fervently wanted to join two years earlier. After the fighter is taken out, they meet "Captain" Tim Watters, the ship's CO, who explains that he was given a battlefield commission by the previous captain, Ramirez, and he has used that authority to promote other cadets as needed to fill vacant positions. Watters orders Chief Collins to take Jake to sickbay to see to some minor burns he has suffered. When the ship's first officer, "Commander" Karen Farris, reports that the warp drive is still functioning below warp 3.2, Nog volunteers a suggestion, and Watters is happy to accept the advice of a trained engineer.

With Jake in sickbay and Nog in Captain Watters's ready room, Chief Collins and Watters explain their unique situation to Jake while treating him in the ship's sickbay; the Valiant departed on a shakedown cruise eight months ago, crewed by seven regular officers and thirty-five cadets, on a three-month training mission to circumnavigate the entire Federation before returning home. Although such cruises are standard for senior cadets, Jake notes that it is unusual for them to be entrusted with a state-of-the-art warship, or for such a large group of cadets to be given a mission of such complexity. Collins proudly explains that they are Red Squad and considered anything but usual. In the Valiant's ready room, Watters explains that the ship was transitioning through the Kepla sector when the war broke out and a Dominion invasion force swept through the sector on the first day, so they were caught behind enemy lines. They tried to make it back to Federation space when they encountered a Cardassian battle cruiser near El-Gatark, and in the ensuing battle, both ships lost main power becoming adrift and all the Valiant's senior officers were killed or critically wounded, including Captain Ramirez. Despite having a punctured lung and massive internal injuries, Ramirez refused to go to sickbay and instead, stayed on the bridge to direct the entire damage control effort and the cadets were able to get the Valiant's systems back online in three hours and destroy the Cardassian ship. Just before he died the next day, Ramirez gave Watters command of the ship.

Nog is awestruck at the tale and how Red Squad has spent eight months behind enemy lines, and Watters offers him a post as chief engineering officer. Nog is a little hesitant to take on such a responsibility, but Watters tells him that the undermanned ship needs him. Nog accepts and is given a Red Squad pin for his collar. Watters then explain that with Nog's help, they can fix their warp drive problems and get on with their mission: when the war broke out, Starfleet Command (unaware that command of the ship had passed to a cadet) transmitted new orders to the Valiant to collect technical data on a new Dominion battleship being deployed in their sector. Since they were ordered to maintain radio silence, the ship had been cut off from the rest of Starfleet since the outbreak of the war. Undaunted, the young captain is determined to carry on the Valiant's mission or die trying.

Act Two[]

Chief Collins takes Jake to the mess hall, where he draws more than a few stares from the rest of the thirty three-man crew (being the only civilian on board). They converse amiably, and Collins starts to tell him about her home of Tycho City on Luna. As she remembers growing up on Luna, she starts to get emotional and excuses herself saying she's on duty.

In engineering, Nog makes some modifications that Farris objects are unsafe, but Watters is willing to try anything, and the ship succeeds in getting to warp 4.

Collins is in sickbay looking at a PADD and crying a little when Watters comes in and, despite Collins's disapproval, grabs some pills from a cabinet and swallows them. He notices she's been crying, and she admits that she has been feeling a little homesick.

The next thing Jake knows, he has been summoned to the ready room for an "interrogation" by Watters and Farris. They remind him of the extreme urgency of their mission and say that his presence is upsetting the delicate morale of their shipmates. They dismiss Jake, and Watters tells Farris to keep a close eye on him. Before she is dismissed, Farris remarks that Watters spent another double shift on the bridge, and she is concerned that he is not getting enough sleep. Watters assures her that he is fine – before swallowing another handful of pills after she has left.

Act Three[]

Still smarting, Jake runs into Nog, and is surprised to see that he has now joined the crew, with a brevet rank of lieutenant commander. Nog is stung when Jake echoes his own earlier doubts about whether he is ready to be chief engineer of a starship. Before they can argue further, red alert is sounded and all hands are ordered to report to battle stations. Jake and Nog run to the bridge.

The Valiant has located the objective of its mission. While hovering outside its sensor range, the ship launches a class 3 probe to gather the intelligence needed and shadows the ship for several hours. Between an overzealous crew and an almost inhuman dynamic, the mission finally comes to a successful end.

"Captain's log, Stardate 51825.4. We've been shadowing the Dominion battleship for three hours. The data our probe has gathered so far has not only been interesting, but it may have given us a golden opportunity to strike a blow for the Federation."

In the mess hall, Watters announces that their mission is a success: they have gathered the required intelligence without being detected, and they are now free to return home to Federation space. But he says that the Jem'Hadar battleship is a direct threat to every Federation outpost and colony within fifty light years and that it must be destroyed, and it can. Farris then explains that their scans indicate a major design flaw in the battleship – the primary support braces of its antimatter storage system is composed of viterium which is ordinarily resilient but becomes extremely unstable when exposed to delta radiation. A direct hit with a specially modified quantum torpedo should be able to cause the entire antimatter storage system to tear itself apart and destroy the entire ship. Nog immediately sees a problem: the modified torpedo will need to have its guidance system all but removed, which means the Valiant will need to fire at extremely close range – approximately three hundred meters and remain there while the torpedo is guided in manually. Captain Watters says it may be dangerous, but it is better that they take the risk than have "some other ship, with some other crew" be asked to take it later and that he thinks they can do it, and they should do it.

This gets the crew excited, but Jake, having had enough speaks out and attempts to appeal to the common sense of the crew and convince them to leave the area with the new information. He explains that his father has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best combat officers in the fleet and not even he would attempt this mission with a single ship (even were that ship the Defiant with a full crew complement of his veteran officers). And if he can't do it, it can't be done. Watters dismisses his objections, deciding that the reward outweighs the risk and that they are Red Squad, and they can do anything. The crew begin cheering and start chanting "Red Squad", including Nog, which shocks Jake.

Act Four[]

Alone in engineering, Jake tries to talk some sense into Nog while he is modifying the torpedo. The Jem'Hadar battleship they are going up against is twice as large as a Galaxy-class starship, with three times the armament, yet Watters wants to try and combat it with a single escort vessel. Nog says that the captain knows what he's doing, something Jake would understand if he was an officer and not just a reporter. Angrily, Jake tells Nog about Watters' addiction to cordafin stimulants, which he learned from talking with Collins despite being ordered to stay away from her, but Nog refuses to listen. Jake says that Watters is going to get them all killed, and Nog orders Jake, "get out!"

Unknown to Jake and Nog, Watters happened to be monitoring their conversation from his ready room, and summons help right as Jake said that Collins told him of Watters' drug-taking. As soon as Jake leaves engineering, he is apprehended by Cadet Shepard and another cadet with phasers and thrown in the brig.

The Valiant prepares for its mission: the sickbay crew is drilled, and Collins issues phaser rifles to the security teams in case they have to repel boarders (or perhaps even board the vessel themselves). Watters addresses all hands with an inspirational speech, reminding them to keep their minds on their duty. The ship accelerates to warp 6.

Act Five[]

When the Jem'Hadar warship spots the Valiant, it drops out of warp and turns to face them. There is a moment of nervousness, as the bridge crew starts to fully appreciate what they are up against. Watters remains undaunted and orders the helm to take the ship on a head-to-head attack run at close range to avoid its weapons. The Jem'Hadar open fire, and Valiant begins to take damage.

The torpedoes are launched, and Farris guides them to the battleship's perceived weak spot. The torpedoes score a direct hit, and the bridge crew cheers as there is an explosion of flame, and the battleship begins to flounder… before emerging intact from the fireball. Watters asks if they missed the target, and Farris confirms they scored a direct hit – except their tactic simply "didn't work." As the reality of their situation becomes clear, the normally arrogant and overzealous Red Squad is replaced by a group of very frightened youths, trapped deep in enemy space and massively outgunned at close range by an invulnerable enemy ship five times the size of their escort.

The battleship begins hammering the Valiant with its own torpedoes. Watters starts to order evasive maneuvers when a console explodes, ripping the captain's chair off its support and killing him. The Valiant loses main power, propulsion, weapons, and shields. Farris starts to repeat the evasion order, before more explosions kill her and the rest of the bridge crew, except Nog and Collins. Collins asks Nog for orders since he is now ranking officer, saying their phaser banks are still partially functional, but after a moment's pause, Nog knows the battle's outcome is now a foregone conclusion. After he triggers the evacuation alert, Nog grabs Collins' hand and leads her off the bridge.

In the brig, most of the security crew has been killed when Nog and Collins run down to free Jake from the holding cell. Together, they make their way to the escape pods.

Only four pods are launched from the Valiant; two are destroyed by the battleship, and one is caught in an explosion as the Valiant is destroyed. The listing, rupturing hull of the Valiant hides from the battleship's view the one pod that gets away, carrying Nog, Jake, and Collins.

In a nearby sector of space, the Defiant is searching for Nog and Jake's missing runabout, when Major Kira picks up the pod's distress signal, identifying it with the Valiant. Worf warns that the Valiant officially went missing eight months ago, and it may be a Dominion trap. But Sisko says the signal may be legitimate and therefore, they have to check it out anyway.

Nog and Collins

"He may have been a hero. He may even have been a great man. But in the end, he was a bad captain."

The pod is rescued, though Sisko grimly informs Jake that no others were found in the area. They enter sickbay where Dr. Bashir treats Collins and Nog's injuries, and Jake goes to comfort a somber Nog. He asks Jake if he plans to write a story about the incident, and Jake says he probably will. Nog then asks Jake about what he is going to say, to which Jake asks what he should say. Nog tells Jake to say that the Valiant was a good ship, with a good crew, whose only mistake was blindly following Captain Watters as he led them "over a cliff." From her sickbed, Collins objects, saying that Watters was a great man. Jake reminds Collins that Watters got everyone killed, but Collins insists that if Watters failed the mission, it was because the crew that ultimately failed him. Nog then tells Jake to include both opinions in the story, and let people decide for themselves. Nog then gently taking Collins' hands in his own and giving her his Red Squad insignia pin, declares to Collins that while Watters might very well have been a hero and even a great man, he was a bad captain in the end.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"You're in love!"

- Odo, realizing Quark has feelings for Jadzia Dax

"If we keep going in this direction, we'll run into Cardassia Prime. And that won't be any fun at all."

- Jake Sisko

"You all probably know who my father is. Benjamin Sisko. So you know I'm not exaggerating when I say that he's considered to be one of the best combat officers in the fleet. And I'm telling you right now that even with the entire crew of the Defiant with him, my father would never try to pull off something like this. And if he can't do it, it can't be done."
"We're Red Squad and we can do anything!"

- Jake Sisko and Tim Watters

"You don't understand because you've never put on one of these uniforms. You don't know anything about sacrifice or honor or duty or any of the things that make up a soldier's life! I'm part of something larger than myself. All you care about is you."
"That's right. All I care about is Jake Sisko and whether or not he's going to be killed by a bunch of delusional fanatics looking for martyrdom!"

- Nog and Jake Sisko

"This is the captain. We are about to engage the enemy. For eight months, I've told you to stay focused on one thing. Your duty. But now, I want you to step back from your duty. Take a look around. And I don't mean look at the walls. I want you to look at this moment in your life. Take it in. Appreciate the fact that you are on this ship, with this group of people, at this point in history. But understand one thing above all else. This moment will never come again. Hold on to it. Savor it for as long as you can. You're Starfleet, you're Red Squad, and you're the best. Now, let's get that battleship and we can all go home. Captain out."

- Watters, to the crew of the Valiant

"Auxiliary power's offline. But I still have phaser control. Shall I return fire? Sir?"
"No… it's over."
"The captain wanted us to–"
"The captain is dead, Chief! They're all dead! The ship is lost. There's no need for us to die here too."

- Dorian Collins and Nog

"We scanned the area for any other escape pods, but it doesn't look like anyone else made it."
"It was a long shot. I just thought maybe…"

- Benjamin Sisko and Jake Sisko, on the news that there were no other survivors from the Valiant

"We let ourselves blindly follow Captain Watters, and he led us over a cliff."
"That's not true. Captain Watters was a great man."
"Dorian, he got everyone killed."
"If he failed, it's because we failed him."
(To Jake) "Put that in your story, too. Let people read it and decide for themselves." (To Collins) "He may have been a hero. He may even have been a great man. But in the end, he was a bad captain."

- Nog, Collins, and Jake, about Watters

Background information[]

Story and script[]

  • This episode originated in a discussion between Ronald D. Moore and Ira Steven Behr about "a ship that's been behind the lines since the beginning of the war, with a crew that has gotten rowdier and more ragged and embittered – a wild-eyed bunch of crazies that have been lost and out of contact for a long time." Moore then suggested that the crew be composed entirely of cadets, and Behr suggested that they use Red Squad. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 570)
  • In Moore's original draft of the script, the USS Valiant was discovered by Jake and Kira. The plot was predominantly the same, but as Moore later explained, "It didn't work because you couldn't believe that Kira wouldn't kick every one of their asses and take back the ship single-handedly. It occurred to us that if we put Nog in there we'd have a character who could buy into what Red Squad was doing. And Jake was a character who could stand back from it. That worked a lot better." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 570)
  • Ronald D. Moore had originally wanted to name the Defiant "Valiant", after the SS Valiant from TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Due to the development of Star Trek: Voyager, however (which was happening at the same time as the development of the design of the Defiant), he was forbidden to use any name beginning with the letter "V". While he relented and settled for the name of the ship from TOS: "The Tholian Web" (the USS Defiant), he was finally able to reuse the "Valiant" name here. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 572)


  • This episode was a favorite of Aron Eisenberg's, who saw it as critical in the development of the character of Nog; "Nog's dilemma in the episode was, 'Should I do the right thing? Or should I grab the opportunity to do what I've always wanted?' which is to become an officer. When a Ferengi sees what he wants, he doesn't let anything get in his way. He has all these rules for obtaining money, and that's the center of his life. Nothing really deters him from that goal. Nothing clouds that vision. A Ferengi won't allow it. So I applied that same mentality, those same philosophical ideas to Nog's desire to be a Starfleet officer. After he joined Starfleet, I turned all that attention to the one goal of succeeding in Starfleet and not failing, not letting anything deter him from that goal. So I started to play Nog as very, very straight-laced, a perfect military guy. In "Valiant", somebody was offering Nog a chance to be an officer and he could justify it, even if those justifications weren't correct, as Jake pointed out. He wasn't going to listen to anybody except for his captain. That's what made that show so powerful for me – the fact that Nog realizes when it's almost too late that he's made a horrible, horrible mistake. I thought it was great that the writers let him make the wrong decision. But then he was man enough to admit it too. And in the end scene, he gives back his prized possession, the Red Squad pin, which symbolizes what he wanted so badly. I think Nog grew tremendously in this show." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 570-571)


Jem'Hadar battleship

John Eaves sketch of Jem'Hadar battleship

  • The Jem'Hadar battleship was next seen in "The Dogs of War", and also featured prominently in the Battle of Cardassia, as seen in the series finale, "What You Leave Behind".
  • While Nog was brevetted to a lieutenant commander, he appears to be wearing a lieutenant junior grade insignia during his time on the Valiant.
  • The LCARS computer displays on the Valiant are seen in reverse order, with the main screen on top and the shorter portion on the bottom.
  • This episode marked the final appearance of the runabout USS Shenandoah.
  • In modern naval protocol, Nog, a commissioned officer, would have immediately outranked the entire crew of the Valiant, all of whom were cadets. However, writer Ronald D. Moore has stated that he based the premise on an 18th and 19th century naval tradition that an acting captain can only be removed from command by a flag officer. [1]
Nog and Jake onboard Shenandoah

The runabout cockpit set, its forward windows and struts removed for the filming of the teaser battle sequence

  • In the opening battle sequence aboard the runabout, several camera moves (in particular the sweep where the camera banks sharply to reflect the motion of the runabout) inadvertently disclose the fact that the forward windows have been removed to make filming the scene possible; in the most visible example, a sizable hole can be seen in the center of the piloting console, where the ceiling support strut between the windows usually was.
  • Dorian reminisces about going outside in a spacesuit to watch the sunrise from the surface of the Moon. Writer Ronald D. Moore would go on to depict such a scene in the season 2 premiere of For All Mankind, in 2021. [2]
  • Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) does not appear in this episode, although he is mentioned by Quark, Jadzia Dax and Nog.
  • Several costumes and props from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including Grace Bustos' costume. [3]
  • This episode is comparable to episodes such as TNG: "Lower Decks" and VOY: "Good Shepherd" in the way that it features an officer (Nog) in contact (during a tense situation) with a group of lower ranking members of Starfleet and because it depicts an onscreen story that follows below command level ranks and shows much of the story from their perspective as was achieved in "Lower Decks". It is worth noting that Ronald D. Moore also wrote TNG: "The First Duty" which focused on Nova Squadron and therefore this could be a reason for the similarities.
  • This episode also bears a strong resemblance to the film Star Trek. Both feature a crew that is largely made up of cadets and eventually forced to take command of the ship after the senior staff is killed or captured. Also, in both cases, a young energetic and arrogant cadet becomes commanding officer and orders the ship on a high-risk mission against an enemy ship that is much larger and far outguns the Starfleet ship. Of course, in the case of Star Trek, the crew succeeds in its mission and returns home safely and the cadet in command doesn't succumb to his own arrogance.


  • The short story "Dorian's Diary" in the anthology book Strange New Worlds III established that Collins returned to Tycho City following the destruction of the Valiant, where she received counseling from Deanna Troi and a visit from Nilz Baris, the great-great grandfather of Karen Farris. In 2374, she was awarded the Drakon Cluster of Courage, and the rest of the deceased Red Squad members were also awarded posthumously. Internal Affairs also launched an investigation into the actions of the cadets and criticized the decisions they made, but the public perception of them as heroes of the Dominion War made them overlook the actions of Red Squad. In 2375, Collins was assigned to the USS Wyandotte as part of a cadet assignment. She kept a diary of her life in which she documented her experiences during her recovery.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]


Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt doubles[]


2324; 2357; Acting; "all hands"; alloy; antimatter storage system; auxiliary power; battle cruiser; battle stations; battlefield commission; bearing; boulder; Cardassia; Cardassians; Cardassian battle cruiser; casualty report; circumnavigate; class 3 probe; Collin's father; combat officer; commanding officer; commission; cordafin; damage report; day; defense perimeter; Defiant-class; Defiant, USS; Defiant class decks; delta radiation; design flaw; deuterium injector; Dominion War; Dominion-held space; drink replicator; Earth; editor; El-Gatark; engineer; evacuation alert; evasive maneuvers; Federation; Federation Council; Federation News Service; FNS editor; Ferengi; Ferenginar; flux moderator; Galaxy-class; Grand Nagus; granddad; Guidance system; impulse control system (impulse system); interview; invasion force; Jem'Hadar battleship (unnamed); Jem'Hadar fighter (unnamed); Kepla sector; lucidity; lunar schooner; lung; mechanic; meter; outer marker; phaser control; plasma intercooler; pressure control system; promotion; Quark's; radio silence; raktajino; Ramirez; red alert; Red Squad; repairman; Republic, USS; rim; sensor range; rise to the occasion; Rom; runabout; Sea of Clouds; sector (unnamed); Sector 22757; Shenandoah, USS; shuttlecraft; silken sunrise; silven surprise; Sisko, Joseph; Sol; Starbase 257; Starbase 375-type; Starfleet Academy; "steady as she goes"; stimulant; strafing; technical data; tourist; training cruise; training ship; Tycho City; Valiant, USS; warp core assembly; wing; Zek

Dedication plaque references[]

Ahern, Terry; Antares Ship Yards; Bajor sector; Behr, Ira Steven; Beimler, Hans; Berman, Rick; Blackman, Bob; Bro, Anthony; Brown, Judi; Cameron, B.C.; Chief of Staff; Curry, Dan; della Santina, Bob; Drexler, Douglas; Eaves, John; Echevarria, Rene; Fleet Ops; Fredrickson, Anthony; Gausche, Steve; Gocke, Bill; Hutzel, Gary: Keller, Michael; Knox, Ronnie; Krosskove, Kris; Lauritson, Peter; Longo, Joe; McIlvain, Randy; Kennedy, John F.; Medina, Greg; Monak, Gary; Moore, Ronald D.; Okuda, Denise; Oster, Steve; Piller, Michael; Race, Lou; Reeder, Andrew; Research and Development; Richarz, Laura; Roddenberry, Gene; Roller, Tim; Science Ops; Starfleet Command Stipes, David; Tactical Ops; Takemura, David; Thompson, Bradley; Unsinn, Jim; Van Over, James; Vejar, Mike; Weddle, David; West, Jonathan; Westmore, Mike; Wilkinson, Ron; Yard Engineer; Zimmerman, Fritz; Zimmerman, Herman

Unreferenced material[]

Battle of Axanar

External links[]

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 6
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