Quark returns from Ferenginar having been diagnosed with a fatal disease. Desperate to clear his debts before his death so he can ascend to the Ferengi version of Heaven, he makes a deal to sell his corpse, delivery in six days (the time limit the doctor gave him).
Unfortunately for Quark, the enormous bid for his body that he accepted was from his old enemy Brunt, FCA. Brunt despises Quark for his "softness," and has trapped him in a catch-22. When Quark discovers that he isn't dying after all, he's left with an impossible choice: either break the contract, becoming an outcast from Ferengi society with all his assets and the assets of his family seized, or find a way to die within the six days so that his body can be delivered accordingly. As a proud Ferengi, Quark decides he would rather die than accept exile, and begins making arrangements to have Garak execute him.
Quark then has a vision of a visit to the Celestial Treasury, where his imagination supplies images of Brunt and the first Grand Nagus. The two argue, with Brunt telling him to go through with his plan and the Nagus (who Quark has imagined looking uncannily like Rom) telling him that his life is more important than any rules.
In the end, Quark decides to break the contract. Brunt declares him persona non grata on Ferenginar, and hauls off the entire contents of Quark's Bar as an opening payment. Quark collapses in the empty room, deep in depression over his complete lack of assets. Quark's Federation and Bajoran friends then arrive, bringing furniture and equipment from elsewhere in the station. Rom comments that with so many friends, Quark isn't without assets after all.
Meanwhile, Bashir, Kira, and Keiko O'Brien arrive home from an away mission after an accident has resulted in Keiko becoming badly injured. She'll recover, but the baby was in jeopardy; with no other options, Bashir transferred the fetus into Kira. The process is not reversible, so Kira will have to carry the child to term.
- Adult Fear: O'Brien is visibly worried when he hears that Keiko's been injured, and he looks devastated for a moment when he thinks that the baby didn't survive.
- All Just a Dream: Quark's time in the Divine Treasury. Dream!Gint, partway through the sequence, actually tells Quark that it's just a dream, which explains why the decorations fell short of Quark's expectations, and why Gint so resembles Quark's 'idiot brother'.
- And You Were There: In his dream, Quark notes that Dream!Gint looks like an older version of Rom.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Quark breaks his contract to save his skin, meaning Brunt gets to confiscate all of his possessions. However, Brunt didn't count on Quark having friends so generous that they would help him rebuild his life completely, and be free of F.C.A. influence.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Under the sleaze, Quark is actually a pretty nice guy, even his insults and threats come off as funny. When he confronts Brunt at the end, no one is laughing.Quark: Take my assets, revoke my Ferengi business license. Do whatever you have to do then get out. And if I ever see you walk into my bar again...Brunt: (smug) Yes?Quark: (darkly) You won't walk out.
- Black Comedy: The wacky hijinks that ensue from Quark being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Ferengi death rites, and attempting to hire an assassin on one's own life!
- Blatant Lies: Everyone has one for giving stuff to Quark to help him restart his bar—Bashir has brandy that he can't drink, Sisko has furniture that needs to be stored there, etc.
- Brick Joke: Garak tells Quark that he used to be a gardener. Tune in next week for the payoff!
- Rom reminds Quark of his one-week stint as the Grand Nagus.
- Rom also brings up the time he successfully pulled off a union.
- When telling Quark why It's Personal, Brunt mentions the time Quark saved his mother from being made an example of the F.C.A.
- Central Theme: Quark faces a personal version of the early season Central Theme of whether its possible to break free from the past: does he want to be a good Ferengi and follow the Ferengi Law he's dedicated his life to? Who is he if he's not following the Rules of Acquisition?
- Deadly Euphemism: After telling Quark that he used to be a gardener, Garak says he'll be more than happy to have something weeded.
- Desecrating the Dead:Brunt: I have a thousand ideas about how to defile your remains. Want to hear my favorites?
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Quark tries to appeal to Brunt by saying he'll take away his employees' vacation time. Brunt is then aghast that he gave his employees vacations. He's also horrified that Quark sold food and medicine to Bajoran refugees at just above cost!SF Debris!Brunt: How do you sleep at night?!
- Everyone Has Standards: According to Quark, Brunt's actions here (insisting on following the literal letter of a contract even though it requires the other party's unintended death, especially as there's zero profit to be made in doing so) are low even by Ferengi standards. As Quark puts it, "We're not Klingons, we're businessmen."
- Explosive Instrumentation: Keiko runs afoul of this off-screen (though she survives). It's what kicks off the "surrogate pregnancy" plot.
- First-Name Basis: Kira encourages this with Miles and Keiko, since she's having their baby.
- Foreshadowing: Quark's vision has the Grand Nagus look like Rom. By the series end, Rom has become Zek's successor.
- Honorary Uncle: Well, Aunt. Aunt Nerys to be specific.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Quark, when he sees that despite losing everything to Brunt, The Power of Friendship has come to his rescue.
- In the script (but not the finished episode), Sisko, Bashir, and O'Brien need a drink to help them start dealing with the Kira/Keiko pregnancy situation.
- Idiot Ball: If Quark had followed Rom's advice and consulted Dr. Bashir for a second opinion about his health, or if he included a provision in his contract in case he doesn't die, he could have avoided all this trouble.
- Rom actually points this out before Quark does anything rash, but Quark brushes him off. After all, how good can Bashir be, he doesn't even charge.
- Implausible Deniability: Garak denying that he was ever an assassin to Quark. You're not fooling anyone, Garak.
- Mistaken for Afterlife: When Quark has his dream regarding the Divine Treasury, at first he thinks that Garak has done as Quark asked, killing him in a way that would mean he "simply woke up" there.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: While nothing in the episode specifically states it, Dr. Orpax's incorrect diagnosis sure does seem like a Batman Gambit on Brunt's part to maneuver Quark into short-selling himself. It definitely wouldn't have been above Brunt to pay off Quark's doctor to give the misdiagnosis in order to kick off the plot.
- Neck Snap: Garak demonstrates this possible method of killing Quark, who quickly rejects it.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: As Quark notes, Ferengi law relies on a certain amount of common sense when enforcing contracts and Brunt's actions are way out of line. They are, however, within the letter of the rules; Brunt is exploiting a loophole caused by being both the customer and the enforcer.
- Persona Non Grata: When Quark finally breaks his contract to him, Brunt uses his authority as an FCA liquidator to have Quark's bar shut down, further decreeing that no Ferengi may work for him, do business with him, or even talk to him.
- Power of Friendship: Quark learns what he truly has in assets when the entire crew of DS9 donates all he needs to restart his bar after Brunt ruins him.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Brunt goes into detail about how he hates Quark, not for any slight against him personally, but for his un-Ferengi business practices: giving his workers vacation time, taking only a third of his workers' tips, and selling medicine to Bajoran refugees at just above cost.Brunt: It was still a generous, hoo-manitarian gesture!
- Sadistic Choice: Quark is boned from the start. Either he breaks his contract and lives (as a pariah in Ferengi society), or dies so Brunt can claim the remains he paid for. He chooses life.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Dream!Gint convinces Quark to break the contract by saying that the Rules of Acquisition were merely suggestions, but of course, no one would buy a book entitled "Suggestions of Acquisition."
- Skewed Priorities: When Bashir tells Quark that he's not going to die of Dorek's Syndrome, this dialogue ensues:Quark: Do you know what this means, Rom?
Rom: It means you're gonna live!
Quark: It means I get to sue Dr. Orpax for malpractice! And I'm gonna live.
- Suicide by Assassin: The reason why Quark hires Garek to kill him is so he can fulfill his contract with Brunt. However, all the different methods that Garek performs or suggests dont appeal to Quark.
- That Came Out Wrong: When Rom convinces Quark to have his soon-to-be desiccated corpse auctioned on Ferengi eBay:Rom: When you see how much your body is worth, you're gonna wish you'd died years ago!
(Quark gives Rom a Death Glare)
Rom: Or something like that.
- Wham Line:Quark: I'm—I'm dying!
- Wham Shot: Pregnant Kira.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Quark never seems to get around to cancelling Garak's hit on him...
- More likely, Garak simply knew better than to think Quark would really be willing to go through with it and just humored him. Very in-character for Garak. After all, all he actually did was demonstrate some assassination methods in the holosuite.
- Would Rather Suffer: When it turns out that Quark even lost his clothes to Brunt, Rom offers some of his old clothes. Quark's response?Quark: I'd rather be naked.
- You Look Familiar: In-Universe — Max Grodénchik plays both Rom and the Gint in Quark's dream. Quark lampshades this.
- You Make Me Sick: Brunt makes his feelings about Quark very clear (in Large Ham mode).Brunt: You dis-GUST me.