Quark meets Gaila's partner Hagath and the pair assure him that they won't ask him to bring weapons onto the station. Hagath takes an instant liking to Quark but warns him, "Never cross me." Quark uses his holosuits to give buyers demonstrations with holographic replicas of their wares and proves to be an excellent salesmen. Hagath funnels Quark's earnings directly to his creditors to make sure that he doesn't become compromised by his debts. The group is riding high until Odo storms in on Quark and arrests him for selling weapons without a license. But then Sisko and Kira arrive and announce that Hagath and Gaila have been granted clemency by the Bajoran Provisional Government in thanks for selling them the arms that they used to win their freedom. Odo releases Quark reluctantly, but everyone warns him that he's on precariously thin ice with the law.
Quark is treated as an outcast by Federation citizens on the station, but he's still got his arm deals running. He's given pause when Hagath confronts one of his other business partners, Farrak, for poor performance and fires him on the spot. Gaila confides in Quark that he's thinking of retiring and giving Quark a greater stake in the business, but the deal doesn't sound so inviting after Gaila mentions that Hagath had Farrak killed on his flight from the station.
The trio's next big customer is the Regent of Palamar, who wants to buy a bio-weapon to kill upwards of 28 million people in a strike against his rival, General Nassuc. Horrified, Quark urges the Regent to reconsider such a brutal action, but Hagath coldly brushes Quark's objections aside. Gaila later confronts Quark and tries to convince him to set his conscience aside in the name of profit. Caught between a genocide and a murderous partner, Quark reaches out to Dax for support, but she won't listen to him. He has a nightmare about the station all being ghosts and blaming him for their deaths.
While all this has been going on, O'Brien has been unable to let go of his son Kirayoshi without the boy crying, so he's been forced to take him everywhere. He realizes that a certain section of Ops lulls the baby asleep, but it's only a temporary solution. Ultimately he takes a few days off, and Worf visits. When O'Brien hands the baby over to Worf for a moment, Kirayoshi falls alseep, and O'Brien promptly passes out himself.
Quark tells Hagath that he could not get the weapons that the Regent wanted but has an alternative, so they'll need to meet with the Regent again to discuss it. Afterward, Quark tells Gaila that he's arranged a deal with General Nassuc to double their profits and assures his cousin that all will be well as long as neither side finds out about the other. However, Quark has scheduled both deals for the same cargo bay. When the two sides meet, chaos and shooting erupts. Quark slinks away and sits down as Odo's security rushes to the scene. In the aftermath, the Regent has been killed and the General has sent assassins after Gaila and Hagath. Quark is in the clear, but Sisko saddles him with the bill for the damages to the cargo bay, which he agrees to pay off in installments.
In the end, Quark and Dax have reconciled, and they're now playing Tongo again.
Tropes in this episode:
- A Million is a Statistic: Gaila tries to invoke this in his "one star in the sky" speech to Quark, but Quark disagrees. Later, Quark considers the death of the Regent (and the narrow escape of Hagath and Gaila) to be a small price to pay for saving the lives of 28 million people—a sentiment Sisko agrees with.
- Ambiguously Gay: Hagath may have Talura as his sexy female arm candy, but he's also very... affectionate towards Quark, gifting the Ferengi with jewels and touching him on the lobes (the Ferengi erogenous zones) while telling him "I love you."
- Anger Born of Worry: Sisko dressing down Quark in his office during the penultimate scene. Sisko's justifiably furious that Quark's attempts to sabotage the arms deal instead triggered a firefight on the Station. At the same time, though, it's heavily implied (and the Teleplay's direction confirms) that Sisko's secretly relieved that Quark's managed to get himself out of this mess.
- Arms Dealer: Gaila and Hagath, who do business with a number of interplanetary factions.
- Bad Boss: Hagath showers his associates with praise and gifts when everything is going well, but the moment they disappoint him, he turns into seething rage and will kill them just for spite.
- Batman Gambit: Quark decides to turn against both Hagath and Gaila by arranging for the Regent and his mortal enemy to run into each other in the Cargo Bay, counting on the fallout to end their business.
- Berserk Button: For the love of God, do not do anything that will hurt Hagath's profits.
- Call-Back: This is not the first time that Gaila and his weapons business have been mentioned. Dax also brings up that time he tried to kill Quark.
- Chew-Out Fake-Out: Quark contacts the Regent's chef to prepare a sumptuous dinner of all his favorites. Hagath pretends outrage, asking if Quark is trying to scuttle the deal."This?! He's going to enjoy this?! [samples a plate] Well he should, it's delicious."
- Chewing the Scenery: It's a miracle DS9's hulls are still intact with the way Hagath articulated his lines.
- Continuity Nod:
- The Metrons are mentioned as being among Hagath's potential customers, though it seems a bit odd that a species previously shown to abhor violence would want to buy weapons. Perhaps the Metrons weren't so much buying the weapons as confiscating them?
- Worf reminds the audience that he's got a son and recalls that he never got to see him when he was an infant.
- Cuteness Proximity: Everybody in Ops is distracted by Kirayoshi sleeping.
- Didn't See That Coming: Quark tries to pull this with regards to the firefight that he caused in the cargo bay between the Regent's and Nassuc's forces, claiming that all he wanted to happen was for the two groups to both pull a Screw This, I'm Outta Here. Sisko doesn't buy this for a moment, but whether or not Quark was being sincere, it's clear that the latter definitely didn't intend for the Regent to end up dead; not that either he or Sisko minds.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Gaila sees Dax, he describes a clothed woman as "titillating" while rubbing his lobes — a well-known erogenous zone. Really, Gaila?
- Easily Forgiven: Despite their justified anger, Sisko and Jadzia (and by proxy, the rest of the Cast) are back on speaking terms with Quark after he sabotages the deal. In Sisko's case, though, that doesn't stop him from making his forgiveness expensive for Quark (by forcing him to pay for the repairs to Cargo Bay 4).
- Everyone Has Standards: Even though Quark is as greedy as the next Ferengi and open to all sorts of shady dealings, he's never been interested in the arms business. When it becomes clear that his wares will kill millions of people, it's too much for Quark's conscience.
- Evil Brit: Hagath. He is played by Steven Berkoff, after all.
- Evil Is Hammy: Hagath sells weapons, not subtlety."So let's forgo any further attempts at jocularity, shall we? And get down to THE BUSINESS!!"
- Faux Affably Evil: Hagath appears jovial and kind, seeing to it that all of Quark's debts are settled and gives him a set of rare glass beads as a token of his appreciation. Just don't make him lose his temper. Because he will actually have you murdered.
- I Can Live With That: Quark's reaction to the narrow escape of Hagath and Gaila from the station. He also has this reaction to the death of the Regent:Quark: I can live with that, too. And I can think of twenty-eight million other people who won't mind either.
Sisko: Twenty-eight million... and one.
- It Will Never Catch On: Hagath and Gaila reminisce about how people said they were crazy for wanting to sell weapons to the Bajoran resistance.Hagath: "What chance do they have? Invest in a winner, sell to the Cardassians."
- Let's You and Him Fight: How Quark sets things up to get out of the weapons deal while forcing Hagath and Gaila to flee for their lives.
- Loan Shark: Quark is facing a lot of business debts about to come due, with what are implied to be dire consequences if he doesn't pay up.
- Loophole Abuse: Quark knows that Odo would never allow any weapons onto the station, so buyers are given demonstrations using holographic replicas instead. All the actual shipping takes place outside Federation territory, so they can't get busted by Starfleet. Odo acknowledges it later after detaining Quark, noting it's a mere technicality and it won't hold up legally (at least until he's forced to let Quark go on the orders of the Bajoran Government).
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Hagath has Farrakk killed in a warp core explosion. It's implied that this is how he deals with everyone who makes a screw up that hurts his profit.
- Mistaken for Transformed: Knowing that Odo wouldn't approve of the newest business venture, Quark is quickly reduced to checking the barstools just in case one of them might be a disguised Changeling, even taking the glass out of Gaila's hand and dipping his finger in it. Gaila exasperatedly reminds him that they saw Odo walking down the promenade just five minutes ago - not that this helps Quark's paranoia in the slightest.
- Mood Whiplash: The A-Plot is Quark wrestling with his conscience as his new employers openly discuss ending thousands to millions of lives for profit. The B-Plot? O'Brien's baby won't stop crying.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Quark, when he realizes what he's gotten himself involved in. He even whispers "What have I done?" after waking up from his Guilt-Induced Nightmare.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Quark has one when the Regent wants 28 million people killed.
- Gaila has one when he realizes Quark invited General Nassuc (the Regent's mortal enemy) to the station.
- Played for Black Comedy in the penultimate scene when Sisko presents the repair bill for Cargo Bay 4 to Quark.
- Opinion-Changing Dream: Quark's nightmare of all his dead friends blaming him for getting them killed by the weapons he's selling.
- Pet the Dog: Hagath sends Quark's earnings directly to his creditors, telling him he won't be able to enjoy his profits until all his debts are settled. But to make up for it, he gives him a set of rare glass beads that are worth a fortune so that he can enjoy some fruits of his labor.
- Playing Both Sides: Hagath and Gaila occasionally do this during planetary wars, but note that it's very risky. Quark decides to exploit this by inviting General Nassuc to the station and telling Gaila that is exactly what he is planning, while leading her to a potential standoff with the Regent.
- Properly Paranoid: Just before meeting Hagath, Quark shakes the seats in his bar, worried that Odo is eavesdropping as an inanimate object, just as he has done in previous episodes. Gaila has to remind Quark that they watched him leave the promenade five minutes earlier.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite his anger at Quark, and while he does stick Quark with the bill for the damage the firefight caused, Sisko also allows Quark to pay via an installment plan rather than a lump sum.
- Rejected Apology: Quark tries to make amends with Dax before sabotaging the deal, knowing he will likely die, but she rebuffs him. She's much more receptive, though, afterwards when everything is back to normal.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Odo brings Quark in when he suspects him of arms dealing, but as it turns out, his new employer Hagath helped the Bajoran Resistance and made their independence possible. As such, the Bajoran government, owing a boon to Hagath, lets Quark walk. Hagath and Gaila reveal that they sold to the Bajorans specifically to make a valuable connection.
- Gaila's speech to Quark about whether Quark should care about some people he doesn't know and will never meet is very similar to Harry Lime's speech in The Third Man.
- The Breen weapon that Quark demonstrates is designated CRM-114, which was the B-52 radio encryption set in Dr. Strangelove.
- Hagath's dialogue with Quark parallels an exchange from Scarface:Hagath: Don't cross me, Quark. Don't you ever cross me.
- Special Guest: Steven Berkoff as Hagath.
- Status Quo Is God: Played with. The episode premise is Quark taking a new job that will make him a ton of money and allow him to pay his debts, but it alienates his friends in the Federation, and by the end of the episode Quark is back at the bar still in debt and has mended his bridges. However, his time working with Hagath did allow him to pay off his debts, and his new debts are to Sisko for the repairs to the cargo bay that Quark's machinations damaged; while the fee is implied to be high, it's probably less than he owed before, and he's dealing with a much more reasonable debt collector this time.
- Suddenly Shouting: Hagath tends to do this at points, particularly when he tries to distract from Quark's horror at the Regent's wish to commit mass-murder by quickly saying "Let's get down to THE BUSINESS!" — more than likely a Shout-Out to Steven Berkoff's prior role in Octopussy as General Orlov, who had much the same habit.
- Take a Third Option: Before the climax, Quark has two choices: continue to be part of the weapons deal and allow for the deaths of 28 million people, or risk getting killed by Hagath and Gaila. He chooses to set things up so that all parties involved are involved in a shootout and both Hagath and Gaila are forced to flee.
- Villain Has a Point:
- Hagath sends Quark's pay directly to his creditors to pay off his debts, as he doesn't want Quark to act irresponsible with his profits and not pay back his debtors, but he also recognizes the importance of his business partner not having that pressure on him anymore. Given the general behavior of Ferengi and the business Hagath is in, making sure Quark has no obligations to anyone else and keeping control of his money for the time being are good ideas.
- Hagath and Gaila have one by proxy when Kira begrudgingly admits that weapons dealers like them made it possible for the Bajorans (and other oppressed groups) to fight back against tyranny.
- War for Fun and Profit: Subverted - Quark acts like he's willing to sell to both sides, but he's really setting it up so that the leaders of both sides will "accidentally" run into each other and start shooting.
- Worth It: Implied several times regarding Quark's screwing of the deal at the climax. If Quark died in the execution, it was worth it to stop the slaughter of 28 million people. (As he himself puts it: "One life for 28 million. Best deal I ever made.") He sheds no tears over the Regent's death when it's revealed, and he doesn't even try to wiggle out of being sent the bill for the damage dealt in the firefight, only asking for a payment plan that Sisko agrees to.
- You Have Failed Me: Hagath is extremely displeased with Farrakk, who was vacationing on Risa instead of conducting a weapons deal. Needless to say, Farrakk doesn't leave the station alive.