1 INT. QUARKS:
At their usual table with the usual drinks, O’BRIEN and BASHIR are killing time.
The Doctor has a large pile of coins in front of him. The Chief has none. O’Brien takes a single coin from a bag. He flips it.
It lands tails.
O’Brien moves the coin to Bashir’s pile. He takes another coin from the bag, flips it. Tails again. This game lost its novelty long ago. And yet, here they still are.
BASHIR: (Aware but determined not to panic) List of possible explanations: someone is messing with the laws of probability. Again.
The sound of another coin landing.
O’BRIEN: Tails. (sliding the coin on to Bashir’s pile) Eighty-seven.
BASHIR: Or we’re trapped in a holoprogam. Again. Or it’s divine intervention. Or random fluctuations at the quantum level-
O’BRIEN: Or Quark fixing coins. Again.
BASHIR: (considering) Quark…
It’s not the explanation Bashir is pondering, but the Ferengi’s name.
O’Brien pats his pockets for a coin of his own to test the theory; one that hasn’t passed through Quark’s cash register. Despite living in a post-monetary utopia he finds one.
O’BRIEN: Ah! A Cardassian Lek! Forgot I had this.
He flips it. It lands.
Bashir doesn’t even bother to look. The Chief slides the Lek on to the Doctor’s pile.
O’Brien pats his pockets again. This time he finds one anachronistic box of matches (circa 1953) which he places absent minded on the table and, lo and behold, another smaller coin.
O’BRIEN: Where the hell did I pick this up?
He squints at the faded lettering.
O’BRIEN: 'E Pluribus Unum'…where’s that?
BASHIR: Moon of Rigel I think.
O’BRIEN: I’ve forgotten half the places I’ve been in this uniform.
O’Brien flips the coin. Tails again.
BASHIR: (To himself) There has to be an explanation. Some cause.
The rising sounds of an argument diverts Bashir’s attention momentarily.
QUARK: I said no. You've had three bottles already-
At the bar, Quark is wrestling a (presumably fourth) bottle of Whelan Bitters from GRATHON TOLAR, a weasel-faced alien - blue, oily and clearly inebriated. Bashir gives the confrontation only the briefest glance. He’s seen it before… it’s that kind of station, that kind of bar.
O’BRIEN: Eighty-nine, Love. Right we are then. (a beat) Best of two hundred?
A pause --
BASHIR: This is annoying you. Me winning all the time.
It’s taken Bashir eighty-nine victories to notice.
O’BRIEN: No, no.
BASHIR: It is.
BASHIR: You can’t be mad at me. I’m not doing anything. I’m just sitting here. Show me how I could be doing anything? The chances of eighty-nine coin t-
O’Brien flips another coin.
O’BRIEN: (Checking the landed coin with irk) Ninety.
BASHIR: - ninety coin tosses coming down tails all in a row. The odds are incredible. You can’t be annoyed.
O’BRIEN: Julian. I told you. I’m not annoyed.
O’Brien, wound up, throws another coin with slightly too much force. It spins on its edge on the table. Bashir stops it with his hand, his palm covering the outcome. A beat. This is not a game anymore.
BASHIR: Are you surprised though? (pause) Are you?
O’Brien considers the question.
O’BRIEN: (Straightforward) No. I’m not.
BASHIR: No, me neither.
Bashir lifts his hand from the coin. It’s tails.
O’BRIEN: Ninety one.
Both men focus on their drinks.
BASHIR: We should be surprised.
The oily, weasel-faced alien stumbles behind them. Tolar has acquired and already nearly finished the fourth bottle. He exits in the direction of the Dabo Wheel.
O’BRIEN: I suppose… when you’ve been on the station as long as we have you become numb to the incredible.
BASHIR: How long?
BASHIR: How long have we been here?
BASHIR: And before here? Before the station?
O’BRIEN: The Enterprise.
Bashir reacts. This is more background than he’s got.
O’BRIEN: Not much of that made a hell of a lot of sense either. Not when I was stuck standing-by the transporter.
Raised, unseen voices are now coming from the direction in which Tolar stumbled. M’Pella (a Dabo-girl) does not want to dance with the weasel-faced alien. He is insisting.
O’BRIEN: Something was always happening somewhere: up on the bridge or down on a planet.
But most of the time I didn’t have a clue what. Or why.
Bashir and O’Brien don’t notice the argument. Its background noise to them, part of the character of the bar – there to add colour.
Besides O’Brien is deep into the past now, reminiscing.
O’BRIEN: Picard setting off red alert all the damn time… or that bloody auto destruct with no explanation.
But you couldn’t let it get to you.
Quark crosses the room behind them. He’s heading toward the Dabo Wheel and M’Pella. Towards Tolar…
O’BRIEN: What was going to happen was going to happen. Nothing you could do about it.
The argument by the Dabo-Wheel is louder now.
O’BRIEN: All I could do was stand by the transporter and wait. Be there when called for. Do my job.
BASHIR: Hope for the best you mean? Hope someone did something.
O’Brien flips another coin. It lands tails.
BASHIR: (Agitated) I mean to say though! There’s only so long you can wait!
Quark moves into view behind them - hunched over, clutching his chest and heading their way.
BASHIR: Is a little change, a little action too much to ask?
Quark lands: on his back, slap bang in the middle of the table. A hail of coins and beer glasses hit the floor. He lays prostrate, not blinking – a knife stuck in his front.
The briefest silence then -- Quark let’s out an ear-splitting Ferengi scream.
And all hell breaks loose.
Both Bashir and O’Brien hit their comm badges at the same time.
BASHIR: Medical Emergency. Quark try not to move.
O’BRIEN: Security to Quarks. Odo!
On the floor, one of the coins set in motion pivots on its edge. The coin spins down. It settles…
But both O’Brien and Bashir are too busy to notice it. Nor do they notice the next coin which has also landed heads. And the next. And the next. The grimy floor is carpeted with a sea of coins all showing heads. Every single one.
Bashir is treating Quark. Being a doctor. Doing his job.
O’Brien (aided by M’Pella and a heeled-shoe) is restraining Tolar and shouting for security.
They are caught up in the events of In The Pale Moonlight, Act 3. Scene 1. And there’s nothing they can do about it.
At this very moment, somewhere, Sisko is losing sleep over the finer points of morality. Somewhere, someone is telling Garak he can have a data-rod but only for eighty-five liters of bio-memetic gel.
And maybe, just maybe…
… far beyond all that a man in a white-washed room is wondering what you do when people are numb to the incredible. And nothing ever seems to change.