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Rules of Acquisition (episode)

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Grand Nagus Zek assigns Quark to initiate negotiations with a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, but Quark's new associate is not what he seems.


In Quark's, a group of Ferengi are playing a late-night game of tongo – as is Jadzia Dax. She informs Quark and his friends that Curzon used to play the game, but she is a better player than Curzon ever was. One of the newer waiters, Pel, takes Quark aside and introduces him to sand peas, which he says Quark can use to double beverage profits. Quark is impressed, but before the conversation can continue, an alarm goes off to indicate a subspace communication on Grand Nagus Zek's personal channel. The Nagus offers Quark the chance to make "more profit than you ever imagined possible" – all he has to do is earn it.

Zek is seated in Commander Sisko's office, accompanied by his Hupyrian servant Maihar'du. He has made contact with a species from the Gamma Quadrant called the Dosi and plans to hold a meeting with them aboard Deep Space 9, but Sisko and Major Kira warn Zek not to cheat their guests.

With Maihar'du at his side and Quark at his feet taking his shoes off, Zek explains that tulaberries and tulaberry wine are the secret to the Gamma Quadrant. He claims they will help the Ferengi Alliance get its foot in the Gamma Quadrant, and Quark instantly takes to the idea.

However, when Quark tells his brother Rom about the new proposal, Pel quotes from the Rules of Acquisition: "The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife." The young waiter seems to think Zek is setting Quark up in case the deal falls through. Over Rom's objections, Quark takes Pel on as his assistant for the negotiations.

The Dosi turn out to be an extremely aggressive people, and at the meeting with two Dosi named Inglatu and Zyree, Quark fails to acquire the 10,000 vats of wine that Zek requested. Before he can tell him the bad news, the Nagus decides he wants 100,000 vats instead, giving Pel reason to suspect he wants the negotiations to fail. The Dosi leave when Quark makes his request, but just as Zek is about to erupt at Quark, Pel intervenes. He announces a plan to take the Nagus' ship to the Gamma Quadrant and pursue the Dosi.

Finding Inglatu on the Dosi homeworld, Quark reiterates his demand for 100,000 vats of tulaberry wine. Inglatu continues to refuse until Quark declares that he does not plan to leave. This does not bother Inglatu, who goes about his business. However, it turns out that, like the Ferengi, the Dosi are serious about profit, and Zyree comes to Quark and Pel's quarters that evening. She reveals that neither Inglatu nor herself nor any Dosi can sell the Ferengi 100,000 vats of wine, but she offers to put them in touch with the Karemma – an important member of something called the "Dominion" – for a price.

Finally, Quark and Pel realize the plan was not to buy wine but to get in contact with the Dominion. They return to DS9, having bought no wine but with contact information about the Karemma. Zek is very pleased, but while Quark and Pel were gone, Rom discovered a secret about Pel. Distraught at the way Pel was coming between him and Quark and intent on finding something to use against the other Ferengi, Rom broke into Pel's quarters and found his – or rather, her fake lobes (Ferengi females have smaller lobes than males). When he reveals this secret to Quark, his brother declares that it must remain a secret, as females are not allowed to earn profit and associating with a female like Pel would land him in prison.

Pel has other ideas. She confronts the Nagus and reveals her true identity, to Quark and Rom's amazement. A "clothed female" disgusts Zek, and he threatens Quark with imprisonment until he realizes that he was represented by Pel. Zek allows Quark to go free so long as the secret remains secret, but it will cost Quark his Gamma Quadrant profits. Ultimately, Quark and Pel share a heartfelt goodbye, but Quark decides not to leave with her when she goes to the Gamma Quadrant to start a new life.

Memorable quotesEdit

"Is that really how you prefer your women— naked and submissive?"
"You find such a lifestyle appealing?"
"Ah... don't you wish?"
"I do... I really do..."

- Jadzia Dax and Quark

"I don't plan on being a waiter forever."
"Good, then you're fired."
"Shut up, Rom."

- Pel, Rom, and Quark

"A little late, aren't we?!"

- Zek, after Maihar'du hands him a handkerchief several seconds after a long sneeze

"You always know what to expect when you do business with the Ferengi."
"Which is why, if you're smart, you don't do business with the Ferengi."
"I think you've made your point, Major."

- Zek, Kira and Sisko

"They're greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little trolls, and I wouldn't turn my back on one of them for a second."
"Neither would I. But once you accept that, you'll find they can be a lot of fun."

- Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax, on Ferengi

"Actually, I just stopped by to return this."
"Why, is something wrong with it?"
"No, it's lovely, I just can't accept it."
"Then I suppose a night of wild, passionate romance is out of the question?"
"T— that's right."
"Just thought I'd ask!"

- Kira Nerys and Zek

"Who's the Karemma?"
"An important power in the Dominion."
"The Dominion? What's that?"
"Let's just say if you want to do business in the Gamma Quadrant, you have to do business with the Dominion."

- Pel, Zyree and Quark

Background information Edit

Story and scriptEdit

  • This episode was originally to be titled "Profit Margin". It began life as a TNG pitch. Hilary J. Bader's original story had Pel involved with Will Riker. Beverly Crusher would subsequently find out, and she and Pel would develop a kind of sisterhood. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • In the The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond documentary on the DS9 Season 3 DVD, several of the writers give their views on the need to create a specific identity for the Gamma Quadrant:
    • Michael Piller: "I can remember that once we decided that we were going to go deeply into the wormhole, that we essentially were forcing ourselves to decide for ourselves what we were going to find there."
    • Ira Steven Behr: "We just felt that having done a year and a half of the show at that time, that we had such a rich backdrop that we hadn't yet explored. What's on the other side of the wormhole? Is it just more space?"
    • Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "We just felt it was time to give a face to the Gamma Quadrant. Voyager was going to be wandering through the Delta Quadrant from place to place, meeting new people every week, and we wanted to make the Gamma Quadrant distinctly different from that, by creating the Dominion, a sort of unifying anti-Federation in a way, just to give it a completely different character.
  • Of the creation of the Dominion, which at this stage was simply a name, as the writers hadn't developed any definite plans yet, Ira Behr notes, "The existence of the Gamma Quadrant next door to Deep Space 9 would not help the series if it remained just unexplored space. They did three years of that on The Original Series, and seven years on The Next Generation. We needed to define that space." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)


  • Make-Up Designer Michael Westmore based the facial art of the Dosi on colorations found in the tribes of Borneo and the South Seas. (Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season 2, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features)



  • This is the first episode to mention the Dominion. The Karemma are also mentioned for the first time. The decision to locate the initial mention of the Dominion in an otherwise inconsequential "comedy" episode was one which was very purposely taken by the writers to throw the viewers off. Of course, the Dominion would go on to be very important, in contrast to their inauspicious introduction in this episode. (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features)
  • Referenced Rules of Acquisition: #21 ("Never place friendship above profit"), #22 ("A wise man can hear profit in the wind"), #33 ("It never hurts to suck up to the boss"), #48 ("The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife"), #59 ("Free advice is seldom cheap"), #62 ("The riskier the road, the greater the profit"), and #103 ("Sleep can interfere with....").
  • This episode marks the first time we see the game of tongo being played.
  • This episode marks the first on-screen appearance of a Ferengi female in Star Trek. Apart from Pel, only one other female Ferengi is ever portrayed in an episode of DS9, namely Quark and Rom's mother Ishka. It is also the first Star Trek episode where a character, for most of the episode, is cross-dressing. Quark himself would temporarily cross-dress as a woman in "Profit and Lace".
  • No stardate is given in this episode but it obviously precedes the next episode "Necessary Evil" (stardate 47282.5). In that episode Rom references the time Quark stayed "in the Gamma Quadrant overnight".
  • Cirroc Lofton does not appear in this episode.
  • Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, was Brian Thompson's costume. [1]
  • A couple of Pakleds are seen in the background of some scenes on the Promenade including that in which Odo is talking to Rom in the bar.
  • During the first television broadcast of this episode, the title was misspelled as "Rules of Aquisition". It was fixed by the time the episode reran later in the season.
  • On the bridge of Zek's ship there is a dome in the background that appears to be the lower half of the Thought maker from "The Battle".
  • This episode hints at a general acceptance of homosexuality in the 24th century. When Pel confesses her love for Quark to Dax, Dax is perfectly at ease with it even though she believes Pel to be a man. It is only later that she learns (to her astonishment) that Pel is a woman.


  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series.

Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest starsEdit

Uncredited co-stars Edit


Andorian transport; Bajor; Bajoran; Bajoran earring; Bajoran wormhole; bedroom; brizeen nitrate; consultant; crime; Dax, Curzon; Dominion; Dosi; fainting; Ferengi; Ferengi history; Ferengi law; Ferenginar; fertilizer; flaked blood flea; gambling; Gamma Quadrant; gesture; Gramilian sand peas; handkerchief; holosuite; Karemma; Kibberian fire diamond; kiss; latinum; lobe; lokar bean; mattress; northern peninsula; optical data processor; planetary alliance; Promenade; Quark's; Replimat; Rules of Acquisition; snoring; subspace field modulator; subspace frequency; thigh; toast; tongo; trading consortium; troll; tulaberry wine; vat

External linksEdit

Previous episode:
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 2
Next episode:
"Necessary Evil"

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