This definitely wasn't what I expected to write as my next post, but I've been a bit busy and a bit under the weather and ended up looking into what scenes I might be able to pull out for a revised version of this post that could go up on the Slacktiverse. Speaking of which, you know what's a real problem? A lack of beta readers, or alpha readers, or anything readers. Feedback givers.
I've wanted to make a Slacktiverse post combining this and this for ages now. (The second serves to clarify the first, so is making the two into one makes a lot of sense) Apparently about four months. I reached out to the people I knew to reach out to, never got any feedback. It's ... aggravating.
Anyway, I was on youtube. One thing led to another and then I saw a thing saying the scene proved Sisko was apparently the most badass captain ever. So I checked to see what the scene is. The scene is Sisko's he who fights monsters moment. It's the nadir of his moral arc. It is when he becomes undeniably evil. It doesn't last, of course, DS9 may have been the series that did the most to turn Star Trek on its ear and rip apart load bearing walls of the Trek moral universe, but it was still fundamentally Star Trek and it couldn't go on very long with the guy in charge as evil so naturally he's doing soul searching by the end of the episode. (At least I hope I'm remembering that right because otherwise capital WTF?)
But that's not the point. The point is that Sisko is apparently the most badass because he's willing to go on a biological warfare campaign against innocent people because there is one man, and one man only, who he simply does not like. The only thing that stops him is that the guy he doesn't like is less evil than he is. The guy he doesn't like is all, "I used biological weapons, you used biological weapons. Why don't we stop? I'll trust you to stop, and give you all of mine so you know I have no choice but to stop."
Sisko screams, "Not enough,"* tries to cut off communication, and orders his crew to take him to the location of his next war crime. He's already proven that he doesn't bluff. When he says that he will go against everything he ever claimed to stand for, destroy the lives of innocent people on a whim, and generally become the most evil human currently alive, he fucking means it. He has proven that when he says he has no morals he fucking means it, cross him and an entire planet will suffer. An entire unrelated planet. An entire planet of innocent people whom he knows had nothing to do with it.
You know what is enough? The surrender of the guy Sisko does not like. Would Sisko have surrendered to stop that guy's war campagin? No. It's only because the guy Sisko doesn't like is fundamentally more moral than Sisko** that the matter ends.
But forget about who is more moral for a moment, they've both done horrible things at this point. The guy Sisko doesn't like is doing it for complex reasons that relate to the attempted genocide of a native people on the boarder of two empires after one empire gives the native's land to the other empire. It's a moral quagmire that would probably take an entire book or series of books to unravel. What he does is definitely wrong, but his motivations are more complex.
What Sisko does is equally wrong, but his motivations are simple. He is emphatically not doing it to stop the other side from using biological weapons. The other side offered that, he turned them down. He is expressly doing it to catch a single person he doesn't like. The other guy actually feels pity for Sisko because Sisko has sunk so very low, and seems to feel sorry that he is the cause of this sinking.
Sisko claims to be doing it because the other guy disgraced the uniform, but the other guy never did nearly so much as Sisko intends to and Sisko is technically committing treason this entire time. (The higher ups are not completely useless and have called the morally fucked Sisko off of the case that he's morally fucked on, plus Sisko's ship is damaged.) So, basically, Sisko has said, "Fuck Starfleet, I'm stealing this ship to do my own thing," that's ... not uncommon. Starfleet captains are known for ignoring orders. Sisko takes it a step further.
The people he attacks don't want to be Federation citizens. They didn't ask to be and all the Federation ever did for them was give their homes away to an empire that sees them as pests to be exterminated. But no matter how many times the Federation has stabbed them in the back, and no matter how many times they've stabbed or tried to stab back (back or front), they ARE Federation citizens.
Which means that when Sisko steals a warship (the Defiant may be the only prominent Star Trek Federation ship designed explicitly as a warship) to make unauthorized biological weapons attacks on these people he's going to war against Federation citizens. That's treason.
It's made clear through the episode that it's about Sisko taking things personally. Never more so than the end. Stopping biological attacks isn't enough. He doesn't give a shit about those. Catching the guy who pissed him off is all that matters.
Sisko knows that what he's doing is evil. He's actively trying to be evil. He's trying to play into the fact that the other guy sees himself as the hero and so has decided to cast himself as the villain. But it's not a bluff. The evil he does is real evil. Equal and opposite to what the other guy did. Except the other guy is willing to compromise. The other guy is willing to end things. Sisko isn't. The only thing that will stop Sisko is the surrender of someone who harbors him no ill will, but simply managed to piss him off.
In the final analysis none of this matters. The people that Sisko intended to drive from their homes (with the use of biological weapons) turning them into a giant refugee population with nowhere to go (when their problem was that they were already a giant refugee population and were in the only places that they could find to go) will eventually be genocided by the Cardassians Sisko is supporting in these scenes, so in the end they all get killed off regardless.
Sisko's aborted attempt to cause them a slow death by making them into homeless wanderers when they were already people who could barely find caves to live in wouldn't really have killed them any faster because their quick genocide was on the way whether anyone knew it or not. Thus Sisko gets two outs.
First, the other guy surrendered thus appeasing Sisko so the attempted slow genocide never happens. He may be ready, willing, and salivating at the prospect of committing genocide, much to the dismayed but not disobeying expressions of his crew, but he never gets the chance. The other guy folds too soon and Sisko never gets to put as much evil in the pot as would be necessary to kill all those people.
Instead his treason streak doesn't make enough worlds uninhabitable to cause the deaths of all those thereon. Populations can be moved and innocents may have to drop everything and leave their homes, which will doubtless cause lots of pain, suffering, and likely death, but things can be shuffled and no one has to die the slow death of a planet-less wanderer lacking the resources necessary to survive such a life and seen as a thing to be exterminated by both empires they find themselves caught between.
That's out one. The people he made homeless have enough space to resettle because he stopped before he made too many planets' populations homeless for resettlement to be possible.
Out number two is that they're all going to die soon anyway, so how much does a little forced relocation matter when they'll all have their heads on the chopping block soon and a population of hundreds of thousands will be reduced to a couple dozen (maybe less) of which none were probably involved in the forced relocation?
But all this is somewhat missing the point.
Sisko is, allegedly, the most badass captain because he's willing to steal a warship to launch a biological attack on innocent civilians (of his own people) and intends to keep on doing it until he can get the one man he has a personal vendetta against to surrender.
When did badass come to equal evil?
Seriously. I get that it has "bad" in the name, but evil? Evil? Sisko is the most badass because at his moral low point he embraced evil on a planetary scale (with plans for more planets to be involved) as a means to satisfy his own personal hurt feelings?
It seems I don't know the meaning of words anymore.
* Seriously anything less than bold, italic, and underlined isn't a quote so much as a laconic impression.
** And remember, the guy Sisko does not like is the one who struck first with biological weapons. This is a very low bar to meet and yet Sisko still manages to limbo under rather than rise above.