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Second Skin

Production no.: 451
Written by: Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: Les Landau
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: October 22, 1994
Andrew Robinson ........
Gregory Sierra .............
Tony Papenfuss ...........
Cindy Katz ..................
Lawrence Pressman ....
Christopher Carroll .......
Freyda Thomas ............
Billy Burke ..................
Gul Benil

Dax is waiting in the replimat for Kira, who is late meeting her for their appointment in a holosuite, to go antigrav sailing. As Dax is talking to Quark about it, Kira shows up. She admits that she thinks holosuites are a complete waste of time, but says she's "kind of" looking forward to this activity, except for the crashing part. They are about to head off for the holosuite when Kira is alerted to the fact that she has an incoming communication from the Bajoran Central Archives.

It's a woman named Alenis Grem, who says she's doing a study on the Elemspur Detention Center, and was hoping to ask her a few questions. Kira is puzzled; she was never at Elemspur. But Alenis says the Cardassian records indicate that a Kira Nerys was held there for seven days. Kira says that she would remember if she had been there; then Alenis produces an image that is definitely Kira in her younger days. As Kira stares at the mug shot, an alien woman watches from nearby on the Promenade.

Everything seems to check out. "If your memory and these prison records don't agree, then one of them must be wrong," Odo tells Kira, who says her memory is fine. She knows exactly where she was that week, even though it's been ten years: she spent that winter in hiding with her resistance cell in the Dahkur hills. The records have to be a fake. Odo notes that according to them, she shared a cell with three other inmates; perhaps one of them can help.

After looking up the names, Kira speaks to one of them, a man named Yeln, who says he remembers her, even though she has never met him before in her life. "When the Cardassians dragged you out of our cell, I gave you up for dead. Glad to see I was wrong."

There's no way to clear this up except to go to Bajor to investigate. Yeln may have been lying, Kira admits to Sisko as she's about to leave, but she has to find out the truth. When she boards her ship, the alien woman follows her.

Bashir joins Garak for lunch again. The doctor has recently returned from Klaestron IV, and Garak says he envies him the chance to travel. Bashir asks what's stopping him. "Space is dangerous, Doctor. You never know what might happen." "Are you saying the Cardassian government would have you killed if you left this station?" Bashir asks. Garak smiles. "My dear Doctor, you do have a vivid imagination."

Sisko gets a call from Alenis Grem. Kira was supposed to have met with her, but she never arrived. Alenis tried to contact her to reschedule, but couldn't find her. "As far as I can tell, no one's seen her since she left the spaceport for Elemspur." Meanwhile, in a bedroom on Cardassia, Kira is awakened by the alien woman, on the orders of a Cardassian man named Entek. As she is getting her bearings, she catches sight of herself in a mirror. Her face has changed -- she now has Cardassian features.

"We've brought you back home, to Cardassia," Entek says. Kira backs away in horror. Entek soothingly says that they have no intention of hurting her. "Why should we? You're one of us." "This is absurd!" Kira says angrily. "You can mutilate me, change my appearance, but you are never going to convince me I'm a Cardassian." Entek says he can understand. The practice of altering the memories of long-term operatives does ensure their safety from discovery, but it makes it difficult to reintegrate the operatives into Cardassian society. He fully expects her not to believe this, at least not until the medication they've given her works to unblock her original memories.

She is Iliana Ghemor, he tells her, a field operative of the Obsidian Order. She volunteered ten years ago for an undercover assignment on Bajor, and was given the appearance and memories of a Bajoran terrorist that the Order had kidnapped for that purpose. Now, though, she is home, in the house where she was born. Kira says her home is in Dahkur Province on Bajor. But Entek puts down a datarod, saying it contains a personal statement she recorded before she was sent to Bajor. He leaves, and Kira picks up a picture. The woman in it looks very much like she does now.

Sisko, Odo, and Dax meet in the wardroom to discuss what is known so far of Kira's abduction. A witness saw her on the road leading to Elemspur, and a residual electrostatic charge was detected there, possibly a transporter trace. But Dax tells him that the charge could also have been left by a disruptor or a phaser set to kill. "I know," says Sisko.

As Kira finds that the windows have forcefields, Entek brings in someone who wants to see her. It's an older Cardassian man, who is grumpy at first about it having taken so long, but whose manner softens on seeing her. "It really is you," he breathes, though Entek cautions him that her memory hasn't returned yet. "Am I supposed to know you?" Kira asks. Entek introduces the man as Legate Tekeny Ghemor, her father. "My father died on Bajor, fighting Cardassians," Kira maintains. Ghemor asks to be left alone with her, and Entek goes out. "I've missed you, Iliana," Ghemor says, and seems genuinely hurt by her rejection. But he backs off to let her rest.

On DS9, Garak intercepts Bashir as he is closing the infirmary, and tells him he has some important news about Major Kira. Kira, meanwhile, is systematically searching Ghemor's house for surveillance devices. Ghemor comes in and assures her the device is not on. Since he is a member of Central Command, it is only activated at his request. He has brought her some breakfast, and watches as she looks at a bone carving which Iliana made for him. "Your daughter was talented," acknowledges Kira. Ghemor tells her she should have been an artist, but she was determined to join the Order. "Personally, I think Cardassia could use a few more artists." He then mentions her mother, and is disappointed when Kira says her mother was an icon painter who died of malnutrition when she was three; Ghemor says she was an inquisitor at the central university. "This is my fault," he says sadly. "I never should have let you go on that mission. I could have prevented it. A well-placed word here, a favor from a friend there. You never would have known. But you were so determined to go, so proud that you'd been chosen, that I didn't have the heart to stop you. Your mother never forgave me."

Kira looks at him for a long moment. "You're good," she finally says. "Really good. The house, the food, the stories. It's all very convincing. But I don't believe a word of it." But Ghemor's pain seems sincere as he tells her, "Iliana, I just want you to know, I'm sorry."

Garak is questioned in the security office by Sisko and Odo, and he's none too happy. He tells them there's nothing they can do; if Kira is being held by the Obsidian Order, retrieving her is impossible. "Impossible for us, maybe" Odo says, "but not for you." "I'm afraid you overestimate my abilities," Garak says. "I hope not," Sisko retorts. "Because I intend to put those abilities to the test. The three of us are going to Cardassia." Garak is incredulous. "Commander, if I were allowed on Cardassia, do you really think I'd be living here?" But Sisko mentions that certain ministers in the Bajoran government want him off the station; Odo adds that rescuing Kira will help improve Garak's standing there. When Garak asks why he should care what the Bajoran government thinks of him, Sisko says, "It seems to me if someone were in trouble with the Cardassian Central Command, a Bajoran space station under Federation control might just be the safest place in the galaxy." Garak is trapped.

With that settled, Sisko tells him that the Defiant's shield harmonics have been reconfigured to make the ship appear to be a Kobheerian freighter on long-range sensors. "I'll go along on your fool's errand," Garak says at last. "But I want one thing to be perfectly clear. I have no intention of sacrificing my life to save yours. If it looks like we're in danger of being captured, if there's any sign of trouble at all, you're on your own." "Mr. Garak," Sisko says, "I believe that's the first completely honest thing you've ever said to me." "How perceptive of you, Commander," Garak replies.

"Iliana" still doesn't remember anything, Ghemor tells Entek, who says the medication should have worked by now. He wants to ask her some questions, and Ghemor is clearly worried about this. The Legate finally goes to another room, remarking pointedly that he'll be nearby to remind Entek not to harm her.

After some time, Kira is still being questioned by Entek, and calmly lying through her teeth, until he finally tries another tack. He doesn't want to hurt her, he says, and calls off for something which he says will convince her to take his words seriously. "Did you know that the Obsidian Order saves everything that comes into its possession? You never know what might prove useful." A stretcher is beamed in, with a body on it covered by a sheet. Entek pulls the sheet back, and Kira looks at herself, dead, with her familiar Bajoran features, looking like she did ten years ago.

"It's a fake," she insists. "A clone, a hologram. For all I know, this whole place is a holosuite." Then Entek tells her about the time she was in the Bestri Woods and accidentally killed a mother hara cat. Kira never told that story to anyone. "I know about it because we placed that story in your memories, Iliana. Just like we gave you every other memory you have. What we couldn't extract from the real Kira, we got from other prisoners, or just invented ourselves." Kira stares at him, a hint of doubt finally beginning to creep into her mind. Entek goes on to point out that she must know that everything he's said the Order has done is perfectly within their capabilities; and that if she's not Iliana, why would he be doing this? "Believe me, if I wanted to extract the information from you, I'd have it already. I don't want to do that. I care about you. You were one of my best students. Watch the recording. Think about what I've said. Because the Order won't wait much longer."

A little later, Kira manages to override the forcefield generator in the window, but Ghemor catches her, informing her that she tripped a silent alarm. In an almost pleading voice, he tells her she'd never get off Cardassia. "In the end, you'll only make things worse for yourself. I can only do so much to help you." "If you want to help me," Kira says, "get me off this planet. I will never cooperate with the Order. Eventually, they're going to realize that. They will interrogate me, and I won't survive."

"I promise you that will never happen," Ghemor says. "I'll never allow the Order to harm you. No matter what you decide, I won't let them hurt you. I only ask one thing. Before you make your decision, I beg you, watch the recording Entek gave you. It's the only way you'll ever really know the truth." He leaves, knowing he might never see her again, and Kira is torn. Finally, she plays the recording. It's Iliana, who says she is going in for surgery tomorrow. "I'm going to miss Cardassia. But I know what I'm doing is right. The terrorism on Bajor has to be stopped. Father doesn't want me to go. Mother just looks unhappy all the time. I hope someday they understand. I want them to be proud of me."

The Defiant is en route, with Sisko dressed in civilian clothing. Odo brings Garak to the bridge after catching him someplace where he shouldn't have been. At that moment, two Galor-class warships are detected, heading their way. The ships hail the Defiant, and Sisko uses the communications holofilter to pose as a Kobheerian captain. He claims to be carrying a shipment of Kobheerian toranium to Cardassia. The gul wants to board the ship, as Maquis activity in this sector is on the rise, and all incoming ships are to be stopped and searched.

Garak suddenly steps forward and tells Dax to drop the holofilter. "I can get us out of this, if you let me talk to them." Sisko okays it. Garak proceeds to bluff, claiming this is a priority mission and giving a clearance verification code. "By the authority of the Central Command, you are ordered to turn your ships around. Erase all records of this encounter from your logs and talk of it to no one. Is that clear?" The gul retreats, flustered. "Mr. Garak, I'm impressed," Sisko tells him. Garak passes it off. "Just something I overheard while I was hemming someone's trousers."

Kira is undergoing another session with Entek, and it's taking its toll. She is on the breaking point as Entek fires question after question at her. Finally Ghemor comes in and sternly tells Entek that it's over. He invokes his authority as a member of Central Command, and Entek reluctantly backs off. "Iliana, I'm afraid the next time we talk, it will have to be at the Order's facilities."

Ghemor asks if she's all right. Without a word, Kira goes over to the mirror, staring at her Cardassian face, and for the first time wondering if Entek and Ghemor might be telling the truth about who she is. She touches the mirror, then pounds it with her fist, breaking it. Ghemor catches her as she falls to her knees, weeping in despair. She doesn't have the energy to push Ghemor away as he holds and comforts her. "I'm a selfish old man," he says. "I can't keep you here any more, no matter how much I want to. Entek will never rest until he's broken you. If he takes you to Order Headquarters -- we must get you away from Cardassia." She asks why he would do that for her. "You're my daughter, Iliana," Ghemor says tenderly. "There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. Even -- even if it means losing you again."

Later, Ghemor brings her a present, a bracelet that belonged to Iliana's mother. "I want you to have it, to remember her by," he says, insisting that she take it. Then a young Cardassian enters, and Ghemor introduces him as Ari, who is here to help her get off Cardassia. "I have friends who can arrange things," Ghemor adds. "Friends who think the same way I do." "The Obsidian Order and the Central Command have been given too much power over our lives. We're going to change that," Ari adds fervently, and Kira realizes with a shock that they are dissidents. "Goodbye, Iliana," Ghemor says sadly. "I love you."

But something about this is bothering Kira. "Wait -- this is wrong...No, don't you see? The fact that you're a dissident, that you're willing to help me -- no, that can't be a coincidence." Why, she wonders, did Entek go to all this trouble? "It's not me he's after," she realizes. "What if the Order suspects your involvement with the dissidents?"

Ghemor says it's impossible; they couldn't have any evidence of his activities. "But they could still suspect you," Kira says. "And without any evidence, they wouldn't dare interrogate you, would they?...Which is why they had to make you betray yourself. Which is why they kidnapped me. Because I resemble your daughter, and they knew you would never stand by and watch me be tortured. They wanted you to do this. They wanted you to try and rescue me." "Very astute, Major," says Entek, coming in at that moment with an armed team. "You couldn't have done any better if you were one of us."

Ghemor tries beaming away with Ari and Kira, but Entek informs him there's a transporter suppression field over the area. Ari charges, and is killed for his trouble. "You don't know how long I've waited for this day," Entek smiles. "Imagine, in one bold stroke, the Obsidian Order will unmask a traitor in the Central Command and shatter the entire dissident movement. And we have you to thank for it." He goes on to say happily that now they will be able to purge the government of all disloyalty. As one of the others prepares to torture Ghemor, Kira makes a move, but is stopped by a phaser in her back. "Major, your testimony would make for a more dramatic trial, but I'd be willing to dispense with it if you give us any trouble," Entek threatens.

"The Major is the least of your problems, Entek," Garak calls out as he enters the room with Sisko. Sisko tosses down a satchel which morphs into Odo, who disarms Entek. The other soldiers surrender, and Kira gets their weapons. Entek almost seems more surprised to see Garak than he is by anything else. "Garak, what are you doing here?" "I got homesick," says Garak.

"Don't worry, he's on our side...I think," Kira tells Ghemor. Garak looks at her. "Major, I don't think I've ever seen you looking so ravishing." He says he still has some friends on Cardassia, and tells Entek, "You will, no doubt, derive years of enjoyment trying to determine exactly who they are." As Sisko and Ghemor leave, Entek asks Garak why he's helping these people. "Up until now, the Order was satisfied to let you live in exile, but now -- " Garak says he'd almost forgotten what a pleasure it was to be with other Cardassians. "Though I'd like to stay and listen to you bluster, I simply don't have the time." He turns; Entek draws a phaser; Garak turns back and vaporizes him. "A pity. I rather liked him."

Sometime later, Kira, whose Bajoran features have been restored, walks down a docking ring corridor with Ghemor. She tells him that according to Bashir, her genetic structure is entirely Bajoran. Yeln has disappeared, and is now thought to be a Cardassian agent, who probably altered the detention center records. Kira wonders why Entek didn't simply bring back Iliana; Ghemor says it's because Iliana's memories would have returned, and she would have cooperated with Entek. "But they knew that you'd resist, and that I'd be forced to try to get you off of Cardassia." He has to believe Iliana is still alive, and that someday he will find her. For now, the Mathenite government has offered him sanctuary, and he is going there.

Ghemor has a bit of "fatherly advice" for Kira. "That Garak fellow who helped you, who helped us -- don't trust him, Nerys. Ever. He's a dangerous man, and he'd betray you and all of your friends in an instant if he thought it would help him." Kira says she'll keep an eye on him. She returns his wife's bracelet to him. "It doesn't belong to me. I can't keep it." But Ghemor places it back in her hand. "No. I want you to have it. You may not be my daughter, but until I find Iliana, you're the closest thing I have to family."

Kira is touched. "I want you to know something. In spite of whatever I might have said, I realize now you're an honorable man. And I think your daughter must have loved you very much." After a long parting look, Ghemor climbs the stairs into the airlock, leaving Kira holding the bracelet tightly in her hand.

  • Robert Hewitt Wolfe's original idea involved O'Brien learning that he was actually a surgically-altered Cardassian with implanted memories, but the longterm complications this would cause for that character led to it becoming Kira instead, though it was decided to let her turn out to be purely Bajoran in the end.
  • Stock footage of actor Norman Large as the Kobheerian captain in "Duet" was used for the scene in which Sisko poses as a Kobheerian.
  • The producers considered making Entek a recurring character, but decided to kill him off instead.