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The Alternate


Production no.: 432
Teleplay by: Bill Dial
Story by: Jim Trombetta and Bill Dial
Directed by: David Carson
Stardate: 47391.7 
First satellite airdate: January 8, 1994
 
James Sloyan .......
Matt McKenzie ....
Dr. Mora Pol
Dr. Weld Ram


In his bar, Quark waxes eloquent as he praises a late, great Ferengi named Plegg who, he says, developed the modular holosuite industry. He happens to be holding a disc containing some of Plegg's desiccated remains, and his eulogy is also a sales pitch to another Ferengi who is listening. But Odo arrives at that moment, asking the price, and hearing it, the other Ferengi walks off. Odo, though, claims to want to acquire a piece of Plegg: he says humanoid death rituals are an interest of his. Quark listens skeptically, until Odo actually produces some latinum.

When Quark goes to give him a disc, though, Odo expresses a concern about authenticity. Then, he delivers his coup de grace: he has contacted Plegg, who is still alive and was rather amused to hear of Quark's little scheme. Quark protests that he bought the discs in good faith, and Odo promises an investigation.

They are interrupted by a Bajoran man who calls to Odo from across the room. Suddenly uncomfortable, Odo endures the man's appraisal of his form, and reluctantly explains to Quark that this is Dr. Mora, the scientist who studied him. Quark is delighted by the opportunity to taunt his nemesis: "So this is a family reunion! I had a hunch. Well, Odo's dad is always welcome in Quark's." Odo glares at him and steers Mora out of the bar.

Mora chides Odo for his rudeness. "Still having trouble with social integration." "I integrate as much as I want to," Odo growls, not pleased to be reunited with this man. Mora unthinkingly disparages Odo's choice of career, and asks if Odo misses their work together; Odo says, "Never." Mora doesn't believe it. "You were unhappy in the lab. I can't blame you for that. But the work, Odo, the work -- the exploration of you, what you are, where you came from -- that's never far from your mind, is it?" Odo is forced to admit that that much is true, and Mora says, "Good. Because I came here counting on that."

As Sisko is handling a parental disagreement with his son over his Klingon opera homework, Odo comes to the commander's quarters to ask for the use of a runabout. He tells Sisko that Dr. Mora wants to investigate something in the Gamma Quadrant. A Bajoran science probe recently scanned a planet there and found DNA patterns similar to Odo's. Mora may have found Odo's origins.

Dax pilots the runabout taking Odo, Mora, and another Bajoran scientist, Dr. Weld Ram, to the planet known as LS6. Mora dominates the conversation, reminiscing about Odo's early days in his typical patronizing manner, interrupting Odo and not noticing the way his former charge chafes at his remarks. They reach the planet, which has a lot of seismic activity on the surface, and beam down to where the DNA was found.

There, they find what looks like a ruined stone village, with one structure intact -- a pillar with some unknown lettering on the sides. It could contain the answers Odo has sought all his life, but he doesn't recognize the pillar or the writing. Dax suggests that they take it back to the station so that the computer can study it. Then Weld finds the apparent source of the DNA patterns: a silicate but vegetative lifeform that resembles a kind of moss. Odo looks at Weld's sample, then Dax beams up the pillar. Almost immediately, a quake hits, and as they look for shelter, gas starts pouring into the air from fissures in the ground. The three humanoids become incapacitated with coughing, leaving Odo to call for a beamout.

After Odo has gotten the others back to DS9 and the infirmary, Bashir examines them. Dax is the least bad off; the two Bajorans are in more serious condition. Odo seems to have taken no effect at all from the gas. Without apparent emotion, he asks if Mora will be all right; Bashir thinks the instability of the gas's molecules might indicate that the effect is temporary. Odo leaves, and Sisko follows. He recalls to Odo his feelings when his own father was bedridden with a critical illness, but Odo interrupts. "I appreciate your thoughts, Commander. But Dr. Mora is not my father."

Odo visits the science lab, where the pillar has been set up, and O'Brien is studying the lifeform sample. The computer is having a hard time analyzing it; it changes whenever it reproduces, and it reproduces like crazy. Already he has had to transfer it to a bigger container. Odo gazes at the pillar for a moment and leaves, after telling O'Brien it may be a key to his past.

Sisko is awakened that night by Kira, who calls him to the science lab. When he gets down there, he finds that the lab has been trashed. The lifeform sample's container is broken, and the sample is gone. The security seal was still in place. Sisko calls for yellow alert and a security scan of the station, while Odo asks Kira to review the camera records and sensor readouts. O'Brien picks up trace elements near a ventilation duct, as Dax enters, having snuck out of the infirmary. Sisko tells her the working theory is that the lifeform did this somehow. Dax delivers a message to Odo, that Mora is awake and wants to speak to him.

Mora is conscious but weak as Odo enters the infirmary. Odo tells him about the disappearance of the lifeform sample, and has to restrain Mora from getting out of bed to help in the hunt. Mora is intensely curious about the lifeform, though he says that he feels responsible for Dr. Weld's condition, as the other scientist has yet to wake up. He falls asleep with his hand on Odo's arm; Odo gently removes it and leaves the room.

O'Brien crawls through a conduit a little later, following the trace elements he found in the duct. Odo and Sisko tell him over the com line that the security cameras stopped operating for 43 seconds when the alarm sounded, probably due to a power failure. There was also a six-degree increase in temperature during that time period. O'Brien speculates that they're dealing with something that absorbs low-frequency RF energy, and feeds off their power, but Odo points out that an energy drain should be showing up on the scans. O'Brien begins hearing a noise he can't identify, and crawls on to investigate. He finds a structural breach, and then the lifeform sample itself, falling onto him from the hole. It's dead.

Fifteen hours later, with no more evidence of the alien lifeform having been found, and no further incidents, yellow alert has been canceled. Dax and Bashir come to the conclusion that the lifeform died because it couldn't survive out of its own environment. It's possible, though, that the impact might have taken time to set in, giving it time to have destroyed the lab. Bashir flirts a little with Dax before she leaves. Then he hears a noise in the other room, where the patients are. He goes to look around, and is attacked by a tentacle of something that has dropped down through an overhead vent. Mora wakes up and watches as Bashir frantically fires a laser scalpel at the creature, which disappears back up the vent.

Mora is up and dressed when Odo and Sisko speak with Bashir as the investigation goes on around them. It all happened too quickly for Bashir to be able to describe much, but he does note, at Odo's prompting, that it was a bit warm. Dax reports that she's found a slight organic trail; she will test the residue. Sisko has Kira restrict nonessential personnel to quarters, and Odo suggests closing down the Promenade.

It is the first time Mora has seen Odo at work, and he can't help but be impressed. He follows Odo to the science lab, trying to find a way to express his feelings by likening police investigation to the scientific method. "You do it very well. I'm very proud of you, Odo. Do you know that?"

In the lab, Dax tells Odo that the computer is having trouble breaking down the DNA chains of the organic residue, and also hasn't had any success decoding the writing on the pillar. Odo leaves to shut down the Promenade, and Mora suggests looking for commonalities between the residue and the lifeform from the planet. As Dax sets things up, Mora talks to her a little about his relationship with Odo. He has missed him, though they did not part on good terms: Mora hadn't wanted him to leave, with so much work still to do. But now he sees the progress Odo has made. "I never thought he could do it. Integrate successfully. If you could have seen him before -- he was so ill-prepared to be on his own. I was sure he'd come back. I told him when he left he'd come back. And all these years I was so certain that eventually one day he'd show up at the lab. Well," he adds sadly, "I guess I'd better get used to the idea he's not going to."

They look at the computer's analysis of the two samples, side by side, and Mora notes that the nucleotide sequences are different. They are distant cousins at best. When the computer breaks down the DNA chain on the newer sample, Mora gives a slight start of recognition, which is unseen by Dax. She tells him it will take two or three hours to check for matches in the computer.

Mora leaves and goes to the security office, where Odo notices that he seems preoccupied, and Mora realizes for the first time how skilled Odo is at reading people. "You are truly a remarkable life form, Odo. But there's so much about you we still don't understand." Odo asks what he's getting at, and Mora tells him about the DNA chain. He has seen it before. "The organic sample -- it's from you, Odo."

Odo is stunned as Mora makes his case. The attacks in the lab and the infirmary were roughly 16 hours apart, which is Odo's rejuvenation period. Odo says he was in his pail during both events. But Mora tells him, "I think, Odo, that you have been placed in the ironic position of having to track down yourself." He asks if this has happened before, and Odo vehemently denies the possibility; he doesn't commit criminal acts.

It occurs to Odo that the gas on the planet may be responsible. He starts to leave in hopes that Bashir can fix this, but Mora gets in his way, saying that Bashir will only understand that Odo turned into a creature that tried to kill him. No one will understand, Mora argues. They will confine Odo on an asteroid or put him in a zoo. At the mention of that word, Odo flinches. Seeing a chance to get Odo back, Mora drives home his point. "What other humanoid have you been able to trust except me?" "What makes you think I trust you?" Odo snarls back. Mora resents this. "After all the time I invested in you -- after the education I gave you, the attention I gave you -- you would not be here today if it weren't for my guidance! I gave you more than anyone else in my life. You were my life! And then you walked away. And now, you don't trust me. Fine. Put yourself in their hands. You always had to learn your lesson the hard way, didn't you?"

Odo, now looking a little moist around the edges, is determined not to go back to the lab. Mora pleads with him, saying they can solve this together, working together as they used to. "No!!!" shouts Odo, slamming his hands down onto his desk. Absorbing energy from the computer console, he begins to shapeshift uncontrollably. Mora backs out of the office.

In Ops, O'Brien notes a power failure in Security, and Kira orders deputies there. O'Brien tracks the power drain to a life support conduit above the office, and shuts off the primary flow to the entire core section. A deputy calls to say that no one is in the office. "No sign of Odo?" Kira asks. "I can help you with that, Major," Mora says as he enters Ops. "The creature you're after is Odo." He believes it's a metamorphic reaction to the gas. The "creature" is separate and independent from Odo, yet it seems aware of Mora, who thinks the lab incident was an attempt to rescue the lifeform sample he placed in containment. He was sleeping in the infirmary during the attack there, and just now he and Odo were having a heated discussion in Security. The creature's intentions seem definitely hostile toward him.

Sisko has O'Brien set up a forcefield to trap the creature on the Promenade, where there is room to operate. They will lure it out of the conduits by using RF energy bursts. Mora volunteers to act as the final bait.

The scene is set, and O'Brien tracks the creature, which is following the energy bursts. Sisko tells Kira that phasers will be on maximum stun, and he will fire as soon as Mora appears to be in danger. If that setting doesn't work, they will have to set phasers to kill. Everyone but Mora hides; Mora stands in the middle of the Promenade alone. The creature drops down from a vent behind him and looms over his former mentor, banging against the forcefield in an attempt to get at him. Mora stares at it, full of remorse. "I've done it to you again, haven't I, Odo? Made you a prisoner. Dear God, what have I done?"

When the creature weakens, Sisko orders the forcefield dropped, and suddenly Odo is himself again, collapsing in exhaustion. Mora kneels beside him. "We have a lot to talk about."

Odo recovers in the infirmary, where Bashir tells him that although he has no idea exactly what happened to him, he has managed to remove all traces of the gas, with Mora's help. There's not much else he can do other than prescribe rest. Bashir leaves Odo alone with Mora, who says he's going home. Odo speaks haltingly. "Dr. Mora -- I want to be sure you understand. I had no idea."

"You had to speak in a voice loud enough for me to hear," Mora tells him. Odo still regrets what occurred. Mora says, hesitantly, that he would like to be part of Odo's life again, and offers to just talk to him now and then. "I'd like that," Odo says simply. And as Mora pats his hand, Odo covers Mora's with his own.


  • Originally, Rene Auberjonois was going to play both Odo and Mora in this episode, but given the number of scenes the characters had together, the time and energy involved in switching the actor between two different makeups and costumes made this impossible.