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Production no.: 425
Teleplay by: James Crocker
Story by: Gene Wolande & John Wright
Directed by: Cliff Bole
Stardate: 47177.2 
First satellite airdate: October 23, 1993
Rosalind Chao .........
Andrew Robinson ....
Robert Mandan .......
Terrence Evans .......
Vidal Peterson .........
Dion Anderson ........
Marc Alaimo ...........
Sharon Conley .........
Karen Hensel ..........
Jillian Ziesmer .........
Jomat Luson

In what has become a weekly ritual, Bashir joins the urbane yet mysterious Cardassian tailor, Garak, for lunch. These lunches are more than meals; they are a source of education for Bashir, and amusement for Garak. As they are engaging in their usual double-edged give-and-take, Garak's attention is caught by an unusual sight -- a middle-aged Bajoran man sitting down in the replimat with a 12-year-old Cardassian boy, after being greeted by an alien businessman. Garak watches curiously, then goes over to them, saying pleasantly to the Bajoran that he couldn't help noticing what a handsome young man he has. He places a friendly hand on the boy's shoulder, only to let out a yell of pain when the boy grabs his hand and bites it hard. Bashir rushes over and separates them; the boy turns to the Bajoran man and hugs him for protection.

Bashir reports the odd incident to the other officers in Ops. "Another unsatisfied customer?" Dax asks. "He always cuts the pants too long," jokes O'Brien. Bashir clarifies that it was a Cardassian boy who just arrived with a Bajoran man, who says he's the boy's father. Kira tells him the boy is probably one of the orphans left behind by the Cardassians when they pulled out. "We had no choice but to take care of them." She then tells Sisko there's a call coming in on subspace from Gul Dukat.

Dukat knows about what happened, which surprises Sisko, since he himself has only just heard about it. "Exactly as I feared," Dukat intones. The abandoned Cardassian orphans are obviously being raised to hate their own kind. Sisko says Dukat is assuming a lot from one incident, and Dukat asks why else would the boy assault "poor Garak"? Sisko offers to find out; Dukat says that would be appreciated. He wants to learn more, so he can use the story to help bring the orphans home.

Sisko and Bashir visit the Bajoran, whose name is Proka, and who says he didn't come here to cause trouble. He and his wife adopted Rugal, the boy, because they felt he shouldn't suffer for crimes committed by others. As for Garak, he should have minded his own business. Sisko mentions that the Cardassians are suggesting that these orphans are being raised to hate their own people; Proka says that he and his wife have told Rugal the truth about what Cardassia did to Bajor. "He needed to know. And for that, I make no apologies. To us, he isn't even one of them anymore. He isn't Cardassian, he's Bajoran. And we love him, just as if he was our own flesh and blood."

In Quark's, Bashir finds Zolan, the alien businessman who greeted Proka and Rugal in the replimat. "He's a strange boy, Rugal," says Zolan, who adds that he is helping Proka find a new job, and has visited the family on Bajor several times. "It must be torture for that boy, living like that, hated by people he thinks of as his parents -- told day after day he's worthless Cardassian scum, beaten if he even looks the wrong way. Rugal is their revenge -- their revenge against all Cardassians."

But Proka hotly and incredulously denies the charge when asked about it by Sisko and Bashir. Sisko thinks it'll be best if Rugal stays with Mrs. O'Brien for now. Reluctantly, Proka brings Rugal out. "I didn't do anything wrong," the boy says, obviously upset. Sisko tells him he's not being accused of anything, and he's sure this will be straightened out in a day or two. Proka gently tells Rugal to go on, and the boy unwillingly accompanies Bashir and Sisko out of the room.

Bashir mentions to Garak in the infirmary later that this incident might help Dukat in his efforts to resolve the war orphan predicament. "Apparently he was quite concerned with your well-being. You never mentioned you were friends." Garak laughs as if this is the funniest thing he's ever heard. "Tell me, Doctor, is there a single trait you would ascribe to me and my fellow Cardassians? Would it not be our attention to detail? Do you think we simply forgot about those poor little orphans when we left Bajor? Do you think they simply slipped from our minds? And who, would you guess, was in charge of the Cardassian withdrawal from Bajor?"

Speaking with Dukat on subspace, Sisko asks him to find out if the boy has any living relatives, and Dukat agrees. Sisko says he will send a DNA sample. Just then, Bashir, who has entered and been listening, speaks up. He asks Dukat if it was true that he was in charge of the evacuation; Dukat confirms this. Bashir asks why he chose to leave the orphans behind. Dukat says he didn't; he was ordered to by the civilian leaders of his government. But Bashir understands that the Cardassian civilian leaders have no direct authority over military officers. Dukat asks who's been tutoring him in Cardassian social studies, and Bashir says Dukat's old friend Garak. "Well, then perhaps you should remind my old friend Garak, the withdrawal of Bajor was a decision made by the civilian leaders, one which I clearly opposed." Dukat also claims that the civilian leaders were the ones who chose to leave the orphans behind. He thanks Bashir for his concern and signs off.

"He's lying," Bashir tells Sisko, who asks him if he has evidence to back this up. Bashir says he has Garak, who thinks there's more going on here than they realize. Sisko reproves him for interrupting his conversation with Dukat, and Bashir says he's sorry. "Don't apologize," says Sisko. "It's been the high point of my day. Don't do it again." He tells Bashir to have Garak in his office at 2100 hours.

O'Brien arrives home to see Rugal on his couch with a PADD as Keiko sets the table for dinner. The Chief is dubious on hearing that Rugal has been playing with Molly, but Keiko says Rugal is really quite gentle. "'Gentle' was bred out of these Cardassians a long time ago," says O'Brien, who can't help but be a little prejudiced, having fought against them years ago. Keiko glares at him. "You know, that was a very ugly thing you just said." But O'Brien does have one thing in common with Rugal: neither one of them wants to eat the zabu meat stew, a dish that Keiko has prepared in the mistaken belief that Rugal might enjoy a dish from his homeland.

Later that night, O'Brien works at his computer while everyone else is asleep -- everyone except Rugal, who comes back out into the living room. Trying to get past his prejudice, O'Brien talks to the boy, who asks, "What are they going to do with me?" O'Brien says frankly that he's not sure, but Rugal might have something to say about it. Rugal says he wants to go home; O'Brien is surprised to learn that to Rugal, home means Bajor. He probes further: when he says there's nothing wrong with being a Cardassian, it's plain that Rugal thinks there is. "It's the truth. Everybody knows it." His parents hate Cardassians -- but not him, he insists with conviction. "My parents have never done anything wrong to me." It's Rugal's turn to ask a question: "What do you think of Cardassians?" Taken aback, O'Brien hedges a bit, and says you can't judge a whole race of people. He's met Cardassians he didn't like, and some he did. "Like you," he adds.

"Do you know how many Bajorans the Cardassians murdered during the Occupation?" Rugal asks, without emotion. "Over ten million. We had a test on it in school. I wish I wasn't Cardassian."

Bashir wakes up late at night and is startled to find Garak sitting on his bed and telling him to get dressed. They're going to Bajor. Bashir in turn wakes Sisko, and tells him he needs to use a runabout; Garak wants to go to Bajor, but he doesn't know why. "Will one runabout be enough?" Sisko asks sarcastically. Then a communication comes in for Sisko from Gul Dukat, who says that thanks to the DNA Sisko sent, they have found Rugal's father: a prominent politician named Kotan Pa'Dar.

Pa'Dar was the exarch of a Cardassian settlement on Bajor, and Rugal had been believed killed in a Bajoran terrorist attack. Pa'Dar has already been told that his son is alive, and is on his way to DS9 to bring him home. Sisko tells him it's not that simple: the boy wants to return to Bajor. There hasn't been any evidence to support the allegation of abuse, and the man who made that allegation has disappeared. Dukat says that surely the boy will change his mind when he finds out his real father is alive.

After Sisko ends the transmission, Bashir comments that this can't be a coincidence. Garak must have heard about Pa'Dar before waking him up. He wonders what Garak could be looking for on Bajor, and Sisko says there's only one way to find out.

Bashir and Garak enter the Tozhat Resettlement Center on Bajor, an orphanage, and Bashir tells the supervisor there, a woman named Deela, that he is looking for information on a Cardassian orphan who was placed for adoption here. Deela doesn't recognize the names Rugal or Proka, and says they'll never be able to find records from back then. Garak says that Cardassians are very meticulous record keepers; surely computer entries were made on a regular basis. Deela wouldn't know, since she wasn't here -- she was in the underground at the time. Garak smiles. "Really! Perhaps we have met!" The computers don't work, but Garak offers his services. Bashir hadn't known Garak knew how to fix computers; the tailor brushes it off as "a hobby of mine"

A little later, as they are hunched over a terminal, a few children, including a Cardassian boy and girl, emerge from behind them and watch. Garak gets the computer working, and finds the correct file, but neither Rugal's nor Pa'Dar's names are in it. However, Garak accesses the files of the entire province and downloads them onto a clip. Then the two men turn and are confronted with the sight of the Cardassian children gazing at them. The girl, Asha, hopefully asks Garak if he's come to take them back to Cardassia, and Garak says he's afraid not. He leaves, and Bashir wrenches himself away to follow. Forlornly, Asha watches them go.

On the way home in the runabout, Bashir has had enough, and shuts down the engines. Garak tells him he's sorry if Bashir is upset about the orphans, but children without parents have no status in Cardassian society. "The situation is most unfortunate, but I don't make the rules." "But you do play the game, don't you, Garak?" Bashir retorts. "And there is a game being played right now, as we speak, isn't there?" "There are always games, Doctor," Garak says calmly. Not satisfied by this, Bashir demands to know what's going on, or they'll sit here until they rot.

After giving him a long, measuring look, Garak mentions that it's interesting that one of Cardassia's most noted civilian leaders has entered this picture. Bashir realizes that Pa'Dar was involved in the decision to evacuate Bajor, which made him a political enemy of Gul Dukat, who lost his job as Prefect as a result. Now Dukat takes an interest in this orphan, who turns out to be Pa'Dar's son. "I believe in coincidences," Garak says. "Coincidences happen every day. But I don't trust coincidences."

Pa'Dar has arrived on DS9, and goes to the O'Briens' quarters. O'Brien wants to talk to him first, before Keiko gets back with Rugal. He tells Pa'Dar that the boy hates everything he is, and Pa'Dar isn't surprised, but he's not pleased to hear that Rugal might not want to go with him. As a father, O'Brien can imagine how he feels. On Cardassia, Pa'Dar says, family is everything. And he has failed in his responsibility. "To abandon my son. To allow him to be raised by a Bajoran. I have disgraced everything that a Cardassian believes in." At that moment Keiko enters with Rugal, and father and son come face to face.

Rugal makes it clear that he does not want to know this man. Pa'Dar pleads with him to understand that he had thought Rugal was dead. "It was your own fault," Rugal says. "...You are a Cardassian butcher! A butcher! They killed your son for your crimes." He declares he will never go back to Cardassia, and stalks off to the bedroom.

Later, Pa'Dar stands with Proka in Sisko's office. It's clear that an arbitrator is needed, and though they don't agree on anything else, both Pa'Dar and Proka believe that Sisko is a good choice. Odo calls to tell Sisko that Gul Dukat has just arrived.

The informal custody hearing begins, and Dukat is there, saying that he's representing the children. His past disagreements with Pa'Dar are irrelevant. Sisko asks Pa'Dar to go over the events leading to Rugal's disappearance. Meanwhile, Bashir and Garak are searching the files they downloaded, until Garak realizes the file they want must have been purged. He then searches for and finds the name of the person who wrote the file: Jomat Luson. They contact her, and she remembers Rugal, the only Cardassian boy they had at the center at the time. Unusually enough, she was told his name by the Cardassian military officer who brought him in, a woman who was attached to the command post at Terok Nor.

Bashir and Garak enter the hearing, armed now with everything they need. With Sisko's permission, Bashir takes over the questioning. He asks Pa'Dar if the news of his son's discovery has been made public yet, and the answer is no. It will be the end of his political career, Pa'Dar says. A shame, Bashir remarks, considering the timing: an inquiry is about to begin on the Cardassians who supported the recent coup on Bajor. Dukat is a key witness in that inquiry.

Dukat suggests that they get back to the issue of the children, and Bashir agrees. He tells what he's learned from Jomat Luson, and says the question is whether Rugal was left at the orphanage in the knowledge that he was not an orphan, perhaps with the hope of someday humiliating Pa'Dar. The officer who brought Rugal in was attached to Terok Nor, which Dukat confirms was the name of this station at the time. Bashir asks who was the commander of Terok Nor at the time? Wordlessly, Dukat leaves. Bashir tells the record that Dukat was the commander.

In his log afterwards, Sisko says that he has ruled to allow Pa'Dar to take Rugal back to Cardassia. "Although I am convinced his Bajoran foster parents treated him with love, Rugal has been the clear victim in this conspiracy. I believe it's time for his healing to begin."

Pa'Dar tells Sisko as he's about to leave that things are now at a stalemate between him and Dukat. Neither one wants these events made public now. And Pa'Dar won't forget that Sisko helped him salvage his career. Sisko suggest that he use his influence to help the other Cardassian orphans, and Pa'Dar gives a vague, "We'll see." Obviously the issue does not interest him. O'Brien then brings a sullen Rugal to the airlock. Rugal walks through without a word to his father. "I suppose it will take time," Pa'Dar says sadly, and follows.

At lunch again with Garak, Bashir wonders aloud what the truth is between Garak and Dukat. "Truth, Doctor," Garak says cryptically, "is in the eye of the beholder. I never tell the truth, because I don't believe there is such a thing. That's why I prefer the straight-line simplicity of cutting cloth." "So you're not going to tell me," Bashir guesses. Garak rises. "But you don't need me to tell you, Doctor. Just notice the details. They're scattered like crumbs all over this table we regularly share." And he leaves Bashir to puzzle it out for himself.

  • The line in which Sisko tells Bashir to have Garak in his office at a certain time was left in the finished version of the episode despite the fact that the scene in which Garak speaks to Sisko and Bashir in Sisko's office was cut.
  • In this episode, we learn for the first time that DS9 was called Terok Nor when it was under Cardassian rule.