Children of Time
Production no.: 520
Teleplay by: René Echevarria
Story by: Gary Holland and Ethan H. Calk
Directed by: Allan Kroeker
First satellite airdate: May 3, 1997
Gary Frank .....................
Jennifer S. Parsons .........
Davida Williams ..............
Doren Fein .....................
Brian Evaret Chandler .....
Marybeth Massett ...........
Jesse Littlejohn ...............
The Defiant is in the Gamma Quadrant, on its way back to the wormhole after a week-long reconnaissance mission that has been fairly grueling for everyone. When Dax makes a remark to Kira about her going to a spa with Shakaar when she gets home, Kira says she's not seeing him any more, not since last week. They had asked the Prophets (at a shrine on Bajor) if they were meant to walk the same path, and the answer came up negative. For Kira, a believer in destiny, that's that. Odo excuses himself from the conversation; he's not sure how to react to this news.
On the bridge, Sisko refuses a cup of raktajino, saying he's trying to cut down. Then Dax detects unusual readings from a nearby solar system, where an energy barrier surrounds the fourth planet. She's eager to explore it, to see how any life forms there have adapted to the quantum fluctuations. O'Brien suggests that they check it out next time they're in the neighborhood, but Dax says by then the interference will be too intense to even send a probe through it. Some modifications to the Defiant's shields should allow it to pass through the barrier with no problem. Though everyone wants to go home, Sisko gives in and says they'll make a quick survey.
When they penetrate the barrier, however, things go wrong. Crackles of energy dance through the bridge consoles. Kira is caught in a tendril, and for a moment, she seems to go slightly out of phase, almost as if there were two of her. Then the effect dissipates. O'Brien reports that the inertial dampers are off-line, and the gyromagnetic stabilizers have depolarized. They will have to stay here a while.
Worf then reports that they're being hailed from the planet, which has several settlements scattered across a peninsula, with approximately 8000 inhabitants. A man and a woman come on screen. "Welcome to Gaia, Captain Sisko," the woman says. Sisko is startled that she already knows his name. "We've been expecting you," she says. The man, who has a few Trill-like spots, speaks up. "It's a long story, Benjamin. Why don't you come down and we'll talk about it over some raktajino? Oh, I forgot. You're trying to cut down." Sisko is confused.
When he beams down with Dax, Worf, and O'Brien, into one of the villages, they are greeted by the man and woman in person. The woman introduces herself as Miranda O'Brien, and the man is Yedrin Dax. Our people can't help but be startled at the coincidence. "This settlement was founded by the crew of a Starfleet vessel that crashed on this planet two centuries ago," Miranda explains. "I realize this is going to be hard for you to accept, but that ship was the Defiant. Two days from now, when you leave here and try to pass through the energy barrier, you'll be thrown back in time two hundred years. You'll be stranded here, and become the founders of this settlement. We are your descendants."
Dax scans Yedrin; sure enough, he has the Dax symbiont, which has been passed to him through three generations. And Miranda checks out as having DNA similar to O'Brien's. She's a Tannenbaum as well, she says. O'Brien is shocked as he's informed gently by Yedrin that he married Rita Tannenbaum from Engineering ten years after the crash, after being the last to give up hope of ever seeing his family again. Seeing the dubious look on Sisko's face, Yedrin starts to bring up a memory that only Curzon would know, about the dancer Sisko met on Pelios station. Sisko stops him. He's convinced. Then a young boy named Gabriel asks Worf if it's true he can kill someone just by looking at them. "Only when I am angry," Worf replies.
They go into a building which serves as a combination meeting hall and schoolroom, where two young girls, Lisa and Molly, are working on math problems being given to them by an image of Quark, adapted long ago by Jadzia from the Defiant's security logs. Lisa has some Trill spots; Molly turns out to be a seventh-generation descendant of O'Brien, who is very uncomfortable at the revelation but manages to be polite. The girls recite what to them is ancient history: this is the first shelter the marooned Defiant crew built, and everyone had to sleep here, "all forty-eight of them."
"Forty-eight?" queries Sisko; there are currently 49 crewmembers on the Defiant. Yedrin breaks it to him that Kira died a few weeks after the crash, her neural pathways damaged by the energy discharge that struck her when the Defiant entered the barrier. Bashir was unable to treat her with the equipment available. And this causes a dilemma for our people. In order to save Kira's life, they must get her back to the station as soon as the Defiant can be repaired. Knowing about the time-travel accident, they can avoid it. But if they do, the colonists' timeline will collapse, and everything here will never have existed.
Yedrin, however, has a solution. Since the energy discharge caused a subspace doubling effect on Kira, they could feasibly modify the Defiant's systems so that they can amplify this effect and create a quantum duplicate of the entire ship. That way, one Defiant can go back to DS9, while the second one goes back in time and crashes here. Jadzia agrees that it might work. Since originally the Defiant encountered the temporal anomaly 39 hours after arriving in orbit, they now must do the same. It's the only chance for the nearly 8000 people on the planet. Sisko tells Jadzia to evaluate Yedrin's plan, and if it's sound, to start making the modifications. Yedrin thanks him. "Anything for you, old man," Sisko replies with a smile.
In sickbay on the Defiant, Bashir puts a vat containing a liquefied Odo into a stasis device; Odo hasn't been able to hold his shape due to the quantum fluctuations inside the barrier. Kira is there as well for an examination, though she says she feels fine. Bashir tells her that's because her neural tissues haven't started to deteriorate yet. He then leaves the room to go beam down, eager to meet his descendants.
Kira is looking at the stasis device when the door opens, and another Odo stands there. "Hello, Nerys." It's the Odo who was with the Defiant before when it crashed; over two hundred years, he has improved his shapeshifting abilities so that his humanoid features are now much more defined. He explains that he learned to counter the barrier's effects a long time ago, which is why he can hold his shape while his younger self can't. "You're as beautiful as I remember," Odo tells her, touching her face as she looks at him in surprise. "You can't know how I've longed to hear your voice, see your smile." "Odo, what's gotten into you?" Kira asks, not knowing what to make of this. "There's something I want you to know," he says. "Something I've wanted to tell you for two hundred years." He takes her hand, looking deeply into her eyes. "I love you, Nerys. I've always loved you."
Her first reaction is incredulity, but when she realizes he's serious, she tries to wrap her mind around the concept. Odo tells her he did everything he could not to let her find out his feelings for her. She asks why he never said anything. "I didn't think you could possibly care for me the way I cared for you," he tells her. "I suppose I was afraid of ruining what we had. Our friendship meant everything to me. It still does." And now Kira finally realizes how much it must have hurt him to sit there and listen to her talk about Shakaar and Bareil. "I can't say I enjoyed it," Odo admits. "But I wanted to be a good friend to you...Nerys, I didn't come here expecting you to throw yourself into my arms. But you're leaving here in two days. I'm never going to see you again. All I'm asking is that you spend some time with me. Gaia is a very beautiful place. I'd love to show it to you." "I'd like that," Kira tells him, and he smiles.
Sisko is holding a baby -- clearly his own descendant -- when Jadzia calls with good news. It looks like Yedrin's plan will work. In the town square, Bashir is happily nattering to Worf about meeting one of his descendants, the village doctor. Worf, of course, couldn't care less. They're interrupted by Gabriel announcing that the "Klingons" are here, followed by three figures carrying spears and knives, dressed in fur and leather, clearly deeply into a Klingon-ish lifestyle. One is a woman named Parell. Worf realizes they're his descendants. "Some by blood, some by choice," their leader, Brota, tells Worf. "Our hearts are Klingon. We live as warriors. Just as you taught our ancestors long ago." The "Sons of Mogh", as they call themselves, will be having a feast tonight, and they invite Worf, who accepts.
As the two Daxes are at work in the Defiant engine room, Yedrin reveals to Jadzia that she and Worf were married the fall after the crash. He fondly recalls Worf's voice shaking as he said his vows. Jadzia can't help asking if they were happy together. Yedrin nods. "He's a good man, Jadzia." "I know," she says. "It's just sometimes he's so hard to get along with." "Don't worry," her descendant assures her. "You'll learn to handle him."
Bashir finds another person -- O'Brien -- to chat to about his legacy. O'Brien, however, is still too disturbed by the news that he remarried/will remarry after the crash. When Bashir finally jauntily moves off, O'Brien turns around to see Lisa and Molly giggling at him.
Odo watches as Kira finishes praying over her own grave, in a field outside the village. The irony of it causes her to admit that she's having a little trouble with the plan to create a duplicate Defiant. "I've always believed that we're all given one destiny, one path. And now we're using technology to get around that. I'm not sure how it makes me feel." "I know exactly how it makes me feel," Odo tells her. "You can't know how much it means to me to know you're going home, Nerys. It won't change anything for me. I lost you two hundred years ago. But for the other Odo, up on the ship, it changes everything. He doesn't have to lose you. And somehow, knowing that makes me feel better. Does that make any sense?"
Kira looks at him, moved. "You've changed so much, Odo. I don't just mean the way you look. You used to be so closed off." "I have changed," he agrees. "And the Odo you know will change too -- if you're patient with him." He takes her hand to help her up, and she doesn't remove her hand from his as they walk back to the village.
Sisko is tossing a baseball around with some kids when Jadzia approaches and takes him aside. She found something odd in the sensor logs from the crash: the quantum fluctuations in the barrier factored out to zero. Which to her means only one thing. "Yedrin faked the logs...So we'd think his plan was going to work. It's not. There was never going to be a duplicate Defiant. Just one. And Yedrin wanted to make sure it went back in time." "So that history would repeat itself," Sisko realizes. "If I hadn't realized what he had done," Jadzia adds, "we would have ended up stranded here. And Kira would have died."
Feeling betrayed, the two of them confront a defensive Yedrin, who says that if they don't take the Defiant back in time, the eight thousand people on this planet will cease to exist. "You think I don't care?" Sisko demands. "Come on, you know me better than that! What am I supposed to do, recreate the accident and deliberately maroon my crew?" "Who's to say that's not what's supposed to happen?" Yedrin asks desperately, but Sisko doesn't want to argue philosophy. "I have a duty to protect my people." Yedrin points out that the Defiant crew and their descendants will have good lives here. As for Kira's death, "is one life too much to ask if it saves eight thousand?" "Who are you to decide who lives or dies?" Sisko demands. "Who are you to make that call?"
"I have to make that call!" Yedrin retorts. "Because I'm responsible for what happened here!" After all, Jadzia was the one who insisted that they investigate this planet. Now, she admits what they both know, that she should have recognized the barrier's instability, but she missed it because she was eager to make some great scientific discovery. Yedrin describes how the Jadzia of his timeline lived with her guilt. "Eventually, I had to accept the fact there was nothing I could do to change things. I couldn't bring Kira back. All I could do was look to the future, Benjamin, and make sure that we survived here, no matter what. This community is my responsibility. For two centuries, I have watched it grow into something to be proud of. For generations, these people have worked to make a life for themselves here. They deserve a chance to hang on to it." "I'm not denying that," says Sisko. "I wish there was a way we could help you. But my people have the right to return home to their families. And I will not ask Kira to sacrifice her life for eight thousand people, for eight million. No one has the right to ask that. I'm sorry, old man. But there is nothing I can do."
That night, Kira and Worf watch some children playing in the square. Kira is somber, the fate of the colonists weighing heavily on her. "Eight thousand people, Worf, and they have to die because I've got to go back to the station to be treated for some condition I can't even tell I have." The adult colonists, though, have wistfully accepted their fate. "It would have been a good crop this year," Miranda says, but reassures Gabriel that there's nothing he needs to worry about.
Worf is approached by Brota and the other "Klingons", who announce that there will be no feast tonight. Worf understands, and tells them it's an honor to know that his legacy has thrived here. Brota talks about when he slew a yar-bear and nearly died from the wounds it gave him. "Now I wish I had. It would have been a warrior's death." Worf tries to assure him that he might yet reach Sto'Vo'Kor, but Brota doesn't believe that. "Ceasing to exist because my parents were never born -- that is not a death worthy of Sto'Vo'Kor. Kill me, Worf. I have no enemies to fight, no glory to be won. Give me an honorable death." "Don't make us wait for the end like farm animals waiting for slaughter," Parell adds, as she and the other "Klingon" also proffer their knives to Worf. Worf tells them, "I will come to you tomorrow and do what you ask."
At sunrise, Kira visits her grave again, with Odo. She has made a decision. "This is where I belong. The path the Prophets laid out for me ends here." "Not this time, Nerys," Odo says. "The captain's taking you back to DS9." But Kira's mind is made up. "I can't let him do that. Not if it's going to cost eight thousand lives. No, we have to let history take its course, even if it means I have to die here."
A conference is held in the mess hall of the Defiant. Kira has accepted the fact that she will die in a few weeks if she doesn't get treatment. "We've got to take the Defiant back in time. Otherwise, we're cheating fate." "Well, I wouldn't mind cheating fate all the way home to the station," says O'Brien, who is dead set against it. He maintains that his wife and kids need him; Kira tries to tell him the Prophets will take care of them, but O'Brien doesn't believe in the Prophets. Worf, however, supports Kira. If she's willing to sacrifice herself, he's willing to remain. "That's easy for you to say," retorts O'Brien. "You hardly ever see your son." "And you are afraid to face your destiny," Worf replies. Sisko listens to what everyone has to say, then makes his decision. They're not going back in time.
Dax, Worf, and Sisko go down to the town square to take a last look around at the colony that will be gone by sunset. They discover that the colonists have decided to hold a Planting Day, an occasion that Yedrin tells them has always been an important part of life here, a day that brings everyone together. "Somehow it feels right to see it through." Sisko and the others join in, and spend the long bright day digging and planting beside their descendants.
When O'Brien brings Sisko a status report, telling him that the Defiant has been repaired and is ready to leave orbit, Molly asks, "Aren't you going to help?" "I'm busy." "You don't look busy," the child observes. Sisko grins and hands O'Brien a soil corer; O'Brien reluctantly gets to work. Worf brings Brota and the others. "They are attempting to plant their fields before the sun sets," he tells them. "Time is their enemy. We should help them defeat it."
As he works, O'Brien talks to Molly a little, and mentions his Molly. "Can I meet her?" she asks. "We'll see," manages O'Brien, struck despite himself by the girl's innocent unawareness of her coming fate. He walks over to Sisko and Kira. "We can't do it. We can't let these people die."
Yedrin gives Jadzia the navigational logs from the crash, to be downloaded into the Defiant's autopilot so that the ship will match the original trajectory and go back to the right point in time. "I don't know how to thank you for what you're doing," Miranda tells Sisko gratefully. Just before beaming up, Sisko clasps Yedrin in a last hug.
On the Defiant, Odo is in anguish at the thought of Kira dying again, and tries to dissuade her, but she insists that it's not about her. "This is about the eight thousand people down on that planet, their children, and their grandchildren." "What about the children who'll never be born because the Defiant doesn't return to DS9?" he asks. But Kira is adamant. "They don't exist yet. These people do."
Knowing she's made up her mind, there's just one thing Odo has to ask. "If you'd known how I felt about you, if I'd said something years ago, do you think things might have been different?" Kira looks at him for a long moment. "Maybe," she says at last, softly, and kisses him gently on the lips before she walks down the corridor, leaving him devastated.
Sisko has had everyone record a message to their families, and O'Brien has downloaded the messages into a probe which he now launches. It's time. The helm control is transferred to the autopilot; the autopilot is engaged. The Defiant breaks orbit, and heads for the anomaly. They brace themselves for impact. But suddenly, the ship veers away. Dax can't override the autopilot, and they clear the barrier into normal space. "Someone changed our flight plan," O'Brien says, reading his console. "It wasn't me." Sisko has Kira scan the surface. "No sign of the settlement," she tells him. "Or the inhabitants. Everything's gone."
Sisko and Dax discuss who could have changed the flight plan. The person knew their way around the computer system, bypassing the security protocols without leaving a trace; therefore, it must have been someone from the crew. "Or someone who used to be," Sisko says. "Yedrin?" Dax asks, puzzled. "But all he cared about was the settlement. What could have changed his mind?" "Seeing us again," Sisko guesses. "Perhaps he decided he couldn't let us go through with it." Dax still can't get over it. "Everyone we met -- they never existed." "They existed," Sisko tells her with conviction. "As long as we remember them, they always will." They both take comfort in this.
Kira is lying on the bunk in her quarters when her door chimes, and Odo comes in -- the Odo she knows. Awkwardly, he tells her that the Odo from the planet came to sickbay and Linked with him before leaving the ship. Through this, he knows that his long-held secret is out. Kira notes that he seemed uncomfortable on hearing about her breakup with Shakaar. "I'd come to accept the fact that you were involved with someone else," Odo explains. "Then suddenly everything changed." "I don't know what to say," Kira admits. "I'm still trying to sort everything out." Odo agrees. "So am I. I think we both need some time."
He starts to go, but then turns back. "There's something else the other Odo wanted you to know. He was responsible for changing the Defiant's flight plan." Kira is stunned. "Why?" "So that you wouldn't have to die," Odo tells her. "...He did it for you, Nerys. He loved you." "That makes it right?" she demands, horrified. There's nothing Odo can do or say in defense of his counterpart, and he doesn't try. "I don't know," he tells her simply. "He thought so."
Kira can only stare at him, speechless at the thought of the 8000 lives that were sacrificed for her, against her will. Quietly, Odo finally says, "I'll see you in the morning," and leaves her.
Originally, it was indeed Yedrin who sacrificed the colony after having a change of heart, but the producers felt that it would have more impact if it were Odo. The Planting Day scenes were filmed at Ahmanson Ranch near Ventura, California. The plants used were chrysanthemums. The village sets were reused in "Blaze of Glory". The older Odo's makeup was a recycle of the mask used in "Facets".