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Field of Fire

Production no.: 563
Written by: Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: Tony Dow
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: February 6, 1999
Art Chudabala .............
Marty Rackham ..........
Leigh J. McCloskey .....

In Quark's, a fresh-faced young lieutenant named Ilario is being toasted by several other officers, having successfully piloted the Defiant in his first combat mission. Ilario suggests that maybe he could go with O'Brien and Bashir the next time they visit to the holosuite, but while they're willing to drink to him, they don't want anyone else along for their games. Later, Ezri walks a drunken Ilario back to his quarters, where he has a picture of himself with two of his Academy classmates, laughing. He flirts with her a bit before she leaves.

When Ezri heads for her duties the next morning, security guards are racing past her door, phasers drawn. She follows, and finds that the center of activity is Ilario's quarters. Odo and Bashir are there; they tell her that Ilario has been shot and killed.

The weapon was a chemically-propelled projectile, from a gun. Sisko and O'Brien remember the TR-116, a prototype Starfleet rifle that fired bullets, developed to operate in conditions where phasers are useless. It was abandoned in favor of regenerative phasers, but someone could have gotten hold of the rifle's replication pattern -- and only Starfleet officers have access to those files. Oddly, O'Brien's readings indicate that the bullet only traveled eight or nine centimeters, yet there are no powder burns on the body. (Odo and O'Brien know about powder burns due to their familiarity with 20th-century crime novels.) The time of death is only ten minutes after Ezri says she left Ilario. Since Ilario was new to the station, no one knows much about him; Sisko tells Odo to find out more, and to increase security.

Ezri later shares a somber drink with O'Brien and Bashir, who regret not having let Ilario come with them to the holosuite. When Ezri heads home, she sees Odo and some guards leading a manacled prisoner who Odo says is Ilario's killer. Ezri asks the figure why he did it, but is surprised to find that it's Ilario. He lunges at her, and Odo pulls him off. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant. There's nothing more annoying than a corpse with a mind of its own." As they leave, Ezri looks down and sees her hands covered in blood. She then finds herself in Ilario's quarters, with the body. Her shoulder is grabbed, and she turns to see the face of Joran, Dax's murderous, long-secret host.

When she asks what he wants, Joran replies, "Respect. Understanding. Love." Suddenly he's playing the piano. "I wish you'd stop being afraid of me. It's not like we're strangers. That worm in your belly used to be mine. Which means I'm part of you." Then he's behind her. "And you're part of me." Recoiling, Ezri says she's nothing like him. Joran suggests that she perform the Rite of Emergence so that she can ask for his help in finding out who killed Ilario. But Ezri wants nothing to do with him. "I'm within you, Ezri," Joran tells her. "All the time. Use me...I can help. I know how he thinks. We can catch him, Ezri, you and me, together. And then we'll make him pay." He flings himself and her over the railing of the Promenade. Ezri wakes up in her quarters, to a call from Sisko. There's been another murder.

The victim is Lt. Commander Greta Vanderweg, another Starfleet officer who had been on DS9 for three years. She also was killed by a bullet (of the same type as before), at close range, with no powder burns. It's doubtful that she and Ilario knew each other, since he was only here for ten days, seven of them on the Defiant. With over 900 Starfleet officers on the station, Sisko knows they need to narrow the field of suspects. He asks Ezri how well she did in forensic psychology; she says it wasn't her best subject, but Sisko tells her they need to find out why the killer is doing this. "I'll do my best," replies Ezri.

Sometime later, Odo and Ezri stand in the science lab, looking at a large melon on a table. O'Brien has asked them down here to show them something, but neither one knows what it is. O'Brien calls and has them put on goggles (Note: Don't ask me why Odo needs goggles) and step away from the melon, which then explodes. O'Brien enters carrying a TR-116 rifle with a small device attached, and wearing an exographic targeting sensor on one eye. He fired a bullet into the melon while standing in the turbolift down the hall, yet there is no bullet hole in the wall. The device on the rifle is a micro-transporter, which beamed the bullet into the room a few centimeters from the melon. This could explain the lack of powder burns on the murder victims, and the sensor would allow the killer to see through bulkheads. He could have fired from anywhere on the station. Unfortunately, the bullet's transporter signature is too weak to trace back to its point of origin.

After looking through the files of Ilario and Vanderweg, and finding no connection, Ezri goes to the Promenade late at night, when it's deserted. She hears footsteps from the overhead walkway, footsteps that increase in pace as she walks faster. She goes up to the second level, where a figure looms up behind her, but it turns out to be Worf. He was following her because it's dangerous to be wandering the Promenade alone at this time of night, though he won't admit to being worried about her. "You are a fellow officer. I would have the same concern for Chief O'Brien or Dr. Bashir." Worf asks about the investigation, and if he can help. Ezri replies that he can't; nobody can. "Actually, that's not true. There is someone who could help, but I don't want to ask him." She won't say why, though, and Worf finally says, "I am certain that you will do whatever is necessary to complete your task...You are Dax. It is your way."

In her darkened quarters, Ezri sets a vat of liquid boiling over a flame, and chants in Trill as she gazes into the mirror. Finally, her own reflection is replaced by the image of Joran. "You won't regret this, Ezri. I promise." He is now seated in a chair behind her, pleased that she's separated him from the others and brought him forth. "I've been ignored for far too long. Curzon, Jadzia -- they didn't quite know what to do with me." In order to figure out how the killer thinks, Joran says they'll start with the choice of weapon. Ezri knows about the modification to the rifle, but he points out that she hasn't held it in her hands, looked through the tracking display, picked a target, or felt the rush of power. "If you want to catch a killer, Ezri, you have to learn to think like one."

Ezri goes down to the science lab, where she hefts the rifle and wears the targeting display. She's held a rifle before in combat, but Joran says it's not the same thing. "That kind of killing is too random. Too chaotic. This is more controlled. You can savor the moment." Under his direction, Ezri scans the habitat ring, and the quarters there, seeing a Starfleet officer in one room. She admits that she feels powerful, in control, calm, and detached. Joran approves. "Now you're getting it. You do your killing from a distance. You're cold, methodical. Maybe you're a scientist, or a doctor." He tries to goad her into firing, but Ezri takes off the eyepiece and throws down the weapon. Joran tells her it's not loaded; she asks why he told her to fire. "Do you want to know what the killer feels or don't you?" he asks.

To regain her composure, Ezri goes down to the Promenade, with Joran at her side, seductively describing how it feels to kill. She declares that he was the killer, not her. Hearing her talking to herself, Quark comes out and converses with her a little; Joran (unseen by Quark) remarks that he'd like to slip a knife between his ribs. Ezri would rather get back to work. (Quark has gone back into the bar.) "The sooner we find our killer, the sooner you and I can part company." Joran suggests they visit the victims' quarters.

In Ilario's quarters, Joran notes that both victims were killed in their quarters, which could be a coincidence or a connection. He tells Ezri to look around, seeing what the killer saw. The photo of a smiling Ilario with two of his classmates, for example. One was killed in combat; another is on a ship that hasn't come near the station in months.

They go to Vanderweg's quarters, where there is a holograph of Vanderweg's wedding: the woman is laughing with her husband. Ezri comments that the victims seem to have had nothing in common. "Which means they could have just been chosen at random. And if that's the case, then we're wasting our time."

They sit together in Quark's, where Joran can see that Ezri is thinking about giving up. "It's not the lack of clues that's keeping you from finding the killer, it's you...You're holding back, Ezri. You refuse to see with his eyes, feel with his hands, think with his mind." "You want to turn me into a killer -- make me like you," Ezri accuses; Joran says, "You are me." As they're talking, a commotion breaks out: a Starfleet officer is being chased through the bar by a Bajoran deputy. Ezri thinks this must be the killer. She knocks the fleeing officer to the ground and grapples with him. Egged on by Joran, Ezri finds herself picking up a knife and starting to stab the man, but her wrist is grabbed by Odo, who takes the knife away. Ezri is shaken, realizing what she almost did.

Ezri has to explain herself to Sisko, who says that Ensign Bertram didn't kill anyone. He was being chased because a month ago he accessed the replicator pattern for the TR-116 without authorization; but he did so because he collects weapons, and what's more, he happened to be on Bajor when the first murder occurred. "You've been under a lot of stress lately," Sisko says. Ezri replies, "Ben, please don't give up on me. I can find this murderer. I know I can. I just need more time."

Then she goes back to her quarters and sets up the ritual again, trying to put Joran back where he came from, despite his urgings not to. "You won't catch the killer without me." Ezri is interrupted, however, by a summons from Odo. There has been a third murder: Petty Officer Zim Brott, a Bolian with whom Jadzia had been acquainted. He too was shot at close range without powder burns.

Ezri is alone in Brott's quarters with Joran when Joran happens to idly study a photo of Brott laughing with his two children. Suddenly Ezri realizes the connection between the victims: all three had images in their quarters of themselves laughing with friends or family. Together, she and Joran come up with a theory: that the killer is someone who hates emotion -- a Vulcan, perhaps. Of course, while Vulcans distrust emotion, Joran notes that they don't kill people for smiling. But Ezri thinks that maybe this Vulcan had something happen to him that was so painful, it made him lose control. "When he looks through the targeting sensor and sees those pictures, the laughter seems to mock him."

According to the computer, there are 48 Vulcans serving on DS9. Ezri uses the computer to narrow the list to 28 who have suffered a personal loss of some kind. She and Joran speculate that it's not just laughter that triggers the killer's anger, but specifically images of people laughing.

As they're riding the turbolift and talking, a Vulcan happens to get on with them; a science officer. Joran stares at his face intently. Ezri asks what he's doing, causing the Vulcan to ask if she's addressing him. "It's him, Ezri," Joran announces. "I know it is. We've found our killer." Nervously, Ezri tells the Vulcan she's Counselor Dax; the Vulcan only says, "I know", and gets off at his stop. Ezri lets him go. She needs proof, after all, but Joran says that meanwhile the Vulcan is going to pick out another victim.

In the science lab, Ezri checks up on the Vulcan: Lt. Chu'lak, who was assigned here three months ago after ten years on the USS Grissom, which was destroyed by the Jem'Hadar. Chu'lak survived, but lost many colleagues and friends; a painful loss even for a Vulcan. Ezri says that doesn't make him a killer, but Joran urges her to listen to her instincts.

The computer says Chu'lak is in his quarters, and tells her the location. Ezri gets the rifle, putting on the targeting display. She finds Chu'lak, who is studying a file on the computer: her own service record. It would seem he knows he's suspected. Ezri tracks the Vulcan as he goes and gets a TR-116 rifle. Without prompting from Joran, she loads a bullet clip into her own rifle. Joran tells her to shoot the Vulcan, but she hesitates.

Meanwhile, Chu'lak puts on a targeting display. He and Ezri are now aiming at each other. "Don't think about it, just do it. Kill him!" Joran urges. Finally Ezri pulls the trigger. She hits Chu'lak as he fires; a bullet whizzes by her. "Congratulations," Joran says. "I'm proud of you."

Ezri ignores him as she strides to Chu'lak's quarters. When she arrives, Chu'lak, wounded, is dragging himself toward his rifle. Ezri kicks it away from him and picks it up. Joran again urges her to kill him. Ezri addresses Chu'lak. "Tell me, why did you do it?" "Because logic demanded it," the Vulcan answers painfully. Joran tells Ezri to follow her instincts. She does; but to Joran's disappointment, her instinct is to relax her aim and call for a medical team.

Back in her own quarters, Ezri once again performs the ritual. Joran tells her he's enjoyed their time together. "You won't be able to forget me, or bury me as deeply as Curzon or Jadzia did." "I know," replies Ezri. "I'm part of you now," Joran says. "As much as Audrid, Torias, any of them." "I'll have to be careful," Ezri acknowledges. She completes the ritual, and Joran's reflection disappears from her mirror, leaving her own in its place again.

  • The original title of this episode was "The Killer in Dax".
  • In the first draft, Joran was only a hologram that Ezri had created to help her think out the killer's motivation.
  • The fruit blown up by O'Brien to demonstrate the TR-116 was a watermelon painted purple. Gary Monak injected it with green-dyed tapioca pudding.