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Heart of Stone

Production no.: 460
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: Alexander Singer
Stardate: 48521.5 
First satellite airdate: February 4, 1995
Max Grodénchik ....
Aron Eisenberg .....
Salome Jens ..........
Majel Barrett ........
Female Changeling
Computer Voice

Odo and Kira are on their way back to DS9 after a trip to Prophets' Landing, a Bajoran colony close to the Cardassian border, to review security procedures there. Kira tries to make conversation, but Odo won't give her more than one-word answers. It turns out he's miffed because she turned down a dinner invitation for the two of them from the colony governor. Not that he wanted to go; his objection is that Kira didn't bother to ask him if he did or not. "You're right," she says. "Next time we are invited out for dinner, I will make sure you are the one to say no." "I'd appreciate that," Odo says with great dignity, making Kira smile. Then a signal comes in, from a Lissepian supply ship that was just attacked by a one-man Maquis interceptor, and they decide to pursue.

The Maquis ship heads into the Badlands, where the plasma fields disrupt the runabout's sensors. But they spot the ship headed for a moon orbiting a gas giant. The Maquis seems to be in trouble, and is trying to land on the moon when the runabout loses track of him. Something on the moon's surface is jamming the sensors. Odo and Kira decide to land there as well.

Back at DS9, Sisko is working in his office when O'Brien tells him Nog is here to see him. Surprised and curious, Sisko says to let him in, and Nog enters, carrying a small bundle. The young Ferengi's manner is unusually grave as he thanks Sisko for the opportunity to speak with him, and puts the bundle on Sisko's desk. It contains a stack of latinum. "Yesterday I completed the Ferengi Attainment Ceremony," Nog announces proudly. "I'm an adult." "Congratulations," Sisko says. Nog explains that the latinum is his life savings. According to Ferengi bylaws, "upon reaching adulthood, Ferengi males must purchase an apprenticeship from a suitable role model. I choose you." "You want to be my apprentice?" Sisko asks, amazed. "That's right," says Nog. "I want to be the first Ferengi in Starfleet. Now, who do I see about getting a uniform?"

Sisko explains that it's not that simple. Nog has to attend Starfleet Academy to become an officer. Since he's not a Federation citizen, he needs a letter of reference from a command-level officer before he can even take the entrance exam. "A command-level officer," Nog says. "You mean, like you?" Sisko tells him he'll think about it. He tries to get Nog to take the latinum back, but Nog tells him to keep it as a token of appreciation.

The search for the Maquis fugitive leads Odo and Kira into a system of caverns, where tricorders are useless. Odo figures their quarry must be in here, since he wasn't in the wreckage of his ship, and no one could survive for long on the surface. The moon is also seismically unstable. All around, a delightful place. Odo and Kira split up to search. As Odo is heading down a corridor, he receives a signal from Kira, who says she's trapped and needs his help. Odo retraces his steps, and eventually finds Kira. Her foot has become stuck in something. On closer examination, Odo sees that her foot is encased in what looks like a sort of crystal -- one that grows slightly as he looks at it.

Kira can't escape by slipping her foot out of her boot, because the crystal is too tight around it. Odo tries breaking it apart with a rock, but the rock shatters instead. Kira has to chuckle at this. "Come on, Odo. It's pretty ridiculous, don't you think? The two of us being outsmarted by a chunk of crystal?" But Odo isn't ready to give up. Kira then tries shooting the crystal with her phaser. Unfortunately, this only causes the crystal to grow more rapidly, up to her knee. "I guess that wasn't such a good idea after all," Kira says ruefully. Concerned by the quakes, Odo calls the runabout for transport, but of course there's too much interference. So he'll have to walk back to the runabout. He hesitates, not wanting to leave her alone, but Kira assures him she'll be fine. "I promise not to go anywhere."

In Quark's, Rom and Nog are working on the replicator, which has overloaded due to Quark's refusal to shut down periodically for maintenance. Rom, however, assumes the blame, and Nog waits unhappily as his downtrodden father goes to get a part. Then Jake comes in. "Hey, that was a pretty funny joke you pulled on my Dad this morning...You know, about wanting to join Starfleet." Nog is incensed to learn that Jake has told his father it was a joke. "How can you do that to me? I want you to go back to your father and tell him that you were wrong." Jake is surprised to find that his friend is quite serious about this, though he's never expressed a desire to join Starfleet before. Nog doesn't want to talk about his reasons. "All right," says Jake. "But my father's a pretty smart guy. And if this is some kind of trick, he's going to figure it out." "There's nothing to figure out," says Nog. "I'm joining Starfleet. And that's that."

On the runabout, Odo tries beaming Kira out, but the ionization in the atmosphere inhibits transporter lock. Pattern enhancers won't help, either. He tries sending a distress call to DS9, but communications are inoperable due to the interference. Odo finally succeeds in launching a probe into space to broadcast their whereabouts. But the station won't receive the signal for two days.

Odo is heading back to Kira with this disheartening news when he hears phaser fire, and rushes to her side. She is alone, her legs now both covered in crystal. Kira tells him that the Maquis just came out of a tunnel and shot at her; she fired back, and he ran off. Odo looks at the phaser scars on the rock wall behind her. "He didn't miss by much." "My lucky day," says Kira.

Sisko has just finished discussing some station business with Bashir (regarding reassigning Ensign Vilix'pran, who is "budding") when Nog sees him on the Promenade, and asks if he's decided yet about the letter. "Look, Nog," Sisko says. "I have to be honest with you. When I think of candidates for Starfleet Academy, yours is not the first name that comes to mind." "Why not? Because I'm a Ferengi?" demands Nog. "Not at all," Sisko tells him. "The fact is, your reputation on this station leaves a lot to be desired. Your school grades are mediocre at best, and you've had more than a few run-ins with Constable Odo." Nog looks at him pleadingly. "Okay, so I've made some mistakes. I admit that. But I can do better. Just give me a chance."

So Sisko does. He tells Dax he needs another complete inventory of a cargo bay, and he's assigning Nog to do it. Dax is as surprised as Sisko was to hear about Nog's desire to join Starfleet. "I always thought it would be interesting to have a Ferengi in Starfleet, but Nog?" Sisko says he wants to give him a chance to prove himself. Nog will do the inventory alone, with no help or interference.

The crystal has grown to Kira's waist. Odo thinks it's rather convenient that they happened to chase the Maquis to a moon where none of the standard technological devices can help them. "You make it sound like he planned on trapping us," says Kira. "Maybe he did," Odo replies. "But it's not going to work. I'm going to get you out of here." Kira, however, is beginning to be a little scared. At the rate that the crystal is growing, she will be completely encased in less than twelve hours. And the place is still quaking.

Odo racks his mind for a solution, and gets an idea. He recently read a crime report about a band of Nausicaan raiders who robbed a museum on Remmil VI, where the buildings are constructed from a crystalline webbing spun by the natives. The raiders used a high-frequency ultrasonic generator to create a sympathetic vibration in the webbing and shatter it. Now Odo thinks he might be able to do the same thing by building such a generator from parts on the runabout. He starts back there. "Constable," says Kira, "when we get back to the station, I'm going to start reading those criminal activity reports." "I'll make sure you get them," Odo says with a slight smile.

Dax takes Nog to the nearly full cargo bay, saying they lost the manifest due to a computer error, and Sisko wants him to re-inventory the contents. Nog is a bit daunted at first. "Look, Nog," Dax tells him, "Starfleet isn't just about diplomacy and exploration. A lot of the time, it's just hard work." Determinedly, Nog says Sisko will have the manifest before he goes off duty tonight.

Kira's ribcage is now covered by the crystal, and she's finding it more and more difficult to breathe. Odo, who is making the final touches on his makeshift generator, tries to be encouraging. "Don't worry, Major. I have every intention of getting us back to the station by tomorrow night. Chief O'Brien is counting on it." When she asks what O'Brien has to do with it, he reluctantly tells her that he and O'Brien have an appointment to go kayaking together in a holosuite. Kira is delighted by the image of Odo and O'Brien together in a boat, with O'Brien singing "Louie Louie" to keep the paddling rhythm up. Odo tells her it's a very difficult program; O'Brien has dislocated his shoulder half a dozen times in it. "Then why does he keep doing it?" Kira asks. "Because he loves it," Odo replies. "And it's been my observation that you humanoids have a hard time giving up the things you love, no matter how much they might hurt you." "I'm glad you're here, Odo," she tells him. Odo looks at her. "I'm glad I'm here, too," he says with feeling.

Suddenly there is an especially violent quake, and Odo morphs into a dome above Kira to protect her head from falling rocks. After the quake ends, he checks the generator, which is unharmed but still hasn't found the right frequency. Odo attempts again to lift Kira's spirits by saying they've been in worse situations and come out all right. "Name three," challenges Kira, surprising him. "In the detective novels Chief O'Brien gives me to read," he tells her, "when the hero says, 'We've been in tougher situations than this one,' his friends always agree." "I never read any of those books," Kira says. Frustrated, Odo wishes there was some "humanoid platitude" to cheer her up. "I don't have much use for platitudes, Odo," Kira tells him. "I'd rather face the truth of a situation and go on from there." "I feel the same way," Odo says. She smiles a little. "I know you do. That's why you and I get along so well." "I suppose it is," Odo says. "But in this case, the truth is we're going to get you out of here, Major. And that's no platitude."

True to his word, Nog has completed the inventory before Sisko went off duty, and the commander and Dax discuss it at dinner in the replimat. Sisko has to admit the results are impressive. And Dax tells him Nog didn't steal anything; he even found a few items they missed before. "Okay," Sisko muses, "so now we know he's a hard worker. The question remains: Why does he want to join Starfleet?" "I have no idea," admits Dax.

The ultrasonic generator has had no effect at all on the crystal, as if the crystal's structure is continuously mutating to keep it from finding the frequency to shatter it. And the crystal is now up to Kira's chest, encasing her arms so that only a hand is sticking out; her voice is very strained as she fights to breathe. About all Odo can do is hold her hand. She asks him to talk to her; to tell her a story. When he can't think of one, she suggests that he tell her how he got his name. So Odo relates how, when Dr. Mora first brought him to his lab, he was given the container label "unknown sample", which was translated into Cardassian by the overseer as "odo'ital" -- which literally means "nothing". The Bajoran scientists took to jokingly calling him "Odo Ital", as if it were a Bajoran name; eventually it was shortened to just Odo.

There's another strong tremor as Odo continues. "The thing is, for the longest time, whenever anyone would use my name, the first thing I would think of was what it meant: 'nothing'. What better way to describe me? I had no family, no friends, no place where I belonged. I thought it was the most appropriate name anyone could give me -- and then I met you." Realizing that he has almost said too much, he covers. "And the others -- Sisko, Dax, even Quark. Now, when I hear one of you call me Odo, I no longer think of myself as nothing. I think of myself as me."

The ultrasonic generator is not going to work, and both Odo and Kira know it by now. Odo is forced to admit he's run out of ideas. "It doesn't make sense. The ultrasonic generator should have worked. Something's not right here." "Odo," she tells him, "you've done your best. It's time for you to go." The caverns could collapse any second, and the Maquis is probably dead already anyway. "As your superior officer, I'm telling you to take the runabout and get the hell off this moon. That's an order."

Odo doesn't move. He refuses to abandon her, even though she pleads with him to do so, to save himself. "No," he insists, desperate. "I won't leave you." "Why?!" she demands. And finally, Odo has no choice but to say the words. "Because...because I'm in love with you."

He slumps against a wall, too ashamed and anguished to look at her. "So...now you know." "Odo," says Kira after a long moment, "I'm in love with you, too." Odo looks up at her, stunned.

Nog eagerly enters Sisko's office, where the commander tells him he has thought about his request, and is turning it down. Nog just isn't Academy material. He wouldn't be able to handle the workload or the discipline. Sisko says bluntly that he won't put his reputation on the line to satisfy this whim of Nog's. But Nog is completely serious when he says it's not a whim, a joke, or a scheme. He wants to join Starfleet, more than he has ever wanted anything in his life. "You're a Ferengi," says Sisko. "Why would you want to be in Starfleet? Where's the profit in it?" "I don't care about profit!" Nog says. Sisko pushes it. "Then what do you care about? Come on, Nog, tell me. Why is it so damned important that you get into Starfleet? Why are you doing this?"

At last Nog blurts out the truth. "Because I don't want to end up like my father!" Sisko calms down and listens, having finally gotten the admission he wanted. "He's been chasing profit his whole life," Nog says. "And what has it gotten him? Nothing. And you know why? Because he doesn't have the lobes. And neither do I." He goes on to explain that Rom is a mechanical genius who could have been chief engineer of a starship if he had had the chance. "But he went into business, like a good Ferengi. The only thing is, he's not a good Ferengi, not when it comes to acquiring profit. So now all he has to live for is the slim chance that someday, somehow, he might be able to take over my uncle's bar. Well, I'm not going to make the same mistake. I want to do something with my life, something worthwhile...I may not have an instinct for business, but I have my father's hands and my uncle's tenacity. I know I've got something to offer. I just need a chance to prove it."

"All right," says Sisko. "I'll see that you get that chance." He will send the letter the first thing in the morning. Nog is overwhelmed with joy, and thanks him. "Don't worry. You're never going to regret this!"

An hour after Odo's revelation, Kira is encased up to her chin. Odo has been silent, troubled by some thoughts that have been going through his mind. "I'm sorry I waited so long to tell you how I feel about you," she says. "If I'd told you earlier, maybe things would've been different." But Odo, looking between the corridor and the phaser hits, gives a tight little smile. She asks what he's smiling at.

"I think I've finally figured out what's going on here," he replies. "This whole situation hasn't seemed right since the beginning. There have been too many coincidences, too many unanswered questions." He asks her some questions now, about when the Maquis fired at her. And the only conclusion is that from the angle she says the Maquis shot from, it's not possible for the shots to have hit the wall and caused the scars that are there, unless they had hit her first. Kira suggests that maybe the Maquis was standing somewhere else. "Maybe," says Odo. "Or maybe you were lying to me. Which makes two times you've lied to me today...You lied when you said you were shot at by the Maquis. And you lied when you said you loved me."

"I do love you," she protests. He looks at her sadly. "I wish you did. But you don't. Remember, Major, I pride myself on my ability to observe human nature. And I've watched you for the past three years. In all that time, I never saw any indication that you had those kind of feelings for me. You like me. You think of me as a close friend. But love? I'm afraid not." She tries to explain. "Maybe I told you I loved you because I thought it would make you feel better. Because I thought that's what you wanted to hear." Odo shakes his head. "You're lying again. The Kira I know has far too much regard for our friendship to lie to me, even for the best of reasons." "Odo," she says desperately, "I can explain -- " "Good," Odo replies, aiming Kira's phaser at her. "Then you can start by telling me who you are and what you've done with Kira."

The jig is up. "Kira" and the crystal both begin to morph, and in their place sits the female Changeling whom Odo met on his homeworld in "The Search". She congratulates him on being such a skillful investigator. Odo demands to know where Kira is; she says, "Close by." He realizes that she was the Maquis fugitive, and she confirms this, but won't say how she obtained a Maquis ship. Odo then asks her why she led them here and replaced Kira.

"I needed to understand why you chose to live with the solids rather than your own people," she explains. "I suspected it had something to do with Major Kira. Now, I'm certain of it." Her plan, Odo realizes, was to let him think Kira had died, which the female Changeling believed would end his "link" to the solids. "Then you would return to us," she says. Odo tells her, "I assure you, nothing will ever make me do that." "I wouldn't be so sure," the Founder replies. When Odo again threatens her with the phaser, she doesn't believe he'd shoot her. "No Changeling has ever harmed another." "There's always a first time," Odo says evenly.

Finally, the Founder relents and tells him where Kira is. "Save her if it suits you. But it won't make any difference. She is never going to love you. How could she? You are a Changeling." With that, she steps back and is beamed away. Odo ponders her words for a moment, then goes and finds Kira, who has been shut inside a stasis chamber. He releases her; she is quite groggy, wondering what happened and how she got there, but he says it's a long story as he helps her toward the runabout, through the violently shaking caverns.

They arrive back at DS9; Odo has related the whole story to Kira -- almost the whole story. When she asks how he realized the truth, he tells her, "She eventually made a mistake. She said something I know you would never say." "What was that?" she asks curiously. Odo walks on. "Just a slip of the tongue. Nothing important."

Nog has broken the news to his father and uncle that he wants to join Starfleet. Quark is dead set against it. "No nephew of mine is going to disgrace our family name by joining Starfleet." But, surprisingly, Rom stands up for his son. "Nog -- good luck. I would be proud to have a son in Starfleet." "You're both insane," grumbles Quark. Nog looks proudly at Rom as they clasp hands in solidarity. "Like father, like son."