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Production no.: 483
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: David Livingston
Stardate: 49170.6
First satellite airdate: December 30, 1995
Robert Foxworth ......
Herschel Sparber .....
Susan Gibney ...........
Aron Eisenberg ........
Brock Peters ............
Dylan Chalfy ............
Admiral Leyton
Joseph Sisko
Head Officer

Sisko and Dax watch from the upper level of the Promenade as the wormhole opens and closes for the seventh time in the last two hours. There have been no unusual readings and no ships coming through; the Bajorans, of course, believe it's some sort of message from the Prophets. As they're talking, Dax watches Odo entering the Promenade. Sisko then gets a call from Worf, saying a priority one message from Starfleet is coming in.

Odo stalks up to Quark at the bar. He's looking for Dax. Quark is rather amused to learn that Odo is ticked off because Dax has been breaking into his quarters and moving his furniture, upsetting Odo's sense of order. Odo is then called to Ops, where the other officers are discussing the fatal bombing of a high-level diplomatic conference on Earth between the Federation and the Romulan empire. They've received a recording of the bombing, in which, when played at slow speed, a vase can be seen morphing. Since no sign of a Changeling was found in the aftermath, it's presumed to have escaped unharmed. "I was hoping that this would never happen," says Sisko grimly. "But it finally has. The Changelings have reached Earth."

Odo discusses it with Dax as he's making her move his furniture back into place. He will be leaving soon for Earth, along with Sisko, on the starship Lakota, although he's not sure what they can tell Starfleet about his people that hasn't already been in their reports.

Meanwhile, Sisko is talking via subspace to his father, Joseph Sisko, who is looking forward to a visit from his son and grandson. Sisko can see that his dad looks tired, but Joseph claims he feels as good as ever. After the communication ends, Jake enters, and is dismayed at the prospect of staying with Joseph in New Orleans. It means he'll have to chop vegetables at the restaurant.

O'Brien and Bashir come down from the holosuites, taking a break from the program in which they've been playing World War II-era RAF pilots. They're both worried about their homeworld. Quark understands perfectly, having been away from Ferenginar at the time of the Great Monetary Collapse. O'Brien and Bashir then catch Odo about to leave, and they chat a little; Odo admits he wishes they were coming along, as he doubts he'll exactly be popular on Earth.

The Lakota leaves. The wormhole seems to have stopped its antics, and Kira admits that she was kind of hoping it was a sign from the Prophets. Worf says the Klingons slew their own gods a millennium ago. "They were more trouble than they were worth."

Odo and Sisko arrive at Starfleet Headquarters to be greeted by Admiral Leyton and his adjutant, Commander Benteen. Leyton was once Sisko's commanding officer on the Okinawa, and now he's the head of Starfleet operations. They want to confer with the two of them, but Sisko guesses that they didn't bring him and Odo here for a mere debriefing. "Of course not," Leyton acknowledges. "Ben, Earth is in danger. Maybe the greatest danger it's faced since the last world war. Something has to be done about these shapeshifters." He announces that, effective immediately, Sisko is now the head of Starfleet security on Earth.

Sisko and Jake go to New Orleans and are reunited with Joseph at the restaurant. Sisko is a little suspicious of the fact that his father isn't eating with them; he's supposed to be keeping his weight up. But he reluctantly backs off. "Twenty-seven people murdered right here on Earth," Joseph muses sadly. "Never thought I'd see the day. But now that my son's on the case, I feel a lot better."

Then Nog comes in, in his cadet uniform, and they are reunited with him as well. Jake asks how things are at the Academy, but Nog avoids the subject. "It's a lot of work. Lots of classes, lots of studying. I'm doing okay." Finally, though, after Joseph closes the restaurant, Nog admits that the Academy is different than he thought it would be. Some of the cadets are rather standoffish, especially the upperclassmen. It's not just because he's a Ferengi; other freshmen have noticed it too. In particular, there is a group of top cadets called Red Squad who have been singled out for special training. Jake encouragingly says perhaps he'll get to join one of these days.

With Leyton, Sisko enters the office of the President of the Federation Council, Jaresh-Inyo, who says he understands the need for increased security; however, he's leery of the suggestion of blood screenings and phaser sweeps. He's not sure the Changeling threat is as serious as Starfleet believes. Sisko tells him there's no telling how much damage a Changeling could do, and Jaresh-Inyo replies that he sounds a little paranoid. "Do I?" asks Sisko. At that moment, Odo morphs from the shape of a briefcase that Sisko brought into the room. "Forgive the intrusion, Mr. President, but as you can see, Starfleet has every right to be concerned." There were no security measures in place to prevent his entry. Jaresh-Inyo seems to get the point, and Sisko presses his advantage. The blood screenings will be limited to Starfleet officers, their families, and high-ranking Federation officials. "The average citizen won't even notice the difference. I wish these security measures were not necessary. But the safety of Earth, and the entire Federation, depends on them."

Though Jaresh-Inyo sees the wisdom in this, he still isn't happy. "If I could think of another solution, I would use it. It took centuries for Earth to evolve into the peaceful haven it is today. I would hate to be remembered as the Federation President who destroyed paradise." "We're not looking to destroy paradise, Mr. President," Sisko tells him. "We're looking to save it."

Later, Odo submits to being a test subject, as a science officer tries out various settings for the phaser sweeps. New ceiling phaser units will be installed in every room at Starfleet and Federation headquarters. Benteen goes off to implement the changes, as Nog enters the room, which is Sisko's new temporary office. He wants to join Red Squad, and is hoping Sisko can help. Sisko, who has never heard of Red Squad, finally agrees to see what he can do.

Sisko goes home for a chat with his father, which turns into another lecture on his health. Meanwhile, Odo lands after taking an aerial tour of San Francisco in the form of a seagull. Benteen and Leyton are there, and talk to him a little. Benteen is friendly enough, but for some reason Leyton is rather cold. "I doubt that other Changelings are wasting their time imitating birds. They don't all share Odo's lack of skill when it comes to mimicking humans." "That's right, they don't," Odo agrees evenly, sensing something wrong. "I'm glad you're keeping that in mind." After Leyton dismisses him and starts to walk on, Odo stops him, making a point of thanking him for the trust he's been shown. He insists on shaking hands, and as he does so, forces a link. Leyton is a Changeling. "Well done, Odo," the ersatz admiral says mockingly, and escapes, morphing into a bird.

The real Leyton hears about the incident not long afterwards. "The bottom line is," says Benteen, "a Changeling infiltrated the grounds of Starfleet Headquarters, imitated the admiral, and got away scot-free. Our security measures aren't working." They consider talking to Jaresh-Inyo about letting them institute more stringent procedures. "I'm afraid that would be a waste of time," Leyton says. "Jaresh-Inyo would be a fine president in peacetime. But we have a war on our hands, and he doesn't seem to understand that. All he cares about is not upsetting people. But humans are tougher than he thinks. We've created a paradise here and we're willing to fight to protect it." At that moment, Jake calls his dad to give him some startling news. Joseph Sisko has been arrested.

Sisko arrives at his father's restaurant to find Jake, two Starfleet security officers, and a furious Joseph. It seems the security officers tried to give him a blood screening, and he refused, even though all family members of Starfleet personnel are supposed to undergo them without exception. Sisko signed the orders himself. He and Jake both have their blood tested to show Joseph it's okay, but Joseph is adamant, and chops vegetables as Sisko tries to reason with him. "Dad, if we test the family members of one Starfleet officer, we must test them all." "You may want to test everyone," Joseph retorts, "but that doesn't mean we all have to cooperate. I didn't take an oath to Starfleet. Neither did Jake, or your sister, or anyone in your family. We have rights, Ben, including the right to be as stubborn or thickheaded as we want."

Getting frustrated, Sisko pleads with him. "Just one time, please do what you're asked." "I wish I could," Joseph says. "But what you're asking me to do is wrong. You can't go around making people prove they are who they say they are. That's no way to live, and I'm not going to go along with it." He is still arguing when he accidentally cuts his finger. And Sisko can't help himself. He looks at the blood on the knife. It stays red.

"Benjamin Lafayette Sisko," rages his father. "What the hell has gotten into your head? You actually thought I was one of them, didn't you?" "I don't know -- I wasn't sure," Sisko admits, shaken as he faces up to his own paranoia. "This business has gotten you so twisted around, you can't think straight," Joseph accuses. "You're seeing shapeshifters everywhere. Maybe you ought to think about something for a minute. If I was a smart shapeshifter, a really good one, the first thing I would do would be to grab some poor soul off the street, absorb every ounce of his blood, then let it out on cue whenever someone like you tried to test me. Don't you see? There isn't a test that's been created a smart man can't find his way around." He is still talking angrily when suddenly his body seizes up in pain, and he crumples to the floor.

Sisko tells Odo a little later that his father will be okay; it was a mild stroke. "What bothers me is that for a few minutes there, I really believed that my own father was a Changeling." Odo says this was a reasonable assumption under the circumstances, but Sisko isn't reassured. "When a son can't trust his own father -- " "That's why my people came here," says Odo. "To undermine the trust and mutual understanding the Federation is built on." Their precautions may turn out to be useless, but Odo argues that they can't give up. "My people are here, and you've got to fight them with whatever you've got." "I hope you won't take this the wrong way, Constable," Sisko says, "but there are times I wish you'd never found your people." "Believe me, Captain," Odo replies quietly, "sometimes I feel the same way."

Joseph is back at work in the restaurant, but sits down for a moment with Jake. They are talking when suddenly the lights dim and flicker out. Jake looks out and finds that the whole block is dark. But it's not just that one block in New Orleans -- the planet's entire power relay system has been knocked offline. Odo and Leyton tell Sisko they're convinced it's sabotage. The planet is defenseless. "If the Dominion attacks now, we don't stand a chance," Leyton says.

They beam into the President's office, using the transporters of the Lakota, and ask Jaresh-Inyo to declare a state of emergency. Jaresh-Inyo says there hasn't been one declared on Earth in a century, except for the Borg incident. But Sisko has reason to believe a Dominion war fleet may be headed here: the wormhole's recent unexplained activity. The Dominion may have acquired cloaking technology and used it to come through into the Alpha Quadrant. Leyton says they can use the Lakota's transporters and communications system to mobilize every Starfleet officer on Earth. He can start placing troops in the streets immediately. "What you're asking me to do is declare martial law," says Jaresh-Inyo. "What I'm asking you to do," Leyton counters urgently, "is let us defend this planet. We don't know what the Changelings will do next, but we have to be ready for them."

"Sir," Sisko tells the President, "the thought of filling the streets with armed troops is as disturbing to me as it is to you. But not as disturbing as the thought of a Jem'Hadar army landing on Earth without opposition. The Jem'Hadar are the most brutal and efficient soldiers I've ever encountered. They don't care about the conventions of war, or protecting civilians. They won't limit themselves to military targets. They'll be waging the kind of war Earth hasn't seen since the founding of the Federation." Jaresh-Inyo is still troubled. He's a peaceful man who never would have run for this office if he had expected to have to deal with this kind of thing. "Mr. President," Odo urges, "there are people all over this planet right now huddled in the dark, terrified about what might happen next. They're waiting for a sign, something to reassure them that everything will be all right. But they won't wait long. Fear is a powerful and dangerous thing. And if you don't act, if you don't show them that they're not alone, then fear will surely take over." Finally, reluctantly, Jaresh-Inyo gives them his authorization. "Earth is in your hands, gentlemen. Do what needs to be done."

In New Orleans, Jake calls his grandfather to look out the window. Starfleet troops are materializing in the street, with more beaming in as they watch.

To be continued...

  • The "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" two-parter had originally been written as a cliffhanger to end the third season and begin the fourth. It was delayed when the studio and producers decided to introduce the Klingon element into the show with "The Way of the Warrior".
  • The Tillman Water Reclamation plant in Van Nuys, California doubled for the grounds of Starfleet Headquarters.