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Return to Grace

Production no.: 486
Teleplay by: Hans Beimler
Story by: Tom Benko
Directed by: Jonathan West
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: February 3, 1996
Marc Alaimo .....
Cyia Batten .......
Casey Biggs ......
John K. Shull .....

Kira undergoes a series of inoculations in preparation to go to a Cardassian outpost and share Bajoran intelligence about the Klingons. It was a mission she reluctantly undertook after being wined and dined into it by Shakaar. She's packing later in her quarters when the door chimes. It's Gul Dukat, who is now commander of the Groumall, the freighter on which she will be traveling to the meeting on Korma.

Dukat informs her that thanks to his having brought his half-Bajoran daughter, Ziyal, home to Cardassia with him, he is no longer chief military advisor to the Detepa Council. His mother has disowned him, and his wife has left him and taken their children. Now he is relegated to ferrying freight and the occasional foreign dignitary, such as Kira. "Look, if it makes you feel better to blame me, go right ahead," says Kira, but Dukat tells her, "I blame no one but myself. I was indiscreet. I compromised myself and have been punished accordingly. If someone under my command had behaved so outrageously, I would do the same thing to him. Besides, I assure you, this is only a temporary setback. Everything I have lost, I will regain. It's only a matter of time."

Once the Groumall is underway, Kira is surprised to learn that Ziyal is aboard. Ziyal did not have an easy time on Cardassia, but she is happy to be with her father. "Wherever he goes, I go. He's the only family I have. And this is the only home I need." Their conversation is interrupted by a battle drill; Dukat still feels the need to run them even though this is only a freighter. He snaps at Kira when she makes a suggestion, but makes amends by offering to dine together. Kira agrees. During their dinner, Dukat says he's glad Kira convinced him not to kill Ziyal. He regrets nothing when it comes to her. The conversation turns to Kira's current romance with Shakaar; Dukat casually notes Shakaar's reputation with the ladies, and observes that she seems to like powerful men, which is all the more incentive for him to gain his position back.

Dukat's second-in-command, Damar, notifies him that they're approaching Korma, or what's left of it. The outpost has been destroyed, with no survivors. A Klingon bird-of-prey decloaks nearby, scans them, and to Dukat's surprise, simply turns and heads away. Obviously the Groumall is not important enough to bother attacking. Insulted, Dukat wants to fire on them; Kira argues that they can't go up against a bird-of-prey, but Dukat orders an attack anyway. The Groumall's phasers barely even singe the Klingon ship, which simply ignores them and goes to warp.

"I suppose, from their point of view, there's no honor in destroying a worthless freighter," Dukat muses, crestfallen. "I have to inform Central Command. These Klingons have been operating behind our lines with impunity. Someone has got to stop them...someone else." Kira, though, figures that by the time Central Command can send anyone, the Klingons will be long gone. She suggests going after the Klingons themselves, after repairing one of the disruptors from the destroyed outpost and altering it to fit the Groumall. They can do it if they put it in the cargo hold, an idea Dukat doesn't like at first. But Kira tells him he needs to start thinking like a resistance fighter.

The modifications are made, and the first test of the disruptor is successful, with Kira taking over the weapons station. Of course, some of the Groumall's relays are damaged in the process. Dukat doesn't let that bring him down. "When we do destroy that bird of prey, it will no doubt go a long way toward restoring my reputation. And I have you to thank for it." "I'm trying not to think about that," Kira says. She makes it clear that she's only helping him because the Klingons killed 15 Bajoran diplomats. Cardassians were killed as well, but all Dukat cares about is redeeming himself. "You have seen an opportunity for advancement and you are grabbing it." "You judge me too harshly," Dukat counters. "Maybe I am seeking to regain my former position, one which I earned through hard work, dedication and sacrifice. But redemption is not my sole motivation. I care about my people, and I don't intend to allow the Klingons to get away with murdering them." He makes a few gratuitous remarks about Shakaar as well. "If you want to keep working with me, I suggest you stick to business," says Kira.

Later, she helps Ziyal pick out a weapon to train with. Ziyal perceives that Kira doesn't like her father much; Kira admits that she doesn't. The girl acknowledges that her father did some bad things during the Occupation, but says it bothers him; he has told her the Occupation was a mistake. "Somehow I don't think he'd say that if the Cardassians had won," remarks Kira. "Maybe not," says Ziyal. "But maybe losing made him a better person." "Then a lot of innocent people died for his education," Kira replies. Ziyal admits that she thinks about that a lot. "But when I look at my father, I have a hard time seeing a murderer." "And when I look at him, I have a hard time seeing anything else," says Kira.

"My father says that the two of you have a lot in common," Ziyal tells her. "That you both did things during the war that you regret. That's why he cares so much about what you think of him." "Ziyal," Kira says, "what your father wants from me is forgiveness. That's one thing I can never give him."

Kira and Dukat consider various Cardassian bases that might be the next target of the Klingon bird-of-prey; Dukat decides that it must be Loval. It's a long way from the Cardassian fleet, a civilian outpost that also happens to house a weapons research installation. Kira begins formulating a plan to get the Klingons to decloak, by making them think the Groumall has valuable cargo aboard. Dukat can have Damar modify things so that the ship will give off a false signal indicating the presence of refined dilithium crystal. They head for Loval.

The Groumall arrives there, and doesn't detect the Klingon ship yet. Dukat daydreams aloud about when he gets his position back, and a certain gul he'd like to bring down. Finally the Klingon ship decloaks, and begins scanning them. They lock disruptors and hail them. Dukat tells the Klingon captain, K'Temang, that the Groumall is carrying replicator and transporter parts to the Dopa system. K'Temang says he's confiscating the ship and its cargo, and the bird-of-prey locks a tractor beam on them. Dukat gives the order to fire; they breach the Klingons' hull. The bird-of-prey is now adrift, but fires back with phasers. Dukat decides to improvise.

With Kira, Dukat beams onto the Klingon ship, and they kill four crewmembers. Kira then goes to work on a panel, using Klingon transporter codes. As K'Temang orders his men to fire again on the Groumall, he and all the other Klingons are beamed over to the freighter. Dukat's crew are now all aboard the Klingon ship. "I can just imagine that Klingon captain explaining this to his superiors," Kira comments, but Dukat says, "He won't get the opportunity." He fires, destroying the Groumall. "Was that necessary?" she demands. "You're the terrorist," Dukat replies. "You tell me."

Damar and Ziyal report the rest of the ship secured, while Kira looks through the computer and finds that it contains the target priorities of all Klingon raiders in Cardassian space. Jubilant, Dukat has Damar contact the chairman of the Detepa Council, rerouting it to the captain's quarters.

As repairs are being completed, Dukat comes back to the bridge, dejected. The Detepa Council has ordered him not to engage the Klingons in any further conflict; they're looking for a diplomatic solution. He has his post back, but to him there's no point in being military advisor to a government that won't fight. "There was a time when the mere mention of my race inspired fear. And now we're a beaten people, afraid to fight back because we don't want to lose what little is left." "That's not the Cardassians I know," Kira remarks. "What Cardassians?" Dukat asks. "Don't you see, Major? They're paralyzed. They're beaten and defeated. I am the only Cardassian left. And if no one else will stand against the Klingons, I will."

Kira tells him he can't go to war against the Klingon empire with one bird-of-prey. It's not the same as when the Bajorans fought the Cardassians; Dukat will be alone with his crew. However, he thinks perhaps he will be able to inspire others to join. And then Dukat surprises her by saying he needs her -- her knowledge, skills, and contacts. "I've already got a job," Kira says. "What do you mean, on that space station?" Dukat says scornfully. "We both know your talents are being wasted there. Coordinating docking assignments and leading training exercises. On Deep Space Nine, you're nothing but a bureaucrat, an administrator. If you come with me, you can be a soldier again. Think about it, Major. The chance to fight against a superior foe in a righteous cause, to protect a defeated and broken people from a cruel aggressor. You know as well as I do that if Cardassia falls, Bajor is next. Help me stop the Klingons before you become their next target."

"You're really serious about this," Kira observes. "Absolutely," he says. "Look, Major, I'm not asking you to like me, or to be my friend. I'm asking you to join me. To fight at my side. You know what I'm doing is right. And it's what you want to do as well." He goes on trying to persuade her until Damar enters to report that the navigational system and cloaking device are repaired.

Kira is headed for the bridge later when Ziyal comes up to her. She wants to try out a knife combat trick Damar showed her. However, Kira easily defeats her. Ziyal accepts this as a learning opportunity. "Fighting the Klingons is going to take more than knowing how to fire a rifle or use a knife," Kira tells her. "You have to learn to be ruthless. You have to learn to hate the Klingons even more than you hated the Breen." "Whatever it takes, I will do it," Ziyal says. "But I'm going to need your help." Kira's choice is made. "You're right," she says. "You do need my help."

When Kira finally tells Dukat her decision, he is disappointed. "Tell me, were you even tempted?" "Not really," Kira says. "...The fact of the matter is, I've already been where you're going. I've lived the life you're choosing. Fighting hit and run, always outgunned, living on hate and adrenalin. It's not much of a life. And it eats away at you so that every day a little bit of you dies." But she sees that Dukat is committed. There's only one matter she wants to settle: Ziyal. "The life you're choosing isn't for her. She deserves better."

"She deserves to be with her father," says Dukat. "You taught me that. I love her." "I know you do," Kira replies. "And that's why you've got to let her go." She offers to take Ziyal to live on DS9. "Why?" asks Dukat. "Why do you care so much?" Kira tells him the truth. "Because she reminds me of myself. And I don't want her to go through what I went through. And neither do you."

To the surprise of DS9's officers, the Klingon ship decloaks nearby, and they're even more surprised when Dukat hails them. Dukat and Ziyal say their goodbyes on the bridge; he also tells Kira, "Well, Major, it appears that whether you like it or not, our lives have become deeply intertwined." "That really pleases you, doesn't it?" Kira asks. Dukat smiles. "Pleases me? Major, it gives me reason to live."

And soon Kira stands on the Promenade with Ziyal, introducing her to her new life.