Production no.: 506
written by Michael Taylor
directed by LeVar Burton
stardate not given
First satellite airdate: November 16, 1996
Marc Alaimo ................
Victor Bevine ...............
Andrew J. Robinson ......
Kurtwood Smith ............
Brenan Baird ................
Louahn Lowe ...............
A runabout heads away from Bajor and back to DS9, with Sisko, Dax, Odo, and Garak aboard. They are going home after a conference on the Occupation. Garak (recently released from prison) is grumbling about the way he was treated when he was only trying to provide an "opposing philosophical view". "I thought the Bajorans bent over backwards to be polite to you, Garak," says Sisko. But Garak is not mollified. "Giving me a name tag that read, 'Elim Garak, former Cardassian oppressor' was hardly polite." He thinks the Bajorans are only interested in promoting the mythology of the "glorious Resistance".
"Odo wasn't a member of the Resistance, and he managed to attract a fair amount of attention," Dax notes. Garak agrees that Odo seemed to have "quite a fan club". "Don't let him get to you, Odo," Dax says. "You should be proud of what you did during the Occupation." Odo, who has been rather quiet, replies, "I have nothing to be proud of. I tried to bring order to a chaotic situation, that's all." Sisko thinks he's being overly modest. "Keeping order during the Occupation would be a tough job for anyone. But you not only did it, you did it by earning the trust of both sides." Odo, however, does not seem reassured; in fact, he seems troubled, but no one picks up on it.
Sometime later, in Ops, a Bajoran officer notifies Worf that the runabout is approaching the station. But they aren't responding to their docking-clearance hail, and there are unusual EM signatures along their hull. The runabout is on auto-pilot; the four lifesigns aboard are very weak. Worf, concerned, has the runabout tractored into transporter range. He, Bashir, and a security guard beam onto the runabout and find all four occupants comatose.
Sisko wakes to find himself slumped against a wall on the Promenade, the other three nearby, unconscious. The Promenade looks different, darker and grimmer, with armed Cardassian soldiers watching Bajoran slave workers going to and fro. Somehow, he and the others seem to have time-traveled back to the Occupation; yet their clothing has changed to that of Bajoran mine workers. Suddenly someone grabs Sisko's arm and yanks him to his feet. It's a Bajoran man named Belar, who roughly rousts the others as well. "Show some dignity. Look at you -- no wonder the Cardassians think we're animals."
He moves off as the four of them struggle to get their bearings. Odo is particularly unsteady. None of them know what happened, but they know they have to get out from under the eyes of the Cardassian soldiers. Sisko and Garak support Odo as they head toward a safer location.
Unknown to them, their bodies are actually in the infirmary, on biobeds. Bashir notes that their level of neural activity suggests that their conscious minds are active, but there is no response to external stimuli. Worf tells him there were indications that the runabout was irradiated by a class 2 plasma storm. Yet the computer does not know of any causal relationship between plasma storms and the kind of neural activity the patients are exhibiting, although there are many medical records on space plasma phenomena. "It would appear that a common phenomenon has had an uncommon effect on our people."
At an abandoned kiosk, Sisko and the others discuss their odd situation. Their change of clothes seems to rule out mere time travel, and they don't seem to be in a holosuite. "Humans, Trills and Changelings didn't just stroll through Terok Nor unnoticed," notes Sisko, yet no one is giving them a second glance, even Garak, a Cardassian in the Bajoran sector. They can only conclude that everyone else sees them as Bajorans. The conversation turns to what happened to put them here, but not even Dax has any viable theories. Odo urges them all to get off the station. Garak suggests going to the authorities, but Odo says, "Captain, the authorities on Terok Nor will not be looking for reasons to help us. They will be looking for a reason to interrogate us, and believe me, you do not want to be interrogated by the Cardassians." Sisko agrees.
Dax spots Dukat on the second level, talking with another Cardassian, and they decide to move on. As he follows, Odo glances up, and is startled to see Dukat and the other Cardassian looking straight at him. Then he bumps into a Bajoran man with a phaser burn in the middle of his chest; the man says nothing but simply gazes at Odo, his eyes dead, his face that of a corpse. Shaken, Odo catches up to the others, who ask who that was. "I don't know." "You should," says Garak. "It was your predecessor." Odo realizes they mean the Cardassian who was talking to Dukat: Thrax, who was in charge of security on the Promenade before him. This seems to indicate they're at least nine years in the past.
Without warning, the four of them are flanked by two Cardassian soldiers, one of whom orders Dax to come with them. "What's she done?" demands Sisko, and the soldier says, "Nothing, yet." Garak steps up and attempts to bribe the soldiers, but they look up toward Dukat, who is watching them. The soldier who spoke then punches Garak in the face, dropping him. "Tempting offer. Maybe next time. This one's been selected." "I'll be all right," Dax says quickly; the three men watch helplessly as she is dragged away.
In the infirmary, Worf calls Bashir's attention to Garak. There is a thin stream of blood trickling from the Cardassian's nose. Bashir observes that there seems to have been some unusual activity in Garak's delta waves at the moment his septial capillaries burst. He guesses that it might be the result of a psychosomatic response. "But what is causing all this?" Worf asks. Bashir answers, "At the risk of repeating myself, I just don't know."
Next to the fence separating the Bajoran section from the rest of the Promenade, Sisko wonders what Dax's being "selected" means. Odo says it could be anything; Garak thinks that first they need to find out who they're supposed to be. He happens to have pickpocketed a comp-link from the soldier who hit him. In a slightly more private area, Garak works the device, using one of his high-level security codes. "If my nose didn't hurt so much, I'd tell you a fascinating story about how I came to possess it."
Using the device, Garak determines that Sisko is a 38-year-old Bajoran electronics engineer named Ishan Chaye. As for himself, Garak is a 55-year-old artist named Jillur Gueta. Then Garak starts to check on Odo, who unexpectedly interrupts, his eyes haunted. "I'm a bookkeeper. Forty-six years old. I have a wife and two sons in Rakantha Province. And my name is Timor Landi." Sisko and Garak, astonished, ask how he knows that, but as Odo is struggling with how to answer, Quark's voice interrupts.
"Congratulations, gentlemen. You get to work today. And you'll be laboring in the finest establishment on the station. My establishment. Twelve hours of work, two five minute breaks, one slip of latinum each. Let's go." When they aren't quick enough for Quark's tastes, the Ferengi turns sarcastic and condescending. Reluctantly, the three follow him towards the bar. "How much damage would it do to the timeline if Quark were to suffer a mysterious accident?" Odo asks Sisko, who replies, "I'm not sure. But maybe we should conduct a little experiment and find out."
Dax is brought into the presence of Dukat, who asks her name. Thinking quickly, she tells him it's Leeta. She does her best to play the part of a frightened Bajoran woman, and obediently turns around so Dukat can look her over. "She'll do," Dukat tells the soldier, who leaves. Dukat has Dax pour them both some kanar, then notices that she's trembling. "Despite what you may have heard, I'm a fair man, Leeta. Rest assured, you have nothing to fear from me. I did not bring you here to be abused." "Then why am I here?" Dax asks. Dukat commences posturing, talking about how lonely his position is, and about how he needs a "friend". "Ironic, isn't it? That I should choose a simple Bajoran girl to share my inner thoughts with. But as you get to know me, Leeta, I think you'll find that I'm a complicated man." Dax plays along. "You're different than I imagined." "To the beginning of your education," he smiles, lifting his glass.
Sisko, Odo, and Garak are working as Quark's cleanup crew after hours. Garak comments in a low voice to Sisko that he remembers the Occupation as being a bit more tidy. "The Bajorans were much more suited for this sort of thing than we were. Servile work is in their nature." "I'll remember to mention that to Major Kira when we get back," Sisko replies drily, to which Garak says, "There are exceptions to every rule." Odo, a little way off, looks up and sees three Bajorans -- Ishan, Jillur, and Timor -- walking along the Promenade, looking like corpses with phaser burns in their chests; all of them stare silently at Odo as they pass in slow motion. The eerie vision makes Odo nearly drop the tray he's carrying. As Sisko and Garak join him, he looks up again; the three men are gone.
When Sisko asks if Odo's all right, Odo gives him an excuse about the smell of the dirty dishes making him sick. Sisko takes the opportunity to inquire how Odo knew his persona's name was Timor Landi. Hesitantly at first, Odo replies, "I recognized the other two names from the security files kept during the Occupation. Timor, Ishan and Jillur were the names of three Bajorans who were accused of attempting to assassinate Gul Dukat on the Promenade." "Half the Resistance tried to kill Dukat," Sisko notes. But Odo says, "These three were innocent. However, no one knew that at the time, and Dukat wanted to make an example of them. So he had them led out onto the Promenade, and publicly executed." Garak and Sisko instantly realize what this means. "If we're them," says Sisko, "we'd better find a way out of here, before Dukat makes an example out of us."
They are still working when Thrax comes in and starts badgering Quark about a visit the bartender had this morning from a Talavian freighter captain named Livara, who is a known smuggler. Quark plays innocent, telling Thrax that Livara came here to try to unload a shipment of maraji crystals, but he doesn't have a market for them, so he sent the captain on his way. Thrax warns Quark that if he finds out he's been dealing in illegal crystals, he'll hand Quark to the Order himself.
"I see you're not the first man around here to keep Quark on his toes," Sisko remarks to Odo. However, Garak has been surreptitiously checking something on the comp-link, and he has found a discrepancy. Captain Livara happens to have been a Romulan spy who didn't start working in this sector until seven years ago. But seven years ago, Odo was the security chief, not Thrax. Looking at the date, Garak has confirmed that this is indeed seven years ago. Thrax shouldn't be here. "None of this any makes sense, Garak," Odo retorts. "Now I suggest we concentrate on finding a way out of here. That's our priority." They can all agree on that, but the question is how. Sisko remembers a signal Kira told him about that the Resistance used to set up meetings.
After they're released from Quark's and back in the Bajoran ghetto, Sisko makes the signal, which consists of turning a vase upside down on a shop counter before they head for the soup kitchen to eat and wait. There, they catch sight of Dukat entering the Bajoran ghetto with Dax. Sisko is relieved to see she's all right at least. Garak sneers at Dukat. "Just another swaggering, self-important Gul with too much vanity and not enough ability." "Maybe, but he's no fool," Sisko observes, seeing the guards on the upper level.
Odo is about to eat a spoonful of soup when he gets a glimpse of his hands. They're both covered in blood. He drops his spoon in shock. When Sisko asks if he's all right, the blood is gone. Shaken, Odo says the spoon just slipped out of his hand. At that moment, they are joined by Belar. Sisko tells him they need to get off this station; Belar is harsh. "We're not a commuter service. If you're running from a dispute over chemicals or women or smuggling, you're on your own. If you've killed one of the spoonheads...that's a different matter." They are still talking when suddenly there is an explosion a short way away.
Dukat and Dax are both lying unconscious and injured on the deck. Instinctively, Sisko rushes over to Dax. "Captain, no!" Odo shouts, but it's futile, and he's forced to chase after Sisko. Belar discreetly exits, while Garak attempts to do so as well. As Sisko is checking Dax, Odo grabs him, almost in a panic. "We can't stay. They'll take care of her, but we must go!" It's too late. A squad of Cardassians slam them to the ground. Garak is caught too.
The three of them are put together in a holding cell. Thrax comes in with a PADD to read off the sentences the various prisoners are facing. He comes to the cell with Odo, Sisko, and Garak. Addressing them as Timor, Ishan, Jillur, he notes the crime they're accused of, attempting to murder Gul Dukat with a chambered plasma grenade. Sisko protests that there were witnesses who saw them eating at a table when the grenade went off, but Thrax counters that none have come forward.
"Why should the witnesses risk their lives for three strangers?" Odo asks. "They're out there, but you have to go look for them." Thrax, however, notes the various items of evidence against them. Traces of a plasma grenade component were found on them (the stuff is also a cleaning solution that they were using in Quark's); they all have ties to the Bajoran underground (who doesn't by now?); and according to the guards' reports, they were found over Dukat's body, trying to strangle him. "Interrogate the troops yourself," Odo pleads. "Don't just take their report at face value." He urges Thrax to run a ballistic analysis, which will show that the grenade couldn't have come from their position. But as far as Thrax is concerned, the case is closed; there is sufficient evidence for conviction. Odo argues that it's all circumstantial. "Go beneath the surface. Conduct a real investigation!" "This investigation is over. Your case is going before a special tribunal this afternoon. You will be informed of the sentence just before it meets." Thrax turns and leaves, ignoring Odo's desperate plea to talk to him alone for a moment.
Dukat and Dax are back in his office, after being treated; he says he feels better than the last time. It's his fourth assassination attempt. "Maybe you should find another job," Dax says innocently, and he chuckles. "Maybe I should." He observes her eating, which she says she doesn't get to do like this often. Dukat claims he has wanted to increase rations to the Bajorans for some time, but the Resistance makes it impossible. "You really want to help my people, don't you?" Dax says, still playing along. "Yes, of course," he replies, going to the window. "The Bajorans are -- well, they're like my children, I suppose. And like any father, I want only what's best for them...Bad manners are the fault of the parent, not the child. My weakness is I'm too generous, too forgiving. My heart is too big." Dax comes up behind him and knocks him unconscious. "And so is your ego," she mutters, getting to work on the computer.
In the cell, Garak is practicing his spiel while Odo stares despondently at the floor. Sisko, however, has been thinking. "Tell me about Thrax," he asks Odo, suddenly. "...Something about his background. He seems unusual. Doesn't have that casual brutality I've come to expect from Cardassian security officers. What makes Thrax different?" "I wouldn't know," Odo replies. "He was gone by the time I came aboard the station." Sisko pounces on that. "Which brings up a good point. Why is he here now? Garak said that you were the security chief during this time."
Odo is uncharacteristically evasive. "You're implying that I should know the answers, that I'm holding back information." "I'm saying that maybe you know more than you think you do," says Sisko. "You lived here, on Terok Nor. You're supposed to be out there now instead of Thrax. Think, Odo. There might be some connection between you and what's happening here." Odo says he doesn't know.
Before Sisko can press further, there is a small explosion that blows a hole in the wall of the cell. Dax looks in. "Miss me?" she grins. The three men follow her out; they all head for Dukat's personal shuttle. Dax says, "I've got their computer tied up in knots. I don't think they'll be able to -- " But at that moment, Thrax and two soldiers cut them off. Dax fires her phaser and kills one of the guards; the other wounds her. The fight progresses. Sisko is engaged in combat with Thrax, and is getting the upper hand when suddenly Thrax actually morphs and slithers through a vent.
"A Changeling?" exclaims Garak. "We'll figure that out later," Sisko says. They step into the airlock, only to inexplicably find themselves back in the cell, all four of them. "We just got the word," the soldier who "selected" Dax tells them. "Your execution's been scheduled for nineteen hundred. That's two hours from now." He leaves.
Odo paces as the others talk over this development. How can Thrax be a Changeling when the Founders don't know about the wormhole yet? How did they end up back in the cell? Sisko, Garak, and Dax are all beginning to think that all this has something to do with Odo, and his disavowals of all knowledge only increase their suspicions. "You've been acting strangely ever since we first woke up on the Promenade," Sisko points out. "Continually distracted, depressed and agitated." He and Garak both remind Odo that he knew the details of the case like he was there, yet he couldn't have been. "Everything seems to lead back to you and I want to know why," says Sisko. At that moment, Thrax appears. "You said you wanted to see me?" he says to Odo, who is actually relieved, and follows him out.
In the security office, Odo tells Thrax, "You're about to make a very serious mistake." Thrax is skeptical. "Because you're innocent, of course. All of you." Odo tells him to compare this attack with recent bombings on Bajor; there have been four very similar incidents which he and the others could not have been involved with. Thrax, however, replies that that proves nothing, and under Cardassian law, the burden of proof is on the accused. Therefore, the investigation is over. Odo insists that Thrax's job is to find the truth, not obtain convictions.
Thrax locks eyes with him. "You want the truth? All right. The truth is that none of you would be accused, none of you would even be here if the Bajorans weren't fighting the Cardassians. It's futile. The Occupation has lasted for fifty years, and it will probably last another fifty." He contends that things would be easier on the Bajorans if they simply accepted "their place in history". It's like talking to a wall, but Odo keeps trying. "We are talking about the attempt on Gul Dukat's life, not the socio-political ramifications of the Resistance," he points out, but Thrax is unmoved. "It's all part of the same problem. When your people resort to terrorism and violence, they're fighting against order, against stability, against the rule of law, and this must be stopped." "There is more to life than the rule of law," Odo argues. Thrax replies coldly, "It has been my observation that only the guilty make that kind of statement."
Odo decides he has no choice but to tell the truth, even though he doesn't know what the consequences will be. "We are not terrorists. We're not even Bajorans. There's been a temporal displacement of some kind. We don't belong in this time. We're from the future." Astonishingly, Thrax doesn't bat an eye. "I know," he says simply. Odo stares at him. "You know? Then what are you going to do about it?" "What I am supposed to do," Thrax says. "Nothing more, nothing less. The question is, what are you going to do...Odo?"
Suddenly Odo is on the second level of the Promenade, looking at one of the crossover bridges, where Sisko, Garak, and Dax are lined up, hands bound, about to be executed. Thrax tells Odo it's out of his hands. On a nearby balcony, Dukat is making a speech. Odo is desperate to end this nightmare, to correct what he knows is about to happen. "They haven't done anything! They don't belong here!" "It's already happened, Odo," Thrax tells him. "But this isn't what happened!" Odo insists. "It wasn't these people." No one pays attention. A soldier takes out his phaser and aims at Sisko.
"No! I'm not going to let this happen! Not again!" Odo finally takes action. He knocks the phaser out of the soldier's hand, and faces Thrax. "You can't execute them. You don't even belong here! I do."
Things change again. Odo is standing alone, with Sisko, Dax, and Garak nearby; all of them are in their normal clothing. On another crossover bridge, they see Dukat with the Cardassian soldiers, and the three prisoners, Timor, Ishan, and Jillur, who one by one are shot and killed. Nearby, watching with detachment, is another Odo, wearing Thrax's uniform. After the prisoners are dead, the Cardassians fade away, as does the other Odo.
"That's exactly how it happened seven years ago," Odo explains heavily, staring at the spot. The darkest secret of his past is now laid bare. "It was you all along?" asks Sisko. "Yes," Odo admits. "I was chief of security on the Promenade. I was the one who charged those men with a crime they didn't commit. And I was the one who turned them over to Dukat." He says that three days after the executions, there was another bombing on the Promenade. It was identical to the one that almost killed Dukat. "Timor, Ishan and Jillur were innocent. All the evidence was there -- the inconsistencies in the reports of the soldiers who arrested them, a pattern of bombings, the ballistics -- it was all there from the beginning. But I was too busy, too concerned with maintaining order, and the rule of law. I thought of myself as the outsider, the shapeshifter who cared for nothing but justice. It never occurred to me that I could fail. But I did. And I never wanted anyone to know the truth: that seven years ago, I allowed three innocent men to die."
At that moment, Sisko, Dax, and Garak vanish. And Odo finds himself in the infirmary, waking up alongside the others.
Two days later, Bashir visits Odo in the security office to give him a PADD. He has figured out more or less what happened. The four of them were locked into a version of the Great Link. Though Odo is human now, Bashir has found residual traces of morphogenic enzymes in his brain; apparently they were activated by the plasma storm, initiating a telepathic response. Odo's mind instinctively reached out for other changelings, to form the Link, but all it could find were Sisko, Dax, and Garak. "And just before the accident, I was thinking about the executions," Odo realizes. "Somehow being in the Link must have forced me to relive it, and admit the truth of what I'd done." "It would make a fascinating paper," Bashir says; Odo gives him a dark look. "Although I don't intend to write one," the doctor adds quickly.
Kira appears in the doorway, and Bashir makes a graceful exit. This was not a moment Odo was looking forward to, as he faces the disappointment in her eyes. Kira says that when she read the report, she was stunned. She tried giving it time to sink in, but it's been two days now. "I still don't know what to think." "I'm guilty," Odo replies, painfully. "What more is there to say?"
"Maybe nothing," she says. "Maybe a lot. I believed in you. A lot of people did. You were special. You were the one man who stood apart from everyone else, the one man who stood for justice. Now what?" "Now, I'm just another imperfect solid," he answers. Kira finally nods. "Okay. The Prophets know I'm not perfect. I guess the truth is that anyone who lived through the Occupation had to get a little dirty. But I need to know that no other innocent people died on your watch, Odo. That this was the only time." But Odo can't give her the promise she wants. He can only tell her honestly, "I'm not sure. I hope so."