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What You Leave Behind

Production no.: 749
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by: Allan Kroeker
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: May 29, 1999
Rosalind Chao ................
Jeffrey Combs ................
Salome Jens ...................
Penny Johnson ...............
Andrew J. Robinson .......
Casey Biggs ...................
Marc Alaimo ..................
Aron Eisenberg ..............
J.G. Hertzler ..................
Barry Jenner ..................
Deborah Lacey ..............
Julianna McCarthy ..........
Hana Hatae ...................
James Darren .................
Louise Fletcher ...............
Mel Johnson Jr. ..............
Greg Ellis .......................
Cyndi Pass .....................
Kevin Scott Allen ...........
Christopher Halsted ........
Judi Durand ....................
Female Changeling
Admiral Ross
Sarah Alien
Vic Fontaine
Kai Winn
Jem'Hadar First
Cardassian Computer Voice

Bashir wakes up with Ezri, after a night together on the eve of the final attack on the Dominion. After some pillow talk, they both vow to make it home alive. Meanwhile, O'Brien is about to leave his family for work, as if it's just another day. Keiko asks if he's told Julian about Starfleet's offer yet; he says he hasn't had time. Molly takes this as meaning they're not going back to Earth after all. Her father says of course they are; he's going to teach at the Academy after the war's over. He'll tell Julian when he think's he's ready to hear it.

In the Siskos' quarters, Kasidy, suffering the throes of morning sickness, asks her husband to promise to come back to her and the baby. He does, after which she flees to the bathroom again. Jake arrives to walk with his father to the Defiant. And on the Promenade, Odo joins Worf on his way there, hoping against hope that they'll find Kira alive and well.

On the bridge of the Defiant, Sisko addresses the crew he has worked with for years and come to think of as a family. "All right, people, what do you say we end this war?" Then the Defiant joins a huge fleet of Federation, Klingon and Romulan ships, headed for Cardassia: the final assault of the Alpha Quadrant forces against an enemy bent on enslaving them.

Weyoun and the Female Changeling are aware of their approach. "Our brave Jem'Hadar soldiers have a motto, 'Victory is life'," the desperately ill but ever-dignified Founder tells Thot Pran. "...Today, those words have meaning for us all. The outcome of this battle will determine the outcome of the war. Either we destroy their invasion forces or they destroy us. There is no other option." She promises the Breen that Romulus will be theirs, and so will Earth. Weyoun is hurt; he had thought Earth and the Federation territories would be under his jurisdiction. Out of earshot of the Breen, the Founder assures Weyoun, "I would promise the Breen the entire Alpha Quadrant if I thought it would help win this war." "The Founder is wise in all things," Weyoun intones. Then Legate Broca, the new puppet, er, leader of Cardassia, comes in with a report that Damar may be alive, even though Weyoun doesn't see how he could be. The Founder orders Broca to look into the matter.

Damar and Garak are accosted in an alley by a Jem'Hadar who recognizes Damar, and is about to take him prisoner while shooting Garak, when he himself is shot by a Breen. The Breen takes off "his" helmet to reveal that it is actually Kira. She tells them every Jem'Hadar and Breen soldier on the planet is looking for Damar, who says he had to attend tonight's gathering. Kira takes them "prisoner".

Soon, they are back in the cellar at Mila's, discussing what was decided: the work disruptions and sabotage will start tomorrow, cutting off the Dominion fleet from all ground support. "And once the Dominion is crushed -- " "All Cardassia will be free again," says Mila. She looks at Garak with fondness. "When you were a small boy, I was worried about you. Always getting in trouble. So secretive, so full of deceit. Who would have thought those disgraceful characteristics would be turned to virtues?"

As the Defiant and its crew adjust to each other, O'Brien tells Bashir to wipe the grin off his face. "You're not the first person to fall in love, you know." But he says he's happy for him. Across the bridge, Worf tells Ezri the same thing. "That's a relief," says Ezri. Worf adds, "But I am going to kill him." When she questions him, he says, "And Jadzia said I did not have a sense of humor." Back to Bashir and O'Brien, who tells his friend he has something to talk to him about. "It's a big decision," Bashir agrees. "I'm surprised it didn't come up sooner." However, it turns out he thought O'Brien was talking about removing the Alamo model from his quarters. Bashir asks what O'Brien did want to tell him, if not that. "Oh, it's nothing that can't wait," the Chief says.

Odo's mind is on Kira. Sisko reminds him that she's a survivor, and Odo tries to find comfort in the words. "This war, Captain -- it has to end." "And it will, soon, one way or the other," Sisko replies. Suddenly he's engulfed in a vision, facing the Sarah Prophet. "The Emissary's task is nearing completion," she tells him. "...You have walked the path the Prophets laid out for you, Benjamin. Do not falter now." "I don't intend to," says Sisko. The Prophet touches his cheek. "Know this, my son. Your journey's end lies not before you, but behind you." With that, Sisko comes out of the vision. He comments to Odo that only time will tell if it was good news or bad.

Back on Bajor, Dukat, still in his Bajoran guise but no longer blind, returns to Kai Winn's office, where she is still reading the Text of the Kosst Amojan. "You're back," is all she has to say. Dukat tells her the pah-wraiths have forgiven him. It's plain, though, that Winn hasn't. When he asks if she's learned how to release the pah-wraiths, she replies that the secrets of the book have been revealed to her. The reason she hasn't put her knowledge into action yet is that she was waiting for him. "Together we will release the pah-wraiths so they can lay claim to the Celestial Temple and destroy the Prophets," Dukat vows. Winn adds, "And their Emissary," but Dukat says he and he alone will deal with Sisko. Sisko will survive the invasion of Cardassia, he predicts. "But I promise you, he'll wish he hadn't."

On DS9, Quark has nothing to do but play cards with Vic and wait for word. "It's not easy staying behind, is it?" asks Vic sympathetically. "Knowing your friends are out there risking their lives." Quark says they should try living his. "All I do, all day long, is give, give, give." Vic agrees that bartending is a noble profession, and Quark does it well. "I just hope Nog and the rest of those heroic idiots come back in one piece," mutters Quark. Just then, the holographic bimbo named Ginger comes up to Vic for their date, and Vic goes with her, leaving Quark alone.

Dukat and Winn have entered the Bajoran Fire Caves; she is carrying the Text, and has to rest frequently in the heat. Dukat remarks that his people used to find the Bajorans' fear of these caves amusing. Winn isn't interested in his anecdotes from the Occupation. She also doesn't want to hear him call her Adami again. From now on, he will address her as Eminence. Hiding his resentment, Dukat complies.

The Female Changeling considers a request from Thot Pran that the Breen be positioned alongside the Jem'Hadar in the coming battle. She feels it would damage the Jem'Hadar's morale, but concedes. Weyoun, though, is concerned that their forces are spread too thin at the center. As the Founder is telling him to order reinforcements to that area, there is a power outage. Weyoun can no longer contact the Jem'Hadar; what's more, almost every Dominion installation on the planet has been damaged. Broca tells the Founder it was sabotage. They've captured some terrorists -- ordinary citizens, not soldiers. Suddenly the Founder grips his throat. "Are you telling me that the Cardassian people are rising up against us?" "I'm sure it's only a small number of malcontents," Broca chokes. Weyoun suggests that if the Cardassian people have been turned against them by Damar, then the people should be punished. Broca, about to pass out, agrees. The Founder finally releases him.

Mila brings Garak lightsticks as he, Kira, and Damar sit in the dark cellar. Their sabotage has succeeded, though Kira notes that the fight is just beginning. Though the Dominion will have tightened security, they need to hit the enemy again, harder, and not lose momentum. "We cannot rest until Cardassia is free," says Damar, agreeing. "And when it is, we'll have you to thank for it. Without you, this rebellion would have died in its infancy." "Ironic, isn't it? The saviour of Cardassia, a former Bajoran terrorist?" observes Garak; but Kira says not to canonize her yet.

The power comes back on, and Weyoun makes a broadcast. He announces that the Dominion knows the sabotage was carried out by a mere handful of extremists, but to make it clear to them that the people will suffer the consequences of their actions, Dominion troops a few minutes ago leveled Lakarian City, with no survivors. "For each act of sabotage committed against the Dominion, another Cardassian city will be destroyed." Weyoun ends his transmission with a plea to return to the spirit of "friendship and cooperation" so they can defeat their enemies.

"I should have killed that Vorta jackal when I had the chance," Damar says grimly, in shock. Kira asks if he wants another one. "We'll attack Dominion Headquarters." "Chop off a snake's head and the body will die," agrees Garak. Damar no longer has valid security protocols he can use to get inside, so Kira says they need an explosive device. Garak will handle that. Mila tells them what they're proposing is suicide, but she goes to get them some food. "Nobody should die on an empty stomach."

The Alpha Quadrant allied fleet reaches Cardassian space, and is greeted by Dominion, Cardassian, and Breen ships. Sisko confers via viewscreen with Ross and Martok. Martok, ebullient at the prospect of battle being joined, reminds them of his promise to share bloodwine with them on Cardassia Prime. "Then I'll meet you both on Cardassia," Ross says. Martok grins. "We'll see who gets there first." After the transmission ends, Nog comments that the Chancellor made victory sound easy. "He knows it won't be," says Sisko. "Sisko to all hands. Prepare to engage the enemy." The battle begins; the Defiant is hit. A crewman is killed, and replaced by Odo. The Defiant loses a Breen ship it was after as it evades two Jem'Hadar fighters, destroying one.

As Kira and Damar finish a meal, Garak leaves his untouched as he works on a bomb. Mila scolds Garak, though she's charmed by Damar. When the door chimes, Mila goes upstairs to see who's there. It's three Jem'Hadar and two Cardassian soldiers. "May I help you?" she asks. Hiding downstairs, the others are getting worried. The door opens; Mila's body tumbles down the steps, dead. Garak goes to her, but as he reaches her, a small device bounces down to the floor. Kira shouts a warning. Too late -- the device detonates, knocking them out. They are captured.

The battle is still raging. Bashir works on O'Brien's injured shoulder. "I'm going to miss our games, Julian," the Chief says, and finally tells Bashir he's leaving DS9 to go back to Earth when the war's over, to accept a position as professor of engineering at Starfleet Academy. "Somebody has to teach you officers the difference between a warp matrix flux capacitor and a self-sealing stembolt." "Of course, of course," says Bashir, subdued.

Ross calls to tell Sisko the Romulan flagship has been destroyed, and their line is collapsing. Sisko says they'll help out, but Ross protests, and they argue tactics. Finally Ross orders him to help the Romulans while he and Martok will hammer the Dominion's center, where the enemy's forces are spread thin.

At Dominion headquarters, the enemy leaders still have no way to contact their ships. Broca comes in to announce that Damar has been captured, along with Kira and Garak. "Shall I have them brought here?" "What for?" asks the Female Changeling. "Have them executed immediately," she tells Weyoun, who replies, "With pleasure."

The Jem'Hadar First acknowledges his orders, and commands the prisoners to get to their feet. Trying to delay their deaths, Garak asks for last words, and Damar tries, but is cut off. The Jem'Hadar ready their weapons. Then suddenly two of them are struck down from behind by phaser shots, coming from the two Cardassian guards. One of the latter is killed; the other takes care of the First. "That's for Lakarian City," announces the remaining guard, whose name is Ekoor. He pledges his life to free Cardassia. "With men like you on our side, how can we fail?" approves Damar.

The Defiant is in trouble, outnumbered, with shields at 60 percent. Bashir drags the injured O'Brien to sickbay, as Ezri tells Sisko most of their attack fighters are either destroyed or under attack. Sisko orders Nog to get them out of there. As Jem'Hadar and Breen ships close in to finish the Defiant off, suddenly the Breen ship explodes. The Cardassian ships have begun attacking their erstwhile Dominion allies. "The timing couldn't be better," notes Sisko, who takes the opportunity to punch through the center.

Long-range communications come back online on Cardassia, just in time for Weyoun to learn what has happened. The Female Changeling immediately orders him to have their forces regroup at Cardassia Prime. "We should have rid ourselves of the Cardassians at the first sign of rebellion." All eyes turn to Broca, who knows he's about to die. Feebly, he offers to speak to the rebels, but Weyoun says they're as likely to convince him to join them. Over Broca's protests, the Founder has her two Jem'Hadar guards grab the Cardassian leader and drag him away, shouting desperately that he believes in the Dominion. "I won't miss him," notes Weyoun. The Founder tells him that she wants the Cardassians exterminated -- the entire population.

In space, the Dominion fleet breaks off to retreat. "I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for the Cardassians," says Ross. He's all for bottling up the Dominion at Cardassia, but Sisko and Martok know that they'll use that time to rebuild their forces. Ross reminds them that a third of the fleet has been lost. But to make sure those soldiers did not die in vain, and to put an end to the war, Sisko and Martok convince the admiral to press on. "My friends, songs will be sung about this day," says Martok. Sisko addresses his crew. "Let's finish what we started."

Winn and Dukat reach the edge of a vast abyss. Dukat looks into it, a little disappointed. "This may sound naive, but I was expecting to see fire. They are called the Fire Caves." "And with good reason," replies Winn, who opens the book and reads aloud, chanting. The abyss bursts into flames. "Is that better?" asks Winn proudly.

Kira and the Cardassians are planning the assault on Dominion headquarters when they hear explosions outside; the Jem'Hadar have begun leveling the city building by building. Kira tells Damar they have to go now. Damar addresses his troops. "Once we get inside the complex, we stop at nothing until we capture the Changeling...For Cardassia!" About to follow them, Kira sees Garak staring at Mila's body, covered by a tarp. "All during the years of my exile, I imagined what it would be like to come home. I even thought of living in this house again with Mila. But now she's dead, and this house is about to be reduced a pile of rubble. My Cardassia is gone." "Then fight for a new Cardassia," Kira tells him. Garak looks up. "I have an even better reason, Commander -- revenge." He goes up the stairs. "That works, too," she comments to herself.

Winn strips to her smock and loosens her hair, radiant as she announces that she is shedding herself of the Prophets and a lifetime of hypocrisy. She is so elated that she kisses Dukat, who asks if she gives herself willingly to the pah-wraiths. "With all my heart!" she cries. She has him bring her the book; she opens it and starts to chant again.

The Defiant leads the fleet to Cardassia. "She did pretty well for a first date, don't you think, Captain?" asks Nog. Sisko agrees, making sure everyone is ready for the task ahead. Odo tells him of the reports that the Dominion has begun destroying Cardassian cities. The fleet approaches the Dominion perimeter, and faces a nearly solid wall of enemy ships.

Damar's assault team is also up against a tough barrier: the cargo door to Dominion headquarters is made of neutronium, which is impervious to their explosives. Garak unexpectedly starts to laugh. "Here we are, ready to storm the castle, willing to sacrifice our lives in a noble effort to slay the Dominion beast in its lair, and we can't even get inside the gates." Kira joins in. "Maybe we could go to the door and ask the Jem'Hadar to let us in." "Or just have them send the shapeshifter out to us," Damar chuckles. They continue guffawing, until Garak finally sobers. "As I said, we have a problem."

The Female Changeling lets Thot Pran go off to the front lines, though she says his advice has been invaluable. Once the Breen goes, she wavers on her feet, her illness taking its toll. Weyoun suggests that she revert to her natural state to rest, but the Founder says she hasn't been able to change shape for weeks. "It's ironic, isn't it? That I should die as a solid." "You're not going to die," Weyoun says fervently. "You're a god." The Founder almost smiles at that, and at his loyalty. She says she doesn't mind dying, but her entire race is also dying of the same illness, and there's nothing she can do.

As the assault team consider how to get past the door, it suddenly opens, and a terrified Broca is led out with two other soldiers by a couple of Jem'Hadar. The legate is still vigorously protesting his innocence and loyalty, and pleading to speak to the Founder; the Jem'Hadar are unmoved. They bayonet the prisoners. Damar leaps up, screaming, "NO!" He kills the two Jem'Hadar and charges forward, with the others in his wake; they make it into the building. Damar only gets a few steps further before he's shot by more approaching Jem'Hadar. He falls into Garak's arms. "Keep -- " Then he dies. "Remember his orders," Kira calls. "We stop for nothing!" "For Cardassia!" shouts Garak. The group emerges from hiding and fires.

Weyoun, alarmed, notes the security breach. The Founder says the guards will deal with it, but Weyoun admits that there are only a handful in the building; he sent the rest to help eradicate the population. He orders two of the present Jem'Hadar to guard the door, and the remaining two to stay here in case the others fail.

Sisko, Ross and Martok decide on a three-pronged attack: the Romulans and Cardassians against the Jem'Hadar, the Klingons against the Breen, and the Federation against the orbital weapon platforms. "It will be a glorious battle," says Martok, but Ross and Sisko know the Dominion will make them pay for it. Ross wishes them godspeed, and Martok adds a "qapla'".

Weyoun urges the Founder to consider moving to a safer location. "And just where would that be?" she inquires. Just then, Kira, Garak, Ekoor, and another Cardassian burst in, firing. The unnamed Cardassian is killed, but so are the Jem'Hadar. Kira raises her weapon to Weyoun and the Founder while Ekoor checks the battle situation, reporting that the Federation fleet has surrounded the planet. Kira and Garak order the Founder to order her ships to stand down, as well as the Dominion troops on Cardassia. Weyoun asks where Damar is; Garak says he's dead. "What a pity," smirks Weyoun. "He died trying to free Cardassia," Garak retorts; Weyoun taunts, "What's left of it", whereupon Garak promptly shoots and kills him.

"I wish you hadn't done that," comments the Founder. "That was Weyoun's last clone." Kira informs her that the war is over; she's lost. The Female Changeling remains calm, saying that the Jem'Hadar and the Breen will fight to the last. "And what will that accomplish?" asks Kira. "Isn't it obvious?" the Founder says. "You may win this war, Commander, but I promise you, when it's over, you will have lost so many ships, so many lives, that your victory will taste as bitter as defeat."

Kira contacts the Defiant; Sisko and especially Odo are relieved that she's alive. She tells them what has happened, and that she doesn't think the Jem'Hadar will attack and risk harming the Founder. But the Founder is in bad shape, and if she dies before ordering her troops to surrender, they'll fight to the last man. Odo volunteers to beam down to try to reason with the Founder; Sisko notes that Odo hasn't had much success with her before, but Odo would still like to try. Sisko assents.

In the Fire Caves, Winn pours a goblet of wine, chants, then offers it to Dukat, who accepts and drinks. "Now you," he says. But though Winn takes the cup, she doesn't drink; she pours the wine onto the ground. Dukat doubles over in pain, and falls, realizing too late that he has been poisoned. "The pah-wraiths demand a sacrifice," Winn explains sweetly. "Someone worthy of them. Who better than you?" Dukat collapses, dead, his head lolling over the precipice; Winn addresses the pah-wraiths. "I offer you this life as nourishment to feed your hunger, to fuel the fires that will set you free. Kosst Amojan, I am yours, now and forever!"

Odo beams down into the briefing room; his reunion with Kira is understated, because of the situation. She warns him to watch himself. "I don't trust her." "But you trust me?" Odo asks. Kira says, "Of course." "That's all I need to know." With that, Odo approaches the Female Changeling, who says she's pleased to see him, but has no intention of surrendering; it would be an invitation to the solids to cross into the Gamma Quadrant and destroy the Great Link. Odo replies that the Federation has its flaws, but a desire for conquest isn't one of them. As for the Klingons and Romulans, they're in no shape to wage war against anyone. "The Dominion has spent the last two years trying to destroy the Federation, and now you're asking me to put our fate in their hands?" the Founder asks. Odo simply says, "Yes." She tells him she doesn't share his faith in solids.

"Perhaps I can change your mind," Odo offers. "Link with me." He holds out his hand, to the alarm of Kira and Garak. The Founder says she can't change form, but Odo tells her he thinks he can cure her. Garak steps forward. "That's a very bad idea, Constable." Kira thinks Garak is right, but Odo confidently says, "Nerys, I know what I'm doing." The Founder is still suspicious, wondering what Odo will ask in return; Odo says all he asks is that she Link with him. Garak is ready to shoot Odo to stop him. But at a look from Odo, Kira changes her mind and makes Garak put down his weapon.

Odo takes the Founder's hand. His Link envelops her; when she solidifies again, she is once more smooth and strong, cured of the disease. Odo assures Garak that his weapon is unnecessary. "If you will stand aside, I'll order the Jem'Hadar to cease fire," the Founder says. Unsure, Garak does so, and she goes to the console. Odo tells Garak she won't try to escape; she has agreed to stand trial.

Kira says she would have thought the Founder would insist on going back to the Gamma Quadrant to cure her people. "There's no need for that," Odo says. "I'm going in her place." Kira is stunned. "For how long?" "Nerys," Odo tells her, as gently as possible, "it's time I rejoined the Great Link."

Thanks to Odo's actions, the war has finally ended, with less bloodshed than there might have been otherwise. Sisko, Ross, and Martok stand in the smoking rubble of Cardassia's capital, glasses of bloodwine in hand. "It is a moment worth savoring," says Martok. "To victory, hard fought and well earned." But only he drinks; Sisko and Ross look at the carnage and decide they're not thirsty. Martok reminds them that these are Cardassians. "Bajorans would call this poetic justice." "That doesn't mean I have to drink a toast over their bodies," replies Sisko. He and Ross both pour their bloodwine onto the ground; Martok mutters something that would probably translate as "Humans, go figure", and drinks.

Bashir, in the Dominion briefing room, is shocked at the casualty reports. 800 million Cardassians are dead, and the toll is growing. Garak, for his part, seems almost numb to the loss. "Well, aren't you going to congratulate me, Doctor? My exile is now officially over. I've returned home. Or rather, to what's left of it...Some may say that we've gotten just what we deserved. After all, we're not entirely innocent, are we? And I'm not just speaking of the Bajoran Occupation. No, our whole history is one of arrogant aggression. We've collaborated with the Dominion, betrayed the entire Alpha Quadrant. Oh, no, no, there's no doubt about it. We're guilty as charged."

Bashir knows what his friend is really feeling. He tries to tell Garak that Cardassia will survive, but Garak will have none of his optimism. "Of course it'll survive, but not as the Cardassia I knew. We had a rich and ancient culture. Our literature, music, art were second to none. And now, so much of it is lost. So many of our best people, our most gifted minds." "I'm sorry, Garak. I didn't mean -- " Garak pulls himself together. "Oh, it's -- it's quite all right, Doctor. You've been such a good friend. I'm going to miss our lunches together." "I'm sure we'll see each other again," offers Bashir. "I'd like to think so," Garak replies. "But one can never say. We live in uncertain times." With one last enigmatic smile, he exits.

A ceremony is held in the DS9 wardroom, at which the Female Changeling formally signs the surrender documents. The war is now officially over. Admiral Ross gives a speech, after which the Founder, with her head held high, allows herself to be escorted away by Starfleet security -- but not before pausing and looking at Odo. "It's up to you now, Odo," she says.

Worf and Ezri are walking along the Promenade, talking about the party to be held tonight at Vic's, when Sisko, Ross, and Martok approach. They want to know how Worf would feel about being named Federation ambassador to Qo'Nos. "I am not a diplomat," Worf says. Martok replies, "And I am not a politician. But sometimes, fate plays cruel tricks on us, Worf. Come. Qo'Nos needs you. And what's more, I need you." Ezri points out that Worf helped Martok become chancellor; he can't turn his back on him now. Sisko indicates that Worf should go for it if it's what he wants. "It has been a great honor serving with you," Worf says; Sisko tells him, "The honor is mine." Worf accepts the job, and Martok grins. "An ambassador who will go targ hunting with me! Perhaps being chancellor won't be so bad after all!"

Kira (back in her Bajoran uniform) and Odo are having a deep discussion of their own about the future. Odo plans to leave soon. She points out that he could come back after curing his people, but realizes that he's not going to. "Nerys," Odo tells her, "you know my feelings for you will never change. But I have to do this. My people need me. They need to know what I know, to learn what I've learned from living among solids. It's the only way they'll ever learn to trust you." Kira replies that he doesn't have to justify his decision. She asks only to be the one to take him back to his homeworld.

The senior crew, plus Jake, Kasidy, and Quark, gather at Vic's that night. Everyone has a suggestion for O'Brien on where to live on Earth; and he and Bashir promise that one day they'll take a trip to Texas together to visit the real Alamo. Quark informs O'Brien, Worf, and Odo of his opinion, which is that they'd be better off staying here. He denies the charge of sentimentality. "I just don't like change."

"You better get used to it," says Sisko. "Things are going to be pretty different around here now." He lifts his glass. "To the best crew any captain ever had. This may be the last time we're all together, but no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel, a part of us -- a very important part -- will always remain here, on Deep Space Nine." After everyone toasts to that warm thought, Vic introduces a song. "This is a very special night for some friends of mine. They've been together a long time. But like the man said, nothing lasts forever. So, gang, this one's from the heart." With that, he begins singing, "The Way You Look Tonight". The crew listens, touched, and aware of the truth of Sisko's words.

Meanwhile, in the Fire Caves, Winn is still chanting, still waiting for the pah-wraiths to accept her. Finally energy patterns emerge from the fire and swirl above her. But they send a spear of light that strikes her down. Then they enter Dukat's corpse. His eyes open, the pupils now red. Winn comes to, to see Dukat standing in triumph, transformed back to his Cardassian features. Dukat laughs.

Sisko is dancing with Kasidy when he suddenly senses something. "I understand now...What I have to do. What I was meant to do." He tells Kasidy he has to go to the Fire Caves, alone.

Dukat is gloating to Winn that he, not she, is the pah-wraiths' Emissary, and gleefully envisioning the universe being set aflame by their wrath, when he becomes aware that Sisko has arrived, phaser rifle in hand. He invites Sisko to kill him if he can, but before Sisko can fire, he telekinetically snatches the rifle away. An energy bolt from Dukat's hand knocks Sisko down. Sisko struggles up again and punches Dukat, but his blows have no effect.

Dukat smiles, and orders Sisko to bow to him. A force drives Sisko to his knees. "You are pathetic," he grates, in pain. "...First the Dominion, now the pah-wraiths. You have a talent for picking the losing sides." Dukat is contemptuous. "Benjamin, please. We've known each other too long. And since this is the last time we will ever be together, let's try to speak honestly. We've both had our victories and our defeats. Now it's time to resolve our differences and face the ultimate truth. I've won, Benjamin. You've lost." "The pah-wraiths will never conquer anything," Sisko retorts. "Not Bajor, not the Celestial Temple, and certainly not the Alpha Quadrant." Dukat asks who's going to stop them; Sisko replies, "I am." But as Dukat points out, he can't even stand up.

"Then I'll stop you," declares Winn. She lifts the Text high, about to toss it into the abyss, but Dukat causes it to fly into his own hand. "Are you still here?" he sneers. Winn turns urgently to Sisko. "Emissary, the book!" An energy tendril from the abyss shoots up, wraps around her, and consumes her in flame. The Kai is no more. "Farewell, Adami," Dukat says. Then Sisko launches himself, tackling Dukat. They both fall over the ledge into the abyss, the book still clutched in Dukat's hand.

One moment Sisko is tumbling through the flames; the next, he is in the white limbo of the Prophets. "The Emissary has completed his task," the Sarah Prophet informs him. He has returned the pah-wraiths to their prison, permanently; the book was the key "to a door that can never be opened again". Dukat is with the pah-wraiths now. "Your time of trial has ended. You need to rest now." "I intend to," says Sisko. "As soon as I return to Deep Space Nine." "That won't be necessary," she says. "You're with us now." And finally Sisko understands.

Sisko's runabout has been found orbiting Bajor; a scan of the Fire Caves revealed no sign of him. But Worf, Bashir, Ezri, and Odo assure a worried Jake and Kasidy that the search won't be called off until he's found. Kasidy voices her dread. "Something's happened to Ben. Something bad. I can feel it. The Prophets warned us."

Then she suddenly finds herself in the white void, calling out to her husband. Sisko appears, and tells her they're in the Celestial Temple. He can't go home with her. Kasidy looks at him in realization. "Oh, God, this is it, isn't it? The sorrow that the Prophets warned us about." "It's difficult to explain," says Sisko. "It's not linear...My life, my destiny. The Prophets saved me, Kasidy. I'm their Emissary, and they still have a great deal for me to do. But first, there is much to learn, things only the Prophets can teach me." "When will you be back?" she asks tearfully. Her husband replies, "It's hard to say. Maybe a year. Maybe yesterday. But I will be back." "And I will be waiting," she says at last. And she is back in the wardroom, feeling strangely comforted as she tells Jake she was talking to his father.

Later, O'Brien takes one last look around his family's now-empty quarters, and finds the Colonel Travis figurine that Bashir lost. He smiles, remembering moments he shared with his friend. Worf hesitates on the threshold of a Promenade airlock, and sees Ezri lift her hand in farewell; he recalls his career on DS9, before finally stepping through. As Odo presents Kira with his old bucket, they too share memories of their times together as friends and lovers. Behind the bar, Quark is also caught up in memories; and Jake sits looking at the model of the house Sisko was going to build, remembering his father.

Walking to the runabout with Kira, Odo tells her he's not good at goodbyes, though she says a lot of people will be disappointed. "If they don't know how I feel about them now, a few parting words won't make the difference," he maintains. But he's not going to get away that easily. Quark bears down on them, berating Odo for trying to sneak off without anyone noticing. "So now that I'm here, is there something you want to say to me?" Odo glares, not giving an inch. "Such as?" "Such as, 'Goodbye. You certainly were a worthy adversary.' Or maybe something with the words 'mutual respect' in it." Quark stands there expectantly, but Odo says no. There's nothing he wants to say to him.

Quark can't believe it. "You're telling me that after all these years, after all we've been through, you're not even going to say goodbye to me?" "That's right," declares Odo. They stare each other down, then Odo tells Kira he'll be on the runabout. With a final snort in Quark's direction, he disappears into the airlock. "Don't take it hard, Quark," Kira tells the Ferengi. Quark draws himself up. "Hard? What are you talking about? That man loves me. Couldn't you see? It was written all over his back." He lifts a glass to his longtime enemy and friend.

When Bashir walks O'Brien to the airlock, they find themselves unable to say goodbye, and finally simply hug.

Odo and Kira arrive at the Founders' homeworld to find the Great Link a sickly blue-green. Before joining his people, Odo tells Kira to pass on the message that he will miss everybody, even Quark. "But most of all -- " "I know," says Kira. They share an emotional embrace, kissing each other tenderly. When they break off, Odo morphs his uniform into a tuxedo. He reminds her that she always said he looked good in one. "This is the way I want you to remember me." "I'll never forget you," Kira tells him softly.

Odo caresses her cheek. "Goodbye, Nerys." He steps slowly into the Great Link, raises his hand in farewell, and morphs to his natural state. A golden glow spreads from the spot. Odo has healed his people, but his work has barely begun, as Kira stands on the atoll, alone.

Later, Nog brings Kira -- now commander of the station -- the day's duty roster. Nog is now a lieutenant. Putting him in for a promotion had been one of Captain Sisko's last official acts. "I'm sure he's very proud of you, Nog," Kira says. She tells him to get on the cargo inventories, then picks up Sisko's baseball, thinking about him and smiling.

Bashir and Ezri talk about a holosuite date. She suggests the Alamo, but he balks. "That's what Miles and I did." He does have another program they could try: the battle of Thermopylae, in which a small band of Spartans defended a mountain pass against a vast Persian army. Naturally, they put up a heroic struggle until being wiped out. "Have you talked to a counselor about these annihilation fantasies?" Ezri asks. She says she'll set up a session for tomorrow. "Tonight, we defend the pass."

Quark has just sold Morn a hair-growing potion, though he says Morn's head is already hairy enough. "Besides, hasn't there been enough change around here already?" Then Kira comes into the bar. The Ferengi has been taking bets on the election of the new Kai, but Kira informs him that betting pools are now illegal. If she catches anyone placing a bet, Quark will spend fifteen days in a holding cell. After she leaves, Quark turns to Morn. "It's like I said. The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Walking through the Promenade, Kira spots Jake standing on the upper level, watching the wormhole flare open to let a ship through. She goes up to join him, putting a hand on his shoulder. Together they stare out into the vastness of space, remembering, and waiting.

  • The series finale originally aired as a 2-hour special.
  • In the farewell party scene at Vic's, the background crowd is made up of writers, producers, crew members, and actors who worked on the series. That scene was the last one filmed with all the cast together, though the very last scene shot was the one in which Quark and Vic play cards.
  • The reason Jadzia Dax was not included in the montage sequence is because Terry Farrell refused to allow her image to be used. (Her voice had been used without her permission in the scene in "Penumbra" in which Ezri enters Jadzia and Worf's old quarters and has auditory flashbacks.)
  • The episode received an Emmy nomination for visual effects.