> EPISODES >
Episode Synopsis by Tracy Hemenover
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
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...