In which Odo learns to break the rules.
Odo is loitering at Quark’s to keep an eye on him while a Myradorn raiding ship is in town. And to keep an eye on an alien the Klingons brought back from the Gamma Quadrant. Quark obviously has some deal with the Myradorn going on, and is not all that great at hiding it, but so far nothing particularly portentous has happened. Surely just another average day aboard Deep Space Nine.
Quark has Rom bring some grapefruit juice to the Myradorn meeting to by a space-Faberge-egg. However, it seems that Quark is being a little cautious since Odo knows he’s up to something and he knows that Odo knows it’s stolen.
Shortly thereafter, the Gamma quadrant alien comes in very genially to try to rob the sale, and it turns out Odo was one of the glasses, and shifts back after he shatters. So now we know that Odo can not only shift mass (or has a mass not much more than a few ounces so as not to be noticed on a serving tray) but can also put himself back together after he’s been shattered. Odo must be some sort of colony creature, or else his component goo-bits revert automatically when severed and the goo-bit his intelligence resides in can reabsorb them easily.
Myradorn twins have some sort of psychic link and now that one of them is dead, and the survivor is definitely not going to peacefully slink away. Odo is suspicious of Quark, but lets him go. The gamma alien Kroden, meanwhile, is particularly nonchalant about being in the brig, and casually mentions that he knows of other changelings, but none so skilled as Odo. The command staff talk about some of the diplomatic implications of the first contact with his government being over a murder investigation, and investigations, as they say, proceed. Odo is really, really desperate to know more about the guy who knows about changelings.
Kroden indicates that Changelings, as a rule, are very paranoid, due to their history of being persecuted by others. But Kroden knows where it is, and even has a locket with a shapeshifting compass in it as proof. Convenient, that.
Sisko and Dax go to Kroden’s homeworld and found out that his people, in addition to not believing in trials, are only interested in outsiders to the extent that they can get their criminal back. The Exarch of the planet throws a little hissy fit about it, too.
Meanwhile, Bashir is studying the shapeshifting trinket and declares it to be a ‘transitional phase between organic and inorganic matter.’ How exactly does that work, Julian? Does it have half a carbon atom? Where did you even study, Julian?
Kroden, in order to gain his liberty, keeps trying to convince Odo to let him free in exchange for showing Odo the Changeling colony, but Sisko promised to return Kroden to his people for at best execution and more probably torture and then execution. Therefore, Odo has to escort Kroden there by himself in an underpowered runabout which is going to have to flee from a raiding ship. I’m sure there’s no chance whatsoever that they’re going to have to hide in Kroden’s aforementioned nebula.
Kroden tells his story and it’s pretty intense. It’s one of those vignettes where we get a whole picture of a planetary society in a few short sentances, and it manages to establish a character, a world we’ll never see, and go back to raising those very minor nagging doubts about whether it’s a good thing that if the Federation showed up above this planet they’d have to keep letting it do what it does because of the Prime Directive.
The Myradorn captain knocks Quark around for a bit until he gets the destination of Kroden and Odo’s runabout, and goes chasing. Quark is stuck having to hope that Odo chooses to die fighting rather than give up Kroden to the Myradorn so that Quark won’t get ratted out. Rom is a lot more excited about that.
Odo is flying by the referenced vortex, but refuses to go in despite Kroden talking it up… until the Myradorn ship attacks them. The Runabout computer is ridiculously good at burying the lead – evidently whoever programmed it decided that the exact type of of attack was more important than that there was an attack at all. Predictably, there’s little recourse but to dive into the vortex, and from there to land on the one place in the vortex he knows can support life – the changeling colony he found.
Turns out Kroden was lying – his people have myths about Changelings but Odo is the first one he’s ever seen. But he was so depserate to get back to this planet because he left his daughter in stasis when he fled from his planet’s jackbooted thugs. Odo has to take Kroden back, but agrees to save his daughter. Then Odo gets hit by a rock, and Kroden doesn’t abandon him.
And the first thing Kroden says to Odo when he wakes up from his concussion is that Odo is heavier than he looks. So Odo can officially alter his own mass. For some reason that strikes me as more impossible than FTL. Oh also apparently a decentralized goo-telligence can get a concussion.
Odo pulls a submarine gambit and gets the pursuing ship to blow itself up, and gets randomly rescued by a Vulcan science ship, and sends both Kroden and his daughter back to Vulcan as refugees.
Kroden is remarkably… I’m not sure what the right word is. Nostalgic? For his home where being declared an enemy of the state gets your family murdered in front of you. Aliens, go figure.