In which Odo admits some things and Nog makes a life decision.
Last time, you’ll remember, Vedek Berial died after first becoming a cyberzombie, and under circumstances that make it hard to blame Vedek Winn. I like to think that’s the slight tightness you can hear in Kira’s voice, but it might just be the result of coming home from a security shakeup at Prophets Landing. Prophets Landing is a Bajoran colony closest to Cardassian space, and it’s been set up with orbital sensor drones. Sadly, it seems that Odo is more upset than Kira is, though he refuses to talk about it without snark, until finally he reveals that Kira just made assumptions about him based on… accurate assessments of his personalty to date.
Today’s plot is brought to you by a Maquis attack on a Lisseppian supply ship by a one-man interceptor. The runabout (read – glorified long-range shuttlecraft) moves to answer the distress call. Their runabout is faster than the Maquis Peregrine-class interceptor, but they still know the plasma-storm-laden region of space known as the Badlands better than Kira does these days. They track him to the moon of a gas giant, but lose him in the atmosphere and have to go in personally.
Meanwhile, on the station, Nog has come to Sisko on a matter of dire importance. He’s there to give Sisko a bundle full of latinum – Nog has just had is Ferengi Bar Mitzvah and is now an adult with Agency. and he wants to use that agency to purchase an apprenticeship from Sisko – and wants to be the first Ferengi in Starfleet. There are some cultural gaps getting in the way of Nog getting how this actually works, but I’m sure he’ll figure out the right, human way to do things.
Kira and Odo have located a cave, subject to moonquakes, and are going to have to split up to cover the caves quickly enough. They’re going to take 20 minutes to search, but almost immediately Kira gets trapped and calls for help. We don’t see how Odo even manages to find her – maybe the commbadges have some sort of warmer/colder locator function based on signal strength? It would make sense, it’s just never mentioned. Either way, he finds Kira with her foot stuck in some sort of crystal that’s growing around her boot. She can’t get her boot off, and Odo, even with his superior strength, can’t break it open. Next plan of attack is for Kira to try to phaser the crystal off of her, but shooting it just makes it grow all the way up to her knee. So the next question is – what happens if you try to beam someone out who’s firmly attached to the local scenery. Unfortunately, we’re not going to get a chance to find out, because the comms are jammed and nobody ever carries a wide-band signal repeater or two to drop breadcrumbs. Odo’s gonna have to walk back to get more equipment.
On the station, Rom and Nog are working on the bar replicator, which Quark has overloaded. They both have a very solid practical understanding of maintenance. Rom just sits there and takes Quark’s abuse, but Nog dreams of better things, and his aspirations are further crushed when Jake comes in and talks about what a hilarious joke it was. Nog doesn’t want to talk about it, but Starfleet is pretty obviously his Way Out.
Odo’s back at the shuttle, but can’t beam Kira out due to local atmospheric interference. The interference even stops transporter enhancers and communications systems from functioning. All Odo can do is launch a probe (out of a dorsal emitter, apparently, which must be purpose-built for launching-while-landed) that will alert the station in two days’ time. Not soon enough. Odo goes back to Kira, who’s had a run-in with the Maquis and scared him off down a corridor. He shot at her, but missed and left some scorch marks on the wall behind her.
Sisko and Bashir are discussing some administrivia – one of Bashirs nurses is pregnant, and Bashir wants to reassign him to less hazardous work .Those pronouns were typed as intended. On the way past the bar, Nog goes out to ask Sisko how things are going, and Sisko explains in detail the barriers in Nog’s way. Namely, his reputation thus far. Sisko seems to agree to give Nog another chance – in that he’s assigning Nog a tedious inventory job by way of Jadzia. Part of the test is to see if Nog can manage the task, and the other part is to see if he steals anything.
Back on the moon, Kira is now up to her waist in mysterious crystal, and starting to lose hope. Odo is being angrily reassuring, and then goes off on a tangent about a criminal activity report, and has a great idea for using sound vibrations to break the crystal. He’s got to go back to the runabout for the equipment.
Nog is eager to please with his new assignment, and Kira isn’t particularly comfortable. She’s keeping her hands up so they don’t get eaten by the crystal, and while Odo rigs up the resonance emitter (using a couple of transport enhancers) they chat about small things, like Odo’s kayaking appointment with O’Brien. Odo’s quite a fan of kayaking, it turns out. O’Brien’s the one who does the singing, though. O’Brien’s dislocated his shoulder several times on the program, but he loves kayaking too much to give it up.
During the next moonquake, Odo forms himself into a dome to protect Kira from falling rocks. What’s somewhat interesting is that the dome is vaguely humanoid shaped – Odo seems to hold on to the basic body plan of four-large-projections-from-a-central-mass more or less instinctively. As the situation looks bleaker and bleaker, Kira’s banter starts deviating from her usual tough-as-nails demeanor, and Odo picks up on it.
Nog managed to inventory the whole cargo bay in record time, didn’t steal anything, turned up some new stuff, and pretty much proved himself, but Sisko’s still wondering why Nog wants to join up. You could always… ask him?
Odo’s resonance generator isn’t working, and Nerys is up to her neck now. They’ve gone through the entire harmonic spectrum, and either Odo’s terrible at science or every rigid material known to science has some harmonic frequency at which it shatters, because all Odo can imagine is that the thing encasing Kira is mutating to remain intact. She can barely breathe now, so it’s becoming less a matter of breaking her out and more a problem of palliative care. She asks for the story of how Odo got his name. It boils down to ‘Odo was in a sample jar labeled Unknown Sample which, in Cardassian, is Odo’ital. Odo’s name literally means ‘nothing.’ And it ruined his self esteem until he met Kira, and then years later everyone else who treats him like a person. Odo’s now in the ‘denial’ stage, and still not ready to leave Kira, and she has to order him to leave. It’s not like she can enforce it, though. He refuses to leave her there, because he loves her. Saying it hurts him, as it so often does.
Sisko ultimately denies Nog’s application and gives back the latinum, to Nog’s utter dismay. And he’s being really, really harsh about it, trying to goad Nog into explaining his reasoning. And ultimately he does – he doesn’t want to end up in a dead-end job like his father. Rom has the instinct for machines to have made a great engineer, but Ferengi society didn’t have a niche for him. Or perhaps the niche existed, but was so socially unacceptable that Rom couldn’t choose it. Starfleet is Nogs way out of that trap, and that’s enough for Sisko to give him the chance.
Kira’s buried up to her neck now, and Odo is brooding. And he has that suspicious look on his face, otherwise known as ‘his normal look.’ See, from the position the Maquis was in when he shot at Kira, he couldn’t have hit the rock without killing her. Also, Odo is good enough at reading people to know that Kira was lying when she said she loved him. This is the first time she’s giving any such signs. So now Odo wants to know The Truth. And the Truth is that ‘Kira’ is a changeling who set up this whole thing.
She acquired a Maquis ship, attacked a Lisseppian supply ship when they’d be in the area to draw them out, picked this moon so that most of their gadgets would be useless, set up a situation in which Odo and Kira would have to split up, and then replaced Kira. The point of the exercise was to find out why Odo wouldn’t stay with the Link, and if possible to sever Odo’s link to Alpha Quadrant society by letting him think Kira died. Since Odo’s figured it out, the plan has somewhat backfired and Odo is even farther from joining back up with the Link than ever.
After rescuing Kira and telling her most of the story, he can’t quite bring himself to mention the key detail. We do end on a happy note, though. Quark refuses to let Nog join Starfleet, and Rom tells Quark where he can stuff it.