In which the fall of paradise begins.
So, the wormhole is now opening and closing on its own. Or someone with cloaking technology is sending a fleet through. No unusual readings are being read, but there is an emergency call from Starfleet HQ. Morn has no sense of humor, and it seems like Dax has pulled a prank on Odo by moving all his furniture a few centimeters out of alignment. Odo deeply detests the humanoid penchant for disorder. If only some changeling would come along to impose order upon them. Luckily, Odo is called away before he can go on a fascist rant.
27 people at a Federation/Romulan diplomatic conference, including a Tholian observer, have been killed by an explosion. This is the first diplomatic bombing on Earth in over 100 years, and someone noticed that just before the blast, a piece of pottery turns out to have been a changeling. And it escaped. The Dominion has infiltrated Earth.
Odo is making Dax move her furniture back before he departs for Earth. He’s going as security consultant and expert witness, and I’m certain Starfleet isn’t going to get all insane about him. Sisko is also being admonished by his dad to take the trip from San Francisco to New Orleans to his dad’s place for dinner. Sisko the Elder has a lot of replacement parts in him. too.
With Sisko gone and Bashir newly reminded of how much he loves holonovels when there’s someone along to show them off, Julian and Miles are dressed in aviator leathers mourning the loss of one of their comerades over the Channel. They’re playing World War 2 because they want to be helping out at Earth. O’Brien asks Odo to drop in with his folks in Doublin, and Bashir’s fine, thanks, don’t look up any of my relatives.
A Klingon/Bajoran religious discussion is the best religious discussion. The klingons killed their gods about a thousand years ago for being more trouble than they were worth.
On Earth, Sisko and Odo meet admiral Layton and his adjutant Cmdr. Benteen. They make a very good low-key good cop/bad cop pair. Benteen is cold and conveys ruthlessness very well, while Layton looks like a casually-racist teddy bear.
Joseph Sisko’s creole restaurant is a down-homey place where the owner wanders around yelling good-naturedly at the clientele. He doesn’t trust Odo, but only because Joseph runs a restaurant and Odo doesn’t eat. But there’s also undeniable hints that Joseph is undergoing chronic health problems. The theme of the day is creeping, insidious danger. Also, Nog’s here in his Starfleet uniform. Nog eats at Sisko’s because Joseph Sisko will serve him live tube grubs and root beer. Nog’s having problems at the Academy, mainly with the Exclusion culture. One might speculate that if a Ferengi makes it into an already-exclusive club, the immediate jockeying for position is expected and encouraged. Or one might speculate that human tribalism makes us more clannish up until the moment when we decide to deliberately expand the tribe and try to found the Federation. Either way, Nog wants to be in the elite cadet cadre known as Red Squadron.
Sisko delivers some strategy suggestions for combatting Dominion infiltration to the president of the Federation. How far we’ve come from the ‘terrans only’ club Azetbur scoffed at. Although I think the president in that era was nonhuman as well. This president is a little taken aback by the less-FCLU-friendly measures like blood screenings. He’s bent on not bowing to a terrorist threat. And this is where Deep Space Nine starts to mess with you.
Because not, as they say, Letting the Terrorists Win by reacting the way they’re expecting you to react is a really good idea, if you’re not facing an existential threat. But if you think you’re facing an existential threat and demonstrate it by sneaking your security chief into the meeting as a briefcase, that’s a great way to make your point. And if you’re agreeing with Sisko just because he’s been the protagonist so far, maybe stop for a moment and consider that Our Hero is now playing the part of the guys in ET and Alf who want to vivisect the Quirky Alien, at the very start of his journey to the dark side. The current ask is to step up security at Starfleet and Federation facilities, and blood test the perosnnel and their families. It seems oh-so-very reasonable. Just remember this moment.
So step one is a wide-angle phaser emitter over the door that can hit everything in the room. The phaser sweeps are painful to Odo, but we really have no idea what the settings they’re using will do to Solids. Then again, that’s what the blood tests are for. Just gotta make sure you use the Martok Method on whoever’s holding the hypospray in case they’re a Changeling that knows Odo’s Coffee Trick.
Nog’s not asking for much from Sisko – just a little nepotism to get him into the elite squadron. Although, if he has the grades to qualify and the rules require him to be sponsored by a command-level officer, I guess it’s not actually nepotism.
Benteen catches Odo changing back from a seagull to a human and her first reaction is worrying how many other infiltrators are on-site. Layton’s far more standoffish now, because it turns out he was a Changeling. So, apparently changelings can force other changelings liquid, or at least force them to start merging. Rather than shoot Layton before he turns into a bird and flies away, Benteen goes to check on Odo. It’s a very human thing to do. Also I guess she’s not armed, which is good but also evidently a mistake.
Odo’s Changeling-dar apparnetly pinged off the other changeling hating him so much. After all, Odo’s harmed one of his own. He can apparently feel the hate radiating from other Changelings. Although I’m not quite sure how they found out? Infiltrator read the mission briefing, maybe? Either way, the real Layton, Benteen, and Sisko form a coalition of Officers Willing to Defy the President and Fight to Protect Paradise. That’ll have to go on hold, though – Joseph Sisko has been arrested by Starfleet for refusing to undergo the blood screenings that Ben Sisko ordered.
Sisko the Elder has a common-sense approach, and he didn’t take an oath to Starfleet. Sisko said that ordinary civilians would barely notice, but when you think about it, Starfleet and the Federation employ a lot of people… and those people have a lot of family members. And aside from the principled stand, there’s a logistical concern – just how often are you going to test people? And when Joseph cuts himself preparing shrimp and Ben gets to see the blood, his relief is like a dagger through old dad’s heart. Oh, plus Joseph Sisko is way smarter than Ben, and a huge proponent of Human Intelligence over Signal, Image, or Measures Intelligence. or Brosnan-era spy gadgetry.
Joseph Sisko is recovering quickly from his mild heart attack and filling Jake’s head with an alternate viewpoint when Earth’s power grid gets knocked offline. Because critical installations don’t have battery backups? The President doesn’t want to declare martial law, but this is where the mysterious opening of the wormhole, and the Romulan/Cardassian fleet may have given the Dominion enough parts to study and develop cloaking technology. Layton suggests that the Lakota will be able to operate as a relay point for arming all Starfleet officers and filling the streets. The only worse option is letting the Jem’Hadar run roughshod over an unprepared civilian population.
So while the President of the Federation is facing the biggest crisis since the Borg Invasion, the question I put to you, dear reader, is this: Who’s right?