In which a string of sophisticated killings leads Kira to a natal incubator.
Open on a Bajoran cave somewhere. Vedek Latha Mabrin opens up a Day of Atonement retreat with some prayers when the lamp they’re praying around scans everyone and then shoots him in the chest. The next moment of import is Bashir admonishing Kira to take her Bajoran Folic Acid herbs when Odo brings her the news about Latha – a former member of her resistance cell. He had a lot of enemies, which is going to make tracking down the killer difficult. And when she goes to pray over him, the computer interrupts her with a voicemail of a heavily distorted voice saying “that’s one.”
It came in basically as soon as Mabrin was killed, and nobody else known received a similar message, so apparently Nerys is integral to whatever’s going on here. She’s reaching out to other emmbers of her cell. Miles comes over to her in the replimat to ask her how she’s doing after pacing all night. One gets the sense that, even with replicators in your quarters, you go to the replimat as a signal that you are Out and About and want to talk to people. With food readily available at home, it makes some sense that the default assumption would be that if you’re eating in public, it’s because you want company. At this time, Kira gets another message, which Odo can’t even trace.
This one is from Trinten Fala, a friend of Kira’s, and so Kira asks for some privacy to take the call. Fala is terrified of being the next victim, so Kira says she’ll dispatch Worf and Jadzia to pick her up and bring her back to the station on their way home. Jadzia lost a lot of latinum to a a captain at Tongo, and she’ll have to borrow it. Evidence that even among Starfleet officers, keeping track of money is slightly more than just a polite fiction they keep up to deal with outsiders. However, as they beam up Fala, the transport goes wrong and she winds up as a pile of ash and charred flesh on the pad. Incidentally, the earring is intact – the accident seems to only have affected organic material.
Odo suspects she was killed by a device specifically designed to scramble transporter beams, which can be as little as 2 cubic millimeters, and which points to a frightening level of either foresight or surveillance on the part of the assassin. And if I may be permitted to be a little prejudiced here, both of those are key traits that the Cardassians have been shown to put to good use. The device itself is Romulan in origin, but is widely available on the black market. Federation transporters are intended to scan for them and either disable them or abort the transport, but this one was able to circumvent the security protocols. Fala wasn’t technically a member of the Shakar resistance cell, but she was a janitor in a Cardassian office who passed them information. She never openly admitted to being a member of the cell, even after the Occupation was over, so whoever just sent “That’s two” in a shipment of brandy that Quark received has deep access to information.
Odo’s trying to do detective work to make a list of all the Kira-centric attacks that the Shakar cell carried out, when a third message comes in – a third member of the cell is dead, and Kira gets an armed escort on the way back to her quarters. When they get there, her guard goes to get something to eat from the replicator, and such is the state of things that when Kira hears a muffled sound, she goes for her gun and sweeps the room in darkness. As it happens, the visitors are two other members of the Cell, Brilgar and Lupiza, who snuck in, beat up her guard on the assumption that he was there for nefarious purposes. They chat about pregnancy for a while and then quick-draw on O’Brien when he comes in.
Mobra had a micro-explosive implanted right behind his ear, which makes one wonder why the complex delivery systems. The first hit made sense – trap a place you know the target will be. But if you can plant a device on them, or in them, then the deaths are not the point – the timing, order, and messaging of the deaths are the point.
Jadzia and Nog are analyzing the pattern, and his Ferengi ears are sensitive enough to pick up an oddity behind the distortion – the choppy way the words are put together is basically the audio equivalent of a magazine-clipping threatening message. Now that they have three messages, they can begin figuring out who’s voice it is by stripping away the distortion, and it turns out to be Kira’s voice. While this is going on, O’brien’s quarters explode. Several people try to stop her from charging in to vent the whole corridor into space, but as it turns out it’s the baby that finally prevents her from spacing an entire deck, after she put strain on her body by beating up all three guards.
In the infirmary, Kira confesses to Odo how she joined the resistance – when she was 13 she was running errands for the Shakar cell, and volunteered one day when they were a body down on a raid. She got her earring from Lupiza, made from some of the metal from the first Cardassian skimmer she helped raid. Odo, in return, tells her that a probe optically scanned every room for its intended targets, then blew out the window once it found them. He refuses to give Kira his list of 25 suspects, but she beams into his office to get it anyway, leaving just as Odo arrives. What’s the point of locking your door if there are transporters, after all. She’s beamed out to a shuttle and is headed away. She also erased his list, so they have to track her manually.
The first suspect important enough to build a set for is a Cardassian named Silaran Prim, living on a horrible dustball of a planet in a private research base, and defending his house with holograms. Once he has Kira incapacitated, he puts her in a force field on a couch and starts spouting some creepy Red Dragon/Buffalo Bill/David Attenborough narration. Silaran was gravely wounded, half his face burned off in an attack. During the occupation, he did Gul Pirak’s laundry while the Gul was commanding a weapons depot. In the attack, when Kira planted a plasma charge, 12 cardassians were vaporized and 23 more were injured, and he feels put upon because he was an innocent bystander. He thinks he’s better because he only killed his targets, with no collateral damage. And because of that, he’s only going to kill Kira. That’s why he brought her to him – to save the baby she’s carrying.
Despite the insistance that the baby won’t be viable yet, Silaran is going to deliver it regardless. Kira begs for a sedative, and we might remember at this point that the herbs Bashir has been giving her for the pregnancy make sedatives not work on her. So when he turns off the force field, she’s able to save herself, grab a phaser, and end the string of killings. In the end, she’s really shaken by the whole thing, as one might expect. The episode asks – what exactly is an innocent bystander?