In which everyone has new beginnings to lose tragically, the most evil band in the galaxy is back together, and the tide turns.
Boudoir shot of Julan and Ezri. I’m glad those two crazy kids finally made it. Of course, this being wartime, any story that opens with happy coupling is doomed to end with someone getting horribly killed. Good thing they’ve promised each other not to let that happen. They delay shipping out long enough to smooch some more, while Miles says farewell to the family. Apparently, Starfleet offered Miles a transfer back to earth to teach at the Academy. He hasn’t told Bashir yet. Kassidy is having pregnancy aches, and Sisko is also potentially our Dead Man Walking here. Odo’s all healed up and joining the mission to Cardassia. Nog gets to come too, and at this point is even seasoned enough to be able to banter with Sisko.
Weyoun, the Breen, and the plague-ridden Founder get to track the approaching Allied army with quite a bit of do-or-die attitude. They’re all on board for the Victory Or Death train, and the Breen have been promised Romulus and Earth. Of course, she’s lying to the Breen about that, assuming she’s not lying to Weyoun. The Cardassian quisling, Broca, has found out that Damar is alive, and promises to rectify the situation. I gotta say, for a surveilance state, they seem to rely an awful lot on flesh-based intelligence assets and not enough on, say, subcutanious implants that validate every aspect of your social transactions. Instead, they just have constant patrols.
Damar’s resistance is going well, logistically speaking. Disrupting the local war effort will be extra effective when it becomes the anvil against which the Federation armada smashes. Sisko and O’Brien have little to complain about on the way except that they’ve lost all the mods and optimizations they’ve made tot he old Defiant and the new one isn’t quite up to snuff. The bridge crew all have little asides they need to take care of. And the Prophets have one for the Emissary, too. His task is nearing completion. It’s ambiguous as to whether he’s going to survive the end of his mission.
Remember Kai Winn? How she cast out Damar once he was blinded by the Pah Wraiths? He’s back, and just in time – Winn has unlocked the secrets of Kosst Amojan and has been waiting for Dukat to go release them. All it takes is a few sweet nothings about Sisko’s painful demise to get her to smile at him again.
Quark’s made friends with Vic. His program is period-specific, which means he can’t create Tongo for Quark, whose bar is empty because everyone is out fighting the war. They commiserate about what it means to be the host, the bartender, the One Who Stays Behind.
Dukat and Winn have made it to the fire caves, but it’s a rough hike and they have to stop to rest a lot, since Winn is carrying a metal-bound book the size of her torso. During the Occupation, the Cardassian forces were amused by the Bajoran superstitions about the Fire Caves, but never bothered exploiting them. Imagine what they could have accomplished. That said, it’s clear their relationship has suffered and Dukat is definitely planning on killing her.
The Breen are getting pushy about their role in the war, and while the Founder deals with these political problems, Weyoun addresses tactical concerns. One of Damar’s raids may have just caused a brownout – a coordinated strike to all Dominion bases, by a coordinated citizen’s uprising. Broca gets throttled into agreeing to a mass slaughter of the Cardassian citizenry. On the other side of it, Damar, Garak and Kira are all planning for their next strike. Once the power comes back on, they hear about Weyoun’s counterstrike. It started at a slaughter of a city of two million. This spurs them into a direct strike at Dominion HQ.
Martok and Ross have a conference call to set up a race to get drunk on Cardassia Prime. The battle is thus joined, and while Bashir and Ezri worry about each other on the bridge of the Defiant, Mila and Damar flirt with each other using Garak as a prop. It’s… less gross than it sounds, barely. Unfortunately, they have company, in the form of a squad of Jem’Hadar. And grenades. The Rebellion has been strick low, and the battle in the skies is pretty desprate too, with Jem’Hadar attack wings preferentially going for ramming attacks. It’s while Miles is getting his shoulder patched up that he finally has the courage to tell Bashir about his new job offer. Sisko’s deploying to reinforce the Romulans, whose flagship just crumbled.
Our friends the rebels are not going to get paraded around the war room and gloated at – the Founder is wise enough not to pull a Bond Villain. The Jem’hadar don’t even honor requests for Last Words, but fortunately the Cardassians with them are Loyal Cardassians, not loyal Dominion citizens. The allied forces are taking a pounding, but about now some other Cardassian ships have gotten the news about the destroyed city, and have some things to say about that. The Cardassian fleet switches sides, and the Founder decides that the Cardassians are no longer useful to the Dominion, and orders their extermination, and an otherwise general retreat to Cardassia.
Sisko and Martok continue to push for a decisive victory, rather than allowing the Dominion to rebuild on Cardassia. Ross agrees. Time to finish this. Speaking of finishing things, Winn and Dukat have made it to the main chambers of the Fire Caves. They’re somewhat unimpressive at the moment, but a brief incantation ignites creepy spirit flames and a childlike joy on the face of Space-Pope Ratched.
To be continued…