Chimera
Stardate: Unknown
Original Airdate: 15 Feb, 1999

[Runabout]

(O'Brien enters with a mug in hand to find Odo studying a small faceted glass object.)
O'BRIEN: How long was I asleep?
ODO: Almost two hours.
O'BRIEN: You dropped out of warp. We must be close to home.
ODO: We entered the Bajoran system a few minutes ago.
O'BRIEN: What's that?
ODO: The shopkeeper I bought it from called it a knick-knack.
O'BRIEN: I didn't know you collected knick-knacks.
ODO: It's a present for Kira.
O'BRIEN: Oh.
ODO: You don't think she'll like it?
O'BRIEN: I'm sure she'll like it. It's just I didn't get anything for Keiko.
ODO: Well, the conference kept you pretty busy.
O'BRIEN: You found time to get something.
(Odo puts the glass teardrop on it's box. There's another box on the console too.)
O'BRIEN: Not chocolates as well?
ODO: Rigelian chocolates. Her favourite.
O'BRIEN: I'll buy them from you.
ODO: I beg your pardon?
O'BRIEN: I'll buy them from you. Oh come on, Odo, you don't have to give her two presents. You've only been gone a day.
ODO: I'm sorry, Miles, but the answer is no.
(Alarm sounds.)
O'BRIEN: There's something behind us.
ODO: It's gaining on us fast.
(Something living comes up and swims in front of them.)
O'BRIEN: You think it's friendly?
ODO: I hope so.
O'BRIEN: It's certainly taken an interest in us.
(It disappears off to port, then bump!)
O'BRIEN: Uh oh.
ODO: It's gone.
O'BRIEN: What?
ODO: According to the sensors, there's nothing out there.
O'BRIEN: Where'd it go?
(There's a noise inside the runabout, moving about, then something oozes from a vent.)
ODO: It's a changeling.
(It morphs into a humanoid with a bland but alien face.)
O'BRIEN: Stay where you are or I'll fire.
LAAS: You. You are a metamorph?
(Recognise the voice? - Yes it is Martok, J G Hertzler using the name Garman.)
ODO: I'm a changeling, yes.
LAAS: Tell the monoform to put down its weapon.
ODO: Why did you board our ship?
LAAS: Because I sensed you were here. I had to see if it was true, if I'd finally found another metamorph.
ODO: You've never met another shape-shifter?
LAAS: I've been trying to find others of my kind for a long time.
O'BRIEN: I told you to stay where you are. How do we know he's not a Founder?
ODO: He's not. He's one of the hundred.
LAAS: The hundred?
ODO: Over the centuries, our people sent out one hundred infant changelings out into the galaxy. We were to learn about other species, and eventually return home to share what we'd experienced.
LAAS: That would explain why I was alone on Varala. I didn't even know what I was at first, or that I could assume other forms.
ODO: I was the same way.
O'BRIEN: I hate to interrupt, but shouldn't we get him in a containment field until we're sure he's telling the truth?
LAAS: I will allow myself to be taken prisoner to show my good faith, but only if you vouch for my safety. I do not trust humanoids.

[Captain's office]

SISKO: So, where is he now?
ODO: In a holding cell. Captain, he's not a threat to us. He's just a changeling who's travelled a long way to find out where he came from.
SISKO: You believe his story?
ODO: Yes, sir, I do.
SISKO: How can we be sure he's not a Founder?
ODO: If he were a Founder, he'd be infected with the same disease that's afflicting the entire Link. I asked Doctor Bashir to scan him. His morphogenic matrix is as stable as mine. Sir, with your permission, I'd like to release him.
SISKO: Well, Constable, I'm sure you can appreciate why I'd have reservations about that. We're still at war with your people. The Founders have deceived us before.
ODO: I realise that, sir, but he is not a Founder. He's one of the hundred, I'm sure of it. Sir, I'm asking you to trust me on this.
SISKO: All right, Constable. I'll release him into your custody.
ODO: Thank you, sir.

[Promenade - upper level]

ODO: When I found out our people were the leaders of the Dominion, I realised I had no place with them. This war they're fighting is wrong.
LAAS: I can understand their distrust of humanoids, but why try to conquer them? Better to avoid them altogether.
ODO: You don't much care for humanoids.
LAAS: I know from experience they don't much care for changelings.
ODO: I think you'll find the people here are different.
LAAS: Oh?
ODO: They accepted me.
LAAS: Have they? Is that why you've stayed?
ODO: I told you, I want no part of the Founders.
LAAS: But what about the hundred that were sent out? Haven't you tried to find any of them?
ODO: No. It's a huge galaxy. They could be anywhere.
LAAS: I found you.
ODO: I have a life here. I have friends.
LAAS: When did you first assume humanoid form?
ODO: A little over thirty years ago.
LAAS: So that's it. It's all still so new to you. I spent the first part of my life living among humanoids, as well.
ODO: How long ago was that?
LAAS: Over two hundred years. I must have been sent out earlier than you.
ODO: Or it could be that I was adrift for a long time before I was found.
LAAS: Either way, it would explain why you've chosen to stay here. I too was fascinated by humanoid life in the beginning.
ODO: But you lost interest.
LAAS: I found it limiting. The Varalans never accepted me as one of them, and I was never really able to fully mimic their appearance.
ODO: Faces aren't easy.
LAAS: No. And humanoids are not very tolerant of difference.
ODO: Some of them are. There are dozens of species on this station. They tolerate each other's differences very well.
LAAS: He has bumps on his forehead. She has a wrinkled nose. But they're basically alike. They're bipeds that eat, sleep, breathe. You and I are nothing like them.
ODO: We're changelings. We can be like them when we choose.
LAAS: I choose to be like them as little as possible. That's where we differ.
ODO: Let me show you where you'll be staying.

[Corridor]

ODO: You haven't told me your name.
LAAS: The Varalans called me Laas. In their language it means changeable. Not very imaginative, is it?
ODO: At least it's appropriate. My name means unknown sample. The scientist who found me didn't know what I was.

[Odo's quarters]

ODO: These are my quarters. I'll be staying somewhere else. Feel free to shape shift as you please. Some of these forms are quite interesting.
LAAS: This hasn't been used in some time.
ODO: I've been busy.
(Laas picks up a photo in a frame.)
LAAS: Who is this?
ODO: Her name is Kira.
LAAS: Ah. I had a mate once.
ODO: Oh?
LAAS: On Varala. Not long after I first assumed humanoid form.
ODO: And? What happened?
LAAS: We couldn't have children. That was important to her. Is it something that matters to this Kira?
ODO: We've never discussed it.
LAAS: Neither did we, at first. Do our people reproduce?
ODO: It's more complicated than that. In our natural state, we don't exist as separate entities.
LAAS: I don't understand.
ODO: Our people spend most of their time in the Link.
LAAS: The Link?
ODO: It involves a melding into one, a merging of thought and form, idea and sensation.
LAAS: You're speaking in riddles.
ODO: It's difficult to explain.
LAAS: Then don't. Show me.
ODO: Of course.
(Odo holds out his hand)
ODO: Take it.
(And the two become one.)
(Later, after they've separated again.)
LAAS: For the first time in my life I understand how I was meant to exist. You've given up a great deal to stay here.
ODO: Yes. Yes, I have. But I won't have anything to do with the Founders and their war.
LAAS: Odo, we Linked. I know the truth. You stayed here because of Kira. If it weren't for her, you'd be with our people. War or no war, you would be a Founder.

[Security office]

(Odo is light years away when Kira enters.)
KIRA: Hi.
ODO: Hello, Nerys.
KIRA: I can't believe it. Another changeling. What's he like?
ODO: He's complicated.
KIRA: Like you. Are you all right?
ODO: I'm fine.
KIRA: You seem far away.
ODO: We Linked.
KIRA: I see.
ODO: There's nothing to worry about. He's not a Founder. He's not trying to lure me to the Dominion. The Link is part of what we are. It comes as naturally to us as talking does to humanoids.
KIRA: It's a little more personal than talking, isn't it?
ODO: I suppose.
KIRA: So, do I get to meet him?
ODO: If you like.
KIRA: I would.
ODO: Then I'll arrange it.

[Quark's]

KIRA: Here they are.
(Odo and Laas enter.)
ODO: This is Laas.
KIRA: Nerys.
BASHIR: Julian.
EZRI: Ezri.
O'BRIEN: Miles.
LAAS: We've met.
O'BRIEN: Look, I'm sorry. We didn't know who you were at first. You gave us quite a scare when you rammed the runabout.
EZRI: I've always wondered how it would feel to be able to fly through space like that.
LAAS: It's a shame you're incapable of ever experiencing it.
EZRI: Guess so.
KIRA: Tell us about Varala.
BASHIR: No Federation ship's ever been there.
LAAS: It's just the same as any other planet overrun with humanoids. Cities and farms everywhere, other lifeforms displaced from their habitats. Once I migrated to the southern continent with a herd of volg. When we returned to our breeding grounds the following summer, they had been fenced off. The herd died out within two generations. It's always that way where humanoids thrive. They disrupt the natural balance.
QUARK: Who ordered the vilm steak?
BASHIR: Ah. You'd better keep that warm.
QUARK: Whatever you say.
(Quark leaves)
LAAS: The truth is, I prefer the so-called primitive lifeforms. They exist as they were meant to, by following their instincts. No words get in the way, no lies, no deceptions.
O'BRIEN: We're not the ones who can disguise ourselves as anything we want.
ODO: Meaning?
LAAS: Meaning shape-shifters are not to be trusted.
O'BRIEN: I trust Odo.
LAAS: Of course you trust Odo. Look at him. You've convinced him that he is as limited as you are.
ODO: Laas.
EZRI: You've seen through our evil plan.
BASHIR: Foiled again.
KIRA: It's not funny.
LAAS: No, I'm very worried for him.
KIRA: Odo can take care of himself.
ODO: Thank you, Colonel. Well, this has been interesting. If you'll excuse us, Colonel, Counsellor, Doctor, Chief. Laas.
0'BRIEN: Nice to see you again.
ODO: This way.

[Promenade - upper level]

ODO: Was it really necessary to insult my friends?
LAAS: I was merely speaking my mind.
ODO: You could call it that.
LAAS: Humanoids are such tragic creatures. They've lost the ability to take joy from simply existing, and yet they haven't evolved to the next level where consciousness exists independent of form.
ODO: You're certainly not afraid to make grand generalisations.
LAAS: I've been many things in my time, Odo. I speak from experience. Enough talk. Link with me.
ODO: Here?
LAAS: Why not?
ODO: I don't think that's a good idea.
LAAS: Are you embarrassed?
ODO: No.
LAAS: You don't want to do anything to remind them that you're not truly a humanoid.
ODO: I don't go out of my way to point it out, no.
LAAS: Why not? Are you afraid they will reject you?
ODO: I don't like to confront people with something that might make them uncomfortable.
LAAS: So you deny your true nature in order to fit in.
ODO: You're reading too much into it.
LAAS: Before I came here, when was the last time you assumed another form? You can't even remember. You've been pretending to be a humanoid for so long, it doesn't even occur to you that you can be anything else.
ODO: That's not true. I've been involved with other things lately.
LAAS: Like what? Courting Kira? She can't even Link with you.
ODO: Leave her out of this.
LAAS: It won't last.
ODO: The fact that your relationship failed doesn't mean that mine will.
LAAS: True. And if you're very lucky, you can watch her grow old and die.
ODO: I think you should stay out of my affairs.
LAAS: I don't want to see you make the same mistakes I made. You're wasting your time trying to be a humanoid. You're limiting yourself. Let's leave here, Odo. Let's find the others. A hundred were sent away and they're out there somewhere. If we can find even a few of them, we can form a new Link. Think of it, Odo. We can exist the way we were meant to. As changelings.

[Kira's quarters]

KIRA: I can't believe he actually thought you'd just drop everything and leave with him.
ODO: He just can't understand why I want to stay here.
KIRA: How did he take it when you said no? You did say no, didn't you?
ODO: I told him I'd think about it. I didn't want to dismiss it out of hand. He would have taken offence. Why do you look at me like that?
KIRA: It just bothers me that he thinks you're not happy here. It makes me think he knows something that I don't.
ODO: What makes you say that?
KIRA: He Linked with you. Something about that gave him the impression that you might want to leave here.
ODO: It's just wishful thinking on his part. The thought of the two of us going off together looking for the others, exploring the galaxy as changelings, it's very alluring. To him.
KIRA: Sounds like it's alluring to you, too.
ODO: I'm happy here.
KIRA: I'm sorry I can't Link with you.
ODO: It doesn't matter, Nerys. I love you.

[Odo's quarters]

(Odo comes in to find a fire burning.)
ODO: Computer, activate fire suppression sys (penny drops) Laas? I need to talk to you.
LAAS: You didn't realise it was me. Did you even know we could exist as fire? I didn't think so. No matter. Once we're away from here, I'll teach you to become things you've never even dreamed of.
ODO: I'm not leaving. I'm staying here.
LAAS: Why? So you can keep pretending to be one of them?
ODO: I'm sorry if you're disappointed.
LAAS: I'll survive. And when I find some of the others, I'll send for you. You'll change your mind. You'll join us.
ODO: It could take a long time for you find another changeling.
LAAS: Is that supposed to discourage me?
ODO: All I'm saying is you don't have to leave right away. I wouldn't mind the company of another changeling. I'm sure you wouldn't mind either.
LAAS: All right, Odo, I won't abandon you to these monoforms. As a favour to you, I'll stay a while.
ODO: You might as well. If you can't get along with me, what makes you think you can get along with any other changeling?
LAAS: Just remember, I have no interest in monoforms, even if they are your friends.
ODO: After what happened at Quark's, I don't think you have to worry about an overcrowded social schedule.
LAAS: Good.
(They Link.)

[Promenade]

(There's a commotion. Odo comes out of his office to find children playing in a thick mist on the ground.)
O'BRIEN: Great. The environmental system's out again.
BASHIR: There goes our holosuite reservation.
O'BRIEN: I'd better go see what the problem is.
ODO: Don't bother, Chief. There's nothing wrong with the environmental system.
O'BRIEN: Where's this fog coming from?
ODO: It's not fog, it's Laas.
O'BRIEN: Laas?
BASHIR: What's he doing?
ODO: Being fog, what's it look like?
O'BRIEN: Can't he be fog somewhere else?
BASHIR: Or at night, when no one's around?
ODO: He's not hurting anyone.
O'BRIEN: Still. It's creepy.
BASHIR: Careful, Miles. He might hear you.
O'BRIEN: Good.
ODO: Laas. Laas.
(The fog turns into Laas.)
ODO: Congratulations. You managed to disrupt the entire Promenade.
LAAS: I was just relaxing.
ODO: If you want to relax, do it in private.
LAAS: Did I embarrass you?
KLINGON: Ka'vek! What is this Founder doing here?
ODO: He's not a Founder. Now move along.
KLINGON: Don't change form in my presence again.
LAAS: I change form where I please. Look at him. Look at the hate in his eyes.
ODO: Laas.
KLINGON: Your hands are stained with the blood of Klingon warriors.
LAAS: But then, the stench would still be on them.
KLINGON: P'tak!
(The Klingon draws his dagger, so Laas morphs a sword blade.)
LAAS: Mine's bigger.
KLINGON: Ke'chaw!
(The Klingon stabs Laas but of course does no harm. Odo drags him away but a second Klingon gets impaled on Laas' blade.)
KLINGON: No!

[Captain's office]

SISKO: Doctor Bashir wasn't able to save the Klingon's life. General Martok has asked that Laas be detained until the Magistrate can determine jurisdiction.
ODO: Jurisdiction?
SISKO: The Klingons want to extradite him.
ODO: That's ridiculous. He killed that Klingon in self-defence.
WORF: That is in dispute.
ODO: He was about to draw his disruptor.
WORF: According to the other Klingon, he was reaching for his dagger.
SISKO: Are you saying that's not true?
ODO: It all happened too fast. But their intentions were obvious. One of them put a knife in his chest.
SISKO: The Klingons are arguing that since Laas knew he couldn't be harmed by a knife, that he wasn't justified in responding with deadly force.
ODO: Since when do Klingons resort to legal quibbling? They get involved in fights all the time. They never file charges. It isn't honourable.
SISKO: In this case, the Klingons are exercising their rights under the law.
ODO: Sir, they are only doing this because they distrust changelings.
WORF: He should not have provoked them.
ODO: Provoked them? They attacked Laas.
SISKO: They claim that he surrounded them menacingly.
ODO: They felt menaced by fog?
SISKO: They weren't the only ones. There are twelve other people who filed complaints.
ODO: Is it a crime to shape-shift on the Promenade?
SISKO: It's not a crime, but obviously it's not a good idea.
ODO: You're going to allow the Klingons extradite him knowing they won't give him a fair trial.
SISKO: That's not my decision. It's up to the Magistrate.
ODO: But you'd just as soon be rid of him. You never wanted him on the station in the first place. I practically had to beg you to let him out of that holding cell.
SISKO: That's quite enough, Constable. Now, Martok has expressed concerns about our security arrangements.
ODO: Meaning?
SISKO: He's not sure it's appropriate that you should be in charge of the prisoner.
ODO: May I ask why?
SISKO: Because you were a witness to the alleged crime.
ODO: That's a relief. For a moment I thought you were going to say it's because I'm a changeling.

[Promenade]

QUARK: Odo. I heard about your friend. Rumour has it the Klingons want to put him on trial.
ODO: They're the ones who should be put on trial. If they'd attacked anyone other than a changeling, they would be.

[Security office]

QUARK: You're probably right. That fog episode certainly didn't help matters.
ODO: Laas was only doing what comes naturally to us.
QUARK: You never pulled a stunt like that. You're smart enough to know that people don't want to be reminded that you're different. Who wants to see somebody turn into goo? I hope you don't do that around Kira.
ODO: Why shouldn't I?
QUARK: If she's anything like me, she'd rather you didn't. Don't you get it, Odo? We humanoids are a product of millions of years of evolution. Our ancestors learned the hard way that what you don't know might kill you. They wouldn't have survived if they hadn't have jumped back when they encountered a snake coiled in the muck. And now millions of years later, that instinct is still there. It's genetic. Our tolerance to other lifeforms doesn't extend beyond the two arm, two leg variety. I hate to break this to you, but when you're in your natural state, you're more than our poor old genes can handle.
ODO: So what are you saying, Quark? That the Klingons couldn't help what they did because of their genes?
QUARK: I'm not trying to excuse what they did. I'm only telling you why it happened. Watch your step, Odo. We're at war with your people. This is no time for a changeling pride demonstration on the Promenade.

[Holding cells]

DEPUTY: Constable.
ODO: I'd like to have a few minutes alone with the prisoner.
DEPUTY: Sorry, sir. I have my orders.
ODO: I don't know what to say.
LAAS: You could say you were wrong. You could say the people here are no different than any other humanoids.
ODO: Hopefully this will all get straightened out at your hearing.
LAAS: I am sure it will be fair and impartial.
ODO: Just tell them exactly what happened.
LAAS: My word against a humanoid's? Whom do you think this Magistrate is going to believe?
ODO: I shouldn't have convinced you to stay. If I had just let you go, none of this would have happened.
LAAS: My only consolation is that this may finally make you understand that you don't belong here. You saw the hatred in that Klingon's eyes. Perhaps now you'll recognise it when you see it hiding in the faces of your so-called friends. They tolerate you, Odo, because you emulate them. What higher flattery is there? I, who can be anything, choose to be like you. But even when you make yourself in their image, they know you are not truly one of them. They know that what you appear to be does not reflect what you really are. It's only a mask. What lies underneath is alien to them, and so they fear it. And that fear can turn to hate in the blink of an eye.

[Odo's quarters]

ODO: They're going to extradite him.
KIRA: You don't know that.
ODO: Yes, I do. And no one is going to do anything to stop it.
KIRA: There's not much anyone can do.
ODO: If he weren't a changeling, the Captain would find a way to intervene.
KIRA: Odo, that's unfair.
ODO: Is it?
KIRA: You're starting to sound like Laas.
ODO: Maybe that's because I'm starting to see things more clearly now.
KIRA: What is that supposed to mean?
ODO: Look at me, Nerys. What do you see?
KIRA: I see you.
ODO: No. No, this is just a form I've borrowed. I could just as easily be someone else or something else.
KIRA: I know that. But this is what you have always chosen to be. A man. A good and honest man. A man I fell in love with. Are you trying to tell me that he never really existed?
ODO: I don't know. I care about you more than anyone I've ever known. These last few months have been the happiest of my life. But even so, part of me wishes that Laas and I were out there right now searching for the others, existing as changelings. Because that's what I am. Not a humanoid. I'm a changeling.
KIRA: Well then maybe you're right. Maybe you do belong out there.

[Holding cells]

DEPUTY: Can I help you, Colonel?
KIRA: I need to talk to the prisoner. Alone.
DEPUTY: Aye, sir.
(The Deputy leaves and Kira lowers the forcefield.)
KIRA: Go to the third planet in the Koralis system. You'll find an orbital tether running down to an abandoned mining complex. I'll tell Odo to meet you there.
LAAS: Is this some kind of a trick?
KIRA: Do you want to get out of here or not?
(Laas steps out of the cell.)
KIRA: That vent will lead you through some conduits to an airlock.
LAAS: Why?
KIRA: I love him.

[Captain's office]

SISKO: Escaped? How did he get through the containment field?
KIRA: I can't explain it. All I can tell you is what I saw. He turned himself into some kind of plasma energy and forced his way through. Before I could stop him, he had disappeared into the air vent.
WORF: According to the operations log, one of the airlocks was activated shortly after that.
SISKO: If he left the station, why didn't our sensors detect him?
WORF: A Corvallen freighter was leaving at about the same time. He must have shadowed it to keep from being spotted.
KIRA: He could be anywhere by now.
SISKO: General Martok is not going to be happy about this
WORF: By fleeing, the changeling has demonstrated his guilt.
ODO: Either that, or his lack of faith in our justice system.
WORF: He must be apprehended and brought to trial.
SISKO: Mister Worf, have all available runabouts begin a sector wide search.
WORF: Aye, sir.
ODO: Good luck
(Worf leaves.)
SISKO: Constable, I know it's a long shot, but I'm sure you can agree we should do everything we can to find him.
ODO: Of course.
SISKO: Dismissed.

[Turbolift]

ODO: Level Nine.
KIRA: You didn't hide it very well. That you're glad he escaped.
ODO: I should have known he'd be able to escape. What's a forcefield to a changeling with his abilities?
KIRA: You said you wished you were out there with him. Well, it's not too late.
ODO: I don't understand.
KIRA: He's waiting for you at an abandoned mine on Koralis Three.
ODO: You helped him escape.
KIRA: I don't want you to stay here out of some sense of obligation. Good luck. I hope you find what you're looking for.

[Mines]

(A runabout has arrived at a cratered planet.)
ODO: Laas?
LAAS: I knew you would come. This is a new beginning for us, Odo. A new beginning for our people. You and I are about to embark on the adventure of our lives. What's wrong?
ODO: I'm not going with you.
LAAS: Why are you here?
ODO: I've came to say goodbye.
LAAS: Don't be a fool. What are you holding on to? Kira? Even she knows that this is what's best for you. Why else would she have helped me to escape?
ODO: You really don't know, do you? You don't have any idea what it means to love someone enough to let them go.
LAAS: She let you go so that you could find out where you belong.
ODO: I know where I belong. Laas, humanoids are not the petty, limited creatures you perceive them to be. What Nerys did should prove that even to you.
LAAS: Love conquers all, is that it?
ODO: I'm sorry you can't understand. You've done many things, been many things, but you've never known love.
LAAS: Compared to the Link, it is a pale shadow, a feeble attempt to compensate for the isolation that monoforms feel because they are trapped within themselves.
ODO: Maybe the fact that it's not easy is what makes it worthwhile.
LAAS: Odo, the Founders are dying. This could be your last chance to exist the way you were meant to. Don't throw it away.
ODO: You'd better go. They're looking for you. Good luck.
(Odo offers his hand.)
LAAS: And to you, Odo. You'll need it more than I.

[Kira's quarters]

(Kira is praying.)
KIRA: Watch over him. Help him find his way.
(Doorbell.)
KIRA: Yes.
(Odo enters.)
KIRA: I didn't think I'd see you again.
ODO: I couldn't go.
KIRA: If I ever made you feel that you can't be yourself with me, I'm sorry. I want to know you the way you really are.
(Odo morphs into a glowing cloud and envelops her. She loves it.)

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