From The Back Cover:
THE DOMINION: Since its defeat in the war for the Alpha Quadrant, the Great Link -- the living totality of the shape-shifting Founders -- has struggled with questions. At its moment of greatest doubt, its fate, and that of the Dominion itself, is tied to Odo's investigation of his kind's true motives for sending a hundred infant changelings out into the galaxy. As Odo searches for answers and takes a hard look at his past choices, Taran'atar reaches a turning point in his own quest for clarity... one from which there may be no going back.
Odo returns to the Great Link after several months away, tracking rumors of Opaka Sulan and the Ascendants. He notes a nearby supernova dominating the sky and finds his fellow changelings to be agitated. He continues his work to reform the Dominion from within, presenting new perspectives to the Link and trying to foster new attitudes in Weyoun and Jem’Hadar Seventh Rotan’talag (one of the few Jem’Hadar found to be free of his white addiction). Spurred by the actions of defective clone Weyoun 6, Odo salvaged Weyoun 8’s neural transcoder implant in the hopes that a future clone would also question the status quo. Odo posted both “aberrations” aboard Jem’Hadar Attack Vessel 971, which he visits frequently for private reflection and to maintain a connection to time and his life outside of the Link. Laas, having made it his personal mission to seek out more of the Hundred, returns with two of the lost changelings and the remains of a third, killed by solids. He decries the violence of the solids but is also incensed at the Link for sending defenseless, ignorant, untrained changelings out into the galaxy to suffer loneliness and death. Laas questions why the Hundred were sent out in the first place and how they were expected to accomplish a mission when they know nothing about it or even about themselves.
Odo finds a Founder (whom he nicknames Indurane, Bajoran for “ancient”) willing to answer Laas’ questions and to provide more insight on their people. Changelings do not appear to have any gender and do not procreate. Without procreation, each changeling death diminishes the whole and brings their species closer to extinction.
The Great Link is made up of individuals, but also contains a mass of unformed biomatter. Pieces of this mass occasionally separate to become new individuals, but there are no changeling infants; the term “newly formed” has no direct parallel to humanoid life. These new beings’ small size and lack of shape-shifting abilities is due to inexperience rather than youth. Legend tells that a changeling god, the Progenitor, created the universe, ultimately taking a group of solids and remaking them in its own image, creating the changelings by design rather than evolution. The Progenitor then disappeared. Hoping to reconnect with their god and to stave off extinction, the Founders sent the Hundred out into the galaxy as a means of luring the Progenitor back to the Omarion Nebula. The Hundred were sent out ignorant of the plan to prevent solids from exploiting it and were not expected to actively search for the Progenitor. Indurane says they hid these truths from Odo and Laas out of shame, as the Link failed the Hundred, though the Hundred did not fail the Link. Many believe that the nova in the sky signals the Progenitor’s return, so Odo, Laas, and Indurane travel to the nova to investigate.
Odo keeps to himself during the journey, feeling distant from his people and reflecting on his new knowledge. He struggles to accept his people’s lack of procreation and eventual extinction, and he’s wary of the fanciful legends and of how the Founders will react if they don’t find the Progenitor. Upon arrival, they discover a planetary body composed of bio-mimetic material rather than rock or gas. However, this immense changeling is dead, killed by radiation from the nova (which was caused by the Ascendant’s isolytic subspace weaponry). Indurane and the other Founders are grief-stricken. The Great Link decides to disperse across the galaxy, to wallow in their anguish and guilt over failing the Hundred and luring the Progenitor to its death. Only Odo and Laas remain to prevent the entire Dominion from descending into chaos and revolt, and to prepare for the imminent Ascendant threat.
Vorta commander Vannis investigates the Ascendant crash site on the Sen-Ennis moon before dealing with a famine. Overne III recently suffered an agricultural plague that wiped out most of their food stores. As mass producers of Jem’Hadar ships and weapons, their population must be maintained. Vannis claims 75% of the food supplies of new Dominion member world Rindamil III, where the population is deemed to be less important. The Rindamil can offer no resistance without suffering the wrath of the Jem’Hadar, leaving many of their people to die from malnutrition and starvation over the coming months.
Taran’atar finds that his lack of ketracel-white, though non-lethal, causes him to sleep and to dream. He becomes increasingly agitated and convinced that he is defective and his mission is futile. He abhors the stations’ residents, and though Kira has earned his respect, she serves as the figurehead of his frustrations. Taran’atar requests permission to visit the Founder Leader. She waived her right to a trial and agreed to solitary imprisonment so that Odo would return to the Great Link. Due to her longevity (she’s already more than 700 years old), her sentence will be reexamined every 50 years. Taran’atar vows that his intention is not to release her and that he wouldn’t do anything to endanger her life, claiming only that he “wishes to be of service to one of his gods.” Though many people are still wary of his motives, the request is granted, so he and Kira travel to Ananke Alpha, a maximum security facility hidden within an asteroid in a barren star system. In a truth kept even from himself, he hopes that the Founder will release him from Odo’s “pointless” mission and allow him to return to the Dominion. The Founder states that Odo’s loyalties are divided, that his efforts to barter peace will fail, and that she believes he will abandon the Link for as long as Kira lives. She also declares that the Founders are not gods and chastises Taran’atar for presuming that he could help her.
Fearing that her isolation has impacted her state of mind, Taran’atar helps the Founder to escape. Using his shrouding abilities as a remote image generator, he makes it appear that she’s still in her cell while he exits several layers of security, with the changeling disguised as his clothing. When the illusion fails, he kills many guards and penetrates the final security barriers, though he suffers an intense radiation burst and a phaser shot. He kills Kira to reach the runabout, deliberately disobeying Odo’s orders to obey her. However, he awakens to discover that the escape was all a dream. The Founder denigrated his visit and they left the prison without incident. Shrouding can’t function as he used it in his dream. Trapped in the Alpha Quadrant, lacking purpose, and doubting his own physical abilities and sanity, he snaps. He destroys his quarters, imagining that he’s slaughtering the station crew. When Kira and Ro respond to the internal security alarm, he attacks, breaking Ro’s spine and plunging a knife deep into Kira’s heart. Leaving them both to die, he heads for a runabout to escape to the Gamma Quadrant.
This novel explains how and why another Weyoun is featured in the DS9 relaunch novels, despite the fact the Female Changeling had declared Weyoun 8 to be the last clone in “What You Leave Behind.”
Odo and Kira’s unseen closet conversation in “You are Cordially Invited” is depicted. Odo tells Kira that he shouldn’t have agreed to her request that he not to link with the Founder leader; it was unfair of her to ask him to break off contact with his people and to so go against his nature. It’s also unfair of Kira to be angry at him for having humanoid sex with the Founder; he was trying to teach the latter more about humanoid life. He tries to educate her about changelings and the Link, though he himself doesn’t know many details. Linking doesn’t mean sharing everything one knows, only what they chose to share. He draws parallels between Kira’s connection to the Prophets and his to the Founders, and that they’ve both done things that they aren’t proud of on behalf of their peoples. He acknowledges that he acted out of character and that makes it hard for Kira to trust him, but they begin to repair their friendship.
Vannis visits the moon where the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis fought, as seen in "Battle Lines" and Rising Son.
Kira picks up the station’s newest runabout, NCC-75353, which she names Yolja after a river on Bajor.
Ananke Alpha first appeared in the comic Alien Spotlight: Cardassians.
- Alsara • Manuele Atoa • Aleco • Sam Bowers • Female Changeling • Kalena Hoku • Indurane • Jenek • Kira Nerys • Laas • Jacqueline Matheson • Misja • Odo • Rekan'ganar • Ro Laren • Rotan'talag • Taran'atar • Teelent • T'Kren • Vannis • Weyoun
- Referenced only
- Leonard James Akaar • Arissa • Julian Bashir • Jadzia Dax • Elim Garak • Gavi • Iloja of Prim • Joshua • Ethan Locken • Lynn • Akellen Macet • Mora Pol • Nog • Miles O'Brien • Opaka Sulan • Raiq • William Ross • Benjamin Sisko • Jake Sisko • Elias Vaughn
- Ananke Alpha • Deep Space 9 • Ennis moon • Founders' homeworld • Great Link • Omarion Nebula • Rindamil III
- Referenced only
- Bajor • Bajoran wormhole • Delta Quadrant • Ee • Innerol V • Karemma • Kendra Province • Merakord II • Overne III • Rintanna • Sidau • Sindorin • Yolja River
Starships and vehicles
- Jem'Hadar Attack Vessel 971 • USS Rio Grande (Danube-class) • USS Mjolnir (Norway-class) • Type-10 shuttlecraft • USS Yolja (Danube-class)
- Referenced only
- USS Defiant • Jem'Hadar fighter • USS Sutherland
Races and cultures
- Bajoran • Changeling • Human • Jem'Hadar • Orion • Progenitor • Rindamil • Tellarite • Vorta • Vulcan
- Referenced only
- Alorex • Andorian • Ascendant • Breen • Cardassian • Ferengi • Hirogen • Merakordi • Ourentia • Overne • Prophets • Trelian • Varalan
States and organizations
- Bajoran Militia • Dominion • Hundred • Starfleet • United Federation of Planets
- Referenced only
- Ennis • Section 31 • Sen Ennis
- Dominion War • isolytic subspace weapon • kar'takin • ketracel-white • morphogenic virus • paladin • raktajino • shroud • transcorder implant • virtual display device • waveguide
- The storyline continues in Warpath.
- This novel explains how and why another Weyoun is featured in the DS9 relaunch, despite the fact the Female Changeling had declared Weyoun 8 to be the last clone of Weyoun in the DS9 episode: "What You Leave Behind".
- Vannis visits the moon where the Ennis and the Nol-Ennis fought, as seen in "Battle Lines" and Rising Son.
- The unseen conversation that took place between Odo and Kira in the DS9 episode: "You Are Cordially Invited" is depicted here.
- Odo recalls killing the Changeling posing as Krajensky in the DS9 episode: "The Adversary".
- Ananke Alpha appears in the comic "Alien Spotlight: Cardassians".
- This novel is written by David R. George III
- This is the second of two stories in Worlds of Deep Space Nine, Volume Three. The first story contained in this book is Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed.
Out of the Cocoon
The Haunting of Deck Twelve
|The above chronology placements are based on the primary placement in 2376.|
The Pocket Books Timeline places events from this story in two other timeframes:
You Are Cordially Invited
Chapters 2, 4, 6
Year of Hell, Part II