Science officer's log, stardate 47603.3.
l am going to investigate an unusual particle field
beyond the wormhole.
Odo has come along, hoping to find clues to his origin.
So Ensign Manwaring spent two weeks avoiding the Assay Office
thinking Freyla loved Lieutenant Strek,
but Strek was seeing Security Officer Seelee.
And Freyla was waiting for Manwaring to ask her out.
Officer Seelee has seemed distracted at work lately.
l'm going to have to talk to her about this.
l didn't tell you that story to get Seelee in trouble.
l fail to see any point in your story at all
except to illustrate the foolish humanoid preoccupation
with romantic coupling.
The point is that sometimes we don't see love when it's staring us in the face.
How fascinating.
Let me give you another example.
You know Lysia Arlin?
The Bolian woman who runs the jumja kiosk.
l've noticed she's been making visits to the security office lately.
She has a cousin who's interested in a career in law enforcement.
You don't say.
Are you implying that Lysia Arlin is interested in me?
- l would have noticed. - Exactly my point.
You must be mistaken.
How can you be so sure?
Because women don't react to me in that manner.
You've never had a female friend?
l consider Major Kira a friend.
That's not what l meant. l'm talking about...
an intimate friendship.
That's a very personal question.
l'm sorry, but after seven lifetimes
the impersonal questions aren't much fun any more.
Looks like we found our particle field.
They're omicron particles.
ls that unusual?
Omicron particles are incredibly rare.
They're created by certain types of matter-antimatter reactions.
The field is coming from the system's second planet.
Let's go closer.
That's strange.
The particles are concentrated in one small valley.
Sensors aren't picking up any life-forms.
The particle field may be interfering.
Let's beam down for a closer look.
l'm getting a lot of interference.
The particle field must be blocking the tricorder functions.
The interference is coming from here.
This must be the source of the field.
lt's probably some kind of matter-antimatter reactor.
Lieutenant, l suggest we leave before we're discovered.
Give me a minute.
Take all the time you want.
lt's about time. Enter.
Where have you been?
Er...l'm sorry. We're closed. Come back in the morning.
l didn't come for a drink.
Your cousin Kono just tried to board the station.
Kono? Here? What an unexpected pleasure.
When we tried to talk to him he beamed onto a Tellarite freighter.
Why would Kono be coming here?
l wondered so l did a little checking.
He robbed a museum on Cardassia V.
My guess is he thought someone would sell the merchandise.
- You have no proof. - Quark, get this into that twisted brain.
You won't get away with anything while Odo's gone.
l'm watching you.
You sound like you don't like me.
Don't like you?
You collaborated with the Cardassians,
you cheat your customers and you're dangerous.
l don't just not like you, l despise you.
l'm sorry l mentioned it.
What do l need a job for?
You're 15 years old. lt's time you took a little responsibility.
- Look. Nog works, doesn't he? - Yeah.
You're almost as old as he is.
At your age l had a job and it was a terrific experience.
l'll see if Nog can get me a job at Quark's.
l was thinking of you helping out Chief O'Brien.
Chief O'Brien?
You do like Chief O'Brien, don't you?
He's OK but l don't know anything about engineering.
This is the perfect opportunity to learn.
Besides, it'll look great on your application to Starfleet Academy.
l'll give it a try.
That's all l ask.
Are we being accused of some kind of crime?
Have you committed one?
- We've just arrived here. - So you keep saying.
Check our ship's logs and they'll prove it to you.
Logs can be tampered with.
You know that. You claim to be a security officer.
l am a security officer.
lf we were guilty we wouldn't be here. l'll prove it.
Computer, one to beam up.
Don't worry, he'll be right back.
What did l tell you?
That's interesting, you disappearing like that.
l've got 22 people who have disappeared without a trace.
22 missing people? Did they all disappear at the same time?
No. lt started in the fall.
But the last victim vanished six hours ago.
Six hours ago we weren't in this system.
Accompany us back to our station and they will verify everything we've said.
Do you have any other suspects?
You were my only ones.
l'm not saying everybody here is perfect.
We have petty thefts, an occasional fight,
but kidnapping? Murder?
Nah. We've never had anything like that before.
l see.
Have you scanned for signs of transporter activity?
That's the first thing l tried. l didn't find anything.
l've been protector for ten years.
l'm pretty good at my job. People trust me.
Whoever's behind these disappearances is smarter than l am.
l have to admit, l'm starting to get desperate.
Maybe what you need is a little help.
These are the strangers l heard about? Shouldn't they be in a cell?
They have nothing to do with the disappearances.
Odo here is a security officer. He's going to help us.
- How will you do that? - Your daughter is the latest victim.
- When did you last see her? - This morning.
But Taya saw her later, in her workroom, around midday.
- Taya? - My granddaughter.
Colyus, Anetra's gone like the others. We're never going to find them.
- How can you be sure? - l haven't been proven wrong yet.
l'd like to scan the area again for transporter activity.
Go right ahead.
l'm not getting a clear reading.
The omicron particles put out by the reactor
are creating too much interference.
Must be your equipment. Our scanners never give any trouble.
Certain transporters leave behind a residual electrostatic charge.
Could we check Anetra's workroom?
l'd like to talk to your granddaughter.
She's across the square. l'll take you to her.
Don't be afraid. This is a friend of Protector Colyus.
- He wants to ask you a few questions. - Do l have to?
Not if you don't want to.
But it would help if we could talk about your mother's disappearance.
She hasn't disappeared.
She'll be back.
The last time you saw your mother, did she seem upset about anything?
Nervous, perhaps, or worried?
She seemed fine.
When will she be coming home?
l don't know, Taya. Let's go. lt's past your bedtime.
l'd like to ask more questions.
lt'll wait till morning.
Chief, here's the new apprentice we discussed.
Yes, sir. Welcome aboard.
Well, let's get to work.
l was just about to run a diagnostic.
Mr Sisko...
l almost forgot.
For you.
Thanks, Dad.
lt's standard equipment for station personnel.
You want me to spy on Quark for you?
l wouldn't call it spying.
l just thought you might keep an eye on him.
- When you're free. - OK.
Then you'll do it?
Yes. Garak has been lecturing me on surveillance. l'll try it.
- Sisko to Kira. - This is Kira.
We received word that Vedek Bareil is coming aboard the station.
His ship just arrived at docking bay 12.
lf you'd given us notice we could have arranged a reception.
That's what l wanted to avoid.
What brings you here?
Prylar Rhit invited me to speak at the station shrine.
But to be honest l've been looking for an opportunity to see you.
l'm honoured.
Honoured. Actually, l was hoping you'd be happy to see me.
Oh, l am.
Very happy.
Hello, Taya.
Remember me? We met last night.
You wanted to ask me questions.
That's right. About your mother.
l understand you were the last one to see her.
l guess.
What happened to your face?
Nothing happened to my face. l'm a shape-shifter.
l just don't do faces very well.
l have the ability to change my shape to look like other things.
- You mean you're a changeling? - That's right.
There's no such thing as changelings.
They're make-believe. Everyone knows that.
l'm not make-believe.
All right, then let me see you change into something.
Maybe later.
Right now l feel like talking.
lf l were a changeling l'd change shapes all the time.
Everyone would want to be my friend.
l wish it were that easy.
Why wouldn't it be?
When l was younger
people were always asking me to change shape for them.
They'd pretend to be my friends
but all they wanted was to see me become a chair or an animal.
None of them really cared about me.
Maybe they were scared of you.
Some of them probably were.
l'm not afraid of you.
l'm glad to hear that.
Were your parents changelings, too?
l never knew my parents.
l'm looking for them.
My father died when l was four.
l don't remember him very well.
The last time l saw my mother
she was in her workroom making pottery.
When l went to get her for the midday meal, she was gone.
How did she act when you last saw her?
She was making a vase for Mr Depnen, the baker.
He really likes my mom
so he saves us the best bread.
Has your mother ever gone anywhere before?
A trip? Vacation?
We don't go on trips.
No. We never leave the valley.
Why not?
Nobody ever leaves the valley.
Everything we need is right here.
l see.
- She's never coming back, is she? - Why do you say that?
That's what my grandfather told me.
Taya, l don't know where your mother is.
But l promise you l'm going to do everything l can
to find her and bring her back to you.
OK, one more time.
These are all isolinear rods.
The ones with the white labels relate to the systems controls,
the red-labelled ones are for library and information storage
and the blue ones are...?
- l'll never get this. - Give yourself some time.
l didn't get this until a year after l joined Starfleet.
You're not going off to the Academy tomorrow.
- What's wrong? - Nothing.
Why does everyone assume that l'm going to the Academy?
You want to go, don't you?
Not really.
- Does your father know? - He wouldn't understand.
l know how you feel.
My father wanted me to be a musician.
lt's true. l was supposed to be a cello player.
He made me practise everyday.
l got to be pretty good.
When l was 17, he sent a tape
to the Aldebaran Music Academy.
- What happened? - l got in.
He was so happy. l couldn't tell him l didn't want to go.
Two days before l was due to leave l signed up for Starfleet.
- What did your dad do? - He was furious.
But once he calmed down he saw how much l wanted to join.
Nowadays he introduces me as,
''my son, Senior Chief Specialist Miles Edward O'Brien.''
The point is you've got to live your own life.
- l don't want to disappoint Dad. - Your dad's not bad.
He'll come around. Just give him time.
what did you think?
Of your speech?
l liked everything about it... except the content.
You disagree with my interpretation of the prophecy?
''Disagree'' is a bit of an understatement.
''Passionately disagree'' is more like it.
Taking a prophecy and showing
it can mean exactly the opposite of the accepted interpretation is...
lt's brilliant. lnsightful.
Maybe we should talk about something else.
Like what?
The llvian katterpod crop maybe?
Or...the new nature preserve in Hedrikspool Province.
No? Maybe the standings in the springball championship.
- You follow springball? - Religiously...
if you'll pardon the expression. l even played a little.
Me, too. l had Chief O'Brien design a springball holosuite programme.
Let's go.
You want to play springball?
Why not? Unless you have a more pressing engagement.
- Not that l can think of. - Good.
l could use the practice.
From what l understand, you...helped found this colony.
That's right. l'm the oldest one left.
The colony must be important to you. You raised a family here.
l'm proud of what we've accomplished.
Then explain something to me.
This colony is undergoing a serious crisis.
Your daughter is among the missing. Yet you hardly seem concerned.
l can't change things.
l wish l could.
Now can l go?
- Are you all right? - Why wouldn't l be?
- You seem to be in pain. - Why?
l can see it in your eyes.
Perhaps you'd like to sit here and rest.
lt wouldn't do much good.
You see, l'm dying.
l'm sorry.
l've had a good life. No regrets.
l wish l could see my daughter once again.
lf there are no more questions...
Actually, there is one thing l've been wondering.
How come... no one ever leaves the village?
l haven't met anyone who's been outside this valley.
People around here don't like to travel.
- And there's no place to go. - Have you left the valley?
Now that you mention
When l asked Colyus if he searched outside the valley,
he looked as if he'd never thought of it.
l find that very peculiar.
We would have searched the entire countryside.
l suppose Colyus thought there was no point to it.
But l guarantee you...
there are no missing people out there.
- You're sure of that? - Absolutely.
...and then the great Minra said to the evil changeling,
''Maybe you can turn into a mountain or a ghergher beast or a tornado,
''but those are big things and big things are easy.
''l bet you can't turn into something small, like a loaf of grain bread.''
And the changeling said, ''Yes, l can.'' And he did.
- Guess what happened. - The great Minra gobbled him up.
How'd you know that?
The changeling in your story wasn't very smart.
Could you turn into a loaf of grain bread?
l suppose l could.
- Show me. - And let you gobble me up?
l don't think so.
See that tree? Sometimes we go there to play.
That's the furthest l've ever been.
Wait here.
- l want to come. - Do as l say.
Lieutenant, come with me.
l'm still not reading any other life-forms,
and no indication of any power source.
Did you see that? lt just vanished!
lt happened as we passed those bushes.
Taya, don't come any closer!
But l brought you some harrid berries.
Odo says you know what happened to the missing villagers.
lt's a little complicated to explain. lt would be easier to show you.
May l have your cloak?
- My cloak? - Please.
Thank you.
Stand back.
- l'm waiting. - This may take a minute.
l don't want to make a mistake.
That was my favourite cloak!
Please, stay where you are.
Are you saying somebody used our reactor to transport the victims away?
No. lt's not a transporter.
lt's a holographic projector.
lt manipulates an omicron particle field to form physical objects.
But what about the missing people?
The people are made up of omicron particles, too.
You mean they're...
l'm afraid so.
The component that controls the particle field is breaking down
so people are disappearing.
That's ridiculous! Some of the victims were my friends.
One of them is my nephew.
Everyone and everything in this village is a holographic projection.
You're just desperate for an answer!
Listen to her. l know this is difficult to accept.
lt will take more than a vanishing cloak
to make me believe l'm a hologram.
l'd be sceptical too but we have further proof.
What kind of proof?
The holographic field ends just outside this valley.
Taya tried to reach past the edge and her arm disappeared.
- ls she all right? - She's fine.
Her arm rematerialised as soon as she pulled it back inside.
Where exactly did this happen?
- We could show you. - l think you'd better.
- l'm sorry. - Don't apologise.
l should have seen it coming.
Where did you learn to play?
We played at the Singha refugee camp.
There wasn't much else to do.
Yeah, l was at Relliketh.
And now...
here we are.
That was delicious.
Thank the replicator.
- Let me help. - Your shoulder...
Never felt better.
Maybe l do need some help after all.
l'll have to thank Prylar Rhit for inviting you here.
You'd better tell him soon.
Prylar Rhit... is going to be returning to Bajor.
lt appears he fancies himself something...of a dabo player.
He's run up a...sizable gambling debt.
lt's caused...quite a scandal in the Vedek Assembly.
Let me get this straight.
The man who invited you here...
owes Quark?
- Who? - The troll who runs the dabo tables.
- l got to go. - Why?
To talk to Prylar Rhit. l know why he invited you here.
People, please!
Please! Quiet!
Quiet! Calm down!
Calm down. We have to make a decision here.
You should be looking for my wife!
Not listening to strangers and their lies.
You all witnessed what happened at the edge of the field.
Merruk, we saw your hand disappear.
- lt was a trick. - lt wasn't.
How come we've never known?
Because you never left the valley.
lt's possible we were programmed not to leave
so that we wouldn't learn the truth.
We have to shut down the system.
lf we don't fix it soon the whole village will disappear. said if you can fix the machine
you may be able to bring back the missing people.
We hope so.
What if you can't get the projector back on?
This village will cease to exist.
The system's only a few months away from complete failure anyway.
We have a chance to save you.
Grandfather, please. Let her try.
What do you think?
We can't go on like this.
We should let her shut it down.
Are there any objections?
- Then it's settled. - l can't wait to see my mother.
Your face isn't so scary once you get used to it.
Thank you, Taya.
All right, here we go.
Don't look so surprised. l'm as real as you are.
l was happy living on Yadera Prime
until the Dominion took over and changed our whole way of life.
l realised one morning that l didn't really belong there anymore.
So l came here.
l used a hologenerator to recreate all the things that l'd lost.
l have lived here in my village for 30 years.
l've watched the people marry...
have children...
grow old...
And sometimes l even forgot that they were holograms.
But it's over.
lt's over.
And l would appreciate it lf you'd take me back to Yadera Prime.
But what about the villagers? What about your granddaughter?
She's not real.
Technically, you're right. By our definition Taya's not real.
Her memories are stored in a computer.
Her body is made up of omicron particles.
But is our definition of life the only valid one?
She'd say she was real.
She thinks. She feels.
She only seems to.
lt's all an illusion. An illusion l created.
You created the village 30 years ago. Taya's only ten.
l designed the programme so the villagers could have children.
Then Taya's personality is a combination of her parents'.
You had nothing to do with it.
- But she's still a hologram. - Maybe...
But l saw the way you held her hand
and the way you comforted her.
l didn't want her to get hurt.
lf she's not real, what does it matter?
lt matters. lt matters to me.
Why should it matter to you if a hologram cries?
Because l love her.
And she loves you.
Don't you see? She's real to you.
She's real to me. They're all real.
You can't turn your back on them.
Jake. How was work?
lt's kind of fun working with Chief O'Brien.
- But l don't know what l'm doing. - You will.
- l guess so. - l'm glad you stuck with it.
l don't want to join Starfleet.
- Since when? - Since forever.
Starfleet is too much like you.
l need to find what's me.
- Does that make any sense? - Perfect sense.
lt does?
lt's your life, Jake. You have to choose your own way.
There is only one thing l want from you:
find something you love,
then do it the best you can.
l'll try.
Good. Then you'll make the old man proud.
l'd better go study. l'm trying to figure out those isolinear rods.
Hello, Quark.
Major. To what do l owe this unexpected pleasure?
We caught your cousin slipping back on to this station
and guess what we confiscated from him?
Bone carvings.
Stolen from a museum on Cardassia V.
l knew he was no good.
l only wish we could have caught the two of you together.
Life is full of disappointments.
Prylar Rhit tells me that you encouraged him
to invite Bareil here.
- That a crime? - Not at all.
l just wanted to thank you.
l found him very...
Not diverting enough.
Nothing to do but reactivate the system and see what happens.
Wait. Lieutenant, l'd like to ask you a favour.
lf this works, please don't tell the others that l'm...not like them.
l don't want to be treated any differently.
Of course.
Well, you did it.
We upgraded the system's memory and realigned the generators.
- You won't have to worry now. - But we're holograms!
We're alive and with our families. That's what counts.
l wonder who created all this?
Whoever it was did a fine job.
He did, didn't he? lt was good working with you, Odo.
Next time you're here l hope you come and see us.
l would like that.
We don't get that many visitors.
- My mother's back. - l'm glad.
- You're leaving. - l'm afraid so.
l'll miss you.
l'll miss you, too.
Thank you for bringing my mother back.
l hope you find your parents, too.
Thank you, Taya.
So do l.
Computer, two to beam up.

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