Although Dukat loved both Naprem and their daughter, he knew the Occupation was drawing to a close and that Ziyal would not be accepted on either Bajor or Cardassia Prime. Therefore, he sent the two of them away to live on the neutral planet of Lissepia, aboard the transport ship Ravinok in 2366. En route, the Ravinok was attacked and downed on Dozaria by Breen warships. Naprem was killed in the crash, while Ziyal and the other survivors were captured and forced to labor in a nearby Breen dilithium mine.
Six years later in early 2372, the fate of the Ravinok reached the outside world. Dukat learned that Major Kira Nerys was mounting a search for the transport and arranged to have himself join her. Dukat had intended to kill Ziyal if he should find her alive, as the fact he had an illegitimate half-Bajoran daughter posed a threat to his political position and legitimate family. Ziyal was aware of this fact from the other Cardassian prisoners, but she still hoped that her father would rescue her as her mother promised. When Dukat found her as he and Kira liberated the camp, Ziyal told him that she would rather die than to be apart from him. As he looked upon his daughter, Dukat found he could not kill her. (DS9: "Indiscretion")
Following Ziyal's return to Cardassia with her father, the expected political backlash was swift. Dukat was demoted from his position as chief military adviser to the Detapa Council and assigned to command the freighter Groumall, while his wife took their children and left him. Meanwhile, Ziyal was shunned by most Cardassians for her Bajoran half. She later confided with Kira that the only good thing about her life on Cardassia was her father, who spent time with her and never acted as though he were ashamed of her. Since he was the only family she had, Ziyal followed Dukat to the Groumall. However, after the Groumall was destroyed and Dukat took command of a captured Klingon Bird-of-Prey, Ziyal returned with Kira to live on Deep Space 9. Dukat had conceded that it would be a better life for her on the station than accompanying him on his war against the Klingons. (DS9: "Return to Grace")
Aboard Deep Space 9
Aboard the station, Ziyal developed a close friendship with Major Kira, coming to think of her as a sort of big sister. Ziyal also became drawn to Elim Garak, who was the only Cardassian on the station. Garak was initially concerned that Ziyal might try to kill him, due to the enmity between him and Dukat, though the two eventually developed a relationship. Dukat was outraged when he learned of this development in 2373 upon his return visit to Deep Space 9. At that time, Dukat had been secretly negotiating the alliance between the Cardassian Union and the Dominion. Knowing that he would soon rule over Cardassia itself, Dukat attempted to take Ziyal back with him, promising that "things will change" this time around. Ziyal refused, since Garak was lost in the Gamma Quadrant and she had promised she would wait for his return. In response, Dukat disowned her and would soon condemn her to death with a plan to destroy the Bajoran sun. (DS9: "For the Cause", "In Purgatory's Shadow", "By Inferno's Light")
The Dominion War
Ziyal continued living aboard Deep Space 9 until the outbreak of the Dominion War, and the station was under threat of attack. Kira arranged to have Ziyal admitted to a Bajoran university in the care of her friends. There, she discovered a passion and talent for art, through which she hoped to bring Cardassians and Bajorans closer together by showing that they have a common viewpoint. However, she was never truly accepted on Bajor either, since her father was the hated Gul Dukat. Soon after Dukat retook Deep Space 9, he and Ziyal talked and he told her he may have "overreacted" previously. Ziyal agreed to return with Dukat to the station; despite his actions she was willing to forgive him, because living with her father was the only time when she felt like she really belonged. Upon returning to the station, Ziyal was reunited with Kira and was very glad to see her. The two planned to have dinner that evening to catch up and share news. But, Dukat insisted the three have dinner in his quarters to Kira's dismay. At dinner that evening, Ziyal shared some of the paintings she had done with her father and Kira. Both were very impressed with her talent in rare agreement, for they never agreed on anything but the fact that they both loved and cared for Ziyal. (DS9: "Call to Arms", "Sons and Daughters")
Although Dukat doted on Ziyal, it was difficult to reconcile her sympathy towards the Federation with his direction of the Dominion war effort. Ziyal wanted to believe that her father was not the tyrant the Bajorans described, and so she was angered and disillusioned when Dukat refused to pardon Rom because he was an "enemy of the state". Afterward, she helped Quark break Kira, Rom, Leeta, and Jake Sisko out of station security, so that they could prevent the Dominion from destroying the minefield around the Bajoran wormhole. As the Federation-Klingon fleet neared the station, Ziyal and Dukat found each other in a corridor. Ziyal again told her father that she could not leave with him, and admitted to him her involvement with Kira and the others' escape. She told him good-bye, and that she loved him.
Just then, Ziyal was shot and fatally wounded by Damar, who heard her confession and had executed her as a traitor. The stricken Dukat refused to leave Ziyal's side as the Dominion forces evacuated the station. Just before she died, he told her that he forgave her, and that he loved her too. Garak arrived at the station too late except to see Ziyal's body, while Dukat became mentally unstable in the wake of her death. (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Sacrifice of Angels", "Waltz")
Ronald D. Moore has stated that Melanie Smith was "cast deliberately a little older because we didn't feel that the other actresses were 'reading' mature enough on screen to plausibly be involved in any way with Garak." (AOL chat, 1997)
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