The Female Changeling was a Founder from a rogue planet located in the Omarion Nebula, in the Gamma Quadrant. She was chosen by the Great Link, a giant gelatinous sea of shapeshifters, to represent the interests of the Changelings in both the Gamma and Alpha Quadrants and instigated a bloody, genocidal interstellar war in order to conquer their inhabitants and worlds and subjugate them to the rules of the Dominion: a major galactic political power established by the Founders to defend their interests at all costs. The Female Changeling harbored a particular mistrust and hatred towards non-Changelings – whom she referred to as solids – believing them to be infinitely inferior and unworthy beings by design.
She was trapped in the Alpha Quadrant during the start of the Dominion War and helped coordinate the Dominion's war efforts, ultimately leading to the destruction of hundreds of worlds and the death and suffering of hundreds of millions of people.
Life in the Link
The Female Changeling assumed a humanoid form resembling that of Odo in order to greet him on his return to the Great Link in 2371. She first told him of his people, their history, and what it truly meant to be a Changeling. However, after Odo discovered his people's identity as the Founders of the Dominion, he decided to abandon the Great Link and return home. (DS9: "The Search, Part II")
In order to discover what was the true cause of Odo's choice to live with the solids, the Female Changeling traveled to the Alpha Quadrant and lured Odo to a deserted moon aboard a stolen Maquis Peregrine-class courier ship. She posed as Major Kira Nerys and forced Odo into admitting his love for the Major. She had hoped that Kira's apparent death would drive Odo back to the Link, but Odo deduced that 'Kira' wasn't real and made the Female Changeling reveal where she was being kept. Afterward she returned to the Link. (DS9: "Heart of Stone")
After Odo killed another Changeling, breaking their people's only law, the Female Changeling lured him home to be judged by the Link. His judgment was to be locked into humanoid form, losing his shapeshifting abilities and becoming a solid, although his face remained the same to remind him of what he had done. During her stay with Odo, she promised Cardassian citizen Elim Garak that his people would all die by the Dominion's hand. (DS9: "Broken Link")
The Dominion War
The Dominion War broke out with the Federation's mining of the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole, trapping the Female Changeling in the Alpha Quadrant. After spending months among solids, she felt the need to be with one of her own. She sought out Odo on Dominion-held Deep Space 9. There, she linked with him in an attempt to give him a better understanding of his nature. She also manipulated him into viewing solids as inferior beings undeserving of the Changelings' compassion, time and efforts. Odo became so smitten with what the Female Changeling showed him that he began believing what she said and exhibiting similar feelings of superiority, much to the dismay of Major Kira, who depended on Odo for their plans to sabotage the Dominion while they were occupying DS9. In fact, Odo was so firmly in the grip of the Female Changeling that when Rom was about to be executed, he did not do anything about it but instead preferred to link with the Female Changeling. (DS9: "Behind the Lines")
The Female Changeling's priority was the disabling of the minefields so that reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant could be brought in. She began overseeing Weyoun and Gul Dukat's war efforts directly from DS9. As the Dominion was eventually forced back into Cardassian space, the Founder retreated with Weyoun to Cardassia Prime, where they set up a new Dominion Headquarters. She was forced to leave Odo on DS9, but was certain he would change his mind, believing it to be only a matter of time until he saw how truly superior and better than everyone else he was and rejoin the Link. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")
By 2375, the Female Changeling began manifesting symptoms of a disease that had infected the Great Link – the morphogenic virus – and thus her ability to change was slowly limited; but she continued to command the Dominion from Cardassia Prime. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River") Attempts to create a vaccine for the disease by Vorta scientists were unsuccessful. (DS9: "Penumbra") During the final months of the war, the Female Changeling's health continued to deteriorate, but she was still able to negotiate the admission of the Breen to the Dominion, which greatly strengthened their position. During the Second Battle of Chin'toka that ended in success for the Dominion, she allowed enemy escape pods to flee the battle zone so that the survivors could spread the despair and demoralization that had followed their defeat during the battle to other troops and the Federation Alliance in particular, sending a clear message to all Dominion opponents. She also had the Breen attack Starfleet headquarters on Earth for similar reasons. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil")
Later that year, the leader of Cardassia at the time, Damar, was growing increasingly frustrated of and angry at being the Dominion's puppet and sacrificing the lives of millions of Cardassians for their cause; he realized that Cardassia had become a conquered world, forced to serve entities that had little to no regard for its interests. When he was asked to give up undisclosed amounts of territory to the Breen and make concessions that clearly went against the interests of Cardassia, he had a drastic change of attitude which eventually lead him to muster up enough courage to stage a rebellion in an attempt to free Cardassia from the shackles of the Dominion. The Female Changeling, outraged at Damar's actions, ordered that all Dominion outposts be populated by Cardassian civilians, especially women and children, so that Damar and his insurgency cells would have to kill all those innocent people first if they wanted to destroy key Dominion structures. She also specifically ordered the murder of Damar's wife and son, whom she clearly knew had nothing to do with the Rebellion, in order to teach him a lesson. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil", "When It Rains...", "Tacking Into the Wind")
By the end of the war, the Female Changeling was so ill that she was no longer able to shapeshift. When the Federation Alliance attacked Cardassia Prime in what became known as the Battle of Cardassia, and defeat for the Dominion seemed imminent, she ordered the Jem'Hadar and Breen to fight to the last man in hopes of sufficiently damaging the Federation Alliance that it could not threaten the Dominion's territories in the Gamma Quadrant. After Cardassian civilians on Cardassia Prime began rebelling against the Dominion as part of Damar's resistance movement, she ordered every Cardassian on the planet exterminated. Members of the Cardassian resistance, led by Kira and Garak after Damar's death, penetrated the Dominion command compound and took the Female Changeling prisoner. Shortly thereafter, Odo, who was present on the USS Defiant during the battle, beamed into the compound and against the protests of Kira and Garak, linked with the Female Changeling. By doing so, Odo cured her of the disease, and the Female Changeling agreed to end the war and stand trial for her war crimes. Odo returned to the Great Link to cure the rest of the Founders. The Female Changeling was taken away by Starfleet after signing the Treaty of Bajor. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
The Female Changeling, as a representative of her kind, believed that her species, with its shapeshifting abilities, was far superior to humanoids, whom she referred to as "solids". Her distrust, disapproval and severe aversion for the "solids" became apparent the very first time she met Odo and only strengthened throughout the course of the war that she organized and coordinated. She told Odo that living among the solids had damaged him far worse than she realized, supposedly leaving him ignorant of the gifts he possessed.
She rationalized her kind's dislike for humanoids, and ultimately the war waged against them, by recounting the suspicion, hatred and violence they had experienced thousands of years ago when exploring the galaxy. Built on that prejudice, her mistrust kept growing and she was very proud that her kind, through the creation of the Dominion, had finally become the "hunters", controlling the destinies of hundreds of other races, "because what you can control, can't hurt you". She called the murders and deaths the Founders were responsible for after the creation of the Dominion as bringing "order" to the galaxy and had no regard for life itself. The fact that "solids" merely existed was enough for her to justify their deaths, even though the humanoids she encountered prior to the war had done her no harm and were mere explorers, just like her kind once was before isolating themselves on a rogue planet and brooding in their hatred. Odo's initial joyful reunion with the Female Changeling was overshadowed by recognizing her true face, which was not interested in justice, but mere "order", as she referred to her genocidal intentions, at all costs. (DS9: "The Search, Part II").
She never understood why Odo would choose to live among humanoids rather than among his own people. She truly believed that humanoids were incapable of ever accepting or even loving a Changeling; her confidence in the Link's alleged superiority was relentless and she went to great lengths to prove that to Odo. (DS9: "Heart of Stone", "Broken Link") She once remarked that she was willing to sacrifice the entire Alpha Quadrant to get him back, and her ruthless and condescending attitude towards those who faithfully served under her and gave their lives for her, such as the Vorta and Jem'Hadar, was superseded only by her complete disregard of life itself, as evidenced by her ordering the annihilation of all Cardassians at the end of the war and her willingness to sacrifice the lives of innocent civilians, even children, for her cause. Even the lives of her faithful servants meant little to her; on one occasion, she ordered that the Vorta doctors who were working tirelessly to find a cure for her illness be terminated and replaced with their clones, hoping a fresh perspective would speed things along. (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Tacking Into the Wind", "The Dogs of War", " What You Leave Behind", "Penumbra"). She despised humanoids so much that, in fact, Odo's punishment for having killed another Changeling was to be turned into a "solid", which she remarked was a far crueler punishment than death itself. (DS9: "Broken Link") Verbal communication was an insufficient mode of communication for her and she kept on insisting that the way solids experienced such things as emotions and intimacy was inferior to the way Changelings experienced them. (DS9: "Favor the Bold")
Her patronizing view of solids as "small and insignificant" beings "confined to a single shape and perspective" in need of the Founders' guidance further fueled her ruthlessness and the extent of the bloodiness of the war that had begun in the Alpha Quadrant on her orders. She once said that it was important to "break" the solids as it was their fate to be either crushed by or serve the Founders. The only time she showed any sign of respect for a solid was when Sisko showed his allegiance to an ailing Odo by refusing to allow her to take him away from the Defiant, acknowledging Sisko's loyalty and allowing the crew to 'accompany' Odo so long as one of her Jem'Hadar piloted the Defiant and deleted the coordinates afterwards. (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Sacrifice of Angels", "Broken Link")
Because of her blind hatred and distaste for humanoids, and her genocidal ambitions, she was prepared to be responsible of the death of billions of people and the destruction of hundreds of worlds in the Alpha Quadrant. Even though the Federation had practically won the war she refused to give the Dominion troops the order to surrender so that in the end, as she remarked, that victory would taste as bitter as defeat to the Federation, given the havoc that had spread in that part of the quadrant and the number of casualties. However, she changed her mind and surrendered after receiving the cure for the virus by Odo. Cardassia was in ashes and shambles after she was done with them, counting 800 million casualties alone and the entire Federation, including the Romulan Star Empire and Klingons, suffered severe losses after this war of death and conquest. After her capture, she never apologized to anyone for her actions and did not show the slightest remorse for her atrocities and war crimes. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")
- "The Search, Part I" (Season Three)
- "The Search, Part II"
- "Heart of Stone"
- "Broken Link" (Season Four)
- "Behind the Lines" (Season Six)
- "Favor the Bold"
- "Sacrifice of Angels"
- "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" (Season Seven)
- "'Til Death Do Us Part"
- "Strange Bedfellows"
- "The Changing Face of Evil"
- "Tacking Into the Wind"
- "The Dogs of War"
- "What You Leave Behind"
The character's name "Female Changeling" comes from on-screen references given in both "Favor the Bold" and "Treachery, Faith and the Great River", and was once used as her script name in "Heart of Stone". The scripts for the remainder of her appearances generally refer to her as "Female" or "Female Shape-shifter", with the latter name also used on screen in "When It Rains...". Jens was credited onscreen in "What You Leave Behind" as "Female Shapeshifter".
The Star Trek Customizable Card Game has cards naming her "Founder Leader" and "Kira Founder", referring to her time impersonating Kira Nerys.
In the Deep Space Nine relaunch series novel Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume Three, a Jem'Hadar named Taran'atar goes to visit the Female Changeling in a maximum-security prison called Ananke Alpha. During flashbacks throughout the story, it is revealed that when she and Odo briefly engaged in sexual intercourse during the Dominion's control of Deep Space Nine as part of Odo's attempt to help her better understand solids, Odo realized that he simply didn't connect with her the way he had connected with Arissa – his only other romantic relationship that had progressed that far at this time – prompting him to once again realize how distant he was from the rest of his people.
In the alternate future seen in the Deep Space Nine Millennium trilogy, the Female Changeling was killed when she refused to have the Dominion join with the Grigari, who, ironically, were commanded by Weyoun, the new self-proclaimed "Emissary of the True Prophets" who lived in the newly-opened red wormhole.
In Star Trek Online, the Female Changeling plays a major role in "The 2800" feature episode series. The Founder has been incarcerated for more than thirty years by this time, held in a secret Federation maximum-security prison called Facility 4028. A Vorta named Eraun (replaced by Weyoun following the release of "Victory is Life") demands the release of the Female Changeling in exchange for Dominion support against a renegade fleet, originally the 2800 Dominion ships that had disappeared in the wormhole in 2374 (see "Sacrifice of Angels"), that presently controls DS9. The Federation Council ultimately agrees, and the player who made contact is sent to Facility 4028 to oversee the Founder's release. She orders the Jem'Hadar forces on DS9 to stand down, but Kar'ukan refuses, leading to the captain to sneak in and retake the space station. When the forces are defeated, the Founder and the remaining Jem'Hadar return to the Gamma Quadrant.
The Female Changeling is one of a number of Deep Space Nine characters who return in the fourth expansion "Victory is Life", with Salome Jens reprising her role (as well as recording new lines for her character's previous appearance in "The 2800" series). Through the early episodes of the campaign in the Gamma Quadrant, it is revealed that she was the catalyst for the ongoing Hur'q invasion of the galaxy, after a failed effort to take control of them two millennia earlier. The Fek'Ihri, encountered by Klingon players earlier in the game, were also revealed to have been created by the Dominion at her behest. Her views on "solids" are shown to be far more radical than earlier appearances showed, as evidenced in her belief in a "True Dominion" over not only the Gamma Quadrant, but the galaxy as a whole. She even admits to having killed other Changelings, breaking their most sacred rule, who were in opposition to her radical beliefs. In the mission "Tenebris Torquent", the Female Changeling and Odo face off in the ruins of the Hur'q homeworld, before she is apparently killed by a feral Hur'q mutant. The Female Changeling later appears briefly in the episode "Measure of Morality, Part 1", as part of the game's tenth anniversary. In an Excalbian simulation, she infiltrates the Krenim weapon ship K.I.S. Annorax during the Battle of Procyon V and assassinates its renegade captain, Noye, after the Alliance had failed to stop him. The player is given the option to leave Noye dead and destroy the ship, or to use the ship's temporal core to go back a moment in time to stop the Founder from killing Noye.