"A short time was all she ever had."
Tora Ziyal was a female Cardassian/Bajoran hybrid and illegitimate daughter of the Cardassian Gul Dukat and the Bajoran Tora Naprem, conceived during the Occupation when Dukat was in command of Terok Nor.
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 friendship. Dukat was outraged when he learned of this development in 2373, upon making a return visit to Deep Space 9. At that time, Dukat had been secretly negotiating an alliance between the Cardassian Union and the Dominion. Knowing 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 await his return. In response, Dukat disowned her. She was thereafter unknowingly condemned to death by a secret Dominion 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, Ziyal spoke with him, 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 had been 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 rarely 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 a 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 goodbye, and that she loved him.
Just then, Ziyal was shot and fatally wounded by Damar, who had heard her confession and 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")
The concept of a half-Bajoran daughter of Dukat was thought up by freelance writers Toni Marberry and Jack Treviño, when they pitched the story that became "Indiscretion". They also imagined her being sought by her father and her life being endangered by him, as he intended to kill her. The writing staff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine used the introduction of the daughter character to essentially blunt some of Dukat's edges. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 274))
In the script pronunciation guides for "Indiscretion" and "Return to Grace", Tora Ziyal's name is said to be pronounced "TOR-uh zee-ALL". However, the pronunciation guide in the script of "For the Cause" provides her given name only, and phonetically spells it "ZEE-al". The script pronunciation guides for "In Purgatory's Shadow" and "By Inferno's Light" return to the "zee-ALL" spelling and none of the other episodes she appears in transcribe the pronunciation of her name.   
The script of "Indiscretion" describes her as "a teenage girl with mixed Cardassian/Bajoran features." Also, the script of "Return to Grace" describes her as being eighteen years old, as of 2372.   This detail corresponds with the fact StarTrek.com lists her birth year as 2354. 
Since as far back as she could remember, Kira Nerys actress Nana Visitor was very hopeful that a young Cardassian female might be adopted by Kira. However, Visitor was even happier with the concept of Ziyal, believing the idea of her being a protégée of Kira's was an even better premise than being Kira's adoptive daughter. It was also obvious to her that Ziyal wouldn't be killed by Kira, at the end of "Indiscretion", nor that her death by Dukat would be permitted by Kira. (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 16, p. 48)
Ziyal's relatively subtle Cardassian features were produced by the DS9 makeup department. Owing to the character's Bajoran heritage, the makeup required for the role also included a skin complexion slightly lighter than a Cardassian's as well as a Bajoran nose appliance. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 153) In DS9 Season 4, the makeup for Tora Ziyal was worked on by regular DS9 makeup sculptor Dean Jones. "He has just [sculpted] up a pair of shoulders very quickly for Gul Dukat's daughter and a nose tip for her," reported Michael Westmore, during that season. (Star Trek Monthly issue 9, p. 47)
Tora Ziyal was portrayed by Cyia Batten on her first two appearances. "She was very good," noted Dukat actor Marc Alaimo. He also observed that, whoever played the character, Ziyal never had very much to do with Dukat, an aspect of their relationship Alaimo found "interesting." He cited "Indiscretion" as the installment he thought features the most involvement between Ziyal and her father. ("Cold Warrior?", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, No. 12)
Following Ziyal's appearance in "Return to Grace", it wasn't entirely clear how the character would develop. "I think we want to leave the audience guessing," Hans Beimler divulged. "We're planning to do something with her – but what, I can't tell you yet!" (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 15, p. 51)
The role of Tora Ziyal was recast with Tracy Middendorf in the episode "For the Cause". The recasting was done when it became evident the character was going to become a recurring role, appearing as stories warranted it. "We felt we wanted to try something different with Ziyal," Ronald D. Moore recollected. "We wanted to add some more colours to the performance, more depth to the character, and felt Tracy would give us that." Fondly remembering Middendorf from when she had auditioned for the role of Mardah, Moore himself impacted on the casting of Ziyal. "When we were recasting the role I thought to bring her in for this," he related. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 63) Despite the role being recast, Batten and Middendorf wore the same foam latex facial prosthetics as each other. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 341))
In the last six appearances of Tora Ziyal, the character was portrayed by Melanie Smith. She wasn't familiar with the character before auditioning for the role. "I just went in to the audition and made my choices on the character by the script," she said. "That's who I felt she was." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 122, p. 51)
Smith recalled her audition: "When I went in, actually, they had called me and they said the producers wanted to meet me. They sent the script. I know that they were meeting a lot of different A-list actors. I went in and I had had my take on Tora Ziyal. When I walked in, everybody else was in combat boots and fatigues and muscle shirts, and I was wearing a sundress. Because I saw her as a real innocent, peace-loving kind of… child, POW, wants peace on earth. That's how I felt her. I was the first one to go in and meet the producers. So I left, and my agents called me and said, "We don't know what you did, but you got the job. They just have to meet the other actors. But it's yours." So I was like, "Wow, that's pretty amazing." It was funny, because I thought I made a big mistake when I saw the way everybody else prepared. I think that they watched the storyline. I didn’t. I just read the script. I was like, "Wow, she's got so much love in her. I just can't wait to play that 
The recasting of Tora Ziyal was partly inspired by Ira Steven Behr having seen various actors play Felix Leiter in the official series of James Bond movies. "It changed my life!" he exclaimed. "From then on, I always wanted to have the opportunity to just play with the audience's minds. Because it really doesn't matter on a certain level. And so, for various reasons, we changed the part once, and then we had to change the part again." Smiling, Behr continued, "[In an ideal world,] I would have changed the role of Ziyal every single time – just to keep reminding the audience that this is all a construct." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (pp. 423-424))
Nana Visitor said about the recasting of Tora Ziyal, "[The role was] once [recast] because they felt that she should be more like me, viscerally more like Kira, and I understood that, in terms of strength. The third time it was because the actress they cast could not take the makeup and that's totally understandable." ("An Unlikely Surrogate", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, No. 12)
Despite an approximately thirty-year age gap between Tracy Middendorf and Garak actor Andrew Robinson, Ron Moore once remarked that the ages were obscured by the Cardassian makeup. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 63) On the other hand, 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)
Melanie Smith settled into the role of Ziyal. "The experience was delightful and [...] I really enjoyed the character," she reminisced. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 122, p. 51)
Wearing the makeup required for the role of Ziyal was a mixed experience for Melanie Smith. On the one hand, she found wearing the prosthetics difficult and physically draining. On the other, she commented, "I loved the fact that I could just do the work and that it wasn't about how pretty I looked or how nice my hair was. And I thought that Tora was a really adorable lizard!" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 122, p. 51)
Smith liked playing the character, but disliked having to wear the Cardsssian makeup: "Well, I loved that the makeup allowed me to disappear, but the makeup is why I left the show. I asked to be killed. So the makeup, that's why I couldn't stay with the character, and I loved the character. So, it was a love-hate, you know? So from one to 10, I loved it a 10 because it allowed me to disappear and become this sort of ethereal creature that never existed before. And I hated it a 10 because it gave me a headache. It made me feel terrible. And it was 4 1/2 hours on, 2 1/2 hours off". 
Ziyal was posthumously referenced in a deleted scene from the start of sixth season installment "Resurrection". In the scene, her paintings filled Kira's quarters and Ziyal herself was briefly spoken about in a conversation between Kira and Jadzia Dax; when Dax observed Kira still missed Ziyal, Kira replied with an assurance she would "get over it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 509))
When writing about how Damar collaborates with Kira and Garak in DS9 Season 7, the show's writing staff deliberately stayed away from the subject of Ziyal's murder. Ronald D. Moore explained, "René Echevarria was a big advocate of dealing with the Ziyal thing up front and I thought he was right, but it was one more big piece of backstory in a very complicated tale. So we just tried not to go there. It was too much." This led to disappointment for Garak actor Andrew Robinson, who noted about the issue, "It essentially went unresolved." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 699))
Even years after her death, Ziyal remains a prominent influence on Garak's life; during his time acting as the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation, he carried a painting she gave him everywhere he went, hanging it in whichever room he was staying in as part of his duties. In Star Trek: The Fall novel The Crimson Shadow, Garak is elected as the new leader of the Cardassian government, reflecting in a private log entry that he will take care to do the right thing in his new role by thinking about how Ziyal would react to his actions and then making a decision based on what she would approve of.
- Tora Ziyal at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- Tora Ziyal at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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