Odo stood on the little island surrounded by a sea of liquid goo which was the Great Link. It had been a remarkable year for Odo, not only had he saved his people from extinction but he had caused a remarkable turnaround in his people's attitudes towards solids.
Inside the Great Link was an experience beyond description, he was simultaneously an individual and yet everybody else. Images, emotions, concepts and so much more was exchanged each and every second. Ideas spread like wildfire across the entire Great Link in a matter of minutes; Odo found it a truly remarkable process.
Of course in the Great Link there was a hierarchy, there were a few thousand individuals who regulated the information exchanged around the Great Link, as there were so much information flying around it needed structure. Since there were billions of minds linked together the neural capacity was staggering, but it had to be organised. Otherwise confusion would arise as conflicting and often repeated information would get carried around the Great Link. Being the leader of his people, he biased the general ideas and information that was exchanged.
While his people learnt a lot as he explained to them about how solids and changelings had an equal right to exist, and about love. They taught him about shapeshifting and the history of their race. He also found out about his race's physiology. For instance changelings could live for hundreds of years, and sometimes up to 2000 years, since there cells were silicon based, the cellular decay process was delayed.
Another interesting aspect was the fact that his race was gendered. But the biology behind shapeshifter procreation was radically different to that of humanoid reproduction. For while shapeshifters linked, when procreating there was a super link, where both the male and the female not only shared memories they also shared DNA. While the males had the cellular structure to merge with the female's cells, the females had a special kind of silicon lining, in essence a womb, which could retain DNA.
After a few hours a new set of DNA was complete, and the first few cells of the new shapeshifter were created and transferred to the mother. Only the mother could carry these cells, as the silicon lining protected the new shapeshifter from attack by the mother's immune system. Any alien DNA, virus or other forms of cells, which didn't belong to the shapeshifter was always destroyed by its immune system. Of course when procreating both shapeshifter's immune systems merged.
Despite his new found shape shifting abilities, Odo chose to retain the face he displayed before his time in the Great Link. He could look perfectly human, but he preferred his usual face. There was a certain element of pride to his decision, which was based upon his need to stand out from humanoids.
His race's history was remarkable, there were memories tens of thousands of years old still residing around the Great Link. While it was unclear how exactly his race had evolved, what was clear was that his people had explored the galaxy for many thousands of years. They had encountered all kinds of humanoid races and even witnessed the early origins of the Borg.
Despite being peaceful explorers his people had encountered hostility, suspicion and even violence for them being changelings. Eventually his people had become so fragmented from the constant exploration of the galaxy, that they were in danger of extinction as race after race tried to hunt them down and kill them.
It took over 500 years but Odo's people finally banded together and came to a remote location in the Gamma Quadrant, in the Omarion Nebula. At that point though, Odo found his people's history very disturbing, for over 2000 years they started war after war conquering nearby humanoid races to bring about order to a chaotic galaxy. Sometimes his people even exterminated certain humanoid races, and at those times there contempt for humanoid life was truly remarkable.
His people's attitudes were the biggest challenge Odo faced when he returned to the Great Link. At first it was hard for his people to accept Odo's philosophies and teachings. He remembered the weeks of constant debate and argument over his precepts, but eventually his people came to a new-found understanding towards humanoids.
Since he was the leader of his people, he was also in charge of the Dominion. Odo's first objective was to get the Dominion to declare a cease fire on all nine wars it was fighting in the Gamma Quadrant. This was all part of his objective to turn the Dominion into a peaceful organisation.
He also made it a Dominion policy to provide reparations for all the worlds that suffered substantial damage due to a Dominion takeover or invasion. Another important step that he took was to reduce the Dominion's influence in the Gamma Quadrant, the Dominion subsequently left many hundreds of worlds and star systems.
Odo looked around at the Great Link from on top of the island. He had accomplished so much, and now he felt it was time to step down as the leader of his people. Odo had always considered his role of leading his people as an interim measure; he would have stayed on as leader until his people and the Dominion were no longer a direct threat to humanoid races in the Gamma Quadrant. Now with his work complete, Odo wanted to return to DS9.
The main reason for doing so was to see Kira again. He still loved her, and in his time in the Great Link he deeply missed Kira. Though his people noticed his love for Kira, Odo was careful not to show them anything of his relationship with Kira. For that was something that only he and Kira shared. Another part of him missed his old job as DS9's head of security, he wandered if it was possible to return his old job, but right now that didn't matter.
One part of Odo hoped that Kira had remained single. It was a guilty hope, as Odo believed it to be highly likely that Kira was in a relationship with another man. Probably definitely likely as Kira presumed Odo would be gone forever.
He wished that when he had said goodbye to Kira he had given her a clear timeline for how long he would be gone for. However, at the time that was nigh on impossible, as Odo had no idea how long it would take to transform his people and change the Dominion.
If Kira was in love with another man, he wouldn't begrudge her or be resentful for it, since Odo only wanted Kira to be happy, with or without him. For nearly a year he hadn't contacted Kira, though it wasn't exactly feasible giving he spent all of his time divided between staying in the Great Link and running the Dominion.
But now it was time to go back to his second favourite home. The Dominion flagship would be escorting him to the edge of Dominion territory, and from there a Karemma freighter would take Odo back to DS9.
Now Odo felt proud of his people, they had changed and they now had a bright future ahead of them. He had never felt so certain about anything in his life...
That was his last thought, before a transporter beam enveloped him, and he took one last look at the Great Link before he was removed entirely from the planet.