Jake stared out of the window into space. He wondered how many times he had done this in his youth, just looked out from the space station into space. Back then it would have included a sense of wonder, but these days all it had was a bitter taste.
Jake turned away from the window and wandered to a chair. The decor in the station’s quarters had not change much in the twenty years since he was last on board. There were some improvements here and there but it was all readily recognisable. Jake sat down heavily and let out a sigh.
Bajoran Security, Bajor’s law enforcement agency, had placed him on a ship and sent him to the station. Vari had been let go but not before they searched her and confiscated the tablet, which they had also shipped with him to the station. He was surprised when he was told it was the Dominion who wanted to speak to him. He had been escorted by two officers from Bajoran Security, but once they reached the station they had handed him to the Jem’Hadar who had escorted him to these quarters.
The Dominion maintained a token presence on the station, their only permanent presence in the system, ever since they had handed the station back to the Bajoran people. They had done so a year after Bajor joined the Dominion, as a gift to celebrate the union. At that point the station was still known as Terok Nor and with Deep Space 9 no longer appropriate with the fall of the Federation the Bajorans renamed it Gateway Station – for obvious reasons.
The handing over of the station had surprised everyone, but it soon became clear why the Dominion did so. They were building their own station on their side of the wormhole. Referred to as Gamma 1 by those in the Alpha Quadrant, the massive station was the true gatekeeper of the Gamma Quadrant. Everyone knew that any traversing of the wormhole had to be approved by the Dominion officials at the Gamma Quadrant end of the wormhole.
Jake would have been happy never to step on this station again. After his father’s death he spent several weeks on the station living in what could be best described as a state of shock. He just milled around with no desires to do anything as if his life had lost all meaning. After a while he decided to move to Bajor since he was unable to get back to Earth, just to get away from the station. It just reminded him too much of his father and his lost friends.
The door chime rang and Jake briefly considered ignoring it, but realised that it was pointless as he knew that they would just enter anyway. He called out the open command and the door slid open to reveal a smiling Weyoun.
“It is good to see you again, Jake,” said the Vorta as he stepped into the room.
Jake had expected it to be a Vorta just not Weyoun and he voiced his surprise. “I’m surprised you’re still here. I thought you be on your way back to your seat of power on Earth.”
“Administering Earth is my main task but I thought it would be nice to stay a bit longer in the Bajor system. I have so many fond memories of my time here.”
Weyoun sat down opposite Jake, his pleasant demeanour not flinching for a moment.
“I’m guessing you’re here to explain why I was brought this station?”
“It was a...necessary precaution, as I’m sure you’ll agree,” began Weyoun. “You were observed entering a rarely visited area and then an explosion was detected in the vicinity.” A look of embarrassment creased Weyoun’s face. “I’m afraid my Vorta counterpart here was concerned you might be accessing hidden weapon stores or building a base for the terrorists that might still roam the planet. I assured him that the Jake Sisko I know would not be involved in anything so nefarious. That there was a perfectly innocent explanation for the goings on. However, he is the Dominion’s authority in this area and he insisted that you be brought in for questioning. I managed to convince him to allow me, someone you know and someone I hope you trust, to speak to you rather than him or the Jem’Hadar. The Jem’Hadar make good soldiers but their interrogation techniques are not known for their subtlety.”
Jake smiled and said, “I’m glad you spoke up for me.” He did not for a minute believe that what Weyoun had told him as anywhere near to the complete truth. It then struck him what Weyoun had said. “How did you know what I was doing?”
Weyoun gave Jake a surprised look. “Surely this can’t come as news to you, Jake?” Jake just stared blankly back at Weyoun. “Despite the years I can still see that young writer who stayed on Deep Space 9 after the Federation abandoned it, naive to the ways of the galaxy.” Jake bristled at Weyoun’s comment, but the Vorta failed to notice and merrily continued. “You’re the son of the Bajoran Emissary and a very important person to Bajor: a valued member of the Dominion. We watch you to make sure you’re safe as your wellbeing is very high on our priorities in this system.”
“I’m...touched,” was all Jake could manage to say.
“I’m so glad to hear that. Now, we know you weren’t after weapons or secret bases but we are interested in what you brought up from your trip.” Weyoun placed a device on the table by their chairs and activated it. A hologram of the tablet materialised, hovering above the table. “Now, what is this tablet?”
“Apart from a priceless piece of Bajoran history?” Jake paused but Weyoun remained quiet waiting for him to reply to his question. “I don’t know,” he admitted.
Weyoun nodded appearing satisfied with his answer. “We have had some of our specialists have a look at this item and they managed to translate a great deal of the text. ‘Welcome son of the Emissary. The time of Reckoning is at hand’.” As Weyoun spoke sections of the text on the hologram were highlighted. “‘The Prophets will weep. Their sorrow will consume the gateway to the temple’.”
Weyoun stopped and Jake knew that he was waiting for Jake to gleam some important fact out of what he had just been told.
“The gateway to the temple...that’s Deep...this station,” realised Jake.
“Yes, we came to the same conclusion and I’m not too proud to admit that I am concerned with this revelation. This tablet is advocating the destruction of this station.”
“Sorry?” Jake felt like Weyoun had skipped a page or two ahead in the story.
“While it says the Prophets’ ‘sorrow’ will do it, I’m sure the Bajorans will take it as that the station must be destroyed. It could fuel an increased level of terrorism in this system and place the station’s personnel in mortal peril.”
Jake stared at Weyoun incredulously. “Are you serious?”
“Of course I am,” stated Weyoun, sounding offended by the question. Jake immediately felt slightly foolish, he could not think of a time when Weyoun was not serious about a situation.
“Gateway Station remains an important trading station for the Bajorans and it pleases the Dominion greatly to have this side of the wormhole under their careful and watchful eyes. What is more disturbing is that this section claims, ‘During the Reckoning, the Bajoran people will suffer horribly’.”
Jake recognised it as a section Vari had translated in the caverns. “I thought that said something about eating fruit.”
“Given the context of the rest I believe our translation is accurate. As you can see this tablet would only serve to panic the Bajorans. Its claims about a ‘Bajor reborn’ could fuel unrest and fanaticism. The result of which could be the deployment of Jem’Hadar to aid the local security forces in maintaining order. Bajor has been a shining example of peaceful cooperation with the Dominion, but we will not allow for unrest to run rampant on our worlds. So, you can see why the release of this artefact could be destabilising for Bajor.”
Jake suddenly felt his chest tightening as he read the subtext of Weyoun’s words. He shifted nervously and asked, “What happens to me?”
Weyoun let out a laugh. “There is that naivety again. We would not see any harm come to you. Once we’ve dealt with this situation you’ll be free to return to your life with the lovely Mrs Sisko and your young son, Ben. I must say I find it extremely touching that you named your son after your father, I’m sure he would be honoured.”
Jake stared daggers at Weyoun for daring to bring up his father when Weyoun had played such a significant role in his death. However, Weyoun did not seem to notice Jake’s hostility. Jake tried to see if he could read anything beyond Weyoun’s purple gaze, but all he saw was sincerity and friendliness. Weyoun seemed oblivious to what he had said and to Jake’s reaction.
Though Jake had to admit if Weyoun just wished to have him killed the Jem’Hadar would have just marched in and shot him. There was no need for Weyoun to have a chat with him and explain anything.
Sure of his safety for the moment he asked of someone else’s. “What about the monk who found the tablet with me?”
“Given by your reaction to what I have revealed of the translation I am sure that she would not know anything but the very barest of information on what is written on this tablet.”
“But she will have spread knowledge of the tablet to others. How will you explain my detention and the confiscation of the tablet?”
“Jake, you wound me deeply to think that you would believe I am detaining you. You were brought here to answer some questions, which you are doing by helping me to further my inquiries into the tablet. As for the monk, detaining her would be pointless; she is as likely to be a pawn as you are. Anyway, whoever set this up would just spread the rumours anyway.”
“What do you mean ‘set this up’? Are you saying this is part of some elaborate ploy?”
“Jake, it surprises me that you would think anything else. The first serious foray into the caverns of B’hala in decades just happens to be taken by you, the son of the Bajoran’s most important spiritual leader, and you just happen to find a tablet that is addressed to you. I’m sure if we had not requested your presence here you would’ve suddenly found yourself being introduced to someone with close ties to an anti-Dominion terrorist group, who would be enticing you to back their interpretations of this fake artefact. I’m sorry to say, I think someone is trying to manipulate you.”
Jake was about to dismiss what Weyoun had said when his mind wrapped itself around a single part of what the Vorta had said: “you would have suddenly found yourself being introduced to someone with close ties to an anti-Dominion terrorist group...”
He had already made that contact: his guide. She had told him of her past in the resistance against the Dominion. She also could have introduced him to more senior resistance members and he would not have questioned it as she had already revealed her ties. Then surrounded by these people they could steer him in whatever direction they wanted.
Jake’s mind started to spin as he felt it slip into a too long unfamiliar groove. He had long given up the thoughts of being a writer of great fictional works but now his mind took the information he had gained and was arranging it, plotting it out as his mind attacked the issue.
He had little doubt that Weyoun was trying to manipulate him to further the Dominion’s goal of maintaining order and control. As a plot point it was obvious and to be expected of Weyoun. If these events, this ‘story’, were a body of water Weyoun would be near the surface, clear for all to see. However, now he was considering the possibility that the waters might be much deeper, that there was a hidden plot, obscured in water’s murky depths. Or was it simply a false reflection cast by Weyoun?
Jake again tried to discern Weyoun’s motives from his face. However, Weyoun’s veneer of caring concern masked everything else.
He could only think of one reply for the silent, waiting Vorta. “I think you might be right.”
Weyoun smiled softly and nodded his head as if Jake had done the right thing. “I’m glad to hear it. These fraudsters no doubt would push an extremist view and would have you as their public advocate. Since your father fought against us, the Bajoran people would take your presentation of this tablet as your tacit approve of its message. They would use these falsehoods as a sign to rally the support of those against the Dominion, those against peace and stability. However, the tablet will be turned against them. For together we will reveal this treachery against you and the Bajoran people.”
“Instead of weakening your hold I will be standing next to you, further adding credence to your control of this quadrant,” said Jake is tone dark as he plotted out the rest of Weyoun’s path. Weyoun was predictable and Jake was sure he would do and say whatever was needed to maintain the Dominion’s rule of the region. “And all it would take is for me to denounce this tablet as false.”
Weyoun again made an excellent job of appearing somewhat hurt by Jake’s tone. “Jake, the Dominion only wants what is best for all those within its borders. Have we not transformed this quadrant? Before it was violent, chaotic and filled with death. Since we unified this quadrant under the gaze of the Founders none of our worlds has faced war. Cardassians, Humans, Klingons, Romulans, Breen...all live as one in harmony.
“The worlds of the Federation which strived to expand their knowledge of the universe can now do so purely without the worries of military necessity. For they know that the Jem’Hadar are here and that their worlds will be safe. The Dominion has brought order, prosperity and peace to this region.”
Jake found it hard to argue with what Weyoun had said because in a way he was correct. The region was enjoying an extended period of general peace among the disparate species. Borders and restrictions had come down and in some ways there was a lot more freedom in the region than when it had been made up of several empires competing for advantage over each other.
Weyoun seemed to sense his wavering and pushed on. “What could make you want to risk all that progress?” Weyoun waved at the holographic tablet and implored, “What could make you think this was real? Why would you want it to be real? People would kill for you if this tablet was real, worse they would die for you. Could you handle that, Jake? How many deaths do you think your conscience could cope with before it shattered? Is that the man you want to become?”
The comment resonated with Jake. He had spent half his life trying to avoid becoming a religious figurehead for the Bajoran people. He had seen that heavy crown on his father’s head, the struggle to be true to himself but to also navigate through the fog of an alien religion. Worst of all he had seen the power that his father could wield over an entire people.
He could easily imagine that the Bajoran people would take up arms to see Bajor reborn. He knew that they would gladly elevate him if he let them. He could be used to rally a people to war and they would kill and die on his word. That knowledge chilled him to the bone.
Weyoun stood and meandered to the window. He stared out into space for several seconds before he turned back to face Jake.
“Do you know what’s out there?” he asked, gesturing behind him. “The jewel of the quadrant: Bajor,” Weyoun said, answering his own question. “We have turned Bajor into the envy of this region where once it was looked down on with pity. We have completely erased the scars of the Cardassian’s brutal and oppressive occupation. However, we have also learnt the lessons of that occupation, Jake. We would not go by half measures if faced with wide spread dissent on Bajor. We would descend on Bajor like a swarm of locusts to a bountiful crop. Nothing would be spared,” said Weyoun sympathetically, his voice trailing off as his gaze drifted back out into space.
Jake had no reason to doubt the veracity of Weyoun’s words. He had read about worlds that had required Jem’Hadar policing actions and it had always been devastating for those worlds. He had no wish to see that visited on his adopted home.
“For the sake of the entire quadrant. For the sake of everyone on that planet. For the sake of your wife and child, you should not be asking if this tablet is a fabrication. You should be demanding that it is,” insisted Weyoun.
If Jake had any doubts about whether Weyoun cared if the tablet was real they had now been answered. He knew that no matter what the test results showed, if they were even conducted, the decision had been made: the tablet was not genuine. Peace was to be maintained on Bajor.
“Will you destroy the tablet?” he asked.
“It is not ours to destroy. We will return it to the Bajorans and it will be up to them how they deal with it. Even forgeries can have some cultural impact and value as a cautionary tale for future generations.”
“And I’m to just sit here and wait for your tests on the tablets to be completed?”
“You’re not trapped, Jake. You can leave these quarters anytime. I would respectfully request that you to remain on the station until after all the tests have been done on the tablet, which should be in the next few days. I will likewise be remaining on the station until this ordeal is sorted out. Maybe I can offer you a dinner between old friends? We can reminisce about our times on this station together.”
Jake paused before he said noncommittally, “I’ll think about it.”
“Fantastic,” said Weyoun joyfully, clasping his hands in front of him as if Jake had said ‘yes’. “Earth might be light-years away but that doesn’t mean I can’t attend to some of my duties.” Weyoun gathered up the small hologram displaying device. “As always, it was a pleasure speaking with you Jake.” With that Weyoun exited Jake’s quarters.
After Weyoun left Jake put his head in his hands. He had strived to make sure his life was no more complicated than a normal family life and in the space of a few days he had taken two decades of labour and threw them out of an airlock. He was in an untenable position. He could either support Weyoun, choose to remain neutral, which was likely to be just as good as supporting Weyoun. Weyoun would probably use his name in any address he made about the tablet to the Bajoran people, whether Jake was physical present or not. Or he could actively fight against Weyoun and his assertions, which would mean he could look forward to incarceration and separation from his family at the least, death at the most.
This was all assuming that Weyoun was wrong about the tablet and that he would lie. It was the safest bet. Jake had no doubt Weyoun would ever allow the tablet to be seen as authentic, so whether it was real or not was a moot point. Weyoun was just doing what he was cloned to do: turn the advantage to the Dominion. However, there was now a nagging thought, a seemingly distant possibility that this could be a Bajoran ploy.
If Weyoun was right about him being manipulated by the Bajorans it would have to be an incredibly vast and complicated conspiracy. One that would be impossible to pull off.
Impossible is just another word for ‘lack of imagination’.
The saying Jake had read years ago while studying the art of writing popped into his mind. He was quick to deem it impossible, but that was because the alternative was so simple and straightforward. However, life was not always like that.
As his brain geared up he set about the task of trying to pull down the walls that surrounded the possibility and expose it to reality. He thought back to what set him on the path that ended with him now, sitting in quarters in the very place he swore decades ago he would never revisit. That answer came easily: the dreams.
The dreams that had haunted him for a decade were the starting point. He found it difficult to find a way for them to be forced on him. There were of course technologies that could implant and remove thoughts and ideas but it was the timing that made it seem unlikely that they were planted there. He had been suffering them for years in which they slowly seemed to develop further. If they were part of some resistance group’s plan they were playing a very long con. He found it hard to believe that they would set about a plan that took ten years, in which the Dominion only further solidified its hold on the quadrant.
Jake looked at the dreams in a different light. What if they were not the spark but the fuel instead? The dreams were his and someone was just using them to manipulate him. Finding out about his dreams would not be all that difficult. The only way to keep a secret was to limit knowledge of it to yourself. His wife knew, Benny knew some of it, the counsellor he saw knew, and his staff would know Jake had visited and could find out. They could pass on the knowledge to their friends and so on until it reached someone with the drive and ingenuity to exploit the information. The anonymous ‘they’ that always appeared in conspiracy theories.
Even if they did know there was nothing they really could do to benefit from it. That is until he agreed to take part in the Festival of Tears. If there was a spark that lit the fuel to power him on this journey it had definitely happened during the orb ceremony. If he was being manipulated it would have to have happened there.
That in turn meant that his orb experience could not be what it seemed. Could one be faked? It would require contacts in the Bajoran religious order, which he already knew they would have. He had his experience in public; in front of millions so there was no way he could have been taken and placed in a simulation, unless the entire planet was in on it.
Jake briefly considered it, but just as quickly dismissed it as he knew non-Bajorans had watched him, including Weyoun who would have noticed if he had disappeared from the ceremony.
That left only one possibility: he was drugged. All they would need was something to addle his mind and make him susceptible to suggestion. However, delivery was a problem. Someone would have noticed if someone had put a hypospray to his neck during the ceremony. A gas was a possibility. It could be stored in the orb ark, which he would’ve release when he opened it. He was close enough that he would be certain to inhale it and it could all happen under the gaze of a million people without any notice.
During his experience he was aided by a prylar, who had been close by. He could have been a resistance plant who could have whispered misleading thoughts into his pried open mind. However, he had only come into close contact with the prylar after he had the vision and had stumbled backwards. Or had he? Could the drugs have made him stumble and when the prylar steadied him he whispered the “vision” into his ear. No one would have seen a prylar offering quiet words to an overwhelmed individuals as unusual. The doubt within him grew as he started to question just what he had experienced.
If that prylar was a plant, then surely Vari had to be one as well. He had a vision in the caverns as well. She had opportunity to drug him. She could have contaminated his water packs, or maybe when he had touched the tablet he had absorbed the drug from a hidden delivery system or from the surface itself. He did not recall Vari ever putting her bare hands on it. After it had “shocked” him she had wrapped a thick cloth around it when she removed it from its place in the wall.
He was sure that he had his vision before he was thrown into the rocks, but maybe it just seemed that way because it was what Vari had whispered into his ear. However, during the vision he was sure he had talked to his father.
It was my father, wasn’t it?
What had started as a small seed of doubt was starting to sprout. The man he had seen was his father; something within him told him so. Or was it a sly whisper in his ear that told him? There was really only one reason why he had continued on this path so far.
Jake was doing this because of the memory of his father. A voice in his dream, an image in a vision. Things that he could not be sure were real. What if it had been nothing but hallucinations? Symptoms of a broken soul and wanting heart. Was he creating all of this out of some underlining mental instability or unresolved grief?
Jake was not sure what was the truth anymore. Was he really on a mission from the Prophets, on the behest of his deceased father? Or was someone just using his weakness, his grief, to further their own agenda? For twenty years he had been sure of several things: his father was dead, the wormhole aliens were just wormhole aliens, and that he wanted no part in Bajoran religion. Yet now all those facts had been turned on their heads so suddenly that suspicion started to fill him. This was not want he wanted for his life. All he wanted was to go back to the life and family he had.
His father had been forced into playing a role for the Bajoran people. He was manipulated by the religious order and even by the wormhole aliens into doing what they wanted. Jake remembered looking out of the promenade windows after he heard his father had died; seeing the wormhole open and swearing he would not be sent down the same path.
Despite his doubts there was one underlining truth: he was being manipulated. It did not matter if the tablet was real or not, someone would seek to manipulate him to further their agenda. Currently Weyoun was the puppeteer pulling his strings, but now he could not help but feel there were shadowy figures in the wings, ready to make their play for control of his strings. All Jake could do now was wait to see what tune he would be dancing to.