Jake and Lenaris had stared dumbfounded as they watched whatever it was that Dukat had become slaughter with supreme ease nine of the best soldiers in the known galaxy. Jake was not sure what to expect when they came to the promenade, but never would he have thought he would witness what he just had. No one could have.
Jake had come to better understand the Prophets and Pah-Wraiths over the years. He had read the stories of them possessing people to do their evil bidding. However, in all of them they were specific about the Pah-Wraiths suppressing the individual, taking them over. This was not that. Dukat was in control. The evil that had been wrought here was of Dukat’s making. That made it all that much more troubling. The powers might be that of a god, but the initiative was that of a man.
With the Jem’Hadar dead Dukat turned his attention back to the prone Weyoun. Given their history Jake did not want to think about what Dukat would do to the Vorta. Weyoun tried to flee, but Dukat stretched his hand and as if he had cast an invisible lasso, stopped the Vorta in his tracks. Despite all that Weyoun had done Jake could not help but feel sorry for the flaying Dominion representative. Weyoun would not be granted as swift a death as the Jem’Hadar. Dukat would make him suffer.
With Dukat’s attention elsewhere it gave them a chance to at least try and get Kai Winn off the promenade and to somewhere safer. She had remained slumped over the body of a prylar, oblivious to the carnage around her. He gestured to Lenaris to follow him as he cautiously slunk towards the Kai, wary of attracting Dukat’s attention unnecessarily.
Upon reaching her Jake put his hand on her shoulder while Lenaris focused his attention on Dukat. Lenaris’ phaser pistol was in hand, somewhat a futile gesture given what they had just witnessed.
“Come on,” he whispered as he touched Winn.
“He killed him,” stated Winn.
Jake looked down at the body Winn cradled. It was Solbor, her long-time companion. Solbor had been her most trusted confidant for over twenty years. He had been a constant by her side and Winn had made no secret of how important he had been in her blackest days following the darkening of the orbs. It explained why Winn was so grief stricken.
Jake and Lenaris had arrived on the promenade only a few moments before Weyoun had. They had not witnessed how Solbor had died, but given how easily Dukat had dispatched the Jem’Hadar it would not have taken much to end the life of the frail, old monk.
“I’m sorry for your loss; he was a good man. But we can’t stay here,” said Jake. He tried to pull her to her feet, but she was a dead weight making it difficult.
“Please, Kai,” pleaded Lenaris joining in. “We must get you to safety before Dukat finishes with the Vorta. Whatever is happening here...our people will need your strength.”
“If the Prophet does not show nothing will matter,” said Winn utterly defeated. She looked up at Jake’s for the first time. Winn’s eyes were red and puffy from her sorrow and tears stained her cheeks. “Nor can I run, Jake. Dukat will burn the entire universe to hunt me down and kill me.”
“That’s not the Kai Winn I remember. She would never just give up,” said Jake trying to spur her into action.
Winn looked back down at Solbor. She stroked his face as she replied, “I’m old now.”
Without her aura of authority and her strength of conviction Winn looked every bit the old woman she had become.
“And you’ll be able to get older still; you just need to get out of here,” Jake paused as he took her head in his hands, turning to face him. “Trust me...no trust the Prophets. They said I had to start the Reckoning and I will.”
Jake saw the glimmer of faith return to Winn’s eyes.
“Yes, the Reckoning,” she said. “It’s our last hope. But what of Solbor? He gave his life for me.”
“He’s with the Prophets now and he would want you to continue. Your role in their plan is obviously not over yet,” assured Jake.
Something within Winn fortified and she allowed Jake to help her to her feet. As she rose she placed Solbor’s head delicately on the floor.
“Nanpa can you escort the Kai to her ship?” Jake asked.
“What about you?” asked the Lieutenant.
“I have to check the temple. Maybe Kira is still there.”
“Dukat’s murder spree started in the temple,” said Winn. “If Kira was in there…”
Jake didn’t need it spelt out to him. However, he had come this far and would not just give up.
“I still have to check. I think that’s where my path is leading me.”
“Good luck, my child. Walk with the Prophets,” said Winn grasping her ear weakly in her shaking hand.
The Lieutenant led the Kai away and Jake ducked into the temple. He glanced at Dukat and saw that he looked to be throttling the life out of Weyoun. He could hear some of what Dukat was saying and it was obvious he was unleashing his anger on the helpless Vorta. As unsavoury as it might be Jake had to admit that it served some good as it allowed them to at least rescue Winn for the moment.
When he entered the temple he nearly tripped over the body of a security officer. A second lay dead nearby. Dukat had been here. Jake continued into the temple and found a single body on the floor; a woman’s body. Jake’s heart sank as he rushed over knowing whose face he would find: Kira’s. He dropped his head in sorrow and his eyes welled up as he saw the dark bruises over Kira’s body and particularly around her neck. She had died a brutal death.
Suddenly a familiar bluish light appeared. It floated towards Kira’s body. Jake fell back in shock, unsure what it was or what to do as it approached. It hovered over Kira. From it he seemed to get a feeling of uncertainty. Suddenly it clicked.
“You’re a Prophet. Wait...that means the other light was the...I freed both of you,” he said with realisation.
Crushing guilt started to set in as he thought of the death he had witnessed and his role in making it possible. However, there would be plenty of time for wallowing in guilt later. The only hope was to start the Reckoning and he had found the final piece.
“You have to do something! You have to stop Dukat or whatever he is now!”
Jake had no idea if it could understand him.
“If you don’t Dukat will kill –”
There was a flash of light and Jake found himself in the Temple, though it was not. It was lit by an unnatural light that was becoming more familiar to Jake. Before him stood Kira over her own body.
“The instrument is no more,” stated the standing Kira looking down at the one on the floor.
“What? Kira?” he asked. “Can’t you just bring her back to life? You are a…god.”
The Prophet-Kira knelt down next to the ‘real’ Kira and rolled her head to the side. One of her ears glowed as if it was white hot.
“The Kosst Amojan has denied us the instrument,” it said. “Without it the confrontation will not be favourable.”
“You were going to possess Kira? I guess that makes sense. The Pah-wraith took Dukat so whatever is happening you need a…host. But why Kira specifically?”
“The instrument was to face the Reckoning,” said the Prophet as if that was explanation enough.
“So what now that she’s unusable?” he asked.
“The Kosst Amojan will be victorious. They will claim the temple. Bajor will burn. All will perish. Unless…”
“Unless a new instrument can be found.”
“So just grab someone.”
The Prophet-Kira continued to stare at the corpse of Kira as it replied, “I must be one with the instrument.”
This statement confused Jake. From what he had read Prophet or Pah-wraith possession didn’t required any kind of consent. Then he thought why the Prophet would seek Kira out. She would surely consent to take part, but what pious Bajoran wouldn’t? She had conviction and an unwavering belief in the Prophets. Maybe that was what it needed, if so Kira had that in spades.
On the other hand there was Dukat. He was the perfect host for the Pah-wraith if they were as malevolent as the stories suggested. He would lack any belief in the Prophets and would gladly see wholesale destruction to Bajor and the rest of the galaxy.
“The instrument matters,” he said simply. “Then why did you let the Pah-wraith get to her first? If you needed the right instrument the temple would be the first place to look!”
The Prophet-Kira didn’t answer. Its gaze still unwaveringly on Kira.
Jake remembered that despite appearances he wasn’t dealing with a humanoid being. The Prophets were so far removed from that he could have no idea how it perceived the station. It was probably foolish of him to even consider that it would understand what a temple was. There was nothing to draw it here. In the past orbs often visited the station and it might have recognise that if one had been here. However, as far as he knew no orb had left the planet in years. The temple could appear no more special to the Prophet as any other space on the station.
Jake started to feel wrought. Their only hope against Dukat seemed confused. It just stared down at Kira impassively. It seemed completely unable to figure out what to do next.
Almost out of panic he said, “What about me?”
The Prophet-Kira didn’t even regard him as it replied, “To defeat the Kosst Amojan your pagh must be strong. You must willingly accept your role or you will be a hindrance. You are not of Bajor. Your faith is lacking. Your doubt will see both of us perish.”
The Prophet’s words were delivered in a calm and even manner, but felt as stinging a rebuke as Jake had ever received. He wondered why he thought he would be a good choice in the first place. He wasn’t from Bajor or even Bajoran. He was involving himself in something that was beyond him.
No, he corrected himself. He was not involving himself. He had been dragged into this situation by others. By the Prophets. He felt ire rise within him over the entire situation he found himself in. More directly, he felt anger towards the Prophet for how it dismissed him. He had been used and was now being cast away as unimportant flotsam.
“Then why involve me at all? If I’m not of Bajor why pull me into your plans, surely a Bajoran would be able to do it just as well?” he spat back at the Prophet, though it continued to be unmoved by his outburst. So he continued, “And my father! What about him?”
“He is the Sisko,” stated the Prophet as if that answered the question completely.
“He wasn’t from Bajor! In fact, I’ve spent longer with the Bajorans and on Bajor than he ever did! My wife is Bajoran! My son is Bajoran!” he practically shouted at the Prophet-Kira as he advanced on it as if he could intimidate it into seeing his point.
Jake stopped when he was practically standing over the Prophet-Kira. He leant down and said as calmly as he could with his blood fired up, “I might not have been born there or have Bajoran parents, but I am of Bajor! My life is there! And what happens to Bajor happens to me.”
The Prophet-Kira for the first time turned towards him. It looked up at him. It didn’t look threatened by his close proximity. However, there was something there. Almost an interest in him. It was a wordless look that said it was listening.
“My father...your emissary, told me I had to see this through. I have never doubted him before. I can give everything to this because I have utter faith in him. My role at first might have been just to set this up, but it isn’t anymore. It’s to see this through. I. Have. No. Doubts.”
The Prophet-Kira stared back at him almost as if it was waiting for him to flinch. Jake did not. He met its gaze with his own and willed it to argue against him.
“You must give yourself to me freely,” it said finally.
The Prophet-Kira reached out and grasped Jake’s ear. A wave of sensations crashed over Jake like he had never felt before causing him to inhale deeply. Suddenly the Prophet-Kira was gone and he realised he was back in the real world.
While he could see and feel the world around him, he felt strangely disconnected from it. He turned around, but not by his own will. Jake then sensed another presence, but it seemed to be within him, thought it was also much more than that. It was wrapped around him like a protective shell, yet it flowed through him like blood. It was the Prophet.
Jake surrendered himself to what was happening as the Prophet walked them out of the temple and onto the carnage strewn promenade. His eyes immediately sought out Dukat. Dukat appeared to be throttling Weyoun much as he was when Jake had entered the temple several minutes previous.
Time had no meaning, said a voice that seemed to be into his ear as well as inside his mind at the same time. However, the voice did not sound like Kira, instead it sounded like a strange version of him. Jake guessed he shouldn’t be surprised that the non-corporeal Prophets would lack a unique voice as he would understand it and need to mimic others.
He realised that his perception of time in the vision was not the same as what passed in real life, much like in his orb experience. Or at least that’s what he thought the Prophet meant. He remembered his father saying something to that effect to him years ago. He felt he now could understand why his father seemed dazed after experiencing a vision.
“It is time Kosst Amojan,” his voice rang out, though Jake noted that there was something different about it. It had an outer-worldly tone in it, much like the voice he heard in his mind. “The instruments have been chosen. The Reckoning will begin.”
Dukat turned towards him. He saw a look of surprise on his face, Dukat had not expected to face Jake. To be fair Jake was also fairly surprised as well. Then something changed. The almost manic and crazed look that Dukat had worn fell away, replaced by a more impassive expression. Jake guessed that the Kosst Amojan had taken full control of its instrument now the main event was about to start.
Weyoun, who had been released by Dukat saw his opportunity to escape and took it. The Vorta scrambled away rather undignified. He was no longer of interest. There were bigger fish to fry now. Dukat walked towards Jake and stopped several metres away.
“You use an instrument not of Bajor,” stated Kosst Amojan-Dukat, his voice had also changed and had a similar otherworldly nature to Jake’s. “You are weak. Your children are weak. They abandon you and leave their fate to an outsider,” taunted the Kosst Amojan.
The Prophet didn’t seem to be interested in conversing with its opponent. Rather it was doing something else. Jake felt a great swelling of power within him. The space just in front of him started to glow. A bluish stream of energy rippled out of seemingly nowhere and launched towards the Pah-wraith possessed Dukat.
At seemingly the same time a yellowish, almost fire-like stream of energy came from in front of Dukat. Both streams of energy collided between them. There was a shower of sparks from a nearby EPS unit overloading, which spoke to whatever energies were entangling on the promenade.
The battle was joined. The Reckoning had begun. The final battle between the Prophets and Kosst Amojan would be decided on this day.
Colonel Antara was almost speechless as she watched the situation unfold on the promenade. Dukat’s rampage had been unstoppable. Every time her security personnel had confronted him it ended with their quick deaths. In the end she had to keep them to evacuating civilians out of the monster’s path.
It was not an easy decision to make and even harder to maintain when the Kai had tried to intervene. The Kai had failed at the cost of the life of her assistant. Antara had to resign herself to abandoning her Kai on the promenade rather than send her crew on what would be pointless suicide missions.
When Gelnon and Weyoun arrived she had let her hopes rise. She knew with them were a platoon of Jem’Hadar. She had seen them in action before and knew how brutal, efficient and skilful they were. However, in under a minute Dukat surrounded himself with their corpses. Gelnon followed quickly after that and she thought so would Weyoun. However, Dukat obviously had other plans.
She knew of the history between Dukat and Weyoun. She had served on the station under Dukat’s short command in the early months of the Unification War. During that time she had been forced to attend the public execution of several traitors and terrorists, which including Dukat’s daughter, all on Weyoun’s orders. After that Dukat suffer some sort of breakdown and next thing she knew he was gone and Damar had taken his place as the head of the Cardassian Union. The Dominion explained it as Dukat stepping aside for a new leader to handle the next phase of the war. However, it was well-known on the station that Weyoun simply stripped Dukat of his title and position, and shipped him back to Cardassia.
Dukat set about savagely beating Weyoun. As he did she saw two individuals on the security feed sneak out to Kai Winn. She recognised the two individuals. One was Lieutenant Lenaris, part of the stations security detail. The other was Jake Sisko, son of the Emissary. She didn’t know why they were both there given Lenaris had been sent to escort Jake Sisko back to his quarters. Somehow they managed to get the Kai to her feet and Lenaris led her away to safety. Jake Sisko on the other hand went into the temple. He exited moments later, but there was something different about him. Dukat finally stopped beating Weyoun and turned his attention to Jake Sisko.
The two men stood opposite each other, separated by several metres.
“Colonel, I’m getting some strange readings from the promenade,” reported one of her officers.
“From where?” she asked.
“They seem to be coming from Dukat and Jake Sisko.”
Antara stared at the two men. They seemed to be just standing there. Then suddenly two beams of energy erupted from out in front of them and collided between them. There was a momentary picture break up and at the same time she saw showers of sparks from across the promenade.
“Let me guess, that’s what you were detecting?”
“Yes, Colonel. The power levels that they are creating are rising rapidly. It’s contained now, but if they lose control…it could destroy the entire station.”
Antara stared at the image of the promenade. Occasionally it turned to static from the power fluctuations being produced.
“Divert power from that area. Set up a containment field around that section of the promenade.”
“It won’t do any good.”
Antara turned to the new voice and saw the Kai stepping off the turbolift along with Lieutenant Lenaris.
“Your Eminence,” said Antara, bowing her head in reverence. “Do you know what is happening on my station?”
“Yes, my child. It is the Reckoning. The final confrontation between the Prophets and the Pah-wraiths. Jake Sisko and Dukat are their vessels. This cannot; this must not be stopped. The future of all of Bajor will be decided here and now.”
Antara stared back at the viewscreen with some disbelief. It seemed odd that they would choose two aliens to decide the fate of Bajor, though the Prophets had chosen a non-Bajoran as their Emissary. As she watched the battle it did start to make a bit more sense. The strange powers and unrelenting slaughter by Dukat spoke of more than a mere Cardassian. He was the host of pure evil. This was not a battle between mere mortals. It was one between gods.
“You should evacuate the station immediately,” stated the Kai.
“Prophecy speaks of this conflict destroying the gateway to the temple.”
It was instantly clear what that meant. The station was at risk. The energies they had detected being produced by the two entities made that clear, but this further warning gave her little choice.
She acted immediately. “Order an immediate evacuation. Contact Bajor and inform them of our situation.”
As she went around issuing orders Antara noticed a new turbolift arrive. On this one was Weyoun. He was the last person she needed in this situation. He still looked a bit shaken from his ordeal, but he strode onto Ops with the same confidence all Vorta displayed.
“What are you doing, Colonel?” questioned Weyoun.
“We’re evacuating the station. The energy levels they are producing down on the promenade are sufficient to destroy the station,” she explained gesturing to the viewscreen.
“That is far from necessary,” stated Weyoun. “We believe that chroniton radiation can kill the entities from the wormhole.”
Antara gave Weyoun a look of disbelief. “You want me to attempt to kill a Prophet?”
Weyoun gave her a look of disdain at her incredulity. “I expect you to do whatever is necessary to preserve this station. The Dominion will not look favourably on its loss. It would likely call for immediate securing of this system by the Jem’Hadar and a more direct involvement by the Dominion military in securing not only the wormhole, but Bajor itself.”
Weyoun’s threat was obvious. If she did not do as he ordered the special relationship Bajor currently enjoyed would be no more and the Jem’Hadar would be deployed to her world. She knew that her people would not accept such an action. They would resist and Bajor would again suffer under another brutal occupation.
Even with all that Antara could not bring herself to follow Weyoun’s orders. She could not attempt to harm a Prophet, even if it would also harm a Pah-wraith. She looked over to the Kai for guidance. The Kai had said that they must not stop what was happening and she looked as convinced of that course of action as ever. To Antara there was only one course of action she could take.
“I’m sorry. I can’t give that order,” she stated.
Weyoun fixed her with a hard stare before he turned to one of her officers.
“Flood the promenade with chronitons,” he ordered.
The officer looked unsure and hesitated following the Vorta’s orders. He glanced to Antara and Winn. Neither woman said anything. It was up to him to display his faith, not for them to force it. He shook his head and muttered his refusal.
Weyoun looked to another officer and before he could ask the officer stepped back from her console and placed her hands behind her back. Soon all the other Bajorans did the same. It was a clear signal. They were putting their faith in the Prophets.
Weyoun sighed in annoyance. “Fine! I will do it myself!”
He marched to the closest console and shouldered the Bajoran officer out of his way.
“Stop! You must not interfere!” cried Winn.
She rushed to Weyoun and tried to prevent him from using the console. He shoved her savagely, sending the older woman sprawling to the floor.
“I have put up with your insufferable superstitious nonsense for too long,” he said to Winn as she struggled to get back to her feet. He returned his attention to the console. As he manipulated its controls he continued, “I see now that the Dominion has been too lax in that regard. Once this is over things will change –”
There was a high pitch whine and a beam of light struck Weyoun. Weyoun stumbled back from the console. He looked down in shock at his smoking abdomen and then up at Antara. He reached forward for the console again. A second beam struck him and Weyoun collapsed to the ground, smoke rising from a chest wound that was clearly fatal.
Antara looked down to see her weapon in her hand. She didn’t even remember making the decision to unholster it, let alone fire it. She reholstered her weapon and went to go aid the Kai. The officer whose console Weyoun attempted to use was already helping the Kai back to her feet. Winn waved off any concern shown by the officer and Antara.
Kai glanced at Weyoun and then back to Antara and said, “Thank you.”
Antara just nodded. She had taken a life and to be thanked for it seemed strange. She also wondered what the Prophets would think about it being done essentially in their name. She just hoped that whatever judgement awaited her that the good in her life would outweigh the bad.
“Kai, I will have my officers escort you to your vessel immediately,” she offered. “I will remain to oversee the evacuation and if I can, save the station.”
“No, have you crew prioritise the evacuation of civilians. I will remain here, with you.”
“Kai, every available ship is to be used. There will be no leaving if you stay and if the station is lost –”
“We can continue to argue over this and waste the time needed to save those on this station. Or you can abide by your Kai’s wishes.”
Antara was about to argue, but the Kai was legendary in her stubbornness. She simply didn’t have the strength to force the Kai to leave and questioned with everything that was happening if any of her crew would obey such an order.
“As you wish, Kai.”
Antara returned to issuing orders to those in Ops. Soon only the Kai and her were left to monitor the situation.
“There’s no turning back,” Antara said. “I’ve killed the head Vorta in the Alpha Quadrant and if this station is destroyed…whatever happens we are bound to the consequences.”
The Kai gave her a solemn look and simply replied, “We always are.”
As the battle continued Jake could feel it take its toll on his body. While he wasn’t experiencing pain itself, he felt an increasing strain throughout his body. He wondered if the Prophet was shielding him from the full experience. He could see why it had wanted unwavering faith. Despite his mind being disconnected from his body he slowly started to feel more sensations as the battle wore on. This suggested that it required a percentage of the Prophet’s power to keep him suppressed and as it needed more and more energy to combat the Pah-wraith it had to lessen its hold on him. Of course this was all speculation on his part.
As increasingly discomforting as it was for Jake, through the bright lights of the colliding energies he could see Dukat’s gaunt face was showing it more. Dukat’s lip had twisted into a pained sneer. Blood was coming from his nose, though Jake thought he could feel a wetness from his nose to his lip. Dukat’s straight posture was starting to hunch as if he was fighting to hold his ground. It was clear Dukat was losing. The point of contact between them was shifting back and forwards, but gradually it was moving more towards Dukat than back at Jake.
With each instance that the Pah-wraith’s energy edged towards Jake, the Prophet seemed to gather more of itself and push back with even more strength. It was after these exertions that Jake could feel the binds around him almost loosen and the discomfort rise. Despite that Jake maintained his place in the background for fear he might do something to distract the Prophet. However, if this continued in the same pattern the Prophet would surely win. Though he had no idea exactly what that meant for either him or Dukat.
Slowly the Prophet’s energy closed in on Dukat until it seemed to be only centimetres from his chest. Dukat’s face was contorted in desperation, pain, rage, and fear. Dukat was shaking as he tried to resist, but it was only a matter of time. If this battle did require an act of faith by the instruments, Jake had to wonder if Dukat had started to panic. He wondered if he struggled against the Pah-wraith as it started to lose, which might have only resulted in bringing about the conclusion quicker.
The Pah-wraith was done for and Jake felt the Prophet note that. A sadness flowed through him from the non-corporeal entity as it readied for the final surge. It released another wave of energy down the beam. The Pah-wraith let out an inhuman scream as its defences were overwhelm by the Prophet. As the beam hit Dukat it enveloped him in the blue energy of the Prophet.
The beam from Jake stopped and the energy dissipated. Dukat remained standing, smoke rising from his body. His face was hollow of expression and his eyes were dead and empty. Dukat collapsed to the floor lifelessly.
Jake or at least the Prophet stared at its foe. Jake was a bit surprised at how the battle had ended. He had expected something a bit more spectacular. Given the energy he thought the Prophet was putting out he had expected an explosion or for it to slice through Dukat and cut through the station. The prophecy had talked of the destruction of the station and that was how Jake thought the battle would end.
“Is that it?” asked Jake.
No, the Prophets shall weep, came the haunting reply of his distorted voice.
His head turned upwards towards the large windows on the upper level of the promenade. Above them the wormhole exploded into life. Something was coming. Jake didn’t need the Prophet to tell him that, he could feel it.