Winn silently watched as the Pah-wraith possessed Dukat collapsed in a smoking heap. Despite watching the battle as removed as she was on the station operations centre she was not immune to the awe of it all. It was as she had expected, yet it was something she never thought she would witness. It was a pure display of power from beyond that of mere mortals. She had faith that the Prophet would be the victor, but relief still coursed through her as the result was confirmed.
“The Prophet won,” she said, her voice quivering in wonder, fear, joy; too many emotions to count.
The Prophet inhabited Jake looked up. Jake looked a bit worse for wear. He appeared to be bleeding from the nose and ears, but despite it all he stood straight and tall. Winn couldn’t help but feel immense pride in Jake. He had been given an important and difficult path to follow by the Prophets and he had completely it. There was no greater accomplishment.
“What’s it doing?” asked Antara. “Is it looking out of the windows?”
Winn is too enwrapped with the Prophet’s victory to really care. She just awaited to see what it would do next.
Winn suddenly found herself falling forward as the deck moved underneath her. Alarms started to sound across Ops. She managed to grab the centre console and remain on her feet.
“What’s happening?” she called over the alarms.
Antara muted the alarms as she replied, “The wormhole just opened and we got hit by a gravimetric distortion. We’re getting pulled into the wormhole.”
“Can you stop it?”
“Thrusters are proving to be ineffective. I can’t halt our momentum.”
The station shook again causing renewed alarms on Ops. Winn saw real concern on Antara’s face at the incoming reports.
“We have numerous hull breaches on the docking ring,” she paused as she gripped the console as the station was again rocked. “We’ve lost upper pylon 2. Redirecting power to structural integrity around the station’s core.”
By taking that action Winn realised the Antara thought that the bulk of the station was lost. She was hoping that by sacrificing the compromised outer sections she could save the central section of the station where they, Jake and the Prophet were located. While Winn couldn’t see what was happening outside Ops she could picture the outer and inner rings of the station being torn asunder.
“What will happen if we enter the wormhole?” asked Winn.
“I don’t know. Maybe with the increased structural integrity the core will remain intact.”
Winn wasn’t reassured by Antara’s tone. She didn’t seem to hold much hope of them surviving.
“Can you put the wormhole on the viewscreen?” she asked.
Antara did as Winn requested. They both stared at the growing gapping maw of the wormhole. Debris flew into view as sections were ripped from the station. Winn just was thankful that they had managed to evacuate the station in time because if not the death toll would have been complete.
“You said the prophecy stated that we’d be consumed,” Antara paused as the station again shook. She gave Winn a weak smile and continued, “I didn’t think it meant literally.”
“Neither did I,” Winn said truthfully.
“Well, it’s one way to get into the Celestial Temple.”
Winn didn’t reply instead simply nodding as she stared at the viewscreen, which was completely filled by the mouth of the wormhole now. This was how her life would end. If so she would go out as she lived, with faith in the Prophets.
“My child, would you join me in prayer?” she asked Antara.
“I…I would very much like –” Antara was cut off by another klaxon.
“Is it the Prophet on the promenade?” Winn asked.
“No, sensors are detecting an…indistinct mass exiting the wormhole. We’re on a collision course with it.”
Winn stared deeply into the swirling mass. Could someone have been so unfortunate as to be traversing the wormhole at the same time as they were getting drawn in? She looked for the tell-tale signs of a starship. However, when she finally started to make out an object it was not what she was expected.
“What is that?” asked Antara.
“Tears,” Winn stated simply. “The Prophets will weep. Their sorrow will consume the gateway to the temple,” she quoted from the tablet.
It was just as the prophecy had foretold. The Prophets were weeping. What approached them was a stream of Tears of the Prophets.
“I have shield and structural integrity as high as I can make them,” stated Antara. “Though they are barely holding as it is so I doubt they’ll make a difference.”
Winn walked over to Antara and took her hands in hers. She smiled widely at the younger woman and said, “Then what else is there to do but pray?”
Winn bowed her head and started to recite a prayer to the Prophets.
“Your Eminence,” interrupted Antara.
Winn opened her eyes and looked to Antara. She found her staring off over her shoulder with a look of wondrous awe.
Winn turned and saw what had so captivated the other woman. It was an orb floating in the middle of Ops. Only it was larger, grander and more magnificent than any of those sent to her people before. Its light touched her. It enveloped her. It became her.
Winn barely noticed the voice of the station’s computer report, “Structural integrity failing. Hull breaches on –”
The light grew more intense, but without being painful so to force Winn to look away. It drowned out everything else in the world around her. All that mattered was the light. There was only one thing it could be. It was a call from the Prophets. It was time and there was only one thing left to do.
Winn squeezed Antara’s hand and said, “We’re ready.”
Jake watched in awe as what looked to be hundreds, maybe thousands of orbs streaked past the crumbling station. The station had been pulled towards the wormhole and ripped apart. Despite all this the Prophet did not seem concerned at all. In fact even when the deck had shook it didn’t even seem slightly bothered by that and Jake had never felt like he would lose his balance. Then the orbs arrived. Jake thought they would rip through what was left of the station, but instead they flowed around it like water around a rock.
“The weeping is orbs,” he stated.
The Prophet silently acknowledged his understanding.
“I guess the next thing is for us to be ‘consumed’. Not going to lie, I was hoping that was a metaphor,” he joked with the Prophet.
Jake just received silence from the entity within him. It was waiting for something, but Jake wasn’t sure what.
“Emergency: structural integrity failing,” came an announcement across the promenade. “Evacuate the area immediately.”
That did not sound good. He asked the Prophet what they should do and suggested that leaving would be a good idea. However, it remained silently staring up at the passing orbs. Then through the window came a pair of orbs. They passed through it without damaging it and drifted down towards Jake. Jake’s eyes followed them down. One went towards Dukat’s body, the other came down towards Jake, stopping right in front of his face.
Jake stared into the gloriously glowing orb before him. Suddenly there was a flash of light and Jake found himself somewhere else.
Unguis looked out of the forward window of the bridge of his freighter, the Crais-Redemit. Just off the forward bow of his vessel was one of the Bajoran patrol ships that was escorting the hurriedly formed convoy that had fled Gateway Station.
Unguis had been making the profitable run from his homeworld, Kobheeria, to the Bajor system for over eight years now. If there was one thing he learnt in all that time was when there was trouble in Bajoran space the safest place to be was as close as you could be to a Bajoran patrol ship, especially if it was a Shakaar-class vessel. It was fast, tough and well-armed. It was generally more than a match for most pirate vessels that were foolish enough to try to prey on traffic within the Bajorans’ territory. So despite not fully understanding what was happening he did feel a lot safer tucked under the protective wing of the patrol ship.
Unguis and his crew had thankfully been on board their ship when the crisis unfolded on the station. The first thing they knew about it was a security alert that was followed a few minutes later by an evacuation order. Unguis had been convinced by the Bajorans into helping with evacuating the population of the station. Refusing to release the docking clamps that kept the ship connected to the station until they took in evacuees had a way to elicit help. So he filled his cargo hold with as many people as he could.
As that process was underway he received more information from those boarding his vessel. There was some sort of murderous rampage happening on the station. According to some of the Bajorans it was some sort of prophesied battle between good and evil. Others said it was a terrorist incident. Whatever the truth was it had panicked the station’s crew enough to hurriedly order an evacuation.
After the evacuation convoy had left the station they had taken up a position well away from it. They were currently holding that position as they waited to see how the situation on the station unfolded. According to their escorts more ships had been scrambled from Bajor, so if it came to the worst and the station was destroyed Unguis was hopeful that he could at least offload his passengers onto a Bajoran vessel. Helping in an emergency evacuation was one thing, being around when a very likely to be angry Jem’Hadar fleet turned up to investigate why the station blew up, was another.
“Captain, the wormhole is opening,” reported his helmsman Bracam.
His fellow Kobheerian was the only other person on the small bridge of their vessel. Unguis preferred to have a third person on the bridge, but he had that crew member down in the hold helping to look after their passengers.
“Looks like the Jem’Hadar have responded,” he said. “Better put it on screen.”
The bridge’s small viewscreen displayed an image of the station just as the wormhole burst open beyond it. However, it was soon apparent that this wasn’t a typical opening of the wormhole.
“The station’s moving,” he stated somewhat confused.
“I don’t think of its own will,” replied Bracam. “I’m detecting some serious gravimetric disturbances…it’s being pulled in.”
That was definitely not normal. He was transfixed by the sight of the large station floating inevitably into the wormhole’s maw. He hoped that everyone had been evacuated because he doubted that the station would survive. Even as he thought that he saw explosions on the outer ring and docking pylons as the station started to be torn apart.
“I think something is coming through the wormhole.”
“Whoever it is I hope they notice the large object that’s in their way. Or the dozens of smaller ones that are probably flying at them at some speed,” Unguis commented.
Unguis was transfixed by these events. He knew that he was likely about to witness a terrible collision, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the screen.
“I’m getting some very strange readings from the wormhole. Maybe the station’s destruction is interfering with sensors or –”
Unguis was only somewhat listening to Bracam. From within the wormhole a strange sparkle appeared. He couldn’t make sense of what it could be, but whatever it was it was growing larger and larger. It flowed out of the wormhole like a stream of sparking light. When it came to the remains of the station it flowed around them, but soon the station was completely obscured by this torrent of light as it continued out beyond the wormhole.
“I don’t think that’s the Jem’Hadar,” he stated.
“Ah, Captain. It’s heading towards us.”
Still somewhat mesmerised by the wave of light it took a moment for him to understand what Bracam had said. The flow of the light was travelling alarmingly fast.
“What? Contact the escorts, we need to move!”
“It’s approaching too fast! It will be on us in moments!” cried Bracam in panic.
Unguis didn’t need to look at his viewscreen to see what was coming. He stood and leant towards the bridge window facing port. He could see it with his naked eye now. It went from being as big as his head to simply a wall of sparkling light in mere moments.
“Shields! Shields! SHIELDS!” he ordered in a panic. He activated the internal communications ship-wide. “Brace for impact!”
The wall hit them on their post side. Unguis fell to the floor bracing himself for his ship and him to be torn apart. However, it didn’t happen. Instead the bridge was illuminated as bright as if it was parked on the surface of a star. He clenched his eyes shut, but the light shone through just as bright. Seemingly as quickly as it all happened, it ended.
Unguis cautiously opened his eyes and looked around him. He saw Bracam, wide eyed in terror, breathing as if he had just run across the system, unwrap his arms from around his head.
“We’re alive,” said Bracam in surprised relief.
“The ship? How’s the ship?” he asked.
“Ah, okay. Shields. 100%. No hull breaches. All systems are…operational.”
“I’m no longer detecting it. It might have been destroyed or entered the wormhole, which is still open. Sensors lost it when the…whatever that was surrounded it.”
“I guess that means we need to head to Bajor. Contact our escort with our status.”
Unguis got back into his seat feeling a bit embarrassed about his cowering on the floor. It had not been his most dignified moment.
“I’m not getting a response from our escort,” stated Bracam.
“Try a different one,” he ordered.
“I’ve tried them all. Nothing.”
“They might be damaged. Contact the captains of the other vessels. We can liaise with them and come up with a plan if need be.”
There was a slight chime indicating an internal communication. Unguis checked his console and saw it was from the cargo area.
“What is it?” he answered.
“Captain, they’re gone!”
“The passengers! They’ve just…disappeared.”
Unguis was about to have a few choice words with that crew member when Bracam interrupted.
“Ah, Captain. I’m only detecting a few life signs aboard. All Kobheerian.”
“That’s not possible. We had over a hundred Bajorans in the cargo hold.”
“Not only that, but I’m only getting a few hundred life signs across the entire convoy.”
Unguis moved to Bracam and looked over his shoulder. “We evacuated thousands of people between us. They can’t have all gone!”
“You might want to hear the comm traffic.”
“– I repeat, our passengers are gone!”
“Hello? Hello? Is this thing working? The crew are gone, so are most of the other passengers. We don’t know –”
“I can’t raise the escort vessels and sensors show them as empty!”
“– confirm that we are missing our Bajoran evacuees.”
“We should head to Bajor. Maybe they can –”
“Are you crazy? Whatever that was, it was heading straight for Bajor. We need to get out of here!”
“What do we do? The station is gone! Bajor might be under attack –”
Unguis looked to Bracam and asked, “What the hell is going on?”
Korena Sisko impatiently tapped her finger on the table as she stared at the monitor in the kitchen. Reports had come in several minutes ago about an incident on Gateway Station. The reports were vague about exactly what it was, but they had reported the station was being evacuated and Bajoran Security had dispatched additional vessels to the station in response.
Normally she wouldn’t be concerned about events on the station, but two days ago her husband had been whisked away there. A friend had contacted her from Bajoran Security to tell her that he had been taken to the station on the orders of the Dominion. He had been in the B’hala caverns apparently. She didn’t know why, but thought it had to do with what had happened at the festival. She was sure Jake had experienced a vision just by the way he had acted after the ceremony. She had not asked him about it, orb experiences were very private affairs, but had hoped he would tell her about it when he felt ready.
After several nerve-racking hours she had received a message from Jake. He confirmed he was on the station, but he was vague as to why he was there or what he was doing, apart from that he was aiding the Dominion with something. He seemed unhurt and in good spirits, but she was sure that was an act to try and set her at ease. It didn’t really help and she wanted to travel to the station to see him. However, she couldn’t leave Benny, especially with the recent spate of natural disasters occurring across the planet.
She had tried to contact her husband immediately after getting the message. However, her attempts were rebuffed by the staff of the station. So she had to leave him a message, but she had no idea if he had received it or not. She had tried again not long ago, but had no luck and now all communication with the station was out.
Korena had a terrible feeling that whatever was happening on that station that Jake was somehow involved. There were just too many coincidences happening. Jake having a vision at the festival. The son of the Emissary exploring a holy site, then taken to the station his father commanded. Planetary disturbances that were rumoured to be linked to activity at the gates to the Celestial Temple. It had the distinct ring of divine providence.
Korena looked up to see Benny standing at the entrance to the kitchen. He looked very sleepy, which wasn’t surprising given how late it was.
“What are you doing up, Benny?” she asked, smiling so disguise her worry for his father.
“The lights woke me.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, dear. I was just…I was just reading. Go to bed and I’ll dim the lights.”
“No, not these lights. The ones outside.”
Korena gave her son a confused look. She went to the window and looked out. A number of the neighbours’ outside lights were on. She even spotted some of them out on the street. Something was going on, though it didn’t seem to be at street level. The bulk of their attention was skywards.
She couldn’t really see anything from inside the house so she went to the front door and stepped outside. She looked up and saw what people were looking at. There were dozens of streaks of light across the night sky. It seemed to be a very intense meteor shower, though she didn’t remember hearing anything about it on any news reports. Then she realised something strange. The lines of light weren’t just disappearing they were focusing into points of light that continued to move across the sky.
“Wow!” said Benny excitedly next to her. “I’m going to make a lot of wishes!”
She smiled down at Benny. Wishing upon a falling star was an old Earth custom, a rather sweet one at that.
Korena looked to where her son was pointing. It was a bright spot in the sky, far too bright to be a night time star. It was getting brighter and brighter. Whatever it was, it was getting closer. She grabbed Benny’s arm and was about to rush him back inside, but something stopped her.
The light was strangely fixating. Korena seemed to be unable to do anything but stare up at it as it approached. The object came to a stop just above, bathing the entire street in its warming glow. The light was intensely bright, yet it was beautifully peaceful. Korena didn’t know how to explain it as the light consumed her entire vision and being.
Jake suddenly found himself in an underground cavern. Before him he saw Dukat’s body. Beyond that the ground stopped and dropped away into darkness. He didn’t know how either of them got there, wherever ‘there’ was. He thought maybe he was back in a vision, but it lacked the strange unnatural light. That said, the cavern was somewhat illuminated.
His head turned to the side and he saw what looked like a large orb floating next to him. His head turned to the other side and found a second orb. Given that wasn’t by his will suggested he was still in the real world. The glowing orbs also answered where the light was coming from and he wondered if they were the two orbs from the station. Had they transported them here somehow?
He started to speak, however the words weren’t Jake’s. They weren’t even in a language he understood. As soon as he stopped the cavern beyond the ledge they were on burst into flames. From the blaze came wisps of fire that danced in and out of the inferno. Several approach him, but they seemingly bounce off an invisible barrier. Jake felt a wave of unadulterated hatred wash over him. He realised he could only be in one place in the universe. The prison of the Pah-wraiths: the Fire Caves on Bajor.
The Prophet stepped him forward. Jake could sense the orbs flanking him move with them. The Pah-wraiths retreated farther back and he wondered if the orbs were also protecting them from these hostile entities. He knelt down next to Dukat and picked up his body. The Prophet walked them to the edge of the ledge. All that Jake could see below them was fire, endless fire.
The Prophet regarded Dukat’s body. As it did Jake sensed an immense sorrow. However, it is not for the instrument they held.
“It tried to kill you. It would have destroyed you all,” Jake said confused by what he was sensing.
The Kosst Amojan are of Bajor. We are of Bajor.
In the rush of events it had been easy for Jake to forget that. The Prophets and Pah-wraith were a group sundered. Their opposing views meant that they were destined for conflict and with that came casualties. While the Pah-wraith had seemed fixated on destroying the Prophets and even joyful at the prospect, the Prophet had been more reserved. Despite what was at stake it did not revel in its victory over its foe.
The Prophet released Dukat. His body plummeted into the flames and disappeared. Jake wasn’t sure if the Prophet was returning the defeated combatant to its comrades or if in the battle the Pah-wraith had been completely destroyed and this was more of a symbolic gesture. Whatever the reason it was a farewell for a brother rather than a hated enemy.
He stared down into the inferno. The grief only seemed to grow from the Prophet. Jake sensed that this was for far more than just a single fallen foe. It spoke of what was to come. The Prophets’ war was about to end.
“What’s going to happen to them? The Pah-wraiths I mean,” he asked.
The Kosst Amojan have lost. Their fate will now be sealed.
Jake took a step back from the edge. The orbs that had flanked him moved towards the centre of the cavern. They started to glow brighter and brighter. The air around them swizzled and crackled with energy. There was a slight vibration through the earth around him and bits of dirt fell from the ceiling. As the light increased the quaking got worse and increasingly larger bits from the ceiling were shaken free.
From the Pah-wraiths their hatred was tempered with fear. Jake wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but it definitely wasn’t going to be good for the Pah-wraiths. They fled from the light of the orbs returning into the mass of fire.
The rocks falling from above were starting to worry Jake now. The quaking was now constant and the size and frequency of the rock falls could only spell one thing: the entire cavern was collapsing in. The bulk of them came from above the orbs and plunged into the fire, but it was radiating out fast. Jake wasn’t sure how he got here in the first place so he definitely had no idea how he would get out. He queried the Prophet within him, but it remained silent; it seemingly consumed in its own mourning.
The light was soon too bright for him to see, but the sounds of the cave-in only worsened. The Prophet would probably survive a ton of rocks falling on him, but Jake wouldn’t. His panic rose as he struggled to try and wrest back control of his body to escape.
Then there was silence. A voice cut through the stillness. It was his own. Distorted and otherworldly.
The Reckoning is complete. Your journey has ended, Jake Sisko.
Weyoun gazed across the city of Ashalla from the balcony of the office of the Kai. It was as serene as it was commanding and worthy of someone of such a high status. He heard the footsteps coming long before they entered the office.
“Report,” he ordered.
“The Jem’Hadar are continuing to round people up. A further two camps have been set up to hold those we find.”
“None have been reported.”
He turned away from the view to face his fellow Vorta, Gelnon, the Dominion representative to Bajor.
“How are the interviews progressing?”
“We are hearing the same tales from each person. Objects came down from the sky, there was a blinding light and the objects and Bajorans disappeared.”
Weyoun was not surprised by Gelnon’s report. The Dominion had been investigating the mass disappearance on Bajor for several days now. However, despite the time that had elapsed they were no closer to really understanding what had happened.
Weyoun had arrived on Bajor as soon as he could. There had been a delayed as a new clone of him had to be put into service. His predecessor had last been reported on the now destroyed Gateway Station. In fact, Gelnon was also believed to have perished on the station and the person in front of Weyoun was also a new clone. They were now in charge of it all, Gelnon in his role as the representative to Bajor and Weyoun as the senior Dominion figure in the region.
“Continue the interviews,” he ordered.
“Do you expect to learn something new?”
Weyoun shook his head before he replied, “No, but it’s better to be thorough just in case. Has the review of the data from the monitoring satellites been completed?”
“It has. It further confirms the eye witness reports. However, while we have images of what happened their sensors failed to make any meaningless readings save for a massive surge in verterons before the objects disappeared from Bajor. Apart from apparently removing the Bajorans the only other impact during the incident was a major seismic event in an uninhabited mountainous region. Though the latter might not be related as Bajor has suffered several natural disturbances in the last two days.”
Again nothing of any value had been gained in figuring out what had happened.
“I had hoped for more,” sighed Weyoun. “Is there anything else, Gelnon?”
“What do you want us to do with the survivors after we have finished interviewing them?” asked Gelnon.
“Organise for them to be transported off of Bajor.”
“You’re letting them go?” asked Gelnon surprised. “Would it not be better to deal with them?”
Weyoun was not surprised by Gelnon’s suggestion. He had already considered the option and discarded it. While it might be the easiest option to take, it didn’t mean it was the best option.
“There is no point. This might have been the location of the most significant disappearances, it is far from the only one. We know ships left this system before the Jem’Hadar secured it and transmissions of not only what happened on Bajor, but of other similar, though smaller, events elsewhere are circulating across the region. Killing those who remain on Bajor would be unproductive,” he explained.
“Surely they will further spread the news. It could cause unrest,” continued to question Gelnon.
Weyoun understood Gelnon’s thinking. Maintaining order was one of the primary purposes of the Vorta. However, there was more than one way to do it.
“Do you know what the rumours are concerning this event?” Weyoun asked.
Weyoun wasn’t surprised to hear that. Gelnon had been purely focused on what was happening on Bajor since he was activated and dispatched to the planet. Weyoun was able to expand his view further and take stock of the ripples this event caused beyond the system over the several days since it happened.
“The most popular one is that we are behind what has happened. It is believed we utilised a new weapon that was targeted specifically to wipe out the Bajorans. Or that we in fact have mass transported them to the Gamma Quadrant for various nefarious reasons.”
“But we had nothing to do with this.”
“I know. However, if the region thinks we did it serves as a deterrent in the short term. Eventually they will realise that the wormhole is gone and when they do it will likely lead to some destabilisation.”
Weyoun saw the gleam of realisation in Gelnon’s eyes as he came to understand what Weyoun was saying.
“The idea that we have a weapon that could wipe out an entire species seemingly across the quadrant would temper any passions.”
“Exactly. A mass execution of those left on Bajor would only serve to inflame passions.”
The disappearance of the Bajorans was really just a curiosity. The most critical consequence of the incident had been the sudden and complete disappearance of the wormhole. With it went the Dominion’s link to their power base in the Gamma Quadrant. While the Dominion was powerful in its absorbed territories it was weakened by the severing of the connection. This news would have serious repercussions once it became known.
Weyoun continued, “However, in the immediate future we must construct a new station near the former terminus of the wormhole and restrict travel to this system. The longer we can maintain the illusion that the wormhole still exists the better.”
“Of course. I will make the arrangements.”
Gelnon gave him a curt bow and looked to turn on his heels to leave. However, he hesitated. He looked like he wanted to say more, but was unsure if he should. Weyoun gestured for him to speak.
“Weyoun, what do you think happened here?”
“I don’t know,” he answered truthfully. “The Bajorans disappearing along with the wormhole cannot be a coincidence.”
“What will happen to Bajor now?”
“It will become just another abandoned planet. An example that nothing in the universe is eternal,” Weyoun paused as he turned back to the balcony and stared out across the silent, empty city. As he drank in the desolate expanse he added, “Not even gods.”