Chapter 1: The Dream
He knew he was dreaming yet that did not quench his fear. He was surrounded by such an infinite and consuming whiteness that he could not truly comprehend.
“HELLO!” he yelled. “IS ANYONE HERE?”
As soon as he asked that he regretted it. First it came as a buzzing of an insect and it grew louder. Whispers. Unintelligible, bone-numbing whispers. He spun around but could see no other beings yet the sound continued to increase. It was coming from nowhere yet everywhere. Fear gripped him and launched his feet forward in a sprint away, yet towards the voices. He huffed and puffed until he tripped over something, himself or nothing he did not know. He crashed to the white floor.
The voices suddenly seemed to advance on him as if they were just above him. He curled himself into a ball, his voice, pitifully small, mumbling for a reprieve. The voices grew louder until they were deafening before unexpectedly becoming silent and single word suddenly followed.
Chapter 2: The First Step
Jake Sisko’s eyes shot open. The bright light briefly blinding him causing him to move his hand to shield his eyes. As his senses returned he realised he was no longer in the world of white. His eyes adjusted and he found himself in his bedroom lying in a comfortable bed with the only sound the rasping of his own breath.
“Jake, are you up?”
Jake looked over towards the door just as a head popped around the corner.
“I am now, Korena,” he replied sheepishly.
“Well, hurry up! Benny has to leave soon. He has an early start.”
“Yes, wife! Right away!” he said, adding a mock salute at the end.
Korena scowled at him but it had little venom in it. Her head disappeared as she no doubt moved on to hustle Benny along. Jake heard her mutter, “It’s like raising two children!”
Jake smiled to himself as he started to go about getting ready. He was soon out of bed and entering the modest dining area of their home. At the table sat his son and only child.
“Hi, Benny. Ready?” Jake asked leaning down to plant a kiss on his son’s head.
“Yeah,” managed his son as he slurped down his food. “I’ve been practicing really hard and I think I’ll win.”
Jake ruffled up his son’s hair. It was the athletics day at his school today and Benny had set his mind towards winning one of the middle distance races. “That’s the spirit!”
There was the sound of someone clearing their throat and Jake’s head turned to see Korena giving him a stern look.
“I mean, winning isn’t everything,” stated Jake. “As long as you do the best you can, have fun and play in the right spirit it doesn’t matter what the result is because we’ll be proud of you. You should feel proud of you too.”
Jake made his way to his wife. “Better?” he whispered.
“A lot better.”
Jake kissed Korena on the cheek. They had been married for twelve years now, but he felt the same way he did when he first set eyes on her. She passed him a hot cup of coffee and he stole a piece of toast from her plate before going back to the table.
Benny was currently doing his best to clean his cereal bowl with his tongue. Benny was named after Jake’s father, Benjamin Sisko, though no one really called him by his full name. Jake had been reluctant to name his son after his father, purely because of the high esteem the Bajorans held his father in, even after over a decade since their Emissary had “joined the Prophets”, as they liked to say. In the end Korena had talked sense into him and that if he wanted to name their son Benjamin he should do it and ignore what outsiders said or thought. It was their family and life and no one else’s business.
“Done!” proclaimed Benny dropping his bowl on the table so that rocked and spun. He jumped up and ran off to his room to continue to get ready. Jake looked at his lovely wife as she cleaned up after Benny. “Have I told you I love you?” he asked.
Korena smiled. “Not today.”
Jake reached out and grabbed his wife, pulling her towards him. Korena let out a squeal as she stumbled onto Jake’s lap. Jake stared into his wife’s eyes and leaned in kissing her lips.
Korena broke their kiss and asked, “Finished?”
“Is that all I get for my romantic gesture?” asked Jake sounding insulted.
“It is when I’m busy.”
“Don’t worry about this, I’ll do it later,” said Jake waving his hand dismissively at the dishes on the table.
“Really?” said Korena with disbelief. “I find that hard to believe. You’re nearly as messy as our son. I almost spend as much time cleaning up after you as I do him.”
Jake just smiled. It was true; he was not the neatest person in the galaxy. He could leave a path of destruction in his wake that would make it look like a storm had hit, especially when he was busy working. Thankfully it was not as bad as he was when he was a teenager. If he were he would have driven Korena insane by now. She was naturally cleaner and more organised than he was or would ever be.
“Seriously, I need to go check on Benny,” said Korena lightly batting him to get him to let her up.
Jake reluctantly let her go. Korena went to clear up but Jake waved her off insisting that he would deal with it.
“Oh, there’s a message for you,” said Korena before she hurried off calling out for their son.
Jake cleaned up the table and went to the house’s main communication screen. It was already switched on and a list of information flowed across the screen. It was a mix of weather, news, and reminders from their schedule. Jake selected the communication function and opened up the stored message that was addressed to him.
On the screen an older Bajoran man appeared. Jake immediately recognised him as Ranjen Solbor, the Kai’s chief assistant.
“I bid you greetings and good tidings from the Kai,” started Solbor. “The Kai would like to invite you and your family as her personal guests to attend the Orb ceremony during the upcoming Festival of Tears.” Jake raised his hand to his forehead and massaged it. He knew that this was coming, he tried to forget about it but it seemed that no one else wanted him to. “If you wish to attend, and it would surely raise the spirits of the people to have you there, simple contact me and I will arrange everything. May the Prophet’s walk with you, Jake Sisko.”
The message disappeared, replaced by the symbol of the office of the Kai briefly before it returned to the main message selection screen.
“Do I even need to ask?”
Jake turned to see Korena standing behind him. “About?”
“You know what I mean,” she said gesturing to the screen. “It’s nearly the Festival of Tears and the dreams have come back, haven’t they.”
Korena let out a sigh. “I was hoping that last year would be the last...are they the same?”
“Are you still hearing your father call your name?”
Jake nodded. His dreams had not always been like this. As the years went by they seemed to grow, with the newest addition in the past few years the “summons” from his father. “Yes, always after the whispers and right before I awake up.”
“Jake, you know what the counsellor said,” said Korena, her voice a mix of soothing and concerned.
Jake remembered well what the counsellor had told him. The dreams had started after Korena became pregnant, but it wasn’t until a few years later that he had seen someone about them. They diagnosed that his issues regarding the loss of his father were brought to the fore by his impending fatherhood. They also said the dream would go away as he settled into the role of a parent. However, they had not and in fact had done the opposite.
“Do you think I want to have these dreams?”
“No, no.” Korena paused as the heavy footfalls of their son approached. “Look, we can talk about this later. I have to go.”
Korena gave him a kiss on the cheek before she went and herded Benny to the door. Jake wished his son a good day as Korena took him off to school. Jake watched as they left. Benny was starting to get towards that age where he’d not want them to go with him to school any more. He would make sure that he would take his son in with his mom or by himself tomorrow. Jake knew that these moments were precious and that the future was uncertain. To let them just slip by would be a mistake. If there was something Jake had enough in his life already it was regret.
Jake knew he was dreaming yet that did not quench his fear. He was surrounded by such an infinite and consuming whiteness that he could not truly comprehend.
“HELLO!” he yelled. “IS ANYONE HERE?”
As soon as he asked that he regretted it. First it came as a buzzing of an insect and it grew louder. Whispers. Unintelligible, bone-numbing whispers. He spun around but could see no other beings yet the sound continued to increase. It was coming from nowhere yet everywhere. Fear gripped him and launched his feet forward in a sprint away, yet towards the voices. He huffed and puffed until he tripped over something, himself or nothing he did not know. He crashed to the white floor.
The voices suddenly seemed to advance on him as if they were just above him. He curled himself into a ball, his voice, pitifully small, mumbling for a reprieve. The voices grew louder until they were deafening before unexpectedly becoming silent and single word suddenly followed.
Jake’s head jerked upwards towards the voice. Before him stood his father, Benjamin Sisko, as he remembered him. Tall and proud in his Starfleet uniform. His father looked down at him, his face steely hard.
Jake’s father turned and walked towards a floating ark, much like those that contained the Bajoran orbs. His father grasped it and before he opened it he turned back to Jake.
“Jake,” came out his name from his father’s mouth, yet it seemed impossibly distant and omnidirectional. His father turned back to the ark and opened it. The greenish light of an orb radiated out and basked his father in its glow.
Jake got back to his feet.
“Dad!” he called. “Dad, can you hear me!”
Jake’s father did not respond. Jake went over to his father and grasped him to pull him from the orb but he was stopped as soon as his hands touched his father. From the corner of Jake’s eye he caught a glimpse of the orb and as if mesmerised his head turned to stare deep into its mysterious beauty. The light started to intensify and Jake wanted to turn his head but he could not. The light blinded him to all else and flowed through him as a presence, as if it was drawing him into it.
Before Jake felt like the light had completely taken him a haunting word whispered into his ear carried by the voice of his long absent father.
Jake woke with a start. “Dad!” he called out involuntarily.
Jake’s head thrashed about as he tried to make sense of the darkness he suddenly found himself in.
“Jake! Jake! It’s okay! Calm down,” came the soothing voice of his wife.
A warm hand snaked its way to his chest and over his thundering heart. Jake clasped his hand over Korena’s and tried to settle himself down. Light filled the room as Korena turned on a lamp next to their bed.
“Was it the dreams?”
“Yes,” he said breathlessly.
“I haven’t seen your react like this since when the whispers first started. What happened?”
Jake turned to his wife. “I saw him. I saw my father.”
Jake felt tears run down his cheek. Korena leaned in and hugged him, her warm body a comforting reassurance.
“What was he doing?”
“He just appeared...in front of me. Then he opened an ark holding an orb and it held him. It entranced him so he couldn’t hear me. When I went to pull him away I looked at the orb and it...got me to.”
“Did you see anything?”
“No, just...light. It held me and I couldn’t look away. It was like the orb and I were becoming one.”
“That sounds a bit like an orb experience, just without any experience. Maybe the dream was trying to tell you something.”
“What, like don’t look into orbs?” he said jokingly.
“No, the opposite. Maybe your mind is telling you that it’s time to attend the Festival of Tears.”
“I already told –”
Korena quickly interrupted him. “Yes, I know we’ve gone over this and that you weren’t going to attend. But maybe this is what you need. You’re father has been gone for a long time. Maybe this will help you finally let go and give you a chance to put some of your demons to rest.”
“I don’t know.”
“Jake, where else will you get a chance to look upon a glowing orb?” pushed Korena.
Jake sat silently in thought before he spoke, “I nearly made it twenty years without attending it.”
“Well, maybe then it’s time you did. I know you’ve never really been into my people’s religion or were fond of your father’s role in it. However, if a few hours of discomfort can help you move past this...then I think you should do it.”
He lifted Korena’s hand from his chest and brought it to his lips. He delicately kissed her hand; he knew that she was right. “I’d be lost without you,” he whispered.
Korena’s other hand came up and stroked his face. “And my life wouldn’t be complete without you. If you want I’ll contact the Kai’s office and tell her we’ll be attending the festival. Now, let’s try and get some sleep tonight.”
Jake gave his wife an appreciative smile. Even after nearly two decades on Bajor he still felt uneasy when dealing with any official in the Bajoran religious system due to his status as the son of the Emissary. His father had accepted his role in Bajoran spirituality, but it was not something Jake wanted to be part of.
Korena smiled back before she turned off the light. She shuffled up close to him and wrapped herself around him, her head resting on his chest. The touch of her body comforted Jake but sleep eluded him. His mind was consumed with thought of the upcoming Festival of Tears and the anniversary of his father’s death.
Chapter 3: The Festival of Tears
Jake nervously wrung his hands as he and his family waited in the beautifully adorned waiting room. They had been left there to await the Kai for a private audience prior to the start of the official ceremony that would mark the beginning of the Festival of Tears.
“Now, you be on your best behaviour or I’ll send you to be a prylar and prylars don’t get any toys,” threatened Korena, not that there was any need. Benny was a well behaved boy and was smart enough to understand the nature of the situation.
“Alright, mum,” said Benny. “Is dad okay?”
He was also smart enough to tell how his parents were feeling about what was about to happen.
“Yes, he’s just nervous. It’s normal when you’re about to meet someone very important.”
“I’m not nervous,” said Benny.
“That’s because you’re braver than me, slugger,” said Jake with a smile. Benny smiled back proudly.
A chime rang through the room. Jake glanced at his wife and she gave him a supportive nod as they got to their feet. The door opened and a ranjen stepped into the room and moved to the side. In behind him came the Kai of Bajor. As the Kai approached they bowed their heads.
“Your Eminence,” said Jake. “We’re honoured that you have granted us this audience.”
A hand stretched out into Jake’s downcast view. He reached forward and took hold of the hand, another one quickly wrapped softly around his. He looked up at the smiling visage of Kai Winn Adami.
“My child, it is so good to see you after so long. I cannot begin to express how much my spirit soars having you being here for this,” said Winn with genuine joy.
It had been nine years since Jake had last seen Winn in person. Of course he had seen many images of her over the years, she was the Kai, the spiritual leader of Bajor after all. It had been difficult to replace the images of her in his mind from back when he lived on Deep Space 9. She had changed from the ambitious and self-serving woman of his youth into a much wiser and fairer leader. Despite that the image of her back then did come to his mind.
Up close he could see that she was much older than that image. Her face was well lined with the signs of age and her once golden hair had long since turned white. Despite the sign of the passage of time Winn did not look old and frail. She still appeared vibrant and alive in her position.
“Thank you, your Eminence.”
“Now there is no need for such formalities between us when we’re in private, Jake.”
Jake guessed she was right. Despite Jake’s reluctance to be involved in the religious side of Bajoran life Winn had kept in touch with him and even assisted him along the way. She had helped him with employment when he moved to Bajor and with getting his home built several years later. She had even respected his wishes for a simple marriage ceremony with his wife, though she insisted on performing the ceremony. She also blessed Benny after he was born, which had been of great importance to Korena. As while he had little interest in religion, Korena was a devote follower of the Prophets. She even did little things like sending gifts and messages on special occasions. The most important thing she ended up doing was that she granted Jake and his family the privacy he wanted from other religious and political figures.
At first Jake had thought it was all purely for ulterior motives and had been wary of accepting help from Winn at first. After the death of his father he suspected that she might be looking for a way to exploit him as the son of the Emissary, especially after she started the Festival of Tears. Winn had personally requested he take part in the festival for a number of years, but he always declined. Eventually she let her staff take over the annual invitation to the event. However, as the years went by and Winn’s position was never in threat she still continued to offer him her help. Jake came to realise that he might have judged Winn too harshly and that she had changed. Whether from simply aging or by the situation he couldn’t deny that fact. A lot had happened since the days on Deep Space 9 when Jake accused her of been involved in kidnapping a man from the station.
“Of course...Adami. It’s just I haven’t been to a formal ceremony of any kind for years. It’s easy to get caught up in the formality and structure of these events.”
“I can easily understand that.” Winn turned to his wife. “It is good to see you too, Korena.” Korena bowed her head and thanked Winn, though she maintain the formalities. “And this must be little Benjamin, though not so little anymore.”
“Are you really the Kai?” asked Benny.
“Benny!” said Korena mortified.
Winn just smiled at the young boy. “Yes, I am. We’ve met before, but you were but a baby.”
“Can you read my pagh?” Benny asked excitedly.
“I’m sorry, Kai. You don’t have to –”
Winn waved Korena’s concerns away. “Of course.” Winn bent down and grasped Benny’s ear and closed her eyes. A few seconds later she released Benny’s ear and said, “Your pagh is very strong, just like your father’s and your grandfather’s.”
“He was the Emissary, my grandpa,” stated Benny proudly.
“I know. I had the privilege of knowing him personally. He was a great man and all of Bajor still mourns his loss.”
“That’s why we have this festival,” explained Benny. “To celebrate my grandpa’s dying and joining the Prophets.”
“And more importantly to celebrate his life and all that he did for Bajor in his service to the Prophets,” added Winn. She stood back up straight and addressed them all, “Now, I’d like to have a quick word with Jake over how the ceremony will go and his role in it. If you want anything, like a drink, Solbor will look after you.”
Winn’s long-time assistant nodded his head towards Korena and Benny. He stepped forward and offered them refreshments as Winn and Jake walked away. Winn explained to him what they had planned for the ceremony as they wandered through the corridors without an apparent destination. Jake was not surprised by what Winn told him, he had been expecting this kind of involvement in the ceremony.
Once Winn had finished explaining the ceremony she said, “I must say Jake that I was surprised when you accepted my offer. I always hope you do each year, but I must admit my...faith in you was dropping in that regard. What changed your mind after all this time?”
“It’s hard to explain,” he replied. Winn continued to look expectantly at him and he realised that he was not going to deflect her that easily. “I guess I just had this...feeling that I had to attend tonight. That probably sounds kind of silly.”
Winn smiled wryly. “Jake, I’m the Kai. Feelings and omens are my bread and butter.”
Jake chuckled. “I guess they are.”
“Well, whether you being here is providence or not I am truly glad you are.”
Another ranjen appeared and came up to Winn and whispered in her ear.
“I’m sorry, Jake. I have to go and deal with something. Do you know your way back to the waiting room?”
Jake indicated he did and Winn and the ranjen disappeared off in the opposite direction. Jake wandered back towards the waiting room. His mind was buzzing. Despite his suspicions and expectations of what tonight would be, knowing for sure did not put him any more at ease than he had been before. If anything he was more nervous now.
“My, my, if it isn’t Mr Sisko.”
The voice was unmistakable, but Jake did not believe it until he turned around and saw the speaker.
The widely smiling Vorta came up to him and clasped his shoulders. Even after all the years Weyoun did not look much different from when Jake last saw him. Jake was not sure whether that meant Weyoun had received a new clone or if Vorta did not age as humans or Bajorans did.
“After all this time...I’m touched you remember me Jake. We haven’t seen each other since your last visited Earth seventeen years ago – for your grandfather’s funeral.”
The mention of his grandfather made Jake tense up. “No, we haven’t.”
“Such sad times back then,” said Weyoun sounding ever so remorseful. “The emotions of the end of the Unification War were still high. I do regret that I did not do more to prevent what happened to your grandfather, but the past is the past. This is a much more happy event.” Weyoun quickly and effortlessly switched tracks from sorrow to upbeat.
“The anniversary of my father’s death?” said Jake tersely.
“Oh, Jake,” said Weyoun apologetically. “I never meant to suggest that the death of your father brought me any type of joy. We may have been on opposite sides of a war, but I had nothing but the utmost respect for him. Captain Sisko was a formidable tactician and strategist in all aspects of his duty and he was a great man to his friends, family and to the Bajorans. To this day I wish we could have done something to prevent what happened. If only we could have disabled his ship or grabbed it in a tractor beam, maybe things might have been different. But the past –”
“Is the past,” finished Jake.
“Exactly. I’m so glad we got to catch up Jake. Maybe in the next few days while I’m at the station you could visit me on Gateway. We could catch up. Reminisce about old times and friends.”
“Weyoun, you...” Jake bit his tongue quickly. Instead of telling Weyoun what he thought of him Jake mustered up the best smile he could and said, “I’ll see if I can fit it into my schedule.”
“Of course. It is presumptuous of me to think that you would have the time to waste away in such a fashion. You have a family and career; chatting with old acquaintances is a luxury. Anyway, I’ll see you during the ceremony, Jake.”
Weyoun wandered away. Once he was out of sight Jake shivered. He could not help but feel dirty in not only talking to Weyoun but being in his presence. Jake headed back to the waiting room with another reason why he would never again visit Gateway Station or as it was formerly known: Deep Space 9.
“My fellow Bajorans, I am honoured to again stand before you on this –”
Jake watched as Kai Winn spoke from the main lectern. She had a confidence and ease about her of someone who was well versed and comfortable in her place in things. Jake had never believed that Winn would be kai for so long given the woman she was when she first took the position. However, she had served Bajor well in the end and had guided it through some of the darkest times in its history and through a crisis that was almost completely spiritual.
Bajor had faced a major crisis following the death of his father. The fact that the Emissary to the Prophets had been killed sent shockwaves through the entire population. Not that he was their first spiritual leader to pass, just a few years earlier Kai Opaka, a much loved and respected kai who had helped shepherd her people through the Cardassian occupation, moved on, which led to Winn being elected to the position of kai. However, his father was different. He was an emissary, chosen by the Prophets themselves not by other Bajorans, be they vedeks or not. At first many refused to believe the reports of the Emissary’s death, other believed he would simple exit the Celestial Temple and rejoin them to continue to guide them. But he did not and the inevitable questions came about what this meant and if it was a sign from the Prophets.
At the same time an equally devastating incident occurred as every single orb went dark. Reports stated that their lights dimmed to nothing at the same time as his father died inside the wormhole in a futile attempt to prevent the Dominion reinforcements from flooding into the Alpha Quadrant. It was impossible for the Bajorans not to tie these two events together.
However, at first the general population did not know that along with the death of their Emissary that the orbs had been snuffed out with him. Winn had quickly moved in to conceal this fact, but something of this magnitude was never going to remain a secret for long. Once news spread there was widespread panic and unrest across all of Bajor.
It was during this time that Winn truly surprised Jake. She managed to calm the planet and its populous. Her words, will and most of all her faith brought sanity back to Bajor. In the dark and uneasy years that followed she had held Bajor together. While Jake did not agree with everything she had done during that time he found it hard to imagine Bajor making it through those years without Kai Winn.
They were in the Grand Temple of Ashalla, the largest of the many temples located in Bajor’s capital city of Ashalla. Jake made an effort to avoid visiting Ashalla, not because it was not a nice city, it was in many regards spectacular. It was simply the number of people. He preferred to stay in the small rural region he lived in where he could have privacy from the galaxy.
He and his family were seated to the sides of the main lectern that Winn was speaking from, with other distinguished guests; high ranking vedeks, political leaders and even Weyoun, who was thankfully seated on the opposite side to Jake. Before them the temple was packed with tens of thousands of people. Jake knew even more were outside watching the ceremony on giant screens. In fact the entire planet was watching what happened here, such was the significance of the ceremony.
Jake realised Winn had stopped speaking and that she was gesturing him to step forward. Jake took a deep breath and stood up. It was time for him to do his part.
“It is our great privilege to have the son of the Emissary be with us tonight. Tonight we commemorate twenty years since the day the Emissary joined the Prophets and we mourn the loss of a great man who was touched by the Prophet. However, we should never forget that our grief cannot compare to that of a child who has lost their parents prematurely. So to honour him and his father, our Emissary, I welcome Jake Sisko to open the first ark.”
Jake stepped forward and a prylar led him to the arks that held the orbs. This was the greatest honour of the ceremony. The orbs were always dark, but for a short period starting from around the anniversary of when they first went dark. It was three years after his father’s death that the monks looking after the orbs first noticed it and two more years until they felt sure that it was repeating. The Bajorans had then organised it into a ceremony and festival that took an anniversary that was a sad reminder of the past and turned it into one of hope and optimism for the future. So was born the Festival of Tears.
No one truly knew why the orbs behaved this way. Scientists had detected slightly different reading from within the wormhole that coincided with the festival, but as to how the orbs actually worked in relation to this was a mystery. All they knew that was with each year the period of these new readings was longer, which translated into a longer active time for the orbs.
All nine arks were arrayed in a semi-circle on a lower landing in front of Winn. Not long after the end of the war the Dominion returned the remaining orbs in Cardassian hands to the Bajorans. It was a gift to celebrate Bajor’s admittance into the Dominion.
Jake could still remember when he heard that Winn was negotiating with the Dominion concerning Bajor joining them. It was not long after the Dominion declared victory in the Unification War over the Federation and Klingons. To say he was disgusted and angry would have been an understatement. He thought Winn was betraying the memory of his father by handing Bajor to the Dominion when his father had died to prevent the Dominion from taking the entire quadrant. With time he had grown to see that Winn and the Bajoran government had made a smart move. They had gone to the Dominion instead of waiting for the inevitable day when the Dominion came with their ultimatum. Winn not only won back the orbs that the Cardassians stole, but had seen to it that the Dominion agreed to not station any of its military forces on the planet. This move would also see the eventual return of Deep Space 9, or Terok Nor as it was called at the time, to Bajoran control.
The prylar gestured for Jake to step in front of the orb that was at the top of the semi-circle and then stepped back out of the arrangement leaving Jake alone amongst the arks. This next part was pure theatre. Jake reached out and opened the ark’s doors. Inside he saw the dark crystal like orb. He simply stared at it and waited. He was no sure how long it usually took but each second seemed like a lifetime. He could feel the entire crowd get more nervous and hushed whispers circulated the temple as he stood there waiting.
From deep within the orb Jake spotted a kernel of light. It slowly grew and spread throughout the orb. The orb started to get brighter and brighter. Jake felt the light wrap around him and flow through him. He had never felt anything like it before. It was incredible.
He stared at the mysteriously beautiful light, transfixed by its glow. The light continued to brighten and he was vaguely aware of the prylars opening the other eight arks around him. The other orbs added their glow to the first as the light of all nine orbs was trained on a single spot, him. The orbs’ light truly encapsulated him and consumed him in there majestic warmth. The light was getting to the point of almost blinding, but Jake did not look away.
From nowhere two words materialised, “Jake. See.”
Chapter 4: Visions and Prophecy
There was a brilliant flash and Jake found himself surrounded by an infinite whiteness that he could not truly comprehend.
“What’s going on?” he said out loud.
Jake’s head spun around and fear filled his soul as he realised he was alone.
“HELLO!” he yelled. “IS ANYONE HERE?”
There was another flash and Jake found himself on the bridge of a starship. One that was eerily familiar, but bathed in an unnatural light.
“You have come. It is as he foretold.”
Jake nearly jumped out of his skin and spun around. His jaw nearly hit the floor as he saw who had spoken. “Nog? Is that you?”
Seated at one of the duty stations along the side of the bridge was a diminutive Ferengi in Starfleet uniform. Nog looked exactly as Jake remembered him, as if time had not touched him at all.
“The son of the Sisko has responded to the call.”
Jake turned his head to the new voice and if his jaw could drop any further it would have. “Dax? What’s going on?” he asked the Trill officer seated at the helm station. Jadzia looked as beautiful as he remembered her to be.
“The son of the Sisko has accepted the task.”
Miles O’Brien had joined them on the bridge. Jake’s head was in a spin as he realised where he was. It was the bridge of the Defiant. He did not know what was happening but this was impossible. The ship was as dead as the people that surrounded him now.
“What’s going on? Why are you calling me that?”
“It is time for Bajor to move beyond,” said the soft tones of Julian Bashir as he walked from behind him into view.
“Beyond what? I don’t know what’s going on!” cried Jake, his tone pleading for an explanation from the spectres that surrounded him.
“It is a task that must be done,” repeated Nog.
Nog pointed behind him and Jake turned. Suddenly before him was the mouth of a cave. He spun around. Gone was the haunted bridge of the Defiant and now he was on a planet he knew was Bajor. With no other option he cautiously approached the cave and stepped into it. Deep within Jake spotted a distant light and made his way towards it. He was guided by the light through the caverns and he wondered if he would forever be chasing the phantom light under the surface. He finally came to an alcove and a dead end.
Before him was a man seated on the floor. In front of the man was a single candle, the only source of light in the room. The man and candle were both before a strange stone tablet within the far wall.
“Hello?” said Jake seeking the man’s attention. “I think I’m meant to find you.”
The man slowly stood, picking up the candle as he does. Slowly the man turned to face Jake.
“Dad!” exclaimed Jake.
He goes to step forward but his father speaks, his voice holding him in his place. “It is time for Bajor to be reborn.”
“Dad, it’s me, Jake!”
Jake’s father just stared impassively at him and continued, “The son of Sisko must bring about the Reckoning or be lost in the dark forever.”
The candle’s flame suddenly extinguished and darkness folded itself over Jake, crushing him.
Jake gasped as he found himself back in the field of white, alone. His eyes welled up and tears started to run down his cheeks. Jake was questioning his sanity after what he had just seen. To see his father looking exactly as he remembered him left him in a whirlpool of emotion. No longer able to contain his confusion, fear, sorrow, Jake fell to his knees openly weeping.
“Jake,” sounded his father’s voice.
“Go away,” responded Jake through his sobs.
“Jake, I need you to listen to me.”
“Leave me alone. I don’t know or care what you are, just leave me alone.”
A hand came and rested on his shoulder and from behind him his “father” walked and knelt before him.
“It’s me Jake-o.” Jake looked into the face of his “father” and saw him smiling widely. “It’s really me. Jake, I have something very important that I need you to do.”
Jake pushed himself back to his feet and stepped back from his kneeling “father”. “You need something? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? WHERE AM I? WHO ARE YOU?” he shouted angrily.
His “father” frowned as he got back to his feet. “Jake, we don’t have time –”
“We don’t have time!” Jake laughed incredulously. “You can’t just appear and say, ‘hey I’m back. I need a favour, son’! My father died fighting the Dominion. You’re just a phantom, a mimic.”
“Jake, it’s me.”
“How do I know you’re not a hallucination or a Prophet or some other fanciful entity?”
His “father” reached out and placed his hand on Jake’s chest and said, “Because in here you can feel it...I am your father.”
Jake stared into his “father’s” eyes and in them saw all that was his father. Brave, strong, caring, loving and honest. In a place deep inside Jake knew that this man was his father. Tears flowed down his cheeks again and he wrapped his hand around his father’s on his chest. “Dad...after twenty years, you’ve come back.”
His father squeezed Jake’s hand and that smile that had soothed him so often as a boy returned to his father’s face.
“Twenty years,” repeated his father, surprise in his voice.
“You’re surprised?” asked Jake gesturing to his face as a sign of the passing of time.
“Where I am now, time is meaningless.”
Jake was about to scoff at that idea when it suddenly dawned on him. “The wormhole. You’re in the wormhole.”
His father nodded. “When you said I ‘died’, in a sense you were right. I shed my corporeal existence. But my essence, my spirit was saved by the Prophets.”
“Then before when I saw Nog, Dax and the others; are they with you?”
Sisko mournfully shook his head. “No, they...died. Or at least they passed to a realm beyond or different from this. I don’t know for sure and the Prophets...are less than forthcoming in their opinion. What you saw were Prophets in the form of those you knew.”
“So you, that other you in the cave was not you, but a Prophet?”
“Yes. That was a Prophet taking my form to communicate with you.”
“Why didn’t you contact me before this?”
“I couldn’t. My attempt to stop the Dominion cut the Prophet’s off from the outside galaxy. It didn’t harm them but when they saved me I was just as trapped as they were. The Prophets have been working on reconnecting with their orbs. It has been stop-start, but the connection is strengthening.”
“So that’s what’s causing the orb to start to function on the anniversary of your death, so to speak.”
“My death anniversary,” repeated his father with a grin. “Now, I doubt the Prophets have done that by coincidence.”
“My dreams. I saw you in my dreams. That was you reaching out to me.”
His father nodded. “Jake, I wish I could spend forever talking to you but we don’t have much time. You have a task that is of grave consequence to the Bajoran people. You must bring about the Reckoning”
“You...the Prophet said something about a Reckoning as well. What is it?”
“All I can do is tell you the answers you seek are in the caves of B’hala. You must remember how you found me...the other me. You must go to B’hala and you must find the tablet. That is all I can tell you.”
“Why? Why can’t you tell me more?”
“Jake, my sweet grown boy. Promise me you will do this. I wish I could do this task in your stead, but it’s impossible. You are our only hope...Bajor’s only hope.”
“But dad –” Jake was interrupted by a wisp of green light like a breeze suddenly fluttered around them before disappearing as suddenly as it appeared.
“Already?” exclaimed his father looking off into the whiteness. “I’m sorry, Jake. You must go. Remember the path! Only you can begin what must be done. Only you can see the Prophet’s final task complete. Promise me!”
The green winds descended on Jake and surrounded him. As suddenly as it began it ended and he was back on Bajor staring at an orb in an ark. Jake suddenly felt drained, his legs turning to jelly as he stumbled backwards. A pair of hands grabbed him, steadying him. Jake turned to see the prylar who led him to the orb holding him up.
“What? How long was I gone?” he asked.
“You did not leave, son of the Emissary,” said the prylar.
“How long was I with the orb?”
“Once it lit up, only a few seconds before the other prylar turned the other eight to face the crowd.”
Time is meaningless here, rang the words of his father in his mind.
“I think I had some sort of vision,” he said. “An orb experience,” he clarified.
“The Kai is who you should discuss such matters with. I will help you to your seat.”
The prylar helped him to his seat and he sat down feeling exhausted; mentally, physically and emotionally.
“Are you alright, Jake?” asked Korena the concern on her face and in her voice.
He smiled reassuringly to her. “Yes, the bright lights had me dazed. I needed a bit of help finding my way back to my chair.”
His wife accepted his explanation and they turned their attention back to the ceremony. All the orbs were now facing the crowd, bathing them in their serene light. Kai Winn offered prayers and blessings as the entire crowd sat in reverence before the power of the orbs.
Jake watched, his attention was not focused on the ceremony, but on what he had experienced. His father had told him of his encounters in the wormhole and with the orbs, but mere words could not do justice to what Jake had experienced. It was a powerfully moving, yet wholly terrifying ordeal and from it he gained one major insight – he had been set a path to follow, one of grave importance. The question now was did he have the will to follow it out to its conclusion.
The ceremony was quite lengthy and it was some time before it was finally over. After it the special guests gathered together in a post-ceremony social event. Korena and Benny had stayed for part of it, but as it got late they went home, leaving Jake as he waited to speak to the Kai. It was very late by the time she was free enough to meet with him privately.
“Did you have a vision my child?” asked Winn immediately.
“Did the prylar tell you?” he asked.
Winn smiled. “I’ve been kai for nearly twenty-five years, Jake. I can tell when someone has had an orb experience.” Winn gestured for him to sit next to her.
“I...I’m not sure what to make of it,” he confessed.
“All will become clear in time, my child.”
“I saw my father, Adami.”
He expected to see surprise on her face, but none came. “The Prophets often take the form of those we know when they communicate with us.”
“No,” Jake immediately dismissing what she said. “This was actually my father. He’s with the Prophets.”
“That I have never doubted Jake.”
“You knew my father was in the wormhole?” accused Jake angrily.
“Most Bajorans believe that when they die they will join the Prophets in the Celestial Temple,” replied Winn not at all fazed by Jake’s sudden anger directed at her. “Your father was not Bajoran but he was touched by the Prophets none-the-less. When we say he has joined the Prophets we do mean it literally.”
“I’m sorry, Adami,” apologised Jake. “I...I’m still confused by the whole experience. I mean, I know I was only with the orb for a few seconds but my vision lasted what felt like minutes.”
“Such are the wonders and mysteries of the Tears of the Prophets.”
“Surely in all your time as a member of the Bajoran religious order you’d have had many orb experiences. I must seem like a bit of a child, a fool, to be so perplexed by them.”
“It may surprise you to learn that I have had only one orb experience in my entire life.”
That did indeed surprise Jake. “Really? Only one. I thought people like you would be flush with vision experiences.”
“The Prophets only show us what we need to know and when we need it most.”
Cautiously so not to offend Jake asked, “Can I ask what your vision was?”
“It was about you, Jake,” said Winn reaching over and patting him on the knee. “The Prophets told me that to scorn you because of my...misgivings surrounding your father was wrong. That much like your father, you will have a role to play in the future of the Bajoran people. That is why I have always tried to engage you in Bajor’s spirituality.”
Jake let this revelation sink in before he replied, “I use to think it was a political move to use me to strengthen your status.”
Winn’s eye glanced away from Jake. “At first...yes, much of my help to after your father died was coloured by my own selfishness and fear of you taking your father’s place. My entire reign up to then as kai had been a shared position with your father as the Prophets’ head representative and to ‘rule’ alone was everything I had wanted. It’s why I asked you to the first Festival of Tears.” There was a genuine, but brief flash of shame that came to Winn’s face as she made that admission. “However, the Prophets had other ideas and at that festival they spoke to me for the first time in my life. They told me of your importance and that for the good of Bajor I had to put aside my selfishness. It was no easy task, but I like to think that I have done so. That I have done the Prophets’ will over these last few decades.”
Jake found it hard not to agree. He had not considered Winn the kai Bajor needed or deserved when he was younger, but she had proved him and probably a good number of others wrong. Her devotion to the Prophets and her people was unquestionable.
“Well, it looks like the vision they gave you is coming to pass,” Jake stated.
Winn did not look surprised at all. She instead seemed assured as if this is just what she had expected would happen. “Did the Prophets tell you that you have a task that must be completed, my child?”
“Yes. They mentioned a ‘reckoning’, does that ring any bells?” Winn shook her head. “Well, my d...” Jake quickly cut himself off. “They told me that the answers I need are in the cave under the ruins of B’hala.”
“That area has been closed for twenty years.”
“I know, but I also know that from time to time the Vedek Assembly allows surveys to be done down there. I need to get down there as soon as possible.
“You would like me to make it possible,” said Winn, getting to the core of why Jake had waited to speak to her.
“I don’t want to put you in an uncomfortable position with the Assembly, but –”
“It is something you must do. Consider it done,” stated Winn with a reassuring smile. “I will contact you with the arrangements as soon as I can.”
Jake had not expected this to go so easily, but he was thankful it did. There was really only one think left to say. “Thank you, Adami.”
Winn just smiled. “There is no need to thank me, Jake. I am just doing the Prophets’ will. As we all are.”
Chapter 5: The Caverns of B'hala
Kai Winn worked quickly and two days later Jake was arriving at the main entrance to the caverns that led to the buried ancient city of B’hala. Waiting for him was a single female prylar sitting on a flat boulder near the entrance. As Jake approached the prylar stood.
“The son of the Emissary, I am honoured to meet you,” said the woman as she bowed gracefully.
“Jake is fine, prylar.”
“Since my order is also quite informal I don’t see why you can’t just call me Vari, if we’re going to be doing away with ego boosting titles,” said Vari with a smile.
Jake couldn’t help but smile back at the shorter woman. She had a very relaxed manner about her, which Jake appreciated. Those in religious orders could be formal to a fault and it could get a bit grating.
“So, I’m told you want to go to the lower levels under the city itself.”
Jake paused before he answered, “Ah...I don’t know.”
Jake was prepared for a scowl or at least a sigh but Vari didn’t seem flustered by his lack of anything even remotely resembling a plan. “So it’s just wandering around aimlessly. That could be interesting.”
“Well, I hope it isn’t aimless.”
Vari raised an eyebrow. “So you do have an idea where we’re going.”
“Yes...no...it’s hard to explain.”
“Let me guess; we’ll be following cryptic clues from your orb experience during the ceremony for the Festival of Tears.”
“You know about that?” said Jake surprised.
“Well, guessed. Unsurprisingly those of the faith were watching closely and while it wouldn’t have been obvious to most what was seen did create quite a bit of buzz in our community. I do have to warn you that no one has been down in the lower levels in twenty years. They were among the last areas opened up before all worked stopped due to the spiritual crisis that arose from the death of your father and the orbs going dark. It is possible not all the proper reinforcements of the tunnels were completed and these caverns might have caved in over time.”
It was a potent symbol that the most important historical, cultural and archaeological finds of Bajoran history had been so completely abandoned after the death of his father. Jake could not blame the Bajorans in losing interest in the past when the present seemed to be crumbling around them at the time.
“Have you been in the tunnels before?” he asked.
“I have gone as far as the city of B’hala. A few years ago the Vedek Assembly wanted us to check the B’hala ruins hadn’t just vanished as well. In all likelihood the most recent visitors into these tunnels and those with the most up-to-date knowledge of what is down there are probably criminals who were trying to escape the law. Do you still want to venture into the dark abyss?”
Jake took a deep breath. “I have to.”
That was good enough for Vari. She fished out a torch from the satchel she was carrying and passed it to him. “Well, down we go.”
At first Jake followed Vari and directed her where to go. After a while he took the lead as he followed the path from his vision as it snaked its way through the tunnels. Vari questioned some of his direction decisions as being less efficient, but they found that his path avoided collapsed and damaged tunnels and she soon stopped questioning his path.
They were deep under the surface when Vari said, “I’m sorry, Jake, but can we just rest for a moment.”
“Okay,” he said suddenly aware of how tired and sweaty he was.
They sat down and Jake pulled out his water pack and took a sip.
“I obviously need to add more exercise to my routine,” said Vari.
“That’s partly my fault,” apologised Jake. “I was caught up in tracing the path that I was rushing it.”
The two sat in silence with only their heavy breathing making any sound in their dim confines.
“There was a time when I would’ve had a panic attack just knowing I might have to go underground,” said Vari breaking the silence.
“You had a phobia?” Jake asked.
“In a way. I was trapped in a cave-in while studying an extinct civilisation on another planet a long time ago. It left a few scars that were more than just physical.”
“What were you doing studying extinct civilisations on other planets?”
“Well, before I was a member of the Bajoran religious order I was a Starfleet science officer.”
Jake gave Vari a surprised look. “You were in Starfleet?” he said, the word sounding almost foreign given the years it had been since he had heard it out loud.
“Is it that surprising? Actually don’t answer that, I’m not sure if my ego can take it,” joked Vari.”
“Did you fight in the Unification War?”
“I took part in the Dominion War, yes,” said Vari, her eye’s dipping to the floor as she did.
She used the former and little used name of the conflict. Once the Dominion was close to succeeding in its pacification of the Federation and Klingon Empire they had quickly rebranded the conflict as the “Unification War”, lauding it as a grand achievement in uniting the people of the region under one glorious banner – the Dominion’s.
“How did you survive? Starfleet was devastated by the war.”
“Destroyed is a more accurate term. I guess luck would be the answer. I only took part in the first few months. The ship I was on was one of the ships that took part in Operation Return. The operation that tried to stop the Dominion from reinforcing itself from the Gamma Quadrant.”
“I know what Operation Return was,” stated Jake tersely, his father’s last battle was not something that he could just forget.
“Of course you do, I apologise. Well, we made it through what we thought was the main battle and after we lost contact with the Defiant the fleet continued to DS9 in the hope we could still retake the station before significant Dominion reinforcements came through and do...something. We arrived and found only a dozen ships defending the station and went to attack. Then the Dominion’s reinforcements came out of hiding and surrounded us. As you know they destroyed every single ship in that attack force. I managed to get to an escape pod and what happened next is hazy. I was knocked unconscious during the pod’s launch. Not completely sure what happened but I was told that the pod was badly damaged. Likely it was caught too close to a ship exploding, most likely the vessel I served on,” Vari said sadly. She paused for a moment, no doubt her thoughts back to her crewmates that perished that day. “My pod was missed by the Dominion and was just floating around the Bajor system. I was found days later by a Bajoran ship and brought back to Bajor where I was taken to a monastery for medical attention.”
“Were you the only one to escape your ship?” he asked cautiously.
“No, a number of other pods launched. Just in my pod there were three others, I was told two were dead when the pod was found with the third, our chief flight controller, badly injured but still alive, so we both were saved from that pod. He died before I regained consciousness and the monks buried him in their cemetery, which was very generous of them. Over the years I’ve heard of a few others who survived the destruction of the Swiftfire, but nearly all were later killed fighting the Dominion.”
Silence descended on the pair. Vari had taken to inspecting her hands and needlessly flicking a finger as if to remove an invisible mark on her hand. A lot of people had been affected by the war, not just Jake. This was a very clear reminder that despite the passage of time those losses suffered were still felt keenly by those touched by them.
After a while Jake asked, “Did you try to rejoin Starfleet when you recovered?”
“It was weeks before I was fit enough to leave the room the monks gifted me. By then Earth, Vulcan, Andor and so many others planets had fallen or simply surrendered. What little was left of Starfleet was deep in Klingon space in the futile fight to stop the Empire from meeting the Federation’s fate.”
Jake could remember those days well. He had lost his way after his father had died. Each new day reports would arrive and it would be full of the latest Dominion victories as the Federation and Klingon Empire crumbled. The Dominion had made a major statement after its reinforcements arrived with the quick conquering of Earth. The causalities in that battle were terrible as Starfleet put nearly all it had to prevent their capital from falling, but it was for nothing and the subsequent subjugation of the planet only added to the horrendous death toll. Vulcan, Andor and Tellar all followed quickly and once these major worlds fell many Federation planets simply surrendered upon sight of a Dominion ship entering their system. The Klingons had put up more of a fight, but in the end all they gained was a death toll of a magnitude that was truly too difficult and sickening to imagine.
“What about the Exodus?” he asked.
“If I’d known about it at the time I might have tried to join. That is if I believed it to be true.”
‘The Exodus’ was the supposed last official act of the Federation Council. It had ordered Starfleet to gather a fleet of ships, including civilian vessels, and take as many civilians as they could and to flee to parts unknown. No one was sure where they went, some thought they headed to the edge of the galaxy where they would prepare to move beyond and out of the Dominion’s reach. Others thought they went to the centre of the galaxy to hide, others said they headed off to the Delta Quadrant to seek new allies to prepare for the eventually arrival of the Dominion. The most outlandish opinion was that the fleet had travelled to another dimension or universe. No one knew for sure and most did not even know if the exodus really happened.
Most of the ‘evidence’ for the Exodus was based on the fact that many Starfleet ships disappeared during the war, their fates unknown. Jake considered it simply a fairy tale created to appease people so they could dream that one day these lost Federation citizens would return and free them from Dominion rule. Jake would not be surprised if a few ships had fled the carnage or if a colony had abandoned its home to seek safety in the unknown, but as for a well organised retreat, he was not as convinced about that.
“So you became a monk instead,” stated Jake.
“Not straight away. The monks agreed to let me stay as I had nowhere else to go. My first choice was to join up with a criminal element. They liked to use caves and tunnels and to help them I need to be able to go into where they were hiding, which helped me get over my fear eventually.”
It was not difficult for Jake to read between the lines as to what ‘criminal’ element Vari was referring to. “You joined the resistance movement?”
Vari nodded. “I wasn’t with them for long. Once the Dominion declared the war over...I lost heart. I fought on for a while until one day I found myself back on Bajor and standing over the grave of my shipmate outside the monastery that had cared for me and I was engulfed with nothing but regret and sorrow. So I turned to the Prophets for solace and now here I am. Quite a turnaround given my upbringing.”
Jake gave her a questioning look.
“Long story short: My parents were killed fleeing Bajor during the Cardassian occupation when I was a baby. I was adopted by a Human couple and I didn’t even know my real name until I was a teenager. I was in my twenties before I really started to practice this faith. I can safely say that nowhere along that road did I ever entertain this as a possibility for my life,” said Vari gesturing to her elegant robes. “So what about you? Why did you stay on Bajor and not go back to Earth? I don’t want to seem too familiar but it is well known that you are uncomfortable with taking part personally in Bajoran religious practices. Given you are the son of the Emissary and the expectations tied in with that, this would not seem like the best place to settle down.”
“Well, much like you I had nowhere else. Initially it was purely because I couldn’t go back to Earth. The war made any journey to Earth risky and once it was conquered the Dominion clamped down on people travelling to and from the Earth, but if I could I would have and gone and stayed with my grandpa. I was on Deep Space 9 at the time but I couldn’t stay after what happened there, so I had nowhere to go but here. Then after my grandpa died...” said Jake, his voice trailed off as he thought about his kind and gentle grandfather, who did have a long and full life did not deserve to die the way he did.
“Didn’t you have any other family?” asked Vari.
“I have an aunt and two uncles but I’m not really all that close with them or their families that I felt I could impose on their lives. So I fled back here to a remote village where I could hide from the galaxy and wallow in my sorrow,” he said mournfully. “Thankfully things changed. It took a few years but I got my life together, eventually met a woman whom I married and now I have a family. I guess we can never know what path our lives might take,” said Jake.
Vari smirked. “Too true. Talking about paths, shall we continue on ours?”
Jake nodded and stood up. He helped Vari to her feet and the two continued on their journey deeper under the surface.
Jake was starting to think that this was all going nice and easily when he found himself facing a dead end.
“By your face I’m guessing this isn’t what you expected,” said Vari.
“No, it isn’t.”
“Did we make a wrong turn?”
“No, at least I don’t think so,” replied Jake. He reached out and touched the stone wall in front of him and while it felt just like any other rock there was something about it that irked him. “No, this shouldn’t be here. This should be a flight of stairs going down to the alcove we’re looking for.”
“Well, let’s see if you’re right.”
From her satchel Vari pulled out a familiar looking device and started scanning the wall.
“A Starfleet tricorder? Yes, it is,” said Vari finishing and answering Jake’s question. “A trapping of my former life that I’ve never had the heart to get rid of.” Vari continued to scan the wall. “Well, you’re right. The path does continue on and it does appear to be a tunnel sloping sharply downwards beyond this wall.”
“Why would the Prophets show me a path but not tell me that I can’t get to it?” asked Jake.
“Life often throws obstacles in our way, Jake. It’s up to us to find a way around or through them.”
Vari fished in her sack and pulled out another small device.
“Is that a bomb?” asked Jake surprised.
“It’s an explosive, but not a weapon. It’s a clearing charge.”
“It can still kill someone.”
Vari gave him a look that Jake had seen his wife give him more than once when she thought he was being naive. “I could strangle you with the sleeves of my robes but that doesn’t make my robes a weapon. You are sure this is the right way? I was only able to get my hands on one of these.”
Jake nodded. “I’m sure.”
Vari positioned the charge on the wall. They moved back down the tunnel and Jake stopped. Vari herded him further away.
“We better move back further. The tunnel will funnel the explosive force.”
Once they were suitable far enough away to satisfy Vari she asked, “Ready?”
Jake nodded. A concern suddenly popped into his mind. “Wait; is it safe to use the explosive? Couldn’t it bring down the ceiling?”
“That is indeed a possibility.”
“Then shouldn’t we –” Jake never finished his sentence as Vari detonated the charge. A thunderous explosion rumbled through the tunnels. Dirt and dust fell from the ceiling and Jake reflexively raised his arms to cover his head, though there was nothing falling that would do the tiniest bit of damage to him.
Jake stared at Vari. “You could have killed us.”
“Jake, you’re on a mission for the Prophets. They will protect you until you see out their will.”
“Then why did you make us move so far away?”
“For my safety,” she said with a wry smile. “The Prophets have something special in mind for you, not me.”
They cautiously made their way forward and found that the explosive had done its job. The wall was now a gaping hole. Jake went first and shone his light through and found the stairs he had said would be there. He carefully stepped down the ancient stairs, a task not made easier with the rubble scattered from their breach of the wall. Both he and Vari made it safely to the base of the stairs and into a dark alcove.
“What is this place?” asked Vari.
“I don’t know. I just...saw it in my orb experience,” he explained.
Jake shone his light to the floor where he had seen his “father” sitting. From there he traced up the wall to the stone tablet in the wall. Vari gasped and immediately went up to the tablet.
“It’s inscribed with ancient Bajoran,” she said.
“Can you read it?”
“Part of my work has been with ancient Bajoran texts so I have a fairly good grasp on some of the ancient Bajoran languages. Let’s see, it’s a bit dusty but I think I can make out this here. It says, ‘Welcome...Emissary, child of the Prophets’.”
“Welcome Emissary?” repeated Jake in shock. “It’s a message for my father?”
“It would seem so,” said Vari. She did not look away from the tablet as she continued to read the text, her voice low and barely above a mumble. “Wait, that’s not right. This is the masculine form of child and I’ve got the syntax wrong. It says, ‘Welcome, son of the Prophets’ Emissary.” Vari turned to Jake. “It’s addressed to you!”
“What?” Jake moved closer to the orb and stared at it, not that he could understand even one of the symbols on the tablet. “How old is this?”
“This level is under B’hala...so we’re probably talking tens of thousands of years old. There have been prophecies regarding the Emissary for millennia, but I can’t think of any that are messages for him, let alone any that even mentions you.”
“Are you sure that’s what it says? Your initial translation makes more sense.”
Vari again closely studied the ideograms on the tablet. “I’m as sure as I can be. I’m pretty sure I can translate more.” Vari mumbled as she translated the ideograms and put them together. “Okay. The age of Reckoning is at hand.”
“Reckoning? Are you sure that’s what it says?”
“Yes, it mentions it in a number of other places as well. It sounds vaguely familiar; does it mean something to you?”
Jake gulped as he nodded. “The Prophets mentioned a reckoning.”
“Then we’re definitely in the right place.” Vari continued to translate the tablet. “Looks like we can look forward to a feast,” she said sounding slightly surprised and amused.
“At the time of the Reckoning, the Bajoran people will eat fruit. That doesn’t seem right. It’s a very innocuous thing to have on a hidden tablet; maybe it’s a metaphor that will make sense in further context.”
“Maybe if I clear some of the dust,” offered Jake as he reached forward to brush some of it away with his fingers.
In a blink of an eye Jake found himself somewhere else. He was still in the alcove but now he was in the middle of the room, which was now bathed in an odd light. He instantly recognised the scene as that from his orb experience. His head spun around looking for his father but found no one.
“The child of the Sisko has come,” said Vari who stepped out from behind him, seemingly from nowhere.
“He must begin the Reckoning,” voiced Kai Winn who moved up next to him on his other side.
“What is this ‘Reckoning’?” he asked.
“Much will depend on the child of the Sisko,” said Vari, moving back around him.
“He is corporeal,” said Winn. “Limited”
“He is my son,” boomed the voice of his father. A hand clasped his shoulder. “He will not waver.”
Jake looked over to see his father, not a Prophet but his father. “Dad!”
“The Sisko is of Bajor,” said Winn, seemingly accepting his father’s proclamation.
“You must bring the Reckoning, Jake. For the sake of all of Bajor.”
“I don’t know what I have to do.”
Winn moved in front of him and stared deep into his eyes. “It will be the end...”
“Or the beginning,” said Vari in almost a whisper from his other side.
Jake turned to his father. “Dad, I don’t understand,” he said confused.
“Don’t worry, son. You will know. I have faith in you.”
There was a brilliant flash that blinded Jake and the next thing he knew he was flying through the air. He impacted something with a painful thud as blackness took him.
“Jake! Jake! Are you okay?”
“Dad?” he replied as he slowly opened his eyes.
“Looks like you took a hard hit to the head,” said a smiling Vari kneeling over him.
“No...I saw my father.”
“We’re alone, Jake. You must have had a vision.”
Jake gestured for Vari to help him sit up and she did. Jake rubbed the back of his head, though his entire back side seemed to hurt.
“We need to translate the rest of that tablet,” he said.
“It will go much faster if we take it back to my order. We have a number of ancient Bajoran language experts and plenty of material that will help us.”
“Good idea. Maybe you should carry it after what it did to me.”
Vari agreed and went about carefully removing it from its place in the wall. She wrapped it up in cloth and placed it in her satchel. On the way back Vari led the way as she had recorded their path down. When they finally broke out under blue sky they found several people waiting for them.
One of them walked up to Jake. “Jake Sisko?” he asked.
“I’m from Bajoran Security,” said the man. A look of guilty unease flashed across his face. “I’m sorry I have to do this...I’m taking you into custody for questioning by the Dominion.”
Chapter 6: A Seed of Doubt
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.
Chapter 7: Shadows Unveiled
Jake eventually got tired of waiting in his quarters. The silence and calmness just allowed his imagination to run wild with speculation as to what exactly he found himself involved in. He needed to escape, to go somewhere he could be distracted.
Jake walked up to the door and his hand wavered over the door control, unsure about whether Weyoun had been truthful with him and apprehension about what could be on the other side of the door rippled through him. Steeling himself Jake opened the door and cautiously stepped forward.
Outside he found no guards waiting to hustle him back inside and wondered if there had ever been any. He had just assumed the Jem’Hadar who escorted him to these quarters had remained outside. Despite that Jake was sure he was not unwatched. He was convinced that Weyoun would have the station’s security system monitoring him in case he tried to sneak off the station. Weyoun was not foolish enough to believe a polite request would be enough of an incentive to stay. Jake was sure if he tried to leave the station he would be quickly intercepted by security personnel who would probably inform him he had an immediate appointment with Weyoun. Not that Jake had any wish to test this theory.
Jake headed to the promenade. Despite years away from the station he found it easy to navigate his way to where he was going. Once on the promenade he found it was much as he remembered it; while the stores had almost all changed the familiar layout was comforting. He made his way to Quark’s...Morn’s he corrected himself.
Quark had left the station a long time ago. Quark had narrowly avoided been executed for the gaol break that freed Jake and others who were suspected, rightfully, of planning to interfere with the taking down of the minefield that blocked the wormhole. Quark’s survival was in part thanks to Tora Ziyal’s sacrifice. The illegitimate daughter of the station’s former Cardassian commander had testified that she had threatened Quark into aiding her in freeing them. This was also coupled with a personal plea from Grand Nagus Zek to spare Quark and his brother Rom. Rom had been a lost cause, but Quark’s life had been saved. However, the Dominion’s execution of his brother and the woman who saved his life, coupled with the death of his nephew and Jake’s best friend, Nog, had a profound impact on Quark and he had not been the same man after that. He did not remain on the station for long after these tragic events.
After his father’s death Jake had spent long hours sitting in Quark’s drinking, though more accurately he just ordered a drink and sat there with it rather than doing much drinking. He had hoped the ebb and flow of the busy spot would keep his mind off the deaths of friend and family, it of course did not. It simply allowed him to wallow where others could see him.
He could still remember his final conversation with Quark all those years ago –
Jake nursed his root beer. His drink had long since reached room temperature and not even the condensation remained coating the glass. All that was left was that on his damp fingers as he turned the glass slowly.
“Can I get you a new one?”
“No thanks, Quark,” replied Jake, not even bothering to look up from the next to full glass.
There was the sound of a chair being pulled out and Jake looked up to see Quark sitting down opposite him.
“Jake, I’m leaving,” said Quark plainly.
“Why?” responded Jake without thinking.
“Business is down. This place is barely breaking even. I’ve also lost the joy I felt with running this place. The thrill of battling through to enhance my wealth...and I can’t look around this place without seeing the faces of ghosts.”
Jake knew exactly how he felt. Everywhere Jake looked he saw reminders of his father, or Nog and the other Starfleet officers that served on the station who were now dead. The only reason he came to Quark’s was that he hoped that flow of people in and out would distract him, but instead he spent his time staring into a glass of liquid trying not to think about what he had lost.
“Where are you going?”
“Back to the Ferenginar. Moogie will need me to help her –” Quark paused; a humourless smile creased his mouth. “Who am I kidding? I need her,” he admitted. “I used to have a problem with why my mother favoured Rom. He was an idiot and didn’t have the lobes for business I did. But seeing him stand proud, unafraid before his executioners…I finally saw why he was Moogie’s favourite. I may have been what a Ferengi should be but he was...he was Rom.” A real smile appeared as Quark mentioned his brother, but it quickly faded from his face and all that was left was a crushing sadness, one that Jake could easily recognise. “I just wish that idiot had gone with Major Kira and fled the station instead of coming back for Leeta.”
“He loved her,” said Jake.
Quark half-heartedly smirked. “Like I said, he was an idiot.”
They sat in silence both thinking of their individual losses.
“What are you going to do with the bar?” asked Jake, breaking the silence.
“Morn said he’ll take it over and I agreed to let him manage it while I’m gone. I fully expect him to run it into the ground within a week due to serving himself rather than the customers. If this place is still standing when I get back I’ll be amazed.”
“So, you’ll be coming back?”
Quark paused before he answered, “No. Not if I can help it.”
“When do you leave?”
“I’m going to miss you Quark,” said Jake sincerely.
“I never thought I’d say this to a hew-mon, but I’ll miss you too, Jake.” Quark stood to leave. “Don’t stay, Jake.”
“Don’t stay on the station. Just get off. You’ll never be able to move on if you stay here. This past will haunt you, it will bring you low and smoother you in grief and torment.”
Jake noticed for the first time that Quark had with him a small case, which he placed on the table.
“What’s this?” he asked.
Quark gestured for him to open it. Jake did and found it contained a not inconsiderable number of bars of latinum.
“To help you move on,” explained Quark.
“You’re just giving it to me?” asked Jake surprised at Quark’s significant generosity.
Quark scoffed. “Jake, I’m still a Ferengi. This is a tax deductable charitable donation.”
“To what fund?”
“War orphans,” said Quark, no hint of humour in his voice. He picked up Jake warm, unfinished drink. “I’ll bring you a new drink – on the house.”
With that Quark wandered off to the bar. He smiled at the customers as he went but Jake saw the burden of grief on Quark’s shoulders because they mirrored the weight he felt on his own. Even as he lost sight of Quark two simple words reverberated within his mind.
Jake’s mind returned to the present as he entered Morn’s.
Quark was true to his word and he never returned to the station. He eventually sold the bar to Morn, who had simply replaced ‘Quark’ with ‘Morn’ in the establishment’s name. Jake looked around and found it quite similar to when he had left twenty years ago. Apart from the bar, the Dabo wheel dominated the lower floor and it was still surrounded by customers and the alluring Dabo girls, but he did not recognise any of them. There was only one face he did, the long face of Morn who was behind the bar.
“Long time no see, Morn,” said Jake as he reached the bar.
Morn had not changed much over the last twenty years and greeted him fondly. Morn quickly set about filling Jake in about every single thing that happened to him and anyone he knew in the last two decades. If there was one thing that Morn could do, it was talk.
Jake patiently sat and listened. Many of the people Morn talked about Jake did not recognise, but he politely nodded and emoted where it seemed appropriate. Morn kept Jake’s glass full but it seemed he did not keep much root beer and soon ran out. Morn then insisted that Jake go into the back to pick out something else from his private special reserve. Jake had initially turned down the offer but Morn persisted, eventually breaking him down.
Morn led him to the back room and let him in, but did not follow him in due to having to look after the front of house. Jake made his way to an impressive display of expensive looking alcoholic beverages. He looked through them. It was a truly galactic collection with drinks ranging from not only the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, but some that he recognised as from the Gamma Quadrant. There were also a couple he did not recognise. He picked up one of these and stared at the strange script to see if he could discern anything about what the bottle might contain.
“I suggest the Tulaberry wine. I understand it is of an outstanding vintage.”
Jake jumped, nearly dropping the bottle he was holding. He had not heard anyone else enter the room and the voice had given him a fright. He turned and saw a figure shrouded in the shadows in the corner of the dimly lit back room. Despite that his brain matched the voice to one from his memory.
The person exited from the shadows and pulled off the hood that obscured their face and said, “In the flesh. And it’s just Nerys these days.”
Jake’s jaw still nearly hit the floor when it was Kira Nerys’ smiling face unveiled from the shadows.
“You’ve...changed,” he managed to stammer.
“Ah, the universal code for ‘you look old’. You’re no spring chicken yourself anymore, Jake,” replied Kira, her smile more playful than before.
Jake opened his mouth to say that was not what he meant, but he quickly closed it because that was what he had been thinking. He always thought of her as “Major Kira, first officer of Deep Space 9” when she popped into his mind; youthful, strong, fiery and loyal. It seemed strange to see her now, her face was more lined with age and her red hair had gone completely grey. She approached him and he noticed that she walked with a noticeable limp. Seeing her now it was hard to connect her with the fearsome reputation she had built over the years.
“It’s so good to see you,” she said as she reached out and gave him a warm hug.
“You too, Nerys,” he replied, returning the hug. As they broke their hug he said, “Last I heard you’d been spotted in the Tong Beak Nebula.”
A wily smile came to Kira’s face. “You don’t get to keep being at the top of the Dominion’s Most Wanted list by being at the location people hear you’re at.”
Jake supposed she was right. Kira was listed as a wanted terrorist and criminal by the Dominion and she would not have been able to remain free for so long if she had let people know exactly where she was.
Jake had last seen Kira twenty years ago when they were sprung from jail by Quark and Ziyal. After the Dominion reinforcements flooded through the wormhole she had escaped the station. No one knew how she had escaped, but Jake always suspected that Odo had aided her. Odo had never admitted to doing so but Jake could not help but wonder what role he had played in not only Kira’s escape, but the sparing of himself, Leeta and Quark from execution given his connection to the Founder leader. He never got to ask Odo as not long after the Dominion reinforcements arrived Odo left the station and returned to the Great Link. In typical Odo fashion he had not notified anyone and Jake had to hear the news from Quark. Quark said he had caught Odo just before he left and that Odo had said far more without words than he did with them, which seemed typically Odo.
After Kira’s escape she had returned to her life before Deep Space 9 as a resistance fighter. Jake had heard about dozens of actions Kira was meant to have undertaken against the Dominion, but was sure not all of them were actually committed by her. Her most active time was in the months after Starfleet’s Operation Return, and she had quickly become notorious. Her reputation was also aided by the fact that the Dominion had twice claimed to have killed her, only for her to return at the helm of some audacious strike against them not long after her “death”. However, as more and more of the region fell to the Dominion her campaign against them lessened, most likely due to losing allies and ways to fund and supply her actions. While currently her attacks were few and far between, the last Jake could remember was over a year previous, she still enjoyed an almost cult status as the final warrior of a war long resolved.
“What are you doing here?” Jake asked.
“I came here after I found out that you’d been brought here.”
“How did you find that out?”
“Through a mutual friend,” she responded coyly.
Jake furrowed his brow. He was about to ask who when it came to him. “Vari?”
Kira nodded. “Prylar Letac was once part of my resistance movement. She might have left the fight but she’s still passing on things that she feels we should know.”
Vari, Prylar Letac, had told him already of her past involvement with the resistance, but had failed to mention she kept in touch with them. Though Jake had to admit he was not terribly surprised by the revelation.
“What did she tell you?”
“She told us of your journey under B’hala, of the tablet you found, the experience you had with it and that it was confiscated by the Dominion along with you.”
“So you’re here for the tablet?” he said dismissively.
Kira looked taken back by Jake’s tone. “Where did that come from?”
Jake eyed her suspiciously. “Why are you really here, Nerys? Tell me the truth! I haven’t seen or talked to you for twenty years and you choose this moment to make an appearance! Is this meant to be some sort of strange reunion?”
“You might not have ever seen me but I’ve kept tabs on you, Jake. I always have. After your father died I promised that I’d watch over you, for him. But to do so meant I could never risk coming to you no matter how much I wanted to. Those first few years after your father’s death...it was hard for me to not contact you to lend some support. In the end you got your life together and moved on. You might not have seen it but I was there for your wedding, I’ve watched your son grow and your happiness in life has filled me with joy.”
Jake felt silly for his outburst at Kira after her heartfelt reply. However, events seemed to be centring on him and he knew that he had to keep his mind clear and open if he wanted to figure out exactly what was going on.
“If you couldn’t risk it before what’s changed?” he asked.
“That tablet has changed things,” answered Kira. “Prylar Letac managed to find some more things out. They might have taken the tablet off her but they didn’t take the recordings she took of it,” said Kira pre-empting Jake’s question. “She was able to translate more of the text and made a critical connection.”
“This Reckoning the tablet talks of concerns the rebirth of Bajor. Shabren’s Fifth Prophecy specifically deals with it. It talks of a battle between the Prophets and the Pah-wraiths. Its outcome will give birth to a new Bajor. If the Prophet’s win it will be a thousand years of peace – a golden age. If they lose our world will be set aflame and so will the temple. Where’s the tablet now?”
“Simple answer? Weyoun has it.”
“He’s still here? I thought he would have returned to Earth days ago.” Kira let out a sigh and looked down to the floor. “Well, it doesn’t make things any easier...what’s he doing with it?”
“He’s preparing to offer it to Bajor as a fake artefact.”
A look of panic appeared on Kira’s face. “When?” she asked hurriedly.
“From what he told me, in a few days.”
Kira looked slightly more relaxed. “Good, we have some time but we still have to act quickly.”
“We? Look I just want to live my life in peace with my family,” stated Jake. He took a couple of paces away from Kira, literally distancing himself from her and whatever plans she had before he replied, “I don’t want to be involved in your continuing fight or anything that involves the wormhole aliens.”
Kira limped after him, keeping the space between them close. “Jake, I know you never embraced my culture as much as your father did –”
“As he was forced to,” interrupted Jake.
“It was his destiny, Jake. Now, you finding this tablet can’t be a coincidence, especially after having an orb experience during the Festival of Tears.” The mention of the orb experience caused Jake to reflexively frown. Kira noticed this slight change. “You saw something in your vision didn’t you. That’s how you found the tablet. It wasn’t just a coincidence!” she said excitedly grabbing his shoulders, squeezing tightly.
“Of course it wasn’t! Nothing is a coincidence on Bajor!” he said venomously, shaking Kira’s hands off him and again putting some distance between them. He needed space to think, to assess what was going on.
Kira looked confused by his increasingly hostile demeanour. “I don’t understand what you mean, Jake?”
Jake was pacing back and forth now, trying to organise the facts he knew and the suspicions he had. It was not any clearer now than before, if anything the waters had gotten murkier. With no ideas on where to go from here, Jake decided to be direct.
“Are you trying to set me up to be a figurehead for your resistance movement, Nerys?”
“Why would you think that?”
Jake gave Kira a dubious look. “Well, I just happen to get a guide who was member of your resistance and we just happen to find a tablet that could help foster rebellion against the Dominion on Bajor. Then guess what? You turn up! The number one fugitive on the Dominion’s most wanted list for the last twenty years!”
“Do you think I’m trying to manipulate you for my own gains, Jake? I’m hurt.”
Jake looked into Kira’s eyes as she spoke and they seemed to mirror her words. Not that he expected anything else. Kira was a smart and talented woman. A little bit of lying and acting would not be difficult for her.
“I never asked to be involved, Kira,” he stated, still confused as to what he should do. “My life was fine.”
“Your life was fine?” said Kira incredulously. “You’re living under the heel of the Dominion’s boots! Sure Bajor doesn’t have to put up with occupation troops or garrisons but it’s no freer now than when it was under Cardassian occupation. A gilded cage is still a cage, Jake. It sickens me that Bajor is the poster child for surrendering to the Dominion. You can enjoy your life now but it’s at the expense of the freedom of the rest of the galaxy because you’re helping the Dominion chip away at the rest of this quadrant. You just remember how your grandfather died.”
“He had a heart attack,” said Jake knowing that he accepted his word as much as a disbelieving Kira did.
“Brought on by getting beaten by the Jem’Hadar! His crime? Taking part in a peaceful protest march!” Kira was again right in his face. She jabbed a finger into his chest. “Your father died to try and defend your freedom and you grandfather died trying to get it back. Yet you’re willing to let your freedoms be taken from you! Jake, I don’t want to think what they would say if they saw you now.” The years might have stolen some of Kira’s youth but her passion remained as strong as ever as a mix of sympathy and thinly concealed disgust lined her voice.
“Don’t try and guilt me into this, Nerys,” said Jake forcefully as anger bubbled inside of him over her trying to manipulate him through the use of his dead family. He turned his back on her and stepped away as he struggled to reign in his emotions.
“Then what will it take for you to stand up for yourself...for others?” protested Kira loudly behind him. She paused and Jake heard her take in several deep breaths to calm herself down. “Nog, your best friend, is dead. So are your father and grandfather. What about your wife and child? When the Dominion razes your home for some minor transgression they perceive you committed, will you do something then? Because if that is what it’ll take, I’m sorry Jake, but it’ll be too late, there’ll be no one left to save,” pleaded Kira softly.
The room descended into silence. All Jake could hear was his own breathing and the beating of his heart. He was paralysed with indecision as to what he should do, who he should back. It was more than just a question about who was right or wrong because he was not just making this decision for himself. His decision would shape an entire world and more importantly he could damn his family. To him there was only one way where he could have any hope to protect them.
“All I have done these last few days is make things worse,” he said, more to himself than Kira. He looked over his shoulder to his old friend. “I found the tablet and that’s going to have to be enough, because I’m out Kira.”
“Jake, please. Think about it. You could be the difference between freedom and eternal servitude. You have to follow the path the Prophets have laid out for you.”
Jake shook his head. “No, no I don’t. The Prophets are your gods, not mine. My journey on this path ends here,” said Jake. Without waiting for Kira he headed for the exit.
“This isn’t the end of your path, Jake Sisko,” Kira ominously called after him. “The Prophets have a plan for you. You can’t walk away, Jake. You can’t avoid your destiny.”
Jake stopped at the door, his hand hovering over the controls as he paused for the shortest of moments. He could almost feel Kira’s hope increase, but his hand continued on its descent and as he pressed the open controls.
“Watch me,” replied Jake softly as he stepped through the doorway.
Jake made his way back to his quarters. He had said a quick farewell to Morn as he left and he could see that Morn wanted nothing more but to hear about everything that went on in the back room. However, he saw a look of almost regret come to Morn’s face as he took in Jake’s demeanour as he left, no doubt reading that the discussion had not gone well.
Kira did not follow him but her final words stalked him the entire way back to his quarters. Jake entered his quarters and nearly let out a scream as he found a hooded figure inside his quarters looking out of the window. Jake was unable to tell anything of the individual due to the person facing away from him, but he knew due to the size of the person that it was not Kira.
“Who are you?” he asked, keeping himself close to the door and escape.
“Why, Jake I’m offended you don’t remember me.”
Jake instantly recognised the voice but refused to believe who it was until the figure turned and pulled down his hood unveiling his identity.
“Dukat,” said Jake, his voice almost a growl. “I thought you’d be dead by now.”
Time had not been kind to the aged former leader of the Cardassian Union. His black hair had greyed and his face was haggard and weathered. Dukat’s thin lips stretched out as he smiled insincerely. “It’s nice to see you too, Jake.”
Jake straightened his back so not to appear to be cowed by Dukat’s appearance. “What are you doing here?”
“I was passing through the station and thought I’d drop in and say hello.”
“I didn’t think you’d ever return to this station.”
“Funny, I thought the same of you.” Dukat’s gaze went from Jake as he looked up at the walls and ceiling. “I have many pleasant memories here and some...not so pleasant.”
Jake realised he was still by the door and cautiously made his way forward, closing the distance between him and Dukat. “I expected to hear you’d drank yourself to death.”
Dukat chuckled, a throaty and thoroughly unpleasant sound. “Yes, that would be quite a headline – ‘Former leader of the Cardassian Union found dead in the gutter’.” The smile on the Cardassian’s face twisted, Jake thought it was probably due to the fact that Dukat’s joke might have been closer to reality than he would like to admit. “I admit I had a problem. Ziyal’s death hit me hard and in my own failings I turned to alcohol and women with low morals. However, I got my life together, much like I hear you have.”
Jake felt his venom towards Dukat rise. Any comparison between him and a monster like Dukat made him feel sick.
“If you’re here to intimidate me, it won’t work,” warned Jake. He struggled to keep his hands from balling into fists as his body readied him for possible action. “I’m not a boy anymore, Skrain. I’m not scared of you,” he said defiantly staring into Dukat’s eyes.
Dukat held his hands before him, palms outspread as if to show Jake he was not a threat, not that Jake would ever believe that.
“I truly regret that time, Jake. I unfairly focused my anger on you. How you could avoid execution yet my daughter could not.” Jake’s mind flashed back twenty years to the hatred in Dukat’s eyes as they regarded him and then the eventually confrontation where a drunk Dukat had assaulted him. Dukat’s cries of Jake’s guilt in condemning his daughter to death as he throttled him echoed in his mind as fresh as the day it happened. “I know that it was not your fault she died. She was led astray, but not by you. By Nerys,” Dukat hissed.
Jake shook his head. “Skrain, it’s been twenty years...let it go.”
“Have you let go of your father’s death?” shouted Dukat, despite himself Jake jumped a little at the Cardassian’s harsh tone. “Do you not look at me and see the man who set forward the events that led to his death? I can see the hatred you feel towards me!”
Jake could not deny that he blamed Dukat for his father’s death, however right now that was not the main emotion he felt towards the Cardassian. Dukat had once been a strong and proud man but Jake struggled to see that man. Instead all he saw was a frail, elderly man who desperately clung onto his old hatreds because it was all he had and to let go of them would mean his life was empty.
“No, I feel pity for you, Skrain. For everything that was wonderful and beautiful about Ziyal that you would choose hatred as a way to honour her memory.”
Dukat regarded him with thinly veiled disgust. “I see living amongst Bajorans all this time hasn’t dampened your human ability to take the high road.”
“I think you should leave, Skrain.”
“Very well. Take care, Jake. For you never know what will wait around the next corner in life.”
With that Dukat walked past Jake and out of his quarters. Once he was gone Jake made sure the door to his quarters was locked tight. It seemed as if Jake’s life was getting more complicated by the minute. There was strange a convergence of people on the station from twenty years ago. Jake wanted to just strike it down as an amazing coincidence, but there was one fact nagging him. They were all drawn by one thing: him.
Kira’s words once again echoed within Jake’s mind.
The Prophets have a plan for you. You can’t walk away, Jake. You can’t avoid your destiny.
Chapter 8: Destinies Converge
Following his run in with Dukat Jake spent the rest of the day locked in his quarters. He had changed the room’s security code, but given that it did not stop Dukat the first time Jake doubted it would a second time. However, he was hiding from Kira as much as he was from Dukat. Thankfully neither sought him out.
The only good news was that he had been allowed to contact his family that evening. The station was under a communications lockdown, most likely Weyoun’s way to maintain some control over the tablet situation, so he had to send a recorded message instead of speaking directly with them. He had given them the bare details so to avoid any censoring by Weyoun and had made sure to be upbeat and positive so not to worry Korena. After he sent it he had spent the rest of the time waiting for a reply, whether that was possible or not he was not sure.
The following day he continued to wait. He finally came to believe that he was unlikely to receive a reply so he ventured out of his quarters. There was only one place for him to go: Morn’s.
He sat at one of the more secluded tables on the upper level and had ordered through the waiter. He was avoiding Morn so to dodge the inevitable questions about his meeting with Kira. All he wanted to do was sit alone and not be disturbed.
Not long after Jake arrived Morn’s seemed to get its midday rush and the upper area was busy with people. The nearest table to him was taken by several Bajorans. He saw the recognition in their eyes, but apart from polite nods of acknowledgement they let him be.
As he sat alone with his thoughts parts of their conversation drifted into his ears through the noisy haze of the bar.
“...the ground tremors have levelled the town...”
“...floods have wiped out the entire crop...”
“...the waves wiped out three coastal townships along the west...”
“...they say it’s the worst storm to hit Ashalla in centuries. The damage is...”
Jake’s curiosity well and truly piqued, he grabbed the attention of the nearby Bajorans. “Sorry to eavesdrop, but is all that happening on Bajor?” he asked.
One of them nodded. “Yes, that and worse. All of the sudden it’s like the world decided to tear itself apart. Freak weather patterns, seismic activity on an unprecedented scale and scope, it’s just disastrous.”
“When did this all start?”
“Yesterday and no one knows why.”
Another Bajoran jumped in. “I heard from someone who serves on the station that they have detected unusual reading from the wormhole.” The Bajoran glanced around nervously. “Some believe that the Prophets are returning and they are angry at Bajor for something. The arrival of the Kai on the station last night has only added weight to those rumours that the terrible suffering on Bajor is their wrath.”
Jake thanked the Bajorans for their information and let them return to their conversation. His mind was racing with the revelation of this new coincidence. The day he had left the planet with the tablet was the same day these rumblings on Bajor and possibly the wormhole had begun. Nor could he ignore the inscription that Weyoun had revealed to him that seem to be now coming true.
One of Morn’s waiters appeared at Jake’s table.
“Morn sends his apologies, but he has again run out of root beer. He offers you the chance to go to the back and select from one of his personal blends to alleviate the offense this has created.”
Jake smiled at the waiter and thanked him. Given he had not ordered any more drinks it was a pretty clear signal that he had another meeting with his old friend. He briefly considered just leaving Morn’s, but knew that would only delay the meeting. As he stood he stole a glance at the Bajorans nearby and knew they would be commenting about the special treatment offered to the Son of the Emissary once he was out of earshot.
Morn was once again very apologetic as he let Jake into the back room. When he entered he looked around but did not see Kira.
“Have you heard what’s going on down on Bajor?” asked Kira appearing out of the shadows that Jake had sworn was empty when he looked a moment before.
“The extreme weather and earthquakes?”
“Yes. It all started after you were brought here. After the tablet left Bajor. It’s causing fluctuations in the wormhole that are impacting Bajor. ”
“I don’t see how you can draw that conclusion –”
“Still full of doubt, my child?”
Jake turned in surprise as Kai Winn also appeared from the shadows.
“Kai,” said Kira reverently. Kira had long been an opponent of Winn but it seemed that over the years this had faded as Kira seemed truly humbled by Winn’s presence.
“The Prophets have been angered by the Dominion’s claiming of their sacred tablet,” stated Winn.
“What harm could a stone tablet cause?” asked Jake.
“It is not just a stone tablet; it is a sacred gift from the Prophets. After all you’ve seen Jake why do you still doubt Their power?” asked Winn.
Jake waved the comment away and said, “Like you said, the Dominion has it. Go bother Weyoun.”
“I have, but he has not granted my request for the tablet to be immediately returned,”
“The longer this is drawn out the more people who will suffer and die on Bajor,” jumped in Kira. “Seventeen people alone died in your home province overnight.”
“Korena? Benny?” he asked suddenly panicked. The thought raced into his mind that the reason they had not responded to his message was because something truly horrible had happened to them.
“Your wife and son are fine, but with every moment that passes the more risk they’re in,” warned Kira. “Earthquakes and landslides are indiscriminate killers.”
“Weyoun said that the tests would take days.”
“That’s unacceptable. We need the tablet returned to Bajor now,” pointed out Kira vehemently. “I know this station well. It wouldn’t be a challenge to sneak into wherever the tablet is and steal it. I have a cell with me, we can blast our way out and our ship is fast and well-armed. We’ll make it to Bajor and through anyone who tries to stop us, including Bajoran Security.”
“You’d kill other Bajorans to do this?” asked Jake shocked.
“I would use my influence to try to avoid any additional Bajoran bloodshed,” added Winn with a supreme sense of calm. A look of sorrow came to Winn’s face as she continued, “However, if it does come to that there might be little I can do to avoid the loss of life.”
“The Dominion won’t take kindly to that. They could see it as an outright act of rebellion against them!” Weyoun’s words of warning of any defiance by Bajor flooded back and all Jake could see was Bajor aflame. “Even if you stop whatever is happening Bajor could still be destroyed.”
“What other choice do we have?” stated Kira aggressively. Jake saw in her eyes the same steely determination he had seen many times back when he was younger. He knew that Kira would go through with her plan, unless she had another option.
“I can try to get it back,” he blurted out.
“How would you do that, my child?” asked Winn.
Jake stammered for a moment, disbelief filled him that he was even suggesting this. “Weyoun gave me an open dinner invitation. I could take him up on his offer and try to convince him to return the tablet or move the testing to Bajor.”
Kai Winn and Kira looked at each other. Both silently communicating on the merits of Jake’s idea, Kira did not try to hide her uncertainty over Jake’s proposal.
“At least give me a chance,” he pleaded.
Winn nodded, surely and slowly, to Kira. It was a terribly long moment before Kira returned a short sharp nod to Winn.
Kira turned back to Jake. “I don’t think you’ll be able to convince Weyoun. People are suffering and dying down on Bajor,” Kira paused and cast her eyes to the floor. “But even this suffering would be less than that wrought by the Jem’Hadar if the Dominion sees fit to punish Bajor. You’ll have your chance.”
Jake yet out the breath he did not realise he had been holding as Kira gave her permission. So relieved with her decision was Jake that he almost missed the subtle look exchanged between Winn and Kira. It was a look of satisfaction. Jake was confused by this, then he realised that he had been played. They had used the old good cop, bad cop on him to get him to the point he was in now. Why else would they want to speak to him? Kira had no need to run her plan past him. In fact there was no reason she had not attempted it apart from the fact that she realised that there was still one avenue left to reclaim the tablet without violence.
“I cannot stress how important this is, my child,” said Winn. “The Reckoning must be brought about for the wellbeing and the future of Bajor.”
Jake shook his head at how easily he had been led to this position. How despite his previous assertions about taking no part in what was happening he now had ‘volunteered’ himself into the thick of it.
“This doesn’t mean I want any part of whatever is going on, is that clear? After this I’m done,” he forcefully stated, glaring at the two women.
Winn looked completely unfazed by his posturing and replied, “All we do is walk the path the Prophets lay out for us, my child. In the end our wants mean nothing in their grand designs.”
As Jake made his way through the dimly lit corridors of the station he started to regret his decision to further embroil himself in what was happening. Weyoun had been more than pleased when Jake contacted him to accept his dinner invitation. Jake had no wish to spend any more time than he had to with Weyoun. The sycophantic Vorta was not a person he cared for. Despite his misgivings he knew that he had to go through with it, the possibilities if he did not were too terrifying to contemplate.
His mind was elsewhere and when a figure seemed to just appear in front of him in a deserted corridor he nearly head-butted the ceiling in fright. He calmed down slightly when he saw Kira’s familiar face under the hood’s shadow.
“You nearly gave me a heart attack!” he growled lowly at her.
Kira just grinned mischievously. “There’s one last thing I have to tell you before you attend you dinner.”
Kira lifted his hand up and placed an object in it.
“What is this?” asked Jake looking at the small device.
“It’s a transponder. If you don’t think you can convince Weyoun to return the tablet, see if you can at least get a look at the tablet. Put this on it and we’ll be able to beam it from its location.”
“I’ve made preparations for the tablet’s escape and before you say anything, I’ve taken steps so that when they catch onto us they’ll think the tablet has left the system. The evidence will point towards my group stealing it and spiriting it away from the system.”
Kira had pre-empted his concern exactly. Once the tablet disappeared there would be only one culprit: the Bajorans. It could lead to a military response from the Jem’Hadar that would target Bajor and would no doubt lead to significant loss of life on the world. Jake considered asking Kira more about her plan but the less he knew the better. He just hoped that if it came to her backup plan that her precautions would be enough to spare Bajor.
Despite Kira’s efforts Jake could not rid himself of the anger he felt towards the older woman for entangling him in her plots. “Anything else? Would you like me to hack into the central computer, download fleet deployments and patrol schedules?” he said venomously.
“That would be nice,” replied Kira with a lopsided grin seemingly ignoring his tone.
Jake was not going to be that easily placated. However, getting into a heated argument with Kira now would not help him. Best thing to do would be to hurry along and get this business over as quickly as possible.
“How will I find you after I’ve finished with Weyoun?” Jake asked.
“I’ll be in the temple seeking guidance.” Kira clasped his hand in hers and squeezed lightly. “And asking the Prophets to watch over us all, even those who don’t accept them.”
Jake suppressed his frown as much as he could and replied, “I think whatever happens we’ll all be needing some luck.”
Kira gave his hand one last squeeze before heading off back the way she came.
Jake looked down at the device in his hand and mumbled, “I wish I spent some time playing with Bashir’s silly spy programs.”
With that Jake pocketed the device and went to attend what could be the most important dinner of his life.
As Jake came to a sudden and unexpected halt Dukat was quick to maintain his concealment. He had been following Jake since their first meeting in Jake’s quarters. Jake had hardly ventured beyond his quarters since then and when he did he simply went to the perpetually operating bar. Dukat had simply sat a few tables away from Jake and watched the human without his notice.
Dukat’s hard times had taught him some important lessons and skills. The most valuable was how to appear invisible. Dukat had spent time living on the streets, half drunk and half insane with anger and regret. It was there that he learnt how to avoid notice and scrutiny. Most chose to ignore those broken people that existed on the fringe of society. By using postures and mannerisms from that time Dukat could avoid attention by appearing to be, what was not too far from the truth, a pathetic shell of a man.
Jake had slipped off to the backroom of the bar during his visit. Unfortunately Dukat was unable to follow him. When Jake had left it was clear to Dukat that he had met with someone and that whatever went on it was now weighing on Jake’s mind. That same look had appeared on Jake’s face when left his quarters later that evening. Dukat consider it possible that Jake was going to meet with his secret contact again and followed him.
At first Dukat thought the shadowy figure who had intercepted Jake was who Jake was going to see, but it some became obvious that Jake had not expected to meet whoever this person was. If anything Jake seemed put out by this meeting and his ire was quite evident. Dukat immediately thought it was simply a pestering Bajoran who wanted something from him due to Jake being the son of their Emissary. The other person had handed Jake something, but Dukat was too far away to tell what it was.
The figure clasped Jake’s hand and Dukat could tell their conversation was over. He was readying himself to continue following Jake when the figure turned and headed back down the corridor they had appeared from. He froze as he caught a flash of the person’s face.
A sadistic smile creased his face as he hissed the person’s name, “Nerys.”
Jake headed away and Dukat silently and cautiously hurried down to the splitting corridor. He quickly shot a glance around the corner and saw the hooded figure he knew was Kira Nerys far down it. She turned to look back down it and Dukat quickly pulled himself out of sight. He waited a few seconds before slowly peeking around, just in time to see her turn a corner.
Adrenalin coursed through his veins as he travelled down the corridor as quickly as he could while maintaining as much silence as was possible. He reached the corner Kira had turned and braced up against it. He popped his head around and caught sight of the hooded Kira again. She was closer now and he wanted nothing less than to let out a roar and charge down the corridor like a madman, however he knew that Kira was far enough away to make her escape, or if she was armed she could kill him before he got close to her.
Patience was the answer. He had spent years hunting after Kira; he could wait a few minutes more before he struck.
Chapter 9: Journeys' End
Jake found the entire dinner to be very trying. Weyoun was his typical overly pleasant, slightly condescending self. Not wishing to get the Vorta off side Jake had to be equally polite back to him. Weyoun had greeted Jake warmly as if they had always been good friends, so the entire event had been tiresome from the very first second.
For their meal Weyoun had produced replicated gumbo, “Just like your grandfather made” had been his exact words. Jake had just smiled back, but knew from the smell that it was nothing like his grandfather’s gumbo. In tasting it he confirmed that belief. His grandfather’s personal recipe for gumbo was legendary in New Orleans and this poor copy lacked the heart of that fantastic dish. Not that he said that to Weyoun, he had simply pronounced it was “quite good”, which seemed to please Weyoun to no end.
Throughout their meal Weyoun had engaged him in conversation regaling Jake with tales of his adventures in the last two decades. Not that Jake was only allowed to just listen. Weyoun threw him many questions about his life and family, all of which Jake answered as politely as he could despite wanting to do anything but answer the Vorta’s prying questions.
As they had a post-dinner drink Jake finally decided to broach the topic he had come to speak about.
“About the tablet –” he started less than subtly.
“You wish for me to return it to Bajor,” finished off Weyoun.
Jake could not hide his surprise at Weyoun knowing what he was after. “Yes,” he slowly confirmed.
Weyoun gave him a look of slight disapproval. “Jake, I’m not a fool. I know that you don’t have as warm feeling for me as I do you. You wouldn’t be here for any other reason than to get something from me. I’m sure that Kai Winn has managed to meet with you and plead her case. As soon as she arrived on the station I knew to expect your acceptance of my invitation.”
Jake rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. He was embarrassed that he had thought Weyoun would not be able to figure out his true intentions. Weyoun’s friendly and approachable manner made it easy to believe he was not as astute as he truly was. Jake was sure that many people in positions of power had come to truly regret their underestimation of the wily Vorta.
The only good thing to come from Weyoun’s revelation was the lack of Kira’s name been mentioned. Jake hoped that meant Weyoun was unaware of her presence on the station. If he was the situation could get far more complicated than it already was.
“Are you going to make your case?” asked Weyoun.
Jake was again caught by surprise. He expected Weyoun to give him a flat out refusal on the spot. “It seems too coincidental that the problems on Bajor began after the tablet was brought here,” he began.
“The fluctuations in the wormhole are most likely the cause of the issues on Bajor,” said Weyoun.
“Again, which started after the tablet was brought to the gateway to the wormhole.” As if to emphasis Jake’s point the station rumbled, though the crew had gone some way to minimising the impact of the fluctuations of the wormhole on the station.
“The tablet is nothing but stone. There are no power signatures or signals coming from it for it to influence the wormhole. The Kai’s assertion about the connection has no basis in anything other than superstition,” dismissed Weyoun.
Jake bit back a reply about the Vorta’s belief in the Founders. Antagonising Weyoun would not help him right now.
“You told me that Dominion is here to bring order and peace to the galaxy, what you’re doing is the opposite. Whether the tablet is actually causing the problems doesn’t matter. The Bajorans believe that it is and if you return the tablet it will ease their concerns.”
“And what happens when the tablet returns to Bajor and the situation doesn’t change?”
“Weyoun, you’re not getting it. If you just –”
Weyoun held up a finger, signalling for Jake to stop. Without a word Weyoun stood up and left the room leaving Jake gobsmacked. Jake thought the Vorta had just stormed off but he returned a few moments later carrying the very tablet they were discussing. Weyoun placed it on the table.
Weyoun rapped his knuckles on it and said, “This is just stone, simple, ordinary stone. All this tablet would do if it returns to Bajor would fuel further unrest. When the geological and weather anomalies continue they will look to what is carved on this tablet. As I stated before, they will interpret it in a way that will lead to conflict with Dominion forces.”
“Why is this here?” asked Jake incredulously. “You’re meant to be testing it to prove its authenticity.”
“And the testing is ongoing,” replied Weyoun calmly, despite Jake’s tone. “However, given the recent events I did not feel that a science lab was a safe place to store it. The only place I can be sure of its security is wherever I am.”
“The Bajorans run this station. If they want it back they could just beam out of your hands.”
“I have made sure that is not possible. Transporter locks are disrupted within this area.”
That put a dampener on Kira’s backup plan to tag the tablet for transport. While he would have an easy time placing the device on the tablet given it was within reach, there was no guarantee that even with it tagged that a transporter would be able to whisk it away. They were likely to make sure that even when the tablet left Weyoun’s quarters it would be protected against a transporter snatch.
Suddenly anger started to build with Jake. He could not just leave the tablet with Weyoun to use however he saw fit. As he thought more about this situation the more his anger grew. He cursed at Kira for putting him in it, at Weyoun for being a manipulative bastard, and most of all at the wormhole aliens for inserting themselves into his life and tearing it to shreds. Soon Jake’s blood was boiling and rage burned bright within him.
He growled and leapt to his feet and rushed towards the tablet. He grabbed it, but found that Weyoun also had a grip on it.
“What are you doing, Jake?” asked a confused Weyoun.
“Let go of this damn thing now!” he bellowed at the Vorta.
Weyoun had no intention of letting the tablet go and Jake jerked it towards him pulling the much smaller Weyoun with it. He swung it around, trying to twist Weyoun’s surprisingly strong grip from the stone. The two men were soon entangled in a strange dance around control of the tablet.
“Jake! Stop this foolish–”
Weyoun was stopped mid-sentence as Jake’s violent motions sent him tumbling to the ground. Jake stumbled backwards without Weyoun’s weight to counteract him and he tripped. As he fell the tablet slipped free from his fingers and went sailing over his head. Jake watched it as he fell. He hit the ground at almost the exact moment the tablet smashed into the wall. It exploded into dozens of pieces as it shattered.
Jake could not believe what he had done. His anger was quickly subsiding, replaced with a dazed confusion as to his behaviour and its results. From the remains he saw two wisps of light rise up like fireflies. They drifted upwards as if caught in an updraft and disappeared through the wall.
“What have you done, Jake?” asked Weyoun, picking himself up off the floor.
There was the sound of doors opening and Jake turned to see two deadly serious and fierce Jem’Hadar charge into the room, weapons drawn and at the ready. They looked at the scene with Weyoun getting to his feet and Jake still lying on the floor. One of the Jem’Hadar went to Weyoun’s aid while the other advanced threateningly on Jake. Fear filled Jake as he stared up at the hard, scaly warrior approaching him. Malice burned in its eyes.
“Wait!” called out Weyoun. The Jem’Hadar froze in his tracks, but his eyes never left Jake. “Everything is fine.”
“We heard a disturbance,” said the Jem’Hadar who had helped up Weyoun.
“Simply a disagreement that got out of hand that resulted in the regrettable destruction of an object. I’m sure Jake has calmed himself down.” Weyoun looked pointedly at Jake, who nodded. “Help him up,” ordered Weyoun.
The Jem’Hadar looked like he would rather be hurting Jake than helping him, but he followed the Vorta’s command and assisted Jake back to his feet.
“Thanks,” said Jake meekly. He was taller than the Jem’Hadar but the pure violence radiating from the genetically engineered warrior was enough to cow anyone.
“You may return to your posts outside,” commanded Weyoun. Both Jem’Hadar immediately, but reluctantly, exited the room.
Jake turned back to look at the wall where he saw the wisps disappear. “Did you see that?” Jake asked.
“Of course I did. You broke what might have been a priceless artefact. The Kai will not be pleased.”
“No,” he interrupted. “The lights. Did you see the lights?”
Weyoun looked at him perplexed. “I’m sorry, Jake. I’m not following what you mean.”
“From the rubble there were these two...lights or balls of energy. They rose up and went through the wall.”
“You must have struck your head in the fall. I can summon a medical officer if you wish.”
“I didn’t hit my head,” he said angrily. “I saw what I saw! Do you have a tricorder or scanner?”
Weyoun shook his head and Jake realised it was unlikely a person like Weyoun would bother with scientific equipment.
“Jake, we scanned the tablet thoroughly. It is nothing but stone. The main issue is what to do about this. Of course I’ll wave any issue regarding assaulting a high level Dominion official, but the Bajorans are another matter. If they wish to punish you for this the Dominion can’t prevent it. I of course will do everything in my power see they are as lenient as possible due to our long friendship.”
“So you aren’t going to take what I saw seriously?”
“Jake, we need to discuss what to do about –”
“JUST,” shouted Jake. “Get someone in here to run a scan. That’s all I ask.”
Weyoun hesitated, but relented when it became evident that Jake would not move on from this issue. He called in one of the Jem’Hadar guarding his quarters who ran a scan of the room. After several minutes the Jem’Hadar returned his findings: there was nothing out of the ordinary. Weyoun dismissed the Jem’Hadar.
“Now, we need to discuss what to do about the Bajorans –” started Weyoun.
Jake sat back down at the table. Something had just happened here and he wasn’t sure what. Losing his temper in such a way was out of character for him and then the strange lights that he had seen despite what Weyoun thought. Jake couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more going on.
Colonel Antara Eri stifled a yawn as she read the report. She was meant to go off duty hours ago, but it seemed a station commander’s job was never done. The Festival of Tears was one of the major annual events on Bajor and as such it saw a significant increase in traffic not only to the planet, but through Gateway Station as well. There was already a great deal of paperwork in running the station and this seemed to more than double it. That meant longer hours for her just to keep reasonably on top of everything.
The next yawn she couldn’t contain. Antara leant back in her chair as she covered her mouth letting out a large yawn. When it was over she ran a hand through her shoulder length auburn hair. She usually kept her hair tied back while on duty, but if she was forced to toil through the endless reports she could at least feel a bit more comfortable. She stretched out her other arm to loosen the grip of tiredness on her body.
Antara let her chair aimlessly swivel. It turned towards the left and the window to the office next to hers. The station commander’s office in the Ops centre had been expanded and split into two office spaces during the Dominion’s control of the station. One for the station commander; the other for the Dominion’s representative. She was sure that the window between the offices was to remind the station commander about where the real power lay.
Antara saw that the Vorta Gelnon was still in his office. She wasn’t surprised. The Vorta only seemed content when he was doing administrative work. While she was in command of the station, a lot of the happenings on the station were also filtered through Gelnon. One of the most important areas he oversaw was any requests to use the wormhole. Travel through it was monitored and before any non-Dominion ship went through they had to submit a request to the station, which was passed on to Gelnon. He in turn assessed it before final approval by the Dominion station on the other end of the wormhole, Gamma 1. It was the true gatekeeper to the Gamma Quadrant, not Gateway Station.
This arrangement was why command of Gateway Station was a double edged sword. Gateway was one of the most prominent postings in Bajoran Security, but it was also one where the politics were amongst the most complicated. Luckily for Antara she had spent years under the current regime before she took command. It made things a bit easier for her, but not necessarily more enjoyable.
Antara had been assigned to the station prior to the Unification War. However, back then she was part of the Bajoran Militia. After the end of the war and with Bajor joining the Dominion the Militia was disbanded and some of its roles were absorbed by Bajoran Security, including the running of the station. Given Bajoran Security was a police and customs force rather than a defence force it needed fewer personnel than the Militia did. Save the crew of the station and the few starships that Bajoran Security were permitted to transfer over, most of those in the Militia had to find a new line of work. Antara considered herself lucky that she had survived that transition. From where she sat now it was hard for her to imagine doing anything else with her life.
Antara got back to her administrative work. Her next task concerned the patrol patterns for the three Shakaar-class patrol ships assigned to the station. Named after the former First Minister of Bajor, Shakaar Edon, the vessels were another example of the special relationship between Bajor and the Dominion. The Dominion had assisted the Bajorans in the design of the ships, as well as shared some of their technology allowing the Bajorans to build starships that were far superior to the old vessels of the Militia. They weren’t much of a threat to Dominion warships, but they were more than a match for a typical raider that might try to prey on shipping in Bajoran space.
Bajor was expected to maintain good order in its space as part of its agreement with the Dominion. The only Dominion forces in the system were Gelnon and a platoon of Jem’Hadar assigned as his personal protection. The only vessel they had was a small shuttle. Even the vessel that brought Weyoun to the station hadn’t stuck around. It had dropped him off and travelled through the wormhole. Very few Jem’Hadar vessels docked at the station at all. They preferred to dock with the Dominion station, which made sense in terms of security and the facilities the other station had. It also had a more insidious nature as it helped to give the impression of the system being free of the Jem’Hadar.
This impression however was an illusion due to the Dominion presence on the far side of the wormhole. Antara had visited Gamma 1 on a few occasions and she knew how significant the Jem’Hadar presence there was. The massive station could hold thousands of Jem’Hadar and every time she visited there had been dozens of ships docked and around the station. All this might be tens of thousands of light-years from Bajor, but thanks to the wormhole it was just as if they were based in the system. No matter how deceptive it was Antara knew that it was preferable to having the Jem’Hadar in the system in numbers.
Antara had just about completed the ships’ patrol schedule when she was interrupted by someone entering her office.
“Colonel, there’s a situation on the promenade you need to see,” reported the station’s watch officer.
Antara rose from her chair. Her previous fatigue gone as the tone of her officer suggested a serious incident. She followed him out and looked up at the main viewscreen. It was showing a security feed from the promenade. She saw several people running in panic and at least two bodies lying prone on the ground.
“This is live from the promenade,” stated the watch officer. “We have reports of at least seven casualties.”
One of the fleeing civilians, a Bajoran man, was suddenly lifted off the ground. His feet kicked uselessly under him as he was rotated around to face the other way. A grey haired man walked into view, his back to the security camera. He held a hand outstretched before him and directed at the hovering Bajoran. A field of red energy engulfed the Bajoran man’s torso. As it pulsed it almost looked like flames were coming off it, though he didn’t appear to be on fire. The man shook violently for a few seconds before the field disappeared and he fell to floor, motionless.
“By the Prophets!” Antara exclaimed. “Where’s security?”
“We’re scrambling more to the area now. Three of the casualties are security personnel.”
The assailant’s head swung around, no doubt looking for targets. Antara was unsure what type of weapon he had as she had still to see any nor was she familiar with any weapon that could cause what she had witnessed. As he hunted she finally saw the face of the person behind the carnage. It felt like an icy grip had wrapped itself around her heart as she recognised him.
“Get Gelnon in here,” she ordered. “We may need the Jem’Hadar for this.”
Kira Nerys was many things. According to the Dominion she was an anarchist, a terrorist, an assassin and a murderer, and these labels were not completely unfair. She was out to tear down the established order through the use of violence and she had long ago shed any qualms about innocents getting caught in the crossfire. She was in many ways a monster, but she considered herself the monster the quadrant needed if it was to throw off Dominion oppression.
She was also often painted as a zealot, but she did not consider herself one. She was pious, but she was not fighting for the Prophets or to spread their enlightenment far and wide. Rather she was fighting for the rest of the quadrant. Despite that ideal in the dark years since the Dominion conquered the region she had turned more and more to the Prophets. Gods who were as absent now as during the Cardassian occupation. More than a few of her non-Bajoran cohorts had questioned her devotion to a group that seemed so indifferent to the suffering of not only the Bajorans, but the rest of the galaxy. Her answer was just because she did not understand the Prophets actions or inactions did not mean there was nothing behind them. The Cardassian occupation had led to the discovery of the Celestial Temple and the coming of the Emissary after all. She believed that the Prophets were steering Bajor towards something, she just did not know what.
She entered the Bajoran temple on the station; a comforting smile crossed her lips. She had not been inside its hallow walls for nearly two decades. She found it comforting that little about it had changed in that time. It was the closest thing to her temple as she had in her life. Much like in her youth she now spent most of her time on the run, however unlike then she spent a great deal of time away from Bajor. That meant she had to make do with very few visits to a truly spiritual location, but she made due the best she could. However, there was something about being within a place of worship that could not be replicated elsewhere and it made her pagh soar.
Kira walked to the front of the temple to the hollowed space in the wall where orb arks where placed when they visited the temple. All the orbs had long ago returned to Bajor due to going dark, so instead that space was filled with new objects that all had a single connection: the Emissary. Kira walled up to the display and gazed at the objects. She immediately spotted a familiar item, Sisko’s baseball. She wondered how it had ended up here as Dukat had been the last person she had seen handling it. She wanted to reach down and touch it, roll it in her hand and feel the connection it had with its owner. Kira stopped herself, these objects were now part of the temple and pawing them without permission would be wrong.
Kira stepped back from the display to a more respectable distance and knelt down and started to pray for strength and guidance from the Prophets.
“Repenting for your sins, Nerys?”
Kira blood ran cold. The voice was unmistakeable. “Dukat,” she said as calmly as she could. “What an unpleasant surprise.”
Kira stood and turned to face her hunter for so many years. He wore a long hooded robe, much like she did. He pulled down the hood and she saw his hard smile on his taut face. He looked much older than she recalled. Time had not been kind to him.
“Not as young as you were,” he commented as if reading her mind.
“Aren’t we all,” she replied with a humourless smile. “So you finally caught up with me.”
“I have been close many times, Nerys.”
Dukat was right, probably more so than he knew. Over the years he had come very close to confronting her, but she had managed to keep ahead of him. Dealing with a deranged Cardassian was not high on her list, plus Kira had to admit she wanted him to live with his suffering as a penance for what he had done in his life.
“I know,” Kira replied.
“You know you have to pay.”
“For?” she asked, though she knew the answer.
“For? You have the gall to fane ignorance!” spat Dukat. “For Ziyal, Nerys! You have to pay for her death!”
“You could have saved her.”
“NO I COULDN’T!” He raged, spittle flying from his lips, his eyes burning with hatred. “I was the only one who couldn’t. She had to be made an example of to show no one was above Dominion law. My hands were tied...but you...she was only in that position because you poisoned her against me.”
Kira shook her head. “You did that yourself.”
“She loved me,” Dukat’s response was almost a plea.
Kira almost felt a stab of pity for Dukat. In his own, twisted way he had loved his illegitimate daughter. He had wanted to kill her when he found out she was still alive to cover his infidelity. Kira and actually meeting an adult Ziyal had changed his mind. That decision was not without its price and he had lost everything that was important to him: his stasis and his family. The only one who stayed by him through that was Ziyal, but she had no one else. She had also come to view him through rose coloured glasses as the father who rescued her from slavery. She saw him as the father she had longed for, not for the man he was.
“Ziyal was a kind spirit but also naive. She thought she could make you a better man, but you were always a selfish egotistical maniac. Even though you sold out the quadrant she still loved you. Even she came to see you for who you really are. A snake hidden under a false veneer of charm. Now you’ve wasted you’re life chasing a lie to appease your conscience. Let it go Dukat. Leave and if you care for Ziyal as much as you claim to do something to better the galaxy.”
Kira could see that her words were lost on Dukat. He had spent so long on this path he could not move off it. There was only one way that this was ever going to end. One of them would have to die.
“It’s time,” hissed Dukat as he reached into his robe and pulled out a wicked looking knife, which Kira thought might be Klingon in design. He held it up to his face and a no less iniquitous smile crossed his face.
Dukat advanced on her gleefully and with little caution. This was his fantasy come true and Kira wondered how often he envisaged this moment where he would strike her down in righteous vengeance. However, Kira had no intentions of fulfilling his deluded imaginings.
Dukat swiped at Kira, but she easily dodged to the side to avoid it. He quickly followed it with another swipe and then a stab, but Kira manoeuvred her body out of danger each time. As she did Kira felt a jolt of pain up her right leg. Years ago a Jem’Hadar had blown out her knee and her limited medical supplies at the time had left her with a slight limp and frequent pain, even during mundane activity. She doubted her ability to simply tire out Dukat, even in his emaciated state. She would need to take the fight to him.
Kira waited for Dukat to jab at her abdomen. When he launched his attack instead of moving away she deflected his strike and grabbed his wrist. In a move that was so practiced that it was almost instinctual she took hold of his arm and twisted it forcefully, loosening the knife from his grip causing it to drop to the floor. She swept with her feet and sent the blade skidding away. She pulled Dukat forward, unbalancing him and hammered a knee into his stomach. However, she had to support all her weight on her bad leg and even that brief second was too much. Kira staggered off balance, but managed to get a good shove on Dukat to send him stumbling backwards. Kira dropped to her good knee and gripped her bad knee tightly. Her nails dug into her leg as she tried to distract her brain from the shooting pain emanating from her old injury.
Dukat roared and charged her like a crazed animal. Kira was caught by surprise by the speed of Dukat’s recovery and had thought the knee would buy her a few more seconds. She tried to force herself to her feet, but was barely standing when he reached her. His shoulder smashed into her chest and she was carried backwards by his momentum and slammed into the wall. Dukat stepped back and rammed his shoulder back into her. Kira’s ribs exploded with pain and she was sure he had fractured at least one.
Dukat wrapped his fingers tightly around one of her arms and pinned it to the wall. Kira barely had time to focus on that when he smashed his forearm into her face, causing her head to painful rebound off the wall, stunning her momentarily. Through the haze she felt pain in her nose and lip and could taste the metallic tang of blood in her mouth. Dukat’s forearm pressed under her chin, forcing her jaw shut and catching her tender bottom lip. A throaty whine of pain was all she could manage through her clenched teeth and swollen lips. Dukat pushed upwards, pinning her to the wall and forcing her almost onto the tips of her toes.
Kira lashed out with her free hand at both Dukat’s head and body, but with her body pinned to the wall she struggled to get any power into her swings. It also did not help that any movement of her arm radiated into pain in her ribs. At best she was meekly swatting at her tormentor.
Dukat leaned in close and his rasping, hot breath blanketed Kira’s face. Dukat was excruciatingly close to Kira. She tried not to look at him as his eyes traced over her face in a terrifying parody of a lover.
A hungry smirk came to his face when he looked into her eyes as he particularly whispered into her ear, “I’m going to enjoy watching you die, Nerys.”
Dukat’s forearm pressed harder into her throat and continued to push her upwards. Her ribs burned in pain as she was forced to stretch to try and relieve the pressure on her throat. Kira’s struggled and sharp gasping filled her ears and knew that if she did not do something soon Dukat would get his wish.
With her free hand she frantically grasped around the wall, looking for something, anything that she could use against Dukat. Her hand suddenly found a hole in the wall and it flailed around in the open space in panic as she searched blindly for salvation.
Prophets, please! she pleaded as her eyes welled up.
Suddenly her fingers found something round and she picked it up. It was not as heavy as she would have liked, but she swung it with all her might into the side of Dukat’s head. The blow stunned him briefly as his head jerked violently with the impact. He turned to look at what had struck him so Kira smashed the object into his nose. Dukat cried as he lurched with the impact, easing his pressure that was pinning Kira in place. With more freedom of movement Kira struck with her knee with as much force as she could into his groin. Dukat yelped in pain and staggered away hunched over fully releasing Kira.
Kira dropped to the floor retching. She sucked in large gulps of air to refill her burning lungs and spluttering as she coughed blood out of her mouth. Even without Dukat hindering her breathing her damaged ribs made breathing a chore. She looked to the bloodied object still in her grip. It was Sisko’s baseball and a pained grin came to her swollen lips. She had to wonder how often Sisko would have fantasised doing just this to Dukat. Kira thanked the Prophets for their assistance, but knew that she had to be quick to take the advantage they had gifted her.
Dukat was doubled over just a few metres away. Kira hobbled over to him and with all her might she kicked his knee in. A sickening crack, quickly followed by a scream of pain reverberated in the temple. Kira felt a sympathetic twinge of pain at what she had done, but that lasted only the briefest of moments. Kira swung her arm in a huge arc and delivered the baseball into Dukat’s cheek with enough force that he almost spun in a complete circle as he fell to the floor. He gripped his shattered knee in one hand and his face with the other, which was already going a deep purple with heavy bruising.
Kira stood over the old Cardassian, breathing heavily and doing her best to ignore her pain. Her chest, face and back of her head were throbbing. Even with these injuries it was still her leg that screamed the most. She wanted nothing more than to fall to the floor, but she kept on her feet, putting as little weight on her injured leg as possible.
“I...I will destroy you,” howled Dukat, his physical pain laced through his voice equally with his emotional pain.
Kira looked down at her old foe and shook her head. He was a pathetic, insane old man who had nothing but an ancient hatred. She hated him for all the terrible things he had done to her people and to the quadrant. Yet she felt no joy in what she was doing or what she would be forced to finally do. He deserved to die, but that did not mean she had to revel in being the one to deliver the final blow.
“You are a petty, evil man, Dukat. I hoped for years that you’d move on and several times I thought you had. But, you keep coming back and I’m tired of the chase.”
He turned his bloodied face, crunched up in pain and loathing. “I will not stop until you are dead, Nerys!” he hissed.
“I really believe that,” Kira replied with a hint of sorrow. “I’m sorry, but if it’s a choice between you or me, I know that which one the galaxy won’t miss.”
A horrible wheezing rattle resounded from Dukat that Kira realised was laughter. “You think the Galaxy would miss you? And you call me an egomaniac! You’re a monster Kira! Your own people tell their children stories of you to scare them into behaving. The galaxy will be better without you.”
“I don’t disagree, Dukat,” she answered truthfully. Her mind drifted back to what she had done in her life. “I have done terrible, unforgiveable things and I will continue to do more because I have a cause that is greater than me.”
“So do I! I have justice.”
Kira shook her head mournfully. “No you don’t. You have nothing.”
Dukat roared and his hand shot out to grab Kira’s leg. Kira had no option but to strike with her injured leg, which cracked Dukat in the head and left him laying limp on the floor. She stifled a cry as more pain shot up her leg and she stumbled, nearly losing her balance again. When she regained it she looked down at Dukat and thought she might have killed him, but his chest kept rising and falling.
Kira knew she was wasting time. Their fight would not have gone unnoticed and Security would be on their way. She had to end this now. Kira hobbled over to Dukat’s knife and with a great effort managed to bend over and pick it up.
Kira returned to the prone Dukat and looked the knife over as the reality of what she was about to do hit her. This was a terrible crime to commit in the sanctuary of the temple, but she had no choice. She prayed to the Prophets to forgive her this latest trespass.
Suddenly a ball of light came through the wall. It was golden like fire. It paused as it seemed to observe the scene it found. It drifted towards her and Kira gasped as she was bombarded with a frightening sensation. She was not sure what it was but her pagh seemed to recoil from the proximity of the thing. She could not understand it, but it was as if it was radiating pure malevolence and she struggled not to fall to the floor and curl herself up into a ball.
She thought it was going to attack her and she held up the knife before her, though she did not think it would do much against whatever the light was. It seemed to lose interest in her and floated over to Dukat. It hovered over him for a moment and then zipped down, striking Dukat. Dukat’s body convulsed and Kira gasped as she saw his leg snap back into place and that gashes she had opened up on his face suddenly knit back together. Dukat’s eyes shot open and they burned red with fire as he inhaled loudly.
“By the Prophets!” gasped Kira.
Dukat got to his feet. “I am Kosst Amojan,” he spoke his voice eerily different.
Kira took a step back as she heard the name. It was the thing of nightmares. What parents told their children was lurking in the dark depths, ready and waiting to claim their pagh. She had thought the Pah-wraiths were just tall tales until her long dead friend’s wife was possessed by one of the dark entities years ago. She had hoped never to have to face the demons of her people.
“I have found the instrument. It is strong, powerful, unsullied by misplaced faith...fuelled with rage and hatred. It gives itself to me and asks for only one thing.” It looked directly at Kira.
“Prophets protect me.”
“Your Prophets are false.”
Kira knew that if she did not do something she was going to die. Kira let out a cry of defiance and drove the knife for Dukat’s chest, but Dukat caught her wrist and the tip of the blade hovered millimetres from his chest. Kira pushed with all her might but could not close that miniscule distance. With disturbing ease Dukat squeezed and shattered her wrist. She screamed in pain as the knife fell from her limp fingers. The demon inhabiting Dukat flicked its wrist and sent her flying across the room. She hit the ground and skidded to a stop when she impacted a wall. She looked up to see the demon pick up the blade from the floor. It examined the weapon in its hand as if was a mere curiosity.
The demon reached out with its other hand and Kira felt an invisible force pick her up and levitate her off the ground. She tried to move, but was unable, wrapped within the invisible force that suspended her off the ground.
“If I only knew,” said Dukat, his voice no longer ethereal. Kira was sure that he was speaking now, not the demon. “You cannot imagine the power I feel!”
“You don’t know what you’re doing!” she said panicked. “You’ve struck a deal with the devil, Dukat! It will destroy you once it gets what it wants.”
Dukat strode up to her. “Possibly, but not before I get what I want.”
Dukat held the knife up in front of her face, posturing to drive fear into her and it was working. The light of the temple’s flickering candles sparkled across the knife’s shiny edges. Kira knew of several ways to kill someone with a blade and not all of them were quick. She had little doubt that Dukat would know a few and they would be slow and torturous. However, to her surprise he tossed it away.
“And I don’t need this knife to get it,” he explained.
Dukat’s hand reached up and Kira tried to recoil, but was still held firmly in place. He lustfully gazed as her as his warm fingers wrapped around her throat and he started to squeeze.
Dukat tilted his head and with great melancholy said, “My only regret is that you’ll miss the destruction of your miserable planet. The Pah-wraiths will be free and they will burn Bajor and your Prophets.”
Kira saw pure joy and happiness in Dukat’s eyes as he talked about the genocide of her people. He was revelling in this moment. Worst of all she believed that he now had the means to make his threat a reality.
Dukat’s fingers started to tighten and soon her mouth was flapping futilely as she tried to draw in oxygen. Her lungs were burning, her brain screamed for air and her heart thundered in her chest. Tears rolled down her cheeks as blackness nibbled at the edges of her vision, though they were less to do with her inevitable demise, but for the future of Bajor. The last thought that went through Kira’s mind as darkness claimed her was that she had failed her people.
Dukat stared at Kira’s lifeless body held aloft by the power of the being that had joined with him. His fingers were still tight around her throat and he savoured the feeling, the stillness of her body. The being within him had revealed its power, power that meant he could have easily killed Kira without laying a finger on her. However, he would not be denied that simple satisfaction.
This was what he had wanted for two decades. To finally make Kira pay for her corruption of his daughter. She had denied her responsibility to the last, as he expected her to. She was a terrorist, a murderer, a zealot and people like her never admitted what their evil deeds. In their minds they were pure and they did not care for the fate of innocents. All that mattered was how they could use people to further their desires.
Suddenly he reached out with his other hand and grabbed her ear. It was in the way that Bajorans did to each other to read their paghs. He felt something stir within him and Kira’s body spasmed as if she was been electrocuted. After a few seconds his hand left her ear and he released his grip on her ruined throat. At the same time the power that levitated her dissipated and Kira’s corpse collapsed into an undignified heap on the floor. Dukat stared confused at his wayward hand. He was not sure what just happened, his body had acted without his knowledge or direct command. It was the being that was within him that had acted.
“What did you do?” he asked aloud. However, it didn’t seem to want to answer his questions.
“Don’t move! Raise your hands where I can see them and slowly turn around!”
Dukat did as he was ordered, turning to find two armed Bajoran security officers.
“Is that...Gul Dukat?” asked one of the officers.
“I don’t know but we’ll figure it out when he’s locked up. Go check the woman.”
Dukat was ordered to move away from Kira and obeyed. The second officer cautiously passed him to check the body.
“Prophets! It’s Kira Nerys!” said the office in shock. He felt her pulse. “She’s dead.”
“As in the notorious terrorist?” asked the security officer still covering Dukat.
“I’m sure.” He looked up at Dukat. “What on Bajor happened here?”
“Let’s lock this place down until a team can go over the scene. First we secure him.”
The other guard stood and pointed his weapon back at Dukat.
“Okay, place your hands behind your back.”
Dukat sensed it more than he heard it. From within there was a sensation that took him a moment to decipher. He was submitting to these men just because they had weapons. They thought themselves to have the power when the situation was completely the opposite. They were treating him as a mere Cardassian, now he was so much more. Now, even his deepest, darkest desires were within his reach. All he had to do was take advantage of this gift that was bestowed on him.
The security officer stepped closer and went to repeat his command, “I said –”
With speed Dukat did not realise he had he took the Bajoran weapon and snapped his neck like a twig. Without even turning to look at the second Bajoran Dukat’s hand raised the dead Bajoran’s weapon and fired it. It was all so quick that Dukat’s brain was a step behind.
He turned his head to look at the second Bajoran. The Bajoran was staring mouth agape at the blackened stump of his of wrist and struggled not to vomit all over it. The Bajoran managed to pull his eyes from his wound and stared disbelievingly at Dukat.
“Prophets protect –”
“Too late,” interrupted Dukat.
The weapon fell from his hand as he raised it, fingers outstretched, pointing towards the Bajoran. A sense of unimaginable power coursed through him. The Bajoran’s screams was like music to him and a few moments later he was stepping over his third victim.
Dukat exited the temple into the promenade. There was a crowd, attracted by the commotion in the temple. Dukat smiled as he saw the terrified looks on several of the Bajorans as they recognised him. It was time to make them all pay.
Weyoun paused as there was a tone from the door. As the Vorta went to answer it Jake let out a quiet sigh. Weyoun had talked nonstop since he had the room scanned about how to deal with the destruction of the tablet. Jake had just sat there listening. The only thing he did was grow more and more embarrassed about his inexplicable behaviour.
As Weyoun opened the door Jake just hoped that it would not be the Kai. Thankfully it was not, instead it was another Vorta.
“What is it, Gelnon?” Weyoun asked.
“We have a disturbance on the promenade.”
“This is a Bajoran station, let them deal with it,” Weyoun stated simply.
“Unfortunately they seem unable to contain it.”
“Then send the Jem’Hadar. You’re the Founders’ representative to the station; you do not require my permission to maintain order,” said Weyoun with annoyance.
“Of course, Weyoun,” replied Gelnon his outward demeanour not betraying the fact he had been dressed down by his fellow Vorta. “However, it is who is causing this disturbance that I thought would interest you.”
Deep in the pit of Jake’s stomach he knew whom Gelnon would name.
Chapter 10: The Instruments of the Gods
Kai Winn stared in horror at the nightmarish scene that confronted her on the promenade. She had been shocked to hear that there was an incident in the station’s temple and horrified when Dukat had been named as the perpetrator. Much worse was the reports of his terrifying abilities that went past that of any mortal being and the name that accompanied the deranged Cardassian. Her people had wanted for her to immediately evacuate the station, but she had refused. She had not reached where she was by avoiding conflict. She was the Kai and would meet any challenge head on.
She had dismissed her staff, all save one: Solbor. The ancient monk had flatly refused to abandon her despite the various threats she had levelled at him. Winn had been touched by his dedication to her, his willingness to face evil with her. Her old friend had been a source of great strength in the dark years and continued to offer his light to help guide her path. While he was now quite frail in body his spirit and faith had never diminished.
Winn watched as further down the promenade Dukat executed a Bajoran man. Dukat then gripped the man’s ear causing the body to convulse. Winn had to push down her fear as she saw what Dukat had done. It was straight out of the ancient texts that spoke of the Kosst Amojan. Historians were divided as to whether the Kosst Amojan was a particular Pah-wraith or a group identity, regardless whenever that name appeared it was always followed by death and destruction.
One of the most terrifying aspects of the tales was the so called “pagh harvesting” by the Kosst Amojan. In a perverted mirror of what the devout did to feel other’s pagh the Kosst Amojan was said to be able to strip the pagh of the recently deceased. Its reason for doing so was not known. Some said it destroyed the pagh, others claimed it gathered them to feed itself and a few said it did it simply to prevent the Bajorans from joining with the Prophets out of spite and jealousy. Regardless of the reason Winn had just witnessed the act. There was no longer any doubt that Dukat was in league with one of the dark spirits of Bajor and his face showed he was relishing in the slaughter.
“I knew you would come,” spoke out Dukat causing Winn to stutter in her step. He turned to her, a manic smile spread across his ugly face. “I’m honoured by your presence, Kai Winn,” he said sarcastically bowing to her.
“You have done many evil things in your life Dukat, but this surpasses them all,” she called out as calmly as she could. Despite her every sense screaming for her to run Winn strode boldly towards Dukat. She was glad her hands clasped in front of her were hidden under her sleeves as they were shaking violently in fear. “You have let evil into your body and into your soul, but it is not too late to turn your back on hatred.”
Dukat smirked. “I have not missed your people’s naivety.”
“And I have not missed that smug look that was always on your face,” countered Winn coming to a stop several metres from her foe. Even from this distance Winn could feel the malice radiating from Dukat and the thing within him.
“Do you know what’s happening?” asked Dukat.
Winn nodded slowly. “This is the Reckoning.”
“Yes, the final battle between the betrayed and the betrayers. Those who were wrongfully cast out of the Celestial Temple shall have their vengeance. They shall be free and they will tear down this phony reality the false Prophets have created,” explained Dukat with terrible glee. “And I...I am their instrument of justice!”
“You will be defeated by the true Prophets, Dukat.”
Dukat let out a deep laugh that made Winn’s skin crawl. “And where is your champion, Adami?”
“You will refer to me as ‘Kai Winn’ or ‘Your Eminence’, Dukat,” she stated strongly.
Dukat’s lip curled menacingly at her false courage and bowed as he said, “Of course, Your Eminence.” Dukat straightened up and stepped towards Winn, who had to will herself not to flee. “Your Prophet hides from my power. It knows that to face me is to perish!”
“The Prophets are the light of truth and all that is good. They shall snuff the flame of heresy and evil from you and Bajor will prosper,” said Solbor. He stepping from behind Winn to impose himself between her and the advancing demon.
“So your ancient dogsbody speaks,” sneered Dukat as he came to a halt. He glared down at Solbor and continued, “Hear this; I will stand on the surface of Bajor while it burns around me. The cries of your people will echo through the stars and will leave a scar on all beings for the rest of time. For they will know what true power is and the punishment for betrayal. However, you will not live to see it.”
With a casual flick of Dukat’s wrist Solbor’s head violently spun and a sickening crack reverberated around Winn. Winn yelped as she suddenly found herself looking into Solbor’s eyes. As Solbor fell and Winn grabbed him, but was pulled to the floor by his weight.
“NO! Why?” she implored Dukat.
“Because I can,” he stated simply. “You Bajorans were beneath me when I was just a man, but now I am a god! You live only by my whim.”
Winn turned Solbor’s head back around and stroked the wizened face of her companion. His face was stoic, so fast had been his death that there was no sign of fear or surprise. The only sign he was dead was his limp form and still body. Winn was impacted by a sense of loss that she had never felt before. Tears readily cascaded down her cheek and onto her long time friend and ally, staining his robes.
Winn looked up to the monster standing before her. “Then do it. End my life you pathetic, petty monster!”
“No, Adami. You will live to watch as I tear down all you know and love and reduce it to ashes. Only then will I grant you the gift of death.”
To add insult to injury Dukat turned his back on Winn. The intention was obvious, he no longer considered her significant. Winn was the most important person on Bajor, but to whatever Dukat had become she was now less than nothing, no longer worthy of his concern. She was a minor plaything that would be cast aside when the time came.
Winn stared down into Solbor’s open, dead eyes. Her shaking hand gently flowed over his face, closing his eyes to the world and she wept. Kai Winn, head of the Bajoran faith, sat slouched on the floor cradling the body. She was as powerless as a newborn child as she recited a final prayer through her sobs for her old friend and close confidant.
Dukat had been called many horrible things for his treatment of the Bajorans throughout his reign during the occupation and monster was not uncommon. However, now he was truly a monster in every sense of the word and his intentions were abundantly clear. He would see Bajor and the Bajoran people destroyed and now he had the power to do so.
Winn looked up towards where she thought the Celestial Temple was and prayed. She beseeched the Prophets to not abandon her people in the time of their greatest need.
After Weyoun had been called away Jake had been handed to a Bajoran security officer to be taken back to his quarters. Jake had expected one of the Jem’Hadar to do it, but Weyoun and Gelnon had taken the Jem’Hadar to deal with the situation concerning Dukat, which spoke to the seriousness of whatever was happening. Not that Jake was too upset. He felt much more comfortable away from the presence of the Jem’Hadar.
As they came to an intersection he expected the Bajoran officer to take him right, but instead they kept moving forward.
“Wouldn’t it be quicker if we went down there?” he asked the Bajoran lieutenant.
“Security protocols are in effect. We’ll need to take a more roundabout way,” explained the officer.
Several minutes later they were as close as Jake could reckon to...somewhere. Jake found his previous knowledge of the station was not as good as he thought and felt lost in the dim corridors.
“I met you father. The Emissary,” stated the officer.
“Oh,” was Jake’s reply. He was used to anyone and everyone telling him about their encounters with his father.
“He visited my school on a provincial tour. You know the kind of thing, to check on the advancements made since the occupation. Easily the highlight of the year...not that it had much competition in the sleepy town I come from. Do you what I remember the most? He was a big guy, probably not as tall as you but he was tall and broad too. Though I was just a child, so he probably wasn’t as big as my memory makes him out to be.”
“Everything is grander when you’re a kid,” Jake replied still trying to figure out exactly where they were.
“Isn’t it,” agreed the officer. He came to an abrupt stop and turned to Jake. “Here we are.”
Jake looked around confused. They were standing in front of one of the station’s airlocks.
“This isn’t my quarters,” was the best Jake could manage.
“I know.” The Bajoran handed Jake a datapadd. “This has the security and access codes to the shuttle in there. As well as a code that will get you by security challenges from the station and Bajor. Not that you’ll probably need them once you reach Bajor. Just tell them who you are and they’ll most likely let you land on the First Minister’s roof.”
Jake stared down at the padd and then up at the Bajoran. “I don’t understand.”
“This was organised by a joint friend.”
There was only one name that came to mind. “Kira.”
The Bajoran nodded. “I owe her my life. The resistance cell she was part of during the Cardassian occupation freed my father from the Gallitep labour camp. After that my father met my mother and I was born, so I exist because of her.” Jake, as anyone who lived on Bajor, knew of the horrors of the Cardassian labour camps during the occupation and Gallitep was an especially infamous one. He knew that it was no hyperbole that this man owed his existence to Kira and those of her resistance cell. “Something bad is happening on this station. Dukat is on a rampage and security can’t contain him. What’s worse is that I can’t contact Kira, which isn’t unusual, but under these circumstances it is terribly worrying.”
“So you’re letting me escape?”
“You’re the son of the Emissary,” he stated as if it was the only answer required, but Jake’s stare make him continue. “Plus Kira told me to make sure you were safe if something happened to her. I’m not sure if something has, but I can’t be sure of your safety on this station anymore.”
“Weyoun, the Dominion, they won’t like this. They’re going to want answers from you.”
“This is our station, our system and you might not have been born on Bajor, but you are one of us.”
Jake stared at the padd in his hands. Since he had come to the station the only thing he wanted was to leave and go home. However, now that was within his grasp and something tugged at him causing him to hesitate.
“I can’t leave,” he stated.
The security officer gave him a perplexed look. “Why not? If you’re worried about me, don’t be. The worst the Dominion could do is force my CO to reprimand me or transfer me back to Bajor. If it’s flying the shuttle the ship’s computer can look after that well enough.”
Jake stammered. “I just can’t. I don’t know how to explain it...I just feel that there’s something I need to do before I can leave.”
He thought the officer was going to argue, maybe even bundle him into the shuttle and force him to leave. Instead the officer shrugged.
“You’re the Emissary’s son, having a feeling is good enough for me. So if you can’t leave, what do we do now?”
Jake should have expected that question, but it still caught him out. His mind raced as it struggled to find an answer. Finally one came to him.
“Kira told me she’d go to the temple. Maybe she’s still there.” The look of worry on the officer’s face make Jake’s stomach sink and he asked, “Dukat’s on the promenade isn’t he?”
The officer nodded. Jake started to reconsider his decision to stay. He wanted to run the other way, but something was pulling him to go to find Kira. The Lieutenant was right, something was happening on the station. Jake was not sure if it was good or bad, but he could feel that it was of monumental importance.
“We’ll deal with that once we get there, Lieutenant...”
“Lenaris. Lenaris Nanpa,” replied Lenaris.
“Lieutenant Lenaris, how do we get back to the promenade?”
Lenaris gestured back the way they came. “This way.”
Jake fell in behind Lenaris as they headed to meet their fates.
“WHERE ARE YOU?” shouted Dukat.
The being within him hungered to face its foe and to end what had been started so long ago. But its hate was matched by its patience in the knowledge that the confrontation was inevitable. Dukat lacked that resolve and wanted to move onto greater things.
When he shared his being with the Kosst Amojan it had granted him a greater understanding. It had shared how the Prophets’ greed had led them to betray their brethren and seal them in a tiny prison on Bajor so they could jealously hoard their vast realm, the Celestial Temple. However, it did not just shown him the truth, it had shown him true power. Dukat could not help but feel that his former life had been trivial. That his grasp for power had been so small and insignificant compared to what he had been exposed to now. While it had been very satisfying to end Kira’s life, he now knew that he would feel that a hundred fold as he destroyed Bajor. He salivated at the thought of what he would feel once the Kosst Amojan had dealt with the Prophet.
“FACE ME!” Dukat challenged.
“Is this what you’ve become, Dukat?”
Dukat turned and saw the supremely calm Weyoun striding down the promenade with the Vorta Gelnon, the Dominion’s representative to the station.
“Weyoun,” he hissed. “The Prophets are kind,” he mocked. “First they send me their head lackey.” Dukat gestured behind him to where the pitiful Kai Winn remained, defeated and weeping over a corpse like a child. “Now they send my old friend and once equal.”
“I see you are still the petty man who failed the Dominion all those years ago,” said Weyoun condescendingly.
“I failed! You dare say I failed, betrayer! You killed my daughter!” Dukat felt the hatred within him surge, much to the approval of the Kosst Amojan.
“She was a traitor by her own admission. There can be only one punishment for treason.”
Dukat struggled to control his rage. He wanted to tear Weyoun and everyone within reach to pieces, but the being within kept him in check. It cautioned him not to be so easily manipulated and blinded to what was happening. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply and understood the truth of the situation. Unlike Winn who had genuinely come to try and talk him down Weyoun, sensibly, had no such haughty goals.
Dukat reopened his eyes and stared straight at Weyoun, an enforced calm flowed over him as he spoke, “Yes, treachery is the greatest crime in the universe. You will all see that soon. Bajor will pay for the false Prophets’ betrayal of the Pah-wraiths – the true Prophets!”
“Really, Dukat,” Weyoun scoffed loudly. “You’ve fallen to superstition and rhetoric. You have changed. You are more pathetic than before.”
“Weyoun, I can see what you’re doing. You are trying to distract me to keep me from my task. Do you not think I know your Jem’Hadar are moving above us, ready to strike?”
Dukat gestured to empty space above them along the upper level of the promenade. With a subtle movement Gelnon sent the command and the Jem’Hadar unshrouded above him and opened fire. With a wave of his hand the blasts reversed direction and killed the three Jem’Hadar shooters. Thanks to the Pah-wraith’s warning he had been more than prepared for their assault.
“You have no idea what I’m capable of Weyoun.” A wide smile crossed Dukat’s lips as he continued, “But I’ll show you.”
Dukat reached out his hand, invisible power coursed towards the Vorta. With surprising speed, Weyoun pushed Gelnon in front of him. A surprised look came to Gelnon’s face as he was suddenly raised off the ground. Violent spasms overtook the Vorta as the power of the Pah-wraith flowed through him destroying his internal organs and rupturing his blood vessels. Blood streamed from the Vorta’s eyes, mouth, nose and ears as he died an excruciating death. Dukat released the dead Vorta, letting his bloodied corpse fall to the floor.
“JEM’HADAR!” shouted Weyoun as he backpedalled towards escape.
More Jem’Hadar shimmered into view and created a shield between Weyoun and Dukat. Dukat waved his hand and sent them all flying, including the Vorta. With satisfaction he saw Weyoun slam against a wall and fall unconscious to the ground.
The Jem’Hadar were hardier and got back to their feet with speed and grace. Two of them charged him. Their rifles were equipped with bayonets and their intention was clearly to skewer him on the end of their weapons. With phenomenal speed Dukat dodged the first Jem’Hadar’s attack. He grabbed the Jem’Hadar’s weapon hand and spun him around, using him to deflect the second Jem’Hadar’s stab. The second Jem’Hadar’s momentum carried him into the bayonet of the first Jem’Hadar’s weapon. With a look of anger and confusion the Jem’Hadar stared at the end of the bayonet that was deeply impaled within his chest. Dukat jerked the first Jem’Hadar back, freeing the bayonet and allowing the second Jem’Hadar to fall to the ground, his life quickly ended from the fatal wound.
Another Jem’Hadar fired his rifle, but Dukat simply moved the Jem’Hadar in his grip into the path of the blast. He dropped the dead Jem’Hadar and motioned with his hand sending a second blast curving around him and killing a Jem’Hadar who was readying to shoot him in the back. With another motion he lifted the Jem’Hadar whose fire had only managed to kill two of his comrades and violently slammed him into the overhang of the upper level, the Jem’Hadar’s body was pulverised as Dukat slammed him with enough force to shatter his bones and burst his internal organs. He released the body and let it fall like a ragdoll.
Dukat reached out at a fifth Jem’Hadar, raising him from the floor and destroyed him from the inside as he had done to Gelnon. Dukat released the body and smiled with satisfaction as he surveyed the scene around him. The Bajorans had been easy, many were too overcome with terror to run, let alone fight back. This had been more entertaining. The Jem’Hadar had all fought to the last, despite knowing they were hopelessly outmatched and now a platoon lay dead at his feet. At the back of his mind he registered an old memory, the Jem’Hadar usually operated in a platoon of nine and only eight had fallen today. He had sensed nine shrouded Jem’Hadar had accompanied the Vorta at the beginning. One was missing.
Suddenly he heard a roar and turned to face it. A blade slammed into his chest as the ninth and final Jem’Hadar revealed himself. The force of the impact sent Dukat staggering back several steps, but he did not fall. The Jem’Hadar looked at him in surprise as he smiled back. Dukat took hold of the Jem’Hadar’s trigger hand and stepped back sliding off the blade. The Jem’Hadar tried to pull free, but could not. Neither could he free a finger to reach the rifle’s trigger. Dukat started to twist the Jem’Hadar’s hand and turn the weapon around, which the Jem’Hadar could not prevent even with both his hands on the rifle. The Jem’Hadar lashed out, punching and striking Dukat but it had no effect. Dukat savoured the look of defeat on the Jem’Hadar as the barrel of the weapon was pointed at his face. Dukat’s finger slipped up to the trigger and depressed it. The Jem’Hadar collapsed to the floor, headless.
Dukat looked down at the dead Jem’Hadar surrounding him. At his feet were the most fearsome soldiers in the known galaxy. Two quadrants quaked at their name and many yielded rather than face their might. He, Dukat, had just humbled them.
There was a moan and Dukat’s attention was diverted to a stirring Weyoun. The Vorta looked up and saw Dukat standing over the Jem’Hadar and panic flared in his eyes. Weyoun unsteadily got to his feet and stumbled towards escape.
Dukat laughed at the still stunned Vorta’s attempt to flee and simply reached out towards him, halting Weyoun in his tracks.
“I hope you aren’t trying to leave, Weyoun. We still have things to discuss.”
Unopposed he walked towards the confused Vorta, who struggled to free himself from his invisible bondage. The being within him made him aware of two more people behind him heading for Kai Winn, one it did not recognise, but the other both of them did. The being suggested he deal with them, but Dukat dismissed the idea. They were no threat and would only be concerned with rescuing Winn. Even that did not matter as Dukat was sure that there was nowhere she could flee that would be beyond his reach now.
He finally reached Weyoun and spun him around to face him. Weyoun’s eyes were wide with fear as Dukat towered over him.
“I’m disappointed in you, Weyoun,” he said lowly. “Leaving without saying goodbye is very rude!”
Dukat backhanded Weyoun, snapping his head to the side and causing the Vorta to cry in pain. He delivered a second, third and fourth blow bouncing Weyoun’s head from side to side. Weyoun’s head lolled forward and Dukat grabbed his chin and lifted his head so Weyoun’s watery eyes were looking into his.
“I’ve yet to thank you for what you did all those years ago.”
“Dukat, please,” muttered Weyoun through bloody lips.
The Vorta’s meagre plea infuriated Dukat and he roughly released his chin. However, the Vorta did not fall to the ground. Dukat remembered his other powers and released the Vorta allowing him to crumple to the ground.
“You took everything from me!” he spat venomously at the cowering Vorta. “Then you cast me out like a piece of trash!” Dukat lashed out with his boot into Weyoun. He did not care where he was kicking, he just struck repeatedly. “The humiliations I have suffered because of you!”
Huffing and puffing Dukat stopped and looked down at the whimpering person at his feet. He had dreamed of this for so many years. He had thought that Weyoun was beyond his reach and that the smarmy Vorta would escape retribution for the decisions he had made. He effortlessly lifted the Vorta up off his feet by his throat.
“I will enjoy squeezing the life out of you with my bare hands, Weyoun. If only I can do so to the end of time and you would come close to feeling the pain I have felt for your betrayal and the death of my daughter.”
Weyoun’s fingers clawed at Dukat’s hand, trying to pry the fingers off him. “You’re...insane,” he forced out.
“No, I am vengeance.”
Dukat’s hand tightened on Weyoun’s throat. He was careful not to snap the Vorta’s weak neck under his fingers. Dukat had enjoyed watching Kira die this way. It was so intimate and personal, which made it impossible for him to resist. Terror filled Weyoun’s eyes as he felt himself suffocating. His hands lashed out to attack or distract Dukat, but Dukat thought that even without the being within him he would not have been troubled by Weyoun’s meek attack.
A commanding voice suddenly echoed down the promenade, “It is time Kosst Amojan. The instruments have been chosen. The Reckoning will begin.”
Dukat turned and his surprise at his opponent made him drop Weyoun. The being inside of him willed him towards the true objective of the day and away from the minor distractions it had allowed him to pursue. Now it was time for it to take charge. It was time for it to gain its vengeance.
Chapter 11: The Reckoning
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.
Chapter 12: The Sorrow of Victory
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.”
Chapter 13: Bajor Reborn
Jake found himself back in the familiar empty white space. He looked around and realised he was back in control. The presence he felt inside him was gone. He held his hands up in front of him and wiggled his fingers just to make sure. The Prophet had truly left him.
“Hello?” he called out. “Prophet?”
His words disappeared into the endless expanse with silence as his only reply.
“HELLO?” he called again.
Jake spun around and saw his wife and child. Both looked confused and scared.
Jake embraced them tightly. A surge of relief that he wasn’t alone and that his family was there filled him. His wife held him as tightly as he did her. He felt her thundering heart against his chest. Her relief to see him was just as strong as his.
“How did you get here?” he asked as they broke their long embrace.
“I don’t know. We were on Bajor and there was this light. Everything went…then we were here with you,” his wife tried to explain, though she seemed no clearer on the facts than Jake was. She looked around them and asked the inevitable question, “Where are we?”
“You’re in the Celestial Temple.”
As seemed to be the way with where they were Jake turned to see his father was suddenly standing next to them.
His father grabbed his shoulders and squeezed. “You did well, Jake-o.”
“Is that…your…the Emissary!” said Korena as she bowed in supplication.
“Dad, I want you to meet my wife, Korena. And our son, Ben,” he said with absolute pride.
Sisko smiled widely at Jake’s family. It was a look that Jake had longed to see from his father, but had resigned himself to never receiving. It was one of happiness and of pride in Jake.
“I have been waiting for this for…a while,” his father said. He reached out and hugged Korena, who still seemed overwhelmed by the entire situation.
“Thank you, Emissary,” she said shakily.
“Ben is fine. We’re family,” he said with a warm smile to Korena.
The mostly stunned look on his wife started to change to a smile. Jake’s father could always win over people quickly.
“Ben,” she repeated. She looked down at her son and said, “Benny, this is your grandfather.”
His father turned his attention to Jake’s son. He knelt down in front of Benny and said,
“Hi, Benny. That’s a nice name.”
He stretched out his hand, which Benny cautiously took. Jake didn’t think it was possible, but his father’s smile got wider as he shook hands with his grandson.
“I thought you said he had gone to the Celestial Temple?” said Benny addressing Jake and Korena.
“I have. So have you,” stated his father.
“Does that mean we’re…I was underground and…” struggled Jake to ask the question that was on the tip of his tongue.
His father stood back up and said, “You were all brought here by the Prophets.”
“Everyone who is of Bajor.”
“Everyone? As in all of Bajor?” asked Jake with disbelief. “But why?”
“To celebrate in the Prophets’ victory over evil. It’s the final part of the prophecy.”
His father cast his hands wide before him. The whiteness that encompassed them started to fade as everything around them changed. Jake gasped as it all became clear.
“Welcome,” his father continued. “To the rebirth of Bajor!”