Production no.: 489
Written by: Jane Espenson
Directed by: Les Landau
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: February 24, 1996
Rosalind Chao .............
Robert Symonds ..........
Camille Saviola ............
Hana Hatae ................
Richard Libertini ..........
David Carpenter ..........
Grace Zandarski ..........
Laura Jane Salvato ......
After spending way too long in the holosuites, Bashir and O'Brien rush to get O'Brien's quarters cleared of all the broken equipment strewn around, before Keiko sees it. Her expedition on Bajor is finally over, and she's coming back to the station to stay. When her shuttle arrives, O'Brien is waiting at the airlock. Molly comes out first, followed by her mother. The girl tells her father she has a little brother, and points to Keiko's abdomen. "Surprise," Keiko says. O'Brien is definitely surprised, and a bit flustered. They had decided to start trying for a second child, the last time she was on the station, but he had expected it to take more than just one night. "I guess we just got lucky this time," says Keiko.
In Ops, Vedek Porta arrives with a young newlywed Bajoran couple who are here to see the Emissary. Kira escorts them into Sisko's office, informing him that the couple are here for his blessing. Uncomfortable, Sisko obliges, and the couple are thrilled. "It isn't that bad, is it?" Dax asks after they're gone. "Being the Emissary? A few ceremonies, an occasional blessing..." "I didn't say it was that bad," Sisko says. "It's just hard getting used to being a religious icon." "Really? I think I'd like it," Dax says, kidding. At that moment, Kira calls to tell Sisko something is coming through the wormhole.
The wormhole opens to emit a tattered, broken Bajoran lightship, drifting. The ship is about 300 years old, and there is one lifesign aboard, a Bajoran. Sisko has the ship tractored into range and the passenger beamed to the infirmary. He and Kira go down there, and when the patient wakes up, Kira asks who he is. The man smiles. "I am the Emissary."
He tells them he was caught in an ion storm; his ship was damaged, and he was injured, but then an opening appeared in space, and he found himself speaking to the Prophets. They spoke to him, in the forms of people he knows, and healed him. Sisko asks what year he left, and the man says 9174; he is startled when Kira tells him that was over 200 years ago. "Two hundred years -- my wife -- my parents," he whispers, overwhelmed. Bashir says they can contact his descendants if he tells them his name. The man says his name is Akorem Laan, and he has no descendants; he and his wife were childless.
Kira recognizes the name; Akorem is a poet whose works have endured to the present day. "People still read my work, after all this time," he marvels. "Perhaps that's part of the Prophets' plan for me...It's not clear to me yet why they made me their Emissary. But I know they gave me back my life for a reason." When Sisko tells him Major Kira can fill him in on his lost time, Akorem reacts in surprise to her name. "Your family would be part of the artist d'jarra," he says, confused. Kira explains to Bashir and Sisko that Bajor used to have a strict caste system called the d'jarras, and tells Akorem that their people gave up the d'jarras to fight the Cardassians during the Occupation. Of course, this is the first time Akorem has even heard of the Occupation. "It seems you're right, Captain -- a great deal has happened since I've been gone."
Sisko tells Dax a bit later that a lot of the prophecies about the Emissary make more sense with Akorem in the picture. "Every text I've read says that the Prophets will name their Emissary by calling him to them, that he would find the Celestial Temple. That there, the Prophets would give him back his life." They may not have literally done that for Sisko, Dax reminds him, but they did help him get his life back on track. However, Sisko says he wasn't the first one to find the wormhole or meet the Prophets, Akorem was. Dax wonders, if he doesn't believe in the prophecies, then why is he using them to justify giving up his position? "I guess I was looking for something to convince me that I was making the right decision," he admits. He has decided to step aside. "Akorem will make a far better Emissary than I ever was. He's Bajoran, he's a revered poet, and he wants the job. Besides, Starfleet will be thrilled. They never liked the idea that the Bajorans saw me as a religious figure." Vedek Porta, he adds, believes that the Bajoran people will accept Akorem.
"So you're off the hook," observes Dax. "How does it feel?" "It feels...good," Sisko replies thoughtfully. "No more ceremonies to attend, no more blessings to give, no more prophecies to fulfill. I'm just a Starfleet officer again. All I have to worry about are the Klingons, the Dominion and the Maquis. I feel like I'm on vacation."
Bashir catches O'Brien walking by on the Promenade, and drags him into Quark's, congratulating him on the news. O'Brien says he should be getting home, but Bashir persuades him to have just one drink. "Quark, did you hear? Chief O'Brien is having a baby." "I thought your females carried your young," Quark says, confused. "My wife," O'Brien clarifies. "My wife is having the baby." Quark reminisces a bit about when Nog was a baby, and how he used to read to him. "'See Brak acquire. Acquire, Brak, acquire.'"
O'Brien's smile is a little wan as Bashir chatters to him about the coming blessed event. Behind them, Quark passes the news to Worf: "Did you hear? Keiko's going to have another baby." Worf looks a little panicked. "Now?!" O'Brien assures him that it's not for another seven months, and goes on to tell Bashir about how Worf delivered Molly when he and Keiko were trapped together during a shipwide crisis on the Enterprise. Bashir tells Worf jokingly that he'll be sure and call him when the time comes. "Unfortunately, I will be away from the station at that time," Worf says quickly. "Far away. Visiting my parents. On Earth. Excuse me." He flees; Bashir and O'Brien chuckle. Then the Chief confesses that he was hoping to spend more alone-time with Keiko now that Molly's a little older. "Don't get me wrong, I know that once I hold my little baby in my arms, I'll be the happiest man in the world, but I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon." He suggests a game of darts. "Don't you have to get home?" Bashir asks. O'Brien says, "Yeah," and leaves.
Akorem makes his first public appearance, on the Promenade. Odo is a little surprised to hear Kira calling Akorem the Emissary, when two days ago, she thought it was Sisko. "He made it clear he wants to step aside," she says, a little conflicted about it herself. "Does that mean he never really was the Emissary?" Odo asks. "No," Kira says. Odo is confused: they can't both be the Emissary. "Forgive me, Major, I don't mean to be difficult, but your faith seems to have led you to something of a contradiction." But Kira tells him she doesn't see it that way; Odo doesn't understand, and admits it. "That's the thing about faith," she says. "If you don't have it, you can't understand it, and if you do, no explanation is necessary."
The speech begins. Akorem tells the crowd that he believes now that he knows why the Prophets kept him with them for so long. "Bajor suffered a great wound while I was with the Prophets: the Cardassian Occupation. The Bajor that I have returned to has lost its way. People no longer follow the path the Prophets laid out for them. They no longer follow their d'jarras. Artists have become soldiers, priests have become merchants, farmers have become politicians. We must heal the wounds of the Occupation. We must return to our d'jarras." By doing so, Akorem goes on, Bajor can go back to what it was when he knew it, as if the Occupation never happened. The reaction is mixed; some people begin clapping, and after a moment, Kira rather uncertainly joins the applause. Sisko, watching on a monitor, wonders what's going to happen now.
Sisko voices some of his concerns to Akorem later, along with Vedek Porta, who has become Akorem's assistant. Akorem truly believes that this is what the Prophets want, but Porta adds that the Emissary doesn't expect it to happen overnight. But they hope that eventually the people will support enforcing the d'jarras by legal sanction. Sisko points out that caste-based discrimination is something that will cause the Federation to reject Bajor's application to join; Akorem says he's already discussed this with Kai Winn, and it's a sacrifice they're willing to make. Sisko isn't exactly surprised. "As a Starfleet officer, I am bound by oath not to interfere in Bajoran affairs. But, as a friend to Bajor, I have to say giving up Federation membership would be a mistake." For answer, Akorem grips his ear. "Your pagh is strong. I see now why Kai Opaka believed you were the Emissary, and why Winn fears you."
The replimat is crowded the next morning, and a Bajoran woman insists on giving up her chair to Kira, whose d'jarra is of higher rank. Kira is uncomfortable. "I guess I'll have to get used to being treated like that," she remarks to Sisko, who remembers how odd it felt when he was promoted to lieutenant, and was called "sir" by his friends who were still ensigns. "That's different," Kira says. "You'd earned the right to be treated with respect. I haven't done anything." "Sounds like you have some reservations about bringing back the d'jarras," Sisko observes. Kira admits that she does have questions. "The Emissary is asking something very difficult of us, but we have to have faith that he's guiding us toward something." "Even if what he's guiding you towards doesn't include the Federation?" Sisko asks. Kira tells him, "It's not our place to question the Emissary...Maybe you never realized this, Captain, but we would have tried to do whatever you asked of us when you were Emissary, no matter how difficult it seemed."
Sisko has a nightmare that night, and decides to go out and walk around on the Promenade. As he does so, suddenly the lights seem to dim, and he comes face to face with Kai Opaka. "Who are you?" she asks. Sisko asks what she's doing here, but she only repeats the question. "Don't you know me?" he asks. "How can I know someone who doesn't know himself?" she says. Then she is gone, and the Promenade is back to normal.
He has Bashir examine him; the doctor remarks that he must have had an "orb shadow", something sometimes experienced by people who have been exposed to an Orb. They're triggered by an excess of neuropeptides, which Bashir says he can give him something for. "Of course if I do, you risk never finding out." He tells Sisko the Bajoran belief is that you only have a shadow if you ignore what the Prophets tried to tell you through the Orb. "So, any idea what they might have been trying to tell you?" "Sure," Sisko says. "That I have too many neuropeptides rolling around in my head."
Kira makes an effort to explore the destiny that her d'jarra dictates for her -- to be an artist. She tries making clay sculptures of birds, but they're all awful. When she discusses it later with Vedek Porta, he tells her it was because she didn't completely give herself over to what she was doing. Kira protests that she was up half the night; she has a whole flock of those birds. "But you're still wearing that uniform," he says. "You're still clinging to a false life. You must do what the Emissary has asked and follow your d'jarra with all your heart. Because if you give yourself over to the Prophets, they will guide you along the path they have chosen for you. And you'll know more joy than you ever thought possible."
O'Brien spends some time with his wife and child, determined to be a dutiful husband even if it kills him. But Keiko still has some follow-up work to do from the survey, and Molly wants to color by herself. O'Brien looks somewhat longingly at the kilt he wore in his Irish warrior holoprogram with Julian, and Keiko notices.
As Sisko and Kira go over some station business, she mentions setting up a meeting for him with a Major Jatarn. Sisko has just gotten a communique from Starfleet Command. "I was sent here to help bring Bajor into the Federation. That doesn't look like much of a possibility anymore. As far as Starfleet's concerned, I have failed my mission." "That's not fair," says Kira. "It's not your fault." "It is from where they're sitting," Sisko replies. "The irony is, Starfleet was always trying to get me to distance myself from 'that Emissary business.' And now that I have..." Somehow he can't help feeling that indeed he did fail.
Sisko then asks what she wanted him to meet Major Jatarn about. Reluctantly, Kira says Jatarn would make an excellent first officer. She is resigning her commission to follow her d'jarra. "I'm sorry. The last thing I want to do is to add to your problems, but this is something I have to do." "I understand," Sisko says. Holding back her emotions, Kira adds, "If you don't hit it off with Major Jatarn, I can think of a few other people. It shouldn't be that hard to find someone to replace me." Sisko looks at her with very similar emotions. "I don't doubt that I can find someone to fill your post. But to replace you?"
O'Brien pops into Quark's and finds Bashir there, playing darts with Morn, but the doctor readily breaks it off to have a pint with his friend. It's clear that the two men have missed each other's company. Sure, there are other people with whom they can play darts or just hang out, but "it's not the same", as they say simultaneously. Quark tells them they still have their regular holosuite reservation tonight, but O'Brien has to get home, and Bashir's heart isn't in it without him.
Odo calls Sisko down to the Promenade, where a Bajoran monk is lying dead on the floor, having fallen from one of the crosswalks. When Sisko asks if anyone saw it happen, Porta says he did. As a matter of fact, he pushed him. The monk, whose name is Imutta, is from the "unclean" d'jarra of those who prepare the dead for burial. Porta says that he asked Imutta to set the right example and resign from the order, but Imutta refused. "You killed him because of his d'jarra?" Sisko asks incredulously. "I had to," replies Porta. "If a vedek can't do what the Emissary has asked of us, how can we expect anyone else to?" He seems to see absolutely nothing wrong with his action, and looks surprised to be hauled off to a holding cell.
Sisko has a talk with Akorem, who says he regrets what happened. "But change is never easy. The road the Prophets have asked us to walk won't always be a smooth one." "And forcing people to follow their d'jarras won't make it any smoother," says Sisko. "What happened on the Promenade was just the beginning." When Akorem says he was only fulfilling the will of the Prophets, Sisko asks how he knows that. "I'm the Emissary," Akorem replies simply. Sisko tells him, "And what you've done with the position has made me wish I had never given it up."
"But you did," Akorem reminds him. "And it was the right decision. You never truly accepted the role in the first place." "I'm willing to accept it now," says Sisko, with conviction. Akorem has left him no choice. Both men realize that they can't ask the Bajoran people to choose between them; that would mean chaos. Akorem, of course, thinks the division wouldn't last long. After all, he was the first to find the wormhole and be with the Prophets, and they gave him back his life. Sisko replies that there's only one way to be sure who the Prophets meant to be the Emissary, and that is to ask them.
Together, they go into the wormhole in a runabout, and wait. Eventually, they both find themselves in that eerie, timeless realm that the Prophets dwell in. The Prophets appear. "Why are you here?" one asks. "To prove to this nonbeliever that you sent me to put Bajor back on the right path," Akorem replies. "Please, tell him you chose me to be the Emissary. Tell him that I fulfilled the ancient prophecies, that I was the first to find the Celestial Temple. I was the first to meet with you. He came to you centuries later." The Prophets look at him as if they have no idea what he's talking about. After all, they live outside linear time; "first" and "later" have no meaning for them.
"The Bajorans believe that you are their Prophets," Sisko tells them. "That you have chosen one of us to be your Emissary." "We are of Bajor," an alien says cryptically, and they all seem perplexed by Sisko's lack of comprehension. Sisko asks why they saved Akorem's life; they say he was injured. "We kept him with us." "So that I would be spared the Occupation, so that I could bring the d'jarras back to Bajor," Akorem insists. Sisko asks the Prophets if that's true.
"The d'jarras are part of what the Sisko would call the past," the Prophets answer at last. "The Sisko taught us that for you, what was can never be again." "If the d'jarras belong in the past," Akorem argues, "why did you send me into the future?" "For the Sisko," a Prophet replies. And now Akorem realizes that Sisko really is the Emissary, and that he, Akorem, was wrong about everything.
"You should have let me die," the poet says, broken. "We still can," a Prophet says. They could easily return him to the moment they found him, and allow him to die. But Sisko tells them no; they can return him to his own time, uninjured. The Prophets consider this, and one says Akorem would remember nothing of what has happened. "I could be with my wife and family," Akorem realizes. "I'm ready to go home." And the Prophets send him.
Sisko is alone with the Prophets now. One, in the form of Kai Opaka, asks why he stays here. "Because I still have questions." "We are of Bajor," she tells him. Sisko struggles to understand. "What does that mean?" She looks at him. "You are of Bajor."
As Keiko works on something in their quarters, O'Brien tries his best not to seem bored. Finally Keiko can't take it any more. She tells her husband that she ran into Julian the other day, and he seemed depressed. "He'd never admit it, but he really misses you." "Poor guy," says O'Brien. "No family to come home to every night." Keiko suggests brightly that he go find Bashir and cheer him up, and O'Brien looks like a little kid whose mother has just told him he can go outside and play. He heads for the door, but stops for a moment, looking back at Keiko. "I'm a lucky man." After he leaves, Keiko calls Bashir. "Julian, it's about Miles. I promised I wouldn't tell anyone, but he's been really depressed lately..."
Sisko is sitting in Quark's when Kira presents him with one of her clay birds. They talk a little about the speech he gave yesterday, explaining things to the public. Kira thinks everyone was relieved to hear that the Prophets didn't say anything about bringing back the d'jarras.
As for Akorem, one of his most famous works, which had been unfinished, is now complete. "This is confusing," Kira exclaims. "The last time I read this poem, it ended after the twelfth stanza. If the timeline's been changed, then why do I remember things the way they used to be?" "The Prophets work in mysterious ways," Sisko replies. Just then a Bajoran engineer approaches with a teenage girl. The man asks if there's any chance Sisko could give the girl, his daughter, a blessing on her ih'tanu ceremony, as she's turning fourteen. There was a time when Sisko would have winced at such a request, but now, he says quite sincerely that he'd be happy to. He watches them go with a smile. After all, he is the Emissary.
The original title of this episode was "The Other Emissary".