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Production no.: 461
Written by: David S. Cohen & Martin A. Winer
Directed by: Les Landau
Stardate: 48543.2 
First satellite airdate: February 11, 1995
Tracy Scoggins .....
Wendy Robie ........
Erick Avari ...........
Jessica Hendra .....

A team of two Cardassian scientists is coming to the station to help with the deploying of a subspace relay in the Gamma Quadrant. This will allow communication through the wormhole for the first time. Sisko, Odo, and Dax are looking over the designated quarters when Quark enters with two bottles of kanar, intended to make the Cardassians feel at home. The kanar has been in his storeroom since the Occupation, and Dax, sniffing it, tells Quark it's gone bad, much to the Ferengi's chagrin.

Kira comes into Sisko's office later with Vedek Yarka, who says it's urgent that he sees the Emissary. "I am here with a warning from the Prophets. They don't want you to let the Cardassians come aboard this station. If you do, you will bring destruction on us all." He explains that dramatic statement by telling them about Trakor's Third Prophecy: "'When the river wakes, stirred once more to Janir's side, three vipers will return to their nest in the sky...When the vipers try to peer through the temple gates, a sword of stars will appear in the heavens. The temple will burn, and the gates will be cast open.'"

Kira notes that the Qui'al Dam was recently put back into operation to divert water to the city of Janir. Yarka interprets the "vipers" to be the Cardassian scientists, and DS9 as their "nest in the sky". Sisko is polite, but finds the vedek's words hard to swallow, to say the least. Not to mention the fact that only two Cardassians are coming. Yarka insists there will be three. He has failed to get the Bajoran Assembly or the Kai to listen to him, so he is coming to the Emissary. But Sisko gives him the only answer he can. "Vedek, I have the utmost respect for your beliefs, but I have no intention of calling this project off." Yarka says he and his followers will remain on the station and pray that he changes his mind. After he leaves, Sisko tells Kira to have Odo find out what he can about Yarka.

When Ulani Belor and Gilora Rejal, the Cardassian scientists, arrive, Sisko and Kira are there to greet them with due diplomatic formality, which the scientists return. Once the greetings are over, they are able to converse in a more relaxed fashion. Ulani thanks Kira especially, since she's sure this project wouldn't have happened if Kira had been opposed to working with them. "I'll work with anyone who's interested in peace," says Kira. "I'm glad we already have so much in common," smiles Ulani pleasantly.

The Cardassians convene in the wardroom later with Sisko, O'Brien, and Dax to discuss what they'll be doing. Gilora immediately rubs O'Brien the wrong way, as she seems to criticize the phase variance in the transceiver coils he designed for a previous experiment involving soliton pulses. The plan is to make a few adjustments to DS9's signaling array, then take the Defiant to the Gamma Quadrant to deploy the relay and begin tests. After Ulani and Gilora start off for their quarters, Sisko remarks, "Those are about the two friendliest vipers I have ever met." Then Ulani comes back briefly. "Commander, I almost forgot to tell you. Another colleague of ours, Dejar, will be arriving later today." When she exits again, Kira has a stricken expression. "Three vipers, just like in the prophecy."

Odo gives Sisko his findings on Yarka, who it turns out was actually stripped of his rank as Vedek two months ago, officially because of "teachings not in keeping with the Bajoran faith." Odo has learned, however, that the real reason was because Yarka led protests against the Vedek Assembly when they endorsed the peace treaty with Cardassia. Sisko guesses that Yarka could be using the prophecy as a tool against the treaty, and Odo agrees that Yarka's agenda is probably coloring his view of the prophecy, "just as your agenda colors how you see it." Sisko protests that he doesn't have an "agenda". He wants the project to succeed, but if he thought the communications relay would damage the wormhole, he would stop it. "That's not the agenda I was referring to, Commander," says Odo. "I was referring to your desire to distance yourself from the title of Emissary. It's just an observation, of course, but it's always seemed to me that you've never been comfortable with it."

Sisko admits that he can't deny that. "Are you suggesting that I'm dismissing this prophecy too easily because I don't want to be the Emissary?" "I'm not suggesting anything," replies Odo. "But it's been my experience that all humanoids have an agenda of some sort, and that their agendas can influence them without their even realizing it."

On the Promenade, Bashir tells Kira about Morn visiting the infirmary after having a bad glass of kanar on the house at Quark's. Then Yarka approaches Kira in hopes of convincing her to persuade the Emissary to reconsider his decision. "Don't you believe in the Prophecies?...And don't you believe that Commander Sisko is the Emissary?" "Vedek," Kira says, "you have to understand my position here. Commander Sisko is my superior officer. I have to deal with him on that basis first." Yarka smiles. "So, you do believe he's the Emissary. You just don't want him to know that." He understands that Kira wants to keep her faith and her work separate, but tells her that that's no longer possible. "The Prophets have chosen you to help the Emissary make this decision, a decision that has profound implications for all of Bajor...If you turn your back on them now, you're abandoning your faith. And without your faith, Nerys, what do you have left?"

Dax and O'Brien sit in Quark's with Ulani and Gilora, who are pleased to learn that Dax has an appreciation for Cardassian literature. Quark brings over the third member of their team, Dejar, who is greeted coolly by the other two; it appears that neither Ulani nor Gilora likes her much. They also don't like the Cardassian food Quark serves them, as they admit to Dax and O'Brien. Working in the Science Ministry gives them a chance to have offworld food. "Yes, we're actually quite spoiled," says Dejar pointedly. "Some of us even think of ourselves as better than the average Cardassian."

Working with O'Brien later in Ops, Gilora is dismayed at the changes he has made, and O'Brien can't help but react with annoyance to her tone. She also acts as if she alone is in charge. "Fine, I'll just sit here quietly," says the Chief, miffed. "In that case, could you get me a cup of redleaf tea?" asks Gilora.

The Defiant heads into the wormhole; the transceiver will be in place on the station in four hours. As they are getting ready to deploy the relay, Dax notes a rogue comet approaching, one with unusually high concentrations of silithium. "The sword of stars," Kira says without thinking. Ulani looks at her with puzzlement. "That's a very colorful way to describe a comet, Major." "It's just a figure of speech," Kira replies, a bit embarrassed by her outburst. Looking at a console, Ulani says it will pass near the wormhole, but not close enough to interfere with the project.

Once they're in position, Sisko has a word in private with Kira about the "sword of stars" remark; she promises it won't happen again. "I take it, Major, that you believe the prophecy is coming true?" Sisko asks. "Yes, I do," replies Kira. "...Look at what's happened already. The river has returned to Janir, the three vipers, now the sword of stars, each of them predicted by Trakor's prophecy. And then there's you, the Emissary. You're here. You have a decision to make, just like in the prophecy."

"Do you really believe that I'm the Emissary?" asks Sisko. Kira nods. "I guess I always have. I never wanted to admit it to myself. It's hard to work for someone who's a religious icon." Sisko looks troubled. "I hope I don't offend your beliefs," he tells her, "but I don't see myself as an icon, religious or otherwise. I'm a Starfleet officer, and I have a mission to accomplish. If I call it off, it has to be for some concrete reason, something solid, something Starfleet." Kira gives him a possibility: the Prophets, or the wormhole aliens, know the past, present and future, so it's possible they really did communicate their future knowledge to Trakor, who wrote it down. "And now, three thousand years later, we are seeing those events unfold. To me, that reasoning sounds concrete, solid. I'd even call it Starfleet." "But," Sisko points out, "that all hinges on how you interpret an ancient text that's been translated and re-translated over the centuries -- words that were couched in metaphor to begin with. I'm sorry, Major, but where you see a sword of stars, I see a comet. Where you see vipers, I see three scientists. And where you see the Emissary, I see a Starfleet officer." He then gets the call from Dax that they're ready to deploy the relay.

On DS9, Gilora continues to insist on doing the bulk of the work herself, and is annoyed further when she discovers more changes O'Brien has made. Finally the real reason comes out why she's so inclined to dismiss him: he's a male. "Men just don't seem to have a head for this sort of thing. That's why women dominate the sciences." "Maybe on Cardassia," O'Brien retorts. "But on this station, this man is Chief of Operations, and I know more about these systems than anyone, including you. I think I know what the problem is, so if you want to get that transceiver on line, hand me the laser-torch and give me some room." Gilora does so, looking at him in a new light.

Dax activates the relay's transmission array, and receives its test signal. They then try sending the first message through the wormhole; the station will send an acknowledgment of receipt if it works. But Dax doesn't get anything. They try again. This time there's a neutrino surge which jolts the ship. The carrier wave caused the wormhole to open, and the gravity well has increased. No one is sure why that happened. But now the comet's course has been altered to head for the wormhole. If it enters, the silithium will cause a cascade reaction and collapse the wormhole permanently.

The Defiant returns to the station so that a meeting can be held to decide what to do. It seems this possibility was predicted in one of the Cardassians' computer models, but the probability was so low that they didn't consider it worth mentioning. Dejar says the Science Ministry will probably want to assemble a new team before proceeding further.

Dax feels that using the tractor beams to deflect the comet will only break it up. O'Brien, though, thinks he can modify the Defiant's phaser array to widen the beam, so that a phaser blast will vaporize the comet. Sisko gives the order, and O'Brien and Gilora get to work on the Jeffries tubes of the Defiant.

For some reason, Gilora's whole attitude toward O'Brien has changed, and he is very uncomfortable, unable to figure her out. Finally, she blurts out, "I assure you I am quite fertile." O'Brien bangs his head on a panel in surprise as she continues, "I could provide you with many healthy children, if that's your concern, but, quite frankly I think you're getting a little ahead of yourself." "Children?" he explodes. "What are you talking about? I already have a child. And a wife." Gilora is shocked. She had thought O'Brien was leading her to believe he was interested in her; that was how she interpreted his irritability toward her. Then both of them realize that it's a case of a cross-cultural misunderstanding. Gilora is extremely embarrassed, and crawls away in humiliation.

Dax enters Sisko's office, where he is reading up on Bajoran prophecies about the Emissary, of which there are hundreds. Although they tend to be vague and some even contradictory, there's enough truth in some of them that he can't help but wonder. And he admits that it's getting harder for him to ignore the prophecy about the vipers. "If you'd never heard Trakor's prophecy, what would you do?" Dax asks. "I'd continue working on the communications relay," Sisko replies, and she tells him, "Then it seems to me you have a choice: you can either make your own decisions, or you can let these prophecies make them for you." Sisko decides to go ahead with what he's doing.

He goes back through the wormhole on the Defiant with the Cardassians aboard, and they fire the phasers at the comet. However, for some reason, the phaser blast does not vaporize the comet, but breaks it up into three smaller pieces. Now the weapons relays have been blown out. The modified phasers never came on line, and they fired a standard burst. The fragments are still on course for the wormhole, and without weapons, there's no way to stop them.

O'Brien checks out the emitter coupling, which has been depolarized. He can't believe he made such an elementary mistake. Suddenly, Gilora says, "This wasn't your fault, Mr. O'Brien, and it wasn't an accident." Ulani tries to stop her, but she continues determinedly. "Dejar is a member of the Obsidian Order. She was assigned to our team for 'security' reasons. I believe she sabotaged this coupling." Sisko realizes that Dejar must have been sent here to sabotage the relay. A DNA scan of the coupling will be run to confirm what happened. Dejar is taken back to her quarters to be detained.

It's decided that they will try generating a subspace field around the fragments to prevent them from interacting with the wormhole. Since the Defiant is too big, they will use a shuttlepod. Sisko decides to take the pod himself, and Kira wants to go with him. "Not just because I'm your first officer, but because I believe I'm here to help the Emissary." Sisko agrees that she can come.

Once they've cleared the shuttlebay, the Defiant goes on through the wormhole, with Dax in command. Sisko and Kira engage the subspace field around the comets and enter the wormhole. Inside, the subspace field loses integrity, allowing some of the silithium to leak through. But they make it all the way home, and the wormhole is intact. And O'Brien begins picking up the test pattern from the relay back in the Gamma Quadrant.

There is now a subspace filament leading back through the wormhole, acting like a carrier wave, created by the silithium interacting with the wormhole's radiation. "The prophecy came true," Kira realizes. "All of it. We just misinterpreted Trakor's words. The three vipers -- he wasn't talking about the Cardassians. He meant the three comet fragments." It now makes sense to Sisko too. They've been trying to "peer through the temple gates" with the communications relay, and the "gates" burned when the silithium ignited the trail through the wormhole. They've been cast open. "And it's all because the Emissary used the sword of stars," Kira says in wonder. "And Trakor saw it all, three thousand years ago," adds Sisko.

Later, as O'Brien walks with Gilora to the airlock, he tells her he appreciates what she did, and hopes she won't get into too much trouble. She says her superiors will protect her. "Frankly, I think Dejar is in much more trouble than I. The Order doesn't reward failure." "Still, it was a very brave thing to do," says O'Brien. Gilora tells him simply that she didn't want him to take the blame for something that wasn't his fault. She asks him his wife's name, and he tells her it's Keiko. "Keiko," Gilora repeats. "A lucky woman." With a kiss on his cheek, she leaves.

Yarka apologizes to Sisko for doubting him. "I realize now I let my distrust of the Cardassians blind me to the Prophets' words." "It seems that the Prophets want peace between your two peoples after all," Sisko offers. Yarka concedes the possibility, and adds that there are signs that Trakor's fourth prophecy will soon come to pass too.

"Don't tell me that has something to do with me," Sisko says. "You, Commander?" Yarka asks. "Well, it is a prophecy about the Emissary." Sisko wants to hear it. So Yarka begins, "Trakor's fourth prophecy says that the Emissary will face a fiery trial, and that he will be forced to choose -- "

  • The episode was pitched and written for the second season, but withheld until the third, and modified to include the Defiant. Also, the prophecy involved was originally supposed to be a more upbeat one.