Production no.: 545
Teleplay by: David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Story by: Harry M. Werksman & Gabrielle Stanton
Directed by: Jesus Salvador Trevino
Stardate: not given
First satellite airdate: April 25, 1998
James Greene .......
Louise Fletcher .....
Judi Durand ..........
Station Computer Voice
Sisko gives a briefing to his senior staff, updating them on the war: the Dominion is attempting to establish a supply line through Betazoid space to the Argolis cluster, but Starfleet is going to try to stop them at the Tibor Nebula. The Romulans have driven the Dominion from Benzar, which is good news, though Odo wonders if the Romulans will be willing to leave there after the war. Sisko says they'll worry about that later. He also announces that he, Kira, and Jake will be leaving for Bajor soon; the archaeologists excavating the lost city of B'hala (found last year by Sisko) want the Emissary to look at something there.
After everyone else files out, Kira and Odo hang back; she teases him affectionately about his always bringing up the worst case scenario. "Everyone expects me to be dour and suspicious," Odo tells her. "I don't want to disappoint them." She smiles. "If only they knew the real you." "That is the real me," he says. "At least, as far as everyone else is concerned."
Later, under the surface of Bajor, Kira and Jake trail after Sisko, led by Ranjen Koral, the monk in charge of the excavation. "My dad seems to be taking his role as the Emissary very seriously these days," Jake comments to Kira; he hopes the monks' find really is significant, or he won't have a story. Kira tells him to try to look like he's enjoying the trip. "Your father needs this. It's good for him not to have to think about the Dominion for a few hours."
They come to a chamber directly below the temple of B'hala, predating the city by 10,000 years. There, Koral indicates a tablet, over 30,000 years old, with writing on it that the monks have been working on translating. When the monk points out two characters in particular, Sisko and Kira both recognize them as reading, "Welcome, Emissary."
Sisko touches the tablet -- and suddenly finds himself in an altered reality. Three Prophets, in the forms of Kira, Koral, and Jake, are discussing him. "The Sisko has come." "The circle is complete." "The Reckoning must begin." And apparently, they believe Sisko will be the one to bring it about. "It will be the end." "Or the beginning." Sisko protests that he doesn't understand. "The Sisko will know," they say. The vision ends; Sisko is tossed across the room and lands, unconscious. He is out for only a few seconds, though, and tells the others about the vision. Koral doesn't recall any prophecies about a "Reckoning". Sisko feels a need to know what the rest of the inscriptions on the tablet say.
So he brings the tablet to DS9, where it is set up in the science lab. After much scanning and analysis, Dax pronounces what she has learned about it so far: "It's a slab of stone with some writing on it." There are no residual energy readings, or anything else to explain how it threw him across the room. Sisko puts her to work translating the inscriptions.
Out in the Promenade, Sisko finds himself drawn to the temple, where services are about to begin. But as he's about to enter, Worf calls with word that Kai Winn is on her way.
When Sisko greets her at the airlock, Winn gets right to it. She's not pleased that he removed the tablet from the archaeological site without consulting the Vedek Assembly. Sisko assures her that the artifact will be returned after he's finished studying it, though Winn wonders why not leave it in the hands of the scholars who have devoted their lives to such things? "I brought it here because I believe that's what the Prophets want," Sisko says, but he admits that they didn't actually tell him that, in so many words. "The Prophets are not always clear." "Since they have never spoken to me, I'll have to take your word for it," Winn replies, but she seems to back off. "Who am I to argue with the Emissary of the Prophets?"
However, Winn then promptly lodges a formal protest with Starfleet, and Sisko hears from Admiral Ross on the matter. He discusses it with Dax, admitting that he no longer feels uncomfortable in his role as religious icon. "I guess the Prophets have spoken to me one too many times." The Prophets, or wormhole aliens, do exist out of time, and they've given the Bajorans glimpses of the future, which the Bajorans have written down. Sisko feels that if the prophecies can help him make the right decisions, he would be a fool to ignore them. "All I know is that they have a relationship with Bajor that stretches back over a thousand years. They care what happens to the Bajorans. They proved that when they kept the Dominion fleet from coming through the wormhole."
Dax points out that he had to talk them into it, and they said they would exact a "penance" for their help. "Yes, but they listened," Sisko replies. "And they saved Bajor and the rest of the Alpha Quadrant. Now they're asking me for something in return. I don't know what it is yet, and I'm not going to return the tablet until I do. It's the key. I can feel it."
Then Dax finds something in the ancient Bajoran ideograms being analyzed by the computer. "I hope you're wrong about that, Benjamin," she says ominously. The computer has translated part of the inscription into modern Bajoran. "'The time of Reckoning is at hand,'" Sisko reads. "'The Prophets will weep. Their sorrow will consume the Gateway to the Temple.'" "Tell me I'm wrong," Dax says, "but isn't the Gateway to the Temple Deep Space Nine?"
Odo, Bashir, and Worf discuss this development later at Quark's. Bashir declares that he's not worried; the Bajoran ancient texts are generally vague and contradictory, but Odo reminds him that the prophecies have an odd way of coming true. Quark grumbles that business hasn't been this slow since the Dominion was here. Seeing the troubled looks of both Odo and Worf, Bashir says, "This is ridiculous. Nothing's going to happen. Someday we're all going to look back on this and laugh." But then, suddenly the station rumbles, and everyone looks out to see the wormhole open for the third time in ten minutes, without anything coming through. "How did that Prophecy go again?" Bashir asks, shaken.
Later, Odo sits with Kira as she eats. She wishes they knew more about the Reckoning, so they would have a better idea what the Prophets want. Though Odo thinks the Prophets should be more specific with their directions, to Kira it's a matter of faith. "I just don't know how people make it through the day without it." "We manage," Odo tells her. "Besides, I do have faith in some things." "Such as?" she asks. He looks at her warmly. "You." "I'll try not to disappoint you," Kira says with a smile.
Bajor is being affected by the instability of the wormhole, causing a number of natural disasters, and Winn takes this as a sign that the Prophets are angry over the tablet being taken from the planet. She asks Sisko again to return it. "As the Emissary of the Prophets, I will ask you to give me more time to study it," Sisko says. "I believe it is the will of the Prophets." Winn disagrees, and produces a PADD containing a formal request from the First Minister to return the relic. She threatens that if he doesn't, it will damage relations between Bajor and the Federation. So Sisko tells her the tablet will go back to Bajor on the morning transport.
Dax assures Sisko that she can work off holo-recordings of the tablet. She has almost translated another phrase, but there is some confusion over a particular ideogram: "During the Reckoning, the Bajorans will either 'suffer horribly,' or 'eat fruit'...Given the tone of the rest of the inscriptions, I would bet on the horrible suffering." There's another phrase which goes, "'Once the Reckoning begins, the Emissary will -- '" But the rest of that inscription is damaged. "If you talk to the Prophets again, ask for a dictionary."
A later conversation between Sisko and Kira in Ops turns to the subject of the Kai. "In a way, I feel sorry for her," Kira muses. "She spends her whole life in service to the Prophets. And then one day, after years of self-sacrifice and commitment, she gets her reward. She's elected Kai. It should have been the greatest moment of her life." "But my being the Emissary spoiled it for her," Sisko realizes. Kira believes that Winn will never forgive him for her having to share spiritual leadership with him, especially since he's a non-Bajoran. "She's jealous of you, and of your relationship with the Prophets. I'm a little envious myself...You speak with the Prophets. They listen to you. That's a rare gift." "It's certainly nothing I asked for," Sisko says. Kira observes that that's why she doesn't resent him. "But the Kai does."
Kira later speaks to Winn on the upper level of the Promenade; the Kai claims that she is relieved that the Emissary has decided to "do the right thing", and that she didn't enjoy forcing his hand. She then admonishes Kira to go to services more often.
That night, Sisko has a talk with Jake, who is troubled. "It's this Emissary stuff. It scares me a little. Twice now, twice in one year, Dr. Bashir's called me down to the infirmary to tell me something was wrong with you. And there you were, lying unconscious on a bio-bed, having visions or something. All I could do was stand there, and wonder if you were ever going to wake up." Jake doesn't want to be in that position again. Sisko does his best to comfort him. "I didn't ask to be the Emissary. But for better or worse, I guess that's what I am. Except for being your dad."
Later, Sisko wakes from a restless sleep and goes down to the science lab, where the tablet seems to mock him. "Why do you always have to be so damned mysterious? Answer me! I am tired of your riddles. If there's something you need me to do, say so!" There is no response. Suddenly, as if compelled by instinct, Sisko takes the tablet and smashes it to the floor. It shatters, releasing two strands of energy, one blue and one red, which vanish into the ceiling.
Sisko has a hard time explaining to Dax and Odo what he did. Dax doesn't read any residual energy signatures, and the internal sensors don't pick up anything. Then there is a brief stationwide power drain, which might be related to the energy discharge. Sisko picks up two fragments from the tablet. "Benjamin, you're not getting another urge, are you?" asks Dax. "No," Sisko says slowly. "I've done what I needed to do. I know this might sound strange, but I think the Prophets wanted me to shatter the tablet." "Try explaining that to Kai Winn," Dax reminds him.
Winn, predictably, is not happy, and is skeptical of Sisko's explanation that the Prophets wanted him to smash the tablet for some reason. "You and I haven't always seen things eye to eye," Sisko tells her, trying to make her understand. "But we have one thing in common. We both believe that the Prophets have a plan for Bajor. Sometimes it's not easy to see the path they've laid out for us. Right now, I don't know what they want from me. But I'm willing to take a leap of faith, and trust that they're guiding me. I'm asking you to take that leap with me." Winn, however, says the Prophets have made themselves quite clear, through the floods and earthquakes on Bajor. "Bajorans are suffering because of you. They're paying the price for your act of sacrilege." The power flickers again at that moment, and goes out. Then Odo calls Sisko down to the Promenade.
There, a strange breeze is blowing as the monitors crash with static. Kira is standing in the doorway of the shrine; the fluctuations seem to be emanating from her, as energy passes into her body. Odo reports that she wouldn't talk to him. Finally Kira walks slowly toward them, glasses shattering and lights fritzing out as she passes; her eyes, oddly, are now blue. "You are the Sisko." Sisko realizes that she's possessed by a Prophet, and asks why it has taken this woman's body. "This vessel is willing," the Prophet pronounces. "The Reckoning. It is time."
It won't say what the Reckoning is, except "the end, or the beginning", but it says it awaits Kosst Amojan, which Winn says is the Evil One, a pah-wraith. "The battle will be joined," and after this battle, "Bajor will be reborn." Winn realizes with awe that Shabren's Fifth Prophecy is coming true: "If the Evil One is destroyed, it will bring a thousand years of peace." It is not known who will prevail, however. Sisko asks if he's supposed to help in some way. "The Sisko has completed his task," the Prophet tells him. Winn appeals to the Prophet, pleading for some recognition, but it ignores her. "I await their vessel." Everything goes still, and so does Kira's body.
Sisko announces to his officers in Ops, along with Winn, that they will have to evacuate the station, which could be destroyed in this battle. Dax and Bashir advocate flooding the Promenade with chroniton radiation, not enough to kill the Prophet, but ramping the levels up slowly to give it a chance to leave Kira's body without being harmed. Everything is rigged and ready to go on Sisko's command. But Sisko refuses. Worf objects; they can't risk the station being destroyed. "When the Dominion fleet was about to come through the wormhole," Sisko explains, "I asked the Prophets for their help. They gave it to me. Now they're asking for my help. They need to fight this battle here, now. I'm not going to jeopardize my crew, but I'm not going to stand in the way of the Prophets, either." Bashir asks if he's willing to sacrifice Kira in the event that the Prophets lose. "The Prophet said she was willing to be their instrument," Sisko replies. Worf expresses skepticism.
Then Odo speaks up. Even though it may mean he'll lose Kira for good, he tells the others, "I know how important her faith is to her. And I have no doubt that she would allow the Prophets to use her as their instrument." That seems to settle it. Sisko orders the evacuation to begin immediately.
As they're supervising the exodus, Worf tells Odo he should have helped change the Captain's mind, but Odo is certain he had to honor Kira's wishes. "If it were Dax, I am not sure I could have done the same," Worf admits. "Just be grateful you didn't have to make that choice," Odo replies, and Worf looks at him with new respect. "For your sake, I hope the Prophets are victorious." "They will be, if Kira has anything to do with it," Odo says.
Later, Odo calls Sisko down to the Promenade again; a group of Bajorans is refusing to leave the station. Winn is at their head, leading them in prayer, and Sisko manages to convince them to go. "Where is your faith, Emissary?" Winn asks, throwing his own words back at him. "You don't think the Evil One will be victorious, do you? Rest assured, the Golden Age is upon us. The Prophets and the people will be as one. Think of it. There will be no need for Vedeks or Kais, or even Emissaries." Suddenly Kira's body stirs, as does the energy around it. "Kosst Amojan has chosen its vessel," the Prophet announces, looking up to the second level, where Jake stands at the railing, his eyes glowing red as energy crackles into his body. "Let it begin," the pah-wraith within him says.
As the Prophet and pah-wraith face each other, Sisko cries out, "Leave my son and take me instead!" "Your Emissary offers himself to us," the pah-wraith taunts the Prophet. "His faith wavers." Sisko tries to intervene, but a wave of telekinesis from Jake's hand hurls him backward. Energy shoots out from the bodies of Kira and Jake, the two columns meeting in the middle and struggling against each other. The station shakes beneath them. Winn tries to get Sisko to leave, but he refuses.
Dax arrives and tells Sisko that Worf is standing by in Ops, to trigger the chroniton generator. "You can still end this, Ben." "No," Sisko decides, despite what it costs him. "I've got to play this thing out." He clings to the belief that the Prophet won't hurt Jake. Dax then tries to convince Sisko to get out of here before the energy buildup explodes; Sisko refuses to leave his son. He orders Dax to leave; she finally does, taking the Kai.
Dax calls Worf to tell him to meet her at the airlock. On the way there with Winn, she stops to help a woman with a couple of children, telling Winn to go on ahead. But Winn deliberately takes the wrong turn.
As the battle continues, suddenly the Promenade is bathed in blue light, and both combatants look up in alarm. "No!" screams the Prophet. In Ops, Winn has engaged the chroniton generator. "May the Prophets forgive me," she whispers. Finally the Prophet and pah-wraith are forced to leave their vessels, their battle unresolved. Kira and Jake both collapse to the floor; Sisko cradles his son in his arms.
After examining Jake, Bashir informs Sisko that he will be all right after a few days. Sisko goes in to see his son, his conscience weighing heavily on him for having been willing to sacrifice Jake's life. But Jake tells him gently, "You don't have to explain. When the pah-wraith was inside me, I could feel its hatred. And I knew that no matter what, it couldn't be allowed to win. Even if it meant I had to die. You did the right thing." They embrace.
Kira has recovered as well, and emerges from services to find Odo waiting for her. She's trying to make sense of what happened; she's also somewhat in awe of the fact that she was chosen as the Prophet's instrument. "Perhaps that's why you were chosen," Odo says. "You have faith and humility." Kira has something she wants to say to him, knowing that he told the Captain she was willing to give her life for the Prophets. "I appreciate that you respect my beliefs." "Just the same," Odo admits, "I wouldn't have minded if the Prophets had chosen someone else." Kira smiles, kisses him, and leaves to take the Kai to her shuttle.
Winn is a bit resentful that she hasn't been thanked for saving the station, Sisko, and his son. She claims that she did it for Bajor, and points to the fact that the instability has stopped; she takes it as a sign that she did the right thing. But Kira isn't buying it. "You defied the will of the Prophets. And you did it because you couldn't stand the fact that a human, an infidel, had a stronger faith than you. The Emissary was willing to sacrifice his own son to serve the Prophets." "My faith is as pure as the Emissary's," Winn replies. "...The Prophets chose you as their instrument. That doesn't mean you can speak for them."
"Because of your interference, the Reckoning was stopped," Kira tells her in no uncertain terms. "The evil still exists. And I'm not sure if even the Prophets know what that will mean for Bajor." Winn stares at her, realizing she's right but unwilling to admit it. Finally she turns and wordlessly leaves the station.
Initially, the writers had planned to have Kai Winn possessed by the pah-wraith, and Sisko choosing to stop the battle.