In which prophecies are spoken, Quark has poor organizational skills, and O’Brien gets to first base.
Some Cardassian scientists are coming to the station to deploy some relay tech that will allow communication through the Wormhole. I am 100% certain that Gul Dukat is not behind this in a nefarious chessmastery gambit to gain power. The Cardassians Ulani and Gilora get reprogrammed environmental controls and replicator menus, which more likely means ‘set back to factory defaults.’ Although it seems odd that Replicators would have menus which are a limited subset of the station menu as a whole. Odo is also assigning them bodyguards, because the new peace treaty is young and some Bajorans may try something.
Dax is skeptical of the new Cardassian transciever, and Quark is bringing ‘welcome to the Station please shop at Quark’s’ gifts, hoping to foster a healthy market for the Cardassian kanar he has cases of gathering dust. Peace is just as good for busines as war is, provided you’re sufficiently diversified. He has grand and wonderful plans which are going to be utterly ruined by a lack of proper inventory controls.
The next complication is a Vedek Yarka, who has a warning that the Prophets don’t want the Cardassians back on the station, or a great destruction will follow. It doesn’t sound like a threat. One could ask, as the credits roll, just how such a proscription made itself known, but it’s worth remembering that they do, in fact, have little nuggets of crystalized prophecy, which makes it somewhat harder to just dismiss claims of talking to their gods. There is, in fact, a prophecy that three vipers will return to their nest in the sky, and prophecy is so clear in retrospect. There’s also something about a sword of stars, and so Yarka implores Sisko to keep the Cardassians out. Also, calling a species with scales ‘vipers’ might be racist, but it’s hard to begrudge the Bajorans the privilege.
Also, considering that the Prophets had to be taught what linear time looks like, it’s in no way out of spec for them to deliver jumbled and confusing images of future events into the distant past. In the ‘against’ column, there are only two cardassians slated to show up, not three. Also in the ‘against’ column, the entire Bajoran ruling assembly which is dismissing the ravings of a myopic religious nut.
The two Cardassian scientists show up. The Cardassians and the Federation are super excited about this collaboration. Kira, representing Bajor at the airlock, manages to remain cordial, until the masks drop and they all let their more… human, I guess… nervousness show. They seem like nice people, and there’s not a third one, so we’re all clear.
The Cardassian comms platform is going to use various configurations of soliton wave, and if you’ve been shotgunning these shows like I have you’ll imagine just what a bad idea that might be, plus they’ll have to work with O’Brien who now has to deal with Cardassians second-guessing his engineering staff – the two things he hate most. And oh wait a third one is showing up. Suddenly, Kira’s a bit freaked out.
Yarka’s had some problems and was defrocked a while ago for protesting against the treaty. Meanwhile, Odo has noticed that Sisko doesn’t really embrace the role of Emissary, and thus the battle lines are drawn, with Kira in the middle. Given Berial’s recent death, asking Kira what she has left without religion is hitting quite literally below the belt. Jadzia, O’Brien, and the two Cardassian scientists are shortly met by their third, Dejar. The first two, Ulani and Gilora, were really looking forward to not eating Cardassian food. Dejar, on the other hand, is clearly not an Obsidian Order plant in their project because she’d be way too obvious. Every project has that one person, you know?
O’Brien and Gilora discuss the differences between Starfleet and Cardassian engineering practices – Starfleet uses at least two backup relays, which starts to explain how a luxury liner can hold up in battle for several minutes, even without shields, against a dedicated warship. Those obstacles will eventually be surmounted, so the Defiant heads through to check for Dominion activity and to deploy the remote beacon. We also have to assume that this platform will have sufficient sensors in place to warn of incoming Dominion activity, since they already basically threatened to destroy anything encroaching on their territory.
On the other side of the wormhole, a rogue comet is approaching the region of the wormhole, and it’s full of selithium, making its tail unusually bright. Kira immediately decides it’s the Sword of Stars mentioned in the prophecy. And yes, we are just going to gloss over the fact that this end of the wormhole is clearly inside the heliosphere of a local star because otherwise the comet wouldn’t have a tail. Fortunately, it’s not actually going to approach the wormhole close enough to pose a problem, but it’s an awfully big coincidence.
Of course, the other question to consider is whether the prophecy concerns evitable events, or whether everything that’s happened so far has just been a sort of temporal bookmark – a means of identifying the time of the crisis so that people who pay attention to these things will know when to be alert.
Sisko still doesn’t like being the Emissary and demands an excuse from Kira that will pass muster outside of the religious Bajoran context, and she offers pretty much what I’ve laid out already. It’s not enough, and the relay goes ahead. Well, as much as it can with the Cardassian-Human, Empire-Starfleet, Female-Male tensions. Gilora just doesn’t think men have the knack for it.
Once the beam is initiated and tuned, though, the wormhole reacts rather violently. The maw opens, the gravity well triples, and they have to shut off the beam. Unfortunately, this means the comet is now headed for the wormhole, and selithium is bad for wormholes. They have four hours and change to figure out how to fix it.
The comet is likely to shatter if they hit it with a tractor beam or phasers, although if you first encased it in a warp field to change its mass and then hit it with a tractor beam it’d probably be fine. But again, nobody ever reads the mission logs. In fact, O’Brien wants to expand the phasers to produce a wide-focused beam to melt the comet evenly. His engineering prowess is getting Gilore a tad hot and slightly bothered, but even if he weren’t racist, he’s still (somehow) happily married. Not her fault, of course. Cardassian courtship rituals involve overt irritability and belligerance.
Sisko is studying prophecies about the Emissary, and apparently some of them are close enough to the mark to worry him. Of course, the important thing is that this only matters if you can pick out the right prophecies in advance well enough to predict the outcomes. Not-Vedek Yarka seemed to be able to. Today, though, Sisko will refuse to second-guess himself.
Oh, the other thing that should be in their minds is that if they are able to shatter the comet sufficiently finely, their deflector array, whose entire purpose is to move mass out of the way of a ship at warp, should be able to deflect the shards from the wormhole as long as they did it early enough. It might be too late for that now, though. Instead, they use the wide-spread phaser beam only they forgot the Defiant has pulse phasers instead of sustained beams. Now there are three large fragments headed for the wormhole and the Defiant has no weapons.
Miles is quick to blame himself, but Ulani and Gilora are quick to glare at Dejani and out her as Obsidian Order and accuse her of sabotage, since the Order is against the treaty. I guess not all Obsidian Order agents are masters of subterfuge after all. Some of them do, in fact, have with big glitter text that say “Ask Me About How Great The State Is (or go to a labor camp).”
So now that they can’t stop the selithium from entering the wormhole, they have to stop it from interacting with the wormhole. Sisko is going to pilot a shuttle between the fragments and use the warp drive to insulate the wormhole from the comet. Kira is going with, because of reasons. This leaves Dax in command of the Defiant.
Shuttlepod engines were never meant to handle this, and start to leak selithium, which causes a light show on the other end. It also seems to have caused the wormhole not to fully close, allowing the relay station test signal to leak through. In retrospect, the prophecy still seems to have come true. In the end, O’Brien and Gilora shake things out, and Sisko and Yarka discuss further prophecies of the Emissary. The next prophecy is apparently about a fiery trial and a hard choice that we don’t get to hear about in advance.