Chapter 1: In the Presence of the Prophets

"The Sisko is of Bajor."

Like a memory of the past the voice spoke it. Benjamin looked around him, trying to find the voice. He was alone, alone in a world that was completely white world. But, it wasn't white exactly, it was light. Blinding light.

"The Sisko is caporeal."

He looked around, trying to see anyone, but, in a wink of an eye, he was in New Orleans, right outside of his father's resteraunt. No, it wasn't Sisko's. It was a memory, the building and surrounding areas an odd mix of hazy orange and black. He hadn't seen this in a while. He only experianced this type of sight when he had visions.

"The Sisko is leaneur."

He was suddenly on Deep Space Nine, his old position. He was on the promenada. He could not see anybody, and the only room he could see was the temple. Only that room was lit, the others dark, forbidden. He slowly walked towards the room, feeling a little comprehensive. But, he was still for the most part calm, unconcerned with anything.

He stepped up the two steps, and passed under the arch. Upon passing it, into the small entrance, the door vanished behind him. Odd, he thought, he had never been closed into a room before in any room or any part of any vision. He walked into the main chamber, really not a chamber, more like a meeting room. A place to worship.

And still, there was no one.

"The Sisko is of Bajor."

Benjamin looked, trying to find the Prophets. Or someone in vision. He turned to leave, and he was blocked from leaving the room by a wall of hazy darkness. He turned around, and saw to his surprise, Kira Nerisse.

"Colonel?" he asked, then caught himself and said, "Prophet."

"The Sisko is needed," the prophet said, pointing to the orb of the temple, set in middle of the room.

That was out of place, Ben realized. If this had been an accurate representation, it would have been in a small alcove on the far side of the room surrounded by a force field. It had been the place Jadzia Dax had been killed.

"The Sisko is hesitant," the Prophet said, then suddenly, appearing on the other side of the orb, was another Prophet, this one assuming the likeness of Jake, his son.

"Why?" he asked, in the simple and straight forward manner accustomed to the Prophets.

"Why have you called me here?" he asked, looking from Prophet to Prophet.

Another one appeared, this one looking like the Ferangi Quark. "The Sisko is aggressive."

"Not really," Ben shrugged, "I just want to know what this is all about. That's all."

Another one came into view. This one took on the form of the Klingon Worf, "There is danger."

"Danger?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"The Sisko is of Bajor."

"The Sisko is caporeal."

"The Sisko is needed."

"You have already said that," Ben said, walking in a circle, and gasped when he saw a line of Prophets, or maybe they were actual people in the vision, suddenly explode into view. Thousands. No, it was millions. No, it was billions. No, more then billions, so many he would never be able to count them all. He was certain of that much.

"The Sisko must know the Fate," a small woman Prophet said, this one Sarah, Benjamins' mother, "If he knows, he will avert it."

"The Sisko is of us," a Prophet, one whom he had never seen said, walking out of the wall, "If he goes, long it will be before he returns."

"The Sisko is of the Federation," Sarah said, "He must know."

"The Sisko would leave," the Kira prophet said, "Perhaps never return."

"Much sorrow will come if he knows not," the Quark said, "Allowed to choose he must."

"I would appreciate you being straight forward with me," Ben said, "You are never open with me. I am still caporeal. I value my thoughts and opinions."

"Agreed," the Prophet said, "Let him see the Fate. Then he can choose."

The people began to vanish, locusts swarming them. First by ones, then dozens, then hundreds, and again by thousands they were devored instantly, leaving only bones. After a short time, there were the hazy forms of millions, though maybe three fourths of them had been devored.

They came forward, their bodies changed. Many had eyes replaced by mechanical devices that shown forth red lights. Tubes protruded out of them. Thier skin, hazy before hand, was now almost undestingishable from the metal skin that covered their bodies now. They looked, almost like Borg to him.

They were then replaced by a vast expanse of space, he could see every planet, star, nebula, asteroid, moon and every other phenomenon in the Alpha Quadrant. A planet here or there was dead, but, for the most part, all were vibrant and rich. Then, two swarms, one of metallic locusts, another of purplish locusts more aggresive then the others, came from different directions.

They sped so fast that everywhere they passed, it was immediatly laid bare. Nothing grew behind them. Before long, a few planets remained. Almost inperceivable nudges were given to the swarms, attempts he assumed to hold the locusts at bay. But, it was too much for them. They were all destroyed.

Suddenly the orb was again infront of him.

It swung open on its own accord, the room blazing in white light outlined in blue.

"Remeber," Sarah said, "I will always love you, my son."

"Doctor, he's gaining conciousness."

"Good. His vital signs have stabalized. Neural activity is become improved."

The voices, though he could hear them, did not seem to come from any Prophets. There was a vibrance to them, a sense of urgance, confidence, relief that was characteristics not of Prophets, but caporeal beings. He could also discern what sounded like beeping.

He felt something press against his neck and also felt something being pushed into his skin. His ability to comprehend was improving. He tried now to open his eyes, and as he did so, his first attempt was unsuccesful. The lights were too bright, and he closed his eyes.

But, his eyes began to adjust and he opened again, and slowly the faces of the people came into focus. One was a woman, heavier set, in her late thirties. She was human, of copper skin. The other war a man, over forty he guessed. Tall, thick brown hair, eyes with drooping eyelids. Someone he thought he knew.

"Benjamen Sisko," the man said, leaning over him, "How are you feeling?"

"I feel okay," he said, the words sounding sloughish and weak in his own ears, "Is it you? Really you Bashir?"

"Yes, I am your genetically engenered friend," Bashir said, with a smile of obvious relief.

"What is the date?" he said, feeling content just to lay down where he was, "How long was I gone?"

"It is Stardate 63865.8," Bashir said, "You've been gone for over ten years."