Disclaimer: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the property of Paramount.

Author's note: Through seven seasons of Deep Space Nine, we learned a few pertinent facts about the Vorta. Their eyesight is poor. Their hearing is good. They can taste nothing but kava nuts and rippleberries, two foods presumably native to their home planet. They are genetically programmed to view the Founders as gods. We were even given two different versions of how the Vorta became part of the Dominion.

But I've always wanted to give the Vorta a history and culture of their own, more than just hints and misinformation. This story, which, in some form or another, has been in my mind for ten years, is my attempt to do that.


Anamnesis

Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today's events. —Albert Einstein

My predecessor was the fourth incarnation of our noble progenitor. I'm the fifth. —Weyoun Five, Ties of Blood and Water

anamnesis: recollection of the Ideas, which the soul had known in a previous existence

60,064 (Kurillian Calendar)

Ca. AD 359 (Terran Calendar)

Cool air vented gently on her humanoid form as she inspected the chamber, causing the fabric of her garment—her biomimetic cells, imitating the cloth—to billow. Behind her, the First and Second paced silently into position, their rifles held ready in case any of the bodies at her feet stirred. This world had precious few methods in place for eradication, and though she knew the effectiveness of the Jem'Hadar chemical weapons, she was mindful of the fact that only a few tests had been performed to determine the efficacy of the gas on this species.

All across the planet, the Jem'Hadar were performing similar checks in each of the facilities that had been set up for this procedure. She imagined that they were all as silent as this one, the only sounds coming from the air re-circulators and the quiet sounds of the Jem'Hadar. A deathly hush pervaded the entire planet, devoid, suddenly, of its dominant species, left entirely to the small wild things.

There was a stirring below her and she looked down. At first, she saw nothing. Perhaps it had been the dragging of her clothing on the ground. Mimicking Solid garments was something she'd grown used to over the centuries, but it could still surprise her in little ways. For a minute, she stayed where she was, holding perfectly still and staring down at the floor, covered in motionless bodies. There was, still, nothing. And then her patience was rewarded—a slight movement, there, half a meter from her feet.

The Founder knelt slowly next to the feebly stirring form and studied it for a moment. Small, unformed compared to the others—child, she recognized. There would be no more of those for this people.

The child's eyes opened, staring blankly, the pupils moving sluggishly, but gradually they settled on her face and seemed to focus. The Founder looked into its face, its pale skin mottled, no doubt from the gas, its black hair disheveled. Then, she stood up. "This one is still alive," she said to the First, in the language of the Dominion. "Eliminate it."

She didn't move as the Jem'Hadar approached and aimed his rifle, watching the child as it watched her. Its mouth opened soundlessly and the Founder stared impassively into its eyes; bright, bright purple and wide open.

Then a blast of disruptor energy discharged from the First's rifle, striking the child squarely in the chest. The eyes and mouth remained open but the jaw went slack as death overtook the child. For another moment, she stared at it, and then she turned to the Second, who was completing his check of the room. "Were any others left alive?"

"No, Founder," the Second said. "Just the scientist."

Suddenly, and as if on cue, she heard the sound of footsteps, and she turned to see a man framed in the doorway, his eyes wide with shock and horror. "Ah," she said, switching to this world's language, "how timely. I trust the procedure went smoothly?"

The man couldn't seem to stop staring at the still bodies of his people, strewn around her feet where they'd collapsed as the gas had poisoned and asphyxiated them. Finally, he tore his eyes—purple, like the child's—away from the sight and met hers for a fleeting second, then looked downwards towards his own feet. "Exactly as planned. The DNA samples and memory extractions are all packed and ready for transport."

She nodded. "Good. You've done well."

He bowed. "It has been my honor to serve you, Founder."

For the first time, she lifted the corners of her mouth slightly upwards—a smile, a movement which felt odd on this humanoid face. "And that is an honor that you shall continue to have. However, I'm afraid it won't be in this form."

The man looked confused. "Forgive me, but—I…thought we'd be returning to your ship?"

"We will be returning to our ship," she said, seeing no need to carry on this charade. The emphasis in her tone left no doubt that he would not be among them.

"But…" He was struggling to retain the respect in his voice and on his face as it gave way to panic. "…you—you promised…in return for my help gathering the DNA samples, the re-sequencing…"

"We have already kept the greatest promise to your people that could ever be made," she cut across him smoothly. "Promises were needed to ensure your loyalty. That will no longer be necessary."

The respect fled entirely from his face, replaced by a dawning understanding, and he whirled frantically to exit the chamber, only to find the Second blocking his way.

"I am certain your clones will be excellent and faithful servants of the Dominion," she said, then signaled to the Second. There was no time for the man to run, and the disrupter blast dropped him where he stood. The body fell heavily onto another, smoke from the wound swirling upwards in eddies from the re-circulated air. Her gaze immediately swung back up and towards the First. "Gather the genetic material and the schematics for the cloning facilities," the Founder ordered. "I do not wish to be here when the orbital bombardment begins."