The Prophets, also known as "wormhole aliens" (mainly by non-Bajorans), were non-corporeal lifeforms that resided in the only stable wormhole known to exist, located in the Bajoran system. These lifeforms existed outside of linear time, and were simultaneously aware of the past, present, and the future. (DS9: "Emissary", "Destiny") The Prophets' origins remained unknown; however, they identified themselves as being "of Bajor" and were proven to possess exceptional abilities, such as giving the Bajorans glimpses of the future, that were written down in the form of prophecies that were later used to help them guide succeeding generations. (DS9: "Accession", "The Reckoning") Their only known vulnerability was to chroniton radiation. (DS9: "The Assignment")
Origins and history
Bajoran history documented the discovery of nine orbs found in orbit of Bajor over a period of ten thousand years; however, it has been suggested from archaeological findings that the Bajorans received their first orb at least thirty thousand years ago. The orbs appeared to resemble hourglass-shaped energy fields and may have produced intense metaphysical hallucinations to those who came in contact with them; it is thought that the hallucinations were indirect communications from the Prophets. However, the orbs reacted to only a limited number of individuals. It continues to be a mystery as to what conditions were required for a vision to be experienced, and lapsed visions were a possible side effect (sometimes even months later). The ancient Bajorans who found the orbs named them according to the kind of vision they induced; many early encounters with them were recorded and, over time, became the basis of many ancient Bajoran prophecies. Those were ultimately responsible for the founding of the Bajoran faith, based on worshiping the Prophets as their gods.
The number of Prophets who resided in the wormhole has never been discovered. However, on several occasions, the Prophets exiled residents for committing acts described as evil. Those exiled Prophets became known as Pah-wraiths, with Kosst Amojan the most prominent. Unlike the Prophets, those exiles appeared as red translucent energy and were often described to resemble flames from a fire. The Prophets created a prison for them on Bajor in an ancient cavern known as the Fire Caves. The Pah-wraiths also communicated to the ancient Bajorans through the orbs—an ancient text was written describing how to release them but was hidden over the centuries and later protected in modern times by the authorities. Around thirty thousand years ago, for reasons unknown, a Prophet and Pah-wraith were trapped inside a stone tablet under what was to become the city of B'hala. (DS9: "The Assignment", "The Reckoning", "The Changing Face of Evil")
In their natural state, the Prophets appeared as blue translucent energy capable of rapid movement throughout any environment. When communicating with visitors in their own domain, the Prophets could appear as someone familiar to the visitors by probing their consciousness. For instance, when first encountered in "person" by Starfleet Commander Benjamin Sisko in 2369, the Prophets appeared to take the form of people from his past and present—including his wife Jennifer Sisko; son Jake Sisko; Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his alter-ego Locutus of Borg, against whom Sisko had once fought; the Vulcan captain of the USS Saratoga, on which Sisko had served; Kai Opaka; and others. In future encounters, Sisko saw other friends, colleagues, and enemies depicted by the Prophets as they spoke with him. (DS9: "Emissary", "Accession", "Rapture", "Sacrifice of Angels", "The Reckoning", "Tears of the Prophets")
With few exceptions, in normal space, the Prophets could physically communicate with outsiders only by possessing a body and using it as a vessel. The host was conscious of what was happening but had no control over its actions. (DS9: "The Assignment", "The Reckoning")
The Prophets had no sense of linear time, so they probably lived outside the normal space-time continuum; however, their existence was recorded on Bajor for at least thirty thousand years. (DS9: "Emissary", "The Reckoning")
- Main article: Emissary of the Prophets
In 2331, a Prophet traveled to Earth and possessed the body of a Human named Sarah. As Sarah, the Prophet married Joseph Sisko and conceived a child. Shortly after giving birth, Sarah inexplicably abandoned her family and later died. It is thought that the Prophet visited Earth solely to ensure the birth of Benjamin Sisko. After doing so, it left Sarah's body, leaving her with a family that was not hers, so she left without explanation. It was no coincidence, then, that first contact by the United Federation of Planets was made by Starfleet officer Ben Sisko inside the wormhole in 2369. The Bajoran people celebrated the event and named Sisko as the Emissary of the Prophets to Bajor. He took up a position commanding a joint Bajoran–Federation space station named Deep Space 9 at the mouth of the wormhole. (DS9: "Emissary", "In the Hands of the Prophets", "Image in the Sand")
Benjamin Sisko initially was reluctant to accept such a prominent religious position in Bajoran society, but that changed in 2372 when the Prophets sent a 22nd century Bajoran, Akorem Laan, two hundred years into his future, where he was accepted by many Bajorans as being the true Emissary since he discovered the wormhole first. Akorem encouraged draconian reforms on Bajor that Captain Sisko knew would affect its membership application to the Federation. After experiencing a lapsed vision, Sisko realized the significant influence the Emissary had on Bajoran society, then challenging Akorem and taking him to the wormhole to ask the Prophets who was the true Emissary. The Prophets said Sisko was of Bajor and returned Akorem to his own time. The Prophets' intention was to make Sisko accept his position as their Emissary. (DS9: "Accession") Three years later, in 2375, Sisko discovered how the Prophets had arranged his birth. (DS9: "Image in the Sand")
In 2373, a Pah-wraith escaped the Fire Caves by possessing a member of an expedition team, Keiko O'Brien, who traveled to Deep Space 9 and planned to kill the Prophets before reentering the wormhole. The Pah-wraith failed and was killed when exposed to chroniton radiation. (DS9: "The Assignment")
Late in 2373, Benjamin Sisko experienced a series of lapsed visions that led him to discover the ancient lost city of B'hala on Bajor. That incredible archaeological find was described by an ancient prophecy, eliminating any doubts from Bajoran hardliners that Sisko was the Emissary. The visions continued, and he was urged to delay Bajor's acceptance of admission into the Federation, which the Bajorans did without question. It was later realized that if Bajor had entered the Federation then, it would have been on the front line when the Dominion invaded the Federation the next year. (DS9: "Rapture")
Some time after the discovery of B'hala, archaeologists discovered an ancient tablet that had lain dormant for thirty thousand years. While examining it, Sisko experienced another vision and later was urged to smash the tablet, thereby releasing the imprisoned Prophet and Pah-wraith. The Pah-wraith was identified as "Kosst Amojan" and possessed the body of Sisko's son, Jake, on Deep Space 9. The Prophet took the body of a Bajoran militia officer, Kira Nerys, and the two commenced what was prophesied as the Reckoning. A power struggle ensued, with Kosst Amojan trying to kill the Prophets and return to the wormhole. Winn Adami, the Kai of Bajor, was shamed by the faith of Ben Sisko in that conflict, so she exposed the aliens to just enough chroniton radiation to force them to abandon the bodies they possessed. The Prophet returned to the wormhole, and the whereabouts of Kosst Amojan went unknown. (DS9: "The Reckoning")
Revelation and conclusion
Upon becoming obsessed with killing Sisko and destroying Bajor, Gul Dukat (the former leader of the Occupation of Bajor) studied ancient Bajoran prophecies to uncover a way to carry out that objective. He began to worship the Pah-wraiths and led a cult that believed them to be the true Prophets of the wormhole. He released a Pah-wraith trapped inside an ancient Bajoran artifact that the Cardassians had appropriated during the Occupation. The freed Pah-wraith used Dukat's body as a vessel and traveled to Deep Space 9, where it was exposed to an orb after attacking Starfleet officer Jadzia Dax, who later died of her injuries. Using the orb, the Pah-wraith entered the wormhole and sealed it, turning all known orbs in the Bajorans' possession dark and inactive. A major struggle erupted inside the wormhole between the two powers for its control. Believing he had failed the Prophets and the Bajoran people, Sisko returned to Earth to reevaluate his future. Some months later, while still there, he experienced a series of visions urging him to travel to the planet of Tyree. To confuse him, the Pah-wraith also sent him misleading visions. However, he discovered the tenth orb, which once opened had the power to expel and destroy the Pah-wraith, returning the wormhole to the Prophets' control. The Sarah Prophet appeared to Sisko and explained how he was conceived and why he was of Bajor. She said that he was conceived to fulfill many tasks that no one else could do. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets", "Image in the Sand", "Shadows and Symbols", "Covenant")
In mid-2375, the Prophets warned Ben Sisko in a vision not to marry Kasidy Yates because the marriage would be short-lived. They did not reveal it at the time, but he would soon enter the Celestial Temple to join them; when he defied them and found Kasidy was pregnant a few weeks later, she feared the warning meant their child would die. (DS9: "Penumbra", "'Til Death Do Us Part")
By the end of that year, Dukat manipulated Winn with the aid of visions sent to her by the Pah-wraiths. With her help, they studied the ancient text that was under the Vedek Assembly's protection, known as the Book of the Kosst Amojan, which instructed them how to release all the imprisoned Pah-wraiths from the Fire Caves. Sisko completed the plans set out for him by the Prophets by destroying both Dukat and, having been warned by the repentant Kai Winn, the book of ancient text. All the Pah-wraiths remained imprisoned in the Fire Caves, whereas Sisko was taken into the wormhole to reside with his own people as a Prophet. However, he promised his wife and son that he would return one day. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil", "What You Leave Behind")
The existence of the Prophets and Sisko's role as their emissary constituted Star Trek's first venture into the realm of religion, a move that was somewhat controversial among mainstream Trek fans. As Deep Space Nine went on, and the Prophets learned more of linear time and the nature of the corporeal events going on around them, they became increasingly involved in corporeal existence, especially as it concerned "The Sisko". In the pilot episode, "Emissary", for example, the Prophets appeared unconcerned and unfamiliar with corporeal existence. They were not encountered again for the duration of the first or second seasons, before finally reappearing in the third season episode "Prophet Motive". They went on to appear once in season four (in "Accession") and once in season five (in "Rapture"). Sending Akorem Laan into the future "for the Sisko" in "Accession" was their first major involvement in corporeal matters, an involvement which perhaps peaked in the sixth season episode "Sacrifice of Angels", where they destroyed an entire fleet of Dominion ships. They went on to play a crucial role throughout the seventh season, especially in the series finale, "What You Leave Behind".
Of the controversy surrounding the Prophets and Bajoran religion among fans of Trek who felt the show should stay away from religion, Michael Piller, speaking in 2002, stated, "The Prophets and the prophecies and the orbs takes Star Trek into the metaphysical world for the first time. I think this is something Gene would have loved had he lived to see it. We are not changing the rules of the Star Trek universe, we're simply exploring the rules of another alien race, and what they consider important, and we're seeing how we as humans in the 24th century might react to that, how we might learn from that. And I think that that was one of the things which Roddenberry loved about the new Star Trek, that instead of going out and teaching people, as I think the original Star Trek crew did, that this was really an era in which humanity was out to learn, and I think that was the key to Deep Space Nine. We had a very, very good time exploring that, and I think that we were one of the very few television shows that ventured into spiritual and religious areas, and, of course, as long as time has existed, stories about spiritual pursuits, Bible stories have been great storytelling. And it gave us great themes to explore." (Hidden File 10, DS9 Season 2 DVD special features)
In the Millennium series, the crew discovers the existence of the third group of Prophets. This third group represented the alleged 'True' Prophets who resided in an initially-inactive red wormhole while those in the blue wormhole represent a splinter faction who broke away to explore the possibility of a world outside their realm. The Pah-wraiths were those who were banished from both groups and wished to reunite the Temples so they can destroy everything that those responsible for their exile have created.
The Prophets also played a small role in the final book of the Q Continuum trilogy. During the ancient battle between the allies of 0 and the Q Continuum, 0's ally Gorgan attempted to escape his opponent Q through the Bajoran wormhole, only to be denied entry by the Prophets. Ancient Bajorans observed the battle between the two incredible powers and sensed that they were neither the Prophets nor the Pah-wraiths.
The Prophets are witnessed in the future of the alternate reality created by Nero, when Q brings the USS Enterprise into their future in the storyline The Q Gambit, where all but one of the Prophets have been wiped out by the Pah-Wraiths, and the surviving Prophet is trapped in the tablet that was used for the Reckoning. In the course of their time in the future, the Prophet is released and possesses Spock, who realizes that the power of the Pah-Wraiths can be overcome if the Prophet possesses Q, elevating Q's power to an even further level.
In Star Trek: The Q Conflict, when Q draws the four captains together to act as champions for himself and other omnipotent races in a contest to decide the outcome of a conflict, one such challenge is to try and draw the Prophets out of the wormhole so that they will take part in the game. To this end, Picard and the Enterprise-E try to attract the prophets by sending a signal into the wormhole, Sisko tries to meditate to commune with the prophets, Kira (representing Captain Kathryn Janeway) tries to communicate with them using one of the Orbs, and Kirk (on the advice of Jadzia Dax) simply takes the Enterprise into the wormhole. The Prophets appear to him as Edith Keeler and Gary Mitchell before moving on to confront Q themselves, with the subsequent temporal distortions caused by the Prophets attacking Q being so extreme that the other Q are obliged to erase those events from history.