by Christopher Jones
Wanna find out the truth? There’s an Orb for that. How about traveling back in time to meet your hero? There’s an Orb for that, too. In fact there are Orbs for all sorts of things you may want to do… if you’re Bajoran.
One of the unique aspects of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the inclusion of religion and spirituality. Of course the Starfleet personnel were not religious, but the Bajorans certainly were. As a series that centered around the Bajoran culture, the themes of DS9 were strongly influenced by matters of faith. Whether it was the Prophets, the Pah Wraiths, Sisko’s role as Emissary, or the Bajoran belief that the wormhole was home to their gods, Deep Space Nine truly went where no Star Trek series had gone before.
Just as religions on Earth have their artifacts, so too do religions on Bajor. For the Bajorans these come in the form of powerful objects called Orbs.
Tears of the Prophets
Also known as Tears of the Prophets, Orbs are mysterious hourglass-shaped energy fields that are kept in ornate jeweled cases. Over a period of ten thousand years the nine original Orbs appeared in the skies over Bajor. The Bajoran religion holds that these Orbs were sent by the Prophets to guide and teach the Bajorans.
There were originally nine Orbs known to the Bajorans, and a tenth Orb—the Orb of the Emissary—was discovered by Captain Sisko near the end of the Dominion War in the desert on the planet Tyree.
Created by the aliens who live in the Bajoran Wormhole—known to the Bajorans as the Prophets—the Orbs affect an individual when the case is opened and the Orb radiates light on the viewer.
Science is unable to fully explain the effects of the Orbs, which induce hallucinations and allow the viewer to see into the past of future, or to gain insights into situations or dilemmas. While it can be explained that the Orbs create excessive neuropeptides in the brain of the viewer, not all individuals are able to experience visions. According to Bajoran religion the Orbs only work on those with whom the Prophets have chosen to communicate.
This communication with the Prophets, who are actually non-corporeal aliens who live in the Bajoran Wormhole (which the Bajorans call the Celestial Temple), may explain the unusual nature of Orb visions. The Prophets have no concept of linear time and thus events that take place in Orb visions often seem disjointed and jump between past, present, and future. Events from the future may appear to be prophecies but are simply events—with no distinction between past, present, or future—to the aliens who created the Orbs since they live outside of normal space and time.
The Orb of Prophecy and Change
The third Orb to appear on Bajor and blue in color, the Orb of Prophecy and Change has long been a part of the Bajoran religion and has influenced many leaders. About 3,000 years before the events of Deep Space Nine (around 500 B.C. on Earth’s calendar) the Bajoran spiritual writer Trakor had an encounter with the Orb of Prophecy and Change after which he wrote a series of prophecies about the Emissary of the Prophets, foreshadowing the arrival of Sisko. (“Destiny” [DS9])
It has been speculated that the unnamed Orb shown to Sisko by Kai Opaka in “Emissary” was the Orb of Prophecy and Change.
During the late 24th century the Orb of Prophecy and Change was kept in the monastery led by Vedek Bareil Antos (“The Circle” [DS9]) and was later moved to the station where it was the target of theft by Bareil’s counterpart from the Mirror Universe. (“Resurrection” [DS9])
The Orb of Prophecy and Change played a large role in the events of Deep Space Nine. In addition to serving as the inspiration for the ancient prophecies of the Emissary, it was also consulted by Vedek Bareil as he was attempting to be elected Kai. (“The Collaborator” [DS9]). Then, when Captain Sisko began experiencing prophetic visions following a plasma burst in 2373 the Orb of Prophecy and Change was used to bring the visions into focus. (“Rapture” [DS9])
Later still Kai Winn attempted to consult the Orb of Prophecy and Change when she was seeking to gain the forgiveness of the Prophets for her encounters with the Pah Wraiths. (“Strange Bedfellows” [DS9])
The Orb of Contemplation
In 2374 the Orb of Contemplation was housed in the Bajoran Temple aboard Deep Space 9. This green orb was used by Gul Dukat as a tool to allow the Pah Wraiths to gain entrance into the Wormhole and collapse the Celestial Temple. (“Tears of the Prophets” [DS9])
The Orb of Wisdom
This purple Orb was confiscated by the Cardassians prior to 2369 and made its way back to Bajor after being purchased by the Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Cardassia III.
It was used by Zek in an attempt to gain a business advantage by using the Prophets’ knowledge of past and future to increase his profit. The result of his efforts were unexpected as the Prophets changed his attitude toward acquisition. Following the encounter Zek wrote The Rules of Acquisition: Revised for the Modern Ferengi and returned the Orb of Wisdom to the Bajorans at no charge. (“Prophet Motive” [DS9])
The Orb of Wisdom played an additional role in the events of Deep Space Nine when Kai Winn looked to the Orb for guidance when deciding whether or not to sign a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. (“In the Cards” [DS9])
Captain Sisko also mentioned the Orb of Wisdom to Agents Dulmur and Lucsly of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations in the episode “Trials and Tribble-ations.”
In literary Star Trek the Orb of Wisdom has appeared in the novel The 34th Rule by Armin Shimerman and David R. George III, and in Avatar by S.D. Perry (the first of the DS9 continuation novels) and Unity, also by Perry.
The Orb of Memory
This Orb did not appear on the television series Deep Space Nine but is one of the five unnamed Orbs in the Bajoran religion. It was given a name in the DS9 continuation novel Avatar by S.D. Perry and appeared again in Perry’s later novel Unity.
The Orb of Memory is said to have been discovered around the 4th century in the Denorios Belt. It was lost in the Badlands in the 24th century while being transported aboard a Cardassian ship and was later discovered by the Enterprise-E.
The Orb of Memory had two significant impacts on the station Deep Space 9, leading Commander Elias Vaughn to accept a position as the station’s first officer following a vision from the Orb when it was discovered by the Enterprise, and leading Kira to an unknown tomb containing the bodies of ten thousand people, the guardians of the Ohalu Prophecies, in the Bajoran holy city of B’hala.
The Orb of Time
The Orb of Time and its purple glow was returned to the Bajorans in 2373 by the Cardassian Detepa Council. As the name suggests, this Orb allows travel through time. The USS Defiant was transporting the Orb back to Bajor when Arne Darvin, the Klingon agent first seen in the TOS episode “The Trouble with Tribbles,” used the Orb to travel back in time one hundred years to Station K-7 in an attempt to kill Captain Kirk. (“Trials and Tribble-ation” [DS9])
Following the events on Station K-7 and the subsequent inquiry by the Department of Temporal Investigations, the Orb of Time was delivered to its new home at the Temple of Iponu on Bajor.
Kira Nerys used the Orb of Time in 2374 to travel back to the year 2346 in order to see the life of her mother on the station during the Cardassian Occupation. Gul Dukat claimed to have had a relationship with Kira Meru. Once discovering, through the help the Orb of Time, that Dukat had indeed had relations with her mother the Major attempted to assassinate Dukat and kill her mother in the past. (“Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night” [DS9])
The Orb of Truth
Another Orb that did not appear on the television series, the Orb of Truth is one of the five unnamed Orbs in the Bajoran religion. Prior to the Cardassian Occupation the Orb of Truth was kept in the Kendra Shrine in Kendra Province on Bajor. This Orb appeared in the novel Day of the Vipers by James Swallow (one of the Terok Nor novels). In the story, the leader of the Cardassian religious group the Oralian Way, Hadlo, uses the Orb of Truth at the request of another Oralian named Benneck as they attempt to decide whether or not to form an alliance with the Bajoran religion.
The Orb of Souls
This Orb, which did not appear on the television series Deep Space Nine but is one of the five unnamed Orbs in the Bajoran religion, was returned to the Bajorans along with the Orb of Destiny and the Orb of Unity in the novel Cathedral by Michael A. Martin.
The Orb of Souls is said by Opaka Sulan to be the most trying on the individual and the least understood of all the Orbs. It has been known to call out to individuals to draw them to it, and was found in an Obsidian Order bunker in Cardassia City in 2376.
In the novel Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods, the Orb of Souls was used by Benjamin Sisko. In the vision he saw seven other Siskos from alternate universes.
The Orb of Souls also appears in another Olivia Woods novel, The Soul Key.
The Orb of Destiny and The Orb of Unity
Little is known about these two Orbs, which did not appear on the television series Deep Space Nine but are two of the five unnamed Orbs in the Bajoran religion. These two Orbs, along with the Orb of Souls, were returned to Bajor by the Cardassians in 2376 in the novel Cathedral by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels.
The Orb of the Emissary
The last Orb to be discovered, the Orb of the Emissary was uncovered in the desert by Captain Sisko on the planet Tyree in 2375. Previously unknown to the Bajorans, the Orb of the Emissary turned out to be the key to restoring the Wormhole and expelling the Pah Wraiths from the Celestial Temple.
Sisko was guided to the Orb of the Emissary following visions of his mother (“Image in the Sand” [DS9]), and the Pah Wraiths attempted to dissuade him by throwing him back into visions of himself as the SF writer Benjamin Russell (“Far Beyond the Stars” [DS9]). Fighting the Pah Wraith visions he finally located the Orb and opened it, releasing the Prophet that had once occupied his mother’s body on Earth. This Prophet then expelled the Pah Wraiths from the Celestial Temple and reopened the Wormhole. (“Shadows and Symbols” [DS9]). This action also restored the other nine Orbs, which had all gone dark when Dukat and the Pah Wraiths had collapsed the Wormhole. (“Tears of the Prophets” [DS9])