On the eve of Bajor's formal entry into the Federation, First Minister Shakaar was assassinated, derailing the induction and plunging the planet and station Deep Space 9 into chaos. Investigation into the murder revealed the presence of a parasitic conspiracy threatening not only Bajor's future with the Federation, but the very survival of both. At the same time, the fracturing of Bajor's theology has put its people on the threshold of a startling transformation - and its consequences now rest on the shoulders of Colonel Kira Nerys, who months ago defied the religious authority of her planet by making public an ancient heretical text that challenged the very foundation of the Bajoran faith. Now, after a harrowing and historic voyage of exploration in the Gamma Quadrant, the weary, wounded crew of Starship Defiant is at last coming home. But the joy of their return is short-lived as the crew becomes swept up in the crisis aboard the station, with many of them confronting personal issues that force them to make life-altering choices. Among those is a grief-stricken Commander Elias Vaughn, who reaches a crossroads in his life's journey and learns the true purpose for which he was Touched by the Prophets - as well as the ultimate fate of Captain Benjamin Sisko. And. . . somewhere on Bajor... a child long awaited is about to be born.