The Orbs are hourglass-shaped mystical artifacts that defy a complete scientific analysis. Once the ornamented casing that envelops each Orb is opened, the device induces powerful visions of the past or the future into people in its vicinity, or it enables the contact with its creators. In some cases Orb visions frequently return for a long time after the actual exposure, a phenomenon known as "Orb shadow". The Orbs, sometimes referred to as "Tears of the Prophets" were created by the Prophets or wormhole aliens of the Bajoran star system. According to the Bajoran religion, the Prophets sent them to guide and to teach the Bajoran people. Nine of these Orbs with different roles have appeared in the skies of Bajor over the course of about ten thousand years. The Cardassians stole all but one Orb before the end of their occupation of Bajor in 2369. Kai Opaka presented the one remaining Orb to Sisko, knowing that he would become the Emissary (DS9: "Emissary"). Although no agreement on the Orbs was found in the Bajoran-Cardassian peace treaty of 2371 (DS9: "Life Support"), several of them were later returned to Bajor, under various circumstances. Finally, a previously unknown Orb, the Orb of the Emissary, was discovered by Benjamin Sisko in 2375, raising their number to a total of ten (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols").
List of Orbs
Unnamed Orb This is one of the original nine Orbs. The Orb creates flashbacks of the past in people exposed to its light. Its color is green. It is the only Orb that was not abducted by the Cardassians, because Kai Opaka kept it in a secret cave on Bajor with a cloaked entrance.
- In 2369 Kai Opaka shows this Orb to Captain Benjamin Sisko when she becomes aware that the Starfleet officer is the Emissary that her people have been waiting for. The Orb evokes visions of the past in Sisko as well as in Jadzia Dax (DS9: "Emissary").
It has been discussed whether this unnamed Orb may be the same as the below Orb of Prophecy and Change. The latter is in Bajoran hands again as soon as 2370, prior to the peace treaty with the Cardassians of 2371. Since the peace treaty explicitly does not resolve the issue of the return of the Orbs, we may infer that no Orb has been given back until then. So it seems the unnamed Orb in "Emissary" has to be the same as the Orb of Prophecy and Change. However, the first provides visions of the past (at least at the two occasions it was seen in "Emissary"), while the latter always allows to look into the future. The first is green, the latter is quite consistently blue. Hence, the two are most likely not identical.
Orb of Prophecy and Change (third Orb) This is one of the original nine Orbs, the third of nine to appear on Bajor. The orb is colored blue. It provides visions of the future, often so powerful that exposure to the Orb is considered harmful.
- It is said that 3000 years ago, Trakor wrote down a series of prophecies under the influence of this Orb (DS9: "Destiny").
- In 2370 the Orb is kept in a monastery under the supervision of Vedek Bareil Antos (DS9: "The Circle").
- In 2370 Vedek Bareil consults the Orb just before the election of the next Kai (DS9: "The Collaborator").
- In 2373 Benjamin Sisko is hit by a plasma surge, which initiates strong visions (pagh'tem'far) in him. In an attempt to guide his thoughts, he seeks the advice of the Orb (DS9: "Rapture").
- In 2374 Bareil Antos from the Mirror Universe, under Mirror Kira's supervision, attempts to steal the Orb of Prophecy and Change and take it to the Mirror Universe. In the Mirror Universe, the wormhole and the Prophets are unknown, and there are no Orbs either. He experiences the Orb, and later changes his mind (DS9: "Resurrection").
- In 2375 Kai Win attempts in vain to consult the Orb (DS9: "Strange Bedfellows").
As it is probably not identical to the unnamed Orb in "Emissary", the Orb of Prophecy and Change may have found its way back to Bajor in a similar fashion as the Orb of Wisdom, involving a third party. -- It is curious that the Intendant and Mirror Bareil attempt to steal an artifact that may be completely worthless in their Mirror Universe, because they can't be sure whether the Prophets exist in the Mirror Universe likewise, or whether our universe's Prophets' power extends there. -- It is unknown why the Orb of Prophecy and Change is transferred from the monastery to the temple on Deep Space Nine, only to be replaced by the Orb of Contemplation some time prior to "Tears of the Prophets".
- In 2371 Grand Nagus Zek purchases the Orb and takes it into the wormhole, in the hopes of gaining knowledge about eternal profit. The Prophets, however, "de-evolve" Zek to a Ferengi without greed. Under this influence Zek rewrites the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, and he plans to donate the Orb to the Bajorans. After Quark's intervention the Prophets revert the Nagus to normal. Zek then announces that he would rather sell the artifact to the Bajorans than give it away for free (DS9: "Prophet Motive").
- In 2373 Benjamin Sisko casually mentions the Orb of Wisdom to the temporal agents Dulmer and Lucsly (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations").
- Also in 2373, Kai Winn requests the Orb's advice regarding the proposed non-aggression pact with the Dominion. The Orb is not shown in the episode (DS9: "In the Cards").
- In 2373 the Cardassian Detapa Council returns the Orb to the Bajorans. When the artifact is aboard the Defiant to be taken home, the Klingon agent Arne Darvin, disguised as a human who was stranded on Cardassia, uses it to travel over 100 years to the past with the intention to kill Captain James T. Kirk. Kirk once exposed him as a Klingon spy. The plan is foiled by the Defiant crew, and Major Kira successfully employs the Orb for the ship's return to the 24th century (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations").
- In 2374 the Orb of Time is kept in the Temple of Iponu on Bajor. In this year Kira Nerys uses the Orb to travel to the year 2346 when her mother, Kira Meru, allegedly had a relationship with Gul Dukat. Kira Nerys is confident that the Prophets would guide her on her way through time. In 2346 she almost kills Dukat and her mother in a bomb blast, but warns them in time to escape (DS9: "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night").
"Wrongs Darker than Death or Night" seems to be the only time that we clearly see the rear side of the Orb casing with essentially flush insets in the side walls instead of the convex windows.
- In late 2374 this Orb has just arrived in the temple on DS9. Jadzia Dax is praying in the temple when Gul Dukat, possessed by a Pah-wraith, materializes. He assaults Dax, fatally injuring Jadzia. He then releases the Pah-wraith into the Orb, allowing the entity to enter the wormhole and attack the Prophets. In the wake of this incident the Orb of Contemplation and all other Orbs go dark. As a result, the Bajoran people cannot contact the Prophets any longer (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets").
Odo asks Kira, "Is this the Orb of Contemplation?", so it must have just been transferred to the station. Though it is never mentioned, we can assume that this Orb was confiscated by the Cardassians as well, taken away from Bajor prior to 2369 and returned most likely some time after the peace treaty of 2371 but before the Dominion War. Or could this be the unnamed Orb shown in "Emissary", whose color is green as well and which was shown initiating some kind of contemplation?
- In 2375 the Orb of the Emissary is discovered by Benjamin Sisko on the planet Tyree, following a series of visions of his actual mother, a Bajoran Prophet occupying the body of Sarah Sisko, and her whereabouts. When Sisko opens the Orb casing, he releases the Prophet that is his mother. The Prophet casts out the Pah-wraith from the wormhole and restores the order in the wormhole as well as the functions of all other Orbs (DS9: "Image in the Sand", "Shadows and Symbols").
It is not explicitly stated, but we can take for granted that Sisko takes the Orb to Bajor.
Orb fragment An orb fragment is embedded in the bracelet of the Sirah, the leader and "storyteller" of a small Bajoran village. The Sirah uses the power of the Orb to unite the village against the Dal'Rok, a creature that is actually the manifestation of negative thoughts in the village (DS9: "The Storyteller").
It seems that this fragment belongs to a still existing Orb, because in "Emissary" it does not sound like one of them was purposely or accidentally shattered.
Most of the images are taken from TrekCore, some additional material has been provided by Jörg. I found various useful information, especially about the Orb in "Emissary", at Memory Alpha. Thanks to Florian Haag for a hint about the rear side of the Orb casing.