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Vorta

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Vorta
Weyoun.jpg
Weyoun 8, a Vorta male (2375)
Kilana.jpg
Kilana, a Vorta female (2373)

The Vorta were a humanoid species genetically engineered by the Founders of the Dominion to act as field commanders, administrators, scientists, and diplomats. The Vorta saw themselves as those who "served the Founders."

History and sociology Edit

Also see: Dominion history

The Vorta believed, perhaps apocryphally, that they previously existed as small, timid, ape-like forest dwellers living in hollowed-out trees to avoid predators on their homeworld, of which there were many. Legend has it that one day, a family of Vorta hid a Changeling from an angry mob of "solids" that were pursuing it. In return, the Changeling promised that, one day, they would be transformed into powerful beings and placed at the head of a vast interstellar empire that would stretch across the galaxy. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")

Although a "family" of Vorta is referred to in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River", no Vorta ever mentioned family at any other time or showed interest in sex, no female Vorta was ever established as pregnant, and no Vorta children were depicted in the entire run of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
According to Star Trek: Star Charts (p. 71), the Vorta homeworld was in fact the planet Kurill Prime as Eris claims in DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", even though her story of a recent Dominion conquest of that world was a lie.

Apparently in fulfillment of the Founders' earlier promise, the Vorta were genetically changed by them into humanoids and were employed at the highest level of the Dominion, as the Founders' tools of conquest. Perhaps the most important of the genetic alterations made to the Vorta was an intrinsic belief that the Founders were gods. This ensured the Vorta's absolute obedience to the Founders. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")

Vorta acted as the commanders of the Jem'Hadar. A single Vorta commanded each Jem'Hadar ship and the Jem'Hadar First was directly responsible to that individual, though the other Jem'Hadar were instead responsible to the First. The Vorta were tasked with the distribution of ketracel-white, a drug that ensured the loyalty of the Jem'Hadar (although it had been indicated that this was not entirely necessary). (DS9: "To the Death")

Numerous other Vorta were doctors. In 2375, a team of Vorta doctors under Weyoun's leadership worked night and day in an attempt to find a vaccine for the morphogenic virus concurrently inflicting the Founders. In compliance with an instruction from the Female Changeling, these Vorta documented their research and were then systematically killed. Their clones were activated and told, by Weyoun, to carry on the analysis; the elimination and replacement of the Vorta doctors was done because the Female Changeling hoped a new perspective might quicken the work. (DS9: "Penumbra")

Physiology Edit

Vorta had pale skin, violet eyes, and elongated ears that were completely joined to the rest of the head. The Founders altered the Vorta genome to include a sense of hearing greater than that of most other humanoid races, but they had comparatively weak eyesight. Vorta were immune to most forms of poison; Weyoun once observed that this trait "came in handy as a diplomat." (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Sacrifice of Angels", "Ties of Blood and Water")

A few Vorta agents, such as Eris, were capable of generating powerful blasts of telekinesis, strong enough to knock an adult Human off his feet. However, this did not appear to be an attribute of most Vorta. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar")

Only one Vorta was demonstrated using telekinesis: Eris. As the DS9 writing staff put more thought into the Vorta following their initial appearance in "The Jem'Hadar", telekinesis was discarded and deemed a misstep that the writing team hoped viewers would forget. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 155) Ronald D. Moore stated, "Our internal rationale has been that Eris was given this ability for a specific purpose by the Founders (and maybe several other Vorta along with her) and that it is not a normal part of the Vorta 'recipe' in the Dominion." (AOL chat, 1998)

Vorta only had a limited sense of taste and aesthetics. They enjoyed kava nuts and rippleberries, as they purportedly did before they were genetically engineered, but little else. Vorta generally had no appreciation for art. (DS9: "Favor the Bold", "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")

Unlike the Jem'Hadar, there were both male and female Vorta in service. If a Vorta was killed, they could be replaced with a clone, the clone retaining all the memories of their predecessor through an unspecified process. Vorta clones could occasionally become defective, taking on different personality traits than those of their predecessors (see Weyoun 6). (DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water", "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")

In the event of capture, Vorta were expected to commit suicide via their termination implant. Vorta were told that this death was quick and painless, but this proved not to be the case. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")

PeopleEdit

Food and beveragesEdit

AppendicesEdit

AppearancesEdit

Background informationEdit

The Vorta were initially conceived as rugged space traders, what Ira Steven Behr has referred to as "Brian Dennehy-types." (The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, DS9 Season 3 DVD special features) He elaborated, "At the beginning, we thought the Vorta were going to be big burly kinds of humanoids that looked like Brian Dennehy or Bob Hoskins. But it didn't work out like that." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 154)

Robert Hewitt Wolfe speculated that the Vorta supplied the Hunters with genetically engineered Tosks. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 154) Wolfe also described the Vorta as "the merchants who would sell the Mongol hordes the machine guns and tanks." Additionally, he explained, "They were supposed to be kind of sexy, and ingratiating, and a little oily." Wolfe wrote about the Vorta in an early Dominion-defining memo, at which point he knew that the Vorta (and the Jem'Hadar) had been genetically engineered by the Founders. "I think, to a certain extent, the Vorta's ability to pull the wool over people's eyes is due to a bit of genetic engineering," Wolfe speculated. "On the other hand it's training, but I think if they do have any kind of psychic ability it's looking at someone and knowing what they want, and what their motivations are. They can then turn around and exploit those things." When he wrote the memo, Wolfe was entirely unsure what the Vorta were like before their DNA was altered by the Founders. "We didn't know what the Vorta started out as," he noted. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13,  p. 57)

The Vorta makeup took approximately two and a half hours to be applied. "And yet when you see the Vorta it doesn't really look all that complicated, but it is," remarked Weyoun actor Jeffrey Combs. He further explained that the look of the Vorta was a collaboration between the makeup and hair departments, and that traveling back-and-forth between the two was what made the process longer. Combs opined that the Vorta makeup was easier to wear than the Ferengi makeup. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 61) He also stated about the Vorta makeup, "[It] was quite comfortable. It was a longer makeup, because hair was involved." Unlike the Ferengi makeup, the Vorta equivalent allowed the wearer to hear quite well, as the Vorta "ears" actually were small holes. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 17,  p. 19)

Following "The Search, Part II", the Vorta seemed to disappear for a while. This was because the DS9 writing staff was extremely busy with other things. Since the Vorta were considered vital to future stories, though, they were eventually brought back late in DS9 Season 4, as a way of keeping the Founders mysterious and withdrawn. "It was necessary to see the Vorta again, as the conduit between them and the Jem'Hadar," explained Ira Behr. That idea led to the possibility of the Vorta having enmity with the Jem'Hadar, and vice versa, which inspired the return of the Vorta in "To the Death". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, p. 168)

Before portraying Weyoun in "To the Death", Jeffrey Combs had never seen a Vorta. "I had no idea what a Vorta looked like until the makeup was done at 6:30 in the morning, when I looked in the mirror," he recalled. [1]

Jeffrey Combs was, however, instrumental in developing the Vorta. "I kind of had a lot [...] [of] input into kind of discovering and fleshing out who this species were," he remembered, "and how they carried themselves, and how they operated and deceived and reassured you and had you... killed." [2] Writer Terry J. Erdmann noted about Combs, "He's one of the reasons the Vorta became so important." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 17,  p. 92) A specific example of how Combs influenced the Vorta was by deciding that, via their body language, they "put people at ease." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, Nos. 4/5, p. 83)

While working on "To the Death", DS9's in-house writers formed the opinion that the Vorta were a significantly more fascinating species to explore than the Jem'Hadar, as Jeff Combs later explained; "That's when they realized that, with Weyoun, it was much more interesting to examine the keepers than it was the Jem'Hadar themselves." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 123,  p. 65) In fact, once "To the Death" introduced the character of Weyoun as played by Combs, the DS9 producers found difficulty with thinking of the Vorta in any other way. This impacted the species when it came time to cast other Vorta roles. "It's really tough to find actors who can play the many colors that he [Combs] gives it," Ira Behr lamented. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 372)

Although Weyoun dies in "To the Death", establishing that the Vorta were genetically engineered, in DS9 Season 5 installment "Ties of Blood and Water", allowed the writing staff to bring the character back as a clone. "As the writers would have it, they merely decided that the Vorta are aliens very adept at cloning," noted Jeff Combs. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 60) Concerning how the advent of Vorta cloning techniques facilitated the return of Weyoun, Ira Behr commented, "It seemed like a viable way of doing it." The idea of introducing cloning into Vorta society also fit well with the Founders having been established as skilled at genetic engineering. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 442)

Although the fact that a Vorta clone retained the memories of their predecessor wasn't initially established, Jeff Combs suspected at the end of the fifth season that this was the case. "The Vorta have probably succeeded in being able to clone with everything intact, including memory," he reckoned. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 60) Bradley Thompson later hypothesized, "We assume [...] they download their memories every so often into some kind of 'brain jar.' It's just like backing up a computer program. You still have what you had the previous time you backed it up. But if you had a bad disk or something like that, it's going to be a corrupted copy." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 618)

Jeff Combs was also of the opinion that a less serious aspect of the Vorta was introduced in "Ties of Blood and Water". "[We learned] that the Vorta [...] have a sense of fun. They do love games," Combs observed. "That's the one thing that I'm exploring – their genuine joy and a childish enthusiasm for everything. So at least we got that conveyed in that episode." Similarly, Combs thought the absolutism of the Vorta mindset was explored in subsequent season five episode "In the Cards". "I think that you see the lethal side of these [Vorta]," he said. "They'll hold no quarter. They won't take any nonsense." Suspecting that the Vorta and the rest of the Dominion were manipulating Dukat when they form an alliance in the fifth season, Combs stated, "I don't think the Vorta trust anybody [....] The Vortas [sic] are very gentle and pleasant cobras." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, Nos. 6/7, p. 60)

Some new details regarding the Vorta were added, through the characterization of Weyoun, in a six-part Dominion War arc at the start of DS9 Season 6. These facets of the species were introduced by the show's writing staff and Jeff Combs. "They explored the Vorta a little bit more," said Combs, "and through me, let some of their weaknesses be known." Speaking from the perspective of the Vorta, Combs referred to these vulnerabilities as "chinks in our armor." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 68)

At the end of the sixth season, Jeff Combs was extremely pleased with how the DS9 writers were continuing to develop the Vorta. "Through their writing they are really exploring who these guys are. That's great," he commented. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 68)

Much of the workload which Makeup Supervisor Michael Westmore had to contend with during the seventh and final season of DS9 consisted of manufacturing Vorta ears for the character of Weyoun (along with Klingon foreheads for Worf). (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 594)

In an initial form of the story for DS9 Season 7 entry "Treachery, Faith and the Great River", it was eventually revealed that the Vorta were intended to be replaced by a new Dominion race of warriors named the Modain, resulting in "the phasing-out" of all the Vorta. As the story evolved, the concept of a Modain hatchery developed into some references to the Vorta cloning process, although the idea of the Vorta being replaced by the Modain was essentially discarded, instead changed into the replacement of Weyoun 6 by Weyoun 7. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 617)

The notion of revealing some backstory about the Vorta, in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" (in whose title the word "faith" was intended to refer to the Vorta religion), was thought up by Ira Behr, as a way to deepen Weyoun 6's backstory. "Ira finally hit upon the idea of telling the story behind how the Vorta formed their alliance with the Founders," David Weddle recollected. With a shrug, Behr himself explained, "The episode called for it. I like to get the audience thinking one way about a character or a race, making them think that these are definitely the bad guys. Then you slip something like this in so they have to reevaluate the opinion you've already given them." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 618-619)

Jeff Combs was appreciative of how much insight into the Vorta was provided for viewers in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River". [3] He elaborated by saying that one thing he highly valued about how the species was developed in that episode was how he was "able to bring to life all that backstory, of where the Vorta came from, and why they are so beholden to the Founders, and why they are so ingrained in their loyalty to them." Combs added, "I was learning all along with everybody else." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, Nos. 4/5, p. 83)

The Vorta backstory in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" was also popular with several of the DS9 writers. David Weddle reminisced, "It was brilliant. It was the one thing that we needed." Ira Behr commented about the Vorta, "These are still the bad guys, but now, at least, you understand something about why. So I just loved that the Vorta, this calculating, Machiavellian race, started out as Hobbit-like cute little creatures who were genetically altered and directed to do these horrible things." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 618 & 619) However, Robert Wolfe, who had left the series by the time "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" was in development, got the mistaken impression that, prior to their contact with the Founders, the Vorta were non-sentient "squirrels!" He remarked, "I thought [that] was pretty funny." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 13,  p. 57)

Jeff Combs suspected the Vorta were too clever to be affected by the destruction of their cloning facilities. "If you don't think that the Vorta are clever enough to not put all their cloning eggs in one basket, you're sadly mistaken. They're out there somewhere!" he exclaimed. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 17,  p. 18) Combs made much the same statement to Ira Behr, later recalling, "I said to Ira, 'If you think that the Vorta have all their clones in one basket, you've got another think coming." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 708)

At one point, Jeff Combs drew a parallel between the Vorta and "corporate middle men." Concerning how the Vorta were able to charm people into forgetting their own aims, Combs mused that the Vorta were akin to "the guy from the corporate office who comes into the branch, and looks over the books, and reassures everybody that there is no problem, and leaves. Then the edicts come down, and the hammer falls, and they don't understand what could have happened because everything went so well with the audit." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 68)

Ronald D. Moore once speculated, "Even the Vorta know that Starfleet engineers can do just about anything." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 500)

Ira Behr characterized the Vorta as "the most untrustworthy guys" in the galaxy. Behr also described the Vorta as "one of the most immobile of characters" but having a "demented quality." Behr referred to Weyoun and Yelgrun as possessing the latter characteristic and, when interviewed, he suggested, "Think Caligula!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 703 & 517)

In an interview StarTrek.com apparently conducted with the adult Horta from TOS: "The Devil in the Dark", the Horta claimed it was occasionally mistaken as a Vorta, though they look nothing alike. [4]

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