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Nerys Ghemor September 12 2010 10:30 PM

September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Author's note: This story contains mild spoilers for the premise of The Thirteenth Order. Further inspiration is owed to the Coldplay song, "Spies."


Star Trek:
Sigils and Unions
“Immersion”


Cardassian Guard Vigilance Inquisitorium—Engineering Campus
Keshat Akleen, Cardassia Prime
Union Year 483
[Federation Year 2353]

The water slid around the diminutive figure sitting on the lake floor under the shadow of the fishing pier. Only the bubbles rising from her underwater breather might give any indication to a surface observer that she was there—that is, if they bothered to look directly under the pier. To the transponder all students at the Cardassian Guard’s main training campus had implanted immediately upon arrival and removed only upon graduation, there was little difference except at close range between standing on the dock and sitting just over three meters under it.

Beneath the surface, everything, including the grey of her skin, took on the bluish cast of the water. The scientific mind of Ragoç Zejil Rebek understood this perfectly well: the sky of Cardassia Prime might tend towards reddish hues, but water did particularly well at absorbing the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum thanks, oddly enough, to molecular vibrations that just happened to be within range of the Cardassian eye in a way that even deuterium ‘water’ could never manage. This meant that the further one got under the surface, the more everything shifted towards the blue.

She reflected upon that explanation with equanimity and reverence—here, transitioning into engineering and scientific studies after a stint as a sniper on the Federation front, she was privileged to gaze directly into the deepest known mechanisms used in the creation of the universe.

The creation of the universe—the Shaping. Even to suggest the possibility was a crime. To be caught in meditation and prayer…far worse. And to those caught actively propagating such opinions went the most humiliating and public demise one could imagine. They strip the significance from the universe so that in the people’s minds, they’re the only ‘living’ thing left standing, Rebek thought. If this can be called living.

None of this was how it ought to be. For Rebek, the breather in her mouth offered security in more ways than one. Even alone, she should have been at liberty to vocalize her prayers if she were so moved. But just like it had been for generations, all she had was silent meditation in the most desperate of places. She should have prayed in the company of believers. Maybe she would have had a recitation mask to symbolize the drawing-in of Oralius’ spirit. She should have had the Hebitian Records before her instead of ‘reading’ it through the memory of her mother’s recitations. She should have heard about her faith from birth, instead of having it withheld until her parents hoped that Zejil was old enough to hear and believe, but young enough that they hadn’t yet taught her the ‘value’ of denouncing her own family. For if caught, she would be considered a traitor to the Union…this in spite of the fact that they weren’t traitors to Cardassia, which the Rebeks still served faithfully even if their leaders did not.

Reluctantly, she rejected the bitterness. She didn’t have time for that now…this time belonged to Oralius. And it was limited.

She closed her eyes and reached out with her bioelectric sense as she readied herself for the Invocation. Underwater the sixth Cardassian sense hummed with remnants of the reach and intensity the early, river-dwelling ancestors of Cardassia’s therapsids had known. Life buzzed around her…and it didn’t matter that she understood what she sensed and why it was so intense here. Knowing the timelines and the reasons and the mechanisms did not tarnish the sanctity of the design, for that it still was. To understand, to adore, to give thanks…

Predator near!

Rebek’s eyes flew open, ridges went wide. Fear escaped the confines of her heart, played out on her face: damning evidence. She just barely resisted the impulse to spit the breather as the shock shot down her spine and neck ridges: for too right the prehistoric instinct was.

Pale scales…great, round ridges…eyes like the water—

He stared—he comprehended.

How easily broken was the lineage of believers.



About time! exulted the twenty-two year old final-year deghilzin at the Inquisitorium as he flew down the dock. His ‘rank,’ such as it was, spoke of a tiny stone piece—a tessella, in terhăn terminology, meaningless on its own, but capable of serving as part of the strong, finished mosaic of Cardassia. The Guard inquisitors took great pains to make sure the deghi’ilzin understood their subordinate status, dictating every moment of their lives until their final year where…if they performed sufficiently…they earned one hour of leisure time to themselves, chosen from a list of acceptable activities. And finally, it was his turn.

Deghilzin Berat leaped off the end of the dock—tucked his legs and grabbed them close to his body—and then—ke-prăç! Water thundered around him and pulled him in. He surfaced for a second and laughed, childlike, at the concentric rings still echoing from his point of entry and the tickling of the water as it skittered along the outsides of his eye ridges. Maybe his community-pool, splash-maximizing Srivec’piyrdbre—‘the Divebomber’—wasn’t the form the Guard would have preferred, and he would be a good deghilzin and practice a stealthier, more appropriate diving form…eventually. But he just had to do it.

Right now, though…he felt like pushing his body in a different way. As he kicked at the water, he pulled on a set of goggles, which nestled just on the insides of his eye ridges. Then he drew in a deep breath, and pushed himself under.

The world…transformed here. Colors changed and he swam, a creature revisiting the home to which his forbears had once belonged and which he could no longer quite possess. It was a feeling of age, of constancy—and something else…he couldn’t put a word to it. Tradition? That wasn’t quite it. It was as though reality had morphed its nature in some way he was helpless to describe.

A shadow shifted overhead. A cloud? No—not this time of year…the dock. And he felt something—electric, alive, too big for a fish or even a lake-ray…

She sat cross-legged on the lakebed in full diving gear, eyes closed, heedless of her environment in any way that meant anything…small and serene—beautiful, but above his station, for she seemed to possess at least a few more years than he did…

This impression lasted for less than a second.

There was nothing overt here, no words, no gestures, just silence and repose, head bowed as if to an invisible superior officer...but here, in isolation, this was no ordinary biofeedback meditation or martial discipline. Primitive ritualistic behavior. That was how their textbooks and inquisitors described it—the rituals of the Bajorans, and the fantasies of those few Cardassians who still clung to the ancient superstitions whose purveyors would have destroyed Cardassia at the start of the Cataclysm, if not for the brave revolutionaries led by Tret Akleen.

This was an Oralian—a traitor—right in front of him.

Even in hiding they were traitors, all of them—heretics against the state and all that Cardassia stood for. He didn’t even have to confront her. All he had to do was go to one of his Inquisitors, the Inquisitor would call in the Obsidian Order, he would give them the time and the place, and they would determine whose transponder had been active in the area at the time. There were only two of them…it wouldn’t be hard. He would do his duty, and it would be quite the auspicious beginning to the career of a young deghilzin, soon to assume the rank of ragoç. His family would be so proud, that their son served the Union thus…

Her eyes were open now—terrified…hurt. Resolute.

Look at me now: I am going to die.

He had seen the faces of the condemned on the trial broadcasts with every conceivable emotion on their faces—some in futile defiance, some in hollow defeat, and every shade in between. He knew classmates who had actually watched a trial in person, from the observation loft. As a child he had spied the defeated subject of an arrest once, from a distance, before his parents whisked him away. But he had never actually seen one of the guilty up close and looked into their living eyes. No one had ever before looked at Tayben Berat in fear.

He broke away, rose to the surface, and sucked in air. He pushed off against one of the pylons of the dock and kicked hard, as though the movement away might kick his brain into gear and force a decision. He couldn’t hear over the sound of each stroke what might be happening behind him.

Burn it all—this conundrum was unbecoming of the officer of the Cardassian Guard he was soon to be! No one had ever said doing his duty was easy—there was a reason people spoke of sacrifice: sometimes you felt for, even loved those who had erred too gravely for pardon, but you accepted the pain and did what was required of you. If anyone figured out what this woman was doing here, if anyone reviewed the transponder records, if anyone realized he should have seen, then if he failed to report her in a timely manner, he too would be deemed a traitor. What right had he to withhold crucial information for himself?

His stomach heaved—he pulled himself up onto the opposite dock just in time as the cramps doubled him over. She had done nothing to him. What had she done to anyone? He couldn’t. He couldn’t.

Deghilzin Berat shook with chill and dread. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t a soldier’s response to naked sedition—what was it? He had to stay here as long as he was scheduled to; that was the only way they’d believe he never saw anything. He had to forget…but his eidetic memory wouldn’t let him. Might of Cardassia—have I just signed my own denunciation?



A day passed. Then a week, then another, and a month. The term ended, family week came, and his parents, brothers, and grandparents conducted an experiment in just how many Berats could squeeze into a tiny barracks room during their daily visits, with more and more arriving every day. After family week came and went without an Obsidian Order agent bursting into the room to demand their surrender—his for covering for an Oralian, and his family’s for raising a son who would—Tayben Berat finally breathed an inward sigh of relief. It was over.

Then the new term began and he went to his first class—Theoretical Physics, Second Term. He looked up at the front row, where the highest-ranking members of the class sat, and…

Oh, no—it’s her!

She wore the full armor of a commissioned officer of the Guard, her cuirass naming her a ragoç in continuing education. This meant she would graduate as a full riyăk, whereas Deghilzin Berat would assume the rank she would soon leave. At least, he hoped he’d last that long.

Berat just barely suppressed a gasp…and not just at the fact that the Oralian woman actually served the Guard as a career officer, not just a conscriptee. She had to have chosen that. It made no sense—they hated the Union and all it stood for, they had nearly driven Cardassia to destruction in their decadent ways, blinding them to the hard necessities…

This has got to be someone’s idea of a sick joke! Either that or the Obsidian Order was giving him a final chance. But they don’t give second chances, he reminded himself. That is, unless they’re trying to take down someone else along with me. He was a good Cardassian, after all—he wouldn’t have even needed a conservator to confess what he’d done, the way it had eaten at him for the rest of the last term. But who else could they possibly take down with him? He hadn’t said a word, hadn’t committed any more even questionable acts. If they knew that much, they would have to know it was pointless to draw it out any further. He had to assume that…he couldn’t let it tear him apart, not this close to graduation. He couldn’t make any contact or give any sign. Neither of us dare.

He shook his head. He didn’t like what that phrasing implied.

Now, Berat walked through the Inquisitorium’s engineering library. His coursework came on isolinear rods rather than by download, as did all material given to unproven deghi’ilzin—the better to control information access. As walked past the study cubicles towards the rack the search console had indicated, something cracked across the desk next to him like the snap of plasma in a faulty conduit, an impression furthered by the irritated flare of a bioelectric field nearby.

“Everything all right?” Berat asked.

She’d slammed her stylus down, her other fist clenched in frustration. For the first instant she stared at her padd, a strange expression on her face…like a profound meditation disrupted. It registered then—she wore full armor, not the black and grey deghilzin’s jacket with neither rank nor station—

Hăcet! he raged to himself—chaos! He’d spoken without thinking before his eyes even fixed on the source, and in a manner that invited a response—there was no evading it now.



Ragoç Rebek swiveled around in her chair—and froze.

She’d seen this deghilzin sitting in Theoretical Physics a few rows back from him, but he never looked up—at least, not when she was around. Those great, bright eyes stared at her like the personification of Fate, the depth of the blue bizarrely unchanged in the light of the open air. She had suspected, but by those striking irises, she knew. The Obsidian Order had been toying with her this entire time…and he must have been working for them. This was the endgame. Her stomach sank; she summoned every bit of her discipline as an officer of the Cardassian Guard to keep her face unperturbed. So young—yet he held her life in his hands.

Then why did those eyes blink as though startled, the rest of his body seemingly paralyzed? Be calm, she schooled herself. Maybe this wasn’t what it seemed. Play this out…see where it goes.

“Yes, Deghilzin,” she stated. “I am not in need of assistance…I release you.” She could have dismissed him far more bluntly and been well within standard protocol, but dared not--neither ally nor enemy could be safely treated thus.

The youthful man’s lip quirked up ever so slightly as though amused in spite of himself—his eyes were no longer on her, but on her padd, taking in the tangled mess of equations she’d succeeded in creating over the past ten minutes. Irritation flushed hot through her neck ridges. His eyes darted off to the side, searching for an escape route and finding none. “Ragoç…” He swallowed. “Permission to speak.”

Rebek inclined her head just barely.

“I realize that my position is nothing compared to yours. I also realize that we are…of different specialties.” He spoke those words with a strange caution, something more than mere deference. Factually they were true; Rebek’s concentration was applied engineering—Berat, his name was, focused on the theoretical, and he had consistently outperformed her in this most frustrating of classes. “But I mean no challenge to you by offering assistance. That said, if you would rather not have it, I will obey.”

His eyes pierced into hers just like they had under the lake…except this time, he seemed desperate for her to understand something. That last part had been nothing but pure ritual. But the rest…

“Perhaps,” she allowed, her heart drumming a furious cadence in the center of her chest, “if I find I can’t resolve this myself, I will take you up on that. You are Berat, correct?” He nodded as though he had run out of words. “I should be fine for now, though.”

Satisfied—relieved, Berat bowed and excused himself with a barely-audible mumble that might been endearing under better circumstances.

Only after he’d been gone for an hour did it hit Rebek what Berat had meant. The second part had been simple enough: I mean no challenge. In other words, I am no threat to you. The first part...eventually she’d realized it was his way of telling her that he did not share her beliefs. Yet he had not…and for whatever reason, would not, denounce her.

Merciful Oralius, she prayed, open eyes scouring the equations once more. I don’t know what you did—but I give thanks to you for sparing my life.

Nerys Ghemor September 12 2010 10:30 PM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Cardassian Union Warship Romac
Thirteenth Order Rebellion
Union Year 505
[Federation Year 2375]

Gul Tayben Berat sat in the mess hall aboard the Romac, quietly observing the improbable pair that stood by the elliptical observation window. There stood Zejil Rebek now—a tiny presence, physically, for the rank she carried…but even if she hadn’t been one of his dearest friends, he had to laugh silently at the thought of how hypocritical it would be for him, of all people, to comment. Especially after how she had stood by him after the Fist of Revenge coup, and the incident on Volan III. He certainly hadn’t forgotten how she’d rebuked Malyn Ocett after the comments the other gul had made right to Berat’s face, after his injuries. She might think Rebek nothing but a tiny ‘pocket vompăt,’ but he knew better. And he’d heard how she had fought on the surface of Lessek, as well. If he had ever doubted how she would do her duty in light of her complicated allegiances—those days were gone many years ago.

At her side, the terhăn lieutenant commander, Spirodopoulos, fixed his face reverently upon the stars and without the slightest hint of shame, made that same strange sign Berat had seen him make at the funeral: one hand, first three fingertips together, forehead to chest, shoulder to shoulder. As if it weren’t surreal enough already to see this alien wearing the armor of the Cardassian Guard, fitted perfectly to him in every way except for the narrowness of his neck, it seemed even more incongruous to see this armored man make such a gesture without a single thought as to what anybody might think. Or at least, without any fear of what anybody would do to him for it.

Zejil—and she had granted him the right to call her Zija, as only her family and childhood friends could—watched him in complete stillness and, if he wasn’t mistaken, a touch of sadness. She said something to him then; he heard nothing—maybe she asked him what that sign meant. But she could never tell him why she cared. Even on the same ship…he was free. She still was not. Even here, isolated from the rest of the Guard, even after inviting the alliance with the Starfleet soldiers under Spirodopoulos’ command, there were still those who would kill her if they realized what she was—and especially in this time of shattered hierarchy. Too many violations of the norms, and people were likely to snap.

What was that term he’d used for their observances twenty-two years ago? Yes…primitive ritualistic behavior.

That wasn’t what he saw now. She scrutinized the stars with the knowing eyes of a scientist; in return, they cast their cool white sheen upon her scales. The delicate blue pigments on her forehead and neck ridges iridesced at this touch, and as he watched, he felt as though he saw, obliquely, what it was that had frustrated her so severely that day in the Inquisitorium library. This painstaking study was for her a form of meditation and reverence—when she’d found her efforts frustrated, perhaps she had found it disruptive like the intrusion of his bioelectric field upon her prayer. It meant something to her.

Even if she couldn’t speak openly to the man, she had to know that Spirodopoulos would comprehend her Way in a sense that most of her own species did not—not even her closest friend, who had kept her secret all this time and sown such trust between them that he could ask her to join this rebellion and she barely even blinked before she said ‘yes.’ But that wasn’t the same as speaking and truly being understood. He felt as though he were standing in the wrong place. He wished…he wasn’t sure what he longed for, but something would have to change before he could find out.

But I wouldn’t change Zija.

That much he knew.

Gul Re'jal September 13 2010 01:32 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Berat didn't like someone being afraid of him, did he? He didn't enjoy this feeling.
And I think the fact that in spite of being Oralian she still chose to serve in the Guard gave him a lot to think about... Maybe those people weren't really traitors, as the official status insisted? Maybe they could still be good Cardassians, who cared about their Union and wanted to serve to the best of their abilities?

When he jumped to water and laughed - I had to laugh too :D

And I like his last thoughts. He's in love all right! :adore:

Nerys Ghemor September 13 2010 01:43 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Quote:

Gul Re'jal wrote: (Post 4383966)
Berat didn't like someone being afraid of him, did he? He didn't enjoy this feeling.

You're right, that wasn't comfortable for him at all. He likes people and cares what they think. Not in a servile way, but he definitely responds to the "energy" of people around him. It's kind of like how, in the library, he automatically reacted to help her before he realized who she was. That's his natural first impulse.

Quote:

And I think the fact that in spite of being Oralian she still chose to serve in the Guard gave him a lot to think about... Maybe those people weren't really traitors, as the official status insisted? Maybe they could still be good Cardassians, who cared about their Union and wanted to serve to the best of their abilities?
Yeah, he definitely had a lot to think about. He's also a person that responds very easily to other people's pain--so some of it was very much emotion instead of logic.

Quote:

When he jumped to water and laughed - I had to laugh too :D
I liked writing the diving scene, too. If he'd been human, and had this as part of his culture, he would've been running down the dock yelling, "CANNONBALLLLLLLL!" :D

I haven't had many chances to show what happens when you flip his "silly switch" in The Thirteenth Order or his other stories, so I just had to while I had the chance. ;)

George Steinbrenner September 13 2010 04:11 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Is this Berat related to the one from the novel Betrayal? (I'm guessing they're not the same person, as the latter one never made it to Gul, AFAIK)

Gul Re'jal September 13 2010 04:33 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
It is the same Berat :) If you want to know more about him, you can read more Berat stories by Nerys Ghemor. I highly recommend them! :bolian:

George Steinbrenner September 13 2010 04:43 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Oops, my bad, it's been too long since I read them last. :alienblush:

Nerys Ghemor September 13 2010 05:24 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Thanks for reading, MLB...I hope you liked it!

I imagine this as being the same Berat, yes, though I've imagined a lot of things in his past and future, after that book, that were never in the book. (I also retconned a few small things in Betrayal to make them fit with things revealed in later seasons of DS9.) And something very, very major happened to my Berat in 2371 that really creates the character that I write.

So you've read Betrayal? Didn't Ms. Tilton do a wonderful job with it? :D

George Steinbrenner September 13 2010 06:22 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
^ Yep. I actually kind of somewhat approved of Dukat in that instance - he genuinely seemed to show some concern for Berat. Plus I did so love how they restored Berat's rank retroactively, so the man Berat killed had his own life forfeited anyway for striking a superior officer (which Berat was, as he was an officer and the other guy was a noncom)! :lol:

As for this story, I loved the bit about finding out how many Berats could fit into Tayben's dorm room. Kind of like a Cardassian clown car. :guffaw:

Nerys Ghemor September 13 2010 06:37 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Quote:

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: (Post 4384433)
^ Yep. I actually kind of somewhat approved of Dukat in that instance - he genuinely seemed to show some concern for Berat. Plus I did so love how they restored Berat's rank retroactively, so the man Berat killed had his own life forfeited anyway for striking a superior officer (which Berat was, as he was an officer and the other guy was a noncom)! :lol:

I (kinda) liked Dukat there, too. Though FYI, in my own stories, Berat found Dukat insufferable on the shuttle ride back to Cardassia. ;)

Quote:

As for this story, I loved the bit about finding out how many Berats could fit into Tayben's dorm room. Kind of like a Cardassian clown car. :guffaw:
LOL, yeah, I admit I had the "how many people can fit into a Volkswagen" image there. :lol: I felt sorry for Berat's roommate--but I'm sure after this happening in previous years, he'd heard about what was coming and got the heck out of there! ;) But seriously, while it was a funny moment, I really, REALLY, REALLY wanted a chance to get even a brief look into how Berat related to his family when they were alive (well, we know Karel and Tal did live...and I imagine they were part of the "experiment" too--but still).

Deranged Nasat September 14 2010 02:51 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
I really liked the transition from Berat having fun to Berat finding a “traitor”; I loved how disturbingly smooth it was. It really showcases what’s gone wrong with modern Cardassia how someone like Berat can be...usurped...like that. It’s sad how easily, swiftly and fluidly even the mindset of someone like Berat can turn from appreciation of the self – like here, his own individual sense of fun, which he’s initially engaged with - into the depersonalized order of the state. The excessive, unquestioning duty, separate from any individual concern or sense of personal duty, comes so naturally– if you’ll forgive the term, because I actually see it (as I suppose you do) as a corruption of the natural, or of something natural turned into something twisted. The writing was really effective in this part. There’s no break, no jarring shift, except intellectually. It’s as if Berat (the actual individual) has had a shock at this discovery, but the “good Cardassian citizen”- the universal underlying identity- hasn’t, and so it easily slips in to thoughtlessly take over. Until, of course, he looks into Rebek’s eyes and his individual empathy kicks back, and breaks that pattern of thinking, that directive that’s taken control. Now he’s back to confronting himself and Rebek as individuals again. That whole aspect of your piece here really worked – the initial shift away from the self was so insidious in its entry, the writing makes no attempt to “note it” or draw attention to what’s happening. It just happens. Until Berat pulls back. It’s like Berat has in him some dark and twisted mirror to something like Oralius, only instead of transcending his isolated self to connect to creation meaningfully, this has pulled him away from himself into a...I don’t know, a quagmire of everything that’s not life or meaningful existence, that’s not appreciation. It’s like an inversion of Oralius, pulling him into itself in a way that suffocates him, rather than extending him by letting him move through it. Thinking on your title again, I guess it’s two types of “immersion”- one healthy, the other not.

I really did feel the sense that Berat was trapped - and whether it was a trap of his own making or of the position the Union had put him in is difficult to say. It was blurred (and you always do this sort of thing well - the balance between the self-responsibility and the communal spirit). But it was definitely a sense of being outmanoeuvred by something. When Berat does start to feel personal distaste at casually destroying another life (which he’d do if he reported Rebek, of course, even if indirectly), the “sacrifice” angle kicks in to justify that pain and try to turn it back to blind obedient duty. I really liked how that played out. It’s like he’s been anticipated at every turn. The state’s philosophy is near inescapable, because it’s already seeped in, and now moves two steps ahead. It’s like the internal version of a Founder changeling - it matches so well I can’t be sure (maybe Berat himself can’t), where the real thing begins and the infiltrator ends. Oh, we can tell that the raw empathy and respect for life is Berat – that’s certainly not the depersonalized “state” - but the mass of conflicting duties that it has to work in, that’s difficult to define as either him or his conditioning. Which is which? And that’s another aspect of this I liked; I couldn’t tell if I was reading it as an entirely internal piece - Berat dealing with his own conflicting impulses only - or instead as Berat versus something else, versus some externalized force (I suppose “modern Cardassian state ideology”). Which I’m assuming is in part the point. The de-individualizing of the ideologies controlling the union are so dangerous because they don’t simply deny the individual, they usurp the individual (which is sort of what I meant earlier by a dark or twisted Oralius-like concept. Where the individual ends and the collective spirit that touches all begins – only here it’s not a divine or a spirit but an ideological poison). Where does Berat begin and the Union ends?

And that of course leads into that other theme – of a sense of duty, of how it plays out and the different meanings of duty. Another thing along that angle that I liked (as others like Gul Rej’al have said), was the fact that Rebek evidently sees the Way and the Guard as equally legitimate parts of herself, and integrates them effectively. She’s able to find the good in both, not see them as fundamentally in conflict. That’s a very, very Trek thing to do - and as always, I really appreciate seeing your angle on the Trek universe, through the instrument of a culture very different from the Federation’s, yet touching on the same ideas- integration, tolerance, self-respect, making things work in harmony and refusing to accept that just because in many ways they’re different it has to somehow mean they are apart. And finally I loved the underlying theme in this about understanding (a concept I’m as concerned with- interested in- as I think you are). I personally believe that to be understood is the most important thing. Love, hate, humour, friendship, exasperation- they all come later, or come second (no matter how important they are). So I really appreciated that.

Nerys Ghemor September 14 2010 03:29 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
DN--You sound like you're describing the other half of the Invocation! (Which is the name I gave to it in my own universe, not an official one...it actually appeared in A Stitch in Time first.)

When used in a service, two people recite it.

Quote:

The power that moves through me, Animates my life, Animates the mask of Oralius, To speak her words with my voice, To think her thoughts with my mind, To feel her love with my heart, It is the song of morning, Opening up to life, Bringing truth of her wisdom, To those who live in the shadow of the night.

To which the second will reply:

It is this selfsame power, Turned against creation, Turned against my friend, That can destroy his body with my hand, Reduce his spirit with my hate, Separate his presence from my home: To live without Oralius, Lighting our way to the source, Connecting us to the mystery, Is to live without the tendrils of love.
Mind you--I think that duty and selflessness are key values, and that Western society has dangerously de-emphasized them. And I also think that Cardassians have a natural instinct for order and hierarchy (which does NOT have to be used that way--which is one reason I write an AU Cardassia). But very obviously the Cardassian Union has gone too far.

In the end, I think we have to look at the decisions that Berat makes--and those tell us who he is. I think this moment really taught Berat a lot about who he is, too.

What's really interesting about Rebek, when you think about it, is that she was actually a front-line soldier, at the beginning of her career, like Daro, or Miles O'Brien. (Now, the transfer isn't one I think she actually asked for--I suspect that some of the rigid ideas about gender were what triggered it.) I think that her beliefs would've influenced her conduct as a soldier. Come to think of it, it may even be part of why she was a sniper. Snipers choose their targets carefully; they're not as likely to kill the wrong person. I think it would fit with a religious view that killing should not be indiscriminate.

Deranged Nasat September 14 2010 03:47 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
Quote:

Nerys Ghemor wrote: (Post 4386478)
DN--You sound like you're describing the other half of the Invocation! (Which is the name I gave to it in my own universe, not an official one...it actually appeared in A Stitch in Time first.)

When used in a service, two people recite it.

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The power that moves through me, Animates my life, Animates the mask of Oralius, To speak her words with my voice, To think her thoughts with my mind, To feel her love with my heart, It is the song of morning, Opening up to life, Bringing truth of her wisdom, To those who live in the shadow of the night.

To which the second will reply:

It is this selfsame power, Turned against creation, Turned against my friend, That can destroy his body with my hand, Reduce his spirit with my hate, Separate his presence from my home: To live without Oralius, Lighting our way to the source, Connecting us to the mystery, Is to live without the tendrils of love.

I'm kicking myself now, because I totally didn't think of that, but now you remind me of it...yes, I think that it and I are saying much the same thing. :)

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Nerys Ghemor wrote: (Post 4386478)
Mind you--I think that duty and selflessness are key values, and that Western society has dangerously de-emphasized them.

I think I agree (especially as I have such things in my mind a lot at present). Whether I would approach duty and selfishness in quite the same way as you I don't know (and of course I doubt it actually matters if and how we differ), but the basic sentiment is one I definitely see (though maybe not as clearly as you, for several reasons- and I'm not saying that to condemn myself, but just to say that I have a few things I need to work through and work out within myself before I can really attempt to grasp the issue. I suspect you might have a clearer view of it) :)

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Nerys Ghemor wrote: (Post 4386478)
And I also think that Cardassians have a natural instinct for order and hierarchy (which does NOT have to be used that way--which is one reason I write an AU Cardassia). But very obviously the Cardassian Union has gone too far.

I most definitely agree with all this, and you always make it quite clear that there is nothing inherently bad about the Cardassian way- only that it has become corrupted and dangerously twisted under the modern regimes, and could just as easily be turned to something stable, productive and noble if the right choices had been/are made. :)

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Nerys Ghemor wrote: (Post 4386478)
In the end, I think we have to look at the decisions that Berat makes--and those tell us who he is. I think this moment really taught Berat a lot about who he is, too.

What's really interesting about Rebek, when you think about it, is that she was actually a front-line soldier, at the beginning of her career, like Daro, or Miles O'Brien. (Now, the transfer isn't one I think she actually asked for--I suspect that some of the rigid ideas about gender were what triggered it.) I think that her beliefs would've influenced her conduct as a soldier. Come to think of it, it may even be part of why she was a sniper. Snipers choose their targets carefully; they're not as likely to kill the wrong person. I think it would fit with a religious view that killing should not be indiscriminate.

This is why you write so well- you always show us readers that a lot of thought has gone into the characters, and the thinking and beliefs they show. You write with an appreciation of the intellect and the soul that really comes through.

I don't know what else to say, and I don't mean to sound repetitive...but I really like your writing. :)

Nerys Ghemor September 14 2010 04:01 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
I appreciate your taking the time to write such thoughtful responses. :)

Supreme Dittodrone September 14 2010 04:59 AM

Re: September Challenge: Sigils and Unions--"Immersion"
 
I could never come close to approaching the eloquence of Nasat's review...so I will simply write as I will.

A wonderful, endearing look into Berat's past--and indeed, a hint as to the origins of the great conflict within him for so long--the origins of his tragic, tortured soul, in a softer, sadder sense than the incident with the Maquis kid-shooter.

This simple act of mercy--which goes against everything that had been bred into him by The State--this act of defiance against they oppresive tyrrany of the regime--this makes him far more of a hero, far more of a man (or what the Cardassian word for that is, as he is not a "human"...) than Dukat ever was.

Much like Damar, his conscience runs deep and strong. But unlike Damar--who had tried to drum it away through drink--Berat chose to accept it from the beginning, painful though it may be for him.

Zejil is also a wonderful character, very well developed. (Do we see her in Thirteenth Order, BTW, as a character...or is she just in the background? My memory's turned to clay on that, it's so darn long between installments....:p)

Her relationship with Berat--his mercy towards her, her discovery of his release of her from fear...and that she grants him the use of her "endearment" name (in private, I assume...)--is very sweet and endearing.

(Hmm...out of curiosity, how far does their friendship go?)

I hope we'll see more of her in Thirteenth Order.


BTW...I'm not entirely certain of why this crossed my mind, but...I can't help but wonder if Zejil is something akin to a fictional "self"...Nerys? :)


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