I have to be honest. I'm not a big fan of stories which depend heavily on prose and put detail over flow and pace. As such I was a bit hesitant to tackle this one.
No regrets though. The universe you have created here is an absolutely fascinating reversal of the 'real' universe and an insightful what-if study. What if the Bajorans had been the aggressors and the Cardassians the victims? The mirror universe didn't quite go that way.
I was also surprised by the revelation at the end. I didn't see that coming.
This is the universe we saw briefly in the TNG episode "Parallels." I've always wondered WHY the Bajorans would've gone on the offensive--so I thought maybe the Pah-Wraiths were somehow dominant in that universe. And Cardassia Prime is very resource-poor, so I was stuck trying to figure out what would anger the Bajorans so much that they'd feel the need to invade and occupy. That's where the holy war idea came from: the Oralian Way angered them so they started a jihad.
And thanks...I'm glad I could get you to step out of your comfort zone!
I enjoy many styles of writing, but one of my greatest favorites is Dostoyevsky--things like Crime and Punishment
and The Brothers Karamazov
, which I know a lot of people can't stand.
In this case...time goes a little funny when you believe you're in your final moments. I think I mentioned in a comment to someone else that I had a very powerful dream where in it, I found myself at the end of my life. It's hard to really describe what happens to one's thought processes, but it's like every strand of your life starts to pull together right in that one moment before you go on into the next world.
As for Dukat...I always had this sense in the way Marc Alaimo acted the character that if not for the choices he made, he could've gone two very different ways, both of them extreme: either great glory or great ignominy. We know which one he chose in canon. I wondered if perhaps in circumstances like that--and with faith to give him some sort of moral compass beyond self-aggrandizement--he might have turned out differently. The bipolar disorder, though, is a feature that in my continuity is going to be across universes: I felt like there had to be some kind of explanation as to how he cracked so quickly in "Sacrifice of Angels" and went so far downhill from there, some sort of way he'd already be predisposed to that sort of thing. Given that he's in power in the canon universe, it would've been a lot more tightly controlled than in the Catacombs of Oralius universe--but I still envision it as waiting in the wings, and perhaps affecting him in subtler ways. (Which does not excuse his actions: as far as I'm concerned he was still clearheaded enough, pre-"Sacrifice of Angels," to make rational decisions yet he failed to do so.) Oddly enough, because THIS Dukat has had to face his madness in a much more direct manner, he seems to be more determined to oppose it outright. Strangely enough...in weakness he becomes strong.