. I appreciate the very thorough commentary! You've touched on a lot that is going to be explored further very soon. Starfleet's reaction to Omega, for one. Lakwa's attempts at diplomacy. And most of all, this idea of the Federation as the biggest bod on the playground.
Fact is, they're pretty much there, aren't they? Gradually, we've watched the Federation grow from the ragtag bunch of explorers we saw in TOS into an entity spanning nearly half the galaxy and possessing incredible, cutting edge technology and posing a real threat to even the Borg Collective. We saw the Borg move from indifference to near-rage in their 'relationship' with the Federation as it became clear that humanity (in particular) was a real threat to them. If the Feds were nobodies, the Borg wouldn't react this way. The fact is, the Federation has come a very long way in a short period of time. I believe this is also why the Q have taken such interest. (Remember Book One? Their little visit wasn't just for fun.
) We'll see what happens with all that.
As for the poker game ... feel free to compare and contrast Maren and Adele, but that's not what I intended when writing this chapter. The two of them do have some interesting almost-parallels, though. That's part of what makes Adele's reactions to Maren so complicated. Their personalities are nearly incompatible, and their experience with and perspectives on the Borg couldn't be more diametrically opposed, yet Maren's current emotional state is familiar to Adele in a way that serves to both link her to the engineer and make her want to recoil from the painful memories she kindles in her. So any time you see these two in the same chapter, there are likely to be some thematic ties, I guess, for lack of a better term, whether intentional or not.
Lastly ... yes, I think it's fair to say that EVERYONE in this poker game wishes they were a telepath right about now.
Thanks again for the great commentary.