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Old January 12 2009, 09:05 PM   #1
Nerys Ghemor
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Location: Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

The song for this entry is "Between the End and Where We Lie," by Thrice. Lyrics are included with the YouTube video.

This is long, but excluding the Author's Note, it's under 5,000.


Author’s Note: This story is rated PG-13. Though it has been cleared for posting, anyone who may experience difficulty with scenes involving sexual assault—though portrayed in an oblique manner—should reconsider now. This will be your only warning.

“Exits in the Haze” takes place in the Catacombs of Oralius universe seen in my previous challenge stories, “Sacrifice” and “Captives’ Ransom.” This story occurs 18 years prior to “Sacrifice,” almost 19 years before "Captives' Ransom.”

In this universe, the Bajorans, under the influence of the Pah-Wraiths, have violently occupied their neighbors of a rivaling faith…the Cardassians, believers in the Oralian Way. A prominent Cardassian rebel has been imprisoned on Bajor by a vedek of the “True Prophets,” and subjected to an awful degradation. But in the end, it all comes down to the choices you make…



Star Trek: Sigils and Unions
Catacombs of Oralius--"Exits in the Haze"


10 Hedorăk, Twelfth Year of the 371st Ăstraya
[Federation Year: 2361]

The window offered only the faintest light, but he would make do as he had every other night when he snuck in here to hold his infant child. His eyes reflected the stars with the faint silver glow typical of Cardassians if you looked closely enough: unlike Bajorans and humans, his species still had not lost the last vestiges of a tapetum lucidum behind the retina.

What little light there was grew brighter, movement more focused, and basic forms much clearer, but such night vision came with a cost: this process of reflection within the eye blurred the details—an effect overcome by the brain during the day, but not so at night. He could barely make out her features, but every glimpse he got of her still knocked the breath right out of him—and what he couldn’t see, he made up by touch. He’d run a gentle finger along the outside of her eye ridge that first time he held her, just like any other Cardassian parent did when they got done counting their infant’s fingers and toes for the first time.

He felt it in his bones, right down to the depths of his soul: She was his child, from the beginning of time to the end. The wrinkles across the bridge of her nose didn’t matter…in fact, he had to admit they were kind of cute when she screwed up her face into that full-force stretch-and-yawn tiny babies were so good at.

He wasn’t supposed to be in here. She’d made that most clear even before explicitly telling him so. MY child, not yours, had been the message she’d sent from the moment she’d given the newborn that name he couldn’t pronounce: Fithani, which came out with a hiss on those rare occasions when he tried to say it…Vissaniy. She’d done it on purpose, he was sure. The devil-vedek’s eyes gleamed with a laughter far from kind whenever he tried…a disturbing mixture of amusement and contempt: tendrils of that awful memory running from her into him.

Ziyal,” he whispered under his breath as he did every time he held her. “Vešok šadou Ziyal.

Had she smiled that time? Was she learning to recognize those alien syllables as her real name?

“I named you Ziyal Dukat, because you are the light by which Oralius gives me a future.” The name Ziyal came from the same root as the Cardăsda word for ‘future’—zay’oul. And in his soul, she was just that: his reason to keep afloat above the ocean waves of shame and sorrow, the reason he hadn’t tried again to end his life after Vedek Tora had found him a week to the day, standing with arms outspread, back to the street below, ready to hurl himself over the edge to a swift end below.

It had been over half a year since the start of his captivity on this freezing forest world—seven months of her holding him in this palatial prison, trotting him out for various public appearances…the tall Cardassian heathen made tame…and his daughter, too, starting only a week after her birth. And no surprise…there’d been nowhere near enough blankets to shield her from the cold. What if she’d taken ill and died just because Vedek Tora felt like pretending the girl only looked part-Cardassian?

His daughter wriggled in his arms now and voicelessly he shushed her lest she give them both away. The vedek believed the girl had started sleeping through the night early in life the way her people’s children did…she had no idea that the only reason her nights were untroubled was because he made it so. He was the one who cared enough to sneak in here after the one who bore her was asleep and cradle his child in his arms until she was warm enough to be laid in her crib.

He doubted Vedek Tora even knew or cared what a hybrid child like Ziyal might require. It was all about that dark prophecy to her: first tie the ‘savage’ world to that of its ‘saviors,’ then once they’d been made to see the ‘True Prophets’’ light, usher in the Restoration. The consort, the child…these were just the trappings of power she needed to secure her eventual place as the Pah-Wraiths’ Kai.

Others had tried…but no others had succeeded in capturing a leader of the Resistance, the sort of man described by the demons. She still hadn’t broken him completely…praise be to Oralius, he still hadn’t divulged a single source or method, and considering—that was nothing short of a divine miracle.


Your name and occupation, Cardassian!

I told you—I am Tenos An’Shoul! I’m a Culatda farmer. And I don’t know why the hell you’ve dragged me all the way to Bajor…they were hungry and I took pity on them. All I did was feed them…I didn’t know they were rebels!

You’ve done a whole lot more than that, “Mr. An’Shoul”! I saw you in a vision—and do you know what name the True Prophets called you by? They called you Skrain Dukat; they were very adamant on that. They know you quite well.

It’s Tenos An’Shoul! And if your
Pah-Wraiths know me, then they’d know how much I despise them!

Quite the contrary, Dukat.

An’Shoul!

Whatever. They seem to think you have potential.

As do we all. We all have the
potential to cast our souls to the tundra; but just the same, we all have a choice in our actions. I made my choice long ago, and you cannot sway me.

Do we really? Those are bold words for a farmer…you speak like someone who’s much too used to proclaiming his message. Drop the innocent act, Mr. Dukat—we both know who you are. And so do the True Prophets.


And bold words they had been. Before his capture, he’d been filled with fire, fueled by the courage of one successful raid after another. There was nothing he couldn’t do, or so it had felt…Akellen had warned him the night before the raid on Culat University—brainwashing center, more like—that his proposed plan was too bold, that he should at least take the Glinn with him. But no, in his pride he’d insisted on going it alone. And look at where it got me.

Even when they’d first shoved him in the shuttle, blinded by neural blockers, he hadn’t stopped scheming, hadn’t stopped believing he could turn this unfortunate twist of fate upon his captors and come blasting off Bajor in a triumphant blaze—leaving, of course, an awe-inspiring swath of destruction behind him.

No more.

Ah, what did I
do when I challenged her so? part of him still lamented. Such was lunacy, he knew: illogical in the stonehearted words of Vulcan’s Surak. So too in the consoling poetry of his own people’s Guides. He knew that. He’d told the same thing to the wives, mothers, and daughters of the Resistance, time and time again. He’d been so sure.

He’d been so sure.

The base of Dukat’s left ear ridge ached where she’d had it pierced it the day she first dragged him out of his room to present the child to her adoring public. The wound had healed cleanly enough considering the vedek’s ‘doctor’ had stabbed a heated needle straight through the cartilage. Maybe the needle had struck a nerve…there was no telling. All he knew was that despite all lack of outward indications, very frequently—especially when he caught a moment alone at night—it still hurt like the very first day.

He drew in a breath and focused…it wouldn’t do to pull Ziyal too tight to his chest, no matter what the pain.

Defiance flared deep within his breast. The vedek could pierce his ear, pierce his soul, take all she could take, but she could not claim him. No—he had passed that test, and nothing…nothing could steal that away.


She brought out a carved display case, doors hiding the contents from the eyes for the moment—but he could feel it, a brooding malevolence from the thing.


Do you know what this is, Dukat?


A fancy
kănar-cooler, he’d snapped, full of spiteful sarcasm. She drew her arm back to slap him across the face; he barely felt it when she made contact. What, you think I haven’t heard?

This, heretic, is the instrument of your salvation: an Orb of the True Prophets.

Before he could look away, she ripped open the doors. Inside the red crystalline light maliciously welled. A tendril of light curled towards him like a beckoning finger and from somewhere deep in the recesses of his mind, every dark urge he’d ever had resurfaced and cavorted in silent symphony as the unholy thing began pulsing to the rhythm of his heart. It knew him, yes…knew every darkest corner of his soul. And the visions it vomited forth were revolting beyond compare.

Part of him no longer knelt shackled in that Ashalla hallway. He saw a dozen distorted visages, every last one of them his, every last one of them wreathed in flame. Then time cycled back and he saw where they had began. He watched the incantations, the unholy words spilling from his own mouth in echoed images, one after the other. He beheld the fear, the wrath, and above all the consuming pride, and he knew this as the twisted wreckage of his own soul…

Every last one of them danced in flame except for him.

Though red tendrils snaked out from the Ark and around and round his body, though voices called and instincts beckoned, they could not touch him. And he understood why: these shadow-souls, these wretched ice-wraiths, had chosen it.

The devil’s relic seized his heart, seized his lungs—he could not speak the words he needed, but he could will them nonetheless:

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.

Something blazed cerulean like a wind of flame amidst the ruby red. It took the form of a shield and he knew…it was time to defy.

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.

And that way—your way—is the way of annihilation.

I will not follow where you lead!

He would never know just how much of it she saw, just how much she understood. But the evil Orb flared once more and died before him: inert rock cowered before the shackled, kneeling figure.
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Last edited by Nerys Ghemor; January 12 2009 at 09:37 PM.
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Old January 12 2009, 09:06 PM   #2
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

He had won—that time. But every subsequent round, ever since his bitterest defeat…he had failed in one attempt after another. Thrice he tried to escape, and thrice she and her soldiers had caught up with him before he could even make it out of the building. Even his attempt at suicide had failed.

Then something changed in Vedek Tora—subtle, but unmistakable. And he knew. He knew when he saw her press that hypo to her neck every morning and night—medications he knew no pregnant woman would risk taking if there weren’t something very unusual about the child. And the primal impulse to reach out and place his hand on her stomach confirmed it, even though the one carrying the child repulsed—and yes, frightened him more than he cared to admit.

He’d kept the knowledge to himself, never acknowledging a thing until she announced it to him in the tone reserved for animals and simpletons…better that she not realize he felt even the slightest connection to that life growing inside her. To that end, he’d even staged one more escape attempt, a few weeks after the news—a halfhearted one for appearance’s sake…he’d been resigned to recapture even before he left, for had he actually freed himself, that would have greatly complicated freeing the child. And he had vowed he would never leave Bajor without that life formed in part…the dominant part, he hoped…from his own.

Vedek Tora, however, needed never know that. Better to play the role his scaled, therapsid appearance suggested on her world: a primitive creature, ready to let his young fend for themselves against the wild.

As if he would ever be protecting her. No…though he was loathe to admit it, at the very sight of her—even after all this time—there was a part of him that still wanted to dive for cover under the nearest piece of furniture that might shield him, and that struck to his core as a man. Especially when she brought out that hypo. She so enjoyed parading that thing before him, making sure he was watching, wondering, worrying…and remembering, always remembering.

His ear ridge burned. He closed his eyes.


Where there had been contempt in her eyes before, something like pity, now there burned only hatred and disgust—and perhaps a touch of fear. But she would not be dissuaded, not even by this.

I’ve heard things about you, Dukat. They say your mind betrays you from time to time, when you lack the medicine to keep the Dal’Rok at bay. I’d be quite interested to know if that’s true. They say patience is a virtue—but it’s not one of mine.

Her arm whipped forward, hypo in hand; so quickly had she sprung into action that he had no time to duck out of the way. It hissed like a rhirzum and bit into his neck. Even before his heart could beat one more time, it seized in horror. No! something in him screamed. Please…don’t do this to me…! It was one thing to fight the madness as it came. But to feel it heed this witch and emerge as she pleased—even death would be preferable—oh, Oralius, she had the power to rip the rug right out from under his mind…!

How do you feel, Skrain?

Terrified, he thought, but he would never admit it.

Then she unshackled him—just in time for insanity to seize hold. And she grinned.

Like a curtain ripped from a window, every last shred of restraint tore away and he blazed with fury. Everything was too loud, too bright, too strong, and energy ripped through him, too wild and too alluring to resist. He lunged at her, long fingers ready to snap that pole-thin neck—never mind the men outside…her face grew more familiar, more warped: a parody of a Cardassian…she was an ice-born demon of the tundra now.

And from outside him somewhere, or so it seemed, came that voice: Take down the queen and the minions will follow. Men outside? Oh, they wouldn’t be a problem, he thought, even though a small, still part within him still recognized the mania for what it was and tried to resist. What could he have to fear from her? He’d take her down before they even realized.

He hurtled forward and just as he was about to make contact, an electric current ripped through him. For just a moment, something like rational thought returned:
A skinfield! That she-hound was wearing a damned skinfield! He fell back, staring wide-eyed as she touched a finger to his heart and let the power surge into him. His heart skipped, jolted, fluttered—just before he thought he was going to die, she broke contact and switched the device off.

He would have leaped at her again, but he was fast fading. Everything shattered into fragments.


Perhaps his plan for tonight was just as futile…just another failed escape, except this would surely cost his life and possibly Ziyal’s as well.

There was a certain Bajoran servant-woman who had taken pity on the captive Cardassian, reading the silent plea in his eyes when Vedek Tora would turn her back and take the newborn infant away for the night and lay her in that cradle behind that door where he could not follow. The next day, while the vedek attended the Assembly, she had slipped into the ‘consort’s chamber’ where he spent his days and taught him the devil-cleric’s entry and exit codes. The servant-woman had offered to write it down, but he’d declined: there was no sense getting this kind soul in trouble for actions that would be his alone. One repetition was all it took.

For Ziyal’s sake, this was all he had ever done with the codes until tonight: let himself into the nursery until he had lulled Ziyal to sleep, then sneak back into ‘his’ room. Tonight, however…he would walk right out of this place. A few months ago, Vedek Tora had stopped posting a guard outside their adjoining chambers at night, no longer seeing in him an escape risk. As much as this favored him…it stung. Part of her complacency was the result of his own charade, of course. But the other part…he had seen, he had heard—but until now, it had never concerned him, not as one who actually had something to fear.

He had fought—damn it, he had fought, yet none of it made a difference and of everything else to come, that had been the cruelest stroke of all, to find himself so powerless where by strength and skill should have been the one to hold all the power. Even the skinfield he could have defied.

Except for that damned hypo and the onrush of bewilderment and madness.


He flew through the air, until his spine and the back of his head slammed into a wall, stunning him.

That was all the respite the demon needed. She dug her talons into his shoulders and half-dragged, half-threw him onto his back...


Too cold—the enemy wind of Bajor blew in from the vent above, leaving nothing untouched—

There was something wrong with her eyes—those unholy intense eyes, feral and insatiable, determined to sate their hunger whatever the cost. They filled him with terror right down to the core of his soul.

Crimson—everything glowed crimson…


Another blow—this one sharp to the nerves like the sting of the needle the camp medic used when no hypo was available. A pressure point struck? Another injection? A venomous creature’s sting? He couldn’t tell. He lashed out blindly against it, but found no focus in mind or body with which to coordinate his resistance. All sense of equilibrium had fled and civil war broke out in his mind: surrender, accept! No—fight! The demon’s too close, the demon’s everywhere: flee…! No—surrender!

For all that’s holy—
FIGHT...!


Something ripped tracks into the scales of his back. And then everything just—blazed white. She was turning him inside-out. His eyes rolled back; he couldn’t breathe. He was trapped between fire and ice.

The demon’s voice, faint over the pounding of his heart in his ears, powerful and taunting nonetheless…

How do you feel, Skrain?

To answer lay beyond his power. A tiny, weak groan passed between his lips, a faint echo of the shrieking klaxon deep within his mind—a voice howling with the sharp tang of betrayal, loathing, and utter isolation as he lost consciousness one wretched minute too late.


He jolted back to reality with a strangled gasp. His left ear ridge positively blazed with pain. His face contorted with a mute fury. In one sharp motion his hand lashed out, seized the red ceremonial earring, tore it free, and threw it violently to the floor.

The infant cradled in his arms gurgled softly—a curious sound, and just in time, too, for he’d found himself on the edge of tears he could reveal to no one else. He gave thanks for this diversion, for he could grant dominion to neither the rage nor the despair tonight. He needed his edge, or whatever remained of it after the long periods of desolation: the programs he’d written with that carelessly-tossed padd would kick into action in just a few minutes.

He rocked Ziyal a few minutes more and the baby settled into the crook of his arm. It was a powerful and tender feeling all at once, this life that turned to him in such utter, unabashed dependence. She complicated his escape, to be sure—but he owed her no less. If he returned, of course, some would see the half-Bajoran child and pour their contempt like oil over his head—he fervently prayed no such choice would be necessary, but not even the revulsion of his own family would turn him aside. If they haven’t killed them yet, he ruefully thought; they’d taken a DNA sample from him almost immediately upon capture. Perhaps the reprisals had already come.

That gave him all the more reason to dedicate every last shred of will he had left to protecting the girl who might very well be the only one he had left. And she must remember nothing of this place—nothing!

Ziyal lay silent in his arms now, shifting sleepily against his breast on occasion but never peeking out from the knitted blanket he had wrapped her in. He rose in a slow, smooth movement this time, reaching up with one arm to the simple gray cloak he’d brought with him tonight—the same cloak Vedek Tora so loved for those ‘dramatic unveilings’ every time he took her on one of her political junkets. He rested it on his shoulders and fumbled with the clasp for a few seconds before it clicked in place, almost jumping at the sound.

Thus shrouded, Dukat strode towards the exit. The sensor registered his presence and signaled the doors to part for him as if he were something other than a Cardassian interloper. Good, he thought with a nod, though he allowed himself naught more than a brief flicker of pride. He had the layout memorized, and knew there were still too many mazelike corridors left to traverse, too ways in which everything could collapse. If Ziyal cried, if someone caught a glimpse of the grey of his ungloved hands, if a computer self-diagnostic picked up traces of the damage he’d done, if the Vedek’s orbital flier failed to rise as programmed…

Oralius, sustain my spirit and deliver me, the Cardassian father and fighter prayed, for I have strength left only for this. Help me give this over to your wisdom and will—but please…if I should fall, at least take pity on Ziyal; my life is immaterial before hers.

Ever so faintly he tiptoed across ‘his’ room, swift and soft as his boots would allow—silent enough to his own ears, but dreading all the while what the sharp Bajoran ear might detect that he could not. And then…with that unavoidable swoosh…into Vedek Tora’s chambers.

He froze, filled with that piquant blend of hostility, dread, and mortification that assaulted him every time he came within visual range of her. She had yet to wake. That was one of the more unnerving things about her, how calmly and deeply she slept in spite of the filth that spewed forth from her in the day. No Cardassian, no matter how secure in the soul, could afford such sleep…and this, if he succeeded, would serve as a prime illustration of why.

Dukat treaded slowly through the room, eyes fixed to her face for any sign of stirring, his attention so rapt that he never noticed, as he backed through the exit, the figure standing behind him. Even the faint proximity warning of the krilătbre-yezul at the center of his forehead he’d written off as an artifact of fear, nothing more.

Only when the door slid shut did the other lift a hand and place it on his arm. He whirled violently; only the infant in his arms kept the Cardassian defensive instinct from fully asserting itself and earning this foolhardy individual a swift punch in the face. Ziyal hiccupped and whimpered even as the source of the intrusion whispered, “It’s all right—it’s just me, Sulan!”

“Get away! Go!” the Cardassian hissed at the kindly old serving woman, gesturing for them to move away from the vedek’s chambers. “She’ll know you should’ve seen something!” I might even have to hurt you, he thought with far more regret than he ever would have expected at the prospect of taking out a Bajoran, and one of their women at that.

She met his eyes, which shined in a way her species had to find unsettling, without even the slightest trace of fear. “And if that be the Prophets’ will…so be it.”

Dukat gaped as the import of her phrasing dawned on him. The serving woman did not veil her Prophets in unnecessary vanity, any more than he felt the need to proclaim Oralius as the one true spirit of Cardassia…such things needed not be said, for the spirit knew. Hope bloomed within: she was one of the old believers, driven to worship underground just as his people had.

“I heard a voice calling to me—Get up and get dressed, Sulan! But no one was there. I felt compelled to come here, to give you this.” Sulan opened her hand. Upon her palm sat an ovoid bronze-brushed device…a thrill of recognition shot through him: the emblem of the hidden faith! She turned it over and rested her thumb upon a catch on its back. “I’ve used it so many times I don’t need it anymore. You’ll find directions inside to a safe house…maybe someone there will know how to get you back to your world. At the least…you’ll have somewhere to hide.”

The Cardassian clasped the Bajoran sigil, doing the best he could to ignore the too-smooth, too-warm feel of her hand. He bowed as deeply as he could with the child in his arms. “I am in your eternal debt.”

“It’s nothing…I serve the Prophets. Now go!

And so he fled.


The light of an unfamiliar satellite glowed resplendent in a halo of moisture, and the air moved through the streets with a boundlessness he hadn’t felt for so long. He shivered in the haze. Something roared overhead and he gazed up, one hand securing the hood of his cloak; even in shadow the Cardassian facial profile was unmistakable.

He had already made it five blocks from the vedek’s compound by the time the orbital flyer launched on autopilot, on a heading for Cardassia. Such a craft could never have survived the interstellar passage, given the navigational hazards of the Denorios Belt and warp eddies, but that didn’t matter. What did was the appearance of a desperate, foolhardy flight—one last resurgence of the old, hotheaded Dukat. That would hopefully keep the vedek and her minions searching skyward long enough for him to take shelter.

His new refuge, according to Sulan’s directions, lay in an impoverished neighborhood only a few blocks further from the opulence of the vedeks’ compounds. Even fewer Bajorans were about the streets here; he supposed the upper crust might fear such territory, but streets like this reminded him of Cardassia Prime. Here he could move as if he belonged.

Finally he reached the house her note described, and with a shuddering breath, rapped on the door. It cracked open just a bit, and a gasp emerged from within. No Cardassian wandered masterless on the streets of Ashalla at this hour unless something had gone severely awry—he could be a murderer, a terrorist…anything. “What in the name of...you’re Tora’s consort!”

Was Tora’s consort.” He dug into his pocket and pulled out the religious symbol Sulan had given him. “A friend of yours sent us…I mean you no harm—we just want to go home. To Cardassia.”

“Oh, my…” The blond-ponytailed, nightgown-clad Bajoran woman took a step back, hand to her heart. She seemed middle-aged—at least, Dukat assumed so from the slight wrinkles and rounded figure. Her eyebrows arched, blue-grey eyes staring warily back at him, almost coldly at first. Then something drew the Bajoran’s eyes lower; his gaze instinctively followed as Ziyal stretched, fists balled up as she flexed. And the woman’s eyes softened, genuine compassion lighting her features. She had made her choice. “Come in, come in…make haste, child! I’ll do everything I can.”

Just before she shut the door, he turned to look back though he knew the risk of letting his face be shown to any potential passers-by. And with a haunted wisp of a smile, his grey-blue eyes took in one brief glimpse of unfettered daylight.

-----

This story is dedicated all men who suffer the scars of such atrocities. You have my prayers, and my respect.
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Old January 12 2009, 09:38 PM   #3
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Excellent as always. Beautiful wordcraft.
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Old January 12 2009, 09:46 PM   #4
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Top rate work in a compelling alternate universe!
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Old January 13 2009, 03:54 AM   #5
trampledamage
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Wonderful story - I'll have to come back and listen to the song, it's not one I know but I don't like to listen to music I don't know while I'm reading something - I like to concentrate on the music.

I'm a complete sap for any story that involves babies being loved as Dukat loves Ziyal so you had me hooked from the start - but it's also a very well-written story, the intrusion of the madness is very well written and the appearance of the followers of the "wormhole" Prophets was a real surprise to me.

PS Don't forget to add a link to the challenge thread!
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Old January 13 2009, 07:59 AM   #6
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Mistral wrote: View Post
Excellent as always. Beautiful wordcraft.
SLWatson wrote: View Post
Top rate work in a compelling alternate universe!
Thanks for reading, guys!

trampledamage wrote: View Post
Wonderful story - I'll have to come back and listen to the song, it's not one I know but I don't like to listen to music I don't know while I'm reading something - I like to concentrate on the music.
Thank you! And no problem...I do hope you'll like the song, and find it fitting.

I'm a complete sap for any story that involves babies being loved as Dukat loves Ziyal so you had me hooked from the start - but it's also a very well-written story, the intrusion of the madness is very well written and the appearance of the followers of the "wormhole" Prophets was a real surprise to me.
I'm glad you liked it!

Kinda makes you wish the canon-universe Dukat could've been a nobler guy, doesn't it? But that's the tragedy AU Dukat identified during his battle: our Dukat (and presumably a lot of others) chose against the better angels of his nature. He CHOSE. I tried to take the good traits I saw in the canon-universe Dukat and bring them into a truer form in this one. Just the same...this one DOES still have the same bad traits--he just doesn't give them free rein (think of the cockiness he remembers from before his capture, and the way he repeatedly smarts off even in chains...that is, before the torture really starts).

The madness scene and all the horror that takes place in it...I am glad to know you found it well-written. I have never, and I mean NEVER written anything like that ever since I started writing, and it was a huge risk. I am glad to know that worked.

The believers in the canon-universe Prophets...I figured they'd be there somewhere. The name of one of them is a first name given in the DS9 relaunch that I chose to use. The other...well, I'm not sure if anybody's going to figure out what the deal is with her!

PS Don't forget to add a link to the challenge thread!
Wow. My own challenge and I forgot.

Thanks for the reminder!
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Old January 14 2009, 06:34 AM   #7
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Very well written. Although I was admittedly lost since I don't think I've read any of your relaunch stories other then last months challenge.
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Old January 14 2009, 07:33 AM   #8
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Kaziarl wrote: View Post
Very well written. Although I was admittedly lost since I don't think I've read any of your relaunch stories other then last months challenge.
There's really not a whole lot of other background to be picked up, though here's a link to "Sacrifice" from November. That's really the only other material that could potentially help.

I am glad to know you found it well-written, though.
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Old January 14 2009, 08:30 AM   #9
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Ok, I thought you had a couple other stories in this universe. My mistake. In any case I'd love to see more. I had wondered how Bajor might have turned out if the Pah'Wraiths had won, and the Prophets had been forced underground. Would they still guide Sisko's life, would the Wormhole be discovered, things like that.
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Old January 14 2009, 06:18 PM   #10
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

There's a lot of stuff I'm still trying to figure out as well--both of those points you raise are still open questions. The Federation's conduct in this matter, too, is something I'm still trying to work out. So far, all I know is that as they did with the Bajorans in the canon universe, they know what's happening to the Cardassians, but they aren't intervening on a large scale even by 2370.

The role of Cardassia is also something I'm still trying to figure out. Now that I've written the Pah-Wraiths and something in direct opposition with each other at AU Dukat's behest...it may be that in their universe there's a third player involved, separate from the Prophets and Pah-Wraiths (or at least that has a much more active role than in the canon universe). But, I'm still not entirely sure.
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Old January 18 2009, 05:54 PM   #11
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Well, at first I wanted to complain that I thought this was a bit long. But then I realized that I can hardly make such a point as my own entry is going to come in at the same length.

You did after all pack a lot into this story in your continuing effort to upending established Trek lore. As I mentioned once before, your alternate take of what-if it had been the other way around, is quite fascinating.

Even though at times I thought that your Bajorans might make an even more cruel occupier than the Cardassians ever were. I think I'd be safe to say that Tora is a lot more scary than Dukat ever was.

You pile up plenty of sympathy for your Dukat in this story and quite frankly after this I really hope your next story will focus on Dukat kicking some serious Bajoran ass. (Never thought I'd say that)

As for your style, it is long-winded, sure, but it works quite well to get down to the soul of your protagonist.

Well done.
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Old January 19 2009, 12:59 AM   #12
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

CeJay wrote: View Post
Well, at first I wanted to complain that I thought this was a bit long. But then I realized that I can hardly make such a point as my own entry is going to come in at the same length.
I made it with 200 words to spare.

You did after all pack a lot into this story in your continuing effort to upending established Trek lore. As I mentioned once before, your alternate take of what-if it had been the other way around, is quite fascinating.

Even though at times I thought that your Bajorans might make an even more cruel occupier than the Cardassians ever were. I think I'd be safe to say that Tora is a lot more scary than Dukat ever was.
Well...if we take the stuff in Fearful Symmetry to be "accurate" on Dukat, I'd say "our" universe's Dukat is capable of being just as sick as Vedek Tora. But yeah, she is one nasty piece of work and probably the sickest individual I have ever written into one of my stories.

(BTW, just to be sure here...I do want to say I don't imagine "our" universe's Tora Naprem being like that. Dukat's reaction to her death in "Indiscretion" definitely says she wasn't.)

You pile up plenty of sympathy for your Dukat in this story and quite frankly after this I really hope your next story will focus on Dukat kicking some serious Bajoran ass. (Never thought I'd say that)

As for your style, it is long-winded, sure, but it works quite well to get down to the soul of your protagonist.

Well done.
Thanks! The fact that you WOULD say that about anybody with Dukat's name and DNA tells me I did my job.

I felt, as I was writing, that I had a major deficit to make up for, in that just his name alone was going to make me have to work harder to build up any kind of sympathy for him. (And he DOES have some of the typical Dukat personality traits, just expressed differently.) Making the reader see him as a person and really get an idea for what made him tick was very important for me.

I also have to say...I am very glad to see this reaction from a guy. Given some of the screwed-up reactions to what I thought should've been a pretty obvious scenario in my latest Thirteenth Order posting, I had no idea what I was going to be in for on this one: was I going to offend/earn the contempt of every guy here? Were they going to deride this Dukat as pathetic, or see the strength and faith he has to have to get out of his situation? Would they want to even read at all once they saw where it was headed, given the hard questions it might make them ask?

Glad to know at least one guy read it and got something out of it.
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Old January 27 2009, 09:15 PM   #13
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

I would say that this story represents just why Dukat is such a compelling character. He can go from Perfect, Guerrilla, leader of the Union to Madman and still steal the show. AU Dukat is a man with the same pride, Intelligence and sense of duty that we see in all Cardassians(with the obvious exception of the traitor Broca) the difference is that he is now the victim rather than the oppressor which makes for an interesting dynamic.

I still cannot see the Cardassians as the conquered subjects, it seems to go against the existing order somewhat.


(I must admit that i always root for the Cardies,especially after the Klingon's attacked them!)
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Old January 27 2009, 09:24 PM   #14
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post

Glad to know at least one guy read it and got something out of it.
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Old January 27 2009, 09:32 PM   #15
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Jan. Challenge--Exits in the Haze (PG-13)

Thor Damar wrote: View Post
I would say that this story represents just why Dukat is such a compelling character. He can go from Perfect, Guerrilla, leader of the Union to Madman and still steal the show. AU Dukat is a man with the same pride, Intelligence and sense of duty that we see in all Cardassians(with the obvious exception of the traitor Broca) the difference is that he is now the victim rather than the oppressor which makes for an interesting dynamic.

I still cannot see the Cardassians as the conquered subjects, it seems to go against the existing order somewhat.
Thank you very much for reading! It's a very weird and unsettling scenario, I know, but the Cardassians are somewhat different in this universe. They're very religious, by and large, with something of a mystical bent (and I intend to show that side more in another story, where I intend to bring in another character you've seen on the series, but under VERY different circumstances).

The odd thing about AU Dukat is this, when you compare him to CU Dukat--ask yourself the question, what is real, true strength? Could it be that this Dukat, even with the fresh wounds of so much suffering, is stronger now than the CU Dukat ever was?

(I must admit that i always root for the Cardies,especially after the Klingon's attacked them!)
I know the feeling!

Mistral wrote: View Post
Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post

Glad to know at least one guy read it and got something out of it.
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I'm sorry!!

Every time I see your name, it reminds me of the author Gabriela Mistral, so I guess somewhere I got a wire crossed.
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