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Old January 19 2010, 06:42 PM   #16
Deranged Nasat
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

This was fantastic, NG. It's one of your best yet. You communicate your concept of Cardassian instincts so well, and the balance between living by these instincts and simultaneously not being ruled by them is very well thought out. And, like with my other favourite, "The Image and the Spirit", you handle the moral complexities in a very accessible way without any heavy-handedness. The issue of identity on a racial level was also fascinating; are these people humans, Cardassians, human-Cardassians, something new...? I say this a lot, I know, but I really love your stories.
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Old January 19 2010, 08:06 PM   #17
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
This was fantastic, NG. It's one of your best yet. You communicate your concept of Cardassian instincts so well, and the balance between living by these instincts and simultaneously not being ruled by them is very well thought out.
Thanks.

I've never seen the Cardassians as being like, say, a Vorta, or some of the other Trek species we've seen with instincts that totally override their mental processes. So while the hierarchical instinct is stronger than human social instincts (look at how much of a blank slate we humans are when we're born, compared to a wolf cub), they very much have rational minds, and hearts. (The latter contrary to popular belief and the inexcusable behavior of certain of their number.)

And, like with my other favourite, "The Image and the Spirit", you handle the moral complexities in a very accessible way without any heavy-handedness. The issue of identity on a racial level was also fascinating; are these people humans, Cardassians, human-Cardassians, something new...? I say this a lot, I know, but I really love your stories.
Thanks.

The only option on that list that I am sure they are not is Cardassian. Everything else about their bodies, and even their brains, is what it was before the Graft. Their physical senses, their strength, their lifespans (unfortunately, from the Cardassian point of view), are still what they were.

The question really boils down to whether this is a form of Cardassiohumanity, or whether they they are instead the rightful heirs to the name of humanity, since the Dominion basically destroyed prewar humanity with what they did.

They look like humans and speak human languages--they have the same basic preferences for "creature comforts" that humans do (food, temperature, lighting levels, and so forth), and despite what the Dominion tried to do, I would say they do have a certain awareness of their past. There are some other cultural traits that are VERY much Federation human, even with all that's happened to them--I feel very strongly that of the two groups in this story, it was the humans who first made overtures of friendship towards the Cardassians. The strong cultural disdain for racism was still there...and managed to extend in this case to individuals of a conqueror species who showed themselves to be of better character.

(We know Cardassians can do this, too. But just as Cardassian culture tried to condition its people in one direction, human culture HAD up until the end of the war very much conditioned people to be mindful and sensitive of species differences, and respectful towards others.)

But, the way they relate to each other is very, VERY Cardassian in nature. Unlike prewar humans, there are more gestures and tones that have become hardwired. Like I said, prewar humans are a very "blank-slate" sort of species; we have our basic facial expressions, and while we have certain other gestures or cues, human instincts tend to be so subordinated that we either don't understand what we're seeing, don't trust it if we ARE getting some sort of impression, or read it wrong and get a false impression (which just furthers our distrust).

The people who survived the Graft aren't quite like that anymore. Even if it might not all be systematized in their heads like an academic study, they "speak" nonverbally with greater accuracy, and the meanings of these things are much more significant in their minds, with the brain delivering a more obvious reward/punishment for correct or incorrect behavior. The sense of "place" is more necessary in order for correct transmission and processing of these signals. I would say that if you spoke with one of them, if you paid close attention you'd notice some of the shared, Cardassian-like gestures...but if you were a time traveler from the past and you had no idea what had happened, you might not quite recognize what was going on until you'd had some time to figure it out. I think they would notice your "alienness" more quickly in that you aren't quite processing or responding to the unspoken cues as they are--whereas with a Cardassian there would be a very strong sense of "familiar" and "right" in their signals even though the physical appearances are wildly different.
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Old January 19 2010, 09:15 PM   #18
Deranged Nasat
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Thanks. I appreciate the detail you put into this. It's always interesting to see the thinking behind a story fleshed out.
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Old January 19 2010, 09:28 PM   #19
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

No problem!
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Old January 20 2010, 10:52 PM   #20
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Superb story! A very plausible (if chilling) alternate history of the Dominion War aftermath. I liked the way you slowly brought us into the story - providing just enough ominous detail to hook us, then drawing us deeper into the story. Very well done!
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Old January 21 2010, 01:28 AM   #21
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

TheLoneRedshirt wrote: View Post
Superb story! A very plausible (if chilling) alternate history of the Dominion War aftermath. I liked the way you slowly brought us into the story - providing just enough ominous detail to hook us, then drawing us deeper into the story. Very well done!
Thank you very much for reading! It's good to see you around again, and I am very glad you liked this.

And yeah, "chilling" is definitely the word for how it felt when I came up with this thing. If humanity was going to survive, there was NO way the Dominion would leave them to their own devices. They didn't leave the Teplans, the Jem'Hadar, or the Vorta, that's for sure...
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Old February 1 2010, 04:34 PM   #22
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

I never never never read "stream of consciousness" stuff. It just seems so fragmented and anoying to me. But this was so good I forgot about the perspective.

Well done!
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Old February 1 2010, 05:42 PM   #23
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Wow. That truly is an honor, to know I was able to get someone to step out of their box as a reader. Thank you very much, and I'm glad you liked it.
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Old June 13 2010, 03:03 AM   #24
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Finished this last night, and I really enjoyed it.

It features a very realistic, IMO, scenario of what would have happened if the Dominion had taken over. They're not just overlords, they're insidious. And you look deep into human and Cardassian mentality. As it is, humans are very slow to change, add to that the Graft, and the Dominion would have a very firm hold.

The breaking of the Graft I found fascinating. It's very realistic- and a method many people use to conquer phobias. And you describe it very well! And you gave us an optimistic ending, which is nice! I don't think, with Phase technology, the Borg will stand a chance!

I do doubt that the Jem'hadar will all die- I think that once that aren't addicted to White are far more common than the Vorta believe.
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Old June 13 2010, 03:14 AM   #25
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Marie1 wrote: View Post
Finished this last night, and I really enjoyed it.
Thanks so much for reading!

It features a very realistic, IMO, scenario of what would have happened if the Dominion had taken over. They're not just overlords, they're insidious. And you look deep into human and Cardassian mentality. As it is, humans are very slow to change, add to that the Graft, and the Dominion would have a very firm hold.
Interesting...I actually think of humans as very quick to change, compared to a lot of Trek species. This is what scared the Dominion so badly that they forced the Graft upon them. The idea of a species that could seemingly change on a whim (part of the very same innovative capacity the Dominion wanted to harness) freaked out the control-obsessed Founders, so they wanted to put humanity on what they THOUGHT would be some kind of leash.

The breaking of the Graft I found fascinating. It's very realistic- and a method many people use to conquer phobias. And you describe it very well!
The narrator and other altered humans never actually broke the Graft, only the indoctrination and fear. They learned how to work with it so it wouldn't paralyze them when they needed to take action.

And you gave us an optimistic ending, which is nice! I don't think, with Phase technology, the Borg will stand a chance!
Unless they assimilate it, which would be horrifying.

I do doubt that the Jem'hadar will all die- I think that once that aren't addicted to White are far more common than the Vorta believe.
Perhaps, but I think a LOT of Jem'Hadar would've taken their own lives, too. And I think the Confederation forces would've hunted down any who remained.

BTW, what is your opinion on this--what ARE the inhabitants of Earth, by the end of the story? What would you call them? And what do you think they should do about the choices they face at the end?
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Old June 13 2010, 04:18 PM   #26
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

^ Will reply- I thought of something else I forgot to mention... and then forgot it again... what was it??? grrrrr!!!
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Old June 13 2010, 07:12 PM   #27
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Well, let me know when you find it, or go ahead with the rest!
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Old June 14 2010, 02:41 AM   #28
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

I'll go on, since whatever I wanted to jabber about will probably only occur to me at 3AM or something equally stupid. Note: TBBS quote feature is being dumb...

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
Marie1 wrote: View Post
It features a very realistic, IMO, scenario of what would have happened if the Dominion had taken over. They're not just overlords, they're insidious. And you look deep into human and Cardassian mentality. As it is, humans are very slow to change, add to that the Graft, and the Dominion would have a very firm hold.
Interesting...I actually think of humans as very quick to change, compared to a lot of Trek species. This is what scared the Dominion so badly that they forced the Graft upon them. The idea of a species that could seemingly change on a whim (part of the very same innovative capacity the Dominion wanted to harness) freaked out the control-obsessed Founders, so they wanted to put humanity on what they THOUGHT would be some kind of leash.
I suppose I'm thinking of humans today- which I find painfully inflexible. But you're right that the adaptiveness of humans and the Federation is seen as unique- and the key to their successes, especially when under attack (even if they fly left and right, not up and down enough... )



The narrator and other altered humans never actually broke the Graft, only the indoctrination and fear. They learned how to work with it so it wouldn't paralyze them when they needed to take action.
That's a good point too- but I think that's the point. You may never "get rid" of a phobia, for instance... it's in your head. But you can learn to not be paralyzed with fear over what scares you, function from day to day in spite of it... alone, in the dark, it may come back, but you can still make progress. I know people who kill every spider they see, can't sleep for hours after seeing one, move homes because they've seen one in the yard!! Those are responses that should be fought, at least for the person's well-being, or for the poor spiders! And that is kindof how I see over-coming the graft, looking for other things- the love of family etc. to make you work around it...

And you gave us an optimistic ending, which is nice! I don't think, with Phase technology, the Borg will stand a chance!
Unless they assimilate it, which would be horrifying.
Also true- but a difficult thing to "get their hands on"
I also love how you worked in phase technology to things other than bombs- such as the matter of the Founders that's also out of phase! Good job!

I do doubt that the Jem'hadar will all die- I think that once that aren't addicted to White are far more common than the Vorta believe.
Perhaps, but I think a LOT of Jem'Hadar would've taken their own lives, too. And I think the Confederation forces would've hunted down any who remained.
That's true- they do tend to commit suicide runs when hope is lost, or kill themselves when Founders die especially. I'm not sure how many would be "hunted down" though, at least not in a genocidal function. They probably would be "cleared" as far as the forces could reach, but given what we've seen onscreen, I estimate thousands would use that opportunity to free themselves with a free conscience.

BTW, what is your opinion on this--what ARE the inhabitants of Earth, by the end of the story? What would you call them? And what do you think they should do about the choices they face at the end?
Hmmmm... I think that they'll need to get over their guilt, real or imagined- especially those alive who found out what was going on and didn't kill themselves. People tend to plague themselves, and that can hold them back, even if there's nothing they could've done.

They'll have to be careful, Borg or no, not to allow the graft to exert its power again now that the Dominion has been pushed back, nor must they allow themselves to fracture. They must remain together, find a cure together if possible. I think, since they pulled themselves together, they should fight the urge to consider themselves abominations of any kind, but to realize they're fortunate to be free, and not to have suffered as other AQ species did. And so, moving forward, they must try to help others, better themselves, cultivate friendships, so that they will be stronger.
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Old June 27 2010, 06:42 PM   #29
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Whoops!!! I completely missed your reply, Marie...sorry!

Marie1 wrote: View Post
That's a good point too- but I think that's the point. You may never "get rid" of a phobia, for instance... it's in your head. But you can learn to not be paralyzed with fear over what scares you, function from day to day in spite of it... alone, in the dark, it may come back, but you can still make progress. I know people who kill every spider they see, can't sleep for hours after seeing one, move homes because they've seen one in the yard!! Those are responses that should be fought, at least for the person's well-being, or for the poor spiders! And that is kindof how I see over-coming the graft, looking for other things- the love of family etc. to make you work around it...
The only difference here is that you don't use a phobia to serve you as in the end they learned to do with the Graft. They actually learned how to reorient themselves so that some of these innate responses could actually be called upon for their benefit instead of their detriment.

Also true- but a difficult thing to "get their hands on"
Maybe, but if they found a generator not in use...trouble could ensue.

I also love how you worked in phase technology to things other than bombs- such as the matter of the Founders that's also out of phase! Good job!
I admit I got the idea and altered it a little bit, from the Animorphs series, but it seemed that if there wasn't something going on, then some of the things we saw Odo and other shapeshifters do would be impossible due to all that mass.

That's true- they do tend to commit suicide runs when hope is lost, or kill themselves when Founders die especially. I'm not sure how many would be "hunted down" though, at least not in a genocidal function. They probably would be "cleared" as far as the forces could reach, but given what we've seen onscreen, I estimate thousands would use that opportunity to free themselves with a free conscience.
I don't know that enough of them would be capable of that to survive. But only one generation would live, anyway, given that without cloning facilities, and only one gender, there would be no way to continue the species.

BTW, what is your opinion on this--what ARE the inhabitants of Earth, by the end of the story? What would you call them? And what do you think they should do about the choices they face at the end?
Hmmmm... I think that they'll need to get over their guilt, real or imagined- especially those alive who found out what was going on and didn't kill themselves. People tend to plague themselves, and that can hold them back, even if there's nothing they could've done.
Those are problems that the older generation will definitely have--the narrator himself is about 85 or so at the end.

They'll have to be careful, Borg or no, not to allow the graft to exert its power again now that the Dominion has been pushed back, nor must they allow themselves to fracture. They must remain together, find a cure together if possible. I think, since they pulled themselves together, they should fight the urge to consider themselves abominations of any kind, but to realize they're fortunate to be free, and not to have suffered as other AQ species did. And so, moving forward, they must try to help others, better themselves, cultivate friendships, so that they will be stronger.
I have a feeling, again, that most of the older generation will be pro-cure, though some of them will have reservations about it because of the younger generations. Two generations have been born since the Graft, and how they see themselves will be critical. Will the younger people see themselves as having had their humanity taken from them before they were even born--or will they be comfortable as who and what they were born to be, and see an attempt at a cure as taking their familiar selves away? Remember that even how they have related to their closest family and friends is in part affected by the Graft.

They also have a closeness with the Cardassians, a cultural kinship that definitely didn't exist before. Even the narrator, who is pretty much pro-cure, uses the term "cousin" for them, a usage I suspect started with the younger generations and worked its way up.

But the big question becomes, what if the sons and daughters of humanity are not in agreement on whether or not they want to be cured?
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Old June 27 2010, 11:44 PM   #30
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Re: January Challenge Entry: The Nature of the Beast

Anyone else get a Fatherland vibe?

But really, really enjoyable. The Big Idea is especially cool, and something that never occurred to me--that the Founders could, and would, use their obvious mastery of genetic engineering and biological warfare to create more pliable subject peoples.*

That said, I think I might disagree with the moral-philosophical premise--that humans aren't pack animals and easy to control with a tasty carrot and a suitably large stick. I think that history has shown that, very often, we are.

Anyway, I still liked it a lot, and the divide between young and old lends itself pretty clearly to a sequel too.

*It's especially amazing that it didn't occur to me because I did something pretty similar in something not yet posted; it's surgical instead of genetic, but the basic idea is much the same--the Dominion is a cold conqueror, but one that prefers to preserve its resources by stopping short of nonlethal force when it can. (Indeed, I think this is why the genocidal tantrum of WYLB works so well--it's a little surprising and out of character for the Dominion.)
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