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Old May 18 2009, 07:11 AM   #1
Nerys Ghemor
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May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Well...this is experimental in a lot of ways, but I really hope you enjoy it! Be sure to read both versions...


Star Trek:

Sigils and Unions
Point of Divergence


This story takes place on Cardassia Prime five hundred year s before the events depicted in any of my Cardassian tales, during the first few years of the great Cataclysm that devastated the planet’s climate and agriculture. But how shall history tell it? This is your adventure—and your choice will determine what shall be remembered for posterity.


The great red orb of Verkoun hangs low in the sky of Hebitia Prime—Cardassia, you sharply correct yourself, as you stare at the setting sun through haze-filled air for as long as your eyes can bear. This isn’t long, for the same reflective coating of cells at the back of your retinas that enhances your night vision causes extended exposure to more intense light sources to glare painfully in the eyes and blur the details away. You dip your head, and even as hooked ridges shield your eyes once more from the direct gaze of Verkoun, you still see spots for the first few moments.

Still, temporary pain aside, this act gives you comfort: Verkoun wasn’t the traitor…this planet was, this world that in your hard-won defiance you call Cardassia. It was almost three years ago to the day, mere months after you first set foot on the planet, when the first eruptions started—a horrific increase in volcanism never fully anticipated by your people’s best scientists. The refugee crisis on continental Hăzăk and its surrounding islands is horrible enough as eruptions have forced the evacuation of ancient cities built dangerously close to known and new-formed volcanoes…but the blow to crop yields around the world has been severe, between the haze and the acid rain. The famines started in Hăzăk…but are now spreading to the rest of the world.

Now global temperature is on the rise, thanks to increased carbon dioxide and methane hydroxide content in the atmosphere. It doesn’t feel any worse to you—warmth is comfort to your people, whose metabolisms only do so much to maintain temperature, especially when you sleep. But there has been troubling evidence that if this keeps up, the world’s oceanic ecosystems could collapse…and that means a rough future ahead, perhaps even for as long as the Cardassian race lives.

“I am a Cardassian,” you whisper defiantly to yourself as you focus your attention on your weapon—a projectile rifle you bought in the first few months of crisis. For almost as long as your people’s history records, most nations and tribes called your species something meaning the same thing as Hebitda—those with souls. But you are not an Oralian believer…nor a believer in any other faith, and the blatant assumption inherent in the term ‘Hebitian’...it rubs your scales the wrong way. You were never particularly devout—but the conduct of the clerics during the climactic crisis has destroyed whatever belief you might have had until then. So you, like most followers of Kelor Vetar, former advisor to the Castellan, call yourself Cardăsda instead: a term that derives from the same root used for the word ‘person'—cirdas.

Right now, you are busy scoping out your target: a small prehistoric cave-dwelling taken over by squatters in recent months. Ordinarily you would never contemplate such an attack…but these are no ordinary squatters: your reconnaissance suggests the refugees to be led by a Guide and the pack that follows her. And they are unarmed…trusting, no doubt, in the difficulty of raising one’s hand to someone in such a woman’s position to defend them.

“What gives them the right?” you hiss angrily to yourself as you train your binoculars upon them. These, as Vetar has emphasized over and over again, are the very same people who, from the halls of temple and government orchestrated the agonizingly slow, piecemeal response to the crisis now coming to be known as the Cataclysm. And even now, they pontificate at each other in the halls of the legislature on the ethics of compelling the colony worlds to submit to emergency rule—their status as independent states in the Hebitian Legislature revoked, wholly subordinated to the sustenance of the ailing homeworld. And you have every right to say this: you were born on the colony world of Ventani II.

The majority of the Guides and clerics oppose this measure…but this same weakness, this same diffidence is what let the situation deteriorate so badly in the first place, as far as you’re concerned. And too long they’ve used your people’s instincts to stifle objections, to keep those who opposed their policies and theologies from uniting into a force to be reckoned with. Only when Vetar, through a great act of courage, shattered the loyalties imposed on him both by nature and culture and challenged the administration that had appointed him had the disaffected found a leader to transfer their allegiances to.

Your party has tried peaceful dissent: Vetar has led protest after protest, yet the Oralian hierarchy retains its grip over the people of the world they still call Hebitia. But you see what even Vetar cannot bring himself to admit: words will not be enough to shatter the status quo. What Cardassia needs is action, bold and swift. You may lack age—you have only twenty-two years to your name—and you may lack status, but you have the vision: you will be the one to deliver the first blow.

You scramble down from the rocky promontory you’ve used for your reconnaissance. Then you click the safety off of your rifle. The area is isolated enough that you needn’t worry about stealth, but you are cautious nonetheless—disciplined. In this moment, as you stalk closer and closer to the entrance to the rock dwelling that Guide has claimed for herself and her followers, you hear nothing but the pounding of your heart and the burning anger at what the Guides have allowed to happen to Cardassia. Neither animal nor nature, nor even the sound of your footfalls break the silence.

You freeze just around the corner from the threshold. Not a one of them stirs; they have no idea of your presence.

Line up and sit down!” you shout as burst into the ancient rock dwelling. There are ten of them—one of you—but you were right: they’re unarmed. The lavender-robed Guide, still wearing her recitation mask, whirls around suddenly, but complies. “Drop everything—hands up where I can see them!

You have an automatic weapon—more than enough bullets for the entire group.

Your finger tightens on the trigger.


The Guide and her followers are at your mercy. This is your moment of decision. What do you do?

—To shoot her, click the button for Future #1.
—To spare her life, click the button for Future #2.






NB: Please note that the narrator is not an objective historian, but a sharply opinionated individual right in the thick of it. Also, this story predates the Star Trek XI timeline split, and therefore should be assumed true of all Sigils and Unions realities unless stated otherwise.
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Last edited by Nerys Ghemor; May 19 2009 at 02:43 AM. Reason: Minor edit...forgot that "cirdas" means "person." "Courd" means "man." Whoops...
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Old May 18 2009, 08:21 PM   #2
Mistral
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

WOW.
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Old May 18 2009, 08:28 PM   #3
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Mistral wrote: View Post
WOW.
LOL, as long as that's not "Wow, I wanna throw up"--thanks!
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Old May 18 2009, 08:34 PM   #4
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

An interactive story? Haven't had that in some time. Neat-o.

Even better are the two very distintict and different histories you've created and which seem so very plausible for both your alternate universe as well as for the canon Cardassians.

Small actions and single individuals can end up shaping the destiny of an entire race.

Totally fascinating stuff.
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Old May 18 2009, 10:00 PM   #5
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Oh powerful stuff Nerys. very plausible reasons first of, as to how and why Cardassia became the place it did in either universe. I liked how it could hinge on this one moment in history.
Really well done. Tight writing with a simplicity and focus of its message.
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Old May 18 2009, 11:44 PM   #6
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Very well written with wonderful imagery. Thanks for a glimpse into this pivotal moment in Cardassian history. And thanks for answering the "what might have been?" question.
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Old May 19 2009, 02:13 AM   #7
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

CeJay wrote: View Post
An interactive story? Haven't had that in some time. Neat-o.

Even better are the two very distintict and different histories you've created and which seem so very plausible for both your alternate universe as well as for the canon Cardassians.

Small actions and single individuals can end up shaping the destiny of an entire race.

Totally fascinating stuff.

mirandafave wrote: View Post
Oh powerful stuff Nerys. very plausible reasons first of, as to how and why Cardassia became the place it did in either universe. I liked how it could hinge on this one moment in history.
Really well done. Tight writing with a simplicity and focus of its message.
Thanks!

Especially with Hebitians/Cardassians having that instinctive need to form and respect hierarchies, when someone paves the path ahead that's a huge pivotal moment even if the act itself (the death of one Guide out in the wilderness, or one act of collaboration) is small.

I'm glad you liked it--and to know it sounded plausible. That was probably my biggest worry, that people wouldn't believe these two histories proceeding from this incident. So I'm glad it works!

TheLoneRedshirt wrote: View Post
Very well written with wonderful imagery. Thanks for a glimpse into this pivotal moment in Cardassian history. And thanks for answering the "what might have been?" question.
Thanks...very glad you like it!

My other contest entries for other months come from the second universe (Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius). So if you're curious, I can give you the link to the series over at Ad Astra if you'd like to read them all at once.
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Old May 19 2009, 05:15 PM   #8
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Very nice. I see I'm not the only one here who ponders the contingency of history.

I really liked the second-person narration and the interactive format. But am I the only one who read only the future I chose? It felt like cheating to read the other one.
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Old May 19 2009, 05:22 PM   #9
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

I wouldn't consider it cheating. After all, you've actually read stories from 500 years later, in both futures, if you've read both my previous contest entries and my non-contest works...

But I'm glad you liked it!

I just wonder...which future DID you choose? Was it Future #1?
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Old May 19 2009, 07:27 PM   #10
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I just wonder...which future DID you choose? Was it Future #1?
That would be telling.

Just call me Schroedinger's Cat.

Meow.
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Old May 19 2009, 07:36 PM   #11
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence



Schroedinger's Cardassian, more like...!
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Old May 19 2009, 08:56 PM   #12
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Wow. Nerys, I just had to emerge from lurker mode to say that you never cease to amaze me. An utterly fascinating look about how either timeline could have come to pass.
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Old May 19 2009, 09:18 PM   #13
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Thank you...I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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Old May 20 2009, 12:04 AM   #14
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

Indeed, once more you have cemented yourself as THE Cardassian expert. A short but oh so brilliant look at the birth of one of the most important political entities in the star trek universe.

I went with future the first as your description of the time period and the strong feelings of Akleen and his fellow Cardassians towards the Hebitians and their faith make his decision almost understandable. (I'm personally of the theory that Alkeen and the early union where not the same as Dukat's later union. There may even have been a more humane reason for the unions founding)


I do like future 2, it's a shame that the Bajorians had to go and spoil it...
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Old May 20 2009, 02:11 AM   #15
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: May Challenge Entry: Point of Divergence

I would say one thing, though...the Hebitian government pulled a Katrina in how they dealt with the oncoming Cataclysm, and there WERE abuses. But at least personally...I felt like those things could've been fixed WITHOUT destroying the entire way of life that these people had. Future #1, to me, is a tragedy: he killed the exact person who would've listened to him and helped things for everyone.
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