Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius--The Desolate Vigil

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Nerys Ghemor, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    That was a very atmospheric vision- I really felt the aura of lonliness and bitterness around "our universe" Dukat, and the way in which he cannot even find solace or meaning in "himself". He's cut himself off from all his promise, from all that we've seen through this AU that he could have been if he had taken things differently. I also like AU Dukat's preoccupation with his visionary experience and yet distance from it- the whole "was it Macet?" idea, for example, which keeps him grounded in his reality and his circumstances so as not to detract from this Dukat's status as distinct from "our" Dukat. It also underscores nicely how divergent the two are becoming- which is a good development for AU Dukat but is also to us tragic because we can see what this sundering means for "our" Dukat. He is truly becoming lost to us- and to his other self. Very effective.

    I'm really interested in the vision of "our" Dukat- I have no doubt it was "accurate" within context, but I'm wondering: did "our universe's" Dukat also experience something? Was this intended as a one way lesson for AU Dukat or was it a two-way encounter, in a sense? Does Oralius work upon all Dukats, only given the cultural background and different choices of "our" Dukat he cannot hear or understand? As engaging as this AU Dukat always is, you presented "our" Dukat so strikingly I'm wondering what it was like on his end- if there was a "his end" involved. If this came truly from Oralius, I imagine there may be. I doubt there was an actual "presence" for him- I'm guessing it's spiritual and/or psychological so not exactly as it seemed to play out- but was "our" Dukat confronting possibilities in a similiar way- though rejecting the possible lessons rather than learning from them? Was his attack on AU Dukat representative of an actual internal process undertaken by "our" Dukat, an active rejection in that moment of himself and other paths he could take/have taken?

    That said, I think the answer being uncertain helps the overall scene- again, it shows how "our" Dukat is being lost even as AU Dukat is finding himself, so to speak. We can see this Dukat grow into the man we already know from other "Catacombs" stories, but the sacrifice for us as readers is the uncertainty and loss of another Dukat we know who we can't seem to stop from taking himself in a very different direction to this Dukat...
     
  2. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    All of this AU Dukat experienced in a partially symbolic fashion.

    Oralius kept AU Dukat from realizing exactly who he saw, because it would be too painful of a burden for him at this point in his life. (Remember, AU Dukat is only 20 years old...by AU Cardassian legal standards, he does not become a man in the eyes of the law until age 24.)

    AU Dukat was not physically present in "our" universe, nor do I believe the canon Dukat was aware of the crossover in a fully conscious sense. I do think that subconsciously, he definitely experienced the moment. The lashing-out that AU Dukat experienced as an attack on himself, subconsciously that was the canon Dukat attacking and attempting to kill the part of himself that is like this AU version.

    I felt like the canon Dukat came back to the Kornaire incident for a reason, as his mind was breaking down again in "Waltz," that it had to be significant. The way he described it--that it haunted him for days on end--made me think that maybe, just MAYBE it was the very last time in his life when the other part of him might actually have been strong enough to try to break through to the surface. (A little something survives in him, until he takes the Pah-Wraiths into his spirit. But that part of him has been beaten within an inch of its life and can no longer make a meaningful difference.)

    As for Oralius trying to work on all Dukats--yes. However, I carry from my own faith the principle that deity will not work on an unwilling heart. AU Dukat accepted Oralius' influence...the canon version did not. And I DO think there is the possibility of Oralius working on someone's heart even though for whatever reason they cannot acknowledge her by name. Tekeny Ghemor and Tayben Berat are examples of this...they ARE receptive even though their culture has conditioned them against actually recognizing what's going on as spiritual. (CS Lewis does something similar in The Last Battle, with Emeth.)
     
  3. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    THIS IS IT...with Parts VI and VII, "The Desolate Vigil" is finished!

    Part VI
    Trust

    Dukat squinted against the light of Verkoun—head slightly dipped to let his eye ridges do what they could to shade against the sun. Still, the glare from the sand made it almost a futile effort. In the distance, something moved…a hekant—a small beast, but good eating for a family. The tan-scaled creature had little fur…none, in their desert varieties, but in spite of its reptilian physique, was still a therapsid.

    It didn’t matter that in his time with the Kurabda he’d eaten hekant meat several times and liked it…that didn’t help him as he tried to convince his hand to squeeze his crossbow’s trigger.

    No—as he watched this hekant nibbling on the leaves of a pitifully scraggly bush, he just couldn’t stop picturing his old friend Yidal’s pet hekant curled up peacefully on the sofa, and feeling badly for this less fortunate creature.

    True, he wasn’t much of a hekant person; he far preferred a more intelligent sort of pet, like a riding hound or a land gharial, to a small, fearful, herbivorous creature like a vompăt, hekant, or Oralius forbid, a vole. That did absolutely nothing to alleviate the gnawing sense that he shouldn’t be party to putting a creature so easily domesticable onto someone’s dinner plate.

    “Why do you wait?” Gharumef hissed in his ear. “The opportunity is right—shoot!”

    With both hands gripping his crossbow, Dukat had no way to reply. And you’re rather stuck if you can’t make yourself shoot, Skrain! He just barely suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at himself—he at least had to make a decent pretense of trying to shoot the hekant, and that meant keeping a steady gaze on the poor animal. And his hands firmly on his weapon.

    There—the hekant flinched, glanced up. A zerayd drifted into range overhead, lazily riding the desert thermals and casting its shadow below. The hekant assessed this and bolted for cover.

    Dukat gave thanks to Oralius for her timely intervention…but though she might have relieved him from having to shoot the animal, she had not contravened the laws of the universe. And one of those laws, he’d discovered, was the glare of disapproval on the stern warrior’s face. “You are capable of better than that, Dukat!” he admonished. “I have seen you do it!”

    At least he doesn’t think I’m just incompetent, he consoled himself as he unloaded the bolt from his crossbow and shouldered the weapon. Once he had his hands free, he began his explanation…one that came much more easily now that he had almost five months’ experience with the language. At least the signing came more naturally—the problem this time was the content. —I know,— Dukat acknowledged. —I do not mean to upset you…but the hekant is not food where I come from. It is like a riding hound…—

    “A pet,” Gharumef supplied, simultaneously signing the missing word.

    —Yes…he’ekant are pets for us. That makes it hard for me to look at one and think of doing it harm. I understand it is different for you…—

    Gharumef snorted. “I can hardly imagine keeping such a creature as a pet.”

    —I do not want one myself,— Dukat answered. —But it is hard to not want to protect one when I see it alive.—

    “The hekant is far from worthy of protection…it serves no useful purpose except food or hide.”

    Maybe it’s not like a hound, Dukat thought to himself, but I think Yidal would beg to differ. A few years older than him, Nejran Yidal had entered treatment after having the horrible misfortune of seeing the autopilot of his parents’ shuttle malfunction, killing them in a violent midair collision right outside his school. The terror drove him catatonic and no one—not the medical staff, not the Guides, and not even some of his fellow patients…including Dukat…could get through to him. Only when one of the treatment center’s resident he’ekant found its way into Yidal’s room did the boy actually engage another living creature. It had still taken Yidal—and the hekant—much longer than Dukat to leave the center, but they had kept up with each other and Dukat had even been invited to the Yidal home for Nejran’s homecoming, and every anniversary thereafter.

    Without that hekant…who knew what would have happened to Yidal? Still, Dukat kept his argument to himself; this was a matter of culture and certainly wouldn’t constitute ‘judicious’ use of his gift of sign language.

    Gharumef, too, let the topic drop. “Then let us find other prey. Or Sokol-haaf, if Fate favors that today.”

    Dukat smiled at that thought: it meant there might be news soon.

    Neither Dukat nor the Kekil-haaf had any idea what the Sokol-haaf might know of the invasion, but if they followed their traditional patterns, they were due to join their cousins soon. Unlike the tribe to which Dukat felt these days as though he belonged, the Sokol-haaf had no blood connection to the world of the cities. Few of them spoke common Cardăsda, and no Sokol-haaf would ever be caught dead wielding a crossbow—the ultimate concession to the ah’tekel, as far as they were concerned.

    The crossbow of the Kekil-haaf had been adopted by the first generation of villagers to join the Kurabda tribe. Those who fled into the desert had mostly owned projectile weapons, and few of those had any hunting skill…their ammunition had disappeared quickly. As for those few who possessed laser weapons, their limited power cells had proven even more poorly suited to the desert life than guns. One of the refugees had been something of a survivalist even before joining the Kurabda, though, and had designed this crossbow for his fellow village-dwellers, for such weapons were far simpler for the untrained to master than the longbow, which took years of practice. The crossbow might not be as effective as the longbow in certain respects…but for someone like Dukat, who needed to master the warrior’s arts quickly, it was the superior choice by far.

    Gharumef raised his spyglass, fashioned by the tribe’s metalsmith —a beautifully-crafted, silver-plated device, eyepiece lined with zabou hide to sit comfortably wherever it touched the eye ridge. The precision lenses inside it, however, were one of the few items the Kekil-haaf purchased from the Culatda. The Sokol-haaf would never deign to do such a thing, but as Gharumef had commented with a wry smile, ‘the ah’tekel blood that runs in our tribe’s veins has to go somewhere.’

    Gharumef scanned across the horizon…panning leisurely at first, then he stiffened, glass aimed like a crossbow at some distant target.

    —Sokol-haaf?— Dukat fingerspelled, hopeful.

    Now Gharumef’s eye ridges furrowed—his expression morphed to alarm. “Take a look for yourself,” he said in the common tongue, offering the spyglass to Dukat. “Those are not Sokol-haaf—not traveling that way. It looks like your Bajorans are coming.”

    My Bajorans?— Dukat signed with a sardonic lift of one angular eye ridge. His flash of humor didn’t last long, though. He accepted the spyglass and squinted for a moment as he adjusted the lens. A landskimming troop carrier in that garish combination of burgundy and bronze that the Bajorans adore stirred up a cloud of sand in its wake. Their trajectory carried them unswervingly towards the Kekil-haaf encampment.

    He nodded his concurrence with Gharumef’s estimate. Once he returned the spyglass, he added, —They are coming too fast; I do not believe we have time to move camp.—

    “Go and warn Rulaahan. I’ll keep watch here.”

    Dukat bowed assent and sprinted back towards the collection of tents as fast as his feet could carry him, keeping his eyes fixed upon the gold spire of the chapel tent. The entrance flap was folded open and he caught sight of the Guide in meditation by the fire. He hated to disturb her, but there truly was no other option…so he clapped his hands thrice at the entrance. For a moment, Rulaahan kept her eyes closed, listening for the identification. When none came, she opened her eyes and stood. “Dukat—are you all right? Where is Gharumef?”

    —I am fine, thank Oralius,— he signed rapidly in his concern, —but we have seen the Bajorans, and they seem to be coming our way.— He had slowed down for a moment to fingerspell; Rulaahan, he recalled, had never seen his quicksign for the invaders. —Gharumef sent me to warn you; he is still tracking them.—

    “He is foolhardy to risk himself,” Rulaahan spat. “Such actions border upon boasting.” Dukat lowered his gaze at the rebuke. It may not have been meant for him, but there was something about that sharp tone from an elder that spoke to the deepest Cardassian instincts. Seeing this, Rulaahan’s eyes softened momentarily. “I don’t hold it against you. You were being obedient; you did well to bear the message. And do not ignore the timing of this, Dukat…for this to happen after your mastery of sign is sufficient to serve is a blessing.”

    Dukat dipped his head once more. —What would you have me do?—

    “Leave your weapons,” she ordered. “Not in the sanctuary—leave them in your tent. You are strong, but you are a guest under our care and I would not have you as a target for them.”

    Dukat swallowed hard at this. Will they recognize me as the one who fled them? He dismissed that thought; the odds were vanishingly slim. And aside from the lack of beadwork in his hair, he looked every inch the Kurabda. What could aliens truly know of one of Cardassia Prime’s traditionalist minorities?

    —I obey,— Dukat assented. —I would ask to join the other men, though.—

    “Very well,” Rulaahan conceded. “But not until you are rid of your weapons.”

    Dukat nodded. Once the Guide reciprocated, he took his leave. She followed right behind him to sound the warning. It wasn’t far to his tent; remaining an official guest of Oralius in this camp, he lived near the center of camp next to the chapel tent—the place that in pre-Oralian days had been the due of the tribe’s most powerful. All of that had changed nearly two thousand years ago when the Kurabda adopted the Oralian Way.

    The pilgrim slipped into his tent and slid his crossbow off of his shoulder and under the pillows that lay on his sleeping mat. All the while, his heart beat on his ribs like a caged animal just as it had the day the Bajorans. He couldn’t stop seeing the warship falling from the clear blue sky. He couldn’t stop seeing the dying soldier, offering his weapon to Dukat even with that gaping hole in his throat. He couldn’t stop seeing the faces of those classmates he hardly new, cut down behind him as he ran, ran for the desert. And he couldn’t stop seeing the tormented physique of the glinn—Akellen?—from his vision. And the Bajorans, and their strange, featureless faces with burning eyes…

    It was time to go face-to-face. Even without a weapon, if he was to stand and fight this enemy someday, he had to begin by at least…standing.

    Dukat exited the tent and headed back towards the western edge of the camp. Rulaahan had done a good job already of mustering the warriors of the camp, many with longbows and quivers slung on their backs—their hands weren’t on their arrows yet…but the message was clear enough.

    Something brushed past his legs heading back towards the center of the camp. It wasn’t a tactile sensation—it wasn’t close enough for that. No…this was the sensation of a bioelectric field, and a small one at that.

    He spun around. A little girl, maybe three years old, carried a small cloth ball…she would have been kicking it from foot to elbow to foot a few minutes ago, he imagined. But now she stood transfixed, the sand-filled ball bulging out of her fist as she gripped it wide-eyed.

    Oh, Oralius! She has no idea what’s happening!

    It wasn’t uncommon for children to play out of their parents’ sight within the camp; watching out for the children was something of a communal responsibility. But now…the others held weapons. They were needed for the defense. He was unarmed…and he had long since been accepted into the community. He thought he recognized her…he knew her mother. He could take her home.

    This is my responsibility.

    The girl’s eyes filled with uncertainty at his decisive approach. He could not let any of his own uncertainty or trepidation show—he knew from experience with his younger siblings that small children picked up on that instantly. Their elders…even those like Dukat who still felt like mere youths, were the anchoring points in their young lives, and they had to be strong. He had to appear completely cool and in command. Once he saw he had her attention, he signed, —Your mother needs you at home right away…I will take you.—

    It had been a long shot…most children that young knew very little sign language. Still, he had to try; the better the explanation he could offer, the more likely he was to gain her compliance. Unfortunately it was not to be. Befuddlement played across her features. Of course, if I could speak, this would be a lot easier, he thought to himself, although he was well accustomed to it by now and his mind only dwelled upon the thought briefly.

    He tried again, this time choosing only a few signs and hoping she would make a coherent thought of it. —You, I take home,— he tried, substituting a pointed finger in the direction of her mother’s tent for the word ‘home.’

    She looked at him with round eyes, her young mind clearly working to make sense of this. Now, with her focus utterly rapt upon him, he signed again, even more simply this time, though with a bit more insistence: he pointed to her, drew his hand back towards his own chest and pointed to himself, then towards her family’s tent. The last sign was a crook of the fingers, his eye ridges lifted in earnest entreaty as if to say please: —Come!—

    It was a strange moment when she acquiesced and allowed him to pick her up. While such crimes were uncommon in Cardassian territories, there had still been instances of kidnappings, and like any other child raised in the city, the young Skrain Dukat had always been warned never to come within easy reach of adults his parents did not name as friends and even then not to grant them the same favor as his own family. Her hesitation was far less…and this was quite rewarding, humbling, and sobering all at once. How long could such a thing last in the face of the invasion?

    Once he had her in his arms, she asked him point-blank in a tiny, almost sorrowful voice, her succinct words meant only to divine the truth: “You can’t talk, can you?” At least, that was what Dukat thought her Kurabda words meant…he recognized enough now that this was the only possibility that made sense.

    He shook his head in a quick, matter-of-fact manner, and disappointment flashed across her face. Perhaps her mother would share the reason soon…and he hoped she would explain as best as she could understand that the voluntary nature of his sacrifice meant he had little to mourn.

    Steady breathing and steady walking, Dukat reminded himself as if the tribe were moving to new grounds, praying for tight control over his body to keep anything in his bioelectrics from alarming the already anxious child. He saw her searching his face as if hoping to find some sort of connection through his eyes down to his unvoiced thoughts. Finding nothing other than what he hoped she would see kindness, she turned away, fixing her eyes so intently upon her family’s tent that even if Dukat hadn’t already known where to go, he could have used her gaze as a compass.

    When he drew near the tent, he set the child down. He’d barely lifted his hands to clap when she darted inside with a warbling, “Maayiy!Mommy!

    “Saa’ih!” she called. He wasn’t quite sure what she asked next, but he had a feeling she was asking her daughter if she was all right. Then the woman’s mother caught sight of Dukat, stiffening as she rose from where she knelt and switching to the common tongue. “What is it you—”

    Dukat had already launched into his reply. —The Bajorans…the invaders…are coming. I do not know what they want here…but they have taken children in other places. It is not safe now for her to be seen. Please, tell her for me why I did this.— Dukat glanced back at the entrance to the tent. —I must go now, to be with the warriors.—

    Saa’ih’s mother’s eyes darted over to her daughter. “I will tell her. I thank Oralius for this, Dukat. Go, and may she watch over you now.”

    The pilgrim bowed, praying that it would be so.
     
  4. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    He did not hear it right away, as he reached the western edge of the camp—one of the last to do so; he felt it through his feet first. Only when he got closer did his ears detect the low hum of a landskimmer. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something sounded wrong about the engine. And he knew. He knew even before he caught a glimpse of the bronze-clad Bajoran soldiers…there was something wrong about their voices, too, as they carried towards the camp. He couldn’t make out their words yet, but there was a faint hint of something almost mechanical about their speech. They must be using a universal translator, he supposed.

    The Bajorans carried phaser rifles—not aimed at the Cardassians yet, but brandished in a clear attempt to claim dominance. The Kurabda vastly outnumbered them, yet the outworlders regarded the tribesmen with the same expression one might aim at a pack of vo’ompat. Their eyes were focused, intelligent—fanatics, perhaps, but clearly possessed of their faculties. Dukat had heard enough on the news of the sort of calculated horror these men could carry out…and he’d seen it for himself, back in Culat. And that was the most terrifying part—the awful lucidity to their delusions.

    The men of the Kekil-haaf tribe had formed a defensive line of sorts, two men thick. The formation lacked military precision and no weapons were drawn—yet—but the Kurabda men who had weapons made very sure their longbows and the sheaths of their knives were readily visible.

    Gharumef’s brother, Arokef, led the Kurabda warriors. He met the eyes of his people, first to the left, then to the right, with chin held level, gaze strong and straight. The message was clear: Stand with me and we will not back down.

    Most of the Bajorans had that disturbing, pale blood-hued complexion, flushed a much brighter red now in the heat of the Cardassian desert. Though it evaporated quickly in the dry air, Dukat could see they were sweating—a thing Cardassians only did in cases of severe overheating or illness…but these men were mammalian, he remembered, and he schooled himself not to overestimate the severity of their symptoms even if the heat of the desert clearly affected them. Dukat couldn’t read their rank insignia, but he read the mannerisms of the group and zeroed in very quickly on the man he suspected of being their leader.

    This one was of a darker complexion—more natural looking to Dukat, for even though no Cardassian had such a hue, at least the relative opacity seemed more fitting. The surprise came as he scrutinized the leader’s facial features more closely, searching for some other clue he might use, besides eye, skin, and hair tone to tell them apart. Had this encounter occurred under peaceful circumstances, he thought, he likely would have celebrated it: as dissimilar as this man was to a Cardassian, something in the bone structure of his face almost evoked that of a Cardassian man of Nevot. Given proper facial and neck ridges, and a warm grey complexion with the shale-like shades that sometimes showed up on the jaw ridges of the Nevotda, he could actually pass for Inquisitor Osenal’s nephew.

    A very arrogant nephew, Dukat thought to himself as the Bajoran opened his mouth. Probably one Osenal would disown. “I am—” The translator sputtered for a moment. “Tev Rahura.” Maybe that static burst had been a rank. Whatever these aliens’ notions of hierarchy were, they didn’t translate into the common tongue. “Your world is now the official subject of the True Prophets’ Empire of Bajor. As such, all attempts at insurgency are expressly forbidden, and will be met by your rulers with the strongest of measures.”

    “We have done no such thing,” Arokef rebutted with equal firmness. It was only after the first few words were out that Dukat realized Arokef had spoken those words in Kurabda, yet he had understood as though he spoke the common tongue: obviously the Bajorans’ translator had a greater reach than he thought.

    Tev snorted. “So quick to answer to an accusation that hasn’t even been levied against you yet!”

    There’s a resistance! Thank Oralius—someone’s fighting! Dukat’s soul soared. Why else would the Bajorans take an excursion into the desert and accuse the Kurabda of rebellion…however they might try to twist their accusation back on the tribesmen…except that there had been an attack on Bajoran interests, and that attack had done damage?

    “I am quick to defend against lies. Truth needs no time to think,” Arokef retorted. “Do you see a single energy weapon among us? What do you think we could do to your bases or ships?”

    Dukat forgot to breathe. Fear stabbed through his chest like a knife to the heart.

    There was one energy weapon among the Kekil-haaf. And it belonged to him.

    The disruptor lay in a Kurabda storage box in his tent, just barely buried in the sand, with the rug covering it. He prayed that powered down, they wouldn’t be able to detect it. He prayed that unarmed as he was, and ancient as the weapons were that the others carried, they wouldn’t think to look. Because if they look, and they find my disruptor…I will have brought death to everyone! Help us all, Oralius, I beg you!

    Then the Bajoran leader flipped a switch. The translator went off. And he pointed straight at Dukat.


    Lieutenant Hamedra flicked off his translator and turned to Major Tev, who mirrored these motions. He pointed towards the tall one—the Cardassian with the sharp, angular features and the phaser stare. “He looks like the insurgent leader,” he insisted. “Carries himself like one.”

    Tev stared for a moment more…understandable given how hard it was to tell these scalefaced beasts apart. The True Prophets have chosen wisely to make these their thralls, though, Hamedra thought while Tev pondered. Their freakish appearance at least means that if we start bringing them back to Bajoran worlds, they’ll be easy to spot. The Cardassians would have to learn to serve the True Prophets, of course, to truly serve their Bajoran masters, for the True Prophets would tolerate no rival gods in their lands—not even the weak, elusive Oralius these people blindly followed. The work of the troops here was to ensure their compliance.

    “It’s a little hard to tell from the images,” Tev decided, “but I’ll grant you he’s taller than your average spoonhead…well, taller than this primitive bunch, anyway. He looks a bit young, though…and something seemed a little odd about his mannerisms when we first drove up. I’m not sure what. Listen when he talks, though—see if he sounds like the man to you. If he is, or if he seems like he knows where the leader is…he faces the Orb tonight.”

    They switched their translators back on. “You!” Hamedra snapped, gesturing at the tall one. “Identify yourself!”

    The young tribesman made no sound, never even opened his mouth to answer. He seemed defiant, yes—but there hadn’t even looked to be a flicker of a thought to respond. Hamedra lifted his phaser, switching it into a low-intensity mode, ready to fire a shock-bolt into him to get the message across: comply or die. “Leave him—that will do you no good!” snapped the older tribesman next to him. “He does not speak.”

    “Really,” Hamedra deadpanned. “I’d be a little more convinced if he hadn’t turned towards the sound of our skimmers when we got here.”

    “I did not say he does not hear you or that he does not understand you,” the war leader replied with an almost mocking degree of enunciation. “I said that he does not speak.”

    “And why would that be?”

    The female cleric next to the war leader gave something of a shrug as she interjected. “It is as Oralius has willed it; I do not know her reasons.” Then her face and tone hardened. “It does not hinder him among us.”

    If this was true, then there was no way he could have led the attack on the Idrak landing site…that man had clearly been heard shouting commands at his troops. Someone like this could never bring so many men under his sway, especially not under those circumstances. And yet—there was something about this young man’s bearing that reminded him of a napping hara cat…harmless now, perhaps, but ready to leap at the slightest scent of something it did not care for. “Scan him,” he snapped at the medic, Mora. “See if this is true.”

    Mora could barely hide his sneer as he turned to face Hamedra. “No obvious abnormalities—but I’d need a full infirmary setup to be sure. A field tricorder can’t do a full neurological scan…just tell if his language centers are activated or not. And that might not even tell us anything.”

    Then Hamedra caught an unexpected movement out the corner of his eye, where the tribesmen stood. The young man laid the tips of his fingers upon the upper arm of a warrior next to him, then took a step forward. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” the warrior whispered, perhaps thinking, with his inferior Cardassian hearing, that there was no way the Bajorans could catch what he was saying. “You don’t have to—”

    The younger man’s fingers sketched a pattern in the air, and the warrior gave a resigned sigh as he drew meaning from it. “Very well.” Now the warrior watched as the tall Cardassian fixed Hamedra’s eyes and moved his hands again—a short series of precise shapes. “What are your questions?” the warrior asked—but it was clear these were not his own words that he spoke.

    “Your name!” Hamedra growled. “You do have one, don’t you?”

    He got a closemouthed sneer in response, and a raised eye ridge—well, insofar as a Cardassian could do any such thing. Then he followed it up with a series of quick, confined finger movements Hamedra supposed represented the phonemes he lacked the voice for. “Yaaras,” the warrior translated, “of Kekil-haaf.

    “I see—Yaaras. And I will ask you the same question I asked your ‘friend.’ Where is your speech?”

    Yaaras shook his head—a sharp, defiant, almost warning sort of motion. “That is for Oralius to know.” He pressed the point almost literally, his gestures growing larger, sharper. “Why do you ask? Should this disturb me?” The warrior mirrored the tall one’s sarcasm with his voice, and immediately after shot a warning look in his companion’s direction, who registered the expression but seemed not in the slightest bit fazed.

    Such boldness in a man of his sort, Hamedra wondered. In Bajoran society, someone without the power of speech could never gain the apparent standing this man had in his tribe; he wondered if it had something to do with the inferiority of Cardassian hearing, that sign language was so well-known among these people that they regarded it as little different than speech. Perhaps Cardassians didn’t even bother trying to fix simple defects where they felt sign would suffice. Of course, for Bajorans, if the problem wasn’t simple, the True Prophets dictated that resources not be expended upon the defective—maybe someone of Yaaras’ mind could be a domestic servant, but little else.

    And for that reason, Yaaras’ incredible poise put a chill down Hamedra’s spine, even in the withering heat of the Cardassian desert. Even if this Yaaras was not the man responsible for the attack on the Idrak landing site…Hamedra began to wonder if someday, Yaaras might lead his tribe. And what kind of force might they be under his direction?

    “So.” Hamedra let out an exasperated sigh, determined not to let Yaaras or his fellow tribesmen see how unnerving he found the entire situation. “What have been your whereabouts for the past week?”

    It took a few of those rapid, exacting gestures before the warrior could begin voicing Yaaras’ words. “I have not left my tribe,” he replied. “None of us have. Are you unable to tell this with your equipment?

    “You are a deceptive people,” Hamedra rebutted, daring not allow the Cardassians—even primitive ones such as these—to realize that indeed, Cardassians could be difficult to detect at night to traditional biosensors. And yet…I wonder if I have told Yaaras too much. The precipitous drop in their body temperatures at night compared to true mammalians meant that until their sensors were fully calibrated to deal with these therapsid beings, there were some rather disturbing possibilities. A Cardassian could be transported on the sly in a deep meditative state, his core temperature low enough to seem like a freshly-killed corpse…

    What do you say I have lied about?” Yaaras probed before Hamedra could find a satisfactory completion to his statement. The warrior seemed rather uncomfortable with the younger man’s insistence, but relayed the words anyway. But the reticence in the interpreter’s voice could not diminish the steel in Yaaras’ eyes.

    Hamedra turned away from Yaaras: he was getting an intensely disturbing sensation of losing control…that he was the one facing a strange, voiceless interrogation. That would not stand. But the damned thing of it was, he couldn’t think of an alternative to divulging information to these tribesmen that might allow them to anticipate his line of questioning and tailor their answers to generate alibis.

    That left Hamedra with only one other option—disengage, and quickly, before he further undermined himself before these primitives. And before his own men.
     
  5. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    The Bajorans hadn’t lasted long after their encounter with ‘Yaaras’—whatever answers they had come looking for, it seemed they found themselves thwarted. Nor could anyone offer any explanation as to why they had locked in on Dukat. True, they had made a few more desultory interrogations after questioning ‘Yaaras,’ but gave up after that—convinced, Dukat hoped, that he and the Kurabda were not their answer. The Kekil-haaf considered relocating again, but this time the elders ruled against it: they dared not risk two off-season migrations in a row.

    Dukat knelt alone on a rock ledge away from the main camp, where he could pray masked. He needed it—for his subdermal implant had run out three weeks ago. He’d been injecting his emergency medication since then, but it wasn’t as precise as the implant, which gauged the reactions of his body in real time and matched its output accordingly. Was he imagining it? Had that been a touch of the unholy fire the day he borrowed the name of Yaaras—one of the tribe’s other riding hounds—and confronted the Bajoran interrogator? Or was he just unaccustomed now to his old prosecuting nestor’s rhetoric? He wasn’t sure he liked the person he’d been in that moment, even in such a dire situation.

    Out here in the Kurabda desert, there was little he could do. He could try to stretch what should have been two weeks’ remaining supplies into three, but there was no telling if the reduced dosage would be therapeutic. If a cartridge were found for the implant, the device would have to be recalibrated after this length of time—he could probably manage the process thanks to the eidetic Cardassian memory, but the odds of finding his prescription for the correct model of implant were…he didn’t care to think of it. Injectable medication might be easier to come by, but without being able to see a doctor, dosing adjustments would be risky.

    —You are all I have now,— Dukat signed, tracing his words like a sculpture in the air. There was no one out here to see him as he prayed…only Oralius, and surely she understood. Furthermore, he had long since faced the possibility that he was one of those called to discipline for life. He might never speak again…and he could live with that.

    His voice no longer concerned him. His mind…that was a different matter. —You are all that stands between me and madness. Your Guides taught me when I was ill and I have tried to be their student as best as I can, but I have not gone without for seven years. Please…don’t let me lose my mind out here alone; I have no other help.—

    He felt a brief twinge at that…Rulaahan and Gharumef were good people, yes, and he didn’t doubt they would try…but they were not doctors. They were not family.

    —Breath of life…sustaining fire…Spirit above Fate…Spirit commanding body…I plead with you, give me your strength when mine fails! Take me in your arms if I fall…let me go only in my time, and help me never to forget, whether the sun burns too bright or cannot be seen at all.— His hands fell for a moment. He contemplated the rising orb of Verkoun for a second…then the vast and resplendent expanse of the Desert of Kurab, red of rock redoubled by red of sun like ancient and sacrificial blood.

    —I have no other help but you. And you give me life.—
    Something hummed silently at the center of his forehead; other lesser nerves told him the source was at his back…and had been standing there for quite some time. His hands whipped up to his face, fingers clawlike as he grabbed his mask and boxed it quickly as he could lest whoever it was see what Rulaahan had deemed private…

    “Dukat. You do not have to hide that from me,” someone rumbled. Gharumef. “I have known for months now…what it is you do here.” He shook his head, as if to himself. “And yes…it is strange to see—your mask is like none that our people make.”

    Indeed, Dukat thought—the features of his own recitation mask left a bit more room for interpretation than the soft-featured epitome of the feminine Rulaahan wore. Maybe it seemed…twisted, to Rulaahan and Gharumef. He supposed he could understand where that idea might come from, in a different interpretation than his. But the sons of Oralius express something of what she wanted in this world, too. Our souls reflect the same light. Still, out of respect for the beliefs of the Kurabda, he said nothing. If something changed among them someday, it would not come as the fruit of an outsider’s harsh word or arrogant display: it would come from recognition of the Spirit within.

    Dukat rose to his feet, turning to face the warrior. “Ah’tekel,” Gharumef half-whispered. City-dweller. Foreigner. But there was something almost affectionate in it, something that hadn’t been there the day they met.

    “The Sokol-haaf have arrived,” Gharumef stated, the previous topic dissipating like sand on the wind. “They bring word of fighting between Hebitians and Bajorans.” By now, Dukat had grown so used to hearing the Kurabda refer to their species by the ancient name, that he didn’t even blink at the term. Dukat himself would never return to that practice, for the word’s meaning made it sound as though those who disbelieved weren’t exactly people—though he understood much better than he used to why those like the Kurabda might feel the change of terminology threatened to strip away something sacred.

    —I would like to hear what they have to say,— Dukat said.
    “I imagined you would,” Gharumef replied, a hint of a smile pulling at his lips. “Their messenger is named Lihavre’el…I will introduce you. Come, and I will translate for you. They do not speak the common tongue—but they should understand your sign.”

    Dukat fingerspelled the name back lest he stumble over the sequence in front of the Sokol-haaf envoy, for where the Kekil-haaf might poke fun of outsiders at times, the Sokol-haaf held them in decidedly less regard.

    Gharumef nodded. “Yes…that is right.”

    Dukat favored Gharumef with a smile and a nod of his own.
    The envoys of the Sokol-haaf stood in the center of camp by the chapel tent, in the place given to guests. One leaned over to his companion and whispered something, hand held up to hide his lips. The other nodded in reply, then brusquely addressed Dukat. Gharumef translated: “Who are you?

    —I am Skrain Dukat, guest among the Kekil-haaf. I am honored to meet you, Lihavre’el of Sokol-haaf.—

    Lihavre’el inclined his head, understanding clear in his eyes. “You are the silent pilgrim Rulaahan spoke of.

    Dukat matched Lihavre’el’s gesture, though he dipped his head further and held his position for a breath longer, as befit a young man addressing his elder.

    Lihavre’el scrutinized Dukat’s features—an expression that bore a disturbing resemblance to the appraisal of the Bajoran interrogator. “A ship went down in our lands,” Gharumef relayed. “Several men survived—soldiers.” The Sokol-haaf messenger focused on Dukat’s face for a moment longer, weighing what he wished to say. “There was a man with skin like sand, and hair on his face.” Dukat fought to restrain a laugh—there was a word in the common tongue, for the Hăzăkda spoke the language as well, but in the most ancient tribal languages in every other region of the world, no native word existed for ‘beard,’ for they rarely dealt with men capable of growing one.

    And he looked almost exactly like you.”

    A soldier—a man of Hăzăk—dear Oralius, the Bajorans must have sought a rebel in the desert! And many had said of Skrain Dukat and Akellen Macet that aside from the hue of their skin, the pattern of their ridges, and the brown of Akellen’s eyes, that they looked almost like twins.

    —He is kin!— Dukat burst out, movements rapid and wide. He did not know the sign for ‘cousin,’ but this would do. —I believed he was dead, and now…I believe you saw my kinsman!— He paused. Lihavre’el could be wrong. Maybe it meant nothing…but the Bajoran, and now the Sokol-haaf…

    —Gharumef…—

    “I understand,” the warrior replied.

    No other words were needed: the tear gathering at the corner of Skrain Dukat’s eye said it all.
     
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Part VII
    Serenity

    With directions from the Sokol-haaf, Dukat and Gharumef had saddled a riding hound the next day—Yaaras, this time—and left camp the very next morning. Taking leave of the people who had taken him in for the past six months proved more difficult than Dukat would ever have anticipated…though the words of Rulaahan provided him at least some consolation. This would not be their final parting.

    You are a son to us now, Skrain—free to use anything we have taught you or given you, to dress as one of us if you wish. You will never be a stranger to the people of Kekil-haaf. You know our ways…you know how to find us. If we can help you to free our world…simply ask.

    Their journey had lasted the better part of a week; without the encumbrances of the entire tribe, they covered the wilderness territory much faster than they had on the migration. The lights of the city still weren’t visible from here—but Dukat had sensed it nonetheless…Culat, albeit the south side now, was near.

    On the final morning, Gharumef had turned back. If there were soldiers, rebels in this area, best not to alarm them…if not, then Dukat had enough supplies to last him until he reached the edges of the city. Or, if he wished, to turn back and find the Kurabda warrior, who insisted upon waiting in solitude for three days until Dukat’s decision was made.

    And if Dukat encountered the rebellion…that would release him from his vow.

    Now Dukat froze at the mouth of a cave—if that was truly what it was. The lightless entrance barely reached cardasdanoid height, though wide enough for a person to slip inside. Is this it? he wondered. Is this all there is? Or have I strayed off course? He contemplated entering…but if this was nothing more than some hole in the rock, he had no wish to get trapped inside. And if they were in there, and he wandered in uninvited…

    A pinprick of light blinked out from the abyss, and then another: wristlights, he figured, from the way they bobbed up and down. The approaching beings fell into single file as they neared the mouth of the cave, and cast the lead figure into silhouette: a tall figure with a runner’s physique and a precise step, ridges that held closer to his long neck than Dukat’s did, only flaring out as they drew almost all the way down to his shoulder.

    Dukat’s heart sang out as sunlight painted the man’s features into reality. He wore a neatly-trimmed beard, as only a man of Hăzăk could. His brown hair was slicked back and trimmed severely in the military fashion even though he no longer wore his armor. His skin seemed to blend with the stone around him—Hăzăkda beige, almost , yet a slight hint of grey revealed his connection to Rivçal. The rough ridging of the Hăzăkda continent merged with a set of features Dukat had watched develop in centuries of family photographs and videos…

    Oh, Oralius! Dukat rejoiced, grinning wildly. Truly you are sovereign over all possibilities, that I came out of Culat and Akellen from the other side of the world, for us to meet here, in the Desert of Kurab!

    Akellen’s eyes narrowed, scrutinizing this strange tribesman with a crossbow slung over one shoulder and a rucksack over the other. Then those brown eyes widened in the shock of recognition. “Skrain! Dear Oralius, Skrain—what are you doing here?” For those first few seconds, Dukat simply beheld the face of his cousin. His lips parted, but no words, no sound came forth.

    Then he reminded himself: the vow held no more force now. He could speak again—but he never expected that it would be so difficult. His voice was weak and sounded rough, dry to his own ears as though he’d been wandering the sands for days with nothing to drink. His lips, tongue, and throat felt…sluggish—not numb, exactly, but a bit unresponsive. “Akellen,” he managed, tasting each syllable carefully, tentatively as though it were new to him.

    And even then, it still didn’t sound quite right. Akellen put his beige hands on his younger cousin’s shoulders, eyes boring into him with deep concern. “What happened to you? Are you all right?”

    Dukat smiled warmly and nodded, trying to convey his emotion with every inch of his demeanor. This time he spoke and signed simultaneously, hoping that if anything he said aloud got mangled, his gestures might clarify things a bit even though Akellen wouldn’t know the Kurabda sign language. “Don’t worry for me. I’ve been with the Kurabda—a pilgrim.”

    Now Macet relaxed slightly. He turned first to the man and woman who had accompanied him and announced, “It’s all right…this is one of my cousins on my mother’s side. Follow me,” he instructed Dukat. “I’ll go ahead of you—just follow my bioelectric field until we get to the inner sanctuary.”

    Dukat responded by a wordless nod as he fell into step behind his cousin. After a minute, the corridor widened out into a great chamber worthy to be called a sanctuary of Oralius. Flame and shadow danced upon the walls—though a string of electric lights ran along the ceiling, they were switched off to preserve power. Faintly something bubbled…an underground stream, Dukat understood, the water source for the rebels.

    Now Macet turned to regard his cousin once more. “You took the discipline of silence, didn’t you?”

    Dukat nodded.

    “All the way from the invasion to now?”

    He nodded once more—but reminded himself this time to speak. “Nearly so.”

    Macet let out a low, soft whistle. “I understand now,” he quietly replied. “Not that I’ve done it myself, but I can see why you’d have some difficulty speaking after that. It’ll get better the more you talk, I think.”

    One of Macet’s comrades interrupted, her eyes narrowed with—well, not suspicion towards Dukat, but uncertainty. “I didn’t realize he was deaf,” she remarked, addressing Macet.

    “I can hear,” Dukat replied before Macet could. “I just…have not spoken for six months,” he said with both voice and hands.

    Macet favored his younger cousin with a warm smile. “You don’t have to sign; we can understand you. Besides—that language isn’t the one I learned.”

    Of course, Dukat thought. You learned the common sign language. That had been part of Akellen’s basic training as a soldier of the Cardassian Guard…any Cardassian with military experience would be fluent. But not everyone will know Kurabda sign! A glimmer lit in his eyes. “I can teach you…I think it might serve us. The Kekil-haaf have also taught me how to live in the desert…and they have given us their blessing. They are trying to avoid the fighting themselves, but if you need something, I can talk to them.” Though I think I will be happier to sign!

    Macet tilted his head slightly, seeming to regard Dukat with new eyes. “I shall be most interested to hear more from you in all of those areas,” he affirmed. “I think those are skills—and connections—we could use…and we need everything we can get. I was in an air shuttle with some other junior officers on the way to the capital when the Bajorans broke through our lines. They scrambled our guidance systems and we were forced to make an emergency landing out here in the desert.”

    Dukat swallowed hard. Months had not dimmed the memory of that vision of a man aboard a starship sealing his soul away—a man who had looked so much like Akellen. But if he understood Akellen right…now he was left with an even greater mystery than before. “You were never deployed into space?”

    Macet gave a somber shake of the head. “I believe I would have been; the capital was one of the largest staging areas. But the last signal we got was one warning us that they and Culat were under attack…to wait for further instructions. None ever came. We found we were completely cut from the rest of the Guard…there are no senior officers among us. We also have some civilians we’ve rescued, and others who have stumbled upon us.”

    There was something reflected in Macet’s eyes and posture—Dukat couldn’t exactly put his finger on it, but it was a sense of a man unmoored. “Who is your leader?” Dukat asked.

    At that, his cousin shifted his weight—and Dukat knew he was right. To be without a stable hierarchy, even in the absence of serious conflict, was taxing upon the Cardassian psyche and it was taking its toll on Akellen. “I am not sure,” he replied at length. “The ‘senior’ officers here are a group of ri’iyak, myself included. The civilians…they are from several walks of life. The oldest here is almost 60…young, but older than any of us. And she has expressed no wish to lead. I pray about this every morning…”

    “As will I,” Dukat offered.

    “I appreciate the offer. But I believe we still have time to resolve that.” Macet gave a wan smile at that—then he reached out then and set a guiding hand upon Dukat’s shoulder, leading him to a more secluded corner of the…cave? Room? Leaning close, he continued with a far more solemn expression. “Right now, I’m more concerned to know, is there anything you will need?”

    Reluctantly, Dukat nodded.

    “How much time do you have?”

    “Days.”

    Now Macet clasped both of Dukat’s shoulders with strong hands. “If you can tell me exactly what it is you require, we will do everything in our power, Skrain…I swear that to you. As for myself—I will stay behind. I don’t want you to have to be alone if it should take longer…”

    He had no need to finish his sentence—Dukat could see it in Macet’s face, feel it in his bioelectric field. Dukat’s heart welled over. His throat already ached from the few words he had spoken today…so instead he pulled his cousin into his embrace. A tear slipped free—for even though there were still so, so terribly many he loved that he still could not be sure actually lived, Oralius had returned someone to him he could truly call kin. And here, in this makeshift base underneath the desert, he prayed that what he was about to do might someday help to set his people free.

    The vigil was over.

    Soon, with strength and temperance from the spirit that moved within them—Cardassia would rise.
     
  7. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    That was a beautiful story, NG. Definitely one of my favourites, and it really captures what you see in the Cardassians (when they're free of the toxic ideals that the canon Cardassian culture has embraced over the centuries). Dukat's journey was very compelling, and convincing too. It was a genuine character piece rather than simply "the hero" going through the motions (it felt genuine, as a hint of how young Dukat became the famed resistance leader of your other AU works but still being a somewhat lost young person searching for a new stability).

    Just as an aside- I can't remember if it was established elsewhere, but does Dukat ever learn the fates of his siblings and parents? The lack of any return to the city is of course essential to the story, and that uncertainty hanging over it really works to convey the mood, but I wonder :).
     
  8. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Thanks so much for reading. :) There was always a sense of potential, of what could have been, in the Cardassians, and it really is fulfilling to me to explore that side. (Just as it is to explore those who HAVE lived with that toxic buildup yet work against it anyway.)

    Thank you. :) That's one thing I really wanted to come across...I didn't want him to be like Trek XI Kirk--suddenly a hero without the experience or credibility. (Mind you, I did like the movie, but that does require some suspension of disbelief.) That's why I didn't want AU Dukat to just magically leap right into the leadership void.

    Besides...I've always had the feeling that his leadership style is not traditional, anyway, and sometimes an outsider might not even recognize it for what it was. His style is more collaborative, a servant leader, and more stereotypically feminine (I emphasize the stereotypical aspect because as we know, men are capable of serving very well in that way--it's more getting society to recognize it, and men themselves to realize they have that capability).

    I'm not 100% sure...to my mind one of two things occurs, but I'm not sure which.

    1) They died when that ship crashed in the Rukreved District or at some point early in the invasion.

    or

    2) Some or all may be alive, and AU Dukat will find this out and perhaps let them know he's alive--but his increasing role with the resistance means he cannot have any contact with them (because by not having any contact with them, he keeps them from having information that could put them in danger).

    So either they are dead, or he must stay away out of love.
     
  9. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I understand what you mean, and I also find it interesting that, implicitly, Cardassians recognise that more "feminine" style of leadership in a way humans traditionally have not. Is that a result of their hightened "pack" instinct, that they "know" their position in relation to others without needing to prove or demonstrate it, and therefore feel comfortable with an "integrated" leadership style rather than the distanced, watch-your-back alpha-leader style human males have typically graviated to?

    Of course, the culture the canon Cardassians have assumed makes them considerably more human-like in that fashion, I imagine (particularly as the military is often described as, essentially, a patriarchy, with elder men climbing to the highest positions and flexing their power?) The greater flexibility in leadership styles is more in evident in the AU?
     
  10. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I'm not sure that type of style would work well in the canon universe, because that is a diseased culture, in many ways. And you can either fight it (whether outwardly or not) and be true to yourself, or you can surrender to it. And the canon Dukat chose surrender and lost himself as a result.

    As for why the AU Cardassians recognize other types of leadership, I think the impact their faith has had on their culture plays into it, too. (Though I should caution that can't be ALL of it, given that our own culture is not always tolerant of what it espouses.)
     
  11. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    The EIB Network
    Excellent. Simply...excellent.

    I wonder, now...will AU Dukat ever learn who it was he saw in his dream?

    Also...I wonder what Kira is in this universe. Would it not be terribly ironic...if she were the "prefect", as it were, of Cardassia....

    Anyhow--wonderful tale, about the formation of a hero, as we see "good" Dukat turn from a boy into a man. My compliments. :)
     
  12. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Thank you so much for reading this. :)

    I'm not sure if AU Dukat will ever figure out who it was he saw in that dream, or at least, if he ever figures anything out, I don't know that he will ever think there was anything more to it than a vision.

    Kira's age wouldn't allow it...and frankly, I'm not sure where she is in this universe.
     
  13. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Nerys, I’ve just recently resurrected my digital reader, and I’ve been reading The Desolate Vigil.

    By happenstance, I’m also presently watching the alien invasion series Falling Skies on TV, and I’ve been struck by the stark differences in the stories. First off, I just have to say that you’ve captured the horror, chaos, and spiritual upheaval of an alien invasion and occupation much more expertly than does the present television series.

    Dukat’s flight from the city, so soon after the discussion in the classroom, and his introduction to the Kurabda all occur in a storm of events that leaves him reeling. This was especially well told. All the fine details, the cultural tidbits, the linguistics... you’ve achieved world-building here on par with Herbert’s Dune, and I say that in all seriousness.

    I’ll post more as I get farther into the story. Thus far I’m up to Dukat’s first ‘ride’ with the herder…

    Simply fantastic writing! :techman:
     
  14. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    Wow!! What a wonderful surprise to see this review today! :)

    I'm so glad you're liking it. Especially since your contest prompt awhile back directly inspired me to write this. :)

    Yeah...one of the things that is really tough to imagine going through is how quickly all of it happened. Literally within a 24-hour span his entire life disintegrated. I think that even though the AU Cardassians on Prime knew there was a war going on, there's a kind of denial people go through--so despite it all, when the war actually hit their world, it was still a horrific psychological shock.

    The fears I had on 9/11 played a big part of writing this...except on AU Cardassia, it wasn't just one series of strikes. It kept coming and kept coming, kept getting worse and worse and worse without end. And it happened so horribly fast. Even a well organized, disciplined world, as I imagine even the AU Cardassians have, would be totally overwhelmed by an onslaught of that magnitude.

    (I don't think organized Cardassian resistance ended overnight. I think that the largest cities, however, were hit swiftly and brutally, to take the "head" off of their ability to coordinate. A strike on command and control structures, in other words. Given the enormity of conquering a planet, that's the only way I can imagine it being done: destroy the fleet and orbital defenses, damage or destroy communications equipment, then hit the cities, consolidate those positions, and only then move out into the country and deal with the resistance there. Unless you're the Borg. But if you're NOT the Borg, you are in for serious business, and a long-haul battle if you try to conquer and hold a planet that does not want you there.)

    I've actually never read Dune (though I kind of know what it's about), and never seen Falling Skies. But those are some very kind words. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2011

Share This Page