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Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:32 Title: Chapter 10

The horror of the victims - the retching, the eventual tripping of what feels like a trap - all are very convincing and very scary. It's partly like the Borg but it's also like the ENT episode, "Dead Stop", where an automated repair station is using living beings for its computer systems. Various species were there, but no Cardassians. This was 2152 and the NX-01 attempted to destroy the station, but did not succeed. The story, unfortunately, was not revisited later in the series run.

Author's Response:

I remember that episode, although I never thought about similarities before. But you do have a point. The Obsidian Order weren't the first ones who attempted that; someone had done that before.

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:29 Title: Chapter 9

I like Sabal's guilt - very believable here.

I also like the differences of opinion over what Brenok had done - to me, it was barely worthy of mention, and it felt very much like an overreaction. Showing both sides gave some credence to Brenok and Zamarran's behaviors.

Author's Response:

Brenok has a problem with dealing with some things and he feels guilty about how he reacts, but in spite of that doesn't know how to control it.

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:28 Title: Chapter 8

What was odd to me was the incident - it goes by so fast, it's difficult to even spot where there was a problem. There seems to be a lot more activity around this issue versus the dinner. That just struck me strangely.

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:26 Title: Chapter 7

Opening up Sabal's background makes sense here. Giving Ma'Kan a bit of a crush/less than optimal love life is a nice personal touch.

Plus, the mysterious two-word message amps up the mystery.

This was a chapter with a few more nagging technical errors - missed prepositions and the like. Again, these are minor, but they can be a bit distracting. This includes the term "the engineering", which isn't idiomatic in English - it should either just be "engineering" or "the engineering department" or "the engineering section" or the like.

Adding more backstory here is good - now Brenok is worried about what's going on at home!

Author's Response:

Noted about "engineering;" I didn't know about that and will keep that in mind :)

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:24 Title: Chapter 6

I like that th'Arshar is wondering about why Brenok didn't come. In canon, Andorians are supposed to not be known for their sympathy, so it makes sense that he might be seeing an insult where none is intended.

Author's Response:

He assumes a lot and he feels ignored and insulted, that's true. It only adds more salt.

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:23 Title: Chapter 5

I think Zamarran handles the aftermath well - he pushes back on their behaviors, kind of a feeling of - if they can't be civil to us, we'll take the high road and be twice as civil and that'll show them.

Brenok also - wisely - scolds Zamarran for not stepping in sooner. The whole thing was threatening to turn into a barroom brawl, and it makes me wonder how any of them - of any species - have ever been entrusted with more than minimal responsibility.

As for th'Arshar, I think the way he handles things is okay, but you're right - Av'Roo is really the only one who's been at all objective about things. Good decision by th'Arshar to put her in charge of things. But it does bother me that he does not seem to realize that he should have acted a lot more quickly and decisively to defuse things.

Author's Response:

Zamarran understood, unfortunately a bit too late, where he made a mistake and that something should have been done earlier, before the situation escalated. Th'Arshar needs a bit more to realise that his opinion of Cardassians influences his actions and reactions. Av'Roo is least biased, so her behaviour is the most reasonable. She is just curious about everything :)

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:20 Title: Chapter 4

The backstory for Kapoor comes out well. Actually, I'm not sure if you had established Karama as her husband yet. I think husband was established, but not necessarily that it was him. This spells things out well. Exposition does not all have to be done at once.

One thing that surprised me was the use of the name Calcutta versus Kolkata.

Jeto, of course, completely overreacts, but I do wonder why Av'Roo or th'Arshar or anyone else from the Federation ship doesn't intervene, or at least try to. By the time Jeto says, "Don't pretend you never drank it," I would have thought that someone would be trying to get her into a timeout. And, if not, perhaps establishing that the comment could not be overheard by others - I think that would have done it as well.

By the time she starts shouting, someone, anyone, should be trying to take the reins and bring the situation back under control. Even if everyone agrees with her - and they don't, necessarily - I think that something should have been said, or at least an indication of stunned silence. By the time Ronus gets involved, Jeto has ranted for a while. Ronus is completely falling down on the job here. And th'Arshar is practically absent from it all until the line has not only been crossed, it's barely visible in the distance.

To me, while there is an aftermath, it would have made more sense (and I think it would have made Jeto look even worse) if the superior officers would have attempted to reel her in, and then she didn't want to back down.

While I recognize that these are not diplomats, common courtesy should have ruled the day - and not being human was hardly anyone's excuse. Even lower-ranking officers who have some measure of command time would, I would assume, have gone through some sort of managerial and leadership training.

Author's Response:

The situation got out of control and on both sides, there's not doubt about that. I don't have any excuses for any of the commanding officers and why they didn't stop it in time. They all made mistakes.

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:12 Title: Chapter 3

The contact - where Brenok can't figure Av'Roo out - is fantastic! And I imagine such meetings - and any number of first contacts - will go like that. Do you shake hands? Who speaks first? etc. Even here on Earth, gestures are not universal. In space, that will be even more pronounced. A smile could be an insult, a handshake a declaration of war, a nod could be a marriage proposal.

Very well handled.

Author's Response:

Av'Roo is so different that they have to keep guessing. Most of Cardassians probably never heard of her species, or very little.

Thanks :)

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:10 Title: Chapter 2

By the time we get here - and this may be my issue for reading things in spurts - you establish Jeto as a female although I did not recall that. You do put out there that her appearance is somehow jarring, but there's nothing specific about it until later. I'm not sure I would have held back as long. Please don't take this as a criticism - I think that's more of a stylistic difference than anything else.

Once you hit about halfway through this chapter, Jeto's background begins to be revealed obliquely, when she utters but one word, "Prophets". Until then - at least in my head - I had thought that the appearance issue was perhaps a deformity, not unlike Brenok's infirmity, and I was wondering why you were being so coy about it, after having been so open about what had happened to Brenok.

A few little technical issues - missed tenses, that sort of thing, aren't big but they can be a little like gnats (e. g. "I haven't finish this matter yet" should read "I haven't finished this matter yet"). These are easy fixes; I don't mean to be nitpicky.

Author's Response:

Sometimes I tend not to reveal everything a bit too long, but I always want to make it a bit of surprise. Jeto is one of examples.

Tenses (when to use which) are my weak point, but I shouldn't make "technical" mistakes like the one you quoted. I was sloppy and there's no excuse. I guess editing it to death doesn't help much ;)

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:06 Title: Chapter 1

Very good establishing of Brenok as a character and a lot of his backstory. I think a lot of writers struggle with the part I like to call "Our Story So Far", or they just give up and refer people to huge essays or reams of earlier stories. I don't think that the reader should have to work as hard as all that. If I want to (or, more likely, have the time to) pursue older works, I will. But I do not want to be obligated to do so in order to be able to figure out what's going on.

In any event, I am glad that you respect the reader's time and interest level, and do not require a thorough understanding of complicated earlier works. The reader can dive in - and Brenok is well-etched in only four remarkable paragraphs. Take a bow for the first four paragraphs in particular of this chapter.

You also establish an ethically diverse group without bending over backwards or smacking the reader in the face with it. The seemingly impenetrable Polish surname sets things up well.

Author's Response:

I didn't want this story to be a "sequel," but a stand-alone story, so I wanted to make sure that some important facts are explained, so that understanding them doesn't require reading anything else. I'm glad it worked :)

Reviewer: jespah Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 23:01 Title: Prologue

Good hook, way to get things started. The fascinating thing is not just the mystery ship, but also Av'Roo, who is thoroughly unfamiliar in terms of look (I know I watched TAS, but that was when it first came out, and I was a wee jes then anyway). I realize that you establish her species later (and that the species I am thinking of is extinct in canon), but I  immediately thought she was an Avian Xindi.

Author's Response:

There will be more about Av'Roo later. Also about her species and culture. Some of those things will be important for one aspect of the story.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 03:51 Title: Chapter 13

Saratt the painter.

There is nothing the Obsidian Order loved more than snuffing out their world's most creative minds, because anything that could bring real joy to the heart was their enemy.  Wasn't that what Dukat always said?  "Joy is vulnerability"?

The revelation of who he is underneath what the Order did to him is so beautiful but so painful at the same time.  And it raises the stakes so immeasurably high to where it hurts.


As for Brenok's reaction to th'Arshar--nothing sucks like realizing your "enemy" is right.  Th'Arshar picked the wrong time for that, I do agree (it definitely shouldn't have been said in front of Brenok's soldiers because it could be seen as undercutting his authority over them), but th'Arshar was right and no doubt Brenok hated that.

At least Brenok and Av'Roo are getting along well despite the misunderstanding.  He at least seems to understand that she was sincere when she said she had no way to realize she was touching him.


One note, a bit lighter than the rest: the way you're introducing Jeto and Zamarran reminds me of how you might introduce a new cat to a home when you think they're not going to get along!  First let them hear and "sniff" at each other without seeing each other.  Then let them see each other in their cages, and then let them out.

Author's Response:

The Order knew they had a good candidate for their experiment. Someone they could destroy--they had to destroy--and use at the same time. And they didn't have to sacrifice one of their own.

Well, Brenok is the best person to give suggestions how to improve the Cardassian military, so maybe something good could result from this conversation. That said, he would be more susceptible to that kind of conversation in another setting. This was not the time for it.

I didn't think about that comparison with cats ;)

Av'Roo hopes that without seeing a Cardassian face and only hearing a voice that talks reasonably, Jeto would start to notice that Cardassians are not only what she thinks they are. She, Jeto, just needs to start forgetting about her assumptions and not seeing her interlocutor could help her make the first step.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Nov 2011 03:34 Title: Chapter 12

The contrast between the two victims of the experiment is at its clearest here.  On one side you have Saratt, whose compassion is so strong that he could even die because of his unwillingness to subject Sodek to any more pain--even though we know that as a Vulcan, Sodek likely could control it once he knows what to expect--and the other one, who puts destruction over being saved and is so full of hate that he would have no problem killing those who might contribute to his freedom.

Saratt's kindness was clear before, but it's even clearer now.  One is willing to sacrifice himself for the protection of others, even in the most enormous pain any being could ever be in.  The other is willing to sacrifice himself out of spite.  There's actually an American saying that fits very well for the other one: "to cut off your nose to spite your face."

As for Ya'val's explanation of the booby traps...he may believe that because he is better than that as a person and does not want to think ill of anybody, but I am still not sure I believe that.  Maybe for modern Cardassians, but certainly not from the DS9 era.  During that time, I'm sure such booby traps were invented with the purpose of making sure a few more of the enemy died.  What went on in "Civil Defense" and "Empok Nor" made that clear enough, especially when coupled with another Obsidian Order experiment, which was deliberately intended to increase the xenophobia of its soldiers to make them more hateful and more willing to kill.

BTW, on another subject, is the statement that Saratt is "partially paralyzed" an edit in this version, to account for how he has been seen to make some slight movements?

The last person I wanted to comment on was Sodek.  It's not often that we get to see clear evidence of compassion from a Vulcan, and I think that was one of the best things you did as a writer in this chapter.  It's so hard to get Vulcans right--I know because it was hard for me--and you did phenomenally with it.

Author's Response:

The victims are very different. One is still fulfilling his mission, while the other one wants all this to end. We can only imagine what kind of mission it was, looking at the man in the engineering.

Booby traps. My main point of having a "benign" explanation was that there might be one. People usually assume things about their enemies and sometimes things don't really have to be what they seem. I see Empok Nor as an exception, not a rule. They experimented on the station, so the situation was quite different. Garak said it was a standard procedure to booby trap Cardassian facilities, but I don't buy that each and every time it was pure malice "Let's assume our enemy tries to board it and kill a few, yeah!" I wanted something more than "they are all mean, so they always do mean stuff."

I didn't add "partially paralysed" in this edit and I don't remember if I added it in the previous one. But he has some limited movement, so there has to be some space in his condition to allow him that.

Oh, thanks. I don't think Sodek deserves such appreciation, though ;) He was a character written in one sitting and I didn't work that hard on him. It's great he is great, but it's more of luck than planning ;)

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 08 Nov 2011 03:39 Title: Chapter 11

O'Riordan definitely did make some assumptions about Kapoor.  Then again, I think that had I been in her place, I might be suspecting Stockholm Syndrome or a lot worse.  I'm sure if O'Riordan did find out how everything happened, in greater detail, she would probably be calling for Kapoor's immediate arrest.  And while that is not a good trait in a doctor--a doctor should be much more neutral and only focus on her patient's safety--it is a thought process I would understand.

The inability to truly communicate is an additional horror, as well as tying him to a computer and putting him in all of that pain.  With even these few words and gestures you made me felt so drawn to him, so willing to do anything to get to the root of the mystery and end Saratt's silence.  I still feel that reading this again.

And then the trance he went into--we don't know if the computer stole him away or what else happened.  Of course, I have my theory, which can be seen in "Worth Saving" on your archive, but I won't say that here.

On another's good to see th'Arshar find out the truth about Brenok's reason for not coming to the dinner.  I still think Brenok should have said something sooner and is partially to blame (he should have thought about what it would look like if th'Arshar had refused to show up if their situations were reversed).  But it is good to see that maybe now, the two of them will try to deal with each other as equals.

Just one question, though.  Do they still execute for insubordination?

And has Brenok ever done it?

Author's Response:

O'Riordan assumptions are understandable and that's probably why Kapoor wasn't angry. She knew it could look that way to strangers. She might even be prepared for such things and expected them from the Federation crew.

Brenok considered his medical condition not only a private matter and didn't want to share it with the Federation captain, but also a weakness he didn't want to show. He didn't want any special treatment from anyone, because he's got such problems. And his crew can be overprotective, which irritates him a bit, so he didn't want to cause any awkward situations.

But he had to come to a conclusion that this is the least of his problems and there are more important things that th'Arshar knowing about his shoulder.

I think there still is such an option to execute for insubordination, but I think it requires a very serious breach in a very serious situation (like war, or something like that with tragic results, like death of many people in the result of that insubordination). For smaller matter there are smaller punishments. And no, I don't think Brenok ever had to do that. He would try any other option before going to something so extreme and final.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 05 Nov 2011 16:45 Title: Chapter 10

Oh, boy...even knowing what was coming already from having read this chapter last year, and even with everything else that has happened since then, this was still one of the most difficult things to read. :-(

So now I have the answer to the Sabal question--that the crew didn't realize he was a member of the Obsidian Order.

As for breaking his word to the Obsidian Order...I don't think he should give a damn.  Who cares about breaking your word to evil?

It's quite impressive that Ma'Kan accepted Sabal again after finding out something so horrible about him.  As for Karama, it seems like his creeped-out reaction is more what I would have expected.

But anyway...I'd better move on from the small things.  Much worse is on the horizon. :-( heart still breaks for him when I see the terrible condition he's in--all the pain, despair, and helplessness, and when I think about the unbelievable level of cruelty the Order showed here.  You remember very well how deeply this story affected me the first time around.  It's not hard to remember why.

And now we find there is a second victim--and this one potentially not so accepting as Saratt.

And the people in stasis.  I remember when I first read the story, before I ever got to this chapter, I had a really bad feeling because of the way the ports were described, that something like this had happened.  I didn't see how terrible it was going to be, but I knew something was badly wrong.

And now I have a new target for my fury at what happened to Saratt, that I didn't notice before: Jattok.  He KNEW about the experiment.  I hope that now that this will be pinned on him--given that he was in the Orias system--that he will be executed.  Oh, and they can remove the wire from his brain, if they're smart and they get that information from the Federation.

Which reminds me.  In your universe, Garak has a death sentence headed his way.  He was in the Orias system too, which means he is guilty, pure evil, and deserves nothing but death.

Garak and Jattok in your universe make me almost regret that your punishment of shikrat is now against the law.  Given what they have inflicted here, I think the punishment would fit the crime.

Author's Response:

Later in the story it becomes clear why Ma'Kan wasn't that badly shaken by Sabal's past.

It was horrible to re-edit this chapter for me, too. It's just as terrible every next time you read it as the first time :(

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 05 Nov 2011 16:29 Title: Chapter 9

Looks like aside from Av'Roo, most people here are hitting rock bottom after the bad interactions they all had with Brenok.

So when Brenok had his outburst, did everyone else find out the truth about Sabal, too?  Or is this "just" his own guilt he's feeling?

With Brenok...I am glad to see that he was able to take personal responsibility for what he did.  He still has serious problems and I think is harboring a lot of prejudice, but at least he's able to understand that ultimately he is the one who makes his own choices and that he shouldn't let himself off the hook by saying, "Oh, poor me, everybody else did this to me and I'm Mr. Innocent."

But the way he froze himself...that wasn't right and it doesn't solve anything.  It would be much better if he would simply harness his guilt to use it as a reminder to do better--and then, as he really does better, to reward himself for each success.  Guilt isn't a bad or unhealthy emotion by nature, if you treat it as a call to positive action.  Drowning in it the way he's doing is. :-(

As for Karama and me, it is very disturbing that the use of racist language still isn't even something he feels that one could or should be reprimanded for.  And that particularly surprises me out of Karama, after the vile things he undoubtedly heard at home.  Did he get used to that language or something, to where it was part of the landscape?  It's clear to me that Cardassian Guard standards are still very lax in some important areas (and as we see in a later story, it seems that Jarol's punishment of Karama for the sexual harassment incident was only because Jarol thought it was punishable and not because the Guard had any problems with it).  If people are allowed to say those things unpunished, then it is condoned, and that is a problem.  But really, I would've expected Karama to be more sensitive to racism than that because he has a human wife and he saw the ugly side of racism.  And in the apartment story, we saw how such attitudes bothered him.  I think you wrote that story after the first draft of this one, so maybe that explains the inconsistency, but to me it does seem like a bit of a continuity thing.

It was good to see that nothing was wrong with Latana and that she instead had twins.  I wonder, though, how did the twins surprise anybody in the 24th century? ;-)  (Or is it an Oralian practice not to be told the sex of the baby or certain other information in advance, on your Cardassia?)

Av'Roo is really wonderful here.  Her faith and humility are truly beautiful--I especially like how she bears in mind the fact that if she isn't vigilant, "even" she could become what she despises.  She doesn't just stop skin-deep with legalistic obedience--thinking she's all right just because she can check a box that says, "I didn't say _____ today."  The high standard to which she holds herself makes her a very admirable individual.  And it also makes sense that she would be more receptive to the Cardassians than some.  Knowing her own world's brutal history and the long journey to becoming peaceful, she doesn't think she's "above" the Cardassians.

As for th'Arshar, it was good to see him face his own feelings.  I think that's a sign of a mature commander, that even though I think Brenok caused most of the problems here, th'Arshar is also willing to look at himself and the things he said, thought, and did that exacerbated the situation.  I wonder, though, if he'll be ready to deal with Brenok again, or if he'll want to go through Zamarran for everything instead.

Ronus and his history of falling in love with a Cardassian was kind of cute.  Not something that would ever have happened in my universe in that time frame, because I think my Cardassians were quite vicious to what they saw as the "inferior races."

Author's Response:

It seems like the situation drew out a lot of ugly things on both sides. Which is not that surprising, because they have a history of wars, conflicts and distrust. And then twenty years of nothing. Old sentiments are rooted deeply and here they have a chance to do something about it. It isn't working well, but none of them gave up, yet. Brenok wanted to, but in the end he doesn't.

As for Karama, I don't think he saw it as a racial insult. He takes it as an insult, like any other "idiot" word. His approach is too slack and too forgiving, but he sees little common in calling an Andorian "blue" and his wife "it is too primitive." He knows his father means it and believes it and it's not the same what Brenok said.

I think it was Latana's personal choice not to know.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 04 Nov 2011 14:20 Title: Chapter 8

Thank goodness Brenok figured out he was unfit to deal with th'Arshar until he confronted what he'd done.  What he said was so vile it was pretty much the equivalent of saying the "n word" on the bridge.  That more than anything shows how far he has fallen from the man he once was--from someone who was willing to love and save a Vulcan woman at all costs, to pulling a mini-Mel Gibson.

And it also provides quite the contrast when th'Arshar considers the remarks he might make, and this after being patronized and ill-treated by Brenok, but is able to stop himself.  Pretty scary when a "mere" science ship captain is able to conduct himself better than the commander of the entire Cardassian military.

Zamarran, thankfully, is able to conduct himself as a real professional.  Brenok should take notes.

And therein lies the one thing that keeps Brenok from falling as far as Dukat or Jarol: it looks like he is taking notes and did regret his outburst.  He doesn't sit there and continue rationalizing how everyone else must be wrong and he's right because he's Mr. Mighty Cardassian.

The fact that he stood up and apologized that way, on the bridge in front of everybody, and that he neither excused his language nor his outburst--and even acknowledged his hypocrisy in doing so while expecting his soldiers to behave better than that--shows that there is still some good and some conscience left.  Not everybody would do that without being forced.  And that means he still has a chance to deal with his issues.

Maybe he'll realize he doesn't like Mr. Mighty Cardassian and knock off the tough act.

Author's Response:

We see Brenok from the worst side. It's his bad, bad, bad day. All I can say in his defence is that he's not always like that.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 04 Nov 2011 05:24 Title: Chapter 7

The mysterious activation of the cloak...and now an ominous message from the ship.  Oh, boy...

The idea of someone "innocent" in the Obsidian Order is one that I don't think I'd ever seen in any story before yours, and it seems like it's not an idea Brenok had ever considered either.

Aladar's moment of losing the lock on the away team really reminded me of how he reacted many years before in The Lightless Ends of the World when he beamed AU Dukat onto the Roumar.

I have an odd cultural question.  Isn't bickering supposed to indicate a love interest between Cardassians?  How does Ma'Kan know that's not how Ya'val means his sniping?  What's the difference?

As for Brenok, I think he's right to be pissed at Sabal, and that Sabal should've been more forthright, but I think the execution comment was out of line.  And he's completely making up the "accusations" from th'Arshar.  In fact, it seems like he's decided the whole world is against him.  And his crew is acting like amateurs?

Author's Response:

Nothing about the Obsidian Order is considered 'innocent.' And with a reason. Still...there are things...proving that nothing is just purely black or white.

As for Ma'Kan; I think the difference is that he really is annoying her in a way that shows it's not a romantic interest. Plus I don't think Ya'val would pick duty time for showing his feelings. They don't bicker off duty--not in a romantic way--so even more shouldn't on duty.

Brenok is losing it. He's under stress and not controlling it. But I don't think he made up "accusations." There's a lot going on "behind the scenes" when we are with Ya'val & Co. and th'Arshar had to talk to Brenok and annoy him to a point that Brenok doesn't want to answer any more calls.

This is not the best moment of Brenok's and he makes a horrible impression.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 30 Oct 2011 05:29 Title: Chapter 6

Zamarran's "repeating" habit is almost cute, in a weird way. ;-)  But then you already know how much I like him.

The first description of the inside of the ship--and especially from Ya'val's point of view--is utterly creepy.  There's more I'll share with you privately, but you can definitely tell there is something really, really off-kilter about this ship.  Very much a "haunted house" feeling.

Brenok is still not speaking very nicely to th'Arshar.  Here's th'Arshar trying to be friendly and accomodating, despite being stiffed (as he sees it) at the dinner and not happy with the way that went, and Brenok is still saying, Tough luck; you'll have to take who we send and it's up to you to accommodate them.

Yeah?  Well, maybe th'Arshar should just send Jeto and tell Brenok to put up with it.

At least Brenok finally bothered to smile and be semi-nice at the end.  I think, though, that he needs to learn to start his communications that way and not just do a Jarol and only smile after he gets his way.

And now the disappearing ship...

Author's Response:

I think Brenok wanted to appear tough and serious and not to show too much of his softer belly and in the result he came off as a rude arse. He's not experienced in such contacts and it's more than obvious.

"Haunted ship" feeling was exactly what I wanted to achieve.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 24 Oct 2011 03:11 Title: Chapter 5

It seems like the commanders got most of the blame assigned correctly.  Brenok was right to hold his officers to a high standard of discipline and to tell them that even when they are right, they should not allow anger at a false accusation to lead them into the same kind of behavior as those who level those sorts of insults.  I am glad that he dealt out real consequences and made it clear to them that he was not going to allow a repeat.  In that he most definitely did the right thing.

I also like it when I see signs of independent thought in Brenok--that he was willing to recognize that Jarol's view on Damar represented judgment almost as bad as her view on Dukat.

His ability to understand Jeto's view was also a positive sign.

The one thing I think Brenok did that wasn't a good idea was basically telling his crew that they are better than the Federation, as if it is their job to teach the benighted savages.  True, he left room for a "maybe" in there, but I think his subordinates will not hear that subtlety.  But that was a very poor comment on his part, as was suggesting that the only reason Ma'Kan should restrain herself was because the Starfleet crew sucked at it.

For similar reasons, I'm also not sure Brenok should have admitted to Ma'Kan that they did not strictly need the Federation's presence.  I think simply stating, "We have our orders and it is not your place to question them" would have been sufficient.

However, Zamarran showed his honor here.  By being willing to accept full responsibility for his inaction, regardless of what anyone else did or what he may or may not think of the Federation, he shows that he is a man of character even with the occasional flub.  I doubt he'd react well to having a fan club, though... ;-)

I think that maybe a way to really show some diplomatic skill here--and I would suggest this to both commanders here--would have been for them to talk together about the incident.  That way they wouldn't be talking to their crews still full of assumptions and potentially setting up future situations.

What was fortunate for th'Arshar is that he had Av'Roo to talk some sense into him.  I really hate to think what could happen if not for Av'Roo's candidness.

Av'Roo also has a fan club. ;-)

I'm also glad Kapoor was able to question herself here, though I think she still shows her tendency to ignore unpleasant truths.  Her conflict avoidance is great sometimes, but can also be a double-edged sword at times when it prevents her from taking a more assertive stand.  (One can be assertive in a factual, non-mean manner.)  I also wonder if part of the reason she is questioning herself now is because she can see now how she looked to the Federation representatives.  Fong's comment to her had to have hit home.

Author's Response:

I think after the heat of the moment passed, Zamarran was able to assess the situation and see where he'd made mistakes and that he could have done better and in time stop bad turning into worse. But he didn't and I'm sure he regrets that. He probably also regrets failing his gul. His performance was unsatisfactory to both Brenok and himself. Most likely he doesn't think he deserves a fan club ;)

Av'Roo asked th'Arshar a very good question: what were these Cardassians guilty of? Her people's history and religion kept her out of the prejudice club everyone else subscribed to, so she was able to point to some things th'Arshar didn't think of earlier. Kapoor tried, but Av'Roo managed to remain neutral and not engage in the quarrel and later in justifications of it.

As for Kapoor, I think she was so glad to have a chance to see some Federation people again that she didn't even think about things that had happened twenty years earlier.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 24 Oct 2011 01:33 Title: Chapter 4

As I remember mentioning the first time I reviewed this, no one acquitted him or herself well here.  The fault begins at the top with th'Arshar and Zamarran.  I think that in both cases, their pride prevented them from acting earlier. 

In Zamarran's case...normally I consider him to be about the most impartial, levelheaded officer, and one of your most positive examples of a Cardassian.  Here, however, I think that he allowed being called by the wrong title to sway his judgment.

Obviously th'Arshar should have intervened as well, and in my opinion he decided it was okay for his officers to address the Cardassians harshly--perhaps as payback for Brenok's rude behavior and what he now perceives (incorrectly) to be Brenok snubbing hum by not showing up for the dinner.

As for Ha'varra, something tells me he was thinking along similar lines as th'Arshar: even though as a counselor he should have been able to recognize things were getting out of control and intervened, he was letting a personal sense of offense get in the way of doing his job.

I suspect Kapoor just made herself a traitor in Fong's eyes for refusing to stand up for principle. I do think she could have made a statement to the effect that while Damar is revered for the great thing he did for Cardassia during the Dominion War, it is acknowledged that he did not always acquit himself so well in the past, and the killing of Ziyal was one of those moments that Cardassia does not celebrate. 

(Though one wonders how well that statement would have worked given that apparently there's been some revisionist history on Cardassia if Ma'Kan is not aware of what happened, and perhaps would have turned on Kapoor if she heard her say that.)

That said, Kapoor was probably one of the ones who handled this incident best; I can't accuse her of adding fuel to the fire.  I have to imagine that whole incident made her sick.

And of course it goes without saying that Jeto's loss of temper was inappropriate and she did start it.

I hope that after both commanders think about what happened (and Brenok too, because of the message his non-participation inadvertently sent), they'll be able to analyze what went wrong and both hold their respective crews and themselves responsible.

Author's Response:

I wouldn't call it a "revisionist" history, not any more revisionist than it usually happens. I think Damar's crimes were something that wasn't spoken about too often and while Ma'Kan knew about his not-so-heroic past, she did what many people did--chose to concentrate on his "glorious last days."

The Federation doesn't do that and speaks openly about Damar's "inconvenient" past, which is especially tough for Cardassians, because they feel criticised by aliens. Kapoor tried not to choose any side and not to be involved in that verbal conflict.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 17 Oct 2011 00:46 Title: Chapter 3

The loss of Brenok's ability to trust is one of the greatest tragedies of his character, in my opinion.  While I understand the traumas that brought it about, I think it puts him one unfortunate step closer to the stereotypical Cardassian.  As I have mentioned in other contexts, this is one example of the corrupting influence Jarol had on him; I'm sure listening to her spout that kind of stuff did not help.  For him to associate any sort of trust with naivete...what a shame.

And unfortunately, the way he addressed th'Arshar bordered on rude when he first started talking to them--like he was trying to establish himself as th'Arshar's superior, not work with him as an equal.  I could almost hear, after that "No," a stern, I give the orders around here, not you.  And then that patronizing smirk at th'Arshar...really, has the man been studying from the Jarol-Dukat playbook?  It's rather rich to hear him talking about prejudice in th'Arshar when he was acting like that right from the start.

I think he wouldn't have gotten such a distrustful reaction--and one that played right into the Cardassian stereotype--if he'd tried a few manners first.  In light of some things that are to come later, I wonder if Brenok sowed the seeds of them right here.

Karama's open, curious question was far preferable, I think.  Yes, it was rather boldly stated, but at least it showed a willingness to listen and learn as opposed to just dictating and giving orders.

I'm amazed, to be honest, that th'Arshar didn't hold Brenok's rudeness against him, since that was not exactly a five-star introduction.

Overall...I would say on re-reading, my estimate of Brenok dropped. :-(

Author's Response:

I think th'Arshar didn't hold Brenok's behaviour against him, because he didn't expect anything else.

I think your estimate of Brenok dropped some time ago. This either made it worse, or confirmed it. But that's true--he isn't the same sweet, young man he used to be. But I can't imagine how he could be still the same as he had been twenty-five years earlier.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 15 Oct 2011 20:32 Title: Chapter 2

It's interesting to see how quickly Jeto was willing to work with the Cardassians.

I wonder if she decided to accept as some way of proving that she's "better than them"?  That they may be uncivilized brutes but she knows how to control herself no matter how she feels?  It seems to me like it may be a sort of competitive urge, to outdo them and show that no matter what others think of her or what they may think of her, she's going to "win" in the contest of control.  I almost wonder if she wants them to snap first and prove to everyone that she is not like them.

That said, such competitive fire can only cover the hurt, not actually help it.

Jarol's reaction to Brenok's coup crack...definitely a reaction in the "bluster" category.  I wonder what her reaction to someone else who said that would be?  Punishment?  Execution?  Being close to her seems like being close to a tiger...not a comfortable place for most people except for a very trusted tamer.

As for Kapoor--I find myself thinking there ought to be some misgivings in her about meeting with the Federation crew, unless her humor there was an attempt to distract herself from such feelings.  Her actions in Among the Dragons were almost treason and personally, I think that even if she hasn't come to understand what she was guilty of, there should at least be some fear of being perceived as a traitor.  We saw how DeSeve was treated after his return from the Romulans; if she knows about cases like that, I would think that should make her very nervous indeed.

Author's Response:

I think Jeto wants to show everyone that she can act in a professional manner and if that includes working with monsters, then so be it. She can take it. She is a civilised person and can adapt to her circumstances. She also probably wants to prove her captain and counselor that she can do it and that there is no reason to pay special attention to her, just because the mission gets tough.

Jarol wouldn't execute or punish anyone for "Brenok's joke," if anyone else would say something like that, but they certainly would know she didn't find it "funny." She might say, "If you want to say something, then say it" in a tone of voice clearly indicating "don't you even dare," but the worst consequence would be her never forgetting that this person made such a "joke."

I am not sure how public was DeSeve's return. I'm also not sure how much Kapoor thinks of it as "coming home." She is a Cardassian officer now and that's where her home is. She could be thinking about what meeting a Federation crew means, but I don't think she'd share it with anyone else than her husband...and I'm not so sure she'd share it with him, either. She could worry he wouldn't understand and feel hurt, thinking that she regrets, or something like that.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 10 Oct 2011 03:35 Title: Chapter 1

The "unpronounceable" name...I have a certain Greek lieutenant commander who appreciates the fact that you understand that in real life, not all names are made for Anglo-Saxon TV. ;-)

That was very nice of Brenok to accept a gesture that he might not normally have wanted to accept.  I had forgotten that detail, but it was good to see him acknowledge human custom.  To me, that's the least he could do, since Cardassia is still holding on to worlds it shouldn't, but at least he seems to be making a real effort not to be an asshole about it.

I can't say I agree with the governor/prefect that the best they can hope for is the status quo.  That seems a little servile to me, and makes me wonder if the Cardassians put him in place at some point.

It seems that for all of his respect, Brenok has missed the fact that it's not just his rank that is making the humans nervous--it's the barbaric way his people acted in the past towards those same humans.  I think he may be in a bit of denial here, even though I can see that he is watching himself to avoid being insulting.

I remember the first time I read this story, Jarol really scared me when she first started talking about the Oralian gatherings.  I really thought she was going to do something bad too.  But it's to her credit that she recognizes that radicals and fanatics are bad even when they might agree with her.  The solution she came up with for the colonists was also a good one.

The glimpse of a bit of humor from her is good, too; it's in these moments, I think, when she is "purest."

The portrait of Taret that you provide here is very striking; he almost reminds me of a cat in his movements and mannerisms.

Author's Response:

I think the certain Greek officer's name is much easier to pronounce than the governor's. I wonder how many people are able to read that cluster of consonants correctly ;)

Brenok is trying hard to be the best diplomat possible. On one hand he realises that those people have a lot of autonomy and are quite separate from the central Cardassian government, but you are right--at the same time he considers it Cardassian territory and he doesn't question that notion.

That's an interesting comparison; one that didn't occur to me: Taret a bit like a cat. I like it :)

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 10 Oct 2011 03:06 Title: Prologue

I'd forgotten about the cloud surrounding this ship.  That certainly paints an eerie picture, like the Flying Dutchman coming out of a heavy mist on the high seas.

Th'Arshar is very prudent here; I'm sure he's curious, but he's also very precise in his actions.

One other detail I really like was how you had Av'Roo's neck feathers stand up.  What a way to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Author's Response:

I can't tell for sure now, since this part of the story was written quite some time ago, but it's possible I was thinking about the Flying Dutchman when describing the mysterious ship.

Th'Arshar knows he has to be careful. He has to deal not only with the mystery, but also with unpredictable Cardassians, and who knows which could be worse.

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