Reviews For Spirit and Steel
You must login (register) to review.
Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 19 Nov 2014 21:58 Title: Chapter 7

This was a long time coming, that these two guys hooked up. Interesting how defensive Kottrag is about the idea of having relations with a Bajoran, almost defensive. But Chitta is clearly not taking no for an answer and so that is that.

And now it looks as if their relationship might deepen even further. After all she's moving in within him after only their first date! Talk about moving fast. As for Kottrag's men, they might be okay with a Bajoran cook and their boss having a courtesan living with him, but should this relationship develop into something more, I can't see them being that understanding. Not if they compare her to a pet already.

Author's Response: Thank you for reading this story. Probably not what you have expected so I appreciate your efforts. Not all relationships deepen, develop, or last forever. People just have them due to a lack of better options. Kottrag’s soldiers simply don’t care what their commander thinks of the cook and what he does in his off-duty time.

Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 06 Nov 2014 21:52 Title: Chapter 6

Or perhaps they will start realizing who their true enemy is and combine their efforts to fight the Cardassians instead of each other.

I can't help but think that way and I wouldn't be surprised if Chitta or at least some Bajorans think along those exact same lines.

Putting those consideration aside for now however, this relationship of between the prisoner and the jailor is really starting to deepen here and I am interest to see how far this might go.

It's also interesting to note that Chitta appears to hold quite a bit of power over Kottrag at the moment which is mostly obvious in his behaviorism towards her. This creates s ver intriguing bit of role reversal between these two characters who are starting to see each other as more than they would have ever imagined.

Author's Response: Well, this story is too narrow in scope to draw conclusions on Bajoran attitudes in general. The Bajorans in the camp might join the Resistance at some point or become more united but not within this story. In this story, they will only receive more food and better conditions. As for the story, Chitta will make a full use of this not particularly clever representative of the Cardassian Union.

Reviewer: Erin Moriarty Signed [Report This]
Date: 06 Nov 2014 20:50 Title: Chapter 4

I think you have a lot of good things going in this story. That said, I fear that a lot of people would be detracted from continuing after reading Chapter 2, which sets a rather brutal tone for the whole story. In my experience, you can get away with scenes like that later in a story, but right at the beginning, you are far more likely to turn people away. It was really only one of your comments on CeJay’s review that persuaded me to continue reading. And I say that as someone who loves Cardassians and Bajorans, and who sees the purpose of violence, torture and even rape in such stories. When it comes so soon, it gives me a fear that a piece is just going to be “torture porn” for lack of better word. I know that the first chapters are a device in establishing the story, but I almost wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just glaze over the details initially and fill them in later with Chitta “remembering” them.

This chapter feels a lot like role-reversal. Chitta is the cunning, deceitful one, while Kottrag seems to almost bumble about. It’s no wonder he’s in charge of such a camp, as he seems to lack the brutal decisiveness that would make him ideal for any prestigious assignments. I honestly wonder who he knows, or is related to, that managed to get him the rank of glinn in the first place.

Author's Response: Your suggestion to muffle the brutal part and incorporate it later in the story as reminiscence, or a flashback is excellent from writer’s point of view. I definitely see merit in it – prudent and professional. However, my humble scribbling can hardly pass for literature so I never worry about such subtleties. I just try to present the Cardassian point of view, which was conspicuously disregarded in DS9. Back to story, Chitta realizes that she has miscalculated the situation and assumes more down-to-earth approach. The glinn is a career soldier and does not need to be very clever – hierarchical systems favor steady average performance and commonplace attitude.

Reviewer: Erin Moriarty Signed [Report This]
Date: 06 Nov 2014 20:37 Title: Chapter 3

I like that the glinn is torn in his feelings regarding Chitta. He clearly isn’t acting solely based on a desire to figure out what happened, but rather some semblance of compassion towards her. I have often believed that there are plenty of Cardassians who didn’t just use Bajorans for sex, but who genuinely loved them (a theme that I explore both in “The Beauty of Gray” in addition to “The Family Business”). You can’t spend that much time among people of a different race/class/species without one or two of them having traits that grow on you.

I’m not sure if English isn’t your native language, or if an autocorrect/spell checker is messing up your prose, but there are several words that are used improperly multiple times. Poodle instead of puddle, bating/bated instead of bathing/bathed, etc. It adds a bit of confusion to your prose, so you may want to look it over again. I’m also not sure if “metric” is meant as a Cardassian/Bajoran time unit, or if “minute” or “moment” is more appropriate.

Author's Response: Well, this glinn is not very complicated and refined, but he definitely has some basic sense of decency. His decision to save her is more of a wounded ego than genuine concern but it worked fine for Chitta. I suppose that there were cases of mutual attraction between Cardassians and Bajorans but during the Occupation they evolved out of necessity rather than affection. Thank you for notifying me about those typos – no matter how much I check and double-check, some always remain unspotted. I try to keep my story lines consistent with the “Terok Nor” trilogy so according to it “metric” is a Cardassian unit of time equivalent to a minute.

Reviewer: Erin Moriarty Signed [Report This]
Date: 06 Nov 2014 20:21 Title: Chapter 2

I tend to agree with CeJay in that this needs an MA rating. Don't get me wrong, I write brutal stuff here too, but I don't think that this is in any way appropriate for a teenager to be reading.

It's not just the brutality of the rape that I find inappropriate, but her reaction as well. I fully understand that some women are able to block out rape, and I know that you're intending this scene as a demonstration of Chitta's strength. A younger audience would not necessarily see it that way, and I worry that younger folks might instead see rape as something that isn't that big of a deal.

You may also want to consider that things that are alluded to tend to be more "frightening" or "brutal" than things that are spelled out... particularly with things like rape. Mere allusion allows the audience to kind of infer their own personal "worst case scenario." Ostensibly, film directors cut away when bad things are happening because of censors, but they often comment later on how much worse the scene is because of that ambiguity. I think a good blend of "onscreen" and alluded violence tends to work out well, because you can have specific things that you want to happen occur, while at the same time letting the reader's mind run wild. That tends to heighten the effect even more, because the reader thinks, "If x, y, and z were included, how bad must this glossed over part be?"

I am also not too big of a fan of all of the Earth slang that's used. It really takes me out of the "Trek" mindset.

Unrelated: Limo is an absolute moron to put his penis anywhere near Chitta's mouth.

Author's Response: Personally, I have always considered ratings a subtle form of censorship disguised behind hypocritical moral concerns. In saying that, everyone is free to treat them as they see fit. The story does not contain graphic descriptions and is equipped with all necessary warnings so if people find it too oppressive they may simply not read further. I prefer a more straightforward approach, I am not into alluding things, if I want to say something, I just say it. One of the best things about fan fiction is the higher level of sincerity. Without shattering anyone’s illusions, the rape is a metaphor – sometimes you can’t stop bad things from happening. What you can do is to survive, draw conclusions from the bitter experience, and change your tactics. I work with teenagers and I am pretty sure that they are neither naïve nor take life at face value. When it comes to graphic violence, I don’t think I can offer them more than the TV channels. Earth slang is used here deliberately, to debase the scene. Later, I switch to a more standard register. I don’t know what “Trek” mindset is and I hope I will never know it. It sounds like “thought control” to me. Yes, Limo made a fatal mistake – he underestimated her resilience and his overconfidence led to his downfall.

Reviewer: Erin Moriarty Signed [Report This]
Date: 06 Nov 2014 20:02 Title: Chapter 1

I'm quite fascinated by stories that center around the relations of Bajorans and Cardassians, both before, during, and after the Occupation. I like how there's striation within the camp; it's not just the Bajorans united against the Cardassians. There are sub-divisions within the Bajoran people, and there are Cardassians who are more empathetic towards the Bajorans than most of their fellows.

Author's Response: Thank you for reading this story. As you have already realized, it is quite controversial. It is a prequel, I intend to use one of the characters at least in other stories. Bajorans are usually depicted as Resistance fighters, victims, or collaborators so I wanted a Bajoran who is none of the aforementioned. Cardassians fall into three categories – cruel beasts exterminating Bajorans, devious Machiavelli-like agents, or ambitious guls. My Cardassian character is just an insignificant infantry glinn – he is not very clever, he does not care about the big picture, he is passive, indecisive and simply wants to make his service tolerable. Both characters are brought together by circumstances.

Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 26 Oct 2014 13:28 Title: Chapter 5

Looks like Kottrag is warming to Chitta and vice versa. Something is happening between these two very different people as they are starting to see each other as more than occupier and occupied.

The whole thing reminds me a bit of the relationship between Dukat and Kira's mom except a lot more intense and believable. Particularly because you draw such a bleak picture of Chitta's life in the camp and on Bajor in general. And of course the glinn's life isn't much better as a member of a Cardassian Militia which doesn't really want to be on Bajor.

Author's Response: I have never thought of Chitta as a victim, she chose to oppose the traditional mores, became a subversive outcast, and paid the price. Her devastating experience might teach her that existential pragmatism is not to be underestimated. It seems to me that no soldier would enjoy being stationed in a desolate place among hostile natives. The propaganda slogans simply don’t work in reality so the troops are likely to develop their own ways of coping with the situation. The stances of those who do the dying in order to provide their world with resources are quite different from the official euphemisms.

Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 19 Oct 2014 16:04 Title: Chapter 4

The interesting role reversal continues. The Bajorans as the the villains while the Cardassian in charge is shocked by the the conditions in his own camp.

Not entirely sure I buy that. Of course there is precedent for Cardassians who didn't agree with their people's practices such as the clerk who pretended to be a gul in Duets.

I remain fascinated by Kottrag's journey and I like Chitta's background as well. These characters are starting to grow on me and I'm curious where you take them from here.

Author's Response: The Bajorans had their ancient culture but at some point, their own traditions became an impediment for them. Kottrag was not interested in the details concerning the conditions in the camp at all. Hissar’s inspection made him enter the camp and have a closer look at the actions of his Bajoran intermediary. He is just an ordinary infantry soldier, he can’t reach the sensibilities displayed by Maritza in “Duet.”

Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 13 Oct 2014 17:59 Title: Chapter 3

Yikes, not exactly an easy read but I guess that is to be expected.

I still strongly disagree with the rating of this story, considering the subject matter and the body parts you tend to explain in some detail.

Kottrag's indignation here is interesting even if it is for all the wrong reasons. I'm going to stick with this story for now as I'm curious where this character is going. Will this investigation change some of his views? Will there be some form of justice.

Author's Response: Congratulations! You have survived chapter 2 and 3, and the Star Trek fandom is still in one piece. No more horrors. It is very difficult to tell stories that take place East of the Federation Eden and not to get down and dirty at times. I know that Star Trek lit tends to avoid violence but looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses is not an option either. Ratings are to provide guidance not a straight jacket, the reader has the final say. I fully realize that most trekkies don’t read such stories – I write for a very small number of people besides I like provocations and thought experiments. As for Kottrag, I don’t think he will ever get a Nobel Peace Prize for humanitarian achievements but he is likely to question his actions and decisions.

Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 10 Oct 2014 20:49 Title: Chapter 2

You need to slap a warning on this story for non-con and up the rating to MA which will add another warning. This is not a T rated story by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I'd say this is one of the most explicit scenes I've ever read in Trek fiction and it caught me by surprise.

Having said all that, I didn't think it was bad. In fact I really thought that the victim's perspective and the way in which she was able to not only shut out what was happening to her and even taunt her assailants throughout her ordeal really interesting. I don't have sufficent experience in the subject manner to judge how realistic such a reaction would be, but it could of course be explained as a Bajoran characteristic.

I was less fond of the language used, not because I disagree with it but because I generally don't believe contemporary slang works well in Trek stories, especially when attribute to alien races. That's mostly a personal preference though.

Overall, incredibly intense chapter but totally believable given the time and place even if once again the Bajorans come across as worse then the Cardassians. And yeah, you definitely have to change that rating. I've read a lot of tamer stuff than this with an MA rating on Ad Astra. If in doubt always apply the higher rating, I'd say.

Author's Response: You flatter me beyond measure. I have always wanted to push the readers to their limits and make them think. Whether they approve of my stances is not important. What matters is that they have made so much effort to disagree. I have checked very carefully the requirements for ratings and warnings and since there is no graphic description of anything, it can go under T rating. It uses inner monologue technique. TV channels like FoxCrime show similar scenes graphically and in great detail. Agent Jack Bauer killed 309 people on-screen. The Story note contains a warning – Reader discretion is advised. I have also added a non-con warning. I think that both sides did wrongs during the Occupation – there was an Occupational Government, collaborators like Kubus Oak or Basso Tromac, who did not think twice when they could gain profit by betraying their own people. As for the language, this is deliberately – when you write such things, you stick to a lower register than the standard one. I have an MA story and I will publish it someday so you will be able to see the difference between T and MA. I have read a story about a Cardassian interrogator torturing quite graphically a Starfleet officer on this site and it is under T rating. You can check this about the ratings:

Reviewer: CeJay Signed [Report This]
Date: 08 Oct 2014 22:08 Title: Chapter 1

A rather depressing look at what Bajor must have been like during the occupation. Like any other place which has labor or refugee camps, this is no happy place at all.

The Cardassian perspective makes this quite jarring as well as the Bajorans are portrayed as natural trouble makers, pretty much depended on the Cardassians care and good will and never as a conquered people living under the heel of an alien occupier. No doubt most Cardassians would have seen things exactly in that manner. It does make it difficult to sympathize much with the protagonist.

Author's Response: Exactly. Occupations are nasty and grim. The most unpleasant collateral damage of wars and armed conflicts is the social disarray that fosters a jungle-law type of relations. The Bajorans learned to fight and to be united but it did not happen at once. I have never intended my characters to be likable cuties, the readers gets their motives, their point of view, their perspective and then they decide whether and to what extent they can relate to the character.

You must login (register) to review.