Reviews For The Desolate Vigil
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Reviewer: Jean-Luc Picard Signed [Report This]
Date: 21 May 2011 21:54 Title: Part II: Exodus

This reminded me a bit of Europa Europa, where Solly and the kids in a Soviet orphanage are forced to flee from the German advance. I like how you detail this world and also Dukat's little "close escape".

Author's Response:

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the story!  I have not seen the movie in question, but I am glad you like it.

Reviewer: kes7 Signed Liked [Report This]
Date: 11 May 2010 17:35 Title: Part VII: Serenity

Just finished these last few chapters.  This reunion between Dukat and Macet was quite moving, as was the moment in the last chapter when Dukat realized who the rebel leader really was and that Macet had survived.   

The confrontation between Dukat and the Bajoran was compelling reading, though being somewhat unfamiliar with the entirety of your AU, I wonder what it is about the AU Bajorans that makes them so cold, clinical and heartless -- especially since you've gone out of your way to show even the Prime Universe Cardassian occupiers as emotionally complex and multilayered.

In any case, this entire story was an interesting look at the events that shaped the life of AU Skrain Dukat, and an incredible bit of world-building as far as the faith of the AU Cardassians.  The many layers and traditions, plus the differences between the city-dwellers and the more traditional desert people, gave it a strong feeling of authenticity.  You're a talented writer, Nerys, and I look forward to more stories from you.

Author's Response:

I think that if I delved more into the AU Bajorans, we'd start to see more of who they are.  I have hinted at it in "Exits in the Haze," that there is a resistance movement, that there are persecuted religious dissidents.  I also show in "The Guide" how some Bajorans are just as victimized as the Cardassians.  This story doesn't show it so much though, because AU Dukat is not yet in a position to really know or understand those things, with the invasion having just started.

I can tell you one thing, though.  Dr. Mora should've seemed familiar to you.  I got the feeling he was rather cold and clinical in the prime universe, and in his case I felt that characteristic would be more pronounced in his AU version.

Thank you SO much for reading, though!  And I am very glad you enjoyed it!

Reviewer: kes7 Signed [Report This]
Date: 09 Feb 2010 03:45 Title: Part IV: Flight

Nerys, this is just an exquisite piece of world building.  The descriptions are so rich with imagery and texture.  Really nicely done.

You know, in my church, silent retreats are popular, and Dukat's experience reminds me of that kind of thing.  And it's interesting to see things unfold through his eyes as he remains silent.  It seems he has more time to process things, more time to think, because he's not able to speak or question things.

I'm enjoying this story.  It almost feels like spiritual reading in a strange way, because it gets my mind thinking in that direction.  Quality stuff.

Author's Response:

Thank you so much. :-)

Even though I'm describing an alien world, writing it very much gives me the same feeling.  Most of the older disciplines are not common in my church, and I really find myself wishing there were more of an opportunity to go on a silent retreat.

I'm very glad you like it!

Reviewer: Gibraltar Signed [Report This]
Date: 04 Jan 2010 04:58 Title: Part III: Silence

Dukat makes his first forays into the cultural and spiritual life of his newly adopted desert family, and learns that the sacrifice of silence he must make will be a telling on upon him.

You capture the unique culture of the Kurabda with exquisite detail, and Dukat's inner monologue (all that he is allowed, under the circumstances) allows the reader to understand the roiling emotions that have seized his soul following the invasion of Cardassia Prime by the Bajorans.

It is obvious that Dukat's spirituality will become the rock upon which he draws his strength for the ordeals to come.

Really terrific stuff here, Nerys.  Well done!    

Author's Response:

I figured for ANY Dukat, no matter how good, not being able to speak would be an immense challenge, especially in his younger years!  (Though this does help explain why Dukat's reactions to stress in the Multiversal RR were SO different from his canon counterpart...)

Even though Dukat is so separated out here in the desert from what's going on right now, I knew there was no way he could see what he had seen and not be deeply upset by it.  He saw so many things, even ONE of which would've been upsetting--but it just kept coming and now he's had QUITE the change of pace after that hellish day.

Thank you so much for reading!

Reviewer: Miranda Fave Signed [Report This]
Date: 29 Dec 2009 21:55 Title: Part III: Silence

A change of pace but a fitting one as Dukat begins his training and acclimatising to the camp and the different practices of this particular tribe. Nice little touches mean we follow and learn more of the faith and of Dukat's personality. Faced with a difficult task - that of accepting his current circumstances as normal - in light of the horrors he has seen and the devastation to his home and possibly his family, it all means to say that he has a lot to contend with and with silence too. It might be that the task of remaining silent will actually help Dukat with this difficult transistion. He has a lot to learn and to overcome too. This chapter is good start to showing just how large his task is going to be. But I've  afeeling that prepping the vegetables is going to be something like the karate kid 'wax on, wax off' training. :)

Author's Response:

You'll have to shoot me a PM on what that Karate Kid bit was--I never saw that movie!

You are very right...this is a big challenge for Dukat, having to come to grips with all of this.  I mean, he's been completely uprooted from his home and culture, and it's like...this is difficult for him, and what he saw was awful, and yet it's possible he's got it really easy.  He has no idea whether his family is even alive or dead.

The vow of silence...that could go so many different directions.  I mean, even though this is a very different universe, this IS Skrain Dukat we're talking about, who in this universe was basically planning on making his living as a prosecuting attorney!

Reviewer: PSGarak Signed [Report This]
Date: 01 Dec 2009 09:33 Title: Part II: Exodus

I found myself very swept along by the narrative. The first moments of the invasion rang very true, the shock and disbelief at the worsening horrors and conditions all around followed by the will and need to take action to survive. I find myself feeling sorry for this young Dukat, to be thrust so quickly into circumstances that will force him to grow up long before he expected. And yet, knowing he's equal to the task, I'm interested to see how that develops.

Author's Response:

I'm so glad you liked it. :-)

You're very right that he has to grow up a lot faster than expected--especially given the way Cardassian culture (well, city-dwelling culture) sees his legal status at this time; that's a good point.

Reviewer: Miranda Fave Signed [Report This]
Date: 24 Nov 2009 21:33 Title: Part II: Exodus

A very frightening situation to which Dukat reacts with a disciplined mind, with thought and organisation, conducting himself with order, soon descends into a frantic fight for survival. From the moment the radio stations declined in number, one knew the Bajorans had arrived, but then the fiery death from above rained down upon the earth and smashed into Dukat's life. The sudden onset of the invasion brings a visereal danger to the scenes. This is in contrast to the moments of prayer and reflection in the previous chapter. That said, again the attention to detail is here fully realising the images of the scenes you tell. However, we also get plenty of detail and introspection from Dukat throughout adding his emotional state and thoughts to being caught up in the beginning of the invasion. The scene with the dying soldier and Dukat taking up arms is a powerful moment brilliantly conveyed and related. A young man tryign to follow the way of Oralius is surely bound to have some hesitancy in picking up a weapon. But the way it actually transpires, it makes sense, it is an act of defence and not in anger or retribution, and to top it all he is invoked by the dying soldier to do so. This helps us to relate to Dukat taking up his armed cause. Again, though the consistency of the characterisation is that he doesn't start shooting back and becoming some sort Cardassian Rambo. Instead, there is a growth and natural progression to the treatment you give Dukat. Very impressive and very loyal to the character. And it seems upon the ending that his fight against the Bajorans will be part of a holy cause, guided by Oralius and not anger.


Author's Response:

Thank you very much...I'm glad to know the change in tone didn't bother you!

The speed with which the situation degenerates is one of the things that made this a difficult thing to write.  This version of Dukat has a very active imagination, and each time he thinks he's letting his imagination get away from him, reality actually turns out to be worse.

As to the scene with the dying I mentioned to Gibraltar, there was a scene in Band of Brothers that REALLY bothered me, and in a way I was trying to bring more closure to it.  But within the story--I would say the soldier was trying to protect Dukat in one last way, by giving his weapon to him (AND also stopping Dukat from calling anybody else to get in the line of fire or to try and retrieve him, which is what Dukat was initially trying to do).

I would say, regarding the Oralian beliefs, that defense is considered acceptable, though with great caution.  To fail to defend others when you could have done so puts that responsibility back upon you, if you had the means.  Getting absorbed by the violence, though, taking any pleasure in it...that's not acceptable, nor does killing get you any special favors in the next life.  Now, I think it would be crazy to think that there is no anger in him at all.  You'd be crazy NOT to be angry that someone was invading your homeland.  But being ruled by it to where you do unconscionable things...that's a whole other issue and I don't see Dukat going that way.

I figured that really becoming a resistance fighter is something that would take Dukat time, and it would be different for him than for Kira.  Firing back right away would be difficult for him, even though what he's seen is truly horrible.  He's older, and has had 20 years living in peace before this.  Kira, in a lot of ways, shows some of the psychology of a child soldier and sometimes is almost drunk with the hate and bloodlust--she's working against it now, but there's definitely something problematic in her.  (Sometimes her attitude towards terrorism/civilian casualties can be rather abhorrent.)  I am also not sure about the differences in religious doctrines, but sometimes the Bajoran religion comes off as a bit more hedonistic/New Agey than something like the Oralian Way.  When I write the Cardassians, even though they're just as ardent in their beliefs, there's something very different in the feel of it--they feel a bit more like Russians in some ways than the Bajorans, who come off as a bit more Middle Eastern.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but I figured this difference would show.

Reviewer: Miranda Fave Signed [Report This]
Date: 24 Nov 2009 20:42 Title: Part I: Dreams

Rereading this part of of the Desolate Vigil, it strikes me how accomplished a piece of writing this is. Truly it is, because the story suceeds on so many levels. It first off, enthralling and compelling to read. Which by rights maybe it shouldn't be considering the topic matters and the style of character focus. But then again, that is exactly what some of us want to read about - and if we do there's not many who do such a polished and refined delivery of writing than yourself.

You carried the story with its focus on his mental well being and the spiritual exploration so well and it so engrossing. When so often such a topic matter and approach would turn a person off from reading the story but the story flows and yet there are so many details and layers built into the story. Dukat relate's his past illness and his lowest point of his life. yet he recovers and the 'journey' through his life is very spiritual and uplifting in its own way. AU Dukat is an inspiration for his faith and his attitude and strength that has endured him.

As I've commented already, the various details and layers are impresive. As I've stated, his spiritual side is beautiful expressed, but in addition to that we vivid glimpses of family life, college life and we begin to gather a sense of what the AU Cardassia feels like. The worry about the impending war, the threatening presence of the Bajoran way of life washing away everything dear and unique to the Cardassian way of life is palpable. Very effectively conveyed and again, to comment on your world building skills, it has to be said just how comprehensive and detailed the world is that you present to the reader. It is a vivd imagining. Very rich and sensory in sight, sound and touch, with how you relate it  - from your excellent choice in descriptive phrases, the details you choose to impart, all truly impressive and clever. It has to be stated that you must know this world inside and out becuase you set it out so clearly in your story and yet the writing and the flow don;t get bogged down. The story isn't lumbered with the detail, it isn't disjointed, instead it flows and grows like something organic.

I like too how you express the views of Dukat about the Federation. And this is saying somehting, because I don't always particularly like any Federation bashing as I've never believed it to be as homogeneous or as patronising as canon has often depicted it. However, the criticisms here, do strike as very valid and very fitting to Dukat's and by extension other Cardassians' viewpoints. The reasons also do sound very plausble Terrna/Federation spiel - especially if they actually feared the Bajorans too.

And to return once more to the details you must have laboured over, I have to express my amasement at how coherent and real the religion you have created of Oralius. I know you may have some canon or treklit materials to pull upon, but there is no doubt that you imbued it with a rich emotion and a heart and a core value. It is not just semantics and waving of arms. Instead, there is a very real feeling of heart and of faith and Dukat's faith is very tangible. Once again, a terrific piece of writing.

Author's Response:

I truly appreciate your kind words and incredibly deep review! :-)

It felt like a risky piece of writing, for me, exactly because it was so introspective, but I am very glad to know that it worked out.

AU Dukat's treatment is a very holistic one.  As you know from the RR, he IS on medication...but it's my personal opinion that that's only part of the solution.  The cognitive/behavioral therapy he had was another part (practical coping skills), and the spiritual disciplines are another huge part (finding peace with oneself, which in a lot of ways goes beyond mere emotion).  The difference you may have noticed between this and the RR is that at this point in his life, he gets his medicine through a subcutaneous implant rather than having to inject it every day.

Getting a view of what AU Cardassia was like before the beginning of the Occupation...that was something that REALLY meant a lot to me and I'm so glad it could mean something to you!

As to the criticisms of the Federation...Dukat is studying to be a lawyer.  I also figured that just as a person he'd be likely to be quite opinionated about things (and this is something I HOPE will make this version convincing as the canon Dukat's alternate).  So, for him to be getting his legal/judicial philosophy together at this period in his life is something that he ought to be doing, to know how he is going to approach his prosecutorial duties when he gets older.  As to the exact philosophy, what he's basically laying out here is what in the US is called a "strict constructionist" position.  I don't know if your country has a written constitution, but here's an article that may help.

Basically, he's hacked off that it seems like unelected officials in the Federation (judges, bureaucrats, etc.) are usurping the role of the legislature, and bending the founding documents and laws beyond what they're intended to do.  As you might imagine, even on this AU Cardassia where there are a lot of freedoms that the canon Cardassians don't have, there's still quite a conservative streak, and it made sense for Dukat to look at the founding documents versus the real-life application and be offended at the difference.  (There is also the aspect that as a majority religious people, they would feel that they are being looked down on by the secular Federation and unfairly lumped in with those who are practicing in a destructive manner.)

As to MY personal opinion of the Federation, at least by the 24th century, I'll be honest and admit that it's not favorable in many cases.  That's part of why I prefer to write from a Cardassian perspective; I don't have to feel so hemmed-in.  My characters can actually have their opinions without getting flamed. ;-)

This version of the Oralian religion diverges in some ways from the way I think Andrew Robinson may have conceived it in his universe...of course, I also have the excuse of five hundred years of divergence, where the religion has been able to grow without persecution or interference.  (Instead of the founding of the Union, the Right of Worship as well as other reforms was passed about 500 years prior, and safeguards religious freedom for those born Cardassian or who have a legitimate right to live in Cardassian territory.)  Look at what all has happened with Christianity and Islam in that timespan, and to me it seems reasonable that you could have significant differences in ritual and theology among the Oralian sects.

That said, I am writing more the rituals and practices of the Oralians, and looking at the effects it has on the believers...I'm not planning on going very deep into the actual theology itself, the exact mechanism of salvation, and so forth.

Reviewer: Gibraltar Signed Liked [Report This]
Date: 23 Nov 2009 14:58 Title: Part II: Exodus

You've captured perfectly the fear, panic, and lack of information suffered by those caught in the middle of an invasion of their homeland.  Dukat's trying to follow the rules, but the Bajorans have literally turned the world upside down with their violent arrival.

Dukat's honoring the memory of the fallen soldier by taking up his sidearm speaks volumes about who he is and where his strengths lay.  Fortunately, he seems to have stumbled across the local analogue to the Bedouin, a people who can feed his spiritual needs while simultaneously training him in the martial ones he'll need to continue to resist the Bajorans.

Terrific chapter!

Author's Response:

Thank you so much! :-)

I have just recently read the book A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah, and it describes what it was like getting caught up in war for the first time.  I also have memories of books like Zlata's Diary from when I was little, that captured it as well.

You're VERY right about how Dukat behaves versus how the world really is.  Learning how to function under circumstances like that isn't something he can get from watching the news, and I also don't think the breakdown of order is something we can ever really imagine...and even more so a Cardassian, who has a hierarchical instinct.  It's like...he knew things could get bad, but had no idea how bad, or how QUICKLY it could happen.

The military is going to keep trying to fight the invaders, but I eventually plan to show more of what happens with them.

Taking up the soldier's sidearm...that whole scene was in part a response to the scene that disturbed me the absolute most when I watched Band of Brothers.  I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I wanted to give this Cardassian more closure, and the chance to just once more have his wishes followed through on.  I think Dukat initially was going to try and summon a medic, but the soldier did not want his fellows risking themselves trying to bring his body back.  (Cardassians are just as big on "leave no one behind" as humans are, in my writing.)  That's why instead, he had Dukat take his weapon: he died defending Dukat, so this act is his last way of providing for him.

The Kurabda are somewhat like the Bedouin, yes...however, I think their long centuries--perhaps milennia--of Oralian belief makes them different culturally.  Sometimes I think Bedouin when I write them, other times, Amish (though obviously minus the pacifism).

Reviewer: PSGarak Signed [Report This]
Date: 06 Oct 2009 06:23 Title: Part I: Dreams

I'm glad I finally got caught up and could read this. Really touching and chilling at the same time. I very much felt for the plight of the students and of Dukat. Knowing what is to come made it all the more poignant. I also have to say that having a bipolar cousin, as we've talked about a bit, gave me a deep appreciation for the ordeal Dukat went through at the onset of his illness. I appreciate the sensitive way in which you handled the theme, and the accuracy, both of his reactions and the family. Very well done.

Author's Response:

Thank you very much for your review. :-)

I am particularly gratified to know that you felt I was able to write Dukat's ordeal in a realistic manner.  Our discussion most certainly helped my focus and I appreciate your willingness to speak about what you witnessed.

Reviewer: Miranda Fave Signed [Report This]
Date: 05 Sep 2009 11:03 Title: Part I: Dreams

Thoughtful, powerful, thought provoking and beautiful.

I'd love to leave a more detailed review and I might come back to do so but to say much more than that is superfluous to what I want or really need to say.

Author's Response:

Thank you so much for reading. :-)

Reviewer: Gibraltar Signed [Report This]
Date: 05 Sep 2009 01:02 Title: Part I: Dreams

This is a deeply powerful story, as much about faith as it is about the fear of the unknown in the face of impending disaster.  I very much like this AU Dukat, and discovering that he (and likely his 'evil' twin in the Trek-verse) suffer from bi-polar disorder helps me understand the motivations and challenges of both men.

And, knowing as the readers do that for this Dukat the worst is yet to come, only makes it that much more poignant.  It's obvious that Skrain takes the faith and strength of those who have surrounded him in his youth and uses it to gird his soul in the challenges to come.

Very, very well done.

Author's Response:

Thank you for reading--and thank you for getting me to sit down and WRITE it! :-)

To me, yes...both Dukats suffer bipolar disorder.  I think this may help to explain why the breakdown in "Sacrifice of Angels" and "Waltz" got so severe--delusions are actually something that can happen during the manic phase. 

Now the funny thing is this...what about the treatment the canon Dukat got?  Something tells me he never FACED himself the way AU Dukat did.  Most likely, I think the state monitored everyone and when Dukat showed the very first signs of illness, someone at the Obsidian Order twigged onto it and perhaps forced Dukat on meds or something.  And PSGarak even raised the disturbing possibility that perhaps the meds he was on were intended only to treat the depressive phase!  Given that we've seen the Cardassians experiment with psychotropic drugs, this isn't out of the realm of possibility. 

(Though personally I think canon Dukat WAS treated for all of it, but you can bet the whole atmosphere of whatever treatment he received besides the pharmaceutical was very different indeed.)

I will admit I think that 24th-century meds are quite a bit better than the ones in use on 21st-century Earth...fewer side effects, greater efficacy--and yet it's still no walk in the park.  In AU Dukat's world, it's seen as a triple issue--one where you have to treat body, mind, AND spirit for someone to really have the fullest quality of life that they can have.

These experiences...and the warmth that people around him have been able to share--his parents, Ihanok, Derava, and I think even Osenal now--are indeed very important for later on.  And I think his abiilty to survive this challenge and become stronger for it is SO critical to how he survives his horrific ordeal at Vedek Tora's hands almost 40 years later.

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