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Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 23 Sep 2011 01:36 Title: Chapter 13

Mistra seems to be a good teacher...she knows how to make the kids think through Seppa's absence and realize for themselves that it's wrong.

It's interesting to see that there was no law against third-caste women learning even though there must be a law that says what the castes are and imposes all sorts of awful restrictions on them (like third-caste women needing a male escort).  That actually gives me some hope.  First they may be able to push the envelope with what's actually permissible by the existing laws and then beginning to push beyond them.

I wonder how Vidam feels about knowing his father is a cold-blooded killer and a liar.  It does seem like he was having some trouble coming out from under Arnis' shadow at first, but his behavior almost reminded me of someone who has been abused.  Obviously killing "Inta Senior" and her baby was abuse in the worst way, but that behavior made me wonder if Vidam had been abused or witnessed othe abuse.

I hate to say this, but I hope Arnis never comes home.  The retribution he might exact on his family if allowed out would be horrible, and people as famous as this family could never be put into witness protection. :-(

Dratha and Vidam seem like they're going to do well with the responsibilities of running the household.  That was particularly touching seeing Vidam make sure to keep Seppa with her blanket.

The emergence of "Little Inta" was ADORABLE.  I think that's really amazing for the children to be able to witness that part of the birthing process. :-)  Something tells me there are going to be a lot of "little Intas" in her generation running around if she's ever allowed to go to "big school"!  But even "just" the power to read and write will be powerful; there's a reason that was kept from slaves.

While it's very, very sad that they still see no alternative to selling the daughters in their family, it does make me think there's some hope if they really believe there are nice men out there who would be worthy of their sisters.  And if they think physical and mental health and well-being is the primary concern.  I wonder if there are men on Daranaea who actually care about making their wives happy.  If so, that would also help things to get better.  Such men might even wise up and realize the women they love are not things to be bought and paid for.

I won't say it in case you feel it would unduly influence your writing, but I think what Trinning said could lead to some sweeping changes in Daranaean traditions.

Overall, good story.  I was so glad to see this happen. :-)

Author's Response:

Thank you very much! :)

I have thought about Trinning a lot lately (and I have a role for him, and for Vidam). I think Vidam is something of an abuse victim/witnessed things that bothered him but he was unsure of what to say and/or did not realize they might be wrong. One thing that a lot of abusers do is isolate their victims, making them feel that there is no other way for life to be. And so Vidam sees, by watching the humans, by seeing the people in the streets - there's something else out there.

He is still really young (he's about 15 - and I haven't quite decided whether they count age from date of birth or date of pouch emergence yet). So he's going to lean on Dratha a lot - the power behind the throne, as it were. Dratha is, in part, based on an aunt of mine, who married a wealthy man. This aunt is over 80 and is still formidable. Don't mess with L__! She is also (like Dratha) a loving mother and cares about what's right.

And thank you re the emergence! I just loved writing that, trying to figure out what it would be like. I picture someone like that as being a little like a newborn, a little like a baby at the stage of sitting up. Not super-helpless but also surprised that there are SO MANY people in the world. The tops the women wear (I wish I could draw!) are kind of like drapey cardigans, where they've got loose ends at the bottom. You tie them up after a pouchling is born so that the pouchling can get enough air and then, when it's time for emergence, the pouchling grabs the tied ends to get leverage.

I've written the traditional emergence ritual too - much more of a continuation of the denigration. Ah, I really need to write a guide to Daranaeans and put that somewhere. :)

Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 23 Sep 2011 01:06 Title: Chapter 12

Of course, we know that the UN Declaration is pretty much lip service.  The Federation is going to have to decide--and sometimes later in the show I think they decided wrongly--whether or not they will be friends with rights violators.  I'd say by TNG they made a big noise about it but their treaty with the Klingons and trading their worlds to the Cardassians (among other things) proved they were full of crap.  But I have a feeling there was an idealistic, well-meaning beginning, and this seems like a credible way that could've happened.

I'm really glad Lucy and Andrew decided to keep the baby and give her a chance to grow up, have dreams, and follow them.

Oh, and did we ever prove that the virus was real and that they were genuinely pursuing treatment and not (for instance) using it to keep their population from growing unsustainably?

And I'm so glad Malcolm will get a command. :-)

Author's Response:

All will be revealed ... :)

I suspect you looked at my responses to Rejal's lovely reviews. I am planning at least 2 sequels (I've got marsupial wolves on the brain, it would seem).  You'll see these people again (older, of course). Some time definitely needs to pass. I also had a random idea for what may turn out to kind of be a holiday one-off but I'll save it for December.

I agree that the declaration does not mean much now. I think when Eleanor Roosevelt and friends thought it up, they wanted it to mean a lot more than it has. I would like to think that, at least in the beginning, the Federation would want to mainly make friends with peoples with similar values or at least not support obvious injustices. Plus I would hope that they would permit even their big-time officers/reps a chance to speak their minds in such matters. I don't want to see Archer, etc. lose their jobs over wanting to speak out. As I think it's Gardner says - how are they supposed to be able to sleep at night otherwise?

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 22 Sep 2011 13:30 Title: Chapter 13

The boys clearly understood that something is wrong with the society, since they started to change it--for now it's a change in their own home, but isn't that the best place to start: from oneself? Those are small steps, but they are important. They still thinking of selling the girl, but they started to care about their future and lives. Hopefully, some day they would see that selling isn't the only option and change also that.

A great tragedy had to touch this family, but at least Inta's death forced people to think. To care. And not let one male ruin lives of two females--his wife's and his daughter's.

I think that this is just the beginning, because the change came from the Daranaeans themselves. It's not that they saw the Federation female captain and decided to follow her. That might have gotten them thinking and wondering, but the main reason is that they realised that something is wrong with how they treat other people. And this is a good thing, because the incentive to change wouldn't evaporate with the aliens' leaving. It would stay and with time it should bore fruit.

A good story with a very touching ending. I can't help but wonder what would Inta be like in the future. Would she become a Daranaean suffragette? As for now: she's the cutest infant I've seen ;)

Author's Response:

I just love that little face. There are more flying fox pictures - I'll probably grab a few for future stories (yes, plural - they have a lotta growing to do).

And, yes, it's meant to be a start. A bit of how they speak to each other is changing. The way they are teaching is changing. The attitude they have toward finding a mate for the lowest caste is changing.

No spoilers but the boys are going to be seen later ... :)

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 21 Sep 2011 14:52 Title: Chapter 12

Sounds like Cama had suspected that she could be and do so much more and she sought confirmation. She got it and I think it's good it came from a man. With her conditioning and culture, this must mean more than if it came from a woman, regardless how inappropriate it is. Some things need time to change...but they seem to see that there is a way.

Not only big progress is made, but also small steps: for Hamilton, his family and his partner.

It would appear that the young Federation also is trying to learn something from that experience. They can see that some rules and requirements have to be met for everyone to feel comfortable and accepting something that doesn't agree with their conscience would not be the best idea.

Author's Response:

I wanted it to be, for the humans (and Phlox) about being able to sleep at night. You see something horrible happening. Do you just accept it, or do you speak out? I think that nodding and smiling and telling the Daranaeans that everything was hunky dory was not going to cut it for our people. After all, An pretty much did that the first time around, and he spent a few years torturing himself with guilt. They put their jobs on the line - and then Jonathan said, Blame me if you have to blame someone. And of course they couldn't; he's too valuable to lose. But they made a stand that they felt they had to do.

I agree, I think Cama's confirmation was more effective coming from a male. But she has finally heard from someone who has told her - you can do this. You are capable. She probably hasn't been told anything like that in her life before.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 21 Sep 2011 01:43 Title: Chapter 11

I about hurled when the reporter started drooling about Dratha's smell on camera.  God, that was disgusting.  He might as well start describing her nether regions on the air, because you know that's intended to titillate the audience.  I hope that guy eventually gets fired for the Wolf-Whistle Heard Round the World...

...speaking of which, I think Trip should have to face a further lecture for the inappropriate remark he made on the bridge in front of his female co-workers.  I wouldn't put him on report, since I'm not sure Trip was really thinking about the implications of what he was saying, but I think the captain should take him into his office and make it clear that is not acceptable behavior for a Starfleet officer or a member of his crew.  (Perhaps Hoshi should tell Archer that she felt Trip was tactless.  Not phrase it as though it were overt sexual harassment, but that might get Archer to realize he needs to set Trip straight.)  I just don't think that quick "This is serious" rebuke will be enough to get the point across that the comment wasn't just situationally inappropriate.

The way people in the courtroom talk about Dratha reminds me of the crass behavior that female politicians, and first ladies, are subjected to.  People like Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, sad to say, remain at a deficit because of the horrible treatment in politics of women.  Their looks, their clothes, and how "feminine" or "masculine" they are are all subjects of ridicule.  Hillary Clinton gets talked about as too masculine and Sarah Palin gets called a slutty stewardess.  I'm sure these Daranaean reporters would do the exact same thing.

As for Dratha...oh, I LOVED her "you couldn't afford me" putdown!!  But the best thing she did was call them out on not even giving Inta's name even though she too is a victim. I suppose the only penalty one could have to pay for killing a woman would be a civil penalty to reimburse the woman's father for (possible) terms of a sale agreement?  (Insert eyeroll here.)

Trinning was really wonderful, by letting the people around him know just how much he appreciated all the things Inta did for him.  And then properly referring to his mother as his MOTHER.

Vidam was really, really brave here.  He probably just got his own father executed, or at the least, publicly disgraced (somehow I suspect Arnis will not get the full sentence he deserves).  I suppose by now he must be thoroughly convinced that his father is a murderer and a danger to everyone around him.  A threat to be put down, unfortunately. :-(

And now Arnis decides if he's going down, he's going to take Rechal down with him.  Not that Rechal doesn't thoroughly deserve getting stabbed in the back!  My goodness, but Rechal reminds me of Crell Moset in his "science above all" protest.  I wonder if he was one of those who bought third-caste women for experiments.  That said, I almost thought he might be sincere with Mistra.

I loved the ending!  The only thing I noticed in it that jarred me a bit is that you broke tense when you said "how a Prime Wife in labor is carried to a doctor's office."  Generally that would be "was," to match the rest of your narration.

What has been accomplished in that trial is all thanks to the courage of Dratha and Vidam.  It is in spite of the Federation.  I would not be surprised for there to be consequences, such as not getting the treaty they want.  The worst consequence would be for this trial to be declared a mistrial due to the human interference, which could have disastrous consequences.

Author's Response:

I wanted it to be a somewhat freewheeling mixed bag, which I suppose is how it ended up. Dratha - don't mess with Dratha! - telling them that they couldn't possible afford her, the drooling press (although they're helpful, certainly - they are the only way, really, that the humans know any of this is happening). As you might imagine, I am of two minds when it comes to the press. It's Peter Zenger and Edward R. Murrow combined with the latest breathless nonsense about Paris Hilton. The people in the audience are wondering what really happened but, at the same time, nattering on about how stylish Dratha wears her whiskers. I didn't even think of Palin/Clinton but, yes, that makes sense.

I agree with you that the only penalty for killing Inta will probably be in the form of $$ for the loss of property (in the US, usually civil lawsuits for the death of a pet come down to monetary value, versus emotional loss, or at least that was the case when I was in Law School).

Trinning and Vidam, in a lot of ways, come through as some of the bigger heroes of the piece, showing that there is a new generation that doesn't think this way. They are also learning to say sister instead of half-sister, and things like that.  Mistra didn't give birth to Vidam, but she is still his "secondary mother". Dratha didn't give birth to Trinning, but he is still, in a lot of ways, her son. I wanted Rechal to be at least a little repentant - he's screwed up royally but their people are still suffering. I think this saves his skin. Arnis is not necessarily so lucky.

I put in the is (versus the was) in the last paragraph, I guess it was a bit of breaking narration, to convey that Arnis is - horror of horrors! - because treated not only like a woman,  but like one somewhat helpless and in labor.

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 20 Sep 2011 14:29 Title: Chapter 11

Oh, goody, the name of the victim is unimportant. Oops, seems like I forgot that Inta isn't considered a victim...again. I think I need to write that info somewhere not to keep forgetting.

The crowd starts to think...A rare thing, since usually crowds are thoughtless, following some vague ideas and God forbid them losing control. This crowd seems to be on "our" side, but for how long? It could turn into a violent and thoughtless mob any minute.

Vidam is a brave boy. Now consequences will follow and I must say that Arnis behaves like a total... Not only he tries to justify it, but also drags the doctor with him. Not that I believe Rechal shouldn't pay for his being an accomplice--he should!--but Arnis is just...I didn't feel any pity for him when he was carried out. He deserved that and more!

Rechal is guilty and he knows it, but at least he doesn't think about himself when he realises that there is no escape from the consequences. I was quite surprised to see that he even apologised.

Author's Response:

I wanted Rechal to have had essentially noble motives but very poor execution (er, sorry, Arnis ...). E. g. Rechal means well, and he does want to find a cure, but he goes about it all the wrong way. I thought of him like, what would happen if some major hospital, or research on some horrible disease, say, HIV or lung cancer, received $$ from the Mafia? It's blood money, but you can save lives with it. The disease victims probably aren't going to care where the $$ came from for their medicines. Should they?

Oh, and Arnis's comeuppance - I cannot tell you what a joy it was to write that paragraph!

And the others, Elemus in particular, he was pretty horrible in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, but here, he is perhaps the lesser of the evils but he knows not to go so far as slaying an uncooperative wife. Since he says that is not their way, then there's hope - they don't find people quite as disposable as we had feared.

Dratha the trendsetter may very well change more minds than anyone else does. The people watching on the viewer have just seen her sass a bunch of judges, and stand up for someone who they've all been conditioned to feel is beneath her, and even admit to swaddling a last caste woman's children, and loving and caring for them as if they were her own. Maybe some more will follow her fashion - even if the motivation is wrong, if the children are loved, is it all right?

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 19 Sep 2011 16:53 Title: Chapter 10 noble as their intentions were, I find myself thinking that display is going to backfire severely.  That was truly rude of them to intrude upon the court proceedings in that way.  Even going on the news with a press conferences and whipping up, say, a general strike would've been a far better move than something that comes off as disrespect of the legal system.

Granted, I do not see a legal system there that deserves much more respect than a Cardassian tribunal.  But to the Daranaeans, that's how this is going to look--that these aliens came in and...pardon my language...shat all over their customs and values.

If your Daranaeans had the equivalent of an amicus brief, which means you do not have to be a party to the alleged crime but you have a vested interest--which the Federation does here--then I would say your Starfleet officers should have submitted an amicus brief.  And then gone the "press conference outside" route.  As free as the Daranaean media appears to be, the news stations would've fallen all over themselves to get rights to the "barefaced humans'" press conference.

Then again, maybe we're seeing how the patronizing part of the Federation got started.

I'd be shocked if they don't get kicked off the planet for their behavior.  Which is a shame given their very noble intentions...though that's what the path to hell is paved with.

Author's Response:

I think it's a case of (which Phlox was actually afraid of), saying and doing things that would make themselves feel better but without actually doing much to help. There's also the emergency nature of it, but of course they were not going to execute Mistra and the pouchling on that particular day, regardless of the outcome.

You're right that it's patronizing, and it's done with very little finesse. Here's a stumbling part of the Federation. You're right; they mean well. But they're not necessarily helping anyone.

But - next chapter - something a lot more legal will be done. And without outside interference ....

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 19 Sep 2011 15:13 Title: Chapter 10

Hmm, I wonder what the judges are going to say about that. I hope they aren't going to think that the Federation people are patronising them, because the effect could be completely opposite from the intended.

Author's Response:

In real life (at least in the US), it would really never be allowed.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 18 Sep 2011 16:42 Title: Chapter 9

Whoa...I would NEVER have expected Thessa, of all people, to be willing to take a stand! 

And what's also very promising for the Daranaeans is that there are also men who are going into the streets.  Not because of what some of the Daranaeans think--that men legitimize this--but because in order for this to work, society can't fall into an us-versus-them thing where it's automatically assumed that men must be evil.  Discrimination of a different type (I don't say "reverse discrimination" because that choice of words implies that "real" and "important" discrimination only goes one way) is no proper substitute for the discrimination we see going on.

(Oh, and I have to add...I bet you some of those men, by taking a stand, are going to end up being the first with REAL, EQUAL marriages.  I know if I were in that society, my estimate of my husband would be raised considerably by seeing clear, demonstrable proof that he saw more than just property when looking at a woman.)

Libba's son is interesting...could it be that because his mother is not of the "most favored" caste, that he's more sensitive to the plight of women who aren't Prime Wives?

And of course what Vidam and Dratha are about to do is very, very brave.  I hope, though, that a boy's word (not a full-grown man's) will be considered enough to get Dratha's testimony admitted.  It could actually be to Dratha's advantage if society assumes (that is, lies to itself) that a woman couldn't influence even a male child to think something.  If "loyalty to one's mother" is taken out of the equation, that could make Vidam's testimony VERY strong.

I just hope that Arnis won't feel a need to kill Dratha or his son. :-(

Author's Response:

Libba's son, do you mean Trinning? He's Mistra's own. I woke up this morning suddenly realizing I could write a sequel to this (gahhh the Daranaeans will be with me forever! Actually, that's not a bad thing - I kinda like the sentient marsupial doggies) - and he will have a role there. I had written this part before; it's not really related to the proposed sequel, but Trinning, well, he's a clever guy, too (earlier in the story Mistra says how proud they are of all of the children).

It's very, sketchy right now, but I've had such fun writing this, why stop? :)

For Thessa, she's seeing just how illogical the whole thing is. She just puts it together - Mistra is pregnant, she's pouch feeding AND she kills a full-grown female with one strike? Something's wrong with this picture.

I wanted the men to be there, for exactly the reason you indicated, so that it's not us versus them. I did not want this to turn into a war between the sexes.

For Dratha and Vidam, it was not that long ago that spouses here in the US could not testify against each other; there needed to be independent confirmation, I believe that was in all instances save divorces. Things have changed, eh?

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 18 Sep 2011 13:34 Title: Chapter 9

Vessel? Vessel?! Grrr...Of course, stupid me had forgotten that Mistra is not guilty of killing a woman, but an unborn boy.

Vidam is brave. I'm not sure if he, as a boy, could get into trouble, but I guess it's not customary to oppose the head of the family.

I am quite surprised--positively--by people demanding a fair trial for Mistra. Seems like not the whole society is all that happy with the current status, especially if males participate in this small "riot." Seems like a good and fertile ground to start a revolution :)

Author's Response:

It is, as we say - the turning point. And it's also, they are realizing, if we just sit here and wring our hands, nothing will ever change.

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 18 Sep 2011 01:36 Title: Chapter 8

I think Malcolm goes a little too far. I mean I completely agree with his feelings and how appalled he is by the cultural situation of the Daranaean women, but resigning from Starfleet? It's not that the Daranaeans are being accepted to the Federation right now and the Federation shows that their political and strategic interests are more important than people's lives. His protest would not mean that much, because not much is happening so far; they are in the middle of a very initial contact.

If things goes as far as to accept the Daranaeans without first imposing reform on them, then his protest would have more weight and be more noticeable. But right now it seems like he's trying to run complaining without an attempt to do something about the problem. His wife is right, he should try to act first and it that fails, voice his criticism of the Federation decisions and the Daranaean injustice.

I'm also quite surprised that Phlox looks for some confirmation if he should try to do something. Even if his wouldn't be able to really bring any change, he should at least try. Even a failed attempt is better than lack of attempt; he would at least know that he voiced his opinion and not just wonder "what if I said anything."

Erika and An ask good questions: if the Federation leaves due to treatment of females, should they abandon those females to their fate and not help them? Wouldn't that be as bad as accepting the Daranaeans as they are now?

And finally Mistra talking to her daughter. Not only a touching scene, but also she seems not to be a biased one. She tells her girl that Inta was important, although it might sound better without "even" and with "also." Still, it's good to see that someone thinks a bit differently and doesn't consider them disposable.

Author's Response:

I wanted them to all have rather mixed, not quite settled, feelings about what was happening. Malcolm is also something of an all or nothing guy, feeling that that might be the only way to really get Starfleet and the Federation to sit up and take notice (this is also very early in history - a guy with Malcolm's credentials is rare; they are definitely not going to want him to go).

Phlox's viewpoint, I wanted it to be, if I protest and call the Daranaeans out, who does that really help? Or am I simply making myself feel better without doing a damned thing?

Mistra and the pouchling - there is a lot of conditioning (in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, even Libba dismisses Cama a bit as being inexpensive and perhaps unworthy of talking to) that they are better than the last caste, so for Mistra to say that Inta was a good, worthwhile person is a pretty radical statement.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 17 Sep 2011 17:36 Title: Chapter 8 think Arnis could just go out and buy new wives that's not surprising, technically, but it really drives home how awful the Daranaeans really are.

As for Lucy and Andrew...I can't say I feel any sympathy for them, if we're supposed to see the baby as an imposition on Lucy's body or a parasite, in some sort of contrast to the Daranaeans.  A child isn't an inconvenience and should not be casually thrown away the way the Daranaeans casually throw away their women.  I would not say this couple had no choice either...they freely chose to have relations and freely chose, apparently, not to use birth control (something that I totally agree is a very important and powerful invention exactly because it does give couples options).

(That reminds me...I would have to look it up, but I saw a really amazing story on this archive that showed how transporters and artificial wombs might be used to make abortion obsolete by the 23rd century.)

One person who is surprising me again here...Phlox.  I didn't think he was even capable of having moral qualms about something like this; I'd always seen him as not that far from his Mirror Universe counterpart.  I had also never seen him as someone who would ever ask a human for advice; he'd always struck me as someone who talked down to humans not that much differently than T'Pol.

As for gay Darnaaeans...I suspect they are closeted too.  Unfortunately, that happens to my canon-universe Cardassians, I think.  I don't think they draw a distinction between "gay" and "infertile"--to them it's the same thing.  So I would not be surprised.

Overall, though, I'm glad to see a consensus developing among the crew that something needs to be done.  (Something that I think will really be lost in the Federation by the 24th century.)

Author's Response:

Well - one thing I wanted for Lucy and Andrew was for them to be talking not only about the possibility of choice but also that he defers to her because it's her body. Perhaps he's a bit passive but he does essentially come out with - I'll abide by what you want to do because you're the one with a lot more at stake. It's respect for her as a female (albeit they both messed up pretty royally) and not just him stamping his foot and telling her to do whatever he tells her to. Plus there are consequences - Daranaeans aren't the only ones with consequences.

Phlox has written to Jeremy before (Jeremy is canon) and so I wanted him to have a conscience about it but also to wonder whether it would do any good, or if it would just be a feel-good thing for him, with no positive outcome for the people it's supposed to help the most.

Yeah - Hamilton - I wanted there to be a mentioning of gay Daranaeans (and a contrast to Thessa saying before that they all marry) as, again, a feeling that the species as a whole see so many things as being all or nothing, black or white.

But yes, they are beginning to come together as a whole and see - these are not just their personal feelings, that there is a consensus. And if there is a consensus among only 7 people, what'll it be like for others who encounter this species, if things remain at the status quo?

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 17 Sep 2011 17:19 Title: Chapter 7

I have to give the Daranaeans one thing: awful as they are, they are surprisingly capable of being team players in this battle.  I would never have expected that, to be honest.  But I guess that proves that if they can learn to treat women appropriately, that there might be something worthwhile about them, that would eventually be worthy of being a Federation ally or even member.  (Unlike some fans I am not fixated on every ally having to be a member; either option would work.)

As for Vidam...he's proven here that he does have a conscience and a sense of justice.  I did not expect him to show respect to his mother, though, given that she is a woman and he seemed as though he'd already been thoroughly corrupted by Arnis.  Are Daranaean boys obligated to obey the women in their lives until they reach a certain age?  (Does the age differ depending on the woman's caste?)  Do adult Daranaean men love or care about their mothers?  Or does that depend on caste?

I am getting more impressed by Dratha.  She doesn't seem like the self-centered, manipulative bitch Thessa was.  I'd say she has a stronger sense of right and wrong, and given that Vidam certainly wouldn't have gotten that from Arnis, I would say that Vidam's sense that this was wrong must have come from his mother.

One thing I might mention...sometimes you name battles in Earth history and I feel a bit like Acreon trying to figure them out.  I do know about strategies and such, but tend not to connect the names to it.  So all I get is a "huh?" reaction, not foreshadowing.  Oh well, I guess it's my fault for not knowing. ;-)

Author's Response:

I didn't know the battle, either. I ended up looking up pincer formation battle, and Cowpens came up as a classic when it came to strategies (the pincer formation is mentioned earlier as a fear that the humans have, that the Romulans and the Klingons would eventually do that to Earth, e. g. squeeze us from both sides).  What I also loved about it was that it was a decisive (for the Americans) Revolutionary War battle, and Malcolm is British, so for him to suggest it means that he admires the strategy without caring whether it was that his side was on the losing end of things.

What I also wanted with the battle was, not only are the Daranaeans team players (their behavior is intended to be a tech-space version of how a wolf pack takes down a kill, or a Border Collie herds sheep), but they have fought and died with us - thereby making this even more of a sticky wicket. Plus Acreon is a war hero and, much like smaller dogs often are, is more than willing to challenge the big boys.

I think Vidam has a good sense of justice, and Dratha is, well, you'll see. ;)

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 16 Sep 2011 14:44 Title: Chapter 7

So, we have a witness. A male witness. A too-young witness. But I'm glad than neither the bo nor his mother want to leave it like this and consider doing something about the injustice. There is hope for this society.

Another heartwrenching scene with Mistra. You also introduce her pouchling to us, making it even more difficult about her fate. It's not just some faceless, nameless being anymore; it's a baby with big eyes and a strong grip.

Interesting that the Federation has cloaking devices, while in Kirk times they were surprised that the Romulan ship was equipped with such a thing. ENT messed up too much with TOS timeline ;)

Author's Response:

The grip is - I'm sure you've done this with human newborns, where they grab your fingers. Similar idea. Of course, we know this is a person, someone who is worthwhile and God knows this is no accomplice.

The cloaks - yeah, ENT is ... interesting. There is some treaty (the name escapes me) where cloaks were not allowed for a while. The way I am envisioning them is they are imperfect (all sorts of restrictions - in the topic Let's Build a Ship I put together the specs for the DC class ships). And also something put aside. Almost, in a roundabout way, like poison gas warfare in WWI. It was allowed, and it was awful and after the war there's a treaty outlawing it internationally. So cloaks are probably going to go away but it's only 2165 so they're not gone yet.

And Vidam - he is important.

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 16 Sep 2011 14:19 Title: Chapter 6

Oh, no! First I was served with this adorable custom of celebrating pregnancy and birth and then the same custom was thrown at me with sadness of a lone mother, who will not even have a chance to perform the celebration with other women from her family. That's so, so sad :(

I don't fully understand why they are not permitted to live long, either.

Okay, now I can see that the journalists are nosy to a point of being rude. I feel for An--questions "why aren't you married yet?" are horribly annoying. No surprise he ran and his between the ladies.

I wonder what's with that nuclear fission... (Not fishing for spoilers, just thinking aloud ;)).

Author's Response:

The press is annoying, to be sure (they're meant to be). But they are also rather necessary, for otherwise Hoshi and Travis wouldn't know what was happening ....

Reviewer: RobertScorpio Signed Liked [Report This]
Date: 16 Sep 2011 13:17 Title: Chapter 1

Very well written...kind of difficult to read at times. And sad to say that there are many similarities with real life civilizations here on Earth...well done

Author's Response:

Thank you - I am here to make you uncomfortable.

Wait - that doesn't sound right.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 16 Sep 2011 00:55 Title: Chapter 6

Oh, man...that was absolutely heartbreaking to hear Mistra talking to her pouchling and trying to let her know just once that she has her mother's love.  I feel horrible for them.  And even though he'd live, I would also feel bad for the boy, too, losing a woman who is a part of him and who obviously would give him the best example possible, to make him into a better man than those around him.

The way Mistra described Heaven was also very poignant.  I don't know if you've read any of Diane Duane's works, but she hinted at the possibility that aliens whose primary senses were something other than sight would associate something other than the usual "white light" with Heaven.

It's even more poignant in comparison with Cama and Libba's reaction to the revelation that Lucy is carrying a girl.  I actually expected there to be a mourning ceremony of sorts given the horrible lives girls lead on Daranaea.  But I suppose the women conduct this ritual away from any men who might ruin it?

That said, I suspect the reactions we saw were happier than normal, because I think Cama and Libba can tell that having a girl is a cause for far more celebration on Earth, and that a girl child has a chance at everything girls don't get on Daranaea.  She can be the captain of a ship someday, or President of the Federation!

About that plant...if Daranaea could ever change into a world worthy of interacting and trading with--as in, not repressing its women--I suspect they could make good money exporting it to the Federation (since I suspect using it for gender selection would be illegal).  I had not quite believed the idea of that kind of pregnancy detector, but I have heard rumors that here in this world it will soon be possible to use a blood test instead of the usual types of tests.

And hearing about the way Cama is shut in the reminds me of what some extremists still do to this day on Earth. :-(

Author's Response:

Yes - the first two rituals are just for females. Don't know if you recall in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, but Elemus says that he doesn't need to see the pouchling; that there's nothing to see until emergence. So the first two pieces of it are only for the women.

It's a useful plant, Krivian weed, eh?

And Cama, it is like today, also like ancient Rome, where matrons were not allowed out without a male escort.

Reviewer: Miranda Fave Signed [Report This]
Date: 15 Sep 2011 22:28 Title: Chapter 3

I like that you try to give a greater depth to the complexity and depravity of the culture. My priciest one. How romantic?! Again, it proves to be an interesting set up here and we start to see how it is beginning to trouble the Starfleeters ahead of meeting the people of this culture. And interesting to see the different reactions from different people. Reed trying to be professional and cool, Erika troubled and An even more so with added guilt about their last contact, then we have Lucy who is troubled by the mission but uses it as a moment to reach out to Ben and how good he is about raising Gina. Meantime we see a few ripples back on the planet about the set up to cover the husband. Hmm... how will things pan out?

Author's Response:

Yes - glad you liked the "my priciest one" line. Hey, when you only have a hammer, every problem is a nail, and when all you see are dollar (er, Stond) signs, then every value is a financial one.

I love coverups. I've often wondered (and may write about this someday) what would have happened if First Contact occurred during the height of Watergate.

Reviewer: Miranda Fave Signed [Report This]
Date: 15 Sep 2011 21:38 Title: Chapter 2

Nicely, or not so nice as the case is, complicating matters here Jespah. From the outset the Federation knows that it is not a sweet setting here they are headed towards. However, there seems to have been little objection to the continuation of the mission. It will remain to be seen how Archer and Reed especially react to what they find amid a potential scandal or mere distraction on the planet and how things shake down. Erika and An have previous experience that colours their judgement so I wonder how they will proceed going in to the situation. An interesting set up and dilemma. Good stuff.

Author's Response:

Thank you - the idea is, definitely - despite how the Daranaeans tend to see everything - life ain't just black and white.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 15 Sep 2011 04:09 Title: Chapter 5

Holy crap...the lowest caste are given away for medical experiments.  Holy crap.  That is just...damn.  That's sick.

One thing that surprises me...the fact that this journalist is actually entertaining the possibility that Mistra is telling the truth.  I wonder if it's because he thinks it's good for ratings (the idea that the Alpha is sitting on top of a big, ugly scandal), or because he's a Daranaean liberal?  Personally I suspect #1.

And "democracy."  Excuse me while I go laugh until my ass falls off.  That's as laughable as calling the Confederate States of America a democracy.

As for Phlox, I still don't like him, but I am surprised he actually described Denobulan culture.  As big of a stickler as he is for non-interference, did he not think through the bombshell implications of describing a more morally-acceptable form of polygamy?

Now you know what would be ironic?  What if the males had scents too?  I bet you they could be ranked by scent.  Oh, how they would "love" the shoe being on the other foot.  I'd just love to see someone tell Arnis or Elemus that they smelled like bottom-feeders. :evil grin:

Author's Response:

Y'know, I hadn't thought of that but of course they've got scents (these are sentient dogs, more or less, after all). It would be good if you could tell maternal parentage that way ....

As for their "democracy", I see them thinking of it much like the ancient Greeks did. You had to be a male (and I believe a landowner as well) in order to be able to vote. So much for democracy but, at the time, it was an exceptionally liberal thing.

And the press - I think it's a bit of both, as in, this is good for ratings but also, hmm, something doesn't (kindly forgive my pun) smell right here.

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 14 Sep 2011 13:14 Title: Chapter 5

They are pride of their...what? Democracy? Male-o-cracy, I'd say.

I can see that Daranaeans are very interested in families and they ask questions about wifes and children. I wonder if it's their equivalent of chatting about weather in some Earth cultures; a safe subject that shouldn't offend anyone (at least from a Daranaean point of view).

It's good to know that the Feds know about the mess around the murder and the accussed insistance that she is innocent. I do hope that they will at least be nosy enough to ask questions and discover that something is wrong, because it doesn't seem that Mistra has any chances without help from outsiders.

That's an interesting detail about the smell. Is this regulated by their lifestyle (for example, the lower cast eating the worst food, so not smelling well enough), or is it some biological/genetical factor?

I there anything "good" about Daranaeans, or is all of their culture that shocking?

Looking forward to more.

Signed: Barefaced Pinkskin LOL

Author's Response:

Ha! Yesssss! You caught the Andorian Shran-type reference. It's casual racism, they don't even know they're saying it. And with the Daranaeans, it's casual sexism. And it's prying - the people and the press. It's a bit, I suppose, like being a Kardashian. Everyone is interested in your most intimate secrets, the juicier the better. One of my fave exchanges (can I say that, or is that arrogant?) is

  • Do you have any children?
  • Five.
  • How many are males?

It's just - we only care about the boys.

I'm not sure why the smells differ, but I suspect it's an environmental factor, as all three castes can readily breed with the males. The scent thing is, of course, very, very doggy. My understanding is that dogs can smell so many things, and in such detail, it's like our vision. Imagine a world where even the faintest of aromas - like the cologne worn by the guy in the next apartment who hasn't reapplied it in 24 hours - registers.

Things are not as they seem, of course (they never are ;)). Nothing is ever wholly negative ....

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 14 Sep 2011 03:41 Title: Chapter 4 the virus is real, according to Arnis.  That said, I have my doubts and suspicions about the veracity of his claim that it's killing faster than they can replace their population.  Or whether it's something that they really want to cure.  I have some theories on why they would not want to cure the virus, or might even want to harness it for certain purposes.  We've just seen proof that fathers sell their own daughters.  And if they really need all hands on deck, so to speak, they wouldn't execute a pouchling.

As for Phlox--I saw Gul Rejal comment about how he was able to sit there and not react, but really, when has Phlox ever been known for compassion?  For a doctor, he's a cold man, and not one I would want to ever be treated by.  Yes, he could be cheerful at times, but often at all the wrong times and unaffected by suffering.

Now I just had a really awful thought.

Is Cria pregnant?

I don't even want to say aloud what scenario I am afraid of.

And how horrible for Mistra that they would dare execute not just her but her pouchling.  That truly is extreme.  I think there are cases where witnesses should bear the same burden as the people who committed an act (just look at people who film assaults and post it on YouTube, and bystanders who refuse to help), but within reason.  There is nothing reasonable whatsoever about this law.

Author's Response:

It's very much the black and white vision thing at work. As I continued to write this, I kept thinking of dogs, and everything we know about them (or think we know about them. The truth is that they do see color but not as well as we do). It's a single-minded, driving purpose. If you have ever seen a Border Collie with sheep, you'll know what I mean. The focus can be really intense, to the exclusion of absolutely everything else.

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 13 Sep 2011 13:11 Title: Chapter 4

I wonder...with their wolf-like look, how do humans tell apart males and female at the first glance? Is there something that makes the difference clear?

An isn't happy to be among the aliens again, so it seems. I can't say I blame him. He wanted to help them, but was unable and he probably feared what he would see. And he can see that nothing changed for them and their lives are as miserable as they had been.

I'm quite surprised by both doctors being able not to comment the euthanasia revelation about the third caste. Even if they managed to keep quiet, I'd expect more indignation from them. Killing women just because they can't have any more children is just...I lack words to describe it. I wouldn't be nervous in their place, I'd be furious.

To "replace population by having many children." Oh, my, do these people have any feelings, or is everything coldly calculated? Don't their mourn those who succumbed to the disease and all they are interested in is "replacing" them?

Oh, you gotta be kiddin' me! The girl is an accomplice?! Because she didn't stop Mistra? What kind of sick mind created such a blind law? I can understand that someone who didn't stop a crime should be held responsible, but there should be some sense in such a law. Also, I can't help but wonder if in case of the pouchling being a boy, he would be considered an accomplice. Something tells me that not.

Still, there might be hope for the Daranaeans, as they seem to be able to accept a female captain. At least--so far.

Author's Response:

The accomplice law is my take on the zero tolerance policies you sometimes see, particularly around schools when it comes to drugs (e. g. girls taking Advil for menstrual cramps are suspended - it's stupid when it goes to its extreme). It's also something of turning Good Samaritan laws on their heads. Make everyone try to prevent a crime, even people where it's impossible for them to do so.

Much like dogs mainly just see in black and white, that's what the Daranaeans are like in a lot of ways. Where is the subtlety? This is in their justice, in their laws and in their push to replace the lost population - kind of a backhanded way of dealing with a deadly disease. Just make babies, over and over again, a kind of scorched earth policy when it comes to feelings.

Oh yes, the males versus females - not to get too involved - the females wear a top with loose folds at the bottom, that can be tied up so as to expose the pouch. Plus the females, I am figuring, have four breasts. Two are smaller and are inside the pouch, and two are where humanoids normally have them, and are for feeding infants (e. g. pouchlings who have emerged from the pouch are graduated to "infant" status).

I really need to write a Field Guide to Daranaeans.

Reviewer: Nerys Ghemor Signed [Report This]
Date: 13 Sep 2011 01:52 Title: Chapter 3

Well, Vidam at least looks like he's starting to have some signs of a conscience, since he didn't exactly defend Arnis.  I wonder if maybe Dratha...that is, if Vidam is actually capable of respecting and maybe even loving his mother...can get the truth out of Vidam in private.  At least Dratha doesn't seem totally cold to the situation the way the Prime Wife we saw in the other story was.  She actually seemed to be bothered (despite her nasty comment about the secondary caste) at seeing upset children, regardless of their caste.

As for that seems like maybe he would be capable of investigating the story properly, even if it begins as simply wanting to burn Arnis.  Of course, it depends on whether or not he is able to see the implications of exposing a story like that, and what that might mean for his position in the hierarchy.

It's so sad that despite being a sentient race they have not--thus far--been able to find anything better to do with their instincts.  I mean, my Cardassians, for instance, are highly hierarchical beings, but even in my Sigils (canon) universe, where their flaws are plain for all to see, they'd be appalled.

As for Nguyen, I know this sounds bad, but it's good to see he still feels guilty.  His guilt proves he has a heart.

Author's Response:

Nguyen is definitely one of the consciences of the piece.

It's funny; I had introduced him in Intolerance and he was kind of a throwaway character and now he's got a big role. I feel that the first story kind of took away some of his innocence as a person, as a doctor and as an explorer.

And - the press!

Reviewer: Gul Rejal Signed [Report This]
Date: 12 Sep 2011 12:59 Title: Chapter 3

Gee, there hasn't been the trial yet and they already talk about an execution. What's that? Cardassian pseudo-justice? Not mentioning the "science" of determining the child's gender. Was that a random leaf from a random plant, or those special plants grow everywhere for all doctors' convenience to check unborn babies if they were worth anything and not more than their mothers?

Seems like Dratha forgot her place for a moment and started to express her opinion. Arnis would not have any of this, though. All he wants is to use her body this evening...I just can't call it anything else.

I wonder what the press is going to do about Arnis. Seems like they are quite nosy, but would it help anyone? Would they care that a woman was killed and another unjustly accused of that, or would they be only interested in male fetuses and guilty Arnis?


It was enough for Lucy to read about the Daranaeans to appreciate how lucky she is having what she has, even if it's not absolutely perfect. What will she do and how will she feel when she has to actually deal with Daranaeans? Something tells me it's going to be tough for her.

Author's Response:

This is a big part of why I brought in Lucy instead of T'Pol - I wanted someone who could have that kind of an arrangement. The women (human) all pretty much have nontraditional situations, except, in a way, for Declan's mother, but she does work (that's mentioned later). Otherwise, we have a starship captain (Erika), a woman where the father is the stay at home parent (Lucy) and the sometimes acting captain (Hoshi). A lot of counterexamples for the Daranaeans to wonder about.

Yes - Dratha was a bit presumptuous. And the name Arnis had for her - "my priciest one". When all you care about is value, all you see are dollar (er, Stond) signs.

I'll explain the plant later, too. And the press! I want them to be overly nosy and intrusive but they are definitely necessary.

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