Date: 21 Jul 2013 00:41 Title: His Strongest Weakness
Well, now, isn't this an interesting situation?
For Mila, I imagine, there were few places she could go. An unwed Cardassian mother? I would think there aren't any.
I admit I do not know Deep Space Nine and the Cardassian culture well at all, but I do recall that adoption is more or less looked down upon and maybe even a bit forbidden. So there are no places for her. Enabran asking her why she was not already gone, that was a bit disingenuous. She had no alternatives.
Well-written, chilling, alien and strange. It is easy to see why this story was an award winner.
Date: 02 Oct 2009 23:40 Title: Purge
Quite a climax to the story and Tain's reputation is sealed and his revenge sated. Quite a bloody sycthe of the Obsidian Order and it shows the nth degree he is willing to go to. Yes, like you said in a response, he believes in his won cause and reasons for doing what he does and employing the methids he uses. Shall be intriguing to see how Tain transits from being a frontline operative to a grand puppeteer of the Order. Again, it has to be said, a fascinating exploration of Tain and others. Character fleshed out with more backstory. Now I'm eager to learn more and to see some of Garak's upbringing.
Author's Response: It felt like a long time in getting there. Some of the twists along the way surprised me, too, since I don't do thorough outlines before starting a tale, just get a general idea of where I want it to go and let it dictate its own terms of how it gets there. Thanks for reading through and sticking with the original Cardassian Man of Mystery before Elim Garak shows up. I'm hoping the next installment can maintain the excitement. Thanks again for all the great reviews!
Date: 02 Oct 2009 15:53 Title: Under Cover of Darkness
Again, the lengths and preparations and back up plans Tain has are amazing. This chapter shows his skill at playing this game and being prepared. Really well done to realise such a cahracter and bring him to the page.
Wonderful to see the family life we see here. No doubt a very rare scene in the future. A bold and wise move on Tolan's part to give Tain the babe to hold in his arms. Very calculating and smart to ensure the man's favour.
Can't wait to see how this plays out and the efforts that will need to be made to restore Tain. His enemies certainly went to some lengths from the very outset to get at him. A very scary thought and very dark. Ohh ... shiver up my spine.
Author's Response: I'm really glad you enjoyed this chapter. Thank you! Tain's contingency plans run deep. After all he has been through on the mission, I think taking a few moments of comfort from the woman he loves and his son makes sense in that context. He's not a machine, after all, even if sometimes he acts like it.
Date: 02 Oct 2009 15:41 Title: Sleg
Wow. Tolan's reaction to the birth of 'Sleg' is quite profound and in its way moving. You can feel his blooming love and his hopes and desires for the infant child. And now things have become increasingly complicated in this charade.
Author's Response: Babies have a way of complicating things by their very existence. I don't think Tolan was expecting the depth of feeling he has for this child, but given Cardassian love and value of family, it makes sense. I imagine it to be very much an instinctive thing, too.
Date: 02 Oct 2009 15:29 Title: Fruits of Labor
Ah Garak is fed up waiting for his appearance. HA! Helpful advice for Tolan from Mila. It must be a daunting prospect facing the real Tain and trying to fit yourself into his household, especially when privvy to many secrets Tain holds. It will be a fine balance to step.
Author's Response: Mila was getting tired of waiting, too! Tolan would do well to listen to her advice, considering of everyone on Prime, she probably knows Tain best of all, aside from Tain himself. It is going to be an interesting balance to strike.
Date: 02 Oct 2009 15:21 Title: Playing the Game
Mila rallies to the rescue. Her mind and intellect is stunning as is her steel nerve to carry on despite the precarious situation and the danger she and Tolan are in.
The wheels within wheels of the game played by Tain means to say such an action as his double being eliminated is only to be expected but still it makes for a very dark and scary lifestyle.
Really cool and fascinating read here. Now to get Tain back and see how he plays out his game of revenge. Cue evil laugh ...
Author's Response: Mila has been well prepared for her role in all of this. She also has the right sort of temperament for it. I sometimes wonder how many housekeepers Tain went through before finding her. Might make a story of that one day, too. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Date: 02 Oct 2009 15:06 Title: Blaze of Glory
Crikey! Quite an action packed instalment and one that shows just how and why Tain earned the formidable reputation he did. That was cold and as precise as could be given the quickly unravelling situation. Killing Ocek was something else. I did not doubt that he would kill her, but I figured he'd show some reluctance or compassion about the act. He didn't! It makes tain all the more cold-bloodied and equally kinda makes me 'admire' him all the more. Terrific.
Author's Response: The only compassion he could afford in the situation was to make it quick and try to insure she wasn't afraid before the act. I think the one thing that keeps Tain from being a full blown sociopath is that he takes no pleasure in these things, rather recognizes them as a necessity of the job. He does feel. He can empathize. It just doesn't stop him. It's not the sort of ethic I possess, but it's an ethic I can understand. Thanks!
Date: 28 Sep 2009 22:49 Title: Purge
Damn... well played, Tain! He gets vengence of a sort, while consigning many others to the grave and improving his standing in the agency a thousand-fold. Truly, this man's cunning and single-mindedness are deserving of eventual leadership of the Obsidian Order.
I'm presuming this is not yet the end. I'd like to see how things wrap up with Mila and Tolan at home.
Author's Response: It's the end of this installment. The sequel will return to Mila and Tolan as well as show how things next progress with Tain's ambitions. I had to leave a few questions unanswered. This was only the beginning! I'm glad you enjoyed it and hope the next can live up to expectations.
Date: 28 Sep 2009 21:30 Title: Under Cover of Darkness
Damn, Mila would make an admirable OO operative in her own right. Tain has chosen well.
Author's Response: We do know about her from canon that she worked at one of the OO offices for a time in her life. They never specified doing what. I personally couldn't see Tain leaving the handling of his estate in the hands of anyone he didn't find fully capable in every way. I'm sure he helped train her in some of it, but country women are always pretty darn tough. I imagine she got a lot of it just living in the harsh conditions outside Lakat.
Date: 28 Sep 2009 21:21 Title: Sleg
Considering what awaits him later in life, Elim's arrival was uneventful. A wonderful snippet of Cardassian birthing practices. Their muted reaction to the promise the baby holds is telling... life isn't easy or soft in this society.
Author's Response: It's not at all. It was a bittersweet chapter to write, since I know what his future holds, and it's not a happy one. They don't know, but they suspect enough. I'm glad they have a little time before it has to go that way.
Date: 28 Sep 2009 21:08 Title: Fruits of Labor
Tolan is indeed a sneak, but lovingly so. He is helping to sooth his sister's situation with Tain by planting her favorites around the house. And now, the most exciting news of all... the baby's arrived!
Author's Response: All of them were ready for that to happen, none more than Mila, I think!
Date: 28 Sep 2009 19:11 Title: Playing the Game
Ah, Mila... in her own way every bit a clever as Tain. Trust her to find a way to delay the disposition of Tain's estate until someone who owes Tain goes and hauls his sadistic butt off of Angel I. Once again, terrific character interplay between Mila and Tolan.
Author's Response: Thank you! I enjoy those two a lot. They're needed relief from the darkness of the agent. She deserves better than Tain, but people don't usually choose whom they love.
Date: 28 Sep 2009 18:47 Title: Blaze of Glory
If there was any doubt Tain is a ruthless m**********r, he just cast away all of it. Killing the others was cold-blooded enough, but terminating Ocek gave it that extra-creepy edge.
Heavens help Rogol when Tain gets home. He's been set up in order to kill a patriot, and has had to kill a friend's child in the process of completing his mission.
Go get 'em, Tain.
Author's Response: That scene bothered me. I actually put off writing it for two days, because even the thought of writing it bothered me. It was an uncomfortable place to go, and I was glad to get away from it as soon as I could. Yes, for Tain, it all just got personal.
Date: 28 Sep 2009 18:29 Title: Point of No Return
Now this is the kind of twist I'd expect from the Obsidian Order. Dyban's been set up, and Tain's been manipulated into unintentionally executing him.
I loved the segment with the Cardassian females putting on a show for the matriarchal natives. Who knew the Cardassians could be so accommodating? That was a layer of subtlety that the Cardassians aren't often known for, but can apparently utilize when necessary.
Author's Response: I had fun with the kanar party and the thought of the males' grudging participation in the ruse. When they have a goal, there is much they can and will do to achieve it. I'm really glad you liked the twist, too. Thanks!
Date: 28 Sep 2009 18:07 Title: Regrouping
Having bureaucratic infighting between military and intelligence arms costing lives on a mission is something that Starfleet personnel would find unconscionable. However, the Cardassians seem to accept this in mute silence, knowing full well what any protests would bring. Glad to see Ocek pulled through and that she and Tain will be back to their normal selves (at least Ocek will be) in no time.
Author's Response: True. Criticism of the ways of the state is usually a short road to a traitor's death, regardless of whether the criticism is justified. You're right. You would never see that in Starfleet unless it were a cadre of rogue officers bent on bad deeds. The Cardassians have their own way of dealing with such things, thus the huge number of favors, debts, and grudges they keep track of in their complicated lives.
Date: 28 Sep 2009 17:46 Title: Harsh Elements
Gah! Okay, Pirak's demise was a whole lot less funny this chapter. The fact that the team was sent planet-side without phasers or communicators or a temporary shelter is utterly ridiculous. Tain and Ocek fought mightily to thwart their animal attackers, and I find myself agreeing with Tain and hoping Ocek lasts the night. Who know what kinds of alien bacteria those creatures' bites and scratches might contain?
Author's Response: Yes, the infighting among the various governmental branches leads sometimes to ruthless and unnecessary gambling with each others' lives. I would imagine the Order has also been responsible for military losses of life, each jockeying to blame the other. In this case, Tain's and Ocek's anger are definitely justified.
Date: 28 Sep 2009 17:28 Title: Angel I
The mission nearly derailed by a thunder storm! It hadn't occurred to me that none of the Cardassians would have any experience with this kind of weather. Some great character work here as the team begins to gel. The bit with the animal attached to Pirak's neck made me laugh.
Author's Response: Can you imagine what a torrential downpour accompanied by fierce lightning would be like to someone who had never seen such a thing? As I thought of the challenges the planet might pose, that wound up making a lot of sense to me. I'm glad you enjoyed Pirak's episode with the critter. It was a little humor at his expense. Thank you for the review!
Date: 27 Sep 2009 20:30 Title: Angel I
I thought perhaps it was humour you were aiming for, especially after reading the next segment where the peril and threat were so clearly conveyed. So perhaps just my own expectations of what was going to happen. I guess I got ahead of the story! Ha! I sincerely doubt that you have anything to learn from. This is masterful.
Author's Response: Oh, I wish that were the case! Then again, I don't know if writing would be as fun as it is if I felt like I "knew it all" already. One reason this site is so fabulous. There are truly amazing and talented people to learn from. Please don't ever feel the need to hold back criticism in a critique. It's very valuable!
Date: 27 Sep 2009 11:45 Title: Point of No Return
Ha! It bespokes of the Cardassian mindset that the rest of the party were able to fall into line so quickly with the ploy outlined by Lok/Tain. A great escapade and a lot of fun had with what was also a very clever move.
Back aboard ship Dyban's ellimination came so swiftly and the realisation that Tain has in fact been played is quite stunning. Now it is a matter of to what degree has he been played and who exactly is involved. The involvement of Romulans is usually a complication but with Cardassians around complications, intrigue and backstabbing already abound. Great stuff.
Author's Response: The party with the hunters was the only real fun they were able to have, at least the ladies. The men weren't so enamored of the situation!
I wanted Dyban's death to be very sudden and shocking. Tain certainly wasn't expecting it, and now a chain of events has been unleashed beyond which there is no going back. Thank you for continuing to read and offer feedback.
Date: 27 Sep 2009 11:31 Title: Regrouping
A certain dance is played here between Tain and Dyban and it makes for some speculation. What are Dyban's motivations and what are his intentions? Tain has still a bit to sift through.
Also great to see the manner in which the expansion of the Union is carried out, although personally I'd be reluctant to step foot on the planet after what happened never mind landing the ship on the surface. Ha!
Oh and a complication if ever, with Ocek wanting to meet Tain's family. Wonder how they'll get around that one.
Author's Response: "Oh and a complication if ever, with Ocek wanting to meet Tain's family. Wonder how they'll get around that one."
Oh, every complication has some solution...
Date: 27 Sep 2009 11:24 Title: Harsh Elements
I should have nmentioned in the last review how the continuing interaction and building relationship between Tain and Ocek is just sublimely portrayed and great to watch/read. Their shared history through Tain and Ocek's father makes it all the more interesting to read and see how it develops.
Also of equal fascination, is Tain's thoughts and admission of love, or as close as, about Mila. Quite sentimental - which I'm sure is somehting is probably finds galling. That said, there remains to be a certain chemistry between himself and Ocek.
Now as to the intrigue of the civilians not getting any wrist communicators, I'm with Tain on being slightly suspicious but then he has that effect on people. I should have mentioned in the last chapter too how I loved the reluctance to go first, at having to put yor back to another and how this position in Cardassian culture was not honoured as it might have been in other cultures.
Tain has to have a lot of faith or trust of a kind to willingly step into these situations with so many unknowns and possible btrayals, never mind the chance of discovery. And yet trust is one thing he can hardly afford. Makes his moves and actions all the more compelling and a trait we see is passed on to Garak.
Now the sequence of the dead body and the attack were tight and tense, with a sense of danger and threat very palpable. This was very effective and added further excitement to an absorbing read.
Author's Response: Tain feels a genuine affection for Ocek, as much as he can allow in the circumstances. She possesses character qualities he admires. He also admires her father, and that contributes. The sentiment he feels for Mila bothers him. It probably always will, yet at the same time, it's something he is learning to accept as his reality. He is neither machine nor sociopath, so of course he will have these moments. Otherwise, I'm sure he would've killed her and the baby. The fact that we know he didn't says a lot about his underlying emotional state.
It's a sense of duty more than trust when it comes to taking these assignments. There's really a beautiful passage in Andrew Robinson's A Stitch in Time, where Tain talks about how Obsidian Order people are the night people who must do and face terrible things to insure the security, well being, and clean consciences of the day people. More than anything else I had read or seen, that impacted me in how to view Tain and what he does. He truly loves Cardassia and her people, and he has sacrificed a great deal in pursuit of their safety.
I'm happy to hear the body and the attack came off as I intended. The attack was tricky with no visual input. The other senses seemed to suffice, though.
Date: 27 Sep 2009 11:06 Title: Angel I
Really indepth detailed world building here. From the descriptions of the Angel 1 from above and on the surface, how the light filtered through the canoopy, the insect life to the way the weather affected the Cardassians physically and in mindset from their barren world - and that was before the storm came.
To be honest, I didn't expect such a sidestep in the plot for something like the danger posed by a storm but it was wonderfully portrayed and really helped to illuminate some of the character interaction between Ocek and 'Tain'. So it definitely was worth the little sojourn and I'll read on to find out if there are any other consequences to the storm. Finding this to be a very ellaborate and smart piece of writing, I wouldn't be surprised.
The little details are what truly lift it out in the stratosphere in terms of writing. The way you convey the shift in relations and power by describing how Dayben places his hands now not on Lok's shoulder to assert dominance. Really impressive. Really.
On top of which you do with such economy of words. Very tight written, pared down to the essential and most engrossing.
Perhaps as I was reading it, I thought that the attack of the animal could have been fleshed out a little more. I'm not sure if I got the sense of danger from the scene that might have been the aim, especially following the realisation of the peril and danger of the storm, or whether it was more a comedic incident with Pirak reversing out of the log. Now that's just a personal observation and not meant to criticise and rather I wouldn't have noticed in many another story except some of this standard. It could also be a Sunday morning fussy head as I read it.
But to repeat, great stuff again. Tain continues to impress as does the author with his story and writing.
Author's Response: Thank you for such and in depth review. I struggled with the planet, because I always worry about description, how much is too much and such, and how much is necessary to give a sense of place. The storm was inspired by a real life event I experienced. Thankfully, I wasn't attacked by a weasel-like creature during mine. :D
I was aiming for a bit of humor at Pirak's expense with the animal and also trying a bit of foreshadowing, something trivially dangerous leading into something far worse. It sounds like I didn't quite succeed, and that's something I'll keep in mind and hopefully learn from in the future. I appreciate the honest criticism.
Date: 26 Sep 2009 10:06 Title: Setting the Hook
EEEEEEE! So exciting. The interplay of politics and character and intrigues. And all very expertly and deftly handled by its author. Great, great, great, character interaction heightened all the more by the duplicity of Tain's cover. It makes it all so enthralling. Even a simple flirtation is a complication.
Also the game of stones is absolutely fascinating sounding. I'd like to see a game played. I just love how the different members use it read one another's character and traits and use it measure one another. Very much engrossing. I could have a chapter on a game of stones as described by you any day. Is it canon? Or of your own making?
Again, fabulously interesting tale being spun. You do this oh so well.
Author's Response: Writing this chapter hurt my brain a little, trying to keep up with who was playing what social game and how. The game of Stones is my creation. I had read about Kotra, and I thought that it sounded very Central Command-ish with its emphasis on aggressive strategy. Stones is more Obsidian Order-ish. I've developed a history of it that may or may not be included in future stories. It just felt like a very Cardassian game to me, something that by playing, you reveal your inner workings to your opponents. Truly good players develop strategies very different from the real way they think, thereby revealing very little of themselves.
I'm really glad you enjoyed this chapter. It was one of my favorites overall.
Date: 26 Sep 2009 09:56 Title: Opening Gambit
Interesting character interaction and again the manner in which Tain navigates his pretence and the purpose of the mission is startlingly amazing. Great details and flourishes of observations as well as learnign more of the Cardassian way of life as we see aspects of life aboard a ship.
Great interactions as I've already noted but worth repeating. And it seems Tain has a very difficult task ahead of him with Black Squad to contend with no matter about the rest. Wonder does Tain have to read up on the book he's supposed to have written! Ha!
Atop of which to say, it seems the Obsidian Order really does know what you have dinner.
Author's Response: Thank you! Yes, Tain's task hasn't gotten any easier with the addition of the extraction specialist to the team. He absolutely had to read the book he "wrote". (He didn't enjoy it, either.)
They do if they have reason to watch you, yes indeed. hehe