Date: 20 Jun 2013 15:54 Title: Preface
I think Ln X reviews has cover a lot of what I like to say.
This feels so much like the DS9 aftermath; I had no problem hearing the characters saying those lines, no one to me act out of character.
S31 are suffering from the old problem 'who watches the watchers?' their actions are destroying the Federation as there not been held in check. They actions are speed up the rot in the UFP and the other powers.
The story kept me coming back for more, I enjoy your re-take of past scenes in the flashback, but I do feel the Orion Syndicate & Sisko Angle felt unresolved. I personnel like to have seen more of the Suran and Donotra arc but perhaps that could be a future story.
Date: 18 Jun 2013 15:06 Title: Chapter 1
And now Sisko is trying to stay retired. Just when I think I'm out ... they pull me back in!
And now we've got some information on what Omega is. And it seems there are at least a few Klingons who know about it. Dangerous stuff, much like nu Trek's Red Matter, it seems.
Ultimate-style weapons being bandied about by political rivals and people who don't trust one another - always a recipe for disaster.
Date: 18 Jun 2013 15:02 Title: Prologue
Ah, there's something big and very secret going on.
The Klingons don't know, but one of them might be ... someone. Stellar Cartography is affected. Other systems are down. But our man Calhoun clearly knows - and this is Top Secret, whatever it is.
Since omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet, it begs the question of whether this is a hugely destructive force being unleashed, or at least tested. Stay tuned.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 23:56 Title: Preface
I do have one final review concerning Omega. This is more of a general review but here goes.
First of all I just want to say thank you for telling me all those times to read this story. This story is truly one of your best and I wish more people on this site would read it! But you have pulled off one incredibly complicated story, I cannot believe how it all works!
To say there are twists and turns is an understatement! You add more to Senator Vreenak and how Garak assassinated him, you reveal that Sloan never died and it was all an isomorphic projection! You cover all sorts of TNG and DS9 characters, both primary and secondary and they contributed to this masterpiece!
The dialogue was spot on as usual, and considering how you tackled a variety of characters, you must have had to cover all sorts of styles and yet you conveyed them all perfectly! That takes some serious skill writing characters like that and making them feel familiar and all!
There were some great story arcs and the twists and turns of the plot... This will take some additional reading of this story to fully grasp what you have written down. How on Earth did you come with such a bold idea as this? Well I understand how it took you so long to complete this story as I can imagine it must have taken months worth of planning and plotting to compile this story and to make sure the plot and the story synopsis all made sense! I think this is one of the most complicated plots in all of Ad Astra! I have never seen anything with so mysteries and puzzles and intrigue!
The one I do want to talk about Rooter being an isomorphic projection. I have been doing some more thinking and I've been wondering this. How did Rooter have memories? I mean if it were an isomorphic projection were those memories simulated or what? That doesn't quite make any sense because wouldn't Bashir and O'Brien realise something is wrong when they entered Sloan's mind, or the isomorphic projection's mind? That bit I am now not so sure about and I think even an isomorphic projection can not successfully mimic memories. I mean Bashir is genetically engineered and all, would he not suspect something is off?
Then there is that changeling Rennek or Tirak. I am still going under the assumption that these two are actually the same changeling but I still cannot understand why the Rennek changeling would against his people. I mean do the Founders still agree with his missions? Do they allow him autonomy to do what ever he likes so long as he causes damage to the Federation, Klingons and the Romulans?
That bit I am not so sure about so maybe... But whatever dubious bits there were, whatever felt like a stretch those moments were few and far between. And really a story like this should be riddled with plot holes! But it is not and that is a testament to your skills as someone who come up with great plots and stories!
But I will be teasing over this story with a fine tooth comb for both plot holes and information which could help with my series. There is so much on offer here about the Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans and Federation that is a gold mine! Love it!
Author's Response: Rooter? I assume you mean Sloan. The explanation of how Sloan goes discussions on TrekBBS regarding whether Sloan was really dead at the end of "Extreme Measures". And what was agreed on was that things happened a little too easily in that episode and that Sloan wanted only to save Odo while appearing not to give the cure up voluntarily. Sloan could've been extracted at any time during Bashir's unconventional interrogation. From what we know of 31 in canon, forcefields are nothing to them. This particular novel establishes they are always three steps of potential infiltrators like Bashir. So why would "Extreme Measures" have been the exception? Furthermore, I established here that high-level 31 agents have cybernetic implants carrying vital information based on Sloan's statement that the bureau's most valuable record are stored in the minds of a select few. So that's pretty much the thinking behind the notion that Sloan could still be alive.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 23:16 Title: Preface
Hee hee, yes Sloan was quite resourceful. This piece provides a tie-in between ST: Nemesis and "Inter Arma...", especially with the explanation of how Sloan got Koval, a man so vehemently against a wartime Federation-Romulan alliance, under his thumb.
Yeah it was a good appraisal and I do explain a bit more about by thoughts on this story. But I thought Section 31's role was greatly expanded concerning their efforts to ensure the Dominion won the war and all of this struggle, strife and intrigue just so the Federation can get back their nadion cannons? I sometimes think Section 31 makes things to complicated and in their elaborate plot to solidify the Klingon/Federation alliance, keep three steps ahead of the Romulans, keep Starfleet secrets under wraps, manufacture an omega particle scare and steal some nadion pulse cannons from Tazwa. How did Section 31 pull it off so well?
It's incredible how all these different goals, parties and agendas come together. Though what was the point of Koval joining the Continuing Committee if he has already retired from it now? I guess that neurological disease he had, I forget the name, must have deteriorate significantly. In fact I think Section 31 could have accelerated Koval's disease, I mean Sloan asked Bashir if he could in Inter Arma... So Section 31, being three steps ahead of everyone else, managed to pull something like this off.
I guess Section 31 considered Koval valuable during the Dominion war, but afterwards. Well Section 31 must have saw an opportunity to get rid of the Tal Shiar chairman didn't they? Flush out one of their own agents perhaps? Though might Koval have suspected something if he noticed his condition degrade? Would he not raise the alarm and give away Section 31 in the process perhaps?
Again you can draw and infer so much from this story it is incredible!
Date: 01 Jun 2013 23:06 Title: Preface
There's more to come with Kurn/Rodek. And having Donatra come to Worf's aide gave some backstory to his statement in Nemesis that the "Romulans fought with honor", having met their commander once before.
Yeah you did a good job with Kurn/Rodek and it was rather emotional and all, but very moving. Plus it was a clever move as you said having Donotra side with Worf, yet another moment in this story which explains very subtleties of parts of DS9 and TNG, including Nemisis!
Although Donotra was underused, the moment when Worf realises for the first time that Romulans are capable of honour is a poignant one. For so long Worf has been so racist against Romulans, even after he had that affair with that half Romulan half Klingon woman, he still bore a grudge against the Romulans.
So maybe that's what Worf's vision was all about. When Kahless spoke to him and said that Worf would do something which no Klingon has done before. I wonder; was that overcoming prejudice against the Romulans which is unheard of amongst Klingons?
Thought-provoking stuff as always and this is open to so much interpretation!
Date: 01 Jun 2013 19:59 Title: Chapter 2
She could not get used to the absence of the baseball. I love this line. Seems most telling of the situation for all concerned. And yet looking in on the Sisko scene he seems willing now to turn his back on Starfleet forever. Despite the words of Cassidy and Jake and their understanding of his duty and job. But he is deciding for himself it seems. Alas events are conspiring to draw him back into the fold.
What is this strange rogue faction that Martok seems to have a lead on and why is Sisko best placed to track it down? Intriguing.
Author's Response: Glad the mention of the baseball resonated as the biggest indicator of Sisko having moved away from a life in Starfleet.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 19:48 Title: Chapter 1
Again, I just love all the various different threads and thinking about how they are all going to tie together in some vast crazy way. I wonder now did you start off knowing how they would tie in with some sort of uber plan or was some of this on the fly? (Go on - you can tell me)
Excellent little snippets of scenes that set tone, characters or setting and plot stuff but in such a way as to keep us puzzled and invested in learning more.
The Romulan stuff especially and the strange cargo stuff on Nimbus only it turns out to be Omega in some form or other. Very, very alarming.
And yes Kudos for the Sisko family scene. Felt natural and of course true to the spirit of DS9 to explore family situations. And then the fact that Ben will not answer a call from DS9. Seems he is intent on not getting drawn back into that life.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 19:23 Title: Prologue
Yup I get shivers all over again as I read this prologue. The Klingon beginning draws you right in and I think the fact they are dealing with a scientific conundrum only but adds to the mystery, the hook factor and making this story stand out. Then the switch to the Excalibur crew then adds a further level of interest as it registers that we have a Treklit crew here and somehow it begins to make this feel more serious already.
And of course our suspicions (well it was in the title) are confirmed - Omega Directive in operation - the Omega particle has been discovered. Yipes.
And again, I have to comment that I really liked the Klingon angle on this. Most interesitng.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 19:09 Title: Preface
I have to say there has to be quite a challenge in trying to tie so many different threads and novels together atop of the canon. You have to be commended for coming up with a story within those strictures and for surely it is quite a challenge to do so.
I'm returning to this story because I missed out on completing it and glancing at some of LnX's reviews as I tallied them reminded me of how much I was enjoying and getting engrossed in this marvellous epic of a story. So here I go again... wish me luck.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 13:49 Title: Epilogue
Alright! In this last review of the whole story there are some loose ends which I'm contemplating about. These are parts of the story which either left some things unfinished, unresolved or gave some ambiguity to the plot as a whole. So this review is more like pondering the more subtle aspects of Omega.
The first thing is whether Sloan had always intended for someone to accompany Bashir when Bashir decided to track down the Section 31 infiltrator, the other one aside from Cole, who still apparently resided in the station.
Sloan must have known that Bashir would start investigating what was going on when Cole arrived, and was then killed -- probably because the Rennek changeling was covertly monitoring Cole and activated Cole's suicide implant when Cole threatened to reveal too much to Bashir...
So was Cole here to throw Bashir off the trail, and thus the senior staff of DS9, or what? That bit I could not quite figure out. At any rate the transmission which activated Cole's implant was tracked down to a part of the station, and Bashir and Sisko were investigating because they suspected that Section 31 was behind Cole's death? But really it was Rennek's ruse to lure Bashir and Sisko to a trap, thus beaming them off to Rennek's ship. The question is Rennek must have been pretty certain that Bashir and Sisko would take the bait and no one else would investigate. I know Rennek wanted to give the Tal Shiar actual evidence from Bashir and Sisko about the part Starfleet played in orchestrating the omega bomb scare in the Tazwan system.
So the point of all this is thus so; why did Sloan help Sisko? I find it a rather strange coincidence that Sloan helps Sisko (in the disguise of Verad), so that Sisko begins the investigation on Torman Five which leads to the station drama with the terrorist attack. So Sloan did all of that to a) get a Starfleet vessel to investigate Nimbus Three (because Sloan gave Ro that lead on Zeyner and Zeyner leads to Nimbus Three because of that contact of his), and b) place blame on the Ku'Vok-leth by saying they were responsible for Chancellor Martok's assassination.
So all the stuff happens on Nimbus Three and the omega particle is found there, and then that chase begins and thus giving the Federation the pretext for saying that Tazwa contains more omega bombs, which gives Section 31 the opportunity to remove those nadion pulse cannons.
So really Verad (Sloan) started this all off, and I wonder if Sloan really wanted Sisko to accompany Bashir when Bashir got around to investigating Section 31 when Cole died. Or am I over-thinking things? The point is Bashir would not have survived if it was just him alone on Rennek's shuttle. So was that all part of some grand plan on Sloan's part to ensure that Bashir would not be alone should be taken by Section 31? Or Rennek?
The fact is how did Rennek know about Cole? Rennek was the true bad guy in all of this, because if he had returned to Romulan space with Sisko and Bashir, Rennek would have all the evidence he needed to show that the Starfleet was behind the omega bomb, and behind the scheme to persuade the Romulans to fight against the Dominion. So was Rennek at the right place at the right time or was he a part of Section 31?
The next loose end was the assassination of Senator Vreenak. First of all Tirak... Tirak was the changeling and I also presume the same changeling who took the form of Rennek. So firstly Tirak wanted the Romulans to be more aggressive with the Klingons, per orders with the Great Link who wanted the Alpha Quadrant to descend into chaos, with Federation vs Klingons, Cardassians vs Klingons, Klingons vs Romulans. That bit I understand. But then Tirak boards Vreenak's shuttle and Suran just knows that Tirak accompanying the Senator, it would mean a 'disastrous outcome'. So why did Tirak just let Garak get away with sabotaging Vreenak's shuttle?
We both the consequences of what happened when Vreenak's shuttle blew up, so as such so does Tirak. So why did participate in an action which went against his people's wishes? Tirak said it himself; "True, the Federation and the Klingon Empire would have a better chance of winning the war with the Romulans on their side."
So I know Tirak wants revenge for what the Tal Shiar did, but he must have had some pretty strong reasons for against his people. So is the Tirak changeling a banished member of the Great Link? Is he working for the Dominion or he is really a rogue agent? That bit I could not figure out.
There is another matter and that is Suran. I had a hard time placing his true motives and which side of the Romulan Senate and the Tal'Shiar he was on. For one thing he wanted the Romulans to take a more active stance fighting against the Dominion, so he accepted some dodgy evidence and glossed over some suspicious actions on Vreenak's part, just so he could have the leverage needed in order for a favourable vote when the Senate made a ruling on whether to declare war on the Dominion or not. That bit I could follow.
However this rivarly between Suran and Donotra was a little strange. Strange as in those two seemed to be working for the same objective. So Donotra was at first following Suran's ship, but Suran was going to Nimbus Three for what reason? And the Romulans had their own operation going on in that planet, so was that the operation to make the Omega particle? Or something else entirely?
I really could not work whether Suran was actually working for Section 31, following his own agenda or trying to frame the Federation. As for Donotra, she kind of disappeared so I could not determine what her part in this tale truly was...
Next was Grelik. Had he been introduced before in the story? I've forgotten but I almost confused Grelik with Grelak... Actually I take that back (I said Grelak in a previous review because I misspelt it!), Grelik was beamed away so he must have been a Section 31 agent, and Grelik was somehow alive in the epilogue. So was Grelik another isomorphic projection or what!?! So Grelik must have been behind the attempted assassination of Martok, which means Grelik -- an infiltrator of the Ku'Vok-leth -- tried to kill Martok. And if he succeeded wouldn't that have weakened the Federation/Klingon alliance? Unless the Ku'Vok-leth were framed, or maybe even Section 31 persuaded the Ku'Vok-leth to assassinate Martok, and thus the chief opposition to the alliance would be neutered as there would be a backwash, or something.
So Grelik was another piece of the puzzle which felt rather incongruous to what Section 31 was trying to do!
Finally there was Runold and his connection with the Orion Syndicate, did he contact them and say that Sisko betrayed him? If he did then the Orion Syndicate will be after Sisko's head, including the heads of his family to, so while Sisko at the end of the story seemed to give the impression that everything was safe and sound. Aren't the Orion Syndicate onto his case and won't they try to attack him later on?
So this was a massive story with a very complicated plot, and those are the five main loose threads I thought blurred the nature of this puzzle. It's almost like you could construct an entirely different reason for what happened with these five loose threads.
And that is the last major review I have of this story!
Author's Response: For the most part, just stayed tuned for future stories. There is a lot of political intrigue from the Romulan end of things, especially with political moderates turning towards an extremists' agenda. Suran's motives were tough gauge in Nemesis, where he and Shinzon had separate agendas, but then saw Donatra's side of things, hence leaving the unanswered question of whether the warbird destroyed in the final battle with Shinzon was Suran's ship. Again, stay tuned. Regarding Sisko and the Orion Syndicate, it's one of those cases for now where it's all resolved at the end of the story unless it isn't. The trail in that intricate web was Ku'Vok'leth hiring rebel Trill to do a job for them, and in turn these anti-government Trill terrorists hired members of the Syndicate who are very low in the pecking order as henchmen. The mob bosses probably had very little vested interest in the outcome, so one possibility is that Runold is as dead to them as one of their regular mob hits. I would imagine they'd be just as PO'd with Trill terrorists for costing them valuable hitmen. Rennek/Tirak's role in everything will certainly be addressed in a future story. For now, Sisko and Garak's efforts to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War parallels the Zimmerman Telegram, which can be looked back at as Great Britain exploiting US-Mexican border tensions to their advantage by fabricating evidence of a proposed alliance between Germany and Mexico. To further this parallel, Germany resumed attacking Atlantic shipping lanes in 1917 once Russia withdrew from the war, figuring that if the US did retaliate and declare war, it would be too late make a difference for the Allies. Considering though, Tirak acknowledged that the Romulans would give the Federation-Klingon alliance a better chance, there's certainly more going on than a grave miscalculation.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 11:34 Title: Epilogue
Okay in this bit I want to address my thoughts about the characters of Omega.
First and foremost are the DS9R characters. Primarily Ro and Vaughn and his daughter. I have read a bit of DS9 so I am familiar with these three daughters. To my surprise I found they added a bit to the general story and you made good use of them without those three detracting from the canon characters of the TV series.
The antagonism between Ro and Zeyner I rather enjoyed, especially when Ro flipped out and slammed Zeyner hard against the cell wall. That's a side of Ro which TNG rarely portrayed, and Ro is quite the fighter just like Kira, though Ro feels confrontational in her unique way. So Ro was some fun to read.
As for Vaughn, well I have never read precisely how he came to be DS9's first officer, but this guy is 101 years old? What sustains him? How is he fit enough to pass the bare minimum physical standards of a Starfleet officer? Again issues I have raised in one of the earlier reviews. Having said that Ro and Vaughn were quite the team when down on Nimbus Three, plus I didn't really mind if those two faded into obscurity towards the end. Finally about Prynn; she was a complement to Vaughn and I admired the unique situation of having a father being a part of your crew. So that is a weird situation!
Special mention goes to Zeyner for being such a jerk and for being so adapt at escaping!
That's about all I have to say on the DS9R characters.
I know this story is set in the DS9R universe, three years after the Dominion war. But to be honest Omega's plot to me was the movie which DS9 should have had but never did. It felt like a continuation of DS9 without all the weirdness of DS9R and a great wrap-up (and then some) of some DS9's finest points. Thus our main characters (ignoring all the DS9R ones) seemed to be like the ones I know and love in season 7, albeit they have moved on giving the passage of three years, so that's another reason why I felt so comfortable with the main characters. Yes they had a bit of DS9R backstory but you placed them all in a very classic DS9 situation with lots of politics, intrigue and action!
I think the best character arcs were for Worf, Sisko, Ezri and Bashir.
Those scenes with Worf and Kurn/Rodek were beautiful as Kurn started having flashbacks to his previous life. I think Worf's solution of making Kurn a member of the house of Martok would go a long way to addressing Kurn's concerns over his honour. But I'm not sure how Kurn will view his time spent as Rodek, and whether whatever honourable deeds he performed, whether they count if he lived a false life or an alternate one.
I like how you added Sisko into the fray with the good old 'one more mission for the retired captain' thing. It worked and having Runold threaten Sisko's family was another clever way of returning Sisko to the station and giving him something to do! Yet again Sisko is in a state of flux about his true role and purpose, and one part of me thinks that maybe he will return to Starfleet though that could be tough on Kasidy since she will have to give up her job as a freighter captain to raise Rebecca.
Ezri's story arc was a rather subtle extension of this full-circle journey of hers. DS9R transformed her from shy and awkward to command material who is now starting to place her career above everything else. You reversed that process and made Ezri a little less Dax and a bit more Tigan!
Finally there was Bashir and you once more exposed his flaws in his obsession with Section 31, and also how he sort of became the thing he most despised giving the skulduggery and intrigue he participated in towards the end of this book. As always you saved the best bit for last and Bashir and Sloan's final conversation was classic. I think the penny finally dropped for Bashir that you cannot defeat or beat Section 31 as a one-man army. If anything Bashir learnt a little humility which is a welcome improvement from his smug demeanour of the later seasons (though he did mature, he became more bolder after he was revealed to be genetically engineered, and thus more smug).
There were a whole host of canon secondary characters and I won't go into them all, but nearly all of them sounded just as they would on screen, especially Garak and Vreenak! Their dialogue and the rest of the secondary chracters was spot on, and you covered many races and you get their inflections and mannerisms down pat.
I think the only problem there was had to be character development. There sure was a lot of it, but sometimes it felt rushed as you went at near light-speed jumping from the various characters, parties, factions and key players. For the most part it paid off for you had one hell of a riveting plot, but towards the end you concluded the plot or more exactly placed a full stop to it (because the story didn't really settle down if you consider the ending). However I felt much needed to be wrapped up for say Ro, Kira, Suran, Donotra, Martok and several other characters. But I can appreciate the task you faced trying to pick the relevant characters which would provide the best fit for a character wrap-up. I also appreciate that it could have spawned several chapters doing justice to giving every key character a decent conclusion.
It doesn't so much take away from the story, instead it feels like something to add on. But again see my point in the first large review of the entire story about an expanded version of Omega.
But all in all, I would say every character had their moment to shine, their actions were always plausible, there were no overly melodramatic moments and they all contributed to the grander plot. An ensemble cast indeed!
In my final review -- though there could be more as I go over the story again -- I'll be addressing a few loose ends which could have been tidied up, expanded upon or add some mystery to everything.
Author's Response: On the whole, I was aiming towards using some of the DS9-relaunch characters, but then leaning going in my own direction with Elias Vaughn, Prynn Tenmei, and Ro Laren. But I'm glad the backstories of some of the established characters resonated well. I thought of Ezri in terms of someone who feels she doesn't measure to the other Dax hosts and is now putting career first. While I do enjoy the novels featuring Captain Ezri Dax and the crew of the Aventine, it's still hard to imagine Ezri having made captain so fast, even when considering that Picard also made captain at 27, according to the Stargazer novels, since Jadzia had just a post-captaincy that lasted all of two episodes. My appraisal of Bashir was he was painfully during DS9's first two seasons, but then he kind of grew on everybody. He became a bit more smug towards the end of the series when news of his genetic enhancements came out, acting as if he knew better than this peers. That much was certainly clear when he was pushing the Jack Pack's recommendation to surrender, his courting of Sarina, and presuming to lecture Sloan and Admiral Ross. At one point in the story, Sisko demands that Bashir not presume to interrogate him. Imagine if Bashir knew what Sisko had done to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 09:10 Title: Epilogue
Right! Having given you my interpretation and understanding of the main part of the plot I want to give some of my thoughts about the political motivations of the Federation, the Klingons and the Romulans which also formed the backbone to this story. I'll start with the Federation because I feel that Omega shows the greatest consequences for the Federation. So this review will be in three parts.
You have clearly examined in even more depth just how noble and pristine the Federation truly is, more so than DS9 or TNG have ever done. DS9 obviously gave you the blueprints for this what with Section 31, Vice Admiral Layton's coup, Sisko and Garak's ploy to coerce the Romulans into fighting the Dominion, Starfleet admirals secretly working with Section 31 or more likely going on along with Section 31's schemes, and of course the cover-up of Section 31.
DS9 already made Starfleet and the Federation look pretty bad, but this story portrays an even worse picture and I would even go as far as to say explore the precursors to a Starfleet that loses its moral integrity and becomes a force of oppression in an increasingly draconian and paranoid Federation. Those forces were pushed back in Omega to a degree, but I think this rot cannot be easily removed and seems to be only spreading. The invasion of Tazwa was indicative of a classic government response to retain power and control: problem, reaction, solution. I have expressed my thoughts on this relating to Omega but I think it was your way of expressing your views on today's politics and in particular with the US government. This is just my opinion but I think you were covertly telling the reader about the 'problem, reaction, solution' method in which many governments use and I would not say you were preaching or spreading an agenda, but it was informative. You're inviting the reader to contrast the decline of the Federation's political standing and morality with that of the US government, but such a contrast could only come about through careful analysis of this story by the reader. So you are informing without forcing the reader's hand; they've got to make up their own minds about what the Federation's actions reminds them in today's world.
For me personally this gradual decline of the Federation is one of the most interesting, underrated and rather ignored topic amongst Trekkies. It is the bigger picture which DS9 created as it asked just how truly clean was Starfleet's and the Federation's image? You have have greatly expanded upon this and that is one reason why I am now so fascinated by Omega. I have always believed (after watching DS9) that the Federation was in moral decline at its very core and it would take a lot to stop this. But another war would undoubtedly be a catalyst as the Federation fought to protect this paradise it has created for many peoples and worlds, and in doing so destroyed many of the ideals which formed the Federation. Outside everything appears as it has always been, but take a closer look and things are beginning to unravel.
At times in Omega it felt like Section 31 was trying to tighten its grasp upon Starfleet and the Federation government, and since this organization is highly paranoid about keeping safe its secrets and more sensitive matters which the Federation has buried away, then to what additional lengths will it go to until it starts to visibly infringe about Federation laws and the accountability of the government to the people? I think that moment came perilously close and now more than ever the ideals of the Federation are under severe attack.
If a war had blown up between the Federation, Klingons and Romulans, I think the Federation would have the most to lose and Starfleet and Section 31 would become ever more paranoid about protecting the Federation from threats both within and outside of the Federation. Omega showed the UFP President authorizing an illegal and illegitimate war, a Starfleet admiral determined to purge (not kill but instead imprison and destroy the careers of) Starfleet officers who knew of Section 31 and if that ain't the behaviour of a totalitarian state, or the behaviour or the Romulans or the Cardassians, then I don't know what is!
So this moral degradation was definitely touched upon and I feel would provide the reader -- the one who has been carefully following the story -- with a great insight to the true state of Starfleet and the Federation. Which both intrigued and fascinated me.
The Klingons appear to be going through the same moral rot as the Federation but they are in a far more advanced stage. While the Ku'Vok-leth were only somewhat explored in Omega, the role the Federation has played in Klingon politics was greatly examined and it calls into question whether the Klingon Empire has been moulded to a certain degree by Starfleet to ensure the Federation/Klingon alliance endures.
Worf's realization of how he played a part in this is both an eye-opener and a great development to his character. It ties in everything which happened to him in TNG and DS9. The Klingons seem yet again on the verge of another civil war, and while the threat of a civil war from the Ku'Vok-leth has subsided, I think a civil war is brewing as two camps form in the Klingon Empire. One camp is coming to realise the extent to which the Federation has interfered with their politics, and they feel that the alliance is to blame for this. Thus the Khitomer Accords should be the first thing to be scrapped.
While the other camp believe in the alliance feeling that it has made the Empire stronger. Eventually, and in true Klingon style, these two camp's differences will become irreconcilable and a civil war will be the only outcome. It could even explain much later how Worf was killed in the Klingon High Council, when his son witnessed his father's death and held his father during Worf's final moments. Was the argument which escalated out of hand spawned from fears of the Federation interfering with Klingon politics?
So I would say that Omega only reinforces Ezri's viewpoint on the state of the Klingon Empire; it is dying and withering away due to corruption, infighting and feuds between families. But like a wounded animal would the Klingons lash out against the Federation? I think the events in Omega could be a precursor to this.
While the Romulans motives and political situation had the most flashbacks, I feel it is the simplest of the three major Alpha Quadrant powers and the one which had the most amount of analysis in your story, for a political situation which seems simpler than either the Klingons or the Federation.
I have said before in previous reviews, but the Romulans have the most cosiest position of them all. While there does seem to be some long-standing problems like power struggles in the Senate and a Tal Shiar engaging in ever more dangerous weapons in the hopes of such weapons further bolstering the power of the Romulan Star Empire in the future. I feel such issues will only become a bigger problem many years in the future. Unlike their rivals, since the Federation and Klingons have very immediate problems to deal with which threaten their political stability.
I know it's what the Romulans always do, but you very successfully portrayed them as still covertly egging on the Klingons and the Federation to go to war with each other and I think the Romulans hold nearly all of the cards. Hell! If Rennek had succeeded in his position I think the Romulans would be running rings around the Federation and the Klingons.
In fact if it weren't for Shinzon's coup and the Remans, the Romulans would have the better strategic position for many years to come. I do think there are a few more loose ends but that will be for another review.
So that wraps up my views on the political issues and the political situation which Omega explored. I still have a bit more to analyse and that is the characters, while I think the loose ends I will cover in another review!
So as I said before, there is a lot to think about after reading Omega!
Author's Response: Glad to hear how well the Federation in a state of moral decline was addressed. With Section 31's machinations thrown in the mix, there certainly is growing corruption within Federation and Starfleet going back to Insurrection. This particular situation is certainly an allegory to present day United States foreign policy, and more specifically to the Iraq War--the Omega bomb being the WMD's Saddam Hussein allegedly possessed, and the Ku-Vok-leth representing Hussein's alleged collusion with Al-Qaeda, and the Dominion War being the catalyst towards more reactionary decisions. Similar issues were addressed in perfect Star Trek fashion in Into Darkness, such as Spock addressing the morality of preemptively taking the life of a Federation citizen without due process. And through this all, the Romulans are having a good long laugh at the expense of the Federation and the Klingons.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 08:07 Title: Epilogue
Wow! After all of that the story ends here on the cusp of the origins for yet another story which would explore the after-effects of everything which happened in Omega.
So the Federation's big secret was located in Tazwa with those illegal issued nadion pulse cannons, and the Romulans and Klingons both knew they existed but could not trace their existence to the Federation or Starfleet. So this elaborate plan of Section 31's was all just to provide a pretext for removing these nadion pulse cannons, and they needed a massive reason to invade Tazwan space and thus the plot to build a single omega molecule was devised.
Hence to create the problem of Tazwans potentially having omega bombs, and thus creating the reaction of Starfleet invading the Tazwans to neutralize this threat and then Section 31 could swoop in and covertly remove the nadion pulse cannons. No more nadion pulse cannons then means no more liability of one of the Federation's biggest secrets being revealed. Plus as a bonus to the Federation, if the invasion had gone through, those deuterium supply lines would be thoroughly secured at the expense of the Tazwan's liberties and self-determination.
As for Nimbus Three, that was important to both the Romulans and the Klingons, and the site where the Ku'Vok-leth were building the omega bomb. But Starfleet could not be seen to have been behind this scheme, so Section 31 had an infiltrator in Ku'Vok-leth so that the Ku'Vok-leth would receive the blame for the omega bomb when really it was just a rogue member of their organization.
But I think the attempted assassination of Martok was definitely Ku'Vok-leth, but it played to Section 31's advantage as the Ku'Vok-leth were traced to Nimbus Three and their omega bomb discovered. Thus at the same time Section 31 was also doing a bit of work to ensure the continuation of the Federation/Klingon alliance and to remove any threats to it; which would be the Ku'Vok-leth. So one botched assassination attempt of the Chancellor and the omega bomb will probably go along way to discrediting the Ku-Vok-leth and set them back considerably. Thus making Martok's position more stable for the time being.
The real enemy in all of this, and I have been thinking about it, were the Romulans. They and the Tal Shiar knew something was up and they had suspected that Section 31 were both behind the omega bomb and the operation to try and remove nadion pulse cannons from Tazwa. And leading their efforts to reveal the Federation and Starfleet's secrets and dodgy operations, were Suran and the Rennek changeling. Suran knew about the omega bomb but could not successfully prove that Starfleet or one of their organizations were behind this, while Rennek was the key and had he successfully returned to Romulus. Not only would this whole operation of Section 31's become revealed, but as a bonus so would Starfleet's plan to coerce the Romulans into joining the Dominion war, this would destroy the Federation and Starfleet's credibility, undoubtedly strain the Federation/Klingon alliance and would be massive gift horse for the Ku'Vok-leth.
While Suran would feel -- if the operation had succeeded -- that this would be the chance for the Romulan Star Empire to declare war on both the Federation and the Klingons, should a prolonged war breakout between those two rival powers of the Romulans. But Rennek's goal was simply to get the Romulans into war and thus result in many thousands or hundreds of thousands of Romulan deaths. All of that just to avenge his people because of the Tal Shiar/Obsidian Order operation to destroy the Founder's homeworld.
Hell I think it could have dragged the Cardassians into a war because Garak was one of those directly responsible for coercing the Romulans into fighting the Dominion, and though Garak planted the bomb (which may or may not have lead to Senator Vreenak shuttle's destruction) the Cardassians would be accused of meddling in Romulan politics and for killing one of their (Romulans) senators. So the Cardassians would join this war, and Cardassians would be killed and Rennek's revenge would be complete.
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that is the gist of this plot.
And that is just some of conclusions and observations which I have deduced from this story! You cover a huge amount and I will be posting some more in depth reviews because there is so much going on here. The craziest thing is that this puzzle can be solved in many different ways, but nearly all of which would be plausible. And the best bit is this. At the ending you left Omega wide open for interpretation. It is an incredibly complicated story, I'm not sure even DS9 has gone to this level of complexity, which I think could take several readings through for a lot of readers. But I think I got the gist of it above, but there are numerous threads which I still have not yet fully explored. The downside to this though
This truly was an ensemble cast of characters, and everyone of them contributed in their own way to this story, even the DS9R characters. In some ways I feel this story could be expanded upon in certain places to provide a little extra exposition for the thoughts and feelings of our characters. There were a few missed opportunities like how Kira would feel about knowing that the Dominion had a sent a spy, and probably more of them, to destabilize the Alpha Quadrant and how it makes her wonder if Odo really is getting through to his people or if they are even regressing. Or how Sisko considers his future and the threat the Orion Syndicate poses to his family's life due to Runold undoubtedly informing his masters in crime about Sisko. So there is much left unanswered but I appreciate that your principle focus was strictly on this elaborate plot of Omega and a few characters would undoubtedly be brushed aside for the great good of this story's development.
This is, without a doubt, one of your most ambitious, boldest, largest and most complicated story to date and the best is that it works! The twists are not insanely melodramatic revelations but more information which makes me say 'why ever didn't I think of that?'. Sloan's isomorphic projection seems more or less plausible, and considering that Bashir and O'Brien were getting into Sloan's mind, now it is more precise to say they were interfacing with the databanks of an isomorphic projection so advanced it would appear real and fool the sensors. I'm even wondering if this isomorphic projection was sentient because the isomorphic projection of Sloan put up one hell of a fight to defend his secrets, whilst at the same passing of as Sloan to fool Bashir and O'Brien.
It also does more justice to Sloan's character because surely he must have known that he was walking into a trap, so his stupid moment has been totally redeemed with your explanation of what really happened which fits very well with Section 31's methods.
Aside from a few missing words or more rarely misplaced speech quotation marks, that was the only niggling thing which slightly annoyed me when reading Omega. Plus you were so right to keep dropping me those hints about reading Omega because after reading it, I have never enjoyed one of your stories so much! It's right up there with the TNG book Rogue which features a lot of Section 31.
Finally this story is ripe for some additional scenes plus even a few expanded scenes because I feel what you have done is made a cut of this story to the bare minimum. So that there is just enough to give the reader all the clues and information to put together the plot, and just enough stakes and characterization to keep him/her glued to Omega. But you should a 'director's cut' of this story because I feel it could be even more awesome due to the epic nature of the events transpiring.
My last thing in this review is the ending. That in itself could be the genesis for a follow-up to Omega and for cleaning up a lot of loose ends: what is going to happen to the Ku'Vok-leth, what will Benjamin Sisko do next, what will happen to Section 31, how does this rivalry between Suran and Donotra play out, what will happen to the Nadion pulse cannons? That and about a dozen other things which you could cover. I know some of this plot is for creating a continuity between some the events which happened in the earlier DS9R books and the events which happened in Star Trek: Nemisis and TNG books which were set after the Dominion war. But I say make your own original conclusion to the aftermath of everything which has happened in Omega while ensuring anything you add fits with the events of only Star Trek: Nemisis.
So in conclusion, this story is worthy of five stars out of five, ten out of ten, A+ and whatever high rating is out there.
Additionally I will be posting some more in depth reviews concerning others aspects of Omega because I feel this review in itself does not do justice to what you have created, and I feel is only one incomplete interpretation to everything which transpire. There is still much to analyse in this colossal jigsaw puzzle you have created!
Author's Response: I appreciate all the in-depth analysis. Yes, there's plenty of loose ends still to be tied up from the Romulans' cloak-and-dagger maneuvering to Sisko facing possible reprisals from the Syndicate to the attempted assassination of the UFP President. And there is plenty more where that came from, and eventually I'll have some time address more those loose ends in future works.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 06:51 Title: Chapter 29
Isn't Sisko's life still under danger because of the Orion Syndicate?
Finally I'm not sure that the Dominion really did send out the Rennek changeling as their spy to stir up trouble between the major Alpha Quadrant powers. I think the Rennek changeling went rogue all along even before the Dominion war started and he continued pursuing his agenda right until the very end.
And as for that official explanation for what happened, it's the classic 'yes this happened but it surely was not me', it was Zife's attempt to absolve himself of accountability and responsibility for the illegal invasion that was called off at the last minute. Though I think Zife's days in office are well and truly numbered.
And if it really was the Dominion who sent out that spy, how does Kira feel about that? She must be wondering if Odo was responsible for this or knew about the mission, so I guess that is another unfinished thread...
Date: 01 Jun 2013 06:40 Title: Chapter 28
Was a changeling actually working for Starfleet or Section 31!?! Crikey!
I'm getting really excited now as the next chapter will reveal the final few pieces of this massive puzzle with a whole swath of parties, motives and goals.
I do have one question, was the Rennek changeling the one who accompanied Senator Vreenak on his final mission which ended in his death? I have a feeling he was and it (Rennek changeling) was still trying to provoke a war between the Romulans and the Klingons just so Romulans could die, thus satisfying his desire for revenge.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 06:25 Title: Chapter 27
It really is down to Sisko and Bashir now!
And for the first time ever Kira faces an enemy, a foe, who she can't fight back against. She can't resort to violence and she's now down to secrets and words, which are now not good enough to satisfy T'Nera's concerns. She really is powerless and she can't do anything to change events, which is undoubtedly her worse nightmare for such an independently minded woman who won't put up with any ones bull.
Date: 01 Jun 2013 06:12 Title: Chapter 26
My God! I'm not sure how Worf can resolve this situation with his brother regaining more and more memories of his past life. If Kurn's life as Rodek has been a lie then all of Rodek's honour would be for naught, if I understand Klingon culture correctly. But this situation is unprecedented so it's open to interpretation and I think that is what disturbs Kurn the most.
That last paragraph was rather illuminating;
'Were she not Vulcan, T’Nera’s last words before signing could have construed as a taunt that other distinguished war heroes would soon meet their downfalls should they refuse to cooperate with the upcoming investigation.
It sounds almost like a purge of those Starfleet officers who know the truth, or know too much for their own good, and as a result their careers are going to be terminated all to keep Section 31 a secret...
Date: 31 May 2013 18:24 Title: Chapter 25
The Romulans want the Klingons to go to war but thank God Admiral Ross withdrew otherwise this whole situation could have been even worse! The mystery deepens and for once I'm getting the sense that even Section 31 is losing control here!
And all of this elaborate plan just to remove some very powerful nadion pulse cannons? Given how Kinchawn seems like a rather dubious leader, how long will it be until he uses those nadion pulse cannons and his race reverse engineer the technology? Clearly nadion pulse cannons are a banned weapon within Starfleet otherwise more would have been made and the ones which were built would not have been hidden to such a degree.
From all of this the ultimate winners could be the Romulans as the Federation descends into a political crisis (should the truth be known), the Klingons attack the Federation and the Romulans... They can just sit back, which was the Romulan Senate's, the military's and the Tal Shiar's plan all along. And then once the dust has settled they come swooping in amongst the chaos and the war to annex some easy gains.
Date: 31 May 2013 17:31 Title: Chapter 22
You touched upon something which I think the Federation is slowly travelling above; the paranoid road to a totalitarian state. You are absolutely right that the Starfleet top brass are spooked by the war, and you are also correct in the observation that Starfleet was too defensive at times which occasionally gave an unnecessary and unwarranted advantage to the Dominion. Zife's actions and this desire to be seen in committing decisive action seems like a logical consequence of a paranoid Starfleet (at the top levels).
It is also classic of the problem reaction solution principle which is so prevalent in today's world and in most of the past. Section 31 has created the problem of a omega bomb going off and made Tezwa the area of suspicion. The reaction is -- now under the assumption of more omega bombs -- to invade the Tezwa starsystem and the solution is to secure its resources and also a vital strategic position from both the Romulans and the Klingons.
No matter what Section 31 has done to protect the Federation, it has now become this cancer and Starfleet is starting to break its own Prime Directive and rules because of it.
Aside from the puzzle and all of its pieces thrown into various chapters, this new development of the Starfleet invasion of Tezwa takes this story to a whole new dimension now that you are questioning the moral basis of Starfleet and the Federation!
This has been quite the journey!
Date: 31 May 2013 17:02 Title: Chapter 21
That scene with Worf was a real eye-opener and made sense a great deal of things. For one the only reason the Federation is in such a plush position is because of the alliance with the Klingon Empire. Thus Section 31, seeking to protect and strengthen the Federation by any means possible, will ensure that this alliance will endure for as long as is humanly possible. Whether -- and is without what Section 31 has done -- intentionally or not, the Federation has always picked the political forces in the Empire which support the Alliance, whether that lead to civil war in the Klingon Empire or the murder of one of its Chancellors (Gowron).
So this makes me ask one important question; just how strong is the Federation/Klingon alliance if Section 31 hast to go to such great lengths to preserve it?
I've got to say this story is actually shedding whole new light into the political machinations of the Federation, the Klingons and the Romulans. You're explanations for what really happened are so good they should be added to canon because it adds new depth and meaning to the three empires which TNG and DS9 spent a considerable about of time focusing upon.
What you have put forth is so good and thought-provoking that I am going to have to analyse the political motivations of the Federation, Klingons and Romulans of my own series especially because I'll be using the fact (that the Federation coerced the Romulans into the Dominion war) as a critical juncture of my series, and exploring the dreaded consequence; the Federation was publicly exposed.
The next thing which struck me in this chapter was the extent to which Suran is protecting Donotra, I'm not sure if it is for her benefit but both Romulans respectively arrested their first officers so such a coincidence is a little fishy! It's almost like they've both got spies on each others vessels!
Finally and this is one more thing! I think it is a very smooth move how you've put the omega particle threat under wraps and gone straight to the next part of the puzzle; who were all the parties involved who would initiate such a plan! I think this puzzle is close to being solved but there could be a few twists along the way!
Author's Response: Excellent of appraisal of what has happened thus far. The Federation, Klingon, and Romulans are all in very precarious positions after the Dominion War--the Romulans probably not so much after they entered the war late. But now they are faced with their own internal turmoil, which they lack resources to combat, forcing even the political extremists to be pragmatic.
Date: 31 May 2013 16:13 Title: Chapter 20
Wow Grelak died! And why has Section 31 beamed his body out of outer space? It seems exactly the sort of thing Section 31 would do...
And yes! One omega particle safely neutralized! Looks like the plan to make Tezwa virtually inaccessible has failed to the benefit of whom though I'm not sure.
Quite the chapter and quite the climax, though I think you are going to outdo yourself towards the end (I'm still itching to hear how Sloane survived, if you can explain away that successfully, then this will be the ultimate in twists and revelations!)!
Date: 31 May 2013 15:56 Title: Chapter 19
Wow all hell is breaking lose here! While that scene with Worf and Kurn/Rodek was moving. I'm wondering if Rodek lives, what other memories will come back to him?
Plus it was rather symbolic of Worf finally finding a Romulan who did an honourable act, and recognising it as so! Maybe that will help cure Worf's prejudice of Romulans a little bit.
Author's Response: There's more to come with Kurn/Rodek. And having Donatra come to Worf's aide gave some backstory to his statement in Nemesis that the "Romulans fought with honor", having met their commander once before.