Behind the scenes: Secrets and Lies

Before I go on about this story, I’ll explain in two paragraphs how the series behind this story came about. Simply put DS9: the continuation came about from my love of DS9 and my realization of how open the ending was. However I decided that if DS9 were to continue let some time pass, say eighteen years. With that period of time I could have some real flexibility with developing the universe of DS9: the continuation.

Without really thinking I just ignored all the canon stuff from the DS9 relaunch books and just developed my own plots and my own ways of how the main characters developed. I finally settled on keeping four of the main characters (Kira, Odo, Bashir and Ezri) and keeping the rest to secondary roles. I added three new characters of my own creation and I thought they worked well with the other characters, and with the series plot.

So (with that out of the way) this story had to introduce everything and I’ll talk first about the version I initially published on Ad Astra, then the new and updated version, and finally the original version.


1. Version first published on Ad Astra.

This version was really to show case all seven of my main characters, and the main plot regarding the Tau Primia prison and Gul Bordak was more in the background. For the first chapter I took a leaf out of DS9’s book (think The Emissary) and decided to start the story two years earlier and focusing on Megan Felpes. This chapter sets up the plot, most of Megan’s back-story, and how she faces one terrible situation. I also introduce the story’s main villain Gul Bordak, though for all intents and purposes Bordak was simply there to develop Megan’s character. I also threw in a scene with Garak (now the President of the Cardassian government and the Cardassian Union) and the head of Section 31, Timothy Rooter, just for some added intrigue. Though at the time I wondered how I could add Garak into more scenes to the story but I just couldn’t…

Of this version I did not like the exposition of the scenes but I did not have the experience I do now to have improved them, so they had to stay. Sure they conveyed the story but in a clunky way. The same applied with chapter 2 where I fleshed out the remainder of the other character’s back-stories: Bashir, Ezri, Kira, Odo, Max and Holo. The story behind those characters is for another post, but the point I’m trying to convey is that I managed to lay down the basic ground work for each character and how they initially reacted to each other.

Chapter 3 actually drives the plot forwards and it returns to Megan’s character. I decided to avoid writing a torture scene with Megan and Bordak because I felt it would be too brutal and senseless, and that it would have no use for propelling the story along. Yes I wanted Megan to be a tortured character but there were other ways of achieving this without resorting to stupid and pointless violence. All the violence in this story, and others like it, are here to either develop the plot or to make a point to the reader about a character’s emotional state or something. Surprisingly this chapter develops the plot but in a very light way in that Ezri simply receives orders from admiral Ross, and heigh ho we’re off on a mission. Looking back this seems cheap to me but at the time there was no other way to spruce up the main plot and give it some weight and oomph.

Moving on to chapter 4 and we come to the main action scenes of the story. There is a space battle and then the capture of Tau Primia prison, and while fast-paced this chapter overlooks a few things. It is never really explained why the rebel Cardassians defended the planet, and for the reason for this was to hurry things along to reach the climax of the chapter; Bordak’s confrontation with Kira. Bordak is not bad and mad for no reason, however all three versions of Secrets and Lies connect Bordak with the Tren, and his mysterious link to the Vizorian Gilsa. The connection between Bordak, Megan, the Tren and the Vizorians is defined in later seasons of this series, but for now this story very loosely touches upon these connections. All I can say is that these underlying mysteries are core to Megan’s character, and what starts as one mystery branches off into several ones before it is all tied up.

The fifth chapter is all about the Tren, and the Tren are the first of two key races I’ve created. All this story does is just hint at the threat the Tren pose and their aims in the Alpha Quadrant. It is also ironic that though the Tren are hinted at a lot more, real proper first contact with them comes much later than with the Vizorians. This chapter wraps up the small story regarding Bordak and Gilsa, and how they have worked together (of sorts) to keep Megan alive in that prison. In fact this chapter is primarily here to introduce this series mysteries and unknowns; the Tren, the Vizorians and so forth. Some years from now I will extensively post about the Tren and Vizorians and how important they are to the series, but for now that is mostly under wraps. Finally the fifth chapter sets up the who-dun-it part as Ezri (and later Odo) investigate who tried to assassinate Gul Bordak. It starts with Megan and the neural depolarizer Bashir removes from her brain, and the aim here was to make Megan a suspect and to make the reader think that she is somehow involved with Section 31.

Chapters 6 and 7 are about the mystery behind the last few fateful hours of the starship Liberty. Cue lots of Section 31 references and ping-ponging back between the two people suspected of trying to assassinate Bordak; Megan and Jack. Of course for Megan’s character to go anywhere she had to be innocent of this, but just to really torture the character, I thought making Jack her lover (and this relationship which she has so far kept a secret) and making him the guilty one would be the last straw for Megan. Again things are skimmed over in the story as the investigation takes precedence and I missed some opportunities to really develop Megan’s character and to explore her first tentative steps of recovery and exploring her freedom.

Finally chapter 8 is a simple wrap up and the main focus here is Megan. In fact you could argue that the three most important main characters are Ezri, Kira and Megan. How this came about is a bit of a mystery to me but what I do know is that Kira is a really easy character to write, Ezri is the commander of DS9, and Megan has a rather rich and lush storyline and plots about her.

To sum up this version of Secrets and Lies rather roughly introduced everything important to my series. It had a few good moments, but things were missing, and so nearly eight months later this inspired to me go over the story again and redevelop it completely, so we go to:


2. The new version of Secrets and Lies

This version was created to address nearly all of the flaws of Secrets and Lies: the incomplete plot, the somewhat underdeveloped characters (this applied to a couple of them) and some horrible exposition. This was a big undertaking as I both added new scenes to expand the plot, but not change the final outcome that much, while going over and improving (and tweaking) the old scenes where necessary. This version is 53000 words long, 22000 words longer than the first version. Each chapter can be summarised as follows:

  • Chapter 1 is simply a reedit with improved exposition and dialogue.
  • Chapter 2 greatly expands on Ezri’s character and introduces the start of the plot; the arrival of a fleet of Cardassian ships. So while there is a lot of introductions for the main characters, the threat of the Cardassians is always in the background, to keep the reader hooked.
  • Chapter 3 develops the key point of the plot; to capture Bordak and Tau Primia. Here I managed to get the opportunity of integrating Garak more fully into the story, and this is nothing more than to get fans of DS9 to get sucked in to the story (I say this with all honesty, plus with spilling the beans…).
  • Chapter 4 is quite literally a bridge that raises the stakes of the plot contents, and fleshes out Bordak and the Cardassians under his command. It finally explains why the rebel Cardassians will defend Tau Primia from the Federation/Cardassian strike force. I also partially include a torture scene where Bordak is in the midst of torturing Megan and is then interrupted by one of his glinns.
  • Chapters 5 and 6 are about all-out action, and it goes from a space battle between strike force and the rebel Cardassian ships, to what happens in Tau Primia prison, to a space battle with the strike force and one rather powerful Tren ship. I also took this opportunity to show that the Cardassians were not all bad (and this is important because it offsets Bordak and his evilness), with Gul Ackaron (the commander of the Cardassian fleet) sacrificing his ships to let the Federation ships get back to safety.
  • Chapter 7 is composed of nearly all new scenes, the key highlights being a thorough exploration of Megan’s character (and also how her mother came to DS9), and a somewhat lengthy scene with Kira and Odo where Kira tells her husband how bad she feels after the operation to free the prisoners of Tau Primia.
  • Chapter 8 is virtually all about Garak and I decided to throw in an assassination attempt which involved a Cardassian suicide bomber. This is not even intended to be political (or the dreaded t-word topical) but it seemed to me the most logical way for someone to bump off Garak without arousing his (or his guards) suspicion. It also has some Bashir and Garak interactions which I simply could not overlook…
  • Chapter 9 is all about the investigation into the Liberty’s disappearance and who tried to assassinate Bordak; Megan or Jack.
  • Chapter 10 develops a bit more regarding Megan’s character, and changes the ending which resides with Megan.

To sum up these additions are designed to make Secrets and Lies a more meatier story, and to give it some oomph and effectively introduce my DS9: the continuation series. Every main character had his/her moment in the sun and it sets the general premise for my series stories; character studies/intrigue/complex plots/intense action scenes and more. With that I now go to something more reminiscent:

Version 3, THE original version of Secrets and Lies:

This version is nearly identical to the first version I mentioned above except for one glaring detail; Megan Felpes is the Section 31 agent. I came so close to publishing this version as I wanted Megan at first to be not only a tortured character, but a troubled and morally dubious one as well. Unfortunately I applied some intense logic and thinking to the plot, and the plot mechanism of Ezri in effect letting Megan off the hook through some legal mechanism (and how Section 31 is not supposed to exist) was too thin for my liking. Alas this version has not been retained as I moulded it into the first version of Secrets and Lies. This is why Jack Smith became the Section 31 agent.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed reading this and you get a better understanding of how I devise my stories (and series) plots.