Coveted Commodity was originally written as a response to a Trek BBS challenge about a new day dawning. I decided to put a mirror universe spin on it, and so I went with the mirror Travis making a turning point type of decision in his life.
The tale begins with Travis Mayweather sitting in Sick Bay, waiting for … something. The Derellian bat makes another appearance; its loud shriek causes Travis to unsheathe his sidearm, “ready to shoot that damned bat”. But who or what is Travis waiting for?
The exposition brings it together, that he is waiting on Empress Hoshi. She is pregnant with his child. And there are complications.
For people in the mirror universe, particularly men, signs of weakness are not only degrading, they’re downright dangerous. Hence what is happening to Travis’s son could not only harm the child at that time and later, it could also harm Travis’s own standing.
Plus, this is not the Empress’s first child. That honor is reserved for Jun Daniels Sato. This is, instead, Hoshi’s sixth.
Travis begins the story indifferent as to outcomes, but becomes mightily interested once it becomes clear that the fetus is damaged. Furthermore, Doctor Morgan gives him a choice – allow the surgery (the fetus has a hole in his heart that must be repaired in utero), but also allow the doctor to kill off Hoshi. The doctor’s tempting offer is a corker – end Hoshi’s reign of terror, but also kill off your own son; kill off your son due to inaction on your part; or allow the surgery and allow Hoshi to live.
Travis chooses the latter option. His new day dawning is that he decides he wants to be a father. This is in keeping with the way I have written mirror universe men. The way I write them, they are violent but they are also good fathers. They want their children to survive, and will do anything to assure that (including violence). Hence Travis’s sole option is to permit the surgery but not allow the doctor to kill (or fail to resuscitate) Hoshi on the table.
In Temper, it is revealed that the choice works for the child (Izo) but Travis is not allowed to enjoy the fruits of his choice. Time is somewhat incoherent in Temper, but the events occur after the surgery and, in the alternate timelines and in the restored proper timeline, Travis meets his end.
I needed a character who would be a bit of a galoot. He would be super-tall, almost seven feet. He would be balding at an early age. In short, he would not be one of the super-beautiful people we often see on television, and not just on Star Trek. Enter José Torres.
Although he isn’t tall enough, I like the idea of Ian Gomez for this role.
I wanted someone who would not be traditionally good-looking. Oftentimes, it seems that star ships (and fanfiction stories) are larded up with an enormous number of ultra-beautiful people. Well, real life just isn’t like that. And I think that Star Trek does a bit of a disservice to its fan base (although they do try to, when appropriate, include people with different abilities). The future is not going to be chock full of 100% gorgeous folks! Someone is going to look different.
A little clumsy, but with a big heart, I wanted José to, at times, be the nice guy who finishes last. But not always, for women who peer beyond looks will see him for what he is – a kind, thoughtful and gentle soul. As an engineer, he is also an inventor and an improviser. In the E2 stories, he creates an ultrasound machine for Doctor Phlox, making it possible to tell fetal gender without having to subject women in high-risk pregnancies – such as Lili O’Day and Meredith Porter Ryan – to amniocentesis needles.
It’s really not fair to call this hookup a relationship. Instead, after the wedding in Together, he notices Pamela and makes his move. It’s entirely possible that, in the prime timeline, he loses his virginity to her. I haven’t decided yet.
At the end of Fortune, he asks Hoshi out, to Movie Night (Casablanca is playing). It’s unclear whether it goes very far. Rather, the purpose of the acceptance of the date is for Tripp Tucker to overhear it.
In the third E2 story, he marries the youngest of the Ikaaran women. It is unclear what her function is on Ebrona’s ship or what the marriage is like, but her premature death is heartbreaking to José.
In Together, Lili first reveals that, during the canon E2 episode, they wed and had a daughter, Maria Elena, named after Lili’s mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day. The savvy reader should wonder – why wasn’t Lili with Malcolm or Jay?
But there are reasons for that. And so she takes up with José, who she doesn’t treat, initially, as fairly as she should. In her own defense, though, it should be noted that Lili is bereft and is dealing with an enormous number of changes in her life. But José, while he isn’t flashy, is a rock for her. And while she is settling, he feels that he is not.
In the prime timeline, at the end of Fortune, he asks her out. He also asks her out during the third E2 book, but loses out to Sekar Khan.
José in the mirror universe is a very different animal – and animal is a good word to describe him. In Temper, Empress Hoshi reveals that, in the initial alternate timeline, he was the leader of the first wave of the invasion from the mirror universe into ours. As a result, she rewards him handsomely. First, he is promoted to Ensign. Then, she gives him three playmates – the mirror versions of Karin Bernstein, Blair Claymore, and Pamela Hudson.
By the time the Doug and Lili mission begins, José has gotten a bit tired of his three trained seals and is looking for younger women. But Karin, Blair, and Pamela are still on rather tight leashes. With his death (due to the Empress’s arrogance and his own incompetence), they are freed.
In the second alternate timeline, and then in the prime timeline, he is unsuccessful in his efforts and, as a result, the three women are never bonded to him.
“Are you, um, going to Movie Night? Chip is showing Casablanca. It’s supposed to be really good.”
Most of the engineers I have known has not been like Tripp Tucker. They’ve been like José. Shy, quiet and inventive. Nothing flashy, but very solid and dependable.
When I first started writing Reversal, I was beginning to come to grips with my own aging process. It’s inevitable – you begin to see yourself as not being so young anymore.
Enter the Calafans.
Described as being near both Klingon and Andorian space, the Lafa System is strategic to the nascent Federation. However, there’s more there than meets the eye, for the entire species is psionically gifted, and the region sits where the membrane between our universe and the mirror is at its thinnest.
The system is composed of four stars. In order from lightest to darkest, and largest to smallest, they are Lo, Abic, Fep and Ub. In the mirror, the largest star is red and is named Ub, whereas in our universe the largest star is white and is named Lo. Because both the largest (Lo in our universe, Ub in the mirror) and second-largest (Abic in our universe, Fep in the mirror) stars have planetary systems, and their orbits cross at various points, the numbering system cannot go from closest to a star to farthest away (by that logic, in our universe, Mercury would be Sol I and Earth would be Sol III, etc.). Instead, the planets are numbered in size order, from largest to smallest. There are twelve planets.
Lafa I is a gas giant close to the four stars and, much like our Jupiter, is very nearly a failed star. It is close to Lo and within the orbits of Abic, Fep and Ub. Therefore, the radiation levels are far too high to sustain life.
All of the other eleven planets are habitable.
The most important of the planets, Lafa II is the original home of the Calafan people. It is where Fep City and Point Abic are. This planet orbits outside of the four stars so, once they have all set, there is a true night. Elekai are native, and live on the southern hemisphere. Linfep are also native to this planet.
The Temporal Museum is eventually built here, and the Museum also owns land, which includes Doug and Lili‘s original home.
In Fortune, it’s revealed that there is an Unemployment Office here, staffed by Calafans.
Olowa grows here. It is within the orbits of Fep and Ub so there is no true night on the planet.
There are factories here, and the people speak with an accent that resembles an Irish brogue (Fortune, Local Flavor). It is the most remote planet in the entire system.
This is a smaller planet. Doug and Lili are trying to grow Mediterranean foods on it (olives, figs, etc.). There is a nude beach here.
On this small planet in the Lafa System, Melissa and Doug hunt and bring down a perrazin (Temper). Linfep live here, but they were likely brought there from Lafa II.
The Calafans feel that their four stars correspond to four gods. Lo and Ub are goddesses in both universes, whereas Abic and Fep are gods. According to the mythology of both universes, the passage between the universes started out as being free and clear, and Lo and Abic married, as did Fep and Ub, but the couples were all unfaithful. As a result, Lo bore Fep’s child and Ub bore Abic’s. For their second children, paternity was secured. Then the children intermarried, so that generation married its own half-siblings, making this mythology somewhat akin to ancient Greek or Egyptian texts.
Furthermore, the species was beginning to experience a very real scientific event known as speciation. That is, there had been a mutation. For the Calafans, it showed up as differing skin color. The species was diverging. Hence the leaders (e. g. the four main persons) decided to erect a barrier between the two universes. Families were split apart. The feel should be very much like the Berlin Wall or the two Koreas. Silver Calafans stayed in our universe; copper ones went to the mirror.
Aging and Maturation Process
Calafan aging is the reverse of our own. Children of both genders are born completely bald, and stay that way until about their thirties, when they begin to sprout hair. In addition, their extremities are solid-colored. However, as they age, the color begins to break down, eventually to a complicated scrollwork pattern that is as individual as a fingerprint. When a Calafan is thoroughly devoid of extremity coloration (known as calloo), death is near.
Dreams and Psionic Abilities
Since everyone is gifted – and the dishes on Point Abic amplify the psionic waves – dreams are shared, not only between dreamers but crossing the universes. This is, of course, how Doug and Lili meet. For Calafans, it is common and, as a result, their relationships with persons from the other side are condoned. Their marriage vows even take it into account (A Kind of Blue).
While I haven’t created a full-on language for the Calafans, I have created a lot of words, such as miva (clay), fep (small) and the yi- prefix, which means “student of”.
Calafans do not have surnames; hence, the first names must be requested as they cannot repeat. Names are considered to be meaningful and parents are cautioned to choose wisely. However, there are names that are jokes. If parents name their son Fepwev, it means “master of the small”. This can mean teacher or microbiologist, but it can also be construed as being “master of very little”, e. g. mastery of a very small domain.
Many male names include the -wev suffix (master of) whereas female names often contain the yi- prefix. However, sexism is not the intention.
Because I establish first contact as occurring in 2157 (although first contact between Calafans and Vulcans, Klingons and Ferengi – and possibly also Andorians – has occurred earlier), the Calafans aren’t officially present earlier than that. However, Jonathan spots a woman who turns out to be Calafan while on Risa (And the Livin’ is Easy). In the E2 stories, a Calafan runs a way station where Imvari bring slaves to the Orion market. But in both instances, the encounters are fleeting and the name of the species is not mentioned.
For a species that was originally intended to be something of a villain, I ended up with more and better opportunities to showcase the Calafans and define their culture. There will be more written about them, I am sure, as I continue to get to know them.
Susan was originally just an ex-girlfriend of Doug‘s. She was meant to be mentioned quickly and then set aside. But she became even more interesting as I wrote more of Reversal.
Susan is played by former Miss Ghana, Yvonne Nelson. Beautiful, intelligent and a little naughty, I feel Ms. Nelson evokes that wonderfully well. She is someone who a lot of guys would lament as being “the one that got away”.
A school teacher, Susan is playful and even rather sexually liberated, according to Jay in the E2 stories and Doug in Together. But all is not right, for in both universes she depends upon synthbeer to get through her days. She has blackouts and, before meeting Lili, it is Doug’s greatest fear and challenge to deal with that. He ends up walking away. Jay, too, cannot take her alcoholism. His departure causes guilt that eats at him at the start of the E2 stories.
With Doug, in the Mirror, Susan is a stabilizing influence, at least to start. They meet on Titania, and are together for a few months. But then she begins to experience blackouts. This causes Doug to panic, and he leaves.
By the time of Fortune, Doug recognizes that she needed treatment and sympathy, and he feels badly for not doing that for her when he had the chance.
In our universe, a similar situation plays out with Jay. In the E2 stories, he reveals a sexually adventurous side of Susan that isn’t explored elsewhere. But he, too, was blindsided by her alcoholism, and unable to cope. Just like Doug, he leaves abruptly. And just like Doug, he is consumed by guilt over that, but more so. Doug is able to get past it and be with Lili. But it takes a lot more for Jay to get past things and, in the prime time period (aligning with canon), he barely does so and, by then, it’s a bit too late.
In both universes, Susan eventually ends up with, and marries, Aidan. For Susan, in our universe, she is accepted by someone who can handle her episodes and, perhaps, help her to heal.
In the mirror, Aidan protects her, and they team up well, in order to parent his son with Empress Hoshi, Kira. With Aidan, her life improves dramatically in both universes. With Aidan, it feels like she just might make it.
As mentioned above, Susan exists in both universes, and is mainly defined by her relationships. In Temper, she is past her prime and the effects of years of alcoholism have taken their toll. But in later stories, such as He Stays a Stranger, she is in better control.
“I’m going to assume you don’t want me dead.”
This character seemed to have all sorts of strikes against her. But she’s a survivor. And there is a reason why she was important to both Jay and Doug and, eventually, to Aidan.
This story was originally written as a response to a prompt about the seasons. I had already written a story about winter, called A Hazy Shade. That one was somewhat depressing. I wanted something cheerier, so I thought of the summertime, and so And the Livin’ is Easy was born.
There are two women in his sights. They are chatting together, but are not on Risa together on vacation. Rather, it’s more like they met there and got along so they are doing a little quick touring together.
In the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode, Archer refers to a boat ride where fish are caught and cooked for you right there. Since that boat ride is never seen, I seized the opportunity to show it. He is on a bench and the two women are nearby, chatting. One is a Trill, but not named. This is not meant to be a first contact or canon-busting story at all. The other is a Calafan, recognizable from my Star Trek fanfiction as she has silvery scrollwork on her arms and speaks with an Irish brogue.
Jonathan speaks with them and asks them to show him around, but unfortunately they tell him they are leaving the following day.
This is a canon character, of course. Hoshi Sato (her name, literally, means “at home in the stars”) is the Communications Officer on the NX-01, with the rank of Ensign, which she retains throughout the entire run of the series. Also according to canon, she eventually rises to the rank of Lieutenant Commander (a rank that I, semi-incorrectly, use interchangeably with the rank of Lieutenant), and also marries a man named Takashi Kimura. In the canon E2 story, her two children are named Toru and Yoshiko. I go with those as being the names of her prime timeline children as well.
Hoshi is also, in canon, extremely intelligent (probably a linguistic genius) but, at least in the first two seasons in particular, is a bit insecure. She is the most likely to jump if the ship is attacked or bumped. She is also likely to doubt her own obvious abilities.
As in canon, this character is portrayed by actress Linda Park.
In addition to her canon quirks, I tend to write her as still being a bit more tentative, even after the Xindi War. In There’s Something About Hoshi, she is encouraged by the captain to stretch a bit. However, the reaction there proves to be far too much for her, and she balks a bit.
In Together, she reveals a playful and sexy side but, in the end, chooses career over romance, failing to realize that Tripp is truly passionate about her.
She’s also caring. As Malcolm‘s First Officer on the Bluebird, she’s comforting when he receives the news in Equinox. She also defiantly says she will take the fall if there’s any real flak from the diverting of the ship to Lafa II instead of heading straight to the Klingon Neutral Zone, as planned. However, her retirement is planned, at a young age, as she is seeing her children grow up without her, and fears she is missing out.
In the E2 scenario, she ends up, in both iterations, with the Quartermaster, Chandrasekar Khan. In canon, her husband is not named, so there is room to be creative in this area. Sekar is gentle and giving, but also keeps her from some of the worst of what’s out there. While he is no warrior, he intercepts problems and does his best to make her life easier.
Hoshi’s canon husband is never seen on screen. I have really only written them as long-term marrieds, and never at the start of their courting. That could potentially develop into a later project.
In There’s Something About Hoshi, she laments about having settled during the E2 situation. For her, Ted seems to be another form of settling, as she sees him as being almost, but not quite, romantic. It’s as if he keeps missing his marks. When she is injected with a compound intended to make her irresistible, he is one of the few men who does not bother her, and is the only one who is heterosexual. He explains that the compound didn’t seem to work on him, as he was already there.
They are forcibly paired up in Together, but they are the only couple who, truly, start off in a non-hostile manner. Instead, they vow to “make the most of it”. The dance – literally – between them moves from fooling around to, eventually, a declaration of love on Tripp’s part, which Hoshi does not reciprocate. Unknowingly and unintentionally, she breaks his heart in her efforts to stay on the ship and remain able to work with everyone, including him and, presumably, T’Pol, his ex. She is thoroughly unaware that he is still interested, even as they are heading into the time of the canon These Are the Voyages episode and, instead, agrees to a date with José Torres. However, she might have a little residual jealousy, as is depicted in Broken Seal. An anomaly hit briefly impairs her judgment, and she stages an elaborate prank against Commander Tucker – but it’s possible that some of that stems from Tucker’s attempt to reconcile with T’Pol, an attempt that, in keeping with canon, fails.
Because I write so much about the Empress Hoshi Sato, her mirror counterpart will be written about separately.
“Well, I suppose if I had a dinosaur, I’d sleep better, too.”
The quintessential young career woman, Hoshi, in some ways, was not taken far enough in the series, I feel. In part this is because this character lost screen time, in favor of Tucker and T’Pol. But there were ways that the character could have stretched more. I hope to get a chance to write some more about Hoshi, and stretch her in my own way.
Books, of course, are canon. Even paper books are seen on some sets. But what are people really reading? In the canon Shuttlepod One episode, Malcolm reveals that he’s brought along a copy of James Joyce’sUlysses for diversion. But I’m with Tripp Tucker on that one – it’s just too dense for my tastes.
For my characters, one of the most important works of literature is Jane Eyre. It crops up in all sorts of places. In Together, the paper book is given as a belated wedding gift to Lili and Doug, by Hoshi and Chip. The book even has an inscription – “One good love story deserves another.”– Hoshi and Chandler. This is also the first time that Chip’s full name is revealed. Doug reveals that the work most likely does not exist in the mirror.
However, in Temper, it is Malcolm and Lili who are reading the book together, and are discussing it. It’s probably not a terribly scholarly discussion, but it is more than just “I liked the book. Did you?”
In Fortune, the book passes as a cherished inheritance. First, Lili mentions it to Q, as an evidence of being civilized. Then it is passed from Malcolm to Neil when Malcolm passes. But that’s just the electronic version. When Leonora passes, the paper book is again transferred, and it is given to Marie Patrice, in recognition of Empy as being “… the strong, independent heroine of [her] own life.”
Trek mentionings of Shakespeare are canon; the movies are littered with them.
Mainly, it’s Julius Caesar andMacBeth that are mentioned in my stories. Julius Caesar is evoked as Lili recalls to Q that she had to memorize Portia’s speech to Brutus, about the relationship between a true husband and a true wife. She uses this memory to bring Doug full circle and receive his confession.
References to MacBeth are more fleeting, except as regards to the
meaning of Malcolm Reed‘s first name. Names are important to Calafans and to the Empress Hoshi Sato, so Malcolm’s name’s meaning crops up from time to time. Since Malcolm is a character from “the Scottish play”, there’s the oblique reference. Furthermore, in The Mess, Lili briefly thinks of the line, “Out, out, damned spot!”
There is also the writing of original Shakespearean sonnets, written by both Malcolm (in Intolerance, Fortune and the E2 stories) and Bron (in The Reptile Speaks).
Biblical references abound in the E2 stories in particular. Many of the wedding ceremonies involve short sermons with passages from various Bible stories. The stories of Solomon choosing not to slice an infant in half (to illustrate the choice that the Muslim bride Maryam Haroun made between two suitors, with the help of Doctor Phlox), Adam and Eve (used in Andrew and Shelby‘s wedding), and Ruth (to illustrate a point about the bride, Karin Bernstein, following the groom, Joshua Rosen) are all a part of various ceremonies.
Furthermore, when Jay and Lili wed, Jay refers to a biblical admonition to marry a dead brother’s widow, as this is right after Malcolm’s death.
In Concord, because Charlotte and Jacob are getting on in years and have not had any children, Jacob writes to her, expressing the hope that she could “be the Sarah to my Abraham“. That is, that she would have their first child far later than expected.
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass
To be sure, the mirror universe is an obvious analog to Through the Looking Glass. In particular, in Reversal, when Doug passes from the mirror to our universe, he is passing through the looking glass and life is, in many ways, reversed for him.
Furthermore, in the old Interphases story, The Puzzle, Travis Mayweather has an experience that involves a bottle with “Drink me” written on it and unchecked growth and a pool of water (although it is water, and not tears) around a table. When that adventure is over, he locates the book and has electronic copies sent to two people he has met, hoping that they’ll enjoy the gifts.
Intelligent characters enjoy reading just about as much as real people do. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic as more books are cracked open and read by my characters.
This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon. The actor, Dominic Keating, is British (he’s from Leicester), but the character is from Malaysia. Repressed, uptight and a lover of big guns and even bigger explosions, Reed was rumored to be the first regular gay character. However, according to Keating, the rumors were Internet hype more than anything else, and homosexuality was never intended to be a part of the portrayal. This has not stopped a lot of fan fiction writers from giving him a slash angle. I do not. Instead, since all of his relationships and possible relationships are straight, I write him as completely heterosexual.
As in canon, Reed is played by actor Dominic Keating.
Canon states that Reed is repressed and shy around women. He’s also very competent at his job, possibly the most competent person behind T’Pol. Self-sacrificing to a fault, Reed is uncomfortable fraternizing with his captain, and feels that the relationship should remain at arm’s-length. Furthermore, Malcolm is afraid of water and is the ship’s chess champion.
So much for canon.
As I have written him, he also has a fondness for Scrabble and various word games and puzzles, enjoying competition but also working to improve his mind. He’s an avid reader (some of that reading is canon), and is particularly fond of Jane Eyre. Whether he sees himself as Rochester is yet to be determined.
A cautious lover and a natural pessimist, Malcolm is a bit afraid of rejection and has a bit of dysfunction at times. He keeps to himself, which tends to make relationships problematic at best. But when he meets someone and he likes her, he latches on rather quickly. However, at the beginning of much of my fanfiction (and in keeping with canon), he tends to fall for women who are either thoroughly inappropriate for him or are utterly unattainable, a fact that he acknowledges in Concord and Together, in particular.
As I write Malcolm, he has two major relationships which define him.
With Pamela, Malcolm feels he may be falling in love, but she pulls him back and tells him, no, you’re mistaken. He finds it freeing when he realizes that she’s right.
But Pamela also stretches his limits, and loosens him up. A part of that is due to her prowess and her proclivities. He finds himself enjoying a bit of naughty bedroom play, and participates in some, but not all of it. At the end of Intolerance they part, assuring each other that they will become, essentially, Friends with Benefits.
With Lili, the relationship is considerably stronger and more loving. Malcolm finds that he can be a lot freer with her than he has ever been with anyone before, even Pamela. He fulfills the destiny that was denied him in the original, canon E2 episode, and becomes a family man when Lili gives birth to Declan (Temper, Fortune). Initially, in Reversal, Lili is denied him, as she goes with Doug.
In later life, he and Lili marry, an event prepared for in Equinox and then shown in Fortune. Their later married life is briefly shown in The Rite.
Lili is also paired with him in the E2 stories I am currently writing. In one scenario, they have a daughter who they name Pamela Morgan. In another, in keeping with canon, they do not have children.
In Concord, Malcolm pines for Charlotte but never truly attempts to win her. Instead, seeing a picture of Lili after his encounter with Charlotte, Malcolm experiences an eerie sense of déja vu.
In Intolerance, it’s revealed that Malcolm is a gifted poet, so long as he has motivation. And Pamela provides that in spades. Malcolm’s medium of choice is Shakespearean sonnets. I have written him three for her, two for Declan (in Fortune) and one for Lili in the E2 stories. Here is my favorite, the second sonnet for Pamela –
A burning ember, burst to flame as kindred souls entwine and merge the knave, he could not be the same falling, ever falling over precipice and verge
Her face was fair, her mind was keen her body offered untold pleasure And yet her heart remained unseen — could the knave unlock this treasure? The Queen, she came down from above
She changed the knave, who did it all for love
Malcolm has a canon counterpart, who I
name Ian and kill off before Reversal. But Ian has a rather rich afterlife, particularly in Equinox and the E2 stories. I’ll cover him in a separate entry.
“It’s the stuff that makes up your life. You have allowed me to be a part of it. That’s almost as intimate as holding your body to mine, touching and kissing and looking at all of your, your secret places.”
For a canon character with a comparatively sketchy background, I’ve been happy to fill in the blanks. I hear his voice better than any of the other canon characters, except perhaps for Jay Hayes. A thousand stories can be told about Malcolm. I feel I have merely scratched the surface.