The month started off with the holidays winding down and a new quarter starting. Both of these meant more regular work.
The Trek United Adult Trek Anthology was posted! It was terrific fun to write and edit, and everyone was wonderful to work with. We will do it again for 2013. It garnered over 80 impressions on the first day alone!
On Ad Astra, I answered my own challenge about family with A Gathering, which takes place in the JJ Abrams-Eriecho universe. That isn’t even a series yet, although it probably should be by now.
Plus I added a new little Daranaean story about Inta II, called Confidence. I added a prime universe-mirror universe story about Aidan and Susan, called The Pivot Point. The Puzzle and The Pivot Point were added to In Between Days context.
So I then began what I’ve been referring to as the E2 stories with the first of four books, Reflections Down a Corridor. I added a short story (in response to a prompt about Trek technology) with a Richard Daniels Times of the HG Wells prequel story, Marvels, about his encounter with Irene of Castile. So I also placed that story into HG Wells context. I answered the politics challenge with Voice of the Common Man.
The read total numbers for Reversal and Together continue climbing. Intolerance exceeded 10,000 overall reads on January 7th. Temper has fewer overall reads but has received more attention at Ad Astra than Intolerance has. Oddly enough, the opposite is true at Trek United. Temper will be the next one to hit 10,000 overall reads, but that will take a bit longer, possibly a few more months if current trends hold.
The two Issuu documents with the most reads (both with over 1,000 and climbing) are Freak School (located within HFO 1.0) and Freak School 2 – Report Card (located within HFO 2.0). These are somewhat understandable as they are earlier releases and neither is rated MA, which means that readers do not need to register (or log in with Facebook Connect) to view the documents. The MA rating on Issuu is a true hindrance to read counts.
I am continuing to work on and research the Barnstorming series. This is the sports series I have been kicking around. Plus I also created a story for the current Ad Astra prompt, which is about politics.
I prepared Twitter fodder for the entire calendar year. This helps when I’ve got nothing new to tweet about; it’s already there. This blog also feeds directly to Twitter. Hence it adds a new entry every Tuesday and every Friday, so long as I update the blog, of course.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
This month contained not one, but two trips to see my family. While I can type on the laptop (including on the train), the noise and the conditions aren’t exactly conducive to creativity.
I’m a married woman, and have been so for over two decades. It was natural, to me, for my marriage to creep into my writing a bit.
Oh, the marriage proposal! It’s an occasion for romance and solemnity, but sometimes some silliness as well. In A Kind of Blue, Lili‘s unexpected pregnancy means that Doug drops to one knee when he drops the testing stick – and then he pops the question. In Truth, Bron works hard to convince Sophra’s parents that he will provide for her and love her, and that he won’t physically hurt her, seeing as he’s a Gorn and she’s a Cardassian.
The E2 stories in particular show tons of weddings. Captain Archer is nearly always the officiant, and so he has to learn all sorts of ceremonies.
Because Chandrasekar Khan is Hindu and Hoshi Sato is a lapsed Buddhist, he may have conducted some sort of combined ceremony for them as well, but neither version is shown. He also conducts a Vulcan ceremony for Tripp and T’Pol, but that is only shown for the first kick back in time and not the second.
Cultural traditions or at least something from the Bible (often the Old Testament, and that’s only because I’m more familiar with it) are also inserted into a lot of these ceremonies. For Karin and Josh, for example, it’s the story of Ruth.
In A Kind of Blue, Lili and Doug marry in the more or less traditional Calafan style. This includes not only the two of them standing up and saying vows, but they are accompanied by required attendants. Treve and Miva aren’t exactly Best Man and Maid of Honor. Rather, they are meant to symbolize the openness of those marriages.
In Together, when they decide to open up their marriage to Malcolm and Melissa (and, by extension, Leonora), they copy the Calafan style of doing things. That is, there is a primary daytime male-female twosome union, and a pair of nighttime lovers – one for him, one for her. This arrangement, and the traditional Calafan way of doing things, are both possible because of the psionic properties of the entire Lafa System. With shared dreaming that can often become steamy, married couples can have a second relationship and almost “cheat” but with far fewer consequences. For the Calafans, the cheating aspect was eliminated by keeping the Mirror Universe Calafans on their own side of the proverbial pond. But when the Mirror teenaged High Priestess Yimar decides to throw open the door permanently (it was opened a crack in order to let Doug through to the Prime Universe), things get a bit stickier. The Calafan people initially adapt because interbreeding is impossible between Mirror and Prime Universe Calafans (although it’s possible between Mirror and Prime Universe humans). However, by the time of Richard and Eleanor Daniels‘s births, interbreeding is possible (they are both part-human from both universes, part-Vulcan, and part-Calafan from both universes). I have not yet explored how the Calafan people handled this final barrier being brought down between the two universes.
For Daranaeans, marriage is a commercial affair, as wives from three separate castes are purchased by their husbands. Divorce does not exist; wives are merely sold to others if they are found wanting. Or third caste females are given over for medical experimentation.
Seppa’s life changes when she is sold to Brantus to be his third caste wife. But they love each other, and are a good match, as he is with his two other wives, Anatha and Raelia, in Flight of the Bluebird.
Seppa’s mother, Inta, dies as a result of domestic abuse, and the secondary wife, Mistra, is very nearly convicted of the murder of her unborn male fetus, in Take Back the Night. It is the Prime Wife, Dratha, who helps to get Mistra exonerated.
And in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, the secondary wife, Libba, and the third caste wife, Cama, are not treated well at all by the Prime Wife, Thessa. The triangular dynamic works in her favor but against the two of them.
There are any number of between the sheets moments for married couples that are covered in many of the stories, particularly in Together and Fortune. In You Make Me Want to Scream, Keiko Ishikawa O’Brien reveals that things with Miles are very, very good. Married people having a good time are also all over the E2 stories, including two instances of characters (one male, one female) losing their virginity.
There’s more to marriage than weddings and sex. There are homes and families to be dealt with. In Pacing and The Gift, Doug works on making a home for Lili. That home is being added to in Temper. In Fortune, Malcolm realizes he needs to do something similar. However, because he’s less mechanically inclined and isn’t around as much, he doesn’t help build the home, whereas Doug helps build his own house, as is revealed in Together.
Children aren’t a part of every single marriage, but when they are, they are of course a huge part of any couple’s (or group’s) life. Tumult covers some of the ways that children can change the dynamic. And older children, as in An Announcement, can change it again.
Later Years, to Death and Beyond
Marriages with longevity mean that people experience each other’s inevitable declines. In A Single Step, Zefram Cochrane and Lily Sloan Cochrane quite literally depart at death, as do Doug, Lili and Malcolm in Fortune. In Candy, Kevin O’Connor is the main caregiver for Josie (Jhasi), his critically ill wife. To honor their marriage, he takes her to renew their wedding vows. Jonathan and Miva are shown in later years in A Hazy Shade.
The E2 stories contain a few calls for divorce, and one during the first kick back in time is conducted by the Captain, between Mara Brodsky and Robert Slater. The cause is adultery – hers – as there is a child who clearly is not Robert’s, and turns out to be the son of Star Trek: Enterprise canon character Walter Woods, who she later marries. In the second kick back in time, this is avoided when Mara and Walter marry and Robert, instead, marries Ingrid Nyqvist. In Together, Lili and Doug fight bitterly and consider divorce, but ultimately decide against it, particularly to protect not only their love but also their son, Joss.
People don’t just ride off into the sunset. And I prefer it that way. They have lives and arguments and privacy violations and sicknesses and sorrows. But they also have kindness, sexiness, togetherness and some pretty profound joys. It doesn’t have to be in the context of marriage, and sometimes it isn’t. But for the characters who do get married, I hope I’ve done their unions some justice.
I wanted a MACO who would be, at times, a bad guy, or a guy with some pretty hard luck. Star Trek: Enterprise canon didn’t really cover that, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t cover it in fanfiction. Enter Gary Hodgkins, who first shows up in Intolerance.
I wanted him to be fairly young and perhaps a decent-looking guy who has a lot of bad things happen to him – many deserved, both in our universe and in the mirror. Bad things can happen!
Duty-bound but sometimes difficult, Gary follows along in the mischief that Dan Chang often finds himself getting into. It isn’t until the end of his life in the first E2 kick back, and during the second, that he finally becomes a decent person. In the prime universe’s prime timeline, he doesn’t really get a chance (in Intolerance, he becomes permanently disfigured and disabled, and is forced to leave active Starfleet service). He’s often paired with Tristan Curtisas they are friends and sometimes, quite literally, partners in crime.
Because Gary dies young during the first kick back in time (and he has behaved rather badly), he has no relationship then. But in the second kick back, he and Sophie wed. Little is known about their relationship but there’s a lot on their descendants.
Their grandson Richard marries Jolene Tucker, T’Pol and Tripp‘s (and Susie Money and Mario Lattimer’s) granddaughter. Jolene and Richard’s twins, Stephen and Stephanie, are married (respectively) to Marie Helêne Archer (granddaughter of Jonathan, Esilia, Lili, and José) and Connor Greer IV, who is the father of canon character Greer (although that character did not have a canon first name or even a first initial).
Gary has numerous issues in the mirror universe. He is seen in Coveted Commodity, loyally guarding the Empress in Sick Bay and spelling trouble for Travis.
In Temper, in the first temporal dislocation, he loses his life with a lot of other people from both universes when the Luna is destroyed in a head-on collision with the Bluebird.
In the second temporal dislocation, he dies during a Calafan slave revolt. And in the correct Mirror Universe timeline, he is falsely accused (as is Tristan Curtis) and is executed for helping Chip and Lucy get away with the Empress’s twin children, Takara and Takeo.
“The captain, when he told us all about it, he said he hoped it wasn’t due to a lack of trust. I mean, I can see how it could be really upsetting. He married an Ikaaran woman the last time out. To know that she kept something that big from him, I mean, that’s gotta be hard.”
I’m not so sure where I can go with Gary, as he’s got to be off the ship (the nature of his disability means that he’s got to fly a desk). But there’s no reason why he can’t be seen before Intolerance, or in an office or civilian capacity otherwise.
I wanted a story that would nicely bridge between Star Trek: Enterprise canon and the beginning of both E2 kick backs in time. There was a prompt about going AWOL, so the opportunity presented itself, and I decided to dovetail with the canon Hatchery episode.
Heroes and Villains
There have been so many slash stories written about Major Hayes, it’s not funny. But I have never seen him as gay, so I wanted to riff on that a bit, and see what it would be like for Hayes to be mistakenly confronted with homosexuality. Furthermore, I wanted the person doing the confronting to be nasty about it. It wouldn’t be a little question, gently asked. Instead, it would be accusatory. It would be like an inquisition. In short, I wanted it to be like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The story opens with Corporal Daniel Chang combing his hair and otherwise getting ready for an assignation with Sandra Sloane. He’s guarded T’Pol, and he’s fine with that, but then he’s asked to guard her again and he decides he’s had enough. Ignoring Hayes’s orders, he instead goes to Sandra’s quarters, and is close to the door but hasn’t hit the chime or knocked yet.
Hayes, nearby, calls him by name and tells him to report to the galley for KP duty as a punishment. Lili and Jennifer are walking by, and they see what’s happening, so they turn to go a different way. They come back quickly, though, when they hear the sound of fabric being torn.
It’s a quick story, with fewer than 800 words, but I feel it nicely conveys what I wanted. I had to establish Chang and Sloane as problem children before either kick back in time, and I think Demotion does that.
Oh, the press! I suppose I have a bit of a love-hate set of feelings for them. However, they are, of course, necessary in a democracy. Yet they can be awfully intrusive. I well recall reading about Princess Diana’s death, from a car crash after a chase (and horribly hounding) by paparazzi.
So I’m kind of ambivalent when it comes to the Fourth Estate.
In Soldiers’ Marriage Project, and in Flight of the Bluebird, Rona is gossipy. It’s her job; she’s a gossip columnist. She is also over the top. However, she’s sensitive to people, and doesn’t take advantage of her sources and connections, and doesn’t belittle anyone except for her third ex-husband, Maurizio D’Angelo. And she even apologizes to him at the end of Flight of the Bluebird.
He is a Daranaean reporter, seen in Take Back the Night. Keeping with that species’ sexist ways, he mainly asks the crew of the NX-01 about their marital statuses and whether they have children. He gets a bit of a shock to learn that Erika Hernandez is a captain. He’s also shocked that Jonathan has never married, Malcolm is a father but isn’t married to Lili, and Phlox has three wives who each have three husbands. Lucy is another bit of a shock for him, that she is unmarried, has a daughter and she’s the one working, whereas her ex is the one at home taking care of their daughter.
Craethe reports on Mistra’s trial, back to an unnamed anchorman in the studio. There is also a nameless field reporter who reports on the protests that go on outside the trial. He even meets the Alpha’s Prime Wife, Dratha, and comments on her smell (e. g. her beauty) rather than her intelligence.
In Reflections Down a Corridor, she is seen reporting on the news from 2037, including a sideline interview with one Corporal Phillip Green.
No doubt there will be more reporters and newscasters in my Star Trek fan fiction’s future, as the news, and the free reporting thereof, are an essential (yet sometimes abrasive) element in any democracy.
Rona Moran (excuse me, Verona Linda Moran Dodd Fisher D’Angelo Sherwood) is played by real-life gossip columnist Cindy Adams.
Larger than life and overly
dramatic, Rona is every bit the air-kissing celebrity watcher. She’s been married (and divorced) four times, and occasionally digs at her third ex, Maurizio. She has a British background.
She seems as if she’s very shallow. But the truth is, she isn’t.
In Soldiers’ Marriage Project, she reveals that she’s in charge of a charitable trust that provided all the trappings of a group wedding for 1,000 couples where both members were going off to war. The charity provided all sorts of things, including celebrity waitstaff like actress Alyssa McKenna and shortstop Lefty Robinson. Food and hotel rooms were donated, and rings were provided at cost.
As a reporter, Rona concentrates on one couple, as the huge ceremony is otherwise far too overwhelming. And the story she tells about them is sweet, full of hope for their new life together.
Because of her understanding, Jonathan Archer seeks her out during Flight of the Bluebird in order to dispel a rumor, and it’s revealed that Malcolm and Lili talked to her when the Cochrane was launched as they had had to explain their arrangement in a way that would be understood by the free and open press and would not tank Malcolm’s career.
She’s got four ex-husbands, but only the third one, Maurizio D’Angelo, is ever mentioned in any detail (the others are, in order, Dodd, Fisher and Sherwood. Dodd and Fisher are two of Elizabeth Taylor‘s real-life husbands, and Sherwood is a shout-out to HG Wells character Crystal Sherwood). In Flight of the Bluebird, Rona is a lot kinder when mentioning him.
“I want you all to know, darlings, that there is nothing greater in the galaxy than love. The love in this family is self-evident. As for my exes, you all know, darlings; that I have spoken less than kindly of them in the past. But to all of them and, particularly, to my third ex-husband, Maurizio D’Angelo, I want to apologize. At the very least, in the name of the love that we once shared, I do hope that you can forgive me, Maurizio. And for my part, whether or not forgiveness is forthcoming, I swear to you I will not belittle you again.”
I have been trying to find a way to give this rather unique character more air time. She’ll be back, darlings!
The performing arts are canon. In Star Trek: TOS and TNG, members of the crew put on plays and the like in amateur productions, or characters go to shows. In VOY, characters might see a show on the holodeck, or even participate.
Then in the E2 stories, there’s nothing different and exciting to do a lot of the time outside of work, so the characters think up some entertainments.
In the E2 stories, the characters play a baseball game. As a means of opening the game, and to fill in the Seventh Inning stretch, Captain Archer finds a singer. Meredith Porter is an Engineering crewman and an older woman, almost as old as Lili. For the game, she sings America the Beautiful and Take Me Out to the Ballgame.
In the Romulan War story, Soldiers’ Marriage Project, a performance is not seen, but it is referenced – pop sensation Kurt Fong and soprano Rosumund Taylor sing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Fong shows up again, or, rather, the team responsible for answering his fan mail, in Gainful.
Lili also sings, but she’s not a professional. In Together, she sings O Pato to Joss. Then in Temper, she sings Arroz con Leche to Tommy. In Fortune, she sings La Petite Poule Grise to Declan. And in the E2 stories, she sings Maria Elena to, of course, Maria Elena, and reprises Arroz con Leche, but sings it to the infant Valleri Rostov.
Aside from Shelby Pike, who had been a ballerina before she joined Starfleet, no one else is a professional. However, in Together, it’s revealed that Jennifer and Frank are particularly good. In Fortune, Malcolm gives Lili dancing lessons as a wedding gift.
In the E2 stories, people dance all the time, either at weddings or at various parties. Because Jenny is paired with Aidan, the pairing isn’t quite as good, evoking the fact that she’s not with the right person. Aidan’s no dancer. He mainly just facilitates her movements. First dates and early explorations of feelings are also expressed through dance, particularly between lonely male crew members and Ikaaran women in both of the kickbacks in time.
Actress Alyssa McKenna is mentioned in Soldiers’ Marriage Project, but she isn’t acting. Instead, she’s serving food for a charity.
Playing a Musical Instrument
In the E2 stories, Rex Ryan entertains everyone by playing guitar. He has a somewhat limited repertoire and mainly plays songs like This Land is Your Land. However, when he gets together with Meredith, and when she is pregnant with his child, they team up. He plays and she sings Danny’s Song (although in both kickbacks, they name their son Nicholas).
Philip Digiorno is a professional violinist. In An Announcement, he’s shown as a young man, and practices a mazurka while Leonora and Alex, his two younger siblings, listen in.
Historical professional musicians are seen in the HG Wells stories on several occasions, and time traveler HD Avery is tasked with fixing a lot of musical missions, most of which have to do with assuring a musician’s death. However, he also works to assure that the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album is released. Other professional musicians seen in the series include Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper (JP Richardson), members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. Cobain and the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd have no lines, however.
Stand Up Comedy
While no one is an actual professional, Chip Masterson dreams of his moment of performing stand up in a little comedy club on Risa, where the audience is mainly composed of appreciative Orion slave girls.
Where the characters go, sometimes entertainment follows in their wake. I know I’ll show more plays, songs and dances as more stories are written.
Hunting is Star Trek: Enterprise canon, and occurs during a visit to a so-called “rogue planet” where Eska hunters are seeking a creature that turns out to be sentient. Oops.
However, I didn’t want hunting to be too easy. Plus I wanted Doug to be more of a skilled hunter, and not just a blind shooter. Hence, when he hunts game (with or without Melissa, and with or without Calafan friends), he uses a phase bow.
Much like a standard bow and arrow, a phase bow, instead, uses phased energy rectification (much like a canon phaser itself does), but the resultant emissions are pulses almost like what particle weapons emit. Arrows are, of course, unnecessary.
Phase bows come in several sizes. In Temper, it’s revealed that there’s a smaller size for women. In Fortune, it’s revealed that the phase bow that Doug uses is huge, and is too heavy for Melissa to lift by herself, even though she is rather physically strong. There is even a child’s version available.
The use of the weapon is accompanied by a distinctive thwack sound, as small bursts of greenish light are propelled to their marks.
Aiming is possible either by eye or by using settings on the device. The image to the right is not intended to be an actual phase bow; it’s just a bow image. I imagine a real phase bow would have dials and switches and the like, so as to change the settings for different-sized game, daylight versus nocturnal and any number of other modifications and options.
When Doug and Melissa use phase bows, they are seen bringing down either linfep or perrazin. So far, I have not written any scenes of anyone bringing down an elekai with a phase bow. However, those very large birds would normally require a lot of work to be dispatched, whether with a phase bow or any other type of weaponry.
In the E2 stories, there are no phase bows, so procul are dispatched with phase rifles.
I’m not so sure I’ll have too many other occasions to show hunting. And not every hunter likes going old school. But I love the idea of a phase bow, and that it fairly seamlessly combines very old technology with the very new. Frankly, I’m surprised that no one else in Star Trek fanfiction seems to come up with it.
Portrait of a Character – Declan Charles (D. R.) Reed
After watching the canon E2 episode for the first time, I began to think – hey, that’s unfair. Malcolm should have had someone. In a lot of ways, that’s why I write him the way I do, particularly with Lili and particularly with the failed connection in Reversal and then the achieved one in Together. And then when I wrote Temper, I hit upon the ending as it dovetailed with the plot. And that’s how Declan came to be. Even his first birthday is celebrated, in All You Need is Love.
For Declan, I wanted someone with
the coloring of Lili and the rest would be more or less Malcolm. A British actor would be a bonus. Hence I decided on Paul Bettany.
I also think he’s done some interesting, smart work. It’s not just his face that I see in my Star Trek fanfiction.
Artistic and introverted, Declan is the shyest of the Beckett-Digiorno-Madden children. Even though Neil (and, eventually, Kevin) are younger, it’s Dec who’s the one left bringing up the rear. As a result, Marie Patrice in particular sometimes turns away and gives him a bit of a cold shoulder. This is taken to its extreme in Temper, where she essentially sees him as a weakling. In the Mirror Universe, of course, that means she treats him like something she’d wipe off her shoe. In Joss‘s case, that means he’s more protective of Declan.
In Fortune, some of Marie Patrice’s antagonism is still shown; it seems she had it all along but the Mirror really brought it out.
In Fortune, Q reveals that only two of the children ever marry. One is Joss; the other is Declan. But it ends badly with Pamela Hudson‘s niece (Louise is also Cyril Morgan‘s grand-niece), and there are reportedly a lot of court filings. I haven’t written beyond the barest of bones about the divorce, so it’ll be fodder for some future story.
It isn’t until a lot later in life that Dec meets Rebecca. Or, rather, he meets her again, for, in The Rite, they have met. But in that story, Dec is a young man and Rebecca is still a child.
After Lili and Malcolm’s deaths, Declan goes to Europe to study the great artists. This includes going to Giverny to look at Monet’s water lilies. He also heads to England (he had attended school there, and so he has Malcolm’s Leicester accent) and Rome. In England, he meets up with Rebecca, and a romance develops.
After returning, she becomes a part of the family and even gets a tattoo identical to the ones sported by Marie Patrice, Jia Sulu Beckett, Ines Ramirez and Yinora. And then they marry, and have two sons, Peter and Stuart. Rebecca is the love that Declan has waited a lifetime for. In Completely Hers, he asks Tommy if he knows of a rabbi so that he (Declan) can convert to Judaism, as a prelude to marrying Rebecca.
During the events of Temper, Declan is so mistreated that his music is The Cure’s Why Can’t I Be You? The title, most likely, refers to Joss rather than Tommy, although both are stronger than he is. But it’s Joss who’s compassionate.
Declan doesn’t have a mirror counterpart. However, like the other living offspring (except for Neil), he ends up in the Mirror Universe anyway, during Temper.
And that’s a bad situation for him.
While Marie Patrice makes friends with Takara Masterson Sato, Joss shows promising talent in baseball and Tommy works hard to become a Mirror soldier, Declan flounders and is often left behind by the others. Joss takes it upon himself to be Dec’s protector.
Dec is more delicate than the others, and he’s more sensitive, too. He can’t seem to get any traction. It doesn’t help that Tommy and Marie Patrice more or less fully embrace Mirror life, and reject him. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that Lili doesn’t even know him. But then again, given the odd temporal displacements in that story, she hasn’t had the chance to. And because the others refer to him rather pejoratively as “DR“, she doesn’t even realize he’s hers.
“I just want to look at your smile close up.”
I wanted an artistic character, and I wanted one for whom love wasn’t easy. After all, Lili and Malcolm and Doug (and even Jay and José) all wait a long time before taking the plunge but, once they do, it’s easy. For Declan, it’s not so simple.
I like this character. I’m sure I’ll write more about him.