In response to both the Ad Astra paths not taken challenge and the Trek BBS independence challenge, I posted Bread, a story about the prime universe and mirror universe Leah Benson. Bread covers a lot of details and even includes a shout-out to the Daranaeans.
Temper hit 10,000 overall reads on March 18th. The next story that will get there is most likely going to be Fortune.
I continued working on The All-Stars. I also spent time on the Anthology.
I continued refining the timeline. I prepared works for the Anthology.
I also decided to overhaul my website, as I know that the jespah section is mainly a bunch of links, and that is harming my SEO efforts. Not to mention, it’s pretty dull. Hence I have begun the process of changing how links are presented, both there and on this blog. This will change not only the website side of things, it will also involve updating many of my preexisting posts. It will likely take months before I really make any significant headway.
This is probably, in some ways, avoidance behavior – I won’t have much time to work on the Barnstorming series for a while. But I think I am all right with that. I further feel that delaying that series will give me an opportunity to give it more details and interest. I have been going nonstop for almost two and a half years now. I am not stopping, plus I’ll probably continue answering challenges. But things are changing a bit. It’s all good.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
This month got busy as it’s 5K racing season again. I am also looking for more work, and that has heated up again recently. Plus, as I’ve already mentioned, I am changing things up on the website end of things.
I actually answered two prompts with this one. One was on Star Trek Logs, and it was concerning poverty. The other was on Ad Astra, and it was about the failures of technology. And so I hit upon a combination of the two, to be presented as a missing scene from the canon Catwalk episode.
My idea for Cobbled Together was that Malcolm would be miserable on the catwalk (that’s actually in Star Trek: Enterprise canon) and that there would be a poker game (also canon). However, in keeping with his canon love of pineapple, I wanted him to be lusting after a pack of fake pineapple cobbler.
It’s all he wants. It’s his tiny spot of normalcy amidst the chaos and stench of the place, not to mention some possible claustrophobia. As people ante up, Malcolm eyes the pineapple cobbler, which has been tossed in by the dealer, Security Crewman Tristan Curtis. Navigation Crewman Sophie Creighton and Hoshi look on as Malcolm and Tristan battle over a hand, until finally ….
I like the idea of Reed becoming slightly unhinged during the forced stay on the catwalk. He’s tired, he’s dirty, and he loves order, but it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket. For him, winning the fake pineapple cobbler is his only tenuous connection to normal life, and he seizes upon it desperately. I think the story turned out pretty well, and I was pleased to bring in a few below decks characters early, as they also show up in the E2 stories.
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 came closer, I found myself thinking about that day. I wanted, in particular, to write about women who had been pregnant at the time of the attack. The Breen attack on Earth seemed a good backdrop for that, plus it was a chance to learn about a part of Star Trek that I really didn’t know anything about. Therefore, I began with a story of a pregnant woman, and framed it against Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief.
Brassy and no-nonsense, Gina is overwhelmed when she learns that her husband, Michael, a Xenobotanist, has been instantly killed at his Beijing laboratory. She has been at home on Proxima Centauri, safe from the attack, but bereft all the same. Most of her story is told in Hold Your Dominion, although a portion is told in Wider Than the Sargasso Sea.
Keeping away the soldiers tasked with informing her of the death seems her only logical move. Of course that doesn’t bring Michael back; it just prolongs the moment of learning of his death.
On Andoria for a memorial service, Gina loses patience with just about everyone.
To get across the idea of bargaining, I had her haggle with a Ferengi merchant. Still on Andoria, and still being run ragged, she gets redbat at a decent price, particularly after a security officer intervenes.
Returning to Proxima, Gina is overwhelmed by smells and rudeness, but it all comes to a head when she sees the destroyed tree in her front yard. A symbol of her and Michael’s love, it was killed when a military shuttle landed on it and its inhabitants told her of her husband’s death. It’s all too much for her, and she spirals downwards.
Her first Christmas after Michael’s death is spent with her parents. She takes them to a crossing of streets that has been named Michael Nolan Square. A dedication plaque reads, “This square is dedicated to Xenobotanist Michael G. Nolan, born July first, 2341. Nolan died on October tenth, 2375, at his lab in Beijing, when the Breen attacked Earth. He left a wife and a daughter.”
Five years after the attack, Gina is seen being pulled along to look at artwork. Whose artwork? Her daughter’s. The children at Decker Elementary have all been told to draw something about the Breen attack. While there, they spot a lost child – a little Klingon girl who is a bit older than Gina’s daughter, Gabrielle. The girl, Freela, is crying for her father. When they are reunited, a ribbon is awarded for the best drawing in the first grade, and it goes to Freela. Gina suggests ice cream, and Freela’s father, Kittris, agrees.
As the grownups talk and the girls play, it becomes apparent that there might be a chance for something more than just a pleasant afternoon.
Ten years later, a milestone in Kittriss’s family is an occasion for Gina and Gabby to again try to fit in.
Five years afterwards, Gina is interviewed as a part of a commemoration of the attack, and she remembers Michael, but not with sadness.
The Next Generation
In Wider Than the Sargasso Sea, much of the action shifts to Gabrielle, but Gina is still there, still fighting, and is a part of a large mixed crowd protesting Breen moving into their neighborhood and, as that story begins, yells, “Breen, go home!”
He’s never seen alive, although I might write a flashback at some point. Their marriage was a decent one, but they worked on different planets, and that could not have been easy.
Originally, they’re drawn together by shared grief, but then it becomes something more. Together, they raise their daughters – and I often (albeit not actually in my fanfiction) refer to them as “The Klingon Brady Bunch”.
In the Mirror Universe, Gina is a Captain’s Woman, to Alexander Bashir (Bashir is mentioned in The Point is Probably Moot as being the captain of the ISS Molotov). But she does have a taste for Klingon men, and meets Kittress under very different circumstances, in Smash Your Dominion.
“It wasn’t meant to be fair, and that’s not just because of the Breen. It’s, in general. It’s never meant to be fair. It’s death, and while I think it holds account books, I also don’t kid myself. It’s not a simple equation. It’s not like we gathered all the bad people together, and then told the Breen to have at it. It’s not that. And it’s not God taking the most righteous or that kind of bull, either. It was just a bunch of people who drew the unlucky card that day. If I didn’t have my teaching job here, I would have been living in Beijing, too. And then Gabrielle and I would be gone, too.”
I think the Sargasso Sea story mainly wrapped up this story line, but I don’t know. Gina often surprises me, and she may yet do so again.
Spotlight on an Original Mirror Universe Condition – The Y Chromosome Skew
In order to explain as much as possible about the Star Trek mirror without having to continually launch into a lot of long, drawn-out explanations, I decided that the Mirror Universe would be, mainly, explained via a genetic mutation.
But the Mirror Universe is so close to our own that I wanted a fast-moving mutation, one that would run through the genome like a forest fire. This would rather neatly explain why things are close, but not quite, the same as conditions are here. After all, it’s canon that literature is similar but not the same (except for Shakespeare), and there are several mentionings of Roman times. How could I put it all together in a way that made sense scientifically without demolishing canon or making my own creative process more difficult?
In the mirror, Marcus had a genetic mutation (hereinafter referred to as the Y Chromosome Skew). As a result, he produced sperm that were about 75% XY (e. g. with the potential for creating sons) and 25% XX (with the potential for fathering daughters). The true ratio is a lot closer to 50-50. Marcus was drenched in testosterone and, as a result, was bigger and stronger than most men, too. He was also (and this is where fantasy truly takes its leave from reality) better-endowed than most men, and was a better lover. Hence Marcus had the following things going on with him:
He was constantly on the make for women, even though he was married. He had countless mistresses and dalliances with women in all levels of Roman society. He was just as likely to have sex with respectable matrons as with slave girls.
He was a good lover, so women sought to keep him. And, if they told their friends, those women also tried to make it with Marcus.
His sperm were stronger and more resilient than that of a normal man, so he was more likely to father a child if there was any chance of it at all. E. g. a woman could be two or three weeks away from ovulating, and there would still be a pretty decent chance of him impregnating her.
He was stronger, and could fight, so he could fend off rivals. And he was rarely too tired for sex, and could be described as “endlessly insatiable“.
He was also a good provider, working hard to support any known children, legitimate or not.
He was a good father, working to ensure the success of his offspring, and them reaching the age of maturity.
He passed the mutation on to all of his sons, without exception.
Immediate Effects of the Y Chromosome Skew
The two things that any genetic mutation needs to get a foothold are:
The creation of offspring with the mutation and
Those offspring being more likely to survive long enough to pass on the mutation.
The Y Chromosome Skew takes that to extremes. Marcus fathers dozens of children, by all sorts of women. He creates a boatload of genetic diversity, all by himself. He also works to assure the survival of his offspring. His children all inherit these tendencies from him, and even his daughters are more aggressive, particularly when it comes to optimal mate selection.
Long-Term Effects of the Y Chromosome Skew
By introducing a few dozen offspring with the skew, these sons fanned out across the Roman Empire. Just like Marcus, they were endlessly insatiable, but were also good providers and good fathers. As time went on, skewed males began to crowd out non-skewed males. They could fight for their women, and the women were much more likely to select them, anyway. While it is still possible in the 2150s to be a non-skewed male, the percentage is small, and the chances of those men passing along their genes are greatly diminished. José Torres does not have the skew, so if he is Arashi Sato‘s father, then Arashi does not have it, either, by definition. However, all of the Empress‘s other sons have it, even Jun.
Richard Daniels and the Skew
Why does Daniels have the skew? The shortest, easiest answer, is that he is a descendant of Doug Beckett. As Eleanor explains in Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain, Doug fathered five children on our side of the pond, and they all had a mixed radiation band. But what he also passed on was the skew. Two of his children, Joss and Neil, have children of their own (the other three do not reproduce), and each of those two sons has a son and a daughter. By the end of the events depicted in the prime timeline in Fortune, it’s known that at least Joss is a grandfather and the line will go on.
But as Eleanor explains, if you have a radiation band of less than 21 centimeters, and it’s before trans-universal crossovers became common (in 2762), then you’re guaranteed to be a descendant of Doug’s. And, because the Y Chromosome Skew is also prevalent, although Eleanor does not mention it in her little talk, it’s probable that you’ll carry the skew as well.
Societal Effects of the Skew
Society tips more in favor of hunting and warfare, and away from agriculture and peace. Artists become rather rare, and become valued. However, even though women become rarer, they are far less valued, and tend to be treated like dirt most of the time, even when Empress Hoshi is in charge of things. As a result, women’s roles are mostly subordinate. There are women on starships more because the men will all tear each other apart if there aren’t, as opposed to any other real reason. In Temper, in an alternate timeline, the Empress has forbidden all relationships except for her own, and every man is
theoretically supposed to be available to her. Some women, such as Lucy Stone, the Science Officer, and Shelby Pike, the pilot, have some status, but the vast majority of women are oppressed like Karin Bernstein, Blair Claymore, and Pamela Hudson, who exist as little more than playthings for José Torres.
The Skew and the Prime Universe
Although Doug brings the skew with him in 2158 when he crosses over from the Mirror Universe to here, the effects are different. For one thing, Doug is far less violent, and vows to Lili that he will no longer kill. He is as good as his word, and makes every effort to rein in his temper.
As for the genetic mutation itself, it just doesn’t have the same effect in our society, and a lot of that has to do with women. Unlike in the Mirror Universe, women have a far better place in society, and they fight to stay that way. And so, in our universe, Karin is in Tactical (and in the E2 stories, she gets command experience as well), and Blair and Pamela are doctors. Hence, one of the conditions for the Mirror Universe being the way it is just does not come about, e. g. women are not subjugated, or at least not because of that.
The Future of the Skew
With the skew becoming more and more a part of the Prime Universe in Richard’s time, it would appear that the Prime Universe would become more like the Mirror. But that is not likely, due to the position of women in our society. Our valuing of agriculture, cooking and gentleness will also keep us from becoming like the Mirror. And with Mirror Universe denizens crossing back and forth (as we will), it’s entirely possible that by, say, the fifth millennium (e. g. 4000 AD), we might find there are few differences between the Prime and Mirror Universes.
At least, that would be the case in my Star Trek fanfiction, if I ever write about a time that deep in history. And perhaps I might.
I wanted a bit of a dovetail story, where characters would behave in a manner that would prefigure the future. Furthermore, I wanted to give Jay Hayes a bit more personality. I actually had a bit of a cold and so I seized upon that idea, and wrote about what he’d be like if he had a small cold.
For Jay, who feels he needs to be in top condition all the time, a cold is a cause for secrecy. But he’s found out. A cough, and the problem is betrayed to the only other person in the hall. Fortunately for Jay, that person is Lili O’Day.
Lili promises a little Jewish penicillin to cure what ails Jay. But she extracts a promise out of him – in exchange for making chicken soup and keeping quiet about things, Jay must do one thing for her. He’s got to smile more.
2 eggs or one cup of room temperature egg beaters or the equivalent
1 Tablespoon of water
If the mixture is too crumbly and dry, add more oil and water, in more or less even proportions. If it seems too loose, add a little more matzoh meal. Mix together well. Cover and place into a refrigerator for 15 minutes.
While the mixture is cooling, heat up a small pot of salted water. Bring it to a boil and then allow to simmer. When the mixture’s time in the refrigerator is up, wet your hands and grab a handful of the mixture. A ping pong ball size is good. Shape into a ball and drop into the salted water. Bring the water back up to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.
Combining the Ingredients
Once the slow cooker is done, combine a serving (2 of the ping pong ball-sized matzoh balls and a cup of the soup) and heat them together in a microwave for 2 minutes on high. Make sure to store the matzoh balls and the soup separately, as otherwise the matzoh balls will absorb all of the liquid.
Garnish with parsely, or even curry, if you like. Serve with bread!
For the HG Wells Star Trek fanfiction series, I needed a bad guy who would, ultimately, do the right thing. In addition, I wanted him to have a chance to do this in an alternate timeline. In the prime timeline, he balks at what the bad guys are doing, but he never really gets a chance to prevent the temporal mischief from occurring.
Originally a musician, Anthony is troubled by the Perfectionists’ ways, as they cut a swath through history and attempt to change it for their own purposes without much thought of the consequences. Helen Walker is too much of a game player, Marisol Castillo is a psychopath, and Milton Walker is misguided. For Anthony, things are off.
Hence, he protests, and more than once. During Ohio, there is a secret voice-only meeting, and his is one of the voices. But he’s skeptical, questioning everything, and balking when the leader requests that the temporal force field technology be stolen from the Temporal Integrity Commission.
Because he’s refused to be a party to petty theft, he’s marked for death, and is murdered during that book, by Helen Walker. The means are that he was infected with Ebola virus (a prefiguring of the issues in You Mixed-Up Siciliano) and, while his body was trying to fight that, he was hit repeatedly by some sort of blunt force trauma, mostly from behind.
Almost as important is the fact that Parker has a tattoo mentioning Saint Eligius. Eligius is the patron saint of lots of things, including all manner of timepieces. Therefore, he is as close as you can come to a true patron saint of time. This ends up being a vital clue to the whereabouts of several Perfectionist operatives.
During that scenario, most of the human race is addicted to fortified wine. Anthony is a protestor, and he goes to the Saint Eligius ship in order to destroy casks (the Eligian order is the prime winemaking company), when his axe splinters a much larger box, containing one of the members of the Temporal Integrity Commission, the imprisoned Otra. Although Anthony meets his death in that timeline, too, at least he does the moral thing.
A focus (unlike a spotlight) is an in-depth look at a canon item and my twist(s) on it.
Of course, all of Star Trek fan fiction is like that, but the idea here is to provide a window into how a single canon concept can be used in fanfiction.
The species is canon, and they are normally shown as being obese, bearded men who enjoy hurling insults.
I don’t tamper with that.
However, my first questions were – what do their women look like? And, as importantly, they are (in canon) a founding member of the United Federation of Planets. So how the heck do they get along with everyone else?
In the two (so far) Mary Reed stories, Tellarites get a bit more of a look than they did in canon.
In Gainful, Mary gets her first-ever job outside of the home – answering fan mail for pop sensation Kurt Fong. But it’s not all glitz and glamour, as the Romulan War is going on. Kurt wants to be informed of any requests to entertain the troops, or provide visits or autographed pictures for the wounded. It’s up to Mary to get all of that to him in a timely manner.
One of her coworkers, Cympia Triff, is a Tellarite, and Mary initially isn’t sure whether that person is male or female. Furthermore, their boss, Ehigha Ejiogu, tells Mary that Cympia really wants to hear an insult, a fact that mortifies Mary a bit. They trade these unconventional pleasantries and Mary learns that Cympia (the computer programmer) is female. A small friendship, perhaps, is forming by the time the story ends.
In The Tribe, it’s the end of Mary’s first day, so she takes a commuter mag-lev train home. While riding through Southeast Asia, the train becomes stuck. A fellow commuter is in labor, and all of the men in the car flee for other cars save one – a young male Tellarite.
While they are difficult people, the truth is, plenty of humans are, too. The way I see Tellarites is a lot like a curmudgeonly relative. They may be hard-nosed and harsh on the outside, but inside, they really do care. I hope I’ll have occasion to showcase them some more, and I will in the upcoming Barnstorming series.
Together begins with Doug and Lili happy. It’s a direct sequel to Reversal, and they are living their dream. The first chapter makes it abundantly clear that they are where they need to be. There are little bumps in the road, but that’s life. So far, so good.
By the time we get to the second chapter, we learn that Jenny is getting married. Malcolm can bring a date, so he sends a note to Pamela, inviting her. Therefore, the astute reader should also understand that this is also a direct sequel to Intolerance.
Since there are no stories without conflict, and since a relationship such as Lili and Doug’s should be tested, the events are set into motion. And the main event is a massive kidnapping of humans.
The kidnapping is a chance to introduce two new original species, the Imvari and the Witannen. Furthermore, a third original species, the Zetal, are mentioned but they are not seen.
Ten humans are removed from the NX-01 (Lili and Doug are aboard as they are hitching a ride to Jenny and Frank‘s wedding). Because the Witannen want them to interbreed, the group consists of five men and five women, and they are separated into couples, namely –
Lili and Malcolm – the idea is to play off Malcolm’s earlier attraction to Lili and also counterpoint her issues with Doug.
Doug and Melissa – here, Doug’s frustrations with Lili are balanced with Melissa’s bisexuality, e. g. this is an area where Leonora cannot fulfill what her partner needs.
Jonathan and Deborah – for him, it’s a chance to have someone to protect. For her, it’s the fulfillment of a long-term crush.
Tripp and Hoshi – this combination plays off their friendship and also is an answer to endless Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction about Tucker and T’Pol.
Jennifer and Travis – for her, it’s appalling as she is about to be married. For him, he’s with the hottest woman on the ship, and she is so horribly damaged that it’s no fun for them at all.
This is not to mention the other couples in the story, from before, during and after the captivity. Plus, what happens with Pamela? Stay tuned.
The story is loaded with music as characters come together and break apart throughout. Every major character has his or her own song, and couples share songs, too.
Jennifer – by herself, her song is the Cult’s Fire Woman. With Frank, it’s Maroon 5’s This Love. Their wedding song (and this is the song played at any wedding where Jenny is a bride), is Dusty Springfield’s I Only Wanna Be With You.
Brian and Yimar’s song together is Michael Jackson’s PYT.
The story isn’t a musical, per se, but there is so much pertinent music that it practically could be.
The story, in some ways, ended up an exploration of not only relationships but also of our mores as a society. What do we accept from people? What do we expect them to do when the chips are down? People in the story make good decisions, and they make some terrible ones as well. Fallout does not stop just because you wish it all away, and the fights are harsh because it’s the people who love you – and know you better than anyone – who can truly hurt you if they really want to.
I put the rating at T, with the racier version on Ad Astra at M.
The story goes in a bunch of different directions, and it was to tie up loose ends up and then create any number of others in order to generate more plot ideas, including the idea for Temper, a story that really doesn’t work without Together as its foundation. Furthermore, any number of other overall plot elements don’t work, or can’t work as well without it.
In many ways, it is a centerpiece story, and many other tales hang off it, either as sequels or as prequels or in conjunction with it. Aside from Reversal, it’s also the most read of my stories, and for good reason, as it helps the reader to understand so much more of my overall story line. Plus, I think it’s just a good, complicated tale.
This character is, of course Star Trek: Enterprise canon, and is present on the ship throughout its entire time in outer space, e. g. 2151 – 2161. During the run of the series, he was not explored too well and, by the third and fourth seasons, the actor and the character often had little to do.
Affable and curious, Travis is more of an adventurer and an explorer than the others. A part of this is due to his age, but also due to the fact that he’s spent nearly his entire life in space. He’s already had his “firsts”.
The way I write him, he can have some melancholy, particularly in the context of Together. But things start out differently. In Party on Risa (a missing scene from the canon episode, Two Days, Two Nights), he dances with a mysterious alien woman (savvy readers should recognize that this is a full-blooded Witannen). In The Puzzle, he’s kidnapped for an odd alien experiment that makes him question existence and think philosophically, beyond his normal understanding. Ultimately, he enjoys the experience, and even makes a few new friends.
In Reversal, he’s sympathetic and is willing to give Doug a chance. He also has his fun, particularly in Intolerance, as it is initially his idea to compete with Tripp and Malcolm for the female medical students. Originally, there are assignments (they change the game later, when it’s determined that there are two, rather than three women, as they had originally thought), and he is “assigned” to Blair Claymore.
But melancholy isn’t far behind. Together turns out rather badly for him, as he and Jennifer do not get along and he eventually fears a bit for his job. In Temper, in the alternate timeline, Malcolm reveals that Travis died at impact when a shuttle crashed (and Malcolm himself became permanently injured as Tripp and Hoshi died fighting).
Hijinks return briefly in Broken Seal, when he is an accomplice when the movie is altered.
This canon relationship takes place during E2 and I do not tamper with it. With Julie, Travis is free and easy. They have a good relationship. For both kick backs in time, they have a son, who they name after Travis’s brother, Paul.
This isn’t much of a relationship as they are thrown together during the events of Together. It isn’t until Fortune that the reader learns that Jennifer emerged from that experience pregnant. Whether she lost the baby via miscarriage or abortion remains unknown, and Travis concedes the point and will not ask.
During the events of Reversal, Shelby gives Travis an apple (as is depicted in Apple, a missing scene story). He realizes she wants a serious relationship, but he knows he isn’t in the right place to commit to her, and it would be unfair. But rather than tell her, he rather immaturely runs off. Lili ends up chasing after him, demanding that he apologize. As for Shelby, at some point after this, she ends up with José for a while, but she and Travis have the potential to start up during Fortune. Given the events of Day of the Dead, it appears that this relationship doesn’t go anywhere.
When Travis finally does marry, it’s to Ellen Warren. Ellen is mentioned in Day of the Dead – she and Travis have just met. But Travis is always on the road, and Ellen is stuck with the house and the dog (they do not have children). It all comes to a head in Equinox, when Travis realizes he’d better retire as Ellen is giving him an ultimatum – space or me. Because the Bluebird is detained, it’s highly likely that Travis and Ellen divorce as she has had it with him, and with Starfleet.
I have so much on him that this will be a separate post.
“Maybe a kiss will be a thrill for her. It’s just one kiss. Hey, you never know.”
This character was grossly underutilized during the series run, and I admit I don’t use him enough, either. It often seems that some characters just don’t get a lot of air time, and Travis is one of those characters. In my fiction, he gets a lot more airtime in the Mirror Universe. It’s tough for me to give him more justice, as she doesn’t really fit into my main family (O’Day-Beckett–Hayes-Reed-MacKenzie–Ramirez-Crossman-Sato etc.), but Ellen certainly fits into the Warren-Parker family. He may yet get more ink.