Spotlight – Witannen in Star Trek Fan Fiction

Witannen

Background

Witannen were a fun creation. Back when I was writing a non-Star Trek time travel series, I had an idea for an alien who would be helping the group.

She would be a member of the first species ever to make contact with humans, and her name would be Otra (she didn’t get a last name until later), and she would be the girlfriend of the leader of the group, the rather non-charismatic Levi Cavendish. She was supposed to be a bit out of proportion to humans, in that she’d have longer legs than we normally do. Otra would also be a light lavender color.

Things have changed

About the only thing she really had which transferred over to what became the Witannen (Wit-ah-nin) is that her hair would be replaced with green vines that would move independently of her. She would be unable to control the vines, and they would be in some sort of a symbiotic relationship with her. The species did not have a name, but their first contact had been preceded by an odd form of prepping the Earth for their arrival – they had sent broadcasts for a good year beforehand, including a popular soap opera. Hence when the aliens arrived in that older series, they were more or less known to humans, and were famous.

Then the species was added to my Star Trek fan fiction, and it got even more interesting.

What Happened to the Witannen

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Otra | Witannen
Otra, a half-Wittanen. Drawing by SL Walker.

When I began writing Together, I wanted a villain who would be more of a business person than an actual evil being. Ferengi had already been seen in canon Enterprise, so I felt that would be a bit much, to have a second encounter with the Ferengi, without that name being known in the Starfleet database.

Hence they were out. I remembered my strange alien, so I performed some modifications on her.

First, the character in Together would not be Otra at all, who I reserved for a time travel series, Times of the HG Wells. But I really liked the idea of having the character be female, so I created Quellata (Kell-uh-tuh) instead. Quellata would be full-blooded, whereas Otra would be half-human, and so she would get a surname.

Differentiation

To differentiate between the full and half, I decided that full-blooded Witannen would have little vestigial wings. It isn’t until Multiverse II that it becomes clear that Otra just has long lines on her back, where her wings would have been.

The wings would be vestigial, far too small to propel anyone. Hence Quellata would be grounded, and the wings would be more decorative than anything else. This also made it possible for her to wear more or less recognizable clothing.

The proportions were also corrected for human sizes, so that a human actor could conceivably ‘play’ a Witannen. I also dropped the idea of a light lavender complexion, preferring to make them a little less alien in exchange for making them an easier species to picture an actor or actress playing.

Characteristics

A bit brittle, with a superiority complex, Witannen are from the Delta Quadrant. They have good reason to feel good about themselves, as they’ve had Warp Drive for centuries. This makes it easier to look down at Johnny-come-lately species like humans. Quellata refers to her human captives as slime molds, but then again, she’s nasty to everyone.

Their language divides into formal and conversational, both written and oral. Witannen writing is unknown, but their speech is a click language, much like Khoisan and Xhosa on Earth. Their species name does not have a plural, e. g. one Witannen, two Witannen. I’m not sure if I’ll give them any plurals.

Like humans and Vulcans, they are monogamous. And like Vulcans, their pregnancies last longer than ours do.

Business

A lot of them have heads for business. Apart from Quellata, Otra’s own mother, Chefra, also works in the commercial realm, as a dealer in star ship parts. Otra herself is more of a philosopher and missions specialist. An opera singer, a male named Paj Terris, is briefly mentioned in the HG Wells stories.  The only other Witannen I have written so far is Adeel, a female athlete in the upcoming Barnstorming series.

The other main characteristic of Witannen is their symbiotic chavecoi (chah-vuh-COY), which evolved from being vines to being more like flowers. They can change color with mood, a fact that makes them rather inconvenient. A Witannen would make a lousy spy. The chavecoi also drink some water on occasion. Hence a character like Otra will sip tea while her chavecoi will dip into a nearby glass of water. The chavecoi are alarmed by caffeine if they accidentally taste tea or coffee, and they can become drunk if they intake alcohol. Their purpose is survival; in the event of a drought, they can photosynthesize in order to keep their host alive. Further, according to Multiverse II, they can be adversely affected by radiation, but they can be cured (as can their host) by stem cell growth accelerator.

Upshot

I loved creating them, but the best-realized character is Otra, by far. How well-realized will the others ever become? I don’t know, or maybe another character will be created, perhaps another male.

The species will return, particularly as I continue to explore the Otra-Levi dynamic, but I’m not so sure about going beyond that, as of the writing of this blog post.

14 thoughts on “Spotlight – Witannen in Star Trek Fan Fiction”

  1. Ah the origins of our dear Otra and her species. It has to be said, one very cool and intriguing species. Of course, often the key to making a species intriguing and cool is to introduce the species via a marvelous character who hooks the reader. In the Multiverse, Otra certainly did that. The other side of that equation is that the character is not a full representation of the species or a mere cookie cutter blue print for future incarnations. A character like Ortra highlights the species but shines above the make up of her DNA too to be a fully realized person in her own right.

    One of the aspects I love most about the Witannen however is their symbiotic relationship with the chavecoi. I love having that dynamic to play off a character, a representation of the inner emotions or a possible conflict such as with a Joined Trill or indeed the mannerisms and quivering gestures of the chavecoi are akin in ways to the antennae of Andorians – all too often a telltale sign of mood and intent.

    1. Aw, thanks! The chavecoi were originally vines, but then I got the idea to make them colored flowers and then from that they became kind of living mood rings. Hippie species! 🙂

  2. Vines would have been cool but the coloured flowers is even more cool. They were/are such a cool feature of the Multiverse tale as they added lots of layer to the character and to the plot.

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