Spotlight on an Original Nonsentient Alien Species – Elekai
The thought of a planetary system much like Australia, where there are all sorts of exotic and beautiful plants and animals, but any one of them can kill you, was an irresistible one. That’s the Lafa System.
Couple that with the idea of present-day terror birds, and elekai were born.
Elekai are pretty much what you’d expect. They’re huge, mean and dangerous. But they also make good eating. In Together, it’s established that the upper half – which is more than enough to feed seven adults and one child – tastes like chicken whereas the lower half, including the legs, tastes more like duck. In Local Flavor, elekai are described as being fattier down below, possibly a bit gamier. A few serving suggestions are offered in that story, too. Because all Calafan names are meaningful, Elekai means air bird, so it’s suggested that, unlike real terror birds, elekai can fly.
In Together, Doug reveals that it’s a lot of work to bring down an elekai. For the one being eaten in that story, he admits that a total of nine men (eight Calafans and himself) were needed to bring down the big beast. Therefore, in Temper, when it’s only Melissa and him on a hunting trip, they don’t go after elekai, and instead hunt for linfep and perrazin.
In Fortune, and in Equinox, Doug’s death is shown or alluded to. It occurrs during an elekai hunt, but the birds have nothing to do with it. Instead, he suffers a heart attack during running in the forests of the southern hemisphere of Lafa II.
A lot of animals are extinct in the mirror (in Temper, it’s established that giraffes are one species that has gone extinct), but elekai are not, possibly because they’re so big and mean. As a means of getting Joss, Tommy, DR, and Marie Patrice off the Defiant, and making it so that Lili and Doug can also get off the ship and go to the surface, an elekai hunt is offered up as a pretext, with an accompanying picnic lunch for the Empress Hoshi Sato and her children. For someone like Jun, it’s a chance to really seal the deal in his quest to show that he can be a leader.
Elekai aren’t meant to be smart (although they are considerably more intelligent than procul/prako). They are definitely meant to be more aggressive than linfep. Plus they’re good for Thanksgiving dinner, if you’re quite literally feeding an army. But watch out, as they’re a lot more hazardous than turkeys.
A friend suggested to me as I was first starting to write Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction – get Malcolm Reed to loosen up. I bet, down deep, he’s kinky. And so the gauntlet was thrown down. Challenge accepted.
It began with a fairly simple premise, to get an intriguing woman on the ship. Then I decided to add interest by adding a few women. And then the idea progressed to one of a kind of a competition.
Hence I decided that it would be a small medical residential rotation. The specialty would be Immunology. In order to minimize complexity, I decided on five students. In order to add a little Shakespearean-style chaos, one (and their instructor) would have an ambiguous enough name that gender could not be readily and immediately known.
Then the fun begins. Travis hears that there are five students coming. Three, he figures, are female. He tells Malcolm and Tripp – let’s compete for them. They draw straws in order to determine who they’ll go after. Tripp wins the first draw and selects Pamela Hudson. Travis gets the second draw and decides on Blair Claymore. Malcolm is forced to settle for who he thinks will be An Nguyen. But this is the ambiguity, for An is a guy (this was also intended as a play on Reed often being depicted as gay in fan fiction). The instructor, Bernie Keating-Fong, is really Bernardine. But she’s older, and is wearing a wedding ring. It seems that Malcolm is the odd man out.
But Malcolm has a major trick up his sleeve, and writes Pamela poetry.
However, all is not right, not with Pamela, and not with the ship. Without giving away any more of the plot, suffice it to say that it is a rather odd story. It’s difficult to summarize without giving up all manner of spoilers.
Frankly, Intolerance doesn’t get a lot of love, too, and its read counts are sometimes lower than those of the others. Some of that may be due to the fact that it’s the shortest of the major books, with the fewest number of chapters. But I have reread it (I reread everything) and don’t think anything could truly be added. I like its tight editing. It does very little meandering, whereas Reversal and Fortune in particular sometimes wander off and away from their main plot lines.
A lot of the elements turn out well, I feel, but maybe it was too much of a departure. I don’t know. I have been happy to use it as a jumping-off point for other works, such as Together and The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. Truth be told, it may hold up better than most of what I’ve written.
Eleanor Daniels gives canon character Crewman Daniels a heart.
Richard Daniels didn’t necessarily need to have too much of a contemporary extended family. But I did need someone who could be a bit of an expository mouthpiece. By making his sister, Eleanor, the docent at the Temporal Museum on Lafa II, she can convincingly explain both history and what happened in between, all while pushing the story line along painlessly.
For Eleanor’s portrayal, I chose English actress Cate Blanchett. I love her intelligence, elegance, and versatility.
Elegant, refined and intelligent, Eleanor is also incredibly lonely at the beginning of the HG Wells stories and, most likely, during Temper as well, which is something of a prequel to that series and serves as one of the bridges from In Between Days.
In Temper, one of the things I did early on was establish her expertise about both our universe and the mirror, and about the Calafans as well. It isn’t until much later in that story that it’s revealed that she wears the Cuff of Lo, which had been worn by Declan and Malcolm Reed long before her, and by Lili O’Day before them and then Yipran before her.
After Temper, Eleanor takes a bit of a break and does not show up again until A Long, Long Time Ago(the prequel for that story is A Lesson). By the time of Ohio, it’s established that she is hoping for a relationship.
Like Richard, a Mirror Universe version of her is impossible.
They meet during Ohio, when the Human Unit at the Temporal Integrity Commission goes out for drinks after work at a dance club called The X Factor. Richard has invited Eleanor along at the insistence of his parents (they mention that they hope she can meet someone, perhaps a friend of his, during A Long, Long Time Ago). While HD Avery is very, very interested, it’s Tom Grant who grabs Eleanor’s attention. They chat and hit it off, and exchange information. But she waits for him to contact her first, as she’s weary of being the instigator.
But things start off a little bumpy between them. In You Mixed-Up Siciliano, Tom asks her out and she accepts, but that’s while the timeline is still wrong. Once team restores the line, his next call confuses her. Terrified that’s she’s forgotten him, and he’s completely blown it, Tom backs off.
A Second Chance
But during Spring Thaw, she gives him another chance, and lets him know that the restoration and resetting of timelines means that there are, more or less, infinite chances to get things right.
When Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain ends, Tom is distraught over what he’s had to restore and, even though he had planned it for a more beautiful moment, he blurts out that he loves her. For two somewhat controlled characters, Tom’s confession is a much more natural way for him to behave. Eleanor can bring this out of him.
In The Point is Probably Moot, the breach in the timeline briefly wipes Eleanor from existence and Tom, of course, is again distraught. He frets that somehow she knows, and is afraid and alone. In Shake Your Body, Eleanor locates a major clue at the Museum, and Rick brings Tom along to investigate.
In part, Rick’s gift is for this assistance. But it’s also because Rick knows that he and Tom will be kept in more. Hence he generously gives them a chance to see each other before the forced separation. Tom tells her that, once they restore the line, he never wants to leave her again. And that it means what she probably thinks it does, an echo of Doug telling Lili that he was committed to her. Essentially, he has proposed to her. Eleanor also has given Tom the Cuff of Lo by now, a symbol of their commitment. As she puts it, she’s supposed to give it to her true love, an echo of Lili giving it to Malcolm.
By the time of He Stays a Stranger, the timeline is so damaged that Eleanor is marrying Troy Scott. Rick runs in, in order to try to stop the wedding. Rick receives protection from a temporal force field, so he is still intact but not known to the regular populace. Otherwise, since Rick is considered wiped from existence, their parents and Eleanor do not recognize him. As a result he is thrown out of the church.
“There are, we believe, an infinite number of universes. What is most intriguing about the mirror is how very close it is to our own. We have a kinship with the mirror that we simply don’t have with any of the others.”
I originally intended this character to mainly be a plot device. However, she has worked overtime – in particular with Tom Grant. And she also works well as a continuing thread in the HG Wells stories, helping to give them more coherence. I like how she turned out.
My thanks again to Joshawott of the Star Trek Photo Manipulation Archive for his terrific photomanipulation of Cate Blanchett.
On Star Trek Logs, because they were celebrating the Mirror Universe there, I added A Lesson, which is an HG Wells story featuring Eleanor Daniels, and The High Cost of Dissidence.
The E2 stories continued to challenge and perplex. So I am working on the fourth book and sometimes it’s not so easy.
Plus I also began working on a new Interphases story starring Commander Tucker. I don’t write him too much so I am learning how to get into that character’s head. This story also briefly brings back HG Wells characters Milena and Noemy Chelenka and their neighbor, Mrs. Klinghofer.
I am beginning to get more than just an inkling of how I want to work on more Interphases stories, as I have been brainstorming quite a bit regarding ways that interphases can actually happen. This has been helpful in terms of getting ideas for more stories in that genre as I am looking to cover not only the entire main canon crew of Enterprise but to potentially branch out into other series (as in Crackerjack).
I also created an HTML version of Shake Your Body, in anticipation of spinning it out in October.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
I started off the month by turning 50! All of my celebratory stuff was early, so I was past that and well into production afterwards. The Adult Trek Anthology continues to be a lot of work, but very rewarding. A lot of it is finished or close to being finished, but cover art will likely prove to be a lot more time-consuming. Plus I am still looking for work, and am doing SEO work for a friend.
Originally, I was looking for an evil Mirror Universe doctor, to be Phlox‘s successor. But then I decided to give the man a Prime Universe counterpart, and he got, to me, even more interesting, as the dichotomy grew between the two versions.
I see and hear Michael Caine for this role. I like his gravitas, his gentle-sounding voice and the fact that he can also, at times, seem to be utterly evil. Morgan in our universe is kindly, highly skilled, meticulous, thoughtful and somewhat grandfatherly.
He is far different in the mirror.
A healer, Cyril Morgan brings intelligence but also shrewdness. In our universe, he is a retired orthopedic surgeon (Fortune). But he comes out of retirement and is brought in as a fill-in doctor on Jonathan Archer‘s second ship, the USS Zefram Cochrane, as Phlox has returned to Denobula (We Meet Again). He retires again, afterwards, and Blair Claymore becomes the CMO on the USS Bluebird (Fortune).
In an alternate timeline, he is brought out of retirement a lot longer, and serves as Malcolm‘s CMO, again on the Bluebird, but in a lost cause (Temper).
I haven’t shown any romantic relationships for him yet, but he’s Pamela Hudson‘s uncle, and is Cindy Morgan’s grandfather. Hence he at least has one son.
The Mirror Doctor Morgan fulfills the promise of the Mirror Phlox. Ruthless and ambitious, he has no qualms about getting rid of anyone in his way.
And in Reversal (and in other stories), it’s rumored that he was the one to kill Ian Reed, although that’s somewhat unclear (it’s possible that it was Phlox. It is cleared up in Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses). This is part of the chain of events that makes Doug Hayes‘s rise possible.
In Temper, he ends up caring for Blair, and the implication is that it might be for a reason other than medical treatment.
“This is my granddaughter, Cindy Morgan. And this is her friend, Jia Sulu. Oh, and this is Fenway.”
For a guy who started out as a vile denizen of the Mirror Universe, he got a bit of a soul as I went along. The kindly old grandfather here is a ruthless killer over there.
So I knew that my competition would be mainly writing sad stories, as silence tends to lead one in that direction. Hence I decided to zig instead of zag, and went for a comedy.
It’s Movie Night, and Chip Masterson has been touting The Seventh Seal all week. It’s going to be a celebration of highbrow culture. He’s excited as he’s the biggest film buff on the ship. He’s going to have a discussion and everything.
Meanwhile, Tripp Tucker is trying to reconcile with T’Pol. So he’s using the occasion of the film as a means to get back into her good graces. Hence he figures that an intellectual date will really appeal to her.
Malcolm is excited about the film as he wants to watch it and compare notes with his girl afterwards. But she is at home, so this is a kind of date for them as well, and she assures him that she will dress up and everything.
It All Goes Haywire
However, all is not right, for Hoshi Sato has been hit with a tiny spatial anomaly. And so she makes plans to derail the film’s showing. She enlists Travis‘s help, and she splices a very different film onto The Seventh Seal. And this changes its ending dramatically.
But the projectionist, Aidan MacKenzie, doesn’t suspect a thing. So he just loads the film and then more or less dozes off, bored by the Bergman film. And the MACOs are watching; Jonathan Archer is watching; Jenny from Engineering is watching, and suddenly the film’s plot is changed considerably. Jonathan calls off the evening and yells for Masterson and MacKenzie to join him in his Ready Room. And they are in big, big trouble.
Hence Malcolm confirms with his girl – this isn’t the ending of The Seventh Seal at all.
So – whodunit? Who messed up the film? Will Hoshi confess? Stay tuned.
This Star Trek: Enterprise canon character is a MACO, seen in the third season only. She was mentioned in the canon E2 episode as having become Travis Mayweather‘s wife. Major Jay Hayes also mentioned her on his deathbed, and asked that she be placed in charge of the MACOs. She held a Corporal‘s rank. She only has a first initial in canon; I have named her Julie.
As in the show, she is played by actress Julia Rose.
There was virtually nothing on her in canon, so I have had to fill in the blanks. She’s mainly enthusiastic about the mission. In the E2 stories I am writing, she and Travis begin their romance with fun, although it quickly turns serious. While she is an eager mother, she is also career-driven and goes back to working full-time in the MACOs after their son, Paul, is born.
In Shell Shock, she is expecting a promotion and is disappointed, but rises to the occasion when asked to help out. The possibility of conflict with Hayes’s replacement, Strong Bear Dawson, is deflected when she realizes that her fellow crew members need her.
The only relationship I have for her is with Travis. With Travis, things are fun but also playfully affectionate. They enjoy each other’s company a great deal.
So far, I have not written a Mirror Universe counterpart for her.
“Our people are pouring off the ship, and they’re scattering. They want to see their families while we’re here, that sort of thing. I can’t make anyone – not even my MACOs – stay in San Francisco without pulling rank. Some of them are probably gone already and can only be brought back by communicator.”
A mostly quiet character, Julie probably needs more depth than I have given her so far.
While watching Star Trek: Enterprise (and The Original Series and the other series, but particularly Enterprise), I was struck by how together and cute and all of that Tripp Tucker is.
And that is just not my experience of most engineers.
This is not an insult and I hope it is not taken that way. Rather, most of the engineers I have known have been shy and withdrawn people, far more comfortable with engines, wrenches, etc. than people. Scotty is much more of the epitome of a true engineer to me, and Geordi is pretty close as well. But Tucker, to my mind, is a bit too well-socialized, as is Miles O’Brien.
Of course Tucker is canon so he’s not totally gone from my writings. But I do try to write him with angst (Together, Temper, and Fortune) or at least a feeling that he’d rather look at an engine than talk or think about something more esoteric, like politics (Intolerance).
As for Geordi and Scotty, I try to give them different degrees of depth. Both of them have gotten romances or at least the promise of romance in my fiction. In Crackerjack, Geordi finds he’s falling for Rosemary Parker, but because of the time difference, it can never be. Scotty has somewhat better luck with M’Ress in Milk. As for Miles, he’s a family man. But he’s got a certain other talent, as demonstrated in You Make Me Want to Scream.
Other engineers and engineering students, because they are wholly created by me, fare somewhat differently.
Judy Kelly and Michael Rostov
These canon characters marry in my E2 stories.
This Gorn character reveals he is an engineering student in Truth. He describes a good career ahead of him as a civil engineer, where he can provide for Sophra and, hopefully, win over her parents.
In Wider Than the Sargasso Sea, this Klingon character is disappointed that a Breen is working in an engineering office where she had hoped to get an internship, and shows some prejudice when she tells Gabrielle Nolan that she has to cross that firm off her list if a Breen is working there. Like Bron, she is studying civil engineering, but she’s further along in her studies than he is.
This character is an engineer in only our universe but not the mirror (Reversal), where he’s a security crewman. In our universe, he starts off as third in Engineering, behind Tucker and Crossman. A lot of his work involves monitoring the warp containment field, plus he often runs the transporter. In the E2 stories, he does all sorts of odd tasks, including building an ultrasound machine.
In both universes, Jennifer starts out as the secondary in engineering, right behind Tucker. On the Defiant, it’s likely that she worked the night shift at least part of the time, which may have been how she at least initially hooked up with Aidan MacKenzie.
As a corollary to the characters who are only engineers in our universe, Frank is only an engineer in the mirror (here, he’s a planetary geologist). Eventually, in The Point is Probably Moot, he rises to the level of First Officer of the Defiant, when Andrew Miller commits suicide (Escape).
Kevin is the Chief Engineer for the Temporal Integrity Commission (Temper, The Point, etc.). He’s a lumbering beast of a man and is part-Gorn, tipping the scales at nearly a quarter of a metric ton.
Deirdre is Kevin’s young protegée and enjoys old time travel fiction, so she names the time ships (HG Wells, Audrey Niffenegger, Jack Finney, etc.). See A Long, Long Time Ago.
This Ferengi engineer works mostly on an older style ship called the Penar (The Point is Probably Moot).
This Calafan engineer is Kevin O’Connor’s love interest and works on Calafan time ships like The Light of Lo.
This engineer works on temporal mechanics for Section 31 in a forerunner to the Temporal Integrity Commission.
They keep it all together, and they keep it running like a top. Without engineers, there really couldn’t be any Star Trek at all.
I take names seriously, and, truth be told, that’s actually Star Trek canon. A lot of the named characters, particularly the ones who do not have English-style names, have meaningful appellations.
Take Hoshi Sato, for example. The first name means “star”. The surname means “at home”. Hence, she is “at home in the stars”.
A similar situation exists with Nyota Uhura. Nyota means “star” and Uhura means “freedom”. Are communications officers required to be named Star?
Canon to Fanfiction
For my characters, names have meanings that draw from heritage, repeat in order to show familial relationships, and have meanings unto themselves.
In Between Days
Doug Beckett is so named because Douglas means “dark stranger”, which is exactly what he is – a stranger from the Mirror Universe, first experienced in pitch darkness.
Lili O’Day‘s full name – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day – evokes several themes. Her first name means “free woman” and her middle name is of course a flower (and Malcolm refers to her, in the prime timeline, as Lili-Flower). Her surname sets up the contrast to Doug, for she is quite literally “of the day”.
Because the name Malcolm means “a devotee of Saint Columba“, and that is the patron saint of poets and bookbinders, I make Malcolm a gifted poet. The reed (which of course is the lower, non-flowering part of a plant), is evoked as he and Lili, in Together, talk about the flower and the reed, and she assures him that the flower is pretty and all, but the flower can’t live without the reed.
For Melissa Madden, in part it’s a shout-out to future canon character Martin Madden.
Melissa means “honey bee” and she is a rather earthy individual. As for Leonora Digiorno, Leonora means “light” (Malcolm incorrectly refers to her as the Lioness) and Digiorno is the same as O’Day, “of the day”. Her relationships are purely in the day, hence she is solely a daylight character.
Times of the HG Wells
The Wells characters were less name-driven but there are some highlights. Sheilagh and Darragh are both Irish-type spellings, meant to impart a somewhat exotic flavor. HD Avery is really Henry Desmond, with the middle name being a shout-out to Dominic Keating‘s first real role, in a British sitcom called Desmond’s. Carmen means “garden”, an offhanded joke as the character is a sophisticated urbanite. The characters Tom and Kevin hearken back to the In Between Days series and are meant to show a relationship to that earlier series.
Otra, the half-Witannen character, has a name meaning a small animal, like a mouse. I also used Glyph as the name of a Ferengi, as short nouns are canon for Ferengi names (e. g. Quark and Nog). Von is another Ferengi name, but I grabbed that one from baseball – Von Hayes (yet another shout-out to Steven Culp).
For this series, character names have to evoke a time period properly. Rosemary Parker’s name fits in with her birth in the 1920s, whereas Jacob, Benjamin and Dorcas all evoke the 1700s. Jim, the son of Benjamin and Dorcas, is a shout-out to Mark Twain’s Jim character in Huckleberry Finn.
Emergence and Mixing it Up
For both of these series, since there are several aliens, names had to be made up. Skrol is meant to sound a bit like Slar, the only known named Gorn. Etrina, Tr’Dorna and Sophra are all made-up names, meant to sound feminine. Bron is intended to evoke a feeling of brawn.
For Daranaeans, female names end with vowels whereas as male names often (but not always) end with an -s. Prime Wife females, being considered superior, are given names with a soft th- sound in them, such as Thessa, Dratha and Kathalia. This is the th- sound in thistle, rather than in the. The sound, anywhere in the word, is meant to mean “smell”, with a positive connotation. Secondaries get somewhat pretty names, often with m- sounds, like Morza and Mistra, but sometimes not, like Cria and Inta (in all fairness, the younger Inta, a secondary, is named after a last caste female). Third caste females tend to get shorter names, like Darri and Fyra and Cama. The men’s names are all over the place, from Elemus and Arnis to Craethe and Trinning.
Calafans love names and meanings so much that it’s a standard greeting to a new person – “what is your name, and what does it mean?” The first time Lili hears this, in Local Flavor, she is a bit appalled as it is a part of a come-on.
Men often get the -wev ending, which means “master of”, whereas women often get the yi- prefix, meaning “student of”. But the differences are not intended to be sexist. With no middle names and no last names, a lot hinges on a name, and they cannot be repeated. Therefore, names are given out by the government, and parents often petition for a name for their baby while the child is still in utero. Names are then released upon death. Names without either prefix include Treve (messenger) and Miva (clay).
For me, the naming of characters is a deeply person act. Alien names are a great deal of fun to come up with, as I put together sounds I like or that seem to harmonize, and then attach meanings to them. Sometimes a character doesn’t really “click” until he or she has been named. Then, suddenly, it can all fall into place.
The Empress is, of course, canon. But the second mirror universeEnterprise story ends with the beginning of her power grab. It doesn’t tell you whether she was successful and, if she was, what happened next.
In Reversal, the Empress’s power is well-established and has been consolidated. Doug offhandedly tells Lili that the Empress took about a year or so to get it all together and, in the meantime, had a child as well. That child turns out to be Jun Daniels Sato.
But the Empress is dissatisfied (and sexually voracious). She is looking for younger siblings for Jun. She understands Machiavelli enough to know that she needs a multitude of potential successors in order to keep herself in power (and healthy) as long as possible. Plus she needs to keep producing heirs as long as possible for, if a faction prefers her youngest child, that faction might just wait until the youngest one’s age of majority before becoming a physical threat to her. It’s a chance, but she’s got to take it.
Pamela is as intelligent as Hoshi (if not more so) but, ultimately, she turns out to not be ruthless. Instead, her motivations are her own damaged past and her hopes for the future. For Pamela, finding love brings her full circle and gives her what she truly needs. She is able to hang up the femme fatale act and enjoy life.
Marisol, on the other hand, is not motivated by anything positive whatsoever. As a much more classic femme fatale, Marisol is downright hazardous.
She is an assassin and a blackmailer, and treats Borin Yarin badly enough that she pays the ultimate price for her ruthlessness.
Two of my main femme fatales are doctors. Perhaps there is something to that, the feeling that, when other characters are vulnerable, a femme fatale can do the most damage. The trick, I feel, is to write the archetype without writing a cliché.