All posts by jespah

Shuttlepod pilot, fan fiction writer, sentient marsupial canid.

Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore

Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore

Origins

Blair began as a roommate/friend for Pamela Hudson. She was intended to also be an object of desire, but to be the “good girl” in contrast to Pamela’s “bad girl” in Intolerance. Her ambition is to be an obstetrician, in further contrast to Pamela’s stated ambition to become a plastic surgeon. Furthermore, her relationship with Will Owen was meant to be almost a model of love and propriety – but there was something under the surface that wasn’t quite so proper.

Portrayal

I always liked Holly Marie Combs on Charmed,
and so she was, to me, a natural for Blair. Blair is described as being a brunette with a few freckles, a nice figure and a big smile. She’s a typical California girl in looks and mannerisms, but I didn’t want her to be Malibu Barbie.

Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore
Blair Claymore

Personality

Beautiful and smart, Blair is also kind and caring. She’s the person who worries about Pamela. She’s the one who would have accepted Will despite his issues (she doesn’t get a chance to, though).

Relationships

In Intolerance, she flirts a bit with the guys and a few of them – namely Travis, Chip Masterson and probably also Aidan – make various plays for her. But they’re all unsuccessful, as she only has eyes for Will Owen. Pamela reveals that that relationship has been a model of waiting and planning. Will and Blair have been together for about a year before taking the plunge and having sex, and they do so under the auspices of “I love you”s. It seems right. They seem destined to wed.

But things go differently and, in Together, Pamela tells Malcolm that Blair is engaged to someone else (as of this writing, his name has not been revealed).

By the time of Fortune, Blair still has her maiden name, but that might be preference rather than an indication of a continuing single marital status. She has become a Chief Medical Officer on a starship, just like her and Pamela’s classmate, An Nguyen. By the time of Flight of the Bluebird and Equinox, she is still at her post. In Bluebird, it slips out that she’s married. I haven’t decided whether that’s a marriage to the person Pamela refers to in Together.

Mirror Universe

The Mirror Blair’s life, like that of most of the denizens of the other side of the pond, is a lot harder than in the Prime Universe.

Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore
MU Blair

She’s seen in Temper, in the first alternate timeline, and has been brought in as one of José Torres‘s playthings, along with Pamela and Karin Bernstein. Little more than a high-priced hooker, the Mirror Blair is probably not much more than a minor Science Department lackey and is certainly no doctor. Toward the end of that story, she reveals that Doctor Morgan has been treating her for bruising although, whether it’s due to José or Aidan or any of the other possible men in the Mirror Universe who wanted her, the specifics remain a mystery as of this writing.

Quote

“I never have to see you again, and I never have to talk to you.”

Upshot

This nice girl eventually gets the career she wants and, presumably, the rest of a perfect life to go with it. As for the Mirror version, once the timeline is restored, all contact is lost, so who knows what really happens to her?

Inspiration – The Physical World

Inspiration – The Physical World

What do I mean by the physical world, and why should it be an inspiration for Star Trek fanfiction?

Observations

Almost every single day, I go for a walk around my neighborhood. This walk takes anywhere from twenty to ninety minutes, on average. I live in an urban area, but there are a lot of wooded areas. I see wildlife quite a bit of the time. My eyes are open, and I am often inspired by what I see.

Animals

Because aliens need to eat, they need food animals. In Reversal, I established that the Mirror Universe members of the Defiant‘s crew often go hunting, as the rations there are so bad. The idea is enlarged upon in Fortune. Hence they had to have something they could hunt. A hunt is even shown (although it’s in our universe) as the opening scene in Temper.

Inspiration – The Physical World

I already had elekai (a large flightless bird) and I already had perrazin (a blonde buffalo with fangs or tusks). But I wanted something smaller, a kind of quick and easy hunt. Plus the perrazin are omnivores. Therefore, they needed something that they could readily hunt. I was seeing bunny rabbits on my walks. Therefore, I hit upon the idea of linfep.

Plants

The idea of a plant that would change its flavor, due to its degree of ripeness, isn’t exactly original. After all, underripe fruits taste differently (usually, they are more sour) versus ripened ones, and overripe ones can be cloying or even nauseating. Olowa, however, was written to much more radically change flavor. A part of that was simply to be able to use the idea for double and triple duty. A fruit that tastes like pears can become preserves. When it tastes like peanuts, it can be mashed into a reasonable facsimile of peanut butter. And when it tastes spicy, it can be used in Mexican or Thai cooking.

Another plant, which would grow up fast, was based in part on bamboo  (and tofflin is meant to look a bit like bamboo). However, the idea that a portion of the plant is poisonous was taken straight from the reality of

Inspiration – The Physical World

rhubarb, which has poisonous leaves (just like tofflin).

Sentient Species

The Daranaeans proved to be great fun to write, as I got the idea from the marsupial wolf. There was a while there where I just had a scrap of paper, saying smart kangaroos on it, and nothing else.

Scenery and Visuals

Inspiration – The Physical World

Strange other things have proven inspiring. The name plate on a Toyota Yaris inspired the idea of the surname Yarin, as in Doctor Boris Yarin. A sign for Rebecca’s Cafe ‘n Catering brought forth a name for the E2 stories – Scafen (he’s a Xindi).

Continued Inspiration

What I have found, as I go on in life, is that there’s something out there, almost every day, that can be inspiring. You just have to look, be open to it and – probably most importantly – write it down.

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie

Origins

Aidan’s origin was to be a not necessarily perfectly bright Tactical guy. He was meant to be the best-looking man on the NX-01. He was meant to be your classic tall, dark and handsome guy. On the way, things changed a bit.

After Reversal, Aidan was, at least in the Mirror Universe, fairly well doomed. But I wanted to redeem him, because I thought the character could have a chance. As for our side of the pond, Aidan was just okay. He was Malcolm Reed‘s essential right-hand man and night shift fill-in, but he didn’t seem to have too much fire – particularly for a Tactical man.

Portrayal

What brought a lot of it together for me was the portrayal. I decided on someone who is tall and dark, but not necessarily what we would, conventionally, think of as handsome. After all, perhaps tastes have changed in the future. This was a way to set out the premise.

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie
Vinny Del Negro

Enter Vinny Del Negro. Del Negro is a former NBA player (hence he’s tall, at 6’4″) but was never really stellar, except in free throw shooting. He’s currently a coach in the NBA. He’s generally not seen as the world’s greatest coach, either. To me, he fit the bill as a guy who might have a lot of potential and there are two ways to play that – stunning success or abject failure. Both themes play out in the stories.

Personality

Aidan is supremely confident and intelligent. He’s got the looks, he’s got the job and he’s got the ladies. But – there’s always something more to strive for.

In Together, he goes after all three bridesmaids and is turned down by all of them, undoubtedly due to being too arrogant and cocky.

However, he’s loyal and smart, and eventually gets his due. Malcolm even recommends him for a captaincy, in Equinox. This is the capstone of a career path that moves him from an Ensign in Reversal and Together, then to a Lieutenant and even Acting Tactical Officer in Fortune and, finally, to a Commander in Flight of the Bluebird before Malcolm Reed‘s generous recommendation.

Relationships

In Reversal, it’s established that he likes Jenny Crossman. This is furthered as he goes on a somewhat disastrous date with Lili when he brings along Brian Delacroix to act as a wingman so that he can go for it with Jennifer. However, Jenny’s got other plans.

In Together, he’s still not settled but, by Fortune, he ends up with Susan Cheshire.

The E2 stories are different and he ends up marrying Jennifer in both kick backs in time.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie
MU Aidan

The Mirror Aidan has a much tougher life. In Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions, he vies with Doug and Chip Masterson for the Tactical Officer role left vacant at the Mirror Malcolm’s (Ian’s) death.

At the time of Reversal, the Mirror Universe Aidan has established himself as a ladies’ man. However, unlike Doug, he fails to resist Empress Hoshi, and so he is relegated to becoming babysitter for her growing brood of children (and fathers her second son, Kira). This is Aidan’s disgrace.

By the time of  First Born and Temper, Aidan’s humiliation is complete, and he is used to accepting abusive orders, all in the name of keeping the peace and also keeping himself out of harm’s way. But he’s also grown as a person, and is the best parent on the ISS Defiant, by far.

He gets his real chance in Temper and again in He Stays a Stranger, when Rick Daniels gets to go to the Mirror, which (according to the events that unfold in First Born) is normally not allowed, as the timeline has been damaged. Aidan and Susan (who is now his wife) are given the chance to finally get out. They take it, and end up on Lafa II.

Quote

“I would rather take care of the children.”

Upshot

For a character who was supposed to be a lummox, almost a redshirt to be toyed with by Empress Hoshi and, on our side, possibly expendable, Aidan grew into a more dynamic character the more I wrote about him. In the end, on both sides of a proverbial pond, he develops some very real values.

Progress Report – June 2012

June 2012 Posted Works

June 2012 was busy.

On Ad Astra, I began by answering a weekly prompt Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | June 2012about making things worse (called “fanning the flames”). Except for Richard Daniels, I had not written too much about the back stories of the characters from Times of the HG Wells, so I decided to introduce Otra, with a small tale from her childhood, Desperation. Plus I answered a prompt about “sock drawers”, setting it in the EriechoSaddik JJ Abrams Universe. I named it The Mundane World. Also, I answered a prompt about obstacles with The Play at the Plate, a Mirror Universe story taking place after Fortune. I answered a prompt about a finish line rather literally, with a tale about a 5K race called The Medal.

Context

Also, I added a number of stories to the IBD Collection so as to place them into context, namely: A Kind of Blue, Demotion, Party on Risa, Penicillin and The Mess. These are all Reversal prequels. In addition, I added Local Flavor, the direct Reversal sequel that had until then only been available on Trek BBS. I then placed Local Flavor into context. Pacing was added in context – it is a story that takes place between Intolerance and Together. The Facts and The Play at the Plate were also added in context. Those are both post-Fortune stories. At this point, the IBD Collection is mostly up to date.

For the Ad Astra monthly challenge about former enemies working together, I prepared and submitted Wider Than the Sargasso Sea, which takes place in the post-Dominion War Gina Nolan universe.

More Sites

On Star Trek Logs, they had a small “holiday”, Andorian Week. Therefore, I wrote an Andorian story, Half. As the holiday came to a close, I added a second story, about a wholly new character, an Andorian spy. That one was called Recruitment and takes place as a prequel to the HG Wells stories.

For the Trek BBS’s monthly challenge on first contacts, I submitted A Single Step, which takes place in the movies universe, more specifically, it’s a sequel to Star Trek: First Contact.

On Trek United, I added It’s a Small Universe After All and And the Livin’ is Easy.

WIP Corner

Work on the E2 stories continues, as I finished up the third and began the fourth, which should be the last in that grouping.

Prep Work

I created an HTML version of Spring Thaw. I created an HGW Collection draft as there are now some stories that would benefit from that sort of treatment.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Looking for work really heated up at the end of May (I had a few in-person interviews, plus I wrote a paper for one opening), and the pace did not let up at the start of June. My parents visited from June 7th through the 10th, so I was busy seeing them and spending time with them.

In addition, I worked on updating and improving the design and workability of my father’s engineering consultancy website.

Review – Harvest

Review – Harvest

Harvest is one of those stories which starts off as minimal. But then context gives it meaning.

Background

Lili has to, at some point, join the NX-01. She is more or less drafted during the Star Trek: Enterprise canon Xindi war. She is to replace steward Preston Jennings. Lili also replaces an unnamed sous-chef and an equally unnamed pastry chef. Non-combat personnel really need to go.

I had already showed her being drafted in Voracious. Hence this would be a scene that would take place not too much later.

There were hints about this story, too, in He Stays a Stranger, where a far more mature Malcolm and Lili, in a shared dream, recall their first meeting –

[They] saw the day they had first met, a day near the start of the Xindi War, when Captain Jonathan Archer had brought a new sous-chef onto the NX-01 and introduced her to the senior staff as she served a Harvest Salad, her specialty from her old restaurant, Voracious. They shook hands and looked in each other’s eyes then, too, and Malcolm remembered he had thought that her eyes and hair were pretty and she had a lovely smile, and Lili remembered that she had thought he seemed very intelligent and well-mannered, not to mention a little cute.

The Set Up

Review – Harvest
Harvest Salad

For a new sous-chef on a starship, her first day had to involve making a meal. I also made sure to have the meal coincide with Major Jay Hayes‘s first day as well. That way, there could be the canon tension between him and Reed as an underlying part of the story.

Tripp Tucker‘s very recent bereavement was also part of the tale. As Lili is a chef, I also wanted to give a canon shout out to Hoshi‘s canon experimentation with cooking in the Singularity episode.
Review – Harvest

The meal is a Harvest Salad, one of Lili’s specialties.

The Meal

The captain and the senior staff wait as the chef and the new sous-chef are a bit late. Hence the captain makes use of the time to introduce the new MACO CO, as it’s also his first day. So there’s already a bit of tension between Hayes and Reed by the time Chef Slocum and Lili walk in.

Lili is nervous meeting new people and starting a new job. She fusses over the placement of the flatware. Then she forgets she’s still holding a teacup when she comes over for introductions. She drops it twice – once, when Phlox grins at her too widely. The second time is when she and Malcolm are chatting.

Because the salad contains various fruits and nuts, it can symbolize some of the disparate elements that are coming together. Lili spends some of this time asking various senior staffers what some of their favorite foods are. And she promises to give them portions with extras of their favorites. Malcolm’s canon love of pineapple, and Tripp’s canon love of pecan pie, both come out. Jay Hayes reveals a preference for blueberries. However, I don’t show Captain Archer’s preference for strawberries until Protocols.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like how it turned out; plus people liked it. The idea of Lili giving the senior staff a little taste (quite literally) of home, and promising to provide a little bit of comfort right at the start of the canon Star Trek: Enterprise Xindi war was an irresistible premise.

Portrait of a Character – Karin Bernstein

Portrait of a Character – Karin Bernstein

Karin Bernstein originally was a plot device.

Origins

Karin was brought in, for The Light, in order to be a part of a more substantial plot than just celebrating Chanukah.

Symbolism

Because the name Karin means pure, Karin starts off as something of an unattainable character for someone like Ethan Shapiro. In fact, he defers to Andy Miller when Andrew comments that he’s going to ask her out. However, this is not Ethan’s true desire, as is noted in Waiting.

In the E2 stories I am currently writing, Karin’s behavior is even less pure, and she is much more of an aggressor, not only in her relationship but also in her career. She sits in the captain’s chair several times. This suggests  that this pure maiden could potentially even lead people into battle.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Karin Bernstein
Natalie Portman

For Karin, I had to have a Jewish actress. so I decided on Natalie Portman. Portman is lovely without being wholly unapproachable, for Karin has to be somewhat down to earth. But she also has to be pretty enough that Ethan is nervous around her and maybe even blows some of his chances with her.

She is, in many ways, the quintessential ‘nice Jewish girl’.

Personality

Kind and friendly, Karin is probably less career-driven than others. Although, in the E2 stories, she steps up a lot more. As a Tactical crewman, she works under Lieutenant Reed, and is responsible for working with, maintaining and learning targeting and strategy. Presumably, she is not at the Tactical Bridge station too often or without supervision. It’s not until the E2 stories that she has a chance to take the Bridge station and, eventually at times, the captain’s chair.

Relationships

It depends on which story you’re reading, actually. In The Light, Andy Miller successfully romances her. That relationship continues in Waiting. Lili even asks about it during Temper when she’s asking Malcolm about the gossip from the ship. Malcolm informs Lili that things have changed, and Karin is going out with Ethan Shapiro. The culmination of their relationship is shown in Fortune and The Rite.

In the E2 stories, by way of contrast, both times she ends up with Josh Rosen, the third of the three male Jewish crew members in The Light.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Karin Bernstein
Mirror Karin

By the time of Temper, MU Karin Bernstein is in a very bad situation. She, Blair Claymore, and Pamela Hudson are no more than playthings for José Torres. By the end of Temper, she ends up with the mirror Josh Rosen. However, since that’s an alternate timeline, they are not together in He Stays a Stranger, and her whereabouts are not known.

Quote

“Best girl? You mean there are others?”

Upshot

As originally not much more than a plot device, Karin has evolved to become a much more three-dimensional character. I’m sure she’ll take me somewhere else at some later date.

Spotlight on Original Sport – Mirror Universe Baseball

Spotlight on Original Sport – Mirror Universe Baseball

Origin

Baseball in the Mirror Universe originally came out of the fact that I had established baseball in the Prime Universe (mainly because I wanted Lili O’Day to wear baseball caps instead of toques). I wanted something kind of opposite, kind of not. And so Mirror baseball was born.

The Spectator’s Perspective

In Reversal, Lili asks Doug if there’s baseball on his side of the pond. He replies, “Five bases, twelve guys on a team and a lotta fights.” For a spectator, Mirror baseball is barely controlled chaos. While there are positions, rules and strategy, those are often neglected in favor of the usual mayhem that occurs there. In Temper, a pitching change is effected by the reliever fatally knifing the starter.

The Rules

The difference in the numbers of bases and players makes for differing rules as well. In Temper, Lili skims the rules and finds the following –

Spotlight on Original Sport – Mirror Universe Baseball
MACO cap

Teams have twelve members and there are five bases. Positions are: first base, second base, third base, fourth base, left-side catcher, right-side catcher, right field, center field, shortstop, left field, left-side pitcher and right-side pitcher. The bases are laid out in a pentagonal shape with the full field often being shaped like a hand-held fan although some variations are possible and are legal per the rules.

There are two pitchers’ mounds and two batters’ boxes.

Two batters hit at the same time so, for practical reasons, a lefty pitcher is always paired with a righty hitter and vice versa. Hence, standing in the batters’ boxes and viewed from the perspective of the home plate umpires, there is a lefty hitter on the left (who is being pitched to by a right-handed pitcher) and a righty hitter on the right (who is being pitched to by a left-handed pitcher). Pitches need not be simultaneous although it is better defensive strategy for the pitchers to toss at the same time so as to minimize all of the running around in the outfield if both hitters connect. Anyone can field the two balls in play, and anyone can make an out, even if the righty hitter is tagged out with the ball hit by the lefty hitter.

There are five outs per side per inning.

Records

As of the time that Lili checks the rules (2178, although it’s an alternate timeline), records are denoted as follows –

The most recent championship teams are the South American Pistoleros (2175), and the Ganymede Hunters (2176 and 2177).

The record for the most home runs is held by retired Pistolero catcher Ty Janeway. The record for the most steals is held by retired player (played on several teams) shortstop Lefty Robinson. The record for the most wins by a pitcher is held by retired Hunters left-handed pitcher Amanda Cole. Currently, the wins record is being challenged by Hunter right-handed pitcher Alan Foster.

Players

In Reversal, Robinson and Ty Janeway are shown at bat, being pitched to by Amanda Cole (the counterpart to the canon MACO character) and Aditya Balakrishnan. As stated in the above rules, the pitchers hurl at the same time.

In Temper, the Empress‘s team (the Conquistadors) plays the Hunters. Lefty Robinson has become the Hunters’ coach. Foster is still playing, and the reliever who murders him is Trent “Miracle Worker” McCoy. Presumably, Cole, Balakrishnan and Janeway (he and Robinson are also players in our universe) are retired or dead by the time that Temper takes place. However, given that the game in Temper takes place during an alternate timeline, it’s entirely possible that Cole, Janeway and Balakrishnan are still playing, or are in the game somehow, perhaps as coaches.

Endorsements

In Reversal, Ty Janeway is shown endorsing Picard synthbeer. The slick advertisement includes a model who essentially simulates a sexual act (it’s a lot less explicit in the PG-13 version of Reversal, of course). The ad is intended to evoke the old-style Billy Dee Williams Colt Malt Liquor ads. And, of course, Picard as a brewing family – instead of being winemakers, as in our universe – that part is anything but accidental.

Announcers

In the Temper game, the Empress brings in professional announcers Ted Trinneer and Jeff Blalock. Their style of announcing and color commentary is meant to evoke Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo, who announce for the Boston Red Sox. Again, the names are shoutouts, this time to Connor Trinneer and Jolene Blalock, who of course played Tripp Tucker and T’Pol.

Game Night

Wagering in the Mirror Universe is Star Trek canon. In the first MU episode, Doctor McCoy comments on two nurses betting whether an injured man would live.

Furthermore, Movie Night is of course canon in our universe.

Hence I combined the two, and came up with Game Night. Game Night is not only when a good chunk of the ISS Defiant‘s crew sits in the Mess Hall, drinking synthbeer and watching the game, it’s also when wagers are laid.

Spotlight on Original Sport – Mirror Universe Baseball
MU cap

In Reversal, the betting is taken and supervised, and the point spread is covered, by Chip Masterson, who at that point in time is a Tactical Ensign. By the time Temper‘s time frame rolls around, Chip is running Game Night with the help of his son, Takeo. But it’s Arashi, who has a head for business, who does the books, with collections done by Takeo and Travis‘s son, Izo. Takara (the Empress’s daughter by Chip), Kira (her son by Aidan) and Jun do not involve themselves with Game Night or subsequent collections. But much like a company store, controlling Game Night means funneling salary funds back into the Empress’s coffers. It’s a reliable source of, if not income, then at least of monies that don’t leave the Empress’s control for very long.

Arashi also takes care of the point spreads, and truly understands them (Blalock and Trinneer have him explain the concept to the viewer audience). However, even a loss, or not making the spread, does not matter. Arashi always finds a way to get people to pay.

Lili realizes, in Temper, that she needs to provide refreshments. As a creative chef, but with very little to work with, she either fries vegetable tube paste squeezings in linfep fat and passes it off as chips, or fries elekai meat, again in linfep fat, but this time with hot spices, and calls it mock Buffalo chicken wings.

Upshot

Because I explicitly make sure to not have football in the Mirror Universe (Doug comments on that in Together), Mirror baseball fills a bit of that niche, as it also fills a hockey fight-type of niche. It’s unclear whether hockey exists in the mirror, but it definitely exists in our universe at the time of the Dominion War.

For the denizens of the mirror, they don’t have much in the way of entertainment that doesn’t involve either mayhem or sex, so Game Night offers a way to pass the hours. For gentler mirror persons, baseball may even offer a means of living and succeeding that doesn’t involve assassinations (although Trent McCoy acts differently). Another symptom of a society out of control, Mirror baseball takes sport to an extreme.

Portrait of a Character – Doug Beckett

A lot about Doug Beckett is, truly,  Reversal spoilers. Avert your eyes if you haven’t read Reversal and want to maintain the mystery of the first couple of chapters.

Origins

For me, Doug was, in part, every guy who’s ever been romantic around me. This includes my husband. But he’s also a typical resident of the Mirror Universe. So that means that there’s violence in his past, and ambitions and twisted behaviors. But I wanted him to be a person who could, eventually and with help, rise above it.

Symbolism

Doug’s name was a particularly serendipitous find. Douglas means dark stranger, and that is precisely what he is. For Lili, who meets him in a pitch-black dream, he is the ultimate stranger. But he’s also what she needs. He shakes up her world.

His surname is changed when he comes to our side of the pond. Much like an immigrant, he wants to leave his old life behind him, and become the man that Lili wants and needs – the man she can see is lurking under the surface. The surname Beckett is a shout out to Quantum Leap.

Doug is also, in many ways, the opposite side of her coin. She’s somewhat distant with people. He is, too, but it’s not because he truly wants to be. It’s more that the Mirror has made him that way (see his origins story, Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions), due to its insistence that weakness be rooted out and punished or excised or, at least, well-hidden.

Doug is also action and movement – he is something of an air element. As Leonora is communication, Lili is fire, Malcolm is water and Melissa is the earth, Doug is the air.

Portrayal

Steven Culp
Steven Culp

Because (eek, spoilers!) Doug is Major Jay Hayes‘s Mirror Universe counterpart, he is of course portrayed by Steven Culp. Culp is a consummate actor, perfect for the role. I have read a number of interviews with him, and he has said that he treated Hayes as almost a David Mamet character. That is, he was more action than talk. Notice, too, that in the series, Jay Hayes rarely smiles. Instead, he is all business.

The name Jay is not canon. Culp has said he thought the character was named Jay or Jeremiah. There are also trading cards showing the name as being Joss. I have used all three names, giving Jeremiah as the name of both Doug’s father and his first-born son (nicknamed Joss), with Jay as being the name of the canon character and Doug’s own middle name. Jay worked out perfectly in this way, as it works as both a first and a middle name in a way that Jeremiah would not have.

Personality

Much like canon character Jay Hayes, Doug is not much of a talker. In Reversal, he has few ways of complimenting Lili, mainly calling her beautiful rather than use synonyms that he is either uncomfortable with or, perhaps, doesn’t even know. That book has a ton of hesitation speech. Doug is nervous in the mirror, in particular around the Empress, although that’s to be expected. With Lili, he’s also nervous, because he’s a bit tongue-tied. And he wants, desperately, for her to like him. He often doesn’t know what to say, but he always seems to know what to do.

Once they are together in our universe, Doug’s demeanor softens considerably. He tries very hard to please Lili and make their life together as good as it can possibly be. Their early life together is in A Kind of Blue, Friday Visit, Pacing and The Gift.

When his relationship with Lili is tested in Together, Doug has few communications strategies at his disposal. When they argue, he very quickly hits below the belt. This, I feel, makes some sense, as Doug hasn’t really learned to be sensitive to others’ feelings. He knows that he loves her, and he wants for everything to work itself out, but he can’t really see the pathway to that.

Action and Maturity

In Temper, he even refers to himself as “the action guy”. Hence he is the one chosen for the mission by Daniels (also because of his twenty centimeter radiation band), for he will get things done. Malcolm has to stay behind because his place is to step in and lead.

By the time Fortune has come around, Doug has been hiding his past rather effectively. Lili knows some of it. She is well aware that he has committed some monstrous deeds in the Mirror Universe. But she wants to believe that he will never do such things again. She’s in some denial herself, in that she’d rather not hear about things. It isn’t until she pushes and asks about his crimes does Doug finally come clean. Furthermore, for Doug, who is inarticulate at best, having him handle a hostage situation by talking instead of shooting was, to me, a fitting full circle behavior. Life here is, after all, very different from the mirror.

Their later life together is documented in The Facts and his death and its aftermath is shown in Equinox.

Doug Beckett in the Mirror Universe

Since Doug is a counterpart character, his life begins in the Mirror. He is the only child of Jeremiah and Lena Hayes, and lives with them on Ganymede. Because of a late birth date (December third, same as Steven Culp’s), his parents force him into schooling at too young an age. Doug’s education is such that anyone in authority pushes him to become a bully and a fighter.

After his eventual graduation, he goes to Cambodia for basic training, and then to freighter defense and other small assignments, essentially acting as a mercenary. He spends time on Andoria, the Klingon home world and other locales, fighting and working as a soldier, molding himself from an untrained, arrogant lummox until, eventually, a disciplined fighting man.

He gets onto the ISS Enterprise by knifing Geming Sulu. His elevation to Lieutenant Commander, to replace the deceased Mirror Universe Malcolm Reed (called Ian Reed in my fanfiction), is part of Paving Stones. While on the Defiant, he meets Lili.

Relationships

His times with Lili and Melissa are the most important for him. However, prior to the crossing over, he did have some relationships. His first main girlfriend (if you can call her that) in the Mirror was Darareaksmey Preap. She was a Cambodian bar girl who he plied with gifts and false “I love yous” until he was able to lose his virginity to her.

Another Mirror relationship – if you could say that – was with Christine Chalmers. The name is a shout out to canon character Christine Chapel. Chalmers is a cheap girl who he, at the time, thought was very hot. One of the crimes that Doug commits was to be with her, and his guilt about that consumes him.

Getting More Serious

His first true relationship is with alcoholic schoolteacher Susan Cheshire. Susan is an important person to him, although he insists to Lili that he didn’t love her. But he’s certainly memorable to her – she recognizes him during Temper.

Doug also has an on-again, off-again thing with Shelby Pike who, in the Mirror, is a pilot who used to be a hooker. Once he knew Shelby, he would cheat on other girlfriends with her.

Doug’s final relationship in the Mirror, which ends after he’s known Lili for less than a week, is with Jennifer Crossman. Jenn is a poor choice for a girlfriend, mainly there for her looks rather than any sort of compatibility. While they’re breaking up, she claims that he can’t live alone. Doug refuses to admit it, but she’s right about that.

Music

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Steven Culp as Douglas Jay Hayes/Doug Beckett (image is for educational purposes only)
Steven Culp as Douglas Jay Hayes/Doug Beckett (image is for educational purposes only)

Doug has various theme songs.

He begins with Robbie Williams’s Feel and then segues to Snow Patrol’s Shut Your Eyes, and shares John Legend’s Ordinary People with Lili and the Cure’s Let’s Go to Bed with Melissa.

For Temper, his music is Dog’s Eye View’s Everything Falls Apart.

His final music is Billy Joel’s Honesty.

Quote

There are all sorts of quotes I could place here. For a guy who’s not too terribly articulate, I suppose I’ve given him a lot of memorable things to say. Here’s one.

“I thought I could leave it all behind me. Achieve, maybe, some measure of forgiveness. But that’s not the main reason. I came here because of you.”

Upshot

Doug is one of my most complex and complete characters. I am immensely proud of this character.

Review – Reversal

Reversal, a Fanfiction Revival

Reversal got its name on a lark. I hadn’t written Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction in quite a while.

So I was, in all honesty, spinning it out from nothing. I had nearly no plan for the story, no outline and at first I wasn’t even saving it to Word. And so, when I was saving the first post, the topic had to have a name. On an impulse, I named it Reversal.

And the title proved to be perfect.

Origins

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Reversal
Reversal

I had a dream. No, not like Martin Luther King!

It was a rather earthy dream, truth be told. And it was about a character on Enterprise. And I woke up, thinking – there’s a story there.

From such beginnings, I developed an idea. The septum between the Prime Universe and the Mirror would be thinner at one particular point in the galaxy. This was in parallel to the reality of the Earth’s crust. It is not uniform. Hence I wanted the separation to not be of uniform thickness/difficulty in crossing.

Bare Bones Story Line

The idea was for it to be possible to cross the boundary between the Prime Universe and the mirror through the dream state. The concept was that, for a certain species, the connections would be normal. And then, as the NX-01 Enterprise on our side, and the ISS Defiant on the other, enter that same system, the psionically charged atmosphere would cause two people to simultaneously start to pick up on that same wavelength. But for them, it would be a romance.

It starts off with a bang. The first line is – It didn’t hurt. I love this opening line, as the reader should immediately be thinking – what? What didn’t hurt? Was it supposed to? And then the story moves along from there. The first dream is a coupling dream, where a fantasy plays out in what seems to be a normal Freudian fashion. People kiss, their clothes fly away and of course more happens. It’s pitch black. They remain silent, although they can hear each other breathing. But then the heroine – Lili O’Day – breaks the spell by incoherently calling out loud.

And so we’re off to the races, for the next two scenes shift from her and her roommate in our universe to her fellow and his roommate – a woman – in the mirror. We know Lili’s name, but not the guy’s. He’s just referred to – and rather pejoratively at that – as the old man. His name is kept out of the first few chapters as he is a counterpart to a canon character.

Clues abound and some come from the characters’ speaking whereas others come from Lili talking in her sleep or references from the twin surfaces. Something is going on, in both universes. There is more happening than just the dreams.

Symbolism

From the beginning, I wanted the story to have symbolic meanings. For the title, the first half of the word, rêve, is French for dream. This also works as the second half symbolizes waking life. Plus there is the word itself and its connotations of reinvention and retrograde changes.

Oranges
Oranges

Other symbols abound. After the first dream, Lili – who is the sous-chef on the Enterprise – is ordered to make every meal with oranges for one day. When she goes to sleep that night, she reeks of oranges, and it’s the first word that her fellow says to her. So, not only can he smell her, but there is also what oranges kind of mean. They are of course different from apples (and apples connote temptation and the fall from purity). Oranges, I felt would symbolize sunshine and happiness, and warmth and light.

Artist's impression of HD 98800.
Artist’s impression of HD 98800. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another symbol or rather symbols is the quadruple star system. The largest star is a white giant named Lo, which should make the reader think of the phrase lo and behold. The second-largest star is a yellow medium-size star like the sun. It’s Abic (Ay-bick), a bit like abba, the Hebrew word for father. The third star is a small orange star, Fep. The smallest one is a red dwarf (yes, it’s a shout out to that TV series) called Ub. Hoshi herself explains that there are value judgments behind the names – Lo is for goodness, Abic is secondary, Fep is small and Ub is sinister.

Subject Matter

The five main books in the In Between Days series are each about one of the five main characters (Pamela Hudson is essentially the sixth main character, but she isn’t connected with any book as well as she is with Intolerance). Reversal is, essentially, about Lili. From learning about the fire that killed her parents, to getting to know her as a chef, a lover and a friend, to even peeking at her finances, Lili is all over most of the pages, particularly in the dream sequences and the Prime Universe scenes. This is Lili’s tale.

Music

This story is less musically-driven than others but it does have a few melodic moments. Lili’s theme song is Roy Orbison’s Sweet Dreams Baby.  Her fellow’s song is Robbie Williams’s Feel.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated T/M although there is a K+/T version on Fanfiction.net.

Upshot

Reversal is not the best story I have ever written. It drags at the end, as I was reluctant to give it up. But it gets the series off splendidly and, truly, almost everything else springs from it in one way or another (albeit sometimes indirectly). I continually mine it for backstory tales of Lili and her fellow and their many supporting cast members, like Chip Masterson, Leonora Digiorno, Melissa Madden, Pamela Hudson, Andrew Miller, Brian Delacroix and Jun Daniels Sato and many others.

It’s just the gift that keeps on giving; it’s so incredibly dense with plot. I am grateful to have such a pond to fish in. Apparently readers have agreed; on various platforms, it has racked up over 500,000 total reads.

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman

Aside from canon characters, Jennifer was the first character specifically written for Star Trek fan fiction who I could truly visualize.

Origins

In Reversal, Lili needed a roommate for a few purposes. One of these was to bounce ideas off. The other was to be an ear-witness to Lili talking in her sleep. Plus roommates are canon in Star Trek: Enterprise for lower-level personnel. I wanted Jennifer and Lili to have little in common, too.

Symbolism

Jenny has any number of symbolic elements to her. Her name has two derivations. The full surname is actually the name of a street near where I grew up. But the Cross part was also to pay homage to Marcia Cross. Both have fiery red hair, too.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman
Bryce Dallas Howard

I immediately saw Bryce Dallas Howard when I first thought up Jennifer. There is a look of youth and vitality but also some mystery – I suppose it’s a bit of the overall mystique that some redheads seem to possess.

Jenny also needs to be believable in the Mirror Universe as a lot of the portrayal, in particular in Reversal, is on the other side of the pond as well. Unlike other characters who might just have a one-shot bit in the mirror, Jenn is shown there almost as much as she is shown here.

Personality

Jenny is the second-in-command engineer on both the USS Enterprise and the ISS Defiant when Reversal begins. In our universe, she is somewhat unaware or is perhaps in denial about her own obvious beauty. She doesn’t even know that the men refer to her as the Redheaded Bombshell until Travis tells her in Together.

Relationships

Frank Ramirez

In our universe, this long-distance relationship with a planetary geologist has been going on for a while during Reversal. She tells Travis that she and Frank met on a blind date, a fact that Travis barely believes. Why would someone so gorgeous need a blind date? Yet that was what happened. Frank proposes when, one morning, he sees Saturn’s rings in the sky (he’s on Enceladus) and realizes he wants to give her a ring, too. Their relationship (like other relationships) is put to the test in Together, where her theme is The Cult’s Fire Woman.

Aidan MacKenzie

In the E2 stories, Frank isn’t on board (and she has not yet met him), so she ends up going in a different direction, and marries Aidan during both kick backs in time.

Mirror Universe

Jenn is a darker figure in the mirror, as are most people. Spoiled and nasty, and rather sluttish, Jenn is more interested in a good time than in almost anything else – yet she is still intelligent and is still the second engineer.

Portrait of a Character – Jennifer Crossman

Her relationship with Doug is strained at best. For her, it’s a power move to be associated with the fourth in command. For him, she’s a hot girl who will live with him as he dislikes living alone. But neither of them are happy and, once Doug meets Lili, he’s done with Jennifer.

She ends up with Treve, a Calafan, and they remain together until his death. Their long-term relationship is shown in, among other stories, He Stays a Stranger.

Quote

“I know why you fell so hard, and so fast. It’s ’cause, you just know.”

Upshot

Initially intended to be dizzy, bratty and a foil for Lili, they become friends. This smart engineer is more than just a pretty face.