Category Archives: Review

Review – Concord

Review – Concord

Origins

Review – Concord
Concord Cover

The prompt was about “a page from the past”. I had long thought about dropping a Star Trek: Enterprise character into the extreme past, and had even done this with a pair of TNG characters, in Crackerjack.

But I wanted to go back even further, so I hit upon the start of the American Revolution and a local pair of battles – Lexington and Concord.

And what better person to toss into that pressure cooker than someone who would be in trouble the minute he opened his mouth?

Enter Malcolm Reed.

Plot Points

The Premise

Reed is unceremoniously dumped right into the middle of the Battle of Lexington, and that’s only the start of his troubles.

An Injury

Because he’s wholly unprepared for this form of warfare, he becomes injured, but not horribly so. However, in 1775, infected injuries could easily result in a loss of limb or life. I deliberately made it so that the surgeon in the regiment had already died, and the village doctor had joined the militia. These absences meant that Malcolm would have to be treated in some other fashion.

At the same time, the man next to him, Robert Lennox, is a lot worse off, and may die.

A Place to Go

Review – Concord

The quartering of troops is very real to history, and so I had Malcolm’s commanding officer push for a farmhouse to accept the two injured men. Malcolm is apologetic at the same time that his commander – the true to history Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith – is rude and blustery. The mistress of the farmhouse accepts the two wounded men as she is given very little choice in the matter. She is a colonial and is sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. Her husband has even gone to fight for it. But she is alone and is not about to let Malcolm or Robert die on her doorstep.

Some Soon to be Familiar Names

The mistress of the house introduces herself as Charlotte Hayes, wife to Jacob Hayes. She and her servant, Benjamin Warren, keep the home and assist the two wounded men. Because the Concord story begins right before Voracious, the names O’Day and Hayes are not yet known to the characters. Furthermore, the name Warren also figures in my stories. In Crackerjack, Wesley’s wife’s maiden name is Warren, and in the E2 stories, there is a Science crewman named Nyota Warren, who ends up with canon character Billy Dane. Benjamin is an ancestor of them just like Charlotte and Jacob are ancestors to Lili and Jay (thereby making Jay and Lili distant cousins).

How Did He Get There? And How Does He Get Back?

Without giving away too many spoilers, suffice it to say that Malcolm’s presence in 1775 is due to a temporal experiment gone wrong.  His return can only be effected by the experimenters figuring out the problem, and solving it.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I love how the historical aspects worked out. I did a great deal of research in order to understand how the farm would be put together, what things would cost and any number of other details. The story was extremely satisfying to put together and is easily one of my absolute favorites.

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi

Background

Back in 2005, I wrote an initial five Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction stories. They were all intended to be centered around the five senses. More, More, More was about hearing. The Puzzle (which was a more complex and ambitious tale) was about sight. The Adventures of Porthos took on smell. And If You Can’t Stand the Heat was about taste.

Hence There’s Something About Hoshi was about touch and, by extension, feelings.

Plot

The story begins with Hoshi Sato being courted by Ted Stone. But he’s a somewhat inept suitor, and keeps missing his marks. He tries to be romantic but can’t quite get it right. Hoshi fears she is settling, and references the canon E2 episode where she settled for “old what’s his name” (Sekar Khan, the Quartermaster).

The Enterprise is contacted by an unknown species, the Arisians. They notice her on the Bridge and their communications are inept enough that one of them is heard mentioning his astonishment that there is a woman. A pretext is created for Hoshi to come to the surface. She agrees even though everyone that the Enterprise sees on Aris seems to be male.

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi
Hoshi dressed for the evening (Linda Park)

A pair of MACOs accompany Hoshi, and it becomes clear that they are a gay couple. Friends of hers, they compliment her on her choice of attire for the evening. It’s confirmed that Frank Todd will be one of the MACOs going to the surface (Frank also shows up in Shell Shock and in the E2 stories), as will his boss, Major Dawson (Dawson is also a part of Shell Shock and is the replacement for Jay Hayes).

A visit to the planet confirms that everyone is male. Milit, an Arisian, tells the landing party (in addition to Hoshi, Corporal Todd and Major Dawson, Travis Mayweather, Jonathan Archer and Malcolm Reed are present) that, long ago, the men of his species researched how to decrease gestation until eventually they could accomplish all of it without women. Once that was accomplished, they allowed all of the women to die out and only cloned males. Hoshi realizes, uncomfortably, that she is the only woman on the entire planet.

Review – There’s Something About Hoshi
Hieroglyphics at mesa pintada

She asks to see hieroglyphics, which were the pretext for getting her to the surface. Todd and an Arisian, Lio, accompany her to where the hieroglyphics are supposed to be. Todd and Hoshi are overcome and her hormones are extracted via syringe. However, Lio and his cohorts also inject her and Corporal Todd with something else.

By the time Hoshi returns to the ship, she is suddenly irresistible to all of the men on board (and a few women as well), but not Corporal Todd as his preference doesn’t go that way. Harassed and scared, even the captain gets in on bothering her, leering at her on the Bridge as various other male crew members make all sorts of passes at her until the Arisians can make things right again.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I played the story for humor. While it’s still funny, seven years of hindsight give me another perspective. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of creepy, the way that everyone is throwing themselves at her. The character was in very real danger of being sexually assaulted. If I were writing the story today, I would probably amp up the fear more, and downplay more of the humor.

Review – A Kind of Blue

Review – A Kind of Blue

Background

In Reversal, I establish that Lili in blue Lili O’Day‘s favorite color is blue. Reversal also, happily, ends up with Doug and Lili more or less riding off into the sunset.

At least, that was the original idea.

But then came the fanfiction prequels and the sequels.

Bridge Stories and Prequels

Reversal is a prequel to A Kind of Blue, but so is Local Flavor, which begins Doug and Lili’s life on Lafa II and begins to establish some of the background. That is, they are new on Lafa II, their only friends are Treve and his family, and they barely have two nickels to rub together. All of this is played out against the backdrop of being the only humans in the entire Lafa System. Plus the Calafans all seem to be on the make.

Plot

Review – A Kind of Blue
Positive Pregnancy Test

This story was written in response to a challenge to write a happy story, so I went with the color as an indicator of sadness but, also, of far different things. For Lili, the first indicator is this one – and it works with the stories as one of the bits of information from Reversal is that Doug is powerful enough that he’s probably going to be able to get by her birth control.

What has also been established is that she’d need to have surgery, and have the operation known as The O’Day Reversal put back in order to be able to successfully carry a fetus to term. With Lili pregnant (and experiencing wicked morning sickness), the first stop is Doctor Miva‘s office, but before they can go anywhere, Doug drops the stick on the floor of their apartment. He suddenly realizes he’s on bended knee, so he proposes.

The remainder of the story is the surgery and then their wedding, which includes Calafan wedding vows and surprise rings purchased by Doug.

Rating

The story is rated K.

Sequels

Review – A Kind of Blue
Pregnant Naomi Watts as Lili

With a wedding and a baby come other responsibilities. But there’s still time to visit friends in Friday Visit, and Pacing and The Gift both advance the Becketts’ lives together even more.

In addition, the new restaurant, Reversal, opens up. Lili and Doug can barely look up, and there is no time to do renovations and put in a bigger and more modern stove until the couple depart for a vacation to Oberon for Jenny and Frank‘s wedding, which Lili will cater (Together).

Story Postings

Upshot

The color blue does not have to mean sadness. And in this case, that’s the last thing from anyone’s mind.

Review – Intolerance

Story Origins

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.

Plot

Intolerance
Intolerance

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.

The Ronettes
Cover of The Ronettes

Then the fun begins. Travis hears that there are five students coming. Three, he figures, are female. He tells Malcolm and Tripplet’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.

Music

Amy Winehouse
Cover of Amy Winehouse

Chip and Aidan show the film Dirty Dancing and the discussion that ensues is a small plot point. It also introduces some of the music, such as Mickey and Sylvia‘s Love is Strange and The Ronettes Be My Baby. But Pamela herself has her own music – Amy Winehouse‘s You Know I’m No Good.

Story Postings

Rating

There are two versions of this story. The version of Intolerance on Ad Astra is rated M. The version of Intolerance on Fanfiction.net is rated T. The difference is the explicitness of the more intimate scenes.

Upshot

British actor Dominic Keating, DragonCon 2008
British actor Dominic Keating, DragonCon 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This story is a bit of a detour. Of the main books in the In Between Days series, it’s more of a left turn than anything else. It is ostensibly Malcolm’s story in the same way that Reversal is Lili‘s story, Together is Melissa‘s, Temper is Doug‘s and Fortune is Leonora‘s, but it’s also very much Pamela‘s story (as is Saturn Rise). Plus Malcolm is revealed in many other tales that I’ve written since then.

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.

Kaley Cuoco
Kaley Cuoco (Photo credit: 루미넌스)

A lot of the elements are well-executed, 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.

 

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Review – Broken Seal

Broken Seal Background

Broken Seal was written in response to a monthly challenge about silence. It takes place in the In Between Days time period and the Prime Universe, after Together and before The Cure is Worse than the Disease.

Premise

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.

The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal

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.

Bambi Woods - not the star of The Seventh Seal
Bambi Woods – not the star of The Seventh Seal

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.

Story Postings

Rating

While the story is rated K, it does refer to an NC-17-rated film.

Upshot

While I like the comedy aspects of it, I think I could have amped it up even more. Hence I think Chip’s pain and fear that he’d lose his Ensign’s rank should have been played up more.

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Review – Coveted Commodity

Review – Coveted Commodity

Background

Coveted Commodity was originally written as a response to a Trek BBS challenge about a new day dawning. I decided to put a mirror universe spin on it, and so I went with the mirror Travis making a turning point type of decision in his life.

Story Highlights

Mirror Travis
Mirror Travis

The tale begins with Travis Mayweather sitting in Sick Bay, waiting for … something. The Derellian bat makes another appearance; its loud shriek causes Travis to unsheathe his sidearm, “ready to shoot that damned bat”. But who or what is Travis waiting for?

The exposition brings it together, that he is waiting on Empress Hoshi. She is pregnant with his child. And there are complications.

For people in the mirror universe, particularly men, signs of weakness are not only degrading, they’re downright dangerous. Hence what is happening to Travis’s son could not only harm the child at that time and later, it could also harm Travis’s own standing.

Plus, this is not the Empress’s first child. That honor is reserved for Jun Daniels Sato. This is, instead, Hoshi’s sixth.

Travis begins the story indifferent as to outcomes, but becomes mightily interested once it becomes clear that the fetus is damaged. Furthermore, Doctor Morgan gives him a choice – allow the surgery (the fetus has a hole in his heart that must be repaired in utero), but also allow the doctor to kill off Hoshi. The doctor’s tempting offer is a corker – end Hoshi’s reign of terror, but also kill off your own son; kill off your son due to inaction on your part; or allow the surgery and allow Hoshi to live.

Travis chooses the latter option. His new day dawning is that he decides he wants to be a father. This is in keeping with the way I have written mirror universe men. The way I write them, they are violent but they are also good fathers. They want their children to survive, and will do anything to assure that (including violence). Hence Travis’s sole option is to permit the surgery but not allow the doctor to kill (or fail to resuscitate) Hoshi on the table.

In Temper, it is revealed that the choice works for the child (Izo) but Travis is not allowed to enjoy the fruits of his choice. Time is somewhat incoherent in Temper, but the events occur after the surgery and, in the alternate timelines and in the restored proper timeline, Travis meets his end.

Story Postings

Rating

Although the story does have some adult elements (Hoshi is portrayed as a woman with children from multiple fathers), the rating is G.

Upshot

I think execution was pretty good on this one. Once again, much like in First Born, a mirror child’s life hangs in the balance, and the father must make the right choice so that the child may survive.

Review – And the Livin’ is Easy

Review – And the Livin’ is Easy

Background

This story was originally written as a response to a prompt about the seasons. I had already written a story about winter, called A Hazy Shade. That one was somewhat depressing. I wanted something cheerier, so I thought of the summertime, and so And the Livin’ is Easy was born.

Plot Elements

As a missing scene from the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode Two Days and Two Nights, I wanted to obliquely introduce the Calafans without beating the reader over the head with that. Hence, in this little ficlet, Jonathan Archer is engaging in a little girl watching.

There are two women in his sights. They are chatting together, but are not on Risa together on vacation. Rather, it’s more like they met there and got along so they are doing a little quick touring together.

Review – And the Livin' is Easy
Archer IV fish

In the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode, Archer refers to a boat ride where fish are caught and cooked for you right there. Since that boat ride is never seen, I seized the opportunity to show it. He is on a bench and the two women are nearby, chatting. One is a Trill, but not named. This is not meant to be a first contact or canon-busting story at all. The other is a Calafan, recognizable from my Star Trek fanfiction as she has silvery scrollwork on her arms and speaks with an Irish brogue.

Jonathan speaks with them and asks them to show him around, but unfortunately they tell him they are leaving the following day.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

The story was just meant to be a gentle summery kind of scene. I think it makes a sweet little prequel tale.

Review – Waiting

Review – Waiting

Background

I wanted to follow up on The Light, and continue to follow the original characters who had been introduced in that work. Hence, Waiting was born. It was also a response to a prompt of the same name.

Characters

At the end of The Light, Ethan Shapiro has just seen his friend, Andrew Miller, get the girl – Karin Bernstein. By all accounts, Ethan approves of the match and, certainly, has taken no steps to prevent it and has raised no objections. But all is not as it seems.

In addition, their friend Azar Hamidi has watched the exchange, a kind of little dance among the participants.

Together with Shelby Pike, they wait on the chow line as Lili O’Day serves dinner. Shelby notices Andy and Karin acting strange and, perhaps, overly anxiously. She sits down with Hoshi Sato and Maryam Haroun. Shelby comments knowingly that it’s likely Karin and Andrew’s third date. Hoshi agrees. Maryam doesn’t know what that means, so one of her friends whispers to her. Maryam, a little shocked, mentions that she won’t do that until she’s married. That is, this is going to be the date where Andrew and Karin go all the way.

When they have departed, Azar and Ethan commiserate. Azar notices that Ethan is bothered by this, but vows to keep the secret, so long as Ethan keeps his (Azar’s) own secret about harboring a bit of a crush on Maryam. For Azar, it would not be proper to go on dates until he was introduced to her family.

woman_in_hijab
woman_in_hijab (Photo credit: xgthox)

As Shiite Muslims, Azar Hamidi and Maryam Haroun are of one sect. Another Muslim character, Ramih Azar, is Sunni (he is not in this story). But Maryam and Azar are the more religious two of the three Muslim crew members. The question of which sect is more observant is a complicated one, and I don’t pretend to answer it. All I go with is that Maryam has lived in a Western city (Winnipeg) whereas Azar is from Iran. Ramih, on the other hand, is Indonesian. I settle the matter by making it so that Maryam wears a hijab and is very strict about who to marry and how far to go before marriage. In the E2 stories, it’s revealed that she was only kissed twice before marriage, whereas Azar has had some sexual relationships. But for Azar during Waiting, all he wants to do is get closer. He may be thinking of other things, but is not prepared to push them at that moment in time.

As for Ethan, he is finding that he is very interested in Karin and, having allowed Andrew to get there first, he’s kicking himself. He’ll have to wait for everything to play out over time.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I think the story came out pretty well. I didn’t want to make it too clichéd in terms of who retains their virginity, who is shocked, who is aggressive, etc. However, I also wanted to handle the diverse religious elements respectfully.


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Review – Protocols

ReviewProtocols 

Protocols was written in response to a prompt about arts and crafts, and covers a small missing scene from the third season of ENT. Namely, it’s the celebration of Captain

Review – Protocols
Scott Bakula

Archer‘s birthday. As a result, it was meant to be a bit of a contrast to the ENT canon Silent Enemy episode, wherein the executive staff celebrates Malcolm Reed‘s birthday. Because the Xindi war is raging, I wanted it to be different.

Preparations

For Lili to ply her trade as a combination sous-chef, pastry chef and saucier, she needs to be able to expertly handle a pastry bag and tip. Although art runs in her family (in Fortune, she reveals that her mother was a potter), Lili isn’t meant to be a fine artist. Therefore, she traces the image of a shuttle, and of Captain Archer, onto the top of the cake by projecting an image with her PADD and then following along with icing.

Mistake

Review – Protocols

Lili makes one big error by writing out Happy Birthday, Jonathan! instead of Happy Birthday, Captain Archer! Chef Slocum points this out to her, but it’s too late to fix it. Slocum tells her that Archer has been in a foul mood ever since the Loque’eque virus (from the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode Extinction). A little apprehensive, she serves the birthday dinner, and then the dessert, which is a strawberry shortcake. She has chosen strawberry because, unlike in Silent Enemy, she has been taking note of the food preferences of the executive staff. If strawberry isn’t Jonathan Archer‘s favorite, it’s probably close enough. In Local Flavor, Travis comments that he’s going to miss her strawberry shortcake.

Redemption

After the cake is cut and the dinner is over, the captain approaches her. Lili immediately apologizes for being overly familiar and not following proper protocols. But the captain sees things differently, and urges her to make the same cake, with the same greeting on it, the following year, assuming they make it out of the Xindi war alive.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like how the story flowed, from Lili’s task to Will Slocum scolding her, to the dinner (which includes referencing to the canon conflict between Malcolm Reed and Jay Hayes) to the short post-dinner conversation. I’m very happy with how this ficlet turned out.


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Review – Harvest

Review – Harvest

Background

Lili has to, at some point, join the NX-01. She is essentially drafted during the Star Trek: Enteprise canon Xindi war, and is meant to replace steward Preston Jennings and an unnamed sous-chef and an equally unnamed pastry chef, as non-combat personnel really need to be whittled down.

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

Review – Harvest

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. Furthermore, Tripp Tucker‘s very recent bereavement was also meant to be evoked in 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.

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

The Meal

The captain and the senior staff are made to wait as the chef and the new sous-chef are a bit late. Hence the captain makes use of the time in order to introduce the new MACO CO, as it’s also his first day. As should be expected, 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 and forgets she’s still holding a teacup when she comes over to be introduced. 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 varied fruits and nuts, it can symbolize some of the disparate elements that are coming together. Lili spends some of her getting acquainted time asking various senior staffers what some of their favorite foods are, and promises to give them portions with extras of their favorites. It is in this scene that Malcolm’s canon love of pineapple, and Tripp’s canon love of pecan pie, are both reiterated. Jay Hayes reveals a preference for blueberries, whereas Captain Archer’s preference for strawberries is not revealed until Protocols.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like how it turned out; plus it was well-received. 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. I like to think it was executed more than adequately.