Category Archives: Review

Review – The Reptile Speaks

Review – The Reptile Speaks

A reptile speaks?

Background

I can’t recall the precise circumstances, but I was a fairly new member of Ad Astra and we were talking about mixed-species couples in Star Trek fanfiction.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Reptile Speaks
The Reptile Speaks

My point was, as we get deeper and deeper into the future, we’d start to see a lot of – to us – bizarre combinations.

Why wouldn’t a Gorn recite love poetry to a lovely, blushing Cardassian maiden?

And so someone threw the gauntlet down and told me, write this.

Plot

For teenaged boys Bron and Skrol, the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance is an occasion for nerves. Skrol is trying to make time with his girl, Tr’Dorna. Skrol encourages Bron to ask out Tr’Dorna’s roommate, Etrina. But Bron will have none of that – he likes Sophra.

Oh, and did I mention that the boys are Gorn, Etrina and Tr’Dorna are Xindi Reptilian, and Sophra (and her roommate, Ylinka) is a Cardassian?

Perhaps that detail shouldn’t have been left out.

But, truly, teens are teens, wherever you go, and whatever age adolescence happens for a particular species (for Vulcans, it apparently happens somewhat later). And so there is a bit of a push and pull. Who will end up together? Will she accept or repel Bron’s advances? Bron’s got a secret weapon, but you’ll have to read the story in order to find out just what it is.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

Finally, orn are nearly universally hissing, sneering bad guys, and I wanted there to be a way to redeem them. After all, they’re not too terribly different from Xindi Reptilians, and that species saw redemption by the end of ENT. Plus, I would hope that, eventually, the entire galaxy will be at peace. That means breaking bread with Gorn. And if they are at all like Bron, and even Skrol, it’ll be easy.

Review – Temper

Review – Temper

Background

I originally wrote Temper for two reasons.

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

One, I wanted to introduce a way into a vague idea I had for a Star Trek fan fiction time travel series. And two, I wanted to not only continue the story of Doug, Lili, Malcolm, Melissa and Leonora, but I wanted the kids to be older without aging Lili and Doug quite so much. After all, Doug is fifty-five when he meets Lili. Therefore, he would be in his sixties for any stories where the children could really interact and be an integral part of the plot. But a time travel story could rather neatly fix all of that.

Beyond that, I also wanted a way to continue the saga of the Empress Hoshi Sato and her son, Jun, the son of time traveler Richard Daniels. Furthermore, I wanted more kids in the royal family. For the Empress, it would be a Machiavellian move – she would have several children of different fathers, thereby diversifying genetically and, perhaps, given the tenderhearted paternal feelings that go along with the Y Chromosome Skew, she would get the male members of her senior staff to keep her alive, at least until her children reached the age of majority. And in Temper, they are just about all there.

Plot

The story begins with a snapshot into how the arrangement among Malcolm, Lili, Doug, Melissa and Leonora really works. Doug and Melissa are out hunting linfep, and then perrazin, with phase bows. Malcolm and Lili are going on vacation to Fep City. And the children are either with Leonora or are being cared for by Yimar. The occasion is that Melissa wants to have another baby.

But then Malcolm must return to the Enterprise, and Lili comes home early. Time Traveler Richard Daniels arrives and tells her that he needs Doug for something. She’s not so sure she believes him, and is a bit peeved that he’s landed his ship, the brand-new HG Wells, right on top of her day lilies. In order to fix this, he adds a drop of his blood to the soil but does not tell her that it’s spiked with stem cell growth accelerator.

Rick Steps In

When Doug and Melissa get in, and Malcolm is reached via communicator and Leonora arrives separately, Rick tells them why he needs Doug – the Empress is experimenting with what’s called a pulse shot. She’s looking to get over to our side of the pond, because she thinks that she can get more ships like the ISS Defiant.

But her few attempts are clumsy, and they wreak havoc with time itself, causing breaks in 2166 and 2161, including people from our universe crossing over to the Mirror and being trapped there (this includes the three eldest children, Joss, Marie Patrice and Tommy). Rick’s best information is on 2166, so he needs that part repaired first. Doug is the logical choice because, being from the Mirror originally, he sports a radiation band that matches that universe. Lili is chosen to accompany him because she’s considered non-threatening and, with false calloo tattoos on her arms and legs, she can pass for a Calafan. Rick explains that he cannot go as the Mirror government of his time period forbids it. This is due to the debacle about the siring of his son, Jun, which is explained in First Born.

Once Doug and Lili cross over, they find a totalitarian regime and just what’s going on with their children.

Music

Temper is less musically-driven than Together, but that makes sense as it is more of an adventure tale than a love story. However, there are still individual themes.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated M.

Upshot

I like, for the most part, how the story turned out, but it is deeper into my universe. Therefore, it can be a confusing read for someone who is not fully familiar with works that cover the earlier time periods. I do make an effort to create stand-alone stories, but I believe that the effect was somewhat mixed here. Temper is usually on the lower end of read counts for the first five big books (Reversal, Intolerance, Together, and Fortune are the other four), along with Intolerance, but in the case of Intolerance, it’s because it’s a shorter book. I suspect that Temper is a bit harder to get into. A pity, as it’s the lead-in for the HG Wells stories.

Review – Day of the Dead

Review – Day of the Dead

Background

Day of the Dead. More than just a holiday, it also references the horrors of a particularly infamous period is history. On Ad Astra, there was a prompt about the burdens of command.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Day of the Dead |

I had been kicking around an idea about Tripp Tucker being caught in a temporal interphase (which is canon in Star Trek) and liberating the Dachau concentration camp. Hence I decided to put that together with the prompt.

Tying In

The idea about Dachau was to tie into Milena Chelenska, who is Richard Daniels‘s love interest. For her, there would be a bit of a back story, as Tripp would deal with the problems that come along with witnessing just so much horror.

Furthermore, there would be a tie into Wesley Crusher, as I liked the little family and backstory I had created for him in Crackerjack and wanted to revisit some of that as well.

The backdrop to it would be Halloween, and then the Day of the Dead.

Plot

As Halloween rolls around – and this is the last Halloween of Tucker’s life, although of course he doesn’t know that – Tripp arranges with Chip Masterson to have a number of classic horror films shown. On the actual day, they show John Carpenter’s Halloween.

But before that, the NX-01 goes about some of its regular business. And the reader should be seeing that life is going on, and they are all moving forward with their lives.

Malcolm is on Lafa II with Lili, for Declan‘s birth, and Aidan MacKenzie is running Tactical in his stead. Travis has just met Ellen Warren. Jonathan is talking about his new ship, the Zefram Cochrane. Lucy Stone, the new Science Ensign, is catching the eye of both Andy Miller and Chip Masterson, even though Chip is married to the pregnant Deborah Haddon. In short, everyone is going somewhere. But Tripp Tucker is living in the past.

Movie Night

For Movie Night, he can’t ask either T’Pol or Hoshi to join him, as they are both exes of his. These are references to the Star Trek: Enterprise canon relationship with T’Pol and the fanfiction relationship in Together. But he sees MACO Corporal Amanda Cole, and begins to flirt with her rather openly. Phlox is also present, and they talk about the picture.

But then Commander Tucker vanishes.

Meanwhile – well, meanwhile in the story, but not in history – Wesley Crusher is considering the aftermath of a static warp bubble experiment where his mother, Beverly, could have lost her life. But he’s lost the warp bubble, and doesn’t know where it went.

Coincidence?

Review – Day of the Dead

Nope, it’s just another temporal-spatial-somatic interphase, much as happened in Concord.

So, where does Tucker end up? Why, he’s in the Forty-Second Infantry Division, and it’s April 29th of 1945. They are about to liberate the Dachau concentration camp.

The remainder of the story deals with Tucker’s displacement, getting him back, and how both the NX-01 and the Enterprise-D work to solve their own, respective, problems.

Music

As the plot unfolds, classic spooky music shows up, and each chapter begins and ends with lyrics as follows –

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K+.

Upshot

I added a number of questions about command and promotions, as characters flirt with garnering more responsibility, and how they will deal with such things. In addition, the changes made during the story have the potential to affect the principals for years to come. The burdens of memory and the horrors of war intersect, as Tucker discards his love of horror, and Wesley thinks outside of his own personal bubble, and they both think and act outside themselves.

This story won the challenge; it was my second win (after Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions). I am immensely proud of it, and have featured it in the second Adult Trek Anthology.

Review – Some Assembly Required

Review – Some Assembly Required

Aw, Some Assembly Required is cute.

Background

There had been enough somber stories in the Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction Daranaean arc, so I wanted something a lot more lighthearted. After having written Temptation, I then added the Christmas story, Some Assembly Required, which takes place not too long afterwards.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Some Assembly Required
Some Assembly Required

It’s the holidays, and the Enterprise is exchanging gifts with the most prominent Daranaean family. For the little alien children, it’s three boxes of toys. Little Seppa, in particular, is excited to not only play with the new toys (particularly with her half-sister, Minna, who is nearly the same age as her), but also to thank Captain Archer and Commander Reed. Reed has selected the toys.

But things are off, and Seppa begins to cry. Why? The toys all seem to be broken. So she is afraid that the adults will get angry with her, and will blame her for that. As a third caste Daranaean female, whose mother is dead and father is in the prison, she knows she has very little status. Even at age four, she realizes that her comfortable existence is because of people who could just as easily throw her out on the streets. She knows how lucky she truly is.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Daranaean Writing | Some Assembly Required
Daranaean Writing

In the meantime, the Daranaeans have sent a large serving platter, and they all signed their names to it.

And they imparted a new saying, ‘We have a new saying on Daranaea: When human friends come, happiness is sure to follow.’

Although Seppa and the other children play together, and learn together, there is still some separation. The story ends on a wistful note, as Seppa gazes longingly at images of Earth, dreaming of visiting someday.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Starfleet Headquarters | Some Assembly Required
Starfleet Headquarters (the jigsaw puzzle)

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I liked the family feel of this one and, as always, language matters when it comes to the Daranaeans. When Trinning refers to Dratha respectfully, it’s a sign of huge progress. When they comfort and include Seppa, it’s another positive sign. Things are changing.

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Review – Onions

Background

On Ad Astra, there was a weekly prompt about crying. Now, I am not a fan of making my characters cry. It’s not that I don’t – God knows they weep up a storm at times. But for whatever reason, I don’t love writing the specifics of that in fanfiction. I tend to use more euphemistic expressions, such as wet face or red face. I wanted to answer the prompt, but I wanted a kind of back-handed reason for crying that wouldn’t be quite so readily apparent. And of course it came to me – chopping onions. And who better to do that than sous-chef extraordinaire Lili O’Day?

Plot

It’s Christmas Eve of 2153, and Lili and Will are putting together supper for everyone. French onion soup is on the menu, so she is chopping. And chopping. And chopping.

Chopping onions
Chopping onions

And of course her eyes are tearing and her arms are killing her.

But then Will puts his foot in his mouth, big time. She hasn’t been working with him for that long, and he decides to make conversation. He asks her what her family normally made for Christmas dinner. She mutters something about coquilles St. Jacques grilled or baked,  served in their shells with a cream sauce. But she doesn’t tell him anything else.

And Will, like a fool, persists and pushes her. And she has to blurt out that holidays are hurtful, because of the deaths of her parents.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I wanted to honor Lili’s parents and, at the same time, get across that holidays, for a lot of people, are just plain godawful. Plus I wanted a reason for her to be crying. The onions set her off, but it’s the memory – and the Will’s misguided persistence – that really ice it for her.

I think the story came out well, and packs a lot into only 560 words.


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Review – A Long, Long Time Ago

A Long, Long Time Ago

Background

A Long, Long Time Ago always had a great expectations quality to it. Since I enjoyed working on and fleshing out Richard Daniels, one of many canon Star Trek: Enterprise characters who didn’t even have a first name, I decided to give him some depth. I first brought him into my fanfiction in Temper, and I liked him so much that I decided he should really have his own series. Hence I named that series Times of the HG Wells, after his new time ship.

Origins and Originality

Richard Daniels
Canon Star Trek character Richard Daniels

And at the same time, though, I already had a time travel series in draft form. However, that set of stories actually revolved around a few disparate pieces.

Yet the thrust of it was that time travel had just started, and it was messy and it had, perhaps, destroyed the universe (it was all original although I admit some difficulty in staying away from technology and other items a little too close to Trek to be coincidental). All except for a small isolated place that was outside of time. In that set of stories, time travelers were grabbed from history itself, depending on not only their skill sets but also whether they could be plucked from wherever they were without destroying the timeline (the idea of plucking people out of thin air and just dropping them somewhere shows up in The Puzzle). These stories all had interwoven lyrics from songs about time (the first one was the Rolling StonesTime is on My Side).

Mining the Older Stories

The older set of stories contained some characters who end up in the HG Wells series. And the time travelers include hipster HD Avery (originally grabbed from 1966), and Sheilagh Bernstein (initially plucked from the present time; when I was writing those older stories, that was the late 1990s). I also included Marisol Castillo (she came from Moorish Spain and did not have a surname, so I added Castillo as she was from Castile) and Gregory Shaw (only mentioned briefly in the HG Wells series; he came from the 1840s).

Furthermore, I added Thomas Grant (originally a Confederate soldier from the Battle of Shiloh) and Polly Porter (originally from our future). And finally, I added Alice Trent (only a few small mentions in the HG Wells series; from the 1700s) and Daniel Beauchaine (a soldier in the French and Indian War).

Background Personnel

Background people also came from the older series, including Kevin O’Connor (the Chief Engineer; in the original set of stories he was not part-alien but he did have a deceased wife, Josie, just as that character does in the HG Wells series) and Otra (the alien who could see temporal alternatives). I also added Crystal Sherwood (the Quartermaster was originally a historian) and Levi Cavendish (in the older set of stories, he was the project lead and dating Otra. In the HG Wells series, he became a brilliant but difficult engineer with ADHD and a bunch of other neurological issues).

Milena Chelenska was always a doctor; in the first series, she was also a time traveler. In the HG Wells series, she’s Richard’s love interest. However, in both instances, she’s a concentration camp survivor, from the year 1968. Helen Walker also existed, but she was Tom’s ex; it wasn’t until the HG Wells series that she became something else.

Other Characters

In addition, some people from that older series never made it to the HG Wells series but who ended up elsewhere in my fan fiction – Lakeisha Warren (she was a person who worked on plucking people from history; she actually shows up in the Wesley Crusher story, Imprecision as his love interest). Plus Leonora Digiorno (first called Leonora with no last name, originally a plague survivor plucked from the Dark Ages and given the surname of Wilson to honor her late Uncle William).

Older Storylines

Furthermore, I had ideas for various stories which then became books or parts of books. The concept of a failed Italian vacation in 1960, and the shooting at Kent State in 1970, already existed in draft form. And the mission to ensure Prague Spring’s end in 1968 also existed, as did a very, very rough idea of a mission to ensure the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.

Because so much of the bones of the series already existed, I could easily chart out the main story arcs for the series. However, I had to get it going, and I already had this story in draft form, tentatively titling it The Day the Music Lived.

And so A Long, Long Time Ago was born.

Plot

The story opens with Richard and his girlfriend, Tina April (who he meets in Temper). Things are starting to go sour and the bloom is off the rose. Rick is too secretive, and Tina wants him to get closer to her. But he just can’t tell her too much. Making matters worse for her is the fact that he is so inured to pain that he is virtually incapable of loving her or anyone else. And he likes it that way.

He gets a call to head to the Temporal Integrity Commission, which is conducting group interviews for some new positions. Rick is not a part of the interviewing. Rather, he gets the call because there’s been a hiccup in time, and he must go fix it. And, as the job candidates are sent home, one of their shuttles crashes, and there’s a fatality. And we’re off to the races.

Historical Figures

Real people exist within in the story. Of course, the three doomed musicians loom large. I wrote all of the dialog, plus JP the horndog represents my own interpretation. The other real people include Waylon Jennings, who played guitar on the tour, and Bob Hale, a local disc jockey who reportedly drove the three musicians to the small airfield in Clear Lake. Of course there’s no evidence of anyone going along on the ride – that part’s all me. Everyone comes across pretty well, except for JP being a bit of a lecher.

Music

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | A Long, Long Time Ago
A Long, Long Time Ago

In order to start the series off with a bang, I needed to set the scene. The idea of using music is not a new one (I did it with Crackerjack, for starters). And the music evoked not only the time and place but also a lot about the people involved. The first mission is about music; it’s to February third of 1959, known as the day the music died. E. g. it’s the date that the plane carrying the Big Bopper (JP Richardson), Ritchie Valens (Ricky Ricardo Valenzuela) and Buddy Holly (Charles Holley) crashed in a field in Clear Lake, Iowa.

  • Don McLean’s American Pie – the song not only fits the scenario perfectly, it also helps to kick off the series. From its first words (which are the title of this story and also evoke the significant differential in time between the event and Richard’s life in the deep future) to its lyrics about the sixties and its turmoil, there was no other way to start this series.

    Review – A Long, Long Time Ago
    Buddy Holly
  • Frankie Ford’s Sea Cruise – I liked the song not only for the time period but also because it would be a very real concern for artists. The song (for real) was originally a recording by Huey “Piano” Smith.

 

However, Ford dubbed it over, as he had a more energetic vocal. Plus he was white. Valens learns, during the story, to be sure to get credit and to watch the moneymen, to assure that he doesn’t lose his rights.

The Music of the Dead

  • Ritchie Valens’ Donna – Whenever I spin out these stories, I also place a link to an era-appropriate song. And all three of the performers have multiple songs listed (e. g. Holly’s Rave On!  and the Bopper’s Big Bopper’s Wedding also made the cut), but only Valens has his lyrics interwoven with the story line.
Review – A Long, Long Time Ago
Ritchie Valens
  • Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight – This song is not only date-appropriate but it can also impart a country air. Furthermore, it is the kind of music that Waylon Jennings might want to play and sing along with. Cline was better known for Crazy, but I love this one. Plus it’s got a good guitar accompaniment.
  • Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife – This song a little less poppy and a little more mature-sounding. Mack the Knife seems a pretty odd song anyway, and it speaks of death – the same pall that hangs over the story.
    Review – A Long, Long Time Ago
    The Big Bopper

    Furthermore, the tastes of the time varied. So you could conceivably hear all of these songs (except for McLean’s) played on AM Radio during the same hour.

  • The Skyliners’ Since I Don’t Have You – for the ending, I wanted a bittersweet love song. This would represent the kind of song that people play when they’re lonely.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K+.

Upshot

So for a series opener in particular, I think the story works well. And I like how it kicks things off. Because this series differs from In Between Days, not everything can be mined for more stories like that one. Still, the beginning feels auspicious to me.

Review – Cobbled Together

Review – Cobbled Together

Cobbled Together was a fun introduction to Malcolm and his neuroses.

Background

I actually answered two prompts with this one. One was on Star Trek Logs, and it was concerning poverty. The other was on Ad Astra, and it was about the failures of technology. And so I hit upon a combination of the two, presenting it as a missing scene from the canon Catwalk episode.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Malcolm and Pineapple
Malcolm and Pineapple

My idea for this story was that Malcolm would be miserable on the catwalk. That’s actually in Star Trek: Enterprise canon. And that there would be a poker game (also canon). However, in keeping with his canon love of pineapple, I wanted him to be lusting after a pack of fake pineapple cobbler.

Review – Cobbled Together

It’s all he wants. This is his tiny spot of normalcy amidst the chaos and stench of the place, not to mention some possible claustrophobia. As people ante up, Malcolm eyes the pineapple cobbler, which the dealer, Security Crewman Tristan Curtis, is using for his bid. Navigation Crewman Sophie Creighton and Hoshi look on as Malcolm and Tristan battle over a hand, until finally ….

Rating

The story is rated K.

Story Postings

Upshot

I like the idea of Reed becoming slightly unhinged during the forced stay on the catwalk. He’s tired, he’s dirty, and he loves order, but it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket. For him, winning the fake pineapple cobbler is his only tenuous connection to normal life, and he seizes upon it desperately. I think the story turned out pretty well, and I was pleased to bring in a few below decks characters early, as they also show up in the E2 stories.

Review – Penicillin

Background

I wanted a bit of a dovetail story, where characters would behave in a manner that would prefigure the future. Furthermore, I wanted to give Jay Hayes a bit more personality. I actually had a bit of a cold and so I seized upon that idea, and wrote about what he’d be like if he had a small cold.

For Jay, who feels he needs to be in top condition all the time, a cold is a cause for secrecy. But he’s found out. A cough, and the problem is betrayed to the only other person in the hall. Fortunately for Jay, that person is Lili O’Day.

Lili promises a little Jewish penicillin to cure what ails Jay. But she extracts a promise out of him – in exchange for making chicken soup and keeping quiet about things, Jay must do one thing for her. He’s got to smile more.

The story is recalled by them at the end of the E2 stories, and, in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Lili remembers the event after Jay has passed.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

It’s a compact little tale, but I think it packs a bit of a punch.

Lili’s Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls Recipe

Lili's Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
Lili’s Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls

Unless she’s baking, Lili doesn’t use regular measurements, so these are more like judgment calls.

Chicken Soup

In a slow cooker, add the following –

  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (if substituting water, make sure to add a dash of kosher salt)
  • 2 pounds of chicken meat, boneless. Breast meat has less fat; thigh meat has more flavor. Roughly cut the meat; it doesn’t have to be perfect cubes.
  • A half a pound of carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • A half a pound of celery, roughly chopped
  • A half a pound of onions, roughly chopped (Vidalias are best; white onions are fine)
  • If the slow cooker isn’t full to about an inch from the top, add plain water until it is. If you don’t have room, reduce the proportions of meat and vegetables

Cook on low slow cooker setting for a minimum of four hours.

Matzoh Balls

Combine the following in a bowl –

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of salt-free matzoh meal
  • 2 eggs or one cup of room temperature egg beaters or the equivalent
  • 1 Tablespoon of water

If the mixture is too crumbly and dry, add more oil and water, in more or less even proportions. If it seems too loose, add a little more matzoh meal. Mix together well. Cover and place into a refrigerator for 15 minutes.

While the mixture is cooling, heat up a small pot of salted water. Bring it to a boil and then allow to simmer. When the mixture’s time in the refrigerator is up, wet your hands and grab a handful of the mixture. A ping pong ball size is good. Shape into a ball and drop into the salted water. Bring the water back up to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Combining the Ingredients

Once the slow cooker is done, combine a serving (2 of the ping pong ball-sized matzoh balls and a cup of the soup) and heat them together in a microwave for 2 minutes on high. Make sure to store the matzoh balls and the soup separately, as otherwise the matzoh balls will absorb all of the liquid.

Garnish with parsely, or even curry, if you like. Serve with bread!

Review – Together

The Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Together
Together

Together begins with Doug and Lili happy. It’s a direct sequel to Reversal, and they are living their dream. The first chapter makes it abundantly clear that they are where they need to be. There are little bumps in the road, but that’s life. So far, so good.

By the time we get to the second chapter, we learn that Jenny‘s wedding will be soon. Malcolm can bring a date, so he sends a note to Pamela, inviting her. Therefore, the astute reader should also understand that this is also a direct sequel to Intolerance.

Since there are no stories without conflict, and since a relationship such as Lili and Doug’s should undergo testing, the events are set into motion. And the main event is a massive kidnapping of humans.

Coupling

The kidnapping is a chance to introduce two new original species, the Imvari and the Witannen. Furthermore, a third original species, the Zetal, get a mention but they are not seen.

Melissa & Doug
Melissa & Doug (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten humans are removed from the NX-01 (Lili and Doug are aboard as they are hitching a ride to Jenny and Frank‘s wedding). Because the Witannen want them to interbreed, the group consists of five men and five women, and there is a separation into couples, namely –

  • Lili and Malcolm – the idea is to play off Malcolm’s earlier attraction to Lili and also counterpoint her issues with Doug.
  • Doug and Melissa – here, Doug’s frustrations with Lili are balanced with Melissa’s bisexuality, e. g. this is an area where Leonora cannot fulfill what her partner needs.
  • Jonathan and Deborah – for him, it’s a chance to have someone to protect. For her, it’s the fulfillment of a long-term crush.
  • Tripp and Hoshi – this combination plays off their friendship and also is an answer to endless Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction about Tucker and T’Pol.
  • Jennifer and Travis – for her, it’s appalling as she is about to be married. For him, he’s with the hottest woman on the ship. But she is so horribly damaged that it’s no fun for them at all.

This is not to mention the other couples in the story, from before, during and after the captivity. Plus, what happens with Pamela? Stay tuned.

Music Together

Music drives the story as characters come together and break apart throughout. Every major character has his or her own song, and couples share songs, too.

The story isn’t a musical, per se, but there is so much pertinent music that it practically could be.

Themes

Hence the story, in some ways, ended up an exploration of not only relationships but also of our mores as a society. What do we accept from people? Also, what do we expect them to do when the chips are down? People in the story make good decisions, and they make some terrible ones as well. Fallout does not stop just because you wish it all away, and the fights are harsh because it’s the people who love you – and know you better than anyone – who can truly hurt you if they really want to.

Story Postings

Rating

I put the rating at T, with the racier version on Ad Astra at M.

Upshot

The story goes in a bunch of different directions, and it was to tie up loose ends up and then create any number of others in order to generate more plot ideas, including the idea for Temper, a story that really doesn’t work without Together as its foundation. Furthermore, any number of other overall plot elements don’t work, or can’t work as well without it.

In many ways, it is a centerpiece story, and many other tales hang off it, either as sequels or as prequels or in conjunction with it. Aside from Reversal, people read this story more than the others, and for good reason. This is because it helps the reader to understand so much more of my overall story line. Plus, I think it’s just a good, complex tale.

I’m very proud of this one.

Review – Local Flavor

Background

Local Flavor solves a few problems for me.

First of all, the Trek BBS held a Star Trek fanfiction challenge called “Out of Uniform“. So the idea was to show people not in typical starship settings. I seized upon the opportunity to show Lili and Doug first moving to Lafa II. Hence this is the morning after the end of Reversal; Local Flavor is the very beginning of “happily ever after”.

Plot

Review – Local Flavor
Happily Ever After – Kinsale (Photo credit: Sonia Luna)

Travis flies Doug and Lili to the surface. Also, he makes a point of telling Lili that Captain Archer and Malcolm both expressed regrets at not being able to personally see her off. For the captain, it’s because he was busy with other duties. However for Malcolm, it’s because he’s beginning to realize that he cares for her. But he can’t say anything; she’s off to marry someone else. As he confides to her in Together, her life is just zooming along and away from him, and he can’t do anything to stop it.

Upon landing, they are picked up by Treve, who drives them to their new apartment, which is later seen in A Kind of Blue and The Gift. On the way, Doug asks about changing his surname. Treve reiterates that Calafans don’t have last names, so the only people on Lafa II who would care are him and Lili. Doug ends up simply declaring his new surname to be Beckett.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Local Flavor
Local Flavor

They see the apartment and then the action moves to an open-air market, where a number of Calafan delicacies are to be had, including linfep, tofflin and elekai. Even prako (procul) show up, but they are too expensive, as they have been brought to the market by Eska hunters, from Archer’s Planet (in my fan fiction, during the E2 stories, that world is called Amity). Plus the idea of the Calafans always being on the make comes out, as does Doug’s temper. Even some of the alien gesturing is explained, and the cake made at the end has a blueberry filling. Because that is a shoutout to my portrayal of Jay Hayes as loving blueberries.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

A lot happens in a short amount of time. Doug and Lili are exposed to Calafan society through a fire hose. And the reader, in some ways, gets that same sort of treatment. In some ways, this story is like another “elevator pitch” tale (like The Light). This is because it serves as an introduction to a lot of disparate aspects of my universe.


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