Category Archives: Spotlight

Spotlight on Coulamine

Spotlight on Coulamine

Coulamine exists because of a back-formation from my own original drug, tricoulamine.

Coulamine
Spotlight – Coulamine

Furthermore, it also exists because I screwed up the start of a round robin story.

Background

First of all, in order to get soldiers to fight (in real life, even!), ordinary people need training and discipline. However, World War III was supposed to be a time period without even those sorts of niceties. Hence, for Multiverse II, the concept changed and the soldiers would be ordinary people with no training. Hence, like opium addicts and the like before them, they had to be hooked on something or other.

As a result, I created coulamine. When Otra turns evil for the story, I accidentally landed her in Maine. However, the action was supposed to take place in Montana. Therefore, I decided that a drug distribution trail would get her from point A to point B. Furthermore, because the other writers were stretching the story out in some ways, this allows for character development and some truly wicked scene settings.

The common people, therefore, would be coulamine addicts, and the drug would be referred to as ‘candy’. And that proved to be a fascinating and horrific idea.

Hence Otra kills a trucker in one of her first acts in the story, and then takes his truck.  The truck’s built-in GPS system contains presets to get her to various fueling stations.  And as the trip takes her farther and farther west, the food gets scarcer and poorer, the radiation levels climb, the rubble gets worse, and the addicts become more and more desperate.

When Rita finally arrives, she comes across as a tough soldier type, a kind of a survivalist. However, her arms are loaded with track marks. She’s an ex-candy addict.

Upshot

Coulamine worked so well that it got an even deadlier version: bicoulamine.

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Spotlight on Chi Band Radiation

Spotlight on Chi Band Radiation

Chi Band Radiation Background

Chi Band Radiation can do anything.

Chi Band Radiation
Image of background radiation

I needed a garden variety phenomenon. Chi Band Radiation  would have to be able to stand in for a lot of almost magical properties. It had to be a kind of technobabble thing.

The idea would cover all sorts of issues. This would include crossing people over from one universe to another. Or it would be the kinds of temporal switches and shenanigans shown in Concord and Crackerjack. For both of those stories there were other explanations for their issues.

Chi Band Radiation ended up being used particularly in the Barnstorming series. It was used to show how and why the Mirror Universe was attempting to cross over and potentially invade our own. The Emperor would have been deposed and fallen on hard times. The radiation would be, to him, a  godsend, a means of regaining his past glories.

Instead, he’s living in a shack. He is dependent upon the kind charity of the native Calafan people. This would be quite the harsh reality for a proud man.

The radiation would also be a means of almost communicating. It would be a way of knocking on the door of another universe, as it were. This would attract the attention of weird ADHD-addled temporal engineer Levi Cavendish. Giving Levi a means of investigating all possible universes was a fun idea. The way to fulfill his mission to find the ultimate pumpkin pie (spoiler alert: it’s in the universe with a 49 centimeter radiation band on the hydrogen line) proved irresistible.

Upshot

This Swiss Army knife has stood me in good stead. I am sure I will be using it again in the future.

Chi Band Radiation
Chi Band Radiation

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Spotlight on the Zetal

Spotlight on the Zetal

The Zetal: in order to try to finally wrap up the HG Wells storyline, I needed a garden variety villain. That was the Var-gi-yeh. They would come from outside our solar system, and therefore it would help if we had a warning of some sort.

I reached back into my older work and found the Zetal.

Background

Spotlight on the Zetal
Spotlight on the Zetal

Back in Together, the Witannen and the Imvari capture ten humans for war games. But they are working for a third party, a species in the Andromeda Galaxy, the Zetal.

The Zetal were meant to be more or less incorporeal  but I didn’t have much on them. In Together, it was considerably easier to work with the Imvari and the Witannen. Species which are more or less our basic body type are just easier to deal with. The reader or viewer can relate to them better. And, truly, so can the writer.

If a character is hard for even the writer to relate to, then the character is just not going to be written. That’s unfortunate, as they are kind of interesting on paper. But I have very little on them. They are a piece of bringing Trek out of our galaxy and into our galactic neighbor. That’s not enough, though. There isn’t enough ‘there’, there.

Upshot

If I need to pull in an Andromeda Galaxy species, then the Zetal might be it, and I would do more with them. Right now, though, they remain a semi-useful curiosity and not much more.

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Spotlight on Colony Alien

Spotlight on Colony Alien

Background

As a way to add considerable weirdness to the Times of the HG Wells overall storyline, I decided to create a colonial life form. Similar in some ways to the Borg, the individuals would be the size of somatic cells.

Spotlight on Colony Alien
A coral reef (image is from Wikipedia, and is being presented for educational purposes only)

Adding to the mischief was the idea of making the cells democratic. Everything, from eating to ambulation to procreation would be the subject of a vote. And the brain cells wouldn’t even be in charge! The colony would just, in a way, be a walking, talking, bipedal coral reef.

Appearances

The colony alien is really only shown in the Times of the HG Wells series, although it’s been fun to sometimes toss it (them) into the occasional round robins that we write on Ad Astra.

Spotlight on Colony Alien
Keanu Reeves and Kristen Stewart, both our universe and the Mirror’s versions of colony aliens (image is presented for educational purposes only)

Curious, often hesitant, and a bit stiff, the colony alien is a great way to get some mysterious and almost magical character development out there. Plus they are perfect for exposition, as they can eavesdrop on anything. It’s rather convenient to be able to flatten yourself out to the thickness of a coat of paint and then match the color absolutely perfectly.

Another great thing about colony aliens is that, if any cells survive at all, no matter what happens (say, a nuclear bomb goes off), the colony reproduces asexually and can always recreate itself. Until the end of time itself, the colony is, for all intents and purposes, immortal.

Upshot

I like this odd duck of a character(s). It/they will be back!

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Spotlight on Trichronium

Spotlight on Trichronium

Background

Spotlight on Trichronium
Cantaloupe juice (trichronium) (image is provided for educational purposes only)

During the Times of the HG Wells series, I wanted an odd and different way for the Perfectionists to travel in time. It would be something unique and weird and utterly different from the canon time ships or time portals.

This involved a great deal of brainstorming, as I tried to come up with something that would be, to me, sufficiently wacky.

Eventually it came to me, that it would be a hormone. But instead of being injected, it would be swallowed. That delivery method just struck me as being more practical when traveling in time. Eventually, I decided that it would taste like cantaloupe (Helen Walker says so).

How It Works

For the simplest explanation, I decided on a cuff similar to the Cuff of Lo. The temporal enhancer cuff would be useless without trichronium, and  vice versa.  The traveler would swallow a dose, someone (not necessarily the time traveler) would set the controls on the cuff, and the traveler would be sent whenever and wherever. Another swallow, and you can stay longer, as digested foods pass through us eventually.  The cuff could override and recall the traveler, as could enough of a drop in trichronium levels. But otherwise the dosages would decide whether a traveler would stay in the past, or not.

Upshot

I like this invention and will probably try to find a way to resurrect this technology at some point.

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Spotlight on Darvellians

Spotlight on Darvellians

Background

Spotlight on Darvellians
If You Can’t Stand the Heat cover featuring Chef Will Slocum (Jonathan Frakes)

First introduced in If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Darvellians were intended as a kind of alien of the week.

I haven’t written a follow up to this story yet, but I can absolutely see where they fit into my own personal Star Trek fan fiction canon.

 

 

 

Characteristics

I don’t have too much on them. They are gray and furry, and they like it cold. When they board the Enterprise, in an effort to kidnap members of the crew for their scientific experiments, they turn the environmental controls down to -20⁰ C. In Fahrenheit, that’s -4⁰. It is cold, particularly when a person is only wearing a standard uniform.

The only other piece of information I have on them is their use of sulphur-oxylic gas to knock everyone out. Sulphur-oxylic gas is utterly made up by me and the term really doesn’t mean anything.

With no picture, I am going with the gray wolf as inspiration.

Spotlight on Darvellians
Darvellian (gray wolf)

Certainly this animal fits the bill in terms of generalized look.

Darvellian Descendants

Well, not really descendants, per se, but the idea of the Darvellians has been used again by me, particularly in the creation of the similarly-named and similarly-looking Daranaeans.  The difference, of course, is that the Daranaeans are considerably better developed.

The idea of knocking out the entire ship with gas was repeated, to a far greater effect, in Together. In that story, it’s the Witannen, with their Imvari henchmen, who perform the deed. As with the Daranaeans, the second use of this piece of the plot is better realized. The older story certainly shows its seams, but some of the ideas were good ones. I just needed to mature more as a writer in order to be able to show them more effectively.

Upshot

These aliens were barely shown but the idea of them is, I think, pretty neat. I should figure out a way to trot them out again.

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Spotlight on Olathans

Spotlight on Olathans

Background

Spotlight on Olathans
The Adventures of Porthos

When I first started writing Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction, I wrote a lot of one-off stories with an ‘alien of the week’ theme to them.

In this instance, I wanted an oppressive villain species, as that story line is a parallel to the rise of the Nazi party here on Earth.

Premise

The Olathans would be hidden and mysterious, but nasty. Their purpose in life would be to suppress their overly-peaceful and somewhat simplistically weak neighbors, the Azezans. While the Azezans were purple in color, the Olathans were green. But otherwise they were to look more or less the same, and I never described them any further (my scene setting and world building skills have improved since that story was written several years ago). This allows for the deception in The Adventures of Porthos to be believable at all.

Spotlight on Olathans
Purple star image from Hubble telescope photographs

For the Olathans, their weaker peaceful neighbors are only good for one thing – exploitation. Azezans are worked to death and families are broken up. The Olathans are excited to meet with humans, hoping to be able to sell slave labor to them, or at least the fruits of slave labor. Porthos can tell that something is very, very wrong.

At the end of the story, Jonathan Archer has hit upon a fairly foolproof scheme to try to thwart the Olathans and hoist them on their own petard. In order to root out the Olathans hiding on Azezi Prime, he proposes a gift of scent hounds and their handlers. Hopefully the act of outing any Olathans will spur the Azezans to drive them out of their home world, once and for all.

Upshot

While Porthos got his own pair of sequels, the Azezans and Olathans did not. Perhaps it’s time I visited Azezi Prime, to see what’s up.

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Spotlight on Nokarid

Spotlight on Nokarid

Background

When I was first starting to write Star Trek fan fiction, I wanted to get across the idea of a far more alien life form than was normally seen in canon.

Spotlight on Nokarid
Are there Nokarid in your dinner?

I also hit upon, for More, More, More! what I thought was perhaps the perfect humorous opening line, “It all began with a bad meatball.”

Because, you see, the aliens were meant to be microscopic, yet sentient. They would be smart enough to have a civilization and a culture, but too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Tiny Sentience

In retrospect, the Nokarid are precursors to the colony alien (or Var-gi-yeh, if you are in the Mirror Universe) species of which Branch Borodin is the sole member. They are a colony, to be sure, but there is really nothing known about them. Richard Daniels refers to them as being somewhat endangered although that might be more a function of their overall size.

By accident, Jonathan Archer swallows the entire colony. How they get into his meatball is never explained. But they are pretty hardy little things if they survived the cooking process. Once inside, they attempt to colonize their new quarters – his brain. As Daniels works to remove the colonists and not kill them (or tell Phlox that they are there, for first contact is supposed to happen later), the effects on Archer’s brain become apparent as the man loosens up and starts to become a bit of a comedian.

Upshot

I only used them once, and so they are the epitome of a one-shot “Alien of the Week”. I think I would like to bring them back, although I am unsure as to how.

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Spotlight on Dark Matter Flare

Spotlight on Dark Matter Flare

Background

In order to resolve the issues in Temper and bring everyone back to the correct side of the pond, I needed for there to be some way to signal Richard Daniels.

I particularly wanted to make the technology not look like anything special, and have it potentially work in other areas of Star Trek fan fiction, in case I ever needed it again. I am not a big fan of technobabble, so I wanted the technology to not turn into something that the typical reader would not understand. While it is not necessarily the most plausible piece of fictional technology out there, it is certainly easy to understand without having to go into any long, drawn-out explanations.

Spotlight on Dark Matter Flare
Dark Matter Flare (really a black Christmas cracker)

Hence I hit upon the idea of Christmas crackers, except these would be black.

Doug  is given a pair of these before he and Lili are sent forward in time and to the Mirror Universe.  The first one is a signal to Rick Daniels to bring them from the Mirror to the Prime Universe and also back from 2178 to 2166. The second dark matter flare used is to signal Rick to bring the family back from 2166 to 2161. However, in the second instance, the only traveling is in time as the family is already on the correct side of the pond.

Upshot

I like the idea of something so small and simple. Adding to the dramatic tension is the tiniest sound of snapping. Lili and Doug can barely hear it, and it almost feels as if it did not work. But Rick senses it with his far more sensitive instruments. These little devices get the family home.

Now I am wondering where I can possibly use them again.

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Spotlight on Ring Phasers

Spotlight on Ring Phasers

Background

Spotlight on Ring Phasers
Ring Phaser (actually a Za’Tarc ring from the Stargate universe)

When I originally wrote the Times of the HG Wells series, I had an idea that there would be small phasers but had not really fully developed the concept. Because, in canon, phasers have fairly steadily gotten smaller in size, it made some sense  to have them, in the very deep future, be rather small pieces of equipment. This also worked as a cover, for Rick Daniels and other time travelers would need to carry a weapon to a lot of time periods where carrying such a weapon would be problematic.

Appearance

It was not until Multiverse II and Another Piece of the Action that I realized that this would be rather useful.

Spotlight on Ring Phasers
English: Ring made of tungsten (tungstencarbide?) Deutsch: Ring aus Wolframcarbid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For characters needing to hide a phaser (and maybe even make it look like something else), the idea of turning it into a ring configuration seemed smart. For female time travelers in particular in history, they could even place the ring phaser onto their left ring finger and claim that it was a wedding ring.

The idea is that the ring phaser is about as plain and nondescript as the idea to the right. Furthermore, as time travelers would often have to worry about theft and beatings, the article was not intended to appear ostentatious or particularly expensive.

Upshot

For a small afterthought type of original technology, I think it turned out pretty well. It would not shock me if a deep future storyline, either in the books or some hypothetical to-be-aired series or film, featured something like them.

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