Category Archives: Spotlight

Spotlight on an Original Nonsentient Alien Species – Elekai

Spotlight on an Original Nonsentient Alien Species – Elekai

Background

The thought of a planetary system much like Australia, where there are all sorts of exotic and beautiful plants and animals, but any one of them can kill you, was an irresistible one. That’s the Lafa System.

Spotlight on an Original Nonsentient Alien Species – Elekai
Elekai

Couple that with the idea of present-day terror birds, and elekai were born.

Characteristics

Elekai are pretty much what you’d expect. They’re huge, mean and dangerous. But they also make good eating. In Together, it’s established that the upper half – which is more than enough to feed seven adults and one child – tastes like chicken whereas the lower half, including the legs, tastes more like duck. In Local Flavor, elekai are described as being fattier down below, possibly a bit gamier. A few serving suggestions are offered in that story, too. Because all Calafan names are meaningful, Elekai means air bird, so it’s suggested that, unlike real terror birds, elekai can fly.

Hunting

In Together, Doug reveals that it’s a lot of work to bring down an elekai. For the one being eaten in that story, he admits that a total of nine men (eight Calafans and himself) were needed to bring down the big beast. Therefore, in Temper, when it’s only Melissa and him on a hunting trip, they don’t go after elekai, and instead hunt for linfep and perrazin.

In Fortune, and in Equinox, Doug’s death is shown or alluded to. It occurrs during an elekai hunt, but the birds have nothing to do with it. Instead, he suffers a heart attack during running in the forests of the southern hemisphere of Lafa II.

Mirror Universe

A lot of animals are extinct in the mirror (in Temper, it’s established that giraffes are one species that has gone extinct), but elekai are not, possibly because they’re so big and mean. As a means of getting Joss, Tommy, DR, and Marie Patrice off the Defiant, and making it so that Lili and Doug can also get off the ship and go to the surface, an elekai hunt is offered up as a pretext, with an accompanying picnic lunch for the Empress Hoshi Sato and her children. For someone like Jun, it’s a chance to really seal the deal in his quest to show that he can be a leader.

Upshot

Elekai aren’t meant to be smart (although they are considerably more intelligent than procul/prako). They are definitely meant to be more aggressive than linfep. Plus they’re good for Thanksgiving dinner, if you’re quite literally feeding an army. But watch out, as they’re a lot more hazardous than turkeys.

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans

Background

When I first started writing Reversal, I was beginning to come to grips with my own aging process. It’s inevitable – you begin to see yourself as not being so young anymore.

Enter the Calafans.

Lafa System

Described as being near both Klingon and Andorian space, the Lafa System is strategic to the nascent Federation. However, there’s more there than meets the eye, for the entire species is psionically gifted, and the region sits where the membrane between our universe and the mirror is at its thinnest.

The system is composed of four stars. In order from lightest to darkest, and largest to smallest, they are Lo, Abic, Fep and Ub. In the mirror, the largest star is red and is named Ub, whereas in our universe the largest star is white and is named Lo. Because both the largest (Lo in our universe, Ub in the mirror) and second-largest (Abic in our universe, Fep in the mirror) stars have planetary systems, and their orbits cross at various points, the numbering system cannot go from closest to a star to farthest away (by that logic, in our universe, Mercury would be Sol I and Earth would be Sol III, etc.). Instead, the planets are numbered in size order, from largest to smallest. There are twelve planets.

Lafa I

Lafa I is a gas giant close to the four stars and, much like our Jupiter, is very nearly a failed star. It is close to Lo and within the orbits of Abic, Fep and Ub. Therefore, the radiation levels are far too high to sustain life.

All of the other eleven planets are habitable.

Lafa II

The most important of the planets, Lafa II is the original home of the Calafan people. It is where Fep City and Point Abic are. This planet orbits outside of the four stars so, once they have all set, there is a true night. Elekai are native, and live on the southern hemisphere. Linfep are also native to this planet.

The Temporal Museum is eventually built here, and the Museum also owns land, which includes Doug and Lili‘s original home.

Lafa III

In Fortune, it’s revealed that there is an Unemployment Office here, staffed by Calafans.

Lafa IV

Olowa grows here. It is within the orbits of Fep and Ub so there is no true night on the planet.

Lafa V

There are factories here, and the people speak with an accent that resembles an Irish brogue (Fortune, Local Flavor). It is the most remote planet in the entire system.

Lafa VI

This is a smaller planet. Doug and Lili are trying to grow Mediterranean foods on it (olives, figs, etc.). There is a nude beach here.

Lafa VII

There are mining operations on this planet.

Lafa VIII

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa IX

Yimar takes Joss and Marie Patrice to a zoo here (Temper). In the alternate timeline, the initial home base of operations for the mirror universe to get a foothold in our universe happens here.

Lafa X

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa XI

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa XII

On this small planet in the Lafa System, Melissa and Doug hunt and bring down a perrazin (Temper). Linfep live here, but they were likely brought there from Lafa II.

Mythology

The Calafans feel that their four stars correspond to four gods. Lo and Ub are goddesses in both universes, whereas Abic and Fep are gods. According to the mythology of both universes, the passage between the universes started out as being free and clear, and Lo and Abic married, as did Fep and Ub, but the couples were all unfaithful. As a result, Lo bore Fep’s child and Ub bore Abic’s. For their second children, paternity was secured. Then the children intermarried, so that generation married its own half-siblings, making this mythology somewhat akin to ancient Greek or Egyptian texts.

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans
Silver scrollwork example

Furthermore, the species was beginning to experience a very real scientific event known as speciation. That is, there had been a mutation. For the Calafans, it showed up as differing skin color. The species was diverging. Hence the leaders (e. g. the four main persons) decided to erect a barrier between the two universes. Families were split apart. The feel should be very much like the Berlin Wall or the two Koreas. Silver Calafans stayed in our universe; copper ones went to the mirror.

Aging and Maturation Process

Calafan aging is the reverse of our own. Children of both genders are born completely bald, and stay that way until about their thirties, when they begin to sprout hair. In addition, their extremities are solid-colored. However, as they age, the color begins to break down, eventually to a complicated scrollwork pattern that is as individual as a fingerprint. When a Calafan is thoroughly devoid of extremity coloration (known as calloo), death is near.

Dreams and Psionic Abilities

Since everyone is gifted – and the dishes on Point Abic amplify the psionic waves – dreams are shared, not only between dreamers but crossing the universes. This is, of course, how Doug and Lili meet. For Calafans, it is common and, as a result, their relationships with persons from the other side are condoned. Their marriage vows even take it into account (A Kind of Blue).

Language

While I haven’t created a full-on language for the Calafans, I have created a lot of words, such as miva (clay), fep (small) and the yi- prefix, which means “student of”.

Names

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans
Copper Scrollwork example

Calafans do not have surnames; hence, the first names must be requested as they cannot repeat. Names are considered to be meaningful and parents are cautioned to choose wisely. However, there are names that are jokes. If parents name their son Fepwev, it means “master of the small”. This can mean teacher or microbiologist, but it can also be construed as being “master of very little”, e. g. mastery of a very small domain.

Many male names include the -wev suffix (master of) whereas female names often contain the yi- prefix. However, sexism is not the intention.

Sexuality

Because of their somewhat open marriages, Calafans can often appear to be on the make. Lili (Local Flavor) and Kevin (You Mixed-Up Siciliano, Spring Thaw) are both bothered by this.

Fanfiction Presence

Because I establish first contact as occurring in 2157 (although first contact between Calafans and Vulcans, Klingons and Ferengi – and possibly also Andorians – has occurred earlier), the Calafans aren’t officially present earlier than that. However, Jonathan spots a woman who turns out to be Calafan while on Risa (And the Livin’ is Easy). In the E2 stories, a Calafan runs a way station where Imvari bring slaves to the Orion market. But in both instances, the encounters are fleeting and the name of the species is not mentioned.

Upshot

For a species that was originally intended to be something of a villain, I ended up with more and better opportunities to showcase the Calafans and define their culture. There will be more written about them, I am sure, as I continue to get to know them.

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food

Background

In Reversal, I establish that the food in the Mirror Universe is, for the most part, pretty lousy. Doug even comments on it, and notes that he and his men will often go hunting if game animals are available. It almost doesn’t matter what they taste like; they are still assumed to be far better than normal fare.

By the time of the alternate timeline recounted in Temper, the food on the ISS Defiant is little better than slop. And in the history as described by Doug in Fortune, there is a rationing system. Cards with various letters have differing values. But the cards only refer to the number of times per week that a crew member is promised (this promise is often broken) a day with at least one meal containing meat. The cards say nothing about vegetables.

Necessity

Because fruits and vegetables are necessary for good health and for a fit fighting force, the  nutrients need to, somehow, be supplied. Enter the paste tubes.

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food
Vegetable paste tube

As should be obvious, these are meant to look and feel like toothpaste tubes. There is no information on whether the contents are any color other than white.

The diner should not be tempted by them at all, and they probably don’t have much of a taste, either. Lili gets them to taste like something by squeezing out their innards and frying the mess with salt and linfep fat or some other fat in order to make a somewhat squishy version of potato chips, meant to be consumed with synthbeer.

Upshot

As another reminder of the difference between the Mirror side of the pond and ours, I think the tubes succeed pretty well. A society that values women, or cooking or taste or agriculture would not stand for them. But in the Mirror Universe, they don’t care, so Vitamin C, fiber and other nutrients are only supplied in this manner.

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.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

Two universes, two radiation bands. If you need to know who belongs where, you’d better do some testing.

Origins

In Reversal, and then in Temper, the concept of two universes and crosses between them, comes to the fore. There has to be some means of checking a person’s universe of origin.

Radiation Bands

The concept comes from two TNG episodes. In Galaxy’s Child, a spaceborn life form known as “Junior” is threatening the Enterprise and is absorbing its energy.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

In order to “sour the milk”, the energy signatures are changed to a different background radiation band. It is revealed that the band for our prime universe is twenty-one centimeters. This comes from a very real concept known as the Hydrogen Line.

In Parallels, Worf steps through several quantum realities (e. g. several universes), but eventually a quantum signature is matched and he can be returned to his correct universe. I have taken the ideas and combined them.

Here, There and Everywhere

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

If we are a twenty-one centimeter background radiation band universe, then surely there must be a twenty, a twenty-two, and so on. For my fanfiction, the twenty centimeter band universe is the mirror. The twenty-two, as is revealed by Eleanor Daniels in Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain, is a place where, on Earth, the dinosaurs never died out. Hence a mirror-type situation could not develop there.

Heritage

Radiation bands are inherited, and a cross-bred child will split the difference.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers

Hence the children of Doug and Lili and Doug and Melissa have a twenty and one-half centimeter band, reflecting his twenty and the women’s twenty-one centimeter bands. Per Eleanor, until crossovers became more common, a radiation band of anything below twenty-one was a sure sign that someone was one of Doug’s descendants.

Calafans, who can easily shuttle back and forth, and who have origins that are readily determined by the color of their skin (silver for here, copper for the mirror), are not tested, as there is no need.

Testers

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers
Tabletop wand scanner

Testing is accomplished in a few ways. During Temper, on the mirror side of things, the testers are table-top devices with wands. Eleanor is in possession of one (she is a docent at the Temporal Museum, with a specialty in the Terran Empire) and she demonstrates its use during Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain. The image shown is actually a bar code scanner. Imagine it plugged into some sort of a tabletop device, possibly something appearing to be a lot like a personal computer or the like.

Spotlight on Original Technology – Radiation Band Testers
Pendant scanner

For our side of the pond, the scanner is a pendant worn around the neck, but devoid of any charm or decoration. The pendant is worn and then placed against a person, much like the mirror universe’s wand, so that a determination can be made as to which universe is the origination point for a particular person. The image at right is actually a UV tester. Imagine it attached to a longer cord and worn around the neck, although with the shorter cord it could conceivably be worn around the wrist.

Upshot

While the eventual future of these testers is as a curio, their history is far from pleasant for, during the war between the universes in Temper, anyone with the wrong band, on either side of the pond, is often shot on sight, with no questions asked. This shameful heritage is meant to drive home more of the horror of the Mirror Universe.

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa

Aliens have to eat, and they don’t just eat meat, at least, not my aliens.

The Calafans needed something to chow down on. But what?

History and Use in Plots

I first put olowa – and it didn’t have a name yet – into a dining table scene of Calafans, in Reversal. The idea was not to showcase the food (it was just referred to as a large purple vegetable) but, rather, to showcase that the Calafans were familiar with knives and forks. This is to counter an earlier scene, where Treve and Chawev are asked to dinner on the NX-01. In an earlier scene, Treve expresses an unfamiliarity with forks, so Lili shows him how to use one. Yet in the later scene, his younger sister, Yimar, is shown using a knife and fork to cut up the aforementioned vegetable for her younger brother, Chelben.

It isn’t until Together that olowa is actually tasted by humans and referred to by name. Olowa (pronounced: OH-luh-wah or OH-luh-wuh) grows in the Lafa System. Lili describes it as follows –

Spotlight on Original Plant Species – Olowa
This slightly underripe eggplant is how I envision a spicy-tasting olowa would look

That is an olowa. Or, rather, it’s bits of a bunch of them. It’s a vegetable that grows on Lafa IV. Now, the interesting thing about olowa is, as it matures, it petrifies and turns to stone. It also lightens from deep purple to, eventually, kind of an ash grey. You can’t eat it then; you’ll break a tooth. So what you’ve got here is a salad made from olowa at different stages of maturity. If anything feels too hard, all I can say is, don’t eat it. I won’t be offended.”

The olowa goes through various flavors as it changes in color, from a sweet pear-like flavor, to a spicy flavor, then eventually to a fatty texture and flavor somewhat like peanuts.

In Temper, it’s revealed that perrazin will eat olowa and, while hunting, Melissa climbs an olowa tree in order to escape a herd of charging perrazin. To distract them from going after Doug, she plucks an olowa and throws it as far away from him as possible, and a few of the animals run that way.

Olowa is even served in the Mirror Universe, to the Empress Hoshi Sato and her family.

In another scene, a very young child, beginning to be introduced to solid foods, gets a little sweet immature olowa mixed in with other soft foods.

In Fortune, olowa are mentioned in a lot of off-handed ways. Olowa paste is sent aboard Malcolm‘s ship as a treat, to be used by the Chef in pies. Declan also paints and draws olowa as a part of still life studies for his art classes. At Lili and Doug’s home, there is a spreading olowa tree, and it’s comfortable to sit under there and nap during a warm afternoon.

Olowa even crossed over to my first story taking place in the JJ Abrams universe. In Release, Eriecho and Saddik are tempted by the Commandant with pieces of olowa, but Saddik notices that it’s been artificially ripened. Still, it’s better than what they’ve been given for years, so he practically swallows his portion whole. Their olowa is going spicy in flavor.

Upshot

Someday, when we have made friends with other species, we’ll find ourselves eating their local foods. Plants will probably be a lot easier for us to take than meats. A vegetable like olowa would be particularly pleasant – so long as it wasn’t petrified.

Spotlight on Original Nonsentient Species – Linfep

Spotlight on Original Nonsentient Species – Linfep

People have to eat, and not everyone is a vegan. Therefore, some alien food animals had to be devised. Hence, linfep were created by me. They are a wholly original species.

Linfep are essentially hares with tusks or fangs. They are native to Lafa XII and live and scamper in undergrowth. They are one of the chief foods for another nonsentient species, perrazin, but are also hunted or raised for food for the sentient Calafans.

Since they are very rabbit-like, children are somewhat fond of them. In Fortune, a little Calafan girl has a stuffed linfep doll. In Friday Visit, Chelben, who is about four or five years old, shows Doug a picture he has drawn of a linfep.

Spotlight on Original Nonsentient Species – Linfep
Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse

Admittedly, I was thinking a little bit of the comic strip Prickly City and its character of Kevin, the Lost Bunny of the Apocalypse, when I came up with linfep. Essentially I envision – like I do for much of the Lafa System – a place similar to Australia, where interesting or seemingly harmless animals can pack quite a punch.

Hunting

Linfep (the plural does not have an S) are vegetarians, and are the subjects of a hunt with phase bows in Temper. Melissa and Doug – the hunters – have to be quiet when approaching these shy creatures. A rustling in the undergrowth reveals one, which is dispatched with one shot.

Etymology

Like much of the Calafan language I have created, the name of this species is a compound word. Fep is also the name of the second-smallest star in that system, and the word means small. Lin means mouthful, so a linfep is a small mouthful, and a grown human or Calafan will want to eat more than one in order to be satisfied.

Spotlight on Original Species – Daranaeans

Spotlight on Original Species – Daranaeans

Daranaeans are a wholly original sentient marsupial canid species. Pronounced: Da-ra-NAY-un.

What’s a Daranaean?

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Mistra | Daranaeans
Mistra, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

Daraneans are residents of Daranaea, a Minshara-class planet located near Klingon space, hence it has a tactical advantage.

As for the Daranaeans themselves, they are sentient marsupials with foxlike triangular faces and fur on most of their bodies. They are very canid in a lot of ways, including packlike behaviors for their social lives, but also their battle plans and even their ship designs.

I tend to use pointy-faced dogs, foxes or bats for pictures. Naturally, the reader will need to use his or her imagination a bit.

Castes

Females divide into three separate castes, depending upon the intensity of their smells. Prime Wives have the most privileges and the most education. Secondaries tend to do most of the reproductive heavy lifting. They also act as primary educators. Third caste females are generally relegated to manual labor, and may be illiterate. All females are sold into marriage, but Prime Wife marriages are generally from private arrangements without the need for a public auction. Wealthy Daranaean males, including members of the Beta Council and most higher-ranking military men, have a wife from each caste.

Pregnancy and Pouches

For Daranaean females, pregnancy has two parts, versus our three trimester configuration. There are about six months of a conventional-type pregnancy, and then another six with the infant in the mother’s abdominal pouch. Much like marsupials on Earth, the infant (called a pouchling at birth) is born very small and helpless. Unlike Earth’s marsupials, a Daranaean mother places the baby right inside the pouch, as opposed to requiring that it crawl there on its own.

Pouchlings nurse and sleep most of the time, and it’s important for the mother to keep the top of the pouch clear of obstructions. Therefore the tops that the women wear can be tied. This allows for air passage. The mother also sleeps on her back or her side while pouch feeding. When the pouchling is a good five months old or so, the mother can lift the top of the pouch to peer at the infant, if she wishes. However, the infant can get cold while doing so. This shouldn’t be done too frequently.

During this time, the mother sleeps with a soft baby blanket in order to pass her scent onto it.

Pouch Emergence

After about six months in the pouch, the pouchling is ready to emerge. First, a hand comes up and holds the top of the pouch. Then, the pouchling generally pushes down so as to get leverage, and may even use the front tied piece of its mother’s top in order to pull up and out.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Baby Inta | Daranaeans
Baby Inta, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

Once out, the mother cleans the infant and swaddles it, and wraps it in the blanket. Newly-emerged pouchlings can be called infants. They don’t hear or see very well, as a parallel to what newborn puppies are like.

After a few weeks, the infant attempts crawling, and soon will begin cruising and walking, much like a human infant. The baby still nurses, but solid foods can be introduced at a young age, as slightly pointed teeth erupt not too long after emergence. Because Daranaean women have four breasts (two inside the pouch, and two where we would normally see them), the emerged infant can still nurse for a while.

Childhood

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Seppa | Daranaeans
Seppa, one of the Daranaeans, a third caste female, as a child

Very young Daranaean children are kept at home and cared for by the older females. For a very young child, life at home is filled with basic learning such as getting along with others. The family may visit other families or go on trips, which can be educational or just for recreation. Seppa, at right, is only four years old in this picture. A somewhat typical day for Seppa is a part of Some Assembly Required.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Cria | Daranaeans
Cria, a tween secondary female Daranaean

Young Daranaean children are home schooled. After several years, the males are sent to a big school, as are the Prime Wife females. This is for more advanced learning, such as is necessary for space travel. The other female children remain at home and can continue to be home schooled.

A Daranaean tween or teenager becomes interested in marriage and all that it entails, but marriages generally don’t occur until about ages eighteen to twenty or so. A young Daranean tween girl such as Cria, right, continues her home schooling and helps with chores and the care of her younger siblings, but also has time for some fun and for learning the household skills she will need as a wife. A fairly typical day for Cria is a part of Temptation.

Young Adulthood

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Seppa | Daranaeans
A Young Adult, Seppa

Young married Daranaeans are much like young marrieds in any culture or species, enjoying their new lives and working toward the future.

For young Daranaean wives, this means pregnancy or preparing for pregnancy, as the species suffers from Thylacine Paramixovirus and, as a result, big familes are needed in order to replenish the population. A young wife such as Seppa, aged eighteen here, might become pregnant very quickly, and be expected to begin raising a household full of children.

Daranean women of wealth do not work outside the home, as the care of children is paramount.

Daranaean men hold jobs, and there is still a monetary system in place. Doctors include Varelle and Trinning, reporters include Craethe, and Beta Councilors include Boestus and Elemus.

Later Adult Life

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dratha | Daranaeans
Dratha, one of the Daranaeans (legendary Prime Wife)

For Daranaeans, later life changes, depending upon caste. Prime Wives, such as Dratha, pictured here, can live fairly long lives. For wealthy families, the Prime Wife is treated like a queen and is not expected to help with child care, although she can if she wishes.

Secondaries, such as Mistra and Cria, above, have children on a regular basis until menopause. The expectation is they will continue helping the young adult children prepare for life in their own households.

Third caste females, like Seppa, above, have children until menopause, when they are either euthanised or are donated or sold for medical experiments.

Daranaean men live out their lives and have the longest life expectancy of all.

Politics, Government and Justice

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Vidam
Adult Vidam, one of the Daranaens and son of Prime Wife Dratha

Daranaens have a government composed of an elected Alpha who is advised by an elected Beta Council, which meets regularly and is very open to the press. None of the women can vote, not even Prime Wives.

As a member of the Beta Council, Vidam (right) is expected to present bills, debate on them and vote. Voting in the Council Chamber is open and is accomplished by all of the representatives standing. Then the opponents of a bill sit. Anyone left standing is then counted as supporting the bill in question. A simple majority rules, but the Alpha can break ties. Abstentions are rare – much like dogs on Earth, Daranaeans mainly see their issues in black and white. A debate about granting Prime Wives the right to vote is part of Debate.

Trials are public, and the trial of a wealthy Daranaean, even a Secondary, is fodder for the press. There are no juries, rather, an accused is judged by a judicial panel. A trial is part of Take Back the Night.

Medicine

Aside from the generally fatal Thylacine Paramixovirus, most Daranaeans are usually in good health. Prenatal care is available for Prime Wives only. The other two castes are expected to care for each other. Their infants are delivered at home. Prime Wives deliver in hospitals.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Young Trinning | Daranaeans
Trinning, one of the Daranaeans, as a child (son of a secondary)

Researchers, such as Trinning, at about age six here, work diligently to try to find a cure for the virus. Research is limited by budgets, training and time. The virus is somewhat similar to canine distemper and Newcastle Disease on Earth.

Daranaean Third Caste wives who are menopausal are sometimes sold for medical experiments,  as doctors need them to test vaccines.

First Contact, Friendships and Relationship with The Federation

First Contact was between the NX-02 Columbia and a pleasure craft owned by a wealthy Daranaean man, Elemus. It occurred in February of 2160, and did not go too well. First contact is a part of The Cure is Worse than the Disease.

Second contact went considerably better, and is a part of Take Back the Night. This generated some friendships between Daranaeans and humans, including Jonathan Archer and Seppa, and Malcolm Reed and Mistra.

In 2191, a young Inta went on a blind date with a human, Hank Harrison. While things did not work out romantically, the two became friends. Their date is a part of Hearts in Time.

Daranaeans became allies with the Federation, and called upon them later, and made themselves available as well.

Daranaean Future

Such a sexist society will need to change in order to continue to grow. Stay tuned. Big things are in store for the galaxy’s only sentient marsupials. I will post more insights!

Spotlight on Original Drug – Tricoulamine

Origins of Tricoulamine

(229/365) Daily injection | Tricoulamine
Tricoulamine

In my Star Trek fanfiction, Tricoulamine started off as a kind of garden-variety nerve toxin. It’s, in some ways, what a criminal would get as a lethal injection. Or it’s like the cyanide pills that you see in spy movies.

As I progressed with writing fan fiction, I found it was useful for a few other purposes. First of all, it comes in several forms. For humans, it’s either in tablet or injectable form. For Klingons – and it’s not fatal to them; it just knocks them out – it’s a sand-color gas. For Calafans, it occurs naturally in their environment, and is meant to be akin to a form of cyanide being found in peach pits.

Formats

It first shows up in Reversal (injectible form), then in Intolerance (gas), then in Temper (naturally occurring), then in Fortune (tablet), then in Escape and The Point is Probably Moot (both times, it’s a tablet. Escape contains a missing scene from The Point). In Fortune and The Point, it comes out that it is particularly difficult to get if you’re not a physician. However, since it occurs naturally in the environment of the Lafa System, if humans settle there, then there is the potential for people to get it without a prescription.

The name is, in part, reflects the poison grain from The Trouble With Tribbles episode for TOS, quadrotriticale.

Effects

For Klingons, it just knocks them out, and is not harmful. It’s unclear how long the unconscious state lasts. In Intolerance, the Klingons are out for a few days or so,. However, they are already in a weakened state. So it’s unclear.

For humans, it hits your digestive tract or bloodstream and you’re a goner. Fortunately, it’s fast enough that there is little to no pain. In Temper, a human victim of tricoulamine poisoning appeared to be sleeping.

It is unknown how it affects other species, and since it occurs naturally in their environment, it’s possible that it doesn’t affect Calafans at all.

Pronunciation Guide

You can pronounce it as either tri-coo-la-meen or tri-coh-la-meen.