The Sargasso Sea? It might be a stretch. Or maybe not. The gulf between different people and different species certainly feels impossible to surmount.
So for a prompt about working together, I made a decision to revisit Gina Nolan‘s universe and wrap things up a bit. The best way, I felt, was to try to bring the story more or less full circle. Hence the Nolan family would have to meet the Breen head on, but not in battle. Instead, in peacetime, they would have to deal with them, somehow. And for Gina and Freela in particular, that feels way too hard.
It’s about twenty years since the Breen attack on Earth. Gina and Gabby have more or less moved on. Gina has even remarried, to the Klingon, Kittriss. Life’s going pretty well, and Gabrielle is in a special school for the performing arts. Freela, her Klingon stepsister, is starting college (she’s going into engineering).
Then a Breen family moves into the neighborhood, and Gina is one of the many people yelling, “Breen, go home!”
I don’t know if the solution was too pat. I didn’t want for there to be easy answers, but I don’t know. I’m a bit ambivalent about this story. I feel that the characterizations are good and the plot line is a decent one. But I do wonder if the story arc and its payoff are truly believable, and I welcome feedback (as I do for all of the things I write).
When I first began writing again, I had fairly recently read Jane Eyre in its entirety for the first time. This triggered the addition of that story, at times, into my Star Trek fan fiction. Lili O’Day and Reversal, in particular, are in some ways a space version of at least parts of that story.
The idea of bringing together two people who are from rather different walks of life or at least professions, and giving them a future (but not giving them an immediate happy ending) was a challenge. For the heroine to not be a great beauty, but to still be independent and insist upon a relationship on her own terms was irresistible. These threads can be seen in any number of places in my work.
When Lili and Doug first get together, her situation is quite a bit like Jane’s. She’s a low-level crew member and is isolated, and is not very attractive.
As the quietly serving one who cleans up, Lili is supposed to be the sort of below decks person who fades into the background. And she often does. For the ship to send a search party out for her, and to nearly have an interstellar incident with the Calafans when she is abducted, is a big, big deal. This is a person who most of them underestimated, who turns out to be rather important indeed.
Seppa reveals that Lili and Malcolm sent books to the young Daranaean girls, including this one.
Wider Than the Sargasso Sea
Several years after the Breen attack, Gabrielle Nolan stars in this play, with Desh, a Breen, playing opposite her as Mr. Rochester.
But can Gabby act opposite a boy whose father fought in a devastating war, as her enemy? And what about the townspeople? The Breen are kept in a separate section, which Gabby’s mother, Gina, dismisses as a ghetto. Is this any way to normalize relations?
In Hold Your Dominion, a somewhat earlier Star Trek fanfiction piece, Gina and Gabrielle Nolan experience immeasurable loss when Gina’s husband, Michael, loses his life in a senseless Breen attack before Gabrielle is even born.
But life goes on, and eventually it’s five years since the attack. Gabby and Gina go to Gabby’s school, where there is a presentation of artwork commemorating the attack. Gabrielle’s artwork is a little disturbing, but there is a much better piece done by a little Klingon girl, Freela, who has lost her mother. When Gina finds a Klingon man who seems to be looking for something or someone, he turns out to be Kittris, Freela’s father. Gina immediately starts calling him Kit.
The actor is affable and intelligent and seems a better mate for Gina than a lot of the more standard Klingons would be. He seems to be a guy with a sense of humor and timing and grace, and not just a grappler with brawn.
Kit is a butcher by trade, but he does his best to assure that the animals he has to slaughter don’t suffer. When he and Gina first talk, he’s tentative (he doesn’t speak English very well yet). They make conversation as well as they can, and Gina can see how Kit interacts with Freela. He doesn’t belittle her when she’s afraid, with some notion of insisting that a little girl somehow behave like a Klingon warrior. Instead, he’s kind and patient.
After they have married, he takes in Gabrielle and treats her as if she were his second daughter. He insists that the two Nolans be a part of any family events or activities (including the wedding of Lannis’s younger sister, Lukara), and Freela and Gabrielle even share a bedroom. When the girls are older, and Gabby has to act opposite a Breen, Kit is supportive, and checks to make sure that Gabby is being treated all right, even by a former enemy.
Just like Michael Nolan, Lannis is killed in the Breen attack. However, Lannis was no civilian. Instead, she was a bombardier on a two-person Daranaean ship, and was shot down during a fire fight over San Francisco. When Kittris and Gina first meet, he intimates to her that he did not always get along with his first wife’s family, but he was dependent upon them to help with Freela, who was an infant at the time of her mother’s death.
With Gina, Kit finds a willing and equal partner in life. They blend their families in such a way that I often refer to them as the Klingon Brady Bunch. The union is respectful and as equal as it can be.
In Smash Your Dominion, the meeting in the Mirror Universe between the Mirror versions of Kit and Gina goes far differently as Gina, a Captain’s Woman, has to get her rambunctious daughter out of trouble before the Captain Keller (who is not Gabby’s father) finds out.
In exchange for a little something fun, Kit keeps quiet about Gabrielle getting into a small scrape. But Kit knows that it’s a bad idea to get involved with a Captain’s Woman. Unless one is a captain, of course.
“We realize that you must rehearse. But, well, everything about that boy disturbs me.”
I haven’t really thought about what else to do with this family, at least, not for a while. The situation may present itself, but right now Kit is on hold with the remainder of his blended clan.
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 came closer, I found myself thinking about that day. I wanted, in particular, to write about women who had been pregnant at the time of the attack. The Breen attack on Earth seemed a good backdrop for that, plus it was a chance to learn about a part of Star Trek that I really didn’t know anything about. Therefore, I began with a story of a pregnant woman, and framed it against Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief.
Brassy and no-nonsense, Gina is overwhelmed when she learns that her husband, Michael, a Xenobotanist, has been instantly killed at his Beijing laboratory. She has been at home on Proxima Centauri, safe from the attack, but bereft all the same. Most of her story is told in Hold Your Dominion, although a portion is told in Wider Than the Sargasso Sea.
Keeping away the soldiers tasked with informing her of the death seems her only logical move. Of course that doesn’t bring Michael back; it just prolongs the moment of learning of his death.
On Andoria for a memorial service, Gina loses patience with just about everyone.
To get across the idea of bargaining, I had her haggle with a Ferengi merchant. Still on Andoria, and still being run ragged, she gets redbat at a decent price, particularly after a security officer intervenes.
Returning to Proxima, Gina is overwhelmed by smells and rudeness, but it all comes to a head when she sees the destroyed tree in her front yard. A symbol of her and Michael’s love, it was killed when a military shuttle landed on it and its inhabitants told her of her husband’s death. It’s all too much for her, and she spirals downwards.
Her first Christmas after Michael’s death is spent with her parents. She takes them to a crossing of streets that has been named Michael Nolan Square. A dedication plaque reads, “This square is dedicated to Xenobotanist Michael G. Nolan, born July first, 2341. Nolan died on October tenth, 2375, at his lab in Beijing, when the Breen attacked Earth. He left a wife and a daughter.”
Five years after the attack, Gina is seen being pulled along to look at artwork. Whose artwork? Her daughter’s. The children at Decker Elementary have all been told to draw something about the Breen attack. While there, they spot a lost child – a little Klingon girl who is a bit older than Gina’s daughter, Gabrielle. The girl, Freela, is crying for her father. When they are reunited, a ribbon is awarded for the best drawing in the first grade, and it goes to Freela. Gina suggests ice cream, and Freela’s father, Kittris, agrees.
As the grownups talk and the girls play, it becomes apparent that there might be a chance for something more than just a pleasant afternoon.
Ten years later, a milestone in Kittriss’s family is an occasion for Gina and Gabby to again try to fit in.
Five years afterwards, Gina is interviewed as a part of a commemoration of the attack, and she remembers Michael, but not with sadness.
The Next Generation
In Wider Than the Sargasso Sea, much of the action shifts to Gabrielle, but Gina is still there, still fighting, and is a part of a large mixed crowd protesting Breen moving into their neighborhood and, as that story begins, yells, “Breen, go home!”
He’s never seen alive, although I might write a flashback at some point. Their marriage was a decent one, but they worked on different planets, and that could not have been easy.
Originally, they’re drawn together by shared grief, but then it becomes something more. Together, they raise their daughters – and I often (albeit not actually in my fanfiction) refer to them as “The Klingon Brady Bunch”.
In the Mirror Universe, Gina is a Captain’s Woman, to Alexander Bashir (Bashir is mentioned in The Point is Probably Moot as being the captain of the ISS Molotov). But she does have a taste for Klingon men, and meets Kittress under very different circumstances, in Smash Your Dominion.
“It wasn’t meant to be fair, and that’s not just because of the Breen. It’s, in general. It’s never meant to be fair. It’s death, and while I think it holds account books, I also don’t kid myself. It’s not a simple equation. It’s not like we gathered all the bad people together, and then told the Breen to have at it. It’s not that. And it’s not God taking the most righteous or that kind of bull, either. It was just a bunch of people who drew the unlucky card that day. If I didn’t have my teaching job here, I would have been living in Beijing, too. And then Gabrielle and I would be gone, too.”
I think the Sargasso Sea story mainly wrapped up this story line, but I don’t know. Gina often surprises me, and she may yet do so again.
Gabby started off as almost a plot device. I had been working on a series of ficlets surrounding the Breen attack on Earth, and I was analogizing them to the Five Stages of Grief. The Breen attack also felt a lot like 9/11, so I wanted to tell the story from the perspective of a pregnant widow. Gabrielle is not the widow (Gina is); she’s the daughter. So she doesn’t show up until the sixth stage, which is healing.
While I wanted to move the story beyond grief, I also wrote the healing aspect in order to introduce Gabby. This was done as the response to a weekly free write prompt about art. When I saw the prompt, the first thing I thought of was art therapy, and I immediately got the image of a child’s red-colored rounded scrawl into my head, and that would not go away.
As a part of the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the Breen attack, Gabby’s school has its students draw, paint or sculpt their impressions of that day. Gabrielle isn’t the only bereft child, as she learns. For Gabby, it’s a day to make a friend, as it is for her mother, Gina. A part of healing is, I feel, to go outside yourself, and see that others might be in the same boat as you. Art brings it all together, as Gabby’s piece and another piece bring them close to people with a similar bereavement.
“It’s a tomato.”
(when asked about the red scrawl on her drawing).
Gabby is shown as both a child and a teenager. For her time as a small child, I see MacKenzie Foy.
As a teenager, I don’t really have a visual for her yet. She’s a child of the twenty-fourth century, and a child of tragedy. So she is much like any of the children of 9/11 victims, whether they extant or in utero on 9/11/01. As a teenager, she is a lot like a typical human teenager. She’s engrossed in her PADD, bored with slow-moving adult things, and intent on fixing up her friends with each other, a little like Jane Austen’s Emma.
In her eyes, her mother sees her lost father, Michael Nolan, much as I expect 9/11 widows see their husbands in the eyes of their children.