Portrait of a Character – Skrol

Portrait of a Character – Skrol


Portrait of a Character – Skrol

Slar, a canon Gorn

How do you make Gorn likable, or at least relatable? After all, they’re reptiles, and have always and only been shown in Star Trek canon as hissing, over the top villains.


Skrol is played by actor James Franco.

Portrait of a Character – Skrol

James Franco at the premiere of Spiderman 3 in Queens, New York. This is a cropped version of File:James Franco by David Shankbone.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like the idea of getting a good-looking guy into a big rubber suit and having an actor (and the audience) rely on voice and physical presence, rather than looks or basic makeup.


Skrol is like about half or so of all teenaged boys I knew from High School. He’s a horndog.

But he’s also funny and kind when he wants to be. He and Bron are extremely good friends, and he does care about Tr’Dorna in his own way, although he also really, really wants her to flip her tail for him.

He also, sometimes, is a rat. In Losin’ It, he lies to Tr’Dorna and the others in order to try to get her to flip tail.



Will they stay together? It’s hard to say. It’s a High School romance and, as such, the odds are not great. Plus he has not always been straight with her. As for him being true, that might be due more to a lack of appropriate opportunities than any sense of loyalty. After all, Etrina and Tr’Dorna are the only Xindi Reptilian girls at Picard High School, and they’re roommates. Even a potential player like Skrol would be hard-pressed to justify going after both of them.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Skrol

Actor James Franco attends “Shorts #1 – GSA Shorts” screening on October 9, 2010 at United Artists Theater in East Hampton, New York. (Photo © Nick Stepowyj) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t suppose there’s any reason why Skrol can’t exist in the Mirror Universe.

A lot of people write the Mirror as being the complete opposite of our universe, and so they would write sneering villains as angels and vice versa. I’m not so sure what would happen although I see that entire universe as being tougher. Even as a teenager, Skrol would have to be. He’d probably be pushed into a military school, much like Doug is at that age.


“Listen, the warmies don’t have tails. At least, not the kinds I know about. And lemme tell ya, there is nothing like a scaly tail.”


I like writing the fun, silly teenaged reptiles. They’ll be back at some point.

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Mixing It Up Collection, Portrait, 3 comments

Review – The Reptile Speaks

Review – The Reptile Speaks

A reptile speaks?


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.


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


The story is rated K.


Finally, Gorn 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.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Mixing It Up Collection, Review, 7 comments

Portrait of a Character – Tr’Dorna

Portrait of a Character – Tr’Dorna

Tr’Dorna is fun to write.

Oh, it’s so difficult to be a teenager, even one as popular and lovely as Tr’Dorna.

There’s the grooming – for after all, you’ve got to have nice teeth and beautiful eyes! And there’s showing just enough to your boyfriend without revealing your tail too quickly. There’s being sympathetic to your roommate, who might not get a date even to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. There’s being kind to your boyfriend’s roommate, who is fraught with insecurities. And this doesn’t even take schoolwork into account.

And then, of course, there’s the matter of keeping your scales looking good.

I Was a Teenaged Xindi Reptilian

There are no female Xindi Reptilians shown in canon. And there are no young Reptilians shown, either, unless you count the occasional nameless aide who has no lines.

What are their teenaged kids like? What about young girls?

I figured they would be a bit like our own teenaged girls. Sometimes impulsive. And sometimes a little wicked. Sometimes very kind. Flighty, maybe. Overly concerned with appearance, possibly. In short, much like us.


Tr’Dorna is originally introduced in The Reptile Speaks, as being Skrol the Gorn‘s girlfriend. Since there are no female teenaged Gorn at Picard High School, Skrol goes after Tr’Dorna, and urges his roommate, Bron (he is also a Gorn), to hook up with Tr’Dorna’s roommate, Etrina, another female Xindi Reptilian.

Tr’Dorna is portrayed in that story as a little bawdy, teasing and flirting and weighing her options as to whether she will show Skrol her tail, which is a prelude to serious foreplay and possibly sex. She also encourages Etrina to find someone for the dance, particularly when it looks like it isn’t going to work out between Etrina and Bron, and even pumps up Etrina by referring to her friend as the “picture of health”.

When Skrol talks about getting her a tiger lily wrist corsage, he mentions that it will bring out her eyes. In canon, Reptilian eyes are yellow, so hers would be a more orangey-yellow in color.

In Insecurity, it is she who Skrol turns to in order to comfort a lonely and lovesick Bron. Here she is sympathetic and kind, telling Bron that his girl is probably missing him as much as he is missing her. Bron refers to her as “a really sweet and smart lady”.


Portrait of a Character – Tr’Dorna

Hayden Panettiere

It’s tough to envision humans “playing” alien characters, particularly when so much makeup and such an enormous amount of prosthetics would clearly be needed. But I see Hayden Panettiere  as Tr’Dorna, just kind of a fun-loving young girl with a mischievous smile.


“All I’m saying, Bron, is that you can only go on the facts you’ve got, and what’s, well, what’s logical, whether we’re talking about how Sophra is spending break, or how Etrina is. Don’t look at me like I’m a scaly Vulcan or anything! Just, you’re jumping to conclusions and assuming a lot of things. Have a little faith, okay? We girls usually aren’t so different from you guys. We’re not out to actively try to hurt you. I think that’s even true of a warmie like Sophra.”


Tr’Dorna may be a little boy-crazy, and she doesn’t exactly make schoolwork a priority. But she’s a good friend, and has a decent head on her scaly shoulders.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Mixing It Up Collection, Portrait, 6 comments

Portrait of a Character – Bron

Bron, the hopeless romantic.

For Valentine’s’ Day, here’s a look at a character absolutely motivated by love.

Bron, Sophra, and The Unexpected Pairing

On Ad Astra, I swear I was only joking when I suggested a Star Trek fanfiction love story about a shy write it!

My first venture into the Bron-Sophra pairing was The Reptile Speaks. What I wanted to get across was the idea of a very unexpected lover. Currently, for us humans, an unexpectedly romantic person or partner might be someone who is of a different race or religion from us, or someone who we might not see as romantic (the stereotypical jock or soldier, perhaps).

Analogous Mixed Pairings Here on Earth

Back when I was a kid, a mixed marriage was considered, generally, as being between two people of different religions. And, a good hundred-plus years before that, technically, it was an issue for Jews if the one of the two parties to a marriage was Sephardic, and the other Ashkenazi. In that case, even a marriage of two Jews could be seen this way. And of course now you see a lot of mixed race marriages. A major, landmark case, Loving vs. Virginia (Supreme Court, 1967) declared any legislation outlawing marriage between differing races was unconstitutional.

As a Massachusetts resident, I have seen my share of same-sex marriages as well. I recognize that this is not the norm everywhere, but it is becoming so here. These examples are as close as we can get to the concept of interspecies romance and, perhaps, marriage.


For alien characters requiring a lot of makeup and/or prosthetics, it can be difficult to visualize them. But for me, Bron is a classic romantic lead in a difficult body. I think of Leonardo DiCaprio,

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Leonardo DiCaprio as Bron (image is for educational purposes only)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Bron (image is for educational purposes only)

who has made himself somewhat less than attractive in a lot of roles, but has also been a romantic lead. Forget the hair. Forget the skin. Concentrate on the eyes, on the voice, on the body shape and size, on the posture, on the mannerisms, and let your imagination wander. Think of what it was like to be a teenager, or shy, or not fitting in. Think of longing, and of missed opportunities, and of insecurity.

Is there not a soul in the sentient reptile? Hath not the Gorn eyes?


“Um, I just, I don’t know if you would want to be, to be seen with, with a guy like me.”

A Gentle Dragon?

My hope with creating Bron was and is to put forth someone who is out of left field when it comes to romance and gallantry. Bron’s gentle nature is not readily apparent. You have to look past frightening teeth, claws and scales. You need to see what’s inside the person, and uncover the sensitivity within.

When a weekly free write prompt came up about crying, I decided to continue the Bron-Sophra story with Insecurity. I often have trouble writing characters weeping (and for the life of me, I have no idea why), but Bron’s crying, to me, rang true. He is a teenaged character, with a lot of the insecurities and highs and lows that come from being about fifteen or sixteen or so. And like a lot of less than good-looking guys out there, he worries about his chances with girls and is shy because he doesn’t want to be hurt.

You may not want to hug him, still, but I hope you can see beyond the teeth, the claws and the cold-bloodedness. We may very well find that some of our best and closest alien friends look nothing like us. Why, when you next hear a Shakespearean sonnet, it might just come from a guy who looks like this.

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The truth about Bron

The truth about Bron

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Mixing It Up Collection, Portrait, 14 comments