For Reversal in particular to work, there had a to be a number of people ready and able to go to war.
In particular, as the Mirror Universe is so different from the prime universe, a lot of people would be soldiers there who wouldn’t be so here. Or they would be more violent and less disciplined than in our universe. As it is explained to Lili, the percentage of military personnel is deliberately kept very high over there.
There are more MACOs in particular than the group listed here, but these people are seen the most.
This Calafan recruit drills directly under Doug and, in the Mirror, in one of the alternate timelines, assassinates the Empress Hoshi Sato during Temper.
Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett
Doug, a trained killer, spends much of Reversal trying to leave the practice of making war. When he can’t find anything else to do with himself in Together, he eventually becomes the captain of a defense unit on Lafa II, and instructs recruits.
Chang, a canon character, defends the Enterprise but, in the E2 timeline, commits crimes.
Curtis is another E2 timeline criminal. In the Temper alternate timelines, he’s named Craig.
In the prime universe, Delacroix is a security guard who becomes a chef. In the Mirror, he nearly kills Doug.
Unlike the other five kids, Tommy joins Starfleet and goes into Tactical.
In the deep future, Tom is assigned to the Breen homeworld before he joins the Temporal Integrity Commission.
Deb works in Security in both universes. In the Mirror, she kills Brian before he has a chance to off Doug. But her victory is short-lived, and she perishes when he leaves that universe.
The consummate soldier, Major J. Hayes is so committed to defending the ship that he has nearly no time for people.
Yet another E2 criminal, Hodgkins is often paired with Curtis, particularly in the Mirror.
Chip is wasted in Security and is moved over to Communications. This isn’t possible in the Mirror, so he stays in Tactical. In the prime timeline, he escapes the Empress, but in one of the alternates, he rises to become captain of the Defiant.
Travis is a soldier in the Mirror Universe only. He’s a poor soldier, though, and an even worse leader. In the alternate timelines, and in the prime timeline, he is fragged by his own troops.
Like Travis, Andy is only a soldier in the Mirror. When the Empress taps him for somewhat earthy duties, he manages to get himself reassigned to Science.
The other consummate canon career soldier, Malcolm is more ambitious and tries for a command as soon as he can get one.
José is another person who is only a soldier in the Mirror. He is not cut out for command at all and, in an alternate timeline, destroys his ship, the Luna, and everyone on board is killed.
Star Trek fanfiction will always have a place for men and women (and other genders) in uniform.
Steven Culp himself had suggested that Major Hayes‘s name was either Jay or Jeremiah. By using Jay for the Major, it made sense to use Jeremiah for his father.
Jeremiah Hayes is played by veteran actor Steven Culp. I love the idea of using the same actor for both fathers and sons, much like Scott Bakula did in Quantum Leap.
Rigid and somewhat militaristic in his thinking, Jeremiah orders his child or children (depends on the universe; in the prime universe, he has a daughter, Laura. Laura doesn’t exist in the Mirror Universe).
He isn’t necessarily mean, but he is emotionally unavailable. Jay and Doug both seek their father’s approval. For Laura, there is nearly nothing known about her relationship with her father.
Jeremiah’s only known relationship is with Lena. He is, without question, the king of the castle.
In the mirror, Jeremiah is tough and he tries hard to make Doug tough. This causes Jeremiah to send his only child away to boarding school a few months before Doug has to go. The idea is to toughen Doug up, but it frightens the sensitive child. When Doug is beat up enough times, he becomes tough and unfeeling on his own, and without Jeremiah’s help. It isn’t until Doug meets Lili that he learns to open up.
Is Jeremiah a spousal abuser? There have been readers who have interpreted him that way. My own personal jury is out. I think that in the Mirror Universe, he treats Lena fairly well. After all, I write MU women as having a tough lot in life. Lena is no exception. But it’s quite the coup for her to have become attached to such a strong man. But Jeremiah isn’t necessarily powerful, and they aren’t necessarily wealthy.
“No, he will be beaten up for it. Don’t you understand? They will tear him apart if they think they can get any sort of an advantage. Do you not get that?”
Given how Jeremiah behaves, and what he says in the Mirror, his early life was a lot like Doug’s. Doug gets a chance to redeem himself, whereas Jeremiah never seems to. In the prime universe, he’s mainly just a rigid military man. But in the Mirror Universe, he’s another casualty.
Lilies and Lili! For a prompt about sweetness, I gave two answers.
This was the second one. I wanted to get across the sweetness of relationships, both the long-term and the fairly new.
In addition, in Fortune, one of the family photographs was of Joss and Jia at their prom. I wanted to fill in the blanks, the missing details, of that.
Joss, a little jumpy in a tuxedo, is cooling his heels before Jia and her parents arrive to take him to the prom at their little school on Lafa II. Marie Patrice is, as she often is, a little snarky. Declan even jokes a bit. Lili is of course more supportive. Malcolm is mentioned very briefly.
There is a little bustling as Doug arrives with groceries. The kids go out to help (after Lili tells them to), but she holds back Joss so that he won’t get dirty. There is a mysterious blue bag that no one is allowed to touch.
Once the food is put away, Doug opens up the bag, revealing a carnation boutonniere for Joss and a corsage for Jia. Jia’s parents, Mai and Geming arrive with their daughter. Savvy readers will recognize Geming’s counterpart as being Doug’s final deliberate kill in the Mirror Universe.
After they depart, and the other two children return to their homework, Lili laments that Doug never had a prom. He confirms that, at the time, he was finishing up at West Point and about to go into Basic Training. But he’s got one more surprise for her.
For a monthly prompt about sacrifice, I wanted (as I often do) to turn it on its head. This was not to be a story about noble sacrifices for idealistic causes, with Starfleet cheering all the way. Instead, it was to be a story about personal human sacrifices, and how Starfleet can, I suspect, chew people up and spit them out.
he’s going to miss them. Hoshi is looking forward to spending more time with her family. Travis is trying to salvage his marriage. They are both retiring. It’s 2181, and they are the last three left of the original seven senior officers on the NX-01. T’Pol has returned to Vulcan and Phlox is back on Denobula. Tucker is dead, and Archer is pursuing a political career, which dovetails with Star Trek: Enterprise canon. With Hoshi and Travis’s retirements, Malcolm will be the last one standing.
Malcolm knows that, no matter what, he’s got to get home and be with Lili. He will have to set aside everything and, potentially, jeopardize his standing and his command, things he has worked very, very hard for.
I like how it turned out, as it wove the themes of sacrifice and familial duty, crossing them with duties to Starfleet. It was a chance to fill in a few gaps left in Fortune, and to bring in the bench characters and give them great roles, people like Aidan, Chip, Deb, José, and Jennifer. The story acts as a bridge to the deeper future and continues the process of tying In Between Days to the Times of the HG Wells. I think it fulfilled its purpose well.
In response to a weekly prompt about painting a scene, I submitted Atlas. As far back as Reversal, I had described Titania as a kind of Southerners‘ paradise. This story gave me an opportunity to showcase that.
In late April of 2133, Jay is a sergeant and is under a Major Ian Landry. Savvy fanfiction readers will recognize Landry as being one of Doug‘s kills, in the Mirror Universe, as described in Fortune.
The MACO unit has just been assigned to Titania.
While Jay is an NCO, the military presence is new, so not all of the barracks buildings have been completed. Therefore, even though he isn’t supposed to, he is made to bunk with the enlisted personnel.
Jay meticulously sets up his area, following every regulation down to the minutest detail. His neighbor, a guy named Mercer, is a lot less careful, and the remainder of the enlisted men are imperfect in their execution of the order to get unpacked. Only Jay gets everything right.
As a result, he is given Cinderella Liberty, and takes his time off to go to the Bar District of New Natchez. He has some small adventures, and even sees a woman who will eventually turn out to be Susan Cheshire, although he does not approach her.
I like the little look into Jay’s background. At the time, I was writing The Three of Us, and it struck me that I had very little on Jay’s background, and that needed to be rectified. There are a lot more stories I could tell about Jay; I have barely scratched the surface there.
Having declared herself Empress, Hoshi has to consolidate her power. She has to eliminate threats and pick up allies. This means ruthless Machiavellian efficiency.
Furthermore, she has to get rid of the Emperor, who I write as a descendant of canon mass murderer Philip Green. Green brings along only three bodyguards, foolishly underestimating her bloodlust – José Torres, Brian Delacroix, and Andrew Miller.
I like how it turned out. In particular, I enjoyed putting together Hoshi’s plan and showing her nastiness. Her impatience with science and with delays, her casual approach to murder and her lust are all on display. I’m very pleased with the final product.
Doug and Lili are flown to the surface by Travis, who 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. 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.
The apartment is seen and described, 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) are shown, 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). The idea of the Calafans always being on the make is shown, as is Doug’s temper. Even some of the alien gesturing is explained, and the cake made at the end has a blueberry filling – a shout-out to my portrayal of Jay Hayes as loving blueberries.
A lot happens in a short amount of time, as 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), as it serves as an introduction to a lot of disparate aspects of my universe.
In Reversal, I establish that Lili O’Day‘s favorite color is blue. Reversal also, happily, ends up with Doug and Lili more or less riding off into the sunset.
At least, that was the original idea.
But then came the fanfiction prequels and the sequels.
Bridge Stories and Prequels
Reversal is a prequel to A Kind of Blue, but so is Local Flavor, which begins Doug and Lili’s life on Lafa II and begins to establish some of the background. That is, they are new on Lafa II, their only friends are Treve and his family, and they barely have two nickels to rub together. All of this is played out against the backdrop of being the only humans in the entire Lafa System. Plus the Calafans all seem to be on the make.
This story was written in response to a challenge to write a happy story, so I went with the color as an indicator of sadness but, also, of far different things. For Lili, the first indicator is this one – and it works with the stories as one of the bits of information from Reversal is that Doug is powerful enough that he’s probably going to be able to get by her birth control.
What has also been established is that she’d need to have surgery, and have the operation known as The O’Day Reversal put back in order to be able to successfully carry a fetus to term. With Lili pregnant (and experiencing wicked morning sickness), the first stop is Doctor Miva‘s office, but before they can go anywhere, Doug drops the stick on the floor of their apartment. He suddenly realizes he’s on bended knee, so he proposes.
The remainder of the story is the surgery and then their wedding, which includes Calafan wedding vows and surprise rings purchased by Doug.
The story is rated K.
With a wedding and a baby come other responsibilities. But there’s still time to visit friends in Friday Visit, and Pacing and The Gift both advance the Becketts’ lives together even more.
In addition, the new restaurant, Reversal, opens up. Lili and Doug can barely look up, and there is no time to do renovations and put in a bigger and more modern stove until the couple depart for a vacation to Oberon for Jenny and Frank‘s wedding, which Lili will cater (Together).
I was, in all honesty, spinning it out from nothing. I had nearly no plan for the story, no outline and at first I wasn’t even saving it to Word. And so, when I was saving the first post, the topic had to have a name. On an impulse, I named it Reversal.
It was a rather earthy dream, truth be told. And it was about a character on Enterprise. And I woke up, thinking – there’s a story there.
From such beginnings, I developed an idea. The septum between the Prime Universe and the Mirror would be thinner at one particular point in the galaxy. This was in parallel to the reality of the Earth’s crust. It is not uniform. Hence I wanted the separation to not be of uniform thickness/difficulty in crossing.
Bare Bones Story Line
The idea was for it to be possible to cross the boundary between the Prime Universe and the mirror through the dream state. The concept was that, for a certain species, the connections would be normal. And then, as the NX-01 Enterprise on our side, and the ISS Defiant on the other, enter that same system, the psionically charged atmosphere would cause two people to simultaneously start to pick up on that same wavelength. But for them, it would be a romance.
It starts off with a bang. The first line is – It didn’t hurt. I love this opening line, as the reader should immediately be thinking – what? What didn’t hurt? Was it supposed to? And then the story moves along from there. The first dream is a coupling dream, where a fantasy is played out in what seems to be a normal Freudian fashion. People kiss, their clothes fly away and of course more happens. It’s pitch black. They remain silent, although they can hear each other breathing. But then the heroine – Lili O’Day – breaks the spell by incoherently calling out loud.
And so we’re off to the races, for the next two scenes shift from her and her roommate in our universe to her fellow and his roommate – a woman – in the mirror. We know Lili’s name, but not the guy’s. He’s just referred to – and rather pejoratively at that – as the old man. His name is kept out of the first few chapters as he is a counterpart to a canon character.
Clues are dropped and some come from the characters’ speaking whereas others come from Lili talking in her sleep or references from the twin surfaces. Something is going on, in both universes. There is more happening than just the dreams.
From the beginning, I wanted the story to have symbolic meanings. For the title, the first half of the word, rêve, is French for dream. This also works as the second half symbolizes waking life. Plus there is the word itself and its connotations of reinvention and retrograde changes.
Other symbols abound. After the first dream, Lili – who is the sous-chef on the Enterprise – is ordered to make every meal with oranges for one day. When she goes to sleep that night, she reeks of oranges, and it’s the first word that her fellow says to her. So, not only can he smell her, but there is also what oranges kind of mean. They are of course seen as being different from apples (and apples connote temptation and the fall from purity). Oranges, I felt would symbolize sunshine and happiness, and warmth and light.
Another symbol or rather symbols is the quadruple star system. The largest star is a white giant named Lo, which should make the reader think of the phrase lo and behold. The second-largest star is a yellow medium-sized star intended to be like the sun. It’s called Abic (Ay-bick) and is a bit like abba, the Hebrew word for father. The third star is a small orange star called Fep. The smallest one is a red dwarf (yes, it’s a shout out to that TV series) called Ub. Hoshi herself explains that there are value judgments behind the names – Lo is for goodness, Abic is secondary, Fep is small and Ub is sinister.
The five main books in the In Between Days series are each about one of the five main characters (Pamela Hudson is essentially the sixth main character, but she isn’t connected with any book as well as she is with Intolerance). Reversal is, essentially, about Lili. From learning about the fire that killed her parents, to getting to know her as a chef, a lover and a friend, to even peeking at her finances, Lili is all over most of the pages, particularly in the dream sequences and the Prime Universe scenes. This is Lili’s tale.
It’s just the gift that keeps on giving; it’s so incredibly dense with plot. I am grateful to have such a pond to fish in. Apparently readers have agreed; on various platforms, it has racked up over 500,000 reads.
Paving Stones was one of those stories that emerged nearly fully-formed in one quick session.
One thing that didn’t go so smoothly was the choice of a title. It evolved as follows – The first title was Paving Stones Made of Bad Intentions, as it is a Mirror Universe story. However, I didn’t like the idea of going with a straightforward opposite. Instead, I wanted for it to be a lot clearer that the centerpiece scene was an act of love, albeit somewhat misguided love.
The second iteration was Paving Stones Made of Good Intentions, which corrected the idiom and better evoked the undercurrent of it being the road to hell. But I didn’t love how it flowed.
The final title was Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions. This title brings together not only the fact that the centerpiece scene is happening because people mean well but also because this is the road to hell. Furthermore, I wanted the title to effectively denote that the road to hell is actually deliberately and actively fashioned from these good intentions, rather than somewhat more passively made of them. A subtle difference, to be sure, but the idea was that the intentions are in a somewhat more refined form. It is – there are good intentions but they are perverted and shaped into the paving stones, as opposed to just laid down in the roadbed.
When I wrote Reversal, one of the things I had Doug describe was his early childhood and how he was sent off to boarding school. But I didn’t go into a lot of detail. Hence I wanted a little more about that. In addition, this is Doug’s first real meeting with Lili. So, while he doesn’t necessarily sugarcoat things, he doesn’t go into a lot of excruciating detail. Plus, for Doug at the time, his going away to school occurred over four and half decades previously. Hence some detail or another may have been forgotten.
In Reversal, Doug also briefly mentions that he received his promotion to run Tactical in a manner where he did not have to murder his superior officer. It was important to me, given the way that the overall story arc was to go, that he not be the killer of Ian Reed, Malcolm‘s mirror counterpart. And so Doug had to be put in charge of Tactical on the Defiant, somehow.
Furthermore, the story was written as a response to Ad Astra’s January 2012 Pathways challenge, wherein the writers were challenged to come up with stories about formative stages or scenes in an older character’s life. I had originally considered writing about Lili O’Day and the house fire that had killed her parents, but I was thinking about that and suddenly one word hit me, and it wouldn’t let go. And that word was indoctrination. Once the word grabbed me, writing the story was a lot like taking dictation. Very few changes, apart from minor cosmetic ones, were made after the first draft was written.
The Five Signs of Weakness
I wanted a kind of distorted version of the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule. Over time, I had already written several mirror universe stories, so there was already a framework. And in Reversal, Doug acknowledges that there are signs of weakness and that he cannot show them, for that’s a confession of vulnerability that could cost him his life. The signs, at that point in the progress of my writing, were somewhat underdeveloped but they did include not acknowledging an injury and not admitting to love. Doug himself sees the development of his nascent conscience as probably being what the mirror would think of as the ultimate sign of weakness. After all, in the mirror, how can you act if you’re tripped up by guilt?
In order to convert these somewhat incoherent ideas into lessons digestible for a child, I created a maxim of five signs of weakness for all mirror children to learn, and have to repeat back to their elders.
I will never show physical weakness.
I will never show weakness in trade.
I will not show mental weakness.
I will not show weakness in my dealings with others.
I will never show weakness when it comes to justice.
During the course of the story, Doug and his parents explain what each of the signs really entails. For example, mental weakness not only involves not knowing how to do something, but also not keeping apprised of rumors and intelligence. Doug is told to keep his eyes and ears open, and not wait for people to impart lessons. He is encouraged to have intellectual curiosity, but it’s not about books or mathematics. Rather, it’s about the various whisperings around an encampment or a barracks or a starship. In many ways, Doug is being told to eavesdrop, as not knowing certain things could harm his career or even cost him his life.
Jane Eyre is a favorite book and it was a definite influence. I liked the idea of a school where children would be intimidated (Lord of the Flies and Tom Brown’s School Days also came to mind). Jane’s Lowood School and the school in Tom Brown’s School Days served as models for the Triton Day School, where Doug would be, essentially, indoctrinated into the ways of the mirror. The softness of his mother, Lena, was to be forgotten or, if it was recalled at all, to be ridiculed and dismissed with a sneer. I even had Doug taken to school by a Mister Brocklehurst – a direct reference to Jane Eyre. The school was also portrayed as a place where Doug’s beloved stuffed toy would be taken from him and used to harm him. In Fortune, Doug confirms that gentler children were bullied and harassed and that, in order to survive, he had to become hardened.
Originally a giraffe, the stuffed velociraptor represents childhood innocence, but with a cruel twist. The toy is shown at the beginning and is Doug’s sole comfort as he listens to his parents argue about his fate. The toy’s banishment from the breakfast table, and Lena’s inability to find it signify that Doug’s innocence is already, irretrievably, lost. Finally, the choice of a velociraptor is not only to show menace behind the plush, but it also foreshadows his predecessor at Tactical’s fate – death after being mauled by a Gorn, who resembles a velociraptor rather closely.
For Doug, running Tactical is a useful promotion, but not one that he had originally sought. If Ian Reed had lived (in canon, there’s an even shot as to whether Malcolm’s mirror counterpart would survive a Gorn attack), Doug would have remained as CO of the MACOs on the Defiant. Instead, Doug is placed into direct competition with Aidan MacKenzie and Chip Masterson. As is true in my fanfiction, the Defiant is a confusing mess, and Doug must figure things out quickly. Hence the flashback to his being sent off to school, where he clearly also had to do a lot of fancy footwork in order to get up to speed in a hurry.
One thing that Doug learns from Lili is forgiveness, and so, off-screen, he does eventually forgive his parents. By the time of A Kind of Blue, they are already naming their first-born son after Jeremiah (Doug’s father) and Lena.
And by the time of Together, that son, Jeremiah Logan Beckett – who they call Joss – is carrying around a stuffed dinosaur of his own. But in Joss’s case, it’s a much gentler stegosaurus.