Ah, it’s the sweetest universe! And you can never go wrong with the wacky pumpkin pie meme and its variations.
So as a part of Multiverse II, kes7 and I created Interdimensional Pumpkin Pie #49.
It was quite by accident; I had mainly just wanted Levi Cavendish to be quirky as all hell. As a result, he, in that story, asks for pumpkin pie while in the middle of trying to save the multiverse. At the time, it was a mere throwaway line. I never meant for it to go anywhere. I swear!
In the meantime, eventually, he had the replicator system spit out hundreds if not thousands of pumpkin pies, based upon varying radiation bands. This rather neatly introduces the concept of separate radiation bands while simplifying the idea of multiple universes. And it simultaneously ups the Levi quirk factor to infinity. At one point, he says to kes’s character, Maren O’Connor, “Number 49 was good.”
The prompt was created with Levi in mind, particularly because people were rather heavily ‘shipping him with Otra D’Angelo. Therefore, I had to come up with some way for him to do something good for everyone. Also, this would get this poor ADHD-addled guy out of his own personal zone. And it would show that, deep under his tics and his weirdnesses, he really does care.
And so, on September 2, 3110, Levi makes interdimensional pie #49 for everyone. Plus this is how I got to put my birthday into the timeline. Really. Don’t ask how old I’ll be. 😉
So the only thing that might be missing from this one is that I could have expanded it a bit more. It was, though, a good way to start to get the Otra-Levi romance off the ground. Pumpkin pie #49 is now a meme that will never die!
I had had some vague ideas of putting them together, but I had not really acted on them. Couple this with the fact that I had never really written Marci Cavendish, and the only getting together for our two tentative lovers was in Levi and Otra’s own fevered dreams, the construction of such a story proved to be a bit difficult. So I decided to not show their first kiss and instead fast forward to Levi bringing Otra home to meet dear old Mom.
But Mom’s not just any mother.
Levi takes Otra home to meet his fundy mother, Marci.
Levi is distracted and, frankly, terrified of both of them. Marci is suspicious of this girl with the wacky floral hair. And of course poor Otra, the sanest of the three, is worried about the implications of meeting her new boyfriend’s mother. She smooths the way by bringing homemade gnocchi, and remembers to keep it vegan, just in case Marci is swinging that way that week. That proves to be impressive to the older woman, that Otra would be so effortlessly thoughtful and caring.
I like how this little vignette turned out, in particular as Levi asserts himself and declares, without reservation, that Otra is the best person he knows. In a way, there’s a little sadness to the story, too, as it seems impossible for Levi to share that kind of intimate information with his father, Zach, who is gone, gone, gone.
Desperation comes in an odd place in this story. But parents will know this feeling all too, uncomfortably, well.
For a prompt of the same name, I decided to go with one of life’s little desperations. While others might have concentrated on a damaged ship or a damaged relationship, I zigged instead of zagged. Therefore, I wrote the merry mix-ups that occur when you are trying to toilet train your recalcitrant mixed-species toddler.
Yes, I went there.
Future Temporal Integrity Commission employee Otra D’Angelo experiences a small milestone in her young life. Takes place in 3069.
However, her parents are getting a bit impatient. But she doesn’t care. And so little Otra D’Angelo will not become toilet trained for love or money or any amount of coaxing.
So her father, Marco, is driven to broken English, mixed with Italian. And her mother, Chefra, wants to go back to work and is tired of this nonsense already.
But, like countless little children before her, Otra knows that she’s in control. So she takes full advantage of that. While Marco tears his hair out in frustration, and Chefra tries to sweet talk her, Otra has her own ideas.
Star Trek is rather famous for not showing family life. But this is not only a mixed-species family, it is also a family where four separate languages are spoken! However, I think it’s a fairly decent introduction to Otra, the woman with an odd gift for seeing alternate timelines.
Criminals and prisoners matter. They creep into all of my series, except for Mixing It Up (and D’Storlin is possibly telling his story from custody, anyway). Their fates have varied rather dramatically.
In the Eriecho series, as is explained in Release, she is born on a prison transport as Saddik and her parents (who are both killed on that transport) are framed for crimes they did not commit. In Double Helix, H’Shema’s mother, L’Culturra, reveals that her daughter was a drug addict and likely was in Canamar Prison for good reason.
Of the villains in The Times of the HG Wells series, only Anthony Parker is at all decent, and that’s only in an alternate timeline, when he has a chance to help Otra get out of Milton Walker’s prison. As for Marisol, she’s a psychopath, eager to kill whoever she can.
Arnis and Rechal
In Take Back the Night, Arnis blames Mistra for the death of the elder Inta. Rechal, a physician, takes a bribe and helps him frame her in exchange for research funding. In Flight of the Bluebird, because Rechal’s ideas have assisted Trinning and the other researchers find a cure for thylacine paramyxovirus, he is allowed out of jail and is released into Trinning’s observational custody. Arnis (who I wasn’t sure whether I wanted him to be alive or not) complains to his second son, Trinning, and is told that it’s a good thing he’s staying in prison as Daranaea is changing and he won’t fit in anymore.
Planted with Etrotherium against her will while on Keto-Enol, Mack is framed for the drug problem on that planet.
Without villains and criminals, stories have few drivers and little to recommend them. Prisons provide great fodder for storytelling and drama. I know that I will go back to these themes again.
First of all, continuing the story of Rick Daniels and the Temporal Integrity Commission‘s fight against the Perfectionists, I wanted to cover 1980s music in particular. I had to hunt around for a good historical event to ‘correct’. Furthermore, when I found the assassination of Anwar Sadat, I decided that his restoration would cause an oil price shock that would ripple through time.
Furthermore, I lived through the 1973 oil shocks and so the idea of something like that really ripping the fabric of time proved irresistible.
First of all, as the Perfectionists make sure that Sadat lives, Otra‘s visions show a global economy in ruins.
Also, oddly, Alice Trent ends up hired as a byproduct of this major change.
Further, Branch Borodin arrives in our universe as Josie, inexplicably, is also restored, just as Kevin O’Connor finally begins to emotionally heal and take his relationship with Yilta to the next level. And so Kevin is torn, and has to say goodbye to Josie all over again. His exacerbated heartbreak serves as another bit of collateral damage that arises from the Perfectionist faction mucking around in time indiscriminately.
Finally, I think my favorite part of this story comes during the moment where Kevin goes to sleep with one woman, and wakes up next to the other. That moment, I feel, becomes the big payoff for writing that series.
Where is it that the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain? Why, it’s Oklahoma, of course. Yet if stories about terrorism trigger you, you might want to back out now.
To continue Richard Daniels and the Temporal Integrity Commission’s investigations in time, I decided the Perfections would prevent a truly horrific act, and then the commission would have to, sadly, put it back.
9/11 was (and still is) too close in time, and felt wrong. But this event isn’t too much better, and I can understand if a reader finds it a distasteful topic for Star Trek fanfiction, still.
For anyone who does not know the musical, the title of the piece refers to Oklahoma! And so the story line can only be about one thing.
A lot of writers, when tackling a subject like this, focus on the Kennedy assassination. But I wanted something more contemporary. And this particular terrorist act is even worse, given the high number of lost innocents.
This is the last of the stories in the Complications subsection of the HG Wells timeline (the first part is Repairs; the last part is Unravelings).
As Rick recovers from meeting Milena (and falling for her), the Perfectionists, an opposing faction, pull off their most audacious act so far. But preventing the Oklahoma City bombing means that a number of people will live who aren’t supposed to. And this includes several preschoolers. Hence the timeline becomes horribly damaged.
At the same time, in an effort to distract musician time traveler HD Avery, the Perfectionists avert a 1977 plane crash that killed half of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd.
And as a third piece of the temporal shenanigans puzzle, the Perfections prevent the 1983 assassination of Benigno Aquino.
So as a result of these changes, the NX-01‘s pilot is not Travis Mayweather; it’s Shelby Pike. She works as the ship’s Botanist in the Prime Timeline. In this alternate, she and Tripp Tucker have a relationship, and Otra D’Angelo sees Pike pregnant with Tucker’s child.
Yet another temporal alteration concerns Wesley Crusher‘s death from a plague. So this causes the destruction of the Enterprise-D by a Borg cube because Jean-Luc Picard cannot stop playing a game and Robin Lefler cannot save the crew by herself.
Hence due to the ever-present Borg threat, the Federation obtains rather expensive help from Dawitan, Otra’s home world. The Federation pays tribute every year. However, the masses are kept appeased with generous daily rations of fortified wine.
But protesters, including Anthony Parker, break into the USS Saint Eligius in order to destroy the wine casks (they’re behaving a lot like real-life temperance advocate Carrie Nation).
However, in the largest of the crates they smash open, they find an emaciated Otra. She has been kept imprisoned by the Perfectionists. Upon the eventual restoration of the timeline, Otra ends up back prison but retains a phaser that Anthony has given her.
I liked putting this one together, as it ended up quite a puzzle. Daniel Beauchaine‘s actions have to be accounted for. In addition, I had to research and write dialogue for Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. As a piece of the Complications subsection of these stories, the book lives up to the idea of being complicated all right. But it sometimes seems overly so.
Hence numerous strands, from the three temporal alterations, to all of the consequences, need correction. But it ends up a lot for a reader to follow, and I admit I probably rushed through this one too much.
Like most adults of my generation, I have gone out to work.
I’ve had good jobs and bad ones, interesting ones and dull ones. I’ve been challenged, I’ve been browbeaten and I’ve been inspired. I’ve come home exhilarated, weepy, frustrated and exhausted. I’ve had situations that I wished would never end. And I’ve had jobs where I was climbing the walls, impatient to leave already.
These experiences can and do inform my Star Trek fanfiction at times.
Connections to Trek
The best and closest connection is in the HG Wells series. Those stories, in addition to being about Richard Daniels and his enlightenment, and about various romances and of course about time, they are also, very much, about the world of work.
A Long, Long Time Ago contains within it a group interview and then a series of small one on one meetings. Otra conducts at least one of these meetings, and is satisfied with the candidate, until someone else hears her being referred to, by that candidate, as a salad head. That’s a slur, so that candidate is out, and there is no question.
You Mixed-Up Siciliano, meant to be a vacation in time (it’s 1960 Rome) turns into a disaster when Rick and Sheilagh are targeted by an assassin.
We like to think that Starfleet personnel are just brought in, and that the best people are always hired and there is very little effort behind that. To my mind, that never rang true. I think there was effort behind it. And I also think that, sometimes, it’s not the best person who gets hired. Just like real life.
A Long, Long Time Ago always had a great expectations quality to it. Since I enjoyed working on and fleshing out Richard Daniels, one of many canon Star Trek: Enterprise characters who didn’t even have a first name, I decided to give him some depth. I first brought him into my fanfiction in Temper, and I liked him so much that I decided he should really have his own series. Hence I named that series Times of the HG Wells, after his new time ship.
Origins and Originality
And at the same time, though, I already had a time travel series in draft form. However, that set of stories actually revolved around a few disparate pieces.
Yet the thrust of it was that time travel had just started, and it was messy and it had, perhaps, destroyed the universe (it was all original although I admit some difficulty in staying away from technology and other items a little too close to Trek to be coincidental). All except for a small isolated place that was outside of time. In that set of stories, time travelers were grabbed from history itself, depending on not only their skill sets but also whether they could be plucked from wherever they were without destroying the timeline (the idea of plucking people out of thin air and just dropping them somewhere shows up in The Puzzle). These stories all had interwoven lyrics from songs about time (the first one was the Rolling Stones‘ Time is on My Side).
Mining the Older Stories
The older set of stories contained some characters who end up in the HG Wells series. And the time travelers include hipster HD Avery (originally grabbed from 1966), and Sheilagh Bernstein (initially plucked from the present time; when I was writing those older stories, that was the late 1990s). I also included Marisol Castillo (she came from Moorish Spain and did not have a surname, so I added Castillo as she was from Castile) and Gregory Shaw (only mentioned briefly in the HG Wells series; he came from the 1840s).
Furthermore, I added Thomas Grant (originally a Confederate soldier from the Battle of Shiloh) and Polly Porter (originally from our future). And finally, I added Alice Trent (only a few small mentions in the HG Wells series; from the 1700s) and Daniel Beauchaine (a soldier in the French and Indian War).
Background people also came from the older series, including Kevin O’Connor (the Chief Engineer; in the original set of stories he was not part-alien but he did have a deceased wife, Josie, just as that character does in the HG Wells series) and Otra (the alien who could see temporal alternatives). I also added Crystal Sherwood (the Quartermaster was originally a historian) and Levi Cavendish (in the older set of stories, he was the project lead and dating Otra. In the HG Wells series, he became a brilliant but difficult engineer with ADHD and a bunch of other neurological issues).
Milena Chelenska was always a doctor; in the first series, she was also a time traveler. In the HG Wells series, she’s Richard’s love interest. However, in both instances, she’s a concentration camp survivor, from the year 1968. Helen Walker also existed, but she was Tom’s ex; it wasn’t until the HG Wells series that she became something else.
In addition, some people from that older series never made it to the HG Wells series but who ended up elsewhere in my fan fiction – Lakeisha Warren (she was a person who worked on plucking people from history; she actually shows up in the Wesley Crusher story, Imprecision as his love interest). Plus Leonora Digiorno (first called Leonora with no last name, originally a plague survivor plucked from the Dark Ages and given the surname of Wilson to honor her late Uncle William).
Furthermore, I had ideas for various stories which then became books or parts of books. The concept of a failed Italian vacation in 1960, and the shooting at Kent State in 1970, already existed in draft form. And the mission to ensure Prague Spring’s end in 1968 also existed, as did a very, very rough idea of a mission to ensure the destruction of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.
Because so much of the bones of the series already existed, I could easily chart out the main story arcs for the series. However, I had to get it going, and I already had this story in draft form, tentatively titling it The Day the Music Lived.
And so A Long, Long Time Ago was born.
The story opens with Richard and his girlfriend, Tina April (who he meets in Temper). Things are starting to go sour and the bloom is off the rose. Rick is too secretive, and Tina wants him to get closer to her. But he just can’t tell her too much. Making matters worse for her is the fact that he is so inured to pain that he is virtually incapable of loving her or anyone else. And he likes it that way.
He gets a call to head to the Temporal Integrity Commission, which is conducting group interviews for some new positions. Rick is not a part of the interviewing. Rather, he gets the call because there’s been a hiccup in time, and he must go fix it. And, as the job candidates are sent home, one of their shuttles crashes, and there’s a fatality. And we’re off to the races.
Real people exist within in the story. Of course, the three doomed musicians loom large. I wrote all of the dialog, plus JP the horndog represents my own interpretation. The other real people include Waylon Jennings, who played guitar on the tour, and Bob Hale, a local disc jockey who reportedly drove the three musicians to the small airfield in Clear Lake. Of course there’s no evidence of anyone going along on the ride – that part’s all me. Everyone comes across pretty well, except for JP being a bit of a lecher.
In order to start the series off with a bang, I needed to set the scene. The idea of using music is not a new one (I did it with Crackerjack, for starters). And the music evoked not only the time and place but also a lot about the people involved. The first mission is about music; it’s to February third of 1959, known as the day the music died. E. g. it’s the date that the plane carrying the Big Bopper (JP Richardson), Ritchie Valens (Ricky Ricardo Valenzuela) and Buddy Holly (Charles Holley) crashed in a field in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Don McLean’s American Pie – the song not only fits the scenario perfectly, it also helps to kick off the series. From its first words (which are the title of this story and also evoke the significant differential in time between the event and Richard’s life in the deep future) to its lyrics about the sixties and its turmoil, there was no other way to start this series.
Frankie Ford’s Sea Cruise – I liked the song not only for the time period but also because it would be a very real concern for artists. The song (for real) was originally a recording by Huey “Piano” Smith.
However, Ford dubbed it over, as he had a more energetic vocal. Plus he was white. Valens learns, during the story, to be sure to get credit and to watch the moneymen, to assure that he doesn’t lose his rights.
The Music of the Dead
Ritchie Valens’ Donna – Whenever I spin out these stories, I also place a link to an era-appropriate song. And all three of the performers have multiple songs listed (e. g. Holly’s Rave On! and the Bopper’s Big Bopper’s Wedding also made the cut), but only Valens has his lyrics interwoven with the story line.
Patsy Cline’s Walkin’ After Midnight – This song is not only date-appropriate but it can also impart a country air. Furthermore, it is the kind of music that Waylon Jennings might want to play and sing along with. Cline was better known for Crazy, but I love this one. Plus it’s got a good guitar accompaniment.
Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife – This song a little less poppy and a little more mature-sounding. Mack the Knife seems a pretty odd song anyway, and it speaks of death – the same pall that hangs over the story.
Furthermore, the tastes of the time varied. So you could conceivably hear all of these songs (except for McLean’s) played on AM Radio during the same hour.
The Skyliners’ Since I Don’t Have You – for the ending, I wanted a bittersweet love song. This would represent the kind of song that people play when they’re lonely.
So for a series opener in particular, I think the story works well. And I like how it kicks things off. Because this series differs from In Between Days, not everything can be mined for more stories like that one. Still, the beginning feels auspicious to me.
Oh, the press! I suppose I have a bit of a love-hate set of feelings for them. However, they are, of course, necessary in a democracy. Yet they can be awfully intrusive. I well recall reading about Princess Diana’s death, from a car crash after a chase (and horribly hounding) by paparazzi.
So I’m kind of ambivalent when it comes to the Fourth Estate.
In Soldiers’ Marriage Project, and in Flight of the Bluebird, Rona is gossipy. It’s her job; she’s a gossip columnist. She is also over the top. However, she’s sensitive to people, and doesn’t take advantage of her sources and connections, and doesn’t belittle anyone except for her third ex-husband, Maurizio D’Angelo. And she even apologizes to him at the end of Flight of the Bluebird.
He is a Daranaean reporter, seen in Take Back the Night. Keeping with that species’ sexist ways, he mainly asks the crew of the NX-01 about their marital statuses and whether they have children. He gets a bit of a shock to learn that Erika Hernandez is a captain. He’s also shocked that Jonathan has never married, Malcolm is a father but isn’t married to Lili, and Phlox has three wives who each have three husbands. Lucy is another bit of a shock for him, that she is unmarried, has a daughter and she’s the one working, whereas her ex is the one at home taking care of their daughter.
Craethe reports on Mistra’s trial, back to an unnamed anchorman in the studio. There is also a nameless field reporter who reports on the protests that go on outside the trial. He even meets the Alpha’s Prime Wife, Dratha, and comments on her smell (e. g. her beauty) rather than her intelligence.
In Reflections Down a Corridor, she is seen reporting on the news from 2037, including a sideline interview with one Corporal Phillip Green.
No doubt there will be more reporters and newscasters in my Star Trek fan fiction’s future, as the news, and the free reporting thereof, are an essential (yet sometimes abrasive) element in any democracy.
I take names seriously, and, truth be told, that’s actually Star Trek canon. A lot of the named characters, particularly the ones who do not have English-style names, have meaningful appellations.
Take Hoshi Sato, for example. The first name means “star”. The surname means “at home”. Hence, she is “at home in the stars”.
A similar situation exists with Nyota Uhura. Nyota means “star” and Uhura means “freedom”. Are communications officers required to be named Star?
Canon to Fanfiction
For my characters, names have meanings that draw from heritage, repeat in order to show familial relationships, and have meanings unto themselves.
In Between Days
Doug Beckett is so named because Douglas means “dark stranger”, which is exactly what he is – a stranger from the Mirror Universe, first experienced in pitch darkness.
Lili O’Day‘s full name – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day – evokes several themes. Her first name means “free woman” and her middle name is of course a flower (and Malcolm refers to her, in the prime timeline, as Lili-Flower). Her surname sets up the contrast to Doug, for she is quite literally “of the day”.
Because the name Malcolm means “a devotee of Saint Columba“, and that is the patron saint of poets and bookbinders, I make Malcolm a gifted poet. The reed (which of course is the lower, non-flowering part of a plant), is evoked as he and Lili, in Together, talk about the flower and the reed, and she assures him that the flower is pretty and all, but the flower can’t live without the reed.
For Melissa Madden, in part it’s a shout-out to future canon character Martin Madden.
Melissa means “honey bee” and she is a rather earthy individual. As for Leonora Digiorno, Leonora means “light” (Malcolm incorrectly refers to her as the Lioness) and Digiorno is the same as O’Day, “of the day”. Her relationships are purely in the day, hence she is solely a daylight character.
Times of the HG Wells
The Wells characters were less name-driven but there are some highlights. Sheilagh and Darragh are both Irish-type spellings, meant to impart a somewhat exotic flavor. HD Avery is really Henry Desmond, with the middle name being a shout-out to Dominic Keating‘s first real role, in a British sitcom called Desmond’s. Carmen means “garden”, an offhanded joke as the character is a sophisticated urbanite. The characters Tom and Kevin hearken back to the In Between Days series and are meant to show a relationship to that earlier series.
Otra, the half-Witannen character, has a name meaning a small animal, like a mouse. I also used Glyph as the name of a Ferengi, as short nouns are canon for Ferengi names (e. g. Quark and Nog). Von is another Ferengi name, but I grabbed that one from baseball – Von Hayes (yet another shout-out to Steven Culp).
For this series, character names have to evoke a time period properly. Rosemary Parker’s name fits in with her birth in the 1920s, whereas Jacob, Benjamin and Dorcas all evoke the 1700s. Jim, the son of Benjamin and Dorcas, is a shout-out to Mark Twain’s Jim character in Huckleberry Finn.
Emergence and Mixing it Up
For both of these series, since there are several aliens, names had to be made up. Skrol is meant to sound a bit like Slar, the only known named Gorn. Etrina, Tr’Dorna and Sophra are all made-up names, meant to sound feminine. Bron is intended to evoke a feeling of brawn.
For Daranaeans, female names end with vowels whereas as male names often (but not always) end with an -s. Prime Wife females, being considered superior, are given names with a soft th- sound in them, such as Thessa, Dratha and Kathalia. This is the th- sound in thistle, rather than in the. The sound, anywhere in the word, is meant to mean “smell”, with a positive connotation. Secondaries get somewhat pretty names, often with m- sounds, like Morza and Mistra, but sometimes not, like Cria and Inta (in all fairness, the younger Inta, a secondary, is named after a last caste female). Third caste females tend to get shorter names, like Darri and Fyra and Cama. The men’s names are all over the place, from Elemus and Arnis to Craethe and Trinning.
Calafans love names and meanings so much that it’s a standard greeting to a new person – “what is your name, and what does it mean?” The first time Lili hears this, in Local Flavor, she is a bit appalled as it is a part of a come-on.
Men often get the -wev ending, which means “master of”, whereas women often get the yi- prefix, meaning “student of”. But the differences are not intended to be sexist. With no middle names and no last names, a lot hinges on a name, and they cannot be repeated. Therefore, names are given out by the government, and parents often petition for a name for their baby while the child is still in utero. Names are then released upon death. Names without either prefix include Treve (messenger) and Miva (clay).
For me, the naming of characters is a deeply person act. Alien names are a great deal of fun to come up with, as I put together sounds I like or that seem to harmonize, and then attach meanings to them. Sometimes a character doesn’t really “click” until he or she has been named. Then, suddenly, it can all fall into place.