Tag Archives: Trials and Tribble-ations

Portrait of a Character – Branch Borodin

Portrait of a Character – Branch Borodin

Branch Borodin is such a wacky character, he’s also in some wholly original writing.

Origins

Coral Reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife ...
Coral Reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife …

I conducted a thought experiment, thinking about what it would be like if someone’s cells were sentient. Hence they would almost be a pocket-size version of the Borg, but without the cybernetics and without the nasty assimilation issues.

Instead, they would be more of a colony of like-minded microscopic individuals. Unlike canon shape shifters, they would have no real central consciousness, and would have to find some way to agree on whatever it was that they wanted to do. Hence they would also be overly committed to democracy.

The character is quite a bit like a walking, talking coral reef, except the individuals in the colony are a lot smarter. Polls and straw votes are common, and the individuals sometimes hold caucuses. Furthermore, just like in real-life voting, there is no guarantee of 100% participation. In fact, it’s rare. After all, the cells have other jobs to do. Much like in you or me, the cells are also conducting respiration, etc. They don’t always have the time to just drop everything and vote.

Portrayal

Branch is played by actor Keanu Reeves.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Colony Alien Branch Borodin in Human Form - Keanu Reeves as Branch Borodin (manip is by STPMA's An-Gel Sakura) Image is for educational purposes
Colony Alien Branch Borodin in Human Form – Keanu Reeves as Branch Borodin (manip is by STPMA’s An-Gel Sakura) Image is for educational purposes

I love how this actor can seem at sea at sometimes, and thoughtful at others.

Yes, there is a bit of a stoner look and feel, and a wooden air. But that’s the idea; Branch isn’t exactly Mr. Personality. I mean for him to be very, very alien. Excuse me, they.

Found by the Temporal Integrity Commission during a meeting, the entity touches Deirdre Katzman, and picks up her memory of her first boyfriend, Anatoly Borodin. Since the entity needs a name, and it had just been a branched tree, Deirdre dubs the colony Branch Borodin. The name sticks, and it also evokes Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances (“A Stranger in Paradise”). A fitting reference for someone who is more of a stranger than other aliens.

Personality

Confused Keanu Reeves
Confused Keanu Reeves (Photo credits: Giphy)

Hence Branch’s personality is whatever is convenient and reasonable at the time, more or less. For an entity that has been a tree, a coat of paint, and a chair, that would more or less tend to follow.

Branch just is. Er, are.

Relationships

The colony is not exactly capable of a relationship like you or I would have. Because every decision, every argument, every expression of affection – these would all require a vote. But Branch might relate to the Var-gi-yeh, who I envision to be more or less a female version of the same species.

Theme Music

Branch reminds me of jazzy, funky, weird rhythms and things that sound off and strange.

Mirror Universe

In a way, the Var-gi-yeh are the mirror version of Branch. They’ll get their own blog post, some time in the future.

Quote

“The cuff of Lo passed to the descendants of Thomas Grant and Eleanor Daniels Grant. The family eventually donated it here. The key charm and Xindi initiation medal passed to the children of Richard Daniels and Milena Chelenska Daniels.The museum has facsimiles as that family is retaining those pieces. This sword is Ironblaze, once owned by the Empress Hoshi Sato. It passed to her descendants, and the descendants of Charles Tucker VI, and was kept in trust by the adopted descendants of mirror High Priestess Yimar and her consort, Joshua Rosen. The original is in the mirror’s version of this museum – what is being shown to you is a facsimile.

The wedding rings worn by Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett and his wife, Lili, passed to, eventually, the descendants of Henry Desmond Avery IV and Sheilagh Bernstein, who retain them. The wedding rings worn by Lili O’Day Reed and Malcolm Reed passed to their descendants, who are with us today – the Ishikawa family of Dawitan. That family also retains the rings although we do have facsimiles. As Deirdre Katzman Ishikawa had said, ‘Wedding rings are to be worn.’”

Upshot

Branch is my oddest character creation. I really like them.

Portrait of a Character – Deirdre Katzman

Portrait of a Character – Deirdre Katzman

Deirdre Katzman comes from older wholly original fiction.

Origins

While writing the HG Wells Star Trek fanfiction stories, I decided I wanted someone who was more or less together, but would be rather young. Furthermore, this person would be a protegé to Kevin O’Connor and would have a mischievous sense of humor. Hence they’d be responsible for naming the time ships. I also loved the idea of a Jewish-Japanese character, and so Deirdre was born.

Portrayal

Deirdre is played by actress Noriko Nakagoshi.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Deirdre Katzman
Deirdre Katzman

I like this lovely, petite woman. The actress has actually been in horror pictures. I don’t know too much about her.

Personality

Friendly, albeit a little quirky, Deirdre is probably the most well-adjusted of the engineers at the Temporal Integrity Commission. Kevin is in mourning when the series starts. As for Levi, well, he’s just plain weird.

Because she’s pleasant, Kevin leans on her more than he leans on Levi, but Levi is too oblivious to notice most of the time.

Relationships

Bruce Ishikawa

During A Long, Long Time Ago, Deirdre is set up by family members and goes out on a more or less blind date with a fellow Jewish-Japanese person, Bruce, who is a dog trainer. They hit it off and begin dating in earnest immediately, and by Ohio, he is referred to as her boyfriend.

It is the epitome of a sweet, youthful romance. They talk baby talk to each other on their communicators, often saying things like, “No, you hang up first.” She cooks for him. They are inseparable. Their parents push for a wedding.

When, in The Point is Probably Moot, the time change ensures that she’s forgotten him, he sticks it out, and attempts to woo and win her again.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Deirdre Katzman
Mirror Deirdre (Noriko Nakagoshi)

I haven’t written a mirror Deirdre, but there’s no reason why she wouldn’t exist.

In the Mirror, most of the women are poorly treated, and trade their bodies for favors and privileges. Deirdre would not be any different.

Yet I can see her as being tougher and harder, and possibly using her smarts to further her own agenda. Maybe she’s a revolutionary.

Quote

“You don’t need to protect her. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have an ungrateful child. That’s from King Lear if you’re unsure. She doesn’t deserve you taking the fall for her.”

Upshot

Dee is a character who doesn’t really get her due. I really should find a way for her to shine.

Recurrent Themes – Intentional Time Travelers

Recurrent Themes – Intentional Time Travelers

Intentional time travelers inform a lot of my fan fiction.

Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Intentional Time Travelers

Of course, time travel is canon in Star Trek. And by the time of Daniels, it’s not only semi-routine, it’s even got a department devoted to it. This is first called the Department of Temporal Investigations, but it settles into, eventually, the Temporal Integrity Commission, which is what I call it for my 31st and 32nd century characters.

With the Times of the HG Wells series of eight stories, plus a few extras thrown in, I’ve got thousands of words written about time travel, both voluntary and involuntary.

But this post will just be about people who travel in time because they want to, and they mean to, rather than are pulled there unwittingly, or against their will.

Appearances

While there are other time travelers in this series of stories, these are the main ones seen.

HD (Henry Desmond) Avery

A music and arts specialist is particularly helpful during various side missions that have to do with music, but he’s being separated from the other time travelers in order to keep him from talking about what he’s seen during A Long, Long Time Ago.

Daniel Beauchaine

The turncoat traveler is a survivalist and is most helpful during the events depicted in Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain.

Sheilagh Bernstein

The computers specialist works best during Shake Your Body. Her romance is shown in Happy Stuff 3111.

Branch Borodin

This colony being from the Triangulum Galaxy is mainly seen during He Stays a Stranger.

Carmen Calavicci

The admiral is in charge of the human unit and works hard to protect her own. During First Born, she goes to bat for Daniels so that his temporally paradoxical son, Jun Daniels Sato, can live.

Marisol Castillo

This psychopath traveler shows her true colors during You Mixed-Up Siciliano.

Levi Cavendish

Levi, a junior engineer, is the inventor of the older time travel technology. Also, he has multiple issues with ADHD and higher functioning autism.

Milena Chelenska

This refugee from 1969 is first seen in Spring Thaw.

Otra D’Angelo

Most noteworthy, this half-Witannen agent can see temporal alternatives. Her childhood is briefly shown in Desperation.

Richard Daniels

The only canon character in the group, this melancholy agent beds women in time. He does this in order to assuage his grief, tamp down his guilt and mask his loneliness. In November 13th, he meets Lucretia Crossman. Then in Marvels, he meets Irene of Castile. In Souvenirs, he remembers them, and others, and Milena Chelenska.

Also, in Temper, and in Fortune, it’s established that he is at least a descendant of Lili and Malcolm, but he’s apparently also at least a descendant of Chip and Deb, as his mother’s maiden name is Masterson.

Thomas Grant

This weapons and combat specialist romances Eleanor Daniels.

Deirdre Katzman

This junior engineer names all of the time ships after old time travel fiction.

Kevin O’Connor

During Ohio, this Chief Engineer leads a training mission to the start of World War III. He courts his wife during The Honky Tonk Angel, and cares for her when she is deathly ill, in Candy.

Anthony Parker

This henchman for the enemy is killed at the end of Ohio.

Polly Porter

During The Point is Probably Moot, this psychology specialist is hit on by Saddam Hussein.

Crystal Sherwood

The Quartermaster rarely travels – although I always seem to bring Crystal along for round robin stories.

Alice Trent

This manners and protocols specialist is only hired during an alternate timeline in The Point is Probably Moot.

Helen Walker

This enemy agent’s death is faked during A Long, Long Time Ago.

Boris Yarin

The department’s doctor rarely travels, mainly because he’s a hybrid of human, Klingon and Xindi sloth. Boris is also having an affair with Marisol.

Yilta

This engineer for the Calafan unit is romanced by Kevin O’Connor after his wife’s death.

Upshot

Time travel, to my mind, can sometimes require rather specialized knowledge, beyond even engineering and the use of weapons. A balanced, diverse and admittedly quirky team has done the job here, and they have done it with flair. Intentional time travelers will be back.

Spotlight on an Original Technology – Pulse Shot

Spotlight on an Original Technology – Pulse Shot

Theory

In order to make some of my Star Trek fanfiction work, I needed a means of stepping from our universe to the Mirror, and vice versa. In Reversal, this is accomplished via shared dreaming, and a crossover is performed by the Calafans by using power from the NX-01, the ISS Defiant, the amplifier dishes on Point Abic, Calafan group meditation and the sodium vapor flares emanating between the two smallest stars in the Lafa System, Fep and Ub. All of this, acting together, brings Doug from there to here, over the course of several hours. The Mirror High Priestess, Yimar (a teenaged girl) decides to leave the doors open in perpetuity. This has the effect of allowing Calafans to pass back and forth between both universes although other species still cannot.

However, the sodium vapor flares in particular were meant to be somewhat uncommon occurrences. Plus I wanted a technological solution.

Having read about dark matter, the truth is that it’s exotic and there’s an awful lot of it. It is ripe for fan fiction treatment, as it’s abundant and mysterious. Hence I decided that it would be used for the purposes of heading from here to the other side of the pond, or back again.

Practice

In Temper, the Empress Hoshi Sato has her Science Ensign Lucy Stone, with the help of Vulcan slaves T’Pau and Kefris, devise a means of moving from one universe to the other. In canon, she (Hoshi) is well aware that the Defiant is from another universe. It is an advanced design, with superior firepower, defenses and accommodations. It makes sense that she would be looking for a spare or two or two hundred. And, as a person who wants to be known as a conqueror, she may have realized that it could very well be easier to subjugate our universe, as opposed to going out to hidden corners of the Mirror.

Therefore, in Temper, in 2161 the Defiant‘s main phaser is calibrated to twenty-one centimeters and is initially just fired into seemingly empty space. Because this works, Richard Daniels is summoned to the Temporal Integrity Commission, as he and Eleanor notice the time change immediately (an ornate sword she was lecturing about, Ironblaze, vanishes). This causes the first alternate timeline, and time becomes incoherent.

Spotlight on an Original Technology – Pulse Shot
The Defiant

Due to temporal incoherence, a few years later, in 2166, a second passageway is opened up with another pulse shot, but this time it’s fired near the amplifier dishes. This shot opens things up more widely and it’s not just Calafans who can pass back and forth. Now humans and all other species can as well. At this stage, four people pass from our universe to the Mirror. This act changes history enough, and that triggers Daniels sensing the change but not the specifics.

Then a third instance occurs in 2178, but it’s not a new shot at all. Rather, it’s vestiges of incoherent time. It’s from this time period that the first repairs to the timeline need to be accomplished. This instance is well-known to Richard as it coincides with a major, independently verified historical event in that alternate timeline. After 2178 is repaired, 2166 is fixed and, once that is all done, Richard himself repairs 2161.

Aftereffects

Beyond the temporal incoherence, the other effect happens later. Some of the pulse shot is, simply, “lost”. But energy can be neither created nor can it be destroyed, according to the Law of Conservation of Energy (Thermodynamics). So where does it go?

The correct question isn’t where it goes. It’s when it goes. And when does it land? 2366, and it hits Wesley and Geordi‘s shuttle, thereby causing the toss back in time in Crackerjack.

Further aftereffects are yet to be written. I might use this plot device again.

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels

Origins

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels
Agent Richard Daniels (Matt Winston)

This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon, but he does not have a given name in canon, or even a first initial. Nothing is known of his inner life or personality. In the series, he’s just a time traveler and does not seem to have emotional reactions to much of what happens, except when his own time period is threatened.

Portrayal

As in canon, Richard is played by actor Matt Winston.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Richard Daniels
Richard Daniels (Matt Winston)

Smarter than anyone else in the room, Rick is a natural for time travel. But he’s also a bit bored, and is jaded by constantly putting things back. This includes allowing people to die who seem to be innocents. In order to comfort himself, and to keep himself occupied, he begins bedding women in time.

All goes along fine until one of the women ends up pregnant. This would not matter so much to history (although it matters to Richard), except that the pregnant woman is the Empress Hoshi Sato.

He has a good relationship with his sister, Eleanor. For a long time, she is the only person he confides in.

Rick’s Conquests

Rick is a womanizer at the start of A Long, Long Time Ago. Here are his known conquests, in the order of the conquests (his perspective in time):

His Time Her Name Her Time
3101 Lucretia Crossman 1699
After 3101 Betty Tyler 1929
After 3101 Phillipa Green March, 2763
After 3101 Empress Hoshi Sato (mirror) January 30, 2156
After 3101 Dana MacKenzie 2380
After 3101 Irene of Castile 1417
May 5, 3104 Carmen Calavicci May 5, 3104
March 27 – August 25, 3109 Tina April March 27, 3109 – August 25, 3109
September 7, 3109 Annette (Windy) Bradley May 3 – 4, 1970
3109 – 3110 Sheilagh Bernstein September, 3109 – March 3110
March 3110 Milena Chelenska July – August, 1968

Relationships

Tina April

Unlike his temporal conquests, Tina is a real-live girlfriend for Richard. They check each other out in A Lesson and then are introduced at the start of Temper. But at the end of A Long, Long Time Ago, he ends it, although he contacts her a few times, during both Ohio and The Point is Probably Moot.

Milena Chelenska

They meet during the events of Spring Thaw. They enjoy each other’s company and are intellectual equals. They’re also both suffering from some melancholy. Hers is more significant than his, as she is a Holocaust survivor. Perhaps in part because he isn’t supposed to have her, Richard finds himself falling for her. It isn’t until He Stays a Stranger that he does anything about it.

Missions

Richard goes on several missions for the Temporal Integrity Commission. He isn’t just fooling around. Here are his only known missions (so far) –

His Time Mission Locale Mission Time
3096 NX-01 2152
After 3096 NX-01 July 10, 2154
Between 3096 & 3101 American Colonies 1757
Between 3096 & 3101 Pompeii AD 79
Between 3096 & 3101 Rome 44 BC
Between 3096 & 3101 Rome 450 BC
3101 Pennsylvania 1699
After 3101 New Jersey/New York 1929
After 3101 Unknown, somewhere on Earth March, 2763
After 3101 ISS Defiant January 30, 2156
After 3101 USS Enterprise-E 2380
3104 Mirror Universe, Dawitan November 3, 2012
March 27, 3109 Lafa II 2161/2166/2178
August, 3109 Clear Lake, Iowa 1959
September 7, 3109 Kent State, Ohio May 3 – 4, 1970
3109 Rome, Pompeii and Naples May, 1960
3109 Prague July – August, 1968
3109 Oklahoma City April, 1995
3109 Egypt October, 1981
3109 Florida January, 1986
3110 Mirror Universe/Earth orbit and Rura Penthe/Prague May 20 – 25, 2192/June 21, 1964/July 19 – 20,1969

Personal Reactions

As is explained in the HG Wells series, a lot of temporal alterations are minor (otric), and don’t affect the overall timeline. In the E2 stories, Richard’s cabin is opened up more than once, as the displaced NX-01 attempts to reach him so that they can be restored to their correct time period. While it’s difficult for him, Rick ends up having to ignore them as the Enterprise, in two separate iterations, is meant to be in the 2030s and beyond.

Theme Music

In Temper, his music is The Records’ Your Starry Eyes. But in the HG Wells stories, his themes are Andrew Gold’s Lonely Boy and then, finally, Secret Agent Man by Johnny Rivers, which was the original inspirational music for the series itself.

Mirror Universe

Rick does not have a Mirror Universe counterpart, and explains the reason for that to Sheilagh Bernstein during Ohio. In First Born, because Rick has fathered a temporally incompatible child, he and his boss, Carmen Calavicci, have to negotiate in order to allow Rick’s son, Jun, to live. One of the conditions of Jun being allowed to survive is that Rick is not permitted to return to the Mirror Universe during the Empress’s lifetime. However, he can go to the Mirror during other time periods and, when he does, in a kind of salute to her, he calls himself Ritchie as she called him that (the nickname is a reference to Ritchie Valens, and A Long, Long Time Ago). An earlier Mirror Universe mission is shown in Pat the Bunny.

Quote

“I’m sorry, but no, though I have never forgotten you, either of you. And I love my, my child, but I know that I have never been a father to you. I wish I had been.”

Upshot

For a guy who doesn’t even have a first name in canon, I think I’ve given him a pretty wild life. Hopefully, readers find him as fascinating as I have.

Portrait of a Character – Crystal Sherwood

Portrait of a Character – Crystal Sherwood

Crystal is the kind of person who is often underestimated in the world. Her education is fairly limited, but she knows more than a lot of people probably think.

First introduced in A Long, Long Time Ago, Crystal is busy cutting Temporal Agent Richard Daniels‘s hair when he asks her if she knows anything about historical fashions and haircuts. Her reply indicates not only knowledge, but interest in the subject matter, so Rick presents her as a candidate for the Quartermaster job opening at the Temporal Integrity Commission.

Look

Crystal Sherwood
Crystal Sherwood

I wanted Crystal to be a bit petite and young, but also very attractive and stylish. I hit upon the idea of Marnette Patterson after seeing her in Charmed.  The look, to me, is a good fit for a woman who is secure in her looks but not necessarily in her training or her intelligence. This is not a slam on the actress; this is just the look that I was seeking.

Tasks

While a computer could, conceivably, put together a look that would be consistent with a particular time period, I wanted for there to still be some room for error. For Crystal, the job is less about matching the obvious to a time period than it is to also match it to a particular effect needed. When Rick goes to a 1970 college campus in Ohio, she doesn’t just give him sideburns, she also makes sure that he looks young enough to be a graduate student, but old enough to be able to exert a little authority if necessary. She makes Sheilagh Bernstein (who also goes on that trip) look more like a typical coed, as Sheilagh is a trainee.

In Spring Thaw, she outfits Rick in a more old-fashioned style, despite the fact that it’s only a few years before the scenario in Ohio, as Rick is going to a Soviet bloc country.

Other Talents and Ideas

In Spring Thaw, she spends time helping with the decryption. It’s a particularly frustrating task for her, but her confidence is buoyed by Deirdre Katzman encouraging her.

By The Point is Probably Moot, she’s actively looking at alternate timeline scenarios.

In Ohio, she’s also busy fending off the attentions of HD Avery.

By the time of He Stays a Stranger, she goes on her first mission, and has an excellent idea of where the team can meet while planning to restore the main timeline.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Crystal Sherwood

There are no impediments to Crystal existing in the Mirror Universe.

But as I write Star Trek: Enterprise fan fiction, Mirror Universe women are mainly chewed up and spat out. Unfortunately, I see that as her fate on the other side of the pond.

Quote

“After the Second World War ended, people didn’t have a lotta money, so it’s reflected in the fashions. They just didn’t have a lot of details. Look at the fifties – just a decade later – and it’s more youth-oriented, and then fast-forward another decade and it’s even more youth-oriented. There’s suddenly all these patterns.”

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Crystal Sherwood
Crystal

Behind that pretty face, there’s a keen mind and a sensitivity and kindness. Book learning isn’t the only thing valued in the thirty-second century.

Underestimate Crystal at your peril.