Posted in Challenges and Contests, Flash Fiction Pieces, WIPpet Wednesday

WIPpet Wednesday: In the Beginning…

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday –K.L. Schwengel’s weekly blog hop which encourages writers to move their WIPs (works-in-progress) to publication by posting excerpts related to the date.

WIPpet Math:

Today is May 14, 2014.

  • Today’s math…
  • 5+14+7= sentences. (adding the digits of the date: month, day, and year) .

This month, I’m offering up a taste of my Story A Day May Challenge. This month, I’m exploring my fanfiction concept for Star Trek: Enterprise, and the interspecies relationship between T’Pol and Trip, in a project tentatively titled The IDIC Romance.

The snippet I posted last week engendered conversation – and also confusion. Quite a lot of confusion, as a matter of fact. If there hadn’t also been some positive feedback, here and elsewhere, I would be more discouraged.

Instead, I’ve realized that this is a story best told from the beginning. You see, T’Pol is not what most people more familiar with Spock would term “your standard Vulcan”. From the pilot episode of Enterprise, she was – different. Intense. Sensual. And she could kick serious behind, too.

Need a bit of proof?

She also gives as good as she gets, when a certain human Chief Engineer decides to explore her frontiers.

She challenges preconceptions of what a Vulcan is, and Enterprise is set a century before the original series. On the whole, the Vulcans of her time are much more volatile and emotive than those we’ve seen in later incarnations. There are reasons for this; but they aren’t revealed until Season Four.

So, that being said, it might help to let go of T’Pol’s Vulcanness as a definition of who she is. It matters – and it doesn’t. She’s paradoxical; she’s passionate; she’s fallible; and she’s fascinating.

This snippet is an extrapolation from the “jazz club” scenes in the episode “Fusion”. I’ve estimated that this exchange happened about 14 months before the first mission of Enterprise NX-01, the first Warp 5 starship.

And now, please allow me to reintroduce you to T’Pol, who had slipped out on her own (and against protocol) to explore the entertainments on a strange new world known as Earth...

The woman’s heeled boots rang a muffled staccato pattern on the fog-swirled pavement as she moved toward me. The powerfully pungent human odor was layered over with some compound that contained synthetic versions of the chemicals found in plant matter. It lodged in my throat, and I repressed an urge to cough. She carried herself tensely, and kept looking about her, as though she thought there might be danger from any direction, and in any instant.

There was an unspoken warning in her manner. Perhaps, it was foolish for me to be out alone at night, here.

On Vulcan, no one need be concerned about being alone after dark, except upon the Forge, where anyone would do well to remain aware and prepared. But on Earth, male passions were – different, and perhaps far more dangerous; I had received the standard training in avoiding these volatile and sexually rapacious beings. If I remained in the compound, I had been told, I would remain safe.

Any human male who thought I would make easy prey would be quickly disabused of that idea. I had been a member of the elite division of the Security Ministry specifically because of my small stature and proficiency in the martial disciplines of a dozen worlds. However, if I were driven to defend myself, I would certainly be found out, and there would be consequences, perhaps even dismissal.

Therefore, logically, I must avoid such confrontation.

A couple passed by, leaning into one another – passion, or an attempt to keep their precarious balance?Their scents were ripe with alcohol, and their laughter commingled with percussive force, assailing my ears. I though of my small room at the Consulate, my meditation candles, the comfortable, known quiet of life among my own people. There would be no laughter there to confuse me, no risk of becoming the target of uncontrolled male desires.

It had been a foolish choice to go out alone. I would go back –

Music drifted on a salted ocean breeze – strange, wild- like the cry of a le-matya upon the Forge, seeking its lost mate…

I couldn’t resist the call of the music. It filled me as the nectars had, and, changed and changing, I followed, trusting instinct rather than logic. It was liberating to give myself to the sensations, much as I imagined humans did.

I walked for some minutes, the music filling me, until I came to a pair of doors. Light and the stomach twisting smells of cooked animal flesh came from within; I could hear that there were at least a dozen humans inside. I turned, scanned the road in either direction – and then, I slipped through, blinking.

What waits, on the other side of the door? Will T’Pol be discovered? Is she safe here? 

The full version of the story

Story A Day commentary…

These posts are the seeds of a project that will germinate over the next months, so input is especially valuable. No need to feel shy; I’m a friendly sort, and will keep my talons sheathed…for the most part.

Want more WIPpets?

I loved this bit…it’s not so often that Jolene peeks out from behind T’Pol’s face…

 

Author:

I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

19 thoughts on “WIPpet Wednesday: In the Beginning…

  1. I haven’t really read fan fiction before,Shan Jeniah, but I enjoyed this excerpt. You really painted a vivid picture of the scene that T’Pol finds herself in. I liked the way you described her surroundings through the senses, especially smells. I also thought it was good how in her mind she’s comparing her life on Vulcan and life here on Earth and the juxtaposition of the two. Good stuff!

    1. Elaine,

      I’m happy to give you an enjoyable first fan fiction experience. =) The scene I used as the basis of this story was brief, but quite evocative. It’s a flashback, a memory she’s recounting that has remained powerfully with her since. She recounts it with a depth of feeling that makes it clear that there was great personal significance to it.

      Vulcan women have a highly developed olfactory sense. Before she arrives upon Enterprise, she’s issued a nasal numbing agent, but she wouldn’t have had it here, since she was expected to remain within the Vulcan compound. Incidentally, that’s the home I’m referring to in this snippet – she hasn’t lived on Vulcan, over the last years, as much as she’s lived away. Still, though, the contrasts are distinct.

      It’s always cool when it reads well to a non-fan. =)

  2. I’m still not capturing T’Pol here. I think because the level of introspection is SO intense…. It almost decreases the intensity of her actions. Maybe it’s because I have heard you describe these things about T’Pol before, I expect her reactions based on what you’ve told me (and the whys and wherefores).

    I did like how you included the extra levels of normal senses she experiencing though

    1. Sys,

      Since we’ve both been doing WIPpets, I’ve noticed that there are both benefits and barriers to knowing one another’s writing (and minds?lives? natures? histories?) so well.

      It can be helpful, and it can get in the way, too. C’est la vie, je crois….

      In this snippet, and for most of this scene, the action is less significant than the inner journey T’Pol is taking. The scene is based on the bits of “Fusion” that show her walking at night in San Francisco, and inside the club.

      To me, her movements and expressions reveal that there is a great deal going on, beneath the surface. There must be a reason somewhat deeper than, “I wanted to experience human entertainments.” I think, based on “Carbon Creek”, that her first foremother, T’Mir, imbued her with a deep and abiding curiosity about humans, and she suspects, as Mestral did a century before her, that their entertainments are a key to understanding them.

      The Vulcan High Command and Ambassador Soval, however, aren’t interested in understanding humans better. Their objective is to control these impetuous beings, to hobble them until they are more rational, more ready for the things they aspire to. T’Pol is not certain she agrees, but it’s not her place to debate the official position. Instead, she slips out, making it a personal mission to learn more.

      She’s assigned to a diplomatic post-but she’s still the veteran of The Security Ministry, and we can assume she still has the instincts of an elite operative – which is why she notes so much about the people she passes.

      But I do believe that it’s an internal experience, for her, more than an external one. She’s very aware that she’s broken protocol, and what the consequences will be if she’s found out. She’s very aware of the cues of the people around her, and what they may mean.

      In order to crawl inside her skin, I have to sense as she does – which, since I’m guessing she isn’t given the nasal numbing agent until she is officially interacting with humans means that her sense of smell, in particular, will be in play.

      Could be that my interpretation of T’Pol just doesn’t suit, for you – and that’s OK, too. There’s value in that, especially if you are inclined to articulate what isn’t working.

  3. Nice contradictions in the character! I stopped watching the Star Treks a long time ago, so I don’t have the background, but I like the way she talks with herself, especially the need to avoid rapacious males. 🙂

    1. Ruth,

      I’ve seen all of three series: the original, Next Generation, and now Enterprise. I’ve seen most of the movies, and a bit of the other three series.

      Enterprise is a prequel (but, thankfully, they didn’t go back to the campy sets and 60’s sci-fi tech. Since the show aired from 2001-2005, that would have been rather hard to believe!

      It’s a grittier Trek, but it avoids being dark, because it’s also the funniest and sexiest of the incarnations (due in large part to T’Pol and Trip – I don’t want to give anything away I’ll be sharing later, but their relationship goes through a spectrum that is very believable, even when the situations are clearly sci-fi). It’s less a human/Vulcan conflict as a me/you – the things we all have to figure out in order to have a meaningful adult connection.

      And, like I said, it’s funny. If you watch the clip I posted, there’s a place where T’Pol says, “I fail to see your point” – and then caresses Trip’s ear. A lot of the humor is like that..it’s not the overdone type so often seen on sitcoms, the type that bludgeons you. It’s the brilliantly written and executed moment that you could easily miss…that one was so good, my husband (who’s not a writer), doesn’t believe that it was written as a joke – he thinks it’s a happy accident.

      And T’Pol – like Spock, I could get lost in her skin forever. Vulcans fascinate me – at least, the complicated ones do. Those contradictions keep on coming, too. Especially in the third season, where her fallibility becomes impossible to miss as she veers very close to self-destruction…

      As for those rapacious human males – let’s just say that the Vulcans of her day have heard some rather – inaccurate things about humans. Humans have heard some equally inaccurate things about Vulcans….it makes for interesting situations when the two species collide.

      Fortunately, T’Pol knows how to take care of herself…even klingons don’t phase this little lady, who is played by an actress who’s into Thai boxing… =)

        1. Ruth,

          My super-secret subversive mission (shhhh!) is to get lots of people wanting to see Enterprise, so that they will make some MORE!

          You can find some (not necessarily all), at startrek.com. and at cbs.com.

          Here’s the series pilot:

          http://www.startrek.com/watch_episode/44G1ttb166Cc

          I don’t know if you have access to Amazon Prime there, or Netflix (no, right?), but both have the entire series, as well.

          Until they make more, I’ll just have to write it myself! =D

    1. Alana,

      I have no idea why I didn’t answer this comment sonner, but I just found it wandering around in my comment buffer! Oops!

      I’m glad you liked the imagee, because I was very much trying for a feel of her being drawn to both worlds- and, at the same time, threatened by both of them, too…

  4. So many internal contradictions in one character! It’s very interesting. I’m reading a lot more thought into the scene, but it’s almost like her logic works against her at the end there, where she follows the music into a place stinking with smells she abhors.

    1. ReGi,

      Oh, yes! She’s a complicated and conflicted character, to be sure. Such depths to delve…

      I’m not sure logic has much of anything to do with her decision to follow the music. In the episode from which I drew this scene (“Fusion”), she recounts the memory by saying that she was compelled to follow the chaotic music, and the Vulcan man she’s speaking with, once he’s shared the memory, says there’s nothing anything like it on Vulcan.

      She’s an explorer, at a time when her own people aren’t given to exploring. She’s intrigued by humans when her government thinks humans need to be controlled, held back, and that Vulcans are best off limiting their exposure to these people…

      I’m not sure she abhors the scent of meat. I think it’s more that, like the smell of humans, or the perfume – unfamiliar, jolting…and, with the overtones of carnivorous behaviors she’s never been so closely exposed to.

      It is maybe worth noting that, by her own account, T’Pol has visited over 30 habitable planets. While she IS young, and new to Earth, she’s no stranger to alien cultures. So it’s likely that she’s encountered other things she finds unsavory, along the way…

  5. I do love T’Pol. And she’s a special entity too. There’s talk of netflix picking enterprise up to give them one last season. It would be nice to see her story finished.

    1. Adrian,

      T’Pol fascinates me. I love her contradictions, and her pioneering spirit. I love her depths, and her sensuality. She’s an awesome character to play with, because there’s so much there….

      I would love a fifth season – but only if they ditch that last episode. I understand the intent…but the dartboard death wasn’t even well-written. The plot holes are a mile wide. I cast no blame; it was a rush thing, and I think Rick Berman and Brannon Braga had the best of intentions, and were maybe stung by the cancellation…

      Since the whole thing was a holodeck simulation, I’m thinking they could find a way to explain that away – or just go back to where the second-to-last, brilliantly done episode ended, and give us those six years that got skipped over…because I’m not okay with those not being there.

      But a fifth season that is well-conceived, that carries on the quality of the previous seasons….oh, yes! I would love that. Deeply, and truly. ❤

  6. Funny, Enterprise was my least preferred of the ST incarnations (DS9 is my favorite). But I may have to give it another try. Are you going to post the whole story when it’s done? I’d love to read it.

    1. Amy,

      One of the wonderful things about Star Trek is its diversity. DS9 never truly caught me. I fell asleep twice during the premier. So, maybe Enterprise will never be your favorite, and it might even always be your least favorite.

      I think, though, that it got off to a stuttering start. It did come to air three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, which was a chaotic and uncertain time for a great many people. It was on UPN, which struggled. It didn’t use Star Trek in its title until the third season. And it had a very different opening than the other series (I love it, now, but it really took me by surprise, at first. I wasn’t sure what to think!).

      I will be posting the stories (in sequential segments), as WIPpets for the next while. I’m not sure yet what direction this project will ultimately take, but I do intend to begin posting to a fan fiction site, sometime during the summer. You can find the full versions of the stories, in their speedily written and typo-laden Story A Day glory, here….

      http://storyaday.org/shanjeniah/

      Happy reading, if you read! =)

  7. Yes, definitely not as Vulcan-like as I think.Of course, I’m not well-versed in them and only have Spock to go on. I only ever paid attention to the early/original Star Trek so that’s my foundation.

    1. Kathy,

      A-ha. Spock, of course, is half-human. It’s said that he tries to be more Vulcan than the rest, because of what he sees as a weakness. For him, being on a shipful of humans was an endless quagmire of opportunities to slip up – and there was McCoy, more than happy to goad him into it (probably because he knew it wasn’t healthy to deny so much of who he was).

      T’Pol, on the other hand, is described by more than one Vulcan (including her mother, at whom she shouts at some length, in Season Four), as having emotions that are “close to the surface.” I think that, for her, the emotional freedom of a human ship, while disorienting and sometimes frustrating, is also hugely liberating. Her shipmates are more willing to take her as she is – the logic, the control, and the emotions – than her own people are (she’s forever running afoul of Vulcan expectations, once she joins Enterprise’s crew.)

      There’s a rumor Adrian told me that, if there had been a fifth season, it would have been revealed that T’Pol is half Romulan. Given her rather tempestuous and passionate nature, that would make tremendous sense, although a little part of me also feels it would be a cop-out.

      Still, as the series goes on, T’Pol does an increasing number of things – some downright disastrous for herself and others – that clearly have no basis in logic.

      Like I said in today’s WIPpet, she’s definitely fallible. Maybe that’s why I love her so much-she’s not on a pedestal; she’s a real woman who, despite her intentions, her intelligence, her strength, and her logic, can make some pretty huge mistakes…

      I can relate. =/

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