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Mary Sue, Billy Bob, And Their Crew

The Third Mate
Ginny — 21 Mar 1997

Well, heck, Craig. I'm almost embarassed to post my idea. But not embarassed enough, apparently.

My Voyager episode, featuring me in a small, but significant role.

It has a working title, but it would give away the plot.

Tom and Harry are doing reconnaissance in a shuttlecraft (the Hat Trick) when they come upon a small ship under attack by a larger vessel. At their approach, the larger ship breaks off the attack and leaves. Sensing failing life signs aboard the small ship, Tom beams over to discover a dead alien male and a badly injured alien female. Tom, having a soft spot (whether in his heart or head, I won't say) for women in distress, beams her back to the shuttle. While he pilots the shuttle back to Voyager, Harry sits with the woman, who keeps repeating an alien (insert gibberish here) phrase and growing more agitated. Finally, she pulls off one of her gloves (Did I mention that she was wearing gloves? I should have--it's important.) and takes one of Harry's hands in her bare hand. She again repeats the alien phrase. Harry, in a typical human response, covers her hand with his other hand and makes soothing small talk. The woman visibly relaxes, then pulls out a small devise from the folds of her clothes and pushes a button. Her ship suddenly explodes, and she loses consciousness.

Meanwhile, back on Voyager, the gel pack controlling the universal translator contracts a bug (wait a minute--where have I heard this before?) and turns into jello salad. Tom and Harry bring the woman onto Voyager and take her to sick bay. With the universal translator performing below standard, the medical staff is only able to communicate in the most basic, concrete terms with the alien woman, whose name is Glinn. (Actually, that's just her social name. Her given name is an eight stanza poem composed by her parents on the ocassion of her birth.) Janeway laments the lack of someone skilled in linguistics, and Tuvok notes that there is a crewmember in Stellar Cartography who is also an accomplished linguist. (Pay attention, people, my part is coming up.) Megan Delaney (Ta-daa!) arrives in sick bay to work with Glinn. At first, Glinn is uncooperative, until Jenny Delaney stops by sick bay to see her sister, and it is discovered that female twins (Ta-daa, again!) have particular significance in Glinn's culture. (Can you see where this is going?) Anyway, while an uninteresting secondary plot involving the infected gel pack is going on, Megan learns that Glinn is from Palasce, a planet with a dominant female culture. The dominance is the product of longevity, not physical superiority. Palasci women live up to three times longer than Palasci men (the result of an unfortunate genetic experiment gone terribly wrong--but that's a story for another episode), so that economic, social, and political power has eventually come to be vested in the women of the society. Glinn and her second life partner (Palaci woman take up to 3 to 4 partners in their lifetimes), who was the dead alien male on the ship, were political activists, opposed to the unequal treatment of males under the Palasci law. (What? A politically correct theme, too?) The ship that fired on them was sent by the government of Palasce to bring them back to stand trial for (nonviolent) subversive activity. (The government ship fired, intending only to disable Glinn's vessel, but accidently hit a vital array).

Now, I've already gone on much too long with this, so let me sum up. The phrase that Glinn used at the beginning was a ceremonial Palasci request for Sanctuary (also my working title) and, according to Palasci custom, the clasping of bare hands acknowledges the request and creates an unbreachable association between the parties. (In formal Palasci society, only intimates and those making vows to one another clasp bare hands--thus the significance of the gloves in preventing unwanted or embarassing incidental contact. This custom is a consequence of that unfortunate genetic incident, but that idea is better pursued in the episode where Glinn decides to take a third life partner.) So, of course, we end up with a staff meeting at which the regular characters discuss the pros and cons of granting Glinn santuary on Voyager. (Well, of course, they let her stay. They let Kes and Neelix stay just because they asked nicely.) The kicker is that Glinn only has to stay with the ship for one year--after eluding capture and prosecution for a non-violent crime for that length of time, she is entitled to amnesty under Palasci law.

So, voila! We now have a new, recurring female character, who, in my scheme of things, will turn out to be a whole lot more alien that Kathryn and Company realize--certainly more so than Kes and Neelix ever were and who will add some internal complication to life on Voyager. (The episode where she decides to take a third life partner should be an absolute hoot, particularly with her new best bud, Megan Delaney, offering insightful commentary). In addition, we finally meet the infamous Delaney Sisters, and they're intelligent, charming, compassionate young women from the American South with my dark eyes and hair.

So, what do you think? Please be kind.

First some background--due to excessive industrial pollution on the planet Palasce, Palasci birth rates declined dramatically and infant mortality rates soared. In addition to attempting to clean up the mess, the Palasci scientific community, in a classic blunder, decided to experiment with genetic improvements in reproductive capability. In attempting to extend the number of years in which women could conceive children, a Palasci scientist cooked up a genetic plague that accomplished not only that, but also, as a side effect, extended the length of the woman's life. The plague, as is wont to happen, got loose in the general population, and, over several generations, a significant disparity in men and women's longevity developed, and the society saw a gradual shift in power away from men, who had previously held the lion's share of the planet's wealth and political power, to women.

Another interesting side effect of the plague involves the chemical substance excreted by a Palasci woman's hands when she is attracted to or partnered with a man. The chemical heightens the sensual impact of any physical contact between the man and woman--which, of course, explains why, outside of their own homes, Palasci women wear gloves at all times. It just avoids a lot of potential misunderstanding.

So, we have an alien woman who, despite her own heightened awareness of the disparity between the sexes in her culture, is accustomed to having women in charge. She therefore has no problem with Kathryn being the captain--she would, in fact, expect it. What she would not expect (because it is not the common experience in her culture) is for a man to pursue her for recreational sex. (Palasci women do not have casual sexual relationships--although they do audition potential partners--and the men don't typically initiate the contact.) So it comes as an incredible shock when Tom engages in an innocent flirtation with her. Her pal, Megan, explains certain basics about human sexual relationships, in general, and sexual relationships with Tom, in particular (this should be good for a couple of yuks), and Glinn is just appalled. She decides that her best defense is a good offense (which is actually a Palasci proverb) and decides to take a third life partner. (Did I mention that the Palasci have no concept for "In Love"? Well, I should have--it's important.) So she sets about the traditional Palasci method of selecting a life partner--she identifies three candidates on the basis of desirability and "taliz", a Palasci word that the universal translator can't translate, but that Megan thinks may be equivalent to either suitability or endurance--or some unusual combination of the two. Glinn selects Tom (hey, it's my story), Chakotay (hmmmm), and Harry --and the gloves come off.

And I'm going to stop here, because I'd like to see who you all think Glinn would choose. I will tell you that, in the Palasci tradition, men have the absolute right to decline the offer of partnership. Of course, for dramatic and comedic purposes, Glinn wouldn't actually reveal that until the last seven minutes of the episode.

All right, I've set it up. Who has the inside track? I, of course, have my own idea--and it might surprise you.

P.S. And in answer to your question, Grifone, no, I'm not a twin, but my father is.

Episode 2 (cont.) Working Title--"Howdy, Pardner"

Glinn informs Megan of her intention to take a third life partner. Megan, contemplating the potential consequences, considers heading Glinn off at the pass, but thinks better of it and simply says, "Go for it, Glinnie." Glinn, uncertain of the literal translation of that phrase, nevertheless correctly interprets it as encouragement and locks phasers on woo. Megan, meanwhile, starts a betting pool in the mess hall.

Glinn's courtship proceeds over a period of weeks. (I know that's not realistic in the Star Trek universe, but work with me, people.). She adapts her approach to each individual. With Tom, she is direct, agressive, and a little rough. (Remind you of anyone?) With Chakotay, she is confident, sophisticated, and good-humored. (Remind you of anyone?) With Harry, she is patient, but gently persistent. (So I made her slightly empathic--it's my story.)

Tom is amused, but also intrigued and flattered by Glinn's attentions. Chakotay, however, is more than a little disconcerted. Harry is completely captivated. Glinn is, after all, older, more experienced, and has a handy chemical aphrodisiac at her fingertips. With Harry's youth a distinctive factor, Glinn begins to show a preference for him, and he takes on even odds in Megan's betting pool.

Suddenly, everyone on the ship has an opinion or advice for Harry. Neelix is excited and offers to cook the couple romantic dinners (the concept of which has to be explained to Glinn, since Palsci don't consider mealtime a potentially erotic experience). Kes is supportive and offers Harry a sympathetic ear. Tuvok tries to lecture Harry on deconstructing his emotional complex, but then thinks better of it. Tom feels slighted and emotionally vulnerable, but B'Elanna doesn't notice, because she's really irritated at him for enjoying Glinn's advances, in the first place. The Holodoc interviews Harry for a new chapter in his treatise on alien sexual customs and behaviors. Kathryn is concerned that Glinn isn't the right woman for her baby boy. And Chakotay is still pretty disconcerted about the whole darn thing.

Harry and Glinn discuss the advantages and disadvantage of becoming life partners, and Glinn explains that a partnership is an intellectual decision and is entered into with the understanding that either partner can reconsider the decision within the first year and amicably dissolve the partnership at that time. (Foreshadowing--a valid literary technique.)

The episode ends with Harry, having fallen in love with a bemused Glinn, considering his options.

—Will Harry and Glinn become life partners?

—Will they then make Star Trek history by revealing shortly thereafter that humans and Palasci are the only two bipedal species in the galaxy who are NOT sexually compatible? (I kinda like this one--it has the virtue of novelty.)

—If they are compatible, will Glinn decide, after a year passes, to leave Voyager and return to Palasce to claim amnesty for her subversive activities?

—If she does, will Harry go with her?

—If not, will Megan be able to return her bridesmaid's dress and get a full refund of her replicator rations?

The answers to these and other questions will be found (when and if I ever write it) in Episode 3, entitled, "What's Love Got To Do With It?"

The End