Jun 20

From the Watchtower: Introducing the Aegolius Harrier

From the Watchtower, introducing the Aegolius HarrierWatchtowerAdAstra

As part of the TToT15 Blog Like a Boss challenge, I present another Watchtower Universe focus. The Aegolius Harrier is a Starfleet ship – which is strangely a departure for me – assigned to the post-war region of Cardassia to aid relief measures.

The Excelsior Class Aegolius Harrier. Obviously, the ship is standard Trek fare and familiar to most fans. Now as my moniker states, I’m a fan of the Miranda class but given the similarities with the Excelsior it was not hard to extend love to this TMP era ship. The ship design chosen again had to reflect the story telling opportunities I wanted to explore.

With the Aegolius Harrier, I wanted a ship and a crew that was far from state of the art. In fact, in the first story it makes mention of scraping the bottom of the barrel. In many ways, that’s the case here. The ship hardly saw action in the Dominion War and when it did it got badly mangled in the fight. Now post Dominion War the ship is pressed into the Eleventh Fleet relief measures for Cardassia. No one wants the assignment and no one really wants the Harrier so that’s exactly where it gets dumped.

window lightThen step onto the scene a new captain, Cyste Ryaenn, a contentious figure with a very pained past whose past experiences with the Cardassians seems to make her a very poor choice indeed to be assigned to this mission.

By the Dying Light – a compelling little short that introduces something of the character and past of Cyste Ryaenn.

The Captain:Ryaenn

Name: Cyste Ryaenn

Species: Aenar / Andorian hybrid
Marital status: single
Rank: Brevet Captain / Commander

Fierce, driven, decisive, singular minded, guarded, careful, restrained and slow to trust others.

Born in the Aenar city of Laibok, Cyste Ryaenn is a hybrid Aenar/Andorian.  Her mixed heritage meant she was born with the ability to see but without the Aenar telepathic abilities. Instead, Ryaenn developed a highly sensitive bioelectric ability to read that serves as a kind of echolocation to sense movement and various spectrums of electronic power.

Her lack of telepathic ability did mark her as an outcast among other Aenar, yet her bioelectric ability allowed Ryaenn to gauge superficially the mood of others. These abilities also gave Ryaenn an edge in her combat studies when growing up and her father schooled her in various Andorian fighting techniques.

However, Ryaenn’s bioelectric sensitivities also meant that she grew up intrigued by the world around her and given her mother’s upbringing in the peaceful Aenar tradition, Ryaenn forego her training to apply herself to scientific studies. She enrolled at the Andorian Science Academy to begin her studies before applying to Starfleet.

At the appropriate time, Ryaenn joined Starfleet and trained specialising in the sciences. When she graduated from the Academy, she was assigned to the Constellation class Sagittarius an exploratory vessel specialising in the study of nebula. She served on the vessel in a consistent and reliable fashion and earned a promotion to Lieutenant [JG].

That same year, when the Sagittarius was exploring a nebula near the region of Minos Krivan the ship was ambushed by a Cardassian galor. The ship was heavily damaged and had to be abandoned. The Cardassian attackers destroyed the ship and captured the escape pod survivors. They were taken to an undisclosed prison camp where they were subjected to interrogations, torture, mind games and forced to take part in war games.

Ryaenn a scientist and brought up a pacifist by her mother struggled in the early months of her incarceration but when attacked by a glinn who attempted to rape her she found the courage to fight back. Brutal reprisals saw her almost beaten to death and when healed she was thrown into ‘The Pit’ an arena where staged war games pitted the prisoners against Cardassian forces. Cyste Ryaenn learned to fight back. She learned how to survive. She learned how to kill. She bided her time to find a means of escape.

Four years after her imprisonment, Cyste Ryaenn was the mastermind and driving force behind a mass breakout from the prison planet. All of the prisoners escaped – no guards escaped her wrath, every last Cardassian was found dead. The events and details of this escape have never fully surfaced and the Cardassians though keen to hide the events did attempt to extract Ryaenn for war crimes.The particular details of Ryaenn’s captivity and subsequent violent escape have never fully come to the surface and this served to attach much speculation and rumour to Ryaenn’s subsequent career path.

What is known is that Cyste Ryaenn was particularly mistreated by the head Cardassian scientist because of her bioelectric reading abilities. The effect was to skew her abilities and to this day, she suffers from abnormal side effects of heightened sensitivity at times, for example, when she undergoes transportation. It is also known that a large number of the senior crewmembers were killed and that Ryaenn took up the leadership mantle for the surviving crew and orchestrated the violent mass breakout from the prison planet.

Upon returning to the Federation, Ryaenn underwent intensive counselling and extensive Starfleet debriefings. To Starfleet’s and everyone’s amazement, Ryaenn chose to return to active duty but citing the desire to switch to the command track. Given her notoriety with the press and among Starfleet rank and file, Admiralty complied with the request though hesitant given their access to details about her actions on the prison planet. After two years of intensive accelerated command training and extensive training in various martial arts, Ryaenn left the Academy with the full rank of Lieutenant and in the command division. She reported to the Saber class Korishaen.

Aboard the Korishaen she served as the ship’s third officer where she served until the onset of the Klingon-Federation war. During this war, the ship’s second officer was killed and Ryaenn acted up as second officer. During the conflict, the ship’s captain was promoted to a new ship and the ship’s executive officer promoted up to captaincy of the ship. At the new captain’s request, Ryaenn was promoted to first officer and commander. She served in this capacity during the Dominion War and in the last months was acting captain when Captain Orwers was killed in action.

With great reluctance, Admiralty have given Ryaenn the temporary commission of captain to the Aegolius Harrier. She retains the rank of commander but onboard is captain of the vessel. And her command is not greeted with enthusiasm from many quarters – from among Admiralty to the Cardassians and from among her own new crew.

The First Officer – friend or foe?

Laid back, easygoing, and very amiable, Commander Gage displays many positive traits but has failed to prove his early career promise. Ryaenn will find that she has to earn his loyalty while Gage has his own agenda at play.

Jethro Gage originally graduated from Starfleet with a speciality in Operations. His years in the department gave him terrific insight and overview of the entire running and workings of a starship. He showed much promise as an Operations officer and when promoted to Lieutenant and the posting of head of Operations, Gage began to pursue a career in the command track.

Given his early promise and highly praising reports, Admiralty accepted Gage into the command track. He showed keen understanding of how to run a ship and terrific personnel skills, cultivating loyalty and friendships easily. However, upon assignment to the Aegolius Harrier Gage’s career has become mired and shown little of his early promise and developed a reputation as a womaniser and lickspittle.

Miffed at being passed over for command of the ship, more worried about currying favour with the crew and Admiralty, and during the course of the Dominion War was happy to permit the ship’s CO to play a very cautious game.

The rest of the boat

If Ryaenn cannot be certain of Gage’s loyalties, there are others among the crew she can definitely depend upon not being loyal to her. Chief among them – Chief Engineer:  Lt. Commander Klaus, a Tellarite and like any Tellarite given to being mean and moody and always ready with a complaint. Not entirely incompetent but no miracle worker and needs a great deal of suggestions from his crew. The new MCPO Willows shows more engineering flair and leadership in the department. This irks Klaus considerably and they have a very terse relationship, which makes engineering a very fraught department.

The Harrier’s CMO: Genevieve Atlee, is a pawn to be used by others in their schemes against Ryaenn. A reluctant field doctor wants to return to her lab research facilities, naive, tends to worry, easily frightened, an able medic but can panic under pressure. How will Atlee fair when the ship is on the precarious frontline of the post-war Cardassian region.

Then the thorn in Ryaenn’s side – the assigned Counsellor: Joe Marsters. Genial, kind hearted, patient, is pushed to the limits however by the captain’s reluctance to endure more counselling. A new assignment to the ship as the captain comes onboard he has been sent with specific instructions to keep a careful eye on Ryaenn. But Ryaenn has her reasons for spurring counsellors and this may harm her cause more than anything.

Loyalties

If she cannot depend on the above, there are stalwarts Ryaenn can lean upon. Chief Science Officer: Lt. T’Vala. Stoic, smart, for a Vulcan can be seen as arrogant but she is honest and blunt rather than arrogant. She though has a long-standing feud with Gage and sees through his bravado and pretence. In Ryaenn she sees someone worthy of serving under, however, will Ryaenn’s more blood dripped past colour loyalties?

At Tactical: Lt. Anjek, Andorian is fierce, loyal, resolute and a strange budding chemistry springs up between the two upon first meeting. Perhaps in Anjek, Ryaenn sees a kindred spirit, a survivor of the war who lost his leg yet has pushed himself to recover. He knows the cost of failures and how much depends on commanding officers making the right and the tough calls. Ryaenn seems to be the captain he longs for but could their relationship get more complicated?

Then there is security -enlisted crewman, Rylek Devaroha’meren or Devaroh Ameren. Cocky, impudent, and aggravating are some choice descriptions of Ameren but he is also cheeky, irreverent, calls a hyper spanner a hyper spanner, and is a loyal friend and lethal enemy. Charming, sincere, good listener, agile, swift, compassionate but also smiling and always looking to enjoy life though by turn can turn deathly serious.

He made a blood oath to Ryaenn to stand by her side for saving him from the Cardassian prison. Entered Starfleet only at her bequest but did not want to be an officer and instead signed up as an enlisted transferring to whatever ship Ryaenn was posted to. His loyalty to the captain is unbound.

And into the mix steps …

And then to compound Ryaenn’s difficulties and the problems that will face the crew of the Aegolius Harrier comes a new directive to help support the relief measures for the Cardassians – Cardassian personnel are to be assigned to ships serving in the taskforce. And among the number sent to the Aegolius Harrier is a double agent with an agenda yet to be realised…

Stories to date:

Aegolius Harrier – Forged In Ice – Part One — Reputations

Aegolius Harrier – Forged In Ice – Part Two — Duels

By the Dying Light…

Bridge:

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Master Systems Display:

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Deck plan:

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Deck Listing based upon details from Obsidian Fleet files

  1. Deck 1

    • Bridge, Captain’s Ready Room, Briefing Room
  2. Deck 2

    • Junior and Senior Officer’s Quarters, VIP/Guest Quarters, Holosuite 1, VIP Dining Room, Main Communications Array
  3. Deck 3

    • Officers’ Quarters, Officers’ Mess, Holosuites 2 & 3, Upper Impulse Assembly, Main Shield Generators
  4. Deck 4

    • NCO Quarters, Enlisted Crew Mess, Galley, Lower Impulse Assembly, Fusion Reactors 1-4, Impulse Engines, Transporter Room 1
  5. Deck 5

    • Main Phaser and Fire Control, Auxiliary Control Room and Support, Engineering Support, Deuterium Storage, Fusion Reactors 5-8, Impulse Engines
  6. Deck 6

    • Primary Life Support Systems, Primary Computer Core Control, Holodecks 1 and 2, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Deuterium Injectors
  7. Deck 7

    • Cargo Bays 1 & 2, Cargo Transporters 1 & 2, Sickbay, Chief Medical Officer’s Office, Primary Science Labs, Counsellor’s Office, Main Computer Cores P/S (Level 1), Deuterium Feed Conduits
  8. Deck 8

    • Main Computer Cores P/S (Level 2), Junior Officers and Crew Quarters, Main Lounge, Secondary Science Labs, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Lateral Sensors
  9. Deck 9

    • Main Sensor Array, Interconnecting Dorsal/Intermix Shaft/Turbolifts, Armoury, Holding Cells, Chief Tactical Officer’s Office, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Secondary Sensor Array
  10. Deck 10

    • Brig, Transporter Room 2, Interconnecting Dorsal/Intermix Shaft/Turbolifts, Deuterium Storage
  11. Deck 11

    • Secondary Shuttlebay (Upper), Auxiliary Craft Maintenance 1, Cargo Bays 3-6, Cargo Transporter 3, Upper Engineering Support Area, Machine Shop, Deuterium Storage, Nacelle Power Transfer Assembly
  12. Deck 12

    • Secondary Shuttlebay (Lower), Main Engineering, M/ARA Reaction Assembly, Transporter Room 3, Cargo Transporter 4, Nacelle Power Transfer Assembly, Nacelle Personnel Conduit
  13. Deck 13

    • Living Quarters, Primary Systems Support Compartment, Secondary Computer Core (Level 1), Emergency Batteries, Enlisted Quarters, Secondary Communications Array
  14. Deck 14

    • Forward Torpedo Launchers, Torpedo Magazines, Cargo Bays 7-9, Cargo Transporter 5, Aft Tractor Emitter, Secondary Computer Core (Level 2), Reserve Deuterium Storage
  15. Deck 15

    • Auxiliary Deflector Control, Aft Phaser and Torpedo Weapon Control, Aft Torpedo Launcher, Torpedo Magazine, Antimatter Injectors, Secondary Computer Core (Level 3), Gravimetric Polaron Generators
  16. Decks 16

    • Maintenance Bay 1, Emergency Transporter Rooms 1 & 2, Enlisted Quarters
  17. Deck 17

    • Main Shuttlebay (Upper), Stellar Cartography, Enlisted Quarters, Recreation Deck/Zero-G Gymnasium, Crew Lounge
  18. Deck 18

    • Main Shuttlebay (Middle), Deflector Control, Main Navigational deflector, Primary and Emergency Deflector Dish Graviton Polarity Generators, Subspace Field Distortion Generators
  19. Decks 19

    • Main Shuttlebay (Lower), Shuttle Maintenance 2, Shuttle Storage, Cargo Transporter 6, Living Quarters Maintenance Bay 2, Living Quarters, Tertiary Multi-purpose Laboratories, Emergency Transporter Rooms 3 & 4,
  20. Sub Deck A

    • Emergency Fusion Power Generators 1 & 2, Environmental System Controls, Waste Reclamation, Secondary Shield Generators, ‘The Dregs’ illegal bar
  21. Sub Deck B

    • Emergency Fusion Power Generators 3 & 4, Emergency Batteries, Antimatter Storage Tanks, Antimatter Fill Port, Emergency Gravimetric Polaron Generators, Antimatter Generator, Tractor beam Generator, Main Tractor Beam Assembly

Jun 17

From the Watchtower: Introducing the Étoile Cheval

WatchtowerAdAstraFrom the Watchtower, introducing the Étolie Cheval

As part of the TToT15 Blog Like a Boss challenge, I present another Watchtower Universe focus. The Étoile Cheval is a second civilian ship set within my Watchtower Universe. However, its master and commander is one Beatrix Knight, aka Beks, who worked as a bounty hunter and finds that despite her best intentions cannot escape the clutches of her past life.

Introducing the ship and a shared universe

Étoile Cheval #1 ‘Dead or Alive’

The story begins with a bounty that goes wrong as a criminal overlord sets out to silence a potential witness and in the crossfire is the crew of the Étoile Cheval. The opening story ‘Dead or Alive’ finds Beks and her bounty partner Jodhaa chasing down a perp on a rain soaked night. But what ought to be a simple catch and bag bounty turns sinister swiftly when they discover that the bounty has more than one bounty on his head, and is wanted by a notorious Orion villain, Zaddo Natale.

The first story was a joy to write. it came about quite easily and was written in short order. Firstly, it was a focused story with a very simple plot and of course was heavy on action rather than exposition. That said, the story had certain challenges. It was serving as an introduction to the ship and crew, whilst killing a number off in quick order before we even got to know the characters. That meant the focus had to remain on Beks and on Jodhaa. This leant the tale a certain clear sighted vision that helped to create the intensity of their struggle as the action was so focused on these two women. It certainly was a bit of a departure for me in terms of the fact I usually lean towards larger ensemble casts. However, from the outset, that was always going to be a goal and purpose of the Étoile Cheval, to tell a smaller framed story with a more intimate setting.

Another challenge in writing the story was the fact that one of the main characters was not one of my own. Jodhaa Rin is actually the creation of CamPSD. There was certainly a degree of wariness taking on another person’s character and treating them correctly, especially since Jodhaa was a character only in her infancy and I did not want to derail or defame the character any. But, it was also a fantastic opportunity to make use of the expanded universe of the shared Eleventh Fleet universe to make for a richer background for the characters involved. Certainly, the writing of Dead or Alive and the inclusion of Jodhaa was one of the high points of that shared universe experience.

Concept and Character Origin

The idea simply behind the Étoile Cheval and why I had to create yet another ship and cast of characters was my desire to explore a different aspect of Trek and of course of my Watchtower Universe. With the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán I was having the fun of exploring a civilian ship getting into all manner of scrapes and adventures but there was also the roguish, slightly criminal element or at the least the possibility of criminality to Tabatha Chase. With the Étoile, I wanted the chance to explore the civilian side but from a more good side of the law perspective. Where the Rabbit would get into trouble by virtue of its misadventures (and Tabatha’s penchant for finding it) the Étoile would be seeking to find and catch the bad guy.

The notion of a bounty hunter came to mind. I had thought about a sheriff based series set on a colony world. But a space faring bounty hunter was the notion that tugged at my muse’s collar and that’s the direction I took. In deciding I wanted to write a bounty hunter, I realised I wanted someone different in conception to Tabatha Chase. Where Tabatha is loud and quick to shoot first, run, smile and offer a smart return before even the notion of asking a question would come into her mind, I wanted for my bounty hunter someone far more cautious and reserved.

(Heck, my notion was that Tabatha would find herself pitted against a bounty hunter. Which she will be in the future, in a crossover tale between the Étoile Cheval and the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán.)

Enter Beatrix ‘Beks’ Knight.

Cool. Calm. Collected. Serious. No nonsense. Focused. Beks would exude a quiet inner drive and a strong mentality. Her movements and words are tightly controlled and economical. She reserves her fire and determination for a fight but Beks believes a fight can more often than not be avoided. She believes smart moves, good planning and a degree of strategy and foresight is the best means of defence and attack. Luck does not factor as a factor.

Beks is also fervent in her quest for justice. This stems from the murder of her own parents. She saw justice could not be got because of corrupt officials on her homeworld. So she opted to seek justice. However, her quest is tempered by smarts and a real sense of justice. She did not – does not seek blind revenge.

Her background also lends Beks her insular perspective, it makes her wary of big organisations such as Starfleet and makes her feel her work as a bounty hunter is vital and important to bringing justice to the often otherwise unjust borderlands. She’s at heart, a border gal. Meaning she knows the way of things out on the edge but it sets her apart being so keen to keep the letter of the law.

One person can make a difference. One criminal put behind bars at a time.

Beks Knight

Étoile Cheval #2 Old Guns; New Blood

With a clear conscience, the rich potential for Beks in story telling circumstances will be testing her morals, pitting her against bad guys not simply enough to sustain a series of stories. Instead, the quandary of who she serves and what is true justice, especially in a myriad of jurisdictions and political strife. This will become clear in Old Guns, New Blood, the second tale of the Étoile Cheval.

In this story, we see that Beks has given up the life of a Bounty Hunter after the events of Dead or Alive. However, a mysterious Bajoran operative turns up seeking to employ Beks for a bounty, a bounty that relates to a past tragedy in her life. Desperate to escape her life as a bounty hunter, Beks is resistant to the contract.

However, events conspire to drag her into the world she is trying to leave behind. Her old mentor shows up – but is his interest justice or revenge? Meantime, her new hands on board are strangers to Beks yet she feels the desire to protect them from her past. And shades of that past are soon revealed or partially hinted at. We learn early on that Beks has past associations with Intelligence. It may be that her work was limited to working for the Border Patrol Intelligence but given the frosty reception towards ‘Dynamite’ Tanner and the fact Watchtower’s Intelligence Chief, Grem’waal, feels he owes Beks a favour, we are inclined to believe that ‘stuff went down’. How clean are Beks’ hands? How clear is her conscience?

What to expect of the Étoile Cheval stories? Action, yes but hopefully some morality plays too. The stories by design are supposed to evoke something of a western, hence the homage to old western films and tropes in the story titles. However, as well as difficult bounties to track down, Beks and co. are living in a very different Trek world post Dominion War, were loyalties and former allies may no longer mean the same thing and one time enemies are  now in need of help. Into this, Beks may face getting tangled in webs from her past and … the assassin from Dead or Alive remains at large. The hunter is hunting a hunter and a deadly game of cat and mouse it will be. And of course, at some juncture, Beks is going to run across Tabatha Chase. The how and why of it remain to be seen for you dear readers as we see Chase try to wriggle out of that situation – and handcuffs.

Ship Concept

Again, like the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán, the Étoile needed to be non-trek / non-Starfleet yet hopefully still fit within the setting. It had to be civilian in feeling and importantly be small, compact and grungy enough to fit the story telling and small crew focus of the tales. I like to build my worlds in my head so that I at least can picture it. For readers it can help sometimes to use something visual they can relate to and it helped me to flesh out the ship unfamiliar to Trek audiences if I could draw upon other sources. Therefore, as I said before in the best tradition of creativity, I stole ship designs from other popular science fiction settings. This time round, the Étoile Cheval came directly from the Firefly universe and based on its Serenity. And in an ideal world, I rather imagine Beks portrayed by Gina Torres (hey if I’m gonna raid Firefly, raid the best bits).

I imagined then this grungy small ship. Quite weathered, old and a bit of a cast off in terms of the more modern vessels. This image was what fitted in my head to fit with the almost Western feel about the series in tone and vision. Beks Knight is like a marshal hunting down her bounties and the Étoile is her faithful steed and home. Therefore, it needed to have character and provide a suitable setting for any space bound action. Again, the lived in feel of the Serenity on the Firefly series offered to me the best idea of what I wanted.

Va’leh Class [based on the Serenity from Firefly]

Eagle-eyed readers will note that Étoile Cheval is the same class Tabatha Chase stowed away upon, as featured in Chase by Name. Chase by Nature

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General Information
Planet of Origin: Andor – Blusun Ship Yards
Accommodation: 3 to 5 crew, up to 18 passengers, 40-person evacuation limit
Classification: Mid-Bulk Transport
Model Number: Series 3
Production Start Date: 2306
Production End Date: 2326
Expected Hull Life: 100 years
Dimensions
Overall
Length: 269 ft. 3 in.
Width: 170 ft.
Height: 78 in. 8 in. (Landing Gear Extended)
Decks: 4 (1 sub-deck)
Main Body
Length: 261 ft. 1 in.
Width: 68 ft. 10 in.
Height: 74 ft. 5 in.
Wingspan: 112 ft. 4 in. (to Engine Mounts)
Turbine Engines
Length: 62 ft. 8 in.
Width: 28 ft. 4 in.
Height: 29 ft. 6 in.
Mass
Empty: 282,500 lbs
Max Takeoff: 585,000 lbs
Max Payload: 164,900 lbs
Deck Layout
Sub-Deck (Weather Deck)
Passive Antenna Array, Escape Pod, Emergency Stores, Static Discharge Spikes (Exterior), Life Support Systems Access
Deck 1 (Upper Deck)
Avionics Compartment, Bridge (w/Head), Life Support Systems, Battery, Gravity Rotor Access, Coolant Storage, Aft Alternator
Deck 2 (Main Deck)
Main Antenna, EVA Hatch and Escape Pod Access, Escape Pods (2), Armory, Forward Hallway, Access Ladders to Crew Quarters, Galley/Dining Room, Shuttle Airlock Access (S), Aft Hallway, Main Engine Room
Deck 3 (Mid-Deck)
Storage Room, Reverse Thrusters (P/S), Auxilliary Fuel Tanks (P/S), Generator Bay (P/S), Crew Quarters, Crew Head, Gravity Dampener, Access to Shuttle Airlocks (P/S – Catwalk Level of Cargo Bay), Upper Cargo Bay, Mule Storage, Gravity Wave Amplifier, Water Storage, Water/Waste Reclamation, Reactor Core Room, Fuel Tank
Deck 4 (Lower Deck)
Airlock Pump Machinery, Cargo Airlock, Forward Landing Gear, Cargo Bay Floor, Bomb Bay Doors, Gravity Dampener Machinery, Infirmary, Passenger Dorms, Passenger Head, Fuel Storage Tanks, Aft Landing Gear, Heat Exchanger Arms (Exterior)
Defensive Systems
Navigational Deflector Shields
Standard Duranium Single Hull
Standard Level Structural Integrity Field
Power Plant
Trace Compression Rotary Warp Reactor
Drive Systems
1 Radion Accelerator Core (Impulse)
2 6V4-178-B31 Multi-Vector Turbines (Atmospheric/Warp)
36 RCS Thrusters
Warp Speeds
Normal Cruise : 6
Maximum Cruise : 8
Maximum Rated : 9 (for 6 hours)
Refit Cycle
Minor: 1 year
Standard: 5 years
Major: 20 years
Auxiliary/Support Craft (Standard Complement)
2 Endo/Exo-Atmospheric Shuttles
1 MF-813 Flying Mule
Other Equipment
2 Magnetic Grappler Launchers
6 Self-Powered Transmitter Buoys
Internal Cargo Winches
The ship can be entered/exited:
1. Through the personnel door set in the cargo door when up.
2. Through the cargo door when down.
3. Dorsal EVA hatch over galley (access through small room on port/aft corner of galley).
4. EVA hatch accessed at middeck from the catwalk level, port and starboard.
5. Under nose EVA hatch (down stairs from bridge, open the floor hatch to the airlock, climb down ladder, close up the floor, use the EVA door).
6. Emergency dorsal EVA hatch above foreward walkway. (wall ladder up from the stairwell at the aft end of the foreward hallway).
7. Ventral “bomb bay” doors in cargo hold. (Airlock isn’t really humanoid-oriented).
8. Shuttle airlocks, port and starboard.
Notes:
1. The Va’leh-class MBT can carry a secondary cargo module which attaches directly ventral to the main cargo hold. When attached, it is typically accessed through the bomb bay doors.
2. A Trace Compression Drive’s main feature is a rotary engine block. The engine block (or main reactor) must be continuously rotating in order to generate power for all the ship’s systems; if any of the necessary components of the block fail, the block will not rotate and thus cannot generate power. Without a back-up generator system, all ship’s functions, including life support, would fail within hours.
3. Series 1 through 3 of the Va’leh-class were built standard with navigational deflectors only. The Series 3 is capable of having her shield systems upgraded to full defensive shields. Series 1 through 3 are also unarmed, though private owners have been known to add weapons systems such as particle beam emitters, phasers, disruptors, and missile launchers.
This information was taken from the Official Serenity Blueprints produced by Quantum Mechanix, and were Trekified by CamSPD and Miranda Fave.

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Watchtower Welcome to Hope

 

Watchtower #1: Welcome to Hope

Jul 31

Running the Gauntlet – Story Review and Discussion 2

Review and Discussion

Continuing my story review and discussion of the opening Osprey story, ‘Running the Gauntlet’ as part of my From the Watchtower series of blogs we turn to take a closer look at chapters, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Obvious spoilers alert – Read the story first!

Chapter 2

The Hunt sees Mercy take to the bridge and the op begin in earnest. With the previous chapter setting the game plan up, we’re able to fly through the details of the moves to hunt and race the Orion slaver down. When I write, I usually try to find pieces of music, normal instrumental soundtrack pieces to assist me in finding a tone and develop the pace of the story and especially in any action sequences. For the opening sequences of these chapters the soundtrack that fitted most was The theme from Captain America: Winter Soldier by Henry Jackman.

Running at nine minutes the piece of music fitted the early chapters, evoked the scenes of planning and a stealthy attack all to a timeframe before the action kicks in. The music helped me to set the pace in my mind for the first five chapters of the story. I often find music is useful and inspiring for creating such action scenes. Action scenes are by necessity visual affairs and can be troublesome to bring to the page. With the use of music I find that rather than visual action we as writers can use mood and tone to great effect and key to it is the pacing of the story telling. This particular music piece helped me to visualise and work out the beats I wanted to hit in constructing these various chapters that all run into one another with overlaps or following immediately on from the climax to the preceding chapter.

The slow build up fits the sneaking up of the first chapter and this chapter where we see Faraday implement and direct the plan from the command chair. Again, we see a few differences here. The ship despite sharing lineage with the Intrepid class has a central command chair. No sharing the limelight ala ENT-D or VOY with your executive officer or counsellors.

What chapter 2 reveals to us is the gulf of being in command and sending people out to complete a mission and that so many facets of the op are completely out of the hands of the commanding officer. We see that Faraday struggles with this aspect of her command. She’s itching for updates and wants nothing more for her part in the operation to come into play so she can go bust some balls. Her own moment to be Captain America. The chapter doing more work to highlight some Border Patrol tactics, with an expansion on the ‘rat-trap’ torpedoes and the usage of transponder nodes and transporter plates to beam into hard to reach places.

Notable introductions on the bridge are the ship’s second officer, T’Renna and at helm, Cree. T’Renna appears as a standard Vulcan, cool, stoic and precise when possible. Although often stock characters, I do like my Vulcans as I believe there can be a lot more nuances to their characterisation than the stereotype – albeit when you have a troubled Vulcan like the Kestrel’s T’Vel there’s an infinite amount more complexity and story telling but not every Vulcan character can be like that. Cree is a Bzzit Khaht (seen left sporting the wrong uniform colour! tut tut), adding a little diversity to the species range on the ship but also an alien species I’ve not written for before, so I wanted an opportunity to write for something different.

However, it’s all business here and again the story is coming at the reader from mostly Mercy’s POV. Once more, it’s a deliberate choice to give the reader insight to a degree on the captain and for me as writer to write things more from a Trek captain’s POV. If you consider my Kestrel story, despite how  much of the story revolves around McGregor, he’s as yet to be a POV character in the chapters.

What we do learn is that Mercy puts up a calm front but she’s impatient and chomping at the bit. She’s also worried about the op and how it will pan out. In particular, she’s got issues with the new executive officer and wonders if he’s going to be up to the task. So as the chapter concludes, Mercy races off the bridge to begin her own interdiction assault. Cue chapter 3 where we will learn if Hayes is up to the task and whether the assault, which so far is working out, continues to go according to plan.

 

Chapter 3

The Little Dragon

The Little Dragon

Little Dragon switches POV to Gareth Hayes and his team after they have breached the Orion slaver. The target ship is in a bad way having been adversely affected by the rat-trap. The team move into position from their breach point and are ready to assault the holding cells where the slaves are being held. We’re about to see if Hayes is up to the measure. But just as we are, Hayes gets a gentle reminder (or even a rebuff) as he’s told to stand back and allow the young Ryuu to do his stuff.

Ryuu, the Little Dragon in question, enters into the fray. In the opening chapter, he gets a moment of screen time, here is his moment to shine as we see just why Mercy herself told the XO to have faith in the young man. Of course, as the writer I wanted to convey a sense of his being worthy of that faith and his being a bad ass. It would have been tempting to try and make him to a sort of martial arts guru, however, since the original conception of the character would have made Ryuu Denobulan, I pictured Ryuu as swift and part parkour in his agility and movement. There’s an element of martial arts to his fighting style yes, but we see that he’s focused on a fast surprise attack and the use of some clever additional tech to aid his assault.

The zap bugs are like zappers but small in size and able to be tossed at a target, where they then stick on contact, or can be slapped onto the target. We see Ryuu pull this off as he skims, darts and climbs through an open multilevel area bringing these skills and attributes to his assault. This is where we see the need for his needing a suit that was more flexible and would not encumber his movement. Ryuu also gets to make use of the CPR (Concussive Pulse Rifle) to fell enemies.

If the scene gives a shout out to Ryuu it also shows he’s part of a team and he expects to be supported by one. He feels free and confident to take point and use his swiftness to advantage but only because the remainder of the team is hot on his heels to provide needed backup. With the use of the tac-mat (another tool toy – think of it as a flexible silicone like iPad with a tactical display and you’re on the right line), Ryuu selects targets identified by the sensors and by the hovering tactical drones. Yup, I give my guys lots of cool toys. However, a lot of these are extensions of weapons, technology and tactics used today and extrapolated for the future Trek setting.

tactical drone

We get lots of angry Orions and Nausicaan henchmen standing between our heroes and the freedom of the slaves, presenting Hayes, Ryuu and team with a challenge. The fight is swift and quite fragmented. I was not entirely sure of the piece carrying through so focusing more on the swiftness of the fight rather than getting bogged down in details hopefully lent proceedings a frantic pace. I did manage to throw in a sword fight, stealing from NuTrek Sulu’s sword fight in the first movie with that rather cool retractable sword.

However, Ryuu despatches his combatant in ala The Indiana Jones School of Sword Fighting.

Ryuu followed the elbow up with a quick high kick to the chest causing the Red to stagger backwards for a second but the Red was quickly ready to attack again, shaking his vision clear only to see Ryuu with a toothy smile aiming his CPR at him. “Sweet dreams.” A bolt of blue and the Red Orion crumpled to the ground. Hefting the large CPR handheld over his shoulder, Ryuu swaggered up to The Red before testing his unconscious state with a sharp toe poke.
Around him the fight was over and Ryuu turned to pick up his sword. With a motion of his thumb, Ryuu activated the retraction of the segmented blade back into the small stowable hilt, which he deftly sheathed to the side of his leg. Then meeting his new commander, Ryuu smiled, shrugged and laughed. “What you expected me to play fair?”

The fight is over in the cell compartment but the reality of who they were fighting for hits home as the cells are popped open and the slaves revealed. For Gareth Hayes its a moment when any gripes he has about the assigned mission evaporates. And the focus turns to what is happening elsewhere on the ship.

Chapter 4

Incoming Forces and Faraday beams aboard the crippled Orion slaver in order to prevent reinforcements reaching the slave cells. Mercy takes centre stage in the operation, directing her team with assurance and grit. But we see that the rat-trap torpedo has taken its toll on the ship in this section especially. The plan has had a hitch but they can over come such problems, except, wait … we’ve got henchmen incoming (incoming forces – more puns on the chapter title) and despite Mercy’s attempt to call them to surrender. Maybe she’s got a merciful side to her after all.

Back to Hayes at the cell and we discover among the slaves a large number of Cardassians, a startling discovery and a dangerous new precedent. Is this a sign of Cardassia’s new status in the post Dominion War era? The concerns for the slaves and Mercy’s gun fight all need to take a back seat however as T’Renna chimes in with a countdown to the incoming storm (more incoming forces!) pushing the evacuation time table up.

Already, we see that there are a number of fronts on which the crew is being challenged. Mercy has to stop the reinforcements, Gareth has to get the slavers off ship before the storm reaches them and renders the transporter ineffective, Mitch is putting down resistance in the bridge and then Shelly ‘Sparks’ Logan warns from engineering that the ship’s core is going critical.

The race is on to get out of there. Mercy demonstrates that she’s the first one into the fight and when it come to the evacuation she chides Mercus ordering him ahead of her on the transporter plates as she’ll be the last to leave. Cue the inevitable when the Trek captain says something like that. Just as it looks like they might make a quick but rough get away from the situation, Mercy halts hearing a cry from way back, stops to query it and then the engine room explodes. The superstructure crumples. Mercy is buried in metal.

Bridge loses its signal for the captain … is Faraday really dead?

Well I’d hate to spoil it for you. Go read the next chapter and find out.

Chapter 5

Storm Fronts sees Hayes react to the news that Faraday’s signal has been lost. We know she’s alive but what’s her status? Straight off, I didn’t want or need to add mystery to Mercy’s fate. She’s the starship captain! Would I really kill her off? Actually, I have to be honest, I would as I stand by the story needs but in this case – certainly for this chapter – I need her to be alive still.

The aim at this point was to have a bit of confusion for all parties concerned as to the status of the captain to lend a real time feel to the events. When we switch quickly to the captain, we know she’s in generally good nick considering everything. The drama is not whether she’s alive or not but the fact that she’s trapped with no means of escape. The Gauntlet  is reeking havoc with transporters and with the transporter enhancer plates, smashed by the rubble, Mercy is stuck fast in an isolated section of the ship. Ryuu steps up to get a plate to her position but he needs to move fast. That storm front is fast incoming. But for Mercy that’s the least of her concerns as she hears the cries of a child again.

Obviously, Mercy moves to find the child amid the ruin of a quickly disintegrating ship. The storm is on their tail and T’Renna counts down its approach. Mercy finds not one child but two! The race is on to get them out. She makes use of one of the surviving drones as a wedge to lift the heavy girders. Ryuu arrives with a transporter enhancer plate but the timing is critical here. They aren’t going to be able to get the children free before the storm arrives and you can’t transport with the shields up! What are they going to do? Worse still, adding an extra dimension to this is the fact that the cool and pragmatic Vulcan is the one in command on the bridge. If anyone is going to stick to the plan and the protocols it’s going to be T’Renna. She won’t risk the ship against the onslaught of the storm front and Mercy’s time is up …

This was the trickiest section for me to write. I had it clear in my head. Where the previous cliffhanger ending of chapter 4 was obviously a mere hook, there wasn’t a chance he’d kill her (well again, I repeat I would), but here I wanted to build up to this moment but again the pacing had to lend to a critical time factor. I wanted to create a drama and a dilemma here.

By shifting to Mercy’s point of view and having her get the updates on the storm front via the bridge in the latter part of the chapter, we got ourselves a ticking clock and a real deadline to meet. It is not merely Mercy’s life on the line. There are two children and the plucky and brave Ryuu to factor in as well. Maybe they’ll get saved but maybe not all of them. And how?

As the clock ticks down and it is clear they aren’t going to get out in time, they just need about ten seconds more it feels like, but that’s a time frame T’Renna cannot afford to grant. Here you see why I cast a Vulcan in the role of the second officer. I had toyed with Hayes being back on the bridge and in command and being faced with this choice but I figured it worked more dramatically and less melodramatically to write it this way. It also fit with my plan to make everyone face the gauntlet of challenges in the story.

Did it work? I’d like to think so. Certainly to some degree, with one reader commenting:

Damn, that’s some seriously dramatic work there at the end and I honestly don’t know how it will play out. I’m guessing your not killing off your protagonist and two kids within the first few chapters of your story but still, this is gonna be a struggle either way.

T’Renna is a Vulcan of course, so she has to make not just the most logical decision but also the only one she can make to save the ship, you simply cannot fault her for that.

What an awesome dilemma. Eagerly anticipating the next chapter.

Next time…

In my next story review and discussion, we will treat chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9. Thanks for reading. Obviously, please feel free to share your thoughts.

 

Did these chapters with their focus on the action and the build up to it come off correctly for you? Was the Little Dragon chapter fast paced? Did it lend to giving Ryuu a cool ass vibe or mere stereotype action hero fare? What about Hayes – did he impress? What about those Cardassian slaves, eh? Was Mercy plain dumb giving the reinforcements a heads up and a chance to surrender? Did the explosion create a WTF moment? Did you think I’d kill Mercy off then? Then did the build up to the cliffhanger ending of chapter 6 work effectively? What did you think? These and more, please offer comment.
Meantime, boldly reading, boldly writing, boldly reviewing …cropped-Miranda-Fave-header2.jpg

Jul 30

Running the Gauntlet – Story Review and Discussion 1

Inspired by the blog posts of Mdg, jespah and TemplarSora’s I thought to offer up a story review reflection for one of my most recent stories to the site and a brand new series. From the Watchtower, we take a closer look at the opening Osprey story, ‘Running the Gauntlet’.

Run the gauntlet
gauntlet 2  (ˈɡɔːntlɪt) — n
1.            a punishment in which the victim is forced to run between two rows of men who strike at him as he passes: formerly a military punishment
2.            run the gauntlet
                a. to suffer this punishment
                b. to endure an onslaught or ordeal, as of criticism
3.            a testing ordeal; trial
4.           and run the gauntlet of something Fig. to endure a series of problems, threats, or criticism.

Story Intentions

Spiessgasse_Frundsberger_Kriegsbuch_Jost_Ammann_1525

Spiessgasse Frundsberger Kriegsbuch Jost Ammann (1525) Wiki Commons

In my introducing the Osprey post a quick introduction was given to the characters and setting of the border cutter. The story served as an introduction to the crew though as a vehicle mostly served to present the ship’s captain Mercy Faraday and new executive officer, Gareth Hayes.

The story also serves as an introduction to the more regular Trek side of my Watchtower Universe as stories from a civilian perspective with the bounty hunter Beks Knight and the cargo trader Tabatha Chase have largely dominated the scene to date. Ushering in the Osprey we get our first big welcome to the Watchtower’s ‘Sassy’ Sixth Cutter Squadron and it hints at the larger world of the Watchtower sector, particularly in the later chapter: The Bigger Picture.

The purpose of the story is to introduce these characters and give them all a shout out but of course give particular focus to the dynamic between the captain and XO. It also had the purpose of setting up some of the problems for this region of space.

‘The Gauntlet’
Shared Federation, Tzenkethi, Breen, Cardassian border
USS Osprey, Deep Space Border Cutter, Gryffon class, Sixth Cutter Squadron
Captain Mercy Faraday Thatcher, Commanding

Osprey Cover Running the GauntletFrom the location blurb heading the first chapter the reader hopefully realises that this cutter is patrolling some rough seas, with a number of contentious parties on their border stretch. Breen, Tzenkethi and Cardassians are all going to provide plenty of drama and trouble surely in a post Dominion War setting (which is exactly what they are going to do). As the story progresses, we learn however the problems are not solely these parties alone. There are Kzinti clans, Orions, rogue smugglers and pirates, terrorists and a group called the Ashers. All of these threats are seeded for future stories involving any of the series in the Watchtower Universe.

With Osprey, the intention is yes to tell stand alone stories but in the feel and guise of Deep Space Nine, we are going to see continuity and ramifications because the ship is not Voyager flying away in search of the way home, nor is it the Enterprise in any of its guises flying ever onward in search of discovery or running to the next crisis. If Osprey creates a problem or is unable to solve it, that problem is going to be around for their next patrol.

Part of that approach then, is to create certain landmarks that will play a role in the Osprey tales. These will range from Star Stations, relay stations and out posts to regions of space, such as the one mentioned in the location blurb starting the story – ‘The Gauntlet’. ‘The Gauntlet’ we are to learn is a troubled region of space in other ways too, presenting rough – indeed dangerous – passage to any who travel through it. Think of the Black Nebula or the Badlands, The Briar Patch, etc and you can get an idea of the sort of Trekian type of fare we are dealing with. A nasty spot to cause trouble for ships and opportunities for criminals and warring parties. Yup, don’t expect any postcards reading: The Gauntlet ‘Wish you were here’.

Briar Patch

Briar Patch – it ain’t got a patch on ‘The Gauntlet’

The region of space gives rise to the story title but as the definition of running the gauntlet reveals, the characters are going to endure a series or onslaught of ordeals, threats and trials. For the stories inception, I wanted to throw a lot of stuff at the characters and to try to do at the one time. This would help to bring themes of trust to the fore in the story as everyone is faced with a challenge and to work with one another.

And we of course know that the class of ship is not canon and is a Deep Space Border Cutter, meaning that perhaps this will differentiate the story from other Starfleet regular stories. For the reader, they might wonder if this means anything different for the characters or the story to be told. I think it does in its own way but you the reader can judge better for yourselves.

The choice of ship was talked about in the Introduction blog but suffice to say, the ship looks like an Intrepid class only it has no variable warp geometry warp nacelles and has a forward shuttle deck (where the mess on VOY was) and an underside shuttle bay. The design reasoning being the rapid launch and retrieval of the Border Patrol’s specialised craft the Star Stallions (think beefed up shuttles crossed with a Runabout).

Chapter 1

‘Welcome to the Dogs’ kicks things off with a jolt as we jump straight into the fray with our Border Dog heroes. The ship is readying for an interdiction assault on an Orion slaver ship.

Mercy Faraday Thatcher

Mercy Faraday-Thatcher strides onto the scene suited and booted and gives the heads up to the four teams who are about to step into danger’s way. Mercy’s obviously a seasoned hand at this as she tells her crew what is what and outlines the plan of attack. With the wizardry of the holo-tech tactical table, Faraday offers a play-by-play plan and lays down her expectations. Clearly she has a tactical mindset and expects her crew to follow her orders without complaint. This demonstrates her faith and trust in her crew, and apparently they in her.

However, we soon see that there is one figure amongst the number whom Faraday seems to have a slight troubling issue with: her executive officer, Gareth Hayes. Hayes is new to the ship and worse than that (in Mercy’s eyes) he’s not a Border Dog, he’s a Fleeter. Is her uncertainty with Hayes down to his being a Starfleeter alone or is there something more to it?

I wanted a strong figure obviously for my captain and from the off, Mercy shows her experience and commanding presence with her rather blunt presentation. However, her approach does not appear to invite any discussion or input. We don’t see what’s happened prior to this as it is all happening on the fly as they respond quickly to intel and sensor find of the slaver. Mercy tells as much but for new XO Hayes it has to be a little disconcerting. Might he even have justifiable umbrage about the entire situation? Part of the character conception for Faraday is based on one of my own writing traits of writing characters who are not always entirely likeable. Or certainly, not always likeable. Faraday fits this mould in lots of ways – there’s tons to like about her but there’s plenty to have issue with. And, in my own opinion, Mercy makes for a good Border Patrol captain but I have my doubts that she could actually pass muster in Starfleet (in fact she pretty much wouldn’t – certainly not as a Starfleet captain).

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]“No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy.”

(German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke)[/pullquote]

The op preview helps to give us a run down of what should happen and what to expect when the action goes down. In one way, it serves to assist the writing of the action later as the presentation helps to explain much of that narrative allowing the story to focus on the reactions of the characters. It also lends the opportunity to deviate from the plan as things potentially go south. After all, the best laid plans and all of that, especially in light of the words “No Battle Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy” (German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke). We do learn however that Mercy is a real take charge and hands on captain and is not about to be left out of any fire-fight. She’s going to direct things from the bridge before beaming aboard the slaver herself. As Trek fans, that immediately raises the warning bells.

Holographic tactical displays - Battleships come to life!

Holographic tactical displays – Battleships come to life! Screencap from Promethesus

The op plan serves also to highlight some other features. Firstly, despite the normal depiction of the Border Dogs being on older vessels and the hand-me-downs of Starfleet, the Osprey appears to be quite techy with the fancy holo-tactical table display and a forward launch bay. There’s also mention of new weapons and weapons designed by and for the Border Patrol Service. The ‘rat-trap’ 22s torpedoes are an invention by TheLoneRedShirt but are a common toy used by the Border Dogs to zap their enemy. Essentially, they create an electromagnetic pulse on contact with the enemy that causes them to drop out of warp. Since the work of the Border Patrol often requires them to conduct interdiction assaults they need a powerful weapon in their arsenal but one that does not necessarily cause too much damage to the enemy.

Additionally, the Border Dog have their own specialised weapons. Again, much of the inspiration for these are owed to the works of TheLoneRedShirt (or Granddaddy of the Dogs as I like to call him – though he might not like that name). The carbines are like the phaser rifles seen in canon, just bulkier and with shorter butts to allow for movement in tight confines as they conduct interdiction missions. Likewise, other weapons such as the ARC and the CPR being sported by corps man Ryuu, are weapons akin to the rat traps designed to stop an enemy or hostile group in crowd control but without causing irreparable harm.

Mitch Duncannon

Hugh Dillion in Flashpoint aka ,Mitch Duncannon’ Chief of the Boat.

The teams are clad in black armour. Honestly, the whole walking into a hostile situation in the future wearing pyjamas is just insane so it made perfect sense for the characters and the Dogs especially to suit up in advanced like armour suits. Give them a cape and they can be Batman. Maybe not – but it is the future so you could expect as much and many other fan fictions also choose this more grounded (read sensible) approach to this story telling.

We get a quick introduction to a few of these guys. Quick brush strokes in a fast and furious run through. We meet The CoB – Chief of the Boat Mitch Duncannon. He seems rather taciturn and monosyllabic. He is. Well we discover he is plenty able to voice his opinion and one gets the impression he’s the person on the boat with the ear of the captain. This is a little pairing we will learn more about as the story progresses. What we hopefully glean here though is that he is tough and can finish Mercy’s sentences, implying they’ve a long standing relationship. Mitch is in his black armour – but he’s the type of character you always expect to be in such armour – in fact it may even serve as his pyjamas!

There’s an introduction to Leann Mbeke, a flirty and fun Halian figure who appears to treat the situation lightly until she takes umbrage at possibly letting the culprit get away. Mercy’s focus is on rescuing the slaves however and this serves to mollify Mbeke.

Another non-com enters the scene – Chief Petty Officer Shelly Logan aka ‘Sparks’. I like my non-com characters and although I’ve never served, I rather imagine these guys, especially the petty officers, are the back bone of making things work within the navy. Also, I don’t like to play with too many top tier officers and like to explore some of the lower deck dimensions in my stories. Whilst a CPO is hardly bottom of the pecking order, Shelly offers a slightly different attitude to proceedings.

Ryuu - Gantz costume

Ryuu – Gantz costume

The character who is a little different is the young Ryuu. He’s different in costume, in rank and in age. Darkly dangerous with an eagerness to enter the fight, he is more motivated about trying out his new toy – that is weapon. Ryuu sports a different kind of armour tactical suit to the others. Partly because I figured him to be this lithe, thin reed of a guy who was young, fast and cocky. However, a heavy armour suit did not seem to fit for him. Then in watching Gantz I came across a young actor who could portray the cocky but youthful thrill seeker. Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) was a perfect fit and actually, he altered the part by changing the character species from Denobulan originally (because they are lithe, fast and good climbers according to canon reference) to being human. (Exclusive reveal: To help him play the part, the character is also going to be part augment but as yet this is not a feature that has come up in story.) In Gantz, the character had to wear these ridiculous alien suits but I figured the design actually could work for a future setting of Trek where thinner fabrics could be designed with strength and durability. In my own mind, said suit is probably not as protective as the armour sported by the others but Ryuu depends on agility and speed so for him the pay offs out weigh the cons.

The hope of course is to show a little sci-fi tech with a Trek flavour but also that has a certain feel to it that makes it feel at home within the Border Patrol Service. Not all of the ships in the Dogs have such fancy toys (McGregor looks on enviously – and thinks how he might procure them not quite through the proper channels) but this hopefully sets up the Osprey as one of the Border Patrol’s ships of the line, which is one reason why it has so many officers of rank on board, which is not the case on other Border Patrol ships. These are all little details that fill my head you see, so the blog gives me the chance to share what might otherwise remain unknown. 😛

You’ll note a few call outs to my stories – Falcon and Kestrel all get a mention as team names and of course all fitting to the ship’s Osprey name. I guess if you’re going to have meme for your hero ship names you may as well embrace and run with it. If you keep a careful eye you’ll note a few other shout outs and hints that link these stories as well. Faraday-Thatcher as a surname hints at Mercy’s ancestry – a certain fiery engineer and a certain rear admiral is one for starters.

Ryuu – The Little Dragon Gotta have a few bad ass characters – look at him wield his Concussive Pulse Rifle (CPR)

The opening chapter comes to an end. The gauntlet is about to be run as the ship moves in to intercept the Orion slaver. There’s a plan but will it pan out. The last words go to Hayes from Mercy. She welcomes him to the Dogs. Despite the fact that he’s been on board for a number of weeks now it seems this is the first real test of whether Gareth is going to measure up.

But Gareth’s not the only one about to face a trial here…

Thoughts and Reflections

To my own mind, I think the opener serves its purpose to give quick broad strokes of some of the main ensemble and the emphasis on Mercy is intended and I think it helps give a better impression of who this woman is. It is different to how the captain characters of McGregor and Cyste Ryaenn made their entrance into their stories. There rumour, speculation and inference all hint to their characters and in their actual ‘onscreen’ introduction you either agree or disagree with some of those conclusions. Here, with Mercy, you are forming opinions based on how she presents herself. It is actually quite a different approach for me. I think it works to show a character with a number of facet and one who is not entirely fitting to a hero mould but someone who could fit that role for the reader for sure.

The remainder of the cast are mere background seemingly and they do indeed appear against a backdrop of setting the scene and some exposition of the ship and region. I don’t think they get short shrift and the story telling devise here requires that things truck along quickly.

If anything, there’s a nagging doubt that some of the characters are on appearance sakes, bad ass for the sake of being bad ass. Mitch and Ryuu in particular are wary suspects in this regard. However, Mitch is an experienced hand so he should come off as fairly bad ass. As for Ryuu, well he’s the possible weak link but we see he gets a focus in the third chapter of the story, Little Dragon, where hopefully he might prove he merits this presentation.

Next time…

Apologies, this review is obviously longer than I intended but that’s just for starters and to offer an overview on the story.

In my next story review and discussion, we will treat chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 at least. Thanks for reading. Obviously, please feel free to share your thoughts.

Did the chapter and story setting fit my intentions in your opinion? What did you think? Were some details too much? Were others too scant? Is Gareth getting a raw deal? Is Ryuu bad ass? Is Mercy a fair captain? These and more, please offer comment.
Meantime, boldly reading, boldly writing, boldly reviewing …cropped-Miranda-Fave-header2.jpg

 

 

Jul 28

From the Watchtower: Introducing Star Station Hope

Star Station Hope. Watchtower.

Watchtower Title Image copy

In another ‘From the Watchtower’ post we look at Star Station Hope, known as Watchtower. It forms the centre of the Watchtower Universe stories and of course in-universe serves as the central hub of commerce, politics and Federation control in the difficult region of space. Star Stations are the Border Patrol Service versions of Space Stations but have a focused purpose on serving the Border Patrol remit of maintaining, policing and protecting borders. Star Station Hope serves a region of space that borders on Tzenkethi space, Cardassian space, free borderlands and near to Breen space and an emerging border with the Klingons.

‘Dynamite’ Tanner

Commanded by Commodore Tekesha Nancy Tanner – TNT or Dynamite Tanner as she’s fondly (or not so fondly called), the station operates as a commercial hub, a thoroughfare of civilian traffic and a cauldron of diplomatic troubles. It is the home base for the Sixth Cutter Squadron of the Border Patrol known as the ‘Sassy Sixth’ or as Tanner’s ‘Hell Hounds’. The station and the sector resources begin to have a part to say in the Cardassian relief measures post Dominion War.

The station is a virtual citadel. A stronghold for defence and offence. Tactically situated on a difficult stretch of Federation borders, it’s primed to be the front and last line of defence. This was perhaps best demonstrated during the Dominion War with acting as an operations centre for various Starfleet fleets and of course orchestrating the Border Patrol’s defence of the borders at that time. Tragically, the entrance into the War by the Breen wrongfooted many within Command, not least of which included the crew and personnel of Hope who were ambushed in a pre-emptive strike designed to stop the station acting as a signal to the Breen attack on Earth. The station was badly damaged and lost many lives that day.

Watchtower Welcome to HopeApart from its role as a centre of military might, Hope acts as a diplomatic centre. The diplomatic relations often reflected the fractured and fractious relations within the region. Especially now in the tense post-War days, with measures of Cardassian relief met with openly hostile reactions, whilst overtures by the Breen are met with suspicion and fear. Amidst this all, there are the age old hatreds and lines of drawn blood between Cardassian and Bajroan, Klingon and Romulan and the ever lurking threat from the Tzenkethi Autocracy and the marauding Kzinti clans.

Star Station Hope is also a home for many civilians and for many of the cutter personnel. It’s a place of hospitality, rest, business and opportunity. That makes it a place of romance, family and business. Loves, lives and lies.

The cast of Watchtower:

Given the in-universe scope of the Watchtower series, Hope Station’s size and the interchangeable nature of personnel within the Border Service, the sheer number of possible characters and crossovers is potentially staggering. We will for example see characters from Osprey and The Aegolius Harrier appear on the station and the implications of their stories having a direct impact.

From the outset, I do want to create a sense of a massive station in space, however, story telling can sometimes dictate the number of characters and the level of attention characters can receive. In this first episode of Star Station Hope: Welcome to Hope we get introduced a host of characters, many of whom are destined to play a larger role in the story and stories to come. Since the intention is to explore the political angles and wider scale stories affecting my Watchtowerverse, many of the depicted characters are top tier officers serving Watchtower. Likewise, many others will be diplomats or ambassadors for other nations to bring political drama to the stories and conflict in personalities, ambitions and politics. However, it wouldn’t be a Miranda Fave story without a smattering of lower decks characters populating the story. Additionally, given the static setting of Hope Station and emulating Deep Space Nine, there are also civilians featuring as characters within the story. For that reason, you’ll see The Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán and the Étoile Cheval show up at some juncture too on the station.

The setting will allow for the exploration of family members of characters an interesting and new facet for me to explore and play with. Central to Hope Station’s story is the family of Captain Paul Hanna, the commanding officer of the station with overall concern to do with the station, leaving command of the sector and the cutter squadron to Tekesha Tanner. Paul’s family is returning to Hope Station following the trauma of the Dominion War. Hanna’s fractious marriage difficulties will parallel the difficulty of fostering peace with the ambassadors of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.

List of characters:

Border Patrol Service Personnel

Command staff
  • Commodore Tekesha Nancy Tanner- commanding officer Star Station Hope, Sixth Cutter Squadron and Watchtower Sector XXX 954
  • Captain Paul Graham – command duties Star Station Hope (second in command)
  • Commander Catherine Reddick – Operations
  • Parkash – CMO Hope Station (Grazerite)
  • Lt. Commander Jari Hakim – station chief of security
  • Lt. Commander Lori Taftner – flight operations deck commander and Valkryie squadron pilot leader; CAG (Betazoid)
  • Commander Grem’waal – Intelligence officer – (Lyrafi)
  • Commander Takeish Rong – director sector operational control (Arkenite)
  • Lt. Petra Azimuth – senior security chief | tactical officer | intelligence officer (Vulcan/Romulan)
  • Commander Kazan – navigational control sector – navigation – communications network (Zaldan)
  • Lt. Commander Naanthiel’thbek  – Docking Harbour Control (Andorian)
  • Chief Eli Gordon
  • Lt. Yara – Commodore’s aide (Vulcan)
Crew
  • Mister Hujgh – a flight deck officer
  • Pettty officer Gorgon – docking control (Ariolo)
  • Ensign BeCa Sweee – (Saurian)
  • Ensign Jackson Jon Deleaney – diplomatic corp
  • Engineering technicians Darren and Warren
  • Security officer – Gabrielle Santiago
  • Security officer – Tobias O’Conner – troubled officer
  • Security officer – Meglar
  • Security officer – Quint – a security team leader
  • Security officer – Rari Akbar – Ensign – Betazoid
  • Security officer – Graga – Chief Petty Officer  (Skorr)
  • Chief Meeare Ashap – shipyard refit chief (Caitian)
Diplomatic representatives:
  • Ambassador Leyun (Vulcan) – Federation Ambassador
  • Minister Jukhem – Cardassian minister
  • Mr Riv – Tellarite homeworld representative – male
  • Ambassador Ter’yon – Romulan – female
  • Ambassador K’Taya – Klingon – female
  • Representative Hilix – Ariolo – female
  • Ambassador Anaik – Rigelian – female
  • Ambassador Drviex – Gorn – male
  • Vedek Mithras Rooun – Bajoran
  • ‘Ambassador’ Braga – Tzenkethi
Civilians:
  • Teresa Graham
  • Madison Graham
  • Tyren Graham
  • Estefenia Santiago – restaurateur – mother to security officer Gabrielle Santiago
  • Mizzur – holosuite | casino | bar owner (Bolian)
  • Gerr

Star Station Hope – levels

A diagram below shows a Regula class station. Star Station Hope is the TNG era much larger Starbase type size, with 39 decks and staffed by 5,700 crew and housing up to 4-5,000 civilians and passing traffic. The station acts as the refit yard for the Sixth Cutter Squadron and to repair stricken vessels and therefore is surrounded by a number of space hangers.

Operational and Sector Control: The Hub

The central command and control centre of Star Station Hope. A massive encompassing circular command centre, it controls station operations and direct sector control for the entire Sixth Cutter Squadron.

Operations are divided between station based departments and Sector Control departments. In the centre is the Executive Hub tier, a raised circular platform, surrounded by banks of consoles and holographic interfaces.

sheet-1“Command and control is separated into two main areas.” The operations ensign continued as she pointed to the left hand side of Central Ops. The floor plan was honeycombed with blocks of computer banks arranged into adjoining hexagonal cells staffed by teams of personnel. To the ‘front’ was a large wall of viewscreens. One acted like the traditional viewscreen on a starship, the others made up the Primary Station Status Control, dominated by a large schematic displaying in real time the station’s status, much like a master systems display screen would on starship bridges.

Swwee’s confidence grew as she turned to the details of the station’s operations. “This side is known as the Pit, in other words, Star Station Ops. Here we have environmental controls, internal security, engineering, life support, traffic and docking control, communications, etc. All matters pertaining to day to day life aboard the station.”

“Here on this side, we have Sector Control. We call it the Bullpen. From here the station co-ordinates, logs and dictates matters across the sector. That duty involves surveillance of the borders, gathering intel, co-ordinating and tracking traffic in the sector, planetary bodies, communications, sensors and sector security/defence, task and direct the 6th cutter squadron and liaise with Border Patrol central command.”

“Everything is co-ordinated through the Hub. However, in addition to the CnC we also have the war room for defence and security of the sector matters. There are of course the substations of all of the CnC stations. An expansive Operations centre, which will be your next port of call on this tour, as well as the communications centre, a dedicated suite to the subspace communications network, Space dock, Space dock engineering, Main Engineering, and the refit yard. We also have the Fabrication and Manufacturing yards as well as a cargo master and a harbour master.”

“In other words, it is a busy place.”

BeCa Swee giving new CAG Lori Taftner a tour of the Hub

Master Systems Display:Star Station Hope

Deck plan: Levels consist often of tiers of decks given the size and scope of Star Station Hope

  1. Level A: The Hub

    • Command and Control, Commodore’s Office, Briefing Room, Executive Officer’s Office, Sector Control Conference Room, Tactical Situation Ops
  2. Level B

    • Junior and Senior Officers’ Quarters, VIP/Guest Command  Officers’ Quarters, Holosuite 1, VIP Dining Room, Main Communications Array, Operations sub-control, Engineering sub-control, Auxiliary control, Emergency transporter room, Executive shuttle bay.
  3. sheet-4Level C

    • Officers’ Quarters, Officers’ Mess, Holosuites 1, 2 & 3, Upper Impulse Assembly, Main Shield Generators
    • NCO Quarters, Enlisted Crew Mess, Galley, Lower Impulse Assembly, Fusion Reactors 1-4, Impulse Engines, Transporter Room Suites 1
  4. Level D

    • Main Phaser and Fire Control, Auxiliary Control Room and Support, Engineering Support, Deuterium Storage, Fusion Reactors 5-8, Impulse Engines
    • Primary Life Support Systems, Primary Computer Core Control, Holodecks 1 and 2, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Deuterium Injectors
  5. Level E

    • Cargo Bays 1 & 2, Cargo Transporters 1 & 2, Auxiliary Sickbay, Deuterium Feed Conduits
    • Docking Control Complex, Inner Docking Control, Outer Docking Control, Navigational Computer Suite, Bay Door operational controls,
    • Upper Tiers of Inner Docking Bay and Landing Docks. Reserved for Starfleet and Border Patrol vessels
    • Flight-deck, Flight-deck control, Flight-deck prep offices, Flight-deck mess, Flight-deck launch
  6. Level F

    • Cargo Bays 3 & 4, Cargo Transporters 3 & 4, Sickbay, Chief Medical Officer’s Office, Primary Science Labs, Counsellor’s Office, Main Computer Cores P/S (Level 1), Deuterium Feed Conduits
    • Main Computer Cores P/S (Level 2), Junior Officers and Crew Quarters, Main Lounge, Secondary Science Labs, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Lateral Sensors
    • Main Sensor Array, Interconnecting Dorsal/Intermix Shaft/Turbolifts, Armoury, Holding Cells, Chief Tactical Officer’s Office, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Secondary Sensor Array
    • Brig, Transporter Suite 2 & 3, Interconnecting Dorsal/Intermix Shaft/Turbolifts, Deuterium Storage
    • Middle Tiers of Inner Docking Bay and Landing Docks. Commercial and cargo freight vessels, Custom controls
    • Secondary Flight-deck, Lower Flight-deck control, Pilot mess and training rooms, On-call suite, Secondary Flight-deck launch
  7. Level G

    • Lower Tiers of Inner Docking Bay and Landing Docks. Reserved for Civilian craft and vessels (various sizes), specially reserved diplomatic bays, Customs Controls, Embassy offices
  8. Level H: First true civilian level

    • Secondary Shuttlebay (Upper), Auxiliary Craft Maintenance 1, Cargo Bays 3-6, Cargo Transporter 3, Upper Engineering Support Area, Machine Shop, Deuterium Storage, Nacelle Power Transfer Assembly
    • Main Promenade, Civilian Quarters (and Officer Quarters with family suites), Restaurants, Main Visitors’ Centre, Library,
  9. Level I

    • Secondary Shuttlebay (Lower), Main Engineering, M/ARA Reaction Assembly, Transporter Suites 5 (civilian operations designated), Cargo Transporter 4, Nacelle Power Transfer Assembly, Nacelle Personnel Conduit
    • Main Shuttlebay (Middle), Deflector Control, Main Navigational deflector, Primary and Emergency Deflector Dish Graviton Polarity Generators, Subspace Field Distortion Generators
    • Living Quarters, Primary Systems Support Compartment, Secondary Computer Core (Level 1), Emergency Batteries, Enlisted Quarters, Secondary Communications Array
    • Forward Torpedo Launchers, Torpedo Magazines, Cargo Bays 7-9, Cargo Transporter 5, Aft Tractor Emitter, Secondary Computer Core (Level 2), Reserve Deuterium Storage
    • Main Shuttlebay (Upper), Stellar Cartography, Enlisted Quarters, Recreation Deck/Zero-G Gymnasium, Crew Lounge
    • Main Shuttlebay (Middle), Deflector Control, Main Navigational deflector, Primary and Emergency Deflector Dish Graviton Polarity Generators, Subspace Field Distortion Generators
    • Main Shuttlebay (Lower), Shuttle Maintenance 2, Shuttle Storage, Cargo Transporter 6, Living Quarters Maintenance Bay 2, Living Quarters, Tertiary Multi-purpose Laboratories, Emergency Transporter Rooms 3 & 4
    • Diplomatic suites, Diplomatic conference rooms
  10. Level J

    • Observation lounges, ‘Pod’ arteries – main thoroughfares to attached pods, Arboretum, Botanical and Zoology Labs, Aquarium, Stellar Observatory Control, Stellar Cartography Suite Complex, Science Labs (Starfleet and commercial)
    • Auxiliary Deflector Control, Aft Phaser and Torpedo Weapon Control, Aft Torpedo Launcher, Torpedo Magazine, Antimatter Injectors, Secondary Computer Core (Level 3), Gravimetric Polaron Generators
    • Maintenance Bay 1, Emergency Transporter Rooms, Enlisted Quarters
  11. Level K

    • Myriad of cargo holds and tanks accessed via specialised turbolifts and outer doors by work bee and shuttle
  12. Sub Deck A

    • Emergency Fusion Power Generators 1 & 2, Environmental System Controls, Waste Reclamation, Secondary Shield Generators, ‘The Dregs’ illegal bar
  13. Sub Deck B

    • Emergency Fusion Power Generators 3 & 4, Emergency Batteries, Antimatter Storage Tanks, Antimatter Fill Port, Emergency Gravimetric Polaron Generators, Antimatter Generator, Tractor beam Generator, Main Tractor Beam Assembly

 

Looking forward to telling the tales featuring this new and exciting addition and a central plank to the Watchtower Universe. Thanks for reading. Boldly Writing, Boldly Reading.Miranda Fave signature

Jul 27

Osprey – The Concluding Chapters Added

Osprey Cover Running the GauntletOsprey #1 — Running the Gauntlet The story concludes with a frantic chase in the midst of a storm, injured personnel, a damaged ship and a hostage situation.

Link

Osprey Cover Running the GauntletOsprey #1 — Running the Gauntlet Hayes and Faraday share a heat to heart moment. Can they make their command team partnership work? Meantime, the storm rages, questions remain and past legacies produce trust issues. Gareth Hayes has to prove himself to Mercy Faraday but if the bonds of trust are tested what remains is the true test: the Gauntlet has yet to be run …

Link

Osprey Cover Running the GauntletOsprey #1 — Running the Gauntlet

The slaves rescued, the mission for the Osprey is far from over. Caught in a massive storm within ‘The Gauntlet’ the Border Patrol Cutter Osprey must navigate the treacherous region and issues of trust arising within its ranks, as new XO Gareth Hayes settles in and poses questions. With more trouble to come…

Jul 20

From the Watchtower: Introducing the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán

From the Watchtower we introduce the ship of the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán – stories about a civilian cargo freighter crew captained by the adventurous Tabatha Katherine Chase. Ship and crew only want to make a profit but fates lands them amid the political intrigues and criminal plots within the Watchtowerverse.

The Adventures of the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán tell the tales of a civilian freighter crew, captained by Tabatha – ‘don’t call me Tabby’ – Katherine Chase. The crew run into their share of scrapes and many a character and central to the action and almost a character in its own right is the ship itself the grandly named: Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán. Given Tabatha’s tastes in clothes and general behaviour, one might assume the name is purposely as preposterous as her.

Concept of the characters and series

The series was conceived to be an opportune way to explore a civilian side of the Trekverse but offering up adventure and trouble and a-plenty by basing it on a travelling cargo freighter, especially one under the command of a trouble magnet like Tabatha Chase. Since the ship would be civilian the characters had to be a more homely, yet more gritty, and bag plenty of character to make them the type of personality you could imagine would face the dangers of space on board a non-Starfleet ship, with a minimum of luxury and comfort.

Tabatha Chase

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”99%”]“I am Captain Tabatha (don’t call me Tabby) Katherine Chase, of the Corellia class Medium Endurance Freighter Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán.

Record holder of the Kessel Run. Pilot extraordinaire. The sole owner of ‘Chase Haulage and Astral Shuttle Enterprises’ – putting the zing into cargo distributzing. Honorific Queen of the Nabooshka septs and certified professor of antiquities from the Galen Institute. One part owner of the steed Icarus’ Wrath which incidentally was the Gold Cup winner last year. Duchess of the asteroid moon Zepta pi 561 in the Contar system and Rear of the Year winner 2359, Rigellia Prime. But you can call me Tabatha.”
Tabatha Chase, Adventures of the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán #1 ‘A Preposterous Prospector’[/pullquote]

Given the concept for the series and its setting,  the ship’s captain – that is master and commander or skipper, to use the parlance of civilian merchant traders – therefore had to be larger than life. Well didn’t have to be but I figured it would lend to a more colourful story and would offer a character with the potential to land the ship into all manner of trouble and hi-jinxs, since after all the stories could not rely on the visiting on an unexplored world trope (that said, I am working on a treasure hunter in the Trekverse type concept where idea this may play into it) nor could they be involved in all the big bad plots of the political machinations. The joy of creating a civilian crew within a large expanded universe, being explored in other story serials, of course was the fact it offered all those delicious complications, troubles and strife as a background setting for which to get mixed up in.

I wanted my skipper to be large and colourful and life loving but to have a mercenary edge to them as well. So for Tabatha Chase, the bottom dollar (erm credit) is the bottom dollar (erm credit or latinum bar). Or at least that’s the front she presents to us, how true it is remains to be seen. Born and bred on the borderlands, she’s feisty and tough and knowledgeable because these are the traits she needed growing up. My vision for the character was someone who could come against my Border Dog McGregor and give him a run for the money. That idea grew in my head and it was Tabatha Chase who swaggered onto the scene. That initial connection between concept and McGregor would of course last, playing out in their banter and interaction in the Multiverse Round Robin II which provided the first opportunity for them to interact. And it carried over to the reveal about the connection between McGregor and Tabatha.

Core things to know about Tabatha Chase: (what? Did her own introduction not tell you enough?) big hair, big smile, big zest for life, the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán is her love and pride and home, she’s Chase by name and by nature, a sublimely ridiculous fashion sense, and oh, big guns, cos gun it or run it is her motto.

Dale Garrow

If Tabatha Chase was an old hand (I don’t mean old Tabatha! – oops) at travelling the stars as a civvie, I needed a set of eyes that would work for the reader to help them explore this take on the Trek universe. To that end, Dale Garrow, formerly of Starfleet, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed albeit with baggage over from his dismissal from Starfleet. Garrow would serve as audience avatar and help me to put in the details of the ship and way of things by virtue of needing things explained to him. However, his lack of knowledge would play into his naive attitude and completely unprepared nature for the scrapes the Rabbit gets into.

First Mate Bora

Bora

Pitted against this, I needed a seasoned hand to be Tabatha’s XO – I mean first mate. Bora fits that mantle well. In contrast to Tabatha, he’s more serious though not necessarily dour (even if Tabatha teases him sometimes so). He’s more wary about the deals they make and the choices Tabatha takes. His motto is bring plenty of fire power into a negotiation and to always expect trouble – I think it comes from being around Chase too long. However, he also acts as a grounding figure for Chase, providing a link to her past as the brother of her one time lover who was killed. It lends a certain perspective to Chase and shows that under all that bluster there is a woman capable of love and loyalty.

Meetra Ros

Meetra Ros is a Caitian cos well I wanted a Caitain but also I wanted a sweet little dove to be the navigational whiz, cook and many other part jobs that she does. Her inclusion helps to lend the rather motley, ramshackle nature of the merchant business. It takes all sorts and not necessarily the meanest and toughest – after all – many of those folk are bound to find more violent means of employment. Meetra also helps to lend a familial feel to the boat – again that is ship in merchant trader parlance. Her sweet, trusting and kind nature in contrast to the others but serving to bring out their softer sides as well. Additionally, she’s sweet and hot and adds a certain spice to the proceedings for Dale Garrow – and maybe Bora.

Ellioh Hex

I also like me a character who pushes the limits and adds a complexity to how they need to be written. A Trill usually fits the bill then in that case. However, the character of Ellioh Hex is more than that as he is a young man subsumed by the centuries of lifetimes of his forced upon him symbiont. As a host, Ellioh lost much of himself to the overwhelming memories of the Hex symbiont. It’s a tragic turn that offers a chance to explore an eccentric and heartbreaking figure. Hex also provides another important link to Chase’s past, appearing in Chase by Name. Chase by Nature  as Meara the engineering partner who took Tabtaha in when she stowed away on board her ship. Where Meara took Chase in and was like an adoptive mother to her, the roles are reversed when the Hex symbiont is placed in Ellioh, and it is on Tabatha to protect and look over Hex now.

Nesquith

Rounding out the crew, we have Nesquith. A rather uncouth, coarse, selfish and greedy bugger. He’s not pleasant to look at or be around. But he has a charm all of his own. Er maybe not. However, Nesquith stands to show that perhaps in order to survive on the border you may have to think only for yourself.

Dr. Ajshae & Braham Oses

Lastly, to help add to the mix and the mayhem, the ship acquires two mysterious passengers just before all trouble breaks loose. A Vulcan woman who identifies herself as Dr. Ajshae is in short one hard Vulcan bitch. And a very lethal one at that who demonstrates an uncanny ability to kill and carries with her a sabre weapon. She’s dangerous obviously but what her agenda is – is not so obvious. Who or what is she working for? And why is she interested in the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán? … And a doctor of what exactly?

The other passenger, Oses Braham, is a Cardassian male. He seems far more genial than Ajshae but again their joint agenda is unclear. And just why is a Cardassian (especially in dangerous times such as these) be doing travelling around with a Vulcan. A Vulcan and a Cardassian walk into a bar … what’s the punchline?

Others

The bumbling proud warrior Merk

And by virtue of writing in this gritty colourful merchant trader side of the Trek universe and by virtue of writing in a shared expanded universe, there’s a raft of other colourful characters that the crew are going to meet. In Way of the Blade we are introduced to a Klingon odd-couple pair.

Merk

Yet to be introduced in the Way of the Blade tale is the character of Merk a bumbling Klingon, more oaf than warrior. Merk is a potential new crew hand to the ship as Tabatha gets embroiled in a blood oath and a treasure hunt. Part of that hunt will rely on the less than stellar antics of Merk who really wants to prove himself as a mighty warrior but other than his breath, he’s unlikely to fell too many enemies.

There’ll be a host of others that they’ll meet along the way. The good, the bad, the ugly. As well as featuring casts, characters and/or settings from the other Watchtower Universe tales. That’ll include bounty hunter Bex Knight and dread of dreads for a freighter captain, those dogged Border Dogs of the Osprey.

In addition, TheLoneRedShirt provides John Colt and his merry lot from the crew of the Eschaton (it seems all trader merchants get drunk when they name their ships) and Chase also makes an appearance in TLR’s Rock Jockeys: “Gold-Plated Trouble”.


Concept for the ship

Obviously, being a civilian crew and ship, the design had to be something different and non-Starfleet, especially since the intention was to explore Star Trek from a more rustic, gritty, down and dirty, civilian perspective. To that end, I needed a design that was not Starfleet, suitably different but … not too different. Therefore, in the best tradition of creativity, I stole ship designs from other popular science fiction settings.

The Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán therefore came from, of all things, the stable of the Star Wars universe. The ship design selected was the Consular class and with the creative zing of fellow fanfic author TheLoneRedshirt the following details were imagined and dreamed up for the class.

Corellia Class [based on the Consular Class from Star Wars]
561px-RepFrig_multiview.jpg

RepublicC70Frigate-TCW.jpg
General Information
Crew: 6 – 18, Passengers: 20 in standard configuration, 100-person evacuation limit
Classification: Medium Endurance Freighter
Planet of Origin: Denobula – Jishnul Industries Shipyards
Production Start Date: 2270 (Mark I)
Production End Date: 2355 (Mark IV)
Dimensions
Length: 115 meters
Beam: 42.61 meters
Height: 27.3 meters (not including antennae array)
Decks: 4 habitable
Deck Layout
Deck 1: Flight deck, Comm station, access to gun turrets/ dorsal airlock.
Deck 2: Main deck – Ship’s Galley / Mess / Lounge, Captain’s quarters, crew berths, Sick bay..
Deck 3: Engineering, Main cargo deck, Engineer’s quarters, Additional berths.
Deck 4: Half deck for additional cargo areas and ship systems, Landing struts, Deuterium storage, access to gun turret, ventral airlock.

Cutaway diagram of the Endurance Medium Freighter Class

Mass
Empty: 379,500 lbs
Max Takeoff: 705,000 lbs
Max Payload: 314,500 lbs
Defensive Systems & Weaponry
Standard Navigational Deflectors. Optional Defensive Shield System.
Standard Duranium Single Hull (Mk I-III), Duranium/Tritanium Hull (Mk. IV)*
Standard Level Structural Integrity Field
Weapons: Varied – Standard version is unarmed. Options include: Point defense lasers and Tri-quad-phaser mounts. Owners have been known to adds additional weaponry such as Merculite missile launchers, particle-beam emitters, ion cannons, disruptors and rail-guns. (Note: Jishnul Industries, Inc. does not condone the addition of illegal weaponry to any spacecraft.)
* Many owners add Endurium or Carbonite plating to their vessels for increased protection.

Power Plants
One 650 plus Cochrane warp core (Mark I-III), 1000 Cochrane warp core (Mark IV)
One Quantor-Flux Fusion Reactor
Drive Systems
Two Long-Voltrans Tri-Arc Warp Field Generators
3 Dyne 577 Radial Atomizer Engines (Sublight)
8 Ventral/ 3 aft thrust vector exhausts (Atmospheric Flight)
42 RCS Thrusters
Performance
Atmospheric flight: 900 kph
Sublight: .75c without relativistic distortion
Normal Cruise : Warp 6
Maximum Cruise : Warp 8
Emergency : Warp 8.3 (for 9 hours)
(Note: Some modified ships have reportedly reached Warp 9. However, this speed exceeds the rated structural integrity fields and is considered highly unsafe.)


Refit Cycle
Minor: 18 months
Standard: 5 years
Major: 25 years
Expected hull life: 125 years
Auxiliary/Support Craft
None standard – owner provided
The cargo bay is designed to handle one smallcraft, plus there is an external docking port on the engineering section.
4 Escape pods
Forward cargo pod can detach and serve as an emergency landing craft (one-time use).
Other
Computer Core: Standard – Daystom Mk VIII, Optional – OmniSense 1000
Gravimetric cargo crane
Transporter alcove (Cargo / 2 person)
Internal cargo winches
Optional external tractor beam


Flight deck RRGSummary
The Corellia-class was developed by the Jishnul Corporation of Denobula in the late 23rd Century. During this era of rapid expansion, demand was growing for sturdy, economical and dependable transport craft to ferry cargo to the far-flung systems of the frontier. The design team addressed the ‘givens and druthers’ presented to them, prioritizing them as follows:
*A sturdy craft, capable of planetary landings (0g – 4.9g)
*Modular components, providing flexibility of lading/repair and replacement
*A proven warp drive, with redundancy in key systems.
*Affordable to purchase, operate and maintain.
*Ability to operate with a small crew
*Easily upgraded by the owner.
The Corellia prototype was built in 2268 and put through a demanding series of tests. Though the marketing division was under-whelmed with the ship’s less than graceful lines, they developed a successful advertisement campaign based on the phrase: “Beauty fades but toughness endures.”
Production began in 2270 and continued all the way to 2355 when the final Mark IV model was produced.
The Corellia-class Medium Endurance Freighter met and exceeded its design specifications, becoming one of the most popular transports of the late 23rd / early 24th centuries. This class ship can be configured as a Deuterium tanker, Grain hauler, Medical ship, Passenger transport, Patrol frigate, and Courier. The vast majority of these ships were fitted as General Cargo Carriers. Most of the ships were sold to Corporations in the Federation. As these were retired, they were purchased second-hand by myriad private interests. Starfleet purchased two as training vessels. It has been rumored that the Maquis have acquired at least four of these vessels.
In spite of a few notable short-comings (inadequate standard computer cores and cramped personnel space, to name two) they are immensely popular with their crews. Even in the 2370’s many of these ships continue to operate; almost all are heavily modified by their owners with unique paint jobs and upgrades in defences and engine performance. It is a given that no two Corellias are exactly alike, though their distinctive silhouette makes them easy to spot.
Specifications from Wookieepedia, Miranda Fave and The Lone Redshirt with Trekno-babble derived from the Advanced Starship Design Bureau and compiled by CamSPD.
Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán (created by Miranda Fave)
The Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán ship’s master is Tabatha Chase. Chase heavily modified her Corellia class. It is heavily armed and pushed to its limits in order to make greater profit margins. The ship comes in a rust red hull sporting numerous mounted weapons turrets.
The Eschaton (created by The Lone Redshirt)
The Eschaton ship’s master is John Colt. The Eschaton has a blue livery, though not as heavily armed as the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán the ship is able to defend itself.
Both captains share a ‘friendly’ business rivalry and often contest the record for the ‘Kessel Run’. Stories involving the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán will often make reference to John Colt or the Eschaton. A tale of the Eschaton can be found here.

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