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.
[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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.