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.