Osprey #1 — Running the Gauntlet

Osprey Cover Running the GauntletOsprey #1 — Running the Gauntlet

Tracking an Orion slaver in ‘The Gauntlet’, a treacherous region of space, the Border Patrol Cutter Osprey must mount a daring rescue and interdiction mission before it is hit by a deadly storm front. There’s a reason it’s called running the Gauntlet.

From the Watchtower: Introducing the Osprey

From the WatchtowerFrom the Watchtower we introduce the Border Patrol Cutter Osprey commanded by Captain Mercy Faraday-Thatcher, operating out of Star Station Hope, serving in the Sixth Cutter squadron. Its stories propel it into the thick of the action on the contentious and politically dynamite borders of the Watchtowerverse.

Osprey features the actions of this border patrol cutter. As part of the Sassy Sixth, it has done its fair share to help that particular squadron earn its reputation as fierce protectors of the space lanes through tough posturing and swift action. No wonder they’ve earned the name the Sassy Sixth. The squadron is also known as Tanner’s ‘Hell Hounds’ as they are commanded by Commodore Tekesha Nancy Tanner, a hard task master who expects the very best from her cutters.

Originally I wanted to explore a civilian aspect of a post Dominion War universe in what became the Watchtower Universe based on the shared Eleventh Fleet universe. However, as the stories of the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán and the Étoile Cheval developed, I found I wanted in on the Starfleet side of the story mechanics. Hence I created the Aegolius Harrier to explore the relief mission into Cardassia.

However, I’m a Border Dog, and I rather enjoy that aspect and niche of the Star Trek universe. Given the delicate balance of power dynamics in a post-War situation, I figured there were lots of story telling opportunities to be explored in an episodic manner from a Border Patrol perspective. So before long, I wanted to play with a Border Patrol vessel crew. I also wanted something a little different to my Kestrel story, so I conceived of a new crew as well as envisioning a larger playing field by creating the Watchtower hub for the Border Patrol squadron.

Captained by Mercy Faraday-Thatcher, I wanted someone who was different to McGregor. She’s fierce and despite her name, she shows little Mercy to those who stand in her way. However, Mercy is more glaringly idealistic, she wears her feelings on her sleeve but is softer and has a certain maternal aspect to her. In addition to this, she’s religious and believes in a God – whereas McGregor believes he is a god!

Oh and yes, if you’re a reader of my stories you’ll recognise something about her surname. It shares Faraday with the name of a certain Rear-Admiral in Kestrel (he’s her Daddy) and Thatcher is one of the surnames of the NX era Falcon’s engineer, Amelia DeWitt-Thatcher (who is Mercy’s ancestor). Hey, if you’re going to play in larger world you may as well allow yourself a few continuity nods.

(Likewise, I’ve given into my muse and renamed the ship from originally planned. To begin with, it was going to be called Cheiron, but I opted to go with my Birds of Prey theme that runs through the naming of most of my star starships.)

Another difference I envisioned for the Osprey crew is that they have a relatively new Executive Officer, Commander Gareth Hayes. In a fish out of water trope, the new XO is coming over from Starfleet and is getting his feet wet with the Border Patrol. This allows him to be a reader avatar in some guises to explain novel concepts. However, it also added a certain friction between captain and XO to contrast with the years old working partnership between McGregor and Molly (albeit there’s often a certain friction between them too!). Hayes is tactically minded and seems to be of the belief that he’s going to find the Dogs an easy switch. Hayes little realises he has to try and find a means of getting on with Mercy who is rather protective of her crew and reluctant to let just anyone in.

The Crew of the Osprey

Captain Mercy Faraday Thatcher — Regina King

Captain Faraday is a born and bred officer of the Border Patrol Service. Her family line can trace members in the branch back to the very inception of the branch; her ancestor is the noted and notorious Eliza DeWitt Thatcher of one of the founding vessels of the Border Service. She has the service in her blood and is fiercely proud of her lineage and the work of the Border Patrol Service. This does mean that Faraday sometimes carries an attitude when it comes to dealing with those from the Fleet, especially its ‘brass’. However, despite her pride, she will always recognise the skilled, capable and brave officers she does meet and where possible recruits them to her ship.

The Captain may be Mercy by name but she has a hard as nails reputation that means she is far from merciful in nature. She is forthright and plain speaking honest person who often speaks through actions and harsh words. Mercy brokers no arguments and does not back down. She rules her ‘seas’ with a firm hand yet maternal hand. However, she is fiercely protective of her charges – both the crew and the inhabitants of the worlds that fall into her patrol route.

Commander Gareth Hayes — Shane West

Commander Hayes is only a recent transfer to the ship, coming to us from the main Starfleet branch. The XO is ambitious but cool headed. Hayes appears to be genial though somewhat serious. He has shown some discomfort getting use to the rigours and ways of the Border Dogs. He is extremely capable and very committed to his role as the ship’s executive officer, even if he feels cut out from making decisions on the ship, knowing that Faraday does not trust him yet.

Lt. Commander T’Renna — Emily Deschanel

The Lieutenant is a typical Vulcan – serious, intelligent and logical. However, as with any Vulcan there is more to her than meets the eye. She is for all of her Vulcan composure concerned and protective of the younger crew members. Her choice to serve in the Border Patrol Service has always been a mystery; however, there is no doubting her commitment to her job or her skill at performing her duties.

Lt. Commander Leann Mbeke — Tamala Jones

Captain Faraday handpicked Mbeke to become the ship’s head of security after the Lt. Commander carried out a thorough investigation into the crew following suspicion that a crewmember was an informant to the Maquis. Despite Mbeke’s putting several noses out of joint in the course of her investigation, Captain Faraday was impressed by the conduct and detail of her investigation. Leann is a passionate woman, often larger than life in social circumstances but in a professional capacity is all business and thrives on details, assembling clues and sifting through evidence or interrogating suspects.

Lt. Commander Jaara ‘Plugs’ Torel — Connie Nielson

The chief engineer is a kind and patient Trill with a strong maternal instinct and very protective of her charges and the ship. This stems from her joined status and numerous lifetimes as a mother. Kindly, Jaara works in a mentor style fashion, encouraging her charges and keeping a calm engineering section. ‘There’s enough things down here that can get over heated without the chief being one of them’ being her adage.

CMO Lionel ‘Suthy’

CMO Lionel ‘Suthy’ Sutherland — Ted Danson               

A kindly doctor, with more words of advice to dispense than medicine, he can sometimes over step his mark but always with good intentions. He often stands up to Mercy when she gets too involved in a case. Equally he can be the match to her powder keg, wanting to save lives and protect the vulnerable no matter the cost. A onetime high standing figure in Starfleet Medical, his contentious stands and argumentative nature with the bureaucracy led him out into the field again. He sought to work with the Border Patrol Service in order to bring medicine and care to the wild frontiers.

Master Chief Petty Officer Mitch Duncannon — Hugh Dillion

As Chief of the Boat, Mitch Duncannon reserves the respect and trust of enlisted and commissioned crewmembers alike. He is solemn often but cracks many jokes and makes light banter to lighten serious moods and reassure the younger crewmembers. He often takes them under his protective and guiding wing, showing them the ropes, regardless of their rank, division or commission. He is the respected and trusted ear of the Captain who places her faith in him and him in her.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Shelly ‘Sparks’ Logan — Lucy Lawless

This NCO is a light-hearted, joyous soul, always ready with a quick remark but equally serious when it comes to getting down to business. She abuses the non-commissioned status of her rank to be frank and less than formal, but never unprofessional. She always has an ear for what is happening among the crew and often helps to step in and fix personal problems and not just engineering ones. Logan is a strong and cool-headed leader, stepping in many a fray with composure and assurance.

Petty Officer Se’yut Manyu — Laz Alonso

Initially, Se’yut might be mistaken for being gruff and uncouth, but the Cameroe PO is just plain and simple. Manyu is fiercely loyal to his captain and feels bonded to her by a vow of the forest. He joined the crew as an enlisted officer after the Border Patrol chased rogue Kzinti clans away from his world. Among those who saved Manyu’s clan was a young and fierce officer of the name Mercy Faraday. Manyu pledged a forest vow to serve Mercy for her bravery in saving his people. He brought his keen forest hunter skills to his job and excelled in tracking and chasing down targets. Hearty and loud, Manyu is a popular figure among the crew.

Corpsman Ryuu Sora Takeshi —  Ninomiya Kazunari

Ryuu Takeshi enlisted at the earliest age to the Border Service, attending the Andorian AnKorr Training Academy. Here Ryuu underwent intensive training, specialising in combat which he excelled in. Though unassuming in stature, Ryuu is lithe, lightning fast and lethal. He was assigned to the Osprey upon graduation. Ryuu is often petulant and moody but in truth the young man is grieving the loss of his family and has much anger to handle. Serving in the Border Patrol has given him a purpose and a focus for his anger and he has flourished under the tutelage of Mitch Duncannon. He continues to prove himself to be a promising officer with uncanny skills. There are worries that he is often reckless and despite focusing his rage into his work, his lethal skills are an expression of the hurt that he feels and the revenge he thirsts for.

Ryuu – The Little Dragon

The Ship

Griffin class, model design by KevinL

The other big difference is the setting in more ways than one. In one sense, the Kestrel feels very isolated on its stretch, whereas the Osprey is part of a defined larger support network. However, in addition to that, the Osprey is new and powerful, a modern and specialised vessel developed specifically for Border Patrol operations, unlike the Kestrel, which as a Miranda class is the old work horse ‘Ford pick-up’ of Starfleet.

Given that writing in Watchtower is based in a later time frame to Kestrel, I needed and wanted scope to have a different kind of vessel and obviously one more modern and fitting to a post Dominion War timeframe. It would also serve to help differentiate this cutter from my Kestrel. The ship’s design and origin once more owes allegiance to the grand master of all things Border Patrol, TheLoneRedShirt. It was he who found and suggested the Griffin class as a Border Patrol cutter. The Griffin class is based on the Valkryie model design of KevinL. TLR envisioned it as a vessel for the Border Patrol and as the star of his Dragon’s Slayd story. In that vision, the ship was actually a pre-cursor to the Intrepid class paving the way for its unique design. Here are the details as outlined by TheLoneRedShirt:

Griffin – Class Deep Space Cutter
The Griffin – class was originally developed in the 2340’s as a perimeter action vessel, designed to escort larger task forces and protect the capitol ships. However, the need for perimeter action ships waned, so the Griffins were attached to the Border Service where their range and speed proved valuable in the sparsely populated space lanes. Unlike the Alabacore – class, the Griffins did not rely on the system of Star Stations for support. Instead, these deep space cutters would remain on station for weeks, even months at a time without the need for resupply. Similar in appearance to the newer Intrepid-class starships, the Griffin-class introduced the elongated primary hull that has become more prominent in contemporary starship design. These cutters are speedy and well-armed, providing a valuable counter to pirates and smugglers who frequented the interstellar void. By 2377, seventeen of the ships remain in service.

Specs: 720,000 metric tons, Crew: 200+, Type X phaser arrays, Twin forward/single aft torpedo launchers, Maximum speed: Warp 9.5, Smallcraft: 2 Star Stallions / 4 Type 8 Shuttlecraft / 4 Type 9 Shuttlecraft / 1 Workbee
Taken from United Trek forum as posted by TheLoneRedshirt


The ship however in my own personal canon in its present incarnation is an updated redesign, incorporating many new technologies that were test bedded and embedded in the Intrepid class. Both classes were designed at the same time, sharing design briefs and many technological advances. This was because the Border Patrol had lobbied hard for the funding for a specialised larger vessel, rather than inheriting older sometimes obsolete vessels no longer of use to Starfleet. The Griffon, or Gryffon as I prefer to call it, therefore was designed a joint venture, exploring new technologies suited to many of the specific duties required of it in the Border Patrol. All of which helps to explain why the Intrepid is such a plucky, hard and resolute vessel as exemplified by the exploits of Voyager (it had Border Patrol blood and sweat poured into it).

As well as bringing durability to the table, the ship is outfitted with a top of the line sensor suite, with a specialised sensor pod atop of the vessel, helping the class to navigate treacherous regions of space, to carry our search and rescue missions, and to keep a constant vigil on Federation borders as well as being able to track criminal activity.

Additionally, the ship houses two separate launch bays to help utilise SAR missions. A forward facing upper launch bay, where on an Intrepid class the captain’s galley might be located, and a lower rear facing launch bay. From these the Border Patrol craft Star Stallions may be launched at speed and retrieved quickly too. The scope also permits for small craft in duress and rescued to be housed temporarily within the lower shuttle bay.

Gryffon Class [based on KevinL’s Valkyrie model design]

Griffin underside. Note the additional launch bay for Star Stallion operations
General Information
Accommodation: 130 crew (32 officers, 98 enlisted), 4 guests, 500-person evacuation limit
Classification: Light Explorer/Scout
Development Project Started: 2363
Production Start Date: 2369
Production End Date: Production Halted
Expected Hull Life: 120 years
Length: 343 metres
Width: 133 metres
Height: 62 metres
Decks: 16 (Primary Hull -14, Sensor Pod – 2)
Mass: 710,000 metric tons
13 x Type-X phaser arrays
4 x Burst-fire photon torpedo tubes 
Mark 22 “Rat-trap” torpedo – When this torpedo detonates, it emits an intense electro-magnetic pulse. The goal is not to destroy a ship, but disable it. The Mark 22 is effective against civilian ships and most pirate / Maquis vessels. It is not effective against heavily shielded warships. First developed in the 2350’s, it is part of the standard load-out of all Border Service cutters (except Buoy Tenders and Warp Tugs).

Mark 88 “Pole-axe” torpedo – Due to the limitations of the Mark 22, development began in the 2360’s of a more potent warhead, capable of disabling (without destroying) larger vessels. By 2370, the prototype Mark 88 entered testing with dazzling results. Rather than an EMP burst, the Mark 88 uses a powerful ion pulse with an energy level similar to a Level 8 ion storm. Capable of disabling larger vessels, deployment was delayed by the Dominion war and torpedoes are only now becoming available for use.

Defensive Systems
Standard Shield System
Standard Duranium/Tritanium Single Hull
Standard Level Structural Integrity Field
Transporter Systems
4 x 8-person General Purpose
4 x 22-person Emergency Use
2 x Cargo
Atmospheric flight: 900 kph
Standard Cruise: Warp 7
Maximum Cruise: Warp 9.5 (for 12 hours)
Maximum Rated: Warp 9.95 (for 1 hour)

Refit Cycle
Minor: 1 year
Standard: 1 year
Major: 20 years
Auxiliary/Support Craft
1 x Aerowing-type Integrated Craft/Captain’s Yacht
1 x Type-11 Shuttlecraft
4 x Star Stallions
2 x Type-8 Shuttlecraft
4 x M1-A1 Work Bees
    1. This class of ship typically carries a magazine mix of Mark 88 “Pole-axe” torpedoes, Mark 22 “Rat-trap” torpedoes, ans Mark IX photon torpedoes.
    2. The firing chambers can be modified to fire quantum torpedoes.
    3. Much of the primary hull of the Gryffon-class is manufactured using the space frame of the Intrepid-class. Modifications were made to the stardrive section to accommodate a different nacelle structure than the Intrepid as well as a support strut on which is carried a specialized sensor pod.
    4. Other modifications include clearing out space on decks 3 and 4, enabling the Star Stallions to launch from the front of the saucer section; this design element combined decks 3 and 4 into a single double-deck, reducing the deck count of the main body from 15 to 14. The egress for the standard shuttle complement was moved to the lower aft section of the ship, on decks 13 and 14.

Specifications based on and extrapolated from details pertaining to the Intrepid class ship Advanced Starship Design Bureau and Daystrom Institute, specifics for Griffin/Gryffon class from KevinL’s Valkyrie design page, and by The Lone Redshirt and Miranda Fave and CamSPD.

The crew of the Osprey feature in their first story Running the Gauntlet.Miranda Fave signature

TToT14 Week 8 Fabulous Fanart – Osprey: Running the Gauntlet

Osprey Cover Running the Gauntlet

TToT14 Fabulous Fanart – Hunting Grounds cover created by Funngunner

Hunting Grounds cover by Funngunner

TToT14 Wk 8: A Fabulous Fanart Entry

The Bounty and The Hunter

A Hopeful Character – Character Review – TNT

From the Watchtower

Tekesha Nancy Tanner – TNT – Commodore “Dynamite” Tanner.

A character preview / review portrait

Introducing Commodore Tekesha Nancy Tanner, commanding officer of Star Station Hope and the surrounding sector of space. Known as Dynamite Tanner for her explosive outbursts, she’s the representative head of Starfleet on a contentious border of space.

Back in the Boldly Reading Blog Prompt#9 Ad Astrians were tasked to discuss writing original characters. jespah also asked us to do offer up a character review and I similarly asked people in a MeanderFave Homework to discuss their characters and I set out some of my process for character creation too. This is more a character preview than a review since Tanner is largely unannounced on the archive though has made a few appearances in the Weekly Free Writing Prompts and as a guest star in other projects under the Watchtower umbrella.

Why preview Tanner? Well, as I say, I’m previewing her and indeed the Watchtower series and it fits in with my blogging about the writing and creation of Hope Station. I happen to think that she is also an interesting character in her own right. She’s formidable, forthright, and in many ways entirely unsuited to the task she’s assigned but by sheer will and force of dominating personality, Tanner commands authority and begrudging respect.

Tanner expects things to be done in a particular way, which translates as her essentially her way. A message clearly delivered to new CAG officer, Lori Taftner, on her first day by a touring ensign.

“The Commodore wanted you to be sure just how it is it works here.” Swee’s tongue flicked out nervously after answering.
Nodding her head, Lori Taftner bowed her head forward conspiratorially and in a whisper asked, “How a station works or how her station works?”
The Saurian answered with a wry smile. “I think you’ve caught on already, Sir.”
“Please, don’t call me sir. Lt. Commander or call me Taftner but I don’t have a moustache, so drop the sir.”
Swwee seemed to be thinking what a moustache was before she formulated an answer. “Ah well then in that case Lt. Commander might I inform you that the Commodore has no aversion to being called sir but might take an aversion to any implication that she has a moustache.”

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“Look Ambassador … I don’t expect people to agree with me entirely or to do things my way, for all posturing that they should. However, I do know what is for the best for the station and the sector. It is my station and my command. This is my Watchtower and I know it and her people.

I know this region of space. I’ve toured these space lanes for years in buoy tenders, cutters, relay stations and beyond doing my job. I know the runs the pirates think they can try to make. I know the murky black spots where the Tzenkthi try to send spy probes into Federation space. I know the favoured routes of the space cruisers. I know where we are likely to see ion storms develop. I can sense from the data we gather when the Gauntlet is going to brew up a major tempest.

I know this region of space. That’s why Border Patrol Command keep me in charge. It might not seem professional to you but I get the job done and that’s what matters in a region of space like this.”


Tanner is the Commodore in charge of Star Station Hope, aka Watchtower, the hub of my Watchtower universe set stories. Watchtower is her kingdom and the sector it controls and patrols is seen by Tanner as her own fiefdom. As the Commodore she commands the station and the assigned Border Patrol cutter squadron. The ‘Sassy Sixth’ otherwise known as Tanner’s ‘Hell Hounds’ are known for their rough and tumble ways, but they operate by Tanner’s rules and dictates, and chief among those dictates is ‘get the job done’. She’s the first to ball them out when necessary but she’s the first to rush to their defence.

In her position, Tanner has to play a rather unwelcome role as diplomat. As the Federation’s highest ranking sector representative and commanding the vital role of defending and policing the Federation borders, Tanner has to contend with the diplomats and ambassadors of other powers. This means it is on her shoulders to deal with contentious inter-galactic issues and it may be on her to make the call that could tip the Federation into a war situation.

Given that the region she commands borders Tzenkthi, Breen and Cardassian territories as well as unclaimed space of the borderlands, Tanner’s in a tough position but she’s a tough nut. Is she suited to her role though? Not necessarily. After all, she’s a border dog, meaning she less inclined to speak with words when her actions can speak louder.

Tanner’s career has been about policing, patrolling a beat and, therefore, playing at politics and diplomacy is not her skill set. However, with the day to day running she is entrusted to keep the border safe and to make the calls as she sees fit.

Character Origins

Commodore Tekesha Nancy Tanner

Tanner was originally going to be a latter day Molly Cartwright or an AU Cartwright. In creating Hope Station and the wider sector controlled by Watchtower, I wanted a strong and forceful personality who was commanding and had a certain way of dealing with delicate matters. Molly Cartwright, seemed a perfect candidate for the role and in many ways would be still. However, I jettisoned that idea early on as I wanted Tanner to be harder than Molly. I was also still undecided about what future direction I wished to take with the Kestrel post Hunting Grounds and wanted Molly to have her own story there that did not need to be constrained by whatever writing I did in Watchtower. So Molly was out as thee character in charge but she ushered in the template that would become Tanner.

I still wanted Tanner to have some sort of connection to Molly however, so I rather envision that two of them were fast friends coming up through the ranks and having trained together. But the trajectory Tanner had in life meant she stayed focused on her Border Patrol career and on making it to the top, whereas Molly had her foray into the Fleet and had her careering altering incident. The two remained friends however and Tanner would have used her own considerable clout to help rescue Molly’s career.

Stern and taciturn, I wanted to give Tanner some sort of back-story and a history that perhaps suggested why she is so singularly minded. To that end, I have actually tweaked and altered my original character idea further. Tanner was conceived purposely as being human as she was first a re-imagined Molly Cartwright. Now Tanner has been made alien. She’s a Cameroe, an original species just to lend me some leeway. The look of the alien species is based on the Na’vi from Avatar (hence the Cameroe name as a nod to director Cameron). But as you can probably tell, Tanner is no tree-hugger. The Cameroe however were once a people subject to the Klingon Empire until they overthrew their shackles in a bloody uprising.

It helps too that the character of Mo’at in Avatar who then is modelled as the image to me of Tekesha is played by CCH Pounder, who would have the chops to play the formidable Tanner.

This then is the beginning of Tanner’s story. For amid the carnage of that uprising she was born and rescued by Starfleet Border Patrol. Oh no, tragic past Mary-Sue alert! Let’s not worry about that just yet because Nancy had a great childhood. As a babe she had no memory of the carnage or sadly of her parents. Orphaned on a world trying to recover from a bloody conflict, she was adopted by the retiring CMO of the cutter that helped to rescue her. Tekesha took a name native to her world and, as was the custom of the Cameroe world, took the first name of her mother (Nancy) and the surname of her father (Tanner) as her clan name. Only later did the initials TNT come in so handy giving ‘Dynamite Tanner’ her nickname.

Her past, whilst it had a tragic origin, served to inform Tanner in a number of ways. Firstly, Tekesha hero worshipped the Border Patrol, especially the fact that the captain of the cutter who saved her damned the orders and protocols to cross out of Federation jurisdiction to offer assistance to the Cameroe world. That attitude formed Tanner’s approach to ‘getting the job done’ and doing what was right by the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. The history of the Cameroe people as a subjected race also informed Tekesha’s political outlook and drove her to climb the command ladder of the Border Patrol Service in order to gain a position of authority to effect changes to help similarly oppressed peoples. She also holds a particular distaste for the Klingons and has a rather difficult relationship with anyone representing an Imperial power. So as you can imagine, Tanner gets along swimmingly with the Romulans and Cardassians in addition to her oh so sweet and cordial relations with the Klingons.

However, her issues are not confined to other powers alone. Tanner has a beef with many from Starfleet proper and it takes the charm of her executive officer, the man in charge of the smooth operation of Star Station Hope, Captain Paul Graham to soothe any ruffled feathers. Despite her protectiveness towards those under her charge, Tanner is tough and hard on them, especially the captains of her cutter squadron. In particular, she has high hopes and aspirations for Captain Mercy Faraday-Thatcher. For that reason, Tanner is all the harder on Mercy and yet affords Mercy leeway in how she deals with matters because the captain shares similar beliefs about doing the right thing. Of course, in Tanner’s book, she’s the one in charge so she can make such choices, Mercy can’t quite yet, especially since such actions only serve to cause Tanner a headache.

I’m hoping that she’s going to be a liked character obviously, despite some of her abrasive edges. Tanner’s certainly planned to be a character who is going to cause ripples on a large scale within the Watchtower universe. She is placed to play a central role in the developments ahead. I hope you enjoy Tanner when she makes her proper appearance soon. Keep your eyes peeled.Miranda Fave signature

It’s All About the Characters

In part a response to my own homework assignment and a response to TToT14 Blog prompt #4 where we’re tasked to talk about our favourite characters. And why yes, I’m stealing from kes7 dealing with these two in the one.

Of characters

My character design process is rather organic in the beginning and then latterly. There’s a middle part in assembling the story that requires a little bit of conscious tinkering and design. Usually what happens for me is that a character notion takes root, almost nearly fully formed and I expand on that. The character notion may be:

  • the picture of the character striking a particular pose
  • the character saying a particular line
  • the character facing a certain situation and giving a particular response

From there, I try to figure out a bit more about the character. I’m not a nuts and bolts person. I don’t like to figure out their birthday and all of the back-story. I merely want to have a feel for the character, their tone and voice and to somehow have something that allows me to hook into them. After all, if I can get hooked into the character, then there’s a hope a reader might also then.


With McGregor, the idea was this rather infamous, bombastic, not run of the mill captain. You know, the staple of so many fanboy fanfics. But I wanted to ground him to be partly believable – as in he could really be in command. The fact of making him a Border Dog appealed for this reason. The Dogs were rougher and less worried about niceties so a personality of McGregor’s type could exist within its ranks. Making him someone who came up the haweshole added to his rather unpolished edges. Throw in some hinted at event in his past that might excuse some of the unhinged actions and you started to have something that could work. However, to truly work, he needed to have heart of some kind, he needed to be able to win the loyalty of his crew and those higher up the command chain. More than that, he would have to be unorthodox but also produce results. Making him a sort of folk-hero among the border landers, the people who love along the borders adds to my mind the plausibility of his existence and continuing career in the Border Patrol and it suggests that his results do something for their everyday lives. And why should he care so much to make such differences to their lives? Nothing explicit has been made mention of but we are kinda hinted at the fact McGregor must have come from a border world and knows the lives of these people.

After McGregor, Molly Cartwright was more by design in that I needed an XO to keep him in check. But who and what type of personality would they be? Step forward Molls. When I decided I needed someone with experience and the savvy to put up with McGregor, Molly presented herself with beehive and scowl. So although I had a design brief she became something by an organic process. Indeed, the rest of the Kestrel ensemble developed in a similar fashion. I had roles to be filled but they started peppering it bit by bit (well quite quickly actually) and it was merely by design that I wanted interesting rough dynamics between the characters.


My T’Vel is perhaps is an exception to that in that I wanted to explore a Vulcan struggling with their emotional balance but not quite in the manner of Spock. Instead, I wanted it to be a struggle to do with events in their life rather than something borne of their heritage. T’Vel had to have some sort of reason to be ‘broken’. When the idea came to have had her suffer this horrible assault, it morphed into the idea of her having a multiple personality type problem but by virtue of Vulcan katras this was a literal multiple personality inside her head deal.

I wasn’t entirely sure of what her relationships on board the ship were going to be but it struck me that people would be protective of her, if from afar her being a Vulcan and all that. Molly and Judy immediately stepped forward as protectors for T’Vel. But what about McGregor? He had to have some cause to be so loyal to her and to shelter a potential threat to his ship on the Kestrel. That’s were it struck me then that her attack happened in connection to McGregor’s reappearance and T’Vel researching into the anomaly. However, I figured there had to be something more personal at stake for T’Vel herself and an added complication to matters. And so born was Ronak, the child product of the rape. It added new dimensions to explore and it upped the emotional imbalance T’Vel would struggle with.

Cyste Ryaenn

Ryaenn is in fact based of the character Caitlyn Ryan. This gave me a template and a back-story to work upon. Given that so much depended on the character of Caitlyn Ryan I decided that in fact Caitlyn is a part of Ryaenn’s story and vice-versa. In one reality Ryan lives and Ryaenn dies. In another, Ryaenn lives and Ryan dies. Both women have the effect of inspiring the other to survive. The reason for a change of character was because I wanted to still tell Ryan’s story of survival but I was itching to have that character in a later time frame in command of her own ship. Thus Ryaenn came into being to fit in with the universe that would become part of the Watchtower stable.

To differentiate her from Ryan, I needed to make a few necessary and appealing alterations. Firstly, I wanted to write an Andorian character after playing with AnKorr in Falcon and some bit Andorians appearing in Kestrel. A female Andorian of course was appealing enough of a premise but I added making her part Aenar to exploit the potential of her bio-electric sensibilities and it added a facet that would explain perhaps why Ryaenn survived the ministrations of her torturer. Where Ryan survives because she becomes a personal pet project of a torturer with a twisted agenda, Ryaenn lasts for so long because she because part of an experimental project.

The project allowed me to add physical problems for Ryaenn later. These physical injuries are hinted at to date but are to be a potential point of weakness for Ryaenn’s continued command as they may see her discharged as unfit for command. There are also the many issues of whether she is fit for command that may only come to light as she develops as a captain. Particularly so as she struggles working to help and protect Cardassians post Dominion War and working alongside them too in a future development.

Making her Andorian/Aenar also allowed me to shake up the usual antagonistic relationship with Cardassians usually portrayed by Bajoran or human characters. Also, by having Ryaenn part Aenar it means she may be more predisposed to being pacifist and willing to move on. However, how pacifist she can truly be given the lethal killer she became and the fact that she is much more strategic and coldly calculating in dealing with her enemies. We’ve seen that she can manipulate a situation by orchestrating a training session with Anjek in Duels that literally acted as a scolding session for any doubters on her ship to her new command.

With Ryaenn, I’m playing with the fact that her torture has made her a darker and colder person, putting her at odds with her former genteel self more at one with Aenar nature. However, I put in place characters like Ameren a fellow prisoner and loyal friend to help couch and ground Ryaenn. The organic process of story telling however has introduced in her tactical officer Lt. Anjek becoming something of a potential love interest quite unintended really.

TToT 14 WK 7 PROMPT #4:  What character do you love to write most?

All of them! Ok, so that’s an answer unlikely to be accepted I suppose. I’m going to have to decide on a character. It’s perhaps no stretch to imagine that I enjoy writing large, colourful characters. It’s because I know quite a few such personalities in real life. Despite the bravado and show of the surface, there’s often so much more to these people underneath all the show and posturing. There’s heart and compassion, or fears and doubts.

No wonder then, I write Tabatha Chase with such glee in her Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán adventures, or that I smirk when I write Ameren’s light-hearted and cocky gait in contrast to the cool fierce temperament of Cyste Ryaenn. And of course, there’s McGregor.

With that said, I love the complex, torn, disturbed or struggling with their past characters. Cardassian prisoner of war survivors trying to find a path beyond merely surviving. The Vulcan struggling to compose herself and yet find it in her heart to love her child. And the Trill swamped by the memories of symbiont past lives. These characters produce some of the more compelling and difficult writings and have often the superior story to tell.

But if I have to choose (ouch! feels Steff prodding him), then I choose McGregor. Because he’s fun. Because he’s more than he appears.  Because he can do just about anything story wise. Because he can bounce off just about any other character and demonstrated this with other peoples characters too in the various Round Robins. And because he can bounce off the motley collection of personalities built up around him in Kestrel.cropped-Miranda-Fave-header2.jpg

Twelve Trials of Triskellion 2014 – Blog Like a Boss prompt #2

Prompt 2 AKA Which story made you tear your hair out?

What is the hardest story you ever had to write? What was the easiest? And why?

Hmmm, another prompt to ponder on. Back to your pipe Data – I somehow keep expecting bubbles to come out of it in the gif. Keep watching, maybe they will.

The hardest? This is probably an easy answer – Kestrel Hunting GroundsKestrel Hunting Grounds with ship overlay

Well it is and it isn’t.

Kestrel has been a joy to write. It simply sang off the pages in so many sections. It’s filled with wit and banter, McGregor escapades and Molly Cartwright lectures. So many parts have been easy. It’s the unfinished nature of it and the fact now that I’ve stalled on the concluding parts to it. It’s into the end game territory of the story. And I want to finish it but I also want to run and hide from the end too. I want to throw the crew into another little misadventure and a few more character flashbacks and a few just for the hell of it character moments of interaction. Yet these will not serve the story proper – some perhaps are necessary but I need to work those out.

Basically, bad things are soon due to happen to characters I’ve invested in writing in. Some of the characters have these really important backstories that merit being handled correctly yet I feel the story will not properly give them resolution. And I just do not know how to properly meet those expectations and standards that I want to do for them. I’ve struggled with the ending for a long time. I’ve it roughly written now – I mean roughly. And by the ending, I mean the last frames, not the chapters or the long haul of the actual story. This though was a hard thing to do because it meant deciding on a particular ending. Up until now, I had certain avenues as to where the story could go and the direction it could take and/or end on.

I’ve known since the start that a certain character has to die but now … well … it’s just harder because I’ve gotten into these characters’ heads. I’m loathes not to make the bad things happen to them. And in my personal life, I’ve dealt with some tragedy that really brings tragic death home and it has made it very, very hard to write death and grief. It might end up being cathartic to do so but I’m naturally reluctant to step into that head space.

Kestrel has always had the advantage and the disadvantage of having a large ensemble cast. The advantage is a rich stable of characters inhabiting the one story and ship. There’s so much potential. In my head at least. Infinite diversity in infinite combination seems suited to describing the motley lot. Maybe that’s vanity on my part, but I do feel they could easily make for a regular story crew, with lots of adventures. However, the nature of Hunting Grounds is such that it has become this huge thing and it needs to be finished to allow any other developments to happen.

The disadvantage of course, is trying to hit up all of the wide array of main characters and offer their stories up. Now there’s a lot (a lot!) of background characters littering the screen too and it would be great to delve into them more. Some could warrant such exploration. But the main characters have their stories to tell first. And having an ensemble piece means it is difficult to find the time for them all. McGregor gets a lot of attention but he himself has yet to feature as a point of view character in any chapter. Likewise, Rah and Stanley have not had their moment to shine. Part of that is design. Their three stories are connecting and are planned for the latter part of the story. Yet, others like Eddie and Noah, and Sebastian and Molly, oh and Dexter have yet to give their story. There’s been a lot of set up on some of these fronts and of course finishing the story means bringing some of these to resolution.

In particular, T’Vel and her son Ronak. This is my big stumbling block. I’ve got their story worked out but I feel it needs more development and room to breathe. Yet, I’m running out of story to do it properly. Given the sensitive nature of her story, I feel a particular responsibility towards depicting and handling how T’Vel’s story pans out. There’s a lot of pain in her story and it has been an arduous task for her. I want to offer her some sort of reprieve but the healing will be long and hard. And I never promised any happy endings.

The easiest? This is probably a harder answer!

Certain stories have harder story material. The original ‘A Question of Survival’ was written in one fell swoop. It just churned out. It was hard writing and hard reading but the story itself was written in the one sitting. A few other stories have come out that way too. Heck certain chapters of difficult stories (such as Kestrel) have similarly spilled out easily. Maybe it just takes getting into the right head space to write the story.

The first Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán was a blast and a breeze to write. It perhaps did not fall out of the sky in one sitting But it was a simple short story that acted as an introduction to the Rabbit, its passengers, its crew and its master and commander Tabatha Chase.

There’s a lot to fit into such a short space with an extended action sequence to round things off. But it was a romp to write and I like to think it was a romp to read too.

Less of a romp were the other two introductions within the Watchtower Universe. The story of Étoile Cheval was just one large extended fight sequence really. Again, it was short and this time had the advantage of having a small cast involved. The only difficulty was making use of another author’s character creation but CamSPD was so open and excited by the use of her character in the story it turned out to be very easy indeed.

The Aegolius Harrier’s first two stories, Reputations and Duels were easy to write. Duels especially as I did not have to worry about the use of other people’s characters and I had the end scene visualised from the beginning. All the story before hand was directed towards building to the moment in the converted hanger by where Cyste Ryaenn duels with Anjek but delivers a powerful message to her crew and those doubting her ability to command them. Sometimes having such an image to target towards makes things easier as it helps to set tone and build towards an end. However, subsequent Harrier stories have hit a little bump. Additionally, the first story of Star Station Hope is written – but it ends on a cliffhanger and I can’t get started on the next part so I’m not doing that to my few readers. I punish them enough as is!

Lastly, any story though can be easier to write if it’s a work in progress if it receives reviews and feedback. It makes things so much more motivating and compelling for the author and it adds an urgency and vibrancy to the writing. It’s a whole other challenge of course but boys it is a thrill of a challenge it has to be said.

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Twelve Trials of Triskellion 2014 – Blog Like a Boss prompt #1

To Fic or Not to Fic?

What has Star Trek fandom — and ficcing specifically — meant to you?

The Twelve Trials of Triskellion bring forth a number of prompts for our blogging purposes. The first prompt poses a straightforward question at the nub of so much of what we do here. Despite being a straightforward question, it isn’t so straightforward to answer really. It requires a little moment to ponder on the question and consider my answer. The Trek fandom in and of itself means little to me.

:gasp: 😯 :horror:

The little corner of the fandom that is Ad Astra, however, that now means an awful, awful lot to me. It means squillions and millions. Ad Astra is a little sanctuary. A little safe place. In terms of comradeship and friends and fellow writers with a shared interest in that yet produces so many different takes and opinions and approaches to that shared interest.

When the archive first started up, little perhaps did we understand just what kind of awesome corner we becoming a part of. From being the first submission on the site (A Question of Survival – challenge version) to later one of the first members (third actual I think) of the forum, I like to think I’ve been a part of this particular community. Mind, I never expected to get bumped up to a mod and then later Admin (I’m very good at shuffling paper – but sssh, I don’t know what the paper does!). All of that stemmed from Steff going off on holidays and wanting a caretaker. Thankfully, myself and Anna Amuse didn’t blow the place up in Steff’s absence and things went on from there.

I’m not one for going to Cons and getting dressed up in my Trek costume. Firstly, there’s little opportunity to do that here. Secondly, the interest in Trek was first and foremost the stories they told via the TV or through the movies. Thirdly, I think if I went to a Con I’d probably get hooked on, so opting not to is way cheaper in the long run! As I say though, my interest has always been the stories. Trek offered an immediate and easy step into science fiction adventure. With each incarnation of Trek, I checked it out to see how it would pan out and to check out the different take it would have on the Trek universe.

However, I’m not one to get caught up in the debate or fanwars. I like to read different debates and discussions, such as on TrekBBS, but I’m put off by people with views that simply do not take into account others equally valid opinions. Perhaps this is why I love and appreciate Ad Astra because it has much more of a community feel. I know such a community feels exists in other corners of the fandom but I’m just cosy in this particular corner. Here we can have discussions and debates and even if they should get passionate and strong we can bounce back from them and remain as friends and a community. It helps that we have that particular shared interest in the fandom, the want to write within it and to read the stories of others. That binds us together.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”38%”]What it means is this: everyone – even Kirk – needs people around them. Together is better.[/pullquote]

The community of ficcing we have here is great. There’s always room for improvement of course. We all need to read and review more. We all need to write more. And as this week has demonstrated, we all need to blog more. Of course, being the people we are, we know more quantity does not mean more quality and the standards shared by folk on these boards are such that that is a primary concern.

Nevertheless, we have to strive to keep pushing our interactions because boys this place is awesome when we are sharing and collaborating with one another. Some of the most valuable feedback to be found is here among our members and many lessons to be learned as a writer. I’ve written before on fanficcing learning curves. And yes, as others have stated, here we have found friends, good friends. A lot of us have had some really rough years but this place and the people have been there for us in lots of different ways.

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From the Watchtower: The Saga Begins


Star Station Hope: Watchtower
* * *

The creed of the Border Patrol Service is a simple one:
To save lives. To protect borders. To hold the line.

* * *

Watchtower Title Image copy

On the frontier, on the edge of Federation space, standing guard, keeping a watchful vigil, sentry to the stars, a gateway to trade and diplomacy and a bulwark of safety and protection stood a station called ‘Watchtower’. Star Station Hope stood on a crossroad of borders – Breen, Tzenkthi and Cardassian – a citadel to guard and defend the Federation.

It was a bastion, a guardian, a sentry, keeping a watchful vigil on the borders to protect the Federation. It was a seat of law and order, a sheriff in the border lands, policing the space lanes, charged to protect the innocent. It was a lifeline, a lighthouse, keeping travellers safe, rescuing the distressed, lost and adrift.

To some it was called home, to others a home away from home, where enemy and ally live side by side. A place of business and diplomacy where trust was the most precious commodity, Star Station Hope was a home, a seat of Federation law and order, a beacon for peace and hope.

In the end, in its last days, it was a harbinger of the annihilation to come.

It was the line.

The line that had to be held.

The last line.

* * *