In Summary, Thralls …



Boys oh boys. Writing summaries. Hmmm, how to answer that one succinctly? Maybe a visual would assist in telling what writing a summary does to my brain:

Slight over-reaction? Perhaps, but I do hate them. Perhaps it would be best to approach a summary in light of how kes7 describes it oh so perfectly. My opinion of summaries is of course that they are important to tell the reader what the story may be about in broad strokes. The purpose is to get across the themes and the tone of the story in some manner or guise.

How do I do a summary? Badly. Very, very badly. I don’t why but I plain suck at summarising my own stories. I hate to give away the plot (why then would a person have cause to read it). I fumble and struggle to not be too heavy handed with hints about plot developments. I want to give some colour and background information in the blurb but too much is superfluous and detracts.  Yet when I try to be succinct, I feel I end up being remiss and lacking anything to sell the story.

I do marvel at the ability of other authors to write interesting and gripping story summaries. Getting the right balance is difficult. You don’t want to give away too much of the story but to offer only vague brush strokes of the story makes it too generic and may not hook a reader into sampling the story at all. Obviously, when it comes to the summaries of other authors, I want something that is interesting and gives an impression of the tone of the story. I want something that will set the story apart from all the others and not sound like it is retreading the same ole same ole in the same ole fashion. Clichés are to be avoided like the plague (oh I couldn’t resist). Oh and do more good grammar and proof chequeing of your summary. I’m no grammar nut but mistakes on the packaging of the story make me resistant to reading the story as it suggests a lack of checking the details of the story.

Summaries though are not only notoriously difficult for me to write. They are difficult for me to read too. It doesn’t help that I do tend to take a different read on things when I read a summary, blurb or teaser. I don’t exactly conjure the images intended by the author or publisher. For example:

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”95%”]Kirk and Spock struggle for their lives stranded on a planet surface. Meanwhile, with Sulu in command of the Enterprise, strange things are happening…[/pullquote]

I guess, one thing I do like to do, are the vague ominous trailer type teasers for stories, with orchestral music playing over it and lots of ominous moody lighting to go along with. Such as with my Watchtower teaser. Moody and effective I like to think, just not very informative in any way.

After reading kes7’s piece, I’m going to try and figure it as a persuasive writing exercise and approach it more consciously in that vein. Perhaps it ought to have been oblivious that that is the approach to take but gah I just hate writing summaries. Actually, after reading kes7’s piece. I’m inclined to think I’ll use her to write any summaries. Hmmm … now that might take some persuasive writing!

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Character Ingredients – A MeanderFave Homework Assignment

MeanderFaveHWHello Trisken Thralls!

Thought I would throw out a little homework assignment – a mini prompt if you will to spur on a few more blogs as part of our TToT14 Blog like a Boss adventures. Steff’s prompt what character do you love to write got me thinking about characters and recently kes7 in a recent Weekly Free Write threw out the challenge to write a totally and completely new Original Character for the prompt response.

I answered with a response there as well as attempting a blog as a character response with a developing OC personality. (there will be more to come on that fear not)

Anyway, all this original character stuff along with Steff’s prompt got me thinking and that of course is a dangerous thing for you dear bloggers (ok not really dangerous but it’s a little bit of time for you spent on otherwise free time things should you opt to respond to the homework assignment). Basically, I wondered:

      [pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”98%”]

      • What do you consider as ingredients for a character?
      • Do you begin with a sketchy outline or a cookie cutter template so to speak when you create your characters and crews? For example, do you say – I need a science officer let’s make him geeky and a buffoon with the ladies – or do you employ something a little more organic than that?
      • Do you look for traits, species, role, personality mixes with other characters when you conceive the character ideas?
      • What helps you recognise that a character is working (for you the author) within a story? Conversely, what makes you realise they don’t work or at least within a certain story context? What do you do then – jettison wholesale, rework and reshape, box and file and save for another story or day?


Answers to these questions are not necessary, they’re merely there for a little prompt or thinking on. Just share with us your creative process for creating characters or share the story of creating one of your characters or crew ensembles.

Some responses:

Blog Like a Boss: Prompt #4 PLUS Miranda Fave homework — On Characters by kes7

Miranda Fave Homework by FalseBill

It’s All About the Characters by me

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Day #7 Write a Letter

write meA 30 Day Write a Letter Challenge Response

Day 7 – To an ex

This letter required the receiver to be an ex – an ex-lover, ex-boy/girlfriend, ex-partner, basically someone who has went the way of the Dodo in terms of a relationship with the sender was my take on it.

Admittedly, this is one area I don’t particularly dwell on with my characters. I live with my characters, largely in the moment, rather labouring over the finite details of their past. Unless it is an important part of their character or backstory, their past loves don’t really come into it for me.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”45%”]Lacking the patience for Paul’s word games, Molly retorted smartly, “What do you want Paul?”

“Cutting to the chase, Molly. You’ve lost none of your edge.”

“No but I have lost the marriage certificate, so I don’t need to do the whole ‘banter’ thing.”[/pullquote]

That is save for one character – one who is not exactly the warmest or the one you’d associate with a love interest. Step forward Commander Molly Cartwright. Yes, beehive sporting, bee chewing scowl wearing Molly Cartwright has an estranged past love. Actually she has an ex-husband. The details of her being divorced from her husband, Paul, a civilian cargo freighter does indeed crop up in Hunting Grounds.

Their relationship hit the rocks for a number of reasons. Largely Molly’s career and Paul’s cargo running took them in different directions and given Paul’s willingness to just about skirt the law to do business risked them crossing one another’s paths in a bad way. So things went the way they did. I considered writing a letter from one to the other at around that time frame to explore their feelings. And it would indeed be a doozy of a letter from either one to the other. But I’m not going to do that.

Rather than imagine a past letter from one to other however, I am going to present a Kestrel spoiler. Nothing major, fret not, feel free to read on. The letter and the events it pertains to, deal with some of the fallout from Paul’s revelation to Molly about his connections to T’Hos and his attack on the Kestrel. Molly is obviously hurt by Paul’s admission as it brings up some of the issues that blighted their relationship years ago. Worse still, is she knew she would have to bring this news to McGregor and t
hat the captain would take it badly – and boys did he. It resulted in a ding-dong exchange of words between XO and Captain, especially since despite everything, Molly kept Paul’s secret long enough to give the cargo freighter a chance to escape McGregor’s clutches.

Here’s a snippet of McGregor and Molly’s exchange in that particular chapter:

[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”80%”]

“Before I go on, I want you to know that I know what Paul did was completely out of line. What I’ve done is also pretty deplorable in only telling you now.”

Adjusting his trousers, the captain shifted on the leather couch hardly paying Molly any mind. “Molly he’s a cargo hauler. I dare say he’s not the first to try to increase his profits margins by running something not quite legal. Gees where do you think me and Eddie get half of our bootleg drinks from?”

“This is a little more serious than that. He didn’t of course at the time – but afterwards he figured it out.”

“Figured what out? If this is the way you’re going to continue your conversation then I would hazard a guess and say that your marriage to Paul collapsed because of communication problems.”

“Damn it McGregor. If you keep interrupting with snide remarks, I’ll get nowhere. You know fine well what went down with Paul and me. And it certainly wasn’t a lack of communication!”

Pushing himself to his feet, McGregor demanded darkly, “Well then spit it out whatever it is. I hate being led on! You’re obviously trying to cover his ass and you’re anticipating that I’m going to go gunning for Paul when this all done and said. I probably will, but let’s spare ourselves the dramatics of beforehand and spit it out Molly!”

“Paul … Paul gave passage to T’Hos and his men to Starbase 49. They used their aliases and holographic disguises so he couldn’t have known any better.”

“Couldn’t have known any better?” McGregor asked innocently before roaring, “Couldn’t have known any better! He smuggles illegal persons onto a Federation station. In what way did he think what he was doing was in any way innocent? It’s one thing to carry bootleg but it’s another to carry illegal immigrants. It’s not a matter of shading, it’s not a matter of degrees of illegality, it’s a matter of being completely and utterly criminal! Slavers, diseased vagrants, fugitives, spies, terrorists. They fit the bill for those seeking secret passage onto a secure Federation post. Not asylum seekers or refugees. Nowhere and in no way could he have thought himself to be doing a noble thing. Nor could he think his actions were innocent or a simple money making exercise!”

“All this I know and explained to Paul!”

McGregor hurled his tumbler at the bulkhead, narrowly missing Molly as he did. It exploded in shards of glass one grazing Molly’s cheek bringing a thin line of blood to the surface as McGregor hollered, “You should have explained it to him in a brig!
Kestrel: Hunting Grounds; chapter: Second Chances [/pullquote]

[important]Here, then, is the letter and the spoiler revealing something to come in Kestrel.[/important]

Words can not… I mean … I find the words are hard to come by. That’s not even true. I’ve many, many words I want to say to you. I’ve hundreds of words. Lots of angry words. Lots of really angry, mad, frustrated and aggrieved words. I just want to scream them at you. To holler at the top of my lungs. Oh it would be bliss. It would be sublime to rant and rave into your face. I’d slap you silly and shout until I was red in the face. Literally, red in the face. You stupid, stupid man.
I’d love to shout at you – but I can’t. I’d love to slap that face of yours I once so loved – but I can’t. No more. You got yourself killed Paul. You went and got tangled up with T’Hos and his murky world. I think we both kinda knew that this was the fateful end of that stupid mistake. T’Hos was always going to hunt you down and get his own back. You ended up double crossing him and turned informant. But it was all too little and all too late. What did that do in the end? It merely confirmed many of McGregor’s notions. He lends your information more credit than I believe it warrants or deserves. I think he did that to prepare for the news of your death, to try and buy you some credit with me ahead of the news coming inevitably. McGregor too knew that your card was marked. Heck, I think that’s the only reason McGregor allowed you to run, once he discovered your part in the attack by T’Hos on the Kestrel. McGregor knew that T’Hos and his network of operatives would ferret you out and eliminate you.
I’m angry – so angry at you. I know I should direct my anger at T’Hos and his agents but no, it’s you I’m angry at. And McGregor. And Judy, and T’Vel, and the whole god dammed bloody lot. You took a gamble. You thought you saw a quick way to make money. You knew dealing with T’Hos, even before Starbase 49 was illegal and dangerous and more than stupid. You knew it and yet you risked it. You knew the type of villain T’Hos is but you were willing to do business with him. It’s like I don’t even know who you are. Were.
I knew you do be something of a rogue. I expect that of cargo freighters. It’s a tough life and you make it work by making it work. But I never ever imagined you’d collaborate with the ilk of T’Hos. You know – knew – that any business with him, no matter how superficial, mundane or even legal it might have been, only endorsed his ugly true business. Did making a quick buck mean that much to you? I can’t believe it did. I don’t want to believe it did, because I could never have loved a man who did think that, who’d willingly do that.
We were stupid, passionate, in love and probably thought there was something dangerous and exciting about falling in love and being on opposite sides of the fence – me a Border Dog back then starting out on a promising career and you and young upstart, hotshot independent trader freighter. Huh. How much more naive could we possibly have been? I guess that’s what being in the throes of love or what you felt were the throes of love does to your brain.
That’s, that’s disingenuous. I did love you. I loved you once and yes I felt an obligation and a loyalty to you enough to give you the breathing space needed to escape McGregor. Oh how I wish you could have escaped T’Hos too. Despite my anger, despite my burning rage, I did love you. And I will mourn you – in time in a more appropriate manner. But for now, I have to worry what McGregor will do. You’re one more score he has to settle with T’Hos. Ahab has his whale to catch. But you tangled with T’Hos and died despite fleeing across the quadrant. McGregor intends to chase and hunt T’Hos down. What will come of us all then?
If there’s an afterlife and you’re not getting too toasty in the fires of hell Paul, hells I’m sure married life to me was a purgatory, say a prayer for us all. I fear we will need all the prayers we can get. I’ll miss you, Paul.
Your Molly-Mai

Twelve Trials of Triskellion – Blog Like a Boss prompt #3

It’s Fighting Time Again!

TToT14 Challenge – Blog Like a Boss Prompt #3

It’s another trial another fight to the death. Ahem. I mean, another fun spirited contest entry. And here, our Overlord – I mean our kindly sweet landlady, SLWalker has tasked us to decide. Decide! Decide! Steff’s prompt was for us to choose:


With that, she’s certainly thrown down the gauntlet…

Gauntlet throwing … er …

What is Steff at? Trying to pit us against one another? Is this some kind of trial by death? Oh wait… hmmm … shoulda read the small print of the TToT14 terms and conditions. A fight to the death it is. Well, with this prompt she has set the cat among the pigeons.

Wait this ain’t right… Pick the odd one out!

Here a minute! That’s a pigeon among the cats. Oops – here this is the right one:

Ninja Kzinti

(McGregor: Rah, leave the pigeons alone!)

But like, jespahFalseBill and zeusfluff, I accept this challenge.

I will make mention of my four of the best but some honourable mentions must be made. jespah’s post response to this prompt actually is a great summation of the status of the blogs here on Ad Astra it has to be said. Zeufluff is a breath of fresh air given her newcomer status and yet has enthusiastically embraced the blogging aspect here to promote her work and share her thoughts on her stories. I’ve to give a shout to Trekfan’s Red Shirt Eulogies for the most fabulously titled blog but also a very entertaining and insightful one when he wrote it. Likewise, TemplarSora’s pieces are fantastic and TS is a great responder to many of the blog prompt’s throughout the year, meaning we get quite a fair spread of blog posts from this direction. RogueJawa is another, newcomer who is embracing the blogging sphere and does so to great effect, sharing links to other blogs part of the STO fanbase, which has been fascinating to read and catch snippets of. This is especially refreshing, because it gives a body new stuff to read potentially, particularly as I am not a big reader of blogs be they Trek or not – because sink hole of time!


Mike’s blog goes to show just how much of a tech whiz he is, as it drips kewl techie pizazz. On top of that, Mike writes a truly great meta blog on his stories and the process behind the writing. Reading his posts reveals just how conscious he is in the design and planning of his stories. He’s also an acutely aware writer when you read how he found the process and his own opinion of the stories thereafter.


SLWaker’s rambling & writin’ is as said a fantastic blog (when she writes it). Steff’s pared down to the nub of the matter writing is reflected here in her posts too and again she has this glorious ability to scrutinise and pick apart her work or collaborated work. It’s scary reading it in action it has to be said. I doubt I’m ever that conscious about my writing process it has to be said. Heck the purpose of my blog is to spur me into something of a more overt conscious approach to my writing. Not entirely working – certainly not to any prolific rate at least.


I love FalseBill’s blog posts. They are pithy and witty and colourful in thoughts and in his decorations. He’s a genuinely open and friendly guy with a fun approach to his writing universe, where it is clear on the page that he loves writing his stories and getting the chance to share them. His blog reflects that personality and it is a mini joy to read. Despite his admitted struggles with the English language, FalseBill does what a writer has to do – be brave and write. He is constantly working on honing his craft with each and every blog post. He responds to most blog prompts and if he can’t at the time he does so after the fact. Likewise, he is an active participant in the Boldly Reading Book Clubs. What I also notice about Bill is the fact he stores and squirrels away nuggets of information and character details when he reads other people’s work and that means he can recall these facts if he brings up an author or their stories in his blogs (or indeed his reviews/forum replies). That’s a truly valuable gift for FalseBill himself but more so for us authors who get these wondrous little surprises as he recalls facets of our stories. His Stolen Toys entry from last year based on my Kestrel series is testament to that.

I made mention of this in response to FalseBill’s prompt response but I think it bears repeating here too. It ought to be stated here that although the prompt is about the best trekblogger FalseBill shares with  jespah hands down the best participant on the blogs because of how involved they get. FalseBill doesn’t restrict himself to his own blog but cross links and react to other people’s blogs. Which better heads than I would comment is the very essence and purpose of blogging. Additionally, as mentioned already is his high participation rate in the prompts and boldly reading book clubs.


Mention must now go as demonstrated above to our dearest jespah. She would be one of the wiser heads that could inform you about blogging. In fact, I’m pretty sure she has! Her Barking up the Muse Tree blog is a testament to how we should and ought to be using our blogs. She promotes very cleverly her stories and series. However, she uses this opportunities to not just drop links and run. jespah explores the characters with character reviews detailing some of the character background details, her hopes and intentions with the characters from the beginning and heading into the future. These character Portrait (93) drop all relevant links into the blog so you can go straight to the story. Under her Review category there are currently (73) pieces. Many of these are her character portrait or reviews but the blogs also include reviews of her own stories. Again, she does meta reviewing of her own stories to a great degree and it is always insightful reading them. In recent times, jespah has also included linked articles as part of her blog promotion and cross linkage to drive up traffic. As I say, she clearly knows how to do this whole blogging business and it shows.

However, like FalseBill the reason she’s at the top of the pile and claims my prize is by virtue of how interactive she is with her blog. That’s the point and lesson we should learn from jespah. What makes her the best and makes her blog successful is the fact jespah gets involved in other people’s blogs, reviewing or responding to posts, cross pollinates from the forum, to the archive, to FaceBook and Twitter and beyond. More than that however, it makes it a pleasure to have jespah around and it is our good fortune to have her responding to our blogs as much as she does. It’s certainly an example to live up to for all of us.

That’s the battle contested folks, a winner crowned, until the next time, Happy Reading, Happy Reviewing, and hey in the manner of this post, Happy Blogging.

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From the Watchtower

Hello and Welcome to From the WatchtowerFrom the Watchtower’ .

This is (will be!) a series of blogs focusing on aspects of the Watchtower Universe. Wherein meta background details expanding on the world and stories of the Watchtower Universe will be explored and explained some.

These files will cover aspects such as ship designs and the make up of the Sixth Cutter Squadron and the stations, relays and outposts associated with Star Station Hope. It will also explore the character choices, character development and offer some character backgrounds to the figures that will populate this world.

These blogs are closely associated with the Writing Hope series and in that fashion will present some of my thinking and creative process to writing and building this Universe of linked stories. I welcome any comments or questions you may have about any aspect or if you would want to see explored in one of these blogs feel free to comment/ask/request away.


From the outset of creating the Watchtower Universe the goal was to explore Trek stories from a space station based setting. Much like DS9 I rather imagined it would allow for a larger, political story to unfold and allow new perspectives and story telling opportunities. However, given the size of the station and the scope of the region offered and being not constrained by budgets I opted to expand the universe by including and leaving open the possibility of a myriad of ships and stations to populate the universe and allow the wider scope without it being down to the same six or seven characters getting involved in all of the major events of the sector.

Therefore, Star Station Hope serves as the hub of stories – civilian, space station based, Border Patrol, Starfleet, Klingon, Cardassian and … and well we will have to see where it goes from there.

The series aims to cover a wide array of story types. Some will be purposely overtly political and be based on the wider galactic relations between the main powers and the power plays, moves and agendas of all those different people involved. Therefore, the commanding officer of the station, Commodore Teskesha Nancy Tanner, will have responsibilities specific to keeping the peace and determining the fate of her sector of space. This will include interacting with the diplomats, ministers and/or ambassadors from these other powers. Obviously, this will allow for some tensions and political treacheries and by virtue of having the diplomats on the station will allow for lots of interaction and on the spot troubles adding an immediacy to any conflicts, tensions or problems that arise. It will also allow for a take on the post Dominion War universe and see it through different perspectives.

I’ll be introducing the station crew and the diplomatic parties in a specific blog on the station, likewise, I’ll introduce other characters and starships featuring in the Watchtower series in their own blog posts. Lots of opportunities for some character building stories in addition to the regular adventures and scrapes of the week type stories for the characters involved, even those involved on the station story-lines. Otherwise, we have the ship based stories and characters, some you’ve met already from this universe such as the good folk of the cargo freighter Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán and their bombastic skipper Tabatha Chase. We were also introduced to the main character of the Étoile Cheval, the tough but justice minded and fair Beks Knight, a galactic tripping Bounty Hunter. And yes, there’ll be a crossover – and yes Chase will be a bounty for Beks. That should be a fun adventure.

I’ll also be expanding my little stable of Border Patrols vessels, primarily with the crew of the Cheiron who serve as part of the Sassy Sixth Cutter Squadron assigned to Star Station Hope. Their stories will be calls of the Border Dog variety but they’ll also involve some features pertaining to the universe’s political upheavals – such as the depressing state of affairs in a post war Cardassia, the emergence of a new Maquis and the Cardassian counterpoint The True Way, as well as the tensions and difficulties of working close to the Tzenkthi border, and the ambitions of rogue Klingons and the introduction of a nomadic displaced race called the Ashers who prey on the weak in order to survive.

Then there is the crew of the Aegolius Harrier. Assigned to provide assistance to the Cardassians, the Harrier crew are going to find themselves pitted against enemies unknown and unsuspecting as they try to offer aid to their former enemies and do so working alongside them on an inferior vessel.

I have other ambitions too. The possibility of a few other one shot crews of ships and stations that have featured in challenges and prompts getting their own story. I’d love also to do a Cardassian crew based story but we’ll have to wait and see. Meantime, work continues on developing the joint colony project between Starfleet and Cardassia as seen in A Legacy of Ashes (you might see a hint of a potential crossover with other aspects of the Watchtower universe there).

That’s things as they stand for now. Come back soon for more updates and information.

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Boldly Reading Bool Club #8 Celestial Fire

Boldly Reading Book Club #8 selection is CeJay’s Lower Deck Tales: Celestial Fire. Spoilers contained within.

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.
~ George Washington
Story blurb: The Talarians have launched an incursion into Federation space and Starfleet can ill-afford another conflict so soon after the devastating Dominion War. A newly elected administration led by President Noah Satie is determined not to be another victim.

Now, the outcome of this newest war may depend on the decisions made by a first-year Starfleet cadet.

I am an admitted fan of CeJay’s work. His was among the first fanfictions I ever read and so I’ve been a largely loyal reader ever since. As an author, I often think CeJay is much underrated. He doesn’t go for spectacle or gimmicks or to corner a niche market of the Trek fan fiction world. Instead, his stories are solid vehicles for character development or to tell a moral tale. As he states in his interview, CeJay likes to explore themes with his stories. In many ways, he is the summation of the Roddenberry Trek universe presenting stories with characters who believe in a better utopian vision. Yet he manages to write those kind of characters in settings and stories that challenge that – either threatening the utopia or threatening the moral fibre of the characters.

Despite the Owens character being an intellectual, from an outside perspective a stuffed shirt and an idealist, he’s man who is faced on more than one occasion with troubling decisions. Far from the maverick ruler breaker in the ilk of Kirk, Owens plays by the rules (largely – he actually breaks them more than he realises) and you know what, that makes CeJay’s job as an author way more difficult. It also lends his stories a more cerebral feel and aspect to them. He stories have tackled issues of the Prime Directive (Lower Deck Tales: Horizon Protocol and When Gods Smile), terrorism (All the sinners, saints) and the moral quandaries of using drones in war time with Lower Deck Tales: Celestial Fire.

One of his other central characters is Talza Star. She’s a horrible person and not a good fit onboard the ship at all as its new XO after a straight-laced and warm genial XO is killed off. She herself is introduced to the Eagle in a tale where she played a baddie role in many ways with an agenda that ran contrary to the ship’s mission.Star butts heads with many of the other figures that populate the Eagle and so very quickly you realise that CeJay is scrubbing away what appears at first to be a TNG veneer to his universe. Truthfully, rarely are his stories quite so TNG veneer. Instead, they have all the character shades and machinations we expect of DS9 and indeed of the shared universe CeJay writes in, United Trek.

Here in Celestial Fire again we see CeJay introducing a character seemingly filled with optimism and the spirit of Starfleet only for it to be revealed that young cadet Rhory is actually serving as an analyst for Starfleet Intelligence in deploying the the Unmanned Warp Combat Vehicles. Again, we have CeJay exploring deeper political themes but at the same time, it is serves the story rather than used as a disguised mouthpiece on political or social commentary.

There are obvious parallels with the story and today’s issues with the use of drones and targeting targets with the chance of collateral damage. In an age where the prevalence of intelligence snooping is headline grabbing we realise that in the war theatre, intelligence is all too often not so mighty and powerful and huge gaps exist where military minds appear to be making best guesses and tactical decisions. The parallels are obvious and from the beginning CeJay uses the nucleus of the Owens family on Earth watching a FedNet newscast on the topic to explore some of the issues and viewpoints. However, much the story can be seen as a moral tale, CeJay avoids trying to make a particular statement and moves the story into an examination of one young man’s choice in that style of warfare war front.

Rhory is clearly a young man with hopes and dreams and an optimistic and idealistic viewpoint of the world and what Starfleet should be. He’s been forged by his parents who argue in friendly terms or debate the issues from differing idealistic perspectives. One imagines it is a common occurrence in this family home for his parents to thrash out issues and debates over breakfast. No wonder the young man himself is shown to have an acute mind made for analysis and data mining. However, as the events in the tale spin out, Rhory is shown the consequences of decisions and tactical input. The lack of consideration for what the target’s location could be and the possibility of collateral damage is not taken into account – certainly not correctly. Rhory has the ramifications of his cold analytical choices starkly presented when a school (albeit a school training young Talarian soldiers) is hit in one such drone strike. Before hand, he’s been at a remove from the devastation wrought by the powerful weapons he is playing a role in targeting.

And isn’t that the thing however, so many of today’s technological advances allow for ‘armchair’ commands and tactical insertions. With the ability to play god in the most stark manner of handing out a death sentence through supreme fire power but at such a remove it is a scary, scary prospect. Worse, I’m not sure what the psychological scars and amounting damages to those who operate these drones are. Post traumatic stress and otherwise are more readily accepted nowadays but from those who operate on the war front. Can we believe that those who operate these drones don’t incur some sort of damage too? But to what degree is that recognised or supported?

The skill here in CeJay’s piece is to get me thinking about the individual operating or playing a part in the analysis that selects a target. It becomes about Rhory, rather than the debate itself. One is left wondering what his choices will be and at the end what the cost will be to his soul as he accepts his skills and the role he can offer in his future as a Starfleet officer. Gone are the dreams of becoming a starship captain like his cousin. Instead, Rhory accepts a darker mantle and more scarily is the fact he does so knowing the decision is going to cost him.

In many ways, I hope we see a return to the Rhory character. As I mentioned in my review, he’s a Talza Star in the making. Some point in the future of CeJay’s story telling we could be treated to seeing an older Rhory and to see how much he has changed or been damaged or whether accepting his role and mission for the better and the continued safety of the Federation is enough to fortify him.

Lastly, it has to be said, I loved the story for the fact it was a political and moral analogy, for being a great short character piece and for how it expands and adds to the wider United Trek universe. The story is feasible in-universe and speaks of the troubling nature of a sovereign the size and power of the Federation. It speaks of the troublesome, dual nature of an organisation such as Starfleet Intelligence and of course, the fact is with Mr Tweed and the padd with the answers and the AI computer VIRGIN, one never knows who is actually making these decisions. It is some nefarious committee at the top of Starfleet dictating these decisions? Is a military junta or elite that makes the command orders, thinking solely in terms of numbers and military strength and projecting fear and power? Is it the political leaders pushing an agenda and fighting an ideological cause? Or some clandestine organisation or sub-faction (such as Section 31) that holds the power? Or, is it VIRGIN itself or some powerful AI dictating terms for all of Starfleet without their knowing it? Or is it the scary fact of lowly cadets and ensigns, young keen and analytical minds without the experience of the true horrors of war making the choices that get unchecked by those higher up the command chain?

Miranda Fave HeaderBoldly Reading, Boldly Reviewing

Day #6 Write a Letter

write meA 30 Day Write a Letter Challenge Response

Day 6 – To a Stranger

Ok this one stalled me, big time. Then it occurs to me in the mode of writing letters that one of the more common letter types is the letter of complaint to a company.

Well given some of the scrapes she gets into I have to imagine that not all of Tabatha – ‘Don’t call me Tabby’ Chase’s customers are always satisfied with the experience.

And if they aren’t happy with their experience with her cargo delivery, I somehow can imagine that the follow up customer care leaves little to console.

talktotheVulcanhandThe Tabatha Chase school of customer service.

To Chase Haulage and Astral Shuttle Enterprises:

I am writing to you on the account of the fact that you are not returning any of my attempts to contact you via sub-space. That is either a sign of your impertinence or the faulty nature of your vessel. Either fact attests to the poor condition in which my cargo arrived with me. Six crates of Andellium Crystal shattered! This is deplorable! I demand a full accounting for what happened to my cargo whilst in transit under your care. My handlers on Epitus IV assured me of its good condition before being loaded onto your vessel. Not only do I want a full accounting a want – demand – a full refund for services rendered!

              Paulot Feru

Mr Feru!!!

I am most wholeheartedly hurt and offended that you would sully the good name of my Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán! To imagine that she had some part to play in the unfortunate instance of your cargo being damaged scours my soul. I enclose an image of me to demonstrate just how despondent I feel. As you can clearly see from the set of photos, I do find wearing my finest silk stockings under the comforting smooth Beskilian Wolverine furs the only way to cheer me any.

I am most, most sorry to hear that your cargo suffered damage. I can assure you that the Rabbit is fully certified, health and safety compliant and a holder of the Kessel Run record. No mean feat for any cargo freighter. Alas, your handlers on Epitus IV are – I hate to sully their names – most likely to have mishandled your cargo. It is a sad fact that Epitus IV spaceport is having much strife with its unionised workers. They are quite militant in pursuing their work rights and have recently been ‘working to rule’ which is another way of saying, they can’t give a crap and are just tossing the cargo packages into any docking cargo freighters. It would be in your interests to take the matter up with either the union dock workers association or I imagine the spacedock management would be keenly interested to hear how the workers damaged cargo due to the union action.


              Captain Tabatha Katherine Chase, XXX


To Captain Chase

Your holographic images were – ahem – quite inappropriate though very … I mean to say that it does not detract from the matter. I did as you suggested and contacted the spacedock management. Whilst they confirmed that there were indeed issues with work to rule practices, many of the issues arose after a number of startling safety incidents whilst your vessel was in port. It appears your vessel was involved in a frantic spaceport chase defying the proper protocols and law regulations.

Furthermore the conjecture from the spaceport suggests this was all part of some bet placed by yourself and another space hauler! It is this sort of behaviour and unprofessional conduct that prompted me to file my complaint with your company. This is not good enough! Simply not good enough.

              Paulot Feru


Mr Feru!!!

Let me assure you, I never ever allow myself to be caught breaking any regulations or laws. It must be some sort of misunderstanding. As for taking participating in an illegal race, I’m not a gambler but you can bet your bottom dollar the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán would win any such gamble given its record achievements and my flying skills!

Alas I fear the spacedock management do not want to own up to their mismanagement of the situation. It is a sad and sorry state of affairs when people cannot take personal responsibility for their actions. In reference to the incidents at E.IV I do recollect an encounter with a fellow cargo hauler but there was no competition. None at all.


              Captain Tabatha Katherine Chase,

              Holder of the Kessel Record and winner of the Rear of the Year.

[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”80%”]

Tabatha scowled and wagged a finger at Bora. “Ah ah. What happened at the spaceport wasn’t a gunfight. We never shot back.”

Ascending the steps up to deck two, Bora pointed out. “We did.”

“Ok, you did; but with handhelds – it was not the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán itself.”

“What?” Bora frowned at his captain. “Are you looking for plausible deniability?”

Chase winked. “I’m always looking for plausible deniability Bora. Best to be prepared.”

Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán: #2 Way of the Blade[/pullquote]

From the Watchtower …

Coming soon: From the WatchtowerFrom the Watchtower’ . A series of blogs focusing on meta and background aspects of the Watchtower Universe.


Day #5 Write a Letter

write me

A 30 Day Write a Letter Challenge Response

Day 5 – Your Dream

This one is a bit of head scratcher is it not? I mean, is it a letter to your dreams or to a dream – a dream date, a dream ideal, what? And which character then to write to said dream? All sounds a little whack does it not. So I’m going to make it even harder on myself, and write for a character who has very weird dreams – more like visions. Our dear ‘Ole Blue‘ Stanley.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]”I see only the pain of things to come, I foresee destruction, I see the shadows and the spectres, I can tell an anguish that awaits a friend, the aches and the traumas of a crewmate, I see the fates of strangers; And I see Death, Death all around, Death come to all.”[/pullquote]

Known as Mnu Subrelqui but baptised as Stanley, by McGregor because … well … he looked like a Stanley to the captain! Stanley comes from another universe. And whether it is the nature of his crossing into our universe or the nature of his home universe being, he is prone to visions which are muddled and clouded and obscure (like all the best visions) that hint to or play as ominous portents of the future.

StanleyThe closest image to Stanley in my head is the representation of Abe Sapien from Hellboy. He’s got the aquatic and surreal alien aloofness that’s befitting the character as I conceived him. So if Stan the Man were to have a play by it would be this.

Stanley’s origins are shrouded in mystery. We know he comes from another universe and in the Multiverse RR II ,we know that he was somehow able to detect the collapse of the multiverse and comprehend on some level the otric and pariotric* changes to the timeline – something that freaked jespah‘s Otra out a little (*terms coined by jespah).

We know also that he has a fondness for knitting. Doesn’t drink alcohol (save when he was in the clutches of Frank who was a bad influence!) and by dent of the first multiverse escapades somehow retained something of his time there to have developed an otherwise mysterious taste for Cardassian fish soup. He’s also very acrobatic and something of a pacifist.

The other thing we do know about Stanley is that he’s immensely loyal to McGregor and that McGregor, Rah and Stanley seem to have some strong bond from the traversing from his universe to theirs. In his interactions with others, Stanley is by dent stunted in his growth. He never probably grew up, just came into this universe fully as he was without any memory or knowledge of who or what he is. This also means that (after some interference from the higher ups in Starfleet Command, Science and Medical) Stanley had no real home but McGregor and the Kestrel.

“Sometimes, I hear the stars sing… I sense them. I feel the ebb and flow of the galaxy.” Noah shifted uneasily as a lump formed in his throat. Stanley noticed Noah’s discomfiture. “I do not mean to, how is it Captain McGregor puts it? I do not mean to ‘freak you out’ Ensign Noah. Merely I wish to inform you that I appear to have extra-sensory abilities. I cannot elaborate any further than because I do not understand it.”

This means that McGregor somewhat adopted and reared Stanley. So he probably did not have the best role model in the world and yet he did turn out all right. After all, Old Blue is caring and compassionate in his own manner and way of things. And if nothing else, Stanley is honest speaking in the innocence of a babe, a trait he has not lost over the years.

If Stanley remains something of a mystery to others, he is equally a mystery to himself. It is thus that I can imagine him keeping a journal as such to explore his unusual visions, possible precognitive insights, fate, or possibilities of what may be.

Doctor Monroe,

As per your request, I am writing about my vision in this journal. McGregor calls it my dream book. A falsity I believe given the usual nature of the visions. It would perhaps be more apt to call it a nightmare book. Again, I am witness to death. The death of many.

I do not process emotions in the way of you humans or of the other species I have encountered. How can we truly tell what one person, let alone their species, feels like? However, if I were to ascribe an emotion to how I feel, it would be pained, troubled, fearful. I think I am correct in this deduction. For I see these things mirrored in McGregor. I see them mirrored on your face too Doctor. Commander Cartwright’s too. Even Lt. Commander T’Vel cannot hide the troubled look in her eyes.

What is worst is that the trouble they feel is nothing in comparison to the danger, threat and peril I felt, sensed, witnessed, sorry again I struggle for the right words, in my vision. The details remain … like the swirling eddies of a nebula. Dreamed fragments drifting on a fog of delusion. But though the details are muddy and clouded, the emotional flux of the vision lingers strongly still. Death. Death Doctor Monroe. So much death.

So much death.

I am fearful for I sense that this is a path we are on. A path we cannot deviate from. Events are in motion and we spiral towards this moment, this conclusion to all things. There is fire. And carnage. Debris and ruins. Bones and blood. I hear the screams of the children. I hear the anguished cries of comrades, the fervent pleas of mothers, the imploring of friends, the anger of enemies. I hear … the stars singing, singing a dirge lament for the passing and I feel an end is coming.

An end to all. All that we know. To what we hold dear.

I wish this ability would pass from me. I wish not to know of these things. I find I struggle to understand life as it is. With these visions, I learn only of death and understand life even less. I see the faces of those closest to me, I see their worries and pains and yet cannot hope to truly comprehend their emotions, nor they mine. I see their faces and I fear I will remember the detail of my dreams, that I will recall a glimpse of their pained death. I do not see their happy endings. I do not see the unfinished path or where the journey goes. I see only the ultimate final destination. How then do I look these people in the face and continue with this day and the next knowing the day that is to come?

I wish you had the answers Doctor. I wish the answers could bring comfort; That I could furnish details or clues that could avert this horror. None come to me, none exist.McGregor tries to console me with words about preventing these things coming to pass. Reminding me that the future is not set in stone. What will be, will be, he tells me, yet I have heard him sing the song to you doctor in the lounge at the piano:

“Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be”

The future’s not ours to see Doctor Monroe. Yet, I do see it. And I see death.


[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”70%”]Stanley’s eyes reverted back to their obsidian blackness. With them he looked up into McGregor’s eyes. A deep penetrating look. A look that reached beyond. Stanley’s voice grew heavy and dark. It carried an ethereal feel to it. A solemnity. A weight. An authority of apocryphal prophecy. “Flames! I see flames. I see death. I see dogs – a pack – hunting down a winged bird – us – surrounded. Death.”

Kestrel: Hunting Grounds[/pullquote]

Day #4 Write a Letter Challenge

A 30 Day Write a Letter Challenge Response

Day 4 – Your Sibling or Closest Relativewrite me

Again, it’s all relative in this letter writing challenge. A sibling letter did conjure the possibility of a Tom/William Riker letter but I don’t tend to write and play with canon characters so there goes that idea. However, I do like the idea of messy complex relationship affecting our/my characters. Given how important and big a role family can play in our own lives, it stands to reason it should play an important factor in the lives of our characters (or many of them at least).

Once more for the Russian roulette of choosing which character to write for this time because again despite my above assertion, family hasn’t featured largely within my stories. (I really need to get more stories posted and completed).

Chekov Russia

Chekov by Shade 59

Russian roulette does however put me in mind of a few characters. Outside Chekov and Worf that is. There’s my siblings from the original inception of Accipiter, Moira and Nathan Nikochevski. Yes, I did that fanboy mistake of putting two family members onto the one ship! Actually I didn’t really – quite – as I killed Nathan off and his sister was only on the ship visiting him and got up in the events of its launch. It was all quite a spectacular opening episode!

The other character Russian roulette puts me in mind of is a character you guys haven’t seen yet – super former spy agent mmamamm. As you can see, I’ve matured greatly as a writer! How much more fanboyish could this character be even on paper. Well she’s a she. She’s part Vulcan, part Romulan. AND Russian. Hello Mary Sueski!! But that’s all part of the fun of creating such an expansive setting of the Watchtower universe.

Hope Station also features a set of twins, Darren and Warren but since the two of them are practically attached, it didn’t seem feasible to have one write to the other. They are a fun dynamic to play with, finishing and interrupting each other’s sentences.

The Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán as found by Tabatha Chase.

The Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán as found by Tabatha Chase.

Yet, I decided in my spin the wheel of characters and stories to write the story from the point of view of my flower patterned dungaree wearing Caitian mechanic, navigator, medical aide and chef Meetra Ros of the Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilán. Given the civilian nature and size of the vessel, everybody plays numerous roles (everyone takes a turn at playing chef – except Tabatha – a captain’s prerogative and to the best for the others given her lack of culinary skills).

I wanted to play a Caitian character in one of my stories for a long time. I’ve had Rah of course in Kestrel but the man is a Kzinti and a whole lot more feral than the pleasant, charming and light Meetra. Quite frankly, I think a Caitian character should almost be obligatory for any OC crew! I dunno, just something cool about them.

My Kin,

A Caitian from Star Trek Online

By the time you receive this message, I should have arrived on Q’onraf. It is a fascinating planet. It is Klingon to the core, with talons and claws and menacing fierce warrior statues on every corner. More than that, they live by a curious by-gone code here – The Way of the Blade. The traditional skill of the Bat’leth is highly prized and the use of charged weapons is scorned, so much so in fact that it is against the law to carry such weapons on your person.

To think you thought my decision to sign up with the Skipper was foolish. I told you, I would see the universe through a specially unique lens travelling with Captain Chase! See, I was correct. Only in her employ and through her myriad of contacts would we have cause to travel to this planet. Most others would by-pass it.

Presently, things are interesting closer to home without the need to travel afar. We have taken on a new deck hand. Dale Garrow is a sweet and curious boy. He’s only new but I like him already. The Skipper must have seen something in him to have asked him on board. He’s a little green to the way of things, Mother bless him. Dale’s been too use to a life on a Starfleet ship and life within the Federation to understand the true way of things. He’s learning the ropes, literally of course, as you recall from your trip aboard the Rabbit.

Then there’s our two passengers. Brahm seems nice. He’s very courteous but he’s very reserved. Maybe that is because he is Cardassian and especially so because we are entering into Klingon space! He’s still very intriguing. I mean, why is a Cardassian travelling about on some sort of secret business with a Vulcan professor. I don’t trust her one bit. She’s some sort of doctor or professor but she does not strike me as the bookish or laboratory type. Ajshae is … dangerous. She’s got that killer vibe about her. We’ve met enough mercenaries in our type to recognise the type.

I am not alone in these thoughts. The Skipper has had words with our mysterious and rather rude visitor. Bora is suspicious of her. He’s normally reserved and level headed but I see him watching Ajshae closely. Skipper has tried to embarrass Bora by implying he has a crush on her, but I do not believe it of Bora, he’s far too practical to ever like someone like HER. Obviously, Dale is like a little cub in puberty, hankering after her with wide eyes and I can scent the lust on him. But it is a silly notion on his part and I think she plays up her mystery vamp angle to get what she wants. I will be glad when she leaves the ship!

Otherwise, things are going slowly but surely. Hex is having to work on the engines a lot. Our last departure was … eventful but nothing for you to fret about Gerruss. Just a misunderstanding that escalated a little. We simply had to leave a lot sooner than we expected and it taxed the engines some is all. Honestly. Nothing to worry about. Meantime, he really enjoyed the rheeta rolls recipe I tried. Thank you so much for it. hex thoroughly enjoyed it. He said it reminded him of his third wife’s meat roll. Alas, we are not sure if he means the third wife Hex ever had, or if it was the Dari host’s third wife. Dari got married at least ten times apparently. That’s a lot of wedding anniversary dates to keep track of!!

I hear Skipper calling me. We are reaching the demarkation line, so if I want this to reach you, I have sign off now and get it sent. Take a care Brother. Be well and may The Mother bless you!


[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”70%”]”Meetra, meet our newest crew member, Dale Garrow. You’ll have to help show him the ropes, literally, as he’s new to the freighter business. Dale, this is Meetra. She’s part medic, part navigational operator and all chef!  … I told you about the no replicators didn’t I?”

Dale Garrow is introduced to Meetra Ros Rhapsody Rabbit Gavilan #1[/pullquote]