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Randal Shayne

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Everything posted by Randal Shayne

  1. The United Federation of Planets, most people will agree, is a vision of utopia unparalleled in its progressive stances on the different denominations that compose it, and in its wealth of resources, knowledge and altruistic endeavors. In the two and half centuries since its founding, the Federation has included 150 member worlds and thousands of outlying colonies within its ranks. Likewise, it has also encountered a multitude of other species- specifically, other governments and cultures. The Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassian Union, the Ferengi Alliance, the Breen Confederacy, and the Tholian Assembly compose the rest of the Alpha Quadrant principle powers. As we’ve seen, each one has a distinctive outlook on the universe, and a unique culture to match. The Klingons (especially the more militaristic branch) can be exceptionally brutal, violent and beholden to a strictly maintained code of honor. The Romulans have a similarly militaristic view, this one tinged with the more disreputable side of combat (assassinations, political machinations, etc.) but they also seem to have a deep appreciation for both art and scientific endeavors, setting them apart from their longtime enemy, the Klingons. The Ferengi are well known as the entrepreneurs and merchants of the quadrant, living in a society where money is more than a means to a goal- it is the goal. The Breen are a deeply secretive race, with conflicting reports about everything from their home planet to the reason for their all-encompassing uniforms. They became a household name during the Dominion War, when they sided with the Founders against the Federation/Klingon/Romulan alliance, and nearly shattered the Alpha Quadrant once and for all. The Tholians are even more reclusive, and they take it to a xenophobic degree. These crystalline arthropods exist in temperatures that rival Y-Class Demon Worlds in there extremity. Lastly, and perhaps the most intricate blend of the aforementioned, the Cardassian Union has struggled to find a balance between enlightened artistic and spiritual quests and militaristic domination, creating a world of intriguing but often damaging contradictions, where the citizens are both the enemy and the strength of the civilization. This poll asks you to consider the possibilities if you were not born into a Federation world. If you had a choice, which would you be a full citizen of? Would the rigid discipline and warrior lifestyle of the Klingons suit you, or would you be more at home among the financially-motivated Ferengi? Perhaps citizenship as a Cardassian appeals to you. Or maybe you fancy satiating your curiosity, and would enjoy learning more about the Breen. Give us your vote, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
  2. Kirk. Picard. Sisko. Janeway. Archer. These names are familiar to even the most casual observer, and synonymous with Starfleet as a whole. Whether they were there to witness (or have a hand in!) the birth of the Federation itself, or contributed to its success hundreds of years later, each officer has left an indelible and valuable mark on the captains of tomorrow. While the historical archives might praise these pioneers justly, it becomes apparent just how many differences existed in their personal styles of command. James Kirk, arguably the most famous captain in Federation history, was well known for his bold yet studious personality. Under his skilled leadership, the original Constitution class Enterprise completed its five year mission of exploration- an achievement not many of his fellow starship captains had lived to boast about. However, he also bore a reputation for stretching, bending, and even flat out breaking regulations and rules when it suited him. This rebellious nature, though beneficial in a variety of instances, chafed on many, and could lead to injuries. Likewise, Benjamin Sisko, widely regarded as one of the most important captains during the Dominion War, bears great praise from historians for his actions. A patriot and a defender of what he cherished most, Sisko did not allow any to interfere with his station or his Federation unopposed. This could, on occasion, lead him into what might be considered excessive, or even ruthless behavior. One need only examine his actions when it came to eliminating the Maquis threat in the Cardassian Neutral Zone for proof of this particular personality trait. There are pros and cons to every style of leadership, and the 5 Captains lend credence to this conclusion. That said, this week’s poll asks you to consider which of the five television captain’s you’d be least happy serving with. Would you find Picard’s insular, isolated obsession with Shakespeare a poor match to your own tastes? Or would you prefer to avoid Archer’s (at times) entitled and naive attitude regarding the galaxy around him? Perhaps Janeway’s unpredictable, and occasionally reckless actions would inspire you to maintain your distance? Give us your vote, and let us know in the comments section below!
  3. The term “flag officer” stems from more primitive years of Earth’s warfighting period, when ships bearing a fleet’s highest ranking officer (ostensibly a commodore or higher) would indicate this fact by flying a certain pennant or ensign. Despite such methods being outdated by 400+ years, the term persists at least into the end of the 24th century, and instead has come to denote someone of great experience and wisdom within the higher echelons of Starfleet. That said, there’s a common theme running through much of canon Star Trek; despite their lofty positions and sizable achievements, many of the flag officers portrayed aren’t all that great. In some cases, they’re simply breathtakingly incompetent. This is exemplified best by Commodore George Stalker, who decided not only to declare himself in command of the Enterprise, but then proceeded to violate the Romulan Neutral Zone. This is especially egregious, considering he had not one iota of starship command experience under his belt, having served as an administrator all of his career. In other, more malicious cases, flag officers have chosen to betray Federation principles and the safety of Starfleet personnel in the pursuit of, among other things, the greater good. An example of the above might be found in DS9’s “Homefront”, in which Admiral Leyton recruits the members of Starfleet Academy Red Squad to sabotage the planetary defense network of Earth during the Dominion War. Another is Admiral Mark Jameson, who violated the Prime Directive by providing weapons to a hostage-taker in return for securing their release, an decision that led to forty years of brutal civil war on the planet Mordan IV. While there are plenty of examples of flag officers standing tall, and representing the finest Starfleet has to offer ( Admiral Alana Nechayev, Commodore Stone, etc.), this poll asks you to weigh the actions of these infamous individuals, and decide- who is the worst flag officer in Starfleet history? Was it the duplicitous Erik Pressman, who oversaw the development of a phase cloaking device in direct violation of the Treaty of Algeron, and in doing so, nearly incited war with the Romulans? Or perhaps you’re dead set against Admiral Cartwright, who conspired to assassinate the Federation President, and thereby sabotage the Khitomer Accords. Maybe you’re thinking of someone completely different- there are so many examples that it’s almost impossible to factor them all. Give us your vote, and let us know your reasoning in the comments section below!
  4. I've been meaning to add this here for days. Awesome stuff, Anders!
  5. The nominations have been examined, the recipients have been decided upon, and the ceremony has ended! The 2018 SB118 Awards Show has been a beautiful success! Writers from all across the fleet have been recognized for their fantastic contributions to our magnificent group. There’s a glow of contentment as people offer hearty congratulations and update their wiki pages accordingly. And then, if you’re anything like me, it feels as if Christmas has past, and there can be a lull during this time. So! Because I’m not quite ready to let go of awards season, I thought I’d add a last, more unofficial part to the festivities. In my own nominating experience, while there are a great many suitable and intriguing awards to put people in for, there are many things members of this fleet do that might not necessarily have an appropriate recognition. With that in mind, this poll asks you to consider what, if any, new awards you’d like to see in next year’s ceremony. Perhaps you’ve been extremely impressed with someone’s writing prowess in a way that doesn’t have an award tied to it, or maybe they’ve already earned the one that exists for it. Maybe you’d like to honor the more OOC aspect of things- there’s a plentiful list of tasks that get little to no attention in the grand scheme. Have something completely different in mind? Think there are plenty of awards already? Let us know in the comments section below!
  6. Better late than never. Wow! Where do I begin? Well, I suppose I should start by offering my most hearty congratulations to every single person here. This fleet is incredible because all of you are incredible, and I'm so delighted to see so many fantastic members receive the recognition they deserve for excellence and creativity beyond the norm. I’d just like to say a few words in particular, now that I have the opportunity. @Jarred Thoran, you are simply amazing. I have never seen someone do so much, so quickly and so cheerfully. This has been a long time coming, and I am so thoroughly pleased that you’ve earned the TOSMA, Khan Award AND Sheathed Sword, not to mention the Locutus and Boothby Awards! Such a feat is deeply impressive, but the fact that you also earned your One Year Member Award this time around makes this truly staggering. ONE YEAR! Only someone with the dedication, skill, and aptitude you’ve shown could have pulled it off. From the beginning, you were quite a good writer, but you’ve truly spread your wings, I feel, and you’ve set the bar higher by your performance. That said, you’ve been a personal guide for me. The mentee has become the mentored in this case, and I am all the gladder for it. You’ve been nothing but kind, understanding, helpful, friendly- all in all, the perfect friend, and I couldn’t- I wouldn’t- ever ask for anyone better. It is my sincere pleasure to know you, and thank you for all that you do for the fleet. I cannot imagine the ATF being the same without you. @Anath G'Renn, you are awesome. From your writing skills to your commitment even in the face of adversity to your utterly encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek lore (seriously, folks, when we speak, Anath gives me a run for my money on that score!) you have somehow managed to make the Andaris Task Force even more fun to write with. I have watched you grow and gain confidence, and I am honored to have acted as your mentor. I’ll be perfectly honest- there was no doubt in my mind that you’d earn the Russ Bar this time around. You’ve proven again and again just impressive you are, particularly in that regard. And Anath is so much fun to read! Her conflicts, thoughts, feelings, all of it is just lovely, and your B-Plot Award is well earned. And of course, there is your Neelix Award, for which I feel exactly the same. The wiki is scary! I’ll be the first to acknowledge that. And yet, you dived in, and have been making improvements ever since. Thank you, Anath- you really are a star. @Krindo Pandorn, you are the first person that I’ve mentioned here that I haven’t had the pleasure of mentoring, and that’s something I regret. Nevertheless, even from an pseudo- outsider’s perspective, you have shone in the ATF, improving vastly and never giving up. You’re an innovative writer, both in what you write for Pandorn, and how, and your dedication is inspiring. On top of that, your wiki-gnoming is such a help to all of us, and keeps our part of the wiki spick and span. So huge congratulations, Krindo! You’ve absolutely earned the Genesis Award, and thank you for being such a steadfast and great part of the ATF! @Mirra Ezo, you lovely, sassy person you! You’ve only been with the ATF a few months, and you’ve already made a name for yourself. I remember reading your sims and hearing of your adventures on Ops, and thinking, “Man! I hope I get to sim with her one day”. That day has come, and I couldn’t be happier. You are a truly talented writer, and an absolute moral booster to boot. I don’t think you’ve sent a sim yet that hasn’t left me feeling something, and most of the time, that feeling is genuine mirth. Your sims aren’t just fun- they approach therapy for someone who can get down from time to time. Your Scotty Cross and Lwaxonna Troi Medallion are just proof and recognition of what we’ve already had the pleasure of seeing. I can always count on you for something genuinely healing, hilarious and heartwarming, and I am so happy to have the privilege of simming with you. @Na'Lae Mandak, you write with a flow and a brilliance that are so unique and effective that I often feel twinges of envy. You have a mastery over description, a way to make every scene, every movement, seem so utterly present and fluid. I feel like I’m their with her, a fly on the wall. You truly deserve the Nebula Bar for your stellar (I’m so sorry) abilities. And the Pilot’s Sextant! I had the distinct feeling that it was going to be yours at some point, and I’m pleased with just how right I was. You bring the post alive, and make a challenging position truly engaging. You’ve done a masterful job all around, and I am delighted to sim with you. @Rune Jolara, your writing and your backstory, combined with your fascinating character model, make me wish I’d chosen someone besides a human to sim. You interweave such a tangible richness into your words, a history and an exploration of another alien culture through the eyes of a single individual- and you make it look easy. You are absolutely the right person for the Laudian Commendation, and I’m most happy to see you finally recognized for your fine work and undeniable abilities. And now- the Order of the Valiant Heart. When you deal with a group of characters as unique and varied as the ATF’s crew, the skills of the counselor come into full focus. You’ve absolutely risen, and the honest, competent care you provide makes you the perfect recipient for this honor. You set the example for counselors to come, and it is a privilege to sim with, and learn from, someone of such high commitment and talent. @Theo Whittaker, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to say the following things for quite some time, and now is perhaps the best opportunity I’ll get. When James stepped back from command, I admit to some initial doubts. Seven months of your dedicated leadership later, those doubts have completely dissolved. In their place lies nothing short of absolute respect, thankfulness, and an inspiration that you sparked. I am incessantly awed by your grasp of command, and the realistic manner in which you write. It’s like you’ve been a starship captain for twenty years, and write not from the seemingly bottomless imagination you possess, but actual experience, and these are just recountings of your stories. You have done nothing but encourage and inspire me to grow and develop, and take risks. Your words mean more than I can possibly express through this clumsy language of the solids. Despite some turbulent times, you have thrived, and more than that- you’ve guided the ATF in order for it to thrive. No one could replace Renos- but you’re the very best successor I think we could have possibly received, and I am genuinely thrilled and honored to sim with you, and to be a member of your crew. @Maxwell Traenor, I am in your debt. You have been a mentor, a friend, an advisor, a guide, a confidant, an example, a cheerleader, and a damn good writer. I cannot remember even a single instance where you have been anything but exemplary, and a credit to this fleet. I’m so delighted you’ve been recognized, and that you’ve got that promotion! It’s been a long time coming, and I can think of no one more deserving. I don’t know where I’d be without you here, and for all the work you do with the News Team, and for all the past labors you’ve gone through to help me and others, I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. @Renos! I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. My time on the Darwin and ATF under your leadership taught me more than I ever thought possible. It has been such an education, and I really did learn from the best. I cannot even guess at how many hours you’ve spent with me, guiding me through the ropes, writing with me to strengthen my character, advising, offering encouragement, and so much more- and that’s just me! You have done so, so much for this fleet as a whole, and you have absolutely left a massive, utterly positive mark on our organization. We owe so much to you, and I look forward to seeing your writing for many years to come. @Brell, congratulations on the James T. Kirk! I admit, when the Atlantis became its own ship, I was worried- so much had happened that might bring down a new vessel, no matter how fantastic the commanding officer was. But months down the line, you’ve proven that you are every bit the fantastic leader, writer and mentor that I came to know on the Darwin, and I’m so pleased to see the Atlantis chugging away. You should absolutely be commended for your work, and I want to thank you. Your sims really helped me flesh out my own character’s, especially now that he is an Ops officer. You laid a template, in more ways than one, and the fact that the Atlantis is so well represented is a testament to that fact. Well done, sir! I also want to take the time to thank every member of the Executive Council, the Captain’s Council, and the First Officers of the fleet. You do incredible work to make this game as brilliant as it is, and each of you should stand tall. I am so honored to be here among each of you. I’m still fairly speechless that I was awarded so much this ceremony, and “thank you” just seems inadequate. I’m truly touched, and so grateful to be here. Thank you again, and live long and prosper.
  7. The Prime Directive, whatever your opinion on it, is a fascinating rule to consider, and has undoubtedly caused more disagreement and discussion than most anything else in the Trek Universe. There seem to be episodes that would support both sides of the argument. One that is often referred to is Enterprise's "Dear Doctor". In it, the crew stumbles on a world with two species, who seem to live with one another in some sort of harmony. The Valakians, the dominant species, is facing extinction due to a rapidly spreading mutation, whereas the Menk, the second species, remain unaffected. As time goes on, the crew finds that the Valakians marginalize the Menk, and that despite the peace they share, the Valakians clearly see the Menk is inferior. Phlox eventually finds a cure to the Valakian's illness, but feels it is unethical to administer it. Phlox believes that the Menk are on the verge of an awakening, and a huge surge in development. If the Valakians were allowed to become extinct naturally, that surge would be an important step in their history- a step that would not be taken with the Valakians still alive and able to maintain their dominance. In the end, Archer orders Phlox to provide the Valakians with enough medication to ease the symptoms for approximately a decade, instead of the cure. In this way, a solution might yet be found, but it would not be as a direct result of Enterprise's visit. At the end, Archer considers a "primary directive" that might deal with this problem for future starship captains. NOW! With that lovely bit of exposition out of the way, this week's poll is simply as follows: What would you have done in that situation? Would you have provided the Valakians with the cure itself? Perhaps you would have abstained, much in the way Archer managed to do? Or would you feel more compelled to assist the Menk, either by refusing to hand over the cure, or other means? Maybe there's something that hasn't been considered- if so, please let us know in the comment's section below!
  8. Many, many thanks to @Jarred Thoran for this lovely Dapper Shayne portrait!
  9. No one can deny that the Klingons have come a long way from their original form. Back in the 1960s, the Klingons were used as an allegory for Communist Russia. The foes that Kirk, Spock, and the crew of the Enterprise faced were treacherous, violent dictators, unafraid of taking advantage of any opportunity, and content to live in a society nearly as oppressed as the ones they so ruthlessly conquered. Women were not considered equals- indeed, they were forbidden from a seat on the High Council, leading a Great House, or ascending to the Chancellorship, save for certain extenuating circumstances. Honor was a small consideration, and trust in short supply throughout. In the years- indeed, the centuries- between the 2260s and the 2390s, Klingon society has changed drastically. Women in particular are now considered as adept as men, and permitted to hold any station, office, or position available to a male. Honor has now become a societal imperative, reversing centuries of previous conduct. The totalitarian, “Big Brother”- esque nature of the Empire has give way to a freer, though somewhat more chaotic, oligarchy. Along with this change, the relationship between the Empire and the Federation has moved from a constant state of hostility to a rapidly and wildly fluctuating political climate. Alliances have been broken and forged in mere moments, spurned by events that neither side could contain or survive alone. From the Organian Peace Treaty to both Khitomer Accords, the Federation has, in the last century, struggled with, and benefitted from,a complicated and tenuous peace, only notably broken for a brief spat during the earlier half of the Dominion War. While most in the Federation would rather embrace the Empire as an ally than an enemy, still plainly aware of the Klingon’s military might, some might question the Federation’s policy in this regard. Despite its many social advances throughout the decades, the Klingon Empire still exercises a variety of behaviors antithetical to Federation values, most notable of which is the continued annexation and subsequent oppression of worlds which the Empire feels would be beneficial to its continued existence. Entire planets are stripped bare, and are deemed “protectorates”. Members of these unfortunate worlds are turned into second class citizens of the Empire. Even so, the Federation seeks every opportunity to associate and diplomatically interact with this expanding threat to civilization. This week’s poll question is, undoubtedly, somewhat contentious, and meant to be so; essentially, should the Federation continue to associate with the Empire? Is it still a good idea? Or is it folly and inappropriate, given the Empire’s long history of abuses against sentient life? Perhaps you’re of a different mind? Give us your vote, and let us know in the comments section below!
  10. Personally, I've always wanted to see something on Temporal Investigations, but that might be a disaster, as most of my ideas turn out to be.
  11. Fighting is, unfortunately, something of a constant in the Star Trek universe, as as such, different cultures and races approach the matter with unique viewpoints. Many, such as the Romulans, use classic techniques of subterfuge, confusion and shadowplay. Others, like the Klingons, prefer more upfront combat. In each instance, the weapon generally matches the strategy. And in many cases, a phaser or disruptor just won’t do. Either for personal honor and glory, or for purely tactical reasons (energy dampening fields), many fighting forces across the galaxy utilize melee weapons to defend themselves, and, often, to attack others. These weapons are as varied and unique as the aliens that wield them. This Poll of the Week seeks to know what your favorite melee weapon is. Does the classic double handed Klingon bat’leth earn your vote, or are more a fan of the Jem’hadar’s kar’takin polearm? Perhaps you prefer something not mentioned here? Give us your vote, and let us know in the comments section below!
  12. It is this poll-posers opinion that one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation was Season 3’s “Deja Q”. I’m confident that I’m not entirely alone in this statement, as it has frequently been lauded for its humour, intriguing storyline, and light atmosphere (for the most part). A quick refresher of the episode’s plot is in order. Essentially, Q, everyone’s favorite trickster/ superior being/ troublesome irritant, flashes onto the bridge of the Enterprise- D amid a planetary crisis. Q explains that he has been banished to this most unholy of places, and has lost his powers- something the crew simply refuses to believe, and rightly so. Throughout the episode, the audience is left to wonder if Q is simply playing another sick game, as has been his pattern up to this point. It’s eventually revealed that he’s been entirely truthful about his condition, and it is only at the end of the episode that his powers are restored and the crisis averted. However, for this poll’s purpose, I’m more interested in Q’s behavior during the meat of the events shown on screen. As time passes, even the weary crew begin to wonder if he’s being sincere, and Q’s (admittedly arrogant and unhelpful) attempts to aid in the Enterprise’s struggle nevertheless have an air of sincerity about them. His half-hearted desire to join the crew, as he is now mortal, raises an intriguing question. Starfleet is all about diversity, but what if an alien entity as utterly different and powerful like a member of the Q Continuum wanted to join the crew of your ship? He or she has convinced you of their sincerity in the matter- they truly want to be a member of your vessel. How do you you respond? Do you send them packing? Adopt them into the fold? Something in between? Give us your vote, and explain away in the comments section below!
  13. Star Trek paints a vivid, expansive picture of a better future. It’s expansive nature and astonishing history are part of what makes it so much fun to write within. Our characters all enjoy the rich tapestry that hundreds, if not thousands of writers, have woven painstakingly over every episode. There’s also the appeal of making one’s own contribution to the lore, in a small but important way. But what if, instead of simply a hobby or a fun diversion, the world of Star Trek could become a little more concrete? What if one day, out of the blue, you were offered an opportunity to attend Starfleet Academy, and graduate as an ensign aboard a starship? We all know the dangers our characters are exposed to on a daily basis- no one could fault you from turning it down. That said, to enter a world like Star Trek is the dream of many. Would you jump at the chance, accepting the risk that comes with such a decision? Or would you turn it down, preferring to remain as you are on Earth? Give us your vote, and let us know in the comments section below!
  14. The style of the Next Generation Klingons is incontrovertable and undeniable.
  15. ((Many, many feels. Great stuff.)) ((Alien Complex, Navatria, Arndall)) Dairro: Commander, come on, they’re closing on us. Leave him ::Jarred rubbed his eyes, with added pressure and rose to his feet. Green flashes buzzed passed, cracking in the air as they flew passed him. Risking a look back, he could make clearly make out the creatures, four emerald green eyes glowing in the dim light. They let out a screech as Jarred reached for his phaser and fired a few shots towards them when he heard Dairro cry out.:: ::Looking to his side his saw his friend lay on the floor, blood oozing beneath her. He rushed over to her, continuing to fire towards the aliens. He crouched down beside her, ducking his head as he did so. From this distance the wound was obvious, a mess, as if she’d been shot by two different weapons at once. There was a dark red hole, blood pouring from it as if in slow motion, soaking into her uniform. She looked up to him their eyes locking, as he cradled her, each of them bathed in her blood. He could feel his face begin to crack as she smiled briefly, before her breathing became a noisy rattle and she began to cough, flecking Jarred’s face with blood. A split second later and she went limp in his arms. Jarred let out a roar, screaming into the walls. Green flashes continued to whizz past as he rose to his feet. He tapped at the display on his phaser, setting it to overload and flung it towards the creatures.:: ::There was a temporary pause from the creatures as they looked at the device that now lay before them. He grabbed Dairro’s phaser & set it to maximum power and began firing at the creatures, striking one of them square in the chest, causing them to flail backwards into the others.:: ::Jarred heaved the lifeless body of his friend onto his shoulders. With blurred vision he began to run. He had no idea how long he had been running when he felt the cool rush of air hit his face and squinted as the bright light stuck his eyes. Up ahead was a shuttle, the rest of his group stood waiting.:: ((Runabout)) ::He climbed up the ramp, in silence, not even acknowledging his friends and gently placed the body of Dairro on the seats that lined the interior, before collapsing to his knees.:: Mandak: ::Yelling up front.:: Boots up! Let's get outta here! ::She looked to Thoran, and began to check Dairro.:: Is she? G'Renn: Yes. ::He looked with swollen red eyes, his face a picture of grief, of loss, towards the others, & solemnly nodded his head. He felt an emptiness in his heart and a numbness pounding in his head as his gaze fell back to the floor. He was numb, yet somehow in agony. He wanted to scream, to yell, anything to bring her back. She has always been there for him, a smile shining in her bright blue eyes. Now she lay before him, gone forever. Because of him. Slowly he raised himself up, rubbing his eyes as he did so, his voice trembling as he spoke.:: Thoran: Try to raise the Blackwell. Mandak: I'll let them know we're enroute... Commander? Thoran: Update them on our… ::He flinched, his mind still trying to process what had happened. All he wanted to do was to curl up, escape from the reality. But he had a job to do. He couldn’t fall down now, that would be a disservice to his friends memory. For the moment, he had to suck it up. To be strong.:: Thoran: ...situation. Mandak: Aye... ::She moved to the comm station and took a seat.:: =/\= Blackwell, this is the Edith Keeler... Come in... =/\= Blackwell: =/\= ? =/\= Mandak: =/\=Party aboard... good to hear your voice... We've two casualties, a Valcarian and Crewman Dairro... quite a few injuries... But we're on the way to you now... Commander Thoran is still alive, and is still in charge of the element. Runabout Revan is lost. =/\= Blackwell: =/\= ? =/\= Mandak: =/\= Aye... Edith Keeler out. =/\= ::He slowly made his way towards the front of the shuttle, grasping every surface he could for support. Finally he half collapsed into one of the seats in the [...]pit. Resting his face in cupped hands, he closed his eyes, taking deep breaths. The image of Dairro lying there filling his mind, her eyes, helpless and fixated on him, her arm reaching out as she calls out to him.:: Mandak: Home is waiting sir... ::He glanced up for a moment, meeting Mandak’s gaze.:: Thoran: Yes. Yes it is Ms Mandak. ::Home. Mandak was right, the Blackwell had become his home. He felt closer to some of his colleagues than he did his own family. He recalled his recent visit back to his family on Alpha Centauri and the elation he had felt at seeing them all again. But it hadn’t felt the same. He’d missed the hum of the Blackwell. The hustle and bustle of the corridors. He’d felt guilty, when upon his return to the Blackwell, he’d felt happier than when he’d been back with his parents.:: Ferentis: ? ::He heard a faint shuffling beside him and half turning his head, finding the comforting face of G’Renn. It seemed she was always around when he needed her.:: G'Renn: ::She spoke quietly, so no one but Thoran could hear:: I am so sorry, Commander. ::He gave her a half hearted smile, a temporary veneer over his pain.:: Thoran: Thank you Anath. ::The pair fell into silence. Not an awkward, nothing to say silence. A silence between friends. A silence of reflection. Jarred spent the remainder of the trip replaying events through his mind. He could have done more. He could have brought her back with him. They could now be sat around exchanging tales and jokes. Out of the viewport he could see the form of the Blackwell, increasing in size as they got nearer. From charring on the hull, it appeared the Blackwell had been busy in their absence.:: Mandak: ? ((Shuttlebay, USS Blackwell)) ::There was a shudder as the shuttle touched down. Jarred sat for a moment, collecting his thoughts. Finally he took a deep breath and headed out of the shuttle, joining the others. As he stepped onto the flight deck, he was just in time to see the body of his friend being taken away and felt his chest tightened and his legs weaken. It took all his might and will to stop himself from collapsing to the floor.:: G’Renn: We should report in, figure out what we’ve missed. Maybe they know more than we do by now. Thoran: Computer, located Commander Whittaker. Computer: Commander Whittaker is currently located on deck eighteen in the primary sick bay. Thoran: oO Sickbay? Had he been injured when the Blackwell had suffered whatever damage caused the scorching and charring on the hull? Oo Thoran: Off to sickbay it is then. Mr Ferentis, judging by the look of the outer hull, you’re probably needed in engineering. Ms Mandak, i’d like to report to Commander Shayne on the bridge. ::He cast his eyes over the ragtag group.:: Good work everybody. G’Renn/Mandak/Ferentis: ? ::The pair bid farewell to Ferentis and Mandak before heading towards the nearest turbolift. Much like the journey in the shuttle, the turbolift was silent. Thoughts of the captain’s status and of Dairro flooded his mind. Moments later, the turbolift came to a halt, the doors opening with a swish. Jarred gestured for the G’Renn to go first, it was after all her domain they were now entering.:: ((Sickbay, USS Blackwell)) ::Reaching the sickbay, they entered, and Jarred felt relieved to find the captain on his feet and apparently well. Fleet Captain Nicholotti, two unfamiliar officers in teal along with two other people stood nearby. From the looks of the pair, they were the Valcarian and Caraadian delegations. Lying before them on one of the biobeds was, from the looks of the uniform a Valcarian soldier. The image of those Valcarian’s they had left behind flashed across his mind, and he reached into his pocket, clutching the necklace the man had worn.:: Thoran: Commander Whittaker, apologies for intruding. We were able to make it back from the surface. ::He glanced around the room.:: Has Commander Adyr and her team reported in yet? Whittaker: ? G’Renn/Drake/Mika/Nicholotti/Asil: ?
  16. No one can deny that Starfleet’s mission is incredibly dangerous. While it might be fulfilling, exploring uncharted systems and defending the Federation against her countless enemies is a risky business any way you cut it. As a result, Starfleet personnel are trained in rigorous fashion, spending years mastering the skills necessary to hack it in the brutal expanse of deep space. The stress of this burden is considerable. On top of this, many career officers have families, and it was eventually accepted that prolonged separation from loved ones had a generally negative effect on moral and performance, especially among humans. In order to combat this mental hardship, counselors have been assigned to most starships. However, this alone has not been deemed sufficient. Onboard most ships, officers’ families- generally civilian- are permitted to live permanently, after the officer has served for six months or more on that vessel. While living with one’s family has undeniably positive benefits, the dangers to their welfare are terrifying to consider. At any moment, the ship could fall under attack, or be exposed to a deadly plague, or find itself in the wake of a supernova, or fall prey to any one of a billion disastrous outcomes possible. This becomes especially troubling when one remembers that children are among those in harm’s way. How do you stand on Starfleet’s familial policies? Do you feel allowing civilians aboard ships does more good than harm? Or are you against such precidence? Perhaps you’re more moderate on this issue? Give us your vote, and let us know in the comments section below!
  17. The pips our characters display on their collars represent more than simply a rank and a position. They’re the embodiment of the blood, sweat and tears spent in the pursuit of such a distinction. It’s no secret that Starfleet’s vigorous four year curriculum is a challenge only the most devoted rise to and pass beyond. Indeed, even gaining admission into Starfleet Academy is considered an honor unto itself. But while each cadet faces similar challenges from an academic, physical, and emotional standpoint, and despite the regimented rigidity found and expected on campus, each newly commissioned ensign leaves with a different opinion of their journey, and individual memories about their experience. Some had the times of their lives, while others consider it a miserable period through and through. This poll asks you about your character’s impression of their time at Starfleet Academy. Did they enjoy it, relishing every minute of instruction, study and campus life? Or were they far less enthused, chafing under the discipline and lofty expectations? Perhaps they were more in the middle- finding both positive and negative aspects in abundance. Give us your vote, and explain in the comment's section below!
  18. Star Trek has a long history of trial episodes. From the memorable “Court Martial”, in which Kirk is accused of criminal negligence regarding the death of a member of his crew, to “Rules of Engagement”, in which Worf must defend his actions during a heated battle aboard the Defiant, every Star Trek series has had its own quality moments of courtroom television. While we have seen many different types of law, from the Federations’ process of jurisprudence (what we are most familiar with today) to the brutal, predetermined show trials of Cardassia, each of these cases utilize a lawyer, or the equivalent of one. Approximately one year ago, a Poll of the Week was run, asking your opinions about the best trial episodes. This Poll of the Week asks for your favorite lawyer, or favorite individual forced to play the part of one. Is it Samuel T. Cogley, the obsessive crackpot that defended Kirk, or Areel Shaw, the prosecution in that case? Perhaps your pick came from a non-Federation world, like Chang, who prosecuted Kirk and McCoy in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, or Kovat, who’s actor elevated the character’s thankless role into an amazing reflection on the dangers of assuming guilt, in the Deep Space 9 episode “Tribunal”. Or perhaps it’s someone not mentioned at all. Give us your vote, and explain away in the comments section!
  19. Books. You can’t escape them, and in this poll-poser’s opinion, that’s a fantastic state of affairs! That said, it can be surprising to realize just how prevalent books seem to be in the universe of Star Trek. Picard obviously took great pride and joy in his substantial collection of literature, and we have witnessed a variety of other characters reading classic novels, Shakespearean works, and other leisure texts. Fiction, in some form or fashion, is an indelible part of our lives, and the same goes for the characters we write for. This week’s poll asks you to share your character’s favorite genre of story or book. Is your character more drawn to action and adventure, or maybe they’re more fond of romantic or dramatic works? Perhaps they share an appreciation for tales or legends from their own cultural heritage. Or do they not enjoy any sort of fiction whatsoever? Give us your vote, and if you’re feeling brave, let us know the specific story or book, and explain what significance it has for your character in the comments section below!
  20. (( Arndall )) (( Kematta Foothills - 17 kilometers from the First City. )) (( Time Index: 13 Hours before Blackwell arrives )) ::First Lieutenant Janra Vross peered in the stygian gloom and made no attempt to hide her discomfort. Ever since her mother had punished her as a small girl for misbehaviour by locking her in a tiny cupboard in her bedroom, she had never enjoyed dark and enclosed spaces. Now memories of those traumatic times came flooding back to her as she looked down the scope of her disruptor rifle. She took several deep breaths and tried to focus on the matter at hand.:: Vross: oOBreathe in… breathe out… remember the mission.Oo ::Two hours ago, Vross and her team had been sent from their small outpost deep in the Kematta Foothills to investigate a communications burst on a low frequency wavelength usually reserved for Valcarian military distress calls. There had been no information aside from a set of coordinates and a rush of static- but the message was obvious: some of her compatriots needed assistance. Without another thought, she and her team had boarded their all-terrain vehicle with the intention of rendering whatever help they could. Vross had been expecting to find a squad of troops under fire from Caraadian military units and her fellow team members had been relishing the chance to start their kill count. They had not expected to find the distress call emanating from a cave at the base of a steep cliff face.:: Vross: oOBreathe in… breathe out… the darkness cannot hurt you.Oo ::Swallowing away her anxiety and ignoring the rapid beating of her hearts, she took a step into the cave using one hand to activate the halogen light attached to the front of the rifle just above its firing chamber. In the distance behind her, a bird-of-prey soaring the early morning light let out a piercing shriek having found it's prey. The cavern in front of her was narrow- no more than two meters across and about the same in height- and comprised of fistrium and kelbonite, both mineral that refracted even the most focused of sensor scans but allowed for communications.:: Vross: oOA sensor dead-zone in a dark, cramped cave.Oo ::the realisation almost threatened to overwhelm her and she breathed in more sharply than she intended.:: oOBreathe in… breathe out...Oo Trying her hardest to suppress the wave of fear once again, she took one hand off the rifle and came to a stop. She reached into the flap of her field jacket and retrieved the pocket communicator that was linked to the comm system aboard the all terrain vehicle. Holding down the button on the finger length device, she spoke into the small microphone.:: =/\=Everything clear so far. Cave is about two meters across. Clear to proceed. =/\= ::For a moment, the communications frequency crackled with static before it faded and was replaced with the gruff voice of her superior, Major Ghamra.:: Ghamra: =/\= Affirmative. Proceed with caution.=/\= ::For a moment she wondered why Ghamra sounded so annoyed and then she remembered that he always sounded annoyed. But what he lacked in social graces he made up for in engendering loyalty. He might have be rude at the best of times but he was a fierce soldier who had led troops in battle on dozens of worlds across the Imperial Republic. Quite why he chosen to accept an assignment on Arndall she would never understand, not when he could have his pick of any posting within the army.:: ::It had been Ghamra who had charged Vross with reconnoitring the cave before the rest of the team joined her. She was small- just a hair’s breadth above five feet, light of step and with the agile reflexes of a Tarmarian Lynx. They were attributes that earned her many platitudes during the three years she had been stationed with the small contingent of Valcarian Imperial Troopers assigned to this backwater world, hundreds of light years from the protective cradle of Valcaria. She had successfully infiltrated half a dozen Caraadian military installations without detection and stolen their secrets. There had even been interest from Imperial Intelligence in acquiring her skills, although nothing had come of those enquiries- yet.:: ::She pressed on for several minutes, the silence only broken by her own soft foot falls. She repeatedly flicked her gaze from the scope of the rifle to the small sensor readout below. It was habit more than anything, given that the sensors were not functional surrounded by so many refractory minerals. She became aware about ten minutes into her reconnaissance that the cave was widening at the same time that it was descending. She was going deeper into the planet. She came to a stop when the rifle’s light fell on what was- unmistakably- rubble. Adjusting the light beam to a wider setting, she moved in an arc, taking in as much information as she could. What struck her was the fact that the rubble was splayed outwards from what was left of what had been rockface. When the realisation hit, she felt her anxiety ratchet up several more notches. Taking more deep breaths and trying with all of her might not to let her hands shake, she lifted the communicator to her face and activated the microphone.:: Vross: =/\=I’m seeing signs of blasted rock face. It’s odd… it seems to have been blasted through from inside the rockface.=/\= Ghamra: =/\=Inside?=/\= ::There was no mistaking the concern in his voice; concern that Vross now shared which was also mingling with a foreboding sensation that told her that nothing good could come from such a discovery. She bit down on the thought of asking to return to the all-terrain vehicle and requesting reinforcements. She did not want to betray her feelings to her superiors:: Vross: =/\=Shall I proceed?=/\= oOPlease say no...Oo ::she pleaded to nobody but herself. ::There was an unbearably long pause that seemed to stretch in to an eternity all of its own.:: Ghamra: =/\=Affirmative. But be very careful, Lieutenant.=/\= Vross: =/\=Aye sir.=/\= ::With a shaking hand, she put the communicator pocket into her jacket pocket and brought her rifle to bear once more, moving through the opened hole into the rockface, noting that something had blasted through at least two dozen meters of rock. With each step, a pall of dread fell upon her and intensified. It became harder and harder to maintain her composure; Her chest felt heavy, her hearts raced with adrenaline and her keen senses picked up on every little sound and every echo of her footsteps.:: ::The passage widened once again to at least twenty feet across and dust clung in the air, as did a fading staleness. Knowing the composition of Arndall’s atmosphere she surmised that the passageway had been blasted through about four or five days previously- certainly no sooner than that. But nothing suggested who was responsible as she descended deeper into planet’s crust.:: ::Minutes bled into each other until Vross realised that she had been exploring this tunnel for almost half of an Arndall hour. By now she was keenly aware that the tunnel was not a natural occuring formation as it had been at the entrance. The rock was too smooth for that. This was man-made. Fighting against the mounting dread, she tried to rationalise that the Caraadians had established a mine here at some point in the past, or perhaps her ancestors had done when they had dominated the planet two centuries before. But no matter how much she told herself that she could not bring herself to believe it.:: Vross: oOYou are being paranoid.Oo ::she chastised herself, but found herself unable to stop herself from adding- oOProbably for a good reason.Oo ::She came to a stop again when realised that she had heard something else besides her steps and the racing of her blood that thundered in her ears. It had been faint, indistinct- but enough to attract her attention. She strained to hear in the darkness.:: ::Then she heard it again- a shrill chattering of sorts. Not words, but of noise. It stirred up odd memories of her childhood. Of folk tales told to children on Valcaria that she had not thought about she since began maturity. Of intelligent creatures- something akin to insects- that came in the night and stole the souls of naughty children. She shuddered, remembering how terrified of those stories she had been. Yes, what she had heard reminded her of stories of the ‘soul stealers’ from Valcaria’s ancient past. It was distant, but something told her that it would not stay that way:: Vross: Hello? ::she said softly, not expecting a response. Her words echoed quietly off of the rock before vanishing into nothing.:: Is anyone there? ::She started forward slowly, keeping her rifle pointed ahead in the hope that the beam of light caught something. She reached into her pocket once again to retrieve her communicator but her nerves caused her to fumble and it dropped to the floor. Letting loose with a quiet string of vulgarities she stooped down to retrieve the device. Scooping it up into her hand, she pointed the rifle ahead- where she saw something standing in front of her.:: ::Vaguely insectile, the creature looked down at her, standing over her by at least two meters with four emerald green eyes and two further eyes above them. Clad in what looked ancient and dull gray armour, she saw something carved into the creature’s helmet- which rose into prongs above it’s head- rows of triangles interlaced on each side of three evenly space ovals. Above the bottom and top ovals were three more triangles that bled into one another. It was elaborately detailed, ceremonial even.:: ::Vross looked down. In one hand or claw- she was not sure what it was- it held the severed head of a Valcarian, the lifeless, glassy eyes staring out into nothing.:: ::Vross screamed at the sight before oblivion called to her as the creature destroyed her form in a flurry of vicious strikes.:: -- 1st Lieutenant Janra Vross Valcarian Military as simmed by: Commander Theo Whittaker Commanding Officer USS Blackwell NCC-58999 Andaris Task Force C239203TW0
  21. I had no idea it would be united! Very interesting to observe.
  22. Poll of the Week: Should Starfleet Abandon the Holodeck? (Special thanks to co-facilitator Anath G’Renn for this great poll idea!) There are two absolute rules of Star Trek. One: if you don’t have a name, but you are holding a phaser, chances are you’re going to die. And two: holodecks are dangerous. Frankly, holodecks are technological wonders, able to produce infinite shapes, landscapes, settings and characters for the enjoyment of the user. But it would be really nice if they, you know… actually worked. More often than not, whenever a holodeck has been featured, something has gone horribly wrong. Generally, this will include the unintentional deactivation of safety protocols- a design flaw that opens up participants to deadly and extreme risk, depending on the program being run. The wacky adventures shown in DS9’s “Our Man Bashir”, and TNG's “A Fistful of Datas” are excellent examples of this phenomenon, among others. Indeed, the frequency with which these difficulties occur is alarming. Besides the ubiquitous instances of error stemming solely from mechanical malfunction, we are also forced to consider the effect a fully operable holodeck has on individuals. In the TNG episode “Hollow Pursuits”, the audience is subjected to a taste of the repressed Reginald Barclay’s fantasy life, and the detrimental effects holographic technology can have on an individual. Reg is completely addicted to his holographic world, displaying a pattern of behavior similar to victims of other destructive dependencies. And, of course, who can forget James Moriarty’s famous acquisition of sentience due to a simple command the computer took way too literally? The point is, the holodeck, while a fantastic opportunity, is also incredibly risky. The Enterprise-D, Deep Space 9, and Voyager have each experienced more than their share of difficulties, and this is but a tiny portion of Federation assets equipped with these devices. This poll of the week asks you to consider the future of the holodeck. Should Starfleet abandon the technology? Should major corrections be made? Or are you of the opinion that no changes are needed? Give us your vote, and explain away in the comments section below!
  23. It’s been my experience that Star Trek: Enterprise does not get the love it deserves. Certainly there were some problems, but it often raised intriguing moral and philosophical dilemmas for the viewer to digest- something every Star Trek should have. Indeed, while many opportunities were missed, some were seized brilliantly. Specifically, the fourth season featured some extremely intriguing episodes on a variety of issues. One of these issues was racial bigotry. While this is not a new approach for Star Trek, a particular argument within the episode “Home” strikes me as disturbingly relevant, even if it is quite disagreeable. Before becoming truly obnoxious, a bar patron confronts Reed, Mayweather and Phlox, shortly after the Enterprise returns from its mission in the Expanse. The loudmouth, obviously a hurt individual, questions the rationale of Starfleet’s mission. Was it a good idea to go galavanting about the galaxy, and to not only announce the existence of humanity, but to offer the coordinates for the home planet of the human species? The Xindi attack on Earth, naturally, played a part in increasing xenophobia within the population, but while the argument may be biased, the man’s point of view is at least comprehensible. This week’s poll asks you to consider how you would approach the earliest organized Starfleet operations. Would you put forward a trusting hand, as Enterprise did, and risk having it swatted away, or worse, bringing about a tragedy, all the while hoping for the best? Or do you agree more with the bar patron’s perspective? Would you be more reserved with your expansion, judiciously choosing when and with whom to make contact, as the Vulcans advised? Give us your vote here, and let us know your thoughts and perspectives in the comments section below!
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