All posts by templarsora

When the Skies Fell – Reflections

So, it’s been a few weeks since the final chapter of When the Skies Fell was posted.  I promised a little bit of insight into my inspirations and reasoning for the story, and decided to do it here rather than clog up the forums.

When the Skies Fell was inspired, in part, by an amazing picture.

Ala, by Lady Owl

I haven’t gotten around to reading Lady Owl’s “Everything Under the Stars” story, but I do know that there is an alien named Neelix involved.  And no, not THAT Neelix.  But it was a random deviantArt search looking for new aliens to try and emulate using the Star Trek Online character creator that let me stumble on this picture.  I very quickly fell in love with the design, and decided I wanted to use it.

Now, at this point, I was looking for aliens to include in a FAR future story of Rafale, post-Undisputed Border and post-Strength (the next two stories in the series).  WTSF was nowhere in my series “bible.”

I honestly can’t say I remember when I woke up deciding to destroy a planet.  But I do know I began RPing it out.

Now, a quick pause.  RP is short for “Role-Play,” a term I have become very intimate with since I’ve started playing MMORPGs (like Star Trek Online).  But even before I dove into the worlds of video games, I RPed my stories out in my head.  Every action, every character, every opening credits…this was, for years, how I imagined my Star Trek stories.  And it wasn’t just Star Trek.  Anything that interested me I would do this.  I still do it.

So, I began imagining the Rafale responsible for the destruction of a planet by an asteroid/comet.  It had always been that way.  It wasn’t because of the ship crashing, or shooting the planet.  It wasn’t some other alien influence.

Asteroid meets planet.  Planet dies.  Rafale watches helplessly.  The end.

The “Armageddon”/”Deep Impact” angle came when I decided that, in trying to stop the asteroid, Rafale would first be unable to do anything, and then second would be trapped and equally doomed.  I removed the first part of Rafale trying to destroy the comet for timing issues; looking back, I wish I had left it in.  Hindsight and all that…

But I needed a catalyst, something that would ensure a) the planet died, and b) the ship survived.

After the events of Multiverse 2, and the resounding disdain for the character over the previous year, I had my scapegoat.  Someone I was desperate to kill off because I, too, was beginning to hate even showing him.

SoniaSeymour Sonia.  Creepy ‘stache and all.

I was going to kill Seymour.  He was going to fail, be the reason for the deaths of billions, and get himself killed as well.  It would be glorious.

And then I realized…he’d die trying to save people.  He’d have a noble sacrifice.

I couldn’t do that for him.

Sonia’s actions, and his insubordination, wind up destroying the planet.  But he doesn’t get the glory.  He doesn’t get off easily, not having to pay for his actions.  Sonia lives.

And then, in one final twist of the dagger for anyone rooting for him to finally get what’s coming to him…I give him one final out.  Which he takes.

He lives to see the consequences of his actions…only to run away from them again in a final, cowardly act of desperation.  Because it would have been too easy to just kill the bastard.  Besides, now I can use him as a potential foil for Jessica and the Rafale, and for TPhoenix’s T’Randa Rembrant and Independence.

All that was left now was to find the perfect race to destroy.  A young-to-the-galaxy, taking its first small steps in warp travel, desperate to survive.

I decided on the beautiful Ala as the starting point, and went from there.  Sad to do it, but so much more infuriating when it all falls apart and her people die.  I had to do it.

WTSF came out of nowhere; there is a mission that comes close in the game Star Trek Online, in that there is a comet threatening a planet, but that’s the end of the similarity.  WTSF was the second story separated from actual, in-game missions (the first being Fix You, although that was based on previous RP between myself and Justine’s player, while WTSF was all original) and came to fruition from concept to publishing in under a year – the first time I did that was the first story I ever posted on Ad Astra, After Darkness (since renamed “Darkness Dawns”, to deconflict from the “Into Darkness” movie and “After Darkness” comics, both completely unrelated and completely AFTER I chose my title, but whatever…).  While there are still some things I wish I had done differently and left in from the original concept, I’m pretty pleased with this foray and I can’t wait till after Undisputed Border and Strength when I go away from game missions again.

Any other questions about the story?  Hit me up with questions here or on the forums!


This months’ first prompt, from SLWalker:

To AU or not to AU, that is the question!

Do you like writing alternate universes? Branching your characters off and seeing where a different path goes? Where do you start, and how do you go about it?

So!  Alternate Universes!  Seems easy enough, right?

Eh…not really so much.  If for no other reason than I’m lazy and I like my characters right where they are, in their own little protected universe…

Except, if you look at things technically…most of us write in alternate universes.  We *claim* they’re in the prime or the AU or the MU or Universe 1729 but, really, we write in separate, alternate takes on what we feel should be explored in Trek.  United Trek would be the largest single universe I’ve seen around here so far, but then again, I’m still pretty new on the scene myself.

Along with that, I write for Star Trek Online’s universe.  This is a video game; it would be the epitome of alternate universes.  Why?  Because every character (so far, until they change the tutorial next week or so) has gone through what Jessica did in Blood Red Dawn.  Every character has stopped the Devidians in Ghost Ship.  There are a finite number of missions, and just about every character has ground their way through those set missions.

Is it feasible to say five million captains all received their commands following a Borg attack?  Not really…

I’m working to do something similar to United Trek, in that at least one other STO writer and myself are going to be syncing our timelines up so that we are writing in, virtually, the same universe.  You’ve been getting a taste of his characters, and they’ll be larger players in my next story to help introduce them properly to the community, and it should hopefully encourage other STO writers to throw their hats in the ring as well.  At least, that’s the goal.  BUT, that is, again, just one more alternate universe to add to the pile.

Now, going back and looking at AU as alternate to my universe…well, that’s a bit different.  Again, I like my characters right where they are, but I have explored this possibility, somewhat off-handedly, in Merrily Merrily Merrily, where I explored the “what if” of Jessica telling her friends what her first posting was.  If you haven’t, go read it before continuing, because there will be spoilers.



Back?  Ok.  So, as I said, Jessica tells her friends where she goes.  Vega still happens; Bridget and Justine’s knowledge of her posting isn’t going to change the fact that the Borg are returning, nor the fact that Rafale gets caught in the middle of the charlie-foxtrot.  I presented the story as a dream to assure people that things were still the same, but I ended it intentionally with a shift back to that reality, in the spirit of the theory that for every decision point in history, a new universe is created.  Somewhere, there is a Bridget who is utterly alone; somewhere else, I’m sure, all three of the girls made it out of that alive.

Other than that foray, I’m not sure I’ll do more of it.  It could be interesting later on, but I have enough ideas for stories to keep me busy for a while.

Why Does it Matter?

[Author’s Note:  This is going to get me in so much trouble, I’m almost sure of it.  Oh well…my opinions, obviously.]

Well, the question jespah put to community this time around can be found here.  The questions are interesting, and have us wondering about canon characters and our own with respects to a level of IDIC that has been controversial and very prominent in recent years.

Character Sexuality and Relationships.

I was thinking how best to answer these questions.  I’ve read a few other blogs.  And I have to say…I really don’t know what to say.  While I realize they’re supposed to be headscratchers, and there really isn’t a right or wrong way to answer…

The truth of the matter is, it shouldn’t matter.

Flashback to TOS.  Kirk kisses Uhura, in what is the first mainstream portrayal of an inter-racial kiss.  It was abhorent to some, incredible to others.  People didn’t bat an eye when Kirk goes and bangs the green alien chick (which would also be religiously wrong, but we’re not going there), but heaven help us, cover the kids’ eyes!  Blacks and whites kissing!  OMG THE SKY IS FALLING!!

As you can see…the reaction (by today’s standards) was stupid.

And yet, those standards are still here today.  And before you cry foul, no, I’m not comparing homosexual rights movements to the NAACP.  Race and Sexuality are two very different things; people are facing much of the same prejudices and extreme hate, but they are two different things, and I don’t want to lessen the impact that either group has had to history.

The fact is, racism still exists today.  There will always be people who believe they are more entitled to this or that because they look or sound better than someone else.  In Star Trek, while most of it has been tramped out, you still see people dealing with race issues; Humans versus Klingons, Andorians versus Vulcans, Romulans and Remans…it still exists in our utopian future.

For that same reason, I offer these two statements:

1)  Homosexuality will continue to exist into the future, regardless of what religious nut jobs try to say or do today.

2)  Homosexuality will still be frowned upon by some people.  There will not be this sudden, collective “hey, it really IS ok to be Takei.”  I’m sorry.

That said…there is no reason why we should shy away from and ignore the topic as writers of Star Trek.  One of the things that hit home Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future was that, had Star Trek continued, he wanted to explore homosexual characters.  It would have been groundbreaking for that time period, for sure.  It would have gotten him a lot of nasty fan mail, too, but it would have been amazing, because he would have portrayed them as…people.

Normal, everyday people.

The questions in this prompt ask “how would characters change if their sexuality changed?”  I feel the question can be answered with, “why should they?”  To answer that question, you need only look at modern, mainstream media.  So many Reality TV shows, new comedies, movies, whatever, portray homosexual characters in two ways.

Lesbian couples are butch, masculine females (or at least one of them is, while the other is drop dead gorgeous and thus the punchline of a joke against any male characters and watchers).

Gay couples epitomize the phrase “flaming.”

And no, it isn’t EVERY show, I realize that.  But the problem is the preponderance of those portrayals.  Gay men are very feminine, and lesbian women are very masculine.  It’s as if the writers don’t know what it is they’re doing, and decide “well, I’m a guy…I like girls…maybe girls who like girls are kinda like guys” and then roll with it.  It’s sickening.  And it does nothing to help the case of LGBT Rights groups, because it gives a caricaturization of people like them.

There is absolutely no reason for this.  LGBT people are people.  Yes, you have your men who are feminine.  Yes, you have your women who are masculine.  That’s true REGARDLESS of sexuality.  There are plenty of gay men who are the epitome of macho, and there are incredibly beautiful lesbian women who love to wear dresses and high heels and work the sorority scene.  There is no cookie cutter mold to human beings.

For those reasons, there is no reason Kirk would have to change at ALL if he were to be Bi, or even Gay.  There shouldn’t be a change to Janeway’s black coffee loving ways just because she suddenly finds Torres very attractive and is competing with Tom.

Part of my reasoning for Jessica and Justine’s relationship is because that relationship already existed, prior to their Star Trek incarnations, in City of Heroes.  Justine had already been in a committed relationship with another girl, Bridget; neither girl was completely sure where they stood in regards to their sexuality, but they both knew they loved each other.  Bridget could best be seen as bisexual; she had had boyfriends and then one girlfriend prior to Justine.  Justine was in her first committed relationship, but wasn’t 100% sure of her being homosexual.  They were teenagers; as much as they were learning about math and science, they were learning about themselves, too.

Enter Jessica.  She had had more than one crummy relationship with boys.  She was damaged goods, dealing with self-image and self-injury problems.  She was desperate for a friend.  She found herself attracted to Bridget because she was beautiful and always there for her when she needed her…but to say she was in love with her was odd for Jessica.  She’s not gay.  Even after she was pulled into the relationship, in a very unorthodox triangle where her, Bridget, and Justine were in a committed relationship with each other, she would swear she was not gay.  For her, it wasn’t a matter of liking girls over boys; she was just, simply, in love.

Yes, I have a little bit of experience writing less than normal relationships and playing them out.

When Star Trek Online came out and Justine and Jessica migrated there, we brought the relationship as well, opting to go a little simpler and leaving out Bridget.  Justine, again, is not 100% sure on the “I’m gay” front; she’d describe herself as being bisexual (or, now that she’s in a relationship with Jess, omnisexual since Jessica isn’t really a *true* female, but that goes into alien biology topics for later).  Jessica, on the other hand, is an incredibly skilled biologist.  Her life revolves around science.

Female and Female relationships don’t produce offspring.  It’s not logical; it goes against everything she knows as a scientist.

Her relationship with Justine allows me to explore an area that everyone talks about with homosexuality, but very rarely portrays.

Love versus biology.  The need for human beings to love and be loved…not necessarily to pass genes.

Jessica will continue to swear that she is not gay.  For now, she’s willing to accept that there are more possibilities, other options, than what she has learned through most of her life, that love isn’t just about biology, but about emotions.  And that’s why she seems very unsure of things when Justine first kisses her.

But, it’s very easy to over portray it as well.  For this, I don’t have a specific example of written fanfiction.

Instead, I direct your attention to a pretty well made fan-production called “Hidden Frontier.”  It was one of the first fan-productions I had seen and really began to follow, and I enjoyed it greatly.  It bothered me a tad bit, since it didn’t seem plausible that, on a Galaxy-class starship, practically everyone on board minus two or three characters was gay.  It just didn’t seem…believable to me.  And maybe it’s my own bias, I don’t know.  And I realize the production company was comprised of many gay men.  That didn’t bother me at all.  The gay characters were refreshing, and I enjoyed seeing very believe people who just happened to be gay.  That is one thing, despite the overabundance of characters, that they did right.

There was nothing that set their characters apart just because they were gay.  Everything that set their characters apart took center stage, and their sexuality was explored in the background.

That, I feel, is how it should be done, if it matters enough to be said at all.  I realize this turned into a bit of a rant, and I realize I’ll probably offend some people with the way I say things.  Please, hit me up if there is something you would like to discuss further.  But, in the end, it shouldn’t matter.  It is a non-issue, something that should be relegated to a character’s bio as much as their birthdate and where they call home.  Sexuality is a fun topic to explore, for sure…but it should never be what defines a character.

People are defined by their actions, by their words, by the relationships they build and burn with other people.  People are people.  Just like soylent green.


On a somewhat related note, could someone tell me where the term “slash” came from?  I saw that and at first thought it had something to do with, like, blood and gore horror.

Evil Toons

So, the blog prompts are going to be coming every so often, and I figured I’d give my first whack at this one, even though, as I’ll explain, I can’t really answer this just yet:

With the recent death of the talented Michael Ansara, the Trek universe loses the man who brought to life a character that was, perhaps, the first three-dimensional Klingon, Kang.

Michael Ansara as Kang

In Day of the Dove, Kang isn’t just out to fight the bad old humans. Instead, he listens to reason.

And so our newest prompt asks – how do you write evil characters who are not mere caricatures? Do you find ways to garner sympathy, even for the wicked (or the devil, perhaps?)? Do you surprise your readers by turning a character from good to evil, or evil to good? How grey is the shading?

Bonus questions!  1) Which evil characters have you enjoyed writing the most?  2) Which evil character, created by another author, have you enjoyed reading the most? 3) Which canon evil character do you enjoy watching or reading the most?

So!  Evil characters!  Because every hero needs a good foil or, even better, a villain.

As of now, my evil characters come down to…zero.  I have no actually evil characters.  The closest were both featured in “Ghost Ship;” the Devidians (and their leader, the Phantom), and the Hirogen (led by the Beta Gan and Gamma Tunarj).

The Devidians I drew heavily from both their actions in the TNG episode “Time’s Arrow” as well as the enemy group from Star Trek Online (the setting for Rafale – Star Trek Online).  Writing them was very easy; they were hunters, but in a different sense from the Hirogen that were also showcased.  While the Hirogen had rituals and codes about the glory of The Hunt, the Devidians were interested only in feeding their brood.

The Hirogen found themselves not only with a power vacuum (necessitating the Beta’s rise to the Alpha position on the battleship), but also with a pesky Federation Akira-class that was living up to her sister-ships’ reputation.  This made writing the Hirogen fun; they had been featured heavily in VOY, and play a large role in the game once the player begins taking missions in the old Romulan Neutral Zone (now home to the Romulan Republic, a new faction and ally to both the Klingons and the Federation, despite the war between the two).  Without going into too many spoilers, the empress opened up much of Romulan space to the Hirogen to hunt in in exchange for their loyalty; thus, why the Hirogen are in the game and in Romulan space.  In VOY, we saw a few underlings rise to take their Alpha’s positions:  once was because he died fighting an Undine (Species 8472) during a hunt, similar to the situation I created in my story; another, because the Alpha was killed in a coup attempt, again somewhat similar to the situation (the Beta deciding to simply take charge, regardless of his Alpha’s status).  They were always, however, portrayed as simply enjoying the sport of hunting, no matter the obstacles their prey made for them.  I decided to make this particular Beta, one who had never failed his Alpha, desperate to continue succeeding (thus his repeated attempts to destroy the Rafale).  I thought it turned out rather well, and I hope other people enjoyed.

But, still, I don’t have just some Evil Villain to thwart Jessica and the Rafale


Borderline “villains” in my series currently could be Seymour Sonia and Elaina Seurer.  Seurer, the Chief Engineer, was senior to Jessica prior to and during the Battle of Vega; Jessica overstepped Seurer to take command and save her friends, prompting Starfleet to reward her with command of the Rafale.  While Seurer was more than happy to continue on as the Chief Engineer, she makes sure Jessica knows who outranks whom, and that her loyalty is to the ship and crew – not Jessica.

Sonia, on the flip side, has no loyalty to the ship or crew.  He also outranked Jessica prior to the battle.  Unlike Seurer, who did make an attempt to take charge and do something about the state of affairs on the ship, Sonia hid in a Jeffries tube in shock for two weeks after the battle.  His act of cowardice – an act which prevented him from being in Engineering and stepping up similarly to Jessica – along with her innocent request to keep him as her Operations officer, has Sonia at odds with her constantly.  He is always looking for some way to embarrass Jessica, to prove that she should not be in command.  He isn’t make attempts to take command from her and Obruz; he only wants to discredit them so that more “qualified” people (like Seurer) can take the center chair instead.

Are these people evil?  Not really (though Sonia is a douchebag).  Still, they are fun to write, especially since just like the Devidians and Hirogen offered countering displays of predatory nature, both Sonia and Seurer are displaying different instances of insubordination.  One, while willing to be disruptive to Jessica behind closed doors, still does her job as an officer; the other doesn’t care who hears him, he wants the world to know what he really feels about his captain.

As for other people’s villains, I’m afraid my knowledge is limited since I’ve been trying to finish muddling through the Gibraltar series.  Right now, my favorite is (and I’m sure this is pretty easy to guess) The Baron.  I would kill to be able to think of a villain like that and write him, and he is definitely the favorite villain so far in the series (though *HIDDEN FOR SPOILERS* in “Scorched Earths” is starting to take his place…which pisses me off because I LOVED her character.  *sigh*)

Canon evil characters…I dunno.  I love Khan obviously (Montalban, original series and movie Khan, not the hack job from STID, though Cumberbatch did a good job with what he was given), and Chang from Undiscovered Country was fun too.  I really like Dukat and Weyoun, though I don’t know that Weyoun was ever truly “evil.”  Dukat, though, was definitely off his rocker, bat shit, freaking crazy.

I think, once I get some actually evil characters into my fic, I might revisit this.  We’ll see.  Leave your comments down below, and if you’ve got a question you want me to address, just let me know!

Tell Me Who Are You

What?!  Homework?!  I never wanted to go back to school…*sigh*

To be honest, it was either this blog prompt or the one for yesterday: Sell Yourself.  For as much as I like to toot my own horn and for as proud as I can get about my work…I’m not very good on the selling part of it.  I can be painfully shy, especially when put on the spot to say how awesome I am.  SO…onto mirandafave’s homework assignment:

What approaches do you take to writing and conceiving your characters? Do you have their milestones and the path that made them mapped out already? Do you perhaps also have their future map laid out? How do you go about realizing and bringing from conception to written reality your characters?

Writing and conceiving my characters tends to be off the cuff, at least in the After Darkness universe.  I just started writing and they gradually fell into place; personalities, relationships, interactions.  None of it was planned out (such as the Captain and “Abuela” being romantically involved.  That was something that I wrote down, I looked at it, and said “I like it!” and it stuck around).

Rafale – Star Trek Online has been different.  Keep in mind, I had been playing the game with these characters for about two years before I started seriously writing anything about them.  On top of that, Jessica and Justine were carried over from City of Heroes; they already had their personalities set in stone.  There were still a few tweaks to be made (they were graduated from college now, rather than high-schoolers in City of Heroes).  So those characters were the easiest.

Obruz Dossu, the First Officer, came next.  He was the first “Bridge Officer” I received in the game, so I got to know him quickest.  He was Bajoran, and I made his costume include the traditional earring; he’d be a follower of the faith, perhaps handed down from his father?  I put a scar on his face; a memento of a past conflict that troubles him still to this day, thus his refusal to get the scar healed.  I made him a security officer, rather than a tactical officer; he has more of a mind for ground tactics and people skills, rather than ship’s weaponry and tactics.  From there, I came up with his story.  He was a security officer on the same, ill-fated ship as Justine and her lover, Bridget.  During the battle, he would have gotten into a confrontation with a Borg drone; the close brush with death, combined with all the loss of life in that battle would cause him to want to keep his scars as a reminder of the battle and what had been lost.  His faith he would attribute to his father, a cleric who had died some time ago from a relic of the Cardassian Occupation; while still very important to Dossu, his faith would falter with the death of his father, and waver more after the Battle of Vega.  He chooses to follow Jessica into her new command out of a sense of repayment for her saving his life.

Next was Nizeri Sano, the Trill science officer.  I chose to model her appearance and voice on Renee Felice Smith’s character Nell Jones on NCIS: LA.  She’s knowledgeable and confident in her abilities, but she needed some more of that “junior officerness” about her, as she was another officer thrust into the command staff because of the death of her predecessor.  It wouldn’t be till much later (about a year ago, actually) where her fear of being joined was added to her character, so that she would be bound thematically to a character of TPhoenix’s on his Independence.  Her relationship with Wirstowx came about randomly; I liked the idea of the largest, strongest alien on the ship protecting the most fragile, smallest one, so I put the two together.

Wirstowx was a no-brainer for me.  I had finally come up with a name for his race – the Oza – for their appearance in Archangel, as well as their physical appearance.  I wanted to actually make one, so I used the game’s character creator to help design his look.  I loved the result so much that I kept it; Wirstowx would be one of a handful of Andromeda Galaxy aliens (to include Jessica) who had decided to go to the Milky Way before it was closed off from Andromeda, never to return home again.  Much of what he does is random, but it’s easy to do for an alien who says very little; Wirstowx is the brawn for my story.

Most of the characters from there on I began formulating as I played the game.  Seymour was going to have a “fighter-pilot” kinda cockiness about him; Elaina would be prone to taking risks, and somewhat less inclined to be happy with Jessica outranking her; S’Tel would be stoic and Vulcan in public, but willing to let her facade come down in private or with those close to her.  I also decided that she would eventually transfer off the ship, allowing me to introduce a new doctor for the ship.  As the characters ran around on the screen during away missions, I would think of who they were, what they would be saying, what was going through their mind as they did things.  I still fill in the gaps for much of the stories, but the basics are all already determined; I know enough about who they are to know what makes sense in-character for them and what wouldn’t make sense.

How’s that for the homework assignment, mirandafave?  lol

Where to Now?

For your fourth blog prompt I am going to ask you to consider the setting. I’ve written a post touching on this before where I find that settings/locations often shape a story. So tell me, how do you choose your settings – be it planet, ship, ship class, heck Trek era even? How does the setting shape your story? What world building lengths do you seek as a writer / as a reader? Do you like descriptions and to paint the scene or do you leave it to the imagination of the reader. However you choose to interpret this prompt, have at it.

Hmm…settings.  Without them, stories really don’t go anywhere…literally.

I guess, starting simply with ship class, it depends.  With “After Darkness,” I chose the old freighters from ENT as a crossover between ENT and the JJ-Verse.  I chose the Newton-class because it was an intriguing design.  Maybe not the ship of line, but a somewhat specialized ship, maybe for long-term extensive research-type missions.  Not a warship, but also not a tugboat either.

For Rafale, I (obviously) used the ship I was playing with in-game.  I had read (somewhere, I can’t find it anymore) that the Akira was basically the new design that was replacing the Excelsior, as far as it’s widespread use and appearances in the fleet.  I decided on a refit-version that traded a lot of firepower and the hangar for extra labs, letting her fill the role of the Excelsior-class ships she was replacing.  That way, Rafale was definitely more than capable of being a warship in a time period where the Federation is at war with the Klingons again, but then also more than capable of going on short-range, quick down and dirty science missions.  I wouldn’t have a ship that would slice through enemies in space, nor be able to single handedly cure the Phage; she’s intentionally hamstrung to make the stories a little more interesting, as well as keep the ship dependent on the Fleet that she’s apart of.

For world building, Rafale is very easy – I use the game Star Trek Online for the backdrop.  There is a lot of story there that has already been established that I can use very easily.  In a few more stories, I’ll be departing somewhat more heavily from “canon” in the game; the backdrop will still be there, but they will be much more original situations that currently are not (and probably, never will be) in the game.  Once that divergence occurs, I don’t see the game shaping the story much more, until something happens that I decide to address in story.

I am a pretty visual person.  While leaving a setting to my imagination could work, I really enjoy when the writer goes out of his way to really describe what it is the characters are looking at when they board a ship or beam down to a planet.  The weather is a big player, too.  So many people don’t realize that you can use the weather like another character that your main people have to react to, another character that can drive your story forward.  Too often it’s just…nice and sunshiny.  Or, at least, that’s what I’m left trying to determine since no description is given.  Even on a ship, the staleness of the air or the rocking of the deck or even the occasional pinging and creaking of the hull is important, and can be used really well to set a mood (see:  Ghost Ship).  Even if the writer tries and isn’t good at it, the more you practice the better you get.  I can appreciate trying.  I try all the time.


Ok, so probably not my best response.  I guess I really wasn’t sure how to approach this; I’ve never really thought about my world build.  I’ll have to ponder this a bit more; maybe I’ll revisit this prompt later down the line.

Time And Relative Diversity in Infinite Combinations

So this prompt was actually my idea, but I couldn’t just sit back and NOT answer it.  What would be the point of that?

My blog idea is to try and maybe see just how far out there some of us have gone, are considering going, or wish we could go in the pursuit of IDIC in our fanfics. So, of those who are doing it, what other shows/media (or even star trek eras) are people pulling into their fanfics as crossovers? What crossovers do some people wish we could see, or want to try and write themselves. How do you feel about crossovers in star trek in general?

SO, allons-y!

My wife and I recently got hooked on a little show from across the pond (ha!  Pond!) called Doctor Who.  Maybe you’ve heard of it.  Basically, it’s awesome.  And lots of running.  Since starting to watch it we have cried numerous times, I can no longer go into a dark room without looking behind me multiple times for a stone angel, and I had the overwhelming urge during chem-warfare training to turn to my partner, while wearing my gas mask, and ask “Are you my mummy?”

The one crossover fic on the site that I’ve read and fully enjoyed was MDG’s “New Threat.”  Go check it out.  Unless, if you’re like me and can’t stand to start something that isn’t finished yet and have to wait for the rest to be posted (hint hint).  It’s a REALLY good crack at combining Doctor Who and Star Trek.  And after the rumors of the possibility of ENT/Dr. Who crossovers if ENT had continued, and now the comic book that was released with Matt Smith’s Doctor and the Enterprise-D joining up, the two shows seem to just beg to be thrown together.  Ok, maybe not beg, but dammit they play well together!  And if you haven’t read MDG’s New Threat, go.  Now.  Read.  It’s fun!

As far as for me, I’m a bit inspired to try my hand at a Doctor Who story, but I’m not sure about mashing Rafale with it, and which Doctor I’d use, especially since I’m a bit limited on my knowledge (we started with Eccleston and just got to Matt Smith two days ago).  I know I’m also going to bring in a few elements here and there from other places – if you’re familiar with the Mass Effect series, you might start to recognize a few elements here and there in coming stories.

The main crossover I’m working on is a TRON crossover.  It’s still in the works, and still a ways off, but I’m really excited about it, and I think it’s going to be really fun to do.

“What now?”  She asked quietly, looking down at Sark’s remains.

Tron knelt down, picking up Sark’s disc.  “It ends.”  He stood back up, placing both his and Sark’s disc on his back, finally looking at Jessica.  “We finish the game.”

Obviously, I like crossovers in Star Trek.  Fan Fiction is the best place, I feel, for crossovers of this kind of magnitude to live and be enjoyed more fully.  We can do anything we want – within reason – in this realm of fan fiction.  And it only makes the Sci-Fi that much better.  IDIC, right?  Crossovers are the epitome of that phrase.

Critical! Super Effective!!

What’s this?  Another blog prompt?  You’d think I’d start actually doing this on more…consistent basis!


Again, using the Boldly Reading discussion thread, it got me thinking about the hope of generating more reviews. So here’s your short and simple blog prompt: what do you like to see in a review of your work? what do you comment upon yourself in a review? has a received view changed your opinion on a story you wrote or were writing? and finally, has a review sold or warned you off another author’s story?


Reviews, reviews.  We all crave them.  Why else do we write?  Sure, I enjoy getting the ideas out of my head and in print, as if making my dreams into something more tangible, but I love when other people read my work and enjoy it.  Sure, not everyone likes what I write, and let’s be honest, I’m not a huge fan of a lot of other writing out there (Sorry, but it’s the cold hard truth).  There are probably a few people who have read maybe one or two of my things and had to shake their head, put it down, and say “I can’t read this anymore.”  It happens, and I’m certainly not offended by it.

My vision of Star Trek is very different from yours.  It’s just a fact of life we as writers label “creative differences.”  And it’s great.

I love to see positive reviews of my work.  I love when people just pile praises upon praises.  Every now and then I get a negative review, and I have to try and see things from the reader’s perspective (which isn’t always easy for a very proud man to do, believe me).  I like to see when people who read my work picked up on little “easter eggs” that I throw in here and there, or realize why I did things a certain way.  It makes me giddy knowing other people could see into my brainz as I worked.

I am the worst about leaving reviews for other people.  I can safely say I have read maybe four times as many stories as I have left comments on them (before the ficlet flashdance, at least.  I tried hard to keep up with that).  Part of my problem is that I’m still one of the “newer” faces around here, which means many of the stories I’m trying to get into have already been read and reviewed by MANY people.  It’s a little…off-putting, trying to come up with something to say that hasn’t already been said by three or four other people already.  More often than not, I just leave it alone rather than repeat what’s been said.  What do y’all think?  Do you care if you get a couple reviews that all look pretty much identical?

When I first arrived, I wrote USS WHISTON, a piece for a monthly challenge that asked to explore the JJ-Verse and the fall-out of Nero.  In that story, in the opening scene, I had the chief of security of the ship pull his phaser on his bumbling roommate.  And, when the roommate continued to make noise, he flipped the phaser from stun to kill to threaten him off.

I got at least one review that basically said “WTF?  How can he get away with something so undisciplined?”

And I thought about it, and the person was absolutely right.  It shouldn’t have happened.  He should have been strung up by his toes for it, in fact.  So, I have actually taken that input into account while writing part 3, GHANGWL.  The opening scene shows the chief reprimanded, and banned from operating anything more than a hand phaser pending “remedial weapons training.”  That’s probably the best example of using a review to help shape the next piece of the story that I’m writing.

As for turning me away from a story?  I haven’t seen any reviews that would do that to me (yet?), since most everyone on the site is actually pretty positive.  It’s pretty cool.

That does it for that prompt!  That was fun!

A Soft Place for a Rock in a Hard Place

From Miranda Fave:

Given the thoughts being bounced about in the Book Club idea Boldly Reading my prompt is a simple: what do you like to read? what fanfic story type/era/character and heck even name an author here you gush over do you like to read?

Well, this should be a fun prompt (and thanks for the nudge to get blogging!)  What do I like to read?  Well, I actually do like to read fanfiction now.  I’ve gotten very tired and bored with the stuff that’s usually put out on the mainstream market with the Star Trek logo on it; we need fresh stuff beyond the Next Generation era characters (TNG, DS9, VOY).  Don’t get me wrong, I love TNG and the characters (I grew up with them) but it’s time to explore more.  That’s what Star Trek is about.

Beyond that, I am a Sci-Fi/Fantasy kinda guy.  Read “Ender’s Game” a year ago finally and loved it, and I totally can’t wait for the movie (even though I won’t get the chance to see it in IMAX or 3D…so bummed).  Hobbit, LOTR were my favorites growing up, and it really has pushed me into the sci-fi and fantasy realm of what I enjoy.

As for on Ad Astra itself, I like to read TNG-era stuff.  It’s comfortable for me.  I’ve never been a huge follower of TOS, so despite the iconicness of that time, it’s very alien to me.  Right now I’m working on finishing the Gibraltar series and let me tell you…wow.  Sam is amazing with his Gibraltar stories, and you can definitely see a transformation and growing in his writing style as you follow the series.  I seriously love it, and I’m actually kinda honored he and MDG asked me to try my hand at making characters (in Star Trek Online) to be used for a few characters and the Europa, to include my favorite Pava (*fanboy squee*)

Another awesome story I read was “451” by, interestingly enough, 451.  It was, at the time, the only Star Trek Online universe story, and I felt it gave the community a great first look into the universe, especially before I jumped in and started wacking you all on the head with it with my “Rafale.”  Definitely recommend reading that one as well (I actually did recommend it, during the final review hunt.  Glad to see it get a few more reads and reviews!)

Well, there you go.  I hope that fulfilled the prompt well enough!  lol

Of Twihards and Trekkies

So, as I’m sure we can assume, based on the direction my previous two posts went, where this one is going.

We’ve hit my beginning footsteps into the fandom.  We’ve hit the point when I jumped in and started fanfic-ing (however tentative that intial step was).

So now, we’re here.  What am I doing *here* at Ad Astra.

As I mentioned in the previous installment, I’m active duty Air Force, and currently stationed in Oklahoma City.  My wife moved in a few months prior to our wedding, and we’ve now been here for the past four years.  So, go back four years.  What was popular back then?

That’s right.  JJ-Trek released.  Let me tell you, I bought into the craze.  I saw that movie a whopping 9 times in theatre.  Once in IMAX around opening weekend, and then 8 more times, all here in OKC, about once a week.  Every weekend.  For two months.  I loved it.  My love for Star Trek was rekindled, you could say.

Also popular?  Twilight.  And let me tell you, my (now wife) loved it.  Not really because the books were *great,* but because she got involved in an online fan group that called themselves Twihards.  They talked about the books.  They talked about the movies.  They talked about crazy fan girls.  They talked about how ridiculous the directors were.

And, they wrote and read fan fiction.  That was the first I had learned about the *possibility* of Fan Fiction.  My first knowledge was of fan productions, like Hidden Frontier, Aurora, Phase 2.  They were fan made, but they were still movie/television “series” type of shows.  They weren’t pen and paper; it was all still visual and audio.  I never considered it “fan fiction.”  This was the first I learned that fan fiction – fan produced writing – existed in MANY different genres.

Fast forward about two years.  I’m deployed, on what I’m thinking is a six-month long stint, away from home.  Internet sucks, so trying to watch shows is out.  And I had only a few burned movies in my possession.  I needed something to help occupy my time.  So, I Googled “Star Trek Fan Fiction.”  I figured, “hey, why not.  [The wife] loves fan fiction.  I’ll see what people have done for Star Trek.”

First or second, in the list of responses to my search, was Ad Astra.  I clicked.  I checked out the featured story (I forget what it was now).  I saw the monthly challenge – a JJ-verse story.  I read jespah’s entry, which was our first introduction to the wonderful (and my favorite) Eriecho.

“I can totally do this.”

The result?  “Star Trek; After Darkness – USS WHISTON.”  My first piece of proper fanfiction.

Since then, I’ve gotten heavily into my Star Trek Online universe that I play in, helping to add another universe for the people of our community to enjoy.  I’m active in the forums and on the site, contributing to monthly challenges and, now, the Twelve Trials.  I’ve gotten some awesome reviews.  I’ve gotten some criticism.  I’ve read some series and stories, and (I’m ashamed to say) had to turn away from others.  Just because I can’t stand cliff hangers and need to know “what happened next,” I’ve sorta put reading other people’s series on hold until I finish Gibraltar’s “Star Trek Gibraltar” series (which, I just learned, is getting ANOTHER story added to it currently.  I think I’ll finish…eventually.)  After that, I’m certainly game for suggestions, but I know I need to read SLWalker’s Scotty stories, and trekfan’s stuff (I need to know more about Bethany now that she’s part of the family over here!  It’s so cool!).  I’ve loved the community since I joined, and it’s been eye opening and inspiring to see all the different styles of writing, all the different takes on the central Star Trek theme.

With Archangel still waiting to be created and Rafale well in the works (I have, ready to go, the possibility of 12 more proper stories in the series), I am enjoying this new chapter in my Trek life.  I’m almost afraid, if a new series were to be made for TV, I wouldn’t enjoy it.  It wouldn’t be the same as the incredibly original series and one-shots that have been created by some of the coolest people I have ever met.  And now that I’m dragging a friend into the mix, I’ll be one of three authors to write in the Star Trek Online universe, and in the same vein as our United Trek brethren, in that our two series would be in the same universe within STO as well.  I love where I’ve come, and I love the community I’ve joined.

Keep your eyes peeled for more.  I haven’t come this far to just stop when one story is done.  I’ve still got a whole other series to create and share.

That said…any artists want to help?  My comiccing skills leave much to be desired.  🙂