Daring to Walk Where Angels Tread

As I ended the previous post, I entered college still with the idea running in my head of the Raptor and her crew.

College was a wonderful time for me, and I was focused on…ah, who am I kidding.  I can’t even finish that statement with a straight face.  I got involved at the Catholic Student Center on campus.  I was involved in ROTC.  I joined a fraternity.  I began playing my first MMOs (Final Fantasy XI and City of Heroes).  And, I continued to refine my ideas of my OWN Star Trek series.

It would have to be animated, I decided.  You can do anything with animation, to include incredible new aliens that would cost prohibitive to create, either with makeup or CGI.

I began refining the story of my crew, right down to where they sat on the bridge (side note:  Rafale‘s bridge layout, having the helm and tactical console integrated, was because of my thoughts at this stage.  On the Raptor, tactical sat at the front of the bridge right next to the helmsman, so that they could better coordinate their attacks and maneuvers.)

The captain was my character, Captain Steven Scott, a man who had willingly been partially assimilated in order to enhance his abilities.  His right hand was a Romulan woman named Sevlaan.  Tactical was a Caitian named Sayre.

As I continued forward and continued making plans, I realized a few things.

1)  I like too many “S” names.  I wonder why that is… (My name is Steve, btw)

2)  Raptor was a lone warship in a Starfleet of explorers.

3)  I was becoming more involved in my faith, and realized that, while a conflict-heavy setting would be inevitable for me, I wanted a more hope-filled story.

Designs changed again, and I fell in love with the sleek look and feel of the Prometheus class ship as well as the Dauntless NX-01-A from Voyager.  I hit the drawing board again, designing what would become the Gabriel: an escort-type ship that resembled a Prometheus with only the two lower nacelles.  She was slightly smaller, but packed much of the same punch.

My crew transferred over, with a few changes.  I came up with a villain – the Shay’d (damn S names) – who would be more feared than the Borg for the sheer reason that, while similar in methods (“assimilation” of sorts), they’d be worse because the Borg were emotionless, robotic.  What they did was programmed.

The Shay’d were capable of mercy.  And refused to show it.

I needed a new setting.  Most of the Milky Way had been explored.  The Delta Quadrant, while still virgin (Voyager didn’t do much damage) would involve species that were already canon.  I wanted something new.

Then, it hit me.  Why not leave?

My setting would be Andromeda, and a contested region of space that had been all but overrun by the Shay’d.  The last few races of an alliance (the Vinrali “Dragon”) were struggling to survive.  Starfleet would find a way there, hoping to explore, and be caught in the crossfire of a raging battle.  They would quickly try to remain neutral, contacting both sides for a cease-fire and temporary safe passage until they could figure out how to get back home.  One side would laugh and (their universal translators assimilating quicker) say no, firing on the Starfleet ships and destroying a few.  The other side would require a bit of “me Tarzan, you Jane” to come to an agreement, and Starfleet would join the Vinrali in repelling the Shay’d and, eventually, becoming allies with them to help protect the Vinrali and their allies and end the Shay’d threat.

Gabriel, I felt, was too masculine a name for a ship which would be, as all are, female.  Gabriel was kept as the class name (both in-universe and out) and the first ship – my ship – would be renamed USS Archangel, NX-96014.

Sound a little familiar?  This is the backstory, essentially, of how my characters Wirstowx and Jessica St. Peter arrived in the Milky Way.

A few character names changed here and there.  A few alien races changed here and there.  But ever since my freshman year (about ten years ago, now), my series has been Archangel.  I have almost an entire 7 “seasons” worth of material planned, between being on paper or just running around on repeat in my head.

This, friends, is what I consider my first “official” fan-series.  I realize Rafale – Star Trek Online might have been a little confusing at times, as far as back story that references Archangel, but I promise at one point I will have Archangel down on paper.  Though I don’t intend to animate it anymore, I do still want it to be illustrated; I’m leaning more towards a comic/graphic novel format now.

I’m out of college and about 6 years into my tour of duty as an Air Force Officer.  I’ve gotten married, and now have two kids.  I run marathons.  I’ve deployed 3 times, with a fourth only a month away now.

And yet, in all this busy time, I still find the time to play a new MMO that has consumed a lot of my time for the past 3 years.  Why?

Because it’s Star Trek.

And because, without this game and a certain novel series about werewolves and emo-teen girls and sparkly vampires, I would have never found Ad Astra.

And Rafale – Star Trek Online would have never existed, nor would the inspiration to continue to fight to get Archangel on paper.

The Beginnings of a FanFic Writer

I guess this post is kinda inspired by jespah’s blog post about how she got into Star Trek.  Although, I promise you, my story is not very in depth.  So, I’ll add to it and let my geek show.

I’m an eighties kid, though I don’t really claim it that much.  I was born in 85, so my first memories don’t really come forward until about 89’ish (and even then, it’s us landing in West Germany, and I have chicken McNuggets from the airport we left from in the States).  My parents tell me I fell asleep and my gum fell out of my mouth, getting all over my dad’s dress blues pants (he was enlisted Air Force at the time, and back then, you were required to be in your service dress when traveling.  Nowadays?  Forget about wearing that uniform ever in public in a new country.)

I was first introduced to Star Trek while we were stationed in Germany.  It was the show we watched as a family at night, usually after the typical Armed Forces Network news.  Saturday mornings had Sesame Street and Transformers and Gumbi, but night had the family watching Star Trek; The Next Generation.  My first episode that I truly remember watching?  Skin of Evil.

I was traumatized for life.

Still, I don’t remember much else of what was watched during that time were stationed in Germany.  I remember my dad commenting on why we were watching Star Trek:

“Because I used to watch this as a kid, and it was great, so I’m passing it on to you and [your sister].”

We left in 92ish, going to a small base in Del Rio, Texas.  Dad left for OTS, and I don’t remember us watching Star Trek, though I finally was exposed to the Original Series movies.

Wrath of Khan?  Also traumatizing to a kid.  *nervously bats at ears*

After dad commissioned, we left for Panama, where our family had probably the very best three years of our lives.  The jungle, the beaches, the camping and hiking and backpacking.  I got into Boy Scouts down there, and it definitely set the tone for what I enjoyed the most in scouts, and was an experience I never found again.

The Next Generation was still going strong in reruns on the main AFN channel there, though it was well into its 7th season.  I saw “All Good Things…” the day it released.  We went and saw Generations opening weekend (which, on base, was about two or three months after opening weekend in the states, lol).  We went and saw First Contact when it came out as well.  LOVED First Contact; still one of my favorites, along with Undiscovered Country.

At that point, I was a Trekkie.  And, though I didn’t know it, a budding Fandom Creator.  See, it was then that I began to really let my imagination fly.  I would play Power Rangers and Star Trek and a number of other games with my friends at the time.  We would run around the street shouting “pew pew” and “hi ya!” and “Morphin Time!”  Star Trek days we’d build a bridge in someone’s carport and pretend to fire phasers and take damage and “engage.”  My first curse word I shouted, rather unfortunately, during one of these play times when I was Riker:

“DAMMIT Geordi, I need shields!”

Yeah…that was fun.

I also created my first Trek, and of course (since I loved Power Rangers and G-Force and Saint Seiya) it was a crossover.  My ship was the “Raptor Claw,” a little yellow-colored LEGO creation with a saucer, two nacelles on vertical-stabilizers, and a giant, green “claw” that held ALL the weapons.  It was a Star Trek/Power Rangers conglomeration that I would draw over and over and over again in all kinds of space battles (some that even had the ‘Claw clashing with the Galactic Empire from Star Wars).  I had characters, I had the ship, I had victories and defeats and “fire everything!” and “Morphin Time!” where the ship would even morph into a more tactical-friendly layout.

Damn, I had fun.

We moved back stateside and the Raptor Claw was shelved.  I got busy with school.  Saw Insurrection in the theater and liked it.

We moved back to Texas next after a two year stint in Ohio, and when I got into High School my geek started showing again.  I played Magic.  I played Video Games.  I watched anime.  I watched Star Trek.  I began drawing trek again, this time creating a more Starfleet version of the ‘Claw.  This one was simply USS Raptor.  She was ENORMOUS; I had her dwarfing the Sovereign class.  Three nacelles made her a dreadnaught, and more firepower than a Borg Cube could shake a stick at.

But still, she wasn’t very classy, and looked hilarious in drawings.  But it was my ship.  And I drew her over.  And over.  And over.

And over.

More little dreams of what she was about.  More characters.  Fun situations and battles and losses and triumphs.  I actually started writing some of them down.

But it wasn’t until I was in college that I truly sat down and refined things.  And THAT is when I consider MY Trek formally started.

Origin of a Character: Storm Scream

So, it was requested in the last blog to spill the beans on the inspiration for Jessica, the young commander of the Starship Rafale.  Not necessarily a spotlight on the character herself, but rather where she (as a character concept, rather than the character herself) came from.

To tell this story, we need to go back a few years.  Late 2005/early 2006, while I was still in college.  While I was at school, I was exposed to the wonderful world of online gaming, first with Final Fantasy XI Online and then shortly there after with City Of Heroes.  City Of Heroes (CoH) was a remarkable setting with unprecedented character customization that only got better as the game aged (I jumped on the bandwagon a year after it was released, and played it up until a year before it was suddenly and unexpectedly shut down, so for around 6 years total).  My original character was called “The Air Man;”  he was a gadget-type hero (similar to Batman is) who used an assault rifle.  His premise was an Air Force officer gone superhero; Major Jason St. Peter by day, and a gun-toting, BDU-wearing vigilante by night with an insane arsenal behind him.  I played as Air Man for years…he was what was called my “main,” or “primary character.”  I developed his backstory and began role playing as him in small groups.

Shortly after I got the ball rolling on Air Man, an update to the game was released – you could now create characters with “sonic blast” abilities.  I was playing around with the character creator on a whim and created a mutant teenager who could control the weather (think Storm from X-Men).  She wound up being blue-skinned with blue hair -the stereotypical Marvel Mutant.  But, instead of using offensive storm abilities (it’s a bit dangerous to hurl lightning at people, kinda like shooting them with an assault rifle), she would instead channel the static electricity through special gloves she wore that housed powerful speakers in them.  Now, she could offensively use her lightning powers, but instead they would be non-lethal sonic blasts.  I chose a pretty fitting name for her that I was surprised hadn’t already been taken:  Storm Scream.

I had no idea that I had just created one of my most beloved characters, one that I would recreate in every online game I’ve played since.

I began to get tired of playing as Air Man; he was fun, sure, but when my goal of playing a game is to escape my life, and I go from preparing to enter the Air Force to playing an Air Force hero twice my age…it wasn’t very easy.  I found another role play group whose setting was a high school for super-powered kids – sort of like Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Children – and decided to give them a try.  I pulled Storm Scream down from the shelf, dusted her off, and fleshed out her back story.

Storm Scream was adopted as a baby, after being found in the rubble of her father’s – a mutant villain called Thunderhead – lair.  The villain’s nemesis, a hero that went by the name The Air Man, rescued her and soon after adopted the young girl, naming her Jessica.  When she was old enough to understand, he began mentoring her as a hero, creating her sonic gloves to help harness her unpredictable and dangerous weather powers.  Her personality was based on a conglomeration of myself and my two best friends, as were a few of her dark secrets – Jessica struggled with image issues (feeling that her blue skin made her even more of an outcast than she already was as a mutant) that manifested as self-injury.  I didn’t really know it at the time, but it was my own way of coping with my two friends, who suffered from similar issues of image and self-injury.

Jessica became my main at that point, and for the next 5 years she was…well…alive.  Teenage drama, High school drama, love, loss, rivalry…scenario after scenario happened.  I made many friends and burned probably just as many bridges, but it was an incredible ride.  Her last great story, before I left the game for good, was to become embroiled in a love triangle of questionable circumstances with her two best friends:  an empath named Justine Dubois; and a mutant capable of “hypnotizing” a person with a chemical that she secreted from her skin who went by the name “Dearest,” but known otherwise as Bridget Kinsley.  Justine and Jessica were happily in love with Bridget and each other, and Bridget was happily in love with Justine and Jessica.  It drew more than one quirked eyebrow and head-shake, but dammit, we had fun.  And no, not THAT kind of fun…

Star Trek Online went online in February 2010, and Justine’s player, BrandNewHero, and I came over, bringing our two favorite characters with us.  Justine was recreated as half-Betazoid, and Jessica was re-created as a one-of-a-kind alien found in the Andromeda Galaxy by a young medical officer (Jason St. Peter).  Bridget’s player came with us as well, but was less-inclined to bring Bridget – and the “trio” – to the new setting.  BNH and I, not wanting the “trio” scenario again either but still wanting some reason for Jessica and Justine to come together, decided to kill Bridget in the opening story.  It was not an easy decision, and it was a heart-wrenching scene to role play out.  The results can be seen in “Blood Red Dawn” and “Fix You.”

The rest, as they say, is history.  Jessica’s stories are being written down at Ad Astra, and she continues to live an incredible life – just in a very different setting.

Update: 66612.5

Well howdy!

This is mostly just an update to say that life has been throwing a lot of…strikes…at me the past few weeks.  I’m in training for a different job, and I hit a bit of a snag the last month or so.  BUT!  My training went really well yesterday, so I’m back on track to do a final evaluation next week, and I’ll be good to go.

Needless to say, writing in general hasn’t exactly been high on my priority list, nor has coming up with something to write for here.  I expect to get back hard in the swing of things once my training is complete though.

I’ve started on the fourth story for Rafale, titled “infilTRAITOR.”  I know, I know…it’s misspelled.  I know, I know…you know it was on purpose.  This is probably the last of the stories I do that pulls from the game somewhat directly, though this one is heavily modified from the original mission (as opposed to “Ghost Ship,” which pulls heavily from the in-game mission).  I’m looking forward to “infilTRAITOR” because I’ll be introducing a character played by a very good friend of mine and basically kick-starting his own story lines (assuming he continues to be excited about writing, lol).  We’ll see how it all goes, but I know it’s going to be a fun story to write for me.

Also started is my submission for the monthly challenge.  I’m not going to go into too much detail, but it will be filling in a bit of the gap between “Ghost Ship” and “infilTRAITOR.”  I’m still a bit iffy on the delivery of it, but I think it’ll be a nice contender in the mix.

Beyond this, I’m not really sure what else to write for you guys.  If you have any questions you want me to answer here, or any information you’d like me to share (about characters or stories or whatever), leave a comment below and I’ll get to it!  Have a nice day!


A Beginning

Well hi!  I’m TemplarSora.  It’s not my real name, obviously, just the pen name I write under.  Actually, it’s my handle for a LOT of things nowadays.  If you go to another website or play a video game somewhere and see a TemplarSora, it’s me.

I figured most of the community that produces a lot of product for Ad Astra has these blogs.  I’ve read a couple, and it certainly seems like a neat way to talk about what you’re doing in your fiction, explaining your characters, letting people know you’re still alive and kicking.  So, I decided to join the party.  Granted, I’m pretty late to the party.  I hope the drinks haven’t run dry yet.

I’m also a somewhat latecomer to the community in general.  I joined up September 2011, where I produced a piece of fan fiction titled “After Darkness – USS WHISTON,” which followed a Starfleet crew in the alternate universe created for Star Trek (2009).  While it didn’t win that month’s writing challenge, it was a fun thing to do.  Up until that point, the longest “fan fiction” I had written had been in the form of forum posts for roleplay groups I was part of in City of Heroes (RIP) and Star Trek Online.  I had certainly always had ideas floating in my head for my own Star Trek “series” of sorts, that changed as I grew older, but until this point I had never actually written anything down.

My wife got me interested in the idea to at least go searching for Star Trek fan fiction.  She was part of a Twilight fan fiction community, and had even taken a stab at writing her own fanfic.  She enjoyed it, and still does.  She fancies herself an editor; she’s still editing for one of her twi-sisters who is writing a very long fan fic with no end in sight, but I digress.  My initial google search yielded Ad Astra near the top of the list and…the rest is history.  I decided I could write my own story, and did so.  Another challenge popped up, and I produced “Interlude – Silence,” which was my first longer-length story featuring my Star Trek Online characters.

My count is now at seven stories, with one monthly challenge win.  Two series – Rafale and After Darkness – with a third very well in the works.  And for Rafale, well…Star Trek Online is a vast universe in itself to write in.  I have two stories (beyond the three interludes pieces that I’ve done) in the Rafale series, and I’ve sent my third to the editor (read: loving, amazing, wonderful wife person) and started working on another interlude for this month’s challenge, while also starting on the fourth story in the series.  And let me put this into perspective…this is story four out of a planned twelve stories for the Rafale and her crew.  And while these first four (and even the fifth) stories pull heavily from the game itself, I’m doing my best to make them easy to understand and follow.  You won’t need to have played the game to completely understand what is going on.  But in story five and beyond…expect a large departure from the game storylines.  Along with that, I’ve been encouraging a friend of mine who goes by the handle ThunderPhoenix to write as well; when he gets going, expect some nice crossover work as we expand the same universe.

I’ll leave you with those little teasers for now.  I’ll update in a few days with a progress report, and hopefully we’ll make this at least a monthly, if not weekly, update.