Most rosters in the StarBase 118 fleet are filled with members of well-known species – humans, Vulcans, Betazoids, Klingons, Trills. Spiced throughout are the uncommon species, and this series hopes to investigate those unique characters and the writers who decided to explore the strange new worlds of Trek.
from the USS Avandar, S’Acul Aeunalliv, a Caitian
As many forum frequenters know, S’Acul’s writer goes by “Ensign FluffyPants” there, indicating an ease with the role of the character. Yet the decision to write a Caitian was completely random and based upon the desire to write for a character that would be more challenging than a “safe” human. “I went to the ILI and started scrolling down through the names until I saw the word ‘Caitian.’ I had very limited exposure to the species, not much outside of a few novels and the animated series, but I thought it could be an interesting challenge to take on that race in particular.”
Once the gestational S’Acul was definitely Caitian, however, the rest of the character came easily, and is perhaps strongest because he is built upon contradictions to what little information does exist. “I have made some choices that very much fit in with the typical Caitian line of thinking; yet I have also made choices that go against what a typical Caitian would do as well. For example, Caitians are known to be pacifistic, and S’Acul typically abhors violence – however, when he is in danger, all bets are off. We did a sim, a hand-to-hand combat evaluation. He treated it more like a hunt than a battle – and it ended up being quite brutal. I’m certain most Caitians would have been appalled by how he did – needless to say he passed with flying colors.”
Writing for uncommon species can often inspire creativity when those writers recognize that certain crutches of phrase are not available to them; for example, “making [S’Acul] expressive has definitely been the most interesting part – see, he can’t smile like a normal person because of his facial structure, or at least not as visibly. His jaw is designed a little bit differently, too, and because of all the fur on his face you couldn’t tell if he is blushing or angry or whatever.” Where a human or a Trill character might be able to specify embarrassment based upon a blush, that option is not available here. “To get around that, I have made his ears, his whiskers, and his tail work for me in that regard. When he’s sad, or upset, or angry his ears will flatten out. His whiskers will also shift depending on his mood. His tail has been the most fun thing to play with – usually its just swinging side to side, but its sort of become a new arm for him. He holds a mug full of raktajino in it to free both of his paws for working, he can use it to play peek-a-boo with a small child while talking with someone else, or he can play tricks on someone by tapping their shoulder with his tail while looking them straight in the face.”