After experiencing an unprecedented amount of growth in our fleet in the last few months, we’ve responded with a series of launches and relaunches: Commander Leo Handley-Page aboard Starbase 118, Commander Renos on the Darwin, and Fleet Captain Kali Nicholotti with the Excalibur. In this interview, James, the writer behind Renos and an experienced former CO (he previously wrote for Greir Reinard), explains much about the relaunch of the Darwin and the adventures he has planned for his crew.
A: The Horizon class USS Darwin NCC 99312-A was always a ship I felt passionately about, particularly as I designed and created it based off the ship as seen in Star Trek Online (STO). It always felt like I had unfinished business with the ship and region because there were so many things I wanted to do with both. It also helped that I’ve simmed in the region for something like 2 years now, so I have a lot of familiarity with the resident species and the stories that have been told in the region which I like to build upon.
The Darwin might not be the best armed ship but the containment sphere is something else no other ship has and it presents us with a number of unique opportunities. We’ve already used the containment sphere to cleanse the atmosphere of a planet poisoned with Trilithium resin and faced with the total annihilation and extinction of all life. We also have the possibility of sheltering small ships such as shuttles inside the containment sphere, or collecting huge samples from nebulas or conducting large scale experiments within it. There is also the fact that the ship is built like a tank and can take quite a considerable pounding, making any ship to ship combat frustrating to assailants, even if it takes some clever thinking on our part to compensate for the weaker offensive capabilities.
The Zeta Gelis Region is near Romulan space, which alone gives us a lot to explore post Hobus but it’s also home to a few other interesting species:
* The Zakdorn – a strategically masterful race on the edge of Federation space
* Zalkonians – a Xenophobic, isolationist species of which a handful are hunted due to an evolutionary process that seems them transform in non-corporeal beings.
* Asavii – A reptilian, underwater dwelling species of my own creation in the early stages of exploring space and intergalactic relations.
There are still stories I wanted to explore with them and I had a shuttle race planned for our home station Deep Space 6 as well as a few other surprises. Looking to the future, once I have explored that which I had in mind in the Zeta Gelis Region it is my hope to move the Darwin into a new campaign region.
A: It was a difficult choice to choose Renos over Greir Reinard as I’ve simmed him a long time, more than any of my others and I’ve had more fun with the character than any other. He was my best fleshed out character and I’ve done so much with him. More than that I had a lot of plans I never got to write that I still wanted to see through. When I returned to the fleet after my LOA I was placed on the Apollo and didn’t want to sim with Greir Reinard at that point, so I created Renos who does have an interesting story to tell over the course of the year.
When the Darwin launched Ed, the player behind Fleet Captain Herrera was not active in the fleet, having retired. He wrote for Greir’s fiancé Chen as well as a number of important characters in Greir’s life. With a lot of the people who’d know Greir either having moved on or in other places around the fleet it felt in many ways as if he’d had his time. I don’t regret a thing and decided to give Renos a chance and see what I could do with nem instead.
Q: What makes the Darwin and Zeta Gelis a unique combination?
A: The Darwin is primarily a science vessel but its defensive features and containment sphere make it useful in a variety of situations. The Zeta Gelis cluster nearby is largely unexplored and there is lots of unexplored space around us – so there’s a lot out there for us to poke our noses into and discover. The region is filled with possibilities and really gives us the perfect opportunity to do what the Darwin does best.
Q: What distinctive and special things do you get up to out there?
A: I already mentioned the Darwin‘s launch mission from its first time out in which the Darwin cleansed a planet’s atmosphere using the containment sphere. Another memorable mission involved a visit from a lady Q, who transported the senior staff to prehistoric Earth. There the crew were faced with an evolutionary problem that they had to solve to prove their intelligence, while surviving in the wilds of that time period without phasers, tricorders or any luxuries. It was a lot of fun to see the crew coping and working together in that situation and doing a problem that tied back into the Darwin’s namesake Charles Darwin. It didn’t take long for a T. rex to pop up and chase one of the teams across the open plains near the forest they were foraging in and at one point Q turned Richard Matthews into a stick for being cheeky. That gave everyone a good chuckle and got them wondering what had happened – was he dead and what was like to be an inanimate object?
Q: What do you see for Renos’s arc as a CO?
A: J’naii are an androgynous gender neutral species who view the idea of gender as repulsive and primitive. It creates a cultural stigma in which ‘deviants’ are considered insane and in need to treatment, which is unpleasant and amount to brainwashing. Renos is a deviant because ne is genderfluid. This means that sometimes ne identifies as being female and at other times identifies as being male. Ne came to the Federation many years ago as an asylum seeker who with the aid of allies in the J’naii underground movement was granted refuge. Without recounting the story in full ne has committed to giving back and helping others as much as possible out of gratitude for the break ne got.
Renos took up a career in medicine to give back to the Federation after granting nem a safe place to be nemself, to help those in need as well as study gender in other species in the hopes of understanding nir own better in some way. Ne is also grateful to the underground movement – whose actions are illegal on J’naii and not sanctioned by the Federation, and has been helping them in nir spare time in small ways.
The arc for Renos is going to explore the work ne does for the underground, the way ne feels torn between duty to the underground, J’naii deviants like nemself and the Federation. There is an individual back on J’naii that ne and another character Avaris Torrin are trying to help but only time will tell if they succeed, if their actions come to the attention of the Federation and Starfleet and what sort of a mess that could create.
As a new commanding officer with no command experience its making for an interesting transition IC as Renos settles in to the new role and grows in confidence. Ne’s definitely finding it difficult but it’s an interesting story to tell and I expect nem to settle into the role over the first few missions. I have something big planned for the beginning of next year that all of this is working towards and how it ends will be down to the crew and what they do. Who knows, maybe this time next year you’ll be asking me about the inspiration behind my next PC?
Q: Have you simmed with any of the Darwin‘s current writers, especially on the Darwin‘s first voyage?
A: There’s a nice mix of new and familiar players and it’s all good! I’m glad to have Valdivia, Jellico and Peters, who I was working with on the Victory with my Trill 2PC Janel Tarna. I also have Avaris Torrin and Maxwell Traenor with me from the Apollo. I’m extremely fortunate and grateful for that as the two writers had become involved with my Renos arc and I like to think Ne was becoming important to theirs too so I’m very happy we’ll be able to continue doing those things together on the Darwin.
I also have Ashley Yael, who I simmed with on the Avandar only back then the player was writing for Chase Valaine. She’s a wonderful talented writer too so I’m delighted to be able to work with her again and I’m sure we’ll get up to a lot of mischief together. Ilyazi Malon is another familiar face from the Vigilant, I had Greir when I worked with her than and I’m delighted we’ve been reunited.
The only player I have with me who was on the Darwin originally is Kael Thomas. He might not be my FO this time but it hasn’t stopped him from coming up to the bridge to lend a hand. Renos is very much appreciating his experience in and knowledge of the area so I feel there’s a great story to be told there and I’m sure his support is going to help nem settle right in.
New faces include my first officer Brayden Jorey from the Embassy, Pods from the Garuda and Connory from the Columbia. I feel very excited and lucky to have who I have. Absolutely everyone has come to the ship and simmed with passion, I can tell we’re going to have many wonderful adventures together.
Q: What advice would you give to future COs who launched once and will be relaunching after some time away?
A: Any future CO who has launched once and finds themselves in a position to be launching again after some time away is likely to remember the steps that are taken as a ship is launched. I personally didn’t feel things were as nerve wracking the second time around because I’d done it and settled a ship once so I knew what to expect and that I could do it again. There isn’t much I’d say to someone in that position that I wouldn’t say to a new CO except perhaps for this: Don’t be afraid to look at things that were done the first time around and change them. What worked the first time might not work so well the second time around and vice versa. Be flexible, enjoy it and remember, in life second chances can be rare so grab hold of it as tight as possible and don’t let go.
Best of luck to James, Renos, the Darwin, and the whole crew! You can follow the adventures of the Darwin via the sim archive.