In “odd jobs” we examine some less traditional posts and the characters and writers behind them to inspire you to investigate potential for your own character.
Today, the featured character is Lieutenant Commander Sky Blake a Starfleet Ranger attached to the USS Veritas.
SHAYNE: Tell us a little bit about you, the writer- where in the world do you hail from?
BLAKE: I hail from good old sunny Australia. I’ve been in the fleet close to seven years now and have written for three different PCs during that time – I only recently came back to Blake following a few years playing Tristam Core, but Sky Blake was my original PC when I started on the USS Challenger-A.
Tell us about Starfleet Rangers, and why you chose to have your character pursue that particular career.
The Starfleet Rangers are officers from a branch of Starfleet Security whom emphasize on planetary survival skills and ‘the ability to work alone for long periods of time’. They explore, patrol and protect the borders of Federation space, and this can be through relief efforts, attachment to colonies, patrolling the borders as scouts, etc. As of today, there are two different divisions of Rangers – platoons and regional support. I consider the platoons are your “special forces” kind of rangers, who are deployed for combat in the densely populated areas such as the divide between the Klingon Empire and the Federation and always have a ship or a CO to report back to at the end of the day.
The regional support officers however, which is what I play Blake as, are deployed to the less populated borders (such as the divide between the Tholians and the Shoals) and operate by themselves, or more rarely, in groups of two or three. Most of the time, these particular borders are inhabited areas of space that aren’t usually “attacked”, so those areas don’t need combat personnel 24/7 guarding them – they need support officers for natural disasters on planets, assistance with colony construction or planning, or for someone to join an expedition into unexplored land in a support capacity. I find the role is more rewarding if you’re not constantly thinking about the next “enemy” and more about the civilians colonizing this M class planet right on top of the border line and just far enough away that Starfleet can’t be there in a flash if they feel they need assistance for something.
The reason I had my PC become a ranger was because I went on an LOA last year, and the circumstances of Veritas’s region of operation require some creative license when coming aboard or leaving the ship, as to travel from somewhere like Antor II to “regular Federation space” takes a few weeks due to the warp travel cap. It made sense to keep Blake in the area instead of pulling her in and out and explaining travel times, especially since I’m a stickler for details. The problem with this however is that we’ve established that there is significantly less of a Starfleet presence in the Shoals compared to other areas, so upon finding the Rangers on the wiki, it made sense to me that Starfleet would post handful of Starfleet Rangers to go work as individual officers on colony worlds such as Shadow’s Edge, to give those guys a bit of a boost – also as somewhat of a political stunt on Federation’s part, to say that they were “providing more Starfleet resources” to the Colonial Coalition as asked.
Back then, the Rangers weren’t quite established on the wiki (aside from a handful of sentences) and as the Shoals is at the border of Federation space and the Tholian Assembly, it was really a golden opportunity to flesh these guys out a little more using what I can find and how others have approached this kind of role in other groups. When I got back from leave, I was fortunate that my captain was receptive (quite eager, actually) to the idea of keeping Blake on Veritas as a ranger, so now she’s a attached to the ship and continues her duties as they travel from colony to colony. While she is a member of the Veritas crew by technicality, she has somewhat stricter rules to follow when she’s on a planet surface or aboard a different vessel or station, and it makes for a neat role to fill. She’s also at a bit of a disadvantage, because though she’s equipped to operate as the only ranger in the area, she’s assigned to quite a large area.
Are there any particular challenges that you face playing a Ranger- challenges that might not be present or as present with another duty post?
BLAKE: When I had Blake take on the role to explain what she was doing during my LOA, I didn’t really consider what her position would be on a ship – slotting her into a mission is a bit of a challenge, as the Rangers aren’t established in canon and the initial purpose of the role was to work alone or really in groups of three or four without a starship crew to report back to. But the Rangers are a branch of Starfleet Security, which means I’ve at least got a general direction in which to sim. When simming Blake in mission, I usually play by “when in doubt, protect” – as protecting her fellow officers is her primary duty aboard the Veritas, especially as a member of the Security department, and protecting the Federation border is her primary objective as a ranger – so whenever something threatens either of those things for whatever reason, putting her in front of that is usually the best course of action.
When I got back from my LOA, other players had started jumping on board and explaining the Rangers in other manners (which is how the platoons started), so finding exactly where Sky fits in that kind of set up was a pleasant kind of challenge in itself – hence her secondary title as “regional support officer”, so to separate her from the idea of her simply being around for combat, which is definitely not the case.
What might an average day for Blake look like? From what I can tell on the wiki, the roles a ranger is trained to take on are numerous- how does that fit into their daily lives?
BLAKE: Depends on the day, really. An uneventful day in the Shoals comprises mainly of Blake sitting behind a desk trying to get into contact with the Colonial Coalition Marshals Service so to update them on Veritas operations and vise versa. This could take a while due to the tetryon emissions affecting communication. It’s not glamorous, she doesn’t spy on one party for the other, she doesn’t get hold of or is given classified information or orders; she’s acting as a relay between Starfleet and the Marshals.
On an eventful day, chances are she’s coordinating with civilian services and Veritas operations during a crisis. Her job first and foremost is to civilian bodies within the Shoals – such as the Marshals and their duties towards colony citizens. She’ll operate essentially like a Starfleet Security attache to civilian organizations so to aid and protect where needed. If the Veritas is just by itself and there’s no civilians involved (such as the mission we’re currently undergoing), she’ll act as a security officer awaiting orders. She tends to jump on violations of protocol or law in the area pretty quickly – sufficed to say that if a commanding officer decides to jump a 2 million+ tonne starship into the Shoals, she’ll have handcuffs ready.
When by herself, she’s there to protect the Federation borders and again, assisting civilian bodies. As the colonies in the Shoals are densely populated, she’s not required to use any survival training, but her job during these periods is to watch over the border and report back to Starfleet. Marshals may also send her where they believe she’s most needed – sometimes that’s following smugglers or pirates, providing aid in colonization, assisting in relief efforts, civilian exploration – the list goes on. As a Lone Ranger (ha ha), life could get pretty interesting for Blake.
Any interesting stories you’d like to share regarding Blake’s adventures as a Starfleet Ranger?
BLAKE: One of my more fonder memories of settling Blake in as a ranger was sending her to the Embassy of Duronis II for “crash course training” – since she requires the same training as officers within a platoon, a lot of which is considered marine training, so it made sense that Starfleet would at least want her to be up to date as to what those requirements actually were. I used to sim with Hannibal Parker when I was posted to the Embassy ‘way back when’, and since Blake had gone through a lot of changes in regards to her personal plot, this was the perfect opportunity to bring Parker back in and for him to help her come into this new role and really be the stepping stone for her getting comfortable in her new position both personally and professionally. It also highlighted the differences between what the Embassy’s marines are permitted to do during their operations verses what Blake’s allowed to do as a ranger, and the kinds of “pictures” each side had to look at in regards to overall consequences for their actions in the field, as they come from very different areas. Blake undergoing target practise and explaining to Parker why she’d stunned (or failed to stun) targets in “Consequence” is easily my favourite scene of her as a ranger.
If someone else showed interest in making their character a Starfleet Ranger, what advice would you give them?
BLAKE: For being part of a platoon of rangers, generally those officers have primary duties and then act as a ranger as their secondary duty aboard a vessel. That’s really a conversation to be had with your captain.
For individual rangers such as myself without a platoon, be flexible in regards to exactly what your character will be doing mid-mission, especially when on the solo ranger route. There’s not really a lot of resources to go on (none of those resources are canon), but there’s a lot of angles you can take when approaching this kind of position. There’s more to the Rangers than being a stock-standard kind of “special forces” officer – Starfleet already has those.
Thank you for your time, LtCmdr. Blake!
You can read more about LtCmdr. Blake on the wiki.