In “odd jobs” we examine some less traditional posts and the characters and writers behind them. Today, the featured character is Lieutenant Colonel Rode Mitchell, the Commander, Air Group (CAG) of the Duronis II Embassy.
CHOI: For those of us who aren’t familiar with your character, how did Rode Mitchell come to be CAG of Duronis II’s Embassy?
MITCHELL: Mitchell became the CAG for the Embassy through a discussion with Rear Admiral Turner, Captain Tyr Waltas, and Major Hannibal Parker, who commands the Embassy’s Marine unit. At the time, following the wedding of Admiral Turner and Captain Waltas, Mitchell resigned from Starfleet and traveled out to Duronis II to retire. But after arriving at Duronis II, and events events going on with Laudean protesters, the three senior officers approached me to take over as the CAG, since the Marine unit on the planet is large enough to have its own air/space wing. At the time, it was intended to make use of my experience as I’ve served as a fighter unit leader on multiple ships, and took some of the extra duties off Major Parker.
Mark Twain once said: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.”
I was reminded of this during last week’s fleet chat when fleet fixture Renos was talking about how he wanted to run a mission somehow based off Pokemon. (Fighting tribbles, perhaps? A holodeck game gone wrong?)
This got me thinking about some of my favourite stories, and ways of drawing on inspiration from them to create missions that go beyond fighting intergalactic terrorists or settling diplomatic disputes between Klingons and everybody else. As writers we are constantly riffing on ideas we draw from other sources. Through speculative fiction concepts we are able to explore unique settings and themes that put our characters in situations that live up to the term “science fiction.” I put together some examples of how we could draw on our favourite science fiction stories for SB118 missions:
1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Summary: A dystopian future where books are outlawed and “firemen” raid houses and burn contraband literature. After an interaction with a strange young woman with a unique philosophy a lone fireman grapples with his beliefs about a hopeless, violent, anti-intellectual society.
Idea: The crew is called in to help a covert Starfleet anthropology team observing a post-atomic, pre-warp civilization. When an anti-intellectual government rises up and creates book burning brigades to control the populace, one of the anthropologists goes AWOL to help protect the culture’s rich literary history. The crew is ordered to extract her before she contaminates the culture, but by doing so would be helping the “firemen.”
De nobis fabula narratur: The Magna Romans
In the year 2268, the USS Enterprise landed on an M-Class planet, 892-IV, in search of the SS Beagle, a missing survey vessel. The crew found a pre-warp, pre-atomic species with technology and a civilization closely matching 20th-century Terrans.
“An amazing example of Hodgkins’s law of Parallel Planet Development,” Captain James T. Kirk logged. “But on this Earth, Rome never fell. A world ruled by emperors who can trace their line back two thousand years to their own Julius and Augustus Caesars.”
At the time of first contact, Magna Roma, as it would later be referred to, was controlled by the Magna Roman Empire, a society of conspicuous consumption with heavily industrialized economy and a hierarchical system of rule that relied on a reformed slave system. Slavery had survived for millennia by giving slaves rights under the law such as the right to medicine and old-age pension. Holdovers from the worship of Roman gods made their way into contemporary products, like Mars toothpaste, Neptune bath salts or the Jupiter Eight model conventional internal combustion engine automobile.
Freshly promoted Lieutenant (JG) Choi Ji-hu needed a confidence booster. The challenge of writing a character with general anxiety and low self-esteem is answering the question: what would get them to take up a position of command or authority? In Ji-hu’s case, he had the mantle of provisional office head of the Engineering Systems Programming Office (ESPO) thrust upon him by veteran Constitution engineer Lieutenant Dag Sindri.
I envisioned the ESPO as a team of eccentric, forgotten misfits, computer nerds–think The IT Crowd–relegated to the bowels of the Constitution, wedged between an Engineering support office and the Main Impulse engine. I dreamed up Operation Overclocking as a means of having them wreak havoc on the ship, which includes, but is not limited to, titling Jalana Rajel “Captain Cactus,” frightening an Emergency Medical Hologram, giving two shipboard holographic beings unimagined raw power and increasing computational efficiency aboard the Constitution by an astounding 0.015%.
Read it now: “Operation Overclocking: Computational Retrofitting To Galaxy-Class Vessel”
“In the game of military brinksmanship, individual physical prowess is less important than the perception of a species as a whole,” an operations officer aboard the Enterprise-D once explained of the Zakdorn. ”For over nine millennia potential foes have regarded the Zakdorns as having the greatest innately strategic minds in the galaxy.”
Hailing from Zakdorn in the Kador system of the Abin Zak Sector, the Zakdorn are an exceptionally cunning and strategically-minded race of humanoids. According to Federation star charts, their homeworld is located on the extreme edge of Federation space in the Beta Quadrant’s outer sectors.
The USS Blackwell is part of a larger story that is being told in the Par’tha Expanse. The Olympic-class vessel is one of four Starfleet ships that make up the ambitious Andaris Taskforce, a multi-starship campaign being simmed by eighteen player characters.
At the head of the Taskforce is veteran Starbase 118 player Rear Admiral Renos, and his PC, Captain Akinor Onali Zaekia, commands the Blackwell.
Renos pulled together the Andaris Taskforce with the SB118 crew because he wanted to try something different. “I’ve got a large and ambitious crew, with a number of people looking for leadership opportunities as they work along the command path with the ultimate goal of getting their own commands some day.