“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” – Veritas motto
I recently sat down with the crew of the USS Veritas, NCC-95035, in order to better understand one of the more unique vessels that compose our great fleet. The Veritas is not your typical vessel for a variety of reasons. For one, its location in the Shoals is quite unique: Tetryon emissions extending throughout the area make for some intriguing challenges from the very beginning!
“(Y)ou cannot go higher than warp 5 in certain areas, and can by no means use slipstream drive or get communications out swiftly – subspace and letters are crackled or delayed at best” – Deliera, who plays LtCmdr. Sky Blake, the Ranger aboard the Veritas
These kinds of restrictions, not applicable to any other post in the fleet, has some intriguing side effects, which, according to Deliera, was precisely the goal. By cutting down contact with the outside universe, and the bigger picture as a whole, the crew is able to concentrate on the smaller, yet equally meaningful parts of the region they inhabit, which fosters further creativity.
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.
The newest addition to the StarBase 118 fleet is the USS Doyle, NCC-80221-A, a Luna class explorer. Named after Scottish physician and writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) and one of New Scotland’s moons, the Doyle-A was launched on stardate 239204.02 under the command of Captain Shelther Faranster. Many of the Doyle‘s senior staff had previously served with Captain Faranster aboard the USS Constitution-B, a Galaxy class starship.
Designed by Dr. Xin Ra-Havreii at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards on Mars in the early 2370s, the Luna class was initially conceived for exploration of the Gamma Quadrant following the discovery of the Bajoran Wormhole and has since become one of Starfleet’s premier exploratory and research vessels.
Luna class vessels are equipped with a dedicated sensor pod at the back of the saucer section, allowing their crews access to enhanced sensor nets and data collection grids that rival many advanced space telescopes. The sensor pod itself is manned by up to eight crewman at a time, and a special suit allows an operator to directly control and manipulate probes fired from the pod.
To get an inside look at these technologies and more, I sat down with Lt. Commander Benjamin Hunnicutt, the man tasked with taking care of her as chief engineer, and Lieutenant Ceciri Ariadust, the Doyle‘s helm/com/operations (HCO) officer, to learn more about what makes the Doyle special.
As I approach the massive installation known as Starbase 118, home base for the fleet in which I serve, I look out the transparent aluminum window of the transport ship I am aboard as the computer announces its approach and then begins to dictate the starbase’s defensive and offensive capabilities.
Impressive, I think to myself. I stand listening as the station looms larger with each passing second as the transport ship approaches. I am not in uniform as this is not an official Starfleet visit to the station. The transport ship slows to a crawl as it awaits docking instructions upon its approach. After a few moments, the transport ship adjusts its vector approach and picks up speed and I stand there, with my thumbs in my jean pockets and my carry-on bag slung over my left shoulder, smiling knowing I am about to board a station that has become a part of Starfleet lore over the last two decades.
Now under the command of Commander Leo Handley-Page, someone whom I have had the privilege of serving with in the past in different roles, the starbase has taken on a brand new feel. For that, I am sure as for each of the previous commanding officers of the station, also came along with a unique style of command.
Knowing some of the history of Starbase 118 Ops, but not all by a long-shot, I eagerly await the transport to complete its final docking maneuvers. I then hear the moorings clamp in place and the announcement describing disembarking instructions coming over the speakers, followed by the final message, “Welcome to Starbase 118”.
Moments later, I find myself in the bustling concourse area of the starbase. Here, people of all walks of life, from Starfleet officers, to civilians of all shapes, sizes and species come together to shop, dine, drink and party. It is designed to resemble a commercial sector of any city on any Federation member planet with holographic areas that would cleverly disguise the fact that this part was actually on a space station and not on a planet surface somewhere else in the galaxy. I enter one particular area of the concourse, and look up the the holographic blue sky with skyscrapers extending as far as the eye could see.
“The candle of liberty has always been kept lit by a vigilant few.” -Russell Pearce
This is the motto of the newest Starship to be commissioned for StarBase 118: The USS Vigilant NCC-75515-A. A Hephaestus-class starship launched in April 2391, the Vigilant-A will patrol the Zeta Gelis Region along with the USS Darwin-A, keeping that candle burning to represent the interests of United Federation of Planets. Equipped with a quantum slipstream drive and capable of operating in Multi-Vector Mode, the latest incarnation of the Vigilant is tougher and better equipped to deal with the demands of maintaining a Starfleet presence in such a remote sector than her predecessor.
Fleet Captain Diego Herrera, the Commanding Officer of the Vigilant-A, was kind enough to chat with me about his new ship in this installment of “A Closer Look.”
Nathan Baker: Firstly, the Intrepid class Vigilant was knocked out of action by a cascade failure of the computer core, correct?
Diego Herrera: That’s correct – a sophisticated virus created by someone with extensive knowledge of the LCARS system found its way aboard. The crew had been able to contain it for some time but when they tried to purge it it caused irreparable damage to all of the system start-up protocols. That left the computer systems throughout the ship crippled and made it unsafe to power the Vigilant back up.
The beginning of the year has seen several new ships launch into the fleet, ready to explore the unknown and search for new life and new civilizations. One of them is brand new: The Dakota Class USS Gemini under the command of Commander Liam Frost. Let’s take a closer look…
Atlantis has been spoken of for centuries as a place of knowledge and understanding. In the UFOP we have been lucky enough to have several ships embody those principles, one of which is the namesake for this mythological island nation. Like the Atlantis of legend which vanished from the world, the our Atlantis too sank below the waves of time. However in true form of our persistence and belief in the exploration of the unknown, and unlike it’s mythological predecessor, the USS Atlantis is rising back above the waves of time and soaring into space once more. Here is a short moment with it’s new commander Raj Blueheart.
In March of 1999, the Federation starship Kodiak was launched under the command of Captain Jasen Rendary and his first officer Commander Lang Vedoc. Later the ship would be best known as Vice Admiral Hollis Calley’s ship. The venerable Bajoran admiral would become the only player to have served aboard all of the various incarnations of the Kodiak as well as her successor ship, the Ursa Major. He would command all but the original Galaxy class ship. After all of these years, the mark of the Kodiak is still deeply imprinted in the fleet. Every single commanding officer currently serving in the Starbase 118 fleet traces his or her lineage back to the Kodiak under the command of Admiral Hollis.
There rarely comes a time when we can look at an officer that has been with the fleet for over a decade. The name Steve Lee McCall has been on a roster for well over 10 years. He had the privilege of serving on multiple vessels during his time with the fleet. He spent most of his time with the USS Discovery and all of her namesakes. After a very distinguished career, Captain McCall has decided to retire. He helped pave the way for what Starbase 118 would become, just as every past command officer and member has. While we wish him all the luck in his future endeavors, he will be missed. Captain McCall has served alongside another longtime member for years, Captain Tyr Waltas. Of everyone in the fleet, Captain Waltas knew McCall, and his writer Rob, the best. As Captain McCall drifts off into the sunset, we leave you with the words of Captain Tyr Waltas…
Intelligence has been a part of Star Trek lore for years. Section 31, the Obsidian Order, and the Tal Shiar have been integral to the story lines of TNG and DS9. Today, most ships/bases in the Starbase 118 fleet have an intelligence officer. But what you might not know is that long ago intelligence existed as its own simming group. This is the tale of Black Tower, a group that was not a starship and not quite a base. Roughly ten years ago Black Tower began operations under the command of Lieutenant Colonel K’sena of Kyrl.
This was a group unlike any other that had previously been under the command of Starbase 118. When Black Tower was first introduced, to join a player must have been in the fleet for no less than six months. They would then have to submit a new application, creating a new secondary character. As part of this application, which ensured that every player joining Black Tower was truly elite, the applicant had to write two assessments. The first was an undercover mission impersonating a Tal Shiar officer aboard a Romulan Warbird. While collecting information for SFI, the applicant uncovered a plot that would destroy an unsuspecting Federation fleet. The second was more open-ended designed to explore the writer’s creativity. They simply had to expound upon their tricorder suddenly picking up energy fluxes that their ship did not pick up during a planetary scan.