So one last post for tonight. Here is the original story that I wrote for the Guard. Virtually nothing in this, save for two characters, has survived in the rewritten story. This was written about 4-5 years ago (don’t remember exactly when, but it’s old). There are a lot of problems with it (Gorn before the TOS episode Arena? What was I thinking?). The writing is a bit cringe worthy. So glad I never pursued this version.
#1 The Dark Winds
A crew’s ongoing mission…to save or destroy the Federation.
In the 23rd Century, the United Federation of Planets had established itself as a exploration and peace keeping organization. Within the confines of this resolve, a task force was formed to assist and defend the Federation from any threat, whether it be from outside invading forces, or from within the Federation itself. This organization operated outside the confounds of the laws and regulations established by the Federation. As such, they had no boundaries, able to go and come as they pleased. Some say they are a band of hired murderers, ex-cons, and the unlawful law men. Outcasts to the very government they served, yet bound to it. They are called…
…the Black Guard.
Authorized to use any force deemed necessary, they fight mercilessly to defend the Federation from dark forces. However, a dark past will come to haunt their very dreams and drive them to madness. Something or someone is tearing apart old wounds and deepening fresh ones. Someone is intentionally causing upheaval and is trying to demolish the Federation, not to just cripple, but to ultimately destroy the it. The Black Guard has been reestablished, with a former member tasked with getting together a ship and crew to fight and defend the Federation from this threat. However, learning to work together won’t be their hardest mission…
…it will be learning to survive against each other.
Chapter 1: The First Opportunity
Stardate 2245.03.04 – Colony Blackmoore
A deathly air hung over the bar that night, “Ooby Dooby” playing from the old record machine. Drunk patrons swindled their Romulan ale, singing sweet songs of hardships and bounty. Pirates and wanted criminals. His kind of scum, but not the ones who would be interested in helping the Federation. No, they would rather baulk at it and draw themselves to whatever corner they hide. They were opporunists, but not the caring kind. No the man he wanted was sitting in here, all he had to do was find him.
Bishop moved among the drunk patrons, scanning the crowd. Andorians, Klingons, Terrans, Loftites. None seemed to notice him.Bishop noticed a lone Terran sitting at the bar, his head slightly down, ignoring the Orion slave woman staring approvingly at him. Bishop pulled up his modified tricorder and scanned the man. Thirty four years of age, six-foot-one, and two hundred and ten pounds. Name: Davis Varamir. Bishop smiled slightly to himself. Davis Varamir: neither wanted man nor good smaritan. Known to the galaxy as a mercenary, one haunted by a past neither women nor liquor could repress. Davis looked exactly like Bishop imagined him. A deep, dark brooding man who never stayed anywhere too long, taking jobs where he could find them, then to disappear into the night.
It’s a wonder Section 31 hasn’t tried to recruit him yet, Bishop wondered. He sat down next to Davis and ordered a Budweiser classic. Davis took no notice of him, or if he had, he just didn’t care. Bishop watched Davis from the corner of his eye, Davis still oblivious. Bishop looked towards the Orion bar keep.
“It’s always like this here. The scum of the universe come here to where there’s the only source of hope. To them, everyone in this room is family, a close knit group of thugs and criminals. Get’s stressful when they get really into the drinking. However, I get off in a few hours. If you want to show a girl how to relax…”
She handed Bishop a holocard. The Orion walked away as Bishop pocketed the holocard into his jacket. He glanced towards Davis, who now was staring at him. No. He was staring pass him. Bishop turned to see three Gorns walk into the room. The room got deadly silent fast. The talles and most powerful looking of the trio strode forward. Bishop noticed they had their hands on their phaser rifles. He turned forward, lossened his shirt, laying a hand on his phaser, his index finger slightly stroking the trigger. The tall Gorn walked forward and stopped at Davis.
“You shouldn’t be here Terran. This bar is for non-Terrans only.”
Bishop took a swing of his Budwiser. He felt a large claw come down on his shoulder.
So the giant lizard was talking to me, Bihop thought as he turned.
The Gorn leaned forward, his nostrils just inches from Bishop’s face. The smell of flesh and saliva filled Bishop’s nose. Bshop casually pushed the claw off his shoulder and stood up, coming face to face with him.
“Says who? As far as I’m concerned, this bar doesn’t have your green scaly ass on it.”
Tension filled the room as the Gorn raised his clenched fist.
“That’ll be enough Savir.”
The Gorn turned to Davis. Davis did not turn back.
“This Terran reaks of Federation wrench. I should kill him now for setting foot inside here.”
Davis turned to Savir and slid off his chair. Davis was taller than the Gorn, and he showed an alpha like dominence over Savir.
“Federation officers wouldn’t dare set foot in a place like this, let alone beam onto this planet. As far as I can tell, he’s just another ghost, passing through like the rest of us.”
Savir looked from Davis to Bishop. He paused for a second, then brought down his arm. He looked backed at Davis and said something in Gorn. He turned to the other two Gorn and left the bar. Bishop hid his phaser back under his shirt.
“Insulting a Gorn is not a good idea. They can tear you in half with just one arm. I reckon you wouldn’t last one minute in a fight with Savir.”
“He’s a got a temper that’s quick to flare up,” Bishop said, sitting back down.
“Savir is trustworthy, but sometiems he lacks patience and understanding. Now,” Davis said grabbing his drink,” what brings a Fedi all the way out to this corner of our humble galaxy?”
“For one, I don’t actually work for the Federation or am apart of Starfleet. As for why I am here, I’m on business.”
”I’m looking to recruit some for a job.”
“I assume this job is dangerous?”
“Dangerous, suicidal. Rash and what Vulcans call illogical. It’s all that and more.”
Davis turned towards the bar and set down his drink.
“I assume the job pays well?”
“My associates have agreed to pay in latinum bars. 50 for every week we are on the job.”
Davis let out a whistle.
“Fifty gold nuggets. The are only two goverments who have the ability to afford that kind of salary. One are the Gorn, the other…the Federation.”
“Are you interested?” Bishop asked intently, noticing a Klingon and Andorian taking interest in the conversation.
“Maybe I am, but here is not he place to discuss such things. I think you see our two friends at the table taking notice in our conversation? They belong to a little group of thugs who take every chance to earn a little cling. ‘First Opportunities’ they call it.”
Bishop stood up and motioned towards the front door.
“Perhaps we should take this somewhere a little more private?”
“Yes, but not that way. In about thirty seconds, thirteen thugs are going to run in here and phasers will be glowing red hot.”
“Shouldn’t we tell everyone else?”
“No. It’s a common occurance here. The thugs out there aren’t that smart. This is a ‘family’ bar, and the patrons here won’t like anyone disturbing that.”
Davis led the way out of the bar, Bishop taking a quick glance back before leaving the bar. They walked between the narrow alleies as phaser fire erupted from the bar. They walked for several minutes, pass homeless men and women, huddling together for comfort and warmth. Bishop notices some shadows mover overhead.
“Probably our two friends from before. I had hoped they would have been smart and stayed at the bar. Now it will cost them their lives.”
At that momet, Davis pulled out a phaser from his jacket and fired at the pipes over them. There was a spark of light and the piping above them exploded. The pipes fell apart and the two shadowy figures came down in front of them. Blood splattered on the streets, both the Klingon and Andorian dead. Davis looked towards Bishop, who had a surprised look on his face.
“Trust me, it’s better than what they would of done to us.”
Davis ripped off the coats of the two dead bodies, startled expressions on their faces. He walked towards a homeless alien couple and wrapped the coats around them. They thanked him as he continued walking. They walked on for several more moments before approaching a large valley. In the center laid a rundown DY-500 starship. The ship looked like it had been put together with scrap metal parts and whatever else someone could find. Sounds of engines reverberated, indicating the ship was still be able to fly. They approached the ship, workers going over the hull of the ship and repairing it.
“This is the last transport out for the night. It’ll take us up to the station. Unless you have any objections?” Davis asked.
“Son, I have piloted ships in worse piss-poor shape than this through bloody asteroid fields and emergency landings. A few loose bolts and floorboards don’t bother me.”
Davis smiled slightly. They boarded the ship as it rumbled to life. Bishop found himself at a window seat, looing up at the massive roof of the cave. Large metal bay doors opened up, letting the sunlight penetrate the underground valley. The ship rose slowly off the ground, then the power went out. The ship fell to the ground, shaking the frame, metal groaning under the impact. A crew member ran past him towards the back. Bishop heared a large metalic noise, as if someone was banging machinery with a large mallet. The ship roared to life, and the crew member ran by again. Bishop looked out the window as the ship rose into the air. Davis just shook his head and bent his head down.
No one spoke in the dark cabin. Lights constantly washed over the passengers, illuminating from the lights of other vessels, none interested in their transport. The ship aproached the eerie and grim looking station, and Bishop took notice of a Federation Destroyer leaving the station.
The duo found themselves being escorted into a station stateroom, with the complementrary service. Bishop threw his coat onto a chair and began pouring a glass of water.
“So this job…I assume is more than just go somewhere and shoot a bunch of bad guys and then return home?” Davis asked intently.
“More than that. My associates want me to find and recruit anyone, be it mercs, thugs, criminals, or just the desperate, for a mission of great importance.”
“And this mission of great importance… what would it be?”
Bishop turned towards Davis, pausing for a moment before speaking.
“The mission is to save the Federation from being destroyed.”
You may have heard the saying “the hardest part of writing a story is the beginning”.
When you come up with a story, sometimes it’s easy to envision the end goal and where it leads, and usually becomes the most thought out part of the story. You may come up with a good central plot, with some minor subplots along the way. You may even have a vague notion on how the ball gets rolling, but without a well thought out beginning the story never gets moving. The rest of the story may be already written and set, but without that crucial part, it never brings captivates them.
That is the main problem I face at the moment.
(Everything from here out that is italicized is background info).
When this story started, it served as a sort of prequel series to my story of the Renegade (which is unrelated to that series of similar name). Back then it was named the Black Guard and was centered around a ship of criminals, murderers, and thieves who were commissioned by elements in the Federation to find an enemy that threatened the Federation’s existence. They were expendable and they knew it, but they were getting paid, so they flew off into the unknown. By stories end I had planned to kill off a few of them and have the rest change enough that they realized what the Federation stands for is not so bad. They would become the outcasts who saved the Federation.
Well it should. A similar plot was featured in the first episode of Star Trek: Renegades a few years after I released the first chapter on the web, before the guidelines came out and they dropped the Star Trek elements. I wished I realized then when I knew now: it was a stupid plot. Not to mention a cliche. So last year or so I began thinking on how to rework the plot. Things changed drastically.
The Black Guard became the Guard. It’s background changed from secret black ops organization to a sort of citizen militia, not too unlike the National Guard. They would have their own fleet of ships that were smaller and not as powerful as the ones possessed by Starfleet. Their crews weren’t military men and women with years of training who traveled vast distances to make contact with new civilizations and seek out new life. They were normal citizens, who wished to protect and serve their world, but lacked they capabilities and/or ships to do so. They were families, whether by blood or friendships, who wanted to see everything they worked so hard on to be protected.
How I Discovered the Path
So the plot changed and my problems began.
The prologue opens up with the USS Sampson and events unfold that begin this story. But how to unfold these events so we know something bad is going on or going to happen? Obviously, I can’t just giveaway the main problem from the get go.
We learn in the first few pages that the current captain, Andres Trector, is not to keen on his current assignment. Being a colony construction manager, he’s more at home on a planet or even a moon than a starship. He is not a military man nor prone to swift action, but he preforms his duties nonetheless. He may show hesitation in his decisions, but he carefully weighs his actions.
It’s in the confrontation with an unknown vessel do we get a glimpse of something out of place. A mysterious transmission from the vessel is sent out. Without giving away too many details, events begin to spiral downward before the prologue comes to an abrupt end. And that leads us the beginning of a mystery.
Seems I have it all figured out? Nope. I was surprised I even got it that far. When I started I came up with the Andres’s thoughts and maybe a few sentences afterwords. That’s it. I had no idea how the mysterious transmission would be received by the Sampson or how it would begin to propel events forward. I was stuck for weeks. Even a few searches online on how to write stories failed to solve my problem. Eventually I stumbled upon an old document I had saved.
It started off with”write out the beginning, middle, and end of your story”. So that’s what I did by writing down a short but important part of the plot on sticky notes.
The Beginning: The Starship Sampson receives a mysterious transmission that prompts the Guard to investigate its source.
The Middle: The investigation leads to a gathering of all the main characters. While their motives and stories (starting off from different places) are all different, they are all connected by a similar plot point.
The End: The main cast finds information that forces them to work together to achieve their goals, but they are unaware of what is truly going on.
I did this for the first book, but decided it was best for the followup stories as well, even if I wasn’t ready to start any basic work on them. This helps me ensure my story stays on track and decide whether to introduce certain plot points sooner or later.
The next step: get a map. Of course getting from Start to Finish isn’t as simple. There has to be a journey to that point, whether figuratively or literally. While the document was vague in this area, it gave me enough to go on to decide how to proceed. Having your entire plot laid out in front of you all at once is useful. Thankfully I had a few corkboards laying around that I could use. So I began with the outline by writing out the basic plot of each chapter on index cards. I placed them from top to bottom on a corkboard next to my sticky notes. As I was writing the outlines, I realized there were events, characters, ideas, etc that needed to be brought up later. I took some smaller sticky notes and placed them next to the appropriate chapter to assist in establishing story points that would eventually make a return later.
Keeping a binder with all your writing and notes in is a must. I grabbed a handful of tab dividers and set up sections: themes I wanted to explore, characters who would appear in the story, events that would be either referenced or occur in the story, notes that I had jolted down over the years, and of course artwork I had lying around that I might incorporate into the story. If you are like me you probably have tons of stuff lying around, whether it be art, writing, etc. Go through them, no matter how old or stupid they may be. There might be something in there you can use.
While this post was more to show how I solved some of my problems, I hope it helps others in some way.
Meant to post this a while back but here it is now…
Some info and stuff about the interior of the USS Sampson…
Oh yea. Since I started writing my story, I decided the Sampson will have a larger role so she needed to be rebuilt. Several of my designs are also due for an update and I’m working to keep things consistent across them (i.e. same size windows, airlocks, decks of 3.5 meters, etc.).
Originally she was suppose to only be seen in the prologue, but I decided I wanted to keep her around a bit longer. Her back story is still mostly intact (built during the Felgoth Crisis, command by then-Captain Russel Isodor, who is now in charge of the Guard and at the rank of Admiral). The prologue opens up with her current captain, Andres Trector, who took over for Admiral Isodor years earlier. The planet they are in orbit of is a familiar one, one you won’t be expecting, and will touch on an issue I think is important and relates to today.
EDIT: Amendment. Since I’ve been rethinking how ranks and such work in the Guard, Andres won’t be the rank of Captain and instead will be at the rank of Commander. He will still be the highest ranking officer aboard the ship, but since the Guard is more citizen militia orientated, Starfleet officers with the rank of captain and above will still take charge in most situations if it is necessary. Isodor will have one of the higher ranks (undecided if Admiral will be highest rank or something along the lines of Commodore), but will still be lower than Starfleet’s highest ranks.
The Guard ships answer to the government of the world it is assigned to rather than the Federation as a whole, but will have a bit more say in final decisions. There will be very few instances where they ‘outrank’ the local government. Also Guard ships are made up of vessels from the Federation member worlds, so it won’t be just Starfleet-type designs only, though there will be some mixed technology ships (Starfleet-type ships with Vulcan warp rings). The Guard is also more for worlds who can’t maintain a stable space Navy, so they are very unlikely to be around Earth, Andoria, Vulcan, or Tellar Prime to name a few as they all have capable fleets (obviously).
Here is the more recent WIP pictures: