To start off, what’s the hardest story I had ever had to write?
In the grand scheme, I’d say that Star Trek: Lambda Paz “To the Bitter End” was the hardest. This story was meant to tie up many of the loose ends that had built up in several of my previous stories in this series. I had slowly come to realize as I introduced these story and character arcs that the Year Two finale would not to be a simple two-hour episode-length narrative.
The biggest challenge was working in the various character subplots with expansion upon the end of the Dominion War as established in the Deep Space Nine series finale “What You Leave Behind…” and The Dominion War Sourcebook. All of the characters, on both sides, experienced so many different kinds of hardship during the previous two years, and so composing this narrative was an exercise in tying those two facets together.
The Sara Carson-Rebecca Sullivan romance has reached a companionate love phase as they try to live each day as if it is their last. And throw in that they have to coexist with Sara’s ex, Mandel Morrison. During a shipboard crisis, those three reach a “we can all try to be friends” type of agreement.
Shinar sh’Aqba is pregnant by her non-Andorian lover Erhlich Tarlazzi, and this has been cause for all sorts of emotional baggage. She even goes so far as to manually close an emergency bulkhead in an area of the ship where she could die from radiation poisoning or suffocation before succeeding in that venture. This suggests to Doctor Aurellan Markalis that she is suicidal, who has her briefly confined to sickbay. As those two are becoming fast gal-pals, Doctor Markalis is in a romantic relationship with the ship’s Emergency Medical Hologram. She is gradually falling in love with him, while grappling with the question of whether a holographic image can genuinely reciprocate that love. Finally, Captain Limis Vircona is driven to taking insane risks to win a major battle. And that’s just one ship and crew being featured in the whole novel-length epic.
That all played out very well in the end, along with writing space battles. The most difficult part about this trying to find variations in describing “this ship blowing up that ship”, “Fire phasers”, “Fire photon torpedoes”, “Shields down to X percent.” In writing these battle sequences, I started borrowing elements from the universe Babylon 5, where the battles are focused more on the strategy of how to best use ships of varying size and weapons arsenals.
By the time all is said and done, the characters are faced with great tragedy. Lives are lost and entire cities are destroyed. How the characters cope with these situations will set up future stories. But four months and twenty-seven chapters later, it was all well worth the effort.
What was the easiest to write?
I would say Star Trek: Lambda Paz “Moral Dilemma”. This story was meant to be episode length and loosely based on the Deep Space Nine episode “In the Pale Moonlight” and Enterprise‘s “Anomaly”. The story begins with another costly defeat in the early phase of the Dominion War and Captain Limis contemplating her actions over the previous two weeks. From that point, the plot closely follows that of “Anomaly”, but I was careful not to make such an adaptation too obvious (where I was less successful in regards to “The Tides of War”, loosely based on Enterprise‘s two-parter “Shockwave”).
Aliens thieves board the ship and steal valuable equipment. The ship pursues and discovers a concealed sphere of an unknown alien origin. In the process of retrieving the pilfered equipment, an away team discovers that the thieves have been hired by Romulans who are also in possession of the means to synthesize the narcotic ketracel white. Concluding that this equipment was stolen from the Dominion, Limis interrogates a captured Cardassian by placing him in an airlock where life support has been turned off. Contrary to “Anomaly”, this prisoner dies from suffocation after breaking.
Though I added an additional chapter roughly three years after its initial publication, the story mostly wrote itself. Completing the original cut took less than a month after having completed a longer pilot episode where I was unconcerned with length and that took nearly a year to complete.