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Jul 05

Brought to you by MirandaFave

The idea of a group of surviving members of the Maquis being part of the crew of a Starfleet vessel fighting in the Dominion War first came to mind after reading the novelization of Voyager’s series finale. This particular version “Endgame” featured those family reunions we didn’t get to see onscreen and cliffhanger ending leading into the very first Voyager re-launch novel. But what was in store for Chakotay, B’Elanna Torres, and the rest of the Maquis crewmembers? When war with the Dominion broke out, all the survivors of the Dominion’s mass eradication of the Maquis were issued full pardons, which also included those serving on the Voyager.

That became the seed of an idea for a character in my own Deep Space Nine re-launch series—an ex-Maquis who was granted a Starfleet commission during the Dominion War and quickly rose through the ranks. That character is now Deep Space Nine’s deputy chief of security Jonas Escobar. When putting my first DS9R story to paper, I was reminded of one of my older ideas of an original starship crew that included Maquis survivors. And there was an opportunity to make up for where Voyager went wrong. And what if the captain was a Maquis and the first officer a Starfleet veteran? There was plenty potential for conflict ala Abrams-verse Kirk and Spock mixed in with an impulsive field hand clashing with his or her by-the-book boss, as very often seen in 24, The Closer, and the three Stargate spin-offs.

The sources of conflict in Lambda Paz were not limited to philosophical differences between Starfleet and Maquis. Chief engineer Charles “Chaz” Logan is a major stickler for protocols as a career starship designer and supervising engineer. Maquis crewmember Erhlich Tarlazzi, knowing this from the outset, takes pleasure in giving Logan a hard time. This conflict is meant to portray one of those characters fans love to hate in a more sympathetic light. In the Next Generation episode, “The Arsenal of Freedom”, he clashed with Geordi LaForge, who was ironically his eventual successor as Enterprise-D chief engineer. Through the course of Lambda Paz, he is revealed to have a reputation for testing the patience of veteran Starfleet officers, usually when he demands his superiors don’t “break his ship.” He has, on the other hand, gotten his ship and crew out of many jams, proving he can be just as creative as his colleagues in with more field experience.

An additional source of conflict has been Doctor Aurellan Markalis and the second incarnation of the Emergency Medical Hologram (introduced in the Voyager episode “Message in a Bottle”). While supposedly an upgrade over the Mark One based on the insufferable Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, this one has certain eccentricities (the first words to his new captain are: “What the hell are you doing in my sickbay?”) that drive Markalis to sabotage his program and make it look like a random malfunction. One particular thing to keep in mind, though, with character conflicts is leave some potential for reconciliation or coming to some kind of mutual understanding. While the EMH-Mark III can be just as condescending and sarcastic as the previous versions, Markalis finds this one more tolerable and open to learning from his social blunders. At that point, she becomes his social mentor, friend, and eventual lover.

The conflict between captain and first officer seemed the most volatile at the beginning, with Commander Ronnie Kozar resorting to outright insolence, and even dirty tricks to subvert the captain’s authority. Eventually, the combination of Kozar’s lecturing of his crew and the captain pulling no punches when laying down the law leads to a cessation of hostilities. While no longer conspiring to commit mutiny, Kozar still does not hesitate to point out when he thinks Limis is in the wrong, knowing that while Starfleet respects the chain of command, it does not want officers who will blindly follow orders.

Of great importance to keep in mind is this motley crew can still learn to tolerate each other in reaching their common goal, though it is far from easy. This is often achieved through finding some common ground, seeing in the good qualities in a fellow officer, or realizing the maxim that opposites very often attract. These have formed the basis for the friendships and even romances. Despite their polar opposite personalities–Kozar being highly duty-bound and Morrison being a notorious womanizer–they are like brothers who have each other’s backs. Two of the Year Two romances (Sara-Rebecca and Sh’Aqba-Tarlazzi) have consisted of a rigid-minded duty-bound person who learns from her partner how to loosen up and do things in the spur of the moment once in a while.

Conceiving of these characters and their interactions with one another has been an experience in learning on the job. Finding certain niches was part of the process of conceiving of the characters, but that was not confined to their shipboard responsibilities. What seemed good in principle very often turned out not to be the case in practice. I had opened Lambda Paz with four characters who were in the engineering department, leading to the question how to best utilize all four of them. This issue was resolved by giving Rebecca Sullivan additional responsibilities (such as shuttle pilot and nightwatch flight controller) and expanding Logan’s role by making him a consultant to all the chief engineers in the Seventh Fleet, allowing more room for sh’Aqba and Tarlazzi to be at the top of the engineering department.

Equal air time is the key to whether or not the regular characters work out (not in the literal sense, though). Does each character provide some worthwhile contribution to the many complex stories and character relationships. If, on the other hand, I start to feel that I’ll have a hard time giving certain characters something worthwhile to contribute in the future, the best course of action is to either write that character out, but leaving some avenue for a return.

  • Terrific insight into the creation of your characters and how they all knitted together as part of the Lambada Paz crew. I like how you designed and have also have changes to make the characters work. Especially in a series such as yours with expanding stories and lots of character development.

  • Another good answer