Star Traks: BorgSpace

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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby Meneks » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:36 pm

Have Spanner, Will Travel

Early in the writing process when I was mapping out stories for the Cube #238 mini-series, I decided upon two things: (1) an arc story would alternate with a character story; and (2) the first character story had to be about Engineer. Engineer would be required to act in a certain way later in the series, as well as display a particular relationship with Prime, and therefore I needed to get him initiated into the Brotherhood right away.

You didn't know all [C]hief [E]ngineers in the multiverses were members of the Brotherhood of the Spanner? Think about it...it explains an awful lot, both within the Traks-verse and without.

Overall, I am satisfied this story conveyed just what I wanted it to. There are certain tidbits concerning Engineer's background I wanted to include, but in the end they more detracted from the story than added to it. Perhaps they will show up later, either during the mini-series, or the Assimilations (Take II) tales that I am even now making notes for. I feel that "Have Spanner, Will Travel" allowed a good introduction to the Engineer character.

Oddly enough, the biggest problem I faced with this story was finding the appropriate name for Spanner Master. I considered, and discarded, a number of options. "Chief Engineer" was too confusing, given Engineer's name and the Chief Engineer title. When I tried out "Top Chief", I kept reading Top Chef (a cooking competition show). Unacceptable. Similarly, anything with Chief as the second word kept converting to Chef; and "Chief" alone was no good for reasons similar to Chief Engineer. For awhile I tried "Master Spanner", but then I kept thinking of Master Chief from the Halo series. Only when I flipped the words around to "Spanner Master" was I satisfied.
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Star Traks: BorgSpace - Book 3, Part 1 - "Invocation of the Birds - Ruffled Vulture, Dusty Pheonix"

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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby borgcrazy » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:12 am

Meneks wrote:For awhile I tried "Master Spanner", but then I kept thinking of Master Chief from the Halo series. Only when I flipped the words around to "Spanner Master" was I satisfied.


Master Chief was all I kept thinking about that entire paragraph... The fact that I'm listening to the Halo soundtrack as I type may or may not have something to do with that...

Have Spanner, Will Travel
Okay, I can already tell I'm going to like Engineer. He's more "square-peg-round-hole" than the usual Traks character, and they're all "square-peg-round-hole" people!
Other than that, there's really nothing more I can say except I really enjoy your writing style, well, have enjoyed it these last few years, if you want to be technical. There's just something about how you describe things and handle dialogue that really pops. I've tried to emulate it in Governor's Song, (and I know I've fallen far, far short...) but I know I'll never come close to you're level. This story is no exception.
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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby Meneks » Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:28 am

Mess of Portage

First, I must apologize for the title of this story - a horrible pun upon the phrase "mess of pottage" (something of little value) - but despite the various titles I tried out, "Mess of Portage" is the one that I kept on returning to. That out of the way....

As I have said previously, the format for this mini-series is arc-story, followed by character-story, back to arc-story, and so forth until the conclusion is reached. I consider "Mess of Portage" the first real arc-story, "Welcome to the Machine" more of an introduction to the cube, its crew, and its mission. This is the first time the reader is able to see how the sub-collective responds to an actual threat; and I think the sub-collective performed well, setting themselves apart from how I might envision Exploratory-class Cube #347 to react in a similar situation.

I knew when I started this project that the concept of moving along a fixed route, going to known stations, and loading/unloading cargo was potentially very boring. After all, Cube #347, as an /Exploratory/-class cube, was expected to move about, thereby finding itself in new and interesting places, then running from (or being beaten up by) new and interesting creatures. A Lugger-class cube, being a giant carrier of cargo, on the surface doesn't afford as many opportunities. For me, however, that just means a bigger challenge to keep things interesting.

Therefore, it was inevitable that the first stop, at an out of the way Research Platform where the drones are fixated upon the analysis of a single problem, seemed like an awfully tempting place to allow trouble to find Cube #238.

That said, this was the first appropriate opportunity I had to finally bring forth Weapons. Obviously, the Cube #238 Weapons is a wee bit different from the Cube #347 version. Saner, for one thing, which is a fairly large achievement considering the fact that his hierarchy only consists of 150 drones total and the main options for a Lugger-class cube upon an attack is to either flee or to take the punishment. This is not a "Weapons" story (you'll have to wait until #8 - "Rage Against the Machine" - for that), but I definitely like his introduction.

I also feel I did well in how I played Prime and Engineer, as well as the lesser designations. And if there is one thing that /is/ nice about writing a Borg cube, well, when you kill off a drone (or three), there are always a couple thousand more to go until the primaries are lined up before the firing squad. Then again, I've also never shown much hesitation on killing off my primaries if need be (and in Cube #347 Weapons' case, several times...too bad not even the afterlife wants him). Of course, considering the fact that that the primary crew is present in "Ambush Alley", I'd probably better be careful not to open up too many continuality holes.
Currently working on -
Star Traks: BorgSpace - Book 3, Part 1 - "Invocation of the Birds - Ruffled Vulture, Dusty Pheonix"

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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby borgcrazy » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:26 am

Mess of Portage
Yea, this is definitely a different mix from Cube #347; this group almost seems competent! There were a few times when it felt like you were unconsciously slipping back to #347's voice (Reserve in particular sounds a lot like Second) but for the most part, you were able to stay out of that trap the last few stories and give these primaries a unique voice.
I really enjoyed seeing the contrast between 45 of 300 and #238's 80 of 150. Where 45 of 300 would've gone berserker and blown up the research station, the scooters, the Zuun (cough) ship and a sizeable portion of one or both planets before being restrained by C&C, 80 of 150 made smart decisions and (presumably) disabled the greater threat first before moving on to cleaning up the riffraff, while still trying to salvage something that could be useful to the Borg, as well as that worked out in the end. Also, (possibly due to his more controlled, logical approach) I noticed #238 had better accuracy than #347. Whatever the case, I'm looking forward to seeing more of these guys later!
I couldn't help but wonder if the Zuun (cough) were behind the soul virii that #347 was working to cure, but thought that couldn't be since that infection was more pervasive substantial than mere mind-invasions. Although, the rift may have transmitted the soul virii anyway... I'm not gonna try to predict that one since BS stories have more twists and turns than the average season of CSI.
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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby Meneks » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:12 am

Sins of the Fathers

The basic idea and title of "Sins of the Fathers" is something I've had kicking around for awhile - several years, actually. It just never fit Cube #347 because the background for the principle characters was already known; and this was not a story which felt appropriate to be applied to a secondary or background unit.

It hasn't been languishing as long as "Paved With Good Intentions", however, which has been a title waiting for a story for, oh, 6 years now. Or maybe more. That particular title will finally acquire its story in this miniseries.

But this author's note is about "Sins of the Fathers", so I'll continue thusly.

It has been pointed out, probably by BorgCrazy, that Reserve's voice seems to be blurring with Second's. In fact, prior to this story, that was a problem I was noticing. Remember that this story was written back in late January, well before any comments to the Reserve/Second duality. Originally I had planned for "Sins" to enter more towards the middle of the miniseries, but because of the blurring I decided it would behoove me to do a bit of re-arranging in order to cement in my mind who Reserve is. And since, unlike my other characters, he had only the most basic of backgrounds, this story forced me to think long and hard about who he was.

Reserve is not Second. The "fishboy from a kelp farm" comment actually reflects Reserve's backstory: he is a rural boy who rejected the pastoral way of life. Then, after many years of making his own way, he made, perhaps, not the smartest of decisions. And, finally, he had to live with the consequences, which continued to play out to the now "Sins" is traversing.

One of the things you, the reader, are probably thinking is that it was a cop-out to not reveal what else was present in Reserve's data dump. Actually, /I/ know what is there, and I thought deeply concerning if I wanted to reveal it. In the end, I felt that the knowledge would only detract from the story I was writing. While the Cube #238 miniseries is limited in extent - a beginning, middle, and end to cover in 15 stories - I also wanted to use the opportunity afforded by Reserve to hint at bigger things in the future. In the next story, [spoilers alert!] Prime is going to complain -

    Leave it to others, preferably those far away, to be pawns in Grand Destiny. They could have it. She, her sub-collective, had cargo to deliver.
Unfortunately for my characters, I've never been one to shy away from the bigger picture. While the future I am tentatively building will not be revealed in the miniseries, think of "Sins" (and one or two other stories to come) as the initial baby-steps that the alert reader will be able to return to at a later date and remark "Hah! That is were it all started!"

Don't forget, my last mega-arc spanned four BorgSpace seasons and many years.

One of the nice things about this story was it allowed me to continue to build the grander backstory and history which is my small corner of the Star Traks universe. Hopefully it doesn't cause too many space-time ripples. All I know is that everything is linked. For instance, it is known from Season 9 that something happened to the Gray, a something that, eventually, led to the Color being subsumed by Luplup. Because Second was originally a Gray drone - that part of his history I always knew - I was able to use that point as a springboard to determine what Gray transgressions had led to its demise. "Sins" also let me consider the final Hive years, prior to its transition back to Evil Borg(tm). After all, in the grander timeline, the miniseries takes place about 5 years after that incident (of which Cube #347 played no small role). All of the primaries, except Weapons, as well as many of the background Cube #238 populace, experienced the mental realignment of the Greater Consciousness; and that surely left some scars.

To close this wandering author's note, I'd like to say that with "Sins", I am starting to get a feeling for my various characters: how they react to a situation and how they interact with each other. Case in point is the Weapons/Assimilation scenario. Their ability to work together will be extremely important in the future. And Assimilation, although her feature story won't be for quite awhile, is also finally beginning to gain a personality.


******
And, yes, BorgCrazy, as per your prior note, Cube #238 is a better shot than Cube #347. However, with only fifty drones to be at the heart of any offense/defense coordination, the vessel is also easily overpowered. Therefore, as Cube #238 Weapons well knows, every shot has to count.

It probably helps that Cube #238 Weapons isn't, well, psychotic, unlike the Cube #347 version.
Currently working on -
Star Traks: BorgSpace - Book 3, Part 1 - "Invocation of the Birds - Ruffled Vulture, Dusty Pheonix"

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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby borgcrazy » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:35 am

Sins of the Fathers
The thing that struck me the most at the end of this story is, there were no actual fathers involved, either as characters, mentioned in passing or seen in flashbacks. This leads me to wonder, what "fathers" the title refers to. Perhaps Gray playing surrogate "father" to Reserve? A bit of a stretch, but I've accepted worse...
Anyway, yes, Reserve has definitely set himself apart from Second with this story. The similarities in voice before can be attributed to both being in the auxiliary role to their respective Captains and thus, certain duties - i.e., questioning the authority of Captain to ensure the absolute best course of action was being taken (with a side dish of free sarcasm) is probably an inherent trait to the position. I mean, the auxiliaries have to have something else to do besides be ready to take over for Captain in the event Captain is unable to perform their duty and help C&C multitask.
As for the KingCola back story, part of me wants to balk that such a simple thing as a soda recipe could be the focus of so much trouble, but at the same time, when an entire intergalactic soft drink EMPIRE is built around that one soft drink recipe, and said empire's income is not counted in millions, but billions of units of currency from dozens of worlds, well, then it makes some sense that a company would go to such lengths to protect such a valuable asset - and why rivals would go to similar (parallel?) lengths to steal it. I've read and heard enough rumors of the Coke recipe that I can believe it.
So, now we're left to wonder what other databits Reserve will reveal in the future, though being an avid BS reader for the last ... few years that'd I rather not count at this time, I'm not expecting any kind of quick payoff. In fact, I'll probably have forgotten all about this foreshadowing and the posts related to it by the time the payoff comes around, if I know Meneks at all...
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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby Meneks » Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:06 pm

The Day the Cube Stood Still

If you have read the story, then you know that the title has absolutely nothing to do with the movie(s) of similar renown. And if you are reading the author notes before you check out the story, be assured that that I chose the title purely because I liked the sound of it since I knew that temporality would be a plot element. Okay, enough said! Moving on....

First, a technical admission. Because of the importance of the time-hallucinations, I was forced to write this story out of sequence. Pen to paper (or, fingers to keyboard), the first third and the ending was completed first, then the time hallucinations, and finally the remainder of the middle. I do not like writing out of sequence because once I reach the editing process, I have to read (and reread) very carefully to ensure that the story flows as it should, not to mention double-check that I did not abruptly insert a character or concept that was not introduced earlier. Unfortunately for me, I do not always get my wish; and, hence, this became one of those times out of sequence I wrote.

Continuing with the time-hallucinations, a reader with a good memory should recognize at least two of the visions, albeit from an alternate point of view as first presented. Hallucination #2 is Captain, of course, as from Season 9 "Encounter at Ambush Alley", modified to the Prime point-of-view. Hallucination #4 is the arrival of Cube #347 to the Borg home system, as in the "Dark Rising" book epilogue. Neither of these have occurred, yet, in the timeline Cube #238 is traversing. That, right there, should hint at what the other three hallucinations, all a variation upon each other, might mean.

To be frank, I /like/ messing with the minds of my characters...and, just maybe, those three or four people that regularly read BorgSpace. Temporal anomalies are a great plot bunny to do so. Maybe I wrote the time-hallucination sequences just for the story. Maybe they are hints of would/will/could be of the future. Maybe they are alternate end points, assuming a certain action does (or does not) occur. Or, maybe none of the above. As I mentioned in the "Sins of the Father" comments, I originally had the Reserve story planned a bit later in the mini-series. That was because it, too, hinted of the future. I do not like to place 'prophetic' stories too close to each other, especially when one is as heavy-handed at "Day the Cube Stood Still", but in this case I did not really have a choice. I /think/ this story, and the last, should be the sum total of future-maybes for the mini-series, but I could be wrong.

Other than that, isn't mucking around with time fun?! And if I never return to the plots I suggested, then I can always blame it on quantum butterflies or someone else screwing up the timeline.

Overall, I feel I managed to weave together several seemingly disparate elements - shortcut and Sensors' observatory - into a whole that on the surface may seem to be just another "shortcut turns into a longcut to the detriment of the crew" story. However, it served as a vehicle to bring in the deeper, and more important, glimpses of maybe through the time hallucinations, as well as fostered character development. It was longer than I originally envisioned, but I write to the /story/ and the characters, not set myself an arbitrary length.

Characters. This story was my chance to finally introduce Sensors, who I've been neglecting as I tried to figure out how to present her. This is /not/ a Sensor-o-centric story - you'll have to wait until Story #14 - but I felt this an appropriate place to bring her out of the background. Look for her, and her Quest For Rocks and Shiny Things, to periodically reappear. Also with this story, I am finally feeling as if Prime is becoming a fully fleshed out character, very different from her Cube #347 counterpart. Engineer is coming along nicely, the brief glimpse of him which is seen. I do admit that Reserve still has a lot of work to do to continue to move him away from Cube #347 Second, but that should come in time.

**********
And a response just for BorgCrazy:

I did not use the phrase "sins of the fathers" literally (unlike my take how to become your own grandpa), instead trying to apply it more conceptually. At least that is how it came out in my head. I was thinking more along the lines of the past, for which you (personally) have no connection, coming around to bite you in the butt. In my head, the person that was, prior to having an unwanted outbreak of nanites and implants, no longer exists once he/she enters Borgdom. That past is severed, is (ahem) irrelevant; and for that past to continue to pursue a person for revenge (or anything else, for that matter) is pointless. Unfortunately, in this case, that past doesn't see that pointlessness, to the detriment of Reserve, as well as (potentially) the rest of Cube #238, who otherwise had absolutely /no/ connection to KingCola.

And, as you pointed out, the soda-recipe spat is indeed highlighting the silliness the lengths industries will go to to protect their proprietary recipes. I've done it before - Avon and MaryKay comes to mind. For "Sins of the Fathers", a cola recipe seemed appropriate, although I was, at one point, vaguely considering a crunchy poultry recipe with 27.5 exotic herbs and flavorings.
Currently working on -
Star Traks: BorgSpace - Book 3, Part 1 - "Invocation of the Birds - Ruffled Vulture, Dusty Pheonix"

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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby borgcrazy » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:26 pm

Meneks wrote:And a response just for BorgCrazy:

Aw, now I feel special! Am I blushing? But yea, that makes sense. I think somewhere deep in my pathetic excuse for a brain, my subconscious was figuring that out, but it's nice to have it explained anyway, just to make sure my subconscious was right, if nothing else.
Moving on...

The Day the Cube Stood Still
When it comes to referential titles in BS, I never know if the actual story will have anything to do with the referenced material or how deeply it will go (if at all). So when I recognize a referential title, it's always with a little bit of excitement (and after "I Am My Own Grandpa", dread) that I read one of these titled stories.
Part of me was hoping this one wouldn't have too much to do with the similarly-titled films, as the central plot of the films wouldn't exactly work for an already star-faring civilization, even if that is the Borg.
Of course, the only other potential use for such a title is something like the Treacle-zone, i.e. an anomaly of some sort that prevents normal travel through the space-time continuum.
That said, it works as a plot device, and is a natural way to introduce Sensors and her ... whatsit with the aluminum foil. I mean, when the ship breaks you don't turn to the Assimilation hierarchy to fix it; you assign Engineering hierarchy. Similarly, when the space-time you're occupying stops working in a predictable manner, you don't turn to the Weapons hierarchy to figure out why, you task the Sensors hierarchy to find the problem and, hopefully, a solution.
So yea, the plot devices work nicely together to deliver what, it seems, is the point of the story: the time-hallucinations. After the second such hallucination, I started realizing that these were more than mere random scenes that could be blamed on the various psychoses of the drone complement. These were Significant Revelations (I've been reading BS long enough to know when such Revelations are hinted at, and when to capitalize those words...) and so I started paying closer attention to them and several of them are quite interesting, should they come to pass, though it seems the really juicy ones are contradictory to one another, sadly. Still, it'll be interesting to see where things go, which Revelations come to pass, and how all of it culminates into the "not-quite-yet-time" of the re-appearance of Cube #347.
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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby Meneks » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:16 am

Best In Show

It has been a long day. Therefore, this author's note will be fairly brief. Of course, given the length of the previous posting, I suppose it all balances out in the end.

Coherence, on the other hand, may not be an element present tonight.

I liked writing this story. It was fun. As always when playing the omnipotent being card, one has to be careful that the being in question doesn't take over the story and make everything better with a wave of the hand or snap of the fingers. That would be no fun. I feel I balanced Q fairly well as a facilitator, and not really an actor. And, yes, I know I never said why Q was hanging around with the Orion in the first place. In the end, it doesn't really matter. I like to think that he did something that mildly peeved the other Qs in the Continuum, and they were trying to teach him some sort of lesson of which no one else really understands but another Q. Q of Next Generations seemed to run into those consequences every couple of seasons, so why not a variation with the Q I invoked?

One of the things I did agonize over for a while was Prime's "talent". I wanted it to be off-beat, yet not cliche. Many of the talents Katosh quizzed Prime about were the very ones that kept running through my head, and ones I kept dismissing for one reason or another. For instance, I just cannot mentally picture Prime playing a musical instrument. Although I am sure Flarn have music, I cannot see /Prime/ wielding her species' equivalent of drum mallet or clarinet or guitar. The yo-yo, on the other hand, came to me one morning as I was swimming, the pool being a place lately I have found quite amiable to allowing my thoughts wander. The image of a Flarn and a yo-yo made me smile; and that was good enough for me.

And so, with that, I declare this Author's Note closed. Well, almost. Be aware that I am soon to run out of stories. Due to various reasons, among them a vacation and the start of my work field season, posting will start to become erratic in May. However, I will be keeping up as I can through the summer.
Currently working on -
Star Traks: BorgSpace - Book 3, Part 1 - "Invocation of the Birds - Ruffled Vulture, Dusty Pheonix"

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Re: Star Traks: BorgSpace

Postby Meneks » Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:55 am

Paved With Good Intentions

This is a title that has been looking for a story for a long time. A very long time. Seven (or more) years, to be exact. Unfortunately, it did not have a home until now. On to story discussion!

Once a season, I try to include an outside viewpoint story. This allows me to reset my perspective (and that of my two or three readers) and remind myself that these are villains I write about. Likable villains, maybe, but still the stuff of nightmares for most races of the Treks-verse. In this case, "Paved With Good Intentions" screamed for an outsider, one who would have the best of intentions, but end up in figurative (or, possibly, literal) hell. While rereading some older stories - Season 6, "Convention" to be exact - I encountered a brief mention of the DAPT organization. While Season 6 involved Cube #347 jumping to alternate universes, I felt that the universe in question was close enough to the original that DAPT would also be present. And so, DAPT thus became my outsider viewpoint.

What else should I talk about? Ah, character development. Even from the outsider viewpoint, I have tried to advance at least a few of the Cube #238 primaries. For instance, Reserve's reaction to the jammer, the continued growth of Doctor's attitude ("Professional to professional..."), and, of course, Prime's not-so-good reaction to limes.

I am sure there is more I could talk about, but my brain has decided to turn off, so enough for now!
Currently working on -
Star Traks: BorgSpace - Book 3, Part 1 - "Invocation of the Birds - Ruffled Vulture, Dusty Pheonix"

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