Sunday, June 24, 2007

AusTrekGaming - Federation Commander in Sydney

Talk to anyone about gaming and they will automatically start off about the latest offering for X-Box, Playstation or the PC. Now far be it from me to knock video games - I've been known to occasionally throw my life away trying to beat my son on the little silver screen but this was not always so!

Take, for example, Federation Commander (FC), the newest gaming system from Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc (ADB), released in 2005. ADB has been around for a long time, originally being part of Task Force games, and FC is the next stage in evolution of Star Fleet Battles (SFB),the classic Trek board game designed by Steve Cole back in 1979.

Its a fast-playing starship combat board game that has addressed many of the problems with SFB that have turned new gamers away from it. For example everything you need to manage your ship is on one card and a lot of the more complex rules have been left out. What's more, it is good value, with a downloadable beginner's pack, starter set and expansion packs which are scenario based with new ships, new enemies, and new situations. This means that opponents fleets are more evenly matched and you are not faced with learning complicated additional rules. "Once you master the rulebook, there are no more rules to learn, just more ships to fly, more weapons to fire, and more worlds to explore."

Fleet Commander might not be entering the mega-buck market but it has a small core of gamers who are getting converts from the ranks of ex-SFB players who have become disillusioned by the growing complexity of the game and new gamers who find that they can play a game within minutes of opening the Starter-set box.

Sure, it might not have the special effects of Star Trek: Legacy or the fast-paced first-person-shooter action of Star Trek: Elite Force (still on a par with contemporary shooters). However it has a personal interaction value that these do not have. No amount of chatter over TeamSpeak can equal the personal banter of facing someone across a table. It's a good night out - or if you play them with your family, a good night in! Marine Cadet, Chris and I will be playing some introductory battles over the coming school holidays with some of the Sydney Federation Commander crowd. We'll let you know how we got on next issue!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Book 1 of "Tales of Death and Honour" an occasional series of audio books [WATCH THIS SPACE FOR A LINK] by
Lt Cmdr Kirok of L'Stok

Which are stronger, the bonds of Maternal love or the dictates of Honour?

The midnight bell boomed out from the village as the two Klingons strode slowly but purposefully up the well used mountain path. The light from the ruined moon Praxis outlined the clouds that scudded across the sky in brilliant silver, painting the mountainous landscape in an eerie monotone.

In the lead was a male holding up a lantern to light their way. Slightly built for his race, he never the less carried himself with the lithe power of the seasoned warrior. The woman on the other hand, was a statuesque beauty with a tumbling mass of raven curls, fine teeth and delicate brow ridges. Dressed conservatively in maternity clothes, she carried a small bundle that squirmed occasionally.

Their monotonous climb eventually brought them to the summit, their goal becoming apparent as a strange stone building came into sight. Whilst Klingons have little time for religion, they have a complex culture and deep rooted traditions. The building would best be described as a temple although those who came to it worshipped a way of life rather than any god. It was a simple but massive structure consisting of an imposing dome atop a circle of columns.

At the last curve in the path, within metres of the arched entrance, the female faltered. "I cannot do this thing!" she spat in their guttural tongue. Klingon women were inured to a long painful childbirth but this labour had been particularly bad by even Klingon standards and she had come close to death. It was not the obvious pain that each step was costing that she spoke of though.

Hitching the bundle higher in her grasp and swapping hands, she pulled the course blankets apart slightly to uncover the head of a sleeping infant. "There can be no honour in killing an innocent child!"

The male turned to her and growled, "It must be done for the honour of the family." He looked away, grunting in resignation. "Come into the temple with me, we will speak of this one last time and then we will do what you know must be done." He was uncertain as to whether he should help her since she looked ready to fall at every step but knew that she would take it as an insult.

The last few, painful metres covered, they entered the temple. Along the perimeter of columns was a low wall that marked the outside of the building. Into these, benches were hewn into the solid rock. Slowly, painfully, the female eased herself into the nook closest to the entrance. Her mate strode to the centre of the small temple and placed a hand on the flat rock in the centre. Without looking back he spoke into the darkness.

"The life of a Klingon is a battle that cannot be won. We are born into this world of strife and must fight all our lives to survive, knowing full well that no matter how skilfully and bravely we fight eventually we will die, for death is inevitable. Some die young, some die old but die we will and a Klingons' life is a preparation for that day."

He turned from the rock and started pacing the earthen floor, his voice gaining volume as he warmed to his subject. "If we are lucky, it will be in battle surrounded by the bodies of our enemies, soaked to the armpits in their blood! To go to Sto Vo Kor preceded by an honour guard of a dozen mighty warriors is every Klingons dream." If the female had been close enough she would have seen the gleam of fervour in her mates' eyes as he talked of his dreams of glory.
Turning now to his wife, his voice dropped almost to a whisper. "Not to die in battle is against the very purpose of our existence and it would be a waste of our life. In this we battle against fate - fire, storm, accident ... sickness." Roughly he grabbed her by the nape of the neck in what was, for them, a show of tenderness. "This is his first battle ..." he rumbled into her ear "... to show that he has the strength to combat the elements." Levering the child out of her arms, he stood, looking down into the small round face. He had woken now but was silent, his dark eyes gazing deeply into those of his father.

Turning quickly - did he doubt his own ability to see this thing through? - he strode to the flat slab of volcanic rock that squatted in the centre of the temple and with a surprising gentleness laid the baby in the shallow depression on the top.

"Your first battle. " From his belt he drew a D'k tagh, the Klingon ritual blade - and held it up to the high domed ceiling. "You will either live a Klingon, with the strength to hold your own against the world, or die a Klingon, fighting the elements." looking down to the quiet child, his voice broke to a growl once again. "This is the only gift I can give you, the chance of a short life and an honourable death." He placed the D'k tagh at the head of the baby and, spreading the blankets to expose the naked waif, turned to the entrance. "We go."

His wife leapt to her feet, gasping momentarily at the effort that this cost her. Flinging her head back she drew her lips back into a snarl "Glorious dreams of death and honour!" her sneer stopped him in his tracks. " I care nought for your pretty fantasies! All I see is someone who is trying to hurt my child and it would be a dishonour to me - as a mother if not as a Klingon - to let that happen!" Reaching into the folds of her cloak she pulled out her own blade and slowly, painfully advanced on her stunned husband.

"Are you mad!" His astonished shout rang from the depths of the vaulted ceiling, but as he looked into her eyes he knew that, yes, she was. The grim determination he saw flew in the face of all reason.

"What else can we do?" His tone changed from challenging to reasoning in an attempt to defuse the situation. "Would you have me not do this? Every Klingon child goes through the same ritual as soon as they are weaned from their mother. We would be dishonoured, driven out of our homeland, our families would disown us and we would be doomed to live the life of penniless vagabonds. " Still she advanced, step by step. Rage swept over him and he leapt back to the stone where his son lay, snatching up the D'k tagh.

"I would see him dead before I would let you do this to us all - to force us all into a dishonourable half-life!" This made her hesitate in her tracks. She knew she could not overpower her husband, in fact she had expected death herself but this would mean nothing if her son died also.

Slowly the male brought the blade away from the baby's throat, his tone once again changing to reconciliation. "In battle there is always the chance - the hope - of victory." He reversed the blade in his hand. "You have my word that if he survives the night he will be given every chance to live." For long seconds the two glared at each others in silence across drawn steel until the female slowly drew herself erect and returned her blade to its' secret place in her cloak.

"It was a black day for me when first I set eyes on you, if only I had known that at the time. You will keep your word, I do not doubt that. We will let him fight his own battle. Be gone, for I do not want to set eyes on you unless you hold our son alive in your arms." Abruptly she turned her face away from him. The male snarled in frustration, making as if to go to her and force his will on her, but in the end he spun on his heel and marched to the exit, only pausing at the entrance to give another wordless snarl.

For a scant minute or two the female stood motionless, breathing deeply, until with faltering steps, she approached the baby who, through all this, had uttered not one sound. Tenderly, she bunched the blankets to the infants' sides, as close as she could get to covering him without breaking the spirit of the ritual that, even in her maternal madness, she knew to have an element of justice. Q'onos was a hard world and life as a Klingon was a brutal one in which the weak died young.

Not knowing if this was going to be the last time she saw her child alive she tried to memorise every aspect of him, laid bare as he was on the rock to the increasingly chill night air. From his squashed nose and bold forehead crests, to his tight cap of black curly hair, his eyes like twin pools of blackness in the night and his one good arm waving in the air above him. She loved him. That was the be all and end all of it. In her doting mothers' eye she only saw his beauty ... not his withered left arm with a flipper like stump for a hand ... nor his non-existent legs. Infant deformities were rare in Klingons and the few who lived rarely last long, mainly because of the may'ram - the ritual battle against the elements that her beautiful son was to undergo tonight.

"Be strong and fight hard, my little warrior! But mark this well - your mother loves you, no matter where your brave soul wanders." and so saying she turned abruptly to stagger, choking back tears, to the exit.

Encounter in the Neutral Zone

Fan Fiction
by Lt Cmdr Wayne Smith
First Officer’s Log: Stardate 22519.5: The USS Southern Cross on Patrol along the neutral zone between the Romulan Empire and Gorn held space.

Captain Bruce O’Brien sits in his ready room going through crew reports when he door chimes. O’Brien looks up from the reports, “Enter!”

The first officer Wayne Smith stepped into the Spartan-like room. “Sir, we have just picked up a distress call from a Gorn Transport ship in sector 67. They report they are under attack from Romulans.”

“Plot an intercept course. Fastest possible speed. Inform the Gorn that we are on the way. How long will it take us to get to the area?”

Smith frowned, “We will be there in 30 standard minutes, sir. Would you like to go to red alert?”

“Yes sound General Quarters, number one.” Smith exited the room, carrying out the orders. Red lights soon flashed as the familiar klaxon sounded, alerting the crew to man their assigned stations.

The ‘Cross decelerated out of warp near the vessel. “Report!” bellowed O’Brien to Ensign Stubblefield, a recent transfer to the Akira class vessel. “The Gorn ship’s reactor core is breaching, sir. Destruction is eminent!”

“Bridge to transporter room three! Chief, lock on and transport all life signs to Medical!”

“Bridge to Medical". Prepare for wounded Doctor”

“Smith, you’re with me, Ens. Jacobs, you have the conn and Send a to Security detachment to medical” The Captain and the XO trotted to meet the Gorn. “Remember, Smith, the Gorn admire strength and respect. Be tough. Don’t back down.”

“Bridge to Captain O’Brien,” Ens. Jacobs sounded a little shaken, “the Gorn ship has just exploded, sir!” “Did we get all the survivors?”
“Yes sir, eight in total-- all sent to Medical, as ordered.”
“Good work!”

Two imposing security members of the stepped aside as the Medical door slid open for O’Brien and Smith. “Doctor Chapel, report!” Smith said stiffly as he glanced to the Gorn crew, practically ducking to fit in the room.

Doctor Chapel, obviously busy with scanning her new patients, barely looked up from her tricorder, “One in critical condition, the others have minor injuries. That’s apparently the Captain over there; he’s hurt worse than most.”

Her head nodded ever so slightly toward the largest Gorn in the room. He was an imposing figure of a being. Obviously bigger than the average Gorn, he made everyone in the room look like adolescents.

O’Brien walked to the Gorn captain. Although thankful for universal translator technology, O’Brien realized the power and impression non-verbal communication can make. He stood tall, directly in front of the Gorn, looking directly in his multifaceted eyes. He wanted to show respect and strength, but the Gorn was a tower of strength, even in his battered condition. The Gorn did not look good. “Greetings, my name is Bruce O’Brien. I am Captain of this vessel, the USS Southern Cross. Captain, what is your name?”

Moving closer to O’Brien, the Gorn simply replied “Secha” through clenched teeth.

“Captain Secha who was attacking your craft?” The room felt suddenly tense, one could cut the air in Medical with a knife. Captain Secha stomped around the Medical bay with a fury and spat out “Romulans! They attacked us-- without any provocation! They are Cowardly Dogs! We are a transport vessel carrying relief supplies for one of our colonies!”

“O’Brien to Bridge". Any sign of another ship in our sector Ensign Jacobs?” “No sir, no activity” replied Jacobs through the communications terminal. “Thank you, O’Brien out.”

“Okay. Captain Secha, we will keep scanning this sector and take you to the nearest Gorn settlement. After your injuries have been tended by Doctor Chapel, security will see your crew to temporary quarters.”

Secha lumbered to O’Brien and offered an outstretched hand. “I would like to thank you and your crew Captain O’Brien for our timely rescue.” With that Secha, turned and walked away to tend to his crew.

Leaving Medical, O’Brien turned to the security team. “Lieutenant Tuting, escort the uninjured Gorn crew to guest quarters. Ensure the others are also escorted when cleared to leave Medical by Doctor Chapel. I want a security officer posted outside all Gorn quarters.”

“Number one, with me". We need to discuss this situation in my ready room in one hour if you please.”

“O’Brien to Bridge". Set course to the nearest Gorn settlement.” “Aye, sir.” responded Lt. Fisher.

With all the Gorn on board and safely in their quarters and sick bay we stay at red alert and scan for the Romulan ship.

Meanwhile down in medical the Doctor is having some issues with the Gorn physiology as Starfleet has not had a great deal of contact with them and even less with treating injuries.

Secha approached Chapel, “Doctor, what you can do for my crew?” Chapel looked concerned, “Captain I have limited information on your species so I am having trouble treating the injuries.”

The Gorn captain reached out and handed her a small electronic device, similar to a PADD. “This will help you. It has all our medical files on it from the ship as well as a medical database.”

Doctor Chapel scanned through the device but flinched as it is in “Gorn language” Captain Secha notices a confused look on the Doctors face and approaches her “Doctor what is wrong?”

“I cannot understand your language and it will take a while for our computer to download and translate it. Could you help with the translation, Captain?”

Secha looked at the doctor and took the medical PADD from her. “Where do we start, Doctor?” and with that the Gorn captain went to each patient with the doctor and helped with the treatment.

After the examination of his crew was completed and the injured treated, including himself he called “Doctor!” The Doctor approached the Gorn Captain with caution.

“Doctor Chapel, I have something I would like to say to you. While working with you, a human doctor, t I noticed how much care and professional attitude you have with my crew. I would like to express my gratitude to you by making you my Clan Brother because of the great respect and treatment you have given to me and my crew.”

Chapel looked shocked, not knowing what this meant. After a few seconds standing there with her jaw open, she approached Captain Secha and stiffened. Remembering her Starfleet xenobiology and xenocultural training, she looked him in the eye. “Captain Secha, I would be proud and I find it a great honor to be your clan brother!”

And with that said Captain Secha came forward and strongly embraced the doctor and handed her an emblem from his uniform. “This is my family crest. Keep it. Wear it with honor and every Gorn will know you are a member of the Secha Clan and they will show you due respect.”

Doctor Chapel accepted the emblem with great respect and again looked directly into the eyes of the Gorn captain. “I will wear this at all times and with that said she pinned it to her uniform.” Captain Secha smiled as much as a Gorn could smile.


“XO how long till we get to the settlement” O’Brien asked of Smith in the ready room.

Smith frowned “It will take twenty-four hours at warp six, sir.”

“Make arrangements for a reception for our Gorn guests at 1900 hours in the Lizard Lounge.” Smith, still with a somber look in his face replied “Yes, sir.”
“And, number one?”
“Try to cheer up!” O’Brien smiled.
“Yes, sir!” Smith smirked as we walked out of the ready room.


The reception was a relaxed affair. Secha approached O’Brien. “Ahh,” he said, “I like how you honor the reptilian species by naming places after them, Captain. And I would like to thank you again for the excellent treatment we have been given; especially your ‘Doctor Chapel.’ She has impressed me greatly.”

Captain O’Brien smiled, “The Doctor impresses me, too. Captain Secha, please allow me to show you our Lizard Lounge.” With that, O’Brien began the tour, explaining the different species in the holopictures and antique oil painting artwork.

If one had not been in the Lizard Lounge before, he would not know it is named after lizards. The interior has holopictures and antique paintings of all kinds from all of Earth decorating the walls.

The bar itself has a hand-made rare wooden counter, fashioned from Kauri, a native hard-wood from New Zealand. It was presented to the Southern Cross by the Director of the Federation Penal Settlement in Auckland when Commander Smith passed through the city while on shore leave, just prior to the ships’ final commissioning.

The wall to the starboard side of the main bar is adorned with a wooden Maori carving depicting Tangaroa the God of the Sea. This priceless piece was presented to the crew by the 11th Brigade Commander of the 6th Marine Division at the naming ceremony for the ship. This carving is one of a pair; the other – depicting Tumatauenga, the Maori God of War – hangs in the Officers Mess.

It was an ideal surrounding to meet with the Gorn on a relaxed level. The reception created an environment to learn about different cultures with no pressure.

Upon arriving at the settlement there was a short farewell and a slightly emotional parting for the Chapel and Secha as they had formed a special bond.

The Gorn survivors were beamed down to the planet with O’Brien and Chapel saying their farewells. As O’Brien was just about to signal the helm to order a new course, he was interrupted by a signal from the Bridge.

“Smith to Captain O’Brien.”

“Yes XO” O’Brien said “What is it?”
“I have a signal from the Planetary Governor asking if we could attend a ceremony in our honor this evening.”
“Please send an acceptance, number one”
“Yes, sir!” Smith replied with a smile.

We accepted the invitation and attended the brief ceremony with as a delegation. The representatives included those crew members vital to the Gorn rescue and hospitality: Captain O’Brien, myself, Lt. Commander Kirok, Dr. Chapel, Lt. j.g.’s Martin, Ried, Tuting, Robert and Josephine Fisher, and Ensign Stubblefield. The reception area was impressive it was substantially large and ornate with statues and paintings everywhere of their heroes and noted citizens. The Gorns offered a sampling of Gorn foods, drink, and music. After an hour, the Planetary Governor, Khaa, assembled the group to present awards to the crew members involved with the rescue.

The delegation from the Southern Cross accepted the awards with honor and found we have made a lasting impression on the Gorn People. Captain Secha was in attendance with his rescued crew. They all bowed as a sign of respect to us when we exited the building.

We hope this encounter will only strengthen the relationship between the Gorn and the United Federation of Planets.

Lt Cmdr Wayne Smith JP
XO USS Southern Cross
DOIC 377th MEU
Director of the college of Borg Technology

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Forbidden Planet - 50 years on.

by Wendy Brokensha

In 1956, the first science fiction film to take us beyond the boundaries of our solar system was released. A film that was to influence films and science fiction shows to come. That film was “Forbidden Planet.” For the first time in the 50’s, earth people showed up on other planets in a flying saucer. Previously, it was always the aliens who showed up in flying saucers.

Last year, the film celebrated its 50th anniversary. To honour this occasion, Warner Brothers have released a 2-disc special edition of the film digitally restored and remastered with nearly 6 hours of bonus features. All in a unique metal alloy case with a collectible Robby the robot action figure and “Forbidden Planet” and “The Invisible Boy” reproduction lobby cards.

So what do you get on the discs? You get deleted scenes and lost footage that has spent the last 50 years locked away in various film vaults. Shots detailing the deceleration tube “light beam” effect aboard the C-57D SpaceCruiser. (This imagery is often pointed out as one of the many elements in “Forbidden Planet” that directly influenced the original “Star Trek” TV series.) Unused footage of the beautiful planets and starfields created for the film; alternate takes of the C-57D landing and the Id monster leaving its footprints in the planet's surface are just some of the gems to be found.

The discs contain an excerpt from “The MGM Parade” TV series. Also included is 2 follow-up vehicles starring Robby the robot: a feature film titled “The Invisible Boy” and “The Thin Man” TV series episode Robot Client. There are 3 documentaries: TCM original “Watch The Skies! Science Fiction, the 1950’s and Us”; the all new “Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet” and “Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon.” The soundtrack has been remastered in Dolby digital 5.1 and trailers for various 50’s science fiction films are included.

On the subject of the soundtrack for “Forbidden Planet," Louis and BeBe Barron created the soundtrack for the film. It was a soundtrack like no other that had existed before. They invented an electronic score for the film. It took them 8 months to come up with just the raw sounds for the film. MGM loved what they came up with so much they gave them the job of scoring the whole film. The genius of the score is the fact that the score plays as music and sound effects at the same time. It carries a mood and tone every bit as much as if it were a full orchestra.

The sad thing is they had to contend with the Musician’s Union. This was the only feature film released by the studio that had a score that involved no musicians. Since they weren’t using traditional instruments, they couldn’t take the credit of being musicians, so they made them take a credit of “Electronic Tonalities.” Unfortunately, it prevented them from being nominated for an Academy Award.

The History of “Forbidden Planet.”

The film was 2 years in the making, but work on the film goes back to at least December 1952. Sci-fi films of the early 50’s, except for a few, were mainly low budget, b-grade pictures filmed in black and white. There was a formula, and the formulas worked and were great for their time. MGM during the 50’s was one of the biggest studios around. They weren’t looking for a b-grade picture to produce. They wanted this to be the first science fiction “A” film.

Cyril Hume wrote the actual screenplay, but it was Irving Block and Allen Adler who came up with the story. The film was modeled on William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” “The Tempest” involves a man named Prospero, perhaps the most powerful magician in the world, who happens to have a blind spot. He’s filled with ego. His evil brother exiles him to a Mediterranean island where he remains with his daughter for 12 years. Then a ship comes and finds them and the daughter falls in love with one of the men on the ship. The daughter has to go through an odd little arc. She has to not like the man from the ship, than fall in love with him. She has to love her father, than begin to mistrust him, and finally choose the man from the ship over her father. “The Tempest” asks one fundamental question, “If you had the power of a god, and you had your enemies right here, what would you do with them?” That alone makes it a masterpiece of space opera. So you have definite parallels and the making of a film.

This was a new direction for MGM. They had done fantasy films, such as “The Wizard of Oz," and horror films to a degree throughout the years, but nothing space orientated. To do a science fiction take, an outer space take on “The Tempest," was a particularly smart idea at the time.

Given a working title of “Fatal Planet," the original draft set the movie in the year 1976 and told the story of an expedition from earth that land on the planet Mercury and finds 2 survivors from an expedition that went missing 20 years earlier. A man named Adams (later to be renamed Dr Morbius) and his daughter Dorianne (also to be renamed Altaira). By 1954 when production on the film began, Adams was to become the commander of the spacecruiser; the planet Mercury became Altair 4 and the year was now 2200AD. The title was also changed to “Forbidden Planet.”

There was a serious undertone throughout the film that was missing from other science fiction films of the period. The key factor was that the characters really believed in their roles. In a recent interview, Anne Francis said that as actors, they made it a point from the very beginning to take the story seriously and to play it for real.

The film was a serious attempt to represent a completely unique world, and it wasn’t good enough to just say, “it’s not the world you know," it had to be a world that nobody knew and at the same time, everyone would recognise it as being alien. The whole planet had been created from scratch.

MGM wanted people who didn’t read science fiction, to be able to tell, when they were watching “Forbidden Planet,” that they were seeing something that was made by people who respected the genre.

“Forbidden Planet” broke all the rules. It was ahead of its time, as if looking into the future. It was in colour, filmed in widescreen and had incredible special effects.

Anne Francis, who played Altaira, wore mini-skirts, and she wore them very well. This was before mini-skirts came in, which was in the mid 60’s. There was a viewscreen on board the spacecruiser. The crews carried communication devices that incorporated cameras, and even working phaser guns.

You can’t think of “Forbidden Planet” and not think of Robby the Robot. There would be very few people who haven’t heard of Robby. He is probably the most unique robot ever created for a movie. Sure, there have been others, the most famous being the robot from ”Lost in Space.” Before “Forbidden Planet," robots had been of the clunky variety where you basically got 3 metal blocks with a head. Robby was different. You could see where his joints worked. You could see he had gyroscopes inside his dome going around to keep him upright. There was all kinds of stuff there that could easily be thought of as being real technology. That was the big difference between Robby and every robot before him. Robby looked like he might actually work, that he could be for real. The idea you could have a robot as a friend, instead of an enemy, was a novel one. This again comes from respect for the genre. The character of Robby the robot, follows all of the basic laws of robotics. Asimovs 3 laws of robotics state that :

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders conflict with the first law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

Clearly, the scriptwriters who wrote the script for “Forbidden Planet” were aware of these laws. Robby would go on to feature in another film, an episode on TV’s “The Thin Man”, “Lost In Space” and “Wonder Woman” to name a few.

“Forbidden Planet” could easily be forgiven as a pilot for “Star Trek.” Gene Roddenberry once mentioned that “Forbidden Planet” was what he wanted to do. He wanted to take it, make it and turn it into a TV series. Even “Star Wars” can be attributed to “Forbidden Planet.” Add to all of that a fine cast including Walter Pidgeon as Dr. Morbius, Anne Francis as his daughter Altaira, Leslie Nielsen (as a leading man in a serious straight acting role playing the love interest) as Commander J.J. Adams and a young Richard Anderson who would later turn up in another sci-fi show, for television, titled “The Six Million Dollar Man” with Lee Majors. Is it any wonder that “Forbidden Planet” has become the cult film that it is today. It was made with the respect science fiction deserves. Care was taken in all aspects of filming and everyone involved with the film took their work seriously. It is for all these reasons and more, and the fact it is just a great love story and action come mystery film set in the future, that it has stood the test of time.

-the end-

Mind Games

Fan Fiction
by Lt Col Bruce O’Brien

I sat there and watched him carefully. He would have guessed that he was being observed on the monitors, but I could tell that he sensed that someone was watching him right there and then.

And I have to confess, I was still impressed with what I saw.

Sure he had that same haughty expression of all Romulans – looking around him as if there was a bad smell in the room, with that stern, unchanging demeanour that gave no sign, no evidence that he was actually alone and a prisoner of his people’s enemy. But it was his stature, the way he held himself erect, refusing to sit – head held high and face and jaw steely taut, yet hinting at some form of inner bemusement at his predicament that impressed me most.

At his disarming and capture he had appeared resigned yet undefeated, slowly lowering his useless weapon as if challenging the Marines surrounding him to admit that he wasn’t really giving up the fight, merely acknowledging that his weapon would no longer fire. He had been outnumbered and severely outgunned but there had been no doubting his skill, evidenced by the two dead soldiers on the ground in front of him.

So what was he thinking now, I wondered. So far, all we knew of him was his name and his rank - Arrain Durnah ir’Kihai t’Nanclus, which we knew to mean he was saying he was Captain Durnah from the City of Kihai and of the House Nanclus. A fairly standard and expected response and once he had surrendered and the aggression had settled within, he appeared calm, controlled and utterly focussed.

He had just stood there while my men had first searched him then attached the wrist restraints to lead him away.

Even then he had given me the impression that he hadn’t really surrendered to us, that our capture of him was merely an interruption into whatever was going to happen next.

I knew enough of Romulan culture to allow him the privilege of respect and politeness, this despite the fact that he had personally killed two of my men and wounded one other. And so I had approached him without hesitation, holding my self erect and keeping my eyes locked onto his as I drew near him, albeit with a slight smile of satisfaction visible on my face.

I had greeted him formally and acknowledged his surrender, enquiring if he had been hurt and then asking his name. The answer given was only as I had expected to be – name and rank.

It came as a polite but stiff response – so very different to that which we had been given earlier in the day from the solider we had almost captured.

Wounded and dying, he had cursed us as we approached him, calling us “klle” or “worms”, as he lay there in the dust coughing his blood onto the front of his uniform, then dying without making another sound.

So this Romulan Captain had intrigued me from that first moment. His green uniform was dirty and stained and yet he carried himself as if stepping off a parade ground. Surely the sign of a student of the Rhetor, the Romulan War College famed for turning out well-trained, well-disciplined officers. “Show no sign of defeat” written all over his face. And we all knew well enough to keep our weapons trained on him. The Romulan training for unarmed combat was well respected even by some of my toughest Marines.

It was obvious that he was not going to answer any questions, so we had beamed back to the ship and taken him to the brig, where he was now - still standing as he had been for the last hour, hands clasped behind his back. I knew more about him than he would have thought, and so his manner, bearing and ‘style’ did not surprise me in the least.

I had been careful with him, cautiously ensuring that he gained no feeling of loss of honour or pride. I had made a few light comments about how “difficult it had been to capture him” and “I was sorry that he had had to lose so many of his men”.

There had been no answer – I hadn’t really expected one.

Three days of evasion and nasty skirmishes amongst the rocks had taken its toll on all of us really.

This last band of fugitives from a doomed Romulan military excursion in the Carraya System, where they had planned to establish a secret ‘listening post’ to monitor traffic on the Romulan side of the Neutral Zone, had eluded our efforts to winkle them out and having destroyed their last chance of escape, it was simply a matter of time before we had captured them all.

But it had not been easy. We needed answers as to what the Empire had planned and so we needed prisoners. Not an easy task with Romulans who consider death is much more preferable to dishonour.

But we had our man, and by my reckoning, the best catch of them all.

I figured it was time to get some answers, so I stepped out of the side observation room and into the main security office and walked over to the cell holding our prisoner. His eyes swept my face and locked onto mine. It was time to end this little game.

And of course my words startled him. He tried to hide it but I caught the flash of surprise in his eyes as I spoke “And so Captain Durnah. Does your Commander know who you really are? Would he be very surprised to learn that his most loyal and trusted officer was really an agent of the Tal Shiar?”

A smile crossed my lips. The Tal Shiar considered themselves to be masters at interrogation techniques using mind control, but this Starfleet Marine had just won the first round…….

The Last Minutes of the USS Roosevelt

Fan Fiction
by Lt Jg Erik Stubblefield

WOLF 359, the bridge of the USS Roosevelt NCC-2573: The voice of Locutus boomed all over the ship. WE ARE THE BORG! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED!

“Acting Captain’s Log Stardate 44002.3, Chief Science Officer Lieutenant Commander Riley Frazier recording. Captain Smith and Commander T’Kaal have been killed in an explosion when the Borg’s energy weapon hit us. Our warp engines and phasers are off line. We are attempting to escape under half-impulse power while firing our photon torpedoes, but we cannot seem to lock on to the Borg cube…”

“Our shields are failing, sir! We are being boaaaAAAARRR.!” Lieutenant Cho bellowed as her Ops consol shorted out in a kaleidoscope of sparks.

“All hands abandon ship, Escape plan Beta, get to the shuttles, escape pods, and transporters!” Frazier flipped the intercom button from interior ship wide communications to ship to ship. “To any Federation vessel. This is the Roosevelt. We are being boarded by the Borg and are abandoning ship!” Frazier stepped to the Ops position, pushing a lifeless Lieutenant Cho off the console.

“Lieutenant Khaalssss, fire the remainder of our torpedoes, never mind the targeting computer, let them go straight toward the cube. They’ll hit something! Let’s see if we can release a log buoy and get the hell out of here!”

The Gorn Junior Security Officer was an imposing figure. He was just assigned to the Roosevelt from the USS Firebrand the previous month and was having a hard time adjusting to a much larger ship with a much larger crew. Frazier was the first person he met in the lounge, and was the only person on the ship not intimidated by his daunting body size. His seven-foot frame seemed to fill the turbolift and he had to duck at almost every other bulkhead divider.

“Sssssthhisth Thcchhssssss CHHHH ssage buoy away, sir. Let’s go ssssschchhhhhh” Khaalssss’s personal universal translator had been damaged in the first explosion that rocked the bridge and destroyed the main turbolift along with the security guard that was stationed there.

The first officer, a Vulcan named T’Kaal, and Captain Smith, a human born and raised by Orion pirates, had been in the command chair area when the main support beam crashed down on top of them and the navigation console. The ranking officer on the bridge was the shy science officer from Texas.

Turning from their respective consoles toward the secondary turbolift, the whine of a transporter behind them drew their attention. Whirling around, a Borg soldier began walking toward the pair.


Frazier fired her phaser, missing to the left of the Borg, destroying the remaining intact computer displays behind her target, while Khaalssss moved like an alligator launching at the gazelle at the edge of a river, knocking the Borg over the command rail.

“I thought you Gorn were slow!” Frazier quipped

“You shhhsshswould be ssssssuprised how fast we can ssshhhhsssmove in sssssssssshort bursssssssssts of time.”

“Let’s go!”

Khaalssss’s mind wandered to other places in the universe as they entered the secondary turbolift. Amazingly it was functional.

“Escape pod bank Alpha” Frazier blurted as the doors hissed closed.

Frazier looked at the Gorn, impossible to do without hurting her neck. “I bet you and the Gorn Hedgemony Battle Fleet didn’t have the Borg in mind when you decided to trade places with Commander Singh in this Universal Fleet Exchange Program!”

“It issssss no matter. The Gorn do not ssssshhhhy from battle!”

“How is your shoulder, Khaa?”

“It isssssss but a flessssshhh wound.” The Gorn stiffened, clearly uncomfortable with Frazier’s concern with his health.

“It looks pretty bad, Khaa, let me see!”

The turbolift doors hissed open halfway, leaving only one side of the doorway cleared.

Stepping out first, Frazier tripped over a Borg, stiff and inert. Falling on the uneven surface of Starfleet personnel and Borg soldiers, Frasier reached out for her Gorn companion.

The Gorn’s arms were just out of reach, as Frazier fell onto the pile of bodies, crushing the occipital bone in the rear of her skull, rendering her an unconscious lump on the deck.

The noise alerted the two Borg down the corridor to the left. On the right, two more Borg transported into the ship. They closed in on the Khaalssss.


Khaalssss, seeing the blood pool growing in size on the deck, picked Frazier up with one hand as one might pull a child from a swimming pool. His damaged left arm pulled a phaser rifle from the upper half of a slain security officer. Pointing the rifle to the Borg and firing repeatedly, the Gorn began his final battle.


The End.

The Raven's Writing Desk - June, 2007

by Lt Cmdr Kirok of L'Stok

Within the short space of five issues the new crew of the USS Southern Cross, have given me the support and content to create a high quality, fan made newsletter, ScuttleButt, downloadable from our website as a series of free pdfs. But it doesn't stop there! The crew is now spreading its wings beyond the normal mayhem that goes on in a Star Trek fan club and stepping into fan productions.

What's a fan production? Like a lot of buzz-words it means different things to different people. On Wikipedia, the article on Star Trek fan productions takes the narrow view of seeing them as dramatic productions, covering only fan films, animation and audio dramas. I prefer to take the wider view that a fan production is virtually anything that a fan produces! Fan films, music videos, written fan fiction, filk and poetry! Virtually anything that is of an art or craft nature that expresses your love of the Sci fi genre! Yes, crafts as well! whether they are paper models or knitting patterns, musical instruments, costumes or props!

If what you love dearest is to watch your DVD collection, read the licensed books or see the stars at a convention, I'm right there with ya! These are things that cemented my love of the sci fi genre and I gain great entertainment and satisfaction from my own collections and convention going. However amongst all groups there are those who want to contribute & create and through their own efforts gain a resonance of the feeling they had for the original.


I've edited probably a half-dozen different amateur newsletters and fanzines over the past five years and overall I get a buzz out of it. Taking the output of a group of fellow amateurs and polishing it up to look good in print is a noble endeavour, yet one of the things I will never enjoy is the actual editing itself, the task of correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Hell, its not as if I'm any great expert at it myself - my own usage of the English language is more intuitive than didactic. However I do it because its a job that needs to be done, maintaining a reasonable standard of the English language.

Where I do draw the line though is editing for style and content - saying what is and is not good enough! It sometimes happens that I am faced with a submission that is way below the standard of other contributor's work. Should I tell them its not up to scratch? Should I spend hours editing it? I'm very conscious of the fragility of other people's feelings, especially over something that they might have put a lot of effort into, their pride and joy! I've lost two friends over it and I really don't want to lose any more.

So my philosophy nowadays is that at the "grass roots" end of the business, as I am, I have a responsibility to the members to help them see what they have produced in print. I suppose I'll leave myself open now to claims that I'm running a vanity press and I suppose in a way I am, if making people feel empowered by seeing their work in print is a vanity.

There will be those who will say that writers can only develop their skills if they are exposed to the bitter truth of their mistakes right from the start. They are the types who search for the hidden Hemingway and Fitzgerald in all of us and pan movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Shrek 3 because they are not deep and meaningful. They probably pulled wings off flies when they were kids too.

The truth of the matter is that for all our ideals of democracy and socialism, not all people are equal within specific disciplines. People are different. Some will be comfortable writing, others will be comfortable with numbers, with money, with wood or steel, with people or with animals.
I am comfortable with the written word, whether I am good with it is up to you to decide, o' hypothetical reader. What I want to do as an editor is to help Everyman, or Everywoman as the case may be, to discover and release the writer hidden within them. I want to encourage Duncan to release the hidden Duncan ... or the hidden Starfleet admiral, the hidden demon of unimaginable power or the hidden child.

These characters locked within them are fragile beasts though and to coax them out needs patience and support. Because these people might not have delved within themselves to write since their school days, we need to find a way of encouraging them which is relatively easy and engages their interest. We need painting-by-numbers for writers - this is why God gave us fan fiction.