The Writer Behind...

It’s large scale shore leave time, when a young Engineer’s fancy turns to thoughts of recalibration of the ship’s life support systems.

"Now howdoya figure that, darlin'?" He pressed on with the charm, easing a hand onto her shoulder and giving a squeeze. "Everything turned out all right in the end. Taris is history, Lair Arie lives, what more could'ye ask of me?"

"That you do as your told." She said bluntly, taking hold of his hand and moving it off of her shoulder.

“Come now, Gemini, you know me.” Will lightly protested, not liking this mood she was in one bit. “I get the job done, just need a bit of room to move, that’s all.”

“Hey Rada! I have to tell you something,” he said, shouting across the room. “Sorry for interrupting…” he said cheerfully as he arrived. He saw Amelia out the corner of his eyes and seeing how annoyed she looked added “Sir,” as Rada advised him to say around her. “Sorry for interrupting but this isn’t the type of thing that can wait very long,” he then proceeded to look down at his chronometer and wait for several seconds.

Amelia’s eyebrows immediately shot toward the roof and the shock on her face begged the question of why Rada hadn’t had this man court-martialled yet.

Finally Rada had to ask. “What is it, Jamie?”

“You asked me to remind you when it was almost oh-nine-hundred hours,” he said still looking down, waiting a few more seconds then looking up and adding “Now it is.”

“Look, I know that this is going to be an adjustment, but I also know that you want Tam to have a father. I want to be a father to Tam. You want somewhere he can be safe from his real father. He can be safe here.”

Wren couldn’t disagree with this but made no definitive acknowledgement. Her eyes flickered down for a second before returning to Rada’s.

“I want you to stay with me Wren. I…” he wasn’t sure he should say this. “I love you.”

She didn’t say anything, but it didn’t matter as he had plenty to say for both of them. “I never stopped loving you and call it selfish, but I need you to stay with me because I’m not sure I’d survive you leaving again.” She looked almost sad as he finished his sentence “Please.”



Crew Interview 2010 Edition:

Chief Engineering Officer Rada Dengar

1. Okay, so this might be a personally motivated question but I'm curious nonetheless. Say, for some reason, you found yourself sightless for a week (I couldn’t stand the thought of inflicting it on any of you for longer than that, believe me.) You can't read, write, drive, do any of the things that you would normally do for that week. What would you do to pass the time?

RD: In a word; I’d pace. I often like to take walks as a way to let myself think whether about posts, problems or just about life. Normally of course this will be done outside and the walking will actually take me somewhere, but if I were sightless then I suppose my lounge room (that’s a living room for most of you) would be as far as my walks would take me. I’d still like to think they’d work the same way.

2. The Enterprise-D crew bonded by playing poker. Is there a "tradition" for bonding you would like to see our crew adopt? (We have discussed Euchre in the past but it has yet to be written.)

RD: It is of course very difficult to suggest a single common activity to such a wide range of characters. I really can’t picture Salvek playing Snap and I strongly suspect that Vol would have a very unfair advantage in any game that involved bluffing. Given that each character contains a little of their writer I suppose they could always write together for a Star Trek RPG but then I have a feeling that may get a little self-referential. So since I can’t really suggest anything that’d be completely perfect I’ll just go with Chess. At the very least it’s a game I can already play.
3. Uh oh! The cops are at the door and looking for your character. If your character ever got arrested, what would they most likely have done?

RD: Of course this is going to have a very different depending on the character but in each case I’d like to believe they’d be innocent.

With Wren it’d be using her telepathic abilities for cheating in gambling (whereas I’m sure she’d be using them for an entirely different reason and just overhear the other people’s cards in which case who can blame her).

Jamie would likely just have really gotten on the police officer’s nerves until they were eventually forced to trump up some charges to keep him off the streets.

With Will (Lindsay) I’m not entirely sure but it’d certainly be something involving women and their possibly familial or (unbeknownst to him) marital relationships to members of the police force again leading to charges being trumped up.

With Rada on the other hand it’d probably be causing a global panic by reporting a possible conspiracy, epidemic or bomb threat and though he’d do it with the best of intentions given that he’d probably have ‘uncovered’ it as a result of something like a stamp positioned strangely on an envelope their decision to arrest him could be entirely understandable.

4. I've often heard the question "what piece of Star Trek technology would you most want?" I'd like to know what alien ability you would most like to have, and why... and NO Saying Q-omnipotence.... that's too easy. (Examples: Betazoid telepathy, Founder shape-shifting, Vulcan mild meld, Vulcan nerve pinch, Borg hive mind, be a "living ship" like Gomtuu, exist as a hologram like The Doctor, exist with the wisdom of others inside of you as a joined Trill.)

RD: Personally I’d have to go with the Android ability to absorb and retain massive amounts of information in very little time. Not only would you have to figure it’d come in extremely handy as a gateway to other abilities (I might not be telepathic now but give me a few moments and I’ll read every book ever written on the topic) but never again would I have to face an awkward situation where someone’s talking to me but I’ve forgotten their name.

5. What is the most important thing you have learned in the last year?

RD: In the last year there have been some people who really surprised me and some people who really didn’t. I’d like to think that I’ve learnt to be a bit more trusting of those who truly deserve it.

6. What is the passage of prose or dialog you've written in the past year here on the Sera that you're proudest of? Why is it your favorite?

RD: This is not an easy question (didn’t we just get though choosing favourites for this year?).
(Yes, yes, we did, Danger, I'm asking the question anyway. My mind just works that way. ~ZL)
RD: Still, if I have to choose something there was a post I wrote with the Captain called Mightier than the Sword. In that Rada uttered the below:

“I hate gardening, Captain. I hate a lot of things, and frankly there are some things I don’t like very much about you. I don’t like how much you let your decisions be swayed by emotion. I think it’s pretty damn inconsiderate how loud you play your music sometimes and frankly it wouldn’t hurt you to lay off the coffee.”

I suppose the reason this is a favourite of mine (I won’t say it’s my favourite because that would be far too hard a choice) is because it was such an important moment for the character. This showed a great deal of growth in the character while I felt still staying true to who he’d always been. That’s why I’m proud of it.

7. What is your earliest memory related to Star Trek?

RD: I didn’t actually watch Star Trek until relatively recently in my life. However I was of course very much aware of it long before I saw it. I suppose therefore that my earliest memory related to Star Trek had very little to do with Star Trek itself. Thinking back it was actually an episode of the Simpsons where they mentioned a debate over whether Kirk or Picard was the better Captain. I recall wondering who these people were and why exactly they were in competition.
8. How did you first get involved in Star Trek online role-playing?

RD: Online role-playing isn’t anything that anyone I’ve ever met in person has actually done (at least not in our way, I’ve certainly known people who play trolls and other strange creatures in MMORPGs but I don’t really think that counts)
(Please note the the opinions expressed in these interviews are that of the writer in question and not specifically or necessarily those of Star Trek: Alchemy. In other words, we did not just disrespect the fine MMORPG folks so please don't send me hate mail. Of course Dengar didn't just disrespect anybody either because he's the single most polite man on the planet. Okay, now you can continue on. Thank you *lol* ~ZL)

and so it’s something I had to discover on my own. One day in 2007 as I was unsuspectingly using the internet I somehow found my way to Soultrek. I found the idea fascinating so I sent in an application. The rest as they say (and indeed the stuff I’ve already told you) is history.

9. When you are not writing for this game (or bothering the captain with something inane), what is it that you actually do for a living?

RD: I’m a university student and this year I’ll be undertaking my Honours year in Actuarial studies at the University of (location removed by the Captain- let's just say somewhere in Australia, shall we?) I also occasionally offer my services as a mathematics tutor.
10. What is your dream vacation? (Both a real one and one set in the Star Trek world)

RD: I am not strictly the vacationing type (I mean if I didn’t like where I was living enough to stay there when I had a bit of time off then I’d probably already have moved) but being from the country originally it’d be nice to stay in a small town with all the amenities but in walking distance of the bush. As far as a Star Trek vacation goes I’d have to say Vulcan. The heat doesn’t bother me and it’s not the type of place you’d expect a lot of people partying in the next hotel room over.
11. For those of you who write more than one character in this game: how do you get in the mindset of each character and how do you differentiate each one?

RD: It is certainly true that each of my characters requires a fairly different mindset but the basic process is quite the same. I simply ask myself what this character wants. Rada is very much geared to caution; he wants to stop things going wrong whether that means (to him) people discovering he’s a fraud, the ship blowing up or a friend being hurt. Jamie is not so much a man of caution; he wants to fix those problems that are immediate concerns as well as he can and to enjoy everything else. Will too wants to enjoy life and he wants to do so without any of the boring bits but also to right any wrong he encounters in the short and the long term and to look good doing it. Wren too wants to enjoy herself even if it means risks sometimes but is also driven by a relatively new desire to have a stability she’s not often been able to provide in her life and simply to look after those she loves.

12. Who would win in the following grudge match: Star Trek Federation fleet versus Star Wars Imperial fleet?

RD: I fear that based around the ship specifications that this fight would be over pretty quickly. An Imperial I-class Star Destroyer is twice as long as a Sovereign Class starship and is capable of traversing the galaxy easily whereas a Sovereign class would require years giving them a huge size and speed advantage. Unless they’re kind enough to hang around and offer no interference so as to let us use the transporters to our advantage quite a bit then I’d say we don’t have a whole lot of hope. Still, I’m convinced that if the Borg could assimilate just one Jedi then they’d be able to use the force to pretty much wipe out everyone in the Imperial Fleet. Then we just need to employ a convenient method to wipe out the Borg (how hard could that be) and we’re set.

13. By this time everyone here has a fair few written words under their belt. What and when was the first thing you remember writing as a writer (as in a short story, a post or even a poem)?

RD: The first thing I wrote that could actually have been called writing would have been some simple poetry for school. I remember thinking how easy it was (which when you don’t know enough to actually critique your own work it is) and not understanding why so many other people complained about doing it. I didn’t realise at the time that I was already finding writing to be something more interesting than most did.

14. For those of you who can remember that far back, what was the first post you wrote for an RPG? For those of you who can’t, what was your earliest that you can remember?

RD: I remember the first post I wrote for an RPG was a Rada post (he was my first character). The ship was otherwise engaged so he was yet to come aboard and was attempting to relax on a beach on Trill where he ended up held at phaser-point by a Ferengi. From then on it seemed clear that Rada wouldn’t have a drama free life.

15. It’s easy enough when you first start writing for a character to have a set idea in your mind of what you’re going to do with them but it’s often not nearly as easy to make them actually go along with it. Have you ever had a character you’d written for taking a direction you hadn’t intended? If so, what happened?

RD: The classic example of this would have to be Jamie Halliday and it’s happened quite recently. He wasn’t actually originally my character but was an Engineering NPC known as Jack Halliday (his name was later changed to avoid confusion with Jack Hubbard who for those of you who don’t know was a doctor on board for a brief time). As time went on I came to realise this character had become more important than he once was as Rada was now the only non-NPC Engineer in the department and so now when I needed someone for him to sound ideas off of it came down to Jamie. That’s why I decided that Jamie would need at least a basic history and personality which is why I created a bio for him on the site (intended originally to be just humorous).

Anyway, while he was originally still going to be an NPC he ended up becoming my character instead but for the most part remained a background character. Then recently he started to surprise me when I wrote a joint post with Ashton Ledbetter and so gave him a larger role than I had been. Now he’s pulling Lair Kellyn out of holes in the ice and he’s started to take on a life of his own. I didn’t plan it but I do like it.

16. I imagine theme parks in the future will be a lot more high-tech and that the rides will be so far advanced that they surpass any imagination possessed by one from the 21st Century. Be that as it may, if you character(s) were set loose upon one of today's theme parks, which ride do you think they would do first? Teacups? Water slide? Haunted House? Rollercoaster of DEATH? Any reason you can elaborate upon?

RD: This is another case where the different characters would make different choices. Jamie would likely just go straight to the first ride he saw when he stepped through the gate (he’d want to try them all and that’s the best place to start). Unless he had brought a lady along with him, Will would likely go for the fastest ride he could (the more speed the more fun). At this point in her life Wren would most likely go to the Haunted House because it’s exciting without the whiplash.

For Rada though I have a very specific ride in mind which is located in Queensland (that’s an Australian state for those of you who don’t know) and it’s known as the Giant Drop. It is 120 metres high (that’s a little less than 400 feet high) and is not your traditional exhilaration ride. You’re strapped in to a row of seats on the side of this tower and then you’re slowly raised vertically up, getting ever closer to the top, getting more and more time to process just how high it is you’re going. The suspense is building up and up and you feel like you’re never going to stop until finally you reach the top and then you’re just held there looking out over the park and into the distance and knowing just how far from the ground you’ve come. By this point I remember my niece (who was only a few years younger than I was at the time and actually still is) was screaming that she wanted to get off. Then finally, once fear has truly set in they let you go and you’re plummeting towards the Earth feeling like you’re going to smash into the ground. Then when you reach the bottom you suddenly realise they’ve slowed you down and you’re back safely on Earth. I know Rada would absolutely hate it but he’d have to try it once to prove he wasn’t afraid, then never again.

17. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data had Spot. Worf was briefly seen with a warthog (a Targ I believe, m’dear. ~ZL) of sorts, and Tasha also had a pet cat. Besides our famous dog owned by the O'Sullivans, there are no other pets that I'm aware of. Do you think your character would murder any living thing, or have you considered giving them a pet? If the latter, what and why?

RD: While I’d like to think none of my characters would murder any living thing (at least not anything cute enough to be a pet) I’ve never really thought of giving them a pet to look after. Wren’s got a kid, Will’s too irresponsible, Rada’s got enough to worry about and Jamie could make any dog decide they’d reached their limit of tolerable attention.

18. From my own personal experience, characters are predominantly facets of ourselves, at least in the beginning. The longer our characters live, the more distant they become and the more they begin to form their own traits. In many ways, I guess, they're like real life children in this sense. Has there ever been a character you played that started off wonderful, but turned into a strained relationship? Such as something abhorrent developing in the character that you strongly disagreed with? If not, is there a character in your past or present that you respectfully disagree with on some matter?

RD: No, this has never happened to me. All my children are wonderful.

19. You’re the star: Is there a plot arc that you’d like to specifically see any/all of your/our characters involved in this year?

RD: Well, while not a full plot arc in itself the effects of the resequencing and his relationship with Wren is something that will certainly need to be properly addressed for Rada. Also, while it’s not so much a specific plot arc I’d definitely like to see something stressful that pushes Jamie to his limits.

20. Recently, Lair Kellyn was forced to rely on the seemingly least likely member of the crew to save her life, Jamie Halliday. (By the way, thanks, Jamie for that *laugh *) If your character had to rely on one other member of the crew to save their life, who would be your first and last choice and why? (To make it interesting, I'm immediately disqualifying the captain as an answer to this question- it's my question so I can do that- and also no fair just defaulting to Ashton cause nobody wants to be saved by Ashton *laugh* ~ZL).

RD: This is an interesting question because it asked who I would choose and not who the character would (Will for example would almost certainly choose Keiran given their history). As far as first choice goes personally I think it’d have to be Salvek as you really don’t get more reliable than Vulcan logic and with superior intelligence and strength you can’t go wrong. As last choice I’d have to vote for Landry Steele, I really don’t think I need to explain.

(Sorry for the confusion Rada, I worded my question badly (not enough coffee) I meant which other character would your character(s) choose but I liked your answers from both perspectives and as far as Landry goes...say no more *laugh* ~ZL)

And a bonus question just cause I feel like it, I’m the Captain, and I can do that too…
21: Through the miracle of time travel (My TARDIS is double parked) transporter or Infinite Improbability Drive (your choice) our entire crew of writers shows up unannounced on your doorstep (yep, all seven of us in one place... imagine that…) We’re starving and ready for a good time. Where in your local geographical area would you take us to eat dinner, why would you choose that particular location and what would you recommend from the menu?

RD: I suspect that given the great distance you’d all travelled McDonald’s wouldn’t be all that acceptable. So instead I’ll go with a nice little old fashioned Australian pub I know just down the road. It’s always quiet, the food’s always good and I doubt there’d be a problem seating seven without a booking (though with a time machine I suppose we could just make one yesterday). Personally I’d have to recommend the steak but given that’s all I ever eat there there may well be better choices. -=/\=-


The Captain Interviews...2009 Edition

Serendipity's Chief Engineering Officer, Rada Dengar


ZL. Tell us a little about yourself.

RD: For those of you who don't know, I am Australian. I live in the city of Melbourne but was raised on a hobby farm in the country. I'm currently studying Actuarial Studies at the University of Melbourne. I have always had an interest in mathematics but have only really become interested in writing over the last couple of years.

ZL: How did you first become interested in Star Trek? Do you follow other Science Fiction franchises as well? (i.e.: Star Wars, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica...)

RD: The first Star Trek I saw was the last few episodes of Voyager and though they weren't that bad they didn't give the best idea of what Trek was really capable of. What really put me off though was that the first episode of Enterprise I saw was In a Mirror, Darkly. Remember I had no idea what the Mirror Universe was at the time so I just assumed this was how they always behaved. My impression was therefore that Enterprise was pretty brutal.

Luckily, during my first year of university I decided to get into shape by joining the gym. I was told that a University Union membership would get me free access, it didn't. What it did do was give me access to a small library with a large collection of tapes. They had an entire set of the Next Generation, a lot of Deep Space Nine, some Original Series and some Voyager. I started watching and couldn't stop. They've since gotten rid of all the VHSs in place of DVDs and so I was able to get hold of all their Next Generation tapes myself.

Of course I enjoy a variety of Science Fiction now. I love Doctor Who, in particular the classic, the new series is good but involves too much running around and blowing things up. I firmly believe there will never be another Tom Baker. I also enjoy Stargate but as a Star Trek fan I often think how Trek could (and often has) done the same story line better.

I've seen every Star Wars film but really only enjoyed the first two made. Naturally, as an Australian, Farscape has to get a mention too. Also, we all have our little guilty indulgences, and mine's Red Dwarf.

ZL: Which is your favorite Trek series/character?

RD: Though the Original Series was a very close second, I'm going to have to go with the Next Generation as my favourite. As for a character, it has to be Jean-Luc Picard.
ZL: Your favorite Trek series Captain and why?

RD: As you can guess from my answer above, it's Picard. The character's dedication to the intellect and rationality coupled with an incredible passion to do what's right make him second to none. I think that the Captain is always highly representative of the series. Picard as an intelligent, though somewhat preachy man at times, represents the Next Generation.

Just look at how different Captains deal with similar situations. Compare Sisko and Picard with Q and Kirk with Trelane. Sisko struck him. Kirk assessed all his options, making sure to accurately judge his powers, but by the end of the episode he had struck him. Picard on the other hand challenged Q with striking debate. Perhaps not as exciting but I liked it.

I am admittedly biased because I think Patrick Stewart is the best actor Trek has ever seen.

ZL: It's hard for me to believe even as I say this now, but I know that before you started writing for the USS Independence in the summer of 2007 (where you met several of us who are now on the Sera's roster for the first time) you had never written for an RPG before.

What surprised you the most about the experience at the start, and what is it about the process that has kept you interested?

RD: I was initially expecting rather formal interactions between the writers. I thought the Captain would give instructions to the crew and we'd all write independently. Of course now I've found that we all work together as writers on an equal footing and that very often the best work is achieved through collaboration. I believe that's what's kept me interested; how working together we achieve more than we ever could have alone.

ZL: You write for more than one character for Star Trek: Alchemy, with Rada being your main one, of course. You have recently also done remarkable work writing as Co-Author for the very different character of swashbuckling Temporal Investigations agent, Captain William Lindsay.

Have you enjoyed taking the challenge on, and what has been the most interesting part for you in doing it?

RD: I've certainly enjoyed writing for Will. The most interesting part has been how much of a different mind set I need to be in to write him than with Rada. With Rada it's all about the fear of what could happen and a mind dedicated to exploring every possible negative outcome. Will on the other hand makes decision impulsively and focuses almost entirely on the potential positive rewards for an action. These two different styles mean I have to approach them differently with Will being written much more outside than inside his own head.

(Note from the Captain- He wrote for Lindsay so well, that principal authorship of the character was given over to him. So now Lindsay is all his. ~ZL)

ZL: Rada has changed and grown a lot since he started. What has been the biggest surprise to you, if anything, about his evolution?

RD: Rada's evolution was never planned, the character starting out seeming rather complete. In time though he had been forced to interact with people in a manner not typical to the character, this forced the change. He has since become more comfortable and more open with a select group of people in a way I never anticipated and this is what surprised me.

ZL: There is a Joint Post that you worked on that I particularly enjoyed, in fact it made my 'best of' list for the year. You wrote it with Vol Tryst and it involved Rada and Vol being trapped in a turbolift.

The way my mind works, this begs the question: If you could select any one person who has ever lived (whether they are now living or dead) to be trapped in an elevator with for an hour, who would it be? What would you want to talk to them about while they had nowhere to run?

RD: That would have to be Albert Einstein. The way his mind was capable of interpreting reality in such an incredible way, to look beyond the obvious and consider ways things could work that no one before him had. The very concept of relativity amazes me. I'd just like to ask him to visualise the world and to tell me what he could see.

ZL: What is your favorite movie of all time?

RD: Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb comes to mind, however there are so many other greats.
ZL: Who is your favorite writer of all time (or favorite book)

RD: George Orwell, to write a novel somewhere between Orwell and (Douglas) Adams is a dream of mine.
ZL: A lot of writers say that listening to music is instrumental to their writing process. Do you have a major musical influence/ does music influence your writing?

RD: Actually, I find I can't write listening to music. It's never really been much of an influence of mine.
ZL: The Serendipity crew is pretty much portrayed as entirely caffeine addicted. Do you drink coffee in real life? (Cappuccino with two sugars?)

RD: I do drink coffee in real life but am quite a light weight compared to some people.
ZL: Hey, now...

RD: I only ever have one cup around lunch time. It's a little treat for myself that I never miss, even today in forty-three degree heat I had to do it. Most days I just have a cup of instant coffee.
ZL: Another aside from the Captain: For those of us state-side, that's forty-three on the Celsius scale, people, Australia is in the midst of a record heat wave. Yikes.

RD: Some times I am detained and end up buying one at a cafe. When I do you're quite correct that I buy a Cappuccino with two sugars, just as Rada did in Sacrifices (excellent memory by the way). It's noteworthy that Rada bought his at Castro's which is currently a little coffee place based in the University of Melbourne. My reasoning was that with the quality of coffee they make now, they'll be everywhere by the twenty-fourth century.

ZL: Rada Dengar would be lost without his trusty toffees. Does that carry over into real life?

RD: No, that is complete fiction. I enjoy toffees but I'm afraid that if I ever walked around with a bag of them in my pocket it'd be finished within an hour. If I carried such a bag as often as Rada I'd be out of teeth by now.

ZL: You've been writing for Star Trek: Alchemy for more than a year now, if you were going to pick out one thing that you like best about doing it, what would you choose?

RD: I like it when you can sit down to write something and have it turn out nothing like you planned but so much better than you'd expected.

ZL: On Star Trek, often a future version of a person comes back to tell a past version of themselves something important.

If a future you were coming to visit, what would you want to ask them? Or conversely, if you were going into the past, what would you tell your past self when you met them?

RD: I often let myself theorise about how the world works, admittedly getting carried away at times. Since I'm assuming this future version of me would be that bit wiser than I am now, I'd simply ask him what I've gotten wrong.

If I were to go talk to my past self, I'd tell him not to worry; it's all worked out in the end.


This Writer has earned a 2008 Star Trek: Alchemy Above and Beyond Award For innovation and technological assistance to the Captain, in recognition of his creation of a program to auto-format posts for archiving our work.

This Writer has earned the 2009 Star Trek: Alchemy Above and Beyond Award For innovation and technological assistance to the Captain, in recognition of his creation of a program to auto-format all of our game posts for the web with the touch of a button.