Normally I don't preface my fiction, but this is mediocre fan fiction at best and probably needs a fair warning. Star Trek Online has put me in a mood I haven't felt in years to write some bad Star Trek fan fiction. Something about the limited impact a player can have on a current generation MMO always tends to bring out weirdly deep character back stories from me. I'm not entirely sure why I'm posting it here, feel free to ignore it, but maybe someone will find it funny or interesting. (Hire me, I promise that I can also write better than this!)
STO doesn't have social pages up yet, or I would link directly to the character, so a screenshot will have to suffice. Star Trek, as always, is Copyright CBS Studios, and Star Trek Online and its character creator are Copyright Cryptic Studios. I'm referencing these works within my fair use rights. The portions that are my own insanity and creativity I reserve some rights in accordance with my usual Creative Commons license, as linked in the footer, by-nc-sa.
Fiara (Rekam, Fiara Wisdom) is a tall, thin, wiry alien with pink skin. As with many players, I do enjoy playing at the extremes of the character builder. (Although it seems to me that more prefer to play at the small end, rather than the tall one, which I always found odd in the superhero MMOs...) Then of course I had to answer what race she was from and why she was on the fast path to being an Officer in the Federation...
First a biography and then a couple of more detailed logs. I realize that logs aren't the best way to write the tale that follows (and I also realize that I fall into the trap of making my character special in crazy ways, but like I said, it's my way of rebelling against the system), but on the other hand it is a very Star Trek form of storytelling. Also, there are too many parentheses. (I should probably also remind you that the opinions of my characters are not necessarily my own.)
Fiara's people, the Sophorians, are a relatively new, yet highly contentious addition to the Federation. The Sophorians have a deep Engineering culture that in controversial areas such as terraforming and genetic engineering even surpass the skills of most of the Federation. With such a high level of engineering talent embedded in many aspects of the species, the Sophorians were slow to show any signs of warp technology and thus were actively studied by Federation scientists. When the Sophorians did put a warp test together, it was clearly reverse engineered from Federation technology. In the Prime Directive hearing that followed it became somewhat clear that the Sophorians had done a better job studying the Federation than vice versa. Fiara is one of the first Sophorian officers in Starfleet, and an erstwhile ambassador to Starfleet for her people. Even her Starfleet Academy nickname "Wisdom" shows that Fiara is on her way towards proving her people's innate engineering talents.
Mark Verdant --- Chief Science Officer's Log --- Sophorian Research Center
I'm going to try my best to sum up several decades of research. I don't expect this will help defend me during my impending Prime Directive Hearing. However, I realize that the Sophorians have already petitioned the Federation Council for membership and I hope to provide the Council with as much of the relevant data as possible. I've been the Chief Science Officer in the Sophoros system for a handful of Sophorian years. I was recently invited to explore Sophorian culture first hand, and I expect that, regardless of the outcome of my hearing, I will be the Federation expert on the Sophorians for near term.
Sophoros is a Beta Quadrant system that was first noticed by the Federation for having five inhabitable planets and moons, all of nearly Earth-like atmosphere and composition. For this reason, it is often casually referred to as "the Garden System" by some researchers. The Sophorian home world, although it is most likely not their planet of origination, is the smallest of these bodies: a moon we generally refer to as Sophoria Prime. Sophoria Prime is just a fraction smaller than Luna back home.
All of the habitats in the system show one telltale sign of artificial terraforming at some point in their history, including Sophoria Prime. Starfleet's initial interest in the system stems from the mystery of who terraformed these worlds, and to what purpose. Further passes were allowed to study some of the non-sentient lifeforms on the planets in the system outside of Sophoria Prime. These passes revealed some of the richest genetic manipulation the Federation has seen.
Presuming that the Sophorians themselves have been involved, and continue to be involved, in the technology of terraforming and genetic engineering, Starfleet knew that a permanent installation would be a high risk. Ultimately the risk was considered and debated at the Federation Council, where it passed with a slim minority vote. Knowing the risks, the Sophorian Research Center was granted a science license for cloaking technology. The Center was established on the outer edges of the system and designed to generally stay eclipsed behind the system's sun, with respect to Sophoria Prime. A limited schedule of probe launches was authorized, along with much of the usual collection of sensor banks and astrometric devices.
Within the first few months of Center operations, the first crisis happened when the sensors picked up the standard residue of teleporters. Visual confirmation from the sensors followed that a small group of Sophorians had gone on "picnic" (the Sophorians seem to find amusement in the universal translators attempt at this word, and have started using it themselves, at least when around us) to one of the larger planets. The Center was nearly closed immediately following this find, but was left open again in a last minute, minority Council vote.
(The Sophorian picnics across their system only reinforced the concept of the solar system as a large garden. I was an early proponent for the theory, which I think has now been proven correct, that these worlds were just as much laboratories as gardens and that the Sophorians have long, patient experiments over the course of centuries, if not millennia. Certainly I am professionally jealous of the apparent Sophorian scientific research studies.)
Further examination turned up a sequence of devices implanted in system asteroids act as a transporter relay network for the system, connecting transporter pads (which initial surveys obviously failed to recognize) spread across the habitable planets. An engineer on my team summarized decades of studying the relay network as "incredible" and "frustratingly insane". The metaphor that I finally pulled from him that I could comprehend was that Sophorian transporter technology appears "inside out" compared to normal Federation transporters: "things that should be passed along subspace are sent at lightspeed or worse, and things that barely seem worth buffering are shunted through subspace". Of course any summary will make the facts seem simpler than they are in reality. The exact details can be found in the appropriate Center logs.
Suffice it to say, transporter relay networks haven't been needed by the Federation, as impulse engines and warp drives handle most of Federation's intra-system needs. Impulse Engines and Warp Drives generally proceed development of Transporter technology, seemingly universally in galactic development judging from Federation logs. The Sophorians for most of the Center's study period showed zero signs of impulse engine or warp core design, and yet they control and presumably built this complex transporter relay network that in some ways surpasses what the Federation has even attempted to do.
(One of the Center's engineers in her spare time made a fairly precise simulation of how the Sophorians might have launched their relay satellites into the asteroid belts using nothing more than crude chemical rockets and speeds far less than any modern impulse engine. The simulation certainly resulted in a beautiful balletic display, if nothing else.)
The second crisis was a few years later when routine diagnostics and an updated sensor pattern filter ended up collecting a number of, in hindsight, obvious signs of Sophorian replicator usage across the entire history log collected by Center sensors. It would seem that the original pattern was set to a value fairly high, as if to compensate for the background usage of replicators on a station ten times the size of the small Center.
Certainly the replicator usage was a smaller surprise after the transporter relay network, but it still got logged back through proper channels and nearly resulted in the dissolution of the Research Center. This time the vote was more favorable towards continued research, as the diagnostics check made it further unlikely that the Sophorians were hiding impulse or warp technology that our sensors could not observe.
The most recent crisis, resulting in the impending Prime Directive Hearing, is the first Sophorian warp test. This is quite possibly one of the strangest first contact the Federation has encountered, and the Center is certainly a key piece in this, and I don't envy the Starfleet Judiciary Board the task of deciding how much of this was a preventable violation of the Prime Directive. Certainly there are critics that still believe the Center should have been shut down following the first or second crisis.
I'm told the warp core itself looked almost exactly like one of the more common models used primarily by the Federation. The consensus from my engineering team, however, is that the design shows some signs that the core was built as if from first principles in a Starfleet Academy lab. They said the feeling they got was as if they were looking at an Academy experiment built at a slightly larger scale, more attention to detail than a typical Academy student, and by someone that obviously knew the theory inside and out, but seemed to have never managed to actually see a real one in action up until that point. (The Academy Engineer colloquialism for such a design apparently is something along the lines of calling it "an earthborn special".)
While I do not feel culpable in any Prime Directive violation, I can't feel much more than awe with regard to the Sophorian warp test. After decades of no noticeable warp development activity, the Sophorians, on a time and date of their choice, made a first and immediately successful warp test. Simultaneously the Sophorians sent a perfectly coded subspace message to the Starfleet Admiralty of peace and ambassadorial goodwill. (Including a very extensive universal translator database.
At the Center we received our own message, personally inviting us as guests of the Sophorian graduation ceremony. I do feel culpable in this violation of standard first contact doctrine, but it is not often that a researcher is personally invited to share notes with the very subjects of one's research.
I hope to visit the next Sophorian graduation ceremony, as I think I could fill an entire memoir of Sophorian graduation ceremony memories. Graduation combines many holidays into one grand one: birthday, school graduations, rites of passage, honeymoons, new years, and many other celebrations of the stages of life and death. Sophorian generations (many of us prefer that term, but the universal translator makes it obvious the words generation and class are the same for the Sophorians and that class is their preference) are very tight-knit, due to both a small overall population size and tight population controls.
Our first experience was the graduation from secondary/technical education of a class. The graduates from the Sophorian Academy of Engineering were particularly impressive to us researchers. I'm sure a couple of my engineering buddies would have talked to the Sophorian engineers for days on end, given the opportunity. I myself was impressed that after only a few decades of decoding and studying the Federation the young Sophorians had a seemingly better grasp of the Federation and its politics than some of the professors I could recall from my days in Starfleet Academy. One bright young Sophorian woman even asked for a personal recommendation to Starfleet Academy to further her studies. I hope that the Academy Admissions looks favorably upon that recommendation, regardless of the outcome of my Prime Directive Hearing or Sophorian admission to the Federation...
Sophorian physiology is a fascinating subject in itself. Sophorians are taller than the average hominid in the galaxy; they are tall, lean, and wiry in a way that one might expect from a race adapted to a low gravity moon. Their rubicund pink skin color belies a more complex than average (red-blooded) circulatory system, that is designed (probably by their own ancestors) to work nearly as well in larger gravities. Like Vulcans, Sophorians are generally long-lived and spend much of their lives in study. Sophorian ears are even pointed somewhat like Vulcan ears, and crasser researchers than I have referred to these gentle giants as "pink tree elves".
I feel I need to bring up their physiology here because it connects the first and second events we witnessed graduation week. It was obvious, due to comparatively small to their frames mammalian endowments (which were of course seemed quite big in comparison to those of us from a shorter species) that the Engineering Academy graduates were all female. A few researchers with me remarked on this fact, but we chalked it up to the statistically small sample size (two women engineers out of a 3:4 female to male ratio)... That is, until we witnessed the Rite of Adolescence.
The Rite of Adolescence (this is another interesting thing we learned from the universal translator, that the Sophorians have a surprisingly similar close relationship between the words "right" and "rite") to the Sophorians is the passage between primary and secondary education. It reveals several fascinating aspects of the Sophorians in a very quick manner that we never would have been able to observe from the Center.
Sophorians are born androgynous and are awarded their secondary sexual characteristics during the Rite of Adolescence. (We were lead to believe that primary sexual characteristics are chosen for a mated couple only in the course of the Right of Procreation.) The top half of a class, as determined by a complicated weighted score of recommendation and primary education scores, are awarded "nurturer" status, given female mammalian sexual characteristics and usually offered guaranteed acceptance into the Engineering Academy. (The Rite, and apparently Sophorian culture, connects a lot of symbolism and metaphor to their "nurturer" mythos, believing science and engineering themselves to be deeply "nurturing". I expect entire books to be written on the subject.)
Presuming the typical hominid attraction biases, and we have been given no reason to suspect otherwise, this seems a rather unique way to aim at a reasonable bell-curve in genetic diversity amongst mating couples rather than strictly selecting for a progressively incestuous "best of the best" trap that most eugenics programs typically fall into... Of course that is all supposition on my part and I have no reason to suspect that this system is a part of the species' genetic experiments, nor do I have any information as to the background of these contemporary practices. I certainly am interested in further researching this topic, should I be given that chance.
I've heard some of my fellow researchers call this an unusual caste system, and I do hope to dispel any fear of that amongst the Federation Council, as I know that the Sophorians have already applied for Federation membership and caste systems are forbidden membership, for good reason.
If Starfleet Academy started mandating permanent forehead tattoos upon admission, would that make Starfleet a caste? The use of body characteristics with such deep evolutionary baggage to mammalian hominids certainly makes this a more interesting debate than if just tattoos were involved.
Sophorian "outer" males appear to aspire to any and every position in Sophorian society, everything we saw was the balanced gender mix and equal opportunity we see of most of the Federation, and don't seem to be hampered by their lack of a scholastic "merit badge". The score cutoffs vary from class to class (the Sophorians appearing to try to keep an even split between the outer genders), and there is certainly many opportunities for respect across class lines. I was informed that there were even Rites that allowed for mobility between outer genders.
(On the other hand, it certainly isn't entirely roses. I did hear of a legend regarding a possible historic lower caste. It appeared that some "Old Matrons", as they would say, would sometimes scare young pre-adolescents into studying harder by threatening them that the stupid and evil can be left genderless, possibly for the rest of their lives. If there is a historic basis in this legend, it also sits on a debatable boundary between caste system and penitentiary/reform system.)
The Sophorians are a unique, rich race that has only recently had any interest in the universe beyond their own, very rich and controlled system. I expect that they will bring an interestingly rich, new perspective to the Federation, and I expect great things from them if the Council can see to offer them membership. Of course, I suppose I am biased on that matter, having studied this wonderful people from so many different angles over the years.
Excerpts from the Redactions applied to the Debate Log of the Tellarite Councillor upon the Vote for Membership of the Planet Sophoria Prime --- Classified
...This whole thing is a sham! We all know the President has the power to grant the membership, without involving the Council. But, something is weirdly special about this dumb little moon and the Executive Branch doesn't want that broadcasted, so they hand the decision over to the Council to rubber-stamp the opinion they've already formed! Then they dare to immediately censure my debate, before I've even got started!...
...It's very clear from this report that these aliens are dangerous! Genetic Engineering! Terraforming! How can we trust these "Sophorians"? Do I need to remind every damn person on this Council of Federation Statutes and Eugenics Wars? Better yet, I've got some choice snippets from the logs of Starfleet's own infamous Admiral Kirk we could replay...
...Who is that damn guy? [The esteemed Councillor points a finger at a bland looking human Starfleet crewman wearing no combadge or rank insignia.] I know enough about Starfleet to know it's very weird for a crewman with no rank to command the ears of every Admiral in the room! He certainly doesn't look like our dutifully elected President to me!...
...and another thing! This gender caste thing certainly scares me! Do you want it to happen to your children? Seems to me like it might solve a lot of problems in the Federation! Hah. Forced celibacy? Gender assigned by some standardized test and a cabal of elders? This stupid report doesn't even bother hiding any of this! Is this the future of the galaxy? These genetic engineering--loving aliens probably think it is! These people make the stupid Andorians and their four genders seem almost sensible!...