Author’s Commentary: Eternal Midnight

One of the aspects of Full Speed Ahead that I worked really hard to illustrate, was the relationship between the officers and enlisted aboard Farragut.  We got to see this more often than not in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, however, I always felt that Chief O’Brien was a de facto commissioned officer, from the way he constantly treated them like inferior ranks, when he should have been giving them the proper respect in address or delegation.  Also, for a space station, having a non-comm as a senior officer was incredibly unusual.  Not that I hate the character of Chief O’Brien; far from it, in fact.  I just felt that perhaps he was overreaching in authority, which caused a lot of confusion (to me) in how the ranking system worked within Starfleet.  Too many times on the TV screen, we see a lot of compromising tradition in favor of telling a story, whereas I’ve always felt that a strict adherence to an established philosophy/methodology is paramount (no pun intended) when attempting to tell a military-based story like Star Trek.

In “Eternal Midnight,” we get to meet Senior Chief Petty Officer Tallan, an Andorian engineer who works under Lieutenant Bartlet.  He’s paired with Ensign O’Day, who is considered to be a wet-behind-the-ears rookie officer to Tallan.  You might read the teaser and come back to me and say, “Well, shit, Michael, you have a Senior Chief talking down to an Ensign, when the Ensign technically outranks him.”  And I’ll respond, “No chief in the contemporary Navy or Coast Guard would let an Ensign tell him to do anything.  Traditionally, Chiefs have more experience and by that nature, an ensign would defer to his expertise.  At least.. a /smart/ ensign would.  There are dumbshit butter-bars who will act like a candy-assed officer and assert authority, but they’ll soon find themselves looking like a complete idiot sooner or later.”  I think we can safely say that Tommy is a smart ensign who will listen to the voice of experience, even though it might come off like a growl.  Tallan, deep down, takes a liking to people who demonstrate intelligence and a willingness to learn from him.

Meanwhile, Tricia’s intentions become underscored during this episode, but I wanted to get back to the Kincaid plotline.  Kincaid’s dealing with the very real possibility that he may have sunk his career by transferring to Farragut.  On top of that, Isira is further dealing with an XO who’s been shell-shocked by Leone’s reputation and command style, not to mention his run-in with Ariel in the previous episode.  A lot is happening to our poor boy, and he’s seriously considering a transfer to another ship.  Of course, he won’t, but you’ll find out after reading.

Where did the name ‘Lydia’ come from?  I borrowed it from the Hornblower novels.  The HMS Lydia was one of the many ships that Horatio Hornblower commanded in his long career with the Royal Navy.  I had previously toyed with a number of other names like Garrovick (which was used as a shuttlecraft, instead) and Serendipity (too close to Serenity from Firefly), before deciding to pay homage to one of my favorite book series.  Of course, a lot of people tend to draw parallels between the original Star Trek and Hornblower, but for me, were I to draw a parallel, I think I would point to Dewey Lambdin‘s Alan Lewrie series of naval adventures than I would Forester’s works.  The scene on Lydia also gave me a chance to introduce Odessa McComas into the FSA family.  Odessa made her debut in one of my Quarterdeck Breed shorts, “Dallas,” where she is a petty officer during the war.  Here, she’s a crewman apprentice, looking to strike for engineering.  To strike means you’re declaring your profession within Starfleet and you’re given various opportunities to prove yourself within the department before being allowed to test for petty officer.  She’s young and has a dry sense of humor, mostly because she’s not 100% sure of her footing and lacks the self-confidence we get to see in “Dallas” later in her career.  I’m hoping to continue to write more material for her and the other ‘recurring cast’ as the series progresses.

As for poor Tommy… well, let me assure you… this is not the last we’ve seen of him.

Originally written at the United Trek Forums.