February 2003


-- Opening
-- News Items
-- Adm Seldon’s Return
-- Capt Britanicus’ Retirement
-- Fleet Awards
-- Genesis Award
-- Mission Summaries
-- Interview with Capt Murchadh
-- Closing


Diligent Fleet Members,

I want to thank everyone that has welcomed me back to the fleet. I am greatly enjoying being part of IDF again.

Less happily, I would like to open the newsletter with a mention of the sad loss of the space shuttle Columbia and her 7 person crew. I think that the best state of affairs would be one in which all people died only of old age after long, productive lives. The worst state of affairs, however, is not the one that the Columbia's loss exemplified people dying in the pursuit of a noble and good calling, but one in which people while they live do nothing bold or great. That is, anyway, the lesson that I have taken from the tragedy after my meager contemplation of it.

This issue of the Independence Fleet Newsletter is dedicated to the 7 men and women of the Columbia's crew. As President Bush said, "The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home."

* * *

Commander Rick Husband
Pilot William McCool
Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla
Mission Specialist David Brown
Payload Commander Michael Anderson
Mission Specialist Laurel Clark
Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon

* * *


- After a three month retirement, VAdm Seldon, played by Jacob, returned to Independence Fleet effective 1 Feb. [See article below].

- Capt. James "Brit" Britanicus resigns as commander of the USS Horatio Nelson [See article below].

- On West's suggestion and after a (very) little work from Seldon, the fleet has launched a message forum. The forum has boards for discussing Fleet Affairs, Star Trek, and Politics along with several ship-specific boards and a general message area. The fleet previously had a forum but it was discontinued due to lack of use. The forum is located at: http://pub31.ezboard.com/bidfleet26531

- The USS Excalibur has passed the 2,000 post mark as of 26 January. RAdm McCloud had the privilege of sending the landmark post and becomes the first CO in fleet history to command so many posts.

- Starbase 10 hit the 1,000 post milestone as of 1 January.

- The USS Patriot reached 1,000 posts on 17 December. Ens. John Majestic sent the post.

- VAdm Seldon is planning a new publication, "The Independence Review," which will be a peer-reviewed and scholarly exploration of different aspects of simming. Tentative plans are for a bi-monthly or quarterly publication. Anyone interested in participating or in forming the editorial board should please contact VAdm Seldon at: seldon11988@yahoo.com

- A new Award, "Outstanding Simmer" is being given out this month.


Through, in part, Adm Star's encouragement, VAdm Seldon, played by Jacob, has returned in an official capacity to Independence Fleet. Seldon had retired at the beginning of November citing diminished interest and lack of time.

Seldon rejoins the fleet as Chief of Development, a new position created to help assist the Commander in Chief and to compliment the Chief of Operations (Adm West, currently). He will also work to advise and assist the Defense Response Force Director, RAdm Dragonetti.

Seldon is not a member of any sim at present but is currently a guest character on the USS Washington. He indicates that he will possibly do other guest roles in the future, should the opportunity come up. He is continuing to work on his "History of Independence Fleet" and hopes to launch the "Independence Review" [see news item in this issue] within the next month.


Sadly, Capt James Britanicus, nicknamed "Brit," the commanding officer of the USS Horatio Nelson is resigning due to lack of sufficient time to sim and command as he would like to.

Brit, played by Chris is real life, first joined Independence Fleet in December of 2001 when he was recruited to the USS Washington by her then-CO Seldon. He simmed on the Washington until April of 2002, posting a total of 54 times and earning numerous ship awards for his excellent posting. Britanicus won the Fleet's Most Improved award for January 2002. Seldon reports that Brit was also a strong presence behing-the-scenes on the Washington, and a very dependable crewmember.

Brit did not leave the W until April 2002 when he was promoted to Captain and given command of what would be the USS Horatio Nelson. He has commanded the Nelson for 11 months during which it has seen 613 posts.

Chris may, at some future point, be able to return to captain the Horatio Nelson further but for now the ship is temporarily under the command of her capable executive officer, Lt Cmdr Sunfeather. There has been one unconfirmed report that VAdm Seldon may join the ship in the near future.

Seldon was unavailable for comment on the last point but has remarked that he is sad to see Britanicus leaving the fleet (even if it does turn out to be temporary). The Horatio Nelson under Brit has had a very solid record and has done excellently in past months. Independence Fleet will miss Brit and extends an invitation for him to return, if he sees fit to do so.


- Best Story Post: Lt. J'Dem, CRO, USS Horatio Nelson, Post #576.
J'Dem pulls in the Horatio Nelson's second all-time fleet award with his excellent writing. J'Dem's mastery of prose is well known to all on the HN. He previously shared the fleet award for Best Character Post a few months back. A top-notch writer -- this post is just one example of his un-paralleled work.

- Best Character Post: Lt. Cmdr. Zingela, XO, USS Washington, Post #2171.
Mr. Zingela brings home the gold again with his post. This is probably the most different post to ever win the award. We actually get to go inside the head of Zingela as he thinks. After reading the post, I have to wonder, does he suffer from multiple personality disorder?

- Funniest Post: Ens. Ivan A. Testacool, AEO, USS Washington, Post #2189.
This is one funny Testacool. Testacool joined the W in early January and immediately made an impact. He jumped right into the storyline, utilizing other characters and events masterfully. His off key humor can be seen in nearly all of his posts. Mr. Testacool is just one funny guy.

- Most Posts: Lt. Cmdr. Kiara Rodale, CCO, USS Conqueror, 77 posts.
In the Conqueror's first month in action, Rodale helped propel her to the be the fleet's most prolific ship for January. Not only had Rodale been posting a lot, but she's been a leader on her ship, encouraging people in their posting and guiding the story with inventive plot twists. A great team player.

- Rookie of the Month: Lt. J.G. Jason Carter, CTO, Starbase 10.
Carter joined halfway through the month but still found enough time to pump out 19 posts! He just goes to show you that you don't have to have any experience to jump right in and contribute. It just takes drive, a little creativity, and desire to have fun. Carter did that and helped fill a void at the starbase created by some leaving crewmembers. A great find.

- Most Improved: Lt. Cmdr. Orion Tucker, CRO, USS Patriot.
Mr. Tucker improved about as much as one could improve from one month to another. He was almost fired last month for not posting at all. He basically did nothing. He went from that to writing 24 posts during January and being the Patriot's MVP. When he wants to turn it on, Tucker certainly can. The Patriot is counting on him to continue his excellent work.

- Recruitment: Cmdr. Entera Danae, XO, USS Minerva.
Danae was able to recruit two new people to simming and the Minerva. Her efforts to find new people paid off. Not only did she recruit them, but she helped guide them as their simming careers began. Danae showed them how to post and got them involved in the story. A truly complete task.

- MVP: Cmdr. Entera Danae, XO, USS Minerva.
If anyone deserved the MVP award this month, it ws Entera Danae. She did everything from posting a lot, to getting new people involved in the story, to recruiting, to solving disputes on her ship. She literally did it all. A great simmer, definitely someone you would want on your team. The Minerva's luck to have her to build on for the future.

- Outstanding Simmer: Lt. John Murdock, WS, USS Washington.
John Murdock wins the first ever Outstanding Simmer Award and his first ever fleet award. John Murdock was one great simmer during January. He posted 16 times, spread out consistently over the course of the month. His plot twists got others involved and he kept the story going even when things slowed down on the W. Knows how to flow the simming mojo.

- The Admiralty wishes to thank Capt. Griffith of the Liberty for assisting with the Awards this month.


So here I sit, waiting for new albums from Linkin Park, the Backstreet Boys, and Celine Dion (all supposed to be out in the next couple months), and I'm really disgusted with radio in general. They skipped over part of the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 on the local station (which means that the new Celine Dion song has been skipped - censorship, I tell you!), and I had a hard time finding a live stream on-line that would allow me to listen to a John Tesh radio program I wanted to listen to. This is why I throw my support behind mp3s.

I also think that the groundhog stole February 2nd from Balto, who truly deserves a day dedicated to him. But I'll save that for another time.

Before I get to this month's Genesis Award, I want to send out much more thanks than I possibly can to the two IDFleet crewmen who decided on last month's Genesis Award.

Thank you, Captain Jeremiah Griffith and Rear-Admiral Steven McCloud. Thank you multiplied by a million.

And thanks this month go to Commander Henry "Hank" Logan of the USS Patriot and Lt. (jg) Nniol N'Var of the USS Horatio Nelson for their help in voting this month's winners. In fact, this month, I didn't even have to do anything. Thanks, you two!

The winner, voted pretty unanimously, was Post #1811 on the Excalibur, written by none other than Rear-Admiral Steven McCloud. Not only did he bail me out last month, when I was unable to do the Genesis Award, but he is this month's winner.

The post is like the beginning of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Those who don't know anything about the characters will understand it, and it draws your attention. Of the four posts nominated this month, it's the only one that makes me want to read the rest of the mission before I deal with the award itself!


The Genesis Award runner-up this month is the USS Liberty's Post #468, written by Lt. Cmdr. Wil Parks. The post is long and well written, with more than its share of unexpected turns. Imagine what the rest of the mission must be like . . .


I'm signing off this week to background humming instead of music. The radio station has now stopped working at all, and I must find something lying around the room to listen to. Maybe some Cyndi Lauper or Enya.... oh, good. The idiots at the radio station realized they were broadcasting nothing, and put the Weekly Top 40 back on.

Good luck to everyone over the next month, and happy simming!

Lt. Cmdr. Zingela (listening to Craig David's latest!)
XO & Science Officer
USS Washington NCC-11988


- USS Goliad, submitted by Capt. Edwards

The crew of the USS Goliad has just completed its current mission in the 21st Century. Three former Section 31 agents, Eric Nordenstrum, Diana Simmons, and James Bileau have traveled back in time and changed Earth's past. Instead of a planet recovering from the Eugenics War, the crew of the Goliad found a much different time. (Basically, our real life present) They learn that they must destroy this alternative timeline or face conquest by the Klingon Empire. So, much to the dismay of Captain Edwards, he and his crew must help bring about two of Earth's bloodiest wars.

- USS Conqueror, submitted by Capt K'lar, mission idea from Lt Cmdr Rodale

While at Starbase 10, the USS Conqueror receives a request from Starfleet to investigate reports of contraband weapons trading by Ferrengi at Starbase 12. The Conqueror responds and, during the course of the investigation, they tick off a Ferengi trader by costing him considerable profit. Before the Conqueror can leave, he’s back to make trouble for the crew on the base and attempts theft from the ship. While daddy (Daemon Rakt) is out trying to turn his bad luck into profit and getting back at the Conqueror, Mog is just running around unsupervised and pulling pranks. In addition, as Rakt is taking something from the crew to try and smuggle off the base, he is also adding something bad to the base, Huge 2 ft spiders from planet X (whatever) that they have to kill. The last few are saved, and a remberence of an old trick, played on the Klingons, by James Kirk, causes the remaining spiders to find their way back aboard the Acquistioner.

- USS Excalibur, submitted by RAdm McCloud

The Excalibur is sent to Mudor V to report on a new power source. The scientists on Mudor V say that if this source can be adapted to Federation technology, it may be possible to reach speeds in excess of warp 10. As the Excalibur nears the planet, they encounter triolic waves and quantum filaments. There is no response from the planet and for twenty minutes 57 crewmen disappeared from the ship. Now, what started out as a simple mission to report on some new technology has turned into a possibly deadly mystery.

- USS Patriot, submitted by RAdm Dragonetti

The Patriot was on its way out of orbit from a Starbase when Q suddenly appeared and informed the ship of a wedding taking place on Cardassia that was in danger of being sabotaged due to an assassination on Valentine's Day. The Patriot is on its way to investigate after receiving permission to do so when they themselves are harmed with an LMD (Life Model Decoy) and learn some disturbing things about the "Q" involved, and the supposed wedding.

-- INTERVIEW with Capt. Murchadh

INTERVIEWER: We're here with Captain Audra Murchadh of the USS Sunfire this evening. Captain, thank you for sitting down to speak with us tonight, how are you doing?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: I'm doing great.

INTERVIEWER: That's excellent. Now Captain, I want to just get to the point here and talk about the Sunfire itself. The USS Sunfire has had a long and colorful history dating back nearly 3 years. Although it may not necessarily be the most postous and active ship, it very well may be the most famous of all IDF ships, and has even been referred to as the "mothership" of IDF. How long have you been with the Sunfire?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Oh, I don't remember exactly off the top of my head. I think its been nearly two and a half years. I joined the Sunfire sometime in the summer of 2000 I think, though I'm not entirely certain without referencing the older archives.

INTERVIEWER: Wow, that's a pretty long time. I guess it paid off though, because now the Sunfire is all yours! How did you first find out about the Sunfire, and how did you obtain a position on board?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: I found out through Admiral Star, who was then the CMO at that time, I believe. He just happened to email me, most likely on a recruiting spree. I looked at the ship and some months later finally decided to join by e-mailing Star who was then the XO. I obtained my position as Chief CONN Officer through simple application for the job.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me, what kind of changes have taken place on the Sunfire since you first joined...or rather, what kind of phases has the Sunfire experienced in your history with it; good phases, bad phases?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Hmm, that's a difficult question to answer. I'm not sure what is intended by the term "phase." During my previous tour with the Sunfire, before I became the Commanding Officer, several "monumental" events took place in the history of not only the Sunfire but Independence Fleet. I was not part of the Sunfire's original crew, however, I had been with the Sunfire nearly a year before IDF was created. So in a sense I am part of an original crew, before the creation of Independence Fleet. With the creation if IDF (a phase I suppose) the "original" crew of the Sunfire was split up to accommodate other new ships. I remained on the Sunfire with Admiral West as first officer. The Sunfire quickly regained its numbers after the split and lead, what I believe, was a good RPG career. The crew was loyal, creative, and active for the most part, and the missions maintained a good amount of interest. However once the disagreements between the IDF Admiralty took place, the Sunfire left IDF and took a slight plunge in activity and crew numbers. I was part of the Sunfire up until a month or two after the IDF split up. I took sometime off from the ship, and a month or so later, rejoined (as a different character). So, I suppose I've been through good and bad "phases" as you call them, as the Sunfire experienced productive times and those that lacked activities.

INTERVIEWER: Recently the Sunfire made it's triumphant comeback to the fleet. Are you pleased with the Sunfire's return to IDF? Do you think it was a good decision?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: I can't say I'm displeased. However in all honestly, I'm indifferent to the whole situation. It hasn't yet hurt the Sunfire, however I don't think it has improved it either. That power, I'm afraid, lies in the hands of her crew and their desired level of participation. Though the Sunfire has joined IDF, I believe she still faces the same problem she was faced with on her own. I have yet to find a solid solution for this mystery. But this aside, it is nice to be among friends again in an association like IDF.

INTERVIEWER: I understand that the storyline of the Sunfire had to change dramatically for the return to the fleet. Can you explain?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Well, after the Sunfire left IDF, she experienced several lapses in involvement. Crew member numbers and post numbers dropped significantly about four or five months after the fleet split. In an effort to revamp and "fix" the Sunfire, Captain West destroyed the Sunfire and created the Sunfire-A, placing the ship in a new setting with the hope of attracting interest. The setting for the new Sunfire was the year 2405, several years beyond IDF. When the Sunfire returned to IDF not only did they have to travel backwards in the timeline to 2379, but change from 3001-A to 3001-B. The explanation for the time change involved the Sunfire in a temporal accident and subsequent orders from Admiral Star for the crew to remain in 2379 to protect the time line from further contamination.

INTERVIEWER: Were there any negative feelings expressed by the general crew about the comeback?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: No. Most of the crew members on the Sunfire at that time had not been associated with IDF before. I believe their reaction to the return was similar to mine. Indifferent.

INTERVIEWER: What about the storyline change? Any negative feelings toward that?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Several characters expressed anything from anger to disappointment that they would not be allowed to return to 2405. But out of character, I have not heard of any complaints with regard to the change.

INTERVIEWER: Have you added any new and fun features which may be exclusive to the Sunfire since Admiral West gave up command of the vessel to you, one of his most trusted officers and colleagues?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: *blush ... most trusted* Actually, yes. I made several changes to the posting format used on the Sunfire. "Story" posts now contain a header that indicates the timeframe for the post. I.E., when that scene happens in Sunfire time, year 2379. If that made sense. It helps to give a sense for the passage of time, how long each "episode" on the Sunfire takes. I think it adds some depth. Also we added a yahoogroup solely for the use of logs. They are considered posts on the Sunfire, but contain only character duty and personal logs. These logs also contain dates. Among these changes, a minimum requirement for posts from each officer has been set depending on their duties with the Sunfire. Also, department heads have been given duties within their own departments, including recruiting and assigning positions. We also have policies involving LOAs and court martial, which the IDF does not.

INTERVIEWER: Court martial? Sounds very interesting. Can you elaborate?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Yes. I wanted to give room for possible court marshal in our storyline, however I wanted to ensure that they wouldn't last too long or become disorganized. Also, the same policies for military court apply out of character on the Sunfire, in case some matter arises that would require such action on an out of character basis. The policies outline who is eligible for jury and judge in certain situations, and protects those characters/role players who are on LOA from possible trial without their presence. That's a very basic summary, however.

INTERVIEWER: Well, the Sunfire seems to be doing great. I'd now like to talk a little bit about you. Would you mind telling us your real name?


INTERVIEWER: That's a very nice name. Where are you located, and what is a usual day like in your life?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: I'm in San Diego County, California. A usual day consists of school and police cadet work. I'm taking roughly 17-18 credit hours in college and just applied for a dispatching position with my college police department. I guess you could say I'm very busy.

INTERVIEWER: Sounds like it. So you want to be a police officer in the near future?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Definitely. I plan on applying to several of my local police departments near the end of spring.

INTERVIEWER: That's very, very cool. Do you have any other hobbies besides simming?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Well, singing, dancing, acting, composing music, graphic editing, reading, writing (outside of sims), driving (I love to drive), HTML programming, playing the piano, orchestrating music on my computer ... that's all I can think of at the moment.

INTERVIEWER: Wow. That's a lot of cool stuff, I bet you're never bored. Tell me, what kinds of missions do you enjoying writing about the most?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: LOL Trust me, I can still get bored ... But that aside ... I enjoy a variety of missions or episodes; anything from a mystery to violent battle scenes to intricate character development. I'm actually experimenting with a type of episode that will give each member of the Sunfire the chance to shine in the limelight. In a manner of speaking, an episode that is revolved mostly around the development of a single character. It's been a little bumpy, but I think it has potential to be quite interesting.

INTERVIEWER: That idea for the Sunfire sounds like an excellent one to me, I wouldn't be surprised if a few other ships pick it up to test it out. Let me ask you this. Where did you get the character name Audra Murchadh?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: I've always been interested in etymology. In simple terms it is the study of languages and their transformation through time. Part of etymology as I understand it is the study of names and their origins and meanings. Every one of my characters has a name that symbolizes their personality or a specific trait. Audra is Lithuanian for "storm." And Murchadh is Gaelic for "sea warrior." By naming Murchadh that I wanted to signify that her personality is a storm, or ferocious and sometimes intimidating--though not angry. And that she is a warrior of sorts, or determined and brave and loyal ... only befitting for space that it be a "sea" warrior. There is more symbolism to it than that, but I'll not bore you with it.

INTERVIEWER: Awesome. How much different or alike are you, Hannah, to Murchadh...or any of your other characters?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: I'm not sure I could truly measure the similarity or difference between myself and Murchadh; or even my other characters for that matter. Sometimes it varies from day to day, and of course, a writer can never completely disconnect themselves from their creations as I see it. Every character I have, possesses some small part of me. If forced to compare myself to Murchadh I would have to say that she has more "guts" beyond professional surroundings than myself. And she has difficulty with the same tension I commonly feel in similar situations. I tend to be a shy person out of uniform.

INTERVIEWER: Unfortunately we're getting short on time so I'll go ahead and finish up with this question. Where do you see the Sunfire and the fleet in 6 months?

CAPTAIN MURCHADH: Well, like any commanding officer, I hope to see it improve. Not necessarily increase in the total number of posts, but instead improve in character development, post quality, and the ability to create realistic, captivating stories. I hope to see the Sunfire become a ship of strong interest to any reader--have the audience (and crew) sitting on the edge of their seats for the next episode. And above all, I hope that the Sunfire continues to be enjoyable.

INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Captain, for sitting down with us this evening. It was a pleasure speaking with you and I wish you luck with the Sunfire and your personal endeavors.



Well, in closing, let me just say that it is snowing heavily here in the great state of Maryland (though not so much here in the provincial portions). Classes have already been cancelled for tomorrow in anticipation of more snow through Sunday night so, hopefully, that'll give me a chance to catch up on some readings I need to do.

Until next month... I'll see you on the fleet forum: http://pub31.ezboard.com/bidfleet26531

VAdm Robert Seldon
Chief of Fleet Development