Emilia Balan had an atypical upbringing for a Starfleet officer. Her father a composer and her mother an acclaimed opera singer, Emilia spent her early years traveling to cultural centers across the Federation and beyond. She watched her mom perform everywhere from Teatro alla Scala to the Kasselian opera house near Organia to the Great Hall on Qo’noS, and, in the off-season, they’d visit planets far and wide as her father sought inspiration for his future works.
When she reached her teenage years, Emilia’s parents grew worried that she was falling behind in her studies on account of all their travel. Consequently, they made the decision for her and her father to return to Earth so they could enroll her in a prestigious liberal arts school. Located in Surrey, the school provided Emilia with the requisite studies, but nothing more. She found herself mind-numbingly bored by her all human classmates, the subject matter and the British countryside. All week, she’d count down the days until the weekend when she could head to San Francisco, Paris, New Orleans and elsewhere to traipse around the alien quarters. There, she’d make friends, learn their languages and customs, listen to their stories, and dream of one day seeing for herself the places they described.
When Emilia graduated high school, her options were limited. She lacked the voice of her mother and the muse of her father, and she had not received particularly stellar marks in Surrey. However, one evening while eating at her favorite Ktarian restaurant, she shared her plight with the owner, a Ktarian man she’d befriended over the years whose wife served as a Captain in Starfleet. He asked her why she didn’t just go to Starfleet Academy. Emilia paused. She’d never considered that option before. He suggested she come back the next night when his wife was off work so they could talk more. After that conversation, Emilia was sold. The Ktarian Captain, along with a Bolian senior chief whose band she occasionally jammed out with in the Parisian old quarter, both wrote her recommendations, and to the surprise of both Emilia and her parents, she was accepted to Starfleet Academy.
For Cadet Balan, Starfleet Academy was a hard awakening. She struggled with the fitness and discipline Starfleet expected of its recruits, crumbled under the high pressure environments of her command, security and piloting courses, and barely scraped by in her engineering and operations courses. But what drew Emilia to Starfleet was also what kept her afloat at the Academy: the rich diversity of its student population and the wide range of alien species they learned about out in the stars beyond. She dove into all the Academy had to offer in terms of social studies, eventually selecting anthropology as her focus with a minor in counseling psychology.
Emilia graduated Starfleet Academy in 2391. She had excellent marks in social studies, but the rest of her grades were mediocre at best. She was not considered qualified for any of the typical premier postings such as high tech deep space explorers or front line defensive patrol ships. Instead, Ensign Balan was offered and accepted an anthropologist position about the USS Yoju, an aging Excelsior-class support ship conducting historical research on Federation member worlds. For many budding young officers, it would have been a devastating assignment, but Emilia could not have been happier. Aboard the Yoju, she toured the ruins of ancient Vulcan monasteries, studied the evolution of the Kasheeta, and visited the Zaranite homeworld, among countless other adventures.
Ensign Balan’s defining moment aboard the Yoju came when they were dispatched as part of the first cultural exchange between the Tzenkethi and the Federation. While many in Starflet thought it a fruitless gesture, and many of her shipmates were just plain terrified for their lives, Ensign Balan was not among them. She’d seen the beauty of so many cultures, and she was convinced that the Tzenkethi could be no different.
For two weeks, the Yoju’s away teams took trips down to the surface for curated tours of the Tzenkethi homeworld, but each day, when the rest of the away team returned to the ship, Ensign Balan would stay behind. In the words of her Commanding Officer: “At first, I feared for her safety, but Ensign Balan challenged me on it. We were guests of the Tzenkethi, and how could we ever move past our differences if we could not trust each other?” As Ensign Balan wandered the streets, stayed in local hotels, and listened to the people she met, she encountered the damage that decades of war and propaganda could do to a civilization. The resentment and distrust from everyone she met was overwhelming, but for two weeks, she kept at it. Beneath the ordered, militant, xenophobic, hierarchical culture of the Tzenkethi, she discovered art galleries full of hopeful pieces from before they took to the stars, dined with skeptical chefs who couldn’t believe a human could enjoy their cooking, and enjoyed amateur music and theater in town squares beyond the metrpolises of the Tzenkethi military-industrial complex. When she returned, she brought back tales of a people with a rich culture who had not lost it even through decades of hardship. “All the while,” wrote her Commanding Officer, “Ensign Balan carried herself with grace and cultural sensitivity. Whether she changed hearts and minds, I cannot say, but what she brought back was a treasure trove completely unique from any other member of our team.”
Ensign Balan’s time aboard the Yoju would not be long. The aging Excelsior was on its last legs even before she’d come aboard, and it was ordered decommissioned in 2393. Due to her background aboard the Yoju, Ensign Balan was assigned to Outpost 19, a small station on the border of Ferengi and Tzenkethi space. While administered by Starfleet, Outpost 19 more of a trading post than anything else, and it gave Balan ample opportunities to learn from the species that frequented it. Outpost 19 was also severely understaffed. Soon after she arrived, the Commanding Officer of the outpost asked her, because of her minor in counseling psychology, to mediate a dispute between a group of Ferengi and Tellarite traders. While not exactly the anthropologist role she’d signed on for, her calm, empathetic demeanor and cultural sensitivity made her perfect for the job. Soon after that dispute was resolved, the Commanding Officer sent her another and then another. Balan quickly became the de facto mediator for all disputes that found their way to Outpost 19, of which there were aplenty. Her work as an anthropologist took a back seat. In recognition of this, she was given a dual appointment formally acknowledging her role as the staff Mediator.
In 2395, a border conflict broke out between Starfleet and the Tzenkethi. For a brief period of time, Outpost 19 went from backwater to the center of a major interstellar event. Starfleet used it as a base of operations during the conflict and then as the site of a diplomatic summit to end the conflict. While Ensign Balan stayed as far from the shooting as she could, when the time came for negotiations, her Commanding Officer assigned her to the team. Working alongside members of the Federation Diplomatic Corps, Starfleet Intelligence and Starfleet Command, Lieutenant J.G. Balan shared her observations about the Tzenkethi, their cultures, and their values, and she helped guide the team’s approach to the negotiations. Her observations stood in sharp contrast to the general prevailing views of the Tzenkethi, and ultimately helped Starfleet achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
A month after the Tzenkethi conflict, Ensign Balan was approached with a job offer. Her success in the negotiations had not gone unnoticed, and Starfleet Intelligence wanted her to return to Earth as a Cultural Affairs Analyst supporting diplomatic work at Starfleet Command and Palais de la Concordia. While Ensign Balan had never envisioned herself a diplomat or intelligence officer, she accepted the offer, and with it, a promotion to Lieutenant J.G.
Lieutenant J.G. Balan’s appointment to Starfleet Intelligence presented new challenges for the young officer. She had to merge her natural gifts with the art of diplomacy and the tradecraft of intelligence. Her greatest challenge stemmed from one of her core strengths: empathy. Advising diplomats on their interactions with foreign powers was a far cry from serving as a neutral mediator for trade disputes. Rather than the use of empathy to help two parties reach common ground, she had to channel it as a tool to advise Federation diplomats on a course to yield outcomes in their favor. To her, this felt a bit duplicitous at first, but in time, she came to enjoy the challenge – as long as she did not feel the other party was unfairly treated by the outcome.
While Balan interacted with a whole host of alien species, after a couple years on Earth, she longed to return to the stars. She missed the great halls of alien civilizations and the opportunity to visit far off places rarely frequented by the Federation. In her time on Earth, she’d read reports from frontier captains who’d struggled in first contact situations, and she found herself wishing to be out there alongside them, engendering mutual understanding and a better ultimate outcome than the military-minded commanders often achieved. Her superiors recognized that Balan would be valuable out on the frontier, and thus, in 2396, Lieutenant J.G. Balan was enrolled in the Intelligence Field Trainee program to qualify her for field assignments.
The Intelligence Field Trainee program did not come easy for Lieutenant J.G. Balan. She’d almost flunked several security and tactical courses during her time at Starfleet Academy, and the intelligence training program doubled down on these disciplines as it sought to prepare a trainee for frontier duty as an intelligence officer. A particular telling review from one of her instructors read: “Lieutenant J.G. Balan absorbs and integrates naturally into any environment. Whether part of a welcoming delegation, an away team, or an infiltration operation, her attention to subtle details allows her to blend as a natural part of any situation. However, Lieutenant J.G. Balan struggles to adapt to situations that turn from covert to overt, and her optimism that the better angels of those around her will prevail is a tendency she will have to reel in if she wishes to be successful in the field.” Ultimately, Lieutenant J.G. Balan’s talents with alien cultures carried her through the program even with her continued tactical inadequacies.
Following the completion of the Intelligence Field Trainee program, Lieutenant J.G. Balan was assigned to the Federation consulate on Deep Space 38 in the Barzan system. Two years prior, Starfleet Science had stabilized the Barzan wormhole with a fixed verteron array. This provided a stable connection to the far reaches of the Delta Quadrant and dramatically increased the importance of the Federation’s presence in the system. During her two years on Deep Space 38, Lieutenant J.G. Balan participated in and advised on the negotiations that saw the Barzans transition from Protectorate to full Member in the Federation. In addition, Lieutenant J.G. Balan was attached to several exploratory missions into the Nacene Reach and the Gradin Belt, giving her an opportunity to truly travel into the unknown. The Commanding Officers of these expeditions reviewed her performance favorably, noting in several cases how she’d covered their blind spots in situations where they’d found themselves out of water with strange alien customs and traditions.
In 2399, as the Barzans became a formal member of the Federation and Deep Space 38 was replaced by Starbase 38, the Fourth Fleet began the Osiris Initiative to once again expand its interstellar presence. Based on her cross-functional successes in cultural affairs, diplomacy and intelligence, coupled with her deep familiarity with the frontier, led her to be shortlisted and eventually selected to serve aboard the USS Polaris. Lieutenant J.G. Balan accepted the offer, and with it, the promotion to full Lieutenant.
Character Service Record
|2399 - Present||Cultural Affairs Officer||USS Polaris||
|2397 - 2399||Intelligence Officer||Deep Space 38||
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|2396 - 2397||Intelligence Field Trainee||Starfleet Intelligence||
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|2395 - 2396||Cultural Analyst||Starfleet Intelligence||
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|2393 - 2395||
|2391 - 2393||Anthropologist||USS Yoju||
Lieutenant Balan is an intelligence and cultural affairs officer attached to the USS Polaris. With a background in frontier space, strong empathic abilities, and a knack for alien cultures, she supports the Polaris' mission of exploration, helping the crew navigate interactions with alien species as they travel through unknown territory, engage in first contact, and visit strange alien worlds.