Captain Lancaster has built an impressive career from being able to execute orders with precision and efficiency. He is a consummate master of bridge operations and Starfleet protocol, and his instinct is to demand similar perfection from his subordinates rather than to allow for flexibility or innovation. While his time as a first officer has mellowed his innate acerbic nature somewhat, he is still learning what it means to be an effective and inspiring leader.
Above average in height, build, and looks, Captain Lancaster’s most distinguishing feature is the deep blue color of his eyes. At 183 centimeters tall and weighing 80 kilograms, he has an athletic build. Historically, he’d been a little underweight for his height because of his habit to skip meals, but he’s generally settled into a healthy regime of nutrition and exercise to maintain his current weight. He keeps his dark brown hair short, and it seems to have a supernatural ability to look good in all circumstances, regardless of wind, sweat, or grime. Typically, Lancaster wears a duty uniform in almost every circumstance, other than working out. He’s also very at home in a dress uniform at formal functions. He does not normally take advantage of the alternative, more casual uniforms available to captains. (Avatar: Chace Crawford)
Lancaster is brilliant; the product of the best education available to anyone in the Federation plus an innately high level of intelligence makes him quick-thinking, adroit, and highly skeptical. He, therefore, finds it difficult to engage with anyone who is not on his level, and he’s quick to offer ‘corrections’ when someone slips up, especially a subordinate. If he had a religion, it would be Starfleet regulations; he wants things done exactly according to the book at all times and will brook no dissent. While his time as a first officer has mellowed him some, he has an acerbic tongue and is entirely unconcerned with the feelings of others when he’s on the bridge. What he is not, though, is unfair, and he trusts his subordinates up until the point he can’t.
Though driven and ambitious, Lancaster is happiest in his quarters with his husband. He has some close friends and has developed a strong working relationship with Admiral Hayden after serving for almost a decade under her, but Luca Sheppard is the most important person in the world to Lancaster. He’s protective of him and cherishes the private time they get. One of the reasons he was hesitant to take command is because he wasn’t willing to compromise the relationship he’d built with his husband, so he takes pains to make sure that they get enough time together.
Early Life (2364-2382)
Michael Lancaster was born on Earth in the cosmopolitan city of Seattle in 2364, the only child of two academics working at the nearby University of Washington. His mother was a music historian and his father was an art historian, which meant many trips as a young child to museums, the symphony, and the opera–along with many pop quizzes on the great works of Earth’s cultural heritage that he was being exposed to. This gave him a serious and introverted nature that would follow him for the rest of his life, not to mention an almost physiological need to be correct all of the time. From the moment he learned to speak, he was expected to strive for perfection, with the hope that he would one day follow in his parents’ footsteps to become an academic. Whether by nature or through his highly-structured early childhood, he became something of a wunderkind by the time he entered primary school, being conversant in French and already two years into piano lessons.
When he was eight, a Borg cube nearly managed to break through Starfleet’s defenses to attack Earth, but he was largely shielded from that news coverage by his parents. Two years later, the Breen successfully attacked numerous sites on Earth, including San Francisco which was less than a thousand miles from his home in Seattle, and that’s when his first hints that Earth may not be the untouchable sanctuary it appeared to be. In school, he started to become more interested in science and mathematics, fields his parents hadn’t already drilled him in, something that became, even more, a part of his focus when the starship Voyager returned to Earth in 2378. He voraciously consumed all of the materials being released about that starship’s journey, and even following his admission to Seattle’s Magnate Classical Academy, he became more and more interested in technology as a teenager.
Even for the Federation’s rigorous educational system, Lancaster was held to extremely high standards by his parents, being expected to get top grades in every single thing he did. When he entered high school, he joined the track and field team and ran every day before and after school as a way of burning off some of the stress from such a structured, disciplined childhood. An added source of stress was his struggles with his sexuality, not in the sense that he feared non-acceptance but that he had so little experience socializing with people his own age that he had absolutely no idea how to try to date and wasn’t sure what his feelings meant. He began developing a tendency towards being a know-it-all, internalizing many of the external expectations being placed upon him until he was pushing himself even harder than his parents and teachers were.
When it became time to think about college, Lancaster’s parents were pushing him towards schools like Oxford or Harvard, where they themselves attended, but he was becoming more and more convinced that he didn’t want to follow in their footsteps. What really convinced him, though, was a field trip to Earth Spacedock on First Contact Day in 2382, his first trip into space. He was fascinated by the massive space station and the Starfleet ships that were docked there, but more than that seeing Earth from orbit for the first time made him realize how small and fragile it really was. While he couldn’t quite articulate it at the time, he wanted to be part of something larger, rather than being stuck on the same planet forever.
Education and Early Career
Starfleet Academy (2382-2386)
It took Lancaster months of persuading to get his parents to even let him take the Starfleet Academy entrance exam, but once he did he passed with flying colors. He entered Starfleet Academy in 2382 as part of the class of 2386, deciding to major in both astrophysics and engineering. In some ways, the academy was very much like the structured, regimented life he had been used to growing up in Seattle, but he was unable to isolate himself the way that he had been able to in school–with all of the leadership training and other exercises, he was forced to learn how to function in a group. One of the ways he learned to cope with this was by embracing Starfleet’s rules and regulations, becoming preternaturally well-versed in them by the end of his first semester. This frequently became a source of acrimony between him and other cadets, as he never hesitated in reporting his comrades for even minor violations of the rules. Unexpectedly (at least for him–he’d never expected it to work out like this), he became close friends with his roommate, Jack van Dorland, who was also studying engineering. Van Dorland was also relatively reserved, but was able to fit into social situations much better than Lancaster was, and he often served as a bridge to help Lancaster make friends, and they have remained friends since then, with van Dorland now serving under Lancaster on the Arcturus.
At the beginning of his second year at Starfleet Academy, Lancaster and van Dorland were admitted to the prestigious Gold Squadron, an elite training unit for cadets in engineering and operations. As part of this program, they took special coursework and received additional field training. Part of this included regular trips to McKinely Station, where the cadets participated in the routine refitting and repairs to visiting starships. During these visits, he developed a romantic relationship with one of the officers stationed there, Lieutenant Taylor Hill, a Canadian man nearly ten years his senior. Though he was immediately enamored, the relationship was short-lived given their vast differences in experience, but it did make him feel a little less socially stunted to finally move past that milestone in life.
On First Contact Day in 2385, Utopia Planitia was attacked by rogue synths when Lancaster was aboard McKinley Station over Earth. He and the rest of Gold Squadron were immediately pressed into service to crew the USS Athabasca, a New Orleans-class ship just out of its mid-lifetime refit. Lancaster was field promoted to Acting Ensign and was assigned to one of the transporter rooms, as it rushed towards Mars to begin emergency evacuation efforts. The devastation was nearly complete, but the Athabasca did manage to rescue the crew of one of the outlying space stations. Lancaster continued to serve on this ship through the end of Summer 2385 as it participated in ongoing search, rescue, recovery, and salvage operations in the aftermath of the disaster.
Though he had already served on an active vessel for over four months, Lancaster was still required to complete their cadet training cruise. The third-year cadets of Gold Squadron were posted to the USS Montgomery Scott, a vessel assigned to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. He was selected as the Cadet Chief Operations Officer, given his excellent academic record and knowledge of Starfleet regulations. In many ways, he was the perfect candidate for such a role, as it combined the skills needed for an engineer and a scientist on the bridge, while also putting him in charge of resource allocation and making sure that other departments were following the appropriate regulations. He saw efficiency as his primary responsibility and quickly developed a reputation for the ruthlessness with which he approached requests for power or sensor time.
Lancaster graduated with honors in 2386, with admission to the academy’s graduate program in Quantum Electrodynamics that he would complete over the following years through long-distance education.
USS Antares (2386-2389)
Lancaster’s first posting out of the academy as an Ensign was to the starship Antares, one of the original Intrepid-class light explorers, under the command of Captain Elizabeth Hayden. He was selected as the Chief Operations Officer for a three-year mission of exploration through the Bajoran Wormhole into the Gamma Quadrant. He was torn between being excited about the opportunity, but he had never spent more than a few weeks out of the Sol system, let alone tens of thousands of light-years from Federation space. Though he was extremely well-trained, adapting to life on a ship full-time was a bit of a learning curve for him, especially when it came to his constant need to enforce rules and regulations to their exact letter, since a ship in space was often faced with circumstances that the regulations could never have predicted.
Being someone who prided himself on always being prepared, feeling a little bit on the back foot was tough for him to deal with, but he received glowing reports from his superiors about his attention to detail and efficiency, even if he wasn’t particularly popular amongst his shipmates. For all of the work he had put into his education and with an upbringing that valued structure and competence above everything else, actually being out in the stars and exploring put everything into an entirely different context: there was exhilaration to be found in discovering new things about the universe, and even someone as serious as him couldn’t set that aside entirely.
Lancaster led his first away team to a Bajoran colony in the Gamma Quadrant in order to help install a large-scale water filtration system, after their old system had reached the end of its useful lifespan. While he accomplished the mission, his leadership style was extremely authoritarian and he had no patience with his team members, taking tasks away from them to just do it himself when he sensed that things were going too slowly or not to his specifications. He was faced with a harsh reality check when he got chewed out by a 20-year veteran Chief Petty Officer who lost patience with his management techniques.
Captain Hayden’s mentorship was influential in his growth as both an officer and as a person, especially following that incident. She recognized that his talent would be held back if he couldn’t also learn to deal with other beings, and so ensured that he frequently got assignments that forced him to deal with other crewmembers. This was more of a learning curve than he expected, but he began to figure it out with more practice. Thanks to his exceptional ratings for efficiency and technical skill, and progress in terms of not being a total jerk, he was promoted to lieutenant junior grade in 2387, serving at that rank until the ship’s return to the Alpha Quadrant.
USS Sagan (2389-2390)
Following the return of the Intrepid to the Alpha Quadrant, Lancaster was promoted again to the rank of lieutenant. Though he would have been content to continue serving aboard Captain Hayden, she recommended him for a classified mission overseen by her old friend, Captain Jonathan Knox. He found himself as Chief Science Officer aboard the Sagan, a Nova-class ship sent to the Barzan system to execute a daring technical project: the stabilization of the Barzan Wormhole. With contact lost between Starfleet Command and ships of the Fourth Fleet assigned to Task Force 38 in the Delta Quadrant, a new way of traveling between the two quadrants was needed. Once thought to be the only stable wormhole in the galaxy before the discovery of the Bajoran Wormhole, the Barzan Wormhole had been destabilized more than ten years prior by the accidental intervention of Ferengi traders in the Delta Quadrant, but it still continued to cycle through various points in the galaxy. It was theorized that it could somehow be returned to a more predictable course, and this intensive project took nearly two years, with the Sagan staying in that system and performing intensive tests on the subspace fabric of the reason.
Lancaster thrived both in the environment of an intensive scientific project and under the command of Captain Knox, who had similar (though perhaps less fanatical) expectations when it came to regulations. In turn, Knox stepped in as a mentor to the young Lieutenant, recognizing in him a high level of intelligence that could be utilized even more effectively if he could be convinced to be a little less rigid in his thinking. As part of the stabilization program, Lancaster helped design and deploy the fixed array that would later be built in orbit of Barzan II to continually saturate the area of the wormhole’s mouth with verteron particles, in order to force the wormhole into a more regular cycle.
After the project concluded successfully, it meant that Starfleet now had a direct link to the Delta Quadrant and that the Barzan system was about to become one of the most strategically important systems in the galaxy. Knox was promoted to Commodore and took charge of integrating the Barzans into the Federation. He had requested Lancaster become part of his staff, but he wanted to stay on a starship.
USS Opportunity (2390-2397)
As it happened, the newly-promoted Fleet Captain Hayden had been granted command of a new ship, the Opportunity, which was one of Starfleet’s famed Obena-class explorers. Her orders were to shore up diplomatic relations with outlying colonies and neutral worlds, and to take on the most vital first contact missions. She was eager to have him back, and he was assigned as the Chief Operations Officer aboard the Opportunity, meeting her at Starbase 72 before their first leg of the mission into the Former Demilitarized Zone.
A posting to an explorer at age 26 and as a full lieutenant would be a feather in any young officer’s cap, but the excitement he had about this posting was greatly overshadowed by his experiences on the one-week layover on Starbase 72 waiting for the Opportunity. When he reported to the station’s infirmary for a physical, he found himself slack-jawed and stammering at meeting Luca Sheppard for the first time. The nurse assigned to take his initial vitals, he was the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome, and it made Lancaster do something out-of-character: he asked him out. They spent almost all of the next week together, both taken by an incredibly powerful attraction that was both physical and emotional. Both of them were ambitious and career-driven, but all of that went out the window for that week.
As luck would have it–it would later be revealed to be the result of a gentle nudge on the paperwork from Sheppard’s commanding officer–Sheppard learned he was assigned to the Opportunity as well. While they initially tried to play it more casually, they’d already clearly fallen in love and after about a month of trying not to admit how rare and unusual the strength of their relationship was they decided that they were “dating.”
Though he was happy with his new relationship and happy to be serving under Hayden again, it was still yet another adjustment for Lancaster to integrate with the crew of the Opportunity, some of whom had been aboard the Antares, but most of whom were new. There were several moments of interpersonal conflict between him and a few other of the senior officers, including the security officer and the chief engineering officer, all generally revolving around adherence or lack of adherence to regulations and inefficient use of the ship’s resources.
Still, the Opportunity lived up to its name, and Lancaster found himself really flourishing in both his professional and personal life. With Sheppard there to call him out when he was going too far and as his shipmates learned to see at least some of the wisdom in sticking closer to the regulations when it came to asking for things from his department.
In 2392, Lancaster was promoted to lieutenant commander and became the ship’s second officer. In this role, he began accompanying every initial away team, a task he was suited to because of his combination of technical expertise, but he certainly preferred remaining on the bridge when he was allowed to. He also was often asked to lead away teams of his own, especially in coordination with lesser ships sent to accompany the Opportunity for technical support after first contact.
Within three years, the Opportunity had visited a dozen Federation colonies to remind them of the promise and hope that Starfleet represented, and had made first contact with three new civilizations in the Alpha Quadrant. It was difficult but rewarding work. As operations officer, Lancaster had to optimize supply and resource levels as the ship pushed itself harder than was usual and with fewer layovers at starbases, but he relished the challenge.
While they had been functionally and emotionally already at that level for a while, Lancaster proposed to Sheppard in 2393, after about three years of dating. They were married later that year in a ceremony on the ship officiated by Hayden. The next year, Lancaster was promoted to commander and elevated to executive officer, when the previous one moved on to a ship of her own.
With this new role, Lancaster once again had to navigate his tendencies towards micromanagement and overreaction, but with Hayden being a more emotive, inspiring leader it worked out well to have him being the taskmaster. She’d win over hearts and minds with grand speeches, while he pushed the crew to be the absolute best they could be. Indeed, the Opportunity was regarded as one of the most effective diplomatic vessels in the Federation, and Hayden was elevated to the rank of commodore in 2395.
Following four years as first officer, Lancaster was offered his first command in 2397: the USS San Francisco, a California-class utility cruiser. Before he could even consider the offer, though, Sheppard was offered a seat in an accelerated residency in internal medicine at Starfleet Medical back on Earth. This was a no-brainer for Lancaster; he would be able to have a command of his own someday, but he needed to support his husband, and they both agreed there was no way they wanted to spend two years apart.
Delta Exploration Initiative (2397-2399)
Commodore Hayden checked around for possible roles for Lancaster on Earth, before stumbling upon the perfect solution: now-Vice Admiral Knox was leading the Delta Exploration Initiative and needed a chief of staff. Holding the rank of captain, Lancaster settled into the role of cutting through bureaucracy and backroom red tape to get the resources, support, and personnel for a new mission to the Delta Quadrant, coming full circle to his work with Knox to stabilize the Barzan Wormhole.
Though Lancaster had loved being able to serve in space, the time he and Sheppard spent together on Earth was one of the first times in his life that he was truly happy. Living planetside only served to strengthen their relationship, and they were able to develop a circle of friends and regular activities around the city. In the over two years they ended up living there, they also managed to travel to a different place on Earth every other weekend together. In some ways, it made him wonder if he could stay on Earth for the rest of his career, but that’s not what he was trained for, and that’s not what Sheppard wanted either.
In 2398, Lancaster’s major project was to build a crew for the USS Arcturus, which was meant to be proof-of-concept for a massive flagship that would be able to support smaller ships for an exploratory mission of indefinite duration. While there would only be a trial mission of a few months past the wormhole, the ship was built to be able to make it all the way home using conventional means should the wormhole collapse. While he was again offered a command personally by Knox, this time the very advanced USS Apollo, which was meant to serve in the expedition, he hesitated again. He liked being a first officer, and he liked not strictly speaking being his husband’s boss.
After months of cajoling, Knox convinced Commodore Hayden to take command of the Arcturus after 9 years on the Opportunity, and a compromise was reached that Lancaster would rejoin her as first officer, the ship’s large crew demanding a captain in the second seat.
USS Arcturus (2399-Present)
In January of 2399, Lancaster set off aboard a transport to meet the USS Arcturus at Epsilon Indi Station, where he would be executive officer to a crew of 2,500. The first three months of the mission served as an extended shakedown cruise in situ in the Delta Quadrant. Disaster struck when they returned through the wormhole in mid-2399 to debrief and complete necessary modifications: Vice Admiral Knox was killed over Barzan II and the Arcturus was diverted temporarily to take charge of anti-Breen operations in the Alpha Quadrant. With Hayden promoted to Rear Admiral, Lancaster found himself unexpectedly in the center seat.
|2382 - 2383||Astrophysics & Engineering Student||Starfleet Academy||
Cadet Freshman Grade
|2383 - 2384||Astrophysics & Engineering Student||Starfleet Academy||
Cadet Sophomore Grade
|2384 - 2385||Astrophysics & Engineering Student||Starfleet Academy||
Cadet Junior Grade
|2385||Acting Transporter Chief||USS Athabasca||
|2385 - 2386||Astrophysics & Engineering Student||Starfleet Academy||
Cadet Senior Grade
|2386 - 2387||Chief Operations Officer||USS Antares (NCC-74800)||
|2387 - 2389||Chief Operations Officer||USS Antares (NCC-74800)||
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|2389 - 2390||Chief Science Officer||USS Sagan (NCC-79831)||
|2390 - 2392||Chief Operations Officer||USS Opportunity (NCC-83012)||
|2392 - 2394||Chief Operations Officer & Second Officer||USS Opportunity (NCC-83012)||
|2394 - 2397||Executive Officer||USS Opportunity (NCC-83012)||
|2397 - 2399||Chief of Staff||Delta Exploration Initiative, Starfleet Command||
|2399||Executive Officer||USS Arcturus (NCC-84000)||
|2399 - Present||Commanding Officer||USS Arcturus (NCC-84000)||