Captain Michael Lancaster
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.
Michael Lancaster was born on Earth in the cosmopolitan city of Seattle in early 2365, 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.
Starfleet Academy, 2383-2387
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 2383 as part of the class of 2387, deciding to major in both physics 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. His roommate, V’Sal, was a Vulcan and the two of them did develop a rapport–Lancaster got along much better with Vulcans than he did with Humans most of the time, though during their first year he had to fight through an unrequited infatuation with him.
At the beginning of his second year at Starfleet Academy, Lancaster was admitted to the prestigious Gold Squadron, an elite training unit for cadets in engineering and operations. As part of this program, he 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 became the ship’s Transporter Chief, 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 2387, with admission to the academy’s graduate program in Quantum Electrodynamics that he would complete over the following years through long-distance education.
USS Intrepid (NCC-74600), 2387-2389
Lancaster’s first posting out of the academy as an Ensign was to the starship Intrepid, the class leader for the venerable Intrepid-class of light explorers. He was selected as the Chief Operations Officer for a one-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 in 2387 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.
USS Sagan (NCC-79831), 2389-2390
Following the return of the Intrepid to the Alpha Quadrant, Lancaster was wiser about the realities of serving on an actual exploratory ship rather than just relying on the rulebooks and laboratory settings of the academy. He was selected for promotion to Lieutenant after three years of service and became the Chief Operations Officer of the Nova-class science vessel Sagan for a very specific mission: the stabilization of the Barzan Wormhole. Under Captain Jonathan Knox, a legendary veteran of the Dominion War, the Sagan was assigned to study a semi-stable wormhole in the Barzan system, near Ferengi space. 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 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 Lancelot (NCC-74410), 2390-2394
As a full Lieutenant, Lancaster joined the crew of the Nebula-class starship Lancelot, under the command of Captain James Smith. During the layover, while waiting to join the Lancelot at Deep Space 12, he met then-Ensign Luca Sheppard, a nurse. They quickly developed an intense and mutual attraction and began a long-distance relationship. Lancaster quickly brought his talents for efficiency to bear on the Lancelot, but he had the disadvantage of joining a well-established crew and was often seen as an outsider during his first year or so aboard the Lancelot. 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.
Lancaster considered transferring off of the ship several times, but these requests were denied given the technical expertise he brought to the ship. He participated in a number of classified missions during his time on the vessel, including a cloaked mission to rescue the Omaha from Romulan space, and then a humanitarian mission to a colony world of that empire.
At the conclusion of that second mission, he alone of the senior staff rejected an invitation from Captain Smith to become part of an illegal expedition to exact vengeance from a Federation terrorist group, and was forced to take command of the Lancelot and pursue the rest of the senior officers. He was successful in doing so, though the other officers did not face a general court-martial. Jacob Sheppard joined the crew as Head Nurse with the rank of Lieutenant, J.G., which only served to strengthen his relationship with Lancaster, leading the two of them to begin a formal relationship after he’d been on the ship for only a month or so.
Lancaster became second officer in 2391 and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. In that year, the Lancelot was involved in a mission to intercept and apprehend a group of rogue Founders who wished to inflame tensions between the Federation and the Romulans by starting a number of conflicts along the border. Lancaster led an away team that was responsible for disabling a Romulan starship in a subterranean hanger, but his team was captured. He was interrogated and tortured by a team of Romulans but managed to disable the ship from the inside with the help of his team. The recovery period for Lancaster was almost two months long, and he only got through it thanks to Sheppard’s compassion and understanding, though he isolated himself several times when the emotions became difficult.
Following his return to service, Lancaster was left in command of the Lancelot when the captain and first officer were called away to a conference on Earth to discuss the strategic situation along the Romulan border. Unfortunately, the private transport that they had booked went off of marked starlanes and entered a system that had been cloaked by the Preservers to shield an ancient Human culture, remnants of the Mycenean culture of Greece. After locating them, Lancaster was able to disable the Preserver obelisk concealing the star system, but it triggered an emergency defensive measure that moved the entire system out of local space.
While Lancaster had been focused for his entire life on his career, having a stable relationship with Sheppard began to shift his priorities. In many ways, they were opposites. Lancaster was introverted and serious, while Sheppard was definitely a people person. Though they had their ups and downs, Lancaster recognized that Sheppard was the best thing that had ever happened to him and proposed to him in 2393.
USS Lafayette (NCC-78441), 2394-2396
In 2394, Lancaster was promoted to Commander and was posted under Fleet Captain Elizabeth Hayden on the Sovereign-class starship Lafayette, a substantially more prestigious assignment than his previous one. Unlike the Lancelot, the Lafayette was deployed on a long-range exploratory mission away from Federation space, operating in the chaotic space beyond the Romulan Star Empire and Klingon Empire in the Beta Quadrant. The work was challenging, as logistical challenges meant that the ship often had to stretch its resources to accomplish their missions, but that challenge was a welcome one for the ambitious, young first officer.
However, in 2395, Sheppard needed to return to Earth to start his medical residency, after several years of training to earn his medical degree through distance education. Being out of real-time communication with his fiancé was substantially more difficult for both of them than they had thought, and Lancaster found himself preoccupied in a way that he never had been before. Because of the strain, at the end of his second year on the Lafayette, he requested a transfer to a shore posting.
Delta Exploration Initiative, 2396-2399
Due to his experience on the Intrepid and the Lafayette with long-distance missions, Captain Hayden was able to secure for him a role in the Delta Exploration Initiative, thanks to her own connections to that project as the designated future captain of the Arcturus. In this role, he worked to bring together staff, equipment, and starships for a long-duration expedition in the Delta Quadrant, meant to start in 2399.
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.
Following the completion of command school in 2388, Lancaster was selected for promotion to Captain, with the expectation that he would be part of Starfleet’s expansion of Task Force 38, which would take a much larger number of ships to the Delta Quadrant than had been attempted in the prior decade. He was offered a number of different opportunities, including serving as now-Vice Admiral Knox’s Chief of Staff and even command of the starship USS Apollo, but Lancaster hesitated. Command was his aspiration, but he was reluctant to do anything that might jeopardize the work-life balance he had finally achieved with Sheppard. A Rhode Island-class ship would have been a good command, but he knew that Sheppard’s career would be stymied there.
In the end, the offer that Lancaster accepted was as Executive Officer aboard the brand-new USS Arcturus, where Sheppard would also be able to serve. Though it was not a command, it was still an incredibly-prestigious appointment, given that he would be second-in-command under Fleet Captain Hayden again. He and Sheppard married in 2398 in a small private ceremony with just their two families, knowing that they wanted to make that commitment before they set off into the unknown again.
USS Arcturus (NCC-84000), 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 shake-down 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.