Commander Reyes sighed as a new file popped up on his screen, and took a moment to rub his eyes before reading. This was the sixth such instruction he’d received from Admiral Beckett only that day, and his patience was wearing thinner than he’d have liked.
‘It’s a good sign,’ said Commander Lockhart from the next desk over. She must have heard the LCARS chirrup announcing Beckett’s latest demand. ‘We can’t afford chilly relations with the Star Empire.’
‘More like they can’t afford chilly relations with us,’ grumbled Reyes. ‘They’re desperate to step up with the Free State in the doghouse; it’s a little embarrassing.’
‘Further diplomatic engagements, with the Star Empire or the Republic, help shore up stability in the Beta Quadrant.’
‘That’s easy for you to say.’ He gritted his teeth as he opened the newest instruction from the Director of Fourth Fleet Intelligence. ‘You’re not the one who has to process vetting for every diplomatic envoy we’re sending out there.’
‘You’re right,’ she said, brightening. ‘I’m not. Have fun, Commander.’
The Fleet Action ended a month ago, and after a period of quiet exhaustion, we now see new stories being told and new wiki updates arriving – nature is healing!
One such update is the long-overdue Bravo Fleet Canon articles for the Romulan factions. I’m pleased to present three wholly rewritten articles for the Federation’s splintered, nefarious neighbours: the Romulan Free State, the Romulan Republic, and the reformed Romulan Star Empire. Now we can finally recognise and enjoy the subtle and major differences between the three main factions that arose after the Romulan supernova of 2387. I hope this opens up new opportunities in storytelling in the Beta Quadrant.
Developing Fleet Canon
I wanted to take this opportunity to pull the curtain back a smidge and discuss how the Lore Office approaches developments in fleet canon – especially when it comes to worldbuilding for major powers like the Klingon Empire or storylines which might be revisited in upcoming shows, like the Fenris Rangers. The challenge we face in committing to the 2399 era introduced in Picard is cleaving to new canon, but also in filling the gaps without setting ourselves up for disappointment if future seasons contradict our writing.
The Romulan factions are a great example of how we address this. Picard has discussed no Romulan government but the Free State, though behind-the-scenes sources suggest the showrunners imagine the existence of other factions. It would be unsurprising if the Free State appeared again, and while our wiki article includes facts from the show, we’ve had to fill in some gaps with logical extrapolations and outright guesswork, trying to keep the latter to a minimum. Nevertheless, Season 2 – or 3! – of Picard might well contradict anything we establish. How do we deal with that?
First, we just have to be flexible. If new canon contradicts fleet canon, we’ll change fleet canon through justifications or outright retconning. This might get frustrating, but the alternative means committing to a non-canon Trek setting that will grow increasingly inscrutable to new members who haven’t been steeped in 20 years of fanon.
I’ve still tried to be clever as Loremaster. The Free State article states, for instance, that after the events of Picard Season 1, relations between them and the Federation have cooled, and Starfleet ships are most likely to encounter Tal Shiar assets whose actions might be disavowed by the government. So if storylines do pop up which use the Free State, they’re likely to be incidents neither side wants to discuss again. With the Free State taking a political step back for the moment in fleet canon, Bravo Fleet stories which address conflicts or diplomacy with great powers can instead use the reformed Romulan Star Empire faction (the continuation of the old empire in its own eyes, another pretender in everyone else’s) for traditional Romulan intrigues, or the Romulan Republic (derived from, but not identical to, the Star Trek Online faction) for new tales.
We’ve done something similar before with the Klingon Empire, whose 2399 condition we know nothing about. Fleet canon encourages writers to focus on conflicts with renegade factions like the Hunters of D’Ghor or the House of Mo’Kai, and presume a status quo with the Empire itself until we know better. If a new season of television gives us new information, we can eliminate a rogue group or tweak the balance of power to adhere to new Trek canon. Wherever possible we’ll avoid outright retcons, but we cannot in the meantime be paralysed by not using canon for fear of what comes next.
Member Canon and the Wiki
The wiki isn’t just for fleet canon. Member canon is also welcome here, the details that have sprung up in your stories. While nobody is constrained by the member canon of anyone else, another writer might come up with a detail you find fun or something that enriches your story, so you’re free to use it! One of the most notable hubs of member canon are our ship articles (like these examples of the Arcturus and the Odyssey), which are a great place to include details that might not belong on your Command’s BFMS page, and are particularly good for recording the history of your ship’s adventures. Anyone with a Command is more than welcome to create or expand their ship’s wiki page, which helps you develop a story which can persist even if you some day move onto a new ship!
New regions, alien encounters, stellar phenomena – the wiki is still a home for your stories, just as much as it’s a home for major fleet canon. Get stuck in!