This was the first story I ever started and it started as a fan fiction. Opsfleet quickly grew into something much better than a fan fiction of a Science Fiction favorite, and into something unique and personal to both my friends and I.
It was somewhere around the year 1999 or 2000 when my father got mad at me for staying on the internet too long before school; dad had bought me a Toshiba Satellite laptop — my very first portable computer earlier in the year and I thought it was the coolest thing ever! My own laptop; I hadn’t had that much excitement about my own personal piece of technology since 1993 when my dad bought me not just one, but a pack of three, 3 1/2 disks that held 1.44MB (back then, that was a metric frackton) of memory. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)
Just like the discs six or seven years before, the laptop served as my own bit of digital memory that I could take anywhere with me. Back in 1999/2000 though, the laptop wasn’t really a gaming machine and there wasn’t a whole lot you could do with it as I discovered shortly after trying out a few of the latest and greatest games of the year with it (Vampire the Masquerade Redemption, and System Shock 2); and despite not having the ability to do with the laptop what I wanted, I chose not to be a spoiled little brat and accept the fact that — my parents actually bought me a laptop!
I was going to do something with it! How many kids in 1999 or 2000 had a freakin’ laptop?!
… back to the subject of the second paragraph (above), so one night, (keep in mind, this is back in the modem days — 56.6kBps modems; so in order to really sneak internet (without wifi… It wasn’t really a thing back then), it required skillfully dragging an old style RJ-11 Phone Line (Yes home phone lines) across the living room, down the hallway, and up into my bed, connecting it to the modem. I don’t remember what I was playing exactly but suddenly I felt a yank in the cord. I thought for a moment I must have caught a fish and resisted the temptation to reel it in because it wasn’t fishing line, and fish couldn’t swim in the house.
My father flung the door open; it was about 11:30 at night and my dad told me that he didn’t want me sneaking on the internet during the middle of a school night. He literally cut the cord in half! There was no internet! At least, no long cord sneaking internet for late-night surfing awesomeness…
So I began to think about my earlier childhood. What did I love doing? My dad once bought me a portable, hand-held TV and back in 1994, it was my favorite thing to fall asleep with. My mind was always imaginative and it was always racing so it helped to have something on in the background to allow me to fall asleep. I would always watch Star Trek on it before going to sleep, along with William Shatner’s “Viper” (At least, I think William Shatner created that series — it failed).
I was thinking… Well, I had a word processor! I also dabbled in web design back then, and America Online (AOL) had a web editing program called “AOL Press” for which you could create websites with and upload to a server on places like Angelfire and Geocities (big self-publishing free website servers of the day) and I thought to myself — I could create a Fan Fiction of the show I used to watch before I fell asleep! I always loved writing in elementary school. I could always totally get back into it again! Only I can actually publish it for the world to see!
So, I started writing it in episode format, just like the show! But after a few episodes in, I decided, Why not make it original so I can do anything I want? I was still a big fan of Star Trek, and I was really into Deep Space Nine, which was still in its latter half of syndication at the time. They called what Star Trek: The Next Generation’s main set “The Bridge” — but they called the main set of Deep Space Nine “Ops”… So, it was a simple, easy decision. I would call my story “Opsfleet”
Opsfleet — or “Operations Fleet” was officially born.
The Help of Good Friends
I had made friends with Scott Greene in 1998. This was a year and a half before he would eventually become the co-writer for Opsfleet (One of two really good friends that would eventually write with me). Scott would work hard in P.E. (Physical Education). As I was an odd mix between “Jock” and “Nerd” (the only one with such credentials at Riverdale Highschool in Fort Myers, Florida), I had the capability of making friends with everyone in the Physical Education class. This is why, when I saw how hard Scott was working — in the bleachers, I just had to come over and say hello. Yes, he didn’t really play sports but what he could do, was draw a pretty damn good looking tank schematic, FREE HAND and I knew that there was nobody else in that school that had his special talents for visual imagination the way that he did; not even the Art Teacher, Mr. Greenblat (sorry Mr. G… Just the truth) who was just about as good at art as he was hitting on the pottery teacher next door.
I didn’t quite know how to introduce myself so I just said what’s up and let it continue from there. Instead of a straightforward, canned reply, Scott’s first words to me were Do you think plasma cannons are best, or common-day projectile weaponry?
Oh yes, we were firm friends from that point on. Fellow nerds with an interest in military weaponry. It was no wonder that when I told Scott about my idea of Opsfleet, he’d jump right in and help me. It wasn’t as much a project as it was a fun way to hang out and combine the full use of our combined imaginations into a Science Fiction series that the world never noticed.
He wasn’t the only friend with Science Fiction talents and Interests in common though.
Jeremy Sisson was a person I didn’t really get to know right away. I was a year ahead of Scott, and Jeremy was a year ahead of me. Jeremy was an anomaly to me in High School; the school photographer with a I don’t give a sh*t attitude. He was a mix between the rebel stereotype and the outcast, however, nobody would dare make fun of him because he was also highly intelligent and knew how to spin a phrase on queue; if anyone ever dared make fun of the guy, he’d make them cry. Instantly, I was intrigued by this person. He would always show up to our swim practice and sneak in pictures of the team, before skipping over to the football field to do the same with them. It wasn’t until almost a year later that fate would have us run into each other.
As it turns out, Jeremy was even more of a fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine than I was, and even a bigger fan of Star Wars. He was a literary genius with talents for way more than High School Photography. For a time, Jeremy, Scott, and I passed off the story to one-another with use of E-Mail and a writing website that I dare not name because the site monetized itself and required us to pay in order to share the way we used to share.
Hidden Backstory and Unseen Versions
Opsfleet started roughly around the year 2000 or latter half of 1999; the stories you see on the website today are recent republications and re-imaginations of what was started over eighteen years ago by the group of — then High School and College Bound writers; the story was more than just a fiction story, it was a way to keep the friendship firmly glued together in some cases. Scott and I had went off to college, and Jeremy pursued the blue-collar life and upper management. Scott, with his artistic talents went on to study Computer Generated Graphics, and I focused on English/Literature, Acting, and Information Technology; Jeremy went on to quickly become middle management of several common-named stores and institutions.
The stories never stopped…
We would fire back e-mails until Opsfleet, book one (Version One) was completed roughly a little after the year 2001. In that time, we had failed to edit the story because Opsfleet – Book One (Verson One) was my first story, re-written to take all the Star Trek elements out of it, and was the official first draft of “the team” and none of us really wanted to admit it, but, as fun as it was to write, it was shit. But it was fun shit! And we loved that shit!
So 2002 came along and Jeremy and I began writing a back-and-fourth book that would become “Opsfleet Two”… Once again, we were new writers, and writing wasn’t our specialty until the latter half of High School and it was just a fun, friendly thing I believe. We would have fun writing it but I think we all knew that we weren’t going to end up selling it. It was basically another test of our imagination; to this day, I do not regret either first versions of Opsfleet. The way I saw it, these stories paved the way to what we would be doing now.
A stand-alone version was the last version that I wrote personally and it was based on an accidental creation of an Android. Rest assured, this story too would never see the light of day because it served as the last best proof that the quality of my writing had finally changed for the better (I was terrible…)
Eventually, I created a story based on the Aliens Franchise.
Dark Horse Comics loved it so much that they wanted me to publish the story, however FOX Entertainment called me in the summer of 2003 to tell me that under no terms would I be allowed to publish my own Aliens Novel under Dark Horses license, nor Fox’s license because they (paraphrasing) had their “core writers” and we would not risk the stories for a writer that’s just finding his legs.
That was when I knew that my writing technique was good enough to be considered “professional” — anything good enough for FOX to reject and Dark Horse to love is worth it’s weight in gold…
— it’s just too bad that Fox told me to delete the manuscript; I was too young and stupid to defy a mega media conglomerate. But that’s okay though! Scott and I got together a few years back and we wrote a story together. It wasn’t meant to be a “F*** You” to Fox, but — despite it being a fun story worth reading, it’s still a nice (F*** You) retort to whomever might have remembered the harsh 2003 rejection.
It was also a damned good story, if I do say so myself…
So yes, multiple versions of Opsfleet that haven’t seen the light of day are behind the backstory of familiar characters that we are finally writing now; now that, we are better writers and can weave a better story