Rogue Magazine/Sky Blake: Keeping Peace in the Shoals
Written by Deliera
Vice Chief Marshal Skyleena Blake’s life is weaved with very intriguing threads. She is better known by Betazed as Skyleena Serella Vataix, the long-lost daughter of the Eleventh House. Her mother Lylita Vataix, was struck from the house long ago following a dramatic clash of ideologies and – dare Rogue speculate – morals. Despite being new to the life of nobility, Skyleena appears to be thriving.
Skyleena currently leads an adventurous life in one of the most isolated areas of the Federation: the Shoals. As Vice Chief Marshall of the Colonial Coalition Marshals Service, she is directly responsible for maintaining law and order. Her interview with us is not the first time she’s fronted the holocameras, though today she isn’t standing behind a podium reading out the latest action reports of CCMS.
This four-part series is an access-granted look into the life and career of possibly the most mysterious noble of the 2390s. We’ll also take a look at the current matters of the Shoals, and what Skyleena thinks the Federation needs to do to help those who call the Shoals home.
I. Beyond Lylita: Skyleena Blake’s birth and beyond
Lylita Vataix withdrew to Brekka: a world in turmoil. Still reeling from an opioid crisis, Skyleena’s childhood home is not the picturesque world like our own. In fact, though Skyleena was open to touring Brekka with Rogue to give readers a glimpse at what life is like, we were denied entry into Brekkian space due to political concerns. She assured us this was not unusual behaviour.
“My mother arrived on Brekka before official first contact. This is what caused the friction between her and our House,” Skyleena informed us. “My father was a chemist for the Seritonian government – one of Brekka’s more influential countries. The planet isn’t united like Earth or Betazed, it’s fractured into political factions. Some work with others. Some prefer to be isolated. These days it’s a big problem: since first contact with Starfleet, Brekka has been in a constant state of alert.”
Even as a child, this marred Skyleena’s upbringing. With the felicium trade funding most of Brekka’s industries, the sudden ceasing of income sent the planet into an economic crash unlike anything in Betazed’s history. “In Brekkian culture, the mantra is usually ‘I am first.’ Meaning ‘I am most important to me,” Skyleena explained. “And suddenly it was quite literally a way of life.”
Despite not having the open status of Betazoid nobility – in truth, this wouldn’t come into Skyleena’s life for decades yet – her father was an influential Brekkian male. Lylita, with her Brekkian husband Rexonius Caremtai Blake, raised her daughter to be a champion. With a combination of Betazoid and Brekkian ideals, Skyleena believes she truly lives to put herself first.
So what does a life of a self-centre champion look like?
“I was an athlete.” Skyleena said. “I was a competing gymnast on Brekka right up until age twenty.”
Skyleena was so successful in this endeavour, a collective of governments sent her to compete in the 2383 Galactic Open Games. You may recall seeing her among the competitors. She even powered through to earn a respectable placing of 55th (of 150 competitors in her class). “It was a lot of pressure,” she recalled. “As a competing athlete, when you leave the homeworld, you effectively carry it with you to the competition stage. There are expectations to be had. But I don’t think my mind was on the competition.”
Her moderate success at the 2383 GOG was overshadowed by the inevitable return home. She’d gotten a taste at life on the host world: Earth. Though she wasn’t entirely enthralled with the idea of remaining on Earth, she knew for certain she was not interested in returning to Brekka.
“For a multitude of reasons,” she clarified. “Not just political. I wasn’t really thinking about politics at twenty. I was thinking about my family. Looking back, I’m not sure I’d call what we had a ‘family.’ I rarely saw my parents. I was usually under the care of my mentor, Marloy. He was with me at the GOG. I think it was him who said I should stay. I think he wanted me to have a better shot at life. To actually find meaning for myself, outside of the expectations of my parents and Brekka.”
Seeking refuge, Skyleena threw herself into studies for one of the safest, secure ways into the Federation: Starfleet.
II. Starfleet Adventures
It would take the better part of ten years to finally reach the ship Skyleena recalls most fondly: Federation starship USS Veritas. The Veritas-class ship is renowned throughout the Shoals as the Starfleet workhorse, and soon Skyleena’s name became synonymous with it, too. The area flooded with tetryon emissions became something of a new home for Skyleena. “Dangerous, unpredictable,” she described it, “but because of that, the… resilience and resourcefulness of the people here is quite inspiring.”
The Veritas underwent many adventures. Readers may recall the most public escapade: the 2398 Battle of the Bands, hosted on the Shoals world of Donova IV. A documentary released by Riza Hass was the first time since the Galactic Open Games that Skyleena had been seen on the extranet. The documentary itself is about the clash between exotic zookeepers Gorgeous George and Maria Chicchoni, as well as criminal charges laid against the two following protests and performances with dangerous animals gone wrong. Skyleena got a part in the documentary due to the alleged theft of an Earth animal called a quokka by a Starfleet officer from Gorgeous George – she was asked if the theft was indication that Starfleet was working for Chicchoni.
Her response – silence for a moment, then laughter she tries to hide behind her hand, followed by a brief moment to recompose herself and a simple “no” – went viral on the Federation extranet as a reaction meme. She was serving as Veritas’ executive officer at the time.
There are, of course, more intriguing events that Skyleena powered through while serving Starfleet. “Fact of the matter is, I’m not comfortable divulging it all to the public,” she said when we pressed for further details.
She did, however, encourage us to look through the dozens of news reports published by the Federation News Service during the period of her service. One such report seems oddly reminiscent of her mother’s determination to study species before they’re truly ready for first contact: the case of the S.S. Duncan Dunbar.
“It was a case of the prime directive. The species native to the asteroid we discovered the Duncan Dunbar lodged in was pre-warp. We didn’t know they were there until after they arrived,” she leaned back in her chair, thinking on our prompt. “That event didn’t involve a desire to really study the asteroid. We were there primarily to determine what happened to the civilian craft.”
It was no mere asteroid. The Veritas crew discovered it was, in fact, a vessel called the Preservation, and its controlling AI, Maker2, was on a mission to ferry the species to a new home. It is quite the remarkable story, now a book published by Skyleena’s crewmate Lieutenant Commander Callistra Navarro entitled A New Hope.
III. The “Desk Job”: Life in the CCMS
In 2398, Skyleena was offered the position of Vice Chief Marshal of the CCMS by Chief Benjin Ranjoes. The two make quite an interesting visual pair: the free-flowing spirit of Skyleena, sporting a white blazer that matches her platinum hair well, is perhaps the polar opposite of the tanned Ranjoes who wears a black jacket, black shirt, and sports her hair in a gelled slick. Together, they work as a successful and unified pair. These are the women the Shoals trusts with its safety.
As Vice Chief Marshal, Blake oversees the various divisions of the CCMS, including colony security, border security, territory patrol, investigations, and survey. She works closely with the Ranjoes and other top officials to set the direction and priorities of the agency, and is often called upon to represent the CCMS in meetings with government officials and other leaders. Not to mention that she now faces the cameras once a week to give those security updates and answer any questions citizens and journalists may have. Such is the life of CCMS officials based on Antor II.
“It was daunting at first,” she smiled. “I had to answer questions from FNS maybe once a month as Veritas XO, but now I’m front and centre, always answering questions, always taking complaints. I can’t walk down a street in Antor without someone recognising me.”
Despite the challenges of her role, Skyleena is committed to making a difference in the lives of those in the Shoals. "I believe in the importance of the work we do here," she said. "The people of the Shoals deserve to live in a safe and secure environment, and it's our duty to provide that for them."
Being a Vice Chief Marshal in the Colonial Coalition is no easy task. The region known as the Shoals is vast and remote, and the seven Federation colonies that make up the Coalition are scattered throughout this area, each with its own unique challenges and dangers. From piracy and smuggling, to natural disasters and cultural differences, the job of a CCMS Marshal is never dull.
One of the biggest challenges facing the CCMS is piracy. The Mother Road, the treacherous shipping lane that runs through the centre of the Shoals, is a prime target for pirate attacks. The CCMS works closely with Starfleet and other Federation agencies to patrol the Road and protect merchant vessels, but the sheer size of the region makes it difficult to cover every possible target.
Another major challenge is the proliferation of criminal organizations in the colonies. These planets are often isolated and under-resourced, making them easy targets for criminal groups looking to exploit the local population. "We've seen a rise in organized crime in the colonies over the last few years," said Skyleena. "These groups are becoming more and more sophisticated, and it's a constant battle to keep them in check."
Natural disasters also pose a significant threat to the colonies in the Shoals. The region is home to a variety of harsh environments, from asteroid fields to plasma storms, and colonies are often ill-equipped to deal with the resulting damage. "We've had to respond to a number of natural disasters in the colonies, from earthquakes to wildfires. These events can cause significant damage and loss of life, and it's our job to coordinate the response and provide aid to the affected communities."
Despite the many challenges facing the CCMS, Skyleena remains committed to her role as Vice Chief Marshal. “The Shoals may be a difficult and dangerous place, but it's also full of opportunity and hope,” she says. “I'm honoured to be able to serve the people of the colonies and help create a safer, more prosperous region for all.”
IV. Talking directly with Skyleena Serrella Vataix
Interviewer: "Skyleena, as a Betazoid, how does your heritage play into your role as Vice Chief Marshal of the Colonial Coalition?"
Blake: “I like to think my mixed culture and background plays significantly into how I relate to those living in the colonies, and people moving into the Shoals now. I myself am an immigrant to this part of the Federation. I’m not born here, I’m not native like the Ohanze. I found my place and working to make it my home. Because of that, I work closely with the Twentieth House.
Interviewer: "Can you speak to the current state of Betazoid politics and how it may impact your role in the Shoals?"
Blake: “Because of the nature of the Shoals, I tend to be out of the loop for… at worst, months. I have to instead operate on principles set by the Coalition. My eldest, Ilakai, she’s the youngest daughter of the Twentieth House on the Eislas side. So my relationship with the Twentieth House is key to functioning as an economic driver between Betazed and the Shoals. Unfortunately my position means I can’t operate with Betazed as my priority – usually I’m on the other side of that table, in the Colonial Coalition seat. But I am frequently working to maintain healthy relationships where possible.”
Interviewer: "You've been living and working in the Shoals for quite some time now, how do you feel about it? How does it compare to what life is like on Betazed?"
Blake: “I think my cousins may have a better answer for that. [light laughter] The Coalition is still part of the Federation. Antor II is like any other Federation world in structure.”
Interviewer: "Is there anything else you'd like to add about your role as Vice Chief Marshal or your experiences in the Shoals?"
Blake: "It is an honour and a privilege. I am passionate about the Shoals. This is home now. These are the people I serve, this is the flag I fly. Quite literally, actually – my final Starfleet portrait has the Colonial Coalition flag next to the Federation flag. I’m working in this position and I’ll give it my all until I can’t. At that point, I step down and make sure the next person works as hard, if not harder, than I did.”
Interviewer: “Can you speak to your decision to relocate Ayeden and Faith to live with their respective relatives on Betazed and how it has affected your relationship with them?”
Blake: “I think it’s actually been very positive for both of them. My son, Ayeden Diego, he’s a son of the Eleventh House. He lives with Niarivi, whom you know as the Matriarch Ascendant. He’s no longer on Betazed, but on Amity Outpost where she’s now the Federation Ambassador for the Delta Quadrant. I think he’s where he needs to be. As for Ilakai, she remains with her father. Both are doing well. I see them when possible, and I’m proud of them. I’m always endlessly proud of them.”
Interviewer: “You’re not telepathic, correct?”
Blake: “I’m not, no.”
Interviewer: “What was it like for you to experience the culture and customs of Betazed, particularly in regards to telepathy, during your time there for Faith's immigration proceedings?”
Blake: “I remember the first time I came to Betazed as part of the Eleventh House. I was meeting Niarivi in person. Up til that point, we’d only ever spoken through letters. I remember walking into this extravagant home where every detail is thought out to its fullest, and thinking, ‘this is part of my life now.’ But that was also a really turbulent time. Brekka wasn’t interested in releasing Ilakai from the Delos system, which as you know, was incredibly stressful for me as her mother. She’s in a place where her safety just wasn’t guaranteed. My mind wasn’t so much on the culture shock. I’m not sure I even had a culture shock. It felt like home was finally coming together.”
Through her dedication and leadership, Skyleena Blake has earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues and the communities she serves. Her journey is a testament to her strength of character and her unwavering commitment to making a difference in the galaxy.