In late 1993, one Stephen Ratliff wrote a Star Trek: The Next Generation Fix Fic to rescue the alternate-timeline Tasha Yar and redeem her half-Romulan daughter Sela, and posted it to the Usenet group alt.startrek.creative. As a B-plot, Ratliff took several of the minor preteen characters who appeared in single episodes of the series—notably including Marissa Flores and Jay Gordon from the episode "Disaster", Clara Sutter of "Imaginary Friend", and Worf's son Alexander—and gave them the keys to the saucer while the grown-ups were away.
It seems that since their canonical appearances these ambitious kiddies have been playing at being Starfleet officers in the holodeck, and it turns out they all had fantastic survival times in the Kobayashi Maru simulation — better even than Data's — so no less than Spock himself gives the plan the A-OK.
They managed to singlehandedly defeat Cardassian Gul Dukat trying to invade Earth (with exactly one ship), humiliating him by burning "I was beaten by a bunch of kids" on the hull of his disabled invasion fleet. Picard & company bring Tasha and Sela back after swinging by The Original Series, and that's the end.
Except that Ratliff took a shine to his "Kid's Crew", and brought them back to headline his other fanfic. His favorite was the captain of the crew, Marissa Flores. He renamed her (probably not intentionally) 'Marrissa Floras', cured her canonical timid diffidence really quick, had Captain Picard adopt her after her real parents met the fate of all redshirts, and sent her rising swiftly through the ranks until she became a fully commissioned starship captain while still a preteen. Shortly before which she had been discovered to be the long-lost princess and heir of a small planet (itself apparently a colony of the United Kingdom).
And she was placed in charge of Starfleet by the time she was twenty-one. And won the Triple Crown. And was instrumental in finally bringing Picard and Doctor Crusher together. And... well, Marissa doesn't like overly long titles.
Absolutely no relation to Marrissa Roberts. note
The story was published before Eternal September, a Newbie Boom for the Internet that occurred in 1993. The stories have become somewhat infamous online for the Improbable Age of the main characters and the out-of-character behaviour of characters like Picard. As such, the stories have become popular with people reading them ironically, in a similar vein to My Immortal.
List of stories
- The Field Trip
- To Go the Distance (replacement for Enterprized and Battle for Bajor (a replacement for A Gul's Revenge))
- All the King's Horses
- Cadet Cruise
- Who Q? Where Q?
- Looking for Something in Red
- The Away Mission (currently unavailable)
- The Captain and the Doctor
- Chasing Marrissa
- Worlds in Collusion (replacement for A Royal Mess)
- Memorial Day
- Home for Christmas
- I Regret to Inform You
- Royal and Prime Directives
- Athena Prospects
- Premier Marquis
- The Only Constant
- The Walls of Jellico
- The Seventh Fleet
- Not Indefatigable
- Endeavor's Beginning
- Far Above Our Poor Power
- A Royal Wedding
- A New Generation
- Falling Into Command
- Return to Glory
- Babies Ever After: After a hefty dose of Pair the Spares, everyone (including Marissa and Dr. Crusher) gets busy cranking out as many offspring as they can.
- Captain Obvious: In chapter four of "Enterprized", it's stated repeatedly that two members of the landing party with the same last name as Marissa (spelled wrong, but hey) have been killed and Picard even tells Riker he'll be the one to tell Marissa the news. Apparently, Ratliff thought the subtext wasn't obvious enough, so he ends the chapter with an author's note helpfully explaining that "Lt. and Ensign Floras" were Marissa's parents. And no, it's not explained which was her father and which was her mother.note
- Celebrity Paradox: Averted. In "Time Speeder", we find out that all records of the Star Trek franchise were classified as Top Secret once "reality" started following "fiction".
- Character Name Alias: In "Time Speeder", two bad guys from the future check into a hotel under the names of James Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard. Because of the situation under Celebrity Paradox, this falls under this trope, though they may not have been aware of it. (Though you'd expect the hotel staff to be suspicious.)
- Chewbacca Defense: In "Premier Maquis" (the one with the Ratliff Gas), Marissa gets assigned to defend Ro Laren in her court martial for defecting to the Maquisnote ; Marissa's main argument is that Ro resigned from Starfleet before defectingnote , and should therefore be tried as a civilian. She wins the case.
- Crossover: One short involves Marissa and friends playing Sailor Scouts in a Holodeck simulation. Wesley is Tuxedo Mask. Remember, in these stories he's her stepbrother.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?/Significant Anagram:
- The Naklab system, with M-class planets Nevolsia, Troac, Sobnia, and Bresa. Troac and Bresa are fighting over Sobnia. Marissa, aged fourteen, negotiates a system-wide "tready" (sic) by locking the ambassadors into the conference room and refusing to let them out until they behave.
- There's also a rather pathetic enemy race called the Trakce. Ratliff has claimed that they're Eckart spelled backwards, because they're the exact opposite of a real-life person named Eckart whom he respects.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: In "A Royal Wedding", the train on Marissa's wedding dress is 45 feet long. (And she doesn't have time to take the dress off before she has to get back in her starship's command chair and blast some Romulans.)
- Feudal Future: In case you missed it the first time, Marissa Amber Flores Picard Gordon is Princess and Heir to the Throne of Planet Essex. Takes a massive level in hilarity when you realise (as Ratliff evidently didn't) that the actual county of Essex is otherwise considered basically the UK version of New Jersey. Especially in terms of blonde teen girls. And from there, the joke comes full circle. Ratliff seems to have a heavy obsession with noble titles, focusing heavily on them in the stories where they come up.
- Fix Fic: The fanfic that started it all, "Enterprized", mainly revolved around rescuing the alternate-universe Tasha Yar who was Sela's mother; Marissa and the Kids' Crew were the B plot.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum: In "A Gul's Revenge", and again in "A Battle for Bajor", a Cardassian ship fires torpedoes at Marissa's ship. She grabs the torpedoes with her ship's tractor beams and hurls them back at the Cardassian ship, disabling it. Needless to say, the Cardassians never adapt to this game-changing tactic, and no other Starfleet captains ever use it. Probably because torpedoes have such powerful shields that they glow brightly, otherwise it would be simply smarter to blast them with phasers. But Mary Sues make their own laws.. of physics.
- Gratuitous Princess: At the same time it's discovered that Marissa is the Princess and Heir to the Throne of the planet Essex, her best friend Clara is also revealed as a Princess of the same planet. Note that until then, these two have absolutely no connection beyond both their families just happening to serve aboard the same starship.
- Hate Fic/Dark Fic: Ratliff's stories have inspired a few full-fledged Hate Fics, including one written by Adam Cadre where Marissa embraces the role of the Eldritch Abomination "Manat". (See also: Offing the Offspring, I'm a Humanitarian.) A great number of Ratliff parodies, Hate Fic and otherwise, can be found here. The Manat hate-fic is "Dark Marissa #1: The Master Builders." An even more disturbing hate-fic titled Marissa Pays Off Karma used to be linked from that site, too, but has since been removed at the author's request.
- Humiliation Conga: Carving graffiti into a Cardassian ship with the Enterprise's phasers. Also, routinely the fate of any adult who dares question why the hell a bunch of kids are allowed access to the most sophisticated equipment Mankind has ever devised, in the most dangerous milieu possible.
- Idiot Ball: The very first instance was a Cardassian attacking Earth (as in, declaring war on the entire Federation) in a single ship with a single phaser bank. If we went on, we'd be here all month.
- Improbable Age: The Kids' Crew have job titles that you wouldn't expect from children and teens.
- In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Yes, Marissa gets to meet Bill Clinton and Prince William...
- Little Miss Badass: Marissa first took command of the Enterprize [sic] at, what, age 10 or 11?
- Mandatory Motherhood: At least half of the saga is devoted to domestic Soap Opera, in which Ratliff, with all the dedicated enthusiasm of a 50s women's magazine writer, sets about pairing up his characters and starts them popping out kids just as soon as they finish puberty themselves.
- Meaningful Name: Guess what happens to Ensign Throwaway?
- MSTing: The format most new readers find them in. Ratliff himself has MSTed some of these fics... <sigh>
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted in "Time Speeder," in which Wesley Crusher courts Chelsea Clinton. Chelsea then becomes the first captain of NASA's first manned interstellar mission, falls through a wormhole and arrives in the 24th century, where she and Wes marry. After she purchases a suitable wardrobe, of course. She shows up later as a Starfleet captain, new daughter in arms, joking that "Wes" doesn't like her spending so much time on the bridge now that she's a mom. Not making any of this up, folks.
- O.C. Stand-in: The original "Marissa Flores" character and several of her compatriots were in only one episode ("Disaster") and didn't get that much development there. Clara, her loyal best buddy, was featured in the episode "Imaginary Friend".
- Only Fatal to Adults: The trope frequently invoked to let the Kids' Crew into action. Most infamously, a sleep gas the Maquis used which didn't affect anyone under the age of fifteen, a.k.a. "Ratliff Gas".
- Out of Character: Oh boy howdy yes. Does Picard of the source material look like the kind of fella who would adopt? Also, does Riker strike you as the type who would constantly let himself be pwned by a twelve-year-old? Would Worf really be that concerned about ensuring 'Alex' gets his 'Uncle Kurn' a birthday present? Last but not least, did the original shy, timid Marissa Flores herself, seem anything like Ratliff's Mary-Sue bastardized homunculus of her? Are we supposed to believe that one incident of coping with a difficult and dangerous situation would turn her into a teenage superhero, rather than simply landing her in trauma-therapy?
- Pair the Spares: Picard marries Dr. Crusher. Marissa marries Jay Gordon. Alex Rozhenko (Worf's son) marries Clara Sutter. Wesley marries Chelsea Clinton.
- The Pope: In "A Royal Mess, Part 2", The Pontiff shows up in his own starship and blasts some Romulans. He later makes a few other appearances along the same lines.
- Red Shirt:
- Ensign Throwaway, in both Ratliff's original draft of Enterprized! and his later rewrite.
- Notably subverted in the same story. When Ratliff lists off the people boarding the Romulan ship, he ends the list with "and another security officer". The nameless security officer survives, but Lieutenant Floras eats a phaser blast.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: Abandon hope, all ye grammar nerds who venture in here. Ratliff's defensive disclaimer — 'All spelling errors are to be ingored' — has reached near-memetic status in certain circles. His first story, "Enterprized" (yes, he even misspelled the name of the ship), actually declares in the header that "Spell checker is down," as if a spell checker were an independent piece of hardware and Ratliff's was on the fritz. Ratliff did eventually get a spelling checker, but there's a big difference between a spelling checker and a grammar checker. More than once, a character answered yes by saying "of coarse."
- Sdrawkcab Name: The Naklab system. And the Trakce race.
- Spin-Off Babies: Eventually, the Enterprise and the rest of Starfleet get entire "back-up" crews of preteens.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Marissa loves anything strawberry-flavored, particularly strawberry juice.
- Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: She is Mar[r]issa Amber Flores Picard Gordon, Princess and Heir to the Throne of Planet Essex, Captain of the U.S.S. Essex/Nova/whatever ship she's gotten her grubby mitts on this time around, Lord High Commander of All Kids' Crews, Supreme Commander of all Starfleet, winner of the Triple Crown, and holder of the longest Kobayashi Maru survival time evar. Look upon her works, ye mighty, and despair.
- You Meddling Kids: According to one of Ratliff's stories, the minimum age to join the Kids Crew is five years old. (This is the same Kids Crew that frequently has to take command of the starship and engage in firefights with Romulans.)