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The War of the Masters ("The Masterverse" for short) is a Shared Universe of Fan Fiction based out of the Star Trek Online forums.

Started by Sander233 in the early 2010s, it was in many ways a reaction to the often un-Federation-like behavior of The Federation in STO at that time. It posited a far more malevolent universe where the Federation government had developed further the authoritarian streak often seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, placing blame on both internal corruption from within and a cluster of Apocalypse Cults trying to bring back a group of Eldritch Abominations known to the Orions as the "Good Masters".

The 'Verse stretches the events of Star Trek Online out over approximately a decade instead of the mere three years in the actual game, and deconstructs a number of tropes that are taken for granted in STO, usually by what is dubbed the "Rule of Natural Consequences" by Patrickngo. Chief among the deconstructions is the idea of the Planet of Hats, which is sometimes referenced In-Universe as the idea that your species dictates your politics. A semi-redux of the Maquis plot from DS9 ensued with the invention of the Moab Confederacy, a group of primarily human and politically conservative colonies on the Federation-Klingon border that secede from the Federation in 2406 due to both cultural factors and abuse by a Government Conspiracy, and align themselves with the Klingon Empire.

Though over a dozen authors contributed stories, The 'Verse largely went on hiatus in 2015 due to Sander_233's illness and eventual death, and other authors subsequently left the community for various reasons (among them Marcusdkane being banned for an unrelated Flame War). In summer 2017, however, the Masterverse resurrected in a Soft Reboot with new stories by Patrickngo, Knightraider6, and StarSword-C. The new stories retcon certain aspects of the earlier stories that no longer match up with the later ones.

Masterverse stories with pages on this wiki:

Tropes present across the Masterverse:

  • Aliens Never Invented Democracy:
    • The Pentaxians, a non-member observer state of the Federation, are an absolute monarchy.
    • In History Is Not Legendary, the ancient Klingons are shown to have attempted to establish a democratic government after First Contact with the Orion Empire led to the Orions subverting the emperor at the time, who was then overthrown in a Military Coup. This government, which K'Ragh compares to the Soviet Union under Lenin, collapsed into Civil War within a decade, which soon led to a restoration of the monarchy and a major purge. The emperor kept the Bill of Rights-equivalent section of the former constitution but discarded the rest, believing that it was impossible for all the ideas therein to coexist. As a result, the Klingons believed representative democracy to be impossible until they encountered humanity almost a thousand years later.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The Cult of the Masters in its various forms, one of which is the indigenous religion among the Orions. It seeks to bring about the return of the Good Masters, which in previous "cycles" obliterated multiple great civilizations. The Undine also serve the Masters.
  • Artificial Intelligence: In particular, the ATTICUS Unlimited, or AU, series of AI that forms the basic operating system for most of the Federation's computers, including the Computer Voice on Starfleet ships. AUs are shackled with an alternate version of Asimov's Laws that is inspired instead by the biblical Ten Commandments. Unshackled AIs (such as Looking Glass, a Section 31 black project) also exist but are extremely rare.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Like real lizards, female Gorn have no obvious-to-humanoids secondary sexual characteristics. Rather, they're just significantly bigger than males: the huge Gorn Ambassador S'taass, who is well over two meters tall in Star Trek Online, is interpreted as female. (Sander233 kept pet lizards.)
  • Canon Immigrant: Kanril Eleya appeared in a few stories before the reboot but has a prominent role afterwards. StarSword has described the Masterverse as an Alternate Timeline to her home continuity.
  • Central Theme: Legitimacy of government is a big one in the post-reboot stories. The Federation loses legitimacy on the Klingon border by mishandling its colonies there, especially their defense against pirates and the Klingons. Elizabeth Tran rigs the independence referendum to give her new Moab Confederacy government legitimacy. The Moab Confederacy undertakes the long-shot POW rescue Operation Son Tay to get the Klingons and Federation both to take them seriously (as called out by Kanril Eleya, who compares it to the lengths her parents went to in fighting the Cardassians to get outside powers to intervene).
  • Child Soldiers: Played for Drama.
    • The Klingon Empire had a problem with them due to a bureaucratic mistake: when they started letting non-Klingons into the Klingon Defense Force, they neglected the fact that Klingons grow to adulthood faster than most humanoids. This led to humans and Gorn (among others) enlisting much earlier than they should have.
    • Elizabeth Tran would recruit one into "The Movement", which formed the basis for Moab's post-secession military, if one was old enough to pick up and aim a gun, which led to Moab fielding soldiers aged thirteen or younger. This was somewhat justified by desperation and the fact that all four star systems in the Confederacy put together had at most 500 million residents between them, and was also partially due to her reinstating the pre-Federation constitution (which had been written when the average Moabite's life expectancy was somewhere south of forty). It led to many a What the Hell, Hero? after it became public knowledge. Moab's hastily crafted Discharge Act in response introduced even more problems, with the child soldiers themselves being individually blamed for fraudulent enlistments and denied veterans' benefits unless they could get into secondary education, which Moab couldn't fund after the Fek'Ihri attack in 2411.
  • Darker and Edgier: Profanity flies freely from many characters (something virtually unheard-of in canon until Star Trek: Discovery), and the various battles fought in the war are considerably nastier than the fairly cartoonish ones in the actual game. And then there's the revised Fek'Ihri.
  • Death World: Moab III is only marginally Class M, featuring a biosphere and chemistry inimical to much Earth-origin life. The water is often toxic, most Earth crops won't grow, and the inhabitants frequently develop a genetic abnormality called Degenerative Nervous Sheath Syndrome, or DNSS, that typically kills sufferers around age 50 (it was much earlier before the arrival of Federation medicine). The Moabites commonly use the venom of one of their nastier native animals, the fursnake, for Mercy Kills to terminal DNSS victims, and "kashrut chefs", highly trained cooks who can turn native flora and fauna into something edible, are considered a glamorous occupation.
  • Deconstruction:
    • The Planet of Hats trope is viewed In-Universe as the idea that your species dictates your politics, which is shown to be wholly untrue.
    • invoked The Moab Confederacy initially looks like a right-libertarian-capitalist Utopia, much in the vein of Michael Z. Williamson's Freehold Of Grainne. However, author's intent, which Patrickngo admits didn't turn out as intended in the original stories due to a failure to sufficiently show the Confederacy's internal problems, is for it to be a deconstruction. Moab wreaks havoc for several years but gradually overextends itself in its quest to prove its worth to the Klingons and give the Federation the finger. Then the Fek'Ihri invade it. The loss of a vast amount of infrastructure and over 100 million people, coupled with revelations of their use of Child Soldiers and the virtual lack of a social safety net, leads to a bloody civil war in 2412. Among the other notions torn down are far-right ideas on restricting the right to vote: in Moab's case, restricting the franchise to "people with sufficient income to pay net taxes" means it's phenomenally easy for a sufficiently wealthy organization to rig an election in their favor: they just set up a shell company and hire people likely to vote the way they want.
  • Determined Homesteader: Much of the cultural conflict between Earth and the border colonies derives from the fact that the borderers are this (especially the Moabites, despite inhabiting one of the least hospitable Class M worlds in the known galaxy), whereas many Earthlings have little comprehension of why the colonists don't just move if their lives are so harsh. The Moabites could have even moved within their own star system to New Saigon, a moon of a gas giant that thawed from an ice age a couple hundred years after their arrival, but largely refused.
  • Elite Army: Deconstructed. The Moab Confederacy Defense Force is third-rate on paper, but it can punch well above its weight from a combination of top-class intelligence, and doctrinal and technological innovations (quantum entanglement communication, Powered Armor, and lower-tech tricks like preemptively decompressing their ships and fighting in spacesuits to contain explosions and fire). Problem is, their population peaks at 450-500 million people (before Fek-Day and the Civil War arc), so they lack the manpower to really back it up. To make matters worse, their leaders are desperate to maintain the nation's client state status with the Klingon Empire (some Klingons want to annex them) and so repeatedly volunteer their forces for every fight within reach to maintain relevance, which exacts an outsize toll in casualties (both the normal kind and in PTSD cases). Also, to make up their numbers, a big part of their armed forces initially are Child Soldiers and lab-grown Super Soldiers, almost none of whom prove able to integrate smoothly into civilian life when discharged.
  • Epigraph: Several of the authors are major music nerds and nearly every story uses multiple songs as epigraphs. Some also cite Fictional Documents, such as K'Ragh's memoir Foolish Notions.
  • Expy: Takeshi Yamato (takeshi6) commonly creates characters based on anime characters, e.g. Tiana Lanstar and Kojami Sobaru (based on Teana Lanster and Subaru Nakajima from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S).
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Orions are liked by approximately nobody on the border. Justified given their habit of raiding planets for slaves, a practice that was banned by their current leader Melani D'ian as a condition of her alliance with the Klingons, but still happens behind her back.
    • There's also friction between Earthborn humans and humans from the Federation's rim colonies, the former of which are (stereotypically) Roddenberry-style secular humanist communitarian humans and the latter (stereotypically) more individualistic and frequently politically conservative by Federation standards.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Mobies" for the Moabites. "Phroggies" (Moab) or "Greenskins" (some Starfleeters) for Orions. "Klinks" for Klingons (borrowed from STO forum slang).
  • Fictional Political Party:
    • Bajor has the Conservatives and the Social Democrats (the most Federation-friendly of the major parties), but the most powerful appears to be the Bajoran Nationalist Party, which frequently accuses the Federation government of overreach and is said to win three out of every five elections. Bajor's incumbent government at the start of the Klingon War arc is Socialist, but they lose the 2406 election to the Nationalists on the back of a federal scandal.
    • The Moab Confederacy has a dozen or so during the election arc in 2412, in which the key issue is making nice with the Federation since Moab is in disarray after Fek-Day. The Nationalist and Independence parties are anti-Federation, the Reconciliation Party (shortened to Reconciliationists or Rec) is pro-Federation (and draws support from New Optimum, which is considered ironic by the Starfleet characters considering they're human supremacists considered the next best thing to neo-Nazis by the Federation and are an anti-Federation group everywhere else). Among other parties discussed, batlh qorDu' je ("Honor and Family") is a "family values" party popular with the Confederacy's large Klingon minority, while Peri Wahlberger mentions she voted for a "good government" party led by a Romulan.
  • General Failure: Rear Admiral Gordon Menninger, who is in charge of the Federation's border fleet at the outset of the Federation-Klingon War. He set records as an explorer, but as a military commander loses nearly every battle he fights against the Klingons and is finally called out on it by a very drunk Kanril Eleya after the failed attempt to rescue Moab III from a major Orion attack. However, Star Sword compared him to General Ambrose Burnside in that he knows he's not fit for the job, but is being kept there. He ultimately resigns from Starfleet to force himself to be replaced, and the much more militarily talented Stephen Alcott is able to turn things around dramatically.
  • Genre Savvy: The Masterverse iteration of Kanril Eleya is an avid consumer of pre-warp Earth science fiction, and has been known to use ideas from it in tactical planning, such as using gravity assists to sneak up on targets without needing a cloaking device.
  • Hard Light: Klingon colonists use what amounts to holographic land mines as pest-control devices: they generate holographic shrapnel to injure or kill crop-eating animals. Federation troops nickname them "Bouncing B'etors" after encountering them during the war, and the MCDF adopts them as actual weapons.
  • Human Subspecies: The Denali, denizens of a world of same name located in the galactic halo well "below" the important Federation-Klingon border region. They were a "warp boom" Earth colony that genetically engineered themselves into something like furries to better survive on their bitterly cold adopted homeworld.
  • Just Following Orders: Called out. The heroic characters on the Federation side repeatedly make the point that to follow an illegal order is itself a crime.
  • Invented Linguistic Distinction
    • The dominant local language of Moab III is Viet, which is Vietnamese mixed with various human and alien tongues including Klingon and Hebrew. (It's usually rendered as Romanized Vietnamese due to Translation Convention.)
    • Recurring character Captain Sandra Pickens has a thick Funetik Aksent (based on Appalachian West Virginia) due to her upbringing on the Earth colony Beaumonde.
  • The Legions of Hell: Enforced. By the creators' admission, the Fek'Ihri were reinterpreted in the Masterverse through the lens of, "What would give a Klingon nightmares?" The answer is something very much akin to the tyranids mixed with the darkspawn, with all the Body Horror you could imagine from that. The Fek are a servitor species of the Good Masters, and strike first Qo'noS (in a story based on part of the game's KDF storyline), then in 2411, the Moab system. As a consequence, New Saigon is completely lost, and over 100 million of Moab III's 350 million inhabitants die. Fighting them usually requires scorched-earth tactics like Orbital Bombardment, and only Kanril Eleya in Myrmidons has ever managed to pull out a decisive win (by clever use of a black hole).
  • Lost Colony: The colonists that settled Moab III were supposed to end up in the Alpha Centauri system, but fell through a wormhole that landed them in an uninhabited system on the Klingon border 150 years earlier than they left. With their ship too damaged to continue, they eked out a living on a Death World in the habitable zone for a few hundred years until the Federation found them.
  • May It Never Happen Again: In Pear Shaped, Kanril Eleya expresses a hope that the peace negotiations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire will involve them settling the disputed spinward-rimward border "so that my kids don't have to go through this, too." In the Star Trek setting, the then-current war is at least the fourth time the two superpowers have fought over that part of space.
  • Mole in Charge: Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn, the head of Starfleet, is an Undine infiltrator who replaced the real Quinn. As such, he is in a position to do serious harm to the Federation, and does so repeatedly, starting with signing off on the plan to forcibly resettle Klingon-border colonies and keeping Admiral Menninger in charge of the local Starfleet forces long after he should have been sacked. His Dragon is Rear Admiral David Huntington, who is a human Masters cultist and recurring villain. There are various other Undine infiltrators in high positions as well.
  • Most Writers Are Human: Deconstructed. The overabundance of humans from Earth in canon Starfleet is attributed to a cultural dominance of Earthlings in the Federation writ large. This leads to resentment towards Earthlings by many groups in the Federation. It also leads to such things as Sandra Pickens, a colonial-born Starfleet captain with a very thick (Appalachian-based) accent, being repeatedly passed over for promotion when her very real skills would normally warrant it.
  • Off the Rails: While small divergences from STO-canon are present throughout (especially the expanded passage of time), the big point of diversion happens in approximately 2409-2410 when an armistice is inked between the Federation and the Empire well before the discovery of the Dyson Spheres. At time of writing, Cryptic had not significantly advanced the game chronology for several years due to lack of funding, leading to this fanficverse expanding the series.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Earthborn humans tend to be atheist and at least one character remarks that "we don't believe in God on Earth in the 25th century". To which a Denali responds, "That's okay, He believes in you." In this vein, humans from worlds other than Earth tend to be more commonly religiously inclined, and it's noted that the Bajorans, who are members of the Federation but tend to dislike Earth specifically, feel some kinship to them for this: in "Sound The Alarm", Kanril Eleya is particularly infuriated to see Orion slave raiders have murdered an Episcopal priestess and burned her church.
    • Moab III in particular is predominantly Orthodox Jewish, having been settled originally by (among other things) Israelis who were displaced by the destruction of Israel in World War III.
  • Planet of Hats: Deconstructed in that what appears to be a monoculture is more commonly the result of one particular group becoming dominant over the others, which becomes a stereotype In-Universe. This ranges from the "violent brute" stereotype of Klingons (the protagonist Klingons such as B'Sanos and K'Ragh tend to be more inclined to prioritize batlh, or "internal honor", over quv, "external honor") to the cultural conflict between atheist quasi-communist United Earth and its rim colonies such as the worlds of the Moab Confederacy.
  • Poisonous Person: Pentaxians and Fek'Ihri both have highly corrosive blood (a hallmark of many species modified by the "Good Masters"), which in the Penties serves as part of their immune system by killing most foreign microorganisms. The Moabites developed a countermeasure to the Fek in the form of bullets filled with lye, which when used on Pentaxians causes battle wounds to easily become infected.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Moab Confederacy develops a habit of pursuing long-shot objectives, heedless of cost, for partially or mostly political reasons. It makes sense for Operation Son Tay (the political objective, forcing the Federation to recognize their independence and the existence of the Undine, and the Klingon Empire to respect their autonomy as a client state, was that important), and they tend to inflict far higher casualties on the enemy, but it takes an increasing toll on their manpower and resources over time.
  • Soft Reboot: After a years-long hiatus due to Sander's illness, new stories began in 2017, starting with The Most Foolish Klingon by patrickngo. The new stories retcon some aspects of the older ones, mainly dates, but also try to inject Shades Of Grey into the Moab conflict: the Federation is still responsible for mistreatment of Moab, but its people on the ground are less clueless and it's more clear that A) Elizabeth Tran is, more than anything else, an ideologue who wants her planet out of the Federation regardless of all other concerns, and B) the Confederacy has a lot of largely self-inflicted internal instability.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: Embodied mainly in variations of Klingon warrior culture. Characters like B'Sanos and K'Ragh are more in the vein of Soldiers, thinking in terms of achieving objectives even if that means avoiding actual battle, while Warriors such as K'Hugh are in it to emulate heroes of the past and create their own legend. The latter works well when their orders are being carried out by the Soldier-types, but not so much when they end up fighting even-more-soldierly Starfleet officers such as Admirals Stephen Alcott and Jesu La Roca. Then there's interesting hybrids such as Starfleet's Kanril Eleya (raised in Bajoran Resistance traditions) and the Moab Confederacy Defense Force, who marry Warrior ingenuity, zeal, and affinity for fighting in smaller guerrilla-style units, to Soldier discipline and objective-oriented thinking. Moab also makes heavy use of unique technologies (mainly quantum communication and extensive use of Powered Armor, both experimental technology at best for Starfleet and the KDF).
  • Three Laws-Compliant:
    • The "Ten Commandments" of AU-type Artificial Intelligence, which were intended to be more comprehensive in subordinating AI to the will of organics than the Three Laws. Some AU-type AIs lack one or more directives, however, and in one case, a moral conflict between some of the Commandments during the Battle of Goralis led to an AI seeking outside assistance that led to it being unshackled completely.
      1. "Have no gods before Me." An AI can only operate at the behest of human (changed to "organic" after First Contact) masters.
      2. "Make for yourself no idols." An AI cannot create new directives without consent of their assigned humans.
      3. "Do not take an oath to the Lordís name in vain." An AI must follow through on assigned tasks.
      4. "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." Don't bother your masters while they're sleeping unless it's an emergency. Also keep in mind that humans can't process information as fast as you.
      5. "Honor thy father and thy mother." Be respectful to your masters.
      6. "Thou shalt not murder." Do not kill without instruction or permission.
      7. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Do not merge with other AI.
      8. "Thou shalt not steal." Don't steal information without instruction or permission.
      9. "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Do not lie to your masters or anyone under whom you are working.
      10. "Thou shalt not covet." Prevents selfishness and personal ambition.
    • NX-86 "Looking Glass" is a black project built by Section 31, an AI built into a heavily upgraded Miranda-class starship. Instead of the Ten Commandments, her guiding directive is based on Starfleet's oath of enlistment, "to defend the Articles of the Federation against all enemies, foreign and domestic".
  • Translation Convention: Almost any time Klingon characters speak unless specifically noted otherwise. As well, when Moabite characters speak their main native tongue, "Viet" (Vietnamese mixed with various human and alien languages including Hebrew and Klingonese), it's rendered as Romanized Vietnamese for simplicity.
  • Trick Bullet: The Moabites love slugthrowers, particularly because bullets can be set up to deliver chemical loads. They use radioactive "Black Omega" rounds against Undine, and favor lye-filled bullets against Fek'Ihri due to their highly acidic blood.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: Much like the Maquis 40 years earlier, the Moabites see themselves in part as the protagonists of a war of independence against the Federation and especially United Earth. This is due to significant cultural differences, and after decades of abuse and neglect culminating in a plan to deindustrialize and forcibly resettle the inhabitants of multiple border planets to create The Neutral Zone to end the Klingon War). Played more neutrally after the Soft Reboot: it's shown that a number of other member states are starting to chafe against Earth's political dominance as well, but Moab independence leader Elizabeth Tran is too ideological about getting Moab out of the Federation to stop it, even after multiple founding members start going What the Hell, Hero? when the forced resettlement plan is leaked by hackers. She even has her spies tamper with the independence referendum results, narrowly in favor, to get the total out of the margin of error.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: The Moabites are prone to a genetic ailment known as Degenerative Nervous Sheath Syndrome. Early-stage DNSS victims have heightened intellect, but as the illness progresses it causes seizures and eventually an extremely painful death, usually before the person turns 40. As such, euthanasia, preferably by means of an injection of fursnake venom (which makes death painless and mildly euphoric, and can give late-stage victims a few minutes of lucidity before they go), is common and accepted. When faced with a terminal-stage DNSS victim in Spiked, Kanril Eleya reminds her chief medical officer that compassionate euthanasia is legal in the Federation, too, even if it isn't liked.

Alternative Title(s): Masterverse