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View from the Top: Merrick

March 05th, 2008 | Category: Star Wars Role Playing,Uncategorized,VE Today

My next interviewee for the “View from the Top” series will be Merrick. Long-standing Army veteran and infamous IRC Moderator, not many people may know of Merrick, her role within the VE, or even the person behind Merrick. Well now you do.


Hello Merrick. First of all, on behalf of the VET, I’d just to welcome you here, and thank you for agreeing to this interview.

Now, according to the roster you are Colonel Skyalin “Merrick” Tel’sha, Second in Command of the Vast Empire Stormtrooper Corps, can you tell us more about who you are and what you do?

Being second in command means that I have a number of responsibilities including generally overseeing everything that happens in the army, approving medals and promotions and being around to help any other command staff with their queries or problems. I also act as the head of the army in General Fury’s absence and have the power to approve – or not – any projects that the leaders of the squads and platoons would like to take on.

You’re also one of the chief moderators on the VE IRC channel, why did you decide to take up this role, and do you enjoy it?

Initially I took on the role as a favour to Fury, but I was not the Army Executive Officer at the time. Being in a vastly different time zone meant that I was – in general – around at the times that the other mods weren’t, and so it was hoped that I could rein in some of those who were taking advantage of these more relaxed times. Having been subjected to a lot of inappropriate banter in the channel myself, I was at the time keen to keep the channel friendly, especially to younger members.

I don’t enjoy the role, I never really have. People see me as the fun police when all I am really trying to do is keep the peace between members. I do not enjoy being forced to kick or ban people – though I have been known to do it as a joke when I know that the “victim” won’t be offended by it – as I like to think of the main channel as an opportunity to meet and get to know people from all over the world.

You’re known to take a very “tough” line when it comes to moderating, yet you also have your funny side. How do you choose your stance when faced with different situations?

It’s never easy to have power over people and there are always those who will differ in their opinion of what went on. In the end I have the trust of General Fury in all matters of channel moderation. I try my best not to take complaints personally, and to keep all decisions fair. There are times when humour is called for, but in general I choose the path that is most likely to defuse the situation and have the best outcome for all parties concerned. There are people who continually question and test my authority, and it’s a matter of course that they end up with the worst punishments – and usually the loudest complaints. There’s also the odd occasion where someone forgets that what they are saying is inappropriate and so I will choose not to be as hard on them as I might be on a repeat offender.

Obviously you would have had to have been around a long time to attain such a rank; when did you join the VE, and what positions have you had in the past?

I actually sat around in the VE channel for roughly a year before joining, as I was in a club with whom the VE shared an IRC channel. I officially joined in February of 2002, making my start in the army in Wraith squad. I can’t recall who was squad leader at the time. For a long time I sat in Wraith waiting for things to get interesting, posting and developing my character. Then when Kiption got his own squad (Jester) I was invited to join; I was still a PFC at that stage. Once in a squad that was getting somewhere, I rose through the ranks relatively quickly to become the ASL of Jester squad until I was promoted to Leader when Kiption went on indefinite leave. After a brief stint away from active duty – spent away from VE in general and on the roster as Fury’s assistant – I was promoted to the position of Executive Officer. A number of times I have held Squad Leader positions concurrently with the XO position with a couple of different squads; Jester a couple of times and Nightstalkers for a time. I recently retired once more from active duty with Jester squad, though this time simply as a trooper.

I have taken long leave from VE twice in my career, and a couple of shorter breaks. After one such long break I returned mid-story to save the day as the undercover thief that stole the plans to an important rebel military asset.

Now, these days you tend to prefer spending time as the IRC channel mod, then posting in the stories. Why did you decide to take a back seat?

It’s not so much that I prefer not to be in active duty, but that I have many more time constraints than I once had. In the end it was the good of my respective squads that has seen me leave – to make room for someone who could be more active. It’s always a tough call to leave your comrades in such a fashion, and I have never liked doing so.

Would you ever consider getting back into posting?

I have made a few attempts to return to active duty, but as I mentioned getting the time to do my squad the justice of being active is a hard hurdle to get over. I know that everyone suffers from the burdens of real life considerations, and many are much more active than I am, but I have lately lacked the motivation to make more time for VE. I hope that once my real life situations calm down this will be resolved and I can enjoy the benefits of being a more active member of the army, whether in a squad or simply as a member of the command staff.

In terms of where you are in the VE, do you have any more ambitions, or are you happy in the role that you’re in? Is there anything else you would like to do?

I recently made an attempt at the Dark Jedi Order, but as I mentioned time is not something I have in large quantities. I think that any part of the Vast Empire deserves more dedication than I can give it at the moment. So I guess my ambition is to become more of an asset to particularly the army, but also to the VE as a whole. Who knows, perhaps I will one day succeed Fury as the Prefect of the Army.

And finally, as some of our readers may not know, you currently reside in Australia – What is it like living in the future?

I don’t live in the future, you guys just live in the past.

I love my country, despite the recent government changes. I have considered living in the United States but in the end this is my home. I’ve lived in many towns and cities throughout the country, and realised that the particular city doesn’t matter so much as the people I am surrounded by. I also love my job too much to leave it and I think that I lack the strength of character to be content if I were to move such a great distance from everyone I care about. While I have some great friends in America, they are spread quite far from one another. Besides, it gets way too cold in most US states!

Once again, thank you for agreeing to this interview, and we look forward to seeing you around on IRC.


Stay tuned for more interview’s in “View from the Top”. Thanks for listening.

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From the Frontlines: An overlook on contemporary war reporting.

Wars have always been commonplace in Galactic Society. From small tribal wars on undeveloped planets, too full scale engagements between empires, war is, and will probably always be, one of the few constants in the universe.

But how do we find out about them? How does a society find out about these things? Obviously there are Government announcements: friendly, reassuring statements saying everything is fine and that you’re not all going to die. Whilst these statements are about as useful as an angry wookie, they at least can guarantee that the populace are mildly aware as to whether or not they’re at war.

But what of the rest? What of the details? And how do people who don’t even care get told about these events that they are so busy not caring about? Enter the Journalist: a creature of such a rare breed, that their one single craving is information, details, events… The Journalist will strive to find out what happened, and tell you about it, whether you want to hear about it or not. Why? Probably because he or she has nothing better to do.

When it came to wars, Journalist would in days gone by simply sit on the sidelines, gleaning what information they could, and constructing a report over what they heard, or were told. Unfortunately, this still meant that the authorities were the main source of information. Whilst this would rate as slightly more useful than an angry wookie, it was still pretty poor, especially when an average Journalist could have found out more about the person they were interviewing, as opposed to the subject matter of the interview – If the public cared little for conflicts between foreign leaders, they would care even less for the detailed breakdown of sexual affairs conducted by said leaders.

Classic examples of how this style of reporting simply didn’t work can be seen from reports of the Clone Wars. Reports on the war were sporadic at best, especially when the military took over the Holonet News service in 22 BBY. Independent news networks on a galactic scale were still rare during these days, and so an overall view of the war was lacking. Some sector wide news agencies managed to get coverage, but only because it was their sector that the war was taking place in, and the coverage was mainly one sided. During a shoot of the popular talk show Coruscant Today, a guest on the show famously commented:

“Despite scouring the Holonet every day, listening to government updates, surfing the web and Vid shows, I have absolutely no clue how the war is going”

As time went one, there was a shift in attitudes towards war reporting, especially after the formation of the Galactic Empire. As atrocities such as the Great Jedi Purge and the Ghorman Massacre tried to go unnoticed, reporters were suddenly struck by a bad case of conscience. Did events really happen as Imperial Centre told us? What is the REAL story? Reporters from around the galaxy started hunting down the truth, and when the Declaration of Rebellion was realised in 1 BBY, reporters suddenly realised that there was a different side to the story. News corporations such as the newly formed Galactic Press were becoming fed up with the propaganda machine, and started to find ways to get independent reports, especially when it came to wars. And so led to the rise of the ‘Frontline’ reporter.

Frontline reporting went through serious growing pains in the early years. Skirmishes with the Rebellion were kept on the quiet-side as much as possible, so that not too much attention was drawn to their cause. Reporters who did manage to work up more objective works had their work stamped out, or simply refused distribution. A lot of reporters died during the fights, especially in later years as the Empire got more and more forceful. However, Journalists were given a break with the defeat of the empire at the battle of Endor. As the Imperium disintegrated, and the Rebels became more prominent, Journalists were given more of a free reign. The biggest break through in war reporting was with Zahn Sim, and his report of the ‘New Republics’ liberation of Courascant in 7 ABY. From start to finish, Zahn was there, giving a blow by blow account of the liberation. Once NR forces touched down on the surface, Zahn went all over the place, reporting as he went. His reports are generally considered one of the best pieces of Journalism in history.

A couple of years on, and Journalism is generally considered to be on a high. Reporters are going from place to place, tagging along with one army or another, and constructing comprehensive reports. News company owners predict a shift in how reporters are employed, moving from a more company ethic to more freelancing. HoloNet and Galactic Press bosses have especially commented that they tend to ‘hire’ people who are on or near the conflict, rather then send someone out.

What does the future hold? Who knows. Here at VE Today, the ethic is that all of our information is first hand. Many of our reporters were there during the Third Outer Rim War, telling a tale that needed to be told, and I hope that they will continue serving the people in such a selfless and courageous way.

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