A Modest Proposal: Saving Mr. LaFong (April 1, 2017)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!



We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

Bonjour, Lieutenant. You are called PRANKSTER, non? I am called Angel.” - Captain Jeanette “Angel” Devereaux, TCS Tiger’s Claw

SEIZE THAT MAN! No, not because he intends to disrupt a plot to start a war with the Border Worlds… but because he is an imposter! The dashing, young blue-haired pilot chatting with Angel about statistics and Shotglass about space drinks (or for Super Nintendo veterans, space desserts) is not future destroyer of worlds Christopher “Maverick” Blair at all… he is Carl “Prankster” LaFong! For too long, the Wing Community has wilfully ignored the great crisis of our age, the multi-Blair issue (aka the Blairadox.) With this post, that all changes.

It is an established fact that the player character in the original Wing Commander did not initially have a name and that because of this fact later adaptations and updates that might need to refer to him took many different and seemingly irreconcilable tacts for referring to him before Wing Commander III introduced us to Christopher Blair in the form of Mark Hamill. Today, we propose that the hero of Wing Commander I, The Secret Missions and The Secret Missions 2: Crusade is not and was not ever Christopher Blair.

We propose that the hero of Wing Commander I and the two addons is and always must be Carl LaFong. LaFong is the author of the first two sections of the Ultimate Strategy Guide and he is the man who flew missions like Enyo 1 and Kurasawa 2. Christopher Blair, then, is the character introduced in “Red and Blue” and the 1999 movie. He is a fellow Tiger’s Claw pilot, he attended the same class as Maniac and Prankster at the Academy and he was present for the Vega Campaign. But his early adventures are told exclusively in the movie and on Wing Commander Academy.

Why is all of this a problem?

The biggest issue caused by the Blair retcon is that it invalidates Mike Harrison’s seminal Wing Commander I & II: The Ultimate Strategy Guide. As was common for top tier hint books of the day, the Ultimate Strategy Guide (henceforth referred to as USG) adapted the games it was discussing as a prose story. In a very real sense, the USG is the first Wing Commander novel. But it isn’t a story about the exploits of Maverick Blair… it’s the memoirs, written well after the war, of one Carl T. LaFong. The guide covers LaFong’s early years at the Academy and then his combat missions.

More than any other Wing Commander volume, the guide has informed later material. Much of it was printed wholesale in Origin’s licensor bible and as a result it is referred to throughout supporting material, from obscure references in the Customizable Card Game (“The Maniac Solution” and many others) to helping form the conceptual basis for the Academy animated series and even the Maniac/Blair relationship that formed the heart of the 1999 film. In short, the book is a massive part of Wing Commander’s canon and history, a major influencer on the series… and it is not something we should delete because later stories needed to specify more about the era!

This solution is not just about preserving a historical artifact, it is about correcting the history of the Wing Commander Universe itself. Later stories, like the TV show and movie, did not believe they needed to respect Wing Commander I as a strict story at all, and instead they gave the character a new backstory and new relationships with the Tiger’s Claw pilots. One of the most significant criticisms of the movie is that Blair and Angel are too close, that Blair should know Paladin was a spy in Wing Commander I, that the original characters should continue to rag on him for his later-established heritage and the like. But none of that matters if you aren’t Blair in the game! Carl LaFong isn’t a Pilgrim, he didn’t have a relationship with Angel and he has no idea Paladin is secretly with Naval Intelligence.

The timeline, too, matters. Even though it does not feature a direct linear story like later games, Wing Commander I has a fairly well established timeline. With the additional context of the UCG, Claw Marks and other sources, the 40 missions exist relative to one another in a fairly established story that happens at a specific time. Here again, later sources have provided disruption. Especially: the movie novel Pilgrim Stars, which puts Blair and company in captivity aboard a Pilgrim supercruiser for weeks in the middle of the game. That’s okay, we can now state, because Carl LaFong was still flying off the Tiger’s Claw and fighting the Vega Campaign at that time!

Let us continue by walking through a list of the ‘other Blairs’ that have appeared over time.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces










  • $R $C $N aka Bluehair (1990): GAME OVER. At least, so begins our saga: following a failed attempt at the trainsim, our hero is prompted to enter his name for a high score. And in 1990 that name was your own. There could certainly be an argument that the original intend to the character was that he had to be ‘you’; $N was a near-silent protagonist intended to connect you to the game world and nothing else. To this, I would say only that the development of LaFong was necessary for telling the history of the world after the fact… but that we should also encourage anyone to imagine that THEY (be they Mark “Big Dog” Minasi or or Rolf “Snake” Muesel or Ben “Loaf” Lesnick) are part of the Tiger’s Claw’s 104-pilot complement. (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
  • Captain “Dipstick” Dipstick (1990): Looking ‘under the hood’ reveals something interesting about the developers INTENT for the player character. Wing Commaner I features a ‘mouth script’ that tells the game what sounds the talking heads’ should be mouthing for each piece of text they read. The system does not take into effect variables, so they mouth the same thing for every rank, callsign and name. And the script reads? You are always a Captain… and always a Dipstick. (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
  • Arturo “Bluehair” Blair (1990): Soon after the original game’s launch, it became well known (via Compuserv interactions with the dev team) that the character was informally referred to by the team as BLUEHAIR because of his beautiful blue locks The fan community picked up on this and immediately took it to heart. The inaugural issue of Point of Origin (Origin’s internal newsletter) further reveals that he has been dubbed “Arturo Blair,’ shorthand for Our Hero Blue Hair. Most interesting of all, the context of the mention in Point of Origin was that the company was holding a contest to decide the ‘real’ Blair for the strategy guide… who would, of course, be Carl LaFong! (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
  • Carl “Prankster” LaFong (1991): Discussed above. Carl LaFong is the protagonist of the Wing Commander I & II Ultimate Strategy Guide, theoretically the author of the book and the character whose life story the in-lore Wing Commander games were based on. He is named after a joke from a W.C. (HAH) Fields movie (“It’s a Gift”) in which one character is always looking for Mr. LaFong (who, Godot-style, never appears.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
  • “Falcon”/“Phoenix” (1992): The Wing Commander series bible originates this odd pair of names, claiming that the player character was initially ‘Falcon’ and then after the events of Wing Commander II he changed his callsign to Phoenix. This would all be development history except that the novel End Run actually referenced the name Phoenix intending to refer to the early events of Wing Commander II. Luckily, the intent here must already be ignored as it causes another continuity error: Jason Bondarevsky “remembers” the event despite not having been on the Concordia at the time. It must refer to a different pilot named Phoenix who saved the Concordia (it WAS always getting into trouble) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
  • Jack A. Lombard (1993): Jack Lombard is the first of several ‘near Blairs’ introduced for Wing Commander spinoff games. Wing Commander Academy (the 1992 game) needed a voice familiar to players who would have some connection to the wingmen and ships available in the mission builder… and so the manual invents Jack Lombard, anohther Confederation fighter pilot who served with Angel, Maniac, Hobbes and the like. Lombard ends up disabled and unable to fly, so he couldn’t have ever completely BEEN Blair… but he’s written to imply that he is. (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
  • Lyle “Eagle” Starbuck (1994): There’s no easy way to say this, so we’ll come right out: the Wing Commander port for the Japanese MegaCD console names the character Lyle “Eagle” Starbuck. We’re sorry. We’re so sorry. (STATUS: ??????????)
  • “Hotshot” (1994): The English language release, then, is much kinder: it simply replaces all references to the name and callsign of the character with ‘Hotshot.’ We can assume here that it’s simply a nickname. (STATUS: NICKNAME FOR CARL LAFONG)
  • Jacorski? (1994): The second major ‘near Blair’ is the potentially unnamed commander of the TCS Lexington’s mission in Wing Commander Armada. Like Blair, he was a Concordia pilot who made an enemy of Admiral Tolwyn. That was all, again, to connect us to the unseen character and the nature of the game’s suicide mission. (The character’s logs are unsigned, but another element of Voices of War refers to “Jacorski” as ‘the big man,’ implying that might be the commander.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
  • Chris “Maverick” Roberts (1994): Perliminary sketches for Wing Commander III (concept art, costume plans, etc.) use series creator Chris Roberts’ name. There was never a plan to use this as the official name, but there are a number of drawings of the character with ‘Roberts’ as his nametag. (STATUS: NON-CANON DEVELOPMENT BLAIR)
  • Christopher “Maverick” Blair (1994) The big man! Blair was first mentioned by name in Wing Commander Freedom Flight, a nod to the internal Arturo Blair name. This reference did not necessarily connect back to the player (he’s just a Tiger’s Claw pilot said to be lucky), though it was intended. Blair earned his full name (but did not lock down his callsign) in Wing Commander III in 1994 and then became ‘Maverick’ (and later Pilgrim for a time) starting with Wing Commander Academy (the show.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
  • “Maverick” Armstrong (1995) The Super Wing Commander remake of the original game names the character ‘Maverick’... but changes the last name to Armstrong! Later sources retcon Armstrong to be a fellow Tiger’s Claw pilot who flew the ‘Secret Missions 1.5’ storyline. (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
  • Colonel Hart (1995) - Another simple ‘near Blair’; Colonel Hart was the voice of the Wing Commander III Authorized Combat Guide. He is never explicitly said to be Blair, but he seems to be able to reference everything Blair has experienced very readily (ie, he is implied to also have been serving as a Colonel on the Victory.) (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)


Is there any other evidence that supports this theory?
  • Later sources consider Blair, Armstrong and LaFong separate (but similar) characters. The review blurb for Maniac’s book in Star*Soldier mentions all three in the same breath.
  • The idea of creating ‘near Blair’ characters for Armada, Academy and the Wing Commander III Authorized Combat Guide tells us that there is no real issue having ‘other pilots’ who are Tiger’s Claw veterans with the shared history. Similarly, we note the pains stories like Freedom Flight went through to AVOID stepping on the history of the WC1 player (such as introducing Hunter as a sort of alternative protagonist.)
  • Wing Commander Academy was intended to reboot Wing Commander I and replace Blair’s story with a new telling of Secret Missions 2. Note the redesign of the character to look like Mark Hamill (while Maniac stays similar.) The original pitch was also explicitly set in 2655 and involved the Firekkan crisis.
    Carl LaFong isn’t dead. His book is written in the 2700s long after the Kilrathi War has ended.. and long after Blair seemingly died in the Nephilim wormhole!
    Origin continued to assign the WC1 story to other character (Armstrong) AFTER Wing Commander III was developed and Blair was established to be the name of the player.
  • Wing Commander Prophecy introduces a new player character to the ‘main’ series of games, suggesting that there does not need to be ‘one’ character from game to game.
  • Existing published Wing Commander timelines explicitly avoid mentioning Blair in their entries for the Vega Campaign.
  • The final full biography of Blair, published in the Wing Commander Prophecy guide DOES NOT MENTION the destruction of the Sivar, the victory at Venice or Firekka. Later sources are entirely consistent in NOT referencing the events of Wing Commander I in Blair’s history, only that he was on the Tiger’s Claw.

What About…?

  • … Blair’s appearance in Wing Commander II. He looks like an older version of the Wing Commander I character, right? WRONG! The first scenes of Wing Commander II take place in 2656… and when Blair faces Tolwyn in his office, he looks just like he does a decade later!
  • … the Wing Commander II section of the Ultimate Strategy Guide. We propose that the ‘Wing Commander II’ section is BLAIR’s autobiography rather than saying that LaFong was also a traitor who had a relationship with Angel. (Later material does establish pretty clearly that Blair IS the character in WC2; his treason is referenced constantly in novels and later stories… his victory in the Vega Campaign is not.) Supporting this idea is the coincidence that the Wing Commander 2 section is written very differently, the name LaFong is never mentioned and he is only called “Prankster” twice by a drugged Maniac!

What doesn’t work?

  • The introduction to the Wing Commander I & II Guide is still problematic as it features one paragraph in which LaFong mentions being blamed for the Tiger’s Claw’s destruction. It can be worked around, but it should be noted as it does suggest an intent counter to this retcon.
  • The Kilrathi Saga names - Kilrathi Saga ‘slugs’ in Blair and Maverick as the high score options in its update of Wing Commander I. You have to delete them to set your own name, if you so desire. This seems like a minor issue, since it isn’t locked down in any way.
  • Lyle Starbuck still exists.

In Conclusion…

Now, my beloved countrymen, the decision falls to you. Carl LaFong’s achievements have been wrongfully supplanted and ignored by history. It’s time to make this right, once and for all. Please vote in today’s poll and decide the fate of who we consider the protagonist of Wing Commander I. LaFong vs. Blair, the ultimate showdown. It is time to decide whether or not the Wing Commander Combat Information Center triggers BLAIRXIT.

--
Original update published on April 1, 2017
 
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Blaster

Rear Admiral
LaFong Belongs! I do like the idea of the WC1 player character being a different person than the later games.

I wonder if anyone has mentioned this to Chris Roberts and if so what he thinks about it. I've heard he's not really as obsessed with continuity as many fans are though, if thats true he might not think it's really a big deal.
 
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Bigt028

Rear Admiral
I am very glad to see this post. I have the Wing Commander I & II ultimate guide and always wanted to know who this LaFong guy was. I originally thought he was another character on the Tiger's Claw, but his stories were so detailed regarding Maniac, that I started to think it was another name for Blair, well player 1 or playable character from wing commander 1. Thanks for the explanations.
 

Baggins

Petty Officer
???Maverick??? Armstrong (1995) The Super Wing Commander remake of the original game names the character ???Maverick???... but changes the last name to Armstrong! Later sources retcon Armstrong to be a fellow Tiger???s Claw pilot who flew the ???Secret Missions 1.5??? storyline. (STATUS: CANON CHARACTER)
Speaking of Armstrong... I notice on a number of websites (magazine articles and such) they list his first name as "Jason"... anyone know where that originated from? I couldn't find any lines in the game or manual that mention but I've never played through the entire game, and don't know if the scripts out there are 'complete'.

Lyle ???Eagle??? Starbuck (1994): There???s no easy way to say this, so we???ll come right out: the Wing Commander port for the Japanese MegaCD console names the character Lyle ???Eagle??? Starbuck. We???re sorry. We???re so sorry. (STATUS: ??????????)
Worth noting there is an "Eagle" mentioned in Kilrathi Saga manual as yet another character that pulled pranks in the Academy, and got Christopher Blair blamed for it.

There is also another unnamed Eagle in End Run iirc, or one of the other Wing Commander novels. Someone who transferred over to the Concordia apparently, and he basically killed off in an offhand remark.


I personally like to think these are all the 'same character', the same Eagle.
 

Baggins

Petty Officer
To put more kinks in the theories/retcons, and these things make it far more complicated... There are at least a few more sources that act as 'biographies' for Blair that also place him during the events of Wing Commander 1...

For example the Wing Commander 4 Official Guide has a section called "Previously..." and this section more or less describes Blair in quite a few of the events from the game and the secret missions stuff...

http://wingcommander.wikia.com/wiki/Previously..._(WC4_Guide)

Christopher Blair, at the beginning of Wing Commander I, graduates top of his class from the academy while the Terran-Kilrathi war is in full swing. In recognition of his obvious piloting talent and scholastic achievement, he is assigned to the T.C.S. Tiger's Claw, the largest ship in the Confederation fleet. It is not long before the Tiger's Claw is ordered to Enyo System. Rumor has it that the Kilrathi have an unusually large presence there.

Blair quickly becomes acquainted with the other pilots on board the carrier. Spirit is a defensive young Japanese woman -- and the pilot is assigned to his wing on his first mission. Paladin is a knowledgeable veteran, calm and capable in the roughest siutations. Angel, the French national, he discovers to be strict by-the-book pilot who can be depended on to carry out any order of her wing leader. Bossman, Knight, Hunter and Iceman give him advice on things the Academy couldn't program into his flight simulators. Todd "Maniac" Marshall, the hot-headed fast-talking kid, has been assigned to the Tiger's Claw. Blair and Maniac graduated first and second in their class at the Academy. Blair had hoped for separate assignments.

Blair picks up real-life experience on the escort and routine duties, and soon the Claw is sent to Macauliffe -- clearing the way for an offensive strike against the Kiralthi. After six months, the Tiger's Claw is sent on a seek-and-destroy mission in the Vega Sector. Hidden somewhere is the Kilrathi High Command, and when they make a close pass to the planet Venice, they discover the cats' lair. One fierce battle later, the Kilrathi have come out decidedly second-best. Some begin to hope the war has turned around.
Victory, although always welcome, is far from sweet for the crew of the Tiger's Claw. Bossman, whom Blair has known from nearly his first day on the Claw, is dead. He was killed flying a mission as Angel's wingman. Spirit's fiancé has been captured by the enemy on a remote space station. Maniac is again removed from the flight roster due to his increasing mental instability. Angel is transferred from the Tiger's Claw to the T.C.S. Austin, soon followed by Spirit. It seems that perhaps the only good thing that happens is Blair's promotion to the command of the Tiger's Claw fighter squadr
The Kilrathi Saga Manual itself also has a few 'wrinkles' placing him situations during the WC1 events.

The novels for WC3 and WC4 also place him during the events of WC1 but are not as specific... In one reference it even puts into situation at Gimle that doesn't actually occur in the game...
 
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Baggins

Petty Officer
Have you also noticed that many of the sources don't agree on who was in charge of the pilots that Blair or LaFong was part of in WC1?

Some sources say it was Angel who was the commander, and others say it was Major James Taggert (Wing Commander Prophecy guide and WC3 novel for example, and Super Wing Commander). Some might even suggest it was Bossman (WC 1 & 2 guide does I think)...

Some further thoughts... with James Taggart made Squadron Leader as some sources mention... This cannot occur during the course of the movie trilogy... Taggart is in a worse position than Blair or Maniac even... Blair and Maniac are missing a month or three? Before they return to the Claw... but not counting the fact they are also assigned to the Concordia off and on after they get back as well... The Claw itself is actually mostly assigned around Hell's Kitchen guarding it over the last two books. While Concordia moves roughly around Earth most of the time?

There is basically no time for huge amount of Vega's events to take place during that time either because the Claw's assignments... Plus we have to assume it leaves its station a couple of times to track down some missions in Pleaides Sector (these mostly occur between books, or between chapters so its not too bad).

But this also forgets Taggart... Taggart is gone for most of the books, he's on board Pilgrim's ship until pretty much the last chapter of the last book... He doesn't get back on board until roughly June 2654 (.163, the end of Pilgrim's Truth)... Another thing he is not the Squadron Leader at any point during those books, which is clearly the role that Angel holds. At the end of the third book Taggart even mulls staying with the Confederation and becoming a crew member on the Tiger's Claw.

Now following .163, everyone pretty much settles down finally returning to the Claw in a stable and more 'permanent' manner... This is the only point when Taggart can actually become Squadron leader due to his seniority. This is also the point when WC4 guide and Prophecy Guide (which suggest that he becomes Squadron leader) suggest its at the point he was the squadron leader, when Maniac and Blair truly come on board ("permanently") so to speak. Of course Armstrong comes on board around this time as well... as Taggart is already squadron leader in that game.

It's worth noting that WC4 guide suggests that Venice occurs six months after the beginning o McAuliffe. Now Venice occurs in .287 that is actually in around October... technically its only 5 months between .163 and .287... but let's just assume its a 'rounding up'.... It's not perfect but the dating does more or less 'fit'... if we take that books timing into consideration, but only as estimate... It's only about 2-3 days between McAulliffe and Enyo according to multiple sources including ULT guide, and Super Wing Commander as well (according to a copule of extra lines added)....

But trying to force Vega campaign any point earlier causes problems between the movie novels, and between both Super Wing Commander's intro video, McAulliffe campaign (the first time Paladin appears in the original games campaign, other than in bar in mission 1), and a few other sources where we see that Paladin is clearly a proper crew member...

Claw Marks, and that .110 date remains an issue on multiple fronts... Except that we have to assume Vega Campaign began on .110 but Enyo wasn't completely wrapped up until after .163... after Taggart is actually on the ship...

Ya I know there are still problems with the whole TCSO tour issue... as well... but we have to assume that got 'delayed' as well until around October... There are actually one or two sources that might support TCSO event occurring later in the year actually. Including the LaFong Bible timeline in the WC Bible (granted that timeline has several other 'issues') as well against some timing math problems made from certain references made in the ULT guide...

On a related note this gives time for both Bossman and Knight to 'return' from the dead... as its suggested that Blair and Maniac (and Paladin) met them when he came on board ("returned') the ship in the WC4 guide...


Taggart needs to be figured in to any discussion or any explanation will fall apart... It has to be assumed its always the same Taggart... Ya I know Taggart seems "French" in the movie, but he's still Scottish according to the movie novels (with the same backstory as the one in the games, with 'expansions' the whole Pilgrim heritage thing)... Ya there is a half blind Taggart in Super Wing Commander, but we can't assume that means that is a 'different" taggart either...
 
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Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Speaking of Armstrong... I notice on a number of websites (magazine articles and such) they list his first name as "Jason"... anyone know where that originated from? I couldn't find any lines in the game or manual that mention but I've never played through the entire game, and don't know if the scripts out there are 'complete'.
I do not know of any official source for this. The game never gives him a first name (Wing Commander I never calls for it in the first place.) I see that the actual no foolin' Wikipedia repeats this name... and it's wrong in general ('Armstrong' does not predate Blair in a development sense; Super Wing Commander was developed at the same time as Wing Commander III and even has footage from the WC3 test shoot hidden in the game's files!)

For example the Wing Commander 4 Official Guide has a section called "Previously..." and this section more or less describes Blair in quite a few of the events from the game and the secret missions stuff...
I'd say that all works pretty well; that article tells us that Blair was a pilot on the Tiger's Claw... but it leaves the specifics of the events completely blank. (Remember that in the proposed split, Blair is still a pilot on the Tiger's Claw... he's just not the one who flies those specific missions.) The Tiger's Claw in general (and not Blair specifically) is given the credit for Wing Commander and Secret Missions' ultimate battles:

"After six months, the Tiger's Claw is sent on a seek-and-destroy mission in the Vega Sector. Hidden somewhere is the Kilrathi High Command, and when they make a close pass to the planet Venice, they discover the cats' lair. One fierce battle later, the Kilrathi have come out decidedly second-best. Some begin to hope the war has turned around."

"At last the carrier detects the Sivar, the dreadnought responsible for the carnage at Goddard. A battle ensues which dwarfs anything the Claw has ever seen. Kilrathi fighters swarm around the Confederation ship, hammering away at her defenses. The humahn pilots respond in kind, and eventually punch through the Kilrathi defenses. It is a hard-won battle, but ultimately both the Sivar and the deadly weapon she carried are destroyed."

This was likely intentional; this piece and the Wing Commander III timeline were written when the idea of spltiting the character was being treated more seriously... with Super Wing Commander having just released and the 'reboot' Wing Commander Academy TV concept being in development.

Have you also noticed that many of the sources don't agree on who was in charge of the pilots that Blair or LaFong was part of in WC1?

Some sources say it was Angel who was the commander, and others say it was Major James Taggert (Wing Commander Prophecy guide and WC3 novel for example, and Super Wing Commander). Some might even suggest it was Bossman (WC 1 & 2 guide does I think)...
That's a result of two things: 1) writers not marking a difference between a squadron and a wing and 2) writers forgetting Colonel Halcyon exists. I don't think it's a huge problem overall; we had already established that Colonel Halcyon was fond of changing up his squadron assignments.

Angel, of course, was intended to be the carrier's Wing Commander in the movie... though that was retconned quickly by the adaptation, making her commander of one of the carrier's squadrons. Presumably, all of the "Majors" commanded different squadrons.

As for Paladin specifically... a little more problematic. The quotes:

Prophecy Guide: "[The TCS Tiger's Claw]'s roster of fighter pilots, under the command of Major James Taggart, was legendary"
Heart of the Tiger novel: "'Paladin!' Blair said, saluting the man who had been his first squadron leader on the old Tiger's Claw."

The first suggests he was commanding the wing BEFORE Blair arrived... which does fit with his history, he had served on the 'Claw before (which is mentioned in both the movie and game material.) The second just isn't right (though of course you could see how it might be referring to Blair and Paladin's relationship in the movie...)


Some further thoughts... with James Taggart made Squadron Leader as some sources mention... This cannot occur during the course of the movie trilogy... Taggart is in a worse position than Blair or Maniac even... Blair and Maniac are missing a month or three? Before they return to the Claw... but not counting the fact they are also assigned to the Concordia off and on after they get back as well... The Claw itself is actually mostly assigned around Hell's Kitchen guarding it over the last two books. While Concordia moves roughly around Earth most of the time?
Six weeks for Blair and Maniac (.088-.130) and then two months for Paladin (.88-.158.) I suppose we have to break up the novels and WC1 and see what can be zipped together in a comprehensive 2654 timeline... which sounds like a good weekend project! :)

(For the record, this was our April Fools Post! But it's fun to think about... and I love the discussion. Apologies for the rushed replies to this, will give it much more thought shortly!)

Now following .163, everyone pretty much settles down finally returning to the Claw in a stable and more 'permanent' manner... This is the only point when Taggart can actually become Squadron leader due to his seniority. This is also the point when WC4 guide and Prophecy Guide (which suggest that he becomes Squadron leader) suggest its at the point he was the squadron leader, when Maniac and Blair truly come on board ("permanently") so to speak. Of course Armstrong comes on board around this time as well... as Taggart is already squadron leader in that game.
Venice is a weird one because we have .287 for when the base was discovered... but we also have .325 for when it was destroyed. You can separate the Tiger's Claw and glump everything forward a bit.

But trying to force Vega campaign any point earlier causes problems between the movie novels, and between both Super Wing Commander's intro video, McAulliffe campaign (the first time Paladin appears in the original games campaign), and a few other sources where we see that Paladin is clearly a proper crew member...
The SWC intro is problematic all around... while it takes place in the Enyo System, they talk about a Fralthi target (not discovered yet)... they're flying Rapier IIs (not in service yet)... and the ACTUAL ship they fight is a Snakeir (you know the drill!)


Taggart needs to be figured in to any discussion or any explanation will fall apart... It has to be assumed its always the same Taggart... Ya I know Taggart seems "French" in the movie, but he's still Scottish according to the movie novels (with the same backstory as the one in the games, with 'expansions' the whole Pilgrim heritage thing)... Ya there is a half blind Taggart in Super Wing Commander, but we can't assume that means that is a 'different" taggart either...
I agree 100%; while I kinda think the LaFong thing is a good idea (ducks) I do NOT like the idea of pretending Paladin is multiple people or that the Tiger's Claw is multiple ships. Figuring out the player character is a natural rquirement of turning a game into narrative history... duplicating everything else is going against all intentions.

(I don't think the eye patch is ever a problem, though; I'm half blind and don't wear one anymore... he might just have been injured and is recovering.)
 

Baggins

Petty Officer
I noticed it was an April Fools discussion although technically we have had this discussion on other un-April Fools days as well and it's all fun!

Worth noting that Paladin is at least treated as special in WC1 and SNES secret mission manuals materials as he is described as an "effective Wingleader "(its capitalized in the SNES Secret Missions for whatever reason) in his bio... that may be the whole source of him being a "commander/squadron leader" in the first place. Although those same sources also say you are a Wing Commander as well. We also know there is way more than a single squadron in board the ships and multiple wings. Not counting the times wings and squadrons get misused as terms and sometimes incorrectly merged into meaning roughly the same thing. Or even Wing being something larger than a squadron or made up of multiple squadrons...

http://wingcommander.wikia.com/wiki/Wing

Well I'd say WC4guide only gives us specifics that Blair did also fly with Spirit at Enyo much like LaFong did, and Armstrong as well ;) and maybe Eagle Starbuck. Different missions perhaps but he did fly there, and that both ended up at McCauliffe after that. LaFong can more or less take the roles for most other materials. We also know he flew at the end of Secret Missions 2 in the final battle. But lots of pilots did.

I'm guessing Enyo (Vega) is a popular place and Claw has had to return to certain systems on more than one occasion to clean them out again... kind like those "hills" people had to fight over in Korean War ;) or trenches in WW1... back and forth...

Ya .325 gives a little more time to fit the six months between McAulliffe and Venice date I guess!
 
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Baggins

Petty Officer
Also one of the chapter sections in ULT is called September Blues and kind a dates when Academy year begins iirc. Going from it we can figure that LaFong enter service on the claw perhaps as late as August/September 2654 if his previous school years and time on the Formidable accounted as full years...

And with other things such as his teaching cycle being shortened to get him pilots out into the field faster it's possible the last year was shorter than an actual normal teaching block... so he was on board claw a bit earlier... however we do know he was on the claw either before Bossman "died" as he met him there when he came on board... or he had to also have met "Bossman" after he returned from the "grave/capture/undercover mission, etc" it probably makes more sense if it's after. But Maniacs interactions and timing of getting on board the ship sort of causes issues either way. But at least having him come on board later would be kind of a nice nod to the fact that maniac was already on board when Bluehair "meets" him for the "first time" in the games storyline and introduces himself. However I like to think that introduction actually was with Starbuck and a similar one with Armstrong.

Although the Bible Timeline had him entering much earlier .084 but as mentioned that has other problems. Unless we assume multiple Enyo (and Vega) engagements and he met Taggart shortly before Taggart was captured in .088. But hat still wouldn't fix the problem that that time line places McAuliffir as early as .121-131ish and Taggart is missing already so oops... unless it's a complete different McAullifie engagement without Taggart there and the real main McAullifr engagement is several months later June/Julyish.

As for Armstrong I kind like Jason, maybe someday it can be made "official"! I originally pulled the name from WCNEWs own WC Encyclopedia... but have seen it all over the place since then... So its kinda gained a life of its own.
 
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Baggins

Petty Officer
BTW you also missed another "near Blair'...

http://wingcommander.wikia.com/wiki/Pitak_Puzaki

A Wing Commander of the Eagle's Talon (a "near Tiger's Claw")... and represents the losing campaigns at Hubble's Star and Hell's Kitchen in WC1 ;)... these missions historically actually did happen in the Wing Commander universe just with a different ship! But ultimately still lead into Venice.


Heart of the Tiger novel: "'Paladin!' Blair said, saluting the man who had been his first squadron leader on the old Tiger's Claw."

The first suggests he was commanding the wing BEFORE Blair arrived... which does fit with his history, he had served on the 'Claw before (which is mentioned in both the movie and game material.) The second just isn't right (though of course you could see how it might be referring to Blair and Paladin's relationship in the movie...)
It could be argued that it could also mean he was his first "Squadron leader" upon his 'return' to the Tiger's Claw during the actual Vega Campaign proper... When is he is already made a "Wingleadeer", and is one of the first individuals LaFong, Blair, Starbuck etc run into just before the Enyo series in the game (except for Armstrong he runs into Maniac instead).

(.88-.158.)
BTW, I figure its gotta be after .163 because while that chapter ends on .158. The epilogue is on .163. And that's when Blair technically returns to the Tiger's Claw more or less permanently after all of his 'misadventures'.... Technically we learn in previous Chapter that Taggart has to remain on the Concordia for court-martial and that Obuntu and Blair are allowed to return (it takes them 4 days to return to the Claw).

So technically we don't know when Taggart finally returned to the Claw, but he's again indisposed (this time on Concordia facing court-martial, which we assume he beats). My guess is probably not more than a month more. Maybe in time for him to see off the Pilgrim's final evacuation (the book says that would take a month from around .158, which would be roughly around .188). But maybe Taggart had to return a bit earlier.

Issues...

We have this date given for when Diocuri incident 'begins'... Technically Obuntu and Blair on a shuttle at this point... and won't be back on the Claw for another day...

2654.162 The Kilrathi begin a lend-lease program with non-spacefaring races along the frontier. The primitive natives of the Dioscuri system are armed with surplus Dralthi and ordered to make war against the Confederation.
We have to assume that Kilrathi/Dioscuri started causing problems around .162, but Tiger's Claw doesn't stop the problems until after Blair's return to the claw post .163.

A good spot for Taggart's return maybe after that event, and before .176, but could be as late as the full month after all the pilgrim's retreat upwards of .188 (between Oasis and Greenhouse events in the Academy show?)..... At least for a few of these later episodes of the Wing Commander show the Ship can be flying around Pleiades Sector before it heads back to Vega, and starts Enyo proper.

But one has to guess Pleiades Sector must be 'very close' to Vega or there are jumpnodes/wormholes linked to Vega, to make these travels between Vega and Pleides a quick day trip (and avoid long passages of normal space travel, taking round about routes)! End of the Movie Novel, and between Pilgrim Stars and one of the episodes of Academy more or less hit on the same day or two IIRC.... It still feels a bit inefficient and 'forced' as a continuity fix, on some levels when you figure how many times they have to travel between sectors to fit in 'overlapping stories'.

2654.176 Admiral Rhea Bergstrom attempts to trap a Kilrathi fleet in the Seti Beta system using the Tiger’s Claw as bait. Prince Thrakhath turns the tables, catching the Trafalgar battlegroup in a pincer. Bergstrom’s carrier and her escorts are destroyed.
But ultimately this means that Taggart is nowhere near the Claw from .088 to after .163 and who knows how much longer... I realize we don't see him on the Academy TV show either, but we have to assume he's there somewhere in the background (in the later episodes)...

Or we run out of the good 'six months' (WC4 approximate of how long the main Vega Campaign took, and LaFong's account makes the main Vega Campaign fairly linear, (tying in every system from the game) with little room for 'detours' along the way (with the exceptions of one or two points where we lose LaFong's perspective either because he's sick or flying cargo somewhere, or on R&R off-ship (and I think Iceman and Spirit each becomes the token voluntary 'near-Blair", for those chapters).

Although yes it can be fudged a little to allow those last couple of Pleiades Sector Academy episodes as needs be somewhere between the jumps to other sectors... but La Fong for the most part is pretty clear about his stating that the ship left from 'one place', and traveled 'elsewhere' directly (however the whole jumping out of the Sector during a war in one sector, seems a bit 'odd' to me all around).

Note: I wish academy events were just moved before the films or closer to each other in general... maybe over the same 'month' with no overlapping the film or the Vega Campaign in WC1.... When the books state that Tiger's Claw was stationed at Hell's Kitchen guarding the jump nodes from Kilrathi or Pilgrim incursion or what not, it doesn't make much sense for it to go on a joy ride in another Sector altogether on a 'day trip' only to return later. I suppose its ok once the task force/fleet is in place in the system... but Tiger's Claw importance there is basically as the command ship keeping that taskforce 'safe'... So it leaving for random 'training' missions for the Cadet Academy in another sector seems a bit odd (especially when the novels seem to suggest that Tiger's Claw was stationed without leaving, except for a few examples where it is specifically tracking Kilrathi/others movements in nearby systems to Hell's Kitchen).

Assuming they were all within a month while Taggart is under court martial for example could solve a lot of issues! (ya I know there is a lot of issues with technology and ships appearing that shouldn't technically 'exist yet' but it is what it is, and those issues already exist 'regardless')... Or alternatively placing most of the series after the Vega Campaign in 2655 (and/or between Secret Missions) and just maintain the original intent of the press release/Academy Bible on some level...

The only one that real odd one out is Red and Blue, and that's already settled before the movies (according to both the Movie handbook and the novel), so it doesn't cause much of an issue (other than Maniac's locations between Academy, Movies, and some other minor sources, don't always match up with where he's supposed to be according to LaFong's accounts and the timing for the Formidable).
 
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Baggins

Petty Officer
Yes I know about WCPedia it's locked out behind a invite wall and I've never been able to get an invite to be able to edit it. And it's also not as comprehensive a lot more stubs, and incomplete bios. The wikia one is probably a bit more comprehensive by this point. Also, since I've taken over as the main admin there I've also tried to have it follow the same canon policies as this site. I link back to this resource constantly out of respect.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
It's not behind an invite wall. We confirm applications but as long as you aren't a bot, I confirm them. You've actually had an account on it since September 2013. So, you can login and work on stuff.

WCPedia is as incomplete as it is because, unfortunately, other things have come up over the years. Just seems abit silly to have two wikis when we have one here that we have complete control over and without all those ads and stuff.
 
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