StarBase 118 Operations is the oldest simming installation in the UFoP: Starbase 118 fleet, with her first Yahoo! group post in May 1998. In the past fourteen years, Ops has had many commanding officers, and now Ops’s former executive officer and 2011’s recipient of the Rising Star Award, Kalianna Nicholotti. Kali and her writer kindly answered some questions about this inheritance, and about former Ops CO Andrus Jaxx’s launch aboard the USS Apollo.
What in-character circumstances led Kali to this command position?
The IC circumstances of Kali taking command have pretty much been building up over time. Jaxx is an amazing leader IC and OOC, and in both areas he has slowly introduced me to more and more until one day I look up and I’m quite capable of juggling the various things that need to be juggled in order to successfully serve as a commanding officer. Sure, stepping into the position officially is taking things to a whole new level, but both Jay [ed. note: Jay= Capt. Andrus Jaxx] and I know that it is something I am well prepared for. Likewise, Jaxx has done the same for Kali IC, so when the orders come through, it won’t be a huge surprise.
What makes Kali the best choice for the position?
I actually envy Kali in some ways. She’s grown far beyond the initial framework I had created her with when I originally went through the academy and in many ways it has led up to this, her defining moment, as she steps into command. In the end, Kali just is a great leader. I have other characters, one I even tried to write in the role of first officer, but in the end they just weren’t the kind of leader that Kali turned out to be. She is kind, yet firm, compassionate without being a pushover, experienced in many aspects of things but careful to ask for help when she needs it. She knows her own deficiencies and she values the opinions of those who serve under her. She often sees her role as to serve those under her and help them attain new heights, rather than to drag them in one direction or another or simply telling them what to do.
What are your out-of-character feelings? What rewards and challenges do you anticipate?
Well, after serving under Captain Jaxx for most of my career in Starbase 118, I have a feeling that I’m losing a connection and a support system that has always been there. At the same time, the connection and support is still there, just not on the same ship. I think in a way, he will always be my mentor. I’m very excited that he gets the ship he wants and is able to move on and grow as I also move on and grow. I think we are both very much looking forward to the future on our respective divergent paths. As far as challenges go, the Starbase comes with a preset amount of challenges that we’ll have to get over. The biggest challenge is going to be the size of the station and keeping everyone involved despite the distance between departments, while the shortage of higher ranked, experienced players comes in at a close second. I am confident, however, that we will be just fine though. Despite the high number of Ensigns aboard, they are all involved and they’ve each brought something unique and special to the ship that gives me confidence without having a lot of Lieutenant Commanders around. As far as rewards go, the biggest reward to me is when a member of the crew comes to me and tells me how much fun they are having, how they are enjoying the plot, or how easy/simple/fast it is to get involved, jump in, etc. It’s the compliments I get and the positive feedback about the fleet and the ship that makes the whole thing worth it. To see the officers under my command grow into roles that they might have only dreamed of at one time or to see them take on a project OOC or help with a team and then really get involved; all of that makes my job well worth any trouble. =)
What will be Ops’s first mission under Kali’s command?
Ops’ first mission was actually conceived by one of those new ensigns I was talking about earlier. It ties in with a side plot he introduced shortly after he came aboard where some of the Victory’s sub-processors have been sabotaged in such a way that almost no one would have found the damage until it was too late. Not knowing that the sabotage was found, a rogue group of Romulans vying for control of the Empire like many other factions launches an attack on the Starbase and a strategic few border colonies in an attempt at destabilizing the sector before fading back into the shadows. Of course our job is to find out the who’s, why’s, and the how to stop it. The mission will not be tied to the Apollo.
Will the Apollo/Ops split divide the crews in half, or will the crew of the Apollo be recruited from other ships, as was done with the USS Aurora/Avandar?
This isn’t entirely a true split – we are still getting volunteers from around the fleet to fill in holes where we need more officers. As some of the ships in the fleet are overly staffed, we’ve not only taken in the new Ensigns from the Academy, but we’re taking on some of the excess from other ships that might need a few less people to make things manageable. Research shows that crews are more cohesive around certain numbers, so allowing the numbers to return to those levels only helps the Fleet as a whole.
Tell me a bit about Kali’s in-character feelings, especially regarding the recent birth of the twins of Tressa and Andrus Jaxx.
I feel sad for Kali on this aspect. Tressa, Jaxx, and their new children are the only real family Kali has known for most of her career. When she was first assigned to the Resolution, Kali saved Jaxx’s life and died in the process. An artificial heart now keeps her alive, but the event built a bond between the two characters that will make this a very difficult thing for Kali to do. A short time later, during a mission in the Azure nebula, Kali saved the life of Tressa after she was nearly killed in a Romulan attack on a shuttlecraft she was in. This time Kali didn’t have to put herself in danger though, as she was serving as the medical officer on the Victory when it happened. Regardless, Kali and Tressa are extremely close, as are Kali and Jaxx (they have this brother/sister thing going on since she took the knife for him). In fact, their daughter, McKenzie Kalianna was named after Kali, so this whole thing is going to be very hard on Kali. But, being the resilient and tough woman she is (much tougher than I), I have no doubt that she will find a way to stay in touch while enjoying her new life as the CO of Starbase 118.
We wish Commander Kalianna Nicholotti and the writers behind the crew of StarBase 118 Ops the best of luck on the newest chapter of their journey! If you’d like to know more, you can always visit Ops’s wiki page, or keep up with Ops’s adventures on its Yahoo! group.