Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight into what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles, and what’s been happening under their command.
This month, we’re interviewing the Commanding Officer of the starship USS Oumuamua, Commodore Ossa V’Airu, a Betazoid/Vulcan hybrid.
DeVeau: Last time we did a Captain’s Corner interview, you were playing a different character. Would you mind telling us a bit about your latest character – Commodore Ossa V’Airu?
V’Airu: Absolutely. Ossa checks off a lot of character types and traits that I hadn’t been able to play yet – she’s an older officer, she’s not human, and she’s a veteran. The final point is the one I really wanted to explore with the current arc on the ship, which includes the ‘Oumuamua succeeding the Thor: We’ve continued to explore the Gamma Quadrant, and have discovered an organization that calls itself the United Dominion of Planets (UDP), made up of some former Dominion members but patterned on the Federation. Ossa’s central conflict is figuring out how to be the spearhead of Starfleet’s effort to understand and engage with the UDP while also exploring and overcoming her unresolved tensions with what happened during the Dominion War.
What made you decide to switch to V’Airu from your long-time character, Aron Kells?
I’m a notorious character-hopper! I like to play one character for a year or two, explore their development and maybe complete a couple of character arcs, and then switch to someone else. I’ve definitely played Kells most often, including about for the two years prior to inventing and adopting Ossa, but writing for him was becoming a little stale and I wanted to introduce a character with more direct stakes in the Gamma Quadrant stories I was interested in exploring.
You were also commanding a different ship and have since changed to the USS Oumuamua. Would you talk about your decision to move to a new vessel?
For sure! I ship-hop as often as I character-hop, and I was eager to explore a Luna class after the Titan’s appearance in the first season of Lower Decks. One of my favorite things to do is invent new ships (including sometimes some non-canon designs), especially because it’s one of the best collaborative processes we have at 118. I usually sketch out the general idea of the ship and then ask others to help. For example, this time around, and following its appearance on Prodigy, we had a really fun conversation about shuttle printers and support vessels on the ‘Oumuamua. Thinking and rethinking ships with other passionate folks and the most recent Trek is always really fun!
What are some differences between the USS Thor and the USS Oumuamua?
The Thor’s a big bruiser, a capital ship that honestly was a bit too powerful than what I go for. The ships I prefer tend to be some combination of slower, older, and weaker because more vulnerabilities equal more storytelling potential. The ‘Oumuamua is still a multipurpose explorer, and it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at (see again the Titan’s appearance on Lower Decks!), but it’s not the baddest ship in the neighborhood. My IC justification was that the Thor’s extended presence in volatile Gamma Quadrant geopolitics could look terrible – a big Starfleet warship just tooling around – and I still feel like that’s reasonable, but I also just wanted a ship that had more limitations than a Vesta class.
Currently, the USS Oumaumua is in the Gamma Quadrant. What are your goals for exploring that area of the Star Trek universe?
Since we’re in the Gamma Quadrant now, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that DS9 was my favorite series of the 80s/90s/00s era of Trek (I would’ve said my favorite series, but some of the modern series are really making their own cases). We are seeing some exploration in the modern series about what’s happening in the Trek universe, but by and large, those are newer stories – and I’ve always been really curious about what happened to the Dominion’s sphere of influence after the Dominion War. The Dominion was a huge, old power, and what have the 20 years since its fall looked like? Those stories are the ones I’m really interested in exploring!
What is the most memorable mission you’ve had over the last year, either on the Thor or the Oumuamua?
I’m going to cheat slightly and go back a little further to July and August of 2021 because my favorite recent mission was “The Mugato and the Bunnicorn” (https://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=The_Mugato_and_the_Bunnicorn_(USS_Thor)) on the Thor. It was a deceptively simple “bottle” mission, in which we split the crew between two ships (the Thor and the NPC ship Nashira) to simulate a conflict of the sort the ships might experience in the Gamma Quadrant. It was great because it was a direct conflict between our characters, but not in a way that was interpersonal: it was all about the officers doing their very best to excel, and it was really fun to both write for and read how others presented their characters at their peaks.
Thanks for your time, Commodore V’Airu!
You can read more about Commodore V’Airu on the wiki.