Each month we interview a First Officer of the fleet as part of our “First Officer in Focus” column to get to know them better, and learn more about what their positions entail.
This month, we’re interviewing the First Officer of the starship USS Chin’toka, Commander Jaelyne Isa, a female joined trill.
DeVeau: When last you were interviewed, you had just switched characters, from Serala to Jaelyn Isa. Would you tell us a bit about your current character?
Isa: Sure! Jaelyne Isa is a Joined Trill woman, who originally wasn’t supposed to be joined. But when the previous host of the Isa symbiont passed away in a shuttle accident, Jaelyne was the only person available who could host it, presumably with the intent of surrendering it to a more suitable host after rescue. However, that rescue took too long and the bond became permanent. That was only a little more than a year ago and she is still coming to terms with all the personalities playing around inside her. Also, she had made a career as a counselor and later diplomat, so when she was assigned to take over the role of First Officer of the Chin’toka following Serala’s request for a prolonged Leave of Absence, she at first felt a bit out of place. This was added to by the fact that several of Serala’s long time friends felt a bit of resentment toward her for replacing their friend – though hopefully she’s winning them over. Others have been more welcoming and that has helped her become more comfortable. She’s now on her second mission with the crew and settling a bit more into her new role.
What are some of the biggest differences between Serala and Isa, beyond the obvious?
Well, to put it succinctly, they are largely polar opposites, though they do have some similarities as well.
Serala came up through Security and Tactical, with a brief stint as a Strategic Operations officer before becoming the First Officer. She has a bit of a temper problem that she’s been working on throughout her career, and one consequence of this was when she had a run-in with a fellow (and technically more senior officer) which culminated in what is now known as the Perkins Diplomatic Maneuver. (She gave him a perfect palm strike in his nose, breaking it – but the man had it coming! He was risking a very delicate situation with his whining and superiority complex)[I don’t recommend this, in case anyone is considering it. Serala did suffer consequences for her actions, namely being removed from her position as Chief Tactical Officer and mandatory counseling for anger management]. Seriously, though, she has become calmer over the years, and some (perhaps even a lot) of it has to do with the birth of her daughter. Another thing that is very noteworthy about Serala is that she is extremely committed to her sense of duty and honor, a gift from her Romulan mother, and it has led to a few internal conflicts over the years.
Jaelyne, on the other hand, owing largely to her training and experience as a counselor and diplomat, is more relaxed and calm. She’s still dedicated to ensuring she does a good job – and right now may be overdoing it a bit – but that is largely because she is trying to prove to herself and the crew that she belongs in the job. Otherwise, she generally tries to be outgoing and charming and normally can make friends easily (you know, when they aren’t holding grudges against her).
However, Jaelyne inwardly struggles with self-confidence and self-worth issues, and this is pretty much in direct contrast to Serala, who is for the most part self-confident and self-assured. Losing her husband has undermined that to some degree, but at the core Serala remains steadfast. Jaelyne’s feelings of insecurity and lack of worth started when she was rejected by the Symbiosis Commission and has haunted her throughout her career. And while this has also proven to be a good motivator for her performance, it has also been a source of internal stress. As a counselor herself, she can recognize the issue and know that it’s not healthy for her, but that same condition is also driving her to not seek treatment for it. It’s something I am hoping to explore with her as time goes on.
And finally, I would say the biggest contrast is that Serala is more militaristic and combat-oriented, whereas Jaelyne is the opposite with her priority being peace and harmony.
What types of adventures has Isa been on since you started playing Isa?
Well, ironically – or maybe not – the two missions she has been on both have had elements of diplomacy in them, which has made her feel more useful. In the first one, the crew wound up making contact with a new species that at first had mistaken them for Romulans (probably a good thing Serala wasn’t around for that one!) – and kidnapped a few of the crew and removed their memories. In the end, it was diplomacy that resolved that one and the crew left on good terms with the new species.
Our current mission is a bit of an attempt to mediate a dispute between two Al-Leyan factions who just can’t seem to see eye to eye on one critical issue – an issue that is only now starting to be fully revealed. Though it wasn’t the original intent of the crew, they inadvertently found themselves drawn into the conflict and are hoping they can mediate an agreement between them.
Our shore leave between those two missions was interesting, and for Jaelyne the highlight was definitely the party at the caldera of the Dragonmount, an inactive volcano that they had discovered on Shemsh where the new Federation colony is being built. It was during this time that she was able to connect with a few of the crew and maybe start to build bridges with the rest. She’s hoping that this will continue when the crew next has some down time.
What is the hardest part of being a First Officer?
I am sure every First Officer will probably give you a different answer, but for me it’s really finding things to do. I might have mentioned this in a previous interview, but I sometimes get stuck finding tasks on the bridge when all the stations are manned and Captain Mei’konda is present. I don’t want to step on his prerogative, nor override anyone else’s specialties, so I occasionally find myself at an impasse. However, I have recently come up with a solution to this.
The first part of it is that I have to remember that the Captain leans on his First Officer IC as much as OOC, and it’s okay for me to take charge a bit, but still leave room for the Captain to give his input or orders.
The other part, and I don’t know how many other ships have this option, but our ship has a small complement of fighter craft and when combat situations occur, I have Jaelyne assume the coordination of those ships. Technically, it should probably fall to either the Tactical officer or the HCO, but they’ve been more than obliging with letting Isa have that role.
OOC-wise, I haven’t had too many challenges as First Officer, and maybe I have just been lucky. Sometimes, I do have a hard time finding the time to take care of some OOC responsibilities, but this has more to do with my RL obligations than anything else.
You’ve been a first officer for two years now. What have you learned about your role during that time?
The first thing I learned was to be ready to step up at a moment’s notice. And I mean that quite literally. I was in a position where my CO at the time had suddenly resigned and I had to step up and take over until we were given Capt. Mei’konda as our new Captain.
Another thing that I didn’t realize at first was just how involved a First Officer is with the Captain’s Council. It’s very humbling to me to be able to have a voice in decisions that affect our community as a whole. I have also had to learn to accept that my suggestions may not always be implemented, but they are still valuable. Everyone’s ideas get considered and sometimes we may go a different direction than I had considered, and this means we have a better resolution than I would have come to on my own. This translates down to the ship level as well, because it’s equally important to listen to the ship’s staff and crew and understand that they may have even better ideas than I might have. Communication is essential.
Thanks for your time, Commander Isa!
You can read more about Commander Jaelyne Isa on the wiki.