Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on 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 Denali Station, Fleet Captain Oddas Aria, a Bajoran female.
DeVeau: It’s that time of year again! Welcome back, Nicholas! We learned more about you from your last interview. Would you be willing to share information about your career path? What got you interested in the field, and what’s been your favorite project to work on? Anything else you’d like to share?
Oddas: Sure – though I’m not sure if it’s terribly interesting. I’ve lived in Florida almost all my life, and most of that on what’s known as the ‘Space Coast’. During my Junior year of high school, I was on the Programming Team (yes, it’s a real thing) and then encouraged to apply for a paid Summer Internship at NASA. I got it, and besides a very cool first entry on my resume, got to see what it would be like to do it full-time.
After that I went to college, got out, worked briefly for a different college doing all kinds of software development and eventually transitioned to, mostly, a contracting kind of role where I get hired out to different firms to do what they need done. In that path I went from that college back to NASA, to Alaska where most of my work was for other government clients and Natural Resource groups (think Native Alaskan conglomerates who want to steward their fisheries, forests and so on), back to Florida when personal circumstances warranted it – and remote work made it possible, where I’ve worked for big Health Concerns and am now working mostly for big government agencies.
My official title is ‘Senior Full Stack Developer/Architect/Engineer’ – which just means I don’t specialize in any piece of software development. I joke that I’ve been doing it long enough at this point that specialization wasn’t an option when I started.
As far as favorite projects, that’s tough. One, though, was my first. During my internship, I was doing a very minor part on a piece of software that analyzed sensor data on Orbiters to determine, in real-time, if they should launch or not. We were having problems with our data, and I was sent to collect a new batch, without realizing they were sending me to the Hanger to get it, directly from the Columbia. I was halfway up a ladder before I realized I was looking down into the cockpit.
Last year at this time, you were in command of the USS Juneau, but have since moved to Denali Station. Would you please talk about why you transitioned to that sort of environment?
My favorite series is still Deep Space Nine, which informed my initial request of posting years ago when I joined the Fleet – the Embassy. I wanted to play something a little more action packed, something where the setting changed, where things had a sense of permanence and where if we made a decision today the default position was ‘we are going to need to deal with that tomorrow’.
When I created the Juneau I also had the idea of the Aavaro Wilds, this area where the Cardassians were basically hanging on by a thread and finally admitting ‘we can’t do this anymore, not after the war’ – which has a lot of ramifications for them, and the Federation if they didn’t want a lawless no-man’s land on their doorstep.
During the course of our adventures in the Wilds, the crew found this Ring fairly early on, and I realized it was a natural progression in-universe and would fit my goals of giving us that permanence I wanted us to have. In-universe, it was likely the Federation would not pass up on sending research crews and more to the location, and from an RP perspective it gives us a lot of creative room to make things happen.
How did Denali come under Federation control?
We’ve played it out as a mutual treaty between the Federation, Cardassian interests, the Mithgiln, and some Ferengi who crashed the initial negotiations. Some of those other parties had more standing than others, but that’s what it is. It’s early yet and we’ve had more issues with pirates than, say, Cardassians.
What makes Denali unique compared to other outposts or starbases?
The station is really a city a little smaller than the size of Manhattan and designed (it seems) with a population of about 2.2million people in mind. Our crew is tiny in comparison, but growing.
There seems to be some remnants of the original builders around – an AI that has woken up once and is being researched, and some artifacts scattered here and there.
Additionally, it is resting on a ‘Dyson Ring’ or a ‘Niven Ring’ – a large artificial structure 1 AU in diameter complete with 24,000 planets worth of mountains, streams, weather and so on. In addition to all the regular challenges that brings – and opportunities for role playing – as one of my officers puts it, “Starfleet would look like a schmuck if they thought they could claim all of that”.
What are some of the ways you and your crew have made Denali your/their own?
We’ve claimed core buildings as purely Starfleet facilities – Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Soldotna. Quarters are big enough that some have expanded to multiple floors and indulged in indoor flight.
There are also some entertainment venues coming to town, including one already open offering gambling, holosuites and more called Möbius. We’ve opened multiple beaches and parks.
I (Aria) have taken over a building for spacecraft design and repair off the books – the Skunkworks.
Additionally, we’ve taken advantage of some of the little things we’ve noticed from the new Picard Series and incorporated them. For instance, due to the size of the city we’ve begun installing a set of transporter arches, or doorways, that move players instantly, like a public transit system.
What are some plans that you have for Denali and its residents in the next year?
Aside from building out the city more, we plan to explore how our extended presence is affecting other facilities in the Wilds – for better or worse. We also have ships at our disposal, which we plan to use for some stories to stretch our legs.
I’m also hoping to tell a story about a previously met group, helped by the Juneau, who might want to take advantage of some of all that space on the Ring.
Finally, I’ve kicked an idea around with some of the staff about a cross-play event that would take place at the Ring, which I hope will be fun. I hope to get the details for that out soon.
Thanks for your time, Captain Oddas!
You can read more about Fleet Captain Oddas Aria on the wiki.