Captain’s Corner: Ossa V’Airu, USS Oumuamua

Captain’s Corner: Ossa V’Airu, USS Oumuamua

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 the starship USS Oumuamua (Oh-moo-uh-moo-uh),  Commodore Ossa V’Airu, a Betazoid/Vulcan female. 

DeVeau: You’ve shared about yourself in past interviews, would you be willing to go more in depth about your career and what you do?

V’Airu: No, and how dare you?!

Kidding, kidding.

Yeah, a lot of what was true back then is still true. I’m still mostly a part-time faculty member, with a secondary responsibility of mentoring community college transfer students intending to earn university degrees in STEM fields. This is my third year of following my first cohort of those students, so mostly I have tea with those students once a week as they’re all getting ready to graduate. 

My teaching is all over the place, and in any given semester I might teach an introductory class about geography of the Earth system alongside an advanced class on plant ecophysiology in the context of the changing climate. I’m also a member of some faculty groups focused on exploring generative AI in higher ed as of this summer, and that’s always interesting. We’re working right now on exploring the role AI can play in teaching, and I’ll probably be in a case study that looks at using AI to tailor students’ experiences in a class, so that they work more with remedial or challenging material based on their first few weeks.

Outside of that, my hobbies include lots of writing (obviously) and some visual arts, including photography and traditional art. I no longer host a podcast, but I read a ton. I read a couple hundred books a year, from pop science to poetry collections, and especially a lot of science fiction & fantasy, so if you ever need a book recommendation, I’m sure I know something for you.

One of the things you mentioned in our last interview is you wanted to play a character that had more direct stakes in the Gamma Quadrant.  Could you expound on that?

The character in question was very much aspirational at that point, but now I’ve been writing her for over a year – Ossa V’Airu is a Vulcan/Betazoid hybrid who was a tactical officer through the Dominion War and ended up with a battlefield command during Operation Return. She’s a particularly interesting character to me because I write her as a v’tosh ka’tur, a Vulcan who rejects the teachings of Surak and embraces her emotions. Ossa grew up on Betazed and so never had the traditional Vulcan upbringing, so she’s emotional – but still pretty stoic, given her background in command and her status as a veteran.

How has V’Airu changed over the last year? 

She’s a very experienced  officer, and she was first thrust into command back in the 2370s, during the Dominion War. However, she’s been piloting a desk for a couple of decades, and when I first “re-”activated her (read: adopted her as my PC), I played with the oddity of returning to command after so long away. She was extremely brusque at first and was cold with her entire crew, but she’s since opened up and respects the people she works with much more. Not that she didn’t respect them in the beginning, but she was more accustomed to seeing officers and crew as distant aspects of a tactical map, not as the people she interacted with and trusted her life to on the daily.

Now, and especially over the past few months, V’Airu has gone beyond trusting her shipmates as fellow officers and has made herself especially vulnerable as she’s explored the telepathic and empathic abilities she’s spent her entire life repressing. That’s put her in the very awkward interpersonal position of learning from more  junior members of her crew, and it’s been really interesting to write!

What’s been one of the most challenging aspects of being in a sector that has largely remained unexplored?

If there is a negative aspect to it, it’s just that there are so many possible avenues to explore. I enjoy exploring the newest, shiniest thing, and a blank slate gives you so many opportunities for the newest and the shiniest. The limiting factor there has been that my greatest interest is exploring the territory of the former Dominion over two decades since the end of the Dominion War, so that constraint gives us plenty of opportunities to both explore the marginally-known alongside the totally unknown.

What’s been the advantages of being in that region of space?

This area of the Gamma Quadrant scratches a lot of itches, often depending on the simmer. For those who aren’t as invested in the post-DS9 setting, we’re still pretty well on the frontier of Starfleet’s knowledge, so there’s the traditional TOS/TNG/SNW boldly going where no one’s gone before. And, of course, if you are a DS9 fan, then there’s plenty of exploration of what exactly has been going on for the last 25 years! As I think happens for a lot of ships and crews, the longer we stay, the more details, states, peoples, and characters we establish, so in that way we enjoy the advantage of any ship in any region that explores an ongoing story.

One note I’ll add here. Obviously the Gamma Quadrant isn’t going to be everyone’s favorite area to explore, especially for folks who are more interested in what the Alpha and Beta Quadrants still have to offer. To that end, we’ve been basing one mission out of every three or four in a different region (and/or a different time period) – our recent mission “The Intrepid Incident” launched from Earth after a refit period and saw our characters on a Constitution-class ship in the Alpha Quadrant back in the days of TOS and SNW. I think a lot of current simmers, both COs and anyone who isn’t, believe that ships are tied – or worse, assigned – to a particular region, and that’s not at all the case. The only real limit are the stories you want to explore!

Except for Amity. Those suckers are stuck in the Delta Quadrant. 

What are some goals you have for your character and crew over the next year?

This is a really interesting time to ask that question, because I just submitted a proposal for a new ship to the Executive Council – which means that we may not be aboard the ‘Oumuamua for much longer! If all goes well, the former crew of the ‘Oumuamua will ship back out to the Gamma Quadrant on their new ship in the new year and continue to explore the Dominion’s former sphere of influence.

As for my character, I knew that I intended to write Ossa as my PC only as long as the ‘Oumuamua stayed around, and with the imminent ship change, I intend to move Ossa to a supporting PNPC role as the regional commander of the Gamma Quadrant task force. I’ll promote one of my current PNPCs, Lia Rouiancet, to my new PC and the new ship’s commander. I’m really interested to explore more of Lia’s story, since I’ve been writing her as a PNPC since I was on the Veritas.

Thanks for your time, Commodore V’Airu!

You can read more about Commodore Ossa V’Airu on the wiki.

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