Captain’s Corner

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To Commanding and Beyond – Jalana Rajel, USS Constitution-B 

We have a very special interview this month with someone who has been a catalyst in the fleet! I have the very special honor in taking the time to talk with Commodore Jalana Rajel, a Trill female who’s been the commanding officer for the USS Constitution-B for 5 years and running.

Commodore is an exclusive rank and title captains and fleet captains can earn in UFOP: StarBase 118 once they have served as commanding officer of a vessel for five years (whether continuously during one tenure or cumulatively over multiple commands). Having completed their own “five-year mission” aboard their ships, these COs are recognized by our community as among our finest leaders in the fleet.

GALVEN: Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed by the Community News Team! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

RAJEL: Of course, thank you for having me! I am Jess, almost 41 years old from Germany and have been a member of this brilliant community for eight years. I have been roleplaying since I was innocent 8 years old and not only have I enjoyed every moment of it but I can’t imagine ever not to roleplay in some shape or form. It just inspires my writing and energizes me to share stories with other writers.

Congratulations on your promotion and your longevity being the commanding officer for 5 years! What does the rank of Commodore entail?

Thank you! I hope it doesn’t entail more paperwork. 😉 I am kidding, but I don’t believe it is much different from being a Fleet Captain. I will continue to lead my ship and to participate as part of the Captain’s Council with the best of the fleet in mind.


Captain’s Corner: Fleet Captain Aron Kells, USS Thor

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.

This month, we’re interviewing Fleet Captain Aron Kells, the CO of the USS Thor, one of two support ships from the Embassy of Duronis II. The crew of the Embassy has transitioned permanently to the Thor and embarked on a new mission.

GALVEN: Thank you for agreeing to take a moment and be interviewed! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

KELLS: Sure! My name is Tony, which I use primarily in part because I’ve used half a dozen different characters as PCs since I first joined the fleet back in 2005. Kells is probably the character I’ve simmed for most often, which is one of the reasons I chose him for command this time (but more on that later). A fun fact about me is that I joined 118 when I was still in high school and I’ve just recently finished my PhD, so the group has seen me through my entire higher education journey.

You just recently took command of the USS Thor. With your previous command service record, has it been a smooth transition process? 

Very much so. My first regular command was of the Mercury, almost exactly eight years ago, and that was a more difficult situation. The original CO retired only four months after launching the ship, and his replacement lasted less than a week before he had to take an emergency, long-term LOA. The Mercury’s XO was a real trooper and was a great help to me when I came on as CO, and I knew when I found out what a force Brian (Lt. Cmdr. Teller, the Embassy’s and now the Thor’s XO) had been in helping to keep things together, I knew that the work he and the other great staff members had started put me in a really strong place to come in and help the Embassy crew move to Thor.


Captain’s Corner: Captain Oddas Aria, USS Eagle

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.

This month we’re interviewing Captain Oddas Aria, a Bajoran female, that’s the commanding officer of the USS Eagle and temporary CO of the USS Juneau, the Capstone Warp XV Project.

GALVEN: Would you please introduce yourself for our readers out there?

Oddas: Sure – I’m Nicholas, a Software Developer / Consultant who works from home in Florida for a firm based in Alaska. I have 4 kids, a wife and a love of all kinds of Science Fiction.

I joined SB118 back in April of 2016 as an Engineer at the Embassy. From there I just sort of found myself in a position to get moved up and around the ranks a bit.

On April 24, 2019 (or 239604.24), Fleet Admiral Tristan Wolf announced your promotion to Captain. How long was the process and what was it like for you?

The actual process to go from Commander to Captain seemed like about five months. It came at a time when the fleet had received a large influx of recruits. My CO at the time Admiral Turner (Ann) was always very supportive and had me take the written portion of the exam early so I’d be ready which also meant I’d been spitballing some ideas about ships and things in my mind.

When the time came I knew I wanted an Intrepid Class ship, I knew the type of missions I’d want to fly and that type of thing. Once those were decided it just became a juggling act of ‘who to invite, who to ask to volunteer’ and then holding your breath. Luckily we’ve ended up with some great people.

It took a couple of missions in those five missions, which had their own ups and downs, to really feel like things were running smoothly. When the final votes and interviews and all were done, it was a huge relief and validation of the things I had been working so hard on.


Captain’s Corner: Mei’konda, CO of the USS Montreal

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.

This month, we’re interviewing Commander Mei’konda, the CO of the USS Montreal, one of two new ships launched last month.

WOLF: The last time you were here on the news was June 2017 as part of our First Officer in Focus column – welcome back! How have you been since then?

MEI’KONDA: I’ve been very well. I found the role of first officer a fun one to play, especially under Rich (Captain Roshanara Rahman), who was and still is a great mentor to me.

You’ve just recently launched the USS Montreal as part of a fleet expansion due to an influx of members. How are you settling in to your new role as commanding officer? And what was it like to launch a new ship under these circumstances?

This is the first time I’ve been so involved in the launch of a new vessel, and it was pretty chaotic for the first one or two weeks because it was on short notice. But I welcomed that particular challenge, because I felt that if I could handle such a busy launch, I would be able to handle Captaincy itself. Thus far, I’m enjoying the role of commanding officer. I’ve been lucky enough to have some extremely creative writers on my crew, and I can’t wait to see where they take our stories.


Captain’s Corner: Toni Turner, CO of Duronis II Embassy

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.

This month, we’re interviewing Rear Admiral Toni Turner, the CO of the Duronis II Embassy.

TRAENOR: It looks like the last time we interviewed you was just over two years ago – certainly things must have changed some during that time! Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little bit about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not contributing to our group?

TURNER: It’s been a busy two years, filled with changes. I’ve always live in the “Deep South,” but I moved to a new house during that time, closed my business, and now enjoy a less stressful life with my four German Shepherds.  

Some of our newer members might not know what, if any, differences there are to simming on an installation like the Embassy as compared to simming on a ship. What would you tell them to expect with such a unique venue?

They should expect the Embassy to be like a home base, because now the we added the USS Thor, a Vista Class starship, and converted the USS Thunder, an Akira class, into an all Marine ship, and a NPC ship USS Bronwyn, this has given us a wider range of exploration that includes the Typhon Expanse. This change has not only presented a challenge for players, but also gives them more time aboard a starship.

During shoreleaves they have more time for character building as they interact with other players. Family life thrives at the Embassy as  some of our married couples make their homes on the Embassy grounds, and raise their children there. The Embassy encompasses the best of both Worlds — land and space.


Captain’s Corner: Theo Whittaker, CO of the Andaris Task Force

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.

This month, we’re interviewing Commander Theo Whittaker, the new CO of the Andaris Task Force.

TRAENOR: If I’m not mistaken, the last time you were interviewed was in August of 2016 – you were FO of SB118 Ops back then. It’s not a stretch to say that there’s been some changes in the intervening year and a half! Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little bit about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not contributing to our group?

WHITTAKER: My name is Mikey and I’m a (im)mature student from the U.K, studying International Fashion Business and I’m also a part time waiter/restaurant host. I’d like to work in Fashion Forecasting (hence my degree) and when I’m not simming or studying, I enjoy baking, the odd Pokemon battle (or twenty), crafts and watching trashy reality TV shows (Judge Judy is my current favourite). I also collect vinyl records (250 and counting!) mostly consisting of 1980s and 1990s pop music! I’m also a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Michelle Visage is my everything). As several members of the ATF can attest, I am a rabid reader of Star Trek novels and I have been a fan of the franchise for over twenty years. Deep Space Nine is my favourite TV series, Kira is my favourite character and The Undiscovered Country is my favourite movie (with Insurrection as close second…. Yes, really! Ha Ha)

There were some pretty significant changes in regards to personnel in the Andaris Task Force around the time of your transfer and assignment as CO. Can you tell us a little bit about how that has been progressing and with everyone settling into their roles?

I think there is a period of adjustment during any transition, especially more so when you are stepping into the shoes of an officer like Admiral Renos. Saying that, however, I think that the transition has gone very well and certainly we’ve had feedback from players that supports that. All of the staff have been communicative and extraordinarily helpful and I am grateful. Noelle, who serves as my XO, and I came onboard at just the right time – we pretty much dove straight into a wonderful team building mission that was put together by Richard, who plays Lieutenant Jarred Thoran, and  it’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know the players and for the players to get to know us!


Captain’s Corner: Brell, CO of the USS Atlantis

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.

This month, we’re interviewing Cmdr. Brell, the CO of the newly launched USS Atlantis.

WOLF: Welcome back to the hotseat! Last time we talked to you was September of 2016 for our Training Team, and now you’re a commanding officer! Many congratulations on the promotion – your hard work has really paid off. Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not simming or training the Academy?

BRELL: Thank you Admiral! Well my name is Lee and I live in the middle of the Arizona desert with my partner, our dog, where we help take care of the family property, along with my dad, and his cat. Been a long time Star Trek, sci-fi and rpg in general fan.

Talk to us about your writing style. What’s your process for putting together a sim?

I write my sims in google docs where I can always start with where I left on on my last sim. Then I add in the new tags and go from there. I try to reference experiences Brell has had over the years into my sims as often as I can. Also his family life (The good times and the bad.) often colors how he sees things happening around him.


Captain’s Corner: Sal Taybrim

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.

This month, we’re interviewing Captain Sal Taybrim, CO of StarBase 118 Ops – our oldest simming installation that I, myself, founded in 1998!

WOLF: As far as I can tell the last time I interviewed you was way back in March of 2016 – that’s a shame! Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not simming or leading super fun fleetwide chats?

TAYBRIM: Well, I live in Wisconsin, USA and spent most of my time in small towns – both for work and where I live. I grew up on a farm so small towns feel comfortable; but I love having the internet as a tool to talk to people all over the globe! When I’m not writing my husband and I run a variety of 5K races and obstacle courses, I’m still training for my second degree black belt in tae kwon do, love cooking and baking and I like to knit crazy things! Like socks that proudly proclaim “Don’t Panic!”


Captain’s Corner: Capt. Keelah Rhani

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. Most recently we interviewed FO of the Gorkon, Alucard Vess.

This month, we’re interviewing dedicated, long-time member and captain Alex, who plays the current captain of the USS Za, Keelah Rhani. Let’s get started!

WOLF: I was surprised to realize that it’s been ages since we’ve interviewed you, so I’m glad we’re getting a chance to talk! Can you give us a little about yourself, like where you hail from, and what are you up to when you’re not simming?

RHANI: It has been a while, hasn’t it? Well, let’s see… I live in the UK, where I spend most of my time either writing in the vague hope of having something suitable for publishing and acting as primary carer for my autistic son.

You’ve been a member for years now. Give us a brief overview of your resume with us, and maybe what your favorite postings were?

I first started out here when I was browsing the internet in search of some idea what this whole “PBeM” thing was all about, and found my way to an interesting looking site that combined both it and Star Trek – and I’ve been here ever since!

I originally started out on Ops with then-Ensign Della Vetri, who was my primary character for the vast majority of the time I’ve been simming. Between her and a couple of secondaries over the years, I’ve served on a variety of ships, and have had a blast on each and every one of them. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to pick which one might be my favourite…

I’d probably put it as a tie between the USS Avandar, which I had the privilege of shepherding into service, and the Duronis II Embassy, which has a great bunch of players crewing it.


Captain’s Corner: Capt. Roshanara Rahman

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. Last month, we interviewed CO of the Constitution, Jalana Rajel.

According to our schedule, we should be interviewing a first officer this month. But instead, I’m talking to another commanding officer – Capt. Roshanara Rahman, captain of the new vessel Veritas – who has just been appointed as the Captain at Large. Lots of ground to cover here, so let’s get started!

WOLF: Congratulations on your appointment as the Captain at Large! Can you explain this role a bit to our newer members?

RAHMAN: The Captain at Large (CAL) is the sixth member of the Executive Council (EC), appointed to serve for one year as a representative of the Captains Council (CC) on the Executive Council. Thus, the Captain at Large is tasked with ensuring the interests of those captains not already on the EC are taken into consideration during EC discussions. Like the other five members of the Executive Council, the Captain at Large participates in discussions that mostly concern out-of-character (OOC) issues such as whether to commission a new ship, create or alter bylaws, rules, and regulations, and so forth. Unlike the other five members of the Executive Council, the Captain at Large only votes to break a tie among the other EC members’ votes. For instance, if two voted yes, two voted no, and one chose to abstain from voting, then the CAL’s vote would break the tie.

A lot of the CAL’s role and the EC’s role in general comes down to discussing the administration of the fleet and how to keep things running smoothly, helping our captains succeed in commanding their ships, and making the StarBase 118 simming experience enjoyable for our members.

I’d say to those wondering what the EC does is that it focuses on the “big picture” for the community and the issues the entire fleet faces. The EC itself doesn’t micromanage the individual ships in the fleet, since after all, the majority of EC members including myself are quite busy managing our own ships! Instead, the EC discusses fleet management and community development. How can we ensure our group continues to grow and prosper as the way people spend their time online continues to evolve from when the group was first founded over twenty-two years ago? What things have we been doing well that we should double down on? What things are we doing as a fleet that aren’t working or are actually causing things to be less fun? What things should we leave behind to history as we head into 2017 and beyond?

Since all of us, from the newest ensign to the fleet admiral, are volunteers, we are very aware of how precious the time and effort of our members are, so the EC is tasked with making sure ultimately that the fleet uses that volunteer effort appropriately and that the group stays true to its purpose of being an enjoyable role-playing game for Star Trek fans first and foremost.


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