The Best of Starfleet: Erica Ortegas

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Starfleet always seems to strive to bring out the best in every cadet that goes through the Academy. Of course, sometimes this doesn’t work out as cadets become over confident or frustrated by the regulations and decide to leave the Academy or resign their commission. Unfortunately, not everyone is cut out to be a member of Starfleet. The cadets that do graduate from the Academy seem to have similar characteristics despite their varied fields of study and different skill sets. Most will be loyal, determined, intelligent, and will embrace the guiding principles of Starfleet. When you add a large dose of confidence, quick wit, and superior piloting skills you get Erica Ortegas – The Best of Starfleet.

Erica Ortegas has a personality that fills a room. She is liked by everyone around her and rarely seems to be uncomfortable in social situations. Her confidence is unending which often leads to her speaking her mind with little regard to rank or situation. It was, in fact, her claim during her time at Starfleet Academy that she was going to be the best pilot to ever graduate, that caught the attention of Captain Christopher Pike and landed Ortegas on the bridge of the Enterprise as the Senior Helmsman.

Before serving on the Enterprise, Ortegas served on the front lines during the Klingon War. Her confidence and risk-taking abilities were only enhanced by her experiences during the war. However, she still carries the emotional and mental impact of serving which causes her to keep her relationships at a distance. In fact, Ortegas doesn’t seem to have many close relationships except for Nurse Chapel. It has been suggested that Ortegas and Chapel knew each other prior to Nurse Chapel arriving on board the Enterprise. Their relationship so far has mostly been seen as more social with Ortegas occasionally offering Nurse Chapel relationship advice. Ortegas is the type of person that would be found swapping stories with Miles O’Brien over a game of darts at Quarks or someone that Worf would declare to be a true warrior. She is the kind of person that everyone enjoys being around but no one person knows much about.

Ortegas is always eager to become more involved in the Enterprise’s missions. Her eagerness to be assigned to an away mission does not go unnoticed by her senior officers. Although this enthusiasm is commendable it does call into question the value Ortegas places on her role and skills as Senior Helmsman of the Enterprise. Despite not getting assigned to away missions, Ortegas has played a significant role in many of the Enterprise crew’s missions overall. During a survey mission to Rigel VII, Ortegas, along with other crew members, lost her memory. Ortegas’ strong will and tenacity, along with assistance from the main computer, allowed her to remember who she was and what her role was aboard the ship. Ortegas then used her keen intuition for flying to navigate the Enterprise through an asteroid belt and away from the planet causing the memory issues – thus, saving the ship and crew.

Her commitment to her crewmates might truly be one of Ortegas’ strongest qualities. She is always the first to speak up in favor of doing the right thing even if it doesn’t always coincide with her orders or Starfleet regulations. In fact, she was a willing participant in helping the crew steal the Enterprise to answer a distress call from La’an Noonien Singh proving that she isn’t afraid to defy orders when it comes to her fellow crew members.

Erica Ortegas bears the confidence and a bit of the bravada that we would expect from a top-notch pilot in Starfleet. She has the respect and trust of her fellow officers and crew despite her efforts to underplay the role she plays. We, in fact, learn during the episode “Those Old Scientists” that Ortegas is considered a war hero in the future according to Lieutenant Junior Grade Boimler. It is from which war that she earns this title that is still to be determined.

During the episode “Hegemony”, Ortegas is finally granted her wish to be a part of a landing party. She pilots a shuttle past a Gorn attack ship to land on Parnassus Beta. Ortegas keeps the shuttle in free fall until it is just 1500 meters above the surface and then restarts the shuttle’s engines, a maneuver she had done several times during the Klingon War, but never with her crewmates and Captain. Ortegas took great amusement in how this maneuver rattled Captain Pike, especially since he was a former test pilot.

There is still much to learn about Erica Ortegas, but what we do know is that her potential knows no bounds. We also know that when it comes to being a part of the best of Starfleet one does not have to always play by the rules and regulations. You can still be officer material while still being unabashedly yourself. And you can stick to your principles and instincts while still being a respected leader. In fact, some of Starfleet’s most respected members have often been the same individuals that have bent and sometimes even broken the rules. This is what has and will continue to make Erica Ortegas the best of Starfleet.


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Jodi

Fueled by coffee and willing to charge into a nebula for more. I’m a lifelong musician and creative with a love for all things sci-fi. In a universe where you can be anyone, be a Trekkie.

Go Boldly & LLAP

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