I think most of us are familiar with Tony, the player behind that temporal magnet, Aron Kells. Recently, some events have taken place which took the USS Mercury out of comission and Aron Kells out of the spotlight. Not to worry, Tony isn’t going anywhere, and he’s brought on a whole new character – Captain Cassandra Egan Manno. I had the opportunity to sit down and get a little information about his new face.
1. So your original Captain, Aron Kells, has disappeared from the radar, but you’ve introduced a very interesting new Captain – Cassandra Egan Manno. What inspired you to create this character?
First, leaving Aron behind. I do want to clarify that Aron Kells has not disappeared forever; he’ll return as a PNPC, but not for a while yet, and with somewhat of a different mindset than the one he had as a Starfleet officer. However, there are those relationships — such as his with Saveron — that I want to continue and will be very productive in the long run. Second, Cassie specifically. I have usually used digital artwork to represent my characters, and that art is generally not based upon actors or even real people, necessarily — but for Cassie, I had just been shown an episode of The Walking Dead, and when I saw Danai Gurira’s acting, I suspected I had found the actress I wanted to base my new captain on. I researched her some more and decided that she was indeed my model, and from that appearance and knowledge of the roles she’d played, I developed Cassie. (As an aside, I’ve only ever seen the one episode of The Walking Dead — zombies aren’t my thing — but I grateful to the show for introducing me to that actress!)
2. Does she share any characteristics with you as her writer?
In her specifics, no. Her background was built off of her reluctance to assume a commanding role (see the next answer for more!), so that’s specific to her character and her universe. Thematically, however, I would say she is rather similar to me, in that she’s unsure of filling a role that she believes (rightly!) to be complex and difficult. One thing I will note here, however, is that Cassie is decidedly a competent woman: She is an excellent developmental engineer and became an outstanding deployment officer, but the command of a starship — or even service aboard a starship — isn’t one of her skills, yet. However, as Quinn Reynolds has so recently reminded her, though she may not have that particular skill set, she’s still led others and done well at it, so her choice as CO is not as strange as it may seem.
3. Captain Egan Manno has taken the commanding seat very reluctantly. Can you tell us a little about why she feels she’s not suitable for her new role?
Ah, I suppose I answered more of this than I meant to in the previous answer. I will add, then, that a large part of her character arc is not that of discovering that she did have the ability all along and just had to discover her confidence; that arc, to me, is staid and inappropriate for a woman with Cassie’s accomplishments. Rather, her arc is one of being ranked by Starfleet as a captain but having no command experience, and how she can develop those command skills based upon the foundational abilities she possesses and the choices she’s made throughout her life and career.
4. How does Captain Egan Manno compare to Captain Kells both in personality and with the way she handles her command?
Captain Kells was much more the Kirk-style captain, updated into the 24th century: He wouldn’t have lost his shirt in a fistfight, but he definitely would’ve bent the rules to avoid that fight in the first place. Even when he aged a bit, he still possessed that rule-bending edge, and when it got him in big trouble after the disaster at 83 Leonis, that contributed greatly to the completion of his character arc. Captain Egan Manno, on the other hand, is much more cautious, technically inclined, and rule-abiding; she’s spent her career in the heart of Starfleet, with much of that at Starfleet Administration, and she’s always been surrounded by plenty of other officers; she’s never before seen the frontier, so she’s going to be cautious there.
5. The USS Garuda is a Galaxy class ship – the same class as the beloved Enterprise. For many, this is the ultimate ship. How do you feel now that you are the captain of such a ship?
Well, I designed it, so I feel pretty good about it! I loved the Mercury’s design, the dedicated science space of the Oracle-class’s sensor module, and its emphasis on defense, not offense; but I do feel really strongly about having a recognizable, powerful ship exploring the Menthar Corridor and beyond. The Enterprise-D was the Federation Starfleet’s flagship for many years and — even though the -E is her flagship now — the Galaxy-class became and remains, in my mind, one of the faces of the Federation, and certainly a proper avatar to represent her beyond the boundaries of known space!
6. You were the recipient of the Sarek Star this year. How did it feel to receive such a well deserved award?
I hope I can live up to it! Honestly, though, as many folks on the Garuda and in the CC know, I’ve worked in education for the last few years — the last two teaching college, the three before that as a college tutor — and I find that running a ship in a sim like this and managing a classroom are remarkably similar. There’s often the implicit assumption that, in online games, you can be ruder or more inappropriate than you might be in a situation in which you can interact with a person face-to-face — I’ve certainly made that assumption before, though becoming aware that it was something I did was a large part of overcoming it. Most of the time, when someone comes to me with a problem or an issue, I ask myself what I’d do if that person was a student or another teacher and treat them with the appropriate level of respect. Also, it’s always important to validate how people are feeling! When someone comes to me and expresses that he or she is sad or unenthused or angry, I’ve found it’s incredibly beneficial to acknowledge those feelings and talk about them, not to simply see them as problems to be overcome.
7. You were recently appointed as the Magistrate for the Captain’s Council. Please tell us a little about your new role and what it means to you.
I’m incredibly excited about this! The past two magistrates, Marissa and Jay — Fleet Captains Nicholotti and Jaxx, respectively — are two people who I have immense respect for and am honored to succeed. My goal as magistrate is to be as timely and helpful as my predecessors — and I’m also looking forward to taking a larger role in the commander promotion process as I facilitate the administrative work behind those processes; promotions to commander are immensely important to the group as a whole and I can’t wait to be more active in those processes!
Thank you Tony for your hard work and incredible talent. We look forward to seeing more from you and your new Captain!