Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight into 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 Astraeus, Captain Mei’konda Delano, a Caitian male.
DeVeau: Hey Mei! The last time I interviewed you, we focused a bit on your character, but it’s been a while since we talked about the player behind the captain! Would you be willing to share with us some information about yourself?
Delano: Hello, Alora. It’s always a delight, I miss our days simming together! I’d be happy to. I’m forty-two years old and live in Arvada, Colorado in the United States. I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I saw the TNG premier at seven years old in 1987.
It was a highly formative part of my life, and I really mean it when I say that I consider the writing I have the opportunity to do as part of Starbase 118 is both a delight and important to my mental health.
Beyond that, I’ve been a Massage Therapist for the past nineteen years, and live with my Husband of twenty-five years and our two dogs.
Mei’konda has been around for a few years. How has he grown from where he started to where he is today?
Mei’konda began as the shy, timid, strongly accented Caitian helmsman of the USS Mercury, way back in 2013. Over time, as the years passed and he grew in rank and experience, he grew into a much more confident man, one comfortable on the centre stage and one who feels utterly contented in what he has achieved in his life as a Starfleet Captain, despite the personal costs that come along with it.
Mei is married to Evan Delano, another Starfleet Officer, but their relationship is long-distance. How do you navigate this for your character?
These are the personal costs I mean, of course! Thankfully, Evan isn’t quite as distant as he could be. Though Commander Evan Delano’s player is currently on leave, IC, he is the commanding officer of the USS Diligent, a light cruiser also assigned to the Par’tha Expanse which works in different areas than the Astraeus.
They occasionally have the chance to take leave together on the nearby Federation colony of Shemsh, but otherwise, must remain content with long-range communications on a regular basis. It’s the life they both knew they were getting into when they chose to be married.
I find it rather interesting that in your last interview, we discussed the transition from the USS Montreal to the Chin’toka. You and your crew have had yet another transition, this time to the USS Astraeus. What was the decision behind this change?
This is a bit of a long story, but one I’m happy to tell. From the moment I returned to command, the plan was always to return to the Astraeus.
One of my favorite parts of Star Trek is the ships, and throughout my journey up the ranks of SB118, I knew I wanted to create a vessel that felt truly like home if I ever reached command.
When a member of SB118 is preparing to take command of a vessel, they’re first asked to command an existing vessel in the NPC or Inactive fleets for a period of time. For me, that was the Montreal, a bone-standard Norway-class starship that required little creativity, as she was intended to be transitory in Mei’konda’s journey as a Captain. However, my wonderful Husband was kind enough to write a poem as her ship’s motto:
“So bravely set bow to foam, for the world to learn and know.
When finally we must return with tales of that once ne’er seen.”
The Montreal was doomed from the get-go in our plot, intended to meet her demise in a heroic sacrifice of some sort. She did so while saving a Federation colony from a crazed Vulcan terrorist who was intent on crashing a freighter into it. Disabled but for her engines, the Montreal’s crew was left with no choice but to ram her into the freighter and blow it up by self-destructing, after a full evacuation of the Montreal’s crew. Dramatic!
We were then reassigned to the Astraeus, the ship I’d designed and written the history of before I’d even been given the chance to command. I’d even commissioned 3D art of both the interior and exterior of the ship!
In-universe, she was commissioned in 2365, making her the oldest vessel in the active SB118 fleet and one of the first Galaxy-class vessels. This was my justification for why she can appear to be so different from the Enterprise we know from TNG, and why her capabilities, and in some cases her drawbacks, are different from that ship’s as well.
I commanded the Astraeus for much less time than I wanted to due to real-life making that sort of time commitment untenable for me, at least at that point. However, I eventually returned to the fleet and was lucky enough to be given a second opportunity to command by the Executive Council when the Captain’s seat on the Chin’toka became unexpectedly vacant.
The Chin’toka’s crew had just moved from the Atlantis to their new ship when the change of command happened, and the last thing we wanted was to further disrupt their rhythm and story by also making yet another ship change so soon after everything else. So, I decided to ensure that when I eventually returned us to the Astraeus, it was done at an appropriate, organic time, and after the Chin’toka had time to become established as a home for us.
I also wanted her to have a heroic sendoff and the potential for a reappearance in the future. She was badly damaged in the process of diverting a neutron star from passing near a heavily inhabited system, saving hundreds of millions of lives. And now, she’s being towed back to spacedock for repairs, to be refitted and returned to service in the NPC fleet. But, who knows? Someone may decide that when they have the opportunity to command in the future, they want to take the Chin’toka out for a spin!
How hard is it to make these sorts of decisions for change, and how do you guide your crew through it?
I don’t find these sorts of decisions difficult, at least not in terms of whether to move forward with something or not. Generally, if I come up with an idea or hear one from someone else, I’ll develop an opinion on it quickly, but try to keep my mind open to further input.
That’s why I always elicit the opinions of all of my staff members before moving forward on something important, even if one of them is unavailable for a few days. This lets me either discard an idea that is poorly received by them, or better refine it to suit everyone on the crew.
In the case of the switch to the Astraeus, some things in SB118, such as the ship a given Captain leads, are the prerogative of that Captain. This is due to the time and effort we put in while earning our positions and then managing the needs of our crew and the story, we’re all weaving together. The Astraeus, a Galaxy class vessel, was the ship I’d dreamed of Captaining, due to my aforementioned love of TNG during my formative years.
I did, however, want to make certain that my staff and crew would love the change, so I’ve been encouraging everyone to make use of the Galaxy class’s internal volume, and the fact that it has been changed, refit, and added on to over the years to build out their dream facilities, in ways that make sense for a vessel that’s been extensively rebuilt after thirty years of service.
So far, we have massively redesigned Science, Medical, and Operations sections, courtesy of Lieutenant Commanders Noa Levinson, Elizabeth Snow, and Esa Kiax, respectively. The Pagrati Lounge, a coffee bar created by Lt. Commander Cadfael Peters. A variable gravity gym, thanks to Lt. Commander Toryn Raga. A carefully obsessed-over Arboretum and Ten-Forward, from myself, and many other small details that I delight in seeing described by my crew.
Do you have any plans for Mei and the Astraeus for the next year?
I do indeed! We’re currently in part two of a two-parter of sorts. In our last mission, as most of the Chin’toka’s crew worked to divert the neutron star which ended up crippling the ship, one of my very creative players, Dr. Solok, introduced a small plot twist involving the lower class inhabitants of the threatened inhabited planet being infected with some sort of illness.
During the mission, this evolved very organically into a B plot about the wealth and privilege disparity between the upper classes, which were being evacuated in droves from the threatened world, and the poor, living in squalor at the foot of palaces. The Astraeus is now about to return to this world as it recovers from its near disaster, where we’ll be providing disaster relief and attempting to discover the source of the illness among its inhabitants!
I also have our next metaplot in the very early stages of planning. It’s something I haven’t even talked over with my staff yet, so I’m certain that it’ll bear little resemblance when we launch it to what I’m brainstorming right now. But so far, I’m excited!
Thanks for your time, Captain Delano!
You can read more about Captain Mei’konda Delano on the wiki.