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LtCmdr Rahman: Making The Call

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((Sickbay, USS Mercury))

Del Vedova: Right, Commander, walk this way.

::Roshanara followed the doctor over to the empty area of the medical bay Velana had gestured to earlier. The engineer had been focusing on the man's strange gait, and she was caught off guard by his next statement once she had propped herself onto the biobed.::

Del Vedova: All right, Lieutenant Commander. Spill.

Rahman: Excuse me, doctor?

Del Vedova: I'm not going to waste your time with a lengthy work-up. My 'corder says you're fine, and if they didn't find anything major at MS253, I'm not going to find it here.

::This was certainly not what she was expecting. Most doctors she had known couldn't help themselves to their curiosity. The look of surprise must have been plainly evident as the man continued.::

Del Vedova: Breathe in. Okay, now breathe out. Great. You're fine. Now, tell me how, exactly, this happened.

::He gestured toward her left arm, still covered by the sleeve of her uniform jacket. She looked down at it herself, turning her hand slightly and extending her fingers. Two mechanical ones had replaced her fourth and fifth digits. Cosmetically, they were an exact match to her skin tone and even had such fine details as the tiny wrinkles that ran across the knuckles and the warm, blended colors of the nail beds. Yet, with their lack of scarring that covered the rest of her hand, the "perfect match" was anything but.::

Rahman: Sounds like you already know what happened.

::The man wasn't going to let her get away with that.::

Del Vedova: That it happened, yes, I know this -- but your records are mysteriously nonspecific as to why it happened. Tell me.

::Why it happened? Because working in Starfleet was a dangerous profession? Because it was insane to put hundreds of people in a tin can going faster than light and not expect something could go wrong at any moment? Because a commander's first duty is to the ship?::

::Because she had made a choice.::

Rahman: It was an accident. What else is there to know?

Del Vedova: It's the holistic approach, Lieutenant Commander: I can't do anything about your arm, of course, but in knowing what part you played in the accident that led to its trauma, I'll know more about you. If you were the daredevil who caused it, for example.

::She chuckled at the suggestion.::

Rahman: No, it wasn't anything like that...

::It had been about desperation, not recklessness.::

Del Vedova: But of course. It's yours to speak about if you wish. But should you wish to tell me, I'll be glad to hear the full story.

::She looked at him skeptically.::

Del Vedova: The highlights, then.

::She sighed as the sound of alarm klaxons came back to her.::

Rahman: We were working on some refinements to the Tempest's intermix chamber. It was supposed to be a simple test run...

((FLASHBACK: Six Years Earlier))

::The Tempest shook violently as the engineering crew scurried about main engineering. Standing near a diagnostic monitor near the ship's massive warp core, Lieutenant JG Rahman called out to her department chief from the monitoring platform.::

Rahman: Core temperature is continuing to rise, commander! Plasma coolant pressure exceeding 240% of optimal.

::Lieutenant Commander Montanez shouted back from his console behind the window of the chief engineer's office, partially obstructed by the smoke.::

Montanez: Just keep feeding the angry [...]!

::He turned to two other engineers and barked additional orders when a call from Captain Coracin came through.::

Coracin: Mr. Montanez, we're reading up here that the core is in danger of overheating...

Montanez: Aye, captain. I'm working on it...

::The captain did not sound convinced.::

Coracin: Prepare to eject the core. If you can't get a hold of the situation within the next few minutes, dump it.

::As the chief engineer tried to reassure the captain, Roshanara continued redirecting more coolant to the system. She had to manually override the computer by dropping the containment forcefield around the core. Next, she went around to the individual plasma coolant tanks and locked their injectors into a full-flow, unrestricted feed.::

::It was a losing game; however, as each additional increase in coolant was quickly outpaced by another rise in core temperature. Eventually, all of the plasma coolant tanks were actively feeding the core, and there was still no sign of temperatures leveling off.::

::She turned to Petty Officer Reez standing on the other side of the core.::

Rahman: We have to eject the core! It's too late!

::The Denobulan shook his head, still trying to establish a stable intermix ratio from his own console.::

Reez: We can't eject now, ma'am. With the injectors locked into place and actively feeding the core, you'd rip apart the entire coolant system. This whole area would be flooded.

Rahman: There's nothing else we can do! We have to go!

::It seemed Commander Montanez had come to a similar conclusion as she heard a new alarm klaxon sound. She looked over her shoulder to see the heavy isolation door coming down. By now, Montanez was barely visible in his office as smoke filled the room. Over the noise and computer's countdown to a warp core breach, his voice piped through Roshanara's combadge.::

Montanez: =/\= Rahman, Reez, it's a lost cause. Get out of there before the whole compartment gets flooded with coolant! =/\=

::The two engineers exchanged a resigned look of understanding and headed towards the ladder to get off the warp core platform. Reez gestured for Roshanara to go first, and she quickly started climbing down. However, as the petty officer stood above waiting his turn, one of the plasma tanks cracked from the pressure, spraying a fine mist of coolant across the man's face, blinding him. He cried out in agony as he fell to the platform grating.::

Rahman: Reez!

::She climbed back up to get to his aid. The man moaned as she tore some of her left sleeve to bandage his wounds. She heard the distinct sound of the isolation door slamming shut and then Montanez's voice.::

Montanez: =/\= Lieutenant, what are you doing?! =/\=

Rahman: =/\= It's Reez, sir. He's been hurt. We have to transport him to sickbay. =/\=

Montanez: =/\= You know full well with the radiation levels around the core, there's no way they're going to get a transporter lock on him. =/\=

::Roshanara frowned as she continued to watch Reez groan in pain as his eyes bled. She did know. And yet, she couldn't have just left him there to die.::

Montanez: =/\= ...or you. =/\=

::She looked up and towards the commander through the window.::

Rahman: =/\= Sir? =/\=

Montanez: =/\= ...I'm sorry, lieutenant. There's no more time. =/\=

::With a solemn look, she saw the chief engineer activate the core ejection sequence. Roshanara heard the sound of the explosive bolts detonating around the EPS conduits. She gasped as she realized what was about to happen: she was going to die as well.::

::The sound of Reez wincing as he called out brought her attention back down to him. She held his hand in hers.::

Reez: I'm so sorry... you should have just left... ::He coughed, and some blood trickled down the side of his mouth.:: ...when you had the chance.

::She hushed him quickly.::

Rahman: Now's not the time for sorries.

Reez: You should try to find cover.

Rahman: If I wasn't going to leave you a minute ago, I'm not going to leave you now.

::She squeezed his hand to comfort him. He was right though. If only they had something to shield themselves.::

::And then, an idea hit her. It was crazy, but at that moment, crazy seemed infinitely better than dead.::

Rahman: Come on, get up!

::She hoisted the man to his feet, with his arm around her shoulder.::

Reez: ...where are we going?

Rahman: Down.

::Before the man could ask, the external hatch for the warp core opened several decks below and the warp core began its rapid descent out of the ship. The plasma coolant injectors snapped off, and the distinct hiss of coolant leaking into the air pierced their ears. Once the warp core cleared past their faces, Roshanara grabbed Reez tightly.::

Rahman: Jump!

Reez: Jump?

Rahman: Yes!

::She didn't wait for him to respond as she took the both of them and dived after the core. She could see the core ahead of them falling out into space. For a brief second it looked like they were going to follow it into the void, but instead, they landed hard on the forcefield over the open hatch. From the sound of crunching bones, Roshanara was sure they had both sustained their share of fractures.::

::Rolling over, she saw the decks above filling with the sickly green cloud of plasma coolant that was now descending towards them.::

Rahman: Computer, reactivate core containment field!

::Around the two engineers, the transparent cylindrical shield reformed before the green cloud could engulf them. However, some of the plasma coolant had been trapped as well inside the forcefield and continued to expand down towards them. She raised her left arm to protect herself and rolled back over Reez, trying to cover him. As the plasma coolant reached her and began liquefying the flesh on her arm and hand, she cried out briefly in pain before blacking out.::


::She kept the details to a minimum as the doctor took his notes. In the aftermath, both Reez and Roshanara required lengthy rehabilitation at Medical Starbase 253. The Denobulan's eyes had been destroyed, but he was eventually outfitted with ocular implants. Meanwhile, Roshanara's Kriosian physiology proved not as responsive to standard dermal regeneration treatment, leaving her with a souvenir set of scars on the left side of her face that run across her cheekbone, but it was her left arm that fared the worse.::

::It had been so badly damaged from exposure to the plasma coolant that the medical team initially feared they would need to replace it with a prosthetic. They were ultimately able to salvage the limb and restore function through the use of myoelectric implants to supplement destroyed nerve and muscle tissue. Her fourth and fifth fingers on her left hand were amputated and replaced with mechanical substitutes.::

::She didn't mention how Commander Montanez was later given a commendation for saving the lives of over 300 people aboard the Tempest, how he had apparently visited Reez and her every day while they were unconscious but recovering in sickbay, and how he didn't say much to her when she was finally awake.::

::She wasn't under any gag order, but the full report had been quietly filed away in a records office somewhere. It was fortunate no one had gotten killed, or else it would have been another nightmare for Starfleet with the press after the recent incident aboard the Auckland.::

::Still, she preferred to keep the most vivid parts to herself, and the entry of new visitors to sickbay that would bear witness to her impending physical exam caused her consternation.::

Rahman: Excuse me, doctor, I don't believe I caught your name earlier.

Del Vedova: Nic del Vedova. Del, if you want.

Rahman: ::nods:: Well, Andorian pilots or not, I would be more comfortable continuing the rest of this examination somewhere with a bit more privacy.

Del Vedova: That won't be necessary.

::She suddenly felt betrayed for having trusted him. She should have known better than to let her guard down around someone wearing medical blue. Her voice was firm.::

Rahman: Doctor Del Vedova, I must insist-

::He quickly interjected.::

Del Vedova: Because you're done. Unless your fingers fall off, Lieutenant Commander, in which case you should come back and see me. But I'm relatively willing to bet that they won't.

::Yet again, he had managed to surprise her, and though she usually thought herself good at reading people, she was decidedly unsure of what to make of this doctor. Was he amused? Sympathetic? Bored?::

::She looked at him warily, as if to decipher his true intentions, but then grabbed onto his hand as he helped her off the biobed. He gestured towards the door silently, and she turned to leave likewise without saying anything. However, she then heard him call out to her.::

Del Vedova: Good to meet you. Let me know if you have any more troubles with what's-his-name.

Rahman: Thank you, doctor. I'll keep that in mind.

::She made her way to her new quarters aboard the Mercury, deep within the lower decks of the ship that put her close to main engineering. Her things had been dropped off earlier by the ever thoughtful Lieutenant Chaun--which meant also that he knew where she lived now, she supposed. Ah well. Another challenge for another day.::

::She took off her uniform jacket and tunic, hanging them in the closet. She slid the door shut, revealing her reflection in the mirror. With her upper limbs now exposed, she glanced down at what was left of her arm. The flesh was scarred from her finger tips to her shoulder, and the arm was noticeably thinner than her right, looking as if it had been gnawed away. She took a moment to look over herself, as she had done so on StarBase 118. Had it really only been a day? She was exhausted.::

::As she went back to unpacking her things, she thought of one other thing she didn't mention to Dr. Del Vedova: the last time she had talked to Commander Montanez.::

((FLASHBACK: Medical Starbase 253, one month after the accident, 2383))

::Roshanara heard her name being called and slowly opened her eyes. It was her former chief engineer, holding an assortment of flowers, and Doctor Mol.::

Mol: I'll just be outside if you need me.

Montanez: Thank you, doctor.

::After the elderly Zakdorn left, Montanez put the flowers down on a nearby desk.::

Montanez: They're from the department.

Rahman: If you could relay my appreciation...

Montanez: Of course.

::There was a moment of silence before the commander spoke up again.::

Montanez: So the doctor tells me you're making good progress.

Rahman: He's cautiously optimistic.

Montanez: There's no rush. If and when you're ready, we could use you back at your post.

::He smiled. She didn't.::

Rahman: I've been told rehabilitation might take several years or more. I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do.

Montanez: Well like I said, no rush...

::There was another moment of silence before the man finally sighed.::

Montanez: Look, I don't expect you to understand. Not now anyway, and maybe not ever. And if you want to hate me for it, that's fine.

::She quickly replied.::

Rahman: I don't hate you, sir.

Montanez: ::nods:: I just hope you never have to make *that* call yourself one day.

::He glanced towards the window for a second and then back at her.::

Montanez: All right, I'll let you get some rest. We're all rooting for you.

::He turned around and headed towards the door. She called out to him.::

Rahman: Commander.

::The man paused for a moment and looked over his shoulder.::

Rahman: I did make *a* call that day, sir.

::He stood still for a moment before turning back towards the door.::

Montanez: Good night, lieutenant.

::He walked off as Roshanara looked over at the flowers once more before closing her eyes again.::


Lt.Cmdr. Roshanara Rahman

Chief Engineer

USS Mercury

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