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JP: LtCmdrs. Core & Rahman: Metamorphosis

Sedrin Belasi

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((Sick Bay, USS Garuda))

Core: I'll talk to her tonight, see if she's willing, and then if she agrees, we'll come here.

Del Vedova: Good. Let me know when you're coming, and I'll set aside a private room.

Core: You can do that?

Del Vedova: It's one of the perks to being chief of a department.

Core: I guess it is . . . but I can only ask.

Del Vedova: Let me know, Commander. But don't wait too long. I'd like to know as quickly as possible, and it can only help whatever case we may build by hurrying.

Core: I’ll ask her tonight then. Maybe I’ll actually have good luck for once.

((Roshanara Rahman’s quarters, later that evening))

Rahman: Are you $%@#-ing serious?

::Well, so much for good luck.::

Rahman: After everything that’s happened, you thought we’d still have a dinner date? You’re lucky I didn’t send a feedback pulse through the door lock -- which you *deserve*, by the way!

Core: That wasn’t my intention. I’m here to make sure you were okay.

::The Kriosian gave another frustrated breath before turning away.::

Rahman: All right, you came and saw that I’m still alive and fine. I appreciate it.

::She turned back to him and pointed to the door.::

Rahman: Now *get out*.

::This was getting out of hand. He needed to actually talk to Roshanara, not be kicked out of her quarters. He couldn’t let this happen - not yet.::

Core: Roshanara-

::Her eyes narrowed, and her voice was firm.::

Rahman: That wasn’t a suggestion.

Core: I don’t care. You know what? I outrank you now. And I’m not leaving.

Rahman: ::scoffs:: Oh, so now you’re going to lecture me about respecting the chain of command?

::This was getting him nowhere, but he sure as hell was not leaving these quarters. It was now just a matter of making sure she knew that.::

Core: [...] straight. I am not leaving whether you like it or not. You want to be a &@$%#? Fine. Let’s go. ::He held his arms out.:: Have at it, Commander.

::She returned a look of disbelief.::

Rahman: *What* are you doing?

Core: You obviously require stress relief.

Rahman: You obviously require a mental check.

Core: I could say the same for you.

::It was as if every sound in the room vanished at that moment. Roshanara gave a look that would have turned men twice Tristam’s size to stone.::

Rahman: *What* did you just say?

Core: I talked to del Vedova. I know about your neurodegenerative disease.

::Well, so much for breaking it to her slowly. But in all honesty, the Rodulan didn’t see any other choice but to put it to her bluntly.::

::The invitation he had given earlier for her to hit him was really tempting her now. She closed the distance between them into striking range. Her voice was raw with fury.::

Rahman: You don’t know *anything*! And you had no right to talk to him!

Core: You’re right. I didn’t. But you gave me no *choice*, Roshanara! I’ll be [...]ed if someone hauls you away from this ship without trying to prevent it first!

::She looked up at him, and for a moment, it looked as if Tristam was going to get slapped. Instead, though, Roshanara abruptly turned away and headed for the door.::

Core: Where the hell do you think you’re going?

::She didn’t answer as she exited into the corridor.::

Core:::muttering.:: For f- ugh. ::He started to follow her.:: Rahman!

Rahman: Leave me alone!

Core: Not until you tell me what the hell is going on with you! And certainly not before I’m certain you remain aboard this ship!

::She made it to a Jefferies tube access hatch, but when she tried to pry it open, the computer answered with a resolute chirp of denial.::

Rahman: ::under her breath:: [...] it, you piece of #$*%!

::She pounded the side of her fist against the hatch.::

Core: You can’t hide from me, Roshanara.

::She turned back to see the Rodulan closing in on her. She hit her hand hard against the closed hatch again, the pain shooting across her knuckles.::

Rahman: Stop. Just stop already! What do you think you’re going to do? Come save the day? Go back in time and prevent what happened? Rescue me?

Core: You and I both know that all of those things are impossible. I can’t change what happened, I know that. But at least I can prevent it from happening again!

::He gave a frustrated sigh, a hand flying up to scratch the back of his neck as he begun pacing again. But when he looked back at her, he saw now tears welling up in her eyes.::

Rahman: You *can’t*! All right? There’s nothing you, Del… nothing *anyone* can do to prevent it from happening again!

Core: That’s not true.

Rahman: I thought I had time. Captain Kells tried to warn me. But it’s too late now...

::Tristam frowned. Kells? The ex-Captain who hadn’t wanted to take a leadership role? Hadn’t there been *two* Kells?::

Core: You mean the Kells that disappeared, right? Not the one that I met on Bocasa?

::She nodded, wiping her eyes. She proceeded to tell him about the future that Aron Kells had remembered. A future where one year from now, Roshanara had been not only removed from her post but dismissed from Starfleet entirely before spending the next ten years in various medical and mental institutions. The last time he had seen her before he had returned to the past, she had apparently been living as an outcast on a desolate world.::

Rahman: You can’t prevent it from happening again, Tristam, because it’s *not* a disease! It’s who I am.

Core: Roshanara Rahman. ::He shook his head, crouching down to be eye level with her.:: I thought you were better than this.

::She sniffed her runny nose.::

Rahman: Better?

Core: It’s the *future*, Rahman! Nothing is ever *definite*. Every little decision, choice, comment, *anything*, changes what happens tomorrow, next year and even *ten years from now*. Sure, maybe you have this . . . thing that’s you, but you can’t believe in a future that you were told by a Kells that wasn’t even real, a future that - even if it was real once - has obviously changed from the moment he told you.

Rahman: *Physiology* doesn’t change!

::She balled her hands into fists, but she let the anger subside into sadness and frustration. He didn’t get it. And so finally, she said aloud to Tristam what Aron Kells had said to her that night in sickbay that had changed everything.::

Rahman: Tristam, I’m a metamorph.

::Her voice trembled as she said the word, as if it were a shameful epithet.::

::Tristam blinked. Having a father that was familiar with everything telepathic and empathic, Tristam found himself well-versed in other telepathic species - something that happens when your father calls you every morning with nothing but work to talk about.::

Core: A metamorph? But . . . ::he frowned again.:: On the Pioneer, you weren’t . . .

Rahman: I know. ::She looked away, unable to face those dark eyes and their judgement.:: It’s called the Finiis'ral. Basically a stage of life where a metamorph prepares to imprint on someone for the rest of his or her life.

::Tristam nodded. He hadn’t known the specific term, but he was already familiar with the whole concept. Kriosians were an odd bunch. Spots like Trills. People that could become someones “perfect mate”. Sure, empathic abilities were a pain in the behind sometimes, but they could be quite useful at times, too. He didn’t see why this was such a bad thing in Rahman’s eyes. . .

::Oh . . . no. Now he kind of understood.::

Core: Ross . . . He wasn’t . . . right? You two weren’t . . .

::This was going to be an awfully awkward conversation if he *was*.::

::She returned an indignant look.::

Rahman: No! Absolute not!

Core: Then . . . You’re going to have to explain this to me. I only know so much about metamorphs, and I honestly don’t know what the problem is here.

Rahman: The problem is I tried to fix something when I didn’t know what was really going on.

::Tristam’s eyebrows shot up. That was basically breaking one of the main rules in the book! As an Engineer, you don’t go poking something that just *acted* broken - you had to get a good look at it first, determine if it was still doing its job, and just make sure it didn’t need a little oiling instead of a replacement.

::This is what happens when you’re a propulsionist.::

Rahman: Two years ago, when the changes first started, I was scared. Del and the other doctors didn’t know what to make of me, and then when one of the neurosurgeons onboard offered a chance at an experimental procedure that could solve everything, I took it.

::Gamighan Core would have tied her to a chair, rattling off all the risks and consequences that may occur before he’d let her go through that procedure. Tristam pinched the bridge of his nose, already hearing his father’s possible reaction to all this..::

Core: Well it’s obviously too late to scold you.

Rahman: I know. I knew the risks, and I know it’s my own fault now what’s happened.

::But what had happened? She still hadn’t said it yet.::

Rahman: Dr. Ven had hoped the use of specialized nanites would help strengthen the neurons that appeared to have been weakened by that unknown “neurodegenerative disease” you mentioned.

Core: And?

Rahman: Well, the procedure worked. Except, strengthening the neurons of a metamorph meant that the neuroplasticity was reinforced. In other words, Tristam, I’ll *never* finalize on someone. I’ll always change based on those around me, and what Captain Kells saw in the future--what he had warned me about--was that eventually, I had become unable to live with the stimulus of those around me. Unable to lead, unable to serve in Starfleet. Unable to function in daily life.

::The Rodulan took a solid seat on the deck in front of her, running his hands through his hair.::

Core: . . . that’s how Ross got you to disable the security feeds. He found out you’re a metamorph and used that to help him sabotage the ship.

::Now Tristam *really* wanted to punch him when and if the Rodulan ever saw him again.::

Rahman: Do you have any idea how humiliating it is? To know that you can become so vulnerable to someone else’s whims? That it is only days later that you wonder why you did something, and yet another part of you still feels there was nothing wrong about it? That you’d do it again in a heart beat because of how good it made you feel?

Core: No . . .

::She wiped her eyes again.::

Rahman: [...] it, Tristam, I’m the chief engineer of a starship in the Federation Starfleet!

::Or, she *was*.::

Rahman: But none of that mattered when he came to me. I was just a simple cog in the system he found useful to manipulate. And I did so. *Willingly*.

::Tristam sighed again. She’d admitted to doing it, yes, but Tristam could still see a part of her fighting.:

Core: Don’t think for one minute that you did what you did *willingly*.

::She looked down at him, sitting in front of her, doubtful about how true that was, but she *wanted* to believe him. Maybe it was true? She listened earnestly as he explained.::

Core: When I watched that tape, the angle you came in, your hesitation, every little action you took *before* you disabled the systems? Maybe you did them subconsciously, I don’t know. But it looked to me like you were deliberately trying to get caught. That you *knew* it was wrong.

::He wasn’t going to accept the possibility that Ross had completely gotten into her head.::

Rahman: ...I hope you’re right.

Core: I’m always right.

::For the first time in the night, Roshanara let out a small smile. Somehow, Tristam had managed to surprise her.::

::And then, it was at that moment, alone in the small corridor of Deck 35, that Roshanara realized how clearly she felt here just with Tristam and her. It made sense, though, didn't he? With that four-lobed Rodulan brain of his, it meant that Tristam was immune to the prying minds of telepaths and empaths, including Kriosian metamorphs.::

::She sat down next to him and wrapped her arms around him in a hug, resting her head on his shoulder.::

Rahman: God, you are unbearable, you know that?

Core: Nothing I haven’t heard before. ::he chuckled::

::As surprised as he was from this strange act from Rahman, he pulled her into a proper hug. They could get through this. Even if your physiology was making it difficult, or even if a strange man from the future said things would end badly - there was always a way.::


Lt. Commander Tristam Core

Acting Chief Engineer

USS Garuda


Lt. Commander Roshanara Rahman

Under Investigation

Awaiting Transfer into Custody of StarBase 118 JAG

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