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JP: Capt. Kells & LtCmdr. Rahman: Replacement Parts

Alora DeVeau

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"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man."


(( Captain's Ready Room, USS Garuda, 2392 ))

:: As a former chief engineer, Roshanara could count on one hand the number of times she'd been to the captain's ready room. Her domain was deep below decks. A chief engineer away from engineering usually meant one of two things: the ship was docked for shore leave or things were going pretty badly. ::

:: But while the Garuda was safely docked at DSX, she wasn’t a chief engineer anymore. She wasn’t even on active duty. So why was she here? ::

RAHMAN: You wished to see me, captain?

:: Oh, wow. He was going to have to get used to hearing that again. Well, granted, some people, Rahman among them, had always referred to him that way. With the reactivation of his commission earlier in the year, it was also technically correct to refer to him by his rank. But now, with the news of his new position spread far and wide by duty rosters and, more importantly, ship- and station-wide gossip, he was going to have to get used to hearing it a lot. Again. ::

KELLS: Doctor, as you saw at the ceremony -- I’ve agreed to take command of the Garuda.

:: A slight smirk escaped her lips. ::

RAHMAN: Agreed, sir, or ordered to?

:: She normally wouldn’t have been so playful around Captain Kells, but you didn’t have to be an empath to sense the unease the captain had expressed at the transfer of command ceremony. ::

KELLS: ::deadpan:: Egan Manno threatened to have me stripped naked and tossed into space if I declined.

:: She nodded thoughtfully. ::

RAHMAN: Captain Egan Manno always struck me as a tough love kind of officer.

KELLS: Not to mention an economical one. She could’ve reused the uniform.

RAHMAN: Of course, she was an engineer like me.

:: It was his turn to smirk, but as soon as he had, the look slid off of his face. They could banter about it all day, but that wouldn’t bring him any closer to asking her what he’d brought her there to ask. He had to admit, though, that he was a little nervous about doing it. What if she said no? Well, he’d cross that bridge when he came to it. Besides, it wasn’t as though he’d had a lot of choice, either. ::

KELLS: “Was” being the operative word in her case -- and in yours. ::beat:: I’ve spoken with her about this, as well as with Doctor del Vedova. I understand you’ve been working with Commander Core since your reassignment regarding your ::beat:: condition. Yes?

:: The casual atmosphere evaporated, and Roshanara did her best to not squirm as she stood there. ::

:: First it had just been Del. Then Del and Dr. Ven. Then Del, Dr. Ven, and Captain Kells--well, the older Kells that had returned from the Ring. And now it seemed half the ship knew about her condition. Fortunately, though her arrest had reached the public, the results of Lieutenant Naughton’s investigation had been quietly buried into the archives. ::

:: But still, the damage had been done. She’d been declared unfit for duty. She’d lost her access privileges. She was barred from her second home of engineering. ::

:: In the two years since that Captain Kells had warned her about what was to happen, what fate awaited her, it seemed she’d been unable to do very little to change things. ::

:: And then there was her greater fear--that perhaps she’d made things worse. That Captain Kells hadn’t mentioned that she’d have been arrested on charges of terrorism after all. ::

RAHMAN: Yes, we have. He’s been… helping me hone some techniques regarding controlling the…

:: She paused, not sure how exactly to describe it. Metamorphic abilities? Empathic abilities? Her vulnerability? ::

RAHMAN: ...well, anyway. Yes.

KELLS: Well, good. I’ll be honest, I was very happy to see that you were out here again. I’ve seen Commander Core’s work and I know he’s a fine engineer -- but you were my first chief. Loyalty and all that.

:: She nodded at the kind words. ::

KELLS: Speaking of, I’d like to reinstate you for active starship duty.

:: His voice, which had verged a little on the gruff when he recalled without specifics their first meeting, was nevertheless chipper when he suggested her reinstatement. ::

:: Her response was a little more guarded. ::

RAHMAN: ...thank you, captain, but I don’t understand the need.

:: Unless he was planning to replace Tristam. ::

RAHMAN: Wait. Captain. While I appreciate the gesture, Commander Core shouldn’t be bumped from his position out of a sense of… loyalty.

:: It wasn’t fair. Whatever Tristam might think about his abilities, he’d shown since he’d taken the position last year that he had what it takes to lead an engineering department, most notably in his dedication to their safety during the Kindred incident. ::

KELLS: Oh, I’m not thinking of replacing Core. No, I’m thinking much closer to home. ::beat:: You know Egan Manno took Bakari with her.

:: Of the bridge officers that remained, Mei’konda was the natural choice to succeed him, though he would have been rather young to be given the responsibility of XO. Still, Roshanara had gotten the privilege to witness how much the Caitian had developed from his first days as an ensign straight from the Academy. ::

:: But wait. Surely if he already had picked Mei’konda or even Delano, then why had he called to see her--

Oh no. ::

KELLS: I’m assigning you as my first officer.

:: She just looked back at him for what seemed like the longest moment, blinking once. ::

KELLS: Well, say something!

:: She hesitated, not exactly sure what there was to say! Maybe she’d heard him incorrectly. ::

:: So many thoughts and possible reactions were rushing through her mind to what he’d just said. Shock. Confusion. Fear. Anger. ::

:: Oh, to hell with it! If he wanted to know what she thought, then she’d let him know, [...] him! ::

RAHMAN: Um, permission to speak freely, sir?

KELLS: I think I just gave it.

:: She nodded, taking a deep breath before furrowing her brow. ::

RAHMAN: Are you out of your #@%$-ing mind?!

KELLS: ...Not that freely.

RAHMAN: This is a Galaxy class starship with a crew of a thousand, not some personal pleasure craft you just hand over to any pretty face wandering by. ::beat:: Or dole out in a sense of pity.

:: He raised an eyebrow so high that he suspected that even Saveron would’ve been impressed. ::

KELLS: Or loyalty?

RAHMAN: Surely there are more qualified candidates! If not Mei’konda, then a transfer from elsewhere in the fleet.

KELLS: That is an option, of course. Astrofori One has its own dedicated task force -- Peaceforce Five -- and I’m sure its ships are full of officers looking for advancement opportunities.

RAHMAN: Excellent. Choose one of them.

:: To this, he only gave her a wide smile. It was almost goading, and he tried to tone it down a little. ::

KELLS: But I don’t want them. I want you.

:: She could feel herself wanting to ball up her firsts. She wanted to pound them on the desk that separated them. ::

RAHMAN: Captain… I don’t think I would be the best first officer for you.

KELLS: Oh? Go on, Doctor, talk me out of it. I’m listening.

RAHMAN: Your first officer should be someone you can count on, as surely as you would count your life--and those of your crew--on any one of the myriad of systems aboard this ship that keep us alive. ::beat:: I can’t guarantee that.

KELLS: Perhaps. But then again, maybe Doctor del Vedova thinks otherwise. Maybe Fleet Captain Egan Manno agrees with my choice. Maybe--

:: But he cut himself off and smiled again. She got the point, no doubt. In fact, he had spoken to both Del -- who seemed remarkably more receptive to conversation with him now -- and Egan Manno, both of whom had agreed with his choice. It was only his choice that was disagreeing now. ::

RAHMAN: Captain, with all due respect to Captain Egan Manno and Doctor del Vedova, it’s going to be you who needs that security of mind. A crew is like any other system on this ship. You don’t knowingly install a faulty component in it.

:: His sigh was slight, but it was there nonetheless and took the place of his smile. He was reminded, thanks to her metaphor, of another conversation they’d had -- though he hadn’t exactly been himself just then. ::

KELLS: And who do I replace you with? You’re not a component, faulty or otherwise, to be stuck in and taken back out when the mood suits me. I have thought about this. I’m not asking you on a whim. I want one very specific individual to serve as my first officer: you.

:: She looked back at him, and all she could think was of the much older man who had been standing over her two years ago in sickbay. The Aron Kells who had finally revealed the truth to her about what lay in store. And yet even that Aron Kells was gone now. The man who stood before her today didn’t know the future anymore. How could he be so willing to trust her, even more so than she herself? ::

RAHMAN: Captain, why?

KELLS: I have some memories, though they’re not mine, per se--

:: And he grimaced. He was still sorting out what did and didn’t belong to him, but he thought that everything would eventually be there. Eventually. ::

KELLS: --of you. Standing firm against a particularly horrendous version of me, if the memories can be trusted. He wasn’t very nice, was he? But you disagreed with him. And you were right. If you can disagree with him, then you can disagree with anyone. Particularly me. And I’m going to need it.

:: She returned her own exacerbated sigh. He really had committed to this. Well, fine. If he genuinely wanted a spirited XO who would challenge him, at least in the ready room, and not just rubber stamp his conscience, then that’s what he was going to get. ::

RAHMAN: If you’re really serious about this...

KELLS: I am.

:: She placed her hands on her hips. ::

RAHMAN: Then fine: I have two conditions.

:: Again with his eyebrow. That hadn’t taken long. He told her he wanted disagreement, and by god she was going to be contrary from the beginning. He grinned. ::

KELLS: Go on, then.

RAHMAN: If and when you come across a better candidate for the job, you do not hesitate in replacing me.

KELLS: Mmm. Maybe. ::beat:: But you’re just stating the obvious, aren’t you? If I came across a highly qualified candidate for any position, I’d offer it to that person.

:: She nearly rolled her eyes at him. He was enjoying this far too much now clearly. ::

:: She crossed her arms. ::

RAHMAN: And I get to keep the gold shirt. I’ll continue my work with the Corps of Engineers as my free time allows.

KELLS: I’m not going to steal your clothing. I’m not Egan Manno.

:: She bowed her head slightly. ::

RAHMAN: Well then. I suppose I better go find my uniform and brush up on the duty roster.

KELLS: Yes, I expect that would be a good idea.

:: She wasn't entirely convinced yet this wasn't a terrible idea, but perhaps it was that sense of loyalty again that made her willing to go along with it. She'd trusted him before, and it seemed he trusted her just as much. If he truly held such faith in her, then perhaps she could attempt to have such faith herself.

Before she turned to leave though, she looked back at the man. ::

RAHMAN: I trust you are familiar with the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for,” captain?

:: He was grinning so hard his face was nearly split. Who said that? Who? ::

KELLS: Indeed I am, Commander. And I have another phrase for you, once spoken to me very recently by the person who ::beat:: offered me this position. About the inevitability of facing an officer who knows what she or he wants out of an -- accomplice.

:: She simply returned a raised eyebrow. ::

KELLS: Deal with it.


Captain Aron Kells

CO, USS Garuda


Lt. Cmdr. Roshanara Rahman

First Officer, USS Garuda

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