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Agent Evan Delano and Captain Roshanara Rahman: The Arduous Path

Rahman and Rivi Vataix

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[Ed. note: The nomination below is stitched from several sims to present the completed scene.]

((Bridge, USS Veritas)) 

Delano: Given how large a problem piracy has become in recent years, it’s not uncommon for freighters to employ smuggler's techniques to protect valuable cargo. I wouldn't assume anything nefarious.

::It was a good point, and one that Roshanara surmised Delano had come to trust from his time here in the region thus far.::

::Still, their chief engineer had her doubts.::

Walker:  With all due respect?  I'd not assume the reverse either.  And I'd say odds are better than even at least one of them was working with the pirates.  

Sepek: ::controlling his excitement:: Captain, it seems the warp trail heads to an area where the tetryon fields are more dense and active, but then cuts off. I'm assuming that this area is the Shadows?

Blake: Every pirate gang from one end of the Shoals to another knows that we are *all* blind in there. 

::Mei'konda scratched his chin, deep in thought.::

Mei’konda: We’re probaably better equipped than most shiips to operaate in the Shadows.  Most shiips don’t haave Starfleet sensors and the combinaation of durability and maneuverability that the Veritas class has.  Still...

Delano: Unless we know exactly what we’re looking for, I’d advise against entering the Shadows. 

Blake: By the time we reach the Shadows, tracking them will be ten times harder. But last time we tried going after them, we had a good idea where one of their haunts. 

Walker: If we have the locations where they were, it’s possible we could use the warp trails to verify where they were going.  A lot better than going in with blinders on… ::She chuckled softly to soften the statement.:: 

Blake: Reports suggest Veritas got called away before the crew could investigate further. I wouldn't personally know - I was on my personal leave.

::There was a lull in the conversation, and Evan sensed a measure of frustration from the gathered officers. First Lenik. Now, likely, the Kos’karii. And they still weren’t any closer to bringing justice to Captain Carerro’s killers.::

::Mei'konda turned towards Roshanara.::

Mei’konda: I thiink we should interrogaate the Klingon, as soon as she waakes up.  If she would taalk, she might have all the informaation we need.  Up to date guidance chaarts, information on their fleet’s strength… it’s just a matter of getting it from her.

::Roshanara nodded. Warp trails as Sepek noted only went so far. The best place to look for where to go next wasn't out in space but down in sickbay.::

Rahman: Agreed.

Mei’konda: We could offer her plenty in return.  Supplies, mediciine, a small pre-fabriicated house of her own on one of the colony worlds, or baack in Federation space… I mean, if she’d want any of that.

::Delano chuckled softly. When someone looked at him, Evan just shrugged.:: 

Delano: You think she’d owe us one for saving her from certain death. 

Blake: Maybe not a house on the colony worlds. Something tells me the Coalition would gladly set us on fire for that.

::Roshanara leaned against the worktable with both arms, looking first to Walker and Sepek.::

Rahman: Continue to prepare the ship and the Falcon for the warp tow. Ensign Sepek, you'll be working with Commander Walker.

Walker: We’ll get the Falcon ready to soar again Captain.  ::chuckling:: Or at least be dragged with her wings open. 

Sepek: Understood captain.

::The captain then glanced over to Evan, Blake, and Mei’konda.::

Rahman: I want you-

::She stopped when her gaze met Delano’s.::

::In that moment of hesitation, Evan knew exactly what she was thinking. He averted his eyes.:: 

::Given how the man's previous interrogation of a prisoner had turned out, she decided to keep him away from a similar situation.::

Rahman: ...Commanders Blake and Mei'konda to head to sickbay and see if you can get our "guest" to talk.

Blake: We're bribing her?

Mei'konda: If it works, I suppose.  Yes, Captain.

Rahman: Feel free to offer incentives for her, but... 

::She thought of the suggestions Mei'konda had made earlier about what they could offer the Klingon.:::

Rahman: ...don't be afraid to use the stick with the carrot.

::A shorter prison sentence was also an incentive after all.::

Blake: We'll see.

::The Caitian shook his head.::

Mei'konda: We won’t be.  Of courrse.  Good cop, bad cop, riight?

::Good. They all had their tasks.::

::Well, except...::

Rahman: Let's get some answers. Dismissed.

::As the other officers split off to their duties, Roshanara and Delano remained at the table.::

::She looked to him.:: 

Delano: Shall I return to my quarters? 

Rahman: You should feel free to continue offering your insight, agent... on the bridge.

Delano: But not in sickbay. Or the brig. 

::The accusation in his voice wasn’t really fair, but the bitterness Evan felt was getting the better of him. That look she’d given him had been a visceral representation of all the frustration he’d felt about Starfleet since he’d left the Invicta.:: 

::What he’d done had ultimately saved the president’s life. But even that consolation wasn’t enough to make him feel good about what had happened. And, perhaps worst of all, a part of him would still be tempted to do it again, if the circumstances were the same. He’d grown so much in the last year, but a part of him feared he was still unworthy of the uniform he’d put aside. Perhaps that’s why it had felt so uncomfortable. And why he’d chosen the civilian clothing now.::

::She took a breath.::

Rahman: ...let's go to my ready room.

:: Evan nodded, pausing just long enough to save his work and log off his partition. :: 

Delano: After you, Captain. 

::She led the way as they walked off the bridge into the small office.::

((Captain’s Ready Room)) 

:: She didn’t waste time once the doors were shut behind them. She turned, and faced him with that stern captain’s expression he’d seen a few times since he’d come aboard. :: 

Rahman: You had further questions, agent?

::The man in front of her took a long breath before he spoke.::

:: Evan bit back a sarcastic response and instead focused on the imagery exercises the Reya-Laialara often employed to control strong outbursts of emotion. He saw himself on a mountain. He could feel the wind and the cold, and see the clouds below, but he did not need to do more than acknowledge they were there. :: 

:: He took a deep breath, then spoke in a measured tone. :: 

Delano: I understand why you don’t want me interrogating a prisoner. If not for the Ross incident, then there would still be the simple fact that I'm not here in an official Starfleet capacity.

::She crossed her arms. He was right, although the matter was not quite as simple, actually. His capacity as a part of Federation Security might have privileged him to participate in the interrogation. The simple fact was the "Ross incident."::

::She didn't say anything just yet, and so he continued.::

Delano: What concerns me is that you weren't willing to let me down there, even with Blake and Mei'konda in the room. 

::She looked up at him. "Even with Blake and Mei'konda in the room," Delano stood at an impressive 191 cm, with the physicality to match his height. Standing here now in her ready room, he towered over her, with the top of her head barely reaching his shoulders.::

Rahman: You find that unreasonable?

Delano: No. And I don’t blame you for being cautious.

:: A part of him did blame her, and he suspected she would be able to recognize that small lie for what it was. Still, he was trying not to, and he hoped that counted for something. ::

Delano: I just… I'm not sure I can be aboard this ship if every time something like this comes up, you look at me like I've just kicked your favorite puppy. 

Rahman: Nonsense.

::She kept her gaze on him.::

Rahman: You didn't kick a puppy. You assaulted a prisoner during an interrogation. I don't see any reason to place you in a position where that situation may occur again--and neither did Captain Kells, if you recall.

::She hadn't meant that last point as a jab, just a reminder that her hesitation to let him near a prisoner wasn't unprecedented.::

::But it still felt a bit harsh. She took a deep breath herself.::

Rahman: I respect that you feel differently. And as we discussed after your court martial, I am willing to move forward since what happened with Ross. But it would be negligent of me to not take some precautions in light of what happened.

::She could see--and sense--the earnest frustration he was feeling.::

Delano: I am what I am. But, I've come a long way, if that matters. ::beat:: At the settlement, I felt like I was in a place where I could be myself without the pressure of always living up to this impossible Starfleet standard.

::The frustration he’d been feeling was bleeding into his voice, but he took a few measured breaths and let it slide down the mountain, acknowledged but not in control.::

Delano: I’m sorry, Captain. I'm not angry at you. I honestly thought I was passed this whole Ross thing. But whenever it comes up there's just this raw, gordian knot of emotion I can't seem to untangle. Not when I'm face to face with it, anyway. ::beat:: Maybe keeping me out of that interrogation was the right call. 

Rahman: You took an oath to uphold that standard. One that your colleagues did as well. And up until what happened back at Astrofori One, you *did* live up to that standard. Why is it impossible now?

::She frowned, genuinely interested in wanting to know more about what was behind that sliver of vulnerability he was showing her now.::

:: Evan looked back at her, blue eyes betraying his own uncertainty. :: 

Delano: I don’t know. ::He finally admitted.::  But Ross wasn’t the first time I’ve lost control. In some ways, I can’t help but think this was inevitable. 

Rahman: Did those at the settlement help you come to terms with what happened?

Delano: In some ways. I never denied responsibility for what happened - that’s why I pleaded guilty. But, the Reya-Laialara helped me find a way to have control without resorting to a traditional Vulcan philosophy of stoicism and unfaltering logic. 

Rahman: You already know this, but perhaps it would help to talk with a counselor.

Delano: Perhaps. :: He agreed. :: I’ve worked with counselors in the past. 

::He left it at that, though the idea of sitting down with Raissa made him uncomfortable for some reason. He’d do it. But it wasn’t something he was looking forward to.::

::She nodded.::

Rahman: I know. There is no magical fix. And even the ones we love can feel helpless when they're not sure what they can do to make things better.

Delano: Sometimes there’s nothing they can do. For whatever it’s worth, I still appreciate the thought and effort. 

::She leaned back against the edge of her desk, looking down for a moment towards Delano's shoes.::

Rahman: Maybe keeping you out of that interrogation was the right call, but maybe it was also unfair to you. You took responsibility for your actions, and you accepted the consequences.

Delano: I tried.  

::She raised her head back up to look at him, her arms still crossed in front of her.::

Rahman: I was telling your fiance when he first stepped aboard this vessel and walked through that door, asking to join the mission to find you... I told him about how even after you and I had agreed to try to work on moving forward together, I was disheartened to see first you and then him leave. I felt sorry again for having ever known Harrison Ross and for having asked you to conduct that interrogation.

::She had asked Delano to interrogate Ross because she'd been wary of her own ability to do so without being compromised. It was one of the few decisions in her career--like when she'd first invited Tristam to join her research--that had haunted her long after.::

Delano: It’s… a complicated situation. And I’m sorry for putting you through that. At the time, it seemed like leaving Invicta - and taking this assignment with Federation Security - was the best thing I could do to help you and the crew get past it.  

Rahman: Yet despite what we told ourselves in that last conversation, we obviously have not moved on.

::Taking a breath, the captain straightened, then took a step towards him. Evan felt the urge to stand up straighter and tuck his hands behind his back. He resisted the latter.:: 

Rahman: Only you can answer this question: how do you feel? How much have you changed? If you were back in that interrogation room with Ross as the man you are now, would things have happened differently?

::And of course, could she trust him? But that question remained unsaid.::

Delano: Honestly, Captain, I don’t know. I want to believe that it would be different. But… 

::He paused, looking her in the eye. Finally, he resolved to be as open as he could about this. :: 

Delano: We needed the information Ross had. Lives were at stake. The integrity of the Federation itself was at risk. ::beat::  I let my anger and frustration take charge back in that cell. I’ll regret that for the rest of my life. That said - all emotion aside - there’s a part of me that can’t help but think that the end justified the means. 

::She shook her head slightly. But he already knew what she was going to say. She’d said it at his court martial.::

Rahman: You know very well my thoughts on that line of thinking.

::Though he remained motionless, she could sense the emotional maelstrom that lay behind that cool Vulcanoid exterior.::

::He took a carefully measured breath, allowing him a precious moment to collect his thoughts and to allow the emotion behind his voice to settle from boil to simmer.::

Delano: And, maybe that’s why I don’t belong in that uniform anymore. I’m not sure that I ever did. 

Rahman: That’s not what your academy instructors thought. It’s not what Captain Kells or I thought.

::She raised her eyebrow at him.::

Rahman: And it’s not what your fiancé thinks.

Delano: I don’t think Mei’konda understands. He wants me to ask for you to reinstate me and give me a permanent posting here on Veritas

::She looked back at him earnestly.::

Rahman: What do you want?

Delano: I think… maybe I just need some time. We still haven’t figured out exactly how the Reya-Laialara are connected to Lenik, the Kos’karii, and Captain Carrero’s death. Until that’s resolved, I’ll help out however I can. Whether that means putting me at a station on the bridge, or keeping me below decks until you need me for something is your call. 

::The captain seemed to consider that, though her body language made Evan think she was still somewhat uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had gone.::

::She nodded, her arms still crossed in front of her.::

Rahman: I appreciate that. You and Commander Blake are the two most experienced individuals among my senior staff when it comes to this region. From what I gather, this isn’t just a short-term assignment, so I would value your expertise beyond just the current mission.

Delano: What would that mean exactly?

Rahman: We’ll work out the specifics later, but for now, you may consider yourself a bridge officer.

Delano: I’m up-to-date on most of the Veritas specs. With the exception of what’s classified. 

::The captain’s hands went to her hips.::

Rahman: I trust a refresher course in starship operations isn’t necessary?

::Evan suppressed a small chuckle, if only because he wasn’t 100% sure it was a joke.:: 

Delano: No, Captain. I think I’ll be fine. 

::There was a momentary calm between them and Evan found himself straightening his posture.:: 

Rahman: Just focus on your job, and I think a path will reveal itself. Whether that’s back to Starfleet or to something else… well, only God or whomever you wish to attribute your fate knows.

Delano: I’ll… try not to disappoint you. 

::She looked at him for a moment, standing before her in his civilian clothing. And then, she took another step closer to him still, plucking the combadge from her chest and placing it over his left breast. After she finished adjusting it, she took a step back and looked back up at him.::

Rahman: Consider that a bit of a nudge towards one direction.

:: Evan placed a hand on the warm metal, his fingertips finding the familiar points. :: 

Delano: Thank you, Captain. 

::And finally, for the first time in a long while, she smiled at Delano.::

Rahman: Dismissed, agent.


Agent @Evan Delano
Special Advisor, USS Veritas
Writer ID: T239007ED0


Capt. @Roshanara Rahman
Commanding Officer, USS Veritas
Writer ID: I238705TZ0

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