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Dr. Del Vedova and LtCmdr Rahman: Definitive Diagnosis


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Previously on StarBase 118: Mercury...

  • 2392: "Allah Yerhama"
  • 2404, Parts 1 and 2: "The Life After"

And now the continuation...

Dr. Del Vedova and LtCmdr Rahman: Definitive Diagnosis

"Do not be afraid; our fate

Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift."

Dante Alighieri, Inferno

(( Sickbay, USS Mercury, 2390 ))

:: Del was a pacer only in the most extreme of situations, and considering what he was about to do to his friend -- probably his best on the Mercury, given how little he saw Aron these days, and how (literally!) old he'd become -- he thought that this situation qualified. He almost wanted Rosh to come up with an excuse. Say you have to fix all the hamster wheels on deck thirteen! Make something up about a dual-polarized matrix kebabing machine! But she'd asked to meet with him -- and only him -- specifically. That was the basis of the friendship. She trusted him. He felt sick to his stomach: That was about to end.

When the doors opened, he hoped it was anyone else, but she was usually on time and it was exactly 2100. He tried to smile at her. He didn't. ::

RAHMAN: Thanks for meeting with me, Del.

DEL VEDOVA: Hey, uh, there.

:: She walked over and hopped onto a biobed as he followed. She gave him an apologetic smile, shrugging slightly. ::

RAHMAN: Sorry for cutting into your evening.

:: He smiled at the floor. ::

DEL VEDOVA: I'm happier when I'm busy anyway. Don't worry about it.

:: She nodded as she sat back with one arm held out against the bed to support her. ::

RAHMAN: You and Dr. Hawkeye will be pleased to hear I feel pretty spry, all things considering.

DEL VEDOVA: Well, I'd be surprised if you didn't. I'm sure Hawkeye will be very pleased to hear that.

RAHMAN: Please send him my compliments. I'm sure he did all the work.

:: She chuckled, but the medical bay's ambience remained somber. The switched-off monitors, dull hum of the atmospheric ventilation system, and deserted scene around the two of them only highlighted how tonight's meeting was anything but the typical follow-up appointment. ::

DEL VEDOVA: (quietly) I will.

RAHMAN: Anyway, I think...

:: She paused and looked around, as if making sure there was no one there to eavesdrop on them despite how clearly vacant the triage area was. Still, she leaned in, her voice lower than before. ::

RAHMAN: I think the surgery wasn't successful.


:: How could he do it, then? No, if it hadn't worked, then what Aron had asked him to do ... made perfect sense. More sense than it would have made if the surgery had worked. Del couldn't meet her eye. ::

DEL VEDOVA: What makes you say so?

RAHMAN: The headaches are back. They returned slowly over the weeks following the operation. But it's not just that...

:: She stared back at him shamefaced, as if she had disappointed him. ::

RAHMAN: It's the other issue I... brought up with you before...


:: He wouldn't commit to confirming this; he'd jumped right back into doctor mode and despite what lurked beyond, his concern was his patient and his friend. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Tell me exactly.

RAHMAN: Those... strange feelings and thoughts we talked about? They've started up again. Not as distracting as before, but they seem to come to me more easily now...

:: The worry in her eyes said it all. ::

RAHMAN: I think we might have made things worse.

:: Ven would be displeased. That was Del's first thought, that Ven would be displeased. This wouldn't be a landmark case at all, it'd be just one more failure. Never mind the implications to the relationships around him. He had to tell her-- ::

RAHMAN: I mean... I know there weren't any guarantees, and I chose to take the risk. I'm not blaming anyone but myself for getting my hopes up. I just... I was hoping you might have some ideas on what we could try now?

:: Too much. This charade was over, as collapsed now by him. He leaned in close to her and spoke in a quiet voice. ::

DEL VEDOVA: Go on, get out. Quickly.

:: Too late. Del felt more than heard Aron's entrance out of the office. He didn't look around, not at her confused expression nor at Aron; he looked down. It was done. Et tu and all that. He sighed, but very softly. ::

:: Aron strode towards Roshanara Rahman on the biobed. His face was set, the results of the pertinent tests on a PADD in his hand. He tried not to look angry as he neared, but it wasn't easy, not because he was angry with Rahman but because he hated what he was doing. But, at the same time, he knew it was necessary. Or was that just a fine placatory thing to say?

He knew that the consequences of their mission to 83 Leonis II should never be allowed to recur: He knew, even if he wasn't willing to admit it, that he'd kept Rahman on that shuttle not entirely for her own safety but as an attempt to circumvent the fate that awaited her in the years to come -- and that he had played a part in setting into motion.

His intention on 83 Leonis II may have been well-meaning but proved ill-thought-out and had nearly cost her life. He couldn't do that again, absolutely not. It was time to confront her. ::

KELLS: Lieutenant Commander, a word, please?

RAHMAN: Captain! I...

:: She looked again at Del, still shocked at the sudden intrusion, but the doctor didn't say anything. ::

RAHMAN: I, um... didn't realize you were here. I was just checking in with Dr. del Vedova for a follow-up.

KELLS: I know. That's why this is an ideal time to talk. You don't have to move. Dr. del Vedova, you may continue the exam.

DEL VEDOVA: ::dully:: The exam's over. The procedure didn't work. Her condition is worse than it was before. (beat) In fact, with the introduction of the mechanobiota, we may have accelerated its onset.

:: She couldn't believe it: Del knew the captain had been here all along, waiting to intrude. He had planned for it!

She was livid. She wanted to scream at the doctor. She wanted to leap off the biobed, shove him to the deck, and run out of there, never to return.

And if the intruder had been anyone else on the ship, she would have. But Del had chosen to break her confidentiality with the one person she couldn't run away from. ::

KELLS: I do apologize for seeking you out here, Lieutenant Commander, but I am concerned about your performance.

:: Her performance? Is that why he had seemed so concerned earlier in the ready room? ::

RAHMAN: Captain, given the circumstances, I don't believe anything else could have been done on the surface differently. And with the recovered sensor readings from the shuttle, we should still be able to expose what really happened down there.

KELLS: Not on the away team. I'm referring to a larger pattern of behaviors and events that may carry into the future. Most specifically, though, I'm referring to the elective surgery you underwent several months ago.

:: That was what he was referring to? She was taken off-guard by the sudden shift of focus back onto her medical condition. She felt her heart racing as her eyes darted between the two men standing over her. Part of her just wanted to die right there. ::

RAHMAN: As I assured you previously... ::Her gaze flashed over to Del, who continued to scan without making eye contact with her.:: ...and I'm sure as Dr. del Vedova will attest now, I remain fully able to perform my duties as chief engineer.

KELLS: I don't doubt that. Now. (beat) But in less than two years, you will lose the ability to make quick decisions in critical situations.

:: Her eyes, filled with confusion and fear, locked onto his. Here, she was fourteen years younger than the woman he had found on that remote Dopterian ocean colony. The coffee and final conversation they had shared then was a faded memory, seventeen years old for the eldest Kells. Once, they had been but a few years apart in age; now, nearly three decades separated them. He looked down at her, slight and made even shorter by sitting on the biobed, and he felt irritatingly paternal. ::

KELLS: The ramifications will cost you your Starfleet commission.

:: Her voice was shaky. ::

RAHMAN: ...what?

KELLS: That's not all that's at stake. Within five years, you'll be overwhelmed by the splintered personalities in your mind and will no longer be able to be anywhere near people. You'll lose not only your career but your friends, your family, the life around you. (beat) I'd like to avoid that.

:: For the moment, she set aside her feelings of anger and betrayal. The captain's ominous words -- coupled with how uncomfortably close he was standing over her -- caused her to hesitate in reply. ::

RAHMAN: How... how do you know this?

KELLS: Because I've seen it. (beat) In the future I came from, Doctors Ven and del Vedova also performed an experimental surgery and, accidentally, accelerated the condition's onset. (beat) In the words of the doctor.

:: Del was not looking at either of them, and while Aron was sorry for having used his friend, he knew what had happened in his future when he'd been ignorant of Rahman's condition and how that had brought down their relationship anyway. Well, if this did the same once again, then so be it -- at least he had his own hand in the action this time.

Aron's immediate reactions, upon deciding to reveal everything he had, were a heady flush of catharsis, followed by guilt. After both incidents when he had merged with his future selves, he'd been briefed extensively about the Temporal Prime Directive, and the only time he'd ever broken it before was to tell Didrik Stennes about their relationship. This, though, was an entirely different situation.

He could argue that one Starfleet engineer was not enough to turn things around, but he'd studied causality with his biology degree back at the Academy. He hadn't paid it much attention then but had since studied it in much greater detail. Helping Rahman with a stabilization of personality was something that violated the directive, no question, but, he wondered, was it the act of telling her about it or the action of doing something about it that violated the directive more?

No matter, because he planned to do both, now that he'd done the former; and if he had to bear the consequences, well, then he would. But he knew what it was like to have too many voices in one's head, and though he was able to control his to some degree, he had some idea of what it would be like to lose his sanity and his sense of self to those overwhelming voices. Yes, if he could help her avoid that, he would, no questions asked. ::

:: She remained very quiet, looking up at him as he continued. ::

KELLS: Now that the surgery has happened in this timeline, we must anticipate the ramifications if we are to prevent what I've seen -- what I know will happen otherwise -- from occurring.

:: And yet … the youngest Kells pointed out the obvious: No Kells of the three in his head had remembered a supervolcanic catastrophe at 83 Leonis, nor the consequences thereof, and that meant plainly that things had already changed. His memory of Roshanara Rahman and the events leading up to her medical discharge from Starfleet were no longer going to happen -- at least, not exactly how it had before. Her fate had yet to be decided in this timeline, which was both a comfort yet one of his greatest fears: Because what if it were worse?

He knew one possible outcome, yet the knowledge tortured him rather than serve as some sort of divine insight. Applying that knowledge to influence her fate indirectly had ended in near disaster. Choosing to remain silent indefinitely from now on seemed no more liberating. If the future he had seen for her -- and Del -- still came to pass, he would know that he had dismissed the opportunity to stop it; and if it didn't, then he would have lived a lifetime wracked with guilt and uncertainty for nothing.

But, he reminded all of his selves, this wasn't about him. This had everything to do with her and his recollections of his years chasing Roshanara Rahman into the first decade of the twenty-fifth century. [...]it, he thought, if he wasn't going to help her, even if she refused to help herself. ::

KELLS: This is very far beyond orders and books. I have no authority to make you act dependent upon a possible future I observed. (beat) But the alternative, doing nothing and watching you deteriorate quickly while feigning ignorance, is not something I'm going to continue. This is your condition and your choice, and I know that I am, for all intents and purposes, practically a stranger. I'm not asking you to trust me, and I know that you probably can't, not yet. But I am asking you to let me help you, because I can do that.


KELLS: Dr. del Vedova has informed me that you, he, Dr. Ven, and the entire medical staff are working off an unknown diagnosis: You see a problem, yes, but not the larger puzzle into which it fits. (beat) Roshanara, I do know what's really going on here.


Dr. Nic del Vedova

Chief of Emergency Services, USS Mercury


Lt.Cmdr. Roshanara Rahman

Chief Engineer, USS Mercury


Captain Aron Kells

CO, USS Mercury

Edited by Vash
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