SIM:JP: Aron Kells & Roshanara Rahman: The Life After (Part 1)
Author's Note: On stardate 239005.03, Aron Kells was combined in a Ring-induced temporal incident with his 60-year-old self to create a double who was infused with his memories from the future. Aron Kells himself was kept prisoner for nine months while his double returned to the USS Mercury and continued to serve as CO, believing he was in fact the 60-year-old Aron Kells who had traveled back in time from the year 2421. Both Kells and his double's subsequent actions after stardate 239005.03 have altered the original timeline.
This SIM was written and presented on Jun 28, 2013 (corresponding to the IC stardate 239006.28), but the events in this SIM take place in 2404, in the original timeline before it was disrupted by the return of Kells and his double from the Ring. It has been presented in italics to emphasize this distinction from the current/altered timeline.
(( USS Pollux, 2404 ))
:: Aron Kells was a fleet captain, in general command of Starfleet Science's 17th fleet of research vessels heading coreward from the frontier of explored space in the Beta Quadrant, expanding upon his work with the Mercury in years previous -- and as a fleet captain, he was not used to traveling in vessels as small as the Pollux, even though it was an advanced argonaut, successor to the earlier runabouts.
He cruised at full impulse toward the sixth moon of the third gas giant around Epsilon Camelopardalis after having warped in a fair distance away; he preferred a slower approach so that he could think a bit as he got closer. He wasn't really sure what he was about to say, but he was certain that, even though he'd easily commanded captains and ships for a few years, confronting an old crewmate was not the easiest thing he'd ever done...
...and it was made even more difficult by the sudden ringing of the proximity alert. He scrambled toward the controls -- all he needed was to be blown apart by a Gorn Interceptor -- but as soon as he saw the ship's profile, he relaxed half a dozen hairs. What was a Cavell-class hospital ship doing out doing this far without an escort? His communication system began to ring at once, which at least meant that he was about to get some answers. He triggered the system and the holosystem displayed the face of an old friend. ::
KELLS: Commander del Vedova, it's been a while.
DEL VEDOVA: It has indeed. May I ask what you're doing so far from the 17th fleet, sir?
KELLS: You may not. My leave time is my own. Although I may ask what you and the Chebotaryova are doing so far from sector 775?
DEL VEDOVA: You know it all, sir, as always.
KELLS: Not at all; I merely pay attention to the comings and going of old friends. (beat) This situation is no different.
DEL VEDOVA: It is. She would not want you here. That time has passed.
KELLS: Maybe. Maybe not. I'm still going down there.
DEL VEDOVA: I can only ask you not to.
KELLS: And you've done so. Pollux, out.
:: He cut the channel and the hologram disappeared. The Chebotaryova cruised after him and Aron, who knew Del better than the commander thought -- or remembered -- knew he had just a moment before the hospital ship engaged its tractor beam. He triggered the Pollux's warp engines and, for several seconds, jumped to warp. He brought the Pollux out of warp just outside of the moon's atmosphere and began his descent immediately; even if the Chebotaryova followed him, which he didn't think Del would do, it wasn't rated for atmospheric flight and Del would not beam down after him.
He brought down the argonaut toward the sole transponder on the planet, though he realized as he descended that if she really didn't want to be found, it was unlikely that she would be there. As he skimmed low over the world ocean, he realized that the signal was not leading him toward one of the seamounts, but was bringing him to an area of ocean above a deep abyss. Was the community underwater?
No. He saw it as he crested the next horizon, and he slowed quickly from mach one down to a more appropriate speed. The island was not the technological marvel or flotilla that he'd first assumed it was, it was a collection of old oceangoing vessels welded and, in some cases, wedged and roped together. It was still a puzzling act of engineering genius, and this observation made Aron realize that he had been correct.
He brought the Pollux down at the landing pad beside the transponder, but before he could open the outer door, his comm unit began to ring again. He tabbed it on, expecting Del to give him another try; but it wasn't him, it was a being, humanoid probably but not entirely certain, with its face covered with a mask. Some sort of mask etiquette? Well, he couldn't have known, and now he could only hope that this individual would say what he or she had to say anyway. The computer relayed that the call was coming from on the floating conglomeration, and Aron felt his heart leap. What if this was her? ::
OVERSEER: You are unwelcome here.
:: No, unlikely: Even with the passage time, he couldn't see how her voice would sound like that. ::
KELLS: Excuse me. I am Fleet Captain Aron Kells of the Federation Starfleet's 17th fleet, and I am accustomed to an explanation before I receive a complete rebuff.
OVERSEER: You have no jurisdiction here. These are not your stars or your planets. Leave, now.
KELLS: No. (beat) I'm here to meet with someone. An old -- acquaintance. Roshanara Rahman.
:: The mask prevented his easy determination if the individual had recognized the name, but the brief pause before the being's reply suggested to him that either he was completely wrong, or she was here and this person didn't want him to know. ::
OVERSEER: Not here. Not here. You, leave, now.
KELLS: If necessary, I can scan this complex easily, find her, and beam to her location. I'm respecting your autonomy by not doing so, but--
OVERSEER: You cannot.
:: It was said too quickly, too easily to be a full lie, so Aron ran a quick and surreptitious scan. The speaker was correct: Aron's sensors couldn't penetrate the floating island; there was some sort of powerful dampener in effect. Again, he took this as confirmation that she was there. Who else could have done it? ::
KELLS: Then I'll search by foot.
OVERSEER: You will not. We will not let you.
:: But Aron was losing his patience. ::
KELLS: A phaser on its maximum setting could blow a hole straight through one of these rusting barges and founder this whole damn scumtrap. Understood?
:: There was a slight growl from the other party before he or she switched off the monitor temporarily before turning it back on again. ::
OVERSEER: You may stay for one hour. We do not guarantee she will see you. Regardless, you will leave in one hour, or we will call for the Gorn. They are not such gracious hosts as we.
KELLS: One hour will be more than sufficient. Out.
:: Aron snapped off the projector, and the masked man was gone. He pulled the weapon he'd promised from the storage locker and, even though the interference was still going strong, pulled out a tricorder and a couple of other sensing devices. Better to be prepared either way.
The stink of this overly salinated sea, the rusting barges, and the excrement of the indigenous animal life (one bird of which kept circling his head, making a sound like a wildebeest during childbirth) kept him from forming even the slightest desire to be there more than a second more than he had to -- but he also knew that he wasn't about to back off now. He just tried not to breathe too deeply as he searched around.
Thankfully, he began to run into a few individuals, all of whom wore masks, but also, now that they were more than just holograms, he could identify positively as Dopterians. What they were doing out here, and with some kind of bizarre mask etiquette, though, he couldn't say. Religious? Cultural? Sect-social? Studying the cultural practices of sentients was not at all his field, and so he had very little to offer them -- as they did him, as all his requests for information fell on deaf ears. Maybe literally? Was it possible that the Dopterians were all deaf? He shrugged to himself.
The few "buildings" he saw were rough and constructed of metal sheets, not engineering marvels at all, but after he saw one Dopterian emerge from a hidden section of the hull, his heart sank. He could count the buildings he saw on two hands, but if he had to enter some kind of sub-labyrinth and search, there was no way he'd do that in an hour.
Thankfully, he at last ran into a Dopterian who indulged his request for information about a Kriosian female by pointing to the very last building on the floating mistake, so close to the bow's edge that it continually caught the spray and, maybe, he thought, sounded like it was raining inside. Not such a bad place to live. However, when he knocked, he found nothing inside except a device he didn't recognize about the size of his head.
It was humming slightly and lit up in shades of green-blue every few seconds -- and, according to his suddenly completely useless tricorder, was the source of the jamming. He took aim with his phaser and blew it up, one fluid motion, almost without thinking. With the signal gone, the tricorder found her in less than five seconds.
He exited the small building and headed aft, toward a large cargo container grafted onto its similar neighbors. Unlike the other buildings, all of which tended to face inward towards some sort of mockery of "town," this one, like its fellow on the bow, faced out toward the sea. Aron took the stairs two at a time and met there three masked Dopterians, one of whom he recognized (he thought) as the one he'd spoken to in the argonaut.
The overseer beckoned to him and then continued climbing, up toward the building's very top. As they climbed (more slowly now that Aron wasn't charging ahead), Aron realized that this building was built very much like a lighthouse: And perched there at the top was a small dwelling. *This*, he thought, this would be it.
Correct! But they didn't have to knock or go looking or anything, because there she was, standing outside, waiting. The overseer stepped toward her and Aron, despite every act of bravado up through that point, shrunk back. ::
OVERSEER: Excuse me, Roshanara. You have a visitor.
:: He looked over at Aron. ::
OVERSEER: He was most insistent.
:: Now Rahman's eyes found him, but he couldn't meet them. From what he could see, though, there was no emotion there. A big... nothing. ::
RAHMAN: I know.
Commander, 17th Fleet, Starfleet Science