SIM:JP: Capt. Rahman and Flt. Capt. Reynolds: Passing Ships
Author's Note: I first met Quinn Reynolds and her writer Emma aboard the USS Mercury under then-Captain Aron Kells in 2012. Over the next three years, from the Mercury to the Garuda and finally the Invicta, I had the privilege to read Emma's beautiful writing and excellent character building of not just Quinn but a host of PNPCs and MSPNPCs. One of her most memorable PNPCs was the character of Harrison Ross, who at one point served as Mercury's FO. Ross would go on to play a significant role in my own character's development and story, and Roshanara Rahman simply would not be who she is were it not for Emma's contributions to this storyline that we worked on together.
I enjoy when I can also write frosty IC relations with another player character (PC), which in my experience can only be handled by a very few number of players who are truly capable of keeping IC and OOC separate (especially when you work together OOC!). While the rest of the crew chose a more conventional approach of reconciliation to my character's "traitor-through-manipulation" storyline, Emma had the courage as the great writer she is to have Reynolds be unable to forgive Rahman because of the torture Reynolds herself endured from Ross. It was an IC tragedy that I thought played out well, lasting far past the immediate aftermath of that mission, with both characters going their separate ways—and thus it made it all the more powerful when these two women, now both starship captains, were able to reconcile years later when they finally met again.
The events in this SIM occurred on stardate 239311.12.
((Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, Mars))
Maybe she wouldn’t show up.
“Something came up.” “It’s been a long day, maybe another time.”
Maybe she’d even just tell Roshanara that she’d changed her mind, and that she could go to hell.
It’d been over a year since the two women had last seen one another, when they both had just been assigned to the Invicta. Reynolds continuing on in her role as Director of Intelligence, and Roshanara unexpectedly called on by Captain Kells to serve as his first officer. It would have been an interesting if perhaps tense and awkward arrangement given how closely the two positions worked with one another--indeed, both having offices sharing the same corridor on the Cardiff class ship, but less than a month later, Reynolds had been reassigned to captain the USS Gorkon.
Thus, it seemed one uncomfortable chapter had closed. Though the Gorkon continued to operate in the Menthar Corridor, Roshanara’s role as FO rarely required her to speak directly with other COs in the area, and even when she’d become acting CO of the Invicta, the Gorkon was not one of the ships assigned to the Invicta Expedition.
And then, the Gorkon went missing and eventually declared lost. As others mourned, including those on the Invicta who counted many on the Gorkon as friends and loved ones, Roshanara reflected on her relationship with the Gorkon’s commanding officer. In those final months she’d spent with Reynolds aboard the Garuda and Invicta, the two had mostly stayed out of each other’s way. What was there really to say? Two years ago, Reynolds had been kidnapped and tortured by the Garuda’s first officer Harrison Ross--her own lover. And he’d done it with Roshanara’s help. Of course, the former chief engineer hadn’t done so willingly. Ross had exploited her nascent and uncontrolled metamorphic physiology. And Ross himself wasn’t in control of his actions, having been the victim of an implanted shadow personality.
None of that, however, made the shame disappear when she looked at Reynolds since then. And thanks to that same physiology that had made her a part of what had happened to Reynolds, she could sense that the woman still harbored her own misgivings--if not something harsher--towards her.
And so the deepest conversation the two women had shared about the incident remained one they’d had in the immediate aftermath.
Reynolds: You owe me an explanation.
She spoke quietly, her otherwise soft voice stained by hoarseness and exhaustion.
Roshanara assumed she'd be getting visitors at some point while she still remained aboard the Garuda waiting for the JAG to arrive. She figured her friends at least--Reez, Lidia--would stop by, but none had come actually. She understood, or told herself she did. She couldn't imagine what they must have thought when she was still making sense of it.
But she certainly didn't expect the person who would visit her to be Captain Reynolds.
Reynolds: I'm... fairly sure you heard me.
Her eyes took in her surroundings. She was already aware that Rahman had declined much the much larger quarters due to her for this box room. Not even a double bed, just a small single bunk, a fresh uniform laid out in waiting. There was little of the engineer's personality stamped on the room -- from the PADDs thrown across the desk, you'd think she did little else but sleep and work.
Rahman: Is this part of a formal investigation?
Rahman: Then I'm afraid, Captain, I have no explanation to give you.
Reynolds didn't answer. Instead, her gaze had settled on the uniform on the bed. If the intelligence director was trying to intimidate the former engineer, Roshanara remained firm in her stance. And despite everything that had happened to Captain Reynolds--or at least what Roshanara had gathered from overhearing the security staff's chatter while she had sat in the brig for the past few days--she still didn't trust her.
Her eyes locked onto Quinn's, her voice cold.
Rahman: I think you should leave.
Reynolds: ::She nodded.:: Probably.
Quinn watched her for several heartbeats, looking for something. Anything. She wasn't even sure what. Some trace of regret? Remorse? Maybe just an acknowledgement.
Reynolds: ::Quietly,:: Do you just not… care? That you helped him torture me? That you helped him to do things that are quite literally unspeakable to me?
Roshanara's determined gaze broke as her brow furrowed, a mixture of confusion and surprise. And hurt. She turned away, unable to face Reynolds and her accusation directly.
Rahman: Do you really think I would have helped him if I knew what he had planned to do to you? To this ship? Do you really think I'm that kind of a monster?
Yet it wasn't an accident that she phrased it as a question than a statement of denial. What truly frightened Roshanara was that even she wasn't quite sure if knowing would have made a difference.
When Harry--when Commander Ross asked her to "take care of a few things" for him, she hadn't even questioned why. All that was important was ensuring it be done. For him.
Reynolds: A little while ago, no. But, you know. Then I was kidnapped and tortured by someone I was suppose to be able to trust, so now… I just don't know.
Reynolds: Captain Rahman.
Roshanara turned her head to see the Gorkon’s commanding officer approaching. She stood up from her chair, nodding. She noted the woman’s updated rank insignia.
Rahman: Fleet Captain. Thank you for coming.
Reynolds didn't seem to know quite how to answer that, and so she nodded instead, her eyes drifting past Roshanara to the large windows beside her. She followed the Fleet Captain's gaze outside, where they were offered a magnificent view of the shipyard’s orbiting complexes and drydocks.
Reynolds: I was in the neighbourhood. The Gorkon's being repaired at McKinley Station.
Rahman: I know there are many among the Invicta crew who are thankful to learn that reports of the Gorkon’s loss were… premature.
A frown began to carve its way onto Reynolds' brow, and her gaze remained fixed on the floating constructs beyond.
Reynolds: Partly. There were a lot of families who didn't get good news when we returned.
Rahman: I read the general report and of the severe losses your crew suffered. My condolences.
Reynolds flinched at that, then drew in a deep breath and turned her gaze back toward Roshanara.
Reynolds: Was there something in particular you wanted, Captain?
Rahman: I’ll get straight to the point. You brought back several individuals originating from that universe.
Roshanara simply looked back at her.
The question seemed to confuse the woman, expressing itself in a baffled frown as she parroted the question back.
Rahman: How did you manage to get them back with you?
Reynolds: I think I'm going to need some background to that question.
The Kriosian frowned, not so much at the answer but more at the memory of the Invicta’s own escape from that horrid alternate universe.
Rahman: When the Invicta made its attempt to return through the rift back to this universe, we were hoping to bring another ship with us. The Ronin…-A.
Which so far had not been built or commissioned in this universe since the original Akira class Ronin was still very much in service. Reynolds nodded, and gestured for her to continue.
Rahman: When we returned, they didn’t, apparently unable to cross the barrier between quantum realities. And it wasn’t just them. There were two others aboard the Invicta at the time. My… alternate self. And her daughter Tasnim. When the Invicta made it through, only Tasnim remained.
Reynolds' brow drew together in thought. Never one to be accused of bearing a tan, the Fleet Captain was nonetheless much paler than she had been on the Garuda, her freckled skin almost translucent for want of some sunlight.
Reynolds: That's… odd. What happened?
Rahman: I don’t know. Believe me, I’ve tried. ::beat:: And Tasnim has tried harder.
She took a breath, while the other woman patiently waited for her to continue.
Rahman: I know we aren’t… close. But I’m asking for her. With the current “complexities” regarding the Yarahla Nine, most of the records regarding your time in that universe and the circumstances of your return have been classified.
Reynolds huffed a laugh, but there was little good humour in the sound and it was gone as swiftly as it had appeared.
Reynolds: ::Dryly,:: Of course they have.
Rahman: Can you grant access to those records and sensor data?
Reynolds: Yes. I don't know how much the use Gorkon's will be, given the state we were in at that point. But I imagine you will find the Yarahla's helpful.
Roshanara returned a small smile as she bowed her head slightly.
Rahman: Thank you.
She nodded, beckoning Roshanara to accompany her as she began to walk. No time like the present, perhaps? Or maybe she just wanted all contact over and done with as soon as possible.
Reynolds: You might want to speak to Ensign Sienelis as well. It was her research on the fissures that led the Yarahla to us.
Rahman: Sienelis… the Romulan?
The Romulan refugee had served aboard Invicta for a few months before she’d been reassigned to the Darwin.
Reynolds: The very same. Strange, isn't it? It was ultimately your trip into that universe that allowed us to escape from it.
Reynolds: If not for her experiences aboard the Invicta, I don't think she -- or anyone else -- would have been able to bring us home. ::She paused a few moments, her own phrasing triggering a thought.:: Perhaps that's the key difference? We didn't get home under our own power. The Yarahla crew overcharged their slipstream drive and used it to create a quantum bridge for us.
Rahman: A quantum bridge…
Roshanara echoed the words, filing them for later research. She knew Taz would most likely devour every paper on the topic before she’d even gotten a chance to start a search.
The two women continued to walk through the viewing walkways around the shipyard, the small spurts of non-consequential conversation thrown in every so often: talk of Captain Kells’ health and recovery since his abduction last year by Commodore Chase, perspectives as starship captains, and shared memories of their time studying and working with engineering minds like Esteban Sanchez and Javier Montanez.
When they’d arrived back at the lobby, though, nothing had really changed. Like passing starships, they’d move on and perhaps never see one another again. Maybe that was preferable.
Rahman: Captain… thank you again for your help on this matter.
Reynolds: You're welcome.
Rahman: With Gorkon headed away from the Menthar Corridor to the Tyrellian Sector, it’s quite possible we won’t have the chance to meet again like this.
Reynolds: It seems unlikely. We'll be on the other side of Federation space.
Roshanara hesitated for a moment before she decided to finally just spit it out.
Rahman: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. I won’t bother you further. I just… I had to ask you for that scared teenage girl trying to find a way back to her mother.
It took Reynolds a very long time to answer, while a subdued procession of emotions tip-toed across her face. Eventually, the woman heaved a sigh and shook her head, avoiding Roshanara's gaze by staring out of the window. Only stars met them on this side of the station
Reynolds: You shouldn't apologise. You were used, I know that. You and Harry.
They both were, the Kriosian supposed. Still, the betrayal inflicted upon Reynolds by Harrison… or whoever was really in control at that time was a nightmare that remained mostly uncommented on ever since the Garuda crew had recovered Reynolds. So many of them had been affected by that whole ordeal. Reynolds of course as well as herself and the poor soul that was the “real” Harrison Ross.
And then there was Evan Delano, who had overpowered Ross during an interrogation--ironically requested by Roshanara because she had felt uncomfortable confronting the man himself and thought perhaps a more neutral approach from the Vulcan/human hybrid would produce better results. Instead, the shadow personality controlling Ross managed to bait Delano, who eventually lost control and attacked his prisoner through a forced mindmeld in an attempt to gain answers, which ultimately left Ross in a coma and Delano facing criminal charges.
Perhaps some matters were best left in the past. Time may not have healed the wounds, but Roshanara didn’t see any need to push further. The scars that remained for all were enough reminder.
She bowed her head slightly towards Reynolds.
Rahman: Pleasant journeys ahead, captain.
Reynolds: And you, Captain. ::She nodded, turning back to face Roshanara, and there was the slightest hint of a smile on her lips.:: Fair winds and following seas.
Commanding Officer, USS Syracuse
Commanding Officer, USS Gorkon