SIM:JP: LtJG Geoffrey Teller & Capt. Roshanara Rahman: Indelible Ink

From 118Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rahman3.jpg
Roshanara Rahman SIMs
2389
2390


2391




2392
2393
2394
2396
A Pirate Story feat. Silas Finley

Other SIMs by Rich

Author's Note: The following is compiled from several sims.


The events in this SIM occurred on stardate 239602.19-24.

Of Queens and Clowns

((Main Engineering, USS Veritas in Drydock))


::Lt. JG Geoffrey Teller was grinding his teeth as he reviewed yet another PADD full of the logistical details surrounding the repair and refit of the Veritas.  When he had been promoted to Chief Engineer, one of the responsibilities he hadn’t anticipated, or had much to deal with in his first months of the post, had been the absolute avalanche of paperwork that came with overseeing a refit of this scope.  Project management timelines, resource allocation tables, and a pile of min/max analysis fought for his attention as he chased the Starbase technicians around the ship, personally seeing to as many of the jobs as he could.  Sleep had long ago become a hilarious concept, reserved for other, mortal men.  Teller finished his sixth cup of coffee as he signed off on another inventory control report, then turned to the main status board when he heard the telltale chime of a minor alarm.::


::Squinting at the display in aggravation, he found that someone had decided to enter a section of the EPS grid he had flagged as off limits until additional repairs were completed.  Fully ready to eviscerate the poor soul who had disregarded his standing orders, Teller turned to a nearby jefferies tube junction and began climbing up to the adjacent deck.::


::Huffing slightly from the exertion of dragging himself up and across three decks, Teller was finally closing in on the mystery tech who had been moving steadily through the restricted sections of the ship.  On his hands and knees in a jefferies tube, Teller finally reached the last hatch, popped it open and began speaking immediately.::


Teller:  I don’t know who you think you are disregarding my orders, Mister, but I’m ready to have your ass keelhauled if you….


::The head of said ass looked over her shoulders to find a thoroughly confused chief engineer.::


::Teller’s eyes locked with those of a bemused Captain Rahman and his rant sputtered to a halt.  Unconsciously trying to spring to attention, Teller immediately slammed his head into the hatch casing, sending a dull metallic gong down the length of the jefferies tube.::


::Roshanara turned around in the tight confines of the jefferies tube and crawled over towards Teller.::


Rahman: Oh my goodness, are you all right, lieutenant?

Teller:  ::rubbing his head:: I’m real sorry ma’am..sir...Captain…ugh...sorry.  .I had no idea you were aboard.  I thought everybody was on leave.  I figured it was some yard ape in here who didn’t read the posted warnings.  


Rahman: Ma'am's quite sufficient, Mister Teller.


::She leaned in close to him to take a closer look at his forehead, which had a small bruise but nothing that looked like it needed a trip to sickbay.::


Rahman: Sorry to startle you.


Teller:  Quite alright ma’am.  Uh...well, if you don’t mind me asking...what are you doing in here?  This sections restricted until I can be sure the new EPS flow regulators are behaving.  The yard is pulling every single one for inspection.  


Rahman: Honestly? I needed a break from the monotony of the PADDwork piling up on my desk. Nothing like a crawl through the Jefferies tubes to clear one's head, isn't there?


Teller:::smiling:: I know what you mean.  I’ve got enough on the table downstairs to warp the deck plates.  


::She reached back over to grab her toolkit, pulling it close beside her. She opened it and pulled out a dermal regenerator.::


Rahman: Don't tell me you haven't added one of these to your kit yet?


Teller ::sheepishly:: Hadn’t occurred to me, although it seems obvious now.  Appreciate the patch up.  How’d you come to carry one around?  


::She smiled as she adjusted the settings on the small device and held it over his forehead, repairing the damage to his scalp.::


Rahman: It was actually a gift from a friend -- our new chief medical officer, actually.


::Once she was done, she held onto the tool in her lap and looked around the inside of the tube.::


Rahman: Del and I actually had a number of memories shared in various maintenance shafts over the years.


::She looked back at Teller.::


Rahman: I'll have to tell you about the cybernetic spiders of Deep Space 10 sometime.


Teller:  Respectfully Skipper, that’s one story I think I’ll pass on.  Got enough nightmares already, thanks.  


::She pulled out her tricorder from her toolkit, showing the internal scans she'd taken just before he'd entered.::


Rahman: I've gone ahead and certified the rest of the flow regulators in this section. Should save the yard crews a morning to do something else.


::Teller looked at the scan results appreciatively.  They were more comprehensive and accurate than anything the yard teams would’ve turned in.  The Captain must’ve been at this for hours.::


Teller:  ::smiling::  Damn, Skipper.  Hardly seems like you need me around this shop.  If you’ve got a few more PADDs to avoid, I sure wouldn’t mind another set of eyes on the new deuterium injectors.  They were laid in yesterday but we haven’t had time to run them through pressure testing yet.


::Teller felt odd at offering the Captain a job to do on her own ship, but respected that she didn’t mind getting her hands dirty and, like Teller, found the work to be therapeutic at times.::  


Rahman: Sounds like fun.


Teller:  Shortest route will be through junction 17 I think, unless you want to make a detour for a decent cup of coffee.  I’m buying.  Lead the way.  


::She shook her head.::


Rahman: Work first, reward later.


::After putting her tools back into her toolkit, she and Teller began making their way back down the crawlway.::

A Toast to the Admiral

((USS Veritas in Drydock -- A Few Days Later))


::Over the next several days, Teller found it surprisingly easy to work alongside the Captain now and wondered when that had happened.  He remembered coming aboard and being terrified of the almighty Captain, whose word was law and whose every order could mean lives saved or lost, including his own.  Since then he had learned she was far different than the image of the benevolent dictator that the Academy had drilled into them.  Compassionate, friendly and intelligent but equally capable of icy cool and instant decisions in a crisis.  Her iron will had carried the hopes of almost two hundred crew stranded with no hope of rescue for months on end.  Tellers original feelings of fear and intimidation had transmuted to admiration and respect of the highest order.::


::Having just finished installing the replacement induction stabilizers for the deflector system, he and the Captain were taking a well-earned lunch break in one of the small engineering staff lounges.::


::Roshanara finished the bite of her turkey club sandwich before continuing their conversation.::


Rahman: I hope you remember how much work this took before you think about burning out the deflector again.


Teller:  ::grimacing:: Fine, next time I’ll just wreck the whole ship.  It’d probably be easier to requisition a new one.  Always wanted to wander around one of those Sovereign class beauties anyway.  


::She let out a long sigh. The man was indomitable.::


Rahman: One day, Mr. Teller, you'll be a captain yourself and will learn just how much paperwork losing a starship entails.


::She raised her sandwich, preparing to take the next bite.::


Rahman: Not to mention the mandatory court martial that comes with it.


::Of course it was just procedure for a captain to be subjected to a standard court martial after the loss of a ship, not necessarily presuming that the commanding officer had done anything wrong. Still, it wasn't as painless "upgrading" to a nicer ship by losing your last one, despite what it sometimes looked like to the public thanks to the exploits of one particular famous starship.::


Teller:  ::almost choking on his lunch in surprise::  Captain Teller?  Don’t pull a guys leg, Skipper.  I’m just a glorified tool pusher.  There’s no way I could make the kind of calls you do in a day.  


::Teller leaned back in his chair for a moment and let his imagination wander.  Like all the other Cadets, there had been evenings spent fantasizing about the future, when they’d all be Captains and Admirals, heroic and dashing on the bridge of their proud flagships.  How juvenile and silly those dreams looked to Teller now.  Somehow, none of them had ever dreamed of memorial ceremonies for dead shipmates, lost for nothing on some unnamed rock.::


::She laughed at his disbelief that he might ever end up in her position one day.::


Rahman: If you'd have asked me five years ago about possibly becoming a captain, I would have said the same thing. I didn't join the service to sit in the big chair--or even on the bridge for that matter.


::She put her sandwich down, wiping her hands with her napkin before grabbing her cup.::


Rahman: Hell, when Captain Kells made me his first officer, I insisted on staying in gold for most of it.


::Teller was getting increasingly curious about then-Lieutenant Commander Rahman.  To go from Chief to Captain of a ship was a difficult journey that few people took.  Most senior engineers ended up back at the fleet yards, or teaching at the Academy.  The few Teller had known to take command typically did it on experimental ships where their engineering prowess was just as vital as their command abilities.:: 


Teller:  Not a lot of Engineers make the jump to Command.  We tend to be happy working on the stuff we can fix with a wrench.  What finally convinced you?  


Rahman: Honestly... it’s because it *was* Captain Kells asking. I'm not sure if I would have really given it a shot if it had been someone else.


::She took a sip of her strawberry lemonade before continuing.::


Rahman: I don't know how much you might have read about my service history, but it wasn't exactly a natural "next step" from chief engineer to first officer.

Teller: Actually, I know I’ve got access to your service record, but I always felt a little odd about taking a look.  Seemed...rude, somehow.  


::She took a deep breath. How to quickly summarize that whole ordeal.::


Rahman: Well, in short: I didn't choose to leave engineering. I was removed from my post as chief engineer of the Garuda. Arrested actually, but...


::Teller sputtered out his cup of coffee at the word ‘arrested.’::


::She waved off the severity of the words.::


Rahman: ...when all was said and done, I was declared unfit for active starship duty and took a leave of absence. I came back to Starfleet first as a civilian project manager with the Corps of Engineers before Captain Kells then asked that I return as his first officer when I was able to return to duty and he was given command of the Garuda.


::She kept some of the more personal details out of her recap for now. It was all in the FNS news archives and Starfleet records if he was really interested, but some of the more intimate details--of how Harrison Ross had exploited her vulnerabilities as an empathic metamorph who had just started to become aware of her abilities--were still a bit too painful for casual conversation.::


Rahman: He was the first captain for whom I served as a chief engineer, and I owe him more than he’ll ever know. So when he asked, I said yes. ::She flashed an impish grin.:: But not before I asked if he was crazy.


::Teller made a mental note to go back to his office and read that entire file first thing.  That had to be one hell of a story.::


Teller:  The idea of anybody bouncing you out of the service just seems nuts to me..but I guess we’ve all had difficult journeys to get here.


::She sat back in her chair, happy to move on and possibly learn a bit more about one of her officers.::


Rahman: And what was that journey for you, Mr. Teller? If I may ask?


Teller: Fleet gave me a new purpose after...after my parents were lost.  


::Her voice was a bit softer at the mention of his parents. He had mentioned "difficult journeys," but she hadn't expected something quite so tragic.::


Rahman: Oh, I'm so sorry.


Teller:...it’s not...something I dwell on.  Transport accident, years ago now.  Afterwards...things didn’t make sense to me anymore.  I was screwing up on the job...things that I used to be able to do in my sleep just didn’t want to cooperate anymore.  The pieces didn’t fit together...you know?


::Teller withdrew a bit.  It had been a while since the mandatory counseling sessions back home and at the Academy had encouraged him to talk about this.  He still hadn’t given up hope that, in the bountiful strangeness of the cosmos, the lost transport had somehow survived and was just waiting for him to find ‘out there,’ but the more rational part of his mind knew what the reality was.  His parents were dead and there hadn’t even been dust left behind to bury.:: 


Rahman: You were working at the shipyards on Archer IV at the time?


::Teller snapped from his reverie:: 


Teller: That’s right.  Best transphasic welder in the yards.  I could bang you together anything from a new plasma shunt all the way up to a runabout hull.  Still couldn’t hold a candle to my dad, though - guy was an artist.  Taught me everything I know.  


Rahman: So after the accident, how'd you end up choosing Starfleet? If I recall correctly, you're like me, first in the family to join the service, right?


Teller: Worked with an Andorian named Jan in the yards - guy kinda took me under his wing after...well.  He had been an NCO back during the Dominion War before he took a Jem’Hadar plasma burst to the knee.  Discharged twenty years and still couldn’t stop talking about how much the service meant to him.  Only vacation he ever took was to his ships reunion every few years.  Seemed like...family, to him.  


::She nodded at the notion.::


Rahman: I'd say there's truth to the brotherhood among those in uniform. I'm sure you felt that yourself during those last few months on Limbo.


Teller:  You’re right about that.  Even before things went sideways, just when I was serving coffee at the going away party for the folks that went to the Montreal, I got to take a real good look at everybody.  Some folks were sad, sure, but there was a real...pride, there.  In themselves.  Of each other.  It felt like everybody was trying to lift one another up.  It was...something special.  I think that’s when I knew for sure I had made the right choice.  


::She smiled upon hearing that.::


Rahman: Well, I'm sure your "brothers" would agree. Brothers *and sisters*, I should say. I've noticed you, Ensign Ukinix, and Lieutenant G'var seem to have grown particularly close.


Teller:  Yeah, those two have been keeping me sane.  I’d promote Wil to Admiral right now if it didn’t mean losing my right hand.  Now there’s a guy who should be in command some day.  And G’var?  Nobody else I’d want on my side in a scrape.  I’d trust them both with my life, and that’s a Good Job Guarantee.  


::She leaned in, almost as if they were sharing a secret despite being the only two in the lounge.::


Rahman: Is it true what I've heard? About Mr. Ukinix and Ms. G'var?


::She didn't typically pry into the personal lives of her officers--probably a good thing, honestly, given that despite her usually outward neutrality towards such things, she couldn't help but be a bit judgemental.::


Teller: Ha well that depends on what you’ve heard, Skipper.  I will say I’m happy for the two of them and that, considering how Wil has looked at the beginning of a few shifts, I should’ve added that dermal regenerator to my kit a while ago.  


::She smirked at the thought.::


Rahman: Well, I have to admit being impressed with the ensign. The lieutenant is a formidable woman.


Teller: ::smirking:: Formidable - is that a fancy word for extremely terrifying?  Because then, yeah, she’s formidable as hell.  


::She looked down coyly at her plate before she picked up her sandwich, preparing to finish it but stopped for one last thought.::


Rahman: Maybe you're right. Maybe we'll all be calling him sir one day.


Teller:  Wouldn’t bother me one bit.


::Teller raised his glass to the future Admiral Ukinix and clinked with the Captain's while the two finished their lunch and chatted aimlessly.::

Overexposure

((Meanwhile, back on the USS Veritas in Drydock))


::Roshanara was in her ready room when she got the good news. Veritas had been approved to be part of the next phase of trials for the Warp XV project.::


::Of course, being one of the lead designers (along with Commander Oddas Aria of the USS Eagle) would make one think it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise, but there was never a guarantee with these things, especially given the amount of extra work they’d needed to do just to get the ship repaired, let alone outfitted for experimental trials.::


::But, with so much of the ship’s components needing to be replaced, that had worked in her favor to get Veritas approved because fitting the ship with the new drive could actually be accomplished concurrently with the repairs.::


::She grabbed a PADD with the details and headed down to Main Engineering to find her chief engineer.::


((Main Engineering))


::While the ship was in drydock at Utopia Planitia, only a few of those like Teller and Rahman were Starfleet personnel. The shipyards employed hundreds of other civilian workers, and today was one of the busier days as the new navigational deflector had arrived from manufacturing. One of the workers, a man in his mid-forties named Shoei Komatsu, brought the technical schematics to the chief engineer.::


Komatsu: If everything looks good, Lieutenant, my men are ready to begin the installation.


Teller: I want to re-check the mount points before you start aligning the components.  If they’re not correct down to the nanometer we may as well put a thick blanket around the Veritas.  


::Komatsu didn’t hide his annoyance at these extra steps the work crews had had to endure with not just Teller but the ship’s captain also still aboard. Technically, the Utopia Planitia workers didn’t report to either of them, but the yard supervisors had advised him to work “diplomatically.” Unfortunately, Komatsu was a far better yard engineer than he was a diplomat.::


Komatsu: Lieutenant, I know this ship is your baby, but we’re the most advanced shipyard in the Federation. A little faith on your part would go a long way.


Teller: Shoei, I’ve got nothing but faith in you and your people...but I’m still going to recheck those mounts.  If this thing comes flying off when we’re ten thousand light years from here, it’ll be my ass hanging in the breeze.  With all due respect.  


::The other man however didn’t seem to hear that last part -- or at least believe it.::


Komatsu: ::grumbling:: What’s that supposed to mean?


Teller:  It means that when the lives of my crew relies on this being right, we check it again.  If you’ve got a problem with that, I’d like to hear it.  Now.


::Komatsu, stepped a bit closer to the chief engineer. The yard worker was a good head taller than the young Starfleet lieutenant.::


Komatsu: The only problem I see is right here in front of me.


::Roshanara entered the engineering room, and not seeing Teller immediately, called out as she headed over towards the chief engineer’s office.::


Rahman: Oh Mister Teller... I have some news that you-


::She stopped once she found Teller, along with one of the yard engineers. She could see (and feel empathically) that there was some tension lingering between the two men.::


Rahman: Is everything all right?


Teller:  ::chuckling:: Oh it’s fine, just don’t expect I’ll get a Federation Day card from Mr. Komatsu this year.  Or ever.  But the deflector will be installed on time and to my satisfaction...isn’t that right, Shoei?  


::Komatsu glanced from Teller and then over to the captain before shaking his head as he walked off.:: 


Komatsu: If you excuse me, captain, there’s a lot of work to be done today.


Rahman: Of course…


::She offered a small smile in appreciation, but he didn’t pay much attention to it as he walked past her. Once he’d gone, she looked back at Teller.::


Rahman: What was that all about?


Teller:  Just a small difference of opinion when it comes to systems that keep us alive.  I’ll make it right when we’re done, I picked up a case of Romulan ale back on Esperence for the yard crews.  Got it tucked away in the cargo bay in a crate marked ‘stem bolts.’


::The captain bit her lip, twirling the PADD about in her hand.::


Rahman: Mmm-hmmm… I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.


Teller: Anyway, what can I do for you Captain?  Can’t imagine you walked all the way down here just for the fun of it.  


Rahman: Believe it or not, no. I’ve got some exciting news: Veritas has been approved as one of the vessels to test the new Warp XV engine!


::She handed him the PADD with the official approval from the Advanced Starship Design Bureau and the Starfleet Corps of Engineers for him to read for himself.::


Teller: ::eyes wide::Holy…..transphasic inducers...quad-cyclic injectors...look at that crystal articulation framework….


::Teller’s mind was reeling.  The design was years ahead of anything he had ever seen, even on an Odyssey class like the Artemis.  This was going to radically redefine the capabilities of the entire fleet.::


Rahman: If you don’t close your mouth, you’re going to get drool on the deck, Lieutenant. And Mr. Komatsu looked pretty upset with you already.


::Teller wasn’t entirely listening, his eyes still trying to drink in every detail of the schematics as quickly as he could::


Teller:...a whole new warp field geometry...those subspace differential curves….Captain, I think I’m in love.  


::She smiled and leaned over the PADD he was still holding and tapped a tab to bring up a set of preparations she’d drafted.::


Rahman: Now, ordinarily, we’d have to wait until the ASDB sends their own specialized team to begin the modifications, but you’re fortunate that your captain just so happens to be one of the project’s co-leads. If you’re up for it, we could get a headstart now. Plus, it’s work that the yard engineers definitely won’t be able to touch yet.


::She gestured with her head to come follow her.::


Rahman: Let them deal with the deflector while we have the fun.


Teller:  Captain, I feel bad….


Rahman: What?


::She gave him a baffled look.:: 


Rahman: Why?

Teller:  I didn’t get you anything this nice on shore leave!


::She shook her head.::


Rahman: You’re such a goofball. And don’t thank me yet! Especially when you’re drenched in sweat…


::She began walking out of the chief engineer’s office.::


Rahman: Let’s head up to the dorsal nacelle pylon service crawlway - we’ll start with the power transfer conduits.


Teller: With pleasure ma’am, I’ll grab my kit.


::She led him into the Jefferies tube access room and hopped onto the ladder and began climbing up.::


Rahman: Hope you had a light breakfast.


::Teller couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so delighted to get assigned a month’s worth of work.::

((Dorsal Nacelle Pylon Service Crawlway, USS Veritas in Drydock))


::The upper pylon that connected the two dorsal nacelles resembled the wings of an old Earth aircraft. Tucked within were the power transfer conduits and even a set of pulse phaser cannons. However, a spacious corridor or turbolift shaft wasn’t part of the package, and so not for the first time this shore leave, Roshanara and Teller found themselves side by side in the tight confines of a Jefferies tube.::


::The captain was watching the chief engineer carefully make the modifications to the power transfer conduit with a flux coupler. Teller’s eyes were locked onto the exposed equipment, like a surgeon performing an operation.::


Rahman: Once you’ve finished making the second connection, you should be able to attach the modified phase inverter directly to the conduit.


::Roshanara had to wriggle past Teller’s back and ended up half hugging the man as they both tried to find a comfortable position to work in the tiny compartment.::


Teller: I’m going to cross connect here and bridge the two, then the inverter should slip on like a glove.  Can you hand me the microfusion torch?  Second compartment in my kit.  


::As he continued to work on the conduit, she grabbed the torch. It was getting warm already in the Jefferies tube, and it was only going to get hotter with the torch. Taking a cue from Teller, who’d already discarded his heavier uniform jacket and rolled up his sleeves, she took off her own jacket and handed him the torch.::


Rahman: Here you go.


::Their hands brushed as the tool was passed, and the moment lingered.::


Teller:  Thanks Skipper.  Just a few more connections and we should be done here.  Then we get to repeat the process three more times--


::A few sparks shot out from the conduit abruptly, singeing the chief engineer’s exposed arm. Teller nearly dropped the torch when the plasma sparks touched his uncovered skin.  Instead, he cursed vehemently as he flicked the tool off and started swatting at the painful burn.:::


::When she saw the sparks and his subsequent burns, she quickly grabbed her trusty dermal regenerator from her own kit.::


Rahman: Are you all right?


Teller:::gritting teeth:: Fine Skipper...just feel stupid.  Worked around welding gear all my life, that’s the kinda burn a new guy at the yard would give himself.  I’ll be fine in a few minutes.  


::Teller examined his arm and saw several spots where the skin was already blistering.  In his excitement at the new project, he had gotten sloppy and paid the price.  Fortunately the Captain hadn’t been hurt.  He realized the burns extended up his forearm, past his elbow and all the way up his bicep, nearly to his shoulder.::


::She grabbed his arm and began waving the dermal regenerator over the burns, the device quickly beginning to erase any trace of the injury.::


Rahman:  There must have still been a residual charge even after all these weeks…


::As the Captain ran the dermal regenerator further up his arm, his eyes widened.::


Teller: ::face going white:: Uh Cap you don’t have to do that….I can take care of it when we’re done...


Rahman: Nonsense, Mr. Teller. It’ll only be a few more seconds, and you’ll be as good as--


::Her voice stopped suddenly after she’d rolled up his sleeve further, exposing his bicep.  She switched the dermal regenerator off and silence filled the crawlway.::


::Teller gasped in horror as the Captain pushed aside the remains of his sleeve and exposed his tattoo from Esperance.  He hadn’t been able to get it removed before they departed for Dry Dock, and his time since had been filled with repairs and paperwork.  Now, all of those excuses seemed nauseatingly foolish as his Captain just sat there, still staring at the tattoo, which featured a stylized depiction of the USS Veritas—and its commanding officer as well, sitting in a playful pin up pose with very little left to the imagination.  The temperature in the crawlway dropped 10 degrees in an instant.::


::It might have been easier if she’d just yelled at him there or even given him a death glare. *Something* for him to respond to. But instead, she’d become eerily quiet. Her eyes betrayed the hurt she felt for a flash of a second before she pursed her lips and took a few heavy breaths through her nose.::


Teller: Captain...ma’am...I...uh.  It...uh...well, somebody said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery….


::Teller immediately knew he wasn’t helping, but couldn’t seem to stop himself.::


::His rambling snapped her out of it, and immediately she became aware of how hard her heart was beating. She took a small gulp, still trying to process exactly what she was seeing -- and more importantly, what did this all *mean*.::


::The tiny confines of the Jefferies tubes seemed to be closing in on them, and she wondered if she was going to need to call an emergency transport out of there. Some part of her *wanted* to.::


::Fortunately, the universe provided some mercy.::


Komatsu: =/\= Komatsu to Captain Rahman. =/\=


::She tore her gaze away and fumbled through her jacket to find her combadge, hastily tapping it.::


Rahman: =/\= Uh, yes? Go ahead. =/\=


Komatsu: =/\= If you’re able to, Captain, the new antimatter storage tanks have arrived and need your signature. =/\=


Rahman: =/\= I’ll be right there. =/\=


::The call had helped reset her mind a bit, and she took another deep breath before handing Teller the dermal regenerator.::


Rahman: Well, I think you know how to use one of these by now.


::Teller was mortified beyond the capacity for human speech:: 


Teller: Captain...ma’am...I...I should explain….


Rahman: Lieutenant.


::She cut him off as she held up her hand.::


Rahman: I’ll, uh, be in my ready room after seeing to those tanks… you can send me an update later on your progress.


::She turned around and headed back down the crawlway, leaving Teller by the conduit.::


::After the Captain nearly sprinted back down the access ladder, a dull banging began to fill the crawlway.  It sounded vaguely like someone slamming a melon into a refrigerator door as Teller repeatedly smacked his head against the crawlway wall, completely unsure of how things had gone so terrifically wrong so quickly..::

Indelible Ink

((Meanwhile, back on the USS Veritas in Drydock))


::Lt. Jg Geoffrey Teller faced his final day in Starfleet with more dignity than he felt.  Before reporting to the Captain’s ready room, he had gone back to his quarters, changed into a fresh uniform, and made himself up smartly.  The PADD tucked under his arm contained words he had agonized over briefly, but he felt it was the only way to show the Captain the respect she was now deeply overdue.::


::Geoffrey Teller was going to resign.::


Teller:::depressing the call button.::  Lt. Jg. Teller reporting, Captain.


::It was likely only a second or so before the doors parted, but it felt like an eternity. Once the doors slid open, the captain could be seen sitting behind her desk, busy working on her desktop terminal.::


Rahman: Come in, Lieutenant.


Teller:  Yes Ma’am.  Thank you, Ma’am.  ::Teller had returned to his Academy perfect persona, attempting to salvage some small measure of professionalism.::  


::She barely acknowledged him as she continued typing on her terminal, the screen hidden from Teller’s view.::


::Captain Rahman didn’t spare Teller a glance.  She was far too involved in the important work of running a ship to waste her time and effort on an irresponsible moron like Geoff, and he knew it.  He froze at attention, recalling his early, terrifying days at Starfleet Academy.  He could stand there till the ship dissolved if that’s what the Captain demanded.::


::She finished typing a few more sentences before she turned off the monitor and looked up at him.::


Rahman: Yes?


::Though he might have expected her to immediately begin a stern dressing down, she was looking remarkably casual right now. To anyone watching, it’d have looked like nothing awkward had happened between them earlier in the morning.::


Teller: Captain, due to failures by this officer to adhere to the Uniform Code of Justice regarding personal body modifications, along with several gross examples of conduct unbecoming an officer, I hereby formally tender my resignation from the USS Veritas and Starfleet as a whole, effective immediately.


::Teller placed the PADD on her desk and returned to his frozen, statuary pose.::


Teller:  Captain, I’ve included files on that PADD with details and worklogs of all ongoing maintenance work related to the refit and the engine upgrade, along with specific instructions for Ensign Ukinix and the remainder of the Engineering crew.  


::She glanced down at the PADD, its wording reflecting much of what he’d just said. She slid it back towards him, shaking her head.::


Rahman: Yeah, I don’t think so, Lieutenant.


Teller: ::Stiffening further.::  I understand if you wish to pursue a formal board of review at this time, Captain, and will submit myself for disciplinary action if you so choose.


::Teller died a little inside.::


Teller: oO She’s furious. Oo


::She wouldn’t even let him slink away in shame.  He had been kidding himself when he thought resigning would be enough..:: 


::Roshanara studied the 25-year-old man standing before her for a moment, his own gaze locked straight ahead at the bulkhead behind her. She sometimes had to remind herself just how young most of the officers and crew under her command were.::


::She took a deep breath.::


Rahman: Have a seat, Lieutenant.


::Teller’s body nearly jackknifed as he attempted to remain at attention and sit at the same time, doing both mostly unsuccessfully::


Teller: Yes...Ma’am.  


::She stood up and walked around her desk, pushing aside the PADD with his resignation letter so that she could lean back against the edge of the desk. She crossed her arms in front of her chest as she looked down to address him.::


Rahman: I’ve been in Starfleet for twenty-two years, more than half of that as an engineer. You really think I haven’t seen a tattoo like that before?


Teller: Uh...Captain, permission to speak freely?


::She shook her head.::


Rahman: Not yet.


::Teller clamped his jaw shut hard enough to make his teeth ache and picked a point on the far bulkhead at which to stare.  He fought the urge to spring back to attention.::


::She sighed, looking at him for a moment as he sat there uncomfortably. Finally, she stood up and walked away a few steps before turning back around.::


Rahman: Now, I will admit… the subject of your--how did you put it? “Personal body modification?” ...surprised me.


::The petite Kriosian took a step forward closer to him.::


Rahman: Quite the bold choice. ::She shook her head.:: And to think we were just talking about how brave a man Ensign Ukinix must be.


Teller::oO Oh god I can’t let Wil get caught up in this mess. Oo


Teller: Ensign Ukinix is a fine officer, Captain, and one of the bravest young men I’ve ever met.  My incompetence should not reflect poorly on him, or on any other member of this crew.


::To that, she let out a small chuckle.::


Rahman: Hmmph, oh it doesn’t, I can assure you that much.


::Teller relaxed a micron.  The thought of destroying his own future was bad enough, but the thought of taking a friend down with him was almost too much to bear.::


Teller: I take full and sole responsibility for my actions.  


::She stood by him for another moment before she decided to take the conversation down a slightly different path.::


Rahman: So what about the young man before me now?


Teller: Captain...uh...I’m afraid I don’t understand the question.  


Rahman: Are you saying I made an error in judgment when I promoted you? Made you my chief engineer?

Teller: Captain, I didn’t think so at the time, but my behavior has not properly reflected the trust you put in me, and for that I am, and will continue to be eternally sorry.   


::Even without her empathic abilities, she could tell he was being genuine in his remorse. But this conversation wasn’t just about apologies. She needed to clear up any misconceptions.::


Rahman: I believe you, Lieutenant. And if this had happened just a few months out of the academy… well…


::She glanced back over at the resignation letter on the desk.::


Rahman: But even though technically it’s only been a few months since you graduated, we both know it’s been a lot longer. That you--along with the rest of this crew--endured a far more traumatic experience than most Starfleet officers ever experience in the entirely of their careers.


Teller: I appreciate you saying that Captain, but I’m not one for excuses.  


Rahman: ::nods:: I know you’re not. But, in thinking all this over, *I* needed a reason. An explanation. And I thought back to the half-year the crew spent on Limbo. We saw formality drop and fraternization increase.


::She tilted her head slightly.::


Rahman: Hmmph, again, Ensign Ukinix and Lieutenant G’var can attest to that.


::She walked back towards her desk and turned around, grabbing the edge of it with both hands before leaning back, this time with her arms by her sides to help keep her propped up.::


Rahman: I realize looking back I may have blurred the lines between a captain and her crew, helping foster a misunderstanding. If so, then that is my error.


Teller: No!


::His sudden outburst punctured the tension that had been lingering in the air. She waited to see what he had to say.::


Teller: Uh...Ma’am.  Captain.  You’ve been...an inspiration...to the crew as a whole and to me personally.  We never would’ve survived that damn moon without you.  The only person here who made a mistake is me.  The idea of you blaming yourself makes me sick to my stomach.  


Rahman: I appreciate that, Lieutenant--the reassurance that I’m more to you than what that… depiction I saw in the service crawlway implies.


::She paused for a moment.::


Rahman: And you’re only half-right. We never would have gotten off that damn moon if you and Ensign Ukinix hadn’t come up with your escape plan. And of course your execution of it--along with your team.


Teller:  Thank you, Captain.  I made a promise to you and the crew that I’d get us off that rock, and I never break a promise.  


::She nodded.::


Rahman: Because you’re a good officer. And yes: you made a mistake--which I can assure you, won’t be the only one in your career.


::She looked at him thoughtfully.::


Rahman: But I can also see you’re one to learn from them. So no, I’m not going to let you resign and rob you of that opportunity to show me--and yourself--that you’ll grow from this.


::Teller slumped slightly in his chair.  He suddenly felt incredibly tired.::  


Teller: Captain...I...don’t know what to say.  Thank you...doesn’t really cover it somehow.  


::She stood back up and started walking towards the replicator.::


Rahman: Well, all that said, I still can’t have you walking around with *that* on your arm.


Teller:::stiffening:: Of course, with your permission I’ll have Doctor del Vedova remove it immediately.  I didn’t...I wasn’t sure whom to trust to do it, ma’am.  I...didn’t want to embarass you any more than I already had.  


Rahman: Del? Ha! ::She nearly snorted as she called up the replicator to manufacture the tool she needed for the upcoming job.:: I don’t even know how he’d react to seeing that…


::Once the replicator was finished, she grabbed the device and walked back to Teller. She held it up, raising her eyebrow.::


Rahman: I hope that’s not how you wish I looked.


::Teller felt his face go burning hot::


Teller:::reddening:: No ma’am!  I...I believe there was a miscommunication with the tattoo artist on Esperance...I would never….I mean you’re already quite….not to suggest I ever thought..::sigh::...could we just go back to me resigning?    


Rahman: ::shaking her head:: Just shut up and roll up your sleeve.


::After he did so, she walked behind her desk and sat down before instructing him to twist his upper body, lean over, and place his arm over the desk with his elbow pointed towards her.::


Rahman: Now, I should warn you I’m not an artist or anything…


::She activated the tattoo designer.::


Teller: Uh….what exactly did you have in mind here, Skipper?


Rahman: Well, as I said, I’m a firm believer in living with your life lessons.


::She gestured to her own scarred face and gave an evil grin.::


::Teller gulped nervously..::


Teller::oO I should’ve taken the damn thing off with a plasma torch when I had the chance. Oo


::Several minutes later, Roshanara applied the final touches to the new Starfleet uniform she’d painted onto the previously nude illustration. It was a mid-23rd century captain’s uniform, specifically the skirt variant. Perhaps not the most practical in real life, but it seemed appropriate for the art style.::


Rahman: I know it looks anachronistic, but if anyone asks, you can tell them I actually *did* wear this uniform while in command of the Constitution class USS Venture during the Khitomer Accords centennial.


Teller:  Skipper, I think it looks great.  And I feel a lot better with the idea of wearing this with pride.  I love this ship, and I would do anything for this crew.  


Teller:: oO But now the damn thing burns again! Oo


::After she completed the last captain’s stripe, she switched off the device and let him sit back to check out the finished amended tattoo.::


Rahman: I’m glad. All right, then, Mr. Teller. It’s been a long day. I suggest you go get some rest, so you can be back at it tomorrow morning.


::Teller sprang out of the chair to full attention.::


Teller: With pleasure, Ma’am.  


::Before he walked out, she did have one last thing to mention.::


Rahman: Oh, and for future reference, Lieutenant: unlike the Trill, Kriosian spots don’t continue all the way down the body.


::Teller’s eyebrows shot up so fast they nearly went through his hairline::


::Her eyes narrowed a bit.::


Rahman: ::flatly:: You’ll just have to take my word for it.


::The ready room doors hissed shut on a wildly flummoxed Engineer, still struggling to form words. As he drunkenly stumbled back down the corridor to the turbolift, Teller tried to make sense of the last 24 hours without much success.  As the lift doors closed, anyone left on three decks could’ve heard a bellowing cheer of celebration.::


::Once the doors had closed and she was safely from view, a smirk emerged on Roshanara’s face before she grabbed the PADD that Teller had brought in earlier, his resignation letter still on display. What a day, she thought, shaking her head as she pressed the delete button.::

Captain Roshanara Rahman
CO, USS Veritas

&

Lieutenant JG Geoffrey Teller
Chief Engineer, USS Veritas