SIM:Nadira, Chapter 5
The events in this SIM occurred in 2397. The SIM was originally posted on 8 May 2020 (stardate 239705.08).
((Gardens, Kaitaama Palace, Krios Prime))
The next morning, Roshanara had agreed to meet with Jatann. Despite her indignation after meeting Sana and her unease at the dinner that followed, she still found herself now walking with the Kriosian royal staff member along a stone pathway through the extravagant gardens of the palace grounds.
Jatann: You must forgive the Headmaster. She has always been rather blunt in her assessment.
Rahman: I don’t have to forgive anything.
The Starfleet captain scowled as she followed him along a small stream that had been carved to snake through the gardens.
Rahman: She’s rude and intolerant. If your hope was to show me a different Krios than what I thought I knew, you’ve failed.
The male metamorph chuckled, shrugging his shoulders slightly as he turned around and gestured for her to sit on a stone bench that overlooked the stream and south end of the grounds.
Jatann: I make no effort to disagree.
After she sat down, he joined her, looking back out towards the city that lay beyond the palace walls.
Jatann: But she is not the one to show you a different Krios. That is my task that I have set for myself.
Roshanara crossed her arms as she sat back on the bench, looking towards the towering spires of the city as well.
Rahman: And how do you plan to do that? Re-educate me?
Jatann: Is that what you think we do here?
He turned, still smiling slightly but raising an eyebrow.
Jatann: What do you even know about what it means to be a metamorph?
She furrowed her brow, looking back at him.
Rahman: I mean, I *am* one. So I think I should know a great deal.
Jatann: Oh? From what I recall, you never even knew you were a metamorph for most of your life.
Rahman: Well, yes… I mean…
It was true. Until 2390, when Captain Aron Kells had informed her of the truth, she and Del, her best friend and personal physician, had been struggling to understand just what the mysterious “neurodegenerative disease” was that had plagued her. She had found herself becoming overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts from others. She’d undergone a surgery aboard the USS Mercury in an attempt to fix it, but ironically, it only made things worse.
Rahman: My point is, it’s the life I know now.
The other metamorph chuckled again.
Jatann: And what do you know of the life of a metamorph? As a Starfleet captain?
She wanted to tell him that she found it shameful what Kriosian society had set for them. It comforted her to know that his powers were only empathic, not telepathic. He might sense the disdain from her, but he wouldn’t necessarily know why.
Rahman: It just seems wrong to me. To forego a life of your own to be tied to that of someone else. To have your whole person changed and shaped--dictated really--by another.
Jatann: Is that what you think I’ve allowed to happen to me? To be “dictated” and changed by my wife?
Rahman: Well, I…
Her voice trailed off, not having meant to possibly offend.
Jatann: You know what your problem is, Captain? You judge us through a completely alien perspective--and if I may be so bold, one that isn’t even of your own. What does a species that doesn’t produce metamorphs know anything about what that perspective is like?
He stood up from the bench and turned around, looking down at her.
Jatann: I’m sad that you were robbed of a proper upbringing here on Krios Prime and told only of lies and distortions of what the Kriosian way of life is.
He put his arm out, his hand reaching out towards the scarred left half of her face but not touching it.
Jatann: I’m sad to see the girl I once knew return home now a woman so bitter about her own kind. I’m not naive. A week or two here is hardly a fair counterbalance to decades of indoctrination.
He brought his hands back together, clasping them.
Jatann: But since you *are* here, Captain, then I ask you keep an open mind. Let yourself be willing to learn something.
She looked back at him, annoyed still but the fire from her voice diminished a bit.
Rahman: ...I’ll try.
They were returning from their trip back to the palace when Roshanara spoke up in the private hover-carriage.
Rahman: Tell me about your wife.
Smiling to himself as he looked out the window at one of the impressive buildings, Jatann turned his gaze back at the other metamorph across from him. The small craft’s autopilot reported they were still at least twenty minutes away from their destination.
Jatann: You can meet her if you’d like.
Rahman: Oh, that’s all right. I just… haven’t seen her yet, and I know you live at the palace.
Jatann: Yes, I do. My wife is a member of the parliament. Her work as you can imagine takes a lot of her time, so she maintains her own residence near the Capitol.
He pointed back towards the large and imposing structure he’d been staring at earlier.
Rahman: You don’t live together?
When he shook his head, she pressed further.
Rahman: So then how often do you see her?
Jatann: As often as she likes.
Rahman: And you’re okay with that? What if you want to see her?
Jatann: Why wouldn’t I be? I only wish to see her when she wants to see me. I know she has very important business to take care of.
Rahman: Yes, I can imagine, but…
She let out a frustrated sigh, rubbing her eyes for a moment as she tried to find the right words.
Rahman: But what about your own needs? Your own desires?
Jatann: My own desire--and my need--is to meet hers.
Roshanara leaned back in the carriage, looking dispirited.
Rahman: I just… I think we are just not going to ever understand each other.
Jatann: You are still thinking like one of them.
Rahman: Them? Who? The Federation? Starfleet? Non-Kriosians?
He answered her decisively.
Jatann: No. Like a non-metamorph.
Seeing her questioning look back, he shook his head.
Jatann: You think the Federation or other off-worlders are the only ones who have similar questions when they don’t understand what it means to be a metamorph? Kriosians themselves have said just as much as you have. My wife even. She used to wonder in the beginning if I was content with our arrangement and our marriage.
Rahman: And you are? Genuinely?
Jatann: Roshanara, perhaps if we were Vulcans who could bring our minds together, you would finally understand. To live a life of a metamorph--truly live this life, that is--is to live a life of devotion. Not out of a sense of duty or honor but to fully know what it means to *exist*.
He put both hands together and rested them on his lap as he continued.
Jatann: What experience did you have with the finiis'ral?
She answered quietly.
Rahman: Not a good one…
Jatann: I’m sorry to hear that. The incident that triggered your arrest six years ago?
In 2391, aboard the USS Garuda, then-First Officer Harrison Ross, himself under the control of an implanted shadow personality, had discovered Roshanara’s confidential medical status as a metamorph. Having never learned how to control her empathic abilities, Roshanara was particularly susceptible to the influence of others around her, and Ross exploited that sensitivity to have her sabotage the ship to allow him to escape with a kidnapped officer, Quinn Reynolds.
While the subsequent investigation revealed the truth of what had happened, it had also resulted in Roshanara losing her medical clearance to serve on active starship duty. It was only after mastering the empathic control techniques she’d learned from her friend and later partner Tristam Core that she eventually was able to serve again in uniform.
Jatann: I can understand why such an experience has tainted your views on your gifts and what you are.
She looked up, incredulous.
Rahman: “Gifts?” Being stripped of my agency is hardly what I’d call a gift!
Jatann: Your metamorphic and empathic abilities are just a part of you, like your arm or your nose.
He smiled, but she shot back.
Rahman: ::scoffs:: Don’t talk to me like a child. I’m not one of your students.
Jatann: I’m not. I’m talking to you as one metamorph to another. Your abilities are like your hands. Some people use their hands to become skilled craftsmen or artists. Others use them to write or cook. And yes, there are those who use them to commit bad deeds. But we wouldn’t say that our hands are inherently good or bad, would we?
Rahman: ::sighs:: What’s your point?
Jatann: Your gifts--and yes, I will use that word--give you something that most people in this world, this universe even, struggle all their lives for.
Rahman: And what’s that?
Jatann: Meaning. A sense of purpose.
Rahman: Our lives’ meaning and sense of purpose come from ourselves.
Jatann: For them, yes. Non-metamorphs are limited only to what they can tell themselves. What they have to accept. But not for us, Roshanara.
He leaned forward and reached out to hold her hand.
After another sigh, she obliged and let him hold her hands in his.
Jatann: Was that your only experience with your metamorphic abilities?
Rahman: ...no. There were others.
Jatann: And can you remember how you felt at the time? When you let yourself truly embrace what you were feeling from another person?
Rahman: I felt… content.
She shook her head, correcting herself.
Rahman: No, more than content. Happy. ::beat:: Fulfilled.
Jatann: Are you happy now?
Rahman: ::laughs:: What kind of question is that? In general, sure.
Jatann: No, not in general. It’s a simple question.
Rahman: I mean… no, I’m not happy right at this moment as you hold my hands and we head back to the palace so Sana can show me how much I disgust her.
He nodded, smiling before he let go of her hands and leaned back in his seat.
Jatann: Hmmph… I’m happy.
She just shook her head, crossing her arms as the carriage continued on the final leg of its journey.
Jatann: You asked about my wife earlier, and my own desires and needs.
She nodded before he continued.
Jatann: I feel so very fortunate to be bonded to such a magnificent woman. She makes me the best person I can be, and I am fulfilled knowing that I provide her with what she needs. I support her in every capacity that I can so that she too can be the best person she can be.
Rahman: I didn’t mean to imply otherwise…
Jatann: You worry about the tragedy a life as a metamorph seems to you, the loss of who you think you are, but the real tragedy for a metamorph is when he or she is bonded to someone that will never let a metamorph flourish. And even then, our gifts protect us by ensuring that should we find ourselves in such a situation, at least we still will be happy.
She didn’t know what to say as they reached the doors to the suite, and he returned a single nod.
Jatann: Good night, Roshanara.
Roshanara woke up as the sunlight broke through the windows and reached across the bed. Tristam, ever the slumbering Rodulan in need of his minimum eleven hours, remained fast asleep.
She got up and walked into the bathroom to wash up when she suddenly froze in place, her gaze locked onto the mirror across from her. Staring back at her in horror was a sight she hadn’t seen in fourteen years. She raised a hand to caress her left cheek, now smooth and unbroken.
It was as if the entire side of her face had been healed overnight. Even her left arm no longer bore the marks of the accident aboard the Tempest. No one would know looking at her that anything was wrong except for the tears that streamed down the unblemished skin of her face.
CO, USS Veritas