SIM:Nadira, Chapter 7
The events in this SIM occurred in 2397. The SIM was originally posted on 17 May 2020 (stardate 239705.17).
((Headmaster Office, Royal School for Metamorphs))
Sitting behind her desk in an ornate office in the east wing of the school, the headmaster took a moment from her work to turn in her chair and look out of the window. Sana had been about the same age as Nadira was now when the young metamorph had gone missing nearly four decades ago. When she closed her eyes, she could still see all of the staff searching frantically in every classroom and every corner of the gardens outside.
She could hear her own voice echoing through the halls.
“What do you mean she’s gone missing? Find her!”
The chime at her door brought her back to the present. After taking in a long, calm breath, Sana called out.
Sana: Come in.
Roshanara stepped into the office to see the headmaster’s chair turned away from her, the top of the older woman’s head just peeking from above the chairback.
Sana didn’t turn around immediately, continuing to look instead out at the morning sun. Her voice was matter-of-fact.
Sana: I understand you paid our students another visit yesterday.
Rahman: Actually, I went to speak to Jatann.
Sana: So he’s told me. The palace concierge has also informed me that you’ll be cutting your stay short.
Rahman: That’s correct. I’ve provided the medical data you needed. The final puzzle to your mystery. And as much as I have… enjoyed your hospitality, I do have a ship waiting for me to return to my duties.
The older woman’s voice echoed the words, almost hissing them.
Sana: Your duties...
Roshanara stood firm, though, as she crossed her arms while the headmaster remained turned away from her.
Rahman: That’s right. My duties as a Starfleet officer.
Finally, Sana turned around and rested her palms on her desk, interlocking her fingers as she looked up at Nadira. Though Nadira’s face had lost the scarring that had been present at their first meeting, Sana didn’t make mention of it or even seem to have any reaction to it.
Sana: You’d inquired into your family here on the homeworld: your birth parents, any siblings. Are you still curious?
The change in subject caught Roshanara a little off-guard.
Rahman: I mean… if you have the information, I’d… ::She drew a breath.:: Yes.
Sana gestured for her to take a seat in one of the empty chairs across from her.
As Roshanara sat down, the headmaster pulled a drawer out in her desk and took out a PADD.
Sana: Tell me, Captain, do you have any siblings on Earth through your adopted family?
Roshanara shook her head as she crossed her legs and rested her hands on top of her thigh, interlocking her fingers.
Rahman: No, I was raised as an only child. My parents had difficulties trying to have a child of their own. I was their chance at parenthood.
Sana looked back for a moment, not nodding but acknowledging her.
Sana: How fortunate for them.
The headmaster held out the PADD, reaching over the desk to hand it to the captain.
Sana: You have a sister.
Roshanara gasped softly as she began reading the details on the PADD.
Rahman: I’d always wondered if perhaps I did...
She shook her head as she continued skimming through the dossier. She never thought she’d ever find out an answer to that childhood question.
Sana: Her name is Lateya. She lives on the other side of the planet, on one of the southern islands in the Garuthian Sea.
According to the file, her sister was two years older than her, married, and with children of her own. Roshanara chuckled slightly. So she was genuinely an aunt after all, not just a figurative one with Tasnim.
Roshanara looked back up, nodding.
Rahman: What does she… what does she do?
Sana: She’s an artist. A sculptor.
Rahman: A sculptor…
Roshanara couldn’t help but smile, and it only widened as she thought of her newly-discovered sister, having lived a life so different from her own.
Rahman: I wonder how she’d feel, knowing her sister became a starship engineer and captain… and doesn’t have an artistic bone in her body.
Sana: That’s not true.
The headmaster looked back, her expression neutral.
Sana: You are a writer, are you not?
Rahman: Oh, I don’t know if I would describe myself with that label.
Sana: You enjoy writing creative works of your own according to Jatann’s report.
Rahman: He reported *that*?
The headmaster nodded, which didn’t alleviate Roshanara’s surprise. At the time, Jatann hadn’t seemed impressed, more appalled really. Unlike his students, who received an extensive education in arts and music to ensure they could fully entertain their future spouses, Roshanara didn’t sing and couldn’t play an instrument or dance.
Rahman: He didn’t seem so impressed.
Sana: It is not his place to judge. You write. Writing is an art form. That makes you an artist.
Hmmmph. Roshanara had never considered that, and certainly never considered herself an artist of any sort. She looked back down at the PADD with Lateya’s information.
Rahman: Does she know about me? That I’m back? I mean… is she even allowed to contact me?
The headmaster furrowed her brow, leaning in a bit.
Sana: What kind of people do you think we are, Captain?
Rahman: I’m sorry, I don’t mean to offend. I just knew that metamorphs are taken from their families at a young age. I wasn’t sure what allowances they had to remain in touch after.
Sana: I see Jatann still had much to explain to you. A shame you’ll be leaving us, especially with such a misconception.
The headmaster stood up from her chair and began walking around it to stand closer to Roshanara. She spoke as she did so.
Sana: First off, as you have made quite clear, you are a Federation citizen. Whether you wish to respect any of our traditions, we certainly could not bar you from contacting her. But more importantly, even if you were still a Kriosian citizen, we wouldn’t.
Now standing next to Roshanara and looking down at her, Sana leaned against the edge of the desk.
Sana: When a family has produced a metamorph and is identified, it is not some sort of ghastly and traumatic abduction from his or her family. In fact, it is an occasion of great celebration, both for the metamorph and the family, whose caste is elevated in acknowledgement for what they’ve brought to our society. Your sister, for instance, being able to become a full-time artist of her own was thanks to you.
Rahman: But what if a family doesn’t want to give up their child?
The headmaster looked back at her silently for a moment, the first time Roshanara felt that the other woman didn’t have a neatly prepared answer for her.
Sana: As I was saying, your sister could become an artist. Your father, a businessman. A profession he excelled in.
The past tense caught Roshanara’s attention.
Rahman: Where is he now?
Sana: I’m afraid he’s since passed.
Rahman: ::softer:: Oh…
As Roshanara looked down in her lap, Sana continued.
Sana: And your mother… she managed to secure a position with the royal staff. Already a teacher, she worked her way up at the royal school here… to headmaster.
Roshanara looked up slowly, her eyes locking with Sana’s. The green hue of her irises matched her own, and it suddenly seemed so clear how similar they’d been all along.
Sana simply nodded back.
A million thoughts raced through Roshanara’s brain. Everything she could sense from the woman told her that she was telling the truth.
Rahman: But… how? Why… ::shaking her head:: What?
Sana: When you were born and identified as a metamorph, the change for our family began from that minute onward. I knew that if I didn’t find a way to work at the school you’d be sent to, I’d never be able to see those precious moments in your childhood. So, I started looking for a way in as soon as I could.
Roshanara shook her head, still trying to process everything she was learning.
Rahman: And then I went missing… all that work you did to keep close to me, gone...
She closed her eyes, bringing her fingers to her face. Is that why Sana had been so cold to her? Her disappointment at seeing what had happened to her lost child in the decades since? But to treat her own daughter so cruelly, Roshanara could not forgive.
She looked back up at Sana.
Rahman: All these years later, we finally reunite, and you greet me so harshly and without even mentioning who you really are. Why? Because I disappointed you? Because you saw how far my life had deviated from what you’d planned?
Sana’s own eyes began to water.
Sana: You don’t understand. I was not disappointed with you. I had to test you for myself. Make sure you were as strong as you looked. As strong-willed as Jatann had reported.
Rahman: “Test” me? Why?
Sana: Because you didn’t deviate from my plan. You fulfilled it.
As Roshanara continued looking back, her brow furrowed, Sana knelt down beside her, reaching out to hold her hand.
Sana: Nadira, you didn’t go missing. *I* was the one who let you go. I arranged for you to be smuggled off-world to Moselina IV.
Rahman: But if you’d wanted us to stay together here, then why would you have sent me away?
Sana: Because if I didn’t, you would have ended up like the rest of them. Like Jatann.
Rahman: Jatann? But he seems quite happy.
The older woman scoffed at the characterization.
Sana: And a cow is quite happy in its pen if you feed it hay.
Sana rubbed her daughter’s fingers as she held onto her left hand.
Sana: But you, Jatann, and all the metamorphs are so much *more*. Have you any idea the hundreds of children I have seen walk through these halls? The brilliant young minds I’ve gotten to know and then said goodbye to?
Rahman: You just said earlier that the identification of a metamorph was a great celebration.
Her mother nodded.
Sana: And it is… it means so much to them, their families, and our society at large.
Rahman: Yet despite all that talk about respecting traditions, you would not have your own daughter brought up through such a tradition.
Roshanara pulled back a bit from Sana, moving her hand away.
Rahman: And then remained a part of the system that destined all those brilliant minds to a fate you disagreed with.
Sana: That’s not fair...
Rahman: It isn’t? Because from where I sit, I see a woman who tried to save her child from the very social hierarchy she perpetuates.
Sana stood back up, letting out a frustrated sigh as she turned around. Nadira had been a stubborn girl, especially compared to her sister. Sana saw now that thirty-six years hadn't changed that.
Sana crossed her arms as she let her gaze fall to a large painting along the wall of her office. It depicted the ancient mythical figures of Krios and Valt. The two ruling brothers of the ancient empire stood in the Temple of Akadar. In the center of the painting, between the two men, was a third figure, Garuth, the metamorph whose affections had divided the brothers and split the empire.
Sana: I tried to change the way things are. ::She shook her head.:: You don’t know how long I tried… but it was not my place. I was not a metamorph, and if you asked any metamorph what they thought about their station in our society…
Rahman: ...they’d tell you they were happy.
Roshanara finished the sentence, her voice soft as she thought of Jatann’s answers to her own questions in the carriage a few days ago.
Sana: Exactly. Which is why I needed to find you and bring you back home. Only *you* can lead the change, Nadira. I can only advocate for it as a supporter, but this isn’t truly my cause, it’s yours.
Rahman: How do you know they aren’t content? If that’s the truth, then maybe it isn’t our place to say otherwise.
Sana looked over her shoulder, back towards Roshanara.
Sana: Is that what your Starfleet training tells you? Your prime directive not to interfere?
Rahman: This is an internal Kriosian matter.
Her mother turned around and raised her voice in frustration.
Sana: And you *are* a Kriosian! And a Kriosian metamorph at that! I am not asking you as a Starfleet captain; I am asking you to help your own kind.
Her mother let out a sigh before she pointed to the legendary metamorph in the painting.
Sana: Do you know who that is?
Rahman: ::nods:: Garuth.
Sana: And what’s she doing?
Rahman: Standing next to Krios and Valt?
Sana: Mmhmm. Standing next to those in power. That’s not an uncommon image of metamorphs in art, history, and the popular imagination. The ever loving and subservient metamorph, standing next to those who matter, those who make the real decisions.
Her mother crossed her arms again.
Sana: Do you know whom Jatann is married to?
Rahman: I haven’t met her. He told me she’s a member of the parliament.
Sana chuckled at how he’d downplayed it. Just the way of course his wife would have wanted.
Sana: Indeed, she’s a member. She’s the First Minister of the Kriosian Parliament.
Sana: In fact, most politicians have a metamorph as one of their spouses.
Rahman: “One of?”
Sana: Oh, he didn’t tell you? It’s not uncommon for those married to a metamorph to still find other partners to wed. The First Minister has two other husbands, both non-metamorphs. Evidently, a perfect mate can lose its novelty after a while.
Roshanara frowned, thinking back to Jatann staring out the window of the carriage, looking at the large Capitol building. She wondered if the First Minister kept her other two husbands in separate residences as well or if it was only the metamorph that she kept stowed away at the palace, calling him up only when she wanted to see him.
Sana: Can you guess how many metamorphs have ever become politicians themselves?
When Roshanara shook her head, Sana took a couple steps closer to her.
Sana: None. How many have ever become leaders of industry? ::She shook her head.:: None. How many became scientists, lawyers, priests, or physicians? None.
She gave a slight smile.
Sana: And starship captains?
Sana: ::She shook her head again.:: Wrong.
Her mother gently pointed in her direction.
Captain Roshanara Rahman
CO, USS Veritas