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Getting A Leg Up
Commander Yari Nazir & Lieutenant J.G. Riley Higgs
Nazir took a leisurely pace as he meandered down the hallway. The ship was practically empty because most of the crew had decided to take their shore leave on Earth. A good number had transferred, which was perfectly acceptable. The Aldrin was changing and he was sure many would not be able to cope with the new environment. Their mission was going to be difficult, morals tested and loyalty questioned. He simply didn't have the time to deal with possible traitors to Starfleet and the far more rosy exterior. His hands slipped into his pockets as he simply did a lap around the ship.
“Practically empty” did not mean completely, however. There were still a few that remained for various reasons. One neck of the ship had the young doctor still mucking around in the sickbay. She had waited for the majority of the group to leave so she could apply some finishing touches on the artificial leg she'd finally retrieved from Marielle only just recently. Even then, that was more luck than it was intention. Riley had managed to catch up to Deniaud after the main showing of the meet and greet before she'd taken off for her own leave time. With so few people on board, she could get away with the loud music she prefered, whilst in the medical wing. There she sat on a swiveling stool and worked. Mostly testing the connections and wiring and calibrations to her known stride length and gait, numbers she'd long since memorized. Not nearly as many tools as she'd had out a few nights ago, when doing a full service cleaning of what one might call a “stand in” leg, while the other had improvements made; the one she currently worked on. It wouldn't be long before she could detach the backup, and finally affix the new.
The commander's easy strides took him over the threshold and he hummed quietly. If he was lucky, maybe he'd be able to spot Nurse Cana Graves. He'd heard she was worth exploring. His gaze settled on the youngest and newest addition to the medical staff. A pull of his lips curled to one side as he smirked to himself. …€Â˜Well, then. This should be interesting,' he thought to himself as he scratched his chin. Nazir quietly made his way deeper into the department and did not stop until he reached the table at which she worked. The Angosian's amber irises settled on the prosthetic leg on the table, his brow lifting slightly as he simply watched the Amazonian-like Brazilian tinker with the limb.
Fingers deep into the machine, she was fairly oblivious to the officer behind her that watched with such curious intent. A small section that Marielle had implanted made the Portuguese woman curious, and in her curiosity, she had been investigating it. One piece was affixed rather tightly, and she was working to loosen it, when the driver slipped and went clattering to the floor and rolling under her stool.
“Shit,” she said simply, and scooted to retrieve the lost driver, only to then see out of - initially - peripheral vision a body standing there. Naturally, she shot up to her feet and let out a sound of surprise that had no real discernable translation, save that it could have been her native tongue. The stool went rolling quietly away. “Gah! How long were you there??”
He watched her carefully, unable to keep from smirking at her reaction. “Long enough.” He moved around the table and his hands traced over the fake limb on the table. Nazir's hands smoothed over the sides until his fingers slipped under the ankle and the calf. The prosthetic was lifted as he tested the weight. “Interesting,” he murmured to himself. He brought it to his face and his eyes traced interior. His fingers continued to register the false skin - clear and smooth. It was silicone based, that much he was sure.
Riley could almost feel herself blush, a cross between embarrassment, and not-quite-violation. It was an artificial limb, fake, had no sense of touch detached, yet the way he held it made her feel almost as if he were touching her real leg. “Is...there anything I can do for you, Commander?” she asked carefully as the man examined…€… something very closely.
Nazir carefully lowered the limb. His calloused fingers travelled over the top of the leg as he felt for the release. “This is not a Starfleet design,” he informed her easily.
“It is not,” she replied simply, looking more at the limb than at the man who showed interest. “It is…€… was, rather, originally. I've…€… modified it over time to suit my needs, far beyond the basic models that Starfleet issues. It's a little stronger, has a much tighter variant for hip movement to stride gait,” she informed, while going on about a few other reasons why her's was better.
He rolled his eyes slightly at the list of changes. The man's hands pressed just under the knee. “Magic spot,” he murmured to himself as his fingertips brushed against the access point. “Must have been designed by a man.” He watched as a panel lifted from the inside of the thigh. It pushed out then up. The silicone had been so elegantly designed that he hadn't expected it. There had been no indication of a hidden compartment. He peered inside. The small rectangular cavity was not big enough to house anything of significant size. It was like a pocket. “Not big enough for a traditional phaser,” he murmured as he slid his hand into the hidden box.
“It wasn't designed with a phaser in mind,” she said, overhearing him. “With all due respect sir, I…€… would like to complete my work with that so I can wear that planetside...tonight.” The tall woman looked almost as she were worried how he'd respond. After all, it was only the two of them there.
Nazir did not straighten. He simply continued to exam the leg. “Who designed it? This would come in handy.” The limb was rolled and his fingers travelled over the curve of the calf. It was shapely, elegant lines that mimicked the lines of a woman's leg. “Definitely a man-”
“The idea was mine. The actual fabrication belongs to Chief Deniaud, sir.”
“Of course she did,” he smirked to himself as his touch continued to move over the leg. He stared at the colour tone of the silicone that was wrapped around the inner workings. There was a hint of a shimmer in the olive complexion. “Makes me happy she's agreed to be director if this is what she imagines,” he murmured to himself. “I'll need to get the schematics to my engineers at base.”
“Excuse me sir, but with all due respect, those schematics ultimately belong to me...with…€… her permission. It is my leg, and my design that this one is based off of.” She almost looked worried she might be directed to give up the leg and be stuck with the backup.
The commander straightened and finally looked up to stare at the young medical officer. He was dwarfed by a good ten centimeters. What he lacked in height, he easily made in presence. Nazir had no qualms looking up at the woman. “And, everything she designs on this ship- Anything you create or change on this ship- is property of Starfleet.” His fingers tented on the surface of the workbench as his other hand slid into his pocket.
She didn't say anything in return. She wanted to, and while they were technically off duty, he was still the commanding officer. She stared back at him, more concern than intimidation. “...My father gave that to me…€…” she said quietly.
“Then I know who to thank for the advancement of our cause.” He chuckled and shrugged offhandedly. “When we get to base, be sure to report to Doctor Asher Leighton.” His hand rested over the calf, his fingers almost caressing the silicone. “He'll want to take a look at this and I want to see it heavily tested.”
“But sir!” She began to contest, “That's the only one like that! I've spent literally years--”
Nazir looked down at the limb. “And once Asher takes a look at it, it won't be.” He looked back at Higgs. His hand lifted from his pocket and he waved it nonchalantly in the air. “Oh don't panic. You'll be with her every step of the way. I just want to see how much your leg can take.” He chuckled. “And if it breaks, Director Deniaud can just make you another one.”
“That's not the point, sir! There's sentimental value to it!” She contested further.
“Is that what you're going to tell me when you lose your leg on a mission?” he asked her, his head leaning to one side as he studied her carefully. Riley Higgs been on the short list of doctors who hadn't been booted off the Aldrin. She had been given the option of remaining, with full knowledge that the missions would be far different than that she had been accustomed. Deep space exploration was no longer the assignment. The work would be dangerous and less than half of the original fifty or so crew members had been asked to stay. Their clearances were bumped ever so slightly, but the nature of the covert operations would still be hidden. They were to be groomed, if possible, for Starfleet Intelligence. …€Â˜Or better,' he thought with a chuckle as he considered three officers in particular.
“That's different though, sir…€… A loss via a mission is part of the line of duty. I understand that risk, but if I am being ordered to simply relinquish what I've spent years fine tuning…€…”
He couldn't help but laugh. The near boisterous sound filled Sickbay as he shook with his mirth. “Are you so easily worked up, Lieutenant?” He shook his head. “I said the schematics. Not your leg.”
She looked at him. Carefully. He had said that. For a moment in time, she rather enjoyed being one of few individuals with such an advanced prosthesis. The sound of laughter though, broke through the panic, and his clarification gave her a more clear thought process. To hold such advancements as such that she had was selfish, truthfully. On the forefront of her thoughts, she'd wanted to perfect it as much as possible, never seeing in her mind where “perfection” truly lay. In the back of her mind, something her father had once said shot forward. “To ignore the plight of those we might conceivably save is not wisdom - it is indolence.”
“The Schematic is Starfleet's then. I would request that the tests be performed on a copy, not the original,” she said finally, sitting down and gripping a part of the older model to prepare it for removal.
He raised a brow. “That just won't do,” he told her flatly. His hand settled over the ankle. “This leg was made for you. What's the point of creating new ones if the design is flawed.” He lifted his hand and waved it dismissively in the air. “All he'll have you do is run on a treadmill, I'm sure.” That was a lie. He was sure Asher would do far more than that, but he wasn't about to tell a skittish little girl that.
“That leg, prior to the most recent modifications withstood pressure to pry nearly a ton of rubble from a-”
“Then you have no problems being our guinea pig.” He clapped his hands as if that was simply final.
“And if it does fail, am I stuck with my backup to wait for Starfleet to catch up to and improve on mine before I get a new one?” she asked, giving a harsh turn to unhitch the old leg, pulling it away to be set on the table where the newer one lay.
“If it fails, then it is best it fails in a controlled situation,” he told her flatly. He continued to stare at her. His patience was quickly disappearing. “The leg will be tested. You will be present for it, and you will comply.” There was an odd harshness to his tone. “This is not something you can decline. If you do, then you'll need to find yourself on reassignment.” Nazir straightened as he continued to level the woman with his amber irises.
As she was reaching for the new one, she hesitated. ~I should have let him bake a little longer with that virus…€…~ she thought to herself. But then a thought occurred to her, making her smirk, and then chuckle a little. “As I understand it then, sir, you are giving me the power to either advance you or hinder you on my behest. I stay, you get a pretty new piece of tech that makes you and this ship look good. I leave, and it goes with me. Well sir, you strike a hell of a hard bargain, but I like this crew too much to be that selfish.”
He chuckled. His chin dipped slightly as he regarded the woman carefully. …€Â˜Spirited. Stubborn. Driven. Could make for a good operative once she learns to follow orders properly,' he thought with a smirk. “You leave, I still take the leg.” His hand settled on the prosthetic limb.
“Assuming I don't have it wired only to respond to my specific genetic code. Seriously, it won't work with anyone else without extensive reconfiguration.”
He chuckled quietly as he leaned forward and whispered darkly. “You're assuming we don't have a work around that either,” he murmured as he continued to stare at her. “You will find my resources outreach your own, Lieutenant.” He straightened and pulled at the tunic of his uniform. He glanced down at the limb and tapped it once with his palm.
She held up her hand as though she were about to say another quip, but simply made a pointer finger, pointed at him in a gunshot style motion. “And that sir, is where I lose the battle. Now, if it please you, I'd like to wear my good leg to visit the surface. Besides, Doctor Asher might enjoy seeing it in motion from the get go as opposed to laying it on the table, from what little I've heard of them.
Nazir could only smirk as he shook his head. …€Â˜These people really have no idea what SFI, let alone 31, can do. Gods. This is going to be so much fun breaking them.' He simply stared at the woman for several long minutes and wondered briefly if she would become a problem. He turned and quietly made his way out of Sickbay. He stopped before he reached the very edges of the proximity sensor. He continued to stare at the door. “Lieutenant,” he called out to her. “I suggest you consider your position. If you're unable to follow orders without question, then you don't belong on this ship. There is no shame in it, but do not think it'll be tolerated on this vessel once we leave orbit.” He moved easily past the sensor, the doors opening with a soft hiss for him. He disappeared into the hallway, leaving Sickbay and the tenacious doctor.
She'd already grabbed the new leg and was in the process of affixing it. A well rehearsed set of motions had allowed her to easily move and junction it to the fixture. This leg, however, being that it had far more live wire connections, more receptors, and a direct connection with nerve tissue, the connection made her cringe and let out a small groan as the sensation was almost painful as the body suddenly was aware of a presence of the limb. The last thing he'd said caught her ears though, as she watched the doors shut behind him. “That man…€… do I really want to stick around if he's truly like this? I'm just glad Naal is in charge…€…”
And then her PADD beeped.
“Oh holy hell, I'm late! Frak you Nazir!”