OOC: This is a repost of one of my initial posts introducing the chief of the boat. I’ll be posting a few more of these over the coming days, just a kind of character re-development and introduction for the benefit of players who’ve joined since then.
“You shouldn’t be walking” Doctor Langstrom said to his most stubborn patient.
“My younger daughter sister both graduate tomorrow, I WILL be there.”
“At least use the chair. You almost lost that leg and even with the best of 22nd century technology that knee is about as structurally sound as a toothpick, with a chip on it.”
“You mentioned some kind of brace” Minna replied.
“Chair is better.”
“Just give me the brace, or I’ll walk without it. Either way, when my little sister and my daughter both get pinned as officers, I’ll be standing right in front of them, pinning the rank to their uniforms without asking them to kneel first.”
“Alright Master Chief, I see there’s no changing your mind.”
With that the man pressed the signal to call the nurse in, and a few minutes later they were unwrapping a rather crude-looking brace. It had two thick pieces of metal, one per side, that went down from mid thigh to the knee, joined into a rotator hinge and then two more similar pieces of metal went down the rest of the way to just above the ankle, with two sets of black leather straps for the thigh and two more for the calf. At knee level attached to the pivot joints was an interior cushioned clamshell contoured to Minna’s knee, or what was left of it. All over the metal bars were various screws and gears where every angle or dimension could be adjusted to a high degree of precision, but resulting in a device that looked more like a medieval torture apparatus than a modern medical support.
“Twenty-second century, or twelfth?” Minna asked.
“We’ll fabricate it in carbon fiber once we get it fully fitted to that debris field you have for a knee and adjust it to what’s left of your range of motion.”
“Fine, Spanish Inquisition it is. Just fit it as close as you can and I’ll bring it back after her ceremony for fine-tuning.”
*** Two Hours Later ***
“Alright Minna, nice and easy, just walk to me” Nurse Sandra Fuller said.
Minna got up to a standing position using mostly her good right leg and the strength of her arms on the bars at her sides, but once fully upright she let go of the bars and gingerly moved her left leg forward using mostly the muscles in her thigh and hip. Leg extended she tried to bend the knee, which was completely immobilized except for about 40 degree of fore-aft swing and absolutely no lateral flex. The knee moved slightly and Nami gently settled her weight on the left foot, shifted forward and expecting the worst, stepped forward with her right.
The pain was excruciating, but the knee did not buckle, her body did not crash to the floor, and before she knew it, it was time to move the left leg for another step.
The torture continued for three hours straight until Minna knew that she could walk across the stage (she hoped) and then back off at the end of the ceremony. She’d cheat and use crutches or a cane before and after the ceremony itself, but she’d be damned if she wasn’t going to cross the stage to pin her little sister’s and daughter’s rank under her own power.
“What’s so important about walking without help?” Nurse Fuller asked.
“My sister Hyeran and my daughter Kyungmi I all lost family in Florida. They both joined Starfleet the day after the Xindi attacked, and I reenlisted at the same time. Both of them had another 18 months to go at the academy, but all third and fourth year cadets were scrambled to ships when the Romulans attacked Sol and both Kyungmi and Hyeran went to the Columbia. I escorted them both aboard their ships myself right before I reported to Endeavor.
“I don’t understand” Fuller said.
“I was on the Xindi weapon and suffered spinal damage during that last battle. I wasn’t supposed to walk again, but I did. I was medically cleared and lateraled to Starfleet proper from the MACOs just three days before the Battle of Sol, and I’d only been walking for about a month before. I walked my sister and my daughter onto their ships then, and now that the battle is over and Starfleet is formally graduating both of them, I’ll walk across the stage and pin on both of their rank insignia, and then they’ll walk with me back to my transport so I can return to Endeavor.”
“I heard Endeavor was pretty badly mauled.”
“Yeah, looked about the same as I did at the end of it, but we got her home. Not many of us left from the original crew, but a new captain will need the old chief of the boat, and he’ll need her standing instead of in a silly chair.”
*** Next Day, Starfleet Academy, San Francisco ***
“Harold Molina” the Admiral called the name and a young man walked across the stage, received his single rank pip and a handshake and then was on his way.
“Finally our last two graduates. We have a guest who would like to do the honors.” As the applause died down the admiral continued speaking. “Master Chief Petty Officer Minna Chang, front and center.”
With that Minna dug her fingernails into her palms and started to walk painfully and awkwardly across the stage, until she arrived in front of the admiral at a position of attention, saluted, and when the salute was returned, dropped her hand and executed an extremely unsteady and painful-looking as well as feeling about face.
“Hyeran Chang” the admiral announced, and then Minna’s 39-year-old baby sister walked up the stage and across, coming to a perfect position of attention in front of the admiral and giving, then getting a salute.
As Admiral Rudolph shook her hand, Minna pinned on the rank insignia. “I guess I’ll have to call you ma’am now, Ensign Chang” Minna said.
“Thank you so much coming Master Chief Petty Officer Chang”, Minna replied with a very broad smile.
“Kyungmi Kimura” Admiral Rudolph called out and as Minna’s’s sister Hyeran walked off the stage, her 22-year-old daughter approached and repeated the same ritual as Minna pinned her rank.
“I knew you would be here, mother.”
“The entire Romulan fleet couldn’t keep me away, MA’AM” Minna replied as she proudly saluted her daughter, who now outranked her.
*** Two Hours Later, Hanlin’s Pub, San Francisco ***
“Are you really going right back to Endeavor? You can barely walk” Hyeran said.
“We’re invincible, right mother?” Kyungmi said.
“It’s not as bad as after the weapon. I’ll be running laps in no time” Minna replied, adding “and yes, we three are invincible. Kyungmi-ya, are you going back to the Enterprise?”
“I asked staffing if they could post me on Endeavor, with you.”
“That’s not a good idea, a-ga (Korean term for my baby)”.
“Umma (mother), it’s done. I’m assigned as Second Science Officer. I’ll make you proud, and don’t worry, I’ll pull my own weight. I don’t want any special favors.”
“You outrank me, I’ll be the one asking for special favors” Minna replied.
“Yeah right”. “Yes, I’m an officer, but everybody knows better than to mess with the chief of the boat, especially not when she went into Xindi space and returned to tell the tale.”