Canopus Station
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Did Somebody Order An Arm?

Posted on Fri Aug 2nd, 2019 @ 10:08pm by Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci

Mission: S0E0: What Came Before
Location: Mara’s quarters
Timeline: Two days after the return to Canopus


“Damnit!” Mara hissed, dodging the ball as it flew back towards her. She was having trouble controlling how hard she tossed things. It seemed that either it landed between her and the wall or it hit hard and ricocheted back to her. She was attempting to hit the wall and have the ball bounce on the floor before returning to her hands.

As she crossed to retrieve the ball again, her door chime rang. “Come in,” she called, expecting it to be Spires.

But, instead of the reporter, Ravioli came bounding in and jumped on her once before running over to her toy box and choosing a squeaky toy. Before Mara could even react, a small child ran in after the dog, giggling the whole way.

“Sorry,” said a voice at the door. Mara looked up to see a dark skinned man in an engineering uniform standing in the door, holding a duffel bag and a PADD. “They just pulled her out of cryosleep. I hope you don’t mind. Oh, and Francie left Ravioli with me before she left on the rescue mission.”

Mara glances at the dog and small girl- who were happily playing a tug of war with Ravioli’s chosen toy, and then grinned at the man. “It’s fine,” she replied. “I love kids.”

The man grinned. “I am Lieutenant Aarav Bulusu,” he said. “And my daughter is called Usha. I have your arm,” he added with another grin, holding up the duffel.

“Oh,” said Mara. “Oh! Come in. Sorry. I’ve been practicing with this thing and it’s got me frustrated.”

“Yes, those training prosthetics aren’t very good,” agreed Aarav, crossing to the table and setting the duffel on it. “They’re all right for a few days, but anything more is just infuriating. The permanent one picks up on more subtle cues than the one you’ve got now.” As he spoke, he had opened the duffel bag and pulled out the new prosthetic, which he now held up for Mara to inspect. “It’s a beauty, isn’t it?” he said, beaming at her.

In fact, other than the connector on one end, it looked for all the world like a real arm. Mara reached out to touch it and recoiled at the touch of real skin. “That’s…” she said, but didn’t know how to finish the sentence.

“Creepy,” supplied Aarav. “I know. I’ve worked with literally hundreds of these things and do you suppose I ever get used to it?” He chuckled. “Every time I pick one up, it gives me the willies. Anyway, this one has been adjusted to your exact specifications, more or less. Since we couldn’t measure your left arm, we simply mirrored your right, so it may be slightly different, since our bodies aren’t perfectly symmetrical, but it won’t be a difficult adjustment. Shall we get it attached and I can show you the software used to adjust the settings?”

“By all means,” agreed Mara, ready to be rid of this horrible white monstrosity. “How do we get this one off?”

“Very simple, actually,” he answered. “Place the pinky and thumb together, like this,” he said, demonstrating. “And then pull the middle finger down with your right index finger. A bit farther. There we go!” He said as the prosthetic clicked and whirred and then gave a cathunk! at which point it fell into his waiting hand. “This one will come off the same way, but it has to be your index finger; it’s got your fingerprint stored in it. That’s so nobody can take it from you. And this one attaches as easily as the other did,” he added, holding the new prosthetic next to the connector on her arm. Just as the training prosthetic had, the permanent one sucked itself into place. There was more clicking and whirring and then it stopped, leaving only a slim band of silver visible around her arm; it looked like she wore an arm band just above her elbow. “All right, try to raise your arm and flex your fingers,” instructed Aarav as he fiddled with the PADD.

Mara did as instructed, finding that the new prosthetic responded a bit more readily than the trainer. “Why is the trainer so much more difficult?” she asked.

“Because this is more difficult than controlling your real arm,” Aarav said, nodding to the new prosthetic. “Early on with these prosthetics, it was discovered that patients weren’t trying hard enough, so they made these trainers just a bit more difficult to use in order to force you to work harder. Then, when you get the real one, it seems easy in comparison, very nearly as easy as using your real arm. But I’m reality, you’re still working much harder to move this arm than you are your real one. It’s a way to sort of fool the brain into getting it right.”

“Fascinating,” replied Mara, examining the new hand curiously. “Have you been working with these long? You seem to know an awful lot about them.”

In response, Aarav rolled up his pant leg to show one of the same silver bands just below his knee. “In my senior year at the academy, there was a malfunction with the shuttle I was using to ferry passengers between Jupiter station and Earth. I managed to land, but not before a small explosion severed my leg. None of the passengers were hurt, though, so I considered it a win.” He rolled his pant leg back down. “I became an expert in them and actually switched from flight to engineering because of it. Now they put me in areas where there is a risk of personnel losing limbs. I didn’t expect it to be this quickly, though.”

She glanced at him with a sad sort of smile. “Best laid plans,” she said softly. “Anyway, you said something about adjusting the settings?”

“Yes!” He replied, holding up the PADD he’d been fiddling with. “This is it. It’s a rather large program, so I usually recommend using a PADD dedicated to it. It’s the only thing on this one. Here, we have the basic menu. It’s simple enough, but there are a few things that are a bit odd. For instance, you’ll find ‘grip’ under ‘touch.’ I have no idea why it isn’t its own category, but there it is. In order to save the settings, you must tap where it says save, or it will automatically revert back to the most recent settings. That’s a failsafe, too. So if you’ve got everything all wrong and it was actually closer before you made adjustments, you can just exit the software and get the previous settings back.

“Now, if you’ve really messed things up and want to go back to the original presets, you’ll find that under settings- revert. That will erase everything you’ve done and go back to the originals. You can choose just one area or all of it.” He showed her the different buttons on the PADD. “Any questions?”

“Not so far,” she replied.

“All right,” he replied with a grin. “Since you’re an engineer, I won’t put you through the examples unless you think they would be helpful.”

“It looks self explanatory enough,” she replied, scrolling through the PADD a bit. “For an engineer anyway.”

Sudden hysterical giggling behind them drew their attention to Ravioli and Usha, who were both on the floor, flat on their backs. It soon became evident what Usha found so hilarious when she wiggled around and Ravioli began imitating her, causing Usha to erupt in giggles again.

“Sorry,” said Aarav with a grin. “We’ll get out of your hair.”

“It’s okay, really,” replied Mara with a grin of her own. “As I said, I love kids. If you ever need a sitter, hit me up.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” replied Aarav. “Usha, come. Say goodbye to Ravioli.”

“Aw,” said Usha, but she instantly sat up and once Ravioli had followed suit, hugged the dog. “Bye, Ravioli!” she said. “It was fun having you stay.”

“If you ever need a dog sitter, let me know,” said Aarav with another grin.

“Absolutely,” Mara replied. “Thanks. I’ll let you know if I have any problems.”

Aarav nodded and took Usha’s hand. As they left, Mara heard Usha ask for a dog.

“Well, Rav,” said Mara with a shrug. “Time to start getting my arm settings in the right place.” She reached down and gave Ravioli a scritch behind the ears and wrinkled her nose. “Your fur feels like pasta,” she said. “Let’s see what we can’t do about that.” And she sat down with the PADD to begin putting things right.


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