Be Strong, Be Bold, Be Proud
Episode 4: Whispers In the Dark
Location: Counseling Offices
Arnon stepped out his office into the waiting area carrying a life-sized stuffed animal version of the main character of a fire prevention campaign from Old Earth that the Federation had brought back some thirty years ago. The animal was a large bear-like creature in a park ranger hat. Arnon set the bear down in a chair, and when he did, he accidentally hit a button concealed in its chest, causing the stuffed animal to say in deep voice...
"Only you can prevent forest fires..."
"Oops!" Arnon said. "It's a good thing Ensign Whitaker has already left. Marcos, when you get a moment, could you put this fellow back where he belongs?"
"Absolutely, Doctor Barak," Chief Hospital Corpsman Marcos Ileos, Arnon Barak's trusted assistant. "I believe your next appointment should be here soon. As soon as they're checked in, I'll put Smokey in Therapeutic Stuffed Animal Storage."
"Excellent!" Arnon said. "I'll just go back to my office and grab a quick cup of tea! When..."
"Lieutenant Meibei zh'Khessi," Marcos said.
"Yes!" Arnon said. "When Lieutenant zh'Khessi arrives, send her right in!"
"Of course, Doctor," Marcos replied.
"Excellent!" Arnon said. And then he was back in his office.
Marcos chuckled to himself. He'd know Arnon for many years now. He liked working for him.
A good couple of minutes later the lieutenant did indeed arrive. Despite having only been on the ship for less than a day, she was already clad in a bright orange engineering jumpsuit, with her blue face already a bit dirty. How she'd managed to find dirt on a shiny Starfleet ship was anyone's guess, but she'd managed it nevertheless.
Entering the waiting room, Meibei smiled cheerfully at the assistant, even giving a jaunty wave, before her eyes crinkled with confusion at the animal sitting upon one of the chairs.
"Uh...hi," she said to Marcos in greeting. "I'm Lieutenant zh'Khessi? Doctor Barak set an appointment, so here I am."
"Sure, Lieutenant," Marcos said. "I'm Chief Ileos, the doctor's faithful and trusty sidekick. Don't mind Smokey over there. He was part of a public service campaign. His catch phrase was 'only you can prevent forest fires'. Apparently there's a crew member who took that a little too seriously and stays up all night worrying who's going to prevent forest fires if he doesn't. Anyway, you can go right into that office over there. Doctor Barak said to send you in when you got here."
Arnon was sitting at his desk dictating notes.
"...and for the next step in the fetish, she uses the eggplant to..." he stopped when he saw Meibei, rose, and came around the desk to greet her. "Computer, end dictation. Lieutenant Meibei zh'Khessi, isn't it? Please, let's sit over here. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Arnon led Meibei over to some comfortable chairs facing each other, sat down in one of them and indicated that Meibei should sit in one of the ones across from him.
"I'm sorry I wasn't available to do this sooner," he said. "But I was off ship on an away mission."
"Aw no, it's fine, really," Meibei replied earnestly as she sat. "I ain't been onboard long, just been getting acquainted with the Noggie. I just finished my first shift actually. That's sort of the reason I look so dirty and all. I like getting into a ship's belly to see what makes 'er tick."
"Excellent!" Arnon said. "So, I'm supposed to confirm that you are of sound mind and body and fit for duty and that you won't cause a warp core breach because you can't take it anymore, whatever your 'it' happens to be. So, let's get started with an easy question: On a scale of 1 to 10, just how mentally unstable and emotionally unbalanced do you think you are?"
Arnon made sure to look as if the question were being asked in earnest for as long as he could keep himself from laughing, and then went ahead and laughed.
"Oh, the look on your face," he said. "How about you just tell me a little about yourself to begin with and we'll see where things go from there?"
Having been quite stunned at Arnon's initial question, her mouth flopped open in shock, Meibei gave him a petulant look as he laughed. Still, when he asked his next question, she shrugged, smiling meekly.
"There ain't much to say, really," she said. "I come from this little colony out on the rimward border. Little first-gen colony, very rustic, but nice, you know. Folks are friendly an' all. I figured out real early that I'm good with technology and stuff, so I joined Starfleet, and I like it well enough. I got a gift, you see, for talking to ships, and they just talk right back at me."
Realising the implcation, Meibei's eyes widened as her antennae splayed in alarm, waving his arms in negation. "I don't mean actual talking, don't get me wrong! I mean metaphorically. I'm not actually crazy or anythin'. Right?"
"You'd know better than I," he said. "Are you crazy?"
"Uh..." Meibei said uncertainly, "I don't...think...so? I mean, I'm odd, I guess, and some people take issue with an Andorian girl like me, but I just tell 'em to keep on walkin'." Then realisation dawned, and her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You're teasin' me, ain't ya?"
"Actually, no," Arnon said. "You asked me a question about yourself and I wanted to know what you thought the answer was. If I thought you were wrong, and it's far too early for me to form an opinion either way, but if I thought you were wrong, we would figure it out together, but I did want to know your answer. You'd be surprised how many questions about themselves people already have the answers for. When you say that some people have a problem with an Andorian 'like you', what do you mean by that?"
"Oh, you know, not a big badass warrior," Meibei explained, smiling as if the idea fascinated her more than anything else. "I can handle ships well enough, and I don't mind taking guns apart and fixing 'em, but I'm not so good at the shooty bit."
With that, Meibei raised her hand, mimicking a gun with her fingers, and she 'fired' her imaginary weapon a few times, softly adding "Pow! Pow! Pow!" with each shot before meekly lowering her hand again.
"Yeah, I'm not big on violence, I guess," she said with a self-aware chuckle.
"That seems a littly...stereotypical," Arnon said. "I have plenty of Andorian friends. Yes, most Andorians have some level of martial skill, many of then have only studied to the bare minimum level of combat required by Andorian culture. They can duel if called upon. Most of them have served a tour either in Starfleet or the Andorian military and are aware of which end of a phaser to point at their opponents. But I wouldn't say that they are great warriors. They're engineers and physicians, JAG officers, one is a renowned family therapist. They don't seem particularly ostracized by their Andorian friends and family. So that begs the question: who is judging you for not being a warrior? Is it other Andorians? Is it more accurate that perhaps you judge you for not being a warrior?"
Her suspicion blooming, Meibei nevertheless stayed amicable, still smiling as she shook her head knowingly, wagging her finger. "Oh no you don't, Doc, don't you go psychoanalysing me. I'm plenty happy with my lot in life. I've just known some Andorians with more dung than brains, that's all."
"Lieutenant," Arnon said, patiently. "If by saying 'don't psychoanalyze me' you are suggesting that I should not ask questions, listen to the answers, and analyze those answers, then I think you are harboring serious misconceptions about what goes on in this room. So, you've encountered some Andorians with more dung than brains...are you suggesting you've encountered a number of constipated Andorians? I'm sure you have. How did you diagnose the constipation? I'm kidding. So, when these constipated Andorians look down their noses at you with strained expression on their faces from putting all of that effort into holding onto their stool, how does that make you feel?"
Chortling as she was, it took a moment for Meibei to answer properly, her antennae wriggling freely. "Aw, you know, it's...complicated. It's not just being able to shoot someone at a fifty paces, it's the whole psychology, you know? Be strong, be bold, be proud!" She exaggerated the last words looking, indeed, quite constipated in the mimicry. "Honest, Doc, sometimes it might get me down, but I don't mind, really. I stopped letting those people bother me long ago. Afterwards, I just hope they get a good sexin' to loosen 'em up. They can really use it, those stuffy Imperial Guard types."
"Remind me," he said. "Did you tell me that your engineering skills are strong? If you didn't, tell me now. Do you consider your engineering skills to be strong?"
"I like to think so, sure," Meibei said modestly. "I mean, I'm not like those fancy types at the Daystrom Institute, but I can handle just about anythin' you stick me near. Big ships are a bit more complex, but then you get little Defiants, and they can be a bit touchy unless you handle 'em just right. The math is easy too. It just comes natural, I guess."
"Ah," Arnon said. "And would you say that you are a meek engineer, or perhaps a bold one? Do you stick with what's known, or do you improvise and think outside of the box?"
Meibei shrugged. “Meek engineers are bad engineers. You can’t be gentle when you’re handling a starship. You’ve got to be firm, keep her from going wild on ya.” Pausing, her finger tapping thoughtfully on her chin, she continued, “I did once restart an matter/antimatter reaction by climbing inside a nacelle and throwin’ a little plasma grenade inside the plasma chamber. That count?”
"Absolutely," Arnon responded. "And would you say you're proud of your work, of your accomplishments?"
"Well, duh," Meibei replied, sticking her tongue out cheekily. "Chief engineer of a Sovereign in the Gamma Quadrant! Do ya know how many people dream of a job like this?"
"So," Arnon said. "Your knowledge, skills, and talents in Engineering are strong. You're bold in your strategies and when coming up with solutions to often very complex problems, sometimes in life or death situations. And lastly, you take pride in your work and you are justifiably proud of the work you've done. What was that you said that those constipated Andorians wanted you to be? Oh, yes. I remember. Be strong, be bold, be proud."
"Huh," Mei said thoughtfully, staring out into empty space, smirking at the realisation. "I never thought of it quite like that. Thanks Doc."
"Just doing my job," he said. "So, based on your ability to follow that train of thought and to acknowledge that there might be a different way to look at a belief that I'm sure you've held for many years, you've convinced me that you're fit for duty. Please know that I and the other counselors here are always here to help. If you're comfortable talking to me, I usually see the command staff and department heads, so if you want to talk something through, contact Markos out there and he'll get you in to see me as soon as he can. Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?"
Meibei shrugged, thinking. "Um...oh, what's the crew like? Is everyone humpin' each other here? Or is this a prim and proper ship?"
"I've only been here a short time," Arnon said. "Most of the crew are likable enough, and as to your other question, I'm responsible for the mental and emotional well-being of this crew and it is my learned and considered opinion that a well-laid crew is a happy crew."
"Yep, a good bit of sexin' will cheer someone right up," Meibei confirmed, smirking. Standing up, she added, "Well, thanks doc. I kinda hope I don't see more of you here, but maybe we could have a drink sometime?"
"That would be nice," Arnon said. "Good day, Lieutenant."
"Cya!" Meibei said chirpiy in return as she walked out, waving. The Nogura's chief engineer was now fully qualified for duty with Arnon's seal of approval, although his definition of Meibei's 'sanity' would soon be met by with amusement by the unsuspecting engineers.