The First Step to Moving On
Episode 8: A Greater Power
Location: Counsellor's Office
Timeline: Day 180 at 1410
Unlike many of her kind--pilots, that was--Brynna didn't hate seeing a counselor. It wasn't her favorite activity in the world, of course, but she understood the necessity. She'd been sent to see one after the tragedy at the ELT factory when she was a teenager, and it had become a fairly regular facet of her life since becoming a pilot. Her world was such a high-stress, dangerous, and unpredictable one, getting help with the emotional state had to be a given.
So it was that she did not trudge into the counselor's office at her appointed time. She walked up to the admin desk in the small front room and to the enlisted man there. "I'm here to see Counselor...Kizohl, I believe? I have an appointment. Major Keil."
"The Counsellor is waiting for you Major," the man nodded an granted the marine access to the woman's private office.
With a nod and word of thanks, Brynna moved past the desk and into the office beyond, where she found a Trill woman with dark hair. "Commander Kizohl?" she asked. "Major Brynhild Keil."
Major Kizohl, please, come in," Idra greeted her guest with a wide smile and gestured to one of the vacant chairs in the seating area. "I apologise for not being there to greet you. I've had a lot of notes to record lately," she explained as she looked down at the pile of PADDs mounting up on her desk, full of notes from all of the sessions she had gone through so far.
"It's quite alright, Commander," Brynna replied as she took the offered seat with a polite 'thank you' and tried to settle in as best she could. The scrutiny of being in the counselor's office, however, was hard to escape.
"So," the Counsellor walked over to the sofa area and poured herself a glass of water, silently offering the Major a drink, "Captain Drayton tells me you and I might have something in common," Idra smiled as she tried to build an instant rapport with the marine.
The major politely declined the drink, but tilted her head with curiosity. "Do we?" she asked curiously. "I don't believe the captain said as much to me."
"Indeed we do," the Counsellor nodded as she slowly rolled up her left sleeve to reveal an inking that looked very tribal. "I was recently on holiday with my family, on Risa, and my brother thought it would be a great idea if we all got a matching tattoo. Would you believe it if I said that when it came round to his turn, he chickened out?" she smirked as she thought about Isa and his cowardly ways.
"Men can't handle pain as well as women," Brynna said with a smirk. "Nice ink, though. We do indeed have something in common. The captain thought it was something that had fallen out of fashion. And it has, but it lives on anyway." Her face grew somber then. As do the dead, Valhalla. As do the dead.
"Well, shall we get down to business?" she pressed a button on her PADD to activate the recording for her session notes. "So, I've noticed there are no personal logs attributed to you aboard the Nogura. Tell me, how are you feeling?" the Counsellor asked, with a look that insinuated she would know if there was any bull in her answer.
Luckily for them both, Brynhild Keil had never been a woman to beat around the bush. She usually went straight through the bush when that was the best course, and she didn't need to make a game out of this. "I feel pretty damn awful," she said bluntly. "This is all pretty f--" She did catch herself at that one. "It's all pretty messed up. I'm not entirely sure where to begin to deal with it. But I guess that's what you're here for."
"Absolutely," the Counsellor nodded and decided on a line of questioning to take. "Okay, how about we begin with whats the most messed up part?"
"Did the captain tell you just what my tattoos are?" Brynna asked, tilting her head with a faraway look in her eyes.
Idra Kizohl shook her head slowly and remained silent, letting the marine have her moment.
Brynna was thoughtful for a moment before she explained. "They are memorials. I've tattooed the names of the friends and pilots under my command that I've lost. It's how I got my call sign: Valhalla. Odin's hall of the dead. I was called the keeper of the dead in the academy." She paused, checking that the other woman was following along.
"A very unique way of remembering people," Idra mused quietly, nodding in response to the marines clarification. "If I may, what made you decide to deal with your losses in this way?" the Counsellor queried, noting that the marine seemed a little... detached, almost, if that was the right word.
"It started when I was sixteen," the major began. "I worked at a place called ELT that built fighter craft. There was an explosion and several co-workers, friends, were killed. I was badly injured." She frowned slightly, thinking back. "I knew that I wanted to do something to remember those who had not survived like I had. I knew someone who had tattoos, and I liked the idea. It just...became a thing that stuck, I guess."
"Fascinating..." the Counsellor smiled as she crossed one leg over the other and lent on the arm of her chair for both comfort and support. She truly found the coping strategies of different people very fascinating. For some, a permanent reminder of those they had lost was far more effective than taking the time to talk about their losses. "So... let's talk about recent events."
Brynhild smiled wryly. "I knew we'd get there sooner or later. I don't even know where to start, though. It just seems all much bigger than what I'm used to comprehending. Or at least, what I'm used to having to deal with. My world very often isn't much bigger than the cockpit of a fighter."
The Trill nodded slowly as she listened to the marine's words. "I can understand that," she added briefly, "the situation had the potential to affect the entire Federation; I'm sure it was much bigger than anyone could have imagined. How do you feel about it all now you know that none of what you experienced was real?" she asked the woman opposite her.
"Honestly, that's the part that feels the biggest. They...created an entirely different universe just in our heads. I don't know I've ever had my sense of reality so thoroughly fucked with--" The "th" sound was a little drawn out before she smiled a touch sheepishly. "Apologies for the language. Neither pilots nor Marines are known for their gentile word choices."
Idra waved away the woman's concerns and gave a little smile. "I'm friends with Colby Drayton. I assure you, I've heard worse," the Trill smirked before abruptly adding "don't tell him I told you that!"
Brynna chuckled quietly. "My lips are sealed, Commander," she said. "But... That's the whole of it really. These aliens created entire realities for all of us, without our knowledge or our consent. Not only is it brain-bending, but it's violating."
"You're right," the Counsellor nodded, "it was nothing short of a violation. Our normal avenues of recourse are cut off. We cannot apprehend the perpetrators, there is no way for them to be confronted. So, how do we get past this feeling?" the Trill asked, wondering what the Major's suggestion might be, if any. She had her own suggestion of course, but this had to be led by the marine ideally.
"I thought figuring that out was your job, Commander," Brynna said with a small quirk of the corner of her mouth.
Idra laughed a little, an accompanying nod signalled that she agreed with what the marine had said. "At the risk of sounding like a priest, I think the key here is forgiveness," she began. "We cannot change the fact that this happened. What we can do is use the knowledge that we obtained from it and move forward. In doing so, we can learn to forgive the Nihari, despite the fact that we will never forget that these things happened."
Nothing that was said here surprised Brynhild, but she wasn't sure of one thing... "How does one forgive something on this scale?" She frowned thoughtfully.
"By learning and trying to understand the reasons behind their actions," the Counsellor advised, "we'll book another appointment in a few days, but I think we'll be making some progress together. In the meantime, I'd like you to come up with some questions you have about the incident, and what you would ask the Nihari if you got a chance. We'll then do our best to answer them and see if we can move past certain things on that path to forgiveness," she revealed as she slid a PADD across the table to the pilot.
"Alright," Brynna agreed, leaning forward to take the PADD and glance over it.
"Brilliant," Idra smiled as she shuffled to the edge of her seat. "I think we'll call it quits for today then Major; I don't want to push anything too quickly. I'll have my office get in touch with your next appointment."
Taking that as her dismissal, Major Keil got to her feet and inclined her head respectfully. "Thank you, Counselor. I guess I will...be seeing you again soon."