Setting An Example
Episode 8: A Greater Power
Location: Counsellor's Office
Timeline: Day 180 at 0935
The orders had been perfectly clear; without exception, everyone had to have medical and psychological evaluations. The crew had reacted with the typical mix of reactions.
In truth it was the same for Aria Winters, yet the newly appointed XO had decided to lead by example. She had thankfully been allowed to shed her crutches for short periods of time. She was taking advantage of the situation to now visit their counsellor. Go in from a completely false position of strength, that was her game plan.
Taking a deep breath, she touched the door chime and waited on an answer.
Being a Counsellor required a personal touch in order to make a rapport with people, and that started with first impressions Even though she was only on the Nogura as a favour to her 'partner', Commander Kizohl knew more about Captain Drayton than anyone, and if he needed her help with his crew, she couldn't say no. She'd spent her journey back to the ship reviewing reports that had been made available to her and had reviewed the profiles of every affected member of the crew; some familiar, some not so. Appearing at the door, the Commander pulled on the bottom of her uniform jacket and smoothed out any creases, plastered a warm smile on her face and pressed the button to open the door.
"Commander Winters, is it?" she asked with a smile as she stepped aside and welcomed the XO into the office, "Lieutenant Comander Idra Kizohl," she introduced herself before walking over to the replicator. "Can I interest you in some water?" she only ever offered water as a way to help hydrate the body and the mind and, hopefully, help the healing process.
Stepping into the office, Aria returned the smile. Like most, she was never one to sit in a room and bare her soul and right now it wanted wrapped in cotton wool. “No, thank you. I just had some tea.”
As she spoke she settled down on the couch, inwardly grateful to rest for a few minutes.
Idra took the opportunity to replicate a jug of cold water and two glasses anyway and carefully carried the tray over to the table between the XO and where she would position herself. "So, Commander," she smiled as she poured herself a drink of water, "you've not had an easy few days..."
“Me and a lot of others,” she conceded. The counsellor was as an air of calm, as if this was just a casual talk. “Which is why the Captain was clear this was mandatory. I didn’t think it fair to order people here if I didn’t come myself.”
"Ah, so you are not here by choice but out of duty to your crew?" Idra questioned as she sat back in her chair and closely regarded everything before her; the looks, the demeanour, the mannerisms... everything and anything that could help her in her conversation with the executive officer of the ship.
“I didn’t quite say that,” she countered. “But of course that is part of it. The Captain has offered me an opportunity to stay on board and I don’t plan on failing him or them.”
"Why?" the Counsellor questioned as she lifted her glass and took a sip of water, "They aren't your crew. You're an outsider. Why should it matter to you what they think?"
“It’s what I think,” Aria corrected calmly. “Captain Drayton has asked me to stay on board as his XO. So they are my crew, just as much as the crew I lost.”
"And how does that make you feel? Taking on responsibility for another crew, a crew considerably larger than that you have been in charge of before?" the Counsellor mused softly, her gaze transfixed on the Commander.
Aria considered her answer with care. “A little terrified,” she admitted with a rueful smile. “It isn’t just a lot of people, it is people I know but don’t really know. Which sounds insane. And humbled. He doesn’t know me but the captain has trusted me. It humbling and daunting. But I also feel...”
She stopped, her breath this time a little ragged. “Two months of my life are just gone. My ship gone, my family for five years. For some reason they picked me, out of 150 people. I don’t know why. Am I meant to be grateful? Angry? Guilty? I honestly don’t know.”
"Survivors guilt is more common than you could possibly imagine," Idra responded as she sat forward in her chair and started to earn her latinum. "It is not for us to question why these things happen, why fate happens to choose us. It is for us to remember those that are gone and to ensure that they are never forgotten. And to be thankful that you are alive and well. You have a new role, a new path to take," she advised of the senior officer, "I am a firm believer in fate and things happening for a reason."
“Maybe in time I will be thankful,” Aria observed. “But that isn’t today. I think I need to be able to say goodbye properly to them. Did they suffer? In fact no, I’d rather not know. I don’t even think I want to know what happened in that month between my capture and the others being taken.”
Even if the last question troubled her when she had finally slept.
“So... aside from all the death, abduction and testing, it’s all good,” she declared with the most cheerful smile she could muster.
Idra feigned a smile for the Commander, who was trying her best to deal with things, but she clearly had a long way to go. "Let me ask you," the Counsellor smiled, "What bothers you the most? That they are gone, or that you weren't there with them?"
Several times Aria seemed about to answer and then changed her mind. It was not something she had stopped to weigh up. They were almost equally bad. “That I wasn’t with them. I know it wouldn’t have changed anything but my place was on that bridge. We all accept the risk and the danger. I never imagined being the only one left. And I’ve lost them over and over again.”
She straightened, releasing a deep breath, “but as my mother always says, we are a people who survive. And she always said I have my father’s stubbornness. The best of both worlds.”
"If you had been there, you would probably be dead now, just like them," Idra told bluntly, "but now you're here. Think of the positives! You have experience of Nihari technology, you know what they are capable of and that experience will be crucial in any investigation or counter strike Captain Drayton will lead. You've been entrusted with the lives of nearly a thousand men, women and children. Why?" she stopped for a minute as she lent further forward, "Because Captain Drayton knows that he can trust you to do the job and he needs you to do that job."
The Counsellor took a sip of water and relaxed back into her chair. "Survivor guilt needs processing, you need to deal with it in a way that suits you, but try, however hard it may seem, to see the positives. You are here, alive and well, to make sure that no one goes through what this crew did ever again."
“They won’t,” Aria vowed, her voice laced with determination. “And I will take your advice, thank you.”
"We can leave it for today Commander," the Counsellor smiled, "but I expect to see you at least two times a week until further notice," she told with a look that said it was not optional.
“Understood,” Aria answered, too grateful for the reprieve to argue. Particularly if the woman had read her file. She climbed to her feet, “if anyone avoids coming to see you, please let me know?”
"Oh, don't you worry," the Counsellor smiled as she rose to her feet, "I'll be straight on the comm."