Doesn't everyone hate Counsellors?
Episode 8: A Greater Power
Location: Counsellor's Office
Timeline: Day 180 at 1640
Alexander hated Counsellors. 'Doesn't everyone?' He thought sourly as the approached the office of Lieutenant Commander Kizhol. But given recent events, he was glad of the chance to speak to someone. Ordinarily, he preferred to deal with things on his own, in his own way, but this was different. He'd died...but he hadn't. Yet, the memories of his death were still vivid and he replayed them every day. Sleep had proved elusive since learning the truth of what had happened. A deep breath helped him steel himself against what was about to happen. After a moment, the pilot reached out and pressed the door chime.
Her second victim had arrived. Commander Kizohl had already replicated the water this time, and it sat on the table in the centre of the seating area as she rose to her feet and made for the entrance. She always liked to welcome her visitors in with open arms, and so, she pressed the chime and stood aside as the doors parted. "Ah, Lieutenant Mitchell. I've been expecting you," she smiled as she held out a hand an gestured for him to enter at his leisure.
"Thanks." Xander stepped hesitantly into the room, rubbing a sweaty palm on his trousers.
"You can relax Lieutenant," she smiled as she placed a gentle hand on one of his shoulders and gestured to the seating area, "I'm not here to make things difficult for you. We can talk about anything you want. Anything at all," she smiled before heading for her own seat, "but we do have to talk," she added, referring to the order of their new commanding officer.
The Lieutenant let out a mirthless chuckle. "I don't suppose I could let you do the lions share of the talking?" He was joking, but only partly. Though there was no way that was going to fly with the Counsellor.
"Afraid not," the Counsellor smiled as she relaxed in her seat, a glass of cold water in hand, "So. How are you feeling?" she queried, interested to hear how he would respond. Would he respond in the typical way, with a joke or smart comment, or would he respond with the truth? His decision would set the tone for their meeting.
Alexander took a deep breath and let it out along with a sigh. "That's a good question." He fell silent momentarily. "I dunno. I'm struggling with this, Counsellor. That simulation seemed so real. Those memories...," he trailed off before finishing his thought, "...I just can't believe that none of it really happened."
"I can understand that," she nodded slowly as she played back everything she had read in the reports received from the Captain. "The brain is the most complex and powerful organism in a humanoid body, which is why it is often pushed to the limits of what people can endure. Alas, that is also why it makes for a particularly effective torture tool. If a foe wishes to know more about their opponents, there is no better way than to, literally, get into their head." This was probably all quite logical to the man opposite her but she hoped she was helping in some way. "Whilst the body heals itself, the brain and its memories linger for a long time, to make us remember, to make us learn and to make us adapt. I know that it probably doesn't feel like it now, but you can turn this into a positive experience," she smiled sweetly, to try and put him at ease.
He couldn't stop the bitter laugh from escaping. "Good luck convincing me of that, Counsellor." She could read up on what they'd been through all she wanted. She hadn't been there, she hadn't lived through what they had lived through. How the hell could she convince him that it could be turned to a positive experience?
"Well, you're alive aren't you?" she spoke bluntly, "Isn't that a positive? What about the fact that you've been through all of that, and still you sit here, ready to go on and carry on with life. It's shown how mentally resilient you are. What about the fact that its strengthened bonds between you and the people who will now be your colleagues? Or the fact it has further strengthened bonds with friends you had established before hand?" she offered out these pointers to the man in hope that he would be able to see something positive come from this sorry mess.
It was difficult to argue with most of what she'd said. The only part that he felt was inaccurate was the strengthening of bonds. He'd only been on the Roehampton a matter of weeks before the 'Borg Encounter', he hadn't had a chance to form any bonds or friendships. While their shared experience would tie them together for the remainder of their lives, he didn't feel that it had brought him closer to anyone. In fact he felt isolated and alone on this ship. Not that he was going to share that information with the Counsellor.
"I," he paused, "I hadn't thought about it like that." What they'd been through had been traumatic. Facing the end of the Federation, being able to remember their own deaths and yet they were still alive. The Federation was unchanged from how they'd left it more than 30 days ago. "Maybe there are some positives here after all." He still didn't know what the future held. Starfleet was yet to issue him new orders and he wasn't sure if he'd even be remaining in Starfleet. But for now he was alive and for that he was grateful.
"Then you have taken a giant leap in getting past this," the Counsellor grinned. "You can see positives where previously there were none. You've been given a second chance at life Lieutenant. What are you going to do with that chance?" she quizzed him now, not wanting to relent while they were making progress.
She was right. This was a second chance, a chance to start fresh. "I've thought about requesting a JAG billet on Earth. Maybe it's time to move away from a front line exploration billet. But if this is a chance to start fresh, then why not really make it a fresh start? Maybe I should resign my commission and make a clean break." The latter option would mean giving up flying, his first love, but he'd already moved away from flying fighters so maybe now it was time to leave flying behind altogether.
Idra listened intently to the man's musings and there was certainly merit in seeking a fresh start. "I can understand why that would appeal to you. A fresh start is a chance to move on and get away from the events of the past. But why give up something you enjoy and are good at?"
That was a good question and not one that he had an answer for right away. Why was he considering the change? Was it really a fresh start that he was looking for, or was he really just looking to run away and hide back on Earth. 'If that simulation taught us anything, it's that even Earth isn't safe from enemies who are determined enough.' He told himself. Eventually he just shrugged. "I dunno." Clearly he had some thinking to do with regards to his future.
"So, why not stay in Starfleet, do what you are good at, and help with the investigation?" the Counsellor posed to him, "I understand there is an open offer from Captain Drayton to all personnel that were rescued, so why not take him up on it?"she suggested.
The thought had occurred to him. He'd spent six months training to qualify on the Quantum Slipstream Drive and Nogura was one of the few ships in the fleet currently fitted with the latest in FTL drive technology. It seemed a waste to wind up being assigned to a ship without a QSD. "I'm sure Captain Drayton would prefer to choose his own Chief Flight Ops Officer." Xander told her. "But I'll consider it."
"Talk to him," she smiled as she shifted in here seat and moved forward a little, "he's a reasonable guy. If anyone can help, he can," she told him honestly. Not because she was the Captain's 'partner', but because she genuinely believed it.
Alexander nodded slowly. "I won't make any decision until I've spoken to Captain Drayton."
"That's a good call," the Counsellor nodded slowly. "We'll schedule a follow up appointment next week Lieutenant, but should you wish to see me before then, don't hesitate to stop by," the Trill smiled as she rose to her feet, "but I don't think it will be long until we see stark improvements," she added as she held out a hand to the man.
Xander shook her hand. "Thanks. You've given me a lot to think about."
"It's what I do," the Counsellor smiled as she let go of the man's hand, "a pleasure to meet you Lieutenant."
He looked around the room. "This hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be." Xander smiled, "It was nice to meet you too, Counsellor. Have a good day." He stepped out into the corridor and started down the corridor. His future was no more clear than before the meeting but having spoken to the Counsellor, he was leaning towards remaining in Starfleet and possibly even on the Nogura.