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Part of USS Cygnus: A Failure to Communicate

Shrinking the Cygnus

One Day after Departure from Deep Space 9
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One week before departing for the USS Cyngus

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There’s only two types of people in the world…The ones that entertain, and the ones that observe…Well, baby, I’m a put-on-a-show kind of girl

Ally looked up in the mirror at the people behind her and let out a sigh.    “Okay what’s the problem now,” she turned to face the group of people looking at her like a class of first-year plebes from the academy.

“That I am not sure I bend that way ‘darlin’,” Dennis Murphy let a boisterous laugh, “and I am pretty sure if Fred does that he ain’t ever getting back up.”

The bout of laughter following his comment made even Ally crack a smile.   The annual San Francisco Police Precinct talent show was more a matter of being a good sport than actual talent however, Ally had spent almost her entire life helping run it and performing in it.  This was her most daring production number in it.  Primarily because all her performers were ninety years old or older.   Buck, Dennis, Fred, Bill, and George along with their wives were more family than friends.   All of these men had served with her father since they were as young as Ally was now.  She had grown up as a police brat in an extended family with Psueduouncles, aunts, and cousins.  Because of this, they had good-naturedly put on whatever skit, song, or dance number Ally had invented since she was ten years old.   Pursing her lips, she side glanced at the holo-radio pumping out Whitney Bleers song Circus.  It was fast-paced and Ally had tamed down the perky little Orion’s dance moves from the holo-vid to account for the various, knee and hip replacement most of her performers suffered from.

“Well if Fred falls dance around him,” she said trying to keep a straight face.   “No one in the audience is going to know if you make a mistake unless you show them.  Own it.  Feel it,” she began her pep-talk with pure conviction in her voice and on her face.  “Do you want the San Diego Precinct taking First Place?  Oh no, you don’t,” she answered the rhetorical question.  “Besides the fireworks and pyrotechnics will distract people.  All you need to do is remember the steps.   Now let’s try it again.”

Ally turned back to the mirror and saw all the men and women acting like they had no desire to be doing this however, as she counted out the beats, everyone was on their feet and getting ready to shuffle, ball-change, and hop to the beat.

All eyes on me in the center of the ring just like a circus…When I crack that whip everybody gon’ trip just like a circus

“Don’t stand there watching me, follow me, show me what you can do,” Ally spoke the words to the song loudly instead of singing them eyeing Buck and Bill who were just swinging their hands with far less enthusiasm than the rest of the cast.  As bad as they looked, Ally knew their complaints, grumbles, and moans were just the men being men.  Their wives were entirely into the couple dancing sections in it.  The smiles and small muttered comments between the couples tugged at Ally’s heart.    One day she wanted to be just like them.   Married and complaining but so in love with the other person in their arms.   “Nice spin Ethel.   Rose and Fred excellent dip.”   Ally continued to call out praise and corrections as they ran the number.   Her attention was so focused on her pupils, she did not notice a new figure enter the room as the song played.

There’s only two types of guys out there…Ones that can hang with me and ones that are scared…So, baby, I hope that you came prepared….I run a tight ship, so beware

“So does Captian Bane,” the voice used the tight ship comment to announce his arrival, “however if you can get him up and doing this,” the man twirled a finger at the motley crew of geriatric dancers, ”I want a front-row seat.”  Captain Spicer strolled into the room holding Ally’s transfer papers in his hand.   He could have just sent them however, he had watched Ally throughout the academy and had hand-picked the USS Cygnus for her.   The ship had a solid crew and a phenomenal command team.  She was going to learn a lot from them. The only concern he had was if the Cygnus was ready for the pint-sized powerhouse.

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One week later …..Captain Bane’s Office Door

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Ally stood at the door of Captain Bane and took a deep breath.   In truth, she hated the first day of any place.   The second day was far more productive.  You knew what to expect and the expectations.  Today however was Ally’s first day on the USS Cygnus and she was bound and determined to make the day perfect.   *Okay Ally you got this.   It doesn’t matter if he is the CO.  I mean he puts his pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us.  The only thing different between him and you is his quarters are larger, his pips can blind you in direct sunlight, he owns your life, controls your shore leaves, duty schedules,* her mind began to drift from pep talk to realities.

Letting out a huge sigh, she shook out her hands and hit the door control waiting for the CO to grant her permission to enter. Tugging at her shirt and straightening her posture, Ally tried to make her California girl exterior less noticeable.   The second most people saw her 5’4″ stature, blonde hair, and perpetual tan, they all assumed she was a beach bunny.   Taking a deep breath she held it waiting for the pneumatic door to swish open.

Captain Bane looked up from the PADD he was looking at about crew rotation, and about crew that were being assigned to other posts, but most specifically about people that were being assigned to the Cygnus. He had put in a request on their way back from their most recent mission for more personnel to be assigned to the ship, and it looked like Starfleet had finally come through for the ship. “Please, come in,” he said, which the computer took as affirmation for the doors to be opened. Of course, as the doors opened, Bane saw immediately how young the new officer being assigned to the ship was. Inwardly, he cursed at whatever Admiral had the perverse satisfaction of sticking it to the Cygnus. Outwardly, he smiled. “Please Ensign, come in and have a seat.”

As the door opened, Ally got her first look at the new CO.  Well at least he is smiling but Spicer was right.  He doesn’t look like the dancing jazz hands type, she thought as she walked confidently into the room.   “Hello I am Ally,” she said, extending her hand to the man behind the desk before instantly retrieving it.  “I mean Ensign Ally…Scott,” she quickly brought her hand up to her forehead in salute.   Closing her eyes and cringing internally she took a deep breath as she dropped her hand.  Why don’t you just introduce yourself as Ensign Babbling Baboon, she grimaced.  Taking a breath she started over.

“I am Ensign Ally Scott reporting for duty.  Do you prefer a salute or handshake,” she asked him.   It was times like this she really wished she had dyed her hair brown instead of keeping it natural blonde.   It was just nerves from never reporting in that had her look like she graduated at the bottom of the barrel from the academy.

Bane rose from his chair, sitting the PADD he was looking at down noiselessly on the glass desk. “A handshake will be just fine, Ally Ensign Ally Scott,” he said, a twinkle in his eye. “Formality certainly has its place, but saluting is pretty archaic on both our worlds. You won’t have to do that anymore, unless an Admiral shows up, or during award ceremonies, or Prophets forbid any punitive actions that must be taken.”

“Well that is a relief,” she let out a half chuckle and smiled.  Bane’s neck might have enough pips to blind you if the sun hit them right but the man seemed to have a sense of humor.  Ally could work with that.   Extending her hand she shook his and then took a seat in one of the chairs facing Bane.

Bane had asked for more senior and seasoned officers to be assigned to the ship. Clearly, Starfleet Command thought they were doing just fine and sent yet another Ensign straight out of the Academy. He wondered for a moment if she still got spacesick still. “Ensign, what position are you reporting to aboard our ship,” he said, gesturing to the room at large, but metaphorically to the colossal ship.

“Oh,” Ally looked at him and then tucked a chunk of hair behind her ear.   “I am your psychiatrist.”

Bane’s eyes went wide with surprise, blinking several times.

“Well, not your psychiatrist but the ship’s psychiatrist unless you need one?”  Bane’s years of experience reading people as a commanding officer was not needed right now to see the shock and horror spreading over his new Ensign’s face.   A blind man could see Ally had realized her faux pas.  Scratching her forehead, Ally looked down for a second regretting that she had not brought a cup of coffee with her.  Years ago in clinical rotations, she had learned that a well-timed sip of coffee hid surprise, shock, or confusion. Usually, it was on her part when someone revealed something in therapy she wasn’t expecting.  Today it would have served both her and Bane well.   “I am gonna just rewind and start again,” she looked up at Bane nodding slightly as if leading him to say *sure Ally you look like an idiot but let’s give it that college try and see if you can make it three strikes before I throw you out.*

“I am the ship’s new psychiatrist.  I am just a little nervous if you can’t tell,” she let out another small nervous chuckle.   “One day you and I are gonna sit back and laugh about how fast you called the transfer office once I left asking if I am just pay back for some event in your past but I can assure you,” she began to relax some as she spoke, “I graduated in the top three percent of my class in counseling services.  I am committed to making sure this crew has someone they can come to to talk about their concerns, problems, and just have a place to go when they need someone to talk to.”

Bane wasn’t sure he liked being told what they were going to do someday, but maybe that was just a human thing. He had learned over his several decades of service that sometimes humans did that, or did other bizarre things, like put mayonnaise on their french fries. Weirdos! “We have needed a Counselor aboard for quite some time. I am glad that Starfleet granted the request. Since you are the only Counselor aboard, would you feel comfortable assuming the Chief role in an acting capacity until such time you either grow into it, or Starfleet assigns someone here with more experience?” Bane didn’t quite know what to think of her just yet. He knew for sure that she was green. Very green. Neon green, even.

“Of course,” Ally nodded however in her mind the conversation was a bit more vocal.  Dude you are gonna love me.  In fact, once I get my office set there is going to be a need for a bouncer at the door because my office is gonna be like nightclub downtown with everyone wanting to get in, she thought.   “If you don’t mind maybe I could tell you a little bit about myself,” she volunteered.

Bane smiled warmly and nodded. “I’d like that.” It seemed to Bane that once she got past her nerves, she was quite sure of herself. With time and seasoning, she would be able to temper her nerves and control them instead of them controlling her, he thought.

“Well I come from California and yes I surf but I am not a beach bunny.   My Dad is a retired police officer from San Francisco and I have two brothers, Jeff and Jason.  I always wanted to be a doctor but volunteering one summer I found I was also good with people so I decided on psychiatry as a way to do both.”

“I hate the word safe space,” she relaxed back in her seat.  “It is too cliche.  I mean do you really need your therapist to announce publicly that what goes on isn’t for public consumption.   I also don’t like to see myself as a counselor.  I see myself as more of a life coach.  You come to me with whatever is going on and I make you the best you that you can be.  I also tend to be more proactive in my therapy approach.  You are never gonna get senior staff to come in and admit they are lonely or made a bad call when the enemy ship was pounding the snot of us.”  Ally’s eyes widened for a second realizing she was actually not protected with the counseling privilege to speak freely.   “Not that you would make a bad call…sir,” she gave him a weak smile.

“Naturally,” Bane responded, though he was not entirely sure she heard him. Inwardly, he had to smile at that.

“I just meant that at times people need more than some fluffy pillows, a box of kleenex, and a go get ‘em tiger pep talk.  I have found security folk tend to talk more when you have them on the PT field.   Science people do best when chatting with beakers in their hands and senior staff talk openly with a beer in their hand in the lounge.  The point,” she finally took a breath, “is I plan to be pro active and reactive.”

Plase didn’t exactly know what a safe space was (though he could gather it from context), nor what a box of kleenex was. What he did know was that he liked this girl, this officer, this Counselor, from the start. He was absolutely positive that whatever her plans were with the way she wanted to help counsel people aboard the Cygnus, they would immediately get dashed at the first onset. Afterall, no battle plan ever survived first contact with the enemy. “Sounds like you know exactly what you want to do and how you want to help people on our ship,” he said, a subtle sign that she was now part owner of the success of the mission the Cygus enjoyed. “Tell me, Miss Scott, what are your thoughts on your duties when you are not in session with members of the crew?”

Ally moved from relaxing back in her seat to the edge of it.  “I am so glad you brought that up.  I mean let’s face it people are never really enthused about meeting the counselor.  I am pretty sure there is a poll somewhere that ranks going to the counselor somewhere between the annual check-up with the doc and having a root canal.”   Ally hoped Bane saw the humor in her comments.   People rarely relied on humor but it could relax people faster than a sedative in an uncomfortable situation.

“They always come in saying the same thing  I am not crazy so,” Ally let the words roll off her tongue, “I would like to have monthly events for the crew that are fun.   Like a barbecue,” she threw out casually like there were old friends.  “Open up the hangar bay and roast a few hot dogs or use the holodeck and throw a luau.  You know something that says come for the fun and I am not going to secretly judge your sanity while you are there.”   Ally looked at Bane hoping the man’s current expression was agreeing and not abject horror hidden behind years at the command seat where hiding your internal feelings was a must.  “Hopefully it will allow the crew to be more comfortable with me when they don’t need me so when they do I already have a rapport established.”  Ally stopped and waited for Bane to give her some feedback.

Bane sat back in his chair, actually a bit impressed. It had never occurred to him to have a party in the shuttlebay with the bay doors open. With the right music and the right lighting, that could be a lot of fun. Crew rest and relaxation were as important to him as completing a mission successfully. It took a crew that was rested and comfortable with each other to be able to perform their jobs to the highest standards in which Starfleet, and he, expected. And she was right; she did need to have that rapport with the crew if she were going to perform her function on this ship successfully. He nodded. “That sounds good. So in addition to being the Counselor, you also see yourself being the moral officer, of sorts. I have to hand it to you, Counselor, in all my years in service, that is the first time I’ve heard that approach being taken. You have my blessings to do so, though you will need to clear the times and schedules of any events you wish to throw with the Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Erik Larsen. He has his finger on the pulse of the crew, so to speak, and when something could be scheduled to maximize its effectiveness.”

“Of course,” Ally’s tone indicated she was slightly shocked at Bane’s statement.  It wasn’t that the events had to be cleared, yet more that the brass would be showing up.  At times having the big dogs at events tended to keep everyone a bit more tensed.   That was a problem for another day however and Ally would solve it like she did everything else.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome you aboard, Counselor. Please get with Lieutenant Lisald for quarters assignment, and be sure to check in with Commander Larsen, too. Dismissed.”

 

OFF

A JP by:

 

Bane Plase, Captain

USS Cygnus, Commanding

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Allison “Ally” Scott, Ensign

USS Cygnus, counselor