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Part of Starbase Bravo: Q2 2400

Anywhere but Here

Starbase Bravo, Sector Kilo-Indigo, Dr. Heriah’s
May 2400
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The PADD remained blank as Rey struggled with the written exam in Advanced Navigation. She knew that answer to the first question and yet, in written form, the cadet blanked.

What is displacement?

Rey’s knuckles went white and she chewed on her hair. A few students behind her whispered and giggled.  Many talked about the girl who ate her hair.

“Time’s up,” the Andorian instructor said. “Log in your answers and tomorrow we’ll go back to the simulations.”

Rey logged in her exam, which consisted of only of her name. The ordeal over, she gathered her PADD and made a beeline for the door.

“Ford,” bellowed the instructor. “What is displacement?”

Rey froze at the exit. She knew the answer and yet it eluded her. “I … I don’t know, sir,” she stammered.

“You knew in the simulation. Why not now?” The Andorian tapped her on the shoulder. Rey’s fists tightened; her flight or fight response kicked in. She hated to be put on the spot in a social environment.

“I don’t know. Look, I’m late for a meeting,” Rey huffed.

“Displacement is the change in position of an object. It is a vector —”

“… quantity and has a direction and magnitude. Yeah, that’s it. I gotta go.”

Rey ran to the turbolift as hard as she could, bound for the transporter room and off the Mellstoxx III campus. Once on SBB, she practically ran Sector Kilo-Indigo and the quarters of Dr. Heriah Rex. Rounding the corner, Ford thought to bail, but sucked in her gut.

“Shut up,” she told herself. Too many people had gone out on a limb for her to even be in Starfleet, her fiancée included. Ford rapped her knuckles on Heriah’s door and began to chew on her hair.

Heriah was in the middle of pulling off her uniform top when the wrap on the door came. She had also untucked her undershirt. Not wanting to be late for going off duty, she was getting ahead of the game. But duty hours were duty hours and she still had one quarter of that left before being able to actually call it a day.

“Knocking? That’s new.” Of course she knew some people would prefer not to hear the recognizable chime or maybe they simply could not hear it. Knocking was a sure way to alert any occupants that someone had come calling. “What’s one more customer?” she asked herself.

‘Another hour or more listening to more tales of woe.’

Heriah started for the door. “Oh quiet Rex. You know you like to hear these things.”

‘To see just how petty people can be…OK, yeah I do. Would be better if you would vocalize some of my thoughts.’

“Have something worth repeating and I will.”

Heriah arrived at the door and, upon entering proximity, it slid open. She looked upon the brunette just outside her door apparently…chewing on her hair.

“Yes,” Heriah said. With her uniform top open, exposing her untucked undershirt, not to mention her hair already undone and sprayed chaotically about her shoulders and back, she was lucky this was not her boss or some other higher ranking officer. Then again, they would have chimed if not contacted her via commbadge. “May I help you,” she finished with a smile.

Rey said nothing, but handed her PADD to the Councilor as she tried to avert her eyes from the woman’s open shirt. It was reminiscent of the times her fiancée would relax in their cabin. Planned or not, the Counselor’s casual attire put Ford at ease. A smile peaked on her lips, but went away just as quickly.  The girl continued to chew on her hair as Heriah Rex went over the cadet’s information.

“Um … I –” Rey fidgeted for a moment before she straightened up. “Cadet Ford. I’m your 2:00 appointment … unless someone really fucked up.”

“No. I…uh,” Heriah started.

‘Forgot to check your appointments again.’

“…I was just…” and she let her words trail off as she perused the information on the PADD.

The PADD listed an agreement that Ford receive regular counseling due to her criminal past. The crimes were not listed, but a note was attached with information on how to retrieve the information. Ford was also listed with Level 1 ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

‘Symbiont to host, this one is chewing on her hair again.’

Heriah looked up at the newcomer and also spotted a random crewman in the corridor. “Oh, my manners. Please, do come in,” and she stepped to the side allowing entry.

Once she was in the Counselor’s quarters, Rey’s first inclination was to scout out the place. She noticed a couch, likely to be her space for the duration of the visit. Ford then noted the distance between the couch and exit and nodded to herself. It would take only a few seconds to reach the exit from the couch.

With the exception of adornments, the quarters for lower officers were the same all over the station. Rey learned to focus on the sentimental knick-knacks or trophies people had in their corners and walls. Once inside the cabin, Ford eyed the collection of swords and other weapons on display.

“I prefer a blunt weapon myself,” Rey said as she moved her eyes over one of the clubs. “If you’re going to kill someone, it should be personal.”

“Agreed,” Heriah spoke up as Rex thought it. “No point in taking a life from a distance if you can help it. And no point in making it easy either. Anything worth doing, it’s worth working hard for.” Heriah suddenly could not believe she had actually said all that. But she was distracted by the information displayed on the PADD she was handed, attempting to read Ford’s body language and resisting/giving in to Rex’s thoughts.

Heriah handed the PADD back out toward Ford as she finished perusing.

As she retrieved her PADD, Rey gave the woman a polite nod, manners taught to her by her fiancée. “Starfleet has me pegged as a crook and a retard, but you should know I’m not here by choice. No offense.” Ford instantly cringed at her faux pas. “Sorry. Charlotte told me not to use that word. You know, retard.”

Heriah decided to be a little unorthodox with Ford. In the stead of opening up with introductions, any disclaimers, or general politeness, Heriah went straight for the obvious.

“And for good reason,” Heriah said. “Tell me. Do you know what displacement is?” And without giving her the chance to answer. “There are so many definitions for ‘displacement’ and all based on the field of practice. In my field…counseling, displacement is the multi-facetted act, whether conscious or otherwise, of attempting to dis-place negative feelings brought on by an action, word or phrase by continuing its use for the end result of replacing said negative feelings with…well…something else. Displacement is something most fail at and end up only accomplishing a sense of numbness.”

“In your case,” Heriah continued before Ford could interject, “your use of the word…”

‘You can do it. Reeeeeeee…’

“…the R-word…”

‘oh come on.’

“…can be but one facet of displacement where continued use of…that word…might only make you numb to its effects. This goes directly into another facet of displacement; apology. You apologized for saying it only to repeat it as though I needed reminding. The ‘apology’ facet of displacement is where you apologize in the hope that you may hear the apology in the voice of the person who originally used that word toward you, or all those who have used it. In short, you are displacing your voice with theirs but using your words.”

‘An apology from all those who have used it? By my guess, it would sound like the Borg Collective attempting to apologize.’

Heriah brushed a hand by her right ear, moving her hair off her shoulder but was really attempting to shoo away Rex’s thought.

“And,” Heriah continued, “what was that name…Charlotte…is wise to tell you not to use that word. And for more reasons than displacement.”

Rey nodded politely as she was taught, but zoned in and out on the Counselor’s speech after ‘In my field…’ She got the gist of it, though. “Yeah, kids used to call me that at the orphanage ‘cause I was a little slow, so I started using the word. At first they laughed, but then they got mad and finally they just stopped giving me shit about it.”

She put the PADD back on her hip belt and sat on the couch. “I had to weaponize it, y’know and it just became a habit. Is this where I sit?”

“You can sit wherever you like,” Heriah said. “Or stand if you prefer.” She took the seat off to the side yet facing the couch still. “Another reason, not displacement, this Charlotte probably told you to stop saying that is because a person’s vocabulary can tend to define who that person is, even if it is not the dictionary definition of said vocabulary.”

Rey started to chew on her hair again, but felt Heriah’s on her and immediately tied it into a bun. “Another bad habit,” she said as her face blushed a twinge. “I don’t like Doctors either,” she blurted as Ford concentrated on the blank floor. “They’re always poking my body or my brain. I don’t like either. So, some dumb file has me listed as a re — sorry, as special, (she used air quotes for emphasis) but I know who I am. I’m fucked up. That’s who I am … er, what I am.”

“Well that is now two things you and I have in common,” Heriah spoke up. “Neither of us like doctors and we both have criminal acts in our past. Well,” she looked down at her belly, intrinsically at Rex, “my criminal history is a bit more complicated.”

Ford quirked an eyebrow at the woman’s comment about a criminal past. A brief smirk touched her lips, but was gone a second later. Finally, she looked up at the Counselor and realized the woman had not introduced herself. Earlier she had noted Heriah was a Trill, but had said nothing of it upon arrival. “I knew a Trill back at the Bajoran orphanage … can’t recall his name, but he was fun. When the other kids picked on me, he and I would talk about how we would off them.” The girl looked away and laughed as if she could see the memory.

“This one girl was really mean to me, so I was going to beat her up, but he — I wish I could remember his name — he gave me this dead rodent to put in her locker. It was hilarious when she found it.”

‘Sounds like something I would have done.’

Rey glanced back at the swords again. Without taking her eyes off the display, said, “So, what’s your name? I guess we better get that preliminary shit over with, right.”

“First, to alleviate any uncomfortableness you might have, I am not a doctor. So, I will not be poking at your body or your brain. I am a counselor. That means I might have to poke at your memories and feelings time and again, but not at your brain. I am Ensign Heriah Rex, counselor for Starbase Bravo and, as you might have guessed, a Joined Trill, hence the ‘Rex’ part of my name.”

“Rex …”

Rey tapped her bottom lip. “Rex … that sounds like the Trill at the orphanage.” The young woman looked away for a moment. She studied patterns in the curtains in the cabin as her mind tried to recollect the remainder of the name. It didn’t come. One of the patterns looked like a body splattered on a pavement. She shrugged and moved on.

“Counselor, Doctor, shrink, whatever. They all want to dig.” She reached for a lock of hair that wasn’t there and felt foolish. “I know it’s your job and all. It’s not personal on your part, I know. We both have orders, right? That’s what Starfleet is about. Orders, orders, orders. I know how to scrub an engine. I know how much matter and antimatter to mix into the warp drive. I know I have to keep my eye on the plasma coolant system or everything will go tits up. Why do I have to know it on paper? It’s –”

Rey paused and reached for another absent strand of hair. This time, she caught herself midway and stopped. She was still reeling from the test this morning. “Sorry for the rant.” That’s when it dawned on her. Ford felt comfortable. It was an odd feeling, and she didn’t know what to do with it. She looked at the curtains again. This time she saw a dead rabbit.

“Quite alright,” Heriah said. “As a disclaimer, I should say that we can talk about anything you want. During our sessions, you can say anything and I cannot tell anyone without your express permission. The only loophole here is if I see a clear and present danger to yourself, Starfleet or the Federation and, right now…I do not see any danger.”

Heriah thought a moment about what Ford said a moment ago, about the Bajoran orphanage. That brought up a memory…maybe. There was a memory of children, but a very foggy memory. Location and number of children was unknown. Then again, there was a growing list of particular memories of Rex’s that were cloudy and felt more like a passing dream than a real memory.

Heriah brought herself back to reality. “And, I ask that you do not see this,” she motioned with her hand back and forth between them two, “as work, or a job, or something I am ordered to do. I ask you do not see this as something you are ordered to do. Yes, Starfleet has you ‘pegged,’ as you say, a certain way and there is a condition that you are to undergo counseling. Let’s forget all that. Are you ‘special?’ Yes, but just like everyone else in the galaxy.”

Sitting forward, resting her elbows upon her knees, Heriah looked at Ford in all seriousness. “Let’s forget orders and agreements. Forget these labels. ‘Special,’ as Starfleet put it can be so insulting. Forget that you are Starfleet for the moment and…hell…I’ll do the same,” and Heriah finally pulled her uniform top off and threw it behind her aimlessly. Aside from the trousers, all she had on was a wrinkled and untucked undershirt. Her rank pips and Starfleet insignia resided on the floor with her uniform top. “Let’s just be two girls, sitting and talking, both hating doctors and both with troubled and criminal backgrounds. And…I don’t even know what to call you, except for Cadet Ford. Do you have another preference?”

“Rey.” The girl shrugged and turned away. “I mean, that’s the name they gave me on Bajor. I’m supposed to have another name that my parents gave me, but the assholes on Volan III wouldn’t tell me. My crew used to call me Crow – my salvage crew, prior to Starfleet. Char calls me other things.” Ford flashed a brief smile at the mention of her fiancée. “I don’t share those names with anyone.”

Heriah nodded her understanding. “Rey,” Heriah repeated. “That is a pretty name.”

‘Only one letter away from Rex.’

“But, back to what you said.” Heriah’s approach wasn’t new. Other counselors had tried to be friends with Rey in the past. It never worked, but then they didn’t fling off their uniform top and toss it on the floor. The girl eyed the blue and black top and thought to do the same, but only had a bra underneath. She untucked the burgundy cadet top nevertheless. “I don’t really do girl talk, y’know, shoes, makeup and shite.” Rey suddenly puled out her PADD and began to type. “There’s this one leather jacket that I like. It’s black, sort of weathered.” She handed the PADD to Heriah. “I want to get it and put Crow on the back.”

Heriah took the PADD and eyed the displayed image. “Same with me regarding that girl talk. I used to be all about shoes and makeup and fashion and the like.” She turned her attention back to Rey. “But, now that I…”

‘…am joined with me…’

“…am a bit wiser…my girl talk encompasses weapons, fighting techniques, how fashion today is highly restrictive in battle.” Heriah pointed her attention back to the PADD. “I like that, but would prefer a more brownish tone to leather. Perhaps with a pair of Thai Dha’s crossing each other on the back.” She handed the PADD back to Rey.

Rey took the PADD back and stuck it on her hip belt, then looked at the curtains again. She saw a dinosaur eating a ship and smiled. “I don’t do small talk either. What’s the point, right? If the weather sucks, it sucks. We both know it. Why bother wasting air on it?”

Heriah sat back in her chair and called forth a saying that has stuck with her and defined her since the day she heard it. “There is a saying. I do not know who said it or when, but it sounds pretty universal. ‘Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people and things.’ To me that is what sets you apart from most. That is why you do not engage in ‘girl talk’. That is why people like to use insulting labels on you. It is because you have a great mind…and they all have small minds. But you have been surrounded so long by the small-minded with their ideas that having a great mind is somehow a bad thing and therefore subject to ridicule that your great mind has not been able to flourish and garner the respect it deserves. Surrounded so long by the small-minded that you automatically expect everyone to have a small mind and therefore isolate yourself and actively attempt to avoid conversation. Because the small-minded want to talk about people and things; that one person who cannot relate to anyone else and is somehow ‘special’, the makeup on sale in the shops, things like that. When you might want to talk about a breakthrough in anti-matter containment technology, warp theory…”Rey shrugged at the complement and fidgeted on the couch. She grabbed at a strand of hair that wasn’t there. “I don’t know about smart, but I can take apart an engine. It just always came naturally.” She turned toward the curtains again and realized she had run out of patterns then bit at her lower lip. “It’s like … when someone asks about my day, I’m supposed to say, ‘fine’ whether or not I am fine, though most of the time I’m not. I mean, why bother, y’know? There’s all these little social rules we’re supposed to follow, but it’s all bullshit and we all know it’s bullshit. That makes no damn sense. Say what you’re going to say — I mean, this whole two girls talking, it’s nice and all, but you still have a job, right? You still need to get in my head.”

For a moment, as she looked up, Ford made eye contact with Heriah, though not for any specific reason. It simply happened. She hated that ‘sensory overload’ feeling.

Rey stood from the sofa and walked around the room. She didn’t know what to talk about, but something did pull at her curiosity.

“So, what’s with the swords?”

Heriah was wondering exactly which of the bladed weapons Rey was referring to but turned in her seat and regarded the pair of swords hanging above her bed, crossing each other. Standing and slowly stepping about the place along with Rey, “those are a pair of Thai Dha’s. You recall me mentioning them a moment ago. They are an oftentimes prefer weapon of choice for  practitioners. Krabi Krabong is a dual wield weaponized form of Earth martial arts. The style became one of much interest to the Trill, especially the Joined Trill as we see it symbolizing the dual nature of Joined Trill. The joining with a symbiont forms a cohesive and unified being. Two swords, so to speak, used in unison for a single purpose.”

“One of Rex’s previous hosts was a blade enthusiast,” Heriah decided to explain. She put a hand on her chin, rubbing it as she thought. “I surmise your weapon of choice might be the katana. Ready at a second’s notice, especially lethal in close quarters, easily recognizable from far away and able to ward off would-be predators and, if wielded with precision, you’ve no need of a shield or armor.”

Rey shook her head. “I’m too clumsy for a katana. I used to have a shock baton. It drops people, but keeps them alive in case you need them later and because why kill if you don’t have to.” She liked the idea of the Thai Dha and the dual symbolism. “And that suits you, because you have somebody in your stomach, fucking with your mind, but you keep them alive and all that history. I used to not think much on that shit, until Charlotte. She told me why we should remember history and culture and shit. I get that and you’re cool for doing what you do, but me …”

She trailed off for a moment. “I’m nothing.” Rey was quiet. She could feel Heriah behind her. “You know what?” Rey spun around. “You really want to know me? Then let’s ditch this place and go get fucked up. I know where we can get some tequila shots and not that sinthehol crap. What do you say?”

There was a few things Heriah wanted to correct Rey on and she had a few questions to ask, some ground to cover but decided this new turn of events might actually prove beneficial and even enlightening. “Let me get into something else other than what remains of this uniform,” she said, “and I say let’s do it.”

 Rey fixated on the weapons while Heriah went to change. She imagined herself with a katana and it gave her a laugh, but such a weapon was too elegant for her. 

“Ready,” Rey said as Heriah finished changing. “I know a dive that’s a bit off the beaten path. I mean, it’s a dive for this station, which means it’s still pretty nice. Not like the shitholes I’m used to.”

It scared the cadet a little to go off her routine, as Spontaneity was rare in her life. It  surprised her that Heriah went along with the idea. That made Rey like the Counselor even more and trust her even less.

Comments

  • Loving the introduction of this dynamic. Both girls seem to have very different pasts while also sharing similarities in a few areas. Some thought-provoking topics are touched on throughout the conversation and I really enjoy Rex's short asides with his host. Although they both seem to hit it off on the surface, there is still an indication of underlying tension that leaves the future of their relationship uncertain. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

    May 30, 2022