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Part of Starbase Bravo: Sundered Wings and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

A Scheduled Follow-up

Starbase Bravo
May 2400
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Cynndle sighed as he stepped off the turbo lift after a long day overseeing the station intake of refugees from the star empire. “Who would have thought the collapsed of an interstellar empire would have such a knock-on effect…” he said as he think how comfortable his bed in his quarters would be right now but it was not meant to be. After several weeks of cross-training on the doctor’s orders, he was seeing Heriah again for another session.

‘Should be an interesting session, have to admit the first one went well. Can not really count the holodeck or the random coffee as a session but got to know her more so that’s good. Seems like a good person…but there is something more there…not sure what though…’ he thinks as he walks down the corridor walking past several other officers and civilians. Turning the corner he spots her door and walks up hitting the buzzer.

“No one’s in there,” Heriah said as she stepped up. She had been, in the previous several seconds combatting the urge to sneak up from behind and scared him, but, though the thought was funny, she was just not up to doing that. “I’m not late, am I? Just got done with another shift of making impromptu house calls among the refugees.”

Cynndle smiles as he sees Heriah approach. “Well, maybe a few minutes” he responds with a slight laugh clearly pulling her leg. He takes a step back to let her access her quarter, “How are the house calls going? I know they have been through a lot, seeing them when they come off the transports really puts things in perspective.”

“It certainly does,” she replied. “Just hearing what these people have gone through, sometimes just to get here, it staggering. I hear a lot of the same thing and…”

‘It is rather quite numbing, hearing these freeloaders…’

“…and I cannot help but to want to do all I can. Figuring out what that is though…” and Heriah could only shake her head. “But they are here and they are safe. For now, that is what matters.”

She stepped into proximity of her door and it slid open. Heriah stepped to the side with, “you first.”

“Thanks,” he says with a quick nod and steps inside and quickly surveys the room.

Inside, Heriah’s quarters were not exactly squared away but it was not a mess either. The pair of Thai Dhas, normally hanging over her bed were resting upon the table where her black and red Trill lilacs resided in their twin vase. A well used Starfleet issued PT uniform was splayed out on her bed. And the bed was not even properly made, as per Starfleet Basic Training standards that is.

“Why Ensign! Do you always leave your quarters in such a disorganized state” Cynndle says with mock shock.

“Oh,” she said with a laugh, “I would like to see your quarters.” Heriah quickly decided to add, “after you have pulled long shifts, with an enormous workload…that is.”

“You got me there” he responses with a laugh.

“So, not sure how the second session is meant to go Heriah. Shall I take a seat?” He says as he moves over to the tables and examines the Trill lilacs; “You know I didn’t take the time to smell these before, they are very nice. I see why you have them as a centrepiece.”

She watched as he bent down to sniff at the lilacs. “It is a tradition for Joined Trills to pick two lilacs of different colors and scents. It is symbolical of the union between host and symbiont. You see, the Trill lilac grows in many different colors and each has a different scent. They can also be interbred to form new and custom colors and scents.” Heriah chose red and black as the colors to represent her and Rex. “Together they can be seen as their separate colors but the scents of each merge into something unique.”

“Not every day you learn something new about botany, the possibilities within their pairing must be substantial. So which one is for Heriah and for Rex? And is the black natural? It’s not a colour often seen on flowers, at least ones I am familiar with.” Cynndle says without turning away from the flowers.

“The black lilac is a double-hybrid of the blue and red lilacs. Of course that produces a purple lilac. ‘Double-hybrid’ means you keep hybridizing; adding reds and blues to the cross pollination process until it eventually grows black. That one,” she lightly touched the black lilac, “symbolizes Rex as he has seen and is the product of many hosts…”

‘…and my heart is black. My thoughts…’

“And this one,” she touched the red, “grows naturally and without hybridity. It symbolizes me.”

‘…and is also the color of blood.’

“The black lilac puts out a scent that many would claim brings forth an array of emotions and feelings, mostly because it smells like many different things. The red, however, has a specifically sweet smell that is said to balance out the chaotic sensations of the prior.”

Cocking his head slightly to the side Cynndle thinks on that for a second. “I can see that. The smell of the black reminded me of events that got my adrenaline going…both the good and bad were almost overpowering though the red as you said is sweet, relaxing almost.” Pausing for a moment he walks around the table slowly looking at the flowers and the pair of Thai Dhas. “I guess I can understand the Black for Rex. All those lives and experiences I can only imagine that it could be chaotic if one chooses to describe it in such a way…” stoping he realizes that he was asking things that might be a bit personal and that this might not be the right setting. “Sorry if that was a bit too personal I know that the relationship with the symbiont and host isn’t really talked about much and this is a counselling session…”

“Outside of our sessions, I would be happy to talk about that. As you surmise, it is oftentimes personal but I do not mind sharing that with acquaintances.” Heriah motioned toward the chair nearest him, “Please sit,” as it looked as though he had been standing for the bulk of the day. “Or stand. You can slowly pace about the room if you prefer. As I said before, I am here for you. You are here for you. We are all here for you.”

‘Can you please come up with a new phrase?’

“Our meeting can play out however you like.”

“I am glad to have the options I guess,” he says with a shrug before sitting down in the chair and leans back, “Mine as well sit, I have been on my feet for hours.”

“Yes, I’ve heard a little bit about some damaged power relays,” Heriah said as she claimed a chair across from him, “disabled conduits and the like. Still having issues with someone being naughty?”

With that Cynndle let out an exasperated sigh, “Honestly it is being a real headache. I am 95% sure now that it is a gang of kids, well, teenagers who are doing it to mess around but every time I get close to ID’ing a pattern several outliers appear which throws it all off. It is concerning as I am pretty sure they were involved, either directly with it or told someone how to mess with the power and circuitry thus scrambling the internal sensors when Longfellow was attacked. Just really need to get to the bottom of it. But I am closing in. That’s it in a nutshell really.”

Heriah thought shortly on it. Rex’s memories from his time with Luftine provided her with a few theories; a coincidental happenstance where destructive teenagers are acting alongside a real criminal, teenagers being coerced by said criminal in an attempt to cover his own tracks or a an industrious criminal with various MOs to throw off investigation.

Heriah grabbed her PADD and called up Cynndle’s file. “I see you have been cross training. How is that working out for you?”

Nodding at the comment, “Yeah, I have done rotations in the dockyards, security, engineer and maintenance. It has been helpful to get a different perspective on the work within the station and to also met the staff. I know there is no instant fix but I am definitely feeling like my old self. I also properly unpacked my quarters right after our last session. Figured that would help me settle in.”

“Do know this,” she said, punctuating a little sincerity in her voice, “once you work into a routine, and yes you can work into a cross training routine, as the work comes more naturally, you may find your mind focusing back on what it is you have been struggling with. It is perfectly natural and do not attempt to resist unless your work demands your full attention. As you have been able to free yourself of this burden for some time, as it returns, and as your thoughts and memories have had a chance to settle, you will better see that you did all you could, that all, those that survived as well as those who were lost, would want you to carry on and continue being the best version of yourself. The loss will never go away, but the pain…the pain will be greatly lessened.

“I appreciate that, when I think back to the Dawnbringer and my colleagues the pain of their loss is still there. I will admit I try not to think on it and still am keeping myself busy but I am trying to make time for myself and such.”

“Well, these are things that you do need to think on,” she said, “in the stead of avoid the thoughts. Yes, you should keep your work before you and your priorities in order. Try not to dwell on these thoughts when they crop up at inopportune times. Do try to make time for these thoughts however. It is like making time for friends and company. Only this company will all be in your head. Gut reactions,” she said with a small laugh, “say this is kind of crazy but this is actually very natural and very healthy.”

Cynndle looks at her, his hands together and chin resting on his outstretched pointer fingers. “A part of me does think that sounds a bit, well nuts, they are gone….but I get what you are saying I think. I have to process the loss and the associated feelings. Not thinking about it or dwelling on it running from them, did I get that right?”

Heriah gave a nod and a reassuring smile.

“It’s not that I don’t want to address this, it’s just, well difficult.  I have never been over great at processing my feelings, so I have been told by several people…” he pauses leaving that hanging for a few moments as he leans back in the chair and looks at the ceilings… ”a fault apparently I have.”

“Humans do not have the zhian’tara.” Heriah shrugged awkwardly. “It’s a Trill practice. What I mean by this is…for you to process feelings and to deal with memories…you have to force yourself, you have to call the memories forth. It is through sheer force of will that you do this thing. For the Trill…and the zhian’tara…we start a ritual and everything happens, but not through will. That is an advantage I think humans have on us Trill.”

“There is a book I would like for you to read,” the idea suddenly exploded in Heriah’s mind. “My counselor at the Academy,” she said without thought but decided to explain no further, “yes, I had a counselor. It was mandatory for the course,” was all the explanation she decided to offer. “He wanted me to read Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. It is a story about a guy dealing with the memory of an event from something called World War II. All the other events in his life he is transported, through time, to and has to deal with them because he is forced to. The final event though, he does not transport to. He thinks deeply about, calls the memory forth, and follows its natural course to completion. The book was an eye opener for me and I think it could prove beneficial to you.”

“I believe I have heard of that book. My father was a bit of a historian by hobby and was really interested in the historical conflicts on Earth and I think he may have mentioned it once long ago. I will download a copy and have a read through, as you said it could be of use.” he says with a nod.

“And, I want you to attempt something,” Heriah continued, “and this does take practice as all things do. Tonight or when you have the time, I want you to meditate. Light a candle if that helps or play music at low volume if that helps. Whatever helps you meditate, do it. But do not try to clear your mind. Silencing your mind and your thoughts is not the goal here. Controlling your thoughts is. Dwell on a thought and hold on to it and work it out to its logical conclusion. If you struggle with whether or not one of your lost comrades would be cross with you for letting him die, recall his character, your interactions with him, have that conversation, play the thought out to its conclusion and see.”

“I can definitely give it a go. I have meditated in the past and found that it has helped to focus my thoughts and to centre myself though I haven’t done it for a while. This would be the first time where I don’t try to clear my head.”  He remarks.

“Because, clearing your head…” she thought shortly on an analogy, “…think of it like a religious exorcism.”

‘Yeah, like the end of the zhian’tara.’

“The evil forces will not go away unless you call on them by name.”

‘So, we’re evil forces now.’

‘Stop it.’

“This is not to say that your memories are evil forces, no. But you do have to briefly think about said memory in your attempt to send it away and clear your mind.” She was shaking her head. “No. In this case, you are not clearing your mind. You are simply giving the thought you want to dwell upon a louder voice.

‘REFKIN!’

Heriah looked over at her nightstand and the hypospray with a dosage of benzocyatizine.

‘Oh there it is. You want it, don’t you?’

“All the other thoughts,” she returned her attention back to Cynndle immediately and carried on, “are drowned out and you meditate on that. So, no, not clearing your mind.”

Thinking about what she said he purses his lips as he processes it. He noticed her glance to the nightstand and couldn’t help but glance himself seeing the hypospray there.

“I will see about giving it a go tonight and focus on not clearing my head of these thoughts and see where it takes me. Hopefully, next time you see me I won’t be a raving madman haunted by the spectres of my past…” He says with a jest before deflating slight, “Possibility a poor time to joke, eh?”

“No, um…not at all.”

‘Now wait until people see you as a raving mad-woman haunted by the specters of OUR past.’

“Just, more for me to put in my notes,” and she tapped away at her PADD. “And I am making it a point that you meant that as a joke,” she finished tapping.

“Oh,” Heriah had one more thing, “I know your homework is already reading a book and meditating, but this next thing is far simpler.” She thought back to his details from their last session, the notes she had in his file. “During our last session you mentioned wanting to ask a girl out to a dance but never did, mostly through the fear of rejection. The next time you find yourself wanting to ask someone to a dance, a movie, dinner, date, what have you…I know you would rather avoid rejection but it is clear that never knowing is a far worse fate than rejection…just ask that question. I think you will find a pleasant surprise awaiting you.”

A confused look briefly flashes across Cynndle’s face followed by a quick blush as he straightens up in the chair. “Oh, well. I’m, thanks Heriah. I hadn’t really been thinking about that” he says breaking eye contact and looking down momentarily before looking back to Heriah. “I will, ah, I guess keep that in mind.”

“Good,” she taps at her PADD to send it to standby and sets it down. “In the meantime, you should continue cross training but I do think your time in Ops may, at times, end up taking priority…with the crisis summit going on and all.”

“I guess I have a lot to think on…. tonight” he continues.

“As time allows,” Heriah interjected. “We can speed up physical healing with dermal regenerators but it is the mental and emotional healing that we cannot seem to speed up. So, don’t try to tackle it all tonight. Give yourself a day or take up only one to kick things off.”

“That makes sense. Meditation, a new book and tracking down and date all in one night after a long and, well, exhausting, day would be a fair amount.”  He tilts his head back to the ceiling for several long moments before looking back and smiling. “Maybe the book. Easy enough to read. Think I need to be a little bit more clear-headed for this meditation. Will see how I am feeling tomorrow. Another long day I suspect, not that I need to tell you.”

“No you do not,” she said as she stood with him. As they slowly made their way to her door, “I suspect this Crisis Summit on top of the influx of civilians and refugees will have both our plates full for a while to come.” They approached the door and it slid open. “Just find a time when you are free and schedule another session. I will certainly try to clear that block. After duty hours if need be.”

Heriah and Cynndle exchanged the usual pleasantries and goodbyes. Seeing the first indication that he was turning to start away, Heriah was quick to turn, even before the door had slid to a close, and started toward her bed reaching for the hypospray on her nightstand.

Cynndle starts to turn to leave but pauses realizing he had one final question and turns back to Heriah but sees her already back by her nightstand reaching for the hypospray just as the door finishes closing.

Having been taking daily doses of the benzocyatizine on the regular, Heriah had forgotten to put it away this time. Alone, in her quarters, with the door closed sealing her from the rest of the starbase, she sat on her bed; did not even move the PT uniform. Snatching up the hypospray, and after pressing it to her arm and releasing a dosage into her system, she looked at it, pressed a few buttons and pressed it against her arm again sending forth a second dose.

‘Wonder that is about – Hope she is ok; she seemed a bit off at points’ he thinks to himself before shaking his head ‘and what would I know of her being “off”, I have only spoken to her a couple of times outside of these sessions….’ 

Comments

  • Great to see so much character work showing up here—I think counseling characters are great for that, they can provide both writers a chance to do a lot of character exploration through a setting like a counseling session (where diving deep into the mind is the whole point, lol). There was a good sense of the sort of genuine exploration that takes place during counseling sessions, as well as some good drama hooks that are now ready for future pieces (from the gang of kids, to Cynndle's past haunting him, to Heriah's apparent drug habit and symbiont issue). Lots of stuff happening here, but I was invested the whole way through.

    June 6, 2022
  • Hoooboy! As a reader, it's satisfying to soak in the dramatic tension of Cynddle gradually sensing some of the upheaval we readers have been observing from Rex within Heriah. Doubling down on all that with red and black adrenaline flowers is all the more delightful. I'm intrigued by this ongoing plotline about youths committing sabotage on Starbase Bravo. (What is happening? Is it Rex putting Heriah in a fugue and sneaking around in a wig??) As for Cynndle's journey, it's gratifying to read about him finding some relief through routine. I really appreciate the follow-through of this plot line, to see Heriah's impact on his recovery. My nerd brain also really loved the application the learnings of the zhian’tara to a more human experience and practice.

    June 8, 2022