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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 12: Redemption and USS Hathaway: Season 3: Prometheus Squadron

CH2: An unexpected delay brings a welcome arrival

Ready Room, Deck 1
Stardate 24011.7 (Jan 7th, 2401); 2000 Hours
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Standing in the transporter room with his hands clasped behind his back, Commander Kauhn couldn’t help but tap his feet in frustration as he waited for the visitor that had been assigned to their vessel at the last minute, putting the brakes on their impending departure for the Typhon Expanse. Details of their visitor had been sketchy, what with the orders coming through at the last minute, so no one truly understood who they were, or what they were doing aboard the ship, but it wouldn’t be long until they found out.

“We’re receiving confirmation from Deep Space Seventeen,” the transporter chief interrupted the XO’s thoughts, “Doctor Ang is ready to beam aboard.”

“Energise when ready, Chief!” the XO nodded, giving clearance to proceed. The name used had not escaped the Trill’s attention, either. A Doctor. A Doctor of what? They’d already accepted and appointed Doctor Torres as the new Chief Medical Officer, so there was no way Starfleet had replaced him already, had they?

The man who would hopefully answer that question coalesced from the glowing swirl of mass and energy, his eyes focused on the folded pair of glasses in his right hand. Tapping them against his left hand as if to confirm he was whole once again, he nodded slightly and hung them on the front of his uniform by one of the ears, then took quick stock of the room before descending from the transporter pad and approaching the XO.

His eyes flickered to the pips on the other man’s uniform as he held out his hand. “Commander Kauhn? I’m Binshou Ang, formerly the attending psychiatrist on the USS Galaxy.”

A brief, firm handshake, and then he swiftly reached down to unclasp the Starfleet arrowhead insignia on his sleek black messenger bag. He withdrew a PADD and handed it to the commander. “I know Starfleet tends to let these details trickle in, so here’s the complete documentation of my assignment.” He glanced at the transporter chief, then back to the commander. “Given the confidentiality concerns around my work, perhaps we could discuss the rest in private?”

Giarvar took ownership of the data PADD and gave it a quick glance before standing aside and gesturing to the doorway. “Captain T’Prynn is waiting for us in her ready room,” the XO explained as they began their stroll to the nearest turbo lift. Whilst they talked, the Trill began to formulate a plan of action now he knew exactly who he was dealing with.

Binshou nodded along and chimed in as necessary as the commander dutifully gave the semi-official welcome wagon rundown–Intrepid class emergency escape routes, open vs. encrypted vs. restricted comm channels–but in the back of his mind, he was playing the “joined or unjoined Trill?” game. Sometimes the name alone was a dead giveaway, but not always. And second joinings were the hardest to guess: first-timers had their own unique quirks, and older symbionts brought a unique gravitas to the host, but those in-between joinings were subtle… as for Commander Giarvar Kauhn, by the time they reached the captain’s ready room, Binshou still couldn’t wager a guess.

Pressing the button on the side of the ready room door panel, the Commander nodded at their guest, then led him into the private office of the ship’s commander. “Captain T’Prynn,” Giarvar called out as they entered, “this is Binshou Ang, formerly the attending psychiatrist on the USS Galaxy,” the XO revealed as much as he knew so he could assist the Captain, nodding to the Vulcan behind the desk.

“It is most agreeable to make your acquaintance Mister Ang,” the sultry Vulcan nodded respectfully, then gestured to the seat opposite her at the desk. “Please,” she proffered, glancing at the XO and authorising his stay.

Giarvar acquiesced and took his usual seat opposite the Captain’s desk, remaining silent until needed.

Binshou nodded and gave the Captain the ta’al salute before taking the offered seat. Once she was also seated, he spoke. “Captain T’Prynn, I’ve been sent here at the Fourth Fleet’s discretion to treat several of your officers formerly of the USS Ulysses due to the particularly shocking manner in which their previous captain was killed in action.”

“Although my interactions with the personnel formerly of Ulysses have been limited,” the Vulcan confided in the man, “it is clear there are issues to be discussed for all of them. Given the limited experience of our counseling department, your assistance is appreciated. If there is anything you require, Commander Kauhn will assist.”

Binshou nodded. “Thank you. I understand my assignment here came last minute, but I don’t have any particular requirements for personal quarters and can double up if necessary. My workstation can be any space that offers privacy and room to converse. Anything else I need I can request from your CMO–or, more properly, your AMO, since your CMO will be one of my patients.”

“As you wish,” the Vulcan nodded slightly. “Our mission will commence shortly. You are free to request the presence of any member of the crew outside of their duty shifts.”

“Much appreciated.” Binshou had never served directly under any Vulcans, and so far he found himself appreciating T’Prynn’s decisive directness. Certainly, Vulcan psychiatric practices were more unique than most in the Federation, but rather than a disdain for his profession he found that most had a pragmatic appreciation for his ability to work with something so unpleasant and volatile as emotions.

“Then my only remaining thought on the matter is the question of whether you’d like to inform your officers of my purpose and assignment here or if you’d prefer I contact them individually myself.”

For the first time in their conversation, the Vulcan passed the buck. “Commander Kauhn is in charge of all personnel-related matters,” she advised their guest, tilting her head to focus on the XO.

“I’ll let the crew know,” Giarvar nodded slowly, before swiftly adding, “but I’ll make it clear to certain individuals that attendance is mandatory. I know some of them will be reticent about their feelings and would, given the opportunity, avoid such conversations like the Tyrellian plague,” the Trill smirked in an effort to lighten the mood somewhat. He was right, of course. Talking with a psychiatrist was about as popular as a deadly illness.“

“I appreciate that, and I’m sure your crew would rather hear it from you even if they’ve only been serving here a short time.” Binshou grinned slightly in acknowledgement of the XO’s attempted levity. It was always his preference that an officer’s own higher-ups give notice of mandatory psychiatric screenings–it made for a less fraught first session–but he rarely insisted on it. Seeing for himself what choice an officer’s superiors would make was useful data.

“Well then.” He turned back towards T’Prynn and gripped the arms of his chair as if ready to stand. “I’ve taken enough of your time, and I don’t want to keep you any longer than necessary during your preparations for departure.”

Rising to her feet, the Captain nodded respectfully to their guest. “Your presence here is welcome, Commander. I predict your stay here to be most intriguing,” she smiled as she gestured for the doorway.

Binshou stood and started to bow–an automatic response still hardwired even after more than a decade away from home–but stopped and turned it into a nod as he returned the Vulcan’s unexpected smile and left the ready room.

Following their guest, Commander Kauhn guided the man past the inevitable hubbub on the bridge and to the safety of the nearest turbo lift. Once the doors were closed, the XO relaxed a little. “She likes you,” he smiled happily.

Binshou laughed, his own smile finally becoming a real expression instead of an affected pleasantry. “I’m glad to hear that, I wasn’t sure about the connotation of ‘intriguing’. Even Vulcans who’ve been working with non-Vulcans for many years can be hard to interpret if you don’t know them. Have you been serving with her for a while?”

Standing at the front of the turbo lift pod, the Commander placed his hands behind his back, clasping them together as a smirk crossed his face and bobbed up and down on the balls of his feet.

“Long enough…” he whispered, letting his carefully chosen words hang in the air as the pod began its descent.

Later, when Binshou was settled into his new quarters, he sat down at his desk and asked the computer to pull up the Starfleet personnel file for Giarvar Kauhn. The riddle he’d started pondering upon his arrival had presented very few clues, but he didn’t want it distracting him from the important work that lay ahead. Might as well cheat and drop the game altogether.

His eyes scanned the document and immediately zeroed in on species info. “Trill/unjoined. Huh. I wouldn’t have guessed…”