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Part of USS Mercy: Mission 3 – “Lost in Space”

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USS Mercy - Counseling Offices
10.14.2400 @ 0700
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Soojin sat in the waiting area.  She’d set her alarm, set out her new uniform, and ensure everything was ready. She’d been out of her quarters by 0645 and sitting in the counseling office by 0655. Finding her way around the USS Mercy had taken a little work, but several helpful crewmen had directed her just in time. She waited for her chief counselor for her first full day of work.

Egrel strode into the counseling area with a cup of tea in one hand and his patient manifest in the other hand. He smiled warmly at Soojin, dipping his head, “Good morning. Are you ready to start?” 

Sam quickly stood, “Ready and ready…and…I meant to say ready and able, but…that didn’t come out right.”  She sighed and nodded, “Ready to start, Lieutenant.”

Egrel glanced down and logged in to the counseling system on his PADD. He furrowed his brow as his appointments got shuffled around, and someone he wasn’t anticipating got shoved to the front and consequently shuffled around all his appointments. He gave a soft huff of irritation, looking up to meet Samantha’s gaze,

Soojin picked up on her chief’s annoyance.  She hoped she wasn’t the reason he was annoyed.  That would be the topper in the last 24 hours.  She ventured with, “Something wrong, sir?”

“Someone moved all the appointments around without my permission.” He sounded mildly cross about this but hid it rather well, smiling once more, “Mild inconvenience, and it just annoys everyone who was booked today as they all got notifications that their slot got moved.”

A silent sigh of relief echoed through her mind.  It wasn’t her.  She stood a little taller, “Who is our first patient, then?

Egrel’s lips twisted into a frown, “The Chief Engineer. She was fine the last I spoke to her.”

Sam felt the urge to frown, “The Chief Engineer?  Why’d she get bumped to the front of the line?”

Egrel sighed and shrugged, “I’d like to know. There isn’t much here. Says an evaluation since it is thought she is unfit for duty.”

“That…sounds odd.”  She picked up her PADD, “Why do you think that happened?”

Egrel shook his head, sighing, “I have no idea, but that kind of thing is medical’s and mine call to make. This was not placed by either.” He sighed and shook his head, a bit cross, but he hid it rather well, “I suppose we will speak to her and find out. She should be here any moment now.”

Neva strode purposely into the Counseling Office, hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. She tried to show a calm and collected air, but it didn’t work. She was STILL pissed over what happened, not to mention humiliated.

“Hi, I’m Lieutenant Nevanthi Cordon. I believe I’m expected.”  Her tone was clipped, correct, and without emotion. 

Soojin’s eyes went wide, and she reddened at her unprofessional display.  There was so much emotion roiling out from Cordon despite her placid exterior.  Sam swallowed her embarrassment and glanced dutifully to her chief.  She was not about to try and take the lead with just under 12 hours aboard under her belt.

Egrel could feel her coming before she even arrived; the emotions rolling off her were intense and incredibly strong. He was able to see right through her thin mask. He gave her a small, warm smile, “Unexpectedly expected.” He gestures towards Sam, “This is Cadet Soojin; she is shadowing me today.” He moved to a small gathering of armchairs and sat down, gesturing for the others to sit. On his PADD, he pulled up Neva’s file to see if there was any reasoning for this appointment, “Have a seat. What has got you so angry? What would you prefer I address you as?”

Neva took a deep breath to try to calm herself when the Counselor asked about her anger. Of course, the action didn’t work, but there it was. “Call me Neva, Sir,” she answered as she acknowledged the Cadet’s presence. Sitting carefully into the first chair she could find, she sighed and looked at him evenly. “When your rank and abilities are passed over as ‘unfit’ for an important mission, wouldn’t you be angry too, Sir?” 

Soojin took her notes, working to keep her eyes from going wide.  She’d done her share of experiencing troubled patients, and her Academy learning was helping her stay focused on the patient and her chief.  There was so much context missing – she’d heard there was a new captain on the Mercy or that there were two captains…she really wasn’t sure.  “I would find it…highly irregular myself.”  She turned to Choi, hoping for some wisdom.

Egrel furrowed his brow, nodding slowly, “I would be incredibly upset, Neva, more than a little. In what ways were you considered ‘unfit’? I sure as heck didn’t authorize or say that. I’d like to know what happened leading up to that and you ending up in here.” He was missing a lot of context himself and was increasingly irritated people were making calls on the crew’s state and mental health without his authorization. Someone was stepping on his toes as the Chief Counsellor, and he didn’t like it.

Neva closed her eyes, trying not to bite her bottom lip. She took some deep, slow breaths in an effort to calm down again. She swallowed hard and opened her eyes. “Captain Pot…the Guest Captain sent out orders for the mission to the observation facility. She wanted my Assistant Chief to go on the mission instead of me.”

Neva sucked in a breath that stuttered, and she slapped her hands over her mouth. Her eyes were wide with embarrassment. “S…s…sorr-r-y,” she tried to mumble past her hands. Neva scoped the room quickly and found her target, launched up to grab tissues, and sat back down. She pushed one to her eyes for a moment. 

“Sir, I know I’m not your ‘usual’ Chief Engineer.” She looked directly at the  Chief Counselor. “I take my job seriously, Sir. If I don’t keep this Iron Lady in top condition, WE” She swirled her pointer finger in front of her to include him and the Cadet. “We wouldn’t BE here.” She sighed.

“Apparently, my devotion is such that I’m ‘unfit’ to be an away mission member. That I CAN’T be an Engineer or…or…SOMEthing.” She flung her hand up in punctuation of her statement. “I’m just confused…” Neva amended.

Soojin wasn’t sure what to make of the Chief Engineer.  She was right.  She wasn’t the usual.  The cadet wondered just what kind of ship she had been assigned.  She opened her mouth, but wasn’t sure of the words.  She turned to Choi.

Egrel reached a hand out to gently touch her shoulder, trying to exude a calming presence, “Breath calmly, Neva. You have been cleared for duty since you boarded here with me. There has been no need for a re-evaluation.” He sighed softly, frowning, “This guest captain said you weren’t fit for duty? I think I’ll have to have a word with her.”

He let the silence dwell for a moment as he considers his next words, “You haven’t missed any appointments. You’ve been working well with counselors. You haven’t been shirking your duties. We both seem confused.” He dragged a hand down his face and sighed, reaching for his PADD and pulling up Neva’s file, looking it over and nodding slowly, “I know how devoted you are to your job, Neva. I want to clear you for duty again, and I will speak with her about this, alright?”

Soojin’s questions about what kind of a ship she was assigned to were sorta answered as she watched the exchange between the two officers.  There was a camaraderie here that wasn’t much different from the academy classes.  The senior group had grown close in the four years since they’d stepped into the classroom.  She was starting to understand why she’d been assigned to the Mercy.  She made notes on her PADD, wondering just who in the world this Captain Pottinger was and how she’d had so much effect in such little time.

Neva put her hand on his, tapping it twice with flat fingers before dropping hers again. She closed her eyes and took some slow deep breaths, her posture relaxing bit by bit. She opened them to see the Counselor wipe his hand down his face, and gave a commiserating smile.  “Thank you, Sir. I really appreciate this!” Her grin turned to genuine happiness as she stood once more. With a nod to both the Counselor and the Cadet in turn, Neva got up from the chair. “I’m going to go back to Engineering then.” She gave a quick “excuse me” and disappeared out the doors.