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Why put off until tomorrow...

Posted on Tue Oct 5th, 2021 @ 10:34pm by Lieutenant JG Orin Sempton & Lieutenant JG Coen Zacci

Mission: A Day In The Life
Location: Archaeology Lab
2729 words - 5.5 OF Standard Post Measure

An alert chimed in Orin's ear jolting him awake.

"Wha-?" Bleary eyed, one hand reached out looking for his glasses while the other made an attempt to silence the offending noise. He found the glasses and placed them in their appropriate position, blinking a few times till everything came back into focus. He was in his office, having fallen asleep at his desk. The noise was coming from the computer, an alert for him to schedule his primary counseling session.

"Computer, reset alert, one week."

'Unable to comply, Alert has been reset thirty times.'

"Ugh..." Orin grumbled. He hadn't realized he'd been putting off the visit for that long. With everything that kept happening, he just hadn't had time. No, that was a lie. He didn't like the probing questions into his psyche, especially after the Bliss incident. "Fine, Computer, where is the Councilor?"

'Councelor Zacci is currently located in his office.'

"Locate Counselor's office."

'Counselor's office is on Deck 8.'

Orin rubbed his eyes. "Fine, lets get this over with."


A turbolift ride, getting turned around twice and a few questions later, Orin stood outside the Counselor's office. His hand reached out and hovered by the chime for a few seconds, until with a few deep breaths to calm himself, he pushed the button.

Coen had been busy sorting his office, trying to make it feel comfortable and like a home away from home, plants, book cases, trinkets from his travels and items from his Napien heritage. He was just lugging a rather large bookcase into place when the chime had sounded.
"Come on in!" he called instantly reaching out with his empathic senses and reading the uneasy feeling coming from the person on the other side.

With a woosh, the doors parted and Orin stepped in. "Ensig- No, L-lieutenant junior grade Orin Sempton, here for..." He trailed off seeing the Counselor holding a bookcase. "S-sir, do you need some help with that?"

"Yes and no need to call me sir... we are the same rank! I'm Coen... over there!"
The last couple of words coming at as a whisper as the weight of the bookcase had started to get the better of him and he was running out of breath!

Orin ran over and grabbed the case, acting as counter balance. Taking the extra weight, the two men were able to maneuver it into place.

Leaning against the bookcase trying to catch his breath for a moment before righting his posture to look at his would be helper.
"Thank you for the timely assist. Counselor Coen Zacci" extended his hand in greeting as he introduced himself.

Looking down to the proffered hand, Orin took a second before reaching out and shaking. "Orin Sempton, Xenoarchaeologist. I-I'm uh..." He flushed a bit, "I'm, uh, here for my primary counseling session, which I've yet to complete, due to... Well, everything."

"Initial reporting in assessment or patient meeting?" Coen asked somewhat tentatively. "I've not had chance to really go through the medical files yet and appointment calendar yet!"
Feeling somewhat sheepish at his own lack of knowledge but in his defence only a day or so had passed since stepping foot on board. Once the office was set he would be turning to the files and scheduling in appointments for most of the senior officers most likely.

"...Initial assessment. I apologize, for the timing." Orin replied. "With everything else that's happened since I boarded, there never seemed time enough to get it done." He lifted his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "No, that's not true. There has been time, just no desire."

"Well I just arrived so I'm not fully up to speed on recent goings on. As for your initial assessment, I won't bore you with the usual probing questions but I will expect honesty from you... I am Napien so Empathic... How are you feeling and is there anything you need to report to me?"
Coen moved away from the bookcase taking a seat behind his desk motioning for Orin to sit opposite.

Orin sat with a nod. "I've never understood the use of lying to people. Well, not true, I understand the use for bargaining and diplomacy, but never for minor mundane problems. Even without your Empathic abilities, it's easy to read and interpret body language if you know what to look for, which I postulate, as councilor, you do." He looked up to the ceiling, in an attempt to condense the myriad of thoughts spinning around in his brain. "As to how I am feeling, I am tired and sore, as sleeping at ones desk is sub-optimal. But mentally, aside from my phobia of shuttlecraft and my inability to understand today's societal norms, I am alright." He shifted in his seat to calm the pain in his lower back. "And with all honesty, there is nothing to report that I can currently think of, though I may find something once I adjust my thought processes away from work."

"OK..." so many things assaulted Coen with the Lieutenants opening gambits that he was not entirely sure where to start. In the end he chose the obvious one, the one that could be the root for any number of other challenges. "Could you explain a little more what you meant about not understanding today's societal norms?"
'One thing at a time Coen' he gently told himself now wondering if he was about to open another can of worms as he had with Doctor Marlow not so very long ago.

"That one is a fairly deep dive into my childhood Councilor." Orin began, sinking into a monotone used for lectures. "My father is a Terran archaeologist who dragged my mother and I from dig to dig. I was never around children my own age, just books and the workers. Schooling was done via terminal." He waved off any comment that may have been started in the Councilor's mind. "I do not hold animosity to him for that. We repaired that bridge shortly after I was rescued from being MIA for six months on the Bliss planet. But as you well know, a child's mind is shaped by his interactions and surroundings. Mine, was shaped by books of historic nature, expanding this," Orin pointed to his temple. "And my understanding of the varying objects I study today. You could beam me down to any pre-warp technology world and leave me for a year. When you came back to collect me, you'd find me integrated into the culture with no issues." He shrugged. "Them's the breaks, as they say."

"In truth Lieutenant, that sounds like thousands of Starfleet Families... I by no means intend to undermine how it has made you feel or at the very least perceive the world around you however you are not alone in this respect..." Coen trailed off for a moment, knowing that so many threads had been exposed already but which ones to pull on. He decided that perhaps continuing from their present place would be the best course of action.
"Tell me a little more about this missing in action on the Bliss Planet!"

Orin looked down, allowing his hair to cover his eyes, which began to show fear. He began to rub his fingers across the back of one hand to keep from gripping the chair. "T-t-that place..." He paused trying to get the shaking under control, and failing. "W-w-w-was evil. Alive." He looked back up at the counselor, very flushed and beginning to sweat. "I still have n-n-nightmares about it-t-t-t. How the shuttlecraft rent to pieces around us." He squeezed his eyes tightly shut, hearing the scream of the Doctor as she was ripped from her harness and out of the ship. "D-d-doctor was torn free. I could tell she was screaming as she flew past. Higher pitch than the sound of the wind as we broke apart. I don't know how we survived." He paused again to wipe his face with a rag from his labcoat, before looking down at his hands, opening and closing them a few times. "When we woke, we were all different people. The planet's biome emitted a pheromone, effected our minds, made us forget who we were. All but our science officer. Half Romulan, half Vulcan. He was able to resist the effects. Planet kept everyone in a low technology agrarian society. Local town found us unconscious and took us in. Jailed the science officer, tortured him as a heretic." Orin swallowed hard. "Six months. Six months they tortured him while we were living lives. Captain became a farmer, got married and had a kid on the way, Security officer became a watch commander, pilot a caravan supply runner and I became the notary's assistant, as I could read and write multiple languages and learned quickly. And met a girl." A sad smile crossed his face. "Jana. We were just starting to... Six months, Counselor, is a long time. The science officer broke free and found a way to bring us all back to our senses. Severe and sudden pain weakened the effect of the pheromone. Sustained pain broke control." Orin raised his left hand and turned it from palm to rear, showing the white scar tissue in the center of his palm and continuing to the other side. "He jammed a nail through my hand, and twisted. Like waking up from a dream. Soon we woke the rest of the crew, but it didn't matter. The Renegade found us. Apparently as we were crashing, the planet disappeared like it was never there, A natural defense mechanism cloaked the planet from sight and sensors. They were told to break off search after 3 weeks. Second officer was named Captain. Only she never stopped searching. Every bit of free time the ship had after missions was spent examining data. Crew helped any way they could. Took them six months to work up a plan." He looked up at the Coen. "Do you know how cloaking technology works Counselor? Light bends, causing an illusory effect. Selective bending renders EM fields and sensors useless. But fire weapons into that field, and they will hit. Doesn't work on ships because they'll have moved by the time data comes in. Planets can't do that. But what none of us knew, was what the particle beams, even at their lowest intensity, would do to the planet. The planet's own defense mechanism created a lensing effect, magnifying the beams. Each hit bored a hole into the mantle, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The sudden increase in heat, coupled with the lensing of the beams began to bake the planet. The biosphere couldn't take it. They saved as many as they could Counselor, but we burned the planet to ash. Without the pheromone to maintain the bliss effect, many remembered their past lives, and wished to return home. Others, like Jana, were born on the planet. We parted ways on Starbase Alkalai. Haven't heard from her in... 4 years."

His story was wrenching, possibly one of the hardest the Counselor had heard in his years in Starfleet. He could see why the man was withdrawn and it could even be in part some form of post traumatic stress that until now had been undiagnosed. Had this man even been to see another Counselor before now? In truth that didn't matter now, what did matter was finding a way to help the man. The question became where to begin.

"I can only begin to imagine the suffering you have been through..." Coen paused for a moment, pursing his lips as he considered before he realised, not knowing Orin all to well didn't help but he had a feeling the best approach may be the simplest. "How would you like me to proceed Lieutenant? There are a number of treatments and techniques that we can try to help you... Things like cognitive behavioural therapy, desensitisation and reprocessing therapy... forms of medication to help with low mood... I could try and make contact with Jana and perhaps begin to see if we could reunite the pair of you... if that's something you would like to try... I will leave it in your hands to decide on that score. I do want to see you on a weekly basis going forward so we can continue discussing whats happened and tackle each bit individually. I can do that formally or we can do it more informally... again that choice is yours."

Orin closed his eyes and began to take slow, deep breaths, each measured for a time before exhaling. As the rhythm continued, he began to steady, sitting straighter, muscles unclenching. The perspiration which had been running down his face slowed. When he opened his eyes, little emotion was left. "My apologies." He said, voice even. "After we were rescued, we all spent months undergoing psychiatric evaluation before we were allowed back into active duty. I was taught a version of Wh’ltri, Vulcan meditation. Specifically, Thought over Emotion, Kya'shin. It works rather well, but has some limitations as you can see. While not as visible as this." He rubbed the scar on his hand. "The scar is still present, though doesn't hurt as badly as it once did. Honestly, I haven't thought of the Bliss Planet in a long time, and wasn't expecting that flood of memories. But with all seriousness counselor, there's not much to be done that hasn't already been done. We were all expected to follow through with any plan or treatment they thought necessary at the time. Part of the original treatment process was forgiveness, to ourselves and others hence why my father and I send messages regularly." He gave a sad smile. "Jana hasn't answered a message in four years. I believe that bridge burned like the planet did."

With a blink, the emotion was gone.

"Their other treatment was regular exercise, for the creation of endorphins. For that, I have a number of exercise programs on the holodeck. Recreations of historic battles or one on one combat and competitions of strength and intellect that I believe were called the Olympic Games on Earth. But please understand counselor, I'm not a strong man, just one with a slightly higher than average intelligence. Many of these programs were created to indulge in experimental archaeology and became exercise programs later. the difficulty levels of those programs are adjustable and at their highest setting a blow does less damage than a Klingon Painstik."

"Obviously I cannot force you Orin but I would recommend that we do schedule time... After all you are Human when all is said and done and like my own people the Human body has a fundamental need to process emotional scars differently than a Vulcan would" but he could already see the signs that Orin was shutting down, pushing into the Vulcan meditation he had mentioned. Was there any need to continue when he could see as well as feel that he would get nothing more from the man before him. A man he firmly believed to be in turmoil. "Take some time to think on it. My door is always open!"

Orin nodded. "Maybe it would be for the best..." He scratched his chin, thinking about it. "Perhaps you're right, Sir. Maybe talking would help. Honestly, I still sweat when I see shuttlecraft. I can hear the sound of the metal rending as perfectly as the day it happened." He took the glasses from his face and cleaned them with a cloth procured from his pocket. As he stodd, he made sure to wipe the sweat from his face before placing them back on. "No, you are right, talking has helped. Maybe it will help more." Orin turned to walk out the door, stopping before the sensor triggered it to open, and looking back over his shoulder at Zacci. "Thank you, Sir. I'd forgotten that not all the memories of that place were horrific." With a nod, he stepped forward and out the door.

Coen had turned to grab his calendar PADD but by the time he had turned back to the other man he found the room empty.

"I'll schedule you in for a few days time then!" he said with a touch of sarcasm to no one but himself.



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