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Counselling Woes

Posted on Tue Oct 31st, 2023 @ 6:29pm by Cadet Senior Grade Bellona Juventus & Cadet Sophomore Grade Aenardha Sh'vastarth

1,530 words; about a 8 minute read

Mission: 1 - Cruising through the galaxy
Location: Counsellor's Office, USS Stardancer

There was one thing that Bellona dreaded about ship life: the psychiatric assessments. Medical checkups she could do; most doctors were kind enough to make their scans as expedient as possible and let her go back to duty. Counsellors, on the other hand, took their time asking her questions she did not like to answer, and then asking her why she didn't want to answer those questions. A few of the less sensitive ones were utterly blunt with their observations and left her feeling icky afterward. She only hoped that counsellor Harrison would be different to her fully trained counterparts. She rang the doorbell and waited to be asked to enter.

Aenardha was still trying to get used to the office. First, Naltar Jerane was reassigned thus making her the acting head of Operations. And now, Noxi, the ship's counselor was called away to be reassigned. And seeing as how someone caught word that Aenardha had done some years of training as a she was about to pull double duty; acting Chief of Ops, and ship's counselor as needed. Aenardha was feeling about the place and getting her bearings. Without any counseling support, there was no one around for her to utilize public vision to see. So, she used her hands and made do. The room was more or less how she pictured it in her head. Then again, she hoped this position was only temporary. Still, she wanted it to speak to others and make them feel comfortable.

She was just fluffing some pillows and placing them on the sofa when the chimed sounded. Aneardha stood erect, stepped around the coffee table and toward the door. "Enter," she said. And as the door slid open invitingly, Aenardha utilized the arrival's vision. She quickly identified the vision as being human, but somehow off just a bit as though a human separated from Earth for a long, long time, generations removed perhaps. Then Aenardha rememberred. "Cadet Bellona."

Bellona's brow lifted in confusion. The girl that greeted her beyond the door was most certainly not Bajoran. "Cadet Aenardha." She said, tonelessly. "I- I was expecting counsellor Harrison to see me. Will you be filling her place?"

"Not for long I hope," Aenardha replied. "Cadet Harrison was called away for reassignment. Since a ship's counselor is not absolutely mandatory, the Academy did not see fit, at least not yet, to send us another. As I have some training in counseling I was asked to act as such for the time being."

Aenardha admitted, though internally to herself, that she found the Magna Romani an exceptional race. They appeared as though an embodiment of Klingon honor with a duty-bound mettle to match, mixed with the discipline and loyalty of a Vulcan, all contained in a human far and long removed from Earth. But she did not let her fascination show just yet. "Is there something I can assist you with?"

"I was instructed to report to the counselling offices for a mandatory psychiatric assessment." Bellona stepped into the room, a little gingerly, and sat down with her arms folded. "If you have the time. I would not wish to keep you from a patient arriving shortly." And then she could get out of there and go back to work, she declined to add. She didn't like being in this office any more than most of her fellow cadets did - hopefully Aenardha would be kind enough to do her the privilege of making the process quick.

"Well," Aenardha started as she took her seat and grabbed her PADD; her fingers danced across the braille screen. She looked at herself through Bellona's vision as she called up Bellona's profile. "It certainly seems as though you have been pranked by someone's shenanigans." The braille on the screen shifted and her fingers felt across the screen again; each finger reading a different line. Aenardha took in all the information without fault regardless. "You see, the Mandatory Psychiatric Assessment is just a myth, something someone came up with to prank other cadets. Such an assessment is required for combat operations, long term away missions, and the like, but not required for ships."

For the briefest one or two seconds a look that was a mix of confusion and anger manifested itself on Bellona's features. An instructor hand given her those orders. Something something make sure you're fit to work and all. She was fit to serve and she knew it. Her instructors all knew it. The fact that it could've been one elaborate prank irked her a little, in fact. Why waste time on that when there were more important things to do? "Then my visit here has been a waste of my time.' Bellona declared as she stood and prepared to leave.

"The assessment we have on you," Aenardha continued before Bellona could stand and storm out, "is only what is already in your service record, background check, progress evaluations, and any counseling statements." Aenardha's fingers glided over the braille. She took in four lines for information at a time; read an entire page in a span of a few seconds before swiping to the next. "I see you are regarded as duty-bound. That is honorable. Disciplined, physically fit with a painstaking determination to remain thus. Your background check shows that you managed to escape from Magna Roma. Is that accurate?"

Oh, for the sake of Jupiter. Bellona suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and sigh. Fine. She would indulge Aenardha a while, she decided, if it meant getting the Aenar off her tail. "I escaped my previous life on Magna Roma, not Magna Roma itself. Life there is comparable to that of Earth, if not for some obvious differences." She responded, somewhat flintily. "Before I joined Starfleet I was a gladiatrix. I believe that too should be in my written record. You might still find holoposters of me from civilian records if you look. What I escaped was a part of that life I would wish on no one." Please, by Minerva's blessing leave it there, she prayed. She had no plans to divulge details this evening.

"Yes," said Aenardha, "I am seeing some of that. I must admit that, based on the information granted to me, I've only one question for you." Her fingers went across the screen a few more times then stopped. Aenardha looked at herself through Ballona's vison, ensuring herself that she was looking the gladiatrix in the eye. "How well do you trust others?"

"I trust that they will work with me as colleagues and comrades. I trust that we will put our differences aside when the need arises. I trust that we are united in purpose and dedication to our given duties." Like some of her classmates weren't, she did not add. "But of course, that is not the type of trust you're looking to hear about, is it?" She met the Aenar in the eyes. Those milky white sightless eyes. What good did being blind do the Aenar as a species, she wondered to herself. "Friendship? Camaraderie? That sort of trust? No. Those are not necessary for me. I am content on my own. My duty is all I need."

"And that is commendable," said Aenardha. "I only asked because I see here that your escape, from that way of life, was with the aid of another. You trusted when you were in need. I cannot speak for everyone aboard this ship but I will say that, when there is a time for need, you have someone before you now who you can count on to do what she can." Aenardha thought she felt a great sense of pride from Bellona; perhaps a sense of never wanting to be in such a situation of need ever again. But she was not actively reaching out telepathically. She was listening to her guy instinct. Aenardha continued with, "and please keep in mind that anything you bring before me, anything you wish to talk about, anything at all, I will not and cannot tell anyone else unless if there is a clear and present danger to this ship and crew. Otherwise, it stays between us and us alone."

"As with every other counsellor." Bellona replied bitterly. "Of course. I shall keep that in mind. Is there anything else you would like to ask of me before I leave?"

Aenardha was shaking her head. "I have nothing else."

"Very well. Goodbye for now, then." Thank the gods for Aenardha and that surprisingly expedient session. Bellona stood and walked out the door, perhaps a bit more aggressively than was strictly necessary.

Aenardha still accessed Bellona's vision as she stepped away, more like stormed toward the door. As per regulation, as soon as Bellona was through that door, Aenardha ceased utilizing her vision and she returned to the dark world of blindness. She sat back in defeat. Her first patient and the experience was not great for either of them. She was not cut out to be counselor. She was also not cut out to be the Ops Chief. Yet, somehow, she found herself as both for the moment.


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