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JP: Flt. Capt. Kells & Lt. Cmdr. Brodie - “Shouldering A Burden”


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I have always said that one of the great advantages of our format (and one of the things I really like to read and aspire to be able to portray one day with my writing) is consequences. Although we write in an episodic way, more or less, what we write affects our characters, polishes them or breaks them and changes their way of seeing the world and relating to others. To witness these two wonderful writers here, dealing with the consequences of the previous mission as the starting gun for a new one is delightful, and I could have read six more parts of it.

@Alex Brodieand @Tony, aka Kells being great here as usual.

Kudos, guys


JP: Flt. Capt. Kells & Lt. Cmdr. Brodie - “Shouldering A Burden”

((Captain’s Ready Room, Deck 1, USS Thor))

Alex had one more stop on his rounds and it was the highest office in the land - or at least the highest office on the ship. He pressed the chime on the outside of the door and waited to be admitted.

Kells: Come in, Counselor.

Brodie had only seen Kells twice since he’d been injured on New Bajor. The first was immediately in the wake of his injuries while he was still convalescing in his biobed and the second was when he had breezed into, and then out of, his office to hand him some more items for his ‘fruit salad’.

The man was due a follow-up as his injuries, even to Alex’s medically untrained eye, had looked quite severe and it was the damage and injuries you couldn’t see that concerned him.

He stepped through the door and found Kells sitting at his desk fighting the greatest enemy of Starfleet and the Federation - admin.

Brodie: Captain, thank you for seeing me.

Aron offered a wan smile. He’d just finished with a round of comm calls, in which he’d assigned teams and tasks ahead of the Thor’s arrival at the ship (if it was a ship) that was apparently in distress (if indeed it was). They had several hours or travel time, so Aron had left himself only half an hour for this appointment. It was meant to be longer than that, but even half an hour felt like a luxury at the moment, even with the travel time.

Going to counseling at all felt a little like a luxury, though Aron tried to dismiss this thought. It was a persistent and untrue belief among captains that counseling wasn’t necessary, but Aron had always tried to instill the opposite in himself and in his officers. Now, more than ever, he tried to cling to that.

Kells: Thank you, Alex. I’m afraid it needs to be short today, in the light of this distress call.

Alex nodded with a frown and gestured back towards the door he had just come through and bridge that lay beyond.

Brodie: Aye, I heard something on those lines as I was walking through - all sounds very mysterious.

Alex couldn’t help but think back to the Fortuna. That had been a very mysterious distress call too...back when he had first joined the fleet. He hoped this would play out slightly better for Salo, Jehe, Udro and other new arrivals to the Thor.

Kells: And speaking of, I’d like you to grab Doctor Quen and Ensign Dar sometime in the next few hours. I don’t know whether we’ll be dealing with refugees or annoyed pirates or broken robots or what, but between the three of you, I think you can handle anything that might need our assistance.

This was a broad order and Aron knew it. At the moment, though, he didn’t think he had anything more to give. He hoped that the science officers on the bridge and his own strat ops team would be able to provide both the counselor’s team and Geoff’s away team with more information as the Thor approached the signal’s point of origin.

Brodie: ::smiling:: So...prepare for everything then? :::Taking a seat:: Although, if it is any of the above three then I’m well practiced. Anyway, we’ve some time before we’re there and I’m sure Geoff can handle anything that might come up in the meantime...so...push ::gesturing to the pile of PADDS:: all that to one side for a moment and take a moment to breathe.

Kells: I know, I know, no work. (beat) Okay. That’s the last I’ll think about it.

That was a lie and they both knew it, but Aron screwed his eyes shut for a moment, hoping that it would be enough to signal to his thoughts that he wanted a brief respite.

Brodie: So, somewhat later than I’d have liked but our respective schedules have kept clashing, but - how are you? ::Eying the PADDS again:: Other than slightly over worked?

The question, much like Kells’ order, was broad. It was one of the hardest questions to answer but it left nothing off the table and it wasn’t as much what was said but how it was said. The body language, the facial expressions as they thought on an answer could give away a great many things.

Kells: (quickly) I’ve been fine. (beat, more normal) You know, the Gratitude Festival helped. It was better to have some downtime.

But even as he said so, Aron’s expression caught for a moment. The Festival had also meant that he had been back down on New Bajor, and although he’d been nowhere near the place where he’d been shot, just beaming down had been enough of a struggle.

The change in expression did not go unnoticed - action units one, four and fifteen...with a few other things thrown in.

Brodie: I’m told it was quite a ceremony...and I’m glad you’ve been able to get a little respite, you have been through a lot. ::He pointed to the man's arm:: How is the shoulder by the way?

Kells: It’s healing as expected. Our medical staff work wonders.

Brodie: ::Nodding:: They certainly do...probably a little lingering stiffness for a while. It’s amazing how much you move your shoulder though the working day.

Brodie knew from his own experience how painful and linering something as, relatively, simple as a stab wound was. He was fairly sure that massive explosive damage would take a little longer.

Kells: I’ve been learning just how much. I had no idea, really.

Brodie: Any other effects? ::Pause:: Obviously everyone reacts to a traumatic event differently - psychologically speaking. Sometimes it’s very obvious - flashbacks, nightmares for example.

Aron started to answer, to say that he hadn’t had any after-effects. But Brodie had given him extreme examples. Aron hadn’t experienced nightmares after this, and he certainly had before.

But that wasn’t exactly what Brodie was asking, and he knew it.

Kells: I haven’t had those (beat) particular symptoms.

Brodie: Other times it can be more subtle...numbing or avoidance tactics…::Glancing at the PADDs again:: Distracting oneself with work to try and restore normality...for example.

Kells: (with a brief smile) Definitely that.

Brodie: ::Smiling slightly himself:: I’m only-half joking...do you feel you’ve been coping well?

Kells: Generally, some difficulty concentrating. Trouble sleeping, sometimes. And I’ve felt either like I have too much or too little energy.

Alex nodded, hyperarousal was another tell-tale sign.

Brodie: Now, I think we both know that’s not quite right.

Again Aron smiled briefly.

Kells: Don’t worry. I’m not going to say I’m fine and dismiss you. But this isn’t my first time in a situation like this, or in dealing with post-traumatic stress.

This was, Aron thought for a moment, its own problem. How upsetting was it that he thought of this sort of fallout as normal for an officer with a long service record? But that was a systemic problem, and one that he couldn’t solve with Brodie in the next twenty minutes.

Kells: I want to continue to work with you, Alex, but you have to trust me, too. I can’t manage without help, but I can manage with help, and that’s where I need you.


Kells: I can still function as this crew’s CO, with the support I need.

Alex leaned forwards in his chair.

Brodie: Aron, ::He deliberately used the man's first name:: if I thought for a single moment that you were not capable of commanding this vessel through a psychological impairment we wouldn’t be having this conversation alone. We would be having it in my office, with Alieth and Geoff present, and I would do my duty and be relieving you of command.

Alex had read the man's file, as much as was available to him without seeking additional clearance, and he was aware that he had been through a great deal throughout his career - particularly his time aboard the Drake and the Mercury. He could tell they must have been bad...if he’d have made a word cloud the latest would be ‘Redacted’.

He’d ask him about it one day...but now wasn’ the time to open up old wounds while the new ones were still healing.

Kells: (quietly) I know.

Brodie: Like I say - we’re not there. I guess what I’m saying is I do trust you...and you need to trust me. We’ve both got your well-being, and that of the crew, at the top of our agenda. I’ll just say - don’t suffer in silence, it isn’t worth it.

Kells: I can promise that I won’t.

Which sounded as though he wouldn’t, but that isn’t what Aron had meant. He appreciated Brodie’s presence, and the fact that he had a staff of counselors at all spoke to the fact that Starfleet valued the mental health of all their officers. Brodie was on the bridge, too, with the rest of the bridge crew and (not incidentally) most of the senior staff, and Aron knew that the placement wasn’t simply coincidental.

Brodie: The door is always open - nothing is too trivial and no hour is too late or too early. Like you say, you need support - and I’m here to provide it.

Kells: I’ll take you up on that. (beat, then seriously) I know that you wouldn’t hesitate to act in the best interest of the crew. I hope that I wouldn’t, either, if I was compromised. But having your assessment is still -- reassuring.

Brodie: ::Alex widened his arms:: Reassurance is just one of the many services we offer down on Deck Ten.

Aron took a deep breath, which he let out in a short sigh.

Kells: As soon as we’ve completed this current mission, I’ll want to meet again, and more frequently.

Brodie: And I’d be happy to oblige, or if not me then one of my colleagues.

He was thinking of Salo although given he was the chief counsellor and any ultimate decision to make changes to a flag officers duty would be scrutinised heavily he would be aiming to manage this one personally.

Kells: Of course. And feel free to shuffle me around to your colleagues. I know you have plenty of other patients.

Aron frowned slightly. Was that the right word? Was he a patient at that moment, and would he no longer be when he and Brodie left the ready room? He wasn’t sure, but he also wasn’t sure what else he might call himself in the moment -- a client, a customer? No, everything else sounded wrong.

Alex had worked in medical care, where they tended to be patients. Research, where they were called participants. Private practice, where they tended to be clients. Alongside FedSec, where they tended to be called convicts….and once at a dabo tournament, where they were called competitors.

Personally he always prefered client. They were availing themselves of his services and he was there to service their needs...a humble servant. Did that make them masters? Counsellee...was that even a word?

He snapped back from whatever thought he was having...Kells appeared to be the same.

Brodie: Well ::Standing up:: I suppose I should track down Deena and Elandra and assemble the continency committee. Rest assured, Captain, we’ll be ready for whatever awaits us.

Kells: (slight smile) I know that, too.

Brodie: As I said, the door is always open.

Kells: I’ll take advantage of it, believe me.

Aron stood as well, and offered his hand. He had been a patient -- or client -- a few moments ago, but with the appointment finished, he needed to become the ship’s CO. He slipped back into the role as if he was donning a comfortable old shirt.

Kells: Keep me apprised of your progress, Commander. If I’m unavailable, Commander Garcia has the conn.

Brodie: Aye Sir, I’ll let you know as soon as preparations are complete.

Although, as he left, he did wonder exactly what they were preparing for.


Simmed By
Fleet Captain Aron Kells
Commanding Officer
USS Thor


Lt. Cmdr. Alexander Brodie
Chief Counselor
USS Thor NCC-82607
Writer ID.: A239005BM0



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