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Lieutenant Maz Rodan & Lieutenant R'Ariel - [JP] Psychoanalyzing Symbionts (Parts 1 and 2)


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(OOC: These were a real joy to read, deeply personal and well written)

 

 

   {{Dreamscape}}

   ((Underwater Survey Vessel - Najana City, Trill))


The setting was incredibly familiar to him. He’d remembered this event many times over the last year and he was confident there was something here which made his current phobia make sense. Aside from the event itself, it was going to be tough to relive.


Maz was standing on the deck of the underwater research vessel which his Second Host - Zosha - was in charge of in 2334. He looked down at himself. He wasn’t in a Starfleet uniform anymore, instead it was a grubby orange overall emblazoned with the symbol of the Najana Oceanic Institute. 


He looked around the corridor looking for others. It was a small vessel, comparable in size to a Starfleet runabout. He was in the large aft crew compartment where the crew used to take their breaks. It was a grey, utilitarian space which didn’t inspire much to the imagination but it served its purpose.


There was no one else present in the aft, but as he turned to explore further, the form of Counselor R’Ariel joined him. She seemed to appear out of nowhere in a flash.


R’Ariel: It’s so amazing down here.


The scene was nothing like she expected.  Everything was so vivid, and real.  She had expected detailed imagery.  Her brief Deltan training and experiences with her little pet RA had taught her to what detail she could see in her mind alone.  However, she could hear too, the digital sounds of the vessel’s computer was most notable.  She could smell things too.


R’Ariel: oO What is that smell? Oo


She sniffed the re-circulated air.  It was faint, but her Deltan-Caitain senses caught it, right away.  Whatever it was, it was unusual or at least for her.


Rodan: Welcome, Counselor. Glad you could make it.


He offered a grin as she inspected their new shared surroundings.


R’Ariel: oO I think it’s… fresh silicon. Oo


Maybe it’s not that unusual afterall she figured - obviously a simple water-tight sealant most likely.  She wasn’t sure if she would have the capability of speaking in these telepathic experiences, but with the smell context clarified, it was worth a try.  It was important for him to know she wasn’t just here, she was here ‘with him’ - it was going to be alright.


R’Ariel: Same here.  I am here, and I will remain so.


She offered an encouraging smile of reassurance.


Rodan: So you’re telepathically linked to Rodan?


R’Ariel: In greater detail than I expected.  These memories are so vivid.


Maz nodded and held his hand up to the metal bulkhead. It felt cold. It seemed real enough. He felt like he was really there.


Rodan: This is 2334. We’re currently under the ocean at Najana City.


She nodded, the majesty of the environment was not lost on her, but their objective was pressing.


R’Ariel: Before we go any further.  I want to reaffirm the ‘safety word’, which is “Lieutenant''.


It was an unusual word, but it had many important implications.  It captured the discipline that was instilled in every Starfleet officer, a kind of training we reverted to, very well conditioned.  It assumed a responsibility and duty.  It embodied authority.  It shouldn’t come up in most casual conversations.  Among many other things, importantly, it had nothing to do with this experience and it was a common truth they both shared.


R’Ariel: I want you to say it, think it, feel it, whenever you need to.


Rodan: I understand.


He thought about that particular word and what it meant. It would be his life line if something went wrong. But something was about to go wrong. And soon.


He turned and followed the narrow corridor to the fore of the ship, the command pod of the vessel where its limited crew would be working. He waved a hand and beckoned R’Ariel to follow him.


R’Ariel: Of course :: sme smiled:: Right here.


The vessel wasn’t that old in years but had already completed dozens of underwater surveys on Trill. Zosha had been lucky to acquire her for her studies at the Institute. The feel of the ship, the smells, all flooded him. Deep down he felt Rodan move slightly. Even in this dream state the Symbiont was reacting.


When they reached the pod Maz pointed to the command chair with a knowing smile.


Rodan: There I am. 


Zosha sat in the command seat wearing the same overused utility overall that the rest of the crew wore. Her long black hair was tied up to avoid getting in her eyes, and her dark skin reflected off the viewing port dead ahead. The ocean depths mirrored her dark eyes back to her as she gazed out in the abyss.


R’Ariel stared for a moment.  She had expected it to feel like she was in an amazing holodeck running a historical program, but the feelings, oh the feelings of the past, the present, the past-future, it was a lot to take in.  She wasn’t sure what to say.


Rodan: Zosha was my Second Host. I have to say this is quite an experience for me. When we’re Joined, we accumulate their memories and experiences. They become ours. But now… I’m actually outside watching them unfold. I remember it, but somehow being here is… weird. We don’t usually have one-to-one communication with our previous Hosts until the Zhian’tara ceremony.


R’Ariel: A valuable opportunity.  You have a wondrous legacy, even in this, to pull uncommon strength.


She smiled, looked at the controls, the view was amazing.

 

Rodan: She was researching the underwater mating habits of a pod of Oka’s. ::Beat.:: Earth-like whales. They don’t usually travel to Najana to breed but over the last few years the same pod had come here and she wanted to research why.


Again, he indicated the ship. A small pod of nine mammals were indicated on the short range sensors, and the ship was in a steady, if cautious, intercept. 


Zosha Rodan: Easy as she goes. We don’t want to scare them.


The helmsman nodded and slowed the pace, while the other members of the craft submitted their scans of the ocean topography and checked the status of the ship. On the view screen, the first of the mammals appeared in visual range. Small, but defined, it glided through the water like a bird on the wind. They even resembled Earth Orca whales, though their fins were longer, and more refined, and had a long thin tail on the end of each making their fins and tails look like beta fish rather than whales.


Maz smiled and rested his forearm on the bulkhead to get a better view. He hadn’t seen one of these creatures since 2334.


R’Ariel: Beautiful.


She gazed in wonder, her tail twitching at the stimulation of the view.  There was a kind of unison the Oka demonstrated as they meandered the ocean-depths.  They had nothing like this on Cait, that she knew of.  As they neared she marveled at their size, her eyes growing wide with wonder.  She was used to feeling small, but typically her small slender frame was big compared to most fish - not this time.  After losing herself in the moment, she collected herself and checked in on Rodan.


R’Ariel: How are you feeling?


Rodan: Nostalgia, I think. It’s quite different being here again, rather than remembering.


She nodded, returning to the view, a curiosity arose in her.


R’Ariel: Do we know anything about how they communicate?


She found herself believing that there was a level of communication these creatures used that went well past the usual oceanic sounds of sonar, something more in her department, wondering if perhaps whatever was about to happen was actually avoidable if this level of communication had been available then.


Rodan: They have a mild form of telepathy, and a bioluminescence system. See the matriarch at the back of the pod? She’s instructing the others to keep the pace. That lovely green…


He’d almost forgotten the excitement of studying these creatures, despite the length of time since he’d done it.


Around them the small crew kept their eyes on their instruments and called out instructions and data to each other as Zosha observed the Oka for visual study. They were on course for a series of subterranean caves; a hidden, private place where the creatures could give birth.


Suddenly, Zosha sat upright in her seat and waved a hand at the helmsman in front of her.


Zosha Rodan: Not so fast! Back us off… easy… easy…


Maz watched the scene like any outsider, as if like a holoprogram he’d played too many times, he knew the story by heart.


The vessel slowed considerably but the damage was already done. The matriarch of the pod had sensed them and considered them a threat. The luminescent colours it displayed changed from a soft green to a harsh orange, which lit the surrounding water fiercely.


Maz held on to the bulkhead in anticipation, and snaked a hand around R’Ariel to steady her. The whale-like mammal struck the vessel with its enormous tail, shuddering it in the water.


Zosha gave emergency instructions to her crew while Maz could only watch and narrate to R’Ariel.


Rodan: We frightened it. It was only defending itself and its pod…


The little Counselor nodded, feeling caught up in the intensity of the moment.  She wanted to do something to help, but she was here for a different kind of help.  The principle here was simple.  Examine and relive the experience in person with greater understanding, with the support of years of experience, and rewrite the trauma, not with a happier ending, but with the strength and courage of greater experience and support.  The unpleasant memory would persist, but the harm would be allowed to heal.


R’Ariel: Right, and the events that follow are natural.


The research vessel attempted to veer its course hard to port, but another crack of the Oka’s flank sent it careering off course. Behind them a bulkhead cracked and caused a strong spray of ocean water to spray into the vessel and begin to flood it. The engineer declared that the structural integrity had been compromised and all hands began emergency procedures.


Engineer: Ma’am, we have to evacuate! 


Zosha: ::Nodding.:: Right. All hands, abandon ship. Get to the life pod in the back!


The crew all left their posts and scrambled for the life pod. Zosha stood to evacuate but another blow from the Oka matriarch knocked her back into her seat. A warning siren sounded from the engineer's console and she scrambled across the small deck to check it.


Rodan: The engine fuel container had ruptured. If it leaked into the cave it would poison the entire system, and the whales would die. 


R’Ariel: That is terrible.


Maz felt his bones start to shake in his body as that familiar fear crept up on him. This was it. He was about to witness the death all over again. He could almost feel the salt water creeping up on him like it did, like it was about to again. He turned away from the scene and began breathing heavily. His hair was damp with sweat.


Rodan: Why couldn’t she just abandon ship like the others? The pod is just through that hatch!?


R’Ariel felt the fear rising, like the tide, the current great in strength, and the undertow threatening.  Taking someone out of the memory, obstructing it, rescuing, that would only reinforce the emotional trauma, and risk worsening the phobia, but she could cheat.  She had gotten better at what she liked to call empathic-back wash.  She could control it better, less risk of the wrong pheromone effect.


R’Ariel: It’s going to be okay.


Panic overtook him now. This was how it ended. Zosha remained on the ship while the crew jettisoned the life pod. She managed to turn the vessel around and proceed out of the cave system as it filled with water. The fuel tank ruptured and the power of the vessel slowly died. The water in the vessel kept rising.


R’Ariel: oO Let me help. Oo


A little pheromone help, a little empathic-back wash.  There was no fixing this tragedy, but taking emotional poison out would allow it to finally heal as it should, the phobia leaving as the healing grew.


Rodan: The crew sent for help. By the time the emergency shuttle got here… 


The Caitian-Deltan was working hard to keep from drowning in the emotional torrent herself.  It was important, very important that she add nothing negative to the experience.


R’Ariel: In other words, Zosha was in full control of her life, making the correct and hard decisions, creating for herself and all that followed a legacy of strength and courage, as she chose a destiny worth remembering.


The words were spoken for now, for the future, it was all that she could do, the scene was coming to an end, it had too, when he was ready.


Rodan: I need to leave! ::He remembered the safety word.:: “Lieu…”


Suddenly, the feeling of dread was too much. His stomach cramped and he felt Rodan tighten and constrict in its pouch. Something was wrong. He fell to his knees in the rising water and grasped the side of his head.

TBC

Lieutenant Maz Rodan

Science Officer

USS Arrow, NCC 69829

C237708DW0

&

Lieutenant R'Ariel

Chief Counselling Officer

Doctor of Psychology

USS Arrow, NCC 69829

J239706R1

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((Deep Space 3 - Main Infirmary; Operating Room 4))

 

Maz’s body shuddered underneath its surgical blanket. He was still unconscious, with Rodan peeking out from the symbiont pouch connected to cortical stimulators and other life-monitoring devices, plugged in like a potato at an elementary school students science project.

 

Around them, alarms and medical machinery bleeped their urgent tones.

 

R’Ariel: Lieutenant!

 

The reality of the real and present world came like a bully at her, obnoxious and with unfair demands in her face.

 

R’Ariel: This is not good!

 

She felt like smacking herself upside of her own head, or maybe pulling her own tail.  Of course it wasn’t good, what kind of a statement was that?  Not very helpful.

 

R’Ariel: oO When were such alarms a good thing?! Oo

 

It was so easy to get caught up in all the emotion, as it were, waves of emotion were flooding her.  She felt weak, and her little head hurt, like it was stuffed with a brain twice its size.  The Starbase medical attendants were frantically responding with reactionary movements.  There was no time to waste, and they needed to get ahead of the crisis, not chase it.  Each of the attending medical staff had their own idea of what to do next, she could feel the chaos mount, she could hear their disunity.  

 

R’Ariel: We need to work together on this.

 

She brought up some of the cardiac biobed functions on the screen, and in a blur of inputs, she put together a command syntax that began an automated cardiac stabilizing process within the biobed.  If someone asked her how to do it, she wasn’t sure she would have a speedy answer, it was something she had picked up in her supplementary cardiac training that most Caitians were being trained in at the Academy, due to the many heart issues Caitians had.

 

R’Ariel: You :: she pointed at one of the attendants that had fallen out of step with the others and into confusion.:: I need you to keep eyes on the vitals, especially the oxygen support.

 

Getting the affirmative she needed, and seeing the pandemonium ease, she knew it still wasn’t enough.  She shoved her standing platform up to the bed near the head, and jumped up, and practically onto her patient.  She told him she wouldn’t leave, that she would be there for him, that THEY would make it through this!

 

R’Ariel: ~What do we do?~

 

The elder Trill stepped out from the shadows and leant over the fragile body of Maz Rodan. A thin, yet strong hand absent-mindedly stroked the white goatee adorning his face.

 

Jareth: ::Tutting to himself:: Oh, that doesn’t look good.

 

The experience was surreal with the sudden arrival of Jareth, and she knew she would spend a lot of time later trying to figure this experience out, but now was not the time to waste on pointless conjecture.  Her tail flicked wildly, her ears back in her most serious manner.

 

R’Ariel: Can you help?

 

His dark brown eyes twinkled with a smile as he crossed his arms across his chest.

 

Jareth: I’d love to help, my dear! The problem is… ::He gestured around himself.:: I’m not really here. There I am.

 

His hand indicated the Symbiont, struggling and twitching against the medical equipment it was attached to, retracting back and forth slowly in and out of the symbiont pouch on Maz’s abdomen.

 

Jareth: I am Rodan. Delighted to meet you at last, R’Ariel. Thought you might need a fresh pair of eyes.

 

She forced a smile to her face, it was genuine, just under a lot of pressure.

 

R’Ariel: Very glad to meet you, we have much to do, though I’m not exactly sure how we are doing this?

 

Jareth offered another kind chuckle.

 

Jareth: The telepathic link is still active, my dear. I am fully aware of your skills. You’ve done remarkably well, but it’s time to do better.

 

R’Ariel: I’m a Counselor first, a Doctor, last.  Tell me what I need to do?

 

Taking a more serious tone, Jareth rose to his full height.

 

Jareth: You can do it. You know how. I know you know how. All it takes is a little self-belief.

 

Maybe now was the time for her to be a Doctor first, and listen to another Counselor.  She looked at the team working to carry out their duties and her previous instructions.  Her tail flicked with a sudden realization.  She pointed to the attendant whose thoughts were best in focus to her own.

 

R’Ariel: Isolate the command syntax on the cardiac system, to independently monitor and adjust. ::she waited, watched, and nodded.:: Now add synchrony.

 

She looked to Jareth, expectantly.

 

Jareth: Good!

 

He smiled approvingly, and looked over the patient with satisfaction. He clasped his hands behind his back and stepped around R’Ariel and checked something on a monitor.

 

Jareth: Now, what’s the most fundamental thing to check for with a Joined Trill?

 

R’Ariel: Isobramine!

 

Jareth: Bingo!

 

He snapped his fingers in triumph and stepped out of the way so the Caitian/Deltan could monitor the isoboramine levels. As strange as it was, it was entirely possible for Joined Trill to die of sadness.

 

R’Ariel: This should do it.

 

She made the adjustments on the bio-bed lifeline leads, and applied a stabilizing solution.

 

R’Ariel: How are we doing?

 

Jareth shook his head mournfully. Now that it was just Symbiont and R’Ariel in direct communication, it might be easier to explain.

 

Jareth: I’m afraid the problem lies with me. Not Maz. He doesn’t deserve this phobia I’ve lumbered him with. ::He exhaled.:: The death of Zosha was tragic. She… ::He stopped and corrected himself.:: We… decided that the lives of those creatures were more important than our own. She lives on, of course, with me, but… I can’t help shake that guilt that I deprived her of the most meaningful years of her young life.

 

R’Ariel: This was a long time ago, before a number of joinings right, right before...

 

Jareth: I was then Joined to Rafi, who at the best of times was a bit of a rogue, then to Jareth who was a Starfleet doctor and saving lives nearly every day. I simply never had time to address the issue. But I believe we can now. What do you say?

 

R’Ariel: I say we turn this tragedy into an honorable tribute, courage we build on, phobias we lose.  ::: she paused to check the readings, see what adjustments she could make:: WE are going to be alright.

 

On the operating table Maz still lay unconscious. The readings were stabilizing but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. The Symbiont had gone into a state of shock, and the symbiotic neurological link between them had twisted. It was up to them to unblock the link so Maz and Rodan could be one again.

 

Jareth: We trust you. ::He observed her apply more power to the cortical stimulator.:: Tell me. Why don’t you use your medical skills more often? It’s obvious you’re more than a competent medical practitioner.

 

She smiled, it was a very very valid question.

 

R’Ariel: It’s complicated.  How about we look through this lens..

 

She rubbed her left ear, her tail entering its contemplative sway.

 

R’Ariel: The situation we just visited, one where a massive eco-system was at risk and one joined-life.  You had to choose one to save over there.  It was a difficult choice.

 

Jareth: Indeed so.

 

R’Ariel: Why did you make that choice?

 

Jareth: You’re a woman of medicine and science and you ask me that? What other choice was there? ::He shook his head sadly.:: It was the only choice. Not the easiest one, to be sure, but time was running out and I had to act fast.

 

R’Ariel: So what you are telling me is that you had a difficult choice, and you chose the one that was honorable, the one where you could do the most good, the one that gave Zosha a lasting tribute of honor, and just perhaps, because of that choice, all the subsequent life-saving that went on afterwards was a real part of her that helped continue this lasting legacy.

 

Jareth: It is quite rare for Symbionts to experience such long lasting effects. Like I said, she does live on in some way. Still, it’s this one who suffers.

 

She nodded her head.

 

R'Ariel: I sense that we have made a lot of the right steps, acknowledged a lot that needs to be affirmed, but the pain is blocking things.  Let me try something, Deltan.

 

She looked up at the readings.  The cortical simulators were responding well.  She placed both hands-on the Trill and concentrated till she could feel both of them, and taking a deep breath in and out, emptying herself.  Then she dropped all empathic barriers and a slow haggard deep breath in. She felt the years and years of repressed pain, like a river gush out emptying itself.  She reeled from the experience, as she stole as much pain as she could bear, and until in its place she sensed renewed relief.

 

R'Ariel: Well ::she said with a painful sigh as she wiped a bloody nose with her sleeve.:: I think the blockage has been cleared and the healing can now resume.

 

He looked down at Maz on the operating table, whose brow was starting to ruffle as the medication started to take effect and the biological link started to re-stabilize. The procedure had been successful and Jareth turned to R’Ariel with an encouraging smile.

 

R’Ariel: Much better.

 

She looked wearily to Jareth.

 

Jareth: Well done, my dear.

 

She nodded to one of the attendants who had been anxiously waiting for permission to help.hold her up.  Indeed he had done well by not rushing to support her earlier, it might have been telepathically and empatgically devastating, but right now, she could use someone to help keep her from falling from her platform.

 

Jareth: Well, it seems my time here is coming to an end. It’s been nice to meet you, R’Ariel. It’s not every day I personally get to link with anyone. Do take care of yourself.

 

R’Ariel: Before you go, you asked me earlier ::she took a long tired sigh, her tail and ears drooping from fatigue:: why I don't practice medicine more.  Because, like you, I had to make a choice what part.of this fragile existence as a hybrid Delta-Caitian mix would I save, so I could help others.  I chose to focus on learning to save the inside-mess.  However, after today, perhaps, I can learn to do both.

 

She looked down at Maz and gave a weary smile, the blood dropping more slowly now from her nose.

 

R'Ariel: Thank you.

 

Maz opened his eyes groggily and Jareth was gone. The link to the Symbiont had been severed, and Maz was alone with his thoughts again. R’Ariel was standing by his bed and looking rather pleased with herself.

 

Rodan: What happened?

 

R’Ariel: I'd say re-lived the pain, sucked out the poison, now the healing is commencing.

 

The memory of the accident was fading, and he felt a little better now. He was worried of drowning again, of being back in the research vessel but now he felt a surreal sort of peace. The medical team rushed around him to replace Rodan back into the symbiont pouch and began detaching the cortical equipment while a nurse ran a medical tricorder all around his head.

 

Rodan: I remember the research vessel - and the accident - exactly as it had happened. But I don’t feel quite so quilty now. It feels… different.

 

R'Ariel: Just as it should be, just as it should, "Lieutenant".

 

He laid his head back down on the table and smiled. He could easily fall asleep now.

 

R’Ariel: Time to rest.

 

She offered a weak smile, and allowed herself to be helped down off the platform. She felt somehow taller in the moment.

 

END

 

Lieutenant R'Ariel

Chief Counselling Officer

Doctor of Psychology

USS Arrow, NCC 69829

J239706R1

 

&

 

Lieutenant Maz Rodan

Science Officer

USS Arrow, NCC 69829

C237708DW0

 

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