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(JP) Flt Captain Herrera & (PNPC) Sgt. Gwinnett Counseling Session


Sedrin Belasi
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((Captain’s Ready Room))

::Gwinnett was dressed in her standard uniform, but she didn’t have any of her equipment, that she would normally have worn on duty. She wasn’t actually quite sure what one did wear for a counseling meeting with the Captain, who was now a Fleet Captain. She was sure that he had done his homework on her and, not to be completely in the dark, she had looked up as much as she rated on her clearances on his service record. She had learned that he had been a counselor at one time in his career, which didn’t lighten her mood.::

::She buzzed the office and then entered. She walked in and come to attention directly in front of him.::

Gwinnett: Sergeant Gwinnett, as ordered, Sir. ::Standing rigidly at attention, looking slightly down as she was to be inspected.::

::Diego was already on his second cup of raktajino; he had barely slept the night before thanks to burning the candle at both ends and as many sides as he could get a flame to in searching for a solution to Greir’s hearing problems. He’d seen on his schedule that Sergeant Gwinnett had been referred for counselling as well as the reasons why. He had been less than impressed but now was not the time for a reprimand. If she had a problem then they needed to work together to fix it.::

Herrera: Grab a seat, Sergeant.

::He gestured to the one on the other side of his desk.::

Gwinnett: Yes, Sir. ::Formally.

::She was taking pains to keep any sarcasm out of her response as she found the seat next to the desk and sat down, but didn’t relax. Brooks was now in high officers country and she was the focus of attention, something that she didn’t particularly like. She much preferred to stir the pot and then sit back and watch things explode. Now she was front and center of her own personal storm, of her own making.::

Herrera: So… interesting situation we find ourselves in, huh? Anything you want to say before we get started?

::He wasn’t prepared to tolerate discrimination on his ship but he understood that there was something bigger at play that needed looking at. He wondered if she might bring it up without prompting, or if she was going to be an elusive customer.::

Gwinnett:: My service record is pretty complete, Captain. I admit, it is a bit checkered. I do a good job on duty, I do tend to blow off a bit too much steam off duty. ::Thinking to herself, of some of the stuff she hadn’t gotten caught at. Now her troubles were coming back to haunt her.::

Herrera: Alright, but recently there was an incident that flagged up the fact that we needed to talk about something. Can you tell me more about it?

::Of course, he knew what had happened, but he wanted to set a precedent here. It was Gwinnett who needed to be talking, not him.::

::Gwinnett squirmed just a little bit in the chair, trying to get a bit more at ease, which was elusive.::

Gwinnett: Sir. ::She knew that the question would come up, but it didn’t make it any easier.:: I .. I was wrong...I...

::Thinking of Chen, a cold shiver came over her.::

Gwinnett: … have always had this thing about Andorians.::She moved her eyes away from the Captain, trying to focus on something else, anything else in the room.::

::She opened her mouth, but nothing came out and she closed it again.::

::She’d taken the first step herself before hitting a wall, which was good. It looked like Gwinnett wasn’t going to deny the fact that she had a problem, so now it was a case of working with her to figure out how they were going to deal with it. Cliff notes had been provided for Diego and he had enough information to know that this wasn’t going to be easy.::

Herrera: Alright, thank you for bringing that up, because it would have been easier for you to let me say it. I think that’s probably the first of a few gut checks that we’ll be looking at, but we’re gonna work together and see if we can get past them all.

Gwinnett:oO Great...I could use a stiff drink right now.Oo : I guess, Sir. ::It certainly didn’t feel good. She would've paid to be anywhere other than here::

::Leaning back in his chair and assuming his ‘professional’ posture, otherwise known as feet up on the desk, Diego settled in. The batting was now officially open.::

Herrera: OK, so the next step is for us to talk about why you have an issue Andorians. What is it about them that you… don’t like? Or that you find unnerving? And how do you react when you see them? We can take this at your own speed.

::Gwinnett didn’t want to take this at any speed. She squirmed a bit.::

Gwinnett: Sir, I am a pretty straightforward soldier. I have been close to the front lines for most of my life. They just remind me of my homeworld. ::Her shoulders, jerked up slightly in revulsion.:: Some unnerving about them.

::Looking at the way Gwinnett was reacting to the question, Diego felt like he could read a little more into the word ‘unnerving’. There was something that was freaking her out about them. Fear was a powerful emotion and, while it was one that counsellors had long been trained to counteract or conquer, it was important to find the root of that fear first.::

Herrera: Alright, so I guess my next question has to be whether or not there were any Andorians on your homeworld?

Gwinnett: No… but those… things. ::Her mind flashed back to the cave and the crazy. She fought the thought, and came back to present.::Her shoulder twitched again, as a cold sweat started to form on the back of her neck. She moved her hand under her hair to wipe it away, as to try to wipe the entire episode away. ::

::Diego had the answer he wanted. Objective one was going to be to try to divorce the Andorian species from whatever it was that Gwinnett was really afraid of.::

Herrera: Alright, so what you’re telling me is that there’s something about Andorians that reminds you of something else from your homeworld. Whatever it is that’s bothering you is actually not Andorian at all, right?

::Gwinnett disliked talking about her homeworld, she had finally gotten the strength to leave it forever. She never ever wanted to go back. Even to see her brother.::

Gwinnett: Yes.

::She answered defensively. She didn’t know what time this was to be over, but right about now and a direct march to the lounge would have been perfect .::

Herrera: OK, in that case, let’s try looking at this from a different angle. Can you tell me some things that Andorians don’t have in common with whatever it is that’s bugging you?

::She fought the memory of the tentacles, but like the memory they reached out to her and she started to visibly shake. She was transformed into the scared child that had been captured by the crazy waking up in the dimly lit cave, with the tentacles coming out of its head attempting to probe her. She wanted to flee, both from the cave and the office.::

Gwinnett: Keep them away from me...::Her voice became low and distant, like she was already defeated.::

::Diego could see her starting to get caught up in her thoughts, which was hardly about to do either of them any good. He needed to bring her attention back to where it needed to be, so he called her name, raising his voice enough to give her a small shock.::

Herrera: Gwinnett!

::The voice was like to voice of the rescue party that found her hours later. She was found passed out in the cave alone. She awoke from her nightmare, to find herself in front of the Captain. It took her a few seconds for her mind to refocus on where and what she was doing.::

Gwinnett: Sir? ::Confused.::

Herrera: I want you to tell me some things about Andorians that don’t remind you of what you saw on your homeworld.

::His voice had returned to its usual volume and the statement was delivered calmly but insistently.::

::Gwinnett tried to push those independently moving antenne out of her head. She tried to focus more on some of the more palpable features. There was the color of the Andorians. The crazy was more flesh color, than the blue skin.::

Gwinnett: Color...I think...::She was still trying to put the horrible tentacles that came out of its head out of her thoughts. It was difficult to think of the differences, as bringing up the image of the crazy had always been something she had avoided at any cost. She twitched a bit, and didn’t know what to do with her hands that were in her lap.::

Herrera: Alright, that’s a start. Can you think of anything else?

::Frankly Gwinnett wanted to end the session right now. Her world had been rocked, right back to her childhood, and that awful experience.::

Gwinnett: ::Bucking up.:: I don’t know fully what happened in that cave, and I would rather never know.

::Diego drew in a long breath and dragged his feet down off the table, leaning forward and steepling his hands. Maybe this was going to be more difficult than he thought.::

Herrera: I can understand that and if you don’t know what happened then I can’t tell you, so you’re in no danger of finding out. If it’s more that you don’t remember then you already know, and there’s a chance that, sooner or later, something will remind you. We’ll worry about that another time, but the first order of business is dealing with your issue with Andorians. If we can’t get past that then it’s gonna be tough for you to find somewhere to work with Starfleet because they’re one of our founding members.

Herrera: If you can’t think of anything else other than the colour then we’ll just have to use that as best we can for the time being. If you do think of any other differences then you can try to use them as well. I’ll tell you what I mean in just a second…

::He picked up a PADD from his desk and set it to display a generic picture of an Andorian but didn’t turn it around just yet.::

::Gwinnett had several mental images now rolling around in her mind and not of them were good. She just wanted to get out of there and she would've given up her stripes to do it.::

Gwinnett: Sir, I really don’t want to relive that experience in the cave again. It is something that I have tried to put behind me, I will apologize to both of them. I just… can’t face them again...

::Currently filling the role of a counsellor and not a torturer, Diego had no intention of forcing her to relive the trauma of her past without proper preparation. There were several treatment methods he could think of, including hypnotherapy, where he might be able to help her without forcing her to relive anything directly or through her own eyes. In the meantime, though, his job was to make sure she could function as part of the crew.::

Herrera: I’m not asking you to relive anything. We need to work together to make sure that you’re not going to be disturbed when you see Andorians any more. Can you work with me to do that?

::Gwinnett was skeptical, she wasn’t big into hand holding and psycho babble. But she did remember the last training with the Major and the problems she had were she actually retreated during a combat training. That had bothered her.::

::Her face fell a bit. She had been trained to be a rough, tough and no holds barred soldier. To be in counseling was a disgrace. She weighed that against the last training mission, which bothered her also.::

Gwinnett: I don’t know… ::Which was the truth, a lot of the bravado had eked away from the usual bluster that was Brooks Gwinnett.::

::Diego wasn’t expecting her to find this easy. Explaining what they were going to do in steps would hopefully give her something to latch on to, because she would be able to see which steps she would need to take and better understand what they involved.::

Herrera: OK, we’re going to start by consciously thinking about the difference you identified to give you something that can reassure you whenever you see an Andorian. That then gives you a safety mechanism, something for you to hold onto to show you that the people you’re looking at are nothing to do with your homeworld. Almost like a mental anchor, if you like. How does that sound for starters?

::Brooks was still skeptical, but she wasn’t a quitter. She would give it a try. At least for a little while. She mustered her bluster, trying to get her resources back in order.::

Gwinnett: Not quite sure what you are talking about, but I guess.::Trying to build back a bit of confidence.::Sir.

Herrera: Good.

::The real question wasn’t what she found different between Andorians and the source of her fear, but what she found disturbing. Finding that out would come later.::

Herrera: I’ve got a picture of an Andorian zhen on this PADD. ::He held it up with its back pointing to Gwinnett.:: I’m gonna turn it around and I want you to take a look. There are a few things that I’m hoping you’ll be able to associate with a normal Federation citizen. If you feel yourself starting to worry, concentrate on the colour of her skin and the fact that this is just a picture. You ready?

::She nodded.::

::He waited for her to acknowledge the question and then turned the PADD around to show a picture of a zhen in civilian clothing, holding a baby. The infant was wrapped up enough that you could only just see a flash of blue, but it was one of the most non-threatening pictures Diego had managed to locate in advance of the session.::

::Gwinnett looked at the picture of the Andorian. It wasn’t too bad, she just didn’t like them. The worst feature was of course the antenna, but they weren’t moving and not towards here.::

Gwinnett: Yeah...I see it, just a picture. No problems. ::There wasn’t any emotion in her voice. She knew a picture couldn’t hurt her or the baby..::

Herrera: Right. It’s just a mother with her kid. How would you feel if there was a hologram of her? I mean, that picture can’t move and a hologram can, but… on the plus side, a hologram can’t hurt you.

::He slid forward a convex, disc shaped object that was designed to project a miniature hologram.::

Herrera: This one’s also only designed to project a hand-sized picture. Could you switch it on for me?

::Gwinnett took the disc and activated it. It projected a small 3-D image of the andorian. She studied if for a moment. An then placed in on the desk. It didn’t bother her anymore that the image of the Andorians::

Gwinnett: ::Shrugging her shoulders.:: No problems. ::She didn’t know where this was going. But she figured there was a point to it.::

::Diego saw the nonchalant response and found it interesting. She didn’t seem to be at all bothered, which was good, although her somewhat indifferent response wasn’t quite what he had expected.::

Herrera: If you could tap the button again? There are a couple more holos stored in the projector, so let’s take a look at the next one. You’re doing well so far.

::The holoimage changed to a projection of an Andorian thaan in a yellow-collared Starfleet uniform, holding a phaser, ready to fire. This projection incorporated an element of threat, although the idea of seeing her colleagues holding phasers would not be new to Gwinnett. The size of the holo-projection had not changed. Diego looked at the marine medic for her reaction.::

::To Gwinnett, she moved a bit unnerved by the Andorian, she moved her eyes away from it. She got an odd sensation from the holoimage. It wasn’t much but her movement was involuntary. She straightened up and regained her posture almost immediately.::

Gwinnett: Hmm… no problem. ::She only took a look back at the holoimage, then looked away.::

::The sergeant might have claimed that there wasn’t a problem, but her body language was saying otherwise.::

Herrera: You seem bothered by that one. Is it because he’s a thaan rather than azhen, or is it because he’s holding a gun?

Gwinnett: Just don’t like Andorians, and this one had a gun.

::Diego had given her an out, there. It was feasible that the fact he actually could represent a threat if he was actual size would be cause for concern. However, had he not mentioned the gun, it would have been interesting to see what she might have said. The only thing for it was to move on to the next image.::

Herrera: OK, if you could hit the button on the projector again?

Gwinnett: Alright. ::Gwinnett could see that the holo projections were getting progressively more ominous.

::This time, the display changed to a hand-sized holoimage of Lieutenant Chen in his Starfleet uniform. However, rather than being stationary, this projection was animated. Every now and again, he would look from side to side, shuffle his feet, or his antennae would move slightly. It was also easy to see that he was breathing.::

::Gwinnett could easily see that it was Chen, and that wasn’t any real cause for alarm. She didn’t like the twitching antenne, but it wasn’t too bad. She watched it for a few seconds and looked away. ::

Gwinnett: Chen. ::Matter of factly. She knew that he would rear his head here at some point. This entire process was based about her attitude to the Andorian. She knew she had to get through this initial process somehow..::

::Her comment was flat; Diego wasn’t expecting her to leap for joy at the sight of Chen, especially not being as he was involved in the circumstances that had led to her being in counselling in the first place. Even though it wasn’t Chen’s fault, it was possible that the negative emotions she associated with him had changed to resentment, and that she blamed him for being here. That remained to be seen, though.::

Herrera: You still seem pretty calm. That’s three different Andorians and one that you have a good chance of seeing from day to day. How do you think you’d react if the real Chen walked through the door right now?

::Brooks fought the urge to be flippant. A few quick barbs came to mind, but she paused to let them pass and then carefully weighed in.::

Gwinnett: I guess I would be alright. I have been in the past. I don’t like Andorians, but I don’t go mono cause either.::

::Diego nodded, and terminated the projection on his desk. In some ways, Gwinnett had just had to face up to her Andorian issue and separate it from her trauma or phobia. That still needed to be tackled in future sessions, but for now, he was confident that they could start to wrap things up.::

Herrera: Alright, so one of the things that I’m hoping you’re beginning to realise is that your issue isn’t with Andorians. You just saw three images and projections and the only thing you admitted to finding threatening was the gun that one of them was holding. The only Andorian currently on the crew is Lieutenant Chen and there have never been any incident reports to indicate that he would try to hurt you. Do you think it’s fair to say that we’re in a position where there’s no need for any more antagonistic behaviour? Or anything that could lead to him, or any future Andorian officers who are assigned here, feeling like they have no option other than to transfer away?

::Gwinnett took a minute to decipher the statement. She wasn’t sure if she was threatened by the Andorian with the phaser, but it did give her the willies. In her heart of heart, she knew that Chen wasn’t going to threaten her, but there was something about him or more specifically about the species, she didn’t like and being asked two questions at the same time. She really felt like she was in the hot seat now, it had been a mentally exhausting session, her head was starting to pound, and hearing all those big words wasn’t helping.::

Gwinnett: There is no reason to fear Lieutenant Chen.

::That pretty much wrapped up his business as counsellor, but there was one important piece of business that he needed to tack on as captain.::

Herrera: I really hope so. I want to help you get over this… fully get over this, but you need to know that if anything like this happens again, it won’t be the Andorians that will be transferring, if you catch my drift.

::Gwinnett understood the last sentence loud and clear.::

Gwinnett:: Yes, Sir.:Her tone was firm and strong.::: oO Give Reinard and Chen, and trouble a wide berth.Oo

::Diego nodded from behind his desk, satisfied that they’d at least laid a couple of foundations for future sessions.::

Herrera: Alright. You also need to know that if you find yourself experiencing any anxiety or other symptoms related to this phobia, you can contact me any time and I’ll do what I can to help you. For now, though, I think that’s a wrap.

Gwinnett: Yes, Captain.

Herrera: Stay out of trouble Sergeant, I’ll catch up with you later.

::She rose to her feet, nodded to the Captain and tried not to walk too fast the the door. She needed a drink and fast. Then something better came to mind, a long run and then a few drinks that would affect her more.::

::He waited until the door was closed before slumping back in his chair and rubbing one of his temples. He wasn’t entirely confident he was getting through to Gwinnett but he’d find a way. Somehow.::

TBC

A JP by

Fleet Captain Diego Herrera

Commanding Officer

USS Vigilant

NCC-75515

Deputy Commandant: UFOP: SB118 Academy

&

Marine Sergeant Brooks Gwinnett

Marine Medic

USS Vigilant

SIMmed by: Eerie

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