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Posted on Fri Sep 25th, 2020 @ 9:20pm by Lieutenant Commander Dina Vossiborn & Lieutenant Commander Adele Wyndham

Mission: Gods of War
Location: Counseling Offices

Like everywhere else both on the Minerva and throughout the "caravan," as it was being called, the counseling department was understaffed.

However, the thin supply did not nothing to stifle the demand. In a war, psychological issues abounded, and that seemed to quadruple when a war was lost. On top of that, the concession was to give up their homes, their planets, their entire quadrant. It was a lot for people to handle, so Adele was...busy, to say the least.

That was perhaps why the human woman, with the dark hair and dark eyes, looked a touch...frazzled when the doors opened to the counseling offices antechamber and she looked up to see who was walking in.

And up, she had to look. "Hey doc," sounded the Sirran's thick, warm voice. She flicked an ear, looking around a bit, avoiding Adele's gaze, feeling uncomfortable - something the counselor had probably seen many times before. "Doc Daniels made me come here. Was planning to anyways. Being told to made it easier."

Any surprise Adele had at someone walking in--let alone the size of that someone--left her face as quickly as it had arrived and she smiled. "Whatever gets you through the door," she said kindly. It wasn't hard to figure out who was standing in front of her, having read the files on the newcomers. "Commander Vossiborn, yes?"

"Call me Dina. Commander Vossiborn makes me sound all mature and adult and responsible. Am here because that's not how I stand in life right now," Dina flicked an ear, still avoiding Adele's direct gaze. "D'you think these chairs can hold my weight?"

"The furniture on Starfleet vessels is designed and built to handle a wide variety of races, shapes, sizes, and compatibility," Adele said with a small smile as she waved at the chair. "I think it'll be fine. Otherwise, the main option is the floor. The choice is yours, however, with whatever would make you most comfortable."

"Being back in my quarters," Dina flicked an ear, contemplating a moment then sitting down on the floor, tucking her tail in. "Let's get this over with. How much do you know about the Battle of Lorgan IV?"

Adele had to think about it for a moment. Over the years, there had been so many battles. She had heard about so many of them... "I believe I know a little, yes. There were a lot of losses in that one, and a lot of trauma in those who survived."

"Heh, yeah ... Losses," Dina heaved a sigh, looking past Adele into the distance, far beyond what the walls of this office would allow. "A heroic last stand, protecting the refugees as they boarded the escape ships. Brother and sister in arms, shoulder to shoulder, holding back the tides of Jem'Hadar, where legends were made and medals won," The massive Sirran reached into a pocket and pulled out a medal of bravery, contemplating it for a moment before putting it away again. "At least, that's what the official records show."

"And what do the unofficial records say?" Adele asked gently, watching the large, lupine officer sitting on her floor.

Dina remained silent for a moment or two, then just smirked humorlessly, looking pointedly at Adele. "You know, I had to sign a non disclosure agreement. But what's Starfleet gonna do for telling, kick me out?" She then heaved a sigh, returning her gaze to the distant point far beyond any walls. "I'm only in Starfleet because of my sister, Mora, filling my ears with stories about the great unknown, the Federation's great mission of peace and unification, you know the drill, rehearsed words right out a pamphlet. She went Marines, I went Security."

"Then the war happened, and she convinced me to switch tracks. As Sirran I could do more good on the ground than in a ship, she said. And as a team we would be unstoppable. So I joined her, and together we became a heavy weapons and fire support team. I carried the weapon, she carried the ammo." Dina pulled a flask from an inside pocket, opened it and took a swig.

"Then Lorgan happened. And we went down. The Dominion tried out a new weapon. A nerve gas. Tetrafluohexa-whatever-the-shit. Useless. Didn't do much of anything against humans. Made their eyes a bit teary. Gave some a headache." A moment's pause before continuing. "Turns out it affects Sirran differently. Clouds our minds. Gives us hallucinations. Boils our blood. And instead of Mora and my fellow Marines, I saw a monster, threatening, bearing down on me, leading an army of smaller monsters. By the time the rest of the marines managed to put me down with a hail of stun fire Mora and three marines lay dead."

Adele listened intently, without interruption, until Dina had stopped long enough to indicate she was done, for the moment. "I'm sorry for your loss," the counselor said quietly. "What happened after that?"

The Sirran gave a snort, ears laying flat, shaking her head. "Does it matter what happened next? By the time I was up and around the battle was almost over. We'd won. For some pyrrhic definition of 'winning' - " she made air quotes to emphasize " - at least. Just some cleaning up to do. I got hit in the shoulder, still bothers me to this day. Got given this medal and told to shut up about what happened. Fuck - right now I don't give a shit anymore. I just miss Mora and can't look at my hands without seeing her blood on them."

Commander Vossibu\orn was an interesting case, having had so much psychological trauma yet the reports from her previous counseling sessions fell under the classified segment of reports on the incident she discussed. At most, it was a generalized report of "trauma." To which Adele, naturally, thought, No shit, Sherlock.

"I'm sure you've heard the term 'survivor's guilt' thrown around already," Adele said with a wry smile. "But it's become an especially noteworthy psychological effect for a reason. It's real, it's sadly very common these days, and it's very intense."

"Yeah, well. Ship's full of those," Dina waved dismissively, taking another swig from her flask. Sure it wasn't procedure, but as she liked to say, what was Starfleet going to do about it. She offered the flask to Adele. "I'm nothing special. What happened to me is nothing special. I think I'm going to burn or otherwise destroy that fucking medal and see where that leaves me."

Adele declined with a small shake of her head, but she didn't say anything about it otherwise. "Do you really think that will help?" she asked. "What do you think Mora would say about it?"

"She'd tell me to do it," Dina replied without having to think about it. "She was always the practical one. Not an ounce of sentimentalism in that one. She wouldn't approve of - false symbols and trinket memories."

"What do you think she'd say about how you're feeling now?" Adele continued gently. "About the guilt and the apathy toward the future."

Dina made a face. "She'd tell me the same thing I know in my mind and have been trying to tell myself ever since - to move on, to stop blaming myself. But knowing logically and actually believing, feeling something are two very different things."

Adele nodded sympathetically. "That is true," she had to agree. "But you do honor your sister's memory better by doing what you believe she would want."

"It's not a choice. You know this. Waking up at night, screaming, sweating, is not a choice. Her coming to me in my dreams, asking me why I killed her. Not a choice. You speak pretty words, but it don't work like that," Beat. "Maybe in time - it might. But not yet.'

"No, it's not a choice," Adele agreed. "But what I also know is that practicing mindfulness and changing perspective at times when you can is able to make changes at the time when you're can't. It's not immediate. No buttons to push or switches to flip, but it is a step in the process."

"Yeah, I know. I know all this," Dina admitted, her voice quiet, her gaze downcast. "I just - I keep finding excuses not to. To take that first step, or work on it, you know? Like - I've got so much else to do, just don't got time. Or - everyone has a trauma, I should be strong for others. Or - why do I deserve to work on healing when so many other people don't get that chance. Like I don't believe I'm - .... worth it."

Adele smiled gently. "Those are pretty natural feelings, even if they are somewhat unfortunate ones." She paused thoughtfully. "What brings you here today then?" she asked. It was one of those times when she basically knew the answer, but she wanted to hear what Dina had to say.

The large Sirran considered a moment before answering, her voice still quiet, subdued, though still thick and warm. "I'unno, maybe some idle hope that you'd have the magic words that would make me feel worth it, I guess. It's not like I don't want to move on, not like I enjoy being stuck in the past with this trauma and survivor's guilt, I just - " she trailed off, shoulders slumping.

The counselor smiled kindly. "Unfortunately, I can't make you believe something. You have to believe it for yourself. Are you worth it? Yes. You're not alone in many, most, of the things you're feeling and struggling with. The survivor's guilt alone is nearly a pandemic through those of us to survive the war. It's not instinctual to feel better about that, but we focus and be mindful to remind ourselves that we are alive and those who aren't, those we loved and lost, would not want us to waste away in their memory. It's a tribute to their memory to live and move forward."

"That's why I'm here," Dina looked up, a forlorn look in her eyes, but the slight glint of determination. "To live. To move forward. To be of worth. To matter," A soft smirk, slowly a hint of determination returning to her expression. "Mora always had a thing she said. 'Nobody's taller than the last man standing'. And, well - I aim to prove her right," Then another sigh. "It's just - ... Hard. And gonna take a while."

"Yes, it will," Adele said gently, "but like you said: that's why you're here. It's also why you'll be here again, because it's not something that is fixed during one conversation." She paused to let that sink in. "I want you to work on something before we talk again. I want you to spend some time thinking about yourself and what you bring to others, to your assignment here, even. Good things. Valuable things. Even if it's just one, I want you to think of it and make a note of it for your next visit."

A nod from the Sirran. "Aye, I can do that. Sure," she agreed before hesitating a moment, ears laying flat. "There's a - ... No. Sorry, that's silly - "

Adele smiled warmly. "Nothing is silly here," she said. "What were you going to say?"

"There's a ritual among my people, performed when someone is guilty of something - big, and they want to ask the Great Migrator for forgiveness," Dina began. "I'm not religious and don't pray to the Migrator, so -" She trailed off a moment before continuing. "I mean, there's no priest or priestess of the Migrator onboard to witness such a ritual nor a temple to perform it in, but - well, the thought crossed my mind. I could recreate a temple in a holodeck. And then - I'd just need to find someone who would be willing to witness, is all."

"I would be willing to be the witness," Adele offered, answering the question that hadn't actually been asked. "I would want to study a bit about your people's religion first, just so I knew what it was and respected it properly."

"Thank you," Dina admitted, managing a ghost of a smile. "I'll prepare something for you, a brief, on the faith of the Migrator, and what is expected of a priestess. Don't worry, it's all quite simple, there are no elaborate speeches or anything."

Adele nodded and smiled. "That's a good place to start, then."


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