The Place of Skulls
Location: Transporter Room
Timeline: Mission Day 8 at 0930
[MD 8: 0930 Hours]
In a shimmer of golden sprites, the form of Doctor Jennifer Bracco materialized on the transporter pad. Dressed sharply in her Starfleet uniform -- a Lieutenant's pips adorning her collar bone -- the only thing that really stood out about the woman was her glasses. Bracco's eyesight was not what it once was, though she preferred wearing the glasses to any kind of optical surgery. Stepping down with a large canvas bag slung over her shoulder, the woman nodded first to the transporter technician and then the woman standing in front of her.
"You must be Lieutenant t'Nai? Hi," Bracco's voice had a little gravel to as she spoke, "I'm Doctor Bracco. I hear I'll be taking over for your Counselor while he's on leave?" The woman seemed sure of herself on paper; exuding confidence and professionalism. But in the makeup of her mentalscape, the colors of nervousness and a little anxiety swirled: normal stuff for someone asked to step in at the last hour.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. I understand you're the acting XO for the moment. How is that?" Bracco asked, honestly curious. The gentlest waft of a man's cologne seemed to be coming from the woman.
Emni returned the nod, a small smile on her otherwise doctor-neutral face. Bracco's mental fingerprint was refreshingly normal--a mixture of typical first day jitters, but otherwise cool, collected confidence. "That's correct," she remarked in answer to her note about her 3 days old new assignment. As Bracco drew up next to her she turned, leading them out of the transporter room. She nodded to the transporter technician as they exited the room. "It's..." she paused, "It has been an adjustment," she finally said. "My background is in medicine. The command track isn't someplace I ever expect to find myself even in an Acting capacity."
The two reached the end of the corridor, turbolift doors swooshing open so the two women could enter the small space. "Deck 1," Emni said when the doors closed, the lift promptly moving with the unsettling feeling of moving and yet not moving that the turbolifts evoked.
"I imagine Bridge duty was far from your mind when you took this assignment," Bracco nodded, reaching up to adjust her glasses. "You did take the Command Test though, right?" The Counselor's inference was a soft probe of sorts; meant to encourage Emni to consider her history and choices without outright saying "You did this to yourself by taking the damned test." She looked around the lift then, feeling a little squeezed into the small car. "With the Miranda being a Galaxy-class, I often forget how small some of Starfleet's other ships are. The Sojo is a little...claustrophobic?"
It was true for some, no doubt. Unlike the sprawling halls of much larger ships, Sojo was tight and smart with her space constraints. The ship was built for speed, tactical prowess, and some limited, long-range scientific capabilities. She was not, however, what the Counselor had been used to on the Miranda. There were no concert halls or theater spaces to be found, nor cavernous aquatic labs for sentient, oceanic life to operate as part of the crew. The Sojo wasn't as bare bones as a Defiant-class but she was close.
Emni raised an eyebrow at the counselor's question. "I did," she remarked dryly. "It seemed like a good idea to keep all options open at the time." To the counselor's further observation she added. "You get used to the close spaces for the most part. Our portion of our crew served together prior to this assignment and you'll find a very familiar tone amongst many of them."
The turbolift doors swished open, revealing the corridor of Deck 1. Emni indicated that Bracco should exit ahead of her before following the other woman out and turning to lead her to the Captain's Ready Room. "I imagine that receiving a request to transfer was also unexpected," she commented, stepping in to the sensor that would alert Kodak of their arrival. "You'll have to tell me how that was sometime."
"Oh, you know," Bracco's smile was thin, "we go where we're told and when. All you can do is try to smile through the ride." Adjusting her grip on the bag over her shoulder, the Counselor nodded to Emni's remark about keeping her options open. "Options are good, though sometimes their outcomes are unexpected. I'm sure the Captain wouldn't have made you his acting XO if you weren't truly qualified. Keep that in mind," Bracco offered, squaring her shoulders and stiffening her spine as she faced the door to the Ready Room.
"Come," came the Captain's voice over the local comm system, which piped his invitation into the hallway.
Bracco stepped forward first, the double side doors of the office swishing open to permit her. As she entered the office, she spied Captain Kodak leaning against the front of his desk rather than sitting behind it. She mused that he must prefer to remove the subconscious distance being separated by a desk conferred. It was an effective move where Jennifer was concerned; she noted that her own nerves were somewhat allayed by the Chameloid's openness and approachability.
"Doctor Jennifer Bracco, sir," she said, again adjusting her grip on her bag so that she could extend a hand in greeting. "I hear you're in need of a therapist around here. Happy to help however I can."
"Thank you, Doctor," Kodak smiled, taking the offered hand and shaking it. "We appreciate you coming to help us out on such short notice. Lieutenant," he said to t'Nai, flashing a smile her way in greeting. "Please, feel free to set that down and join us, Doctor," the Captain pointed to the carry bag before moving towards the comfortable sectional against the wall. A large window behind it revealed the openness of space and the looming form of the USS Miranda. He took a seat on the middle of the sofa and gestured t'Nai and Bracco to do the same.
Emni had watched the new Counselor with some curiosity as she entered the Ready Room, her reminder about Kodak's faith in the Romulan a timely reminder despite her continued uncertainty in the face of change.
The Counselor lowered her bag to the floor, a smile coming to her face as well. "Thank you. The thing is more unwieldy than it is heavy but I'm glad to set it down for a bit," she said, a little gravel scratching in her tone. She took a seat to the Captain's right, folding one leg over the other as she regarded t'Nai across the way. "Our XO was just telling me that most of the crew know each and are close?"
"Quite true," Kodak rasped warmly, nodding. "Though we do have a few folks who joined us only very recently. They're still getting acclimated, I think. But new or old," the Captain shrugged lightly, "I think everyone will benefit from having someone onboard to talk to. Wouldn't you agree, Lieutenant?" he asked of Emni, turning to face her. Shooting through his emotional profile was a need to be validated and confirmed in front of this woman who would be their Counselor. Was it possible Bracco...intimidated him?
Emni had settled on the opposite side of the couch, crossing her feet at the ankles. "I would," she remarked with a neutral doctor's smile at Kodak's question. The spike to Kodak's emotional finger print caught her attention and she silently tucked that away to ask him about later. "We're not a large crew and a number of our team members are quite early in their Starfleet careers. But just as a rule, and as a medical professional, the opportunity to speak with a counselor can make a world of difference in a crew."
"With face-stealing Vidiians and armed Orions haunting their nightmares," Bracco nodded softly, "I can certainly see why. Well," she said, "I'm quite happy to be of service. I'll make myself available to anyone who'd like to talk. As an outsider coming in, though," the Counselor noted, "they aren't going to trust me at first. I haven't been part of their shared trauma together and thus, they may not want to speak with me. As the Captain and First Officer, you'll need to encourage the crew to make appointments regardless. Especially when it comes to your senior staff," she trailed off. "Is that something you could do?"
Kodak turned to his First Officer at this. "Emni, as the XO, this really falls under your purview. What are your thoughts on mandatory counseling sessions? And rolling that news out to the senior staff?" The Captain had his own thoughts on the matter but, in a way, he was testing Emni on this decision. She was at a point where she needed to spread her wings and learn to fly from the nest. What would she say to this? Kodak wondered, his curiosity and the niggling sense of being tested likely discernible in his emotional profile.
Emni frowned, considering the question. "Well, counseling sessions are already a mandatory part of Dr. Ryan Walsh stepping in as Acting Chief Medical Officer," she began. She inclined her head at Bracco. "He's quite young and didn't weather his experience on Cho'thil particularly well although sleep has gotten him part of the way to a good place."
She turned her gaze back to Kodak. "A sizeable portion of our senior staff is either new or quite young. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask them to check in with Dr. Bracco in the same way that they were required to have a new physical evaluation. That said, I would trust continuing care to the counselor's discretion. The tempo of such visits could vary for each team member depending on her initial evaluation."
She paused, curious if she had passed the test that Kodak's emotional signature had hinted at. "Would you agree?"
Kodak was beaming like a proud father. "Yes. Yes, I absolutely would," the Captain nodded to Emni, immense pride spiking in his mindscape. Turning to Bracco, he said, "Looks like we have a plan, then. Our XO will start funneling people your way and their care is up to you from there. Need anything from us?"
"Excellent," Bracco's face was neutral as she said this, though she did appreciate the testing she'd just witnessed. "I'll look for appointments from the both of you as well. After all, what's good for the crew is good for their leadership, hmm?" Her neutrality cracked into the very slightest of smiles. "I look forward to our first sessions. In terms of needs, there's just two things."
"First," the Counselor began, "because of the nature of my work and the confidentiality it entails, I'm going to need my own room. Not that I'm not game for sharing," she held up a staying hand, "but the last thing I want is someone potentially snooping through my files to learn more about their coworkers. And, being perfectly transparent, I'm also going to need my own space to decompress and separate myself from the crew. Being their emotional sponge takes a toll," she noted. "Second, I need space to conduct my sessions. Somewhere private, obviously, and somewhat conveniently located. Is this possible?"
Again, Kodak turned to Emni, "Again, ship's resources fall under you, Lieutenant. Thoughts?"
Emni frowned considering. "Our crew compliment for quarters is fairly tightly managed, but we have two VIP quarters that have a living space separated from a bedroom. Would something like that work for what you need Counselor?"
"That sounds great," Bracco nodded in confirmation. "Thank you, Lieutenant," she said to Emni.
"Sounds like we've got that covered then, too," Kodak nodded. "Thank you, Lieutenant. Doctor," he rose from the couch, extending his hand in greeting one last time, "I appreciate you checking in first thing. We'll get you settled. And this may go without saying but," he stressed, "when not in sessions, you're always welcome on the Bridge. Feel free to come up and observe, offer insights, etc. We'd welcome you there."
"Not all Captains would or do," Bracco tipped her head forward, rising as well. "I'll be sure to take you up on that offer. Captain," she shook the hand and smiled at Kodak before turning to Emni, "Lieutenant, would you mind showing me to my new quarters then?"
Emni nodded, "Happy to do so." Standing, she stretched and then paused, waiting for the Counselor to do the same. The woman rose as well, falling in behind the XO.
"Sir," she said, getting Kodak's attention. "Would it be alright if I came back afterward? There's another item I was hoping to discuss. It can hold for a few minutes, but does need your attention."
"Oh?" Kodak asked, some surprise creeping across his face. "Of course, get the Counselor settled and I'll be here when you get back."
"Thank you sir. I'll be back in 15." She started to move toward the door, Doctor Bracco following after her, before pausing. "And sir, if you could plan to sit tight until then that would be helpful."
Kodak's surprise deepened even more at this but he let the matter keep for now. "Sounds good, XO. I'll talk to you later," Kodak offered t'Nai a nod. Watching the two women leave, he found himself more than a little nervous at the prospect of setting up a counseling session. Talking about his feelings to a stranger positively made him itchy but, as a Captain, Bracco had been right -- he had to set the example. The Chameloid made a note to set something up within the next few days. He also couldn't help but wonder what was so important he literally couldn't leave his Ready Room because of...
"With Starfleet," he sighed softly to the now empty room, "it's always something."
=/\= A joint post by... =/\=
Captain Björn Kodak
Lieutenant Emni t'Nai
Acting Executive Officer
Doctor Jennifer Bracco, M.D.