The Bracco Files: Kennedy Ryan Walsh
The Place of Skulls
Location: VIP Suite 1
Timeline: Mission Day 16 at 1200
[VIP Suite 1]
[MD16: 1158 Hours]
With the Away Team having beamed down to the mining complex, the Bridge had become oddly quiet. There just wasn't much to do beyond waiting for reports, so Jennifer Bracco had taken her leave. She'd stopped by the Mess Hall on Deck 2, preferring to avoid the hubbub of traffic and noise she'd heard Debbie's was. Instead, Jennifer had spent a few quiet minutes at a table to herself in the Mess, nursing the tea she'd replicated, before standing and making her way back to her quarters. She had an appointment coming up and did not want to risk being late by loitering.
Jennifer entered her private sanctum, approving of the soft scent of lavender coming from the oil burner she'd left going. The room smelled subtly of the flower, not enough to be overpowering but just enough to notice and enjoy. Part of her main living space had been transformed into an office of sorts: twin chintz chairs faced each other at angles, a desk with a computer setup not far away. The rest of the living room looked as one might expect. It was for one of the chairs that the woman now bee-lined, setting her tea on a small table that sat between the two seats.
Pulling up her PADD, Jennifer reviewed what she knew about her forthcoming patient and began setting up his file...
Patient Name: Kennedy Ryan Walsh, M.D.
Patient Posting: Starship Sojourner
Reason For Visit: Post Away Team Trauma and Stress
Bracco paused, her fingers hovering over the PADD's controls. She knew that Ryan Walsh had reacted badly to events from his last Away Mission. As she understood it, the man had been held at gunpoint, watching some of his companions become felled by Orion pirates. It was enough to give anyone nightmares but Bracco wondered if Ryan Walsh's youth and inexperience played a role in his reactions vs. those of a seasoned officer used to conflict. She made a note to dig into that.
The soft sound of twinkling chimes filled the room, indicating the switchover from 1159 hours to 1200. It was time for Ryan Walsh's appointment. Jennifer imagined the young doctor must be on his way or perhaps already outside her door, about to press the chime. With a last second glance around the room, she stood to adjust a box of tissues on the coffee table in front of the two chintz chairs.
Doctor Kennedy Walsh Ryan walked down the corridor in a heightened pace almost in a run with his doctor coat he forgot to take off before exiting Sickbay. He reached the door and pressed the door chime. He had a good night that lead to him speaking with Irynya until the wee hours of the morning. He only woken once in the middle of the night to use the washroom due to the water and the one alcoholic drink intake. He waited for the new ship’s counsellor. He was nervous as his father’s a clinical psychiatrist and he hasn’t seen a counselor with orders to do so.
Rather than bother with calling out an invite to enter, Bracco moved to the door and triggered it to open. The young man before her seemed to have arrived in a huff of a hurry; she thought she could see some redness in his face and perhaps some quickened breathing. What had called for such a quick pace to arrive? Bracco wondered.
Instead of asking such, however, the therapist simply smiled and gestured Kennedy inside. “Hello there. I’m Doctor Bracco,” the woman introduced herself, a Lieutenant’s pips on her collar, “but if I can call you Kennedy, you’re more than welcome to use ‘Jennifer.’ Did you want anything from the replicator?” she asked, pointing to the unit inset into the wall nearby. “Tea? Coffee? Something crazy I’ve never heard of before? You can tell a lot about someone by their drink order,” Bracco smiled demurely.
“I could use a iced water, please?” Kennedy asked as he stepped into her office. He nodded her head, “Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Doctor Bracco, Jennifer.” He tried both names, “You can call me Kennedy.”
“Water it is,” Jennifer nodded, gesturing Kennedy to a seat as she stepped to the replicator. It wasn’t long before she turned back, a glass of ice cold H2O sparkling in her hands. She set the beverage down on the table shared between her seat and Kennedy’s -- his water wasn’t far from her tea -- and then took a seat herself. “So,” she said, picking up her PADD from the coffee table and reviewing Kennedy’s file, “I see you’ve not met with a Counselor in quite awhile. Is that right?” she asked pleasantly, a placid expression on her face as Bracco awaited an answer.
Kennedy looked around the VIP Quarters to grow accustomed to his surroundings before finding his seat. He sat down waiting for Doctor Bracco. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap while she sat down, “I… I have not, no.”
Kennedy had seen the Reliant’s Counsellor on two accounts during his time there as a junior Medical Officer. Dr. Denise Bolivar had been worried about his antisocial behaviour during those previous sessions.
“That’s OK,” Jennifer smiled politely, having made note of Bolivar’s concerns but setting them aside for the time being. They were not, after all, relevant to what Kennedy was here to discuss today. “You should know something upfront. I tell all of my new patients this and,” she nodded slowly, “I hope it won’t be a problem for you. But for us to make progress, it’s essential, OK?”
“If we’re going to work on issues together,” Jennifer continued, “I need to know that this will be more than just talking. We’ll explore your feelings and figure out how to best proceed but, ultimately, it’ll be up to you to take action. This doesn’t work if I can’t rely on you to help yourself.” She sat back slightly in her chair and adjusted her glasses. “Will you commit to acting on the things we agree on and reporting back on outcomes?”
Kennedy took a moment to carefully reflect on what Jennifer had to say and where she was coming from. He had undergone tremendous pressure on himself in the sixteen days he had been on the Sojourner. From making his first few friends, to becoming Acting Chief Medical Officer, to being held at gunpoint and in that same scenario witnessing a fellow officer shot through the abodemon where he couldn’t do anything in the moment. He focused on a happier moment to the night before where he confessed to Irynya about his feelings.
In that moment he fully understood the words that Lieutenant Bracco, Doctor Bracco or simply Jennifer was saying that he needed to have the willingness to act on the things they agree on during their sessions together. He took in a deep breath before taking a sip of the water that Jennifer had gotten him and set it back on the table between them, “I agree with your terms.”
Jennifer had waited patiently for Kennedy to make up his mind and speak. Once he had, she simply nodded and said, “Good. With that out of the way, let me tell you a bit about me. I’m a psychiatrist, Kennedy. As I’m sure you know, given your background, that means that, in addition to talk therapy -- which is highly useful -- I can also prescribe medications you may find beneficial. We’ll cross that bridge when and if we come to it,” she said, holding up a hand to indicate she wasn’t jumping to medicinal conclusions quite yet.
“In the meantime, I’d like to get a sense of where you are currently,” Jennifer said, crossing her legs in front of her and taking a sip from her tea. “My understanding from Doctor t’Nai,” her voice took on a bit of grit to it, “is that you suffered some kind of trauma while on a recent away team mission? Could you maybe tell me a bit about that? I know it might be hard but it’s essential we get the issue out in the open.”
Kennedy tilted his head down. He hadn’t forgotten that day as it’ll be forever ingrained in his memory. He nodded his head slowly understanding where Jennifer was coming from. She knew that his mother was a clinical psychiatrist at the local hospital. He reached for the glass of water, “I…” he struggled to bring words. He took a long sip of the glass. He brought the glass down now holding it with both of his hands to assist in grounding himself. “It was my first away team duty… I didn’t know what to expect… I hadn’t had any interactions with my crewmates and the Captain before. I was nervous before going down, very nervous.”
“That’s perfectly understandable,” Jennifer nodded slowly. “You were brand new to the ship. New to the crew. Not used to away team duty, regardless,” she said, validating the man’s feelings. “Go on,” she encouraged.
“I hadn’t met the Captain until I met him in the Transporter Room,” Kennedy lowered his head down to the water before looking back over to her, “you probably don’t want the play-by-play. I’m sorry. You probably have read the Away Team report.”
“Reports are helpful things,” Jennifer held up her PADD, containing said report, “but they don’t tell you everything. Like, for instance,” she lowered the device, “how you felt when the Orions made themselves known?” The therapist waited then, hoping Kennedy would open up with his feelings on the Orions ambushing the away team.
Kennedy almost dropped the glass of water but was able to quickly hold onto the glass. He took a quick sip before placing it back in its spot on the side table. His hands clenched onto either side of the armrest of the chair to ground himself so he could answer Doctor Bracco’s question, “... I was petrified, I had never had a weapon trained on me like that before,” he lowered his head shamefully, “I froze and just stood there after I rose my hands in the air.” He looked over at her, “Then when Nir moved for one of the Orions, all I heard was a disruptor fire. Then…. I saw his body fall to the ground and I pissed myself,” he lowered his head shamefully, “Sorry for the vulgarity, Jennifer. I wanted to go run to him there and then but I couldn’t.”
Tears were welling up and a few had already gradually made their way down his face. His hands clenched on the chair didn’t move as he lowered his head downward to look at his feet, “I only went to him after the Captain ordered me to after the Orions beamed away.”
“No apologies necessary, Kennedy. That sounds fucking scary,” Jennifer replied, emphasizing the swear word to make the young man feel more comfortable about his own language. She could tell that the experience had traumatized Kennedy; it’d left an imprint on him that, while the true danger had long since passed, still haunted the man. The presence of tears and the almost-dropped glass spoke clearly to the memory’s power over Kennedy.
Kennedy was perplexed by the extremity in her choice of vulgarity in normal circumstances, He was relieved that piss in past or present tense didn’t offend her in the slightest.
“Tell me more about the moment before your body relieved itself,” she began again, very gently. Jennifer nonchalantly gestured towards the box of tissues on the coffee table, hoping Kennedy might find a little comfort in being in control of the wetness on his face. “What were you feeling then? I’m not interested in what was happening then,” she stressed, “but more so exactly what emotions were surging through you.”
Kennedy’s eyes followed Jennifer’s hand gesture to the box of tissues on the coffee table. He leaned forward to grab one and lightly began to dab his face. He crumbled it and left it on his lap, “In that moment after I saw Lieutenant Georgiou receive a disruptor blast to the chest, I was in complete shock. I felt like time froze still, and I don’t recall if I have ever been that scared. As I felt my body betrayed me at that moment, I was incredibly embarrassed and felt like I wasn’t a Starfleet Officer but a frightened little boy.”
“Fear is a powerful thing, Kennedy,” Jennifer replied knowingly, glad to see the man avail himself of the tissues. “Fear initiates so many responses by our brains and our bodies, especially when it comes to our autonomic responses. Try not to--”
Alarm klaxons suddenly sounded, interrupting whatever the therapist had been about to say. The heralding lights of a Red Alert accompanied the blaring horns, letting the Sojo’s inhabitants know something paramount was happening. The signal was meant to send people scurrying to their stations or protective cover, whichever was appropriate for their assignments. But here, in Jennifer’s quarters, it was as if everything was just fine...until it wasn’t.
Outside the large picture window looking out on the asteroid belt, a drone of some kind -- no bigger than a large balloon you might find attached to a string -- came into view. Its body was armored by some kind of shiny, chrome plating and, at its fore, what looked like the tip of a mining laser of some kind tapped against the transparent aluminum.
“What the hell is that?” Jennifer asked, getting up out of her chair and pointing at the drone in question.
It continued to hover outside until the most curious thing happened. A cloud of energized green particles surrounded the drone, dematerializing itself in space only to reconstitute the craft inside the room with Bracco and Ryan Walsh. The drone initiated a scanning beam that encompassed both officers before the sensor ray dissipated. It was replaced by the firing of the drone’s mining laser, which would have hit Bracco had she not jumped out of the way.
Instead, the beam hit her chair, causing it to burst into flames. The fire suppression system kicked in, isolating the fire in a forcefield so it could burn itself out. But the drone was not distracted by such; this time, it swiveled in mid-air towards Kennedy, its tip glowing with crimson energy. The mining beam fired, hoping to hit the young doctor in his chair.
”Warning,” came the voice of the computer suddenly. ”Hostile intruders have been detected,” it intoned before repeating the message and switching off.
Kennedy was quick to his feet once the drone had dematerialized and rematerialized before him. He saw the mining beam strike the chair that Doctor Bracco was in moments before. He froze in place not sure what to do as the emotional and mental wound that Kennedy had suffered on Ch’othil reopened in the face of adversity.
Kennedy saw the mining laser about to refire. He dropped to the floor hoping to duck in time from the blast.
The Doctor’s movements were well-timed, it seemed. The mining laser flashed, letting loose a volley of superheated energy that caught his chair on fire, too. With the first chair now put out, the forcefields shifted, now focusing on the new source of flame. The drone, meanwhile, took a few moments to swivel around, looking for Bracco as its laser re-primed. It did, indeed, find her, only through its mechanical eyes, it saw her raising a weapon of her own.
Bracco’s phaser -- kept close, taped up and under the table between the two chairs -- had been easily accessible. Brandishing it on the drone and hitting the activation stud, Jennifer watched with satisfaction as a ruby-citrine beam crossed the room to hit the drone. Having dialed the setting up well past stun, the woman hoped the energy blast would be enough to disable their attacker. Luck seemed to be on her side as the drone flared and then died, thunking to the ground with a loud rattle.
“I repeat,” Jennifer said, all rough-and-tumble as she went over to toe the drone’s lifeless husk, “what the hell is that?!” She stood over the hunk of metal, still training her phaser on it in case further slagging was needed.
Kennedy remained on the floor murmuring with his hands covering his eyes as he was still frightened by their current predicament. He heard the drone thud against the floor but was still uncertain about his present surroundings.
He pushed himself off the floor, brushing off his pants and straightening out his uniform. He was breathing irregularly and sweat dripped from the crown of his head as he looked over at Bracco with a phaser drawn, “Do you normally carry a phaser during your sessions, Doctor?”
“Funny you should ask,” Bracco replied, having convinced herself the drone had become inert. “I was on my way off the Miranda and remembered to pack a phaser at the last second. Now I’m glad I did,” she smirked despite the danger. “I figured given everything you people have been through lately, a phaser couldn’t hurt. Looks like I was right.”
“Are you OK?” she asked, moving over towards Kennedy. The man looked clammy but was up on his feet and communicative: that was a very good sign indeed. “Looks like our chairs didn’t fare as well as we did,” she sighed. Bracco had had the two chintz chairs beamed over from the Miranda -- they were her little piece of her home office. It was a blow that they had been destroyed.
Kennedy slightly wiped his forehead looking at his now clammy hand. He rubbed it on his pant leg. He remembered the breathing exercises that Irynya had taught him the morning after he returned from Ch’othil and the nightmares started. He looked over at the drone, he moved his hand for his tricorder on his belt.
“Before we leave or run into another one of those things,” Kennedy shivered at the thought of running into another one of these drones, “I think it might be a good idea to see what we are up against and if we can warn the crew.”
The Doctor, remembering his little Operations training during his first year of General Studies at the Academy, took a knee beside the drone. He really hoped that it was dead or immobilized. He flipped it open and started to scan.
The tricorder beeped and trilled, its various lights twinkling and blinking as the scan completed. A holographic wireframe of the drone was projected from the tricorder, hovering in midair as it detailed the findings of the scan.
“Look at that,” Bracco said with disbelief. “Internal transporter nodes. Heavy duty mining laser -- that, we knew about,” she huffed. “But this,” she said, gesturing to the drone’s shield generator, “this is what concerns me. Rotating shield harmonics? These things must be adapting their frequencies to bypass our shields and beam into the ship.”
“Damnit,” Bracco swore, shaking her head. “I wouldn’t be surprised if these things are all over the ship by now. You’ll notice,” she gestured at the continued red lighting around them, “that Red Alert is still in effect. Which means you and I can probably be of the most use in Sickbay. I don’t typically handle medical injuries these days but I am a M.D. Maybe I can help you out?” she asked Kennedy.
Kennedy slowly rose to his feet clipping his tricorder back onto his belt while rubbing his hands together to calm him down from panicking further. He nodded his head in agreement with Doctor Bracco, “Any assistance you can provide in Sickbay will be beneficial, Doctor Bracco.”
Kennedy felt that it would be inappropriate to call her Jennifer since their session was indeed temporarily placed on hold.
With a nod, Bracco moved towards the door, phaser still in-hand. “We’re going to need to get you one of these. Then, we head to Sickbay. Computer,” she intoned, “where’s the closest weapons locker?”
”Deck 2, section 3,” the Computer responded.
“C’mon. And keep your eyes out,” Bracco said, leading the way into the hallway. For the moment, everything seemed clear. So the woman took a right and led Kennedy down the hall, towards the prescribed weapons locker. As the pair arrived -- and as Bracco plucked two phaser rifles from storage, one for her and the other for Kennedy -- the therapist spotted movement further down the hall. “Get down!” she hissed, swiveling to train her rifle on whatever it was.
Kennedy closed his eyes as he dropped down onto the floor clutching onto his phaser rifle as he followed through the Lieutenant’s orders. It had been a long time since he held a phaser rifle, it reminded him that he needed recertification training as it was close to expiry. He recomposed himself as he heard a mining laser discharge. Already on the ground he pinned his head down just for an extra dose of safety, he pushed a few buttons to calibrate the phaser rifle.
Bracco spied another drone coming into view and -- having readied herself -- fired a burst of glowing energy bursts at the damned thing. She’d forgotten, however, to jack up the setting on the phaser rifle and, while her shots hit true, the drone seemed to be more annoyed than anything. It’d clearly been hunting something down the hall but was now turning towards herself and Kennedy. With a quick tap-tap-tap on the rifle, Bracco fired again, this time downing the drone.
“Is someone out there?” Bracco called down the hallway, hoping whoever it was wasn’t seriously injured or -- worse -- dead. More movement caught her attention and, with a subtle gulp, she said, "Here we go..."
=/\= A joint post by... =/\=
Doctor Jennifer Bracco, M.D.
Doctor Kennedy Ryan Walsh
Acting Chief Medical Officer