SIM:JP - Lieutenant Karynn Ehlanii and Lieutenant Commander William Rogers - Dealing with Difficulties

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A Counseling appointment for the Chief of Security becomes an opportunity for both officers to grow.

((Security Office, Independence-A))

::Will regarded the flashing reminder on his calendar with far more equanimity than he would have been able to muster only as little as six months ago. As far as he knew he had the dubious honor of being the only person aboard to have been ordered into counseling by a superior Officer. However that was all in the past.::

::He knew that as both a Security Officer and Chief of Security he was required to undergo more regular psychological evaluations. The flashing reminder from the ships computer was telling him that technically he was unfit for duty unless he fulfilled that requirement.::

::Checking the message he saw that the Counselor had pre booked a session. With a wry smile he accepted and headed off to find her Office::

((Counseling Office, USS Independence-A))

::Arriving exactly on time it seemed he was expected as without further waiting the door to the Counseling room opened.::

Rogers: ::smiling.:: Counselor. Good to see you again.

::Karynn looked up as a man she was relatively familiar with entered her office. They had worked together in the past, and even transferred at the same time from the Ronin to the Independence. And... of course... he was dating her friend, Sarion. Glancing at her computer, Karynn noticed that he was there for his annual psychological evaluation. As she looked up again at him, she noticed that he was carrying several pieces of weaponry.::

Ehlanii: ::smiling:: Commander Rogers! It's good to see you as well.

::Karynn stood up and walked to the front of her desk, heading in the direction of her "sitting area.::

Ehlanii: Would you mind removing your weapons while you're here? You can place them nearby, so they're available if you need them.

::Karynn indicated a small table at the edge of her sitting area.::

Rogers: No I don’t mind actually I think it is a good idea. It shows a level of trust between us. ::shrugging .:: Also I no longer fell like they define who I am anymore.

::Will unclasped his hand phaser and placed it on a side table. Next he unclasped Uncle Will’s Marine Special Forces dagger and finally the Hirogen dagger that Sarion had given him. Sitting comfortably he gazed back at the woman before him.::

Rogers: I noted that this counseling session was listed as a specific requirement for Security personnel. Is there a particular format you would like to follow? oOThat was too aggressive. Remember Karynn and Sarion are friends.Oo

::Karynn smiled at his... efficient nature. He wanted to know exactly what to expect, which was understandable, particularly based on what she remembered of him.::

Ehlanni: I'm not sure exactly where you were reading about it, but counseling is required of all Starfleet personnel, at least once a year. We like to check in and see how you're handling the stressors and experiences that the galaxy throws at you. Of course, since Security personnel are often subjected to the brunt of traumatic experiences, perhaps there is a special note about the annual counseling evaluation.

Rogers: Perhaps I was mistaken. No matter. While Security may face more traumatic events than most I can't imagine it's easy being in a counselling role either.

Ehlanii: Before we start, can I get you anything to eat or drink?

Rogers: ::smiling. : A strong black coffee would be great thank you.

::Karynn moved to the replicator and, after ordering his coffee, ordered her favorite: a raspberry mocha. She loved sitting with the mug cradled in her hands while talking to people about her life. Something about it kept her centered, although she had yet to figure out exactly what that was. Maybe it was simply having something warm in her hands. But she never deviated to test that hypothesis.::

::Bringing his drink back with her, she handed it to the man, noticing his piercing blue eyes. They really were unique. Karynn sat in the remaining chair, facing the Lieutenant Commander who, due to his recent promotion, now outranked her. Not that she hadn't ever had experience counseling a superior officer before...::

Rogers:: sipping the coffee. :: Thank you. How would you like to proceed?

Ehlanii: ::smiling:: Ah yes, the format. Well, there are some basic questions I'll ultimately need answers to, but why not just start talking. Tell me how you've been since the last time you were in a counseling session.

::Will considered the question carefully. After a few seconds he slowly picked up the Marine Special Forces dagger. ::

Rogers: I think you are aware that I practice martial arts based largely on the culture of ancient Japan. A Terran society?

::Karynn nodded slowly. For some reason she knew that, although she couldn't remember if it was from her own conversations with the man, her discussions with Sarion, reading his file, or from some other source.::

Rogers: In that culture there is a belief that a blade that has killed feels different. That it's spirit is changed for ever. I think that is true. I think that it is true of people as well.

:: placing the dagger back on the small table. ::

Rogers: I had only joined the USS Ronin maybe a week before I was in a desperate fight for my life. A man , a Cardassian tried to strangle me. I stabbed him with that dagger. When the lights came back on I saw his face. He wanted so desperately to live. I managed to hold the wound closed and got him to our sick bay where the Doctors worked their miracle and saved his life.

::Karynn listened intently as he told his story. Some of it was in his file or in mission reports, but it was always interesting to hear someone relate events like that themselves.::

Rogers: Shortly after that we were pinned down on an away mission on a remote moon. We were under attack from a group of mercenaries. At one point a sniper was trying to pick us off. I sighted along my phaser rifle and saw him sighting through his rifle at me. We lay there frozen for a moment gazing at each other through the scopes of our rifles. I fired first.

Rogers: I've tried to remember how many people I've personally killed in close quarters since joining Star Fleet. The really sad thing is I don't know. Maybe eight ..ten ? Do you think it's a healthy thing to ponder?

Ehlanni: It can be. I think it very much depends on your reason for dwelling on it. Does pondering on it help you grow?

Rogers:: Taking another sip of coffee. :: Perhaps if I finish what I was trying to convey it will make more sense. I found myself sliding further and further down a slope. I was able to justify more and more violent actions in the name of defending the crew.

::gazing clearly into the Counsellor's eyes::

Rogers: I know that I have probably hurt you personally on at least two occasions and although it may not mean anything to you I apologise.

::As Karynn cradled her warm mug in her hands, she nodded her head slightly, both to encourage him to keep talking and to accept his apology for whatever it was that he did.::

Rogers: If I hadn't been so aggressive towards the fake Commander Wilde I would not have drawn my phaser and tried to corner him. It was that aggression that lead to the phaser being discharged and the Chandler falling on top of Commander Brice.

::Karynn thought back to that day on Earth. How she had stopped thinking about anything except getting to Ethan. How blurred the incident had become in her mind, but how deep down she still blamed the man in front of her for it. She was immensely grateful that Ethan had survived and was ok now. If he hadn't... well, she didn't care to think about what may have happened to her if he hadn't survived. Perhaps the deeds of Alternate Universe Wilde made some sense to her too.::

Rogers: I think I finally reached my lowest point during the Grendalli attack on the Ronin. ::swallowing :: I threw a HE grenade into the Bridge turbo lift. I incinerated the three Grendellai inside. There were other options I should have tried. Yes they were attacking the ship. However I should have come up with another solution.

::Karynn suppressed a visible shudder. She worked hard not to react visibly to his statement - at least negatively. Instead, she inclined her head slightly in acknowledgement of his apology, as a sign of acceptance.::

Rogers: I know you were there. That you saw what happened.

Ehlanni: ::nodding again:: Yes, those incidents certainly had an ... impact on me. I thank you for your apology and accept it. What prompted you to apologize? Has anything changed since then?

Rogers:: smiling.:: Yes something did happen to turn my life around. I think you also know who that person is.

::The CoS was right. She had an inkling of who it might be. After all, she had just been talking with Sarion the other day about the impact Commander Rogers was having on the El Aurian's life.::

Ehlanni: ::smiling:: I have a wild guess that it might be Sarion?

Rogers: Indeed it is.

Ehlanii: And what effect has she had?

Rogers:: Taking another sip of coffee to consider his reply.:: How to answer that question? There is nothing definitive that I can point to. More of a gradual change. Day by day, step by step she nurtures and brings out my better nature. She accepts me for who I am. Some of the time duty calls on me to be a soldier. She knows this and knows what I have done and may be called upon to do again.

::Karynn nodded slightly. Her friend seemed to be having a very positive impact on the man in front of her.::

::It didn't seem right to remind the counselor once again of the violence that was sometimes part of Security. Will had clearly seen her reaction when he had brought up the wounding of Commander Brice and the slaughter of the Grendellai. While she had accepted his apology on the surface he realized he had much further amends to make before she really felt the sincerity of his regret for what had happened.::

::He remembered the words of one of his martial arts instructors. " An apology in words only is meaningless. True apology is through deeds." ::

::He was obviously deep in reflection. Karynn just waited for him to continue. It didn't really seem necessary to interrupt his train of thought at this point.::

Rogers: When we are together I can see another possibility for the future. One where there are other things, other possibilities, not just the life of a Security Officer. The idea that I can bring her happiness is something I treasure every day.

Ehlanii: As her friend, I'm very glad to hear that you treasure her happiness and seek to increase it. She's a wonderful woman.

Rogers: She is indeed.

::Will was curious to see where the Counselor would take the conversation now that he had effectively closed down the discussion around Sarion.::

Ehlanii: Well... as glad as I am to hear how highly you think of Sarion, I'm a little curious about some other things, myself.

Rogers: ::smiling.:: Please go ahead and ask me Counselor.

Ehlanii: Well, first, why don't you tell me how you've been doing at dealing with the stresses and loss in your life?

::There certainly was no easy answer to the Counselor's question. Will tried to approach it initially in a more general way.::

Rogers: That is a good question. I think that I am dealing with them far better than I did when I first left the academy. I do not believe that I seek out danger anymore. Perhaps I don't feel that I need to prove my courage to myself or others anymore. oO I hope to God that is true. The thought that my own egotism would cause me to lead others into unnecessary danger is something I don't want on my conscience.Oo

::While he supposed that was a healthy thing it didn't really answer the question. Will tried harder to focus on the actual question he had been asked. Repeating the question usually helped.::

Rogers: In terms of dealing with stress and loss they have shown me how precious life is and how fleeting it can be sometimes. So I try and look on them positively. I really want to treasure the time that I share with people and try to remember that they may not be here tomorrow. I think the losses on Rakis really brought that home to me.

::Finally Will came to the core of how he really dealt with loss.::

Rogers: I also have my faith. I am a practising Catholic and find comfort and strength in prayer and attending Mass when I can.

Ehlanii: Ok. That's a wonderful overview of how you cope, but how about more specifically. Can you think of, for example, what your most recent stressor was and how you coped with it?

Rogers: Well... I ::Will realised that his most recent stress had nothing to do with people getting killed or maimed. The complete opposite in fact.::

Rogers: Well actually my most recent stressor is a good one. How to introduce Sarion to my family. As to how I'm coping with it I'll have to let you know once I figure it out.

Ehlanii: And how about your most recent loss. Who did you loose?

::A rapid slide show of faces flickered past his mind's eye. Not images of how they had looked in death but their pictures from the ship's records. Faces lite with bright smiles , full of the promise of the future. Slowly the images slowed until they settled on a young man's face. ::

Rogers: A young man I never even knew. An Ensign in Security. Franklin was his name, Ensign Franklin. He died laying down covering fire for his unit.

Ehlanii: And how did that make you feel?

Rogers: Angry. Angry at the waste of a young life. Anger at myself for putting them in that situation while I sat on the bridge and coordinated the defense of the ship.

::He took a deep breath.::

Ehlanii: And how did you deal with those feelings and thoughts?

Rogers:: Denial , anger , bargaining , acceptance. At least I've gotten to anger counsellor. ::sighing.:: You can't deny the reality of a body in the ship's morgue. After an action the feelings of anger fade. We all do the best we can. Sometimes we lose people.

::Karynn nodded and let him speak. Sometimes just letting them talk was helpful.::

Rogers: I truly believe in the mission of Star Fleet. I truly believe we can make a difference. Otherwise I wouldn't be out here. I have to believe that we all share that vision.

Ehlanni: I don't disagree with you, and I certainly share that vision. I suppose I'm just trying to point out that there are healthy ways of dealing with the anger you describe and of making the transition to acceptance and even peace after a loss like that, and there are unhealthy ways of coping. It's my job to make sure you have the tools required to make a healthy shift.

Rogers: I understand your words Counselor. I believe that I understand intellectually.Doing it in practise is harder.What sort of tools are we talking about?

Ehlanii: You mentioned that your Catholic faith is very important to you. Perhaps you can explore how other Catholics deal with such losses.

Rogers: That would certainly help. Practising my faith in that regard is something I have mostly done on my home planet of New Glasgow. I was able to participate more when I was serving with Lt Cmdr Kolk on the USS Ronin. We both attended mass when we could and actually ran some holo simulations from recordings of mass. Since then I've struggled a bit to practise. However it is certainly something I will follow up.

Ehlanii: It's also important to find safe and healthy ways of expressing what you feel. Do you have an outlet for that?

Rogers: I'm not so sure on that score. I practise my Martial art , I jog a lot. The physical exertion helps to some degree. I used to drink occasionally - not a healthy outlet. However since meeting Sarion I've stopped drinking. I am certainly by degrees opening up to her how I feel.

taking a deep breath.:: I really can't think of anything else. I do remember you suggested some sort of artistic outlet like poetry. I have actually begun practising calligraphy. I'm not sure if it helps but it is certainly calming and it involves contemplation of issues like death , life , honour. Can you suggest any other ideas?

Ehlanii: It certainly varies for different people. I find that creative outlets such as art, music, and poetry, seem to have the most universal effects. Some people just need to talk about what they are feeling. I think your practice of martial arts would probably help too.

Rogers: I think so too. It was developed by people wrestling with the same issues. How to have integrity and be a moral person and at the same time deal with conflict.

Ehlanii: ::nodding:: Perhaps you might also find some solace in doing something to aid others affected by similar losses. Sometimes it is precisely in serving others that we find the most comfort ourselves.

::Although softly spoken the Counselors words hit him with the force of a well delivered punch. He had been sitting here carrying on about how he felt and had completely missed the point that others had suffered as much and probably more than him. Although he doubted that the Counselor had meant it as such he felt ashamed of his own selfishness.::

Rogers: I think that is something I should do. Can you share some examples with me?

Ehlanii: Perhaps there are little gestures of kindness you could perform for a surviving family member. Perhaps something as simple as writing them a letter telling them of their son or daughter's valor, or their sister's kindness. Praise the good traits and express how in loosing them you've lost something you consider valuable.

::Will had heard and read such advice before however he had not been held accountable for following it up until now. Karynn may speak softly but she was very strong and clear on what should be done. Will looked at her with a heightend sense of respect.::

Rogers: It wont be easy for me but I will do as you suggest.

Ehlanii: I think it might be good for you to spend some time each month exploring a new way to handle your emotions, particularly those emotions that we consider to be "negative" ones: anger, sadness, frustration.

::Getting the distinct feeling that their time was nearly up Will stayed focused on what was being said.

Rogers: ::smiling:: I have no idea what that may be but I'll be interested to discover what comes to light.

Ehlanii: ::smiling slightly:: Perhaps I'll have you share them with others in the crew the next time I run group sessions.

Rogers: oO No getting out of anything here. Oo Group sessions ? mm. well actually I didn't participate in them last time. It looks like I'm going to be taking part this time around.

Ehlanii: ::smiling gently:: I look forward to your input. ::Glancing at the chronometer, the young woman stood.:: I believe that's all we have time for today. As far as I'm concerned, you're cleared for duty for another year. However, should anything come up, please come see me. I'm always available to offer advice, or another perspective.

Rogers: Thank you Counselor.

Ehlanii: ::with a slight nod:: Have a good afternoon, Commander.

::As he rose to reclaim his weapons his smile was a mixture of gratitude and regret. While he was greatful for her efforts to help him in his heart he knew hat he had a long way. He had his own demons to wrestle with and a debt on his honor to reach a point where Karynn actually accepted his apology over his past actions.::

::After the Terran had gathered up his weapons and left her office, Karynn's smile faded slightly. He was making progress, that was certain. He was far more equipped than he had been a year ago to handle the chaotic life of a Security Chief on a Starship.::

::His progress, though, had come with a cost. And in many ways, she felt as though she were bearing a large burden of that cost. She had said she accepted his apology, a statement that implied her forgiveness. But... did she really mean it? Could she really forgive him? Or was she somehow deluding herself. Perhaps she herself had more to learn.::

((The End))

Lt. Karynn Ehlanii
Ship's Counselor
USS Independence-A


Lt. Cmdr. William Rogers
Chief of Security
USS Independence-A

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USS Independence NX-1776-A
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