SIM:JP - LtCmd Amber Wilde & Ensign Karynn Ehlanii - Confessions of a Tormented Soul

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Karynn Ehlanii Brice
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Chief Counselor
USS Columbia

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LtCmd Amber Wilde & Ensign Karynn Ehlanii JP - Confessions of a Tormented Soul (Long!)

DISCLAIMER: We, the writers, hope you enjoy this Joint Post. However as a warning, it delves into dark themes and uses some strong language. We've tried to keep this as PG-13 as possible, but we are warning you none the less. Enjoy!

IC: ((USS Ronin: Amber's Quarters))

Ehlanii: Commander Wilde? We didn't really formally meet at the Mission Briefing. I'm Ensign Karynn Ehlanii.

Wilde: Hello. What can I do for you?

Ehlanii: Oh, I was just coming to hear stories about the away team. I'm sure you have a few.

Wilde: Hmm, yes. I suppose so. The parts where I didn't black out like a child. Can I offer you something to eat or drink? I have a huge chocolate bar that I probably shouldn't eat all by myself...

Ehlanii: Chocolate sounds wonderful.

::Karynn found a chair in the sparse quarters and pulled it near the woman who probably wasn't a whole lot older than herself. She took the chocolate the woman offered her and struck up a conversation.::

Ehlanii: Thank you. So you blacked out? I hope you weren't hurt ::looking her over:: although you appear to be in one piece.

Wilde: I'm fine now, it was just the shock, I guess. I never expected to be off-ship during the mission.

Ehlanii: Do you care to talk about it?

Wilde: I suppose so. I'm rather used to Counsellors now. Mother says I've seen the best ones in the Federation.

::Karynn smiled. It wasn't as though it was actually a secret but she was relieved to not have to hide the fact that she was a counselor. Amber seemed much more willing to talk to one than her brother was.::

Ehlanii: It seems that she's right, since you look like you are doing fairly well.

Wilde: I finally got over the nightmares, the depression and all, but the claustrophobia is something that still haunts me. The feeling that I couldn't escape. Even in the shuttle back to Earth I had to be sedated. I guess living in a small cave for nine years does that to you.

::She managed a weak chuckle and chomped down on the chocolate.::

Ehlanii: That sounds like a difficult experience. How did you deal with it at the time?

Wilde: We managed. We got our heads down and worked. If we were told to do this, we did it. Those who disobeyed were punished, even killed. Most of the senior bridge crew didn't make it. Our captain died trying to defend the ship, and our first officer...

Ehlanii: ::with a gentle nod:: go on...

Wilde: ::biting back tears:: He died protecting me. They were going to shoot me, and he jumped in the way. The rest of us vowed to try and break out. Being in a maximum security facility, it was going to be hard, but the stupid Cardassians let us all bunk together. They didn't even bother to separate the security and tactical officers from other prisoners. We were there trapped like rats, but we managed to plot, and organise.

Ehlanii: You must be very grateful to be alive today. That's quite an experience to survive. How did you and your group escape?

Wilde: Oh we didn't. It was actually Danny who rescued us. He was on orders from Starfleet Intelligence at the time. We always were prepared for eventual escape, though. We had to, or we'd lose hope. And that was the worst thing that could happen.

Ehlanii: It sounds like you've come a long way since then. You mentioned that you've seen some of the best counselors in Starfleet. Were they aware of your claustrophobia?

Wilde: Yes. It is actually on my records, and the powers that be granted me permission to rejoin active duty. It's just no one really knew if it would be this bad.

Ehlanii: And have any of them done anything to address it?

Wilde: Not really, we tried treatments; relaxation techniques, meditation and therapies but it didn't seem to help. The only thing that does it my Bajoran method. I think they couldn't pinpoint its source, so they couldn't treat it properly.

Ehlanii: I can understand that. Are you interested in trying to work on it now?

Wilde: Right now? I think I'd have to book you for the whole afternoon ::she chuckled slightly.::

Ehlanii: ::with a slight smile:: Well, that is a possibility although I was thinking in a more general "over the course of the next few days and weeks" sense of the term.

Wilde: Oh yes, I'd love to. I must say, it's so refreshing to talk to someone who isn't obliged to be there, or paid by your parents. Where do you want to begin?

Ehlanii: Well, how about giving me a more complete idea of what you've been through. How about starting with the place you were held in.

Wilde: Well, as I said the conditions were pretty standard for that kind of place. It was constantly dim, even dark, with little air and not much to do except work or try and sleep. The Cardassians took great amusement in watching us suffer, while the Jem'Hadar...well, they just made us work. Productivity was everything to them. They liked to watch us work, or fight, or eat. Have you ever seen a Jem'Hadar?

Ehlanii: I haven't in any real sense of the word. I came to the Ronin straight out of the Academy, so I've only seen pictures.

Wilde: They're cold beings. You think the Borg are bad, but they're just programmed like it. The Jem'Hadar are bred like it. They understand everything you're doing, but choose not to respond. A drone will ignore you until you try and fight it. A Jem'Hadar will watch you do it.

Ehlanii: Were there a lot of people imprisoned?

Wilde: There were some. Mainly officers captured in battle. Even some Bajorans. There were some Bajorans in that camp who didn't even know the Occupation had ended. They'd never heard of the Dominion. I learned about the Prophets and the Orbs from some of them - the Bajoran chants I learned did help with the claustrophobia...

Ehlanii: ::with a smile:: I'm so glad they help, even some. Did you start learning those right away?

Wilde: No. It happened later on, I think. As I say, some of the older Bajorans didn't know the Occupation had ended, but we knew when the War ended. The sudden realisation that there were no more Jem'Hadar guards, whispers among the Cardassians of an uprising, then all chaos and murmurs from the prisoners. We knew something had happened and we were all looking forward to being released or rescued...but it never came. For years after the war we hoped to be rescued. They were rebuilding Cardassia and we were left to rot in that camp! Then finally, we had an escape opportunity. A power relay had exploded on the surface, and all the power to the camp stopped. That's when we made a break for it.

Ehlanii: Who was with you?

Wilde: Me, my assistant tactical officer - Matthew Crane; A nurse from the ship - Amanda Richards; a Vulcan civilian - Torpak; a great team of security officers - Johan, Paulie and Yvette; A Bajoran couple - Dorro and Risha...Yevan, was their family name and a Doctor from another starfleet vessel.

Ehlanii: Do you remember his name?

Wilde: ::welling up again:: It's a name I think I'll always remember. Dr. Henry Solomon. We trusted him into our group, even though he showed little interest in escaping. He was always so calm. So reserved. So calculating. It was he who first told us of the power outtage and we couldn't believe it when the forcefields went down. We'd still have to climb to the surface, but without warning klaxons or forcefields we could roam pretty much anywhere. All we had to worry about was the guards. After the Dominion withdrawal the Cardassians were left with their entire population to look after. They didn't expect us.

::Karynn could see that the experienced officer was, understandably, dealing with some very strong emotions. She longed to help but she wasn't sure how to do that exactly. She remembered her classmates at the academy. Many of them would simply reach out and touch her arm as a way of letting her know she wasn't alone. Part of Karynn really wanted to do that - but she had a little voice inside her encouraging her to keep her limbs to herself. For a moment she mentally argued with herself.

Ehlanii: oOIt would be an invasion of her privacy! It's not like she's not already showing her emotions anyway. What's to invade? But are you prepared to deal with this? Its not like you can touch her and not have any consequences. Can you handle it . Perhaps not - but she needs me. She needs to know that she isn't alone. But what if it makes it worse? She's reliving some very hairy moments - it could remind her, somehow, of her trauma.Oo

::It was a thought, that for the moment, she had no answer to, so she did what she thought might be the next best thing. Leaning forward on her chair, in an attempt to be closer to Amber, she asked another question.::

Ehlanii: So how did the plan go?

::Amber got up from her chair and moved over to the replicator and ordered a cup of hot chocolate. It tended to sooth her along with the bar she was sharing with Karynn. She remained at the replicator as she answered the next question.::

Wilde: It failed. I was rescued by my brother, remember?

::Karynn wanted to kick herself. Now Amber might think she wasn't listening. Of COURSE it didn't work! While she internally berated herself, she tried to keep the conversation going.::

Ehlanii: ::quietly:: What happened?

::Amber threw the cup against the wall. It smashed, leaving the melted chocolate to crawl down the side of the quarters. She collapsed to the floor and sobbed into her hands. She hadn't told anyone this part of her ordeal before. Not even her family. She had been strong in the past, why was she so weak now? Why was she so compelled to...confess?::

Wilde: It was a trap! We were lured out of our cells by Solomon. He had betrayed us to the Cardassians. We learned later that he'd bartered his freedom with offers of help in medical assistance to the Cardassian people, but only if he'd expose us - the main group of rebels who would try and fight. We made it right to the end of the compound before they tracked us. They recaptured us and put us in the darkest caves of that camp. There hadn't been an explosion at all. The Cardassians agreed to terminate the power in order to expose us.

::Karynn moved to the woman and knelt on the floor next to her. She put her arm across the woman's back, bracing herself internally for the flood of emotions. They were almost overwhelming. Summoning up all the control she could to keep the foreign emotions separate from her own she spoke again.::

Ehlanii: How did you keep from getting killed?

Wilde: What would be the point of killing us? They humiliated us and they would taunt us. Killing us would be a mercy. Only one fatality was reported after that escape attempt. Dr. Henry Solomon.

Ehlanii: Did the Cardassians kill him?

::Amber cried again and held onto the Counsellor.::

Wilde: ::whispering:: No. We were in the darkest caves. We had to fight to breath, you couldn't see a thing. Then he made the mistake of mentioning his little bargain with the enemy. He professed to intending to get us released afterwards, but who would believe him? He was a backstabbing, traitorous little bastard! Two days into our solitary confinement the Cardassians found him dead. Murdered.

::As the woman cried, Karynn held her close. It was getting easier to keep the emotions separate. For a little while she just made quiet calming sounds, trying to comfort the distraught officer.::

Ehlanii: Do you know what happened?

::Amber shook. Her eyes hurt from the amount of sobbing she'd done and her stomach was in knots.::

Wilde: ::quietly, frantic:: I didn't know what I was doing until it was too late. He had cheated us, robbed us of any chance we had. While the others slept in that dank, festering cave I crawled over to him. He was sound asleep. Like a baby. He put us through hell and he lay there snoring! I just picked up a heavy rock and...bashed him in the head!

::Karynn was both shocked and not shocked. She'd never expected that the woman she was comforting was capable of such an act. And yet... what she'd survived could change anyone. She tried to keep comforting Amber.::

Ehlanii: What did the guards do?

Wilde: They didn't care. The Cardassians...they...just...laughed about it!

Ehlanii: I know this was hard for you. Reliving your captivity and failed escape attempt must be hard enough, but to relieve that too... no wonder you're still having some residual issues. What did your other counselors say?

Wilde: They expected that the experience would lead to some mental and emotional trauma's. They weren't surprised about the condition. Although they couldn't pinpoint the claustrophobia. They couldn't, because I didn't tell them what I've just told you. You're the only person outside of prison walls who knows.

::Karynn tried to hide her surprise. Amber had talked to the best counselors in Starfleet but she'd saved one of her darkest secrets for someone who hadn't even finished her degree.::

Ehlanii: Thanks, Amber. I'm so honored that you'd share your story with me.

Wilde: I suppose you've got to write up a report now? I'll confess to a judge if I have to. Cardassians don't keep POW records so they'll have to take my word for it...

Ehlanii: No, for now this is just informal. Just two women talking... of course with the confidentiality of a counseling session.

Wilde: I appreciate that. I don't want anyone else finding out. They'd only begin to treat me differently. But what happens you know?

::Amber felt exhausted. She just wanted to sleep and hope tomorrow was better.::

Ehlanii: Well, as we do some more official counseling, I may have to document some things, but those records are sealed to most people in the fleet. Even then, I don't think I have to go into details about what we talk about. But I can also say that its likely that many of your residual symptoms are related to bottling this all up inside. You can't just forget something like that; we aren't built that way.

Wilde: No. But then again we don't all commit murder when the chips are down.

::As the human woman calmed down, Karynn stayed close but backed off a bit, giving Amber the space she needed to collect herself. Karynn stayed in a half-sitting, half-kneeling position on the floor. The englishwoman sat with her back to the wall, feeling very small. She had calmed down a lot, but now felt sorry for herself.::

Ehlanii: I'd like to work with you fairly regularly for as long as you're on the ship, if you'd like. I was thinking a couple of times a week. There are some exercises we can do to slowly introduce more and more closed spaces so you can conquer the claustrophobia. And for now I highly recommend that you not get into any more shuttlecraft or runabouts. How long have you been back in active duty?

Wilde: This is essentially my first mission. I've not been an active Starfleet officer since the war.

Ehlanii: And what have you been doing before transferring to the Ronin?

Wilde: Well, I spent two years on Earth in counselling sessions, trips to Starfleet Medical and, and then I spent two years back at the Academy and Tactical College.

Ehlanii: Which do you prefer? Would you rather go back to that or stay on a ship?

::Karynn moved to clean up the broken glass on the floor while she and the CTO talked. When the glass was cleaned up she got a sponge and began cleaning the melted chocolate off the wall.::

Wilde: I don't know, honestly. I always wanted to come back to active duty, and put everything behind me. If I stayed at home I'd probably go mad. But I didn't know what else to do. Before I new it I had a dozen Captain's shaking my hand and then Danny said there was a position on the Ronin...

Ehlanii: Have you considered applying for a teaching appointment at the academy? I think you'd have a lot that you could contribute to training the newbies in the fleet.

Wilde: I'd love to, but I don't think Starfleet is the answer anymore. I need to branch out on my own; do something for myself for once. I've decided that when the Ronin docks back at DS17, I'm resigning from Starfleet. Perhaps I'll go into the family business? ::She chuckled at the thought.::

Ehlanii: I suppose that's an option too. Are you sure you want to resign though? That is usually a fairly permanent decision and I'm sure Starfleet has a place for you. There's so much you can contribute.

Wilde: I believed that one day. But I've given too much for Starfleet, I can't live the rest of my life expecting to be imprisoned again, or to let other people down by my weaknesses. I'm still so messed up, it's unfair to put the Captain and crew through hell because of me.

Ehlanii: ::nodding:: Yes, I can see your point. I'd like you to make sure that this is really what you want to do before you go through the paperwork. Give it a bit of time. But if this ends up being what you'd really like to do then I wish you the best of luck. I'm here for you until you need and ::smiling:: you're always welcome to contact me after you resign.

::Karynn moved back to the floor near Amber and sat down to listen.::

Wilde: I can promise you that, Karynn. It's the least I can do for my only friend in this part of the galaxy. Thank you for all your help.

Ehlanii: Do you have any idea of what you might do as a civilian?

Wilde: I have no idea. I'm sure something will come up. I've always thought about being a reporter. I'm sure the Federation news service needs all the dedicated people it can hire. If that fails I'll just have to try my hand at interior decorating. I can make a fortune in off the wall chocolate motif's.

::She pointed to the recently cleaned up stain on the wall and the two women shared a quick laugh. Amber promised the counsellor to think about what she had said, and thanked her again for listening to her sad tale. After she'd gone, Amber took a long nap before she would no doubt be interrupted by the young Mr. Deveraux upon completing his task. She crawled up into the big bed and fell fast asleep - with all the lights in her quarters on.::

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That Which Does Not Kill Me
Ensign Karynn Ehlanii
USS Ronin NCC-34523
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Mark of a Good Friend
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Lt. Commander Amber Wilde
Chief Tactical Officer
USS Ronin NCC-34523
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