SIM:Lieutenant Commander Karynn Ehlanii - Lessons Learned, Ideas Exchanged

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Shortly after the Independence returns home after a long chase of the Phoenix to the edge of the galaxy, Karynn meets Commander Cody in Twilight's Edge to help him work through some of his mission stress. Author's note: this is a compilation of 4 SIMs (Lessons Learned, Settling and Splits, Advice, and Exchange of Ideas) with a few small additions from some of Commander Cody's SIMs, so that the interaction can be seen as a unified whole.

((Twilight's Edge, DS17))

::The place brought back memories. She'd met Ethan here for the first time on the night Ben got married. She smiled, remembering how sudden the wedding had been. It wasn't a quiet place: most of the tables were filled, even in the late afternoon, and music filled the establishment. At the same time, it wasn't so loud that two people couldn't talk. It seemed the perfect place to catch up with people, or have a private chat. It was unlikely that someone nearby would overhear.::

::She wandered through the tables, making sure the First Officer hadn't found one already. Not seeing him, she found a table near a holographic window from which she could also see the door. Taking a seat, she waited.::

::She didn't have a long time to wait. Her trip from the ship hadn't been at a run. As the man with the piercing blue eyes walked through the door, she smiled slightly and waved him over. Indicating the seat across from her, she spoke.::

Ehlanii: Have a seat, Commander.

::Something seemed off with the man. She noticed he was touching his cheek, and he had an odd look about his face. He sat down and attempted to smile, although it was much weaker than his usual crooked grin.::

Cody: I may not be altogether with it.

Ehlanii: ::with a slight nod:: I'll try to remember.

::Silence fell between them. The blue-eyed terran in front of her didn't seem to know what to say, so the Counselor offered him an opening.::

Ehlanii: So how can I help?

::The man seemed to be fighting back emotion already, and it didn't take an empath to realize that. She caught a sniff and a blink.::

Cody: I, uh… I don't even know how to begin this.

Ehlanii: Just start with what's bothering you.

::She watched him carefully, trying to figure out how many questions to ask and how often to just sit and listen. After a moment's pause, the counselor saw several tears trickle down his cheek; and when he started speaking, he didn't make a whole lot of sense.::

Cody: Even at the end, he didn't relent. I didn't want to... and when it was over, I found myself on my knees crying. Screaming, actually. Screaming why... it didn't have to end the way it did.

::Karynn nodded. She didn't know exactly what he was talking about, although having read the mission reports, she had some idea. She did, however, understand the emotion behind his words.::

Ehlanii: That sounds traumatic. What about it bothers you the most right now?

::The man studied his hands. The counselor watched him and just waited.::

Cody: I should feel cold and dead, but instead I feel everything. I look around this room, and for every person I see trials, struggle, triumphs, fears, sadness and hope. I'll never know their stories, or what they went through when the Ixvapyans bombed the station. There's no pleasure in what I did. At the end, I wanted to preserve what little was left of their culture. Before we wiped them out completely.

::The counselor reached gingerly across the table and placed her hand on the man's arm, careful to touch the sleeve of his uniform jacket rather than his bare skin. His emotions were so visibly strong that she knew that they would probably be overwhelming if she touched his skin.::

::As tears raced down his cheeks, waves of his emotion, slightly dampened, poured through her. She could feel his anguish, his distress. Intertwined with that was anger and frustration. And, oddly, she caught hints of more primal feelings that seemed slightly out of place.::

::She took a slow breath or two allowing his emotion flow through her, separating it from her own. It still took practice to not loose herself, especially when confronted by strong emotions.::

Cody: I wanted to save them... gods help me. They destroyed so many of our people, and yet I wanted to help them rebuild their race... he wanted to kill me, or be killed. They were the last. The last of a race subjected to genocide because all they knew was war. And I feel guilty for wanting to save them for all the death, carnage and destruction they delivered on us.

::Karynn nodded gently, unsure of where to proceed. She supposed that the best thing to do would be to keep him talking.::

Ehlanii: I can imagine that anyone would. But it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to want to save them either.

::His eyes met hers as he took a deep breath.::

Cody: I'm not sure if everyone would agree with that view.

Ehlanii: Explore that a bit. Why do you think you wanted to save them?

Cody: I think, because despite what they were, there was something about their nature, something oddly... unique. I don't know. As if no matter how... they weren't evil. They were... just born to war. As this "warlord" said to me, it was simply their way.

Ehlanii: ::nodding:: I can't imagine I would have been able to do what you did.

::She watched as the man studied his hands again. In some respect, she was very interested in knowing what he was thinking. In another, though, she trusted the man enough to let her in on those thoughts when they were relevant.::

Cody: Death is never an answer, Counselor. I've never had to kill someone before. Even if it was in defense, I hate this feeling I've somehow sunk to such a place where it is only kill, or be killed.

Ehlanii: I can understand, yes. And I know it was a recent trauma. But at the same time, its important to remember that its in the past. What is important is that you've learned something from it, from them. So what lessons will you carry with you?

::The man in front of her choked. He began thumping his chest and shaking his head, and as he did so, she removed her hand from his arm. He took a sip of water and wiped his eyes. She just waited.::

Cody: Anyone is capable of commiting acts of atrocity, but we shouldn't have to sink to that level to bring resolution. I just wish ... I wish they had talked to us. Even among warrior-like races are diplomats. How many people died because they wouldn't consider a different perspective? And yet, I think, there's a history there we lost.

::She nodded. His sentiments echoed her own. Although she loved the crews she served with, it had always been hard to serve on first a warship and then the flagship of the the region. Too many of their encounters had ended in violence, and she had always mourned the loss of peace in her own way.::

Ehlanii: Its a hard, even impossible, lesson for some people to learn - that diplomacy is the harder but ultimately better option.

::The counselor couldn't help but notice that his answer had echoed more a belief he had held prior to recent events rather than a new lesson learned. As she looked back at his face, she noted he was looking over her, and not at her. As he returned his gaze to her, he changed the subject.::

Cody: Tell me something, you think you and Ethan will settle down one day?

::She looked at him with a question in her eye. It seemed they never saw each other these days. And before yesterday, when she woke up in sickbay, their last significant time together had included a major fight. But they were working out their kinks. And although they had been apart, even on the same ship, for a while, they were learning how to make time for each other.::

Ehlanii: Perhaps. We've danced around the edges of that subject a bit but not really thought that far ahead yet.

::Even without a tactile connection, Karynn could tell that the man was weary. He finished his glass of water and nodded.::

Cody: I did once. But I put my career ahead, and she felt the need to move on.

::His statement got her thinking. They had almost been separated. Ethan had been assigned to transfer to the Independence, and accepted while she was still on the Ronin. Through the good fortune of fate, she had transfered soon after. Neither of them were particularly career minded, but they had both attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. She had seen couples split, like Idril and Danny and even temporarily Ben and Ro, and sometimes had to wonder if settling down was even possible in Starfleet.::

::He coughed and shook his head, startling from her own thoughts and bringing her back to the conversation.::

Cody: Maybe one day I'll bump into someone and we'll sneak around vying for some alone us time around all our missions here.

Ehlanii: It's not easy, vying for attention. I'm still working on that skill... well, art really.

Cody: How so, if you don't mind me asking?

Ehlanii: We've gone weeks without really seeing each other much, were almost split by transfer orders, and have had our own share of nasty fights. But somehow we've managed to stay close.

Cody: :: softly :: It does go the other way, too. I don’t know... think us Commander types have a shot?

Ehlanii: I think its possible although I admit the only real role models I have are Captain Walker and Ro. And their relationship isn't necessarily for everyone. Most others I've seen reach a rank this high seem to be split apart.

Cody: When I first met those two, he was already chasing her, or vice-versa. :: with an equally split grin :: Matter o' fact, I still have a wood cask tucked away of some scotch Ro and I brewed. That must have been at least two and a half, three years ago.

Ehlanii: So why did you ask about Ethan and I?

::She studied his face, as she sipped her own glass of water. He seemed to look behind the counselor for a moment, before returning his attention to her and offering his empty water glass for a clink. She responded in kind.::

Cody: Because, it's comforting knowing such things are possible. Those of us aging bachelor-types begin wondering if we're doomed. :: letting his smile fade :: On a serious note, because I want to see you two succeed. As I find myself more often alone of late, I'm discovering how much such things, like what you and Ethan share, matter.

::Karynn smiled slightly. It was good to know that someone higher up than her was looking out for them. She half-wondered where Ethan was, knowing she was planning to meet him later that evening.::

Ehlanii: Thanks. I appreciate knowing that someone is cheering for us.

::There was a moment of comfortable silence. Although often such moments were awkward, the two officers were becoming comfortable with thinking quietly together. After a bit, the blue-eyed man spoke again.::

Cody: If you sat in the chair, would you send him in to a potentially hostile situation off ship knowing he might not come back?

::It was Karynn's turn to look through him, as she pondered his question. She'd not been in that position before, having, until recently, always been outranked by him. In general, she had avoided thinking of such a possibility.::

::In the past, she had watched him leave on such a mission. And at least once, she had been on a dangerous away team herself. They had even gone together. She worried every time it happened. But at the same time, they were both Starfleet officers. They had made certain promises and agreed to the risks. Although they were concerned about each other's safety, their was an implicit understanding about their job. She could understand when he was put in dangerous situations.::

::But could she actually give the order? She focused back on the man in front of her.::

Ehlanii: I... I don't know. I've never had to before. I'd want to say yes - that it's a risk we both agreed to take when we joined. But watching him go and actually giving the order are two different things. Could you, if you were in my place?

Cody: Hrm... as a certain young Miss who not long ago made me think I'm not a half-bad dad, I'd really be hard-pressed to let B'Sara anywhere near a phaser... assuming she could convince me there was a practical reason for her to have one. There's no way in hell I could send her into such a situation.

::She nodded. He had a point. And when push came to shove, she didn't know whether she could. She thought about the last mission - how just before loosing consciousness she had ordered a man in her department to go with the away team - a command that almost killed him. She shuddered slightly.::

Ehlanii: Before this mission, I'd never given any sort of order like that. But then you asked for a science officer and I sent Ensign Welling. I didn't even think about how dangerous it was...

::The man in front of her arched an eyebrow. She knew the look well enough; she'd used it in the past. Taking the hint, she just kept going.::

Ehlanii: I didn't know until after I woke up that he has a wife. He had a stab wound through the chest. It looks like he'll be ok but... ::she took a deep breath:: some ways I still feel a little responsible. Especially since I hadn't even gotten to know him before I gave the order.

Cody: I can’t begin to count the number of officers I’ve watched, gotten to know, at least limitedly, to lose them. When I was running as a department chief, I made it my business to know every single one of my crew. Something I’ve haven’t done of late.

::She looked past him toward the door, her vision unfocused, not really looking at anything in particular. After a moment of quiet thought she sighed.::

Ehlanii: I suppose I should take some time to meet all of the people in science while I'm on leave. At the least, I'm going to visit Ensign Welling. ::She paused and then looked at the First Officer.:: What do you say in a situation like this?

Cody: You say glad you made it through, job well done, and next time try not to damage yourself too much.

Ehlanii: :: she arched her brow:: Isn't that a bit flippant?

Cody: ::with a smile:: Treat it respectfully, with a touch of humor, and understanding it may only be the first of many. You learn to trust your officers and let them solve, or resolve, the issues that come up. But we never say that. It’s implied in our meaning.

Ehlanii: How do you break the ice?

::His combadge chirped. It was a signal, whether she liked it or not, that their meeting was going to be interrupted. His blue eyes met her green, as he raised his hands in a powerless gesture. He took a deep breath in and winked.::

Cody: If nothing else, find something Welling likes, and sneak it to him while he’s in Sickbay. I found a certain Acamarian had a preference to a particular brandy I try to keep a small stock of. :: making a face :: Now I’m the only one drinking it. Go figure.

::It was a unique opportunity for the counselor. So often she was the one giving advice. But here was a chance for her to get some. She nodded in understanding and smiled back at him.::

Ehlanii: I'll keep that in mind.

::Rising the other man tapped his combadge and nodded.::

Cody: =/\= Go for Cody. =/\=

Independence Comstat: =/\= Commander, incoming call from Wheeler. =/\=

::David frowned.::

Cody: =/\= I believe Captain Mar is still on board. Redirect to her location. =/\=

Independence Comstat: =/\= Negative, Commander. Captain Mar left on a family emergency. =/\=

::She could see his concern as the two officers looked at each other. He shook his head and pressed a finger to his lips - a silent request to keep what she had heard quiet. She nodded in implicit agreement.::

Ehlanii: Take care, Commander. Make sure you get some rest.

::As he left quickly, she heard the beginning of his conversation...::

Cody: =/\= I’ll take the call on station as soon...=/\=

::Karynn got up and looked around. She should be meeting Ethan around here somewhere soon...::

The End

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

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