How do you feel about that?
Crisis on the Frontier 4X01
Location: USS Endeavour: Counselling Offices
Timeline: Prelude Mission 4
Leaning back into her chair, Jennifer pinched the bridge of her nose as she wondered, once more, what precisely it was she had gotten herself in for. Gorn...a race she knew so little about but she couldn’t well fob the file in her hand back to her boss...the woman already thought her a raving alcoholic; Jennifer didn’t need to have questions thrown in about her counselling capabilities too.
See this as a challenge...throw yourself into the deep end and learn to swim without a paddle...many more words and descriptions probably existed to describe the situation that Jennifer was in but right now; it seemed that she’d a Gorn to look after. A female alien who was in fact due any minute now.
"Doctor Rigby?" A hissing voice called out to Victoria from the lobby of her office. A hulking green-scaled creature peered around the doorway and locked eyes with Victoria. The top of the Gorn's head nearly brushed against the top of the door when she stepped into the human's office. She ducked her head out of habit. "I'm here for our appointment."
Vikki would have moved to her feet but the sheer height of the new patient was disorientating. Instead the woman smiled as http://www.endeavour.utopia-host.com/nova.php/write/missionpost/454she indicated towards the rooms couch; considering that perhaps the chair might not be a great fit. “Xynys, thank you for being so prompt. Perhaps your quarters might have been a better fit...I apologise maybe I didn’t think our appointment through.”
The Gorn shook her head. "No, no, no don't worry about it all Doctor," She said with a friendly albeit toothy smile. "I've had to spend a bit too much time there for my own good, so any chance to be someplace else is a blessing of the Great Mother." Xynys lumbered to the couch and sat down across from Victoria. It creaked under the Gorn's bulk but remained intact.
"I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, Doctor." She rubbed her hands on her thighs, uncertain of what exactly to do next.
Vikki watched the woman’s gestures as she moved her chair a little closer to bridge the distance and tried to offer even a little reassurance. “Not at all, my door is always open when I be of any help. Tell me how are you today?”
"Happy to be out of my quarters," Xynys hissed with a broad, toothy smile. "I've been cooped up in there too long when off duty. It's nice to be able to wander the ship again on my own time. Though with everything that's been happening..."
“Wander again in your own time? Did something happen to cause you to be restricted previously?” Vikki’s tone stayed calm but inquisitive as she choose her direction carefully. While everyone onboard felt the same about their current situation she preferred to gain an understanding about her patient first.
Xynys bobbed her head. "Yes," She answered. "I had an altercation with a colleague on Tehran Station. He shot me with a phaser. Threatened to kill me. I demanded he stand down. It resulted in a few weeks of off-duty confinement to quarters."
Vikki wasn’t quite certain how to respond to this information, it took a few moments to process the information alone. “May I ask what the altercation was over?”
"I'm still not entirely sure to be honest," Xynys answered. "I was going to a sanctioned fight on Tehran Station. Another Starfleet officer saw me, believed me to be dishonoring the uniform, and shot me twice without warning." She reached for the shoulder injured in the surprise attack and rubbed the spot of the phaser wound. "He threatened to kill me if I didn't surrender. Thankfully Endeavour security arrived to defuse the situation."
Vikki found the situation unusual...from the description the alien wasn’t at fault but off duty confinement wasn’t dealt out easily. “How did the accusation make you feel?”
"Angry at first. I mean...I got shot after all," Xynys said. She wrung her hands and looked down at the floor. "Sometimes I forget that I'm so...different from everyone else here, but when a fellow officer said that it, well, I felt like an outsider again."
Vikki watched how difficult the woman was finding this and her heart went out to Xynys. It had to be difficult living amongst others when she was one of only a very few of her kind serving in the fleet. “Lieutenant JG isn’t it? Your career must nearly span the same length as my own. I’m on my twelfth tear when you include my time at the academy.”
"That sounds about right," Xynys hissed. "I joined in 2384 and did some supplemental course work at the academy." She looked up and relaxed with the change of subject. "Haven't served on Starships for very long though."
The visual and verbal change in the Gorn female was very evident to see, leading Vikki to decide to play it a little safe for a short time. “Was it stations you served on prior to starships?”
"Ground installations at first," Xynys continued. "First when I was in the Hegemony Navy, back before Starfleet. Then some time at Baikonur Cosmodrome on Earth. I used to build starships before I took care of them." A smile tugged at the corner of her lips and exposed her teeth to the counselor. "It's different out here."
“At I guess I would assume the biggest difference being the close interaction you require to have with fellow crew members your in close contact with?” It was all beginning to make a little more sense now to Vikki.
"Close contact. That's one way to put it," Xynys agreed. "And no matter how big the ship is...it always feels small."
“It’s must be claustrophobic in some ways? I assume ops adjusted your quarters to make things more comfortable in your own space at least?” Vikki replied.
Xynys bobbed her head in agreement. "They did the best they can, and it helps." She smiled at the counselor. "Do you feel like it's claustrophobic here sometimes?"
Vikki smiled at the question, used to patients turning things about. It was a good sign...it meant that Xynys was comfortable. “Don’t things always end up claustrophobic when your in space in a tin can with nowhere to hide or to get fresh air of sorts. Such an enclosed space can also often cause you to think of those you take for granted when they are around. Family, friends.”
The counsellor’s face remained passive as the smile lingered on her lips despite her own thoughts drifting to Mike and the twins.
"Well when you put it like that..." Xynys replied with a hissing chuckle. "Do you have family aboard? If you don't mind my asking."
“Not here no, I have a boy and a girl back on Earth with their fathers parents.” Vikki smiled a little as she answered the question, her eyes harbouring the pain she felt at the separation. “And you?”
The Gorn shook her head. "We don't have families like that, but I do have children. How old are yours?"
“Two years old now. Terrible twos as us humans like to say.” Vikki smiled but was conscious that the session seemed to be loosing focus away from the person she was to help. “What do you mean by you don’t have families like that?”
Xynys sucked in a long, hissing breath of air. "We, well, we don't marry or live with our partners or our children." It felt like failure to admit it to another parent even if it was her duty to surrender her children to the state. "We...partner only as long as necessary to have children, and they, well, they are given to the Hegemony to raise. Just as I was and every other Gorn has been."
Xynys Body language, such that it was, and the subtle change of her voice told Vikki everything that she needed to know. “Do the parents have no say in what they would want?”
"No...and that's how its been throughout the Hegemony's history, and, I don't know, I feel like I'm an aberration for questioning it," She professed, talons digging into the carpet. "We don't nurse our young or raise them, but I see all the mammalian mothers and fathers with their children...and I feel like I'm doing it wrong."
“No matter the species you’ll always find that a mother’s feelings and instincts are some of the most powerful a person will ever feel in their life. Your thoughts and feelings don’t sound out of place...it means you love your children.” Vikki’s voice softened, she couldn’t imagine how the woman must feel...all she knew was that having her children taken from birth wasn’t something she would have been able to cope with.
Xynys shook her head. "But...I'm not supposed to feel this way," She said. She thumped her chest with a balled fist. "Other Gorn...other Gorn mothers don't seem bothered by it. I'm the one who's the standout. Why do I feel this way?"
“But who says that they never felt this way? Who says that some, if not all, of the mothers before you felt the same as you do?” Vikki softly replied.
"When I ask...I get strange looks," Xynys hissed. "On Cestus III humans and Gorn live together, but our ways are so different." She shook her head. "Maybe I'm paying attention to the wrong people."
"I can't pretend to know the ways of your people or your culture but let me ask you this...have you tried to tell your feelings to another mother outside of your home world? Just because your thoughts are different doesn't mean they are wrong..." Vikki leaned forward as she rested her forearms against the length of her upper legs, "...our individual thoughts are what make us just that...an individual."
Xynys shrugged her shoulders and then shook her head. She raked her claws against the inside of her palms over and over. The obsidian keratin threatened to tear into the soft scales. "I don't know what to do with them. I...I don't see them. And they don't seem to want to know who I am. How do I talk about them, about my feelings, if I am not even involved?"
Vikki noticed the alien’s hands, concern crossing her mind as she realised Xynys seemed to be getting distressed. “You need to separate yourself from them for a moment and focus on you...focus on how you feel...focus on your own thoughts. That’s what you need to talk about.”
"I feel as if I have failed, but I know that I haven't," Xynys hissed. "I know I have done what I am supposed to do, and, yet, every time I see a mother and child I feel shame."
“Do you know where your children are now? What are they doing in life?” Vikki clasped her hands together.
"Some," Xynys hissed sheepishly. "There are thirteen of them. Five boys. Eight girls. I try to keep tabs on them. One of my daughters is in the diplomatic corps. Another is a playwright. One of my sons, Rex'iss, will be attending the Marine Academy."
“That doesn’t sound to me like failure. As parents we help establish the foundations in our children’s lives from birth. It sounds like the foundation you have given your children is very solid.” Vikki smiled.
Xynys shrugged her shoulders again. "I only knew them for a year and a half before they went away. But maybe it was enough?"
"Eighteen months is more than enough. It was time for them to learn who their mother is...to understand the love and care you have for each one of your children and to take that love and care and formulate a life for themselves and develop themselves as their own individuals. At eighteen months old, trust and instinct is starting to kick in as they take their first steps and trust someone is always there to catch them. Their first word, no matter how silly it may sound, someone that they love will celebrate that they said it." Vikki's voice became animated as she leaned forward in her chair. "Eighteen months may seem so short to us but for a child...it's their world."
"What do you remember about your children at that age?"
Vikki smiled at the question, it didn’t take long to go back to her own children at that age...such a short physical time ago. “Michael was born after Katherine by about five minutes so she’s always been the older and the bossier of my two. As a result, she’s always been the first. By eighteen months she was standing and cruising along furniture, determined to get where she wanted and allow no one to stand in her way. In comparison, Michael was still along crawling, happier to sit and play with his toys but his speech came quicker. If he couldn’t go places...he was happy to express where he wanted to be taken. Determination was high in them both but they had different s ways of funneling it.”
"Did it ever occur to you to give them away?" Xynys asked.
Vikki hesitated as she felt her body go rigid at the question. An anger flashed through her eyes before it was instantly replaced by a deep intense pain that almost shook her. "I already have...they are at home on Earth with their father's parents."
"Oh...I'm sorry," Xynys hissed, sinking back into her chair.
"It's ok...you weren't to know." Vikki instantly knew she'd allowed it to get too person, closing her eyes as she tried to lock back away her own problems. "Sometimes in a parent's life you have to make a choice that for you may not be right but for your children is...no matter how hard it might be."
"Even if it feels wrong," Xynys hissed, her voice trailing off.
It took a moment, but only because the words hurt deeper than they should have to the young counselor. “If it didn’t hurt then how much do we really love our children? While hurt is an emotion no one ever wants to feel it also an answer to questions we have...we hurt because we care and love so badly. Selfishly all we want is to keep our children close and never allow them to move away from the arms of your protection but realistically sometimes to allow our children the chance to grow and to become who they are meant to be, we need to let go and do what’s right for them...not what is right for us.”
Lieutenant JG Victoria Rigby M.D.
Lt. JG Xynys Seltriss