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In Your Head

Posted on 25 Jan 2020 @ 4:54pm by Lieutenant JG Lina Sorensen & Lieutenant Commander Tivan

Mission: Epilogue
Location: Deck 5, Officer's Mess
Timeline: December 30, 2389

The doors to the officer's mess opened with the usual hissing sound and Lina entered. She hadn't been able to sleep - again. So before she would lie awake in her bed just staring at the wall, she had decided to go to the mess.
At that time of night, there were not many people there. Just a few people sat at tables having some conversations.

There were some people she knew, but she decided not to attract any attention and just headed to a table in a rather lonely corner of the mess. She was not really here to talk to someone or meet someone. In fact, she did not even know why she had chosen that destination. Normally she was a very cheerful and social person, but since that incident with the Dolmoqour, she had not been into social events.

Standing out from the already sparse crowd was a Vulcan sitting atop a small, circular table-for-one in a meditation pose. Facing the stars, her back was to the entrance. Yet when Lina approached her lonely corner table, the Vulcan smiled faintly from her adjacent one. "Greetings," she offered cordially with eyes still closed.

Lina stopped and looked at the Vulcan. She hadn't noticed her when she had chosen that corner of the mess, but it seemed that she had noticed her even with her eyes closed. And had that Vulcan officer just smiled or was could Lina not trust her senses anymore?
"Hello!", Lina replied with some surprise.

"How may I be of assistance?" Tivan pressed her lips together in mild amusement. Vulcan meditation was not something one disengaged immediately. It took time to safely return to full consciousness. As such, her eyes were yet

“Of assistance?, the Chief Engineer repeated. She did not really need assistance
- that was at least what she kept constantly telling herself. “If you could turn back time that would perhaps help,“ Lina said trying to be funny.

Tivan kept facing the stars, eyes closed, though her posture fell to a more relaxed position. She was nearing the end of her meditation. "Time is a construct," she said. "A cognitive system to process events. Time does not exist except for in the eye of the beholder. What event are you fleeing?"

Lina shook her head. "Fleeing from something implies that you can actually get away from it. And that's not possible." The smile on the face of the blonde woman had disappeared and had given way to a serious and slightly hopeless expression. "So technically I'm not fleeing.", she added looking out of the window. She had not intended to talk to anyone, but somehow this felt right now.

"That's certainly an interesting rationalization." Tivan's eyes fluttered open and took in Lina for the first time. She slid off her table top and climbed atop Lina's. "An attempt need not require any possibility of success. What inescapable event are you avoiding but not fleeing?"

Lina looked at the Vulcan who seemed to be new on board as it was quite obvious for someone who had been here. "The events that everybody seems to avoid talking about. The things that happened to some of us... during the last mission." Lina's throat felt constricted as she started to talk about the Dolmoquor incident.

"'Us'? Who is 'us'?" Tivan regarded Lina with a measuring stare. "Unless you are a gestalt entity masquerading as a young human, then I believe you are using the wrong pronoun. What happened to you during the last mission?"

The Chief Engineer scrutinized the Vulcan. "I was not the only one who...", she stopped a second and thought about how to put it, "who was attacked by those aliens." Lina started to play around with her fingers. "I am sure you must have heard about what happened on the last mission."
It was not so much a question than the hope that she would not have to tell the whole disturbing story to the Vulvan officer. How did she get her to talk about that incident anyhow?

"Of course I have," Tivan admitted. "It is the talk of Starfleet Medical. The Dolmoqour are everything humanoids and vulcanoids alike have come to fear and dread throughout our storied existence. However, I have yet to encounter any human who experienced something en masse with other lifeforms. Your people do not share experiences firsthand, but only in the telling." Her voice dropped to a lower register, but it still kept its coaxing lilt. "Therefore, humans display a singular psychological tell when relaying information, which is to turn firsthand accounts into second or third-hand accounts, even multiplying singular language into plural, all in attempts to distance themselves from personal discomfort."

While it was stating the obvious, Tivan kept a flow and rhythm to her tone that pressed for an emotional connection where there was no natural one. "What I am saying, Lieutenant, is that your subconscious is so eager to shed and be free of something that it is willing to unburden itself with a caring stranger whose name you have not yet learned. Perhaps you are not ready to consciously face the specific, personal events that you personally faced, but one day you will. And, stars send, I will be there to listen to every word."

Only then did she extend her hand. "My name is Tivan."

Suddenly it struck her as she heard the name. “Of course! You‘re the new counselor.“
Word spread quickly on board a starship. It had not really been Lina‘s plan to talk to the counselor about her experiences, but now she was already in the middle of that conversation.
“Lina Sorensen,“ she replied shaking her hand.

Tivan released her hand after giving a light squeeze. "Enchanted." Giving her a measuring stare, Tivan's mouth ticked up in a smile. "A question for you, Lina. What do you dream of?"

"You mean when I am able to sleep?" she answered rhetorically. It felt as if she hadn't slept in a long time. Only when she was too exhausted, she fell asleep for some short hours. "The last dream I remember was about a Zero-G training. I was outside a ships hull trying to get back to the airlock, but I just couldn't find my way back. And the oxygen level was slowly dropping."
Lina grinned sheepishly. "Now you tell me that this is some weird symbol for me not being in control, right?"
Lina did not want to sound rude, but somehow she did.

"Not out of control," Tivan said with a shake of her head. "Trapped. The difference is that sometimes our sense of control is the very prison we wish to escape." She cocked her head to study Lina. "Surely it would be freeing to just cast off expectations, the impossible standards and ideations that haunt your waking hours, and just be free." Her voice lowered for emphasis. "Might I suggest that part of you wishes to be out of control? I invite you to consider what that might look like, and if it would really be so bad after all."

Lina thought about the words of the Vulcan counselor for a second. Part of her felt sort of trapped in that conversation and wanted to get out as soon as possible, but this time she was able to bite her lip before she could actually say that. On the other hand, she was sort of relieved to talk to someone professional.
"I am trapped in my wish of being in control. Is that what you are saying?" Lina couldn't help but use a satirical undertone. She really felt as if the counselor was totally on the wrong track here. Should she herself be responsible for what had happened to her? For that intruder just imprisoning her in her own body? For misusing and abusing her to mislead, hurt and almost kill people?

"Not a wish to be in control," Tivan said, "but the fear thereof, hence the stressors. It's not uncommon for trauma victims to dissociate from their painful memories by making themselves an observer rather than a participant in their own life. In your case, that was literally true, which means that regulating your emotions, like feeling I'm control, can be even more difficult. Are you in control? What if you're not? How would you know?"

Tivan shrugged. "Of course those are just statistical generalities. Beyond that, I could only speculate since I cannot read your mind. Not from this proximity, at any rate." She teased Lina with a wink. "All I can do is interpret the signs you present. If you wish to unpack your inner conflict, then I'd have to add you to my schedule. Right now, though, I'm feeling starved, so I think I'll respond to that." She hopped to her feet and flashed a sunny smile. "Can I get you anything while I'm up?"

"Erm, no. No, thank you," Lina declined the offer. "I have to get back to engineering. There is still a lot to do." She stood up and took a deep breath. "Thanks, Counselor," she said not being sure that the offer to talk about her inner conflict might be something she really wanted to do.

"It was a pleasure meeting you," Tivan said over her shoulder on the way to the dessert cart. "Live long and be well and all of that." It seemed nearly an afterthought.

Lina's eyes followed the Vulcan counselor for a moment. She was not really sure what to make of her. And she was not sure if she felt better now or even worse - now that all the events had been stirred up again. She sighed and then turned towards the doors. Perhaps she should talk to Alora...


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