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Making A Splash

Posted on 23 Jan 2020 @ 1:49am by Lieutenant Commander Tivan & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Epilogue
Location: USS Black Hawk
Timeline: December 2, 2389

It was the best of times and the words of times. For the crew of the Black Hawk, it was a new beginning born from the violent end of the old. For Tivan, it was the beginning of a new opportunity to get ahead of the logs and reports and observe the singularly most significant event in the field of psychology since self-awareness. How will these people recover? Will they? Only time would tell, and Tivan would be an eyewitness.

Transporter energies deposited her onto the forward pad of the Black Hawk's primary transporter room. A large ship, to be sure, a testament to the Federation's enduring mission to explore despite every obstacle. Now that she was aboard, her combadge would've synced to the ship's computer. She gave it a tap.

"Computer, where is the commanding officer?"

The computer beeped, whirred, and swiftly replied, "Captain Geisler is located on Deck Eight, Section Ten, in the swimming pool."

"And here I am without a swimsuit," Tivan mused aloud. "Computer, guide me to the ship's swimming pool."

Tivan loved the water. Her favorite holodeck programs usually featured it in some way. Perhaps it was due to the dry desert climate of Vulcan, or the likeness that water held to the vastness of the unconscious mind. There was never a mystery that Tivan could not appreciate.

Whatever the case, when she came to the pool's edge, she was overcome by the desire to be immersed in it. Looking around, she saw a few swimmers, but none who appeared to be watching. If she were quick, perhaps no one would notice.

Ten seconds and three shed layers later, Tivan dove au naturel into the pool. At first, the plunge into the water was cold and exhilarating, but as she came up for air, the shock had turned to refreshment. After her long journey to the Gamma Quadrant and subsequent navigation through one turbolift and office after another, it felt good to float weightless and carefree -- a beautiful interlude to the rigors of professional life.

Front stroke, forward spin into a backstroke, Tivan kept to herself as much as possible while enjoying the unique amenity not available on most starships. At least, not the ones on which she'd served. The Black Hawk was seeming to get better and better.

One of the few swimmers in the pool was none other than the ship's Captain. He only had a few moments at the end of his shift before he would be expected home, and the sedentary lifestyle he'd lived in the last month or so merely pouring over reports had been getting to both his mind and body. Normally, he would have gone for the gym, but the Black Hawk's pool was an amenity he'd rarely enjoyed. Once the ship resumed patrols, he likely would never be able to come back here, especially not until the twins were at an age where they could join him.

He'd been performing a backstroke of his own, slowly moving from one side of the pool to the other in a casual motion. He was quite comfortable, and mostly relaxed... until he collided with an unknown force. He hadn't been minding his course, a lesson now painfully apparent thanks to the collision with someone else in a different lane.

"Ow!" he mumbled through gritted teeth, wading in the water as he was unable to touch the bottom of the pool. He rubbed the back of his head and turned to face whomever he collided with, only to find that the other person was a Vulcan woman. And one who seemed, if the rippling water could be believed, to not wearing much at all. "Uh..." Harvey stammered. He was unsure what to do in this moment. It was common for several species to cast off attire of all sorts for certain occasions, and the ship's swimming pool certainly afforded such a risk for situations like these to occur. Still, Harvey found himself suddenly uncomfortable. "I'm... I'm sorry," was all he could stammer out. Get it together, Harvey!

"No apology needed," Tivan amiably said as she reoriented herself to an upward position of treading water. "I actually came here to meet someone, but I found the compulsion to take a short dip to be overwhelming. Our collision was, perhaps, the rude awakening I required." She offered a friendly smile as she pulled her hair out of her face and behind her ears. "Would you be able to point out the captain by any chance?"

Harvey's confusion was now compounded. He certainly was unaware that anyone was searching for him, and he certainly didn't recognize the Vulcan's face from any personnel dossier he reviewed in the last few weeks. "You came... to find the captain. And... logically you thought a dip in the pool was... a compulsion?" Harvey blinked at her smile and looked at her pointed ears for a moment. "Romulan? Rigelian?"

"Romulan or Rigelian." Tivan gave him a sidelong glare with mock offense. "Racist much? I happen to be a Vulcan, as my distinctive facial and cranial physiology would clearly indicate." Her eyes flicked downward, reminding her that she was without a swimsuit, her smile turned coy and teasing. "Then again, you might have noticed other physiological features." Now fully aware of Harvey's discomfort but not his identity, Tivan decided to withdraw. "I beg your pardon if I have made you uncomfortable. If you have not seen the captain, though, I should return to my search for him."

“It’s not every day one encounters a V'tosh ka'tur,” Harvey quickly explained. Throughout this brief exchange, Harvey has managed to collect his composure. “Though it wouldn’t be the first time. I had a Vulcan Chief Engineer during the Consortium Crisis, though he seemed to have suffered with emotions more deeply than one would have expected.”

Tivan indulged an eyeroll. It was an unprofessional gesture, but then she had made her first impression with the captain while bare-ass naked, so she figured strict professionalism was perhaps best saved for another time. There was still the matter of the interview, however.

"Yes, some of the more parochial throwbacks on Vulcan might give me the ka'tur label, but I find it categorically illogical to overcome passion by suppressing it. That way leads to psychological dysfunction, even potential psychosis, which is why many Vulcans are forced to meditate more often than sleep. Without regular meditation, kolinahr is useless in the pursuit of controlling the baser self. Passion is best corralled through embracing it, you see, not by running from it, particularly since the subconscious mind does not perceive the negative. For example, if I told you not to think about the naked Vulcan in the swimming pool, then your subconscious mind would fill your mind's eye with just that thought. The only recourse at that point would be to purge one's psyche like a ventilated cargo bay, and that is no way to live."

After satisfying her compulsion to sermonize, Tivan took a cleansing breath. "Of course, since you're the captain of this vessel, if you wish to think of me as V'tosh ka'tur for simplicity's sake, I will not hold it against you."

Harvey took note of the Vulcan's explanation and desire to not be so quickly labeled and shoved into a broad category. Of all of the Vulcans Harvey had met throughout his service, the woman treading water before him now was certainly the most unique, employing a sophisticated dictionary, utilizing atypical Vulcan logic, and embracing emotion. But it wasn't the triple threat that troubled him. It was the dozen sets of eyes that Harvey came to realize that had fixated their attention on Harvey and the Vulcan.

"I do prefer to let individuals stand on their merits, and not on a label, despite what this incident has led you to believe. However, I think it's time that we choose a different venue to continue this conversation," Harvey plainly stated. Whether she agreed with that statement or not, Harvey was the Captain and had a reputation and responsibilities to uphold, and that included being above board with women on the Black Hawk, especially when he had a wife and children to think about. "Meet me outside in the corridor in five minutes."

"As you wish." Tivan spun around in the water and swam to the pool's edge where she hoisted herself free of the pool and back into exposed air. A toned physique rippled beneath her olive skin as she rose to her feet and confidently strut toward the nearest towel rack. She couldn't control others, only herself, and in this moment the emotion she chose, while others watched water drip from her birthday suit, was cool indifference. Some continued to gawk, but most turned away in disinterest or even shame. The juxtaposition elicited a small smirk from Tivan. Irony was so delicious.

Harvey used the opportunity to slip into the nearby locker room where he had stored his uniform. Of all of the things that had happened to him aboard the Black Hawk in the last year or so, this incident with the Vulcan whom he still did not know name or rank definitely had made the top five of his short list of uncomfortable moments. Harvey did his best to dry off and begin getting dressed in his uniform, which today was composed of standard boots, pants, red turtleneck with the gray and black vest, and his gray cover with the ship's patch which would keep his wet hair under control until he returned home.

Despite her display of confidence, it still seemed like a virtual eternity before Tivan had dried and dressed herself. When she stepped back into the corridor, hair damp but no longer dripping, Tivan realized she had beaten Harvey there. Perhaps she had not taken so long as it had seemed.

A moment later, the pool doors opened and Captain Geisler exited. He quickly caught sight of the Vulcan. "Let's start with a stroll," Harvey stated, gesturing for Tivan to accompany him down the corridor. "So what brings a newcomer to the Black Hawk and to seek out its Captain, Miss...?"

"Tivan," she said. "More formally, Lieutenant Commander Tivan T'Yere Ysza'Vel of Vulcan." She dipped her head in respect. "I am a clinical psychologist and researcher for Starfleet Medical. Admiral O'Connell summoned me all the way from Earth in order to evaluate and monitor the Black Hawk's crew on a long-term basis." Her brow lifted in subtle nuance. "You and your people have endured quite the ordeal, a series of unfortunate events. While my task is to assess the ramifications thereof, I wish to assure you that the crew's well-being will be a top priority as well."

Harvey froze in his steps the moment Tivan mentioned Zachary. While he and the Admiral were on good terms, working closely together for a couple months had strained their relationship a bit. Not to mention their history had enough ups and downs as it was. "Za... The Admiral told me he was going to find a new Counselor for us, especially after all the crew's been through. He never told me he'd succeeded."

"Respectfully, sir, Admiral O'Connell did not bring me to the Gamma Quadrant merely to be a counselor. The mandate I was given is more than promoting the crew's morale and mental health, but rather to assess and monitor for long-term effects of the Dolmoqour event and other post-traumatic stress symptoms. It cannot be overstated how significant the Black Hawk's past year of service is to the field of psychology. My duty is to catalog those developments as they occur. That may require a different approach to the crew than conventional counseling. As such, I will avail myself to the Science department when and where appropriate, as I will be utilizing their labs to process studies and predictive models." A smile played at her lips. "Of course, I will also oversee the incumbent counselors and assist where needed."

"In other words, an observer who could pull the rip cord on me or any member of the Senior Staff should we stray from the reservation." Harvey sighed. He knew there had to be some sort of catch with all of this. "You certainly speak of the Black Hawk's last year as something so miniscule. We've endured trauma, hardship, isolation, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I can't promise you that all of the staff will warm up to you. My Chief of Security seeks solace in alcohol, my Chief Science Officer won't talk to anyone unless he's ordered to, and as far as everyone else goes, they've been keeping to themselves when not on duty. How do I know you're not going to file a damaging report after your first round of sessions with everyone?"

Tivan scrunched her forehead and practically giggled. "Why would I do that?" she asked with an amused and slightly incredulous shake of her head. "I could not have a better clinical study if I had set it up myself. On the one hand, there are the survivors, and on the other the new transfers. It's a built-in control group right here on the ship, along with outgoing personnel as additional control variables." Her face turned solemn, but her eyes shone with passion. "I assure you, Captain, that I do not anticipate making any friends in my time among you. It may happen, but ideally I will remain above that. Any sessions I conduct will be either research-based or overflow from the regular rotation in the counseling department. In the event that I come across compromising or unflattering information, it will be added to my study, not reported back to the admiralty at first opportunity."

After her little pitch, she smiled again, pressing the assurance of her words. "I'm on the side of progress, which means I'm on your side too. So...try to relax. If you don't have your mental health, you don't have anything."

One would almost argue that the crew of the Black Hawk desperately lacked good mental health, or any mental health of that sort. Less than seventy had transferred away in the last six months, leaving close to six hundred of the original crew behind. Those that stayed either seemed determined to not let the Convergence Zone get them down, and others felt like they just had nowhere else to go, no one who would understand them. Harvey himself wasn't even sure where he fell in that equation. For now, he just continued moving forward. All he could do was hope that the atypical Vulcan who walked beside him now was a woman of her word.

Harvey stopped at a turbolift junction and pressed the call button since the doors did not automatically open. "Oh, I'll try," he told her. "But don't expect the rest of the staff to do so. Regardless of what arrangement you have with other parties, any reports that you do send on to a higher authority need to cross my desk. And, if there are... any problems... serious problems that come up with members of the Senior Staff, I would appreciate being the first to hear about it. The last thing I need is a visit from Internal Affairs."

"I think that can be arranged," Tivan said freely, though her words slowed to a more careful diction as she added, "in exchange for a certain additional latitude in conducting my study. There may be times when I forego a counseling session in favor of independent, even unorthodox observation. Some individuals may object, but given our mutual understanding, it seems as though I may count on your support in that event." Her mouth was spread thin with only the slightest uptick at the corners. This arrangement was getting better and better every moment.

Why did Harvey feel like he was making a deal with the devil? The turbolift doors opened, revealing an empty car. Harvey stepped into the doorway and remained there to keep the doors from closing. "I'll grant you latitude, but just know, if you put me in a position to defend or choose between you and my staff, I'll pick my staff. Don't force me to stick you in a shuttle and send you back to the nearest Starbase, even when we're sharing a border with the Dominion."

"Of course," Tivan said, dipping her head in a polite nod. "I will expect no special treatment. Just pretend I am not here. It will be better for everyone that way."

"If there's one thing I can guarantee you, Commander," Harvey paused, taking a step back into the turbolift, "is that we won't be able to pretend that you are here. Deck Nine." The doors closed, and the Captain was whisked away elsewhere in the large starship.

Tivan watched the doors close and smiled. "That went well." And she meant it. Breathing a sigh of satisfaction, she turned about and began to make preparations. The road ahead of her was a long one.


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