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In Hushed Whispers

Posted on Sat Jan 11th, 2020 @ 12:44am by Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder

Mission: Searching for the Lost
Location: Counselor's Office
Timeline: Mission Day 5 at 0430

"Why do you think it is that you prefer holographic counselors over flesh and blood counselors, Jonathan?"

The engineer looked the woman in the eye, and exhaled sharply out of his nose. It was a loaded question, and one he'd skated around before in his counselling sessions.

"Easier to shut you off when I get tired of you, I guess," he responded.

"No, it's not actually," she responded with a smile. "In fact, during a counselling session, the patient has no authority to either alter the holoprogram or to de-activate the program. And moreover you know this, Jonathan. It was elucidated to you when you opted for this form of counselling."

"It's not my fault this damn ship can't keep medical staff on hand for longer than a week," he replied, with more force than he intended to. "Counselor E'nai was skilled, compassionate, and sensible. And she transferred off when we put into dock. I'm a newcomer on this ship, I don't know barely anyone, and I was just starting to trust her. I'm really not willing to put forward that kind of effort again, to develop a personal relationship with someone who's just going to transfer off the ship when they realize they didn't want to be at the ass end of the galaxy after all, tuck tail, and go crawling back home to the warm embrace of the Core of the Federation.

"The Gamma Quadrant isn't for soft people, and we seem to have had a slough of them transfer off the ship when we put into port. So forgive me if I feel like for the sake of my own mental stability I'd rather talk to a damned hologram that at least remembers what I told her yesterday and doesn't have to look through my chart to pick up where someone else left off! Also, not for nothing, what an absurdly humanist point of view for you to take. Flesh and blood versus hologram? You know damn well the differences are nominal."

The woman sat unflinching, a playful smile on her face, for several moments before responding.

"And you know damn well I don't care about any of that. I was just asking a question, Jonathan. Some people use holographic counselors to avoid having face to face conversations with those they consider to be real. Your general moral compass around what sentience is aside, it's a cause for alarm in the profession. I'm required to ask, because if it seems like you're coming to me rather than a member of the crew, it's a sign of isolating yourself. So maybe don't get up in arms about a simple question, when you know what the nature and meaning of it is."

Jonathan sighed, and leaned back in his chair. "I'm sorry," he replied. "I know....I know."

"Your point is a valid one though, Jonathan."

"I'd really prefer you call me Jon."

"Fine," she replied almost immediately. "Your point is a valid one, Jon, and I don't mean to trivialize it. It's just there are no absolutes in this field, and it's important we get the easy and stupid questions out of the way. And we have. So you can relax a little. are you holding up after your recent away mission?"

Jonathan bit the inside of his cheek in thought for a moment. He had tried to put the rescue mission out of his mind, and throw himself into his work as best as he could, to varying degrees of success.

"I try not to think about it most days," he responded. "And that's not me being cagey, doctor, that's the truth. You know my record, you know the things I've been through. I can try to process it all I want to. I can rage against...whomever. I can cry until no sound comes out, but none of it can be forced. And...I'm not gonna force this. I'll come to terms with it, but it's not something I can do over the course of a day, or a week. It's just something I have to work through. It's terrible, you know? Being a new face, being sent out on my first in-command away mission under this command, and having it...just..."

"It didn't fail, Jon. You saved the people you went over there to save, and the security team knew the risks. It's their job."

"My job to make sure we all made it out, too," he responded. "But like I said, it's not something I'm going to force. I'll deal with it in its own way, as it comes."

"And what if it comes while you're in the middle of a battle, on the bridge? Or what if it comes when you're fist deep in the warp core trying to make urgent repairs?" the counselor queried.

The chronometer sounded, and Jon rose to his feet. As he approached the door, he turned and replied, "That's been a risk since the Dominion War. So it goes. See you next week, doctor."


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