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JDL | Lt. Ra'lin Sha'mer & LtCmdr Ethel Baul | "Psych-out"

Posted on 242002.01 @ 11:35 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer

Mission: Lacuna

Ra'lin had returned to the Vindicator, somewhat reluctantly leaving the planet behind. Unlike her mother, who loved outer space and who deep down still considered planets 'gravity wells' even after living on one for decades, Ra'lin loved being on planets. The varied landscapes, the joy of actual weather instead of crafty holodeck simulations, the smell of fresh air never failed to exhilerate her.

But duty was duty, and when duty required her to report for her mandatory yearly psych eval, she just beamed back to the ship and reported to the counselor's office. Another thing in which she differed from her mother – the elder Sha'mer avoided counselors like the plague.

She ran a hand through her short hair and touched the door chime. The new counselor was one of the persons on board Ra'lin had seen a few times in passing – in the rec hall or in one of the observation lounges – but she'd never actually met her. Her reports were efficient, short and to the point, but revealed little of the personality of the writer.

Well, the psych eval would probably be the same as always, a routine chat of maybe fifteen minutes. Which was good, because she had plans on the planet for later today.

Like Ra'lin, Ethel had been enjoying the chance to escape the litany of reports and the mockingly redundant quality of life aboard a Starfleet vessel. To some, the routine was welcome and needed in order for them to get by with day to day life - everything regimented and heavily scheduled down to the most minute details. Sometimes to the point that she got the distinct impression that certain individuals even penciled in bathroom breaks and left nothing to chance or natural methods. For someone as free and wild and relatively care-free as herself, it left her feeling relatively trapped. The planet allowed for bits and pieces of freedom - even if they were punctuated by taking chances to dig deeper into Ivanova's life and psyche as seen through those closest to her.

This next poke and prod job was going to be interesting to say the very least. Telempaths were a dangerous breed to operations such as hers, but tr'Bak had ensured her that he'd taken care of it. So far... So good. They'd passed in the halls a handful of times, but never truly gotten down to conversation. Either way, it appeared that Ivanova's yeoman was blind to the counselor's nefarious intentions.

"Lieutenant Sha'mer," she greeted the appearance of the woman with a pleasant smile and ushered her in with a gesture of one of her hands, "You have impeccable timing. Please, have a seat. Would you like a beverage? Coffee maybe?"

"Raktajino, please," Ra'lin said, settling down into a chair. "Extra strong, extra sweet." She studied the other woman as she moved towards the replicator and placed the orders. She had an interesting mind, with extremely little spillage. Very calm and disciplined for a non-telepath. Maybe that was part of counselor training? It was certainly intriguing, and restful. Ra'lin noticed that her own impulse was to relax her mental shields in response, but she resisted that impulse. It would not do to relax discipline, no matter how tempting.

With a smile, Ethel made her way to the replicator, "I'll make that two, It's been a minute since I indulged." Hell, she couldn't remember the last time she supposedly indulged at all. It left to question just how often her mark ordered something like a raktajino - a reminder that more research was necessary if this was going to happen without a hitch and without more loss of life than necessary. A short second or two later, the replicator beeped and two glorious mugs sat steaming for her retrieval.

"I've heard that you've been on this ship for a minute, taking over for another yeoman that left to follow the former executive officer." Ra'lin's mug was set down on the desk space in front of her on the counselor's return trip to her the safety of her chair, "How would you rate your experience so far?"

Ra'lin gave a slight shrug. "Well, this is my first posting as yeoman anywhere, so I don't have much comparison material. But I like it. It's a big ship, so there's lots going on at all times. And the people here are nice." She wrapped her hands around the mug and took a sip. The hot fluid burned down her throat and settled into her stomach, a warm kernel of energy like a miniature sun.

"I've noticed that yours isn't an isolated sentiment," Notes were worthless at this point in the game, allowing for them to fall happily into less sterile communication, "I have to say, so far, I'm inclined to agree as well. Vindicator isn't like anything else I've encountered in my career."

"Really?" Ra'lin asked. The atmosphere on the Vindicator always reminded her much of what living on Trilista Colony had been like, at least where the interaction of the people was concerned. "What is the standard you've encountered, then?"

"Well..." Ethel shrugged, setting her mug down and scooting closer to her desk, "For one, people seem a lot more comfortable with the command team. I wasn't expecting that given the reputation the precedes Commodore Ivanova." She chuckled lightly, almost sheepishly, "The command teams I've been exposed to previously have always been rather unapproachable and just downright... I don't know... Kind of abrasive. People worried more about their own sixes where Vindicator seems to operate more like a family."

"Have you served on many other locations?" Ra'lin asked. What the counselor said sounded far out of her experience with Starfleet, but she immediately conceded that her experience was very limited. USS Vindicator, a brief spell on Cold Station Theta, Trilista Colony, Raven Station… that, and the Academy, was pretty much it.

"A couple. I was on the Grissom for a minute before the war and then stabled on Earth Space Station. Both were pretty fast paced and neither were overly friendly or left room for the slow and steady sort of practice in patience needed to be a counselor." Ethel's reply, at least to her, appeared flawless. Off the cuff, easy, information readily available, "It was either Vindicator or the Leyte Gulf and I chose Vindicator because... Well... Reputation." The counselor added before picking up her mug and taking a sip, savoring the flavor and feel of the hot, sweet beverage. It was something she could easily get used to.

"You seem happy, though, would you agree?" Perfect question, "Or maybe 'secure' is the better descriptive term."

Ra'lin giggled. "My mom works on Earth Station. She, ah, isn't overly fond of counselors." She wondered if the two women had ever met. If they had, the encounter would no doubt stick out in the counselor's mind.

"I must have gotten lucky and avoided that particular hit." Smooth as butter, punctuated with a bit of a chuckle and a shake of her head, "Your mother's reputation precedes her, maybe even more than the Commodore's." Ethel all but snorted. "But back to the question at hand, are you happy here on Vindicator? With your career?" with Rochelle? went without saying or mention, of course, but it was there and sitting on her mind.

"Daunting, is she?" Ra'lin tried to get the grin under control, with only limited success. "I'm not that bad, though. At least, I don't try to dodge every psych eval. Um, yes, I'd say that I'm happy here. It's a good ship and I have no complaints. Well, other than having to hound some department heads to get their reports in on time, but that's part of the job description." There was that grin again. With some department heads, it had become a kind of game.

Ethel nodded, maybe a bit too emphatically, "Daunting would be the understatement of the century, I'm pretty happy I never was tasked with wrangling her." The rest slid like water under the bridge, a nod here, pleasant smile there, and they walked along that perfect path with nary an issue to be seen, "I'd say that you seem to appreciate that game. Perfect candidate for it. What about life in the private sector? I don't mean to pry but... Well... Yes I do. I kind of have to."

Ra'lins mind flashed to the plans she had for the rest of the day. What was first a residual grin now turned into a more gentle smile. "No complaints on that side, either. I have made friends here. Which is always a good thing, right?" she added. The last question just kind of slipped out.

"Absolutely. All work and no play makes for a dull life, or so the old adage goes." Though the counselor couldn't quite tell if this particular 'experiment' was work or play. Surely Ethel enjoyed working on the fly, sleuthing on her own and adding bits and pieces to the masterpiece that was to come, but there were times that sitting down and jibber jabbering over the mundane seemed almost comforting. "How well did you know Commander Neyes?" She heard herself asking, "I've read through his notes and records, he seemed to have a remarkable hand over most everything." aside from Rochelle, she thought, mentally scowling at the lack of attention and detail. It made sense, in its own right, that he wasn't exactly keeping minutes during their meetings. How could he? He was in the middle of it all.

There was a ripple over the counselor's mind – hard to define, quickly gone, but something had momentarily ruffled that tranquil surface. Ra'lins words? Something else, the direction of the counselor's own thoughts? The next question threw her. "Commander Neyes?" Ra'lin blurted, trying to keep up with the other woman's train of thought and totally losing it. "Why do you ask?"

Ethel shrugged, insinuating that the question that was merely that... A question, "He was the former counselor. I've been going over a lot of his previous notes and I just wonder what the man was like. Have I touched a sore topic?"

"No?" Was that the cause of the ripple she'd felt a moment before, the Commander? Why? "I've never really met him, so I have no idea what he was like. Maybe you ought to ask people he worked with?" She shook her head. "I never had any psych evals with him, this is my first mandatory since I got assigned to this position."

The counselor granted another nod, "You make a good point, but I figured it didn't hurt to ask since you were in front of me." She blinked, taking a brief glance down at the empty PADD sitting on the desk, and defaulted back to the raktajino. There was something amiss, something wrong. She could see it in the way the the yeoman's eyes lit up and shifted color - barely perceptible, but it was there. You don't survive in a world like Ethel's without noticing little things, hidden tells, and she knew there were little warning bells going off within Ra'lin's noggin. "Anyway," she added with a flippant roll of her free hand, "What do you do in your free time?" Back on track she went.

This time it was Ra'lin who refused to let go. "Because of his connotation with the Commodore?" she asked. Though she wasn't really staring at Ethel with her eyes, her mind was fixed on the other's. Was the counselor hoping, implying, that Ra'lin would talk about things which might have been told to her in confidence?

It wasn't an unnatural way of thinking. Ethel wouldn't be the first to probe into the content of readyroom talks, and she most likely wouldn't be the last, either. But still, despite her bubbly exterior, Ra'lin only talked freely about things concerning herself, not about matters others had told her.

The Raktajino was set back down, and Ethel forced to focus in on the telempath, "I'd prefer not to discuss other patients." She replied, albeit a bit carefully as if not to offend the woman, "I'll admit a little curiosity given the nature of current events and how the crew's dynamic may have been impacted by the Commodore's divorce from Captain Neyes, yes. I know that Commander Neyes left in order to treat his brother. Certainly that has to have caused ripples somewhere."

"Then I suggest you ask the persons involved," Ra'lin said coldly. "I am not one of them."

With a tilt of her head, Ethel examined the suddenly frosty little yeoman. It was a critical gaze marred only by her own level of intrigue when it came to how protective the crew was when it came to the Queen of their busy little hive. A brief smile flashed and the counselor shook her head, "I don't mean to pry. It's just my job to make sure that the crew is in good emotional health and I know how traumatic divorce can be for a family, which is what the crew of this ship seem to operate as."

Ra'lin straightened in her seat. Right now, if Ethel had indeed met Ra'lins mother, she would have no doubt that this was her daughter, sitting here. Calmly, with no particular emphasis, Ra'lin said: "With all due respect, Commander, your second statement contradicts your first. You do mean to pry. Only when you find severe faults with the crew's mental health – a deterioration over the last few months which cannot be explained by any other events than a breakup which happens in the Commodore's private lives – are you entitled to ask these kind of questions. Now, I have no doubt you will find some people in this crew have suffered, have possibly been traumatised, over the last year or so. I equally have no doubt there have been other events which provide an adequate explanation. Ma'am."

"If you think I'm here to find fault with the Commodore, you're totally mistaken." A finger pointed towards the ceiling in vague gesture to where the Commodore usually roosted up on the bridge. Chances were she was back on the planet and working steadily to seal the deal between the Federation and the Ascendancy - something she'd not been instructed to care about and thus she didn't waste the energy to form an opinion on, "I commend your desire to protect and serve Ivanova. I commend her ability to keep this crew alive and functioning. My job is to make sure that everyone stays relatively put together mentally and that no one is focused on something off task that could otherwise cause a distraction in the middle of an emergency. That's all. So... You can stand down, enjoy your drink, and know we're on the same team." Sort of. For now. For now was a much better way of putting it, even if Ethel was beyond impressed with the loyalty her doppelganger's crew showed her. It would be hard to assimilate unless everything was absolutely perfect - and perfect it simply must be.

"I was not talking about finding fault with the Commodore." Something had ruffled the counselor's feathers, and again Ra'lin wondered what it was. This time, though, that thought took a backseat to the current discussion. "I'm talking about you looking for traumas for the crew as a whole – the 'family' as you put it – as a result of things happening in the Commodore's private life. Well, you'll find traumas in this crew, as you would with any crew if you look hard enough. I do believe it's your task to assess whether they are there and if so, help the people deal with them. In that case, finding the origin is relevant. I can tell you I have suffered no traumatic effects during my stay on the Vindicator myself." (Having been beaten to a pulp and nearly freezing to death on an alien world deep in the past never crossed her mind. Since that event had brought her and Craig together, it hadn't left a residual mental trauma anyway.) "So, if there's anything else I can help you with, Commander?" By now, Ra'lin began to think there were good reasons for her mother's distrust where counselors were concerned.

"I was insinuating that you care about members of your crew, especially the rather rude departure of Captain Neyes for reasons such as ---" Ethel sighed and held up a hand, "It's admirable that you wish to protect them, but you're protecting them from the wrong person. I'm not JAG and frankly I couldn't care less about things outside of psychological ramifications. I'm not at liberty to talk about what happened the last time Captain Neyes was off the vessel, but I'm sure you've heard stories and conjecture ---" Another sigh and this time Ethel shook her head, bit her lip, and forced a smile, "Anyway, yes. You're free to go."

"Thank you, Commander." Ra'lin rose from her seat and walked back without a backward glance. She wondered if there was something connecting the counselor to Captain Neyes or his brother. Maybe the two counselors had worked together in the past? Certainly she had been quite insistent regarding this subject.

Maybe the Commodore could shed some light on this. Still mentally scratching her head, Ra'lin walked over to the readyroom and touched the chime.


Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer
Captain's Yeoman


Rochelle Ivanova (MU)
Tal Shiar Agent
- aka -
Lt Commander Ethel Baul


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