USS Adelphi


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Post 11 - Soft Words

Posted on Thu Oct 29th, 2020 @ 2:48am by Captain Björn Kodak & Lieutenant Emni t'Nai

Mission: Episode 2 - The Next Phage
Location: The Briefing Room
Timeline: Following Post 4 - The Weight of Nothing

[Briefing Room]
[Following Post 4]

The briefing had been long. For good reason, but long. And the assembled crew members had all scattered to various corners of the ship to prepare. Some to ready equipment and give orders to the next in their chain of command. Some to their quarters to prepare messages for family or friends, just in case. Still others were gearing up to visit Sickbay for cosmetic surgeries--for some their first ever such experience.

Emni was doing none of these things. Instead, she was lurking. Or, as she preferred to think of it, waiting patiently in an slightly awkward location. That she was lurking for good reason didn't entirely alleviate the discomfort of looks given by crew passing in the corridor or of the young man entering the briefing room to complete the post-meeting clean up.

And what if having an empath inquire after his emotional state is more upsetting than helpful? she asked herself. It was certainly possible the Chameloid would be uncomfortable speaking with her on so personal a topic. But she somehow doubted such emotions would be readily offered up to Counselor Karim and something in the melancholy of the captain's emotions had made her pause and turn away from her immediate route to Sickbay.

Sighing she shrugged off the emotional question. Dobbison had just left, his cart bearing the remnants of their meeting provisions. She nodded to him as he went offering a weak smile and waiting for him to move down the corridor before slipping back into the briefing room. Captain Kodak sat at his spot near the end of the table, an untouched pastry on a plate in front of him, his elbows propped on other side of the small plate and his fingers clasped with his two pointer fingers steepled and pressed against his lips.

"Captain?" she inquired as she entered.

Kodak looked up from his steepled fingers -- a focal point for his deeper thoughts -- as the new Chief Medical Officer once again entered the Briefing Room. "Ah, Doctor," he rasped, pulling his mind back to the present, "what can I do for you? If you're here for another lemon bar, I'm afraid Dobbison just cleared them away. And this one," he smirked ruefully, "is already spoken for." His thoughts were tinged with a little bit of good humor, though their playful color could not hide the much deeper concern brewing underneath. Something an empath like t'Nai would no doubt pick up on, even if the Captain himself wasn't willfully advertising his worries.

"Ah, no sir." she said chuckling quietly. "They were lovely and I wouldn't dream of coming between my captain and such a lovely confection."

"Well then," Kodak half-smirked, "I suppose I needn't guard this thing like a dragon to his hoard." Chuckling lightly, he pushed the plate further away. Truth be told, he didn't have the stomach for something so sweetly tart at the moment. Wouldn't exactly play well with a stomach upset with some degree of worry for his officers and his own resentment at having to stay behind.

Emni moved into the room to stand next to the captain not waiting to seem overly informal, but also knowing that the reason she had come back to the room was, by its nature, an informal matter. Although the captain's signature humor tinged his emotions it was a weak candle next to his usual good humor. Instead she felt the well of dark worry flow out and over as though spilling out of an over full bucket of dark water.

"May I speak freely sir?" she asked.

Thoughts of the lemon bar were left far behind as t'Nai was suddenly asking if she could speak her mind. His posture becoming more rigid, the Captain nodded and said, "Of course, Doctor. Please do," he invited, gesturing to the chair next to him should she want to sit.

Emni slid the chair out from beneath the conference table hoping to get ahead of the withdrawal to formality and anxiety she felt from the captain after her request. It felt like a buttoning-up toward caution--the very opposite of what she was hoping to accomplish.

"Are you ok, sir?" she started as he looked her askance. "I mean..." she hurried on before he could read too much into the question. "You must know that I'm an empath. And part of that is getting to know people's emotional state. Usually people fluctuate within a certain range. But today, sir..." she stumbled over her words for a moment, her own worry that she may be overstepping her bounds briefly clouding her features.

"Sir, today your own emotional signature, so to speak, is rather dark. Sort of a ball of worry wrapped in frustration and discontent." She realized that she had been staring at her hands on the table for most of her thoughts so far. Looking up, she met the Chameloid man's eyes. "Captain, I would be remiss as your CMO, but also as a friend if I didn't ask."

Kodak regarded the young woman carefully for several long moments. Of all the things he expected when she asked to speak freely -- such as possibly admitting she didn't want the CMO job now that it entailed a potentially dangerous mission -- the Chameloid apparently didn't expect to be asked if he was alright. His posture softened a bit as the Captain found himself appreciating the question and the intent behind it.

"I was aware of your empathic abilities. A good skillset for a Doctor," Kodak half-smiled again. "And I do appreciate that those abilities give you some insight into how I am feeling. It's important -- especially now that I've been promoted to Captain -- that I project an air of strength and confidence to the crew. But obviously, you can see through that more keenly than others might," Kodak nodded slowly. "I am alright, yes. But I do admit to having some worries about this mission."

Rising from his chair after so-recently inviting Emni to sit, Kodak moved to the large window showing the starfield beyond the ship. Eyes focused on no particular pinprick of light, the Captain found himself letting a slight sigh escape. "I was supposed to be the Adelphi's First Officer. Part of me feels like it should be me leading our people down there to find the Ocampa. But had our previous Captain wanted to do such a thing, I'd have told him the same thing Lenek would probably tell me: it's not the Captain's place."

His thoughts turned then to Lenek, the Cardassian woman who'd taken up his former position when Captain Harrison departed. Though they'd functioned fine enough together so far, they hadn't really connected person-to-person. In fact, he felt like he barely knew his new XO. And before he could really get the chance to change that, so many things kept popping up that distracted him from getting to know Lenek better. Kodak had hoped that a holodeck adventure might serve that purpose but, alas, that particular outing had been interrupted and now they were all preparing for a mission that would see them severed but for the connection of a comm link.

"It's hard for me to send people I barely know into danger. Especially since I cannot be there myself to protect them," Kodak explained, turning from the stars to face t'Nai. "Yourself included, Doctor. And as a friend -- and I appreciate you extending that particular branch," his smile half-returned, "I find myself disquieted by the prospect that I may not get to know some of you." The implication that someone might not be returning was vaguely inferred in his words but abundantly clear in the emotional waves radiating from him.

As the captain spoke Emni let out a breath she hadn't quite realized she had been holding. She began to let the calm bedside manner that years of medical practice had taught her settle around her shoulders like a comfortable cloak only to realize, as the Chameliod's emotional signature shifted towards a tentative trust tinged with a small relief at sharing his concern, that it wasn't the right thing to do.

Shaking herself mentally, she followed him over to the window focusing in on the complexities of the captain's emotional turmoil that she might normally not bother to internalize. The conflicting waves of his desire to project strength--more than that a level of control--and constraint of his position warred with each other. And there was a genuine sorrow underpinning it all, as though the captain was mourning a loss that wasn't guaranteed to happen.

A moment passed between the two as Kodak fell silent and they each studied the stars beyond the briefing room window. Unlike others on the ship, Emni didn't sense the discomfort many felt with silence and she let that quiet companionship flow around them before speaking again.

"It's funny," she said quietly. "Had you asked me when we set out if I wanted to be CMO I would probably have said no."

She paused a moment to gather her words. "And yet, when you asked it of me, it seemed like an obvious yes. And it still does despite the fact that this isn't the role I signed on for. And with that comes its own set of uncertainties. What if I make a wrong decision? We haven't back filled the ACMO position. What if I don't live up to my role on this mission? What if I am the one unable to bring someone home? What if..."

She turned then, taking the risk that had been building up as she spoke and placing her hand on the Captain's arm.

"You're not alone in this, sir. We go into space with an expectation and come out of it something completely different and new. So often we imagine we are the only ones who feel this way, but I can assure you that you're not."

Kodak's eyes drifted down to consider the hand on his arm. The gesture took him by surprise, really, as outside of being lugged around by a brute on the holodeck or shoulder-punched by Debbie Gless in Ten Forward, the Captain hadn't really been touched by anyone since leaving for the Delta Quadrant. It was a queer thing, having to remember the last time another person touched you...but while t'Nai's touch was not of a romantic nature by any means, the intimacy of feeling her hand on his arm was both oddly out of place yet also welcome.

The Chameloid's startling gold-yellow eyes slowly rose back to t'Nai and, as if accepting that the universe had suddenly shifted on its axis somehow, Kodak found himself thankful for the contact. The look in his eyes reflected that, perhaps alleviating any anxiety the woman might be feeling about risking the touch. And if his kindly eyes weren't enough, the emotions washing off of him could certainly clue her in.

She let her arm fall back to her side. "I can't promise you that any of the concerns you just mentioned aren't founded. But I can tell you none of the emotions you are feeling are wrong. If I thought you had no doubts, no fears, sir, I would find it much harder to follow you. I wouldn't have accepted this appointment. What I'm saying, not terribly eloquently, is that I understand."

"I appreciate your perspective very much, Doctor," the Captain nodded slowly. "It was a big ask of you, I know. But I suppose just as Starfleet is relieved I've taken the Captain's role, I find myself equally appreciative of you. Doctor Grey is great, but surgery is where her heart is. You're doing and," he smirked, "and will continue to do, I'm sure, a great job. I suppose we're all needed in unexpected ways sometimes. And it's how we rise to the challenge that matters."

Emni let out a breath she didn't quite realize she had been holding in. In the space of seconds the captain's emotional make up had taken a significant shift. The anxiety and frustration wasn't gone, per se, but a peace had washed over those emotions muting them like a light shing through sheer fabric. You could still see them present, but it was softer and less painful to look at. The Romulan doctor also found herself thankful that her gesture hadn't resulted in alarm, but seemed to have the desired effect. Touch, after all, was in many ways medicinal.

"Thank you, sir," she said quietly meeting the captain's eyes a moment longer. "I appreciate your faith in me."

She turned back to look at the stars again, contemplating them and lost in her own thoughts just as she imagined Kodak was lost in his own. After a much too short, but comfortable, silence she turned again and smiled. "I suppose I should get to Sickbay then. Dr. Grey has surely gotten the surgical alterations underway by now and I ought to be there to confirm everything after the fact."

With a nod, Kodak indicated his agreement. Though unexpected, he found himself glad for the Doctor's hang-about company. "You're very welcome, Doctor. And I'm sure Commander Lenek will appreciate you making sure her new nose is on straight," the Chameloid softly chuckled. "Should probably get back to the Bridge myself. Lots to do," he said, the meaning of words not at all matching the emotions coloring his mental landscape -- clearly, he meant the opposite. "Best of luck down there, Doctor. I look forward to seeing you upon your return," he nodded before leading the way out of the Briefing Room.

=/\= A post by... =/\=

Captain Björn Kodak
Commanding Officer


Doctor Emni t'Nai
Chief Medical Officer


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