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Bravado & a Broken Heart

Posted on Tue Dec 17th, 2019 @ 12:38pm by

Mission: What Stalks The Night
Location: Counselor's Office
Timeline: Current

On board a week, but already in a routine. That was always the way of it following a transfer in duty assignment. Zeri made her own routines and despite her easy going nature, those routines usually carried over with each new ship. She found it a necessity if she were to get straight to it implementing the role of counselor among an unfamiliar crew. Do your job, do it with a smile, and do it better with each passing day. That was one of her unofficial mottos. It wasn’t printed on any banners, but she tried to follow it as often as the sentiment occurred to her.

The two officers stood from the couch in unison, one wearing the red of Flight Control and the other, Lt. Zanti, in the blue of medical. Zeri Zanti was long-waisted and long in limb, as if she’d been stretched just a few more inches than the average woman. She wasn’t freakish, and though she was slight of build, she was proportionate, but a rangy woman nonetheless.

“Lieutenant Taylor,” the counselor continued in their easy repartee, “It has been a rare treat sitting down with you today; I mean that. If every man who came through that door had your knack for storytelling, I’d be up to my eyelashes in giddy giggles. You put this smile on my face and I thank you. You have a highly developed sense of humor that any eligible woman would be fortunate to enjoy. I do, however, need to urge you towards discretion when sharing some of those stories in mixed company. Which is to say the crew at large and while on duty or among all but your closest of friends. Not all women find your colorful metaphors entirely befitting of such an otherwise distinguished young man.”

“I’m sorry, Counselor, I didn’t mean to offend…”

She held up her hands and waved away his apology as if he were offering to pay her for kindness freely rendered. “You needn’t apologize to me, Taylor. I happen to enjoy an occasional jaunt into gaudy banter. And had you tried to conceal this side of your personality from myself, you’d have done yourself a great disservice. That said, I do think it would be best, between now and our sitting next week, for you to run the recounting of all of your adventures through a mental sieve prior to uttering them aloud. We don’t want it to feel like censorship or denial of your fundamental persona, but I would like you to accommodate this request and we’ll discuss how these changes may go on to impact other areas of your life. You may find that you enjoy the challenge. But we can talk more about that next week. You have duties to which you must return and I’ve taken up enough of your time.”

The Counselor crossed the floor of her office with Taylor and paused at the door, her hand hovering over the panel that would open it. When she was in an appointment she liked to disable the automatic door, for the sake of privacy and detachment. “I do have to ask, because it will drive me wild with speculative thought otherwise - in your last disclosure, how [i]did[/i] you manage to … maintain your virility through the evening coupled by eight Orion slave women?”

“Well, I may have exaggerated the facts entirely out of proportion. It was actually only two women, or so I’ve been told. Strictly speaking, I wasn’t there.” Taylor wasn’t blushing, but he had his hand on the back of his neck and avoided direct eye contact.

Zanti waved her hand over the panel and stepped to the side. “The truth shall set you free. Now off you go, Lieutenant.”

When Taylor had left and she was alone again, Zeri shook her head at the dubious nature of his autobiographical tales. She wasn’t too concerned; these things tended to work themselves right out once being called on their [i]‘bullshit’[/i], and if it persisted - well she’d deal with that next week. She had more than enough on her plate in the meantime. Zeri sat at her desk and updated Taylor’s file with notes of their session. On her own, behind closed doors without the eyes of the crew upon her, or the companionship of others to bolster her spirits, this tall woman conveyed far less confidence and put-togetherness. She had a melancholy impression about her that saddened her eyes and held down the corners of her otherwise delicate lips.

When she was finished she closed the file and spent time handling a sizable chunk of unremarkable paperwork which seemed to be a staple of the job regardless of the assignment. She could have passed much of it onto the aides and assistant counselors - and she certainly would be doing so in the near future - but she liked to start things off doing her own work. Lead by example and get a feel for the staff [i]before[/i] handing over duties entrusted to your care.

Shortly, a pale pink pile of pelage began to coo from the corner of her desk. Zeri reached over to caress the tribble (don’t worry, it’s certifiably and genetically neutered), thankful for the disruption. It was one of three tribbles in her care; one other being blue and the smallest creature being white. She hesitated to call them pets because she used them in the line of her duties more so than her personal hours, but someone had to feed them and make sure they weren’t directly in harm's way. It was not a difficult responsibility and she often committed them to the care of friends and patients who would benefit from the cooing sounds the creatures made while touched, which had a tranquilizing effect on the Human nervous system. The tribbles had been gifts from her late husband, but the tiny furballs were relatively short-lived so these three she had now were not those originally gifted. Fortunately, tribbles were not terribly difficult to procure and they were darn cute. Paul had always found them delightful, more so than had Zeri. She picked up the lone photo from her desk and gently brushed her thumb across the image of her deceased husband. She’d been married to Paul Zanti for seven years, and his face was always in her memories - far and wide, inside and out. Her Academy years were spent by his side and he, more than any state-of-the-art education, grounded her in the present while he was alive. Now, in death, his memories seemed to transport her back to happier times.

“All my love…” she whispered and placed the picture back in its place, fussing that it should be positioned just so. Zeri then stood from her desk, careful to sign off the work station; securing the personal health data and history of the crew from unauthorized prying eyes. She reviewed the duty roster for the department one last time and content that she was leaving it in good hands with her aides, departed her office and began making her way through the ship.


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