Cochrane finished up his administrative tasks and took a deep breath. Time was always packed and in short supply. Looking at his agenda, he saw a pending appointment with the newly arrived Counselor. “Might be time for a break.” he mumbled to himself and stood up and stretched. Walking from the Ready Room, he surveyed the bridge quickly and nodded to the Lieutenant on watch. He stepped onto the turbo lift and made his way to Counselor’s office. Walking in, he waved at the officer behind the desk as he started to rise. “No, no. Keep your seat, Ensign. I am here for my appointment, when the Counselor can see me.” and he took a seat near a Petty Officer from the Medical section. “Ms. Bat’lan. I hope the day is treating you well.” he said quietly to her.
A moment later, the Counselor exited her office and walked over to the Petty Officer who rose to meet her. She smiled at Cochran, turned and walked Bat’lan to the exit while talking quietly. The medical officer nodded, thanked her and left.
Zef turned back to the man waiting. “Good morning, Captain. I wasn’t sure if you’d choose to keep your appointment or not. Shall we?” She held a hand out toward the inner office where confessions were made and secrets were kept.
Cochrane stood and moved to the door, but stepped to the side. “I think not making our appointment would set the wrong tone for the crew, Counselor. Besides, I wait for at least a week before I start ignoring your appointments.” and he chuckled softly. Gesturing into the open door, he said “After you, Counselor.”
“Thank you.” She passed in front of him and headed for the small replicator in the room. =/\=Jasmine tea, hot. One sugar.=/\= Her gaze caught the CO’s. “Can I get you anything, Sir?”
“Black coffee. Replicator has an entry for ‘Cochrane’s Blend”. That’s fine.” and he took a seat and crossed one leg over the other.
With the drink order(s) fulfilled, Zef took a seat opposite Cochrane. “Just out of curiosity, how did you and your last counselor get along?” On some ships, the crew took their cue from the Captain when it came to mental health, so the question was a barometer of a sort for Rollo’s own information.
“Doctor Grace was solid. We got along pretty well.” and he took a sip of the drink. “I’m not like most Captains, Counselor. At least, not many form the Security Section that I have met. I truly believe that Counselors serve a purpose on star ships. Especially one as far out as we are. Mental health and hygiene are towards the top of my list of concerns. Morale as well. So I will be leaning on you to provide regular updates and insights as to the crew’s overall mental health and morale. And I want to know immediately of any potential issues. I hate being caught flat footed.” and he took another sip and shook his head and chuckled slightly. “Sorry. I have a small problem with leaving the Captain’s work on the bridge.”
Zef nodded. “I can understand that. No matter where I am, I find myself automatically observing people and forming conclusions as to their mental health.” She laughed softly. “Even though an opinion like that usually takes time, its just a natural process I’ve trained myself to do. Examine and assess. I imagine its much the same for you. No matter where you find yourself, you are always conscious of the ship and its needs.”
She paused to sip her tea. “So tell me, how are things for you? Any concerns, personal or work related?”
Cochrane chuckled slightly. “Let’s see. We are the farthest deployed vessel in Star Fleet, isolated and alone for the most part, surrounded by the unknown and already proven somewhat hostile, and we are tasked with mission parameters more suited for a ship that isn’t a science vessel. So no… no concerns here, Counselor.” and he laughed and shook his head slightly as he took a sip of coffee.
She joined him with a chuckle. “Well, I think that says something very positive about you and the crew. If Starfleet assigned us out here, they must think the Manhattan is the ship that can get the job done. Right?” As she learned more about the crew, Zef began to agree with the decision their superiors had made. The ship and officers seemed very capable of the assignment.
“How about your relationship with Cmdr Creed? Do the two of you get along well? How long have you served together?”
Cochrane replied “Oh, I would say we have been together… let’s see… it’s been so long… um… six months?” and he laughed. “I have only been on the Manhattan a relatively short time, Counselor. And this is my first Command. I’m not sure if it was a promotion or a punishment.” and his eyes flashed with a mixture of mirth and anger. “You need to know that I am extremely proud of this crew, Counselor.” and his voice rose in volume slightly and his tone became terse. “But I am also extremely angry and frustrated by Command. They send us qualified personnel, but some of them bring so much baggage with them I’m not certain that they would normally be fit for an isolated duty station. In fact, I know that some of the Admiralty have decided that the Manhattan is a dumping ground for their ‘problem children’. And it pisses me off to no end that these fine and capable officers are being shunted off because higher-ups have decided they are ‘problematic’.” and he took a sip of his coffee.
As one of the Admiralty’s ‘problem children’, Zef looked down at her lap internally acknowledging her status, before glancing up at the Captain again.
A smile crossed his face as he set the cup down. “But I’m not going to complain about getting them. This is probably the best crew in the fleet… regardless of what some have tried to make it. Reminds me of an old Earth vid. It was about World War Two, and group of United States Marine Corps aviators. All of them were trouble makers and had gotten into disciplinary problems. The Commanding Officer was a man named Greg Boyington. He recruited them to fly planes against the Japanese Imperial Air Force. And they ended up being one of the most successful squadrons in the history of the Marine Corps. It was called “Black Sheep Squadron”, and it was a true story.”
She had no idea about the holo vid Cochrane mentioned, but it was really good that he thought his crew was capable and the best. “You have a very positive attitude about those you’ve been assigned, and that’s good. We can all see it from your daily interactions with us.” She sipped her tea and then wrapped her fingers around the warm mug. “Some might be problematic, Captain, but I’ll keep a close eye on them. We should be alright. Most people just want a chance to show what they can do and to have their work appreciated, but a lot of them are misunderstood. You’d think in the 24th century that we’d be passed all that, but we aren’t.”
Zef let a minute of silence pass as they both contemplated their own thoughts. “So what else can I help you with besides watching out for troublemakers?”
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