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Topic: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor (Read 379 times) previous topic - next topic

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Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
[ Deacon | Hallway | Deck 9 | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow 

March 15, 2381
1000 hrs

To say he was tense would be an understatement.  Bad enough that he woke once more to stare into the monkey face that he wore and the grooming it required so as to meet with the minimum of monkey standards, but now, for the second time in as many weeks it seemed, he found himself moving through the halls on Vector 2 en route to another counseling session, not that he'd found the first to be of any particular value.  Truth be told, he found it not only personally intrusive to have her enter his thoughts unsolicited, but he found her lack of awareness of his people and his culture insulting.  Wasn't it a counselor's place to prepare in advance of their sessions?  That seemed eminently practical to him, at least.

He did his best to keep his eyes to the deck plating before him, finding the distraction of his booted feet and the self-disgust it brought with it better than the perpetual feeling that something was coming for him, that his world lay in ruins and he was helpless at its heart. One hand to the wall to steady himself, he paused, the racing of his now singular heart beating in his chest.  The feeling had come on too easily and that frightened him.  Casting a gaze over his shoulder, he was almost certain that something was there, but what?  The Savi?  No, this sensation predated the Savi, no matter how much he protested.  This was deeper.

Setting his jaw, he braced himself, determined not to give another counselor cause or opportunity to burrow into his subconscious.  If they wished to avail themselves of his inner most thoughts, they would need to pry them from his lips.  He tapped at the bridge of the glasses he wore -- the doctor that had treated him most recently had recommended them as a means to cope with the loss of his ziirgah, taking the edge off the fluctuating level of awareness until he was as empathically blind as the other monkeys around him.  On the one hand, it meant no longer hiding his nascent telepathic abilities for fear of sthondat and the loss of station, but it had been part of him for so long, and now he was without it and it left an emptiness -- a void between himself and others.

With a sigh and a faint shaking of his head, he resumed his march.  K'Ren had done her best to break him from his shell, as the humans would say, as he supposed he should say.  The night before, she and the holograms at engaged in a subterfuge to keep him from Below Decks so that she could prepare a... birthday party.  A human custom apparently, or he might more accurately say a non-Kzinti custom.  Kzinti saw no point in celebrating the day of their birth... who could remember such a day?  Better, he'd been taught, to celebrate and embrace one's accomplishments rather than the accidental happenstance one could not otherwise control.  But, some had insisted, that it was not so much a celebration of years, but of relationships that would otherwise never have existed and the lives impacted.  Plus, they did admit that there was something culturally relevant about this particular birthday -- his 21st it seemed, although the details eluded him.

There was a certain amount of poetry in the sentiment, he supposed, such that he did what he could to participate in the event rather than avoid it altogether.  He found that he did not mind the gift giving either, especially when it came to personalizing their new living space.  It was still very much a balancing act not to dominate their quarters as would be appropriate on Homeworld.  K'Ren needed her own unique space as much as he did.  To that end, he left some elements in the small proprietor's quarters adjacent to Below Decks.  It was ultimately practical, too, should they be caught in a future situation with the vectors so long apart as well.

His glasses granted him a few other amenities for which he was thankful.  First, aside from numbing his ziirgah, the restricted the visual spectrum that reached his eyes.  There was still some faint perception of the ultraviolet and infrared, but prolonged exposure lead to eyestrain and migraines and though he was loathe to restrict yet another sense, he suspected he was far more tolerable without having to operate through nigh constant pain.  But above all else, the glasses provided a faint holographic display intended to help offset his inability to discern the face and features of the rest of the crew, adding simple geometric features in conjunction with a ready display of their name and rank so that he could be assured the identity of those with whom he spoke

Even now, a display rolled across his retinas as he stood before the door.  "Zelosa Ejek," he said to himself.  "Sounds Cardassian.  Well, that should keep her out of my head at least."  And with the tip of his claw, he rang the door chime.
  • Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 09:06:15 AM by steelphoenix

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #1
[ Lt. Zelosa Ejek | Counseling Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @steelphoenix  

Day after day, Ejek had been working hard. This morning was no different. After her usual light breakfast of nothing more than tea, she spent about ten minutes to herself, enjoying the silence, and she was once again busy. There was little time to waste with so much work to be done. She privately hoped that competent counselors would find their way to the department soon--she didn't know how much of this work schedule she could take before she burnt out.

She didn't really have time to wonder either. She had two counseling sessions already, and only fifteen minutes between this one and her next to prepare. Her next client was Deacon, a Kzinti--or formerly one. Medical records had a hard time explaining exactly what happened, but it seemed that he was one of the many impromptu race changes that seemed to suddenly plague the ship. Regardless, Kzinti was his culture, a culture she had never heard of until now. Worst of all, the Theurgy's computers had very little on Kzinti individual psychology, and the bare-boned basics of Kzinti sociology.

She sat back and frowned at the readout on the screen. Hardly anything. Even Efrosians had more data on them, and it was straight up punishable by death to reveal cultural information to an outsider on Efros. She tilted her chair back as she thought...

It would be one of those on-the-fly counseling sessions, she supposed. The first thing she'd have to do is introduce herself, explain how counseling would typically go...Though his file said he had a counseling session before, it was the Federation. As far as she could expect, the counselor could've raped him. She'd treat it as if it were his first. After, she figured she would have to ask why he's coming. She probably could guess, but it's worth asking. Then, bring up his culture. She'd learned the hard way what cultural illiteracy would do in Starfleet. After that...well, it depended on what Deacon wanted. Hell, even her basic plan so far was up in the air. The minute he showed interest in exploring a different topic, she'd have to go there with him.

Clients like this were a challenge. Always. She never knew what she would get. As she heard the chime to her door and she stood up, she wondered if she'd see her Cardassian scales and walk away. At least it would give her 45-50 minutes of free time. She smoothed her hair and skirt and approached the door. She prepared her gentle smile, the door slid open.

"Good morning, I'm Counselor Ejek. It's good to see you, would you like to step inside?" She gestured to the room behind her, still mostly Starfleet standard. Two armchairs at an angle towards each other, a desk behind the chairs, and a swivel chair behind that desk. She finally added a rug, however. Something nice, with warm colors. A gift from Aldea. Anything to make this room look marginally better.
"You'll pardon the drab decor. I've not yet had the chance to decorate with much more than a rug. Feel free to take a seat wherever you feel most comfortable, and I'll explain how my counseling sessions usually go."

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #2
[ Deacon | Counselor's Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow 

Take a seat wherever he felt most comfortable? His ear would've twitch were it still capable of such things.  A cocked eyebrow simply lacked sufficient nuance.  Would he pick someplace uncomfortable?  There were hardly many options available, and all things considered, what exactly constituted 'comfort'?  Had he a choice, he might turn around and head back to his own office for solitude, or, would that such things were possible, catch a flight back to homeworld.

"Deacon," he stated by way of introduction as he stepped into the office, moving quietly towards one of the two chairs, turning his hip sideways slightly as he sat to afford his tail room to move.  Furniture through the whole of the Federation seemed to favor the monkeys-- the more like them you were, the more their culture and society suited you.  He supposed that was a highlight of his day, if nothing else.

He cast a momentary glance at the rug, not so much to appraise it as to judge its owner.  She had, after all, brought it up, and K'Ren and he had been following a very similar pattern.  If nothing else, the ship seemed in a perpetual state of transition between repairs, a rotating crew and the damage inflicted by one hostile force after another.  Fortunate, then, that they'd managed to find a safe haven if even for a momentary breath.  Come to think of it, he could swear he'd seen that same rug for sale a few days earlier when he'd the opportunity to do a bit of planetside  shopping.

Well, he'd made it inside without the counselor drilling into his skull.  So far this session was far improved over the last.

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #3
[ Lt. Zelosa Ejek | Counseling Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @steelphoenix  

He gave his name as Deacon. It's the only word he said. Fair enough. He might be offering her respect, or simply refusing to trust her. Hard to tell. She would find out soon. She took a seat in the opposing chair and crossed her legs.

"Well, Deacon, to start...You may have noticed I am from the Resolve. I still run my counseling sessions just as I did on the Resolve. Most everything you share with me here, stays here, unless you authorize me to release information to outside parties. Exceptions to this are if you disclose to me that you intend to hurt yourself, someone else, or if there is a possibility that a child, elderly, or disabled individual is being abused...Even then, we will talk about it first. I don't simply drop everything and contact my superiors. I like to think I've more tact than that." Some of her ponytail was falling onto her shoulder. She tossed it back.

"To continue, I am a client-focused counselor. This means I am not in charge here." She smiled, "My rank means nothing in a session. You are the expert, and I am simply here to listen and guide you back onto your path as you need it. That means we talk about only what you are comfortable talking about. And we talk--no telepathy, no mind-melding, unless you specifically request it, and there is good reason. Even then, it would require the involvement of a third party." That bit about mind melding was important to add. Especially since the history of the ship included forcible mind melding. Personally, Ejek was strongly opposed to the practice of mind melding in counseling in the first place.

"Now, I've done reading on your counseling file before you came. I see you've been to a counseling session before mine. You're likely already familiar with much of the concepts that I've shared with you just now, as they are the most basic components of counseling, but I've learned during my tenure not to assume. Would it be too intrusive of me to ask how your previous session went...?"

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #4
[ Deacon | Counseling Office| Deck 9 | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow 

She launched into her own introductions when he considered it fortunate enough that he so much as knew her name, and that was more a benefit of the glasses than anything else.  True, Cardassians were sufficiently unlike Humans that he could tell one from the other with a cursory glance, but absent fur, he had only their hair to draw against, and in that, they weren't wholly dissimilar.  This ship was also not so devoid of Cardassians as to make that her distinguishing trait.  That said, he wondered how he would ever know she'd come from one ship or another.  She could just as easily have been from the Versant and he none the wiser.  How she ran her counseling sessions then as opposed to now was a subject of even more profound ignorance, so it was something she herself had wished to expose.  Perhaps verbalizing some consistency in practice, an unstated allusion to prolonged work in the field.

It was this part of his training that he could scarcely shut off. After some consideration following his initial encounter with the first counselor, he suspected that there might be some parallel in his own position as a Black Priest, although he was less inclined to allow the mentally unfit risk danger to themselves or the pride.  In such cases, it was his obligation and his right to intercede, directly with the Patriarch if necessary, to remove such obstacles to the health of the pride.  And yet even as he reflected on his own observations, she set out a pattern of revelations that might otherwise evoke a similar response in her.

Narrowing his eyes, his lips drew into a slight scowl.  Cardassians were not a telepathic species and he was confident in his own mental defenses at the moment, and yet still, the parallels in thought and speech put him on edge. 

She proceeded to make some excuse for her rank, possibly suspecting that he might hold one when nothing could be further from the truth.  His Federation citizenship was merely a fortuitous circumstance of birth, and any rank he once held in the Patriarchy had long since been stripped by his seeming betrayal.  He had no real obligation to respect one rank over any other with the exception of the Captain, to whom he'd sworn his oath of loyalty.  And above his acknowledged patriarch, there was the Fanged God.

And again, there was the matter of comfort.  First comfort in his seating, and now comfort in topics.  If comfort were indeed the point of these sessions, then he had to wonder what idiocy had driven him so far from it.  Was this not, in fact, intended to root out the fundamentally uncomfortable?  To shed light on dysfunction?  To explore solutions?  Why could none of these sessions be straightforward and forthright, he wondered, rubbing the bridge of his nose with the tips of his fingers.

No telepathy or mind melding.  Again, it was disquietingly apace to his own thoughts and his frown deepened slightly.  She assured him that such matters would only be conducted at his request.  Well, she need not concern herself with that as he was quite certain that she could offer no insight, rationale or bribe that would entice such a request.

Finally she turned to the matter of his first session, to whit his eyes narrowed further, flecks of predatory gold swirling amidst the blue, and his scowl firmly sunk into his features as if his face knew no other form of expression.   What did she expect of him?  Some form of false praise of the first counselor who'd already violated several of her tenants within second of meeting him?  Was this a challenge to get him to disclose something fundamentally uncomfortable?

"If, as you say, the point is for my ease, then you would do well to pretend the previous session never took place," he replied, his accent curiously similar to Humans of a particular regional lineage -- British?  "She took the entirety of the session to disclose what you managed in seconds, and with less clarity and having violated several of your principles in the process."  He turned his head to the side to dislodge this unpleasant recollection and the fundamental insult it had been, sitting quietly for a long moment before he turned to face Ejek again.  "So I will begin this again the way I started with her... I was sent here for assistance in reintegrating with my father's people.  At the time, it was intellectual. Now... now it is quintessential."  He again turned his gaze off to the side to maintain the facade of indifference and surety.

Now he wondered when and where the disaster of this session would arise.
  • Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 03:26:39 AM by steelphoenix

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #5
[ Lt. Zelosa Ejek | Counseling Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @steelphoenix  

Deacon made a number of expressions while she spoke. Some of them made her wonder if he was familiar with the workings of the human face. Some of his expressions seemed human enough, others reminded her of a certain felinoid species encountered in hell-sector once, long ago. If she were the sort of woman prone to outbursts of emotion, she might find it intimidating. Thankfully she was more composed than that.

However she was most displeased to hear of the previous counselor's experience. While Deacon sat in silence, she spoke.
"I apologize for your previous experience. It seems the Federation is in the business of placing fools in officer's clothing and pretending it is sufficient." She was trying to allow for the possibility that other counselors were competent by not assuming that they were anything else, and yet, she was continually disappointed. She didn't even expect other counselors in the Federation to be excellent! She simply hoped that they would abide by the basic rules of ethics as set forth by the Federation. She expected nothing and was let down. She picked up her PADD and scrolled through his record to see who the last counselor was, so that Ejek could have that counselor removed swiftly and without mercy--


She placed the PADD back down. "You may be happy to know that your previous counselor has...sustained a serious demotion." A methodical choice of words for a methodical topic. Deacon did not have to know exactly what happened to B'nila. There were more important things to do in this session, like listen now that Deacon began talking again.

Perfect, he wanted to reconnect with his father's people. She was about to bring it up. His body language suggested he was not comfortable engaging with her on an emotional level. Perfectly fine by her. It was the first session after all.

"I see. Who is your father's people, then, and what end goal do you hope to meet by reintegrating with that side of you heritage?" She folded her hands, ready to listen.

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #6
[ Deacon | Counseling Office | Deck 9 | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow 

To her apology, he gave a slight snort, although it was hard to say how much was amused agreement and how much begged to differ.  If so many fools were placed in so many prominent positions, what did that say of his own people that they so readily lost to them so long ago?  She continued, stating that the previous counselor had been significantly demoted.  This seemed a much warranted result of his first session, but he was certain that was more undisclosed in her statement. 

His gaze slowly turned towards her, trying to read her own expression.  Damn the Savi for stripping him of his ziirgah or he could at least empathically discern the meaning behind her words.  He frowned slightly, noting his own hypocrisy, the tendency to fall back on a perception that most others lacked, when he so adamantly refused to allow telepathic intrusion into his own mental sanctuary.  "Tch," he grumbled through his fangs, slight as they were.  This was the part of counseling he most dreaded -- the ever spiraling minefield of dark thoughts that all threatened to swallow him should he stare long enough into their depths.  "I did not wish her dead, if that is what you are not telling me," he finally said, eyes firmly affixed to the corner of the room once more,  It was an elementary guess, given what they had undergone since, and he doubted the wheels of Starfleet justice moved so freely as to demote someone so drastically for general incompetence.

And then came the first of her questions... who were his father's people.  He nearly choked on his sense of derision.  Did no one prepare for these encounters?  Or was this some simple question she hoped to evoke a more profound response from.  He should've thought that it obvious who his father's people were.  "Mon..." he turned, nearly flinging the term at her with indignation.  Monkey, that's what he wanted to say.  That's what any Kzin would say, if they dared admit such mixed heritage in the first place.  His expression soured, his tone quieting, "Human.  My father was human.  I should think that much was obvious," he could not help himself, the final jab necessary -- a verbal swipe at the counselor to set a boundary.  "My mother was Kzinrett.  When they died, I was raised by my grandfather on Homeworld."  He narrowed his eyes, the clear blue that had dominated them now subsumed in predatory gold.  "I am Kzinti."

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #7
[ Lt. Zelosa Ejek | Counseling Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @steelphoenix

Ejek thought it wisest not to mention whether or not B'nila was truly dead. If it concerned him, he would pursue it. She also did not want to risk adding even more grief to his bucket, whatever he carried in it. It was another issue for another time.

It was more important to Ejek to witness Deacon's response to her question. He seemed to flinch. Already, she knew she was stepping on a minefield. He was about to say something, something with the prefix 'mon', but she didn't get to hear the rest of it. He was angry, hurting, he struck back at her, and they'd barely begun. Fascinating.

For her part, she did not flinch, or even acknowledge a blow had been made. Such strikes and counter-strikes are a part of counseling, and she had long ago become accustomed to it. It was how he struck back, and when he chose to do it that offered her far more information than a thirty minute monologue could ever hope to do. Clearly though, she was not going to see change in him in this path. It was time to take the long way around...

"Well, that you are Kzinti was not in question. I've read over your file. However, be it the Theurgy's fault or the Federation's, there's precious little about Kzinti in the ship's databanks. I know that they exist..." She really did seethe over the Federation's absolute incompetence. It made her look like an absolute fool when she didn't have the information she needed before a session. She sincerely hoped Deacon understood. People to complain about the Federation with were so few and far between.

"If your goal is to reintegrate with your father's people, then I would inconvenience you by asking to fill in the information gaps for me." She raised her eyebrows and smiled. His eyes had become golden. They reminded her of a feline's. Not human. Interesting. Her smile felt genuine. Deacon was going to be fun.

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #8
[ Deacon | Counseling Office | Deck 9 | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow 

Fill in the gaps?  That assumed she had a foundation to work with.  Knowing a species exists is about as illuminating as noticing that the sun does not extinguish in the ocean each night... that the breath in your lungs and the gale on the mountain are one and the same... He exhaled slowly, doing his utmost not to tense and snap at every inquiry.  There was a reason behind the collective ignorance of his people and that was shame.  It was one of the few demands the Patriarch had made of those who had so single handedly defeated them so many centuries ago -- steer clear of their borders and forget they had ever crossed with the Kzinti.  Certainly, there was no expectation that they would obliviate all knowledge of their conflict; that they bothered to check up on them periodically was proof enough of this, but those not of sufficient rank -- they were those left in the dark.  No doubt it was more an effort to eliminate the potential nightmare of their populace, leaving them ignorant of a predator species at their veritable bosom; far closer and far less amicable than the Klingons, the Romulans...

Deacon rubbed his forehead with a sigh.  It would almost be easier to let her read the report he had prepared for the captain.  Maybe that would give her sufficient foundation to identify those gaps about which she so liberally inquired.  But that, he knew, was not an option and it alone was solely adequate to illuminate the military machine of his people, and there was so much more to them than that, although that was all most were privileged to see unless they had the fortune of enslavement to the Patriarchy instead of elimination.

When he opened his eyes once more, the gold had subsided to crystal blue behind the glasses.  This one was Cardassian.  He wondered had events unfolded in the Kzinti's favor three hundred years prior, would the Cardassians have seen fit to bow or would there have been a new war?  Three hundred years of history unraveled in his thoughts and rushed to stitch itself together in a flash of what-if's, speculations and hyperbole.  Stop.  He had to stop this blackhole of questioning.

There was an urge to excuse himself again; to give this one time to perhaps educate herself further.  To put context to background.  But that, he doubted, would yield the results he expected.  This wasn't a matter of merely sending out a local inquiry.  Even had they the resources available, all she would have access to is what little came from his personnel file.  No, there was no way out of this except to plod through its murky recesses.  It might have been easier to plead humanity, but then the question remained of why he was here at all.

Treat her as he might a Kzinrett?  The parallel of ignorance was there, sure, but sapience, as he had to remind himself, was another matter entirely.  How and why would he submit himself to such a process conducted by Kzinrett?  It was almost worth reconsidering telepathic intrusion, if only to expedite matters.  Almost.

Finally, he leaned back on his seat and stared at her for a moment.  "Counselor, if someone were to ask you to explain the sum and total of what it is to be Cardassian, without context, without preamble and without guidance, I am certain you would find yourself in as challenging a position as you place me in now."  He needn't point out that there was likely be a particular bias in any recounting, but he suspected that she might find such bias revealing.

"But, to cut to the chase on some elements... think Klingon with a tendency to eat what we kill... Ferengi with regards to our females, but far less egalitarian... and so self-assured of our superiority the Founders would blush... if Founders blush..." he paused for a second to consider the analogy.  With a wave of his hand, echoed by the tip of his tail, he dismissed the notion, "Whatever Founders do. Did.  We'd've eaten the Vorta, that's for sure."

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #9
[ Lt. Zelosa Ejek | Counseling Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @steelphoenix

He was frustrated. She was as well, but her temper was not like Deacon's. He may grit his teeth, sigh, rub his head. She'd simmer. Between the two of them, both of them had a right to be frustrated. Him with her, her with the Federation. She felt it, but it was not important. She shoved it in a box with all of her other non-counseling thoughts.

When he did respond, she was delighted with his answer. It told her nothing of the Kzinti and much of himself, and truthfully it was Deacon who was important here, not the Kzinti. Sure, the lack of information on the Kzinti was a problem, but she'd faced worse. Here at least, Deacon offered her a path. Her response was quick, like a springboard. She had not planned this opportunity, but she would take it when it presented itself. If they were taking the long way around, she would make it as scenic as possible...She'd come back to the main topic later.

"What a contrast Kzinti are. It must be difficult to navigate the very-human culture of the Federation. How have you managed?" She questioned, casually. She could pick up on a particular disdain coming from him. Whether or not she was included in that disdain, she could not tell yet, but at the very least she wanted to explore it. His relationship with the Federation almost certainly had bleed with his relationship with humans, and thus his father. She couldn't touch the father relationship yet. Rapport-building had to come first...

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #10
[ Deacon | Counseling Office | Deck 9 | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow 

What a contrast Kzinti were?  It was a statement nearly sufficient to make him roll his eyes.  When it came down to it, wasn't every sentient species, at its core, little more than a host of civilized savages?  At least, in his own experience, that's what they had all come down to.  Primitive minds that shrouded themselves in culture and higher ideals and ambitions in the false perception that it made them better than anyone else.  He'd yet to find an exception.  In fact, those who took the most pride in their seeming superiority were often among the worst examples of that contradictory nature.

But clearly that observation was but an opening to a question.  How had he managed to navigate the humano-centric culture in which he now found himself.

There were two answers he could give, both equally valid, he supposed.  "I was born here," he replied, eyes slightly narrowed as if to add the subtle jab that his records or accent could have told her that.  "While living on Homeworld, the priests thought it an excellent opportunity to exploit my knowledge of the language and culture for the sake of... research."  Counter-intelligence was more the case, but the statement was not inherently untrue. "I'm familiar with the basics of humanity's influence on the Federation.  Unlike others of my kind, I was trained to use my mind rather than rely on my claws to solve my problems."

It was no less than he had disclosed to others in the past, and yet here, the admission was uncomfortable, revealing.  Still, he had to admit that such information was not so far out of reach as to remain unknowable had she have the persistence of other Cardassians when it came to ferreting out such things. "How do you manage?" he countered, gaze locking once more on her, "You seem wholly Cardassian so I doubt you started on the same footing.  Humanity must be truly alien to you.  And yet you wear the uniform."

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #11
[ Lt. Zelosa Ejek | Counseling Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @steelphoenix

She was pushing him and he was uncomfortable. She could pick up on more disdain, or some sort of general tension. He was getting difficult to read, and him closing off is how she knew she was pushing the wrong buttons. It offered her relief to hear him ask about herself. The chance to self disclose might allow her to build rapport with him.

She kept her hands folded in her lap, allowed her eyes to travel away from Deacon as she thought.
"It certain is...interesting." She began, choosing her words carefully. They had to be just true enough to matter, just false enough to lead the topic where she wanted to go.
"It is but a uniform, is it not?" She smiled, "At the end of the day, the clothing I wear, the speech and mannerisms I take on...they are not me. They are my outer face. Inwardly, I am still as Cardassian as I was the day my planet fell."

"The Federation requires a level of assimilation before they will accept you as one of their culture. Certain ideals appear to them to be...unsavory. And so they'd much rather denounce those cultures as backwards or evil than accept them. Quite ironic, when you see how accepting they pronounce themselves to be...regardless, to navigate Federation society, there are parts of myself that I must make private. The same is true of a large number of non-humans." She allowed the smile to fade...

"I came to accept that the Federation is not my home, but it is where I am right now." And so she ended her tirade, eyes back to Deacon. She was watching for a reaction. Maybe he knew what it was like? Or maybe he didn't care?

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #12
[ Deacon | Counseling Office | Deck 9 | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @FollowTomorrow 

An exchange.  That was certainly better than simply sitting prisoner to this session divulging any number of uncomfortable truths about himself.  It was a human custom that he was far from eager to understand -- something he had honestly hoped to only have to indulge for a session or two at the doctor's suggestion.

He listened as she gave her response, still a touch resentful at the loss of his ziirgah, unable to determine the veracity of her statements as she spoke them, forcing himself to compare he reaction to what he might expect from a standard Cardassian.  He had resolved to make a bit of a learning effort out of the experience, to better himself and his instincts as the recently blind might work to reinforce the input received from their remaining senses.  It was... uncomfortable.  But it was necessary. 

There was a fundamental connection in her words as she admitted her need to self-audit, to set aside those things quintessentially Cardassian to appeal to the homogenized hegemony of the Federation.  It was true that they claimed to celebrate the myriad differences of the various races that made up their particular confederacy, but that was little more than the appeal of the exotic.  That which was too different, that which strayed too far from the conventional norms was to frowned upon.  If they knew half the thoughts that he come to his mind only to go unexpressed...

Deacon took a breath, his gaze cast downwards towards his knees.  Recent events had compelled him to liberate that part of him that likely would be most frowned on at a time he did his most to most blend in.  It troubled him that he had released so much of the control he had maintained since leaving Homeworld.  Certainly, he hadn't admitted anything that would jeopardize the ship or its crew, but the moment required a response distinctly Kzinti.  Humanity was insufficient.

He was silent for a prolonged moment, swallowed in his own thoughts long after the counselor had ceased speaking.  It wasn't that he hadn't heard her but... but what?  His brows knitted for a second.  Was this because she was female and her words ultimately didn't matter to his own thoughts?

Another breath.  Now he was second guessing himself again.  Frustrating humans.  But he had to admit, he needed to fit in... this was his life now.  He could claw and fight and be Kzinti, but he wasn't... not entirely.  That was what drove him from Homeworld in the first place.  He was too Human for Homeworld.  And now he was too Kzinti for here.

"Kzinti... don't trust telepaths," he finally stated after the pregnant silence.  "If a Kzin demonstrates a talent for telepathy... he is forced into the lowest social caste possible... forbidden to mate... denied a name... and addicted to sthondatt for the remainder of his life.   We prefer to keep our thoughts to protect the mask we wear before the Pride, the Patriarch, the Priests.

He lifted his eyes towards a far corner of the ceiling, "The Fanged God demands honesty in all things.  But in the interest of our straakh, we will perpetrate and suffer a great many dishonesties, for the sake of the Pride...  Certainly, where the insult is too great to ignore, we will bear our fangs and roar, strike and claw at those who offend us and wear our scars and their ears with pride when all is said and done.  But in the end... it comes down to straakh and not truth."

Laying his head on the couch's back, his face fully towards the ceiling, he added, "I am a Black Priest.  I should live and breathe the doctrine of my god, but truth is dangerous when unfiltered.  And so we seal truth behind our masks... even here."  It was exhausting, disheartening, and yet oddly comforting in its similarities.

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #13
[ Lt. Zelosa Ejek | Counseling Office | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @steelphoenix

Silence was no longer a source of discomfort for her. So much of communication was done without words, and watching another endure silence was a highly effective way to learn about them. Deacon endured silence only for a short time, and he was the first to break. Throughout, he appeared uncomfortable, tense. She could tell he was thinking, but didn't know what he was thinking about. She wondered how comfortable he was sitting with his emotions...

When he spoke, she hung on to every word. He was making connections. It was progress, and all she had to do was self-disclose. She did not know what the Fanged God was, but she could surmise. And in time, she felt she may hear more. As much as she wanted to be culturally sensitive, Deacon was a tough customer. She had to strike when given the opportunity, or lose it forever.

She nods, her smile becoming wistful. It was a natural movement on her part. She was thinking of home...

"If you were able to witness Cardassia in it's prime, you might see the same principles into play. Truth is dangerous, as you said. A lethal weapon when fully unsheathed. So we must act as if we are less dangerous than we really are if we are to remain a civilized society." She sat back, her legs crossed, her smile gone as she remembered...something. Something that's not helpful right now. Put the memory back, girl. No flashbacks in therapy...

"We all get tired of pretending sometimes." She opened her eyes, her smile returning. "Even the humans, if you can believe it."

Re: Day 05 [1000 hrs] The Art of Tactful Candor
Reply #14
[ Deacon | Counseling Office | Deck 9 | Vector 2 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @LostInTheForest @Auctor Lucan  

Deacon managed to stifle a snort of amusement. He questioned whether humans ever pretended in the first place and, if they were so inclined, what was a monkey when it wasn't a monkey?  It was, as they say, a riddle wrapped in a conundrum and doubtless could be the source of a lifetime of speculation had he a lifetime to waste.  Well, the Cardassians, at least, had apparently given it some thought.

He took a breath wondering if he should ask her insights on the matter or if it was easier to admit that such a thought beggared belief.  A compliment to this counselor, it seemed, that he had found someone of compatible opinions on humanity or at least someone skilled enough to give that semblance.  Regardless, it was a distinct improvement over his initial session.

"I..." A single word was as far as he got before his communicator chimed prompting a deep sigh and drooping of his shoulders.  Holding up one hand to forestall their conversation, he tapped his badge with the other, uncertain what to expect in response given recent circumstances.  "Deacon here."

"Mr. Deacon, this is Lt. Greaves... from Security.  We spoke following the incident planetside two days ago?"

"Yes, lieutenant," he replied, his glasses bringing up an image of the blonde haired human male that had dutifully documented everything about their unfortunate encounter with the Orions just days before.  It was an unpleasant memory that caused a tightness in the corners of Deacon's mouth.

"Sorry to interrupt but we've had a request from the Klingons for more information and we..."

"We're here at their pleasure," he completed, giving what almost passed for an apologetic glance in the counselor's direction, but perhaps tinged with a mild case of irritation.  "Please assure the Klingons that I am on my way."


She'd heard the whole of it so a preamble was hardly necessary as he rose from the couch, rotating his booted ankles for a moment.  "Klingons," he said once he was assured that his feet were ready, "most assuredly do not enjoy being kept waiting.  I'll arrange for another session."  And with a nod, he departed.

== END ==