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Counseled and Cleared

Posted on Wed Jul 22nd, 2020 @ 9:36pm by Lieutenant JG Raul Castillo
Edited on on Thu Jul 23rd, 2020 @ 1:24am

Mission: S1: Prologue
Location: Earth | San Francisco, CA | Starfleet Command Medical Complex
Timeline: Day 1 at 1500

[February 1, 2158]

“So, Mr. Castillo, we both know why you are here, no?” the man sitting in the comfortable arm-chair asked. He was aging, balding, and even sitting it was obvious he’d developed a paunch. The office was nicely appointed, and had various pictures, and pieces of art scattered here and there that gave one a feel for the man who had chosen them.

Raul nodded, he couldn’t very well disagree. He’d been coming to this particular office building at Starfleet Command for the past week, ever since arriving back on Earth. “Yes, sir, we do,” he said, his deep voice seemingly being swallowed up by the plush surroundings of the office. It gave him an odd feeling. He was used to being in the metallic environment of a starship, where at certain times, especially when it wasn’t busy, a voice would ring, and echo strangely. Nothing in this office could ever hope to replicate that.

“Good, good, I just wanted to clear that up,” the man said, leaning forward and tapping something into the control pad on a chunky grey box sitting on the table between them. It emitted a series of chirps and then fell silent. “Interview Final, Subject Lieutenant Junior Grade Raul Castillo, currently under consideration for reassignment to UESF active duty. Doctor James Orwell interviewing,” he said, speaking very clearly, and a bit louder than he’d spoken before. Then, leaning back, he looked over at Raul and smiled, “There we go, and now you know my name. Feel free to call me James, or Counselor, if it will help, but let’s get started shall we?”

“Yes, sir,” Raul said, in response. He’d been through an endless series of counseling sessions on the way back to Earth. All of the survivors had, well those who could at least. Some of them had been so badly injured they weren’t even going back to active duty, and so they had been offered counseling, but it wasn’t required, and most hadn’t bothered. Raul, always nervous around doctors to begin with, had sometimes wished it hadn’t been a requirement for him, but here he was.

“So, the Adirondack, what can you tell me about how you are feeling about that topic, Raul?” Dr. Orwell asked.

“How I’m feeling about the topic?” Raul asked, fixing his eyes on the floor and leaning forward, elbows on his thighs and hands clasped between his knees as he pondered the question. “Honestly, I’m feeling pretty fucking shitty…” he said, his voice trailing off.

“Understandable, but go on, what else?” Dr. Orwell asked, trying to prod him into talking.

Raul looked up, raw emotion in his eyes. “Have you ever seen a ship go up, Counselor? Have you ever had to watch as people you knew and worked with went up with it, while you ran away?”

“No, son, I can’t say as I have,” Dr. Orwell replied, his face a placid mask of empathy. “But we aren’t here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you.”

Raul nodded, “Yeah, I know. I’m sorry,” he said, and then shook his head, leaning back and crossing his arms across his chest. “It’s horrifying, and it makes you feel like a monster,” he added.

Taking a deep, calming breath he continued, “We were attacked, without warning, without even knowing we were anywhere near an area where Romulan activity was likely, and it was savage as hell. They opened up on us at point blank range. I don’t even know how many casualties happened just at that first attack.

“Then, they came around again, and Captain Clements gave the order for us to abandon the ship. I didn’t want to go, but he threatened to drag me out of my seat if I didn’t get off his bridge, so I went. The last thing I saw was him sitting down there in the chair I’d just gotten out of, and working the helm controls himself, trying to give us time to get to the escape pods. We barely made it…” he said, trailing off as a lump rose in his throat.

“Take your time, son. I’ve got all day,” Dr. Orwell said, and then poured a glass of water from the carafe on the table, and handed it to Raul.

Raul gulped a large drink of the cool water down, and then gave him a weak smile. “Thanks,” he said.

Dr. Orwell waved it away and motioned for him to continue.

“I was on one of the last escape pods. When it shot away from the ship I could see the others glittering in the reflected light from the explosions and weapons fire as the Adirondack and the Romulan vessel traded shots at one another. But then, everything stopped. I moved as much as I could until I could see outside and I could see why. The Adirondack was crippled. She was listing badly, and plasma was venting from the nacelles. There was no return fire from her, and lights were blinking off and on across the whole ship, and then they just went out. A few seconds later she went up in a blinding flash of light as the containment fields failed…

“We crashed across a three kilometre spread of a nearby planet, and spent the next two and a half months fighting to survive until a Vulcan ship was able to locate us and get us the hell out of that shithole.”

Dr. Orwell nodded, “I imagine that had to be incredibly difficult.”

Raul furrowed his brow. “Difficult? Yeah, I guess you could call it that. We were just glad that it was semi-habitable. Made staying alive a lot easier. Our science officer didn’t make it, and we didn’t have any good scanners by the time we collected all our gear, so we pretty much survived off of field rations and what water we could boil for safety, but it is what it is I suppose.”

“And now, how are you feeling now? Are you motivated to get back on a ship, and get back to work?” Dr. Orwell asked.

Raul didn’t even hesitate, “Absolutely, yes. We’ve got work to do, and I want to be out there doing it. This war is going to take every man and woman available to turn the tide in our favor.”

Dr. Orwell nodded again, pursing his lips. “I’ve read over your files with Dr. Satek,” he said, pulling them up on a bulky PADD he picked up from his deck. “For a Vulcan he is quite eloquent. States that you were likely suffering from a classic case of survivors guilt, and possibly PTSD, though he felt the latter was unlikely with how well you were progressing. I’m paraphrasing, of course,” he said, glancing up from under bushy brows. “All in all, however, he seemed to think you were likely to be one of the first of the Adirondack’s crew that would warrant reinstatement.”

Raul gave him a rather surprised look, “I wouldn’t have expected that. He certainly didn’t seem impressed with my progress during our meetings.”

“Had much exposure to Vulcan’s son? They aren’t the easiest people to get to know,” Dr. Orwell replied with a kindly grin. “In fact, they’re damn near impossible. But Once you get used to them, and it does help if you share a field of interest, you notice things others might miss. Satek was actually quite impressed with you, and it was quite clear he was hoping to follow your career as it progressed. He even gave a letter of recommendation to Starfleet Command that you be evaluated for reinstatement as soon as possible.”

That was most shocking of all, and Raul’s face made that obvious. Eyes wide, jaw agape, he was stunned into silence. “So…” he managed to get out, afraid he was misunderstanding.

“So, with that recommendation, and my own, you will be returning to active duty. This little discussion was just a formality.” he said.

“I knew before you walked in here today that very little was going to alter my decision, unless you’d come in and just fallen apart. We desperately need able officers out there fighting. So, Lieutenant, be on the lookout, unless I’m very sorely mistaken you should be hearing something by the end of the day, lunchtime tomorrow at the latest,” Dr. Orwell said, standing and extending his hand.

”Welcome back to the fleet, Raul,” he added with a smile.

“Thank you, Sir!” Raul replied, standing as well, and taking the offered hand, shaking it vigorously.


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