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Vallor System: Federation/Cardassian Border

Stardate: 53330.1

Tigranian leaned on the window frame and stared out at space.

"I don't know," he said shaking his head. "I know two of my officers already see you to help them fight their demons. I feel like it would make me a hypocrite if I didn't see you as well. My spirituality has helped, but I still have nightmares sometimes. Despite what Laria says, I still feel guilty about what happened."

"Interesting," Doctor Yuvich replied taking a few notes on a PADD. Tigranian glanced over his shoulder at her. Her office on the Pershing stood in stark contrast to the rest of the ship. Several landscape paintings decorated the walls and a scented candle burned brightly on the coffee table next to box of tissues. She had offered the captain a seat on one of her plush couches, but he had spent most of the appointment standing. She observed him from an overstuffed easy chair.

She wore the uniform of a Lieutenant Commander, but she was one of the few officers on board that Tigranian didn't have regular contact with. That is, until he scheduled his first counseling session. It was technically voluntary, but Alex made it very clear she would order him to do attend if he refused.

"Interesting?" Tigranian asked somewhat sarcastically.

"Yes Sir, It's interesting." Yuvich replied smiling. She reached up and pulled off her dark-rimmed glasses. Tigranian took note of the doctor's choice in optometry. Glasses in the 24th Century were as rare as peg-legs. Someone only chose to wear them either because they were allergic to medication or they were trying to make an intellectual statement. The captain figured it was the latter in Yuvich's case.

"Why is it interesting?"

"I'm usually the one asking the questions, Sir," the doctor said raising an eyebrow. "However, since you ask, it's interesting because for the past hour you've talked about your sense of duty as the commander of a starship, your sense of duty as a Klingon warrior, and now you say it will make you a hypocrite if you don't follow the advice you give others."

"Isn't that what a leader is supposed to do?" Tigranian asked dryly before finally taking a seat on the couch. "A leader yes, but I thought the purpose of our sessions would be to address trauma of YOUR experiences in captivity. Instead, we've had a philosophy discussion on the meaning of being a captain. There's hasn't been a lot of YOU in anything we've talked about."

"Being a leader is who I am, I suppose," Tigranian replied trying to conceal his frustration.

"Being a leader is what you do, Daniel. May I call you Daniel?"

He closed his eyes and let the annoyance of her informal address pass. There were only four people on this ship he let address him by his first name: his first officer, his doctor, his wife, and his chief engineer, and then only because they cared for things important to him. He really didn't think his therapist should be in the club, but decided to play the game.

"Sure, Doc," he said with an accentuated pause.

"But I want to know who YOU really are. What are your interests? Your hobbies? What do you do for fun? What do you imagine life will be like after you leave Starfleet? Your career will be over one day and then who will Daniel Tigranian be?"

"Do you want the honest truth?"

"Of course."

"My interests include learning tactics and military history. For fun, I practice Klingon martial arts, read philosophy, and fight historic battles on the holodeck, and after I leave Starfleet, I've always pictured myself retiring to Qo'noS and help my brother run the estate. That is, until I'm called to fight again."

"Fight again?" Yuvich said raising an eyebrow.

"I'm a Klingon warrior, Doc. If I grow old, I've failed."

Yuvich sighed and put her glasses back on.

"I'm not sure your wife agrees with that."

"My wife understands, Doc," Tigranian replied. However, he saw a bit of frustration on her face now.

"I guess you could say that I'm a man of somewhat limited interests."

"I was talking to Laria in the mess hall the other day. She says you like to cook."

Tigranian's eyes grew wide.

"What else did she tell you?" he said nervously.

"Nothing of consequence," she said placing one of the ends of her glasses between her teeth. Tigranian realized there was no point in being combative.

"Well, Yes. I really enjoy cooking."
"And I'm guessing it's not because you enjoy cutting up the ingredients with knives?" Yuvich said sarcastically.

"No, it's not," he replied rubbing his neck.

"Then why do you enjoy it?"

"What does this have to do with helping me get over what happened on Dacen?" Tigranian said glaring.

"I told you. I have to get to know the real you to help. Why do you enjoy cooking?"

He sighed.

"I don't know." He searched for words. "I guess it's because I like making something out of nothing that others will enjoy."

"So you enjoy making others happy?"

"Of course. Who doesn't?" he asked rhetorically. However, Yuvich had an answer.

"Sociopaths, the pathologically selfish, Nausicaans actually believe making other happy brings about depression in their own lives…"

"Commander Yuvich…" Tigranian said narrowing his brow.

"What I'm trying to say, Daniel, is that you are a caring person. You have a warm personality that you show more than you realize, and that means you are a decent human being…"

He looked to open his mouth, but she quickly caveated.

"Who also follows Klingon traditions, I get it. The key to helping you get past your trauma is to help you realize that you are the same person as before it happened. You are not responsible for the actions of others, merely how you respond to those actions. We just have to work on ways to cope with the new normal. Klingon prayers and rituals are very helpful, but you still have a human side whether you admit it or not."

The comm system blared to life.

"Captain to the bridge," Annabeth's voice sounded. "We have a ship on long range sensors."

Tigranian tapped his comm badge.

"This is the captain. Acknowledged and en route." He turned to Doctor Yuvich. "I have to go, Doc."

"Well, we're almost out of time today anyway. Think about what I said and I'll see you same time next week."

"Thank you, Commander," Tigranian replied with a polite nod before heading out the doors. As soon as he was in the corridor, he rolled his eyes.

****

The turbolift doors parted and Tigranian stepped onto the bridge.

"Report," he said headed to his chair.

"Presidential yacht, 'Unity,' on long range sensors approaching at Warp 6," Laria said from Science.

"It's transponder beacon is reading callsign, 'Starfleet One," Katie added from Tactical. Everyone on the bridge took a deep breath. They knew that meant the President of the United Federation of Planets was onboard.

"Alright, Ladies and Gentlemen," Tigranian said trying to remain calm. He tugged on the bottom hem of his jacket. "Our Commander-in-Chief is on that ship. It is our job to ensure his safety. Normally, I would say that 'Failure is not an Option,' but failure is not in the vocabulary of this crew. Katie, prepare salute battery and prep hailing frequencies."

"Plasma flares prepped, hailing frequencies ready, Sir," Katie responded. Tigranian rose to his feet.

"Starfleet One is dropping out of warp. They are approaching at full impulse," Laria chirped.

"Annabeth, put me on shipwide audio," Tigranian ordered.

"Channel open, Sir," she said standing up.

"All hands, this is the captain," he said sternly. "Ship! Attention!" Every member of the bridge crew rose to their feet and clicked their heels together. The action was repeated by ever single crewmember across the vessel. "Present Arms!" The entire crew executed a salute as one.

"Lieutenant Stone, fire salute battery and open hailing frequencies."

"Aye, Aye Sir!" Katie obeyed inputting the commands while remaining at attention. The Pershing's torpedo bays fired twenty-one plasma flares in quick succession, each bursting with a brilliant flash of light two thousand meters in front of their bow. A small, silver diamond shaped craft with two pronounced warp nacelles appeared and responded to their honors by dropping a flare burst of its own.

"Starfleet One, this is the Federation starship, USS Pershing, standing by to escort the President of the United Federation of Planets to Cardassia Prime as ordered,' Tigranian shouted into the comm.

"USS Pershing, this is Starfleet One," the captain of the Unity's voice replied. "President Zife extends his regards to the crew of the Pershing and asks me to relay that he feels nothing but safety in your capable hands. We are standing by for escort and will obey your course and speed commands."

"Acknowledged, Starfleet One," Tigranian replied. "Ship! Order arms!" The crew dropped their salutes. "Lieutenant Lexington," the captain said to Phil.

"Aye Sir," Phil responded. "Starfleet One. This is helm, USS Pershing, turn course 271 Mark 638. Maintain distance, 10 kilometers off port warp nacelle. Prepare to jump to Warp 7 at Time index 3785.54."

"Acknowledged, Pershing. Will comply."

"Lieutenant Stone, close hailing frequencies." Tigranian commanded.

"Hailing frequencies closed, Sir," Katie said.

"Ship, Dismissed," Tigranian said. Annabeth deactivated the comm system. The captain finally allowed himself to exhale. "Ok, everyone, the life of the President is in our hands. Katie, ensure that we can move to extend our shields around Starfleet One in a moment's notice. Keep phasers and quantum torpedoes on standby in case someone doesn't agree with the peace process. "

"Yes, Sir," she responded.

"I don't have to tell you all that anything is possible on the trip to Cardassia Prime. Keep alert, and do what's right."

"As always, Dan," Annabeth said calmly to reassure him. Tigranian allowed himself a smile.

"Alright, let's do it. This summit could mean decades of peace for the Alpha Quadrant."

Tigranian sat back down in his chair.

"Phil, she's yours to fly," Tigranian said.

"I love it when you say that, Sir," Phil replied with a grin.

"Be careful there, fighter jockey," Tigranian smiled from behind him. "I hear the President has a weak stomach and I'd prefer if he didn't spend the trip upchucking into a space-sickness bag."

"Wouldn't dream of it, Sir. Trip is gonna be as gentle as a Vulcan lullaby."

The Pershing and Starfleet One pointed themselves towards Cardassia Prime and jumped to warp.


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