Making right on promises, Astraea seeks out Kamran for an appointment. It's not easy and she finds herself agreeing to more.
Location: RP Room 4
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1486
Kamran doesn't exactly have a proper office, but he has a small room adjoining sick bay that may or may not have been a storage closet before. But at the moment he has a few folding chairs and a table that he uses for a desk, and that's about as good as anyone can expect on a ship in wartime. He is busily filling out some paperwork at that table now.
Freshly returned from her 48-hour pass, Astraea is still not yet cleared for duty. It leaves few excuses, at this point. She made a promise.
Dressed in her duty uniform, the pilot knocks lightly at the door with her off hand. When she leans inside, the light bandaging can be seen on the other. "You, uh, got a minute? Th' nurse said ya didn't have any patients right now an'..." She leaves the words hanging, unsure what to say next. Instead, Nova just takes a further step inside to linger, somewhat awkwardly.
Kamran looks up from his papers and smiles at Astraea, face all open friendliness. "Yes," he says. "I've got plenty of time to talk. Why don't you come in and have a seat?" His invitation comes with a gesture and then he's sweeping the papers into a neat stack to set aside.
He'd know. Know that she's one of the ones who had been captured by Cylons on Sagittaron. Chances are, there may have been notes to demand a visit if she didn't make one of her own accord. Those captured weren't gone long enough to be a true risk for any sort of indoctrination, but it's still harrowing. It's still a high risk for PTSD. It's still a reason to make sure everything is... right.
There's a glance to the chairs and Astraea takes a deep breath before closing the hatch behind her and angling for one of them. She takes a seat, bracing forearms against her knees as she leans forward. "I... ain't good at this sorta thing. But someone made me promise I'd come by." She looks up to Kamran with a small shrug.
"There's nothing you need to be good at," Kamran assures Astraea. "For most people, the hard part is coming in the door. Now it's just talking. So. Why are you here?"
"Uh-huh." Astraea takes a slow breath, picking at the bandages on her right hand with her left. "I ain't really a fan of th' talkin' part." She chews at her lower lip for a moment, considering. There's an overall downcast bearing to her; shoulders slumped, eyes dark, and even her uniform isn't properly pressed. It's fairly wrinkled, in point of fact. The pilot finally takes another breath, forcing herself to look up once again. "'Cause I told someone I'd try. I... I don't wanna talk about it. I don't like... goin' back there. I jes' wanna try to forget an' move on, but... everyone says I can't."
Kamran brings a notepad closer to himself so that he can write something down, but his attention hardly leaves Astraea. "Well, you haven't forgotten so far," Kamran says. "So maybe we can find different ways for you to move forward, if trying on your own isn't working for you. You say you don't like going back there. Does talking about what happened feel like going back?"
"Hard to forget when people wanna ask 'bout it. Or... th' way folks look at ya in th' corridors." Astraea lifts her left hand to rub at her face briefly. "Jes' thinkin' 'bout it feels like goin' back. I know..." She takes a deeper breath. "I know it wasn't real, but it might as well have been. I remember it clear as any other memory."
Kamran nods a little. "Unfortunately we can't control how others react to the things we've been through, either," he says. "So let's talk about why remembering it is so terrible for you. What feelings do you feel when you think about it?"
"What, no... requirement that everyone leave me th' frak alone?" Astraea's attempt at humor falls flat because it's clear a part of her really wishes that were actually possible. The woman lets out a sigh, back to picking at the bandages. "A lot. Too many. Fear. Confusion. Hurt... an' I guess a bit of... I dunno... I saw home briefly. I ain't seen it in... since a few years before th' war."
Kamran smiles gently at Astraea's wishful joke. "Okay," he says. "There are a few things for us to talk about there. Let's talk about fear first. What is the fear of, exactly, if you think about it?"
The pilot makes a sound that might be frustration. It comes from the back of her throat. She leans over, bracing elbows on thighs and burying her face against her hands. "Ain't that obvious?" Astraea sounds annoyed, but lets out a slow, shaking breath. "They kept us in cages. They were experimentin' on us. They got in our heads. It's... frakkin' terrifyin'. An' I'm constantly scared I'm still there."
Kamran doesn't seem hurt by Astraea's annoyance. He makes a couple of notes. "I don't think you're unreasonable for finding the situation frightening," he clarifies. "But sometimes it's helpful to pin down /exactly/ what the sources of fear are. It's like when you go to see a horror movie, the monster is much less frightening if you get a full look at it in good lighting. It's at its most frightening when we just catch blurry glimpses of it." He looks to Astraea's face. "So let's talk about the fear that you are still there."
"Right. 'Cause seein' a Centurion in good lightin' makes it less scary. You ever actually seen one, doc?" Astraea sighs, closing her eyes. She knows she's not going to manage to avoid the topic. No matter how hard she tries. So instead, she takes a moment to think. "They... made me feel like I was livin' in... not th' past, really, but however they got in my head, it was so frakkin' real. It felt so real. An' I'm jes'... not always sure this isn't some other simulation."
Kamran doesn't answer the question. Shrinks are probably trained not to respond to challenges like that. He instead gives her time to think and respond. "It must have felt very violating for them to have tampered with your perceptions in that way," he says. "How long did the illusion seem to last?"
"Frak me, you make it sound like nothing. Tampered with my perceptions." Astraea makes a frustrated sound, shoulders tense. She takes a slow breath, trying to calm. It doesn't entirely work as the exhale shakes just as much. "Not long. An hour or two? I... I freaked out an' they said somethin' 'bout it bein' a partial success. I woke up in a cage."
"What words would you like me to use to describe it?" Kamran replies in an even tone. At he answer about the time period, he says, "Do you think it is likely, if they were capable of a sustained illusion that lasted completely without interruption for days or longer, that they would have let you witness the outside of the illusion in that way after just an hour or two?"
"I don't know, but not gentle ones like that." Astraea snaps at Kamran before her shoulders slump in silent apology. "I... I dunno that it was outside th' illusion. It might be a part of it. Lemme have this... or what they think is a perfect world an' when I reject it, thrust me int' this instea."
"I wasn't there," Kamran says. "So I'm afraid the only words I have to go on are what you tell me." He looks Astraea over. "If this were a world in which they did have such incredible and sophisticated control as to make this detailed and unbroken illusion for you, and there is no outside of it to you, then that means that, for better or worse, you have to live your life in the reality where you are. The truth is, none of us have any assurance that our experience is really real. But if it's the only one that we have, then we have to live it the best we can."
As Kamran speaks, Astraea studies him with a growing suspicion. And discomfort. She squirms in her seat, leaning back a bit and casting a glance towards the hatch. "That... sounds... like y'want me t'be complacent. They said- they... they asked what they could do t'make it better, th' illusion." Her jaw tightens. "An' now you want me to jes'... accept things, if it is?" Her breathing quickens, eyes widening a touch. There's panic rising in the pilot. "Why do this... why not jes' kill us?"
"I wouldn't want you to be complacent if it were an illusion, but I don't think it is," Kamran answers calmly. "I certainly can't guess what their motivation would be to do something so strange as this. Possibly they are looking for a way to incapacitate our soldiers. Possibly as machines they are looking for ways to exploit all the emotions and memories they lack. I agree with you that it is disturbing." He folds his hands. "Why do you think the illusion that they attempted on you failed?"
It doesn't settle Astraea much. There's still terror and uncertainty in her mien. She tries, though. The woman leans forward, folding arms at her abdomen. She takes a few deep breaths to try to center herself. It works a bit. At least she's not on the verge of hyperventilating anymore. "Frak," she whispers to herself. Then again, "Frak." She's shaking some, but finally risks a look up at Kamran. "'Cause it was wrong. They... put me in a memory from my past an' changed it. An' it was... wrong."
Kamran nods gently. "You know who you are," he says firmly. "You said it felt real, but in the end you knew the difference between real and unreal." He looks Astraea over. "I think it's also important to say that you have every right to take the time to let yourself feel all of the many complex emotions that an experience like this can bring up. I'm sure that besides the fear and confusion you mentioned, you also may feel grief or anger and...sometimes pilots and soldiers are encouraged to keep a lid on those feelings to continue functioning on the battlefield. But this room can always be a safe place for you to give vent to those emotions anytime you need, whenever you're ready for that. As long as you don't smash up my table and chairs or hurt either one of us, then you can express yourself however you want and it doesn't need to leave this room."
"Uh-huh. Express myself 'til you decide I ain't fit for duty an' report it to th' brass." Astraea doesn't look like she trusts this offer in the least. The woman shakes her head. "I don't wanna.. feel or express. I jes' want it all gone. I wanna forget. I wanna go back to normal. I wanna be back in th' cockpit. I don't want..." she's at a loss for words for a moment and finally just gestures broadly. "this."
"I don't think there's an option to undo it or banish it at a stroke," Kamran says. "/That/ would be a false reality. Unfortunately, when you experience something this terrible, the only way out is to work /through/." He sits back a little in his chair. "You wouldn't be declared unfit for duty for having feelings," he says. "You would only be declared unfit for duty if your participation in combat would be dangerous to yourself or others. And I'm sure you don't want to hurt your fellow Timber Wolves or the war effort. So let's work from the assumption that we're on the same team."
Biting at her lip, Astraea is quiet for a time. She continues focusing on her breathing, perhaps out of a fear that she'll start to lose it again. After a couple minutes, she finally nods slowly. "Fine. Alright. Whatever gets me back in my Raptor again."
"I realize that this is our first time talking about this," Kamran says, maintaining an expression that is solemn, but open. "And you don't have any reason to trust me with something this important, yet. But I hope you'll give me a chance to help you. I'd like to see you twice a week. We can meet more often if you'd like. My door is always open to you."
When he mentions seeing her twice a week, Astraea lets out a sudden laugh. It's a bit of a hysterical one, but it doesn't last more than a few seconds. "Are ya serious? Twice a week?" She looks at him for a long moment and deems that yes, yes he is. The pilot leans forward, burying her face in her hands. "Frak me. Is that an order? Do I have to? 'Cause I really... really don't like talkin' bout this. To anyone."
"I realize that," Kamran replies. "But I think sometimes the most effective medicine can be bitter." He makes a note on his sheet. "I don't want you to have to spend more time here than necessary," he says. "But I think that what you've been through needs to be dealt with. I will provisionally clear you for combat as long as we can meet on that schedule."
"Frak me," Astraea repeats, closing her eyes as she buries her face against her hands. The woman is quiet for a time, letting out a low breath. She doesn't want to do this, at all. That's abundantly clear. But her need to be back in the cockpit is stronger. When she finally leaves back, it's with a defeated sort of expression. "Fine," she says, lowly. "Twice a week it is."
"Try not to take it as a punishment," Kamran suggests. "I want you to get to that place where this isn't so painful for you. Ultimately I think we have the same goal."
There's just a grunt, at first. Try or not, it certainly feels like one at the moment. No one likes being made to talk about things. It's worse when it's trauma. Astraea leans forward, hands at the edge of the chair; one gripping harder than the other. "Hopefully," she says finally. The woman takes a slow breath before looking up at Kamran. "Is that... all today? For now?" She looks hopeful.
"Yes," Kamran answers without keeping Astraea in any more suspense. "Thank you for coming in and giving me a chance to help," he says. "I'll see you soon."
A look of relief floods across Astraea's features and she leverages herself upright. "Great. Good." The woman starts for the hatch, but pauses. "I'll..." she fumbles over the words before finally giving a small shrug. "Thanks for clearin' me." That's one down. Now she just has to get medical clearance for her hand. The woman turns then, swiftly making her exit.