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  Lt. Commander Zarian Lobren & First Lieutenant N'Tazzia, SD
 
"The Gardner Problem" pt 2 JL w/Cnslr N'Tazzia & Ens. Gardner
 
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"The Gardner Problem"
part two
JDL by Lt. Commander Lobren, Fst. Lt. N'Tazzia and Ensign Gardner
(NPC Gardner played by First Lt. Kail)

     Lobren appeared at the entrance to the cell where Gardner was cooling his heels. The Brikarian turned to Taz. "Wait here just a moment."
    The counselor nodded and stayed put.  Maverick sat dutifully by her side.  Lobren lowered the force field and entered the cell.
    "Gardner. On yer feet."
    Laying on the bunk in his cell, his face buried in the pillow, Gardner didn't seem in a hurry in complying to the man's request. With a growl and grumble, he rolled over and stood at the edge of his bunk. "I was sleepin. What th' hell ya wan'?"
    Not wanting to trifle with this sorry excuse for an officer, Lobren grabbed the front of Gardner's uniform and lifted him off the deck, with one hand, as if the man weighed less than a small child. He moved towards the back of the cell, holding Gardner so they were eye to eye. The ensign's feet dangled uselessly.
    "Now. Are ya listenin' ta me?"
    Struggling a bit against being lifted up off the deck Ensign Gardner felt his circulation being cut off a tad. "Yeah. I...I am."  His eyes narrowed at the man, finding that he really was disliking the Chief of security more and more as time went on.
     "Good," Lobren hissed. He kept his voice low, but with a tone that told Gardner he meant business. "Counselor N'Tazzia is here ta see ya. Despite my best objections, she insists on seein' ya one on one, with no protection.
    "I'm warnin' ya right now... Ya so much as make a move towards her in any way, whatsoever, I'll be in here quicker than ya'll be able ta whistle 'Dixie.' An' than ya won't be whistlin' anything fer a long time. Do I make myself clear, Ensign?"
    " Well, sir, " the word 'sir' was dripping with sarcasm, "How's about I jus' save ya th' trouble then. Cause way I see it. I don' need no witch doctor pickin aroun' ma brain. " He smirked, being a smart-ass.
    Lobren slammed Gardner against the wall, forcing the ensign's breath out of him. "Wrong answer, Mook! That woman out there is here ta help your sorry behind, which is a helluva lot more'n ya deserve. Now... I'll ask again. Do ya understand, Ensign?"
    Having the wind knocked from his lungs was a bit painful, considering the brig walls were pretty darn solid. Every bone in his backside screamed at him. "Aye....sir!" Gardner managed.  His eyes pierced like sharpened daggers at Lobren. The ensign figured the quicker the head shrink got in here and did her little brain picking ritual, the faster he could return to his quiet nap that was so rudely interrupted.
    Gardner's look of contempt was not lost on the Brikarian. He stopped just short of slamming the ensign to the deck, but set him down with teeth-jarring force.
    "Ya really are a stupid mook," Lobren muttered and turned towards the cell entrance.

    Exiting the cell, Lobren touched the console, once again raising the force field.  He looked at Taz. "Ya sure I can't talk ya inta takin' Mav in with ya?"
    N'Tazzia shook her head. "Nope. Is he ready for me now?"
    "Yeah," Lobren replied with a sigh of exasperation. "When I put th' force field back up, it'll be sound-proof as well, so ya's got yer privacy, but... " He glanced back into the cell. "I'm gonna be right out here and watchin' every move."
    "That's fine," Taz acknowledged.  She started toward the cell but stopped.  "And Zarian....  I really appreciate you trusting me on this one. It means a great deal." She walked to the edge of the force field. Her face was a neutral as she could make it as she did a quick assessment of the man inside. "Let me in please." She asked Lobren.
     The Brikarian touched the control, and the force field again died. The minute she was in the cell, he reactivated it, with the sound-proofing enabled. Maverick let out a small whimper, watching through the invisible barrier.
     "I feel th' same way," Lobren told his companion, and stood against the opposite wall, watching them.

    "Hello Ensign Gardner. I'm Tazzia." She took a seat and learned forward a bit, looking him directly in his eyes. "Let me start by saying I am here on Captain's orders. I'll be straight with you, things don't look very good for you at the moment. What happens here might have some impact on what happens to you. What you tell me could have positive effect or a negative one on your situation. Do you want to ask me anything?"
    The scowl on Alexander Gardner's face and the narrowing of his eyes was aimed at the Chief of Security, on the other side of the force shield, more than the woman in the cell with him.  All the same, he sized her up when she sat down, seeing she didn't sport points on her ears. That was a plus. "So, Peaches, the capn' be sendin' ya in here ta see ifin ma cheese has slid off ma cracker, huh? Figures. Let me save ya th' trouble. Guilty!  So ya can be leavin' now. Sorry ta be wastin' ya time, darlin'."  He casually winked at her. The ensign wasn't angry with her. It was Vulcans and Romulans he had the issues with. He could have really cared less if the walking brick wall had just snapped his neck and saved a lot of trouble.
     Taz chuckled a bit.  "Peaches?  I've been called a lot of things but that's a new one." She looked at him with curiosity because she could tell his mind was a whirl of thoughts and it intrigued her.  "Why are you so hell-bent on throwing your career with Starfleet away, Ensign?"
    Glancing up at her, Gardner gave her a funny look for a moment, then a little smile crept out.  It was, perhaps, the first sign of an emotion other than anger he had achieved in months.  "I have nothin' left fer me here in Starfleet, " he sighed,  "Anywhere for that fact."  He was suddenly not sure why he was even talkin to her. "Ya ain't th' first Witch doctor..."  He cleared his throat, "... Excuse me, counselor to ask ma that."   The lines on the man's face told a story of pain. Pain of something that he wanted to keep buried.
    "If you've been asked the question before, then have you considered that the answer might be important? And things are not as hopeless as you might think. The Captain sent me here because she holds out hope that we can understand what's going on with you and perhaps figure out a way to assist you with your issues. I'm not here to simply rubber stamp you bonkers and recommend you be drummed out of Starfleet."
     "Little Miss Pointed ears need not worry 'bout my career.She can do wha' she wants." Gardner's whole demeanor changed when the counselor mentioned the CO to him.  He shifted position on the bunk he was siting on. Gardner thought a bit on the rest of the Counselor's questions. "Oh, I assure ya my sanity is quite intact.  I jus' don't like Vulcans and I don't rightly care fer Romulans either."  His voice changed with a touch of venom.  "I have no use fer a woman if ya can call her tha'."  He eyed the woman across from him. He quickly turned his gaze to see if the walking wall was still keeping his vigil. He was.  "Let's jus say I have no use fer them. "
    "That's pretty frank of you to admit that," Taz pointed out.  "I can't help but wonder, with that kind of animosity toward Vulcanoids, how ever did you wind up in Starfleet? Or did something happen along the way to shift your thinking?"   The curiosity in her voice was crystal clear.
    Gardner didn't want to have to go into details on it again. He'd seen several shrinks on the last ship he was assigned before his transfer to the XL.  "Yeah, I say it sur' as hell did. And ya think Starfleet did anythin' 'bout it?"  He shook his head in disgust, "Brushin' it under the rug is wha' they all did. Starfleet and the Vulcan's. Can't trust any of them, anymore. Hell! Starfleet wen' an sendin us out here. They're th' insane ones. "
    "I can see where that could be a sore point for you," the counselor agreed.  "No one likes to have their concerns ignored. But if you can't or don't want to work through the issue, why not just resign your commission? Why become belligerent and violent? And Commander Trellis, well unless I missed a couple of points..."  She touched her ears and smiled. "... He's not even Vulcan and I understand you did a number on him."
    "He jus got in th' way. " Referencing to the altercation with the XO. "He should'a jus stayed outta it. It was 'tween me an' th' kid."  The strong feelings of displeasure over what he did was sinking in.  Gardner had to admit he was a ticking time bomb with a short fuse. Why?  He'd questioned himself a thousand times.  "They killed ma family.  Is that incentive enough to dislike em'?"
    Gardner pushed himself back further on the bunk, after he bluted it out.  He had not spoken of it since Starfleet and the Vulcan government closed the file on the case over a year ago.
    Taz's eyes widened. "I'd say yes. Quite enough incentive to cause you to dislike and mistrust those who did it. I do wonder why you would paint all Vulcan's with the same brush? Was it because you feel justice wasn't served?"
    Raising his voice a little without really meaning too, Gardner snapped a look over to the Counselor.  "Yeah!  They could'a cared less bout my wife and son that was among the two hundred of those killed on th' transport. Vulcans're all the same. Happened in my grandfather's time an' they're still lying ta us, ta this day!"  Gardener grit his teeth, scowling.
     "Losing your wife and son must have been awful for you.  I won't pretend to understand how you must have felt, But tell me this. Do you sincerely believe what you are saying about Vulcans is true or are you just furious with the entire debacle?"
    Gardner took in a deep breath.  "Well let me see...Yes. " The same smart-ass attitude was back, then he seemed to have second thoughts.  "No. I...don't know!  I jus' see this Vulcan woman in charge and she ain't actin much like a Vulcan, in my opinion. If she was she would'a used that logic crap an' not put a messed up kid like Kail in charge of a major department.  A child fer goodness sakes!  Kid goin' get himself..." The look on Gardner's face shifted to a look of worry as he clammed up.
     "Let me lay out a theory for you here. Yes, it's some Counselor mumbo-jumbo but see if it makes any sense. You're most likely experiencing an extreme reaction to the grief over the death of your family. It's not uncommon to lash out at those who you hold responsible. In this case, Vulcans, and to some degree Starfleet. Do you think just maybe this describes what you've been going through?"
    " Maybe," Gardner said, thinking it over.  "I guess. I...jus' don' know anymore. " He was once an outstanding officer, respected and now he's been reduced to a drunken, disorderly mess of his former self, stuck in a brig cell talking to a Witch Doctor.  A pretty one at that.
    "There is life after loss," Taz pointed out. "The road there can be difficult and most often it requires you get some help. Yes, I know that can be a bad word for some people because they feel it implies weakness. But it doesn't, Alexander.  It just means you are human. And it also means there is possibly hope for you and your career. If you want to travel down that road with me, I believe I can convince the Captain to give you another chance, but you have to want this. And you have to be willing to put in the work."
     Hell.  He wasn't even sure if he wanted to live and she was asking this.  All of a sudden something snapped in his head.  A moment of clarity perhaps. "Ya really think Pointed Ears...the Cap'n would agree ta this?"
    "She is a Vulcan, I'm fairly sure that when presented with the facts she will see the logic," Taz smiled slyly. "So, is it yes or no? I cannot promise it will be easy. You'll probably still have to endure some sort of censure for your actions and likely have to apologize for them to those involved. That in addition to sessions with me, say, three times a week. It's not a plan for the faint of heart."
     "Three times a week?" Gardner shook his head from side to side with a little smile. "One could only hope she would use logic." When pigs fly, is what he was thinking about the Captain using logic.  "Guessin' tha' means I hav'ta take orders from the Kid too," he sighed.  "Yes then I'll try."
    Gardner wasn't lookin forward to having to apologize.   He was always told it was a sign of weakness by his own father.
    "Then we have a deal. I'll write my report and present it to the Captain in person. That way I can deal with any gaps in MY logic." Taz chuckled a little again. "And there's one more thing."
    Gardner eyed her intently wondering what the 'one more thing' could be about . "What?"
    "Outside of Starfleet, I happen to be associated with some excellent civilian lawyers. I'm sure they retain the best investigators and detectives that they can find.  With your permission, of course, I'd like to offer to have them launch an independent investigation into the incident that cost you your family.  We run the risk that they may come up empty handed. But even so at least you would have the chance to get corroboration that all the evidence was examined and nothing was covered up."
    "I appreciate tha',Counselor," Gardner replied.  "I tried that already.  I was told in not-so-many words to drop it.  If ya're thinkin' ya can help, that would be good."  In the back of his mind, he knew deep down it was a cover up. But, why? That was something he could never understand.  A yawn escaped him.  "Excuse me.  I'm a little tired."
    Gardner gave her a thoughtful smile.  He wasn't a bad guy, he just made bad choices.
    "I'll see what I can do. I have a feeling the particular lawyers I have in mind won't be brushed off easily. In fact, it would probably only make them dig harder." Taz stood.  "I'll let you know what the Captain has to say about your situation as soon as I speak with her.  In the meantime, get some rest.  I'll be seeing you soon."
    The counselor smiled and turned to the barrier and gestured for Lobren to drop the force field.
    "Thank ya. " Gardner watched her leave, eying Lobren a moment for once not pissing the man off.  Gardner made himself more comfy on his bunk with his head plopped on the pillow he closed his eyes remembering and picturing in his mind the last time he saw his family.

    Lobren walked over to the control, and dropped the force field. As Taz walked out, he noticed a small look of satisfaction. "Hey, Gardner," he called into the cell.
    Squinting an eye open he looked over.  "Yes, sir?"
    In a calmer, almost joking voice, the Brikarian said, "Thanks fer not makin' me come in there an' kill ya." He offered the ensign a smile and again raised the cell's energy field.
    Gardner smiled and closed his eyes. " Ya're welcome,sir. It would' a been a mess to clean up."

   
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