|USF Personal Log|
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Hours passed before he took a break to even use the lavatory. There was no sign of Jane anywhere, though he did see that the kitchen had been cleaned up and an empty package was left on the counter - rations. Lukas snagged the wrap off the counter and tossed it into the recycler. There was an inkling of regret for how he had spoken to the medical officer but he had no way to grasp at the thought. He pulled a bottle of Kottbusser beer from the fridge and snapped the cap off as he made his way back to the office space. He sat down and propped his elbows on the desk. With a heavy sigh, he took a drink and tapped on the console to initiate a subspace call to Farpoint Station.
When the operations officer answered, Lukas nodded in recognition but waved off pleasantries. “Connect me with a counselor, Marius. I need to talk with someone- professional.” He sipped again from the bottle.
Johanna Lindell was a blonde woman of classic beauty. Rich hazel eyes sparkled with life and wisdom. Golden pips were bright on her collar, the two small magnetic discs nearly brilliant against the blue collar of her uniform. “This is Doctor Lindell,” she greeted, her voice soothing and calm. There was a knowing grin that pulled at the corner of her lips, though there was the slightest dip as she studied the face that appeared on her screen. The bare torso was certainly not something she expected to greet her upon answering the communication. At the sight of the beer bottle, her brow lifted in curious question.
He set the bottle aside and cleared his throat as he watched the woman on the screen. There was a moment of hesitation when he considered that he probably should have put a shirt on. Lukas sighed and shook his head. It was too late for that now. “Doctor, Lukas Behr. I-”
“Good evening Mister Behr,” came her kind greeting. There was a small nod and a kind smile to accompany the salutation. “How may I assist you today-? Though I’m afraid I’m about to leave for the night.”
The German glanced at the chronometer and grunted quietly. He’d forgotten to figure the time difference and shook his head at the oversight. If it was evening there, he could drink his beer without it being socially frowned upon. “Es ist fünf Uhr irgendwo, (It’s five o’clock somewhere.)” he mused as he took a drink. Lukas focused on the blonde and furrowed his brows. “I need to talk about my family,” he began.
Her brow remained lifted in question and she nodded. “I would be happy to make an appointment for you. I have an opening tomorrow at 1400 hours-”
“No, now. They’re stuck in a transporter buffer and the transport authority wants me to release their patterns. I have to get back to them soon.” Again, speaking the words made them true. He sighed and took another drink of his Kottbusser. He was going to need more beer.
Johanna furrowed her brows at the revelation. The counselor straightened in her chair and she studied the man with a keen eye. “I see,” she muttered. Subtly, her gaze dipped to the console panel on her desk and her fingers danced lightly over the surface. “Did the transport authority mention how long they’ve been stuck in the pattern buffers?”
His brow furrowed as he turned his gaze to the counselor. “You think I haven’t done the calculations? I’m an operations officer. I know they can’t be saved.”
“I understand that you are frightened and upset, Mister Behr,” she attempted to soothe. “Grief manifests in many different ways.” The blonde lifted her chin and studied her screen.
He was going to need much more beer. Lukas took a swig and shook his head as he set the bottle aside. “My niece jumped off the pad, she survived. It’s in my brother’s will that I take care of her.” He struggled to enunciate what went through his head as he motioned to himself and then toward something off screen. “I’m- I can’t- Ich habe hier gerade ein Haus gebaut. Ich muss drei Jahre bleiben. Ich kann sie nicht verlassen. (I just built a house here. I have to stay for three years. I can’t leave her.)”
The string of German that fell from his lips and left untranslated caused her brows to furrow in confusion. “First things first, Mister Behr. Have you contacted the transport authority to release your family’s patterns? It will be necessary so that you can move forward with your mourning process-”
“No! I don’t want to mourn them! The odds are so infinitesimal, this has to be a joke.” He leaned forward and rested his face in his hands. The German rubbed harshly as if he would awaken from this second nightmare.
Her lips formed a thin line. “Mister Behr, I think perhaps it would be best if we schedule an appointment. It is clear that this matter cannot be handled over a viewscreen. I urge you to consider seeing me tomorrow. I can certainly shift my appointments if 1400 hours does not suit your schedule.” Johanna glanced down at her console panel once more. “I believe I can manage as early as 1130 hours-”
His laugh was brief and out of character, for anyone who knew him. “You’re a loon. I’m at Phoenix, I wouldn’t make an appointment with you tomorrow.” There was a faint tinge of derision in his voice. Lukas waved dismissively at her and picked up his bottle of beer.
Her lips pulled into a frown at the revelation. Outpost Phoenix was easily four weeks away from her location. Johanna shook her head. “Mister Behr, please I do think that this situation warrants a visit. I can speak to your captain. A leave of absence is certainly not outside the realm of reason, especially given your circumstances.” She did not know much, but from the snippets he’d revealed, it was clear that the operations officer was muddling through his grief and shock.
“I don’t have that kind of time, Doctor. Thanks.” He leaned forward and tapped to end the transmission. The bottle of beer was tipped back as he pushed to his feet. As he drained the Kottbusser, Lukas made his way into the kitchen. He dropped the first one into the recycler and pulled a second from the fridge. There was no thought to his actions as he made his way into the family room and dropped onto the couch. He set the bottle on the coffee table and leaned back into the cushion. Before he knew it, his eyes had closed and emotional exhaustion pulled him into a tenuous slumber. During his sleep, he fell to his side and ended up curled on the sectional with his face buried into one of the throw pillows.