Lieutenant Commander Yidam Sulani
As the daughter of a religious family on Bajor, Yidam Sulani had been taught to seek balance in life and an inner peace in the teachings of the Prophets. Having served at Starfleet Medical, on space stations and starships, she has developed a flexibility in her approaches to patients. The most distinctive aspect of her practice is the use of companion animals (real and holographic) with patients. Her current assistant is "Bix", an Earth canine. She is also specially certified to practice Tribble Therapy and has two tribbles aboard Venture. As Venture's Head Counselor, Lani is approachable and open, a great listener and a sympathetic soul. She is not a pushover and will demand that her patients, co-workers and those with whom she is working apply themselves to the task at hand.
Family & Background
Peaceful was how people described the Yidam homestead with its prayer house inside the front gate, fruit groves and small gardens. Those who came brought cares and troubles with them but were seeking the peace of mind that was offered by Ranjen Yidam Anzen and midwife Yidam Ashayla. In addition to his religious duties, Anzen was keenly interested in Bajor’s agriculture and had established a seed bank and archive of farming practices. Ashayla was highly regarded as a midwife and saw couples at her studio as well as traveling to attend births. To their children, Sulani and Akoya, the serenity was for adults and their world radiated out from the potting shed behind the house that had been converted to a study center. After returning from their lessons at the monastery, the children were more or less free to escape under the hedgerow to the countryside beyond the homestead.
Lani loved climbing trees, exploring by the creekside and releasing the noise, energy and laughter that otherwise would have disturbed the peaceful Yidam house. As difficult as it was for her to meditate in the monastery classroom, it was easy for her meditate on a spider building a web or the rush of water over rocks in the streambed. At home, she often read her father’s catalog and treatises on agriculture and had assisted him in creating the seed bank and its database. Her mother taught her about herbs and medicinal plants, how to blend teas and infuse fragrant oils for prayer lamps. Because of the protection of the monastery and the self-sufficiency of their farm, Lani and her family were largely isolated from the worst aspects of the Cardassian occupation while the children were young. Lani knew that her father had created the agricultural archive and seed bank was because of the destruction of much of Bajor’s farmland, but the despoilation occurred far from Kendra Monastery. By the late 2360s, however, tensions were rising throughout Bajor; resistance cells had formed in the Kendra Valley and the Cardassian presence was omnipresent.
Application to SFA
In 2365, Anzen learned that Starfleet had established a recruiting program to bring Bajorans into Starfleet Academy and began making inquiries, believing that this could be an ideal opportunity for Lani. Candidates were selected on a number of criteria and in a number of fields, but the crucial factor was recommendation from a political or religious leader. While he did not move in circles of power, Yidam had been a student of Opaka Sulan, and out of respect for her had chosen the Vedek’s name as the first part of Lani’s name. When Lani was 3, Opaka had visited Yidam at his home. Before leaving, Opaka grasped Lani’s ear and told her and her father that Lani, a child of Bajor would not remain of Bajor; her pagh was restless and seeking, and that she must travel far to learn what she needed to learn. Recalling the reading, Anzen wrote to Opaka in 2366, asking her to recommend Lani. The reply came, that due to her diligent studies and the path described for her by the Prophets, Opaka had included Lani on her list of candidates. Although being on the list was no guarantee of acceptance, Lani was shocked that her father was so “connected,” worried about whether she could measure up and a tiny bit uncomfortable that perhaps her father was sending her away. It was a breathtaking opportunity and Lani threw herself into preparation. She knew that the highly technical exams were going to be waived, but she would be expected to know a good deal more about the Federation and its member races. And while she was in good physical condition, she had no training in self-defense or martial arts. So Lani began training in baktat, a form of physical exercise based on ancient warrior training that was carried on within the Monastery. Although she wouldn’t be able to progress very far, it would allow her to move into other martial arts forms once she got to the Academy. Late in the year she and her father went to Ashalla on the pretense of delivering an agricultural survey and obtaining religious supplies. The real purpose of the visit was to allow Lani to be interviewed by an undercover representative of Starfleet. Lani had no idea whether she had impressed the Betazoid evaluator, but left with a comfortable feeling that she had given her best.
Early in 2367 Lani received her notice of acceptance for the fall Academy class. She was ecstatic, overwhelmed and humbled by the prospect. For a young woman who had never gone further than the capitol, Lani had to pinch herself to confirm the reality that she would journey to Earth. Anzen was certain that the Prophets would forgive the pride he felt and would guide him as he watched his daughter make her own life so far away from home. Tragedy struck in the summer, just weeks before the start of the semester. Lani’s mother, called to a birthing, had been caught in a crossfire between a Cardassian patrol and a Bajroan Resistance cell. Devastated by her mother’s death and worried about how her father and brother would fare if she left, Lani informed the Academy that she would not be able to attend. She was deeply touched to receive a letter from the Superintendent of the Academy offering condolences to the family and informing her that when she was ready to accept, she need only petition for activation of entrance. She had not expected such kindness from and alien institution, but put the letter and thoughts of the Academy aside for the next year as she and her family mourned Ashaya’s death and adjusted to their loss.
First Year SFA 2369-2370
Concerned that Lani would forfeit her opportunity to go to Earth, Anzen began to encourage her to enter the Academy in the fall of 2369. Lani, at first resisted, then she resented, and finally realized that her father was right. She petitioned and received her entrance letter. This time her anticipation and excitement were laced with melancholy and a measure of self-doubt. The Academy was larger than Lani had imagined–and she imagined that it was quite large. The members of her squad seemed nice, her instructors were knowledgeable and demanding, the Academy was a place of endless wonders with technology, people and experiences she had never thought to imagine. She wanted to be there, to be a part of this wonderful institution, but she found herself holding back. There were more than a few times that she wondered if she really belonged at the Academy. Most of the cadets had strong sciences and technical backgrounds; her experiences seemed inadequate by comparison. Further, she was intimidated by the reputation and stereotypes that were coming to rest on her Bajoran shoulders. Everyone seemed to assume that she had been a heroic Amazon resistance fighter a la Neydani Velia or else a monastic like former Vedek Nev Reoh. She felt she couldn’t live up to expectations and wasn’t sure she wanted to, anyway. It made her uncomfortable that some people treated her like she was a keg of dynamite or felt they had to whisper and bow like they were in church. So she studied hard and kept to herself. Her one indulgence was to explore the Academy gardens and wooded areas. It reminded her of home and life before her mother’s death, a time when no one expected her to be anything other than herself. Her favorite spot was a small clearing just outside of the main grounds near a large bay tree. Protected by a tumble of lupine and blackberry on the windward side, looking across the water to the northeast, she easily slipped into a meditative state. It was at one of these times that Boothby discovered a new “statue” in the area he had designated for replanting. Aware of the new presence, Lani thanked the Prophets for their guidance and released herself from meditation.
Boothby was unlike anyone she had met on Earth. Taciturn but wry. A wiry old man who seemed eternally young. Bitingly sharp and warmly curious in a way that hinted at layers upon layers of past and future lives. He looked her up and down and informed her that he was planning to “redo” the area—unless it would disturb her meditations. He said it kindly, without putting a burden on Lani. While she would not have presumed to lecture the vedek in charge of the monastery garden on its design, she felt perfectly comfortable describing to Boothby why the site was such a perfect meditation spot. Then, realizing that she was being, perhaps, too effusive she stopped to gauge the reaction. “Come back to me with an alternative, Miss Yidam.” That was it. Boothby walked down the path leaving Lani to ponder what she was going to do next. It took only a week of meditations to realize that she had received a test and a gift and whether it was from a quixotic human or the Prophets was beside the point. In two weeks she formulated a general proposal to create a Bajoran meditation garden honoring the friendship represented by the Bajoran cadet program. As Lani worked on the garden plan she began talking more and more with Boothby to learn about the microclimates, soils and potential planting materials. Boothby had questions for Lani, too. She was surprised how much she was willing to open up to him and how much less burdened she felt afterwards. And the effect wasn’t limited to the time she spent on the grounds. She started to get to know her Quadmates and became more involved in all sorts of aspects of Academy life. The year now seemed to be moving more quickly than Lani would have thought possible. Finals came and went. Her scores were good (in the middle to lower middle of her class) and she ended the year knowing that she’d continue her work on the garden during her summer break on Bajor.
Second Year SFA 2370-2371
Returning to the Academy in 2370, Lani was excited and filled with energy. Over the summer she had settled on a project for her botany major – The Biology, Uses and Social Acceptance of an Invasive Plant to the Bajoran Ecosphere – A Scientific and Sociological Analysis of the Introduction of Cardassian Children’s Tea to Bajor. The plant had come to Bajor with Cardassian missionaries at an orphanage near Ashalla. The plant was, actually, rather pretty – silver green deeply lobed leaves and puffy purple flowers with a honeyed fragrance. It was hardy, drought tolerant and a vigorous grower. Its leaves and flowers were dried and used to make a tea often given to children to soothe them. It seemed pleasant, harmless and effective. Despite its Cardassian origins, some adopting parents had taken cuttings of the plant with them. It did not take long for the plant to spread wherever it went. It could set roots from nodes on its stems, produced bulblets from its roots and had seed pods that explosively spray scores of seeds up to 10 feet. Ashayla was acquainted with the plant and, dis her children from drinking the tea. Lani hoped to answer her mother’s questions with her investigation.
A few weeks after the beginning of the term Lani was notified that a cargo container was waiting for her. “Bajor in a Box” as Lani called it, contained the Bajoran elements for the meditation garden. Her father had chosen a number of beautiful specimen plants and added soil amendments and edging and accent stones. But to Lani the most precious object was a large river rock that would become the center of the meditation platform in the garden. Corresponding through Boothby, Lani had received approval from the Academy for the garden plan early in the summer. She, her father and brother spent a two weeks camping along the Yolja River to find the centerpiece stone. Their requirements were exacting. It needed to be large enough for two people to sit on; beautiful in shape, texture and appearance; and hard enough to resist wear. Lani wanted the stone to overlook San Francisco Bay and sought a stone whose geographical orientation would match the location she had designated. On their 9th day out they located what they believed was the ideal stone, a flat slab of red metrastone with quartz veining, smoothed by wear in the river, but now tucked back from the water on the riverbank where its removal would not disrupt the landscape. They agreed to search for a few more days, but after just hours, Lani was convinced that the metrastone was right in every way. They returned to the site, washed the stone with river water and conducted a series of rituals over the rock and its site, asking permission to take the stone to a new home on Earth. Lani carefully marked the cardinal directions on the stone and placed a homing beacon. Because the project was for the Academy, Starfleet arranged for transport of the stone and other materials to Earth. Having returned to the Academy, Lani was floored to learn from her father that the stone, now an official gift from Bajor to Starfleet, had been retrieved by the runabout Rio Grande, captained by the Emissary himself. At Major Nerys’ suggestion, the stone had been taken through the Celestial Temple and given a blessing by the Emissary before its departure for Earth. Such blessings had never been expected and could not even have been imagined by the Yidam family.
During her first year Lani had very little contact with her fellow Bajorans at the Academy, having been intimidated by their reputations. It seemed important, though, to involve them in the creation of the meditation garden. If it was a gift from Bajor, it only made sense that the Bajoran cadets all have a hand in its creation. Then she thought of her quadmates – first year’s who hadn’t seen much of her and her new Quad, who she hoped would want to be involved. So she sent an invitation to a gathering marking the beginning of the new semester and crossed her fingers. She knew that most would be puzzled to receive it. Her old and new Quadmates all arrived on time at the clearing where Lani had set up a spread of Terran and Bajoran snacks and a display of her garden plan and a drawing (by her brother) of what she envisioned the garden would look like. Neydani Velia was absent; she had withdrawn from the Academy after a run in (a fistfight, really) with another cadet and had joined the Bajoran Militia. Nev Reoh, a former Vedek and now in his final year at the Academy showed up about half an hour after the gathering time. She had been shy around him. Her father was a Ranjen and her brother was entering the monastery and Nev had rejected that path. Nev’s field was geology, so Lani engaged him in discussion of the stones to be used in the garden. He was enthusiastic about her choice of the metrastone and promised to help on the day it was set in place. Although few of the Bajorans had shown up, Lani was still pleased at having had positive reactions and offers of help from everyone who came. The most touching gesture came the next day when she returned to her room to find a red Japanese maple sitting on her desk with a note from Sito Jaxa who apologized for missing the gathering but offering the tree for the garden. It totally fit Lani’s image of Sito as a role model among the Bajoran cadets – brilliant yet humble, a skilled pilot, dedicated and honorable. To many, that had been irretrievably tarnished by the Nova Squadron accident. Sito was repeating her final year at the Academy, and like the other remaining Nova Squadron members, was keeping to herself in the face of the overwhelmingly negative reaction that followed the group. Lani kept a respectful distance, but sent updates to Sito on the progress of the garden.
While the Garden, which was totally extra-curricular, literally bloomed, Lani found a perplexing puzzle in her botanical study. She had gotten anomalous findings on the Cardassian tea genome, but couldn’t find a reason why. She resigned herself to doing a complete genome study. Plodding work and still no answers; she realized that she was going to need more expertise than she could acquire in the course of the semester. She received permission to send her samples to the Starfleet botany lab on DS9 for analysis. The results were shocking. The plants from Bajor had been genetically altered to bond with a Bajoran gene sequence that regulated absorption of nutrients and therefore growth in young Bajorans. If the results were correct, the plant was a biological weapon with the potential of interfering with the growth and health of the young children who were given the tea. Excited that she had found something of great significance, Lani went to her advisor to ask that health data for the children at the orphanages be correlated with general population and growth studies so that a war crimes case could be made against the Cardassians for use of a biological weapon against civilians. She was immediately ordered to speak to no one of her findings and theory. Two days later she was called in to Admiral Brand’s office and told that her study had been classified for security purposes. She was assured that her research would be followed up and that appropriate action would be taken – when and how would have to be in the hands of Starfleet. The gag order would remain. As far as anyone at the Academy was concerned, Lani’s original project had reached a dead end and she was being allowed to use the Garden, including a sociological dissertation, as her second year project. Two minutes after she left Admiral Brand’s office all of the questions she should have asked came flooding into her brain – What branch would take the project? Could she be assigned to it over break? Would there be efforts to eradicate the plant on Bajor and to prevent its use? She knew it would have been useless to go back and ask.
Lani’s turmoil over what had occurred seemed to act like a magnet, drawing her to others struggling with various aspects of the regimen of the Academy and Starfleet. She raged, fumed, moped, resolved, melted, and more. Every emotion seemed to want to have some time to be felt and dealt with. And not only Lani’s. The other cadets she was drawn to were having dramas in their lives, too. Dramas that were real, not for show. By the end of the semester, she felt she would burst with all the burdens she was carrying. Her refuge was her Garden. She was delighted to find Sito there one evening at the end of the term. It was a beautiful evening and Jaxa had wonderful news – she was being assigned to the Enterprise! To have risen to Nova Squadron, fallen into disgrace, struggled to complete the Academy and to again be on top was an inspiration to Lani. Jaxa was more reflective and unsure about the honor. Was she assigned to the Enterprise so that Starfleet could keep a close eye on her? Was she being set up to fail? Lani sighed, it seemed that no matter how much good or bad crossed one’s path, there was always more (of both) that would come. The only thing to do was to learn to put the unchangeable behind her and strive to be better than she was before. No matter Jaxa’s doubts, Lani was happy for her assignment to the Enterprise; it redeemed her good work and good qualities. If only she felt as good about the results of her investigations into the Cardassian Tea. Although she knew that there were political and diplomatic ramifications, she was frustrated that her work had seemingly come to nothing. She was starting to feel that she was having more impact working in the garden and listening to other people’s troubles.
With rising tensions in the Bajoran sector due to first contact with the Dominion, and the tensions due to the rise of the Maquis, travel to the area had been sharply limited and Lani, assured that her family was fine and knowing that she would be unable to do anything that might raise suspicions about the Cardassian tea study, opted to stay on Earth. On one of her explorations she discovered the City’s Animal Shelter. She had been fascinated by the number and variety of dogs that inhabited the City but had never known anyone who actually had a dog. It seemed strange to her. On Bajor, token were large doglike animals that were used primarily for hunting large game. No one just kept them as pets. Lani could see their appeal, though. It was hard to see how people could be so irresponsible and heartless to abandon them. The Shelter offered training for volunteers who were then allowed to work with the dogs – feeding, cleaning kennels, walking and basic training. She had progressed rapidly and could usually tell a dog’s mood and approachability by their postures. She liked the training best. It required her to build trust with the dog and to figure out what would motivate cooperation. If she was successful, the dog had a much higher chance of being adopted. She was sad that she would have to leave her trainees once the semester started, but she began thinking of ways to bring the dogs into her life at the Academy.
Third Year SFA 2371-2372
“No time like the present to change the future.” She’d liked the caption on the poster she’d seen in a bookstore and that now adorned her wall. Changing her major to Psychology/Counseling felt very right. Lani felt lighter and happier than she had since her botanical study had been taken out of her hands. For this year, she’d be taking a full load of basic courses in order to be able to start doing clinical internships over the summer. The bloom of excitement gradually settled into the daily routine of classes. Most were good, a couple boring. She liked the other cadets in the program and found the professors (even those whose lectures made her eyelids droop) to be motivated, dedicated and caring. She did papers on comparisons of Bajoran and Zen meditation in therapeutic settings and treatment of stress through channeling activity – using herself and the Garden as the case study. Her major project was creation of a prototype of a diagnostic/therapeutic holographic program with canine companion animals. While there were millions of programs with cute kittens and puppies, none took a long term approach starting with identification and analysis of the patient’s needs and using every step of the process of identifying, meeting, bonding with and training a dog as opportunities for gaining insight into the patient’s issues, needs, therapeutic response and long term mental health. It soon became clear that projects such as hers were going to have to be postponed in order to put counselor candidates in to practical field training programs.
Fear and paranoia intensified on Earth as threats – real, potential, past and future – populated the heavens. The Borg, the Dominion, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Maquis, the bogeyman under the bed. The list seemed far too long and far too close for comfort. Everyone had concerns and were talking about the political issues and their ramifications for Starfleet, their home planets, their careers. Lani found herself more and more in individual conversations with cadets pouring out their worries and asking for her reading on what they should do. She tried referring them to the counseling center, but soon realized that admitting the need for counseling equated with a feeling of weakness or failure. Lani after hosting a few informal get-togethers, she organized a group of cadets who would take responsibility to host a weekly gathering at various places on the grounds. Bring something to share, chat, eat, see that so many others are in the same boat and are willing (and wanting) to give and get support from their fellow cadets. It wasn’t counseling and wouldn’t help those with deeper seated issues, but for many it was helpful, and even therapeutic. Lani was pleased when new cadets joined in. She was especially pleased when the new Ferengi cadet, Nog, showed up. He was sweet, enthusiastic and brought jambalaya from Sisko’s in New Orleans. As was to be expected, Nog was lonely and a little homesick. He felt isolated being the first and only Ferengi in Starfleet Academy and the weekly gatherings gave him a chance to feel that he had friends and a social life. He often sent holoimages from the parties to his father to reassure him that all was well. Lani admired the way he was coping with his situation and sought him out at other times just to say hello and ask about news from DS 9 and Bajor. Lani often had the sense that letters from her father and brother were cryptic, speaking in code to avoid saying directly what they felt was happening. Politics, no doubt. The monasteries were rife with factions that, contrary to their vows, were jockeying for political power over the planet. Even the places that were supposed to be most peaceful seemed to be a mess.
When the Changeling threat brought Captain Sisko to Earth to run the planet’s security in 2372, Lani was hopeful that she would have the opportunity to meet him and show him the Garden. The press of duties did not allow for such a meeting, but Sisko sent Lani a brief message that he appreciated the invitation and hoped to be able to sit in the Garden when the Federation was at peace. Lani was disappointed, but pleased to have gotten the message. She was also thrilled to see a Tarkalian hawk over the cliffs by the Bay – although she never knew whether it was Odo or the other Changeling. The attempted coup by Admiral Leyton led many to question Starfleet’s ability to protect the Alpha Quadrant from the Changeling threat. Lani had faith that the Federation and Starfleet would ultimately survive, even though many at the Academy felt their confidence in the future shaken those considered the best and brightest, Red Squad, were found to be pawns in the coup. Among those who seemed to suffer the most was Nog, who had been instrumental in exposing Red Squad’s role. Despite his disillusionment, Lani is struck by his desire to succeed as a Starfleet officer and is confident that his innate tenacity and resilience will see him through this crisis. The deepest crisis for Lani was news that Sito Jaxa had been “lost” on special assignment. What kept her going was working with others who were shadowed by the fear or losing loved ones or had suffered such losses. She was definitely not alone and if she was to counsel others that they could and would heal, she needed to heal as well. She felt that a miracle happened when the news came that Sito had been recovered, having been held in a Cardassian prison camp. The blessing of having her friend returned strengthened Lani’s resolve to complete her program.
Fourth Year at SFA 2372-2373
Lani’s final year at the Academy found her immersed in her studies. She had been accepted into a post-graduate Counseling program and, even though she had worked through the summer, she still had to complete a full load of substantive courses. Hostilities were not abating and everyone was expecting a shooting war at any time. The graduate program normally would have kept Lani on Earth for two more years and then after 2 more years of field assignments she could qualify for certification as a full counselor. When war did break out counselors were in high demand so the program was accelerated with field training included with her classroom studies.
Post-Graduate Assignments 2373 – 2375
Lani was assigned to the hospital at Starbase 235 after completing her first year in the graduate program on Earth. The stream of work, from evaluation of those headed for the front lines and the re-evaluation of patients returning with physical and psychological injuries more than filled the days. The objective of the medical staff, including counselors, was to get as many personnel back into active service as possible. Graduate trainees did evaluations; full counselors did treatment. There was little time to question the impact, especially in the long term, on patients. As in past conflicts, the basic approach was to get soldiers who had suffered psychological trauma back to the front lines as soon as possible – but it wasn’t a universal and deciding to send people back into harm’s way was difficult and took its toll on everyone. Sometimes Lani wished that she could know what would happen to the patients she saw; most of the time she was glad not to know. In 2374 she found out that Nog had arrived at their hospital after being wounded in the assault on AR558. This was the first time someone she had known closely had been admitted for treatment at the facility. Thankful that she didn’t have to make the decision of when to send him back into service, she still kept tabs on Nog while he was at SB235. She knew that Nog was putting up a good front and was pleased when he was discharged from the hospital to return to DS 9. She hoped that being with friends and family would help him heal psychologically as well as physically.
In 2375 Lani received her Counselor certification and was assigned to DS 9 after the signing of the Treaty of Bajor in late 2375. Her duties included working with Starfleet, Allied and civilian personnel on the Station and helping to establish the Ashalla Rehabilitation Clinic on Bajor (Ashalla). When Bajor joined the Federation in 2376, Lani assisted with the administrative conversion of the Clinic to Starfleet jurisdiction and from 2377 – 2380 headed the development of joint Starfleet-Bajoran protocols for treatment and integration of Bajoran religious practices into the therapeutic program. With the new program established, Lani applied for a transfer. While she loved being on Bajor and helping and watching her home world heal from occupation and war, she didn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a Bajoran specialist. She wanted to work with a broader population in a Starfleet facility, with a goal of eventually being stationed aboard a starship. When a position opened on SB 375 in the Kalandra Sector in 2381, Lani leapt upon the opportunity. It was a competitive posting, and Lani was surprised by the mixed feelings she had when she was informed that she had been selected. She knew she was ready professionally to move on and wanted to explore the larger universe she had glimpsed at the Academy and on her Cadet cruise. Still, having had the opportunity to watch Bajor heal after so many decades of conflict and being able to see her family with comforting regularity was something she knew she would miss. Also, the assignment to SB 375 was a career move. She needed to have the clinical and administrative experience of working at a Starbase facility to be competitive for a ship assignment. Her last week on Bajor turned into a pilgrimage to her favorite and meaningful places and ended with a going away party at the family homestead. As she departed for the transport station, Kori handed Lani a package and gave her a kiss on the cheek and a cherubic smile (the one that usually meant he was up to mischief), saying that he hoped it will help her work on SB 375
The meaning of the smile came clear when Lani was stopped for attempted transportation of dangerous life forms, tribbles, Kori’s farewell gift was a pair of Vedek Tola’s tribbles, developed by Dr. Bashir from Security Chief Odo’s broods, for therapeutic use on Bajor. Although the bpx bore a certificate of suitability for intersystem travel (referencing the creatures’ genetically verifiable ID implants) and assignment of the tribbles to Lani, the security personnel refused to release Lani (the suspected smuggler of dangerous life forms) or the tribbles (aka the dangerous life forms) until speaking with Dr. Bashir. She was shocked (and a bit delighted) to hear the voice of the Emissary instructing Security to review the latest Starfleet Medical protocol on Bajoran Tribbles and get Ensign Yidam to her shuttle. After profuse apologies, Lani was immediately transported to the embarkation gate. Kori’s letter filled in the blanks. Working with Dr. Bashir and Vedek Tola, Kori began breeding tribbles with a low reproductive profile and enhanced purring for therapeutic use and was embarking on a multi-species trial and in which Lani was enrolled. She was encouraged to design new ways of using the tribbles for therapeutic purposes and was required to report periodically on the responses to the tribbles by the species she treated. Kori had personally selected the tribbles: Aria, cream with brown spots was active and had a “warm soprano” purr; Sonatina, smoky gray with black tips, was more sedate: “a lap tribble” with a “pleasing alto vibrato”. They were the perfect gift.
All in all, her posting at SB 375 had been more interesting and enjoyable than Lani had expected it would be. Although much of the work was routine, the Head Counselor gave her the opportunity to study how the Counseling Department was organized and operated and how it interfaced with various other departments. Because of Aria and Sonatina, Lani saw more stress patients than an average counselor. Lani’s position also entailed intake on all patients being transferred from starships which not only gave Lani insight into a range of issues that brought crewmembers to counseling, but also gave her the opportunity to talk with ship’s counselors about the facilities on board their ships and their views of their role and relationship with their crews. Some views were eye-opening, but none discouraged her from her desire to seek a shipboard position.
In 2384 a posting at Starfleet Medical on Earth opened up and Lani knew it was a rare opportunity that was well worth deferring her plans to apply for a shipboard assignment. Basically, it was a consultant-coordinator position compiling and adapting protocols for establishment of counseling clinics and departments tailored to the needs of Federation worlds in various stages of recovery from wartime damage. While many physical (including medical) and political structures had been rebuilt, quite typically, counseling and psychological health was expected to “just get better” with time as other aspects of life were normalized. With the recognition that there was no “one size fits all” solution; a range of services and approaches needed to be matched to cultural norms and the general types of traumas experienced, Starfleet created consultant-coordinator position to compile and identify adaptable protocols for establishment of counseling clinics and departments tailored to the needs of Federation worlds in various stages of recovery from wartime damage. Lani’s experience expanding the basic Starfleet templates at the Ashalla Clinic was exactly the model the project hoped to establish for other worlds, so the success of the clinic (as well as some key recommendations) tipped the scales in favor of Lani’s appointment. Departing from SB 375 Lani visited a number of Federation worlds undergoing rebuilding of their health services infrastructure. From her office in the headquarters for the Federation Medical Service in Paris, Lani, promoted to full Lieutenant, spent long days evaluating, comparing and creating models for treatment center options. Her reports were shared with Starfleet Medical enabling Lani to return to San Francisco for consultations. Key contributors were based in a number of Earth cities including Osaka, Washington D.C. and Mandela City (formerly Johannesburg). By 2385, Lani had completed most of her review and planning for the pilot programs. As the implementation stage of the project began, Lani realized that it was time to commit to being an administrator or to re-focus on seeking a starship posting.
As tensions with the Breen escalated, more ships were deployed and engaged in escort duties, evacuations and skirmishes and a number of them were looking for counselors. One ship stood out to Lani; not for the ship itself but for the opportunity to serve with an old friend, Sito Jaxa. Since their time at the Academy, the two had continued to stay in touch. Although it was unusual for the Con officer to intervene in personnel matters, Sito gave Lani a strong recommendation. Whether it had influenced the decision, Lani was accepted on the USS Norway, a medium cruiser with a crew of 150 and an evacuation capacity of 500. Lani transitioned in easily, thanks in large part to the information about the ship, its mission and crew from Sito. The crew was generally well adjusted and had no extraordinary issues during routine patrol duties. Crunch time came when the Norway was called on for evacuation duties. Then, Lani would be called on to service entire settlements of people who were confused, displaced, angry, grieving and unanchored from the things that kept them functioning as individuals and a community. Often she had only a few days. She would immediately meet with the appointed leaders and then walk through the evacuation bays. The children would come out first, curious about Bixby, Lani’s specially trained therapy dog and to receive the small gifts and food packets she carried with her. This inevitably led to an introduction to their parents and caregivers. By talking with those not in the official leadership, she often got a better idea of what the community wanted and needed. As satisfying as the resettlement work could be, after a year and a half of crisis counseling Lani was ready to move on to the broader practice that would be offered on a larger class ship with an exploration, as well as service, mission. Sito urged Lani to look into capital ship postings – she could see that Lani was ready to grow beyond what the Norway offered. Change, advised the older Bajoran, comes inevitably – one chooses what route to take on the map the Prophets provide.
Lani was getting discouraged in her search for a new position. She had notified her ongoing clients aboard the Norway of her intentions. At first she had been unsure, concerned that they would feel that she was abandoning them or would stop coming in to avoid feeling rejected. Instead, she found that it was almost expected that as a career officer she would move on. A few of her patients even turned the tables on her, asking her about her motivations and expectations and whether she was seeking personal fulfillment or simply climbing the career ladder. I was through one of these clients that she heard about the Venture. A friend serving on the ship had written a letter saying they were headed for Earth for a major refitting and would likely be there for several months before heading out with a largely new command crew. Lani jumped on the lead and before she could have second thoughts, received her new orders. She would leave immediately by shuttle in order to make the first connection for her journey back to Sol Sector. Complicating her route was the necessity of avoiding Klingons. The development of Tribble Therapy had been greeted in the Empire as a threat of ecocide and a mockery of Klingon honor. Those in the Tribble Therapy programs were known and advised by Federation authority to give Klingons a wide berth in outlying areas. The diversions would add about 2 weeks to her journey. She actually was grateful for the extra time. Although she had made a general inquiry about counselor positions, she found herself appointed Head Counselor! Reading the briefing packet she wondered whether Starfleet was trying some grand experiment with Venture – a brand new (practically a field promotion) Captain, an Executive Officer with a notably colorful (to say the least) record and a shakedown cruise in the volatile Raeyan Transit Corridor. What better addition to the mix than a newly minted Lt. Commander serving as Chief Counselor, with two Tribbles to make things interesting as they trod the uneasy border between the Romulans and Klingons?
Cadet Senior Grade
|Psychology/Counseling Focus Cadet||Starfleet Academy|
|Post-Graduate Scholar, Counseling||Starfleet Academy|
|Assistant Counselor||Deep Space Nine/Ashalla Rehabilitation Center, Bajor|
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|Assistant Counselor||Deep Space Nine/Ashalla Rehabilitation Center, Bajor|
Lieutenant Junior Grade
|Assistant Counselor||Starbase 375|
|Counselor, Rehabilitation Therapy Specialist||Starfleet Medical Paris & San Francisco|
|Chief Counselor||USS Venture|