It’s time for a subplot.
After taking his place back with his Subcortex/Transporter Room soldiers, Command Sergeant Major (CSM) McCoy nods at First Sergeant (1SG) Spock Sr.
“Ma’am,” Spock Sr. says, “when I was introducing the Emotions who work under me, I was not, if you recall, able to introduce them all.”
Mr. Scott smiles and moves forward. “Yes, ma’am. As the Officer-in-Charge, it is my honor to present to you the Brain-Enterprise’s—even Colonel (COL) Kirk’s—senior Command, General CARE/NURTURANCE.”
Smiling, the young soldier nods to Scott and then turns back to Jane.
“I know,” he says. “The uniform confuses everyone, military and civilian alike. Hazard of the job.”
“You’re…a general?” Jane says.
“Yes, ma’am.” the young General says. “I am the Emotion that has preserved you from your life’s beginning, all the physical processes that calm you, soothe you when you are meaningfully connected to others in your world. I am what ran through your body when your Mama and Daddy held you as an infant, when your Grandmama hummed her favorite hymn to rock you to sleep. I’m the very opposite of Power. I make joy and meaning possible, for you, for everyone.”
Janes smiles. “Not exactly the kind of general I remember.”
“True,” the General says. “You can’t recognize me by my uniform, that’s for sure. You can only know me by the effect I have when I walk into a room. Of course, therein lies the problem.”
“How so?” Jane asks.
“A lot of folks—if I might add, a whole lot of combat vets—are not, shall we say, ‘into’ touchy-feely connection. They may not mind me every once in a while, when all is quiet. But they sure aren’t going to spend any time with me. And down here, when things get hopping? If the Brain crew hasn’t spent time with me, they often fail to recognize me when I can be of the most help. Instead of seeing a general who has the power to make all work more smoothly, they see a uniform without a marking on it, a “fuzzy,” the lowest of the low in their world, someone who is to shut up and do as he’s told.”
“Work more smoothly, how?” Jane asks.
“If I may,” the General says, “I’d be glad to show you how I’m the ultimate answer to your question about PTSD and getting better. But I will have to ask you a favor in order to do so.”
“Jane,” he says. “This Brain-Enterprise has become your ship. We are here for you. You happen, however, not to be alone on it at this point.”
Jane nods. “Joe, right?”
“Yes, Jane,” an again-familiar voice says, from behind her on the Mezzanine.
Jane turns to see COL Kirk.
“The Colonel and I have been here many times with Joe,” the General says from below. “But never before on someone else’s ship, someone who might—just might—be able to make a difference for him.”
Jane turns back to the General. “Pardon me?”
“Jane,” the General says. “Joe’s home was not like yours. He had no Grandmama humming him hymns, no Mama and Daddy he could rely on to hold him. He’s not even convinced that I exist inside him. But together you and I might be able to connect with him now just enough to allow him to consider at least some possibility of alternative to the abandoned loneliness he has felt for years.”
“It’s up to you, Jane,” Kirk says, approaching her. “You don’t have to. As the General said, this isn’t our first time in this spot with Joe. We can take it from here.”
Jane shakes her head. “He can be such an ass. But there’s always been something about him.” She looks back down at the General and then back at Kirk. “So it’s my ship, my decision?”
“Yes, Jane.” Kirk smiles. “So, are we done?”
Jane looks back down at the General and nods. “Next step, Sir?”
The General smiles and opens his mouth. Out of it comes a woman’s resonant voice.
“Always knew you had it in you, Baby!”
Yet before Jane can respond, the General turns to CSM McCoy and, back in his own voice, says, “Sergeant Major?”
“Will do, Sir.” With that, McCoy disappears.
All Subcortex/Transporter Room soldiers step back. The General turns to Jane.
“This is not going to be pretty, Jane. Stick with us, though,” he says. “Just like your Grandmama said, we can do this.”
The General snaps his fingers.
And there, in the center of the Transporter Room, lies the mangled, bloodied body of a solider, a First Sergeant.
And next to him, no longer on the Mezzanine, is an older man, clutching his knees to his chest, rocking back and forth, mumbling over and over, “Top. Top.”