By Tim Stevens
The following is an excerpted transcript of a therapy session with the team of cosmic heroes known as the Annihilators. Present at the session were The Silver Surfer (Norrin Radd), Quasar (Wendell Vaughn), Beta Ray Bill (sometimes known as Simon Walters), Gladiator (Kallark), and Ronan. Team member Ikon declined to attend on the basis that it “is not appropriate for a team leader to attend such functions with her subordinates.” Tim Stevens was on-hand to facilitate the session.
TIM STEVENS: I was just looking over your intake paperwork and I think the staff made a mistake. According to what I have, this meeting was required by a “Cosmo.” who is—
QUASAR (head down, speaking quietly): Oh, please don’t say i—
TS: —a dog? Was that a transcription error?
RONAN: No, this is accurate. We were told you had experience with…individuals like ourselves. My wife reassured me you had a very good reputation; that you helped her sister Medusa. Certainly, if this is true, such matters should not surprise you?
TS: I assure you, I am just being thorough. Wanted to make sure that it was not meant to read “a god.” I have a bit more experience with self-identified gods than canines.
BETA RAY BILL: In fairness to us, Cosmo is a mutated—
Q: And very intimidating
BRB: —example of his species.
TS (keeping his tone neutral): I’m sure he is. In any case, you are here because this Cosmo wishes to see you develop teamwork skills in advance of entering the field as (looks at the paperwork again) the Annihilators. Huh. That certainly is a…strong name.
Q: Umm…there’s still some discussion about whether or not we are actually calling ourselves that.
GLADIATOR: Or if we even need a name, given that this is only a temporary alliance. As needed. None of us desire to join permanently.
TS: Well, if you wish, that is certainly something we can work on here. But, in general, this is just an entrance interview. Over the next few days, we’ll meet like this several times and, in-between, be engaging in various in-the-field team building exercises.
BRB: Will I need Stormbreaker? Or Scuttlebutt?
TS: I…I’m sorry?
BRB: My hammer. And my spaceship.
R: I also have a hammer. It is far larger. I can get it, if you would like.
TS (shaking his head): No, no. I think we can all agree that you all have far more combat experience than I do. The team building task will not involve violence of any kind.
R: This is disappointing. How can you teach us teamwork if our lives are not in some kind of danger?
TS: I have a variety of ways that you will see over the next few days. I can understand your…discomfort with this, Ronan. And anyone else’s for that matter. And I invite you to discuss it with Cosmo whenever you like. As long as you are here, however, I do ask you for the benefit of the doubt.
R: Neither a Kree nor an Inhuman warrior would need or desire such a—
SILVER SURFER: Please, I would ask you to trust him. The Surfer has worked with this human and found him to be compassionate. He appears to do this work with some skill as well.
TS: Thank you Norrin.
SS: I would prefer you not use that name. Norrin is past, I am the Surfer.
TS: As you wish. Given what was said a few moments ago, I am sensing some ambivalence about being part of this team. Would any of you say that is accurate?
G: I would. While I respect Star-Lord’s legacy and have witnessed up close the need for there to be heroes who patrol the stars, I have a responsibility to my people, the Shi’ar. They have already experienced so much turmoil that I do not wish to be way from my throne for too long and for nothing but the most pressing of manners.
R: I feel the same way about my new life amongst the Inhumans.
TS: I can certainly understand why you would both feel that way. I am sure most in your position would experience that kind of tension between the desire to be a force for good in the world beyond your kingdom and the need to still be a leader for your people. How about those of you who do not hold part of the ruling class? Where does your hesitance come from?
BRB: I have been working to restore worlds that were decimated during the latest cosmic struggle. That is important work and it can be accomplished without throwing a punch or hurting someone else. I would never forsake my destiny as a warrior, but it is…nice to help others in a way that does not end with blood on Stormbreaker or my fists.
Q: I’m not sure I’ve really found what I want to do next, but I am tired of the fighting, too. With Nova gone…I just don’t know how many more friends and allies I can lose and keep doing this. It’s hard to keep the faith, you know?
TS: I hear a lot of pain from both of you. But also a lot of desire to still do good. It must be hard to keep going in circumstances like these so I applaud both of you for continuing to use your unique gifts to help others even though you feel drained in many ways. I would encourage you, especially, Wendell to find an outlet, an escape, like Bill has. A place where you can do things for others without the threat of cosmic war or death. Self-care is very important in your line of work.
Q: Like I said, I’m just not sure what to do next.
TS: And that’s ok. Give yourself permission to try out some new things and see what fits, what brings you some measure of joy or fulfillment. It can be hard to step away with the power you wield, but that’s want makes it important to do so. You need multiple definitions to your life to keep you from burning out.
|The Silver Surfer|
And what about you, No—err—Silver Surfer? How do you feel about the team?
SS: It is important we remain committed to our agreement that coming together is the last resort; that this team is only for moments of great desperation and terrible turmoil.
TS: Is there anything that you find that distracts you from committing fully to the team?
SS: Galactus tolerates other interests. But he does not encourage them.
TS: I see. And I know you to be a man very dedicated to his commitments. But, like with Wendell, I would encourage you to seek outside fulfillment.
SS: The Surfer’s mission does not allow for…individual desires.
TS: I certainly have no desire to argue with you on this. I only ask you give it some thought.
SS (after a moment’s hesitation): I shall.
TS: Great. Something else I thought we should discuss is a team member that could not be here. As I understand it, she is something of a source of tension for everyo—
R: The idea that she—
G: I have been a soldier, but I am no one’s—
Q: A different tone mig—
BRB: Her presumptuousness has bee—
SS: The Surfer has no conflicts with the robot, but has observ—
The voices combine cacophonously, drowning one another out.
TS (raising his voice above them): Okay, okay, okay! I can see this is very hot issue for most of you. I can’t hear any of you if you all speak at the same time, though. And, given the time, I think it is probably best if we wait until our next session to discuss Ikon further. So I will see you later for that. My staff will direct you to the next activity.
Doctors Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning will follow up with the Annihilators on March 2. Please review their notes, found in file ANNIHILATORS #1, for further insights into this team.
Tim Stevens, MA, a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Consultant and Practicum Trainee at a Federal Correctional Institute, has experience in organizing and facilitating group therapy sessions.