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Afternoon Stroll

Posted on 12 Oct 2014 @ 1:47am by Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Razmena
Location: USS Black Hawk || Deck Six
Timeline: February 4, 2388 || 1600 hours

Quiet. Too quiet.

He'd forgotten how much he liked to be busy. For the first time since putting on the red uniform three years ago, Harvey actually wished he was back in a research lab, his mind fully engaged trying to fight some virus or deconstruct a disease.

At the moment, the crew was well settled into the task before them, studying this nebula. Or standing near a viewport gawking at it.

Not that Harvey was looking for someone to interact with. In fact, he halfway wished for Commander Kos to be nearby to chat about duty rosters or status reports. Or just to say "hello."

Harvey was surprised by that thought. The last time he kept female company, it ended in anger, rage and despair. Climbing the mountain back to a normal life was horrific, not a task he wished to repeat. Perhaps that was why he kept just about anyone at arms length or further.

Before he could think of anything else, Harvey stopped. He had passed by here before, always intending to at some point enter and examine this room, but never actually doing so. His eyes glanced away from the door to the bulkhead and service hatches flanking either side. Unlike the remainder of the neat and orderly ship, these panels still retained fire burns and scars. The labels had been scratched or severely damaged, likely from the same source of damage.

In that moment, Harvey flinched, seeing a shower of sparks from an exposed EPS conduit cover an unsuspecting petty officer. Her screams echoed in his ears, as did the klaxons warning of imminent danger. She reached up to her face, blood running down her forehead, blinding her eyes as she screamed for someone to save her. There was another explosion, causing Harvey to shield his own eyes, hoping to avoid a similar fate.

When he opened his eyes, it was impossible to not notice that the overhead lighting and the carpet below his feet had been perfectly restored. As Harvey lowered his hand, he didn't have to read the plate on the door to remember where he was.

This was the Black Hawk's private museum. Harvey had read -- skimmed -- the history of this fine ship, and needed, for sake of the ship and her crew, to understand it further.

With nothing pressing to do, now seemed to be the best time. Harvey stepped forward, entering the room. The lights, kept in standby when not in use, flickered quickly to life. He could tell the room had once been a science lab, based on the configuration. All of the equipment, however, had been replaced with glass cases and artifacts from the vessel's history.

Deciding to respect those who had come before him, Harvey reached up and adjusted his cover, pulling it downward slightly so that when his reflection shone in the glass, the ship's patch would be seen, reminding him of the history he was now a part of.

Stepping up to the first part of the exhibit, Harvey read about the ship's launch in 2374. The Black Hawk wasn't meant to launch for another year and a half, but the war demanded as many ships as could be built. She launched mostly empty, but armed to the teeth with fighters and marines, and was sent straight into the war.

Unlike most of the ships Harvey served on, the Black Hawk survived the conflicts she was apart of. Under command of Captain Mitch Bueller, the Black Hawk became the lead ship for a first-strike task force. She carried two squadrons capable of striking hard and fast within five seconds of the ship dropping out of warp.

Until the battle of Kalendra. The Black Hawk led allied forces into the system. Captain Bueller's tactics were on the verge of becoming textbook, a fact that the Dominion was prepared to exploit. The Black Hawk was targeted the moment the battle started. As Harvey continued to read on another exhibit, he learned that nearly an entire Jem'hadar attack wing came down on the Black Hawk and her task force. Most of other ships were destroyed or disabled within five minutes.

But not the Black Hawk.

Within two minutes, her shields were overwhelmed and the warp drive disabled. Instead of simply destroying the ship, the Jem'hadar boarded the vessel. This battle, it seemed, had become personal.

Harvey examined a distressed phaser rifle sharing a case with several Jem'hadar disruptors, reading how the ship's Chief of Security dug in on Deck Six to hold against the invaders. The lieutenant was the one of the last Starfleet personnel to die aboard the ship, but not before his mission was successful.

With aid from a couple Miranda-class ships, the crew of the Black Hawk was able to retain control of their vessel, but their spirits were broken. As the Allied Forces declared victory, the Black Hawk was towed back to Andoria for repairs. She sat out most of the war; seeing her next and last bit of action at Cardassia Prime, but without a starfighter squadron to call the Black Hawk home.

For years, the fighter bay was left empty. Harvey could tell this plaque had recently been replaced, especially since it noted that the addition of the 325th Striking Eagles was the first time since the war the Black Hawk carried a squadron.

While most of the room featured the Black Hawk's war history, a couple cases at the end displayed a few artifacts from the Black Hawk's post-war service. Without color, the last ten years of the Black Hawk's history contained little of importance to speak of.

And then Harvey paused, surprised by this next and final exhibit; a display of the ship's four commanding officers. Captain Bueller, of course was first and prominently featured. 2385 was when he finally retired from Starfleet. Two other Captains held down the center chair besides him, one a Bolian and the other an Andorian, each one serving barely a year.

Now, according to this display, Harvey was in command. Harvey had never seen his face on a display before, and he was immediately agitated.

This room told the story of heroes. His face had no business being part of it. It took every impulse to reach out to his yeoman at that moment to have his image stricken from the record. Instead, he walked right out of the room. Harvey stopped beside the bulkhead just outside and leaned back onto it. His rage built up, knowing his own past. Quickly, his rage yielded to frustration and tears, his nervous system overwhelmed with emotions he had stuffed inside him for more than a decade. He lost control of his legs and slid to the floor, leaving the war-ravaged bulkhead to keep him upright.

Harvey served on three ships during the war. The first two were destroyed in combat quickly, and the most heroic thing Harvey had done was rush an injured crewman to an escape pod who otherwise wouldn't have made it.

That and liberating a small handful of refugees from Betazed during his own escape, though that was more about finding his wife than a selfless act of rescue and heroism.

He always wanted to live a quiet life, and had done so well in the last ten years. For the first time since taking command, he questioned his purpose in being here. Had the Black Hawk, once a symbol of heroism, come so far down that no one wanted her. And he, a man aged 43 years who had just earned a rank normally granted to those ten years his junior, was judged to be the commander of this humiliated vessel with not a soul left aboard to remember her days of glory?

He felt for the inaugural captain, wondering at how long he'd been able to sit in the chair knowing all of this. Harvey, probably for the same reasons, returned to Starbase 211 well after the war, hoping to resume a life long lost. The red collar and the three pips he now wore were evidence of that failure.

His puffy eyes drifted across the across the corridor where debris reconstituted themselves to surround the fallen Petty Officer. Her screams had been reduced to a whimper. As blood still flowed from her forehead, she noticed the man with the red collar staring at her. "Help me," she whispered. There was another explosion, blinding Harvey once more.

The light returned to normal, illuminating no evidence that the experience was anything but real. The damaged bulkhead was still there, but the fresh carpet was no longer contaminated by debris or blood.

Harvey stared at where the woman had been as a tear rolled down his left cheek. "I don't know if I can."


===

Cmdr. Harvey Geisler, CO

 

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