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My Shot

Posted on 20 Apr 2017 @ 4:03pm by Commander Thiago Teixeira & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Shore Leave
Location: DS 11
Timeline: August 30, 2388

It had been several days since he’d sat down with Rear Admiral Fallbrook. The rather severe woman was part of the team Starfleet Command had sent to debrief those that had been stuck in the Gamma Quadrant and had dealt with the Consortium. She was a tall woman, lean with salt and pepper hair framing her face. Her green eyes betrayed nothing, nor did her face, which remained a rather stony visage. Their conversation had left him with much to think about.

But he’d made up his mind. It was a good opportunity. And there was no way of knowing what might happen otherwise.

No matter how hard it would be, Thiago knew he had to do it. He had to talk to Harvey.

He had located Geisler on DS11 and had arranged for transport up from the planet, after informing the Captain that they needed to talk. He had recommended that they meet in one of DS11’s smaller cafes.

When he arrived, he sat down at a table and waited to Geisler to arrive.

For the last few days, Harvey had been subjected to interview after interview. In each one, he remained emotionless; although, with each successive meeting with Internal Affairs and the brass, the more reality began to sink in. He was a Captain without a ship, a commander without a crew. Though he still wore a uniform, the rank pips on his collar had never felt so hollow.

Whatever time was not spent in meetings was spent assisting Commodore O’Connell with the cleanup on Deep Space 11 and scheduling interviews with other members of the former crew of the Black Hawk.

When the notice from Commander Teixeira came through, Harvey couldn’t help but frown. These last few days felt like months, a massive eternity, and Harvey knew this was the beginning of the inevitable. The crew was going to be broken up, scattered around the quadrant or even the galaxy. Already, he’d seen fifty crew members from the Black Hawk be reassigned to the Scorpio, the O’Carroll, and other ships.

Harvey shook his head. He refused to accept the fact that Thiago was moving on, even though he subconsciously knew there was nothing more to do. With his ship resting in pieces on the planet along, he had nothing to bargain with.

As he approached the cafe where they would meet, Harvey shook his head again. Perhaps the man just wanted to talk about current events, shoot the breeze, and catch up. Spotting Thiago, Harvey thought, Yes, that’s exactly it.

“Thiago,” Harvey greeted the man rather informally, joining the Brazilian at the table.

“Captain,” he replied, standing. “I just barely got here, so I haven’t ordered anything. Hungry?” Teixeira wasn’t hungry, but he knew that he needed to buy some time to prepare himself. The Commander also did want to catch up with Geisler on what he might know about the going’s on of their former crew.

“I could use a bite,” Harvey replied. Truth be told, he couldn’t remember the last time he ate anything more than a piece of a ration bar.

Motioning for a waiter, Thiago sat down. He resisted the urge to blurt out his announcement, knowing that he should ease into it.

“What can I get for you?” the waiter asked, looking to Thiago first. Teixeira deferred to the higher ranked Geisler, director the waiter to him. The waiter looked to Geisler. “Sir?”

Harvey had to think about it for a moment. “How about a reuben?” he asked the waiter, who nodded in reply. “And a glass of water, easy on the ice.”

The waiter turned his attention to Thiago.

“The honey mustard chicken panini sounds good,” Teixeira said.

“Something to drink?”

“Iced tea.” Thiago answered. “Unsweetened.”

The waiter nodded and departed, heading to another table.

“How have you been, sir?”

“Well,” Harvey said, adjusting how his body was positioned on the worn chair. “I’ve been well enough. I’ve lost ships before, but never as a Captain. It’s, uh, still a bit surreal. How about yourself?”

Ease into it, he reminded himself. “It has been strange not being on a ship. Losing the Hawk was tough. Even harder on you, I’m sure. She was my home for only a brief time.”

The waiter returned with their drinks. “Your sandwiches will be right up.”

“Thanks,” Thiago said before the waiter disappeared again. “You’ve been debriefed,” he began, more a statement than a question. “How did it go?”

“I took command last December,” Harvey said, picking up the glass of water and taking a sip of it. The temperature was perfect, a term he hadn’t been able to utilize about any event in particular over the last few days. “It’s certainly been hard. As for the debriefings, I’ve been through… four sessions now. They’ve focused a lot on Gavara and the mission I was unknowingly conducting for the Consortium, and the events in the Hadyn Nebula. Have they talked to you about that yet?”

Teixeira nodded. “They didn’t have a whole lot for me, really. They wanted to know about the crew of the Cochrane; how they performed, how they acted, if there was anything odd. Seemed like they were trying to root out any lingering Consortium agents.”

The waiter returned, this time with food. He set a plate before each of the men. “Enjoy.”

He waited until the waiter was several paces away. “I think they were satisfied enough with my answers.” He picked up a fry from his plate. “They asked about Commander Bast.”

Harvey, having picked up his rueben, but not yet raised to his mouth, paused. His left eyebrow arched at the mention of the Trill Operations Chief. Harvey hadn’t yet been asked about any of the crew, but Thiago’s statement only confirmed to Harvey that more debriefings were coming. He sat the rueben back down on the plate and sighed, thinking of how Bast was involved in some of the sabotage of the Black Hawk’s computer and the firefight on the supposed medical convoy. “What’d you tell them?” he asked.

“The truth,” the Brazilian man said simply. He put the fry in his mouth and chewed. He’d worked with Bast on the Cochrane and owed the man his life. “That Commander Bast had proven his loyalty to the Black Hawk, including her captain and crew. That without him, the Cochrane crew would most likely not have made it back.” He locked eyes with Geisler. “That I trust Bast implicitly.” After a few seconds, he looked back down at his plate. “That seemed to satisfy my debrief panel.”

“Have you been contact with anyone else from the crew?” he asked, changing the subject. He didn’t want to pile on Geisler’s stress.

“A few,” Harvey answered, his mind still on the pending debriefings regarding the crew. For a brief moment, there were flashes in his mind of he and Commander del Rosario in the ready room just as Roget phasered him. Brushing the thoughts aside, he continued. “Doctor Kij, Lieutenant Corwin, the cadets. Several other junior officers. And you?”

His encounter with Jayla in the hospital stairwell came to mind. “I talked with the Doctor not long after...everything,” he explained, opting not to describe the circumstances of that particular exchange. “Other than that, no.” Picking up his own sandwich, Thiago took a bite, his teeth crunching through the grill-marked bread. A little chewing and a swallow later, he realized that, as good as the panini was, he wasn’t actually that hungry. “I wasn’t on the Black Hawk long enough to have developed many friendships.” Putting his food down, he took a sip of his iced tea. “Any indication of what Starfleet’s plans are for you? Or the crew?”

Harvey had picked up his rueben and begun to eat. Even though this was his first real meal in three days, it didn’t strike his palate like he thought it would have. Still, his stomach clamoured for something of substance, and this would probably be all it got for at least another day. “Some of the crew has already started to transfer… well… be reassigned.” There, after all, wasn’t much to transfer away from seeing how the ship was now a pile of rubble on the planet’s surface. “It’s easier to place crewmen and ensigns, but not so much with captains.”

“There’s always some position that needs filling,” Thiago reminded. “After all, every Admiral needs an adjutant. Not that I think you’d enjoy that lifestyle,” he grinned. “I’m sure you’ll be back in the center seat before too long. Starfleet isn’t stupid.”

“I already don’t enjoy the life of the adjutant,” Harvey quickly stated. “Commodore O’Connell’s been keeping me close. Almost too close if you ask me.” He took another bite and pondered Thiago’s comment about being back in the center seat. There weren’t many ships that needed a Captain right now, except for ships that the Consortiums once had a claim on. But, he didn’t cherish the idea of being given a new command without the Black Hawk’s command staff.

Just do it! he told himself, sucking up a deep breath. “I had a debrief with Admiral Fallbrook. She was the one who questioned me the most about my time commanding the Cochrane.”

“How’d it go?” Harvey asked in between bites of his rueben. He did note the Commander’s deep breath, and Harvey instantly knew something was up.

“It was straightforward. At first. It must have been about an hour into the meeting, I got a sense that there was something behind all of her questions. Something more than trying to understand the situation and the loyalties of the Cochrane’s crew.”

Harvey nodded. If there was ever an expert on the Cochrane since the removal of the Consortium crew, it would be the man sitting in front of him. It was a shame that Thiago had been in command for only a week, but Harvey certainly missed him at his side on the Black Hawk. “Oh?” he asked.

Thiago leaned back in his chair. “She offered me command of the Cochrane.”

Harvey couldn’t even say he was surprised. If anything, this matter was inevitable. Harvey couldn’t even count how many times he’d been on the other side of the table, informing a supervising officer of a transfer. The roles had been reversed for the first time on the Black Hawk when several senior officers came and went, but few had ever struck a chord with him. Commander Kos had been one of the exceptions, yet her departure was nothing compared to what he was now feeling at Thiago’s admission. Slowly, he lowered what remained of the rueben back to its plate.

Having disclosed the offer, there was no reason for the seasoned XO to hold anything back. “I told her I wanted to take a few days to think about it. She granted it,” he explained. “It makes sense to accept it, especially since we don’t know what’s happening with the Black Hawk’s crew.”

The Captain leaned back at his chair, his eyes studying Thiago for a moment. He could sense that just disclosing the offer had been the source of some sort of stress, and that not all of it had subsided. If anything, Harvey was certain that Thiago wasn’t totally sold. Perhaps he was looking for permission or a counter-offer. This, Harvey mused, would be a lot different if I still had a ship…

“Were I Vulcan, I would tend to agree,” Harvey said at last. “I won’t lie, Thiago. You and I both know your service record. You’ve been a career XO, something that I too have experienced. Sooner or later, having a center chair of your own sounds irresistible.”

“Perhaps,” he started slowly. “I never saw myself in Command. When I joined Starfleet, I was sure I’d bounce around some. And that did happen. I was happy, especially when I moved into Ops. It fit me well. So well, in fact, that I found myself creeping into command when I was made Second Officer.” He took another sip of his iced tea. The ice had melted enough that the flavor was getting thinner. “I did as I had up until that point in my career; I threw myself into the position.”

The waiter approached once again to check on them. Teixeira waved him off before the server could get a word out.

“And now, here I am, having served as Exec on three ships. In each case, I’ve had the honor of serving under top notch commanding officers.” Pausing, Thiago tilted his head slightly. “Though this stint was briefer than I thought it would be.”

Harvey sighed. “Of course, I can’t deny the fact that you and I had barely a couple of weeks together. What we just went through feels like a lifetime. If I still had a ship, I’d selfishly want you at my side. And, I’m sure I’ll wind back up in command of something, and when I do, I would like for you to be there.” He shook his head and added, “Of course, we have no idea when that will be, and if you turn down command now, there’s no telling how long it’ll be before you’re asked again.”

He knew Geisler was right. An opportunity like this might not come along again. Especially a ship that he already had experience with. He’d spent years serving on an Intrepid-class previously, and had, of course, been on the Cochrane already. He knew the existing senior staff. He knew what they had been through. He’d been through it too.

“If the option was there, Harvey,” he said, using the other man’s given name for the first time, “I’d stand by your side. It would be an honor to continue to serve with you. But, as you said, we don’t know what’s in your future.”

Harvey had picked up the reuben to have another bite, this time noting that he only had a couple left to take. He also did note Thiago’s candor and found himself appreciating it, rather than sticking to formality. He’d rarely grown that close to a fellow officer to use given names so quickly, except during the Dominion War. Conflict was well known for bonding crewmates together, regardless of rank or position. Perhaps this was why Harvey felt the way he did. He wasn’t just losing a crew or a ship.

He was losing a family.

As soon as he finished chewing, he said, “If only I had the ability to say so with certainty.I certainly won’t stop you from taking a chance to advance your career. I’m sure we’ll hear soon. It wouldn’t be like Starfleet to leave a lot of us out in the cold for an extended period of time.”

“It’s cold in space. Trust me,” he said with a smile, “I’m a scientist. Sort of.” It was a weak attempt at a joke, but he felt the need to do something to lighten the mood. It was the least he could after dropping news like that on Geisler. Getting serious again, he continued. “It has been an honor, Harvey. I certainly hope that our paths will cross again. And if you ever need an adjutant after they make you a flag officer, you need only ask.” Thiago looked down at his plate. Having gotten his news off his chest, he found himself hungry again.

“You should eat that before it gets cold,” Harvey himself joked, cracking a half smile. He appreciated Thiago’s attempt to alleviate the serious nature of the conversation. It was difficult to think about not having Thiago as an XO, but not as difficult as it was to imagine himself with a flag rank. After commanding a starship, if he was ever forced to leave the chair permanently, he’d have to choose retirement instead.

“And the honor’s been mine,” Harvey stated, having finished his reuben. For the first time, Harvey glanced towards the edge of the cafe and out the viewport. He did want to go back out there, back among the stars. As much as he originally resented being dragged out of a medical lab and placed in command red, he’d acquired a newfound love for exploration. He didn’t see exploration all that different from studying a disease or practicing medicine. Space presented infinite possibilities for anyone brave or anxious enough to warp into the beyond.

Looking back to Thiago, Harvey said, “I only wish our time together had been longer. But, who knows? We might not be done with each other just yet.”

“The Great Bird works in mysterious ways,” he replied with a smirk. “But for now...let’s enjoy lunch.”

 

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