Letting Go

Posted on 13 Dec 2013 @ 6:12am by Captain Harvey Geisler
Edited on on 01 Jan 2014 @ 6:37am

Mission: New Voyages
Location: Betazed
Timeline: December 21, 2387

Harvey tightened his scarf in a futile attempt to protect himself against the bitter, cold wind that howled in his ears. Betazed was a lovely place, even in a winter season. It was a place, however, that Harvey had refused to step foot on for more than twelve years. He was a 20-year Starfleet veteran and seen wonders many would have given an arm and a leg to see.

He was also one of a diminishing number of officers who had experienced the horrors of the Dominion War. When the war began, Harvey was stationed on Starbase 211, heading a division of a Medicinal Research Team. It was there he found his wife, Alison, a fellow researcher. She was bold and sanguine, and was the first person in Harvey's life who was able to break his shell and explore his personality.

Which is what made his standing in front of the Betazed memorial so difficult. Several hundred thousand died while the Dominion took, held and withdrew from Betazed. Starbase 211 was the first fall during the Dominion's advance, forcing an early evacuation of the wounded and medical personnel to Betazed. Throughout the chaotic evacuation, Harvey and Alison were separated at the Starbase, each attending to a group of wounded on transports and ultimately on the surface of Betazed.

His last memory of her was a smile to each other across the shuttlebay. There hadn't even been time for a kiss or a goodbye. Night after night, he revisited that memory again and again, wishing he had even said one final word to her and he dreamed of what he would do the first time he saw her smiling face again.

For five months, Harvey did not see or hear from Alison in the slightest. The Dominion made it very difficult for different groups to communicate with each other, and even put the surviving Starfleet blues to work treating injured in their camps just enough to keep them alive. It wasn't until he was transferred to a different camp that he learned about what happened to Alison...

Harvey walked along side the memorial where there was a long wall featuring a list of names of who perished during the invasion and occupation. He tightened his scarf yet again as the bitter cold fought its way into every fiber of his being. His footsteps grew heavier with each step while Harvey's brown eyes scanned each name on every section. For fifteen minutes, he didn't see anything.

The researcher knew what he would find, but he held onto hope that--

Alison Michaels Geisler, SF LTJG

Cold enveloped Harvey's tightly wrapped body. Tears formed in his eyes and threatened to freeze as they rolled down his face. Unlike the night when he learned the news, Harvey fought every urge to wail.

His struggle was brief. Within a moment, his knees found the ground. Tears continued to flow as he bent over, gloved fists hitting the ground. Inhuman sounds sprang out of his mouth, finally accepting the truth.

Never again would he see her smile or hear her laugh. Never again would he get to speak to her.

The Dominion didn't even leave behind a body to bury. During the first wave of the invasion, Alison's triage center was hit by a torpedo. Ten square meters had been entirely vaporized, leaving behind very little to ID the remains. After the war, forensic experts determined that Alison stood right next to the very impact point and never could have known what happened.

Harvey took little comfort knowing she never suffered. Life in the prison camps was brutal. Half of Harvey's research team never left Betazed alive, and Alison was the only one killed in the attack. He and a few others found a way to escape the horrors of Betazed. Until now, Harvey could not bear to return.

Then again, who planned on exploding EPS conduits? Harvey certainly didn't a month ago when the USS Schuster, his assignment at the time had an unfortunate encounter and Harvey severely injured. He was transferred back to Starbase 211 for treatment, and took leave based on the Counselor's suggestion. The Counselor insisted, actually, seeing how Harvey never took any time following the war to decompress.

The wails he gave now were all the evidence needed to support his leave. Harvey knew this would hurt, but he didn't think it would be so great. He did not move, but his wails turned to sobbing.

Finally, after what seemed to be hours (the sky was beginning to get dark), Harvey found the strength to stand. Bloodshot eyes struggled to focus on Alison's name. With feeble strength, Harvey lifted his right hand and removed the glove that protected it. Trembling, he reached forward and touched the stone gently.

His mind flashed, running once again in Starbase 211's shuttlebay, barking orders to nurses and volunteers as the wounded and sick were loaded onto transports. Klaxons sounded, echoing in the large room over other shouts and engine roars. He looked up from the gurney he was guiding and looked towards Alison fifty feet away. She looked up from her patient she was loading into a shuttle and met Harvey's gaze. She flashed her trademark smile as if to say, "See you again soon."

Harvey's smile widened. Her beautiful green eyes faded into engraved letters on cold marble. The shuttlebay itself faded into the cold landscape of the memorial. Harvey's smile remained. "I love you, Alison," Harvey softly declared.

He stood there, leaving his hand exposed to the cold, his medical background failing to kick in and protect his hand from hypothermia. It was only when he could no longer read her name after darkness enveloped the memorial that he decided to leave.

The trek back to his hotel was brief thanks to a tram. Harvey was thankful for the warmth of the hotel lobby just after he stepped inside. He removed the glove from his other hand and began to rub them together. He really needed the heat from the rest of his body to thaw his hand, but he would have to wait until he returned to his room to do so.

"Mr. Geisler!" called out a voice behind him, which Harvey attributed to the front desk clerk.

He was still getting used to the term Mister after having spent the last twenty years addressed by rank. He turned to see the clerk rushing towards him. "Yes? What is it?"

"You have a visitor," the clerk replied. "He's been waiting for you in the lounge."

Harvey paused, wondering who would come to visit him on Betazed. He had few friends, and of those even fewer who would actually check in on him. Yet, he had his suspicions. "Thank you," Harvey replied. He entered the lounge, undoing his scarf as he went.

The lounge was mostly unoccupied, save for a younger man in a recognizable outfit. Gray shoulders, black tunic and pants, and a red collar. This man was Starfleet. The rank on his collar was that of a Petty Officer 2nd Class, and undoubtedly he was not thrilled to have been waiting for a very long time for his contact to arrive. "Commander Geisler," he noted, rising to his feet and standing at his attention.

"As you were," Harvey replied in a tone that lacked enthusiasm.

The Petty Officer relaxed and picked up a PADD from the counter. "Orders from Starfleet, sir."

Harvey paused for a moment. He knew this day was coming when he would be recalled. A month of leave was certainly long enough to give someone time to recover from plasma burns, broken limbs and a fragile psyche. He glanced at the locked screen of the PADD expecting to see the crew patch for the Schuster. He was surprised, however, to see something entirely different.

"I suppose you'll be escorting me--" Harvey looked up from the PADD to find that the Petty Officer had vanished. Indeed he had waited a long time for Harvey to return to the hotel. Harvey sat at the bar and set his gloves and scarf on the counter. After ordering a drink, he opened his orders, surprised even more to find them brief. He had been recalled, certainly, and surprising promoted in position. It seemed Task Force Nine required some assistance on the Gamma Quadrant frontier. A ship, the USS Black Hawk, was awaiting his arrival at Deep Space Nine. She was due to depart in ten days and he had to be there with her.

He locked the screen again and sat there, staring at the blank screen. Long ago, he gave up medicine and decided to pursue a career in command. It was only inevitable that he would command a ship one day, and now that it was here, he wasn't quite sure how it felt. Maybe that feeling would have more definition once he was on board the Black Hawk.

Harvey reached into his pocket and pulled out a small photograph. He smiled, taking note of Alison's wedding dress and her smile. The smile he would never forget. He could almost hear her say, "Go get 'em!"

The faint sound of her voice caused Harvey to smile. He raised his glass to the picture and repeated the same words he told her on their wedding night, "Here's to the future."