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A Memorial to Guilt

Posted on 01 Apr 2020 @ 12:55am by Senior Chief Petty Officer Mila Rasputin & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Sentience
Location: Ready Room
Timeline: MD3 || 0830

It had been days since Mila had tried to get passed telling Joey about her role in Torg's death, and she still hadn't succeeded. To make matters worse, it seemed that every time she tried to get in contact with Joey, the woman had something else to do. The Russian felt like she was the cause of this, in fact, she suspected it was the case, and she only had one other place to turn.

She grabbed a stack of PADDs for the Captain's attention, each one now color coded for the order of importance. She knew that Harvey had his own system, but why was she there if not to prove him that his system was clearly wrong. With the PADDs in hand, she headed to the bridge and crossed to the Ready Room and pressed the chime. She tried to go over what she wanted to say in her head, but she really didn't know until it was ready to come out.

Harvey had been sitting on the couch, his eyes reviewing the latest news brief from Gamma Command. It had arrived earlier that morning, but Harvey had to wait until his inspection had been completed before reading. So far, there hadn't been anything unusual or unexpected. Still, he didn't look up when the chime sounded. "Come in," he called out, not moving from his position.

Mila entered with the PADDs in hand and her eyes went to the desk where the Captain usually sat. When he wasn't there, she looked over to the couch. "Captain," she said with a nod as she advanced on him. "I am bringing new presents for you and this time, they are being color coded for importance." She glanced at the haphazard pile on his desk and more on the couch. "Unlike those."

He couldn't help but grimace. Six months at Gamma Command clearly did nothing to change his habits, if anything, it only made them further engrained. "If those are presents, I'd hate to see what punishment looks like," he remarked after glancing up to see what she held. "Anything of dire importance at the moment?"

"It is just being the usual," the Yeoman said as she offered him the PADDs. "It is not like you are telling me the order of what you are considering important."

Harvey handed her the news briefing from Gamma Command in the exchange for the new pile. The top padd had the duty roster for next week, the one below it the latest efficiency reports on HASA, and below it an update from medical. "Ah, good," he remarked, selecting that third padd to read first. He waved it for a moment, adding, "Doctor Jennin's initial assessment of sickbay. Do you think I'll like this one?"

"Is dry, dull, and uninteresting," Mila said. "Much like the line of work he conducts. But is not Doctor Milo, and I am being happy about that."

"Not a fan of the Betazoid, are we?" Harvey asked, starting to skim the Bajoran's initial report.

She snorted, which was very unladylike. "My first meeting with him was less than to be desired," she said and it was clear that something went on between the two of them.

Harvey noted Mila lacked her usual decorum while hinting at an unsatisfactory interaction with the man. "And what of Doctor Jennin? The lesser of two evils?"

"I am not knowing much about him," Mila admitted. "His reports are being dry, but informative and to the point. I am hearing, however, that he was thrilled to be learning that Jayla was leaving ship. That was being unexpected on her part."

"Absolutely unexpected," Harvey confirmed. "I remember what it was like to get my dream job, and that feels like a lifetime ago. Not much else matters, including dropping a hand grenade and leaving a bunch of others to rebuild what was left behind."

"Much like I am having to do with Joey," she said softly, the analogy feeling adequate to her and she had been the grenade.

Had it not been for his impromptu lunch with Joey yesterday, Harvey might have been baffled by that statement. "She doesn't blame you, you know?" Harvey shared. "Joey understands you didn't have a choice."

"She..." Mila was surprised and not surprised that Joey had told him that she had killed Torg. She looked down and shook her head. "It was my fault, Harvey. I'm the one that made that choice to fight instead of running. Maybe I should have let him put one of those things in me."

"Trust me, Mila," Harvey said, sliding over on the couch and setting the padds he held down. "No one should ever want to be a puppet, especially with a Dolmoqour at the helm. We've had time to study the Dolmoqour methods. It's plain to say that you were targeted. You had... have unique access and talents. Had the Dolmoqour secured you, then it's certainly possible none of us would have survived."

The Russian shook her head, still blaming herself heavily. "I still could have done other things, but resorted to violence." She shuddered. "I still smell him. I hear him at night. I see him in every dream."

"Have you talked to a Counselor about this?" Harvey asked. He rose from the couch and crossed the room to the replicator.

"Nyet. Counselors could not understand," his Yeoman said as she watched him and there was such a sad look in her normally bright eyes.

Harvey turned to meet those eyes with a steaming cup of sbiten. He grimaced as he held the beverage out to her. "Counselors aren't supposed to understand. They're to help you process what happened. Besides, there is a difference between violence and self defense."

Mila accepted the hot honey drink with a wan smile as she looked up at him. "I did not have to kill him," she whispered. "Life is precious and I ended his. There is no processing that."

He didn't have much to say to follow that. His right hand wandered to his left, permitting his right thumb to knead the opposing palm. "I remember the first time I killed someone," he told Mila. "It was fifteen years ago, but it still feels like yesterday. I was in a restroom, and I'd just been told that my wife... Alison... had been killed. A Jem'Hadar entered, ready to get me back to work."

Harvey let his hands go, now demonstrating the actions he'd taken all those years ago. "I used my right hand, jabbed him in the throat. He staggered back, but he tried to raise his rifle at the same time. I grabbed the underside of the rifle, pushed upward to keep the momentum going. It just happened to hit him in the face. I got both hands on the rifle and I rammed it into his face again. He tried to reach for his disruptor, but I got the rifle out of his grip and stabbed him in the heart with its bayonet."

He let his hands drop and he leaned against the desk. "To this day, I don't know who that Jem'hadar had killed, but I'm sure he didn't kill my wife. And I'm sure I didn't have to kill him. In that moment, I just felt like I had to. I couldn't control my rage, or myself."

She listened as her Captain and her friend told the chilling tale and tried to relate to it. She wanted to let it out of her but if that was like yesterday for Harvey, then she would experience Torg's death forever. "How...how did you get through it?" She managed, her voice thick as she fought the desire to cry again.

"Truthfully?" Harvey asked. He paused for a second as he tried to figure out how he should answer that question. "There are days when I don't think about it. And... there are days when I can't avoid it. When I practiced medicine, I took an oath to do no harm. But, the moment you go into triage and you have to make that first difficult decision... when two people are dying, but you only have enough time to save one..."

Harvey shook his head. "And then you decide that someone who's perfectly healthy just... no longer deserves to live? That's a hard choice to live with. For me, it's forced me to look for ways to not kill someone, even when my own life is in danger. Have I had to kill since then? Unfortunately, yes. And I remember all of those too. You get through something like this by finding the meaning in both life and death."

"He did not have the choice to come after me," she pointed out. "I was only one to have choice. I am understanding what you are meaning. This...it is feeling like murder. I killed a helpless being. From what I am hearing, he was seeing and knowing inside of his mind and could not do a thing to stop what the Dolmoqour was doing, and he saw what I was doing and could not stop it."

"Petty Officer Torg was a casualty of war," Harvey reasoned. "He may have been helpless and involuntarily abducted by the Dolmoqour, but it was the Dolmoqour you were fighting. From what I've heard, those who were infected had absolutely no control, but it didn't mean they didn't try to stop what was happening. Torg was likely fighting for both his life and yours at the time of his death. For all we know, he could have died grateful that you lived, free from the parasite's grasp."

She nodded, but her heart and mind wouldn't let her off that easily. "I feel like I should be in the New Zealand Penal Colony," she told him, her accent completely gone.

"Maybe you should take some time off," Harvey suggested, figuring now he wasn't really getting through to her. "Neither of us can bring Torg back from the dead, but you can find ways to honor his memory. Maybe that's what you need to do to find his and your forgiveness."

"Wait...like War Memorial on ship?" Mila asked when he suggested finding a way to honor him. Her eyes had a hint of hope and she looked as if she were already planning something.

"That's not a bad idea, actually," Harvey stated, the wheels in his mind turning as well. "We lost more than eighty people on that mission. Some at the hands of the Dolmoqour, others because they were infected, most of whom just weren't in control of their actions."

"Is..it's a good idea, Harvey," she said and offered him a smile. "With your permission, I'd like to do that."

"Permission is granted," he confirmed, returning her smile with one of his own.

Mila set the tea aside and came to her feet with her arms out. "May...may I hug you?" she asked timidly.

Harvey knew better than to refuse her, especially in her current state of mind. "Also granted." He held out both of his arms as a confirmation.

The Russian gave him a hug and laid her head on his shoulder briefly. "Thank you, Harvey," she said softly. "It is meaning more to me than anything."

"You're welcome," Harvey replied, holding her tightly for a moment. "If anyone on this ship can do it justice, it's you."

"Thank you again," Mila said. "Now then...to get this day started."

 

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