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Mission 7 - Harris Transport Chronicles Chapter 2 (HTC2)

The Harris family becomes aware of the Lost Fleet situation with Rachel McKee and Natalie Harris deciding to help investigate along with Jordan Reid

HTC2 001 – There’s Something Out There

Earth - Harris Transport - Montana
3.05.2401

“I’m hearing a lot of heat from our customers and suppliers about this ‘border skirmish’ going on.” Rachel Harris sat in her office, the screen filled with the various Harris Transport locations in the galaxy.  One of the station’s operators had just finished speaking, suggesting that the reality of what was happening was very different from what they were seeing on the wires from FNN.  “We’ve seen a load of Fourth Fleet movement out there…like the entire fleet is in the middle of this thing.  Doesn’t seem to line up with what we’re getting told.”

Harris didn’t mince words, “Our business isn’t military; it’s transport.  Let’s keep an eye on it anyway – some of our contracts have us skirting that section of space.  I don’t want to be surprised by something that isn’t supposed to exist.”  The meeting continued for another hour before each screen went black.

Natalie Harris spoke up from the couch, “They sound worried.”  She sipped at her coffee.  She felt the emptiness left by her brother.  Work was helping her process and find time to focus her energy in valuable ways.

The older Harris was getting the same feeling, “In all our years, I’ve never had them this nervous.  Being out there far from safety is always a risk, but they’ve been strong year after year…and suddenly, it’s as if the universe could very well end tomorrow.”  She wondered, “Do you think they’re right?”

Natalie downed the rest of her coffee, feeling the welcome warmth spreading in her body.  “I know you don’t ignore people in the field when they start sounding like the same.  If it walks like a Galaxy Class, if it sounds like a Galaxy Class…it’s probably a Galaxy Class.  Plus, they’re fat.  They tend to waddle anyway.”  She cackled at her joke, but her mother ignored it, her mind already moving.

Her daughter wasn’t wrong, but it was leading Rachel to make a decision.  They would need to know for sure…and there weren’t a lot of ways to find out the truth beyond getting out there and finding out.  “We’ll need to find out what is going on out there, Nat.”

She stood, her typical smile spread wide, “You know I’m always ready for something.”

Rachel was still thinking as she chuckled, “You’d need a team.  I’m stuck here…”

“I could get McKee…and I’m sure Jordan could use some space to spread her wings.  She’s been talking about taking a trip back to space.”

The Harris Transport CEO tapped at her console, “I’ll find a ship for you….you get your crew…and we’ll get some answers.”

HTC2 002 – A Visitor

Harris Transport - Jordan Reid's Home
3.05.2401

Jordan Reid sat on the porch of her home overlooking the beauty of the Montana sky, her hands wrapped around the steaming mug of black coffee.  It was a mug from the Erigone, her first command.  She had crawled out of the wallowing grief that had threatened to drown her and was sitting in the lawn chair, metaphorically drying her heart and soul in the growing sunshine.  It had been under a month since the Devore Imperium murdered her boyfriend.  She had crawled through the various stages of grief, soaked in emotion and tears.  She took another sip and relished the bluntness of the medium roast as it slapped around her palette.  Reid leaned back in her chair, closing her eyes.  She wasn’t sure how much time had passed before she was gently woken up by the plodding feet of Natalie Harris, which she sleepily greeted with a wave.

“Morning, Jord.”  Natalie had her cup of coffee doctored with one sugar and one cream.  Reid scrunched up her nose as the young woman took a drink, and the two shared a gentle smile.  Jordan was a purist.

“You don’t usually start with coffee.  You want something.”  Reid groaned as she pushed herself up in her chair and stretched.  “What do you want, Nat?”

“I have a mission.”  She explained the details as she intermittently downed her coffee.  When she finished, she curled up her feed under her, “I talked to McKee on my way over here…she’s a go…but only if you go.”  The three women all shared a connection with Ambrose.  One was his sister, the other a former coworker, and the other was his love.  To Natalie, it sounded like a setup for a joke.

Reid rolled her eyes, “Well if I say no, I’m the jackass.”  She stared out over the Big Sky Country.  Jordan admitted, “If I’m honest…I’ve missed it.”  The doctor pulled the blanket she had tighter, “I looked at the calendar this morning…I met Ambrose on March 20th, a year ago, on the USS Erigone.”  She searched the sparse clouds for the memories of their first meeting, “I wasn’t happy about it at first…or even at second…but eventually I figured out I was better off with Ambrose as my CO than anyone else.  Even if the Raven was goddamned small.”

Natalie nodded, “They say being on a Raven builds character…or something.”  She’d never had the pleasure but had heard plenty.

Jordan thought through the journey from Erigone to Edinburgh to Mackenzie.  At each step, she had Ambrose with her to brace against the solar winds of life.  That protection had been ripped from her, and she’d been struggling to understand her purpose in life without him.  “He captured my everything…I couldn’t imagine a life without him…now I have to start building my life back again.”  Natalie turned at her words, and Reid decided, “I think I need to find my way in the universe…literally and metaphorically.  Maybe this mission will help.”

Harris put her hands up, “It’s going to be dangerous, Jord.  We’re going into places we shouldn’t to find out the stuff they’re avoiding on FNN.  It’s going to be….”

She let a half smile show as she suggested, “It sounds like the stuff we did on the Erigone or the Edinburgh…not to mention the Mackenzie…what is that saying…’Risk is our business’?  Ambrose used to say it every so often.”  She pushed herself out of the chair, “You’ve got your doctor.”  She smelled her clothes, “Maybe a shower first…and some laundry.”

Natalie nodded emphatically, “McKee is coming over to help.”  Jordan scowled at her, and she gestured to the messy house as they entered, “I’m not wrong, am I?”

Reid mumbled as she climbed the stairs to the master bath, “You may have a point.  Give me twenty…and I’ll be down.”

Harris watched her reach the top of the stairs and muttered to herself, “Yea…this gonna be great.  Just great.” 

HTC2 003 – The Unknown and The Known

SS Ambrose
3.05.2401 - 3.07.2403

McKee stood on the platform, bags slung over her shoulders.  The Aerie Class ship sat on the launch pad, swarmed by Harris Transport crew working on getting her ready for launch.  For Elizabeth, it was a moment of decision.  She’d spent much of the last month mourning the loss of her friend and former chief, Ambrose Harris.  Together with his sister and his girlfriend, she’d formed an unlikely bond that had been a support to each of them through the fog of grief.

“Mckee!”  Natalie Harris embraced her with a broad smile, startling her.  “Thank you for coming along.”  She pulled back, “How are you feeling about this….thing.”

Elizabeth indicated the finishing work on the ship, “I’m here…that’s all I really have.  Been wanting to get back out there…I’ll know more about how I’m feeling once we’re at warp speed.”  She noticed Jordan stepping into the room, her belongings being pulled behind her in a hover cart, “How is she?”

Natalie glanced at Reid and gave her a wave. Jordan smiled briefly and went to the loading bay.  “How are any of us doing is the better question.  I wake up with tears most mornings…but I need to find my way out there.”  She leaned into McKee’s shoulder, “Nobody should do this kind of thing alone…I know it’s good that we’re together.”

She gave a skeptical look, “Putting three grief-stricken women on a ship together, flying blindly into the darkness to poke around for a mysterious enemy?”

Harris laughed dryly, “You make us sound so helpless and damsel-ly, McKee.  I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to skulking around and being the master spy I always dreamed of being.”

McKee rolled her eyes dramatically, “Let’s get on board before you say something more audacious and borderline unbelievable.”

Natalie snorted, “I’m just getting started.”

 

“SS Ambrose, you are cleared for departure.  Federation Flight Operations has you cleared to depart at warp six towards the Deneb sector.  The transport manifest has been verified.  Your flight plan has been approved.”

Elizabeth sat in the center chair of the bridge, while Harris sat in the helm, and Reid took a rear console.  The bridge was an older model, but it was functional.  McKee ordered, “Natalie, get us in the air and follow the departure course.”  The older ship rumbled as it pushed off and headed into the air.  Harris carefully followed the predetermined route and gripped her console as they transitioned through the lower atmosphere into the upper atmosphere, and eventually, they loped out into space.  She tapped a path through the crowded transport and shipping lanes, grimacing as she had to move slowly through each portion or else she’d get pulled over to talk to Transport Operations.  They were never very happy to talk to the offenders.  The SS Harris slid through the required inspection point, and after fifteen minutes, they were clear and flying through the Sol System.  She announced they were clear.  McKee dropped her shoulders in relief.  One stressful part of their journey was done, “Plot us a course for Farpoint station, maximum warp…and get us on our way.”  Natalie tapped at the console, and SS Harris leaped to warp.

 

“Well, what do we have?”  McKee sat in the crew mess, PADDs spread across the table.  A few days had passed, and the information-gathering operation had begun earnestly.  From tracking civilian communications and movements to tracking Starfleet ships, they had put together a haphazard map, emphasizing the haphazard.

Reid read from her PADD, “There’s a lot of talk about this not being a Breen skirmish…a lot of what’s on the local wires is that this is a Dominion invasion and attack.”  She acknowledged the shared gasps from the other two, “It’s ludicrous – the Gamma Quadrant is where they’ve stayed for the last twenty-five years.”

Harris was next, “I talked to a bunch of our transport captains,’ and they are scared shitless…sorry, scared witless.  A few of them had sensor reports to share…and they’re right to be scared.”  She tapped the PADD, and the main screen in the mess was filled with a plethora of sensor data.  “Those are Dominion ships and Dominion fighters.  Big ones…and lots of them.”  She shook her head in shock, “There’s not much good news either as I kept going.  Those sensor logs and their observations…they think it’s The Lost Fleet.”

Reid snapped her head to stare at Harris, “That’s…insanity!  There’s no way!  They went into the wormhole and never came back.  The Prophets tore them apart 25 years ago.” It was her turn to shake her head, “No way.  Just…no.”

Natalie wished she had better answers, “It’s not just our people.  There are many people in the way of this…or have already been run over that are saying the same thing repeatedly.  The full force of the Dominion is here.”  She tossed her PADD into the pile, “I’ve got transport captains refusing to leave the relative safety of Farpoint Station, and the panic is spreading.”  A long sigh, “Mom’s having a hell of a time keeping everyone in order.  She’s had a few calls from the Fourth Fleet to see about providing humanitarian supplies and transport.”

McKee groaned, “I know where this is going.  If she accepts, she acknowledges the reality of what’s happening out here…and that means she’ll be out of step with what’s being reported and the official Starfleet stance on the matter.  There’s a good chance people turn on Harris Transport…people could choose to take their business elsewhere.”

Reid grumbled, “People will think Harris Transport believes in conspiracy theories and fake news.”  She wondered, “Nat…what do you think she will do?”

Harris chuckled, “Well, mom’s not one to be pushed around by anyone…so she confirmed with Fourth Fleet Operations about an hour ago.  She’s working on recalling all captains who are unwilling to assist back to headquarters.  That reassignment process is going to be ugly.  We’re in it.  We’re to drop the supplies at Farpoint and pick up an additional load there and ship out for Cait – they need resupply in the face of what could be a Dominion attack.  Other Harris Transport ships will be bringing additional supplies.”

McKee was impressed by Rachel Harris.  The woman had courage where it counted.  “Get us ready for Farpoint.”  Harris nodded, and the three women went to work.

HTC2 004 – To Care or Not to Care

Caitian Colony / Fairpoint Station / SS Tallahassee / SS Ambrose
3.9.2401 - 3.11.2401

“We’ve heard the rumors…and we’re not ignoring them.” The Caitian deputy defense minister walked with Elizabeth McKee as the SS Ambrose was being unloaded, “This supply drop of weapons will go a long way…together with the raw materials you’ve supplied – we’ll be able to make use of the schematics you’ve provided.”  He stopped and looked her in the eyes, “There is still much to be decided out there, Ms. McKee, but this is the start of a fighting chance for our people.”

She felt a shift of emotion in her heart.  “Deputy Minister Csuran, that’s very kind…we’ll continue to do what we can to keep you supplied with what you need.”  She held up a PADD, “You’ve given us a lot to work on.”

Csuran meekly smiled, “You’re the first real contact we’ve had, so I figured I might as well ask for…as you humans say, the moon, and maybe I’ll get something close.”

McKee shook his hand, “You have my word; we’ll do what we can.  We’ll see if we can move that moon a little closer.”  He thanked her, and she returned to the Aeries class ship.

 

“I understand, Tallahassee, but you need to make sure that shipment gets where it’s going – you’ve got people expecting rations and supplies to help keep the fight going.”  A few days later, Natalie Harris sat at the communication station in the back of the bridge, her nerves starting to fray.  The captain of the SS Tallahassee was making every excuse in the book to avoid making his run to Galadkail Minor.  McKee walked onto the bridge and changed her path to stand behind Harris as she listened to the conversation.  “Listen, Captain…”  She swore, slammed the console out of frustration, and looked at McKee, furious, “The goddamn captain hung up on me.”  She fell back in the chair, “They aren’t listening to me.”

Elizabeth shook her head, “It’s not that they’re not listening to you, Nat…it’s that you’re not speaking their language.”  She tapped her shoulder, “Let’s visit Captain Frang…and see if we can motivate him.”  Harris cocked her head in curiosity but followed as the older of two led her off the Ambrose and on to Farpoint Station.  It took her a few minutes to get the lay of the place, but she was soon moving at a clipped pace, Natalie at her heels and then at her side as she adopted the mild swagger that McKee had developed.  They soon arrived at the dock for the Wallenberg class transport.  

A dock officer stopped them, “You’ll need….”

Natalie Harris had done a lot of thinking on her way over with McKee.  She’d worked through some of her words and had decided it was time to be bold.  “Natalie Harris, Harris Transport.  This is our ship, and I need to speak with the captain.”  He accessed his PADD and tapped it to scan her biosignature.  The device beeped in the affirmative, and he stepped aside.

 

Transport Captain Felix Frang sat comfortably on the small bridge of his ship, thinking of the places he could go and get lost.  He wasn’t a courageous man, and he’d decided to cut his losses with Harris Transport and find someone else to work with.  He wasn’t worried about taking the ship for himself – Harris Transport hadn’t been exactly keeping great track of things recently.  He’d heard about the new CEO but had dismissed her as just another figurehead.

The door to the bridge opened, and he was startled to see Natalie Harris advance on him, flanked by another woman in a Harris uniform and his first officer haranguing them both.  Harris stood before him, blocking his ability to escape, “Captain Frang, I’d like to see you in your ready room.”

He sputtered, “Anything you have to say to me, you can say to my crew.”  He cringed as the words left his mouth.  Those were not the words of the reality that sat in the command chair.  They were words from a man long ago who used to care.  He just didn’t anymore.

Natalie scowled at him, “I’ve had a long walk over here, Captain.  I’ve had a lot of time to think on that long walk.  And I’m here to ask you – will you fulfill your obligations and orders?”  Next to her, McKee was gaining a new appreciation for the younger Harris.  She had always been a bit of a spitfire, but she’d never really gathered that fire together for a purpose.  She had a purpose now.”

Frang’s mouth moved, but no words came out.  He tried again.  Nothing.  He sighed, “I don’t care anymore.”  He flinched at Natalie’s face snapping up, her eyes boring into him.  He haltingly continued, “…it doesn’t matter to me.  I try, and I try…”

Natalie found her last nerve snap.  “Shut the hell up, Frang.  I am relieving you of command of the Tallahassee and ending your contract with Harris Transport as of this moment.”

He tried to find his courage and spat back, “You can’t fire me!”  He struggled to get out of the chair, but she stood her ground, staring at him.

“I have been granted that authority just this morning by my mother.  Updated records were transmitted to all ships this morning.”  She glanced at the XO, “Can you please verify?”  He stepped over to a console, accessed the records with relief, and nodded thankfully to Harris.  She hadn’t lost eye contact with Frang, “Now, you can go willingly, or I can make today the shittiest day you’ve had in a very long time.”  Her face felt warm, her heart racing, but she was oddly calm.  Her righteous indignation meter had hit the redline, and Frang had been the one to push the big red button to release the enraged Galaxy Class within.

“I…uh…my people will never listen to you.”  His face fell as he said it.  He knew it was a lie.  His former crew had stepped back to the corners of the bridge, their hands behind their backs.  They weren’t going to intervene.

Harris stepped back, “You fucked around and found out, Frang.”  She motioned to the XO, “Your name, please?”

The tall XO stepped forward, “Marcus Walton, ma’am.”  He didn’t look at his former captain.

“Marcus Walton, you are now Captain of the SS Tallahassee.  I will make a note in the log.  You have orders to continue transport operations.  Will you complete your orders?”

Walton answered firmly, “Yes, ma’am.  We will.”  He glanced around at the crew, who were looking at him in a new light.  It felt good.

“Mr. Freng, McKee will escort you off the ship.  I will ensure your belongings are transported to the holding department on Farpoint.  I will place a one-way ticket home to Earth in your name.  Do not expect a reference.”

He followed Elizabeth McKee off the bridge, still trying to find the words to explain away his shame.  Harris walked to the console and changed the log and roster.  Natalie looked to each of them as she spoke, “Good luck to you all…and thank you for doing the right thing.”  

Walton spoke for his new crew, “Thank you for doing the same, ma’am.”

“Call me Nat. Captain Walton.  We’ll see you out there.”  She left the bridge and let out a long sigh as she returned to the SS Ambrose.  What a day. 

HTC2 005 – It’s a Small World

Jolla Colony
3.21.2401

“If there’s something worse than the Dominion, it’s the Breen.”  McKee sat in the center chair of the bridge, staring at the system map that Natalie had pulled up.  They’d been working through the Deneb system over the last week by coordinating supply drops and pickups.  Their current course took them toward a colony planet between the Breen-controlled Deptrock and Federation-controlled Janoor systems.  It was a medium-sized colony of one city with a mix of Caitians, Humans, and Betazoids.  They had intercepted a distress call after the colony had been a stop on a hit-and-run attack launched from Breen space with some Dominion fighters mixed in for good measure.  They’d been able to bloody the noses of the enemy, but they’d suffered their wounds in the fight.

Harris grumbled, “We’ve got supplies for them, but it won’t be enough.  I’ve put out a call to the Tallahassee to see if she can work some miracles.”  They were minutes away from arriving and unsure what they would see. What they had seen in their travels was a new level of hell.  Each stop was a fresh set of trauma and suffering.  And it was endless.  “There’s just so much out there…and not enough hands able to help.”  She tapped at the console, “Dropping from warp.”

They spent the next few hours stretching the supplies as best as possible while Natalie did her best to support them with her engineering knowledge.  She returned to the SS Ambrose with a PADD full of needs and requests.  She slumped down in the forward console, “The good news is they’re thankful.  The bad news is…they’re really in need.”  Harris handed the PADD to McKee, who had left her chair and stood behind her.

“They’re asking for a ship?”  Harris sighed, “I don’t blame them.  They need something bigger than the aging shuttles they’re currently maintaining.  I looked at those things.  They’ll need a serious refit before I’d certify them for flight.”

She continued through the list, “Most of this we could probably request from Farpoint.  It’ll take time to….”

Reid shouted from the rear of the bridge, “Incoming warp signature…coming in fast and close!”

McKee didn’t have a chance to order the shields raised before a massive starship flashed into existence right over the top of them.  It slowed, and she shook her head, “I’m going to kill whoever’s the helmsman on that ship.”

Jordan checked her sensors and the computer, “Well, it’s the USS Olympic, and they’re hailing us, so you get to tell them yourself.”  She tapped at the console, and the bridge appeared on the screen.  And Reid gasped.

The Olympic CO was amused, “Well, not the first time I’ve been greeted like that.  Captain Crawford, Federation Starship USS Olympic…and you are…,”  He looked to his science officer, who was staring shocked at the screen along with the other former Mackenzie crew.  “Fowler?”

She shook herself loose, “Uhm, yes.  The SS…Ambrose from Harris Transport.  Captain is Elizabeth Rachel McKee.”  She swallowed the potent reminder of her former commanding officer.

McKee saw familiar faces, but Reid spoke, “Captain Crawford, I’m Doctor Jordan Reid…former Chief Medical Officer of the USS Mackenzie.  I know some of your people, sir.”  She amended that in her head.  She knew many of them.”

Pete was catching up, “Ambrose Harris.  I’m familiar.  What are you doing here?”  Between Reid, Harris, and McKee, they explained what and where they’d spent the last twenty or so days with supply runs, supply chain management, and doing whatever they could wherever they could in the face of what was happening in the Deneb sector.

“And you, sir?” Reid wondered what had brought the lumbering Olympic to them.

“We’re slowly relocating colonists from Janoor III.  The colony Jolla seemed like a good place…but they’ve had some unwelcome guests.”  He accepted a PADD from Fowler.  “More than a few looks like.  We’re still assigned to the Deneb sector, and Jolla needs help…you mind if we play in your end of the holodeck?”

McKee caught approving glances from the others, “We’ll be happy to assist you, sir.”

Crawford moved to close the channel but held his eyes on Jordan Reid.  She had been a friend and colleague to much of his current team.  “You all are invited to dine with us tonight…I’m sure old friends would be happy to see you.”  He closed the channel.

Harris turned in her station, “It’s a bit…weird seeing those faces again.”

Reid murmured, “As big as we think the universe is, Nat…it is incredibly small sometimes.  Today is one of those days.”  She shifted her thought, “I was thinking…what if we gifted the SS Ambrose to the Jolla people?  Nat?”

Natalie felt competing emotions tugging at her heart.  Before they slapped her late brother’s name on the ship, it’d just been an older model Aeries class ship waiting for a refit.  She hadn’t meant much.  Now, she felt something towards the old beat-up starship.  The voice of her brother echoed in her mind, a reminder of the character of the man…and what he would have done in the situation.

“Nat?”

She opened her eyes, finding Reid and McKee waiting for her answer.  She nodded her head, “I think we do it…I’ll let Mom know… we’ll have to ask Captain Crawford for a ride home eventually.”

It was Reid’s turn to smile, “Given that it’s Prentice at the helm, I’m not terribly worried.”  She gave McKee a knowing look, “William Prentice has come a long way, but he’s still a flyboy at heart.  I doubt that flyby was an accident.”

Elizabeth cocked her head, “Well, then I gotta meet this kid.”

Nat stood from her station, “Don’t beat up Prentice.  He’s a nice boy.  And he has a girlfriend last I checked.”

Reid stared at her, amused, “You checked?”

McKee rolled her eyes, “I’m not looking, thankyouverymuch.”

Harris felt her face redden, “I mean…you don’t?

McKee waited for a beat and couldn’t help herself.  She cackled and shook her head, “Oh, to be young again.  Let’s focus on getting this girl ready for transfer to the colony.  At least one more good thing can come out of this trip.”