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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 14 – Echoes of the Past

EOTP 002 – Together

Nalam Cabin, Northern British Columbia/USS Sojourner/ USS Mackenzie
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Riandri sat on her porch staring out over the mountains before her as she sipped on her Peppermint tea. As she sat there she couldn’t help but admit that there were benefits to being based on Earth instead of a ship, being able to return home after her shifts was definitely one of them.

As she mused on the idea, she laughed, “Definitely beats being on that Aerie’s for so many years.”

Her hand reached for her mug but she was interrupted as her when her combadge let out a chime from where it sat beside her mug. Taping the badge, she answered, “Commander Nalam.”

“Commander Nalam,” her CO’s voice came over the com, “Sorry for disturbing you but we have new orders for you.”

Riandri let out a little sigh, “I need to leave right away I assume?”

Her CO let out a little chuckle over the coms, “Would you have it any other way?”

“No, not really. I will be ready in an hour,” Riandri said.

“Excellent, you are to report to the USS Sojourner. Captain Tarken will transport you to the USS Mackenzie where you will be the deputy mission lead with Captain Crawford. The situation in the demilitarized is spiralling out of control, again. Do what you can to calm the situation down and gather whatever intelligence you can as to what is driving it,” her CO paused for a moment then continued. “Good luck. The full details are already on the Sojourner, Captain Tarken is expecting you.”

Riandri paused at the mention of Captain Crawford as her stomach dropped and she inhaled quickly. After a longer-than-normal pause, she exhaled to calm herself and responded, “I will let Captain Tarken know as soon as I am ready to beam up.” 

With that, she ended the call and worked to calm her emotions as they threatened to overwhelm her. She stood slowly before she made her way into her cabin and then her bedroom to start packing. She paused as she walked by one of the cabinets before she turned and withdrew a small wooden box from it. Closing her eyes she put one hand on the top to brush off the dust and push past the pain the box caused. Undoing the metal clasp she opened it and withdrew a small picture of a baby, only a couple of months old, in her arms. As she looked at it she was unable to hold several tears that began to run down her face before she closed the lid and turned back to the bed. “I couldn’t run from this forever,” she muttered to herself 

Riandri sat in the main observation lounge scrolling through all the information available on the current events in the demilitarised zone but nothing stuck. Every time she had tried to dive into the material over the last couple of days her mind lost focus and he found herself looking at the most recent images of both Captain Crawford from their service record. Whenever she did though her stomach tied itself in knots as she thought of seeing Peter again after almost 20 years. To say she was dreading it was an understatement but she knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

She had even gone to see the ship’s rather cantankerous holographic Doctor to give her something to help her focus but he was less than help. “Drugs for a tummy ache, shouldn’t a Commander be able to deal with that…” she muttered under her breath recalling the interaction. She didn’t understand why Captain Tarken put up with him.

Shaking her head she forced herself to continue with the recent reports and focused as best she could. After trying for another couple of hours she was able to digest most of the key information as she saw it in the reports but it was far from what she would normally expect from herself.

She was pulled from her reading at the sound of someone clearing their throat beside her, “Excuse me, Commander Nalam.”

Riandri looked over and saw a female Denobulan crewmember, “Yes?” She quickly glanced at the time on her PADD and realized several hours had passed and that she had missed a couple of comms messages as she was focused on her work.

“The Captain wanted you to know that we are almost at the rendezvous point, we should arrive in the next thirty minutes,” Crewman Floxan said. 

Putting down her PADD she nodded, “Thanks, Crewman?” She left the question hanging for a moment.

“Oh, Trisim Floxan, Commander. The Captain asked that I should get you anything you may need before you leave.”

“I should be fine, my bag is all backed, I just need to grab it from the quarters.”

Trisim nodded in understanding, “Not a problem. The Captain asked if you wanted to join her on the bridge when we arrive. I can take your bag to Transporter Room One for you. It will be ready when you beam over to the Mackenzie if you like.”

Riandri looked out the large viewport for a moment and nodded, “Thank you, I will let Captain Tarken know I will be up shortly.”

“I will see you in transporter room 1 when you are ready,” with a quick nod and smile Trisim turned and left the lounge leaving Riandri alone again.

She leaned back in the chair ran her hands through her hair and exhaled a long breath, “Thirty minutes…”

Riandri found herself sitting on the bridge beside Captain Kirin Tarken waiting for the Sojourner to drop out of warp. As she sat there she looked over the Orion and couldn’t help but see the resemblance to her mother but those were memories for another time

“I hope you found the trip pleasant, Commander,” the Captain said when he noticed Riandri’s attention.

“Very much so. It’s my first time on a Pathfinder, it’s a lovely vessel.”

Before the Captain could respond the young Orion officer at the con spoke up, “Dropping of warp in 5…4…”

A moment later Riandri was able to feel the subtle change as the ship returned to normal space and the view screen’s display changed to show, almost empty, space before them.

“Ma’am the Mackenzie is on station already,” said the con officer.

“Thank you, Ensign Tycon,” Captain Tarken responded. Before she turned to Riandri she spoke to her operations officer, “Let them know that Commander Nalam is on board and ready for transport.”

“Good luck with your mission Commander. Crewmen Floxan is ready to beam you over in transporter room one.” 

Riandri nodded, “Thank you again for the ride, I will be out of your hair now.” With that, she stood up and made her way to the turbo lift.

Several minutes later she stood on the transporter pad and looked over at Trisim, “Energize.”

The world before her vanished in a swirl of blue lights before the transporter room on the Mackenize appeared before her. As the transport finished, her eyes found the only person in the room who mattered to her at that moment, “Hello, Captain Crawford.”

Peter had thought through this moment many times over the years. What would he say?  What would she say?  He felt his heart sway as the transporter lights faded.  It had been a long time, but Riandri’s eyes still caught him and held his breath.  “Hello, Commander Nalam.  Welcome aboard the Mackenzie.” He turned to the transporter officer, “Ensign Breakstone, can we have a moment?”  The young man skittered out the door.  Crawford turned to the mother of their child.  “Riandri…I’m sorry.”  He fought for emotional control as he continued, “I…this thing between us is going to take some time…and we don’t have much time before Breakstone has to be back here to his console…we’ve got a stack of work in mission operations…can we talk through this over dinner tonight?”

Riandri blinked a couple of times to clear her vision but was at a loss for words. A wave of mixed feelings washed over her, ranging from excitement at seeing Peter again to outright fear and shame at seeing him again. She went to speak but found that no words left her mouth before she nodded slowly. She had not been sure how he would react, but as soon as she thought about it, this was the only way he would have.  Steeling herself, she took a step forward, standing only a foot from Peter. “Peter,” she said, unable to look him in the eyes, “I am the one who has to apologise for everything. Not you.” 

She exhaled slowly as she fought to regain some measure of control over herself and looked him in the face, “All of this was my doing, it was my choice and my decision.” 

Crawford twitched at the need to hug his child’s mother. He sighed, reached out, and pulled her into his embrace.  He held her in silence before he spoke, “You don’t get to carry this burden alone, Ri.”  He could hear her heartbeat and feel her warmth against him. He heard the door behind him open, and a flustered Breakstone saw what was happening in his transporter room.  Breakstone sighed and left the room, the door sliding closed behind him.  They untangled from each other, the moment holding between them.

Riandri gave him a sad smile and nodded slightly before she glanced at the door and let out a little chuckle, “I think we made Breakstone uncomfortable.” She sighed and looked back at Peter as she regained her composure and pushed her feelings back behind the all too familiar wall, as she had for so many years previously, first with the Borg, then James, and again with Peter and Carolyn.  Breakstone’s appearance reminded her she was here for a mission, “You mentioned we have a stack of work to do?”

Peter watched her face as her eyes clouded, then cleared.  She was complex, and her story was as deep as the Delta Quadrant – literally and figuratively.  “They’ve got us set up in Diplomatic Operations.  And it is a pile.”  They both left the transporter room, and Breakstone’s face was one of relief as he returned to his assignment.