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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 2: Wayward Sons and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

34 – The Broken Road

USS Mackenzie
11.15.2400 @ 0700
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“Arriving at Markonian Outpost,”  Prentice announced with little fanfare.  The bridge felt heavy.

Executive Officer Okada Katsumi sat in the center chair, the weight of the last twenty-four hours pressing against her heart.  Their captain had witnessed the murder of his cousin, Julian, at the hands of the Devore Imperium.  He must have known what was coming as he’d cleared the bridge.  By the time word had reached her down in engineering, it was too late.  She’d walked into the bridge to see the Emergency Command Hologram waiting for the crew to return to the command center.  Harris has locked himself in his ready room, and not even Jordan Reid had been able to request entry.  “Request docking clearance, Mr. Prentice.”  The docking was cleared, and the moments and minutes of shifting the Excelsior II class starship into place passed with little comment or discussion.  It just…was.  Prentice confirmed they were secured and docked.  She gave him an absent-minded nod.  She tapped the console, opening a ship-wide channel, “This is the XO – you are given leave to rest on board for the next twelve hours.  Requests to go to Markonian need to go through your chief.  Katsumi out.”  She remained in the chair as the officers cycled off the bridge.

Prentice startled her with, “I think you need to break in there, Commander.”

She first felt shocked at his suggestion, and her face must have given it away because he put his hands up in a surrender motion.  Okada muttered, “I’m sorry, Lieutenant.  I had hoped we’d get through this mission without a loss.”  Pushing up and out of the chair, she cleared her throat, “In fairness, you’re right.  We need our CO…and he needs us.”

The Chief Helm Officer headed for the turbolift door, stopping to turn back, “I think he didn’t want us to have to watch his cousin die.  Maybe he decided he needed to protect us from having that…seared into our memories.”  He shrugged and entered the turbolift.

Okada sighed and approached the door.  She’d hit the chime several times since yesterday, and she gamely tried again.  No response.  “Goddamn it, Captain,” she muttered.  She went about entering her command codes to force the doors open in an emergency.  It took her a minute, but eventually, the door flew open, and she stepped into the darkened, ready room.

Ambrose Harris was curled up on the couch by the windows, sleeping soundly.  He hadn’t changed since the day previous, and various piles of food and drink littered the desk and end tables.  She turned up the lights slightly and went about cleaning up the room.  Her CO didn’t stir as she moved about the room.  Okada was turning over in her head what to say to the man.  As much as he’d hated Julian for what he’d done, he had still been a Harris – and blood was a strong connection.

She had finished restoring the room and pulled a chair to sit next to the couch.  “Captain.”  He continued to sleep, and she resorted to shaking him awake.  His eyes went wide as he woke with a start and stared at her, getting his bearings.  

He brushed the sleep from his eyes.  “Commander.  How did you get in here?”  She related to him the use of an emergency to override the door.  He let out a long sigh, “I suppose this qualifies as an emergency.”  She stepped over to the replicator and handed him a streaming cup of coffee which he took with thanks.  “I’m not doing any better if that’s what you’re asking.”

Katsumi sat in the chair, “I was just going to ask where you’re at…and where we go from here.  I’m sorry for the loss, Cap…Ambrose.  I can’t imagine.”

He sipped at his coffee as the warmth and strength spread through his body, “I can’t imagine.  I’m still…wrapping my mind around what happened.”  He set the cup down on the table and rubbed his eyes, “There’s a lot going on up here,” he gestured to his head and let out another sigh, “I know there’s no way I’m going to be able to take command in this state.”  He gestured to her with the cup in his hand before he took another long drink, “You’re going to have to take the CONN, Okada.”

She grumbled, “I don’t want it.”  He stared at her, and she relented, “I know, I know.  I don’t have a choice.  Greer is coming out of recovery this morning.  Reid’s going to a final check and probably clear her for duty.  There’ll at least be somebody down there that has ‘chief’ in their title.”

Ambrose grimaced, “Reid’s probably pissed off at me.”

Okada stood from her chair, “I think she was worried about your…and you locked her out.  I don’t think she’s angry, Ambrose.  Just concerned and worried for you.”  He had disclosed to her their relational status recently.  She’d been delighted at the time, and she remained supportive of them.  “We can transport you to your quarters, sir.”  

Her tone had shifted from friend to subordinate officer, and he gave her a distracted nod, “You’ll need to report my status to the Task Force 17 team on the outpost.  You’ll need to schedule Lieutenant Woodward some appointment time with me, same goes for Reid.”

The XO made notes on the PADD she had grabbed from his desk.  She turned to the door, “You did the right thing clearing the bridge, sir.  But…,” her voice grew tense, laced with emotion, “Don’t shut us out ever again, sir.  That’s not how we do things.  Respectfully.”

Ambrose looked up, his eyes shining with cragged emotion.  He gave an apologetic nod, “You have my word, Commander.  All for one and one for all.”  The door closed, and he tapped his badge.  Moments later, he vanished in a burst of light and sound.