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

50 – Montana

Opheim, Montana
12.8.2400 @ 0740
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The cold December air was bracing, and Ambrose took a deep breath of it as he walked along the walkway to the platform that stood above the operations center of Harris Transport.  Behind him ambled Cardamon bundled up tightly in a form-fitting winter coat, a beanie hat stretched over his head in what would be considered comical by most but endearing by those that were joining the Voth on this cold December morning. Natalie Harris led the way with Juliet and Sadie at her side with mugs of steaming coffee in their hands.

“I did not imagine the Montana would be so…what is the human word for this climate condition?”  Cardamon looked to Ambrose for answers.

Harris chuckled, “It's called cold, Cardamon.  This is December.  You're lucky it's not snowing.”

If the Voth could frown effectively, he would have.  Instead, he muttered about annoyances in his language as he hobbled along the path.  He was starting to wonder if perhaps he'd held this Montana place in too high a regard.  He continued to mutter and mumble until they reached the top of the platform.  The horizon was starting to lighten, and the scattered clouds in the sky starting to illuminate.  Natalie nudged him, “This is where it's worth it.”

The sun slowly began to rise, and within moments the sky, the clouds, and the world became a collection of colors that brought Cardamon to silence as his eyes beheld many shades of yellow that first cascaded up and into the clouds as the spectrum of oranges painted further into the big sky.  The blue hue swirled in and around the warm colors creating a masterpiece in the eyes of the Voth.  He didn't speak as the sun continued to climb, throwing beams of light through the scattered puffs of clouds, and the beauty of the place they had called ‘Big Sky Country' became readily apparent.  He shook his head in disbelief as the sun soared into the sky, and the warmth of it began to reach his skin, his eyes, and his heart.  “This…Montana is incredible.”

Natalie smiled, “There's so much more.  We haven't even shown you the mountains…the lakes…the waterfalls…or even the rivers.  We're going to go fly fishing, you and me.”

He clapped his mittened hands together in anticipation and joy, “I cannot wait to try these things.  All of them.”  He looked to the others, “I am thankful to have known such humans in my life.”  He went and hugged each of them.  It was no longer awkward or a surprise.  It had simply been something Cardamon did.  He had consciously decided to leave behind the practices of bowing and distance.  There was something about the contact that hug brought him the warmth of hope.  He couldn't explain it.  It just felt…right.  He was where he was supposed to be.  He said, “I understand I am to experience a traditional Montana Ranch Breakfast?”

Ambrose spoke up, “Mom's got the kitchen crew cooking up the classics.  Jordan, you wanna lead them on down?”  She gave a whistle to the group and took charge.  Soon it was just the two members of the Harris family.  They took to leaning on the platform.  

Natalie spoke first, “That funeral was brutal, Amb.”  She shook her head, “I don't think our family will be okay anytime soon.”  She glanced at him, “Aunt Pat and Uncle Larry left right after the funeral.  Headed to Florida.”  She sighed, “What do we do?”

“I don't know.”  He stared at the sprawling complex below. Rafael had been charged and placed in the custody of the county security office.  His sorrow and regret were palpable.  Ambrose hoped it would lead him down a better path than his brother.  The funeral had been brutal.  Very few spoke for Julian, and the gathering was small.  Harris had spoken about Julian's regret in how things had turned out and that he believed his cousin.  He'd stolen a look at Rafael in those moments, and the tears that filled the younger cousin's eyes were evidence of the deep injury he had suffered.  “Mom's taking retirement from Starfleet to run the company.  She'll clean up what needs cleaning.”  He turned to her, “She's going to need help.  You know this place as well as anyone.”

She stared at him, “I stole from this place!  I let him talk me into stealing ships and flying on a half-ass plan into the Delta Quadrant without a plan or an idea of what the hell I was doing!”  She wiped tears from her face, “I can't face the people I betrayed.  I'm the worst of them.”

Ambrose let the words echo as he reached for his sister's hands and grasped them, “You did all of that, Nat.  You own it.  Now is your chance to do the right thing and fix what is broken.  You're one of the better technicians we've had…and you know it.”  He stepped away and paced around, letting the warm sunshine slide around his face, “You also care about people, Nat.  You stood up when you realized what they were up to - They had to tie you up!”  He turned to face her, “You're going to make mistakes.  You're going to fuck up.  You're going to hurt…and you're going to hurt people in the process.  That's just the way of things.”  He shook his head, “But that isn't your destiny.  Your story isn't defined by the ugly chapters.  It's defined by what you do in the moments after - do you make amends and work to fix, patch, and heal?  Or do you run away and ignore the need to do the work on yourself to prevent repeating the same pain?”

She walked up to him and hugged him tightly.  They held each other until she pulled back, “I've missed this part of you, Amb.  You've never stopped teaching me not to walk away from myself and my…issues."

The older of the two shrugged, “Older brother job description.  We all need a reminder every so often.”

She hugged him again, “You make me want to be better.  I'm glad I got you as a brother.”

He returned the embrace, "I'm glad I got you as a sister.  You give me hope."  He glanced at his chrono, “I think we're going to be very late for breakfast.  I'll race you.”

Natalie cackled as she took off running, and Ambrose groaned as he ran after her.