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Part of USS Crazy Horse: Blood For Blood and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

A Celebration of Life

USS MacKenzie - Officer’s Lounge
December 13, 2400
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The senior officers of the USS Crazy Horse sat together after the simple service given for Lieutenant Garza. It was a somber event, but there were the occasional genuine laughs. 

“You should have seen Diego’s face when those Nauscicans threw me into those Hirogen,” Anthony said, laughing. 

“Knowing Diego, he was probably muttering something about being ‘too old for this shit,’” Erin added.

“Don’t know,” Anthony replied.   “I was too busy getting pummeled after that.”

“Serves you right for picking a fight with pirates,” Marcus said. 

“It wasn’t my plan. Not my fault he couldn’t play poker.”

“Regardless,” Órlaith said, “You two never should have been in that bar, to begin with.”

Harris stepped into the Officer’s Lounge and saw the group of Crazy Horse crew gathered.  He stood at the back of the room as the service began.  They were guests on his ship.  He had given orders to the quartermaster and hosting officers to ensure their new friends were well treated and met their needs.  The loss of a ship and a friend would weigh heavily on them.  He picked up a plate and tea, settled into a table off to the side, and started running through his PADD.  There was plenty of work to do.

Órlaith saw Harris enter and sit down alone. She knew the feeling all to well and crossed the room and sat down.

He glanced up and found the face of Órlaith Murphy sliding into the seat opposite.  He gave a nod, “Captain Murphy. I hope you’ve found Mackenzie welcoming.”  He downed a piece of his sandwich, “We’ll be sad to see you go.”  He glanced up.  He meant it.  Getting to know her crew had been a bonus to having them onboard.  New faces and new conversations seemed to help both crews process the experiences in the Delta Quadrant.

“More than welcoming.  I hope we haven’t been too much of a burden.”

Ambrose smiled, “You’ve been what we needed after coming back from the Delta Quadrant.  It’s a hard place…and it takes as much as it gives.”

Órlaith smiled, “Well, that’s something.”

He was quiet for a moment, “We lost five of our crew.  I lost a cousin.  A cousin I hated for most of my life.” He glanced up, “The service was very nice.  I’m sorry for your loss, Captain.  Empty spaces in our hearts seems to be a theme between our two crews.”

“Sorry for your loss.  Especially for a cousin.” She placed a hand on Ambrose’s hand, “I don’t know you,  but first impressions say they will be fine.” She indicated over to the table, “See the blonde. That’s Commander Hayden.  She’s the glue that holds this crew together.   Not me or Commander Torin. I sense you have that same…  je ne sais quoi as her.”

Harris let her comment hang in the air for a moment before responding, “I’ve only ever known how to lead this way, Captain.”  He gave her a nod of thanks, “My crew is the most important thing to me.  The only way for us to be the best we can be for each other…is to work together.”

Órlaith smirked, “It’s ironic that of all the Federation ships here in the Delta Quadrant it’s the Mackenzie that responded. Did you know my predecessor’s name was Mackenzie?” She sighed, looking at the table of Crazy Horse crew, “They’ve lost a Captain and XO. They lost a close friend,  and their home.”

A chuckle from Ambrose, “I think life likes to remind us of the good things in life with moments like this.”  He took a drink of his tea, “I thought Aoife was still missing in action.”

“Sure… in a manner of speaking,” Órlaith replied. 

“We’ve crossed paths off and on over the years.  I always thought she would have made a helluva Chief Engineer.”  Harris had followed her path and been impressed, even worshipped at her steps off and on.  “You make it sound like they’re going to declare her dead.”

“When Starfleet assigned me to the Crazy Horse, they declared Captain Mackenzie dead. It’s been over a year…”

Ambrose was quiet for a moment as her news worked through his heart, “I wondered why I hadn’t heard from her recently.  I kept meaning to look in on her….” he gave a slight shake of his head, “It’s going to sound like I’m denying reality…but Aoife Mackenzie is one of those captains that always seems to find a way.”  He gave her a look, “You think she’s still out there somewhere…somehow?”

“I don’t, but I don’t know her.  Her crew thinks she’s alive. Lieutenant Shrin and Commander Hayden are still trying to make that artifact work and bring them back.” 

He polished off his sandwich and stood, “One of my old CO’s once told me that hope is the most powerful tool in a Starfleet Captain’s toolbox.  Here’s to hope for all of us, Captain  Órlaith.”

Órlaith stood with Harris,  “It is. Very much so.” She hesitated,  “If you are free, you can join us if you’d like.”

Harris glanced at her team, who were still in the midst of telling stories that were eliciting equal parts laughter and tears.  He gave her a nod, “I appreciate the offer Ca…Órlaith, but I need to get back to my crew.”  He gestured to them, “Your crew may have some pieces missing, but they still sat with you in here today.  You believe Commander Hayden is the glue…and you’re probably right…but you’re part of the puzzle keeping them together in the middle of all this.  I suppose that’s what we do.  We do our best to keep them together.”  He smiled, “I’ll see you before you head out to the Outpost, Órlaith.  Thanks for the conversation.”  He gave one more nod and left the lounge.

She watched him walk out of the lounge.   She sensed he was troubled,  but it wasn’t her place to try to fix it.  Returning to her seat she just sat back and listened to the stories being told.