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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 4 – Harris Transport Chronicles Chapter 1 (HTC1)

HTC 006 – What We Left Behind

Opheim, Montana
1.4.2401 @ 0830
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The horse ride had gone on in silence as Juliet led and Elizabeth followed.  The ambient sounds of the woods around the Harris Transport Campus filled their ears, and within an hour, they’d found their way to a lake and laid out lunch.  McKee sat as she stared out on the placid lake, the sun pouring warmly over them.  “Wyoming was never this beautiful.”

Woodward popped some grapes and relished the sweet taste, “Wyomin’ exists to get to Montana; at least, that’s how I heard it.”  She took a long drink from her water bottle, “I’ve used this place in my holographic relaxin’ sessions to help center myself.”  She nodded to the former engineer, “Where do you go when you need to breathe, Liz?”

McKee reflected on the question, a blank look on her face expressing her answer, “I’m…I’m not sure, Juliet.  When I left the Garrison, I went right back to work in the private sector doing engineering work.  I worked here and there – got pretty high up in a Power Plant operation in Denver two years ago…but I was always looking up to the stars.”  She took a bit of a roast beef sandwich and raised her eyebrows as she chewed and swallowed, “That is…a helluva sandwich!”  She polished it off and sighed, “I didn’t realize how hungry I’ve been.”  She picked up a container of grapes and slowly began to enjoy them.  “I guess I need to figure out how to…take the time to relax and enjoy the moment.”

Juliet understood, “In the beginnin’, it’s hard to appreciate…or even accept that you need to take those moments.  We don’t want to admit we’re not perfect at everythin’…or need help.”

Liz sipped at her soda silently as the counselor spoke gently to her.  “I sometimes think it was a mistake to leave Starfleet.”  She laid back on the blanket, feeling her back stretch and settle as she stared into the stark blue and white world above her, “I think I was running from what happened on the Garrison…that I didn’t want to face the truth or the death, or the life I would have to live.”  A moment later, she admitted, “I’ve spent ten years running and hiding from the truth.”

Woodward shifted to lay opposite her, joining her in searching the sky and clouds for answers.  “The truth, in this case, may not be what you think it is, Liz.  Harris doesn’t think you’re guilty of what you think you are – at least in the way you seem to believe it.  You may have neglected your duties, but correlation doesn’t mean causation…or the other way aroun’.”

The engineer pushed herself up, “You really don’t think I’m guilty, do you?”  Her face showed she was questioning but also that she wasn’t sure if she believed the woman.

Juliet shifted, so she was facing McKee, “Often the case with our old memory is that we remember somethin’ as it happened…but in the years between the moment and today – we’ve inserted our own commentary or our own interpretation of the memories, or we’ve added additional rememberin’ to it that’s more based on how we feel about the moment than what was really happenin’.”

Liz frowned, “So I’m remembering some of what happened…but also what I think I remember?”

The counselor snapped her fingers, “Bingo Bongo, Bob’s your uncle.” McKee’s frown deepened, and Juliet laughed aloud, “I forget not everybody knows my sayings or understands them.  I’m agreein’ with you, Liz.  Memory is tricky.”

“Do you think they have the original recordings of what happened in the engineering room?”  

Woodward sat up, her turn to frown, “I feel like I know where this is goin’…you sure you want to do that?”

McKee shrugged halfheartedly, “I don’t know what I want to do…but I want to be able to answer the question about what happened that day without having to go back to my memories that have had ten years to become something other than the truth.”

Juliet nodded, understanding McKee’s ‘why’.  “Let’s pack up lunch and head back to the house…see if Harris has anything to report.”

 

 

Ambrose closed the channel as the two walked back into the living room.  Woodward filled him in as McKee drifted back to the couch and sat softly, listening to the conversation.  He glanced at his former officer and back to his counselor, “Well, I just got off the line with the dock master where the Garrison is held.  According to their records, the data core was never dumped, and she’s been hooked up to battery power since she was transferred there.  I went up the ladder a few rungs on either side, and we’ve been given provisional permission to inspect the Garrison under the auspices of closing the investigation into the Garrison’s status and future.”

McKee blinked.  Twice.  She could feel the emotions bubbling on a rollercoaster ride around the chambers of her heart.  They could go back.  She could stand back on the decks.  They could find the recordings.  She could find out the truth about what happened.  This could help.  “Yes.  I want to go.”  She swallowed hard and emphasized, “I need to go.”  Harris walked up to her and reached out a hand.  She gripped it and looked up to hold eye contact.  “This…is important, sir.”

Ambrose squeezed her hand, “Then we’ll make it happen, Liz.”  He checked his chrono, “I can have a shuttle ready to depart at 1200 hours.  Woodward, you’re coming with us…I’m going to see if I can get Natalie along for the ride.  We’ll help you find your answer, McKee.  Whatever it is.”  She gave a quiet nod.