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

HTC 007 – To The Garrison

Starfleet Salvage Ship Yard 10
1.5.2401 @ 0600
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The shuttle dropped from warp, and Natalie tapped in their course while Ambrose sat to her right, reaching out to the shipyard.  They’d talked a little during the trip, but she’d been focused on flying the shuttle.  Behind them, Juliet and Elizabeth hadn’t stopped talking.  Harris picked up bits and pieces.  He hoped this would help his old friend.

=^=Shuttle Harris 220, you are cleared for Dock Five.  Our quartermaster will meet you there.=^=  The channel closed, and Natalie carefully plotted their course and slowly backed the shuttle into the docking mechanism.  They held on as it shook slightly, and the green light clicked on at the rear door.  Ambrose secured the shuttle’s console and led them to the slowly opening door.  

Harris was in uniform and greeted the quartermaster, “Afternoon Master Chief Karsa.”  The older man nodded and accepted his PADD.  He glanced at the others and then back to the documents on the screen.

“Everything is in order.  This map will take you to where the Garrison is stored.  Good luck.”  He loaded a map onto the PADD and handed it back before he returned to his station.

Ambrose examined the map and motioned for the rest to follow.

 

They’d walked for twenty minutes until they’d located the wing where the Garrison was supposed to be berthed.  McKee’s nervousness was on display as she glanced at each ship as they walked, nervously searching for the shape and size of the Garrison.  Suddenly, there she was.

“Oh.”  She stepped up to the window and took a long look at the Miranda class ship, “She was such a simple girl.”

Harris was at the dock door, tapping on the keycode, “She was tough when it counted.  I remember that much.”  A groan and then a shudder as the door slid open, “Let’s go see how she’s looking.”  Elizabeth stared at the ship a little longer before accepting the hand of Woodward, and they followed behind the former Chief Engineer.  

As they drew closer, McKee slowed and took in the ship’s lines, her eyes shining her emotions.  “They tell you you’ll never forget the ships you served on…I thought I had left the old girl behind…but seeing her again and being this close…those memories never really leave you, do they?”

Ambrose turned as he worked on the console at the door, “She was my home for seven years.  From engineer to Chief.  I know what you’re feeling, McKee…you’re not alone.”  The door hissed open, and he stepped inside, tapping the console to bring the systems online.  There was a pause and then a whirr and then a beep….and then the rumble soon filled the air as lights, environmental controls, and the rest slowly and then quickly activated throughout the ship.  “Let’s walk, shall we?”

They walked.  The Garrison had been an older ship, and her corridors were reminiscent of a past generation of starship whose time had come and gone.  Both Harris and McKee walked together now, touching the walls of the hallway, chuckling at the older tech as they went.  Natalie marveled as she walked with Juliet, leaning over, “They made so many of these Miranda class ships…so many that this was one of those ships you would see all the time on a mission or an adventure.  You look at the ships we have now…she’s obsolete.  At least they made the Reliant Class – honoring these old girls in the new iteration.”

Juliet nodded as they stepped into the turbolift, “Always wanted to step onto the decks of one of these…I can check that off the list.”

Harris tapped the console, “Bridge.”

 

The doors opened, and they each gasped in their own way.  While the Garrison had gone through refits, the bridge had remained the same.  Ambrose angled for the center chair, “We could never agree to let them replace the bridge.  We upgraded the cables and computer…but this shape and look…it was hard to let go.”  He sat carefully and sighed, “I secretly wanted to sit in this chair…never got the chance.”

Natalie chuckled, “And now you command the Mackenzie.”

He felt the old chair, “She is shiny…and she reminds me of the classic Excelsior…but sometimes you don’t want the shiniest.”  He pushed himself out of the chair, “Let’s see what the computer can tell us.”  They all sat around the operations station as Harris went to work.  The computer was slow.  It took him fifteen minutes to locate the records and five more minutes to get the video screens working.  At last…it flickered, and the paused record faded onto the display.  “Alright.  Here we go.”

 

The Garrison shook like a wild toddler on a rampage.  The decks were being savagely bounced by the repeated attacks from the pirates.  Lieutenant Commander Porter held on tightly to the console as the power systems held on. The shields were at 50%, but he’d found a way to reroute the power through the EPS conduits to boost them.  It kept them alive, but it had to be done manually.  He continued to mend the system as he went.  His Assistant Chief was working on a wall console when it exploded, and the warp core klaxons started ringing.  Porter read the systems report.  The containment unit was going to fail soon.  He coaxed what he could from the systems while shouting at Harris, “Get out!  Evacuate engineering!  I’m going to give us time.  Get everybody out!”

Harris had a stricken look dripping from his face as he stared at his chief for a millisecond.  His training quickly kicked in as he began to run through the room, shouting for evacuation.  Officers and crewmen desperately trying to keep the room functional gradually gave up and slogged their way out and up from the unstable engine room.  The deck pitched again, and flames burst from several consoles as the ship continued to take a pounding.  The ACEO found one last officer in the corner, collapsed.  Rachel McKee was muttering something as Harris picked her up and shoulder carried her towards the door, slowly closing as the conditions in main engineering were becoming toxic.

Porter gripped his console and shook his head.  The EPS conduits in engineering weren’t going to hold out much longer.  He’d pushed them far beyond their recommended settings, and there was no chance they’d be able to survive what he threw at them next.  He shouted at Harris to hurry as he pounded at the console, encouraging what little he could from the Garrison’s core.

Ambrose threw McKee through the space of the door, and officers grabbed her, pulling her with them.  Harris crawled under the door, his lungs burning and his eyes unable to see inches in front.  Suddenly the world went bright as the main door slammed down on the one leg that was left as he was pulling himself out.  He could hear the explosions in engineering as the pain overwhelmed him.  Klaxons and alarms echoed as he passed out.  A harried medical team arrived and began to stabilize him.  The leg would have to go.

 

The video ended, and McKee stared at the video and data screens.  Her mouth was open, and tears filled her face, “He…he did everything he could to save us.”

Harris nodded, his emotions slowing him, “You see the readouts.  He overloaded the EPS conduits to keep the shields online and the ship operating.  That last act…he pushed the Garrison to the limit.  The pirates saw our power levels drop and decided we weren’t worth blowing up.  It took a few hours, but we were rescued.  The Garrison went on to serve.”  He gave McKee a look, “There’s no doubt – anything you would have done to the EPS systems wouldn’t have saved anyone.  Elizabeth – you don’t need to carry this guilt.”

She nodded through renewed tears, “It…helps to come here…to see it.”  She glanced at Juliet, “Can…we go see engineering?”  The counselor glanced at Harris, and he quietly motioned to the turbolift.  The two of them left the bridge.

Natalie sat beside her brother, “You’ve lived an adventurous life, ‘Brose.”

He shrugged, “I’ve done my duty…served the fleet and loved doing what I do.  Adventure isn’t the reason I’m in this uniform.”

Natalie took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Ever since McKee had come back into their lives, she’d felt this thing tugging at the back of her mind. “I…I think I want to go back to Starfleet Academy.”

Ambrose groaned, “Mom’s going to be so thrilled.”

“It’s not because of you, ‘Brose.  It’s because…there’s something out here.  I don’t know what it is…but sitting here, flying that shuttle here…I feel like I couldn’t escape this if I tried – there’s such a connection to this stuff for me.  I look into the stars, and I think, what else is out there?  What’s the next thing to find?  To discover?  I need to do this, ‘Brose.”

He put his hand on her shoulder, “Nat, if you want to do this…it sounds like you’ve got the right idea.  Do it for you…and nobody else.”  They talked briefly until McKee and Woodward stepped back on the bridge.  “Did that help?”

Elizabeth bit her bottom lip and whispered, “Yes.”  A pause, “I’d like to get back to the ranch…I need to…process this with some open sky.”

Harris stood, “Next stop, Montana.  I’ll meet you all at the shuttle.”  The three of them left, and Natalie gave him a curious look as the turbolift door closed.  The former Chief Engineer of the Garrison returned to the captain’s chair and sat in it, reflecting on those that had called the ship home.  Those they had lost, those that had gone on to bigger things…and others who had just faded into history.  He eventually stood and stepped into the turbo lift.  

As the doors closed, he whispered, “To absent friends.”