Rafter T Ranch
Outside Riley City, Terra Alpha
The sun had long ago dipped below the mountains bathing the ranch in darkness when Ethan stepped onto the porch. His cowboy hat and his shoulders were covered in snow, and his face was red from the cold. Shaking off the snow the best he could he peeled off his cowboy boots that were caked in mud and snow. He put them together he let them drop with a heavy thump next to the wall of the house.
Pushing the back door open to the empty kitchen he stepped in letting the warmth wash over him. He removed his hat and coat hanging them on the hooks next to the door before removing his gun belt and hanging it on the peg next to them.
The house was quiet. It was late after all. In his damp socks he padded down the hall to the living room. Seeing the fire was low he picked up another log and tossed it into the fireplace sending sparks upward into the chimney.
Ethan stood in front of the fire for a good long time soaking up the heat and letting it relax his muscles. Finally he turned and sat down at the computer to check messages. There was one waiting for him. Hoping it was Rodger Hayes with some hay for sale he eagerly opened it. It was not from Rodger Hayes.
I am Commodore Uzoma Ekwueme. Starfleet has recently constructed an outpost along the Federation border with the Breen and Ferengi in the Sheo System. The Outpost’s original commander is needed elsewhere. Considering your experience in dealing with non-standard situations you requested and required to take command of Outpost Houtman effective immediately.
Commodore Uzoma Ekwueme
4th Fleet Expeditionary Group, Commanding
Ethan read the message three times taking in the letter’s contents. He had requested extended leave following the loss the the USS Zebulon Pike. He was considering just leaving Starfleet altogether. The way Starfleet Intelligence turned their backs on him and the crew and just let the 4th Fleet railroad them never sat right with him… Now he was going back into the regular fleet? He had spent years working Spec Ops. No bosses. No uniforms. Just results. That was a huge adjustment. He could just resign. That was still an option.
Trinity Talon had just finished her daily run through the greenhouses that had her hydroponic berry gardens. The six greenhouses were about three miles end to end and to keep herself fit after having their two children, she had taken to running from one end of the complex to the other and back, while carrying a pack on her back. Going on extended leave from Starfleet was something that she both was happy about and regretted, she never quite realized how much of her personality she had tied up in the Fleet. Much like her mother. Unlike her mother, she had managed to have a monogamous, long term relationship and it was mostly happy. Sometimes she ran the berry farm to cool off after an argument with the brick wall that was Ethan Talon. Sometimes she ran to be able to keep up with him. They were still a team and even if sometimes one or the other spent the night in a bunk house or on the couch, they usually made up the following morning. There were times she wondered if they fought so they could make up and have a few days of tenderness.
Kicking her snow covered boots into a corner she frowned and muttered as she unwrapped the scarf and hat from around her long brown hair, wincing as some of her hair got tangled in the buttons. “I should have stayed in Honolulu.” a frequent gripe this time of year. Normally she’d winter in Honolulu, spending most of her time there and beaming back to the ranch, but this year with her mother off on some other mission or project, the Honolulu house was being rented by some Deltan ambassador’s family that her mother was friends with.
Walking into the kitchen for a cup of coffee she saw the gun belt and the coat. “Ethan, how many times do I have to remind you that gun belts go in the case, not the hook? The leather’s going to get all warped and you’re going to complain it doesn’t fit right.” she walked into the living room and saw him looking more than a little lost in thought.
“Is it bad news from Rodger? That leaky barn of his right?” Trinity said as she glanced at the screen and saw the Starfleet insignia. “Oh… oh shit.” she pulled off her thin wire glasses and rubbed her nose. “You know Grandpa Nick can make this request go away. Of course Grandma Julie basically left us out in the cold.” She put her hand gently on his shoulder. “Whatever you decide, I’ll support you. Like I always have and always will. Kids are older, they can handle an outpost.” she closed her eyes. “I’ll also support you if you resign and tell him to frak off. Granted telling a Flag Officer to frak himself usually leads to a dishonorable discharge, but we’ll manage without the Starfleet credits.”
Leaning over and kissing his neck she whispered. “I’m still staying retired I don’t think we can pull off the whole married couple command team thing on an outpost like we could on a ship. BUT… I am still a decorated law enforcement officer. Could run civilian security while I’m taking care of the kids.” she mused and smirked. “Of course you could order me to take whatever role you want me to take.”
Ethan turned to her, “Civilian security on the outpost? Or do you mean going back to the Sherriff’s office in Riley City? I am not ready to resign my commission, but I also don’t want to be away from you and the kids.”
“If you’re moving to an outpost, then I’m going with you and so are the kids. I’m not goin’ back to the Sheriff’s office if you’re in space dear. We tried that once and that’s how we got pregnant the first time around.” she gave him a look. “If you’re gone more than a couple weeks, I start thinking with other parts of my anatomy. Course after this last pregnancy I am entirely done having kids.” Trinity chuckled and put her arms around him tightly. “Besides, Civilian Security can probably be more interesting than Starfleet Security, I think half the time I spent my time on a PADD reading. Besides, smugglers, thieves, shoplifters, ne’er do wells. Plus… I can use all those cool retro looking weapons that Starfleet wouldn’t let me use. ‘Non standard side arms are not regulation Lieutenant. No, you can’t hide them on your ankle.” she smirked and laughed. “Kids need to be out in space at least for a little bit anyway.”
“I am happy to hear you say that. And of course that put you outside of my chain of command.” He sat back thinking a mile a minute. He leaned forward and brought up the outpost on his terminal… “Not much call for Civilian security just yet. Looks like mostly tents and a few prefab buildings.” He sat back and crossed his arms, “Let me get things up and running first. The kids are way too young to be roughing it, and Civilians aren’t even allowed on the planet just yet.”
Trinity sighed, “I guess I just got ahead of myself.”
Ethan nodded, “Yes you did, but I love you anyway, and when we get settled you better get your butt over there.”
“As much as I loved being your XO, being your wife and mother of your children, you didn’t have to listen to other officers talk about me like I was only there because of this.” she held up her ring finger. “Part of the reason why I helped you start this place. Although I will ask you for one thing, I need an office and I need a shuttle of my own. I’ll even repaint Pinky in the shuttle garage to something less… girly. Unless you don’t mind a pink and purple shuttle in your shuttlebay.”
“Your shuttle can be whatever color you want it to be,” Ethan said with a chuckle, “Just don’t blame me when some smuggler or pirate doesn’t take you seriously in your pink ship.”
“It’s an old Hazard Team shuttle! It’s been in more battles than I have, it just looks pretty, plus I want them to underestimate her.” Trinity laughed and sighed. “So it sounds like this is going to happen. Good thing we’ve been prepping and ensuring there’s someone that can take over for us to keep this place going. I mean that first pregnancy I was laid up for two months with that vertigo I had. Couldn’t even walk across a room. So I’ve made sure all my files are well organized, our vendors, our customers and our workers are all organized, and I have backs ups of backups for each of us.” she poked his arm. “I always knew this day would come anyway… sooner or later.”
“David knows what he’s doing, and I can have Grandpa check in on things for us,” Ethan stated. “And of course there’s Mrs. Ackers. That woman could get drunken Klingons to fall in.”
“She does. All the time.” Trinity replied and tapped her chin. “You know I just thought of something, this outpost… how much crew are you inheriting and how much are you going to have to assemble yourself? A lot of our usual go to’s are already assigned since the Pike.” she gestured with her hand. “And outpost duty is… not as much of a draw as Starship life.”
Ethan shrugged, “I would imagine most of the crew. There’s probably going to be a few holes, but I’ll worry about that when I get there.”
Trinity nodded, “I’ll put out some feelers to the usual suspects.”
Ethan grunted, “You were always better at networking than I. Oh, by the way David can buy the hay, but don’t let Rodger charge more than 100 credits a ton. He tried that crap last winter when I sent Shorty.”
“Shorty isn’t very bright either,” Trinity said dryly. The cowhand was a drunk, bathed too little, and always gawked at Trinity when she walked across the yard, and she didn’t care for him at all.
“And that’s why I’m sending David. Besides he’s the ranch Ffreman. It’s time he acted like one.”
Trinity smirked, “Okay, when are you leaving?”
Ethan checked the transports out of Capital City. “There’s a cargo ship heading for Ferenginar day after tomorrow. I guess I’ll have to talk to Deamon Grok about passage.”
“Won’t be the cheapest trip, but likely far more comfortable than a Klingon garbage scow.”
Ethan laughed, “That much is a certainty. Come on let’s go to bed.”
“I’m not tired,” Trinity replied.
“I didn’t say go to sleep,” Ethan grinned. “Besides, who knows when we’ll get a chance again.”
Trinity ran a hand through his hair grinning before giving him a kiss, “I like your style cowboy.”