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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 5 – Answering the Call (ATC)

ATC 009 – The Valley of 72 Part 1

Starbase 72 / USS Mackenzie
02.04.2401 @ 1230
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Longfellow sat in a darkened coffee shop, his cup steaming quietly.  He’d been staring at the corridor beyond since he’d sat down.  His mind wandered and spun at various speeds and directions.  So much still was left on the table of his mind, and the kitchen full of weight that sat on his heart left the balance uneven.  Sitting next to him was Asato Hiro.  She stared at the tendrils of heat that swirled above her green tea.  Her heart was adjacent to her long-time mentor’s ongoing feelings.  Both had resisted speaking to each other beyond the rudimentary and required, and a quiet treaty of silence had been unknowingly negotiated between the two.

“Heya.”  They both startled at the lilted accent of their Chief Counselor, and she allowed a sheepish smile, “Sorry y’all, I forget how quiet I can be around others.”  She sat in the empty chair and sipped her coffee, “Damn fine coffee they make here.”  She glanced at both medical officers, “Y’all look like someone shot your dog or somethin’.  What’s goin’ on?”

Henry shook his sight slightly.  He wasn’t quite up to talk.  Asato cleared her throat and took a drink, wincing at the temperature.  “Sensei Longfellow is still processing the loss of his wife, Lieutenant Woodward.  I am feeling lost myself.  It seems we’ve been in transit from Bravo to Eos to here…and not enough time has passed for us to adapt and adopt this place as our own.”

Juliet held her gaze not on the nurse but on the doctor.  “You can call me Juliet or Woodward – I’m not much on rank, to be fair. I’ve read your file, Dr. Longfellow.  The situation with your wife was…,”

Henry spoke, “Horrifying.”  He took a quiet sip of his coffee and appreciated the fresh taste on his palette.  “At least the coffee is good.”  He clasped his hands together, “I know I need to make time to speak with you, Lieutenant.”

She sighed loudly and primarily for effect, “Y’all are new.  I’m Juliet or Woodward.  Counselor, if you need somethin’ honorific to hold onto.”  She cocked her head, “Yes, Henry, you are overdue to see me.  I won’t lie to you – I had to track you down to check a box that at least I made somethin’ resembling a house call before my computer or assistant started screaming at me.  They’re both pretty loud.”

Longfellow cracked a quiet smile, “Only one of them is human and more likely to escalate the harassment.  Computers can be turned off.”

The counselor returned the smile, “Ensign Rutgers is one of the best taskmasters I’ve met, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint her.  She’s just as tenacious with patients, so consider this the only warnin’ you’re goin’ to get.” A resigned sigh was his answer, and Asata indicated she would make sure he followed up.  Woodward stood and turned to leave when their communications badges chirped, =^=All Crew of the USS Mackenzie to report back to stations by 1330=^=

All three glanced at each other for clues before they hustled out of the coffee shop and headed back to the Mack.