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

ATC 017 – Finding The Way

Starbase 72 - USS Mackenzie
02.06.2401 @ 0700
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“Captain Walton.”

“Captain Fontana.”

Wren Walton stood at mild attention, hands clasped behind her back.  Geronimo sat at his desk, reviewing the PADD.  He would glance at the data in front of him, back at her, and then back to the device.  Finally, he leaned back in his chair, “You can sit down, captain.”

She hesitated momentarily and then, with a sigh, sat down, “I’m not sure why you sent for me, sir.”

He placed the PADD on his desk and leaned forward, “You’ve been one of our problem solvers for the better part of…what, fifteen years?”  She tilted her head in acknowledgment.  She had been used as an instrument of change over the years – first as a Chief Operation Officer, then as Executive Officer, and finally, in the last two years, as Captain.  It had been exciting to be placed in short-term assignments.  Her talent for finding the issues on ships had become a skill, and her knack for working with just about everyone had cemented her usefulness to Starfleet Command.  Fontana asked, “Why did you request for a long-term posting?”

“I’m tired of wanderin’.”  She leaned back in her chair, searching the ceiling, “I’m 40 years old, sir.  I’ve seen ships, stations, and space from Alpha Quadrant to Delta Quadrant…it’s time to find a home.” She returned her gaze to the Task Force XO, “I’ve still got plenty to offer the fleet…I jus’ want to be with one girl for a while.”  She chuckled at his raised eyebrows, “I forget – you’re medical branch.  You know how engineers an’ operations officers talk about their ships sometimes.”

Fontana moved on, “I don’t know if you have heard…but we lost a captain yesterday.”

“I had.  I hadn’t met him but heard a little about him.  He sounded like a good officer.”

“He was.  A good man as well.”  He swallowed in an attempt to keep his emotions at bay.  He’d served with Ambrose and had been a one-time nemesis turned friend and eventual commanding officer.  “We’re taking the Mackenzie senior staff off duty.  We’ve offered a similar deal to the crew.  We’ve identified you as her next CO, Captain Walton.”

“You seem to think I’m going to accept this deal at face value, Captain Fontana.”  She stared him down and did not seem pleased with his offer.

He caught the glare and paused to think of his next words, “Your name is at the top of my list, Captain Walton.  Your record speaks for itself – a solid commanding officer who can work with anyone and everyone…those are the exact words from several of your evaluations.”  He sighed, “We need someone who can step into a terrible situation and make the best of it.  We need the Mackenzie.”

She considered his offer.  On the one hand, it would be a tough assignment to wade into a previous captain’s culture and command style.  On the other hand, it was an Excelsior II class. “I have conditions,” she offered.  He indicated for her to continue, “You said you’re transferring the senior staff?  I want to be able to pick my own.”

“I can agree to that.  What else?”

She regarded him in a lull in the conversation.  “You’re being unusually willing to accept my demands, Captain.”

Fontana allowed a small smile, “You need this as much as I need this, Captain Walton.  Together, I think we can help solve some of our troubles.”

 

The bridge of the Mackenzie was quiet.  She strolled from chair to chair, her eyes searching the command center as the ambient sound of the stations sang a discordant orchestra.  She studied each console until she arrived at the center chair.  It was a standard chair, but it was more than that.  It was the center chair.  Only two people had held that chair in the history of the Mackenzie.  And one of them was dead.  She glanced up as the door to the bridge opened, and an officer in yellow stepped through and glanced up in surprise, “Oh…captain.  I wasn’t…sure if you would be aboard yet.”  Her face blushed red, and her eyes held the tell tail signs of recent tears.

Wren gave a friendly but restrained smile, “I’m Captain Wren Walton…but you can just call me Captain Wren.  Lot shorter that way.  You must be….”

The woman returned the restrained smile, but hers was filled with nervous energy as she introduced herself, “Chief Engineer Okada Katsumi, commander, ma’am.”

The new CO shook her head, “Ma’am is for when I’m dressing an officer down, Chief Katsumi.  Captain will do fine any other time.”  She looked around the bridge, “I couldn’t help but notice you were one of the few who expressed a desire to stay aboard.”  It was unsurprising to see the list of the senior crew who had requested a different assignment together.  They had bonded with Harris and grown together as a team.

Katsumi pursed her lips.  It wasn’t that Harris didn’t mean anything to her.  He had sought her out on Starbase Bravo and pulled her out of an extended career funk.  He had given her a new life on the Eddie and now the Mack.  “I’m not sure Captain Harris would want me to give up on this girl, you know?”

Wren’s smile widened slightly, “I was an operations chief before I got in the command track.  I said the same thing to Captain Fontana yesterday, and he looked amused when I spoke about ships like that.”

Okada felt her face redden again, “We didn’t get along at first when he came aboard the Eddie…but we found our way.  He didn’t fully understand me either, captain.  Not a lot of people do.”

Walton appraised the engineer through a different lens.  Harris had chosen Okada for a reason, and it was becoming more evident and more apparent why.  “Well, I understand you, Chief.  I heard there’s a service on the station later this afternoon.”

Katsumi confirmed, “1400. Most of the crew will be there.  Juliet is making arrangements.  I should probably help her.”  She turned to leave, “You’re welcome to come and attend, captain.  We were always an open and accepting family here with Captain Harris…I don’t think he’d mind.”  Her eyes threatened to flood again, and she gave a quiet wave as she departed the bridge, sniffling.  The door closed, and Wren returned her eyes to the bridge.

She whispered out loud, “Open and accepting family.”  She now knew one of her goals once she had her crew.  Carrying on that element of the Mackenzie culture…that mattered.  She looked around before heading for the ready room, her heart heavy with what lay ahead.