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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 7 – Harris Transport Chronicles Chapter 2 (HTC2) and USS Mackenzie: The Mackenzie Squadron – The Uneasy Alliance

HTC2 004 – To Care or Not to Care

Caitian Colony / Fairpoint Station / SS Tallahassee / SS Ambrose
3.9.2401 - 3.11.2401
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“We’ve heard the rumors…and we’re not ignoring them.” The Caitian deputy defense minister walked with Elizabeth McKee as the SS Ambrose was being unloaded, “This supply drop of weapons will go a long way…together with the raw materials you’ve supplied – we’ll be able to make use of the schematics you’ve provided.”  He stopped and looked her in the eyes, “There is still much to be decided out there, Ms. McKee, but this is the start of a fighting chance for our people.”

She felt a shift of emotion in her heart.  “Deputy Minister Csuran, that’s very kind…we’ll continue to do what we can to keep you supplied with what you need.”  She held up a PADD, “You’ve given us a lot to work on.”

Csuran meekly smiled, “You’re the first real contact we’ve had, so I figured I might as well ask for…as you humans say, the moon, and maybe I’ll get something close.”

McKee shook his hand, “You have my word; we’ll do what we can.  We’ll see if we can move that moon a little closer.”  He thanked her, and she returned to the Aeries class ship.

 

“I understand, Tallahassee, but you need to make sure that shipment gets where it’s going – you’ve got people expecting rations and supplies to help keep the fight going.”  A few days later, Natalie Harris sat at the communication station in the back of the bridge, her nerves starting to fray.  The captain of the SS Tallahassee was making every excuse in the book to avoid making his run to Galadkail Minor.  McKee walked onto the bridge and changed her path to stand behind Harris as she listened to the conversation.  “Listen, Captain…”  She swore, slammed the console out of frustration, and looked at McKee, furious, “The goddamn captain hung up on me.”  She fell back in the chair, “They aren’t listening to me.”

Elizabeth shook her head, “It’s not that they’re not listening to you, Nat…it’s that you’re not speaking their language.”  She tapped her shoulder, “Let’s visit Captain Frang…and see if we can motivate him.”  Harris cocked her head in curiosity but followed as the older of two led her off the Ambrose and on to Farpoint Station.  It took her a few minutes to get the lay of the place, but she was soon moving at a clipped pace, Natalie at her heels and then at her side as she adopted the mild swagger that McKee had developed.  They soon arrived at the dock for the Wallenberg class transport.  

A dock officer stopped them, “You’ll need….”

Natalie Harris had done a lot of thinking on her way over with McKee.  She’d worked through some of her words and had decided it was time to be bold.  “Natalie Harris, Harris Transport.  This is our ship, and I need to speak with the captain.”  He accessed his PADD and tapped it to scan her biosignature.  The device beeped in the affirmative, and he stepped aside.

 

Transport Captain Felix Frang sat comfortably on the small bridge of his ship, thinking of the places he could go and get lost.  He wasn’t a courageous man, and he’d decided to cut his losses with Harris Transport and find someone else to work with.  He wasn’t worried about taking the ship for himself – Harris Transport hadn’t been exactly keeping great track of things recently.  He’d heard about the new CEO but had dismissed her as just another figurehead.

The door to the bridge opened, and he was startled to see Natalie Harris advance on him, flanked by another woman in a Harris uniform and his first officer haranguing them both.  Harris stood before him, blocking his ability to escape, “Captain Frang, I’d like to see you in your ready room.”

He sputtered, “Anything you have to say to me, you can say to my crew.”  He cringed as the words left his mouth.  Those were not the words of the reality that sat in the command chair.  They were words from a man long ago who used to care.  He just didn’t anymore.

Natalie scowled at him, “I’ve had a long walk over here, Captain.  I’ve had a lot of time to think on that long walk.  And I’m here to ask you – will you fulfill your obligations and orders?”  Next to her, McKee was gaining a new appreciation for the younger Harris.  She had always been a bit of a spitfire, but she’d never really gathered that fire together for a purpose.  She had a purpose now.”

Frang’s mouth moved, but no words came out.  He tried again.  Nothing.  He sighed, “I don’t care anymore.”  He flinched at Natalie’s face snapping up, her eyes boring into him.  He haltingly continued, “…it doesn’t matter to me.  I try, and I try…”

Natalie found her last nerve snap.  “Shut the hell up, Frang.  I am relieving you of command of the Tallahassee and ending your contract with Harris Transport as of this moment.”

He tried to find his courage and spat back, “You can’t fire me!”  He struggled to get out of the chair, but she stood her ground, staring at him.

“I have been granted that authority just this morning by my mother.  Updated records were transmitted to all ships this morning.”  She glanced at the XO, “Can you please verify?”  He stepped over to a console, accessed the records with relief, and nodded thankfully to Harris.  She hadn’t lost eye contact with Frang, “Now, you can go willingly, or I can make today the shittiest day you’ve had in a very long time.”  Her face felt warm, her heart racing, but she was oddly calm.  Her righteous indignation meter had hit the redline, and Frang had been the one to push the big red button to release the enraged Galaxy Class within.

“I…uh…my people will never listen to you.”  His face fell as he said it.  He knew it was a lie.  His former crew had stepped back to the corners of the bridge, their hands behind their backs.  They weren’t going to intervene.

Harris stepped back, “You fucked around and found out, Frang.”  She motioned to the XO, “Your name, please?”

The tall XO stepped forward, “Marcus Walton, ma’am.”  He didn’t look at his former captain.

“Marcus Walton, you are now Captain of the SS Tallahassee.  I will make a note in the log.  You have orders to continue transport operations.  Will you complete your orders?”

Walton answered firmly, “Yes, ma’am.  We will.”  He glanced around at the crew, who were looking at him in a new light.  It felt good.

“Mr. Freng, McKee will escort you off the ship.  I will ensure your belongings are transported to the holding department on Farpoint.  I will place a one-way ticket home to Earth in your name.  Do not expect a reference.”

He followed Elizabeth McKee off the bridge, still trying to find the words to explain away his shame.  Harris walked to the console and changed the log and roster.  Natalie looked to each of them as she spoke, “Good luck to you all…and thank you for doing the right thing.”  

Walton spoke for his new crew, “Thank you for doing the same, ma’am.”

“Call me Nat. Captain Walton.  We’ll see you out there.”  She left the bridge and let out a long sigh as she returned to the SS Ambrose.  What a day.