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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 10 – Ghost Machine and Bravo Fleet: We Are the Borg

GM 020 – The Bar at the End of the World

USS Mackenzie / Markonian Outpost
6.20.2401
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Captain Wren Walton stood at the bottom of the platform leading to the shuttle. She stared at the open door, a gaping maw of loss.  She turned to her executive officer, Commander Park, “This one will hurt.”  A wordless nod from Park.  Katsumi had been the first officer to welcome Walton aboard the Mackenzie.  She’d also decided to stay, even with the loss of Captain Harris still fresh in her heart.

“Captain.”  The security officer let her know that the honor guard had been assembled to escort the body of their Chief Engineer to the morgue.  Walton gave a nod and adjusted her dress uniform out of habit.  A science team and medical team had come and gone to verify that any Borg implements were inactive.  Park had been delivered a fresh dress uniform from the quartermaster.

It took a few moments for the honor guard to retrieve the body and place it in a secure container.  Shortly, they climbed out of the shuttle door and escorted the covered body down the ramp, past Walton and Park standing at attention.  The gathered officers also stood at attention, observing the honor that Commander Katsumi had earned in her sacrifice.  The door to the shuttle bay hissed closed, but the silence remained.  Park turned to her friend, “I know her family will wish to honor her.  We still have until the end of the month before we can go home.”

Wren nodded, her tears being held back by her singular force of will.  “Coordinate with Woodward for a ship-wide service.”  She turned to Park, “I’ll make an announcement from the bridge.”  She sighed, “Goddamn Delta Quadrant.  Goddamn Borg.  Goddamn…everything.”  Park pulled her, embracing her captain and friend.

 

Walton stepped back on the bridge. She was still feeling raw as she walked to where Thasaz sat, “Any update?”

The science chief gave a sad nod, “The Borg Sphere is moving off…tracking shows it’s returning to Borg space.  We did it.”  There were no cheers from the bridge crew. The news of their loss had spread quickly.  

Wren sat in her chair.  She needed to compose herself.  The loss of an officer was something she had trained for over and over.  And yet…this one felt unlike anything she’d experienced.  She knew what her training told her.  And yet…it wasn’t that easy.  It was her first command.  Her first loss.  She tapped the shipwide channel, “This is your captain.”  She thought about what she was going to say.  What comfort could she bring?  What hope?  “We lost our chief engineer, Commander Katsumi, in the mission to stop the Borg Sphere.  She died, saving the rest of this quadrant from the threat of assimilation. She was an important part of this crew…she was here before I was.  She was the first one to welcome me aboard.”  Walton smiled at the memory, “We will take our time to grieve her loss and the parts of us that will need healing. Walton, out.”

 

“She loved this ship.”  Kondo De La Fontaine sat in the senior staff lounge as Juliet Woodward finished arranging the food and drink.  “She loved that it was alive…and that it was her baby.”  His throat tightened, “She was the heart of this crew.”

Juliet sat beside him, “She was somethin’ else, Kondo.”  They drank in silence until the rest of the senior staff began to trickle into the room.  Thasaz slipped into the seat opposite them, her eyes shining from the tears threatening to break over the dam she had built.

“I’m going to miss her.”  The Romulan dabbed at her eyes, frustrated at having to grieve once more at the loss of a fellow officer.  She had served on the Edinburgh, and they had lost their share of crew in her time aboard.  It seemed that wherever she went, death stalked her through her friends and crew.  A thought had simmered – why couldn’t she have been the one to die?  She had lived long enough.  She’d lived many lives in that time.  She knew you couldn’t negotiate with Death.  Nobody chooses when, she reminded herself.

As the remaining officers took their seats, Juliet stood.  Her position as Chief Counselor came with certain requirements.  One was handling funerals.  She addressed the command staff, “We’re headed back to Markonian Outpost.  We should arrive there by the 20th, which gives us ten days before we return home.”  She slipped a PADD off the table, “Arrangements for Chief Katsumi’s service are underway.  Those who would like to speak, please add yourself to the list.  Assistant Chief Crawford will speak for the engineering team at the end.”  She scrolled through the list, “We’ve started compiling a list of things she liked, and we think she would want to have at the funeral.  We haven’t been able to find the will she was supposed to file for whatever reason.”

A hand went up. Juliet found the source of the hand.  It was Chief Flight Control Officer Gabriella Castillo.  Woodward gave her a nod.  “That’s not… entirely true.”  She held up a data chip, “She…uh…she recorded something in case she didn’t come back.  We all did.”  She spoke to Walton, “I’m sorry, captain.  We…we just weren’t sure what to do with it.”  

Wren stared at her and motioned for the chip. She turned to Juliet, “Thoughts?”

Woodward chewed on her bottom lip for thirty seconds.  Nobody had seen it.  What unintended surprises might be in the recording?  She accepted the chip and slipped it into the large screen against the wall.  It flickered for a moment before the haunting face of Katsumi, Borg Disguise, and all appeared.  Juliet hit the play button.

“Well…this is what I never thought I’d have to do.”  The face of their former Chie Engineer clouded with an array of emotions as she spoke, “I’m sorry, Juliet – I keep forgetting to file that will.  So, here I am.”  She shrugged, “I’m pretty sure I’ll make it home, and we’ll delete this as soon as we get back on the Mack.  But…in case this thing goes wrong…I want you all to know I love you.  My time in the Eddie and the Mack…it’s been beyond special.  I remember when Commander Harris found me on Bravo…and I can’t imagine never going there again.  Open space is just so…alive.  So much to do out here…so much to explore…and so much to fix.”  She laughed, and the senior staff chuckled along with her.  “I’ve never really thought about it…death.”  Her face went serious for a moment, her signature smile fading.  “I’m not afraid of it…I just don’t want it to happen.”  The face of Katsumi returned to her good-natured smile, “I know that I’ve been really lucky to have the career I’ve had and the people I’ve known.  I meant it when I said it…I love you.  I love my engineering crew, even when they test my patience.  I love the senior staff I get to work with…I’ve gotten to know them from the Eddie to the Mack…and look forward to waking up to work with them.”  She paused.  A silence fell over the room as they waited for her next words.  It took Katsumi a full minute to find the right thing to say.  “I know the risks that come with being a Starfleet engineer.  I’ve had my share of close calls.”  Her smile faded again, and her eyes stared beyond the camera lens, “I never imagined going up against the Borg…I guess I can check it off my list.  If I don’t make it back…I wouldn’t trade it for the universe.  All the risk, the adventure, the doldrums, the quiet hours, the wild times…it was a worthwhile venture.  It was…what I wanted.  I couldn’t stay on Earth or a planet or a station…and after the Eddie and the Mack…I’d never want to set foot on solid ground again.  What we do…it’s a sacred thing.  You make an agreement with yourself about the risk…and how it is your business to take it.  The risk is worth it, even if I don’t make it back.  I died doing something for someone else.”  She paused, a new look of determination filling her eyes, “I’m glad I had a part in that.”  She checked her watch, “We’re almost there.  Time to get ready.  Wish us luck.”  The video cut, and the lights faded up.  

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Juliet stood by the monitor.  She cleared her throat, “You’re welcome to remain here for as long as you need.  Service is set for the evening of the 20th when we return to the outpost.  Come as you are.”

 

“There’s a place in our hearts that is empty.”  Assistant Chief Engineer Carolyn Crawford stood at the podium, her voice cracking.  She was the last to speak; it had been a long service of celebration, grief, mourning, and hope.  She had tried to find the right words to end the funeral.  “Chief Katsumi forced us to find room for her in each of ours.  She wanted to know us and each of our stories.  She wasn’t willing to let us talk around ourselves – she was desperate to understand us so she could support… mentor and guide us.”  She looked around the room, filled with every officer aboard the Mackenzie.  They had arrived at the outpost earlier than expected, allowing the entire crew to attend.  “She loved this ship…and she loved us.  She demanded excellence from everyone…and wasn’t going to let us try and fall behind.  I still have the list of engineering journals she had me start with…she found a way to make me care about knowing as much as possible about what I do…it was nothing short of magic.”  She tapped at the PADD and read the testimonies from the various engineering officers and crewmen, pausing every so often for shared tears and laughs.  She took a deep breath, “Now…it’s the end.  Chief Katsumi always wanted us to believe in ourselves and better ourselves however we could.  And so, from the engineering department, we ask you – to continue the chief’s mission.  Don’t give up on what lies ahead.  Don’t forget, whoever sits beside you is there for you.  You are not alone.  Chief Katsumi made sure we belonged to something important – a crew.  We will remember her always.”  She looked out across the crew, “To absent friends.  May they continue to guide us through the stars, to the stars, and beyond the stars.”  She paused and repeated, “To absent friends.”

The gathered crew responded in unison, “To absent friends.”

Comments

  • I don't think anyone could wish for a better and more fitting send off. A clear indication of how strongly the officers and crew felt about Katsumi and how she felt about them. That's one big hole you've created in the lives of Mackenzie's crew. Moving and brilliantly written.

    December 6, 2023