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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 11 – Wide Open Spaces

WOS 001 – The Return

Starbase 72
Post Fleet Action
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It’ll be nice to see the old girl. Miados and his gruffness echoed in her mind as she paced her temporary quarters on Starbase Bravo. 

Shealynn Rhodes accepted her symbiote’s feelings about returning to the Mackenzie.  She wasn’t sure she shared them entirely.  “It’ll be nice to see her again…but the circumstances are shit, Miados.” She could feel his shrug,

You know we don’t have control of that.  We have control of how we can help them. 

She wanted to shrug back.  “It still feels dirty…like I’m getting a second chance at Mackenzie.  Someone died to make this happen.”  Rhodes scrunched her nose, “I didn’t even reach out to her when she took over.”

Like I said…you didn’t kill her.  You wanted her to make her way…and not feel like she had to walk in your shoes.  Or is it footsteps?  Human idioms are still as odd as ever.

Rhodes hated it when he was right.  He was in this case.  “Fine, I’ll give it a chance.  I’ll take the interview and see where it goes.  Chief Engineers are hell to replace, especially the ones people liked.”

I thought they liked you on the original Mackenzie and the refit project.

She could feel his questions pressing in on her slightly, as if worried about the memories she was remembering from her first assignment on the Mack.  “They did.”  She thought about what she was feeling.  “It always felt like a sad ending the way we all just…left the Mackenzie after Alexandra retired.”

You kept in touch.

She appreciated his efforts to help her feel the complete story in her memory.  “We did…we do.”  There was just something about returning to the Mack that she couldn’t quite figure out.  It would have to wait.  Her meeting was in ten minutes.  “Let’s get ready, Miados.”

 

Wren stood at attention in her ready room as former Captain Alexandra “The Hammer” Pantuso stepped through the door, “Captain Pantu…,”

She waved the younger officer away, “Don’t even get started with me, Walton.  It was a bumpy ride here and probably be a bumpier ride home.” Pantuso sat roughly in the chair across from a rapt and shocked Captain of the Mackenzie. “Sit down.”  Wren did as she was asked.

“I didn’t expect you…what do you want me to call you?”  She said it gently, worried she had somehow upset the former Mackenzie captain.

“Alexandra will do just fine.  I’m here because you’re going to interview Lieutenant Commander Miados.”

Wren frowned and searched her memory for the name.  She found it a moment later, “Your Chief Engineer.”

The retired captain scoffed, “Not just my chief engineer.  She stayed on when the Mackenzie converted to the Excelsior II class.  She worked side by side with me and my team to get this girl ready.  She was my Chief for the five years I commanded this bird.”  She stared down Walton, “She the best you could ask for, Walton.  She knows this ship.  You need a steady hand down there.”

The younger captain leaned forward, “You’re trying to save her from something, Alexandra.  I’m sure her name is on my list if the position’s been posted.”

Pantuso chuckled darkly, “She’s been serving on a Nebula class since I retired.  Doing good work…but I always told her she was meant for more.  Miados should be in an engine room with potential and possibility.”

Wren countered carefully, “And what about what Miados wants?”

Another scoff, “What did you want before you got stuck on nanny duty for most of your career?” Walton raised both eyebrows and stared at the unapologetic Pantuso, who continued, “You wanted to be a captain, Walton.  They asked me to evaluate you when your name came up for this ship.  I read between the lines.  That center chair was meant for you.”

“And all those years helping officers and solving problems?”

Alexandra rolled her eyes, “A good number of them are still serving proudly…and a few of them got swept out with the rest of the trash.  The work you did was good.  The work you do here is great.”  She stood and eyed the room, “You redecorated…I don’t like it.”  She reached the door to the bridge and turned to face Wren, “Hire Miados, don’t hire Miados…but I don’t do this for everyone, Walton.”  The door closed behind Pantuso.  Wren sat back in her chair.  The woman was a powerhouse.  There was a reason she had been the ship’s first commander after the refit.

 

“Captain Walton.”  Shealynn Miados stood at attention before her interviewer.

Wren indicated the chair, “Have a seat, Commander Miados.”  She held up her PADD with the Trill’s dossier, “You’ve had quite the career.”

The voice of her symbiont wondered, What’s she trying to do here?  Shealynn replied, “I’ve been lucky, Captain.”

Walton shook her head, “You’ve been good, commander.  Luck didn’t build this dossier.”  She sat forward, “Your former CO came to visit me earlier today.”

“Oh sh…I mean…I’m sorry, Captain Walton.  She shouldn…”

Wren stopped her, “She made her point when she walked in here and told me I needed to hire you.  I also don’t think either of us would be able to tell Alexandra Pantuso what to do.”  Miados smiled quietly, and Walton knew she’d managed to connect with her.  “You know our situation, Commander.  We’ve got a space in our hearts and duty roster.  I know you know this ship.  You know you know this ship.  What do you know about people?”

She appreciated the question.  It told her the values of Walton without her having to ask the question.  “People matter, Captain Walton.  I can’t run an effective engineering department without people who trust and believe in me…and themselves.”

Walton contemplated her next words.  She could question the seasoned officer further.  She could push until she was satisfied that Miados was the right choice.  But, she asked herself, what good would that do?  She had the Mackenzie’s first chief engineer sitting before her, ready to leap back home.  She had no other choice of words except for, “Welcome back to the Mackenzie, Chief Miados.”