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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 11 – Wide Open Spaces

WOS 002 – A Time for Everything

USS Mackenzie / Starbase 72
Post Fleet Action
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The docking platform snapped into place.  The light above the door slipped from red to green.  Captain Wren Walton stood in front, the secured casket escorted by fellow officers behind her.

Carolyn Crawford, tears still threatening to spill.  

Greer Moore, former deputy chief to Chief Katsumi.  Her face was impassive, but her eyes told the story.  

William Prentice, who had served with her on the Edinburgh and then the Mackenzie, stood next to Jordan Reid, who shared the same history. 

Kondo De La Fontaine, Juliet Woodward, Sadie Fowler, and Natalie Harris rounded out the honor guard.  Each officer and crewman were resplendent in dress uniforms.

The docking door whisked open.  Wren stood to attention and began to walk from the docking corridor to Starbase 72.  The low hum of the antigrav units on the casket echoed with the rhythmic thump of the boots as the officers walked in tandem.  They reached the other side and waited as the door was opened.  Captain Geronimo Fontana stood at attention in a similar dress uniform.  At his side stood the parents of Commander Katsumi.  They bowed in silence to the assembled group.  Wren returned the bow.

Wordlessly, the parents turned and walked ahead.  Fontana followed them, then Wren and the rest.  They walked, a long funeral procession, from one docking port to another.  Wren stepped aside while the honor guard carefully slid the casket into the waiting shuttle, securing it against the open wall.  She turned her attention to the grieving parents.  Crawford handed her the United Federation flag that had hung over the casket.  It had been folded and framed, which she, in turn, put into the hands of the father, Katsumi Han.  “Please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for Commander Katsumi’s honorable and faithful service. I am sorry for your loss, sir.”

He accepted the framed flag, his eyes filled with grief, “My daughter was meant for the stars, Captain Walton.  She couldn’t be tamed…couldn’t be stopped.  She…could never sit still.  She always wanted to find the next thing.”  He handed the frame to his wife, “She loved Captain Harris and you so much.  We came to know you through her messages and her stories.”  He extended his hand, “I know my daughter, Captain…we will mourn her…we will grieve for her…but there’s nothing in this universe that could have stopped her.  Thank you for caring for her as you did.” Walton blinked and shook the man’s hand, her tears fighting to break loose again.  He gave her a knowing look, “I wish you and your crew the best, Captain Walton.”  Soon, the shuttle was on its way, leaving Walton staring at the empty dock, her crew standing behind her, wondering what they should do next.

She turned to them, shaking herself loose, “Return to the Mack.  I’ll be there shortly with orders.”  She turned to Fontana, “Your office, I presume?”

 

“We’re taking you and your crew off active rotation for the first half of the month, Walton.” Wren didn’t fight it.  She knew they needed time to grieve.  “The Mackenzie will get some work done on her.  The more important part here…is that you all get some work done on yourselves.”  He went through the list of losses.  First on the Edinburgh with the deep cut that had sent him to work with Harris in the first place.  Then, the loss of Harris himself.  “And now…Chief Katsumi.  Never mind the loss of the Voth colony.”

She sat forward in the chair, “We’ve been through the grinder, Geronimo.”  She wiped the growing tears from her eyes, “I spoke with the captain of the Tokyo while we were in the Delta Quadrant…her losses…staggered me.  I found myself in her losses…and I think we found the way out…but it’s going to take time.  I was coming here to ask you to put us on leave.”  She accepted a tissue from his desk, “I thought I was doing better coming back here to the Alpha…but it’s an open wound.”

Fontana nodded.  “And you need time to heal.  All of you.”  He slid a PADD across the desk, “I’ve got the transfer requests from the Mackenzie.”

She frowned and slipped it off the desk, reading through the names, “Lots of our new crew.”  She shook her head, “I don’t blame them, Fontana.”  She felt his silence and met his long gaze, “You’re not going to grant them?”

Geronimo shrugged, “I’m not sure what I will do.  I’ve told them they must take the mandatory days off with appointments with Starfleet counselors.”  He pointed at her, “That includes you, Captain Walton.”

She centered her emotions, took several long pulls of air, and evened out her heart rate slowly but surely, “Normally I’d fight this…but I learned from a new friend that we shouldn’t try and do this alone.”  Wren said, “I wish we could have saved her, Fontana.”

He stood, “We can’t save them all…but we can save the ones we have with us now…and we can save ourselves.”  He tapped into his desk console, “Captain Wren Walton…you are hereby ordered to be on leave.  Secure your ship, submit your logs, and leave the keys with the dock master.”

She stood at attention and frowned at the last part, “Keys, sir?”

Another shrug, “It’s a saying, Wren.  I don’t want to see you for fifteen days.  You are relieved…and dismissed.”

Wren felt something break inside, and something snapped back as she replied, “I stand relieved.”