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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 11 – Wide Open Spaces

WOS 003 – A Healing Ranch

Harris Ranch
Post FA
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The morning sun was breaking, spilling soft yellow light through the second-floor window and into the eyes of Captain Wren Walton.  Only she wasn’t captain today.  She was just Wren.  The call had come the night before from Rachel Harris, mother of the late Ambrose Harris.  Harris Transport also had an expansive ranch in Eastern Montana that served varying purposes.  A recent purpose was to serve Starfleet officers in the capacity of a place of rest.

She slid out of the King Size bed.  Juliet Woodward had been invited, along with Park Seoyeon and Cardamon.  They’d arrived last night and spent some quiet time by the fire pit in the backyard, watching the stars, ships, and stations above them.  Wren had woken up feeling groggy, still tired from the compounding stress on her shoulders from the Delta Quadrant.  She headed for the shower and treasured the hot water that resulted.  Her muscles slowly began to loosen in the water.

 

“Good morning, Wren.”  The stately figure of Rachel Harris stood in the kitchen, a large cup of coffee in her hands.  “Welcome to Harris Ranch.”  She filled a mug and handed it over, “Breakfast is at the main house.  The others are already there….I wanted to ensure someone was here to walk you down.”

Walton accepted the coffee, “Thank you, Ms. Harris.”

Rachel pointed out, “It’s Rachel…no need for rank or power here.  We’re all just folks.”

“Thank you, Rachel.  Feels odd…but I’ll get over it.”

Harris smiled, her eyes twinkling, “Good.  Follow me.”  They walked out the back door and down a dirt path to the main house.  “You’ve done good work taking over for my son, Wren.”

Walton nearly stopped in her tracks but focused on putting one foot before the other, “Thank you.  I never met him…but he was well-loved and respected.” They turned a corner in the path, “I’m sorry for your loss, Rachel.”

It was Harris who stopped and turned to appreciate the woman behind her, “I am too.  I’ve spent plenty of time trying to blame someone for his death…The Devore, the people on that planet…but the truth is that he took the risk to do what he did.  He was still young…and he made a mistake.”  She had been staring at the ground as she spoke.  Her eyes met Walton’s, “A mother’s pride never fades…I’m as proud of him today as the day he came into this world.”  She turned and continued to lead them down the path.

 

“Walton!”  Woodward motioned her over the expansive table that held Cardamon, Park, Natalie Harris, and, surprisingly, her squadron Deputy Commander, Peter Crawford.  Juliet pulled out a chair for her, and she sat awkwardly.  Crawford wasn’t in uniform.  The chief counselor explained, “The Olympic is being put to work with our crew with the counseling and medical teams.  Cap…Peter’s here to work with me.”

Walton wondered if that was the truth.  Juliet was aware of her more than friendly feelings for Peter.  The reality was it probably was a happy accident.  Either way, she was happy with it – her feelings for the man hadn’t abated.  Breakfast was served, and the low buzz of conversation soon filled the cafeteria.

Peter and Wren remained seated at the table as the group broke up.  Crawford went first, “I hope it’s okay that I’m here.”

She felt a smile cross her lips as she replied, “It’s more than okay.  It’s…oddly nice.  We spent a month in the Delta Quadrant getting chewed up and spit out repeatedly.  Sitting here…with you…it feels good.”

“You want to go horseback riding later?  Rachel Harris said they’ve been doing some work on their trails.  Weather looks good.”

Her smile filled her lips, “That’d be nice, Pete.”

 

“You think they’re gonna make out?”  Park stood by the espresso machine, her latte filling her with warmth.  It felt good to be out of uniform.  She’d landed at the ranch an hour ago and had found her way to stand beside Juliet, who rolled her eyes at the statement of her XO.

“We both have a vested interest in this thing working out.  Let’s not manifest a warp-speed relationship.”

Park was tempted to pout but knew her new friend would have punched her in the shoulder, drawing attention.  She instead redirected with, “So, how are you and Kondo?”

“We’re doing good, thankyouverymuch.  And before you ask why he’s not here, he’s on his way.  He should be here this afternoon.  He’s making a stop at home to catch up with family.”

“When are you gonna meet his family?”

Juliet lightly tapped her friend on the shoulder, “Shall we talk about your relationship next?”

Park shut up.  “I have no further questions, your honor.  Case dismissed.”

Woodward chuckled, “That’s what I thought. You come for the king; you best not miss, miss.”

“I hate you.”  She said it with a sly smile.

Juliet cracked back, “I love you.”