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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 11 – Wide Open Spaces

WOS 012 – A New Start

Starbase 72, Various
July 2401
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The lights in sickbay brightened as he entered, PADD in hand.  The crew had ended their fifteen-day sabbatical, and it was time to return to the Mackenzie.  Henry Longfellow felt pride as he looked around the expansive main sickbay area.  Decisions had been made on crew transfers away from the ship.  Curiously, there were transfer-in requests.  And one of them was going to be under his command.  He tapped the replicator for coffee and settled into his office to read her dossier.

One part of The Journey had ended and the next was beginning.  Ensign Renee Parker, registered nurse, had arrived on the Mackenzie from Earth.  The trip was long, which allowed her time to reflect on the last four years, the best time of her young life, and what lay ahead for her.  She was already missing her family and friends from the Academy, but that was the way life was.  One experienced the joys of growing up, but the day always came when it was time to leave the nest and fly.  Leaving the transport and going through security to board the Excelsior II-class starship that would be her duty assignment and home, she quickly made her way to sickbay, PADD in hand and travel bag slung over her shoulder.  With confidence, she went to Doctor Longfellow the CMO, who was in his office.

“Excuse me, Doctor.  I’m Renee Parker, your new RN.”  Renee couldn’t help smiling.

Longfellow glanced up at the bright face that stood at the door.  She was an ensign and fresh from Starfleet Academy.  “Come on in, Ensign Parker.”  He gestured to the chair before his desk, “This morning is our first day back on the Mack.  Charge Nurse Hiro is meeting with the transfer crews in the shuttle bay.  She’ll be your immediate supervisor.”  He tapped at his PADD, “I have to ask…why the Mackenzie?  You had your choice of ships. Your dossier reads like someone who should be on an Odyssey class.”

Setting her travel bag on the floor, Renee sat and placed her PADD on the desk.  She didn’t really know what to expect in meeting the CMO, but explaining her assignment choice wouldn’t have been her first choice.

“Well, sir, I suppose it just comes down to wanting to be in the middle of the action,” said Renee.  “The Mackenzie, the Mack, has a record of doing that.  I feel that’s where I’m needed most.”

Longfellow accepted the answer.  “That’s a fair reason.  I’ve heard the Odyssey classes can be a bit boring with how big they are…but I’ve never stepped foot on one myself.”  He had a warning: “There is one thing you need to be aware of – we lost our Chief Engineer on our last mission – she had served with the crew on the ship before the Mack.  Her meaning to the senior staff and the crew…she was greatly esteemed.  You need to know coming in that there will be some moments where you’ll feel out of the loop.”

Renee nodded respectfully.  She had heard that before arriving.

Longfellow signed her orders and slid her PADD back. “You strike me as someone who can handle just about everything, so I won’t ask if you can handle it.”

“I appreciate the confidence, sir.”  Starfleet Medical provided the best training available, and Renee knew she could handle it.  She also knew a person couldn’t be prepared for everything.  There was always the unknown and the unexpected.

He stood, “Welcome aboard the USS Mackenzie, Ensign Parker.  You should acquaint yourself with the main sickbay – it’ll become your second home.

Renee was surprised that was the extent of her arrival interview.  Shrugging inwardly, she grabbed her travel bag and PADD and stood up.  “Yes, sir.”

=====

Lieutenant Hiro walked through the sprawling doors to sickbay, a small group of orderlies, nurses, and doctors trailing behind her.  She gestured to the expansive room, “Welcome.  I recommend locating your quarters and reporting back here in an hour.”  They all scattered, and she turned her attention to a lone figure on the far end of the row of biobeds.  She was examining the various tables of equipment.  She recognized the face from the files Longfellow had sent her.   She walked up to the new nurse, “Ensign Parker.”  She extended her hand and said, “Lieutenant Hiro, your Charge Nurse.  Or Nurse Manager, depending on who you’re speaking with.”

“Lieutenant.”  Renee nodded, shaking hands.

Hiro hoped the young ensign would work out.  Just under half of the Mackenzie crew had requested transfers.  In her estimation, the Delta Quadrant had taken its toll on many of the new crew they had started the mission with.  The medical teams suffered a higher attrition than most this round.  “We’ll be dividing shifts among the nursing and orderly staff.  Given your service jacket, I’d like to have you on days with me.  We haven’t had orders yet, and I need competent staff.”  She scrolled through her PADD, “Your record suggests competence.”  She set the PADD on the nurse’s station, “What’s something you want to learn on this posting, Ensign Parker?”

Renee thought for a moment, not expecting a question like that.  “I don’t think there’s really a specific answer I can give to that.  I just need to learn to be the best I can for my patients and for my own growth.”  Renee smiled again, pleased with her response.

Hiro accepted the answer, “We are the hands that heal – our patients are our business.”  She handed her a PADD, “We’ve got some inventory items left to verify.  It’ll help you get a feel for Mackenzie’s sickbay.  We’re scheduled for launch this afternoon at 1500 hours.”

Renee expected she would get to find her quarters and unpack first, but there was no time like the present to start working on her new assignment.  “Yes, ma’am.”

Hiro returned to her station and the daunting list of items needing checking off before they could leave Starbase 72.  Whatever mission was ahead of them, they needed to be ready.