Chapter 22 - Down on the Farm
The chronometer on the console read 5:04. Millie shifted her duffle bag with her ballet slippers over to her other shoulder. She’d made arrangements to get to spend the morning back in the gym, and had sorely missed her pre-shift exercise routine while they’d been planetside. She had hoped to make it to the holodeck before Henry to catch him, but a diaper change had delayed her timeline. At least Henry was predictable, and was already in the holodeck, according to the computer. She took a deep breath and stepped through the doors.
He was already at work ‘on the ranch’, mucking out one of the horse stalls. The program was set to mimic Earth’s recorded temperatures from the day before. It must have been a hot one because he was already starting to sweat. He turned when he heard the doors swoosh. “Business or pleasure?”
Millie set her duffle down on one of the rustic wooden benches and chuckled. “I think you know me well enough by now to know that, as much as I’ve enjoyed riding the horses on your ranch, this is not exactly my idea of a good time.” She gave a diplomatic smile. “I remembered to wear boots this time, at least.” They were not so much ‘boots’ as they were ‘waterproof galoshes’, but she’d made the mistake of not wearing the appropriate footwear for the Captain’s morning chores.
“Well, don’t just stand there…” he motioned to a nearby pen. “Chickens aren’t gonna feed themselves.”
Millie looked over her shoulder a moment as if expecting him to be talking to anyone else but her. But then, who else would be doing farm chores on a starship in the void of space? She bent, picking up one of the pails of feed, and shuffled her way to the chicken pen. “I’m concerned about one of our crew members.”
“Only one? I’d say that’s progress.” He grabbed a broom. “Which one is it?”
“Lieutenant Commander Liski.” Millie tsked at one of the chickens who tried to sneak past her as she slipped open the gate to the pen.
His eyes slid to the Counselor. “What’s her issue, if you’re able to tell me?”
Millie pulled the pen door shut behind her. “It’s been difficult for her to reintegrate into Starfleet. Twenty years in the field, and it can be hard to–” She paused, thinking for a moment. “She’s had to be someone else for so long, I think she’s struggling to find herself again.”
“To work it out I let them in….All the good guys and the bad guys that I’ve been.” He set the broom aside. “I can sympathize, it’s never easy to transition. Lately she and Patricia decided to get a little erratic in an unauthorized joint venture. I don’t know if we can handle the two of them working together.”
“I’m aware of what they did.” Millie leaned over the top of the fence. She wasn’t about to tell Henry that she’d learned of the escapade from Evelyn first. “In all the time you’ve known Patricia, how many friends have you seen her make?”
“She’s not the friendly type to most though she’d come out of her shell a little. But yea, not many.”
“From what I understand, those two have drinks once or twice a week.” Millie shrugged. “Ms. Liski could use more people in proximity who she feels she can trust–which is why I wanted to ask about a personnel transfer.”
“XO handles personnel. Why bring it to me?”
“Because you’re the harder sell, Henry.” Millie smirked, hanging the empty feed bucket on the fence post. “I want to bring in someone whose worked with the Commander before, someone who can help to ease the transition–but they’re a little, well…unconventional.”
“How are you going to find someone who’s worked with her, aside from the Chief? Most of her background is classi…” the lightbulb went off, “…oh no, no way. I’m not plugging in another program. We’re still trying to undo the damage the last one did to our systems.”
“She’s an EMH, Henry. Not an omnipotent AI.”
“We have an EMH, a damn good one too.”
Millie propped both elbows on the fence. “Then put her on my staff.”
“She has two friends on the ship. Isn’t that enough? There are days I’m pretty sure I don’t have any.”
“Because you’re as warm and fuzzy as a porcupine, Henry. It’s a good thing Edra thinks you’re cute.” Millie smirked. “Besides, her connection to the Chief is…complicated, and you just told me that you don’t want her working together with Trish–”
“What about me?” Patricia walked over, hopping up on a fence, a little gingerly.
“Was this a setup? Good cop, bad cop?”
Millie glanced over at Henry. “No idea.”
Patricia looked between them. “I just came here because I wanted to talk to you about…the thing…in the place.”
“You don’t have to talk in code, somehow the Counselor knows what you were up to.”
“You do?” She looked to her friend, surprised because she knew she didn’t tell her. Then realization hit. “Oh…yea, you probably would because….uh…yea, no I have no idea….”
“I figured out Moro helped you.”
“It was actually her idea if you still want to punish someone.”
“I want to have Emma officially transferred to the ship.” Millie cracked a grin. “Henry told me no. But I think that, with my added familial responsibilities, I should be able to hire additional counseling staff.”
“That’s a good idea.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.”
“And I’ll want time to train additional counseling staff before Evelyn and I take our honeymoon–”
“I’m not spilling my guts to a computer. It took me like three years to talk to you.”
He shook his head, walking back into the barn. “I’m gonna go shovel shit in peace. Do NOT follow.”
“Think he’ll do it?”
“Of course.” Millie gave a wink. “Personnel matters go through the XO. And Edra already said yes.”
“Does he know that?”
“If he doesn’t already, I’m sure he’ll figure it out by dinnertime.” Millie smirked.