USS Hippocrates


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Time and Memory

Posted on Mon Feb 8th, 2021 @ 6:32am by

Mission: Mission 0: New crew and New Beginnings
Location: Redstone Ranch, Colorado, Earth
Timeline: Two Years Ago


Dirty black coat, mane, and tail matted, lash marks and open sores along his flanks, it hurt to watch him stand there, head down, on the far side of the practice ring. He had an air of defeat about him; she remembered him differently. In her memory, back in the days when Lyle Senior was in charge, he was gleaming with good health, his tail held up like a flag as he streaked across the field to greet her and Max on their visits.

Trueheart. That was the name.

She leaned against the fence, arms folded and resting on the top rail, her favorite pair of work gloves hanging out of the back pocket of her jeans. Her grandfather stood beside her, calloused hands jammed into a pair of worn and torn jeans that were way beyond repairable but that was Max. He didn't like to give up on things. Clothing, horses, people.

"Can you help him," she asked, her warm alto pitched to be soft and soothing because that would help the horse and she saw his ears prick up at the sound of her voice.

When she had been younger, when she was fresh from Vulcan they'd had whole arguments in just the same tone of voice. It had taken her months to understand why she needed to keep her anger away from the horses and longer still, to realize that from the day she arrived, Max had been working his magic on her, same as he did the horses under his care.

"I think so," Max said after a moment. "The wounds are easy enough to repair, the rest will take longer." His voice, rough and deep, carried with it the compassion that was integral to the man.

"And Lyell's nephew? The brute?" Her expression turned flinty at the thought of him and if her tone was a bit judgemental, she could be perhaps forgiven for not being at a place just yet where she could accept the shortcomings of others so easily.

"Not an issue," Max said as his right hand moved up to the pocket of the jacket he wore. "I'll find him a good home once he's ready but for now, he'll stay here with us."

"Good," she whispered. "That's good." Her hazel eyes remained on the horse but what she was seeing was a very different sort of brute because she was cursed with a mind that would never let her forget. "Can I help, she asked as she turned toward Max and smiled. Max excelled at anticipating things and there he was, using his pocket knife to cut an apple in half because he remembered how much this horse had loved apples. She pulled on her work gloves and walked with him to the gate. Once she was inside, she accepted the apple halves and began walking toward the horse, talking softly.

It didn't matter what you said as long as it sounded comforting. Some repeated the same phrase over and over; she spoke to the horse as though he could understand. "I know, Trueheart," she said softly. "Believe me, I know what you've been through. Been there myself. More than once but Max? He can help." She moved slowly, making sure that the horse could see the treat in her hand, and was rewarded with a flicker of interest. A good sign that. Maybe he had a little trust in him still. "You'll let him do that, won't you? You'll let him help you?"

She extended her hand, palm up and flat, with one half balanced on her palm, and waited for the horse to decide. If he came willingly, all the better. If he didn't, they would try another approach.

It took a while but she was patient. She had learned patience in this place though she had had to come back for a refresher course now and again. The harder lesson had been not to see refusal as rejection but she still held her breath, biting her lower lip, while she waited. She saw the moment Trueheart made his decision and quieted completely. The horse approached slowly; she continued talking to him, encouraging him, and it took him a while to make the trip from fear and anger onto the path of healing. That's what Max called it. The first steps on the path to healing were always the hardest. In the end, the promise of a treat won out; with velvet-soft lips, Trueheart pulled the apple up off her palm to chew while she, her movements slow and cautious, replaced it with the second half.

Then, as the horse took the second half, she picked up the lead rope and started walking him toward the barn where Catherine would be waiting. Max fell in beside her, the horse following slowly. "Just a matter of time," he said. "That horse? He still has hope that things will be better. I think he remembers, maybe, the good times that came before the bad. And those are stronger, eh?"

"I hope so," she said as the visage of a rough Orion popped into her traitorous mind. "I really do."


A post by:

Lieutenant Eden Redstone
Asst. Chief of Operations
USS Archimedes


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