"I don't care what you say Krista, no matter how well you make your hologram it will never compare to a ridding a real horse" The woman speaking is standing in the center of a circular pen as a large palomino mare trots the circumference. She clicks at the mare some and the trot quickens some.

"It'll compare! Almost have it dialed in. A few more sessions like this and I'll have it down" Krista replied to her mother. It was an old argument, had almost every time she asked her to help. Usually at the dinner table as well. "Besides it's not like you hate doing the work!" she added grinning. Her mother was a strong willed woman and held her ground on the argument, but she couldn't resist an excuse to exercise one of their horses.

"If you say so" was the reply. Despite the argument, the older woman had a genuine smile on her face. It was all in fun anyway. She was right and her daughter was wrong, that was all there was to it. However it did help sales, allowing people to view their animals better before coming to buy.

As Krista tapped a few more keys on her PADD she became aware of her father reading over her shoulder. "Yes?" she asked as she looked over. He stood shaking his head bemused at all the math he saw.

"All that schooling, all the stuff your brother sends you from the school and this is what you do with it? Try to put us out of business!" Even as his face was firm, it cracked a smile and eventually, a laugh by the end of the statement. Krista did note that he had the next pair of horses she asked for with him. Her favorite red roan and her brothers black patched appaloosa. He walked past after smiling at her and tied them at the near by hitch next to his large bay. The three horses nicked quietly at one another and eventually loudly to the palomino in the round pen.

'See! Even they think you are cracked!" The woman in the center laughed again as she brought the palomino to a halt with a half step ahead of its movements. The mare turned and faced her and let out a snort. "Oh come here girl" she said, and with a quick step the horse moved to the center nuzzling the woman.

"You cant possibly be planning on using all of them today can you?" Her father asked as he walked over to the gate, opening it for her mother and the following mare.

"Maybe....just not what you think for." Was Krista's reply. She had promised not to tell her family about her brothers impending arrival but it was so difficult and he was due.

"Planning on a ride are you?" Was her mothers comment as she walked back over. Krista looked at her as innocently as she could but, there was no fooling mom. She knew something was up, she always seemed to. Krista had to admit this one was a bit more obvious than most days, she always used one and worked all day. This time she had four, and wasn't watching as closely as she usually did.

As if on cue all four horses ears perked up and they started nickering. Soon the other horses in the large barn, and outside were as well. Krista didn't notice as fast as her parents did, but she noticed the sound first. A quiet humming sound, growing steadily louder. Her parents both looked at each other then her. Krista was very glad she wasn't going to be alone for long against them. After just a few moments the hum stopped with a high pitched whine then silence. The horses settled some but their ears still twitched as the dog was barking nonstop.

"I hope they are used to dogs" was her fathers comment. He started to walk to the barn door when the appaloosa let out a loud whinny and started to paw the ground. Both her mom and dad went silent and watched the horse a moment before looking towards the door. Krista almost giggled as she took the chance to snap a photo with her PADD as her brother stepped into the barn followed close behind by the family dog.

They stood staring at one another for a long few moments, even the horses seemed to feel it was best to be silent. Her oldest brother had not been home in nearly a year and a half. Suddenly here he was and despite all the misgivings their parents had about his choice to join Starfleet, they were confronted by the profound fact that they had missed him. She noted he was still in uniform, probably having come strait from what ever assignment had delayed his visit. She could see the mixed looks on both her parents faces, it had been a long year and he had been farther from home than ever this last time. Both of them were proud, scared, angry, and ecstatic to see him all at the same time.

Her mother was the first to snap out of the staring contest and walked towards him, her dad a second later. All three embraced one another in a silent hug for a long few moments. After the tender part was done and she could her muttered greetings, Krista decided it was safe to take another photo. Not to be left out she went over as well and with a smile joined in, crying and laughing at the same time with the rest of her family. It was almost perfect, only one was missing, but then it had been planned rather suddenly. She didn't care though, she was hugging her brother, not talking to the holo avatar she used to record and get messages from him on. The gathering was soon interrupted by a loud whinny from the appaloosa again as he resumed pawing the ground, earning a laugh form all of the family.

"I didn't forget about ya bud!" He brother said as they let go of their hugs. He strode over and started petting the horse, whose nickering and nuzzling made her parents laugh again. They may not have approved of his horse when their children brought the poor thing home one stormy night. They did approve of how much the horse meant to their son however, and that made the appy as welcome to the heard as any other.

"It never fails to amaze me how that dumb horse can suddenly be so smart. I'm surprised he remembers you." Was her fathers eventual comment as her brother stepped away form the horse. She had to admit, she agreed. Patches, as her brother had named the appaloosa, wasn't exactly a bright horse. He could barely be ridden or trained, but for her brother, he was the best horse on the place. Obeying every command, every movement, the two were indeed a matched pair. She found working with Patches difficult at best, but so her brother could at least have some connection to home she had worked hard on her project to make the holo horse as perfect as possible.

'Well someone around here has to like me" was her brothers reply.

"Like I said...Dumb horse." was her fathers retort, he was smiling though. It was the nature of the family, they would tease each other when it was to awkward to speak from the heart. She was just as guilty she imagined, but between her dad and brother it was always amusing.

"How long are you home?" her mother asked. She hated the idea of the question but, it was practical. Her parents would want to be sure the most was made of the time. She felt better about the surprise now, she knew her parents didn't hate him for his choice, but she did fear that their unhappiness with it would over power seeing him.

"A few days. I figure my new XO can handle getting the crew back in order with out me for a bit." He replied. He was smiling and she had to admit, even if for a day it was good to see him home. The next day was a blur as the family traded stories of what had been going on in their lives. Her brother didn't share many stories of his adventures as she hopped, but what he did tell had everyone's attention. Especially the battle at the alien home-world to end the war in the Delta Quadrant. It was great to have him back and she couldn't wait for a chance to ride together again.

The next day was perfect nearly all the way through. The family had gone for a ride, showing her brother the new heard, how large it had grown, and the prizes they had won. Krista was proud of her trophy collection and made a point to take her brother's medal and place it on the trophy rack in the den of the house. As she and her mom were making dinner the second night she could hear her brother and dad chatting on the back porch and was about to join them when she heard a beep. She didn't know the sound, but her brother must have for the conversation outside stopped.

Her brother suddenly came in the back door followed close by dad, her brother went to the office and her dad to the den, turning on the news. She saw the horrid images as a news anchor was commenting about the evacuation of a colony, she didn't catch the name. Starfleet officers could be seen moving in the background, carrying weapons, there were explosions, and the sounds of weapons fire. She could only stare at the screen, her attention broken by the sound of her mom speaking to her brother. She didn't hear him come out of the office, didn't notice she had sat down, or that she had been looking at the screen for so long. It must have been a long time. Her brother was back in his uniform, her mom giving him a hug and dad standing there not sure what to say or do.

He stepped over to her and she could only silently stand and hug him. The news had just reported that the Starfleet ships had fallen back, a starbase destroyed and colonies lost. War had come to the door step of the Federation, and her brother was once again going to be in the midst of it. She hated him and loved him at that moment, for exactly that reason. He would step into harms way to protect. It was what he was good at, more than anything he had done, he was a guardian. She was numb and remained on the porch as her brother got into his runabout transport and flew into the darkness. Even after she could no longer see the light of his craft she still continued to stare. She didnt remember really talking to him, only one sentence stuck in her mind.

"They have issued an 'Emergency recall' to all officers" she knew there was more said between them, but for some reason that was all that stood there. One word about the others, she didn't know why exactly but couldn't help it. She hopped it wouldn't be the last thing she ever heard form him. She was sure he had promised he'd come home again. He always kept his promises to her, bu that word, above the others haunted her.