USS Healy

What's this then

Posted on 07 Feb 2019 @ 5:42pm by Lieutenant Kesari Lor & Captain Jason Wilcox

Mission: Mission 0: The Healy Returns
Location: Science section
Timeline: 21 April, 2395 - 1452 Hours

Having found some time in his busy schedule, Jason decided to pay a visit to his science department. He had received word from some of his officers that there was a long-running experiment, and that his chief science officer hadn't informed him of. So armed with hot coffee in his mug he stepped into the department, and into chaos.

It's not that Lieutenant Lor was a disorganized person—on the contrary, she had a penchant for meticulous spaces—but chaos seemed to follow in her wake. In this case, a large, purple mold had exploded out of its sample dish and was overtaking a corner of Lab 3. Kesari—clad in her lab coat and a mask covering her mouth—was attempting to stanch the experiment's growth by spraying its tendrils with a freezing agent.

"Quick, put a mask on!" she told the person in her peripheral vision.

For a long moment Jason looked at his coffee, then sighed and put it away on a table. Next to it was one such mask to put on. With raised eyebrows he studied the rapidly expanding fuzzy purple goop and stepped next to the chief science officer. "It seems this is a bad time, lieutenant?" he asked casually.

"No, sir," Kesari stated, concentrating on the growing mold problem. "This should be handled in five... four..." Each of the mass' arms began to slow their bloom. "Three... two..." The crystalization spread across its extremities, all the way up to its tips. "One." She shut off the flow from the canister she held then turned to face the comman– captain.

"No drinks in the labs," she told him, voice still muffled by mask. "How may I help you?"

Jason gave his coffee a last forlorn glance before putting it in a replicator. Walking back allowed Jason to strip off his mask. "It has been quite some time since I've gotten an update on anything but the best coffee replicators."

"You didn't receive my reports on the comet flyby or collection probes?" She crossed her arms and frowned, although her mask hid the downward turn of her mouth. "Perhaps they're being handled by Commander Burke. But this—" She turned and gestured to the frozen purple mass. "This was from one of the samples from the surface. It has a very curious reaction to heat."

"Those I did receive, I was more thinking about those rumoured experiments I overhear people talking about in the lounge. In Lab 2 I believe?" Jason asked with the curious intonation he often used.

"Rumored experiments?" Kesari laughed. "The gossip must be pretty bad on this ship if people are talking about the labs."

With a nod to the closed door of the second lab Jason asked "I take it we can have a tour then?"

"Sure!" she answered, perhaps a little excitedly. She deposited her lab coat and face mask in a nearby refresher and escorted Wilcox out and around the corner to Lab 2. "I can always clean up mold later."

Inside, two rows of transparent enclosures glowed. Various plants grew beneath their lights, including what appeared to be Venus fly traps and common tomatoes.

"Not what I expected... Any particular reason for the botany experiment?" The captain asked curiously.

"Do remember the survey we did on Dalen III when we passed through that system?" Kesari asked as she peered into one of the greenhouses. Without waiting for an answer, she continued, "We found a species I'd categorize in the lumbricidae genus. The flora growing in soil inhabited by them was exceptionally fertile, and a hypothesis formed that—in addition to providing aeration, of course—amino acids excreted by the creatures enhance plant growth and development."

The dirt shifted inside the greenhouse as something wriggled up to the surface. It was a long, violet worm that glistened with slime. "I wanted to test this hypothesis on a handful plants common to the Federation. The next stage would be to develop a compound from the excrement for use in an aeroponic context."

Suddenly, she popped upright and grinned at Wilcox. "Do you want to hold one?"

Jason shook his head and smiled, "No, I'd rather not have to run my hands through an decontamination cycle. Sensitive skin and all." He squatted down on eye level with the worm. "Do these little worms form any health risks?"

"Well, sure, there's the potential of allergic reaction to any of the enzymes it produces," she explained, "but the risk is minimal." Kesari watched him as he focused on the squirming invertebrate. "Access to this project has been restricted to limit the unintended introduction of outside variables. Ensigns Gibson and Lowe have been assisting me."

Jason gave the worms another long glance. "Could you try growing a sample or two with Terran grapes? We always had some difficulties getting the soil the right acidity. I'd love to see how they respond to this little critter."

Tapping her index finger against her lower lip, she considered the request. Grapes were complicated, but Kesari was also motivated to appease the captain. She recalled their first meeting by that one replicator where they had chatted through their morning coffee about viticulture and his home vineyard. They never did have that wine.

"If we rearrange the greenhouses, I think we could set up a few for grapes," she finally stated, thinking it through. "Vines typically need at least 1.83 meters for growth, and support structures are easily replicated..." She wandered away to pick up a PADD from a nearby table and started to make notes, murmuring to herself. "Would you want conditions adjusted for Alpha Centauri tilt and rotation?"

The smile on Jason's face widened and somehow became more genuine, "That's an excellent idea lieutenant." Then his combadge chirped, and his smile transformed back into his professional smile. "Keep me appraised." And with a final nod he stepped out of the science lab and into the hallways of the Healy.

Kesari's own smile faded as Wilcox stepped out of her lab. As his footsteps faded, she moved to one of the greenhouses and tapped a sequence into a panel on its side. The rebutia muscula residing inside shimmered away and was replaced by a finely built array generating a containment bubble. Within the bubble, a point of light sparkled.

"Furunda Fernando..." she whispered, setting her hand against the glass. Its warmth radiated through her chilly Trill fingers. "I'm coming for you."