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Touching Grass

Posted on Sun Apr 16th, 2023 @ 10:41pm by Ensign Mei Ratthi
Edited on on Sun Apr 23rd, 2023 @ 8:29pm

Mission: On the Road Again
Location: Arboretum, Deck 2
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 1900

[Deck 2]
[MD 1: 1900 Hours]

She was getting a sunburn. A strange thing to get on board a spaceship, but one couldn’t spend an hour sitting in a room specifically designed to imitate a planetary environment without soaking up some UV rays along with the fresh air.

Mei could already feel the tip of her nose tingling. She’d been debating whether or not to get up, go to the replicator, and request some sunblock for a while, but the urge to prevent such a minor injury was losing to the urge to just sit and enjoy the feeling of grass beneath her and warm, if simulated, sunlight above. It was nice. A real change from the moon they’d escaped a few hours ago, with its weird light, weirder dust, and– well, she didn’t want to think about what else

But the tingling feeling on the tip of her nose was getting urgent, and her cheeks were starting to burn, too. With a sigh, she climbed to her feet and trudged over to the replicator, giving the bio-sciences officer running an experiment a faint and unconvincing smile as she slipped past him with a vague apology. “Computer, one tube of sunblock. For human skin.”

The replicator’s response was not as swift as usual, and when her request finally shimmered into existence, it was a small spray bottle instead of the tube of sun cream she’d expected. “That isn’t what I ordered. This is,” she picked up the bottle, “antihistamine spray?” She looked up at the bio-sciences officer with a confused look.

He shrugged. “It’s been doing that for a while. System updates, I think. It took me six tries and ten minutes to get the muffin I requested earlier. Nothing like getting an accidental plate of gagh to ruin your day,” he said, shuddering. “Hopefully it’ll be done soon.”

“Yeah,” Mei said faintly. She bit her lip, gripping the bottle tightly as she turned away to flop back down on the patch of grass she’d claimed earlier. It would have been wiser if she’d moved a meter or so to her left to sit under the shade of a little tree, but it was just a little bit of sunburn to worry about. Not a ripped-up face or a horribly snapped ankle.

A panther-creature wasn’t about to rip her head off, or anything.

It was a good thing the antihistamine was in a sturdy bottle. As tight as her grip had gotten on it, a flimsier material would have crumpled or broken, and she was certain that Dr. Wang would not have been thrilled to deal with her cut hand on top of everything else he had to worry about.

But dealing with both a cut hand and the doctor’s disapproval would still be better than being devoured by carnivores on an alien moon.

Would she ever get the memories of that out of her head? She’d done everything she could think of so far, and her mind kept sliding back to the moment Booth had burst through the door with that creature behind him, and then to the moment when the creature had torn him apart. It kept replaying in her head like a broken holo-novel. And the sound of it . . .

Mei sucked in a breath and swallowed. That wet, ripping sound kept replaying in her head, too. She’d almost managed to banish it, but the earlier mention of gagh made it come back in full force. She gripped the bottle harder, closed her eyes, and made herself breathe evenly through her nose.

“Are you okay?”

She gasped and looked up, wide-eyed, at the bio-sciences officer. “What?”

“Are you okay? You look a little green. Do you need anything?”

“No,” Mei managed to say. “I’m okay. Just needed some air.”

He raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Sure you do.” He folded his arms and waited for a while, but Mei held her tongue. More to the point, she was biting her tongue because she didn’t want to risk throwing up on the guy’s shoes. He finally sighed. “Fine, then. I’m heading back to the lab in a few minutes, so if you need anything before then, just say something. And remember that the computer’s running slow right now.”

“Yeah, I know,” Mei managed, forcing herself to smile up at him though he gave her a doubtful look before he went back to his plants, then left as promised a few minutes later leaving her alone with her thoughts and few ways to distract herself. She stared down at the little bottle, then let it fall into the grass. She leaned forward and buried her face in her hands, breathing deeply to keep herself from sobbing or throwing up- she couldn’t tell which.

She should have gotten up and gone back to her quarters to get some rest, or to Debbie’s to find a distraction, or to the lab to start downloading the data from her tricorder to the main computer. Sitting alone in the arboretum and soaking up the artificial sunlight wasn’t going to get her anything but a sunburn. But it was better than being eaten by animals on an alien moon.


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