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Life in the Lab

Posted on Wed Jul 7th, 2021 @ 9:57pm by Andrew Munro & Ensign Ezra Gonzalez & Ensign Brian Davies

Mission: The Place of Skulls
Location: USS Sojourner, Bio Lab
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1147

[USS Sojourner]
[Bio Lab]
[1147 Hours]

It hadn't exactly been the busiest of days in the Bio Lab. With the Sojourner still days away from Klingon space and no stops planned en route, there wasn't a lot to do beyond setting up the lab and getting settled into personal workstations. Even so, Ensign Brian Davies -- the ship's resident entomologist -- tried to find creative ways to keep himself occupied. Sitting in Bay 2, the young man had already decorated his personal space and had moved on to reviewing his catalogue of insect specimens.

Thanks to the incredible technology baked into the Sojourner, Davies' entire collection of living bugs was kept suspended in transporter stasis, stored within a recycling pattern buffer that would keep the specimens alive as long as there was power to keep the system going. Given the special needs of his work, the young entomologist had been given dispensation to hook up various batteries that siphoned off spare power from the Sojourner. Theoretically, this would ensure his specimens were kept alive should the ship lose power for some reason.

As others worked around him in the lab, Davies flicked through the readouts emanating from his console. Golden, glowing wireframe lines hovered in mid-air, depicting each insect in turn as Brian cycled through his specimen listing. Finally settling on one in particular, the Ensign manipulated the holographic controls that would bring the insect out of transporter storage and materialize it in a waiting tank, sealed for the protection of all. In a dizzying display of golden sprites, the chosen specimen took shape, solidifying into the form of a very hairy tarantula.

Opening the lid to the tank, Brian lowered his hand inside and, when he withdrew it, the spider was gently held in his palm. "Well hello there, Gloria," he smiled at the arachnid, lowering her so that she might explore her new surroundings. A quick tap-tap-tap materialized something else: a tiny container of some kind of jaundiced-looking jelly. Flicking open the lid, Davies slid the little container over towards the tarantula, who immediately turned to begin feasting on the concoction inside. "Someone's hungry today," the man smiled, watching his little Gloria gorge herself on the nutrient suspension.

Andrew sighed and rubbed his eyes as he looked up from the console in Bay 3. He didn't have any work of his own to do and had been reviewing research papers to make himself useful. The last page he read hadn't seemed to register in his mind, even after attempting to read it a second and then a third time, so he decided that a break from reading was in order.

A glance over to bay 2 revealed that there was only one person there even though Andrew was sure that he heard Davies talking to someone. The surface that Davies was looking towards held the solution to that particular mystery. It was a bug. Of course, he'd be talking to a bug. A shiver ran down his spine as he realised that the bug was a spider. Sure, they could be fascinating, but there was something so freakishly alien about the look of arachnids that always made Andrew uncomfortable. He took a moment to reflect on how strange it was that he'd feel more comfortable with so many species that were actually alien than a group of creatures from the same planet as him. Watching the chelicerae tear through some kind of food goop, he decided against asking Davies if he needed help with anything.

At that moment, Ezra shuffled in, PADD in one hand and coffee mug in the other. As he looked up from the scrolling text to speak, he caught sight of the spider.

"Hey, can I ask you guys some--gah!" he yelped, dropping his PADD and nearly dropping his coffee. "Is--is that real?"

Noting the looks from the others, he quickly added, "Sorry, I grew up on Mars and I don't think there were very many spiders there. At least not any that weren't holograms or museum pieces." After a pause, "Ezra Gonzalez, social sciences."

The clattering PADD seemed to scare the hell out of Gloria, whose fuzzy legs trundled her up Davies' left sleeve in a hurry. She rested on the man's shoulder, eight shiny eyes trembling as they stared at the source of the commotion. The hairs covering her segmented body rose, waving slightly in the air currents crossing the room as her body shook from fear. Reaching up, Brian did his best to calm the spider, running an affectionate finger down the top of her midsection -- the gentle petting seemed to do the trick given the ceasing of Gloria's shudders.

"Brian Davies, entomologist. Nice to meet you, Ezra," the older man smiled. "Careful with that PADD, eh? Gloria's a bit of a fraidy cat," he said, gesturing towards the tarantula with a nod of his head. "And yeah, she's 100% real. An Andorian Cave Tarantula: Andoria Thereaphosa Caverna," he rattled off the official latin designation. "You can pet her if you want?" Davies' smile widened as he spied Munro watching the exchange from the bay across from his. "She won't bite unless heavily provoked. The species is actually quite rare but very docile," he said, delightedness shining in his eyes. He clearly loved talking about his specimens. "She's helping me to research a new type of liquid polymer based on her webbing."

Andrew made his way closer to the pair to greet the new arrival, keeping a noticeable distance between himself and Gloria. "Andrew Munro, biologist," he directed at Ezra. "Sorry I didn't introduce myself at the luau on Risa, but I got the feeling that you already had your fill of attention that evening. Congratulations on the promotion, by the way."

"Um, thank you," said Ezra, stooping to pick up his PADD. "It still doesn't really feel real. And, uh, sorry...Gloria. Didn't mean to scare you." He tapped a couple of buttons on the device to recalibrate, then returned to what he had started to say.

"So, I wanted to ask something. I'm working on putting together a datafile on the Chameloids, and I'm wanting to gather as much information as I can to help build the puzzle. I don't know who'll be on the away team when we get there, but I'd appreciate as much information on the planet as you can give me. I'm talking things that might make it habitable or strategic or important in some way. Wildlife, livestock, ecosystems, materials they could export or trade with, things like that. Pretty much anything you can find that might make it valuable to a humanoid species...or valuable enough that the Klingons might try to take it from them. Anything of that sort would be helpful, even if there isn't much to find."

"I mean, I'm happy to beam down and start scanning and cataloguing, if that's what you mean," Davies said, nudging Gloria back towards her little tray of goop. The spider again began to gorge herself on the nutrient solution as her handler spoke further. "Long range scans haven't given us a whole lot to work with yet, though, beyond the high level stuff. Class M planet, mostly jungle, supports no end of fauna and flora. Can you imagine all the insect species there we've never seen before?" The man's eyes positively glowed as he considered the possibilities. "Andrew," Brian turned to the biologist, "was there anything on the initial scans that particularly grabbed your interest?"

"Not yet," Andrew sighed. He wished he could get a head start on the data they'd collect form the planet. Davies was right about the planet being bound to harbour a myriad of new species and he doubted that they'd be hanging around long enough to get more than a glimpse of them. "We can expect fairly dense vegetation, but even that's little more than an assumption this far out." He scratched his head in thought. "It may simply just be a good pace to hide." Looking back towards Ezra, he added "I'll take another look once more detailed scans come in."

Ezra's PADD chirped and chimed as he took notes, muttering "mostly jungle," "assumed dense vegetation," and "good place to hide?" under his breath as he did so.

"As I said," he intoned, still typing, "every little bit helps." He turned on his heels and started for the door, eyes still glued to his device. He tossed a half-committed "thank you" over his shoulder on his way out.

Davies watched the younger man go and then quirked an eyebrow at Munro. "Guess we served our purpose," he chuckled lightly in response to Ezra's sudden departure. Turning his eyes back to Gloria, he said, "Alright little one, hate to do it but I think you're freaking our friend over here out." Andrew hadn't said as much but Brian noticed how the man kept his distance. "Back into transporter stasis you go." With the gentle guiding of his hand, he herded the large spider back into her enclosure and then tap-tap-tapped the controls of the mini-transporter unit. Gloria and her cage disappeared in a haze of golden sparkles.

"Feel like grabbing some lunch? The mess hall on this ship isn't the most exciting," Brian began, "but it'll do in a pinch. Especially since it's just down the hall," he offered Andrew a warm smile. "Maybe we can chat a little bit about our plans once we reach the planet? If we get the chance, I bet we'd make a pretty great team down there." He rose from his chair, grabbing a coffee tumbler from his desk as Brian made his way towards the door. "Should probably snag a refill while I'm at it," he gestured with his thermos.

"Yeah, I could eat," Andrew agreed. He headed back to the console he had been working at and closed the open files before joining Davies at the door to the lab. "Just tell me they have something better than that nutrient suspension."

=/\= A joint post by... =/\=

Ensign Brian Davies (Linked to Kodak)
Science Officer (Entomology)
USS Sojourner


Doctor Andrew Munro
Civilian Biologist
USS Sojourner


Ensign Ezra Gonzalez
Science Officer (Archaeology and Anthropology)
USS Sojourner


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