A Walk in the Park

This was originally going to be forum RP, however due to logistics I am turning this into a story. This is still written by both myself and Moonangel even though I am posting everything.

“Vausse to Captain Elan. We arrived.”

Kero was sitting in her ready room, studying a fee PADDs when the comm came in. She sat back and, relaxed, she tapped her badge, “Thank you Commander, I’ll be on my way.”

The half-Klingon placed her PADD on desk in front of her, next to a neat stash of other PADDs. She stood up and made her way on the Bridge.

She scouted around until her eyes zoned onto her XO.

“The planet is Minshara class, Captain. No humanoid life forms that we can detect but a lot of vegetation and animals.” Luthien was accustomed to Kero’s looks and mannerisms and had no problem fighting out what information she wanted and offered it promptly.

Kero nodded, “On screen.” She said turning her head towards it.

An image of a blue and green planet appeared. Clouds almost imperceptibly swirling along the atmosphere, showing an active and healthy weather system.

“I guess this one will be literally a stroll in the park.” Kero smiled a little. After a pause she turned to her First Officer. “Commander assemble and lead the away party, get our new botanist on it, she’ll have a field day.”

The Captain looked back at the screen. Something was amusing to her, perhaps about her later statement, as her light smirk showed.

“Those puns, Captain…” The XO retorted.

Kero turned back to Luthien once again, “Feel free to file a formal complaint, but until then, get to work Commander.” Her tone was playful.

Vausse shook her head and tapped the console on the armchair of her seat, sending out the mission call to Lt Anderson and three other Science Officers.

In a science lab a good few decks below the ship's botanist Lieutenant Alicia Andersson was studying a micro-cellular image of some plant cells with extraordinary focus. Her gaze lost in her work she reached out idly for a PADD but forgetting her surroundings for a moment met only thin air. Once her mind could be diverted from chloroplasts for a moment she realised this was because her workplace on the Troi was curved, rather than flat as it had been on her previous ship. The adjustments between postings had been many and varied and were by no means complete. In this case she was now dating the ship's captain as well, a fact which brought its own set of adjustments. Despite all this Alicia was quite proud of how well she had coped so far. Her pale white hand, made even more white by the artificial light of the lab eventually fell on the PADD and she transferred the scan results and images to it for consideration at a later time, probably in their quarters that evening, presuming she wasn't too distracted.

The internal communication chime sounded and Alicia looked up to the panel above her workstation.

"Bridge to Lieutenant Andersson." It was the computer that spoke to her. Alicia furrowed her brow with curiosity.

"This is Andersson, go ahead." Her slight Swedish accent cut through the long-standing quiet of the lab. The computer processed her voice.

"Voice print confirmed. Lieutenant Junior Grade Andersson, Alicia. New away mission directive. Please report to transporter room one with the following equipment immediately." The screen showed her a brief overview of the planet, the role she was expected to fulfil on this mission and what she would be required to take with her, in this case just a tricorder and basic fields set. Alicia moved immediately, sweeping away the white hair that fell in front of her face when she turned and crossed to a locker, removing a tricorder and case which she attached to her belt and a pre-packed bag which she slung across her chest. Back at her station she had returned all the equipment and samples to their proper places within a couple of minutes and she thumbed a control on the computer screen giving her access to the camera, effectively a mirror. She checked her white brows and eyelashes - still good from that morning, marked in with blonde eyebrow pencil and black mascara respectively giving her albino colouring a more 'normal' slant. She slipped a blonde-coloured hair band from her wrist and shook her hair back, pulling it into a high ponytail. As a final step she gave her hands, neck and face a quick buzz-over with a small medical device designed to impart some temporary UV-protection. With a sense of excitement in her chest she finally left the lab, turning right toward the turbo lift.

Vausse awaited the 3 crew in the transporter room. Alicia was the first to arrive and the other two scientists weren't far behind. She greeted them all with a smile.

While Kero was certainly not cold with her crew and liked a good joke, she also kept some distance from them. Luthien showed a softer side, perhaps due to her previous role as Counselor on the USS Guardian. Once everyone took position on the transporter pad, each one with their science kits, the XO looked at the transporter chief and nodded. The beaming sequence was initiated soon after.

As they rematerialised, they were greeted by a lush scenery with bright colours. The air felt clean and fresh, it was sunny and bright, and warm, around 22 degrees Celsius. The rees resembled palms somewhat and the breeze caressed their leaves. The sound of waves crashing lazily on the beach could be heard – the sea wasn't far.

“Alright.” Luthien began. “Knock yourselves out.”
Alicia absorbed the view in every direction around her, beaming at the incredible assortment of flora, most of which were varying and vivid shades of blue. All Minshara class planets varied somewhat in appearance of course but most developed along similar lines, often resulting in an M-class staple of green foliage and blue skies. She looked up towards the sun, larger and somehow more sinister than Earth's, keeping watch over this planet with a menacing orange fire. In the end it was that sun that had given rise to such an unusual habitat. Her short reverie was soon broken and realising what she had come for she removed her tricorder from its place on her belt and began some initial scans, moving towards the tree line and the gentle hiss of the sea. The beeps and trills of her instrument were markedly alien in an environment such as this. Alicia's scans confirmed there were no animals or insects, no moving creatures at all, only fairly basic plant life, similar to prehistoric earth's in all but colour. She conducted a quick sweep of the immediate area, mentally cataloguing samples but would be of interest. As she walked a hint of red hit her shimmering grey eyes from a gap in the dense canopy of blue leaves. She moved towards it, curious and ducked under the low branches.

Away missions were Alicia's very favourite part of her job in Starfleet. While research was essential, sometimes fun and almost certainly challenging she secretly often wanted to leave the machinery and harsh light of a starship and quite literally go back to her roots. Her love of plants had grown in her early teens, tending and cultivating the family garden was something she could do quite easily and safely and in doing so she didn't need to see more than a few feet in front of her, quite useful as she couldn't, even if she had wanted to. As was true with most Albinos Alicia suffered with Nystagmus, a condition that seriously affected her eyesight, characterised externally by her pale grey eyes continually darting from left to right. At the age of twenty-seven and now on her fourth optical implant Alicia had brought her love of plants with her to Starfleet and was always happiest out of doors.

In Alicia's experience as a Starfleet Science Officer thus far most away missions had fallen into one of two categories. The first visiting colonies, generally Federation in origin and involved assessing crops alongside the local flora and fauna and in doing so helping the colonists achieve greater yields or overcome problems they had encountered with the habitat. The second type, planetary survey, was rarer but so much more rewarding. A rush of joy filled her chest as she moved under the canopy of the trees and discovered another new world, a cocoon of giant blue leaves, interspersed with tiny spots of sky that lit the jungle floor with shafts of white light. Her eyes quickly adjusted to the gloom and as her optical implant caught up her vision was filled with glorious red courtesy of a dense large-leaved plant that covered the ground like a carpet of crimson and green. She knelt down, trying studiously to avoid damaging her new friends and gently caressed one of the large red leaves with a pale hand, savouring the dense rubbery feel of it. This was the second kind of away mission and as it happened was the most amazing and beautiful place she had ever seen.

"Quite something, isn't it, Lieutenant?" Commander Vausse stood in the gap Alicia had just passed through, silhouetted by the bright sunlight outside.

"I have never seen anything quite like this…" the botanist admitted, running a more detailed scan on one of the short red plants in front of her.

Vausse smiled, although Alicia couldn't see her, as she was too busy looking at the bright colours of the flora. The idea that the Lieutenant would get so engrossed by plants made her smirk a little too. She has never been a big green thumb person herself, although she did respect all life. Animal, plant and otherwise.

The Betazoid took a few steps and stopped next to Alicia.

“While we are here, how are you finding the ship, Lieutenant?”

Alicia looked up at her for a moment.

"Ja I like it!" She started enthusiastically, turning back to her scans as she spoke. "Being on a research vessel, all the other scientists around me is great! I felt a little… redundant on the carrier.” She looked up again. “That was all about the Fighters of course" she added, standing carefully, avoiding the low branches about them.

“I am glad to hear that you feel in your element here.” Vausse took a moment to study Alicia while she took her scans. The Lieutenant did respond to her very general question in a very general way. Maybe she should have been more specific. The XO decided to grab the bull by the horns. “What about Captain Elan? How do you feel serving aboard a ship where she is your CO?” She paused. “I am not asking on her behalf, by the way.”

They exchanged a look, making eye contact for a second. Alicia quickly looked back to the screen of her tricorder.

"I don't have much experience of her as a captain… Yet." She replied slowly considering this potentially loaded question. After a few moments she turned and looked at the commander again, this time with slightly more resolve. "I am being very careful. I get very excited sometimes and she knows that. So I keep things separated. Inside the quarters she is my girlfriend, outside she is the Captain. So far I do okay" she finished with a smile.

The Betazoid nodded once. “How is the rest of the crew behaving?”

Alicia pursed her lips, her face ghostly under the pale blue light of the canopy above.

"I didn't notice any pointing or whispering if that's what you mean. I think they are professional, this isn't high school. Thankfully."

“I think if it were, the Captain would send a few back to the Academy.” Luthien chuckled. “I’ll let you get on with your samples.” The XO scoured the scenery with her eyes. She couldn’t deny it was very pleasant. She took a deep breath and proceeded back out to check on the other scientists.

To be continued