Pug and Plants
Location: USS Nightingale | Deck 3 | Arboretum
The USS Nightingale was a rather large starship, with a dome-shaped structure to it rather than a saucer. It was a distinguishable trait of the Olympic class starships. Dr. Oskar Ruseka was on a small trek through the seventh deck of the Nightingale with a final destination of the arboretum on deck three via the turbolift. He would have a small journey through corridors, a few rights and a few lefts after some stretches of straight shots, but eventually, he would start passing medical laboratories, science laboratories, and the occasional storage room before reaching the end of the corridor he wanted with a turbolift. He summoned it and when it arrived, the doors slid open with nobody aboard the lift.
"Deck three. Arboretum, please" the silver-haired strong-jawed Toxicologist said in the empty turbolift. He was a polite man who had more respect for things that were not sentient than others tended to. They stepped onto turbolifts such as the one Oskar was using without a second or concern for the starship's computer, and why should they? It responded to inquiries and orders. It processed these commands because it was programmed to do so; However, Oskar saw the breadcrumbs of the future before his very eyes. He had lived through almost half a century of technological advancements. Physicians were not quite being replaced by holograms, but programs such as the EMH could function short term in emergency situations. The Federation and Starfleet had been slowly implementing LMHs on some experimental starships for long term uses. They may not have quite been ready to slap a hologram onto a starship as its Chief of Medicine, but the technology was on the horizon.
His politeness may have been seen as unnecessarily extra by shipmates, but they would eventually come to accept him and all his quirks. He was stationed aboard the USS Nightingale now and so long as the starship sailed through the stars, he would be there albeit Starfleet Command could transfer him elsewhere, but he had no plans on leaving the starship. This was going to be more than a brief posting for him. Oskar fully intended to make the USS Nightingale his last. Now, he wasn't thinking within the next few years; On the contrary, Oskar had a dozen or so years left in him and he was more than willing to give those years to the Nightingale Starfleet Command willing.
The starship's computer did not respond verbally to his kindness. There was no gratitude expressed or pleasant conversation with the computer. It simply accepted his command and took him up to deck three. One day though he thought. One day the starship's computer would probably be as sophisticated as an android or a well-programmed hologram with an added personality. A starship's computer may even be replaced with some sort of Artificial Intelligence program and be able to manifest itself into isomorphic form, an avatar of sorts. Why not? he pondered to himself. It would be nice to put a face to the starship's computer and one day perhaps one day soon that would be a reality. One individual's fantasy or science fiction is another individual's science-based reality.
Oskar's mind was always busy. He was more than just a daydreamer because his daydreaming was rarely fantastical. They were fantasies grounded in science, facts, and logic. He was always thinking ten moves ahead which was how he would play chess. It worked in his favor more often than it worked against him yet sometimes, it also left him wide open for a more immediate attack and though the attack from his opponent had little long term payoff, it would cause Oskar to stress over the analytic of why someone would choose to make such as move. This was what caused him to suffer losses.
The sudden jolting forward when the turbolift came to it's requested stop as smoothly as it could shake Oskar from further daydreaming. He took a quick yet prideful stroll through the corridors, passing some quarters, holodecks, and a gymnasium along the way. When he reached the arboretum, he readjusted the shoulder strap to the case he was carrying and fiddled with the contents of his right pocket on his white laboratory coat. The doors to the arboretum opened and it was lush and green as one would expect from a starship the size of the Nightingale. A warmth radiated when he crossed the threshold, entering the arboretum. A few dozen aromas hit him in waves and sometimes in unison as he passed by various trees, bushes, and plants. The different plots and gardens were strategically planted and methodically taken care of. Oskar would find his way to a vacant plot with soil that was ready for planting.
He crouched down at the plot of land and what he had fiddled around within his pocket had been a dozen seeds. One by one he carefully planted the seeds to the depth that they needed to be. He spread them out in the necessary distance from one another and began to cover them with the soil. They would then need to be watered and appropriately and monitored for weeks to come. He took off the tricorder that has been holstered to his waist and began taking some readings to ensure that the soil was of good composition and fertility for what he had just planted. The results of his initial scan were promising, but he was cautiously optimistic for various reasons.
He would have to collect some soil samples and take them back to his lab aboard the Nightingale and run some more in-depth tests. Oskar was hoping to use his chemistry background to formulate a fertilizer that would help his plants grow as naturally as possible, but with some scientific intervention. He was collecting the soil samples when had an unnerving feeling that he was being watched. He looked in front of him and to his left. Then, to his right. There was nobody there within his immediate proximity; However, from behind he felt the smallest touch of two feet on his lower back. "What in the Dickens?" he muttered to himself as he slowly rose back upright.
When he looked towards his feet he saw a little creature he was familiar with. A dog. There was a dog in the arboretum and more precisely a dog that was in his plot of land. The dog was a sort of oatmeal color, beige with a dark smushed face. He knew the breed from its Earth origins and distinctive features. "Hei!" he called out to the pug. He was concerned that the pug would undo the work he had just done by digging up the seeds or worse, urinate on the soil. "Don't lift that leg boy...at least I think you are a boy, but just don't. Go...go on go off onto the grass now" he said gently using his foot on to pug's butt to nudge him out of the plot of land.
The pug resisted the nudge from the large boot, and sat. He looked up, his head tilted, his dark eyes fixated on the man. He then yawned, snorted, and tilted his head to the other side, his curiosity clearly piqued. It was almost as if the dog and tall human were in a standoff with each other. The pug's curled tail thumped against the soil, and after a moment his tongue hung out as he panted. When his tongue hung out, an almost mischievous smile played on the pug's smushed snout. He lifted himself up off his haunches, lifted a leg and then whizzed, never losing eye contact with the human. Just as he finished, he turned his head at the familiar call of his name.
"Otis? Otis, where are you buddy? If you are hiding come on out, it is time to go home."
The pug instead sat back down, and once again lifted his gaze toward the unfamiliar human, defying his owner's call.
Oskar looked at the stubborn little pug and the Toxicologist shook his head. "You are a stubborn a little thing, but awfully cute aren't you?" he said addressing the pug who was apparently named Otis. At least that was what the evidence was pointing towards. "Otis" said Oskar looking to see the reaction from the pug. Though the pug did not budge, he did seem to perk up a bit when the name 'Otis' was called.
I thought so the older man thought to himself with a smirk. "I think you have someone looking for you, little guy. You really shouldn't be worrying him" Oskar said as he crouched down and scooped the dog up into his arms. "Someone looking for a pug?" Oskar called out. "He's over here in the gardens" added Oskar.
Kiernan held Otis' leash in one hand and slipped his journal back into his back pocket. He stopped and looked to see where the voice was coming from and started to move toward the garden area. Typically, Otis would eventually tire out and lay by him as he sat and wrote. However, the pug wandered off and somehow Kiernan had missed that. I was too lost in my own thoughts, he berated himself. The arboretum wasn't huge by any means, but Otis was only three and small for his age, in short the pug could have easily gotten lost amount the plants and flowers.
Just before he reached where Otis was, Kiernan stopped short when he saw the man who was holding Otis. He felt his stomach tie up in a knot and his heart pitter patter. It wasn't often he felt this feeling, but he did and immediately felt himself get nervous. The palm holding the leash instantly got sweaty so he took the leash in his other hand and wiped the sweat against the thigh of his denim pants. He cleared his throat and started forward again, all the while chanting, play it cool, Kier, play it cool, over and over in his hand.
"There you are," Kiernan said, he made brief eye contact with the taller man before turning his attention to Otis. He stood there a moment, trying not to stare, before he reached for the pug. "I'm... I'm sorry." He took Otis into his arms and cuddled the pug for a moment. "He knows not to wander off, but he is a curious sort..." Stop talking, stop talking, stop talking... Kiernan set Otis down and clipped the leash to the harness.
Otis turned his attention back to the taller man, his tongue hanging out and what passed for a smile was on mouth.
"Anyway...." echoed the older man. Oskar smiled subtlety at Otis the pug and then at the other man. "You need not apologize for this little guy wandering off. I'm sure he is usually well behaved, but that curiosity was just too much and he felt the need to investigate" commented Oskar gently crouching down and scratching the pug behind his ears. Looking up at the younger man, Oskar gestured to the garden of dirt. "I think he was just a little curious as to what I was doing. He's a quiet little guy too...snuck right up behind me."
That was one thing about Otis, was he was stealthy when he wanted to be, especially when it came to something he shouldn't be doing. Kiernan swore his small dog was smarter than most dogs. However, that was probably dog dad pride talking. His attention swung to the area of dark soil. "Or maybe he was curious about you," he whispered, his cheeks then colored a very light crimson. He quickly shifted his gaze back to the other man. "I mean... well, curious, just curious." He cleared his throat and tugged on the cuff of his sleeve.
Smoooooth, Kier, real smooth!
"If I may ask, what are you planting?"
Oskar nodded in response to the curiosity. That does make sense he thought to himself, memories of dogs he had met over the years. "They are inquisitive creatures. Their heightened sense of hearing and scent often sparks their curiosity about things even before we as humans entertain similar thoughts and feelings" he added looking at the younger man. "It appears we have been brought together by Otis here...standing here talking to one another and yet I don't believe we've been introduced... properly at least."
"Doctor Oskar Ruseka, Laboratory Sciences" he said to the younger man. Oskar extended his hand out in a kind gesture. "Does Otis come to the arboretum often?" asked the elder science officer.
"Doctor Kiernan Gallagher," Kiernan responded in kind, and took the offered hand, which felt large to him. After he let go, he continued on. "I typically take him here once a day, fresh greenery and all that."
"It's a pleasure to meet you both, Doctor Gallagher" replied Oskar, now having a name to go with the face. "Otis here caught me planting Cordellian bitter melons so that I can grow them here...or try to grow them at least. It's going to be an uphill battle."
Kiernan nodded. "An uphill battle, yes, but not that hard of a hill to climb," he replied. "As long as you infuse the soil with a compound of Cordellian quartz, pencalic acid with an extra dose of potassium, the uphill battle can be won quite easily." He paused, and then smiled. "If memory serves it is one part Cordellian quartz, half part potassium, and two parts of pencalic acid, diluted of course with a little aitch two oh." Kiernan felt the leash tug and he looked down to see Otis approach the other man, and then the pug lifted himself up on his hind legs and placed his front paws on the man's leg, his head was tilted up.
"I think he definitely likes you."
Oskar chuckled and thanked Gallagher for his advice. "Thank you, Doctor. We wouldn't happen to Cordellian quartz aboard, would we?" Oskar asked with a small half-smile. "I suppose I could file a request with the Laboratory Science Chief and hopefully they will agree to submit it to the Chief Science Officer and it gets the green light to hot the Executive Officer's desk" stated the older man. "Paperwork, right?" he continued, shaking his head at the thought of the whole process. "Like a cog in a machine" added Oskar.
"Otis does seem to be fond of me for some reason" teased Oskar. "Though I suppose he's just being friendly to a new face aboard. Does he tend to dig things up? I am going to be planting some things in the arboretum in the next few days and I really need it to stay in the soil" he said nervously, not wanting to offend the other man. "You see...I have some bulbs to plant from an alien plant that has recently gone extinct. This will be one of the last chances we get to Lazarus it back from the point of no return."
Kiernan felt like he was in a rapid fire bonus round, the other man talked in rabid succession, jumping from one topic to the next. He blinked and tried to center his thoughts. "First, I am the chief of environmental sciences, I can procure the quartz," he said, and at that he smiled. "I should have some pull on that front... well, hopefully anyway." He fell silent for a moment as he thought about that. "Plus, I'm a geologist, if anyone is going to know about Cordellian quartz, it is going to be me." He wondered if Yulia even know about such things, she struck him as someone who was more into cybernetics than anything else.
His gaze briefly dropped to Otis who clearly was enamored with the other man. "He is a dog, he digs, but he also is a pug, so he is lazy... it depends on the day. Typically, he stays with me after we take our walk, and enjoy time in the arboretum, he clearly got curious." He again offered the smallest of smiles. "I do understand though and I'll be sure to keep him away from the patches of dirt you are using for planting. Though, since he likes you, I may not beable to keep him away from you."
Then as an after thought he added, "Also, please call me Kiernan."
Oskar bounced his shoulders and bobbed his head in a jerky side to side motion. The dog is a dog. He will do what dogs do, but this one is lazier than those hyper poodles your grandmother had. This one also seems somewhat obedient...somewhat most of the time thought Oskar. I do not him following me around the arboretum nor will I mind him observing me. If he wants to dig another science officer's patch of dirt, that it fine with me. So long as it isn't my patch" teased Oskar. "If I develop any friendly rivalries aboard with fellow scientist, Otis is more than welcome to dig up their plants and piddle on them too" joked the Toxicologist. "He's always welcome to stop by my science lab so long as you come along...I'm a toxicologist. There are plants in there that aren't healthy if he gets into them" he explained.
"Well, if Otis is around than I am not too far behind," Kiernan said.
"Oh and thank you...for the quartz if you can procure it for me that is" replied Oskar. "If you are Chief of Environmental Sciences, are you sure that you don't want me to address you as sir?" asked Oskar. "I'll address you however you wish me to. I have no problems taking orders from a clearly younger superior officer though if I'm, to be frank, you look no older than some of my students."
"You should see me without the beard, I look like I'm on the verge of puberty." A sound that was supposedly a chuckle, escaped his lips. "Honest, Kiernan is fine, especially in a setting like here," Kiernan said. He wasn't comfortable being called sir, especially by someone who was clearly older than himself. "On duty, doctor or lieutenant is fine, though I don't know... I suppose I am not hung up on such things." This time he shrugged. "I think Starfleet worries about it more than I do, though they saw fit to give me the degrees and the pips, I suppose I should use them once in a while." He felt like he was rambling non-sense again, so he quickly closed his mouth and let the briefest of moments go by.
Oskar nodded in agreement. Everything that Kiernan was saying made perfect sense to Oskar. He had experienced these feelings himself. "You are absolutely right, Kiernan. I know how you feel. Guys like us...we're scientists first and foremost. They provide us with these uniforms, throw a few rank pips on our uniforms, and promote us from time to time; However, we live and breathe science. That's what we care about. We are here to seek out new life and civilizations, to study the littlest things we find out here. To make advancements in medicine and technology. Our degrees aren't in whipping out a phaser and blasting a hole through something" rambled the older man. "You can just call me Oskar if nobody else is around to reprimand us for dropping rank and not being professionally stuffy."
Kiernan smiled at that, and then nodded his agreement. "Oskar it is," he replied. He stood there for a moment, taking in the other man, his features, memorizing every little detail - he was doing this without even really realizing it. Then he realized it, and he felt himself grow warm and flushed by it. He cleared his throat, a reflex most humans did to distract not only the other person but themselves as well. In these situations, his mind did what it did best - wrestle with each and every part. He wasn't sure what to do next, and he bit on his lower lip in thought. The silence began to stretch and the older man who stood before him was looking expectant.
Say something, Kier, just say something... anything... just do it!
"Would you like to go for a walk with Otis and I sometime?"
Normally, Oskar would not fathom socializing with someone so much younger than he was, mostly because he had just spent so much time lecturing to students that probably were not much younger than Kiernan was; However, this was not an academic environment, the roles were not the same, and Oskar was not Kiernan's superior in any sense, a respected elder scientist maybe, but superior? No. They were of equal rank, but Kiernan oversaw the Environmental Sciences within the greater Science Department. Oskar was simply a science officer within the Laboratory Sciences. They were shipmates and colleagues aboard the USS Nightingale, and if Oskar was going to make this his home, for the time being, he would need to socialize.
"Two science officers and a pug, strolling through the arboretum, or walking about the ship? Kiernan, I would be honored to" replied Oskar with a smile on his face and gentility in the tone of his voice. "I cannot think of any company that would be more suited to engaging me in conversation than a fellow science officer, especially one who knows his chemistry" added Oskar warmly and welcoming of the thought. "Then, there is Otis. You cannot say no to a face like his, that adorable dog of yours."
As Kiernan looked down at Otis, he couldn't help but smile. He felt his heart swell with love for the pup. "He is very adorable, isn't he?" he replied softly. There was just so much love for his pug, and frankly, he didn't know what he would ever do without Otis. Otis was only three years old, Kiernan hoped he still had plenty of years ahead with his dog. He looked back up at Oskar, the smile broadened. "Then it's a date..."
Kiernan's cheeks went beet red, which didn't take much against his pale skin.
"I mean... not a date, I mean... well, you know what I mean." He stammered and then groaned in embarrassment.
This is amusing thought Oskar as he observed the younger man's social awkwardness being notched up a level by level with each passing moment. For what reason? Oskar suspected, but did not want to be so presumptuous. "Very adorable and I imagine he will age to a very handsome little guy. I have no immediate plans on leaving the Nightingale. So, perhaps I will be around to see the little guy mature. I have a feeling he will be watching me work more often" said Oskar.
"A date" replied Oskar with a smile. "Not all dates involve candlelit dinners and wine. "Walking around the arboretum or the rest of the Nightingale with you and Otis sounds just as delightful. Schedules permitting, if you ever want to grab something in the Mess Hall together, that would be perfectly fine with me. I hate dining alone" he added.
And I'm used to dining alone, Kiernan thought. Most nights, it was just he and Otis... well, most meals really. Dogs were not typically allowed in the mess hall, so it was rare that Kiernan at there. However, if he had someone to eat with that might be different. "I'd like that," Kiernan said. "I typically just eat in my quarters, so it will be nice to share a meal with another human being." He looked to Otis, and smiled lovingly at his best friend. "I love Otis with all that I am, but sometimes it's nice to have someone who can respond and not just look at me with a tilted head as if I'm nuts."
"Oh, I'm sure he doesn't think you are nuts, Kiernan. If anything, he probably is wondering why someone like you is sitting alone in your quarters having your meals alone. You should be in the Mess Hall or somewhere having a shared meal with some friends" commented Oskar. "Otis seems like a wonderful companion, but some bipedal interaction does the mind wonders. Join me some time...I think you'll like it" added Oskar in jest.
Kiernan smiled at that. "I'd definitely like to join you," he said, a bit too eagerly. Reel it back in Ker, he reminded himself. He didn't want to sound so eager, especially around this new person. "I mean, it sounds nice, I'm sure I will like it," he added, is tone back on the softer side. He figured he had embarrassed himself for one evening. "So um..." he reached behind him and rubbed the back of his neck. "I should probably leave you to your work sans pug interference." He managed the smallest of smiles. "It was nice to meet you, Oskar."
"The pleasure was mine" replied Oskar. "You two have a wonderful day, and try not to pee on too many plants" teased the older science officer with a bit of a smirk as he watched the little pug.
Kiernan smiled, almost in embarrassment, waved slightly and then tugged on the leash gently to get Otis moving. After Kiernan and Otis left the holodeck, he stopped, knelt down one one knee and looked at his pug. Otis tilted his head in curiosity, and then sat down on his own haunches. "Oh Otis, you are something else, what are you up to anyway?" He gave his beloved pug a quick scratch on the top of his head, and then pulled himself back up. Otis followed suit and fell in step with his human.
Lieutenant Kiernan M. Gallagher VII, PhD
Chief of Environmental Sciences
Lieutenant Oskar R. Ruseka, MD
Otis the Pug