starsandatoms: ([geek] astronomy)
[personal profile] starsandatoms
Title: Circumzenithal
Fandom: Star Trek XI
Rating: G for gratuitous science porn
Summary: Jim, Spock, and Bones do some organizing of shore leave, and then gratuitous science ensues. \o/
Notes: For Vacations and Holidays for [livejournal.com profile] cliche_bingo. For more science, go here - features gorgeous pictures of the day and awesome explanations.



The dome is shuttered, whether for shade or privacy is anyone's guess, but even so it makes one hell of a sight. Jim tips his chair back to look up at it, and whistles.

"Do I even want to think about how much this cost?" he asks.

"No," says Bones sourly, sipping his coffee. "Couldn't you have picked somewhere with sun? Or, you know, a sky?"

"There are several translucent domes," says Spock primly. "The main attraction of this planet is its atmospheric research center. I simply thought an opaque dome would make a more enjoyable meal. One of the constants of human cultures is the need for shade and shelter from - "

"Jim, he's doing it again," says Bones.

Jim lets the front legs of his chair fall back onto the floor. "Spock, stop being deliberately obtuse," he says, then points a finger at him. "Don't make me turn this shore leave around."

Spock raises an eyebrow. "Logically, as you are the one who granted me the request to have this shore leave on this planet, any consequences arising from my choice belong equally to you."

"In other words, it's your own damn fault," says Bones. "I'm inclined to agree." He wrinkles his nose at the coffee, and puts it down heavily on the table. "Not even a decent cup of coffee on this ball of rock."

"The quality of the caffeine was not one of the criteria I used for my choice," says Spock. "Nor did I intend for this to be a social dinner; there are several sights I wish to see before the end of the granted shore leave, and we have business to attend to."

"Hot date tonight?" asks Jim, smirking.

Spock ignores him. "We must allocate responsibilities for the remainder of the shore leave. I must strenuously object once more to considering Commander Scott 'qualified' enough to have command of the bridge, and recommend that from this point on, one of the three of us are at the very least physically present on the ship at all times."

Jim gives him a pointed look. "You're the one who insisted we come down here now," he says.

"Several of the events I wish to witness are time-sensitive," Spock admits, "and you yourselves were anxious to get off the ship."

"'Set foot on some goddamned ground,'" quotes Jim, grinning at Bones, who rolls his eyes.

"I do not sound like that."

"The point being," continues Spock loudly, "that we must maintain at least a token presence on both the ship and the planet, in the case of any unanticipated diplomatic events."

"About that," says Jim, leaning forward earnestly. "We're not going to have a repeat of Argo. I talked to Chekov, and he's going to go out of his way not to blow anything up this time."

Spock's lips thin minutely. "I do not doubt that," he says carefully, "but I remain firmly of the belief that one should not have to go out of one's way not to cause explosions – indeed, an explosion-less state should be the default."

"Much as it pains me to agree with elf-ears," says Bones, "he's got a point. Chekov's a good kid, and his heart's in the right place, but his explosives sure as hell aren't."

"They weren't explosives!" Jim protests. "Incendiary materials, maybe. Besides, it's half of salt! Anyone could make that mistake."

"Anyone with two seconds of chemistry experience would not make the mistake of throwing pure sodium into a large container of water," says Bones. "Hell, I know that!"

"Well, at the very least, all the sodium's gone, right?" says Jim. "So it's a moot point."

"The point being," says Spock, "that a high-ranking Starfleet officer with at least some experience in - " and here he hesitates and glances pointedly at Jim before continuing - "diplomacy should be on-planet in case of emergency. And once again, I do not believe Mister Scott qualifies."

"For something on-shore? Definitely not," says Jim. "The man has all the tact and restraint of an angry Dynesean elephant. But he knows the ship better than anyone, and I'm including myself in that statement – if there's so much of a circuit misfiring, he'll find it and fix it."

"And if there's a personnel problem?" asks Spock.

Jim grins. "That's why Uhura's still on the ship, too."

"Can we get this over with?" says Bones. "I've got a shore leave to enjoy, and I'd like to actually, you know, enjoy it at some point."

Spock checks the chronometer strapped to his wrist. "Perhaps we can continue this conversation while walking?" he suggests.

"No need," says Jim. "Go ahead and draw up a duty roster for the three of us. Standard twenty-four hour breakdown, three shifts of eight hours – whoever's planetside will have to be reachable, but whoever's scheduled to be on the ship can sleep as long as they've got their comm on. Assign out two frequencies, one for the officer-on-duty planetside and one for the officer-on-duty on the ship, and we'll switch frequencies when we change shifts so that the crew only needs to remember two numbers. After the shoreleave, let's go ahead and administer the field-command exam – Scotty can take it again if you've still got doubts, but I say we give it to Uhura and Sulu, too. That'll bring us up to six command-ready officers for the next shoreleave, which won't mean sixteen on-duty hours a day. Am I forgetting anything?"

Bones smirks, and Spock raises an eyebrow. "I suppose not," he admits. "Very well. As I am the one giving out assignments - "

"Shore leave doesn't officially start for another two hours," Bones points out. "Christine's still checking inoculation records and clearing the crew for disembarkation."

"Meaning you can't tell us what to do just yet," Jim agrees. "And I myself am curious as to what's got you so antsy."

"Me, too," says Bones.

"I would hardly say that my emotional state is 'antsy,'" says Spock, wrinkling his nose ever-so-slightly.

"You can call it whatever you want," says Bones, standing up. "Where are we going?"

Spock raises an eyebrow, but gives in and stands up as well, Jim following suit. "Observation dome thirteen," he says. "I believe it's this way."

Jim and Bones follow Spock, but Jim can't contain his inner five-year-old and whispers to Bones, "We know it's not Uhura – has he been here before? Is this an interplanetary booty-call?"

"Would he be letting us come with him if it were?" asks Bones, then immediately answers himself, "And do we really want to know if the answer's 'yes'?"

"I assure you," says Spock over his shoulder, "that my interest in the display is entirely scientific in nature. Also, you are not as discreet as you think you are."

"He's got us there," Bones says.

"The use of the word 'display' is both intriguing and disturbing," says Jim.

Spock leads them through another doorway, and they find themselves in a transparent observation dome, with a clear view of the horizon. The planet's sun is rising, only a few degrees above the mountains in the distance, and the sky is still pale, but the most noticeable features are the halos.

"The atmosphere of this planet is known for a high content of water ice, carbon dioxide ice, and ammonia ice crystals," Spock says, sounding smug. "The twenty-two and forty-six degree halos are similar to what you have on Earth, as are the circumzenithal, Kern, supralateral, infralateral, and various Perry arcs; the parhelia are generated by all of the crystals."

What this translates to is giant arcs across the sky: a bright circle around the zenith, red on the outside and cycling through the whole spectrum before arriving at an electric hue of blue on the inside; another colorful arc above the sun, bending towards and away from it like a taut bow; almost parabolic spectral arcs on either side of the sun; and several intensely colored chevrons of light above, around, and below the sun, uneven in size and shape.

Jim says, "Whoa."

Bones says, "So you were waiting for..."

"The terminator line to pass over this location," says Spock.

"Sunrise," Jim translates.

"In layman's terms, yes," Spock agrees. "I believe that may even be a Moilanen arc," he adds, sounding impressed.

"Let me guess," says Bones. "The atmospheric research they're doing here is mostly optics."

"Indeed," says Spock. "The domes allow for the study of a generally hostile and, as the human-oriented brochures state, 'unearthly' atmosphere, and the ices in the atmosphere make for regular displays such as these. In other words, the research is funded by tourists."

"Somehow I'm not surprised," says Bones, staring at the sky. "Huh."

Jim gives Spock a firm thump on the back. "Not bad," he says. "Maybe I'll even let you pick the shore-leave planet again."

"Bad idea," Bones mutters to him. "We know how bad the coffee is - imagine what they'd do to the alcohol."

"I will attempt to feign gratification," says Spock dryly.

"That's all I ask," says Jim, grinning, before turning to Bones. "All right," he says. "It's time for us to get our vacation on."
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