Edward’s gaze had been fixed on the portrait of the young girl whose likeness was enclosed in a silver picture frame next to his preferred console. The Phagdane’s aroma had lifted his spirits, but the silence within the lab lingered. Every few moments sounds of the laboratory equipment would break that silence, but then retreat, allowing silence to reach again. The time that had passed felt like hours, but in reality had only been minutes.
His focus was broken.
He had not even heard the door open, but there within its frame stood a young woman, adorned in the attire of a science uniform. Edward guessed that the brunette was just over twenty, but didn’t know. He knew her though, having become accustomed with the science staff aboard the Artemis.
The woman had closed the distance between herself and the science officer, the door closing behind her. In her hand she extended the offer of a padd. Edward had accepted it in his own.
“How was Jupiter?”
With a quick glance Edward was looking at stellar maps and data flows from the ship's probe relays. As standard procedure the taskforce had been employing probes to help with the stellar cartography, and it had made sense that Lauren would be monitoring the feedback. She was after all the assigned stellar cartographer.
“Nothing exciting I’m afraid… Seed samples look viable.” Edward had motioned to the agricultural incubator against the wall. “I’m glad to be back aboard the Artemis. Jupiter’s science facilities aren't like the Luna classes… Now. How can I help?”
Edward’s eyes followed her as she peered through the transparent glass of the incubator towards a half grown plant.
“I knew you’d pulled the short straw on the seed sample viability study, and thought you’d be interested that the probe readouts have documented some viable class planets… Could be useful to jot down these planetary objects next to the report in case they ever need somewhere to plant those seeds.”
Edward was taken by surprise.
“That would be very useful.”
Using the padd the Midshipman instructed the computer to duplicate the cartography map, then instructed it to be attached to his seed viability report.
“She's very beautiful.”
Edward had been caught off guard by the statement, not realising that Lauren had journeyed around the room only to find herself fixed on the portrait that the Midshipman had been focused on earlier.
“Yes…” he was careful about what to surrender. “My daughter.”
The woman looked surprised, nodding as she did so.
“The delta quadrant is a long way to travel when you’ve got family. I guess she is proud that her father has a sense of duty to the Federation.”
Edward was certain that wasn’t true. He anticipated quite the opposite. Nonetheless, he was keen that Lauren did not need to know the details.
“Kind of you to say, but if you excuse me I have lots of work to continue.”
The abrupt response demonstrated Edward was doubtful of her remarks, and with his request she nodded, steadily retreating through the door that she had quietly arrived through.
“Lauren… Thank you for the stellar maps.”
Sincerity had carried in the Midshipman's voice.
She turned, smiling as she did so.
“My pleasure Sir.”