The shuttle doors opened. Captain Kirk, Commander Spock, and Security Chief Giotto looked out at an outcropping just outside the shuttle egress.
As much as the ship’s arboretum was able to simulate the conditions of a temperate ecosystem, Spock knew, the sterile atmosphere of the Enterprise meant that the trees and flowers did not trigger even his superior olfactory sense. He did enjoy the genuine sights, sounds and smells of the lush foliage on this world as much as his human crewmates. Of course, he would never give Captain Kirk or Doctor McCoy the satisfaction of admitting that this more natural environment produced an emotional response. “We’ll split up into two teams,” the captain announced. “Commander Giotto and Ensign Phillips, with me. We’ll head south. Spock, Doctor McCoy, and Mister Leslie you’ll head north.”
“I should remind you, Captain,” Spock replied, “that the sun will be setting in less than an hour. Preliminary surveys indicate the temperature drops considerably overnight...” He had suddenly lost his train of thought when a new odor caught his attention. It was a floral scent too strong to originate from any of the flowers in the immediate vicinity. He and Kirk looked behind themselves to see McCoy rubbing lotion on his face.
“I was more than happy to join the team when I heard we were spared having to use the transporter,” McCoy explained before Kirk or Spock could inquire, “only to find out on the way to the shuttlebay this planet is similar to Earth when the ozone layer deteriorated two hundred years ago.”
“That’s why we chose this landing spot,” Kirk offered as the entire landing party sauntered out of the shuttle. “And that serum we all took before departing should protect us.”
“We still can’t be too careful,” McCoy countered while offering the bottle of sunscreen to the two security officers, “considering the amount of radiation we’ve been exposed to in the last year. There were the Berthold rays on Omicron Ceti Three. The spores may have protected us, but unprotected exposure can still have a cumulative effect.”
Spock looked away from the rest of the two teams, as they were splitting off in opposite directions, so no one could see him rolling his eyes to express annoyance. He knew very well that humans were not nearly as resilient as Vulcans to high levels of solar radiation. Even someone with McCoy’s medical knowledge, he thought, would be aware such strong smelling topical creams were redundant and even inferior to present day radiation inoculants. “I would assume, Doctor,” he remarked, “that you don’t mind that anyone within five miles of us can smell you.”
“Very funny,” McCoy huffed. He again offered the sunscreen bottle to Lieutenant Leslie. “You sure you don’t want any?” he asked. “It’s SPF 100.” Leslie simply shook his head and waved it away.
“I was simply making an observation,” Spock claimed, even as he did feel a moment of triumph with his latest witticism directed at McCoy.