Living on Planet 102

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The pods had landed safely and the landers were now awakening from cryobiosis. But something did not go quite well during terraformation.

Submitted: February 17, 2018

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Submitted: February 17, 2018

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Sheila was still getting used to this new life. It was day 5 on planet 102 and she was eager to explore. Everything around her reminded her of the burden of responsibility she carried. She had to admit that the previous 4 days had been hard - after waking up from her cryobiosis, her body needed time to adjust - her muscles were still remembering how to walk, her lungs were remembering how to breathe. And even though she was thankful for the genetic engineering technology (and the tardigrade genes) that allowed her to stay in this state of hibernation for enough time for her planet to terraform - over one hundred thousand earth years - the pain of knowing that she would never see Poseidon again, the home that she grew up in, was still fresh. So she allowed her emotions to take over and she mourned.

 

The bio-nanobots had done a terrific job digging and building her habitat out of the granite-like surface of planet 102. Humanity had come a long way since they realized that carbon, being the fourth most common element in the Universe, was the most appropriate element for nanoengineering. And billions of years of evolution back on earth meant that there was no dearth of highly sophisticated machinery, capable of operating on carbon-based molecules, which they borrowed to create more complex elements. A modified form of crystallized chitin, the preferred choice of robust and flexible protection by pretty much all insects on earth, made up the walls, floors and pretty much any structural or furniture object in Sheila’s new home. Since the dawn of the technology age, it had taken human engineers a few hundreds of years to get rid of childish notions that humanity could thrive in outer space while still carrying the genes that made them so well adapted to goldilocks conditions on earth… but nowhere else in the universe. The bio-bots had been designed to guide the chitin secretion process pretty much independently with minimal oversight from the central mainframe computer, the only metal-based object in the whole infrastructure. Like building an ant’s nest with a central nervous system.

 

Sheila got up and walked around. Her legs were slightly better than yesterday. She hoped she spend the day exploring the planet but for the first 10 days, all that she was allowed to explore was her habitat. Sheila looked at her checklist for the first time. Then noticed from the console that 3 of the 10 landers had already awaken - she had been so groggy for the first few days that self-preservation had been her first and only concern. She opened the communications app on the main computer screen who happily welcomed her to planet 102 and prompted her to tell others that she was awake. She selected “yes”. The first task was complete. Dealing with the pain and disorientation of the awakening was not part of the checklist.

 

Since Sheila’s pod had landed, one hundred thousand years ago, the bio-instruments had been performing all sorts of checks and balances - terraformation was not an exact science, life and the universe were too stochastic to rely on deterministically driven conclusions. Instead, the initial settings like minimum biomass, initial amount and rate of spread of oxygenizing and carbonizing species, was based on suggestions from billions of simulation ran onboard the Poseidon. There was no guarantee that life would take off as expected or that it would evolve in a direction where human life could be sustained. But then again, if three of the ten pods were active, something must have gone right.

 

Oxygen levels were at 17%, 4 points below ideal, which explained the grogginess and the slow cryobiosis recovery. Sheila could still breathe but it meant that her brain cells were getting less energy than optimal therefore were operating at a slower metabolic rate to avoid burning too much energy too fast. She turned on the auxiliary oxygen generator in the habitat until they could figure why terraformation was behind schedule. That reminded her - time to check on how the “crops” were doing. Might as well check the water and air humidity as well. Spectroscopic and visual analysis of the planet back in Poseidon had revealed plenty of liquid water but there was no harm in confirming. Keeping busy also kept her from reminiscing about her life in Poseidon. Each pod had been equipped with enough pre-processed food to last 100 days but from then on, landers were on their own. Large amounts of biomass (pro-processed lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and other micro-nutrients) were sent to the planet along with the 10 pods. Produced on board Poseidon, this organic “soup” used as raw material organic matter floating in space ‘clouds’ that Poseidon occasionally encountered and scavenged. Sheila didn’t have a window to explore her surroundings (also, she was underground), but bio-electronic eyes should have been deployed in various locations around the habitat. Sheila returned to the console and tapped the app marked ‘exterior’.

 

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I'm running an experiment: I'd like your help in writting Sheila's story. 

What do you think Sheila sees when she looks outside? Write your answer in the comments below.


© Copyright 2020 HF Deus. All rights reserved.

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