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Environmental Cleanup

Posted on Sat May 11th, 2024 @ 8:59pm by Captain Shran dh'Klar & Lieutenant Inara Senn

Mission: Man & Machine
Location: USS Washington

The ship was on wartime footing as multiple departments made preparations for what was to be a massive planetary bombardment. But while the tactical situation was important, Shran was also concerned about the environmental cleanup that needed to happen after this war was finished. That was under the purview of Inara, and he needed to get an update on her progress in her preparations. He wasn't alone as he made his way down to Science Lab 1, or as Inara affectionately called it, Inara's Lab. He brought with him one of the Human Resistance Leaders, Connor's wife Kate. It made sense that she be the one to come with him, seeing as she had a medical background and might be able to actually understand at least some of what Inara might discuss. But he didn't want to overwhelm the woman, she had to work with Sam regarding the medical aspects as well, and that seemed to be a pressing matter.

Inara stood up. "Alright. I'll try to fill in as much as possible. Right now, this planet has a large number of aerosols in the atmosphere, I've broken down what we have to do into four phases." Inara mentioned. "Phase one; We will use the USS Washington's Bussard ramscoop collectors to begin pulling the aerosols and the fallout from the planet's atmosphere. When completed we expect ninety-eight-point seven percent of the aerosols to be removed. This leads to phase two."

"You are able to remove the radiation from the atmosphere? Your technology is truly amazing. But you can't hold on to it indefinitely, so where are you going to put it?" questioned Kate.

"You have a radioactive ball of flaming gas nearby that will be happy to accept it" Shran replied. "Of course, doing this has consequences that I am sure Inara wishes to discuss."

"Your sun is going to heat things up rapidly. Planetary oceans and seas that froze over after the nuclear exchange will begin to melt rapidly. And it will release a considerable amount of fallout, creating the phenomenon known as black rain." Inara mentioned. "To do this, we will need to place probes in low orbit with smaller ramscoops to remove these black rain clouds. The water cycle will kick into high gear. Fortunately, grimly I might add, the onset of nuclear winter froze the fallout according to my scans, and locked it in the ice, phase two will remove the fallout before it can get into the water table." Inara mentioned. "Then comes Phase Three."

"Certainly sounds like a lot of work on your part, and that is just two phases. What will you be doing after that?" questioned Kate.

"Phase Three will involve your people considerably. We will have a planet with an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, but with very little surviving plant life and animal life, and it will take centuries to do this step. We will have to restart the biosphere, and I have identified preliminary animal, insect, and fungal lifeforms to create a biosphere from scratch, as you will not be able to grow food without the bacteria and nitrates in your soil. But this is the difficult part, as we have to make sure every component of the biosphere is in sync with each other. We can't just launch a magic bullet that will clean up the land, atmosphere, and seas. Fortunately, we in the Federation have experience with terraforming, but phase three will involve a very select and eccentric group in the Federation known as Terraformers." Inara noted. "I simply don't do things half-assed. When I leave this planet, I intend for it to be ready for phase three.

"You are going to terraform our entire planet?" questioned Kate.

Shran smiled. "It is a large undertaking, but the necessary vessels are already on their way. This undertaking got the brass back at Command intrigued. Admiral Janeway herself is on her way here to oversee the endeavor. I admit, I think she is using it as an excuse to get her crew back together and for her to spend a few weeks aboard her old ship, but she is on her way nonetheless. I'm told she is being accompanied by the Nova, which is a science vessel, and the Sutherland, which will have a contingent from StarFleet's Corps of Engineers to help rebuild the planet after the fact."

"We will have to import some insects and other life forms from various worlds to rebuild the biosphere. But I'm confident in ten years your world will have twenty-five percent sustainable biomass. My team will be putting in double shifts to get phase one and two kicked off. I would accept nothing less than a complete biosphere." Inara noted. "I am not some grad student working on a project. When I heard of the conditions you are living in, I found it absolutely reprehensible. But I am interested in the remains of those machines on your world. An AI singularity. I did not expect to encounter something like that. I want to understand those machines so we can prevent it from happening elsewhere. AI is simultaneously inevitable and a possible threat, but if we don't understand how, as the British once said, we'd be doomed to repeat history. That is Phase four. Preventing this shit from happening again by understanding it."

Inara pulled no punches. But she now kept a formal tone, but the resistance leader could see she was brilliant, but not a people person.

"I am curious, what is going to happen to the indigenous life that still lives on the planet? I admit to not understanding how you are going to pull off this great feat of scientific engineering, but I am concerned that our biosphere is going to be replaced by something that is replacing what should be here. Our ancestors introduced hundreds of species from Earth to this planet, and they thrived. But just as we adapted to the planet, so did the animals and other creatures we brought to this planet. The natural life on this planet remained and we created a new biosphere. Even after the war with the machines, the creatures here haven't died, they remain. I think only, at most, a dozen species were made extinct from the war here. I'm sorry if I am being overconcerned, but you have to understand, before I was a medical doctor, I was originally a veterinarian."

Shran heard the concern coming from Kate Connor. She had legitimate concerns, concerns Shran hadn't thought about. "Inara, can you address this issue? I wasn't aware that the war hadn't actually harmed the wildlife. I find that to be astounding and perplexing honestly. It is equally as perplexing to the medical question Sam is working on, on how these humans seem to not be affected by the massive amounts of radiation currently everywhere."

Inara brought up a display of the big five extinction events. "That fact has not escaped my mind, Ms. Connor. And it is why we will need to be very elegant in rebuilding this biosphere. But the fact is your war was indeed an extinction event. When that happens, biospheres recover very slowly, and we need it to sustain a human population. The problem is the biosphere may still collapse. The thing is without seaweed, molds, wetlands, swamps and rain forests, methane and carbon dioxide will begin to build up, triggering runaway bacteria logical growth. If there's too much oxygen, the same will happen. And the indigenous life will play a roll. We will have to synthesize this balance in the planets biodiversity, and it will require experts from the Federation in Xenobiology. And I know just the resumes we need. None of those ivory tower punks from Daystrom. We need actual, honest to God, researchers. And this is not going to be easy. Which is why I need your people's help, Ms. Connor. In undertaking this effort and preventing it from happening again. We can provide the technical and other expertise, and I know some good scientists that are not driven by their ego. They may be just as eccentric as I am, but these resumes I have in mind are very good."

"I am grateful for all your work. But, if you don't mind me saying, you haven't answered my question entirely. We haven't lost seaweed, mold, wetlands, swamps, or rainforests. In fact, they have remained the same or increased since the war began. To be fair, we had no settlements near rainforests, swamps, or wetlands. We had one near a wetland area, but it was decimated by a plague a few years prior to the war" Kate Connor replied.

Shran looked to Inara. "That sounds strange to me. So much about this planet sounds just a bit odd. Excessive amounts of heavy radioactive elements naturally occurring, life on the planet not being affected by high levels of radiation that would normally harm or even kill most organic life, and now it sounds like areas that are needed to protect the biosphere are surviving and even thriving despite conditions that should be detrimental to them. I have to go down there and see this planet for myself. This is very strange."

"I am going as well. This is truly fascinating. And I will bring my Xenobiology team with me." Inara noted.

"I will allow you down on the planet, but not until we have secured a safe space for you and your team. I'll have you and your team on a shuttle, and you'll await clearance. But yes, I think you seeing the planet yourself may be a necessity. I'll have you work with Deanna once she completes her other duties" Shran replied.

'Great... I'm stuck with Ms. High-and-mighty again. I hope something eats her.' Inara said to herself. "Yes, Captain."

"Get your team together and report to the shuttle bay" Shran ordered calmly. He could sense this wasn't something Inara completely wanted. She had issues dealing with anyone that didn't give her carte blanche, but she needed to be protected from herself at times. "You'll launch within the hour Inara; I trust you'll be prepared."


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