“We will be planting this one as soon as spring arrives.”
“I’m not saying I don’t enjoy gardening but I see no practical use.”, Rishi said.
“You do know that there aren’t food synthesizers everywhere, don’t you? What do you suppose people do in that case? Other than grow their own food?”, Akira replied.
“I see. Forgive me, grandfather…”
“No need for apologies, I understand, you had them all your life and so did I. It’s hard to imagine the lack of something we always had. Come.”
Cleaning his scissor, the material hidden under the dirt became golden and shiny. Akira looked up to Rishi, his eyes smiling, and passed onto him the dripping scissor.
“Ahh, again, gardening today was not an accident, was it? Who are we talking about?”, Rishi asked.
“Your ambitions will end up costing us everything!” argued Rick.
“You knew what we were up against when we started experimenting with those plants.”, replied Fabio.
Fabio Maldoran, First Level Gardener aboard an ECOS Greenader. Passioned about botany since an early age, he had devoured every book, every simulation, and attended every lecture during his early years. He was fascinated by the seamless interconnectivity that a plant-based ecosystem could achieve on its own and wondered if anything could be learned that could help the factions behave in the same manner. He didn’t care much about the zealot attitude of the ECOS but where else would he get the chance to see such an abundance of plants being nurtured and respected?
“Straight to the point, I called you two here because you disobeyed the orders given to you both. The gym garden neither lacked the plants you introduced nor benefitted from them.” said the Chief Botanist, “moreover, it has become clear that your inability to follow procedure has only grown and can no longer be tolerated. You even go against the sacred pairings, Nature’s best work.”
“But Sir, Nature has improved upon itself in the past, why not provide the environment where that can happen again, maybe even better?” Fabio replied.
“Silence! The pairings are not to be questioned, who are you to know a better combination of seeds? Who are you to undo decades of meticulous confirmation of their potential? Do you think yourself above Nature?”
“I tried to warn him Sir.”, Rick said.
“Fabio, Is this true?”
“Yes Sir, but the work…”
“The work, your work, is the one I tell you to do. I’ve had enough of you. I’ve requested that you be transferred back to the Embassy and I’m advising that you are never allowed near a sacred garden again. In the meantime, Rick will clean the gym and install the right pairings before our rendezvous with this region’s Bombarella. And you Fabio, you will remain in your quarters until I can get you off my ship.”
Weeks of clerical work at the embassy had passed and Fabio was beginning to think that doing archaic botanical work was preferable to annotations of futile meetings among delegates that needed to be filled in triplicate that no one read, and that needed to be re-digitized for the archive that no one consulted, and finally sent in an eternal approval process that never left the pending status.
“Sir? Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the assistant to the office of the Prime Terraformer and I have a message to be delivered to Fabio Maldoran.”
“That’s me. What is the message about?”, Fabio asked.
“Your presence is required at the earliest convenience. All other duties should be put on hold. I was instructed to take you with me on my returning flight.”, the assistant replied.
“Hmm, ok, that’s all well and good but what is this about?”
“Fabio Maldoran, presenting himself as requested.”
“The Prime Terraformer is waiting for you inside”, the desk clerk replied.
“Ah, you must be Fabio. Come on in, sit. Can I offer you something to drink? I have blessed algae water and holy tea of de-aging.”
Fabio sat down with a cup of holy tea and a serious discussion about procedures and protocols ensued. From the need to preserve rare species to the benefits of specific cultures in the terraforming process. Suddenly, silence.
“Yes, I’m stalling. Wondering if you have any idea of the magnitude of your actions.”
“My actions sir? I’ve been following procedure as best as I can.”, Fabio replied, thinking that he might have made an unexpectedly critical mistake at the embassy.
“Do you remember the incident that got you back at the Embassy?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“And, on a seemingly unrelated note, are you aware that we are unable to terraform some biomes due to incompatibilities with our terraforming compounds?”
“Yes sir, something to do with the chemistry being rooted on other base elements on those worlds if I’m not mistaken.”
“You are not. And if I tell you that the Heretic pairings you produced on that Greenader are able to produce new compounds? That not only are fully compatible with several of those biomes but also seem to be a bridge connecting the existing strains, do start to see the relevance and the connection between the two?”
“The books?”, Fabio asked.
“The books, indeed. The Holy Books, the books that so many see as the center of our culture, the books that detail the waste that heretic planets pose and why we should do our best to colonized them all, the books that tell us why and how we should terraform those colonies, the books that tell nothing about the new pairings you found and how they allow us to reach even more worlds.”
“That’s the problem with dogmas, sir, they don’t allow for a better mousetrap. But maybe they should, I’m sure the Society would like to be able to colonize them all.” Fabio replied.
“Careful now. You managed to spread your dreams under the Society’s feet and we must now tread softly as to not risk the collapse of it all and that will anger a lot of people. If we go against the books and accept the new pairings, why shouldn’t we resume the experiments that created them? That would make the book more incomplete as new pairs are found, maybe even wrong in some eyes. Do you start to see the implications?”
“I do. It wasn’t my intention, I was just trying to help balance itself out.”, Fabio said, looking down the empty cup of tea.
“Unfortunately, good intentions or not, word of your findings has spread a lot further and faster than we expected. Soon we won’t be able to contain who knows. I could force you to collaborate in discrediting the pairings. Or discredit you to a point where it seemed impossible you would ever be able to make a seedling grow.”
“But…?” Fabio asked, reluctantly.
“But I happen to agree with you and cannot deny the benefits of your findings.”
“I think I have an idea, sir.”
“We are gathered here to bestow upon Fabio Maldoran the title of Chief Botanist aboard the Society’s latest Treearrow. For his services in finding among the archives the final chapters of the Holy Books. Fabio, in his relentless pursuit of knowledge, has made the ECOS whole again. For years we wondered why some planets were out of our reach, the answer was of course in the Holy Books as expected. As a token, we present you with this golden scissor, symbolizing the new era of colonization ahead of us. Your department will study the final chapters thoroughly and provide the fleet with the necessary adjustments so that we can cleanse the entire space of impure biomes.”
The crowd cheered. The doubtful voices were silenced. Chaos had been avoided and a renewed vigor now bolstered the ranks.
“Not bad, not bad at all.”, said Rick.
“How do you like my ambitions now?” Fabio asked, arms open, showing the ceremonial clothes.
“I know it was you. The Chief ordered you to dispose of everything but you didn’t, did you?”
“Let’s just say that I didn’t do a thorough enough job.”, Rick replied.
“And I suspect your incompetence was on purpose.”, Fabio laughed, “come work with me. There is a lot to do, a lot of experiments to perform. Will you help me unlock the true potential of Nature?”
“So, more Heresy?”
“Up until very recently, Fabio’s work remained hidden. It was all brought to light during the Great Knowledge Rift. The records of the experiments had to be registered but it was too late for the repercussions they feared, nothing happened.”, Akira said.
“So Fabio played a major role in History.”, Rishi said.
“Well, not really, his success was a coincidence. Just nature doing what it does best. Someone else would have stumbled upon the same findings eventually, and it would probably have played out the same way, just with different names.”