Kadvin And Marla

“On Jupiter Station, we are all fed by the Scarcity Program. At first we utilised an aeroponic sphere, although the first several designs were unsuccessful. Now that I think about it, Jupiter Station has several such stories, it’s kind-a built on trial and error!”

Kadvin lay listening with rapt attention at first to the history of the only thing keeping them from the raw vastness of space. Her mind didn’t wander off all at once, the view of Jupiter glowing in the sunlight, information offered in a gleeful delight from Marla. “You probably know all about the Coelp that sustained all life after the Flares… If it wasn’t for those aquatic Cores, I don’t know if our species would have survived! Anyway, we didn’t really wanna make a pool in a glass bubble in space”, they paused to giggle which provoked one from Kadvin, “so we went a different route.”

All Kadvin knew about the Scarcity Program had filled her with joy, her memories even trickling back to her in a distracting way as she tried to listen. She knew about Coelp, though she didn’t interrupt at the moment to explain. In Aquanaut training, Core Kelp, or Coelp, had been the majority of her training, in safety, in collection, and in exploration.

In the absense of coral, and of sealife larger than a thumb, Coelp had flourished, creating vast forests of towering sequoia sea weeds that ranged in the hues of pinks and purple, prairies of shrub-like curly fronds that housed the only sealife to survive the deadly scourges: invertebrates. These too had taken on brilliant colors in the pitch darkness, to find each other, to communicate and copulate, to confuse enemies and confound prey, bioluminescence shattering the unforgiving darkness and exposing the first Aquanauts to horrors they only imagined, distracting them from the true danger, that kelp could grip onto an ankle, or the tubes that were the external makeup of the first Tardigradium suits. By the time Kadvin had come along, no-one feared great lurking monstrosities in the darkness, but the dangers of the seaweed forests were still heavily impressed on each new generation.

The first Aquanauts had also tried to catch and eat the shimmering creatures in the Cores, but due to a diet composed mainly of phosphoric Coelp, they were entirely unpalatable, bringing a sharp stinging taste and inability to smell to all those unfortunate enough to try and add them to the dinner plate.

“At first, we just focused on growing our own vegtubers and we did find some things that worked, but there was SEVENTY TWO living people on the station when it started!! Can you *imagine*? Seventy Two! We feel overpopulated at twenty eight now!”

Kadvin gave an appropriate, but internally distanced, “Oh Wow!”, her thoughts now back in the bellies of the Cores, and the first day the Scarcity Program had been taught in her class. . .

She was in year six when the Rotation Engineers had decided to open up education widely throughout the galaxy about the inner workings of their society. They had judged that keeping knowledge a secret was harmful to the continuation of a people who were equal, or as equal as anyone could make it, as not even thousands of years of being human could resolve every flaw endemic to the race. Things like greed, and superiority, were harder to embrace in a world where giving was second nature, and everyone experienced hunger, but of course, they existed. And knowledge was one of the most powerful balms available for these rash decisions.

‘The Scarcity Program is a centralised food provider, that takes account of every known life in the galaxy when proportioning rations to all those known and unknown.’

It hadn’t even made sense, at first. How could there be a ledger that recorded EVERYONE? But throughout the year, things had been explained. The Ledger didn’t actually track every life, although every person who was born inside their Galaxy was welcome to sign up. It wasn’t compulsory, and food would still be provided to those who chose not to interact with the Ledger’s Logs.

What it did provide, was an example, enough of an idea of how many people were where, that the Rotation Engineers had cobbled together an old farmer’s book (mostly it discussed the weather but it had some wonderful common sense in it) and their finest of computers, to provide the very best insurance possible against absolute starvation. This system organised resources, developed pathways, and even suggested better crops for different Core climates. And it had worked. In the middle of the great aristocracy, the Scarcity Program had come out from the last ditch effort to save the universe as they knew it — and it had succeeded!

“. . . So by the time we finally figured out how to grow using solar mold, we were SO sick of eating tubers that no-one ate a single vegetable dish for DAYS! I think I was the first one to break down and make a soup, but that’s only because I wanted noodles.” If Marla had noticed Kadvin’s inattentiveness, they didn’t feel the need to comment on it. A rush of guilt that she had missed the entire belly of the story gnawed at Kadvin, enough so that she stood, letting her head adjust to the new amounts of blood flow available, and trotted over to Marla with a sheepish smile.

“It sounds like you’ve had quite some struggle to get where you are. Have you been through anything scary yourself?”

Published by Cornus

Queer, goofy, nonbinary.

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