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Holograms and Plants (Part 2)

Posted on Fri Mar 7th, 2014 @ 11:18am by Lieutenant JG Joshua Hoss

Mission: Green Thumb
Location: Hydroponics Lab
Timeline: After Launch


Kala walked into hydroponics, not exactly sure what to expect. She hadn’t spent a lot of time in this particular lab, even though she was actually fond of plants. In fact one of the few things she missed about Bajor was the flora, with all the unique flowers and plants. The fact that she was going to be working with a hologram, something she had never done before on any extensive level, was also contributing to her dread. A malfunction hologram at that.

As she entered she observed the lab empty except for the hologram. Finagle had assumed, on most occasions when he was working, the appearance of a human male who was younger in age. The other hologram, Murphy, looked like the stereotypical scientist, with white hair and wrinkles everywhere. Kala might have thought Finagle was attractive with his blonde hair, blue eyes, and solid build, if she were into that sort of thing.

As she approached Finagle she noted that he was watering a plant, but that his left foot was halfway materialized into the pots base. Kala sighed to herself. Well at least the first test would come quickly. Lt Hoss had asked her to help fix the holograms, and in her mind the first step was to get them to realize they were having problems. She was no engineer, but those were in short supply with the issues all over the ship. She would have to try her best.

“Hello Finagle. How are you today?” Kala hadn’t really interacted with the holograms much, but didn’t know what else to say.

Finagle turned his head slightly towards Kala without stopping the watering. “Petty Officer 2nd Class Kala Meru. I am unable to answer your question.” With that Finagle turned back to watering the plant.

This is why she didn’t talk to people Kala thought. They always made things more difficult. The stupid hologram couldn’t even answer a simple question. She shouldn’t have agreed to Hoss’ plan. “First off, you do not need to use our rank when talking to us like this. Second, you can tell me how your program is holding up when answering that question. Third, your foot is not properly materialized.”

Finagle looked at his foot, then stepped back, removing his foot from the pot. “My apologies. My sensors were not properly calibrated. As for your question, my programing is running at 76% efficiency and is stable at this moment, Kala Meru.”

“Just Kala is fine Finagle. What are you watering?” Kala had noticed the plant, which she thought was very beautiful. It had bright red, spongy stems with multicolored flowers on the ends. The plant stood about half of her height including the pot. Kala thought she could smell a faint scent, almost vanilla like. “It is a pretty plant.”

“This is the diomedian-keela scarlet flower. I am unable to comment on its beauty.”

“I’ve never heard of it before. Where did it come from?”

Finagle had stopped watering the plant, placing the water canister down and turning to face Kala. “The diomedian-keela scarlet flower is a crossbreed between two individual plants, the diomedian scarlet moss which is native to the Alpha Quadrant, and the keela flower, which is native to the Delta Quadrant.”

“I’ve seen the diomedian moss before. Isn’t it extremely difficult to grow?”

“According to Starfleet records the diomedian moss is a favorite of skilled botanists for its difficulty to grow.”

“But what about the keela flower. What is it, and why mix it with the moss?” Kala was genuinely interested. She had always found genetics interesting, and the lure of having a newly engineered plant on board was too much.

“The keela flower was found to have near impossible to break stems, making it very easy to grow in almost any conditions. The scarlet moss is difficult to grow because it requires nutrients to be gathered from the air, not water or soil as is the case with most plants. The keela flower does not have the same requirement and gain nutrients from almost any surface.”

Kala nodded, still not getting the answer she was looking for. “Right, but why even put the two together in the first place? What is the point?”

“Scarlet moss was found to have a highly developed immune system. Starfleet scientists had run several tests on the immune system, finding it highly resistant to many viruses and even several primitive nanoprobes.”

Kala whistled softly. “So they were making an anti-borg plant. Sounds like something Starfleet would do.” Kala stepped closer to the plant. The soil inside the pot was more like mud after the watering, and the excess water had begun to spill out of the back of the pot. “Finagle, who much water does this new plant require?”

“Due to its highly tolerant and efficient nutrient feeding, this plant requires only 4 ounces of water a day to survive. It can get that water through the soil or though the atmosphere.”

“And with our current environmental settings, can I get enough moisture from the air in this room?”

“Yes, it would get more than enough.”

Kala sighed, barely holding her temper in check. “You stupid hologram, you didn’t need to water it then! It shouldn’t even be here. It should be in the arboretum” she yelled at Finagle. “Computer, deactivate hologram Finagle”.

Finagle vanished, leaving Kala alone. Great she thought to herself, now she was going to have a flooded plant to deal with. Kala walked over to a nearby desk. “Computer, sequence plant fertilizer. Computer, please remove excess water from diomedian-keela scarlet flower.”

Kala watched as hoses came out of the wall to suck up the excess moisture. Flooding could lead to many problems with plants, including loss of moisture and fungus development. Remembering what Finagle had said about the strong immune systems of the plant, Kala decided that fungus wouldn’t be any issue. Kala walked over to the plant, noting that the soil was now much dryer. She administered the fertilizer, replacing any nutrients lost from the water.

Kala thought about how her new assignment was not going well so far. She hadn’t done so well with the hologram, and the plant was probably in distress. She wondered what Hoss would do if she walked back into his office and told him she wasn’t going to do it. She hadn’t known him that long, but got the impression that he wouldn’t be happy with her failure. Maybe she should have tried a bit harder. After all, Hoss hadn’t stuck her with a real person. She could be thankful for that at least.

“Computer, reactivate hologram Finagle.”

Kala watched as Finagle materialized. To her amazement he didn’t come back where he had left but instead was moved about two feet back. Right on top of the diomedian-keela scarlet flower. Typical hologram errors. At least Finagle looked right this time.

“Finagle; you are on top of the plant.”

Finagle stepped towards Kala and out of the plant. As he did so he vanished for the slightest of seconds. “My apologies Petty Officer 2nd Class Kala Meru, my sensors are not properly calibrated.”

“Just Kala, remember? Drop the rank and last name.” Kala sighed. “Can you run an internal check to fix your sensors?”

Finagle responded quickly. “I can.”

“Then do it” Kala said just as quickly. “You would think an intelligent program like yourself would have thought of that and fixed the issue already.”

Nearly two hours went by while Kala waited for Finagle to respond. She kept herself busy in the meantime by checking on the scarlet flower and the other plants in the lab. She saw that the soil had appeared almost desert dry and made a note to recalibrate the suction hoses later. When Finagle finally responded Kala was caught off guard.

“Sensors calibrated for hydroponics lab.”

“Good, so we shouldn’t have any more issues?” Kala wouldn’t believe the answer either way, but felt like asking.

“Sensors at 100% accuracy.”

Kala nodded. At least thing were looking better. The hologram might actually appear where it needed and the plant seemed to have dealt with the moisture just fine.

“Kala, sensors are detecting several unauthorized plants in this lab.”

Kala turned back towards Finagle. “What do you mean unauthorized plants? This is a hydroponics lab. I thought your sensors were working better, not worse.” Kala almost hit herself in the head with her hand.

“Sensors are at 100%. I just completed a scan of the room to verify. During the scan sensors picked up several plants that are not on the hydroponics plant list and that are in unauthorized locations.”

Kala faced Finagle again. “Where is the closest one?”

Finagle walked towards the wall nearest Kala and pointed towards the floor corner. Kala walked over to where Finagle was pointing. Near where corner met the floor was a bright red, spongy looking plant. The plant was about 20 centimeters long and had what appeared to be a flower forming on the end. Kala grabbed a tricorder and scanned the plant. “It is a diomedian-keela scarlet flower. Finagle, can you tell me if all the plants you say are unauthorized are the same species?”

Finagle angled his head sideways for a moment before responding. “They are all the same species.”

“Well, what species are they?” Kala almost yelled.

“All unauthorized plants are diomedian-keela scarlet flowers.”

“And how many are there?” Kala asked with a growing sense of fear.

“Currently there are 14 unauthorized plants in various locations in this lab. Incorrect. There are now 15 unauthorized plants in various locations.”

“How many when you first scanned?”

“At that time there were 4 unauthorized plants.”

Kala’s eyes began to widen. This wasn’t good, this wasn’t good at all.

=/\=Kala to Hoss. I need you in hydroponics immediately.

Finagle motioned towards Kala. “Kala, there are now 18 unauthorized plants.”

(To be continued...)


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