Adam looked up from the microscope and blinked his eyes. He could have done a holographic projection, but he enjoyed doing things the old fashioned way. The microbial life on Rukblau was amazingly diverse. It was going to take him years to catalogue it all. The thought terrified him and thrilled him at the same time. At least he won’t be done and twiddling his thumbs in six months. Adam stood and stretched his back, arching a bit like a cat. He looked over at Eve dusting off another sample.
“I could never understand why people find the fossil record so fascinating,” Adam said. “I mean, I understand the appeal of knowing where the life around you has come from, but well, it’s like trying to figure out a great painting by analyzing the dead organisms that make the paint colorful. It’s missing the bigger picture.”
Eve looked up at Adam and grimaced. “I think you’re missing the big picture. The fossil record tells us how this planet arrived at this moment in time. From there we can infer patterns and cycles that might help in the future to keep our life viable. That and I look at it as more of a mystery to be solved,” Eve said.
Eve went back to dusting her sample and Adam walked to the window to see better outside. “Oh, and while art is nice and all, it is ultimately useless. It is one of the fallacies in our species,” Eve continued.
Adam gave a short laugh and turned around. He gestured a few times to wake up the computer. “Bring up Marniat’s Skyfall,” he said. The holoprojector produced a large multicolored three dimensional image of a comet shower over a ringed world, the rings showing large holes from the passing storm of cosmic debris. “Are you saying you don’t find beauty in Marniat’s creation here? I heard it took him thirty years of tinkering to create this exact holo, except he did it with real materials in a zero g chamber to get the realism of how the rings would rip and shatter.”
Eve glanced up before returning to her work. “I didn’t say it wasn’t beautiful,” she said. “I said it was a waste of time. With thirty years applied to something, anything else, who knows what Marniat could have created that would have had a real world practical use. He could have found a way to stabilize the teleport gates. Instead he figured out a way to make a very pretty picture.”
“So all work has to be practical?” asked Adam with a bemused smile on his face. “What about your garden out there? You spend an awful lot of your precious time arranging it.”
Eve sat up straight and gave Adam her ‘Are you really questioning me?’ stare. “That garden is arranged according to your data with respect to classification and species. I have made sure that the species that use the same pollination carriers are clustered in similar locations. Plants that show some resistance to certain fungi and pests are clustered around those that are most vulnerable. I am basically trying to prove out what I believe are your educated guesses.”
Adam smiled at her and didn’t say a thing, the twinkle in his eyes showing he was laughing on the inside. Finally Eve let out a large harrumph. “Fine, they also look pretty that way,” she said. Adam burst out laughing. She continued, “Laugh all you want. That is still done in my spare time. No one will pay me large amounts of money for that. It is just for my satisfaction.” Eve gestured to the hologram. “Unlike Marnait. That was his life’s work. He lost his wife, his house, almost his very existence in pursuit of that creation.”
Adam’s laughter faded abruptly into choking. “Wait,” he said, “you know about Marnait?”
“Every art major knows Marnait,” Eve said. “Otherwise you don’t become an art major.”
Adam’s eyes almost bulged out of his face. “You were an art major?”
This time Eve’s eyes sparkled with inner laughter. “Two years, before I finally realized how much of a waste of time it was. Then I reapplied myself to a more noble pursuit. “
“Looking at rocks?” Adam asked. “I might question your decision on what was more noble.”
The lights stopped dancing in Eve’s eyes. She stood up and stepped into her professional governing role. “Questioning nobility? Same could be said of you Dr. Durst when you left those colonists to die because of your ego. I expect your weekly report on my desk tomorrow, and I mean the week here, not the standard one. You need to get used to the fact that this is your home for eternity, should you live that long.” With that she stormed out of the room.
Adam gestured rudely at Marniat’s Skyfall and the holo ceased to exist. That didn’t help with the way he felt, so he picked up his microscope and threw that at the wall where it smashed to bits very nicely. Adam was definitely getting better at handling the gravity difference after these six months. Centering himself with some deep breathing, he gestured again.
“Command?” toned the computer in a very silken female voice. It sounded a lot like Alice. Normally Adam loved the fact he now had a small piece of Alice here under his control, but now it just made him feel angry at himself. How many more times could he screw up something that was going well just because he was too smart for his own good? At least that’s how he justified it to himself when he allowed his guard to come down just a little.
Shaking his head to clear it, Adam looked at the pieces of his research and the dent in the wall it had caused. “Generate communications to Liam Harvadash, Off World Coordinator, FBC. Message: Liam, there was an accident in the lab. I need a new confocal microscope. The old one is now inoperable due to operator error.”