The Illusion of Progress

Posted on Sun Aug 4th, 2019 @ 3:45am by Lieutenant Commander Nolan Marc & Commander Martin Sorenson & Isabella Cerin

Mission: Wrong Place, Right Time
Location: Deck 19 | Stellar Cartography
Timeline: MD02

The ship's stellar cartography lab was a massive complex.

Spanning three decks, the lab was a shaped like a bubble. A platform interjected across the middle, forming an observation deck around which an in-depth holographic planetarium could then be projected in three dimensions. While the primary astrometrics lab on Deck 10 was the preferred location for raw data synthesis and analysis, stellar cartography provided a better visual environment for actual informational products.

Before today, Nolan had never even heard of Paenope VI. The Federation colony there was abandoned before he had joined Starfleet. In theory, any way.

The small, blonde haired Okinawa boy stood at the end of the platform. Using a small padd in one hand, the child-like scientist brought up an enlarged image of a planet adrift in space. The holographic generated Paenope VI dominated the entire room, overlaid with a variety of text that popped up to display a variety of meteorological and oceanographic information. "This is the archival data for Paenope VI," Nolan noted, gesturing broadly as he allowed the trio of individuals a moment in which to absorb the so-called CliffNotes of data points that they were being shown, before continuing, "Because of the deuterium processing, Federation policy required environmental impact studies be conducted every four years."

"What you're looking at is 2364," the boy noted. Glancing down, he tapped a quick sequence into the padd. The text overlay shifted, though the only visible difference was the increase in the population number. "And no differences of note in 2368," Nolan remarked, craning his head to look up the display. Then, turning back toward the trio, said, "The next study should have been 2372, but it was never scheduled because of the war."

Glancing down, the boy tapped the padd. This time, the overlay was visibly different. As was the image of the planet itself, as the colors of the planet shifted from green to brown. "This is Paenope VI currently," Nolan noted, a hand pointed up at the meteorological data set as he continued, "Neucleogenic composition of the atmosphere is consistent with Class M designation, but the vapor and soil characteristics both show toxic features."

A wave of his hand, and the planet seemed to rotate and expand, as the orbital view was replaced with a massive landscape cutaway, illustrating the strata and mantle. Here, Nolan highlighted the oceanographic data. "Globally, deuterium levels have increased roughly two hundred percent. Planetary average is five hundred parts per million, with the highest elevations noted in the vicinity of the processing stations," the boy remarked. Turning back toward the trio, he added, "The presence of deuterium and tritium in the soil is consistent with indications of mass microbial extinctions."

That last statement probably told them everything else he had to say, without him needing to say it. But he continued on. "Global vegetation has been reduced, leading to desertification across the regions occupied by the former colony, as well as an increase globally in carbon dioxide levels. The resulting dust storms produce particulate matter that contributes further to global warming."

Lowering the padd, the child paused as he looked back at the holographic illustration. Then, after another moment, turned back as he concluded, "Simply put, this planet's basically Class L for all intents and purposes. It'd take a terraforming project about a hundred years to repair the environmental damage of the last thirty."

"And because an evacuation order had been given, no one ever went back to check until now." Martin sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose as the he mentally ticked off the major health effects - mutagenic and teratogenic impacts on any children born there, which would be few at least given the expected decrease in fertility and increase in miscarriages, COPD spectrum in adults, possibly even cancers depending on how limited their medical infrastructure was by now, not to mention all of the attendant effects of malnutrition... "We'll need to have treatment for radiation exposure, respiratory disease, nutritional deficiencies, and God alone knows what else has emerged from that kind of long term neglect."

Picking up on the comment about nutrition, Nolan noted, "Because the colony model anticipated subsistence farming, I doubt their replicator stock was ever intended for more than temporary shortages."

"And after this long, undoubtedly depleted entirely." Izzy posited. "What level of contamination and effects are we dealing with for shorter term exposure? Should teams on the planet be prepared to work in protective gear?"

"Not necessary at those levels," Martin said. "But anyone going down should have booster shots and a few additional immunizations to be safe."

"If we assume their agriculture is struggling severely and they've depleted any replicator stores; for short term relief efforts we should begin replicating emergency rations and potable water supplies from our own." Izzy added a note to her PADD, and addressed the comment to the grizzled looking Ferengi seated near the edge of the gathered personnel, Vesta quartermaster Noj. "Medical supplies too." She added with a nod at Martin.

"I'll check with aquaponics and see what's fresh on hand," Nolan noted aloud. "Speaking from personal experience, the arrival of a rescue team isn't always met with welcome. But some fresh fruit might go a long way in getting invited in."

"A good point," Martin noted. "I'll make a point of bringing along some vitamin fortified lollipops." Thinking of handing those out to kids who rarely saw any sort of treat, he cracked a sliver of a smile for the first time since the briefing began. However, it also put him in mind of something learned from his own personal experience "Whoever is passing out the real food will want some extra security though - people living with scarcity for this long can get ...pushy... when supplies arrive." To say the least. Riots weren't unknown. In fact, he'd be grateful to get there and find that there hadn't been a revolution or gangland type war over resources.

Nolan gave a nod.

Then he paused.

"Hey!" the tow-headed Okinawan complained sharply, glaring daggers up at Martin as he added, most seriously, "Why do the possibly illegal colonists get lollipops and all I even get is 'oh, you're overdue for blah-blah hypospray?"

Seriously, who was running the medical show here? And what HMO did he need to join to get on the lollipop program? At least then he'd have more of a reason to stop by Sickbay...