Colanders and strainers

Guin had spent four straight sols in the lab.

Although the ISSA Net allowed her to track the progress of her lab experiments from anywhere on Mars, she found a deep satisfaction in being present when her cyborg assistants, part of an integrated network of sensors and computing devices that saw itself as a single unit, reported the results.

For a while, Shadowgrass had fallen into the habit of naming Guin’s assistants Huey, Dewey and Louie, just like he named his appendages and any objects that naturally fell into a group of three.

Guin observed the metabolic rate of the latest algae strain.

She often liked to take unnecessary chances with her body while exploring Martian terrain well outside the rescue perimeters of the colony but when it came to her research she was overcautious, repeating experiments to eliminate any chances for black swans to appear out of nowhere, fully cognizant of mistakes that had taken place on Earth when a few nanoresearch experiments went out of control, escaping laboratory conditions, combining with GMO crops to wreak havoc in local ecosystems, killing off living organisms of all shapes and sizes indiscriminately.

She fed the algae to an artificial stomach that had been grown to simulate new Martians like her who depended on less water to convert matter into energy.

The stomach easily broke down the algae with no known toxic effects on the stomach’s cellular structures.

Guin reviewed xeriscaping research that had started on Earth and been split into experiments conducted simultaneously on Earth, the Moon and Mars.

Starving plants and animals to the point of death, seeing how body processes were slowed down, the bodies themselves experiencing longevity off the charts because of reduced metabolic rates.

Guin spent the next two sols moving the algae to the Mars enviromental simulator, watching for, hoping for signs that this strain would survive more than a few simulated seasonal cycles before decomposing.

Shadowgrass came to visit, sneaking a taste of the algae.

He wasn’t pleased but knew taste was of secondary concern at this point in the colony’s development.  They could always use the 3D fast food printer to create a facsimile of food her parents had grown up with, sweet and salty to the tongue, palatable but not nutritious, providing a much-needed stimulus of the senses to keep their bodies mentally-energised.

Sometimes, Shadowgrass ate bits of Martian soil for variety.

Guin waved at Shadowgrass and asked him for his help, realising more and more that his analytical skills surpassed hers at any age.

“Shadowgrass, darling, have you made any effort to create your own terraforming life structures?”

“Yes, Mom, I have.  They’re growing out by the greenhouse, if you want to see them.  In fact, they’re almost exactly like this algae you’ve got here, but they’re growing awfully slowly.  I think my water substitution algorithms didn’t account for the chemical structures correctly.  I’d like your advice, if possible.”

“Sure.  Give me two more sols, will you?”

“No problem!  I’m going with Dad on an expedition so I’ll see you in three sols.”

“Be careful.  Don’t do anything…”

“‘I would do.’  Yeah, I know.  Don’t forget, though, that I’m much more easily repairable than you!”

They laughed together.  She hugged him and pushed him out of the lab.