The display beeped confirmation, drawing Joshua’s attention. “The results of the soil deionization are,” he sighed, “negative.” He rubbed his eyes and growled in frustration. Joshua removed the sample from the analyzer and slammed it on the table. They’d been doing soil analysis for roughly a week with no results.
In the days following the council meeting, the council administration had been more receptive to Joshua and Dawa’s presence. The council admitted they knew about the contamination of the aquifers and began to strategize with Joshua on a solution.
Dawa had, for the most part, been a diligent lab assistant, but that morning they’d been doing final repairs on the Susquehanna and her presence was required for the Starfleet stamp of approval. Judging by the wide smile on her face when she walked into the lab, their work had been more than satisfactory.
That smile quickly faded, however, when she saw Joshua hunched over his lab table, looking thoroughly defeated. “Still a whole lot of nothing, huh?”
“What? Oh, hey.” Joshua said, noticing Dawa had come in. “I’m glad to report I still have a whole lot of nothing. How’re the Susquehanna repairs coming?”
“Repairs are done!” Dawa’s smile came back in full force. “I did the final inspection myself, and I gotta admit they surpassed my expectations. Real quality work! They even aligned the self-sealing stembolts just the way I like to do it. Ah, makes my heart glad.”
“At least one of us is making progress,” Joshua said with a sigh. “For the soil to absorb the nutrients, the ion radiation has to be repolarized, neutralizing it. A geologist colleague researching the Century Storm, and he gave me suggestions, but I’m still-”
“Dr. Bryant?” Said a voice near the entrance of the lab.
Joshua and Dawa turned to find a small girl, no more than 5 standing in the doorway. Joshua stood and made his way to her, “I don’t owe you money, do I?”
“Huh?” The girl looked confused.
“It was a joke,” Joshua chuckled, kneeling to her eye level. “What can I do for you?”
The girl took a deep breath, “IwantedtosaythankyouwiththiscardImade.” She said, breathing rapidly. She held a card at arm’s length as if it was a shield between the two of them.
Joshua smiled, took the card, and opened it. Inside there was a stick figure drawing of a man in a lab coat, triumphantly holding a beaker. Taped to the card was a small piece of candy. “Well thank you… Daniellea” He touched his hair, “My hair doesn’t look like that, does it?”
Daniellea shrank with giggles, “No Dr. Bryant, I’m just not very good at that.”
“Well I think it looks great, thank you.”
“You’re welcome!” She smiled and quickly left the room.
When Daniellea left, so did the smile on Joshua’s face. “They’ve been doing that all day.” He said, slumping in his chair. He pulled the candy off the card and turned over the shiny wrapper, letting it catch the light. “I think this is from Maisley’s,” Joshua said absent-mindedly. He opened a desk drawer, revealing a collection of similar handmade cards. He placed the new one with the others.
“I wish the council hadn’t put out that release about the water supply. The people handled it well, but they all look at me like I’m a savior.”
“Yikes!” Dawa wandered over to the desk, shut the drawer, and leaned against it as she regarded Joshua. “Almost enough to make you look back fondly on a few days ago When they were calling you an incompetent liar instead. So now, instead of worrying about a famine scenario three years from now, you’ve got an impending water crisis and a colony full of people thinking you’re the one who’s gonna solve the whole puzzle. Seems like this is way more than you bargained for when you first took this assignment.”
“I started operating out of my depth when we discovered the shadow conspiracy,” he wiggled his fingers. “I’m tempted to pack things up and go home. But that will only make it harder for the next person Starfleet sends here. I just feel bad dragging you into all of this. This was probably more than you bargained for too.”
The console’s display beeped with an incoming message. Joshua acknowledged the transmission and the display were replaced by a Bajoran man in a teal uniform. “Prill! Have you found out anything?”
“I’ve been doing some dig- well hello,” he stopped when he noticed Dawa. “I didn’t realize you had company J.D. I can always send you the information instead.”
Joshua sighed, “This is my associate Dawa Vlček. Dawa, this is Turjon Prillim. Now that we’ve all been introduced, what did you find out?”
“The Century Storm was composed of tachyon radiation which agitated the nebula particles in the Paulson Nebula.”
“I thought you said you had new information.”
“I’m getting there. When the starships were charged with closing the temporal rifts, they used dekyon particles.”
“You’re suggesting I use dekyon particles to deionize the tachyon particles in the soil?”
“I’m saying it’s possible. I’ll send you the simulations I’ve run.” The display was split in half, one side Prillim and the other the simulation results. “It’s not fool-proof, but there is success in the majority of tests. I’d recommend trying it in a remote area first, in case the particles don’t react properly.”
“What do you mean?”
“Check out simulation result… 22”
Joshua pulled up the result and read them, “Whoa…”
Prillim nodded, “You definitely wouldn’t have to worry about the colony’s problems anymore,” he said with a smirk. “Anyway, good luck!” Prillim’s face was replaced by Starfleet’s logo.
Joshua sighed, “Where the hell am I going to find a device to inject dekyon particles underground?”
Dawa shook her head and stared into space, pondering. Suddenly, her face scrunched up as if she’d just smelled something rancid and she tapped her finger on her chin. “I, uh. I might have an idea.” She shot him a glance. “Follow me.”