PHD #248: Pond Scum
Pond Scum
Summary: Down in hydroponics, Lunair, Marko and Leyla discuss the future of food in the fleet.
Date: 01 Nov 2041 AE
Related Logs: Hydroponics logs generally.
Leyla Marko Lunair 
Storage Closet 8-014
This small storage closet has been transformed through months of effort into a modest floating garden. An assortment of plants hang in trays, water running through their roots; misters go off periodically, giving the room a damp, clean feel. The lights are ample, but not blinding — and they're faintly warm, too, when the misters don't pipe up. The plants are in various stages of growth and blossom, but only a few currently dare to extend hopeful tendrils. There also exist a few rows of pots for those plants that don't handle hydroponics particularly well, though these are not nearly as numerous by any stretch and seem to be limited to a couple of rows on the left wall. Two whiteboards on the port and starboard walls detail the various projects currently being undertaken, while the rest of the walls are home to cupboards and shelves bearing impromptu plant-growing supplies: notes for cuttings, mist bottles, inventory of seed and cutting stock, and the like.
Post-Holocaust Day: #248

"Oh for _frak's sake_!" Marko grumbles from beneath one of the hydroponics beds, upper body disappearing into the tangle of tubes and other miscellaneous gear. "I just fixed this pump two days ago! Why is it….Oh….it isn't….It's _this_ one…" he sighs. "Frakkin' things are going to be the death of me, I swear."

Lunair knocks on the hatch. "Incoming," She announces quietly. She pokes her head in and blinks. "Again? Gods, they weren't like this before. Did we show everyone how to work them that needs to know? I can't honestly believe …" She seems worried. "Are you alright Marko?" She's in off-duty greens and miraculously, these days Lunair's hair is coming back - in tiny, shy dark curls. She slips inside the hatch.

"We need someone fulltime to work on these things. There's got to be some farmer in that hangar who can make these things do what they're supposed to be doing." Leyla is, at the moment, being a tool girl, handing over whatever Marko requires, as she sits on the floor not far from where he's working his repair magic. And eating cookies. Lest those be forgotten, or drenched with plant water. She's doing the cookies a favour, really. By eating them.

"Hey, hon! Yeah, we've got another one acting screwy." Marko grumbles. "I think I can fix it without pulling it…gimme a sec." he calls. "I think that's one of the reasons they wanna move the project from here to the civilian ship." he adds for Leyla's benefit. "Over there, they can dedicate a lot of manpower to it's care and feeding than we can here."

"My love, you are ALWAYS fixing those pumps. Are they really that bad?" Lunair lifts her eyebrows and puts her hands on her hips, looking bemused and annoyed. "Nothing indicates they should require this much work honestly, unless the lowest bidder strikes again," She notes unhappily. She smiles at Leyla.. "Hey there. How's it coming? It's good to see you." She seems pleased to see them both.

"Have you considered asking the people working on the freighter to help you out with parts? They've got plenty of supply over there, from what I've gathered. And it's unlikely that this place is going to get closed or torn down. If for no other reason then that they need a secure location for the more…sensitive plants." Like the poppies they brought back from Sagittaron. "Saving the fleet goes both ways." Leyla looks across, as she hears Lunair's voice, taking the time to munch another cookie. "Marko hasn't lost any fingers, so I think it's going well."

<FS3> Marko rolls Repair: Good Success.

"Heh, scoot a little closer, Sweet Pea." Marko calls, "You're not quite inside kicking distance." he chuckles as he picks up first one too, makes an adjustment, then another tool, making an adjustment with it. "Ha-ha! There we go!" he crows happily. "Actually, I think the real problem is that so much of this was made up as we went." he notes. "Wasn't a single person here besides Lunair who knew beans about hydroponics, so we hadda improvise. A real hydro expert would probably take one look at this rig and collapse with laughter."

"Well, that's true," She considers. "And yeah. I'm working on keeping Tisiphone's plants here too," Lunair looks to the rows of potted dirt and plants. "I think it's healthy." Saggies like dirt right? "And good! I like my husband in one piece. We've only so much duct tape on board and I do not think the dealership would take him back," She jokes softly. She pauses and smiles as he makes an adjustment that works. Lunair pouts at that. "I did what I could. We didn't do badly. For a small scale hobby garden, these would be fine. For a full on food supply… not so much," She considers. "It's a lot of load on a pump. And besides, we're experts. Kinda." She grins.

"If you want an expert on hydroponics, you probably want to speak with Ms. Ibhanas, she's a civilian down in the hangar deck. She's been the civilian lead for the hydroponics project. Apparently, she's suffered some blindness from radiation poisoning, but I don't see that that would hinder her ability to walk you through things, tell you what you need to change or adapt to make it work."

Marko begins the agonizingly slow and awkward process of making his way out from under the bank, careful not to disturb any of the pipes, tubes, pumps, et cetera that make the whole thing go. "Sounds like a plan to me." he notes, pausing to negotiate his way past a particularly low-hanging pump. "We've been talking about trying our hand at some cereal crops." he adds, grunting as he barely clears the thing. "Fruits and veggies are great, but bread's been a staple of the human diet for, what, a hundred thousand years?" he comments. "If we can make it go, and I dunno if we can, I dunno that much about cereals, then we'll be really set."

A smile at that. "Yeah, I met her. It's honestly kind of selfish, but … a lot of good people have volunteered time for this," Lunair admits. "And I always felt safe just hiding amidst mom's garden," She laughs softly. "I'm sad she hasn't recovered then. She was getting a little better. She'll have lots of assistants and I cleared Dr. Cameron to go to the civvie friendly areas," She admits. She smiles at Marko. "Fresh bread. Gods, I'd wrestle a dozen hungry Marines for some," She teases lightly. "I think that honestly almost anything can be grown hydroponically. The issue is space. Grains are not small plants," She points out.

"I don't think space is really going to be a problem on the freighter. We're looking at what…240,000 metric tons capacity? Even if we cut that down by half, say, for civilians, that's still a huge area. Large enough that crops were grown and maintained on the ship during the winter months on the planet." Leyla moves out of Marko's way, as he gets out from under all the tubing and wiring and such. "No one going to be taking this place away from you."

"Well, the plan is to use this lab as the test bed." Marko says, grunting a little as he finally worms clear of the undergrowth of the pods and sits up. "Then, if it proves successful, move it to the civilian ship for mass production."

Hmm. Lunair rubs the back of her head. "That's true. And no. I won't be head of the project anymore, but I suspect no one will begrudge me a few trees," This pleases Lunair intensely. "And I reserve full rights to sit in the mist sometimes," She likes it here. Then a nod at Marko. "We may end up taking over the Deck. Dr. Cameron mentioned keeping a few strains of the most important plants too in case blight hits them on the civilian ship. You never know what someone has on their shoes," She considers. "It's shocking."

"That's probably a good idea. Keep the seed crops here, and make a sort of doomsday vault of seeds and such to propagate new plants if the existing ones are damaged in some way. Of course, if you want my help with it, you are looking at the wrong person. Weeds wouldn't even grow in Derry." Still, Leyla can think about it logically and offer advise, even if she likely has a black thumb to go with her black country background.

"I agree….Wait…." Marko says, nearly interrupting himself as his hamster wheel of a brain starts to spin. "Wasn't there a project like that on one of the colonies?" he asks, rubbing at the back of his head. "I mean, that's probably long gone now.." he adds. "But, isn't there a method to keep seeds usable?" he asks. "Refrigeration! That's it! Yeah….it was on Caprica….this bunch of scientists were chucking seeds into a vault built on or near a glacier…"

"Well, also sproutlings and plants that are ready to go in the event something does happen. Having a starvation on either ship would spell massive trouble," Lunair notes. Riots, hungry folk… it could get ugly. She lifts her eyebrows at Marko's project information. "Huh really? I might ask around about that. It seems like a super good idea." Then a smile at Leyla. "That's alright, the company is nice too."

"I think Ms. Ibhanas mentioned something about algae or something. Some sort of food source or something. To tell you the truth, it was so far out of my ken, I didn't even bother to ask her for clarification." Which isn't unreasonable, considering the metric frakton of work on Leyla's plate. "I also eat samples."

"Algae for food…." Marko replies, pulling a face and nearly gagging. "Yeah…that's what I want….potted meat substitute and a nice coating of pond scum for breakfast…" he shudders.

"It's probably like tofu, it takes on whatever flavor you want it too," Lunair considers. "It's easy to grow in quantity and used in a myriad of things. If you've ever had anything with a gelling agent, like processed ice cream or jell-o, that's algae." She explains. "Spirulina is one of the most nutritious foods in the whole universe as well. It can help with blood cell loss during infections, reverse certain poisonings and stuff like that. Not something I'd wanna eat all the time but… it's good for kids too." A shrug. "Just don't remember seeing it on the bottom of pools." Grin. "And that's handy." She looks amused.

"If its nutritious and it keeps us alive, I don't really care what I eat. I really don't understand this fascination with fresh food and meat off the bone. Food is food. If it gives you what you need to live, what does it matter what it tastes like?" Leyla settles in, handing around the tin of cookies. "Except for these. If these tasted like tofu, I'd be pretty upset."

"The difference between what I call tofu and what I call 'algae' is significant." Marko replies firmly, standing up and giving a mighty stretch. "One's good with soy sauce and fish, the other's scraped off rocks."

"Have you ever had seaweed or kelp around your fish?" Lunair sticks her tongue out. "And I don't know. There's just something about fresh food. But I could be a spoiled person," She admits. Then a soft laugh at Marko. "Sorry. And well, it's just nice to have something that makes you smile when you eat it. Taste or not, fleet rations aren't gonna last forever." No more factories. "But I won't pester you guys too long."

"If we could find a way to make protein or ration bars, maybe out of this algae, if you say it's a lot like tofu, that could go a long way towards keeping us fed. Of course, if we make it back to Tauron, we'd have canned food for days. A lot of places that's all you can get. Nothing's fresh." Leyla too rises, "You're not pestering anyone. This is your place."

"Heh, they may not last forever…but I'll have to get pretty hungry to willingly, knowingly go for a pond scum appetizer." Marko chuckles, cracking his back in another big stretch. "Okay, that's all the damage I can do to this Popsicle stand…"

"Nothing lasts forever, strictly speaking. And then we just won't tell you," She teases Marko gently. Lunair looks around. "It's … a lot of people's place now," Notably, her eyes fall on Tisiphone's potted plants. "But even I work sometimes." She smiles. "I'll see you two around. Be careful with those pumps, I'm going to come in and find you washed away."

"We'll try to hold on against the flood, Lunair." Leyla waits for Marko to get himself settled, before she turns to offer a farewell to his wife, "Come on, Flasher. There's some paperwork I need you to go over." Aw. She does care. Exchanging manual labour for a deskjob.

"You see that?" Marko asks Leyla playfully, jerking his thumb towards the businesslike Leyla. "I gotta live with that…" he sighs with mock drama before scurrying over to give his wife a properly snuggly, kissy farewell.

A soft laugh at that. "It could be worse," She teases and winks. Lunair returns the farewell, though her face goes bright red. She gives Marko a final hug and waves. "Be well. I'll have to bring a treat by if I see you at the desk. Love you dear," Beam.

Leyla at least has the decency not to look while Marko is making his farewells. Truth to tell, she doesn't seem particularly interested in the first place. She is interested in gathering up her things, before she makes her way towards the hatch, "I'll see you over in storage, Marko."

"You too, baby." Marko says, snuggling once more. "Heh, if you know of any available young male officers…." he purrs. tilting his head in Leyla's direction.

A little snuggle. Lunair looks amused. "Well, I don't know if she's into younger guys. You should find out what she likes first," She winks, whispering and waving. With that, off she goes.

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