From the author: Sometimes the future is actually the past
To: Cal.Whitcom NutriGene 084.1353.29785 Gamma Sector
From: Del.Manu NutriGene.GenEng 324.9093.092 Epsilon Sector
I agree, the news is dire. With the further degradation of the central data banks and the failure of the East generator, we risk not being able to produce enough food for the colony. What’s worse, NutriGene’s profits are down!
As you know, there is an ongoing project in GenEng to comb through some of the older sequences in the FoodCubes for possible expression of enhancements. We both know that expectations for this activity are low; however, I'm pleased to report that I have located exactly the type of potential gene we were looking for, locked in the FoodCube genome.
We may never know the original purpose of the sequence, but I believe we can express to produce a sort of shell or covering around a growing Cube. Shell is not quite the right word, nor is skin exactly (Can you imagine the FoodCubes with skin? Ha ha!), but maybe the closest thing to imagine is more like a scalp.
My hope is that, with the addition of an innate protective layer, NutriGene may be able to cut back on some of the clean room procedures, thus displaying a significant cost savings. I don’t need to tell you this is a significant expense in the production of Cubes.
Early tests look good, and I’d like official approval to go ahead with a full-scale trial.
I’m delighted that our successes with the FoodCube Protective Layer have brought more attention to the art of expressing dormant and forgotten genes, something that has been sort of a hobby of mine for a long time. The additional resources will aid immensely.
Already they are paying off, as the team you gave me has found a way to express a Nutrient Extraction System for the Cubes. The Nutrient Extraction System connects a Food Receptacle via a tube to an Absorption Chamber, which allows the nutrients to enter the Cube internally. This has the potential to revolutionize the Cube market, as it may allow us to use a more abundant (cheaper) feed supply than the old, intravenous method.
Naturally, not willing to leave well enough alone (ha ha!), the team managed to express not one Absorption Chamber, but four, for added efficiency!
As I like to say, it’s not what’s in the genes, it’s how you use it!
We have indeed solved the bulk feed transport problem with good old fashioned GenEng science! Bot Taley managed to express four Mobility Posts on the bottom of the FoodCubes, which allow us to bring the Cubes to the food, instead of the other way around. That’s thinking outside the Cube! (Ha ha!)
In fact, we are currently running a trial to see if the Mobility Posts combined with the FoodCube Protective Layer and the new Nutrient Extraction System will allow us to actually bring the Cubes to a cultivated NutriGrass grid outside of the NutriGene facility!
Imagine the possibilities!
Unfortunately, Bot Taley was carried off in this morning’s food riots, and we haven’t seen him since. Also, one of the replicator robots has developed some kind of blinking light. We think that either means it’s overdue for some kind of maintenance, or possibly it is trying to illuminate the area, now that some of the overhead lights are going out.
GenSafety is just finishing the report on the investigation now. Long story short, NutriGrass causes an excess of stomach gas in the FoodCubes. There is a gene for an exhaust port, but we did not express it.
I take full responsibility. In my excitement, I forgot the gold rule of GenEng: haste makes waste.
I hope this minor (but messy!) setback will not diminish the enthusiasm for this project.
The Central Processing Unit over the Food Receptacle is now complete, and the FoodCubes (or should I say FoodRectangles these days? Ha ha!) are now able to perform food gathering and waste removal tasks on their own, almost as alive as any robot. It is truly a triumph of modern science!
No matter how many times I have seen it, watching our little black and white babies totter back and forth to the NutriGrass on their Mobility Posts, I am struck with a deep sense of awe over what we have wrought.
I am truly grateful to have helped bring such a futuristic creation to the NutriGene product line. I hope it is not out of line to say that I feel I have contributed positively not only to the FoodCubes division itself, but possibly even saved NutriGene as a whole (to say nothing of the starving colonists!).
My services are now in great demand, but I will always remember my time in the Nutritional FoodCubes division. There is some talk over in Sweetners that we may be able to grow a plant that actually produces High Fructose Syrup! Can you imagine? These are amazing times we live in.
Anyway, thanks for everything.
This story originally appeared in Every Day Fiction.