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Horticultural Lab

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This is a scene about work and cooperation. At some point, it was decided that the old Buttery would be repurposed as a Horticultural Laboratory.

one impression of the Horticultural Lab as it is 'now' can be found here

here is another impression, which may or may not be accurate:

Everyone was involved in some way or other. What were you up to?

And how did you feel about the work?

Starbear (Robot, She/Her)

Starbear is very excited because she realises that what she had been seeing were in fact images of the future. She saw this lab at once when she entered the buttery. She thinks this fern she collected (from the future?) may have the answers. She asks anyone if they have any knowledge of ferns.

Ferin (Robot, They/Them)

- I do not know what this concept of "work" is

- ...

- there is being and there is not being

- being involves processes which we must be and do to continue to be

- (or not be, or both)

- In this lab we are being in unique ways

Emily (Human, She/Her)

- I loved watching the plants grow. The patient practicality. Also though, sometimes I was impatient and careless. I was glad that there were more capable gardeners that I could secretly crib from.

Mad Curator

I’ve been reading about the importance of reading to plants to stimulate their growth. So that’s what I found myself good at doing: reading to plants about how it is important to read to them... I mean, look at that rosemary! The bush was a good listener.

[points at an enormous plant, climbing the walls of the laboratory. You can see it moving as it grows]

Ferin (Robot, They/Them)

When Starbear asked about ferns, Ferin naturally responds for they are both organic and inorganic. A symbiotic being. I can tell you more about this fern and future.

Lucille (Human, ix/ixs)

- It is odd for me to work with others rather than for others. I was involved in setting up the heating system that keeps different areas of the laboratory at different temperatures. I worked with Pockets on this

Pockets (Cephalopod. It/s)

I find a damp, dark corner of the buttery and settle into it, spreading my tentacles out over the floor and up the walls,

I stay still for a long time,

I do not know how long,

I think about how the small particles coming out of my suction cups are helping the moss to grow,

I sleep, and when I wake up I am camouflaged by the plant life that has grown over and from my body,

Starbear (Robot, She/Her)

How exciting! Starbear eagerly listens to Ferin – she loves to learn more about growing things. She has learned that the fern is like a pattern of itself, the small unfurling into the large. She remembers the work of a prophet she once read "Ferns are a form of fractal. A fractal is an object or quantity that displays self-similarity, which means it looks roughly the same at any scale. Small-scale solutions impact the whole system. Use similar principles to build at all scales".

Lucille (Human, ix/ixs)

- Somewhere inside me, I am envious of the others’ ability to relate so intimately to the life inside the laboratory

Pockets (Cephalopod. It/s)

Once I have a bodily reading of what different kinds of plantlife require, I go to Lucille to ask for assistance with engineering the heating and humidity systems,

Starbear (Robot, She/Her)

Ferin (Robot, They/Them)

- [In order to learn about the fern,

- Ferin had taken the fern and embedded it in one of their patches that grew across their skin

- It disappears gradually, overgrown with biolumiscent matter

- They offer no explanation and no information for a while

- When they teach Starbear about the fern,

- they remove the fern from this matter and hand it back

- It appears unchanged]

Pockets (Cephalopod. It/s)

I haven't worked with systems like this before, but ix is a good and patient teacher,

I feel we work well together, quietly,

Starbear (Robot, She/Her)

Starbear thinks that Ferin looks wonderful covered in lichen, she wonders whether she could gestate cephalopods alongside lichen, she takes a cutting surreptitiously (another habit from a past life).

At a certain point, as you worked away, tiny purple fishes quietly appeared everywhere, swimming busily and silently through the air.

Despite their energy, they moved very slowly.

It was as if they were a dream unfolding in front of you, or following the logic of one, like steps to a half-remembered dance.

Ferin (Robot, They/Them)

- My being in the lab is to grow,

- to listen,

- to communicate all things heard/unheard,

- felt/unfelt,

- seen/unseen

- But I am often found kneeling in the dirt,

- hands spread,

- unmoving,

- seemingly silent

The fishes appeared unaware of their surroundings, but potentially susceptible to them. How did you respond to this occurrence, how did you feel about it?

Starbear (Robot, She/Her)

Starbear thinks that Emily might be interested in learning about how ferns grow. She does not consider that flying fish are not more interesting than ferns, in fact she thinks they are not, fish are very easy. She shows Emily lots of fern pictures on one of her screens.

Mad Curator

[stops reading and looks at Ferin’s operation]

Maaaan! How does that feel? I once had a dream that I was eaten by flowers, by daisies to be precise...but becoming-one with a plant! That’s sick!

[face lit with mad excitement]

Ferin (Robot, They/Them)

- [Ferin does not seem to respond to the mad curator or the purple fish

- not that anyone can tell]

Emily (Human, She/Her)

- I love learning things from Starbear but also my attention keeps being snared by these fish. I try to grab one but my hand goes right through, and then, just as I'm disappointed that they are merely illusory, the fish turns back and nips me on the finger.

Mad Curator

[shrugs: no answer = no problem; turns attention to the fish. Has an idea]

Pockets (Cephalopod. It/s)

When the small purple fish appeared, I was working on humidifier maintenance with Lucille,

I involuntarily dropped the tools I was holding in three tentacles (causing a spray of steam to shoot out of the humidifier), and produce a small glistening net from one of my pockets,

Mad Curator

[Picks up a piece of rosemary and tries to feed it to the fish]

oh fishie, fishie, fishie...

[makes petting noises]

Lucille (Human, ix/ixs)

- I am unnerved but I'm quickly distracted by trying to repair the leak in the humidifier

the fish compliantly nibbled at the rosemary

Ferin (Robot, They/Them)

- [while all of this occurs,

- Ferin is patching together organic networks throughout the ship

- They can feel

- ...

- the entire ship and are aware that there something else here

- What it is eludes them

- It is merely a presence,

- it does not answer or respond in any way to probing through the networks]

Starbear (Robot, She/Her)

Starbear humours Emily's interest in the fish by trying to catch one and store it (she has a special area for egg laying creatures) however, she too finds the fish swimming through her fingers. She is interested to see whether Pockets will have more luck.

Pockets (Cephalopod. It/s)

I manage to loop the filmy opalescent net around one of the fish, zipping it closed into a little bubble which floats above my tentacle,

The little purple fish swims in laps around the bubble,

Eventually, the fish seemed to swim away, or perhaps fade out of existence.

It was hard to tell.

Either way, the Buttery was soon a Horticultural Laboratory.

Now and then, the barest glimpse of tiny purple fish was reported around the ventilation system, but otherwise they appeared to have disappeared.

The lasting trace of their presence remained in the form of the fish caught by Pockets.

Pockets (Cephalopod. It/s)

Now I have it, I'm not sure what to do with it,

"What should I do with it?" I ask Lucille

Mad Curator

[wows and is generally amazed with the response of the fish. Now examines his surroundings... what else would it eat? Has an idea. Tears a corner of a page from his book — with a drawn image of rosemary on it — and offers to the fish]



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