Project Preservation: Re-Greening Free Space (Short Story)
I decided to write a short story, based around Project Preservation, which is an organisation that hasn't been featured in any story and has only been made note of and briefly discussed in some of my world-building posts.
"Here at Project Preservation; we strive towards a greener world; a brighter future; a place where every citizen of Free Space can live happily and comfortably, the way their world was meant to be." The Doshan speaker smiled at the end of her speech. It was bright, toothy, and above all, genuine. Her soft-spoken voice had a way of relaxing the listener; she walked with grace, almost floating above the stage, mesmerizing Jaeger Markell. He wouldn't let himself even imagine the word love, but if he wasn't careful, he felt as though he might fall into a pit of it.
The holo-projections played behind her; cycling through images, which seemed to shift and flash to a new one every time she paused. "I think it's a great idea." He said quietly, almost not wanting to interrupt. In the back of his mind, he wanted to tell her that this "routine" had worked, and he wondered how many times it had been practiced for their arrival. She smiled once more and then turned back to the holo-projections.
"Jex needs a dedicated team of people behind these kinds of terra-forming efforts, they are no easy feat." She continued. "No easy feat for your average Free Spacer, but for a team of Doshans?" One of the members of the crowd asked, and with that, there were a few murmurs from the rest of the potential investors.
The Doshan turned back to the small crowd and folded her arms. "For Doshans? No, it's not as tough. It's common knowledge that my people have a natural aptitude when it comes to fauna. It is still a big undertaking, and it can't be done for free, I'm afraid." The murmurs continued, and it was as if nobody wanted to speak up. From the whispers, Jaeger could tell that things were not going to be smooth for her and her team. The hardest thing to do on Jex these days, was to make people part with their FSTs; it wasn't because times were tough, in fact, the opposite.
Times seemed to be fair, and Jex was experiencing a mini economic boom of sorts; the future was the reason for apprehension, and no one could quite tell how things were going to be, down the line. - there were rumours of a second Confederation invasion of Free Space, which would see all the worlds destroyed or left in wrack and ruin - utter destruction, of which there would be no crawling back.
"Has the government agreed to pay for any of this work?" One Arok female in the audience asked, in a cold and sterile tone. "They did, but there were disagreements about the terms of the deal, so I'm afraid to say that Dr. Zuri Stem refused the offer." The Doshan responded sheepishly. "What were the terms of the deal?" "I shouldn't say." The Doshan replied, but a moment later she held her earpiece and smiled. "I have just been informed that Dr. Zuri Stem is on her way down, to speak with you and answer any questions on matters that I wouldn't be able to answer." The Doshan continued, before stepping back toward the projection and awaiting the arrival of the person in charge of the project.
A few minutes passed by, and the doors of the darkened room opened, allowing much more light to come through for a moment. Jaeger's eyes stung slightly, from them growing accustomed to the dimness of the room. An older Doshan walked inside, dressed plainly, and she made her way up to the small stage area of the conference hall.
"Thank you all so much for being here, and for being so patient. I was hoping to give the tour and talk myself, but I have been incredibly busy these last few days, I don't have to bore you with the details." Zuri nodded to the other Doshan, who then quickly took her leave. "I was asking about government funding, and why there was a refusal to work with them on this project." The Arok female posed the same question, worded in a different way. Dr. Zuri Stem just nodded lightly.
"There were differences of opinions. I believe that this future should be shared with all the worlds of Free Space, but the Jex government believes it should be used as a bargaining chip, to ensure that some of the Border worlds and Outer worlds remain as part of the Free Space Agreement.
"You don't think those worlds should stay, Dr. Zuri?" One of the crowd asked, and to that, Zuri shook her head. "I don't believe they should be forced to stay, or threatened, or bribed. I won't be getting into the politics of the FSA, but I will say though, every world was affected by the invasion, and most have been left to fend for themselves, without the support of worlds that were not so devastated by The Confederation."
The murmurs grew louder and louder, and soon some people in the crowd started to leave. Jaeger didn't know what to think about this situation growing before him. He wasn't ready to put his business's money on the line, for something that he felt wasn't totally necessary. Especially something with no government funding. "I would like to say, while I don't want to get into any political conversations, going against the government in some of these matters, isn't the smartest move, in my opinion. They could close down this project entirely, and if that were to happen, how would we, as investors, get our money back?" He asked plainly, which seemed to slightly stun the Doshan.
"Whatever isn't spent would go directly back to those who paid." She said, staring at him as she finished. "Okay, so, we wouldn't be getting our money back in full. Now, the second point I would like to make, which comes into that last question. I don't see this as an investment, because I can't see it making any money unless we start charging people to take trips into the wildlife of Jex. So, from here on, I would call "Investments" donations." He continued, and some of the crowd agreed, silently nodding their heads. "I call them investments because you would be investing in the future of the planet, and all planets of Free Space. These worlds are our most valuable commodity, and leaving them damaged and broken isn't good enough."
The moment Jaeger talked about the money side of things, and the joke about charging people to visit the wildlife of the world, he saw a flash of an image in his mind's eye. Wildlife reserves, full of tourists from all worlds, recreational getaways. "Speaking of investments, I just thought of something. What if you were to dedicate a portion of the land to resorts, a place for holidaymakers to go and relax, in a safe and monitored environment, which replicates nature?" The Doshan nodded lightly. "Yes, I think that could be doable." "I would put money in if it meant I could open up some of these types of resorts, and we could potentially open them up, all throughout Free Space, once Project Preservation reaches these worlds of course."
"I would invest also if I could have a few portions of land dedicated to hunting, I can imagine that being a big business, a way for people to engage in some sport." Another person in the crowd responded, with his own idea. "No, that isn't what I would be interested in." The Doshan replied.
"The world is a big place, the majority of the land would still be free and safe for creatures to thrive, and only a small percentage would be hunted. I have enough money to fill your goal right now, and we can start to make a difference throughout Free Space, just as you and your team have wanted to do for a few years now."
The Doshan seemed like she was about to faint at the prospect of the entire goal being reached in one go, between only a few investors too, meaning there would be fewer people to please in the future. She shook her head to their responses but then stopped for a moment.
"I will have to get the agreements drawn up, and lay the ground rules down. But, okay. It's for the betterment of our worlds, so okay." She spoke quietly, her previous confidence was buried beneath her compliance.