Hello, friends!  Welcome back to the A to Z Challenge.  For this year’s challenge, I’m telling you more about the universe of Tomorrow News Network, my upcoming Sci-Fi adventure series.  In today’s post, O is for:

OXYGEN SHEATH

It should not surprise you to learn that oxygen is one of the strongest oxidizers in the known universe.  For some of us, that makes oxygen a source of biochemical energy and a necessity for life.  But for many other life forms, oxygen’s oxidizing power is too much to handle, making oxygen a deadly poison.

There’s not much middle ground here.  You either need oxygen to survive, or oxygen means instant death, depending on whether your species evolved in an oxygen rich or oxygen poor environment.

When human colonists first arrived on Litho, they set up generators for a static oxygen sheath: a force field bubble that keeps Litho’s natural atmosphere out and holds an artificial oxygen atmosphere in.  The oxygen sheath isn’t perfect.  Near the oxygen sheath’s perimeter, you can smell ammonia seeping through.  And of course, all the alkaline dust particles covering Litho’s surface still pose a bit of an air quality concern.  Colonists are encouraged to wear nose filters whenever outdoors.

But the biggest concern related to the oxygen sheath has to do with Litho’s native life forms: the scrubby, slimy cyanomolds.  Those cyanomolds evolved in an oxygen poor environment.  Oxygen should kill them.  And yet, for reasons that remain unclear, the cyanomolds are thriving under the oxygen sheath’s influence.

Litho Colony is now partially surrounded by a mold forest.  Giant, bulbous masses have swollen up, with coral-like fringes and lots of creeping vines and tendrils.  To some, it’s a disgusting sight; to others, the cyanomolds have their own alien beauty.  Like so many things about life, it’s a matter of perspective.  But if left unchecked, the cyanomolds would spread rapidly across the colony grounds.  Keeping that mold forest under control has become a real nuisance for the colonists.

Next time on Tomorrow News Network: A to Z, we’ve already met young Milo Marrero.  Now it’s time to meet Milo’s dad.

14 responses »

  1. Frédérique says:

    Hmmm, maybe cyanomolds found a way to get rid of invaders…
    O is for Oya

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      If the cyanomolds were intelligent (which they’re not), I don’t think they’d see humans as invaders. They seem pretty excited about the oxygen sheath, at least. The problem is that they’re a little too excited about the oxygen sheath. They’re like weeds, and the colonists just have to work hard to keep them under control.

      Like

  2. Hmmm.. cynomolds are good adapters. The colonists must be careful

    Liked by 1 person

  3. @breakerofthings says:

    Hi James,

    Incredibly strong challenge this year – very much looking forward to seeing the book!

    Giving you a shout out over at FCBF.

    David
    @Breakerofthings from
    Fiction Can Be Fun
    Calling by as an A2Z supporter

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pradeep says:

    Maybe there should be some way of checking the cyanomolds!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anne Nydam says:

    I like the idea of a forest of mold! But admittedly I wouldn’t like it if it were taking over my yard.
    (Click the Blog link on the second row) : P is for Puddle

    Liked by 1 person

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