Richard found himself working on a number of things that might never be used. That was somewhat normal, as most of the work he had done resulting in failures, with only a few things actually being useful for some Noxians. However, in this case it was a bit more depressing, since Richard was confident in his successes. Over the past several years, there had been much discussion over the Noxian’s future options. All of those who mattered agreed there must be some significant change, but most were still hesitant about how exactly to go about it.
Richard maintained that his original idea was the best… if rather ambitious. He knew how immense of a project changing an entire planet was… but if the Noxians put serious effort into it, they could do it. Fortunately, they had done a good job of cataloguing the various forms of life that lived on Nox. There was enough data to determine various categories of things that the life on the planet needed to live. This ranged from basic things like oxygen to more bizarre toxins. Of course, not all of the toxins were the same, or they would be almost completely useless in killing other species. Noxians themselves could handle most of them, though their sapience was what put them in control. If there had been some other life form that could handle absorbing and releasing most of the toxins, they would have been nearly guaranteed survival as a species, but not necessarily much more.
Richard was working on finding compounds that could take the place of the toxins in the necessary functions of the various plants and animals. In a way, the toxins could also be called nutrients. Overabundance of different vitamins or minerals in other species could also be dangerous, but it wasn’t quite the same. Regardless of what the compounds were called, they weren’t as stable as others, and were more likely to build up to dangerous degrees. When certain compounds performed different tasks, it would require more engineering to distribute a change. Richard continued his work, even though it might not be used. He couldn’t make the choice for them… but he could make it a viable option.
Of course, Richard was not alone. Even with all of the overlap in required changes, it wasn’t possible with the work of one man, or even a few. Some people believed that his plan was the best… and some still assisted on the research even if they didn’t personally agree it was the best idea. Even the royal faction hadn’t totally decided. Elena was in private agreement with Richard, but even her rather progressive family was hesitant about the proposed ideas.
Richard couldn’t blame them. It was a hefty decision, and even though Richard was working to make it possible, he wasn’t sure exactly how he would have felt if he was responsible for making the decision instead of just enacting it. Even if everything went perfectly, it was a huge change. The chances of it not going perfectly were pretty much guaranteed. The ecosystems would change at different rates, and different individuals might react differently to the changes. In the Noxians themselves, they could be cared for by doctors to help resolve any complications, but over the scale of the planet, many plants and animals would die. Of course, any such planet wide change couldn’t be administered by personally administering something to each plant and animal, especially sea creatures. They would have to use nanobots, but they couldn’t be guaranteed to perfectly reach everywhere.
There would be large loss of life, but Richard thought it might be better than the other options. Though it wasn’t a good one, the Noxians could choose to do nothing, and then they would die out in a handful of generations. They could continue to just stave off the problems, and they might last dozens of generations… or they might not. They could leave the planet and genetically alter just themselves, which would also be a massive undertaking, probably requiring generations as well. This sounded like the most attractive option for the planet Nox and its other inhabitants… but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case. As with any planet inhabited by a sapient race for a long period of the time, they were now inextricably tied to how the ecosystem worked. The planet might eventually reclaim cities that suddenly became empty, but there would be consequences that might cause as much loss of life as trying to make the planet adapt.
Some people would have still called for the latter option, and let nature sort it out, but Richard knew nature was cold and uncaring. More than that, nature didn’t actually have a will. The influence of sapient lives on other life was just as much a part of the natural order as predators eating prey. That didn’t mean Richard thought being uncaring about non-sapient life was correct, but just the opposite. In the natural order of things, individuals or groups only looked out for themselves. Thinking, sapient life had more of a responsibility to care about others, because they could. He wouldn’t say that sapient lifeforms were always a net positive on the other life around them, but they could be… and should be.
Of course, sapient life wasn’t always a net positive on its own species, let alone the local ecosystem or other species of sapient life. That was why there were wars and other problems. It wasn’t even a problem of limited resources, but sometimes just how easy it was to get resources… even if going a few systems further could get all parties involved plenty of whatever it was they wanted. The galaxy was big, and even with so many species constantly propagating, it wasn’t full. Perhaps there were even more species around… and Richard only hoped there would always be more, and not less. Hopefully, Noxians would make the best choice… even if it wasn’t necessarily what he thought was best.