Challenge #02021-E197: Volatile Situation

in #fiction3 years ago


“Umm... water?”
“Water. The highly corrosive, extremely reactive liquid.”
“I mean, yeah. But...”
“Oh that? It’s fine. Just the carbon dioxide in the air making it slightly acidic.”
“Define ‘slightly’.”
“Umm... ph5 ish? So about x100 more concentrated than pure water? It’s honestly fine, if you think this is bad, you haven’t seen the ACTUAL acid rain on earth. That shit corrodes everything!” -- Anon Guest

The argument had been going on for some time. Not every species in the Galactic Alliance has a natural water cycle, and the results can lead to some interesting debate. It typically starts with, "Life just can't exist with a water cycle," followed by, "I am literally evidence against that statement."

Water ice, to the Propanite population of the Galactic Alliance, is deadly stuff. Toxic, reactive, and outright dangerous. Capable of causing great damage if heated. Capable of causing great damage even in its solid form. And worse happens if it's allowed to combine with extra oxygen and hydrogen molecules.

The human had a livesuit that kept them warm in the Propanite's ideal temperatures[1]. "No lie. Liquid water comes out of our skies. Your rain? We used to use it for fuel. Now we use it to make long-chain hydrocarbon items for everyday necessity."

"You are biologically impossible," argued Th'roth.

"We'd argue the same about you, pal."

Okay. That won that one. Th'roth considered Human Lyz. There for the engineering challenge of creating a solution to work at low temperatures that wasn't as deadly to the Propanite populations as the one they were using now.

"We use your rain to dissolve substances when mining," explained Th'roth. "Very dangerous, making liquid dihydrogen monoxide, and using it in our atmosphere. Leaks are deadly."

"Yeah, they would be. And this is pure water, too. Of course it'd carry off most anything in solution. And the re-purification procedure would suck balls, too. Well. For you guys." Human Lyz made a sucking noise. Which usually indicated something expensive about to happen. "Have you thought about just using high-pressure liquid methane to cut your rocks? I mean, sure, it's a little extra in the refining process, but... no more water-related explosions."

Th'roth boggled. This was exactly why anyone hired these Deathworlders to do anything. They could take their existing -and often insane- solutions and reroute other cognsicents' conditions through them to suit whatever obstacle was in their way. And do so in a manner that left the consultee wondering how they hadn't thought of that.

"We would have to re-engineer the refinery, but... using less dihydrogen monoxide is always preferable."

"Pretty sure we can use advanced chemistry to synthesise a solvent that won't need high temperatures to operate," breezed Human Lyz. "And a method to make it that's likewise cold. For you? Warm... ish. Possibly a little squinch too hot. We'll do our best."

Th'roth looked up the Human measurement squinch. It was not defined, but suspected to be 'uncomfortable surplus'. But the Galactic Dictionary also said that Humans misliked an unsolved problem and actually competed to come up with better solutions. All the time.

Give them a handful of years, and they would be looking at the mining operations here, and wondering how they could improve on their best.

[1] Around 97 Kelvin. That's approximately -180 Celsius or -292 Fahrenheit.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Catmando]

If you like my stories, please Check out my blog and Follow me. Or share them with your friends!

Send me a prompt [39 remaining prompts!]

Support me on Patreon / Buy me a Ko-fi

Check out the other stuff I'm selling