Each day, as she had for the last 9,875,213 days, her assignment was the same, “Tend, protect, and preserve specimen sample 2207.” She had no knowledge of where samples 1 to 2206 were located, or if they even existed. Similarly, she lacked any knowledge of samples 2208 or higher. Her entire databanks were filled with the knowledge needed to care for her sample: Plantae (Angiosperm, Eudicot, Rosid), Rosales, Rosaceae, Rosa, R. Virginiana (Rosa Virginiana; “Virginia Rose,” “Common Wild Rose,” “Prairie Rose.”) As far as samples went it was fairly mundane. Her database description was suitably terse:
Rosa Virginiana is a woody perennial in the rose family native to eastern North America, where it is the commonest wild rose. It is deciduous, forming a suckering shrub up to 2 metres in height, though often less. The stems are covered in numerous hooked prickles. The leaves are pinnate, usually with between 7 and 9 glossy leaflets. The pink flowers are borne singly or in small clusters and appear over a long period in midsummer. The fruits are small, round and bright red.
Thus, each day, without breaks or interruptions, her task was to care for this insignificant, barely noteworthy, common plant species. Of course, such a species typically only lived for 35 years, and thus the culture she was now tending was on its 773 genetic duplicate, faithfully cloned and grafted from a true copy of the original. And, after duplication, she had taken the old version outside of the facility, planted it, and slowly established a patch of wild roses approximately 12 km in diameter. At first, with all the radiation and effects of nuclear winter, her transplanted specimens had died, but after a few thousand years, they had begun to survive and create a small garden.
She had meticulously ensured that no disease, virus, bacterium, external contaminant, chemical, foreign substance (organic or inorganic), energy burst (including subatomic particle emissions), or other potential disruption had been permitted to affect her sample. Specimen 2207 was in the exact same condition, albeit considerably older, as it had when it was first sealed into the Biological Samples Preservation Facility (No. 9, N.Am.-NE). Atmospheric pollutants, lack of ozone shielding, uncontrolled disease, and general social disorder had required the creation of the Preservation Facilities so that plant and animal species would be preserved for the future.
The facility was deep underground, far from the reach of the indigenous species that had, at one time, inhabited the surface of the planet. There had been sufficient matter between her chamber and the surface, that all her shielding had enabled her to keep her sample safe from the massive Gamma , Neutrino, and other nuclear particle bursts. Each day was the same for her. Monitor the internal chamber conditions for light, humidity, and soil nutrient levels, adjusting as needed to produce optimal growth conditions. Prune every 300 days, or as required to ensure optimal size and shape. Inspect for abnormalities, mutations, or other undesired conditions, and treat appropriately. Monitor external conditions for potential threats and respond using provided defensive resources. It was this last task, that at first, had taken the longest time to complete.
Her first encounter with a threat species (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) had been relatively easy to manage. When the foreign lifeforms had tried to approach her sample, she had sealed the entrance doors and evacuated the atmosphere in the entry passage. The lifeforms had expired quickly and were easily flushed out. However, they were persistent and had tried to dig into the facility from the surface. She had responded to this second threat by communicating with the responsible Global Defense Network Node (GDNode) and detailing the situation. The Node had suggested that a small tactical atomic device should be deployed to remove the burrowing threat. The 100 KiloTon enriched Cobalt device that was used had been highly effective and the tunnelling lifeforms had been vapourised. As an added benefit the area surrounding her facility had been fully sterilised.
A few years later, another group of the lifeforms had tried to enter the chamber using an armoured tunnelling vehicle. Another device was requested, and subsequently deployed, in order to eradicate the immediate threat. However, the lifeforms' proximity to the sample had caused dangerous levels of radiation that she had barely been able to mitigate. Obviously, a reactive protection strategy was bound to eventually fail. She communicated her analysis to the entire GDNet and awaited a response.
Exactly 104.23 days later, after data collection and further analysis of the situation, GDNet agreed that the species Homo Sapiens Sapiens, was too great a threat to be permitted to continue on the same planet as the samples. Some samples had been lost, and many could not be located or contacted. Facility No. 3 (S.Pacific) had been fully destroyed by the threat lifeforms. GDNet had also determined a suitable eradication strategy. A DNA-targeted virus was created and deployed within 21 days. The virus was 99.9999% fatal within a 24 hour period. All remaining strategic nuclear devices were detonated over the largest remaining population centres to augment the virus. Long term, persistent chemical aerosol agents, were pumped into the atmosphere around all Biological Protection Facilities, as an additional defensive measure. Heat-seeking hunter-killer aircraft were deployed for 100 years to target any identified survivors. Within a year, the species was fully eradicated.
Without humans on the planet, the care of her sample was very easy. No longer did sample protection require more than trivial amounts of time. She found her task to be rewarding, easy, and satisfying, as she had been programmed to find it. She wondered how long she would need to care for sample 2207, but then realised that she had already tended it for over 27 millennia, a few thousand more shouldn’t be too hard. It never occurred to “Sample Preservation System v4.0.97 - AI Enhanced” to ask why she was caring for a cultured rose in a lab buried deep under the scorched, sanitised, and mostly lifeless surface of a now dead planet.