Le chapitre 30
Xu sat comfortably at the table and nearly drooled at the spread of fresh fruit and vegetables that were laid in front. This has to be the best part of the visitor’s arrival; food that had been growing on Earth less than a week before and now sitting awaiting her grasp. Her fellow three colonists were also comfortably sitting down while their guest Max and the capsule commander, Henri, were doing their best to remain solidly seated in the low lunar gravity. Given the openness of the Hab and the sensitivity of much of the equipment, they seldom had any food in the open; preferring the convenience of re-usable plastic tubes. This open meal followed the same protocol they’d developed for their banquets held after every lunar council meeting. Food choice minimized the chance of crumbs and particles and all liquid was kept in closed personal containers. Something like the spill proof cups given to toddlers. She was looking forward to the feast but she enforced the precautions so that it didn’t come at too high a price.
While gazing upon the food, she found herself remembering her acceptance of the hand-carried container from Henri. The air-tight container held an interesting combination of soil, water and select seeds. This was to be the first of many. She was going to take the container and place it into their underground refuge to protect it from solar radiation. Scientists on Earth had decided to enact a plan to protect terran life forms. As much as the Seed Vault on Spitsbergen preserved seeds for the future, the seed vault on the Moon would do the same thing and include the ability to withstand total-Earth catastrophes. The first container held spores for ferns and seeds for some grasses. Later ones would be for larger, more complex vegetation; some bushes, shrubs and simple trees. She couldn’t help but connect their seed vault with the feast laid in front and wonder what the future had in store for all of humanity. Heavy topics for a celebratory feast but that was how her mind worked.
She smiled as Henri finished his toast and Max wobbled upward with his plastic cup of wine to lead in the traditional ‘clinking’ of glasses together. She joined everyone else, said “cheers” and sat down to begin eating. Most of the food was prepared so she could easily reach in with fingers to a waiting very ripe piece of blood orange. Given their special health status as an isolated cluster, the colonists had all been cleared of contagious diseases and the same was being enforced for all visitors. Because of the close confines of the Hab, the colonists had progressed toward somewhat particular health regimes. They were little concerned about the cross-pollination of diseases while being very concerned about the possibility of introducing diseases. So far they’ve been lucky with not even the appearance of a common cold to slow them up. Hence, eating with fingers was the norm. Her sticky finger dug back into the cornucopia to dislodge another tasty morsel and she suppressed a small shudder as she watched Max and Henri do the same. Somehow, she still considered them as unsafe outsiders who were more of a liability than an asset. She smiled, shrugged and carried on sampling all the different pieces while leaving enough for everyone else. The colonists safety was always at the back of her mind and while sometimes it prevented her from getting a good night’s sleep, she and her colleagues depended upon it.
As the time passed, slowly, ever so slowly, she relaxed and lost herself into the moment. Wine was a novelty and as she couldn’t digest it, she had a small amount of lychee fruit juice instead. Max had brought a unique collection of global music with him and the air was filled with chords and notes. At the center of the table, their artificial LED tree flickered and glowed like an antique candelabra. In a few short hours they would bid farewell to their guests who would go sleep in their own spaceship. Tomorrow, the colonists would host another two guests. The next day, they would host the remaining two guests and the day after, the guests would depart on their 3 day return trip. But for now, she was busy eating, enjoying and contemplating Henri naked and alone with her.