Le chapitre 38
Xu rechecked her manifest against the deliveries in their latest supply rocket. Part of her was again amazed at just how much material was needed to ensure their survival over such a short period. The remainder of her was rapidly confirming that each container had arrived and was intact. Even after a few deliveries, surprises kept them on their toes. For instance, the container vessel from the China National Space Administration included a good luck charm that had disintegrated on launch and contaminated the interior. The Agência Espacial Brasileira had used a pure oxygen atmosphere inside their cargo container as a way of sending more oxygen to them. However, there was no way to syphon it off so it had escaped directly into space. This time, the delivery was from the Indian Space Research Organization and was, as wonderfully understated by many of her predecessors, nominal.
With a few strokes on the keyboard, she accepted the cargo and instructed the robotic transfer system to relocate the contents to where they were needed at the base. In a slight twist, this container vessel had been designed for re-use. Once empty, the container vessel, or chamber, would be removed from the lander, tilted onto its side and positioned into the entrance-way of their underground shelter. The chamber would become the vestibule and its main role would be as a dust barrier. Given that the walls and ceiling of their excavation had proven to be wonderfully robust, they were looking at making the space a clean room for some lunar industrial fabrication and research. The main goal of the research today was to determine the most efficient way to seal the interior surfaces of their refuge so that they could pressurize it with a breathable atmosphere and thus be able to work in shirt sleeves. Fortunately, the immediate sub-surface of the Moon was close to -35C which had been predicted. Based upon this, they would need very little energy to bring the ambient temperature in the refuge up to a pleasant 20C. Jean had designed a passive, radiant block heater mostly made from local materials. With this, and with the vestibule in place, they will have taken a significant step to achieving Valentina’s design.
Xu smiled inwardly and thought of all the time that the four of them had put into contriving their shelter with enough space and function for their survival but still with some artistic qualities. The prolonged debate between Ionic and Corinthian columns was just one instance of them enjoying the chance to mix pleasure and function. For now though, she had simply to wait until the robots emptied the container vessel before setting the robots onto the task of moving the chamber to the shelter’s entrance.
Having finished accepting the cargo, she could return to her own interests for a brief moment. Chief among them was her desire to smoothly transition the additional two colonists into their lives on the Moon. Part of her imagined the pleasure of two new people sharing their social network. They’d bring with them a new perspective, new desires and new passions. Yet at the same time there’d be new jealousies, new phobias and just plain discontent. The four colonists knew the pool from which the two new colonists were to be drawn. Each of them had their preferences. In a certain way it was almost like dealing with children at pre-school; who will like whom and who will fight with whom. While the final decision would be made by a committee on Earth, the four of them were providing opinions and her’s would probably be the most influential as she was the nominal leader. It felt a bit like she was playing Russian roulette with their future. Some potential candidates had great personal skills and would be wonderful to have with them. Yet they brought very little in the way of new skill sets. Others would fill in some gaping holes in their capability but personality conflicts loomed large. Her first choice was Porthos a general purpose medical doctor from Seville. In addition to being a first class, sought-after practitioner, he was also adept at PCB design and repair, especially for robots. Challenging him was Gyvan, a registered nurse from Manila. He had an incredible wealth of experience in repairing bodies given the civil unrest in the Philippines. But he also had a certain disdain for authority and control. Equally inviting for Xu was Siobhan, a botanist from Cairo who was as comfortable in the Sahara as she was at the Antarctic research stations. She’d bring a lot of ideas and ingenuity and an extremely feminine presence. But Xu had an uneasy feeling about her and no idea as to why. Last in her final four preferences was Murdan, a spiritual healer from Old Delhi. His charism was incredible and he had a vast number of followers both in the Indian sub-continent and throughout the world. Adding him would certainly raise the profile of, and donations to, the Lunar Colony Fund. But Xu wasn’t sure if the benefits would justify the expense. Apparently Murdan had a habit of losing himself into spiritual bliss for hours at a time. This may be inconvenient and possibly even dangerous in their Hab. Nevertheless, Xu was drawn to him, his dreamy eyes and that amazing imagination presumably based upon the Kamasutra. She was going to have to think a little longer before sending her recommendations to the selection committee.