Le chapitre 40
In response to Xu’s request, Desai found himself again wandering the plains that surrounded the Hab. With this, Xu was ensuring that someone from the Hab continually, physically visited their immediate region. It ensured that everyone on Earth knew what they were claiming. He thought it odd that territorial rights were such a concern given the difficulty that they were having in ensuring a continual stream of supplies just to keep the colonists alive. “How could any other group on Earth claim land on the Moon. And equally, why?” he thought. Yet he did know that the BRICS Aerospace consortium (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) was planning to land a second surveyor on the Moon’s northern pole. Rumours were that these robots were a precursor to their lunar base. Which would become a direct competitor to theirs. And he thought of the radio observatory on the Moon’s away-side as they called the side that always faced away from Earth. The observatory was to be built with no human assistance; it was fully assembled by mechanized, remotely-controlled robots. Yet the colonists had been advised that they were the rescue team should the robots need aid. “Funny how people are now serving the needs of robots” he mused as he carried himself confidently across the lunar scape.
In a positive sense, he was glad to be physically active once more. Their treadmill was on the fritz ever since he had run into the screen. He had little opportunity to really move while in the Hab. Thinking of the treadmill made his mind wander back to his encounter with Valentina. He’d known he’d been overly provocative and shouldn’t have goaded Valentina as much as he had. While rueful, he did feel a certain smug satisfaction that he’d got his point across and that Valentina ended up bearing the brunt of the blame. He was thinking that maybe it was time for a change in their team make-up. There were a lot of volunteers just waiting to join them. All he had to do was to convince Valentina that she’d be doing more for the colony by returning to Earth than by staying on the Moon. And he had a conduit. His connection to the aide of her boyfriend Max would start paying dividends. Using him he could have Valentina back on Earth. And his own preferred substitute in place. With this dedicated support he should have enough sway to get the colonists to follow all his wishes. This was where he wanted to be; the decision maker of their little venture rather than some shoddy farce of equal representation. He could feel his feet wandering about the inside of his boot as his energy and emotions took him along faster and faster. He would need to slow down otherwise his heart monitor would sound an alarm at the Hab and then he’d have to explain to Xu. He was getting tired of her continual intrusions and was looking forward to running the show a bit more to his own liking.
His feet continued their path toward the distant outcrop. While he knew that it was only a few hundred metres away, he still couldn’t judge the distance properly. He had been surprised to learn that on Earth people use vegetation, usually trees, to judge intermediate distances. With no trees on the Moon, he was left guessing. By using cleanly swept outcrops, hills and valleys, a lunar walker as he now was, tended to over-estimate the distance. He could however use the map overlay that projects the distances directly onto the inside of his helmet. With this and a good amount of previous surveying, he could quickly see his relative location and distances to all the significant features. Somehow he felt he was cheating when using this so he typically walked without it and tried to estimate the time needed to get to his destination.
The slight gradient wasn’t even noticeable. Both he and Woof kept a constant pace during the ascent. At the peak, he stood by the rock outlay and gazed across the shallow valley that swept in front of him. The Sun was at his back so his shadow made for a diminutive figure. He waved and his shadow waved back. To the side of his shadow, he could see the much smaller outline of Woof. He fought back a sudden urge to pat Woof’s head. “It’s only a machine.” he joked. He spent a bit more time drinking in the view; scanning slowly from as far as he could turn without being blinded by the Sun, then fully across to the other side. Back at the Hab he would compare the scans to previous to determine if anything changed. Sometimes, though very rarely, they’d see a new small slide on the side of a hill or some other minute evidence of activity. With the data, they were building up statistics that could tell them the likelihood of a meteor strike from some careening space debris that had wandered into the Moon’s path. This data would give him the evidence he needed to support his desire to remain in the Hab rather than tunnel under the ground like a rat. He turned and headed to the second vantage point. Woof kept tagging along. Both being barely noticeable against the vast , desolate landscape surrounding them.