Le chapitre 44
Desai was looking at the plans for the other facility at the lunar north pole. “In stark contrast to their Hab this facility looks dangerous” he thought. He wasn’t surprised. He’d learnt that a consortium of aggressive nations and organizations had funded the northern development. Where their southern facility had been designed to minimize cost and tolerate risk, the northern facility looked like a veritable fortress. So far only robots had descended upon the site. Their actions resulted in rammed dirt walls appearing everywhere. And just recently a lander had delivered what seems to have been a structure. It wasn’t a large structure. But the robots had pushed it up to where two walls joined and made a corner. They were now pushing regolith onto its roof. If the regolith was for shielding then Desai knew that it was meant for people to live. He carefully closed the file with the plans and cleared the cache from his computer. He didn’t want his colleagues knowing of the file and more importantly he didn’t want them asking how he’d gotten it. He mumbled, “Why do we humans make life so difficult for ourselves?” while his computer finished clearing its memory.
His fingers drummed on the desk top and he thought more about what this could mean for their future. His mind spun furiously. The northern facility could simply be a site for research with occasional occupancy by experimenters. But it wouldn’t take too much stretch of imagination to see it as a high grade bio-chem laboratory used to undertake exotic and forbidden research. He imagined a mechanized Ebola virus flitting about on a slide underneath some remotely operated electron microscope. This scenario wouldn’t pose an immediate problem to them being that they were on the other side of the Moon. And their world had no naturally occurring transport system like the water cycle on Earth so contamination would be unlikely. But its presence would certainly stop any fraternization attempts. “No tea at the Jones’ “, he said to himself and smiled. He would keep sleuthing on the Internet to get any more details. And, he had his teams on the ground who were similarly trying to prise out secrets regarding the northern stronghold. He sighed and closed this his mind to this avenue of thinking while wondering “Would it have been too much to have humans show a little greater tendency to cooperate?”
He let his mind swing back to life in their Hab. They kept making progress; achingly slow but indeed some progress toward self-sufficiency. Their prospecting for water had turned up enough water molecules to warrant its inclusion as an input to their water supply. Perhaps it was more symbolic than anything. But he saw Jean include it every month. And he was thinking that by drinking water from the Moon then they were actually becoming true-to-life residents. He was also liking Xu’s efforts to push their physical presence further and further outward from the Hab. If they were to map out all their footsteps onto their base contour map then they’d see a slowly expanding network of routes. In a few months they were expecting their first vehicle. It would be similar to lunar rovers used by the astronauts of the Apollo program but much more efficient and durable. With it they could expand their presence to almost 10km in every direction. This put an area of over 6000 hectares within their reach. It was a lot. Thankfully it didn’t reach anywhere near the northern pole. They were looking at ways to travel to the equatorial regions but that was as far as they expected to go for a very long time. Desai was feeling pretty good about their group’s future prospects.
Even with all this promise a frown slowly descended upon his face as he let his mind wander to the only sore point. He wanted his plan for them to stay in the Hab to become a reality. He continually got transfixed looking up at the wonders of the universe. Whether with his bare eye or using simple binoculars he could pick out so much detail. This heavenly kaleidoscope pushed his imagination to work in overdrive and he felt more and more ideas rush into his mind. He didn’t want to lose this. So while their group had always been planning to relocate their day to day living to the underground Haven, he had totally changed his mind on this. He wanted to stay in the Hab indefinitely even if he was on his own. Both Xu and Jean considered his desire as possible. Valentina was adamantly against it. She considered it important to focus upon one living quarters and to prioritize resupplies for this configuration. She would never sanction his desire. For Desai then, it had come down to this one issue. As she was the only one standing in the way. He knew that she had to go. He would certainly miss her. She had been a wonderful, even extraordinary partner in the evenings. And her ready honesty and openness certainly helped the team cohesion. But he was OK with living with the memory. He had pulled enough strings to have an executive position open up at the Lunar Colony Fund; their head organization on Earth. It was a perfect fit for Valentina. He knew it and he was making sure that she knew it. He’d all but gift wrapped the notice to her. With another tourist visit coming up soon, he felt that she’d jump at the opportunity. But what if she didn’t? He’d have to come up with some other plan and nothing had come to mind just yet.