Le chapitre 48
Desai was back on the trails with Woof. He despised the robotic dog. To him it was no more than an anachronism that linked him to caveman times. It certainly wasn’t an aid to facilitate his daily activities here on another world. He resisted an urge to kick it. The inner image of him doing so and of him watching the robot’s ensuing tumble along the surface did put a smile on his face.
“At least we don’t have to clean up dog excrement after it.” he wryly thought.
He shuffled along and Woof kept apace a few metres behind him.
“Perhaps it knows what I thought of it and for safety’s sake it stayed just out of kicking range” imagined Desai grinning quite liberally.
The smile did him good. Even with his plan to rebuild the Moon team coming to fruition, he felt uncomfortable. And the feeling was strengthening. With Valentina having delivered her exit-address the emotional ties between her and the three remaining seem to have strengthened. None of them wanted to see her go. Though for Desai it was an expedient necessity. With her departure now scheduled he wasn’t so sure he had made the best decision. Mostly what pulled on his mind was the concern about who would replace Valentina. He envisioned someone who would happily go along with his plan to live from the Hab above the surface while supporting the ever expanding capability for living underneath. He had been going through the list of possible replacements as much as the others. He laughed in unison with the others when Valentina proposed a Celtic soothsayer from the Baltic. Apparently that was the skillset offered by an early applicant to the Lunar Colony. Of course that was not a skill high on Desai’s list or anyone else’s. He had been looking carefully for someone who had the technical expertise of Valentina but without her managerial tendencies. He had tired of continually explaining and promoting the same plan like an old phonograph record. Skipping on the same track over and over again. His need was for a supporter, almost an acolyte, who would take up this marketing task. They would repeat the same mantra over and over again in the near-religious service dedicated to the fiscal oversight committee. He needed the help from a new colleague. But he knew that he couldn’t say this directly.
Xu was the coordinator and their lead. She would make the final recommendations to the Earth-based committee. And she would grant the final ascent to having any person join their team. She had made it a bit like having a person apply for citizenship to an Earth nation. With this, they were trying to elevate the status of their little colony to be on par with the nations of Earth. Hence, they could control the admittance of any potential residents.
This had been a perfect plan up until the time that the facility at the North Pole began taking shape. They still had no word of human occupation there. But they knew it was just a matter of time until some uninvited guest had the gumption to tell them that they were a resident of the Moon as well.
He could feel his smile start to droop. His steps had brought him up to the last of the short rises before the escarpment dropped off below. His visor had been displaying warnings from Woof for about the last 20 metres. While Desai knew the landscape and he could see a three dimensional contour map also imposed upon his visor, the warnings from his robot companion kept him alert. He was at the safest point to see the interior of the crater that centred the rim on which their habitat was placed. He paused and slowly panned his head from left to right, tracing out the complete circumference of the rim. On Earth he could imagine the bowl like region full of supplicants listening to him in rapt attention as he deigned upon them some new, wonderful program to advance their technology and increase their living standards.
“Who said megalomania wasn’t in my blood?” he thought. He could feel the smile again strengthen.
He turned a bit too quickly and caught Woof in a small shower of dust kicked up by his boots.
“Serves him right for being too close” Desai chuckled slightly to himself.
This brought Jean on the line asking “What’s so funny?”
“Just a little inside joke about raising clouds of dust” Desai replied.
It was a completely harmless event and similarly harmless reply but Jean wondered at what he heard. He knew that laughs come in all shapes and guises. Some quite harmless and warm while others quite chilling and vindictive. Desai’s laugh certainly wasn’t warm. He wasn’t even sure he wanted to ask for clarification. He thought that just as Xu had noted earlier, the four of them on the Moon seemed to have become a little more artificial in their relationship rather than the genuine warmth they had originally experienced.
“I wonder if that’s the consequence of living in their new environment? And thus there’s a need for a stronger expectation of survival? And for self-preservation” Jean thought.
He continued watching Desai via the radar monitor and to watch Desai’s head display as it got broadcast into the Hab. Perhaps this could be called voyeurism but here it was simply a safety measure. Jean took a slow, small sip of lunar water and let his mind wander while continuing to track Desai’s progress.