Le chapitre 49
Jean artfully maneuvered his space-sphere across the lunar landscape. He watched on the computer’s monitor as the Moon’s terrain unfolded beneath. Using a simple joystick, he flew the sphere in any direction. The lack of wind-resistance made the sphere fully, directly responsive to his controls. As long as he had enough fuel remaining to power the thrusters he could travel anywhere on the Moon’s surface.
Now, he was barrelling along Hadley Rille watching for any openings or ‘skylights’. If found, he would maneuver the sphere into the skylight and explore its length. He was searching for a new home, or maybe cottage. Some place to live. If the walls looked solid and the cross section large enough then it might be suitable. That is, he could find such a place if he did indeed have a sphere. However he only had the computer training station and an extremely high fidelity 3 dimensional map of the lunar surface. So he spent his time practicing on the simulator while awaiting the delivery of the space-sphere. He hoped that it would soon be in one of the next supply cargo ships from Earth.
The most fun he could have now was to find a skylight, fly the sphere into it and then have the monitor go black as there were no terrain data files for them. So far, he had a list of 24 skylights that warranted attention. He was chomping on the bit to get the sphere to them.
While working the joystick, he let his mind wander to the next cargo ship. It was to arrive in a couple of months. Much as the previous which had arrived a few weeks ago. He wondered for how long the supply ships would keep coming. He knew that a lot of people on Earth considered people on the Moon to be nothing more than a drain upon resources. They didn’t see any direct benefit or appreciate the indirect or long range potential. They had no dreams of garnering resources from the outer planets. They had no dreams to visit the Kuiper belt or send probes to far off stars. All they saw was the significant expense being incurred today.
They rationalized it against other priorities. Like saving another species from the brink of extinction. Or ridding the atmosphere of some volatile pathogen.
He also knew that all it would take would be a simple directive from their base command and the four of them would be winging their way back to Earth in less than 10 hours. The Habitation would be vacant. He didn’t believe such an eventuality would materialize. He had staked his future and even his life on the expectation that the Lunar Colony would continue to grow and flourish. But he also knew that they remained quite a distance from being self-sufficient.
Soon they would have enough solar collectors to maintain their primal needs in the Hab. If their water prospecting continued showing the success that it first had then they might be self-sufficient in water. Perhaps in many, many months.
But they did need food and vitamins. Their attempts at developing a food-cycle had met with limited success. Very limited.
Perhaps most of all they needed and wanted to share their existence with the people on Earth. As long as the people on Earth held them in a positive light then Jean believed that they would certainly go the distance and become a self-sufficient colony. If the interest flagged and changed to non-interest or even a slight amount of hostility then they were doomed. He knew that at this embryonic stage the people on the Moon had no choice but to placate and humour the Terrans. He wondered if he’d be around when the colonists finally did transition from dependents to full independence. He sighed as he watched the computer monitor show a wall slamming into the front of the iconic space-sphere . Firm evidence that he’d let his mind wander a bit too much again.
He kicked back from the console and looked for Desai. They were on their own as the both Valentina and Xu had headed outside. Sometimes Jean just needed to have a man-to-man talk. Their mission controller was often male. But Jean couldn’t really open up knowing that all conversations could be made available. He preferred talking directly whether using the private comms of the spacesuits or hushed voices in the Hab. He wandered over to where Desai was manipulating spreadsheets on a screen. He watched the columns and rows dance in a coloured, almost endearing, whirl. Then he sat down beside Desai.
“Did you get what you needed in the last supply ship?” he began.
“Yahh” Desai absently replied.
“What’s our reserve of food” he continued.
“You know it’s about 4 months” said Desai as he saved his spreadsheet and turned his full attention upon Jean. “Are you planning on going upon a feeding frenzy” he laughed.
“Not really” he replied with perhaps too much care placed upon each word. “I’m wondering what our chances are of staying here and becoming self-sufficient” he said almost wistfully.
Desai pondered a moment, saw the look of reflection in Jean’s eyes and reached out and grasped his shoulder. “Don’t you worry” he said. “We will be just fine here on the Moon and we will prosper and grow. There are a large number of extremely important people who’ve made it their interest to see that we succeed. And our success carries with it the success of our species. We will prevail. We must prevail!”
He wrapped his arms about Jean and gave him a very warm kiss. They both got up and walked away from the computer table so that they could adequately address Jean’s concerns.