Le chapitre 51
With heavy heart Valentina walked up the ladder and into the emergency return vehicle. She was heading home. Back to Earth. Of late, emotions had been flowing out of her like bees disturbed out of their hive. Sometimes pleasant. Too often more like a painful sting. They distracted her. Ruined her focus on the job at hand. She was glad that it was coming to an end. While she guessed that her recent general malaise and discontent stemmed from the departure, she was sometimes surprised at her own actions. She characterized herself as being supportive and caring, always ready to find that win-win opportunity. But lately she was anything but nurturing. Somehow all the negative moments from years gone by had surfaced into her memory. Gone were the memories of pleasant days, the shared meals, the mutual experience of accomplishment. In their place was a feeling of inadequacy. If only the Hab was safer on the Moon’s surface. If only the robotic drill hadn’t pierced her suit and lacerated her leg. If only her fellow residents would see things as she did. If only she weren’t flying back to Earth with such a feeling of defeat. All these thoughts joined her as she took her last few steps upon the lunar surface. Once inside the vehicle she would join with Brahindra in the cockpit. Serving as the co-pilot to begin the preparation for the journey back.
In contrast to Valentina’s mood inside the Hab a jovial celebration welcomed two new residents; Zara and Aditya. These two had been seen as long shots given their backgrounds. Zara haled from Brisbane, had an atrocious accent when she wanted and was stricken with wanderlust so hard that everyone had expected her to be the first solo resident of Mars. Here on the Moon she would be their geologist and chemical specialist. Aditya on the other hand came from Calcutta. He had grown up in despair and misery. And yet he flourished. He was the kindest, most jovial nurse practitioner you’d ever meet. His was the way of calm nurturing. He saw value in the group over any individual’s traits and wishes. He could help solve your problem in such a way that you felt like you had arrived at the solution all on your own. And he was there to help you see it through. He was also the gamesman. He loved Pachisi. Was a tad cruel at chess. And he could hold his own at Mahjong. Both these strong individuals should add greatly to the society growing on the Moon. Also the two new Hab dwellers had been active in the Lunar Colony Fund for many years and had remained strong supporters even during some of the darker days. So, they were fully aware of the importance of their presence as well as the expectations of their actions. Their dedication knew no bounds. Starting today with the five together in the Hab jocularity and comradery flowed throughout.
While Valentina felt she was missing out on the festivities her calculating side saw many positives. Firstly with an odd number of residents than any decision making that came to voting should find a solution that unlikely resulted in stalemate. This harboured well for the future as it installed in the colonists a trust of democracy and equality. While everyone was pleased with how Xu maintained and grew their community there was a need to continue promoting equality. The harsh environment made everyone’s actions so vitally important that had to believe in equality. Secondly the Hab and surroundings had proven themselves as ‘safe enough’ to allow for adding another resident. This boded well for their preliminary installation on the Moon; their main living quarters, their support facilities. It also spoke warmly of their nascent success at using in-situ resources. Their lack of significant physical trauma, aside from Valentina’s accident, enhanced the feeling of security. Given this, Valentina was very supportive of the decision from Earth with replacing here with two people. And given that she was moving into a management position that was orchestrating further build-up she was feeling quite the festivities.
She helped Brahindra with the flight check-out. With only the two of them inside it was almost spacious in the emergency return vehicle. The vehicle was designed to quickly and safely bring the four original colonists back to Earth if a calamity struck. It was too small for the five current residents so a new vehicle that seated six people safely had been used to ferry the new inhabitants. It was the new emergency return vehicle. She could see it sitting on the surface just a short distance away. It looked odd with its large convex, ablative heat shield. All told it was something like the shape of a drop of water. But its four skinny little stick-like legs gave it the image of an alien insect ready to prance around the lunarscape. She let out a soft heart-felt sigh as she took one last look at the place that had been her home for not nearly long enough. Though she had accepted returning to Earth she knew that her spirit would remain on the lunar surface with her colleagues and she would do whatever she could to further their chances of a long prosperous life on the Moon. She settled in to her seat as she began to feel the old emergency return vehicle come to life; pumps whirring, screens displaying messages and voices filling her headset.